Railway yard obsolescence as fine art photography.

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  • Not all photos suitable to be fine art photos.
  • Fine art photography is a challenging and rewarding photographic art form.

  • It’s less about what the camera sees, and more about how the photographer/artist interprets and presents the image.

 

 

Three boys stand on rear of rail carriage, not so much fine art but more people interest

Walking around Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek one can come across it city’s old railway station. Now a museum with the old ticket/reservations office and station along with a range of the rolling stock and associated historic rail items.

This short series will appeal especially to anyone with an interest in rail, especially historic rail stock.

Pretty much “steampunk” these days.

Close-up freight cart wheelOld steam boiler, casing, piles and valves in sepia tone.

 Railway freight cart

  • *All images are available for purchase as prints, framed or on canvas and/or as digital images.
*If you are a NZ resident print purchaser, please contact me to obtain a considerably more economic supply and print option.    email;  brian@brianscantlebury.com
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This is Namibia – photo book just published

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We just published our photographic book. Take a look, a full preview is available for free.

The comprises 30 pages of full color images on 30 pages and dust jacket.

Be interested in any comments you have too.

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


And 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

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.

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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.

On the train again, headed for Salzburg. 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.

The lakes scenic area is another must do here.

Why Namibia? – more just than a few reasons.

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That’s the question, why Namibia?

Have just returned from a three week tour with World Photo Adventures of this startlingly stunning country and through the images shared here hope to give you more than a few reasons.

With the thousands of images I have returned with, it will be quite a while before I get through them all. So, this will be an evolving blog. It will be updated progressively.

And back to the “more than a few reasons;

Landscapes, I’ll bet you’ve never seen anything like what Namibia has to offer;

Sossusvlei dunes are breathtaking. Dead Vlei and Hidden Vlei are so immense and stunning

Touring photographers cast shadow on golden sand dunes.

Then there’s the Quiver Tree Forest with it’s unworldly aloes  scattered randomly across a rugged rocky terrain;

    

Wildlife, big cats, Lions and cheetahs in particular, there’s more to come of these;

And birdlife;

   

Great white pelican portrait

                                       Secretary bird 
The diminutive long-tailed or paradise whydah

Rosy-faced lovebird

 

 

 

 

 

Pale chanting goshawk on top of acacia bush.

Flight of the flamingos at Swakopmund as sun sets over wetland

We came across these lions, him & her, not long after they had made their kill. Here feasting happily together. We went back next morning and watched him take charge and drag the rest of the carcass away from her. She then left the scene and headed to a water hole about a kilometer away, as the crow flies, where we came across her again.

All creatures great and small;

 

Small desert adapted lizard and a shy palmato lizard poking its head out of the sand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about the people;

Portrait of traditional tribal woman holding child.

Dancing in the tribal way. The Himba people in their small remote village and woman sitting outside shack (below)

And finally some birds in flight, Southern Yellow Hronbill, pale chanting goshawk and lilac breasted roller below.

More to come, check back please. and large digital images are all available at www.brianscantlebury.com The Namibia images are in the travel folder, Africa library.

 

Pukeko, slightly goofy but intriguing New Zealand swamp hen

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New range of Pukeko images and portraits added to www.brianscantlebury.com wildlife images.

Please take a moment to check my other wildlife images; click here; the animal world

 Always standing out from their environment with the striking blue and black feathered body and bright red beak and cap.

 A swamp hen, this is the most commonly encountered of the five living species of the rail family native to New Zealand.

Yet to color up this chick cautiously approaches the water edge.

 

Aside

A brief Thai experience

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We head off for a family week on Koh Samui as the first of 2 Thai stops.untitled-24
Beautiful beaches
A 40 minute drive from airport see’s us at our villa for the week. A lovely place and it would prove to be a great stay. Magnificent and always cooperative staff make a huge difference.

 

 

 

Our main room, just one of the 6 massive bedrooms that are supplemented with a couple of swimming pools  and everything else you’d expect. This Villa Pavana.Inside the villa.

A visit to the market seems essential activity in this part of world.

Koh Samui

The Samui Sunday night market fills a couple of hours. Typical bustle of toursists and vendors. No redeeming aspects here

 

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The bottles of 40 baht motorcycle gasoline must have all sold out. The rack is empty. Although along the little sparsely populated road to our accommodation there’s about another 6 or so ramshackle sheds, shops etc that also sell the fuel by the bottle.

Stunning sunsets and sunrises on Koh Samui

Morning walks along the beach are ever interesting. Sunrise is delayed by cloudy horizons most mornings while we are here. A small fleet of longtail fishing boats is moored a little way along. Above a silhouetted fisherman prepares for the day. Looking the other direction a light mist shrouds the shore, boats and distant islands.

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Typical tropical island beach lined with coconut palms on another cloudy morning but later Blue sky and water highlight and reflect a classic fishing boat.

Thailand, Koh Samui-23Buddhist culture dominates of course with shrines and pagoda all around. this pagoda is on the beach a few minutes walk from our fabulous accommodation. We’ve spent a week with our wonderful family here enjoying every minute of it. Can only say a great big thanks for the organisation,  time and memories here and for the generous celebration and gift.

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Our 1st week comes to an end tomorrow and we head off to capture some of the scenes and life in northern part of the country.

There’ll be no more SUPing, kayaking or beach walks at our next stop.

Next stop Chiang Mai

 The streets of Chiang Mai are full of colour and vibrance, not to mention people and spots to eat or markets to buy everything from copy art to clothing and souvenirs. See more photos at;

https://www.brianscantlebury.com/Travel/Thailand/i-55KzQWt

Temples, chedi and Buddhist cultural paraphernalia are everywhere.

Some more urban street scenes;

<a hButchers work late in street markets preparing and selling meat.ref=”http://”&gt;

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,

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