Category Archives: architecture

Converted Churches find Inspired Uses

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Luminaries broadcast to bring you this very interesting trend:

Churches Converted for Creative Uses

I haven’t been to any churches lately for the purpose for which they were designed. Mainly because the churches of Portland are NEVER OPEN.

nw trinity church portland oregon

But my all-time favorite, due to geographic location, has to be Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness, Scotland.

leakeys bksp fb page cover

Leakey’s has got it all: bloody history as a witness to the aftermath of Culloden, a roaring fireplace in the middle of millions of fragile pages, and not to be outdone, the best millionaire shortbread I’d ever had, at the cozy, 2nd level cafe.

What if you’re tied down to the East Coast of North America however, but you’d like your own patch of stained-glass sunlight, filtering down to entrance you as you peruse works of art? Never fear. Enter Colouratura, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada:

colouratura art gallery nova scotia

(By the way, I discovered Colouratura on my 2012 road trip to Nova Scotia, which also resulted in a certain Dulci’s Legacy…;-)

But what if you still can’t avail yourself of this pleasure, since you live all the way Out West, perhaps near Portland, OR? A-ha! On a Craigslist run for an armchair one day, I  came across this beauty:

battleground wa coffeehouse and deli

I asked about a casual, local spot, and the folks with the chair directed me toward a bunch of chain restaurants. Then they bethought themselves of one other place that I might like, ‘if I went in for that sort of thing.’ Boy, do I ever!

Let me tell you, their deli sandwiches are delicious, and hearty. And it seems like they’ve got some serious latte art going on, judging by their Facebook page. It was hard to get everything in for an interior shot, but here’s my attempt.

interior battle grounds cafe WA

 

So what do you think- will you be haring off to experience on of these finds What’s the best converted use you’ve seen for a church?

Images via BoomerPDX, Leakey’s Bookshop, Colouratura Gallery, and Taste Life Twice

 

 

Ta for Taos

Mind opened by the very long drives between Tennessee and Oklahoma, and Oklahoma to New Mexico (that’s 6 states in 2 days!), I arrived in Taos.

A Black Bird With Snow Covered Red Hills, by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe lived the latter half of her life in New Mexico and painted its skies, clouds, skulls, and landscapes.

What do YOU know about Taos? I had some vague impressions of artists and writers, combined with images of the Southwest landscape that were stark and foreign. Something told me that it would be a good place, though.

I stayed at another AirBnB listing, the host of which really made the experience less about Taos and more about human connection. I enjoyed exploring the town at my leisure (which meant in fits and starts, as it was pretty cold, feathery snow still dusting the ground).

I found the Taos Pueblo closed for repairs (apparently a common thing), but the Plaza and many shops and galleries were open and showed the local style of historical pueblo architecture anyway. Kit Carson‘s home is here, a ridonkulously huge bridge is 10 miles west of here, and many homes-turned-museums pay tribute to the area’s pioneer past.

I got in after dark, but the next morning, after a spectacular sunrise, I stepped out to explore some small offshoots from the main drag, Route 64. This included a stop at The World Cup Cafe, which had scrumptious organic scones and delicious Mexican hot chocolate.

It was fascinating to stay in the cafe for some time, as I observed many local neighbors meet, greet, and even hold court. It’s a sunny spot, with bar seats only, and everybody really knows everybody.

I came from what I would call a small town, but this experience had me reconsidering the definition. What constitutes small town, what suburban, what metropolitan? It’s not just population or size of sprawl, it’s more of a feeling of how frequently you’re going to run into people you know.

In Taos, the answer seems to be all the time.

In San Luis Obispo, it was more like once every 3 outings.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Winter Sunset

I had thought that a small town meant ordinary, confining, repetitive. But here I was seeing eyes light up, jokes being howled over, life-passion projects being shared and discussed. It made me feel a little Grinchy.

Maybe the small town is worthy of reconsideration.

Especially in such a setting.

 

Images via Wikipedia and Wikipaintings

Sorrento to Sicily: A Different Kind of Coast

Mediterranean coastal waters of Calabria
I grew up in an area called the Central Coast, but traveling this leg of my recent trip to Italy showed me a coast with a very different personality. If my home coast in California was the quiet Woody Allen heroine, the Calabrian coast was a battle-scarred, blue-eyed Warrior PrincessWhat makes me think of a warrior princess? The colors are fierce, for one. Look at those blues!
Sorrento Bridge High Above the Trees
This bridge near Sorrento, though not ancient, reminded me of the Roman aqueducts (another warrior reference…) constructed to move water hundreds of miles- I guess for these builders it was a case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ From Sorrento to Sicily, Mediterranean waters

As I bumped southward from the Naples train station to the toe of Italy’s boot, I was treated to breathtaking views, those vivid colors, and a special quality of light that comes out really well in some of the snapshots.

Light Traversing Sicily
The coast displayed its vivid colors on the sea side, and its homely, timeworn hill-towns facing it on the other. I wondered as I passed in the train what people did there for a living, and saw evidence of some agriculture, some tourism. It definitely felt very low-energy, content. Nothing like a newcomer, intent on a goal and working feverishly to attain it. No, the land I passed showed a quiet, sleepy face. Let sleeping dogs lie?

But then I arrived at one of my transfer points, Villa San Giovanni PortVilla San Giovanni, where I would have to hop off the train, find the port, search out the ferry or hydrofoil ticket offices, and decide how to get across to Sicily. For someone who is used to researching schedules, routes, and costs online, it was an exercise in letting go to have to uncover new information in real time and make a decision on the spot, but I managed not to burst into flames.

Before too long I was pulling out of the port in the hydrofoil, trying to take a picture through the I’m-sure-they’re-impossible-to-clean windows of this white stone monument above. No idea what it is. I’m taking the view that it’s to look after the souls who have perished in the maws of Scylla or Charybdis, purported to have been real-life  obstacles near here for ancient sailors.
Of course, once I got off the hydrofoil on the Sicily side, it was another round of: find the bus station, compare bus companies that go where you want on timing and pricing, decide, and jump on! I had time to dash into a quick cafeteria-style Messina mom-and-pop for some bread and a sugary treat, but that was it- and away we went!
 Windy Sicily Road
We scaled heights. (See that speck of asphalt down there? Yeah, that’s the road we were just on- yowza!)
The bus ride took between 2 and 3 hours, and it was more distant from the shore than the train had been, so I couldn’t see the water past the other side of the highway, the cypress screen, and some buildings, but the journey was painless enough, until we approached my destination- Taormina– and started CLIMBING. Then it became positively edge-of-your-seat. Apologies at this glimpse I offer: it was hard to get photos because you never knew what would be around another corner, and we were twisting up and up and up enough for us to be in a Dr. Suess tree by the end.
At long last, we emptied into Taormina’s town centre. I beheld this place, a cute little shop selling pizza and other dainties made with savory bread and tomatoes. It was a hard sell.

Sooooooooo satisfying… and I’m glad I got something to eat right away, since what happened next put my devil-may-care attitude about planning to the test! Stay tuned for that, in my next installment on Sicily.

And side note, if and when I try making these in my kitchen, I will be going straight to the authority on Sicilian food for a recipe. Happy eating!

What is your association with “coasts”? Do you prefer quiet or warrior-princess ‘bold’ in your landscape retreats? Let us know what floats your boat in the comments!