Sunday, May 31, 2009

Now you see it...

I haven't taken much photos over the last couple of weeks so I've very much run out of new stuff to show. So as I always do when this happens I revert to my stock and look for pics that I've never shown. I've found some Cape Town pics that will keep me busy for the next couple of days and hopefully by then I will have something new to show.



Table Mountain seen on a clear day from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
I have posted this pic at some stage before, but without it I can't show the next one in this context.

Table Mountain as not seen on a cloudy day from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

The weather in Cape Town can change drastically from day to day and it is very possible to have a day like the one on the top one day and a day like the second one the next. Sometimes it even happens in one day. When you visit Cape Town for a couple of days and plan to visit Table Mountain, my advice is to go at the first opportunity because a second one may not present itself.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

London

After visiting Germany (here, here, here and here), we headed for London to take part in World Travel Market, the biggest travel trade show in the world. Of the five days spent in London, four consisted of non-stop work. On day 5 we were being picked up at 13:00 to go to the airport for our return flight, which gave me a morning to do some sightseeing. And I wasn't going to let the opportunity slip me by. I wasn't planning to miss much so I hopped on the rail at 7am that morning and headed for Tower Hill Station. From here my feet would have to do the work. I headed past the Tower of London and over Tower Bridge, glancing at the HMS Belfast as I went by it towards London Bridge. Crossing London Bridge I joined the throngs of people heading for work with coffee in one hand and my Big Bus Company tour map in the other. It had more detail than a conventional street map as well as pictures of the main buildings and attractions, so it was a huge help.

Suddenly St Pauls Cathedral rose up of the surrounds and loomed in front of me. And this just as the sun started to shine on it. Awesome sight... brief sight... and I moved on. From here it was a bit of a long trek towards Trafalgar Square where, after a couple more pictures, I veered off towards Piccadilly Circus. Halfway between the two a curio shop caught my eye. If I was on a dirt road I would have came to a stand still in a ball of dust. A couple of teaspoons, little plates and other bric 'n' brac later and I was on my way again.
After Piccadilli (why call it a circus if there are no clowns?) I changed direction again towards the river and royalty. Next stop, Buckingham Palace. There were no crowds and no changing of the guards. Oh well, no loss. I hear it's a bit of a boring affair, but I'm sure I did see the Queen peeking through the curtains in one of the upstairs windows checking out this incarnation of the comic book character Flash heading for Big Ben.


By the time I got to Westminster Abbey my feet was burning and I finally slowed down to an amble. The cathedral was like the shade of a tree on a warm day, Nelson Mandela's statue in Parliament Square was like a cool breeze blowing into my face, but the thing that was like that little plastic packets of water a runner gets every few kilometers was Big Ben. It was the one thing in London that I had to see in person and I wasn't disappointed. After buying a couple more curios I crossed the Westminster Bridge and caught a water taxi back towards Docklands and my waiting suitcase. The London Eye will have to wait for another visit.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hannover Old Town

During the Second World War 85% of Hannover was destroyed during the Allied bombings. This means that only a small part of historic Hannover was preserved. The historic part of Hannover is called the Old Town and was beautifully restored. To me these buildings are what I would call typical European (or at least German) buildings and I just loved the architecture, colours and specially the wood used in the structures.
The church in the background is the Lutheran Kreuzkirche and dates from 1333. The church also contains a tombstone with the oldest depiction of a family and dates from 1332. The narrow cobbled streets was another of the old European charms which caught my fancy.

In yesterday's post I showed a picture of the New Town Hall. The old Town Hall or Altes Rathaus is situated in the Old Town. The original walls of the old town hall originates from the mid 15th century. Of p[articular note are the pinnacle gable and clay mouldings of the building. The church on the left is the Market Church which was built in the 14th century.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hannover

The third and last city we visited in Germany was Hannover, capital of the province of Lower Saxony. Hannover has about 515 000 inhabitants and was documented for the first time in the 11th century. The city is one of the most important exhibition cities in the world and hosts many international exhibits every year.

This pic of The New Town Hall (Das neue Rathaus) was taken from my hotel room balcony. I just stood there every evening enjoying the view of this magnificent building and was lucky enough to see the inside of it just before we left. It was built between 1901 and 1913 and replaced the old town hall built in the 14th century.


The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle created the bright and trendy figures called "Nanas" They have become synonymous with Hannover and you fins all kinds of souvenirs and postcards featuring them.

The Herrenhauser Gardens is one of the big attractions of the city and covers 135 hectares. There are different sections to the gardens ranging from statues and fountains to English style landscapes, botanical collections and rare plants. Unfortunately we were there in late autumn and there wasn't much to the gardens, but they were still breath taking. I can't imagine what they would look like in spring and summer.
Tomorrow I will finish of with Germany in Hannover's old town area.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cologne (Küln)

Yesterday I posted on our visit to Wurzburg in Germany. Today I will touch on our stop in the city of Cologne (Küln). It was a bit of a wet visit so I didn't get much of an opportunity to take a lot of nice photos.

If there is one place to see when visiting Cologne, it is the Dom. What an absolutely awesome building. I have never seen anything like it. Because of the conditions non of my picture really did any justice to the building. Marcelle got to visit the city earlier in the week and posted some beautiful pictures of the Dom on her blog.


There were lots of other churches around and the area were we stayed as well. This one is the St Michael Catholic Church which wasn't very far from the hotel.

I loved the fact that the city, as well as both the other two cities we visited, had shopping areas where the roads were closed to cars and you only had pedestrians. It amazed me how many people were out strolling even though the weather was bad and it was drizzling. Back home in South Africa the streets would be deserted in weather like this. I loved the bakeries all over the German cities. I love bread and anything "bready" so being able to buy doughnuts and pretzels and all these German bread stuff all over the place just suited me very well, thank you.

The first time I passed this building I couldn't figure out what was on it. Only on my way back did I realise that it was an ice cream cone dropped upside down on to of the building. Curious.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wurzburg

Today I'm resuming my posts on Germany and over the next couple of days I will show the three cities I got to visit while visiting the country a while ago. The first is the city of Wurzburg which was my absolute favorite place out of the places we got to see in Germany.

The city of Wurtzburg with a history 1300 years old is situated on both sides of the River Main and has about 130 000 inhabitants. The Capital of Franconia, the city has a big number of awesome historical buildings in can be found amid huge parks and wine covered hills. This pic was taken from the Fortress Marienberg on the hill overlooking the old town section.


The Fortress Marienberg (where I took the pic featured in the Autumn Colours post the other day) can be found on the hill overlooking the city. The hill was originally fortified about 1000BC. The foundation of the fortress was laid in about 1200 and the fortress was rebuilt into a Renaissance palace in 1600. Being able to experience places with a history this old was one of the highlights of my trip.

The Residence was the Princebishops' palace and was built between 1720 and 1744. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is one of Europe's most outstanding palaces. Behind the palace are massive gardens with fountains and features. Unfortunately we were there in autumn and the gardens had lost their flair by then, but it wasn't very hard to imagine what it could look like in spring and summer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My new nephew

I am interrupting my posts on Germany to announce the birth of my Brother's baby yesterday. Baby Jacques Ryan was born at 16:00 on Sunday, 24 May 2009.

So here is the catch. Little Jacques Ryan decided to make his arrival known right in the middle of the stork party at 6 weeks premature... with dad 400 km away on business. My Boet got the call just as he was settling into his guest house in Mossel Bay and was only due back on Thursday. He jumped into his car and got to the hospital at 9 last night. 4 hours post birth.


Baby was born at 6 weeks prem and weighed 1,9 kilograms. He may have to spend the next couple of weeks in the incubator, but he is doing very well. All the pipes and tubes just make it look lots worse than it really is.

So here is Chaos Boy and Drama Princess' cousin's first close-up

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Autumn colours

I was looking through some of my older pictures and found myself looking through the pics I took in Germany on a work trip about a year and a half ago. I realised that I haven't posted any of them before, so I may just end up doing a bit of Germany over the next couple of days.

Seeing that we are in the mids of autumn (fall) with winter trying to bang the door down, I will start with some autumn pics I took in the town of Wurzburg. Wurzburg was my favorite of the places we got to go during the trip. Sitting on to of a hill overlooking the town is the Fortress Marienberg. First fortified a 1000 years ago, the foundation of the current fortress was laid in about 1200.
This was some kind of creeper covering a wall inside the fortress


We don't have scenes like this where I come from, at least not around Port Elizabeth

I had to get a close-up of the leaves on the ground. I just love the autumn colours

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Traditional drummer


During my visit to Tourism Indaba recently I photographed a drummer at the Lesedi Cultural Village stand playing. I have a thing for cultural drumming, so I stood listening for a while.

His outfit also intrigued me, specially the plume of ostrich feathers on his head.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Croc study

This Nile Crocodile was one of the characters we encountered at Bayworld last weekend. Or would it sound cooler if I started with: On my last expedition down the mighty Zambezi River we encountered this croc next to our camp just after sunrise. We barely escaped with our lives... but not before I snapped the following pics. Yeah, the last one sound much cooler.

Strike a pose (cool bit: He appeared stealthily out of the water...)


I can see you (cool bit: ... beady eye fixed on his intended prey - that's me...)

My Granma, what big teeth you've got (cool bit: ...teeth glistening in the morning sun...)

Open wide (cool bit: moments later he snapped... missing me by inches)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

City sunset

Sunset of the city of Durban
For more great pics from some of the most awesome blogging photographers around, go to Skywatch

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

For a while now I've been wanting to see if I can get the kids to play along and let me take photos pertaining to nursery rhymes, kids tales and what ever else comes to mind. Problem is I just never got around to it. On our visit to Bayworld the other day, there was this huge rubber frog in the Snake Park. After much persuasion, I got Drama Princess to kiss the frog for me for a scene from the Frog Prince and as its also know The Princess and the Frog. So this is my first one in the Tales and Rhymes series.
Seeing that Disney has a new animated movie coming out called The Princess and the Frog, I think I may get a couple of hits via Google for this one. *grin*

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marine Hall

The Marine Hall is another very interesting section in the Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld.

The main feature of the Marine Hall is the skeleton of the last Southern Right Whale to be harpooned in Algoa Bay. It hangs as a centre piece in the hall and along with the Algoasaurus in the Dinosaur hall are the two things that will always be synonymous with the museum for me.
The marine hall has a very extensive collection of life sized shark models along with loads of information on sharks, dolphins and whales, specially those found around Algoa Bay.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shipwreck canons

The Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld has a great collection of artifacts from shipwrecks found around Algoa Bay on show in the Ship Wreck Hall. The centre piece of the display is a number of canons and ship guns that has been recovered over the years.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dinosaur hall

We visited the Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld today in celebration of International Museum Day. I love museums. To me its like an exploration every time I enter one. I also have many fond memories of the PE Museum and the countless visits there when I was still small. Not much has changed over the years at the PE Museum, but I still get excited when I do get the chance to go and visit. Over the next few days I'll show off some of the pics I took. Today's feature is the Dinosaur Hall. It was the reason for me wanting to become an archaeologist when I was still in school and even though I never did, I still have an interest and a collection of fossils.
Checking out the Triceratops skull through the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus Rex

My favorite part of the Dinosaur Hall is the life size model of the Algoasuarus which lived right here in the Eastern Cape of South Africa

The model of a marine dinosaur which was also found in this area. When I was small I always found him to be a scary looking dude with his big open mouth.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pirates

On my visit to Durban this week we went to Upper Deck Restaurant in the Phantom Ship at uShaka Marine. The restaurant is in a ship and the theme is very nautical. Unfortunately it was evening and thus dark, so I couldn't really get good shots of the ship.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tourism Indaba 2009

I got back from Indaba 2009 yesterday afternoon totally exhausted. Unfortunately it was a hectic 6 days in Durban, so I didn't get to take many photo. Definitively not nearly what I would have wanted to take at the actual event.

Indaba is South Africa and Africa's biggest tourism trade show and is held in Durban annually. It is a massive event with exhibitors from all over South Africa as well as other mostly Southern African countries competing for the attention of the national and international tour operators, travel agents and media that attends the show. Exhibitors include destination marketing organisations, hotels and other accommodation establishments, transport and tour operators, game reserves, attractions and much more.


Indaba is hosted by South Africa Tourism in the Durban International Convention Centre and the Durban Exhibition Centre in the heart of Durban in KwaZulu Natal. Durban is a very popular coastal destination in South Africa although I'm not a very big fan of the city. I think Port Elizabeth is much cleaner, safer and less congested than Durban. But maybe that's just me.

I work for a destination marketing organisation who had a big stand at Indaba. We were extremely busy during the four days of exhibiting and as the coordinator of the stand and all the organisation's involvement in the show, I had my hands full the whole time to see that everything went smoothly. Here one of my colleagues is attending to some enquiries.

I have had people ask me if I blog mostly about travel because I work in the tourism industry. My answer is no. I work in the tourism industry because I have an absolute passion for travel and tourism and that is the reason I blog about it. Nothing to do with where I work. That is also the reason why I blog in the evenings and not during work hours.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sunrise

Tomorrow morning I am off to Durban for Indaba. Indaba is South Africa's premier tourism trade exhibition and one of the top travel shows in the world. It lasts till next Tuesday, so I will be back on Wednesday.
I don't get a lot of opportunities to do sunrises, so here is another one to shine on you till my next post.
For more great pictures from around the world, visit Skywatch.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

St Mary's Cemetery

The St Mary's Cemetery is probably the oldest formal cemetery in Port Elizabeth and can be found close to the city centre. It is situated near the mouth of the Baakens River on the banks of what used to be the fresh water lagoon after which Algoa Bay was named. I Googled the cemetery but didn't find any real information on it, which means that I will have to do some research on it to find out more.
I have passed the cemetery all my life and the other day went into it for the first time to have a closer look. Some of the graves date from the mid 1800's. I even found a grave that belong to one of the original British Settlers who came to Algoa Bay even before Port Elizabeth got its name. In some of the pics you can see the St Peter's Church ruins in the background which I've featured before.