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Entries about landscapes

Korea Grand Finale

sunny 64 °F

With only one day left, I decided to head out of town on a train and take a look at the countryside. I headed for a popular tourist destination called Nami Island, which styles itself as the Nami Republic. I ran into a couple of very nice people from Singapore on the train going out and we spent the day together taking pictures of the leaves and each other. By pure luck, we were there near the very peak of color and so I went nuts taking pictures. Here are a bunch....
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We ended the visit with a meal of grilled chicken and tofu and 'hangover soup' - which in this version is a dried fish soup with an egg added.

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What a great end to a great visit to Korea! On to Perth tomorrow!

Posted by tdeits 20:47 Archived in South Korea Tagged landscapes trees food scenery island korea foliage soup nami hangover Comments (0)

Aegina and the temple of Aphaia

sunny 71 °F

On the advice of the helpful travel agent at Blue and White Travel in Piraeus, I took off on one of the many ferries and cruise ships crowding Piraeus harbor in the morning.
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As we left the harbor, I spotted this yacht at dock. Googling it up, I discovered that it is the Topaz which is the world's largest mega yacht. Apparently it cost $500 million to construct. Egad. Later we passed a rather better looking boat.

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It took about an hour and a half to get to Aegina harbor which is quite pretty and lined along the shore with tourist restaurants and shops. The harbor is full of charming small fishing boats that are in active use.

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The major attraction on the island is the Temple of Aphaia. It's some distance from the harbor and I decided to use it as an excuse for a stroll. I bought a bag of pistachios (a major product on the island) from a nice guy who gave me directions - turn left at the stadium and just keep going. He thought I was nuts (ha). I also bought some mandarin oranges and with my bottle of water I set out. The first thing to say about the walk was that the weather was unbelievably perfect. A real Mediterranean climate, mildly warm, low humidity, brilliant blue sky and a very light breeze - one of the best weather days I have had anywhere. Here's a look back towards town - quite a bit of climbing on this walk. I also passed this perfect little Mediterranean house with pistachio trees in the front yard.

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It just kept getting prettier as I walked. After a while my first destination came into view, the church of Agios Nektarios.

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The church is quite new, less than 20 years old. It was built to honor Fr. Nektarios who, after what appears to have been a somewhat tumultuous career in the Orthodox church, retired to Aegina and ministered to the locals.

The interior is under renovation (leaky roof; what church doesn't have one?) but did get a nice picture of the altar and the charming mosaic map of the islands on the floor in front of the altar.

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There was also a lovely domed chamber containing the remains of Fr. Nektarios (miracles have been attributed to him, but I don't know if he has been canonized) and another beautiful altar and mural.

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After this break, it was back on the road (it's about a 7 mile trip). More gorgeous scenery and, finally, a glimpse of the temple.

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I reached the bottom of the last climb to the temple and a car pulled over. A very nice lady, Lisa, who is a sport teacher on the island had pulled over and offered me a lift up the hill to the temple. Maybe she was motivated by the fact that by this point I was crawling on my hands and knees and weeping :) . Whatever the reason, she zipped me to the top of the hill and even took me a short way down the other side to get a view of the other side of the island, which looked fabulous.

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The temple itself was remarkable. It has suffered far less damage than other temples owing to its isolation and I was also the only visitor that afternoon. Here are a couple of pictures of the temple, one when I first arrived and one later near sunset.

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Of course, the view from the hilltop was also spectacular.

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Lisa had encouraged me to consider staying overnight on that side of the island and I was tempted. I decided to walk into the town on the other side of the hill and see I could find a place to stay. I arrived after dark and the entire town had apparently closed for the season. I found one open restaurant and one supermarket - as far as I could tell all the other restaurants and all the hotels were closed. Fortunately, I had a number for a taxi service and so I bailed and called a taxi for the ride back to the harbor to make it in time for the last ferry back to Pireaus.

I made it, rested on board and grabbed a sandwich for dinner in Piraeus before going back to my apartment - what a remarkable introduction to the true Mediterranean experience.

Posted by tdeits 02:28 Archived in Greece Tagged landscapes temples view scenery island weather aegina aphaia Comments (0)

Death Valley and Desert Southwest wildflowers

March, 2016

sunny 78 °F

I was in Southern California visiting friends when I found I had a few days to spare, so I took advantage of the opportunity and roamed around the desert Southwest, primarily motivated by the fact that Death Valley was experiencing what is called a 'superbloom' - a combination of rainfall and temperature that promotes exceptional wildflower germination and blooming. Superblooms happen roughly every decade, so it sounded like the right time to go.

I went with a friend to Anza Borrego State Park for my first stop. It's a pleasant drive from San Diego that takes you down quiet highways and offers an opportunity for a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of pie in Julian. We visited the visitor's center and were encouraged to take a trail nearby where both flowers and bighorn sheep (possibly including some babies) might be seen. Well, we didn't see any babies but we did encounter a quite placid group of male bighorn dining by the side of the trail, happy to be photographic subjects.

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Here are a few flowers found in Anza Borrego - I will try and give common names when I have a decent guess from flower guides.

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This is (probably) Indigo bush and desert sunflower

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Desert paintbrush

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Brittlebush

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Beavertail cactus

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Bighorn sheep stalking a tourist (and ocotillo)

I headed on solo to Death Valley. Whether I was actually there during the official superbloom or perhaps a bit afterwards (as the Park Service website stated), there were still a whole lot of flowers. My best luck in finding interesting blooms was to park by the side of the road and hike maybe a quarter mile up a side canyon, looking for interesting items. The weather was perfect - maybe 70's at the top of the valley and about 90 at the bottom. For starters, here's a picture of the valley floor from Dante's View.

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I was amused by this meandering rivulet on the valley floor

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When I got to the bottom, near Furnace Creek, it's hard to call what I say anything less than a superbloom. The valley floor was covered in blossoms of the Desert Gold plant. Here are pictures from a couple of locations northwest of Furnace Creek, along highway 190.

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And here are pictures from my wanderings in the hills above Death Valley

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Foothill deervetch

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Desert sunflower and wooly daisy

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Orange lichen

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Gold poppy and desert filaree

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Bigelow's monkeyflower

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and something purple....

I wandered on south and dropped into Phoenix to watch the Giants whip the Padres....

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then headed south to Tucson where I visited Kitt Peak Observatory and found some very nice wildflowers growing along the highway

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Desertbells

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Chia and California golden poppies

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Poppies and something pink

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Fairyduster

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Something orange (Jewelweed - thanks, Mary!)

I spent an afternoon in Saguaro National Park as well - very cool place.

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On my way out of the park I took this sunset picture which seems to be a good choice to end this brief entry.

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Posted by tdeits 20:27 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes death_valley wildflowers phoenix tuscon anza_borrego spring_training Comments (0)

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