Uxmal

I did an excursion to Uxmal from Tulum, a minibus picked me up at the hotel, from there it was a long drive with a stop in Cancun to pick some other people up and then we were on our way to Uxmal. Continue reading

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Samarkand

After Bukhara my Journey through Uzbekistan continued to Samarkand which was an important city on the silk road. It’s the country’s most famous city, with the famous Registan square. In every travelbrochure about Uzbekistan you will find a picture of the Registan square, it must be the most photographed place of the country.
There are 3 big madrassas and in one of them I went up the minaret from which I had a superb view on the square and the city around.
I stayed at the Bibi Khanym hotel just next to the Bibi Khanym Mosque which is a famous Mosque in Samarkand cause it once was the biggest Mosque in the Islamic world.
Instead of going to that Mosque I went to the Shah-i-Zinda complex which is a little more further from the central area, it’s an ensemble of Mausoleums (Islamic schools) with the nicest mosaics and there is also another Mosque.

The Registan

The Registan

Another view on the Registan

Another view on the Registan

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Ulugh Beg Madrassa with it's minarets - I have been on top of the right minaret

Ulugh Beg Madrassa with its minarets – I have been on top of the right minaret

Here I am on the Registan square with the Tilya Kori Madrassa

Here I am on the Registan square with the Tilya Kori Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa with the tigers

Sher-Dor Madrassa with the tigers

Tiger Mosaic on the Sher-Dor Madrassa

Tiger Mosaic on the Sher-Dor Madrassa

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrassa

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrassa

Ceiling inside the Tilya-Kori Mosque

Ceiling inside the Tilya-Kori Mosque

Registan Square seen from the minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Registan Square seen from the minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa seen from the Minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa seen from the Minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Bibi Khanym Mosque

Bibi Khanym Mosque

The Bibi Khanym Mosque seen from my hotel

The Bibi Khanym Mosque seen from my hotel

Tiger Monument

Tiger Monument

View on Samarkand

View on Samarkand

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Shah-i-Zinda complex

The Entrance of the Shah-i-Zinda complex

The Entrance of the Shah-i-Zinda complex

The avenue of Mausloeums

The avenue of mausoleums

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Mass Games Pyongyang

The Mass Games or Arirang Games as it is also named is a spectacular show about North Korea and the greatness of their country,culture,leaders,…
In 90 minutes you will see gymnastics,acrobatics synchronized dancing in group by the performers singing patriotic Korean songs with in the background thousand of children making a big mosaic image that changes very regularly. They have a book with different patterns on each page and they hold it up at the right moment changing simultaneously to get the correct mosaic picture to appear. It’s really impressive.
With 100.000 participants in this show in the largest stadium in the world, the Mayday Stadium in Pyongyang is something you got to see when going to North Korea.
The mass Games are being held every year from July till mid September and sometimes it gets extended with a few shows in October, that was untill 2013 when I was there and I’m lucky because after 2013 there were no Mass Games anymore, speculations are going on that the popular Mass Games will return soon, but nothing official yet. I really wanted to go to North Korea in a period the Mass Games took place and I’m glad I did cause at that time I didn’t know it would be the last shows running. No Mass Games in 2014 and 2015. There was no clear reason given why there was no show after 2013.
I can only hope for those who have North Korea on their bucketlist and the Mass Games in particular that this event will return very soon as it was the best show I have ever seen. Forget about those 30 minute shows you might have seen at Disneyworld 🙂

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The May Day Stadium – The Largets Stadium in the world

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Here I am outside the Stadium before the beginning of the Arirang Mass Games

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My Ticket

 

Pol in Tiraspol

The old Soviet train was waiting in Odesa for me to come on board for the trip to Tiraspol the capital of the self-declared state of Transnistria within Moldova also known as PMR : Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. I was with the group of Youngpioneertours and had great fun on this “wodka train” we bought all the booze there was in the one and only bar in this old charming compartment and when we arrived we were a little light-headed but not drunk, maybe little tipsy.

train compartment with bar

train compartment with bar

 

Welcome in Transnistria !

People here speak Russian and feel Russian but their passport says Moldavian. They also have a Transnistrian passport but with this passport they can’t travel cause Transnistria isn’t a recognized country. I was here to visit the Capital of this unrecognized republic and to experience the Soviet feeling of this place.
They have their own Parliament and its here in the capital Tiraspol, in front there is a big Lenin statue.

The Parliament building with Lenin statue

The Parliament building with Lenin statue

It’s like time stood still, cause you get the feeling walking around this city like being in an old Soviet open air park kind of museum. Soviet symbols in the street, the old Soviet tank with the barrel pointing in the direction of Moldova.

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Putin is popular here

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The independence war memorial with its eternal flame, the statue of Suvorov a Russian general who founded the city in 1792, the Pobedi Park (Victory Park) and the Orthodox Nativity Church with the golden domes are just some sightseeings of the city I came across on my stroll around the streets of Tiraspol.

Eternal flame

Eternal flame

Independence war memorial monument

Independence war memorial monument

Pobedi Park entrance

Pobedi Park entrance

Soviet Symbol CCCP star

Soviet Symbol CCCP star

Suvorov statue

Suvorov statue

me on the Soviet tank

me on the Soviet tank

Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church

Lenin head

Lenin head

 

Bukhara

After my visit to Kiva, I took the train to my next stop in Uzbekistan, the city of Bukhara with its many madrassas. The Kalyan Mosque and minaret, the Ark Fortress, Samanid Mausoleum and Chor Minor are some of the popular places in Bukhara.
All the structures got well-preserved during centuries which makes the Historical old town and the rest of Bukhara, the holy city of Muslim culture in Central Asia.
One of the most popular cities on the silk road with its trading domes which untill today look exactly the same, part from the fact that there are more little tourist shops with souvenirs and t-shirts being sold in this place and around.
From all the places I’ve visited on my trip to the Stans, this was the hottest place so drink a lot of water when you are walking around.

The Ark Fortress

The Ark Fortress

Mosque with wooden pillers

Mosque with wooden pillers

Mausoleum

Samanid Mausoleum

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Chor Minor

Chor Minor

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Traditional SilkRoad Trading Dome behind me

Madrassa

One of the many Madrassas

Kalyan Mosque

Kalyan Mosque

Kiev

Kiev was my 2nd Ukrainian city I’ve visited after Odesa. The only difference was that Odesa I visited in spring while Kiev was in november and it was pretty damn cold.
A long weekend to see the many Orthodox churches was enough to get an idea of the city. Kiev is a fantastic city I really enjoyed my time in this city. The first thing I did was to explore the near area to the hostel where I was staying, Pushkinskaya street not far from the Majdan square and close to Khreshchatyk street which is the main street in Kiev and since I was staying there in the weekend, the street was closed for traffic, always on weekends. The street leads to the Rainbow bridge monument and after the monument I had a long walk to the Vichnoyi Slavi Park on my way to the Lavra orthodox monastery and the Motherland Monument.
The St Sophia Cathedral with Bell Tower was one of my favorite buildings in Kiev together with the St Michael’s Golden-domed monastery and its frescoes on the outside walls.

Majdan square

Majdan square

Majdan

The main street of Kiev closed for traffic during weekends

The main street of Kiev closed for traffic during weekends

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

USSR Monument of Unity of People

USSR Monument of Unity of People

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Vichnoyi Slavi Park

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The Lavra

The Lavra Bell Tower

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The Dormition Cathedral at Lavra

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The War Museum complex

The War Museum complex close to the Motherland statue

Motherland Monument

Motherland Monument

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St Sophia Belltower and Cathedral

St Sophia Bell tower and Cathedral

Here I am in the St Sophia Bell Tower

Here I am in the St Sophia Bell Tower

nice view on the St Sophia Cathedral from the Bell Tower

Nice view on the St Sophia Cathedral from the Bell Tower

View from St Sophie Bell Tower to the opposite St Michael Golden-dome

View from St Sophie Bell Tower to the opposite St Michael Golden-domed Monastery

St Michaels Monastery

St Michaels Monastery

Holy Orthodox Wall Frescoes

Holy Orthodox Wall Frescoes

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Machu Picchu

The reason why I wanted to go to Peru was because of the Machu Picchu.
Northwest of the city of Cuzco lays Machu Picchu on a mountain above the sacred valley.
It’s the icon of the Inca civilization, not found by the Spanish rulers during the colonial period and that’s why it didn’t get destroyed cause it was not known by the outside world for about 400 years. Now it’s world-famous and visited by many tourists from all over the world every year.
I remember taking a train and after that a bus to arrive at the entrance and before you know it you have this magnificent view that will make you freeze. This is one of the most incredible places of all that I have ever seen.
It belongs in the same category of the “Seven Wonders of the World” like the Great Chinese Wall and the Grand Canyon.
I could stay there the whole day and walk around, or just sit somewhere and observe the beauty of the mountains around this magical place.

Entrance of Machu Picchu

Entrance of Machu Picchu

The best view ever

The best view ever

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the terraces

the terraces

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Cathedral of Santo Domingo in Cuzco

Cathedral of Santo Domingo in Cuzco

 

Calgary and Banff NP

Alberta the richest province of Canada in the west of the country with Cities like Calgary and Edmonton is less visited then East Canada with Toronto and the Niagara Falls,Ottawa and Quebec. Calgary is a really nice city not to be confused with Cagliari in Sardinia Italy.
I stayed a few days in a Best Western Hotel outside the City centre and everyday I walked to the centre, watching all these traffic go by and coming closer and closer to the centre and the Calgary Tower which I visited first, at that time (2005) some renovation works were going on and inside the tower were not many tourist, I was almost alone there enjoying the great view on the City with the Rockies in the background. Downtown there is not much to do besides visiting the mall or having a walk down the park, visiting Olympic Plaza.
The next day I booked a day trip to Banff NP and see some of Alberta’s wonderful nature.
The weather in Calgary can be so unpredictable, I remember leaving for Banff in the morning it was lightly snowing and there was a strong wind, in the afternoon the sun was there and the wind disappeared so there was no need anymore for a warm sweater or jacket, finally it felt like summer and I could just walk around in my short sleeves.

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Walking to the centre in the morning

Olympic Plaza

Olympic Plaza where the medal ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympic games to place

Calgary Tower from the Olympic Plaza

Calgary Tower from the Olympic Plaza

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

Calgary new City hall

Calgary new City hall

Rusted Horse Sculpture

Rusted Horse Sculpture

Brotherhood of Mankind statue

Brotherhood of Mankind statue

The Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower

Inside the Calgary Tower

Inside the Calgary Tower

Let's have a view on the city and the Rockies

Let’s have a view on the city and the Rockies

Saddledome Ice Hockey stadium

Saddledome Ice Hockey stadium – It really looks like a saddle to put on a horse

Saddledome stadium is home to the Calgary Flames who plays in the NHL

Saddledome stadium is home to the Calgary Flames who plays in the NHL

Calgary Park

Calgary Park

BANFF NP

The Banff NP is a 2 hour drive West from Calgary, it’s the oldest National Park of Canada.
Lake Louis,The Banff Springs Hotel are the best known places in the park.
Also the Bow Falls on the Bow River is a major waterfall that got featured in the Marilyn Monroe 1953 movie “The River of no return”  I saw that movie when I was a kid so I had to have a picture with that waterfall. The drop of the waterfall is not high but the water comes at very high-speed.

Bow Falls

Bow Falls

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff NP in the middle of the Rockies

Banff NP in the middle of the Rockies

Wildlife in Banff NP

Wildlife in Banff NP