THE BLOOMS OF ALHAMBRA

A trip to Granada isn’t complete without visiting the majestic palace of Alhambra, which is one of the last Islamic palaces built in Spain by the Moors. The palace is one architectural masterpiece and its interiors remind me much of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey mostly due to the colorful mosaics and geometric designs. I also enjoyed exploring the palace gardens, which was bursting in a kaleidoscope of colors from the multiple flowering plants. Here are some of the photos I took of the garden blooms using my iPhone 7 Plus.

LUNA GIBBOSA CRESCENTE DAL COLOSSEO

The title of this post is a literal translation of the phrase “Waxing gibbous moon by the Colosseum” to Italian. I thought the translation sounded sexier than the original English text. LOL! When I took these photographs my intention was to capture the Roman Colosseum in multiple angles until I noticed the moon in one of the arches so I started including it in my compositions. It would have been nicer had it been a full moon but a waxing gibbous moon was just as good, it being the phase prior to a full moon. Thankfully, the sky was still bright enough for me to capture the details on the moon’s surface. Had I taken these an hour later the moon would have been just a pale yellow ball in the sky.

If you visited Rome between 2011 and early 2016, you would have seen the ongoing restoration work on the Colosseum, which was mostly covered in scaffolding. The shoe-and-luxury goods maker Tod’s donated millions for the restoration of this architectural wonder so lucky me to have visited it just as the project culminated. Anyway, it’s good to see the Colosseum in a cleaner state and am glad to know that more restoration work are being done to this day. Maybe the next time I’m in Rome I’ll get to see the additional renovations and when I take new photographs a full moon will be high up in the sky to photobomb this magnificent piece of architecture.

ISTANBUL IN PINK

Many years ago, I visited the ancient and mystical city of Istanbul, Turkey and I would say it was one of the most exciting trips I’ve ever done. I was on a Mediterranean cruise and the city was a highlight stop so we docked for two days before sailing to our next destination. It also happened to be my first time to this part of the world so I made sure to visit every historical site from the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque to the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar as well as tasted every delicacy I could stomach. One of the best parts about cruising into Istanbul is that the pier is located right on the most historic part of city. The ship enters a waterway called the Golden Horn, which separates the Galata district (where our ship docked) from the Historic Peninsula district (where the mosques and palaces are located). When I booked my stateroom, I made sure my balcony would face the Golden Horn and the Historic Peninsula district so I can view all the magnificent minarets and domes rising above the city skyline. On the first night, I sat on my balcony to watch the sun set and prayed that its last rays would paint the sky with the brightest and richest of colors. Fate seemed to have favored me that day as the sky turned into this beautiful rosy pink, which transformed the scenery before me into some exotic and colorful work of art reminiscent of the Turkish rugs and lamps that are sold in the bazaars. Here are some of the photos I took of Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula district using my Canon Rebel XSi.

I DREAM OF VENICE

Venice is a place like no other…walking around this ancient city is like being in a dream. The narrow alleys, the endless canals and the magnificent architecture evokes a magical atmosphere one will never experience anywhere else in the world. During my visit to this water world, I felt like I crossed to another dimension and found myself in photography heaven. Every nook and corner of this city is just worth photographing with the one above being one of my favorites. This was taken from the Ponte dell’Accademia at around 10 in the morning on my way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. I love how the Grand Canal looked deserted despite it being taken in the middle of the morning. The photo also looks a bit eeriee with the ominous clouds and the absence of any signs of life like an abandoned city in some post apocalyptic film. However, one can’t deny the beauty that this ancient Italian city exudes thereby making it one of the most visited cities in the world. Photo was taken using an iPhone 7Plus.

PASSEIG DE GRACIA

Passeig de Gracia is the most expensive street in Barcelona and in Spain. This tree lined boulevard is home to the most luxurious retail brands, five-star hotels and Spain’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Anyone who visits Barcelona will at some point find themselves walking and shopping along this famous street. During my trip to Barcelona in 2016, I decided to book a hotel in this area as I wanted to be right in the heart of the action. American Express Platinum cardholders have access to Fine Hotels and Resorts with free room upgrades, breakfast, early check-in/late check-out and even hotel credits. The Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona had the best perks at that time so I booked a suite room with balcony, which provided me great views of the city. This 5-star hotel is right on Passeig de Gracia and is just a block away from Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Mila and Casa Batlló and a few minutes walk to the Gothic Quarter, La Sagrada Familia and another famous Barcelona street…the La Rambla. Below are some of the photos I took while walking around this famous street. Barcelona is such a gorgeous city rich in history, culture, arts and architecture, however, my visit was brief (4 days) as I was only there to catch my cruise across the Atlantic back to America after traveling around Italy for a few weeks. I fell in love with Barcelona and I plan to visit again in the future and see the places I missed during my previous trip. I will definitely still stay in a hotel around this neighborhood due to its proximity to everything great in Barcelona.

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