San Diego – Night Impressions
Some folks come to San Diego for the animals – parks and zoos and sea worlds and safaris.
Others revel in the coastal California weather, browse Balboa Park and absorb the dockside naval memorabilia. After all of that predictable sight inspection, the nights are saved for relaxed dining, maybe in Little Italy or the Gas Lamp District. But, as you know, with the mix of light and dark, city streets become a different kind of animal at night and, if you explore the streets with photography in mind, images will dance out at you on most corners. A light source in the darkness adds focus, pointing out something missed in the bleached daylight; architecture unnoticed in the daytime, awakens to reaching shadows and light play. All of this awaits your journey down the night streets of San Diego.
Havana-Creeping into Modernity One Stroke at a Time
When Havanans have access to colour, they apply it with a heavy brush … intense, powerful, striking dabs on an otherwise monochromatic and deteriorating landscape. Colour has always been around, lurking in Havana cultural life, most noted and obvious, the arts, music and architecture. Although suppressed over the past half century, new, bold shades are seeping out from the cracks in the canvas. While paint is desperately lacking in the crumbling architecture, and vision can be clouded by exhaust spewing Ladas, vivid colour is applied liberally to the everyday palette – the showy street costume, the impromptu sax playing in a refurbished plaza, “American cars” dressed up in pop colours cruise by, the full spectrum and style displaying in street art. Locals meander down the Paseo del Prado (a long, wide boulevard built in the late 18th Century) in sexy, current, bright attire – chatting vigorously and, generally, minding their business. Cuban art is on display under tropical vegetation waiting for the highly cherished tourist currency. Locals usually just browse.
For more on the Cuban colour palette see
It’s A Rainy Day In Siberia
Siberia is a frigid and snowy wasteland, right? That’s the myth. Actually, most of the precipitation falls in the summer. If you step off of a Trans-Mongolian Railway car in Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia Republic, Russia for a summer visit of the Buryat Mongol culture be sure to bring your “brolly” and galoshes. The third largest city in Siberia was settled in the 1660’s by Russians and became an important trading centre with China and Mongolia to the south, after the Trans-Siberian Railway reached eastern Siberia. The city is often the first stop for visitors entering Russia from Mongolia and is well worth a visit. It takes about eighteen hours (Russian land border crossings are difficult to predict) by train from Mongolia’s capital city, Ulan-Bataar and at least half that time by bus.
Ulan-Ude was closed until 1991 but it is a bustling centre again; in the historic core many streets contain old merchants mansions, richly decorated in carved wood. The Odigitrievsky (or Hodegetria) Cathedral, built in the mid 18th Century, promoted anti-religious propaganda during the Soviet era. Renovated and back to it’s original purpose, it’s whitewashed architecture stands out even in a summer downpour. Ulan-Ude is also the center of Tibetan buddhism in Russia. For more on Mongolian Buddhism see http://heathersimondsphotography.com/2012/09/13/mongolia-mountaintops/
It does not take long to realize that unless you are traveling with an English speaking companion or you are familiar with Russian, there will be little conversation in Siberia. Ordinary things, as simple as ordering “pizza” in an all Russian menu, will bring on quizzical brow furrowing from the recipient. Better start boning up on Russian phrases in the back of the tour book. Of course, it won’t help but you might be able to negotiate a rail ticket in a crisis later on in the trip so start practicing.