Sunday, June 22, 2014

barbra's album

Trying to distill a month's worth of photographs into bite size pieces is turning out to be more of a task than I had anticipated.

But, here is an idea.  I do not often take photographs of people -- even though I think those shots are some of my better results.

And I know why I am adverse to shooting other people -- I hate being photographed.  "Hate" may sound like a harsh word.  But it is the correct one.  "Despise" doesn't even come close.

Not surprisingly, there were very few people photographs.  So, here is a sampling of some people (who need people) shots from the rim of Europe.

Even though Barcelona is filled with people, my photographs of Barcelona are not.  However, I thought the shot (at the top of this post) of a butcher manually slicing thin pieces of ham summed up the city's spirit.  Proud and determined.

And then there is this street woman.  With her few prized possessions.  Sitting alone in a closed cafe as the day begins.  Didn't Angela Lansbury once play this role?

I did not find much of Van Gogh in St. Remy, but these street musicians form the foreground for a very busy background of cafe customers.  I particularly like the Asian girls on the far right.  Caught in some sort of dream world.

Or how about this interaction on Sardinia?  I call it "Western Charity Takes a Vacation."

While the tourist was ignoring the beggar, her shipmates were busy enjoying the sights of Sardinia by trying to find a hot spot for their mobile devices.  This flocking instinct of the under-dressed was a common sight at each of our ports.

In Palermo, we ran into one of several street protests.  This one (as were the rest) was protesting government budget cuts to meet EU fiscal standards.  Or, more accurately, cuts for the people who were protesting.

But this one was very Italian.  The marchers seemed to be far more interested in chatting up their fellow marchers.  Or just sulking.

The protest crowd is balanced out by his solitary figure in Florence.  An older woman sitting in a small spotlight of sunshine.  While her little dog seeks the comfort of the shade.  How could I not have a dog shot?

The Kiss in Times Square is an American icon.  So, I was a bit surprised to see this giant sculpted version in Civitavecchia.  But something appeared to be a bit off.  And it was not the people playing hide and seek between the figures' legs.

There is the beard on the sailor.  Making him look a bit more southern European.  And then there is that fist and the arm cocked at an angle in one of Italy's ruder gestures.  Anti-Americanism tends to creep into a lot of European public art.

Like this small monument in a bombed-out house.  The memorial is there in memory of bombings from World War Two.  American and British bombings.  The Guernica-inspired arrangement leaves no doubt what the sculptor felt about Italy's "liberation."

It is hard to escape politics in Europe.  Even when children are at play.  I just hope they do not pick up their grammar lesson from signs like the one below.

The children were playing just steps away from a band made up of early model hippies cajoling the crowd with rhythm instruments.  I could not resist the comparison between theses ancient rhythm sticks and its neighboring iPad.

My one big moment on Malta was a fire.  A grass fire, but it was clipping right along on the hillside below the fortress.  And I was the only person around.  Fortunately, two firemen showed up to put it out -- and pose for Mexpatriate.

While I was shooting, a strange idea popped into my head.  Arsonists are well known for starting fires and then sticking around for firemen to arrive.  Apparently, it is some type of rush -- like watching toilets flush.  For a brief moment, I wondered if that is why the firemen thought I was there. 

On our way to Mostar, we stopped at a Bosnian grocery store, where I bought some cheese and sliced meat.  Both were perfect.  But what struck me as odd were the flags over the door.  Brazil, I could understand.  The world cup was under way.

But South Korea, Japan, and, strangest of all, the Republic of China (but not Red China).  What was with the Asian fetish?

Then I looked below the flags.   

Mostar turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of the tour.  What was a bit disheartening, though, is what is taking place here on the restored old bridge.  It is the reason for all thosee young women crowding around.

The young Bosnian in the Speedo is getting ready to dive into the river below.  That is, he will dive if the crowd coughs up enough money to pay for his descent.

In this case, they did.  And why take the risk?  Unemployment is almost 50% in Bosnia.  Better to pretend you dive in Acapulco than starve.

While walking through one of Montenegro's Disney-restored towns, I encountered this juxtaposition.  Norma Desmond meets Miley Cyrus.

You will probably not be surprised when I tell you The Norma is from my ship.  The Kleenex Girl is from the low-budget ship docked next to ours.  Want to guess which group had a better time?

It was boat race day in Venice when we arrived.  The Grand Canal was filled with all sorts of people-propelled vessels.  Including two Elvises -- and two guys on bicycle-powered pontoons.

You have already seen an earlier version of this photograph.  But I just noticed there are two women dreamily listening to the band's music.  The one in front, who we have already met.  And a second to the far right.  Same mood.

After four days in Venice, I was feeling a bit dreamy myself.

But, of all my people shots on this trip, this photograph is my favorite.  Even though it is obviously set in Venice, the pastel colors, the still reflective water, the arched bridge, the two girls, the lonely flower stem, all speak of the Orient.

And with that image, I will close out my European tour.

I have much more I can share, but I think we have all had enough of Europe for a bit.  After all, I will be back there in just two more months. 


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