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Forestiere Underground Gardens - Updated

Winter Bedroom In 1901 a young Sicilian immigrant named Baldassare Forestiere arrived in Boston with a dream of becoming a citrus grower. He found a job as a subway digger until 1905 when he bought 85 acres of land in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Alas the land he bought turned out to be hardpan so his dream ended there. But being an enterprising man, he worked during his spare time to build a home for himself below the ground where it was mercifully cooler.  Forty years later, he had transformed this subterranean abode into comfortable quarters for himself and planted fruit bearing trees on 10 acres of his land. Passageway Summer bedroom This room has a window overlooking a private courtyard which allowed air to circulate and kept the room cool. Baldassare built this alcove above ground to keep the moisture off his bed. Outdoor Victorian tub Baldassare took a warm bath in this courtyard. The water was supplied by a metal tank above ground and connected by means of a hose. Thes
Recent posts

Jiufen Old Street Treats

Jiufen Jiufen was once called the Golden City. It was a gold mining town in the 1890s. When gold mining declined, so did the town. Jiufen was rediscovered in 1989 when a movie, A City of Sadness, was filmed here. A 2001 Japanese animé film, Spirited Away, captivated Japanese audiences for its locale which resembles Jiufen.  Japanese tourists came and cemented Jiufen’s place as one of the top attractions of Taiwan.  Yin Yang Sea in the distance Jiufen Old Street Old Street is a long, narrow street that slopes uphill. It can be quite crowded because this is a tourist destination. I was there in late January and it was raining. Despite the lousy weather, the street was packed. At the very end of this street is a view of the houses spilling down the mountain.  A tea shop Artisanal Taiwan Boba  Bubble tea or boba was invented in Taiwan in the eighties. Hence the popularity of this drink. If you buy your boba at this store, you can rest assured the ingredients are made in the traditional met

Snagov Monastery - Is this where Vlad Dracula is buried?

Iconostasis  A few minutes from the center of Bucharest is the medieval church of Snagov Monastery. It is also known as Vlad Tepeş Monastery after the infamous ruler of Wallachia who was a patron of this monastery. The Church sits on an island surrounded by a forest and connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge. I didn’t expect the beautiful natural setting and found myself standing in the middle of the bridge quietly enjoying the serenity the lake presented. The iconostasis is a screen between the nave and the sanctuary. There are three doors on the screen. The middle one is used only by the clergy and is called the Beautiful Gate or Royal Door (it was used at times by royalty). The other two doors are for the use of deacons. Snagov Lake Mircea cel Baltran (Mircea the Elder) At the entrance to the church are the medallions of Baltran and his grandson, Vlad Tepeş, who were both patrons of the church. Baltran is one of the founders of this monastery. *see also my post about Sighi

My heartwarming experiences in Ohrid

Ancient Theater of Ohrid This ancient theater is a legacy of the Hellenistic era circa 200 BC. The Romans also used it for gladiator fights during their occupation.  The theater was abandoned and forgotten after the fall of the Roman Empire.   Local people had an aversion to the theater because many Christians were killed there.  It wasn’t discovered until 1980 when construction crew working nearby found blocks of stone with the image of Dionysius around the site. Note: only the lower part of the theater is what remains of the original structure as you can see from this image. Samuel’s Fortress This fortress was built in the 11th century during the reign of Tsar Samuel of the First Bulgarian Empire on the site of an earlier fortification from the 4th century BC.  The current structure was restored in 2003 with the addition of battlements where none remained of the previous structure. Church of Holy Mother of God Perybleptos  This Orthodox Christian Church was built in 1295. It has Byza

Light Show at the Water Tower in Amsterdam

When I need to relax after traveling for a bit, I make a stopover in Amsterdam and visit with good friends. There is no itinerary to follow, no places to go, just days spent relaxing and enjoying the view of trees lining the entrance to Vondel Park. I love the new spring foliage, so fresh and delicate. But fall foliage is just as enchanting with its golden hues. While summer’s green is a welcome backdrop, winter’s naked branches give me a view of my neighbors’ 17th century homes across the park. All the seasons have a magic of its own and I’m just here to soak it all in. My friends and I often go out to dinner. This is usually the only item on my agenda. On this particular evening, we decided to eat at the Café Amsterdam in Watertorenplein. We like this place because apart from the good food, there is an outdoor terrace that borders a canal, perfect for long summer evenings. The indoor seating area is just as atmospheric with its high ceiling. This evening’s added attraction is the lig