Monthly Archives: August 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

open-air restaurants and cafes in Istanbul

Young Istanbul-ites gather at outdoor restaurants and bars on a sultry summer evening.

The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul itself, Cappadocia….all these iconic sites come to mind when travelers think of Turkey. But for this week’s photo challenge, I wanted to show a different side of the country that straddles two continents, and, indeed, two worlds. Turkey is at the same time part Asia and part Europe, Islamic yet democratic, both modern and ancient, and in the immortal words of Donnie and Marie Osmond, it’s a little bit country and a little bit Rock ‘n’ Roll.

By Rock ‘n’ Roll, of course, I mean Urban. In the Turkish countryside you’ll see vast acreages dedicated to growing fruits and vegetables. But you’ll also see a plethora of urban centers. Istanbul, certainly, but also Izmir, Ankara, Antalya and many others.

I’ve selected just a few of the many images that to me represent Turkey in its most unique urban sense.

giant ant art display

A giant-ant art installation occupied this Istanbul square across which pedestrians hustled from buses on one side to trains and ferries on the other.

election billboard

Election machinery was revving up while I was there, and political billboards popped up like fields of poppies.

Istiklal street and pedestrians

Crowds of pedestrians on Istiklal Street offer a snapshot of urban life for the 13.5-million inhabitants of Istanbul.

blue tram in Sultanahmet

A modern tram picks up passengers in Istanbul’s Old Town—Sultanahmet—near the Grand Bazaar.

Turkish flag and soldier statue

Turkish Pride—The country’s flag and statues representing soldiers who fought for Turkey’s independence are a common sight in every city.

Hierapolis ruins

The Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was a bustling urban center and healing spa from the first century BC.

Categories: Architecture, culture, History, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel, Travel: Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Fjords of Norway

Norway fjord

A farming community perches on the shore of a fjord in Norway

Norway belongs to the sea. Along it’s western edge, the forces of water have carved a lacy filigree of bays, inlets and fjords like very few places on earth. It’s the fjords, of course, that capture the imagination. Ice Age glaciers creeping slowly across landmasses, carving out narrow channels that eventually fill with water as the glacier melts and retreats, and seawater encroaches. And they’re deep. Some, such as Sognefjord, plunge more than 4,000 feet below sea level, as deep as the height of mountains bordering them.

snowy mountaintop above a Norwegian fjord

Even in late June, a snowy landscape crowns the top of a mountain above a Norwegian fjord.

viewing platform above a Norwegian fjord

It looks like you could walk off the end of this viewing platform above the fjord. The glass front offers a majestic and spine-tingling view of the fjord below.

Where fjords meet the sea, glacially formed underwater valleys mix with other cross valleys to form a complex array of channels. These run parallel to the coast and are walled off from the sea by a chain of mountainous islands and rocks, making a protected passage along much of the entire 995-mile sea journey from Stavanger to North Cape, Norway.

viewing platform above a fjord, Norway

The fjord viewing platform from another angle.

During the winter, towns deep in fjord valleys can be cut off from the outside world. Snow buildups not only clog roads but can unleash avalanches of snow and rock that plunge into the water, sometimes resulting in fjord tidal waves over 100 feet high.

cruise ship, Geiranger, Norway

Our cruise ship anchored off the small town of Geiranger (pop. 250), Norway, at the terminus of the Geirangerfjord. During the 4-month summer tourist season, 140-180 cruise ships carrying several hundred-thousand people come here to experience the spectacular scenery. Nine-mile-long Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But in summer, cruise-ship passengers like us find fjords welcoming and awe inspiring, like peaceful blue-green lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains and replete with ethereal waterfalls and picturesque towns.

cruise ship deck in Geirangerfjord

Waiting in the Geirangerfjord until the tenders start up and ferry us to land.

waterskiing in a fjord

waterskiing in a fjord (disclaimer: shot through the window of a moving bus and between trees as we flew past them).

Categories: cruises, environment, nature, Norway, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

plastic-looking buildings swallow a once-pristine landscape
























This image depicts the merging of old and new, past and present, and the rise of plastic urbanization in the form of cars, roads and buildings. In the words of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, “they paved Paradise, put up a parking lot.”

Categories: Architecture, Conceptual, culture, environment, Hawaii, History, Photography, Stock Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Turkey: So You Think You Can Dance

A belly dancer wow’s the audience in an underground nightclub in Cappadocia, Turkey.

I wish I’d taken a video. Still images don’t do justice to the energy and fluid dynamics of these folk dancers in an underground nightclub in Cappadocia, Turkey. Especially the men. They seemed to have springs in their legs, like Russian Cossack dancers.

Our guide said, “the belly dancer is not very good. She is the daughter of the previous belly dancer who retired.” But we thought she was good. At least she was flashy, loving the attention of all the men, dancing close to them, provocatively. And I loved her costume.

The room was divided into five alcoves with two sets of tiered tables in each. I was fortunate to be sitting in a center alcove on the front end of the second (higher) tier, so I had a good view. Our busload of mostly Australian tourists shared an alcove with another, rowdier group from Spain, several of whom were dancing at their table. The Germans filled up the far right alcove. Italians at far left. As a rough estimate, I’m guessing that there were about 400 people in that room. And all around, raki (very strong Turkish national drink) flowed freely.

When the show finally ended, we boarded our bus for the ride back to our hotel, all of us singing Waltzing Matilda and other Aussie songs.

The next day we visited a shop that sold the most beautiful, wonderfully decorated ceramics. And the woman behind the checkout counter, barely recognizable in street clothes, was our belly dancer. It seems that entertainers everywhere must support themselves with day jobs.

The ladies take center stage

These guys were super athletic

Categories: Architecture, culture, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel, Travel: Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

Attack of the Seagull

I was at least twenty feet away from a fluffy seagull chick, but this mother seagull obviously thought I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If looks could kill. She dive-bombed me multiple times before finally realizing that I wasn’t posing a threat.

I would have liked to ask her why she chose this spot for a baby outing. The chick was on a small church lawn in the middle of a busy Norwegian town.

fluffy seagull chick

Categories: environment, nature, Norway, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Classic Cars and a Dog

It was a party on wheels at the Windward Mall in Kaneohe town, Oahu, Hawaii, and all the classy guys and dolls were there—Bel Air, Mustang, Model-T, Corvette and the rest—decked out in their finest chrome, perfect paint jobs polished till you could see your reflection, and scandalous enough to permit a lingering look under the hood. My fisheye lens and I were covering the event and getting a little too close for the comfort of one four-legged partygoer who eyed me suspiciously. Anyway, the motor oil was flowing freely, and everyone was getting a little tipsy on the nostalgia. All that finery was making me a little giddy, too, and I forgot to jot down make, model and year. So I turn to you, dear reader, to help me out. Do you recognize any of the subjects in these photos?

classic car show

classic car show

classic car show

classic car show, interior

classic car show

classic car show, detail

classic car show, attendee

Categories: cars, Hawaii, History, Photography, Stock Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

The pretty Old Town of Stavanger, Norway.

Looking like a collection of doll houses, this perfectly manicured community is the residential part of Gamle (old town) Stavanger, on the southwestern coast of Norway. Lovingly restored and maintained, 173 wooden houses from the 1700s wind along narrow walkways paved with cobblestones. It’s the largest collection of such houses in Western Europe.

Stavanger was originally nothing more than a pretty village with a well-sheltered harbor. It’s growth spurt started in 1125 when an English bishop came to build a cathedral. Like in so many other places during the early Middle Ages, the cathedral made the town, almost overnight. More people meant more commerce, and Stavanger grew into a fishing capital. Once herring stocks became scarce in the 1800s, the town turned to sardines, and a canning factory was built. By 1900, there were more than 50 sardine canneries here. Shipbuilding also filled the town’s coffers, and then, in the 1960s, Stavanger became Norway’s oil capital after oil was discovered in the North Sea.

For this shot, I had a perfect vantage point from an upper deck of our cruise ship.

Categories: Architecture, cruises, culture, History, Norway, Photography, Stock Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Hawaiian-style Delicacies and a Strawberry Tart

spring rolls stuffed with kalua pork

Broke da mouth. That is what we say in Hawaii when something we’ve eaten is more than just delicious. A recent meal with a group of friends was just that—broke-da-mouth good. And broke da diet, too. Full credit goes to the cooks, Jan and Nadine, and the photos are also theirs, not mine. In addition to pot roast with carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and gravy, here’s what we had at our small gathering:

Have you ever had a salad wrapped laulau style? Undo the string, and the leaves fall open, petal-like, to reveal mixed lettuce and veggies, plus mandarin-orange slices and strawberries.

Strawberry Delight: ginger strawberry tart with a gingersnap-cookie crust, strawberry filling, and a topping of sliced fresh strawberries and strawberry jam.

Peaches and Cream Torte with a graham-cracker-crumb crust, and a filling of sliced peaches, cream cheese and Cool Whip.

cute party crasher

Categories: Food, Hawaii | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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