A to Z Challenge: W = Weddings

W = Weddings, or more appropriately the weddings I’ve “crashed” while travelling

Wsince I usually find myself visiting churches and other picturesque places, t would make sense that I might encounter a wedding … or two. Here are some of the weddings I’ve seen in my travels.

Probably the most unique was when I went to the Montserrat Basilica, which is outside of Barcelona. I got there a little before it opened and noticed that, among the tourists, there was a group of people who were very well dressed for a Saturday morning. Imagine my surprise when they opened the doors and the tourists lines up on the right-side aisle to see the Black Madonna and the rest went to sit in the church proper top attend a wedding!

Montserrat, Catalonia
Montserrat, Catalonia: A beautiful spot for a wedding
Montserrat, Catalonia
Montserrat, Catalonia: Breathtaking views!
Basilica of Montserrat, Catalonia
Basilica of Montserrat, Catalonia
The wedding at Montserrat
The wedding at Montserrat
The wedding at Montserrat
The wedding at Montserrat
The line to see the Black Madonna at Montserrat
The line to see the Black Madonna at Montserrat
The Black Madonna at Montserrat
The Black Madonna at Montserrat

My other wedding pictures are from walking around a city and finding myself in the middle of the celebration.

Wedding in Amsterdam
Wedding in Amsterdam
Wedding in Amsterdam
Wedding in Amsterdam
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
Wedding in Amsterdam: The man in the blue sweater is in every photo!
And the party continues
And the party continues
Another beautiful church for a wedding in Helsinki
Another beautiful church for a wedding in Helsinki
Another beautiful church for a wedding in Helsinki
Wedding in Helsinki

One thing they all had in common, the bride wore white.

A to Z Challenge: V = Venice & cruising along the Grand Canal

V = Venice & cruising along the Grand Canal

VOf course V had to be for Venice and taking a cruise along the Grand Canal in one of the vaporettos. These are like buses, but they run along the canals. There are even regular bus stops with covered docks. And, like other city transit systems, they can get packed. But, if you can, try to sit in the front for a chance at getting interesting pictures as you sail along the canal.  Here are a few of my favs.

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

Here is is a post about Sailing into Venice

A to Z Challenge: U = Ushuaia

U = Ushuaia, Argentina

UI could write about how beautiful Ushuaia, Argentina is. Or, I could write about the wildlife or the beauty of Tierra del Fuego. But I already wrote about my experiences here.  So I am going to just share the pictures again and remember the time I was at the end of the world. I hope you enjoy my memories of Ushuaia as much as I enjoyed making them.

Ushuaia sign

Ushuaia
Final destination: downtown Ushuaia!
Islands of Birds
Islands of Birds
Sea Lions
Sea Lions
Sea Elephant
Sea Elephant
Sea Wolf Island
Sea Wolf Island
Sea birds taking off
Sea birds taking off
Lighthouse at the end of the world
Lighthouse at the end of the world
Tierra del Fuego
Coastline of Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park
I call this one Freedom — the clouds reminded me of a woman flying and made me feel very free!
Tierra del Fuego National Park
The shoreline of the Tierra del Fuego Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Lake in Tierra del Fuego National Park
Fin del Mondo
The post office at the end of the world where you can get a postmark from “Fin del Mundo”

 

A to Z Challenge: T = Tunisia

T = Tunisia

TBefore going to Tunisia, the only thing I’d ever really heard about Tunisia is that it is the site of Carthage, a place the Romans destroyed. So, I was excited to learn more and see not only one of the best collections of mosaics in the Bardo Museum, but other sites around Tunis.

I also heard that this is one of the best places to find jasmine-scented oil – my favourite scent!

 

I embarked on an excursion that would take me to Carthage, The Bardo Museum, the souk in Tunis, and Sidi Bou Said, famous for its white buildings and blue roofs. It was a long day, but I was not sure when I would be back here.

Of course, all that is left of Carthage are ruins, but I enjoyed seeing it – and it has great views of the sea.

 

Carthage
Carthage
Carthage
Carthage
Carthage
Carthage
Roman aquaducts
Roman aquaducts
Carthage
View of Atlas Mountains

The souk is a crazy labyrinth of streets and alleyways. I was glad I was with a guide, because it would be easy to get lost. Of course, we visited a rug merchant and a perfumery where I got my jasmine oil.

Door in Tunis
Door in Tunis
Covered souk at closing time
Covered souk at closing time
Rooftop view of mosque in Tunis
Rooftop view of mosque in Tunis
Me on a rooftop overlooking the souk in Tunis
Me on a rooftop overlooking the souk in Tunis

 

The Bardo Museum is fabulous and well worth a visit. I loved the mosaics and the architecture of the building. There were also some very large statues of Greek and/or Roman Gods.

Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Mosaic in Bardo Museum
Head of Zeus statue in the Bardo Museum
Head of Zeus statue in the Bardo Museum

Our last top was at  Sidi Bou Said. The town is very beautiful with the white and blue motif. We stopped at a jewelry shop where I found a really nice lapis necklace. Bartering is not my strongest skill, however I ended up with two necklaces, a dolphin statue and a hand of Fatima charm. The owners of the shop pointed me to a little tea house across the road that had a private garden and a view of the town.

 Sidi Bou Said
Sidi Bou Said
 Sidi Bou Said
Sidi Bou Said
 Sidi Bou Said
Sidi Bou Said
Sunset
Sunset

 

A to Z Challenge: S = Spain

S = Spain

SSpain has to be one of my favourite places in the world to visit.  I see, to love everything about it – the food, the music, the architecture, the people.  There is just so much to do and see and so much diversity. So much, in fact, that I am already planning for my next visit; which, unfortunately will not be until 2015. But I leave a piece of me heart there each time I go.  Here are some of my highlights of four places: Malaga, Madrid, Toledo and, of course, Barcelona.

 

In Malaga, I spent a lot of time wandering through the fortress that overlooks the city and port, visiting the cathedral and wandering through the park that runs along the port.

 

Malaga

 

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Malaga

Madrid is filled with people and music. I there were two impromptu drumming performances that I stumbled upon while wandering through the city. I was also there the night FC Barcelona was playing for the Euro Cup final – and I got the watch the game with a group of people sitting in the kitchen of a restaurant (before I headed back to Barcelona to celebrate the win in the streets!). I also spent a lovely Sunday in Retiro Park and meet more musicians. I do love Latin music!

Madrid

Dancing to drumming in Madrid
Dancing to drumming in Madrid
Dancing to drumming in Madrid
Drummers in Madrid
Row boats in Retiro Park, Madrid
Row boats in Retiro Park, Madrid
Mariachi Band in Retiro Park, Madrid
Mariachi Band in Retiro Park, Madrid

 

Puppeteer in Retiro Park, Madrid
Puppeteer in Retiro Park, Madrid
Arabic drummers in Madrid
Arabic drummers in Madrid

 

Toledo is another walled city with a magnificent cathedral, marzipan and winding streets.

Toledo

Toledo

And then, of course, there is walking down Las Ramblas in in Barcelona.

Catalan musicians
Catalan musicians

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas

Man with pet rabbit on Las Ramblas
Man with pet rabbit on Las Ramblas

For me, Spain is filled with life – and life cannot get better than this!

Here are more links about my adventures in Spain:

A to Z Challenge: R = Rhodes

R = Rhodes

ROld town Rhodes is an old, walled city first built in the 11th Century by the Knights of St. John’s (the same ones responsible for many of the sights to see in Malta). The city is a tapestry of winding streets, shops and restaurants, churches and mosques, and even an ancient temple to Aphrodite.  For people arriving on a cruise, it is an easy walk off the ship and into the city, making this one of my favourite places to explore. You can even walk along the beach! I feel like I stepped back in time – a truly magical experience.

Rhodes
Rhodes

The Palace of the Grandmasters is not as polished as the one in Malta. You get a sense that this was built to protect and keep the city safe from the canons on the battlements to the thick stone walls and plain interiors. I love the feel of this place and can “sense” a time when it was filled with activity. I could almost hear conversations from old.

Walls of the Old City Rhodes
Walls of the Old City Rhodes
Entrance to the Palace of the Grandmasters
Entrance to the Palace of the Grandmasters
Row of canons
Row of canons
Main courtyard in the Palace of the Grandmasters
Main courtyard in the Palace of the Grandmasters
Main staircase in the Palace of the Grandmasters
Main staircase in the Palace of the Grandmasters
Office of the Grand Master
Office of the Grand Master
Maltese Cross or the Cross of the Order of St. John
Maltese Cross or the Cross of the Order of St. John

Leading to the palace is the Avenue of the Knights. This street has the houses for the 8 languages that made up the Order of St. John – the points on the cross represent each of these languages.

Avenue of the Knights
Avenue of the Knights

At the base of the avenue, there is the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite. There are a lot of cats the roam the city, however on multiple visits, there seems to be one that has taken residence at the temple – a black and white cat that looks like my new kitten, Lola.

Temple of Aphrodite
Temple of Aphrodite
Temple of Aphrodite
Temple of Aphrodite
Temple cat
Temple cat

Close to the temple is the Museum of Archaeology. In one room, there is a large collection of grave markers for the knights. These are reminiscent of the decorated marble floor in the co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta, Malta. These, however, are carved sandstone and have no colours.The symbols are the same, though.

Archaeology Museum
Archaeology Museum
Grave marker in the Archaeology Museum
Grave marker in the Archaeology Museum

As I always seem to do, I wander through towns – thinking that I know where I am going. It was in Rhodes that I discovered that I can get lost even in a walled city. So, after walking around the city, and getting lost, it is always nice to enjoy a nice cup of espresso.

Me with an espresso
Me with an espresso

There is a lot to see on the island of Rhodes, which is why it is on my long list of places to return to, but if you have a day – get lost in the old city.

Gate to the sea
Gate to the sea
Outside the walls
Outside the walls
Statue of dolphins along the beach
Along the beach
Me and travel companion Bryan on the beach
Me and travel companion Bryan on the beach
Ship docked near the walls
Ship docked near the walls

A to Z Challenge: Q = Queen

Q = Queen

QWhat does it take to be a Queen? Some may say you marry into the position or maybe you are born into the position. Others have taken it when they had the opportunity. And, with this position comes power, palaces, fine gowns, land, etc.

This post is a bit of a continuation from yesterday’s palaces, but I am going to focus on a series of buildings that were built and decorated for Russian Queens, or Empresses as was the correct title, and mainly on Catherine the Great who was able to grab power when she saw the opportunity. The legacy she left is on a grand scale – from the Hermitage to Peterhof to the palace known simply as Catherine’s Palace.

For the rest of us? Here is my challenge to you – find your inner power and surround your life with beauty! Become the Queen of your life.

Hermitage
Hermitage
Throne in the Hermitage
Throne in the Hermitage
Portrait of Catherine the Great
Portrait of Catherine the Great
Dress that was in the portrait of Catherine the Great
Dress that was in the portrait of Catherine the Great
Dress that was in the portrait of Catherine the Great
Gates to Catherine’s Palace
Catherine's Palace
Catherine’s Palace
Catherine's Palace
Catherine’s Palace
Table setting in Catherine's Palace
Table setting in Catherine’s Palace
Catherine's Palace
Catherine’s Palace
Catherine's Palace
Catherine’s Palace
Garden at Peterhof where Catherine II planted a tree
Garden at Peterhof where Catherine II planted a tree
Plaque commemorating the tree planting
Plaque commemorating the tree planting

More from the Hermitage and Catherine’s Palace.

A to Z Challenge: P = Palaces

P = Palaces

PJust like cities, there seems to be one palace that many are compared to — Versailles. It may be the sheer size of the palace, or the ornate gardens. Whatever it is, all palaces seem to be compared to Versailles for one reason or another. By why should palaces be compared to another – each one has some that makes it unique and and reflects the locale. Here are some of my favourite palaces.

Versailles
Versailles
Peterhof fountains
Peterhof Palace fountains, St. Petersburg
Royal Stables
Royal Stables, Copenhagen
Hamlet's Castle, Denmark
Hamlet’s Castle, Denmark
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockhom, Sweden
Changing of the Guard, Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Casa de las Rosas,Buenos Aires, Argentina
Casa de las Rosas,Buenos Aires, Argentina

Here are some earlier posts on these locations

 

A to Z Challenge: O = Olympus

O = Olympus

OThe ancient site of Olympus sits near the western coast of Greece. Cruise ships dock at Katakalon, a nice fishing village about 40 minutes from the site. While most ships do plan excursions to the site, it is also easy to take a taxi or a train to get to Olympus. Unlike many archaeological sites, this one feels like a park, with lots of trees, flowers and other vegetation. The day I went started out with rain, but once I got to Olympus, the clouds opened and it was a very nice, clear day.

 

Clouds over Olympus
Clouds over Olympus
Olympus
Olympus
Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus
Temple of Hera
Temple of Hera

The museum close to the site contains some of the statues found in Olympus, including an amazing statue of the Greek God, Hermes. This is also the museum where my friend left her camera (the story is part of the Excursions post).

Definitely worth a visit – you can even try running a race using the marble starting blocks!

Bryan at the starting block
Bryan at the starting block
Racing track
Racing track

A to Z Challenge: N = Naples

N = Naples

NI had a very quick stop in Naples, so I had to pack a lot in a very short time.  Cruise ships dock very close – you can walk off the ship and right into the city and to some amazing sites – or just stroll to the beach! It is very easy to take a boat to one of the nearby islands, including Capri. The train station is also easy to get to, if you want to go to Pompeii for the day (Hint: Bring water when going to Pompeii! Walking around this very large site can make you very thirsty.)

One of my favorite places in Naples is the Archaeological Museum  (and yes, if you saw my post on Malta or Santorini, you can tell I like to look at old stuff). The museum has much of the artwork from Pompeii, including some of the erotica that is collected in the Secret Cabinet or Secret Room. The day I went was very nice – very few people and it was cool compared to the temperatures outside. The bus I needed to take back to the ship never seemed to come, so I grabbed a taxi back to the ship and met a very friendly driver who told me more about Naples and places to go.

Here are some of my favourite pictures, starting with the museum.

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum
Artemis from Ephesus
Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum
Artemis from Ephesus

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum
Cybele

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

 

 

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

Entrance to Naples Archaeological Museum

Statue from Naples Archaeological Museum

Mosaic from Naples Archaeological Museum

The Secret Room

Naples

Naples

Naples