Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico

Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico
Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Left Bank, Paris, Île-de-France, France

The south side of the Seine River in the center of Paris is known as the Left Bank (in French: La Rive Gauche). This small park, Square René Viviani, nicely frames the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the background. Notre-Dame sits in the middle of the river on an island.

There are a few pedestrian-only streets that wind through the area and are very popular with the tourist and local crowds for lunch.

And barely a stone's throw from the river, Amy found us the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Paris, Grenier de Notre Dame (1978), where I enjoyed this avocado-mango-sesame seed appetizer.

The water and wine is gone so I guess lunchtime must be over.  We've been trying out the French-style two-hour lunches with wine - très bon!

After lunch, wandering further brought us to this outdoor stand where made-to-order crepes filled with Nutella were the speciality - of course, we had to have one to warm us up on this winter day in Paris..........ah yes, a fresh, warm crepe in Paris, how fitting........bon appétit!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Look Inside: Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France

I am not a formally religious man but, wandering around in Notre-Dame was truly a powerful emotional experience. The grandeur and history of this almost thousand year-old church was awe-inspiring. As it was a Sunday, regular Mass was ongoing for the hundreds who attended; all the while tourists were circulating at the periphery, almost all with their smart phone cameras, tablets, point-and-shoots, or DSLRs - it seemed that everyone had a photographic device of some kind to record this special place and moment in their life.

The side aisles were less crowded with worshippers than the central nave. The nave is to the right on the other side of the marble columns in this image.

Not everyone could focus on the Priest's words - this sweet child chose quiet dancing and twirling instead.

The line to get in was about 100 meters/yards long but it shuffled along quickly and once inside, it did not feel very crowded. There is no admission fee.

Marble statue of Joan of Arc.

Soaring ceilings and details had many visitors walking around with their necks craned upward - including me.

The light streaming in the stained glass windows was ethereal.

This wood replica helps to appreciate the scale and complexity of the entire structure.  The actual building construction began in 1163 and continued for almost 200 years.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France

"Let's go into Paris today and visit Notre-Dame" - I've never said that in my life before but, I did say it today. It's a visit to a mythical place in my mind - a place I've heard of since early childhood but never seen. It's Paris, the cultural center of both the modern and old world. A place where humanity has lived for more than 2000 years continuously.

Construction of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, or, in English, "Our Lady of Paris," began in 1163 and continued for almost 200 years.

The statue to the right is of Charlemagne, a Frankish king in the 8th century who helped shape the Western Europe that we know today.

After much discussion about driving for an unknown length of time based on traffic or taking a 40-minute train, we decided to drive. How bad could it be? It's a Sunday morning. I've driven hundreds of hours over the years in Boston, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, it couldn't be much worse, could it?

Turns out it wasn't too bad at all. The lanes are narrower than I'm accustomed to or, in some cases, not marked at all, drivers are very aggressive and fast but, all in all it worked out well.  The destination was Notre-Dame and amazingly I ended up parking underground beneath the square directly in front of the Cathedral! It took 40 minutes to get there and, the six hours of parking cost 18 Euros (about $21 USD). So it was cheaper and less time-consuming than driving to the train, riding on the train, transferring to the subway and then reversing the whole routine to come home.

The drive certainly isn't for the faint hearted but, based on this experience I'll try it again soon on a weekday.

With the sun shining and the temperatures in the high 30's and low 40's F, most tourists were just happy to be out and about ......

....but at least one hammed it up by hanging onto a lamp post.

Others had their wedding photos taken by a side doorway.....

....and at least one had orange hair and a green suit - go figure - certainly not in keeping with the chic Paris fashion of mostly dark/black clothing.

As they say in French, "vive la différence!"

Most folks, however, were content with the basic normal portrait.

But enough about the outside, entrance to the Cathedral is free and the waiting line was less than five minutes so, let's go inside.......

....but to get inside, we must pass beneath these dozens of heads carved into the archway........tomorrow I plan to post about the interior of the Cathedral.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Random Sights, East of Paris, Île-de-France, France

What could be more French than renting a Peugeot automobile during our stay in France. Location: Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

Lots of swans, geese, gulls, and pigeons - they've gotten used to humans as a food source and come running when they think a handout is imminent. Location: Lagny-sur-Marne.

The French do love their small dogs. Location: Magny-le-Hongre.

The advantage of a stormy and rainy day is that sometimes, when the timing is right and the sun comes out for sunset, the clouds explode in color. Location: Bailly-Romainvilliers.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rainy Day, Lagny-sur-Marne, Île-de-France, France

We spent a pleasant few hours roaming about Lagny-sur-Marne along with the rain, wind, and cold. Cold is relative, being in the thirties and forties Fahrenheit here in France feels comfortable by comparison to how it was at home recently. By the way, always bring a red umbrella when traveling to spice up either yours or another photographer's image.

It's quite a challenge at first getting around. The signage is confusing to me and I don't understand the language very well but, I will muddle by and things will get easier.

Pedestrian traffic was very light in this weather.

Surprising to me how few people carried umbrellas of any type or color.

Fresh produce is never far away.......

....nor is a church, this is Paroisse de Lagny Notre Dame des Ardents, a 13th century construction formerly known as Saint Peter's abbey church.

It is amazing what folks could build a thousand years ago without modern tools and technology.

One of many beautiful stained glass windows.

This building was being remodeled and rather than covering it with drab plywood, they created a work of art to cover it up. Makes quite a statement on this traditional pedestrian-only street.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Produce Market, Bailly-Romanvilliers, Île-de-France, France

I'm a simple man (some might say simpleton) who never left my home country until I was in my twenties. I never flew in an airplane until that first out-of-country trip. In the forty years since then, I have been fortunate to travel to a few other parts of this big world but, until now, I've never been to France. Leaving Boston on a cold winter's night between snowstorms, we landed six hours and 3,500 miles later in Paris.

The first outing after settling in was to the local produce market to stock up on vegan food. Counterclockwise from upper left, I am familiar with potatoes, pears, tomatoes, blueberries, and onions but, WHAT IN THE HECK IS THAT GREEN THING! I thought I was hallucinating from jet lag and sleep deprivation.

Turns out it is a Choux Romanesco, a member of the broccoli/cauliflower family. Of course, we took it home to try out.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Greatest Hits of 2014 - Last Rays of Sun

About this image:

This intent of this image was to capture the sense of place.  These two young women are sitting on a centuries old stone bench in the late afternoon slanting rays of sunshine - stone bench, stone walls, stone roadway, bikes with baskets which are the most common form of transportation in this Italian town, are nearby awaiting their riders.  I chose to remove all color from the image except the red reflector on the bike. The location is the city of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.


About this series:

Last year, I created about 20,000 images with my point-and-shoot camera.  Of those, I published about 2,000 in 329 separate blog posts. I sat down recently and wandered through those 2,000 images and decided to select around 20 of them to re-publish as my "Greatest Hits of 2014," along with a comment about the image.

First, a comment about digital photography. Comparing digital to film, if I use a purchase price of $7 per roll (for a 36-exposure roll of color film) and add another $13 per roll to process as a benchmark, those 20,000 images would have used about 555 rolls at a total cost of more than $11,000! which would have been unaffordable.

Since I didn't use film, my only cost was the memory card and batteries in the camera. Essentially zero cost per image. No wonder digital camera photography has taken the world by storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

0° Fahrenheit, Manomet,Priscilla Beach, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Over in Priscilla Beach, the day after a blizzard, the sun shines brightly on Priscilla Beach Theatre. The Plymouth area has harsh winters but, the temperature doesn't often stay at or below zero degrees F as it is now.

A close-up of the drifts near the front entrance.

In a few short months, the weather will be warm and voices will be raised in song and speech as the theatre welcomes "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Chicago," to the freshly restored venue.

Over in "downtown" Manomet, the Simes House, which has weathered more than 150 harsh New England winters, stands tall against the post-blizzard winds.

And over in my driveway, it's not the shoveling itself that's so difficult, it's having to throw the snow on top of the increasingly high piles.  I wonder why I thought it was a good idea to get rid of my snow-blower? Seemed like a good decision when I made it wearing a t-shirt and shorts back in August.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Icicles, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Viewed just before sunrise, this icicle reflects and refracts its surroundings into interesting distorted images.

This one looks pretty cool also and, no - that is not my nose it's reflecting. 

When the sun rises, it refracts into dozens of mini-suns in this group of icicles.

Ever notice how icicles look like translucent carrots?

Why did this curve as it was freezing?  Is there a condition of almost-frozen when the wind can bend an imminent freeze? I am amazed.

All these carrots make me hungry for a bowl of soup on this cold winter day.

Yep, a bowl of soup would be nice right about now - except I don't usually eat soup at sunrise.

Later on, at midday, it's still only about 15 degrees so no melting has occurred.  Sure would like that bowl of soup now...................