“Pic of the Week”, October 26, 2018: Jebel Hafeet

14 Trip up Jebel Hafeet (1)

Jebel Hafeet is a mountain near the desert city of Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s an impressive peak, rising 1,249 m (4,098 ft), and is easily accessible. While many credit Jebel Hafeet as being the tallest mountain in the UAE, that honor belongs to Jabal Jais at 1,925 m (6,316 ft). The mountain straddles the border of Oman, and views of that country are easily seen from the summit (although some what hazy because of blowing dust).

Jebel Hafeet has an extensive natural cave system which has only partially been explored to a depth of about 150 m.  The caves show nicely preserved stalagmites and stalactites, but they are not open to the public.  Marine fossils (plankton, coral, crabs) are found within the …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

A Visit to the Al Ain Palace Museum

02 Al Ain Palace Museum (6)

The Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum (a.k.a. the Al Ain Palace Museum), is located in the oasis city of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.  The museum is located in the home/family palace of former U.A.E. President, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004).  The palace was built in 1937 and Sheikh Zayed lived here until 1966.  As you would expect, local building materials were used including adobe, clay, stones and palm trees.  It features rooms for the royal family, official meeting chambers, and quarters for visitors. 

The palace was converted to a museum in 1998, opening to the public in 2001.  The museum does a good job of creating an atmosphere as existed here when the Sheikh called it home.

Al Ain is …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 7, 2017. A Wedding in Palermo

04 Wedding in Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (16)

One of the pleasures of traveling is stumbling on memorable scenes of everyday life.  So it was as we waited to gain admittance to the Capella Palatina

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“Pic of the Week”, February 13, 2015: Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

UK 26 – London – Buckingham Palace – Changing of Guard 2

There’s so many fascinating and historic things to see and do in London, it’s hard to prioritize them.  But I’d put watching this event towards the top of the list, as the changing of the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace is worth seeing if you’re in the city a few days.

Many countries have a “Changing the Guard” ceremony, but England’s is the most elaborate I’ve ever seen.  It is a ritual involving a new guard guard exchanging duty with the old guard.  There are several regiments involved in the ritual, and the interested reader is refered to the British Monarchy website for more detailed information.

The ceremony occurs most days between around 11 am and noon.  Check the…

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.All Trips / Europe / France

The Sun King’s Legacy: a visit to Versailles

Versailles-2013-001 intro Apollo Basin

Among the many wonderful palaces of Europe, Versailles is said to be the greatest and grandest of them all.  It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is on almost every traveler’s list of “must see” destinations near Paris.  Versailles’ an easy 35 minute train ride southwest of Paris (RER-C line, about 4 trains every hour); from the train station it’s only a five minute walk to the entry of the Palace.  While grand in it’s scale and design, Versailles is not for everyone.  I have to admit I don’t quite get what a lot of the fuss is about, but I’ll explain more about that later.  First a little background…..

A Brief History of Versailles:

Versailles was a …

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“Pic of the Week”. May 31, 2013. Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

2013-022- May 31

One of Vienna’s many outstanding attractions is Schönbrunn Palace, the one-time summer residence of the Hapsburgs, situated on the outskirts of the city.  The palace and it’s grounds are very popular with tourists, though you’ll not see the great hords and massive waiting lines characteristic of Versailles (which I liked much less than Schönbrunn).

Palaces like this offer an interesting insight into a royal life I find hard to envision.  The palace has over 1400 rooms, dozens of scultures, landscaped lawns and gardens, and many beautiful fountains.  It would have been staffed by hundreds of servants and housed hundreds of guests and horses as well. 

This photo was taken from near Neptune’s well, looking back over a small part of the gardens to the rear …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

La Dolce Vita (Part 5) Venezia (Venice)

La Dolce Vita 5) Venezia (Venice)

So it was finally our time to visit the legendary travel destination of Venice.  With increasing excitement we journeyed from Florence through Tuscany and finally over the long bridge to this island city.  I usually try not to have ‘great expectations’ about big name travel destinations because I’ve often been disappointed by them; fortunately this was not the case with Venice.  When we walked out of the train station it seemed that we were walking onto another beautiful planet named “Ocean”, not “Earth”.  The sky was a mesmerizing blue color and there were no roads or cars — just boats cruising along the calm waterways of the Grand Canal, past elegant old buildings.  If there’d been …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

La Dolce Vita (Part 4) Firenze (Florence)

La Dolce Vita 4) Firenze (Florence)

It’s hard to imagine a prettier setting for an historic city than the heart of Tuscany; that’s where you’ll find Florence, a grand old city, birthplace of the Renaissance and the modern world.  So great is the historic influence of Florence that many of its citizens believe the city can’t seem to escape the past to transition into the 21st century….but I’m not into such lofty concepts as I wander these cobble-stoned streets — the same streets that Donatello, Michelangelo, Galileo and da Vinci walked — I’m just visually transported to the fifteenth century as not much seems to have changed.  In my wandering and daydreaming I retain a sense of gratitude …

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