January Square: Night Lights in Paris

For Becky’s Square Challenge with the topic _____light, today my contribution is the Eiffel Tower’s night lights. I suggested we visit the Eiffel Tower at night because I wanted to see the spectacular sight of this famous tower lit up at night.
20190615_224415 (2) Night lights - Eiffel Tower
Here are a few more shots I took that evening.

More photos – two selfies (me & Dale, me & my son) and one of my son and my sister.

And as a double whammy of squares, here are flashing lights – the many colors of flashing miniature Eiffel Towers that vendors on the perimeter of the entrance hope will appeal to visitors enough to buy one or more. (Of course, I did – my vendor, like many others, was an immigrant from Africa and was very persuasive, throwing in several tiny Eiffels on key chains for free! Whoo hoo!) So touristy and I succumbed!!

20190615_224548d (2)

Thursday Doors: Passau Walking Tour

The German city of Passau is located in Bavaria very close to the Austrian border, at the confluence of three rivers: The Danube, the Inn and the Itz. It was the last German city we stopped at during our cruise last June-July. We arrived at Passau on the U.S. Independence Day, July 4.  This post is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors 12/12/19.
Passau has a population of about 50,000, of which 12,000 are students at the local university. A devastating fire in 1662 destroyed most of the city, which was rebuilt in Baroque style.

Passau is known for its cathedral, St. Stephan, which has five organs! One of the organs is in the attic and the five can all be played at the same time.  The organ(s) has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, and it is the 2nd largest pipe organ in the world. We attended a concert showcasing this amazing sound after our walking tour. Concerts are held daily between May and September.


In this square behind St. Stephan Cathedral is a statue of Maximilian I, the first king after Napoleon.

A cathedral door and details20190704_09093920190704_091011


Same door from the inside

Baroque décor characterizes the interior of St. Stephan.


The main organ is in the traditional place in the back of the cathedral.


The priest used to say mass from this golden pulpit, but now stands behind a podium adorned with the eagle of St. John (photo below).



We went out into a courtyard beside the cathedral.
In the courtyard are some extra panels and artifacts from the church.


This angel head fell off during a fire in the church. It gives a perspective of the true size of the sculptures in the church.

We continued downhill from the church on the cobblestone streets of Old Town.
The city has been plagued by floods for centuries, due to its location at the junction of three rivers. On June 2, 2013, the old town suffered a severe flooding after it had rained for several days. The photo below shows how a street of Old Town looked on June 3.

Peak elevation of floods as far back as 1501 are displayed on the wall of the Old City Hall.DSC01738


This glass door is for 16 and 18 Hell Alley! The narrow street gets its name from its proximity to the river.


Looking down Hell Alley, also known as Artists’ Alley, which is lined with small shops and cafes. 

Hotel Wilder Mann

This pharmacy is one of the oldest in Passau. It is painted green, which was the “code” color for pharmacies in times when many people were illiterate.
The Dom Museum entrance – this museum displays artifacts, relics and history of St. Stephan Cathedral.


This door at the former bishop’s palace was deliberately built above the ground. It now belongs to the Dom Museum.

Baroque architectural details adorn the ceiling of the palace.
Passau has a Daschsund Museum! These sculptures are outside the entrance.

“Coffee and love are best hot!”
20190704_103351I found interesting that this shop door has a nativity scene above it.
The sign on this Baroque decorated door advertises a one-bedroom apartment within.


Religious statues high up on exterior walls of Old Town are seen commonly in towns throughout Bavaria.

Prominent above the city is Veste Oberhaus, a fortress founded in 1219.

Information for this post obtained from:
author’s notes
Wikipedia article Passau
TripAdvisor The Höllgasse




Lens-Artists #72 – Waiting

People wait.


Waiting in line to get into the Louvre, Paris



Waiting to enter Sacre Coeur Church, Montmartre, Paris



Waiting to see the Mona Lisa up close, Louvre, Paris


Marching band waiting their turn at a marching band competition, Vienna


Waiting for the bride & groom to emerge from the church, Poulsbo, WA

Transportation vehicles wait.


Parked bicycles wait for their owners to return, Amsterdam


Cruise ship waits to board passengers to begin an ocean cruise, Amsterdam


Bicycles wait up above, and boats wait down below – the frowning face means boats must stop and wait their turn to go under the bridge, Amsterdam


Parked cars wait for their owners to drive them, Amsterdam

Animals and plants wait.


Waiting to be planted in a garden, Des Plaines, IL


Cat watches and waits for a moth on the screen, Des Plaines

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #72, 11/16/19: Waiting



Journey to Egypt, Part 22: Temples of Abu Simbel

January 2, 2019

We disembarked our vessel, Aida, this morning and boarded a bus for a 2-hour + ride to the town of Abu Simbel, for which the temple was named.  The landscape along this route is mostly desert.
20190102_093930The town of Abu Simbel is a good place to be introduced to Nubian culture. The Nubians who originally lived in this area were displaced in the 1960s by the building of the Aswan High Dam. Now this small town is growing again as people return to the area. I took these photos from the bus as we drove through the town.


Nubian architecture is characterized by domes and arches.

Our destination was Abu Simbel Temple.20190102_105458d.jpg
Ramses II (who reigned c. 1279-1213 BCE) had two massive temples built at Abu Simbel. The pharaoh was a bit of a narcissist and wanted to advertise to the Nubians that he was the god-king and ruler of this land. Nubia had been conquered by the Egyptians, which extended the Egyptian empire southward. Ramses II had his artisans carve the temples out of a rock cliff to display his might, which was an effective deterrent to Nubian rebellion.

Originally the two temples were at the bottom of the cliff into which they were carved. However, due to the building of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, which created Lake Nasser and flooded the surrounding area, they were moved 200 feet above the water level and 1/3 of a mile back from the lake shore. It is quite a walk, often uphill, from the parking lot to the site of the temples.

These two photos were taken from the pathway to the temples, the first a view of Lake Nasser, the second, two large rocks on which people had piled up small rocks. (I had seen these small stone piles before, on the trail from Machu Picchu, but here they were much more numerous and somewhat chaotic.)

In order to move the monuments higher up (because they would otherwise be completely submerged in the lake), a painstaking project funded by UNESCO was undertaken in which the temples were dismantled by cutting them into about 5,000 pieces, raised up using pulleys and reassembled 60 meters (about 200 feet) higher up. To do this, the upper cliff also had to be carved out in order for the temples to retain their original appearance and great effort was made to reconstruct the temples with the same orientation as the originals. All this was accomplished in the years 1964-1968, before the building of the High Dam was completed. (Other monuments that stood on islands in the Nile River were also disassembled and reassembled elsewhere, but Abu Simbel was by far the most enormous and ambitious undertaking.) Below are two photos of this massive project, taken from Google Images.

The first of the two temples, the Great Temple was dedicated to Ramses II as a god-king and to Ra-Harakhte, Amun-Ra and Ptah, major gods in the Egyptian pantheon. The second temple was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Nefertari, Ramses II’s wife and queen.

In front of the Great Temple are four seated colossi of Ramses II, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, which is most preserved in the far left statue. Around the legs of the statues are smaller figures of the pharaoh’s wives and children. Between the two pairs of statues, above the doorway, is a carved figure of Ra-Harakhte. Ra was portrayed as a falcon and shared characteristics with the sky god Horus. Sometimes these two gods were merged to form Ra-Harakhte: “Ra, who is the Horus of the Two Horizons.” Also, in the New Kingdom, the god Amun rose to prominence, so Ra and Amun were merged to form Amun-Ra.


At the top of the temple façade is a row of rampant baboons, praising the sun as it rises.

The Great Temple is 98 feet (30 meters) high and 115 feet (35 meters) wide.


Ra-Harakhte above the door


Nubian captives


Another captive – possibly Hittite, since the temple may also have been a commemoration of Ramses II’s victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE.

The doorway between the colossi leads to the first hall, which contains columns decorated with figures of Ramses II.

Inside this hall are carvings of events, particularly battle scenes, that happened during Ramses II’s reign. These photos are taken from the photo archive of Mohammed Fahey. (We were not allowed to take photos inside.)


The second hall contains four square columns  and is decorated with more benign scenes – Ramses II and Queen Nefertari making offerings to the gods, including the deified Ramses himself.

Abo Simble (54)

Abo Simble (59)

This is over the the entrance to the sanctuary.

The sanctuary contains four statues of the gods to whom the temple is dedicated: Ptah, Amun-Ra, Ramses II, Ra-Horakhte, in that order from left to right.
Abo Simble (314)
An amazing story about these sanctuary statues is that the sun would enter this inner chamber at certain times of day and certain days of the year. On the left, Ptah, is always in darkness, because he is the god of the underworld. The sunlight would penetrate 180 feet (55 meters) into the inner sanctuary to illuminate the statues of Amun-Ra and Ramses II (the two middle figures) for 45 minutes on two important days of the year: February 22, the king’s birthday and October 22, the date of his coronation. This was further emphasis on his elevated status as a god-king.

When the monument was moved up the cliff in the 1960s, the light illuminating the statues changed – but not by much. It now shines on Ramses II for 25 minutes on February 21 and October 21, only one day off from the original dates!

Ramses II apparently loved his wife, Nefertari, so much that he had the Temple of Queen Nefertari built to honor her and the goddess Hathor.  This marks only the second time in ancient Egypt that a pharaoh built a temple for his wife (the first was Akhenaten for Queen Nefertiti). Furthermore, it is the only time where her statue is the same size as that of the pharaoh, each standing 32 feet (10 meters) tall.
Like the Great Temple, Nefertari’s temple faces east. It is about 92 feet (28 meters) long and 40 feet (12 meters) high.20190102_120511d
Four of the six statues are of Ramses II and two are of Nefertari. Smaller statues at their feet represent their children.

The temple doorway leads to a hall which contains six pillars with heads of the goddess Hathor.
Abo Simble (40)

The hall is decorated with scenes of the royal couple making offerings to or worshipping the gods. Behind that is the main sanctuary, where there is a niche with a statue of Hathor as a cow, protecting Ramses II and Nefertari.


View of the lake on the walk back to the parking lot.

We returned to Abu Simbel in the late afternoon, as the sun was setting, to see the Sound20190102_171344d and Light Show. It is worthwhile seeing at least one of these during a visit to the major Egyptian monuments – there are  also Sound & Light Shows at Karnak, Luxor Temple, Kom Ombo and others.

20190102_173300We were each given an audio translator to watch the show. However, among the English translators that were handed out was one in Spanish, which one of the men in the group,  discovered when he turned his on. By the time he found this out, the show had started so there was no way to exchange it. Instead, I traded with him, since I knew I could understand the narration in Spanish.
20190102_173215dIf you wondered what those little boxes were in front of the temples, they are used to project the sound and light show, which starts after sunset.20190102_173300dThe narration tells the story of how the monument was moved higher up the cliff when the dam was being built and also speculates about the life of the ancient Egyptians who built these temples.

Lights illuminate the statues in front of both temples.

With accompanying music, colorful images are projected onto the front of the temples.

The grand finale…

Sources used in this post:
“Abu Simbel: How the Temples Were Saved” in We, Digital Magazine
“Abu Simbel” by Joshua J. Mark in Ancient History Encyclopedia
“Abu Simbel” in Ancient Egypt Online
Fodor’s Egypt, 

CFFC: Signs Along the Way

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is about signs. It is part of her “which way” series, so it refers to the types of signage you see as you go along, whether by car, on foot, bicycle, etc. These kinds of signs tell where things are and which way to go.

On a motorcoach on a tour of Israel, I often took photos of places we were arriving at so I would know where I was when I took those pictures. Road signs seen from a bus:
Urban signs taken from a bus:


Driving through Jericho, Palestine



The Arabic writing over this store in Cairo, Egypt looks like a design, not words.


We did not stop at this restaurant, but I liked the sign, purporting to be a “Biblical” restaurant,  but showing a man holding a pizza!

Signs can be helpful especially if you are in a foreign country (that is, if you can read them!), such as this street sign in Quebec City.
Signs help you locate things when you are from somewhere else, such as hotels…


Would you like to stay at the Nefertiti Hotel in Cairo’s old market area?

…and – most important of all – restrooms!


A most welcome respite when traipsing all over Old Jerusalem!

Signs are helpful on walking tours as well, especially in a popular place like Jerusalem. Some of these are even decorated with pretty designs. I’m particularly partial to multi-lingual signs!


This sign is a mosaic map, but it helps orient the tourist!


Back home, many signs I see along my way advertise someone’s business. I took this from our car on Chicago’s northeast side.



Getting Our Kicks on the Road in Oklahoma (Route 66, Day 7, Part 1)

June 14, 2018

We left Oklahoma City this morning, and acquired our new Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip booklet along the way, which lists many more exciting attractions than the AAA guide we’d been using up to that point! This Oklahoma guide has the advantage of listing all the attractions in order as one finds them along the road. I would advise anyone traveling the Mother Road to visit a tourist bureau as soon as possible when entering each state to obtain whatever guide the state publishes.

On the other hand, one can’t possibly see everything, so must pick and choose according to time and interest.  For example, in Oklahoma City, we missed…
Tower Theater (ornate, historic 1,500 seat theater built in 1937), 425 NW 23rd St.
Oklahoma History Center (Smithsonian-quality exhibits exploring Oklahoma’s geological, commercial, heritage and transportation history; has gift shop and café), 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (art museum featuring western artists,, including several large-scale works)
Memorial Park Cemetery (often called the “Ozark giraffe!”), 13400 N. Kelley
…among other sites!

We were anxious to see Pops, where a 66-foot tall soda bottle, with a straw, rises in front! This is one of the newer attractions along Route 66, located 1/2 mile west of Arcadia, OK (660 W. Hwy 66, Arcadia, OK, pops66.com). This, perhaps the tallest soda bottle in the world, welcomes visitors to a store dedicated to 700 soda varieties. I had told Dale that I was willing to taste one or two, even though I haven’t drank soda in more than 2 years. Alas, we arrived before they were officially open for the day, so although we were allowed to walk around inside the store and take photos, they were not serving soda at that time.


This LED soda bottle lights up in red and blue at night.



Dale makes a face at me through the glass entrance.

Colorful soda bottles line the glass walls inside the steel-beam structure, but when we looked at them up close, we found that the bottles were actually glued to the shelves, for display purposes only. I suppose they have a storeroom full of (cold?) sodas of every variety, but I don’t know for sure.




From there, we stopped when we saw the Round Barn (107 E. Hwy. 66, Arcadia, OK, arcadiaroundbarn.com). It is the only wooden round barn in Oklahoma.  We only stopped to take a photo, but apparently there are exhibits, a gift shop and outdoor displays of primitive farm implements. It also houses the Arcadia Historical & Preservation Society and the second floor can be rented for special events.
We then stopped to look at this plaque alongside the road.
We are not particularly interested in motorcycles so we didn’t stop in Warwick to visit the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum (336992 E. Hwy 66, Warwick, OK).

We did pass through Chandler but we didn’t check out the St. Cloud Hotel (1216 Manvel Ave., Chandler, OK), since we had visited some other historic hotels. It was built before Oklahoma became a state, in 1903, and provided lodgings for thriving commerce of salesman and travelers along the route that would become known as Route 66. This hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A couple of other things in Chandler seemed photo-worthy, though: a historic, very cute Phillips 66 Filling Station, which is in the process of being restored…
and a weird bison statue that I didn’t think was a very good rendering of a bison.
If you are into pioneer history, it might be worthwhile to check out the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History at 719 Manvel Ave. in Chandler. This historical museum contains area history, children’s marionette exhibits and rare, silent movies by cinematographer Benny Kent. They also have materials for genealogy research! The phone number is 405-258-2425.

Our main destination in Chandler was the Route 66 Interpretive Center, supposedly one of the best Route 66 museums along the Mother Road. Located at 400 E. Route 66 in Chandler, it is housed in a historical armory building. It features one-of-a-kind video archives covering Rte. 66 sights and sounds from the 1930s to present day. 20180614_102223
We were given a brief tour,
the guide telling us about the history of the
building and other things;
then we were free to explore the exhibits.
We were ushered through a hall used for special events – they were in the process of setting one up.

Beyond this hall were the exhibition rooms. While we were there, we happened to meet a couple from Australia, who were coming the other way on Route 66. They told us to be sure to check out a vacuum cleaner museum in Missouri (more on that in a future post), which they found to be fascinating. We looked around but didn’t stay to watch the videos, although the exhibits were cleverly laid out where you could sit in period seats to watch historical videos from corresponding decades.20180614_103222
There was also a children’s play area, using characters and sites from the movie Cars to engage kids.
I admit, we rushed through this place – perhaps we were jaded after days of seeing Route 66 historical displays. I actually would recommend this place as one of the best Route 66 museums.

It was probably at the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, located at the interpretive center in Chandler that we picked up our invaluable guide to all the Oklahoma Route 66 sites. A lot of the information I am including in this and the previous post (which included the sites up to Oklahoma City) comes from this booklet, Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate road Trip. We found out about many other attractions that we otherwise would have missed (or already had!).  Really, though, unless one is an absolute Route 66 fanatic, it’s impossible to see them all, and it depends on one’s interest.

The final Chandler site is the Lincoln Motel, built in 1939, with cottage-style rooms and a fine neon sign; it’s a retro haven! It is located at 740 E. 1st St. in Chandler.

Our next destination in Oklahoma was Rock Café at 114 W. Main St. in Stroud, convenient because it was time for lunch!
This iconic Route 66 landmark has been reopened after a fire, still retaining its walls made from rock leftover from building Route 66!

Around the sides and back of the café, the ground was covered with a layer of spongy chips, perhaps from old tires.
It’s an interesting place, with lots of fun memorabilia and bathrooms full of graffiti where everyone is invited to add their (tasteful) graffiti. I tried to do this, but first had trouble locating a vacant space to write and then discovered the pen I had available to write with wouldn’t write on that surface!



A placemat showing Route 66 and sites along the way.


This was my lunch – a bison burger accompanied by breaded fried green tomatoes.

Bathroom graffiti: on the door, the walls, and the ceiling!



Stroud also has wineries:
Territory Cellars, 1521 N. Hwy 99, Stroud. One of Oklahoma’s newest wineries with spacious patios and tasting room. You can make dinner reservations and include wine pairings.
StableRidge Vineyards & Winery, 1916 W. Route 66, Stroud, has locally made wines and tasting room in a historic church built in 1902. It also offers tours and a gift shop.

Other stops along the route between Stroud and Tulsa:
Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy, 25198 S. 481 St. W. Ave., Depew, OK.
Bristow Historical Museum, Depot and Town Square, 1 Railroad Pl., Bristow, OK, 918-367-5151.
Sapulpa Historical Museum, 100 E. Lee, Sapulpa, OK.

Of course there are many sites to see in Tulsa, but we planned to get to Springfield, Missouri by the end of the day, so we only went to one: The Golden Driller statue. Located at 4145 E. 21st St. in Tulsa, this statue is 76 feet tall and weighs 43,500 lbs. It is the largest free-standing statue in the world. Installed for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition, it is Oklahoma’s official state monument and the most photographed landmark in Tulsa.

Perhaps to capitalize on the Golden Driller as a tourist attraction, right next door was Josh’s Sno Shack!20180614_134018
Other Tulsa attractions:
Circle Cinema, Tulsa’s only remaining historic cinema and non-profit art-house theater, showing independent, foreign and documentary films. 12 S. Lewis Ave., Tulsa, OK.
Blue Dome Service Station, built in 1924, this historic building was a Gulf Oil Station and the first gas station in Oklahoma to have hot water, pressurized air, a car wash, and 24/7 service. The restored dome is a landmark of the Blue Dome Entertainment District, which has unique restaurants, shops and nightlife. 311 E. 2nd St., Tulsa, OK.
Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, OK, is home to Mabel B. Little Heritage House and a photographic exhibit of the tragic 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and a gift shop. It’s located in historic Greenwood District, once known as “Black Wall Street.”
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church – this one I am sorry to have missed. This church at 1301 S. Boston, Tulsa, OK is a significant example of Art Deco architecture. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available and admission is free. Call to find out if it is open: 918-583-5181.
Cain’s Ballroom, at 423 N. Main St. in Tulsa, is a historic music venue on the National Register of Historic Places and has hosted many top musical acts including Bob Dylan, U2, Dolly Parton and many others. It is known as the “Carnegie Hall of Western Swing.”
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza at 1390 Southwest Blvd. in Tulsa is a public plaza built to honor Tulsa native, Cyrus Avery, as the “Father of Route 66.” There are flags of all the Route 66 states around “East Meets West”, a large bronze sculpture depicting the conflict between early automobiles and horse-drawn traffic. The plaza sits at the end of a preserved 1917 bridge over the Arkansas River.
Two interesting art museums: Philbrook Museum of Art, a combination of historic home, gardens and collections, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is located at 2727 S. Rockford Rd., Tulsa, OK.  The nationally acclaimed Gilcrease Museum, at 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road in Tulsa has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Native American and Western art, as well as extensive exhibits on America’s prehistory settlement and expansion, and 23 acres of outdoor gardens.

I think I’d like to visit Tulsa again sometime and spend more time exploring these places!