Early June Garden

I know the post is late since it is almost July but I wanted to show what has been up with the garden earlier this month.

Watermelon plant is starting to flower.

Roma tomatoes start to ripen.

We have a grapefruit that has not fallen from the tree!!!!

Key limes are ready to grow again this season

Starting some baby dills that I hope will make it through the summer.

New collard is getting some shade action by the palm frond.

This might be the first year the corn makes it….only time will tell.

Beans are hanging in there.

Tuscany: Florence Day 3

During our visit to Florence we also visited Uffizi Gallery and the Academia to see famous works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello and others. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed so I can not share my experience with you. Both museums are a must see to your visit to Florence.
We also spent time on this often photographed bridge Ponte Vecchio. The bridge which dates back to 972 has been destroyed in the past by floods but now serves a shopping district for jewelry.

On our last day of florence we visited the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The peaceful gardens were a nice break from the busy and bustling tourist districts.
The gardens house many historic and contemporary artworks.

 Egyptian obelisk

Turtles holding up the obelisk?

Fountain of Neptune

Casino del Cavaliere(Porcelain Museum)

Views from the garden

Monkey business

Garden tunnel

Lemon trees at Isolotto’s Basin

Man’s best friend.

Some contemporary art

Grotticina di Vulcano grotto of Vulcan)

The Dwarf Morgante by Valerio Cigoli
Very interesting.

The gardens are another must see on your visit to Florence. As you can see, there is so much to do in Florence. Please don’t cut your visit short and rush through it in a day or two. To fully enjoy all that Florence has to offer, I would stay at least 3-4 days.
Happy travels!

Tuscany: Florence Day 2

For our second day in Florence we visited the Palazzo Vecchio

We started the day visiting the Cathedral Museum in Florence. It has a good collection of renaissance sculpture. We were able to view many pieces by famous artists. Below are pictures of some interesting works of art.

Michelangelo – Pietà

reliefs of Luca della Robbia (1400-1482) – original marble

After as stop at the museum we went nearby to visit the Palazzo Vecchio. This palace/fortress had many uses throughout the years. Now it is available to tourists as a museum and a government building to the people Florence.

On the way to the Palazzo Vecchio we took a stop at the Piazza della Signoria  to see   Bartolommeo Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus

We also came across Benvenuto Cellini’s statue Perseus With the Head of Medusa

First noticeable is the famous tower of the palace.

Inside there are many interesting ceiling patterns.

Artwork inside the Hall of Lilies.

Hall of Maps

More interesting ceiling decor.

Artwork from the Sala dell’Udienza

Sala de la Audiencia de Francesco Salviati

Salone dei Cinquecento

View from the terrace.

There are many museums to see in Florence but these should remain in the must see.

Tuscany: Florence Day 1

Upon my two prior visits I have always wanted to visit Florence. When I took humanities in college, many of the great works I learned about resided in Florence. It was the center of Renaissance and the beneficiary of many wealthy and talent residents in its past.

We stayed at the Il Ghiro Guest House. It was centrally located and not far from the train station. It wasn’t fancy but it was clean and we had a private bathroom. It only got a bit noisy at times but that is what to expect from hostels. The highlight of our evenings was coming back to our hostel and seeing “gypsies” that we had seen begging earlier in the day with sad eyes. In the evening they had beers and were all smiles.

We started our first day climbing the 414 steps of the campanile (or bell tower) of Florence’s famous Duomo.

From the top we had great views of the Duomo and Baptistry.

Look down the middle….

Also below we saw a parade go by.

And how can I forget these great views of the city.

After the bell tower we wandered around town a bit and stop to look at some statues.

Fountain of Neptune

We happened upon a flag fight.

The best part of the day is when we were there the same time as the Florence Wine Event. We decided to take part.

Carlos demonstrating the proper way to carry around your wine glass. Why don’t they have these bags at wine events in the USA?

And as the day comes to a close we head back to our hostel for a good nights sleep. Ciao!

Sightseeing in Scotland

From Edinburgh we took at day trip to see Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and a Whisky distillery. We chose Heart of Scotland Tours for the trip.

The first stop was Stirling Castle.

A Stewart family castle, it was a favored residence by many kings and queens. This castle is where Mary Queen of Scots spent her childhood. It sits on top of a hill that helps with its fortification.

I really like the tapestries in this castle. So much display of unicorn-ry!

This lighting fixture was quite interesting as well.

And look at this dude….scary.

Because the tour was so packed of activities we were only give a little over an hour to tour both the castle and the town where the castle resides. I would have liked to schedule at least 1/2 day here.

Hamish the hairy highland Coo

After our visit to Stirling castle we drove through the Trossachs and visited Hamish the Hairy Coo.

And look at these views….


We stopped in the small town of Aberfoyle for fish and chips.

We also saw these furry guys.

Loch Lomond

So ye’ll tak the high road, and I’ll tak the laigh road, 
An’ I’ll be in Scotland before ye: 
But me and my true love will never meet again, 
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

 The visit to Loch Lomond proved to be the highlight of the day. It was a perfect and clear day. The views were amazing. I felt at peace walking the banks of Loch Lomond.

Scotch Whisky Tasting at  Glengoyne Distillery

We finished out the day with a whisky distillery tour and tasting. The distillery was Glengoyne and we couldn’t wait for our samples. No cameras were allowed on the tour due to fears the cameras would spark flames due to the all the alcohol in the air. It was an interesting tour. We got to see the process that goes into making scotch whisky. At the end we got to taste some single malts – 15 Y ear Old and  18 Year Old. Until this trip I never thought I liked whisky. Now I realize I enjoy high end single malts. We had fun trying out scotches after we returned home from this vacation!!!

The tour was a long day but very enjoyable. I recommend it but you may want to spend extra time at Stirling like I did so perhaps a tour that is more castle centric might be for you. Cheers!