Bridging the Gap

bridging the gap

It’s ‘Hump day’ Wednesday.

My mind looks at this day as a bridge.

This bridge was one of many, connecting the old historical Girona to the modern Girona residing in the catalonia region of Spain. A beautiful gap that was a pleasure to cross. The ‘old’ town is a plethora of stone castle, walls, hidden stairways and ancient churches.

Bridges are far from ordinary or daunting! Bridges are structural and artistic masterpieces. I like to hover in the reflection.

Today is my bridge. I’m going to hang here for a while and see what I can find.

 

Mountain Ranges

mountain ranges

Austria is stunning in ways I recommend discovering for yourself. The train runs through mountains and around every range. You’ll arrive in villages hidden in valleys. Everything in this charming country exudes a freshness of life.
Meeting a Monk on his way to a feast, climbing waterfalls, wandering around gold gilded buildings in Vienna and meeting a lifelong friend in Bregenz is how this photo speaks to me.

All Aboard

cruisedock

A vacation hot spot and a sea of people. The beach!

While on our honeymoon in Blanes, Spain there is a section near the marina where you can jump on a ferry and explore other towns along that coast, hopping on and off at your leisure. The beach was not always a sea of people which made this a great location for relaxing, nightlife and exploring the Catalonia region.

Monday Motivator; Slow down and Look with Artistic eyes

Lisbon subway map

Lisbon subway map


This memory is my Monday motivation. It was taken over 10 years ago on a 14 day trip through Portugal that I took with a friend I met in Austria on a previous adventure.

We started in Faro, the south of Portugal, and leisurely travelled to the north as we stopped at locations, some planned some not, along the way. We only went as far north as Lisbon because 14 days was pressed for time as it was; especially for an architect(my friend) and a curiously passionate history enthusiast(myself).

This photo was taken in a subway station in Lisbon.
Graffiti at its finest.
I want to propose that every city have one or two locations where artists of all skill can freely compose art in an outdoor public place. Of course every project or proposal has guidelines; no profanity, racist connotations, gang tags or ad campaigns, for example. There would also have to be talks of plans on how, and if, to cover costs of materials used. Would it be a free formed slab in a park, on a city building or owners of businesses putting in bids for their location, for example?!

I believe it would be a beautiful addition to every place. In Europe I have seen many areas that have a public place for artists to create. Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Paris; although I don’t think they were created by just anyone.

Imagine being able to go back to where you painted your first ‘painting’ before realizing how gifted you really are. Or a family vacation revisited of that place your children put their mark, on their terms, during a quiet reflective moment. Inspiration where you least expect it.

This type of project could bring people together who usually wouldn’t meet. It could be a tourist attraction in a place otherwise overlooked. Who knows, maybe this type of mural could become a historical masterpiece after a future Picasso, inventor or President makes their own leisurely marks.

I personally would make it a point to walk by a place like this daily just to people watch and get my fix of a breath of fresh art.
This memory in Portugal has travelled with me through the years. It set a tone for that particular day of slowing down and looking with more artistic eyes.

Would you contribute to an open air piece like this? What would you add? What do you do to slow down?
Is this the next best idea for community awareness, tourism or United Nations?!

Possibly. Regardless of how you look at it, displays like this are a way for people to think differently and look with someone elses eyes as well as show that humans have a common link to each other through art, of all forms.

{If you want to see and here more about Portugal; Visit again to keep an eye out for a post I will write about this 14 day trek}

Have a Mint Moment Monday!

Viewing Nook

SCAN0041

This was a great little surprise during an uphill climb on the way to Castle of Sao Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal.
After taking a street car we got off to take in the view, and grab a drink, from this open air restaurant carved from the rock.

I can not take credit for taking this photo; I only staged it and sat for the incredible view of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Thank you for this photo Saskia, my friend, and for a trip I will never forget.

This could very well be my self portrait. Always needing a bit of control and loving photography; I staged how I wanted the photo to look. My shoulders soaking in the sun, hair up, reflecting over a gorgeous view of a journey; as a self-taught, open-minded, gentle, curious woman climbing to find the next treasure of life. All captured by a friend because, although I have introvert tendencies, I need to be surrounded by great people.
(I just pulled that out of my ass but it sounds pretty accurately great!)

Catching the Wind

catching wind

While parasailing in Panama with my step daughter. It’s a bit surreal; hanging so high and above deep water mass attached in a quite comfortable harness by a balloon. We were much higher than it felt like while we were up there. I thought it would be a bit terrifying, but it was the complete opposite. It is a gradual pull into the air, very smooth.

We had the perfect vantage point of the area and saw some ‘giant’ stingrays. Next time I will bring a better quality camera since I know what to expect now.
This is the second most peaceful thing I have experienced. The first being snorkelling.

The Cuban Time Capsule

balcony gaze

barbershop

beach setting

classic

dolphin

lunchtime

makeshift bus

malecon

parliament cuba

roadsweep

streets

tropicana

tunnel

I’ve been posting many of my photos, individually, from past travels around the world. I thought out titles for them but would much rather have put some substance behind the image to draw you into my story of beautiful places worth visiting for yourselves.

In saying that, I will now write something I previously wrote while in Cuba with my husband, then fiancé, which was my birthday gift from him that year.
I have tweaked it here and there to add names and information, what I remember, you might like to know if planning a trip to the colourful independent country where time has seemingly stood still.

Cuba. August 2005

We are on a travelling bar, aka coach transfer, that is taking us to our hotel. This is how most all-inclusive package vacations start or so I’ve heard. This is my first.
I usually plan, with a combination of ‘fly by the seat of my pants’, my adventures. I love taking the train even if I miss the one ideally scheduled for my itinerary because I couldn’t find the right platform or read the schedule wrong.

With this trip I want to walk through Havana. Our last, first together, trip to El Salvador had a lot of driving. Here I want to walk with the people. In their streets, cafes and lives. Slowly, I want to breathe it all in; with our camera.

Hotel Internacional Veradero is marble, grande and smells old, a history filled old. There are sculptures of woman and mermaids throughout. You walk out of the reception and main lobby right onto the beach, literally. Everything is clean, reception is kind and efficient and our room has what we need.

How the sand and the water change their colour at sunset is mesmerizing. The beaches are clean, white sand(no rocks) with perfect warm water. As we waded in the water one day, a few large fish were riding the wave and brushed past us.
We took in the hotel entertainment tonight. Dancing and singing, perfect. I was one of four ladies to be picked to sit on the stage to watch the show while we were brought drinks. This is the life. Out of the three woman sitting with me at the table, I have a few short conversations with the one that I now realize is the hotel hooker. I hope she wasn’t initializing a transaction attempt when she touched my leg. Exciting Cuba is.

My birthday warrants an upgraded ocean view room with a balcony, thanks to my darling fiance. The thunder and lightning storm our first night is so fierce that it feels like a plane is running its wing through the entire length of the hotel at full speed.

Throughout the days that we wander the hotel en route to the beach or buffet, I am enjoying this drink made for me specifically. (Or so the bartender tells me; great strategy!)
“Dawn” (the drinks name, and mine)
Banana liqueur
Pineapple juice
Grenadine
Agostus bitters

The day of my Birth on a Catamaran day trip:
Imagine music, drinks, sun and my man relaxed on a boat in the middle of water mass.(fyi; he does not do well on boats) The water is quite shallow and the catamaran is large and smooth going. Anyone who goes to the Caribbean should try a catamaran boat tour. They build the best atmosphere and it’s a vantage point of the area that we otherwise would have just read about. On top of that, we had a ‘to die for’ fresh seafood lunch on the beach of Cayo Blanco, snorkelled, and swam with the dolphins in their natural habitat.
Snorkelling; in crystal clear water there were caves down there and fish by the hundreds. That is one of the most peaceful things I have ever done.
Dolphins; we docked at these platforms in the middle of nowhere, yet somewhere. There were buoys that we were told to swim within as small groups of people took turns in and out of the water. Of course with something like this you can’t get away with not having the touristic ‘buy a photo’. I am, nevertheless, thankful for it because….
The two dolphins appeared from the open water and glided in the water, swimming around all of the small groups of people. Their bodies are silky smooth and hard as a rock. It was hard to keep track of where they were swimming but we did see and feel them. The other people were a distraction and made it feel a bit chaotic. I don’t feel it’d be safe to include small children for this reason only.
The dolphins were trained to lean against a persons’ back for each photo. The real experience came next. As we were heading to leave the water one of the dolphins faces came close to my face; so I made a puckered kissing sound. Before I knew it, he swam out of the water right up onto my back then wiggled around. I believe he was communicating with me. I will take this feeling, memory and entire day to my grave. I adore, appreciate and value my fiance and everything that he does. He makes the ordinary special.

Anyone who goes to Cuba has to make the trip to Havana. You haven’t experienced the real Cuba if you don’t. Renting a car is safe, but make sure you have a good map. Also, if you like to explore and take your time, do not take a ‘tour’ of Havana. They are on strict time restrictions and don’t go to some of the greatest parts of the city. We went to Havana on our own and stayed the night. While in Havana we stayed with a family in their home. Usually called a guest home, although where we stayed they were not registered. Our room, with our own bathroom, had a lock on the door. They provided certain meals for us and we learned much about the area and how people live. Small private sector businesses have been allowed since 1993 and is limited to family run restaurants, guest houses and small-scale retail.
People here are so grateful for a bottle of water. It breaks my heart to see 13 year old girls prostituting themselves. It made me very uncomfortable. What do you do? We ended up walking away, briskly, after one of the girls tried to proposition my fiancé, while I stood beside him. This is everywhere in the world, but this was hard to digest since I had never seen a girl so young.

It is literally like you’ve stepped back in time. The music, cars and buildings. Traveling between Old Havana, Havana Vieja, and New Havana is like day and night. Havana Vieja was people with broken sandals, wearing hardly an outfit, living within streets cracked and homes poorly maintained, by the government. Driving in Old Havana is challenging because of the lack of signs, narrow streets, parked vehicles and deeply, unsafe, side roads. New Havana was Modern; people in dress pants, belts and shoes in homes with a place for their car.
The streets are very safe for walking, before dark. The military is present everywhere.

The government rations everything; med’s, housing, alcohol, smokes, food and even how many people can be a plumber, taxi driver or construction worker, for example. There is a book that has names, professions and communities listed to keep track of everyone. It works for the people and is all they know. Instead of having homeless people or poor communities, they take care of everyone within each class. The poor are poor, but have shelter and eat. The people are rich in kindness, appreciation, independence and are proud of their country and accomplishments. They work hard and live within their means. I can’t help thinking about how much we can learn from this land.
Pack an extra bag of items to give to hotel staff and other people you encounter regularly throughout your trip before you leave home. Things like hats, reading glasses, umbrellas, books, first aid, belts, candy, sandals, bandanas, lighters, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, body wash or toys.

Dawn is amazed by 2 bulls that were tied up in someone’s backyard. We are traveling, by an affordable hired taxi, back to Veradero from Havana Vieja.
Cuba is saying goodbye to me. I watch the lightning as two separate bolts travel across the sky instead of down. They practically made a circle before hitting the ground. It was like the gods were operating an etch-a-sketch.

Try to go to the market, a convent, Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, Musee de la Revolucion, Tobacco Factory and El Tropicana. El Tropicana cabaret is a great night out which included dinner, a bottle of rum and a show filled with dancing, singing and acrobatics that has been put on since 1939. We needed to reserve for dinner, but you can go just to have drinks, dance and watch the show. The show started at 9pm. We travelled to El Tropicana show by Coco Taxi; the little yellow ‘pods’. This is an experience. Make sure the driver has enough gas and be sure to set the price before you get in. It’s also pretty fantastic listening to a live band in a cramped, open air corner cafe. A band with saxophones and percussion instruments fill the nights streets.

That is the Cuba I experienced. I dream of a Cuba that stays mostly unchanged. It works for them. It’s interesting to see how they make it work.
Go explore as soon as you can.

If you have been to Cuba; what was your favourite memory or advice?