Lakes and Islands

Lago Maggiore : A big lake partly in Switzerland and partly in Italy with, near Stresa, 3 islands and 2 islets making up the Borromean Islands. One of the islands, Isola Bella, contains one of Italy’s most beautiful gardens. That’s not to say the others are not interesting either. The Isola dei Pescatore is inhabited…

Closeup in blue

The scilla peruviana, despite the name, has no relation to Peru, and is at home in southern Europe. The blue colour of the flowers is difficult to describe – because it is not just just blue – but seems to contain shades of purple or red. La scille du Peru, ne vient pas du Péru….

January storm

Ronda Spain : January 2008 : Even in sunny southern Spain, the clouds sometimes fly low. The winter storm and low sun provide some striking contrasts over the nearby landscapes, the city and the Puento Nuevo (bridge). Ronda, Espagne : janvier 2008 : Même au sud de l’Espagne, région reputée pour son climat doux et…

Many names, one plant

Xanthoceras sorbifolium : Also known in english as yellowhorn, shiny leaf yellowhorn, goldenhorn or even Chinese flowering chestnut. This shrub or small tree heralds from northern China and is fairly unusual in gardens in Europe. Apparently the seeds, which resemble small chestnuts, are edible. In this case, I planted the seeds instead of eating them….

Painter’s despair

The heuchera : never still, never posing, always drifing with the slightest breeze. Here is a closer look at the flowers, not yet open. Heuchera : le désespoir des peintres, jamais sans bouger, même avec le moindre souffle de vent. Voici un clin d’oeil aux fleurs à venir.

Sakuras and crabapples

Around the last week of March till the 10th of April, the flowering prunus and malus shrubs and trees put on the most spectacular displays of color. No wonder the Japanese and other Asians are in love with these trees. The only “odd-man-out” in this series of images is the Chinese flowering chestnut (xanthoceras sorbifolium),…

Masada

In southern Israel on an isolated plateau with steep cliffs on most sides, stands the ancient fortress of Masada. Rediscovered in the 19th century and only excavated during the mid-twentieth century, the site is relatively well preserved. The Roman attack route (an artificial ramp built to overcome the site’s natural defenses) is still visible and…

Doors and alleyways

Tunisia in 2004 : Ben Ali was (still) president and the Arab spring was not in the air. The special character of this north African country is reflected in it’s town and village doors and alleyways. (Photos taken in Tunis and Hammamet, 2004.) La Tunisie en 2004 : Le président Ben Ali est toujours en…

The bridge

The Alexander III bridge in Paris. One of the most decorated bridges in the city, each decoration with a particular meaning or subject. Question : how much decoration is too much ? Le Pont Alexandre III à Paris. Construit entre 1897 et 1900 et decoré abondamment.

Parkways

Ontario, Canada, is famous for it’s parkways. Along the Saint Lawrence river banks around the town of Gananoque there is a stretch of the former main Montreal-Toronto highway, now relegated to a tourist route (the main highway now follows another route). The 40 km stretch of broad scenic parkway, once a four-lane highway, and now…

Glimpses of the Alhambra

Granada, Spain : The Alhambra, object of songs, poems, wars and battles; now a (relatively) peaceful museum. But it all depends on the number of visitors and how long you have to wait to get in… In January, with luck and clear weather, from the terraces of the Alhambra, you get a good look at…

Nagasaki temple row

Away from the port, backing up steep slopes, lies the Nagasaki temple row. Here is the oldest Obaku Zen temple in Japan, founded in 1635 for the Chinese resident community. Modern buildings share space with old structures, some original, many rebuilt in the 19th or 20th century. Because of their location and the position of…

The smile

Kyoto’s best dressed geishas will gladly pose for you, if you ask nicely, in Japanese. Le sourire des geishas à Kyoto. Pour la photo, il suffit de demander, en japonais.

Genbaku dome

The “A-bomb dome” : One of the few buildings left standing in the area where “little boy” exploded on August 6 1945 in central Hiroshima. The dome was designed by a Czech architect in 1915 and had been used as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Le dôme de Genbaku : Un des rares bâtiments…

470 km of canals

The Edo era town of Yanagawa in Fukuoka prefecture, Kyushu, is famous for its canals, its canal boats and the sagemon (hanging dolls) tour. Visit the town on the flat bottom boats called donkobune and keep your head down to get under the low bridges. If you are lucky the boatman will sing Japanese folksongs…

Streets and museums of Hanoi

Hanoi 2014 : old town : polluted and noisy, congested with scooters and motorbikes, but interesting street scenes, and beautiful museums. A busy, complex, interesting and irritating city. Hanoi en 2014. La vielle ville est polluée et bruyante, les rues et trottoirs sont saturées de motos, et le velo à presque disparu. C’est pour les…

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road East, Shanghai : Look out Fifth Avenue, Oxford Street, the Ginza, les Champs Elysées, this is serious competition. This must be the street with the highest concentration of luxury brands and products in the world. Rolex, Bugatti, Vuitton… You name it, it’s here. Lots of people looking, but not many (visible) buyers…. Nanjing…

Heart of Shanghai

The Bund, the Oriental Pearl Telecommunications tower, the big boats on the Huangpu. This is the heart of Shanghai. Le Bund, la tour de télécommunications et la rivière Huangpu … le coeur de Shanghai.