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Tramp Spotlight: Doorway to Santorini

It's Friday, and in the midst of a saturation of nostalgic hashtags on social media such as #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday, it seemed appropriate to post our first Tramp Spotlight for the year. It's where we go through our archives, pick out an image from our past adventures and reminisce about the time, place and what we experienced when taking the image.

I've been looking at some of the photos I have on my wall at home and thought I would post a #flashbackfriday to this image.... 


Late afternoon over the caldera of the Greek Island of Santorini

In 2009 I took a seven-week long trip around Europe taking in some of the amazing sights along the azure coastlines of Italy, Greece and Croatia. Santorini, a caldera-shaped island in the Aegean Sea, has been racked by a violent volcanic past. Today, it's one of the most visited islands in the Greek Islands with its beautiful lagoon and its white-washed villages perched precariously on the steep cliffs of the caldera.

Santorini's sunsets alone attract visitors to the island. Many guidebooks, as well as locals and travelers, will claim that it's the best sunset in the world. I live in Arizona, and the sunsets here are hard to beat. However, the sunsets in Santorini are definitely worth the trip to the island and certainly live up to the hype.

This particular image was captured while trying desperately to find an ideal spot to take in the sunset amongst the hordes of fellow dusk-inspired congregators. I was walking briskly when these doors caught my attention. I was immediately hooked by how they perfectly framed the view looking out to the lagoon basked in golden light. I waited a few seconds for the sailboat to align in the centre of the view and then pressed the shutter. It was a beautiful time of day and one of my favourite images from the trip.

Oh, and I did find a nice spot to watch the sunset. As the final speck of the blazing star descended below the horizon, a thunderous applause erupted over the village as Mother Nature proved she is by far the greatest entertainer of all.

Have a great weekend!

The Rugged Tramper: A Snowy, Superstitious New Year!


A crisp afternoon descends over the Superstition Mountains

What a way to bring in 2015 with snow in the desert! It's such a rare thing here in Arizona's Sonoran Desert.  New Years Eve was a chilly one. In fact, the thermometer was lower here than several cities in both Canada and the U.S that are known for their winter temperatures.  As it rained here on New Years Eve, the chill of the evening prefaced what was to come the following morning.  Upon waking on New Years Day, the peaks and foothills surrounding Metro Phoenix were blanketed with snow giving the feeling of a fresh start for the new year.

I decided to take a drive out to the eastern outskirts of the city to the fabled Superstition Mountains.  Whenever the rare event of snowfall occurs in the Valley of the Sun, the Superstitions are guaranteed to receive its share.  I also wanted to get out and do some hiking; a tradition I've carried out on New Years Day for many years.  It's an especially therapeutic, cleansing and rejuvenating feeling to get out into the wilderness on the first day of the year.


The warm glow of New Years Day over the Superstition Mountains

After a muddy drive into the trailhead of Peralta Canyon, I quickly ascended the switchbacking Bluff Springs Trail to a ridge that gave way to an expansive, majestic view of the inner network of desert and mountains of the Superstition Wilderness.  The late afternoon light cast deep shadows across the desert floor, which was covered with hundreds of iconic Saguaro cactii. The vastness of the scene made the towering Saguaros look more like a forest of toothpicks. The low angle of the winter sun made the surrounding peaks glow like a fiery furnace of jagged rocks.


The iconic Saguaro cactus and their twisted arms

Everything around me felt fresh and new with the recent snow.  There was a clean, crisp feel and smell in the air.  The only sound I could hear was the dripping of melted snow off the plants and the occasional heavier sound of a clump of snow breaking free from the clasp of a tree branch. The ground was wet and soggy and my footprints were the first of the new year on the trail. I came across a troop of backpackers making their way deeper into the wilderness to spend a few nights.  They all had a cheery disposition accompanied with an optimism in their step as they trekked out into the start of a new year.  I was immediately envious, although I hoped they were prepared for the cold nights ahead. 


A prickly pear cactus is surrounded with fresh snow fall

I decided to take in the immaculate view one last time before I turned around to go back to the trailhead.  I enjoyed the peacefulness around me. I also marveled at the fact that I was sitting in an environment that was perhaps feeling a little out of its comfort zone.  As I sat there on that pile of rocks on a crisp, fresh New Years Day, hope and optimism for the year ahead enveloped me, and I couldn't have felt any more comfortable.


The expansive, wintry Superstition Wilderness

Happy New Year from us here at Imagetramp!  2015 marks our third year and we're looking forward to bringing you more photography and travel stories.  Cheers!


The Rugged Tramper: Tom's Thumb Trail

It's the Autumn season here in Arizona and that means it's hiking season.  At least the 100 degree temperatures are now in the 'mild' 90's.  It's time for me to start getting out and being outdoor productive.  I thought I'd kick it off with a short foray into the McDowell Sonoran Preservation that sits within the Phoenix city limits.  The Preserve is a remarkable vision of conserving a tract of the Sonoran Desert that would otherwise be taken over by developers.  Now, there's over 120 miles of trails.

The trailhead for the Tom's Thumb Trail

The hike was around 4.5 miles round trip to the base of Tom's Thumb and back.  The trail began with a moderate ascent before sharply climbing 1,000 feet through a maze of granite boulders that resembled a cluster of marbles strewn all over the place.  The marble-shaped boulders are the result of eras of weathering and erosion.  Once upon a time, this part of Arizona was volcanically active.  Tom's Thumb itself, above 3,000 feet, is one of the more prominent granite formations in the area now popular with rock climbers.

Tom's Thumb

The desert is extremely lush at the moment.  The Valley of the Sun just received one of its wettest monsoon seasons on record.  Flowers were blooming and the cactus were full.  I passed a couple of hikers, one of which warned me of two Tarantulas on the trail, another, fresh from moving to Arizona from Illinois, witnessed a Diamondback Rattlesnake upon beginning her hike.  Welcome to Arizona! 

I took all of these photos with my iPhone.  I felt like travelling light today so I left my Nikon D700 at home.  I also captured this panorama with my iPhone from the base of Tom's Thumb looking to the north.

The view north from the base of Tom's Thumb

It was a great morning to get out and enjoy the desert, enjoy the amazing views and get some solitiude. To view my hike on my Garmin website, click here.  Thanks for stopping by!

Trail shadow

Secrets of London : Palace Underground

The Italianate brick design of the disused public subway at Crystal Palace Park.

Last weekend was Open House in London and I was lucky to win a coveted place in a public ballot to visit one of London's hidden secrets: The Crystal Palace Subway

Crystal Palace High level Station was opened in 1865 to serve the The Crystal Palace that was rebuilt in Sydenham, South London, after the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. The public subway was built in a grand style to lead passengers from the station to the park where they would enter the Victorian wonder.

The subway was used as an air raid shelter during WWII.

After the Palace burnt down in the 1930s the station was used less and less until it was eventually abandoned and it was closed in 1954, 60 years ago to the day of my visit. The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway help educate and maintain the history and relics of the local area.

I'm glad I got to see a little part of London's history, usually kept hidden. 

The Palace was so popular on fete days it once welcomed 100,000 children in a single day.

Enjoying The View

A cruise ship docks beside HMS Belfast, just across from The Tower of London

I have just added a new number one to the list of best observation decks in the world. 

The previous champion was Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center's observation deck, where New York City is laid out below in all its splendour.

Move over, Rock. London's The View from The Shard now wears the crown. 

The open air top deck lets the outside in

Visitors enjoying a drink, a sit down, or a photo op under the half moon

Perfectly located near London Bridge on the south bank of The Thames, Renzo Piano's Shard gives the best view of one of the world's most iconic cities (and all her icons), making them feel at once close to you, and close to each other. On one side of the deck you can look west and see The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben.

Twin sunsets over London, looking west from the Shard

Then walk around a little further and St Paul's Cathedral is just there, sitting proud, opposite The Tate Modern.

St Paul's Cathedral

Looking up from the 72nd floor

Further along you can almost reach out and grab The Walkie Talkie and The Gherkin and look down to see The Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. The towers of Canary Wharf are further to the east. 

Tracks from London Bridge rail station snake out to the South East and beyond while Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf light up the skyline 

Even for those who aren't fans of The Shard, it is pretty much now the only place in London where you can't see the damn thing. 

Highlights of Nîmes (part 1)

Low view of the temple with Norman Foster's modern Carré d'Art art gallery in the background. 

The Maison Carrée has been standing in the same spot, in various states of grandeur, for 2020 years. I love this stuff, it's one of my favourite things about travel. To walk in the same spaces and see the same things that people who lived 2000 years before I enjoyed my first beer is a joy that never gets old. 

Nîmes, in southern France, was once a Roman colony and I spent just two days there recently, enjoying the ancient monuments of the city and nearby. More posts to come from Nîmes with the Pont du Gard and the amphitheatre. 

View from in front of the doors to the temple looking along the streets of Nîmes

Detail of the ancient columns and restored ceiling.

Great Southern Land Sunset

While we wait for Ben to return from an epic trip to Nepal and Turkey I look back again to Australia at New Year's. 

Skene's Creek on the Great Ocean Road was where I camped with friends and rang in the new year.  At low tide the shoreline gives up the rock pool treasures and allows you to walk out in to the bay a ways until you almost feel like you're standing in the ocean.

Apollo Bay sits on the other side of the water just in front of the setting sun. 

Awesome Places: An Australian Classic

The Twelve Apostles (well, some of them).

In 2012 the most recent collapse left the remnants you can see in the foreground, leaving just eight of the limestone "apostle" stacks. 

But the relentless ebb and flow of The Southern Ocean is predicted to carve out new apostles in the future. 

This was taken on New Year's Eve on The Great Ocean Road, Victoria. A perfect day along the glorious rugged coastline of my home country.