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Old September 11th, 2012, 05:13 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Happy Birthday SSC - 100 Europe Photo Feast

1. There is no better place to start but the Netherlands. Rotterdam has quite a lot of interesting architectural experiments.



2. Nearby, Kinderdijk offered a close-up experience with the windmills. So I grabbed a bicycle and did some exploring!



3. London used to be my first port of fall and central flying location for my past Europe trips. I've created 2 threads recently to showcase my London collection as part of the Olympics celebration. Here's one of my favourites - the Routemaster bus.



4. Recent years of economic uncertaintly have prompted me to indulge in less financially-damaging trips. No trips would be cut, but I opted for cheaper locations, such as Spain, which offered great value for money and plenty of sun. I made it into Cordoba just in time to see the Mezquita for free. That Muslim mosque with a Christian cathedral in the middle is quite awesome.









8. I was very concerned about the lines and collecting tickets at Granada's Alhambra - so much that I even did a mock walk uphill to the entrance to time myself. This fortress / palace is nothing short of amazing. I paid less than 50 euros a night for a hotel in the centre of town!





10. Lisbon is another one of those magical surprises that impressed me. Having gotten a sneak preview in Macau before, I must say Lisbon is so much different, with lots of gritty sidestreets that climb up and down the hillsides, only to be cut off by the flat and redesigned Baixa with monumental squares and grand buildings.



11. There were plenty of vantage points to appreciate it all.





13. Not a drop of rain fell during our entire Prague stay - my most glorious trip ever. There was barely a cloud in sight.







16. Prague had set a few records for me - the most photographs taken in a single day, and the most number of battery recharges I had to do (I had 2 batteries). We would sweep street after street photographing everything and anything along the way. On the craziest day, I clocked in some 1800 photos and had to go back to the apartment twice to recharge my batteries.









20. On the other hand, Budapest was a disappointment. It got to an awful start with transit police deliberately targeting unsuspecting tourists who didn't realize Budapest had one of the most unique metro systems in the world where changing lines cost an extra fare.



21. The trains were certainly very rustic.



22. Nevertheless, Buda Castle was nice as were the hillside vantage points nearby.







25. I was impressed by Danish design, and Copenhagen was a fun trip with decent weather and cool temperatures, making long walking tours bearable. Ironically, I bumped shoulders with a Hong Kong tour group here.



26. Orestad is a haven for new architecture, and very bold designs. There are plenty of open spaces for residents to enjoy life.



27. Across the water, Malmo also has a new district, but dominated by a single, twisty building.







30. Paris evokes mixed memories. My first visit in 2005 was comprehensive, but on a shoestring budget. The second visit in 2011 was marred by thieves disabling the RER airport line, forcing me to pay a fortune to catch my flight.



31. The standard postcard shot. Bonjour, Paris!



32. The streets were very nice though, with the building heights being just right to naturally light the streets and the decorative ornaments.



33. A red double-decker in Paris?



34. My friend convinced me to venture beyond my comfort zone and try out a former Soviet Republic. Riga was a fun weekend getaway. No, I wasn't there for a stag. I was there for ... the fall colours.





36. I was impressed. This was far better than I had expected.







39. So the year after, I visited Tallinn as well, where I had my first close encounter with a Russian Orthodox church.



40. The sun just makes everything so beautiful.



41. With so much impressive Art Nouveau in Riga and Helsinki, I was disappointed I couldn't make it to Tallinn's collection on this day trip. I took my time to explore the Old Town extensively, taking advantage of the great weather to enjoy these views.











45. I chose to visit Helsinki because I could redeem a super saver hotel reward on points. Having stayed in Beijing earlier in the year for 2 weeks, I massed enough points to redeem 3 nights for almost free!







48. Simplicity can be a good thing.



49. Watch your back.



50. My friend asked if I wanted to visit Munich's Oktoberfest. Being a light drinker, I was at first not so interested, but it turned out to be far different than the binge drinking and resulting civic disorder that I had anticipated.







53. On a lighter note, the Black Forest was anything but dark.







56. Get your daily fruit intake by finding something fresh in the orchard.





58. Vienna was a nice break after a stressful few days in Budapest. The city was grand, and safe to walk around.



59. The markets were tidy and colourful.







62. Seville gets quite hot in the summer, and the residents have figured out a great way to shield the sun's heat while letting a few rays get through.







64. The irony was the weather forecast called for thunderstorms, but I guess these storms were blue.



65. I did 2 day trips out of Madrid. This one to Segovia yielded magnificent results.





67. The other was Toledo.







70. Having spent so much time exploring cities, I was hoping to explore some mountain scenery in Austria. Salzburg was my first stop, but a freak snowstorm derailed those plans.





72. But then, church interiors and museum exhibits can be photographed in any weather.







74. The sun only came out just as I was about to leave Innsbruck. Depressing ...











79. Mountain scenery also eluded me in Switzerland as well. Who knew there would be thunderstorms in Zurich in May?







82. Despite their seemingly harmless looks, these cows were not friendly at all and were about to embark on a bull charge.



83. My luck tends to turn bad on eco-tourism trips. Crazy downpours were rampant during my hiking trip to Cinque Terre, although the sun did peek out once in a while to give some encouragement.











88. With the sea just steps away, of course we had to pick a seafood pizza.



89. On the theme of water, Venice would feature high on the list. It was a very touristy city, and had the worst food I ever had in Italy. Nevertheless, the historic buildings along the canals were very unique.





91. No expensive gondola rides for me though! I rode a commuter gondola instead to cross the river.



92. Many Venetian churches charged for entry. I don't understand why anyone would charge a fee to enter the house of God. This is yet another sign that tourism (that's me!) is destroying Venice.



93. Many of these buildings have withstood the test of time, with a few showing some obvious signs of wear.



94. Here's the Amsterdam version of slanted buildings.



95. Avignon showcases just how corrupt the papacy was to have spent so much fortune on their palace.



96. I'm fairly new to the road trip concept. Iceland was a great place to do it, with vast distances between sights.











Happy birthday, SSC.
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Old September 15th, 2012, 05:31 AM   #2
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interesting thread...you've been to many places.
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Old September 15th, 2012, 06:09 AM   #3
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Great pictures! I am always amazed at how much you travel!
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Old September 15th, 2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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Indeed great and very nice photos
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Old September 17th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Great pictures! I am always amazed at how much you travel!
With cheap flights from Hong Kong to Europe, I try to make a trip at least once every year. Ryanair and easyJet will take care of the rest once I am in Europe.
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Old September 12th, 2013, 06:52 PM   #6
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50 more photos as SSC celebrates yet another birthday.

Stonehenge visitors are allowed to circle around the monument and admire it from a distance. Only a very limited number of people can view the stone circles from up-close outside regular visiting hours.



Situated in a valley and surrounded by hills, Bath has a mix of Roman and Georgian heritage sites to visit.









Try out the spa water!



After a short ride from Frankfurt's airport, I emerged in Altstadt, the old town.











The Kaiserdom opened in 1239 and was the location of 10 imperial coronations over some 200 years. Expansion continued in subsequent centuries, and a major restoration took place in 867 after a fire.







Valencia is a big city, yet it is laid-back and not overrun by tourists like in Barcelona or down south in Andalucia. Hotel prices, like in most of Spain, are rock-bottom, but even more value for money here.

















Welcome back to Barcelona. Too bad the weather didn't co-operate once again.



















Porto's grand avenue has a big open space for pedestrians and beautifully-decorated buildings along both sides.









Mercado do Bolhão is a few blocks away from the grand avenue, catering to locals with fresh foods, flowers, and many other varieties of merchandise.





Right across the Dom Luis I Bridge is an observation area perched above a hill with lovely views of the city.





Conveniently located between Milan and Venice, Verona has plenty of history see but without the throngs of tourists and overpriced traps.











Strasbourg's Cathédrale Notre-Dame is quite an amazing sight.





Fall is a great time to visit Riga. These changing colours are not far from the city.



This is not just a place for stags.





Bratislava is only an hour away from Vienna and has a wonderful old town - a surprise finding for me.

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Old September 12th, 2013, 07:37 PM   #7
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A fantstic collection of images. Do you work in the travel industry? You certainly do get around!
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Old September 12th, 2013, 08:32 PM   #8
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Really great, very nice updates
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Old September 12th, 2013, 09:14 PM   #9
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Fantastic photo tour there - beautiful pictures. I enjoyed the commentary too.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 05:42 AM   #10
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this is quite an impressive collection of photos you've been to....you're a lucky man.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 06:58 AM   #11
hkskyline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by openlyJane View Post
A fantstic collection of images. Do you work in the travel industry? You certainly do get around!
Nah, all vacations, but the collection was accumulated over a number of years.
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