Coastal City of Split, Croatia



map courtesy of https://www.britannica.com/place/Split-Croatia
modified for clarity by JBRish.com

Split is the second largest city in Croatia and as the largest city on the Croatian coast, the seaport and marina area is a main tourist destination.



Our first formal stop in Split was at the Ivan Meštrović Art and Sculpture Gallery. Although he was a contemporary of Rodin and Klimt and eventually emigrated to the United States after WWII, his works do not appear to be very well-known in America.



Ivan Meštrović art and sculpture Gallery Main Entrance

What gallery would be complete without a cat to welcome visitors?


The gallery’s location is beautiful with an elevated view of the Adriatic Sea.



A few of my favorite sculptures on display:







The Pieta


Works by Ivan Meštrović – Video


This brief video shows the constrcution of The Bowman and the Spearman statues in Chicago’s Grant Park which have become controversial because of its representation of Native Americans.

 
The Diocletian Palace (retirement home of Emperor Diocletian) built during the Roman era using local limestone and marble is perhaps the premier attraction in Split.

Early in the palace tour, visitors are shown a tapestry of the compound which depicts how it might have originally appeared. At one time the Adriatic abutted the palace grounds, but now is kept well-back from the property line.



A clearer drawing of the diagram can be found HERE.

The basement is a maze of rooms and chambers which served as storage areas.



There is mention online that some of the dragon scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in the “lower chambers” of the palace.*



Tourists may be surprised to find out that Diocletian Palace premises still maintains a dynamic residential community of approximately 3,000 residents and is one of the oldest historical inhabited monuments in the world.**

The nearby Cathedral of Saint Dominus once served as the Emperor Diocletian’s tomb.



Outside of the Cathedral, lion statues guard the entrance.



A huge Ivan Meštrović statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin stands north of the palace just outside the area known as the Golden Gate.



The female Benedictine Monastery currently known as St. Arnir [named after the Split Archbishop] is also located near the palace. The landmark bell tower rises above many of the nearby buildings.




One of the Monastery occupants doing some maintenance

The Renaissance style buildings surrounding People’s Square located in Split’s Old Town form a popular shopping and dining area.





Brač

The island of Brač (pronounced “Bratch”) is the largest island in Dalmatia and a favorite getaway destination for locals.



View of Split from the ferry to Brač

As the highest peak on Brač and also of all Adriatic islands, the Vidova Gora attracts hikers from around the world. Read more about the dramatic hike HERE.



View from near the top of Vidova Gora with the Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) Beach peninsula in the background

The ferry to and from Brač arrives at the island village of Supetar where authentic scenes of island life catch the eye.



Picturesque side street



Church of the Annunciation – Supetar

Leaving Supetar to return to Split, ferry passengers may be able to get an idyllic view of the Cemetery of St. Nicolas peninsula.



Back on the mainland, Kavala Beach provides an interesting venue for seaside walks and people watching.



 

*Guide To Diocletian’s Palace: a “Living Museum” in Split Croatia – Scroll down to see actual dragon scene from the show captured at the palace.

** Following the steps of Emperor Diocletian meet today’s Split

 

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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

 

 

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina



Map courtesy of The Organization for World Peace modified for JBRish readers.

Mostar is located in the southern portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is divided by the Neretva River.

Walking near Mostar’s old town, tourists may sense that the architecture has Turkish influences with minarets piercing the air.



Of particular note is the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque (below) which stands as an outstanding example of Ottoman architecture. The tall and thin minaret can be climbed with paid admission.



Another aspect of Mostar that is reminiscent of Ottoman and Middle Eastern culture is the Bazaar-like section of old town.



Picture courtesy of mynoadiclifestyle

Flowers carefully planted outside the vintage windows help take the edge off the overabundance of souvenir shops.



The intricate patterned cobbled streets are sometimes tricky to negotiate.



It is the Neretva River, however, which necessitated the creation the area’s most famous landmark – – the “extremely arched” Stari Most (Old Bridge). The bridge has a storied history which you can read HERE.



While crossing the Stari Most, visitors will soon realize that there are raised horizontal strips which may make walking somewhat awkward, but without them the bridge can be very slippery. Tourists are advised to walk on the raised sections if possible.



To entertain visitors, young men stand atop the railings of the bridge and when enough people have provided monetary encouragement, they dive 70 feet from the bridge into the Neretva. The river also serves as a venue for rafting and kayaking.



The panoramic views from the top of the bridge are scenic and picture-worthy.



Mostar came under attack during the Bosnian war and the Croatian army destroyed the famed landmark.

 

While UNESCO and other countries assisted in rebuilding the bridge between 2001 and 2004, the painful experience the destruction represented has been seared deeply into the psyche of the local population.



Orašac Village – Earlier in the Day

On the way to Mostar, we stopped in a very quaint, quiet and picturesque town of Orašac, Croatia founded in 1040.



We were there to visit a small private garden and olive mill that has retained some of the traditional methods of producing olive oil.



The old olive press was quite a machine to see, but what was even more interesting was how the press was operated. One horse power was all that was needed.



Beautiful garden features lined the paths.



After a sampling of the offerings, we were on our way!

 

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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

 

 

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Spending several days in one area affords tourists the opportunity to gain familiarity with the geography, customs and attractions and enhances the travel experience.


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Used Courtesy of Dubrovnik bed and breakfast.com

A cruise around Old Town Dubrovnik along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea provided that enriched perspective.

We boarded the boat at Old Town’s east side port.


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Soon we were parallel to the southern side of Old Town’s cliff face and wall.


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A more comprehensive view of the impressive wall

The trip continued westward when the Brsalje Street area came into view (see picture below). The center location with trees is one that is frequented by numerous tourists where there are reasonably priced restaurants and proximity to the Pile Gate entrance to Old Town.


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Next was a closeup view of Fort Lovrijenac.


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Fort Lovrijenac was the westernmost boundary of our trip this day as the boat turned to return eastward towards Lokrum Island.


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If inclinations favor terra firma, the island is now a nature reserve, botanical garden and home to Fort Royal.


Kayakers along the shoreline of Lokrum Island
Kayakers along the shoreline of Lokrum Island

When unique is what you seek, then Dubrovnik has you covered there as well. Cave Beach or Betina Cave is only reachable by boat or kayak and draws a number of water sport enthusiasts.


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Cave Beach

Heading back to the harbor, boaters have a magnificent panoramic view of St. John’s Fort and Old Town Harbor.


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Mt. Srd rises above the northern crest of Old Town and provides amazing views.


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Those interested can hike to the top of Mt. Srd via an established trail, catch the #17 bus to the top or take the cable car.

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View of Old Town from the top of Mt. Srd.

While the views of Old Town were stunning from the top of Mt. Srd, there was more to see. A museum dedicated to the Croatia Homeland War and the Croatian War for Independence Memorial are nearby.


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A short walk from the memorial is Fort Imperial where damage from the siege of Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence is still visible.


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Continuing to walk east, a more expansive picturesque view of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea comes into view.


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One last panoramic view of Old Town from Mt. Srd with Lokrum Island in the background.


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End Notes

** 4 Ways to get to the Top of Mount Srd

** Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car or Hike Croatia’s Mount Srd?

 
**Always check for the most current and updated information as availability may change.

 


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Kayakers may rent equipment to paddle around the Pile Gate/Ft. Lovrijenac area

 

See the previous posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

While walking the wall above Old Town Dubrovnik is certainly quite impressive, there is much to see and appreciate at ground level.

If entering at the Pile Gate (west entrance), one of the first iconic destinations is the Large Onofrio’s Fountain designed by Onofrio della Cava and Pietro di Martino dating back to 1438.



Interestingly, the fountain still services this section of Dubrovnik by providing potable drinking water.

Each of the fountain’s 16 sections is decorated with a detailed “mask” and a spigot coming from the mouth. A number of tourists used the fountain to fill their drinking bottles.



During earthquakes and through aging, the fountain sustained damage. Although the reconstruction was not quite as ornate as the original, it is still impressive. Kučak, the fountain dog, suffered severe damage, but was finally restored in 2016.

You can read about Small Onofrio’s Fountain HERE



The approximately 300 meter long limestone main street in Old Town is referred to as the Stradun. This is where a number of main attractions can be found.



Dubrovnik’s Bell Tower is a major landmark dating back to the 15th century. It is pictured below with Mt. Srd in the background. Two metal figurines known as “The Greens,” strike the bell every day at noon alerting those in and around Luža Square.



Read more about the interesting history of the Bell Tower HERE

There are many side streets which invite tourists to stroll down to explore the variety of shops and restaurants.



Don’t forget to look up to appreciate the architecture that does not appear easily in view.



The Church of St Nicholas Bell Tower

Of course not all is old. What tourist area would not benefit from a candy store? This particular version is quite different.



Needless to say, there are also numerous gelato venues. A somewhat unique shop offered toy rubber ducks. Perhaps they have duck races from time-to-time in and around Old Town.



In a fashion similar to that of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, pigeons have found a welcome home in Old Town. There are holes in the walls (aka “bird hotels”) used to erect scaffolding when work needs to be done and the birds have turned these niches in to nesting places.



At the far end of the main Stradun, near the Ploce Gate (east side), is an entrance to the Dominican Monastery showing amazing architectural grace and beauty.



It is easy to understand why Old Town is a tourist favorite with so much to see and explore! Scroll down for a few quick takes…

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Luža Square with the Church of St Blaise



Administrative buildings, such as the Rector’s Palace show incredible detail and craftsmanship.



National and county flags decorate a number of the office buildings.



A statue of Croatian writer Marin Držić receives nose rubs from passersby.



As we departed Old Town for the last time, we noticed (among the replica cannon balls) a cat eying a pigeon only a foot away. Both bird and cat seemed pretty laid back in the moment. Apparently all was peaceful this day in Old Town.



See previous entries in this series of posts:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

 

Next stop – Dubrovnik viewed from the Adriatic and above!

Cordoba, Spain and the Olive Country

Granada had a wonderful mixed ambiance of the old and the new which is very inviting, but after two days, it was time to move on to Cordoba for a very brief single-day stop. There would be no overnight stay, just a quick day of touring.


Olive orchards on the way to Cordoba
picture snapped through our speeding bus window

On the way, we traveled through Spain’s premier olive-growing region of Andalusia and of course we made a requisite stop at one of the local olive mills. There were plenty of products for sale and we acquired several tins of the famed olive oil as well as some decorative bottle stoppers.

The grounds had interesting artifacts. Whether they were originals or not, I had no way of knowing, but they were engaging just the same. The picture below is of a large urn for storing part of the season’s olive oil bounty. The metal wheels would most likely be parts of the grinding machinery used to crush the olives.


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This is a view of the beautiful plantings. Notice the urn in the distance.


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After our brief stop, we boarded the bus and arrived in Cordoba. We had a brief lunch and then enjoyed a walk through the historic part of the city which is a delight for anyone who enjoys the beautiful contrast of solid colored building facades (mostly white) generously punctuated with colorful flower-filled pots and planters.


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We also spent time wandering through city’s historic Jewish Quarter. Casa Pepe de la Juderia is one of the well-known restaurants in this part of town.


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Markers were embedded among the paving stones to differentiate the Jewish Quarter streets.


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Towering over the center of Cordoba, and visible from many streets, are the towers of the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) which is perhaps the main draw for many tourists and adventurers. The structure is referred to as both a mosque and a cathedral because of its complex history.


he Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba
The Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba

The Torre del Alminar (Minaret Tower) has been converted to the Bell Tower with steps leading to the top for impressive views of Cordoba.

Even before entering the building, an examination of the beautiful exterior details revealed the uniqueness and the age of this Mosque. The nine entrances are referred to as gates; each with a distinct name. I believe this is the Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto.


Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto

Our group began the tour by gathering in the main courtyard.


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The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba – Which has a unique combination of Christian and Moorish architecture and religious cultures. The original structure had, for a time, dual occupancy with different sections being used by the Visigoth Christians and the Muslims, but was later destroyed to make way for a grand Mosque (Mezquita) constructed over a period of more than 200 years.

In the 13th century, the building was taken over by the Christians and converted into a church. **

** Source

There is a huge columnar prayer hall that is astonishingly beautiful because of the colors and the manner in which the light plays off the surrounding walls, ceilings and floors.


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There are reportedly an excess of 800 columns supporting the structure.


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The picture below is particularly interesting because of the golden hue, the ornate carving and the hanging lights.


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The focal point in the prayer hall is the unusual horse-shoe arched prayer niche or mihrab beautifully painted with exquisite detail. Gold-backed glass was used in the construction and provides some of the striking contrast.**


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** Source

Wherever one looked, there was magnificence on display. The intricate arches were stunning.


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When the Christian rulers gained control of the structure, they took to the task of constructing the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption inside the mosque. This is the High Altar of the main chapel.


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Not to be outdone by all of the detailed artwork of the mosque, the chapel dome is also very ornate…


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As is this nearby ceiling…


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There is a Museum in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption where this gold and green artifact is on display.


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After our visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, we returned to the quaint streets of Cordoba with the mosque peering through the narrow skyscapes.


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Cordoba is also known for its courtyards and during May, there is a courtyard festival:

Every year in May, the city of Cordoba in Andalusia celebrates its famous Courtyards Festival, a tradition which was declared a part of our Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO in 2012 and during which many of the courtyards or “patios” in the historic quarter are open to visitors for a few days. The festival is a competition to discover the most beautiful courtyards in the city, and fills the streets with colour, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom and the strains of flamenco.**

** Source

While this was not part of the festival when we were in town, it was an interesting, colorful courtyard that we were able to admire.


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There was time for one last stop before we headed for the train station and I wanted to see the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) and the Roman Arch Gate which is within easy walking distance of the Mosque.


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The afternoon shadows were growing long so we made our way to the train station in Cordoba to take the two-hour (+/-) ride to Madrid.

Members of our group served to create a Norman Rockwell moment.


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The bullet train was very sleek and fast! Next Stop Madrid!


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


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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 JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Marbella Along the Mediterranean

After being on the road for a number of days, the stop at Marbella was designed as a flex day to allow those who wanted to rest a bit to take a resort-style, relaxing day at the beach! Others could use the day to explore the suburban tourist town of Marbella. Once in our room, we peered out the window to get our first real glimpse of the Mediterranean – part of Spain’s Costa del Sol!


The Mediterranean viewed from the hotel

We arrived late in the afternoon. Although the day had been a long one yet we were excited by the tropical atmosphere Marbella offered. We refreshed a bit and headed for dinner at a very local Italian restaurant practically across the street from our hotel.

Once done, we walked down to the boardwalk for an after dinner stroll. It was a magical evening with the blue water and late day light. After a moderate walk, we went back to the room to get a good rest for explorations the next day!

After a quick breakfast, we were anxious for our next adventure.


Along Marbella's Beachfront

Boardwalks are always interesting because hotels, galleries, small stores and beach-related activities along the path often reveal the unexpected. A sand sculptor was busy at work early in the morning and we stopped to admire his craftmanship.


Sand Sculptor of Children

To be clear, I speak very little Spanish. For some reason, a couple of lessons from my high school years came rushing forth and I was able to conjure several helpful phrases. I approached the sculptor and asked him how long these works would last given the weather and the fragility of the material.


Castle sand sculpture

He explained that they would only remain for two weeks at the most! We proffered a small donation and headed for the main section of town. It was a bit of a walk, but then again, we are walkers!

Along the way we came to Alameda Park located on Av. Ramón y Cajal. We were intrigued by this statue of a girl on a swing that was nearly hidden among the trees.


Girl on a Swing Statue in a tree

There was also a festive, brightly colored carousel nearby, but not yet open for wannabe riders!


A carousel at Almeda park

At some point we missed our target, but being adventurous we forged ahead with map in hand to find local markets, courtyards, churches, etc. As Tolkien said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”


A side street in Marbella


Fancy inlaid stonework in a town square

We enjoyed walking the streets where the locals live and peeking into store windows. As would be expected in a waterfront town, there were a number fish markets.


Fish market window

We continued to be wowed by the beautiful, quaint facades, heavy wooden doorways, …


A pretty house view with plants and wooden door

colorful plantings and exterior adornments!


Colorful house and bougainvillea

As we approached the main center of town, where more tourists were likely to shop, there were the usual merchants and crowds of bargain seekers.


Shoppers along one of the alleyways


Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.
Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.

The fascination of adventuring through these small towns is being able to capture the variety of picturesque scenes such as this unique colorful restaurant.


Pretty restaurant with blue religious statue

Another floral festooned restaurant beckons visitors to “come take a closer look.”


A restaurant entrance

In a nearby square, an impressive array of beach stones were laid on their side to create a floral pattern which framed the larger square pictured below.


closeup view of intricate stonework in a town square


A Town Square of Marbella

Houses, shops and churches find common ground in such enclaves and as tourists walk along looking at the merchandise, they may be enticed to examine the small, unassuming houses of worship that have their own subdued majesty to share.


Small side street of Marbella


Small neighborhood church

We took a brief lunch break and continued our town walk until early evening. There were many more scenes that caught our eye, but I think the pictures above capture the essence of Marbella.

The next day we rode the bus along the hillsides to reach our next destination – Ronda!


A view of the mountains from our bus
photographed from our moving tourist coach!


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


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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 JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Desert T-Shirts

Living in what I call a designated tourist area such as Phoenix, Arizona has both positive and negative aspects. Of course during those months that are cold in a good part of the United States and Canada, we have an influx of tourists, part-time residents and guests.

When guests come to visit us, one of the areas we like to take them is Old Town Scottsdale. There are some historical attractions which we look at, but the gift shops of all varieties are the real draw.

As the resident Phoenician, I get a kick out of going to the tourist shops to see what new desert themed T-shirts are displayed. They generally come in two categories, 1 – The beauty or uniqueness of the desert or 2 – Poking fun at the unusual life styles and/or environment of the desert.

The t-shirt below reminds us of the beautiful wildlife we have in the area. We do have some extraordinary lizards, although nothing quite like the one pictured.

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Of course Phoenix is a big draw as well as Scottsdale…

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And to celebrate the heritage and uniqueness of the desert…

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Then there are those that make fun of the harsh environment and cowboy atmosphere and this one tackles both…
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115 degrees is hot, but c’mon it beats 30 inches of snow, doesn’t it?

One of my favorites this day was this punful one…

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All of these T-shirts were found at Scottsdale Southwest Gifts and Apparel just north of the Scottsdale Historical Museum on the same side of the street.

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I am not making a recommendation although I have made purchases there. Many stores offer unique apparel both authentic southwest as well as humorous or stylized southwest items.

When you visit Scottsdale’s Old Town, be sure to bring your camera and your sense of humor. I am sure you will have a good time. Don’t forget the Scottsdale Historical Museum in the center of Old Town.