The Streets and Alleys of Baltic (1)

I will be doing a series on streets and alleys of the Baltic countries.

I have been to all the Baltic capitals which includes visiting of some of the UNESCO Heritage sites like

Vilinus, Riga, Tallin etc.

What I found most interesting are the alleys and the streets which all have their own characteristics.DSC_0154

I am not able to tell you exactly where those alleys and streets are; in my simple mind, they are my memorable parts of the Baltic.

I like the cobblestones, the quaint street, the colored walls on both sides of the alleys, the cafes along or encroached onto the roads, the crude masonry wall facing and last, but not the least, the friendly people.

They leave an undeletable part in my memory!

Dubrovnik – The Charming Old Harbor

Dubrovnik is one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Supported by maritime  trade, since the middle ages, it has been the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice.  With no high vantage point nearby, it is quite difficult to have a close up  overview of the complete old port which is surrounded by forts and buildings on all three sides and an island breakwater, the Kase, on the seaward side. As on any other day, when we were there, there was a constant flow of sightseers disembarking from Mediterranean cruise ships and public ferries leaving from the short journey across to the picturesque island of Lokrum.

The old port, steeped in history, was where a lot of commercial  and maritime activity were carried out until the 1500s.  It was constructed in the 14th century with the tall St John fort defending the port entrance. To protect the  city there has been a lot of modifications to the port over the centuries.

There are two breakwaters protecting the harbor from waves. An outer one known as Porporela and inner one across the entrance known as Kase ( both on the far left). Two finger piers protruding from the town area (far right); one directly in the alignment of the Placa Stradun. The old port encloses the body of water between the  fort of St John, the Kase, the Revelin and the fort of St Luke. It   was filled with small fishing vessels and yachts bobbing in the calm waters. Both the day view and night view are equally enchanting.

The fort of St John, constructed in the 14th century, has high walls which are several stories tall guarding the entrance to the harbor.  Its steep limestone walls contrast sharply with the azure Adriatic Sea. At the time of Venetian expansion, St. John’s fortress was linked to the old Revelin Fortress by a chain which could be raised to prevent vessel entry in case of a threat. The fort is now home to an impressive Maritime Museum, the city aquarium and an open air theatre.

Revelin Fortress is shown in mid picture (above) jutting out like the prow of a battleship.  It was built in the 16th century as the danger of attacks from the Ottoman Turk grew.

The view of the port on the town side near to the root of the piers is also breathtaking; again photos were taken during the day time and night for interest of comparison.

From the far end, we can see the promontory which used to serve as a breakwater, as well as the imposing structure of the town’s fortifications.

We took a stroll along its picturesque promontory as the sun set and finished the stroll on one of the benches by the Red Feral ( warning navigation light).

The Porporela breakwater is known as a favourite meeting place of young people who want to hide from the inquisitive eyes . The view was just romantic and reminded us of the popular local song: I’ll wait for you at the breakwater little darling, at the breakwater by the Red Feral…………..

Cappadocia – The Land of Fairies

It was awe-inspiring to visit the land of fairies, Cappadocia. for its seemingly extraterrestrial landscape and underground cities.

The land of fairies is in a small area in Central Turkey which has a unique, almost surreal, landscape. This area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travelling to Cappadocia is a lesson which teaches you what mother nature can do to the earth. It is also a dreamy journey into physical geography and geology.

Past volcanic activities formed a plateau of ash and the strange, rugged rock formations were created by the forces of erosion. These formations are known as “fairy chimneys” as the early inhabitants of the region believed that humans could not have built them, and as fairies lived underground, they must be the chimneys sticking out.

The unusual structures were created through erosion of rain, wind and temperature fluctuations. Various forms of rock formations such as cones were formed as the softer ash layers eroded faster than the harder layers of basalt which remained on top capping the conical structures underneath.

The tuff ash was easy to work with primitive tools and many cave dwellings and churches were cut into the cones and valley walls.

Starting 1968 when Eric Van Daniken, in his book “Chariots of the Gods”, alluded to the idea of aliens presence on earth,  authors have suggested that Cappadocia may have been formed as a result of a nuclear war waged by extraterrestrials in the area. It was also quipped that part of Star Wars was filmed with this area as a backdrop.

Yes, we can stretch our imagination  as much as we can. However, I rather want to leave Cappadocia with a memory that it is a land of fairies, not wars.