Sunday, August 18, 2013

Luxembourg, oh Luxembourg

Luxembourg is somewhere between here and there, old and new, Belgium and France.  Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Acropolis of Athens

The acropolis is insanely cool, but just ridiculous crowded.  Between the annoying tourists and the Greek security guards whistling at anyone that does anything wrong, it is a chaotic scene.  Throw in constant construction and you get something that begs to be done right.  Nonetheless, it is a must stop for any traveler.  It is where Western civilization began, and just down the steep rocky cliffs, is the location where it first began its decline.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mount Lycabettus looming over Athens

 This mount towers over the Athens sprawl below.  It was allegedly created by Athena, during the building of the Acropolis, from which the photo was taken.

Temple of Zeus in Athens

 All that is left of the grand ancient structure is a a few columns in the middle of a raised pedestal. Once, a massive statue of Zeus stood amidst the pillars.

Now, the ruins are situated between a bunch of hotels, and it feels like a spectacle of something forgotten and lost - a courtyard of a bruised memory translated by archaeologists and left for the tourists to fawn over.  This is where the west began it says, like a warning or a prelude to a forgotten wish.

Furmonster of the day - Athens edition

 Now what...what is going on here?

Ohhhhhh.....Ride on furmonster, ride on

Friday, June 21, 2013

Athens street art and graffiti

Athens is where Western civilization began and is also the first place where it has began to stall out a bit.  With nearly 30% unemployment, a very vocal populace, and what I assume our lenient laws against street art, Athens boasts no shortage of graffiti and street art.

Athens boy rocking out

 This kid was just straight jamming out

Look at that - pushing his soul through the instrument

What is Meteora?

Meteora in northern Greece is a land of escape.  The orthodox priests stole away to its strange natural rock towers, fleeing the Ottomans and building strange monasteries in the process that look every bit an affront to gravity.  There, they were safe.

The towers are still used today.  We visited this strange place, weaving up from Athens in a miniature Citroen, stopping to smell the sweet olive air along the way.  Escaping.

I hope you enjoy these pictures of odd Meteora as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Goats! Goats! Goats!

As the sun began to drop in the sky, we took some old country  roads back from Meteora to Kalabaka for dinner.  On our way we encountered a street completely filled with goats.  It was magical.  They all shouted and clonked and stopped to eat trees.  Then a small man on a motorbike came and yelled at them and they all ran into a field.  Oh goats.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Creepy skull room in Grand Meteora

Meteora is a region filled with monasteries and nunneries, built precariously on dramatic rock formations to deter the Ottoman invaders of years passed.  In the largest monastery in the region, Grand Meteora, there was this room filled with skulls.  It felt very eerie and like something was not quite right in there.

A Cat hunting pigeons in Greece

 We spotted this cat "hiding" and licking his chops, ready to pounce on some nearby pigeons.  He sat under this outcropping of tree, waiting patiently for the right moment to strike.

Saving a turtles life!

We were strolling along some back roads in Meteora , Greece, when Kristin and I noticed this slowpoke crossing the road.  We slowly and cautiously parked the car.  I scooped up the little guy, turtle germs and all, and "expedited" his trip across the road.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beautiful Oia

Santorini on a map looks like a dragon embryo, and Oia is the village at the head. It is photographer heaven.  I have never been somewhere so small that packs so much punch.  It is overwhelming at times, and I had to be mindful of my obsession so that I could actually stop to enjoy its beauty.  There are no bad angles or dull walks, only beauty.

If you visit Santorini, then be sure to stay in Oia.  Its splendor is best savored over several days of careful inspection and and exploration. Like a movie that needs to be seen again and again with new points seen each time, Oia has a sort of charm that seems infinite.

And here is a big Oia photo dump. I have to move on to our next stop - Meteora.

Fira of Santorini

Fira is like Oia's big brother in Santorini.  It is bigger, it has the main Santorini bus station, and is also a little higher.  It is centrally located, and while beautiful, does not hold a candle to the beauty of Oia.

That one blue dome in Santorini

Before arriving in Santorini, I felt like I had already been.  With all of the famous pictures out there, it is easy to conceive what it looks like.  Or so it seems.  While I did see a lot of familiar faces, like this blue domed church, the sheer impossibility of Santorini is something that must bee seen to be completely appreciated.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The bluest caldera

I keep reminding myself that Santorini is a collapsed volcano and all of the water in the middle is from a collapsed caldera that the ocean violently filled.

Stars over Santorini on a hot night in 2013

On a clear Santorini night, the stars light up the sky.  Kristin and I checked into our room, left, and came back around 10:30pm to find that our cave house was sweltering and our AC did not work.  It is not a traditional hotel, so we had no idea what to do, other than sleep in a warm cave and deal with it in the morning.

This was all before two things happened - we got lucky and then we met Rado.

Santorini sunset HDR

Santorini is as strange as it gets.  The ridge of a volcano on a collapsed caldera oft-known as Devil's Island, there is no place like it in the world.

Magical Bohinj

The Bohinj basin is a magical area of Slovenia with old alpine houses, a very clear lake, absolutely perfect hiking.  There are many legends associated with Bohinj.  The Ottomans thought is was the end of the world.  There is another legend that the devil built a bridge here in exchange for the soul of the first to cross it.  The locals sent a dog across, enraging the devil.

My favorite, and probably the most fitting explanation for Bohinj is this:

"God was giving land to people and, as he finished, he realized that he had forgotten about a small group of people, who were silent and did not insist like the others. Because of their modesty and patience, he felt pity for them. That is why he decided to give them the most beautiful land of all, which he had set aside for himself. It is called Bohinj."

Lake Bled's briliant island church

 Like a jewel in a crown, Lake Bled has a small church on an island.  It is customary for Slovenian males to march up the steps carrying their wife after marriage.  The practice was forcibly abandoned during Slovenia's time as part of Yugoslavia.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Slovenia car train

It took us a few hours to go over the Vrsic pass of the Julian Alps.  For the way home, we were told to load the car onto the train and we go through the mountains instead of over and around.  The best part?  It would take about half as much time.  I did not know what it meant, until we did it.

Crossing the Julian Alps

I believe Slovenia is the prettiest country in Europe, as far as natural beauty is concerned.  This year, Kristin and I have driven in 15 European countries and on some of the most picturesque roads in the world.  Slovenia takes the cake.  Check out these pictures of us traveling by car through alpine Slovenia.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Furmonster of the day - Patrick the Inn Keeper of Reka Hisa

 Patrick standing at the entrance of Reka Hisa guesthouse

Strange Slovenian church

 Pulling over to the side of a Slovenian country road, we found a strange old church

Reka Hisa in Slovenia

In Slovenia, we (Kristin, Grandma, Grandpa, ,me) all stayed at a spot just outside of Bled called Reka Hisa.  It is a guesthouse ran perfectly by a London couple named Clive and Myrn.  Clive is an ex-fashion executive who always had a dream of running a guesthouse and cooking for guests.  As a professional chef, he whips up the best meals we have had all trip.  We ate 3 courses every night at a big community table with everyone under the roof.  The homemade desserts were a favorite among our clan.  It was the perfect arrangement, and we will no doubt be back.

The house is right on a clear emerald river world famous for its fly-fishing.  The river is filled with trout and some of the biggest salmon in the world.  The Huchen Salmon that hunt these rivers grow up to 5 feet long.  Clive told me that when you kayak the river, the Huchen will swim with you downriver like dolphins.

Slovenian buckwheat dumplings

 Buckwheat dumplings stuffed with cottage cheese are a common Slovenian dish.  Here they are prepared with a buttery sauce and forest mushrooms.  These things are massive.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Furmonster of the day - strange slovenian

Look at that face.  What kind of dog is this?  Kristin thought it was a Neuf, but the hair is out of control!

The horses of Lipizzaner

So, I don't know crap about horses, but these white weirdos are the real deal.  A few years ago I spent a morning with the Sheikh's horses in Dubai, and I have to say that these white Lipizzaners were way cooler than his divas.

The Lipizzaner horses  of Slovenia are a world class breed.  This farm in Lipica, Slovenia has been producing the horses for longer than any other horse farm, undisturbed.  Many of the lines can be traced back 5 centuries.

The horses are typically used for dressage as they are very powerful, agile, and smart.  I did not get to ride one (thank god for that - I would probably fall off), but we hung with the big boys and they were definitely cool.

Bled Castle

Bled Castle is perched precariously on a cliff overlooking stunning Lake Bled.  We stayed 5 nights near the lake at Reka Hisa guesthouse with my grandparents.  It is such an incredible area.  Slovenia is probably my favorite country in Europe.

Škocjan Caves and a Slovenian underground cave river

In the Karst region of Slovenia is one of the largest cave systems in the world.  There is an underground canyon that is unsurpassed in size, a strange river that runs through the cave system, and a number of crazy cliffs and growths.  We walked through the cave and it opened up into this massive canyon - truly breathtaking. Unesco has even recognized the caves as a world heritage site.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Boo's Corner - Lots of Mykonos from guest writer KRISTIN

Thinking I am real cool at Super paradise..

Little Venice in Mykonos

Little Venice is an area of Mykonos just on the harbor that is famous for sunsets and being pretty. 

Windmill Mania - Mykonos

Mykonos has its fair share of famous windmills, and I probably took about 300 pictures of these things.  Just ask Kristin.  She probably has nightmares about me taking pictures of windmills.  Without further ado - here are some windmill photos.

Mykonos at night

Mykonos at night is a convoluted maze.  Literally.  When the town was designed, it was designed as a maze to confuse outsiders.  It confused us.

My favorite time to really explore a city is at night.  At that point, the cruise ships are long gone (usually), the locals begin to come out, and you can get a better sense of what a place is really like.

This guy - Useful local edition

This guy just sits on this perch all day every day, doling out hints.  There may be rum in that Coke.

A Mykonos Bee Store

Here is a store devoted to honey!

Barbie - the yacht from George Town

Mykonos has no shortage of yachts.  It a a place to show off your yacht, even if it is called Barbie.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paraportiani in Mykonos

Paraportiani is the famous Cycladic church you have probably, at one time or another, seen a picture of.  It is all curvy and strange, looking extremely "handmade."  It is as though someone sculpted it out of clay and just left it to harden in the bright Greek sun.  Above is a picture of the church as the sun begins to set and it takes on a golden hue.

The church began its construction in the 15th century, but it took the island Greeks  until the 18th century to complete it.

Our favorite beach in Mykonos - Agios Ioannis

Our first full day in Mykonos, we scooped up an ATV from Fabio's younger brother and headed for a highly recommended beach.  We settled down and just sort of wasted the day away.  I read Civilization by Niall Ferguson.  Kristin read some sort of Jackie Collins book, and that was about it.  We spoke little, except when our stomachs began to growl. 

Finding the beach was easy.  We mounted our GPS on the ATV and dropped a pin where we though we would find the beach across from the island of Delos.  An ATV is the perfect way to explore Mykonos.

Furmonster of the day - Mykonos

He had to be held back when another pup walked by - pretty dirty

Patience is sometimes the key to photography - Mykonos WIndmills

I believe the key to great travel photography is 30% camera, 30% skill, 20% patience, and 10% creativity.  Patience is really critical and it can mean waiting for the right time of day to capture a picture, or even just literally waiting until people move out of the shot.  The latter is something that I am constantly bumping up against, and I am known to wait over an hour for people just to move out of a shot.