All posts filed under: Photos

The Mediterranean Sea at Calpe, Spain

Calpe is a small town on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, in the Alicante province near Valencia.  It’s most remembered for the Penyal d’Ifach, the northern counterpart to the south’s rock of Gibraltar. This photo was taken as I ascended the Penyal d’Ifach, looking down at the resort and ocean below.  The rock is also a protected bird sanctuary, and so the prevalence of birds in nesting season made it impossible to get a picture without a bird in the shot (or, alternatively, dive-bombing me and my tripod). Of course, I was too much of a scaredy-cat to ascend the entire rock, but I was quite content with this view of clear blue skies and even bluer waters. Advertisements

The Flatirons at Chautauqua Park

On our brewery-inspired Denver adventure, we took a day trip to Boulder, Colorado to get a taste of the Rocky Mountains in the American mid-west (and a taste of more beer too, of course).  The Flatirons are a symbol of Boulder and a staple in Chautauqua Park.  Chautauqua was an adult education movement that began in New York, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Chautauqua, according to Theodore Roosevelt, was the “most American thing in America.” While the Flatiron mountains are not as high or grand as the mountains I’m used to in the Albertan rockies, they have a unique shape and character.  Whereas the trees at home were bare, these mountains were embraced by autumn leaves at even October’s end.  We hiked around for a bit, enjoying the warmth before we decided that beer was calling.

Palacio Real

Our first day in Madrid was spent walking to the Palacio Real and its corresponding gardens.  Street musicians played in the corridors of the hedges while young couples leaned against each other as they traced their fingers in fountains.  The palace itself is the Spanish version of Versailles – minus the crowds. In the photo, you see the Palacio Real and the Palace Gardens, with the spire of the nearby Catedral de la Almudena in the background. We found ourselves falling asleep in the shadow of trees after we sat down to rest our legs, the sounds of Pachelbel on violin singing us into our nap.

The Graves at Tyne Cot

In honour of Remembrance Day this week, this is a photo I took at the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, near Flanders Fields. Visiting memorials for World War I in France and Belgium gave me an entirely new perspective on war.  It is one thing to be sending your soldiers away to fight in another country; it is completely different to be the country whose soil is being fought upon. The maintenance and upkeep of Tyne Cot was incredible.  As we wandered through the rows and rows of graves, a man sat, re-etching fading names into stone to preserve the epitaphs.  Many tombs were unnamed.  Many were Canadian. That my brain cannot comprehend that a war was fought on a field just to the right of Tyne Cot shows how important the sacrifice of those soldiers was – that I’ve never even come close to experiencing that horror is evidence of the privilege bestowed on myself and my generation because they fought for my freedom.  I visited many World War I sites and felt the …

Temple of Debod

The Templo de Debod was originally located in southern Egypt, with construction dating back to the second century.  It is now located in the Parque del Oeste, gifted to Spain by Egypt in 1968 when its existence was threatened by the Aswan High Dam and its corresponding reservoir.  It was a sign of gratitude for Spain’s efforts in saving and relocating the temples of Abu Simbel. The Temple of Debod is one of the few Egyptian works that can be seen outside of Egypt, and the only thing of its kind of Spain.   I am fascinated as the way in which this history was preserved – threatened by demolition in its own country, which is already home to so much of the world’s pre-modern history, and given to another country in order to save it.  How can we save all the history in the world?  Is UNESCO the only guarantor of a building’s safety?  What about the historical buildings and artifacts being lost as civil war wages on in Syria? I come from a city which has preserved so …

Hraunfosser Waterfall, Iceland

The unusual Hraunfosser Falls just outside of Reykholt, Iceland, flow into the Hvítá river, a series of rivulets that flow across 900 metres of a lava field (hraun means “lava”).   Attempting to get the whole width of the waterfall was a task only a wide-angle fish eye lens could succeed at. Just a little further down the Hvítá river is another waterfall, Barnafoss, which means the waterfall of the kids.  The name comes from a legend wherein two children were playing on the bridge that crossed over the falls, and then fell to their deaths.  In light of our guide telling us this story, I held a little tighter to the rails of that bridge as I crossed.

Icelandic Horses

I have always been in awe of the beauty of horses.  So upon my first visit to Iceland, I was obviously very keen on riding Icelandic horses, one of the purest equine breeds, across Icelandic lava fields. Icelandic horses are incredibly playful and cute, but they’re also sturdy and strong.  Their unique gait, the tolt, is a mix between a trot and a canter, and allows them to smoothly navigate the rough stones of Iceland’s lava fields.  Dressed head to toe in my warmest clothing, I rode with one American girl and our Danish guide.  We were given one break midway through to explore a lava cave.  Though I took an intermediate tour as an experienced rider, interacting with these sweet creatures is an experience I recommend to all going to Iceland.

Mythical Lava Fields in Iceland

Somewhere amidst the chunks of moss-covered lava rock is, supposedly, the homes of the huldufolk, or mythical elves.  Travellers are advised to never kick lava rocks in case it’s an elf stone and you get cursed. Elves only make themselves visible to the people who they want to see them, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen any elves, but there is a certain quality of mythology present in the formation of these landscapes themselves.  On land and from above, the landscape is otherworldly, like it came from a fairy tale or an alien planet.  And this place even casts a spell on the visitor, since my thoughts have been filled with nothing but Iceland ever since I returned.

Plaza España

I don’t think I fully appreciated the beautiful city of Sevilla while I was in Spain. The exceptionally high temperatures (39 degrees Celsius) and a mugginess barely cured by passing misters at restaurant patios made sightseeing take a bigger physical toil on me than usual.  And when the air conditioning in our hostel broke on the second night (and the two of us were already sharing a room with four other people), Sevilla was beginning to feel unbearable.  I was craving the Atlantic breeze of Lisboa, our next destination, and consequently, taking in less of Sevilla’s unique beauty. When I talk about my Spain trip now to friends and coworkers, I find myself talking most about Sevilla, but not the negative aspects like the heat – as mentioned in my post about tapas, some of the best food I ate was in Sevilla. And Plaza España is a beautiful piece of architecture, with all the major towns and cities of Spain receiving their own special, decorated “shrine” of sorts.  And how fitting that Plaza España …

Winds of Tarifa

We had thought, after an unusually brisk day in Gibraltar, that we would be able to enjoy a pleasant beach afternoon in Tarifa, which was just a short drive away. I checked the forecast on my phone, and while it wasn’t promising immense heat – just 24 Celsius – I thought I’d be in the very least be able to sit on the beach with a book. Upon arrival in Tarifa, the clouds did not look promising.  It was only when we stepped outside our rental car and I was nearly blown sideways by the rashest winds I’ve experienced since Iceland, that I knew a beach afternoon was not in the cards. Tarifa is small, so after checking in at our hostel we walked down to the beach.  The wind had swept sand over the sidewalks like a blanket.  And the closer we got to the beach, the more sand pelted our faces and bare skin like little bullets.  Palm trees swayed and fog clouded the not-so-distant mountains of Morocco, and the town was quiet. …