Apr 062014
 

It was a cloudy day, but I thought I could still manage an interesting shot of the equestrian statue of Cosimo de Medici. It’s in the Piazza della Signora in Florence, Italy. I liked the idea of making the horse the focus of the image.

equestrian statue in florence italy

Apr 052014
 

This is the first Mayan ruin I ever encountered. It came after a heat stroke inducing trek up a slippery hill wearing flip-flops. When I got there, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Fortunately, the next day, Tikal exceeded all expectations.

I didn’t have much intention of sharing this photo, but as I’m really far behind on my daily posts and struggling with a laptop that likes to crash just as I finish processing a new photo I thought I’d quickly upload this one.

Apr 042014
 

On my most recent trip to Italy, we were driving through Tuscany, a little lost but enjoying ourselves. Suddenly, everything started to look familiar. Out of nowhere I told my friend Chris to take a left. Things looked more familiar and I suggested driving up a small single track road. Chris is good in that he’s always calm, and happy to go with the flow. In his usual way, he didn’t ask why, and just drove up the little road.

(This is the same guy who paddled me within striking distance of a herd of elephants, in Zambia, and told me to just keep taking pictures)

My suspicions were correct, that track led to the Castello de Montegufoni. I first came to this amazing hotel with my parents as a kid, and we went again, when I was at university, with my English relatives.

The first time we were there two events stick out in my mind. The first was the sound of beautiful violin music piped through the courtyard you see below. They seemed to have an amazing sound system hidden away somewhere. At some point, we were sat at one of the communal dinners in the hotel’s vineyard and discovered that a man eating with us was the first violinist in one of the famous European philharmonics (I can’t remember which one). It turns out the music we could hear throughout the courtyard was him practicing.

The other memory was waking up in the middle of the night to discover that my parents had joined me on the pullout couch in the living room. Their bedroom was a loft, up above the living room. As it turned out, they’d been sat enjoying a glass of wine at their open window looking at the moon. Suddenly, a winged creature was silhouetted against the glow. A winged creature that soon winged passed my parents and into the rafters. It was a bat.

Oh, three things. The tuck shop had the most amazing multi-ice-cream sandwich/ice cream bar combo. I’ve never found it anywhere else.

On my second trip there, I remember my uncle Mike preparing the biggest mound of chopped garlic I’ve ever seen, amazing gooey cheese, a night of sambucca and limoncello, and my mom feeling bad for my dad as he seemed to be spending all his time on his Blackberry working. As it turned out, he was actually trying to beat the high score I’d set on Brick Breaker.

I’m not sure I told anyone I stumbled upon this place, so this picture may come as a surprise.

Courtyard of Castello di Montegufoni, Tuscany, Italy

 

Apr 032014
 

If you want to feel like you’re walking through an alien landscape this place has to be top of the list. The thermal vents in the Ayuni Desert really are surreal. When we were there, other than our group, there wasn’t a sign of another soul anywhere.

mud pool at the thermal vents in the ayuni desert, Bolivia.

Apr 012014
 

The most amazing thing about these thermal vents was the total lack of barrier. Ten years on, I wonder if they’re still left completely open for people to wander between with no safety barriers whatsoever. I expect, and hope, they probably are.

If you look to the left, you’ll see a Welshman doing his best fall into boiling water.

people walking though steaming red thermal mud vents in ayuni bolivia

Mar 312014
 

Brasov’s main square is beautiful and has a bit of a German feel to it. This is due to the influence of Saxon traders who made their home here in the middle ages. The square is punctuated by a large fountain and Brasov city hall in the center.

brasov's city hall in front of a partly cloudy sky with the central fountain in front of it, Romania

Mar 302014
 

This was one of my favorite photos from Bolivia, taken on my little Olympus point and shoot. I had this photo blown up and hanging on my wall for years.

It’s the view over Sucre, Bolivia taken from within a beautiful old Spanish portico. While there, I committed the ultimate sin of haggling over  the price of an embroidered rug, reaching a price and realizing I’d forgotten my wallet. It was pretty embarrassing, fortunately one of my travel buddies happened to come round the corner and was able to lend me the cash. The rug I got had it’s edges mysteriously burnt while it was in storage at a hostel. A perfectly round hole was burnt through my bag and into the edges of my folded rug. It wasn’t too bad, added character at least, and I actually still have it on display under the glass of my coffee table.

view from an acrhway overlooking Sucre, Bolivia

Mar 292014
 

This is Coddu Vecchju, one of the giants’ tombs found scattered around Sardinia. They’re built way back in the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization. The Nuragic are named after their circular forts called Nuraghe.

giants tomb in sardinia facade of monolith in front of barren vineyard

Mar 282014
 

Llamas have a bad reputation for spitting on people. I can tell you with absolute certainty that that’s a lie, at least where the llamas photographed are concerned. We walked all amongst these guys and they barely batted an eye at our presence.

This is another of my old photos taken with a point and shoot ten years ago. If you look close you can see little pink blobs in the background, those are flamingos. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen a flock of wild flamingos.

It wasn’t long after taking this photo that our guide woke us up at 2 in the morning and ordered us to get packed and ready to leave. We were supposed to fly from Sucre to Santa Cruz two days later, but he had heard there were protests scheduled in Sucre that would prevent us from entering Sucre if we didn’t leave Ayuni immediately.

After loading onto the bus, bleary eyed, we careened along the rough mountain roads, clinging to the cliffs, towards Sucre. Despite our early departure we didn’t make it back before the roads into the city were blocked by the haphazardly placed vehicles of angry bus and taxi drivers. Our guide went on ahead to assess the situation and came back to inform us that we’d have to complete the last few miles into the city on foot.

Apparently we were lucky it was drivers striking and not farmers because it was less likely that they’d throw rocks at us as we passed (That’s less likely… i.e., not completely out of the question). We were still told to stick together and keep our eyes up as we walked through the barricade. As it turned out, the protestors were content to get us off our bus and make us walk with our packs into the city, and we passed through without incident.

It was definitely a situation where using a backpack trumped a rolling suitcase.

Llamas eat grass in front of a snow capped mountain in Ayuni, Bolivia