City on a Cliff

Just under two hours north of the populous tourist city of Fuengirola lies a city on the edge of a cliff.

Twisty roads that sit below mountaintop mansions bring you on a breathtaking journey to the summit of the region of Andalusia.

The town’s suburbs and industrial area would make you think that you’re in a typical uninteresting city, until you venture towards the far side of Ronda.

At it’s centrepiece stands one of the most impressive bridge structures that I have ever seen. Puente Neuvo took 35 years to build and was completed in 1793.

Standing at the edge of the cliff and looking down, I felt like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings. The sheer depth of the drop is hard to capture on camera.

Amazingly, there are old derelict houses built into the cliff face and dotted along the gorge’s deep basin.

The homes and apartments that line the cliff’s edge have balconies that are suspended out over the edge. If you drop something, it’s gone. I wouldn’t recommend these residences to somebody with a tendency to sleep walk.

The westerly facing cliff edge enjoys spectacular views of the valley below and the mountains in the distance.

On our drive back towards the coast, we were treated by a spectacular sunset that met us like a raging fire in the sky.

If you also suffer from cabin fever while staying at a holiday resort, rent a car and venture north. Andalusia’s rich history means that there is a mix of Celtic, Roman and Moorish influence to be found in the architecture of many of the region’s cities.


Vancouver, British Columbia

Some cities are far more than a collection of buildings. I know this seems like a strange comment to make, but very few cities truly have a spirit that’s immediately evident.

I can only list a handful of cities that exude an energy that you can only miss if you happen to enter the city limits in a box.

For a city of it’s size, Vancouver has a pace of life that feels almost village like. People just don’t seem to be in a rush. Perhaps it’s a combination of the famous Canadian friendliness and the Pacific Coast that dictates a pace that you would sooner expect on a sleepy Island.

The Vancouver Skyline as seen from Stanley Park

My first experience of this was on the Skytrain as we travelled from the Airport into the city. There was something very civilised about the experience, despite the busy time of the day.

When we took a bus later that day, I noticed that everybody thanked the bus driver, even if they exited from the back of the bus well out of earshot of the driver.

Seaplanes near Canada Place, Vancouver

The local geography with its network of islands and inlets has resulted in many seaplane companies operating out of the area. We didn’t avail of one of these trips, but it certainly seems like an interesting way to see South Western BC.

The Steam Clock at Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown is the original downtown core of what would later become known as Vancouver. Today the Steam Clock is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Perhaps the most striking and appealing thing about Vancouver is that even though you’re in a large city, you’re always surrounded by easy access to nature. From downtown you can see the snow capped mountains from virtually anywhere.

Stanley Park is by far one of the most impressive urban parks that I have ever encountered. As you venture down the harbour by the marina and into Stanley Park, it feels like you have left the city completely.

Stanley Park
Siwash Rock, Stanley Park
Squirrel in Stanley Park

A trip to Vancouver would be incomplete without making your way to the peak of Grouse Mountain. For the exercise addict, you can go on foot, or take the somewhat pricey cable car to the top.

Once at the top there’s a chance that you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views. I say chance, because Vancouver is known for clouds and rain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take photos of the breathtaking view that you would experience on a clear day.

Grouse Mountain is home to two Grizzly Bears that were rescued after becoming orphaned. This gives an opportunity to capture photographs of an animal that you don’t want to encounter at this distance in the wild.

As Vancouver is often the start and endpoint of a visit to BC, it’s well worth taking a few days to really appreciate the city.

Diamonds on the Beach

As we approached in our rented Renault Kangoo, which was our home for two weeks, a sea of floating icebergs came into view like a mirage.

Some sights are so awe inspiring that it just takes a little time to process what you’re actually looking at, much like when a child sees something for the first time and stares.

Jökulsárlón is located along Iceland’s Golden Circle, on the South East Coast of the island.

As chunks of ice make their way down the unpronounceable Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, they end up floating in a lagoon.

We arrived late in the afternoon and decided to camp beside the lagoon for the night. Due to the fact that it was June, we benefited from Midnight Sun which made us want to go for walks in the middle of the night.

It’s a strange sensation when 1am looks much like 1pm. At first this can be very disorienting for your sleep patterns, but it gives you much more time in your day to explore.

Late in the evening swarms of Arctic Terns, a bird native to the Arctic Circle, would gather overhead in search of fish, diving opportunistically between the icebergs.

At about 2am there was a slight change in lighting, but it looked more like 3pm on a winter’s evening rather than anything that resembled a sunset. Still, the change in light made for very dramatic effects as the sun hit the ice from a different angle.

There is a bridge located just down stream from the lagoon, making for perfect shelter from the cold arctic wind, while still providing an amazing vantage point for photography from underneath it.

Despite the fact that it was June when we visited, night time temperatures would hit 2 or 3 degrees Celsius.

Close to the bridge, the icebergs hit a dam of melting ice, breaking into even smaller pieces which eventually make their way down onto the beach.

Popularly known as ‘Diamond Beach’, it’s black sand is littered with chunks of ice that survive for surprisingly long periods of time thanks to low summer temperatures and the cold North Atlantic.

As I write these words, I realise that this article doesn’t even come close to doing the experience of actually being there justice. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing somewhere that your wildest dreams would have great difficulty to conjure.

Down by the shoreline, the waves crash into the ice, making for spectacular photo opportunities.

A six hour drive from Reykjavik, this wonder of the world is easily accessible and well worth the drive. In fact, visiting Iceland and not visiting Jökulsárlón should almost qualify as a criminal offence.

Of Convents and Gardens

London is often described as being a collection of small villages, each defined by it’s own unique character.

If this is true then my favourite of those villages is Covent Garden. Loved by both visitors and London residents alike, it’s streets are always full of life.

Any time I visit London I try to find an excuse to come here. In my opinion it’s home to some of London’s finest restaurants and most character rich pubs.

Crown & Anchor, Covent Garden

On frosty winter nights, the warm tones of the street lighting against the backdrop of the clear dark sky produce a cozy ambience that’s simply delightful.

King Street, Covent Garden

Covent Garden tube station can be very crowded, and the lift to street level can feel a little claustrophobic. If you feel up to it, the 193 step staircase is quite the experience. The alternative is to get off at Leicester Square station which is just a short walk away.

The area feels almost like a refuge from the rush of London life. Not because it’s not busy, it always is, but rather because the pace of life seems to decrease as you enter Covent Gaden.

“London opens to you like a novel itself…. It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand”

– Anna Quindlen

As you walk through the Covent Garden of today it’s hard to imagine that it was once an area that was rife with prostitution in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It’s far more famous for having been a fruit, vegetable and flower market. Long before that, in the 1500s, it was the vegetable garden of Westminster Abbey, then known as ‘Convent Garden’.

I frequently travel to London for business, and when I’m booked on a late flight home I can’t think of a nicer part of London to relax in after a long day of work.

Whatever your reason for visiting London, I would highly recommend a visit to Covent Garden.

Magnetic Streets

If you’ve been to Manhattan, you’ll likely understand what I mean by the phrase ‘Magnetic Streets’. There is an energy that draws you outside, no matter how tired you are or how late in the evening it is.

I’ve often arrived after an eight hour flight, tired and knowing full well that I should go to bed, but simply being unable to. For street photography enthusiasts there is never a boring moment. Even if you don’t like photography, you’ll want to sample the madness.

There are few places on earth where you really never know what you’ll hear or see while walking down the street. I really believe that this city will either feed you with energy or drive you crazy.

Even if you have no sense of direction, Manhattan’s grid like and sequentially numbered Avenues and Streets will make navigation simple. This rule starts to get fuzzy as you head further downtown, particularly south of the Flat Iron District. As you make your way further down towards Greenwich Village and Tribeca, the streets become more snake like and lose their logical ordering.

The Flat Iron Building

There are corners of Manhattan that are far removed from the skyscrapers and madness of Midtown. One of my favourite areas for street photography is Hell’s Kitchen. The moody lighting, small restaurants and stepped access apartments make for perfect photography conditions.

Restaurant Row, Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen
Restaurant Row, Hell’s Kitchen

There are moments when you look up to the sky at night in the city and instantly get transported to the scene of a Marvel Comic or a Batman movie. There’s something about how the bright lights interact with the clouds that paints a picture that simply oozes character.

I would highly recommend taking the Subway out to Brooklyn and walking back to Manhattan over the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Just before sunset is a particularly good time to do this as you’ll be rewarded by amazing views of the downtown Manhattan skyline with all the tones of the photography golden hour.

The bridge itself is well laid out in terms of pedestrian foot traffic and a dedicated cycling lane. Don’t wander over into the cycling section unless you want to be yelled at by one of the locals.

One World Trade Centre as seen from Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge with downtown Manhattan in the background

When the bridge ends you’ll find yourself in the wonderful Seaport District, a hidden gem that many visitors to NYC will never encounter. There are beautiful views of the bridge and many wonderful little streets that have a unique character that feels much more compact than what people would normally expect in Manhattan.

A cobbled street in the Seaport District, Manhattan
Brooklyn Bridge, looking out towards Brooklyn
Seaport District with the Financial District in the background

I personally like to stay away from Times Square, but it is a must for first time visitors. Locals tend to avoid it like the plague and as a regular visitor to NYC I can relate to that logic. Still, it won’t disappoint from a photography point of view.

Thompson Reuters Building, Times Square
NYPD Traffic Cops
Times Square

The towers of glass and concrete have the tendency to make you feel truly small, yet empower you at the same time. You can’t help but notice the opportunity, but also the other side of the coin, the harsh reality of not making it in NYC.

I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question

Dylan Thomas

West 42nd Street and 8th Avenue
Look at the traffic, not the stop sign
West 34th Street, with the iconic Empire State Building in the background

There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless

Simone Beauvoir

When you visit New York, don’t expect to get much sleep. My grandfather once told me that he visited The Big Apple as a young man with a group of his colleagues. Manhattan must have been very different back then, but what he told me still applies to this day. He said that there’s no need to sleep, you won’t want to and there’s plenty of time for that when you get back home.