Sunday, January 31, 2010
THE HOLY GANGES AT VARANASI
There are more than 100 ghats along the Ganges at Varanasi, a city in the north of India. Here pilgrims come to pray and bathe. Varanasi (historic Benares) is the city of Lord Siva. Devout Hindus pray for the protection of Siva when they perform puja (i.e., pray) in the Ganges. Cremations are performed at the Manikarnika ghat, shown in the photo, where an eternal fire has been burning for 4,000 years. The belief is that the soul will then go to Nirvana and escape the cycle of birth, death and re-incarnation.
Here we are in 2007 in front of the most beautiful building in the world. We arrived early in the morning when the air was clear and there weren't too many tourists. Even though we knew about the Taj Mahal, of course, and that it was very beautiful, we were still awestruck by its beauty. This was at the very end of our five weeks in India, and as you can see, we were very happy, having utterly enjoyed the vacation. What impressed us most was the kindness and friendliness of the people and the wonderful food. The first photo shows the entrance to the Taj and in the second you can see the rear of the building.
Friday, January 29, 2010
In 1994, when we vacationed in Italy, we visited the coliseum in Rome. Being there, one could easily imagine how horrific it would have been to be there in ancient Rome to see early Christians being thrown to the lions.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Knidos, an ancient city located at the westernmost point of Asia Minor, was in existence as early as 300 BC. There are two harbours, one on the Aegean and one on the Mediterranean. Knidos was an important seaport, being the final landfall before ships crossed over to Egypt. Our boat trip to Knidos was a hair-raising experience. Because of its location at the end of the Datca peninsula which separates the Mediterranean from the Aegean, the seas at Knidos are often very rough. The day we went was no exception, and we felt grateful to have arrived safely. We enjoyed Knidos very much. It was just the sort of out-of-the-way place with lots of history and ancient ruins that we love to visit.
This boat trip took us across the Sea of Marmara from Yalova to Istanbul which you can see in the far distance. The setting sun made for a wonderful view of the city as we approached it.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
These three photos of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome were taken in 1994. St. Peter's, the "mother" church for the world's Catholics, is the largest Christian church in the world, holding a congregation of 60,000. It was constructed between 1506 and 1626.
These three photos, taken in 1994, show how impressive the ancient ruins of Rome are. The first photo looks down over the Roman forum from the Arch of Septimus Severus, the second photo looks over onto Augustus' Forum, and the final one features Caesar's Forum. Our only complaint was the intense heat, which limited the amount of time we spent exploring the ruins. Spending more time is something to look forward to on our next visit.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
These photos were taken in Jodhpur in 2007. Mehrangarh Fort is in the first photo, while the second was taken from the fortress and shows why Jodhpur has been called the Blue City. The foundation of the fort was laid in 1459.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Taking a cruise on the Bosporus is definitely a must for travelers in Istanbul. First of all, it is beautiful, with the intense sparkling blue of the water and the brilliant sunshine. Then, there are the palaces, mansions and small villages along the way. Most of all, there is a feeling of excitement when you realize just where you are, poised between Europe and Asia on your way to the Black Sea!
These Mulberry harbours, photographed in Asnelles, Normandy in 1999 are temporary prefabricated harbours that were used to offload cargo on the beaches of Normandy. They were taken across the English Channel from Britain in sections and assembled off the coast as part of the D-Day invasion in 1944.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This little girl was dancing in a restaurant in Jodhpur where we had lunch. She was very confident and graceful, and just one of the many children in India who are forced by economic circumstances to take employment.
These photos were taken in 2007 from an auto-rickshaw as we drove in the rain through Jodhpur's Old City. These small merchants with their tiny shops are the mainstay of India's retail sector. They are threatened by the emergence of large western retail chains which so far the government has not allowed in any substantial numbers. Small retailers are a drag on the efficiency of India's economy, so perhaps it's only a matter of time...
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The monument of Viktor Emaneul (or Vittorio Emanuele), the first king of united Italy, was completed in 1935. As you can see from the photos, taken in 1994, it is very lovely.
You can see what happened when the second photo of the Trevi Fountain in Rome was taken in 1994. My husband, Paul, kindly agreed to hold my handbag while I took the photo - the only time in his life he was photographed holding a woman's handbag.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Pointe du Hoc, photographed in 1997, is 4 miles from Omaha Beach and, when the D-Day invasion occurred, was a strongly fortified position on top of a steep cliff. The US Army Ranger Assault Group were assigned the job of taking out the German guns, which they accomplished successfully though with big losses. I was amazed at how large the shell craters are. The area has been left just as it was following D-Day.
Montpellier and Bois are my two favourite small cities in France. Montpellier is a very old city with a famous university. The photo is of the Place de la Comedie, the main square in the city centre. There is also a charming old city, but what impressed us most was the quality of the new commercial development which is superb.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Luxembourg Garden is one of the favourite places for the people of Paris to go for relaxation and a bit of exercise. These photos from 1994 explain why it is so popular.
Just three of the many reasons we love Paris: beautiful buildings like the Madeleine, outdoor markets, and the Seine. These photos are from our 1994 vacation.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Golden Fort, so-named for its resemblance to a golden flame in the desert sun, includes Jain temples, a palace, a museum, and one-quarter of the houses in the Old City of Jaisalmer. It was built in the 12th Century and has now been placed upon the World Monuments Watch List of 100 endangered sites. Located in an area of meagre rainfall, the fort was built with a complex system designed to collect rainwater. However, it does not have the capacity to handle the volume of water now necessary to accommodate tourists and as a result the fort has become unstable. It is unclear if anything is being done to contain or reduce the damage.
This photo of an old mansion called a haveli was taken in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan in 2007. It shows the beautifully intricate stone carving that you often see on these old houses. I was fascinated by the many birds that perched on buildings everywhere in the city.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
These photos were taken at Long Beach at Tofino on Vancouver Island in 2003. We spent four days there during the summer when it normally has so much rain. We were very fortunate in having no rain at all making it possible to go for many long walks on beautiful Long Beach.
These photos of Wickaninnish Beach were taken in 2003 while on a long walk near Tofino on Vancouver Island.
Monday, January 18, 2010
In 2002 we spent a day with this handsome young Berber tour guide who took us to see a kasbah - a walled, older part of a north African city. His story is a remarkable one. When he was a boy of about eight, he was befriended by a man from Spain who took a great interest in him and encouraged him in his schooling. Every year he would bring books from Spain for the boy. When we were introduced to him, he had just completed a Ph.D. in social anthropology and was fluent in eight languages. I have often wondered what became of him, if he remained in the desert or if he took a job in one of Morocco's cities. He told us that the aquifers near Erfoud - the only source of water for the area - were being depleted. I have also wondered what if anything has been done or could be done about that.
The smaller of the two temples at Abu Simbel, photographed in 2004, was built by Ramesses II to honor both Hathor as the goddess of love and music and his wife Nefertari as the deified queen.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
There is great diversity within India, but it can nevertheless be characterized as a country of farmers. Although Rajasthan is one of India's more prosperous states, you can see from the photo that life in rural areas is relatively primitive. Even with many government initiatives to combat it, rural poverty - along with indebtedness and suicide - remains a problem.