"Tom & Carol's Life and Travels" tpal's Profile
Finally completing my Dubrovnik page, after nearly a year and half, has been very rewarding. Reliving and mentally reconstructing our experiences has almost seemed like visiting this beautiful city again.
Dubrovnik was the first stop of a 4 week trip that took us through much of Croatia as well as parts of Montenegro and Slovenia. Much more to come...hopefully in a more timely manner..
Montreal strikes me as a city of architectural contrast. In fact, one of the criticisms of Montreal has been its lack of direction or identity in it's new architecture and an insensitivity to its past. As can be seen here on Rue Sherbrooke, throughout the city (with the exception of Old Town) the old shares the neighborhood with the new, the sleek competes with the ordinary.
If I had merely read this critique I would have been put off. In an era when cities try to control the looks of their streets with strip mall uniformity, I enjoyed the organic nature of Montreal's development. Whatever your impressions are of its architecture, its energy cannot be denied. This is one of the world's great cities and it should not be missed.
Carol and I had both been to Europe before ... but never together. We had been married less than three years and decided it was time we went together. The trip we settled on was seventeen days in Italy. The first seven days were on Lago di Como. We rented a villa...ok, so maybe it was a flat in a small house that we shared with the owner's 90 year old aunt, Rosa, who lived upstairs. Still, we rented it through a "villa" rental company. Our view was glorious. Directly across from the only island on Lake Como...Isola Comacina. This first photo was taken from Villa Monastero looking back at Villa Cipressi in Varenna on Lake Como.
Next, we were off to Venice for six romantic days. What a wonderful place. Walking or boating everywhere makes Venice unique on its own, but the setting is so special that you feel transported into an era long past. We stayed in a slightly fading but still charming hotel, the Antica Locanda Montin in Dorsoduro overlooking one the hundreds of small back canals. The walls of the rooms and corridors were covered by original art work which in years past had been traded for rooms or food from many a "not quite there yet" artist.
We also took a one day side trip from Venice to the marvelous little Island of Burano. This is a magical place in the lagoon about forty minutes away by vaporetto. Barely 500 meters across, this island is dressed in multi-colored stucco homes adorned with the residents now famous laundry. Words like "charming" and "enchanting" seem to roll naturally into your mind as you wonder Burano's narrow walkways.
Finally, for the remainder of the trip we went to Milan. A great city that could not be more different from where we had been. Perhaps more of a challenge than we needed at the end of trip but still very exciting. Carol is an architect and I am a retired interior designer so Milan offered us a feast of design and style that we loved.
Travels in 2005
Seattle, Washington, USA
Burlington, Vermont, USA
Also, recently I have been trying to catch up on some smaller travel sites and some places that I visited long before I ever considered being a Virtual Tourist. The quality of some the photos is a little disappointing but I've tried to be fairly selective. Mostly I find myself thinking I should return with my digital camera to provide my fellow VTers better pictures. Now how's that for a not-bad tail wagging the dog rationalization. Anyway, here's some pages that might be worth a look:
Campobello di Licata, Sicily
People say Carol and I look happy...I think they're right. In fact we are. Things didn't have to work out this well but they did and we are happy and probably pretty lucky.
Carol and I met in August of 2000. By March of 2001 we were committed to each other and by year's end we were married. In what at the time seemed like light speed, we discovered that in each other we had found a moment in life which had to be seized. The good things from our past were gone forever but if the spouses we had both cherished and had been cruelly taken had taught us anything at all, it was that you should never let the love for life get away.
Even at the resume level Carol and I are a pretty good match. Carol is a highly respected working architect specializing in kindergarten through grade 12 educational planning and design. I'm a mostly retired interior designer who late in life returned to the classroom to teach technology and computer education to pre-kindergarten through 8th grade children. As it turned out, without ever having met, we shared many of the same experiences and acquaintances in both the fields of design and education.
But that's not what brought us together. We actually met "on the water", so to speak. If it's Wednesday night in Buffalo during the summer you will find one of the largest fresh water sailboat races in North America happening in our harbor. I've been out there for 24 years and in the summer of 2000 so was Carol. The rest as they say was...well...complicated but eventually history. Sailing continues to be part of our life, at least during our somewhat compacted season here on Lake Erie. On Tuesday night Carol is the skipper and I provide support services for her all women's crew. On Wednesday nights we compete against each other while I play tactician with a friend and Carol skippers her crew of young architectural stallions.
Beyond the sailing we discovered that our other great passion was gardening. We both love it but we attack it quite differently.
I plan...Carol digs!
The first time Carol came to see me, the premise was based on an inspection of my new garden which I had been developing for the last couple of years. With some pride I had described the fish pond and waterfall, the garden structures, the flagstone pavers, the planting beds and the raised planters. And as Carol will surely tell you they were all there. As a matter of fact, the only missing element was...the plants. A detail to be sure but Carol did seem perplexed. She has since resolved this minor omission. Carol's strategy for plant selection and layout is simple...go to the nursery, buy whatever you like until the car is full, go home, start digging and don't stop no matter how dark or wet it gets. Seems to work!
Those are some of the parts of our world which we control. Oddly, however, it is what we don't control that is the source of our greatest pride and joy...our children. Carol has two daughters, one near and one far. The far teaches science in Los Angeles and the near is an artist and art critic in Buffalo. I have a son who follows political campaigns around the country and is presently working for an environmental group in Seattle. All of them lead lives beyond our dreams and are a constant source of wonderment.
This is my wonderful wife Carol's and my garden in sunny Buffalo, New York. Gardening is big part of our summer and we love it. Traveling has often led us other gardens. Check out our garden album for more pictures.
One of our great claims to fame here in Western New York is that we definitely have four seasons. And while I am generally disappointed to see our garden fade, there is a moment each year in the fall that frankly takes my breath away. The time is now. The trees are at the height of their autumn color, it's cool but not so cold as to prevent me from having a cappuccino outside at my favorite coffee shop, and best of all the snow still has not arrived.
Please share autumn in our Buffalo neighborhood.
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