Saturday, October 30, 2010


Just a note on my blog in general to start this post. Everything I write in these are about what I have experienced. This can include tours, just my wanderings or things others told me while I was there. I do check some facts online to make sure I understood things correctly and so I am not misinforming the reader. I usually do a quick browse of wikepedia. I am usually surprised to see how accurate my memory is. I also only post my own pictures on here, with the exception of the pictures I am in. Those are taken by someone else with my camera (and it doesn't happen very often).

That brings me to this post. It takes place in The Vatican and is about Michelangelo and his famous paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As you can guess, taking pictures was forbidden and as usual people still took them. I did not. They were actually enforcing this however and yelling at people to put their cameras away. The pictures of the ceiling do add to the dynamic of this post, so I have found them and added them to this post

I had trouble finding the information the tour guy told me on line. That means he either had great information unknown to many people or that he is misinformed. He told us a lot about Michelangelo's life. What is well known about him is he sculpted statues. Unknown is that the first thing he ever painted, was also the first thing he painted on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. He was not a painter, in fact apparently a quote from him earlier in life compared painting to knitting, something only old ladies did. He was motivated to paint the walls of the chapel by rivals who said sculptors couldn't paint.

In order to understand Michelangelo's paintings, it is important to understand his use of symbolism and metaphors in his art work. A good example of this is the statue on the left he sculpted . He also didn't take criticism very well. A group of people were looking at the sculpture one day, openly criticizing it. They thought Mary looked too young to be holding a grown Jesus, surely she would have aged. They questioned who could have made such a sculpture as it had no name. Michelangelo was in the back of the group and these comments angered him.

He stood up, started yelling and approached the statue and started hammering into the statue. He hammered into it his name, and that was the last piece of art he had to ever put his name on. He was well known after that. As a result, it turns out that the dieing Christ in Mary's arm was a vision, she wasn't too young, Jesus was too old. In order to understand some of the Sistine pictures, you have to understand how abstract Michelangelo is at times.

Keeping all that in mind, we can take a look at few of the paintings Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the chapel. This is the most famous of the paintings, the creation of Adam. There is a lot of symbolism in this, way more than I remember or can accurately talk about. Michelangelo wasn't the most devout Catholic, in fact an argument can be made that he was quite the opposite. Michelangelo had studied anatomy. There is evidence of this if you look at the image of god sideways, with his legs pointed upwards it looks similar to a heart. This isn't a huge deal. The huge deal comes with the other anatomical similarity the picture has. It was illegal to dissect the brain during this time, yet if you compare this picture to a brain, the similarities are too close to say it is a coincidence. He clearly had dissected a human brain. You can be sure there was a deeper connection between the heart and brain that he was trying to make.

This next one is not as hard to interpret. This is the scene of the Garden of Eden just before Adam and Eve are banished for eating the forbidden fruit, the original sin. If you remember this story, Eve picks the fruit from the tree and gives it to Adam. In this painting however, it is Adam reaching for the fruit. Both of these Michelangelo paintings have disregarded either the Church ruling or the Church teaching.

The whole time he was painting these he was constantly arguing with the Pope of the time. They did not get a long and that was reflected in his work, either subtle or blatant. A blatant example is the bare behind of God in the scene where God creates the sun and moon. God is said to be 'mooning' the Pope as well.

The last picture I want to talk about is not found on the ceiling but on the main wall of the chapel. It is Judgment day, the resurrection of Jesus and the rest of the bodies. Jesus is the central figure of this painting. If you notice at his right foot is a figure holding a corpse. The tour guide said Jesus was condemning this figure to hell, and that this figure was supposed to be the Pope. In addition, the corpse in the Pope's hands is supposed to be Michelangelo himself. In his paintings he shows a lot of disregard for the Pope and church. But the paintings are astounding. To think, he never painted in his life!

The paintings of the Sistine Chapel itself, without the explanations provided would have been worth while regardless. The commentary provided an interesting and different way to look at the fantastic images the Chapel offers. Welcome to the Vatican.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Rome wasn't built in a day. It took years to all fall down as well.

There are ruins all over the city. It seemed to me you couldn't walk very far without seeing some structure falling down and preserved behind a gate because of it. This really gave you an idea of just how old this city is and how important it was.

The area around The Colosseum was filled with ruins. Not surprising, considering The Colosseum is in ruins itself. This was an important political area. Kate and I went on a small tour of the forums which were in ruins (surprised?). The tour guide was quite good, he was pretty funny and informative, especially considering he didn't have a lot of material to work with. A lot of his tour was about that crumbling piece over there used to...left a lot to the imagination.

What made the tour interesting were the tidbits of information he shared with us. For example, instead of bathing with water people of importance bathed with olive oil and sand. They would then scrape the sand off their bodies. This procedure would also strip the hair off their body, which created a distinction between the important people and the hairy barbarians. As a result, to this day we call someone who cuts our hair or shaves us a barber.

There were others as well. How a handshake in Rome showed trust. Usually a greeting was grabbing each others arms in case they had a knife, how a women could be kidnapped for the purpose of getting married and carried away from her family. This is why the groom now traditionally carries his bride over the threshold.

These are only some of the ruins. As I said, they can be found all over the city. They used to hold different types of riches, but those disappeared and ended up in The Vatican. The same tour guide also did tours in The Vatican, and we liked him enough we decided to give him a try for it, which will be the next post.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Colosseum

When we think of 'The Colosseum' we think of the amphitheater in the middle of Rome, although several were constructed throughout the Roman Empire. The one in Rome gets the distinction of 'The Colosseum' for a couple of reasons; size and location. It is the biggest as well as it is in what used to be the centre of the most important city in the world.

Several other things come to mind when I think of the Colosseum, some from previous conceptions and others learned while I did a tour of it. Last January I started watching with my brother 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand.' It was an amazing series, perhaps my favourite. Walking around The Colosseum had me constantly thinking of the series.

A lot of things, including expressions and actions, we do today have roots from the Roman empire. A great example of this is The Colosseum or as we call the modern ones, stadiums. While the events held in stadiums have expanded, they are still encircled by a mass amount of fans. Tickets also used to be issued to people based on social class. Tickets had an archway number on them and each archway also had a number on them. Does that sound similar to gate numbers at a baseball game?

I don't have a picture of the archway and it's numbers but I can assure you they are there. This is a view from ground level up at The Colosseum. The games that went on within were for entertainment as well as a means of political control over the people. Unlike sporting events today tickets were usually given out for free and a large portion of the city would attend.

This is an inside look with the entrance/exit gates on the right and the arena on the left.

A similar look with the top of the Colosseum in view.

A look through one of the arches at the arena within.

Kind of a sad picture as you can see the different parts along the top where pieces have been falling off and is in ruins. This is a common theme throughout Rome, former architecture's remains being preserved because of how old it is.

Another sad picture. As you can see several pieces of the ruins have been placed in the centre of the arena. A little disappointing that such an amazing place is no longer used for what it was intended for. The amphitheater I saw in France was actually still hosting events. I seemed to have skipped that portion of my France journey and will have to get back to it later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blast from the Past!

I met up with my friend Kate in Rome. Europe is the fourth continent I have been on and it also happens to be the fourth continent I have met Kate on.

I met Kate in Korea, in Daegu specifically where I lived for a year. She is Korean and that is her home town. We used to hang out with the same group of people. Towards the end of my time in Korea Kate left to do some traveling. She knew she would end up in Brisbane the following year at some point, which was the city I knew I would be studying education in. We promised to keep in touch and meet up in Brisbane when she arrived.

While in Korea I consistently spent time with the same group of people. We all finished our year contracts around the same time as well. Three of us, all from Ontario, decided to meet a fourth, who was from New York in his city. I had never been to New York so this was a great opportunity to see this famous city. Kate was living temporarily in San Francisco at this time and decided to join us for a day or so in New York. I plan to make a blog post about New York once I finish up Europe.

Once February hit I was off to Australia. Around May Kate arrived and we soon met up once again on continent number 3. She worked on a farm not too far from Brisbane, where I lived and came to visit every so often. I joked that we needed to visit each other on just a few more continents when she revealed her plan to visit Europe the following summer. At the time I had no idea if I would be able to find that opportunity, but the desire was certainly there, especially with the new European friends I had made.

And that brings us to Rome. We chose a place to eat to catch up before exploring some of the city together. The plan was to visit the Colosseum, so that is exactly what we did. I'll write specifically about the place in another post, but for now here are some pictures.

My first glimpse of 'The Colosseum.' In quotes because there are others around, this was the main, big one however.

Just inside the gates, meet Kate.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Romeward Bound

My short days within the Swiss Alps came to an end, far too soon. As you can tell by prior posts and pictures I quite enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere the Alps had to offer. I would have added another night at the mountain hostel had I not needed to meet my friend in Rome.

I did not book a hostel in Rome, so as soon as I got off the train I went to find an internet Cafe to look for a hostel. I found one just a short walk from the internet cafe, and it had a room free. I shared the room with some girls from Brazil and a girl from Mexico. The Mexican girl was very nice and told me about her time in Pisa and Florence. I had not intended on going to these places due to my limited time, but I was a little intrigued, perhaps I could figure out a way to fit it in.

By the time I got settled it was dinner time. I wandered around the streets and found some pizza. It was pretty cheap, but wasn't the greatest tasting. There were lots of places that sold slices of pizza however, so I tried another place. I still wasn't overly impressed, but it filled the void in my stomach.

I had no plans for the night and so I went to bed early, vowing to wake up early and do some exploring of the city before I was to meet my friend Kate. Below are some pictures I took before we met up:

This is a statue I found in a park not too far from the hostel I was staying at.

Not surprising to see architecture such as this in the city that houses the Pope.

This was the roof outside of one of the many churches of Rome. The sign on the door said no short shorts or dresses and no sleeveless shirts, both of which I was wearing so I couldn't go inside. It was good information to know as I figured the dress code at the Vatican would be just as strict.

This is a gate, no longer in use in order to be preserved.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Moving around Europe there are a couple options as far as places to stay while on a budget. One option is couch surfing. I never tried this, but I know several people who have. Basically people allow others registered to sleep on their couches, or where ever. I visited my friend in Rome while she was couch surfing and she had a pretty good set up. She even had a bed in his spare room. She didn't have many problems with it, although there may have been some she chose not to go to because she didn't feel safe.

As I said, I never tried couch surfing. Your other options would be to stay at hostels, or stay with friends. You are limited to where you have made friends for the latter option. As far as hostels goes, there are some good ones and bad ones. I was pretty lucky as far as hostels goes, ending up in some pretty good ones.

The best as far as what the hostel offers goes was called Wombats. It was the first I stayed at in Berlin. They provided a roof top bar which was great to socialize on and meet fellow travelers, a key part of traveling especially while alone. The rooms had lockers and provided locks for them as part of your nightly cost.

Each bed also had individual lights and outlets. This was great to help stop disrupting others when you come in at night and need to sort through your things. I think it was the only hostel I stayed at with this feature. I brought a flashlight with me, which was useful in the places without the individual lights. The only problem with this place compared to others that was in a sense lacking was you had to pay for the Internet on the computers. Others offered free Internet on their computers, however sometimes there weren't many computers and the computers weren't always the greatest. Wombats, as well as most others, had free WiFi, so if you had your own computer or a phone with WiFi you'd be okay.

Wombats also had hostels in Munich and Vienna. I never went to the one in Munich although I had intended to.

My favourite hostel however was the mountain hostel in Gimmelwald. As you can see from prior posts, the view was amazing. The atmosphere was relaxed and care free. I met a lot of really cool people in this hostel. Some were from upstate New York and others were from Arizona, and of course Canada. I talked a lot about baseball with some of the New Yorkers, one was a huge Red Sox fan while another was a Yankee fan.

On my final night there, a little disappointed due to the weather, I was just hanging out playing cards anticipating the next portion of my adventure in Rome. I was playing cards with a girl from Nova Scotia and a guy from Arizona. During one of our final games some more Canadians came in. They were a little louder and were pretty proud of being Canadian, nothing wrong with that.

They had two questions for everyone in the hostel, first if anyone knew how to play euchre and second if anyone had a deck of cards. I happened to have both and my deck of cards was a Canadian deck of cards. They quite enjoyed that aspect and insisted on getting me a beer and we played some euchre with a guy from Michigan.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hiking Plans

I didn't have a lot of time on the mountain, I spent 2 nights in the mountain hostel. That gave me the afternoon and the next day to do some hiking and explore the mountain. The very first day I went to the valley I mentioned in my first post about the Alps. I also walked around the town a little.

I wanted to try the via ferrata, a mix between hiking and actually climbing the mountain. I was told it was awesome, and scary. I also read a book about mountain climbing and have kind of wanted to give it a try. The via ferrata would be the perfect first step. I never took the opportunity to do it however. The full day I had on the mountain was full of rain. It rained hard on and off the whole day.

I also wanted to hike to the peak of the mountain that day and was determined not to let the rain stop me. But unfortunately the rain did stop me. I walked with a couple layers of clothing for about 15 minutes and just got soaked. So I returned to the hostel dried up and chilled while I let the rain let up (or at least hoped it would). With the rain, came even more clouds then the day before, so I couldn't even really take any good pictures.

What I ended up doing was hiking to the slightly bigger town of Murren to see what that town had to offer. This was around lunch time and I wanted to find somewhere to eat as well as check out the sport complex they had there. I found a nice hotel restaurant and grabbed a meal there. After lunch I found the athletic complex and took a swim and soak in the hot tub. It was nice and relaxing despite not doing anything productive in taking advantage of being in the mountain. I just now have reason to return to that area.

I checked what the cost of taking the cable car to the peak Schilthorn, famous for being in a James Bond movie, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service.' It was expensive to take the cable car to the peak, where there was no guarantee the view would be any good. In fact in all likelihood I would be in the midst of clouds.

Cloud Cover.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I took a cable car up the side of a mountain to stay at a mountain hostel in Gimmalwald, not to be confused with the bigger mountain settlement of Grindelwald. Gimmalwald has only 140 inhabitants. It is a very peaceful village, with a great view of the Swiss Alps. One of the mountain peaks within the view is the Jungfrau, one of the highest in Europe.

This was the view from the patio of the hostel. Breath taking! I did a lot of walking while there. Residents of the town had their lawn chairs sitting overlooking this. Can you imagine reading the morning and evening news paper to this view? Honestly just being in the mountain atmosphere made me feel care free and perfectly relaxed. I could have just hung out there forever. The weather while I was there was horrid and yet I still didn't care. I just loved the peaceful feeling it gave me on the inside.

While the town isn't very big, it takes quite a while to walk through it. It isn't organized into your typical streets. The streets have to slowly slant up because the whole village is on a hill. To get to the next town, Murren, you can hike for about an hour or so or you can take the cable car.

This is a view from the top of the town. The flags you can see in the middle are from the hostel, perhaps my favourite hostel of all the ones I visited. Maybe it just has the luck of being in the most relaxing of places I have been.

One of the higher peaks I could see, although I couldn't always see it. It was pretty cloudy and the clouds moved the mountain peaks in and out of sight.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Live from the Alps

*Opening note, the content of the blog was written while in the alps, the pictures taken while there but I am not currently there*

I am writing in a notebook while sitting on a rock. The only sounds i am hearing are coming from nature. The sound waves in the air are dominated by running water, with the faint hint of heavy falling water.

Looking straight up into the air I see what seems to be a moving fog. The cold breeze makes me shiver and contemplate putting on my hoodie.

The rock is sitting in Chilchbaum, what I assume to be a valley in the Swiss Alps. Looking up and ahead i am surrounded by mountains. There is a stream running right by me, and several others are running beside it. They all meet further down in the river I followed to get here. All the streams are coming from different parts of the mountains, trickling down the sides of them like miniature water falls.

I walked 2 hours from Gimmalwald to get here. Gimmalwald is a small mountain settlement of only 140 inhabitants.

Looking up I can't see the peaks of any of the mountains, just the fog of the moving clouds above. I feel so relaxed, so care free!

This is the view of the side of the mountain, you can see a couple different parts where the water is falling down the side. You can also see the beginning of the clouds.

More tricking miniature waterfall streams and cloud cover.

The view looking the other way. That is a stream eventually running into the river.

You can make out the peak of the mountain there peaking above the clouds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Long after leaving some friends behind in France then Denmark and Berlin, I had been traveling alone. In witzerland I had secured the opportunity to meet up with another housemate from Brisbane.

She was going to take me on a hike so I could see a portion of the Alps near her house, but it rained all day. Instead, we went to a couple of museums and a cheese factory. I also had the opportunity to have a couple dinners with her family as well as one with an aunt and cousin.

The museum was pretty interesting. It talked about the special ceremony they have when they march the cows up the mountain so they can graze on fresh mountain grass. People dress in costumes and the cows at the front of the line wear these massive bells. The museum also showed what the typical house looked liked as well as talked about another ceremony that was even more bizarre to me. It had more costumes and some yodeling.

At dinner we talked about a variety of things. Not surprising skiing is a very common activity that most people take part in. It is also a stereotype of Canadians that we all ski and snowboard. While traveling people have often been quite surprised to find out I have only ever skied twice. They don't realize it is more of a regional hobby and that I can ice skate and play hockey. During dinner that started a conversation. My friends father used to play hockey and Jonas Hiller, the goalie from the Anaheim Ducks, is from Herisau, the city they lived in.

I spent two nights with my friend and left early the 3rd day to go into the mountains and do some hiking, on my own once again.

This is Zurich, I roamed around this city a little before I caught the train to meet my friend.

This is the costume they wear when they march the cows up into the Alps.

This was the view from my friends balcony. It was beautiful just driving around as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sound of Music

During this trip I wanted to see as many countries as I could. That meant that being in Munich made it easy to do a day trip to Salzburg Austria, only an hour train ride away.

I did not know a whole lot about Salzburg and even less about Austria. Having four sisters however ensured that I had seen the movie Sound of Music and it took place in Salzburg. The first place I went from the train was to the garden right from the movie. It definitely reminded me of the movie.
I thought the garden was beautiful. Reminded me of Versaille. I thought about taking sometime and reading my newly purchased Diary of Anne Frank. Decided to wait and see if I had time later, there were other places to see, like Mozart's birth house.

Salzburg also has a famous chocolate cake, Sachertorte. I walked by the store that sold it and decided I must try a piece of my own. I ended up reading my book and eating the Sachertorte with a tea. I wasn't a big fan of it, but that is mostly because I am picky. I don't really like the
apricot jam that helps hold the layers together. It is also a Darker Chocolate which I am not particularly a fan of. I still think it looks really good though.
This is the view of Salzburg up near the castle. Those are the alps in the background, which is where my adventure went to next.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hall of Women

The Hofbrauhaus is a famous beer hall in Germany owned by the state that sells beer of the same name. It has a large history of serving beer. I never went in, I was told the beer there was over priced and instead I had a couple of liters of beer with my tour guide and other viewers at an outside beer garden instead. The tour guide always finished his tours there and as a result of bringing the owners continued business he usually only paid for every other beer.

It has a history of being state owned as well, being the drinking place of choice for German royalty. One of the royalty proclaimed that all women drink free, or at his expense.

This man was Konig Ludwig. He would then choose which lucky girl was to come home and sleep with him. When she woke up she would be shocked to see that Ludwig's personal artist was drawing her. The artist was instructed to ensure the lady looked good regardless of if the beer from the night before had changed what Ludwig's perception of good was.

The pictures were put up in a hall, known as the hall of women. Ludwig eventually married Therese. Before breakfast every morning Ludwig insisted Therese walk down the hall of women so that she could see how lucky she was that Ludwig married her out of all the women he had to choose from. I'm sure she only put up with it because the marriage would eventually make her queen.

On the left here is Ludwig. This picture was painted on the wall outside a museum along with all the other German royalty throughout the years. He was the most interesting so I took his picture to remember to share his story. As you can see in the picture he was King from 1825-1848. He married Therese in 1810. They had a huge wedding party with the normal for Bavaria mass amounts of beer. The party was such a success they decided to throw it again. It eventually became a yearly tradition and is still thrown to this day, better known now as oktoberfest.

This is a statue of Ludwig's father. It was supposed to be built life size to show he was on the same level as the people. It was made way to big and angered him. On his deathbed he asked Ludwig to ensure the statue be destroyed and certainly never displayed. In Ludwig's grief he did the opposite of his fathers death wish and the statue is still on display for everyone to see today.

This is a view of the Hofbrauhaus

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nazi Salute

Everyone knows what the Nazi salute is. On doing a tour in Munich this is what was said to us and an example of it was not given. This is as the guide explained because it is now a criminal offense to do the Nazi salute in Germany. You can be thrown into jail for up to three years. A foreigner will also be deported and banned from returning for several years as well as having 'Nazi Sympathizer' attached to their passport.

Obviously it wasn't always a criminal offense. In fact, during Hitler's reign at times it was a criminal offense to not do the salute. It was mandatory to do the salute in Munich when passing the Hitler statue and a failure to do it resulted in death.

Some people didn't want to die, but they also didn't want to support the Nazi party. The picture above is one of many subtle memorials found throughout the city of Munich. It represents a path people walked so they didn't walk by the statue and thus didn't have to do a Nazi salute. Unfortunately party members started noticing people walking the long way and realized what their reasons were. They were forced at gun point to go to the statue and do the salute or be shot.

I can't imagine what it would be like to live with such forced devotion. Our freedom is something we take for granted and something we should be grateful for.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I really enjoyed the city of Berlin, and also knew that it was a unique city. In that sense, I didn't feel I could get the exact picture of Germany from only staying there. As a result I decided to visit another German city, Munich.

It reminded me a lot of Prague, for a couple reasons. Number one was how great the beer was. They also sold it in large 1 litre glasses. There is nothing like having a beer in that size. Saves you from having to wait in line for the beer as much, although it also makes you have to urinate more often.

The next similarity to Prague is another clock, called the 2nd most overrated tourist attraction. It's the Glockenspiel. It acts out some royalty wedding, a jousting match as well as a dance commemorating the plague being over. It is called the Coopers dance and was ordered to be reenacted every seven years.

I liked the Prague clock better because beyond the corny dance displays, it at least tells you the different random information like the different stages of the moon and how the earth revolves around the sun.

Like other places in Europe, there were locations where buildings were being rebuilt or reconstructed due to the wars. Munich was certainly no different. There are also rules that encompass the city's love of beer. Everyone is entitled to two litres of beer a day, and can't get in trouble for having it during lunch break. As a result there are some poorly built structures within the city, including a rebuilt building where they forgot to put a door.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Red Light District

The Red Light District in Amsterdam was something else. As I mentioned in an earliar post I stumbled upon it quite by accident, although I did fully intend on going.

Despite it being early in the morning, it wasn't hard to figure out I was in there. My first clue was a sex shop on the corner, full of adult toys. This was also the first canal I ran across, so I was unaware of all the canals in the city so my first impression of the red light district also included the canals.

There were boats driving through the canals and bikes riding down the alleys, and otherwise absent from cars. There were also different types of sex stops on each side of the canal as well as live peep shows, adult viewing DVD rooms and so on. Of course, these are only the light aspects of the district. What it is famous for are the small apartments littered around the streets, down narrow alleys and everywhere in between. At the windows of these apartments there are neon red lights and girls in their underwear, displaying their goods for the legal profession of prostitution. During the day the lights didn't illuminate the streets and windows quite the same as at night.

There was also a very strong aroma on the streets. It had nothing to do with the red light district however, but with the coffee shops found all over the city. The smell is that of the drug cannabis, notoriously tolerated in The Netherlands. Coffee shops are a place you can purchase it from. They even have a menu for different types of cannabis available. You are also free to smoke it there however technically mixing it with tobacco is illegal as there are laws about smoking tobacco inside, none of these laws include cannabis. Coffee shops are not allowed to sell alcohol and cafes are not allowed to sell cannabis, so there is an obvious difference between the two.

I returned to the red light district several times throughout wandering through the city. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident as I had no idea where anything was until I secured a map. I enjoyed walking down the alleys seeing the girls in spite of having no overwhelming desire to purchase their services. It never got old seeing attractive girls motion for you to come see them or call you things like cutie.

Once night hit, the number of windows available increased and the neon lights illuminated the streets and alleys more. Obviously it was not allowed to take pictures of the girls in the windows.

This is a view of the red light district at night, without any of the women in the windows.