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Galleria degli Uffizi


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Uffizi Gallery

If you like sculptures and pre-renaissance to renaissance paintings, this is your palace. I spent a number of hours here admiring the sculptures in the sculpture hall. Here are my favourites.
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This is Julius Cesar. As some of you know, I'm a big fan Julius (... except when he is falsetto)

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I don't remember what this struggle was about.... sculpture does program it so well though.

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This is Mars & Venus.

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Here are some cultures & paintings... they only let us peak into the room.

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Of course there are great paintings as well, but these are harder to photograph. You can see

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This is Botaccelli's Birth of Venus... It looks so much more impressive when you see it live...

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This is a Caravaggio, painted on a shield.

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But enough culture, Firenze also has a good dose of retail therapy! The Ponte Vecchio also doubles as a jewelry market...

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Here this woman is attaching a love lock on to the bridge...

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Or you can go to the leather market for purses and jackets... They have a few streets blocked off and there is nothing but stall after stall of vendors selling beautiful leather goods.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 23:46 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Rome


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Everyone's Rome is different.

Rome is a big city where the population goes about its business, taking the influx of tourists in stride. When you look at what and how they drive, you are amazed that there are not a huge number of traffic fatalities...
If you cross the street in traffic, cars and motorcycles either stop or weave around you... of course it is better not to tempt your fate too often.

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The places you go and the things you see are what determines your Rome. For me, it's a Markovian Walk, not entirely random, going from piazza to piazza, from fountain to museum, with a stop here and there for a bite to eat and a glass of wine at a trattoria.

Rome is too big to blog, too big to encapsulate in a few phrases... It's a huge buffet that needs to be sampled many times. To paraphrase Cesar "I, came, I saw, I conquered a little and have to come back again. "
Here are some of the items that I enjoyed over the last couple of days.

Piazza Del Popolo

This is a huge open space piazza, with 3 church's on it and a wonderful fountain. The statues on one end represent victorious Rome, the ship beaks on the column represent naval victories.

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Spanish Steps

All tourists go to the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps), I really don't know why... but I did as well.

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Trevi Fountain

The Fontana di Trevi on the other hand has me drawn in with both feet. Here we have drama; we have water, and a crowd of people as an audience...

It is even more spectacular at night... especially when a religious procession passes by.

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Villa Borghese

My friend Naomi me was very kind to tell me about sculpture/architects Bernini and Boromini and also listed a number of places to find Caravagio (especially at the Borghese Gallery)... Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead, and when I got there, it was sold out... so I went for a walk with Serendipity to see what was in there on the Borghese park grounds.... I was not disappointed as you can see.

I found this wonderful sculpture of woman and a fawn playing with their child.

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I also found a number of sculptures dedicated to Writers & Poets. This one to Gothe is fabulous... They event have one dedicated to the Persian poet Ferdovsi.

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Caravaggio

I really like Caravaggio because he does things his own way. He has great technique and can paint whatever he wants, but what I really like is how he adds the unexpected and the off beat into his compositions! Take for instance the madussa's head on the shield, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fortunately the Borghese Gallery doesn't have a monopoly on him, so I went to see him "in the wild". I found 2 beautiful ones at the Maria del Pocono Cathedral; though my photos aren't of the highest quality, we can clearly see his panache in the conversion of St. Paul and the Crucification of St. Peter.
The documentation states that the church wasn't too happy with there paintings, and you can probably see why... myself I love them.

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Another place I found Caravaggio hiding was in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica at the Palazzo Barbernini. Here he paints Judith cutting off the had of Holofernes, a scene from the old testament. I like how she looks almost clinical in doing this heroic/dastardly deed. They also have a monk contemplating life/death, holding a skull.

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Also there, was this wonderful painting by Rafaello, La Fornarina. She was a baker's daughter and Rafaello's lover.

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Vittoriano

The Vittoriano is a huge monument to Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. It looks boring during the day time, but great to visit in the evening.
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Posted by tedvanrossum 08:34 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Kuta Beach in Bali

32 °C
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Kuta

I left Rome for the airport at 2:30 pm, and arrived at my hotel in Kuta, Bali the next day at around 7PM. It was a long trip, but today I can say it was definitely worth it.

Kuta is a beach, party town. It is very touristy and noisy with scooters everywhere. The streets are narrow and the sidewalks even more so. There are lots of tourist shops on almost every street, though less tourists, it is the start of the rainy season.

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If this was Mexico, I would hate it...but Kuta has Indonesia flair, very nice people, and exotic smells. Everywhere you go you see and smell sandel wood incense burning on the spirit offerings.. It seems every business lays out a new offering every day... even the people who sell beer on the beach have them.

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Beach

Kuta has a very nice beach. Here Thea is standing beside the enterance; we went in and had a nice long walk on the beach, till some beach chairs, umbrella and beer vendor caught our fancy. Sitting by the beach watching the surfers and going in for a dip every once and a while was such a pleasure after the hectic touring of last week.

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As we walked the beach we saw these little sand crabs building very interesting patterns around their burrow. Most sand crabs just pilled up the sand in mounds beside their hole; so why did these sand crabs create this pattern?? Our theories were, a) this was a bower to attract female sand crabs. or b) these patterns would trap sand crab prey and force them to come close to the sand crab hole. More research needs to be done, and Thea and I will dedicate ourselves and spend time on the beach to unravel this mystery.

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While we contemplated the problem, the sun set.

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We enjoyed our beach day so much that we did it the next day as well... notice my red chest..., that sunburn came through the umbrella yesterday. We were enjoying ourselves till a late afternoon thunder storm cut short our beach time. Someone had said that the rainy season was going to start soon.

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Fierce Spirits

As I have mentioned, the Balinese people are very gentle and friendly. The Balinese man on the seat next to me on the flight to Bali gave me his phone number in case I needed help.

I find it curious that such nice people have so fierce looking spirit's adorning their temples. Here are a selection of interesting ones I found at some temples in Kuta. Maybe I'll find out more about that when we go to Ubud.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 02:47 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Ubud Bali

30 °C

Ubud

Ubud is supposed to be the "Bali Cultural Capital", so I was very interested in going there. Our bus ride out of Kuta was an eye opener; there other things than tourists ... Driving along the main roads, I saw numerous workshops selling amorphous rocks, horizontal slices through complex tree roots, and of course lots and lots of statuary (fierce and otherwise). It was obvious that all this decoration is part of the Balinese life style.

From the bus stop to our Guest House was a good 20 minute walk, and it was obvious that we were in a tourist enclave, ... but at least an artistic one.
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Our Guesthouse, (Krisda Ubud), however was an oasis of calm. There was a central garden and a fountain at one end that provided a relaxing, almost musical background. Our rooms both came with a private verandah where we could have breakfast, or in the evening, enjoy a beer. There was even a spirit offering on it.

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No sooner had we arrived, checked in and installed ourselves on the porch with a glass of refreshing water; then it began to pour!!!! and pour and pour. The deluge lasted for an hour, then tapered off and cleared up. The timing for us could not have been better...

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Evening comes quick here, and after a short walk into town to find money, we went to an interesting place for supper called "Clear" that had a great view and delicious food from all over the world.

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Though this was nice, this was not quite the Bali I was looking for.

Finding a Serene Ubud

Not deterred by the commercial Ubud, we went off the next day to find a more serene rural Ubud. We started our walk on the Campuhan Ridge trail; it is a ridge situated between the Wes Timor and the Wes Barat rivers. The trail leads up from the river bed in town onto a wonderful breezy, airy ridge.

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We followed the trail for awhile till it led to a narrow paved road and saw some beautiful houses. Here was one under construction; you see the forest of bamboo poles holding up the curved concrete form for the roof.

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We happened upon this wonderful looking cafe & spa, where we had a delicious mango lassi and a banana & papaya lassi. Our table over looked this beautiful lotus pond, and the rice paddies next door.

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We were intrigued by these rice paddies and wanted to find more.

Posted by tedvanrossum 01:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

Ubud Rice Paddies

28 °C

Rice Paddies

The trek on the Campus an Ridge brought us to a small village and we thought we would walk back through some rice paddies. As we searched for the beginning of the trail, (We were using Google & GPS), this Balinese guy started talking to us and mentioned that the start of the trail was back 50 meters, so we went back but passed the point he indicated. He then showed us how to get into the paddies and then started to show us some of the great views and how to negotiate these fields.

If you are not familiar with these, there are main feeder channels in concrete; most of the fields however are then fed by small hand dug channels with a little dry land on either side. It is these little high ridges(maybe only 12 to 18 inches wide), that you walk on. Yes, if you are balance impaired, you will find your self with very muddy shoes at best, or covered in mud at worst.

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We followed him blithely

We followed him blithely at first as he showed us some very nice vistas.

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As time passed and we got farther from his starting point, we realized that he was probably going to expect some sort of payment. At this point we stopped him and asked him about this. He said he was a professional guide and could take us to a lot of places, like the big river where they do white water rafting. We only wanted to walk the Paddies and I wanted to negotiate a price, but he would not mention a price, he said I should give him something depending on how I enjoyed the walk. Of course this makes me feel very uncomfortable, ... I don't like miss-match expectations.

When he started to lead us away from the path we expected, we bailed out and said we were going to take the path we were planning to take. We gave him Rp 50,000 (5$ CDN) and parted ways.
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Rice grows all year long

We then proceeded further down the trail and I learned a lot about rice paddies just by looking around. Rice it seems grows all year long, you can have paddies at different stages of growth in fields next to each other.

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Here are some farmers harvesting the rice.

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The sky became ominous

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As we were finding the end of the rice paddies, the sky began to look ominous, and we took the paved track out of the fields... this was no wider than a Canadian sidewalk, but it was traversed by lots of scooters. It then began to spit, and just before the deluge started, we managed to find a wonderful organic restaurant that had a free table under the verandah... and then it poured ... for 2 hours! ... and we had a wonderful lunch with exotic, non-alcoholic drinks.

Posted by tedvanrossum 05:53 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

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