.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Catania’s Great Cathedral, Sicily

00 Catania Cathedral (4)

Catania Cathedral faces the city’s main square, and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As you stand in Catania’s main square and look at the exterior of the cathedral, you’ll be impressed by its beautiful Baroque features.  The many lovely marble figures decorating the exterior and grounds of the building add to its uniqueness.  It’s easy to see why the cathedral is one of Catania’s most popular buildings — both during daylight hours and at night.
Catania Cathedral is also known as Saint Agatha Cathedral in honor of a young Christian martyr named Agatha who was killed at this site in the third century.  Agatha was said to have been a beautiful and pious young girl born into a good family.  …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 23, 2020. Audience Hall, Red Fort, Delhi

00 Hall of Audience, Delhi

The Diwan-i-Aam, or Audience Hall, is located in Delhi’s Red Fort.  It was here that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (best known for building the Taj Mahal) and his successors meet with citizens to hear their grievances and requests.
The Audience Hall is covered with a roof but is open on three sides, with a back wall and weight-bearing pillars and arches made of red sandstone.  The hall measures 100 x 60 feet.  Apparently at one time its ceiling and columns were painted with gold — that would have been quite a sight.
It’s an impressive and beautifully constructed space, highlighted by place where the Emperor would sit —  a magnificent elevated white marble throne inlaid with semi-precious stone (a technique later perfected in …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 9, 2020: Bow Falls, Banff

00 Bow Falls

Bow Falls is a wide but relatively short waterfall (<9 meters) which, because of it’s location, is often visited.  When the Bow River is filled with spring thaw it really roars, but in the drier summer months its flow is significantly reduced and the falls are less impressive.
Bow Falls is located less than a kilometer south of the Banff townsite, near the Banff Springs Hotel.  You can access the falls from a parking lot immediately downriver from them or from Banff by following a trail adjoining the Bow River (there are trails on either side, but the best views are from the west side).  If you continue further downriver, past Bow Falls, you’ll quickly hit the junction of the Spray River …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Da Vinci’s Magnificent Last Supper, Milan

00 Last Supper

One of the main reasons we picked Milan as a travel destination was our desire to see Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest work, the “Last Supper”.
It’s not easy getting the opportunity to see this masterpiece in person.  There are a limited number of timed tickets issued for viewing of the Last Supper, so it is vital that you try to reserve your tickets just after they are issued because they sell out  quickly — often within a day or so of being released.  I got up in the middle of the night to buy ours — successfully, thank goodness.  If you can’t arrange the purchase of your tickets in advance, it is likely you can take a city tour in Milan …

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.All Trips / Europe / Poland

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow

00 St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow

There are a lot of old and interesting sites in Krakow, which was spared bomb damage in the World Wars, but St. Mary’s Basilica is a special place.  Second only to the Wawel Cathedral — which is considered Poland’s National Cathedral — St Mary’s is one of the city’s most important churches.  It’s situated on the city’s large central Market Square which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The exterior of the building is impressive, both by day and at night.
A church has been on this site of St. Mary’s for over 800 years, but the current building was constructed in Gothic style on the burned ruins of the prior Romanesque church, that church having been destroyed in 1241.  This …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 4, 2020: Reflections of the Alpenglow, Lake Louise

Plain of Five Glaciers Hike with Evan and Sami (110)

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be at the right place at just the right time.
We’d been hiking in Lake Louise, doing its famous Plain of Six Glaciers hike.  The weather had been pretty nice — some threatening clouds but mostly a pleasant day.  We enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Chateau Lake Louise and as we getting ready to leave stopped for one final look at that iconic scene of Lake Louise framed by Mount Victoria and its glaciers.
We were looking west, and Mount Victoria faces east, so it was in shadow.  The clouds above the mountain were catching the pretty light of the distant sun as it hit the Pacific horizon, the so-called “Alpenglow”.
The lake was so …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 28, 2020: Dogwood, Yosemite National Park

00 Dogwood Yosemite

When I make plans to visit California’s Yosemite National Park I target my trip for mid-to-late May.  Mostly this is because the snow melt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is at its peak and the park’s waterfalls are overflowing and amazing.
A second reason for a late spring arrival is to see the dogwoods bloom.  There are two types of dogwoods: 1) a small ground plant (not the one I’m talking about) and, 2) trees that grow up to 30 feet tall having flowers about 3 inches wide.
Yosemite has many mountain dogwoods which are beautiful in bloom, as you can see.  Dogwoods are especially plentiful around the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, but are quite common along most of the park …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 7, 2020: Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park

Banff area, summer 2014 (106) Vermillion Lakes

One of the iconic images of the Canadian Rockies is that of the Vermillion Lakes, with the distinctive mass of Mt. Rundle rising in the distance, and Sulphur Mountain to the right.
Vermillion Lakes are three interlinked lakes which lie just outside the Banff townsite.  The lakes are partially fed by warm water from the Sulphur mountain hot springs, which provides a somewhat sheltered micro-environment for animals in the cold winter months, so you’ll often spot wildlife in the area.
The lakes are popular with hikers, and canoes and kayaks can often be seen on the calm waters.  It’s a nice place to enjoy sunrise or sunset, or just to take in the lovely views.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to …

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