Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cardiff, Wales, UK

What is the capital of Wales? Cardiff. What was the capital of Wales sixty years ago? London. In 1955, Cardiff became the official capital of Wales, but it was a capital in name only. The country had no government! In fact, it took until 1997, for the people of Wales to create a National Assembly of their own, now in a new building on the old Cardiff docks. [2015]

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cardiff, Wales, UK

The visual arts keep memories alive: memories of the coal industry and memories of Dylan Thomas, Easy to recognize the Welsh miner who made the Industrial Revolution happen; not so easy to recognize the Welsh poet who made the world listen. His Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait inspired this beastie bench on Cardiff Docks. [2015]

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK

"Proper proud Welsh!" That was his answer. The question was: "Are you a Welshman?" And, then, he bared the evidence: He pulled up his sleeve and there was the Welsh Dragon. [2015]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK

There has been a Christian church on this site for over 1500 years. The first was built over a martyr's grave, the final resting place of St. Tudful (Welsh spelling), murdered by marauders in 480 AD and later canonized because of her acts of compassion. It is after 'Martyr Tydfil' that the town was named. [2015]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

London, England, UK

It's the latest craze in pop culture: the selfie stick. Every tourist and all other creatures with mobiles must have one. Here one of those creatures (identification needed!) is headed across the Millennium Bridge in the direction of the Tate Modern. If that is where he is going, he will be lucky if he gets in. Many museums have banned them. [2015]

Monday, February 23, 2015

London, England, UK

The Shard, completed in 2012, is the tallest building in London and the tallest in the European Union. The 21st century has seen a spate of high rises in a city which used to pride itself on its low-rise skyline. London now has 18 skyscrapers over 450 meters. Some are in the East End, some are in Canary Wharf, and one (this one) is in long-neglected Southwark. [2015]

Sunday, February 22, 2015

London, England, UK

There seems to be a new word circulating on the streets of London: constructor. Someone who works in construction is a constructor. Companies all over town are registering with the Considerate Constructors Scheme which encourages workers to attune themselves to the neighborhood and the environment. The constructor here is a perfect example. [2015]

Saturday, February 21, 2015

London, England, UK

On their way to the grocers and restaurants in Chinatown, they are delivery boys. On their way back to the truck, they are buskers. So much of city life is just fun to watch. [2015]

Friday, February 20, 2015

London, England, UK

Chinese New Year festivities extend right through the week-end here in London, the site of the biggest celebration outside of China itself . According to the pole banners, it's the Year of the Sheep. Mutton and lamb, though, don't seem to be among the signature dishes of Chinatown's many ethnic eateries. [2015]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Today begins the Year of the Goat, not just in China but throughout Southeast Asia and around the world. According to Chinese astrology, people born this year will be creative, artistic, charming, and fond of nature. Do you know anyone who is expecting? They might appreciate knowing. [2011]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Steins, New Mexico, USA

Adobe: "a type of brick made of a mixture of mud and straw that is dried in the sun" according to Merriam-Webster. Today, however, it has another definition: "the software company that pesters the living daylights of you by delivering a steady stream of updates and insisting that you install them immediately." [1987]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Zanesville, Ohio, USA

Zanesville styles itself as the pottery capital of the world. Today, the artsy side of molded clay may have taken over, but historically it was the utilitarian side of the industry that formed the economic base of the town. While lots of places have clay deposits, Zanesville was on the main road west in an era before plastics were invented. [1987]

Monday, February 16, 2015

Washington, DC, USA

Before it looks perfect, it looks like a work zone. Same is true of every mature landscape we see. Either nature or humans do the work, and often the two work together. [2012]

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Piraeus, Greece

Mullets eat detritus. Bigger and fleshier species eat mullets. Consequently, mullets make good bait fish. They may be found on every wharf and pier in Greece. [2005]

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bucharest, Romania

Fear of 13 is called triskaidekaphobia. Fear of cats is called ailurophobia. Fear of black is called melanophobia. But that's so yesterday: Black Friday. Today is Valentine's Day. Don't forget the flowers. One more question: What do you call fear of being in love? Philophobia. [2014]

Friday, February 13, 2015

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

It's Friday the 13th: Don't let a black cat cross your path. This year we maximize the number of 'Black Fridays.' There are 3. Now test your fears. What's fear of the number 13 called? What's fear of cats called? What's fear of black called? Answers tomorrow. [2011]

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pas de la Casa, Andorra

It is not easy entering Andorra from France. You have to wind your way up the north flank of the Pyrenees and through the 'pass of the house.' One shepherd's hut, however, has become a frontier town and ski resort complete with a touch of America. At more than 9,000 feet above sea level, this might be the highest McDonald's in Europe. [2005]

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ephesus, Turkey

Are you able to identify the order of classical Greek architecture that is on display here? The Greeks would have called the land of Ephesus Ionia, and the column seen here is topped by an Ionian capital. This one, however, is decorated with a bull's head. [2014]

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ephesus, Turkey

The best of ancient Greek cities is Ephesus, but it is not even in Greece. It's in Turkey. Stone by stone, the city has slowly been put back together by talented archaeologists. One can only hope that the mid-torso of this Greek patrician will eventually be found. Seen here: the Pollio fountain. [2014]

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ephesus, Turkey

Her name is Nike. She is the winged goddess of victory in Greek mythology. See the laurel wreath she holds ready to bestow upon the victor? Examine her flowing robes closely and see if you can find the Nike swoosh. That swoosh populates the sports fields of the modern world just as it populated the battle fields of ancient Greece. [2014]

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Marrakech, Morocco

There, amidst the tastes, colors and textures that have defined Morocco for centuries, is the Nike swoosh, one of the most well-known corporate logos in the world. Yet, the swoosh has been around only since 1971 when it was designed by Carolyn Davidson. Ever wonder where she got the idea? [2005]

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Havana, Cuba

Cuba's national flag, the Football Club of Barcelona's shield, England's Cross of St. George, Catalonia's Senyera, America's Nike Inc., and the Qatar Foundation: the loving tentacles of globalization have wrapped their arms around one young Cuban boy getting ready to face the world. Guess whose name is on the back of the jersey. [2014]

Friday, February 6, 2015

Brenner Pass, Italy

In the Tyrolean Alps, castles were built on high promontories to surveil passage, charge tolls, and assure order. Cutting through the Alps was the Brenner Pass. It was a natural passageway between two complementary climate regions, one subtropical with its winter growing season and and one temperate with its summer growing season. Trade ensued. [1984]

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Chetumal is the state capital of Quintana Roo. With the legislative palace (or, what Americans would call the State House) in the background, the malecon provides an open waterfront on the Bay of Chetumal for all to enjoy. [2015]

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico

At Chetumal's mercado viejo, or old market, everything is fresh and plump, and you can find ingredients that are unique to Yucatecan cooking like chia and achiote seeds. Even better: You can look into the eyes of the person who keeps you well fed. [2015]

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker is one of the larger islands in the world's second largest barrier reef, the one off the coast of Belize. If all you want to do is relax, Caye Caulker is the laid-back place to go. [2015]

Monday, February 2, 2015

San Pedro, Belize

San Pedro is a tourist town located on Ambergris Caye. Having breakfast here is not a tourist, however, but a native who will help keep San Pedro looking good for visitors.  His day will be spent painting houses and shops. [2015]

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Belize City, Belize

Haulover Creek splits the peninsula on which Belize City is located in two. It was an ideal location for the British to colonize in 1638 because the creek gave access to inland logwood and mahogany resources. It has always been vulnerable to hurricanes, however, and that was the reason the British moved the capital to inland Belmopan in 1970. [2015]