The Rock Whisperer

The individual shown below routinely visits Staunton State Park to balance rocks on top of each other. The park rangers don’t like it, and knock down these wonderful balancing acts when they spot them - and have even taken away the rock whisperer in handcuffs and threatened him with detention. Off hand, I think his creations are pretty harmless.

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Pure light show

The Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona has been constructed to allow in a massive amount of light, as can be seen in the following photo. This is far more than in older cathedrals, where the construction techniques required more massive stonework and so are quite a bit darker on the inside. A very impressive display.

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Incorrect sundial

We spotted this ancient-looking sundial on the wall of a winery in an area outside of Barcelona. One small problem - the sundial was off by two hours!

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Baby drop-off

Many years ago, you could drop off your baby (literally) in this hole in the wall of a Barcelona convent, and put money into the slot on the left side, to help support the child. Not quite the traditional stork approach…

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Flying rocks on Montserrat

We attempted to hike around the pinnacles of Montserrat in between lightning storms, but didn’t get very far. A rock hit the roof of our funicular cab on the way up and cracked the glass roof, while another rock shot down between us when doing some hiking above that point. So… we bailed out and had lunch instead.

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Pyrenees reflections

We hiked alongside a series of three lakes near one of the higher passes in the Pyrenees, of which the following photo shows a nice reflection of a nearby hillside. It does not show the swarm of hikers along the edge of the lake, though.

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Pyrenees majesty

The Pyrenees mountains may not look that big on a map, but the reality is quite a bit different. In the following photos, you can see the amount of volume between peaks - there is a great deal of up and down. In the second photo, our path led over the pass in the upper right corner.

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Pyrenees color

The hillsides in the Pyrenees mountains were blanketed in flowers. The following photo of a wild iris shows just one flower, but there were fields of thousands in some areas. Also, note the unidentified yellow flowers on a distant hillside in the second photograph.

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The Bilbao transformation

Bilbao is a city in northern Spain that used to be a rather gritty industrial town, but which has massively transformed itself by acquiring a Guggenheim art museum (pictured below) and then kept going by building out an excellent riverside walking path that leads people around the city and into its excellent old quarter, with narrow streets and dozens of eateries. A real pleasure.

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Pork products galore

Spaniards seem to think that displaying a nice pig leg will get their customers salivating, so it’s quite common to see a restaurant with many of them hanging in the window. In the following picture, there’s also a small collection tray attached to the bottom of each leg, to keep any stray fluids from dripping. Yummy?

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Air conditioned bear

We were sitting in a plaza in Madrid in really oppressive heat when someone in a bear suit walked by (to pose with tourists for money). It looked like the person should expire at once from the heat, but then we noticed the two cooling fans in the bear’s hindquarters, as shown in the following photo. Still probably a sauna in the suit, but the fans must have helped a little…

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Religious cookies

We stopped in at a local religious institution to buy cookies. It’s located on a side street, with no sign to indicate that this is a business. They buzz you through to a courtyard, where there’s a lazy susan turntable set up in the wall. A nun on the other side piles up some boxes of cookies on the turntable and rotates it around so that you can see it, and send back payment. At no time is the nun visible. Seems like a tedious lifestyle, but the cookies were excellent - almost heavenly.

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Notice of longevity

The following photo contains an example of a metal plate that is inserted into the pavement in front of a store in Spain when it has been in continuous operation for at least 100 years, and in the same line of work for the entire time. In this case, the business started in 1725.

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Airbnb protest in Madrid

We passed a building in Madrid where the locals were not happy at all with the presence of a flat being rented out to tourists, as the signs in the following picture reveal. This type of protest takes a certain amount of coordination!

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Zodiac diving in Indonesia

The following photo shows one of the two zodiac dive boats used by the Pelagian liveaboard, which visits dive sites in the Wakatobi area in Indonesia. Each one can take up to six divers. In our case, there were two snorkelers and three divers, so we had a lot of quiet dives.

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Aboard the Pelagian

…and this is what it looks like in the main dining area of one of the best liveaboard dive boats in the world, the Pelagian. We spent a week diving from it in the Wakatobi area in Indonesia. And yes, that is a spiral staircase in the background - OK, it’s a really small one, but still…

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Fish for lunch

Our dive boat was tied up north of the Wakatobi resort when this local fisherman in a dugout canoe stopped by to clean the fish he had caught that morning.

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Temple by the lake

While quite pretty, what the following photo of the Ulun Danu Beratan temple complex in northern Bali does not show is the incredible number of tourists (including us) clogging the roads to and from the area.

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Fire dance time!

As if it wasn’t hot enough in Bali, then they turned on the fires. The following photo is from a wildly over-subscribed fire dance near the coast, where the audience was jammed in right next to the performers, with another 500 people waiting to get in.

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