Around Katarina Church in Stockholm

Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

While I like seeing the main sights of any city I visit, I also enjoy walking around aimlessly and seeing what I discover.  Katarina Church (Katarina Kyrka) in Stockholm (Södermalm) was one of those discoveries.  Perhaps if I had done my research ahead of time, the church and its neighborhood would have ended on a ‘must-see’ list.  But it was a lot neater to run into this neighborhood by sheer luck and wanderlust!

Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

Church as seen from Gamla Stan

Katarina Church

The church grounds were pretty in the fall colors and in the gray weather I experienced pretty much the entire weekend I was in Stockholm.Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

The church was undergoing renovations

Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

Cornelisparken – good views of Stockholm

I then walked off a side sidestreet on the opposite side of the square from where I had entered it, Mäster Mikaels gata, with quaint homes that ended with a park, Cornelisparken, that offered a great viewpoint that overlooked Gamla Stan and other parts of Stockholm.  I seemed to be on a roll discovering great spots with great views in Stockholm (another was from City Hall)!Mäster Mikaels gata, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7 Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7

Katarina kyrka, Catherine church, Stockholm, Sweden, fall, color, Sodermalm, travel, tourism, photo, Samsung Galaxy, S7, Gamla Stan, Cornelisparken

View towards Gamla Stan

This part of my longer walk was probably my favorite of the whole weekend and I think yielded some of my favorite photos from the trip!

 

Seeing Athens from a Different Vantage Point

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

AthensAcropolis hill is well-known around the world as the home of the iconic Parthenon, a very unique architectural gem.  However, sitting on the Acropolis has one small downside:  you don’t get to see it whole. Enter, stage northeast, Lycabettus Hill. Located sort of north of Syntagama Square, its base is surrounded by a residential area that is quite nice. The hill can be ascended on foot or via funicular.

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Stairs going up Lycabettus Hill to the funicular base station

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Leaving the funicular station at the base

At the top of the hill, sits the Chapel of St. George.

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Chapel of St. George

And then the best views of Athens and its surroundings from anywhere in the city as Lycabettus is the highest hill in the city.  Well, don’t take my word, take a look for yourself!

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

A sea of white as far as the eye can see in this direction!

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Olympic Stadium (from the 1896 Games, first of the modern times)

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

The Acropolis and the sea beyond

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Closing in on the top of the Acropolis, you can appreciate the Parthenon and other structures

Athens, Greece, Lycabettus, Acropolis, Parthenon, vista, view, Canon EOS Rebel

Where my avatar photo comes from!

 

Who Says Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire?

The Carter Shields Home at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I went to Gatlinburg to spend a week with family touring the area.  By far, it is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) that has been my favorite part of the trip. The towns around here are geared to tourists, which makes sense, but they seem to cater more to the tourist shoppers or folks attracted to wax museums, believe it or not museums, etc.  Not necessarily bad things but, having seen some of those in the past, that is no longer what I seek to experience when seeing a new area.  I could come to this part simply to enjoy nature and skip the towns happily.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Human Stories

The GSMNP, however, is exactly what I seek to experience. As in my trip to Tasmania, discovering “new” types of nature is something I enjoy, even if on this trip I am not able to go on longer hikes than 30 minutes would fit. As my parents are with us, they can only do fairly flat hikes and nothing that takes more than 45 mins round trip (or so). Fortunately, the GSMNP can be enjoyed by everyone as there are many types of stops, short hikes, scenery along the road, and even great history.

As a lover of history, getting exposed to that along with great scenery is a fantastic combination and use of my time (if I focus on efficiency for a sec!). The Cades Cove area and the Roaring Forks area show great examples (real, not built for the purpose) of how people lived 80-150 yrs ago in this wilderness.

The Bales farm, the John Oliver cabin, the Cable Mill, the various churches in Cades Cove, etc. are all great examples of the type of life that took place here in times long gone. Life here was hard though one can over-romanticize it in these times of concrete cities, 100mph lifestyles, etc. Everything seems very peaceful – yet these folks had to work day and night to survive. I especially enjoyed looking at how the structures were constructed following methods no longer in use, even in wooden frame houses. These structures still stand today as witnesses to a not-too-distant past that seems ages ago…

The Carter Shields Home at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove – The Carter Shields Cabin

Detail of the construction in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains National Park

Detail of the construction

Bales Farm in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Bales farm

Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cover in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove – Missionary Baptist Church

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Nature

Besides seeing these testaments to a life long gone by, the area is loaded with trails, picnic areas, streams, and places in nature to explore.  A good map from the National Park staff will do you a lot of good, trust me!

Woods around Ogle farm in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Woods around Ogle farm

Bear crossing road in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Yes, we even saw a bear along our route in the park!

Trail in the Ogle farm - a great nature walk - in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Trail in the Ogle farm

From the house we rented on a mountaintop overlooking Gatlinburg, we can see the GSMNP and it is amazing how at every time of the day, we get a different view as the sun moves across the sky and hits the mountains at different angles. It is simply breathtaking.

Morning view of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Morning view from our cabin

Afternoon view near sunset at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Afternoon view from our cabin

And if you look carefully around the deck of the house, you may even get to see a rabbit… or a black bear.

New Zealand – Traveling from Christchurch to Franz Josef

Canterbury mountain landscape in New Zealand's Southern Alps

In order to get to the village near the Franz Josef glacier on the west coast of NZ, I had to take a train across the mountains in the center of island (which are called unofficially the southern Alps, hence the train is called the Tranz Alpine train).

This train cuts through the plains of Canterbury where Christchurch is on the eastern side of the southern island and then climbs up to Arthur’s Pass before beginning the descent towards Greymouth, a small town on the western coast where I connected to a bus that would then drive me south to Franz Josef village.

Canterbury mountain landscape in New Zealand's Southern Alps

View of the Canterbury terrain

The views were spectacular along the route.  The train had a viewing platform from which one could take pictures without the glare of the train window – but only if one was willing to freeze in the cold wind that hit the platform.

Western side of the island from the train (after crossing the southern Alps of New Zealand)

Western side of the island from the train (after crossing the Southern Alps)

The train ride was very comfortable and made a stop or two where we were allowed to get out and stretch our legs.  The train ride took about 4.5 hours.

The bus ride was also very interesting.  Bus rides here include the driver providing commentary that is quite good for a tourist.  The bus also makes several stops along the way not just to pick passengers but at some scenic spots for pictures or to take in the view.  It also makes one or two stops depending on the route and duration for people to eat something or go to the local supermarket.  This made the trip quite comfortable as one always had access to food and restrooms!  These, I learned on my next trip in the southern island, were typical of bus rides not just the one from Greymouth to Franz Josef.

View of road in New Zealand's southern island

I may become redundant at some point but the beauty of the land is incredible.  I have been to many places I have liked and it continues to amaze me how many types of natural beauty there are around the world.  What strikes me about New Zealand’s west coast is how close the different types of terrain are.  The alpine mountains and glaciers almost touch the ocean where rainforests dominate.  It is like Switzerland by the ocean, sort of (the statement probably doesn’t do justice to NZ or Switzerland but it is the best I have come up with so far!).

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