Bocce di Leone

I found this Bocce di Leone while wandering around Venice as the sun was rising. (I always love exploring a place in the early morning, watching the streets wake up around me. In Venice I also watch the gondolas with their gondoliers set off to work.)

These Lion's Mouths were used during the Republic to make complaints and denunciations against individuals - a concerned citizen put a letter in the mouth, and the State investigated. Significant evidence was required before the State would act, and a signed, rather than anonymous, letter was preferred.

Walk around Venice, and you can still find these - the Doge's Palace, for example, or the Church of St Martin. Wander Venice, and you'll never quite know what you will find.

Dreaming of Paris

So, as winter fades to spring in the Antipodes, my thoughts are turning to Paris.

A Mural in Marseille

I came across this wonderful mural in Le Panier district of Marseille. One painting on the back of a wall, yet it shows all that Marseille has to offer - the old town, the cathedral with the golden Madonna who beckons sailors to return home safely, a magical harbour, and a bounty from the sea.

Most importantly, the figure of the fisherman dominates. Marseille began life as fishing port under the Greeks, and it has been on the back of these fishermen and sailors that the city grew and thrived.

And from the fishermen - and their wives - came bouillabaisse.

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The Bikes of Vietnam

Just what I would see on a bike each day in Vietnam was amazing. After all, just how much garlic does one man need? How he got it all on there is beyond me.

Six on a bike was my record. I like the way the kids on the back all have their faces turned away from the traffic and exhaust fumes.

I really hate to think how cold this guy's were by the end of his trip. I would have loved a before and after shot, to see how much the ice had melted.

A bride and groom. Of course. What better way to get to (or leave) your wedding?

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These Boots Were Made for Walking - in Prague

Prague is a city for walking. At every turn, something to discover, a hidden, a wonderful view, a cafe beckoning me within. An art gallery or museum filled with wonders, a vineyard in the middle of the city.

I'm not sure how these worn and mismatching boots ended up hanging from a ceiling, but that is Prague. The unexpected. Art and contemplation in an everyday object.

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Dragons and Giants in Spain

I stumbled across a festival in the village of Terrassa in Spain. It proved a serious business. Some people must take forever to get their makeup ready. Or perhaps they've been standing in the summer sun a little too long.

Finally they all gathered, and the dancing began. I lost count of how many bride and grooms paraded before us, swishing skirts and slapping knees.

If you arrive a little late, it helps if you tower over everyone else so you can see over the crowds. It also makes for a spectacular entrance.

Finally the king and queen make an appearance. It always takes giants a little longer to get ready, before they can go dancing and join in the festivities. A stately dance, so neither crown will slip.

Then, once the royalty have given their blessings to all, the sparks start flying.

The cause of the sparks is the dragon. What is a festival without a dragon? An hour out of Barcelona, and a dragon appears.

But the dragon is perfectly safe, for he's guarded by pirates.

As I …

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