I had not been to Nicaragua for about 8 years and A LOT has changed. The infrastructure has improved dramatically (better roads, more consistent power, etc), the government has stabilized (no protests this time), and the country has spent quite a bit to encourage tourism. The last time I visited, I stayed at Playa Montelimar (close to the capital of Managua)... and I did not see another surfer my entire trip. This time I went further south and stayed at Rancho Santana. It was a bumpy 3+ hour drive from the airport, but it was worth it! My adventurous parents flew down flew down with me and we stayed at an amazing villa called "Ventana a las Olas" (courtesy of Waterways). The villa was perched on top of a hill overlooking Playa Santana. We saw some of the most incredible sunsets from the patio and enjoyed delicious, freshly cooked meals every night (lobster, fresh fish, pork, steak, and even a Thanksgiving dinner!!!!).
The great thing about this part of the country is that the wind blows offshore for 300+ days of the year!.. and there were about 15 different surf spots within a 15 mile radius (I surfed about 6 of them). There is everything from hollow beach breaks, to rivermouths, to cobblestone reefs, to scary outer reef breaks. Something for everyone!
The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") de l'Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l'Étoile). The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. There is also a beautiful view of the city from the top of the monument.
Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. A United States postage stamp of 1945 shows the Arc de Triomphe in the background as victorious American troops march down the Champs-Élysées and U.S. airplanes fly overhead on 29 August 1944. After the interment of the Unknown Soldier, however, all military parades (including the aforementioned post-1919) have avoided marching through the actual arch. The route taken is up to the arch and then around its side, out of respect for the tomb and its symbolism. Both Hitler in 1940 and de Gaulle in 1944 observed this custom.
In this photo, you are looking at Les Deux Plateaux (more commonly known as the Colonnes de Buren). It is a highly controversial art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren in 1985–1986. It is located in the inner courtyard (Cour d'Honneur) of the Palais Royal in Paris, France. As described by the architectural writer Andrew Ayers, "Buren's work takes the form of a conceptual grid imposed on the courtyard, whose intersections are marked by candy-striped black-and-white columns of different heights poking up from the courtyard's floor like sticks of seaside rock. In one sense the installation can be read as an exploration of the perception and intellectual projection of space." The work replaced the courtyard's former parking lot and was designed to conceal ventilation shafts for an underground extension of the culture ministry's premises. Some of the columns extend below courtyard level and are surrounded by pools of water into which passersby toss coins. The project was the "brainchild" of the culture minister Jack Lang and elicited considerable controversy at the time. It was attacked for its cost and unsuitability to a historic landmark. Lang paid no attention to the orders of the Commission des Monuments Historiques, which objected to the plan. In retrospect Ayers has remarked: "Given the harmlessness of the result (deliberate — Buren wanted a monument that would not dominate), the fuss seems excessive, although the columns have proved not only expensive to install, but also to maintain.
More importantly... does anyone know what that thing might be on the bottom right of the image? I don't quite remember that being there when I took the photo.
These two photos were taken on the same day as I did a loop of the 7th arrondissement of Paris (first was taken after sunrise... and the second was taken just before sunset).
Batobus. The Batobus takes you to the heart of Paris, with stops at all of the main tourist sites (including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre). With 8 stops on the route, you see a different view of Paris and lets you travel around the city the way Parisians originally did. This shot was taking right after we passed the Pont Alexandre III bridge. The French flag was blowing in the warm summer breeze.
The hotel is noted for its architecture and its historical role during the German occupation of France in World War II. The war began in September 1939, and numerous refugees fled to Paris from conflict areas and places occupied by German forces. The Lutetia attempted to accommodate as many as possible. Because of its reputation, it was filled with a number of displaced artists and musicians. However, the French government evacuated Paris beginning June 14, 1940 and the Germans entered and occupied the city. A number of the Lutetia's residents escaped; others were captured by the Germans. The hotel itself was requisitioned by the Abwehr (counter-espionage), and used to house, feed, and entertain the officers in command of the occupation, such as Alfred Toepfer and the French collaborator Rudy de Mérode. When Paris was liberated in August 1944, the hotel was abandoned by German troops, and taken over by French and American forces. From then until after the end of the war, it was used as a repatriation center for prisoners of war, displaced persons, and returnees from the German concentration camps.