Armchair Travel – September 17, 2009

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday I took a look at my post for September 17 2009 and discovered that it was a Thursday that year. We had been in Rome for a year at that point. As I noted in the post the Sunday before we had headed out to the EUR district of Rome but the Fascist architecture and early closing hours made for a less than stimulating excursion. However a stop at San Paolo fuori le mura (St Paul’s Outside the Walls) revealed its many treasures including a rather unusual Holy Water stoop that caught my eye.

As with previous posts from the period this was a transfer from the old blog on BlogSpot and it wasn’t seamless.  However I thought a revisit would be in order.

Willy Or Won't He

Last Sunday was the second time I had stopped in at San Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls). It was an unscheduled visit because originally the plan had been to spend the afternoon at the Museo di Civita Romano in the EUR. The area was built with the intention of celebrating 30 years on fascism with a grand exposition but left incomplete because of the war. The buildings are Fascist architecture at its most grandiose – colonnades, broad flights of stairs and monumental decorations. The whole area is saved from sterility by the greenery and surrounding – unkempt – park lands. And we had plenty of time to wander around because as we discovered the Museo closes at 1330 on a Sunday and we arrived at 1300 – duh! name one other museum that closes on a Sunday afternoon?

Since it’s on the subway line back…

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Armchair Travel – Musings

On travel pictures and Cap Sounion

Two things have been keeping me from posting this past week. The first was a problem with my left eye that made looking at a computer screen difficult for any length of time. I was a bit concerned that it was the result of my cataract surgery but a visit to my optometrist and things were cleared up. Turns out my tear ducts are producing butter when they should be making olive oil! Don’t ask!

My 2009 BIG MAC – photo taken with my equally as old Canon IXUS 870IS. Both old but much like myself still working after a fashion.

Second I fired up my old Big Mac! A 27” iMac I bought back in 2009 in Italy and used until I bought a Mac Book sometime in 2012 then the iPad in 2013. Yes there is a trend here but I find Laurent’s charge that I have too many electronics a gross exaggeration. Oh did I mention the iPhone and my trusty old iPod? But I, as usual, digress. Upon entering the password (I remembered it!!!!) I suddenly had access to the three external hard drives that are linked to it and more photos/videos/goodies than you can imagine. And that includes photos that I took on floppy discs (remember floppy discs?) with my first digital camera of our trip down the Danube and on our three day cruise of the Venetian lagoon in a fishing boat.

My floppy disc digital camera. It was awkward but it was State of the Art in 1999 – and frankly no more awkward than trying to take a photo with an iPad.

There was a succession of digital cameras after that, each one a little better than the last. Those was replaced by the iPhone camera – and honestly when I compare the quality of the images I find that in many cases the old Canon took better pictures. I’m not talking from an artistic point of view – I’ve never been good at framing etc – but for clarity and detail.

I wasn’t big on taking pictures when I started travelling back in 1966. I didn’t own a camera and people spent too much time taking pictures to really enjoy what was happening around them. I’m not sure when that changed – perhaps with the advent of digital cameras though a look through actual Kodachrome photo albums suggest that there were a goodly number of pictures take in Mexico, Egypt and Chicago pre-digital.

However back in the days of film and processing we were a little more parsimonious with our photo taking. It cost money so you wanted to make sure that shot was a good and, hopefully, memorable one. With digital we (I say we assuming that many other people are on the same wave-length) tend to take multiple pictures of the same thing, just in case. Which means you end up with three, four or more identical shots. Then when you look at them in PhotoShop you face the dilemma of deciding which is the best – or what is worst you end up keeping them all. Another dilemma is looking at them 20 years on and trying to remember just where the hell you were when you took that church interior in 2000 – was it Durstein or Regensburg?

Hmmm… perhaps I shouldn’t have powered up that old Mac!

In the subtitle I mention Cap Suonion at the southern most tip of the Attica peninsula. While looking through one of the many folders entitled Athens I came across a series of very short videos I had taken of sunset looking out over the Aegean at 20:40 on the 14th of March 2008. I’m planning to put together a video of the sequence I took from the steps of the Temple of Poseidon but in the meantime thought I’d share this brief view of the sun setting over Patroklos Island. I do suggest turning the sound down as the microphone on the Canon was very sensitive.

The word for September 6th is:
Dilemma /diˈlemə,dīˈlemə/: [noun]
1.1 A situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.
1.2 A difficult situation or problem.
1.3 An argument in logic forcing an opponent to choose either of two unfavourable alternatives.
Early 16th century (denoting a form of argument involving a choice between equally unfavorable alternatives): via Latin from Greek dilēmma, from di- ‘twice’ + lēmma ‘premise’.

Arm Chair Travel – Granada

In November 2013 we head back to Rome to say hello to friends there, revisit old haunts, and visit a few that we had missed when we lived there. Of course all it did was whet our appetite for more but the lure of a Mediterranean cruise on the Azamara Quest was before us. Our final destination was London via Sorrento, Trepani, Barcelona, Valencia, Gibraltar, Seville, Granada, Madrid and Paris. (SIGH!)

Though each place had it’s charms the one that intrigued us most was Granada. On more than one occasion we have thought that a return visit was in order. So for my first look back from the comfort of my armchair (and with a puppy on my lap) I give you a visit to that jewel of the Sierra Nevadas – the Alhambra.

Note: the post was original done on Blogspot and then transferred to WordPress – I have tried to tidy up the formatting. The transfer was not without its flaws.

Willy Or Won't He

This little volume was created in 1240 to serve as a travel guide for Frederick II on his visit to the area around Napoli. It extols the virtues of the soothing thermal waters of the region.

There is nothing more helpful when planning a trip than a travel guide – and there have been travel guides around since Eve and Adam departed the Garden of Eden. I recall on a visit to the Augustinian Library being shown a 13th century manuscript extolling the virtues of the waters of Pozzuoli near Napoli created for a royal visitor  complete with illustrations. Of course there were no end to the travel guides written for the gilded youth of the Renaissance and Enlightenment as they did the Grand Tour. And American writers of the 19th and early 20th century flooded the bookshops with tales of innocents abroad. And in our own day we’ve seen…

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The Roads Oft Travelled

There are so many things that have changed over the last six months – some for the good, others to the less good (hey work with me here! I’m trying to stay postive!). For some of us one of the “less good” has been the travel restrictions. Laurent and I are, as are many of our friends, travellers if not by nature certainly by habit. And we haven’t travelled since September, unless you consider the jaunt to Moncton in February as “travel” – and we don’t!

However future travel has now become an uncertainty. Word on the Rialto says that cruising – oh grow up! – will be restricted until at least 2022. And given the news on happenings on cruise ships in the last week or two I’m not sure I would want to bob around the high seas in a metal tube right now. Nor would I – who have spent half my life in the air (hey I’m being serious here!) – want to be hurtling through the clouds in another metal tube. In spite of recent reports about the low risk of COVID-19 transmission on airplanes I just wouldn’t be comfortable. In my past life I was on an aircraft three or four times a week but I have never been a “comfortable” flyer. What risk there is would only add to the tension and nerves. They don’t like it when you stand up a scream “We’re all going to die!” And that’s even before take-off. They didn’t like it then and probably even less now.

So what to do? Well staycations to discover our own Province are one answer. Plus we are fortunate here that we have three other provinces, each with their own charms, in our “bubble” and a trip off-Island is possible. We’ve done the first and thoughts of the second are being mulled over.

There is also the possibility of just being an Armchair Traveller! Revisiting places we’ve been by going through the 1000s and I do mean 1000s of pictures on various drives – you know the old back-up of the back-up of the back-up of the originals – and recalling sites and sensations that may well have slipped my mind. Perhaps writing about many of those wonderful places that I neglected to highlight at the time. Or mining the past; looking back over thirteen years of entries and reblogging a few of the post from more memorable places we’ve been.

I think I’ll start tomorrow by revisiting a destination both Laurent and I remember as being one of the highlights of a wonderful trip back in November 2013: Granada.

The words for August 27th are:
Armchair /ˈärmˌCHer/: [1. noun 2. adjective]
1. A comfortable chair, typically upholstered, with side supports for a person’s arms.
2. Lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity eg: Armchair traveller
1630s, from arm + chair. Another old name for it was elbow-chair (1650s). Adjectival sense, in reference to “criticism of matters in which the critic takes no active part,” is from 1886.
A Google search reveals much discussion as to whither the adjective is pejorative as it seems to have originally been intended. Myself I have often enjoyed “armchair travelling” while planning a trip and see nothing the matter with it in times like this.

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