A Permanent Memorial and a Temporary Cathedral

 

 

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Some friends were asking about my New Zealand trip and what I had written earlier about the Christchurch earthquake. When I mentioned the “Cardboard Cathedral”, they wanted to know more. This temporary Cathedral building is on the site of Christchurch’s oldest Anglican Church, demolished after the earthquake. It replaced the original Christchurch Cathedral, still standing a few blocks away but awaiting demolition, too damaged by a whole series of earthquakes since 1864. Here is a link to more information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardboard_Cathedra

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Just across the road however, is a permanent open space where before Tuesday, 22 February 2011 stood the 7 story Canterbury TV building. In the less than 30 seconds nothing was standing except the wall with the lift shaft and 115 people, half the casualties of the city on the earthquake. Unlike most Christchurch building which were damages, like the 2 Cathedrals, t was relatively modern (1986) but an enquiry found it’s design deficient, it’s engineer inexperienced and under supervised and it should never have been approved causing it to collapse like pack of cards and catch fire. Amongst the dead were 70 foreign ESL students

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The NZ Government have acquired the site and set it aside as a permanent memorial to all the earthquake victims .

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Now to the temporary Cathedral. The renowned “catastrophe architect” Shuzeru Ban offered his services pro bono to plan and produce this as the first significant building erected after the earthquake – opened on 6 Aug 2013

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This A Frame Structure is made of 86 Cardboard tubes each weighing 500 kg, all supported on 8 six metre containers, which make up the walls

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This inside view shows the exposed ceiling structure of tubes. The Building is designed to be a performance space as well as church.

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The cardboard tube theme continues in the furnishings

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From Wikipedia “It rises 21 metres (69 ft) above the altar. Materials used include 60-centimetre (24 in)-diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel.[16] The roof is of polycarbon,[11] with eight shipping containers forming the walls. The foundation is concrete slab. The architect wanted the cardboard tubes to be the structural elements, but local manufacturers could not produce tubes thick enough and importing the cardboard was rejected.[12] The 96 tubes, reinforced with laminated wood beams, are “coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants” with two-inch gaps between them so that light can filter inside. Instead of a replacement rose window, the building has triangular pieces of stained glass.[17] The building serves as a conference venue as well as a cathedral.[4]“”

There has been a lot of controversy over this building. Partly the cost of about NZ$6,000,000 for a building with an expiry date of 35 years – the estimated time before the cardboard loses strength through water absorption. The other complication regards the question of whether to repair or replace Christchurch’s original Cathedral as the permanent city Anglican cathedral. The original dates from 1864 so has tremendous heritage value but is believed to be damaged beyond safe, economical limits to repair. This kind of question is still being asked about many buildings in the city of Christchurch, yet to be demolished in the hope that they can be restored.

Touring with a commercial bus company

One essential for a good bus trip is a great driver – not just competent behind the wheel but also calm, friendly and with a sense of humour. I nominate Alan!  He was standing in the car park near the Franz Josef Glacier walk indicating the way to the bus for the returning walkers. This was his response to my comment that he was the most animated road sign I had seen for a while.

Julie and I qualify as seasoned travellers – not in the number of trips or places we have been but in our forms of travel. In this order we have camped, caravaned, river cruised, railed and bused in Australia and overseas.

I’d like to consider what goes into making a good bus trip. When we have been travelling around Australia we have found short bus trips ideal ways to get places you can’t manage without 4 wheel drive car and driving experience. Examples of great 1 day trips were into the Bungle Bungles and from Broome to Cape Levique. Overseas we found bus tours, either the hop on/off kind with a recorded commentary or those led by a real guide are great introductions to a city. I prefer the second sort even though they are more expensive because you get the chance to interact with a real person.

We are now entering the 3rd week of a New Zealand Coach Tour with AAT Kings. We chose this because of the fabulous experience we had with a 11 day tour of Italy with Trafalgar had convinced us this was the least stressful,  most time efficient way to see a country in a short time, although certainly not the cheapest.



Another essential is a good Tour Director. Those who followed my blog through Europe might remember Barbara who was excellent. So is Vaille, here demonstrating one of his prime responsibilities – that of keeping us awake on the bus! An interesting commentary is essential, as is answering crazy questions in a credible manner, sorting out the schedule, being always polite to the passengers, staying calm when others aren’t and most importantly NOT LOSING LUGGAGE OR PASSENGERS.

Aside from the Driver and Director who are essential, these are some things that help make a tour successful.

  • Bus not too crowded – a few spare seats make a big difference.
  • A variety of travel companions who are friendly, flexible and prepared to help each other out.
  • A range of nationalities makes things more interesting.
  • So does a range of backgrounds such as work. A bus full of all school teachers (or whatever) would be bad!
  • Understanding the different needs of single people travelling as part of the group.
  • Some space in the schedule to separate and chill out.
  • Regular stops, not just for food and toilet but to do something and move.
  • This might seem inconsistent but Age differences do count. I have seen adult children travelling very successfully with a parent but most of my two coach tourists have been 50+ and I suspect that travellers younger that 40 would probably struggle to fit in.there are coach companies that specialise in young groups
  • Good weather helps.

Venice – a City of Boats and Bridges

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The city of Venice is made up of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piav Rivers. The city and the lagoon are listed as a World Heritage Site.

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Many tourists arrive in gigantic tour ships towed through the shallows by tug boats

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Gondalas are now mostly used for the tourist trade. We had an excellent look through many of the narrow canals and stopped to be serenaded and drink champagne to celebrate the occasion.

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Only one Bridge is covered, the Bridge of Tears which leads to the court room where many a Ventian was sentence to death.

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The local equivalent of a taxi took us for a cruise of the main canals.

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The local garbage boats are limited in their pickup schedule by the tides as are some of the “buses”.  At high tide they cannot get under the low bridges and have wait for the water to drop.

BoatsandBridges07The Aquatic equivalent of a bus and yes it is just as crowded in peak hour.

 

 

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BoatsandBridges05Behind the boat stop is Venice’s main link with the outside world is via the train station in the background which travels via bridge over the lagoon.

There are many other islands in the lagoon that are not part of Venice because they are not linked by bridge to the original 118 Islands.

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Traffic jam in the main canal.

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Deliveries by boat. The only artificial Island in the lagoon is a huge car park and docking area where daily hundreds of semi trailers are unload onto delivery boats like this one.

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Another boatload of workers head home.

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A wave from a taxi driver for our Tour Director Barbara.

A Last Look at Florence and Tuscany

Tuscany from the top of the Tower

Tuscany seen from the top of a tower. This image, made from six frames, covers about 270 degrees which explains why the horizon is curved.

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In an earlier post, more than two months ago while still in Italy, I commented on the relative size of David’s hands and was reminded of this by an artist friend, roddyewrecka, recently. Here is the proof, if you can raise your gaze to the hands!

This is one of two replicas of the David. This one overlooks the city from a large car park, the other is in the main square, while the original is in The Gallery of the Fine Arts.

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The Medici’s patronised contemporary artists and architects and collected great art works of antiquity.

Centuries of weathering and pollution of works and acts of vandalism of produce damage on these masterpieces.

In the factory above an original is repaired and cloned. The copy goes back outside while the original is kept safe in a museum or gallery.

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If you want a souvenir you can pretend it is great art.

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The architecture is impressive 

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Cars are tiny and in this case electric – check out the charger.

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A spot of local colour

Ravello – Looking Down on the Amalfi Coast

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One of our Days trips while staying in Maiori on the Amalfi Coast was a half day optional excursion to Ravello. It was an extremely foggy morning which made the trip in a large coach up the winding narrow mountain road more exciting than entertaining. The town itself is a Unesco listed World Heritage site with a beautiful church,  quaint streets and shops and the wonderful Villa Rufolfo with amazing gardens and views of the coast.

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Just Castles

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This blog post is completely out-of-order – in that you last read about Italy and now we are in mid Europe and 4 weeks later in our trip. I am not sure if my blog needs rationality but, since I haven’t posted for a week because I haven’t had time to write but I did have time to process photos for Julie’s photo album, here is a collection of Castles on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Castles can range from the ruins used by a Robber Barron to extensively refurbished occupied dwellings.

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ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThe view from high up in Český Krumlov Castle within the Czech Republic Image

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Homeward Bound – The Story Continues

In just over 24 hours we will be in Prague airport and a day later in Sydney, Australia. The journey finishes but the story goes on.

First though some pictures. Throughout our trip I have been taking candids of “Brides &Buskers”. The Brides started in Positano, Italy and I published that one. Since then I have seen some many brides, mostly Japanese,being photographed in incredible places. In Prague the two themes have intersected.

On the Charles Bridge, a stone bridge build in the 1400’s, crowded with pedestrians, artists, beggars, buskers and the occasional wedding party.

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Here we have concurrence, with the band in the foreground and the bride about to jump off the Bridge in the background. Perhaps it’s the music? Maybe she is tired of the photographer’s attentions? Or maybe the wedding was a mistake? Choose your own ending.

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Another Day, this time near the John Huss statue a Jazz group are really getting into it.

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A little girl gets up to join them in spontaneous dance.

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Next thing there is a bridal couple, who knows whether on their way to or from the alter, really showing some steps. Notice the little girl’s eyes! She knows when she has been upstaged.

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Now about the Blog. Thank you all my readers and especially those who have taken the time to comment, question or request. The trip might be finished but the story isn’t. I have taken many images that I haven’t even looked at and have many stories I would like to tell. At home i hope the memories will return and the stories emerge. I enjoy posting them and hope my readers will continue to follow. …. until the next trip. Please send me a message if you can.

My friends from the Italian Concerto trip. More than 5 weeks have passed. I hope to soon publish more photos of our time in Italy and make them available to you.