Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Agra is the home of marvels none greater than the Taj Mahal

In some ways it overwhelms the other significant sites of Agra

So lets save it for last and start with the Tomb of Akbar

Akbar the Great led a huge expansion of the Mughal Empire and built both its military and economic strength.

Akbar arguably took the Mughal Dynnasty from Warlords to Emperors ruling over lands from Uzbekistan in north and well into southern India in the south and to Bangladesh in the east.

Coming by road from New Delhi to Agra the Tomb of Akbar is the significant monument you will come to first as you enter Agra

The Red Fort or Agra fort was the residence of the Mughal Dynasty

The Fort is better described as a walled city given its huge size

But the huge fortifications are definitely fort like

Inside the fortifications the remains of the sumptuous apartments give an indication of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Emporors who resided here

The Fort became a prison for one emporor Shah Jahan, who had commissioned the Taj Mahal, the tribute to his wife who had died.

While the Emperor was ill his youngest son seized power, imprisoning Shah Jahan, in a wing of the fort

From where he could peer out at the tribute to the love of his life and mother of his captor

The Taj Mahal – the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.

As you walk through the entrance gates you can not be taken by the beauty of the Taj Mahal

I’m sure Ive read it is the most beautiful building in the world and from my first sight I can not fault that claim

From afar

From every angle it is truly an awe inspiring building

Up close the detail of the carving in the marble and the inlay work is breath taking

The view from the main deck of the Taj Mahal back to the main gate one surveys the opulence of the grounds.

And of course I could not help but admire the beautiful colours that are India

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

Not Travelling in the time of Coronavirus- Melbourne lock down clips my wings

The second Melbourne, Australia lock down has just been implemented

After being in and out of lock downs in Spain and England and quarantine in a Melbourne Hotel, this second lockdown in Melbourne has finally anchored me.

 

Famous landmarks of the usually bustling city cast with an almost ghostly quietness

Even the usually bustling Victoria Market with its colourful displays of produce, like the life has been sucked out of its ancient stalls and sheds

 

No queuing four deep at my favourite stall

Chance meeting with someone I hadn’t seen for a while

Little is left to chance in the time of coronavirus

At the eastern end of the city

The Monuments, the Shrine of RemembranceĀ  and the Old Observatory along with Gardens and the floral clock stand alone

 

In the lanes and alleyways of the inner city

Usually vibrant

The graffiti almost mocks the quiet desolation

 

The next 6 weeks (the length of this lockdown) will be a time and thought of what has been and what will be.

Something different to share over the coming weeks.

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

Maldon in the Central Goldfields of Victoria, Australia

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In many ways Maldon is the little town that stood still

Built in the 1860’s during the height of the Victorian Gold Rush

It remains largely unchanged

 

There is a lovely 2 hour ride to Maldon through the Central Highlands of Victoria

Past the farming and old logging towns of Greendale and Trentham

To the Spa centres of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

The Hepburn – Newstead road is a little ripper

From Newstead perched on the Loddon River its a gentle curves and sweepers through scrubby bush to Maldon

And its Gold mining history of diggings and old gold processing building ruins

 

And like all good old country towns there is the little quirk

The little Triumph motorcycle shop.

Looking as old as the town and the Triumph Motorcycle itself

Not surprising as Maldon host the a major highlight of the annual All British Motorcycle rally

The ride from the Newstead Racecourse camp ground to Maldon

All-British-Rally-2014-11

One of my most memorable visits to Maldon was to see a round of the 2013 World Motorcycle Trials World Championships

Held on a specially designed course on the side of Mount Tarrengower

Which provides a beautiful view over Maldon

What a beautiful ride on a crisp winters day!

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus

Lone tourist with mask on Lambath Bridge

London was surprisingly quiet as I wended my way to the Tate

Few tourists about

A lone fellow with a face mask taking pics of Parliament House

Even Borough Market had lost its hustle and bustle

It was an easy saunter past Lambath Palace

Past the war museum

Past typical London Street Art

And the Houses of Parliament to the Tate

And an Aubrey Beardsley exhibition

But that was a couple of days ago

And as the WHO declares a Coronavirus pandemic

I’m on the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilboa

Discovering Slovenia – part 2 towns and villages

Discovering Slovenia – part 2 towns and villages

Ptuj, is reputedly the oldest town in Slovenia

Its in the north east not far from the Hungarian border and was a rest point after a to long ride to Romania, the Black Sea and crossing Hungary.

The local wine delish

And as I approached 12000km of travel on my Moto Guzzi

The Ptuj thermal centre was a welcome indulgence.

As was the time to enjoy the Art festival and castle

Brežice was my first stop I Slovenia as I headed east to the Black Sea.

It was my stay here the beauty of the countryside, the town, its Art and the people that made me commit to focus my time in Slovenia on my return west.

Transylvania, legends, royalty and that Irish connection.

Transylvania, legends, royalty and that Irish connection.

Bran Castle

Battling the crowds on the narrow road to Bran

Past Dracula signs

One thinks how did Irishman Bram Stoker imagine this place and create the legend Dracula

The narrow roads are thick with tourists inspired by the legend

The citadel at Sighisoara also claiming it’s part of the legend

Any where that Vlad the Impaler, (who Dracula is based on) stayed dines out on the legend

But the legend disguises the the true beauty of Transylvania

View from Bran Castle

The amazing country side of open pasture

And the old forests around Brasov

And some wonderful biking roads

Near Brasov

The Transfagarsan

And memorials that tell the tale of the fight for Romanian independendance. Achieved in 1918

Though the Habsburg empire still had influence in Romania till the Soviets exiled the remaining Duke in 1947.

Romania is a beautiful and varied country and I’ve still a week here

A Day in Venice

A Day in Venice

Its a three hour easy ride from Cortina d’Ampezzo south to Venezia.

Old Venezia with its labyrinth of walkways and waterways

Hot and humid at the end of a hot Europe July

And grand canals

Of course St Marks Square is the main attraction

But achitectural splendor is around every twist of a canal

Currently the Biennale is on which provides extra cultural stimulation

It was a hot and stricky day in busy Venice but well worth the visit.

Little discoveries in La Vendee, France

Little discoveries in La Vendee, France

In travelling it’s the little discoveriesThe unexpected placesNot spectacular or plannedBut found by a sense of inquiery

These working windmills were one of these in La Vendee .Windmills were common in France but were destroyed during the Revolution as they sat on strategic hilltops

The grain ground here is organic and in the woodfired oven the perfect bread is baked.Pouzauges is a quaint village and its worth going up past the old castle and its panoramic view

To the mill

Even a donkey knows it’s a place to visit.My second was in MonoucantAnd its annual photographic exhibition each summer.

Primarily an outdoors exhibition with amazing images

I love the surprise these little discoveries while on the road