Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV)

Friday, June 30, 2023

Back in the USA for almost a full month, we paid a visit with friends to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) in Winchester, Virginia.  By car, the Museum complex is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Reston Town Center, but it feels like a different world. Reston Town Center is decidedly urban; Winchester Virginia, next door to where the Museum is located is rural. Instead of high rises, it and the surrounding area is a mix of rolling hills, working farms and vineyards. 

A photo of a pond situated in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

The Museum has periodic exhibits and various types of activities. (For a schedule of events, exhibitions and directions see In addition to the Museum gardens we saw an exhibition entitled Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects ® Made with Lego Bricks ®. The exhibition celebrated nature with a display of various wildlife animals, all constructed with Lego ® Bricks. 

Photo of a polar bear and cubs constructed entirely from Lego bricks

The animal statues were actually pretty difficult to photograph because the temptation is to get up close to take a picture. But that is like getting a close-up view of an impressionist painting. You wind up getting a view of the individual bricks (or dots of paint or pixels) while missing the overall effect. And the overall effectis pretty amazing. 

Beyond the animal statues were the gardens, which were immaculately laid out and maintained. There were walking paths, flower gardens, streams, a pond and park benches to sit on and just observe the surroundings.

Wide angle photo of a park bench in a seating area in the garden of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
Photo of Black-Eyed Susan flowers in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Photo of a stream running through the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
A wide angle photo of a walking path in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

All in all, the MSV was pretty impressive and well worth a visit if you are in the area. 


End of the Line: Barcelona & Girona

3 Glorious Days in Barcelona & Girona

When we sailed into Barcelona on May 30 we were ready for a planned 3 day stop with a side trip to Girona.  Except for what we needed for the next few days, our luggage was on its way back to the States.  

We checked into a 5-Star NH Hotel with a fabulous location on the Rambla de Catalunya, a wide boulevard that is the equivalent of the Champs Élysées in Paris, or the via Veneto in Rome. It was within walking distance of a lot of places we wanted to see. And it had a rooftop bar overlooking the city, which we, of course, visited. The Rambla, like the Via Veneto, also had plenty of outdoor dining spots, which we frequented as well. 

Overlooking Barcelona from a Rooftop Bar; Segrada Familia is in the background

One of the first things we did was to go on a guided walking tour of Barcelona. (We did a lot of walking tours). The tour included a visit to the exterior of the Sagrada Familia, designed by the famous Catalán architect, Antoni Gaudi. Later we got tickets and saw the interior of the church. 

Outside Sagrada Familia
Vertical of Church Door
Barcelona. Spain — June 1, 2023. A wide-angle photo of stained glass windows taken inside the famous Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi.

After visiting the church we did a walking tour that included some older neighborhoods. In our travels we walked through numerous town squares with outside dining. One street we came upon was shielded with colorful umbrellas. 

Colorful Umbrellas Cover a Side Street

We also paid a visit to the MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art. The architecture of the building was very interesting; the exhibits less so. As it happens, the area outside the MACBA Museum is popular with skateboarders. There they practice their skills jumping onto ramps with skateboards. Not a sport for the faint-hearted.  


Trip to Girona

The second day of our visit we went to Girona where we did a walking tour of the old city.  It was a stunningly beautiful place. We walked through neighborhoods that had been revitalized with artisan shops, along a river running through the city, as well as historic UNESCO designated neighborhoods with stunning architecture. 

Along the River in Girona
Outdoor Dining in Girona
Tourists in Independence Square
Tourist Photographs 2 Buskers in a Courtyard
Bridge Across Onyar River

Later that afternoon it was back to Barcelona where we spent the following day visiting a farmer’s market type of a place, traveled around the city on a hop-on, hop-off bus. Then we had a fabulous dinner at La Cabrera Barcelona, an Argentinian steakhouse. 

Plaza Castellana in Barcelona
La Cabrera Argentinian Steak House

After 3 days in Barcelona and Girona it was time to fly back to Dulles and life in Virginia. But, as they say: Wait–there’s more! We will be traveling through France and Italy in August and September. You can keep up just by going to where we will continue to post. And if you want to log-in to the site, just send an e-mail to with the word “Register” in the Subject line. 


Back on the European Mainland

Back to Mainland Europe

June 1, 2023

Granada, Spain

We arrived in the Spanish province of Granada on the European mainland on May 28, 2023. Now I know how Columbus must have felt after he landed in the New World and finally got a halfway decent WIFI signal. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. 

So upon docking in Granada we settled back to have a couple of Bloody Marys (to fight scurvy of course) and went on tour. Maybe another slight embellishment. Anyway, we had already been to Alhambra so we went on a tour that included a small village in the mountains as well as the Nazari Gardens.

Small Village in Granada Province

We also visited the Bodega Senorio where we toured the vineyard, tasted some wine and bought a bottle to take back to the ship. Surprisingly enough, the wine was gone by late evening. 

All told the village was charming, the Nazari Gardens were refreshing and well laid out. The tour guide from the gardens was excellent.

Village Center
A Stream in Nazari Gardens

The vineyard and hotel complex were well maintained, and the wine was delicious. 

Vineyard at Bodega Senorio
Bodega Senoria

It was very nice to get back to mainland Europe. Now it’s off to Barcelona for a few days before we fly back to Virginia to complete our trip.