Posted by: travelrat | October 21, 2018

Books

DSC_0001

Guess who my favourite author is? 

‘If you want to keep your books and your friends, never lend the former to the latter’ (Anon.)

Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators’ (Stephen Fry)

I have to admit to owning a Kindle. It’s really handy while travelling, or even waiting for a bus, or the doctor or something. But, I still have a soft spot for the printed book; I like the feel of it, sometimes the smell … although I can’t afford the sumptuous leather binding that the ‘upper classes’ used to go for.

I’ve often visited stately homes and such, and seen the vast libraries complete with wall-to-wall books. And, I’ve often wondered … did they ever read them all, or were they just for show? My old teacher often said she could usually judge a person’s character by the books on their shelves. She’d either have to go to the upstairs landing to see mine … or base her judgement on my CD and DVD collection.

Maybe they did read them all? I have nothing like the space in which to keep everything I read; that’s why, when asked if I use the Public Library, I reply:

‘Of course I do! There’s no way I could afford to buy all I read, and I have nowhere to store it if I had!’

I often receive books as presents. I read, and enjoy them all, and I’ll keep the best of them. But, sometimes, when I’ve finished them, I’ll donate them to the Public Library They’ve suffered some rather nasty budget cuts in recent years, so they’re always gratefully received.

It may seem, at first, a rather shabby way to treat a gift … but I think the giver would rather I shared it than have it forgotten, and gathering dust on my shelves.

Advertisements
Posted by: travelrat | October 18, 2018

Home Visit

Miltenberg 1

Miltenberg: 5th April 2018

Another quaint mediaeval (those are words I’ve been using a lot lately) town to walk around, but the last of the rather confusing series of ‘-burgs’ and ‘-bergs’ we just visited. Thank goodness for copious notes, and date-stamps on my photographs!

The main object of today’s visit was the Home Hosting, where small groups of us visited German families who served us coffee and cake, and told us something of their way of life.  An excellent idea, I thought; how often do people come back from holiday, and haven’t really met with any local people who weren’t waiters or tour guides?

Klaus and Helga

We were assigned a charming retired couple, Klaus and Helga Berger, who lived in a lovely house on the riverbank.  We spent an hour admiring their garden, and enjoying their company … and, of course, the refreshments. And, later, they and their grandchildren were outside on their patio, waving to our ship as it passed.

Posted by: travelrat | October 16, 2018

Delhi Rickshaw Ride: Video

Rickshaws

Delhi: 23rd September 2018.

I’ve already mentioned the manic traffic in Delhi, and wondered how anyone gets to where they need to be when they need to. If you drive, you can only give the wildest estimate of when you’ll be at your destination; likewise if you take a bus or a taxi.

The quickest way to get around is by rickshaw; strictly speaking, a trishaw. Originally, a rickshaw was man-hauled, but such a conveyance is now illegal. If there’s the slightest gap in the traffic, the rickshaw-walah will plunge through it. It can get a bit unnerving for the passengers, but I suppose you’d get used to it.

Best of all, it makes a superb camera platform, from which you can, it you wish, record the everyday street life. It might be thought a bit intrusive, but almost everyone who saw my camera smiled and waved, so I assume they were OK with it.

Posted by: travelrat | October 14, 2018

Crowds

It’s a few years since I picked a book off the library shelves, attracted by the fact that it dealt with two of my favourite subjects, mountaineering and photography, but also by the unusual title. ‘Many People Come. Looking, Looking’ by the late Galen Rowell. It’s taken from something told to him by a Tibetan monk:

‘Many people come, looking, looking. No good. Some people come, see. Good.’

There are many places around the world where ‘many people come, looking, looking’, and we often hear the phrase that a place is being ‘loved to death’.  A couple of blogs I’ve read recently mentioned experiences being spoilt by the presence of too many visitors. But, in all cases, the bloggers were honest enough to wonder if they were actually part of the problem?

Taj Mahal 2

A far cry from some magazine articles, written by so-called ‘travellers’, who get rather sniffy towards mere ‘tourists’. I’d say they have as much right to come and see the sight as I have, even if they just came to ‘look’ … I only get annoyed when the owner of the ‘Disgusting Shirt of the Year’ comes into my viewfinder. But, you only need, usually, to walk a few paces to avoid the ‘beer bellies and baseball caps’. You may not be able to exclude the crowds completely but, for instance, at the Taj Mahal, I was able to ensure that the majority of people in my pictures were Indian. I think that having people in my picture added to, rather than distracted from it. And, maybe it showed the height of the esteem in which it’s held.

Likewise, the Giant Buddha, at Leshan, in China. I needed those crowds swarming up the steps to show how colossal the thing was.

DCIM100GOPRO

Some places have been forced to restrict entry because of the sheer weight of numbers; my solution is, if possible avoid the peak times. That’s why I rarely go on holiday in August. The time of day is important, too. Many is the time we’ve had an early start ‘ … so we can get there before the crowds arrive’. For photographic purposes, the light’s usually better, too.

Posted by: travelrat | October 11, 2018

Rothenburg Video

Rothenburg 5

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: 4th April 2018

How do I say more about Rothenburg without repeating myself? Some video might do it!

 

 

Posted by: travelrat | October 9, 2018

Delhi Day Tour

Delhi: 23rd September 2018.

This afternoon, we’re going to Agra, but first, we’re going to see some sights in Delhi, including the stuff we missed out on yesterday, due to the late arrival of our flight.

Jama Masjid Mosque

Our first call was at the Jami Masjid Mosque. Although the main religion of India is Hinduism, this wasn’t always the case. In the 16th to 18th Centuries, the country was ruled by the Mughals, who were Muslims. The most famous ruler was the emperor Shah Jahan, after whom many an Indian restaurant in this country is named. He bears responsibility for this, and many other grand buildings we’re going to see this week.

Many Muslims left India after the Partition of 1947 for the newly-created country of Pakistan; but some remained.

At the foot of the imposing stairway to the mosque waited a fleet of pedal-powered rickshaws to pedal us around the narrow streets of the district. The ride was far more unnerving than the one we took in Beijing a couple of years ago. This guy took his machine into all sorts of potentially hazardous situations, and it’s remarkable that so many of them survive.

Rickshaw Ride

By contrast, the Gandhi cremation site was relatively calm and peaceful, in spite of the fact that Indians and tourists from all over the world visit … even make a pilgrimage there. Before it was diverted, the Yamuna river used to flow close by, so the Mahatma’s ashes could be cast into its water, to eventually be carried into the sacred Ganges. There’s a permanent flame burning on the site, surrounded by beds of orange flowers. That is probably all he wanted.

Gandhi Cremation Site

Then, we journeyed down the Expressway to Agra. It seems just as disorganised as the streets of Delhi. But, I guess you’d just get used to cows in the middle of the carriageway; I got the impression our driver would rather hit another road-user than a cow … not that he did, of course; we completed the week without a scratch on the bus. Likewise, you’d probably get used to motor bikes weaving in and out, sometimes with as many as five people up, or a tractor or something coming towards you on the hard shoulder.

DSC_0110

I thought of a tour guide in a Middle Eastern country … I can’t recall whether it was Egypt or Jordan …  many years ago:

‘There aren’t many accidents here … because you expect the other guy to do something stupid!’

Posted by: travelrat | October 7, 2018

The Yellow Arches

Whenever I’m away from home, I often take a view from our hotel room, for social media. At Agra, I opened the curtains to behold … the Yellow Arches of McDonalds. (They actually call them the Golden Arches, but they look yellow to me)

Not that I really have anything against McD’s; I sometimes eat there, but it’s certainly not my eaterie of choice. It’s just that their Yellow Arches seem to intrude on beautiful scenery or architecture all over the world. Except in the part of Germany we visited earlier this year; they had to keep their logo small and unobtrusive, and not interfere with the exterior fabric of the building.

Dilip, our guide, couldn’t understand why they came to India at all; Hindus don’t eat beef for religious reasons, and just won’t eat pork … in fact, he said, a good percentage of Hindus are vegetarian. Maybe it’s there for the tourists, of which Agra sees many, or maybe local people like to pop in for a coffee, and take advantage of the free wifi.

I did comment on their opening in Madrid. They claimed it would be the place where the madrileños would go for breakfast, but I couldn’t see Macchocolate con Macchurros really catching on. Mactapas, maybe?

They do try to produce local food, though. We called into McD’s in Banff, Canada and, since it was on offer, I had to try some poutine with my burger. Well, it was pretty tasty, but I was later informed that I could have got much better from an independent place … preferably a food truck and, best of all, in a city in Eastern Canada.

kr

 

 

Posted by: travelrat | October 4, 2018

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg 4

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: 4th April 2018

Last time, I promised better pictures of Rothenburg than the fading Instamatics I took back in the 70s, and here they are.

‘…a small polished gem from the Middle Ages…’ according to ‘Lonely Planet’.

I could have a go at describing what we saw, but I think I’ve rather over-used the words ‘quaint’, ‘quirky’ and ‘mediaeval’ on the places we’ve been so far this trip. So, I think I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: travelrat | October 2, 2018

Delhi

DSC_0156

Delhi: 21st September 2018

There was a considerable delay on our flight to Delhi. One of the passengers was a no-show … we learned later that she’d had a heart attack … so there was a delay while her luggage was offloaded, and a further delay when they found one of the latches on the cargo hold faulty. An engineer soon fixed it, but it took some time to find a supervisor to sign his work off.

So, we were two hours late arriving in Delhi, and it was mid-afternoon before we arrived at our hotel.

Delhi Traffic

After a belated lunch, we took a coach drive through the frantic, crowded streets of Delhi to the ruins of the Quwwat al Islam mosque and its imposing Qutb Miner tower. Ruined, it may have been, but there were still lots of visitors. Nonetheless, it was still relatively peaceful compared to the bustling streets outside.

Qutb Miner Tower

That’s all we had time for in the fraction of the afternoon we had left to us. With the delay to the flight, that’s all we really had time for. But, Dilip, our guide, promised we’d make it up tomorrow.

At dinner that night, we ordered beer … and we were impressed, and amused at the way the  waiter presented the label with all the aplomb of a wine waiter!

Posted by: travelrat | September 30, 2018

Back from India

Scan000050

We’re back from a rather hectic week in India, and, of course, we had a photograph taken at the usual place. It’s probably illegal to leave India without doing it.

I will open the India Diary with a photo of our untiring guide, Dilip, who guided us faultlessly through the adventures I shall tell about in the coming weeks.

Dilip

Older Posts »

Categories