Ailsa’s travel theme for this week (Where’s my backpack?) is BRIDGES.
This is a theme that I love to talk about. As a bridge designer and subsequently project manager for quite a few highway, railway and pedestrian / cycle track bridges from mid 1970s to mid 1980s; I have a special interest in bridges of all sorts. I have been keeping track of bridges of different historical ages, single span to multiple spans, short (just a single plank) to very long ones (suspension or cable stayed bridges), with stone and masonry as construction materials to wrought iron, steel, reinforced / prestressed concrete to even structural plastics, from straight to curve, from old style designs to the more modern bridges of streamlined aerodynamic designs. These are all my fields of interest.
Let’s start our journey from Scotland, UK. The Firth of Forth bridge is the first steel bridge built in the UK. It was opened on 4 March 1890, and spans a total length of 2,528 metres. The photo was taken in 1985.
Going south into London, we have a view of the Albert Bridge which crosses over the River Thames in West London in West London, connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea. The bridge was designed and built in 1873 as a modified cable stayed bridge. Again, the photo was taken in 1985. It is always a delight to stroll the river banks of River Thames, viewing bridges – including some of the notable bridges: the Tower Bridge and the Millenium Bridge..
We then crossed over the Channel to the European continent and ended up at Riga, Latvia. The Vanšu Bridge in Riga is a cable-stayed bridge that crosses the Daugava river with a length of 595 meters. In the background is the TV tower.
We digressed into Budapest and have a great view of the bridges crossing this stretch of the River Danube. Our attention was immediately drawn to the Chain Bridge. This bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the river Danube. It is one of the iconic structure of Budapest, the most widely known bridge of the Hungarian capital.
Walking further on along the river bank, we reached the Liberty Bridge. It is the third and shortest bridge of Budapest. It was built for the Millennium World Exhibition in 1896, its original name being Francis Joseph Bridge.
There is another bridge in the vicinity known as the Elizabeth bridge.Elizabeth Bridge was named after Queen Elizabeth, the spouse of Francis Joseph I assassinated in Geneva in 1898. With only one 290-meter span stretching over the Danube, the original bridge built in eclectic style was known as the longest suspension bridge of the world.
No mention of bridges will be complete without mentioning Charles Bridge in Prague. For many hours, I have been walking up and down the bridge, viewing the statues on both sides of the bridge and admiring the beautiful scenery.
We then flew to Istanbul, Turkey and embarked on a cruise up the Bosphorus from where we had a breathtaking view of the suspension bridge which connects Europe to Asia. It is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel towers and inclined hangers. The aerodynamic deck hangs on zigzag steel cables. It is 1,560 m long with a deck width of 33.4 m.
From there, we took a plane to Hong Kong where at that time, the longest single span cable-stayed bridge was being constructed. The picture taken from the shore shows the construction was extended into night-time to take maximum advantage of the time slot outside the typhoon season.
We thought we have seen enough of modern bridges and, for a change, we decided to visit West Lake, China and viewed some of the old stone arch bridges in their serene surroundings which sent tranquility into our minds and souls.
As if we were not tired of travelling, we flew over 16 hours and landed at New York City. One of the bridges we like to visit is a stone arch bridge in Central Park. Is this the bridge shown in Richard Gere’s movie of “Autumn in New York” ? We didn’t quite know but was greatly impressed by the romantic setting. We went on to see other bridges like the Brooklyn bridge and was awed by its beauty.
On our way back, we decided we would not do a non-stop flight to HK but stop at San Francisco. How could one miss the Golden Gate bridge? We make a tour of the area and saw the mist rolling in under the bridge. What a sight!
Bridges are aesthetically pleasing and are symbols of connection and overcoming obstacles. I love bridges for these reasons and these are the reasons for posting them. The above trip is, of course, based on a fictitious journey undertaken by the Retiree. In fact, it has been undertaken over different time zones, space, at different time, during different life stages of this retiree. It has been pieced together so that readers can have a global view of bridges all over the world – as a reminiscence of the retiree’s interest in his early career!