Monthly Archives: February 2013

Historic Tower of London

Tower of London


There are over 900 years of history surrounding the Tower of London. That’s much too much to write about here. So, I’m not going to go into every detail. But I wanted to write about The Tower of London because it is a must-see if you ever get a chance to visit England’s capital city.

Over those hundreds of years, the Tower served as a royal palace, prison, armory, treasury, the home to the Royal Mint and the Crown Jewels, and even a zoo. Today it’s one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.

Tower of London         Tower of London

Construction started on The White Tower, the huge building in the middle of the site, in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Throughout the years, the fortress was expanded. Other towers, barracks and halls were built by the reigning kings.

One of the best ways to tour the site is guided by one of the famous Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters. They’re not just tour guides, they’re Tower of London historians and can answer pretty much any question you have about the site. Yeoman Warders have been a part of the Tower since around 1509 and were originally royal bodyguards.

Yeoman Warder          Tower of London

The Crown Jewels of the UK are housed in the Waterloo Barracks building. Though photographs are prohibited, the crown jewels are definitely worth seeing in person.

Waterloo Barracks          Model

Fans of military history will enjoy seeing the various suits of armor worn by kings throughout the centuries. And you can see what life was like living at the Tower in the Medieval Palace, residence for many of the kings and queens of England.

Armor          Armor

In addition to being the famous site of various executions, including those of Henry the VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the Tower of London is also home to a small flock of ravens. Legend has it that Charles II said that if the ravens ever left the Tower, the monarchy would fall. The ravens are still there and so is the UK.

Raven          Tower of London

Even if you aren’t a history buff, The Tower of London is one of the iconic landmarks in the city and worth taking a look at.

Dates of Visit:  May 2005 

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ca’ d’Zan: An Italian Mansion in Sarasota

Ca' d'Zan exterior


A few months ago, a TV station in Tampa aired a story about the Ca’ d’Zan mansion in Sarasota. I remembered that I had been there several years ago and found all the photos I had taken. So, I thought I’d write about this amazing home built for John and Mable Ringling of Ringling Bros. Circus fame.

The Ringlings loved the city of Venice, Italy and wanted their winter home to reflect the beauty and grandeur of the Venetian Gothic architecture they admired. They commissioned architect Dwight James Baum to design the house. It was completed at the end of 1925 at a cost of $1.5 million.

Interior Ca' d'Zan          Interior Ca' d'Zan

Interior Ca' d'Zan          Interior Ca' d'Zan

Ca’ d’Zan, which means “House of John” in Venetian, has 41 rooms filled with art and original furnishings, about 95% of them are original pieces purchased by Mable. There are 15 bathrooms in this five story, 36,000 square foot residence. The mansion overlooks Sarasota Bay, a location that the Ringlings chose because it reminded them of the Grand Canal of Venice.

Interior Ca' d'Zan          Interior Ca' d'Zan

After completing the Ca’ d’Zan mansion, Ringling commissioned the building of an art museum on the property to house his personal art collection. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the official state art museum of Florida. It opened in October of 1931.

Ext Museum          Museum

Museum          Museum

The 21 galleries contain more than 10,000 objects including sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, tapestries and paintings, some by world-renowned artists Rubens, El Greco, Titian, van Dyck and Tintoretto. The museum emulates the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, Italy.

Museum          Museum

Dates of Visit:  June 2003

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Architecture of EPCOT

Japanese Torii


For those of you who have been following my blog for the past year, (Wow! A year already. Thank you to everyone!) you know that my favorite Walt Disney World theme park is EPCOT. And my favorite part of EPCOT is World Showcase. I’ve always loved to travel and around World Showcase you can visit 10 foreign countries all in one afternoon.

To pay tribute to those countries around the lagoon and to give you a taste of what those countries are really like, the Disney Imagineers did a beautiful job of recreating the architecture of each country when they designed the different pavilions. I’ve gathered some photos from both EPCOT and the countries to give you a comparison. EPCOT photos on the left, real places on the right.

Canada is patterned after a 19th century French chateau in Quebec City.

Canada Pavilion            Canada Quebec City

The toy store in the United Kingdom pavilion is designed to look like Hampton Court Castle.

UK Toy Store    Hampton Court Castle

And, of course, there’s Paris, France’s iconic Eiffel Tower.

France Pavilion  Eiffel Tower

Morocco features a replica of the Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakesh.

Morocco pavilion            Minaret in Marrakesh

Japan’s pagoda is representative of many pagodas of the Far East.

Japan Pavilion           Pagoda in Japan

The US pavilion’s colonial-style was inspired by Independence Hall, Boston’s Old State House, Jefferson’s Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg.

American Adventure      Independence Hall

Italy looks just like the Doges Palace in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Italy Pavilion     Italy Doges Palace

Germany’s architecture pays homage to the German town square, or Platz, from the 16th century.

Germany Pavilion   German village

The centerpiece of China is the Temple of Heaven. The original is in Beijing.

China pavilion            Temple of Heaven Beijing

Norway harkens back to the days of Vikings and includes a Stave Church.

Norway pavilion            Stave Church

And Mexico was designed to look like the Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

Mexico pavilion            Aztec temple

I’m sure a lot of people don’t really consider the architecture of the theme parks, but when these buildings were designed, as with all the buildings at Walt Disney World, a lot of thought was put into them to make them as realistic as possible, giving park guests a truly immersive experience.

Dates of Visit:  Various

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Disney, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

In the mooooooood for good cooking? Try Island Cow

Island Cow sign


While on vacation I always like to try unusual restaurants, local places rather than national chains. Sometimes I’m impressed, sometimes not. I thought the Island Cow on Sanibel Island was a place worth visiting again. As their ad claims, “udderly great food.” I wouldn’t necessarily say “great,” but it was very good.

Outside Island Cow          Island Cow Inside

This quirky, family-friendly restaurant is decorated in a cow motif, hence the name. Their menu is almost too extensive. It’s good there’s always a wait for a table because it takes you a while to go through the entire menu to decide what you want. They have all sorts of seafood combos, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, BBQ, salads, and breakfasts like pancakes, omelets, French toast and waffles. And there are a lot of choices for the kids.

Island Cow meatloaf          Island Cow fried shrimp

The entrees we ordered were the Mooliscious Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and veggies, and the fried shrimp basket. Both were very good and the portions were large. Their corn muffins were also good, very moist, not crumbly like some others I’ve tried. I also had a great drink, the Island Breeze, a simple concoction of orange juice, cranberry juice and champagne.

Because the place is always so busy, it can get quite noisy inside. If it hadn’t been so warm out, I might have liked to sit outside. The service was very good and fast, considering how busy they were.

Island Breeze                Island Cow outside

Island Cow serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. They have live music and a daily Happy Hour. Southern Living magazine voted them “Top Breakfast in Florida” and “Best of the Islands” for dinner and lunch.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at