Greece is the Word

I have been doing my Photo Locale of the Month feature (click here for the latest entry on the subject) for three-and-a-half years now, and sharing general travel memories via this blog since November, 2012. Yet somehow, I barely even mentioned anything about Greece, or the three wonderful weeks I spent there in 2009.

I took a gander through my Greece photo galleries – Athens, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Olympia, and Delphi (in that order) – and was delighted to “rediscover” the birthplace of olives and the Olympic games, of grape leaves and ouzo, of crumbling amphitheaters and restored Minoan palaces, and of azure Aegean waters and the stunning Samaria Gorge.

A few of the photos were of people, places, and experiences I had long forgotten about. Talking about “the American situation” with a stumblebum in an Athens park (who then asked me to buy him a drink). Getting lost on the way back to my hostel from Lykavitos Hill (where I had gone to watch the sunset). Taking a boat ride to hot springs off the coast of Santorini, only to learn that said springs were a half-mile swim from the boat and that I had to jump overboard to even attempt the trip (and to find that the springs were barely lukewarm, let along hot).

Greece doesn’t get as many tourists as other Mediterranean countries such as France, Italy, and Spain. According to the World Tourism Organization, even Turkey received more international tourists than Greece in 2016!

But while I love Paris, Florence, Barcelona, and Istanbul as much as the next person, there is something special about Greece. From its bustling cities to its sleepy villages to its pristine beaches to its craggy peaks, “Greece” is the word this summer.

Continue reading “Greece is the Word”

Botanical Gardens around the World

Last weekend I visited, for the first time, the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. The nursery-turned-gardens, sloping up a hillside southeast of downtown Knoxville, span 47 acres and offer views of the distant Great Smoky Mountains.

As botanical gardens go, these are by no means best-in-class, or even best-in-state. They have plenty of trees, but few flowers. The lone drinking fountain on the grounds was still not turned on for the season, even though temperatures were in the mid-80’s. The site’s much-photographed Big Red Adirondack Chair, pictured below, needed a coat of paint.

Still, it was free, the view was lovely, and I had the place more or less to myself. I would like to return in the spring, when the neighborhood’s pink dogwood trees are in flowery bloom. In the meantime, here, in alphabetical order, are a few of my favorite botanical gardens from around the world:

Continue reading “Botanical Gardens around the World”

People around the World: Europe

This third post in a series, following entries on Africa and Asia, takes us to Europe, which, with or without Russia and Turkey, is the sixth-largest continent in terms of geographic size and the third-largest in terms of population.

I hope you enjoy the photos below. Leave a comment about which picture is your favorite…and thanks!

Continue reading “People around the World: Europe”

Photo Locale of the Month – May 2018

A common theme of my monthly photo locale features is the concept of time. Namely, where has it gone? Of course, I haven’t traveled much these past few years, a reality that I hope to change as my salary grows.

With that in mind, it hardly seems possible that nine years have passed since my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, during which time I took a whirlwind “taster” trip to several countries in the region including Botswana, home of the unforgettable Okavango Delta, and South Africa, home of the granddaddy of game parks, Kruger National Park.

Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – May 2018”

People around the World: Asia

Last month’s feature, People around the World: Africa, was the first entry in a series of round-the-world portraits, some staged, some not, some intimate, some not. My goal: to show the world – and the people in it – at work and at play.

I have enjoyed poring through my photography archives, and smiled with delight upon rediscovering many of the pictures in last month’s gallery and in today’s as well.

Today, we visit Asia, the largest continent on earth!

Continue reading “People around the World: Asia”

Photo Locale of the Month – April 2018

Are you a desert rat? I don’t ask that question to be rude; it’s a sort of compliment, actually. Desert rats – the two-legged, humanoid variety, anyway – are my kind of people. These are people who prefer sunshine over rain, and dry heat over humidity.

If you consider yourself a desert rat, you might find yourself at home in the western United States, where places like Monument Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, White Sands National Monument, and the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve punctuate the parched landscape, making the desert more than just a vast expanse of sand.

Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – April 2018”

People around the World: Africa

Any self-respecting photographer will continuously try to better him/herself. Ways to do this include taking classes, buying manuals, upgrading equipment, and, quite simply, practicing. (That’s how you get to Carneghie Hall, man.)

One category of photography that I have wanted to become better at is photographing people. My travels are usually to see places, not people, but it so often is the people themselves that become the “attraction” that lingers longest in my memory.

I am starting a new feature – People around the World. Each installment will focus on a particular region of the globe. Geography notwithstanding, the recurring element of these pictures is the presence of people. Headshots? Not really. Close-ups? Sometimes. Action shots? Often. Staged? On occasion.

For today’s post, my first entry in the series, I’m sharing pictures that I took on my travels to Africa. Although I like each one of these pictures, some are better than others, and all of them could probably be better.

Thanks for stopping by!

Continue reading “People around the World: Africa”

Semana Santa in Guatemala

There are often days when I feel like shutting down my blog because I’ve told all the stories I have to tell. On the other hand, there are days when I stumble upon a picture or piece of writing from my blog, and that discovery ignites a whole ‘nother fuse of memories worth sharing.

Earlier this week, I came across my 2014 post Passion Runs High in Iztapalapa, one of my better entries from my time in Mexico City, and a fun read about the annual Good Friday Passion Play from CDMX’s Iztapalapa delegación. Give it a read and let me know what you think, okay?

But 2014 wasn’t the only time I got to take in the alternating solemnity and joy of Semana Santa (holy week). 2012 saw me spending Easter in El Salvador, and witnessing a procession of penitent worshippers literally march through the streets of San Salvador, and over alfombras, which are colorful sawdust carpets featuring images of peace. Just one year earlier, I spent several pre-Easter days in Andalucía, Spain, observing similar processions from afar in Granada and Sevilla (scheduled processions in Sevilla were rained out, a bummer considering that every hostel and hotel in the city raised its rates for the anticipated crowds).

The Semana Santa memory that lingers largest is the collective series of days I spent in Antigua, Guatemala, in March, 2005. Here, in the one-time capital of Guatemala, where earthquake-toppled churches nestle in the shadow of surrounding volcanoes, the entire community comes together each Semana Santa for a daily series of processions, alfombras, and church services leading to Resurrection, aka Easter Sunday. While not a believer myself, I have always been fascinated by religious rituals. Spending a week in Antigua and experiencing them firsthand was not disappointing.

Continue reading “Semana Santa in Guatemala”

Photo Locale of the Month – March 2018

Although this recent winter has been one of the stranger ones in memory, spring is right around the corner. While nights and early mornings are still quite cold, dogwood trees are in bloom and the rainfall has turned the rolling hills of East Tennessee into a verdant quilt of green. Meanwhile, summer is waning in the Southern Hemisphere, where January = July and June = December.

Some below-the-equator regions, however, such as Central Chile and Northern Argentina, enjoy a mild year-round climate, and you can visit cities like Santiago and Buenos Aires well into April and still enjoy what I call shorts-and-sandals weather. It was in March, 2011, in fact, when I found myself enjoying two warm, sunny days exploring downtown Buenos Aires. 

This obelisk, with eight lanes of traffic on each side of Avenida 9 de Julio (the widest street in the world, and named after Argentina’s Independence Day), is the defining symbol of Buenos Aires.

Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – March 2018”

A Civil Rights Lesson in Memphis

The last two weeks have been interesting in my world. I found myself quitting a job that was simply never going to meet its full potential in favor of what I hope will be a better career opportunity. In the short term, as these things go, the move is lateral, and it actually has a longer commute, but I hear nothing but good things about the place, so I will do everything I can to quell the cynical side of myself that – all too often – comes to the forefront.

I pride myself on being punctual, hard working, and loyal to any company that I work for, so changing jobs isn’t as easy or commonplace for me as it is for others. I do have a weird vibe about the fact that I left my last job without giving proper notice, but I simply didn’t have the chance to give a proper two weeks’ notice.

You see, I had to take a week for myself. This included catching up on errands, going for a hike, and visiting my sister, who as Loyal Readers know lives in Memphis. The last time I saw her down there was in Thanksgiving, 2016, just two months after our mother passed away.

Many of my blog introductions begin with the following sentiment, but it really is true: Where does the time go?

Continue reading “A Civil Rights Lesson in Memphis”