Category Archives: Eastern & Central Europe

Prague – a view from the Imperial Gardens

Prague, – many say the most beautiful city in Europe. She lies in the Vlatava river basin.

Here is a view from the Imperial Gardens next to the Prague Castle, on the same hill where you find the St Vitus cathedral.

See the river snaking past in the valley.

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Kaliviotis Beach – Corfu

The views between 6 and 9 in the evening

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it is ‘n little bay on the south east of the island with a few fishing boats and a yacht or two passing.

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They have these strange plastic containers hanging from trees. I have no idea why. Perhaps petrol for if you run out?

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So I thought no, they are holding down the the olive branches.

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But this isn’t an olive tree, and that is not even a branch.

A little north there is another village, Nota, perhaps tomorrow I make it all the way there 🙂

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And snakes, spiders and some other dangers apparently.

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And then the sun sets over the harbour.

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Midnight in the White Nights of Sint Petersburg

In the middle of summer they have the White Nights in Sint Petersburg. It never really gets dark. Here are a few photos taken from the water between 11 and 12 at that time.

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Csar Peter lived in Amsterdam for a time and was so inpired by the city that he built Sint Petersburg on the same plan. You can now take a canal cruise around midnight to see the place in the (semi) dark.

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See how warm it is in summer here?

On an island in the Neva river is the St Peter and Paul cathedral and fort.

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The flag is on the fort in front of the cathedral. Terrible story, Csar Peter (yes Peter the terrible) had his own son tortured to death in the fort. I don’t think it gets a lot more terrible than that. He suspected him (wrongly) of treason.

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The rostral columns with the old stock exchange building behind them. A revival of Greek architecture. The columns were initially light houses for navigation on the river, – which they front. Pity they don’t light the torches on top, it really looks good.

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The Aurora, an old Russian cruiser. They started building her in 1897 and she still served in the Pacific during the second World War. And here she still lies, today as a monument, as old ladies sometimes do.

Do you know the word cruiser comes from the crusades? Next time you plan a cruise, spare a thought for the old knights of that time.

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I haven’t a clue what this building is, looks like the Scottish flag there.

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And finally the Palace Bridge. The crescendo of the midnight cruise is that the bridge opens. Here we are, hoping to heaven midnight would strike so we can get off the freezing water.

A bit funny really as I was there with a friend from Amsterdam. In the Netherlands of course many many bridges open, all the time, without any tourists attending the momentus occasion.

But this is Russia and its a big hoopla and it works in fact. There we are on the boat waiting for midnight to strike so that the bridge can open..

Blue Mosque – Istanbul

Sultan Ahmed couldn’t resist the temptation to build his own mosque in direct competition with the Hagia Sophia. So the Blue Mosque is fated to stand forever opposite its inspiration.

I didn’t realise that the design for most mosques was inspired by an antique Christian church, but there you have it.

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Inside

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I don’t know what they were thinking with those lights.

The courtyard is quite busy..

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And outside on the steps, the common people of Istanbul..

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The view from the Hagia Sophia.

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Hagia Sophia under snow

Constantine’s Hagia Sophia on the left, Sultan Ahmet’s Blue Mosque on the right and the Hippodrome with Thutmose III’s obelisk as well as the walled obelisk in the foreground.

With so much history its no wonder Constantinopel or Istanbul was the centre of the civilised world for so long.. or is it the other way around?

The Hagia Sophia has been standing since 538 AD, almost one and a half thousand years. It was the biggest church in the world until 1520 when the cathedral of Seville was built. Rather a long time to keep a record.. 1000 years.

Incidentally the minarets were not part of the original design either 😉 It was changed into a mosque after the fall of Constantinopel in 1453 to Mehmet II.