Early Morning At The Parthenon, Athens

I’m lucky enough to say I’ve been to quite a few famous places around this marvelous planet of ours. But finally getting to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens was pretty special.

Our very first view of the Parthenon from below the Acropolis

Not long after dawn we were met at the bottom of the hill by our fabulous guide, Marialena Christopoulou. She led us up the path to the Acropolis, until we got our first close-up view of the Parthenon between the columns of the Propylaia (the entrance to the Acropolis). The Parthenon was actually the third temple on the site. It was begun in the year 447 BCE and took just nine years to build.

The Parthenon is constructed entirely of Pentelic marble. Ringing the structure are 46 columns, each over 34¼ feet tall.

Although originally a temple to the Greek Goddess Athena, the Parthenon has been put to other uses through the centuries. It has been twice been a church and also a mosque. Finally, the Turks converted it into a gunpowder store!

This last usage was ultimately the indirect reason for the Parthenon looking the way it does today. In 1687, a shell hit the Parthenon during a Venetian attack and, thanks to the gunpowder being stored inside, the building was blown to smithereens.

Following the near destruction of the Parthenon, another smaller mosque was built within its ruins. During the next couple of centuries the remains of the Parthenon continued to be looted for building material and sculptures. Most famously, Lord Elgin controversially removed many of the surviving friezes and sculptures in the early 1800s.

Reproductions (mostly) of the friezes from around the Parthenon inside the nearby New Acropolis Museum (many of the originals are in the British Museum, London)

A small section of original sculpture inside the New Acropolis Museum

View of the Acropolis and Parthenon from the New Acropolis Museum

Early renovations led to the demolition of the later mosque and the restoration of parts of the Parthenon, including the reassembling of several of the columns. These original restorations often produced as many new problems as they solved. However, the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments was established in 1975, and since then a more considered approach has been adopted.

The Acropolis and Parthenon from the Ancient Agora

With Marialena at the Ancient Agora

Our visit to the Acropolis and the Parthenon was something I’ll always remember, thanks in no small part to Marialena’s knowledgeable commentary (she’s a trained archaeologist). And visiting so early in the morning meant we beat the crowds, too!

Our last view of the Parthenon as we leave Athens

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo theme of Columns and Vertical Line(s) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Jo’s Monday Walk.

 

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London’s ‘Blow Up Bridge’

Around the north side of Regent’s Park in London, between Little Venice and London Zoo, Regent’s Canal glides peacefully though a leafy cutting. Just west of the zoo, the canal passes beneath a bridge carrying Avenue Road into the park.

The three-arched bridge in question is attractive enough, if a little unremarkable-looking. Yet it has a violent past, as revealed by this excerpt from Jaspa’s Journey 2: The Pride of London:

Regent’s Canal continues to carve its stately way around the northeast rim of Regent’s Park. With the mansions left behind, the narrowboat slides lazily between steep, overgrown banks thick with trees and bushes. On the left, the single remaining towpath hugs the outside of the turn.

“We must be nearly there,” announces Ernest, excitedly. “That’s the Blow Up Bridge.”

The brick arches of the bridge soar over the artificial waterway, supported on twin rows of five cast-iron columns, positioned on either side of the canal.

“I’ve wanted to see it for myself ever since I first read about it,” the Ratses confides.

“Sounds like a strange name for a bridge,” says Bisckits.

“Yes. Well, its real name is Macclesfield Bridge,” Ernest explains. “Actually, it’s the second Macclesfield Bridge, which is the whole point. The first one was destroyed in 1874, when a barge carrying five tons of gunpowder exploded beneath it.”

“Wow!” gasps Bisckits.

“Yeah!” agrees Ernest. “They rebuilt it, of course. They were even able to use the iron columns from the original bridge – they survived the explosion, you see. But ever since then, most people call it the Blow Up Bridge.”

“Neat!” says Bisckits appreciatively.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Arch, Dome or Half Circle from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Traces of the Past from Paula of Lost in Translation.

Posted in Adventure, Europe, History, Jaspa's Journey, Travel, United Kingdom, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Tryall Water Wheel, Jamaica

Roughly 10 miles west of Montego Bay, in Jamaica’s Hanover Parish, stands the enormous Tryall Water Wheel.

Originally constructed around 200 years ago, the 30-foot-diameter cast iron wheel was used to grind sugar cane produced on the Tryall Estate.

The wheel was damaged during the slave rebellion in the 1830s. However, thanks to subsequent renovations, it is today the last working water wheel in Jamaica.

Tryall Water Wheel is powered by water carried by aqueduct from the Flint River, roughly 2 miles distant.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo theme of Liquid from Ben of The Daily Post and Barns or Dilapidated Buildings from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

 

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The Calli, Campi and Canali of Cannaregio, Venice

Can you belong somewhere you’ve never actually lived? Especially a place that’s engulfed by millions of tourists every year?

I don’t know the answer, but I hope it can be ‘yes’. Although, sadly, I’m not sure the few remaining true inhabitants of Venice would agree with me.

After multiple visits, Northern Italy’s wondrous lagoon city has me captivated. If someone offered me the chance to go and live there, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

And it’s not just sights like the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s that have me mesmerized. There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting lost among the calli (singular calle; the narrow Venetian alleyways), campi (singular campo; the Venetian squares – campo literally means field), and canali (singular canale; canals) of the Cannaregio district. Although I’ve walked the area so often now, getting lost is harder and harder!

Whether or not the locals will have me, my heart will forever belong to Venice.

PS. Most of these photos were taken while researching the fifth book in the Jaspa’s Journey series, The Ses Collector of Venice.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo theme of Place in the World from Erica of The Daily Post and Jo’s Monday Walk.

Posted in Adventure, Europe, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Iconic Monument Valley Highway

Some photographs are worth a thousand words. Here the classic lines of Highway 163 in Utah converge at the breathtaking Monument Valley.

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo theme of Lines from Cheri of The Daily Post.

 

Posted in Adventure, Environment, Photography, Travel, USA | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Going Gently Bananas in the Caribbean

What could be more Free and Easy than chilling in the shade of a Caribbean banana plant?

And thankfully, there’s lots of them to choose from, on every island you visit. Of course, the reason for bananas being so Prolific in the Caribbean is the Heritage of banana plantations.

Some of these plantations focus solely on the bananas.

Row upon row of bananas

While others combine them with other crops.

Coffee and bananas cohabiting in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains

For a long time the heritage of these plantations was one of slavery. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

Modern banana plantation on St Lucia (the plastic bags apparently stop spiders getting to the bananas… shudder!)

But getting back to the Free and Easy…

I’ve relaxed beneath banana plants in Jamaica.

Blue Mountain bananas in Jamaica

I’ve unwound under banana plants on Dominica.

Spreading banana leaves in Dominica

I’ve taken it easy among banana plants on Grenada.

Banana plant and flower on Grenada

I’ve snoozed below banana plants on St Lucia.

Free and Easy on St Lucia

The only problem is…. I don’t like bananas!

Roadside stall on Grenada

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Prolific from Krista of The Daily Post and Free and Easy from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. And don’t forget today is not only World Heritage Day, but also Banana Day!

 

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Wildlife Spotting At Custer State Park, South Dakota

What makes me smile, makes me happy? Hmmm… Well, the first thing that jumps to mind is animals. Like all the critters we saw at Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Custer was South Dakota’s first state park and remains its largest. It’s beautiful at any time of year.

The most famous animals at Custer State Park are its bison, around 1500 of them, that roam the range freely.

Pronghorns are perhaps the most unusual-looking of Custer’s large mammals.

We also saw a few bighorn sheep.

And then there were the donkeys of course, which have earned the nickname, the Begging Burros. Can’t think why!

Expand the minds of you and your children by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first three – The Great Migration, The Pride of London Jaspa’s Waterloo -are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Smile from Ben of The Daily Post and Happy from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

 

Posted in Environment, Travel, USA, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments