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A video of Trafalgar Square at Night.

During the day, Trafalgar Square is full of people zig-zagging in all directions. The square has always been a meeting point and even a point for protests. Today, you’ll find numerous entertainment events that run the day to night in Trafalgar Square including buskers in various locations.

The time I love Trafalgar Square the most is during the night. The grandeur of the square is amplified after dark when the crowds thin out. And, depending on the time of night you’re there, you could possibly have the centre of London entirely to yourself. Stand overlooking the square with the National Gallery at your back. The views are splendid and you can appreciate the great city of London all the more.

In view is the glorious St Martin-in-the-Fields, a glimpse of Charing Cross, Canada House and even Big Ben in the distance. If you look up, I’m sure Admiral Nelson reaches into the heavens. I don’t know why Nelson looks higher in the sky at night, but he does. The sound of the fountains is louder at night and they almost sound as if you are near a waterfall.

The passing double-decker buses are especially fun to watch as they circle the roundabout then jet off into Whitehall or Charing Cross Road. If you like night photography, Trafalgar Square is an ideal place to capture light streams. Of course, there are all of the other sights I mentioned to photograph as well.

London is one of the most populous capital cities in the world yet there is calm and a bit of peace in the centre. Late at night, there are few stragglers. Very late at night, there is no one but me here. At night, the quiet moments; just me and such great rich history surrounding me. It is during the night when I love London best.

Below are a few images of Trafalgar Square that I’ve taken over the years.

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Apsley House occupies a prominent position in the centre of London, next to the formal entrance to Hyde Park and opposite the Wellington Arch.

The impressive exterior owes its appearance to the reconstruction of Apsley House by the architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt from 1819 onwards. The whole exterior is faced in Bath stone, and the symmetrical neoclassical south façade has a high four-column portico. There are three principal storeys. Wyatt’s refashioning of the exterior of Apsley accompanied the addition of a new wing on the western side of the original five-bay house designed by Robert Adam.

Aspley House stands alone at Hyde Park Corner, on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, facing south towards the busy traffic roundabout in the centre of which stands the Wellington Arch.

With regard to Aspley House being one of the best places to photograph London, it is interesting because of the location.  In addition to the grand house, you’ll also find the Hyde Park Corner arches, the Queen’s Gates (in Hyde Park and facing Park Lane), Wellington Arch and plenty of traffic if you like long exposure light streams.

Where Is Aspley House?  How Do I Get To Aspley House?
Aspley House GPS Coordinates :: 51.5032°N 0.151491°W

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The newest addition to the Bridges of London Family Millennium Bridge and one of my favourites Is there a London bridge not to like?   The Millennium stretches across the River Thames connecting St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern.  In future posts, I will share some of my favourite London Walks which will include two ways to use this great bridge.   If you want a unique visit to London adds each of the bridges along the Thames River to your list of things to do.

For now, I will say the views east or west are not particularly great, though Tower Bridge is in nice view toward the east.  What I love most is being at either end of the bridge – Tate Modern side, or St Paul’s Cathedral side.  I especially favour this area for night photography because there are fewer people out and about after dark.  I often mention exploring London after working hours as the city’s population dwindles drastically.  Depending on the hour you venture out onto London streets, it is entirely possible to have the town to yourself.  And, here is a huge promise to you – when you are on your own in the city, you’ll appreciate London more and love her even more.

Being atop the Millennium Bridge is fantastic, which I mention above.  The contemporary design and airy feel of the bridge lend itself nicely to being below the bridge.  If the tide is low climbing down to the banks of the River Thames is easy enough if you don’t mind mud on your shoes.  The mud does hold a tripod in place very nicely I might add.  There are plenty of interesting perspectives for great photos towards The Shard, Tate Modern and even Blackfriars Bridge.  The city lights add interesting elements to whichever scene you choose that you will only capture being directly at the water.

For night photography, this is a fantastic spot for a stunning view of St Paul’s large dome. Of course, you’ll want to be on the bridge and not underneath it.  Get right down low, and place your camera on the bridge. Do be warned as others walk by, there is a vibration, so be sure to keep your camera steady.  Patience is the key for brilliant images.

Also be aware a few people will ask you not to include them in your photographs.  If you know about long exposures, then you know when the shutter is open for a length of time most people will not appear in your image.  On one occasion, I proved this to a passerby.  She did not like my answer after she told me not to take photos of her.  My reply was – “it doesn’t matter, you won’t show up in my photo.”  So, I asked her to walk in front of the camera then return to me.  She did just that and voila!  She was nowhere to be seen in the image.  

No matter if you are only a visitor to London or keen to capture brilliant images of the city, the Millennium Bridge should be on your list of things to do.  It should be no surprise I think night time is the best time to be here.

You might also like the short video of Millennium Bridge at night.

 

 

 

 

 

There has been a walkway crossing the Thames River at this point since 1845 when Isambard Kingdom Brunel opened his suspension footbridge.  Of course today, we call this point the Golden Jubilee Bridge.

Back in Brunel’s time, the footbridge connected the South Bank, now the Queen’s Walk, with the 180-year-old Hungerford Market which closed in 1860 to make way for Charing Cross Railway Station on the north side of the bridge.

Using the original brick pile buttresses of Brunel’s footbridge the original Hungerford Railway Bridge combine pedestrian and rail use, which the new 2002 Queens Jubilee footbridges continue to do.

The footbridge(s) offer some of the best views in London and remain one of my favourite places to cross the River Thames.  On one side of the bridge, there are unparalleled views of The London Eye, Parliament and Big Ben.  The other side of the Jubilee Bridge you can clearly see the Southbank, Royal Festival Hall, The National Theatre and St Paul’s Cathedral with Waterloo Bridge in the forefront.  At night The City of London shines like a beacon on the hill so beautiful and grand.

Especially nice is the way St Paul’s Cathedral dome towers over The City of London.  New contemporary buildings are going up at a rapid pace in The City, and yes, some are taller than the cathedral; however, these buildings cannot match the size of St Paul’s dome.  It’s remarkable and so beautifully lighted. 

During the winter the sun sets earlier so you can have a splendid view of commuters walking across Waterloo Bridge.  Additionally, a steady stream of London’s iconic red double-decker buses crosses the bridge in both directions.  Combine the silhouettes of people walking with the double-decker buses and the City of London in the background, and you have a classic London view.  What you will see is a scene directly from a movie.  It is a London scene you’re sure to remember.

The views from the Golden Jubilee Bridges are ones you’ll crave moments after you leave.  And, though modern(ish), the bridges are a window to what came before and made London so wonderful.

 

 

Travel Destination :: Bali Indonesia

FULL MOON CEREMONY IN SMALL VILLAGE IN BALI

My first genuine encounter with Balinese culture was in the small village of Tampaksiring called Penempaham. I was the only foreigner in the Temple that day and was warmly welcomed by the villagers. I had no idea what was happening but a young Balinese boy quickly befriended me and explained all that was taking place.

BALI FULL MOON CEREMONY

It was on this day I began to wrap my head around the genuine dedication the Balinese have to their beliefs, as well as the strong sense of community. This was also the day my love for Bali grew immensely. If you are looking for a rich cultural adventure and travel destination you will not forget, add Bali to your list of top places to visit.

These are a few things I learned while in the small Balinese village:
In Bali, there is no single day without a ceremony. It is an obligation for the Balinese to promote balance relations among human, gods and nature. Those principles are materialized through a sacrifice called Yadnya. Yadnya can be a very simple thing like giving a slice of one’s food to a wandering dog or cleaning up rubbish in a temple area. Yadnya, or giving away, is the root of most ceremonies in Bali.

There are five obligations or Panca Yadnya. Dewa Yadnya is for thanking the God, Pitra Yadnya to respect the ancestor’s souls. Manusa Yadnya is for cleaning human souls. Rsi Yadnya is held when someone wants to be a priest and Bhuta Yadnya is for thanking nature and balancing positive and negative powers. Yadnya is reflected through ceremonies.

Hundreds of ceremonies are regularly held anywhere in Bali and each is based on one of the Panca Yadnya. Different traditions from one village to another create more variations across the island.

Take time to step away from the comfortable resorts designed to make you not want to leave. Venture into a cultural education you will never find in a textbook by visiting a small village.

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London at night was not always so glamorous. Buildings and monuments were not so well lighted as they are today. In fact, until recently even the bridges though Central London were not as vivid as we now see them.

As a student in the 80’s I wasn’t the bravest soul in London. In fact, you might have called me terribly timid. The darkness of London kept me from exploring and being mischievous like I should have been at that age. At some point, the lights came on and what was once dark and grungy showed off the beauty of London. The buildings glowed and life seemed to have ignited around town. I always say when London discovered lighting, everything changed and London began to sparkle. It’s true.

Funnily, today I trundle the streets of the city into the wee hours without a care in the world. My sense of adventure is far greater today and there isn’t much I fear – even in the dark. Today, London and night photography go hand in hand. What’s more is the crowds disappear at night. Most of the London’s daytime population disappears once working hours are finished. The absence of people and distraction allows you to see the city differently, especially if you are a photographer. If you are simply exploring the city as a visitor, night time is ideal. You can actually drink in this great city and appreciate it more without having to mind others.

What does any of this have to do with the London Eye and sounds? Not much really. The Eye brightened up the Southbank considerably. This big wheel is a well-oiled machine so there is little sound at all. As my curious mind wandered, I thought what if….what if the London Eye needs a tune up? What would the sound be? This happens when I have one of the most populous capital cities in the world all to myself at night. My creativity and imagination take over. I talk to the city and sometimes I think she talks back to me.

Sometimes I even go back in time to precarious situations. I once saw a photo exhibition showing the Jewish quarters in East London. Seeing the compelling imagery I retraced the steps of the photographer and imagined what life was like for the people during that time. And, as glossy as the Southbank is today, I try to imagine the time when the area which is now the London Eye was a bit dodgy and the walk toward Tower Bridge was grungy.

Time has drastically changed London. Like New York changed Times Square into a Disney-like atmosphere, so, too, is London changing in that direction. Gentrification updates the old, yet the old bits we love are paved over for homogenization and I’m unsure that is very interesting.

Below are a few images of the London Eye

Called the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a step into a thousand years of history. The Old City is one of the best preserved European fortresses and still a living city today. Walk the impressive city walls, trundle along the Stradun, and let your imagination take you to another time.

The reasons to visit Dubrovnik are in the video. As a side note, the Dubrovnik police were not terribly appreciative of me laying on the ground while taking photos of their city during a full moon. I received a citation for public loitering tho’ the police did like the photos I captured. It all made for an interesting and harmless evening. Dubrovnik still shines in my memory.

As you view the video about Dubrovnik, consider these interesting facts about the ancient city.

:: Its claimed that the world’s first commercial pharmacy opened in Dubrovnik in 1317. Allied to the Monastery then, it is still in existence today, but with rather more recognisable modern remedies. That said, it still stocks some creams and herbal teas with recipes faithful right back to the 1300s.

:: Dubrovnik was the first ‘country’ (being a Republic at the time), to banish slavery in 1416.

:: Dubrovnik had the first orphanage in the world, which opened its doors to take in children in 1432.

:: Dubrovnik has a medieval sewer system dating from 1296 which is still in use today!

:: Agatha Christie spent her second honeymoon in Dubrovnik.

:: Dubrovnik’s Insurance Law is the oldest in Europe, being validated in 1395, some 300 years before Lloyds of London.

:: On Thursday 12th October 2016, Dubrovnik Old Town registered 1 million visitors in a year. The first time this ‘magical’ number had been reached in a 365 day period. (We’d say visit before it sinks under the weight!)

:: Dubrovnik is quite the Grande Dame of the film world having featured in Game of Thrones, Star Wars and in 2017 shooting is due to start on Robin Hood.

Destination: Dubrovnik

If you are in Dubrovnik, you might consider also a day trip to Mostar Bosnia. And, with my love of night photography, especially during a full moon, you might like this Dubrovnik post.

Love and Loathe – two words that come to mind when I think of Victoria Station. Rush hour, I loathe. I’m also not fond of the construction mess around the station. Everything is torn up and it seems the construction is a perpetual project weaving the old with the new.

I do love everything else including rush hour when I’m perched high above the fray inside the train station. There is an elevated area where I’ll retreat to and just watch. It’s amazing to watch the commuters zig, then zag, on the station floor. How does no one run into the other, I wonder? Victoria is also what you could call my home station as it is a hop, skip and a jump from home. The station is convenient.

Victoria Station has a great history. For me, it’s like stepping off the wild streets of London and into another world. The ticket windows and shops are modern, but when I look up, I’m taken back a hundred years.

Once you walk toward the Circle/District part of the Underground station, the feeling of being in a time warp amplifies. The ceilings are low; the lighting is dimmer and space is far too small to accommodate the myriad of commuters using the station. Strangely, I love the scruffy ambience despite not having an affinity for crowds. Once you’re down below on the Victoria Station platform, the conditions don’t improve. The platform is not nearly large enough. My best suggestion is to “move along the platform” to the far end where few people go. I do have to admit avoiding rush hour, so the experience isn’t so bad.

Unlike other Londoners, the District/Circle Line is my favourite. Apparently, these underground lines are slow and unreliable. Why do I love this particular line the most? Timeliness is far from the reason to be passionate about this Underground line. I’m never in a rush to go anywhere, so I’m perfectly fine if a train runs late. I don’t wear a watch. How would I ever know if a train runs behind schedule? The nostalgia of days gone by is the reason the District/Circle Line receives top billing from me. Each station along the line is an eclectic mix of nostalgic London with a few attempts to cosmetically mask the flaws. The stations tend to be older and have more London character. This ambience of “Old London” is what keeps me in love with her.

During winter, and when it snows, you can see the snowflakes descend on the track from the opening up above. For some reason this fascinates me, tho’ it is safe to say I’m easily entertained. In the video, you’ll see a train approaching on the District/Circle Line at Victoria Station in London. If you look close enough, you can see the snowfall. I especially love the brick arch above the train tunnel.

If you are fascinated with the London Underground you might also like Journey Through The London Underground.

Destination: London

Travel Destination :: Mostar Bosnia

I did not quite know what to expect when I agreed to visit Mostar. This is a beautiful town surrounded by modest mountains, yet the physical scars of the 90’s war are still quite evident. I would also add in sobering. The bridge in the photo above was demolished during the war years. After the fighting ended, the pieces of the bridge were literally drudged out of the water, and the bridge remarkably rebuilt piece by piece. What a fascinating fete.

Remembrances can be found throughout a stroll in Mostar, some very touching.

I look forward to a return to Mostar in the future not only to discover more but with hopes of seeing this town flourishing. Add Mostar to your travel destination list especially if you are touring Sarajevo or Dubrovnik.

As shown in the images above, the Neretva River is the heart of Mostar. The river spanned by the delicate arch of Mostar’s Stari Most is the River Neretva. It is one of the main waterways of the Balkans, and much of it – 129 of its 143 miles – is in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the last 14 miles are in Croatia). Twisting its way down through the Dinaric Alps, it is powerful enough to support four hydro-electric power plants. These include the Jablanica Dam at Konjic, which was created in 1953, but not without controversy – the consequent Lake Jablanicko swallowed up swathes of fertile agricultural land.

Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.

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One of a kind and the only in the world, The Icelandic Penis Museum is a must visit for those curious about penises. From big boy whales to the mighty walrus and the wee hamster, over 56 species are on display. If you are in search of the human sample, you won’t find one, but you will see plenty of penises in pop culture and art. Who would have guessed?

I was in Iceland to photograph the country’s awe-inspiring landscape with a hope of catching the Northern Lights. I did not seek the Penis Museum, it found me. In fact, it smacked me right in the face while I was walking on Reykjavik’s main street. How’s that for not paying attention? There is a visual for you. Yes, I ran right into a sign and it happened to be an advert for the museum. Far be it from me not to make this overt phallus display a signal that I must visit the novel museum.

Upon entering, of course, you feel as if you’re doing something naughty. Is this porn disguised as a museum? Once inside, the novelty becomes irresistible. Really, an elephant penis? It’s huge and captivating. The novelty is the other visitors who take selfies with various penises throughout the museum. If you plan your own penis selfie, be sure to have a zoom lens when you reach the hamster specimen; it’s minuscule. And the whale penis? If you are insecure about your own member, you’re sure to have envy when you spot the whale.

Do I recommend the penis museum? Yes. The displays are thoughtful, informative and tastefully displayed. Being an open-minded 21st-century gentleman, I think the world is far too uptight about far too many things. A little penis is not going to hurt anyone except perhaps the close-minded. And besides, if the Museum of Sex in New York City can have a Bouncy Castle of Breasts, it’s only right man’s best friend should have a home in Reykjavik.

I have great admiration for the person who thought of the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

Destination: Reykjavik Iceland