Tag Archives: sunset

There’s always time for sunsets

1 Oct

Autumn is my favorite season in Shanghai.  The winds blow away the pollution, the nights get cool and there can be beautiful, beautiful sunsets.

The first glance out the window

The first glance out the window

We saw this one from our kitchen window on a recent weekend.  Dinner waited as we both stared in awe at the colors that splashed across the sky.  The sunset felt prophetic – the light leading into the heavens.

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Ten minutes later – it was gone, only a memory.

Just before it disappeared

Just before it disappeared

I’m glad I took the time for this sunset.

Happy National Chinese holidays to you all.  Today kicks off a week of vacation during the best time of the year.  We’ll be staying in Shanghai – too much travel for me this year – and enjoying the fall.

Hopefully there will be some more sunsets soon!

Heraklion – the end of day 3

8 Dec

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

It was mid-afternoon by the time we got back into downtown Heraklion.  The next day we were heading on the early ferry to Santorini for three days of white buildings nestled on cliffs.

We decided to find the main square and look at the church there and then wander back down to the port.  Unfortunately when we arrived the church was closed for the afternoon, but after poking around we were able to find out it would be opening soon.

Scouting the church before it opened

Scouting the church before it opened

We settled in the square outside to wait.  It was a perfect afternoon and Heraklion has free wifi throughout the city so it was a painless process.  After a thirty minute wait we went inside.  It was worth the wait.

The Greek Orthodox churches we visited during the trip are incredibly ornate – the murals, lamps and decoration all much more elaborate than the Roman Catholic churches of my childhood.  This one in particular was not that large but very grand.

First view of the inside of the church

First view of the inside of the church

Close up of the chandelier

Close up of the chandelier

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To make it even more special, the stained glass windows colored the foyer shades of the rainbow as we left.  Outside in the square they were setting up for a concert to celebrate the end of the World Tourism celebration.

Light streaming in the foyer

Light streaming in the foyer

On Sunday, most of the shops were closed, but we followed a crowd of people to a square with a view of a fountain and went to try some special Greek sweets.  We both had a glass of fresh juice and delicate doughnuts dipped in honey.

Fresh juice, sweets and the lion fountain in the square

Fresh juice, sweets and the lion fountain in the square

Sated from the treat we wandered back to the port.  The sun dipped low in the sky washing the seaside with warm light.

Flowers for sale as we wandered through the streets

Flowers for sale as we wandered through the streets

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It was a magical evening.

Viewing the sunset

Viewing the sunset

After walking along by the old fort, we headed back for dinner – a lamb schwarma meal right off another square.  As we ate a tumbling club set up their mats in front of us and we were treated to a thirty minute performance of ribbon gymnastics.

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Smiling from the enthusiasm we started to wander back to the hotel, but stopped again at the site of yet another concert with traditional Greek music.  A night market had sprung up and we swayed and danced with everyone else in the square.

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Go to Crete and go to Heraklion.  The city will draw you in, like it did us.  We went there on our honeymoon, but will have memories forever and it seems fitting to write about the trip given we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

The trip, however, wasn’t over – we had much more to see.  More to come.

Back to Beijing

28 Nov

I haven’t been in Beijing for about six months and recently had the opportunity to go back for work twice in the last month.  The first time I went I had heard that the pollution was bad, but I hadn’t realized just how bad until I landed.

Getting in to the car I immediately sensed a strange taste in my mouth.  It was as if a little bit of dirt had gotten into it.  I didn’t notice it at first, but even after a drink of water the taste just wouldn’t go away.  The visitor who I was accompanying took it pretty hard and I knew in his mind, Shanghai was a better city.  It’s funny how the pollution can change your view.

A perfect cup of tea - and a way to wash out my mouth from the grit

A perfect cup of tea – and a way to wash out my mouth from the grit

Because it was his first trip though, I was able to revisit some of my favorite places in Beijing – Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Even with the gray skies, I still had a good trip.

Posing with Chairman Mao - note the gray sky

Posing with Chairman Mao – note the gray sky

The lions in front of the Forbidden City are just as imposing under gray skies

The lions in front of the Forbidden City are just as imposing under gray skies

This shot was taken just as we left the Forbidden City - I noticed the reflection in the water and thought about how I could capture it.  One of my favorite photos recently.

This shot was taken just as we left the Forbidden City – I noticed the reflection in the water and thought about how I could capture it. One of my favorite photos recently.

My more recent visit the situation was flipped – Shanghai has had high PMI 2.5 levels for the last week and Beijing was clearer.  I flew in the evening and I picked up the most beautiful sunset out of the window as I skimmed across the sky.

The sunset welcomed me back to Beijing on my second trip

The sunset welcomed me back to Beijing on my second trip

I’m happy I’ve made it back to Beijing.  It is a completely different city depending on the weather.  What places fall into that category for you and what times of year should be avoided?

Flying high

7 Nov

I am still going through my pictures from Greece.  It is happening in fits and spurts between my new job and business travel and trying to stay in touch with my friends.  The whirlwind continues, but I am having a wonderful time soaring above it all.

These photos from Heraklion, Crete capture my feeling perfectly.  They were all taken on the same day.  I am the one flying high above – enjoying the beauty below and looking for a safe place to land.

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Sunset over the harbor

Sunset over the harbor

An ancient wall and an airplane above

An ancient wall and an airplane above

I head out on another business trip this weekend so may be out of touch for a while, but will come back with more stories and photos.  I just need to make sure I don’t get caught up in the many currents that exist when I’m that high.  Landing can be the most difficult part – trying to relax after the go-go-go of work as it’s a long way down.  I’ll manage.

Do you soar?  What things make you ready to take on the world?  Where do you soar?   The skies of Greece were an ideal place.

Chania, Crete – Greece Day 2

29 Oct

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

Chania, Crete is not nearly as well known as Athens – or even the other more famous Greek Islands of Mykonos or Santorini.  Chania is a beach town, known for a beautiful harbor, a mosque and a tangle of streets that draw you in with restaurants and sweets and vendors.  Crete is the cradle of civilization, home to the Minoan ruins which are even more ancient than the temples we had seen the previous day.   We would see ruins the next day, but first, Chania itself.

We woke to a beautiful morning overlooking the sea.

Day break from the balcony

Day break from the balcony

After a long walk to enjoy the fresh air and sand between our toes, we headed out to explore the town.  The town is situated on a harbor which is surrounded by restaurants overlooking the water.  There was a breaker protecting the harbor that curled out into the water where I would guess there had been a fort or perhaps a guard post.

I don't often find octopus hanging on my way - made us smile

I don’t often find octopus hanging on my way – made us smile

Initial view of the main harbor

Initial view of the main harbor

Church in the square

Church in the square

We wandered until we found lunch.  After lunch we checked out a maritime museum with exhibits on making rope and filling holes.

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

A street performer on the way to the museum

A street performer on the way to the museum

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

We then walked all the way to the end of the breaker – a long walk under the pounding sun but worth it for the incredible views.

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Finally we had some frozen yogurt – mine with peaches and honey and then wandered back to the hotel to watch the sunset.  The owner of the yogurt shop was extremely friendly – even insisting that we not pay until we finished the yogurt and making sure it was up to snuff.

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Sunset over we returned to the town and found a restaurant where we could view the lights of the harbor and eat seafood.

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The next day we would take a bus to the capitol and see ancient ruins, but for that day we were happy being beach tourists under starry skies.

Both of us agreed that Chania had caught us under her spell.

Have you visited a less famous town during a trip and had it enchant you?  Those are the places that you talk about first, before the ones that everyone recognizes, the secret that you want to share – or go back to.  Crete was that for us.

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.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

19 Sep

Today is the full moon, so the official mid-Autumn festival day.  Shortly we will be heading out to Li’s hometown (wedding still TBD).

The weather in Shanghai lately has been absolutely gorgeous – blue skies and cooler nights with some killer sunsets from my office window.  I haven’t been able to stop from snapping photos as I see a blue sky or a building highlighted against it.  Here are several that I have taken in the last week.

The first shots are from an afternoon excursion to Yu Yuan Garden with a friend of my sister.  He happened to be in town for less than 24 hours and said he had already seen the Bund, so I swept him along through Yu Yuan Garden and Xintiandi and we had a grand time.  The blue skies that day made me stand up and notice.

The classic dragon at Yu Yuan Garden

The classic dragon at Yu Yuan Garden

Traditional architecture in the garden highlighted by the sunny sky

Traditional architecture in the garden highlighted by the sunny sky

The second cluster are shots taken while either at work or on my way to a meeting.  I especially paid attention to the Pearl Tower (the TV tower, the round ball thing) which is a symbol of Shanghai because I saw in the paper that after October holidays they are going to renovate it.  I wonder how long it will be under construction and whether this symbol of the city will be dark for a while.

The others – my view will change soon at work and I continue to be amazed at the beauty I see each day.

A snap out of a cab window - the pearl tower with a couple puffy clouds behind

A snap out of a cab window – the pearl tower with a couple puffy clouds behind

Clouds gathering to the north of my office - skies of promise

Clouds gathering to the north of my office – skies of promise

A stunning sunset over Yan An elevated road

A stunning sunset over Yan An elevated road

The final shots are of moon cakes – couldn’t avoid them!  This is a beautiful package that Li’s company gave him with 12 moon cakes in it.  Since I received some as well, this box is currently in transit with us to his hometown.  I like moon cakes, but after two or three, that’s enough.  This package is even more special because from the pictures it looks like the moon cakes are made with precious materials like abalone.  Even more of a reason to share with his family.

Moon cakes in a gold box from the Shanghai Postal service

Moon cakes in a gold box from the Shanghai Postal service

Moon cakes with precious fillings ready to be shared

Moon cakes with precious fillings ready to be shared

I wish all of you a happy, healthy mid-Autumn festival.  May you be surrounded by family and friends during this beautiful time of year to celebrate how you see fit!

On a technical note I may not be able to keep up a regular posting schedule over the next couple of weeks with the different trips we have planned.  Will do my best, but if I miss a post here and there, consider yourselves warned!

Summer skies from 43 floors up

25 Aug

Despite the heat, there have been some beautiful blue skies over the last few weeks.  It seems like every time I glance out my office window I see views that make my heart expand.

I look north – north east typically, but there was one day recently that had me scurrying to our conference room with a view east towards the Bund.  The sky was so clear that it looked like I could jump out of the window and land on the TV tower.  Here are some of the photos from that amazing afternoon.

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Then on another occasion I was about to go home from work when I glanced west out of another set of windows.  The shades were drawn because of the intense heat of the day, but I saw amazing colors of orange as the sun set over the elevated highway.  My phone was close by and I snapped two photos.

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In both of these cases it required me looking up from my computer and looking around me.  I am so glad I did!

I use photos like this to remind me how beautiful Shanghai can be – and to carry myself through the gray skies to come.

How do you capture the beauty in your every day?  Do you take time to notice?  Which shot is your favorite?

Road trip!

20 Aug

A few weeks ago I went to Yangzhou for work.

After clarifying with my colleague that we were really going to Yangzhou (not Changzhou – which I have been to before), I asked how we would get there.  Typically these type of day trips are by train.  Instead, my colleague informed me that he was going to rent a car and we would drive the 3.5 hours there and 3.5 hours back in one day.  I was in for my first road trip in China.

Yangzhou it turns out is very difficult to get to.  You can take a train to Nanjing and then transfer to the slow train that comes once a day.  Or you can take a bus.  Or you can drive.  My colleague decided driving made the most sense.

As a city, it is known for it’s tourist beauty and a ubiquitously named fried rice dish – Yangzhou Fried Rice.  When I asked around about what to eat – everyone said that dish wasn’t eaten in Yangzhou, but I should try their steamed dumplings.  Since I was going to a client meeting I saw none of the beauty of the city – and I didn’t even get to eat the dumplings because we were in the outer technology park.  That’s ok – eventually I’m sure that I’ll get back there.

Being an American, I know how to settle in to a long car ride.  Early that morning three of us met at the designated pick up point.  I came prepared with a large bottle of water, a small bottle of Coke and two packages of mints.  I also nabbed the passenger seat given my long legs and settled in.

Thinking back over the last six years – I have never been in a car in China for that many hours in one day.  I’ve been in buses, on trains and obviously on airplanes, but car rides are typically limited to taxi rides in the city or occasionally grabbing a ride with a colleague or friend who has a car.  As we battled the ever-present traffic in Shanghai trying to get out of the city, I realized how nice it was to not have to deal with tolls and gas stations – the trains really take care of you from that perspective.

As we steadily drove west the traffic thinned out.  My colleagues and I talked about our upcoming meeting, about their hometowns and about all kinds of other things that only make sense in the confessional of a car.  We crossed bridges and rivers, we drove by huge transformer stations and also passed prosperous looking fields.  Given the heat, everything was deserted except the expressway.

The rightly named - "Big bridge" (大桥)

The rightly named – “Big bridge” (大桥)

After pulling off for a quick stop to stretch our legs at a rest area we headed back to the road.  A flashing sign above our heads warned us that the pavement was 53 degrees Celsius (127 degrees Fahrenheit) and we should give our tires the chance to rest often.  Coming back from the meeting the same sign said the temperature of the pavement was over 57 degrees C (137F).  Talk about hot.

Our meeting went well, we had just enough time for a quick lunch near the client’s factory even though we got lost in the last 20 kilometers because the GPS drove us off the road.  Coming back, the same thing happened.  My colleague finally pulled over and asked a local how to get back to the expressway.  He said that until recently, you went one way, but since they just opened another route, lots of people were getting lost lately.

Finally back on the right track, we settled in again and missed the traffic back into Shanghai.  It was a 10 hour day for a 2 hour meeting in total, but did give me a sense for the road trip here in China.

The best part of the road trip - going home with the sun setting behind you

The best part of the road trip – going home with the sun setting behind you

Where has been your favorite road trip?  What treats do you bring along?  Are you a map reader or a GPS junkie?  Share your stories.

Shanghai summer

30 Jul

This time of year the heat is overpowering – I’ve written about it before, but every year it comes back.

Since I have come back from Taiwan the heat has been almost unbearable – close to 40 degrees C or 105 degrees F.  I have gotten to the point where I have noticed that my earlobes are sweating.  That’s pretty hot!  Even the occasional thunderstorm doesn’t cool things down.

We have the air conditioning on the entire time we are in the apartment, even for sleeping, but the heat puts me into a daze.  Ick.

Looking at the weather report for the next two weeks there is no respite, just continuous high temperatures with the heat index pushing even higher.  It could continue this way until September.  I’m not sure if I can handle another month.

One positive is that because of the wind from the typhoons the pollution is blown out of Shanghai.  That means that the sunsets are truly remarkable – a beautiful close to the day as I make my way home through the heat.

The heat is almost worth it - what a beautiful sunset!

The heat is almost worth it – what a beautiful sunset!

Another good thing that I especially like about this time of year though is the summer peaches.  This year my husband had a colleague whose family has their own peach trees.  The colleague brought in over a dozen peaches for every person.  The night Li brought them home we feasted on the sweet summer fruit, juice dripping down our elbows and our chins as we enjoyed this symbol of summer.

Perfect summer peaches - soon after they were devoured!

Perfect summer peaches – soon after they were devoured!

My Shanghainese colleagues swear that the summers were cooler when they were children.  I don’t know if that is true or not – it’s difficult to tell, but I certainly hope so!

I am of the firm belief that many places in this world would not become what they are today without the invention of air conditioning.  I can’t imagine living in Dubai or even Singapore without its cooling breeze.  Our world would be different.  Even the Founding Fathers in Washington, D.C. had the good sense to exit the area in the summer because it was too hot.

Our ability to handle heat changes over time as well – I have a coworker who is Malaysian but he says he can no longer take the heat of his hometown.  Another friend who is Indonesian says the same thing.  Maybe air conditioning has made us soft?

What has been the hottest weather where you have lived?  I don’t mind heat during the day, but when it doesn’t cool off at night it is tough to handle.   Soon though I’m sure we’ll be saying it’s too cold!

Hope you’re enjoying your summer!  May August be full of friends, sunsets,  barbeques and beaches for you.

Enjoying now

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