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Houseboats on Dal Lake

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Once upon a time, in the 60's when the world was very different, Dal Lake in Kashmir rated high on the hippie trail. The lake, nestled between snow-covered mountains, is covered with old wooden houseboats. These were built by the British as retreat from the summer heat (at the time, the British weren't allowed to own land, but a boat on the water was a different thing). Now, with Kashmir occupied and a curfew in place, few visitors wend this way. We had the lake virtually to ourselves - a far cry from those heady days when the boats were filled with backpackers and a haze of smoke from locally grown 'herbs' settled over the water each night. Every day we would potter around the lake and into the by-waters on long boats. Nestled amongst cushions and rugged up against the cold (for the snow was creeping down the mountains) I felt as if I had entered the world of the Raj. One morning we even woke before dawn to reach the morning market , hidden d

Spending Time in The Oltrarno

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A ten minute stroll from the Ponte Vecchio (c) A. Harrison Once considered the unfashionable side of the Arno River, today Florence's Oltrarno retains a medieval air. A shoemaker at work (c) A. Harrison It is a place for wandering along empty side streets, and see artisans busy in their workshops , as they have been for centuries. Doves with a perfect view of the Duomo (c) A. Harrison Trees and gardens are everywhere, so at times I felt as I were wandering a Tuscan hill town, not the heart of Florence. A perfect spring morning (c) A. Harrison Shops and restaurants are filled with locals, a perfect place to sit and reflect on the wonders of Florence . A perfect sunset (c) A. Harrison Like my photos? - if you feel like contributing to my coffers, please click the link to buy my photos from my blog (still a work in progress, more photos to come) or else from the micro-stock sites iStock or Shutterstock . These are affiliate links, as may be some

Shore-side Greetings

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Just a happy, dancing samurai, greeting the boat as we sailed into Sado. Wherever our boat docked, there was always a greeting. I feel like I've seen the opening ceremony for the upcoming Olympics. Dancing, singing, performances with coloured flags, bands, speeches, acrobats; it was all there. I'm not quite sure who this fellow was. Something lost in translation, but he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as everyone else. Not to mention the proud parents who couldn't help but join in. From various ports I ventured to ancient forests , a village of canals  or simply enjoyed walking through a garden in the rain ; but everywhere, this fantastic greeting. Keeping the famed crested ibis of Sado under control was left to the dancing samurai. The ibis had a habit of running over to hug visitors as they returned to the boat. While others just enjoyed drumming away. The kids with their instruments were spectacular. They were there when I

The Toy Soldiers of Prague

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'Changing of the Guard' always has such a romantic tone, especially when the soldiers are dressed in their parade ground finest. The guards at Prague Castle proved no exception. Once home to kings (such as Good King Wenceslas ) and the heart of the Bohemia Empire, the area around Prague Castle is a delightful place to wander, especially first thing of a morning before the crowds arrive. Pomp and ceremony, precisely pressed uniforms, the flash of cameras, and in ten minutes it was all over - but a perfect way to start a day of exploring in Prague. Like my photos? - if you feel like contributing to my coffers, please click the link to buy my photos from my blog (still a work in progress, more photos to come) or else from the micro-stock sites 123RF or Shutterstock . These are affiliate links, as are some others in my blog.

Pax et Bonum - Dawn in Assisi

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I woke to a watery sun creeping through the window. Yesterday, I’d looked over terracotta rooftops and onto an Umbrian countryside so classic as to be breathtaking. Now Assisi lay hidden by mist. Spires and steeples appeared and disappeared at the whim of a cold breeze, and every noise came as if from far away. Water dripped from the roof and onto the windowsill beside my hand.

A Quiet Museum in Prague

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Statues in the garden I knew I would love this place on seeing the sour-faced guards. It was late on a rainy afternoon, and they so obviously wanted to be elsewhere. Somewhere preferably involving beer. I, however, wanted to be here. The Schwarzenberg Palace Museum is in the palace precinct in Prague, in a sgraffiti- decorated Renaissance palace on Hradčanské Square, beside Prague Palace. The gardens of the museum are a beautiful formal affair, an elegant introduction to the museum proper. The statues shimmered in the soft rain, ready to move as soon as I turned the other way. I entered to marble staircases and elegant corridors. Beautiful blue and white pieces of Renaissance ceramics adorned the stairs. Even the windows offered amazing views over the city. I could have spent an hour walking up those stairs. Schwarzenberg Palace Museum is part of the National Museum, which is housed not in one place but in a few buildings across Prague. The museum was virtually desert

The Lost Temples of Angkor

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Nothing quite prepared me for these giant trees. I've seen so many images of them (and yes, we've all seen the movie) but to actually wander through the temples and see trees sprouting from stones is an eerie site.