Saturday, August 01, 2009

Faro de Maspalomas

On the southern most tip of Gran Canaria you find the third tallest lighthouse in Spain, the impressive Faro de Maspalomas. It is located on Europe's southern most tip (27°44'6.20" N and 15°35'56.20" E) and has guarded ships for 120 years.

Faro de Maspalomas is located on the southern most tip of Gran Canaria. The work to construct a lighthouse here started 1886 under Juan de León y Castillo and it was finished in 1890. Since then the 56 meter high has guarded ships travelling along the island's atlantic coast line.

In 1890 it was probably one of a few buildings here. Today it is located in the middle of a premier holiday destination. It is an impressive building, easily seen from many locations in Playa del Ingles. It is in fact the third tallest lighthouse in Spain. 2005 the old faro was declared as a "historical monument".

Visitors may climb up to the lamp of the lighthouse is worth all the effort, for the fantastic views of the sea and nearby Playa del Ingles.

Gran Canaria from A-Z

See map of the island and descriptions of hotels, restaurants, sights, and travel news here

Friday, July 31, 2009

Last supper for British Airways?

One of the flagships of modern aviation is in big trouble. In order to save money, British Airways will stop serving meals on flights less than 2 1/2 hours. Is this the last supper for this great airline?

I have had the joy of flying BA many times, but the last years I have stopped flying British Airways. The reason is not the food served on flights or not, but rather the fact that I will have to travel through one of London's chaotic airports, and in particular London Heathrow. I do not know whether this is the main reason why customers quit flying British Airways, but for me it is.

I am planning my annual trip to the US this September. When booking I have got favorable air fares, but using Heathrow as transit on my Transatlantic voyage is out of the question. I have ruled out both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic as airlines from Oslo to Boston for this reason. Even with 1 1/2 hour transit time, I have often experienced exhausting runs through several security checks on my way from one Heathrow terminal to another.

I think it is commendable that British Airways has kept its serving on short flights until now. On board Scandinavian Airlines travelers on regular economy would have had choose to purchase their meals on shorter flights for a long time. I do not think that has made any difference for travelers choosing this company or another, even though SAS is still struggling in the war of the skies. If this small detail will be the difference between life and death for BA, I agree with the management. Let the guests pay for their food instead. I would think it sad if this should be the last supper for this great airline.

On a British Airways flight from Boston to London in the year 2000, I was seated by a British woman that had been stranded in US for several days, from her US destination back to London and her cat. The reason? Fierce thunder storms had meant several cancellations of connection flights, not due to any danger, but in fear of law suits from passengers frightened of flying. I am not fond of flying myself, and as we hit severe turbulence on our way up, I got frightened and told her so. She looked at me defiantly and said:
"- This is British Airways, and we fly through this!"
Let us hope that this will sum up the determination of British Airays to stay afloat. But please - offer us that want to fly you better and more efficient airports as transit!! That would mean much more than a simple meal on short haul flights.

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See story: Sky Team Alliance deal makes Schiphol major hub for Norwegian travelers to the US

Taking part in the war of the skies? See what costs too look out for!

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons and Arpingstone)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The courtyards at Quai des Bathéliers

Strasbourg is an ancient city. As you walk through the central island, l’île, you pass through narrow passageways among old half timbered buildings. I found one of my architectural highlights at Quai des Bathéliers just over the river thirty years ago, and in May I went back to look for it, and found what I was looking for.

I have already told the story of my first encounter with old Strasbourg. I was, as a young high school pupil, very impressed by the atmosphere in the Alsatian capital.

What really impressed me then was one old back yard that I found at Quai des Batheliers, one of the streets following the Ill river. It was a 400 year old architectural gem, with wooden walkways on two levels. As I visited the city in 1986, I never went back to admire it, but tried last year, and did not find it. This May I was determined to find the old enclosed back yard that made such an impression on me back then.

I had no idea to look, and first I tried the Alsatian museum (above). It looked promising, and had a beautiful back yard, half timbered and with two walkways and with vines climbing along the dark wooden columns, but alas, it was not the right one.

Then I walked a little further down, and found a smaller and less intriguing gate. It revealed no courtyard, but a long, narrow street cutting through the quarter providing a short cut to the next street.

Passages like these are found in many other old cities. I found similar, and much larger and mysterious passageways in medieval Lyon. The "traboules" were passages for the silk weavers and were more tunnels than street and protected the precious fabrics from the elements.

Read more on Lyon's mysterious passageways here

But he who seeks will find. I peeked through a gate and found what I was looking for. A very long yard with long passages and beautiful rustic dark wood. I was suddenly back to 1979 and looked for a sign that I had seen back then, but I did not find it. I remember from then that a famous historic character had been connected to these buildings.

The court had been beautifully restored, it looked so much better now than 20 years ago. The wood had been cleaned and re-painted with tar. Sadly it was divided into two parts and the inner part was sealed off for visitors. I had to sneak up and take a shot through the gate.

It seemed to be part of an office complex. One of the wooden buildings was supported by beautiful stone corinthian columns.

I tried to look for inscriptions to date this complex, and I found one indication on what I think was an old well. On the stone top I could see what could be an old coat of arms , the top of a steering wheel over a star - and the year 1560.

So this building may go back 440 years or even beyond, back to the decades of the turbulent times of the reformation, where Strasbourg was on the front line.

I was so happy to have found the sight that left such a mark back then. Even though I know very little of these buildings, I loved them then and now.

If any know any more about these buildings, kindly let me know by leaving your remark to this article. I will add them to a revised edition of this article.

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