Sunday, September 27, 2015

Yanchep's Blue Lagoon, Western Australia

The world has its share of beaches where the point is to be seen. Waikiki, Bondi, Ipanema  nature doesn't always provide the main scenery. But if you want to see some of the world's best beaches in solitude, there may be no better place than Western Australia, where your own private sandy paradise is only a short drive away from the capitol city of Perth. A family-friendly favorite of ours is the Yanchep Beach lagoon, just 56 kilometers (35 miles) north of the central business district.

Protected by a finger reef of gritty Tamala limestone that formed during the most recent ice age, water in the lagoon is no deeper than waist-high for the the average adult. The calm, turquoise waters are a perfect natural swimming pool for families with young children who are just learning to swim, particularly at the sheltered southern end of the main pool. There can be a strong current near the mouth of the inlet. Occasional schools of small fish will entertain young snorkellers. And, the clean white sand is an ideal playground for future architects armed with only a bucket, a plastic shovel and dreams. On a crowded summer day there will be no more than a handful of beach-goers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Montjuïc to Montserrat -- Exploring Outwards and Upwards in Barcelona

On the morning of our second day in Barcelona we decided to explore outwards and upwards. 

Stretching between the port and city center, La Rambla is a broad, tree-lined avenue with a central walking arcade. La Rambla takes you into the heart of the city, but its southern terminus also spills you out to the port. La Rambla was easily accessed from our accommodation in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), and we strolled past many flower shops, cafes and souvenir vendors that were just opening around 8am on a Friday. We had several hours ahead of us before an afternoon excursion to Montserrat.

La Rambla

First stop was the statue of Columbus, on a pedestal towering above a roundabout at the southern terminus of La Rambla. True to form for a man who thought he'd found a shorter route to Asia, Cristoforo is pointing in the wrong direction, south. Perhaps he's showing all the new immigrants to Spain the way back? There are sculptures on the base, with historical scenes depicting newly reverent indigenous Americans gratefully welcoming their benevolent colonizers.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Picture is Worth 1000...

You can't win if you don't play. That's the standard Lottery slogan. 

But for some sweepstakes, the only cost to play is the time it takes to enter and maybe of accepting a few extra promotional e-mails, usually for a product or service you enjoy anyway.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gargoyles to Gaudi – Walking in Barcelona

Eight or more sleepless hours in a cramped plane and jet lag looming, my proven solution to getting "on time" while on holiday is to get out and walk, letting sunshine fool my constitution into believing I haven't travelled. If you have more than a day to explore, a city orientation walk is also a good chance to get the lay of the land before deciding what you really want to see, and pay for, when you're better acclimated. When we escaped confinement on Air Canada Rouge and shambolic customs queues at Barcelona's El Prat airport at 11:30am on a Thursday morning, my body screamed that it was only half past 4. After checking into our hotel, we hit the pavement immediately lest we be lured by the ever deadly post-flight nap.

From our base at the Hotel Catedral de Barcelona, the obvious choice for a day 1 walking tour was to roam the central Gothic quarter of the old city and explore outwards in search for classic works of the famous Catalan Modernist architect Antoni Gaudi, trusty Tom's Port Guide in hand.