.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Palermo’s Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)

01a Orto Botanico

While Sicily itself is green and lovely after the rains, Palermo doesn’t have many spacious parks or gardens.  This is in part why exploring Orto Botanico di Palermo (Palermo Botanical Garden) was a treat for my wife and I.  It covers about 30 acres and has a large and interesting variety of plants that are pleasant to stroll through.  Orto Botanico also conducts research for the Department of Botany, University of Palermo. 

The garden dates to 1779 when the University created a chair of “botany and medicinal properties” and dedicated a plot of land for a botanical garden.  The goal was to grow and study plants that useful had medicinal properties.  The garden was moved to the present site in 1786 when …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 22, 2019: Sambodhi Chaithya, Colombo

00 Stupa

Stupas, or dagobas, are very commonly found throughout southeastern Asia.  I’d never seen one with legs before my visit to Sambodhi Chaithya, located on Marine Drive adjacent to the Harbor in Colombo’s Fort district.

Sambodhi Chaithya was built in 1956 on a platform supported by two massive interlocking concrete arches.  No one is sure why it was designed in this manner, but likely so that it can be seen at a distance by ships as they approach the harbor.  The stupa can be entered by climbing 11 sets of stairs (barefoot — no shoes allowed in a stupa — beware of burning your feet on a hot day!), and then crossing a steel bridge as you can see from the photo …

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.All Trips / Asia / Food / India

Delhi’s fascinating Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

01 Delhi Spice Market

My favorite market in Delhi was its spice market, which happens to be Asia’s largest spice market.  The market straddles Khari Baoli, a street near the Red Fort.  The street’s name is derived from ‘Baoli’, meaning step well, and ‘Khari’, meaning salty. 

The market dates to the 17th century.  Many of the shops have been in the families for a long time, some even run by the ninth- or tenth generations.

Like all good spice markets, Delhi’s is fragrant, colorful and tempting.  Besides a large variety of spices and herbs, you can buy other food items like nuts, tea, pasta and rice.  Everything is beautifully displayed.  

Delhi's Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Delhi’s Spice Market (Khari Baoli)

Khari Baoli is extremely busy — lots of shoppers, traffic, and workers carrying heavy sacs of spices to …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 15, 2019: Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires

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Situated on Buenos Aires’ busy Avenida de Mayo is a charming cafe that’s worth looking up.  Cafe Tortoni was founded in 1856 by a French immigrant who fashioned it after Paris’ cafes of that era.   To say he did a great job is an understatement.  Walking in from the busy avenue does indeed seem like stepping into Van Gogh’s Paris.

Cafe Tortoni moved to its current location in 1880.   It has remained largely unchanged since then. 

We visited for coffee and a pastry with some friends during our stroll down Avenida de Mayo.  Both the company and refreshment were excellent!  And the ambience was most memorable.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

 

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Exploring Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District

02 Al Fahidi Historic District (1)

Dubai is known for its beautiful modern architecture.  Yet permanent structures are relatively new to the region. Historically most of the Arabs who lived here were nomadic and did not leave behind physical monuments or buildings.  As such, older regions of Dubai are hard to find.

There’s a neighborhood in Bur Dubai which was built in the mid -19th century, at a time when the city was beginning to take root.  This is the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, adjacent to Dubai Creek.  The neighborhood is characterized by buildings with tall wind towers (Barajeel) that capture evening breezes to cool the interior of a home (not unlike a fan in a window).  Built with traditional materials like stone and gypsum, the Al-Fahidi neighborhood was home to businessmen and …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 8, 2019: Weddings in Krakow

Weddings on Wawel Hill (19)

I’m a sucker for weddings.  I understand that many couples don’t stay married, but there’s something appealing about the excitement, optimism and pageantry of the wedding day that appeals to me.  I fondly remember my own wedding day some 33 years ago (still happily married), and more recently those of my two sons.  I’m old-fashioned enough to consider marriage the cornerstone of civilization.

While traveling, I like to take the opportunity to snap photos of wedding couples when possible and I’m not being intrusive.  There were a lot of weekend weddings in fall in Krakow, some of which I had a chance to photograph.

As always, my very best wishes to each of these couples.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Amazing and Unforgettable — the Wiring of Old Delhi

07 Chandi Chowk Market (26)

Even though I’d heard about it, I wasn’t prepared for how chaotic the street wiring in Old Delhi is. There are many places in the old city where you’ll see spaghetti-like masses of live wiring that seem to be incapable of being untangled or understood, yet somehow Delhi electricians figure it out and keep the power flowing.  There seems no plan, no logic, no reason to it.  It just seems to have evolved like some hideous beast.

By far the worst that I experienced was the Chandi Chowk Market area.   It is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi and is not far from the Red Fort.  These photos were taken while walking those streets.

I think the photos are self-explanatory.  …

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.All Trips / North America / Southeastern USA

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

02 Merritt Island NWR Little Blue Heron (46)

During our last visit to Florida, my father and I drove from our base in Orlando to explore some of Florida’s east coast.  Our destination for the day was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, not far from Titusville.  

This is a massive preserve, some 140,000 acres (57,000 ha), situated on the same island as the Kennedy Space Center.  Because of its close proximity to the Space Center, there are rare times when NASA restricts access to this National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. when the space shuttle was landing in Florida).

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The topography of the refuge is flat, but still there are a mixture of habitats including saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes, forests and scrub.  Here …

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