Saturday, October 31, 2009

Malaga, Spain

Malaga is a port city on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. It is an old city with both Roman ruins and a Moorish fortress. Below are photos of the Moors castle.

This photo is of an arched doorway in the castle.

This is a living statue. He wants you to give him money. I was able to take this photo without him being aware of me. If they see you photographing them and not giving them money sometimes they get aggressive.

An example of the aggressiveness is this bird man shown below. Unfortunately he saw me photographing and not paying and tried to grab Roberta. No harm done, but very unpleasant.

Below is a photo of a window in a building in the old quarter and a door from another building in the same part of town.

This is an old Roman theatre. It's in quite good shape, and located just below the castle.

No one had more fun than this baby.

Malaga would be a good place to stay in Andalusia. From Malaga you can make day trips or longer if desired to the white villages, Grenada, Seville, Gibraltar and other places.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Egypt...My Day With a Group of Greedily Grazing Graying Geezers Gazing at Giza...With Thanks to Uncle Alan

In order to visit the Pyramids, we took an excursion by bus from the wharf at Alexandria to Giza and Saqqara; the trip took 3+ hours. It was an interesting trip because it was all new and because of Egyptian drivers. Our guide warned us about this and she was right. Traffic laws and lines painted on the road are viewed as general guidelines only. I think the white lines are used for aiming guides. Pedestrians appear to be fair game. Anyway we made it there and back and saw lots of interesting things.

Below is a photograph of two cone like towers with holes in them. These are pigeon towers. Many Egyptian families have these towers and raise pigeons for food. At last someone has figured out something pigeons are good for. I had an uncle who tried that in WWII and then couldn't bring himself to kill them. Oh, well.

The first pyramid we visited was King Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara. This apparently was the first pyramid ever built. It is about 200 feet tall and was constructed about 2650 BC. The architect was Imhotep. This pyramid reminded me a lot of pyramids in Mexico and Central America. Photographs below.

The Saqqara complex has other buildings and smaller pyramids. Below is a photograph of a frieze of cobras from one of the other buildings.

The colonnade at Saqqara, shown below, is apparently the earliest known one in the world. The roof is of modern construction. The fluting on the columns was done to make them look like a bundle of papyrus.

Between Saqqara and Giza we traveled on a road that ran along a canal. Below are photographs of scenes along the canal. All were taken from the bus.

Giza is now on the outskirts of Cairo, which is visible in the background of this picture. These are the three great pyramids of Giza--left to right, Cheops or Khufa, Khefre, and Menkaure. This is also the size order. Cheops is the biggest. They were built for grandfather, son and grandson.

No visit to the pyramids would be complete without camels.

The biggest pyramid is Cheops(Khufa), also called the Great Pyramid. It is 138.8 meters(40 stories) high on a base that is 230.5 meters on each side. It was the tallest man made structure in the world for 3800 years until the spire of Lincoln Cathedral was built, 1300 AD. The precision with which it was constructed is amazing. The four base sides have a mean error of 58 millimeters. the The base is flat and horizontal within 15 millimeters. Below are photographs of this Great Pyramid.

The pyramid of Khefre is the second largest pyramid, built by the son of Cheops. From some perspectives it appears taller than Cheops, but it is built on a higher piece of ground so gives the illusion of being taller. All three had a layer of limestone covering them at one time. This outer covering was removed piece by piece over centuries to use in other building projects. The only remaining covering is at the top of Khefre, seen below.

The Great Sphinx was carved from a single rock. Its face is that of Khefre, so the belief is it was carved around 2600 BC. It is not known what happened to the nose. The demise of the nose has been blamed on Napoleon or the Turks but the actual cause is unknown. The beard came off at some point and is now in the British Museum. Below are photographs of this lion with the head of a man.

The pyramids and the Sphinx leave me without adjectives. You can read about them and see umpteen photos, but none of this prepares you for the reality. Stunning!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Holy Land or "Is there a vacancy at the Holy Family Hotel?"

I have always wanted to see the Holy Land or at least Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Fortunately I had read and seen enough video or TV footage of these areas that I was not disappointed. What I mean to say is that I was prepared for the heavy commercialization and the building of churches and shrines on top of the places where the crucifixion, birth and resurrection of Jesus supposedly took place. Putting all that aside, it was sobering to walk in the same area where Jesus walked.

Below is a photo of the wall around the old city. The closed gates are the Golden Gate. This wall is a wall constructed by the Muslims around the time of the Crusades, or shortly thereafter.

Below is what is thought to be the Garden of Gethsemane. These olive trees are at lest 900 years old, and reflect the agony Christ felt in the Garden.

One of the things you have to remember while you are in the Holy Land is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This wall and guard tower separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem and no Israeli is allowed into Bethlehem, according to the sign on the check point.

The tackiness, commercialism and triviality is almost overwhelming. The hotel and souvenir shop shown below are typical; they are about a block from the Church of the Nativity.

The Church of the Nativity is built over the place where by tradition Jesus was born.
The photo below is the entrance. There are three different churches represented by this door-the small current door, an arch above that and a straight lintel above that.

Below is a photo of a door in the church.

This is the room which allegedly held the original manger. The original manger is long gone; the one in the room is several centuries old.

This is one of the internal doors.

View of the old city from outside the wall.

I don't know to whom the shopkeeper expects to sell these dresses.

Don't these spices look inviting?

This baker has put his goods out on the street for your perusal.

Below is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the place where by tradition Jesus was crucified and buried.

This window is on the outside of the church. Notice the ladder. A century or two ago the different churches agreed, after major battling, to leave the church exactly as it was at the time of the agreement. The ladder was as you see it in the photograph; it has never been moved per the agreement.

Below is the external door to the church.

Plant growing out of the old city wall.

Shop in the Old Jerusalem bazaar.

Below is a gate in the old city wall.

We walked through an old quarter from the bazaar to the wailing wall. On the way we came upon this grandmother and two little girls.

The wailing wall, below, is the western retaining wall of the temple mount. Jews come to the wall and pray, often sounding as if they were wailing. They also place written prayers in cracks between the stones.

Below is a photograph of Jews at the wall, with an orthodox Jew approaching the wall.

Orthodox Jew returning from the wall.

This photograph looks as if this could be three generations returning from the wall-grandfather, father and son.

Bride on the plaza leading to the wailing wall.

The photograph below is of the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is immediately to the left of the chapel part of the church at the base of the Mount.

This is a view from the top of the Mount of Olives. A cemetery is immediately in the foreground running down the Mt. almost to the bottom. The golden Dome of the Rock is on the opposite slope and sits on the Temple mount. The Garden of Gethsemane is next to the church at the bottom of the slope almost in the exact middle of the photograph. From the Mount of Olives, somewhere near from where this photograph was taken, Jesus stood and looking across at the Temple and Jerusalem, wept and prophesied their destruction.