Snippets of Cuba

Fireman’s Monument, Colon Cemetery, Havana

My visit to Cuba a couple of months ago with my husband was a wonderful experience with lots of cultural activities, warm hospitality everywhere we went, new friends on our tour, hearty food, and lots of rum. Did I mention warm weather and balmy breezes? As a lazy sporadic blogger, I’ve neglected to post many photos of our trip but here’s a little taste of the interesting  things we saw. 

We traveled before Obama announced that the US is loosening travel restrictions; the Cubans were very friendly and didn’t seem to harbor ill will towards us. Toward our government, perhaps…

The photo above from Colon Cemetery focuses on a frightening bat and a nun holding a sprig of flowers. The memorial honors firefighters who died in a terrible fire in 1890. 

Banyan Tree

Banyan trees are so alien with their exposed roots. 

Vintage American Cars

There were dozens of old American cars lovingly painted and cared for. I rode in one our last night there and I was amazed at how well kept the interior was. Many of them now have Mitsubishi or other non-original motors but they still look so incredibly cool.

Ernest Hemingway’s House with View of Booze Bottles

I took this shot from outside Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia. Tourists aren’t allowed inside but we wandered the grounds and looked through the windows.

Mail Slot

I want a mail slot like this!

Wall Typewriters

We ate at a restaurant that had these old typewriters near the entrance. Cuban people make use of so many things we would just throw away; they’re an incredibly resourceful people. 

Have you been to Cuba, or would you go?


Shanghai Modern


Looking across the river to Pudong (c) Todd Mecklem

I’m still processing a recent trip to Shanghai. It was wonderful, overstimulating, fun, irritating, modern and ancient. These photos show the modern side of Shanghai. I was surprised at how hip the city felt in many places – the selection of restaurants and shopping was a capitalist’s dream. I’ll highlight other sides of the city in coming posts.

Gap and Apple

Gap and Apple (c)Todd Mecklem

Bike share (c)Todd Mecklem

Bike share (c) Todd Mecklem

Shanghai street scene (c)Todd Mecklem

Modern Shanghai skyscrapers

LV store

Louis Vuitton store


Night scene with drizzle[/caption

[caption id="attachment_6507" align="alignnone" width="584"]Super Mario brother (c)Todd Mecklem Super Mario brother (c)Todd Mecklem

What city strikes you as the most modern you’ve visited? And the oldest?

Visions of Hong Kong

It’s cold and rainy here in Portland today so I’m daydreaming of somewhere warm, like Hong Kong. The first day of spring feels very winter like.

Hong Kong is a great place to take photographs because there are so many visually interesting things to look at. My husband, Todd Mecklem, took these shots during our recent visit. Enjoy your virtual visit!

Sea glass. © Todd Mecklem

Sea glass. ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong harbor.  ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong harbor. © Todd Mecklem

Detail of rope on ferry.  © Todd Mecklem

Detail of rope on ferry. ©Todd Mecklem

Dried shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Dried shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Woman drying shrimp.  © Todd Mecklem

Woman drying shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Fish being cooked night market.  © Todd Mecklem

Fish being cooked in the night market. ©Todd Mecklem

Large grains of sand.  © Todd Mecklem

Large grains of sand. ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong skyline.  © Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong skyline. © Todd Mecklem

Dreaming of Paris

I’ve been dreaming about our upcoming vacation later this summer in Paris, plotting what to pack, what exhibits are on (Eugene Atget!!), which sites to see (Chartres or Versailles?), and what to eat. Part of the fun of the trip is the planning. There are so many possibilities, but of course we can’t see them all.

My husband and I both love wandering through the different Parisian neighborhoods, or arrondisements. We eventually plan to walk through all 16 arrondisements; on our last trip, we walked from the 14th arrondisement to the Simone de Beauvoir bridge, shown below.
Simone de Beauvoir bridge in Paris

We’ll certainly come across beautiful fountains.
St. Michel fountain on Left Bank

Fountain in Place de la Concorde

When we’re not walking, we’ll take the subway.
Paris Metro station

And of course, we’ll need to stop for nourishment.
Lunch at a Paris brasserie
We’ll stop by a cemetery or two.
Offerings on Baudelaire's grave, Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Tomb in Montparnasse

I’ve read that this has been a very cool/damp summer in Paris; I’d prefer sunshine but as long as we’re in Paris, the weather really won’t matter. And if I don’t pack warm enough clothes, there are plenty of department stores to explore.

Memories of Italy

When I turned 40, I’d never been to Europe. I decided that it was time, and started formulating a plan. I wanted to go somewhere warm where I really liked the food and where it was warm – I was thinking of Italy, Spain, and Portugal. As it happened, I saw a flyer from our local community college that listed a two week language school in Florence that could offer homestays. I attended a short seminar, and really liked the people involved and the price. I arranged for a month off from work, and off I went. Here is a photo montage of the sights. This chilly Portland weather makes me yearn for a sunnier climate, and Italy would certainly do.

Lake Como
Lake Como

Green door with rust
Green door with rust

Venetian window display of marzipan fruit
Venetian window display of marzipan

Terra cotta roof tiles in Cortona
Terra cotta roof tiles in Cortona

Looking out the hostel window in Levanto
Looking out the hostel window

Cavallo castagne (horse chestnuts)

Church tower
Como or Bellagio? Church in Italy

Canal in Murano
Canal in Venice (Murano)

Christmas Around the World

We usually travel in late November to maximize our vacation days. It’s often cold, but flights are less expensive than in the summer. A great thing about traveling then is that we get to see Christmas lights and markets in different countries, even those that aren’t really Christian countries. My favorite Christmas tradition is the German markets with mulled wine (gluhwein) that you can buy in a cup and take with you as you walk around the market, the mall, or the street. Here are some glimpses of how some cities are decorated for the holidays.

Christmas lights in Seoul, Korea. It was REALLY cold.
Christmas lights in Seoul

Also in Seoul. Todd took this photo – we didn’t actually try one.
Casisis Love Doughnut, Caffè Pascucci, Seoul

Santa’s helper in a market in Istanbul. Todd took this photo.
Santa's Helper, Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 2008

Bon Nadal! Literally, Catalana for “happy birth” but it translates to “merry Christmas.” This is in Barcelona.
Santa Claus

Christmas night market (“Weihnachtsmärkte”) in Berlin.
Weihnachtsmärkte, Berlin 2008

The best part!
Drinking gluhwein in Berlin

Christmas lights in Hong Kong.
Christmas lights in Hong Kong.