Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Steps or Stairs

Another Which Ways Fun Foto Challenge from Cee, and this time it’s ‘Steps or Stairs’. My legs have climbed up and down so many steps and stairs on my travels, and here are just a few of them.

Let’s start with Venice. To me it is the city of a thousand and more steps. We were constantly walking up and down the sets of steps. All the bridges had their own steps, and in the shopping streets, we were always going up and down like Yo-yos. It’s a perfect way to keep fit, but not good for mothers with baby carriages, or wheelchair bound people. I did wonder about that.

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In Barcelona, the steps up to the main terrace which is the focal point of Park Güell, are divided by the famous Gaudi lizard covered in a kaleidoscope of brightly coloured mosaics. I would think it’s almost impossible to get a photo of this tourist attraction, without lots of people in it.

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The number of steps along Great Wall of China, has never been documented, but I read that it’s about 3700 miles long, and there are maybe 2,000 steps per mile. Do the math. ;)

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Machu Picchu is also a place of many ancient stone steps, estimated at around 3,000 in all.

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There’s an awful lot of climbing to do if you want to get to the top.

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Isle Del Sol, which we stopped off at on our trip across lake Titicaca, has no roads, and the only way to get up to the restaurant where we were to have lunch, was to climb the Inca steps.

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It was a very hot day, but the view from the top, across the terraces and the lake, was definitely worth it.

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Another Inca archaeological site we visited between Cusco and Machu Picchu, is Ollantaytambo, which is in Urumbaba, 9,160 feet above sea level. This is a religious temple site, and one gets to the top of the terraced complex, via a series of stairways.

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Bali is known as the ‘island of a thousand temples’, and we saw quite a few on our tour. This one had very steep steps to reach it.

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I suppose some cultures think that the higher you climb, the closer you are to your particular god. The Mayas also had so many steps to their temples too, as in this one at Lamanai in Belize.

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I can’t do a stairs challenge without including my spiral staircase pic from the Cabiria Restaurant in Rome. We were taken up to the roof deck by elevator, but after dinner, some of us decided that this was a far more exciting way to get back down to ground level. I counted 186 steps.

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Last but not least, is this unique staircase in London’s Regent Street, ‘Anthropologie’ store, which has a three storey,  200 sq metre living wall, aligned with the staircase. It’s filled with lush green plants, which are irrigated by rain water collected from the roof.  I thought this was such a brilliant idea.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my steps and stairs. If you want to see more, just click here.

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Palazzo Venezia Rome

Italian Walls for Ailsa’s theme.

Ailsa’s new travel theme is walls, and so many of my photos have buildings in them, so this challenge called for a bit of restraint, or I’d be posting a gallery of hundreds.

I really loved the Italian architecture when I visited in October 2011, so decided to feature some of the walls I saw there. Click on any image to be taken to the photo gallery.

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

Thursday’s Windows – Pinocchio

Sandra Conner’s Thursday’s windows has come around once again.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I decided to post a shop window in Venice for the theme.

You might be wondering what Pinocchio has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, really not a lot, except that he was first seen floating through Times Square with his 44 ft nose, in the 1937  Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Photo from The New York Times Photo Archives.

This parade has been held almost every year since 1924, when Macy’s Department Store held its first Thanksgiving Day parade. It has been cancelled only twice, during World War II, when rubber and helium were needed for the war effort. This year will be the 86th annual parade, and once again, Pinocchio will be there amongst the sixteen giant balloons which will be marched down the parade route. They’ve certainly scaled down his nose this year, and he no longer looks as though he’s been stung by a whole hive of angry bees. :)

Photo from Google Images.

My son and grandchildren are there in the thick of it, and he informs me that later today, they are expecting fifty people for Thanksgiving dinner, and twenty of them are small children. 8O

To see more posts for the challenge, just click here

Jake’s Sunday Post: Reflections

Once again, Jake has given us a wonderful new theme. Photos which feature reflections are often very attractive, as they have an extra dimension to them. Here are a few of mine.

This was taken through our coach window, one rainy spring evening in Paris.

The gardens of the beautiful Alhambra Palace in Granada have lovely water features which yield many reflections. I put this one in especially for Marianne of ‘East of Malaga‘, who seems to have a thing about this particular Spanish garden. :)

In order to see the traditional Thai way of living in Bangkok, one needs to take a tour of the ‘khlongs’ of Thonburi, the old capital city situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. These old waterways have avoided much of the modern development of the rest of the city, and still retain their ramshackle charm.

I couldn’t leave the magnificent Li River out of my collection, so here is a pic showing the wonderful reflections of those picturesque green karst hills which line the river between Guilin and Yangshuo. Some of the fisherman still live on traditional houseboats.

Of course when looking for photos of reflections in water, Venice is always a good bet.

Florence has the beautiful medieval Ponte Vecchio, which in Italian simply means ‘old bridge.’ It spans the Arno River, and was one of the many highlights of our Italian tour last year.

This is the opulently decorated lobby of our hotel in Marrakech. On our arrival, it looked like a palace to me, but of course as one often finds in big, fancy hotels, the rooms weren’t nearly as spacious as one might have expected. :)

Washington has many opportunities for snapping a few reflections, and this photo was taken one July 4th, when people were out celebrating Independence Day on the lawns surrounding the famous ‘Reflecting Pool’ which lies between the Lincoln memorial and the imposing Washington Monument, a marble obelisk built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington.

Last but by no means least, is my very favourite reflection photo of them all, taken in Amsterdam long before digital cameras came into being. If you imagine that Venice is  the only romantic city boasting beautiful canals, you’re very much mistaken. Canals are a symbol of Amsterdam, and are now proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is sometimes known as “The Venice of the north,”  and if you’ve been there, you will know why.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my selection of reflections for Jake’s theme. To see more entries, just click here.

Ailsa’s travel theme: Night

Ailsa’s travel theme this week, is “Night.” I thought that I didn’t have any photos actually taken after dark, but then I remembered our Italian tour last October, so here are some pics from our two nights in the fascinating city of Venice.

On our first evening, we had a half hour private motor launch “Magical Venice” tour of the Grand Canal and many of its side alleys, ending up in Piazza S. Marco. It was so peaceful, with just the lapping of the water and the purr of the motor, as we slowly sailed past all the apartments, restaurants and churches.

Every so often, we heard church bells ringing in the distance. So awesome, but unfortunately too dark for any decent photos.

After the boat ride, the two of us found a small pavement cafe where we shared a pizza, a bottle of wine and  a delicious Tiramisu, before meeting up with the rest of our group at the “Chirggia Bar,” in the Piazza, for drinks and music.

I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Here I was, sitting in the famous Piazza San Marco, surrounded by beautiful architecture, drinking a delicious ‘Bellini’, and listening to a great jazz trio playing really romantic songs, such as “The way you look tonight,” and the theme from “The Godfather.” They did hot it up a bit with their fabulous rendition of “Hey Mambo,” and people were soon up and dancing in the square. Such a very happy evening.

The following day was the final day of our tour, and in the late afternoon, we left our hotel for a ‘taxi’ ride across the lagoon. We’d booked a night-time Gondola ride.

The sun was setting behind the church, as we sailed across.

Here is San Marco’s Square on the left, with the Doge’s Palace in the middle, and The Bridge of Sighs on the right.

Our Gondolier was waiting for us, and I gingerly stepped in first, half expecting it to capsize, but fortunately, although it rocked like crazy, I made it to the ‘love seat’ at the front, and then hubby and our four friends got in too.

We pulled away from the pier,

and set off under the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, so-called because it was the bridge over which prisoners were led before being incarcerated in the prison. They usually died there, as the conditions were appalling, and the cells barely even big enough for a person to lie down. It was being seriously renovated, hence all the scaffolding.

As you’ve probably noticed, our boatman was not the most cheerful looking guy. We asked him to sing to us, because surely that’s what Gondoliers do when they’re sailing along?  He just glowered at us, and said it would be extra, but when the guy in the gondola in front of ours started to sing “Buona sera senorita,” ours decided to join in, albeit somewhat halfheartedly. A local man walking along the path, called out in Italian, “He can’t even sing. Why don’t you just tell him to shut up?” We had to laugh, but he didn’t even smile. ;)

We passed between really tall, old buildings, some with the stone steps half hidden under the water, and were told that in winter all the ground floors are flooded. The plaster had fallen off the outside walls long ago, and they looked extremely ‘distressed’.

We could see into the living rooms of people’s apartments as we sailed past.

It was now getting dark, and a church bell was tolling in the distance. I couldn’t help imagining those unfortunate prisoners of long ago, cooped up in their tiny cells, hearing that same bell, day after day until they died. It really was very spooky, and in some parts, the smell was really awful. When there was a sudden gushing of water from an outlet at the base of one building, I wondered if someone up there had just flushed the ‘loo’.

Here is a restaurateur waiting to welcome diners, who would be arriving by gondola.

Our ride was for about half an hour, and then we suddenly emerged out of the gloom, into the bright lights again, where more tourists were waiting to take our place.

Our guide led us through the streets to our restaurant, the “Trattoria Do Forni,” which was absolutely wonderful. She told us it was one of the best in Venice, and I’m sure she was right.  I had the most delicious four course meal; Prawn cocktail in Aurora sauce, Linguine with seafood, Fillet of sole with zucchini, and last but by no means least, the best Tiramisu I’ve ever eaten. The decor was very elegant, and don’t you just adore these Venetian glass, wall lights?

It was a fabulous farewell dinner, and a wonderful evening to end our Italian tour, which I think I must share with you all soon.

Travel Challenge “Rhythm”

Ailsa, of the “Where’s my backpack” blog, has given us a travel challenge this week. The challenge is ‘Rhythm’, and some of you may know that I’m in Phuket Thailand on holiday at the moment. I have heard the rhythm of the beginning of the monsoon rains, most evenings, as well as the rhythm of the waves crashing onto the beach just across from our room. The rhythm of the wind in the palm trees lulls me to sleep at night. I’ve been looking out for street musicians here, but so far haven’t seen even one, so I decided to use photos taken in other places on my travels.

This one was taken in Rio, as we were sitting having lunch at an open restaurant just across from Copacabana Beach. Halfway through my meal, a band of merry minstrels appeared, and insisted that I come join them whilst they serenaded me.

Whilst in Venice last year, we were sitting at a street Pizza Cafe, when these three brothers stopped to sing to us. They weren’t very in tune, but it was nice all the same, and added to the  romantic rhythm of that wonderful city.

One evening, whilst staying at a resort on the banks of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, we were entertained by these guys who performed some of their local music for us. It was a fascinating performance, and quite different from our Western style music.

If you would like to see more entries for this challenge, just click here.

Weekly photo challenge “The Sun”

The WordPress  photo challenge this week, is “The Sun,” and I see many people have posted beautiful pics of sunrises and sunsets. Here is one which we took over the Venice Lagoon, from the pier of ‘The San Clemente Palace’ hotel, in October last year.

This one was taken from the famous Sunset Beach in Hawaii. If you go there,  you just have to get this shot. Wink

I think we might sometimes need reminding that rainbows are caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light, by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere, so the sun also plays a major part in the appearance these beautiful phenomena.

This picture was taken after a spectacular storm over the sea here in Umhlanga, just a few days ago.

A rainbow demonstrates the effect of the sun’s visible light waves turning into the light spectrum. The sun  is essential to life on earth, and because of the sun’s rays, we are able to enjoy all the wonderful colours of the rainbow that we see around us every day.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. Chat again soon.