Hohensalzburg Castle

Hohensalzburg Fortress

First built in 1077, Hohensalzburg Castle sits at the top of Festungsberg mountain.

Before my trip, a few people asked how I’d decided on Austria and Slovakia. And each time I wanted to say, “I mean, have you seen that castle?” Europe has its fair share of castles, fortresses, palaces, etc., but Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg is truly a sight to behold.

I happened to go up to the fortress around sunset, lingering with a handful of others to soak up the views. (One of my favorite slides is #12 of Salzburg’s verdant countryside.) This also involved riding my only funicular of the trip, which offers its own kind of thrill. Click into the picture slideshow below to see the rest!

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Sightseeing: Cathedral of San Juan Bautista – Old San Juan

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista - sunset

All this talk of tanning and sunlight has got me thinking back to last winter’s Puerto Rico vacation.

One of the joys of staying at Old San Juan’s Hotel El Convento was its proximity to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, originally built in 1521 and the home of Ponce de Leon’s tomb. Before my visit I had a hard time getting a sense of the space–is it a tourist trap, or in mass all day… ?

I was happy to discover that, for a cathedral, it’s actually quite casual and often open. (It also provides beautiful relief from the humidity!) Here are some photos I took of the space, with more from the neighborhood over here.

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Cathedral of San Juan Bautista -  ceiling

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista - interior

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista -  dusk

Perugia

Perugia Fontana Maggiore

Dating back to 1277-8, the Fontana Maggiore symbolizes “the free city of Perugia.”

Believe it or not, this week marked the 10-year anniversary of my semester abroad in Perugia. Mamma mia!

As much as I’ve loved the virtual stroll down memory lane on Google Street View, I still have quite the fondness for pics from that time. Of course, they aren’t crystal-clear-2013 digital pics… I took these on a film-happy Canon Snappy LX.

Perugia in the morning

As seen on a morning stroll.

I don’t have the energy to recap Perugia 10 years later in a blog post, but I can say it was a gift to live there and make the amici I did. (Cough, Naama!)

Without the experience of studying abroad I doubt I would have relocated to the Northwest.

Perugia - via dei Priori

I believe this is the via dei Priori, where our Umbra Institute was headquartered.

Perugia - Piazza IV Novembre

People taking a turn around the Piazza IV Novembre before Christmas.

Corso Bersaglierri

Corso Bersaglierri, and the facade of our apartment.

These are all the photos I could digitize for now, but I promise more Umbrian highlights soon. Ciao!

Old San Juan, a walker’s paradise

Paseo del Morro

Paseo del Morro

Anyone in my general acquaintance can testify: I’m a lover of walking. Maybe to a fault. My Saucony Bullets and I scoot to work, happy hour, around the office. We soak up new cities. Invariably my energy drags just as I’m farthest from home, and I look down at my feet thinking, “Damn it. Not again!”

It was with much delight, then, that I got to stroll around Old San Juan’s violet-hued cobblestones in February. It’s a place that rewards the curious walker, whether with less-touristy restaurants, works of public art, or plain old (lush) nature. Still, its size is manageable–few Old San Juan sites are outside an amble’s distance from each other. And, when your feet grow tired, rest assured a Piña colada is nearby.

Castillo de San Cristobal

Castillo de San Cristobal

Viejo San Juan

Viejo San Juan

Catedral de San Juan

Catedral de San Juan

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza

Two favorites from Paris, 2009

La Pyramide Inversee (the Inverted Pyramid) at the Louvre

La Pyramide Inversée (the Inverted Pyramid) inside the Louvre.

With Rick Steves‘ newest European travels running on PBS, I’ve been reminiscing for Paris recently–even the wintery Paris that Laura and I visited in February 2009. Four years have already gone by, but, as the wall below will remind you: Some things are timeless.

Diana - You was the peoples princess

This was written near the Flame of Liberty, where people memorialize Princess Diana.

p.s. This French wedding style blog is so pretty to look at!

Old San Juan: Calle del Cristo

Calle del Cristo in Old San Juan

Calle del Cristo in Old San Juan.

This may not sound like a big deal to those in warmer climes, but last month I made it to Puerto Rico and immersed myself in complete sunlight. In the mornings, before it got too hot, I’d spend an hour walking around Old San Juan taking photos, and this is the street where I always started.