Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gates in Florence, Italy

As I walked down the cobblestone streets of Florence, Italy on my visit last September, I noticed there were lots of beautiful iron gates. On that trip I photographed door knockers - noting to myself that if I returned, I would take a few photos of the gates.

So on my most recent trip in May, I began to search out the gates I knew were everywhere. I only got about ten shots this time but I was surprised to notice that of the ten pics I took, each was a different gate. Considering I went down many of the same streets several times, that was lucky.

 You may only notice them if you turn your head to peer into a courtyard opening, or look beyond big wooden doors.

In any city, most of the locals can easily identify tourists by how we walk slower and how we look around a lot. That's okay with me (to be identified as a tourist) because if you don't look around you will miss so much. 

In New York City, a first-time visitor may look up a lot to see the tall buildings. I've been there many times now, so I spend more time looking left and right - catching details that would otherwise go un-noticed. One time I caught a glimpse of an amazing fountain sculpture that I would've missed had I not looked to the right down a little side street when I was in the van taking me to the airport. 

There is so much detail in the gates. Beautiful craftsmanship we do not see so much today. 
I also photographed window grates which I will post soon!

I like to look beyond the gates to see the courtyards, the gardens, 
and many times fountains and sculptures too.

Take the time to notice the details - especially if you love architecture and design! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dirty Little Secret

So, what is my "dirty little secret?" Well, for over 25 years I have been collecting hotel bathroom amenities: soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, shower caps, sewing kits, etc. . . I could go on, but I bet you get the idea.

Here are a few of the containers filled with my collection

It all started when my husband became and airline pilot and began flying all over the world. He would bring back the cute little bottles of shampoo for me - and I took it from there. I began bringing them home from my travels and he continued to bring them home - and before you knew it, I had a big collection that still grows to this day. Lately, I have been thinking that my obsession collection is out-of-control and I need to do something about it.
A casualty with a broken top - this makes me sad because it
one of my favorite hotel stays. The Lowe's Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

At least on my recent trip to Europe I did not bring home even one bottle of shampoo or little soap - nothing was worth it - the shampoo/conditioner came in little packets and I used the tiny soaps. And, not one hotel I stayed in even offered lotion (although one did offer toothbrushes!) After 9/11 and the new travel rules it really became difficult to bring home as many as I once did. One time I had packed a ziplock with as-many-as-would-fit of cute shampoos and conditioners and the TSA guy picked up the bag, looked at it in amazement, rolled his eyes, and threw it back in the bin and let it go through. Haha, I felt so proud of getting them through that time.
Another favorite was Disney's Grand Californian Hotel - now so expensive I doubt I will stay there again.

So, what am I to do with all of these little goodies? 
An idea would be to display my collection in the county fair next year - just for fun. . . then

1) Save the best ones - with the most memories.
2) Give a lot of them to a women's shelter (or two or three.)
3) Keep some for Olive and Lulu to play "store."
4) Use the shower caps as food covers for outdoor serving or picnics.
5) All of the above!

The Container Store had this nifty soap saver that you can put your little bits of bar soap in -  it works great. I really should never have to buy soap again if I didn't want to. I can load it up with the small bars.

Luxury items from THEhotel at Mandalay Bay

Sometimes it is the name of the product that I find appealing and sometimes it is the packaging.  I am a sucker for creative ways to wrap stuff up and some of the soaps were very nicely wrapped.  Some of the bottles are creative too. Oh, I could go on and on about this . . .

A great memory of staying at the Hotel Edgewater in Seattle, WA.

Soap patchwork - I unwrapped bars to display (and use) in a couple of glass containers

 Here I put a few of the soaps in a wide-mouth vase and used a cheese-board glass dome
 to keep them clean and display in the bathroom.
BEFORE:  just a mish-mash of little bottles.  AFTER: bars of soap ready to use. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love Locks of Paris & Florence

Love Locks are showing up on bridges and other places everywhere in Europe and Asia. 
Some cities have taken them all down - but they just start appearing on the bridges again. 

I noticed vendors selling locks near the bridge in Paris - if you forget to bring one! 
Most have the names and dates of the visitors.

Near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Small group near a Florence bridge

This one has a lock with the date for this year

small grouping

Love Locks on Pont des Arts - they make the bridge look golden from far away

It seems to be a popular past-time to read the inscriptions on the locks