WordPress‘s weekly photo challenge is Peek. They want examples of photos that make you want to see the larger picture, showing just a part or a corner. They say “a photo that reveals just enough of your subject to get us interested. A tantalizing detail. An unusual perspective. ” So here’s my take on it, ,mostly from my favourite city, London.
This week’s Daily Post challenge is to find things that go well together. Cookies and milk. Beach and a book. Gardens and Butterflies. That sort of thing. My idea was to post some photos from three major cities in Europe, Rome, Paris and London, that contain things that I think of when I think of those cities, things that are an inherent part of the city without being the bleeding obvious, so you will not see photos of the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum or Big Ben here.
First up: Rome.
Here’s some Parisian sights:
Then over to my favourite city, London:
(Last week) I posted the first 10 cities that Conde Naste Traveler considered the Best Cities in Europe (out of a list of 20). I’ve been to some and would love to go to some of the others. Heck, if I had the opportunity, I’d probably go to them all. Time and money, folks, time and money.
Here, then, are the top 10 in reverse order, with photos and notes:
10 – Venice, Italy
Conde Naste cites “meandering streets and romantic canals” in defence of choosing Venice as it’s number 10 best city. There’s a lot of argument out there against it. It’s crowded and expensive and there are a lot of cities with canals if that’s the attraction. I’ve been there once for a brief visit and it was lovely. The first day was sunny and we walked and walked. The second morning was bucketing rain and that wasn’t so much fun but it was interesting to see how St. Mark’s Square floods. They put up low tables all around so the tourists can stand on them while waiting in line to get into the basilica. It *is* very touristy but if you can go off season, it’s not too crowded.
9 – Nuremberg, Germany
Nurmemburg has a “distinct blend of old and new.” It’s an “early capital of science and invention” and now has a lot of museums and markets with some lovely medieval architecture. It’s modern claim to fame is the post-WWII war trials but there’s a lot of history here.
8 – Rome, Italy
Rome is famed for “La Dolce Vita”, the sweet life, and Rome is as much an attitude as it is an experience. Where Conde Naste cites Florence’s history as an attraction, and it is, I’d argue that Rome is far more historic than Florence. To me, Florence is the centre of art and culture, the cradle of the Rennaissance. There was power in Florence, of course, especially with the commanding Borgia family but Rome’s power reached across much of the known world at one time. It still does if you consider the reach of the Catholic Church even if that technically comes out of Vatican City, a separate country but still considered part of Rome for most of us.
I’ve been to Rome three times over my lifetime, with gaps of almost 20 years between the first and second visit, and about 15 years between the second and third. Tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain for a quick return to Rome didn’t quite work as swiftly as promised! We visited a few of the big name attractions and enjoyed walking the streets and taking in all the atmosphere. I don’t know as there’s any time to go where it’s less crowded though we did find the crowds tolerable when visiting in November.
I like Rome. It’s a very big city but it’s historic centre really isn’t that vast. The traffic and drivers are a bit manic, mind you, so keep a sharp eye out. I think, though, of the three Italian cities on this list, I do prefer Florence.
7 – London, England
My favourite city of all, for the history even more so than the architecture though the new modern architecture is exciting, too. A sprawling city with a massive transportation network that works ok, though a bit bottle-necky on the surface in the tourist centre. The underground can be stodgey too, with line closures. Just get out and walk! It’s full of neighbourhoods that are all different from each other and each has a totally different vibe. It really is true that you can never get tired of London. Everyone will find something they enjoy here. Another city that’s crowded most of the year but worse in summer and on holidays. We made the mistake of going to the Tower of London over an Easter one year. Even though the rain was heavy at times, the queues were long and people were wall to wall!
I’ve been to London more times than I can count on two hands and I still haven’t seen areas of it that are on my list. I’ll be back.
6 – Paris, France
For Paris to be fairly high on the top 10 list is pretty much self explanatory. Paris is a beautiful city, loaded with history, art, architecture and romance. It’s vast but the transportation network is pretty efficient. You will never run out of things to do or see and there are lots of day trips you can take as well to go further afield. I’ve been there twice and it’s a city definitely worth repeat visits because there’s way too much to take in. I have a bit of French vocabulary sticking around from my high school years and I got along more or less ok but in the tourist areas, it’s generally not a problem. Menus are usually bilingual and most staff seem to know English. It doesn’t hurt to brush up on Merci and Excusez-moi and S’il vous plait, though.
5 – Vienna, Austria
Conde Naste says it’s “Artistic, exquisite, and largely shaped by its musical and intellectual foundations”. I think that means it’s a cultural hotspot, and they have great coffee, pastry and chocolate, too! I always think of it as an elegant city and I’d like to visit to see if that’s true.
4 – Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, by the account of quite a few people I know that have been here, is a hip and exciting city with fantastic architecture in the classic “fantasy” meaning of the term. Gaudi and other modern art, museums, beaches and mountains, it’s a hot spot and probably a bit overrun with tourists much of the time. I do think it would be a very cool place to visit.
3 – Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg’s claims to fame are Mozart and the Von Trapp family, It is a city with an older section on one side of a river and 19th c. newer bit on the other. A picture book city that would be a really charming place to visit.
2 – Lucerne, Switzerland
It was never really on my list of places to go but for one person. My cousin Eddie went on a cross-Europe tour with his mother about 10 years ago I think. He saw a lot of places but he told me that he loved Lucerne, with the old medieval wooden bridge and the cafes at the edge of the water overlooking it. I promised him that if I ever got there, I’d sit at the cafe and have a drink and remember him. He died about a week later.
Probably not what you expected to be the Number 1 city in Europe, right? I get it, though. The history, the charm, the cradle of the Renaissance. Florence is a much more manageable size of a city than London or Paris or Vienna. You can walk everywhere, it’s got a world class museum or three and a stunning cathedral or two. It’s in the heart of Tuscany and I found that it had a really welcoming and charming feel in the atmosphere. I only had a day to spend in Florence at the end of a bus tour. I was tired and ready to go home but I really wished we had started the tour here instead of ending it. I would have loved to have spent more time and really would like to go back again. Rome or Venice might be the big attractions of Italy, but Florence is where you’ll really end up leaving your heart, if that’s not too cliche to say.
Here’s a slideshow of some photos I’ve taken in London, Paris, Florence, and Venice.
Occasionally, I write a few lines about a movie or tv show that has great locations, shots that make me really want to visit somewhere. In today’s blog, it’s somewhere I’ve been quite a few times and it’s not so much a case of “I want to go there” but “I want to go back there” and that somewhere is London. I know I’ve featured London before in this series of posts but if you want a really good look at the city, not just the famous landmarks but the streets and neighbourhoods, the BBC series Sherlock is excellent.
We’ve been delving into a box set of Sherlock, the BBC series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson. It was filmed on location mostly in London with some locations in Wales that stand in for London. It was apparent right from the start that they were out and about in London itself because London has a distinctive look in spite of having a great many different neighbourhoods. You get a look at all the famous sites such as Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament (Westminster) and the Tower Bridge and Tower of London. You get to see the London skyline sometimes from a vantage point across the river to the Southbank. You watch Sherlock and Watson running through the streets of Covent Garden, Picadilly Circus and Soho at night.
We were part way through the second episode of Series 1 and both remarked at the same time that it was just like being back there. It’s always fun to watch for familiar views when you’ve been somewhere that a tv show or movie has used for filming and you can smugly point and say “I’ve been there”. We are enjoying the series as much for that as for the stories themselves.
Sherlock’s famous home, 221B Baker Street doesn’t actually exist in London. Standing in for it is 187 North Gower street, a bit further east, not far from the British Museum.
One of the scenes has Sherlock running through an antiquities museum. It seemed like a large place and I wondered why it wasn’t looking at all familiar. I’ve been in most of the big museums in London but it turns out that location is actually inside the Welsh National Museum in Cardiff. There are a few other spots and buildings in Cardiff they used as well including this one below, taken from the first series.
If you like London or want to go there, Sherlock is a great series to feast your eyes on the city’s streets and monuments. There are three series and only three 90 minute episodes in each. The stories are great, they’ve updated it really well. And then, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch! Arguments? Thought not.
Fangirlquest’s Sherlock location page
Britmovietours does a Sherlock location tour
This week, the WordPress weekly challenge is “Face”. This was the first photo that came to mind from those in my archives. It’s a little out of focus, taken through an exhibit glass case. We were touring through the Tower of London in the main White Tower where the armory is. It’s really chock full of interesting things, beautifully detailed and decorative armour for knights, kings and horses, too. You’ll also see weapons, a big sculpture of a dragon made of various weapons and shields, cannon, and other items gleaned from centuries of the iconic fortress.
This was a particularly creepy item. It’s an executioner’s mask. I don’t know if all of them wore masks, but one of them certainly did and I can’t imagine seeing that looming over you as you were about to hang or have your head removed. That’s even worse than seeing a man with a hood over his face!
London is my favourite city and I really love watching movies that are shot there. In many cases you get the usual shots of famous landmarks but often you also get scenes filmed on London streets and markets, too. I watched a 2015 movie over the weekened called Burnt starring Bradley Cooper and enjoyed watching the exterior shots quite a bit.
The movie is about a top chef, Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) who worked in Paris for a mentor, attaining two Michelin stars but ruined both his own career, the restaurant and a restaurant of one of his friends due to his addictions and diva-like temper. He cleaned up, shucked oysters in New Orleans and then came to London to get his career back. He persuades Tony (Daniel Brühl) who is running his father’s posh restaurant in a hotel to hire him back and gathers several other former coworkers as well to be on his kitchen team along with an up and coming female chef, Helene (Sienna Miller) who’s also a single mother. Emma Thompson has a small role as a psychiatrist that Adam must check in with on a weekly basis for drug tests as a requirement of his employment, due to mistrust and wariness Tony and his father hold for Adam.
In his quest for a third star, Adam proves to be as volatile as ever and since he still owes money to an old drug dealer, he’s kept on his toes trying to avoid a confrontation there as well. There is romance, sabotage and a lot of both arrogance and self pity and of course he learns a valuable lesson in the end. That’s not spoiling, that’s predictable. The movie isn’t bad and if you love food, it will really appeal.I loved the exterior shots, and particularly a few of the night shots that really showed off London’s lights (though I couldn’t for certain say they were real or cgi, they did seem and feel real. I hate that about modern movies, you never really know at times if the background shots are the real thing).
There are some street shots that are typically London. I try to identify streets and in this first one, the number 24 bus winds through Pimlico and Victoria station and up through Charing Cross Rd, Tottenham Court Rd and up through Camden. I think this section is probably Charing Cross/Tottenham Court area unless it’s north of Camden.
Then there are the typical shots of the landmarks. Billingsgate Market is integral to any story featuring a restaurant since buyers will go there at the crack of dawn to get the fresh fish for that day’s menu and we see exterior and interior shots.
This shot seems to be taken just under or near London Bridge, with the view of Tower Bridge and the HMS Belfast. Looking at the map and using Google Street view, it seems like it’s probably “Hanseatic Walk”.
And two more shots, just for placement so you know where you are. The movie plays out a few minutes before the opening credits which happen when Adam arrives in London.
Google has done it again. They’ve sent the Google camera inside the British Museum and now you can use the Street View feature in Google Maps to visit the museum without leaving your house. It’s pretty cool, too. You can “walk” through the rooms or jump from floor to floor. I think it would help if you had a map from the British Museum’s website, though. You can drop the little gold “man” onto a place on the museum map and there’s a series of numbers on your right that says what level you are on. If you click a different level, you find your self in a different room or gallery but you might also find yourself in a hallway or in a staircase, in which case, that map might prove useful.
It’s also possible to read a lot of the large information signs on the walls by the various displays. I think this is a great thing. I hope a lot of the major museums and sites in the world will be mapped out like this. They’ve done Machu Picchu as well. I think a site like Pompeii would be another good one to do with Street View and please, Google, do some more of the major museums and galleries in the world like the Smithsonian, the Vatican, and the Louvre.
This first photo is a screen grab from Google Street view of the Egyptian gallery with the mummies and sarcophegi. Below that are a few photos I’ve taken in the museum on visits in the past. (The photo at the top of this post is also mine, a closup of one of a sarcophegus)
Good heavens, I haven’t posted anything for nearly a month. I’ve been away and got my travelogue finally all sorted out and will be starting to post bits and pieces over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a photo I took in London on a trip in July 2004, of the chapel at the Chelsea Royal Hospital.
So far, London is my favourite city. It’s probably obvious considering that I’ve been there over a dozen times. With my fiance living in Manchester, we often take the opportunity to go “down south” to London or stop over on the way back from somewhere else. Even before I met him, I had been to this world class capitol city a handful of times. As I blogged the other day, I’ve not been in London during the Christmas season too often, just a couple of times.
One of these years, that’s going to change. Currently, I get a monthly newsletter from the official London tourist website, Londontown.com and this month, it’s about fab things to do in London over the holidays, as you would expect, and there really are a lot of things to do, many of them free.
Skating in London has always been popular. There’s always been outdoord skating at Somerset House on the Thames/Strand but did you know there are also outdoor rinks at Alexandra Palace, Hampton Court, Canary Wharf and beneat the London Eye, just to name a few?
There are Christmas markets, which would certainly be a draw for me! There are the big ones in Covent Garden and on the Southbank Centre and Hyde Park has a huge Winter Wonderland with markets, skating and events. But you know, sometimes the smaller ones are even better. I see there’s one in the Chelsea Physic Garden and I bet that would be really special.
There are special West End shows and I’d also be taking in one or two of them! It’s not all family friendly, though. I see something called Grotto Outre which looks to be a club or some kind of week long event party for adults only. I have a feeling I’m probably a bit long in the tooth for that! It would definitely be different! I think probably Alice in Wonderland would be more my speed after all but there’s a huge list of theatre, dance and other shows.
Back to traditions, though. The cathedrals and churches have choirs and carol singing. The shops and streets of London are decorated and lit up. Shopping, oh yes, the shopping is epic if you can handle the crowds. Smaller shops and neighbourhoods might be a better bet than Oxford Street or King’s Row and you’ve got a better chance of getting something made locally or something unique.
Does all this sound like a tourist advertisement? Yeah, pretty much. But, loving London as much as I do, I could spend hours on the Londontown Christmas website making lists of things I’d love to do if I had the chance to spend a week in London in December and one day, I am determined to do it.
This is a photo that I’ve probably blogged before. It’s one of my favourites though it wasn’t always. It was a colour film photo that was drab and non-descript. When I scanned it, a few years after I took it, I played around with it in Photoshop and this was the result. I was quite pleased with it. Black and White photography can really “pop” a photo, with contrasting light and textures.
I was on a walking tour through Richmond and we walked along the Thames towards a pier. There was a boat builder just beside this where we stopped to hear about him persuing his craft using traditional methods. We later boarded a boat to sail to Hampton Court where we had a guided tour of the highlights of the palace. I really want to go back again someday and explore it all.