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Tauranga customised photo tour starts today (Sept 18) with airport collection about midday.
I have designed a personalised tour focusing on landscapes and night shoots commencing in Rotorua for the first afternoon then shifting to Tauranga.
A stop in bottom of Pyes Pa Gorge Road on way to Tauranga for some long exposure shots round off the afternoons shooting.
Morning beach sunrises, bush walks, waterfalls, and evening harbour and night lights shoots will follow over 4 days. We’ll throw in travelling in a vintage Ford Model T for a visit to a kiwifruit orchard, its pruning season, so not most interesting time but expect to see workers in action, and a cruise across, and around, Lake Rotoiti in a vintage boat with fish and chips lunch.
So here’s a little summary of the tour. It’s fair to say it went really well. We covered a lot of territory in the days available, we were able to share photography techniques, see some new ones tried and in the evenings look into expanding the use of Lightroom by a better understanding of some of its features.
Early morning, blue hour at Mount Maunganui;
Lex sets up for a shot of stream while Lex and Eric take in the view.
Lex lines up a log and casts a long shadow.
Then off to see a kiwifruit orchard in 1930’s Ford. Stopping by the orchard outhouse for workers.
At the Bridge Marina for our last dinner together when we caught this little tacker on a scooter.
Four days, a great range of photo opps, and the chance to utilise a range of photographic techniques – a great few days.
These and a selection of other images can be seen at www.brianscantlebury.com
A rushed drive from Delphi to Athens, deliver the car and and get to airport to fly to the island of Skiathos started our time heading for our Greek island experience.
In all we will spend near three weeks on the three “postcard” islands of Skiathos, Santorini and Naxos.
First Skiathos, a typically Greek/Mediterranean island, (really, the second of the 4 for us including a short visit to Hydra), is a relaxed and popular place for tourists.
As always there are some thrills, some issues and some fun and lots more of photographic images to share than can be included in these blogs.
Walking the streets, lanes and beaches of these islands provides lots of photographic opportunities.
A few facts, Skiathos is one of the northern Sporades group in the Aegean with a current population of abut 8,000, is recognized as a party island with tourist numbers said to reach up to 70,000 at a time. Its known for its beaches, olives and is very green compared to the mainland.
Walking the streets for a meal you’ll come across large trays of whole fish packed in ice, ready for your selection for dinner. This was along waterfront restaurants on Skiathos.
Though some of these shots show empty streets, July & August are the hot months, both from point of view of tourists and temperatures which have been well up into the 30’s.
The sky’s have never had a cloud in them and the sunrises and sunsets are intense, especially on Santorini. The Greeks are on holiday too, and swelling the numbers of tourists and those returning home from the mainland, so hectic is the way here at this time of the year. Many heading to the beaches to hire a deckchair and umbrella, bare some flesh and darken their skin a little as well as bathe in the luke warm Mediterranean water and sipping the odd cocktail in between.
Dining on these islands offers great variety. From the rip sh.. and bust fries with everything including your Greek salad (excuse the mild exaggeration)to really lovely “fine dining” restaurants.
Luckily we spent our time here with a group of great friends who ensured we dined in splendor.
Our hotel at Santorini, our next stop, deliberately chosen to be out of the two main touristic hotspots of Ia and Fira is just the best. The Ampelonas Apartments, it turns out is situated at the highest point of Santorini. And it it is a lovely comfortable and well run property. Sunsets and sunrises without moving (other than to wait 10 hours and turnaround that is), quite unique.
And turnaround – 10 hours later;
Another Santorini sunset, with silhouetted thistles
This is an island in the Cyclades group. Has a resident population around 16,000 before tourists arrive. Grow grapes and olives and is comprised essentially of the 2 cities (Ia and Fira or in their alternative spelling Oia or Thira) built on the caldera.
From our hotel in Imerovigla its only about 20 minutes walk to Fira, one of the 2 postcard style towns and the capital of the island, and about 30 minutes bus or taxi (a story about this later) ride to Ia (or Oia).
So to Naxos on the ferry. Hell just getting on and off this this thing is an experience. The mayhem of Greek organisation seems at it peak in this exercise. No signage for the hordes to work out when or where to move, just people shouting unintelligible instructions, men in uniforms blowing whistles and waving their arms while the aspiring travellers rush about in some form of unmitigated confusion and chaos. Somehow most seem eventually to make it. A bit like the bus timetables, a lower level of chaos, but then often the bus will depart 5+ minutes early, so don’t arrive bang on time and expect to be on. That it seems to me is high -risk strategy.
Like the others the island of Naxos comprises historic buildings and not so historic presented for the tourists, separated by narrow stone paved lanes with those white painted mortar patterns.
Along with the flowering bougainvillea, the oleanders, the wild figs and olive plantations cats abound. Little wonder there’s no birds or wildlife to speak of. They are everywhere and if you look, they are usually in multiples.
But our find in Naxos was in form of a very pleasant and helpful guide, Stuart Thorpe,
There’s little sign of any industry that’s not tourism or olive related, but this old abandoned industrial building just out of Chalki (or Halki) caught my eye as we walked between a couple of villages with Stuart.
Thanks to Stuart, we got to out of the way villages, a Byzantine church in a paddock somewhere and an authentic lunch up in the hills at a family run taverna. The owners quickly prepared a range of dishes we shared. All the produce was grown on their own small farm. A great experience and one to be recommended if you are seeking a bit more than the typical tourist.
Below, the remains of our multi course meal.
I am progressively loading images to my site. Also some on instagram at “briansphotography” if you use that.
Stopping at seaside village for a coffee as one does, this sign offering free shower caught my eye.
Later we turn left off the Rion-Antirion bridge and before long we are in Nafpaktos. Nafpaktos is built around a tiny fortified medieval harbour. Beautiful.
This town has a castle on the hill overlooking it, which we drove too before leaving only to find it was closed until 10.00. Didn’t want to wait so missed that, though did get some great views of the town and harbour below while up there.
From there we head to Arta as a stop off point en-route through the mountains of west Greece. Heading off we set the GPS for the back-roads as normal, but bugger me, somehow we get directed to the motorway with it’s multiple tollgates and boring vistas. And naturally, once you are on it, it hard to get off. But fast I guess.
Arriving in Arta we stop to find accommodation. Found something that looked ideal, booked it then tried to GPS it. Could not find it on the GPS anywhere. Reviewed our booking on the mobile and noticed we had somehow been directed to Arta, sure, but this one was in the Balearic islands, Spain. Ha. The GPS was of course set for Greece. Thats travel.
After a night in our re-booked lovely country hotel on the outskirts of the town we head off early through the mountains. The previous days mountains were interesting, small villages, mostly left behind by the passage of time, rugged roads and only reasonable scenery. Enough to make she who must be obeyed say “boring”. Would not go that far myself, but there you are.
Today was about to be a revelation. Some of the highest hills in the country, some of the windiest roads anywhere, and so many little and not so little groups of red roofed homes scattered among the trees.
But spectacular scenically understates it. What a drive. One not to be missed if you are ever doing a road trip through this country. But, your GPS wont take you there automatically. There is a new toll motorway that Lonely Planet says is also pretty good, but they missed this one.
Have I mentioned the Greek Orthodox churches, shrines and memorials that almost out-number the population?
I later learn they are rarely, sometimes never used in prayer!
Gradually we make our way to Kastraki hotel. This is a beauty, getting to it another story in our excuse for a car. The wee Micra struggles on hills, its 2nd gear often doesn’t realise its being employed. I have never driven so far in 1st gear, but the revs drop and you may as well push. Bloody hopeless is another understatement.
So through the little lanes that double as streets and to bottom of a rise between houses almost less than 1 car with in parts and uphill. The Micra took several hill starts to make to the top. But we did it. And it was worth it.
Couple of sunset shots. We did a sunset tour on our first night in an effort to orientate ourselves. These are from the favorite spot for tourists at sunset. While waiting for the sunset we were taken to the main church in Meteora, We’re filling in time, our guide is explaining every part of every picture. As you’ll know, there is no part of a wall or ceiling that in not artistically painted and turns out they all have meaning. Talk about tedious, so we sat down. And as we do crossed out legs. Not long after a priest came bustling through, was past us when he realised our legs were crossed and in Greek launched into what I’d call a tirade about our legs. Not being sure what was going on I uncrossed mine, no good reason, just a reaction, but Anne didn’t. Well we nearly needed rescuing. Still don’t know what that’s about, but there’s a word of advice there if you are visiting Greek Orthodox churches. Anne does get caught out in these ways. On another occasion we are in a nunnery (monastery that’s been taken over!!). No hats. Anne, wandering around feels a tap on the shoulder, is about to react as she does when I do that, but just in time sees a rather severe nun on her shoulder. Nun points to cap and shakes head, message received, cap removed. A little while later instinctively returns cap to head, just in time for another shoulder tapping and head shaking. We only went into 2 of these monasteries.
Two of the dozen or so monasteries of Meteora.
A couple of days driving the Meteora hills and visiting a couple of the bluff-top monasteries has been a treat.
Then from Meteora via the scenic route, across the cropping plains of Greece and through 3 mountain ranges. the the ancient town of Dephi, I’m just told the ancients regarded this as the centre of the earth. Clearly, they’d never been to New Zealand!
Travelling Greece by road is full of surprises, from the small churches and monuments to wild goats or cattle on the road there seems to be another point of interest around most corners.
Then back up into the winding hill roads, a shell of what once was in middle of nowhere.
And around next corner, something Hitler would have been proud of.
Eventually to Delphi.
So tomorrow, off to join the rest of the group on Skiathos, followed by some rime on a couple of other islands. Until then, keep in touch.
Athens, Athens photos, boats, Ermioni, Greece, heritage, Hydra, landscape, Mediterranean, Mourayio Bed and Breakfast, Nafplio, Nemea, night scene, photography, photos, places, Rion-Antirion Bridge, roadtrip, street scene, travel
Kalimera, ruins and museums, most peoples take on this city, but there is more to see and do.
More images from our experiences can be seen at https://www.brianscantlebury.com/Travel/Greece/
What can you see in three days in Athens before heading off to other parts of the country and a few of its islands. That,s what we’ve got – 3 days, this is some of what we did.
Mount Lycabettus is a great first spot to get to. From the top, all the Athenian known landmarks can be seen and their relationship to the rest of the city. You can walk to the top, but most of the year you might find that a bit hard going. I did see a few sweating it out. A taxi made the job easy. Gets you to just a few metres from the top, still need to climb a few steps though.
Temple of Olympian Zeus archaeological ruins in the city and below the iconic acropolis.
Pomp and ceremony, or just Monty Pythonesque silly walks. Guards outside Greece parliament building. Could they actually guard anything? Funny to watch though.
Across the street and down in the Plaka, interesting and hectically touristic district with its photogenic narrow streets lined with souvenir shops and restaurants.
All this antiquity, but still everywhere you turn, graffiti.
The Acropolis, the centre of antiquity. A citadel comprising ancient structures and theatres under restoration including the most significant Grecian structure the Parthenon.
Then off to pick-up the promised Polo that somehow mysteriously morphs into a Micra….. So, onwards and starting our Greek road-trip to the Peloponnese Peninsula, Nafplio and other interesting places.
Avoiding motorways and highways wherever possible, through mainly countryside, olive tree plantations interspersed with the citrus orchard or grape vine. The travel takes longer but exposes us to landscapes, villages and other experiences that would be missed by using highways.The roads are lined with rubbish. Scattered through the fields are small old deserted/derelict crumbling buildings normally adorned with graffiti. Not many flat vertical space in this country are left un-graffitied.
Napflio, what a find.
Dining to backgound of this duo and Greek music.
Ermioni, further down the Peloponnese coastline,another tourist seaside tourist spot and a great drop-off point for a short ferry trip and few hours on Hydra. for a night.
Next morning after delightful breakfast at Mourayio Bed and Breakfast (the place to stay in this part of country) to Nemea.
Hydra, panorama of Hydra town at night as long exposure blurs passing water taxi.
Never heard of this ancient site until we were nearly there. Nemea was worth the visit, if only because it pre-dates everything else we have seen to date (500BC) and is accessible.
Though a lot smaller than say the Athens acropolis, it is never-the-less worth a visit.
Looking up Nemea Temple of Zeus columns from below.
Crossing the stunning Rion-Antirion Bridge to head north and missive 3.
Rapidly modernizing and billed as one of worlds fastest growing cities, Qatar’s Doha is filled with some amazing contrasts and photogenic opportunities. The buildings are stylish and modern, the institutions are magnificent and history is incredible.
There are so many “top 10 things to see in Doha” and its not that big so many places and landmarks repeat, but just few images from our flying visit. And there’s a few more at Doha images
Museum of Islamic Arts is an impressive building from outside, above palm lined entrance ramp and below the entrance foyer with its dramatic circular staircase. One side of the staircase and the floor, ceiling and lighting patterns make a complex architectural vision.
From the Corniche promenade through an opening in one of the pieces of public art, to Al Dafna, the business district across Doha Bay.
One of the traditional style fishing dhow now used for tourist cruises,
Karak, traditional sweetened coffee drink in Qatar served at this little cafe in Katara Cultural Village. Waiters ready for next order to be served through window.
Simple effect of this Islamic architecture in white with red and blue seats above and the modern urban architecture of Al Dafna, the business district of Doha. New construction is underway everywhere you turn.
Completed about 2006 The Pear-Qatar, an up-market residential development with marina for residents.
Who go to the trouble to build such imposing structures just fors flock or two of pigeons?
In the Katara Cultural village, Doha, that’s what they have done, said to be of Arab/Islamic heritage.
Dhow rigging along the Corniche.
Everything imaginable can be purchased at Souq Waqif, clothes, fabrics, perfumes, cage birds, falcons, spices and on and on. A colourful and vibrant place every evening.
Some night scenes around the souq below.
A man and his bird.
The desert animal, camel ready here for tourist rides.
And riding in the shadow.
As already stated the are a few more images from around Doha, click here; images
Wandering the Corniche, a drive through Al Dafna and some of the new up-market residential areas such as the Pearl-Qatar, a night and dinner at Souq Waqif, the museums and a trip into the desert all worth the effort that will provide those lasting memories and photos we all seek. Many would say the massive shopping malls are a must, I’m not so sure, but over to you.
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Next stop – Athens.
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That’s the question, why Namibia?
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;
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.
We head off for a family week on Koh Samui as the first of 2 Thai stops.
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.
A visit to the market seems essential activity in this part of world.
The Samui Sunday night market fills a couple of hours. Typical bustle of toursists and vendors. No redeeming aspects here
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.
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.
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.
Buddhist 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.
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;
Temples, chedi and Buddhist cultural paraphernalia are everywhere.
Some more urban street scenes;