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Pyramid Expectations

Today I thought I’d visit Egypt. Every time I think of Egypt and the pyramids, I think of one of my favorite movies—The Mummy.

Before we visited Egypt I knew quite a bit about the pyramids. I’d seen pictures of them and watched documentaries about the way they were built. But none of this prepared me for actually seeing them.

Things that surprised me:

  1. They weren’t alone in the middle of the desert. In reality they butt up against modern civilization and the city.
  2. The air is quite polluted, hence the fuzzy photos.
  3. The pyramids were not smooth, (They look smooth in the photos) but they’re like a series of uneven steps. They were once covered in a limestone casing that was stripped away over time. What we see now is the foundation of the pyramid.
  4. The Sphinx looked very worn and it was smaller than I’d imagined.

Pyramids of Giza

Sphinx and Pyramid

Shelley and Pyramid

In this photo I’m sitting on the steps at the base of one of the pyramids. I have long legs but it was a bit of a climb for me. Hubby labelled this photo – No Rest for the Slave.

Have you visited a place only to find your imagination has led you in the wrong direction?

MichelAngelo’s David

Florence, River Arno

A view of Florence and the Arno River. Love the buildings.

4FlorenceP1080417

I spent ages staring at David when we visited The Accademia in Florence. I viewed him from all angles. Michelangelo’s David is beautiful to look at even though he’s out of proportion.

Michelangelo carved David out of a single block of marble from the Carrara mountains. The marble was gifted to him. David is continually monitored because the leg bearing most of his weight is a weak point and one day he’ll break.

I really like him.

What do you think?

Tipperary – You’ve Come a Long Way!

Tipperary Ireland

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this sign during our visit to Ireland. Do you remember the wartime song – It’s A Long Way to Tipperary? This is the place they were singing about. It was green and quiet. I loved exploring Ireland. It felt like home because parts of the country reminded me of New Zealand.

And a random question for you – do you have Irish ancestry? I do on my father’s side of the family.

A Visit to the Barcelona Market

I love markets. The vibrant colors. The different products. The scents and the whole tactile experience. The little samples stallholders hand out. The freshness of it all.

Barcelona has a brilliant market, just off La Rambla, the wide thoroughfare in the central city. In the mornings, it’s the domain of locals who stop by to fill their shopping carts with fresh produce or who linger at one of the stalls serving coffee and food. During the afternoon the market teams with tourists. It’s the time for snacks of fresh fruit, tapas, and lots of visitors, like me, take photos.

Barcelona Market

Barcelona Market

Barcelona Market

Barcelona Market

Barcelona Market

Do you like markets too? Do you have a favorite?

Doing The Pisa Dance

Most tourists who visit Pisa can’t resist taking a photo that looks as if they’re holding up the leaning tower or pushing it over. We have some of those photos from our last visit. During this visit we couldn’t resist taking photos of people taking photos.

I give you…

The Pisa Dance!

The Pisa Dance

Gargoyles. I have a fascination with them, especially since they’re not common in New Zealand. Their purpose is to shoot water off a roof and away from the side of a building. In other words, a gargoyle is a fancy water spout.

They’re quite common on churches throughout England and Europe. My fascination means I’m always gawking up at the carvings and strange figures decorating the old buildings. Here are two we saw on the cathedral in Pisa.

Gargoyle Pisa Pisa_gargoyles

The bottom one isn’t a true gargoyle, but it’s certainly interesting with his sly expression and his tail.

Do you think gargoyles (i.e. gargoyle shapeshifters) make good heroes in romance novels? Or do you find the idea of a stone man a bit icky?

Look at that Tower. It’s Leaning!

Pisa_1

When you’re growing up you hear about the leaning tower in Pisa. You’ve probably seen pictures of the bell tower, but actually walking through the archway and seeing it in person is a “wow” moment. We’ve visited before when we were in our early twenties, yet it was just as magical seeing it again.

Pisa

The buildings are (from left to right) Baptistry, Cathedral, Bell Tower. The land on which they’re built is unstable and the bell tower started to lean as soon as it was built in 1173. This visit we didn’t have time to climb the tower, which is 294 steps, but last time we did puff our way to the top. At the time there were no railings and I worried about slipping on the marble and falling off the edge. The distinct tilt added to the sensation of unease!

Pisa_Shelley 

And here’s another photo of me standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our visit took place early in the morning and there weren’t many people. By the time we left the crowds were starting to arrive and the rain was coming down. The young boys selling umbrellas made a killing. We’re the proud owners of a souvenir Pisa umbrella. We had a fun visit.

Eze–Exploring a French Medieval Village

The pretty medieval village of Eze in France is a bustling place. While in the past people chose to live in this isolated village, these days it’s full of tourists. They scurry down the narrow, cobblestone lanes, explore the myriad art galleries and linger in the restaurants and bars. I know because I was one of them!

Eze_FranceEze_France Eze_ArtistGalleries Eze_narrow streets 

The village seems to cling to the top of the hill and reminded me of an eagle’s eyrie. Impractical, I thought, but the truth is the high elevation gave the locals warning and protection from pirates who struck up and down the coast.

We traveled from Monaco via bus, along winding, narrow roads that barely seemed wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. A warning to those who don’t like heights – make sure to take an aisle seat on the bus. For those who don’t mind, the views are incredible.

Besides shopping, there’s a church to explore plus the remains of a castle at the very top of the village. The bare ground around the ruins has been planted with cacti and succulents. It’s a pleasant place to wander and admire the view.

Eze_view from succulent gardens

Eze_Shelley

After exploring, we relaxed with a glass of wine and snacked on olives drizzled with a basil-flavored olive oil. Delicious! The perfect end to a lovely day.

A Visit to Petrified Forest

One of the things I enjoy about visiting National Parks in the US is their diversity. Each is very different.

Petrified Forest is in the Painted Desert, Arizona. The public are able to wander through a landscape full of large petrified logs and tree stumps. Scientists have discovered lots of different plant and animal fossils dating back to around 200 million years ago. I was blown away by the logs and enjoyed exploring the landscape.

Petrified Forest National Park

Stump Petrified National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

If you’re visiting Arizona, a visit to Petrified Forest National Park is worth the trip.

What is your favorite National Park to visit? Any country Smile

Get Lost in London

Mr Munro and I spent six years living in London. A country girl, I didn’t think I’d enjoy living in a big city, but I grew to love it and was sorry to leave. There’s so much to see and do, so much history, and when I needed open spaces a walk or run in one of London’s many parks such as Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park.

Here are a few of the sights around the city of London.

UK - London_Tower Bridge

This is the famous Tower Bridge on the river Thames.

UK - London, Regent Park

This is Regent’s Park, once hunting grounds for Henry VIII. It is now the home of the London zoo.

UK - London, Kew Gardens

This is one of the many glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The gardens are huge and take all day to wander around. They are home to a wide variety of plants from all corners of the world, some of which are very rare.

UK - London_Big Ben

The famous Big Ben. The name refers to the bell within the clock tower and hearing Ben chime is quite special. I gawked every time I walked past.

 

UK - London_Horseguard

A horse guard. The horses are so quiet. They stand calmly while tourists act quite stupidly, jumping around with their cameras and shrieking.

If you could go to London tomorrow what landmark would you want to visit first?

Want to Live in a Castle?

I’m continuing my run up to the Olympic games by revisiting some of my British photos. The theme for this week is castles.

Let’s get started…

UK - Arundel Castle

This is Arundel Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, in West Sussex. Some of the scenes in The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, were filmed here.

 

UK - Bodiam Castle

This is Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. It was built in 1385 and was used as both a home and secure fortress. Pretty setting, no?

 

UK - Brighton

And here we have the fanciful Royal Pavilion, built for the Prince Regent between 1787 and 1823. It’s a real Brighton icon.

 

UK - Buckingham Palace

This is the famous Buckingham Palace in central London, home of the Queen.

Britain is full of castles, ranging from ruins you can wander around and explore at will to huge castles full of amazing treasures and stories. It’s hard to pick my favorite castle, but I did enjoy Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, which has jousting and all sorts of interesting events.

Is there a particular English castle you’ve always dreamed of visiting?