Garbage in Liguria

Continuing the series, I took this snap in the Ligurian coastal city of La Spezia,

I think people often don’t stop and think about sights like this.  Each country – and quite often, each region within a country – makes a slightly different decision about what it finds worthwhile to recycle. What I find particularly appealing is the first container on the right – the yellow one. The city is collected used plastic and metal containers. Sadly, there is no way for me in Switzerland to separate out my used plastic and metal containers

Amazing train station infobooth

France is world-famous for its information booths at their train stations, proudly labelled with the French word Accueil (Accueil is a French word that can be translated as out of order or not staffed). Although not technically useful for any purpose, they are like museum-type displays of what a working information booth would look like, if in fact it were staffed.

Switzerland is a bit different. Here the train stations all have working information booths, staffed by very knowledgeable people. This is a stunning architectural example of an information booth towering high above the main train station in Luzern:

Aigues-Mortes – 1

A few years ago I stumbled quite accidentally across the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes, located in the Camargue region of southern France.  I posted a few snaps of what it looks like inside the walls.

I recently returned, and now I’d like to share a few snaps of what it looks like outside of the walls.

One of the most impressive things about the city is that it is located directly on canals that lead to the Mediterranean Sea, and in fact some of these canals divert the water into moats, as this snap shows:

Strange Things – 1

Every once in a while I encounter something strange and can’t identify it or its purpose – despite a bit of online investigation.

Here’s a good example. I took this snap just outside of the medieval walled village of Aigues-Mortes in the Camargue region of southern France:

No writing on it. Facing away from the parked cars – or else I’d naively think it is some type of electric charging station. The oval bit in the middle looks to be a cover with a hinge, but there is no obvious way to open it. Even Google Images could not help me out.

Boat on the lake

I thought this snap of a tourist boat on the Vierwaldstättersee (also known as Lake Lucerne) near the sacrificial Swiss city of Luzern was quite impressive:

I always call Luzern the sacrificial city because I believe there is a very intentional conspiracy of the various Swiss chambers-of-commerce (Handelskammer) to channel tourists to Luzern, thereby preserving the much more impressive cities like Bern, unspoiled, for the locals to enjoy. I’ve you’ve been to Luzern, and if you’ve been to Bern, then you’ll know exactly what I am talking about!

Tasks I hate to do

A guest blog, by Arlene Ritley

Everyone has something they hate to do around the house.  So those particular tasks are often put off until the need arises, or the funds are available to hire someone to do them.

My husband would rather have a root canal then do the dusting.  I, on the other hand like to dust.  And if I may say so, I do a great job with a dust cloth and a can or bottle of spray wax.  Proper way to dust is the one chore in my family that has been handed down from one generation to the next.

But to get back to the topic “tasks I hate to do”.  I have two tasks I absolutely hate to do and that is

  • Clean the oven
  • Clean the refrigerator

AH you say.  Only two tasks you hate to do.  Yes only two as I have, over the years, delegated more of these “hate to do” tasks to others in my family.

Cleaning the oven

Cleaning the oven is easy to do now if you own a self cleaning oven.

Not so easy to do if you do not have a self cleaning oven.  What I did years ago when stoves had to be cleaned by hand, was wipe up spills with a damp paper towel.  Then when my oven could no longer pass a sanitation inspection, for example my mother or mother-in-law were coming for an extended visit; I had no choice but to


I actually did this twice during my early years.

Cleaning the refrigerator

Cleaning the refrigerator is a little more complicated and one I absolutely hate to do.

Take all the food out a shelf at a time.  Wash – Dry – Put the food back where it was, throwing out expired and unused bottles and jars.  Shelf, by shelf, by shelf.  That’s only the refrigerator.  You can’t forget the freezer.  But I found a way to get the task done.


One that lasted for a day and a half.  All the food went bad and had to be removed.  While my husband bagged up the food I cleaned and sanitized the entire refrigerator, in and out.  When I was finished my refrigerator sparkled like a diamond.  Power outages happen more frequently now with Global Warming.  When and if this happens again, you’ll know where I am and what I’m doing.

The moral of this story is . . .

     . . . delegate tasks you hate to do to someone else, then

     . . . find a creative and out of the box way to do the few tasks you hate.


This guest blog was submitted by Arlene Ritley, an editor with the Island Moon Newspaper – one of South Texas’s largest community newspapers.

This is not Gołąbki

Gołąbki is a Polish word that is pronounced galumpki, and it means stuffed cabbage. My grandmother used to make galumpki – it’s been a long time since she passed away, but I can still remember how it tasted.

Since then I have been on a personal quest to re-create that taste sensation I remember so well. I try, and I try, and I try – and I always fail.

This is the storyboard of my latest failure.

Ground beef, contained sauteed onions and garlic, various spices, and uncooked long-grain rice. The idea is that the rice is a filler, and as the meat slowly cooks so does the rice, by soaking up all the meat juices:

Then you roll each one into a blanched cabbage leaf, like a little burrito:

The rolled, stuffed cabbage leaves are then layered into an oven-compatible pot, sitting on top of a layer of cabbage leaves:

Forgot to take a snap, but I then covered the cabbage rolls with a jar of speghetti sauce, and I topped it with enough chicken broth so that each cabbage roll was under about 1 centimeter of liquid. Then I covered it, and cooked it at 175 C for around 90 minutes:

Here’s what it looked like after the cooking. Note that I had a little extra meat that I felt was insufficient for an entire role, so I added it to the mix in hamburger form. Turned out to be a great idea, since it fell apart and helped flavor the sauce:

And here’s the finished product. well minus the sauce which I left in the pot. In fact I did not eat any of them, but rather placed them in bags, covered them with their own portion of the sauce, and froze them:

Lessons learned:

1) Another failure. Tastes great, but not like my grandmother used to make

2) Even after blanching the cabbage leaves were very thick. Next time I intend to blanch, separate the leaves, then cook them until they are softer

3) Adding some meat to the sauce was very effective

I failed, again, but I will keep on trying!  I think my grandmother would expect no less of me.

Luzern panaroma

At the risk of being prosecuted for giving away one of Switzerland‘s more closely guarded secrets, I‘ll spill the beans: Luzern is Switzerland‘s sacrificial city.

It is a stunning town, to be sure, as this panorama shows:

But it is filled with tourists. Lots of tourists. Loads of tourists: carloads of tourists, truckloads of tourists, boatloads of tourists, busloads of tourists.

What this means is that some of the truly amazing cities such as Bern are kept relatively tourist free. And the tourists, being none the wiser, are quite happy to come to Luzern by cars, trucks, boats, and buses.


Niesen Supervolcano in Spring

I took this breathtaking, amazing snap of the Niesen Supervolcano in spring, nestled so deep within the Berner Oberland of Switzerland that few tourists ever see this sight:

Although many scientists are reluctant to discuss this, for fear of frightening the local population, in fact the Niesen is one of less than a dozen so-called supervolcanoes, capable of causing eruptions so large that the entire planet will be affected for centuries. When (not if) this supervolcano erupts, all life in Europe will be extinguished.

Amazing futuristic city in the Camargue

Will the amazing wonders of Camargue, France, never cease?!

This is an artists view of an ancient Mesopotamian Ziggurat in ancient Bablyon:

And, viewed at a distance, this is the very futuristic city of La Grand-Motte located in the Camargue of France:

First introduced to La Grand-Motte by the architect Jean Balladur, and as I will show in other snaps, there is a city ordinance that all buildings be Ziggurat in shape, which gives rise to the very futuristic look.

Amazing fishermen in the Camargue

Oh, the wonders of the Camargue that I have shown you!  The amazing Flamingos of the Camargue! The amazing salt of the Camargue! And the amazing horses of the Camargue!

And today, the tradition continues, because here is a wonderful snap of the commercial fishing boats of the Camargue, highlighted in a stunning white thanks to the intense clear air and bright sun of the winter in south France:

If you’ve got great peepers you’ll see a tiny Lidl supermarket in the center of the snap. It was filled with Camargue fisherman.