July 18, 2018

ONE NIGHT IN PIAZZA SAN PIETRO

The large square right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is the first place that people find themselves in when they come visiting. Right in the center stands an obelisk topped by a Cross that came all the way from Egypt which was erected in the 16th century. Previous to that, it stood in the middle of Nero’s Circus where brutal games were held and early Christians were executed. Ironic, isn’t it? Bernini designed the square including the curving colonnaded arcade that had four columns deep above which were sculptures of different saints standing on the roof. Pope Alexander II had it designed in such a way…

June 24, 2018

MONACO: C’EST LA MAGNIFIQUE!

Hemmed in by mountains on one side and the sea on the other side, this small Principality that is only 2 sq. km. has thrived well and prospered in what has become a playground for the rich. Just look at all the multimillion-dollar yachts berthed in the harbor! Even its architecture has a florid display of decorative elements ranging from colorful turrets in the balcony to sinuous caryatids, blending into a picturesque fantasy of luxury that is a throwback to the 19th century Belle Epoque (Beautiful Era). We spent half a day here as part of the tour package from our cruise ship which docked in nearby Cannes. There was…

June 21, 2018

LITTLE LIECHTENSTEIN

On the 6-hour drive from Fussen, Germany to Zermatt, Switzerland, we passed thru this small Principality that’s the 4th smallest country in Europe (after the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino). It is only 160 sq. km. with a population of 37,000 people and has an alpine topography with rocky peaks and forested valleys. We crossed the Rhine at the German border and found ourselves inside Liechtenstein and in a few minutes, in Vaduz, the capital whose city center was made up of a main street with some shops and building offices. Further down were a couple of Museums and the cathedral. We had a brief pitstop to load gas and…

June 17, 2018

THE GREAT WALL

Everyone knows the Great Wall of China but not everyone is aware about its length. There are many differing accounts because it is built from different materials – some are trenches and some are just earthen mounds though majority of it (about 6,250 kms.) is in brick and mortar. As per the latest survey, the Wall runs through 8,850 kms. and many parts of them are slowly being pilfered to be used for local building material. Although started in 202 BC by the first Chinese Emperor, little of that remains and the one we see today was rebuilt and enhanced in the 13th-16th centuries by different dynasties to keep the…

June 14, 2018

PARIS LA NUIT

Once in Paris, I had an early morning flight and couldn’t sleep. So I took my trusty Nikon and tripod for a long walk beside the Seine and ended up with these….