[…Helsinki, Finland July 2011…]
On my research about Finland in general, I came across this Finnish word sisu and found out that it means strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. It is also a word that is used to describe an understanding of the Finnish culture. The word sisu and its meaning is something that interested me the most in my reading. Apparently, the word is so popular that it has been used in many occasions, but what I liked the most is how Time magazine has described it: The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win.
[…Read more about Helsinki…]
[…Dublin, Ireland June 11, 2011…]
With only a little over 3 hours of sleep last night, I was up at 4 this morning to catch some blues. I left the drapes undrawn so I’ll have unobstructed view of the light, and there it was – a deep blue picture staring at me as I opened my eyes. My destination was just across the street so it did not take me long to get to the Sean Casey bridge, and then later to Ha’Penny after a brisk walk to chase the fading light. Early morning with a nice cool breeze blowing, hardly any cars nor people on the streets, it’s just me and my bridges – just the way I like it.
I was back at the hotel at 5:45 since I decided to take some post-sunrise shots as well over at the Samuel Beckett. The light was good today – not great, but good enough that I couldn’t have asked for anything more. When you live in gray England as a photographer, just good light is good enough.
[…Read more about Wicklow…]
[…Dublin, Ireland June 10, 2011…]
They gave me a room on the 4th floor overlooking the Liffey river. It’s one of those windows that does not open all the way in case some nutcase wanted to jump. Definitely no jumper here, just wanted to see if the barrel of my lens would squeeze in through the gap, and it wouldn’t. Too bad, because I have a nice view, and although it has some blind spots, it still gives me a decent visual sweep of the south bank which seems to contain most of the attractions. I have the three-masted Jeanie Johnston ship almost directly below me, the Sean O’Casey bridge to the right, and Calatrava’s Samuel Beckett bridge is not too far downstream.
I’ve been skeptical about the weather since I got here. It looks like two different stories written in the sky. It has been sunny for the most part, with passing rain showers at least once a day. On the third day though it was just unforgiving rain – a bitter reminder of how photographers are always at the mercy of the weather. It is also a true test of one’s faith; I seem to pray more often when it rains.
[…Read more about Dublin…]
[…Monasterio de Piedra, Nuévalos – Zaragoza, Spain May 29, 2011…]
Fans of literary genius Paulo Coelho will recognize the play on title as being inspired by his bestselling novel “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.” The river Piedra, as you might know, was one of the settings for this novel about love and spirituality. Being a Coelho fan myself, it was a pleasure to see the same river that his heroine Pilar came to, although unlike her, I did not come here for spiritual cleansing or deep meditation. I have seen photos of this place during my research on Zaragoza, and that triggered my desire to see it for myself.
I’ve read that it is believed that anything you give up to the river Piedra will disappear forever. Its geological location being high in calcium carbonate, makes it so that whatever the river touches turns to stone, thereby it is also known as the stone river, “piedra” meaning stone. I did not have any intentions of making wishes when I got there, but it turned out that I was forced to make one – and that is, for the rain to stop!
[…Read more about Zaragoza…]
[…Zaragoza, Spain May 28, 2011…]
It’s not your most popular Spanish city, that’s for sure, but it’s not missing any of that Spanish flair and spunk. With 200 years of trying to keep up with the rest of the country, present-day Zaragoza gives the impression of a city eager to modernize itself while still keeping its nostalgic past of Roman and Islamic influence intact.
There are not many countries where I’ve been to that a vacation turns out to be really what it should be – non-stressful and just plain indulgent. Spain, to me, is one of those places I enjoy – yes, even during the hours in-between dawn and dusk. It has that certain atmosphere that encourages one to take it slow and allow time to take its course. The Spaniards are, after all, known for their relaxed pace and love for celebrations as is evident in their year-round fiestas. They enjoy their late leisurely-long lunches and dinners, greet each other with a kiss, touch when they talk, and are generally fun and company-loving people. While sitting in the airport bus on the way to the city late last night, the endless loud chatter around me could feel exhausting to some, but here, it’s a testimony of their tireless zest for life regardless of what time of day it is.
[…Read more about Zaragoza…]
[…Riga, Latvia May 19, 2011…]
When I first looked at Riga’s map, it seemed to me like a huge city, so at first I was concerned about having to get to one place to another in a short span of time. But arriving here, I quickly found out for myself that it’s compact, walkable, and as an added plus – has easy orientation with well-planned street layout. The landmarks are distinguishable, and when you’re walking around old town, all you need to to do in case you lose your bearing is to look up at the church spires – sort of like the North Star guiding your way.
The skyline of Riga is dominated by church spires. I lost count of how many churches there are but the famous ones are the Riga Dom, St. Peter’s and St. Jacob’s Church. Not only the churches have the pointy tops, even the town hall and the Latvian Academy of Sciences bear it. Of course, they look great across the river at sunset or twilight when their silhouettes stand out against the blue sky.
[…Read more about Riga…]