Tag Archives: photo challenge

Beginnings

5 Jan

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

At the start of a new year, it seems appropriate to think of where we came from – or rather where the cradle of western civilization was developed.  On our last day in Athens we went to see the ruins of the ancient agora – the marketplace that existed thousands of years ago.

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The agora is situated with hills surrounding it, monuments and temples perched above.

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We wandered through the “streets” wondering at whose feet may have walked on the stones, then peered into one of the most ancient churches that exist in Europe.  That would have been the beginning of something else.

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If stones could talk – what would they say about that time?

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This post is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning.  To see how others illustrated it, click the link.

How do you define a beginning?

Christmas in New York

22 Dec

Right after Thanksgiving I was in New York for a couple of days of meetings.  With my flight schedule I was lucky enough to have half a day free to wander the city before my meetings started in earnest.  I haven’t been in the US this time of year for seven years and was soaking up everything.

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The hotel was downtown – not far away from Grand Central Station so I started a mosey which led me from there to Bryant Park (made famous to me from Project Runway) and then to view the windows in Macy’s on 34th Street.  The weather was perfect – not too cold, with blue sky peeping out from behind the skyscrapers.

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The decorations, music, free ice skating and blue skies set me humming Christmas tunes the rest of the day.

Later that evening I met a friend for dinner up by Lincoln Center.  Coming up from the subway there was a group on the corner singing Hannukah carols in the twilight.  I gawked for a while and then hurried to the restaurant.

Only in New York.

I will be heading back Stateside to celebrate with family and friends during this happy time of year.  May you find peace and joy in the holiday season.

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New York is one place that is unique – a complete cultural mix and represents the US to so many people outside of it.  It is one place that is very special.  This post is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – One.  To see how others illustrate it, please click the link.

Thank you for your support and comments over the year.  Merry Christmas!

Heraklion, Crete – the delicate details

3 Nov

This post is part of our travels in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

After a wonderful experience in Chania, we headed out early the next morning to the capital of Crete – Heraklion.  We took the bus and the views up and down the coast made us both want to get off and explore further.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel and checking in, we headed to the Archaeological Museum in the center of town.  The travel guides suggested we go there first before heading to see the ruins at Knossos because it would give us a better idea of how things should have looked in the past.

The museum was wonderful – it gave us a glimpse into the history of that area over 3000 years ago.  One thing that struck me was the delicacy of many of the items on display.  The attention to detail made many of them seem like I could take them home today.

There were crowns…

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and small bronze statues that looked like dolls, though I believe they were icons or offerings to the gods.

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One of my favorites were the delicate murals on the walls

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and then the mosaics lining the floor that were as beautiful as carpets.

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I tend towards delicate jewelry and details.  The Minoan culture even though it was so long ago was very relatable and made me very excited to see the rest of Heraklion and the ruins of Knossos.

This post was inspired by Alisa at Where’s My Backpack.  Her travel theme this week is Delicate.  I am happy to participate again in one of her weekly travel themes.  To see how others define delicate, please click the link.

Have you ever felt that you could walk into another culture and feel at home?  What details do you need to see for that to happen?

Horizons of Chania, Crete

27 Oct

As I was going through the hundreds of photos from our trip to Greece, I realized that there are many, many shots of horizon lines, especially where the ocean meets the sky.  These four photos were chosen from our stay in the town of Chania, Crete and capture one day – from early morning through sunset.  The photos were taken from different points as we explored the coast.  Each time I look at them it takes me back to that beautiful September day.

Morning in Chania

Sea and sky - Chania

Afternoon sky - Chania

Sunset in Chania

To see how others responded to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Horizons, please click the link.

What do you see on your horizon?

To see other posts from our adventures in Greece, please click here.

American architecture – The National Cathedral and Capitol Building

13 Aug

The travel theme that I posted on last time from Where’s my Backpack – Architecture, would not get out of my head.  I kept thinking of all of the other places I’ve been recently and how the architecture changes depending on where I was and the purpose for the building.  So, for the first time I am going to post a second entry into Ailsa’s weekly competition.

A second posting was needed because I finally went through some of the photos from our recent trip to the US.  We spent three days in Washington, D.C. and were blessed with blue skies and wonderful summer weather during which we explored the city.  I cannot take credit for the photos as they are from my husband’s camera – but I can certainly enjoy and share them with you here.

Our first full day we saw both of these remarkable buildings – the National Cathedral and the U.S. Capitol Building.  The architecture of both is classic and instantly recognizable to those who have been there before.

Despite living in China, for the entire trip I kept being reminded of how lucky I am to be an American citizen with the freedoms that exist.  Each small thing – the peace roses by the Cathedral, enough breeze to send the flag into the air, congressmen posing with students on the steps of the capitol building – added to my pride.

Enjoy the photos.

The front of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

The front of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

View from the side of the National Cathedral with a blue, blue sky.

View from the side of the National Cathedral with a blue, blue sky.

Peace roses blooming in the gardens below the Cathedral

Peace roses blooming in the gardens below the Cathedral

The iconic US Capitol Building

The iconic US Capitol Building

Enough breeze to fly the flag - and stir my pride

Enough breeze to fly the flag – and stir my pride

If you want to see how others have defined “architecture” please click the link above.

What architecture makes you proud?

The architecture of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

11 Aug

One late afternoon (after watching the storm roll in and out) during my visit to Taiwan, I continued to explore Taipei.  My last stop before heading back to the apartment was Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

The complex consists of two very traditional Chinese buildings – one a performing arts center and the other a museum, which flank a large gate leading into a colossal square.  It feels a little like the Forbidden City with the scale, meaning that the architecture is not set to a human dimension but is intended to awe.  At the end of the square is the memorial to Chiang Kai-shek.

By the large gate were a group of people protesting something but I wasn’t in the mood to poke around.  It could have been people wanting to rejoin with China, or propaganda for Chinese tourists who make their way there – I don’t know.  But the group wasn’t that large – less than 50 and so I continued forward.

The entrance gate

The entrance gate

The first thing I noticed was that square was full of children – I know Taiwan’s birth rate is declining, but you wouldn’t guess that from the number of kids running and playing and splashing through the puddles left over from the downpour.  Families walked and talked and snapped an occasional picture, enjoying the breeze and cooler temperatures from earlier in the day.

Music floated through the air from a concert going on – I am guessing they had opened the back doors to get a cool breeze and it was as if I had a soundtrack as I steadily approached the highest point to take a picture of the statue of Chiang Kai-shek.   Some of the music was traditional Chinese and another piece sounded like a John Phillips Sousa march – an eclectic mix to move me forward.

One of the great halls - with traditional tile roof

One of the great halls – with traditional tile roof

Looking down from the highest point I was able to view where I had come and enjoy the view.  No high rise apartment buildings crowded the square – the gardens below laid out a patchwork quilt of patterns only visible from above.

Chiang Kai-shek flanked by the Taiwanese flag

Chiang Kai-shek flanked by the Taiwanese flag

Looking back from the top of the monument

Looking back from the top of the monument

I didn’t study the history before I visited Taiwan – different websites had different points of view as to the version of events that were emphasized in different places.  As I stood there I wondered about the people who built the square and their intended purpose.  I thought about what they would think about the current state of relations between Taiwan and China.  Then, I stopped.  For that afternoon, for me – the architecture and feeling of awe was enough.

Viewing the gardens

Viewing the gardens

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This post was inspired by Where’s My Backpack’s Travel Theme – Architecture.  If you’d like to see how others visualize the theme please click the link.

Architecture can influence our emotions and rally us around an idea or a concept.  The cathedrals of Europe, the temples of India, the pyramids of Egypt, the great wall of China – all were created by people who were searching for a bigger purpose.  They were representing things greater than a single individual.  What architecture do you enjoy the most? Where have you had that “sense of awe” recently?

Into the wilds of Michigan

6 Aug

As the heat continues to beat down on me in Shanghai, my thoughts have flown to the other more pleasant places I have recently rested my head.  Towards the beginning of my long trip in June I was lucky to spend several days in northern Michigan at my family’s cottage on Lake Huron.  It is the place where I have gone ever since I was small to escape both from the normalcy and extreme pressures of life.

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

My first full summer in China I escaped there for a week after which I was able to recover from a near break down and finally abandon my perfectionist tendencies that were holding me back in China.  It is a comforting place – but one that is quite literally worlds away from where I currently call home.

Looking out towards the pines

Looking out towards the pines

Part of what makes it such a wonderful place to escape is the nature that surrounds the cottage.  Looking out the picture windows I can see Lake Huron and the ducks and seagulls that float and fly by.  On the lawn and behind the house are Michigan white pines that have seen generations of my family play and grow old.  There’s not a meal that goes by where a naughty squirrel won’t run across the lawn or a hummingbird samples the syrup at the feeder.  We have flowers surrounding the house – both real and plastic (the wind on the lake side punishes flowers) and the long drive that leads you in makes you believe you are miles from everywhere.

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Even the "creatures" can enjoy the view

Reflections of home

We take friends on nightly deer watching rides as dusk slides over the land.  Skunks and bugs and bats all call this corner of northern Michigan home and they have been there much longer than I.  It is a constant battle against the sun or the wind or the water to preserve our privacy and the house that exists there.

Dusk at the water

Dusk at the water

On hot nights in Shanghai I go there in my dreams to the place where the lake laps at the shore and the bats and chipmunks scratch at the roof.  It is wild and it is home.

The perfect iris

A wild iris

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s travel theme – Wild.  I haven’t linked up with her for quite some time, so if you are curious about how others define Wild – click the link and check it out!

What does wild mean to you?  I think cities can be wild – the constant people and tall buildings and the acceptance of things that where everyone knows your name just don’t happen.  The wilds of nature have rules that are as old as time, where the rules in cities keep changing.  Which do you pick?

Wuzhen – a water village

23 May

In April we held a large event for our vendor community.  Because we called on resources all across China we decided to do a team building event the following day and take advantage of our colleagues from different places all being together.  The location of the offsite was Wuzhen – a water village about two hours outside of Shanghai.

I had been to another water village Zhujiajiao four years before, but that visit had occurred in January so I had never really gotten the full sense of the magic of the water villages before.

For the purist, Wuzhen is not a living water village anymore.  Most of the original houses have been turned into restaurants or guest houses and there are boutique shops that line the streets of the town.  There are myriads of shoe stores, sweet shops selling local delicacies and expensive water taxis that will take the well heeled tourist from one side to the other.  After seeing it though, that doesn’t matter to me – the beauty and peacefulness that I found there made it one of the least crowded and enjoyable mornings I have spent in China thus far.

It started the night we arrived where above the reception area were lanterns representing a dragon and a phoenix.  They illuminated the dark room and gave a sense of magic to the space.

The fire of the dragon

The fire of the dragon

was complemented by the beauty of the phoenix

was complemented by the beauty of the phoenix

That continued into my hotel room where the paintings and four poster bed grounded the space into traditional Chinese history.  From my window I could get a sense of one of the channels of the river running close by, but I couldn’t see into the darkness.  The hotel had planks embedded into the floor in the hallways which gave me the impression that I was walking over a bridge to my room.

Traditional Chinese art on the walls of the room grounded by the wood floors and carved pillars.

Traditional Chinese art on the walls of the room grounded by the wood floors and carved pillars.

The next morning before my meetings I went to wander the paths of the village.  I didn’t have a lot of time, so I tried to see as much as I could.

First view of the canal and the typical transportation by boat

First view of the canal and the typical transportation by boat

Peaceful water with reflection of the trees

Peaceful water with reflection of the trees

Mist rising off the water - the canals are fairly wide

Mist rising off the water – the canals are fairly wide

But the streets are very narrow - you can even touch both sides

But the streets are very narrow – you can even touch both sides

Bridges would cross from one side to the other

Bridges would cross from one side to the other

With gardens on some of the dry land, beckoning me in

With gardens on some of the dry land, beckoning me in

And scenes carved into the wall with bamboo behind reminding me of an earlier time

And scenes carved into the wall with bamboo behind reminding me of an earlier time

The mix of water and lanes and bridges with gardens just on the other side made me feel glad to be alive.  There was mist rising over the rivers and yet I could see the reflections of the trees in the canals.  It was a special place.

Wuzhen also happens to represent the elements which is the weekly travel theme at Where’s My Backpack – the Four Elements.  There is the water of the canals, the wood of the houses, the fire of the lanterns, earth of the bricks that make up the streets and the mist which rises through the air over the entire scene.   To see how others visualized the elements, please feel free to click on the link.

It also links up with the Weekly Photo Challenge this week which is Escape.  For that morning I escaped the loudness, the pollution, the busyness of Shanghai and was able to see a more natural world.  Wuzhen is a true escape from Shanghai.

Where do you escape to?

A final look

A final look

Hualien Beach, Taiwan

12 May

I recently took a trip to Taiwan with my colleagues – the annual outing once again.  Two years ago, it was my trip to Zhangjiajie that led to the first post on my blog.  Last year I headed to Tengchong and then also slipped in a weekend in Korea with my colleagues.  This time we had 20 people on the bus, none of whom (myself included) had been to Taiwan before.

We had a very full schedule over the trip and it was the end of the second full day that we headed to the eastern side of the island to the area called Hualien (花莲).  It had been raining off and on all day and just before we stopped for dinner the bus pulled over to a rest stop by the sea. It was one of the scenic spots on the two lakes bikeway that winds itself across Taiwan.   We made our way down to the beach and walked along the surf.  This wasn’t a sandy beach, but the rocks were polished and the waves crashed over the edge.

Clouds breaking over Hualien beach in Taiwan

Clouds breaking over Hualien beach in Taiwan

The mist from the rain lingered but the clouds broke a little.  I snapped a photo of a lone fisherman down the beach casting into the water.

It was one moment that stayed with me during the rest of the trip.

This post was inspired by the Travel Theme: Beaches – over at Where’s My Backpack.  To see how others illustrated a beach, please click the link.

I have published photos of other beaches over the last several years – a beach vacation is one of my absolute favorites.  To see some of those posts, you can also click here.

Where’s your favorite beach?  Are you an umbrellas and a pina colada fan or do you look for deserted coastline and sea spray?  Is it the closest beach or the one half a world away that calls to you?

Wherever it is – may you have time in the next several months to take a visit.  I hope I will!

A light-filled afternoon

5 May

I recently was in Hong Kong for a conference.  One afternoon I was able to work from the hotel room instead of going into the office.  I was incredibly productive without any phones ringing or distractions from colleagues and I had a beautiful view to keep me company.

Sun streaking through the clouds over Hong Kong Island

Sun streaking through the clouds over Hong Kong Island

As the sun traveled across the sky I had to close the drapes as it kept getting brighter and brighter.  However, even through the drapes you can still pick out the mountains on Hong Kong island through the sheers.  The light and blue sky made my afternoon.

Sun through the sheers - now all I need is a cat to curl up in the sunbeam

Sun through the sheers – now all I need is a cat to curl up in the sunbeam

I am connecting up with Alisa’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack? – Light – for the first time in several months.  It seemed to me that this picture captures that concept – a bright, sunny day.  To see how others portray “Light” please click here.

Happy Cinco de Mayo – may you all have a sunny day to celebrate!

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