Sunday Stills: Landscapes from The Great Barrier Reef to Machu Picchu.

Ed’s Sunday Stills Challenge this week, is ‘Landscapes’, which is a pretty all-encompassing subject. It can be anything from mountains and hills, to rivers, lakes and oceans, as well as indigenous vegetation, and even human elements, such as buildings and structures which help define the self-image of a region, and make it unique.

My first pic was taken from the Kuranda Skyway, overlooking the lush, tropical, World Heritage-listed rainforest in Queensland Australia.

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Here is a view from ‘Cook’s Look’, the highest peak on Lizard Island, a national park on the Great Barrier Reef. Captain Cook named the island when he visited it in 1770  and remarked, “The only land animals we saw here were Lizards, and these seemed to be pretty plenty.” It is said that he climbed the peak to help him chart a course out to sea through the maze of reefs which confronted him.

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Here is the stunning landscape that we saw whilst cruising past Hinchinbrook Island, one of the world’s largest island national parks. With its myriad of natural vegetation such as lush rainforest, rugged mountains and mangrove swamps, it’s considered to be the jewel of Queensland’s national parks.

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Hopping across to Bali, the most famous of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, we see the beautiful rolling landscape of the lush green rice terraces. Balinese rice cultivators are famed all over the world for their efficient use of irrigation water, and the rich volcanic soil also contributes to consistently high yields of their crops.

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One of the most truly awe-inspiring landscapes I’ve ever seen, is Machu Picchu, which you may have noticed, I have used as my blog background.

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This 15th century Inca site is situated almost 8,000 feet above sea level, and was built on a mountain ridge overlooking Sacred Valley, some 50 miles northwest of Cusco in Peru.

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Well, that’s all the landscapes I have time for today, as I must now go and pack for our trip to see our family in New Jersey. We leave tomorrow morning, and get back late on Tuesday.  It’s Sienna’s 8th birthday party on Sunday, so all very exciting. I may not be around much, but you can be sure I’ll have some pics for you when I get back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my landscapes for Ed’s Challenge. To see more entries, and perhaps join in, just click here.

 

 

 

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Pathways

Ailsa’s theme is ‘Pathways’, and I had fun seeking out a few photos of paths I have seen on my travels.

Here in the North West Province of South Africa we have ‘The Palace of the Lost City’, where the African theme is carried through every detail of the design and architecture. These life-size elephants line the pathway up to the entrance to the Lost City. Each of the elephants standing on the bridge has a powerful loudspeaker inside, so you can listen to the realistic surround sound of the jungle. Every hour, a special hydraulic system starts to shake the bridge like in an earthquake, and a concealed dry ice system shrouds the bridge with white mist. The sound system then plays a powerful rumbling sound, making you feel like you are in the Indiana Jones movie when the huge boulder started rolling towards him.

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Here are pathways leading up to Machu Picchu in the Cusco region of Peru. This 15th century Inca site is almost 8,000 feet above sea level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest.

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Here is a pathway up to what looked like a shrine built into the rock, on our travels through Ecuador.

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On the road from Cuenca to Quito, we stopped off to visit some mud huts near an active volcano.  Such a pretty little pathway led up to them, but I couldn’t stay inside for very long, as there was an open fire, and the hut was full of smoke.

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Here’s a rather interesting pathway in Montana.  This rock formation is called“Devil’s Slide,” and according to the brass plaque there, that red pathway  is where the long-horned sheep have been coming down for centuries to drink at the river. I would have loved to see them come slipping and sliding down that rock face, but there weren’t any thirsty sheep that day.

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Here are a couple of pathways on the idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, in Thailand, the film location for the movie ‘The Beach’.

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I seem to remember that this well trodden pathway led to the restrooms. :)

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In Bali, there are many pathways along the green rice terraces.

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Here’s me heading down the path at our resort in Nusa Dua on the south-east coast of Bali, to spend some relaxing time at the pool.

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There’s a rather steep path down to the beach at Fontelina on the Isle of Capri. This magical beach rests at the foot of the legendary Faraglioni, and is where the Roman emperors residing on Capri, once came to bathe. The faint-hearted don’t have to take this route, as it can also be reached by shuttle boat from Marina Piccola.

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Rather more easily accessible for me, is this pathway onto our beach, just down the driveway, but we have wet weather today, so I’ll take a rain check.

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My favourite pathway photo ever, was sent to me by my son when he was on vacation in Bermuda. It made me want to get on the next plane.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed dallying with me along the paths from my travels. To see more bloggers’ interpretations of Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

A Word a Week Challenge: Old

This week, Sue’s challenge is ‘Old’, and she has some great photos for the theme. This started me thinking about some of the really old places I’ve visited, and things I’ve seen. Of course, as you may have noticed, my background photo is of Machu Picchu, the last stronghold of the Incas. Here is another view of this magnificent wonder of the world.

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This ancient religious site, dates back to the 15th century, and the stonework is a great example of the use of natural raw materials, which were used to provide outstanding architecture, totally appropriate to the surrounding environment. One gets such a sense of awe whilst wandering around this indescribably beautiful place.

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An even older structure, is the Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world. The construction of the wall started over 2,000 years ago, and the entire wall with all its branches has been found to measure 21,196 km.

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Another World Heritage site, is the Maya pyramid temple of Kukuikan, also know as El Castillo. This step pyramid found at Chichen Itza, dates back to 750AD and demonstrates the accuracy and importance of Maya astronomy. It has 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, and the top platform makes the 365th.

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Another man-made construction of a quite different kind, is the Harrods building in Knightsbridge London. Of course it’s not quite as old as the previous two tourist attractions, only dating back to the mid 19th century, but it’s one of the world’s most famous stores. It covers a 5 acre site, and there are 90,000 sq.metres of selling space, spread over seven floors. This iconic landmark has over fifteen million visitors a year, and lives up to its motto, which is ” Omnia Omnibus Ubique.” (All Things for All People, Everywhere.)

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Now if you want something really old, you could go to the American Museum of Natural History, and there you will see the massive jaw of a Megalodon, the biggest prehistoric shark that ever terrorised the seas. It became extinct 1,5 million years ago, although there have been reported sightings even as recently as 1960. However, fishermen have been known to exaggerate on occasion, so maybe we shouldn’t be too worried. :)

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Dinosaurs first appeared 230 million years ago and have been extinct for about 66 million years, so I guess that their remains would definitely qualify as old.

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One of my dearest friends told me that her 5½-year-old granddaughter asked her, “How old is Great Grandpa?” and when she replied, “He’ll be 94 this year,” Taryn digested this news for a few seconds, and then said, “Gee, that’s super old. Isn’t that when dinosaurs were on the earth?” Well hubby’s beautiful mom is going to be a hundred years old this August, and she has never once mentioned seeing dinosaurs when she was a child. :) Just in case you’re wondering; yes that is all her own hair. :)

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my old post, and had a few smiles too. You can see Sue’s wonderful old pics, if you click here.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Roads

Cee’s roads challenge this week, had me searching through a few of my albums for something different. I’ve travelled many roads, in many countries, and I do try not to snooze, just in case I miss something.

This long, narrow and very winding road up to Machu Picchu really kept my heart in my mouth. Not a chance I was going to fall asleep on that coach, as I had to keep breathing in every time I saw another vehicle coming towards us down the hill.

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This is the road through the town at the bottom of the hill, also very narrow.

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A dusty, stony road through Bolivia, made for quite a bumpy ride.

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Another sand road through a Bolivian town. Tarmac would be a real luxury.

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Back to the USA, and a drive down the highway in Montana under clear blue May skies, was far less stressful. We could see Yellowstone in the distance.

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As we travelled through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming the weather became less Spring-like, and the road was quite slippery.

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Back to civilisation, and Times Square is much more populated of course. You can hardly see the road for cars and people. :)

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Here’s the Lincoln Tunnel, as we sped our way out of the city. No stopping allowed of course. :)

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Hong Kong roads are also very busy, and quite hair-raising to cross.

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In Xian, the roads were extremely congested, even though there weren’t many if any cars around.

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Of course what ever road you may be travelling on, it’s always nice to ride in style, so from the ridiculous to the sublime. I was most impressed when our New York taxi arrived. I was expecting one of those yellow cabs.

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To see more interpretations of Cee’s theme, just click here.

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Gallery

WordPress challenge: Green

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  Lao Tzu                                                                                                Click on any image to get slide show. To see more entries for this green challenge, just click here.

Wonderful Machu Picchu for Jake’s theme

Jake’s Sunday Post challenge this week, is ‘Wonderful’, and he has shown us some of his own wonderful images.

I asked myself, “What is the most wonderful place I’ve ever visited?” and Machu Picchu immediately sprang to mind. I have it as my blog background, but just in case you never noticed, here it is again.

I’d heard and read about it, but nothing could have prepared me for actually seeing this most sacred place of the Incas, in real life. It has such a peace and quiet about it, that you just want to stand and breath it in, and an aura of mystique which I’ve never felt before, even when I visited the pyramids of Egypt.

I don’t think it’s possible to take a mediocre photo of this most photogenic of places,

even when hiding from the heat of the midday sun, under one of the thatched shelters there.

For more details and pics of my most wonderful trip ever, you can click here.

To see other bloggers’ interpretations of the theme, visit Jake’s wonderful Sunday post.

My 7 Super Shots.

My blog friend, Gilly over at Lucid Gypsy chose me for the http://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/7-super-shots/  I’m supposed to choose seven out of the many thousands of photos lurking on my computer.

The first is to be one that “took my breath away,” so I’ve chosen this one taken over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, when I did my first and only helicopter ride. I was lucky to be seated in the front, next to the pilot, and took several shots. This is the one that came out the best, and the view from up there did literally “take my breath away.”

The next is to be the one that “makes me think.” Shamu the magnificent Orca at Sea World in San Diego, made me think about how these creatures are really missing out on their freedom to swim the vast oceans, by being confined in such a limited space for our enjoyment and entertainment.

The third photo taken on Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, is one that makes me dream. What about you?

“A shot that makes me smile,” has to be this one of Dolly the Bottlenose dolphin, also taken at Sea World. She sure does look happy. ;)

“A photo that tells a story,” is quite a difficult one, but I think this one fits the bill. Here’s my granddaughter at her school prize giving, with her awards for academic excellency; a story of  hard work and dedication to her studies.

“A photo that makes my mouth water,” will of course have to be food orientated, so I’ll roll out my Godiva chocolate cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory in New Jersey. Absolutely mouth-watering. :)

Now for my “worthy of National Geographic” shot. Every time you visit my blog, you will see this photo on my background, taken from the top of Machu Picchu in the Cusco region of Peru. It’s often referred to as “The City of the Incas,” and is a UNESCO site, having been voted one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007. This is the most awesome place I’ve ever visited, and as you can see, very photogenic.

Well those are my seven ‘super shots’. I’m not sure which one I like the best. Maybe you have an opinion.

I now have to nominate five bloggers to take part in this challenge, only if they would like to of course.

My choice is:

http://awindowintothewoods.com/

gusgus64.wordpress.com

http://ronmayhewphotography.com/

http://betigaklaten.wordpress.com/

http://bulldogsturf.wordpress.com/

Awesome Machu Picchu. The story behind my background pic.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.” ~ St Augustine

Hi again everyone.  Since I’ve been blogging, many people have remarked on my background and asked where the photo was taken. The two places which I have most wanted to see in my life, were the pyramids of Egypt, which we did in 1993, and second on my bucket list were the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.
In August 2003, our son was getting married at Lake Tahoe in California, so we decided to do a round the world trip, incorporating Mum-in-law’s 90th birthday in England and then just carrying on round until we eventually arrived home almost two months later. It was a truly wonderful experience and as you can imagine, we visited some amazing and interesting places. Our journey took us from South Africa to London and then on to Rio de Janeiro. From there we flew to La Paz in Bolivia and then crossed Lake Titicaca into Peru. We then travelled by road to Cuzco in south-eastern Peru from where we had a very early morning start for our four-hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, the gateway village to Machu Picchu.

We arrived at Pueblo station.

The railway track runs down the main street, and either side are stalls and shops, which we so enjoyed looking around.

This stallholder had nodded off amidst her colourful display of wares.

After booking into our hotel, which was situated in a side alley, we had quite a scary bus ride up to the “Lost City of the Incas,” along the steep and winding road, barely wide enough for our vehicle, with hairpin bends. Of course we met other coaches on their way down, and miraculously managed to squeeze past them whilst it seemed my heart wobbled around in my mouth

This ancient Inca city, believed by most archaeologists to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti (1438-72), lay hidden amidst dense jungle-covered mountains until 1911, when an American historian, Hiram Bingham, announced his discovery of it.

The well-preserved ruins, overlooking the Vilcanata river valley, seem to almost cling to the steep hillside, and are surrounded by colossal green mountains. Even if you’ve ever seen photos of this wondrous structure, it doesn’t really prepare you for the breath-taking and awe-inspiring sight when you see it firsthand.

You realise when you get there, that you don’t just ‘visit’ Machu Picchu, but feel as though you are actually making a pilgrimage there. The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, wrote

“Machu Picchu is a trip to the serenity of the soul, to the eternal fusion with the cosmos; where we feel our fragility. It is one of the greatest marvels of South America. A resting place of butterflies in the epicentre of the great circle of life. One more miracle.”

We spent a whole day  wandering around this indescribably beautiful place. We started off in a group with a guide, but her English was so bad that we decided to go off on our own and see what we could find. There were cute llamas grazing along the way.

Much further up, we came upon this massive rock which is believed to have healing powers. I didn’t have anything which needed healing, but thought I would give it a try anyway.

Here, close to an open-fronted hut is a carved stone, called the Funerary Stone.

 

Historians think that it was an altar on which the Incas used to sacrifice llamas. Professor Bingham believed that it may have been used as a mortuary slab on which the dead were laid out in the sun to dry, before mummification. Just above this rock, he found a cemetery containing a large number of skeletons.

The site, which is South America’s most popular tourist destination, has been reconstructed, and the work is still ongoing. We were fortunate that it wasn’t very crowded on the two days that we were there. The extremely high  altitude makes it quite tiring to clamber around the site and then climb up to this spot from where we had this stunning view.

 

Looking at these pics, it looks as though we had the whole place to ourselves, but that wasn’t the case. There were many other visitors, but we obviously managed to steer clear of them most of the time.

From Peru, we flew to Ecuador and then on to the wedding. After the celebrations, we were off to Hawaii, for a much needed relaxing beach holiday, after which we did a wonderful cruise of The Great Barrier Reef, before flying home via Singapore. What a great trip that was, and one day I’ll put some more photos up for you to see.

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.