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Showing posts from July, 2023

Shopping at Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet

Aisle from main entrance I had heard a lot about Fantastic Indoor Flea Market but never had the chance to check it out on previous visits to Las Vegas. But this month a friend and I decided to  go and find out what the hype was all about. The temperature in July soars past the century mark in Vegas but the flea market was cool and pleasant. It wasn’t crowded on a Friday morning so we leisurely examined the displays of merchandise before stopping at a little café at the back of the market for some churros and cold drinks. They also serve empanadas and tacos which the  customer seated at the table beside us only had the highest praises for. Clothing stalls I was looking for T-shirts with the old Las Vegas slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. There were several stalls selling these for 3 for $11 or $12 but the sizes were not available. Also some of the t-shirt fabrics were thin and not good quality.  Hats and bags We found the hats reasonably priced. As an example, the Panama

The Frescoes of Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery sits in a forested valley surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks. The setting can’t get any more wholesome with the exception that this is a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Weekends are the worst days to visit when the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mother is so crowded, there’s little room to move inside the stunning church. We got there after lunch on a Sunday and the traffic on the narrow lane road at the back of the monastery was atrocious. The crowds thinned after three p.m. so we could get a closer look at the outdoor frescoes.  All Eastern Orthodox churches depict the Christ Pantocrator in the central dome of the Church. Pantocrator means the Almighty and the ruler of all. There are initials on both sides of the head of the Pantocrator, IC and XC. IC are the first and last letters of Jesus in the Greek alphabet (Iota and Sigma) and XC (Chi and Sigma) are the first and last letters for Christ. This Pantocrator fresco is on the outdoor portico. T

Bellagio presents the Grandeur of Nature

The theme of this year’s summer floral display is about the grandeur of nature. Thousand of flowers and potted plants make up this evocative show to remind us the “intricate and wondrous diversity of nature”. These 28-foot tall hands represent “environmental stewardship, partnership and renewal”. The colors of this wisteria tree is so arresting, you are immediately drawn to it.  Mythical characters and fountains round up the features of the Summer display. The Summer floral display (which is free to the public) will end on September 9.  Bellagio Hotel and Casino 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd. ***** Images by TravelswithCharie   

Helsinki Airport Design Aesthetic

Passing through Helsinki International Airport last May, I was struck by the furnishings I found while waiting for my flight. The benches are clearly different from the standard metal and polyester airport chairs and the minimal look is eye pleasing.  The use of wood is attractive, warm and certainly welcoming. These simple, modern benches are also ideal for stretching out (when no one is around). Maximizing space by adding a seating area here is brilliant while covering up functional but unsightly fixtures underneath. The Spacehub (office space) rents for €5 per half hour and may be reserved in advance.  You can get a lot of work done in a quiet space while waiting for your flight. How to book the Spacehub Another feature of the Helsinki airport is the area dedicated to charging gadgets. They thoughtfully added restrooms nearby so you can easily freshen up before going to your assigned gate. ***** Images by TravelswithCharie 

The safest countries for solo female travelers

Iceland After decades of solo travels around the world, these are the countries where I felt the safest. I’ve visited these places on the list several times except for Finland (which I had the pleasure of visiting once) and didn’t encounter any threatening incidences in any of them. I found instead the people were positively responsive when I approached them for directions or help with the language barrier. I especially remember my experiences in Ireland where I needed to find a plug adapter and a saleslady took time from her work to show me the store that carried it, in Japan where the non-English speaking train ticket agent painstakingly helped me with a smile despite the long line behind me or the restaurant chef who showed me how to order my meal using a strange machine, or in Finland where I met friendly people in church and whose friendship I’ve kept to this day as I have with my friends in the Netherlands and Romania. There are so many beautiful stories from my solo trips which

The Villa of Constantine the Great in Mediana

  River God floor mosaic This floor mosaic is a representation of the river god shown here in a half recumbent position and holding a reed. He is facing Leda and the Swan (Zeus) but this part of the composition is almost washed out. The mosaics are made of stone and glass tesserae in white, black, red, gray, brown, ocher and yellow and measures 9.5 square meters. This mosaic is on the podium at the entrance to the reception room. Constantine the Great Constantine the Great was born in Niš around 280AD. Together with Licinius, he signed the Edict of Milan in 313AD which proclaimed religious toleration within the Roman Empire and decriminalized Christianity. The ruins from his villa in Mediana, about 7 km (4.3 miles) from the city center, is now open to the public after years of restoration. Floor mosaics of varying geometrical designs run the length of the 40-hectare residential complex. Various artifacts from the archeological excavation of the premises are on display in the museum as