Sunday, February 25, 2018

Feb 26th, Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia


Wow.  Kuala Lumpur is huge.  The $30 taxi ride from the Airport to the city center passed some very nice high-rise residences, and we're about half-way up one of those downtown.   It's 80 degrees at 4am on Monday over here, and it's time to get some sleep.  We've been flying since 11am on Saturday your time, though we did cross the dateline.   We join up with the others at dinner tonight, and we'll be checking out the city for three days, then driving through the rest of the country.

Just this one photo today.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Off on Another Adventure


Next weekend, we'll be flying to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to begin a two-month adventure which also includes Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan.  We'll be on two long tours with Adventures Abroad and Samurai Tours, with a week on our own in Singapore sandwiched in between.  I've created a Google Map with the itinerary if you care to follow.  Of course, I'll be posting photos and commentary whenever I can.  For the first time, I'm just going to use my new Google Pixel XL as my camera, and still bringing the MacAir to organize the website posts and photo albums here. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday, Feb 14th, Last Chance Valentine's Day,


Here are some photos of the celebration we had a couple of weeks ago at the largest homeless encampment in our City.  It's a fond memory that I will carry with me as we travel, in the hope that it won't be broken up by the City while we are gone - without a serious effort by all to find homes for the residents.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16th, Skopje, Macedonia


The Kale Fortress, Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Museum of the Old Bazaar, a walk through the new side of the city, and the Museum for Mother Teresa.  All that before lunch.

But you can see all that in the photo album.  I want to take the rest of this final blog to tell you what the doesn't become clear as you visit Macedonia and Skopje.

Macedonia doesn't tell you how old it really is.  Fixated on its link with the Greek warrior, Alexander, The Country's ancient storyline stops just beyond the fourth or fifth century BC.  The pile dwellers on Lake Ohrid lived there as early as the 12th century BC, but aren't well-publicized or even named.  They're probably Illurians from the territory now in Albania.

But it's the people who are best known for their fertility worship, and their broken figurines of women found near Skopje who lived from the 42nd century to the 20th century BC that ought to get some publicity.

I'm not sure how you make statues out of people you can't identify, but since their figurines pre-date anything other than some gorgeous pottery traced to a civilization two thousand years before that (yes 6300 BC), either or both of these groups ought to get some recognition.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Friday, June 16th, Skopje, Macedonia.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday, June 15th, Skopje, Macedonia


At 172 kilometers, it's hard to call today a relatively easy traveling day, but it was.  Getting up this morning on Lake Ohrid (to an almost vacant hotel, and with no breakfast prepared), our bus took us to Bigorski Monastery, and lunch in Skopje, Macedonia's capital city.

Once again, we can't show you the inside of the Monastery, but the wooden carvings on the walls, and in the construction of chairs and podiums, were unbelievable.  Intricate designs of humans, animals, flowers, and birds are woven together into stories and religious scenes.  It really does amaze us by the dedication of local artists centuries ago.

After lunch, we traveled through the National Park of Mavrovo (largest in Macedonia), and on to the town of Tetovo.  A strongly moslem town, with Albanian ties, we walked the streets of the town bazaar and had lunch by the Pena River.  Nearby was the Painted Mosque, probably the most stunningly vibrant color scheme on the outside and inside of a mosque in the region.

Finally, we drove to Skopje, where we'll spend our last day in Macedonia.  On Saturday morning, we head home via Istanbul.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Thursday, June 15th, Skopje, Macedonia.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday, June 14th, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia


Our friend and fellow traveler, Julia McCabe, suggested that we should go to Heraclea Lyncestis,   Located a couple of miles from Bitola, a great little town on our itinerary, it was not hard to convince the rest of us that we should definitely stop by.  Founded by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, in the middle of the 4th century BC, Heraclea is a main city on the 2nd century BC Roman road Via Egnatia. 

Macedonia and the travel companies are beginning to plan trips along the pathway through Albania, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey.  Completely overwhelmed by the mosaics in the Basilicas there, we went into Bitola.

Elena lived in Bitola for three years, and described the town as the antidote to high stress Ohrid, and wanted us to experience the laid back lifestyle of the easy-going, hardly-working residents.  Sure enough, our lunch was long and delicious, and the town stroll on the promenade lasted until late afternoon.  Afterward, we got to wander inside a local restored active mosque.

But more exploring was in store as we drove to the top of the pass which separates Lake Ohrid from Lake Prespa.  Five hundred feet higher, the water from Lake Prespa drains through the limestone mountain pass, and erupts in springs at the edge of Lake Ohrid.   Hang gliders and para sailers regularly launch from the pass, and land near the lake's shores.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Wednesday, June 14th, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13th, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia


Lake Ohrid is one of the deepest and oldest lakes in the world.  It's also one of the cleanest and clearest.  Completely refreshed every seven years, it has springs bringing water through limestone layers from the nearby mountains, and rivers emptying it in the same volume, at the same pace.  With a comfortable water temperature, especially in the summer, it serves as the perfect beachside vacation for thousands of tourists escaping the crowds.

Along the coast our ferry took us this morning, we passed a pile dwelling settlement established in 1200 BC named the Bay of Bones.  Named because a cache of animal bones were found near large carbon-dated underwater poles, the settlement has been reconstructed, and an accompanying museum and roman fortification nearby adds to the important set of resources.

Our next stop was the Monastery of Saint Naum, one of the two most well-known figures in Macedonia.  Naum and St Clemons, students of Saints Cyril and Methodius, were responsible during the period of 863 to 910 for the development of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets, which were instrumental in bringing the Bible and a civil code to the Slavic peoples of this region.

Just prior to a great lunch at the mouth of the springs which feed Lake Ohrid, we were rowed around the nearby lagoons and their islands.  It was such a serene aquatic journey, gliding slowly over the clear green, blue, and white depths.

Returning across the Lake to the City of Ohrid,  we took a taxi to the top of the hill where  Samuel's Fortress overlooks the town.  Afterward, we hiked down to another beautiful ancient church next door to the Ohrid Icon Gallery, where our guide, Elena, helped us understand the evolution of icons in Macedonia, and the early appearance of rennaisance art techniques in the area icons.

Then to a restored ancient amphitheater, and on down the hill to the Church of Saint Sophia, an 1100 AD Archbishopric, converted by the Ottomans to a mosque in the 1400s, and now used as a museum and concert hall.  The church contains some of the most vivid frescoes we've ever seen, and some thanks goes to funding from our U.S. State Department in the last few years.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on:
Tuesday, June 13th, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia.