Thursday Doors: Carved Doors

I was not at all surprised to find a plethora of door pictures among the hundreds of images I took when visiting San Miguel de Allende. After all, spending seven weeks exploring a colonial Mexican town known for its beauty, history, and culture of art (both old and new), is bound to keep my camera busy.

After going through my images and picking the ones that I thought were most interesting, I still had way too many to share in a single post. To avoid door-overload (is that even possible?), I have put them into groups (carved, rounded, weathered, opened, decorated, and not doors), each of which will be shared over the coming weeks.

My carved door group has the greatest number of images. Some of the doors were very old (and most likely restored) and some were of more recent vintage. All were works of art.

Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal is one of the most spectacular examples of 17th-century civil architecture in the region. The inner courtyard of this magnificent mansion now displays high-quality shows by important Mexican artists and is open to the public.
Who wouldn’t want to come home to this?
I loved the intricate carving and the beautiful blue-green wash.
These doors need some care but they are still beautiful
So many of the doors of private homes made me want to see inside.
I’m pretty sure this was a garage door… a bit nicer than the one on my house.
These were some of the happiest doors we saw.
These beautifully carved doors were just off the main square and provided a backdrop for lots of selfies.

Don’t forget to head on over to Norm’s blog to view his collection of doors, then click on the blue frog at the end of his post to see what others have shared.

GratiTuesday: Walkable San Miguel de Allende

Tell someone that you are going to Mexico and often the first things they’ll picture are beautiful sandy beaches, warm ocean water, and sipping margaritas in a cantina. While I have nothing against any of these pursuits – and have happily done all three on past trips – that “Mexican experience” never felt very authentic to me.

Our five-week trip to the city of Oaxaca last year was the first time we visited an area of the country that wasn’t next to a large body of water… and we loved it. After that experience, we were anxious to explore other parts of Mexico’s interior, and San Miguel de Allende was high on our list of possibilities.

San Miguel de Allende is a small colonial town located in Mexico’s semi-arid central highlands. It is known for its charming atmosphere, historical architecture, vibrant culture, and artsy expatriate community. The region is also known as the cradle of the Mexican independence movement and San Miguel was the birthplace of many of its heroes, including the city’s namesake, Ignacio Allende.

According to local history, the self-taught draftsman who designed the facade based his design on a postcard depicting a French Gothic cathedral.

The most famous landmark in San Miguel is La Parroquia (which simply means parish church), a neo-gothic church whose pink sandstone facade, towering spires, and pointed arches preside over the lively town square.

One benefit of slow travel (staying in one place for an extended period) is being able to explore with a relaxed schedule. Many mornings, we just picked a direction and walked. We could hardly turn a corner without finding an interesting scene: a beautiful old church, an intriguingly narrow walkway, richly painted facades, or a street vendor selling everything from colorful trinkets and toys to straw hats and flowered hair pieces.

I bought a hat from him on the condition that I could take his picture.
Women in traditional dress sell their wares to tourists.
Templo de la Inmaculada Concepcion
A horse-drawn carriage transporting newlyweds to their reception.
Dos amigos enjoying a rest.
The Bellas Artes courtyard is the perfect spot to relax and cool off. 

It was hard not to be constantly looking around as we walked San Miguel’s streets, but it was also important to be aware of where we were stepping… the narrow sidewalks and cobblestone streets made turning an ankle or tripping a very real possibility.

It was important to watch where we were walking.

Much of what there is to do, see, eat, and experience in San Miguel can be accessed by foot. For anything outside of walking range, there are plenty of options such as the ubiquitous green taxis, Uber, and hired drivers. We enjoyed being car-free for the seven weeks we were there and, although I didn’t bring my Fitbit, I am confident that I easily met my daily goal of 10,000 steps… and then some.

We learned the importance of taking it slow and staying hydrated.
More stairs!
The evening’s golden hour paints a picture with light.
You can see the spires of the Parroquia peeking out from behind the dome.
An early morning balloon flight.
The Parroquia could be seen from all over the city.

My husband and I love to walk, and I am very grateful that we are fit enough to navigate the sometimes hilly terrain. San Miguel is a city best enjoyed by foot.

Sunday Stills: Furry Friends

My husband and I decided a while ago not to have any pets at this time of our lives. Although we love animals and enjoy their companionship, we also love the freedom of being able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice without worrying about arranging for their care. Fortunately, I am able to get my furry fixes in other ways from time to time.

We were maneuvering our shopping cart through the Costco parking lot when we happened upon this handsome boy. After peering into his soulful eyes, I was tempted to go back inside and buy him one of those mega-sized bags of dog food… or maybe several Costco hot dogs.

Carlos lets us take care of him while his “A-Team” staff is away. As long as we feed him regularly, provide fresh water, and scoop his poop, he allows a few cuddles and ear scratches. We are very happy to be of service.

Sunday Stills is a weekly photography link-up co-hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt on her blog Second Wind Leisure Perspectives. Each week there is a new word prompt to inspire a shared photo (or photos). Follow this link to learn more about it, see other submissions, and to share your own.

Sunday Stills: Aroma

Just about 90 miles south of Monterey and five miles north of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, is the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. Along this 6-mile stretch of shoreline on California’s central coast, visitors can see these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat. From the viewing walkways above the sand, the elephant seals can be observed – depending on the time of year you visit – breeding, birthing, molting, fighting, and napping.

October – the month this picture was taken – marks the third population peak on the beach as the juvenile elephant seals arrive for the fall haul-out.

The Piedras Blancas Rookery is the only elephant seal rookery in the world that is easily accessible, free, and open to the public every day of the year. Whether you are driving north or south on Highway 1, the Rookery is a stop you’ll want to make. You will be rewarded with a lovely view of the coastline and the opportunity to see the elephant seals on the beach and in the water. And, if the breeze is blowing towards the shore just right… oh, the aroma.

Sunday Stills is a weekly photography link-up co-hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt on her blog Second Wind Leisure Perspectives. Each week there is a new word prompt to inspire a shared photo (or photos). Follow this link to learn more about it, see other submissions, and to share your own.

Thursday Doors: Las Puertas de Oaxaca, Dos

Again, as I did last Thursday, I am sharing a few of the doors we came across during our six-week slow travel trip we took to Oaxaca, Mexico a year ago.

Like the first group of doors, these are indicative of the joyful colors, expressive creativity, and welcoming spirit we experienced during our stay.

Yet another door that I’d love to open and see what’s inside.
Welcome… but, unfortunately, the gate was locked.
I loved the contrast of colors.
A favorite shade of teal.
Can I come inside?
Although the door isn’t very interesting, what surrounds it is.

Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog and click on the rana azul (blue frog) to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.

Sunday Stills: Recreational

The road down to Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii is steep. The 800 foot (243.84 m) vertical rise averages a 25% grade. At .6 miles (0.9 km) in length, it is the steepest road of its length in the United States. Because of the grade, only hikers and four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the road.

Although our shins ached after making the trek down to the bottom, we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful black sand beaches on the island. Waipi’o means curved water in Hawaiian and it’s easy to understand why the gently rounded coastline earned its name.

We found this beautiful outrigger canoe on the beach just waiting to be taken out for some recreational pleasure.

After exploring the shoreline and wandering a few trails that took us further into the valley, we began the slow, calve-challenging hike back up the hill to where we started. (This photo was taken several years ago. Waipi’o Valley is located on the northeast side of The Big Island. The current volcanic activity is located much further to the south.)

Sunday Stills is a weekly photography link-up co-hosted by my blogging friend Terri Webster Schrandt. Each week there is a new word prompt to inspire a shared photo (or photos). Follow this link to learn more about it, see other submissions, and to share your own.

Thursday Doors: Las Puertas de Oaxaca, Uno

One year ago this month, my husband and I began a six-week stay in Oaxaca, Mexico. Although I wrote about our trip when I returned (you can read about it here, here, and here), for some reason, I never got around to posting my pictures of the doors we encountered along the way. Recently, as I was going through the zillions of pictures I had in my files, I realized that I needed to remedy that. As you will see, Oaxaca has doors worth sharing, and it will take more than a single Thursday Doors to do that (which is why my title of this post is “uno”).

A door for giants.
Notice the pictures inside the house numbers.
This lovely door is the entrance to a home nestled into the arch of an aqueduct built in the mid-1700s.
Free form metal gate allows the breeze to come in.
Sometimes what surrounds the door is more interesting than the door itself.
Really a window but it goes with the door below.
I would have loved to see inside of this artist’s home.

Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog and click on the rana azul (blue frog) to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.