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sevilla: parque maría luisa

España, Spain, Sevilla, Seville, Parque María Luisa

Designed by a French landscape architect for the 1929 Ibero-American Expo, Parque María Luisa was once the backyard of the powerful Montpensier family; in fact, Sevilla named the park after its Duchess donor. Today, this 34-hectare public space remains the largest green area in the city, full of many interesting nooks & crannies to explore. Let’s have a look at its past & present…

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found: dale nichols

Dale Nichols, American Regionalism

During our recent trip to the US, I spent an amazing morning at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. What a collection! One of the first pieces to catch my eye was a painting that reminded me of works I’d seen in Missouri by Thomas Hart Benton: richly-colored, soft & pillowy scenes depicting the American Midwest. I’d probably seen paintings by Dale Nichols before, but the above landscape from 1942 (Sunday Dinner in Franconia) made me want to learn more.

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road trip: boston

road trip, Boston

Is it still a road trip if you don’t use a car? In this case, I’ll say yes because Boston’s fantastic public transportation made car rental 100% unnecessary. And honestly, I don’t know how we could have seen more. This two-week trip was our first visit to New England, & what an introduction! We had a major mishap at the last minute, but the travel gods worked their magic & off we went. I’ve grouped our sightseeing below into neighborhoods for easy reference. We’ll get on the road after a bumpy start…

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queluz: what a palácio!

Everyone raves about the Palácio da Pena. Spectacular for sure, but endless crowds & high ticket prices make visiting the palace little more than an exercise in patience. Zero fun. Go to Sintra for natural beauty, but a better glimpse of royal family life can be found without the crowds on the same train line halfway between Lisboa & Sintra. Twenty years had passed since my first visit to the Palácio de Queluz, & strolling through its well-kept grounds made for a gorgeous, crowd-free morning.

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porto: palácio da bolsa

Portugal, Porto, Palácio da Bolsa

Porto may have never been the official home of the royal family, never the capital of Portugal or never the seat of an archdiocese. However, Porto has long been homebase for the Portuguese bourgeoisie: a vibrant class of businessmen, merchants & all the wealth they generated. No wonder one of the most visited sights in Porto is a monument to trade & a way of life that continues to define the city’s entrepreneurial character.

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photo essay: río huéznar

España, Spain, Andalucía, Sevilla, Río Huéznar, Huésna, Sierra Moreno

The Huéznar River —sometimes written “Huésna,” as it can also be pronounced— begins near San Nicolás del Puerto & meanders to a reservoir before emptying into the Guadalquivir. Known for a long series of cascades, the riverbed creates a real oasis in an otherwise semi-dry area. We’ve only begun to explore trails here & will add more content as our walks progress.

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spain: guidebook research 2022

Rick Steves, Spain, Andalucía, guidebook research

After a two year break, I’m on the road again! The book department —as Rick Steves himself put it— has a herculean task ahead of themselves this year: update each & every guidebook the company publishes. We all have our work cut out for us. In fact, this is just the first part of my schedule. I’ll be updating the entire Portugal book in June & July. But let’s not jump the gun…

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my philby family history

Philby family tree, Iowa

While rewatching the entire run of Downton Abbey, Rafa brought up an interesting topic: did I ever visit the town my English ancestors came from? The closest I got was Manchester, but Oldham is still on my list. In the meantime, I couldn’t help digging out copies of genealogy research passed down to me by family members & scouring the internet for more details.

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