Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunset

From all the pictures I have in the collection, it appears I’m more of a sunrise than a sunset person. So this one was surprisingly difficult. Here are a few, culled out with some difficulty:

Souvik & I went to Goa with our friend Anshu; drove 24 hours to stay 36 hours in Goa; but it was such fun. Here’s the sunset after a particularly exhilarating parasailing attempt by Anshu & me.



Sunset at ‘Sunset Point’, Kanyakumari, which is the sangam of the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. A rare piece of land from where you can catch the sunrise & sunset over the same water, just a few km apart. Which is about all you can do at Kanyakumari!



Sunset at Hearst Castle, California. After a beautiful drive along the Pacific Coast, the sunset was the icing on the cake. Gorgeous!




Sunset in Rome, pretty late on a summer evening. We were walking back from Bocca della Verita (the mouth of truth, remember Roman holiday?), in search of a change from Italian food (imagine!), and just a little gloomy about having to leave Rome the next morning.



Sunset view from our apartment in Ciputra, Hanoi. A riot of colors just before a massive storm heralded by a giant dark cloud coming over from the east.



We finished the must do museum stops on our first day in Firenze, which is great because neither of us can take in any more religious art from 400 years ago!  That said, Michelangelo’s reputation for being the world’s greatest sculptor (among other talents) is truly well-deserved. You can see any number of images of David which do no justice to the original. We hardly looked at any other exhibit in that gallery!
All the guide books advise you on how anti-climax is the Uffizi gallery, and they are all right. After a point we were upto our gills in religious art, and breezed past most of the paintings. But yes, there were many many great artists being exhibited.
Elena, our landlady, marked off a number of interesting spots on the map, and we’re gonna chase those.

Last day in Roma – for now

Day 5
Was a day for recovering from our excesses, mainly for feet. We checked out the train network of Roma, and trudged to the sweetest Basilica Santa Maria de Cosmedin to look at the Bocca Della Verità. What’s that? Think Roman Holiday and the famous scene! The little church was closed by the time we got there, so we couldn’t stick our hand in to take the clichèd picture.

Ended the day with Indian dinner. I never thought I’d say this, but it was a relief to take a break from pasta and cheese!

Ooh! Aah!! Ouch!!!

Day 4
Coming from a “life of leisure” (read idleness) to a city which thrives on walking is certainly taking its toll. At times I fell Rome is tougher than Angkor Wat – you don’t exactly find cabs, etc throwing themselves at you in the hope of “sawari”. In fact the only people who even approach any tourists are the Bangladeshi immigrants, present in fairly large numbers, selling stuff on the streets.
Souvik went on an early morning run to check off another international city, mostly for bragging value.
This day was a bit of a disaster, with Souvik having work emergencies and busy in calls all day. ‘Twas a particularly hot day and out feet did their own share of protesting!
In spite of everything, we did manage to catch some excellent sights.
The power of branding – Michelangelo, at one point in his life was asked to build a base for some statue, and a piazza situated in the middle of some important buildings. Result: you have thousands of people photographing the piazza, and almost no one pays attention to the bronze statue. There is also a staircase to the same piazza that Michelangelo built, which has Its own importance. Hmmm. . . I guess if you said one of the stones in the cobbled paths was selected by Michelangelo, people (including me) would rush to photograph it!

And then we learnt that there was a museo dedicated to the other genius – Leonardo da Vinci. Totally worth walking all the way to Piazza Poppolo to see the work of LDV from his notes to wooden models. That man had no boundaries for thinking – from human body to motion on land, air and water, war machinery, and his best known paintings! Awe-inspiring stuff.
As if the works of these Renaissance masters was not enough to thrill me that Rome had to have one modern site to bring me to my knees ………. You will never guess!
It was my favourite clothing store – Fabindia! (I can hear Reva say “oh God! Of all things!”) I bought a couple of tops at obscene prices, and was truly happy 🙂
Haven’t done my usual amount of shopping on this trip, mostly because dragging Souvik from one kitchenware shop to another one with cosmetics is as horrific as it sounds! I do have (1) cake platter and (2) limoncello and (3) almond macarons for Reva on the list. Plus I haven’t really been tempted by overpriced designer bags and shoes and whatnots. Not in the least, our Florence apartment is on the 3rd floor (no lift) so am trying to keep the bags light until the last possible moment!
It has turned really warm during the day, and we’re planning to take it easy on day 5 in Rome, ditching Tivoli and Villa Borghese. I’ve thrown a coin into the Fontana Trevi, which should ensure a return trip to see whatever we’ve missed.

The day’s over only when I say so!

The jazz performed by street musicians seemed a beautiful end to a lovely day. But the weather got better at sundown and we felt like taking in some more of Rome. Walking in the general direction of home, we came upon the Castel Sant Angelo. In a true serendipity moment, we saw that one road from the castel led straight to Piazza San Pietro – the Via dei Conciliazione built by Mussolini.

St. Peter’s Basilica looked much more benign at night, with its soft lighting, but I have no doubt that with the flick of a switch or two it can turn into a formidable entity by night too.

Caught the train at San Pietro like a couple of pros, then couldn’t open the doors at our station, being the novices that we actually are! Had to get off the next stop and find our way back by bus, and now we know this area like the back of our hand.

My dream vacanze

Day 3
Pantheon – gelato – Fontana Trevi – I can never have too much of this stuff.

Apparently the narrow lanes that lead from one to the other have become legendary too.
Via dei Condetti must be the snootiest lane in all of Roma, with all the designer stores, leading up to the Spanish Steps.

Life at a piazza can never be boring, and Piazza Navona is a universe in itself – sculpture from the last millenium, art from last week, and street performers here and now. Only the locals are unfrazzled, stomping by without a glance, but everyone else has time to stop and stare.

When in Rome, chill on Sunday

Day 1
We took the Leonardo Express from the airport to Roma Termini, and then a cab to the apartment, all the while getting excited about the gorgeous rooftops and domes!
The apartment itself was straight out of a storybook – cosy and charming, from the posters on the walls to the sweet li’l sitout.

There were quite a few guidebooks and maps in the apartment, each one more confusing than the next.
2 hot showers later, we were ready to get to the Vatican to get blessed by the pope. But God had other plans for us. It being a Sunday and many of the buses not operating normally, we walked around the area in search of a bus to take us somewhere, anywhere! After some fun discussions with the locals, we dropped the Vatican idea and decided to head straight to the Colosseum or Colosseo, for which we had tickets.
Much easier to get there, and we soon found ourselves facing the monument with stomachs growling in hunger. Al Gladiatore was the first restaurant in our way, and right across from the Colosseo. What more could we ask for?2 large pizzas, and polished them off with almost no trouble.

We had some time to kill before the designated entry slot into the Colosseo and Palatino, so we walked through the lanes, admiring the buildings and roasting in the heat. Found a great snooze spot right across the Colosseo to spend an hour. A remarkable feature of the city is the water fountains, spouting chilled water for drinking and splashing on your face. The carved stone fountains were particularly cute.
By then we were a little bored of ‘killng time’ and had more than an hour to go, so we walked towards the Colosseo looking for a shaded spot. At the entrance we found that we could start the tour right away, and that is what we did.

I think the Colosseo grows on you. I, of course, tried to visualize the bloody sports the Romans indulged in, almost 2000 years ago! As a structure it is amazing – the sun beats down, but step into a corridor and you can have the coolest breeze to refresh you. The gladiators had no such privileges though. Even the present day dressed-up gladiators must be uncomfortable, having to roam around in their heavy costumes, giving tourists their photo ops.Our next stop was the Palatino, the site where Rome was founded (after some bloody events, naturally). All ruins, but some of the skyline views are spectacular. We also managed to see the panoramic view of the Foro Romano, and skipped walking through it, also because it was closing time.

We decided to spend the evening at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. Getting there was another minor ordeal, figuring out bus routes, actually getting the bus to Stazioni Trastevere, and a short walk made long by my aching feet. All worth it as soon as we stepped into the festive air at the piazza – loads of people hanging out, drinking, laughing, gossipping, watching other people. Some wine and beer inside us and soon I was ‘happy’. Souvik and I had such fun people-watching, and classifying them into locals and tourists from their dress and demeanor.