Category Archives: Architecture

The city cigars built on Tampa Bay

Ybor City Museum, Tampa, FL
Ybor City Museum, Tampa, FL

In a few square miles parcel of former Tampa marshland over two hundred cigar factories, manned by thousands of immigrant workers, were hand rolling half a billion cigars annually by the 1920s.

casitas
casitas

The fortuitous arrival in the 1880s of Spaniard Vicente Ybor turned a marshland into the cigar capital of the world and created a cultural phenomenon.

read more…

Cigars, Tampa and the revival of Ybor City

 

The Spanish Social Club, Ybor City
The Spanish Social Club, Ybor City

 

 

 

 

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

A glimpse at the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Muhammad, Elder of his Bedouin family in Wadi Fayan, Jordan
Muhammad, Elder of his Bedouin family in Wadi Fayan, Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan may be less than a century old, but like many Bedouins, the Hashemite family share histories stretching back to biblical times.

The Wadi Rum, Jordan
The Wadi Rum, Jordan

For millenniums the river valleys, highlands and  vast deserts of the Cradle of Civilization were the epicenter of the legendary, lucrative and infamous caravan trade linking Asia with the Mediterranean world. In an age before GPS pictographs were road signs directing caravans that could include up to 700 treasure laden camels.

Travel guide Mohammad Qamhiya explaining pictographs in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Travel guide Mohammad Qamhiya explaining pictographs in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Canyon (Siq) entrance to Petra
Canyon (Siq) entrance to Petra

One enterprising tribe, the Nabataeans, carved the city of Petra (300s B.C.E. – 800s A.C.E.) into sandstone cliffs and created the wealthiest financial center in the ancient world. With only one public entrance at the end of a lengthy, towering, narrow,  canyon road, the Nabataeans made Petra immortal.

Al Khaznch, popularly known as the Treasury, Petra
Al Khaznch, popularly known as the Treasury, Petra

 

 

 

Ready for ? & fuses with the ancients

 

 

 

part of the Oval Colonnade, Jerash, Jordan
part of the Oval Colonnade, Jerash, Jordan

Coupled with its commercially strategic position,  the Jordan region had been fused, either through mutual interest, religion or conquest, with the great powers of the day from Greece to the Ottomans. The Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, founded by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.E.) and continuing as a major city within the Roman Empire,  is one of Jordan’s archeological gems.  Heavily damaged by earthquakes in 749 A.C.E., the city continued, and the remarkably preserved site is surrounded today by Jordan’s modern city of Jerash.

 

 

Triumphal Arch of Hadrian, Jerash, Jordan
Triumphal Arch of Hadrian, Jerash, Jordan
Site at which John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth, Jordan River: (left bank) the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, (right bank) Israel
Site at which John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth, Jordan River: (left bank) the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, (right bank) Israel

The Jordan River of biblical fame still defines a land that has stirred great passions in human history from Moses to today’s conflict concerning the West Bank. People that share an ageless  history are divided by a thin, slow moving stream of brown water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present day Christian baptisms, right bank Jordan River (Israel).The site at which John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth is shared by Jordan and Israel but divided in half.
Present day Christian baptisms, right bank Jordan River (Israel).

Jordan’s storied history has created a legendary cuisine with variations of many dishes it shares with Spice Route neighbors. From breakfast to late night dinner a bounty of mezze (small plates) to aromatic wood grilled lamb and Bedouin ash bread baked in hot sand will be but a few of the dishes in a culinary repertoire as vast as the Kingdom’s deserts.

a mezze "buffet" at Sufra Restaurant, Amman, Jordan
a mezze “buffet” at Sufra Restaurant, Amman, Jordan
fishing in the Red Sea, Aqaba, Jordan
fishing in the Red Sea, Aqaba, Jordan

For the modern traveler there has never been a better time to enjoy hospitality as stunning as Jordan’s natural beauty. Despite surrounding turmoil, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan enjoys peace  within its borders and goes to great length to ensure security for its citizens and visitors. Tolerant and democratic Jordan allows the 21st century  traveler a rare glimpse at the entire history of the Cradle of Civilization from iconic archeological sites, ageless Bedouin lifestyles, the roots of modern cuisine, phenomenons of nature, accommodations from Bedouin tents to the heights of luxury and even newborn  baby camels.

Mother & newborn camels, Wadi Rum, Jordan
Mother & newborn camels, Wadi Rum, Jordan
Captain Desert Private Wadi Rum Camp, Jordan
Captain Desert Private Wadi Rum Camp, Jordan
 Kempinski Ishtar Hotel, Dead Sea, Jordan
Kempinski Ishtar Hotel, Dead Sea, Jordan
enjoying a hooka, Aqaba, Jordan
enjoying a hooka, Aqaba, Jordan
Discover Jordan for yourself.
Dead Sea sunset from the Kempinski Ishtar Hotel, Jordan
Dead Sea sunset from the Kempinski Ishtar Hotel, Jordan

Follow Travel with Pen and Palate’s articles on Jordan:

The historic beauty of Jordan

Four serene destinations in timeless Jordan

Not all Jordan almonds are Jordan Almonds

Petra and pizza fuses Jordan with the ancients

 

(disclaimer: author was a guest of Jordan Tourism Board North America )

You can read all my travel and food articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Two Irish village gems: Kinsale and Westport

Kinsale, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale’s history is drama beyond its size.

Kinsale, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland

Yet tranquility reigned on these soft days of late August showers that alternated with brilliant sunshine. Everyone on the streets – punctuated by bright red, deep blue or even burnt orange painted houses – settled into the rhythms of the photo perfect port town with the distinct sounds of seagulls and a charming child-size waterfront amusement park.

Kinsale, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale was founded in the early 1300s by the Plantagenet dynasty of England. Based on the success of Celtic Mediterranean sea routes,  for the next 500 years Kinsale would become the wine distribution center for Europe generating vast fortunes….

Charles Fort, Kinsale, Ireland
Charles Fort, Kinsale, Ireland

…and attention as it was fought over for centuries with the very independence of Ireland in balance. Read why

Kinsale is the most beautiful village in Ireland

 

skeet shooting, Westport House, Ireland
skeet shooting, Westport House, Ireland

The legend of Irish ‘pirate queen’ Grace O’Malley – Ó Máille Clan chieftain ­­­– is in the history books, yet as important as that was it would be passing down her entrepreneurial pluck and the aristocratic titles and privileges conferred on succeeding generations that would perpetuate Grace O’Malley’s family into the 21st century.

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland
Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland

Adding to this allure is the photogenic village of Westport and elegant Westport House creations of enlightened 18th century concepts in estate planning.

Carrowbeg River mall, Westport, Ireland
Carrowbeg River mall, Westport, Ireland

So morphing Westport House estate during the 1960s into a family-oriented tourist attraction made perfect entrepreneurial sense.

zorbing, Westport House, Ireland
zorbing, Westport House, Ireland

Find out what’s zorbing at

Irish chieftain Grace O’Malley would approve of Westport

 

swans at Westport House, Ireland
swans at Westport House, Ireland

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Twas nights before a southern Christmas

 

In Marion Square, Charleston, SC
In Marion Square, Charleston, SC

DSC06665Walk down any Charleston street and you’ll be acknowledged. Stop and ask a question and be prepared for a lengthy and enthusiastic conversation. As one gentleman said, “Charleston’s always been unique.”

DSC06618

 

Did Charleston invent the spirit of Christmas?

 

Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Santa's Workshop in gingerbread
Santa’s Workshop in gingerbread

Richmond’s elegant Jefferson Hotel used to stock live alligators in the fountain of the Palm Court lobby. How does Christmas top that? Old Pompey, immortalized by a taxidermist, was the last and after his passing in 1948 the fountain was removed.

 

Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

Richmond residents as well as visitors are drawn to both the lobby and hotel restaurants akin to New York’s Time Square – it’s the city’s Christmas focal point. Read why at…

Christmas alligators at the Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

 

Polar Express Christmas trolly tour stop, Historic Pensecola, FL
Polar Express Christmas trolly tour stop, Historic Pensecola, FL
The Happy Pig Cafe, Historic Pensecola
The Happy Pig Cafe, Historic Pensacola

Seville Square and Pensacola’s National Historic District remain one of America’s most enduring Florida gulf shore neighborhoods and a focal point for Christmas festivities.

 

 

 

 

Pensacola National Historic District, FL
Pensacola National Historic District, FL

Read why Historic Pensacola has the ambiance of a village within the 21st century city and Christmas reflects its southern charm.

Historic Florida Christmas in Pensacola Village

 

Glass dome of the Palm Court Lobby, Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Glass dome of the Palm Court Lobby, Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Where Asia and Europe flow together: Kavala, Greece

 

Kavala, Greece
Kavala, Greece
the Imaret (early 19th century) now boutique hotel.
the Imaret (early 19th century) now boutique hotel.

The twisting streets of Kavala’s old city reveals its recent past. The architecture is a mosaic of historical patterns befitting a port city serving empires. Known as Neapolis for its first thousand years, Kavala has born witness to dreamers and emperors since the 7th century B.C.  It’s easy to marvel at the 16th century engineering beauty of the Kamares aquaduct from the fortress.

 

The Kamares aquaduct (15th century)
The Kamares aquaduct (15th century)

Adding to the charm of the city are important and entertaining sites in the nearby countryside – the impressive remains of Philippi,  Lydia, the Krinides Therapeutic Clay Baths and vineyards on the mountain where Dionysus resided in the Pangaion Hills.

Ktima Biblia Chora vineyard on the slopes of Mt. Pangaion.
Ktima Biblia Chora vineyard on the slopes of Mt. Pangaion.

 

To get there, stay at, go to and dine please read…

Kavala: still fresh after 2,700 years

 

N 40° 55' dining room at the Lucy Hotel, Kavala
N 40° 55′ dining room at the Lucy Hotel, Kavala

 

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Tsikali Taverna, Sifnos Island, Greece: Tradition

 

Flora and Nikos Kratzeskaros
Flora and Nikos Kratzeskaros

 

a community wood fired oven in Vathi, Sifnos, Greece
a community wood fired oven in Vathi, Sifnos, Greece

A community wood fired oven…producing cheese from goats and sheep from your farm…serving these dishes on the beach mere feet from the Aegean. Welcome to the 21st century Greek style.

ingredients for caper salad
ingredients for caper salad

The village of Vathi is a classic beauty. The winding road descends from the hills and one’s first glimpse is the gleaming white buildings clustered in a crescent on a white sand beach in front of the interminable clear aqua water of the Aegean. Read all about Nikos, Flora and Tsikali Taverna at…

Tradition is the norm at Tsikali Taverna on Sifnos Island

 

Vathi, Sifnos, Greece
Vathi, Sifnos, Greece

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Travel

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Fort Hunter: slavery, the Gilded Age and philanthropy

Party games at Fort Hunter Mansion late 1800s
Party games at Fort Hunter Mansion late 1800s
View of the Susquehanna River from a mansion window
View of the Susquehanna River from a mansion window

 

Fort Hunter captures a sweeping 200-year panoply of Pennsylvania.  From frontier outpost, slavery, Revolution, the promise of canals, Civil War, the age of steel to modern philanthropy, this bucolic site was at the center of history.

 

 

 

From 1786 to 1831 over 20 enslaved African-Americans made the soap, ironed the clothes, cooked and cleaned the house, worked the farm and its businesses. Narrowly avoiding being in the center of the Civil War, Fort Hunter entered an era as a focal point for Harrisburg society in the 1880s.

Fort Hunter Mansion
Fort Hunter Mansion

With over 80% of the mansion’s furnishings, antiques and art original to the families that called Fort Hunter home, a tour of the house provides a rare glimpse into 200 years of American life.  Read the intriguing story…

A Harrisburg historical site mirrors American history

 

DSC02751

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Travel

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Mount Olympus is more than legend

 

Mt. Olympus & the village of Litohoro
Mt. Olympus & the village of Litohoro
Within the Mt. Olympus range
Within the Mt. Olympus range

Home to Zeus and his family of gods, declared the first Greek national park in 1938, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981 and a European Union “Most Important Bird” area, the region includes 120 species of flowers, 1,700 species of plants with 23 exclusive to the Mount Olympus microclimate.

The Bath of Zeus
The Bath of Zeus

No wonder the gods wanted this prime real estate. At its base is Dion, the nearly three-millennium old holy city of ancient Macedonia dedicated to Olympian Zeus. Within the confines of the park is the 600-year-old Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Dionysios of Olympus. And scattered throughout are sites steeped in legend and history. Read what has attracted the multitudes for eons in my column for the Hellenic News of America:

Mount Olympus: playground for gods and mortals

 

Restoration of Monastery of St. Dionysios of Olympus
Restoration of Monastery of St. Dionysios of Olympus

 

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Travel

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Vermilionville Living History and Folk Life Park

 

L'École (the schoolhouse) at Vermilionville
L’École (the schoolhouse) at Vermilionville

 

Vermilionville
Vermilionville

 

Virmilionville holds the spirits and memories of the people who lived, loved and worked in them for over two centuries

Vermilionville
Vermilionville

There is much to see and learn at Vermilionville. The self-guided walking tour gives the visitor the opportunity to linger and absorb the feeling of life in a pre-20th century village.

 

Cajuns are the survivors of ethnic cleansing carried out of a grand scale in the 1760s…I know. As the direct descendant of survivors I grew up with the history as bed-time stories… read at

Vermilionville honors Cajun culture in Lafayette Parish

 

Virmilionville
Virmilionville

 

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Travel

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Aristotle, Monks and the Alexandros Palace Hotel

 

Mt. Athos at dawn
Mt. Athos at dawn
mosaic floor at the excavations Monastery of Zygos
mosaic floor at the excavations Monastery of Zygos

The evidence of Greece’s long and turbulent civilization lay scattered throughout the country.  It was as easy to stumble across remnants of an ancient site in the middle of a farm field as it was to visit the impressive ruins of the 10th century Monastery of Zygos

Ancient Stagira
Ancient Stagira
Alexandros Palace Hotel
Alexandros Palace Hotel

Between Mt. Athos and  Stagira the 250-room Alexandros Palace Hotel resort complex, a veritable village on a 90-acre hillside just outside Ouranoupolis, is an ideal location to explore this fabled peninsula.

My article details it all…

The many layers of Greece on Athos

 

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Travel

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner