Colmar & Countryside

Today we went to Colmar. The initial plan was to go to the Eco Musee, but unfortunately it was closed. The famous Alsacienne storks were everywhere to be seen on its rooftops.

 

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Eco-Musee Alsace

From there were went to Colmar, mainly to see the statue of liberty replica

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From there, we took a slow drive back through past Masevaux and on to Bourbache-le-Haut

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The baby pine trees

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We stopped at the top of the road down to Bourbach-le-Haut, and took a short walk to view one of the war monuments.

 

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“To Our Dead”


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The view over the valley was breath-taking, even though we only appreciated it for a couple of minutes, due to the icy wind.

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Below us us lies the sleepy Bourbach-le-Haut, a town of some 300 people.

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This is the road we took a good 6 times while staying here. The Tour de France travels along this route.

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Bourbach-le-Haut nestled below

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The Castle & The Christmas Shop

 

The next day of our adventure was to the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle and the Christmas Shop

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The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle located above the village of Orschwiller

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The town is another tiny village, nestled in-between endless winelands

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We wound our way through the town, up to the Castle

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The Castle was built by Frédéric le Borgne, duke of Souabe and a member of the Hohenstaufens familyview more history

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It is cold and eerie inside the castle, you feel like you are back in the  12th Century, when the Castle was built.

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Throughout, small period windows allow you this astounding, breathtaking glimpse of what the duke saw on a daily basis

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After the Castle, we went down into Orshwiller for lunch, and ended up at The Hupsa Fannala

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It was a quaint place, the food slightly higher priced, but most delicious

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And from there, on to Riquewihr, in search of the Christmas Shop

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This was my favourite town of the trip

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The main street is only pedestrian (and delivery vehicle) access, the cobbled wonderland becomes from the start

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For those who prefer not to walk, the little tourist train will show and tell you around the fairy tale town

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Here, I found something I have never had before (and would not normally eat, should I not have been on holiday)

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Banana Sorbet !

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Made with real bananas, it was absolutely delicious, so much so that I hunted for it in every other place we went to, but did not find it

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We wandered through the village, taking in this surreal, movie-set like village

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The smell of mouth-watering treats, sweet & savoury capture every  sense

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Tourist and locals alike congregate in the the gorgeous winstubs (or wine rooms)

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Just one of of the boulangeries (bread-ery) / patissteries (bakery), its windows lined with multi-coloured macaroons

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Ha, and finally, the famous Christmas Shop

The Feerie de Noel is the main reason why this town holds the best memories for me.

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 The store is set up like many of the stores here, almost like a ride, one way in / out. And, as soon as you enter, it feels like you have climbed aboard the Polar Express

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As you venture further into the wonderland, you feel as if you have just woken up in the  Santa’s Factory, it really gives you that warm-and-fuzzy feeling.

No cameras inside – check it out here.













Pictographic – Masevaux

From Paris we journeyed aboard a train to Mulhouse, and from there hired a car and traveled to our home for 10 days, Bourbach-le-Haut

One of the nearby towns, the perfectly picturesque Masevaux

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The entire town is like a movie set, small quaint houses, shops and cobbled streets

In the town centre, is the Hostellerie Alsacienne.

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Everything about the place is fabulous; from the Star of David chairs, to silver cutlery, and mouth-watering meals; fantastic enough to warrant a second visit before leaving the region

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The above is the Trout Amande

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And the Duo de Poisson

The whole town is like a movie set

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The silence of the midday break shattered by our touristic presence

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The town hosts a variety of  activities, from flower contests and organ festivals,  to The Passion Play

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The flowers are not yet in full bloom, but still breathtaking.

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The midday day break is from 12:00 – 14:00 daily.

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You will find all shops closed, with only restaurants welcoming customers.

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We found this affected particularly the smaller towns.

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The spring flowers creep from behind the wood pile

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Almost everything one sees it photo-worthy

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Citizens are rewarded for beautiful gardens – Concours maisons fleuries

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A couple of weeks later and we would have seen even more glorious colours

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But all in all, Masevaux is easily one of the prettiest towns

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Adding to its appeal, is the surprising small number of tourists about town

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Exhilaration – The Eiffel Tower

After enjoying Opulence in the morning with mother, sister and I decided on a journey of exhilaration for the afternoon.

The industriously set of on foot for the Eiffel Tower, 6.3 kms away.

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This was just as we got the Seine, and yes, that is Starbucks in my hand

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We crossed over the Seine

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And found a small house boat of my namesake

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We just had to take a picture in from of the Bridge of  Love Locks

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When leaving the bridge, a most well positioned (what we call) rickshaw happened upon us

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We were more than happy to pay the €30, considering we had another 4.7 kms to walk (never mind the stairs up the Eiffel Tower) Our rickshaw driver even gave us a tour, he was from  Ukraine or Romania, most pleasant chap.

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And we made it. We queued for about 40 minutes in the line for the stairs to the first level. The queues for the elevator was astonishingly long.

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A few quick shots from the first level

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Then onward and upward  to second level  (click to take a 360 tour) via the stairs again

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We queued for about 50 minutes, the icy wind blowing fiercely.

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More second level

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Looking up to where the queue would take us. All those triangle things are lights that light up every evening at 10:00 pm when the Eiffel Tower closes.

There is quite a story behind these lights, find out here

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The Seine River stretching far in the distance

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The queue is rather tiresome, so they have these neat telescopes to amuse weary travelers

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Almost at the front of the queue…

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And finally, the top floor

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It is entirely faced in, so many a tourist stuck their lenses through, snapping away at the Notre Dame Cathedral (above)

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And at the  above Arc de Triomphe (undergoing maintenance)

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And above is the very very top of the exhilarating Eiffel Tower, which only staff can access

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Les Invalides, MusĂ©e de l’ArmĂ©e

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When we alighted the Eiffel Tower, we were rather spent. Thank you Lord there was a rickshaw literally right in front of us that look us as far as the Louvre Museum, leaving us about another 3 kms to walk back

Opulence – The Palace of Versaille

From April 29th to May 12 myself, mother and two sisters traveled to France.

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This is the first of my posts, Opulence, fitting, as on the morning of this day, 3o April 2014, we journeyed to see the (in)famous Chateau de Versaille

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Fortunately, we went with a tour, so we were able to skip the dreaded queues, which were horrendous, even out of season.

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Versaille was home to Louis XIV, also know as the Sun King.

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This is because he was so self centered. He even had all the rooms in the palace built centrally around his own room

The short little beds of the French are most odd. I heard, which I cannot verify, that back in the old days, the French were so fat, that sleeping lying down posed a danger to their health.

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They therefore used to sleep sitting up, or as upright as possible, shortening the beds so they could not be completely horizontal.

Like I said, I cannot substantiate this, nor find another viable explanation

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When the castle was built for Louis, the required fountains were not The Gardens are incredible and by far the most worthwhile of all the viewing.

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The gardens stretched for miles, and I would have walked or ran them all if not for our shuttle back to our Parisienne apartment

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What fascinates me is that men and women, dressed in appropriate 17h century garb, walked the same halls  wherein I moved and breathed

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I found the inside of the palace almost stiflingly opulent.

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Honestly, I could not wait to burst free into the gardens.

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The decadence is shown in magnificent paintings on the ceiling, causing many a tourist collision.

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Once outside, I could breath easy again

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God made beauty, outshines man’s feeble attempt to harness and manipulate it.

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The town of Versaille is one of the more well to do areas of Paris, about 30 minutes (depending on traffic) from the Champs-Elysee 

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When the fountains of Versaille were first built, to run them constantly was impractical due to the sheer volume required, and impossible with the limited engineering knowledge.

So, the estate merely hired enough staff to turn on each fountain as King Louis passed by until they figured out a more viable solution.

**Look Out for the next French Adventure**

*For detailed history of the Palace of Versaille, please visit their homepage

*Unfortunate many of the fountains were under construction at the time. April/May seems to be the time of year for construction in France, as we encountered at least 5 significant places with unsightly scaffolding enshrouding the fabulous architecture.

 

Sunrise over Sea – Another Fantastic Durban Sunrise

 Yes, another fabulous Durban Sunrise session this  yesterday morning.

Let me clarify about the title of my last post Durban Autumn Sunrise. I know it is not yet autumn in the southern hemisphere, but the crisp chill in the mornings  gives the impression of an early autumn.

THIS SUNRISE SESSION:

In the  hazy confusion of the predawn light, my focus falters, my lens afraid of the dark

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All is eerily quiet, the rays seem to be taking an eternity to break the horizon and flood the world with glory.

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Finally, the beginning of the end of the hazy, uncertain pre-dawn

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The break of a new day, all creation in its glory on display

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Silver lining, stalks, its the birth of a new day filled with promise

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The Woolly Neck Stalks and the cat are used are also out and about to watch His majesty grace this earth again, simply for us to enjoy

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No matter what circumstances occur, there will always be a sunrise.

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Something amazing and beautiful always emerges from even the darkest hour

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Something first dark, then serene and beautiful, turns into a powerful force

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The light of that power now touches everything it encounters

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All fear and confusion are conquered, all things working together for good, for beauty and for a new day

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Durban Beachfront Autumn Sunrise

I am fortunate enough to be blessed almost every morning by witnessing the amazing sunrise created for you and I.

Breathtaking sunrise

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The Surf next to the pier at Umgeni River Mouth

The Surf next to the pier at Umgeni River Mouth

Durban’s beautifully engineered, and fairly new, promenade sets the stage for this amazing grace.

From Blue Lagoon (umgenie River Mouth) looking South towards Durban Harbour

Durban Sunrise

Lonely Ship lurks out at sea

The two companies (of which I am aware) involved with phase 1 and phase 2 of the beachfront rehabilitation, namely Fountain Civil Engineering (phase 1) and Vumani Civils (phase 2) have done a fantastic job.

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Phase two, Umgeni River Mouth side

The Umgeni River Mouth

The Umgeni River Mouth

Comparing the promenade to photos dating back to 1930, the difference is phenomenal.

South towards Durban City

South towards Durban City

Shore Sand Dunes

Shore Sand Dunes

The White Elephant, Moses Mabida Stadium, sits majestically keeping watch over Durban City

Malaga, Malgrove, Malpark Residential flats

Malaga, Malgrove, Malpark Residential flats

Jetski in the surf

Jetski in the surf

The sun peeped out from the horizon, only to disappear again behind the cloud bank

Now you see it

Now you see it

Now you dont

Now you Don’t

Yet another majestic morning from our creator

 

Mt Moreland KZN – Barn Swallows & Legavaan Sighting

The weekend before my Cape Town Christmas trip, my friend and I went up to Mount Moreland, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

Mount Moreland is about 15 kms from Umhlanga, and is best known for its Barn Swallows.

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The public can view this awesome sight of the up to 3 million Barn Swallows descending on their roost.

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This initiative is courtesy of Mount Moreland Conservancy

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Visitors bring their own chairs, food, drinks, binoculars, and mosquito repellent.

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The roosting time is about half an hour before sunset, but we went on the trip for the serenity and quite of the landscape.

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A pathway leads from the top of the view point, down towards the marshlands

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I begin descending, the only sound the wind whistling and rustling through the cane fields

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The path rounds a bend, and a tunnel of foliage leads down to the marsh, igniting the imagination

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The sparse clouds provide little relief from the midday sun, I head back up the path.

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En route out of Mount Moreland, we crossed a bridge

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Stopped to take photos, my friend noticed a Legavaan (or Rock Monitor) in the road behind us in the road

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The Legavaan vanished as quickly as he had appeared, scampering back to the safety of the brush.

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Further along our route back to Umhlanga, we came across the Dust Pit Tavern.

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It is housed in a picturesque building, Cape Dutch style almost.

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The road home

Cape Town – Christmas 2013

As I do every year, I went to my hometown for Christmas.

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These are a few pics of the places my family and I visited.

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En route to Somerset West, on the N2, we passed Cape Town Studios (A rather windy day).

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They are currently doing a 16 week shoot for the series Black Sails.

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Some of their other recent projects include Max Max: Fury Road and Safe House.

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Hospital Bend interchange. Big Lions Head in the distance

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Devil’s Peak

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The back of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak from Ottery Road

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Kirstenbosch Gardens

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Cycad at Kirstenbosch Gardens

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Beautiful quiet stream

Peaceful shade and cool of the trees.

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A pathway opens the door to all sorts of wonderment as it leads mysteriously through the foliage

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Tadpoles thrive in the merry stream, creating hours of fun for kids and adults alike

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The rocks of the stream is God’s playground, children climbing, building and frolicking about. Families from all over gather on their picnic blankets in pockets of shade, most likely eating Christmas lunch left-overs, as we did.

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That same afternoon, Friday 27 December 2013, the rolling cloud seeped over Table Mountain.

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The temperature dropped with the onslaught of the cloud, a welcome relief.

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I thought o the families at Kirstenbosch, all breathing a sigh of relief in the shade of the cloud.

Sunset – Glenashley Beach, Durban, South Africa

Yesterday evening, after another perfect Sunday in Durban, South Africa, sunset at Glenashley Beach was a playground for the imagination.

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There were 18 vessels  to be seen on still waters, some full of cargo, others empty.

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As the sun sank below the horizon, the shadows of each ship seemed to be haunting the calm evening, like lost souls waiting to be ferried to another world.

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The windswept clouds mirrored mysterious shapes of unicorn, dragons and unearthly sea creatures.

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Another beautiful day in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa