Category: Travel (Page 1 of 2)

My Italian vacations

Tuscany fields / Seta Zakian

Fields near Sienna, Tuscany

Pisa tourists Seta Zakian

Tourists taking a pose to be photographed ‘holding’ the Pisa leaning tower.

This post is dedicated to our recent family road-trip in our neighboring country.

In August we travelled to Italy with our car and the three girls. Fortunately we came back before the earthquake! For 20 days, we went mostly around Tuscany, visited more than 25 cities/towns/villages, stayed in 6 different apartments/airbnb rooms/towers, plus two nights on the boat, took thousands of photographs (including the photos from the girls’ cameras), ate a lot of pasta, pizza and gelato, had many espressos and cappuccinos, drank a lot of good red wine and basically had a great Italian experience! I posted a selection of our photos here.

The kids behaved and put up with our ‘boring’ programs to see yet another medieval village or church. Their highlights was the boat trip, seeing wild deer near a forest, seeing animals in a farm outside Florence, taking photos of cute doggies, visiting huge wine barrels in a winery, finding a shop dedicated to chocolate together with visiting a real chocolate factory (Baci), and of course eating gelato, every, single, day.

The above photos are just a tiny selection showing the two extremes of our trip: Beautiful postcard-like Tuscan landscape, but also the hoards of people from all over the world in Pisa, Florence and wherever it was considered “touristic”.

That’s it. Now all we need is a holiday to rest!

‘We Built This City’, a souvenir shop in London




If Places Were Faces We-Built-This-City

If Places Were Faces print by Heretic Studio

Art print for London Pride at WBTC shop by Rugman

Art print for London Pride by Rugman

Notebooks by Natalie Lea Owen

Notebooks by Natalie Lea Owen

Tirso the shard

‘The shard’ by Tirso

This is a fine example of the new age of souvenir shops, We Built This City is London’s alternative souvenir shop on popular Carnaby Street. Founder Alice Mayor, though that London is not all red buses, taxis and telephone boxes and that the city could do better concerning the souvenir scene. She imagined a store that would offer a more exciting selection of souvenirs than just kitsch Big Ben fridge magnets or Union Jack mugs.

Her first pop up shop on Carnaby Street showcased work by over 100 artists, illustrators and designers, thus supporting the local creative community. After the overwhelming success of the initial launch, the shop was invited back on the same street, where it has remained permanently. The online shop will be launched soon, meanwhile if you happen to be in London, check it out for great art prints, homeware and accessories.


ZigZag city guides for kids

ZigZag city guidesZigZag Paris city guide ZigZag Paris city guide cards ZigZag Paris city guide all

Meet Zig and Zag, the two characters from ZigZag, the new city guides for kids. They allow parents and kids to explore together with the help of a map of the city, 30 city cards filled with fun facts and activities, and a box to hold them in. Really great idea to keep the kids happy and entertained and at the same time, making learning fun.

Except from the beautiful guides of London , Paris and Rome, the rest  of the guides are for US cities. This  idea would be great for more European cities, but for the time being you can order online here.


The ancient stepwells of India

Victoria Lautman, India stepwells, Victoria Lautman, India stepwells2 Victoria Lautman, India stepwells3 victorialautman8

I am fascinated by these structures that look like reverse temples. They are actually stepwells, that is deep wells inside ancient structures that can be accessed via staircases reaching several stories underground. With the earliest ones dating back between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D, the stepwells were developed in India as a way to guarantee a steady water supply for areas suffering from heavy seasonal monsoons.

They later evolved into amazingly complex achievements of engineering and art with elements from Hindu and Islamic architecture. Unfortunately over the centuries, most of India’s thousands of stepwells have been neglected for a number of reasons.

These pieces of forgotten architecture remind me of the never-ending stairs in the artworks of M.C. Escher.

The photographer is Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman, who spent four years documenting the stepwells at 120 different sites around India, mainly to write a book about them in order to raise awareness.

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