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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ravenna by margot Justes




Ravenna, is the capital of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy.

Once upon a time, it was also the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until the collapse in 476. Ravenna was conquered by the  Byzantine Empire in 540. Ravenna’s history is rich in conquests, architecture, literature and music. The history is immense, and many books are available on the subject.

The town survived many wars, conquests and occupations. Ravenna was ruled by Venice from about 1440 until 1509. Sacked by the French in 1512, followed by another short conquest by Venice from 1527 to 1529. That is just a smattering of the incredible history.

The history is rich and convoluted, and even World War II did little damage. The preservation of the town is astounding, and it truly is an amazing place to see.

The buildings are steeped in age, and you get an incredible sense of history when you walk the narrow, cobbled streets, or even stop in a modern cafe that is housed in an ancient building.

For me, a coffee stop is the rigueur to get a sense of the city. In Italy an espresso is gulped down quickly while standing. I prefer to savor mine while I sit and observe the locals. There is a higher fee for the coffee if you sit down. I’m a tourist, I sit and sip. But I digress...

Ravenna is a photographer’s paradise. It is a walking city, and every street, building, cobblestone is a treasure. Eight of UNESCO’s Heritage Sites are found in Ravenna, from churches, to a mausoleum, to basilicas and a baptistry. The sites dated from 430 to 549.

Notable writers like Byron, Hesse, Wilde, T.S. Elliot  and Dante wrote about Ravenna in one way or another.

There is an annual Ravenna Music Festival, Operas held at the Teatro Alighieri, something for everyone. Ravenna is rich in cultural history, and even Chicago has a classical link to Ravenna. Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s director Ricardo Muti, is a longtime resident of Ravenna.

Cruising allows you to see a bit of a place, and most likely I would never have seen Ravenna otherwise. I’m grateful to have seen even a little.  



Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


Saturday, January 18, 2014

A bit of the Caribbean Warmth by Margot Justes Redux




It’s bitter cold in Chicago, and time for a bit of the Caribbean warmth. The shimmering waters, the sparkly sand warm under your feet, and the sheer delight of relaxation. The ‘ah’ moment to take a breath and savor every second.

It’s no secret I love to cruise, and soon I’ll find myself in the Southern Caribbean. The sightseeing is vastly different from the European visits.  

I prefer cruising, because you stop in distinctive places; the islands are close, but each one is unique, and fun to visit. The locals are friendly, and always ready with a smile.

The Caribbean is more accessible from the US, and second, the pace is far more relaxed.  A perfect vacation, to get away from the stress of our daily routine, and get into the palm trees, beach and sand frame of mind. It is not rushed, does not possess the ‘I have to see everything because I don’t know if I’ll ever be back’ feeling. You can visit at your leisure because you just might be back.

Okay I’m not a beach baby, and I must have something else to see and do, have no fear it’s there as well.

If you find yourself in St. Thomas, there is Blackbeard’s Castle, with a tower thrown in for good measure. For those that climb all the way up, they can, on the way down stop in the Rum Blending & Bottling facility. Not only can you watch as the rum is blended and bottled, you can sample the brew and buy a few bottles, and they’ll deliver directly to the ship. How is that for convenience?

Once you’ve satisfied your thirst-after all the climb up the tower is arduous-you can visit the amber museum. Along the way you’ll find a magnificent amber waterfall, it is not to be missed. The water shimmers along the various golden hues of the amber, and the effect is a feast for the eyes. There is a gift shop where you can find some unique and original amber pieces.

The history of the castle is fascinating, thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended. Every island has something unique to offer.

That is just one stop on the itinerary. Cruising is not that expensive, when you consider that it is a floating all inclusive hotel. The cabin, food, gym, and the entertainment is included; alcohol is not. There are advertised specials, and inside cabins are usually well priced. You spend little time in those cubby holes, but if you can afford it, a veranda is a delightful upgrade. Sometimes, the cruise ship might upgrade your cabin level. So far I have found that upgrade to be rather elusive.

Blood Art Goodreads giveaway is still going on.
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/77996-blood-art

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dubrovnik by Margot Justes




Dubrovnik is one of those historical cities, where you could wonder about, and happily get lost in. A walled city in Croatia, on the Dalmatian Coast it is aptly called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’.  Dubrovnik dates back to early 7th century. Formed by refugees who named it Laus: from the Latin lausa meaning rock.

From the time of Dubrovnik’s formal creation by the Slavs, who called it Dubrovnik, from the Croatian word dubrava (rock), the town was protected by Byzantine Empire, and after the Fourth Crusade, controlled by the all powerful sovereignty of Venice, and became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom, and everything in between. The history is as rich as it is varied. 

Rock as a basis for a name is appropriate for the city. It is a perfect sample of a well preserved and designed late-medieval walled city. Just walking through the narrow, meandering streets surrounded by stone everywhere you turn, gives you a sense of history.

The city was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1667, but many of the beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, fountains and palaces remained intact. More damaged occurred in the 1990s due to military conflicts, but there is an ongoing restoration program sponsored by UNESCO; it has been one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

The main square in old town is a gathering spot for locals and tourists, along with a church, bell tower, a palace, it is also filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, and coffee houses-they serve an excellent cup of the brew-it is indeed a tourist delight. Our tour guide spoke of the tremendous amount of pride the Croatian people hold for Dubrovnik, and reverence for their history, and survival.  

Dubrovnik is incredibly picturesque, and for a short blog best described through photography. Well worth a visit, and spending a day was certainly not enough, but it was enough to  let me know I need to go back.

There is a Blood Art giveaway going on now on Goodreads... https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/77996-blood-art

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com