New Mosque, Istanbul

New Mosque, Istanbul

The New Mosque, or Yeni Cami, is one of the most famous architectural landmarks in Istanbul. Situated on the Golden Horn near the Galata Bridge, it sets an imposing yet calming backdrop to the vibrant Eminönü quarter. A paradox? Sure. Much of Istanbul is.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 398th straight, was snapped on 13 March 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.


Sarajevo Station

Sarajevo train station, July 2011

Sarajevo main station, 01 July 2011. The end of the line of a beautiful ride, delays be damned. Stops in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason helped put a real life definition on the Serbian word, vukojebina.

Bosnia & Hercegovina rail system info is here, and London to Sarajevo by train info here (via

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 396th straight, is for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, Symmetry.


Mannequin Monday #37

Mannequin Legs from Allo Robert in Menton, France

This week’s addition to the largest repository of blighted mannequins on the planet isn’t quite blighted, but something does seem to be missing.

I found this minimalist sitting room display in ‘Allo Robert‘, an antique shop in Menton, France, on 11 July 2011, probably my favorite on the French Riviera. I like it so much I still have a shop post card tucked away in a notebook.

If you’re new to this series, an attempt to construct the largest repository of blighted mannequins on the planet, you can and should catch up here. Enjoy and do spread the word.

By the way, this image also serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the 392nd (!!) straight. When you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can catch up with some of those here.



Portside Driving Warning Sign, Piran

Sign cautioning portside drivers in Piran Slovenia

You’ll find this sign along the portside road that winds its way into Piran, the small Slovenian Adriatic seaside town that lends its name to this site. I pulled it out of the archives for a request on Snapwire calling for unique street signs, “the less common the better”.

This one isn’t particularly common so it fits. And given the lack of any barriers along most of the seaside lane, and the occasional vehicle that finds itself on the wrong side of that edge, it’s a sign that’s necessary, too.

And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 384th (!) straight, was snapped on 23 May 2012 in Piran, Slovenia. You can check out the rest of my Snapwire stock image portfolio here.

Auschwitz-Birkenau: From Memory To History

Suitcases collected from inmates at Auschwitz

Suitcases collected from inmates at Auschwitz

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, one the planet’s largest cemeteries.

Some 300 survivors from Nazi Germany’s most notorious death camp gathered today in Oświęcim, the southern Polish city that served as the sprawling camp network’s setting, for a commemorative ceremony to honor the 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, who were systematically slaughtered there from 1941-45.

As Auschwitz and The Holocaust drift rapidly from memory to history, today’s will be the last milestone anniversary gathering for which a substantial number of former prisoners will be able to attend.

There’s no shortage of stories related to today’s anniversary, nor is there a dearth of first person traveler accounts. I posted briefly about my visit there last June and won’t add to the noise with any banal platitudes now – other have spoken and written about their experiences, analyzed the ‘lessons learned’ and implored ‘never again’ with far more eloquence than I’ll ever be capable of.

Just one example from today’s ceremony, via The Guardian:

In an eloquent address, 86-year-old Polish writer Halina Birenbaum, who was led to the podium by her grandson, described Auschwitz as a “bottomless pit of hell that I couldn’t get out of”, recalling her impressions as an 11 year old of the “grey bone faces with legs like sticks wearing muddy clogs, nothing reminding you of anything remotely human”.

She said that even if she could have, trying to forget her experience had never been an option, because “it’s only in my memory that can I be next to my loved ones”.

As I walked aimlessly across parts of the grassy 440 acre Birkenau complex last June, my thoughts weren’t with the dead, but mostly with those who survived, like Halina, or my grandfather Anton who lived to tell me tales of the two-and-a-half years he spent in Dachau.

I wondered about the fortitude needed to merely survive when so much of mankind’s barbaric cruelty is stacked so heavily against you. Maybe that that sort of fortitude and desire to live can be found is the only real lesson here.

Here are 23 photos taken in June 2014, my humble attempt at keeping one of the planet’s most heinous crimes on that cusp that separates memory from history for just a bit longer. Most are taken at the museum at Auschwitz I, the original camp, and some at Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, which was engineered specifically for extermination.

According to a recent poll, 20 percent of Germans under the age of 30 have never heard of Auschwitz.


Barbed wire fence at Auschwitz

Barbed wire fence at Auschwitz

Barbed wire fence, Auschwitz

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Seaside Tunnel, Cap D'ail, France

Moving Through The Shadows In Cap D’Ail

When this week’s request for a shadowy image came through via WordPress, I recalled this shot, one of several failed high ISO long exposures tests I took in early October 2012, soon after I bought my most recent camera.

This was taken near the entrance to a pedestrian tunnel along the Mediterranean coast in Cap D’Ail, a small town that sits on the French Riviera bordering Monaco to the west. I parked myself on a bench near the entrance and waited patiently for someone to pass by and through. The chance came when this shadowy ghost-like early evening runner jogged by.

It’s hardly a great shot, or even very good, but I liked the general tone. So it’s my Pic du Jour, the 361st (!!) straight.

ISO 2500

Belly dancer zills, Istanbul

For Sale, Belly Dancer Zills

Dancer not included.

The zills, aka finger cymbals, pictured here are the standard tourist fare version, with a single hole in the middle. If you’re serious, or even semi-serious about learning to belly dance and wanting to produce sound with the cymbals strapped to your fingers, don’t buy these. Because they’ll be almost impossible to control. There is a version with parallel slots in each cymbal. Buy those.

Consider yourself warned.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 358th straight, was taken in Istanbul on 12-Mar-2012. Snagging this one from its virtual pile reminded me that I have about 1,000 images from that visit to Istanbul that I haven’t even begun to edit, process or organize. If that was the only group of 1,000 that I needed to catch up with, life would be a dream. But it’s not, so drastic measures need to be taken.

The goal?

To cull that down to a gallery of 35, 40 tops. A spring cleaning project.

In the meantime, check out this post, Light In Babylon: An Istanbul Street Music Quickie, one of the most visited posts on Piran Café. It features four portraits of the Light in Babylon band members, available via a creative commons license. And links to some of their music, too. Enjoy!