Tag Archives: Landscape


Armenia – a landlocked country in Western Asia (Caucasus region), sharing its borders with Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are bitter rivals disputing their territory since the 1980’s.  Their current war is in the Nagorno-Karabakh border area.  All of Azerbaijan’s borders are closed to land travel.

We had been using a tourist map that showed areas of Armenia denoting treasured historical and fascinating places to see.

Compare maps:

On our drive to Goris our non-English speaking driver pointed out large amounts of dirt bunkers and with his hands mimicked holding a rifle and made a shooting sound and said Azerbaijan.  Upon searching the internet we realized that we were 100 miles from the conflict area.  Click here to read about it.

*click on photos to enlarge

 We’ve since learned that our passage to Azerbaijan is going to be tenuous once they see Armenian stamps in our passports.  It is understood that we’ll get in but will have to prove we weren’t in this disputed region.

Back to the fun stuff – wowza. The capital city of Yerevan is like a European city with stunning architecture, walking friendly, fabulous sidewalk cafes, parks and decorative fountains galore (most of which were being turned on the day before we left).  It felt very family oriented with parks offering rides and games for children.  Don’t get me wrong old USSR is present but the European charm shines beyond it.

The small Russian Lada cars are commonplace and reminded me of an old times.  Like the old American cars in Havana.

On a clear day you can see Mt. Ararat and said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

It was fascinating to learn that it was here in 301 AD when Gregory the Illuminator converted paganism into Christianity making it the first state to adopt Christianity as their religion.  It was a beautiful but tragic story leading to Gregory being thrown into a pit at Khor Virap for 13 years (I climbed down a long narrow ladder 197’ deep, inside the church, to witness this deep dungeon) only to be removed to save the king from utter madness and change the course of history.  The story reads better than fiction and I encourage you to click on this link  to read about it.

There are stories after stories about Jesus, martyrs, Saints, war, genocide.  The churches (Monasteries) are plentiful, grand and magnificent.

Geghard Monastery (the Monastery of the Spear) is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Carved out of the rocks and allegedly where Jude (Thaddeus) brought and stored the spear that wounded Jesus.

The countryside is stunning.  We’re so lucky to be here when’s it’s green.

Some tid-bits:

  • In the country gas lines are run in pipes above ground.
  • Pulpulka drinking fountains bubble fresh drinking water 24/7 (Armenia is known to have the freshest, clean and natural  drinking water).
  • The soil is rocky and lacking trees.
  • They having a thriving wine industry.  In 2008 wine pots were discovered in a cave dating back some 6,100 years making this the oldest known winery.
  • Small cow herds roam the country and are watched by shepherds.
  • Women (mostly younger) worn oversized blazer.  Perhaps it’s back in season?
  • They believe they escaped COVID by drinking vodka!


Lavash made the old traditional way in the countryside and newer more automated way elsewhere.

It was all enchanting and captivating!  Highly recommended.

Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo (sounds like Ma-pu-tu) is the bustling capital city. Previously named Lourenço Marques after a navigator who explored the area in 1544. Upon independence as a Portuguese colony in 1975 it was renamed Maputo. It borders Eswatini and South Africa.

The architecture is a combination of old uninteresting concrete buildings with occasional unique and charming Mediterranean buildings in between – like the creamy middle of an Oreo cookie.

*click to enlarge photos

The city is right next to the port and easy to get to by foot. The streets are lined with jacaranda and flame trees (our favorite from Baja – árbol de fuego).

Armed police were scattered about and security guards stood in doorways which I took as a warning to keep my camera hidden.

The Maputo Central Train station was quiet with only a couple people wandering around. Two passengers napped on a bench engulfed in their luggage. It’s named one of the top 10 most beautiful train stations in the world by Time Magazine and Newsweek.

Outside of the main city center it became lush and hilly. We only took a short ride but it offered a yin to the city center’s yang.


And we’re off to Cape Town

We left Maseru, Lesotho around 7:30 pm. After a long drive out and back from the falls our driver wanted to stop by his home to grab some clothes and to drop off his 9 mm handgun (later disclosed).

Two hours later we arrived at our hotel in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Thank goodness the restaurant was still open.

JRR Tolkien, the author of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings was born here. However, he moved to England when he was three.

We didn’t have time to explore and we’re off to Beaufort West in the Karoo National Forest – the half point on our drive to Cape Town.

Long gone are the green mountains of Lesotho. It feels like we were transported back to our home state of Nevada – desert and brown. The only difference was the flat top mountains. Although it’s the end of March it’s more like October as they’re heading into winter.

The highway is free of potholes and we are on a mission to get to our next destination. After stops for bathroom breaks, approximately 7 hours later, we rolled into the quaint town of Beaufort West. Old Colonial buildings lined the main road.

This is home town to Christiaan Barnard who, in December 1967, performed the world’s first human heart to heart transplant. Imagine that. Such a feat of medical science in a tiny town in South Africa!

We stayed at the Savoy Hotel equipped with an American diner in its lobby.

Tonight we experienced the power load shedding that has blanketed the country. At 8:00 pm the power shut off. A safety light remained on in the bathroom but otherwise it was dark. So much for charging our devices. We’re pioneers – who needs power?

Power was off and on in the night and in when we left for our last leg of the trip.

It again was startling how similar the landscape was to home until we entered the wine country where vineyard blanketed the horizon. The best advertisement for thirsty travelers.

We said our goodbyes to Stephen in Cape Town, our guide for the past several days. He took good care of us and never lacked for a story to tell. I will give you his information if you decide to go to Lesotho.

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More Photos of Lesotho

Photos were taken through the window, out the window, me sitting in the window – legs in body out (the police had a grin when they drove by), through the sunroof and pulled over and out of the car.

Boys go through an initiation to become a man and they paint their animals and face as part of the process.
Oh, their hats…

We visited a yarn manufacturing store.  The owner teaches disabled people (all women but one man) how to make item yarn so that they have a skill.

Meet the Huang Brothers – Fishermen – Keeping with Tradition

It was my honor to meet and photograph the Haung brothers, both at their home and on the Li River in Guilin, China.In about 1948 the eldest brother Yue Ming (now 86) and following thereafter the youngest brother Yue Chuan (now 79) learned the ways of the Cormorant fisherman.An ancient fishing technique where cormorant birds are trained to dive for fish and return their catch to their master’s raft. If not for the snare tied around the bird’s neck – the cormorant would swallow it’s catch whole.The brothers lived on a houseboat until 1978 at which time the local government gave fishermen land. They built a home on this property and still live in it today. It is modest, reachable only by boat and meals are cooked over campfire.Fishing was a way of life until the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, Cormorant fishing has become a lost source of income but the art form still remains.  River pollution, motorized boats and electric rod fishing have made it hard for the birds to successfully fish.





Meet Mr Xu and his Water Buffalo

Traveling through picture perfect Guilin in China we met Mr. Xu. In the dark of the morning, he and his water buffalo walked over an hour to get to work – arriving just before sunrise.The role of the water buffalo is rapidly changing with the onset of modern machinery and China approving the use of credit – payments over time. More and more the buffalo is becoming a household pet.

Timeless images of Asia wouldn’t be the same if a farmer posed with his tractor…







Photo of the Day 313

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Berlin, Germany

November 8, 2016

#memorialtothemurderedjewsofeurope #berlin #germany #holocaustmemorial #fall #fallcolors #history #gray #visitberlin #memorial #photooftheday #photofrommyday2016 #landscape #landscapephotography#cloudyday #landscape #explore #welltraveled #fromwhereistand #tlpicks #doyoutravel #cntraveler #guardiantravelsnaps #lonelyplanet 

St. Petersburg, Russia

Palace SquareBill, the travel agent, discovered that we can hop on a ferry in Helsinki, Finland and get a 72 hour visa St. Petersburg – the cultural capital of Russia.  All we had to do is present  a hotel confirmation from one of Russia’s approved hotels.

A round trip ticket was only $150. and it included 2 nights on the ferry – so we considered the ferry ride free.

St. Petersburg did indeed live up to it’s cultural hype.  We only had 48 hours and it wasn’t near enough.  The Hermitage alone could take weeks.


Photo of the Day 309

Town Hall Square in charming Tallinn, Estonia – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

November 4, 2016

#tallinn #estonia #townhallsquare #unesco #visitestonia #winter #snow #landscape #explore #welltraveled #fromwhereistand #tlpicks #doyoutravel #cntraveler #guardiantravelsnaps #lonelyplanet #photofrommyday2016 #photooftheday #sonya7rii

Photo of the Day 304

Come sit with me in Provoo, Finland 

#provoo #finland #winter #winterday #supercold #landscape #explore #welltraveled #fromwhereistand #tlpicks #doyoutravel #cntraveler #guardiantravelsnaps #lonelyplanet #photofrommyday2016 #photooftheday

October 30, 2016

Photo of the Day 303

Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland 

October 29, 2016

#uspenskicathedral #helsinki #finland #katajanokka #easternorthodox #cathedral #bluesky #stairs #landscape #explore #welltraveled #fromwhereistand #tlpicks #doyoutravel #cntraveler #guardiantravelsnaps #lonelyplanet #photofrommyday2016 #photooftheday