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Mirabell Gardens

The Mirabell Gardens were laid out in 1687 during the reign of Prince-Archibishop Johann Ernst von Thun. It was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach within the Mirabell palace grounds and redesigned a few times over the years. One of the characteristics of a Baroque garden is how it incorporates vistas outside the garden into its design. This feature is evident from Rosehill, on the south side of the Palace. Our eyes are drawn from the Small Parterre to the Fountain of Pegasus and beyond to the dome and steeples of the Cathedral of Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress. 

Why you should enter the Mezquita with your eyes closed

"To Cordoba belong all the beauty and ornaments that delight the eye or dazzle the sight. Her long line of Sultans form her crown of glory; her necklace is strung with the pearls which her poets have gathered from the ocean of language; her dress is of the banners of learning, well-knit together by her men of science; and the masters of every art and industry are the hem of her garments." Stanley Lane Poole, The Moors in Spain: Introduction
One of the most amazing places I've visited in the world is the Mezquita. The Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba was built on the site of the Church of San Vicente from the Visigothic occupation of Córdoba in the 6th century. It has changed ownership a few times since then. Muslims ruled Córdoba from the 8th century through 1236 when Córdoba fell to Christian Spain. The Mesquita which was completed in 976 was left intact until King Ferdinand III converted the mosque to a cathedral within a mosque in the 13th century.
When you enter the Mezqu…

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

"I hate darkness. Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have light enough in it.  I agree with him. We painters, however, can never reproduce sunlight as it really is. I can only approach the truth of it. " Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
Mother, 1895
Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) was a prolific Spanish painter from Valencia. He has been dubbed "the painter of light". His works include portraits, landscapes, historical and monumental themes. He left behind some 2000 paintings and there is a good representation of his oeuvres at his former home which is now the Museo Sorolla.
In the painting, Mother, Sorolla portrays his newly born daughter, Elena, with his wife who looks lovingly at her daughter. It's difficult to use white paint without overwhelming the subject. But Sorolla meticulously works with gradations of white. The white wall is a different shade from the white pillowcases and the white bedcover. He works with the curves of the bodies under the…

"Tiptoe through the Tulips"

Though I've visited Amsterdam many times, I've never been to the tulip fields. During this recent trip, I made it a point to go to Lisse to see the profusion of colorful tulips at their peak. It was beautiful to stroll around the 32-hectare Keukenhof Gardens. While it was overcast, it wasn't cold at all and a few sprinkles didn't warrant an umbrella.


There are more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths grown at Keukenhof. The incredible variety of tulips and amazing colors are every photographer's dream. This is truly a feast for the eyes. 

The flowers are artfully planted in diagonals, horizontals, verticals, patchwork, and many elaborate patterns. There's a windmill on site, a Japanese garden, a stream running through the gardens, fountains and playgrounds and so much more. You just need comfortable shoes and well rested legs for the long walks.

"And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight Will you pardon me? And tiptoe through the tulips…

The Allied Arts Guild Gardens

The Court  of Abundance
A super find in my neighborhood are the gardens in the Allied Arts Guild  in a quiet part of Menlo Park, California. They are as beautiful as the Alhambra's Generalife gardens after which it they were planned. The Guild is an organization that raises funds to support the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. All its profits from the shops, restaurant and private events held onsite go to the hospital.

Fresco Painting by Maxine Albro
Maxine Albro learned the art of fresco painting in Mexico with Paul O'Higgins, an assistant to Diego Rivera. Later she painted side by side with Rivera while working on some projects in San Francisco.  Notice the woman carrying a heavy basket laden with fruit. It is reminiscent of Rivera's The Flower Vendor series where the vendor is carrying a basket of calla lilies on her back. The little girl to her left is holding white lilies which further alludes to The Flower Vendor. This mural with a Mexican motif complements thi…