At first glance this looks like a large green ball in front of Paris’ Hotel de Ville. On second glance it’s very, very odd. In fact it fits the wtf! category perfectly. See Weird Stuff in Paris for a full explanation.
I loved this statue in Paris’ Tuileries Gardens and worked hard to get the big wheel in just about the right position to turn the gorgeous creature into a juggler.
This is Lake Geneva seen from Vevey in Switzerland, with the Alps and racing sailboats in the background and a little girl more concerned about the position of the chair than the vast and bizarre fork sticking out of the water. More Vevey Photos
When visiting Zurich on a day trip I was pleasantly surprised how relaxed the city was since it has a stern and businesslike reputation. This, however, is the Swiss National Museum on a sunny day in the summer and the central courtyard was decked out for a DansPalais rave. The globe was quite wide and attached by a chain from above. As usual a lot of angle/distance/lens fiddling was required to erase other disco elements. More Zurich Photos
A Basque sculpture on Monte Urgull in San Sebastian Donostia, one of our favourite European cities, in Spain’s Basque country. The angles were slightly exaggerated by the wide-angle lens but the metalwork is still massive and dramatic. The woman there was not posing, just taking a moment.
A dramatic and unusual mis-en-scene in a church in San Sebastian Donostia’s old town. The prayee is real, the removals men are not.
This shot was a pleasure because the Picos de Europa mountains in north Spain are generally chilly and under cloud so this was literally a brilliant day with great shadows. The ambience was totally relaxed and the people had a lazy, surreal quality, with the guy in the middle enthroned and his little girl wandering lonely as a cloud. The location is Mirador de Cable, 800m above from Fuenté Dé by cable car. Some superb hikes, long and short, start from here.
I’ve seen many straightforward photos of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy over the years but when I visited I was delighted to find locals adding some flavour by enjoying the riverbank tranquility while tourists humped the steaming streets and sticky Uffizi.
Admiring the ceiling of the Baptistry of Florence Cathedral, Italy.
I had to lie on the floor to get the shot and the guards became quite excited about my unseemly posture. In fact that’s exactly why they are there, to stop tourists from lying down to view the ceiling better.
And outside Florence’s Baptistry, the incredible ‘Gates to Paradise’ doors facing the Duomo (and free to view).
How many know that beneath Monaco’s tiny overbuilt city is a series of natural caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites? Well, here they are, via a free tour from the Jardin Exotique. You have to pay to enter the Jardin, but not much and the views over Monaco’s ‘Rock’ and port are excellent. Bizarre, eh?
Larvotto beach in Monaco. Ooh, I do love to a cheeky photo. Butt actually the beach is surprisingly pleasant, covered with soft man-made gravel and split into a pay and non-pay section so budget tourists don’t hesitate to grab a piece of Monaco real estate!
Playa de la Arnia, perhaps my favourite beach along Spain’s Atlantic coast due to the amazing rock fins and soft sand. Check out the other side (via the page link) which features a unique series of rock swimming pools where learning to swim could be a lot of fun, or challenging, depending on which way the tide is moving, and it does seem to advance/retreat very fast on the Cantabrian coast, possibly due to the gentle gradient of many beaches.
Also along the north coast is Playa Amío’s narrow neck that mostly disappears at high tide. These Spanish Atlantic Coast beaches are sensational, some of the prettiest in the world without question. Atlantic Ocean water is distinctly chilly compared to the Mediterranean, though looking at official statistics the difference is not so remarkable. Atlantic waters off the north coast of Spain in August 2015 were 22C/77F. Off the Mediterranean’s Nice (Côte d’Azur) at the same time 24C/75F. Still, for warmer Atlantic waters choose a shallow enclosed bay!
And another one. . . this spectacular spot on Spain’s Rias Baixas (Galicia, north Spain) is an old Celtic fort in the middle of nowhere, free to enter and such a stunning natural beauty that you can just sit around for hours soaking it in. This fort is called Castro de Baroña and there is, as you can see, an excellent white sand beach 10 minutes walk away, with another larger one out of the picture. There is free street parking up the hill and through the woods. I often ask Ikuko to linger in a shot to give it some scale, so there she is.
Yes, England does have sunshine and warm days. Not many, true, but when it all comes together, the Thames riverside is a delight. This shot of the South Bank, Millennium Wheel and a tiny Big Ben encapsulates for me the pleasures of London on a fine summer day. London South Bank Photos
Simple, clear genetic information (among many other subjects) in London’s Science Museum, one of three superb free museums close by each other. The other two are the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (aka V&A, the world’s largest decorative arts collection and my personal favourite).
Another snatched and serendipitous shot. Is that 2D hairdresser planning a mod job on the 3D lady’s bouffant, or what?
I don’t usually do portraits but I love this one of an exhausted Carnival float driver at the end of his plastic string. Bon courage, mon vieux!
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
One of the holiest entrances in Christendom, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral’s Puerta Santa.
Puerta Santa is engraved with scenes from the life of St James, including his execution. It connects to the cathedral’s east entrance and only opens on years when Saint James’ (Sant Iago) Day, July 25, falls on Sunday. The next year is 2021 but it’s worth waiting for because Catholic pilgrims entering the building through these doors – sometimes referred to Puerta del Perdon or Door of Pardon – will be granted a plenary indulgence from the Pope, a sort of short cut to heaven. Or maybe it was 44 virgins?
Still in Spain, a Semana Santa shot from Seville. Holy Week in Seville was fantastic. The city is beautiful, the weather in that season (pre-Easter) is as good as it gets in Europe and on top of that bizarre and spectacular religious processions backed by marching bands of different kinds simply blow your socks off. Must see!
This photo may give African-Americans the heeby-jeebies but of course these Nazareños are religious penitents punishing themselves for their sins, not KKK members on vacation. In fact those pointy hats look incredibly uncomfortable to wear for any time and people on parade are constantly holding/supporting the hood’s internal structure while hot wax dribbles onto their hands (tho’ these cissies are wearing gloves of course).
Loire Valley, France
The extraordinary hunting lodge of King François I, Chateau Chambord. I was so excited to find those cyclists suddenly taking selfies in front of the quite dull original composition. Another dimension is always welcome!
I happened to stumble across this newly married couple in ‘the garden of smashed mirrors’ at Chaumont Garden Festival. Some irony there?
I can’t speak for the château because I never entered it but I had an awesome few hours wandering the bizarre gardens in perfect weather. Wow!
Marseille, south France
Reaching for the sun in Marseille. Another surprise, this port city is one of Europe’s sunniest places and – near the coast at least – offers many attractions including fine new museums, a colourful old town, a couple of great churches and plenty of beaches. Downside? Crime? No, wind! The mistral regularly comes roaring down the Rhone Valley and randomly spoils the party!