My Europe Trip #2 (Paris)

29 06 2011

It is easy to fall in love with Paris or ‘The City of Light’. For a first time visitor like yours truly, the city is everything a tourist can ask for. From famous landmarks to impressive architectural public buildings, Paris never ceases to amaze with its grand vistas. While the spectacular landscape can easily leave anyone in awe, the French capital has a lot more to offer.

1. Being France’s tallest and most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower is the international symbol of Paris. Standing at 324 meters high, the tower is built with 7,300 tonnes of iron and held together with 2.5 million rivets.

2. One of the most notable monument in Paris is the Palais Garnier which was built in the 19th century.

3. Paris boasts stunning architectural style. Known as art-nouveau architecture, buildings around the capital are truly a sight to behold.

4. The details on many of its public building are immaculate. One can literally stand right in front of any building admiring the attention to detail put onto its architecture.

5. Street side cafes are found everywhere in Paris. One doesn’t need to look far to find food around the city. For a set lunch costing € 10.50, our set meal came with a complimentary glass of tiramisu and cappuccino.

6. When it comes to food, Paris has everything from fast food restaurants to non-French cuisines such as pasta or spaghetti. In fact, foreign food is what Paris does better than other cities in the country.

7. Paris has 373 metro stations and there is always a station within 500m of wherever we were.

8. Although well connected, the Metro stations are in a deplorable state. Funky smells, badly lit stations and aging structures are commonly seen everywhere.

9. The Arc de Triomphe is the second most famous monument in Paris which was built in honour of those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary War.

10. A view of the spectacular city of Paris from the terrasse, the viewing platform of Arc de Triomphe which is 50m above ground.

11. The spiral staircase leading up the the terrase.

12. The inner walls of Arc de Triomphe shot from ground level.

13. The walls of the Arc is decorated with characters from the Roman mythology.

14. A candid shot of some locals shopping along the main district of Paris.

15. The biggest shopping mall in Paris is Galeries Lafayette. Established in 1893, this is France most famous department store. The interior architecture is magnificent with its dome looking like an eye from ground level at certain angle.

16. Another shot of the Galeries Lafayette at the foyer.

17. The Gare du Nord train station as seen beneath the glass roof starts operating from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. daily.

18. The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most visited site in Paris. The cathedral is the pinnacle of Gothic architecture which also inspires Victor Hugo’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ back in 1831.

19. It is interesting to note that the construction of the cathedral started in 1163 and took nearly 200 years to finish. Notre Dame measures 130m long, 48m wide and 35m high and can accommodate more than 6,000 worshipers.

20. The west facade of the cathedral features many statues to help illiterates understand the Old Testament stories, the Passion of Christ and the lives of the saints. These shots were taken using a long range lens from ground level.

21. A view of Notre Dame Cathedral from the south.

22. The west facade of the cathedral features sculpture of gargoyles.

23. A groom was seen helping the bride with her gown as she gets herself prepared for a wedding shoot in front of Notre Dame.

24. Two candid shots of bird around the cathedral.

25. A nearby building shot from the west facade of Notre Dame.

26. A view of Eiffel Tower from ground level. I used a wide angle lens to covey the width of the imposing structure.

27. A merry go round just across the street where the Eiffel Tower stood.

28. One can enjoy the many views of Paris by taking the river cruise along the Seine River. The 70 minutes cruise features commentary in both French and English.

29. Miniature Eiffel Towers are commonly sold at the street market as souvenir item.

30. Cheap perfumes at around € 10 per bottle are sold outside Galeries Lafayette.

31. Another sculpture seen along the main district of Paris.

32. A college student from Budapest, Hungary reading a book about Theology at Place du Trocadéro, a site facing the Eiffel Tower.

33. A street artist along the river bank sketching out a picture of a girl.

My Europe Trip #1 (London)

22 06 2011

For the first time, I embarked on a multi-country journey across Europe in a short two-week period, experiencing various cultures, people, landmarks, and of course, food. Most of the time, travelling within the various cities in Europe was on foot and occasionally via the underground Metro system. Getting around the cities wasn’t difficult as Europe has one of the best public transportation system.

Here are some of the random pictures that I took in the City of London, a metropolis filled with fascinating sites and vibrant cultures.

1. Originally designed as a temporary structure, the London Eye is now a permanent icon in the city. Towering at 135m tall, the Ferris wheel is London’s most distinctive landmarks. Here is a shot of the London Eye taken from the Westminster Bridge.

2. The cheapest way to get around London is via the underground tube. It starts from 5:30 a.m. to roughly 12:30 a.m. and convenient to use. While it can be rather congested during peak hours, most stations are relatively empty after 10:00 a.m. Here is a picture of the Bayswater station.

3. Covent Garden is one of London’s must-go place for shoppers. With tonnes of restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, street performers, and bazaar like market in the morning, the place is bustling with activities all day long. Key chains spelling out the city name come in all shapes and sizes are sold there.

4. The heart of the Covent Garden is the ‘Piazza’, which houses a large market with side bars, cafes and shop. Here is a typical scene of the place during morning.

5. Universally known as the ‘tube’, London underground transportation system is well connected with 14 different intersecting routes.

6. London underground stations are relatively cleaner and well maintained as compared to those in other Europe countries. Each station is brightly lit with ample directional signage to help tourists to get around places. The tube is the second largest Metro line in the world and reputedly the third busiest Metro system in the entire Europe.

7. Barclays’ bicycle for hire scheme is another popular mode of transportation in London. Simply pick any bicycle from the allocated docking station, ride it anywhere and park it for the next person to use. It is the one of the most convenient method for travelling around the city.

8. The Victoria memorial erected in front of the entrance of Buckingham Palace.

9. A street magician performing the classic Houdini trick at Covent Garden.

10. The interior view of Covent Garden with casual stalls selling jeweleries, gifts, antiques and other stuff.

11. Walking along the street in London is a sight to marvel with interesting mixture of small shops to huge ultra-modern shopping district and classical architectural buildings.

12. A candid shot of a man inside the tube.

13. The Admiralty Arch which links Trafalgar Square to the Buckingham Palace is another famous landmark in London.

14. One of the top attraction in London is the changing of the guard which takes place at Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. daily (from May to July) and on alternate days for the rest of the year. Here is a shot of a Grenadier Guard patrolling the grounds of Buckingham Palace before changing took place.

15. A Grenadier Guard standing at the entrance of palace providing sentry duty during the day.

16. A policeman keeping an eye of the crowd during the changing of the guard. We were told to keep a close eye at our bag and wallet as pickpockets are a common occurrence in crowded places.

17. Another policeman on horse was keeping a close watch at the crowd to ensure that everyone is standing within the boundaries when the foot soldiers were about to march in.

18. Foot soldiers marching in to the front gate at the beginning of the ceremony.

19. As the changing of the guard is one of the highlight when visiting London, throngs of tourists are seen outside the palace to witness the event.

20. Soldiers from the Line Infantry standing in line during the ceremony.

21. A tourist was seen reaching her hands out into the iron grills of the palace gates taking pictures of the ceremony.

22. Some additional shots of the changing of guard. While the event lasted only about 30 minutes, the entire ceremony was very elaborate.

23. Dining out in London is certainly not a problem with an abundant range of restaurants around. Prima Sapori D’ Italia located near to Covent Garden provides a decent range of italian dishes such as pasta and spaghetti.

24. This shot was taken at nearly 40,000 feet above sea level inside the Qatar Airways airplane during the flight from Doha to London.

25. A candid shot of a man walking along the street in London.

26. A group of tourists posing with a street performer, impersonating as the Queen.

27. A Chinese lady was seen preparing some dough in her shop at Chinatown.

28. Apart from the impressive architecture along the streets, the signages are equally appealing. Far from being an eyesore, these signages contribute to the aesthetic appearance of the city.

29. A guard mounted on the horse in front of the Household Cavalry Museum at Whitehall.

30. Another calvary guard standing by the entrance of the Museum.

31. A picture of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council building.

32. An imposing monument standing in front of the Buckingham Palace with the Victoria memorial in the background.

33. A monument of King George IV at the Trafalgar Square.

34. A policeman stationed in front of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister.

35. A pair of sunglasses resting on top of some reading materials at the Literature Museum.

36. An interior view of the buildings next to the River Thames.

37. An intricate design of lions and horses at the main gate of Buckingham Palace.

38. The Westminster Abbey standing at 225 feet tall boasting an impressive English Gothic design. This is also the famous church where Prince William and Kate Middleton were pronounced husband and wife. In fact, every monarch has been crowned in the Westminster Abbey.

39. A closer look at the intricate design at the entrance of the church.

40. A couple walking along the street leading down to the Buckingham Palace.

41. The Marble Arch which was originally built as a gateway to the Buckingham Palace was moved over to junction of Oxford Street and Edgware Road.

43. A candid shot of a woman walking past a Marks and Spencer outlet.

44. A walk along the Tower Bridge which leads over the Thames to East London. Many consider it to be the world’s most beautiful bridges.

45. A landscape shot of the Thames River with the shadow of the bridge resting on the murky water.

46. Another view of the Tower Bridge from afar.

47. The clock tower Big Ben which is located near to the Houses of Parliament as seen from the Westminster Station.

48. Incidentally, Big Ben actually refers to the 13-ton bell inside the tower which was named after Benjamin Hall and not the clock tower itself. In movies, ‘Big Ben’ has come to be a symbol of London as the famous icon has been featured over and over again in numerous movies.

49. A street performer impersonating Charlie Chaplin was seen along the street opposite of the clock tower.

50. A close view of Palace of Westminster, a royal residence for ceremonial purposes which is located next to the clock tower.

Shi Teng & Siew Mei Wedding

5 06 2011

A few months back, when I was told that there will be a wedding shoot in early June, I was totally clueless as to who the lucky couple was. That was until I arrived at Siew Mei’s house at 6:30 a.m. yesterday and started taking pictures of her wedding preparation. It was a super fun day, especially with the presence of bridesmaids and groomsmen trying to outwit each other during the morning wedding games. But the spotlight was definitely on the lovely couple as they waltz along the entire ceremony with such natural grace. Congratulations to Shi Teng and Siew Mei. It was a privilege for me to be part of your big wedding day.

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