Travel Sketching: Key West, Florida

The Charming Village of Perast

The charming village of Perast is more famous for its two small islands than its historical and architecturally rich mainland. This is a small quiet town with a population of less than 400 where you can escape Montenegro’s the busier seaside resorts such as Kotor and Budva and enjoy a couple of leisurely hours strolling through the streets, and visiting a few museums and churches.

The two small islands are: St George, a tiny natural island, is covered by a monastery sheltered with cypress trees. The other, is called the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rocks, is an artificial island famous its little white church.

 

 

The Beautiful Bay of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor is one of the most stunning backdrops in the Mediterranean. Basically several small bays within a larger bay, it has the look of a fjord, or a large alpine lake. The surrounding mountains rise to over 1,800m and seem to plunge into the deep below.

Being one of Europe’s finest natural harbors its waters are calm and on occasion glassy, creating a reflection with astounding lucidity. IMG_0917 IMG_0918 IMG_0945 IMG_0946 IMG_0948

The first time I arrived in Kotor is unforgettable. The place is gifted with a superb natural setting, it draws comparisons to its northern neighbor Dubrovnik in Croatia. With long castle walls that line the ocean front before climbing up the steep slopes of Mount Lovcen, and a unique town square, this place is special.

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Getting lost in its charming, labyrinthine streets offers a great day on its own. Yet when you make your way up the 1,350 winding steps to the fortress of Sveti Ivan, that is when the true reward is found. You can witness how the townspeople of Kotor makes their delicious prosciutto, on the top of this mountain, you can find a hut where they smoke the meat for a year. And from this height you can see the wonderful bays below.

The Old Town of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a city in Eastern Europe whose popularity has been increasing greatly in the past few years. As of July 1, 2013 Croatia is now a member of the EU perhaps making it now even more popular destination for travelers. The city is most popular for an area known as the Old Town, which is fortified by defensive stonewalls which are known as some of the largest and most complete in Europe. IMG_1084

Entering an old city is to me always fascinating. I can’t help to picture how it would have looked like in the old days. The wall was enormous, high and mighty. The city was clean, welcoming, delightful and full of bright stone built houses nicely renovated, there were nice shops everywhere and what stroke me was, that it opposite the old city area of Mostar, Dubrovnik was an ordinary city with butcher, bakery and so on, not just tourist traps like bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. 1VAL_2483 2VAL_2484 7VAL_2498

I walked around in the old town before I decided to mount the city wall which was supposed to be an intriguing walk. The view was stunning and the height of the highest point I found breathtaking, everywhere that I walked I was surrounded by beauty because the city was wonderful with its white clean house walls and orange roofs, but also the sea to one side and the mountain to the other made it all fantastically picturesque.

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The Beauty of Tuscany: Pisa & Florence

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One of Italy’s most known architectural structures is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. “It really leans!!!” It is a freestanding bell tower that is tilted to one side because the foundation on ground on one side was too soft to support its own weight.

This campanile is part of the Piazza dei Miracoli otherwise known as Piazza del Duomo, where there are four great religious structures – the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Campanile (Leaning Tower) and the Camposanto Monumentale.

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FLORENCE:  As soon as I arrived in Florence, I knew there was something unique about this city. Everything clicked – it was love at first sight. Florence is a beautiful city in Tuscany. It has gorgeous alleys and squares and the best gelato I had tasted!

From basilicas and palaces to squares and statues, the city is overflowing with masterpieces in the styles of the Renaissance, Gothic, and Neo-Classical periods. Lucky, I was prepared to have a sore neck after a day out from my head constantly twisting from side to side.

27VAL_0662 59VAL_0715 63VAL_0721 64VAL_0723 65VAL_0725Florence is a captivating city, with narrow winding medieval alleys that somehow always seem to lead to the Duomo or the Santa Maria dei Fiori, the most iconic building in Florence.

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One of my favorites was Ponte Vecchio, a bridge unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – shops are built along both sides of the medieval stone bridge, many with an extension so that the shops hang over the river.