LONDON, BORDEAUX, PARIS
(and a day trip to Hampton Ct, Stonehenge, & Bath)
London, Bordeaux, Paris – and more (June 14-23, 2019)
What a wonderful time!
Got away to visit London (with a day trip to Hampton Court, Stonehenge, and Bath), Bordeaux (the city and nearby wineries), and Paris. Never had been to London; were joined by RemDana, Berto, and Jeff in Bordeaux; and revisited Paris, having been there 38 years ago for our honeymoon.
London. Could not help but feel odd visiting the home of the original colonizers. The British Museum for all its grandeur is the place of stolen treasures. The churches are Catholic lite – I totally missed my saints and story-telling stained glass… And the whole thing about the monarchy bothered me. Not for me. Yet I am so glad I visited. I very much respect the British references to the pain and loss of wars – everywhere, including their churches. They lived through it; I did not… The Eye, the Thames, and the squares were well worth it. And then there are the pubs and the ale. Good stuff! (But about those fish and chips and pies – not so good.)
Hampton Court’s ode to Henry VIII is totally not for me. Here’s a guy who broke away from the Church because he wanted to get a divorce. Six times over… There’s something that just does not seem right to me that the genesis of a church be this… And then there’s all the anti-Catholic persecution… But, I get it. The Church of England has evolved to a legitimate Christian faith that has added so much to our broader spirituality.
Stonehenge I liked. Not for everyone. Some would say Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks. For me, this is quite a contemplative place. A place where early humans saw the need for rituals and symbols – parts of any functioning society. Mystically interesting. Glad to have visited.
Bath looks better in pictures. Walking around it seemed grungy and unkept. Not wowed by it. But, I get the Jane Austin references and what it might have been. Not impressed.
Then it was on to Bordeaux, the City and five nearby wineries. The City was an unexpected surprise. Much bigger than I expected. Beautiful spaces, places, and architecture. Walking around was easy and a joy. The new transit system juxtaposition on the historic buildings works. The plazas work. The diversity keeps it real. The Wine Museum’s hi-tech is interesting – but wonder if it will stand the test of time. The food was excellent.
The five wineries we visited were simply out of this world. It helped we had private tours (thanks to winning the opportunity at a silent auction for our local homeless services provider.) The chateau where we stayed was wonderful. Berto enjoyed it all – and behaved as well as any 3 year old can be expected to behave in such a setting. The lunches were spectacular, including artistic food presentation – with a taste to match… And the wine? Out. Of. This. World.
Lastly there was Paris. To some an overhyped place. To us, an enchanting place. A place where we could go back to over and over. The sights are never tiring. The vistas are so majestic. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc the Triomphe, and the Seine – all awesome. The Moulin Rouge was plain fun… Visiting Notre Dame was very special. To see this historic church wounded by the recent fire, but yet standing tall was nothing short of existential. Notre Dame as a symbol of our broken church of the moment is not lost on me. It too will be repaired, embracing the best of the past and infusing modernity as warranted.
A wonderful vacation indeed…
p.s.: With all the crud and crap going on in this destabilizing world, while on vacation we could not help but think lots about how important it is for people to travel, experience other worlds, appreciate diversity, and simply enjoy being with others… And, how in this United States of ours there is a deep divide between the people that like to experience different cultures and connect with others and those that rather stay put, stay with the known, and simply not care about the world outside their own… Travel on.
FELIZ NAVIDAD 2018
What a year indeed!
Our year was full of blessings and experiences. We continue our journey in Silver Spring, Cuba, and beyond, piggying out to celebrate, traveling near and far, and enJoying life as the awesomest gift it is. Grandparenting continues to be ever more fun. And our extended familia continues to grow and grow. And grow.
The year brought sadness also. Close friends passed away; other friends lost their loved ones. These difficult moments surely bring meaning to relationships… And remind us to recommit to what matters most: Family, Friends, Faith.
In case we missed each other in person or on social media, please check out www.Reemberto.Info for highlights of our outings – and more – during the year.
Here’s to good cheers and staying connected!
What a wonderful trip!
For eight days in August, 2018 we were fortunate to visit the great cities of Venice and Florence in Italy.
We also ventured into four smaller cities, Murano, Burano, Pisa, and Lucca.
Of course, we had to partake of the Chintely wine country as well!
enJoy the pictures – and the one video:
(This is a full 30+ minute video, with more than 20 short takes – plus a few ‘sounds of the streets’.)
Leave NEWARK Wed. Aug. 1 11:30 p.m.
Arrive ROME Thu. Aug. 2 1:40 p.m.
GETTING TO VENICE ON TRAIN
Check IN Thu. Aug. 2nd
Ca’ del Duca
Calle dei Fabbri 916, Venice, VE, 30124 Italy
Check OUT Mon. Aug. 6th
Thu. Aug. 2nd (Evening)
> go straight to hotel – get there late!
Fri. Aug. 3rd
Doge Museum, St Mark, Walk Tour (Daytime)
Sat. Aug. 4th
St. Mark Cathedral 11 a.m.
Sun. Aug. 5th
Mass and Walk around
Mon. Aug. 6th
GETTING TO FLORENCE TRAIN- TO DO!
Check IN Mon. Aug. 6th
Via De Lamberti 5, Florence, FI, 50123 Italy
Check OUT Fri. Aug. 10 6:05 p.m.
Mon. Aug. 6th
Tue. Aug. 7th
Tour of city
Wed. Aug. 8th
Pisa and Luca day trip
Thur. Aug. 9th
Tuscany Wine Tour
Fri. Aug. 10
BACK TO ROME ON TRAIN ???
Leave ROME Fri. Aug. 10 6:05 p.m.
Arrive NEWARK Fri. Aug. 10 9:25 p.m.
Map of churches in Florence
It saddens me to reflect on how as we evolve to a digital life form we no longer have physical records of our history and aspirations. Where will the great paintings be? Where will be the great printed books be? Where will be the magnificent statues of our civilization be if all is digital and nothing is physical?… We may be left only with buildings and non-descript conduits of digital information but no visible physical record of our times… Realism in art all but disappeared in Europe for more than a millennium after the fall of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance… What if the ‘experiment’ with the digital age takes us down a similar road where we will lose the capacity to appreciate the real because we live in a digital state?
What a shame that after Vatican Council II, we did not think through the perceptual consequence of having a new simpler alter deface the view of the original… We could have done better.
The gore and violence of religious art is real and everywhere! Storytelling at its best. The language of graphics rather than letters…
Families March, Myrtle Beach, 4th of July, and Heavenly Bodies – and NYC (July 2018)
What a wonderful week!
In the span of nine days we participated in various activities and outtings that merit memoralizing with pictures. Each gets their own album:
 We began by joining in the national march advocating to keep families together as they seek assylum entering this country.
 After the march we drove to Myrtle Beach to visit our good friends, Dave and Denise to see Dave act in a play at a community theater – and go to the beach.
 We came home in time to partake in the Takoma Park 4th of July Parade and later enjoyed the fireworks after visiting with neighbors for a cookout.
 After resting for a brief couple of days we took Greyhound to NYC where we thoroughly took in the amazing exhibit at the Met – and Cloisters – “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. We also had a blast at the Guantanamera Restaurant.
Three mini videos moments capture the fun:
All said, it was a wonderful week to celebrate GD’s birthday!
(scroll down to links to pictures and videos)
What a wonderful time it was!
Sunday, May 27th, 2018 we were blessed with the accompaniment of friends and family for yet another lechón.
This time we made some ‘adjustments’ to how we prepared and cooked the lechón that proved to work rather well. It made for a tastier, crispier lechón. As usual we bought a free-range never frozen lechón from Canales Meat – at the Eastern Market in D.C. But this time we over-injected mojo and cooked it slower – 5 hours before turning it over for an additional 1 ½ , and then let it ‘breathe’ for another hour. It made a difference in taste for sure!
We also set up the bar with mostly rum. And Salvadorian Tic Tac, Ethiopian moonshine, and an array of other libations from many parts of the world, along with beer, cola, water, and GD’s mojito, of course. And, we had the Legendary Dave-O D.J. provide awesome music to enhance the mood.
We arranged the yard as has become customary, with tents. This time we added a third tent to cover the lechón. Earlier in the year we had covered the patio with brick – which made a major difference from the days when the area would turn into a mud puddle with the slightest rain.
And rain it did – the day before. A torrential downpour that turned the backyard into a swamp with waterfalls and all. The forecast indicated a 90% chance of rain for Sunday – the day of the lechón – so we had to prepare the inside of the house for the inevitability of rain… Yet the rain never came! God was good to us. (I think she likes these family/friend gatherings.)
The day-of we set up the Caja China at 6:30 a.m. and had the lechón ready for carving by 2 p.m. because of the expected rain (that never came.) Friends and family – including four dogs and many children – came by to enJoy the festivities. It was very cool to share with amigos from Senegal, Thailand, India, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the U.S., and the Republic of Takoma Park.
No agendas. No timeframe. No set start / end time… Indeed, we lit up the stogies late at night, and sat around till after 1:00 a.m… Just a gathering with good folks to share stories, converse, catch up, and pass the time in good nature fun… Nada mas.
A wonderful time indeed.
400 artists. 2 weeks.
Cuba came to the Kennedy Center for this amazing display of art from the island. We were fortunate to go to four events and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it… Such a paradox. So much talented Cuban artists – in and outside the Island. Yet, such a repressive government… Our challenge continues to be separating the people from the government, promoting people-to-people interaction, staying away from the politics, and enJoying the culture, life, and beauty that is Cuba.
The events we went to included:
- Havana Lyceum Orchestra with Ulises Hernandez and Ali Arango
- Aymee Nuviola with Dr. Ed Calle
- Haydee Milanes & Trio with Pablo Milanes
- Argos Teatro “10 Millones”
It was very cool to also enjoy free entertainment at the Millennium Stage before the show; and free ‘fiestas’ afterwards, with live music and more.