Europe

The Baths of Caracalla: The Ancient Roman Spa

After all the hustle and bustle of sightseeing around Rome, I wanted to get away from tourist groups to spend some quiet time.  I met a few backpackers at the hostel who directed me to places in Rome where there are not too many people in one place at the same time.  One of these places with very few tourists around is the ancient Roman architecture called the Terme di Caracalla better known as the Baths of Caracalla.

Rome

The Baths of Caracalla is essentially divided into 2 sections:  one inside the bath complex and one around it.  Built by Emperor Caracalla in AD 212, the magnitude of the baths were staggering and the buildings enormous.

Rome

About 9000 workers were employed daily for five years just to create the 337 x 328 meters platform.  The baths were not just built for swimming but also as a wellness and sports venue.

Rome

The baths were inaugurated in AD 216 but were only completed after the death of Caracalla.  The whole site was abandoned after the siege of Rome  in AD 537.

Rome

Today, many of the walls are still several stories high giving you an idea of the scale of the establishment.

Rome

There are informative plaques at strategic places showing the original layout.  You can also pay for an audio guide which will help you imagine what it must have been like when it was being used.

Rome

There are quite a few mosaic floor fragments still left as well as some stonework and few frescoes.

Rome

Rome

The Thermae Antoninianae, is considered as one of the largest and best preserved ancient thermal complexes showing the sheer ingenuity of the Roman engineers.  If you are a history and archaeology buff, walking through the ruins would be a nice respite from the crowded tourist attractions in Rome.

Rome

The Baths are south-west of the Colisseum. To go there, I took the 160 bus from Piazza Victtorio which stopped just after the baths.  There was a small street with signs that led me to the main entrance.  I paid 6 Euros for the entrance fee (you have to pay additional 7 Euros for the audio guide).

Rome

More than the history and the ancient archaeological ruins, I particularly enjoyed the garden area.  It is a nice place to stroll or just relax and rest as there are very few people and little or no traffic noise.  I stayed there for awhile just to get away from the tourist crowds.  It was a worthy visit.

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Categories: Europe, Italy, Rome | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

When I am traveling, I seldom visits touristy areas that have entrance fee. I prefer spending my money on food and out of town trips. Also, I am an outdoor person. I enjoy nature trips more than visiting museums and historical monuments.

However, when I was in Barcelona, Spain, a famous tourist place caught my attention — the La Sagrada Familia Basilica of Antonio Gaudi. Usually a historical church with an entrance fee turns me off but this one is 100% worth going and I definitely recommend this as a must visit place in Barcelona.

The basilica has been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2026.  Gaudi planned many parts of the church so that they could be built in the future. Since his death in 1926, different architects have continued the work after his original idea.

But what really attracted me to pay for 14.80 Euro fee is its interior design. I read that the insides of the church is more interesting to photograph than the facade. Indeed, there are not enough words to describe it.

Natural light pours in not just from the colorful stained glass windows which most churches uses but also from electric lights positioned at the top. There are also glass windows high above the vaulted ceilings of the gothic style that let in sunlight pouring splashes of light and colors below.

The La Sagrada Familia Basilica uses natural light in the most phenomenal way i’ve ever seen.

So for last week’s Photo Challenge, Let There Be Light, Ive chosen to feature my interior photos of La Sagrada Familia Basilica’s most impressive displays of indoor and natural lighting.

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

La Sagrada

 

La Sagrada

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For more information about the church including the entrance fees and ticket booking, click this – La Sagrada Official Site

 

 

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

The changes in color of the horizon after sunset is one of my favorite subjects to photograph when I am traveling.  I find it amazing how the sky can yield post-sunset afterglows casting beautiful splashes of red, yellow and orange colors.  But why are some parts of the world more colorful than others?

This week’s photo challenge features the horizon, the space or line where the sky meets the earth.  There are many places where the sky meets the earth around the world.  So in today’s post, I am showcasing my favorite photos of horizons in different countries taken just before or after the sun sets.  Let me know which one do you like best.

The Colors of Africa

Africa

The Classic Colors of Western Europe

europe

When the sky meets the earth in Asia-Pacific

asia pacific

Categories: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

On travelling alone…

Eze France

Travel Quote of the Week: It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. – African Proverb

Photo I took at a Cathedral on top of  Èze, a medieval village perched like an eagles nest on a rocky spur overlooking the Mediterranean sea located at the Alpes-Maritimes in southeastern France.
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Although i often travel on my own, I still want to find a travel buddy as having a companion leads to a more meaningful experience. As the saying goes, “Life is better shared than experiencing the best moments of your life alone.”
However, in my experience, it is very difficult to find a travel companion who shares the same interests, have the same idea of ‘having fun’, have a sense of humour and a flexible coping mechanism.
Sometimes travelling with a close friend, a partner and or a family member, you expect that it will all be ‘perfect fun’.  Depending on the compatibility and the level of flexibility and sensitivity between travellers, a perfect trip may end up a disastrous trip.
Travelling is supposed to be enjoying the moment not bringing additional baggage from the past and or discussing issues or opening an old wound that may trigger a conflict or animosity between travel companions.  It should bring travel companions much closer together.
But when drama and negative emotions are mixed into a supposedly fun trip, than it becomes complicated.  Therefore, I would rather end up travelling alone than being with a bad companion.  Still, I am not losing hope in eventually finding a perfect travel buddy in the future.
How about you? Have you had experience travelling with a bad companion?

Categories: Eze, France, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Scottish Highland Cattle

Highland

One of the main highlights of my Scottish Highland Tour is seeing Hamish, the highland bull.  Although drenched in rain, I can still see the distinct characteristics of Hamish from other breed of cattle. It was the first time I saw a highland bull in its own homeland in western Scotland.  Highland cattle have double coat of long, thick, flowing hair that protects them from the harshest of environment like rain and snow.  Despite their majestic long sweeping horns, highland cattle are considered to be an even-tempered animal.  They are gentle and easily handled with superior intelligence and calm nature.  They come in various colors.  I also learned that they produce good quality meat with low levels of fat.

Categories: Scotland, United Kingdom | Tags: | 6 Comments

On Exploring…..

DSCF6344

Travel Quote of the Week:  I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.   – Oliver Wendel Holmes

 
Photo I took at the Barcelona Harbour in Spain.

Some people are just contended to be in their own comfort zone.  Others can’t stand being in one place for a long time.  I chose the latter. I believe that the world offers more than what I am getting within my own comfort zone.  Traveling makes me see things beyond what I see in my own surroundings. It makes my world more exciting. It widen my knowledge on many things including learning more about myself.  It widens my horizons as I explore my freedom to live the way I want my life to be.

No matter where the wind will take me, for as long as I am moving, I will always be making the best of what life ought to be….and this is why I continue to leave my home and wander about to places I’ve never seen before!

What about you?

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Eiffel Tower Series – Part 2: Framing and Foreground

In my March 3, 2013 post, Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in Details, I have presented to you Part 1 of the 3-part series on how to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower the unconventional way.   In that particular post, I showed different images of Eiffel focusing on the intricate architectural details using close-ups or detailed shots.

Part 2 focuses on how to get foregrounds right in photography.  I am not talking about the technical aspect such as Depth of Field or changing the settings of the camera’s aperture.  That is for advanced photographers to find out.  I want to focus on creative composition and the framing aspect of taking images, as my intended target audience for this series is mainly the ‘tourist’ photographers, those who are not actually photography enthusiasts but love to take photos during their travels for photo souvenirs or for facebooking! As one photographer said, being creative does not require highly technical skills and knowledge; it just means looking at the world a bit differently.

Therefore, this post will show you different ways to compose a photo of the Eiffel Tower using the right foreground to add depth to your shot.  Keep in mind that your composition tells the story that you want to project out of your photo, whether you use the DOF technique or keep the entire image sharp it does not matter….(as long as you know and understand what messages you want to convey and how it can be accomplished!)

As I mentioned in Part 1, the challenge is in finding the right angle or composition and taking the right shot in order to have your own unique photos of France’s global cultural icon.

So let us get started!

Part 2 of Eiffel Tower Series —  Framing and Foreground

Most of us are fond of taking long shot or landscape shots like this with all the elements including the foreground sharp and clear.

Eiffel 1

Continue reading

Categories: Europe, France, Paris | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

On Travelling…..

travel quote

Travel Quote of the Week:  “I get to travel with me. I need somebody to bring me back to who I am. It’s hard to be alone.” – Leonardo DiCaprio.

A photo i took on Christmas Day at a countryside ranch in Surrey, UK.

I seldom travel with friends.  Why? I like the flexibility of having my own time exploring new places and doing things I like. I can change plans at the last minute without consideration of what others feel or think about what I want to do.   Also, when I travel alone, my journey turns into a self-discovery one where I get to know more about myself and learn to deal with challenges on my own. In short,  I only have myself to deal with…. NO drama, NO conflicts and NO complications!

However, travelling alone has its own disadvantages too.  It can get lonely and boring.  Some activities are more fun to do with close friends than doing it alone.  These include exploring the local nightlife, drinking in pubs, doing extreme adventure and outdoor activities and food tripping.  Moreover, you get to have loads of good pictures of yourself (you have your friends to take your photo!).

On the other hand, you can always meet and mingle with new friends if you prefer to travel alone.

So whether you travel alone or with friends, make sure to enjoy every moment of your holiday trip because at the end of the day, what matters most is how to make the most of your travels to create beautiful and unforgettable memories to bring back home.

How about you? What do you prefer — to travel alone or with friends?

Categories: London, United Kingdom, Weekly Travel Quotes | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

Gasm Travels’ Third Blogger Award Nomination

hug

A GLIMPSE OF HOPE

Another long overdue post…my apology to Ajay Tao for the delay in responding to his nomination.

Last March 9, 2013, Gasm Travels received its 3rd Nomination for another blogger award, the prestigious Hope Unites Globally Hug Award.

hug-award1The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at A Hope for Today at http://ahopefortoday.com, which promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people. The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness. “People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” For more information on this award, please visit:http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/

I did not expect to receive a nomination for this award because I never thought that my photo travel blog could inspire and give hope to my readers.  However, being nominated by Ajay Tao, has certainly made me think differently. Ajay Tao is a fellow blogger who have decided to open up and share his thoughts and feelings through his blog after being inflicted by cancer.  His blog, Ajaytao 2010: My Personal Opening to the World, contains everything he was passionate about.

In his blog he wrote, ‘Photography is a hobby, writing is a hobby, graphic designing a hobby, compilation and reading a hobby, so the point is, I don’t want to take any credit as to what I do, or to what I have posted on this blog.  I just want to share everything possible with you all.’

Ajay Tao confirms this statement when he replied to my acceptance to his nomination, ‘You are a great photographer and you deserve this award more than me.’ I was deeply touched by his humility…he being a more advanced photographer than I am! (Check out his photos on flicker.)

Ajay Tao, I am deeply grateful to you for nominating me for this award. Moreover, I am happy that my blog inspires you and gives you a glimpse of hope in your most difficult time of your life.  My acceptance to this award comes with a great responsibility knowing now that I have been an inspiration to my readers and followers.  Indeed, in every difficulty, hope always lingers.

For more of Ajay Tao, please click here.

And just like the rest of the bloggers’ award, I need to nominate other bloggers who qualify for the award’s criteria.

I am nominating 2 of my followers who I believe have also given their readers a glimpse of hope to live life to its fullest:

Tara (http://thehappyhealer.wordpress.com/)  an inspirational blogger who specializes in mindfulness, meditation, wellness, reiki and yoga.

Rockin Autism Mom (http://rockinautismmom.com) a resource blog on Autism created by a mother whose son happens to have autism.

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Photo taken while having a stroll at the harbour in Barcelona, Spain.

Categories: Barcelona, Europe, Spain, Unexpected Recognitions | Tags: | 3 Comments

The Gondola Man

gondola

A gondola driver is called a ‘gondolier’.  In Venice, gondoliers typically wear a uniform outfit of black trousers, a striped shirt and a hat with a red sash.  They row standing up using a long oar.  Today, gondoliers work more for tourists than for Venetians as gondolas are no longer used as public local transportation.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: | 6 Comments

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