San Antonio and the Missions

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

For 4th of July weekend this year I took a road trip to San Antonio and Austin. The weather was incredible and I had a lot of fun driving through the Texan farmland. I went to San Antonio first and visited the Alamo and other missions, all of which encompass a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture is incredible and entrance is free to all the sites.

In addition to the Missions, San Antonio has amazing Mexican food and crafts centers. It was definitely worth the detour on my way to Austin to spend an afternoon there.

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Recovering from Travel Fatigue in Hoi An

The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An, Vietnam

The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An, Vietnam

Still feeling a bit lethargic and overwhelmed by Vietnam, I arrived in Hoi An and wasn’t entirely gung ho about sightseeing and taking photos. Despite my mood, the town proved to be a nice place to hang out. The old part of town is a UNESCO site and has some striking examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. About 5 km away is a surprisingly peaceful beach. Throw in the opportunity to get cheap, custom-made clothes from one of the abundant tailors in town as well as some delicious food and there’s enough to keep a jaded traveler going for a few days.

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Art Nouveau in Szeged, Subotica and Palic

An intricate ceiling in Subotica's hall

An intricate ceiling in Subotica’s city hall

I have to admit that I am not a huge architecture buff and I normally don’t go out of my way to learn a terrible lot about the buildings or what period or style they were built in. I certainly never remember an architect’s name. But when I got to Szeged in Hungary, then Subotica in Serbia, and I kept hearing about Art Nouveau, I knew I had to learn a bit about it. Luckily, the tourist information offices in both Szeged and Subotica have published self-guided walking tours that are informative and easy to follow.

In a nutshell, Art Nouveau flourished in this area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Szeged was stricken by a massive flood in 1879 and Emperor Francis Joseph promised to rebuild it “more beautiful than it was before”. The resulting efforts took a cue from European architects and artists who believed that industrial development was negatively impacting beauty. Therefore, they tried to instill art and tradition into everyday life. This philosophy spilled into Subotica, which at the time was actually part of the same country at Szeged. Hungarians eventually established their own Art Nouveau movement – the Secessionist Period.

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