Posts Tagged With: Travel

Views from the Thames

One of the things I really wanted to do on this visit to London was  a trip on the Thames. There are a number of ways you can do this, but if you have the London Pass the hop on/hop off City Cruise is included in the pass. This enables you to get a 24 hour ticket and you can jump on and off all day long. We did use this service one day, but mainly to get from one side of the Thames down back towards the Tower. While we enjoyed the informative commentary that was offered we did not enjoy the school groups that were also on this trip (god only knows where the adults were!), it made for a rather unenjoyable experience and meant that we did not use the service again.

A much better service we thought were the Thames Clipper commuter boats. As they are shipping commuters around there is no commentary (there is an app however to give sightseeing info), but we didn’t really need this. The advantage with these boats is that the seats are better (upholstered, whereas the City Cruises had wooden seats), no school groups (as no commentary), and better schedules. The fare can be paid using your Oyster card and there are plenty of different routes available up and down the Thames.

So here are some more photos taken from the mighty River Thames.

The Shard with the Tower Bridge in the background

Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral

The Walkie-Talkie, Gherkin and Cheesegrater Buildings

HMS Belfast

Categories: London | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More London evening shots

Here are some more shots from our last night in London last week. Low light photography is not really one of my strong subjects, but I think these turned out ok.

Houses of Parliament

On Westminster Bridge

London Eye detail

St Paul’s Cathedral

Tower Bridge

The Tower of London with the Shard in the background

Categories: London | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

London – What a week it’s been

I have been back 5 days now and while normal life has resumed, the memories from London are still very fresh.

Our daughter and I spent 7 nights exploring this exciting city. I love London with its quirky sights and sounds, its busy roads, tubes and pavements, its tourist attractions which are almost always busy, and its hidden gems. This was not our first visit, but the first time we spent longer than 3 days in the city.

A lot of our days were spent walking; walking to attractions, walking the streets of London, walking down the steps to a tube station and then back up again at the other end (I had forgotten the amount of stairs the tube has!!), walking inside the attractions, walking to get food and drink and then finally walking back to our rented apartment.

Thanks to a book called “Walking London” by Andrew Duncan we managed to explore quite a lot of the city. I think our daughter had had quite enough by Day 4, especially as according to her fitness tracker we had walked a record 27,000 steps a few days prior to Day 4. It is a miracle that our feet did not drop off by the end of the week.

Whenever I am in London I always wish that I was a natural street photographer to capture some of the really unique people that call London Town home. Alas, I am not that brave, so will just have to make do with the more traditional style of photographing the city (although I did manage to sneak some photos of a group of young Japanese girls in their traditional dress – more of that later).

On our last night in London we took a water bus down to Westminster and were rewarded with some stunning night sights of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye; below is one of my favourite shots from our last night.

I hope to be able to write and share more of our week in London in upcoming posts in an attempt to revive my blog a little, as I have been rather neglecting this over the past months.

The London Eye at night


Categories: London | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunsets are amazing

Another shot from our recent Caribbean vacation, this time a sunset shot. Sunsets, and sunrises, are amazing, no matter where in the world you are! They are always worth sticking around for.

Sunset in Punta Cana

Categories: Dominican Republic | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Another view

Here is another street view taken in Hameln (Hamelin), Germany,


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An homage to Jules Verne

This photo started off with a tutorial on how to make hot air balloons using the paper weaving method, which I came across on Pinterest. It immediately gave me the idea to create something based on Jules Verne’s book “Around the World in 80 days”. I have always loved the story and the different film versions that have been made; however, my favourite has to be the the original movie from 1956, with David Niven, which won 5 Oscars.

I remember watching the film as a kid and being fascinated by all the different sights and sounds of the places Phileas Fogg (David Niven) and his valet Passepartout visited. The adventure they went on totally swept me away as a kid and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. The excitement of travel, to new or previously visited places, has stayed with me and I am like a little kid let loose in a candy store when I am travelling.


Categories: Creative | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ephesus (Efes) – where ancient history comes to life



In 2007 we took a family trip to Turkey and as part of our stay we went to the ancient city of Ephesus, which is located on Turkey’s western coast near Selcuk, a small town 30km away from Kusadasi.

Ephesus is where you can walk amongst the ruins and get a feeling for what life must have been like in its heyday, when it was the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire, famous for its Temple to Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Library of Celsus and its medical school.

Ephesus, over its 400 year history, was ruled by Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, so there is a rich history to explore and apparently only 25% has so far been excavated

Picture 475-Edit

Legend has it that Androklos, son of Kodros, the King of Athens, and his friends could not decide on a location for a new settlement. They went to the Oracle of Apollo to seek guidance. The oracle told them in typical cryptic fashion that the correct spot for a new settlement would be indicated by a fish and a boar. Mystified by this they set off, and on their first night made camp and proceeded to cook fish for their dinner. The fish inexplicably jump out of its frying pan, thereby scattering flames, which in turn set fire to nearby dry bushes. Out of the flaming bushes ran a boar, which Androklos chased, caught and killed. Thereby the location of the settlement, which became Ephesus, was settled upon.

In ancient times, Ephesus was famous for its Temple to Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana, which was first built around 800 BC. The temple itself had to be rebuilt at least three times due to fire, flood and a mob that was determined to destroy it. With every rebuilt it became larger, more impressive and more beautiful. The author of the list of the Seven Wonders, the Antipater of Sideon, described the Temple of Artemis as being more marvelous than any of the other six wonders. It was made of marble and had 127 60-foot high columns.

The temple was last destroyed in 262 AD by the Goths and it was never rebuilt, probably due to the high cost of construction. It is said that some of the columns of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul were originally part of the Temple of Artemis.

Today the site of the temple is a swamp and remnants of it can be seen in the British Museum in London.

Today tourist flock to see its Library, which in fact was originally built as a mausoleum for the region’s Proconsu Celsus in around 117 AD. The building used marble and was decorated with statues of Eros, Nike, rosettes and garlands in relief.  The builders used an optical illusion to make the building look larger than it was by making the columns at the side shorter than those at the center. Another quirkiness of the building is that the outside shows a two-storey building, but the inside reading area was surrounded by three floors.

The Library of Celus

The Library of Celsus

The library’s capacity was between 12,000 to 15,000 scrolls and made it one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. The scrolls were kept in niches on the walls; the walls were double walls in order to protect the manuscripts from extreme temperatures, humidity and pests.

The interior of the library was burned during the Goth invasion of 262 AD, and in the 10th century an earthquake brought the façade down. The building you see today was restored by the Austrian Archaeological Institute.

Picture 459-Edit

Leading down to the Library is a street that to this day gives a glimpse of what it might have looked like in its day – Curetes Street, named after the priests that took care of the flame of the Prytaneion. This street was once full of fountains, monuments, statues and shops, which on the south side of the street, were two-storey buildings.

One of the main streets leading down to the Library

One of the main streets leading down to the Library

At the top end of this street stands the Gate of Hercules; named so because of the reliefs of Hercules that adorn the columns, which date from the 2nd century. Today only the two sides of the gate remain, other parts having been lost in time. This gate narrowed access to the Curetes Street, preventing vehicles to pass and thereby creating a pedestrian area. It is said that if you walk through the gate with your arms outstretched and are able to touch both columns as you walk through, it will bring you good luck.

Herucles' Gate

The Gate of Hercules

The other incredible structure in Ephesus is the Theatre, which could seat 25,000 people. It was built during the third century BC during the reign of Lysimachos and was enlarged during the Roman Period to the size you see today. The Theatre has a total of sixty-six rows of seats, divided by two walkways between the seats. Seats are divided into three sections; the Emperor’s Box was in the lower section, together with the important citizens, who had the luxury of seats with marble backs. The Theatre was not just used for concerts and plays, but it also features religious, political and philosophical discussions, and gladiators and animals also fought in this arena.

The Theatre

The Theatre

Picture 496-Edit

Ephesus has many great examples of mosaics; they come in all sizes, shapes and colours, and some of them are very well preserved and show what wealth there must have been in this metropolis.

One of many mosaics in the city

One of many mosaics in the city

This site really does bring history alive. There are communal toilets showing the advance drainage system invented by the Romans. Near the Library you can see road markers in the form of a left foot with a woman’s head next to it, giving you directions that the nearest brothel is on the left side of the road.

Ephesus is also known for one of the many places St. Paul the Apostle preached and where the Virgin Mary lived her last years of her life.

Outside of Athens, this is probably one of my favourite archeological sites and makes me wish I lived closer to be able to visit it again, and again, and again.

A very good example of the ornate Library building

A very good example of the ornate Library building

Categories: European History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

I am planning another big trip – and this time I’m taking the family

Yes folks, it’s true – another big trip is looming for this summer and I am taking the family along (crazy, I know). Well I had to really, as I don’t think they would have liked me very much if I went off travelling on my own again!

It has been 5 years since we moved to Canada, and since then I have been the only one to go back home for one week (unfortunately for a funeral); so we thought it is high time that we went back home to Europe for a family visit. However, those of you who followed my Alaskan adventure know that I don’t do things half-hearted, so this is a family trip that will take us to four european capitals in four weeks. Our itinerary will take us from Calgary to Dublin to spend some time with our Irish friends, then over to Manchester in the UK to visit my husband’s family. From there we will travel by car down to see some of our old Army friends, who happen to currently live near Stonehenge, so naturally we will be making a little side trip to see the big stones. After that it’s over to Andover for some more visiting with friends before heading back to Aldershot, so our teenage daughter can revisit her childhood hometown. Then its off to London Town for a few days to play tourists. For the first time ever, we will be taking the Eurostar train to get to Paris, just in time for our daughter’s sixteenth birthday, which she wants to see in on the top of the Eiffel Tower (I’m working on it!). After having spent some days enjoying Paris we will be taking the TGV down to Angouleme to meet with our friends from the UK, who recently bought a property in the Cognac region. We shall be spending a blissful 8 days with them and hopefully enjoying the sun, pool and vineyards before heading back to Paris for one more night and then taking a plane over to Hannover, Germany to spend the rest of our holiday with my family. As part of our Germany trip we will be going to Berlin to visit my little nephew, who is turning 6 this year.

So, all in all, a pretty busy trip, with lots of time for family and friends and lots of interesting sights to be explored. I will try to blog along the way, internet access permitting (again, I’m working on it). The planning started a couple of weeks ago and I have to admit that all the major items have now been booked (you have to book early these days to get the flights and hotels you want) and I am now in the second planning phase – the travel book kind. I know I shouldn’t really need one for London, having been there many times, but I wanted to get some tips from the one guy who really knows how to make the most of a trip and see some sights that are not necessarily all that well-known, but are really interesting – Rick Steves. Now, if you live outside of North America, chances are you may not have heard of Rick, but let me tell you, he is the authority on travel in the US and Canada! I first saw his travel TV series some 15 years ago, when we were first posted to Canada, on good old PBS. I love his approach to travel and experiencing your new surroundings and he is always very practical. So, I bought his books to help me along with our travel plans for all 4 countries. I am currently reading up on Paris and I cannot wait to get over there and see everything it has to offer.

In anticipation of this fab trip I created the collage below with the help of a tutorial posted in the Elements Village Forum – thanks Hans for posting it! It took me much longer than I anticipated, as I hadn’t done this sort of thing in Elements before, but I stuck with it  and somehow got to the end product (not entirely sure how), although I have not figured out how to change the background colour, despite following the instructions, it’s something that eluded me late last night.

Here is to Europe!

Europe Banner


Categories: Europe Trip 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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