The Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque, first dawn by webmink
Blue Mosque, first dawn, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

I was recently in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state in Malaysia and a part of the greater Kuala Lumpur conurbation. An unmissable feature of Shah Alam is the truly enormous and remarkable Blue Mosque (the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque to be formal). It is a recent building, only completed in 1988 unlike the mediaeval mosque of the same name in Istanbul.

Not Big Ben!

Not Big Ben! by Webminkette
Not Big Ben!, a photo by Webminkette on Flickr.

Big Ben is the nick-name given to the great bell of the clock at the north end of Westminster Palace, in London. By extension, the whole clock tower has been referred to by the same name. However, as the English Queen is celebrating 60 years of reigning – the name of this tower is to be changed to Elizabeth Tower.

Despite being such a famous landmark, this tower is not open to tourists from over-seas. As the Palace of Westminster houses our parliament, this tower is only open to United Kingdom residents (and then only via the resident’s MP).

I had been up in London on a gloomy, grey day, but as I crossed Westminster bridge the sun came out for a brief moment. It lit up these well known tourist attractions, which called out to be photographed. Sometimes I forget how lovely these buildings, and in particularly this Tower in its Gothic Revival style, are.

Continental Divide, Milner pass.

Colorado, in the USA, is one of our favourite places. We have enjoyed spending many Autumns (or, as the American’s say, “Fall”) there. This view was taken when we drove up to Milner’s pass, at an elevation of 10,759 feet.

The Continental Divide stretches from Alaska to (almost) the Cape Horn. It is fascinating because the water on one side flows into the Atlantic Ocean; on the other side it flows into the Pacific Ocean.

If only I could remember in which direction I was facing when I took this shot! There is nothing for it… I shall have to go back.

Coade Stone Lion

Coade Stone Lion by webmink
Coade Stone Lion, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

This iconic Victorian sculpture of a lion stands opposite the Houses of Parliament at the south end of Westminster Bridge in London, England. It looks new, but has survived 175 years, including through World War 2 and the demolition of the building for which it was created.

It is actually made of a ceramic called Coade Stone by sculptor  W.F. Woodington in 1837. The material is made from a mix of clay, flint, quartz and glass – in ratios that are known to us – and then cured over multiple days at high temperature – in a process that is lost.  Coade Stone appears to be one of the most durable artificial materials created, but sadly the precise technique needed for industrial manufacture did not survive the closure of the manufacturer.

There are more details of the history of the sculpture on the plaque beneath the sculpture:
Detail: Coade Stone Lion

The Lion of Belfort, Paris.

This majestic statue can be found at Place Denfert-Rochereau, previously known as Place d’Enfer, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, France, in the Montparnasse district. Many roads meet at this place.

The Lion is cast in bronze and it is a one-third-scale replica of the Lion of Belfort statue by Bartholdi, which is made from red sandstone and remains in Belfort below its castle. Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was a French Sculptor (1834-1904] who also created the famous Statue of Liberty in New York.

The lion symbolizes the heroic French resistance during the Siege of Belfort, a 103 days long Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). The city was protected from 40,000 Prussians by merely 17,000 men (only 3,500 were from the military) led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau.

This impressive statue is surrounded by traffic… I have yet to find out the significance of the arrow (being an archer, I notice such items.)

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev is a fascinating European city and I would recommend anyone to plan a weekend stay there.

The tower in the foreground is the St Michael’s Monastery‘s bell tower. Beyond it lies the enormous Cathedral church which is open for visitors to look around, or to light a candle in, and it is part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

It is a working monastery that dates back to the 12th Century but which was destroyed during the Soviet era. Surprisingly, it was rebuilt in 1997-98 after Ukraine regained its independence in 1991! You can read more about its history on Wikipedia or elsewhere.

It lies to one end of a wide open space (used as a parade ground in the Soviet era) and is faced, on the opposite side of the square, by the equally imposing but beautiful buildings of Saint Sophia’s Cathedral (now a museum.)

I love the clouds in this photo and the fact that it feels so different to anything you see in England.

London

London by Webminkette
London, a photo by Webminkette on Flickr.

I love the effect of these flags in Old Bond Street (one of the more exclusive shopping streets) in London.

They make a change from the bunting that went up in so many places to celebrate the 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Somehow, even the grey sky seems to add to the atmosphere in this photo!

Budapest

Hungarian Parliament by webmink
Hungarian Parliament, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

The Hungarian capital, Budapest, is a city I’ve visited a few times. Each time I have been charmed. It has managed to avoid the tourist infestation that’s taken Prague, while still becoming interesting and accessible to the visitor.

This is the Hungarian Parliament building, seen just after sunset across the river Danube from the walls of the castle.

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake by webmink
Tenaya Lake, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

Another shot of Yosemite National Park that’s not Half Dome! This is Tenaya Lake, near the summit of the high country in Yosemite just a few miles from the east entrance to the park at Tioga Pass. Even late in the year there’s snow visible at this altitude.

The lake is right beside the road, so no trouble finding it – but do turn off and walk in the woods too. Pack breakfast on your day excursion to Mono Lake, Bodie or Bishop and picnic here after you’ve spend the hour or so it takes to drive up from the valley floor. The Tioga Pass Resort just outside the entry station also does a great breakfast if you prefer not to picnic, and you’ll be surprised how good the deli inside the Chevron station at the foot of the hill just outside Lee Vining is – make sure you eat there at least once!

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