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.

 

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

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the obligatory peace sign pose

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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

 

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

Photos shot on Ricoh KR5 with Oriental Seagull 100

HOL18: No Place Like Rome 1

When you get to a certain age, holidays should be a time for rest and relaxation. So this summer I decided to backpack from Rome to Munich over 3 weeks with an old film camera.  The robust Ricoh KR5 with a few K-mount lenses was the kit of choice with a Vivitar V3000 body as backup although this became quickly irrelevant when the back of the Vivtar fell off in transit.  

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I did have a digital option – a Fuji X20 compact and a Huawei phone – but the aim was to capture the holiday on monochrome film and with no specific photographic objective in mind other than always having the camera with me.  So first stop was a few days in Rome.  While with some cities it’s often a struggle to convey a visual identity, Rome has no such problems exuding a certain cool.  And on every street, you’ll find scooters – Vespas.

 

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Classical building and a Vespa
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Vespa.  One of many.
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I love a wee European kiosk.  And a Vespa
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Woman on a scooter admiring other scooters.

It’s worth mentioning that the traffic in Rome is bloody awful and this pale middle-aged northern European would look ridiculous wobbling around the Roman vias with a well reduced life expectancy.  Unlike the natives, however who have a natural born ability to safely navigate the eternal city while remaining the smartest looking people in Europe.

Photos shot on the Ricoh KR5 on Oriental Seagull 100.

 

Revolution! Michael Collins

Walk around any of the main Dublin tourist areas and you’ll see 1916.  The major exhibitions/tours at the National Museum and Kilmainham, the GPO and its exhibition, murals and pubs with photos covering their frontages and prominent places named after the leaders – eg Pearse, Connolly and Heuston stations to name a few.  Over recent decades and particularly around the centenary in 2016, the Easter Rising has been elevated to the pivotal event in Irish history leading to independence and the establishment of the Republic.  Less visible, however is the legacy of the War of Independence from 1919-21 and the subsequent civil war between Pro and Anti treaty forces.

Central to this was Michael Collins – holder of various government posts in the revolutionary republic but effectively the mastermind in the guerrilla war against the British and signatory to the treaty establishing the Free State. He is probably the leading figure in modern Irish history yet perhaps due to the treaty and it’s aftermath and his assassination by anti-treaty forces, his presence around the capital city is a bit muted.

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Michael Collins. (Canon T50/Kentmere 400)

There’s no statue or memorial other than this less than flattering bust in Merrion Square alongside Oscar Wilde and Bernardo O’Higgins.

The old British Army barracks was renamed Collins Barracks in 1922 and now houses a main site of the National Museum, but there’s little of his presence at the site other than his name.

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Collins Barracks, National Museum.   (Olympus OM20/Kodak Tri-X)

There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.

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Richard Mulcahy bust, Collin Barracks.  (Olympus OM20/Tri-X)

Ironically, the most prominent site relating to Michael Collins is his grave at the Glasnevin Cemetery just outside the city centre. Vying for the centre of attention among the great and good (and ordinary) of Irish history, Collins’ grave is one of the most visited and tended-to at Glasnevin.

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Michael Collins grave – English script

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Michael Collins grave – Irish script


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Michael Collins grave and headstone, Glasnevin

(all shot on Olympus OM20 and Ilford HP5)
As Ireland prepares for its next round of centenary commemorations, perhaps Michael Collins will be able to find centre stage in the country’s capital.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Connolly marked by the Starry Plough

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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.

 

Ueno Park, that’s where I’ve been

what did you do there? I took photos

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Kaneiji Temple, Ueno Park

Ueno Park is a large green space in central Tokyo and a great place for a walk around the city with the camera. There’s temples, museum, a zoo, entertainment – including Taiko drumming blogged here, flea markets and plenty of people. It’s also beside a large shopping area, the Ameyoko Shopping Street so you can easily fill a day here. And like Tokyo there’s any number of JR and metro stations in the area to get here.

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Another Kimono photo

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Ameyoko shopping

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Oul lads, Ameyoko

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Blind among the flowers

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Oul lad in the park

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Strange cabbage-like plants, Ueno Park

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Flea Market bargains

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Seller of weird shit, Ueno Park

All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X

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