Hilton Head Island – the “low country” home of the famous movie stars, vacation retreat of U.S. Presidents – but I shall always remember it as the place where the police tried to arrest me for driving a Honda in a neighborhood where there are only supposed to be Mercedes.
This has happened to me now twice: in HH, and in the Hamptons on Long Island – an occupational hazard of having friends who number among the mega-wealthy!
I’ve often wondered when and how historical military structures transition from things of war to things of tourism. Maybe the border between Pakistan and India, or between North and South Korea, are examples of this today? Still military in nature, but increasingly visited by tourists.
At any rate, the Castlegrande in Bellinzona has long since passed over into the tourist realm, as the grassy ramparts below show.
Or is it, fighting fires with Unix? At any rate, I spotted this Unix fire extinguisher hanging on a wall in a café in Andorra, one of the world’s tiniest countries, and Europe’s highest capital city, locked high in the Pyrenee’s mountains between Spain and France.
Twice per week, that is. Each garbage bin is much, much bigger than you’ll find anywhere in Europe. The contents of the bin are not regulated by law; anything from old boxes to old batteries to old bananas is ok. And the driver stays in the air conditioned cab and operates the controls remotely.
One reason I love India so much: India provides an amazing glimpse into the history of Europe.
Shown here are the Dhobi Ghats, or clothes washing area, of Mumbai. What 99.99% of most tourists don’t realize is that Europe had these places, too, and you can find a picture of one in my recent blog about Petite-France. Today, the washing area in Petite-France is covered in flowers and lined with street cafés; but a few hundred years ago, clothes were washed in segments along the river: the clothes for the rich people upstream, and the clothes for the lesser privileged downstream. So what you see above is likely much cleaner and nicer than what it would have looked like in France!
My biggest gripe: Europe evolved slowly, and these old places were slowly transformed and retained. In India as in the U.S., the high-speed of big urbanization means that interesting cultural places (such as the Dhobi Ghats) are often developed right out of existence.
OK, probably not. This is a photograph of the convention center in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria – but it bears an eerie resemblance to “the shot” of the Taj Mahal, which I photographed here. I wonder if the architects were aware of this, or if it is just coincidence?
It’s nothing special, but this photo of the sun radiating off the white skyscrapers in Sofia, Bulgaria is one of my favorites. You’ll have to zoom the picture to see the effect.
I’m taking this photograph from the posh Dragalevtsi neighborhood at the foot of the Vitosha mountain. Looking north, those are the Balkan mountains off in the distance.
Located in Alsace just north of Strasbourg, and even in the pouring rain as shown above, Haguenau is a pretty village where you won’t find many tourists. There is a terrific old church dating back to the 1200’s, and the village itself is part of the Villes et Villages Fleuries competition, dating back to 1959, in which each village tries to out-flower and out-green each of its neighbors.
During my first trip to Dehli, in the middle of the hot summer, an auto rickshaw driver was surprisingly honest with me: he asked if he could drive me to a store for tourists, because he would receive a 100 Rs “commission” from the owners for each tourist he delivered there. It was the “off season,” he said, and he needed the extra money for his family.
I have NEVER seen such honesty and openness from an auto wallah before!
So I made a deal with him: he would drive me to as many of these tourists stores as he could: I’d shop for a few minutes then buy nothing and leave, he’d collect 100 Rs from each store we visited — and at the end of the day, we would split the proceeds 50%/50%.
After a few hours we hit nearly 15 different stores, my voice was hoarse from 15 repetitions of the question “Do you have any little paper maché elephants made in Kashmir?” and his pockets were full of money! Because I didn’t need the money but wanted the fun, I then told him he could keep it all, because he was so honest and open.
He was really happy with this, and we spent another 2 hours in which he took me on the best auto tour of Dehli anyone is ever likely to get, even stopping to drink tea with his other auto wallah friends near this great big stone arch-thing.
Motto: The people who want to take advantage of you can often turn out to be very nice people – and sometimes you can have a lot of fun by turning the tables and taking advantage of the system itself!
You’re not likely to find any native Swiss or Lucernians on this bridge – only tourists.
Continuing Part 1 of the series, this is the Rheinbrücke Konstanz (or Rhein Bridge at Constance). Today nobody gives this bridge much thought – but hundreds of years ago, after you paid a sizable toll, this would have been your gateway from a dangerous, lawless outside to the safe and Disney-Land-like city of Konstanz.
The armies of tourists that descend upon Konstanz rarely if ever cross or even see this bridge, much less the best part: a hidden alleyway underneath the far side of the bridge (just visible in the top picture), where there is a collection of stunning graffiti artwork painted on the walls.
This is a different view of the island in a recent blog post, but taken from a different angle. An interesting bit of trivia is that the various bridges (only one is shown here) are known as the pont couverts (which is French for “covered bridge”), even though the covering has been gone for quite some time.
I don’t want to violate any copyrights or trademarks, but if you want to see a really impressive set of photographs of this area, just click here.