Tuesday, 27 July 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 298 - MACAU, CHINA

“Gambling with cards or dice or stocks is all one thing. It's getting money without giving an equivalent for it.” - Henry Ward Beecher
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Macau (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China), is an autonomous territory on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in East Asia. Macau is bordered by the city of Zhuhai in Mainland China to the north and the Pearl River Delta to the east and south. Hong Kong lies about 64 kilometres to its east across the Delta. With a population of 650,900 living in an area of 30.5 km2, it is the most densely populated region in the world.
A former Portuguese colony, it was returned to Chinese sovereignty on 20 December 1999. Macau was administered by the Portuguese Empire and its inheritor states from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it constituted the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was leased to Portugal from Ming China as a trading port. The Portuguese Empire administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony through a mutual agreement between the two countries.
Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau and Macau Basic Law stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.  Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for military defence and foreign affairs while Macau maintains its own legal system, public security force, monetary system, customs policy and immigration policy. Macau participates in international organisations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.
Macau is a resort city in Southern China, known for its casinos and luxury hotels. Its gaming revenue has been the world’s largest since 2006, with the economy heavily dependent on gaming and tourism. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the fourth highest life expectancy in the world. Moreover, it has a very high Human Development Index, ranking 18th in the world as of 2014. Macau is among the world’s richest regions and its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity was higher than that of any country in the world, according to the World Bank.  It is widely known as the pre-eminent gambling (or gaming) capital of the world, greatly dwarfing other gambling centres/cities (2016 Gross Gaming Revenue, for Las Vegas was $11.1 billion, while for Macau was $28 billion).
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Tuesday, 20 July 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 297 - OXFORD, UK

“A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning.” - Benjamin Disraeli

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Oxford is a city in the South East region of England and the county town of Oxfordshire. With an estimated 2015 population of 168,270, it is the 52nd largest city in the United Kingdom, and one of the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse. The city is situated 92 km from London,111 km from Bristol, 105 km from both Southampton and Birmingham and 40 km from Reading.

The city is known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the “city of dreaming spires”, a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold. Oxford has a broad economic base. Its industries include motor manufacturing, education, publishing and a large number of information technology and science-based businesses, some being academic offshoots.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 296 - HYDRA, GREECE

“For the wise is easy to go anywhere. Because the whole world is home for a good soul.” – Democritus

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Hydra (Greek: Ύδρα, pronounced [ˈiðra] in modern Greek) is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (Υδρέα, derived from the Greek word for “water”), a reference to the springs on the island.
The municipality of Hydra consists of the islands Hydra (area 49.6 km2), Dokos (pop. 18, area 13.5 km2), and a few uninhabited islets, total area 64.443 km2. The province of Hydra (Greek: Επαρχία Ύδρας) was one of the provinces of the Piraeus Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipality. It was abolished in 2006. There is one main town, known simply as “Hydra port” (pop. 1,900 in 2011).
It consists of a crescent-shaped harbour, around which is centred a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to tourists and locals (Hydriots). Steep stone streets lead up and outward from the harbour area. Most of the local residences, as well as the hostelries on the island, are located on these streets. Other small villages or hamlets on the island include Mandraki (pop. 11), Kamini, Vlychos (19), Palamidas, Episkopi, and Molos.
In the 1950s and 1960s Hydra was the adopted home of a community of artists, expatriates, that included celebrated Norwegian novelist Axel Jensen, Australian writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, and Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Cohen wrote several of his better-known songs on Hydra, including “Bird on the Wire” and “So Long, Marianne”, while living with Jensen’s ex-wife, Marianne Ihlen. This period was depicted in the 2019 documentary film “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love”, and Polly Samson’s 2020 novel “A Theatre for Dreamers”.

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Tuesday, 6 July 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 295 - BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

“Do you recall that night in June, Do you recall that night in June, Upon the Danube River; We listened to the ländler-tune, We watched the moonbeams quiver.” -  Charles Hamilton Aide

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Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres.
Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century.
Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956.
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest’s extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor. 
Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, the city ranked third on Mastercard’s Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU’s quality of life index. It is also ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

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Tuesday, 29 June 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 294 - PORT DOUGLAS, AUSTRALIA

“To escape and sit quietly on the beach – that’s my idea of paradise.” - Emilia Wickstead

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Port Douglas is a coastal town and locality in the Shire of Douglas, Queensland, approximately 70 km north of Cairns. In the 2016 census, Port Douglas had a population of 3,504 people. The town’s population can often double, however, with the influx of tourists during the peak tourism season from May to September. The town is named in honour of a former Premier of Queensland, John Douglas.

Port Douglas developed quickly based on the mining industry. Other parts of the area were established with timber cutting occurring in the area surrounding the Daintree River and with settlement starting to occur on lots around the Mossman River by 1880.

Previous names for the town included Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury. The town is situated adjacent to two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Port Douglas was No. 3 on Australian Traveller magazine’s list of 100 Best Towns in Australia.

Kitesurfing is popular at the southern end of Four Mile Beach (seen above), particularly during the winter months when trade winds blow from the South. Port Douglas is near the Great Barrier Reef and numerous companies run daily trips from the marina to the outer reef and the Low Isles for scuba diving and snorkelling. Port Douglas is also well known for its many restaurants, walks, golf courses, and five star resorts.

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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 293 - GEORGETOWN, USA

“A people’s relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother.” - John Henrik Clarke

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Georgetown is the third oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina and the county seat of Georgetown County, in the Lowcountry. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 9,163. Located on Winyah Bay at the confluence of the Black, Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Sampit rivers, Georgetown is the second largest seaport in South Carolina, handling over 960,000 tons of materials a year. Georgetown is also the birthplace of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s grandfather, Fraser Robinson. Many of Michelle Obama's relatives still reside in Georgetown.
The Georgetown Historic District contains more than fifty homes, public buildings and sites which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other sites on the National Register include Annandale Plantation, Arcadia Plantation, Battery White, Belle Isle Rice Mill Chimney, Beneventum Plantation House, Black River Plantation House, Brookgreen Gardens, Chicora Wood Plantation, Fairfield Rice Mill Chimney, Friendfield Plantation, Georgetown Light, Hobcaw Barony, Hopsewee, Keithfield Plantation, Mansfield Plantation, Milldam Rice Mill and Rice Barn, Minim Island Shell Midden (38GE46), Nightingale Hall Rice Mill Chimney, Old Market Building, Pee Dee River Rice Planters Historic District, Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, Joseph H. Rainey House, Rural Hall Plantation House, Weehaw Rice Mill Chimney, Wicklow Hall Plantation, and Winyah Indigo School.
Heritage tourism has become a booming business in Georgetown. In addition, many retirees have chosen to settle in this area of beaches, plantations redeveloped as residential communities, and pleasant climate. We had a very pleasant visit in this part of the world and once again we found the people here friendly and courteous to visitors.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 292 - JAMA MOSQUE, DELHI

“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.” ― Salman Rushdie

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The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā (the 'World-reflecting Mosque'), commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is one of the largest mosques in India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656 at a cost of one million rupees, and was inaugurated by an imam from Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan.
The mosque was completed in 1656 AD with three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The courtyard can accommodate more than 25,000 persons. There are three domes on the terrace which are surrounded by the two minarets. On the floor, a total of 899 black borders are marked for worshippers. The architectural plan of Badshahi Masjid, built by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb at Lahore, Pakistan, is similar to the Jama Masjid.
It is unfortunate that the mosque has been the site of two attacks, one in 2006 and another in 2010. During the first, two explosions occurred in the mosque, injuring thirteen people. In the second, two Taiwanese students were injured as two gunmen opened fire upon them.
Places of worship and culture should be places of peace and good will, irrespective of creed or religious denomination. It is an indictment of our “civilised” society that such hateful crimes are not only still common, but on the increase, as nationalistic frenzy and religious extremism proliferate.

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Tuesday, 8 June 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 291 - PARLIAMENT BUILDING, MELBOURNE

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness” - Frank Gehry

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Parliament House in Melbourne, Australia, located at Spring Street in East Melbourne at the edge of the Melbourne city centre, has been the seat of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia, since 1855 (except for the years 1901 to 1927, when it was occupied by the Parliament of Australia).
In 1851, even before the colony of Victoria acquired full parliamentary self-government, Governor Charles La Trobe instructed the colonial surveyor, Robert Hoddle, to select a site for the colony’s new parliament to meet. Hoddle selected a site on the eastern hill at the top of Bourke Street, which at that time, when few buildings were more than two storeys high, commanded a view of the whole city.
A competition was held for a design for the building, and John Knight’s design won the first prize of £500, but was not used. The government architect, Charles Pasley, subsequently came up with a design of his own. Subsequent observers have suggested that he borrowed heavily from Leeds Town Hall, which even today is widely considered to be among the finest civic buildings in the world. The design was later modified by an architect in his office, Peter Kerr. Construction of the project was managed by John Knight who was also on Casley’s staff.
The story of Parliament House is one of staged construction and architectural ambition thwarted. Work on this began in 1856 and progressed until 1929. A 20 storey dome that would sit on top of the Vestibule was to be the crowning glory. There had been problems with the quality of the stone used on the building. Although tests in 1882 eventually approved the stone, they delayed work. Now confronted by altered economic conditions, the Minister for Works, Alfred Deakin, cancelled the contract for the Dome which has never been built...
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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 290 - MT BROMO, INDONESIA

“The paradox of volcanoes was that they were symbols of destruction but also life. Once the lava slows and cools, it solidifies and then breaks down over time to become soil – rich, fertile soil.” ― Matt Haig

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Mount Bromo (Indonesian and Javanese: Gunung Bromo) is an active somma volcano and part of the Tengger mountains, in East Java, Indonesia. At 2,329 meters (7,641 feet) it is not the highest peak of the massif, but the most famous. The area is one of the most visited tourist destinations in East Java, and the volcano is included in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.

The name Bromo comes from the Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. Mount Bromo is located in the middle of a plain called “Sea of Sand” (Javanese: Segara Wedi or Indonesian: Lautan Pasir), a nature reserve that has been protected since 1919. A typical way to visit Mount Bromo is from the nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang. From there it is possible to walk to the volcano in about 45 minutes, but it is also possible to take an organized jeep tour, including stops at the viewpoint of Mount Penanjakan (2,770 m or 9,088 ft) (Indonesian: Gunung Penanjakan).

The sights on Mount Penanjakan can also be reached on foot in about two hours. Depending on the level of volcanic activity, the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation sometimes issues a warning not to visit Mount Bromo.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 289 - LISBON, PORTUGAL

“Oh salty sea, how much of your salt is tears from Portugal?” – Fernando Pessoa

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Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km². Its urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (which represents approximately 27% of the country's population). It is continental Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast.

Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost area of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe. Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe's Atlantic coast.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal.

Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon's status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 288 - KANGAROO ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

“Learn the art of living in the desert from a camel; learn the art of jumping from a kangaroo! The person who does the job best is also the best teacher in that job!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

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Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It lies in the state of South Australia 112 km southwest of Adelaide. Its closest point to the mainland is Snapper Point in Backstairs Passage which is 13.5 km from the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Once occupied by Australian Aborigines, the native population disappeared from the archaeological record when the land became an island following rising sea levels several thousand years ago. It was subsequently settled intermittently by sealers and whalers in the early 19th century, and from 1836 on a permanent basis during the establishment of the colony of South Australia.
Since then the island’s economy has been principally agricultural, with a southern rock lobster fishery and with tourism growing in importance. The largest town, and the administrative centre, is Kingscote. The island has several nature reserves to protect the remnants of its natural vegetation and native animals, with the largest and best-known being Flinders Chase National Park at the western end.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 287 - MONTREAL, CANADA

“We have created a society where individual rights and freedoms, compassion and diversity are core to our citizenship. But underlying that idea of Canada is the promise that we all have a chance to build a better life for ourselves and our children.” - Justin Trudeau

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Montreal (officially Montréal), is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous in Canada as a whole. Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary”, it is believed to be named after Mount Royal, though there is some debate about this. The city has a distinct four-season continental climate, with warm-to-hot summers and cold, snowy winters. In 2016, Montreal had a population of 1,704,694. Montreal's metropolitan area had a population of 4,098,927 and a population of 1,958,257 in the urban agglomeration, with all of the municipalities on the Island of Montreal included.

Legally a French-speaking city, 60.5% of Montrealers speak French at home, 21.2% speak English and 19.8% speak neither. Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada, with 56% of the population able to speak both official languages. Montreal is the second-largest primarily French-speaking city in the world after Paris. Historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population and economic strength by Toronto in the 1970s. It remains an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, education, culture, tourism, gaming, film and world affairs. See: https://nixpixmix.blogspot.com/

Being the location of the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Montreal is one of three North American cities home to organizations of the United Nations (along with New York and Washington) and also has the 2nd-highest number of consulates in the continent. Montreal was also named a UNESCO City of Design. In 2009, Montreal was named North America’s leading host city for international association events, according to the 2009 preliminary rankings of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). According to the 2015 Global Liveability Ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Montreal ranked 14th out of 140 cities.

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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 286 - TREVI FOUNTAIN, ROME

“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.” - Giotto di Bondone

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The Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. Standing 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Pannini.

The backdrop for the fountain is the Palazzo Poli, given a new façade with a giant order of Corinthian pilasters that link the two main stories. Taming of the waters is the theme of the gigantic scheme that tumbles forward, mixing water and rockwork, and filling the small square. Tritons guide Oceanus' shell chariot, taming hippocamps. In the centre, a robustly-modelled triumphal arch is superimposed on the palazzo façade.

The centre niche or exedra framing Oceanus has free-standing columns for maximal light and shade. In the niches flanking Oceanus, Abundance spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake drinks. Above, bas reliefs illustrate the Roman origin of the aqueducts. The Tritons and horses provide symmetrical balance, with the maximum contrast in their mood and poses.

The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Roman Holiday (1953), the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960), and The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003).

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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 285 - NAFPLIO, GREECE

“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” - Aristotle Onassis

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Nafplio (Modern Greek: Ναύπλιο) is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was an important seaport held under a succession of royal houses in the Middle Ages as part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade before coming under the Republic of Venice and, lastly, the Ottoman Empire. The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplio is now the capital of the regional unit of Argolis.

Tourism emerged slowly in the 1960s, but not to the same degree as some other Greek areas. Nevertheless, Nafplio tends to attract a number of tourists from Germany and the Scandinavian countries in particular. Nafplio enjoys a very sunny and mild climate, even by Greek standards, and as a consequence has become a popular day or weekend road-trip destination for Athenians in wintertime. Nafplio is a port, with fishing and transport ongoing, although the primary source of local employment currently is tourism, with two beaches on the other side of the peninsula from the main body of the town and large numbers of local accommodation options.

The building of the National Bank of Greece is probably the only one in the world to have been built in the Mycenaean Revival architectural style. Acronauplia is the oldest part of the city though a modern hotel has been built on it. Until the thirteenth century, it was a town on its own. The arrival of the Venetians and the Franks transformed it into part of the town fortifications. Other fortifications of the city include the Palamidi and Bourtzi, which is located in the middle of the harbour. 

Nafplio maintains a classic architectural style with many traditional-style colourful buildings and houses, partly influenced by the Venetians, because of the domination of 1338-1540. Also, modern-era neoclassical buildings are also preserved. Around the city can be found several sculptures and statues. They are related mostly with the modern history of Nafplio, such as the statues of Ioannis Kapodistrias, Otto of Greece and Theodoros Kolokotronis.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 284 - CAPE COD, USA

“It takes a small town to keep you humble.” - Bess Streeter Aldrich

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Cape Cod is a geographic cape extending into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. Its historic, maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months. As defined by the Cape Cod Commission's enabling legislation, Cape Cod is conterminous with Barnstable County, Massachusetts. It extends from Provincetown in the northeast to Woods Hole in the southwest, and is bordered by Plymouth to the northwest.

Since 1914, Cape Cod has been separated from the mainland by the Cape Cod Canal. The canal cuts 28.2 km roughly across the base of the peninsula, though small portions of the Cape Cod towns of Bourne and Sandwich lie on the mainland side of the canal. Two highway bridges cross the Cape Cod Canal: The Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge. In addition, the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge carries railway freight and limited passenger services onto the Cape. Cape territory is divided into 15 towns with many villages.

Provincetown (photo above) is a New England town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, in the United States. A small coastal resort town with a year-round population of just under 3,000, Provincetown has a summer population of as high as 60,000. Often called “P-town” or “P’town”, the town is known for its beaches, harbour, artists, tourist industry, and its status as a vacation destination for the LGBTQ community.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 283 - PANTHEON, PARIS

“The whole earth is the tomb of heroic men and their story is not given only on stone over their clay but abides everywhere without visible symbol woven into the stuff of other mens lives.” - Pericles

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The Panthéon (Latin: pantheon, from Greek πάνθειον (ἱερόν) '(temple) to all the gods') is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris, France. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, it now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.

It is an early example of neo-classicism, with a façade modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's Tempietto. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris. Designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked.

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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 282 - GORDES, FRANCE

“Why not make a daily pleasure out a daily necessity.” ― Peter Mayle
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Gordes is a commune in the Vaucluse département in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. The residents are known as Gordiens. The nearest big city is Avignon; smaller cities nearby include Cavaillon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Apt. The name “Gordes” derives from the Celtic word “Vordense”. Vordense was pronounced Gordenses, then Gordae/Gordone, and finally Gòrda then translated into French “Gordes”.

Standing on the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse, Gordes is one of the “in” villages of Luberon where many movie stars and artists have made their home. Its houses of white and gray stone rise up in a spiral around the rock where the village is set. At the very top is the church and the castle which face out onto the hills of the Luberon. Due to its privileged position, its exceptional charm and its typical architecture, Gordes has been listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France” Gordes is without a doubt worth seeing. The village has a world wide reputation due to its famous inhabitants, and Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence” certainly helped.

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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

TRAVEL TUESDAY 281 - MOSCOW, RUSSIA

“Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Moscow (Russian: Москва́) is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 12.5 million residents within the city limits and 17.1 million within the urban area. Moscow is one of Russia's three federal cities. Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific centre of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city entirely on the European continent. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has been ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer and has one of the world's largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and is also one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.

Moscow is the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth. It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe; the Federation Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Europe; and the Moscow International Business Centre. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of the capital more than doubled, going from 1,091 to 2,511 square kilometres, and it gained an additional population of 233,000 people. Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia, making it Europe's most populated inland city.

The city is well known for its architecture, particularly its historic buildings such as Saint Basil's Cathedral with its brightly coloured domes, from 1555–1561 on orders from Ivan the Terrible (see photo above). With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, Moscow is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012. The city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union and the contemporary Russian Federation.

Moscow is the seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the residence for work of the President of Russia. The Moscow Kremlin and Red Square are also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in the city. Moscow is considered the centre of Russian culture, having served as the home of Russian artists, scientists and sports figures and because of the presence of museums, academic and political institutions and theatres.

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