A Moment in Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

I'm not sure yet how comfortable I am with doing nothing. My mind wanders too much as my thoughts turn inwards and I have to constantly bring myself back to the present.

Riomaggiore Itay

Here in Riomaggiore, I'm perched on an old stone wall overlooking the marina. The boats are stacked up waiting for summer adventure seekers but the sea is still far too choppy to take them out.

Cinqua Terre, Italy

The sun is shining and I'm sitting in a light cardigan. It is the warmest and most content I've been in ages. Every now and then the wind picks up and the waves crash against the great rocks of the small cove.

Riomaggiore Marina, Itay

Most of the time the rocks are an effective barrier although the wind carries light droplets of sea water up to me in my high vantage point. At other times, nature laughs in the face of such a feeble man-made obstruction and the sea comes rushing up the jetty, much to the amusement and surprise of the crowds relaxing there.

Riomaggiore La Spezia Liguria

I look up and notice pale brown and tan tiles on the face of one of the houses. I don't imagine that tiles would be very much use with the winds and rains that beat against these sea-facing homes. Riomaggiore is known for its colourful houses in shades of verde, marrone, rosa and arancione but I wonder if tiles weren't once more prevalent here?

Cinque Terra, Italy

I slowly raise my camera to my eyes and gaze through the viewfinder. Words can't do justice to my experience here and I wonder if photos might. I slowly pan the camera around, landing briefly on the boats in the marina, the couple on the balcony, the narrow stairs leading off into the darkness beside me. It is no use, I cannot capture the allure of this place, the sounds of chattering families or the roar of the sea.

I cannot capture the essence of the tall narrow homes, the way they climb the hills in terraces and the way the bright paint peels away to expose the concrete beneath. They are perfect in their imperfection and yet my camera doesn't see that.

Riomaggiore, La Spezia

Soon I must move. The shade has fallen over my perch and I'm getting cold. I move into the sun and sit next to a local cat, negotiating his teeth and claws before he allows me to scratch him behind his ears.

The crowd has thinned and suddenly I am alone. I realise that I am comfortable doing nothing after all as I pack away my camera and notebook and stare out to the sea for the longest time.

48 hours in Cinque Terre

First Look: Cinque Terre, Italy

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, ItalyMain street Riomaggiore

We spent a glorious long weekend in Cinque Terre over Easter for Jen’s birthday. Well, perhaps ‘glorious’ isn’t the right word. For the most part it was rainy and not all that warm but we had a wonderful time nonetheless.  It was really easy to get to Cinque Terre by train from Genoa airport and once there, it was easy to travel up and down the coast by train too.

It is no surprise that I fell in love with La Cinque Terre. I adored the distinctive puzzle piece houses built on terraces up the mountainside. The secret passages and hidden alleyways enchanted me, as did the coastal walks and breathtaking views. And the food? I’m still dreaming about the best seafood, pasta and gelato I have ever tasted.

The Cinque Terre is located in La Spezia province on the north western coast of Italy just below Milan. Translated as ‘The Five Lands’, Cinque Terre is made up of the five coastal towns of Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We definitely made the right choice – Riomaggiore was the best town and we enjoyed a day in Vernazza too.

This is a first look of my Instagram photos but have no fear, I took my camera along too and have some exciting posts planned!

   Cinqueterre, ItalyJust one of Riomaggiore's many secret passages

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, ItalyThe view of Riomaggiore from the Marina

Riomaggiore, Le Cinque TerreA narrow street in Riomaggiore

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, ItalyShop front in Vernazza

Vernazza, La Cinque Terre, ItalyVernazza

Alleyway, Riomaggiore, CinqueterreAn alleyway in Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, La Cinque Terre, La Spezia ProvinceHigh street Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, Cinque TerraTrattoria Via dell’amore Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre Last glance, Riomaggiore

Can you see why I fell in love? Which is your favourite photo? Mine is the second one with the lamp and the secret passage.

Portraits From Johannesburg

Johannesburg has so much to offer in terms of history, culture and entertainment but what makes this city outstanding is the people.  If you take the time to speak to them, you will find that Johannesburgers are friendly, helpful and above all else, curious.  These are my five favourite portraits from the time I spent in the city.

Security Guard in Braamfontein

Security Guard, Braamfontein

I’d read a couple of accounts of security guards chasing photographers away in Johannesburg but there was nothing of that sort here.  As we walked past this security guard, I caught his eye and greeted him.  This is considered good manners in South Africa as we don’t ignore people and pretend we don’t see them as is the European custom.  Naturally, he returned the greeting in that open and friendly South African way and we continued on our way.

Of course, he was quite curious as to why we were taking photographs and a little intrigued when we said that it was just for fun.  I asked if he would like me to take his photograph and he quite proudly agreed to pose.

The pin that he is wearing on the left is a ZCC badge.  That means that he belongs to the Zion Christian Church, one of the largest African initiated churches.

Car guard in Maboneng

Car Guard, Maboneng

It has been a long time since I’ve wanted to park a car in Johannesburg’s downtown, at least twenty years in fact, but that is precisely what we wanted to do when we visited the regeneration district in Maboneng. I rolled down the window and asked a man if there was a parking garage nearby and he contacted a colleague on his walkie-talkie. “Just drive down there”, he said pointing, “my friend there will look after you”.

And look after us he did.  This friendly car guard directed us into our spot and promised to look after the car for us while we explored The Maboneng Precinct.  We made sure to give him a very big tip when we got back to our car.

Once again, he was quite curious about the photographs I was taking and when I asked him if he would like me to take his photograph, he nodded and gave an emphatic “yes”.

Alternative in Braamfontein

Alternative Man, Braamfontein

This was the only photograph that I took in secret, without speaking to my subject first.  I thought I recognised this man and he surely would have run in the same circles as me, with his tight back jeans and Dr Martens boots.

I think he might have been working in one of the nearby shops because he didn’t seem to have anywhere better to be. 

It was strange that of all the people I encountered, it was this one that I was too shy to approach.  I thought this was a perfect moment to capture in monochrome.

Cool in Orlando

Cooler as Ekke, Orlando Towers

I hope I’ve managed to capture this vivacious, bubbly, confident young woman.  I’d met her a week before the day I took this photograph when I’d gone to Orlando Towers to enquire about doing the power swing.  “No”, she laughed, as if I’d asked the silliest question on earth, “there is no power today”. Cable theft is very common in South Africa but it is slightly ironic that it put the Orlando Towers out of action when you consider that these giant cooling towers were once part of the giant electricity power station in Soweto.

When I went back a week later to do the swing, she laughed at me again when I asked her exactly what it was that I was doing. “Do you really want to know?” she asked with the distinct tone of somebody who knows that some things are better left unsaid.

This young woman was infinitely cooler than me and immediately struck this pose when I asked if she wanted me to take her photograph.

(The title comes from a song by a local comedic rap artist Jack Parow, “Cooler As Ekke”).

Ladies in Braamfontein

Taking a Break, Braamfontein

While I was taking some photographs in an alley way in Braamfontein, these two ladies asked me if I wanted them to move. I explained that no, they were more than welcome to stay and that I would make sure I didn’t take photographs of them.  They carried on talking and smoking and I carried on photographing.

It wasn’t too long before their curiosity got the better of them though, and they asked, “why are you taking photos anyway?”. I explained once again that it was just for fun but that I have a blog.  I asked if they wanted me to take their photograph and they said yes.