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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

London — Magic and Tragic

London oozes culture from the cracks of its pavements.  History and liberty abound; yet, perhaps London stands alone as the place in the world that unveils the highest level of the opposing states of regal and raunch.

In some parts of the city, you can feel aristocracy in the air, which I find to be a pleasurable thing.  I don’t need anyone to give me a concerning smile and a hearty chat, but can simply enjoy a sense of refinement and elegance skipping around on the grey streets in the better parts of town.  And, if you are lucky enough to know of some obscure inner circle restaurants in London and cost is not much of a concern, your culinary needs will be more than satisfied.

Other places in London can be abrasive and untidy to the point of having to dodge waste on the streets and an obvious presence of groups of people who appear emotionally numbed, perhaps by financial woes, too much alcohol, logistical problems, and a general feeling of the weight of life.  In this state of existence, there becomes an acceptance of too many cupcakes, an abandonment of civility, and a lost-count of glasses of wine or bottles of beer consumed, as if people are grasping to own little moments where they are able to put down their guard and forget about their worries.

But on this day, there is an oblivion to the dichotomy of London as I decide to board one of those prettily glaring candy-apple-red double-decker buses running through the heart of the city, and today I become a full-fledged admitted-tourist.

During the double-decker bus tour, I attempt to take photos that give a unique perspective to some of the more common sites of the city and in the end, I feel that I have found pretty good results.

A man reading the morning paper on the front steps of London Bridge Hospital Building.

Old couple walking down the street together

The next day, I attended the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham palace, and felt like I was crammed inside a box of overloaded toothpicks, barely able to move or see anything more than a 60 second segment of the ceremony in motion.

If I could do it again, I would roam around Buckingham Palace before the ceremony, watch a few minutes of the fanfare, and then leave and watch a youtube on “changing of the guards” at my leisure. 

The crowd making their way toward Buckingham Palace, awaiting the beginning of the ceremony.

More people rush to gather around the main gate.

–Most people are feeling a little stress because there seems to be no good place to stand.

The parade segment of the ceremony starts, and because I am standing at the gate, I can see nothing but human bodies in front of me.

So I turn to photograph the lady standing directly before me at the gate…clearly not happy.

Finally we see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, and although there is a partial view, there is an air of satisfaction.

Machu Picchu — Feels Like Fantasy

On my trip to Machu Picchu, this is what I saw upon first approach…A fortified Inca town in the Peru Andes Mountains, thought to be built in the 1400s (exact date unknown).  

The invading Spaniards never found Machu Picchu during the war and so the Peruvians hiding away and thriving here remained safe. The site was not discovered until 1911 (Can you imagine discovering a place like this?). Machu Picchu is noted for its dramatic position, perched high on a steep-sided ridge.  No one is certain about why the inhabitants here appeared to suddenly evacuate this seeming paradise.

Ode to Paris

France was on my mind today when a sort of a bitter-sweet nostalgic mood came over me.  I guess it was a longing for the Paris of the past to stay strong and never fade; although, it is certain that everything changes. And so I hang on to some sweet memories and hope for at least a few more intriguing times in the city of love and lights.

Anyway, I’d like to take you out into the city to do some classic visits to places in Paris that you will probably recognize. I hope you can see things with fresh eyes and feel a slight thrill from time to time.

And of course, sometimes all these photos of the Eiffel Tower gets a little tiring…I mean how may miniature Eiffel towers can you view until you’ve just had enough ??

but if you look at the same picture through someone else’s eyes, then the familiar may seem slightly new again.

Night has a completely different feel than day does here.

A view from a boat on the Seine River.

Slightly dizzying.

From a top Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris on a rainy day.

A section of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris at night … with an unbelievable midnight blue sky.

Heading to the Louvre Museum

All the fuss about Mona Lisa.

Jardin du Luxembourg at dusk (click to enlarge).

Champs-Elysées’ Arc de Triomphe

After climbing the stairs to the top of Champs-Elysées’ Arc de Triomphe, a welcoming view.

View of Paris from atop the Arc de Triomphe

Lunch at a Paris cafe with my niece Caroline.

And along the street, classic views…

Look above my head and you will notice that the tree is decorated with books.

A lovely Parisian sidewalk flower shop.

I hope that you felt like you visited alongside of me…It is good to keep these memories of Paris in a safe place.  xx ~Sonya

Hello Tokyo — A Stylish Rickshaw Ride

Hop aboard our rickshaw…

Join me and a rather well-known, ever-elegant, Parisian Gentleman (and my partner-in-life)…

( Sonya Nicholson and Hugo Jacomet)

Our driver is quite nice and rather funny. I think you’ll like him.

In the distance, do you see the Tokyo Sky Tree tower?  It is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo that reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world.  At night, the tower displays alternating colors, with one night shining blue and the next night illuminating purple.

The street lanterns lining the streets gives an ambiance of years past with a surreal romanticism filling the air.

– Time to disembark. Surrounding the Temple, the grounds are serene…

—Who would have thought that the 10 minute walk to the Temple Grounds would look like this?
And now a little history…or more than you ever wanted to know about a Buddhist temple:

From wiki: “Sensō-ji (金龍山浅草寺Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji?) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakus, Taito, Tokyo, Japan.  It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendal sect, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Shrine”  The photos above are of this temple.

According to legend, Senso-ji’s (senso-ji.jp) origins date to 628 A.D., when two fishermen in Asuka, then the capital of Japan, retrieved a statue of Kannon-Bosatsu, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. They brought the divine image to Haji no Nakamoto, the town headman, who converted his home into a temple devoted to the deity, establishing the oldest existing temple in Japan. The temple became a major site of worship during the centuries between its establishment and the present day, and its priests expanded its grounds and built an immense complex of shrines and halls of worship upon the site through the years. Senso-ji currently receives more than 30 million visitors annually. Admission is free, and the temple is open all year long (“Temples in Tokyo”, USA Today.)

This photo and the next one was borrowed from HectorBC of Flicker. Here is a building on the grounds with a single layer roof built on an aesthetic iki design, that has survived the big Kanto earthquake and the bombing of the second world war.

Another temple in Tokyo: The most authentic and impressive temple you’ll find in North West Tokyo is the Gokoku-ji just outside Ikebukuro.  It is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo’s Bunkyo-ku and  was established by the mother of the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. In 1873, Emperor Meiji declared Gokoku-ji the Imperial mausoleum, and several of his children are buried there, as well as Emperor Meiji himself. It remains the Imperial mausoleum today.Gokoku-ji is also famous as the central temple that oversees the practice of the Japanese tea ceremony in all the country’s temples.The temple area includes traditional Japanese grounds, a pagoda, a tower, a garden of lanterns and housing. As for dates, Gokokuji is a Buddhist temple in the Bunkyo ward and was founded in 1681 in the Edo period.

A close up photo taken with my iPhone of a section of the Pagoda of Sensōji Temple, also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple.   Fascinating detail.

All and all, this is a day that I’ll never forget. ~Sonya

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