Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our Little Corner of the World...A Day at the Beach! Santa Monica, California...

I had an appointment in Santa Monica Wednesday afternoon... was a beautiful day so I took my camera!!!

Santa Monica has the loveliest boardwalk...
...perched high above Pacific Coast Highway.

It's definitely a traveler's destination spot when traveling to California
from anywhere in the world.

The pier is iconic...
...complete with roller coaster and ferris wheel.

But the real interest when walking the boardwalk, at least for me,
and of course, aside from the spectacular ocean, is (crazy) people watching!
Notice anything odd about the footbridge over PCH?

Yep!!!  Like I said...there are bunches of crazy people down there!!!
I first saw this guy standing on the cement rail that runs the edge of the boardwalk...
about 80 feet above PCH (Pacific Coast Highway-a rather busy main road that runs along the ocean.)
He was just standing on the railing...stretching a bit...and I figured showing off a bit.
I didn't snap a pic then....but when I saw him jump onto the footbridge rail and start to 
almost dance his way to the highest arc of the bridge, I started snapping!
Keep in mind, the bridge crosses over PCH, probably around 80 feet above, 
and it was commuter traffic time so there were quite a few cars moving at quite a clip.

He drew some attention...there were several of us watching...but most of the world went by,
hardly noticing!

He was a relatively small guy with about 0% body fat...
and the first thing I thought watching him balance on the railing, and again on the footbridge was...
"Wow!  He's got a really strong core!!!"
(I take Pilates and core is what it's all about!)
I even said it out loud!  The guy nearest me turned and agreed...
and then responded "and he's crazy too!!!"

So...when you're at the beach at sunset with your camera...
and the crazy people are beginning to blend in with the crowd...
you're gonna snap a bunch of sunset photos!!!

  ISO 200 - 52mm - f/9.0 - 1/8000
It wasn't this dark when I took the shot, but this is pretty much straight out of the camera!
With no clouds around the sun it was hard to get a good pic with settings that fit the
actual time of day, so I played until I got something I liked!

ISO 200 - 52mm - f/9.0 - 1/1200             

I heard this guy first before I saw him...he was pretty good.
I was looking at him with the sun in the background and immediately thought B&W silhouette...
but when I was playing with it in LR...
I had to leave just a smidgen of color!...
(partly because of the rather blown out sun path...I'll be playing with LR again soon!)

Yeah...this is how light it was when I took the 3 above! 
Pretty sneaky of me, eh???

And of course, guess who showed up, doing upside down push ups on
the cement post next to the boardwalk fence, next to the 80 foot cliff!!!

Now...if you watch HG TV at know California is on the expensive side
when it comes to buying houses...especially in our beach communities.
So how many millions do you think these these little beachfront gems would go for?

ISO 200 - 78mm - f/9.0 - 1/6400
So now the color is starting to show...
and I'm still playing with the settings.

ISO 200 - 52mm - f/22- 1/80

 No...I didn't see the green flash this time.
But I did catch the one bit of contrail left in the sky!!!

On a side note...have you ever heard the superstition
that if a bird craps directly on you, it is the greatest of good luck? 
Many cultures have this superstition, and a number of them say that you will be wealthy soon.

Well...I didn't amass great wealth or good luck the first time this happened to me...
way back when I was young and headed for lots of ups and downs in my life...

But this time???
I know I'm lucky!!!

I wonder if the amount of good luck is relative to the amount of %&*#
that hits pay dirt?
If so...then I'm not just lucky...I'm REALLY lucky!!!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Little Corner of the World...The Last Bits of our Glorious Visit in Budapest!

Wrapping up the little details of our trip...

TheChief thought he'd compare cop bellies...
Too many doughnuts???

If your motor bike needs a paint job-skip the paint and decopage it!!!

Our first night in Budapest, we asked the concierge of the hotel where 
we could get a good dinner, with local food... 
...she pointed us down the road, not far from the hotel...
....we walked...
...and boy, was it delightful!!!

We had local wine...
(I dare you to pronounce this one!)

 ...and absolutely yummy food!!!
I had Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls...or Töltött Káposzta...
Very much like how my mother used to make them!!!  And no, she wasn't Hungarian,
she was Swiss. but she was a great cook! 
I haven't tried this recipe, but it looks similar to my mom's and the restaurant's!!!

 This was our view as we walked back to the hotel!
St. Mathias all lit up!

I have a feeling, when someone writes a fairy tale...
they envision Budapest!!!

Not bad for a cell phone, eh???
That's the Fisherman's Bastion again!

For our last night in Budapest, we went all out!
We headed over to the Fisherman's Bastion, climbed some stairs...and voila!
A superbly elegant dining room in the tower, over looking the Danube...
with delicious gourmet food!

Another walk home, past St. Mathias...
...I just couldn't get enough of this gorgeous church!!!

Well...that wraps up our final days in Budapest!

If you're interested in this Grand European Tour for yourself....
...we went with Viking River Cruises, Grand European Tour.
Our ship was the Viking Embla.
We started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest.
We added time in both Amsterdam and Budapest.
And I'll give you a tip...we registered for tickets a year and a half in advance... we got a two for one price!

I absolutely recommend ending the cruise in Budapest as you don't want to miss
that first sight of this beautiful city all lit up!!!

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Little Corner of the World...Even More Beautiful Architecture in Budapest!!!

Just when you think you've seen all the beauty there can be
 in beautiful Budapest...

On our last day we headed to St. Stephen's Basilica...

Pretty much like all the cathedral's in Europe...

...until you step inside!!!

Ooooh's  and ahhhhh's start as soon as you walk in the door...

The detail is exquisite!!!

While there, we heard notes played on the organ one at a time...and for extended time...
I think they were tuning the organ!!!

There's a story behind the holy right hand of St. Stephen...

To summarize, King Stephen was the first Hungarian King, 1000-1038.
While he actually became King in 997, 
he was presented with a royal crown by Pope Sylvester II
establishing Hungary as a Christian nation.
When he died he was buried in a sarcophagus.
The body was removed and reburied later in an underground catacomb out of fear
that the grave would be disturbed. 
At the time of the reburial, the right hand of King Stephan was removed as it was alleged
to have miraculous properties.
It was taken to the treasury of the basilica, then stolen by the guard.
He hid the hand on his estate in what is now Romania.
The hand was discovered during the reign of King Laszlo.
He forgave the thief and erected a monastery on the spot where it was found.
After the 15th Century the Right Hand was removed and returned.
During the Turkish occupation it was held by Dominican Friars.
Later, the hand was purchased by Queen Maria Theresa for her subjects.
Of course...that's just one story...
...there seem to be a few variations.

Yep...there is a hand in this display case...
...and it is just about 1000 years old.

It's hard to see with all the reflections...but then again...
I wasn't really sure I wanted to see it all that clearly!!!

He died in 1038, and was canonized in 1083.

This truly is an amazingly beautiful church.

Every inch is stunning in it's detail.

Whether or not St. Stephan's hand rests in the basilica...
...and whether or not it has miraculous properties...
...this church is pretty darned close to miraculous!!!

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Our Little Corner of the World...More Touring of Budapest!!!

Another day of touring Budapest!!!

This gorgeous building is the Hungarian Parliament building...
also one of the beautifully lit buildings I shot as we sailed into Budapest the first night!

Instead of the beach...hanging out on the sides of the Danube!!!

Tri-color Olympic rings at the opening of Olimpia Park...

...led to some clowning around...

...Art and Linda are getting ready for some Olympics!!!

Just look at the detail under this bridge!!!
There is beauty in every nook and cranny in this stunning city!!!

This spot is a little more challenging to get to than the the steps above!

Margaret Island is a lovely spot for a quiet afternoon...
watching the dancing waters!!!

I couldn't resist photographing this precious little sweetie!!!

Under the bridge! 

Just look at the details in this building!

And then there's this one!  Glittering where the light hits its...
it looked like gold leaf!

Heading back to our hotel in the Buda hills, we took the funicular!!!
It was quite a ride with quite a view!

Right outside the funicular door we found Cleo's twin!!!


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