Tag Archives: beauty

Today would be a good day to visit the Eiffel Tower

There are few buildings in the world more instantly recognisable, more iconic, than La tour Eiffel.

Day closer

It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter, day or night, twilight or sunset, it’s a beautiful place to visit.

Sunset

Seeing it on the horizon instantly reminds you that you are in Paris, with all the emotions and possibilities that city’s name conjures up.

Night distance twinkle

It is the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

Australie

And yet it was originally intended to be only a temporary structure after its design was criticised as a blight on the city’s skyline.

Night distance

It remains – 126 years later – as a testimony to the fact that we cannot always imagine what something will be until it is fully realised and appreciated over time.

View city

What do I love about the Eiffel Tower?

The views.

View Montparnasse

Oh, the views.

Night distance Louvre

The views of it …

Day distance Seine

… the views from it,

View Invalides 2

… the views through it,

View through close up

… and the views within it.

Night close up 2

The Eiffel Tower gives the opportunity to see Paris from so many different perspectives.

View Seine 3

To look down and watch the world go by.

View Seine night

To look around and see the other architectural delights of this incredible city.

View Arch

To look across and imagine the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in neighbourhoods on the horizon.

View Montmarte

What have I learned from the Eiffel Tower?

The tower, built for a World Fair, is named after its designer and so it reminds me of the limitless possibilities of human ingenuity and creativity.

Night closer

But at 324 metres, the Eiffel Tower is nowhere near the tallest structure in the world today, yet it continues to be the most visited. And so it reminds me that you don’t have to look like the biggest or the brightest to capture the world’s imagination.

Day close up 2

This structure has also witnessed history. For four years a Nazi flag flew at its top as the city was under occupation. Apparently Hitler ordered the tower to be destroyed in August 1944 but the order was defied and the French Tricolore raised again on August 25.

Plaque

Most of all, trying to capture this iconic structure in photographs is an exercise in looking at the same thing from different perspectives.

Night close up

Depending on the time of day (or year), where you are standing, and how you choose to tilt you head, it can look so recognisable and yet ever so slightly unique.

Sepia

Today it challenges me once again to consider how a small change in my perspective can help me to see things in a completely new way.

Day close up

And perhaps you too might be surprised by the beauty and imagination you can find when you look at even the most familiar things from a new angle.

Sunset 2

Beauty in the dry season (or, last Monday was a good day to be at Victoria Falls)

I have previously posted a Monday travel blog on Victoria Falls, with photos showing its full capacity and beauty at peak season, along with the abundance of rainbows dancing through the water both by day and night.

View from the Rainbow Bridge   July 2013 / December 2014
View from the Rainbow Bridge December 2014 / July 2013

Visiting Victoria Falls at the moment, at the end of a long, late dry season, is a very different experience. Some people even told us not to bother when we were in southern Africa last week. Because on the Zambian side of the falls there is hardly any water, and on the Zimbabwe side, perhaps 10% of the maximum flow.

Zambian side of Victoria Falls July 2013 / December 2014
Zambian side of Victoria Falls December 2014 / July 2013

But I’m very glad we still had the opportunity to visit. Because there is a unique and fascinating beauty in the dry season. It is different, but equally worthwhile.

Zam falls

 

The contours of the gorges become much clearer when there is no water to obscure them from view.

Zam falls 2

The colours of the water and the rocks are seen in a different light.

Looking back to Zim

 

From the air, you can get even closer for your bird’s eye view.*

Sideways air view

 

The dimensions of the place are easier to make out and understand.

Gorge close up

And of course there is still water rushing over about one quarter of the falls … and its scarcity makes the sight and feel of its cool spray even more precious.

Zim falls

Because there was less water and therefore less danger, we had access to lookouts that are closed most of the year round, giving unique perspectives closer to the falls.

Lookout

 

And for the really brave (or crazy) there was an opportunity to swim in places that are inaccessible most of the year round.

Devils pool

 

And I was reminded that there is beauty in the dry seasons of life too.

Close up falls

 

A Facebook friend commented on one of my photos asking if there was a drought. No, I replied, it’s just the dry season. It comes around every year. There is no expectation that the Falls will look the same year round.

Gorge view

 

It makes me wonder why so often we seem to expect that our lives will look the same as those of others around us. Just because we do not appear to have what they have does not mean we are in a drought. Whether it is relationships, money, jobs, status, experiences, lifestyle … it is too easy to judge ourselves and others by what we do not have. But we are in our own season and I wonder if we look closely whether we can see and celebrate the unique beauty of where we are right now.

Rockface

What others perceive as a lack may in fact be the very thing that provides us with unique opportunities or perspectives. It may be that we grow more, and we certainly grow differently, in different seasons.

Panorama

As just one example, I’m currently single and perhaps other people look at my life and think there is a “drought”! But this season has brought me all kinds of incredible opportunities to serve and learn and grow (and yes, travel) that might not have been possible had my circumstances been different.

River view

And I wonder if part of the secret to contentment is learning to appreciate the beauty of times that might at first glance appear “dry.” Because in the end, as a follower of Jesus, I truly believe I lack nothing because I have Christ. And so I can learn to be content whether I appear to have everything or to have nothing. And that’s the best kind of beauty of all.

Cataract view

 

* A very generous anonymous supporter of our mission team provided for us to have the incredible experience of flying over the Falls in a helicopter, which was a wonderful gift.