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/

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Ailsa’s travel theme: Food

“There is no sincerer love, than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

On my travels, I’ve eaten some wonderful meals and blogged quite a few of them already, so for Ailsa’s travel food challenge, I thought I’d just concentrate on shopping for the ingredients needed  to make meals in different countries.

Of course unless you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be needing some meat, so we’ll go to Peru for a nice bit of guinea pig. Feel free to choose the plumpest one that takes your fancy.

Or how about a nice succulent chicken from The Medina in Morocco?

or a few tasty slices of Wild Boar, sold on the street in the beautiful medieval town of San Gimignano in Tuscany?

Now we have the meat sorted, we’ll move on to the vegetables, starting off with a wonderful choice of corn at a market in Peru, on the road from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Healthy, fresh veggies can also be found at this market in Cuenco in the highlands of Ecuador.

In the hills just outside Marrakech, you will find a vegetable market frequented by the locals, so the prices may be more reasonable than those closer to the city.

As you can see, it’s not too busy, so you may probably be able to negotiate a good price with these guys.

Here at the Medina at Fes, is the most amazing selection of nuts, dates and dried fruit.

Then for a delicious dessert, we can travel back to San Gimignano to the famous “Gelateria di Piazza” in the Piazza della Cisterna. Sergio is the master ice cream maker there, and his ice cream parlour is mentioned in the most important world guides. This small shop with all its tempting choices, is continuously visited by national and international celebrities and television crews; but be prepared to take a number, and stand in line for quite a while.

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” Mark Twain

Travel theme: Street Markets

I see that there’s a Travel Challenge this week. The theme is “Street Markets,” of which I’ve visited many on my travels.

Usually I can spend a good deal of time browsing around at all the goods on display, but this one, in La Paz, Bolivia, was so gruesome, that we only stopped long enough to take a photo, before hurrying away. La Paz has a population of over a million people, and at face value, it looks much like any other bustling city, with its high rise buildings, shops and restaurants, but when we stepped into this side street, we came upon El Mercado de las Brujas, which is Spanish for ‘The Witches’ Market’. Witches wearing dark dresses and hats, sell a bizarre assortment of goods there, and one can buy all manner of things, such as dried frogs, which are supposed to bring you wealth, ceramic naked couples to improve your sex life and fertility, Bolivian armadillos which are to put over your door to keep the thieves away, and most bizarre of all, dried llama fetuses, which 99% of Bolivian families are said to put in the foundations of their houses to bring good luck. This was one market which didn’t tempt us to buy souvenirs. 😉

This fruit and vegetable market just outside Cusco in Peru, was very interesting indeed. I saw all manner of fruit and veggies that you don’t get in our shops. Our guide told us that there are 4,000 types of potatoes in South America. We didn’t see that many, but certainly saw quite a lot that we didn’t recognise.

(pic from Google)

Peruvian farmers grow more than 55 varieties of corn, more than anywhere else on earth.This woman had some in every colour: white, yellow, purple, black, red and mixed.

We also found a stall selling many different natural dyes. The Andeans love their brightly coloured fabrics. The favourite colour is red, and the female cochineal beetle, to be found on the prickly pear cactus, is dried and ground down, to be used in the production of red dye. The other dyes are mostly vegetable, made from flowers, moss, tree bark and nut shells etc..

In Quito, Ecuador, we were surprised and horrified to see live guinea pigs for sale in the market, by the sackful!

Gualaceo, about 45 minutes’ drive from Cuenca, is a very traditional town, and here we came upon this 25th of July Market (Mercado 25 de Junio). At the doorway to the market, we saw a woman selling what appeared to be ‘fast food’.

On closer inspection, this is what we saw! It was roast guinea pig and corn take-away!!

Neither hubby nor myself could be persuaded to sample it, even though, I believe it is very low in cholesterol. 😉 I suppose it’s just our Western upbringing which makes us shy away from eating anything cute and cuddly, especially the kids’ household pets. Inside, there were some succulent looking roast pigs on display,

which I might have sampled, except for the fact that we were going out for a really slap-up restaurant meal that evening. We were again offered guinea pig, but opted for something less traditional. For the life of me, I can’t remember what we ate, but it certainly wasn’t anything remotely huggable. 😉

Well, that’s enough pics of South American markets to be going on with. If you want to see what markets other bloggers have been to, just click here.

 

 

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.