Hol18: A funny thing happened on the way…

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Forum Romanum (Roman Forum)

Any trip to Rome should really include some Roman sites – as in ancient Rome.  There are numerous sites across the city, but as it was my first trip to Rome the easiest thing to do was the Forum and Colosseum.  Oh, and a quick travel tip – go early (obvious) and buy your combined ticket to both at the Forum entrance – everyone seems to queue at the Colosseum for a ticket, with your pre-bought ticket you can just walk smugly by.
For photography I had the sturdy Ricoh Kr-5 with a roll of Oriental Seagull 100.  After one shot, it was obvious that the Ricoh’s batteries were done – I’d no metering so it was Sunny 16.  And as it was very, very sunny, basically F16 at 1/125 or 1/250 for toning it down a bit.

The forum was at the heart of ancient rome – market places, temples, government buildings, courts – if it was happening in Rome, it happened here.  The remains date from around the 7th century BC to around the 3rd century AD.  The sense of history and place is amazing and more than I’m capable of describing, but for a tourist with a camera it’s a delight to take a slow walk around the ruins and try and capture some essence of the place.  Even on a 40 year old camera with a dodgy meter.

 

Rome Forum 08
view from the hill
Rome Forum 09
a column..
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Temple of Vesta (home of the Vestal virgins, Procul Harum fans..)

Rome Forum 02

Rome Forum 12
the obligatory peace sign pose

Rome Forum 05

Rome Forum 07
fountain

The Forum is well worth a visit, and actually makes for a much nicer photo walk than the Colosseum – which isn’t too shabby either.

HOL18: No Place Like Rome 2

Romans  – the current ones, not the ancients – are more often than not a stylish lot as are many of the tourists, at least not the sweaty football shirt-wearing middle-aged Irish ones.    And like Paris, it’s easy to snap a more flattering street shot when you’re in such beautiful and iconic surroundings.

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Just like the banks of the Seine

 

Rome busker
Roman Busker – I suspect more aged than his youthful demanour
rome cafe
Roman cafe – bloke inside
Rome, Girl in a cafe
roman cafe – girl outside
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Capturing the magnificence of the Trevi Fountain
rome fountain 1
Drinking water freely available

Photos shot on Ricoh KR5 with Oriental Seagull 100

Revolution! – Arbour Hill

A century on from the decade when Ireland began the final struggle to gain independance from Britsh rule, a visitor to Dublin will see memorials, museums, experiences and physical reminders of events that have shaped the Ireland of today.  Whatever your take on this chapter of British and Irish history, it’s a rewarding experience to breathe in the history and come to your own conclusions.  The  events from 1916 through to independance are marked throughout the city – the civil war not so much, but we are still a few years from this centenary.

A good starting point is the Arbour Hill cemetery.  A former British military cemetery, it’s also the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, you can get the history on sites like Heritage Ireland.

Arbour Hill
Sacred Heart Church, Arbour Hill

While the likes of Kilmainham Gaol, the cemetery at Glasnevin and the GPO Museum are always busy with fully booked guided tours, Arbour Hill is usually deserted.  There’s no entrance fee, no guides (except an occasional free talk at the weekend) and no shop.  Once you pass the church you’re into a fairly staid and unremarkable military cemetery.  Arbour Hill

Then towards the back, there’s the reason Arbour Hill gets visitors.  The executed leaders of the Rising were unceremoniously buried at a British military cemetery seemingly to avoid the martyrdom and pilgrimages that might stoke further unrest.  History of course had other plans for Ireland, and naturally subsequent Irish governments have developed the grave as a remembrance site.

 

Arbour Hill
Grave of the 1916 executed leaders
Arbour Hill
The text of the Proclamation of Independence in English and Irish

Surrounding the grave site are stones inscribed with the names of those buried – in English and Irish script.  Thomas Clarke, the old man of the Rising, had a floral tribute marking his stone.

Arbour Hill tom clarke

Arbour Hill tom clarke irish
The names in Irish

 

One of the more fascinating characters of the Rising was James Connolly, a Scot of Irish descent, a former Britsh soldier, trade unionist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army.

Arbour Hill Connoly
Connolly marked by the Starry Plough
Arbour Hill
View from the 1916 memorial


Arbour Hill
The 1916 memorial

Arbour Hill is located a bit away from Dublin’s main tourist sites, on a quiet street at the rear of the Collins Barracks Museum.  It is however worth a visit if you’re doing some revolution tourism –  a site of great signifigance in Irish history and you’ve plenty of further options for the tourguides, multimedia displays and souvenir shops.

Photos were taken on a robust (heavy) Hanimex 35SL (a rebadged Chinon CS) a Pallas 35mm lens (never heard of them) using Lomography Earl Grey 100 film.

 

Osaka

Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own.  It is however clean, safe, friendly  – and has a Universal Studios park.  I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.

A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.

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Shinsaibashi shopping street, Osaka

There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.

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Downtown Osaka, seafood restaurant.  Crab on the menu.
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Downtown Osaka, Dotobori Canal

One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.

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Osaka Castle
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View of the city from Osaka castle
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Osaka Castle gardens
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Osaka Castle gardens

Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.

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Hogsmeade, Japan (snow not real)
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Hogsmeade staff (Owl not real)

Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown.  The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry

 

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Out in the suburbs

And of course in  Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores.  Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.

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just over a tenner for a three-pack of Acros

Kit:  Nikon F60 / Kentmere 100 and the Huawei P9

 

Tokyo: Asakusa

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is a real tourist trap, traditionally a ‘pleasure quarter’ – we don’t have many of those in NI.. – it’s a great day trip for the temple and the market.

Photographically I arrived with an  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100 which had a broken meter so was shooting manually on 1/40th – and a Nikon F60 loaded with Tri-X.  On probably the brightest sunniest day of the year.  Probably a case for digital..

Anyway  – the Sensoji temple

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

A Chōzuya,  for pre-worship purification

asakusa temple
Chōzuya.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X

Then for shopping, there is the Nakamise arcade area.

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Entrance to Nakamise, Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Posing in kimonos while shopping.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X 
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Souvenirs.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

It’s a smallish area but you can still be sold the guided tours

asakusa seller
Tour guide. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
asakusa parade
Random music parade.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Kimomos and umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the kimonos. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
asakusa arcadeshopping
Quieter moment.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
asakusa arcade
Covered arcade. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Information.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

The magic of travel is that at home two of the least likely things I would do would be worship and shop. With or without the camera.

Tokyo: Shinjuku and Ginza

It’s busy…acros_tokyo_shinjuku_shopping

Compared to Northern Ireland, Tokyo is an assault on the senses – the crowds, the skyline, the neon – and I love it. Another major difference is the abundance of camera stores and the availability of second hand kit and film. I stocked up on Fuji Acros 35mm – at about 60% of the UK price. (as news arrives of its imminent disappearance..)

Shinjuku and Ginza are districts that don’t seem to stop and are probably most like the image many people have of Tokyo before visiting.  There’s the architecture…

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Curvy Tokyo
acros tokyo ginza scene
braided Tokyo

The taxis are classy looking 80’s styled Toyotas. They are however bloody expensive, so it was exterior shots only.

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Tokyo Taxis, Ginza

There are many eating options – local as well as global burgers

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stand up for the sushi, Shinjuku

And claw grabbing is a local pastime..

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restocking the minions

Of course, at some point Godzilla was going to make an appearance

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Cinema and Godzilla, Shinjuku

Kit was Fuji Acros 100 and the ever reliable Nikon F60.

The Home of GAA

Croke Park, Dublin

For those born into a particular community in Northern Ireland, one tends to follow a certain ‘conditioning’ in what’s ‘ours’ and what’s ‘theirs’. If the community is the British facing one, then in my experience there’s a lot to miss out on during one’s formative years and beyond.

One large cultural gap in my life experience was that of the world of Gaelic sports – the GAA and its components of football, hurling and camogie. Thankfully that has been rectified and I enjoy going to a gaelic football or hurling game almost as much as going to a (proper) football match.  (‘Soccer’ is not a word I care for…)

A must-see on any visit to Dublin is a guided tour of Croke Park and the GAA museum.  The sport itself is dynamic, athletic and with an admirable amateur ethos at its core –  and a history and culture inextricably linked with the evolution of the Irish state.

I took a visit out of season with a roll of Tri-X loaded in that neglected design icon of the 1980s, the Canon T70.

Croke Park, Dublin
St Joseph’s Avenue, Dublin – arriving at Croke Park
Croke Park, Dublin
the other Gaelic sport
Croke Park, Dublin
Welcome to Croke Park

The GAA has a presence throughout Irish society where the sports are at the heart of community.  The role of the clubs can be seen throughout the ground and museum.

Croke Park, Dublin
the county clubs

Michael Cusack, the GAA founder – marked by statue and stand.

Croke Park, Dublin
Michael Cusack, founder of the GAA

Hill 16  – once named Hill 60 based on an Irish regiment of the British Army – renamed to reflect the legacy of 1916.   No  large stand at this end – it’s in a residential area after all.

Croke Park, Dublin
Hill 16

Croke Park holds over 82,000  It’s an Irish Nou Camp

Croke Park, Dublin
the Davin stand meets the Hogan stand
Croke Park, Dublin
The Iconic County Shirts – colour slide film may have been better

The museum itself is one of the best presented sports museums I’ve visited.

Croke Park, Dublin
Museum entrance
Croke Park, Dublin
GAA Museum
Croke Park, Dublin
from the Hall of Fame to Government.  Former Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch

Many stadia and clubs have tours and a museum although perhaps only Nou Camp in Barcelona  compares with Croke Park in having a historical context and cultural significance beyond the sport itself.

Croke Park, Dublin
Replica trophies for the selfies – Hogan stand
Croke Park, Dublin
that was Croke Park