Wellington new stock images New Zealand

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New Wellington stock images to show some of the vibrant creative capital city recently added to http://www.brianscantlebury.com stock photo library

Wellington is a cosmopolitan city with an energetic personality. Please click on the images here to link through to these and more similar Wellington stock photos.

Windy Wellington sign on hillside at Miramar

Windy Wellington sign on hillside at Miramar in white corrugated iron mounted on side of hill to look like it is blowing away with Weta Cave tourism sign below.

The city is surrounded by wonderful scenic bays

Evans Bay panorama from Shelly beach Road Wellington

Evans Bay from Shelly beach Road Wellington

Titahi Bay, Wellington, New Zealand

Titahi Bay, Wellington New Zealand

Rocky foreshore at Breaker Bay  at entrance to  Wellington Harbo

rocky foreshore at Breaker Bay at entrance to Wellington Harbour

Some with classic old beach or boat sheds

Titahi Bay boatsheds Wellington, New Zealand

Titahi individually leased and painted boat-sheds along the beach Wellington New Zealand

Coastal road around Wellington harbour Lowry Bay with bright col

Coastal road around Wellington harbour Lowry Bay with bright coloured boat shed.

Skerrett Boat Shed

Skerrett Boat Shed Lowry Bay Eastbourne Wellington white weatherboard construction with olive green door owned by Hutt City Council in February 2016

 

Titahi Bay, Wellington, New Zealand

Rufus, the owner of this homely shed had just returned from his morning paddle in Titahi Bay, Wellington New Zealand

And the city waterfront is constantly busy and interesting whter is people watching, the coastal scenery, the public art trail or old architecture one can spend hours there and still miss so much

Summer day on Wellington waterfront

Summer day people enjoying Wellington waterfront strolling along the esplanade watching and relaxing in warm coastal public space.

Mooring ropes lying on dock Oriental Bay Boat sheds  and boats a

Mooring ropes lying on dock Oriental Bay Boat sheds and boats across bay Wellington New Zealand

Old white weathered warehouse buildings Shelly Beach Road, Miram

Old white weathered warehouse buildings Shelly Beach Road, Miramar, Wellington New Zealand

Markets like the Porirua Market enable a visitor to share some of the life and cultures

 

 

Like any cosmopolitan city, there are the characters and street scenes that captivate too

Wellington street car window washer Willis Street cleans windscr

Street scene of bare backed with spiky hair Wellington street car window washer Willis Street cleans windscreen of car stopped at intersection lights

Wellington architecture

Wellington wooden architecture old shop building now coffee outlet and Fidel’s cafe

Wellington architecture Shepherd's Arms Hotel in Tinakori.

Wellington architecture Shepherd’s Arms Hotel in Tinakori Road dates from around 1870, this laid-back hotel in the historic Thorndon suburb .

 

Red car in front vintage effect cottage in Tinakori Street, Well

Red car in front vintage effect cottage in Tinakori Street, Wellington

 

Outdoor cafe patrons on Evans Bay,Shelly Beach Road Wellington

Outdoor cafe patrons enjoying the activity and warmth on Evans Bay Shelly Beach Road Wellington

 

Inside the historic Railway Station

 

Night scenes around the spectacular harbour enthrall anyone taking a walk after dark.

City lights across bay Wellington New Zealand

City lights across Oriental BAy to boat sheds and city buildings Wellington New Zealand

City lights across Jervois Road with The Rugby World Cup Celebra

Hectic night scene of buildings, streets, lights tram lines and power poles across Jervois Road with The Rugby World Cup Celebration sculpture in small park Wellington New Zealand

Te Aho a Māui split pyramid sculpture with path through leading

Light effects created by zoom blur through Te Aho a Māui split pyramid sculpture with path leading to Civic Square and city lights and scenes Wellington New Zealand

And there is so much more – Wellington

 

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Munich & Stuttgart the end of our 2017 European trip with thousands of photos and memories we head home.

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Germany, land of engineering excellence, great cars, historic cities, good wine, tons of photographic opportunities, and reluctantly I have to say, disappointing coffee.

And for more travel and photographic images please check my Instagram account and website; www.instagram.briansphotography.com/ and www.brianscantlebury.com

Guten tag,

Munich, Germany-4

Munich Rathaus, city hall, in Marienplatz.. One of the largest Gothic buildings I’ve seen.

Arrived in Munich by train, about 40 minutes late. Not that it mattered much to us, but it’s interesting for me at least to find that the German reputation for efficiency and service is not all to be believed. The trains we’ve been on have a comparatively low level of facility, ie mostly no wifi, no extras, bottles of water etc, and then late on this last trip. You can see it’s all adding up.

Did our usual city wander by afternoon then out for a cheap meal, and a short stroll after dark.

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Architectural variation adds to the city’s interest too. This building, sits adjacent to the massive Gothic Rathaus, city hall in Marienplatz.

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A city with good mix wide streets and narrow lanes often curving creating the disconnectedness in the city.

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People relax late in day while children play on a water feature without water at one end of Marienplatz.

Our hotel has absolutely crap wifi service. The worst we’ve experienced anywhere on tour. It is handy location-wise albeit interestingly in “Little Arabia”. Walking distance to station and central city points of interest.

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The hookah boys, set up for a puff opposite our hotel entrance, Munich.

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We arrived outside Rathaus simultaneously with a raucous group of chanting, drum playing, placard carrying protesters. Couldn’t decerne the cause, but they were certainly enthusiastic about it.

Took the train to Dachau this morning. Spent several hours at the concentration camp memorial. What an experience. Man, what those poor buggers had to put up with at the mercy of the Nazi’s is beyond comprehension. We have all gotten to believe this anyway, but seeing this memorial, a really well presented museum with tons of imagery and information boards was a really moving experience. Overwhelming. Could only take about a third of it in. That was enough. Another city walk tonight. Munich is another really interesting city, historically, architecturally and culturally.

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Dachau bunker building on right side of yard with barracks on left. The whole concentration camp museum covers an amazing area but no where near large enough to house with any level of humanity the number that Nazis forced in.. This is just a small part of it. At times there were over 60,000 here at one time.

Corridor and and cell interior through inspection opening in door from corridor of bunker block

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Memorial sculpture in grounds of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial museum. Feels more than a little grotesque to me.

The BMW Museum is a worthwhile experience for any visitor to Munich. About 15 minutes from central station and you arrive at the BMW plant, museum and BMW Welt (World). The cars, company history and the marvelous architecture will ensure you find this an interesting outing regardless of your auto enthusiasm.

Arriving at these peak tourist attractions is a hectic experience. Usually 2 or 4 buses seem to have heard we’ll be there and arrive simultaneously disgorging the thousands (or so it seems) tourists all jostling for prime position with their forest of selfie-sticks waving in the breeze. Yuk!

the architecture and cars are equally impressive. Sorry no photos of cars, but you know what they look like.

Marienplatz underground station,

Public transport is never much fun. Undergrounds less so, however when you come across an exception, it is a pleasant surprise that takes the edge of the less desirable aspects of undergrounds etc. The Marienplatz station Munich.

Last day in Munich. Rained all night, still drizzling when we arise. Being Sunday everything closed, except McDonalds. So that’s our breakfast venue.

Then we walk in the drizzle to the Pinakothek der Moderne, What a wonderful gallery. Art, installations and the interior architecture defy the what from the spartan outside concrete block construction. Then the afternoon is filled with a walk through the English Gardens. What a feature to have in middle of city. Rivers, creeks, trees, fields and of course people. As rain stops becomes quite pleasant, though still overcast and cold. High today 14. Have had up to 26 over the last week.

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Pinakothek der Moderne, art installation, Audi car. This pace is filled with tremendous installations, design products, modern and masters art works. This installation is on a wall about 4 meters high.

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Runner in red on one of the many tracks around and through the English Gardens, Munich.

So, once again we training, Munich to Stuttgart. Once on and settled very relaxed way to travel.

Scenery changes from urban/industrial on outskirts of Munich to attractive rural and back to industrial as we approach Stuttgart about 2 hours later.

Once into hotel we head off for a walk around city, and back for the evening drinks in our room. The usual cheap as hell bottle of wine and cheeze and crackers. the latter have to be cleaned up on the night we buy them due to the fact that most accommodation in this part of the world provides neither fridges nor tea and coffee making facilities in your room. At this time I’m in for another disappointment. The hotel, Novum Boulevard in city centre, bills as it’s top benefit free high speed wifi. Well, its the worst. Thought the last place set the record for that, bugger me, no this one leaves it for dead. I give up after an hour. At almost 10.00 pm I manage to successfully logon. Then it takes over 10 minutes to upload this web page to the stage above this paragraph. Sure as hell makes me want to revert to snail mail. Could have bloody near walked home with the message in the time wasted on this, and the hotel doesn’t want to know. Claim no one else has complained.. agggah.

Stuttgart night street and building scene, Kino arthouse theater

Neon signage of retro styled art-house movie theatre in the street behind.

Stuttgart has a city population of about 600,000 and a wider metropolitan number about 6 mill. Of course its the home of Mercedes, Porsche, to name the obvious. Weather deteriorates and limits our activities to wandering the city streets.

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Mercury standing proudly in one of the city squares surrounded by buildings displaying an array of traditional architectural styles.

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Alte Schloss, old castle. we’re in the courtyard of this castle which origins date back to 10th century.

And on last day venturing by train to the Mercedes Museum.

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The Mercedes Museum, a 16,000 square metre building.

Worth the effort. Weather a little inclement, windy, cool and odd spot of rain. Mercedes have integrated a history lesson into the evolution of their brand. Well done, though we both think the BMW experience was more embracing.

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Following the Merc Museum we head for the train again and on a bit to visit a town we’ve heard was unscathed by the WW2 bombing and thus retains much of its original atmosphere and buildings. It’s a really pretty place, Esslingen.

So Stuttgart ends our 2017 European tour. We fly out at 7.45 tomorrow, means getting to airport at about 5.45. Asking hotel reception for a 4.30 wake up call elicits an incredulous response, but our request is eventually accepted.

We leave the land of biergartens, pretzels and crap coffee with enough photos to keep us busy for next six months. In case you are wondering the wifi hasn’t improved either. For a country thats an engineering world leader, produces some of the best autos money can buy we are left wondering why they haven’t put the same energy into the little things like useful wifi, decent coffee, trains with facilities that match those in other countries we’ve travelled.

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Check this out guys, here’s another surprise that greeted me in our last hotel room. Which one of you were they expecting?

Otherwise, been really enjoyable, lots to see, lots more in fact than we’ve gotten to, and lots to learn. The history, as you surely know is amazing for us little antipodeans.

So for now it’s auf wiedersehen,

Classic city – Vienna in 4 days then on to the Sound of Music city – Salzburg. Europe 2017

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And for more travel and photographic images   www.instagram.briansphotography.com/ and www.brianscantlebury.com

Train from Prague to Vienna. Confusion reigns as normal in these places. Half, at least, of the intending passengers running round in circles. Eventually most if not all of us board and take our seats.

Vienna, Austria

It’s a drizzly day, the train takes us through expansive flat largely featureless landscape occasionally interrupted by what appeared to be economically starved towns. In these the buildings and rail yards appeared as if they’d been forgotten long long ago. Totally lacking upkeep, a property managers nightmare. Reminded me of those Soviet/East German era magazine and film images we all saw back then. I couldn’t motivate myself to take a picture, so desolate they were on an already grey day. Regret that now.

As we approached Vienna that changed, the rural scenes of cultivated land and industrial areas as we approached urban areas showed signs of life.

Vienna has a few surprises. Firstly its a city of 2 million and possibly the cleanest and best ordered place we have seen. Initially it all looks a bit monotone, in a sepia kind of way.  But as you find your way around it turns out to be quite a delight. We are located by the Rathaus (City hall) area.  Great name that in English, would to apply it back home!

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Rathaus Platz Park, divided by beautifully tree lined walks with so much bench seating lining all paths I reckon most of Tauranga could be seated there at one time.

A  beautifully kept park are pretty much adjacent to our hotel. It’s Saturday and we find Rathaus Platz is busy with workmen installing a large screen, seating and other stuff for the last night of month long film festival. This has been run around the city with the events of last 2 nights centred here.

10 minutes walk sees us in the Museum Quartier. and only short walks to trams and underground to most of the city.  However, as we find seeing is better walking, we spend the day doing that.

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Some of magnificent stained glass window in churches here. These are in a church I haven’t seen in the tourist material, but a real beaut anyway. The Votive Church, a beaut neo-Gothic structure, like many of the building we’d like to photograph the exterior is largely covered up for renovation.

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This one is on the tourist list, St. Stephen’s, as you can see partly under reno too. Again well worth stopping by even though you may feel you are churched out

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We see heaps of church images, towering spires,Gothic steeples,fabulous stained glass windows, sure you do too,  but here’s one of offer candles and a lady lighting one in St Stephen’s Vienna.

Amongst all the museums and galleries, a must see from I reckon, if you have any interest in art is the Hundertwasser Museum, if art is not your thing the Hundertwasser weird and wonderful apartments, not far from the museum, are certainly worth a visit.

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Hundertwasserhaus, or the Hundertwasser Apartments, wonderfully eclectic as was his art and he himself.

We use the underground, so called even though much of it is overground, to get out to the Schoenbrunn Palace. Actually a tip here, we’ve found its generally best to buy a 1, 2 or 3 bus pass which gets you on all public transport. Cost less than the so called Vienna Pass which also offer discounts. Seems hard to earn the cost of those discounts. Together with the Museum Quartier these are must sees. Worth heading to Vienna just to see these.

To the Schoenbrunn, I rate this a must see too. comprising some 40 massive and incredibly decorated rooms. or at least these are the ones we saw, reckon there could be double that.Explanations of the rooms and their uses give an interesting history of the Habsburg family.

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Magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace with it’s little train and one of the fountain ponds in foreground and the city of Vienna in background.

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The Gloriette in distance beyond palace gardens through wrought iron balastrade on rear porch of palace, one of large white pieces of statuary, large fountain and one of the many wide tree lined boulevards leading through gardens to palace. Vienna, Austria-240Vienna, Austria-168

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Graffiti in this city seems contained largely to river banks and underground. Here on walls of the Danube canal under one of the many bridges.

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And amongst all the historic architecture there is an area of modern too. Known colloquially as UNO city.

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Vienna night street scene, Volkstheater across intersection.

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Vienna night street scene, along street of our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s Vienna,  classic city, clean city, “now and forever” as they say

On the train again, headed for the city named after a pile of salt and that gave us the Sound of Music, and of course Mozart, Salzburg.

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Rural scenes along route from Vienna to Salzburg through train window at 150 kph.

 

The scenery en-route is generally lovely field patterns of rural cropping,  small towns and villages scattered throughout. Very attractive. get a little more hilly especially close to Salzburg, and some of those architecturally traditional  homes become part of the view.

Our first afternoon is taken up with a walk to the other side of the river. That’s where all tourists head. It comprises acres of classy shops set on narrow winding streets around squares of plazas surrounded by more shops and restaurants. Each square has at least one phenomenal church. this whole area is nestled into a the surrounding rock face of the hills.

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Quaint streets crowded with tourists and big brand stores. Evening lights add to the atmosphere.

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Outdoor chess set by the big golden ball with man on top in Kapitelplatz beside Salzburg cathedral near rock face catacombs.

path through St. Peter’s Cemetery to catacombs, and the rock staircase to first level of the catacombs.

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One of the incredibly beautiful domes inside Salzburg Cathedral

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One of a row of interesting artifacts in the crypt under the cathedral, the devil casts his shadow!!!

 

Plenty of street  music  here, all that I heard pretty good too.

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young quartet playing modern in a classical way right there in the shadow of the shadow of the master – Mozart’s statue. Great stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Long exposure night street scene

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Returning to our hotel the river presented a terrific opportunity for some shots. This one about 30 seconds shows calm river, although it flows at about 4 knots, with city lights and reflections.

 

Next morning, took a bus tour to the lakes district. Before leaving, visited the Mirabell Gardens. Another destination worth the effort.

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Very pretty landscapes on the way through hills. Wide green grassy slopes and valleys between high mountains that are just  all around. The animals too  don’t seem to let them lose to eat all the lush grass. Most herds seem to be about 10 -20 cattle. How that works economically I don’t know.  EU subsidies??

The drive takes though or past a dozen or so villages and hamlets. Much of the traditional architecture we associate with Austrian hillside villages.

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Traditional style Austrian country house.

The lakes  scenic area is another must do here.

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The lovely Mondsee Lake in the hills around Salzburg.

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Where whoever it was that got married in the Sound of Music Story, the magnificent steps to main alter of St Michael’s Minor Basilica

Decided to book a Mozart Concert & dinner in Salzburg Fortress. that massive building that overlooks the city from a high vantage point.

From the Fortress two views of the city, 1st before dusk, then after dark.

And finally from Austria,

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No report on Salzburg would be complete with a look at Mozart’s birthplace. The rear of the building he was reputedly born in.

 

 

Hong Kong travel advice – don’t do this. Don’t buy from this place…Long View Digital

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If you find youself in this joint you will do yourself a favour by getting the hell out of there. Wish I did.

Recently upgraded my trusty old Sony A900 dslr camera to the new A7 R11. What a beaut this is proving to be, but this is not a review of the camera, it is about an embarrassing experience that when told will hopefully help someone avoid someone a similar indignity.

Kowloon, Hong Kong

If you find yourself in a place that looks like this, my advice – GET OUT.

I received my new camera a day or 2 before heading off on a European multi-city photoshoot. I obtained a 24-70 leans and could not get delivery of the other lenses required at short notice. Calling into Hong Kong en-route I believed,from adverts I’d read, that I should be able to pick what I wanted and perhaps quite economically.

In short, do not buy from this or any similar outfit if you value your wallet.

Long View Digital Co and Good View Digital – Hong Kong.

I arrived in Hong Kong late at night and was looking forward to hitting the streets for a little sightseeing, firing off some shots on my new camera and hopefully finding a source of lenses.

My excitement was piqued when I saw a number of camera stores claiming Sony as one of their range.

I knew what i wanted. Dropped into a few of these stores, was impressed by the offers, but this where it gets weird. They could all offer me at great prices for what i wanted. In the end one of these “super friendly” salesman convinced me to buy. Why not? I’ll tell you why.

Now ive ageed apparently its not in stock but we’ll have it in 10 mimutes. Someone is despatched to collect it. He never returns and by now about salsman number 3 is charmingly conversing with me.

So tactic 1. Yes in stock.

Tactic 2. Sorry we’ll get, take 10 minutes. Pay now and we’ ll get it. Uh, no, I’ll pay when i have it in my hands. Ok they say.

Tactic 3. Rotate salemen

Tactic 4. Start “helpfully and to fill the time” showing other products.

Tactic 5. Rotate salesman again.

Tactic 6. 30 minutes have now gone by. “This is a better product” try it. Great price? Great extras thrown in. Now close to an hour, still waiting for the ordered product at the agreed price to arrive .

Tactic 7. Really push the point that the now offered product is a better option, better quality etc, and they offer to add some extras to sweeten the deal.

Then somehow, unbelievably, we agree.

Tactic 8. They then produce an invoice (saying it guarantee, ask that you sign.

When looked at in the cold light of my hotel room, I find the price they use is far below the price given in the sore. The total is correct, but only by adding in the freebees at inflated prices.

Everything is put in bag, much patting on back etc, and effort to introduce something else to buy. Escape.

Back at hotel, the new lens is tried out. It malfunctions on both my cameras. So straight back to the shop. Explain, to of course a whole new group of salesmen, the problems. They say can’t be so, pull all sorts of stunts, talking amongst themselves in Chinese all the while. I then demand either the original product at offered price, or a refund. Now they say have to get the manager. Another 15 minute wait.

Finally Jacky arrives. I know his h=name because I ask, but I’ll bet that’s not for real either. After heated discussion I’m shown only a refund at a 30% discount.

When I argue about that I’m shown some small print on the “guarantee” that supports their discount claim.

Now how in the hell did all this happen. I don’t know, but to admit I was totally suckered by professionals. Embarrassing as I say as someone who is used to dealing and negotiating and knew exactly what I wanted.

But here’s another thing. When I say I want what was originally ordered I’m presented with another price, double what was originally offered. I say, and show the notes written at time of early discussion. I’m told that that price is not possible. So now we see the strategy always was to make a great offer, deceive about provision, then work on the buyer (me) until they pull off another sale.

Of course proving I was lied to is now impossible because the “group” who gave me the good price werew nowhere to be seen and their names were not known to the current group. Of course.

Absolute con-manship.

I’m passing through again soon and hope to get some photos of the offending store to update this post. However, these will not be necessary if you just heed one stupid guys big mistake.

I’m sure there are others who get caught by these Nathan Road and the surrounding Hong Kong street con-men in flash shops.

Don’t become one.

Our travels and travails continue. We’re here, city of sights, Prague – Europe 2017

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And more travel and photographic images   www.instagram.briansphotography.com/ and www.brianscantlebury.com

Yes, truly the city of sights. The architecture, the historic buildings, castles and churches,the streetscapes, the scenic river, and the fairyland by night, truly the city of sights.

Our intro to Prague is probably not the first thing that’s remembered by most visitors.

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Prague, the city, new and old and other bits, straddle the river Vyton, or Vitava. Beautiful blue under clear blue sky

Picked up at train station and delivered to our accommodation we’re greeted before even getting in the door by the owner, Kristina. An effervescent lady and so full of information, she should really be Prague’s tourism ambassador. Coffee in hand she quickly settles into redrawing the city map with helpful notations and small pictures. Brilliant assistance that proved to be. The Aparthotel in Prague is a 20 minute walk from centre, if that’s not a problem it’s my 5 star recommendation. A “boutique  hotel” with a wonderfully friendly, fun and super-helpful owner. excellent continental breakfasts are reasonable price to boot. Kristina’s more of a host than a hotel operator.

Following our induction to Prague, dropping our bags we head off on the first recommended walk, into the Old Town and Charles Bridge. I’d read the best time to “see” the Charles Bridge was about 6 in morning. We learn why. It’s chokka full of those pesky tourists who are always in my way when I’m shooting, peddlers selling their pictures, jewelry, and other sundry items. Shoulder to shoulder we march back and forth before heading into the town.

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Popularity of the oldest bridge across the river, The Charles Bridge, is soon proven correct. I return at 6.00 next morning before most touring revelers are up. The bridge history dates back to 1300’s, known for its towers at both ends and the statues at each support, these reputedly added over years by posterity chasing Praguers

I get up early next morning and head back. Certainly not too many people there, but clearly others had read the same info I had. A few hundred people now scattered waiting for the perfect shot of sunrise over the monumental east end tower. Of course a maintenance crew had to drive the Goddam big truck, park right in the middle and proceed to carry out some repair or other. Nice for those who’d got up early and made effort to get there ahead of the crowds, including the 3 wedding groups there for the photos of their lifetime.

Evening street scenes.

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A couple of Old Town restaurants. The bottom one in a back street served us well.

As with all tourist hot spots restaurants are everywhere. Of course we are in a foreign land and so the things usual to us don’t always apply. Like in may parts of Europe when you order a meal they deliver a basket of bread, sure its often dry, like it’s about 3 days old. I guess its not really, but certainly it different for us. Here’s a beaut in getting caught out though;
We pick a restaurant at one end on Wenceslas Square. Not one of the ones above. Now I know you’ll likely say serves you right for restauranting in the mid of the tourist centre as opposed to heading out a little. After  being dragged in by the staff at the menu board, we sit down, eventually someone arrives to take our order. Anne has been repeating herself all day about wanting to try traditional Czech food. Firstly, parched after a day long wander in 25+degrees we  seek a gin and soda. 3 minutes of discussion in broken English/Czech (which we are totally inadequate at) we learn the flat soda is extra. Oh well, need it. Then the food order is being placed. A chicken dish is ordered, at which the waitress turns the menu page points to and says you need bread too, NO not needed says Anne. You must its compulsory and it’s 100 koruna. This EU member  doesn’t use the Euro as standard currency. Then shrugging and giving up on that , we’re told the stands of pretzel sticks on the table are for us, complimentary, well that’s what we believed was said. Not being fans of these anyway, we take one each, nibble the end and deposit the balance on a plate. Then “compulsory bread” arrives, its one little bun with a wedge of butter. Be thankful for small mercies my mother used to say, in this case the small mercy was the butter, not that the bun was big, it wasn’t. and it had an exterior as hard as an Amsterdam madam.  Would have been easier to eat concrete! The fun of travel. For the rest of it meal was ok though. Then came the bill. Gin, water, bread, meals,and bloody pretzels all accounted for. No discount for fact the pretzels were still largely intact! What would travel be without these stories? Then came the stand-over tactics. On bottom of bill comment tips are optional and 3 sets of tip calculations for our convenience. Actually, when we arrived we’re told can pay with card for food and drink, tips must be cash. This was repeated at least 3 times during our meal. I pay on card and the waitress stands there saying tips must be in cash, again and again. I nod sagely, I understand, so? She ain’t going anywhere. Tips are optional the message says. Seems to us she’s saying “like hell”. So I fish into my pocket and pull out coins that must amount to about 50% of the minimum helpful calculation and put them down. She glares disapprovingly at my coins. I say no other cash. She “gracefully” grabs them and says thank you very much as she rushes off to the next set of suckers.

A “fun” experience, but I must say way from typical here. Generally, very courteous and friendly and they try hard.

We’ve had two beautiful, though hot, cloudless days in a row, we’ve seen a lot of fantastic historic buildings, walked a million miles and got lost in the old city late at night, twice and Anne is still on about a traditional Czech meal, not sure of the connection, but thought I’d mention it anyway. We head out to Vysehrad a top of a hill significant Gothic church, magnificent little graveyard full of Czech notables (dead of course), and a chance to catch a sunset. Another excellent suggestion by Kristina. After a climb, a wander through the graves and a wait for a sunset that didn’t eventuate (that’s nature for you). We head down to a restaurant we passed on way up stating it provided traditional food. The menu looked interesting, but turns out without a booking no chance at 8.00 pm of getting in. Bugger. Walk on, come across another where judging from what we can hear all the diners are local. Seems worth a try. On the menu are these things we’ve seen on menus everywhere – dumplings. I decide it’s time, dumplings with roast pork. Well they duly arrive, interesting but you’d have to be hungrier than me. Anyway the meal was pretty good and reasonable.

We are at Prague Castle for changing of the guard.

Our wanders expose us to streets and streets of wonderful old European architecture.

Colourful streets.

 

Old Town night scenes we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t allowed ourselves to “free run” (get lost in Anne’s terms)

With a little impressionist input, an almost fairy-world look to the Old Town Square cathedral.

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So much to see here. Today wandered past a church with crypt under. In we went. Turns out it was the church crypt that Czech soldiers hid in after their assassination of a SS commander and where the Nazi’s hunted them down and shot them. Incredible history.

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Places for coffins where the Czech soldiers attempted to hide from Nazis, the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius crypt.

Architectural detail is everywhere

And at the other end of the square to our now fabled dining experience;

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Silhouetted the Good King Wenceslas on his charger with flag aloft. He must have been good as not long after he was assassinated.

An interesting public art piece in entrance to the Dancing Building.

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Dancing building with architectural input from Frank Gehry.

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Night lights along river from railway bridge

Like much of the continent, use of public toilets incurs a fee. By the time you find one the need has often become urgent, if not critical. There’s usually someone standing in your way right when you least appreciate it, asking for 50 krona. As you fumble for your money/wallet and wait for the change the fear that your pants may be employed for something you’d rather they weren’t. No photos of this though!

The more one wanders, the more one sees. And we have seen so much more, but this is hopefully a small expose to our experiences in Prague

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Prague Castle and other architectural gems across river

And another dam! This time Rotterdam to Berlin Europe travels and travails 2017

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 A small selection of  comments and images from a couple of big city experiences and photos,
More images on instagram :   http://www.instagram.com/briansphotography/ 

Train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is not a long journey. Certainly worth the effort.

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Amsterdam station while we wait for our train

Departing and travelling through essentially rural land, farms interspersed with small villages and farm cottages and buildings. Can’t help but be impressed by flatness of land which is divided not by fences but irrigation drains.

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Dutch rural landscape through train window

Rotterdam is a delight. I reckon a must do, if you’re visiting this part of the world especially if historic and modern architecture is of any interest. Could have done with a few more days there, but hopefully we got to the main points of interest. But did encounter a couple of surprises.

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Inside the spectacular Market Hall – Markthal

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Mural ceiling in Markthal, Rotterdam

 

 

 

Any interest in architecture, especially modern and quirky, will be piqued in this city.

 

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Markthal large glass building ends reflect surrounding urban features,

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Calypso, a building including more than 200 apartments, shops, and parking.

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Corner of Inntel Hotels black building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Famous yellow Cube Houses

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Four buildings each with unique design characteristics

 

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Street scene with white Swan Bridge and background buildings across river

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Erasmus or Swan white cable stay bridge with two unique buildings.

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Rotterdam’s old port area in front background towering buildings.

Public art plays a big art in the Rotterdam urban landscape. There are some 200 pieces on permanent display around the city. Here’s a couple.

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Cascade, an sculpture of old cans and and flowing human figures stands 8 metres tall.

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Brightly coloured geometric sculpture near Erasmus Bridge. Black front view of Inntel Hotel building.

Scam alert!

An interesting experience, that could have become frightening, saw us approached by well dressed man asking the name of the area we were in at the time. He persisted with his enquiry then out of the blue two tall also suited men arrived from nowhere, said they were police, had swingers around their necks intended to convey some official role. They asked for our passports. Uh oh. Immediately we started to move away with me saying we didn’t believe them. at this they said OK, and walked off. A scam to watch out for.

So for the next day and some relief from the city walking and such intrusions we head to the Kinderdijk area and the windmills so synonymous with the Netherlands.

There are other scenic aspects of Rotterdam worthy of ones time to enjoy too.

Gardens, historic buildings, museums, galleries and the river combine to make this amost interesting city.

And like the rest of the country, bicycles and ubiquitous, but here’s what apparently happens if you lock yours where you shouldn’t. Rotterdam Holland-4-2

Note the little sign on post above the handle bars!

Speaking about security, on our last night got a message from our foreign affairs ministry advising extreme caution. There had been a terror alert for the city and a rock concert for some American band with the stupid name of Allah-Las cancelled. Saw little of no evidence of the problem on way to the station. Guess this is just part of life for now.

Advice if travelling to Rotterdam and have any interest in art and architecture, allow more time, or run everywhere. For m, much of the fun of  travel is all about the unexpected, the things that catch you and the things that go wrong. Well not much has here, but here’s a travel travel tip for Rotterdam. Our hotel is part of a chain, large modern property. It’s as hot as hell and I can’t find the aircon control. Ask at reception only to be told, oh no you’ve you’ve booked a standard room. You’ll need to upgrade for to have that. Now I know why it’s called airCON. Bit like Air New Zealand, they are stripping services and then offering them back at additional cost. Huh, conned again.

Rotterdam by train to Berlin-15 (2)Back to the train, en-route to Berlin. Orderly crops in rural Holland. Interestingly, to me anyway, about the time we crossed the border the orderliness of the Dutch landscape became a disheveled rural outlook. This smoothed scene from the train disguises the real look.Rotterdam by train to Berlin-22

In a couple of stops we are joined by Andreas.

A doctor in zoology it turns out, who is very helpful confirming Anne’s plans for Berlin and adding a few ideas as well.

Berlin, graffiti city. Its everywhere. Why its put up with I cannot workout. Great shame.The city presents us with a series of contrasts, the old and new, the historic and the ultra-modern, the historic and the graffiti vandalism and amazing memorials and museums relating to WW2 and the fall of Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

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Memorial to holocaust and surrounding buildings

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From a hole chiseled by an East German, a symbolic glimpse of the other side, now part of a museum display.

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From an audio visual of the time of the wall. Graffiti even then ever present on the western side.

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Brandenburg Gate

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Friedrichstrasse looking toward railway over-bridge along tramlines.

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Projected light-show

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Projected light-show

 

 

 

 

 

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The Spree from bridge on Freidrickstrasse. Berliner Fernsehturm TV tower beyond church dome.

 

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Amazing modern architecture including Sony Centre on right. Image does not show the real intricacy of the these amazing buildings.

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Incredible dome over atrium and public space in Sony Centre.

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Most of so-called street art is not up to this standard. Many unused doorways have been attacked, or if your view is different “enhanced”. A good one.

Another must see if you visit Berlin is the town of Potsdam, about 45 minute train ride away. Believing we were headed to a little town that we could take in in a few hours we trained there. Really a few days would have been the proper option. It’s population is about 170,000, its is another film centre and has some amazing castles or the like, with significant Nazi SS history. Well worth an allocation of a lot more time than we gave it. Wish we’d known more before going.

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Potsdam’s own Brandenburg Gate.

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Potsdam’s Film Museum building

Diners in Berlin courtyard

Diners in courtyard of Oranienburger Strasse Berlin. The buildings and courtyard were left derelict after reunification until some arty types got the property put under control of a sympathetic owner and then set about enlivening it with businesses, galleries and restaurants.

For our final night we strolled 2-4 k’s to the Potsdamer Platz area for dinner in the Sony Centre and some more night street and architecture photos then by the Gate and Reichstag again

Leaving Berlin, the realisation that the number of museum, memorials and galleries collectively deserve a reasonably long stay. As always there so much more to see.

There’s so much about war and the wall you could fill a week or more just an that, and there’s so much more. Got to walk part of museum island yesterday and see what could only be called a huge exercise in propaganda last night as we passed the Reichstag. Billed as a light show in the government area (images above “projected light show” captions) it was a series of speeches by important governmental people, some English sub-titling indicated a high level of _”look what Germany has achieved and how great we are” Ra-ra stuff for sure.

Standby for the next missive. Prague, Vienna, Salzburg before back to Germany.

Just watching an item on the Coffin Club. No real reason to mention this other than its on BBC and the club is an NZ club. Embarrassingly corny.

Cheers

European tour 2017 – Holland – for a few days in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, capital city, city for art and so many renown artists, famous for bicycles (more than people) the roof gable styles, cheese shops and where the streets are paved with litter and cigarette butts. Guess 6 mill tourists don’t help either.

Then there’s the plethora of vegetable shops.Strange thing tho’, they seem to only sell variety. Its a strange looking small green leaf. Seed shops too, but none of the common old garden variety flower seeds! Reckon these strange shop account for about 99.98% of the 6 mill visitors.

Grey skies dominate the days here as do bicycles, lots of walking, museums and galleries. An art lovers dream come true.

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Unquestionably bikes exceed the population. there are acres of land covered with mostly old cycles.

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They are parked everywhere. There’s buildings for them, there’s a 4 story one in Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our cabbie informed us the theft problem is so great that you only see old bikes. You  can often buy your bike back late at night on the street, apparently. Noticed many are made to look worse by being sprayed with rusty looking paint or bright colours.

The streets are seething with some of the 6 mill, not to mention the odd local I guess. At the moment students are everywhere as their year starts. Raucous buggers they are as the enjoy their first week.

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Busy street scene

First night wanderings see us accidentally in the De Walletjes (Red light) district as we head home after a meal.

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Young couple in street scene. Note office for rent behind them!

Night scenes always proved some interesting challenges and often turn up some stunning images. Some early ones as we rush back to our digs. The National Monument in Dam Square, dark back street and reflected lights along a canal start the collection.

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Canal and street night lights abstract

The canals are as busy as the roads. There must be 10’s thousands canal boats plying the miles of canals though these images don’t show it there really is, mainly for

tourists availing themselves of different day and night cruise services.

The Rijks Museum collection and archives date back to 1800. A phenomenally large collection of art and objects of real significance. This is one of many incredible galleries.

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In the Rijks Museum, massive Rembrandt, one of the large collection on display in his home town.

The popularity of the this city and its galleries means that if you don’t book about 6 months ahead you are destined to waste a large part of your time here, if not your life, in goddam queues. For the Rijks Museum we spent about 40 mins in line in the rain for a good part of it waiting to get to the next queue. Yep, once in the door you then queue again for your tickets, another 20-30 minutes down the dunny, and if that’s not enough, bags and tripods (and of course I have both) are not permitted in, so another friggin line for 15-20 minutes to turn them in. Thankfully only about 10 minutes queuing need to retrieve my gear after a few hours inside. Inside this beautiful building I concluded it must have been designed by an artist, not an architect, finding your way round even using provided and google maps sees more time lost. And as you’d expect after all the waiting is that its pretty busy inside too, but that’s managable.

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Inside Rijks, Rembrandt gallery in rear of image.

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Gouda, the main variety around here

And the find of the trip so far; cheese shops. Mentioned them before, but these genuinely do compete numerically with women’s shoe shops in this city. But it gets better. They mostly offer tastings. So in what has already become an end of day ritual we assist a number of them to dispose of their chopped up curdy offerings. I’m in heaven. The sore feet, the wet backs, the tired and overloaded minds and senses all vanish at least temporarily while at great personal sacrifice I work to restrain Anne’s headlong rush from platter to platter!!!!!

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There’s literally tons of the stuff. Trucks full stacked like this.

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Gouda cheese market in nearby city of Alkmaar. Turns out to be a highly choreographed tourist performance. On our day there we battle not just the hordes and  clouds but also frequent showers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A walk around including the Saturday Albert Cuypmarket provided opportunity for

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The making of strawberry Dutch waffle.

a Dutch waffle. Couldn’t resist, following which kinda wished I had more willpower.

 

 

 

More Amsterdam architecture;

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canal-side hotel that turned John Lennon and Yoko Ono away on their honeymoon. They were accepted by the Hilton and there started the famous “bed-in for peace” demonstration. their room at the Hilton now is a tourist attraction, bet they are glad they accepted them.

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Magna Plaza building

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Theatre

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Buildings reflected in canal along Damrak

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Modern architecture features of 4 buildings in Amsterdam north across from Central Station

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Houseboats on canals in the city are held on long term mooring leases. A tour boat takes passengers through these permanently moored on both sides beyond the collection of cycles locked to bridge and seat railings.

Along with the big renown galleries there a many lesser known places showing well known artists. Some we’ve visited include Banksy and Dali in one venue, then on our last day here Warhol and a collection of other pop-artists in another. Great stuff.

It;s been another full immersion in the streets of Amsterdam to conclude our time here. Dinner tonight, a sleep the on the train and outta here. Rotterdam here we come.

Some street scenes to conclude,

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Amsterdam streets

 

European travel 2017

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First stop, Hong Kong. Drab, dreary Kowloon. Walked the streets b20170802_032906eing accosted every 3rd step by tailors touts, the day has passed with little to show for it except the street scenes below. Arriving last night the plane window view was speculator. Maybe the evening lights tonight will provide more opportunity from street level. Well that was the hope. Didn’t get into it in the end, will need to make sure on return journey when we have another couple of nights here.

Tomorrow we’re London bound.

And so it was, catching up with our fantastic family and enjoying the park walks and street scenes again for a few days.

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Fruiterers of Roman Road

arranging their produce as they do every morning about 6.00am.

Regents Canal around Little Venice, London where we did an evening canal ride and had a picnic dinner, with shot of Hertford Union Canal in Bow.

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Then off Ireland-bound. Leaving London was struck by the number of construction cranes on skyline.

Then arriving in Dublin, same thing. Cranes everywhere. Staying by the Grand Canal. Obviously an area of massive regeneration. Old brick industrial buildings being redeveloped as apartments mixed in with new modern apartment and commercial buildings. Wonderful wandering around the streets seeing the contrasts between the old row houses and interesting new architecture nearby. The great old Bolands Flour Mills Building is part of a large mixed old/modern redevelopment on one side of the Grand Canal. the canal is actually not that big despite its name and is surrounded by recent and new office/cafe and apartment buildings. its hard to escape the feeling that once again Dublin could be in midst of an over-development phase.Dublin, Ireland-22

On the more modern side the central city has the 120 metre high stainless spire seems to pierce the clouds above O’Connell Street.

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And then heres the harp shaped white bridge which stands out and catches any ray of sun that gets down to Dublin street level

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Samuel Beckett Bridge across River Liffey, Dublin.

A day spent of and on the hop-on bus including a couple of hours at the Guinness Brewery turned out to be an interesting day. Got my certificate as a fully qualified Guinness pourer. Great tradition. Did you know it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect Guinness black drop? And, turns out its not to be sipped, that way you allow the flavours and nuances to escape!

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Some lovely parks scattered around this city, one claiming to be be bigger that all London’s parks together and more than 2 X New York’s Central Park. Impressive.

The Temple Bar area of the city is a tourist magnet comprises of a swag of “traditional” styled bars providing Irish music and food along with all the beer you can drink always including the iconic Guinness of course.Dublin, Ireland-10-2

Drive via the quaint town of Trim, do a Trim Castle tour and learn a bit about the area’s history since the 1100’s. Amazing what went on then. How’s this for an important piece of critical information, in those days to be able to put someones head on a stick (presumably after chopping the thing off) one needed a licence from the King which came at a price. Guess that would be called a head tax.

Countryside from Trim Castle.

Countryside from Trim Castle.

Getting to Galway for the night proved to be a fair trial as we encountered an horrendous level of travel slowing us to a crawl for several k’s from outskirts of city.

A drive along the Wild West Atlantic Way (WWW) beckons but we wake to a windy, misty and drizzly day. The WWW is essentially a coastal route of slow narrow roads with some amazing scenery, limestone rock formations essentially flat or strata rock walls. Key tourist features become a obliterated by thick mist. Today a stop to see the Cliffs of Moher prove pointless as visibility is down to a few metres. Abandoned that idea and moved on. Stopping briefly in the quaint town of Ennis before moving on to our nights accommodation, a B&B near Limerick.

Another day, another damp low vis day. Driving again along the WWW heading for the Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula.Dingle Peninsula, Ireland-82

Firstly through the Slieve Mish Mountains following hordes of cyclists on narrow roads. From the pass at top the view is quite spectacular, albeit through the mist.

After a stop to look both ways and a stop to talk to some goats Dingle is achieved.

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland-40A quaint old fishing town and centre for the peninsula is the start of our circular drive around more of the scenic WWW

The cloud and mist moves on in time for us to see some great coastal peninsula scenery.

Killarney is, our second to last stop before heading back to Dublin and our exit from Paddy’s Land. Ireland has certainly been Ireland. Its a place where they talk constantly about their lousy weather, where you can find a b and b with no breakfast, where laundromats are closed on the day of leisure, Sundays, and I’m Anne told me doing laundry was leisure, why else would she do it so often!!!

Ross Lake and Castle made a great early morning stop on our way from Killarney.

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Then on to the Blarney Castle, House and Gardens.

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Blarney House silhouetted back-lit by bright sunny sky.

The weather looked like it was to improve, though as we moved east it got worse, overcast with some patched of drizzle.

Wexford, described as a medieval coastal town is our base tonight while we watch the Irish Women’s Rugby team play Japan in the Women’s World Rugby Cup happening right here in Ireland. Spotted a bit of hurling in Waterford on big screen in the town square, don’t understand it.

County Wicklow, also known as Ireland’s garden county, certainly worth a visit, perhaps even the highlight of our Irish road trip. Unfortunately about about week is required to get near doing it some sort of justice. For our last morning we visit Rossborough House and Garden at Blessington. A grand old home dating back to 1700’s full of art, furniture and architecture each item of which has it’s own fascinating story.

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Rossborough library

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White marble carving adorning one side of one of the Rossborough House fireplaces

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Typical Irish sky and landscape through window of Rossborough House

There’s high gaiety in the pubs,typically and enthralling Irish I guess, too many to count on any street you see. Talking of streets, you’ll remember U2’s hit “Where the streets have no names”, well Paddy’s is a place where street numbers haven’t been invented yet. the streets have no numbers. They have street names that can change sometime 3 + times in a few hundred metres (in Dublin anyway) and there’s no numbers. Took our cabbie half an hour to find our accommodation when we arrived, ‘cos there where was not a fekking number, and that’s in a street he said he knew well. Just as well he had a constant stream of funnies to regale us with.

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And speaking of U2, as I did a mo ago, Bono is really God here. He’s everywhere you look. So it’s true, he not only thinks he is, I’m thinking he’s actually believed to be.

In spite of his enormous wealth though they have all the same problems we do. Housing, homelessness, politicians etc dominate the news in the land of leprechauns and the shamrock.

Next stop the Netherlands, slainte.

Niue in May

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Please click links to see more images from this real surprise in the Pacific.

Niue –nowhere like it, or so they say. 

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Arrived following characteristic delays on Southern Motorway and of course AirNZ.

Blustery as all hell, 35 – 45 knot winds, huge seas, and 28 degrees.

 

 

Nice resort, a wine, dinner and good sleep set us up for what is in effect day 1.

Collected hire car –  rattletrap of Nissan Cube. More rattles in this thing than grandkids have. Spent day dodging potholes, and taking walks down to rocky coves with wonderful rock pools all fairly teeming (slight overstatement, but compared to what we are used to!) little fish, myriad of colours and styles. Had a wee snorkel in one of the larger pools, very pleasant. Heaps of coral types growing,  all colours and shapes and styles (or is species).

 

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The whole place though is somewhat of a grave site. Typically Pacific Island, everywhere you turn there are the graves of those who have gone before, be they people, old houses or dead cars, they scatter the landscape.

The monthly ship from NZ  arrived today to restock the necessities of life here. It’s a monthly event, and quite an exercise as the ship is tied off to the wharf about 300 metres Niue-30-3out and motors kept running to hold her stern on while the unloading of containers on to a barge occurs one at a time over the next couple of days. By then the supermarket, the gas station and I hope the cafes will be restocked (not that we have had any trouble getting a coffee, but was getting worried).

I say not that getting a coffee…… actually the coffee is quite good, but you’d better not be in a hurry. Average wait time would be 30 minutes, and (through beautiful bush usually) continually rising too. To get to the coral ledges and tidal pools we often have to take a bush walk or sea track and then a swag of steps to the bottom.

Seems like we descend and rise the 70 metres every time we head to the rock pools.

We’re heading out today to start with a school assembly. An interesting experience. About 100 kids singing, praying and receiving awards, all in two languages.

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Then off to some more of the scenic spots navigating our way through the strategically located potholes.

 

It’s fun swerving our way down the road, slowing and waving when cars come the other way. Not sure Anne feels it as much fun. Especially when I hit one, it sends a shuddering reminder that I’m alive to my spine. According to Israeli owner of the Japanese restaurant they are waiting for the Chinese to return to repair them. Better hurry because I’ll swear some of them are big enough to be home to marine life now! The Japanese food was worth the effort Graeme, some of the best we’ve had. Thanks for that recommendation.

The other side of the island (east) is very different. Rugged and rough.

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Met a woman collecting what turned out to be large sea-snails for lunch after church on Sunday. Told me it was good on this side today, can’t always do what she was doing. Looked pretty rough to us.

As well as the rock pools and coral at end of the walks, arches, chasms and caves add to the beauty spectacularly.

 

Not much in way of wildlife. Haven’t seen a seagull of any variety. Quite amazing, but the place is chocka with cats and the ever-present chooks, or jungle fowl as they know them.Niue-70

Not sure but am seriously wondering whether the cats are to blame for the dearth of bird-life.

If Gareth (cat-man) Morgan really needs a mission perhaps he should check Niue out.

I think life is pretty good here, simple, seemingly worry-free and warm. Met the Secretary for Government on the plane on way up. He says, that with the taro, a few veges (hydroponically grown), coconut and fish it’s a breeze.

The working week here is 4 days. Guess that works because 35% of the people work for the Government so we are told.

Lunch at another of Graeme N’s recommendations. The Washaway Bar. A rustic fun joint only open on Sunday afternoon, after all the church services are over. Again, a great experience.

Final sightseeing journey was to the Talava Arches. Worth the 30 min walk through bush and over a rugged coral path that requires some concentration to avoid falls, then through some narrow limestone caves to finally spot the arch across a bay. This is one of the more recognised scenic destinations on the island.

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Potholes, strategically located, chooks, ,amazing variety coral, chasms & caves, that’s about it.

it all here and tomorrow the cocks crow for the last time for us.

Gaudi’s Barcelona

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Gaudi’s architecture is somewhat bizarre, incredibly interesting,  stunningly creative and innovative and a major drawcard to Barcelona. Recently uploaded selection at .bit.ly/gaudian . Trust you’ll enjoy.