Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pablo's Railroad in Argentina

Today, in our virtual tour of the world, we visit the Ferrocarril Piedra Baya. This grand scale railroad is owned by our friend Pablo Jäckel (who is turning the engine on the turn table) and makes its home the geographical center of Argentina at the foothills of the Comechingones Sierra. Pablo originally told the story of his railroad in the pages of the Grand Scales Quarterly magazine.

Pablo tells us how his railroad came about: The sadness of having to dismantle a large HO model railroad, gave way to “domestic” approval to try something bigger on our property —both as hobby and to carry passengers in the not so distant future (for we run a small tourist business). We llived 7 miles from the nearest town (Merle - pop. 5,000), which could be reached only by an unpaved country road. All the materials needed to build a RR had to come from other cities, like Buenos Aires, some 500 miles away. . .
If you would like to read Pablo's complete article, click here.

Sketch based on a photo by Pablo

Friday, January 16, 2009

On a beach in Antigua

After walking through the war torn remnants of Angola in my virtual travels, I needed a vacation! So I virtually hopped on a plane and flew to Antigua in the Caribbean. The country is actually known as Antigua and Barbuda but I only “visited” Antigua on this journey. I needed some serious beach time. I don’t remember the name of the beach but the water was such a gorgeous blue! And the palm trees were gorgeous, some even leaning out over the water.

Fortunately for me, most of the people speak English here. Many also speak a dialect that can be made up of English, various African languages and even some European languages. While English is more formal, the dialect is more colorful. For instance, if you hear someone say, “Wah eye no see heart no grieve”, it means, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”.

The people can be very friendly and relaxed. And they use a phrase here that I learned in Jamaica many years ago: Soon Come. Life will take care of itself. Time is viewed casually. And people are more important then rigid schedules. Not a bad idea really.

Sketch above was done with pencil, watercolor pencils, and Pitt artist pen in my travel sketchbook. If I can get myself away from this beach I will head to another country . . . or just stay here awhile soaking up the sun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Get me a ticket for an aeroplane . . .

Thought I better get my ticket out for my next journey! You can create your own ticket (for your amusement) at Ticket-O-Matic. Happy travels!


Visiting Angola has been more difficult। The people are beautiful but the poverty and history of war are harder to cope with as a traveler. In researching Angola, I am reminded constantly of the many years of war and the repercussions of it. Many of us remember the images of those who have suffered terrible wounds as a result of the hidden land minds left in the country and of Princess Diana visiting the victims. I didn’t want to dwell on the sad facts though; I wanted a picture that showed people. Their lives, even today, are not easy. Here, I pictured an Angolan woman taking water home to her family.

Angola is situated in the southwest part of Africa, bounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo on the north, Namibia on the south, Zambia on the east, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. It occupies a land area of 481,350 square miles, roughly the size of France, Italy, and Germany combined. It is nearly 14 times as large as Portugal, which began to colonize Angola in the 16th century.

Customs of Angola

  • The most common greeting is the handshake.
  • Close friends may embrace, kiss, or offer a friendly backslap.
  • As in most African countries, greetings should never be rushed.
  • It is important to take time to inquire about the person’s family and other matters of general interest during the greeting process.
  • Always greet elders first. It is also customary to bow when introduced to someone who is obviously older or has a more senior position.
  • In rural areas, women do not look the other person in the eye, although this practice is less pronounced with younger Angolans and in Luanda।

Pencil, Watercolor pencil and ink in my travel sketchbook.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


While visiting Andorra during my virtual tour, I came across this lovely bridge. Andorra, which is located between Spain and France, is a rugged land with deep valleys and towering mountains. Andorra was isolated for many years but is well-known now for its sports, including snow skiing, mountain hiking, and mountain biking. It is also known for its chapels, Romanesque churches, bridges

Tourism plays an important part in Andorra's economy but many people only visit on day trips from Spain and France. Apparently many take advantage of the duty-free shopping available here.

The country is very beautiful and there is much to see, both in nature and in history. They have several museums that look to be of interest, including the National Automobile Museum, the Miniature Museum, the Romanic Andorra Historical Center, the Farga Rossell Iron Interpretation Center, and the Sant Antoni De La Grella Bridge, which I sketched above.
I wanted to experiment with this sketch and used more color then the scene called for. It was sketched with pencil and watercolor pencils in my travel sketchbook.
If you would like to learn more about Andorra, MSN Encarta has an interesting article available.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let's Rock the Casbah

Today we visit Algiers’ Casbah in Algeria!

Algeria is located in North Africa and is largest country in the Mediterranean Sea, the second largest on the African continent and the 11th largest country (by land size) in the world. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Morocco. About 90 percent of its population lives in the Northern coastal region. Central and southern Algeria form part of the vast Sahara dessert.

Some interesting points about Algeria and her people:

They commonly use hand gestures during or in place of conversations. Two clasped hands is a greeting at a distance. If they press a flat right hand to their heart, it can mean appreciation. Pointing at others or at things is disrespectful. And, as might be expected, they tend to avoid using the left hand for gesturing. And they are very careful not to point the bottom of their feet at others or place their feet on furniture.

Family is very important to Algerians. Many families may have three or more generations living under the same roof. Many people there tend to prefer large concrete homes with high walls that surround their vegetable gardens though a few people do live in apartments in urban areas.

The Algerian diet is influenced by French cooking and tends to feature rich sauces. Couscous is very popular, as is lamb, chicken and vegetables. Tajine is a meat and vegetable stew that is actually named for the type of pot that it is cooked in.

The sketch above is based on a photo (Algiers, Casbah) by Marina Veyze and was used with permission. Thank you Marina. It was sketched with pencil, Derwent Watercolor pencils, and a brown Pitt pen in my sketchbook.

For more information on the song “Rock the Casbah” click here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Albania, Part II

I enjoyed the photos of Albania so much that I thought I would do another sketch before moving on to the next country. After all, travel should be relaxing, allowing you time to explore and learn about each place you visit, before feeling rushed to move on. So our next stop in Albania is the National Museum.

The National museum GJ. K. Scanderbeg was inaugurated in 1982. It is built in the Kruja castle on the left side of its entrance. It was built in Kruja because it was the center of the Albanian epopee in the fifteenth century during the war with the Ottoman empire. It's name is known all over Europe. Three sieges failed in 1450, 1466 and 1467 but the Ottomans were able to take the castle in 1478. The building serves as a memorial of sorts. To learn more about the museum, visit

This is the original sketch, done with pencil in my handy sketchbook. I decided to add color to it, which can be seen in the larger image above. Color was added with Derwent Watercolor Pencils. I decided that I liked the effect so didn't add water to the pencils.

This sketch is based on a photo by
Besnik Saliu and is used with permission. Thank you Bednik!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

World Travel - Albania

Hello again!! My, much time has certainly flown by since my last post. So sorry for the delay! But I am back! And I have a new project for this year. Since my travel budget is greatly limited this year, I thought it would be fun to do another type of world tour! Join me as we travel to various countries and sketch sites along the way! It will be great fun to learn about the world and do a little sight seeing from the comfort of our chairs. Today we visit Albania. Why? Well, because it begins with A . . . there are so many wonderful countries to visit, I thought it would be easiest to start with A.

Our sketch takes us to Apollonia. The Albania Tourism website tells us: "The famous Roman orator Cicero, astonished by the beauty of Apollonia named it in his Philippics, magna urbs et gravis - a great and important city. Established in the 7th century B.C., by Greek settlers from Corinth and Corcyra, the ancient city is located 11 km to the west of the modern city of Fier.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that Apollonia achieved its zenith in the 4th - 3rd centuries B.C. In the first century B.C., Octavian Augustus studied philosophy there until he heard news of Caesar's murder in the Senate and went on to become the next Roman emperor.

The city had a 4 km long surrounding wall encircling an area of 137 hectares. It has been estimated that during the developed stages of the city, 60000 inhabitants lived inside its imposing walls."

In the heart of the Mediterranean, on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania is fast becoming one of the world's most interesting getaways. Still relatively unspoiled by globalization, tourists will notice an inspiring mixture of civilizations and cultures - making this European country truly unique.

Nestled in between Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and across the Adriatic from Italy, Albania boasts blue and turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, snow peaked mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. As well as stunning nature, Albanians themselves are famous for their hospitality, and tourists are welcomed with heart-warming generosity.

Birthplace of both Mother Theresa and the great 15th Century hero Skanderbeg, Albania today offers not only beach and mountain holidays, but also a vibrant city life, a relaxing outdoor cafe culture and you will see that it's quickly evolving in a myriad of directions.


Join me again soon. Our next country may be Andorra. Or somewhere else. Or maybe more of Albania. It seems to be a fascinating country!