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My Favorite Images from the Mediterranean — 2015

Florence Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Florence Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Looking back on the series on our Mediterranean Cruise, it occurred to me that I came away with some “favorite” images. I thought I would revisit and showcase those images in a blog all its own.

La Segrada Familia Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

La Segrada Familia
Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I grew up in the middle Northwest of the United States (Michigan), and have spent a fair amount of time on its East Coast. Except for some brief forays into Canada and a trip or two to the Caribbean, until 2013, I had never been out of the continental United State. To be sure, we have many wonderful venues in our great country and I have yet to see all of them. But going to Europe, where history is seen in 1000’s of years, in contrast to our U.S. history of 100’s of years, is a humbling experience. There is so much to see, appreciate and photograph. One day, I will do a travel favorite images blog. But for today – images from Mediterranean Europe; 2015.

Museu Nacional D'art Catalunya Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Museu Nacional D’art Catalunya
Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

While it is certainly not my “best” travel photo and does not really capture the spirit of big, bold city of Barcelona, the first image I captured from our touring van of the Museu Nacional D’art Catalunya, resonates with me for some reason. It does rain in Europe, after all.

Palau De Musica Barcelona, Spain Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Palau De Musica Barcelona, Spain
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona is about modern art and architecture. But it is equally about Calalunya and Catalonian culture. So my shot of the Palau De Musica, with the Catalonian Flag prominently displayed, and the colorful art and architecture, represents Barcelona as well as I can.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

When I think of France, I think of wine and romance. My favorites for our short visit to Provence were the first vineyard we visited – Chateau La Dorgonne – and my shot of the fountain at Aix en Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I love Italy. The food, the art, the architecture, the culture and it’s enthusiastic and at the same time, “laid back” citizens. We didn’t really get to know Tuscany in an intimate way. I really would like to go back and spend some time there, like we did in Venice in 2013. Of course, the big draw for tourism is Pisa and Florence, and my shots of the Tower and the Passageway/Bridge were my “takeaways” from that day. Historically, these visits were a highlight of the trip. Photographically, while satisfying, I didn’t really make any particularly unique images.

Bell Tower Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Bell Tower
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

 

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Ponte Vecchio
Florence, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Rome speaks for itself. The ancient ruins; the Coliseum; the Vatican, and the many other historical places are amazing. It is again, a city I could spend a few days in with ease. I would like to see some of the neighborhoods, and leisurely enjoy its night life and its great restaurants and food. It is a magnificent and grandiose city, as one might expect. My favorite image was of a tour boat on the river with the Castel Angel in the background. Our driver stopped in traffic while I jumped out on the bridge to capture this shot. The boat was an unplanned bonus.

Castel Angel Rome, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Castel Angel
Rome, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The shot of the Roman Forum is different from the one recently posted in my blog, but is also one of my favorite images from this trip to Rome.

The Roman Forum Rome, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The Roman Forum
Rome, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I didn’t get to see much of Montenegro. I would certainly return there if the itinerary or opportunity presented itself. Hopefully my image represents the spirit of the place.

Kotor Montenegro Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kotor Montenegro
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The trip to the Acropolis is always impressive. But the shot of the soldiers, coming out of the Agora after raising the flag for the day, was an unexpected and nice photo opportunity.

Flag Detail The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Flag Detail
The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Intimate shots have always been a draw for me, and much of my portfolio “favorites” are of such shots, rather than the iconic images (which I also shoot a lot of imagery of). This garden shot is probably my favorite of this trip to Athens.

Detail The Agora; Athens, Greece Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Detail
The Agora; Athens, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I am looking forward to my next trip to the Mediterranean.

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Provence

Fountain in center of Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Fountain in center of
Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Our cruise started with a bang. We had shore excursions the first 3 days, after a couple pretty full days in Barcelona. By the time we hit our first “at sea” day, we were ready for a rest. But first: Provence, Tuscany and Rome.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The first morning, our private tour guide met us at the dock, in Marseille. Our specified tour included two Provence vineyards, where we tasted wine, before spending a couple hours in the Provence town of Aix-en-Provence.  This day was another “irony” of the failure of the 2013 cruise to reach Provence, Tuscany and Rome.  I had been indecisive and we lost the opportunity to do the vineyard tour and would have been riding the ship 66 passenger bus to walk around Aix-en-Provence only.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Our first stop was at Chateau la Dorgonne. We primarily tasted a number of their fine wines. As seems to have become my norm, I preferred the “redder” bolder wines. But a seasonal favorite in Tuscany is the early season red, Rose’, which is a very light, orange/pink color with a fresh, light taste (sometimes called a “blush” wine). We tasted one of theirs, which was very nice. Our tour guide says that many French people look forward to the early Fall when the Rose’ comes out, but by the time the “season” is over, they are mostly ready to put it away until next year.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

We spent most of day in the two vineyards and in the car, so although we saw a lot of the Provence countryside, we did not have much opportunity to stop and photograph. But I would certainly like to go back someday and spend some time wandering around the small, European villages, and the rolling hills that are populated with grapes and other forms of agriculture.
Our second stop was at the Chateau Vignelaure. Our guide had pretty free reign to walk through the vineyard, and we walked into the area where they did the fermenting in stainless tanks, and then decanted into oak barrels to age the wine. This vineyard kept a few bottles of every vintage going back many years. The old, dusty bottles were fascinating.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

As you can also see, the proud owners of these vineyards keep them pristine and true to their original architectural roots. The Vignelaure cabernet was as good as I have had in a very reasonable price range for a private vintage wine of about 27 euros. And, it was good.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

One we finished our two vineyard tours, our guide took us to Aix-en-Provence, which is a destination city (or town) in Provence. With a population just over 140,000, it has a very quaint feel (though it is clearly largely set up to cater to the tourist industry these days). We walked some of the narrow streets to a plaza that housed a handful of nice restaurants, with outdoor seating, where we had a nice lunch.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence was the medieval capital of Provence. My research indicates that this city is also the location of some hot springs that make the destination a “spa.” We did not see them, “Aix” means water (hot springs) and the word, “en” means of; so, spas of Provence or something close. In the mode of the currently popular Alan Thicke commercial, I think it means that in French, but I don’t know French so ……. look it up.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Interestingly, Aix-En-Provence was at one time, under the rule of Barcelona/Aragon, and during that time, became an artistic center. Today, it also houses a handful of French universities, making it a center of education and learning. Also, interestingly, the U.S. city of Coral Gables, Florida has a “sister city” relationship with Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015