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The country with its dramatic landscape, lakes, rain forests, jungles, volcanoes, markets and welcoming people is in transition. Its colonial cities such as Granada and Leon are colorful, a photographers paradise.
The population is 95% catholic and there are many churches; a colorful country with buildings, doors and dwellings painted in bright tones. Tourist are discovering the culture and beauty of the country and there is a transition under way.
Those who are not afraid to experience adventure, traveling the country by car can be very rewarding. The landscapes with cone shaped volcanoes, lakes, beaches and pastures are dramatic.
Although the infrastructure is only just beginning to be developed, there are a few good highways and many of the roads are challenging but drivable. We traveled from the North-west to the South-west of the country, parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast line, visiting the major inland cities.
Although the driving is slow it also allows you to see rural life and stop at the small food stands along the way. I highly recommend renting a car and experiencing the country and culture.
It should be said that speaking Spanish is a must. Although you can find a few people in the cities, particularly in the hotels that can speak English.
I can’t say enough about the warm nature of the people. In general they live in dwellings that are built from any type of material that can be found, many with dirt floors and within their property they are cleaning and sweeping to maintain an orderly environment constantly.
Their dwellings are often built in the jungle under trees for shade, smoldering fires are lit to keep bugs away. They are friendly, and more then willing to engage in an attempt to converse, or have you take their photo.
They love music, dancing and being together with family. Their neighborhoods are a close community of people and they are hard workers.
It also must be said that the common areas are filled with trash and my guess is that the country doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle trash removal. The beaches, crowded with locals all the time, are not well maintained. High-end condos for foreigners are in the process of being constructed along the coasts, but the small villages, small hotels, restaurants and roads are inadequate to handle large numbers of tourist.
Having said this, we ate in the local restaurants and found the food to be not only delicious and fresh, but we totally enjoyed everything about them including all the local activity and entertainment.
It was fun to spend time being locals for a little while. The food is very inexpensive and there is no need to eat at higher end restaurant. We visited cantinas, small little eateries, beachfront restaurants and the local markets and never had a problem.
It is always best to be aware of eating in local places, it can be risky, but although we brought along all the medication we needed, we never had the need to use them.
Adventure travelers will find hiking, volcano sliding, zip lining, surfing and many other sporting adventures to explore. There are 25 volcanoes, 9 of which are active. Hiking them opens dramatic panoramas in every direction.
It is time to visit Nicaragua now and enjoy this interesting country before progress changes it.
The International Black & White Spider Awards were announced November 5th in a world-wide presentation online. Two of my photo’s were nominated.
11th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from National Geographic, Washington DC; The Armory Show, New York; TBWA, Paris; Victoria Film Festival, Canada; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Studio Hansa, London; Fratelli Alinari, Florence; Australian Centre for Photography; Young & Rubicam, Lima; and Anthem Worldwide/Marque Branding, Sydney who honored Spider Fellows with 627 coveted title awards in 31 categories.”It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 7,556 entries we received this year,” said Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. ”
The Gelmersee Bridge
Located in Oberwald, Switzerland above the Grimsel Pass is Gelmersee (lake). The bridge is situated at the entrance of the Gelmerbahn mountain railway to the Gelmersee. It is a pedestrian bridge suspended over the Handeggfall with a spectacular view of the dramatic falls.
The Raymond & Maria Stata Center
The Raymond & Maria Stata Center was designed by Frank Gehry. Located at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts is the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments as well as student dorms on the upper floors. The exterior tiles reflect the surrounding landscape and creates a visual picture of the activities of student life in the area.
This year’s harvest is in full swing in the Bünder Herrschaft.
Last year I had the fortune of photographing Jürg Obrecht and his team harvest and process the grapes.
With urgency and passion, the activity was intense as the temperature in the evening was beginning to drop.
Not a minute could be wasted in getting the grapes into the crushers and vats.
The moment to harvest is decided with experience, gut and closely watching the weather.
Jürg took over his father’s winery (Weinbau & Weinhandel) in 1997. Along with his young family he built a team of talented people to develop and create innovative and traditional wines.
Added to the production of his own 17 acres of vineyards he buys the harvest from another 50 acres of vineyards in Jenins and Maienfeld.
Surrounded by spectacular views of the Alps he produces excellent and award winning red and white wines.
Jürg modernized his production with the newest techniques and equipment to generate top quality wines.
Eighty percent of the grapes he grows are Pinot Noir, the rest are mainly Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Sylvaner.
I thank Jürg and his team for tolerating my camera and me and for the lovely glass of wine.
It was hard to shoot and drink at the same time, but as always I found a way and completely enjoyed the experience.
For more information of the Fünf Dörfer – The 5 villages along the Wine Route of Maienfeld Switzerland
Umbra’s hilly landscape is known for its many medieval hill-top towns that are surrounded with olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Stretching from Perugia to Spoleto it is a rich agricultural area producing olive oil, black truffles and wine. Tourists will also find beautiful textiles items such as scarf’s and linens produced in the region.
I was impressed to discover the renovation of some of the hilltop towns that today are being occupied, not only by part-time summer residence, but are beautiful vibrant communities. This trip we set out to visit Spoleto, Montefalco, Trevi and some of the restored towns such as Campello Alta and Castello di Postignano.
We found the lovely Argriturismo Pettino in Campello sul Clitunno, after driving along a windy road overlooking the valley, on top of a mountain. The food was outstanding with homemade pasta, perfectly grilled meats, local specialities and black truffles collected by the family around the surrounding mountain. However a warning, after drinking wine and eating large and delicious meals, driving down the mountain could be a risk, so staying at Argriturismo Pettino is a good idea.
Nonna, who was there before breakfast and stayed until after the dinner service was a joyful woman who loved to talk to the guests. I got to know her a little during my stay and one morning she was making homemade ravioli, I really wanted to stay and help her, but we were going to visit Spoleto that day and I had to make a choice, Spoleto it was. But I was in heaven at dinner eating the best ravioli I have ever had that evening.
As I left Umbria, a plan began totake shape in my head about how I was going to return, but that will be another trip and another story.
Enjoy some of the photo’s I took of the landscape and look for a future post about Montefalco and Spoleto.
The Bernina Pass is one of Europe’s highest alpine passes at 2253-metre-high. It is located in the Canton of Graubünden and The Bernina Express runs from Chur, Davos, St Moritz through Valposchiavo to Tirano in Italy.
The stunning and rugged landscapes and pristine ice blue lakes provide magnificent views of the Alps. Alp Grüm (2,091 m) is the first station south of the Alps situated above Largo Palü. The train negotiates 55 tunnels and 196 bridges. The highest point on the RhB is 2,253 metres above sea level, where you will find the Ospizio Bernina.
The route takes you on a journey into Swiss German, Romanish and Italian villages, cultures and languages. It offers a unique experience of Alpine life in small villages as well as the glamour of St Moritz. It is considered one of the world’s most beautiful train trips.
The Radishes Bahn is one of the Largest Network of Rail systems in Switzerland except for the Swiss Federal Railway. RhB section from the Albula/Bernina area (the part from Thusis to Tirano, including St Moritz) was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008.
Enjoy some of the landscapes along the Bernina Pass.
Information can be found on Wikipedia, Eurail.com – (http://www.eurail.com/europe-by-train/scenic-trains/bernina-express),the Rhaetian Railway at https://www.rhb.ch/en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express and My Swisshttp://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/search/index.cfm?phrase=Bernina+Express%2FBernina+Pass
Deep fog was not in my plans when I awoke at 5:30 AM to shoot the sunrise at Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Center in Delray, Florida. I thought this could be interesting anyway and drove to the stables. I could barely see the horses slightly visible through streaks of mist moving silently over the corals.
The atmosphere was mystical as I drove up to the racetrack.
I could see trainers leading their horses in and emerging out of the fog.
And then the sky started to turn pink, then bright gold, it looked like they were trotting to reach the rays of sunlight casting gold light on their coats with their mains floating in the air.
It was captivating watching this unfold and my plan to shoot the sunrise turned to capturing these beautiful animals and their trainers.
It became a passion and I returned many times.
I know nothing about harness racing except to have attended a few races in the vineyards not far from our home in Switzerland. I began to see personalities in the horses and the relationship between the horses and trainers.
The trainers even seemed to look at their young horses in amazement.
The power of their limbs and their gracefulness has lured me back many times.
The trainers, owners and staff are engaging and have accepted my presents, although sometimes wondering what I’m doing so early in the morning taking photos. As they leave to go up North for the summer, I will miss my visits to Sunshine Meadows and look forward to their return in October.
Spend a few moments with me and enjoy these beautiful animals and their trainers.
Division of Forestry and Johathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, Fl had a Fire Fest with a controlled burn. The focus is on fire safety and the importance of forest management.
The growth of community development close to wildlands and the growth of vegetation has made the management in these areas riskier and complex.
Tribal, federal, state, and local governments partner in the management of these areas and community preparedness strategies.
Inviting the public to talks given by the firefighters and a demonstration of an actual controlled burn is an effort to educate families to get involved in the use of the community wildlands and its wildlife.
Safty is of key importance as large numbers of families joined the fest for a day of activities.
Look for information on their website for the next Fire Fest. http://www.floridastateparks.org/jonathandickinson/
Each year Scott Kelby hosts a worldwide photo walk. Organizers from photo clubs around the world select a location in their area to highlight . This year PBC Photo Walkers, a group that I’m a member of, choose Green Cay in Boynton Beach, right in my back yard. I joined about 50 photographers to photograph the nature preserve at sunset. The park is about 1.5 miles of boardwalk with various plants and wildlife abundant and easily photographed. The challenge is that the selection is not the best location for a sun set meet and this isn’t the best time of year to photograph animals or birds, as the migration has not yet begun. But having said that, it is important to search of interesting shots and challenge your skills.
There is a contest by Scott Kelby that the photographers can participate in and the selected photo’s will be posted on his website.
Here are some of the images I shot.
Brickell has grown into a major cultural area with theaters, such as the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, the Carnival Studio Theater, Adrienne Arsht Theater and other Performing Arts centers. Also found in the area is the Perez Museum, under construction the Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium and nearby the Children’s Museum and many others. Creative and exciting architecture and public areas beautifully adorned with palms, flowers and parks provide leisure spaces for visitors.
Brickell Village is a small neighborhood in the middle of this beautiful area overlooking the sea where many restaurants and cafes cater to locals w ho enjoy evenings and weekends with friends. As a photographer what fascinates me is the way the contemporary architecture mingles with the “Miami Style,” as I call it, which is a combination of Spanish and Art Deco buildings.
Buildings of glass reflect architectures that seem to be alive with the flavor of the Latin music that is heard in the clubs and restaurants. The shapes, lines and colors dance to the rhythms of the culture of the area. Recently I have taken images of the buildings that show how these architectures reflect the style of the area.
My image “The French Countryside” will be exhibited at the Palm Beach International Airport from July 9th to October 8th. The photo won a Merit Award in B&W 2014 Portfolio Contest and is currently published in the June special issue.
It is very exciting for me to have the opportunity to participate in this exhibition and display a location that I have loved and enjoyed for many years. Please stop by and enjoy the exhibition.
For more photo’s of this beautiful countryside go to my blog post: http://turosdolci.pturo.com/the-french-countryside/
The first Miami Summer Music Festival began with a performance by young talented musicians from around the world selected to study in Miami. They are challenged to perform in symphony, opera, chamber concerts, piano recitals and competitions in order to develop their ability to adapt to the world stage.
The opening program under the direction of Conductor – Michael Rossi, and Stage Director – Robert Dundas was captivating. The program of Richard Strauss, Don Juan, tone poem for orchestra, Op.20, Franz List, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major and Giacomo Puccini, Sour Angelica was beautifully performed.
Ryo Kaneko, winner of Miami Summer Music Festival Piano Competition was commanding. And Suor Angelica performed by Marinel Cruz was captivating. Along with a cast of vocalist and young musicians, these students will take the stage in performances with world-renowned orchestras well prepared due to the dedication of music professionals and incubators such as the Miami Music Festival.
Last nights performance was at the New World Theater in Miami. Designed by Frank Gehry, the theater is a unique ultra modernistic design that embraces high tech acoustics and visual accessibility in the round.
Miami is a culturally rich and diverse city that embraces a dynamic artistic environment. This program started by Michael Rossi along with FIU and MSMF Opera Institute is worthy of the publics support.
Some images of the theater.
(Stop the slideshow bymoving the cursor over the picture)
Two of my photo’s were accepted in the juried contest of Johathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound Florida.
June 20th – July 21st
Entry Fee $5
If you enjoy outdoor sports, this is a wonderful park for biking, equestrian, hiking, water sports, fishing and camping. It has a very interesting history and some remnants of its roll in WWII are still evident.
There are wonderful photography opportunities of the train track and expansive views from the lookout tower.
Johathan Dickinson State Park
Kimbell Education Center
16450 SE Federal Hwy
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
Black & White is a leading photography magazine that conducts photography contests in Single Image and Portfolio images yearly. The magazines distribution is 35,000 worldwide. With about 9,500 images submitted in the 2014 portfolio contest, three of my images won a Merit Award and are included in the Special Edition #104 due in the Newsstands soon. It is an honor to be among the outstanding photographers who won this year.
My photos were taken in the Burgundy region of France. Having lived in Europe for many years, we most often traveled on the back roads and through the countryside whenever possible. The French countryside is my favorite, and to me the most romantic. I am absorbed with the tranquility, graceful fields filled with sunflowers, vineyards, quite villages and elegance of the architecture.
I have written a blog post with additional photo’s that I invite you to view.
The following three photo’s are published in the magazines 2014 Portfolio Contest Winners Special issue.
Florida has thousands of parks and reserves that offer magnificent opportunities to view wildlife and enjoy sport activities. Riverbend is located in Jupiter, (Palm Beach County), and is 680 acres of subtropical terrain, waterways and miles of trails.
The park offers wonderful hiking, bicycling, horseback riding as well as water sports like canoeing and kayaking. Riverbend is a unique blend of outdoor activity opportunities lending itself to both young and seniors.
The self-guided trails are easy to follow and you will want to stop along the way to take in the beautiful views and reflections along the Loxahatchee River and the bird life that make it their home.
There are Chickee huts with picnic tables and grills available for your picnic outings. The park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset and has a visitors center equipped with trail maps and equipment.
If you are a visitor or longtime resident of Florida, visiting Riverbend Park is a wonderful blend of nature and sporting activities.
On my usual evening walk in Green Cay Wetlands, I stopped to look at a Anhinga bird. The birds are common in South Florida and swim underwater to capture fish. They are comical as they sit on a stump or tree spreading their wings in the air to dry. I noticed the beautiful pattern on its wings against its black body and thought this might be my close-up shot.
Scary, crazy and tons of fun, Lincoln Road put on their Halloween Party that was a wild and fun evening. From infants to seniors and pets, the costumes were innovative and crazy. The crowds had a wild time interacting with each other and photographing the craziest of them all.
Some photo’s I managed to take surrounded by crowds of goblins, witches and really way out creative homemade and wird outfits and characters.
BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS HONORS PHOTOGRAPHER Patricia Durr-Turo FROM The USA.
LONDON October 28, 2013 – Amateur photographer Patricia Durr-Turo of the USA was presented with the 8th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Nominee in two categories, Photojournalism and Silhouette at a prestigious Nomination & Winners Photo Show. The live online ceremony webcast Saturday, October 19, 2013 was attended by photography fans in 75 countries that logged on to see the climax of the industry’s most important event for black and white photography.
The awards international Jury included captains of the industry from the Tate in London, Heffel Fine Art, FoMu Fotomuseum, FTM Advisory, Camera Work, Art Stage Singapore, Aeroplastics Contemporary, Galerie Baudoin Lebon in Paris, to Fratelli Alinari in Florence who honored Spider Fellows with 246 coveted title awards and 938 nominees in 14 categories.
“It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 9,456 entries we received this year,” said Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. Patricia Durr-Turo’s “Umbrellas,”an exceptional image entered in the Silhouette category and “The State Fair Lady”entered in the Portraits, represents black and white photography at its finest, and we’re pleased to present her with the title of “Nominee.”Portraits
BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography.
Contact: Patricia Durr-Turo
Category: Silhouette “Umbrellas”
Website Link: thespiderawards.com/pre-party.html
Yesterday some hundred photographers participated in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk. These walks were scattered around South Florida but The Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk is organized every year at locations around the world. I choose to go to one of my favorite places in Miami, Wynwood Art District. Several models arrived with outfits from th 80’s, the theme for the event. Our models did a great job modeling for this group in the sun until late in the afternoon. It is always difficult to take photo’s with such a large group, but meeting photographers from around Florida and dinner at one of the local restaurants makes it worth the effort.
There is one woman that I have photographed before who arrive with an unexpected guest. She managed to make being pregnant look wonderful and sexy. She is colorful and full of fun, so forgive me if I added a few more photo’s of her then anyone else.
I’m always looking for the perfect Latin look.
And there always has to be Black & White.
This little guy just could’t wait until it was over.
As we flew over Iowa and I looked down at the patchwork of cornfields, I wondered what would keep our interest on our drive back to Atlanta.
The harvest was a few weeks away so the farms were devoid of activity and people as is often the case in farm regions I have been in. I had my ITunes ready for a long drive with my favorite music.
We picked up some fruit, fresh bread and pastries at a wonderful and very large farmers market in Des Moines and purchased cold cuts and drinks at a local market for a picnic lunch. We might not find a restaurant on the way back and we thought we would find a nice area to stop for lunch. As it turned out we drove down a small country road and enjoyed our lunch along side a corn filed. Well how appropriate was that.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as dull as I had expected. The beauty of the barns, silo’s and movement in the sky was mesmerizing. As in other trips where we encountered farmland or vineyards, it is quite, peaceful and farmers have meticulous respect for the land. The clean shiny silos and white barns provided breaks of interest as well as the human element that sometimes gets lost in long distances of endless landscape.
The striking difference from the farmland I’m use to seeing in Switzerland, France, Germany and even Italy was the flat the terrain. Yet the deep green corn reaching for the sun, white barns with silver metal roofs glistening in the sunlight, and round metal silos created unique images.
Life seems timeless, as if nothing had changed.
Yet we know that these farms are hi-tech and provide food around the world. Iowa produces more corn than most countries and corn can be found in many products such as animal feed, starches, oils, sweeteners and even ethanol (Iowa Corn Growers Association).
I have found that if you look hard enough, you often find beauty in unexpected places.
My print was selected In an international juried contest conducted by Ocean Wave Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale. Fifteen hundred photographs were submitted and 45 were selected. It will be exhibited at Artist Haven Gallery in the same location and then moved to Ocean Wave Gallery until November 1st. If you are in the area, stop in and visit this exciting exhibition.
Ocean Wave Gallery/Art Haven Gallery
2755 East Oakland Park Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Surrounded by Pilatus, Birgenstock, Stanserhorn and Rigi mountains, Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne. Steamboat traveling along the lake float by deep green hills, villages with half-timbered-houses and grand mountain views. Ancient guildhalls, churches and frescoed buildings create a romantic and colorful cityscape.
Covered bridges span the River Reuss that flows through the town. The most famous being the medieval Chapel Bridge, the pride of the city and one of the oldest covered wooden bridges in Europe. In the summer white pink and red geraniums run along the entire bridge on both sides and swans swim gracefully along making even the tourist activity and bustling city seem moody and peaceful. The bridge was restored to its original state after a fire destroyed some of the medieval paintings that adorn its wood ceiling.
The Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus) is one of the largest transport museums in Europe. Switzerland is well known for its efficient transport system and the history of it can be viewed in this modern attractive museum. It offers many hands on activities for children both inside and on the grounds. Next to the museum, in the same complex, is the Hans Erni Museum, one of Switzerland most prominent artists. He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2009 and is still painting. I have heard that sometimes he can be seen strolling around talking to visitors.
Cafes are scattered all along the cobble stone streets of the city and the lake, a favorite place to have lunch or dinner in the summer time. We ate at the Old Swiss House known for its schnitzel cooked in a pound of butter. I was reluctant to order it, as I’m not a fan of butter, instead I ordered venison, which was outstanding. After tasting my husband’s schnitzel, I knew that I would have to go back. It was tender without a strong butter flavor, fresh farm butter makes a difference. The restaurant was built in 1858 and the interior is cozy and formal with carved wood, stained glass and paintings. The prices are steep, but the quality is worth it. www.oldswisshouse.ch
Lucerne with its ancient buildings is a modern city hosting many business events in its large conference center. It has an active nightlife with bars and restaurants offering entertainment with international, as well as traditional menus. Restaurant prices run the gamut from very expensive to reasonable.
Only about 1 hour from Basel and Zürich, it can be a day trip or better yet stay a few days to get the full experience of this stunning city.
There was no doubt what we would choose for lunch during our visit to the San Remo food market. The markets in Italy are a visual and gastronomic experience. Red, ripe, sweet tomatoes, huge bunches of basil, garlic and fresh olives filled our basket. How better to enjoy a beautiful village but to experience the local markets and fresh food. Next to the bread stand for fresh crusty Italian bread and a stop at the cheese vendor left only one more thing to buy. On the way back home we visited our new friend in the local store to purchase a bottle of wine from the vineyards of Dolceaqua. We were climbing the stairs to our apartment in anticipation of a lovely fresh tomato salad with basil, garlic and olive oil from the local olive groves. This is one of the advantages of renting an apartment rather then staying in a hotel. We were happy and content enjoying our lunch and the view of the village. How better to spend a vacation in a beautiful village experiencing the local markets and fresh food.
All aboard at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Luzern, Switzerland. The largest transport museum in Europe with hands on displays. I’m still trying to figure out which one of these signs I should follow.
Hiking in the mountains is invigorating as we pass people parasailing, white water rafting, motorcycling, mountain biking, horse back riding, all taking advantage of the cool days in the mountains during the summer.
The sunsets paint the sky in tones of red, orange and yellow. Thunderstorms echo throughout the mountains and when they leave they seem to say “I’m sorry for making such a fuss, so I’ll leave you with a rainbow”.
The valleys spring into life as flowers turn the hills and meadows into shades of blue, yellow, red and white and their sweet aromas penetrate the air. Restaurants are crowded with guests enjoying eachothers company surrounded by flower covered houses. The Summer!
In the Autumn the trees turn yellow and orange and the cows are escorted down to the valley as the air becomes crisp and snow threatens.
Farmers rush to sickle down grass and stack the hay in barns for the winter. Cows, sheep, goats and horses are now grazing in the valley, their last chance to roam free.
The vines are heavy with deep blue and yellow grapes ready to be harvested. The wine fests begin!
I love looking out over Serneus as I hike down from the mountain and the Summer gives way to Autumn colors. I think this might be my favorite time of the year. The Autumn!
At the first sign of snow the villagers move into action preparing for the arrival of the ski season. Anticipation builds up to the lifts opening. I’m sorry to see the Autumn come to a close, but one of my favorite seasons is around the corner.
My favorite moment is when I walk out of my bedroom in the morning and view the light snow peacefully falling over the village from my picture window. The church steeple reaches out to greet the soft flakes and the ski run begins to take shape behind it.
Klosters turns from green to white with ice clutching the edges of the mountain streams.
Thoughts of skiing alone down wide open slopes with views that carry you to the ends of the earth begins to sweep over me. The Winter!
In early Spring the snow covered peaks provide a backdrop for the green rolling hills against a deep blue shy and the contrast is amazing, yes this is my favorite season.
The blue and green colors of the lakes are translucent as the sun penetrates the water.
Mountain streams are swollen as rushing water flows from the glaciers. Deer can be spotted along the hills nibbling at the new grass after a long winter. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The Spring!
I can’t quite make up my mind which is my favorite season.
Devils Garden is about 17 miles southeast of Escalante, Utah. Formations of sandstone worn down by the ages are called hoodoos. They create an unreal landscape in tones of red and terra cotta surrounded by white cliffs.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Escalante that was very nice and well-appointed. The owner provided us with hand drawn maps and suggestions of where to go, what time to be there and what we would see. We may have missed this wondrous sight if it were not for him.
Driving to Devils Garden in itself is an experience. The road winds down steep cliffs with hairpin turns without guard rail protection down to flat plains. Having lived in Switzerland for a long time, you might think I would be use to traveling on roads like this, but I was holding my breath all the way.
We left before sunrise after it had rained with dark clouds hovering over white cliffs. I was already getting anxious at what we might find. The drive was harrowing until we came to a long gravel road. We stopped and got out of the car to take in the view before us. Dark clouds hung over a very desolate but unique landscape. We came upon a small parking lot, and just behind it, stretched out before us was an amazing sight. We were in Devils Garden, looking out at hoodoos in varying shapes and sizes.
The rain had left the earth smooth and glistening. The clouds opened up and closed from time to time looking very threatening and the landscape stretched out as far as the eye could see. According to Wikipedia the gardens are estimated to be about 166 to 174 million years old. Dinosaurs fossils and tracks have been discovered and you can imagine them roaming around this surreal scene. It looked like the creation of visual effects artists.
At first we stood motionless in amazement, feeling like we were on sacred ground. It was so quite, we were alone, and it took a few minutes to acclimate ourselves to this strange sight. We began to walk around the arches and stone formations. They are shaped by erosion and wind sandblasting the surface creating smooth rounded shapes. As we walked, we felt as if we were on another planet and our lonely foot prints were the first to travel this ground. Our landlord for the evening had given us good advice to arrive very early in the morning to see the sunrise, except maybe we were even luckier to have arrived after a rainfall.
Photography Miami had a photo shoot at the Little Havana Festival, which is held the last Friday night of each month. I thought, well we will go for about an hour and then go to dinner somewhere, a good excuse to go into Miami. We arrived at 5:30 PM and left at 10:30 PM and probably would have stayed longer if it were not for an hour ride home.
Typical of the Latin culture, it was electric with music and dancing in the streets. As we have found in the past on our excursions to Little Havana the people are great and ambassadors for their neighborhood. Take time to talk to the locals, artists and vendors displaying their work on the streets and visit the galleries.
Around 8PM 1,000 bikers came rolling down Calle Ocho some wearing costumes, music blasting from their bikes, hooting and waving all the way. It was an amazing site and for a minute I thought I was in Beijing again.
We went to a Cuban restaurant with our group who helped us select a typical Cuban dish, with the waiter chiming in to help us make our selection. Later we were back out on the street listening to the Latin beat and watching people dancing.
The crowds got larger towards the evening, so I suggest getting the full flavor, go about 7PM and be sure to visit one of the many restaurants and galleries for a memorable evening in Little Havana
Some Street Photography
Authentic French cuisine prepared by chef owner Madame Caroline Poussardin in the style of Aix-en-Provence is a sweet find. The food is beautifully presented and an evening at Côté Gourmet is as if you are sitting in a lovely little village in the Provence. It is a family owned establishment where her husband runs the front of the restaurant making people feel as though they are in their dinning room. Côté Gourmet is a little bit of France in Miami Shores. As in many small restaurants in France, the chef and her husband enjoy talking to guests and making their dinning experience memorable. If you speak French, a big smile will come over their face and they will be delighted to communicate with you in their native language.
Fresh ingredients of the season are prepared by Chef Caroline in typically French country style with specials prepared such as crêpes on Wednesday evening and a special soirée dinner on Thursday. Serving lunch and if you should show up early in the morning and would like breakfast, she will accommodate you. A small menu is complimented with with daily specials and is a nice selection. When I tasted the polenta soup with shrimp, I was in France. The soup was seasoned perfectly, smooth and light, amazing for polenta. The lamb chops were prepared exactly as I had requested, rosé with chèvre sauce. And I couldn’t resist dessert; a warm pear tart with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream on a beautiful flaky crust was a perfect ending. The wine selections compliments the menu and you can enjoy it by the bottle or glass. I almost never order a three-course meal, as it is often too much food. But I made an exception in this case.
Madame et Monsieur ran two restaurants in Aix-en-Provance before moving to Miami to start a restaurant with their daughter. They have been serving their guests for 5 years in a very small local in a neighborhood adorned with interesting restaurants in Miami Shores. The atmosphere is typical of many small restaurants found all over the French countryside. Space for about 30 guests, it is decorated with white crisp tablecloths, white napkins tied with a large golden ribbon, fresh flowers and candles burning, creating a warm romantic atmosphere. When you walk into Côté Gourmet, you walk into France for an evening and you walk out feeling you have returned to your favorite little neighborhood place.
Having lived in Europe for many years, I must admit that finding a good French restaurant that doesn’t compromise itself and is unmistakably French was not easy to find. When it comes to maintaining the meaning of Provence French cuisine, Madame Caroline delivers exactly what you expect.
Côté Gourmet French Restaurant
9999 NE 2nd Avenue
Look for them on Facebook
In France and many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets that I have visited, the selection of spices always draws me to photograph the alluring colors and take in the wonderful aromas. I buy small packets, take them home, and enjoy trying them in meals that I prepare. They even encourage me to experiment with new exotic recipes. The best part is that it brings me back to the places I visited for the evening.
The “Village by the Sea” showed how big it was yesterday when thousands of people created a sea of green along Atlantic Ave for the St. Patrick Day Parade.
People waited for hours securing their places along the street complete with picnics and well-stocked coolers.
Dressed in costumes and adorned with green beads adults and kids cheered as the parade marched by.
The police, military, fire department, business community, and local bands as well as invited guest groups handed out hats, beads and candy to children scrambling to catch them.
The expressions on the kids faces and the families and friends who gathered for the event to enjoy the day together made it the most fun for me.
And of course the beer flowed well into the evening.
They came for a celebration and Delray presented a display well worth waiting for.
Photo’s of the people who joined in the celebration.
It is autumn and the sunflower fields have been newly plowed leaving about a foot of stocks protruding above ground.
The plows have made a pattern across the rolling hills emphasizing rows of yellow stocks contrasting with the brown earth.
The clouds roll over the landscape swallowing up the sun as they go. Rays of sun struggle to keep the earth lit and warm creating brilliant shadows over the hills.
It is so serene that you can hear a bird chirp or a roster crow.
It is stunning and I pull over alongside the road to take in the view and renew my love of the French countryside.
I am in the Chablis of the Burgundy region heading to the Jura. It is taking me longer then usual because I want to take mental pictures and also photograph these romantically beautiful scenes.
I want to be able to close my eyes and remember the light, shadows and shapes.
I sit there in my car and wonder who created this, where do they live, do they see the beauty that I see in what they must consider laborious, tiring work.
Do they know they have created a tableau that moves the senses and fills the mind with peace and wonderment.
How can I tell them that I appreciate their work of art.
Maybe by just recalling those autumn days with you.
Each evening as I walk through one of 3 wildlife preserves that are close to my home, I’m accompanied by a variety of colorful birds that linger on branches, fly though the air with effortless grace and fill the landscape with beauty.
The sounds of tropical birds create exotic music as I walk along the paths and cannels. They come and go during migration and you wonder where they are spending the winter and watch them return to nest to bring into the world their new born.
They become familiar and you look forward to seeing the flurry of activity that always seems to be in motion.
Meet some of these beautiful species that live in my neighborhood.