Tag Archives: travel

Photos from Aripo Valley

The Aripo Valley is like a guardian of the northern range in Trinidad, and in many ways is a significant stop on your way to the main mountain peak, El Cerro del Aripo. Any time I visit the island, I make an effort to do some exploration within the area.  These photos demonstrate my love affair with nature especially as described in these tropical habitats.

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Trees are always fascinating, and become much more so  when you encounter and experience the intricate going ons of the tropical jungle.  Lianas which are very prevalent are more than a curious surprise. Trying to work out where vines start or end is quite difficult.  Also interesting, at this level, is the way most other plants manage to survive without being intimidated by the numerous vines.

 

The ginger flowers and heliconias are always conspicuous in this setting, as the climate and humidity makes it easy for them to flourish.  It is not a valley that orchids and bromeliads  show off their bloom in great abundance, but the species are there to be observed.  Of course, the birds are everywhere, and without compromise make their music for us to hear.  Sometimes I feel ashamed that I am not able to identify the species as they flutter around.  But, I do know the humming birds,  and that’s a start.  Below, two photos from the Asa Wright Centre, which is great introduction to the Aripo Valley.

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SHANGHAI IN PHOTOS

This is my second visit to China, and I was very impressed to to be in what is now the largest city in the world.  It is definitely more of the metropolis landmark than Beijing, which I had visited last year.  I was staying at the Novotel Shanghai Atlantis in Pudong, and from my room on the 31st floor, the view was fantastic.  Just as I was told, Shanghai does display all the signs of a vibrant financial centre, and convinces you, without a doubt, that it is the best place to do business.

To get there, I took a long journey with Qatar Airways.  It involved a six hour afternoon flight from London to Doha, and yes I finally made it to city in the Middle East. But it was not for very long , just two hours later, I was headed for a nine hour flight to Shanghai, which had me arriving the following day in the afternoon.  The experience was very revealing, and full of surprises to me, as I was passing through that part of the world for the first time.

GRAN CANARIA 2

Las Palmas Night OutLas  PalmasLas Palmas at Night

This was my first real visit to Gran Canaria. Of course, I had been here once before, but that it was only for a day trip, while on a visit to Tenerife. The surprise for me about the Canary islands is that they are much larger than I anticipated. I had assumed that it would be remarkably easy to visit more than one in a day. I was quite wrong.

I stayed in Las Palmas at the El Parque Hotel, and that was quite fabulous. The room was more than adequate, and the service was more than I expected. I loved the idea of staying in the centre, and simply taking the bus to the various regions. My first visit was the the sprawling Jardin Botanico Canaria, which was much larger than I expected. Another surprising aspect was the setting, with an abundance of plants all along the steep hillside, way down to flatland below. Succulents and national endemic plants took pride of place everywhere, and so itshould be. It was an amazing collection ,and definitely a must see for any succulent lover.

I was determined to see all of the island, and so the following day I was on a bus to Maspalomas. Here, I came face to face with the tourist holiday side. It was well organised, and crowded in a way I did not expect. I ventured further right up to Mogan in the south west, noting the small holiday enclaves along the way. It was obvious that his part of the island was certainly geared up for the expected tourist.

The remarkable factor about these islands is their physical composition, and the way there is alwas a large hill or mountain, close by. I was determined to get to the top of a mountain, and was extremely glad that i was able to do this by bus. I chose Artenara. I was able to explore, and also to enjoy the view, and the little villages in between. The rest of my holiday time allowed me visits to places closer like Arucas, Santa Brigida, Agaete, and some of the attractive beaches.

The Prevalence of Disney

The last time I visited Walt Disney World was around ten years ago. I was in Orlando last month, and was curious to see how the Disney Magic was performing in these recession-hit times.

In the end the crowds said it all. I started at Epcot which demonstrated quite convincingly that queuing was still very much part of the game. A quick look at the Circle of Life, and then the brief waterway trip to view the experiment in Hydroponics; and which, as you would expect, is quite impressive. I had debated personally whether to take the private tour as it was an area in which I was genuinely interested. Maybe next time.

My plan was to lunch at the Mexican pavilion after I had a swift look at the display. It went according to plan, and most time was spent viewing artifacts, including some attractive toys which truly fascinated me.

The next two pavilions were China and Japan. They were short visits, keeping to time with me utilising all the benefits of my ‘One Day Pass/Hopper’ which made it possible for me to ‘hop’ to more than one theme park in one day.

Next came the Animal Kingdom; and I was rather surprised by the crowds. This I saw for the first time, and I had to admit that the concept was admirable, even though the execution was not always perfect. The Wildlife presentation worked quite well, and probably was the best way to present animals to the public, without mimicking an ordinary zoo. Running out of time, as the shadows approached, I knew I had only enough time for one more park.

My final stop was the Magic kingdom. Since I regard this as the ‘Jewel in Disney’s Crown’, I was here to observe how much of the magic was still alive. And indeed it was. Even in the late afternoon it was absolutely crowded, with long queues everywhere. Waiting time averaged from fifteen minutes to a full hour. Obviously, I chose the easy options, and was able to get into places in less than fifteen minutes. Stops like ‘Space Mountain’, which needed a whopping fifty minutes, I avoided.

My plan was to leave by nine, but was persuaded to stay for the Disney Parade. And yes, this was quite different, nothing like I expected it to be. The presentation of Disney folklore, all spruced in electic lights parading down Main Street, was definitely an unbeatable combination. Was very glad I stayed.

The Disney Magic survives, although it remains expensive. The presence of the crowds is still proof that people are prepared to pay to be entertained. The Magic Kingdom is also extending, and by the time your next visit comes along you will be greeted by new shows to top those which you have already seen.  Definitely worth a visit, if youhave the money.

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