MALTA: A NARROW ESCAPE FROM IT ALL

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Birzebugga’s narrow harbor at sundown

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Vittoriosa’s narrow natural harbor at sunset

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One of Tarxien’s narrow streets decorated for Feast Day

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A narrow “road” (now only a footpath) in Tarxien

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Blue Grotta’s narrow inlet on Malta’s southwest coast

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Fort Saint Angelo from the Valletta side of the (Ok-not-so-narrow) Grand Harbor

This week it’s a photo essay. Or it’s Silent Friday.

A couple of reasons: First, I had no wifi (so…sorry for not answering comments or commenting on your blogs). Then, my laptop broke–the touchpad malfunctioned, making it impossible to type without windows opening and weird stuff hopping around (I still think it was a virus, but the fixit folks here said no, it’s the touchpad at 125 euros and had to be ordered and would take four days). Third, I finally got off my duff and rented a car after some reluctance (don’t know why, but there was some kind of…was it fear? Does getting old make you fearful. Or is it cautious? Felt like fear.), and I only have a few days left to see the rest of the island. Fourth, this is the last day before the new DP Photo Challenge appears. Fifth, if I write something, it’ll take me forever. Sixth…well, maybe there’s only five.

Find more DP Photo Challenge entries here: Narrow

Find more entries to Lucile’s Photo Rehab here:   Photo Rehab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANOTHER SIDE OF MALTA: DAY ONE

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AT TWO MINUTES BEFORE SIX IN THE MORNING, the steeple bells on the Lunzjata Parish Church chime ten times. I make a mental note: “What the…?” I am holed up in a 500-year-old house with stone walls two feet thick, tiny windows to contain the weather outside, an arched vaulted ceiling 25 feet high, and staircases chiseled by hand from massive slabs of stone. The double front doors, a thick wooden affair meant to keep out more than merely weather, seals itself with a massive steel rod which holds the door shut, that no SWAT team could ever penetrate (without using C-4). And just inside those doors is another set of glass doors: these, meant to allow light when the wooden doors are left ajar, and also to contain the weather—heat in winter, a cool breeze in summer. All the windows, as well as other doors that lead to outside areas, like the walled courtyard or the rooftop terraces, have wooden shutters on the inside. It can get pretty dark in here.

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PRAGUE: UP CLOSE & PERSONAL

1 ASTRO CLOCK 2814 E1.jpgTHE TRUE ORIGIN OF PRAGUE’S ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK HAS BEEN SHROUDED for centuries. No one knew or remembered who had created the thing, and many myths about the clock abound. The most famous legend is that it was built in the first decade of the 1400’s by a master clockmaker named Hanus. The city councilors loved the clock so much that when they feared Hanus intended to build another clock for a nearby town, they had him blinded, so he couldn’t. Apparently, humans have always been so very human. You simply just don’t get to sit at the top of the food chain by being a pussy is the obvious lesson we keep handing down to the next generation.

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13 GEMS OF PRAGUE: LOOK UP

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A WHITENESS OF SWANS (the actual venery term for a “group” of them) wings its way in silhouette downriver at sunset. When you roam around Prague, it’s a good idea to glance down and watch where you place your feet on the awkward and possibly dangerous cobblestone streets and walkways. But if you lift your head and look up, incredibly beautiful scenery abounds.

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10 FUN WINDOWS in BLARICUM: PART I

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YOU MIGHT WONDER JUST WHY THERE IS NO STARBUCKS IN BLARICUM. And no other franchised eateries. And no hotel chains. The busiest place in town, and favorite local gathering spot, is Ijssalon de Hoop, a family-run, home-made ice cream parlor, operated in the same location for generations. People line up all the way around the corner sometimes and cordially wait their turn to buy a cone and top it with real whipped cream; then they sit outside—in sun, in rain, in snow—at the over-sized picnic table or atop antique, metal milk churns and discuss the daily news, or the weather, which constantly changes from blistering sun to cloudy to chilly to monsoon downpour and back to sun in one afternoon. Or, they debate just how their garbage truck works, and they wonder if their glass actually gets recycled into three different colors—um…I made that last part up. Continue reading

PURE GARBAGE: OLD HOLLAND

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Nature in its wild state in the burg of Blaricum, in North Holland

When someone says Holland, you probably think Amsterdam. When someone says Amsterdam, you probably think expensive. But if you want to see expensive, there is a little village, an atavistic throwback nestled in the analog past, perhaps an hour out of Amsterdam.

Blaricum–the most expensive town you’ve never heard of:

The worst thing about Blaricum–or, the BEST thing, maybe–is that it is not touristy at all. There is nothing to see. There is nothing to do. There is no reason for you to go to Blaricum…well, unless you want to try the homemade ice cream or find folks who don’t speak English or see a village with no canals or watch locals riding bikes in a thunderstorm as though it were a bright sunny day. Or visit the closest thing to Hobbiton. So, don’t expect anything near Amsterdam if you wander off the beaten track one day and find yourself in Blaricum.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:    “Blaricum (Dutch pronunciation: ( listen)) is a municipality and village in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands. It is part of the region of Gooiland. It is known for its many monumental farm buildings, local cafes and restaurants, nature, several annual community events and extensive up-market residential areas.

According to statistics published by the Dutch land registry office in February 2011, Blaricum is the most expensive location to purchase a house in the Netherlands. The average home in Blaricum costs €800,000 and has risen an average of 12% over the last year.[5] Many Dutch celebrities live here, including Rene FrogerAnita MeijerPaul de LeeuwGordonJerney KaagmanJohn de MolAnita Witzier and Marco Borsato.”

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Blaricum cafe in unique architectural building

So one day, I look out my window and discover I’m in Blaricum, the high-end burg of Holland. Garbage is what I see. Of course, I see the monumental farm buildings; the local cafes; the extensive up-market residences; and the nature, including an ostrich and a llama–you can tell it’s a llama and not an alpaca because llamas have big, banana-shaped ears…which you cannot see in these photos, so you’ll probably argue it’s an alpaca.  But what strikes me as most interesting in Blaricum is the garbage. You can tell it’s marvelous garbage. High-class, high-end trash. What garbage ought to look like everywhere. And what trash collectors, maybe, should look like everywhere.

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One of the high-end homes of Hobbiton…er…Blaricum, with thatched roof and dormers

But let’s talk trash:

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First, garbage is separated before pickup. Here, this green container just for glass is separated by color of glass (notice the metal below the container).

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A local lady dumps her glass into the green container. A crane picks up the green container, but the green container contains a much larger container below (the metal in previous photo is the top of the larger container)

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The driver dumps the trash into the truck from his forward position

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The lady  wanders away to her upscale home. When empty, the container is lowered.

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And the larger container below the green container slides neatly below the surface, so we don’t ever see a mess. The llama chews upscale grass (you think it’s an alpaca, don’t you?).

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The lady on the bike rides away, the llama continues with dinner, and the crane rises

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The driver swings the crane into place, the llama wonders: “What the BEEP, why do those people think I’m an alpaca?”

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The llama returns to dinner, the crane is secured on the trailer, the driver descends  a la deus ex machina

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The trash disappears, the lady disappears, the llama disappears. Soon, the truck disappears. Wealthy people know how to live well…and apparently, how to separate and disappear garbage from their lives.

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Lopsided, perhaps, but banana-shaped ears. FYI: You can trust me. I will never lie to you. Oh, and by the way, I have a bridge I’m looking to sell…cheap.

You can find other entries in the WP Discover Challenge here: Analog

You can find other entries to WP Photo Challenge here: Pure

You can find other entries to Lucile’s Rehab here:    Photo Rehab

 

ANY NUMBER OF REASONS TO VISIT BISBEE, ARIZONA

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Check out these numbers: remember when gas was 33 cents a gallon?

 

ON DECEMBER 15, 1844, JOHN WESLEY HEATH WAS BORN in Ohio. When he was still young, his family moved to Texas. Texas is where Heath became a long-horn cattle rustler. He then discovered robbing people and stores was much easier and less risky. Heath married a couple of times. His first wife disappeared rather mysteriously. His second wife gave him three children.
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SPARE ME: DISASTER IN BANGKOK

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting to discover what faux pas occurred at the Bangkok Airport Transit Desk during my most-recent trip, you can now breathe easy.

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A GOOD DISASTER MOVIE ALWAYS BEGINS WITH A YOUNG CHILD, or family, having a good time in their own back yard, uplifting music trilling blithely away in the background—innocence personified. My disaster story begins with an innocent quick trip to Bhutan. Continue reading