by adeline talbot

As our children go through college, it’s become an all too familiar and faintly bittersweet joke to say that we want to come back as them.  This may conveniently edit out exams, all-nighters, job searches and the rest of the hard parts but the point is that they are having an awful lot of fun these days especially when it comes to travel.  And while reincarnation may be a theoretical way to re-balance the fun, I say why wait? Elizabeth Miller and family decided not to, choosing instead to join their older daughter Abby this past holiday season in Seville.  Elizabeth does a great job of making Seville absolutely irresistible.  Read on and you’ll see what I mean…oh and, in addition, to Elizabeth’s personally vetted restaurant recommendations we include a few links to restaurant as well as hotel ‘best of’ lists.  You’ll find them at the bottom of this terrific post.


My daughter Abby studied abroad last semester in Seville, Spain. Her program ended mid-December, so we decided to join her and spend the holidays together in Spain. I went mid-month and my husband and younger daughter joined us a week later. The morning I arrived, it was pouring rain, which I was told is very uncommon. Pouring rain on cobblestone streets and jet lag are not a pleasant combination. Abby and I ran inside a store by the name of Cortes Ingles to buy umbrellas, paid and went outside. They immediately flipped inside out, so much for the 20 or so euros we’d just spent. A note on Cortes Ingles, these stores are everywhere and the joke is, if you can’t find it there, then it doesn’t exist. They are similar to a department store with add-ons such as a grocery store in the basement, optician, florist, teeth whitening, card shop, oh, and they sell umbrellas.

'Una media de tostada con tomate titulado, jamon iberico y aciete de oliva', a favorite breakfast combination...

While in Seville, we rented two apartments through AirBnb. Our first was in an area called Alameda de Hercules. We started each morning by going to a small corner shop for my daughter’s favorite breakfast which is toasted bread, a mild tomato sauce, olive oil and a pinch of salt on top, in Spanish it is 'una media de tostada con tomate titulado y aciete de oliva'.  To drink we’d have cafe con leche and agua de grifo (tap water). Additions that my husband liked were jamon iberico (Iberian ham) and manchego cheese. After breakfast we’d head out for the day’s adventure. I was very thankful that my daughter became fluent in Spanish because Seville is a small city and very few people speak English. I absolutely love how they schedule their day, breakfast when you get up (the place we liked stopped serving it at 1:00 p.m.), lunch after 3:00 p.m., then siesta and dinner sometime after 9:30. Staying up until 2:00 a.m. was the norm.


The second apartment we rented is in a neighborhood called Barrio Santa Cruz.

This was our favorite neighborhood in Seville. It is an older section of the city and, in fact, the old Jewish Quarter, located right next to La Catedral, once a mosque, now the largest Catholic Cathedral in the world.

The view of La Catedral from our favorite terraza.

We’d spend our days on foot with a destination in mind but let ourselves be lured away if something else caught our eye. A favorite lunch spot we happened upon was called La Chala, tapas but not as traditional. For traditional tapas we’d recommend Los Coloniales, and be sure to order Patatas Bravas, potatoes with a delicious sauce I can’t quite explain. One of our favorite things to do in the evenings was to find a terraza, or rooftop terrace. The one we liked most was at EME Catedral Hotel, the view was spectacular. Places we’d recommend visiting are La Catedral, the Alcazar Palace, a walk across the river to Triana where they sell beautiful ceramics.

The dining room of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Also stop in the Hotel Alfonso XIII and Metropol Parasol, or as the Sevillanos call it las setas.



A few standouts in Seville were how many people spend their time outside. It’s said that in Seville, life is lived in the streets, it really seems to be. I was charmed by how many seniors would be accompanied by a younger friend or family member, linked arm-in-arm walking together. There were so many young parents out with their children in carriages at all times of the day and night. Also surprising was how inexpensive Seville is, a good glass of rioja was about 3 euro. And of course no tipping, but I had a hard time not leaving some coins. One of the funniest/strangest things to me were how many little dogs there were out with their people, dressed up, hair dyed and not on leashes. Some people would have multiple dogs and they’d just all walk together in a group. I’d like to know their secret.

One of the many 'glamour dogs' of Seville.

Seville is small and areas of it are quaint and charming. Some neighborhoods have tiny winding streets that weave through the older parts of the city, and others sections of the city have large open areas and plazas where people gather around the shops and in cafes. We absolutely loved it!

A beautiful door in a beautiful city.



Salta, Argentina
 Catedral Basilica de Salta (Photo credit: New York Times)

I first fell in love with Salta--albeit from afar--when I stumbled across a New York Times 36 HOURS IN SALTA article a year or two ago.  I was intrigued by the descriptions of this town with its perfectly preserved colonial architecture nestled in the Andean foothills, its lively cultural blend of Spanish and Gaucho traditions, its food, its  wine… 

Gauchos in Salta City (Photo credit: Neshamayin )

...right, I know, I know, all the things I usually fall for but Salta has an extra special something—it is in the extreme northwest corner of Argentina—an arduous eight hours from Buenos Aires and basically NOT NEAR ANYTHING—or rather more accurately—not near anything familiar to me--an almost irresistible lure.   
I’ve been reading up on Salta ever since this first introduction and its lists of attractions just keeps getting longer.  Here are a few--its gorgeous civic and architectural heart, Plaza 9 de Julio; its Neo-classical spiritual center, Catedral Basilica de Salta; its Museum of High Altitude Archeology with its important collection of Incan artifacts as well as actual Incans since it includes mummified Incan remains; its small but fine Museo de Arte Contemporaneo; nightly folkloric jam sessions known as penas and a truly excellent café culture where life is enjoyed at a leisurely pace and in the gloriously open air four season climate.  
 La Casona del Molino, one of many popular local penas (Photo Credit:Bridges and Balloons)
As I say, a limited list, obviously since it doesn’t even include the nearby cloud forest not to mention a thousand other things—but hopefully enough to give you a taste of this special place.

Despite my inflamed Salta passions, I haven’t yet been so for now I must rely on intel and images from those who have but later this year I’ll be doing my own reconnaissance-–and I can’t wait!  In fact, Kristin  Peterson Edwards and I are so confident of its charms, that we have added as an optional stop in Salta to our October trip to Buenos Aires.  I think its is going to be great and NOT NEAR ANYTHING--except the Andes and great food and great wine and great sites to see.  Oh, and about those arduous eight hours from Buenos Aires—that’s if you drive.   If you fly—and we will—then its just over 2 hours! Not too bad to travel a world away from all the more familiar things.  Got my name written all over it.  I hope it has yours, too...



This picture may say it all.  
Stonington, Maine on the southern tip of Deer Isle is a picturesque village and working port of less than 2000 year round inhabitants that nonetheless accounts for some of the largest lobster hauls in the US...more than 14,000,000 pounds in 2011.

I have been going to Stonington off and on for 3 decades now.  I feel I know it fairly well, at least as a summer visitor.  Last week though on one of these--more or less--annual visits, I found it hard to remember precisely where I was.  Occasionally and briefly, I had the sensation I was somewhere in French Canada.  More persistently, I had the disorienting sensation that I was in Cornwall.  In my mind—perhaps paradoxically--this takes nothing away from an equally profound sense of place to be found in Stonington.  It simply underscores that this a place of similarly old and rich traditions and great physical beauty.
If you go, make sure you have a casual meal at the Fisherman’s Friend or the very local Harbor Café.  For a bit of splurge you may want to try Aragosta.  You’re going to have to book ahead for that one, though.  This farm to table restaurant is drawing rave reviews up and down the East Coast. 
You may also want to take in a show at the Opera House, the best in local—and not so local--entertainment and unofficially community center in this lovingly preserved 19th century theater.
For a full day on the water take the mail boat out to Isle au Haut, a stunning island in Penobscot Bay that is crisscrossed with trails on its lower portion which is now part of the Acadia National Park.

For a great place to stay you may want to the island’s other hamlet, aptly named Deer Isle Village, for a stay at the lovely Pilgram's Inn. 
The important thing is to just go.  
It is that kind of place.  It feels good just to be there.  
No fancy plans necessary....

All photographs courtesy of Mark Robinson



The Space Needle and the main branch of the Seattle Public Library--on a recent visit to Seattle I found it hard not to view these two iconic structures as a pair of cultural bookends.  The Space Needle, built in 1962 and still with it's original paint colors of Orbital Olive, Astronaut White, Re-entry Red and Galaxy Gold, was borne in a moment of profound cultural optimism when we looked toward a limitless future. I was child in the 1960's and I have had much of a lifetime to wonder what became of all that optimism. It's been a rough few decades, after all, and in so many ways the glorious things we thought would happen simply did not--or were not glorious when and if they did. 

And yet standing in the Central Library last week, I did feel a kind of cultural joy.  Though it was finished in 2004, it still feels very much of this moment.  Its strengths feel like our strengths.  Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in collaboration with the Seattle-based LMN Architects, the building's steel and glass exterior looks like a giant origami plaything.  

The interior spaces are arranged to be both 'specific' and open, flowing from one to another but without ever creating that disorienting sense of 'what exactly is this space supposed to be'.  This orderliness shapes not only the way the space is used but how it feels to use it.  The day I was there, every floor was busy and yet none ever felt crowded, just communalcheerfully communal, and very, very purposeful.   

The building is a success in small as well as large things.  There is terrific signage and terrific contemporary art--including the main floor installation by Ann Hamilton and Tony Oursler's video installation inset in an escalator wall.  It's a building that is neither too conceptual to be used nor so practical as to be soul-killing.  I have always thought that Beaux Art public buildings did this combination particularly well. One thinks of Grand Central Terminal, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or of countless post offices and courthouses.  But these buildings are from an ever-increasingly distant then. After my tour last week of the Central Library, I am so happy to be able to say 'this is now'.  It may not be a time of unbounded optimism--nor should it be.  Reality has ended up being far more complex than the 1960's vision of what the future would be but this is a building that embodies that complexity and makes you glad you are alive to see it.  

CLICK HERE for a link to the Seattle Public Library's site that gives information on options for touring the Central Library.

And on your next trip to Seattle you may want to mix passions--food and architecture--with a visit to Canlis.  This restaurant is still considered one of Seattle's finest and while the menu may have been continuously updated since it opened in 1950, the building has been perfectly maintained as a modernist classic.



It's summer and in honor of summer, we're switching up our posts just a bit.  For the next few weeks, I and ST's guest bloggers will be focusing solely on cities in one country, the wonderful and inimitable Italy. With its heat, beauty, leisure and conviviality, it can feel like the source of summer itself so it seems like a natural choice for this seasonal focus.  It is also a country of tremendously varied and tremendously appealing cities--and quite obviously I love nothing more than the glories of great cities, large and small.  So what more can I add except to say that this seems like a match made in heaven. And speaking of heaven, I start today with Venice. 
 I must begin by saying that I have not always regarded Venice as having all that much in common with heaven.  Whatever that may mean to each of us, the association is at least and invariably pleasant. On my first visits to Venice in the 1970's and 1980's, however, I was bothered by the crowds, the unpleasant  'frozen in time' quality of a true tourist town and, frankly, by a certain creep factor.  The mazy back streets, the watery quiet and no small amount of grunge struck me not as romantic but as disorienting, even at times sinister.  Over the years, my appreciation has certainly grown but it was not until last summer that I finally, truly and deeply came under the city's spell.  
What tipped me from cool appreciation to passionate attachment? In a word, the Biennale, the great contemporary art fair that takes place in Venice every two years. There's alchemy here. That sense of centuries old mystery pairs well with the contemporary vibrancy and vigor that the Biennale brings to the city.   It seems that infinite possibilities are introduced into Venice's ever-present 'what's around that corner' question, especially now as the exhibitions of the Biennale spread throughout the city into seemingly every available space.  
The Biennale is still staged primarily in the Giardini and the more recent added venue of the Arsenle but increasingly exhibitions take place everywhere.  In 2013, Portugal's exhibition--literally--was a barge, not only the artwork displayed in its interior, but the barge itself.  Twice a day the barge launched into the Grand Canal making stately progress up to San Marco's before turning around for the return journey to the seawall in front of the Giardini, all the while playing Fado, the mournful, traditional love tunes of the Portugese.  I cried the day I took my ride on the barge.  I'm not sure why except to say that it did feel like an impossibly large experience;  one that I can claim in all good conscience to have put me in mind of heaven or at least in mind of limitless things.  And so now I too and at long last am in love with this most magical city.  

If you go here are a few suggestions.  They say the only place in Italy where it is possible to get a bad meal is in Venice.  I don't know if I would go that far but like so much of Venice there are many places that feel a bit worn out by hosting 20 million tourists a year.  The food can seem as average as the waiters seem indifferent.  I will mention two restaurants that I think are truly delightful, though, there are many more.  La Zucca focuses on vegetables which is not to say it is a vegetarian restaurant but rather it brings complex finesse to a variety of dishes, many centered on vegetables.  The service is both exceedingly warm and thoroughly professional. Another stand out is Osteria Alle Testiere, a superb seafood restaurant on the Calle del Mondo Novo.  The perfect blend of excellent dishes with a quiet, ever so slightly formal service and a terrific wine list. 
Where to stay.  There are so many choices and many more famous and/or luxurious ones than the one I will suggest here but Sant'Elena has one advantage.  It is a 4 star hotel located at the very tip of the main island, 50 meters from a vaporetto stop, wedged between a quiet residential section and a neighborhood park.  The proximity to the vaporetto stop means that the Sant'Elena is, in fact, one of the easiest hotels to access in all of Venice and yet it is isolated from the crowds.  At the end of the day this makes for a very welcome break.  

The next Biennale is in 2015 so you have  year to plan.  Better get started!



Taos Pueblo heads my list of responses to 'why Taos?'.  As a town, Taos seems to challenge descriptions and classifications.  In fact, it can be hard at first glance to identify the source of its enduring attraction.  Hard to identify but impossible to deny.  There is just something about Taos.  Many visitors come for a visit only to find they cannot leave and must make of Taos a permanent home.  Modernist painter Agnes Martin is an example, living in Taos from 1967 until her death in 2004.  The source of this powerful attraction surely is at least in part the result of the profound spiritual anchor that the 1000 year old pueblo provides.  Sited not far from town at the edge of 100,000 acres of tribal lands, this UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE is the oldest continually inhibited structure in the United States.  While there are now only 150 year-round residents in the pueblo it remains the heart of the community of the Red Willow people.  The one concession to modernity in these dwellings is not electricity or running water but rather the relatively recent inclusion of ground level windows and doors--the need for the original rooftop entrances having vanished with the need for defenses against raids by neighboring tribes.  Everything about the pueblo seems to conspire to provide a sense of mesmerizing continuity.  This includes the 200 year old church, the courtyard of which is pictured above, and for those lucky enough to be a witness, the performance of tribal dances throughout the year.  It is a living community with a deep sense of age which makes for a very rare and a very valuable combination.

 Taos is an optional 'add on' to Studio Traveler's trip to Santa Fe in October.  
CLICK HERE for trip details.

CLICK HERE for more photos of Taos Pueblo.



This week we welcome our first guest blogger 
Benjamin Briggs, Executive Director of Preservation Greensboro, Inc.

As a preservationist, I enjoy looking for parallels and patterns when imaging our architecture-themed travels.  As Executive Director of Preservation Greensboro, I am lucky to be able to start with our own local landmark. Preservation Greensboro’s offices here in North Carolina are housed in Blandwood Mansion.  Designed in 1844 by A.J. Davis, Blandwood is believed to be the oldest extant example of the Italian Villa Style of architecture in the United States. This provides a direct comparison with Tudor Place, pictured here.  Located in the heart of the Georgetown, Tudor Place was built in 1816 for a granddaughter of Martha Washington. Like Blandwood, the house illustrates a Palladian-inspired tripartite form. Unlike Blandwood’s Italianate style, Tudor Place’s architect William Thornton was inspired by the Federal style, articulated by the domed Temple Portico in the spot where Blandwood’s Tuscan Tower stands. 
I look forward to exploring this and other fascinating architectural themes on our trip to Washington DC!
                                                                                                             Benjamin Briggs

Benjamin will be our resident expert on the upcoming trip to Washington DC, June 5th through the 8th.  
CLICK HERE for itinerary and reservations instructions.  

...and check back here next week for 'Why DC PART II'...




Green Chiles
because an aroma can so powerfully evoke a place.
The aroma of green chiles, especially during the fall roasting 
season, is one of the magical smells of Santa Fe.  

We're going out in October and hope you 
will consider coming along.

In the meantime, a little something to whet 
your appetite for this magical place.
It's one of a kind.

CLICK HERE for our itinerary.

CLICK HERE for a quick version of green chile stew.