Shot of the Day – Recycling Tires

Wandering around Osceola, Wisconsin, I came across this little gas station/tire repair shop that had groups of tires waiting for recycling…

Awesome that they are not just going into a landfill…

Happy Travels!

Photography as Art

Photos are available on Shutterstock and Alamy for any stock photos you may need…

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Sofia

One of the main destinations for tourists in Sofia, Bulgaria is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral … dsc_2216

It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world….

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Built between 1882 and 1912, it stands as one of the primary symbols of the citydsc_2464dsc_2225

A must see on your visit to Sofia..

Happy Travels!dsc_2134

 

 

1st Time – Minsk, Belarus

A new adventure in September…and the first time I have had to actually get a tourist visa for a place I am visiting … Belarus.

Since I don’t have photos yet, I thought I would outline the steps for getting a visa to Belarus. It’s not complicated but it is time consuming…

The outline below is mostly for people living in the USA but the same steps apply internationally with only a few modifications..

1. Passport 
A valid original passport  The passport must have at least two blank visa pages and be valid for at least 90 days after requested visa expiration date.
2. Invitation Letter
You will need an”invitation letter” ,of some kind, that outlines where you are staying and the dates you have reserved. Belorussian agencies are more than happy to do this for a fee, usually between 25-50 USD but you can do this on your own.  I made a reservation on booking.com and then e-mailed them and asked for a letter. They sent one by e-mail and it didn’t cost me anything and was perfectly acceptable to the Embassy. I also had an issue of accommodation pricing with the tour companies. They tended to be a lot higher than making my own reservation.
3. Application form (click to download)
The form must be completely filled out with no blank spaces must be left. If a question does not apply, type (or write) in “N/A”. If the answer is none, write “NONE”. Incomplete forms will be returned to the applicants UNPROCESSED.
4. Photograph
One photograph of the applicant should be attached (stapled or pasted) to the marked space at the upper right-hand corner of the application form.
The photograph must meet the following requirements:
  • taken within the last 6 months;
  • in color;
  • professionally printed in high quality on photo paper;
  • 45 mm high by 35 mm wide;
  • in sharp focus and clear;
  • taken on plain, light and evenly lit background;
  • taken in full-face view directly facing the camera;
  • with a neutral facial expression and both eyes open;
  • with no shadows, glare, noise or distortion on the image or background;
  • sized such that the face takes 70–80% of the photograph;
  • with no ink marks, tears or creases;
  • must not be retouched.
5. Insurance
You also have to show insurance that is valid in Belarus. You must have 10,000 USD in coverage and your insurance paperwork must be “International” or “World-Wide” and presented on company letterhead showing name of company, phone number, policy number and limits of coverage. I found that this was the most difficult document to acquire.
6. Envelope
If you are able to apply by mail, you should enclose a self-addressed and stamped return envelope showing yourself as both shipper and recipient. To prevent the envelope loss make sure that your envelope has a tracking number. (They don’t ship by Fed-Ex, by the way) If you live outside the USA, you actually have to apply in person at the Embassy or consulate.
7. Payment
A money order or a cashier’s check for visa processing payable to the Embassy of Belarus in the U.S. or Consulate General of Belarus in New York (depending on where you apply). They do not accept cash or personal checks. Outside the US, payment is made in cash, usually in the country of residences currency or Euros. In my case, it was Russian rubles…
Visa fees are calculated by the Tax Code of the Republic of Belarus. The visa fees are recalculated regularly based on the current exchange rate and can be changed without a notice. Make sure to check the check the schedule of the consular fees  before submitting a visa request.
Is a trip to Minsk and Belarus worth the effort?  I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.. 🙂
Happy Travels!

2014 Favorites – Cities

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15 countries….21 Cities..  Since my New Year’s resolution in January of 2014 was to visit a new country every month, I can happily say “Mission Accomplished”.. But where do those trips rate?  This is difficult because every trip was awesome.. it just so happens that some places ranked higher on the awesomeness scale..

Athens from Acropolis

                                                     Athens from Acropolis

We started off the year going to Greece.. followed by Cyprus, Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Sweden, Romania, Poland, Latvia / Estonia, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy… Unfortunately Croatia (at the end of the week) will miss this years cut..

This is where it gets difficult..

#1 – Stockholm, Sweden    <— Past Posts from Stockholm

There are a couple reasons I chose Stockholm..

City Hall DSC_0074

 

The photographic opportunities were amazing.. The city, itself, while being a walking friendly place, has an impressive public transportation system.

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Stockholm is the definition of New Age technology meets Old World charm..

#2  Barcelona, Spain  <– Past Posts from Barcelona

For me, the difference between Barcelona and Stockholm, as a tourist, is negligible. Good food..good people and a wonderful year-round climate, makes it a great city to visit.

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#3  Riga, Latvia   and   Tallinn, Estonia   < —- Past Posts from Riga and Tallinn

What a wonderful trip this was…Able to see two world class UNESCO site filled cities in one 5 day trip.. Needless to say, modern amenities and old world architecture make this an easy choice..

Riga

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Tallinn

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So there are the top 3 from last year…although technically it is 4…

Now the Not Best trip…

Larnaca, Cyprus

To be honest.. it was a good trip. Not one of the best, but a lot of that was my fault for planning a trip in the really really OFF season

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Beautiful scenery..interesting city..but almost no people..and no people meant almost everything was closed for the season.. It was difficult to even find a place to eat..  I will return to Cyprus on another trip..during a different time.. who knows, maybe it will move up the list..

Happy Travels!!

Photography as Art

 

2014 Favorites _ Prelude

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As the New Year approaches, we all have a tendency to look back at the past year and reflect  … and when the new year rings in, I will have completed one of my goals for the year..

 

12 months … 15 countries …21 cities..

That doesn’t include the trips to explore Ukraine, where I currently live…

Arch at Night

 

Over the next few days, I will the best and the not-best of this year long adventure… I can’t say “worst” because as a bastardization of a common saying goes –

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The worst day traveling beats the best day working…

 

 

Tomorrow – Best and Not Best City ….

Happy Travels!!

 

 

 

Florence – 1st Things First

My friends invariably ask me 2 questions… Where are you going this month? and What do you do first? The answer to the first question changes every month… The answer to the second, however, is always the same…

Just wander.. roam..explore with no destination in mind…

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Up and down the side streets, in and out of alleys…

Cold Drinks Early Evening Stars

 

Early evening … lights just beginning to come on… the streets in Florence were strangely empty of people… even the Piazza di Duomo

1st Look - Bell Tower Details-Duomo

 

Maybe because it was late November.. maybe because it had just stopped raining..  It was peaceful.. quiet..and very pretty.

Well Lit Scooters on a Narrow Street Cold Drinks River Scene

 

A great 1st night..

Happy Travels!

Photography as Art                         Fine Art America