Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is an amazing place. We don’t have time today for a full visit – one day, we’ll do that. It’ll be worth it. But for now, let’s just indulge a little local legend for your Thursday Travel Lagniappe.

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg
Hermitage Facade
It is enormous

Originally the Winter Palace of the Romanov family in Russia – from Peter the Great to Nicholas II – the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is an immense, sprawling museum. The building is actually several buildings but there is no way to tell when you leave one and enter another. It boasts over 1000 rooms and they’re all huge – like a couple of thousand square feet, each. The whole thing covers several city blocks.

And every inch of it is impossibly ornate.

Ornate staircaseSomeday, when we do our full tour, you’ll be able to see the scale and grandeur of the place. For now, the picture above should give you some idea of what I’m talking about. Continue reading “Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe”


A Quick Trip to Lille – Travel Lagniappe

A Quick Trip to Lille, France

A couple of years ago while on a trip to Ghent and The Hague with some dear friends, we decided to hop on the train and take a quick trip to Lille, France, right across the border with Belgium. Come along with us for a bit of travel lagniappe, won’t you?


Tower in LilleThe architecture in Lille has a Flemish flair and, like most small towns in France, charm to spare. In fairness, though, Lille is not all that small. It’s the fifth largest urban area in France with over a million people living in the vicinity. The city, itself, claims nearly a quarter of that number. You can find some of the statistics here.

Continue reading “A Quick Trip to Lille – Travel Lagniappe”

Cannon Beach Haystack Rock – Lagniappe for a Thursday

It’s summertime in Texas. And I’m dreaming of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

During Texas summers, the mercury challenges or shames the century mark every afternoon; even the mornings discourage more than a slow walk. Every year about this time, “Tell me again why we live here” becomes a common greeting.

Last year on a trip to Portland, Debra and I rented a car and drove over to Cannon Beach for a few days. It’s a glorious place, reminiscent of Big Sur but with an easier, more contemplative style. Haystack Rock, a massive chunk of stone, commands the shoreline at Canon Beach. In the picture below, it helped us welcome the sunrise during a barefoot stroll along the cool, damp sand. It’s a bit of lagniappe for your Thursday morning.

Haystack Rock at sunriseHere’s hoping that, wherever you are, your days are peaceful and pleasant. And if it seems too hot to breathe where you are? Well, just close your eyes and imagine that you’re some place else – like strolling past Haystack Rock at daybreak – where there’s a bit of a chill and the mist from the surf hangs in the morning glow.

Until next time –


A Stroll Through La Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires

It’s summer in Texas, so let’s head south – way south. Far enough south that summer becomes winter. We’ll trade the Texas heat for Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, sometimes called “the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere.” This is not by mistake. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the government of Argentina recruited many French architects and engineers to help transform the city.  It’s a lovely place – large, diverse, energetic, and cosmopolitan. Many areas do, indeed, recall Paris. Let’s take a stroll through one of them – La Recoleta Cemetery.

Black MausoluemNot Parisian

The comparison to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is understandable, particularly if you’re looking for similarities. Both are relatively large, boasting tombs of many famous people. Both are architecturally interesting for the designs of their mausoleums. And both are navigated by means of cobblestone avenues rather than simple pathways. But beyond these parallels, they are quite different from one another.

At over 100 acres, Lachaise is almost eight times the size of La Recoleta and far more open. The passages are wider, there is space between the crypts. And it’s, well, French. It looks French and feels French.

La Recoleta does not. It obviously is not Parisian; it’s Argentinian. And comparison isn’t necessary; it’s terrific all on its own. Continue reading “A Stroll Through La Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires”

Sunday Afternoon Arabesque Lagniappe – The Alhambra, Baby

The Alhambra in Grenada, Spain is one of the most photographed sites in the world. But will that stop me from posting another one? Absolutely not. So here is a shot of an archway and accompanying door from that wonderful palace and fortress. It’s your Sunday afternoon  arabesque lagniappe.

Alhambra ArchwayTo my Muslim friends, Eid Mubarak.

The beauty of the Alhambra – and the Alcazar in Seville, by the way – simply blew us away on our trip to southern Spain a few months ago. I plan on doing a few travel posts about that trip but, frankly, don’t know where to start. When I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.

For now, try to notice and be grateful for the beautiful things around you – those everyday, often overlooked gems. A flower in your garden. A child’s laughter. That twinkle in your loved one’s eye when you walk through the door. The aroma of dinner on the stove. The way a tile floor feels cool to bare feet on a summer day.

We’ve been busy at Hildring House and will be posting some updates very soon. Debra’s projects are unfolding beautifully and more updates on those are on the way, as well.

Thanks for reading and please keep doing so. After all, you’re the reason we do this!



Wednesday’s Lagniappe – Stockholm Alleyways

Stockholm is a lovely, bustling, vibrant city. The old town – Gamla stan – is situated on an island that offers winding narrow streets clad in smooth cobbles and iconic buildings, some dating from the 13th century. Sometimes you can wander these medieval Stockholm Alleyways – alone in the hush of early morning and imagine yourself in a different time. Here are a couple of pics of just such a time and place. They’re this Wednesday’s lagniappe.

Gamla stan passagewayStockholm AlleywayWherever your travels take you today – literally or figuratively – I wish you peace and success in all your endeavors. And remember: from here to the weekend is all downhill!

Please keep coming back – we love the company. If you haven’t signed up to receive updates by email, it’s easy and free. And we’ll never share your info. Promise.

Thanks for reading!