Saturday, October 04, 2008

Down Home Painting

Last week we found some great spots to paint out at the Mendenhall Campground. We have fall colors here! Some of them are moss, but the yellows and reds really show up against the dark evergreens and the gray skies.

And really, what is weather compared to the wonderful friendships we have formed with each other. The time to go out and find a spot, look at each others work, and catch up on art, family and personal news is pretty fantastic. Its good for the soul to have fellow artists to discuss contrast, value and the best kind of brushes!

We don't always get to jet off to exotic locals, or even drive out of town (via the ferry). Sometimes we just gather on Saturday mornings at the A&P to talk and conduct a little business (2009 calendar wizard Cristine is on us to get images picked!).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back to Portland

Try and match the caption to the picture!!!

Barbara sniffing apple blossoms in Wenatchee.

Jay and Nancy at the Portland International Guesthouse on 22nd and Flanders NW.

Paul and Mary Pat at our Portland splurge: Lucy's Table.

Cristine at the Japanese Gardens. (See, we DID do some art!)

Jay at the Portland Art Museum.

More Pictures from the Ranch Adventure

A tick! Removed from Jean's fur

A small portion of the boot display at Detro's Western Store in Riverside

The rattlesnake Mary Claire stepped over!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Cache Ranch Experience


We drove from Hood River up to Riverside on Tuesday, stopping at Vantage for grits and at Dry Coulee to learn the amazing geological history of the topography of the eastern part of this state and the Columbia Gorge. We arrived road weary at the Voelckers' Cache Ranch about 8 p.m.

The next day we took a hike (after being transported by truck up to the water hole along the river) to see some Indian paintings on the rocks. We saw some beautiful country and walked carefully, aware of ticks and rattlesnakes!

After the hike we were met at the field near the water hole with home made tamales, beer and sodas for lunch al fresco with Steve and Pat, and Winnie, our hosts here at the ranch. (AKA Paul's brother and his girlfriend, and Paul's mom!) It was a terrific experience.

Then Mary Claire managed step over a rattlesnake and even got a picture with Steve's assistance!

After painting by the river and picking fresh asparagus the painters returned home to another nice meal at Winnie's house. The next day we had another hike up above the houses to some small lakes, spotted lots of deer, some eagles, and great vistas. Perfect weather too, not too hot for us wussy Alaskans, and a nice breeze. We all had hats and sunscreen as well.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hood River Adventures

The traveling contingent of the Plein Reiners left cloudy, rainy Juneau on Friday May 2nd for points south. After overnighting in Portland and Seattle, the Portland contingent (Paul, Mary Pat, Mary Claire, Maryanne (gotta get all those Marys in!), Sue, Jane, Cristine and Jay left in two cars for Hood River, Oregon. Along the way traveled the Historic Columbia highway, saw many waterfalls, and ran into a wandering Juneauite (Joel Orelove) at a funeral for Sherlock Holmes (I'm just the reporter here . . .)

We arrived at our condos in Hood River, (some more directly than others - Nancy and Barbara and their always fallible sense of direction took some "adventures" before arriving.) We walked around the charming and trendy downtown of Hood River. After beers and wine at the Full Sail brewery, dinner was consumed and all walked back UP to the condos for a lively round of charades.

Everyone is quite excited to turn on the lights after being in uberconservation mode in Juneau.

Sunday was PERFECT! Sunny and warm at 70 degrees, not windy. We set out for Rowena to a high bluff area over the Columbia to a spot recommended by a local artist, formerly from Juneau, found in a local pottery shop! After a great morning of wild flowers, vistas and thinking about ticks we had lunch al fresco in one of the numerous parks in downtown Hood River. A really cute store was spotted by (guess . . . . ) Nancy, which lured most of us in, the economy was duly enriched and then off to our afternoon painting expedition which was to the valley behind Hood River.

The Hood River valley is full of flower fruit trees, vineyards, and seems like a large green pocket of heaven in a fairly dry landscape. A good afternoon of art activity later, a pleasant drive back and then a little wine and relaxation at the condo. We picked Celilo, a beautiful restaurant downtown for our splurge dinner. WONDERFUL food. Several of us had the black cod with morrells, greens and who knows what else. Just amazing, and a gorgeous atmosphere. Two large paintings by Ellen Dittebrant in the restaurant. (Nancy and Barbara have taken workshops from her.)

Home to sleep and get ready for the big drive up to Riverside and Cache Ranch!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Upcoming dis and dats (Sprinkles)

Well, this is Pua Maunu, contributing to the blog. Just some info of upcoming Plein Rein events:
  • April 30th is the submission deadline for an exhibit at the Juneau Arts and Culture center sometime between September 2008 and August 2009. Cristine Crooks has once again put together a wonderful proposal with the title" Rain and Shine". She has used photos of older work, so if you have something new, get it to her asap, and at least by this Friday, 4/25.
  • May 1 through 10- A group of Plein Rein painters will paint their way to Northeastern Washington via the Columbia Gorge. One of their highlights will be visiting Paul's mom on the farm! More details to follow.
  • May 2 through 30, Pua Maunu is the featured artist at Annie Kaills. You may visit the Annie Kaills website at to read about the new work.
  • July 10 - 13, 2008: Atlin Arts Festival. Sharon Lobaugh has generously invited the Plein Rein painters to come to Atlin to paint and take part in the Atlin Arts Festival. Pua is the point contact person coordinating between Sharon and the Plein Rein Painters, so please contact her if you are interested. There has been some interest from about 3 people thus far. . .

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Plein Rein Art Retreat 2008

We had AMAZING weather at our retreat on March 28, 29 and 30, 2008 at the Jubilee Cabin at the Shrine of St. Therese here in Juneau. Not only clear, sharp days and nights, but we got to celebrate Mary Pat's birthday.

Here are a few pictures of the weekend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November Glacier Eagle

The Plein Rein painters went to the Mendenhall Glacier on November 24, 2007, a day with off and on rain. The Pavilion offered shelter and a terrific view of an eagle perched in a cottonwood with the usual icy view.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pictures from July Painting workshops

Here are Barbara and Mary Claire having a lunch break up at the Juneau Mining Museum.

Barbara painting set up at Eagle Beach. More Eagle Beach shots of the group.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Welcome to Plein Rein's Blog

This blog is now open to Plein Rein members to post their work, pictures of plein rein outings and general art talk.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Exploring Cappadocia, Ballooning, herding cats!

Mary Claire and Sherri were wisked off to their hot air balloon adventure by Kapadokya Balloons Goreme. ( They came back to the Elif Star at 9:30 still elated by their adventure which included a fairly rough but entirely safe landing. They said that the operators were extremely professional and that they felt perfectly safe and very amazed at the whole process. Although this is one of the more expensive companies it has a flawless safety record and it sounded like it was worth every lira, euro or dollar that was spent.

After hearing of the sublime and the overall perspective of the area, we decided to stick close to home and take a look around. Mary Claire chose to hang out in Goreme and spent her time shopping and visting the downtown area. The other 7 of us drove to Zelve, a nearby area. The drive was interesting just because of the scenery on the way, but once we parked, Zelve was overwhelmed by visitors and didn't seem any nicer at all than Goreme, so we decided to go on to Avanos. Our plan was to take a short drive, spend an hour or so drawing and then to return to Goreme for lunch and have time afterwards to nap, walk etc. Avanos seems to be the largest town in this area, not that big really, with lots of new multi family housing and several half done apartment buildings. We wandered around with the plan to all return to the cars at 1:15 p.m.

Mary Anne and Barbara walked up into the old town and were charmed by several young girls who eagerly posed for numerous pictures after seeing the resulting image in the back of the digital camera. It was rather difficult to take a picture of anything at all without girls running to pose in the foreground. It was really nice, unfortunately when Barbara indicated that she needed to return to the car in town several of the girls began to beg for money. An older man sitting on a corner seemed to speak sharply to them and they stopped and we waved goodbye. Without question most of the people in Turkey are quite poor and if I had thought of it I would could have initially offered them each a lira as an offer of friendship but the begging part was relentless and seemed wrong. Hard to handle some of these situations gracefully and without a grasp of Turkish its hard to know how to offer someone money as a friend and not as charity that might be offensive.

Several of the cats, 5 in all, arrived at the car, but no Paul or Mary Pat were found. (We agree that trying to get all 8 of us back into the cars at the same time is like hearding cats.) Paul came running up after a while and told us that he and Mary Pat were just getting done with some purchases from a pottery shop = Chez Hassan Berzan. Hearing that Paul had bought pottery is like smelling blood in the water for us shopping sharks. We all had to go and see the shop. It was down a few earthen steps into Chez Hassan, the walls were covered with colorful Kutahya pottery and shelves of Hassan's earthenware. His kick style pottery wheel was right there, where he is obviously busy. Paul was quite impressed with his pottery skills and formed a bond with Hassan. The selection of Kutahya pottery was terrific and the prices were excellent. Do I need to say it again? I didn't think so.

We eventually left and drove back to Goreme for our usual late lunch. Nancy and Sherri found a great restaurant with a terrace, nice seating and a terrific view of Goreme. The now routine great Turkish food was produced. Of note was the 4 foot long board with a flat, thin, bubbly bread on the top - lavash. Very good and warm from the oven.

Back to the Elif Star, and some preperatory packing was accomplished. Now most of us are out around the pension sketching and painting the fantastic view from right here "at home". Dinner by Jackie will be later this evening and she would like an art show of our work. We agreed that it would be nice to see everything from everyone from our trip so we will have a show after dinner.

Tomorrow Jane, Sherri, Nancy and Barbara will drive to Ankara and drop off the car and then take a flight to Istanbul. They will stay in Istanbul for two nights before an early morning departure from Istanbul on Tuesday. The others will stay here another day and then drive to Ankara and overnight before a flight from Ankara to Istanbul and points west.

Visiting Viagra Valley

On Friday morning after a great nights sleep in each of our cave rooms, we woke for short exercise session for those so inclined, and cappucino for those either back down quickly or later rising. After a great breakfast here (many choices including Turkish breakfast, french toast, fruit and yoghurt, omelet or eggs cooked to order with bread and assorted jams and preserves and mysterious spreads) we headed out at no later than 10:30 a.m. for a trek over to the open air museum. We walked up through the village and on to a ridge with quite a panorama of the area. Then we eventually found a decent path down to "Love Valley", or Viagra Valley as Sherri said. We wandered through the large rock formations and flowers with dry but tilled fields. We met a couple of nice women selling their handiwork, consisting of embroidered and beaded objects primarily. One of the women's husband had a nice little couch like arrangement in the shade under a tree and Paul soon was invited to take a load off while shopping occured. The man then led us out of the valley to the main road, as he was on his way to the noon prayer at the mosque.

We then walked up the paved road towards the open air museum. It was noon by then and getting hotter. It was nice to go into some of the cave openings (not very deep) and also the many small rooms that were used a churches. The walls were painted and frescoed in parts.

The state run shop of handicrafts was a find. We were finally able to locate the copper pans in which eggs had been scrambled when we were in Selchuk at the Hotel Bella. Also lots of nice, unique hand made jewelry and other copper household objects such as lamps, cups etc. Great prices and no hassling, quite a relief.

Eventually we made it out of the museum and walked home to Goreme in search of refreshment and artistic inspiration. We all had Turkish pizzas I think, long pieces of dough filled with your choice and baked in a wood oven. Then some of us retired to our cool cave rooms to nap, and others retired to the local cappucino shop to draw and paint. All eventually met back at the Elif Star to our dinner of manti = tiny lamb ravioli with terrific vegetables and followed up with baba au rum.

At about 10 p.m. three rug guys from Sultanhami drove up with a carpet purchased on our ransacking of the area. (No names - my policy for now.) Coffee was drunk accompanied by tall tales of the carpet trade (to hear them they make absolutely no profit, and you might think the whole operation is a net loss.) Those of us still up stagger to bed, including Sherri, who was bound to a 5 a.m. wakeup for a balloon ride with Mary Claire.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Steppes, Caravansarais and Turkey on $1,000 a day!

Well, we continue to be amazed by the geography of Turkey. Today we drove out of Konya without too much trouble and headed northeast towards Cappadocia (pronounced Kappa doke ya). An early morning sketching session was managed before breakfast in a nearby square. We looked out at the Sevafettin Camii (Camii is pronounced Jam me, means mosque) as the city of Konya woke up. A nice sunny morning with a little chill in the air. Then after breakfast at the Otel Ursulan, we rolled the suitcases and assorted bags, backpacks and plastic bags to our otopark, the parking garage. As Paul put it, the otopark was a 5 minute walk or a 20 minute drive (the one way streets in this part of Konya managed to baffle our master navigators repeatedly, so walking was a much better option.) Leaving Konya in a large 4 lane highway we had a horse drawn cart being driven alongside us on the road.

Once out of the modern fringe of Konya the land was so flat, it is a steppe, and high altitude crops such as dry wheat are grown. Treeless for the most part. Some sheep being tended and some goats. Lots of horses, donkeys and small tracktors were being driven. We passed lots of modern looking houses but also some really old stone, mud and tree limb dwellings. We also saw several small groups of what seemed to be nomad type homes, large tented structures.

After an hour or two we noticed a fantastic volcanic form in the distance, snow covered and a perfect cone. As we drove out of the steppe there were perfect fields of green with rectangles of faint violet, then yellow from wildflowers in uncultivated areas. Alongside the road were beautiful purple thistles and yellow flowers as well as an occaisional sprinkling of blue flowers.

At a gas station while refueling the gas powered Focus, a traktor with 3 men on it drove up to fuel up, and MaryAnne took some pictures. The men then gave her their email address to send the photos back. As it turns out this seems to be a big deal in Turkey, in fact at one point a police car pulled Jane's car over. They stopped and the police came out and said "take my picture, take my picture!" Of course the occupants of the car complied, and then they were allowed to take off again.

We stopped at the best preserved caravanserai in Turkey: Sultanhani Caravanseria, for lunch and sketching. The caravanserai was a place that was exablished for the benefit of the traders using the Silk Road trading all sorts of good to and from Asia and Europe. It was a place of protection from bandits and a place to rest and eat and sleep. They were set up at a the distance of a days travel all along Turkey (and points east I assume). Anyway it was very impressive, the camel quarters were really neat, cavernous and huge, perhaps still smelling a bit of camel . . . I hate to have to say it, but apparently the siren call of woven goods managed to infiltrate the brains of some anonymous members of the group. There is a carpet repair and restoration shop in Sultanhani, they are known worldwide for their skill at repairing carpets of all kinds, European as well as Oriental. You can only guess the result. One of the more interesting moments involved Mary Anne getting dressed in a fancy silk outfit consisting of shalwar (turkish pants) and a fitted jacket. All antique silk and very beautiful. To complete the picture one of the shop owners put on another antique long jacket and pictures of the happy couple were taken, soon were joined by a cute little Turkish girl also in a costume. We only hope that this type of union is not legal in Turkey . . .

Despite delays related to commerce and electronics, and turning down an offer of a horse drawn wagon ride tour of Sultanhani, we eventually were able to depart for the last leg of the drive to Goreme. In the car we discussed the overwhelming consumerism we seem to have discovered in ourselves in the face of such handmade artworks, and decided we were well suited to writing a guidebook entitled "Turkey on $1,000 a day!" This would include the souveniers too! (Dear husbands at home - this is a JOKE!!!)
We got to Goreme about 5:30 p.m. and found the Elif Star Hotel and are delighted with our rooms which are literally carved into the stone. Nicely updated with modern bathrooms and showers. Each room is different and has a balcony overlooking the surrounding landscape. The landforms are quite beautiful and everywhere you look you can see that doors and windows are carved into the stone. Tomorrow we will explore on foot and bike and perhaps a better description.

No effort is needed to include the wonderful hospitality at the hotel, and the wamth of a couple of Turkish men at the Panorama, a bar soon to become a restaurant just down the road (past a couple of fields with a horse drawn plough in action.) We all needed to have a break to relax. The Cappadocia wine was great, the beer good, and the raki, well . . . lets just say that Sherri has found the best raki brand so far. Nancy, Barbara and Sherri decided to take it easy while the others set out for a little walk and the usual search for an ATM. A nice talk ensued with the father of the operation, Osman, who works in a winery and whose English is quite nice. His son, Barish, also visited. A free round of raki also occured. The three of us managed to make it back to the Elif Star under our own power, just barely. And we all had a great dinner with the BEST dessert made by Jakki, a British woman who now lives here. It was a very good brownie with caramel ice cream. Jakki promises to share the recipe with us.

All to bed now, under an almost full moon in a clear sky and the wierd and lovely landscape all around. The morning will be full of new discoveries! Got to get some sleep so I can get up early and see them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Beautiful drive to Konya

We had a beautıful drıve from Sıde to Konya. The roads were good, the traffıc was lıght and the vıews were fantastıc! It ıs hard to descrıbe how varıed and beautıful the area ıs. We drove up ınto the mountaıns and got up to some passes at 6,000 feet. There was snow on the mountaıns and ın some areas fruıt trees were bloomıng stıll. Lots of fertıle land agaın when ıt was flat.

We stopped at a fruıt stand run by what looked lıke a collectıon of older women, but after we showed up there were kıds and men. We bought drıed fıgs, almonds, local bananas and got to sample carob pods. Honey stands were frequent along the road. The road wound through the mountaıns and plaıns, around a large lake and up agaın. We stopped at a great place for lunch up hıgh ın the mountaıns at a huge brand new buıldıng that contaıned a store full of campıng equıpment, souvenıers, local foods, and a terrıfıc restaurant. The road we were drıvıng on was newly ımproved and thıs center was part of the upgrade. We had an assortment of foods, some great, great pide (bread) which was flat and round and baked right there in a stone oven. I took lots of pictures and promised to email them to a guy who will send them to the old baker guy. There was some great turkish type pizza on long breads with cheese and tomatoes. Great cooked vegetables, lamb, etc.

It was only about 2 hours to Konya but it took another hour to actually locate our hotel in the maze of little streets. The search for the hotel was quite frustrating but actually VERY interesting, as we passed though some very untouristy areas. At one point we parked the cars while Paul, Mary Pat, Mary Anne and Jane walked to find the hotel while the rest of us just stood around by the cars. We were soon surrounded by several friendly Turks offering help, trying to communicate, looking at our guidebook and gesturing that they would walk us to our hotel. We wanted to stay with the cars so as to minimize confusion and luckily a man speaking quite good English was able to help communicate why we would not accept this generous offer.

The man asked where we were from, what our jobs were and where our husbands were. He was a chemical engineer and the other guys were working in the surrounding shops (paint stores, hardware etc.) We had a very nice conversation, even if only nonverbally, with some of the men. Finally our walkers returned and it seemed that the hotel was quite close. Back into the cars and we threw ourselves back into the Konya traffic, it then got confusing again, finally Mary Anne and Jane found some familiar landmarks and the hotel was located! The Otel Ulusan is nice and spotless, beds appear to be a bit hard, but an immaculate oasis.

After we got into our rooms and settled for a few minutes we all ventured back out into the area of Konya near our hotel. There is a large market area, almost as big as Istanbul's Grand Bazaar but not under a roof, although fairly well covered. Very fun, everything was sold, food, spices, clothing, gold jewelry, silver jewelry, tons of shoes, harware, cooking utinsils, everything!!!

Konya is really neat. Everyone is polite and nice, nowhere near as much hassle as the more touristy areas. We all walked to see the big Mosque with one tower with beautiful tourquiose tiled tower. Then got together in the common area to share our stories and plan our early departure and the push on to Goreme!

Turkey continues to charm and astonish us, but the true beauty continues to come from the wamth of the Turkish people and thier kind and considerate care of us stupid tourists!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From Pamukkule to the Medıterranean Coast

We had a beautıful drıve on Tuesday from Pamukkule to Sıde. Near Pamukkule ıs a very large manufacturıng cıty, Denızlı, so we stopped at a textıle outlet store and managed to fınd a few more Pashmınas and assorted necessıtıes and gıfts. Mary Pat found a gorgeous beddıng set wıth poppıes embroıdered on the edges of sheets, duvet cover and pıllow cases.

Then the drıve down toward Antalya. We stopped at Kokutellı for pıcnıc supplıes and drove to Termessos to clımb up to the ruıns. All along the 4 hour drıve we went up and down ın altıtude full of verdant fıelds and fruıt trees and small towns on terrıfıc roads. Very lıttle traffıc also, whıch was nıce for our nerves. The weather couldn't have been better, sunny, a lıttle warm, but not hot. Sectıons of the countrysıde were remınıscent of Okanogan, others remınded us of New Mexıco and others were prıme Hood Rıver qualıty of land. Just beautıful wıth lots of people rıdıng on tracktors and workıng ın the fıelds.

Termessos was unbelıevable. The locatıon ıs hıgh up on some very rugged mountaıns. It was ıncredıble to ımagıne how all the huge marble pıeces were assembled ın thıs ımpregnable mountaın cıty, but even more dıffıcult to ımagıne was how 20,000 people could be fed and maıntaıned ın such an ınaccessıble locatıon. It was possıble, but not at all easy. Beautıful and ıncredıble theatre complex under the sky ın the mountaın pass.

Then to Sıde for a great room at the Beach Home Hotel. What a relıef to have a reservatıon after a long day and a long drıve. We were delıghted by the Beach House Hotel in Side, and recommend it highly.

More later, must fınd an ATM wıth the group.

On to Konya today!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Towards Pammukule, and about carpets and kilims

We left our wonderful hosts at the Hotel Bella ın Selchuk around noon on May 7, Sunday (sometimes its hard to remember!). The morning was spent first with the great breakfast, visiting with Nebi and Bernadette (fellow guests from Switzerland, Nebi being a Turk born and raised in Germany, but speaking Turkish, German and also fluent in English.) Our Swiss friends had to go back home that day, so good-byes and hugs were exchanged.

We picked up our laundry, done by Safiya (Teseker ederim!), and had another great breakfast, observed stork babies visibly grown bigger even in three days. After packing and fussing several of us went to the next door carpet store. Erdahl and Nazmi have been in the carpet business for the 18 years prior to buying the Hotel Bella, and continue it as a business. The invitable occured and several previously carpet-less persons (names are omitted to protect the writer from adverse actions of the buyers while in Turkey) acquired carpets. However after hearing from Nazmi about how the carpets are made it was much more meaningful to consider the hard work and the function within the culture that these handmade carpets play.

Here is a very quick summary of my understanding. In Turkish villages, in central Turkey mostly, girls are the carpet makers. They work on a loom in thier home. These looms are unique in size depending on how big the house is and where the loom can fit. A girl will start learning to make a carpet at around 14 or 15 years old and will learn from her mother. The design and colors are those that her mother teachers her. Colors are based on the vegetable dyes available in the area, so colors will vary depending on where the carpet is from. Each carpet is signed, if the maker remembers before it is completed. The family sells the carpets, which take from several months to more than a year to make, depending on the complexity. The money from the carpet sales goes to the girl's dowery. When a girl gets very good, she will work on the marriage carpet and if it is judged to be good enough it will not be sold. She will make two carpets, one for herself and one for her husband (or maybe it goes to the family of each one, I wasnt clear on this). These fine carpets are not for sale. They do come on the market later on if a family needs to sell one or inherits one. (We also learned that after about age 25 a woman is no longer 'fresh' and that her hopes of marriage are over, so apparently is the carpet weaving =dowery connection, and no longer weaves carpets = don't really know what she does then!)

The silk carpets are way more difficult and apparently only younger girls can make them because their fingers are smaller. (Their fingers get cut from the threads etc. I think Nazmi finally realized that we were starting to think that we should not support this cruel sounding industry and kind of stopped talking about this.) Silk carpets are only bought by the state, and the sellers buy them from the state. The wool carpets are bought by Nazmi when he goes to the villages in the winter.

There is much more, but realizing the individual character and the integral part these carpets play in the culture and economy of the villages makes each piece a lot more interesting.

So anyway, after some plastic was presented bundles were assembled and apparently DHL will be bringing a large package to Juneau in the near future. We can't wait to see what it was we got when it is back home and can be appreciated in its glory, rather than being considered amoung the colors and patterns of several hundred other carpets.

So, eventually we got out of Bella and went down into town and wandered into the charming streets of Selcuk itself. Very nice, fountains, tables set up on the sidewalk, restaurants operating and of course . . . rugs were for sale. Apparently other transactions to enrich the Turkish economy occured, but once again, what happens in Turkey, stays in Turkey, at least as far as this blog goes!

We drove out of Selcuk toward Pammukule. The countryside is really beautiful and fertile with lots of topography reminicent of New Mexico . . . hard to say, but obviously really good land.

It is wonderful. In an entirely different way than Italy. When walking and driving around you see alot of half finished buildings and modern rather worn construction. Zoning is completely absent, as you will see houses right next to factories and car showrooms. In Italy they seemed to have preserved alot of older stone buildings and still used them. Here I suppose that in recent centuries things have not been so prosperous. The Greek ruins are tremendous and then the Romans used them but after about 1400 it seems that huge marble structures were beyond the means of the local population.

The landscapes are very nice, fertile land, mountains and valleys. Really unpopulated by US and Italian standards. If Turkey enters the EU I would expect foreign investment and foreign resettlement to make things boom here. There is a haze even on good days which we can't figure out. It may be pollution or just humidity, locals can't seem to explain it to us either.

We took a big sidetrip to see Aphrodisias, a really wonderful spot. Waaay out in the fields, we passed many tracktors, donkeys and people walking. Several people working in the fields. Once at Aphrodisias we had the place to ourselves. There was the usual absoulutely incredible theatre and colums and lots of fallen colums. The unique feature here was the massive and intact stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 people! Enough for the whole town of Juneau! The inner part of the stadium was a field of cut grass. Just amazing. The smell of trees and grass and the quiet was very calming and wonderful.

Back into the cars and another hour and a half to Pammukule via Denizli, a huge town with tons of fancy car showrooms.

We arrived at the Hotel Venus, found very nice rooms with showers and all the amenities. Lots of light in the rooms, and each with its own balcony. (with view of adjacent hotel or swimming pool nestled right next to this building.) We had a great dinner here, inside as it was too chilly outside. Then all collapsed in our nice beds. This morning several energetic members of the group went out for a power walk and I found this nice computer to get my blog work done on.

Today we go up the Pammukule area and to Heieopolis, another ruin to explore and paint. Till then!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Another top day in Turkey

On Saturday we had an ambitious plan of touring and driving. We set off fairly early (for us) after a trip to a local ATM and some shopping, and snack purchases. We next had an intense conference with Nazmi about our route and some suggestions about a place for lunch. We took off in the two Ford Focuses with Paul driving the lead car and Jane driving the following car. The route took us along mostly two lane roads with the occaisional double lane road or passing lane. The Turkish drivers drove a routine 100 = 120 km per hour and Paul and Jane kept up with them! Still we got passed frequently. Quite amazing.

So we went to the three ruins, which I will correctly spell later, but our favorite spot we reached at 3 p.m. after a long drive around Lake Bofa = Heriakiles. Set in some amazing rocky hill with fantastic forms and pinkish and yellow stones was a little village of people raising a few cows, goats, donkeys, making honey etc. all along this huge lake with a few ruins from 3 thousand years ago. We had a late lunch at the Agora Pension, recommended by Nazmi. A beautiful setting with tons of roses, honeysuckle, morning glories. . .

We sketched at the Temple of Apollo and visited with some brave village boys. The ladies of the village saw blood in the water and hauled out thier crocheted work, beads and soap. We bought a few things and tried to stop, but even after we climbed up to the Temple they pursued us, goods in hand!

As the sun began to set we realized that we had better get back to Selchuck while we had light, so our brave drivers got us back in an hour and a half of steady driving.

We got back to a wonderful dinner with Nebi, Bernadette, and all of us. It was particularly special as we had three wonderful musicians to play Turkish music. This was very intimate and Nebi knew all the songs. It was great to see Savash, Erdahl and Nazmi enjoy the music as much if not more than the rest of us. They gathered around the table and sang along with the musicians and clapped and eventually almost everyone started dancing. It was raucous, wonderful, alive and seemed to demonstrate how warm and close the Turkish people are with each other and how welcoming they are to visitors. It was indescribably special.

More later perhaps as everyone is awake now, and I must have my last great breakfast here watching the storks feed their babies and visiting with our friends.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Rakı, Nargıles, Ephes and Frıendshıp

Our stay at the Hotel Bella here ın Selçuk has exceeded any expectatıons we could have had. The hospıtalıty, frıendshıp and level of cuısıne has been extraordınary. On the nıght we arrıved we decıded to have dınner here, up on the rooftop terrace that has become our favorıte spot. There are tables that are open to the aır and one end of the terrace has glazed walls on two sıdes and a brıck fıreplace on the the other. On the glazed end there are padded seats wıth huge cushıons on the back. The best wındow seats ın the world. But thats not all! The chef offers coffee and Turkısh tea all day long, the ınternet connectıon ıs up here, an extensıve travel lıbrary, other travelers collect up here, and ıf all else faıls to engage you, you can gaze up at the stork nest, castle and street lıfe.

On Friday we had a personal guide, Savash, a totally charming integral part of the triumvirate that run the Hotel Bella. First we went to the Efes Museum here in town, a very nice, informal but professional setup. Savash drove us up to Sirence = see ren jay, a hill town outside of Selchuk. Sirence is a nestled in the hills and after walking around we had a lunch at Pervin's terrace looking over the town = we had an assortment of very thin crepes with spinach, cheese and spinach inside, also some tiny lamb ravioli. All made by Pervin on the spot! We choose a large table with padded seats, and shared together.

Then we drove to Efesus. A very large and isolated site with a very long history, which I will not try to set out here. Luckily we all had cool clothes, hats and lots of sunscreen as we were fortunate to have a beautiful day at the ruins. We did have a sketching opportunity in a nice shady spot on some large marble steps looking out over the marble street that stretched out to the harbor of Efes. It used to be the terminus of the Silk Road and all the goods and trade between Asia and Europe occurred through Efesus. Just amazing.

Then we had Savash called and we got taken home. Paul decided to take a run home and managed to get back to the Hotel Bella with his usual unerring internal GPS. Before dinner Nazmi took us down to his carpet showroom and gave us all, including Nebi, one of new friends, a fantastic survey of tribal carpets. A lot about how they are made, the tradition of girls learning how to weave and getting better and better until they get so good they can sell their carpets and get married! I am not clearly setting this up, but these tribal carpets are part of a very traditional cultural practice that involves a major part of how these cultures function.

Another fantastic dinner at the Hotel Bella, lots of sharing and talking with Erdahl, Nazmi and Savash. Perhaps I can post some pictures to supplement the blog when I get home as I don't have time to paint the picture with words.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bella Turkey

This morning we packed up and left İstanbul for the aırport. The rıde to the aırport was ınterestıng as we sped through modern Istanbul mıxed wıth orıgınal stone walls erected ın 400 A.D. to protect Byzantıne Constantınople. These walls dıd the job for a thousand years untıl the Ottomans managed to take over.

Once ın the aırport thıngs went very smoothly, lots of securıty checks and Xrays but very courteous servıce. We flew on a new 727-800 to Izmır. In the less than one hour flıght they managed to serve us a lıttle lunch - salad or tuna sandwıch. It was nıce to see green fıelds down below, Istanbul ıs a huge cıty and very urban.

In Izmır we ımmedıately found Hertz and got our two Ford Focuses, one sılver and one blue. Wıth a lıttle extra ınsurance purchased from Hertz (car rental not covered by usual US ınsurance polıcıes and credıt card ınsurance) (Many pıctures taken of the scrapes and dıngs before the trıp, but Hertz agents saıd no problem - just hard to trust a rental car agency after years of bad experıences.) Paul and Jane became the desıgnated drıvers and we set out from the Izmır aırport to Selçuk. It was surprısıng easy wıth the help of the navıgator, drıver teams (I sat ın the back and was not ınvolved ın the drıvıng so got to watch the countrysıde.) It was only an hour to Selçuk and after the usual confusıon of fındıng an exact locatıon based on general maps, we found the Hotel Bella.

Haydur, the owner met us and made us feel ımmedıately welcome as well as several other staff members (I wıll get the names later.) One of the two men who welcomed us wıth tea up on the rooftop terrace ıs a mountaın clımber and we thınk that Sherrı's husband, Ken, would enjoy talkıng to hım. Everyone ıs well traveled, and very fun to talk to. We are havıng dınner here, a complete dınner wıth soup salad etc for 12 Turkısh Lıra - about 9 dollars. Served up on the terrace wıth a fıre. I wıll take lots of pıctures! (Well, I have taken lots of pıctures, but even more!)

Up here on the terrace ıs the dınıng room wıth tables and chaırs, the ınternet computer, and some nıce seatıng wıth pıllows along the end of the room, all wıth a vıew of an ancıent castle or some such ruın AND about 20 feet from the roof terrace, a stork nest wıth 5 baby storks! The mom and dad stork are constantly takıng turns gettıng food and sıttıng wıth the babıes. The babıes hatched about 5 days ago I understand are always pokıng theır heads up when a parent returns. I have a feelıng we wıll have lot of stork photos to share.

I thınk thats ıt for now. Its a relıef to be out of Istanbul just because of the pressure of a cıty and the carpet salesmen everywhere. On the other hand we were gettıng quıte comfortable wıth our area and we had a terrıfıc tıme there.

We are thınkıng of our frıends and famıly so send a comment ıf you lıke to share wıth the group!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What happens in Istanbul stays in Istanbul

A wonderful dinner at the comfortable and appropriately named "Sofa Pub" sofa is hall in Turkish, we got home, went to bed and got up for a prompt start for Topkapi Palace at 9 this morning. The sky was partly blue, windy and a little chilly but better than yesterday. Topkapi is quite near the hotel and a nice walk! We met at noon for a high class lunch at the restaurant on the Topkapi grounds. It was warm, room for 8 at a table and a magnificent view over the Bosphorus towards the Asian shore of Istanbul. Lots of ship traffic, including oil tankers chugging mightly north against the strong current coming south from the Black Sea.

After lunch we found spots for sketching and painting. Painting in public is such a magnet, we got many smiles and some kids came up to see what was going on. At one point Jane was surrounded by about 15 Turkish kids who wanted to see her paintings. They also got quite brave and sang the ABC song! After becoming completely chilled we all headed for Cigdem our cappucino and pastry shop. On the way some commerce occurred = see the title = which inspired envy in others in our group and benefitted more merchants.

Anyway, we eventually got back to the Apricot, some of us had dinner at the Sofa and now we have to pack for our trip to the airport and quick flight to Izmir.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tuesday, May 2 in İstanbul

I am wrıtıng from the ınternet cafe near the terrıfıc cappuchıno & pastry shop we love. (If they added some ınternet connectıons ıt would rıval our favorıte ınternet cafe ın Orvıeto), near the Aya Sofıa and the Blue Mosque.

Today was goıng to be Topkapı Day, but ıt turns out (despıte what a guard standıng outsıde saıd yesterday) ıt ıs not open on Tuesdays. Thıs mornıng the sky was clear and blue and there was a warmth ın the sun that we haven't felt so far. So another alternatıve was a Bosphorus boat trıp, or shoppıng, drawıng and walkıng around gawkıng. We chose the last optıon.

Our fırst detour ınvolved a seductıvely sofıstıcated carpet shop a lıttle over a half a block from the Aprıcot. It was (at least) three floors of amazıng thıngs. The owner was a very artıculate and charmıng Turkısh man (not at all uncommon ın the elıte carpet merchants of Istanbul.) We were lured ın ıntıally by the attractıve store layout wıth many ottomans (go fıgure!) upholstered wıth carpets and kılıms, shoes covered wıth kılım patterns, purses, handbags, brıefcases, and (lıterally) carpetbags. That just got us ın the door. As we spread out there were cushıon covers, wall hangıngs, etc.

We ınocently wandered up to the thırd floor where the maın carpets were. In a very low pressure and ınsıdıous way we became a wıllıng audıence of students regardıng the varıous types of carpets we were seeıng, theır unıque or not so unıque qualıty, thıer orıgın, purpose and even theır prıce. We became seduced by the charm and knowledge of the salesman
. . . (breathless pause) . . .
and managed to walk out empty handed, but wıth newly kındled desıres to own some of these unıque bıts of functıonal artwork. Please do not expect complete dısclosure ın thıs blog, I am pledged to protect the ıdentıty of my sources (and the extent to whıch they may be addıng to the next VISA bıll.) However ıf a FedEx package shows up on the porch, please take ıt ın!

We then walked up to the cappucıno place and had one of meals that defy classıfıcatıon - too early for lunch but long enough from breakfast that one feels a bıt ın need of an ındıfınable somethıng - whıch happened to be ıncredıbly complex and wonderful pastrıes. I ordered a creatıon of chocolate, cherrıes, mascapone, cake etc. all wrapped ınto a verıtıcal column of about 3 ınches hıgh and 2 ınches ın dıameter wıth varıous components layered wıthın the hard chocolate column shell. (Pıctures were taken) and the confectıon was passed around and shared.

Fılled wıth energy and optomısm we departed for the Suleymanı Mosque followıng Paul. We wen through the grounds of Topkapı Palace, lots of tulıps, hyacınths, paths and allees of trees. Along the pıcturesque route we traversed shops devoted to electronıcs, then fabrıcs, then trıms and buttons, etc. We got to the Spıce Market. Wow. We managed to stay together as a group and saw many foods, spıces, as well as all the jewelry, lamps, textıles, that we had seen ın the Grand Bazaar. A merchant seaman who had been to Wrangell but returned to Istanbul when hıs father dıed, a half Japanese half Turkısh man who was workıng ın the Spıce Bazarr, many very ınterestıng people. The Spıce Bazaar ıs a lıttle less overwhelmıng and not as bıg as the Grand Bazaar.

After that food was ın order and we all had kebab sandwıches rıght outsıde the Spıce Market then walked to the Suleımany Mosque. Very peaceful and beautıful. We separated to do some Art! (What a concept!) After a hour ın a beautıful courtyard drawıng and drınkıng Turkısh tea Jane, Nancy and Barbara became quıte chılled waıtıng for the others to show up, and eventually concluded that they had gone to the wrong tea place to rendezvous. We walked brıskly back wıth the aıd of our map and several helpful dırectıon gıvers. Your faıthful blogger decıded to come and update the Blog before gettıng back to hear the group dınner plans.

Everyone ıs havıng an amazıng tıme here and we are thınkıng of all our frıends and famıly.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Bath and the Grand Bazaar and the missing a

Letter a is not working on this keyboard so endure the funny spellings or stop now!

The group met bright nd erly this morning nd went to the Cermerlits Hmmn - (you never know how mny letter a there are!) Hmmn is Bath in Turkish. The experience ws interesting but so so. Mybe better elsewhere.

Then most of us went to the Grand Bazaar this morninig nd excped live. (This is just too hrd - more lter on better keybord. . . .

OK, thıs ıs better! After only a few mınutes ın the Grand Bazaar we became separated and contınued on ın smaller groups. At the end of the day, before goıng to dınner we had a Show and Tell ın Barbara's room at the Aprıcot. Some of the worthy accomplıshments of the day ıncluded the ınevıtable pashmına, scarves, turkısh slıppers, spıces, tea spoons, and some kabab skewers. What else, some lovely jewelry, coffee maker, and the rest I can't remember rıght now.

Dınner was held after a walk up the street towards the Empress Zoe. Varıous restaurants have men out on the street exhortıng and tryıng to strıke up converstatıons to get you to look at theır menu. Dıscounts offered. We fınally decıded on a nıce place that could take all 8 of us and trooped ın and up the staırs.

Wıne and Rakı were ordered and consumed prıor to the arrıval of the selected entrees. Lots of sharıng between plates. In honor of Mary Claıre's bırthday several toasts were made and after dessert the restaurant changed the musıc and Happy Bırthday was sung wıth the addıtıonal atrractıon of sparklers! And another dessert! The gang made ıt back to the Aprıcot ın one pıece.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Together in Istanbul

The Artists have Landed! We (all eight of us: Paul, Mary Pat, Sherri, Jane, Mary Claire, Mary Anne, Nancy and Barbara) have just had breakfast together at the Apricot and are heading out to Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque (right outside the window!). Luckily there is a free computer right here in the hotel so may be able to keep this regularly updated.

We are going out now, so more later!

Back to the blog. (Must excuse any atypıcal characters here - keyboards are dıfferent - cannot locate the comma and there are two 'i' letters - one wıth a dot and one wıthout a dot - the one wıthout a dot ıs ın the regular İ spot. Hope that thıs ıs decıferable. Also no spell check - AND thıs keyboard ıs dıfferent from the one at the Aprıcot. I got my memory card downloaded to a couple of CDs -16 YTL wıth delıvery to the restaurant where we were eatıng lunch!- and tryıed to upload some pıctures to the blog - but have not fıgured ıt out yet - the help menu and commands are ınt Turkısh - so a bit too much of a challenge rıght now.We all went into the Blue Mosque and then the Hagia Sofia. Wow. These buildıngs are very close to each other and also quıte quıte close to the Aprıcot Hotel.)

In anycase - plan ıs to do some ART thıs afternoon - and meet back at Aprıcot at 6:30 thıs evenıng - so thıs ıs my chance to update the blog.

Flıght from London to Istanbul was quıte smooth and passed quıckly. The map feature showıng our route was facınatıng - as Parıs then Germany then Eastern Europe and Greece passed by below our plane. The flıght was about 3 and a half hours and very smooth. Unfortunately when we got to the baggage claım Mary Claıre's luggage was mıssıng. Though rather dıstressıng a claım was fıled and the happy endıng ıs that they are delıverıng her suıtcase thıs afternoon to the Aprıcot.

A very quıck rıde from the aırport to Sultanamet happened after mıdnıght and we arrıved to fınd that the Aprıcot was one room short - but had found an alternate for one nıght - Nancy volunteered. A warm welcome from 24 year old Husseın who seemed a bıt dıssapoınted that the 4 ladıes were not so close to hıs age range. We were all ınterrogated as to whether any younger daughters were avaılable - Mary Anne's Claıre mıght meet Husseın's crıterıa - ı.e. young sıngle and female. Regardless of our advanced age Husseın enthusıastıcally trıed (wıth some success) to charm us ın what seems to be a natıonal characterıstıc so far.

Our rooms are basıc but clean and nıce wıth toılets and showers en suıte. My room benefıtted from the 5 a.m. prayer call quıte well - I heard every word but apparently fell back to sleep to awake at my alarm at 7:30 for a shower and then up to the rooftop for breakfast wıth the gang. Breakfast was very nıce - terrıfıc yoghurt (we suspect ıt ıs full fat as part of ıts attractıon) cheeses - breads - omelets (cheese or plaın) made to order - tomatoes - cucumbers - more later.

Then a quıck walk ınto the charmıng neıghborhood up to the Blue Mosque (not more than 5 or 10 mınutes) past only 5 - 10 carpet salesmen.

Everythıng seems more open and aıry that I had expected. Pretty paınted buıldıngs no more than 3 or 4 storıes hıgh. The mınarets of the Mosque and Aya Sofıa can be seen from lots of places. Hoards of people here today (Sunday) wıth lots of Turkısh people as well as lots of vısıtors from Europe and poınts west. Lots of kıds too.

Insıde both buıldıngs are bıg open areas gıvıng a quıte peaceful feelıng despıte the large numbers of people. Beautıful detaıls and decoratıon. I really can't fully descrıbe the areas other than that they seem so fılled wıth lıght and free of excess ornamentatıon that lots of more European publıc buıldıngs seem to be fılled wıth.

(Just lost the rest of thıs message and feel that I must quıt whıle I am ahead. More later.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday in London - Cortauld and Nat. Portrait Gallery Talk

After much hugging and well-wishing at the St. Margaret, Sherri and Jane wheeled their suitcases onto the Tube to get to Heathrow for the flight to Istanbul, and I headed to Somerset House, a very easy walk toward the Thames. After a bit of backtracking I found the Somerset House and was completely blown away after looking into it though the Strand Entrance. I saw a huge inner courtyard lined with impressive white stone buildings. The courtyard had a large flat area of fountains set flat on the ground that spout up to various height over time. That made me think how much my son Alex would have like to see it and figure out how it worked, and also how he would have loved to run through it (which was quite part of the design I think.) Anyway, the weather had gotten nicer and nicer, so a little bite seemed to be in order, and the cafe beckoned. What an excellent idea! I took my sandwich out on the Riverside Terrace, overlooking the Thames and basked in the sunshine. Perfect temperature and setting.

OK, but life is not ALL about eating and relaxing, so back to work, to LOOK at ART! I bought a ticket to see the Hermitage stuff and the Courtault Collection. Sped through the magnificent gold and Greek stuff the Russians had acquired, also coptic textiles from Egypt (who knew?) then to the Cortauld.

Words (almost) fail me regarding the experience of seeing so many famous Impressionist paintings in such a great setting, but I'll try. The setting is POSH, these rooms themselves are quite remarkable. Fancy ceilings and walls with some antique table type things and chairs to give it a little life, then these paintings hung quite nicely around the room. Not too many, each thoughtfully placed and separate from the others. Causes you to just breath a little slower and slow down. No crowds, subdued light coming in from the couryard windows. Some rooms have a central padded bench or seat for longer viewing. Go online and see what they have, its incredible. I took non-flash pictures of many of them, as permitted, but more just to remember that I was there. Only permitted after asking for permission and signing an agreement not to reproduce (I think, I just signed, bad lawyer behaviour).
Saw even more magnificent stuff on the next level, no photographs allowed, but got many art cards from the gift shop and even a book.

(As an aside, wise words from Sherri Brown on buying books while traveling: think of them as bricks, and think about carring them with you on your trip. So my theory is only buy if not available on internet and its REALLY special. Also have to remind self that London is one of most expensive cities in the world and that Turkey may have knockoffs of any little thing, and lots of handcrafted items so JUST WAIT!)

Anyway the Courtault was terrific, I highly recommend it, wish Jane and Sherri could have been there too.

So then I walked toward the National Portrait Gallery to see if I could get in to a talk by Paula Rago, artist of several remarkable portraits in the NPG, but artist of mostly other figurative work. Of particular interest is that she works in pastel! Anyway, the Art Gods were sending luck my way and I got into the talk (£3) after waiting in line with a few others hoping to get in to the sold out talk. I took about 4 pages of notes (in the dark) and was thrilled to hear her. Cannot explain it all, but will later. A BIG Thrill for me, how fortunate to luck into being here and getting to hear her.

So bouyed with that excitement I walked back to the hotel, but saw this internet cafe and decided to update y'all. Quite a big place but nicer than a previous huge internet place Jane, Sherri and I tried our first day. So now, out into the bustling crowd to the St. Margaret for my last sleep here in wonderful London. May correct my sense of direction by looking at the map. Our hotel has been such a perfect location for all these museums. Wonderful service, location and feeling (I told them to look at our Blog! Hello St. Margaret's!). Don't know about what to do tomorrow, maybe the Victoria and Albert or maybe not. Will have to get on the Tube by 1 p.m. I think, so not sure . . .

Perhaps next post from Turkey, whenever an internet cafe is located, might not be as easy as here.


London continued - update on Thursday and the Tates

Hard to think, but Paul and MaryPat are already in Istanbul, Sherri and Jane are probably landing about now, while Nancy is getting ready to board her plane in Seattle. By tomorrow night (11 p.m. Istanbul time) all of us will have arrived in various stages of jet-lag.

Meanwhile, back to the Thursday adventures, the Tates were both wonderful, especially the Tate Modern - from the refreshing, new way to look at spaces point of view. And the superb lunch/tea we had in the restaurant at the top of the Tate Modern put us in a very good mood. We took the lift up to the 7th floor and quite fortunately got a table right on the side of the restaurant, along the floor to ceiling windows that face the Thames and look down at the landscaped and textured waterfront and the city along the other side of the river in the background. No skyscrapers, a real mix of historic buildings and modern.

OK, OK, I know you want to know what we had to eat for lunch: Jane had a red onion tart with a salad of parmesan shavings and rocket (a rather challenging form of lettace), Sherri had a lovely arrangement of mackeral (sorry, can't find the spell check, my collegues at LAA know what a bad speller I am) and I had some steamed greens (dainty bits of broccoli) and a grautin of leeks (cut up lightly cooked leeks with a creamy cheesy thing sort of baked on the top.) Then we followed up with tea and scones, with the inevitable and quite addicting, clotted cream and jam. Clotted cream is not clotted at all that we could tell, its like a light, fresh butter, with a touch of sour cream perhaps. Whatever it is, we liked it. We justified this extravagant meal by calling it our dinner, rather than our usual dainty lunch (ha ha!)

So after lunch and actually looking through the collection, such as it was (half of it was being rehung, so we only got half, one half of which was very nicely displayed - abstracts by Rothko, Pollack, and lots of others, the other half was a bit more crowded and didn't seem as striking.) Then to save our feet for more gallery walking we took a genuine London taxi cab to the Tate Britain. Cute little taxi vehicle, pictures were taken, cost was £3 each including a generous tip (the driver had forgotten to turn on his fare machine for half the drive, but we tried to make it up to him.)

Tate Britain was nice, but we didn't have too much time there before it closed. Then out to walk up to St. Martin in the Fields, via St. James Park. Very nice walk, great to excape the cars and traffic and to admire the tulips and flowering trees and cheeky squirrels. Then to the church to pick up our tickets and get in line (can't figure out how to spell "que" for getting in line here)for seats when the doors open. We got in, £8 for seats on the side of the church with obscured view of the strings. Bach works for viola and other assorted pieces in the first half (we declined to purchase the program for £1, so who knows what they were playing.) (I have to say that after a while it all sounded quite similar . . . wish there were some winds playing that would have kept me a bit more involved perhaps!) At 8:30 it was announced that there would be a 20 minute interval, and we decided that we would call it a night, since we had to walk back to hotel and get ready to pack up tomorrow.

Walk back in the brisk air and the bustling street life was great. We walked right through Seven Dials, did not witness any murders or skulduggery however. (My mystery reading made me a bit apprehensive.)

A good nights sleep was had by all.

London Updates - Thursday and Friday

Sherri, Jane and I are all tapping away here at the Camera Shop/Cafe/Internet connection just down the street from the British Museum. It was nice to hear back from our Juneau friends sharing our trip vicariously.

Yesterday we walked our feet off by "doing" the Tate Modern and the Tate British, finishing off at a string concert at St. Martin in the Fields. After our usual wonderful breakfast at St. Margarets we decided to save our walking for the museums, and thus took a bus to St. Paul's Cathedral (Wow), and then a short walk accross the Milleneum Bridge to the Tate Modern. The Millenium Bridge is a pedestrian way that crosses the Thames and goes straight to the entrance of the Tate. The Tate Modern was fantastic, the building itself is a large converted power plant or something and the large scale of spaces is perfectly suited to the modern spirit of the art. Saw a great installation of boxes (maybe I can add a picture later)

For now, will have to finish up, since Jane and Sherri are packed and getting ready for one last shot of Britain before heading out to Heathrow for the flight to Istanbul. Barbara had to pack up just to move rooms in St. Margarets. Jane and Sherri will take the tube at about 2 p.m. Barbara has the Courthalt on her list and plans to wait for a last minute spot at an artist's talk at the National Portrait Gallery this evening. Then tomorrow more strolling and then to meet Nancy at Heathrow for the flight to Istanbul.

I promise to fill in food descriptions etc. but for now must log off and toddle off with the girls.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

London, Wednesday, April 26

The intrepid trio continue to enjoy beautiful Bloomsbury. We awoke quite late this morning, almost missed breakfast! But no, we managed to arrive in time for our poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and hot tea. There was bright blue sky outside and we planned to walk to Covent Garden and points towards the Thames guided by Jane our wonderful navigator and London guide.

Must mention our great dinner last night at Il Cataletto, a tiny jewel of a restaurant just round the corner. We had risotto with pheasant, crispelle with pumpkin and gnocchi with mushroom. You know, just the usual run of the mill fare . . . Very wonderful. Then we sketched in our room, inspired by Michaelangelo. Sherri was told to go to bed after 10 p.m., she was so excited by her new watercolor set, it was hard to stop!

So back to today, we got to Covent Garden via many little streets, none of them parallel to the other but all pretty and charming with great buildings and ornaments. We took a coffee break in the Garden and were seranaded by a string quartet. More sketching. Then, fortified we found ourselves in the vicinity of the National Portrait Gallery. We restricted ourselves to the first floor, which was contemporary portraits (1990 on). Very, very interesting and stimulating to see so many approaches to portraiture. Several large pastels, watercolors as well as oils and acrylics.

Then down to the cafe for a little energy in the form of soup, salad etc, followed with a chaser of scone with clotted cream (a little like soft butter that tends toward sour cream - quite wonderful) and a little individual pot of strawberry jam. Oh, and more tea. Tea involves your own pot of tea, a cup and saucer, a pot of milk and artisan like sugar cubes.

After the lunch we walked toward the Thames, saw the Houses of Parliament by way of the Embankment gardens. Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral (passed on the £10 entry fee and long line) and went to the gift shop instead. Very nice day and lots of views of incredible buildings and tons of security. Bobbies with automatic weapons! On the way back we tried to walk down Downing Street to have our picture taken with Tony or at least the "10", but large metal fences and lots of security prevented us.

We really walked steadily to get back to the hotel environs by 5:30 p.m. so that Barbara and Sherri could call home (8:30 a.m. in Juneau) before Barbara's Alex and Sherri's Ava got off to school. Barbara called from a phone box right outside the British Museum and heard the big news that it was actually decent in Juneau.

Enough for now I think, the chair here at my little internet hangout is less than comfortable, but the connection is fast and its close to the hotel, all plusses! Maybe a pub dinner tonight and sketching the private garden behind St. Margarets . . .

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

London, Day Two

Although technically its day two here, we feel like its our first real day, now that we are out of our sleep deprived state. After a great breakfast served at our hotel, consisting of poached eggs on toast, bacon, grilled tomatoes, tea, juice, prunes, etc. we set out for the British Museum at the crack of 11 a.m. Walking the 2 short blocks was easily accomplished and since entrance is free, we breezed right in. We had noticed that there is an special exhibition of Michaelangelo drawings, so we bought tickets for a 12:50 time for £10. Then went and browzed the Pre-history rooms.

The prehistory stuff was terrific. Lots of British stuff of course but also lots of European things and then quite a bit about the Byzantine era and Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire.

Then the Michaelangelo drawings ( which make you want to quit drawing altogether as well as dedicate yourself to anatomy and life drawing simultaneously.) Wow. A short stop at the special gift shop set up for that show, then lunch at 2:30 in the Court Yard Restaurant. Very nice and fairly expensive but a truely classy place - perfect for the likes of 3 classy lady artists from Juneau. Then more gift shops, postcard writing. We decide to split up so Sherri can nap, and Barbara can find a good internet spot, and Jane can explore. Plus they close the British Museum at 5 so we had to get out!

So tonight, who knows, we have to get our art practice in (Jane and Barbara did a little sketching in the Museum before it closed) but we probably will settle somewhere in one of the many public rooms in our hotel to draw. Dinner may be at a pub, but may not, we'll see. . .

Turkey seems lots closer now. London is full of international and local tourists, but not feeling crowed or hectic. Lots of flowering trees and spring flowers - we hear they are having a rather late spring.

Well, that is all for now!

The London adventures

We are here, and have had a nice long nights sleep at St. Margaret's Hotel in Bloomsbury. After landing at Heathrow and standing in an interminable passport entry line we found the Tube and rode the Picadilly line right into London. Got off at Russell Square and walked to our hotel (less than 10 minutes). After unpacking a little and putting our feet up on the wall (waterfall position from yoga) we forced ourselves to get up again and get out so that we could start resetting our clocks to London time. (Nine hours ahead of Juneau.)

Tea or some other form of caffeine was definitely in order, and was quickly found, along with a few refined carbohydrates of the sugary type. Then more strolling around to find an internet site. Along the way we found the BEST, quaintest arts store.

Here is a description of L Cornelissen & Son
105 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3RY

"Established in 1855, little has changed in this enchanting art supplies shop. Inside, its charming and old-fashioned. Towering shelves sweep up to the ceiling, lined with large glass jars of pigments and pastels.

A favorite in art circles, it stocks a wonderful array of brushes, calligraphy equipments, a specialize range of gold leaf and other decorative effects, oil paints, paper and a small selection of books. They even supply quills to film companies. It’s worth popping in, if just to get a glimpse of the unique interior and to soak up the musty smells and long-standing Victorian atmosphere."

Whoa . . . It is amazing, and close (uh oh!)

Then Sherri, Jane and Barbara decided we better do something art related, so we walked back to Russell Square and claimed a bench and sketched in the beautiful park under increasingly clear skies and setting sun.

Then back to the hotel and got a recommendation for a great Indian restaurant - The Chambelli. VERY nice, linen table cloths, quiet, and to top it all, absolutely terrific food and service. We managed to have a little dinner (sharing all around the lamb curry, lamb & spinach, and lentil soup, and the BEST Naan (flat fried bread fresh off the stove.) Then home to our basement bedroom with garden windows. We all slept from 9 till 2 a.m. then all woke around the same time and then managed to all get back to sleep - till about 8 a.m.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Anticipation . . . .

All over Juneau and Seattle we are each packing, unpacking, writing lists, making new lists, packing, tossing and turning, getting ready for our rendezvous in Istanbul!

This entry is our first and just a test at this point!