Tag Archives: Shanghai

Cross That Bridge: Ten Favorites

Golden Gate, San Francisco (photo by Sally Reeder)

Because people need to live near a water supply, we also tend to live near bridges.  Chances are you’re within a few kilometers of a bridge right now, unless you are currently trekking in the Gobi Desert and have paused to surf the Web.

Most bridges go unnoticed because they merely do their job of conveying traffic over water, but there are some that do catch our eye; some are even tourist attractions in their own right.  What follows is a list of ten of my favorites.  These are not chosen for the feats of engineering that brought them into existence, but mainly because I find them aesthetically pleasing.

10.  Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai — The distinctive feature of this bridge is its spiral approach, which corkscrews up to great views along the Huangpu River, especially at night.

9.  Seven Mile Bridge, Florida — This ribbon of concrete and steel connects some of the Florida Keys as part of the so-called Overseas Highway.  As the name suggests, one’s car travels quite a distance over water.

8.  Old Bridge, Heidelberg, Germany — A low stone bridge that spans the Neckar River (a tributary of the Rhine), it affords views of Heidelberg Castle and the picturesque Old Town.  Although there have been bridges on this site since the 13th century, the current Old Bridge isn’t very old; it was restored following World War II.

7.  Brooklyn Bridge, New York — The familiar gothic arches span the East River, connecting lower Manhattan and the borough of Brooklyn.  It is counter to the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  The GW has its admirers, but I prefer the comfortable-old-boots look of the Brooklyn.

6.  Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), Prague — This pedestrian bridge is adorned with statues of saints, some dating back to the 17th century.  During the day, Charles Bridge is lively with street musicians and artisans selling their stuff; at night lovers stroll the bridge holding hands (and bottles).

5.  Ponte Vecchio, Florence — When it was built in the 1300s, shops and houses were incorporated into the structure.  Once these were butcher shops; the bridge is now basically a mall of jewelry stores.  Personally, I prefer seeing the beautiful Ponte Vecchio from the banks of the Arno River rather than walking on the bridge itself.

4.  Harbor Bridge, Sydney — The entire harbor has great views in every direction; it’s worth a walk out onto the bridge to take in the nearby Opera House and surroundings.

3.  Tower Bridge, London — Some people mistakenly think this distinctive bridge is London Bridge.  It’s called Tower Bridge because of its proximity to the Tower of London.  This bridge is a landmark; London Bridge, just up the Thames, is relatively forgettable.

2.  Pont Alexandre III, Paris — Decorated with bronze lamps and statuary from La Belle Époque, this bridge is a great vantage point from which to marvel at the Eiffel Tower and all of central Paris.

1.  Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco — It’s painted that distinctive orange color partly to keep ships from slamming into it on foggy days.  When the visibility is good, however, the bridge and the bay and the hilly landscape are components of the most gorgeous urban setting in the United States.

There are lots of other great bridges, of course, like Lion’s Gate in Vancouver and the Rialto in Venice, but these are my favorites (as of today).   What else belongs on the list?  What would be your top pick?

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Let’s Go Back

Big Sur, California

Depending where you choose to go, travel can offer the thrill of someplace new, or the contentment of someplace familiar.  My friend David much preferred the latter:  He did a lot of traveling, but most of it was to either Venice or London.

Occasionally he could be cajoled into going elsewhere, but he always wanted to get back to his favorites.  He once told us that he’d stopped counting how many times he had been to Venice after his 27th visit.  So far, I’m still stuck on one.

Unlike David, my inclination is to go somewhere I haven’t been before, since there are so many wonderful places to see.  On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate to have seen many wonderful places already, and I’d love to see some of them again — you, too? 

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have unlimited time and money, so when an opportunity to travel does come along and we ask ourselves “where shall we go?”, we have to pick either a new adventure or an old favorite.  Which, I acknowledge, is a nice problem to have.

Places like Copenhagen and Angkor and the Amazon River remain on my wish list of future adventures, but my wish list for return visits includes…

     •  Paris embraces me; its boulevards and museums and sidewalk cafés reach out affectionately.  Not everyone feels that way about the City of Light, I know, but when I daydream about traveling, this is usually where my mind takes me.

     •  Yellowstone National Park has awe-inspiring sights around almost every bend in the road or trail.  At certain times of the year there are hordes of other tourists around every bend, too, but a well-timed visit can make you sigh deeply at Yellowstone’s majestic beauty.

•  Moorea is not as well-known as its neighbors Tahiti and Bora Bora, but offers  similarly gorgeous beaches and abundant tropical fish.  It’s a great place to kayak or dive or hike… or just sprawl out and do nothing.

•  Shanghai impressed me with its contrasts:  Parts of the city are ancient, but nearby there are skyscrapers.  Buildings along the Bund evoke 19th-century Europe, but directly across the river is a business district that, after dark, is lit up like Las Vegas.  I have had just a taste of Shanghai, and it made me want more.

•  Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is an old but elegant city.  As Sally observed when we were there:  “In Rome you wake up to car horns; in Florence you wake up to church bells.”

•  The California Coastline is where I live, so forgive me if this sounds like boosterism. The Pacific coast’s natural beauty stretches for hundreds of miles (and in fairness, to Oregon and Washington, too).  As much as I like going elsewhere, it’s great to come back here.

So… what about you?  Is there some special place you look forward to seeing again?