Easter Time in Bulgaria and Other Spring Festivities

Thanks for the post. The eggs are really cute and the ambience around the post is cosy.

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What to see in Leuven

Discovering Belgium

I love the Flemish city of Leuven and think I know it fairly well, but recently I came across a video that made me look at it in a new light. In addition, to celebrate (hopefully) the end of Winter, I also include a few Spring photos of one of my favourite spots in the city; the Botanic Garden.

Leuven in Motion by Basel Zobieda

This is a wonderful stop-motion video about Leuven by Basel Zobieda, a Syrian Belgian who has lived here for eight years. He used 15,000 photos and 250 videos from more than 50 different locations in Leuven. The video clearly demonstrates his photographic skills as well as his love for his home city.

Basel came to Belgium eight years ago just before the war in Syria erupted. He worked on the video for four months, usually in the evenings after his kinesiotherapy lessons at the University…

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Day 2. Sightseeing in Rome

Beautiful travel story from Love Travelling. I feel as if the post makes me follow her journey in Rome.

Love Travelling

We woke at 8.00 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant before catching the metro to Ottaviano S. Pietro station so that we could visit the Vatican.  Since 1929 the Vatican has been an independent state and is located across the Tiber river from central Rome.  It was a beautiful sunny morning as we joined the crowds in St. Peter’s Square.  The centrepiece of the Vatican is the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica built between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Untitled Approaching Vatican City, Rome

The queue to enter the Basilica seemed endless, snaking all the way around the square and more besides.  It hardly appeared to be moving and the thought of spending about three hours queuing convinced us to just explore the outer parts instead.

Untitled St. Peter’s Square, Rome

We admired the Piazza San Pietro which is a large oval area built between 1656 and 1667 to…

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Romance in the Alhambra Palace, Granada Spain

It was a lovely sunny day in October. After finishing the thesis, I needed time doing nothing while listening to the sound of wave in the ocean. It was not too bad choice heading to Malaga in Spain, one of the Britain’s favourite destination for holiday. Doing nothing in Malaga was still painful, so I decided to do one-day trip to Granada, which is approximately one and half an hour away from Malaga city by bus. Bus is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Granada.

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Granada City Centre Photographed by Semi Hong

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Granada City Centre Photographed by Semi Hong

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Small Shops in an Exotic Ally Photographed by Semi Hong

Strongly influenced by Islam culture with strong sunshine, exotic streets and narrow alleys caught my eyes.  Before Christianity reconquered the city in 1492, Islam culture long lasted for 700 years in Andalusia, Spain.  I had a feeling in a narrow street as if I was in Morocco with the Islamic influence. Since I had some time until the admission to the Alhambra palace, I had a stroll in the street. Mysteriously, I could smell of that of Islamic country from the air and long history was definitely breathing in the entire city.

Due to an unusual hit in October — I was not used to this hot weather in October — my face was quickly covered by sweat. Hoping to have a cooler weather, I arrived in the entrance of the Alhambra Palace. Famous with its tales of the Alhambra, Washington Irving wrote tales of the Alhambra describing Granada was “”a most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the loveliest landscapes that I have ever seen.”

Stepping in to the Alhambra Palace, I was as if entering into the actual world of the tales. The Palace was spacious that took me a couple of hours to complete the tour. Unlike its fame as the most visited tourist site in Spain, the Palace was strangely serene despite many visitors.

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Photographed by Semi Hong

The serenity was even magnified by water fountains installed everywhere in the Palace. The babbling sound of the fountains made me more focus on the beauty of the architecture. Indeed, according to the tour guide, water in Islamic architecture plays a important role representing human life.

Water is not merely a functional addition to architecture and design, it is an integral part of architecture in both religious and secular systems – shaping the aesthetics of landscapes and breathing life into structures. Water has notably been greatly used in Islamic architecture across the Middle East, as far as India to the East and Spain. Retrieved from https://theculturetrip.com/middle-east/articles/water-in-islamic-architecture/

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Photographed by Semi Hong
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Photographed by Semi Hong

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Photographed by Semi Hong

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Photographed by Semi Hong

Walking to a building to another building, I could not take my eyes off the decoration on the wall and the beautiful architecture — the medieval masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

Along with the beautifully carved patterns, there are 10,000 inscriptions on the wall.

Some inscriptions are beautiful poetry whereas others provide information on construction dates of building within the Alhambra. These writings also give us clues into the functionality of different spaces around the palaces. Retrieved from https://www.piccavey.com/granada-alhambra-walls/

Moreover, the colourful textile also covered the wall of the Palace, which blows more passion to the Alhambra Palace. The colour of the textile was a bit faded, yet, it was also representing the quiet and lonely tales of the Palace.

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Photographed by Semi Hong

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Photographed by Semi Hong

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Photographed by Semi Hong

By the time the tour was completed, the sky was being tinted red from the sunset and darkness that started its life soon. The grand palace reminded people of its prosperity, but, the Place reflecting against the sunset told me its life cycle. The Last Sigh of the Moor couldn’t be more suitable with the sunset of the Alhambra.

The Last Sigh of the Moor 
After snatching the last redoubt of the Muslim domination to Boabdil, the king Moor and his retinue were exiled of Granada and a small territory in the barren Alpujarras was yielded them, where they would still hold years.

The fall of Granada had to the unconcern of Boabdil by the defense of Granada and its affinity to the celebrations and to the leisure. It is at the moment of the delivery of the key from the city to Catholics Kings, when Boabdil breaks to cry, and was his own mother who will say to him: “You do not cry like woman which you have not known to defend like man”.

Way to the exile, Boabdil did not dare to turn the glance towards Granada, and when it was to much distance, on the well-known hill by the Sigh of the Moor he stopped and observing for the last time his palace… he only sighed. Retrieved from http://www.alhambra.info/en/legends-alhambra.asp

 

 

 

Last Day in Kyiv/Kiev, Ukraine the Little Warrior

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Photographed by Semi Hong

At last, my last day in Kiev had come. Thanks to my friends, I got to see and experience local Ukrainian culture and their daily life. Vitalii and Ksenya invited me to their house for dinner. The couple’s place is located in the outskirt of Kiev, which took us about 30 minutes by car from the city. Their apartment looked more like a Soviet giant, however, the inside the house was cozy and filled with laughters. Vitalii invited another friend couple. Despite our fist meeting, Vitalii and his friends were sweet.

Like the old days, after dinner, Vitalii took his guitar out and started playing music he just created. I also took out a cake I bought from Roshen — a truncated version of Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine — that completed our small concert.

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Our music and laughters painted the dark sky in Kiev, and the night had passed. The outside the apartment was too serene to make a sound. Chilled air is surprisingly refreshing at that night.

The next day, Vitalii and Ksenya showed their sincere hospitality by seeing me off the airport. I remember Ksneya said “So, Korean people appreciate four seasons and the changes come every year. I will write about it, as we did not think about it before.” At first sight, Ukraine and South Korea are a random combination, yet, we communicated each other with heart. Kiev left in my mind as a heartwarming city with genuine people.