Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Glass spire of the Caldea Spa in Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra, dominates the city skyline

Click on title to view photo in large format. The glass spire of Caldea Spa dominates the skyline of Escaldes-Engordany, neighbor to Andorra’s capital city of Andorra la Vella. With more than 460,000 square feet of space, Caldea is said to be the largest spa in Europe. Completed in 1994, the 262-foot high glass building is also the tallest building in Andorra. Read More

Children romp in the fountain at Promenade du Paillon in Nice, France

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Promenade du Paillon is a broad piazza that separates the historic center of Nice from the new town. At its center, water spouts dance in the air, sometimes high, sometimes low. The fountain attracts families with children from early morning until late at night. Some kids try to block the geysers by covering them with their tiny hands. Other try to catch the dancing water or dance to its rhythm. At night, colored spotlights Read More

Sun sets over the Port Lympia in Nice, France

Click on title to view photo in large format. While most of the focus in Nice, France, is on the town’s beaches and the historic Old Town, the nearby Port Lympia is worth a stroll. Port Lympia was once a bustling commercial port. These days, one of the few commercial activities that occurs at the port is shipment of cement, an important export in the area. Beyond the cement plant, however, the port is a veritable showcase of luxurious Read More

Beau Rivage Beach in Nice, France, looking toward Opera Beach

Click on title to view photo in large format. Nice, France is perhaps best known for the string of beaches that line its beautiful crescent bay. Some are public and free, while others are private and require either an entrance fee or a chair rental fee. This photo is of public Beau Rivage Beach in Nice, looking toward the private Opera Beach. Read More

Municipal Police Station in Nice, France. Though Nice is one of the most famous destinations on the French Riviera, it's still a simple town

Click on title to view photo in large format. Though Nice is one of the most famous destinations on the French Riviera, it’s still a simple town. I found this charming scene of a bicycle leaning against the Municipal Police station in the historic Old Town. Just a few feet away, tourists from all over the world streamed down the stone-paved street. Just like the locals, they browsed for bargains in the Monday antiques market that occupies the main street every Monday. Read More

Mention the Pope and people immediately think of Rome. Or perhaps of Vatican City. But the Popes of Avignon, France? For me, at least, it was a surprise to learn that this city in Provence, France, was the seat of the Papacy for more than 70 years during the 14th century.

As with most political situations, the “great controversy of the anti-popes” was ignited by money and ego. By the end of the 13th century, the Crusades had seized an immense amount of wealth and property in the name of the church. With such resources and armies at their command, the Popes decided that the church should dictate secular as well as spiritual matters. Drunk with power, in November of 1302, Pope Boniface VIII issued a papal bull that decreed, “it is necessary to salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff.” He subsequently excommunicated the king of France and dismissed the entire clergy of France.

Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, was home to the Papal Court for more than 70 years

Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, was home to the Papal Court for more than 70 years

Boniface likely thought he could succeed in such a power play because the position of Holy Roman Emperor had been vacant since the death of Frederick II in 1250. However the King of France, Philip IV, was having none of it. In 1303, he sent a delegation to Rome, providing them with orders to bring Pope Boniface VIII to France, by force if necessary. The delegation arrested the 68-year old Pope in his home town of Anagni, Italy. Town residents freed him three days later, however the shock was too much for the elderly Pope. He died a few weeks later. Read More