Wednesday, January 31, 2024



We drove the quick 45 minutes to arrive at one of the most famous works of architecture in the United States by America's greatest architect - TALIESEN WEST, located just outside Scottsdale. This residential structure that also included Wright's studio had been on my Bucket List since I was a student in architecture school.  In 1991 The American Institute of Architects recognized Frank Lloyd Wright as the greatest American Architect of all time.

This building has a unique history involving Frank Lloyd Wright and many students that apprenticed under Wright. According to the Frank Lloyd Wright FoundationIn the initial winters Wright and his students lived in tents while they built the first structures, mainly by hand using as much local material as possible (rocks, stone and sand). The design of the buildings complemented the natural Sonoran Desert landscape of the site.

Taliesin and Taliesin West are two homes, as well as architectural schools, of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally built in 1911, Taliesin, located near Spring Green, Wisconsin was rebuilt after fires in 1914 and 1925. Taliesin West, near Scottsdale, Arizona, was begun in 1937 as a winter home for Wright and his students. Wright was of Welsh descent and named his homes after the Welsh bard Taliesin. Both structures were continually renovated and added to until Wright’s death in 1959, after which they continued to be occupied by members of the Wright Foundation. In 1985, in accordance with the will of Wright’s third wife, his remains were exhumed from their resting place in Spring Green and moved to Taliesin West. 

Trying to describe Taliesen West in words is almost impossible. It's design of interior and exterior forms and spaces is so unique and diverse that only photos can tell the story. And seeing this masterwork of architectural design up close and personal is really the only way to appreciate the beauty, design and art encompassed in this extraordinary building.

A personal story I can share made our daytrip to this amazing set of structures one that I will never forget. As we sat on the front row of the Cabaret Auditorium listening to the docent describe the incredible space, which is partially below grade, where music was performed almost daily, he asked if anyone would like to play the piano.  I raised my hand, and he said go ahead sir. I sat down and played, on the master architect's piano, one of my favorite songs I learned when I was much younger - SUMMERTIME. The joy of playing for a small group of visitors was, indeed, a pleasure beyond anything I could have imagined. Of course, they applauded when I finished. LOL!

In addition to the residence-studio, there are many small living structures built by students over the years on the 500-acre site that Wright bought for $3.50 an acre around 1937.  That was indeed the good ole days! The tour of this extraordinary work of desert architecture belongs on every Vagabond's Bucket List.

Taliesen West Studio Buildings & Spaces

Student Designed & Built Shelters

Cabaret Theatre & Piano

If you want to view more photos just click - TALIESIN WEST PHOTOS . Who knows - it might even get you to plan a trip to see this completely unique place.

Next week, I will bring the final leg of our trip to Arizona. Tucson and one of the coolest resorts you could ever sleep in surrounded by the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape of the Southwest.

Go West Vagabonds old & young!



“The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give reason, rhyme, and meaning to life.”

Frank Lloyd Wright - 1957

Wednesday, January 24, 2024



Several years ago, we took a relatively short trip to the state of Arizona, and it was relaxing and even stressful at times. Of course, all travel is a perfect blend of relaxation and stress. When you see or experience something that affects your heart and your head it improves your perception of life. Of course, if you travel at all, you know that airports, delayed flights or less than helpful service people can create stress when you travel.

A Trip to the Great Southwest

We landed in Phoenix just after lunch, rented a car and headed to the resort that I had reserved online for three nights. However, when we arrived at the resort, the person at the front desk could not find our reservation. Did I say something about stress? My favorite travel companion, the smartest female on the planet, Susie, looked at my Travel Notebook I had opened on the counter and said - we don't have a reservation here, we have a reservation at a condo nearby. The nice lady at the front desk gave us simple directions, we left, found the condo and it was perfect. So, we relaxed on the balcony and enjoyed a couple of glasses of vino to enjoy the view for the rest of the afternoon. 

We decided to enjoy an early dinner at the famous Biltmore Hotel's premier restaurant McArthur's. This restaurant and hotel have a unique history involving America's greatest architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel and the restaurant were designed in the early 1920's by a Wright apprentice Albert Chase McArthur. However, Wright was heavily involved as a consultant for the building and the details of construction. I must confess, we were on a fairly tight budget back then, so we didn't stay at this astounding hotel. It is currently a Waldorf Astoria Resort with prices that exceed any budget that is not extravagant. Prices go from $718 for a resort room with balcony to $2,134 for a Sky Stone Suite with king-size bed. Any self-respecting Nomad simply can't pay those prices unless you are just loaded. 

After a good night's sleep, we jumped in the car and made a nice day trip north to a unique
experimental community named Arcosonti started in the1970's. This interesting experience in eccentric design remains active today. Depending on whose opinion you accept, Arcosonti is an urban laboratory for sustainable living, or a crazy idea founded by a crazy architect! The architect, Paolo Soleri, was born in Italy, studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and decided his talents would be better used to create this unique place. People live there in alternative dwellings that adhere to the concept of joining architecture and eco-friendly design to create places that honor both. Because I am an architect and my travel mate loves to see unique design, we enjoyed an entire day viewing this utterly compelling and exceptional idea expressed in stone in the desert. There are also houses that can be rented through AIRBNB or VRBO. And if you really want to step into a place of dreams to see what alternative really means, you can rent a pretty cool room at The Green House Guest Rooms. The photo is an exterior shot of this place to spend the night.

In addition to some of the most unique houses you will ever see, Arcosonti is also known for making and selling beautiful Wind Bells. We still have one hanging in our house that we purchased. If you want a nice lunch or snack, check out The Cafe' at Arcosonti open Thursday to Sunday. There are many restaurants just a few minutes outside Arcosonti as well. After a complete daytrip to this fascinating community with some of the most truly "organic" architecture spread over a very rocky landscape, we headed back to Phoenix.

Next week I will post Part 2 of our Arizona Trip to experience one of the greatest works of Frank Lloyd Wright - Taliesin West, the winter home and studio designed by Wright built in 1937. 

In the meantime, I hope all Vagabonds are enjoying the New Year. Although, I must say, I loathe cold weather. But at least I live in North Florida, not Kansas.

Get it goin' Vagabonds. Thanks!



Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Today, I am putting on my Rick Steve's how to get there, what to do when you get there and what to ask when you get there hat. Although, I do find Steves to be somewhat annoying and a terrible dresser, his advice on the practical do's and don'ts when Vagabonds travel is usually worth adhering to - except of course his hotel recommendations. I mean if you are going to vacay the right way, you should not stay in a place that reminds you of your grandmother's bedroom. Old, knitted quilts belong in a cedar chest, not a hotel room. However, if you want to take in some advice from an experienced traveler and writer, just click the link above for Steve's website. In the meantime, if you are planning a trip abroad in 2024, you can ponder the following list of my somewhat random thoughts on the practical things to consider when traveling anywhere. You can apply this list to any country, particularly Europe.
MONEY - It is virtually impossible to escape the rapacious greed of banks, credit cards and other money changers when traveling anywhere in the Eurozone. But here are a few tips to save some bucks.
DO NOT use a currency exchange service at an airport or train station - High Fees.

DO NOT use Travelers Checks. Nobody takes them anymore.

DO use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. Many do not, but you need to check to be sure.

Do use a Point Card, if you travel a lot. Our preference is the AMERICAN EXPRESS DELTA SKYMILES Card. We haven't bought a plane ticket in forever using Delta SkyMiles Points earned when we purchase anything. It's easy to become a member - just click the link in this paragraph! 

DO purchase Euros online. Usually, the charges and exchange rates are reasonable. You don't really need a lot of cash in Europe - almost everywhere you go accepts credit cards. Many countries are actually becoming completely cashless. There are several online services that will mail you Euros overnight for no charge. Just be sure and check exchange rates to get the most for your money.

DO call your bank BEFORE you leave to verify their ATM charges.

DO get as much money from an ATM as you can and save on Usage Fees.

DO call your bank when you return to demand that they remove the usurious extra fees they may charge.

If your Vagabond Spirit wants to go to a place that has amazing people, insanely great food, ancient and modern things to see and do, head and heart altering culture, and great hotels, villas and AIRBNBs for extremely low prices then Italy is the place to go. We are in the process of planning a return trip to this genuinely great ancient, yet modern country. The memories of places we went, things we saw, the food we ate and some of the most design conscience places we laid our heads after a day of sightseeing in a beautiful town, a 1,000-year-old building, a museum of ancient and modern works of art or just sitting on a romantic terrace enjoying a glass of Italian Pino Grigio with views of vineyards, mountains, lakes, rivers and seashores as far as you can see. If you'll simply enter ITALY in the Go Ahead and Ask box on any post in THE NOMAD ARCHITECT you can read some of my thoughts about our experiences in this incredible country. 

Enjoy a brief visually inspiring and narrated tour of various places to see in this magical country.

So - A piu' tardi -  godere - vai e basta - romanticamente a l'Italia!!! 
See you later - enjoy - just go -romantically to Italy!


The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo.” – Mark Twain


Wednesday, January 10, 2024


2023 is gone. Weird year. No comment! Here we are - 2024 - It's time for all Vagabonds to get off their couches or out of their recliners and just GO! Walk, fly, take a train, board a boat or drive a car to a place on your Bucket List or a place familiar that you have missed. I have the most profound and romantic memories the first time we went to Italy many years ago. I am an American who loves this great country. However, going to another country and experiencing the culture, the food, the people and all that a country has to offer can dramatically alter your perception of life. 

To give all Vagabonds some perspective on travel, here is the popular comic Jim Gaffigan on his vacation, with his five kids, to Disney. 

I'm sure most Vagabonds can relate! I remember taking our kids to Disney a long time ago. We stood in many lines to see and experience many different Disney offerings, including Dumbo. My favorite was riding, with my daughter, through It's A Small World several times on one trip. The best part was that the ride was very cold once inside. Perfect for relief from the hot Florida summer sun.

Even though I am not a Travel Guru, I do have a lot of experience finding places to lay your weary head after a long day of flying, driving or riding to get to the place that will illuminate your life. Since I'm an architect, great travel starts with the perfect place to relax, have a nice glass of vino and go beddy bye. Great design, great comfort and great location are always on my list when finding places to lodge while traveling. Here are some links to some of the best online services to find great places.

i-escape - IMHO - This is the number one site to find great hotels with all the attributes I've mentioned so far. You can also find great places with reasonable prices.

ChicRetreats - Another great online site for cool, small boutique hotels at great prices, particularly in Europe.

Sawday's - Cool little hotels everywhere for decent prices.

Unusualhotelsoftheworld - This online hotel search service feature 345 unique hotels all over for very low prices to very high. It's worth a look. For instance, they have a tree house in Basque country of Spain for $130 per night. 

FURTHER AFIELD - More cool places on the cheap, primarily in Europe.

RELAISCHATEAUX - Great places for a little bit more cost.

KAYAK - One of the largest hotel search services online with hotels from high to low in over thirty countries.

AIRBNB - Worldwide places, many offering great design and comfort at low prices. We have stayed in many AIRBNBs in the US and Europe. 

SMALL LUXURY HOTELS - A little higher priced but you can find some outstanding small hotels.

EXPEDIA - One of the largest collections of hotels from simple & cheap to luxurious & expensive all over the world.

Here are some suggestions for planning your Bucket List Dream Trip.

1. Commit time and effort to planning your itinerary, where you will go and where you will stay.

2. Take time to research all the places you are going to vacation in. 

3. Read every review you can find on any hotel, small residence or other accommodation you plan to stay in.

4. To keep your stress levels under control and enjoy your vacation I highly recommend a minimum of three nights at each place you stay.

5. The best times to travel are in early Spring or early Fall. Temperatures are comfortable for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming or just enjoying a nice glass of Pinot Noir while enjoying a beautiful view from the terrace with the one you love.

6. IMHO - If you have never been, I highly recommend Italy, France and Spain. The people, the food, the places, and the cultures are transformational. Generally, the prices for amazing hotels tend to be much less in Europe than in the states. Of course, the good ole' USA from Napa to the Southwest to New Orleans to New York to Chicago always offers pleasure for the Vagabond Traveler. 

One last thought - Watch this short advice video by a well-known travel writer - Rick Steves. He has written many books on travel and has been on television since 2000 giving advice on how to travel like a Local.

So, the bottom line - Get busy - Research, plan and GO! 

Happy New Year as you travel!