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Chellah–Royal Kingdoms of the Past

Posted in Africa, Blog, Morocco | 0 comments

The fertile plains inland from Rabat drew settlers as far back as the 8th Century B.C. The Phoenicians and the Romans set up trading posts in the estuary of the Bou Regreg River in Sala, today’s Chellah. The Roman settlement Sala Colonia lasted long after the fall of the Roman Empire, but was abandoned and fell into ruin–until in the 14th century the sultan Abou al-Hassan built a fortress on top of the Roman ruins. His necropolis, towers and wall stand today, alongside the excavated Roman town. Its a lovely, evocative place, with fruit trees, wildflowers, the ruined Roman...

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Royal Kingdom of Rabat

Posted in Africa, Blog, Morocco | 0 comments

Royal Kingdom of Rabat

Morocco is a kingdom and the Atlantic coastal city of Rabat has been its capital since independence in 1956. King Mohammed VI and his family are a well-loved monarchy. The king’s photo seems to be on display at every turn, and the royal residence is seen on a main boulevard. The city is lovely with its broad, palm-lined avenue and its grand monuments. Even the medina here was not mobbed and almost relaxed. It was alarming that three taxi drivers refused to take me to the address of my riad, located deep within the medina, but pleading to be taken near (no exactamon!) succeeded in...

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Wandering the Streets of Old Malaga

Posted in Blog, Europe, Spain, Wine | 0 comments

Wandering the Streets of Old Malaga

Malaga is an old port city with some 3,000 years of history, but it’s also a city with a modern and artful edge to it. With layers of history and culture waiting to be discovered, or absorbed in a meandering way by the fortunate traveler with a bit of time, the old city center is a joy to explore on foot. There is the Alcazaba, the most beautiful living example of the times of the Moors. There is the great Cathedral built on the ruined mosque. And everywhere are charming traditional balconied buildings, narrow pedestrian streets and plazas, and plentiful tapas bars, tavernas,...

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Cleopatra’s Wine

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Cleopatra’s Wine

Moscata, Moscatel, Muscat of Alexandria, Malaga Wine — there are many names for it. Originating in North Africa, it is a white wine grape of the muscat family. It is an ancient wine — one of the oldest genetically unmodified wines still in existence. Cleopatra drank it, ancient Greeks and Egyptians cultivated it, and ancient poets and bards celebrated it. In the 19th Century during prosperous times in Malaga, the sweet Malaga wine was the favorite of English Victorian ladies, and the wine export trade became big business — which lasted until the plague of phylloxera decimated the industry. I...

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Welcome to Malaga—Moscata de Alexandria

Posted in Blog, Featured, Spain, Wine | 0 comments

Welcome to Malaga—Moscata de Alexandria

Arriving Malaga in the evening via a low-fare flight from Amsterdam, the taxi deposited me a distance from my hotel, pointing me down a broad marble-paved pedestrian street that appeared to be the scene of a big party. It turned out that Avenida de Larios was a main street through town center, and the crowds were celebrating the last day of Carnival celebrations in Malaga. Once in my room on the third floor of a traditional building, I could enjoy the crowds below and from my little Spanish balcony nearly touch the tall structures of LED lights that added to the festive ambiance. This being...

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Cafe Alto

Posted in Amsterdam, Blog, Europe | Comments Off

Cafe Alto

Cafe Alto, just off the Leidseplein, was a welcoming little club, and everything I had hoped for on a night out in Amsterdam. Our arrival was timely—before the band set up on the small stage and with tables still available. The place is small and with nightly entertainment and no cover charge, it surely must get crowded. Besides the right kind of crusty, funky ambiance, drinks were moderately priced and the acoustics fine. The caliber of musicians we were treated to was impressive—and the music got better with each set. We stayed for set after set, and round after round. The clientele was an...

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Rembrandt and the Dutch Soul

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Rembrandt and the Dutch Soul

Thanks to the loan of a museum pass from a local friend, I was able to obtain a hard-to-get ticket and entrance time to a new major retrospective of the works of Holland’s greatest master, Rembrandt van Rijn. The exhibition was devoted to Rembrandt’s works from the last years of his life in Amsterdam, from 1606 until his death in 1669. The exhibit consisted of 90 paintings, drawings and prints that showcased Rembrandt at the height of his powers. “Emerging from the shadow of tragic personal losses and financial setbacks, Rembrandt produced some of his finest works in his...

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Cafe Americain

Posted in Amsterdam, Blog | Comments Off

Cafe Americain

Last night I visited one of my old haunts, the Cafe Americain located in the venerable Art Nouveau landmark, the American Hotel. The grand hotel, built in 1902, remains a landmark and central meeting point in the heart of the city, sitting as it does on the busiest hub of activity day and night, the Leideseplein. In the 19th century the “grand cafe” was an institution in the old cities of Europe. Today many of these opulent venues have been preserved and are patronized by fashionable folks, business people and tourists. The beautiful Art Deco interior of the Cafe Americain is in...

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Return to Old Amsterdam

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Return to Old Amsterdam

I woke up in Amsterdam this morning and looked out of my apartment window at a scene that transported me instantly to 35 years ago. The summer of 1980 I had the opportunity to spend the season in a friend’s vacated apartment on the lovely Prinsengracht Canal of central Amsterdam. Eager to escape the aftermath of a failed romance, I jumped at the chance of a change of scene. Amsterdam proved to be a worthy choice of destination to replace my sorrows with everything new and different. I was learning then, about one of the great values of travel. But this morning, a few days after a...

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Sicily Travel — a Sicilian Idyll

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Sicily Travel — a Sicilian Idyll

Winter in Italy and Sicily in 2012 was called the Grand Gelé, or the Big Freeze. One of the coldest winters in modern Italian history – the canals in Venice froze – didn’t deter our Sicily travel plans. One advantage of traveling in Winter — you have the attractions all to yourself. These images are impressions of our road trip circumnavigating the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea — Sicily. Taormina—tourist delight Perched atop a lofty hill overlooking the Ionian Sea is the lovely town of Taormina, the first stop on our Sicily itinerary. Mt. Etna … on the road to Siracusa After...

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