A day in Nara, Japan

Horyu-Ji Temple with a lovely Sakura tree

Horyu-Ji Temple with a lovely Sakura tree

Nara, a small town, which used to be the capital of Japan before Kyoto, famous with traditions and Japan culture. A center of Budism art and literature, a Unesco world heritage and a heaven for photographers. It is about 1,5 hours drive from Kyoto by bus, so be ready for an early day, to make sure you have enough time in Nara.

The symbol of Nara, a five level Pagoda

The symbol of Nara, a five level Pagoda

Best time of the year

Best time of the year

Our first stop was Horyu-Ji temple, one of the oldest wooden structures of the world. Founded in 607 to promote Budism.

The central gate is guarded by Japan’s two oldest statues of Kongo Rikishi, the pair of muscular deities often seen flanking large temple gates. The main hall houses some of Japan’s oldest statues of Buddha, rare creations surviving from the Asuka Period. Visitors can witness the evolution of Japanese Buddha statues by visiting the nearby great lecture hall (Daikodo) which exhibits statues from the Heian Period (794-1185) and have lost the more Indian appearance of earlier creations(www.japan-guide.com).

The pagoda

The pagoda

A small Japanese Garden

A small Japanese Garden

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The huge zen garden after the central gate, is very lean, with the Pagoda and two lovely Sakura trees. Just near this garden, there is also a Gallery of Temple Treasures, where you can find an exhibit of temple art treasures, some Buddha statues and artworks.

For lunch we are heading to the centre of Nara, where we find a Paket store where there are hundreds of “Grab ‘n Go” packs of Japanese food, a heaven for our sushi monster son. So we enjoy to eat our lunch in the lovely atmosphere of another Temple Garden, instead of sitting in a restaurant.

Our next stop, Todai Ji Temple

Our next stop, Todai Ji Temple

Our next stop is Todai ji temple, a more crowded temple with tourists, brides, grooms and deers.

The huge Boddha in the temple

The huge Boddha in the temple

The big Buddha Hall is world’s largest wooden building. Along the approach to Todaiji stands the Nandaimon Gate, a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are designated national treasures together with the gate itself. Temple visitors will also encounter some deer from the adjacent Nara Park, begging for shika senbei, special crackers for deer that are sold for around 150 yen. (www.japan-guide.com)

Todai ji

Todai ji

Feeding the deers. Photo Credit to Teoman Cimit

Feeding the deer. Photo Credit to Teoman Cimit

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And our final stop of Nara was Kasuga Taisha shrine, very famous with thousands of Lanterns, which are donated by worshipers.

Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha

Lovely color of the building

Lovely color of the building

Famous lanterns and deers

Famous lanterns and deer

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Next: Kyoto train station to finish the day.

Ryoanji Temple and Golden Pavilion of Kyoto

Zen garden of Ryoanji Temple

Zen garden of Ryoanji Temple

If you write “zen garden” to google, many of the images you will see is from Ryoanji Temple, where you will dream of the famous Zen Garden scene, sitting and watching the waves of stones in harmony with the huge ones, symbolizing the mountains and the contrast of life. This simple rectangular garden has no trees at all, but have 15 rocks and white gravel. The garden was created at around 1500, by a respected Zen monk.

However, at the touristy season of Sakura time, if you need to skip one temple, it should be this one. First, the “calm” zen garden is not calm at all, with loads of tourists, making noises and taking photos, secondly, the temple itself is not as big as some other ones. However, if you have time and would like to spent some of it here, you can enjoy a nice walk around the pond and relax watching the Sakura trees, sitting on the bench.

Some flowers from the garden

Some flowers from the garden

Enjoy the pond

Enjoy the pond

End of March is the best time to be there

End of March is the best time to be there

Another very typical scene of Kyoto is the Golden Pavilion.

The Golden Pavilion

The Golden Pavilion

A must see in Kyoto is the Rokuon-ji Temple, commonly known as the Golden Pavilion, which is a Budist hall containing relics of Budha. Just like Kyomizu Dera, I returned here last autumn and had chance to see this lovely place in two totally different season.

The Golden Pavilion in Autumn

The Golden Pavilion in Autumn

Like many other temples in Japan, a pond in front of the Pavilion creates a lovely scenery of nature. The rocks in various places of the garden are donated by different lords. The pavilion is covered with gold foil. 3 different levels are designed in 3 different periods of styles. Together with many young girls, visiting the temple with their traditional costumes, you can be sure that you will have lovely photographs from your visit.

 

 

Sakura Sakura

After 10 days of travel to Japan and 4 days of overloaded work days, here I am back with my dear followers. I will write in deep detail about our Japan trip day by day, after finishing Australia, but until than here are some Sakura pictures as a teaser.

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More to come in the following months.

 

Sydney Royal Botanic Garden

Botanic Garden

Botanic Garden

The first day of our 10-days-trip to Australia, started on a nice Saturday morning with our driver and a car provided by Angelo Riccio Tourist Services in Sydney. After a short drive around the main areas of the city and a short stop at Sydney Opera House, to buy tickets for the evening, we headed to Bondi beach area but my mother-as a nature lover- insisted on to visit Botanic Garden first. So we spend about an hour in the park with a fast walking.

Lovely flowers and natural life

Lovely flowers and natural life

My facebook friends will recognize this photo from my facebook page. Sydney botanic garden is a very well kept garden with lovely flowers, birds, large trees, fresh air, people doing sports and some art installations.

A piece of art of sight and sound

A piece of art of sight and sound

An interesting piece of art is the one above, all sticks have different sounds, forming a nice music with the wind.

Short walk in the garden

Short walk in the garden

Interesting plants

Interesting plants

 

Great Cruise tour day-5

Our MSC Poesia

Our MSC Poesia

After a few weeks break of blogging, due to a 10-day trip to Australia, and a week of “traveling punishment” at work with loads to do, I am back on my blog, my pockets full of new adventures to tell. First comes first, let’s go on with the cruise before heading on the other trips.

On the 5th day of our Norwegian Fyords trip last summer, we found ourselves approaching to Stavenger early in the morning.

First sight of Stavenger, from our balcony

First sight of Stavenger, from our balcony

We had a full day in Stavenger, which was actually the largest city we have ever been in Norway. So we took a half day tour in Fyords and reserved the rest half for enjoying the summer in the city. The morning ritual was very same: early wake up, and early breakfast and early meeting at the theater and early moving out of the cruise, with our “number of the day” stickers on us and trying to follow our guides. For half day tour we took a Lysefyord boat trip, just by our cruise, which we shared with German, Italian and French speaking groups, so listened them all.

Coming to Norway I would very much like to climb on the famous Pulpit Rock, however, when you come with a cruise, with a group and with limited time to spent, we only could see it from the bottom of it.

Pulpit Rock, does not look so fascinating from down there

Pulpit Rock, does not look so fascinating from down there

Heading to Lysefyords

Heading to Lysefyords

Nature is so nice and calm

My Granddad, enjoying to be with us

My Granddad, aged 90+, enjoying to be with us

Returning from the Fyord trip, just like in all town centers, everyone of our group enjoyed to do as they wish. My preference was to head to the old town center, find some shopping places and lastly “people watch” activity at a cafe-most probably a touristy one.

Finding the old town was a bit of asking and seeking, but it was really worth it. Most superb tiny houses with fine flowers and lanes of art shops in between. Heaven for a traveler.

Tiny houses of old town

Tiny houses of old town

Cruise view from the lanes of old town

Cruise view from the lanes of old town

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Flowers enjoying the sunshine

Flowers enjoying the sunshine

Shopping streets, with some nice shops

Shopping streets, with some nice shops

And the "people watch" activity in a touristic cafe by the cruise

And the “people watch” activity in a touristic cafe by the cruise

Today our cruise departed at 4:00 pm, which allowed us to watch the departure ceremony, before dinner. With lovely song “Con teeee, partiro…” and crowds of people waving good bye to us, it was really worth to see. Departing from the port, we headed to the 13th floor deck, where a private party with the captain was organised for our group.

Good bye Stavenger

Good bye Stavenger

Our son with the captain Giuseppe Maresca

Our son with the captain Giuseppe Maresca

Warsaw with our son was super

Flowers in Warsaw
We just arrived home from our travel to Warsaw. I will tell more detail in the coming days with loads of photographes, but for now, I must say that everything went well. (Almost everything let’s say; as we missed our connection flight in Munich, because of the German Guards, unnecessarily checking every little detail in the luggages in the slowest was they can do-which will probably be a separate post to talk about)
Warsaw was much much more than we expected. We stayed in a very nice hotel, enjoyed lot’s of wine and dine and learned a lot about the history, amazed how a city was built from the ruins.
Moreover the weather was perfect, the festivals were in and around the city. What can one expect more from a long weekend.