Paths and Palaces of Sintra

About telve miles west of Lisbon lies Sintra, a town which has been home to the most affluent of Portuguese society for centuries. Nestled in a small mountain range named for the town, its elevation and accompanying milder temperatures had made it an ideal summer destination for kings and nobility looking to escape the sweltering … Continue reading Paths and Palaces of Sintra

Alfama District, Lisbon

The Alfama is the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon, surrounding the medieval Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George’s castle. Originally it comprised the entirety of the city. Some areas directly adjacent to the castle were the most coveted by Portuguese nobility, a home there keeping its residents close to the seat of power, quite literally. … Continue reading Alfama District, Lisbon

Saint Sialia Church

A year and a half ago, on a previous visit to Philadelphia, we tried and failed to get into this church. Our consolation prize would be the rectory, in which fire extinguisher hanky-panky would leave one of our party down and out for the night, a victim of suggestive pantomime gone terribly wrong. (She was … Continue reading Saint Sialia Church

Trolley Graveyard

In a ravine in the woods of rural Pennsylvania sits an impressive collection of decaying trolleys and railcars. It is on private property, owned by a man who set out to restore and possibly resell them. Unfortunately, once word of these cars leaked out, it was only a matter of time before they inevitably were … Continue reading Trolley Graveyard

Vandalia State Hospital

The largest psychiatric hospital in the world once operated in a small, nondescript southern town. From its founding in the early nineteenth century, it steadily grew as the decades passed and as the treatments it offered evolved from the primitive to the merely misguided. Ultimately, the idea of keeping the mentally ill locked away en … Continue reading Vandalia State Hospital

Botany Bay

One of the fun things about traveling is discovering how different a place may look in person. This may seem obvious, but with the technology each of us have at our fingertips, we can really familiarize ourselves with a foreign city just using Google images or streetview. Some years back, I used streetview to virtually … Continue reading Botany Bay

A School in the Hills

A prominent hill in a small rural town is the site of a former military academy turned private boarding school. As it is surrounded by a quiet subdivision, we decided to get there before sunrise. In the dishwater gray predawn light, we trudged along a sleeping lane until we reached a cul-de-sac, then pushed through … Continue reading A School in the Hills