Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zagreb, Croatia

If you think about the names of the world's dairy cows (Holstein, Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey), you will recognize their European origins. So, wouldn't you expect Europe to have great ice cream? And, it does! The cone, however, is an American invention. [2008]

Friday, April 29, 2011

Istanbul, Turkey

Piles of prayer mats stand ready for service as you enter Rustempasha mosque to perform your rakkas.  Colorful geometric designs make them all different.  Why would you never have an inscription from the Koran on a prayer mat?  Rustempasha is a must-see in Istanbul.  [2000]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paris, France

Do you think of fonts as place-makers? This one steamrolled across the Paris landscape after 1901 when it was created by the designer of Paris's Metro stations. Today, it has become one of the signature fonts of Paris. Do you see the rail lines slicing through the letters? [2005]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Samana, Dominican Republic

Coconut palms have an affinity for the coast. In fact, one of the DR's coastal regions is being called the Coconut Coast. It's an attractive name for real estate development, which is exactly what is encroaching on the old plantations. The next generation of jobs may be in the backs of kitchens instead of on the backs of burros. [1992]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Inspired by American pop culture? T's, hoodies, genes, hip-hop hands. These are the faces of Europe's future. For a few hours this afternoon, they have made Dam square their own. Tomorrow, Holland will be theirs, too. [2004]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rotorua, New Zealand

Inspired by American pop culture? As Maoris, they have one foot in New Zealand's past. As teens, they have another foot in New Zealand's future. And all four have both feet in new sneaks. For a few hours this afternoon, they have staked out Rotorua's CBD as their own. [2006]

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jerusalem, Israel

An empty cross symbolizes the risen Christ. Happy Resurrection Day! Try to figure out the other symbols. What's the meaning of the orb on which the cross rests?  the trefoils? the circle where the axes meet? Holy Trinity Cathedral was built in the 19th century to serve the Russian Orthodox faithful on pilgrimages to Jerusalem. [2010]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

London, England, UK

The Royal Society of Chemistry has its home in Burlington House, so an exhibit on carbon atoms seems entirely appropriate for the central courtyard.  Do you recognize Buckminsterfullerene?  Or, did you think it was a skeletal soccer ball?  Or, perhaps, a conjoined duo of geodesic domes?  [2009]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mount Vernon, Virginia, USA

Every Southern Plantation had its mill, and Mount Vernon was no exception. As it exists today, Washington's Grist Mill is a reconstruction of the original. It now offers visitors a chance to reflect on the economic geography of the 18th century and the importance of renewable energy resources. [2011]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Berlin, Pennsylvania, USA

 No crud-covered farm machinery here.  Instead, an off-season sculpture stands sentry by the roadside, adding a touch of color to the Appalachian Plateau.  [2010]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

St. Mary's, Georgia, USA

Hot summer days require refreshment, and nothing could be better than icy cold lemonade. This wee one's operation seems to be well capitalized. Just look at the investment she has made in decanters. With such business savvy, it's no wonder she has chosen a corner lot for her business. [2007]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ankara, Turkey

Ataturk chose Ankara as the capital of his new Republic of Turkey, and modern nation-building began.  A rallying point was the flag of the new state.  It clearly belongs to the people, seems to be for sale everywhere, and is frequently added to the landscape as a decorative (and patriotic) motif.  [1998]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ballintoy, Northern Ireland, UK

If you really want to commune with the spirit of place, see things you've never seen before, and experience the landscape in all its glory, you have merely to give up your car. Go biking. This group is cycling along the coast of Ulster. They can eat lunch and enjoy a view of the Rope Bridge: both at the same time. [2009]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is what the seagull sees along the Damrak from an overflight of Dam Square (yes, it used to be a dam on the Amstel River). On Queen's Day, the square become a fairgrounds and a Ferris Wheel appears. From high above the square, you can see all the way to the cental railway station. That's the old stock exchange on the right. [2004]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Everybody on the tourist circuit must take pictures of the same thing, in this case the Monte Carlo Casino. In fact, entire landscapes are designed around the quest to give visitors the perfect angle on scenes that will make a place look perfect. [2008]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

These are the colors of Mexico's "tourist fringe," but they are drawn from the color palette of the real Mexico that lies beyond.  Consider the geography of color as you travel.  Different places, different hues.  [2007]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Raqqa, Syria

How many rams can you cram in a cart?  A three-wheeled cart with all the horsepower of a lawn mower!  It's a typical scene in Syria.  The ram-handler is stylin', don't you think?  I think he's the one who's going to make some money on this sale.  What do ewe think?  [1993]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Versailles, France

World War I ended here, but so did the French monarchy. Paris may have been the titular capital of France, but the Sun King (on the steed) moved the seat of government here, to the Palace of Versailles, in 1682. With that move, the French monarchy lost contact with reality, and its end drew nigh. [2005]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seattle, Washington, USA

Along the Duwamish, surrounded by the Port of Seattle, a park begins the process of restoring the wetlands that were once embraced by long-gone meanders. But where is the eye drawn? Up, not down, by a halibut schooner (a 3/8 scale model) that has taken to the air. It succeeds as a sculpture because it occupies a space where it doesn't belong. [2011]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jerusalem, Israel

Have some OJ in J, i.e., orange juice in Jerusalem. The price is written right on the oranges, 4 shekels. Or, you can order fawakih by adding some apple and pear juice (and maybe bananas) to the cocktail. This vendor is right inside Damascus Gate. [1996]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Doesn't it look like it was built in the same decade as the Empire State Building? Both just exude modernity in 1930s style. Superlative it is, though.  At 450 feet, which certainly fits the 'baton' side of the city's name, Louisiana has the tallest capitol in the United States. But, I expected it to be red. [2011]

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Watsons Bay, New South Wales, Australia

From Watson's Bay you get an inkling of Sydney Harbour's immensity. Sorry, Sydney Harbor's immensity. In the distance is the city's CBD. Australians favour the initialism CBD for their 'downtowns.' Sorry again. I meant favor. Perdóname por favor. [2006]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Las Palmas, Jalisco, Mexico

What do you thinka this vinca? It has its feet firmly planted on the ground, where it has found a furrow and flourished. And, unlike you, it can look directly at the sun and feel no pain. I wonder if these curbside denizens envy their brethren who have moved up in the world to the great gardens of suburbia. [2008]

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paris, France

Here's the essence of Paris: sidewalk gazing from an open-front café near the Eiffel Tower, all the while enjoying coffee, tea, and croissants. [2004]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dublin, Ireland

Over a million emaciates left Ireland during the Great Famine. Now, they are commemorated at Custom House Quay as if they, and all their earthly possessions, are bound for the departing steamer. Next stop? Canada, perhaps, where Dublin's loss will be Toronto's gain. [2003]

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Qamishli, Syria

An Armenian Church in Syria's "wild east" reminds us that a few Christian communities still remain in this very Muslim (and very Kurdish) part of the world. Qamishli is a 20th century city, and these Christians came as refugees from the Armenian heartland, just to the north. [1993]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Washington, DC, USA

They arrived as a gift of friendship from the Emperor 99 years ago.  Now, come spring, the Tidal Basin is ringed by a halo of bling thanks to the blossoming Japanese cherry trees.  Who has the best view of the show?  Thomas Jefferson, a secular saint with a halo of his own.  [2011]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Auckland, New Zealand

Just as the 1980s brought festival marketplaces to the waterfronts of American cities, the same thing was going on in Oceania. In Auckland, the old ferry terminal was refashioned to draw people to the harbor's edge for the pleasure of shopping in an historic 20th century building. [2006]

Saturday, April 2, 2011

London, England, UK

Sweet dreams, tough guy on bike. Even in the busiest of cities you can always find a sliver of open space to park your cycle and catch some zzzz. Scenes like this make London such a likable city. [2009]

Friday, April 1, 2011

Athens, Greece

The ancient Greeks must have had an April Fools Day, too. Maybe not. But they certainly had a sense of humor. Could this be the Greek version of the Egyptian god Bes? What do you make of those menacing canines? [2006]