Thessaloniki – Greece

Entrance to the tomb of Philip of Macedonia (click to enlarge)

Mid-January I spent a two days on a business trip to Thessaloniki. As I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I took the opportunity to go for a short walk to see some of the sights in town. Unfortunately the weather was not very pleasant. Cloud cover and a light drizzle. And all the historic sites were closed, so they could only be viewed from the outside. Nevertheless it was clear that Thessaloniki is a beautiful city with a long history and I should make an effort to return for a proper visit of all the historic sights and museums.

Arch of Roman Emperor Galerius (click to enlarge)Thessaloniki is a city dotted with landmarks as reminders of its long history. In the early 4th century AD Roman Emperor Galerius made the city to be the imperial capital. This lasted until the empire’s division in AD 395. Galerius left a number of monuments. There is the large ruins of the Palace of Galerius, but also the impressive Arch of Galerius which was erected in AD 303 to celebrate a victory over the Persians. It features beautiful sculptures depicting the battle. Then there is also the Rotunda of Galerius which was intended to become his mausoleum but instead was later turned into a Byzantine church and in to a mosque under the Ottoman rule.

Aga Sofia Church (click to enlarge)Thessaloniki is dotted with Byzantine churches. One of the most important ones is the Aga Sofia which dates from the 8th Century. Its heritage of churches also ensured it got listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Beautiful architecture (click to enlarge)The center of the city has plenty of remnants of French style architecture dating back to the early 20th century when the city was reconstructed after the 1917 fire that swept through.

Ossuary of King Philip (click to enlarge)About an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki one should visit the Royal Thombs of King Philip of Macedonia in Vergina. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The King was assassinated during the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra. The huge burial mound with the tombs inside has been turned into an exquisite museum showing the 4 tombs inside along with items that were found inside the tombs, each beautifully displayed in a show cases that let you see the items really up close, almost to the touch. The surrounding area also shows the ruins of the palace complex and the old capital. Unfortunately I only had time to visit the tombs.

Last Updated: 04-02-2015

Copyright © 2015 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved


De Panne

Beach hut  (click to enlarge)

Went to Belgium for autumn break and stayed in De Panne. It’s the last town at the Belgian west coast bordering France. You can actually see the port of Dunkirk in the far distance. We have been going to De Panne on holidays for over 20 years. The kids love the beach, the pancakes and the Belgian waffles … I love the walks along the waterline in crisp fresh windy autumn weather when the air smells of salty sea water.

A rather wide beach at low tide  (click to enlarge)De Panne has the widest beach of the entire Belgian coast line. Particularly when it is low tide the beach can stretch to a few hundred meters in width. Hence it provides for plenty of space for sun bathers in summer and for a lot of different types of recreation in winter like walking and jogging along the water line or horse riding, or sail cart competitions.

Leopold I  (click to enlarge)After Belgium had declared and been granted independance by the big powers of the 19th century the first King of Belgium, the German Leopold I of Saksen-Coburg first set foot on Belgian territory when he disembarked on the beach of De Panne on the 17th of July 1831, four days before his installation as King of Belgium on 21 July 1831. There is a large monument to commemorate this. De Panne also served as the base for King Albert I during WWI.

Sailing cart competitions   (click to enlarge)De Panne is the only location in Belgium where one can prcatice the sailing cart sport on the beach as only there is the beach wide enough. These carts can accelerate to really strong speeds with the slightest wind. They are a really beautiful sight.

WWII memorial  (click to enlarge)The beach in De Panne also functioned as a staging ground for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and French troops in 1940 after Germany invaded France and the allied troops had retretead to the port of Dunkirk and the surrounding beaches. A memorial at the beach today is testimony of De Panne’s contributions to this successful effort of saving the troops by repatriating them to England.

Dunes   (click to enlarge)De Panne has a large protected nature reserve consisting of a small remaining part of what historically was a huge area of sand dunes bordering the sea. It’s a beautiful and quiet oasis of tranquility and peace. It remains one of the key attractions of the seaside town.

Last Updated: 29-10-2014

Copyright © 2014 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved


The Colors of Autumn

Beautiful autumn colors  (click to enlarge)

I finally decided to get out of Bucharest to take some pictures. I had checked the weather forecast and I was looking for a sunny autumn morning to capture the colors of autumn. I decided to check out the area around the dam of Maneciu in the Valenii de Munte area north of Pitesti on the way to Brasov. I left Bucharest at 6 am to try to get to the area around sunrise to capture the warm light of the early morning glow. Being a Sunday and early morning there was hardly any traffic on the road, so I made good progess. Unfortunately once I got to Maneciu, the weather was not conducive to capture the beautiful mix of rich autumn colors. The hills were covered in a misty fog which the sun did not manage to penetrate. So I decided to continue driving up the road towards Sacele and Brasov. In the end it proved worth it and I was rewarded with the opportunity to capture beautiful autumn colors in Romania.

With fog veiled colors  (click to enlarge)Finally when approaching the picturesque village of Cheia in the valley of the Telejean river the sun broke through the misty morning fog. The early morning sun rays lit up the beautiful mixture of greens, yellows, reds, maroons of the leaves while leaving a vail of fog on some parts.

Valley and mountain top  (click to enlarge)After Chiea and before I started climbing the mountain on the winding roads we got a beautiful opening of the valley of the Telejean river showing the majestic mountains in the background with a colorful diplay of mutlicolored trees.

Vast Valley   (click to enlarge)After climbing the mountain on its winding road with its multiple hairpin bends snaking along the mountain side, we managed to get a glimpse of the beautiful valley beyond on the road down on the other side of the mountain.

Sun rays playing with the leaves  (click to enlarge)The early morning sunrays were penetrating the forest next to the road horizontally with its warn soft early morning light and lighting up the beautiful yellows and greens of the remaining tree leaves.

Last Updated: 12-10-2014

Copyright © 2014 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved