Are You in Other People’s Travel Photos?

When taking photos of popular places while traveling, it is hard not to get other tourists in your photos. Although we always try to take pictures in a way that avoids the crowds, sometimes there just isn’t a way to keep people out of them. Even worse, when you have a camera in your hand, some people seem to stare right at you, so you end up with photos with someone looking like they are glaring at you. Instead of capturing a candid moment of the place you are visiting, you end up with a photo that seems somehow awkward. As we looked through our pictures for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, A Face in the Crowd, we started to wonder how many times we might show up in someone else’s photo album. We can imagine them looking back at the pictures from their favorite vacation and wondering to themselves, who are these people who shared the same moment in time with them. Do you ever imagine who the strangers might be that are in your photographs, perhaps even guessing where they are from, what they do, or if they are a spy for some foreign entity? Maybe you have a photo of someone who became famous after you captured their image and you don’t even know it.


Hochheim, Germany


Getting Looks in Strasbourg, France


People in Prague, Czech Republic


The Streets of Florence, Italy


Vienna, Austria


Taking Photos in a Crowd in Prague


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Sampling Food in Colorado Springs

There are a variety of restaurants in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, which means you can find something for any taste. Most of the restaurants are independently owned and each of them has its own unique style. We were only downtown for a day, so we only had time to visit a few locations. In order to maximize our experience we went to a Colorado themed restaurant, an Irish pub, and a seafood restaurant.


Bar at Colorado Craft


Historic Building with Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub

Our first stop of the day was at Colorado Craft Social, which was serving Sunday brunch. We ordered the Green Chili Cheddar Biscuits with eggs over easy. As always, we shared our meal as it was definitely a lot of food. As a bonus, the meal came with a free mimosa to help start the day out right and they also served a lot of local Colorado beers. After eating our fill of comfort food, we walked around the downtown area to enjoy a sunny day in Colorado Springs.


Green Chili Cheddar Biscuits


People Enjoying Colorado Craft


Entrance on Tejon Street

In the afternoon, we headed to Jack Quinn’s to listen to some authentic Irish folk music and enjoy a pint of beer and some chips and dips. Chips are obviously the same as French fries and it came with two dips, one that was a curry dip and the other was somewhat similar to a thousand island dressing. The building that houses the restaurant was built in the late 1800’s and is part of the historic downtown district. It was hard to leave the wonderful ambiance of the pub, but we needed to head back to our hotel for some warmer clothes as the temperatures drop quickly once the sun goes down.


Musicians Playing to a Full Restaurant


Relaxing at Jack Quinn’s


Chips and Dips

For dinner, we ended up at Bonny and Read for an upscale seafood experience. After a half dozen oysters, we shared the Yellow Tail Snapper. It is served whole with a lime ginger sauce and coconut rice giving it an Asian flare. Although we don’t usually like to have to filet our own fish at the table, it certainly tasted wonderful. With all of the wonderful choices to choose from, downtown Colorado Springs certainly is a great place to go for a night out.


Yellow Tail Snapper




Bonny and Read


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Birds of the Amazon Rainforest

We saw over 55 types of birds during our time in the Amazon Jungle. We purchased a bird and mammal spotting book at the wildlife center where we were staying and at the end of every day our nature guide would mark all of the different birds and animals that we saw during our tours. We didn’t get photographs of everything that we saw, either because the canopy was too thick to get a good picture or because we saw them so quickly that we couldn’t get our camera out and focus in time. Capturing images of the wildlife was certainly a highlight of our time in rainforest.


Hoatzin (Stinky Turkey) in a Tree above the River


Bat Falcon


Scarlet Macaws in the Jungle


Yellow-Rumped Cacique in Flight

The colorful macaws certainly enjoyed showing off and we were lucky enough to see four different types of macaws including the scarlet and blue and yellow macaws. We also captured a photo of a white throated toucan, but it is hard to see off in the distance. Our guides had powerful binoculars and when they found a bird, they would sometimes take a photo from our phone through the eye-piece, capturing them up close. We also used our telephoto lens, but certainly could have used a more powerful lens.


Birds following Our Canoe


Scarlet Macaws in Flight


Toucan Barely Visible (Black and White in the Center of the Photo)


Colorful Wire-Tailed Manakin

One of the most common birds was called the stinky turkey by the locals and we saw them all along the river. Another common, and noisy, bird was the yellow-rumped cacique, which nested all around the grounds of the eco-lodge. Not all of the birds were colorful and some of them camouflaged themselves to blend in with the trees around them. It was quite common to see vultures circling in the sky at various times and they looked like giant black birds from the distance. There were also a lot of river birds, like the king fishers and swifts that were very graceful to watch as they surveyed the water for food. One of the special trips that we took was to a salt lick where the parrots and parakeets would gather at dawn to eat the nutrients from the muddy cliff.


Parrots and Parakeets at the Salt Lick


Perched on a Branch


Another Hoatzin


Macaws Overhead

If you plan a trip into the Amazon Rainforest, be sure to pack your camera and binoculars along with your jungle clothes. If you are willing to get up before the sun rises and stay out until the sun sets, you should be fortunate enough to see a wide variety of wildlife. With over 600 species of birds to see in the biodiverse Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, the opportunities to see unique birds can be found around almost every bend in the river.


Yellow-Rumped Cacique at Sunset


Unique Bird Taking Flight


Camouflaged Bird


Cacique on a Branch


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Downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs has a lot to offer visitors. There is Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, and Manitou Springs, just to name a few. Downtown Colorado Springs has much to offer as well, with many restaurants to suit a variety of tastes plus the Pioneer Museum, Colorado College, and the Fine Arts Center. We decided to spend a couple of days downtown to enjoy many of the things that this small city has to offer.


Pioneer Museum


Walking Tejon Street


One of the Many Statues Downtown

Colorado Springs is the second largest city in the state, but it isn’t a large city by any means. It still has a historic feel and wonderful views as it sits at the base of Pikes Peak. One thing you can’t help but notice when walking around the downtown area are all of the statues that can be found on almost every block. One of the more interesting statues was of a western couple dancing that actually spins in a circle mimicking the motion of the dance.


More Modern Buildings


Dancing Statue


Historic Buildings

We stayed at the Mining Exchange, which is a Wyndham Hotel and is centrally located in the heart of the downtown area. A block away is Tejon Street, which is the main street to find small boutique shops and many different restaurants. We popped into several of them, but one of our favorite locations was Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub, which has live Irish music on Thursdays and Sundays. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours, having a pint and listening to some authentic folk music.


Inside of the Mining Exchange


Downtown Shops

Colorado Springs is a perfect location to launch your Colorado adventures as it provides easy access to the heart of the mountains and is centrally located in the state. It is also the home to the United States Olympic Center and proudly calls itself Olympic City, USA. With so many places to visit near the heart of the city, it can be busy during the heart of the tourist season, which is from May to September. We are happy to call this city home, but don’t always explore it as often as we should.


Colorful Building


Downtown Clock


Mountains in the Background


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Leadville, Colorado

As you head into the mountains of Colorado, you will find that most of the towns have grown quite substantially and are surrounded by condominiums and private homes. There are, however, a few historic towns that still exist and we truly enjoy visiting them. Leadville is a little unique as it sits at over 10,000 feet (over 3,000 meters) high and can be difficult to reach during the winter as the roads that reach the pass are often closed. There are some snowmobile tours that you can take around the area, which are quite interesting and can even take you to an old ghost town in the area.


Hiking Near Leadville


Memorabilia in the Silver Dollar Saloon


Standing on Main Street

Even if you visit during the summer, it is important to remember that it can be quite cold in the high country, especially at night. We were there in September, so the scenery around the town was spectacular with all of the colors of autumn. Walking through the town is like stepping back in time where you can see buildings from the 1800’s. Probably the most iconic building on the main street is the Silver Dollar Saloon, which has amazing character and was supposedly frequented by Billy the Kidd back when he was in the area. There is a lot of memorabilia on the walls and the bar is original to the building.


Historic Bar


Inside of the Silver Dollar Saloon


Historic Saloon Building

The old railway station is another place that should be on your list to visit if you make your way into the mountains to see Leadville. The train still operates out of Leadville and during the summer months you book a ticket on one of their daily trips. Seeing the mountains from an old train is something that you will never forget. Leadville is located about 2 1/2 hours outside of Denver, which makes it an easy day trip and you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the Rocky Mountains.


Train Station


Mountain Views


Train Engine

Visiting the historic town of Leadville is certainly worth the time if you are visiting Denver or even spending time in the high country of Colorado. Even if you don’t make it to Leadville, it is worth the effort to get away from the large resort areas and seeing one of the historic old western towns that still exist today.


Mountains in the High Country


Downtown Leadville


View from the Hiking Trail


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Sweet Memories

We are firm believers that if you stay young at heart, you will have a happier life in general. We try to stay energetic and push our boundaries wherever possible. We also try to view the places that we visit with same sense of awe and wonder of a child. One our favorite memories was of our 20th wedding anniversary when we went to Disney World without any children. It was an opportunity for us to really let our inner children out and have that sense that anything is possible. We went on many different rides and went to the various theme parks, thoroughly enjoying each of them. One of the ones that was especially enjoyable was Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park where memorable scenes from movies come to life before your very eyes. One movie that is definitely part of our childhoods is the Wizard of Oz and when we were in London several years ago, we even went to see a performance of Wicked in the West End Theatre District. So, when were in Disney World and saw scenes from the Wizard of Oz, it brought back wonderful memories from our childhood. It isn’t easy to take photos from a moving ride, but for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge of Sweet, we have chosen a few pictures that we took from that section of the ride. There were many other memorable sights during that ride, but these brought back a wonderful range of emotions.




Wicked Witch


Animated Characters


Follow the Yellow Brick Road


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Photographing Food

Like many people, we are always taking pictures of our food in restaurants and they usually turn out quite well, even though we just use our phones. Then we come home, recreate a recipe from someplace that we’ve traveled and take photos of the dish that we’ve created. We almost always dislike the pictures of our own dishes. We have read about different techniques from using a south facing window, how to plate the dish, color contrasts, etc., but still they just don’t seem to photograph well. Obviously, we don’t expect our food to necessarily look like it was prepared by a chef, we are only home-cooks and not classically trained.


Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding


Moroccan Chicken


Homemade Chili

We have heard that people don’t expect photographs of food to look perfect, like those from a magazine, and that a little messy can be just fine. No one has ever complained about our food pictures, other than ourselves, but we find that we are forever trying to improve at it. Maybe we are trying too hard, perhaps we should just sit down with our dinner and take a picture with our cell phone instead of taking them with our camera.


Herbed Cornish Game Hen with Pancetta


Roasted Lamb


Breaded Tilapia

If anyone out there has some great advice, we would love to hear it. Just like we aren’t professional cooks, we also aren’t professional photographers, so if there are some simple tips, we would love to hear it. Maybe we are just being too hard on ourselves, but want to continuously improve what we do. Do any of you struggle with taking photographs of food or anything else?


Pique Macho


Tender Duck Breast


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Images of the Amazon Jungle


Reflection on the River

Spending several days in the Amazon Jungle was one of the most interesting experiences we have ever enjoyed. There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t see something truly special, but at times we saw so much that it was overwhelming. If you can imagine, we took well over 1,000 photos while we were in the Amazon, so every time we go through our pictures, we remember something different about the trip. It almost seemed that every hour of the day, which started before dawn and lasted until after the sun would set, offered its own unique experience. Without these photos, we could never truly absorb all that we saw and the feelings that they invoked. Even with all of the pictures that we took, there were still a hundred other memories that couldn’t be photographed, but were still part of the experience. Hearing the howler monkeys in the pre-dawn hours, smelling the musky smell of the river, listening to the rain patter against the trees in the canopy, and the feel of the humid air that surrounded you at all times were all just as much a part of the adventure.


Sunset over the Jungle


Unique Bird Taking Flight


Flower Growing on a Tree


Butterfly on a Flower

Although there are were several specific excursions that we did with our nature guide, such as climbing above the rainforest canopy, seeing the parrots at the salt licks, and visiting a local indigenous tribe, there were moments in between that were just as memorable. For this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, anything with the letter Z, we have selected several photos that exemplify those unexpected surprises in the Amazon. Obviously, it is still just a sampling of what we saw during such an amazing trip.


Pretty Flowers in the Jungle


Indigenous Hut in the Jungle


Amazonian Tree


Colorful Tree from the River


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Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy


Close Up on the Fountain

The Piazza Navona is a famous square in Rome that was built on the site of an ancient, open space stadium from the 1st century. Today it is busy with local artists, restaurants and cafes, local residents, and tourists. With its large Egyptian obelisk, the Fountain of the Four Rivers demands attention in the center of piazza. The square was defined as a public space in the 15th century where it hosted the city market. Later, during the reign of the pontificate of Innocent X, the square became significant for its Baroque architecture with the focal point being his family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili.


Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Palace


Obelisk and the Bell Tower


Unique Statues

There are two other fountains in the square, one on the southern end of the square being the Fontana del Moro, which has four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta, and on the northern end is Fountain of Neptune. Even at night, the Fountain of the Four Rivers is beautiful to see as the basin is lit up to highlight the statues at the base of the obelisk. Crowds remain in the piazza well into the evening, especially on warmer nights. We stayed at a boutique hotel that was situated on the square, so we had wonderful views of the people enjoying the beautiful area.


Palace Dome


Fountain at Night


Beautiful Statues

If you enjoy people watching, then the piazza, with its outdoor cafes, is a perfect location for you. At one point, we even watched as a marching band of children marched passed the fountains. There are also street artists playing music and a variety of painters offering unique paintings of famous sites in Rome. During our time there, we always saw people sitting on the benches and eating a meal, however we chose to have a glass of wine at several of the locally owned restaurants.


Marching Band




Palace Bell Tower

Perhaps this square is not as well known as some other locations in Rome, but it is certainly a top place to visit when coming to the city. It was featured in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and several scenes from the film adaptation were filmed in the piazza. With all of the local restaurants in the surrounding streets as well as the square itself, it is a great place to spend a few hours and relax in the bustling city.


Another Statue


Fountain at Dusk from Our Room


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Touring Fortifications in Transylvania

If you get the opportunity to visit Transylvania in Romania, there is much more to see than the supposed castle of Dracula. Set in the hills of the Carpathian mountains, there are several peasant church fortifications as well as the Fortress in Rasnov.  We took a day tour out of Brasov and were able to visit these locations, although we weren’t able to get inside of the fortress in Rasnov. Seeing the churches that are surrounded by walls with rooms for the villagers to live in during a seige was truly quite fascinating and different than anything else that we saw in other parts of Europe.


Church in the Fortification in Prejmer


Fortification in Harman


Three Stories of Rooms

The first location that we visited was the fortified church in Prejmer, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the strongest church fortification in Transylvania. Apparently it was attacked about 50 times during its history, but only ever conquered a single time in 1611. Not only has it withstood the ravages of battle, it has also withstood the ravages of time as it is still looks the same today as it did hundreds of years ago dating back to when it was first built back in the early 13th century. If you are willing to walk the old wooden stairs and walkways, there are rooms showing what life would have been like for the peasants who took refuge there.


Prejmer Church


Room Replica


Inside of Prejmer Church

Our second stop was to the fortified church of Harman, which also dates back to the 13th century. It was, however, reinforced over the centuries, making it another resilient stronghold. Although time has taken its toll on the frescos of the church, enough remains to allow you to imagine what it must have been like during the days of its usage. There are also seven towers around the fortress walls, making it quite striking to see from the outside. We were there in the heart of winter and it was extremely cold, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying our time in the fortifications and churches. You can also climb to the top of the bell tower if you would like, but be sure to pay attention to the time as the bells still ring at the top of the hour.


Roof of Church in Harman


Bell Tower


Fortress Tower

The final stop on our tour was the Rasnov Fortress. This was meant to be the highlight of the day as it is a large fortress on top the hillside that remains in excellent condition. We should have known something was up when we arrived and the area where tourists had to park was mostly empty. We were told that we could take a little trolley up the steep hillside, but we decided to go ahead and walk. When we arrived at the top, we found that the ticket office was closed, but there was a security guard nearby, so we asked where we could get tickets. We were told that the fortress was closed as they were filming an “American movie” on the grounds and we weren’t even allowed to go any further than the entrance gate. We took a couple of photos and began walking down the hillside. As we walked the road, several large black SUV’s with tinted windows passed us as well as trucks filled with scaffolding and filming materials. We never did find out what movie was being shot or whether there might have been movie stars in those vehicles, but perhaps we will see the movie one day.


Rasnov Fortress


Rooms in the Harman Fortification


Exterior of the Prejmer Fortification

Despite the cold and the disappointment of not seeing Rasnov Fortress, it really was a very interesting day. The countryside of Transylvania has many different things to see, including the town of Brasov, which have a more tangible connection with real history rather than the myth of a vampire.


Another Room in Prejmer


Another Tower in Harman


Church Entrance in Prejmer


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