Black and White Medieval Architecture

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Ledbury Market House, 1617

One of our favorite architecture types is the wonkie Black and White buildings with the heavy oak timber frames and the daub and wattle white walls. These homes and businesses date from as early as the 1100s and are located anywhere hard woods grow. Germany has the most. While the aristocracy used stone and brick, the wealthy merchant class used oak and lime-washed plaster. There is a concentration of this half-timbering Tudor architecture in the area of England we visited in September.

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Rose & Crown Pub, down an alley in Ludlow

In the midland countries, Ludlow and Ledbury are communities of well-preserved beauty filled with the black and white-washed buildings built in the 1400 through 1600s. We wandered around both, snapping photos and admiring their structures. We were lucky enough to visit several. Once inside, the ceilings seem low and the exposed beams, which are attached with pegs, not nails, still show the master craftsmen marks.

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Butcher Row House Museum, Ledbury

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Church House, Ledbury

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Church Lane, Ledbury

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Church Lane, Ledbury

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Prince of Wales Free House, Church Lane, Ledbury

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Ledbury’s Ice Cream

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Newly built in 1656!

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Broad Street, Ludlow

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Ludlow

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Private home in Ledbury

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Ye Old Bull Ring Tavern, Ludlow

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Shops in Ludlow

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Ludlow residence

This is the fourth blog on our September trip.

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Tintern Abbey, England’s Early Tourist Destination

Paris’ Eiffel Tower is close to being the #1 tourist destination in the world. Why is that? I think it’s because of everyone’s photos. We’ve all seen the photos: we’ve seen it on all forms of media since we were little. It’s been marketed to us and we all want to go there.

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Philip playing tourist at Tintern Abbey in Wales.

Seeking historical and cultural destinations, like at Greece and Rome, has been happening for millenniums. Sightseeing with the needed infrastructure and commercial development may have started at the River Wye which divides England and Wales, and its lower river valley. At least, they lay claim to it.

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The great church at Tintern Abbey. The monks used to rise at 2 a.m. to attend services and start their day.

The first purchased holiday excursions were sold to tourists visiting the Wye River valley and its romantic sites and picturesque scenic views. Buy a boat trip, bring a picnic hamper and see some fabulous ruins. One such romantic ruin was Tintern Abbey. Tintern is situated right on the Wye River, on the Welsh side of the river. A ruin since September 3, 1536 when Henry VIII dissolved it when he broke from the Roman Catholic Church. By the 1600s, the area was attracting poets, artists and travelers and, during the Napoleonic Wars when the aristocracy could not tour the continent, they stayed closer to home and visited Tintern Abbey.

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The front door of the ruined church.

Poets were captivated by the ruins, including Wordsworth and Tennyson. They, along with their peers, wrote poems and stories. Artists, such as JMW Turner in 1792, painted the romantic ruins. The books, articles, engravings, paintings sold the general public that this place needed to be visited to be appreciated in the Georgian and Victorian eras. By 1850, over twenty guidebooks had been published, establishing the Wye Valley as the birthplace of modern British tourism.

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The stairs and door that the monks used between the church and their dormitory.

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2019Tintern008And here we were, in 2019, still coming to Tintern Abbey. The abbey is one of best relics of Britain’s monastic age. The abbey was founded in 1131 by the Cistercians. They came from France and set up their abbey in a bend of the Wye River. The great church building began in 1269 and although it’s roofless now, it is still a spiritual place built in an early English Gothic style. We wandered around the grounds, gazing up at the windows and tripping over the foundations of various buildings and houses where the monks and lay-brothers built their community.

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Looking at the church from the kitchens.

2019Tintern009It was worth a visit; however, we would rate Fountains Abbey, in North Yorkshire higher.

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Philip playing Hercules. 

This is the third blog about our September 2019 buying trip. Thanks for reading.

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A Holy Well

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St. Winifred’s holy site. The fence surrounds the bathing location. The windows above is the chapel. The church on the upper left is not part of the site.

A story, a myth and stones that have outlasted time.

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Just off the plane, Philip’s been awake for awhile.

Sometimes, we jump down a rabbit hole and connect dots that lie in our shared interests. During our research on places to visit in the north of Wales, we found the town of Holywell and St. Winifred’s Well. It was on our route to a castle, it had an interesting past, ties to Tudors, and was featured in a Brother Cadfael television mystery show. We were hooked and decided to head there on our September buying trip.

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The original bathing area with the spring bubbling up.

Holywell has been a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site for over 1300 years. There is an active spring that flows into a holy bathing pool, a shrine for believers, and a historical chapel. While we were there to check out the story and history, others were there as pilgrims to ask for prayers, light candles and lay flowers at the statues. We were there early morning, so no one was bathing in the holy water pool, which is outside in the elements.

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St. Winifred was Welsh and, according to legend, was martyred in the 600s. Her story grew and had a mass following when in the 12th century, her story was first written down and shared with English Catholics. According to legend, Winifred was beheaded when she rejected a local Welsh prince. A spring burst from the ground where her head fell. Her uncle restored her to life, by returning her head to her body. He also became a saint.

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The ceiling above the spring and below the upper chapel.

The healing waters are believed to cure ailments and stacks of canes are left at the site. The well is known as “the Lourdes of Wales” and people from around the world travel there. Queen Victoria and her Uncle Leopold visited there in 1828 before she was queen. Richard I visited in 1189 to pray for a successful crusade. A small museum tells the history of the site. Nowadays, people bath in the water, drink the water and take it home with them. Pretty sure it has a lot of lead in it, since the area is known for lead mining.

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Above the well, is a delightful medieval chapel, said to have been paid for by Lady Margaret Beaufort (grandmother of Henry VIII) in the late 1400s. It is built as an upper chapel on the side of the natural incline, so you leave the site, walk up a hill and enter the chapel from above. Interesting that later, King Henry VIII would have the site closed and the saintly relics destroyed when he officially broke from the Roman Catholic Church and confiscated their money and lands.

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As just to come full circle. We pay for subscriptions to both Acorn TV and BritBox, so we can watch British television shows. Cadfael is a 1990s mystery show based a series of historical murder mysteries books. It stars Derek Jacobi as the detective. Series 2 episode 3 was titled “A Morbid Taste for Bones” and concerned the remains of martyred St. Winifred. So, of course, we watched it!

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The Tudor Chapel.

We loved the architecture, and, even though we didn’t “take the waters,” it was a good start to our buying trip/vacation. We definitely had a blessed trip.

This is the second blog on our September 2019 trip. Thanks for reading. Up next, Tintern Abbey.

 

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Eight Castles in Nine Days

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The view from the Castlebank Hotel in Conwy Wales, looking towards the castle.

We headed to Wales in September for our fall antiques buying trip. Wales is part of the United Kingdom and is located on the western side of England. We were in Wales forty years ago and we remembered basically nothing about it. This time, we combined the hunt for antiques with some sightseeing along the north coast, along the border between the two countries and then in the south of Wales.

We chose Wales because #1 we hadn’t shopped there before and #2 Wales has the most castles per area that any place on the planet. In general, castles have dominated England and Wales for 1000 years. We are fascinated by castles. On this trip, we visited eight in nine days. It was overkill, but worth it. Thankfully, our knees held up. The castles we visited were mostly built as conquest castles. Some were built on previous earth and wood castles on mounds, but what we wanted to see were the ones which began as a central great tower (keep) and expanded with stone walls, gates and towers.

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Rhuddlan Castle outside one set of walls. The gatehouse is on the right.

We were barely off the plane when we visited Rhuddlan, in northern Wales. Rhuddlan Castle is an empty shell, only some walls and parts of towers remain; however, it gave us a romanticized vision that travellers have searched for in the past. Perched above a river and overlooking a valley, we saw the advantage that King Edward I needed to gain control over the Welsh when he ordered the castle built in 1277. It was designed with rings of walls within walls. Stone robbers had left the ruins with major gaping holes, but you could use your imagination based on the footprint of what remained. It was picturesque and a starting point for our castle mission.

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Remains of a staircase in Rhuddlan Castle.

Conwy is where we stayed on the north coast. Conveniently, it too had a castle. The castle in Conwy is located at the entrance to the town and perched high on a stone bluff above an estuary of the Conwy River. It was the first of the defensive castles built by King Edward 1 to control the uncontrollable Welsh princes and their peeps. Conwy was a garrison town and has some of the highest and best medieval town walls in Britain. The castle took four years to build and was protection for the English who lived surrounded by the Welsh. King Edward I of England added Wales to his English kingdom during his reign and built conquest castles to demonstrate the might of the English. Slightly ruined inside, but the 18 towers are still impressive. A beautiful castle with walls still remaining where the royal apartments were located. It’s easy to stand on the battlements and look out to sea in one direction and the great Snowdonia Mountains the other. Our favorite. Go here!

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Conwy Castle from the town.

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From the top of the battlements of Conwy Castle.

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Another view of Conwy Castle.

Caernarfon was our third castle in three days and we were starting to dread another dark tight spiral staircase. Or at least our knees were! But we were impressed. Caernarfon was another of the military castles built by King Edward 1 and it is still massive, although a ruin, it still has its double interior walls and arrow loop windows for crossbows. It was here that Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in July 1969. Construction of the castle began in 1283, and it is still owned by Her Majesty the Queen. It was modeled after building decoration of Constantinople and it’s colossal.

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Interior of Caernarfon Castle. It was huge.

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The concrete disk is where Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales.

Up next was Powis Castle, located a third of the way down on our trip south. It is the seat of the Earl of Powis and is known for its landscaped terraces and gardens. Unlike the previous three castles, this one was built by a Welsh prince in the 1200s to demonstrate the wealth and power of the Welsh. Parts of the original castle exists at the entrance and is incorporated into the grand country mansion. This was a family home that started as a medieval castle and grew outward and even Queen Victoria came here for a tour in 1832 when she was a child.

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The oldest portion of Powis Castle.

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A wonderful bedroom in Powis Castle.

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The view from Powis Castle, overlooking the landscaping.

We passed several castles as we traveled south, but passed them by so we could do some antique shopping. After we dropped our bags at our hotel in Ross-on-Wye, we visited Chepstow Castle on the southern coast of Wales. Chepstow is the oldest of the castles we visited. Built in 1067, right after the 1066 Norman Conquest of England, it protected the River Wye and extended the Norman power westward. The original portion of the current ruins is a rectangular two story keep high on a ridge above the river. Curtain walls were added, as were towers and gatehouses.

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Chepstow Castle in the south of Wales.

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The main keep of Chepstow Castle.

Goodrich Castle was quite close to our southern base and we’ll cover it in a separate post.

On our last day, we fit in two castles. Ludlow and Stokesay. After shopping and more shopping, we were running out of time as we headed back towards Manchester. Luckily, Ludlow Castle and Stokesay Castle are about 20 minutes apart by car.

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The gatehouse of Ludlow Castle.

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Ludlow Castle, from the outside.

Ludlow Castle is located high above, you guessed didn’t you?, a river! It is also a ruin. It was started around 1075, as part of the Norman castles building spree. It is set on 5 acres at the edge of one of the most beautiful towns in England. The castle has a lot of history associated with the War of the Roses, the Tudors and the children of Henry VIII. It served as a Royal Palace when the two sons of Edward IV lived there. Later, they would be sent to the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard III and disappeared.

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Stokesay Castle, from outside the walls.

Stokesay Castle was our last castle of the trip. Despite its name, Stokesay is a fortified Manor House began in the 1270s. It was owned by a wealthy wool merchant who made his money selling wool throughout Europe. He built the castle to look much older than it was. In order to build the fortification, he needed approval from the crown. It had a moat, but thin walls and large open windows, which were covered by shutters in bad weather. It would not have withstood an attack. The wood rafters and the Elizabethan gatehouse made the visit worthwhile.

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The old beams in the main hall of Stokesay Castle.

Out of the over 190 open-to-tour castles in Britain, we’ve seen only 23 of them. Altogether, there’s probably 800 or so castles in England and Wales. Sigh. Luckily, we have more trips planned!

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The Stokesay Castle gatehouse.

First of seven posts on our September 2019 trip. Thanks for reading!

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The Iron Tour

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Welcome to Walnut!

Over Father’s Day weekend, we attended the AMVets Walnut Iowa Antique Show.

Located between Council Bluffs and Des Moines Iowa, just south of Interstate 80. Walnut is a small tidy farm town with an updated Main Street. The Antique show is under the direction of the AMVets and is a mix of outside pitches lining two long streets that run the length of the town and a few inside halls. An added plus is that the town has many antique stores and vintage malls.

The show is held every Father’s Day weekend and is advertised to have over 500 dealers. We went because it’s one of the top antique shows in America according to the Country Living magazine. And it’s only 6.5 hours from Springfield.

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Outside pitches.

We arrived at the show on Friday at 8 a.m. and hearty shopping was already going on. The weather cooperated and we were able to shop until the crowds thinned, about 4:30 p.m. We bought well for the store. We returned on Saturday morning for a couple of more hours, so that, we could shop the local stores.

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Philip inspecting a possibility.

Okay, so these weren’t English or European antiques, but we weren’t able to shop in England this past spring (new grand baby!!). Regardless of where we shop, we are always on the lookout for something different, something with a story.

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Some of the iron treasures.

Most of what we bought was iron. Lots of interesting gadgets and tools. Heavy iron. Enough to build an Iron Throne. We also bought lots of holiday items, including vintage Christmas (these will be out later in the year). We were happy with our purchases.

Charming town. Good show. New inventory.!!!

 

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Before Water Taps

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Pearson & Co Improved Water Filter Chesterfield.

We take piped water for granted. Turn on a tap and there it is. But it wasn’t always that easy.

Where did the drinking water come from before cities had water systems? Rain barrels, shallow wells, a spigot in the center of town, or if you were lucky, you lived near a spring. Even with water available, it was contaminated. It had to be boiled before consumed.

Thus, the ceramic water filter came into use in the 1830s. The water filters were made by the potteries in England. The system was fairly simple. It used gravity to move the poured water through a filter made of charcoal, clay or sand to remove pollution and bacteria. A spigot at the bottom of the filter would dispense the water.

In manor houses, servants would pour water into a free-standing decorative stoneware filter.  The large crock would be located in the kitchen area and then, the clean water would be dispersed through the house in pitchers. The water filter crock would improve the water clarity, remove smells and improve the taste. To make the water taste even better, the servants would pour the water from pitcher to pitcher in an attempt to add air to the heavy water.

If you watch English period dramas, you’re sure to see them in the “downstairs” area.

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Dining at Pauline’s

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Dining under the chandelier.

If you’ve been on a cruise, you know all the ins and outs of shore excursions. Some are wonderful, some thrilling and some are boring as hell and you should have stayed on the ship. Viking Ocean cruises does shore excursions better than most and one area that they excel in is providing first-class opportunities in dining.

One of the shore excursions we paid for on our February cruise was an all-day Art Treasures tour in Florence, Italy. We wanted to see Michelangelo’s David and take in the Renaissance world of art and legacy of Florence. When you take an all-day tour, lunch is usually included.

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Your carriage may come in.

We had done an all-day tour (actually a two-day tour) in St. Petersburg, Russia with Viking Ocean cruises and had wonderful lunches on both days. The Florence tour’s lunch was exceptionally good for several different reasons.

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The Family Crest on the ground floor.

First, the location was the spectacular Palazzo Borghese of Florence. Built in the 1400’s, it takes up an entire city block. It is an important neoclassical palace. You enter on the ground floor in a room that could easily accommodate a carriage. A couple of statues and an eminence staircase. The first floor is full of lounges and large public rooms. This is how they lived in rooms full of chandeliers and mirrors, each room a different color, but trimmed in gold.

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A salon.

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Gold everywhere!

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Just a small wall sconce.

Second, we were dining in history. As stated, it was built in the 1400’s for the Salviati Family, but it was the Borghese Family that left their mark on history. Prince Camilo Borghese, the 6th Prince of Sulmona was married to the sister of Napoleon. Yes, that Napoleon. Pauline Bonaparte. She was a younger sister to the first Emperor of the French and she lived for a short time at the Palazzo Borghese. The marriage did not last, but the palace survives.

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Dining Room set for Viking guests.

And last, but not unimportant, the actual dining experience. We sat in a beautiful room and were served a four-course meal. Relaxing and the wine flowed. We had the best lasagna ever! Big tabby cat Garfield would have never left. The chandeliers sparkled and lit up the splendor of the room.

We reluctantly left the palace, but still had the Uffizi Gallery to tour, with it’s galleries full of masterpieces by da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and many others.

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A majestic Florence dining room with a Missouri tourist.

Side note.

Because inquiring minds want to know: 1. Bathrooms were also exceptional and 2. Rotary meets there!

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Antique cupboard used as a liquor cabinet.

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Stepping Back in Time

We cruised the Mediterranean in February and managed to do a little antiquing along the way. Mostly, we were on vacation and picked a Viking Ocean cruise to go where we hadn’t been before. We visited five countries: Greece, Italy, Monaco, France and Spain. Although, we’ve been to France three times, we hadn’t been to southern France. We were gone 16 days, but it felt a lot longer, since we went way back in history.

In this blog post, we’ll share some of the early historical sights we visited. Starting with those furthest back on a timeline. We saw statues after statues, rocks after rocks, walls after walls, art after art. From sunrise to sunset, we were out exploring.

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Old Venetian Harbour of Chania. Built 1320–1356 by the Venetians, this busy harbor includes a restored lighthouse, shops & eateries.

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Wandering through the streets of Chania, Crete, Greece.

First up is Crete, where the Minoan civilization lived on the island south of the Greece mainland. This pre-Greek world was from 2000-1400 BC. You might remember the Minoans from the story of the Minotaur, half bull and half man, in Greek legends. We visited Chania, a port city on the island of Crete, which is part of Greece.

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Our first view of Athens Acropolis.

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The Parthenon in Athens.

Following the disappearance of the Minoan civilization, the Greeks came to the forefront. The start of the boom of art, architecture and philosophy began in 1000 BC. We climbed the 80+ steps to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Towering above the city of Athens, some of the Parthenon and various temples still stand.

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The Philippeion, Olympia, a monument dedicated to Zeus.

Philip’s favorite stop on the trip was the visit to Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in 776 BC. Here, we walked among the remains of the temples, training facilities and in the stadium. People in the ancient world would walk for up to 3 months to attend the games. We were there for three hours.

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The ancient theatre of Taormina Italy.

Theresa’s favorite stop was Taormina Italy, a hillside village on the island of Sicily, in the shadow of Mt. Etna, an active volcano. Here, we climbed to the Greek Theater, which was built in the 3rd century BC. Perched on the side of a cliff, it overlooks the Ionian Sea. Greek plays were performed here, as were Roman plays, and it’s still operating as a concert venue!

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The massive Colosseum in Rome.

When in Rome, we had a chance to see the Coliseum, built in 70 AD and the Circus Maximus, where the chariot races were held.

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Herculaneum Italy destroyed in 79 AD, now an archaeological site similar to Pompeii.

In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum, near Naples. We chose to visit Herculaneum, an upper-class seafront town which was also destroyed by the great eruption. People instantly baked with temperatures above 450 degrees F. The buildings were better preserved than Pompeii because Herculaneum was covered in mud, not burning ash.

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The tower of Pisa (or Leaning Tower), situated in Piazza dei Miracoli together with the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Pisa. Started in 1000s, the church, the Baptistry, and the leaning tower are quite wonderful. Everyone knows about the leaning bell tower, which used to lean one way and now leans another, but we were more impressed with the Baptistry. People had to be baptized in the Baptistry before they could enter the church. One guide stood in the center of the marble round building and sang a few notes, and the sound echoed so much that it seemed that a choir was singing.

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Carcassonne, France. Narbonne Gate entrance into the fortified city.

Now, we’re up to the Middle Ages and we visited Carcassonne from the 1200s in France. Philip is interested in all things Knights Templar and wanted to visit the town where the Cathars were wiped out. Carcassonne is a double-walled village, with a castle and a cathedral and small winding streets. There’s a legend of Templar gold buried under the castle.

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A model of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon France.

Avignon, France is the town that served as the 14th century home of the popes, when according to history, it was unsafe for them to reside in Rome, due to civil unrest.

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Ceiling of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Once owned by the powerful Medicis. The East Corridor ceilings were frescoed in 1580-81 by Alessandro Allori

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The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy. There are shops built on the bridge.

The Renaissance occurred in Italy following the Dark Ages and a vast number of artists and sculptors created religious treasures, which are housed in Florence. We got to see Michelangelo’s David.

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St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

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The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo is a fortress next to the Vatican. Built in 123-139 AD.

We figured we’d be back in Rome one day, so we chose to spend most of our time in Rome at the Vatican, the country within the city of Rome. It was like walking onto a movie set, in particularly, Angels and Demons. The Basilica was built on St. Peter’s grave in the 4th century, but the Vatican didn’t become a city-state until 1929.

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Casino de Monte-Carlo. Opened in 1863.

Monte Carlo was lucky, at least for Theresa, who made some money at the Grand Casino. But, alas, did not see James Bond. Perched on a cliff, the small country is very compact and has elevators and escalators to take you up through the city.

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An interior photo of La Sagrada Familia Catholic Cathedral in Barcelona.

We ended our cruise in Barcelona, where we took a Gaudi Architecture Tour that visited some of his design projects; including, a park and the cathedral. He was active in the 1870s until his untimely death in 1926.

We did a bit of antique shopping because we always go antiquing wherever we travel. Our spring shopping trip was canceled due to the arrival of our newest family member, a baby girl born to our daughter and son-in-law.

Thanks for following along on our adventures. For more photos, check out our Instagram page.

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We open at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, December 1,2018!

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Thanksgiving Weekend Hours

Friday, November 23: 10:00-5:30

Saturday, November 24: 10:00-4:30

Sunday, November 25: Closed

Monday, November 26: Closed

Tuesday, November 27: 11:00-4:30

Wednesday, November 28: 10:30-5:30

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