Sunday Special – Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Japan


Japan is a country that is on my bucket list and I hope to visit it in the near future. There is much to see in this small yet historic country.  Where to start? Let’s go with Kyoto. The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto is city of 1.5 million that is recognized for its beauty that is found in various places within its urban and ultramodern landscape.  One of those places pops up on my Instagram feed on a regular basis. It seems to me that Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is one of the cool kids on major travel accounts. Located at the base of a hill, it was constructed during the 8th century C.E. as a tribute to the gods of rice and sake. Within the area are numerous torii or gates that that create paths leading to the shrines. It is these brightly painted gates that appear stunningly on my Instagram feed. It’s not a wonder it has caught my eye and promptly made its way onto my every growing bucket list. But that is a what a traveler lives for, isn’t it. Couple these torii with the dramatic main gates, shrines, the numerous fox statues and I imagine I could easily meander the grounds for hours absorbing the artistry surrounding me.

fushimi_inari_shrine_e4bc8fe8a68be7a8b2e88db7e5a4a7e7a4be2_-_panoramio

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine’s main gate – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo Credit: Taken and owned by baggio4ever

baggio4ever [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

fushimi_inari-taisha_sembon-torii

Fushimi Inari-taisha torii path in Kyoto Japan – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

Sunday Special – Blue Mosque, Istanbul


Istanbul is an amazing city in my opinion. In fact, only Paris surpasses it as my favourite. I spent a mere four days there in 2015 however it has imprinted upon me a lasting impression of beauty and history.  Although there are numerous mosques in this city of nearly 15 million the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, or the “Blue Mosque” as it is commonly referred to by tourists, is the most well-known and recognized. Taking eight years to build (1609 – 1616 C.E.) by order of Sultan Ahmed I, it has five large domes and six minarets along with several smaller domes. Within its walls are thousands upon thousands of blue Iznik tiles which why it is referred to as ‘The Blue Mosque’. To this day it continues to serve as a mosque, allowing Muslims to come to prayer five times per day. At these times the mosque is closed to tourists and non-Muslims.  As this is a popular attraction do expect queues during visiting times. I recall long lines yet they moved quickly.  I was glad to know that I could take non-flash photos in this stunning example of Ottoman architecture. It really was fascinating to see. I look forward to when I return to the Blue Mosque and Istanbul with my sister at some point in the future.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

Within the mosque’s courtyard

The beautiful interior

Sunday Special – Florence, Italy


Florence, a city full of architecture, art, history, and culture. This capital city of the Tuscany region saw the dawn of the Renaissance period. It grew on the backdrop of trade, wealth, religion and the power of the Medici family. Today it is a tourist mecca and rightly so as many consider it one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. My first and only visit (to date) was a number of years ago. I recall the the incredible Duomo with its famous red dome, taking in the Ponte Vecchio, seeing stunning works of art at the Uffizi Gallery, and finally seeing Michaelangelo’s David at The Academia (arguably the world’s most stunning statue). Along with these world-renown sites Florence provides much more. Food, coffee, shops, street art, and gardens to picnic in are only a few things to take in. As I think about it, aside from the David I don’t think I appreciated what Florence had to offer as I was fairly young then. I think a do-over is on the horizon. 

11_fi_view1

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (a.k.a. Il Duomo), Florence – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – taken and owned by Warburg 

By Warburg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

italy_florence_ponte_vecchio_n_2

Ponte Vecchio, Florence – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – taken and owned by Rolf Sussbrich 

By Rolf Süssbrich (Self-photographed) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Korčula Island, Croatia


Croatia. This country is definitely on my bucket list. I do want to visit all of the former Yugoslav countries (I have been to three: Slovenia, Serbia, and Macedonia) so of course that includes Croatia. However, that is not the only reason I want to visit it. I understand it is a wonderfully beautiful country with much to see. Islands lie all alongside its Adriatic Coast providing a large number to choose from. Some are major resort locales while others run at a slower pace. Of the latter, one such island is Korčula (also the the name of the main city) in the southern area of Dalmatia. Beaches of course are bountiful with shorelines ranging from sandy to rocky and everything in between. A great way to unwind. Wineries and wine tours are not lacking on the sun-kissed isle. In fact, Korčula Island has some indigenous varietals such as grk and posip.  Many of the wineries have been producing wines for centuries. Additionally, there are stories that explorer Marco Polo was in fact born on this small island and the very house where he supposedly entered the world. I wonder what the Italians have to say about that? LOL.

Korcula

Korcula, Croatia – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Andrzej Wolinski 

Andrzej Wolinski [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

mesto_korcula2c_pohled_z_hradeb2

Town of Korcula – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Martin Broz 

By Martin Brož (Martin Brož’s camera) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

krajolici_korc48dula04593

Korcula countryside – are those grapes for wine? Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Anto 

By Anto (talk) 14:40, 7 October 2009 (UTC) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons