Geneva, Switzerland

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Geneva is surrounded on three sides by France and its Lake Geneva is shared with France.  The primary language is French but Geneva is a very international city with approximately 46% of the population being foreign born.  This is mostly due to the raft of international organizations that either make their home here or have a substantial presence, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the headquarters for the International Red Cross which was founded here in 1863.

Jet d'Eau

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Barcelona, Spain

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Once again, we began our visit to Barcelona with a walking tour.  We were told that Romans founded the city in 38 B.C.  In the first 200 years they built a walled city that defined the boundaries of Barcelona for the next 1600 years!  During this time they had to build higher since they could not build out, given that they could not extend the city beyond the walls.  Not until the mid-1850’s did they break out of their medieval walls.  People were dying very young from disease caused by the overcrowding.  Previously unknown engineer Ildefons Cerda created a plan for the expanded city that turned out to be extraordinarily visionary ultimately leading to him being credited as having defined “urbanization”.

Barcelona is part of Catalonia, an “autonomous community” in the northeast corner of Spain.  It is also referred to as a nationality for the people in this region who for centuries have been agitating for the creation of an independent state for Catalonia.  Before the 18th century it was a principality of the Crown of Aragon with its own language.  Today, Catalan, along with Spanish is the official language of this region.

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Other Paris Sights

It’s not difficult to find something around Paris (pics) that you want to photograph: monuments, fountains, sculptures, museums, food.

Place de la Concorde is one of Paris’ most impressive plazas, anchoring one end of the Champs-Élysées opposite the Arc de Triomphe.  In the 1790’s, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in Place de la Concorde along with some 1340 others over a two year period.  And then, of course, the Arc de Triomphe is another Paris icon.

Louvre - Four Captives

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Loire Valley Châteaux

If you had been a king or someone with noble standing in 15th century France, you would have wanted to have a nice home in the Loire Valley (pics).  This part of France was very fertile and yielded some of the best grapes in the world as well as a variety of vegetables.  The valley has a moderate climate, there was ample game for hunting and the Loire River was there to provide transportation for whatever could not be had locally.  The result is a concentration of lovely châteaux, the vast majority of which are still privately owned while, fortunately for us, others are open to the public to gawk at.

Château de Cheverny

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