Friday, April 10, 2009

Powerful Sights To See

Another travel blog:

Today was a day for a walking tour of the old town (Staré Mésto) of Prague—we headed out the apartment into the old town—only a couple blocks away.  Our first stop was the Old-New Synagogue (Staranová synagóga).  This is the oldest practicing synagogue in Europe (begun 1270) and was very interesting to see—it is fairly plain inside, but there is a lot of history for the Prague Jewish quarter and much of it is reflected here.  There is a very old banner, red, with the Star of David on it that was given to them by one of the past kings.  It is carried by 8 members of the congregation on the occasions of a royal visit to the Jewish Ghetto (no pictures allowed).  They also have a great clock tower that counts time backwards in honor of the fact that Hebrew is read right to left.  We then headed over to the old Jewish Cemetery (Starỳ Židovskỳ Hřbitov).  For a period of a couple hundred (439-1787) years the Jewish inhabitants of the city were not allowed to bury bodies outside of the city and were only allowed to use the small space within—the result is a very small cemetery, say a couple hundred feet on a side that has a couple thousand tombstones and then under each one can be up to 12 bodies—it is believed that there may be as many as 80,000 people who were buried there.  It was fascinating to visit.  Also attached to the cemetery is a converted synagogue (Pinkas Synagogue—Pinkasova synagóga) that lists on the walls the names of all of the Polish Jews killed during WWII.  It is a very humbling thing to see.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Did Someone Say Look Up?!?!?!

The year was 1530 and the Bebenhausen Monastery ceiling needed a little bit of primitive painted sunshine.  This is what they got :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Looking Up, Again

Once again, it is time to look up at and see what is above you!  While touring Eastern Europe we ended up in Prague which is a wonderful city to visit--though a bit hard to drive around in!  I found this ceiling in the castle--I like the patterns and the seeming randomness of the types of stone--it has been repaired several times over the years and they used whatever local stone they found each time.  It makes for a great patchwork of color and lines.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Different Perpective

Spain, 2005.  I have had the chance to photograph many beautiful churches around the work and the cathedral in Barcelona was no exception.  However, the pictures can start to look the same after a while so I start to experiment with points of view and perspective.  I was particularly happy with this one--this was taken from behind the altar looking up.  I like the flow of the picture and the altered point of view.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Purty Flowers, Netherlands Style



And back to The Netherlands again today :)


Though I was pretty sure that I was past the time, I headed down to Haarlem (ever wonder where that NY neighborhood got its name?!?! ) to see the bulb fields.  And I say a lot of fields, but no blooms.  Darn it.  I think that I missed it by about 3-4 weeks.  Ah well, a reason to come back someday.  Which I will, I really like it here.  I did find 3 or 4 very small plots in bloom and of course took pictures   Iris and Alliums.
I drove around looking at the country side for a while then headed up to the town of Spaarndam mentioned in my green guidebook and this was a great find.  It is a little tiny town perched along one of the dikes.  It also has a small number of houses on one side, but much is perched right up along top.  Also three locks in town and on the third is a statue to the little boy who put his finger in a hole in the dyke all night too keep it from flooding!  The town was a lot of fun though and I am really glad that I headed up there.  They are also having some sort of a festival in the not too distant future (after I leave unfortunately) but several sail boats had shown up and had blocked in one of the locks—the one around the town square.  People were out on the boats just talking and enjoying the company.  I actually had to wait while the pedestrian draw bridge was raised to get a couple of the boats in.