I’ve been inspired by the images of beautiful flowers my friends have been posting lately on Facebook as an antidote to all the miseries of the world. Looking at my Pinterest Flower pins set me thinking – why not have a Friday Flowers theme on this blog? Sometimes it will be tropical flowers but other times it will be images from our travels. Some may even have appeared on earlier Open Garden posts.
Among my memory box collection is a piece from a long-ago Weekend Australian article. It was written long ago by Barry Oakley, an Australian writer and journalist who captured the absolute essence of travel with its mix of challenges, frustrations and joys. Inspired by that article I did fulfil one dream: to stand in the square at San Gimignano, eating a gelato, listening to the midday bells ring out, along with the unanticipated strains of harp music. It did feel a little like heaven on earth.
Mr Cassmob and I have been fortunate to travel to many places over the decades and while many give great pleasure, and very happy memories, “WOW!” moments don’t come along every day…those jaw-dropping scenes when your eyes pop and you draw in a huge breath. It seems in the last couple of trips we’ve done particularly well in the WOW stakes…in regard to both scenery and animals.
In 2013 we visited our daughter in Kenya, Africa. One of the places we stayed was Sleeping Warrior Lodge near Lake Elementaita. As we walked into the reception area we were all stunned by the beauty of the scene before us. All we could do was constantly repeat “wow” “ that’s amazing”, something the staff told us was pretty much everyone’s reaction.
Not an out-loud wow moment but absolutely awe-inspiring was watching the wildebeest make their annual migration crossing. The sheer determination held us in thrall, and silence, for the whole time of the crossing – about 20 minutes and estimated (by our guide) at 4000 animals.
This year we’d chosen an Athens hotel from Trip Advisor reviews (as usual) and so we knew it was supposed to have great views. Even so we were still astonished when we arrived at the restaurant for dinner. There before us was the Acropolis in all its glory, backlit by the setting sun. How amazing to eat a meal watching the shadows fall over this ancient site, the flag taken down and then the lights turned on. Spectacular!
The finale of our trip was a cruise on the newly-refurbished Oceania ship, Insignia from Athens to Istanbul. I’m sure there are some ports world-wide which are arresting in their magnificence and I imagine Sydney would be one such if you hadn’t visited it before. Sailing into Istanbul was that type of experience…we were silenced (almost) by the city scape and scenery before us. It really was a huge WOW moment which set the scene for our experience of Istanbul over the subsequent days…we absolutely loved it!
I’m hoping to revisit this blog more often in the coming weeks and share some of my photos from the tour just to whet your appetite for travel –and indulge myself with some reminiscences.
Sunlight masks a sober sculpture
The cruel shadowed history of slavery
Trapped in dark cellars
Whipped to test endurance
Shipped far away
A legacy of lost heritage
This is written and inspired by my friend Kristin and all her fellow African Americans whose ancestors suffered similar fates.
This memorial to the slaves is in Stone Town, Zanzibar. The site of the old whipping point is behind the altar of the Anglican Cathedral, and the former cellars under a nearby building.
This post is my contribution to this week’s Shadow Shot Sunday.
It’s that time of year when chefs and cooks around the world turn their minds to the Christmas cooking. Since Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings rely on the delicious spices originally brought back to Europe from Asia and Zanzibar, what better time to share some photos of the spices in their natural habitat in Zanzibar, once known as part of the Spice Islands.
You can compare the images with the spices listed in my Christmas cake recipe from my other blog.
While holidaying in Zanzibar, and en route to the north-eastern beach at Ras Nungwi, we did a spice tour. It was really fun as well as informative. The guys made it really enjoyable by testing our knowledge of the plants from smell and taste, and along the way made us hats, necklaces, dilly bags, and glasses.
Do you recognise any of these plants, or do you use them in your Christmas cooking? Each and every one is in my Christmas cake recipe but the star is….
Mind you I find it somewhat ironic that all these spices, so integrally associated with Christmas, can be found on the largely Islamic island of Zanzibar.
Inspired by last week’s post on Doorways of Travel I thought I’d add some of my old photos from a trip to Kathmandu in 1977.
Many feature doorways for the simple reason that the workspaces are so tiny and people work squashed up at all sorts of skills. Our children, then aged six and four, were with us on the trip so they had some amazing experiences. We were staying with friends and former work colleagues so we were fortunate to have our own built-in tour guides.
It’s a shame these photos are so colour-damaged but that’s one of the hazards of tropical living.
This week’s Sepia Saturday 203 features doorways, especially with people standing in them.
I haven’t trawled my personal/family photos for a suitable one and chose instead to focus on some recent travel photos which “fit the bill”. All were taken in Zanzibar, famous for its amazingly carved doors.
Do go and check out what the other Sepians have written for Sepia Saturday 203
The restaurant and bar of our Stone Town hotel was on the roof terrace with a wonderful view over the harbour: just perfect for a pre-dinner drink as the sun set. The building profiled here is the House of Wonders, formerly a sultan’s palace. Along the waterfront, near the Forodhani Gardens, young boys were taking running leaps and diving into the water.
Why not skip over to see what others have posted for Shadow Shot Sunday this week.
The family image that came to mind was one we took on a trip to Europe in 1977. We had taken the children to the beach for an outing as we so often did at home. Although it was around Easter and still quite chilly it did seem strange to see everyone on the beach in their boots and coats, whereas we were used to the kids being in singlets and knickers.
As always the girls just picked up their usual habit of building sand castles which attracted the attention of this spotty Dalmatian.
If my memory serves correctly, we were only at the beach because we had to spend additional days in the Netherlands because my husband’s passport etc etc had been stolen on an Amsterdam tram late on the Friday evening. On the Monday we had to go to the Australian embassy in The Hague to get a new passport issued, then back to Amsterdam to reissue our Amex travellers cheques. On the way into the embassy daughter #1 (in the red jumper) got her finger stuck in the hinges of the big glass door. One of those situations where no matter what strategy you employed there was pain, and yelling, involved.
Phase 2 of the process in the UK, with visas and more travellers cheques of a different brand, didn’t go nearly so smoothly. We spent so much time shuttling between the Nepalese embassy, the PNG consultate and the bank that we had a much more limited opportunity to sightsee around London. Lessons of the story: make sure one of each of you has their own passport and money (tick) and try never to have your passport stolen!
Following on from last week’s post of our balloon flight in Kenya, here were just some of the animals we saw.
No great “Out of Africa” moments with herds of creatures below us, rather a defensive elephant mother, a pair of rhino and a startled young giraffe.
The rhino weren’t a common sighting in the Mara but our guide could identify where they’d been in the photo, and with some assiduous searching we were able to find them the next day. Believe it or not, one of them was only a baby.
And after all that we got an exciting (read bumpy) and hilarious landing and a fabulous breakfast in the bush with eggs ordered as desired from the chef. We had great chats with the other people round the table over breakfast. It was a tough life on safari.
It’s Shadow Shot Sunday so why not pop over and see what others have written and photographed.
While we were in Kenya we woke up one early to do a hot air balloon flight – another first for me. I don’t like heights, or more specifically edges, so I wasn’t sure how I’d go but I loved it!! Of course we were floating so low we could almost have jumped out, except for those voracious and carnivorous critters.