Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

The so-called New Mosque, once known only for being overpopulated by pigeons, has undergone a face lift and received a little attention from landscape architects. Now, it look more fitting for a world city like Istanbul. [2015]

Monday, March 30, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

He's a man without a country, a Syrian in Turkey, a refugee from Aleppo. Despite his university degree, his options in Istanbul are limited. So, he is on the street touting travel services provided by a small company jointly owned by a Syrian and a Libyan. Let's hope he eventually gets the chance to live up to his potential. [2015]

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

He and his son are probably not reflecting on the cultural heritage that exists beneath their feet. Just underground are the vast chambers that constitute Istanbul's Byzantine cistern, now a tourist attraction. It was built when the Byzantine Empire was at its height. Chime in if you know what a cistern is. [2015]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brussels, Belgium

Belgian cuisine brings to mind chocolate, mussels, waffles, and frites, but Belgians eat far more bread than any of their signature foods. And, new Belgians from North Africa seem to fill a critical role in putting bread on everyone's table. Chime in if you know what frites are. [2015]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Brussels, Belgium

It is amazing how something so small can be used so successfully to brand a city. It's nothing more than a corner fountain, but crowds of gawkers are assembled around it every day. Can you guess why? [2015]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Antwerp, Belgium

The verge of spring brings thoughts of new sidewalks and refurbished pedestrian places. Team work makes it all happen on Antwerp's Koningin Elisabethzaal. [2015]

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Antwerp, Belgium

It's not hard to imagine how the African lion got is nickname: King of the Beasts. At Zoo Antwerpen no cages enclose the pride. They have a natural savanna environment all their own. [2015]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Lions are so gregarious. These two females seem to be getting along quite well even though they share a mate. This pride is lucky to have a garden home in Holland's Artis Zoo. The twentieth century was hard on Panthera leo. That's a euphemistic way of saying that human beings, the 'wise ones,' do not want to share the planet with any other large mammal. [2015]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Antwerp, Belgium

African penguins, flamingos, and white pelicans are the birds that visitors love the most, so zoos everywhere put them near the entrance or in some other attention-grabbing location. At Zoo Antwerpen, one of the oldest in Europe, the penguin colony has an open environment right in the middle of the menagerie. [2015]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Amsterdam, Netherlands

We know that 'pelican' comes from ancient Greek. The sources posit its etymology from 'axe.' How likely is that? These are water birds, so it seems far more likely that it comes from the word for 'sea,' pelagos, literally the landscape that is spread out. That would apply to any placid water, fresh or salt. From pelagos we get pelican. What do you think? [2015]

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Although it is but one of many sculptures along Puerto Vallarta's malecon, 'the boy on the seahorse' has become the most well-known symbol of the city. Wouldn't it be fun to ride a seahorse? Wouldn't it be fun to be young again? Wouldn't it be fun to visit Puerto Vallarta? [2008]

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Office workers in Hong Kong come down from their urban high-rises and emerge into the country, where landscapes are green, and reminders of Eden are all around. [2011]

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sinaia, Romania

No, they are not washed after each use! Yet, drinkers survive to tell the tale. Scenes like this seem so out of place in our antiseptic world, but "the communal cup" has a long history at the well, beside the sink, and on the altar. [2014]

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waterford, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

Seaside settings succeed when they blend browns, blues, and greens. The principle holds even when the greens have been contributed by an invasive species. The fast-growing, salt-tolerant, and drought-resistant casuarina is an invasive species from the southwest Pacific. Would you prefer a palm? [2014]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

San Pedro, Belize

Belize's Mennonites are self-sufficient farmers and skilled mechanics. Their ancestors came to Canada from the German frontier of the Russian Empire, thence to Mexico, and finally Belize. It is unusual to find Mennonites on the barrier reef islands, but this father and his two sons took the ferry to San Pedro to repair (and perhaps buy) an engine. [2015]

Monday, March 16, 2015

Koper, Slovenia

What would you call him? (a) a tonal adjuster, (b) a digital busker, (c) a musical muse, (d) an electronic musician, (e) a synth addict, (e) all of the above. [2008]

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Damascus, Syria

History might have been different had Hafez al-Assad's eldest son and chosen successor not been killed in a car accident in 1994. For years afterwards, Bassel al-Assad's portraits and memorials were seen all over Syria. Then, in 2000, Hafez died and his younger son, Bashar, took over. Today is the fourth anniversary of the run-amock Syrian uprising. [1996]

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Spider Man took charge of Priority Mail in 2014. Why? Because Spider Man and Priority Mail share many qualities, "namely those of speed, agility and relability." So sayeth the U.S. Postal Service. [2014]

Friday, March 13, 2015

Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

Wearing a yellow ribbon in hopes that troops abroad will come home safely has a long history. In 2003, as American solders were off fighting yet another Middle East war, yellow ribbons became a ubiquitous part of the cultural landscape, including orchestrated displays like this one under the watchful beacon of the 'new' Cape Henry Lighthouse. [2003]

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Newport, Oregon, USA

The Yaquina Head Light Station, Oregon's oldest, uses a first-order Fresnel lens to concentrate the light from a 1000-watt bulb so it can be seen 19 miles out to sea. The bulb replaced an oil-burning wick, but the Fresnel lens is original. It was made in the 1860s and, like all Fresnel lenses, came from France. [1987]

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marbella, Andalucia, Spain

Marbella has what every coastal town wants, a lighthouse. This one celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. Yes, it's an aide to navigation, but today it is more important as an amenity, valued by tourists and natives alike. [2015]

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Marbella, Andalucia, Spain

He's just been to the morning market and is coming home with two bags full of victuals and three dozen eggs. Somebody's going to have a bodacious Spanish omelette for breakfast! For those who map out egg colors, the Costa del Sol seems to be brown egg territory. [2015]

Monday, March 9, 2015

La Linea de la Concepción, Andalucia, Spain

La Linea is the Spanish city on the Gibraltar frontier. When you enter from The Rock, the first thing you see is the monument to the thousands of Spanish workers who commute across 'the line.' Actually, the first thing you see is the golden arches, and the second, a different corporate emblem, both with deep roots in America. [2015]

Sunday, March 8, 2015

City Centre, Gibraltar

Could it be that Diagon Alley is actually in Gibraltar? Was the Leaky Cauldron just a front? After all, it looks like Harry Potter's cousin has found a new broomstick somewhere nearby. And, what better environment could you find for training on a broomstick than the British colony's famous rock? [2015]

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Rock, Gibraltar

So many of us have learned to call Gibraltar's other primate inhabitants Barbary Apes, but they are really monkeys. We should call them Barbary Macaques. A few hundred inhabit the Rock of Gibraltar; their nearest kin are in the mountains of North Africa (hence, Barbary). [2015]

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Rock, Gibraltar

Whether you approach by land, sea, or air, the Rock of Gibraltar dominates all vistas. It's geology is ordinary: simply limestone. Its geography extraordinary: simply spellbinding. [2015]

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bath, England, UK

Deindustrialization has its upside as well as its downside. During the industrial era, rivers were crucial to most manufacturing operations. Now that manufacturing has been off-shored and tech-shored, river corridors have been turned back to the people. Even the canal boats look distinctly recreational. [2015]

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bath, England, UK

In the 1960s, everyone thought troll dolls were going to take over the world, and they did for a while. Now, they seem content to be just a small part of the 20th century nostalgia boom, on sale in Bath's old train station. Can you put a pin in the place where troll dolls were given life by a woodcutter as a birthday present for his daughter? [2015]

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bristol, England, UK

While the patient swans are waiting for some throw-me-downs, the kleptoparasite seagulls are steeling food from the grip of indulgency  (see the flutter above his hand?), and the scavenger pigeons are cleaning up the mess. [2015]

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bristol, England, UK

A cold February day brings out a solitary fisherman. Here he is, trying to reel in supper from the Bathurst Basin between the floating harbour and the river. [2015]

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Flowers can be depended upon to brighten up any landscape. These giant daffodils are pole sculptures, a not-so-subtle reminder that you are in Wales and that St. David's Day is today. The daffodil is Wales' national flower and David is the saint who Christianized the Welsh. [2015]