Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

The WordPress Photo Challenge ‘Up’ is a great opportunity to share some of my  pics taken whilst looking skywards.

These were taken at our local annual airshow, over the past couple of years. Hubby took them, and I think he did really well. I’m sure I would overbalance if I had to try to take photos of planes flying overhead. 🙂





You had a view down the steps of the Balinese temple in my last post, and this time you can look up at it.


Here’s Mount Rushmore from a different angle, showing only George Washington’s profile.


Another profile now of the Lakota warrior Chief Crazy Horse, in South Dakota. This colossal monument has been sixty-four years in the making, and as you can see, is still nowhere near to completion.


At the southernmost end of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, is the memorial honouring the great explorer Christopher Columbus, depicted pointing out to sea.


The dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica, designed by Michelangelo, is the most prominent building  in the Vatican City. It’s as beautiful from the inside,


as from the outside.


Of course, I can’t do an up post, without including a photo of my favourite landmark, which is just a few yards up the beach. This is something I would really miss, if we move away from here.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my pics for this challenge. To see what other bloggers have come ‘up’ with, just click here.

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.


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.


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. 😉


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Entrancing Entrances for Jake

This week, Jake has requested entrances. Here are some of my favourite ones from our trip to Spain and Morocco. I thought I’d start off with a few palaces.

This is an entrance to the Alhambra Palace in Granada. It was originally constructed as a fortress in 889, and was converted into a palace in 1333.


The Royal Palace in Fez, is one of the most elegant buildings in Morocco. Unfortunately for us, it was not open to the public, so we didn’t get to pass through these beautiful golden gates.


Here is the entrance to the ‘Palacio Real de Madrid, the largest palace in Europe and the official residence of the Spanish Royal family. It has 2,000 luxuriously decorated rooms, so plenty of space for visitors. 🙂


The Alcázar of Seville, is also a royal palace, and was once a Moorish fortress. Today, the Spanish Royal family use only the top floors of the palace.


Here is the entrance to the Park Güell in which the Gaudi House Museum stands. Gaudi lived here for twenty years, until his death in 1926. In 1963, it was turned into a museum, which houses many of his sculptures, paintings and drawings, as well as furniture designed by him.


His greatest and most ambitious work, La Sagrada Familia is still under construction over a century later. It was started in 1882, and when objections were raised as to the extended completion date of the Basilica, Gaudi replied, “Don’t worry, my client isn’t in a hurry.” 🙂

Last but by no means least, is the entrance to Rick’s Cafe, a popular landmark in Casablanca. It is housed in a 1930’s mansion, which has been totally refurbished to recreate the bar made famous in the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman movie classic, ‘Casablanca’.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my entrances for Jake’s theme. To see his wonderful graphics and links to more interpretations of the theme, just click here.

Architecture…. Hola Spain!

Jake’s Sunday Post theme, architecture, made me think of all the different and varied styles of buildings I’ve seen on my travels. I could of course do a real hotchpotch of  a post, and show you examples from many countries around the world, but I decided to limit my photos to Spain, a country renowned for its art and architectural excellence. Spanish architecture is an exotic mix of early Moorish influences and surreal modernism.

Talking of surrealism, one cannot visit Barcelona without marvelling at the astounding imagination and genius of Antoni Gaudi. Here is the Casa Mila, better known as La Pedrera, meaning ‘The Quarry’. It caused quite a sensation when it was being built,  because of the bold form of its undulating stone facade and the wrought iron decoration of the balconies and windows,

This is one of the sculptures on the roof of the Casa Mila.

and this huge mirror cleverly reflects another part of the roof.

The design of the beautiful windows of the Casa Batllo, is astonishing. This house was nicknamed ‘The House of Bones’ because the balconies at the lower floors, have bone-like pillars, and those on the upper floors look like pieces of skulls.

Surely his absolute masterpiece though, has to be La Sagrada Familia, ‘la cathédrale des anges’, which was started in 1882, and when we were there in 2004, was still not completed. This is the original old part.

and here is the newer construction. Which do you prefer?

The Royal Palace in Madrid, is the official residence of the Spanish royal family, although now it’s only used for State ceremonies.

The palace has 135,000 square metres of floorspace and contains 3418 rooms, making it the largest in Europe. The interior design and decor and was just breathtaking. Just take a look at all those chandeliers!

I could just imagine myself sweeping down this magnificent staircase, not in my jeans and t-shirt, but in a sumptuous, bejeweled ball gown, and with a diamond encrusted coronet on my head. 🙂

Of course, Granada is famous for its absolutely stunning Alhambra Palace. I posted some pics of the gardens yesterday for the green theme..

It was so delightful to walk around this beautiful place.

Some of the detail was really exquisite,

and around every corner, there was something new to admire.

In Cordoba, we visited the Mezquita, the Great Mosque-Cathedral, which was begun in 600 AD, and is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Islamic architecture. When I walked into this vast hypostyle hall, I was absolutely dumbfounded.

I felt so tiny as I gazed up at those 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite.

The richly gilded decoration of the cathedral in its centre, defies description, so here’s a photo instead. 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of the architecture I saw on my trip. To see more interpretations of Jake’s theme. just click here.

CBBH Photo Challenge: Windows

Marianne at East of Malaga blog, has a new challenge for October. She has some magnificent windows to show us, and I told her that I already used my best window pics for the “Thursday Windows challenge” last week.

Whilst we were out walking along our beach front today, I looked up at one of the overly tall apartment blocks ‘gracing the skyline’, and blocking out the sun from the beach, and my immediate thought was, “Oh, how I’d hate to have to clean all those windows. I didn’t think, “Wow, what a beautiful building.” This building goes by the lovely name of, “The Pearls,” but to my eye, it doesn’t look very pearl-like.

Isn’t it strange that when I was in Barcelona, and looking up at the windows of  Gaudi’s ‘Casa Mila’, I didn’t even think about cleaning them. I was just so awestruck by the beauty and ingenuity of their design. This apartment block was commissioned by Pedro Milà i Camps, a rich businessman. On the outside, the undulating balconies look like a series of waves, and the building was soon dubbed ‘La Pedrera’, meaning ‘the quarry’, because locals thought the facade resembled cliff-like rocks and caves.

The Casa Batlló has the most unusual windows I’ve ever seen. From the outside, this building looks like it ‘s been made out of skulls (the balconies) and bones, (the supporting pillars). The building was designed by Gaudi, as an upmarket home  for Josep Batlló, a wealthy aristocrat. He and his family, lived in the lower two floors, whilst the upper floors were rented out as apartments.

When I look at old churches, cathedrals, and other historical buildings such as Gaudi’s apartment blocks, I can’t help thinking that architects of today have far less creativity and eye for beauty, than had those of a bygone era. What’s your opinion?

For more contributions to the CBBH challenge, just click here.

Now I would like to introduce you to two other blogs which I really enjoy:

Phil Lanoue Photography has a very entertaining blog, containing the most breathtaking photos of wild life in the swamps of Florida.

Ron Mayhew at the fotograffer blog, also has some of the most amazing wildlife photos you could ever wish to see.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

This week’s challenge, asks us to share pictures that mean “growth” to us.

I have chosen firstly this one of a giant Banyan tree at the Turtle Creek Resort in Oahu. I was absolutely awestruck when we came upon it on our walk through the forest. It was the first time I’d seen a Banyan. It makes me look like a little dwarf, or maybe I should be more p.c., and say that I look vertically challenged? 🙂 It’s hard to believe that this tree grew to such an enormous size from one tiny seed.

Just look at this cute baby rhino following along behind his mama at the Lion and Rhino Park in Johannesburg. It’s hard to believe that after a few growth spurts, this miniature will one day weigh as much as 1.5 tons.

So we’ve had a plant and an animal, and now I think I’ll give you different sort of growth miracle.

The Gaudi Cathedral in Barcelona, the brainchild of Antoni Gaudi, was started 1882. He was unfortunately killed by a tram in 1926, so this magnificent structure has taken 130 years to finish. It’s amazing to think that something so unique and magnificent grew out of one man’s ideas and artistic genius, and that, as with all buildings, it started with that first shovelful of soil. As you can see from my photos taken in 2004, it was still in the growth phase.

Thinking about it, everything does grow from seed. The Banyan tree, and the mighty rhino start out as tiny seeds. Magnificent architecture, as with all art, starts out as a seed of brilliance in the mind of the creator. That 14th century proverb which says, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” is so very true.