Monday, July 27, 2009

Opera in the Park and Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey ruins

Bolton Abbey and the river

Temple Newsam house (view from the back) It's a huge house, set on 1,500 acres SE of Leeds. The house is open to the public for tours, and there's also a "Manor Farm" petting zoo/interpretive centre. Note the lady w/ the white feather boa--some kiosk was selling boas, glow-sticks, bunny ears, etc. Not sure what this had to do with opera, but it was pretty hilarious.

The stage--this was a much bigger event than I'd expected. 50,000 people!

The crowd was mostly older people, and some really went all out with tables, silverware, champagne, candles, etc.

Stepping stones across a calmer bit of the river by Bolton Abbey.

Bolton Abbey ruins


Graveyard at Bolton Abbey--I think some of them are raised up because they were sinking over the years. It was weird, though--made them look like benches instead of graves.

On Saturday, we went to Opera in the Park out at Temple Newsam. It was really fantastic--they had an orchestra, a choir and 2 singers, and I recognized most of the songs they did. They did a couple from La Boheme, the only opera I've ever seen, so that was good. The man did an amazing job of Nessun Dorma for the finale. We didn't go all out w/ the picnic like some people--Richard brought lemon tartlettes, strawberries and cream, cinnamon rolls, etc. and I baked chocolate chip cookies (less than perfect, but edible). The weather was perfect--one of the sunniest evenings we've had in weeks! As we were heading to the parking lot, it started to drizzle a bit, so that was perfect timing.

On Sunday afternoon, we went to Bolton Abbey, about 3 miles past Ilkley. Had tea and cake at the Pavilion, then went on a walk along the river down to the Abbey itself. Just on the opposite side of one of the ruin walls is a church, so when we were in the ruins we heard a hymn being played (slightly eerie, because we didn't know there was a church there). A lovely little old lady chatted with us for a bit and let us peek inside the church--I think she was thrilled to have someone ask questions and chat.
All in all, another lovely weekend--now back to another week of working on the dissertation!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Robin Hood's Bay

People playing cricket on the beach--so English!

Absolutely covered in seaweed

View from the pub where we had lunch

Robin Hood's Bay is about 5 miles south of Whitby, and it's much harder to get to and much less touristy. The beach was rocky, like the ones in Puget Sound (Whitby had actual sand) and the water stays shallow quite a way out to sea (the rocks in that first picture are probably 30 yards out in the water--I was standing on another group of rocks).

Firenze: Last day

My hotel room view...of an A/C unit. I didn't take a shot w/ the shutters fully opened, because it looks right into somebody's kitchen and I didn't want to look like a creeper.

Closer-up view of the gorgeous Duomo facade

It's a bit windy...

Flower stalls along the Piazza della Repubblica

Along the Piazza della Repubblica, there are all these little shops and a few market stalls, as well as the Post Office (by far the most important thing for me to do in Italy)

Market at San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo

Vivoli--amazing gelateria on a little side street. Stacey recommended the pear caramel gelato, and the first time I went they didn't have it. I tried the raspberry and the coconut, though, and they were excellent. When I went back on my last day, they had the pear caramel--it was amazing!

Italian version of Harry Potter poster--"Oscuri segreti saranno revelati"--Dark secrets will be revealed!

Harry Potter e il Principe Mezzosangue--Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

So, I've never been one of those girls who fantasizes about weddings, but these dresses turned me into one (slightly). I passed this shop on Via Cavour everyday to and from my hotel, and I just love these dresses.

On my final day in Florence, I did all my souvenir shopping and mailed off my postcards. Was still a little worn out (I did way too much on that second day, as you can tell by the number of pics on day 2 vs. day 3 and 4!), so I stayed in the city centre. Had dinner at a touristy place near San Lorenzo and it was pretty awful--not even as good as what I can make at home. Travel lesson learned: avoid restaurants with multi-lingual menus. This one had every menu item written in Italian, English and Japanese. The house wine was sub-par and the tortellini was definitely just the dried pasta you can get in the store (tasted under-cooked and came to me way too fast to be fresh). Borgo Antico, on the other hand, had a hand-written menu in Italian and my tagliatelle with wild boar sauce took a long time to arrive...but it was worth the wait. It reminds me of that Ferenc Mate book, "The Hills of Tuscany", where he said the food takes forever and the Italians approach food/life with a relaxed attitude--piano, piano con calma (slowly, slowly, with patience).
The next morning I took the train to Pisa and had a quick cappuccino and croissant before flying back to Leeds. In just 2 hrs and 5 min, I went from 35 to 15 degrees (90 to 60) and from sun to rain--and I felt like I was home again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Firenze: Day 3

One of the piazzas near my hotel

Crowd outside the theater, waiting for the Harry Potter premiere

A little park along the Arno

Me along the Arno

In front of Santa Croce

Piazza di Santa Croce

The model for Cellini's "Perseus" (in the Museo di Bargello)

Dying Adonis--note that nasty gash in his leg

Courtyard of Bargello museum

Museo di Bargello (Bargello museum)

Looking towards the Dome from the Piazza di San Stefano

"Buongiorno, buongiorno, Ferdinando! We salute thee! The bronze came from Turkish cannons, captured by the knights of San Stefano..." (Piazza di San Stefano)

Firenze: Day 2, part 5

My supermarket feast--focaccia, provolone, prosciutto, strawberries, yogurt and tiramisu. They had tiny little wild strawberries in the store, too. And that tiramisu was great but very heavy on the rum--even more than Buca di Beppo!

Another trip across the Arno

By a fountain in the Palazzo Pitti courtyard

Via dei Cipressi (Cypress road)

Boboli gardens, looking down towards the back of Palazzo Pitti

Me with the Florence skyline view from Boboli gardens

My cheap Italian little black dress

A murky fountain/pond in Boboli gardens

In front of the Palazzo Pitti

Boboli gardens

Palazzo Pitti (such a plain front, but so much more ornate inside)

Giollerie (jewelry shops) on the Ponte Vecchio

View from the Ponte Vecchio

Me on the Ponte Vecchio

Street full of tourists, leading up to the Ponte Vecchio

Market--leather bags/shoes/jackets/etc. are the main touristy thing here

Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace)

Piazza della Signoria

Statues in the Loggia dei Lunzi

Me in the Loggia dei Lunzi

Cellini's "Perseus"

"Under a Loggia"

Cellini's "Perseus" surrounded by tourists

Loggia dei Lunzi on the Piazza della Signoria

Neptune's Fountain in the Piazza della Signoria

After Santa Croce, I wandered down to Piazza della Signoria. Had more gelato, stopped and bought a dress (because it was so hot out--in the 90's), and wandered down to the Ponte Vecchio. On the other side of the Arno, there's Palazzo Pitti, which is where the Medici family moved after living in the Palazzo Vecchio. They had Vasari design a secret, private passageway linking the 2 palaces--it goes over the river via the Ponte Vecchio and along the Uffizi gallery. Apparently it's still very hard to get a tour of the passageway--you have to 'know somebody' to get on the list and it costs over 100 Euros. The Palazzo Pitti was lovely--there are 6 museums inside and the tickets were really odd. For 12 Euros, you get into some of the museums, and for 10 Euros you get into the gardens and the other museums (the less popular ones, I suppose). I opted for the garden one, and it included the Treasures museum that houses Medici jewelery and art, so that was cool. I used Palazzo Pitti's bathrooms to change into my new dress, too :) On the way back to my hotel, I went to the supermarket and picked up some food for dinner--I always get a kick out of seeing normal, everyday things like grocery stores in foreign countries. Even here, even after 10 months in Leeds, I still love grocery shopping! It was so funny to see the things we think of as fancy Italian imports being sold as everyday common things--prosciutto, olives, focaccia, etc. Their pasta row was incredible, too!