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spain: arcos de la frontera

Arcos de la Frontera, panorama, Iglesia de San Pedro

Founded by Romans as Arx-Arcis & later the capital of an independent Muslim taifa, Arcos de la Frontera entered a golden age after being taken by Christian forces in 1264. The city & surrounding area became part of a lordship then moved up to become a countdom, gradually increasing in importance. And it would continue to grow…

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buenos aires: domes

Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas

Back to Buenos Aires! Well, not literally… but I’ve neglected to place in this blog one very popular series of posts from the past. From 2007 to be exact. Back in the day when my only internet presence was line of sight, I wrote one of the most widely read English-language blogs about Buenos Aires. At the same time as I researched early housing projects in the city, I also began looking up & paying attention. I saw more domes than I’d ever noticed before, regardless of where those rambling walks took me.

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personal: mom, ten years on

Elizabeth Gae Philby, Liz Wright

How can this be? Already a decade has gone by since my mother passed away?? I thought I should write about her life after taking inspiration from a friend’s blog. My mother was a complicated woman —she gave some of that to me, no doubt— and there are many gaps in her life story that I will never know. Last month I finally finished going through ALL the old papers she saved, looked at each & every photo, read years of family correspondence & listened to endless hours of recorded conversations on cassette. I may not have a complete picture of her life, but I know more than I ever did & there’s no better moment to share her story. Buckle up.

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road trip: borders

borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal
● See enlargement below…
borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal

Whether you call it a national border or la raya, this trip had a several motivations: spend time in places Rafa & I had been individually but not together (awwww), visit new spots that are best accessed by car & see how permeable —or not— the Portugal/Spain border has been over time. We beat the heat until the last couple of days of the trip, but overall we were very lucky with weather considering the time of year. Join us for a crazy week on both sides of the border…

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elvas: forte da graça

Portugal, Elvas, Forte da Graça, SIPA

Elvas not only boasts a massive wall around the entire city that dates from the great age of fortress construction in the 1700s, but the nearby Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça also impresses from its commanding location. As a modified 400-meter (1,300 ft) mountain, the fortress could easily defend Elvas & see any invasion force coming from Spain next door. Most of the fort sits submerged into the mountaintop, making this a fantastic feat of engineering. I have no drone, but this gives you an idea of the scale:

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recipe: bacalhau à bras

Portugal, recipe, receita, bacalhau à bras, cod, bacalao

Classic recipes from any country have at least two things in common: an intensely debated origin & of course, several variations… everyone’s grandmother obviously makes the best! Since my grandmother was not Portuguese, I draw on 20 years of travel to & eating in Portugal to make their classic comfort food at home. I promise this won’t turn into a food blog, but I love to eat & cook so I wanted to share some of the dishes we regularly make.

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italy: guidebook research 2019

Italia, Italy, 2019 guidebook research, Rick Steves

The ongoing book research saga continues, but this time with an all-new destination: Italia! That’s right… a country where I don’t speak much of the language & to places I’d never visited before. Uh-oh. My mood often ran between excited & apprehensive, so to laugh about the day’s events I tweeted once daily as I tend to do. Really anything to maintain a bit of connection with the real world. Come along as I relive those crazy two & a half weeks.

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sevilla: spring blossoms

España, Sevilla, Andalucía, primavera, spring, flowers, blossoms, flores

Spring has sprung! With a mild climate for most of the year, plants love Sevilla… if they can survive the intense heat of summer. The city is filled with a huge variety of flowering plants & trees, so the winter blues disappear quickly. While this post isn’t a compendium of all we’ve got blooming now, let it inspire you to stroll the city & enjoy one of nature’s great displays.

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road trip: show me state

road trip, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas City, Jefferson City, St. Louis

My uncle passed away three months prior to this trip, so the first few days consisted of wrapping up family matters in Iowa. But we’d be close to the state border after scattering my uncle’s ashes, so why not dip down & see what Missouri has to offer? As a kid I’d always just driven through, however we discovered a ton to see, do & eat. The state lived up to its motto & showed us how great Missouri is!

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