I enjoyed Salzburg – plenty to see and a great city for walking about. I probably didn’t get the best of it not being a classical music lover or enjoying fine (= expensive) dining. However there are a few city views that would warrant a return.
Away from the crowds and walking tours there are many quieter streets and walks in the centre of Ljubljana to indulge in a bit of street photography and to try and capture the look and feel of the city, even around the Triple Bridge when it isn’t so crowded..
I had no real expectations regarding Ljubljana having little knowledge of the city or indeed of Slovenia beyond the usual photos of Lake Bled. It was however one of the friendliest, relaxed, photogenic and enjoyable cities I’ve been to in Europe, and there seemed to something going on at every junction along the river.
The area around the Triple Bridge can attract the artists and the crowds.
There is a statue of France Prešeren, Slovenia’s greatest literary figure near the bridge which is a general meeting point – and the starting point for the excellent Free Walking Tour.
And in direct line of sight from Prešeren is a little wall statue of his unrequited love and subject of many a poem, Julija Primic.
And of course if you’re hungry there’s many food vendors.
It’s not all about the lake. Bled has some good walks and viewpoints around the lake, although it is prone to changes to the weather. I never made it up to the castle – it was wet and the light was going, but there it was nice to see the area away from the crowds at the lake.
It’s on many bucket lists of places to visit and Lake Bled didn’t disappoint. From Ljubljana you can get a direct bus or the more civilised option – the train to Lesce Bled and a short bus ride to the Lake.
Once at the Lake – the customary things to do are take a walk along the lakeside, hire a rowing boat, head over to the island and back, and then take a walk up to the castle. All very predictable no doubt but no less of an experience.
I didn’t get the usual shot from the high vantage point of the lake and island – the day became a bit overcast, wet with some bright spells and the Church of the Assumption on the lake was covered in scaffolding for renovation work. As it’s such a great place to visit, sometimes the photos have to take second place to the experience, even with some Fomapan100, Rpx25 and a wee bit of digital on the Fuji X20.
Having rowed to the island, there was a wedding to crash – complete with piper.
With the Ricoh loaded with the extremely slow Rollei RPX25, I managed to get a shallow depth of field in a pre-rain sunny spell – and hardly any grain.
After a few hours on the lake and island, it was time to head inland and up.
Giudecca is the longish island that lies opposite the main island of Venice and you can get to it by vaporetto from St Marks. One of the main attractions is that it’s relatively quite and peaceful. Being mainly residential, most tourists don’t go across, but it’s a delightful place with some magnificent churches, views and cafes. En route the vaporetto also stops at San Giorgio Maggiore, the little island with the landmark church everyone photographs from across on the main island.
This was my third visit to Venice but my first staying on the island – near the Arsenale (1-0 to the..) – as opposed to being a day tripper from elsewhere. Venice is a crazy illogical place, has a love/hate relationship with tourists but I love it totally.
It can be an expensive place to visit. Eating and having a coffee on St Mark’s would take up a two-day food budget for me and a Gondola ride starts at around €70. I prefer the Vaporetto saver tickets and just photograph the Gondolas.
Photos all taken on the Ricoh KR-5 and Oriental Seagull 100.
Rome was everything I thought it would be – magnificent in its ruins, churches, history and people. I’ll go again, maybe in autumn when the heat isn’t as crazy. The sites, streets, piazzas are all undeniably photogenic and maybe in less tourist-heavy seasons, I’d take a more measured photowalk round the numerous easily walked. Here’s some random shots of Rome. Shots taken on the Ricoh KR5 and Lomography Earl grey 100 film.
That’s Latin for Vatican City, the Catholic Church’s city state in downtown Rome. Now I’m not one for religion of any shape nor of certain religions’ supra-earthly claim of superiority over actually-very-earthly things. The Catholic Church in particular has been on dodgy ground over many things in the last two millennia yet it still has unfathomable status in the lives of people and nations around the world. And at the Vatican, it has established an undeniably photogenic tourist trap.
St. Peters Basilica – and the Square – is magnificent. From every angle.
It’s not all Catholic mysticism, history and solemnity. Vatican as a city state has to function like cities. There’s a post office.
And everything for the Tourists, of course.
Now – a bit of a personal beef. The security at the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica wouldn’t let me in. Why? I was wearing the wrong shorts. Now they were waving by all sorts of folks in summer attire – male/female, shorts, skirts all at several levels of skimipness. My pale, inoffensive yet atheist legs however were banned. I tried discussing the logic of this in light of the appearance of numerous others, I channelled a bit of Wallace and Gromit referencing The Wrong Trousers but to no avail. So I hung around for a few minutes and mingled in with a tour group to gain access. There’s also a ban on photography which is almost univerally ignored. Including myself with the phone.
There is of course the other side of the Catholic Church and its history that isn’t on full view. A rather innocuous looking building is the Palace of the Holy Office. Or.. The Inquisition.
And of course there is the history of the highly dodgy Popes. I’m thinking the Borgias and in particular Pope Alexander VI, a gent who made Tony Soprano look like Winnie the Pooh. But his tomb is not on view in St Peter’s with the numerous other Popes’. He can however be found about 15 minutes away, in the Spanish national church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli. But I tracked him down, and there was no issue with the legs. Maybe he wasn’t that bad a Pope.
The Vatican and Catholic presence in Rome is great to visit and is visually and historically fascinating. But I find the overblown sense of self-aggrandizement a bit grating given the mixed history and lust for power that the Vatican represents.
A few practicalities – don’t go early, everyone does this to beat the crowds so there are very large crowds. Mid afternoon is a bit less frenetic. And make sure leg-wear goes to below the knees.
Camera – Ricoh KR-5 / Oriental Seagull 100 and the Huawei P9