Wat Arun is a well known landmark adorning the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Named after the Indian God Aruna, the temple complex is an architectural representation of the cosmos, with 4 smaller temples surrounding a large temple in the center. Built between the 17-19 centuries, the 5 temple spires are decorated with seashells and porcelain tiles that were once the ballast from ships sailing between China and Bangkok. They are a patchwork quilt of colors, designs and creatures.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
One of the beautiful things Bangkok has to offer is its many Buddhist temples. From the pantheon of deities to the colorful buildings these holy spaces are visually very different from traditional Western houses of worship. Yet, when taken in pieces it's easy to find commonality -- though theologically on different ends of the spectrum, the idea of connecting on a higher plane is a shared belief.
One of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho is best known for its massive reclining Buddha (160 ft long). It is also believed to be the home of the first Thai massage school. The temple is a working monastery where sacred rites and rituals are performed. It is common to see young monks around the complex and while you can photograph them, women should not try to touch them.
I have said this many times before...while this is not my religious training, I really appreciated the sincerity of those who came to worship. The colors are so beautiful and the flowers exotic, the beliefs unique and the need to dress modestly all resonate with me.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
The flower market in Thailand was really interesting to visit. So many varieties and the colors are are so vibrant and beautiful. The picture in the left hand corner is a real flower--the lotus petals are actually folded back to create that cool pattern. I would have sworn the flower was fake if I had not watched a woman open up the petals and fold them back. The flower bracelet is also very common. The Thai shower their Buddhist shrines with these beautiful creations and at the flower market you can watch them being made.
Monday, March 16, 2015
This awesome fortress, begun in 1294, looms over the medieval town of Torroella de Mongri and has a commanding view of the nearby sea side. Its purpose was to allow one of the ruling Counts at the time the ability to spy on his rival. The fortress was never completed and fell into disrepair.
Last summer we spent a week in Spain discovering the best beaches. As we pulled into the resort town of L'Escala we passed this massive fortress high in the hillside--and if you know my husband, you know when he sees a mountain, he sees a hike.
Parking near the local elementary school, the hike only takes about 45 minutes. The trail is rugged, but family friendly; perfect for a morning away from the beach. I love how this photo (captured on my iphone) turned out. The skies were heavy, on the verge of rain and the lone green tree is such a nice contrast to the sand colored castle.
Last summer we set out determined to find the best beaches between Italy, France and Spain. We fell in love with Spain's Costa Brava, in particular the beach town of Begur. The beach is small, snuggled up against a hill, but there are loads of rocky crags fun for jumping off. We rented kayaks and explored the coast and the million dollar mansions hugging the cliffs. We spent two very fun days here and would love the opportunity to return.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Barcelona is a fantastic city! With great architecture, interesting museums, tasty food and great fashion, Barcelona is a city we could visit again and again. One of the cities most unique and well known buildings is the La Sagrada Familia. Designed by Antonio Gaudi, it has been under construction for the last 133 years and there is no firm completion date.
I am not Catholic, but this church is so beautiful and full of light one can not help but be taken to a more elevated place for praise and reflection. I had not expected to like it as much as I did. From the outside the spires remind me of drippy wax candles, but when you enter the height, light effects and color are so stunning and surprising it is hard not to fall in love.
In order to avoid long lines book tickets online here.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
If I could make only one recommendation it would be to take the free walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow. This was a fantastic tour highlighting the struggles of Polish Jews during World War 2. Our young guide was surprisingly knowledgeable and passionate about this sad and harrowing story. But the tour is not all depressing, it also highlights some of the heroes, like the pharmacist who passed along medicine and messages to Jews behind the ghetto walls. The memorials are moving and this is history you just can't pass up the opportunity to see.
Schindler Factory Museum
Address: 4 Lipowa St, 30-702 Krakow
Hours: M 10am-2pm, T-F 10am-8pm
Cost: 19 PLN adults, 50 PLN family