Swell Festival 2016 – part 2

On my last post I shared some of the sculptures featured in the Swell 2016 Sculpture Festival. As promised, here is a part two of my selection of images.

Swell Festival 2016 – part 1

Up before the sun and with a hit of caffeine, Hubby, Bundy and I were ready to head south to Currumbin, host to the 2016 Swell Sculpture Festival. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to experience the festival, fewer crowds and better light for taking photos. Bundy loves the festival, it is his chance to run around on the sand and meet a few new faces (or sniff new butts to put it in dog terms). Alphy the turtle is the big hit this year, as are the huge deck chairs but I really love the dog walker sculpture and the timber freight boxes lying on the sand. With so many sculptures I have decided to break up the photos and share them in two lots, you will see more of the dog walker and other wonderful works of art sometime next week.

Which one is your favourite?

Wordless Wednesday: Castle rock

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh Castle, historic fortress built on volcanic rock

Iconic photo tour of Edinburgh

My flight from Australia arrived early morning and to help my body get used to the different time zone I was determined to keep busy until the sun set. A walking tour of Edinburgh combined with photography advice seemed like the perfect way to adjust to UK time and enjoy the sights. My art teacher was also arriving that day so she and I had signed up to join a small walking tour of Edinburgh’s old town led by local photographer Will from Iconic Tours.

We met Will outside the main entrance of St Giles Cathedral where he took us through aperture and shutter priority, two settings that would make taking photographs easier without relying on auto. The clouds above us were ominous, the tour would go on regardless and Will had a plan if the weather really turned to shite. The technical aspect is not all that we learned, we were encouraged and guided to look at potential subjects from a different perspective.

The Royal Mile forms the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh’s old town, popular with tourists it is home to many shops selling whisky, fudge, tartan scarves, kilts and various other souvenirs. Groups of tourists following guides in kilts compete for prime position in front of the main sights, the sound of bagpipes being played fills the air and attracts the interest of happy snappers as does the various street performers now using the pedestrian zone as their stage. The red phone booths are perfect for experimenting with shutter speed, stopping people in their tracks with a fast shutter speed and creating a feeling of movement with a slower one. Here we also try using manual mode, previous experiments helps me understand the theory however the time it takes for me to capture the shot is longer and the experience a little frustrating.

As the main square fills with people we venture to quieter parts of town to hone our skills, such as the Council Chambers carpark, Advocates Close and Parliament Square. Will shows us a series of golden handprints in the footpath, recipients of the Edinburgh Award and we listen to him tell the tale of John Knox and his final resting place which is now a carpark near St Giles.

Getting off the Royal Mile and exploring the other parts of the old town is a must, Victoria Street is a colourful and beautiful part of the city lined with popular restaurants, bars and cafes. It is easy to see why it is so popular with photographers on instagram. Will recommended a few places for dinner and some cheap eats for lunch, sadly we never got there but it is something to look forward to on my next trip to Scotland, whenever that may be.

The Princes St Garden is a beautiful place to take a walk in spring, the tulips are in bloom and the garden beds are filled with vibrant colour. Viewing the castle from below the rock will give you an appreciation of the effort and engineering that went into creating such a formidable looking and enduring structure, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline.

Three hours well spent, the tour only cost $100AUD and in addition Will emailed a document containing all his tips and advice. Had I not signed up for the tour I probably would have found myself wandering aimlessly all afternoon and I would have missed all those wonderful photo opportunities.

Wordless Wednesday: So sweet

Merveilleux and Incroyables - cakes
Merveilleux and Incroyables – composed of meringue filled with whipped cream and rolled with generous crumbles of chocolate or nuts

Walking tour of Rome

Each time I’ve been to Rome there has been something new and different for me to see and experience and after three visits to this ancient city there is still so much more worth exploring. On our last trip in November 2015 I was hell bent of doing a walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere so I booked a private guided tour with expat Tiffany Parks, author of The Pines of Rome blog and contributor to The Bittersweet Life podcast to which I regularly listened in the lead up to our holiday. Tiffany is now an Italian citizen after living in Italy for ten years, she is a legitimate tour guide and in addition to sharing her knowledge and experience of Rome she has a relaxed manner and made us feel like welcome visitors, her walking tour was one of the highlights of our trip.

We met Tiffany near the ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina, a square that was home to Pompey’s theatre and is now home to a cat sanctuary. There were plenty of cats lazing about in the sun, although it was late autumn the temperature was mild and the skies were clear. Having only seen photos of Tiffany, I was worried that I would not recognise her however that wasn’t a problem and I am sure that we stood out among the locals. Neither of us had ever been through the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere neighbourhoods, it was fascinating to come face to face with things that I had only read about or seen on travel shows. We started in Trastevere, it is very close to the Largo di Torre Argentina and at first I was a little overwhelmed and wanted to absorb everything Tiffany was saying so my camera stayed put in my bag. I also felt as though I was intruding on the local’s Sunday morning by toting a large camera around and taking photos of everything. That said, I eventually relaxed and managed to take a few shots as we walked through the Jewish Ghetto, across the Tiber and in to Trastevere.

I will spare you the details of the tour, one, I can’t remember them all and two, there is plenty of information about these areas online including several posts on Tiffany’s blog. There were several memorable moments especially as we walked through the narrow alleyways in the Jewish Ghetto. As you look down at the cobblestones you will see memorials to the many victims of the Nazi occupation, look up to see the stone reliefs featuring the menorah and the Star of David on building walls. To see these things is an extremely sobering experience.

Once in Trastevere it is hard not to fall in love with the beautiful buildings covered in vines or the absence of thousands of tourists like us, the lack of heavy traffic is also a plus. Tiffany knows this area well and takes us to some of her favourite sights including well known churches such as Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria. Hubby isn’t a fan of churches but I love the art that is often contained within and these two churches are home to stunning mosaics and beautiful sculptures. Food is also very important to me when travelling, and Tiffany provided us with great tips for two lunch venues and a gelateria. It was a toss up between a pizzeria and Da Gildo for lunch, in the end the thought of eating authentic Roman gnocchi for lunch won us over followed by a visit to the gelateria for dessert before heading back across the river.

There are plenty of tour guides in Rome, some are legitimate and some are not. Tiffany was perfect for us and had I not been listening to the podcast she co-hosts then we probably would have settled for a small group tour. Both of us are so glad that we didn’t have to settle and if she is still doing private tours I recommend you consider booking some time with her when you’re in Rome.

I have tried to put as much information as I can in the image captions. If I miss anything or get something wrong please let me know.

Ciao!

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Hangover guaranteed

Europe2015-1010247
Wine this cheap can’t be good