Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kauai, Hawaii

I went to Hawaii by myself, fresh after a break up.  Originally, I was supposed to go on this trip as one half of a duo, but when he backed out, I decided to go alone.  If you haven't ever tried traveling alone, TRY IT!!!! It was an amazing experience and I met people I would not have otherwise met.  I ended up spending one whole day with two retired teachers who came to Kauai often and so got to experience it on a more local level.  I met another guy who was a homeless hippy who painted beautifully and kept notebooks just like Leonardo da Vinci (and he looked a bit like da Vinci, in fact!)  Several Europeans stayed at my hostel, and I hung out with them and learned about where they were from and their different perspectives about life.

Plus, I got a lot of inspiration for some paintings, such as...
These cows started out staring at me from a safe distance of several hundred yards away.  One would take a step forward (slowly), then another, then another, until after 20 minutes of them inching towards me, they were right up at the fence trying to get a sniff.  I couldn't resist painting them!

This is Queen's Bath, another place I couldn't resist painting...

What I loved about Kauai is that one can drive a car down any random road and inevitably will find a hiking trail that leads to some magical little place one can call all your own, at least for the moment, like this pic above.

Most of the beaches in Kauai were very empty.  This one was near Princeville.  I found another one that was at least a mile long one morning around 9 am, and not another soul there.  It was GORGEOUS! (That was close the end of the road near Na Pali Coast State Park)

Rope swing at the beautiful Kipu Falls

Waimea Canyon (see the waterfall to the right?)

Kauai is home to the wettest spot on earth, they say.  This picture is the result of another random hike down a trail I found whilst out poking around with my rental car.

At least someone was getting a little love in Kauai!

Just one of the spectacular beaches

There are random waterfalls everywhere.  When it rains, they start flowing from the mountain tops.

For lodging, I stayed at the hostel in Kapaa.  It was fun, and there were people from all over the world staying there, including the permanent house-guest/Leonardo da Vinci clone.  Plus the guy that was managing it at the time had a style aesthetic close to that of the artist formally known as Prince.  He regaled me with stories such as how he dressed as a Playboy bunny for a halloween party and everyone thought he was the shizzle.  He said all the girls wanted to grab his little 'poof'.  I bet!
  But if I went back now, I think I'd stay at Waimea Plantation Cottages for a more authentic experience.  For more luxurious places, check out Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa or St. Regis Princeville Resort.

Best Beaches: Poipu Beach, Hanalei Bay, Kalihi Wai Beach, and Makua Beach


Monday, April 9, 2012

Pictures from Florence Italy

As an artist, you'd think my favorite thing about Florence was all the amazing art at every turn.  But I think one of my favorite things about Florence was how the buildings glowed in the late afternoon sun.  The light was magical!  

 Another favorite way to enjoy the city was to wander down random alleys.  I came upon this colorful display of vegis during one such foray.

 But the architectural masterpieces ARE breathtaking.  I took this photo from the hotel's breakfast area where I stayed.  We could have thrown a stone across the alley from our room and hit the Duomo.  The video below demonstrates...

I climbed to the top of the Duomo - the video below shows how big it really is.  How did they build such masterpieces that long ago?

The Arno

In Florence, people live their day to day lives among museum worthy art.  I loved the juxtaposition of the ordinary with the extraordinary.  

Lunch by Ponte Vecchio

Dinner by the infamous Piazza Signoria, which dates back to the 14th century and is where Savanarola was executed.

Ponte Vecchio

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Charleston South Carolina Garden Tour 2012

Every Spring there are tons of garden tours to choose from in Charleston. Although the gardens we toured on this trip were not as spectacular as those we saw on the Atlanta Perennial Garden Tour last year, we still enjoyed a delicious day.  By the way, it's not too late to partake of the Atlanta tour - it's May 5-6, 2012.  There will also be more garden and house tours in September and October in Charleston.

This was my favorite garden.  It was once owned by John Blake in the 1800s, and is now owned by an architect named Mark Maresca, who lovingly restored the gardens back to their parterre design.  He was kind enough to explain to me that when he first bought the house, the area you see in the picture above was covered by dirt.  Upon digging it up, the original design of the garden was revealed.

As we walked through the neighborhoods, we saw many amazing houses and gardens along the way.  I loved the stain glass in this place.

This was hands down my favorite plant on the whole tour.  I took a picture and showed it to several garden experts, and none of them knew what it was.  Once I got home I googled it, and this is a "White Giant" Calla lily.  I am so buying one!

I love gardens, but my favorite thing about Charleston is the horses.  The driver of this carriage stopped right by us and explained the house we were standing in front of was the most expensive piece of real estate on the Charleston market right now, going for 20+ million.  We couldn't see it from the street due to all the magnolias in front of it, but apparently it's a showplace, complete with ballroom.  Here's the plaque outside...

You can read it more easily by clicking here.