(Image credit: Katrin Maldre)

Posted by Ellen

We're on the road again, headed for faraway places–not Ragusa Ibla, the magical Sicilian place shown here, but the other end of the world, where it's summertime now and we get to dance at the wedding of another niece, Gillian, who is marrying Mark Openshaw next weekend near Wellington, New Zealand.

Hole in the Clouds will remain update-free for a little while, till we make it back home around December 18–bearing stories and pictures, perhaps, but certainly carrying with us some of the energy and glow generated by this sort of happy family occasion.

As for Ragusa Ibla–some other day. Right now, we've got penguins and albatrosses to attend to, and sheep and glow worms and waterfalls and those absolutely outstanding kiwi accents.

Meanwhile, y'all can go ahead and start the holiday season without us. We'll catch up soon.

Posted by Ellen

The Moorish-style synagogue in central Sofia, Bulgaria, was built in 1909, when it served as the religious and cultural center for a Sephardic Jewish community of about 20,000. Today, the congregation numbers about 50. Bulgarian Jews were not executed by the Nazis, but almost all left for Israel after the postwar Communist takeover.

Posted by Ellen

Old houses in Prague, as seen through a screen set up around a construction site across the street. The construction in progress is actually restoration work, so that the street can recover its bygone character.

Posted by Ellen

 

The village of Stein-am-Rhein in Switzerland, as seen from its castle.

So far as I know, the Steins associated with this place have no connection whatsoever to the Steins in the family I married into. I like the looks of their town, though.

Posted by Ellen

You may recall that it was in the mountains here above the village of Maienfeld, Switzerland, that Heidi and Peter used to take the goats to pasture. The cows, which didn't really figure in the Johanna Spyri novel or in the Shirley Temple movie, presumably stayed down below in these pastures in the Rhine River Valley. Heidi and Peter climbed up the goat paths every morning, frolicked in the meadows, and lived happily ever after in the bright clean air, curing the invalid Clara, bringing the old hermit back to the church, and spreading joy and good cheer and etc.--even so, it was a nice book, a nice movie, and there's no denying it's a beautiful piece of the world.

 Today the people of Maienfeld mostly tend vineyards and host tourists looking for Heidi. An hour's walk up the valley is the spa town of Bad Ragasz, where tourists come looking for Roger Federer.

Posted by Ellen

This plate was spotted at the antiques market alongside the Navigli canal in Milan. I'd like for somebody to buy it and take it to Antiques Roadshow so we can find out if the asking price was ridiiculously low or obscenely high or just right. Till then, we just don't know, do we?

Posted by Ellen

This is Stockholm after midnight last June, during one of the white nights near the summer solstice. The tower in the foreground is part of the Old Town, which dates back to the thirteenth century. The cranes in the background  are building the part of town that will date back to the twenty-first century.

Posted by Ellen

If you send mail to this guy in New Gloucester, Maine, presumably it will be delivered here.

Posted by Ellen

Cranes fuss over the spires of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.