Street Art Around the World

The sides of buildings have become a blank canvass for artists to create unique and often whimsical murals. While there is still graffiti in plenty of places, a lot of it has mostly been replaced by interesting works of art. Although not everyone is a fan of the works that can be found in cities everywhere, we have certainly seen some interesting ones. Obviously the quality of the artwork depends on the talent of the artist and the choice of subjects can be political or can sometimes offend as well. The notion of using walls of buildings to tell a visual story is nothing new as we witnessed by seeing all of the hieroglyphs on the ancient temples in Egypt. These murals aren’t restricted to the outside of buildings, it is also common to see them painted on the walls of restaurants as well. What do you think, are the paintings on the walls artwork or an eyesore?

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Space Themed Art in Denver

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Building in Quito, Ecuador

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Painted Building in Reykjavik, Iceland

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The Lennon Wall in Prague

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Sandhill Cranes Painted on Wall in Southern Colorado

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Temple of Horace in Edfu, Egypt

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Artwork in Cochabamba, Bolivia

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Sante Fe, New Mexico

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Wall in Brasov, Romania

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Restaurant Wall in Prague

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Painted Wall Above Elevators in Denver

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Wall in Mexican Restaurant

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Chinatown Mural

 

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Supporting a Local Cause

Regardless of where you are, supporting a local cause is a great way to do something good and make yourself feel good in the process. When that support comes in the form of attending an event, then it is even better. Over the weekend, we went to an event called Pints for Paws Brewfest with the proceeds going to the local Humane Society. Several restaurants and breweries provided food and beers and there was a local band providing festive music as well. The cost of the event was reasonable and the cause was certainly worthwhile.

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Gathering Around the Beer Tents

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Pastrami Sliders from Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

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Dancing to the Music

We have always been firm believers in getting a rescue animal if you are interested in getting a dog or cat as a pet. We have had several dogs and a cat that were all rescue animals throughout the years, although we don’t currently have any pets as we aren’t home enough to take care of them properly. Our last puppy lived to be 17 years old and we have very vivid memories of going to pick him out. At the time, our youngest daughter wanted to get a dog and she was hoping to get a golden retriever. We went to the animal shelter and there were a couple of retrievers, but they had a long list of names of people wanting to adopt them.

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Adorable Puppy

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Our Friend’s at Ted’s

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Plenty of People Supporting the Cause

We kept walking around and then a cute little black and brown dog caught our eye. Our daughter knelt next to him and he raised his paw to give her a high-five. His description listed him as a Rottweiler Mix, but he was much more of an Australian Cattle Dog. Unlike the other dogs where we would have had to wait before we could take them home, he was available immediately, most likely due to people being fearful of adopting a dog that had been labeled a Rottweiler. He was one of the most loving and loyal dogs that we have ever adopted.

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Our Dog, Einstein

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Colorado Moonshine

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Varieties of Wine

We had a great time at the event, tasting food from Ted’s Montana Grill, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, and P. F. Chang’s. It was a hot day, so tasting beers from Bristol Brewing
Company, JAKs Brewing Company, Black Forest Brewing Company, and Trinity Brewing Company.  In addition to the beer, there were also a couple of wineries, Avanti Winery and Vino Passarelli, with wonderful wines to taste as well as a tent with Colorado Moonshine from 3 Hundred Days of Shine. We were pleased to see a good turnout to support the Humane Society and enjoy some lively music while enjoying excellent food and drinks. In many ways, it is like going to a local festival in Europe only the money goes to a worthwhile cause. If you find a similar event in your area, you should definitely take advantage of it and participate.

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Enjoying the Brewfest

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Black Forest Brewing Had a Wonderful Mango Habanero Wheat Beer

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Time for Food

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Beer from Trinity

 

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Hatshepsut Temple and the Colossi of Memnon

There are so many fascinating sights to see when visiting Luxor, Egypt that you could easily spend a week or more in the area. Although the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple are absolute must-see’s, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon should also be on your list. They are both located on the west bank of the Nile outside of Luxor and we visited them after spending several hours in the Valley of the Kings. As with a lot of the things that you will find in Egypt, these are both amazing partially due to their sheer size.

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Statues Outside of the Hatshepsut Temple’s Main Building

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Both of the Colossi of Memnon Statues

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Hieroglyphs Inside of the Temple

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Head of a Collapsed Statue

The Hatshepsut Temple is dedicated to both the god Amun as well as Hatshepsut, who was the greatest female pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Her reign begin in 1507 BCE and lasted for about 50 years. Her influence can be found throughout the temples of Egypt and she was responsible for the creation of the largest obelisks in Karnak Temple. The temple itself is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of ancient Egypt with a style that resembles the classic Greek architecture that would follow about a thousand years later. It took 15 years to complete the construction of the temple and it is quite impressive, especially with the backdrop of the mountains behind it. Djeser Djeseru (holy of holiest) is the name of the main building and is also sometimes used to refer to the entire temple.

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Very Impressive

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Close-Up of One of the Statues

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Many Steps to Climb

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Inside the Temple Grounds

The Colossi of Memnon are two enormous statues representing Amenhotep III who reigned in the 13th century BCE. Both statues, which are about 60 feet high (18 meters), face the Nile River. Although the Mortuary of Amenhotep III, which was located behind the statues, no longer exists do to floods and the common practice of taking stones from older monuments to create new ones, the statues themselves are quite impressive. You don’t need to spend a lot of time to see the statues, but they are definitely worth putting on your itinerary. By the time that we made it to them, we were exhausted from walking through the tombs and temples in the extreme heat.

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Huge Statue of Amenhotep

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Valley of the Kings in the Background

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More of the Hatshepsut Temple

Egypt is such an amazing country with a history that stretches back over 5000 years. Our time in Luxor was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, if not our favorite place. We spent two days in the area and wish that we could have spend more time.

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Learning Different Cooking Techniques When Traveling

Like many people, we not only like to try local dishes when we travel, but we also like to learn about how they prepare the food as well. Whether it is wrapping fish and vegetables in banana leaves, digging a pit, or using special pots like a tajine, the technique has as much to do with the flavor as the spices and meats. We can’t necessarily create all of the same techniques at home, but we try to whenever we can. We definitely love eating in small, family owned restaurants and if we are ever given the opportunity to eat with a local family, which happens occasionally, we absolutely enjoy that as well.

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Cooking in a Tajine

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Preparing a Local Meal in the Amazon

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Traditional Chestnut Soup in Strasbourg

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Ham Curing in Southern Spain

One thing that we have noticed through our travels is that we rely too much on modern technologies for cooking and they aren’t truly necessary. There is something special about a rustic meal prepared with traditional methods. The problem in today’s world is that people don’t have the time to prepare and cook meals in such a way that requires hours of time to prep ingredients or cook over open fires. Obviously we’re not suggesting that we turn back the clock to a time when there weren’t all of the conveniences and that a wonderful can’t be created by using them, just that there is something special about a meal made by hand and with love.

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Cheese Fondue in Switzerland

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Wrapping in Banana Leaves

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Cooking Over Open Flames

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Shopping for a Tajine in Morocco

 

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Ancient Spanish Church in Bolivia

We were driving through the countryside of Bolivia outside of Cochabamba and we came across a tiny village with an old Spanish church. We stopped and talked to the locals, but apparently the church was no longer in use and they didn’t have keys to let us inside. We walked around the church and found a window with a mesh screen that was loose and peeked through to see some of the contents inside. It felt as though we were looking back over a hundred years in time.

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Church Façade

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Our Guide Peaking Through the Window

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Looking Inside of the Church

There are times when traveling, especially when you get outside of the major cities, where you come across little pieces of history that can be as fascinating as some of the well known places. There was nothing particularly specific about this little church, but understanding how the Spanish, who once controlled the region, influenced the native Quechua people is quite interesting. One could easily imagine missionaries working from this church and trying to convert the locals who remained faithful to their existing beliefs.

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Backside of the Church

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Another View Inside

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Spanish Church

We would have loved to enter the church to see if there was any artwork inside, but unfortunately we were only able to see a little bit of the altar from the little window. We could have easily just driven by this church and not stopped to investigate, but we are glad that we took the time to visit. Clearly this church is never going to be on anyone’s travel itinerary, but sometimes these unique little oddities are as interesting as the destination. Have you ever come across something unexpected during your travels that has turned out to be memorable?

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Window Close Up

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Trying to See Inside of the Church

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Front of the Church

 

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Government Museum in Chennai, India

History museums are a wonderful way to learn about the history and culture of the country that you are visiting. The Government Museum in Chennai is no exception and was interesting for a variety of reasons. It is the second oldest museum in India and also contains the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside of Europe. The main building of the museum complex is architecturally interesting and is a remnant of British rule. The museum can be quite busy, so you will need to have patience as you wait in lines to view some of the exhibits.

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Sculptures on Display

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One of the Buildings in the Museum Complex

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Museum Central Hall

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Main Building with Beautiful Architecture

There are many ancient statues on the grounds of the museum that are displayed on stone pedestals, which are truly fascinating. Inside the museum there are many different displays with everything from zoological, archeological, cultural, historical, and artistic exhibits. The museum is very popular with the local schools and the students were by far the majority of the visitors while we were in the museum. Also, there didn’t appear to be many, if any, foreigners in the museum other than ourselves, which made for a unique experience as we felt as much on display as the exhibits themselves.

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Snakes on Display

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More Statues with Students in the Background

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Ancient Fossils

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Religious Artwork

The information on the exhibits is provided in both the native Tamil as well as English, making it easy for us to understand what it was that we were seeing. Like many things in India, the variety of what is found within the museum can be somewhat overwhelming, but fascinating all the same. It is definitely a bit of a different experience than visiting  museums in other places, but well worth taking the time to see while in Chennai.

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Ancient Statue

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Lion Statue with English Description

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Museum Grounds

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Understanding Culture through Art

 

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The Duomo in Florence, Italy

Suggesting that you should see the Duomo when visiting Florence is like suggesting that you should breathe, it is almost unavoidable. Not only does it dominate the skyline, but almost all of the roads will lead you there as well. With that said, it is truly one of the most stunning cathedrals in all of Europe. Officially called the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the Duomo has the largest brick dome in the world. The façade of the cathedral is as equally beautiful with its intricate details and uniquely white coloring compared to most other cathedrals.

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Cathedral Façade

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Giotto’s Campanile or the Bell Tower

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Beautiful Art Above the Doors

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Dominating the Skyline

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Pink and Green Marble Panels

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Details on the Bell Tower

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Looking Up at the Entrance

Construction began on the church in 1296 and it would take about 140 years to complete. The complex is made up of three buildings, the cathedral itself, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile, which is the bell tower. The Piazza del Duomo is definitely a crowded location as tourists flock to the area to see the Duomo of Firenze. You could spend hours looking at the details of the façade, which is made up of marble panels of pink and green with white borders. The artwork above the doors of the cathedral is as beautiful as the artwork that can be found in the city’s museums. You can also get tickets to enter the Baptistery, but even if you don’t enter, the ornate doors cannot be missed.

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Baptistery

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Ornate Doors

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Panel Details

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Standing in the Piazza

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Such Impressive Details

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The Center of Florence

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Statue on the Façade

To truly get an understanding of how impressive the size of the Duomo is, visit the Piazzale de Michelangelo which overlooks the city. Although there are other towers and churches in Florence, nothing compares to the magnificence of the Duomo. Between the dome and the bell tower, the cathedral truly dominates the historic city. There are many reasons to visit Florence, but seeing the Duomo is high on the list of things to see not only in Florence, but also in all of Italy if not Europe.

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View from Piazzale de Michelangelo

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One of the Gothic Windows

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So Much to See

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Looking Up at the Cathedral and Bell Tower

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Relief Above Another Door

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View from the Back

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Fascinating Statues

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View from the Piazza

 

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Seven Falls and the 1858 Restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Seven Falls and the 1858 Restaurant.  All opinions are our own.

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The View from the Front of the Restaurant

We were invited to come to Seven Falls and to have dinner at the 1858 Restaurant, which are both operated by The Broadmoor. There are many beautiful places to see when visiting Colorado Springs and Seven Falls should definitely be one of the top sites on your list. Not only are the falls themselves beautiful, but the entire canyon that creates the backdrop for the waterfalls is truly gorgeous. Having lunch or dinner at the 1858 Restaurant, which sits at the base of the waterfalls, is a perfect way to end a day of hiking around the park and climbing the stairs along the falls.

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Seven Falls from Eagles Nest

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Views of the Canyon

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Seeing the Waterfalls Up Close

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1858 Restaurant

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Gorgeous Scenery

During the summer months, to get to Seven Falls you catch a free shuttle from the Norris Penrose Event Center, which takes about 15 minutes to drop you off at the entrance. Once inside and having purchased your ticket, you can either walk the .8 of a mile to the base of the falls or for an extra $2, you can catch a tram. As long as you are relatively fit, we would recommend just walking up to the falls and enjoying the beautiful scenery. At the base of the falls, you will find a souvenir shop, restrooms, as well as the 1858 Restaurant. There are two ways to see the falls. One is to climb the stairs or take the elevator to the Eagles Nest, which is a platform with wonderful views of the cascading falls and also has a gift shop. The other is to climb the 224 steps that will take you up close and personal to the series of falls that make up Seven Falls.

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Walking the Road to the Waterfalls

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One of the Trams

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You Don’t Want to Miss These Views

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Climbing the Stairs Next to the Waterfalls

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Amazing Waterfalls

In addition to viewing the falls, there are also a couple of hiking trails, one that is about a half hour round trip and the other is about an hour round trip. The longer trail will take you to Inspiration Point where you will be rewarded with wonderful views of Colorado Springs and the plains beyond. The other will take you to Midnight Falls, which is another small waterfall. If you are truly adventurous, you can also zip-line inside of the park where you can soar high above the canyon below. Having zip-lined several times in the past, we decided not to do so on our visit to the park.

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Hiking Trail

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People Getting Ready to Zip-Line

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Steep Climb to the Top

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Beginning of the Trail

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Looking Down from the Stairs

After visiting the Eagles Nest as well as climbing the 224 steps that took us to the top of the waterfalls, our legs were quite exhausted. Especially if you are not acclimated to the altitude of Colorado Springs, give yourself plenty of time to scale the steep steps and take time to stop and rest. We were definitely ready for dinner after climbing and hiking inside of the park. The 1858 Restaurant offers a fine dining experience in a casual atmosphere with reasonable prices. We had the Chicken and Dumplings as well as a Rocky Mountain Trout with Chile Verde Sauce. We also had spicy Wild Boar Green Chili and a side of Macaroni and Cheese. Everything that we ate was absolutely delicious and the service was friendly and attentive. We would recommend to anyone to visit the restaurant even if they didn’t want to climb the steps to the top of the waterfalls.

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Trout with Chile Verde

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Inside of the Restaurant

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Chicken and Dumplings

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Front of the Restaurant

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Macaroni and Cheese

Seven Falls should definitely be on the agenda of anyone visiting Colorado Springs and we truly enjoyed our time in the park and at the restaurant. It is a great way to see some of the best scenery in the area without having to spend hours hiking our driving miles outside of the city.

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Eagles Nest from Below

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Restaurant Bar

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View of the Falls

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Wild Boar Green Chili

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Looking Down at One of the Seven Waterfalls

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Starting Our Climb

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Natural Beauty

 

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Boulder Scrambling

If you go hiking on some of the more difficult trails, you are likely to reach points in the trail where you end having to scramble over the boulders. Scrambling is when the trail requires you to use both your hands and feet to climb over boulder fields and steep inclines. For the most part, it is actually easier going up then coming down when vertigo can make finding your footholds more difficult. Although we don’t scramble as much as we used to, it is still often worth the effort as you are usually rewarded with amazing views. Needless to say, trails that require you to scramble across boulders are usually less frequented, so you will likely have the trail to yourself. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Piles or Stacks, so we have included some photos of boulders piled up to try and deter us from moving forward.

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Heading Back Down

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Some Difficult Hiking

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Worth the Views

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Mountain Goats Make it Look Easy

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Boulders on the Shore

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Don’t Trip

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Sometimes Treacherous

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Exhausted Smile, Pile of Boulders in the Background

 

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Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan in Cairo, Egypt

There is more to visiting Cairo than just seeing the great pyramids and sailing in a felucca on the Nile River. We took a tour of Islamic Cairo that included the Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan, which was truly fascinating not so much for what we saw, but more about what we learned from our guide. We wouldn’t recommend visiting without a guide unless you are familiar Sunni Islam, the history of Cairo , and the influences of the surrounding countries. Also, it is not currently a working mosque, so without someone to provide clarity on the features, it might not be as easily understood.

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Entrance to the Mosque

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Colorful Doorway

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Walls of the Mosque

Construction of the mosque began in 1356 and was completed 3 years later, which was only due to the fact that work continued every single day from the time that construction commenced until its completion. It is one of the largest mosques in the world and also houses schools or madrassas for each of the four Sunni schools, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali. Our guide took us into the mosque and had us sit near the minbar, which is the pulpit where the imam would deliver the sermon. Today, of course, one can hear the prayers all over the city as they ring from the loud speakers, but before that there was a platform where the words would be repeated for those in the main courtyard of the mosque to hear.

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Colorful Artwork

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Looking Out from the Minbar

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Ornate Doorway

The mosque was built during the rule of the Mamluk’s, which were soldiers that were purchased slaves, rising their station above that of ordinary slaves. As is typical with such a type of rule, it was often cruel and would eventually lead to Egypt welcoming the Ottoman Empire to take control of the country in the late 16th century. The artwork within the mosque is as fascinating as its architecture and size. The floor of the open courtyard is a beautiful patchwork of colorful designs with an ornate dome in the center.

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Minbar or Pulpit for the Imam

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Dome in the Center Square

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Floor of the Courtyard

There are many wonderful mosques in Cairo and our tour included several, but the Mosque and Madrassa of Sultan Hasan certainly stood out due to its history and architecture. It is located near the heart of the historic downtown area of Cairo and should definitely be visited while spending time in the area. Obviously going to the shops and bazaars is something that should be experienced, but if you want to understand the culture of the people and understand the evolution of the country that has been under foreign control for much of its history, you should take time to visit the mosques.

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One of the Domes

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Another Dome

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We Sat on the Floor and Learned So Much

 

 

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