travel

Autumn in the Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley, with its spectacular vistas is a wonderful place to visit in Autumn as the trees begin to change colors. There are small towns and farms to visit as well as B&B’s wineries, breweries, campgrounds and RV parks. We prefer to do our camping in hotels with nice bars, so the campgrounds are not in our plans. 

We recently took a short trip to Shenandoah Valley and stayed in the Iris Inn. The Iris Inn describes itself as a luxury retreat overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

The Iris Inn

It’s an apt description. We stayed in the Main Inn for a night so we could walk around the various paths in the woods of the valley. Unfortunately we were met by pouring rain, so that idea was scotched. Nevertheless we did see some of the spectacular sights of the Shenandoah Valley and will return someday. 

Here (below) are a couple of landscape photos from the trip. 

A landscape photo taken in the forest in Shenandoah Valley on a rainy morning,
Photo of Ttees in Shenendoah Valley as they begin to shed thier leaves in Autumn.

JFB

The Outer Banks

Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak our travel plans have changed quite a bit. The 2 month trip to Florence and Rome—well that didn’t happen. Three cheers for British Airways and Road Scholar for promptly sending us refunds after Italy shut down the country. The same can not be said for Hotel Adriano in Rome. After initially promising a refund, they tried to back out until we reported them to American Express. After that they saw the light. 

On a happier note, we traveled to the outer banks and stayed in Duck, North Carolina for two weeks. What a spectacular place–for instance, see the image below.

A beautiful pastel colored sky reflects soft morning light onto the beach in Duck, North Carolina

The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands located between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. There aren’t any cities on the 100 miles + of the Outer Banks. Instead the islands are mostly populated by small seaside villages and towns. It is a favorite vacation spot, attracting visitors from the Northeast as well as Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. 

We rented a house for a 2 week stay in Duck, a tony village with plenty of gorgeous beaches, fishing spots and restaurants.  That’s right. Restaurants you can actually go to and sit inside and have cocktails and dinner. Or you can get a table outside and relax over food and drinks. 

There are other places to go to as wee—for instance Kitty Hawk, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first historic flight in their flying machine back in December 1903. And then there is Corolla Park with the architectural masterpiece Whalehead and its Museum. 

If you get a chance, visit the Outer Banks and the town of Duck. You’ll be glad you did. 

Here are a couple of photos from our trip (below), taken with a Leica Q2 camera. Click on a photo to enlarge it. They can be licensed at Evocative Photos.

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In the District–Washington, DC

We spent a busy weekend in the nation’s capitol. Among other things we saw an absolutely terrific performance of My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center.  Shereen Ahmed, a 26 year old graduate of Townson University was perfectly cast as Eliza Doolittle. She lit up the stage with an astonishingly versatile voice which she combined with first rate acting. The Kennedy Center revival performances of My Fair Lady are the beginning of a national tour. Don’t miss it if it comes to a theatre near you. 

We stayed at the Watergate for the weekend which now advertises that you don’t have to break in to enjoy the place. We also got a chance to stop in to see the exhibits on display at the Phillips Collection of Modern art and the National Geographic Museum. The National Geographic had an exhibit featuring Jane Goodall, known for her path breaking field work on chimpanzees in Africa. Both the National Geographic and Phillips Collection Museums are certainly worth a visit when in DC. Finally I should mention a very good French Bistro, the Opaline Bar and Brasserie, where we had dinner. Good food, great atmosphere and a fine Martini can be had there. 

Some iPhone photos from our jaunt are below. 

JFB

The Watergate Hotel
Photo that focuses on one of the buildings in the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC


Stairwell and Window in the Phillips Museum
Photo looking out a window in the Phillips Collection Museum of Modern Art to a Washington DC neighborhood.
Kobacker Building
Washington, DC, USA — 1/18/2020. An iPhone photo of the exterior of the Arthur and Sara Jo Kobacker building that now serves as a home for the Religious Actions Center for reformed Judaism.
In the Phillips Museum
Photo of a painting that takes up an entire wall in a Phillips Collection exhibition.
The Cosmos Club
Photo of the outside of the Cosmos Club in Washington DC.

Stockholm, Sweden

We are back from traveling through the nordic countries for a couple of weeks, with Stockholm being the first stop. Stockholm is an extraordinarily beautiful (and clean) city. As are the other nordic cities we visited, as it turns out. 

It is a vibrant city, and with a population of just under 1 million people, it is the cultural, media, political and economic center of Sweden. Stockholm represents about 10% of the population of all of Sweden (about 10 million) but accounts for 1/3rd of Swedish GDP.  At 10 million people, Sweden is the 90th most populous country in the world. 

Sweden today is decidedly not the Sweden of the 1970s it was back when Bernie Sanders was a member of the socialist Liberty Union Party of Vermont. In the Freedom Index produced by CATO and the Fraser Institute, Sweden is tied with the U.S. at #17. To put this in context, New Zealand ranks #1, Switzerland #2, Hong Kong #3 Australia #4 and Canada #5. Toward the bottom is Russia, #119, and Venezuela at #160, just edges out Syria for last place at #161. 

The country’s population is largely homogenous, as are the rest of the Nordic countries, which may account for much of the nation’s sense of solidarity. But that might be changing as Sweden has recently had a good deal of trouble assimilating significant immigration from the middle east. 

During the winter months, Sweden only gets about 6 hours of sunlight a day. During the summer the Swedes are out in force to celebrate the warm and relatively sunny weather—they only get about 70 sunny days in a year. We were very lucky—we had terrific weather for most of the time we were there. 

Here (below) are some photos from our visit there. 

JFB

Stockholm, Sweden — July 16, 2019. Crowds of tourists in Old Town, Stockholm, explore a town square with colorful buildings.
Stockholm, Sweden — July 18, 2019. Swedish soldiers march in their ceremonial uniforms for the changing of the guard.
Stockholm, Sweden — July 17, 2019. A half-moon descends over Stockholm that is lit up for the night.
Stockholm, Sweden — July 16, 2019. A Street in Old Town is crowded with pedestrians, tourists and shoppers.
Stockholm, Sweden — July 16, 2019. On a cloudy day tour boats and ferries are docked in the Royal Canal near large hotels.

Two Days in Lyon, France

We spent a quick—too quick—couple of days in Lyon, France’s second largest city. According to Journal des Arts it is the second city for culture in France, coming in just behind Paris. The capital of the Lyon Metropolitan region, the city is a festival of museums, restaurants, cafes and historic architecture. We stayed in Vieux Lyon—the Old City—where we had stunning views of the town and could easily make our through the old streets to do some sightseeing. A quick ride in a funicular and we arrived at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, which overlooked the city.

 

Lyon, the gastronomical capital of France, is positioned between the Rhone and Saone Rivers, making it extraordinarily picturesque. In addition, Lyon is a college town. It is home to many well-regarded universities, and is ranked 34th in the world by students for desirability.

 

If you travel to France, it’s well worth a visit.

 

There are a few photos below of Lyon, taken in the Old City. Collections of photos taken in both Lyon and Paris are available in the galleries section. Licenses are available at www.evocativephotos.com

 

JFB

The Old City in Lyon, France
Lyon, France–November 6, 2017–Dwellings around the Old City section of Lyon. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is at the top of the hill. Editorial Use Only.

Building on the bank of the Stone River in Lyon
Lyon, France — November 5, 2017 — People, cars and colorful buildings on the bank of the Saone River in Lyon, France. Editorial Use Only.

Side street in the Old City of Lyon
Lyon, France–November 6, 2017–Shops and Restaurants clustered in the Old City section of Lyon. Editorial Use Only.

The Stone River in Lyon, France
Looking down the Saone River in Lyon, France, at dusk.

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