Sometimes as a traveller I encounter service people that I don’t understand, and on other occasions, I understand only too well. “Lynch? Linch?” was the panicked interrogative of the young busboy as we returned from breakfast in the baronial dining room at Hotel Castel Freiberg . I stood at the door of our room in this northern Italian mountain retreat. “Lynch, linch?” He tried this time with a different inflection. “Pete,” my wife called from the bathroom, “he’s asking whether we will be here for lunch.” I nod “yes”, breaking the sound barrier.
Following a nose-bleed fast ride in a four-person, glass-sided elevator up through the tower of the church, we emerged into an observation hallway with open balconies that encircled the spire. The views across Ghent allowed us to register our city centre location using the old fort, Gravenstein, as a reference point.
Cruising north on the Saône River, we encountered many barges laden with commercial products such as this log cargo. Coal, fertilizer, farm equipment and mysterious crates containing God-knows-what rode on boats that ploughed through the cerulean waters. Only occasionally did we see pleasure crafts. Clearly the Saône is about commerce.
This band in their tattered uniforms was playing for tourists’ change outside the Peterhof, the Czar’s summer palace (Peterhof Facade and Peterhof Tower). They were in a great position to get money, as all the many hundreds of travellers that shuffle through this palace had to pass directly past them. I wonder if their uniforms needed to be in such disrepair or if the musicians felt a little sympathy might result from their battered presentation. Boy am I getting skeptical.
These obviously decorative cannons face over the walk of the castle and into the harbour. Oslo is a rather severe city and these brightly painted implements added a much needed shot of colour. Tourists as well as locals strolled these heights enjoying the gardens and looking down at the harbour which was crowded with crafts, both pleasure and commercial.
In a speech in London, England in 2001, Prince Charles railed against the proliferation in public spaces of modern sculpture that resemble “giant turds” (his words, not mine). Isn’t it strange that a society supposedly so advanced and sophisticated cannot come close to matching the aesthetically-pleasing and spirit-boosting sculpture such as this piece found in the middle of Stockholm just blocks away from the Nobel Prize venue.
This painting from the upper deck of the Pacific Princess in 1997 was produced under pleasant and tranquil conditions. Our day stop here was part of a cruise around the British Isles. After completing a difficult sketch in the middle of the city, I hurried back to the ship for a calm panoramic view of this ancient town.
In my memory some things improve as the years go on, but Barcelona was not one of these. In fact, since I was last in Spain thirty-five years ago, my mental image of that country had taken on a grim derelict quality. When our cruise from South America ended in Barcelona, we almost didn’t book extra time there. That would have been a foolish decision. We were fortunate to visit on a holiday and to become part of the audience watching a parade of costumed characters from the provinces being drawn through the streets in elegant carriages.