The Enchantment of Rovinj and the Allure of Venice

After Dubrovnik, Rovinj would be another “must see” city in Croatia. A historic harbor town located along the Adriatic Sea on the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula, it is very reminiscent of a number of quaint Italian villages. Travelers will appreciate the abundance of varied, colorful scenes that project charm and romanticism.

Below is a view of the Old Town looking north from the Rovinj Marina at Luka Rovinj. The Church of Saint Euphemia’s spire rises above all other structures.

Here is a closer view

The hilltop location and weathered cobblestone streets provide an array of old world venues to investigate.

In destination cities, there are usually cafes, small boutiques and unique emporiums and Rovinj will not disappoint. Rovinj is made for walking. As a mostly car-free town it invites visitors to explore the narrow alleyways and traverse up and down the stone stairways. Pedestrians stop often to admire the old world architecture and colorful facades.

Don’t get the wrong idea however, Rovinj has also evolved to appeal to the more contemporary taste of savvy travelers. There are interesting eateries and shops with up-to-date color schemes and modern offerings.

Tourists may have a tendency to forget that daily lives swirl about as they visit surrounding streets, but somehow mundane images seem to take on additional appeal in a setting such as Rovinj.

The dominant building and a favorite tourist stop is the Church of Saint Euphemia built on the highest hilltop between 1725 and 1736 .

*The bell tower bears a strong resemblance to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and serves as a platform for the statue of St. Euphemia, the Patron Saint of Rovinj. The bronze sculpture is constructed on a spindle which enables it to turn indicating the direction of the wind.

The statue of St. Euphemia can be seen on the top of the bell tower in Rovinj.

The colorful buildings against the blue water and stormy sky provided plenty of opportunity for beautiful photographs.

To relax a bit and take in the ambience of the town, a stroll along the harbor is a top choice.

Walking around Rovinj, one is easily reminded that this is a seafaring locale relying on the Adriatic for its livelihood, tourism and recreation.

Reminders of the daily work

The rustic buildings pointing toward the sea have satellite dishes on the roofs providing a mix of the old and the new.

A number of marinas draw fishing and boating enthusiasts to the area.

A small ferry transports passengers between the town’s perimeter and the old section. A fine place to bid farewell to hard-to-forget Rovinj.

To catch the flight back to the United States, our tour group made a one-day stop over in Venice. Although we had been there before, the contender for the moniker, City of Love, still had plenty of charisma to offer.**

San Giorgio Maggiore island and church in Venice viewed from the Grand Canal walkway

The canals of Venice frame many interesting sights such as the Bridge of Sighs (left) and the San Giorigio del Greci Church (right)

If ever there was a location made for a romantic evening walk, it would be in-and-around the Grand Canal of Venice.

Early evening view of the famed gondolas with San Giorgio Maggiore island in the background

As darkness falls, the magic of the night unfolds in Venice

One of our favorite all-time great evenings was sitting in St. Mark’s Square with a glass of wine listening to the various orchestras compete in a make-shift “battle of the bands.” An evening in the square is a good place to cap off our great adventure.






See Previous Posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Coastal City of Split, Croatia

Zagreb – Capital City of Croatia

Ljubljana – Capital of Slovenia

Slovenia – Cookies, Castle, Caves and Cuisine

Pula’s Ancient Heritage


Pickleball Birthday Cake

Well, I knew this day was coming and naturally I am glad I am here to enjoy it. A week ago, I celebrated my three-quarter century birthday. It has been an interesting journey and one of the most exciting facets of that journey is my enjoyment of Pickleball (America’s fastest growing sport).

My dear best friends helped my wife and I mark this milestone by taking us out to a local Italian restaurant for a wonderful dinner. I made sure to “leave room” because I had a hunch that the dessert was going to be something very special.

Sure enough, they unboxed this amazing pickleball birthday cake.

Note: The pickle and the ball are obvious, but the words on the bottom say “75 (hidden from view) and still dinking it.” The colors were much more vibrant in “real life.”

The cake was scrumptious. It had a vanilla layer and chocolate layer with a thin, tasty layer of raspberry preserves between. All the flavors melded well with the buttercream frosting.

This is truly a birthday to remember!

Vide-Ohs: Amazing Hummingbirds

I feel fortunate to live in an area that attracts quite a few hummingbirds and some are year-round residents. The beautiful video below has some magnificent footage of these aerial acrobats.

Just as fascinating are all the facts about hummingbirds. Did you know they have the largest heart per animal size?

From the video’s website:

Over 20 amazing Facts about Hummingbirds. Slow motion footage of the hummingbird in Full HD. Great for school nature projects. Watch hummingbirds fly in ULTRA slow motion. Watch the humming bird (the hummer) hover and fly backwards in slow motion. Videos of hummingbird babies (chicks) being fed. Learn about the hummingbird tongue and it’s eating habits. Discover how fast it’s heart beats and how fast it’s wings beat.

The white hummingbird can be leucistic or albino. The leucistic hummingbird has partial loss of pigmentation so it’s not totally white and can be a little patchy in places. The very rare albino hummingbird is totally white with pink eyes, beak and feet.

The colibri (hummingbird) is a sacred bird for the Taino Indians because it is a pollinator and as such, brings life.


More Vide – Ohs

To See additional Interesting Videos Click HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 –

Photography: My Shot – Beautiful Hillside in Sintra, Portugal


Whether I am traveling to foreign countries or hiking the national parks, one of my major goals is to capture the experience through my photography. Of course weather is not controllable and under adverse weather conditions, photography can be challenging.

When traveling with a tour group another “tricky” variable is how much time will be allotted at a given site and what areas will be available to view before needing to get back to the group.

In the picture below, I was with a group touring the National Palace in Sintra, Portugal. It is just a short ride from Lisbon via bus. The town is historic with very narrow streets and many pretty houses.

While we were touring the various rooms of the Palace, windows were open to allow air to circulate through the building. One procedure I have developed as a photography enthusiast is to look for pictures within pictures. When I looked through a palace window, I saw the scene pictured below.

Although the sky was cloudy and the light was not great, I thought it was remarkably picturesque. The details and colors of the buildings juxtaposed against the lush foliage certainly caught my eye. While my movement was limited because of the narrow window I thought the composition was also worthy.

I hope you concur that this is an interesting picture taken on a cloudy day.



File Name: 0000350 Picturesque view of the mountainside of Sintra Portugal 2622r.jpg
Capture time: 9:17 AM
Capture date: May 10, 2018
Exposure: 1/125 sec @ f/9.0
Focal Length: 55mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.12mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

Video: Floored by this Art Form – Beautiful

Rangoli, also known as kolam or Muggu, is a folk art from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. It is usually made during Diwali, Onam, Pongal and other Indian festivals. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities.

See more impressive and even larger examples HERE


More Vide – Ohs

To See additional Interesting Videos #click HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 –

Gardening When It Is Hot, Hot, Hot

Living in the Valley of the Sun when temperatures in April can reach 100 degrees and by May 100 seems as though it is a daily occurence, gardening still goes on. To deal with the unusual heat and direct brutal sun, however, certain accommodations must be made.

Because of the unusual emergency situation in the US this year, we were late in getting to some of our planting. One family of plants that is reliable even in the heat and sun of Phoenix, AZ are gazanias.

While gazanias can be grown everywhere, they do very well in hot weather. After all, they are native to South Africa. In areas that receive cold weather, these would be annuals. In the desert, they can be weathered over, but to be honest, they get bedraggled after one year and need much pruning and tender care to keep them going.

We find it more beneficial to introduce new plants each year.

I have written about them HERE and HERE

When planting even these hardy sun-loving plants, the gardener can’t just place them in their pot or garden space with appropriate fertilizer and water and anticipate that they are going to adjust and adapt easily.

What we have found that works well, is to provide a covering or some shade for two or three days and then remove the covering towards the evening of the last covered day when sun is no longer on them so they are prepared for the next day.

Here is what it looks like in our garden when we plant during the heat of the season!

The picture above is of a newly planted gazania. We use rock mulch to hold the emitters in place and help keep the lower layers of soil damp.

This is the same plant with its “hat” on. Notice that there is some light that gets to the plant, but not extreme sun. These simple baskets can be found at stores that sell things for a dollar (+/-). Of course there are more expensive coverings as well. We have a plastic milk crate we sometimes call into action for larger planters.

NOTE: If wind is going to be an issue, place a rock or other weight on top, making sure the covering is not crushing the plant.

We also use shade cloth when necessary because it is the only available covering at the time or the pot is large. We hold the covering above the plant by inserting bamboo garden stakes and using medium stationery clips to affix the cloth to the stakes; strong twist ties would do as well.

Gazanias are striking plants with exquisite color variations. They are very forgiving and I recommend them. The flower to leaf ratio is generous so there is much color in the area when they are cultivated.

Read more about gazanias.

How To Grow Gazania Treasure Flowers: Care Of Gazania Flowers


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 –

The Hills Are Alive in the Sonoran Desert

During these times of sheltering in place, when the weather turns nice we are bound to get the urge to take part in an outdoor activity. Luckily, in Maricopa County (Phoenix and surrounds) the weather has been perfect.

Wildflowers generally bloom this time of year and because of the rather abundant winter rains, we were hoping they would be putting on quite a show. We wanted to share the hiking activity with my brother-in-law and his friend and naturally we needed to observe appropriate social distancing.

We decided to visit an area we thought would not be too crowded even though it is beautiful. The plan was that each couple would drive separately and meet up at Lake Pleasant near Wickenburg, AZ.

Once at the parking area, we used the amenities, reviewed the maps and headed out on the Cottonwood Trail.

This is a view of the lake from the parking area.

The Cottonwood Trail was in a direction opposite that of the lake and thus there we only encountered a few other hikers.

Almost immediately, we found a beautiful hedgehog cactus (chinocereus Engelmannii). The colors seem almost too intense to be real like those in an overpriced tropical drink!

Pink and purple were the dominant colors of the day. The hills were covered with owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta).

They found footing in and around rocks and in what appeared to be inhospitable spaces.

Some patches were so dense that the entire hillside was pink!

The combination of the flowers, green bushes and towering saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) highlighted the natural beauty of the desert.

There were also ample displays of orange globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua).

Anecdote: We had a Maricopa County Park pass which allows for an entire car to enter the parks (including Lake Pleasant) on the one pass. Since we drove separately and although we totalled only four in our “group,” we inquired as to whether under the circumstances, we would be allowed to enter under the one pass. The attendant thought for a moment and said: “How about a Coronavirus discount?”… and waived us along.

Everyone is doing the best they can!

Read more hiking and exploring stories on JBRish HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 —

Nature’s Color Bounty on Display at Glacier NP

We spent a week hiking at Glacier National Park, Montana which is one of the most remote national parks in the United States. As the glaciers release the waters frozen in their winter larder, the streams and waterfalls flow freely. Although the sun was not dominating the sky on this day, the colors rendered all around us were magnificent.

While hiking along the Johns Lake Loop, we came across a number of vistas similar to the one below which was remarkable in the natural beauty rendered.



File Name: 000053_XT2A2321_glacier-HDR.dng
Capture time: 11:59:32 AM
Capture date: July 12, 2019
Exposure: 1/45 sec @ f/20
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 400
Camera: Fuji X-T2
Lens: XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM Ois
Edited in Lightroom


See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 –

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

We were excited to begin our second day in Seville because our walking tour was going to take us to the Alcazar, one of the oldest palaces currently in use by monarchs. Spain’s royal family resides there when duties call them to Seville or nearby towns. The Alcazar has also gained a bit of notoriety as the setting for some episodes of The Game of Thrones.

The Alcazar first served as a fort and was later used as a palace for the leaders of the cultures dominating the area. As noted in prior posts, centuries-old buildings contain vestiges of the societies that claimed ownership of them over time and the Alcazar is no exception.

Tourists will note elements reminiscent of the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as architectural influences of the Arab and other cultures. The main entrance is through the Lion’s Gate adjacent to the Plaza del Triunfo which is just one of the first of many interesting sights visitors will see.

The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Here is a close-up of the lion inlay.

The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Picture by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Visitors pass through an archway to arrive at the Patio de la Montería (The Hunting Courtyard).

Entrance archway to the Hunting Courtyard.

This is a photograph from the other side showing the manicured hedges and roses as well as other garden and architectural accents. The stonework is old and it looks its age!

Entrance archway from inside the Hunting Courtyard.

There are many notable characteristics of the Alcazar, but the numerous courtyards creating outdoor and indoor rooms must be high on that list. As the name implies, the Hunting Courtyard is where the royalty would gather those participating in the hunts. It currently serves as an entrance to the Royal Palace of Seville.

 Royal Palace of Seville.

The striking facade of the Mudejar Palace, or Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, located inside the Alcazar was constructed around 1360.

the Mudejar Palace

Notice the intricate patterns which I found remarkable considering the time in which it was built.

intricate patterns - facade of the Mudejar Palace

Other buildings framing the palace entrance were vibrantly colored which does not show as well in this shaded area.

vibrant colors of the buildings

The Dolls Courtyard (Patio de las Munecas) in the Alcazar had incredible structural details. The name is derived from the small abstract stucco faces that decorate some of the arches. I did not know about this “hidden” feature at the time, but the Internet has come to the rescue!

One of the dolls
A close up picture of one the dolls heads, a “hidden” architectural element in the Dolls Couryard of the Alcazar.
Photo courtesy of

Square skylight dome of the Dolls Courtyard

The square domed skylight of the Dolls Couryard (above) allowed filtered light to fill the area which enabled the play of light and shadow to accentuate the detailed stucco work (below).

Dolls Couryard with intricate carvings

The Ambassador’s Hall (Salón de Embajadores – below), sometimes referenced as the Throne Room, was a very important area of the Alcazar because it was used for public events and affairs. The arches were beautifully decorated with shades of blue. The pronounced curves have been referred to as “horseshoe arches.”

The Ambassador’s Hall

Here is a closer picture of some plaster details!

Arch details and colors

If this was not enough, a stunning dome made of gilded wood in the Ambassador’s Hall added an even more decadent accent.

Golden Dome Ceiling of the Ambassador's Hall

The Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas) has a reflecting pool which would be integral to a Moorish design. The name refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia. [1] Recent research indicated that the sunken garden was an original feature and thus was recently restored replacing a marble courtyard with center fountain.

Courtyard of the Maidens
<p>Additional plaster artwork among the arches of the Alcazar</p>
<p><img style=

When visiting a building of such historical importance and magnificence, it is really difficult to appreciate all it has to offer in the moment. In addition to all of the beautiful architecture and artwork mentioned thus far, the tile work along the walls was impressive.

The colorful tile below contains portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal. [2]

Beautiful tile work with portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal

Tile work pattern with blues, green and brown

Beautiful tile work

And then there was this wooden, door-like panel with a Moorish design…

Wooden panel with Moorish patterns

Once again, much like a child in a candy store, there was almost too much to take in at one time as we came to displays of beautiful tapestries. This tapestry was hanging above a doorway in the hall of Charles V.

Coat of Arm Tapestry

Here is a better picture of the entire hallway and notice the tiles and additional tapestries along the wall.

In the Sala de los Tapices (Room of Tapestries) the walls are covered with tapestries depicting various explorations and conquests. The originals were destroyed and these are reproductions. The Tapestry Room had to be built from scratch after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. [3]

Hall of Tapestries

Don’t forget to look up. The ceilings are also works of art.

Beautiful ceiling with wonderful colors

Another beautiful ceiling

As we walked through the palace, there were some striking rooms that looked out on to the vast gardens.

Sun room overlooking the gardens

One of my favorite spots in the garden was this curved tile bench with a hedge mimicking the outline.

Garden tile bench

There were a myriad of intersecting pathways to explore leading visitors to roses and other beautiful plantings.

Garden paths

Another garden path

Did I mention they have peacocks?

Peacock in the garden

Closer and more colorful picture of the peacock

As we left the gardens we used a beautifully carved portal near the Jardín del Retiro del Marqués.

Intricately carved stonework of the exit portal at the Alcazar's garden

This is one place in Seville where the more time a visitor has, the better. It was hard to see all of it while on a schedule with other planned stops!

[1] –

[2] –

[3] –


Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 –

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Lisbon Sardine Store

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to different places, especially other countries, is the opportunity to stumble upon unplanned, yet very interesting sights. As we made our way down the “avenue” in Lisbon near Rossio Square, my eye was caught by a bevy of beautiful lights and colorful signs.


At first it was very mysterious and hard to comprehend. The store had a good number of people milling around and the walls were full of colorful items that seemed like dated placards.


As we walked deeper Disney-like, we realized what we were seeing. Can you tell by this section of the wall? Look closely at the right-hand side of the rectangular, dated boxes.


It was an oasis of sardines in gift cans with dates on them. Of course we quickly realized that the dates were not the dates that those particular fish were packaged in their fanciful tins, but years representing birth dates. These were gifts of Portugues sardines in festive and colorful packages.


This was quite unique and a bit of research has revealed that there are a few of these stores in the Lisbon area.


Picture courtesy of Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

You can learn more about this unique gift shop by clicking the link: Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” — G. K. Chesterton


Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 –