Lens-Artists #84: Narrow Passageways

Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.

In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.

Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
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A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.100_0371
There were also narrow witches!
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In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
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Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.

Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.DSC00482
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
DSC00587Floating traffic jam!
Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!


CFFC: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is “Busy or People Working.”

Every year, the last weekend in April (this weekend!), our church has a huge rummage sale, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We always need a lot of volunteers.
STAS13-IMAG0363.jpgThe sale takes over nearly every room in the church. We have a clothing room (above), housewares (below – the biggest department), Housewares, always a busy, popular department.holiday, antiques, jewelry, toys, baked goods, books/CDs/DVDs, and outside there is a furniture tent and hot food (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.).20160421_111420Our church also does mission work. One of our missions is feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless. Des Plaines has a local PADS shelter on Fridays at a nearby church, where homeless adults get a hot meal for dinner, breakfast, sack lunches, and a place to sleep for the night. Different churches sign up for the Fridays they prefer and get volunteers from their church to work the shifts and make or bring food.  Some people work in the kitchen, preparing for dinner…20150227_190349
and then serve the food to the guests.
In the summer, we have at least one church service outside, with special invited musicians and ice cream afterward! This is the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Ensemble.20150705_095043.jpgEmergency workers are important in any community.  The American Red Cross collects supplies for people in disaster areas.IMAG0367-RedCrosshelpTeaching is a lot of work, even during special events when we look like we’re having fun (and sometimes we are)! Here’s a teacher holding up the flag of her alma mater during an annual College Day rally.
Sandy Rywelski holds up WIU flag next to her class.
The music teacher works hard – and so do the kids – with the different age groups to put on an annual show for the different grade levels. Here is the 1st-2nd grade music show.
20150415_134623.jpgA student helps out on the last day of school by cleaning the chalkboards.269
For children, school is their workplace and for very young children, play is their work; it’s how they learn. These kindergartners love building things with blocks.
And in December, everyone works hard on holiday projects. Here, a teacher’s assistant helps kindergartners make gingerbread houses.
Sometimes, people work to provide entertainment for others, either as volunteers or for tips, such as at a summer concert in the park.
While kids are getting their balloons, the band plays.
People with special talents perform for tourists for tips, such as this young man in Tallinn, Estonia.
Waiters in Japanese restaurants “perform” for diners, cooking their food right in front of them.
IMAG1924.jpgSome of the hardest working people work on cruise ships, in kitchens…20170324_103302or as stewards, such as this one trying to hold a tray of hot soup steady for the tourists on the windy deck of a ship in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.The steward holds on tight to the tray of soup.
Some athletes and actors make millions entertaining the public. They might even get a trophy, such as when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016!20161103_001137.jpg

Go Cubs Go! video





Thursday Doors: Old Town Tallinn

I just found out about the Thursday Doors photo challenge, and I am eager to participate!

Here are some doors in Tallinn, Estonia (taken Aug. 2015):

                                     Each side of the entrance to a souvenir shop:

Amber shops were ubiquitous - amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

Amber shops were ubiquitous – amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

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Old Dominican Monastery

Old Dominican Monastery

Lost in Old Town Tallinn! (Tallinn part 2)

August 10, 2015

When the bus dropped us off in Old Town Tallinn, the first thing I noticed were the hordes of people everywhere! Since there were six cruise ships in port, each containing an average of say, 2,000 passengers – plus Tallinn has become a popular destination in Europe – Old Town was swarming with tourists. (Never mind the people that actually LIVE there who were navigating those same spaces!) The sidewalks were narrow and so many people passing that you were often forced to walk on the uneven cobblestone streets. This also meant that groups led by guides, who held up signs with their tour’s number, often stretched along considerable distance and it was hard to keep up, especially if, like me, you often wanted to stop to take a picture.  Which I did, often.

Our Matthew-Crawley- look-alike guide, Uve, gathers us around to give us a little history of what we were seeing.

Our Matthew-Crawley- look-alike guide, Uve, gathers us around to give us a little history of what we were seeing.

Uve told us we could have some free time to explore shops and go to the bathroom. There were several amber shops with beautifully decorated doorways.

Amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

Amber is a major product of the Baltic Sea.

Although we were right next to Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church, we
didn’t go in because of the crowds and Uve said we’d see Orthodox churches in St. Petersburg.

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church

We did, however, enter St. Mary’s Church, built in 1240 and now a Lutheran church.

Episcopalian Church

St. Mary’s Lutheran Church

Family crests covered the walls, some quite large due to one-upmanship. Uve told us this was a common and prestigious thing to do. Families also had their own pews, each sectioned off by a small door with the family’s name on it.

Looking toward the main altar.

Looking toward the main altar. Note entrances to pews have little doors – families had their own section.

Having your family crest on the wall of the church gave you status. It established your family's importance in the community.

Having your family crest on the wall of the church gave you status. It established your family’s importance in the community.

The organ was the most impressive thing in St. Mary’s Church. It is the largest in Estonia and has over 5,000 pipes.

Largest church organ in Estonia.

Apostles painted on the side of the pulpit stairs

Apostles painted on the side of the pulpit stairs

Both St. Mary’s church and Alexander Nevsky cathedral are in the area of Old Town called Toompea. Our group headed to a lookout platform, where we could see Old Town Tallinn below and take photos.  To get to this advantageous spot, however, you first had to patiently wait for someone to move and then worm your way through the crowd that was clicking away. Meanwhile, there was a teenager there who was doing fancy soccer moves for the public, a red cap on the ground in front of him for tips.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAnother young man was standing in front of a sign that said “Toompea Coin Minting”. After creating the coin, he would sell it to you on a lanyard.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWhen I finally reached the vantage point to take photos of the town below, I could see why it was such a popular place for tourists. Below us lay Old Town Tallinn and beyond, as far as the dock where our ship was anchored, the Tallinn Balloon floating overhead.

The Eurodam can be seen just under the Tallinn balloon.
KODAK Digital Still CameraBack on the walk, I got behind again – it was near a turn into another narrow street – and lost sight of my group and Uve with the sign. They’d obviously turned a corner, but which one? A crowd of people were ascending a narrow alleyway, so I went with the flow, figuring I’d catch up with the group at the top. Just then a man was coming the other way wheeling his daughter in a stroller and I had to move aside to let him pass. Meanwhile, a stream of people squeezed their way around me on my right. When I reached the top, I looked left and right – by that time, there no sign of them. So I guessed: I went right. KODAK Digital Still CameraI came to another lookout point in a small square where outdoor restaurants were full of chatting customers, and on the right was part of the old wall that once surrounded the town, and a tower which may have been part of a gate at one time. There were steps going up the side of the wall to a restaurant located in the tower, and I saw people climbing the stairs. Not many though and I was sure it wasn’t my group.

At this point, I was lost and came into this square with a section of the old wall and restaurants.

At this point, I was lost and came into this square with a section of the old wall and restaurants.

I asked myself if there were any hints about where they might be. I had heard Uve mention something about checking with the café to see if our lunch was ready. Did he really say that? If so, they could be on their way to lunch. Did anyone know I was missing? Uve always counted – surely he’d know. But how would he find me?
I left the square with the old wall and busy restaurants and tried to retrace my steps. I got back to the street that I’d been on before turning into the alley, and peered down other streets leading off it. No sign of them.
I began wandering aimlessly, trying to think and not panic. I came up with nothing – no plan of action and feeling sorry for myself that I’d miss lunch! Eventually I found myself once again in front of the orthodox church where there were hordes of people coming and going and as I approached entrance to the church, I spotted a green Eurodam sticker – more than one! Yes!

KODAK Digital Still CameraThis group’s stickers had the number 10 on them. At least they’d be returning to the same ship. I asked a man if I could stay with their group, that I’d been separated from mine. Was there room on their bus?
He said yes, but I should talk to their guide. He led me to her; she was among the throng now inside the church. A golden wall full of icons was visible above all the heads. I took one picture. (I later learned no photography was allowed inside the church!)

The woman in blue looking up is the guide of tour group #10,

The woman in blue looking up is the guide of tour group #10.

I explained to her my dilemma and she called the company she (and Uve presumably) work for. A stream of Estonian followed but it sounded encouraging. My group, she said, was at St. Nicholas Church, which was a bit complicated to get to from here. However, after that they were going to a restaurant in Town Hall Square. I fished out a piece of paper advertising the upcoming Russian bazaar on board from my bag, and also provided her with a pen. She wrote down the name of the restaurant – MAIKRAHV – and told me it was located inside the town hall. She was emphatic on that point.
She also offered to let me stay with them (but they weren’t having lunch and were leaving earlier) or go to Town Hall Square to look for my group. She told her group that she just needed a minute to show me the way.
The way was simple. She pointed out the street and told me to continue down it – “Go down, keep going down” until to the right I would see the square. It was a big square, she said. I couldn’t miss it. I decided to go, so I thanked her and off I went, tucking the piece of paper into my pocket.
I descended the long cobblestone street, passing along another section of the old wall on my right; on the left, free-lance artists displayed their work for sale.
100_0339After passing under a gate, I saw a large square to the right, full of outdoor restaurants with shade umbrellas over them, all of them bustling with people.
KODAK Digital Still CameraThe square was lined with tall, colorful buildings with streets leading off it like spokes of a wheel.

100_0345Town Hall Square

As soon as I stepped into the square, I spotted a young woman wearing an apron, obviously a waitress or something. I pulled out the piece of paper and smiled expectantly at her.
“Do you speak English?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Can you tell me where this restaurant is?”
I showed her the slip of paper with the restaurant’s name. She didn’t say anything; she seemed to be at a loss for words but led me to the front of an outside restaurant near the one where she’d been standing, and gestured with her hands, holding them open like, “here it is.”
What? This made no sense. Where was the town hall? I thanked her and then went up to a young man standing in front of the next restaurant.
“Can you tell me where is the town hall?” I asked him.
He pointed to an old medieval building across the square that had looked like it might have been a church at one time. I thanked him and headed over there.Town Hall Square (finally!). The town hall is the old building in the center.There was a door open, which led down a few stairs into a dark interior. A sign outside indicated there was some sort of art exhibit inside. I saw a man wearing a uniform standing in the shadows. I approached him and explained that I was looking for a restaurant inside the town hall, and showed him the name. He said the town hall did have a restaurant, next door, but it was called Dragon.
“Perhaps it had this name before, I don’t know. You can ask them.”
Strange. Why would the guides’ company give me a name of a place that no longer had that name? Even so, I went next door to check it out.

Over the Dragon restaurant

Over the Dragon restaurant

As soon as I entered, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the right place. A woman wearing a long striped dress with an apron over it and a fitted cap was ladling out soup into cone- shaped ceramic bowls. She was also in charge of the register and dealing with customers.
“Excuse me,” I said. She turned and looked at me.
“I’m looking for this restaurant.” I showed her the slip of paper.
She glanced and said, rather brusquely, “across the square” and nodded in that direction. I didn’t interpret her tone as rudeness – she was just very busy and hadn’t time for pleasantries.
Beautiful old buildings on the squareSo I crossed the square once more and came to the same guy in yellow I’d talked to before; only this time, I showed him the name of the restaurant. He pointed to a doorway – sure enough, the name was printed overhead. I wouldn’t have noticed it before, what with all the tables outside and people sitting at them enjoying the outdoors. I was now beginning to understand what the first girl had been trying to show me.
“It is our restaurant,” he said.
He hadn’t seen the group wearing stickers like mine, but perhaps they were inside the restaurant. He led me partway to the entrance.

I finally found our group! They were about to have lunch in this restaurant.

Sure enough, down a short flight of stairs, I saw Uve standing there! What a relief!
He did know that I (or someone) had been missing, but said they’d waited for five minutes for me, then had to go on their way. They had just arrived at the restaurant, and I saw everyone sitting around tables in the dimness. There was an empty seat next to a bearded man, and I asked if anyone was sitting there. The man said it was available, so I sat down. His name was David and his wife, sitting across from him, was Paula. They were from Halifax.
The meal was excellent and came in three courses: salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing; chicken breast over julienned vegetables, in a sauce that was very tasty if a bit peppery; and dessert cake: two layers of white cake, with a filling and topping of gelled blueberries and raspberries.
On our way to our last stop – shopping – Uve showed us the ruined wall of a church, where tombstones from the 14th and 15th century were displayed.
KODAK Digital Still CameraOld tombstones (described in previous picture)Old tombstoneFinally it was time for shopping! Paula and David were not going to let me out of their sight! Uve  told us to meet in front of McDonald’s in half an hour. The three of us stuck together while shopping, and I probably bought at least one thing I wouldn’t have otherwise. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased a piece of amber jewelry – expensive, but I may never have another opportunity!

Here's where we did a lot of shopping. Open stalls on the left, against the old town wall, shops on the right.

Here’s where we did a lot of shopping. Open stalls on the left, against the old town wall, shops on the right.

Our meeting place

Our meeting place