Human Skulls and Bones Cover a Portuguese Chapel’s Interior

“What are we going to do with all these bones?” Sixteenth century Franciscan friars must have asked themselves this challenging question once the bones were dug up from cemeteries and local churchyards throughout Évora, Portugal. The bones and skulls of thousands of dearly departed must have created quite a huge pile. How did this situation come to be? And why here? A look at Évora’s history reveals the answers.

The Spring Garden Pops with Chartreuse

Six different species of chartreuse plants glow in the garden right now: a small tree, a shrub, two perennials, and two ground covers. Altogether, they make the garden pop. Each one attracts the visitor’s attention to admire its form, distinctive leaves, and in some cases, dramatic flowers. They brighten spaces, and by their presence, highlight their more subtle plant neighbors.

Getting from Here to There: Shakedown in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Just over two years later Rick and I joined Eva and Suresh, our Indian travel pals, for a month in their home country, including a nine-day visit in the middle of the journey to the island country of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), located off the southern tip of the subcontinent to the east. Aware of the 30-day restriction for re-entering the country, we visited the Indian Embassy in New York City a month before our U.S. departure

How to Choose a Local Travel Agency

When we pack our bags and hit the trail, Rick and I enjoy traveling by ourselves, or sometimes with longtime travel buddies Eva and Suresh. A lot of preparation goes into a travel adventure long before we board the plane. On trips to destinations that are culturally more familiar, like North America and most of Europe, we do our own trip planning––what to see, how to get there, and where to sleep. In non-Western countries, private tour companies provide us with professional

Three Stunning Churches Exemplify the Byzantine Painted Monasteries of Romania

Moldovita Church shows off its exterior Biblical murals

Bucovina is the home of eight fifteenth and sixteenth century UNESCO World Heritage Painted Monasteries, collectively considered one of the world’s great Byzantine art treasures. Richly colored graphic scenes of dramatic Biblical events and the holy men, angels, and demons who oversaw them decorate both their interior and exterior walls and ceilings. Priests intended these scenes, here and at all the monasteries, to scare the wits out of illiterate villagers, inspiring them to lead pious lives.

El Peñol Erupts from Colombia’s Landscape

El Peñol thrusts itself into my vision, a regal mountain of granite standing alone on the horizon.

El Peñol, a 656-foot granite rock, juts out of the earth. No ordinary rock, El Peñol, a Colombian National Monument, attracts thousands of people daily, many who climb the 708 steps for spectacular views of the region. On its top, vendors sell handicrafts, trinkets, and tee-shirts. One pays for the privilege of experiencing a panorama of the countryside with about a five-dollar admission fee at the bottom of the stairs.

Guatapé, Colombia Embodies an Explosion of a Crayola Crayons Box

Originally a farming town, Guatapé’s future changed forever with the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the 1970s that catapulted the town’s importance as the chief electric production center in the country. The dam created an endless network of interconnecting lakes, with hotels, exclusive homes, marinas and other recreational facilities. At the same time, it secured Guatapé’s prominence as a tourist destination.

From Colombia to the Philadelphia Flower Show: An Industry is Blossoming

Our first morning in Colombia. We arrived in Bogotá yesterday late afternoon, and we’re ready to explore this capital city with our guide Tomás Vargas. Eleven-and-a- half million metropolitan residents fill an eastern Andean plateau at an 8600-foot elevation, and oxygen-sparce air challenges breathing for us sea level dwellers. Our driver deposits the three of us at the entrance to Paloquemao Market.

“The Clark” and Mass MoCA––Two Outstanding Art Institutions Along the Mohawk Trail

After Olana, we headed east on NY-Route 66 towards Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains to peep at the changing leaves of the deciduous forests. I covered that extraordinary experience at the beginning of this series. We didn’t expect to also enjoy impressive and provocative art as well at two lauded art institutions along MA-Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail.

Olana State Historical Site Captures America’s Idyllic Nineteenth Century

After spending time with the Roosevelts in the early mid-twentieth century, the next day we drove north along the Hudson River and stepped back further in time to the mid-1800s at Olana State Historic Site.
I confess I wasn’t familiar with the Hudson River School art movement before this trip. Yet the river’s mist that envelopes the Hudson Valley’s towns, vistas, and historic places, especially in the evening or after a rainfall, evokes the dream-like landscapes created by artists of

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