Warm afternoon light falls on my favorite view of Wroclaw - Ostrow Tumski, the cathedral island on the river Oder. This island is the oldest part of the city with 10th-century origins.
I look at Wroclaw like an oyster – you have to get past the rough and scraggly outer shell to get to the pearl inside to appreciate its beauty. And by the pearl I mean the heart of the city that Wroclawians call Rynek, the old market square where one can find the city’s prized possession tucked safely inside four colorful corners.
When I arrived in central Wroclaw by airport bus, I decided to walk from the bus station at Dworkowa Street to take me to the old town where my hotel was. Passing by the old Glowny Station and the busy Swidnicka Street, I found the city on the brink of mid-afternoon rush. There was a vigorous chill in the breeze that swept past me as I walked with one gloved hand inside my pocket and another dragging my luggage behind. It felt unseasonably cold this time of the year, and my decision to pack more layers than I had originally planned was suddenly the smartest thing I’ve done. [...Read more about Wroclaw...]
Trieste might not be the most colorful Italian city but it does not fall short on colors when it comes to its sunsets. Neither does it lack photographic opportunity for a nautical scene, in this case at the Saccheta basin of San Giusto marina.
If it was hot in Piran, it was even hotter in Trieste, and this time I could really feel it while walking in the wide-open lanes and boulevards. My Slovenian driver, Boris, had told me to expect Trieste to be a much bigger place than I was used to in Piran, and that I felt as I walked from one location to another along the stretch of the seafront, from my hotel near the Canale Grande to the lighthouse of Sacchetta.
I had been to several Italian cities and Trieste did not, at first impression, evoke the same atmosphere that I was used to in Rome, Florence or Venice. People are more inclined to head on over to the more popular cities for many reasons including familiarity. Besides, you don’t really see Trieste in guidebooks or probably have not even heard of this city at all. I have read somewhere that 70% of Italians don’t even know that Trieste was in Italy – whether or not that figure is accurate, it’s still sad to think about it. [...Read more about Trieste...]
What better way to spend your early morning than to climb up the hill over the red rooftops and watch the first sunlight touch the face of St. George's church, then gradually embrace the town in a nice, soft and warm light.
Boris picked me up at the airport in Trieste just before 4 pm. I had arranged for a car service knowing that I wouldn’t have made the 3:00 bus to Piran and needed the quickest way to get there before sunset.
It was only 24 miles (40 kms) away, driving along the coastal route, first passing the Gulf of Trieste in Italy then the Adriatic sea as we cross the border of Slovenia. As we pass different towns along the way – Koper, Izola, and smaller towns – I see the same campanile over and over again just like the famous one in San Marco of Venice. The landscape did not change much and had it not been for the border crossing sign, I wouldn’t have guessed where Italy had stopped. [...Read more about Piran...]
A sad day for Norwegians. A blanket of roses filled the grounds of Oslo Cathedral as Norway mourns the victims of the massacre that took place on July 22, 2011.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Oslo. The European city known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize has its own peace compromised just a few weeks ago when a car bomb exploded in front of the government quarters while a lone gunmen went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp in Utoya. This sort of violence I would expect anywhere else in the world, but it just seemed farfetched to me that it would happen in Norway. Suffice to say, this is one of the most horrific events in Norway’s peacetime history which left not only the Norwegians stunned, but also the rest of the world.
The white Lutheran Cathedral takes on some golden colors during magic hour, at 10:00 pm! In Helsinki, where one can experience white nights in the summer, it was hard to distinguish the end of night and the coming of morning, but it definitely is a city where one can savor twilight.
On my research about Finland in general, I came across this Finnish word sisu and found out that it means strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. It is also a word that is used to describe an understanding of the Finnish culture. The word sisu and its meaning is something that interested me the most in my reading. Apparently, the word is so popular that it has been used in many occasions, but what I liked the most is how Time magazine has described it: The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win.
The sun slowly dipping into the horizon can send one into a momentary trance here at Toompea Hill. Just off to the righthand side, not shown in this frame, is the historical old town of Tallinn.
According to Estonian folklore, Toompea Hill was created when Linda, bereaved wife of King Kalev, gathered and piled stones on top of her husband Kalev’s grave until it formed a mound. Grief-stricken as she sat on top of this, she cried tears that formed the Lake Ulemiste. Whether or not there’s scientific truth to this, I’m sure the history books won’t keep telling this story if it did not appeal to Estonian culture. There must be a more reasonable geological explanation as to how the limestone hill of Toompea was formed, but the old folklore that tells of the undying love between Linda and Kalev seems, to me, better suited as a story behind this romantic city. For what better words to associate the city of Tallinn with but by these three: folklore, fantasy, fairy tale.
Lough Tay is also named Guinness Lake because they say it looks like a Guinness stout with its dense midnight-black color caused by a bed of peat bogs. The startingly-white sandy beach around it is supposed to look like its foam. So, cheers!
With only a little over 3 hours of sleep last night, I was up at 4 this morning to catch some blues. I left the drapes undrawn so I’ll have unobstructed view of the light, and there it was – a deep blue picture staring at me as I opened my eyes. My destination was just across the street so it did not take me long to get to the Sean Casey bridge, and then later to Ha’Penny after a brisk walk to chase the fading light. Early morning with a nice cool breeze blowing, hardly any cars nor people on the streets, it’s just me and my bridges – just the way I like it.
I was back at the hotel at 5:45 since I decided to take some post-sunrise shots as well over at the Samuel Beckett. The light was good today – not great, but good enough that I couldn’t have asked for anything more. When you live in gray England as a photographer, just good light is good enough. [...Read more about Wicklow...]
Sunset colors trying to break through the clouds over the Samuel Beckett bridge after a rain storm.
They gave me a room on the 4th floor overlooking the Liffey river. It’s one of those windows that does not open all the way in case some nutcase wanted to jump. Definitely no jumper here, just wanted to see if the barrel of my lens would squeeze in through the gap, and it wouldn’t. Too bad, because I have a nice view, and although it has some blind spots, it still gives me a decent visual sweep of the south bank which seems to contain most of the attractions. I have the three-masted Jeanie Johnston ship almost directly below me, the Sean O’Casey bridge to the right, and Calatrava’s Samuel Beckett bridge is not too far downstream.
I’ve been skeptical about the weather since I got here. It looks like two different stories written in the sky. It has been sunny for the most part, with passing rain showers at least once a day. On the third day though it was just unforgiving rain – a bitter reminder of how photographers are always at the mercy of the weather. It is also a true test of one’s faith; I seem to pray more often when it rains. [...Read more about Dublin...]
[...Monasterio de Piedra, Nuévalos - Zaragoza, Spain May 29, 2011...]
Cola de Caballo - "Horsetail" - the tallest of the waterfalls in the monastery's rainforest measures about 50 meters high.
Fans of literary genius Paulo Coelho will recognize the play on title as being inspired by his bestselling novel “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.” The river Piedra, as you might know, was one of the settings for this novel about love and spirituality. Being a Coelho fan myself, it was a pleasure to see the same river that his heroine Pilar came to, although unlike her, I did not come here for spiritual cleansing or deep meditation. I have seen photos of this place during my research on Zaragoza, and that triggered my desire to see it for myself.
I’ve read that it is believed that anything you give up to the river Piedra will disappear forever. Its geological location being high in calcium carbonate, makes it so that whatever the river touches turns to stone, thereby it is also known as the stone river, “piedra” meaning stone. I did not have any intentions of making wishes when I got there, but it turned out that I was forced to make one – and that is, for the rain to stop! [...Read more about Zaragoza...]