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28/02/2010

Reichstag dome (Norman Foster), Bundestag, Berlin



This is a photo taken inside the Reichtag Dome, a glass dome constructed on top of the rebuilt Reichtag building (Bundestag) in Berlin. It was designed by architect Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. The distinctive appearance of the dome has made it a prominent landmark in Berlin.
The Reichstag dome is a large glass dome with a 360 degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The debating chamber of the Bundestag, the German parliament, can be seen down below. A mirrored cone in the center of the dome directs sunlight into the building. The dome is open to the public and can be reached by climbing two steel, spiraling ramps that are reminiscent of a double-helix.
The glass dome was also designed by Foster to be environmentally friendly. Energy efficient features involving the use of the daylight shining through the mirrored cone were applied, effectively decreasing the carbon emissions of the building.
More photos of the dome to come soon...

26/02/2010

Wat Si Saket, Vientiane, Laos

This is a photo of Wat Si Saket, a Buddhist wat in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Lane Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road, to the northwest of Haw Phra Kaew.
Wat Si Saket was built in 1818 on the orders of King
Anouvong, which may be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. It was built in the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate five-tiered roof, rather than in the Lao style, keeping it safe from the armies of Siam which sacked Vientiane in 1827. Although the temple was spared as its designed was a Bangkok style, the French restored the temple in 1924 and then again in 1930.
Wat Si Saket features a cloister wall with more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha images.

25/02/2010

Uwchmynydd, Lleyn Peninsula (Penrhyn Llŷn), Wales


This photo was taken on the Lleyn Peninsula (Penrhyn Llŷn in Welsh).
Llŷn is notable for its large number of protected sites — including a National Nature Reserve at Cors Geirch, a National Heritage Coastline and a European Marine Special Area of Conservation as well as twenty Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The Llŷn Coastal Path, a long distance footpath, enables walkers to fully explore both coasts of the peninsula.
Much of the coastline and the ex-volcanic hills are part of the Llŷn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, confirming the peninsula as one of the most scientifically important in both Wales and Britain. In 1984 there was an earthquake beneath the peninsula, which measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale and was felt in many parts of Ireland and western Britain.

24/02/2010

Chez George (11, rue de Canettes - 75006 - Paris), France


This photo was taken in Paris, France and does show the (closed) bar, Chez George.

The bar was included in the Top 10 Bar of The World in a Guardian's article :
"A dingy, smoky cellar bar. Walking into Chez Georges is like finding yourself on the set of a Truffaut film. It’s full of effortlessly cool people who don’t seem to be up themselves, which of course makes them seem even cooler. Early evening everyone is huddled round tiny tables drinking red wine out of glass tumblers or squeezed on to sofas. Come closing time the floor is a mass of flailing limbs and nodding heads."

Timeout's review : "One of a dying breed of cave-bars in the Latin Quarter, Chez Georges is beloved of students, professionals and local eccentrics. Regulars pop in during the day to sip wine over a game of chess, and at night the cave fills up with people dancing to chanson, pop and even the odd bar mitzvah tune. The heat is mascara-melting and it's not for the claustrophobic, but it's a great way to meet new people..."

22/02/2010

Kuiseb Canyon, Namibia


The Kuiseb Canyon is carved by the Kuiseb River, and it forms the southern edge of Namib Desert Park.
The Kuiseb River in Namibia flows from the Khomas highlands west of Windhoek to Walvis Bay. It is bordered on one side by the tallest sand dunes in the world, and on the other by barren rock. The red sand dunes south of the river reach heights over 150 meters. The prevailing winds blow the dunes northward, but their movement is blocked by the river. In the process, so much sand and silt is deposited in the Kuiseb that it only reaches the sea while it is in flood, i.e. very occasionally.
See below satellite image of the Kuiseb river (source NASA).

21/02/2010

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), Berlin, Germany


The
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is a former city gate and one of the main symbols of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city center at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which one formerly entered Berlin.
The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. The Brandenburg Gate was restored from 2000 to 2002. Today, it is considered one of Europe's most famous landmarks.


The
Pariser Platz named after the French capital Paris in honour of the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814 (when Prussian troops along with the other Allies captured Paris after the overthrow of Napoleon) and is one of the main focal points of the city.


The Brandenburg Gate consists of twelve Doric columns, six to each side, forming five passageways. Citizens originally were allowed to use only the outermost two.



Atop the gate is the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. It was sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow.
After the 1806 Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Napoleon took the Quadriga to Paris. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris by General Ernst von Pfuel, the Quadriga was restored to Berlin and Victoria's wreath of oak leaves was supplemented with a new symbol of Prussian power, the Iron Cross. The Quadriga faces east, as it did when it was originally installed in 1793.

20/02/2010

Hmong Hill Tribe Village, Northern Laos


This photo was taken in a Hmong village in Nothern Laos. The Hmong, or Mong, are an Asian ethnic group of people from the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land.

19/02/2010

Dylife Gorge, Dylife, Powys, Mid Wales


This is a photo of the Dylife Gorge, located near Dylife, Powys, Mid Wales. The gorge was carved by the action (and aftermath) of the last Ice age. It is headed by the Ffrwd Fawr Waterfall.
Before the last Ice age, the River Twymyn did not flow through the valley. When the valley was filled by a glacier, the ice ground out a U-shaped glaciated valley. When the glacier that filled the valley melted the Twymyn started to run down the wide channel left behind and the fast flowing river further eroded the valley, cutting the V-shaped gorge as seen today.
The long-distance footpath
Glyndŵr's Way (Llwybr Glyndŵr in Welsh) passes nearby.

18/02/2010

Protea Neriifolia (Oleanderleaf Protea, Baardsuikerbos, Baardsuikerkan, Blousuikerkan), Proteaceae


These three photos were taken in Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain.
They show Protea neriifolia (also known as oleanderleaf protea, baardsuikerbos, baardsuikerkan, or blousuikerkan), a flowering plant which is endemic to South Africa.
It forms a large shrub from about 3 metres to 5 metres in height. Its flower head ranges in colour from pink to creamy-green, with a black fringe that intergrades to white.
Protea neriifolia occurs on sandstone-derived soils in the southern coastal mountain ranges of South Africa, between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It is found at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1300 metres.
The species is pollinated by various insects including protea beetles, scarab beetles and also birds which are attracted by the insects and nectar.
Although it was first discovered by Europeans in 1597, and was the subject of a botanical illustration in 1605, the plant was only described as a distinct species in 1810 by botanist Robert Brown.
If you want to know more, you can refer to
Plantzafrica or Botanic Garden Trust pages.



17/02/2010

Haw Phra Kaew temple, Vientiane, Laos


This is a photo of Haw Phra Kaew, a former temple in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Setthathirath Road, to the southeast of Wat Si Saket. The interior now houses a museum and a small shop. Haw Phra Kaew was built between 1565 and 1556, on the orders of King Setthathirath. The temple housed the Emerald Buddha figurine, which Setthathirath had brought from Chiang Mai, then the capital of Lanna, to Luang Prabang. When Vientiane was seized by Siam (now Thailand) in 1778, the figurine was taken to Thonburi. It now resides in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. The temple was left in devastating disrepair and nearly burnt down to the shreds by the Siamese. It was rebuilt by the French in the 1930's which is the former building that exist today.

15/02/2010

Natural History Museum, London


This is a photo of the main frontage of Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road, and is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London (the others are the Science Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum).
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Darwin.
The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, and ornate architecture — sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature — both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast which dominates the vaulted central hall.

14/02/2010

Chinese New Year 2010 (Chú Xī) : Year Of The Tiger


These photos were taken in China town, London.
Chinese New Year 2010 is the Year of the Tiger. The Tiger is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Tiger is associated with the earthly branch symbol.

12/02/2010

Hmong Hill Tribe Village, Northern Laos


This photo was taken in a Hmong village in Nothern Laos. The Hmong, or Mong, are an Asian ethnic group of people from the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land.

11/02/2010

Jumeirah Essex House, Manhattan, New York City


This is a photo of the Essex House, taken from Central Park, Manhattan, New York City.
The Jumeirah Essex House, formerly known as the Essex House, is a luxury hotel located on Central Park South. Built in 1931 as the Park Tower Hotel, the 43-story hotel has 515 Art Deco style rooms and an in-house spa, and it is immediately recognizable by its original red neon rooftop sign. The hotel has had several owner/operators over the years, including Marriott Hotels (1969), Japan Air Lines/Nikko hotel (1985) and is currently under the direction of the Jumeirah Group, who is undertaking extensive remodelling, including the conversion of some of the hotel rooms into condominiums.
The hotel was formerly the home of a five-star restaurant,
Alain Ducasse at Essex House. However, Ducasse closed the restaurant at Essex House in January 2007.

10/02/2010

Olive Trees, Terraces, Majorca


This photo was taken on the island of Majorca, Balearic Islands. Olive trees are very hardy, drought-, disease- and fire-resistant, and can live for a very long time. Its root system is very robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. The older an olive tree is, the broader and gnarlier its trunk appears. Many olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are said to be several centuries old, and in some cases this has been verified scientifically.

09/02/2010

HMS Belfast, London


This is close-up photo of HMS Belfast, a museum ship, operated by the Imperial War Museum, permanently moored in London on the River Thames. She was originally a Royal Navy light cruiser and served during both the Second World War and Korean War.

08/02/2010

One Nation Under CCTV, April 2008, Banksy, London


These are two photos of famous Banksy's "One Nation Under CCTV", taken above a Post Office yard at the junction of Eastcastle and Newman streets in London W1, near Oxford Circus , London.
The Westminster City Council stated in October 2008 that the work "One Nation Under CCTV", painted in April 2008 will be painted over as it is graffiti. The council says it will remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator, and specifically stated that Banksy has no more right to paint graffiti than a child. The work was painted over in April 2009.

Read more in this interesting Daily Mail's article.

05/02/2010

The Eagles, Chrysler Building, Manhattan, New York City


This is a closeup photo of the Chrysler Building, an Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, located on the east side of Manhattan in the Turtle Bay area at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Standing at 319 metres, it was the world's tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it was again the second-tallest building in New York City until December 2007, when the spire was raised on the 365.8-metre Bank of America Tower, pushing the Chrysler Building into third position.
The Chrysler Building is a classic example of Art Deco architecture and considered by many contemporary architects to be one of the finest buildings in New York City.
The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen to house the Chrysler Corporation. The distinctive ornamentation of the building based on features that were then being used on Chrysler automobiles. The corners of the 61st floor are graced with eagles, replicas of the 1929 Chrysler hood ornaments; on the 31st floor, the corner ornamentation are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps. The building is constructed of masonry, with a steel frame, and metal cladding. In total, the building currently contains 3,862 windows on its facade and 4 banks of 8 elevators.
You can refer also to a previous post on Chrysler Building and or on the New York folder.

04/02/2010

Alms Giving Ceremony, Luang Prabang, Laos


This photo was taken in Luang Prabang in Laos, and shows a scene of the very picturesque Alms giving ceremony : monks at dawn, collecting alms of rice from kneeling villagers.

03/02/2010

Border Marker Pole (Barber Pole), Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), German Democratic Republic (GDR), Berlin, Germany


This is a photo of an old Border Marker Pole, to mark the Inner German border (innerdeutsche Grenze or deutsch–deutsche Grenze, initially also Zonengrenze), the frontier between the
German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) from 1949 to 1990. Not including the similar but physically separate Berlin Wall, the border was 1,381 kilometres long and ran from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia.
The actual line between West and East Germany was located on the far side of the outer strip. It was marked by granite stones (Grenzsteine) with the letters "DDR" carved on the west-facing edge. Around 2,600 distinctive East German concrete "barber pole" (Grenzsäule or Grenzpfähle) markers were installed just behind the border line at intervals of about 500 metres. A metal East German coat of arms, the Staatsemblem, was fixed to the side of the marker that faced West Germany.
On the West German side, there were no fortifications of any kind, nor even any patrol roads in most areas. Warning signs (Grenzschilder) with messages such as Achtung! Zonengrenze! ("Danger! Zonal border!") or Halt! Hier Zonengrenze ("Stop! The zonal border is here") notified visitors of the presence of the border. Foreign military personnel were restricted from approaching the border to avoid clashes or other unwanted incidents. Signs in English and German provided notifications of the distance to the border to discourage accidental crossings. No such restriction applied to Western civilians, who were free to go up to the border line, and there were no physical obstacles to stop their crossing it .