things and places my beloved

i dont want to know how many hours of my life i have spent on google maps. it is my primary form of procrastination, but also one of my biggest sources of joy. it's honestly surprisingly hard to describe why i love it so much. ever since i was very young, i've loved maps and geography. in elementary school i would often check out this book on all the countries in the world and absorb their flags and capitals and geographic location. We had a massive canvas ikea map in our house that i could waste afternoons looking at, admiring all the shapes and quizzing myself on jeopardy-like questions about the countries i studied on it.

the other element of my affinity for google maps comes from - and not to sound disgustingly corny here - a love of humanity and the marks it (we?) leave behind (plastics excluded of course). I love seeing what a catholic church looks like in rural texas, northern finland, and southern india and how each culture has made their home in it, and thinking about all the people who have passed through there (i'm sure i'll discuss this in another page eventually, but while i'm not religious myself, i can't help but be in awe of its impact on individuals and society across time. anyways-). I love zooming in on tiny tiny towns in far eastern russia and finding the general stores or local restaurants and then reading each review someone took the time to leave behind. most are mundane, a simple, "good selection of breads. the cashier was very helpful," etc etc. some are more memorable and ideally use the phrase, "provincial savagery," as a certain dmitri described the metal detectors used in a shopping mall in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in northern russia.

anyways, after looking into copyright stuff, it seems i can't provide pictured for most of my favourite places, as they were taken and uploaded by random people whom i would have to ask permission from first, so i will simply provide links to interesting locations and do my best to describe why i like them.

the locations

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church: Andhra Pradesh, India. something i've noticed with churches in south asia (or at least catholic ones), is the presence of neon lights. I, for one, think that churches in other parts of the world have seriously missed out on something great by not joining in on this. I also really like the use of flowers in the church. it looks like it was built to stay cool in high temperatures, and the large windows hold its stained glass. everything that can be white, is white; the external building, the walls and flooring, and the offputtingly pale saints and Jesus. one sculpture appears to be wearing, given the context, a large rosary, but it looks more like a japamala, showing an interesting effect of cultures in contact.

Sushi House: Komi Republic, Russia. I'm not convinced that half the things posted under the photos section of this restaurant cant actually be considered to be sushi. there is a concerning amount of cheese involved, perhaps an outcome of "sushi house" also specialising in pizza and burgers. This sounds like a cruel review but i love it so much. one of the great things about google maps is the ability to look up sushi restaurants in any part of the world and see what passes as sushi in different regions. fair warning that someone has posted a slightly gory photo of a bit of blood on their arm (maybe leg?). not the worst, but heads up.

Terlingua Church: Terlingua, Texas, USA. I've loved the photos of this church for a while now, but after properly looking it up to write this, i've learned that it's name is St. Agnes Church and that it was established in 1914. apparently, the abandoned town of Terlingua was once a boomtown after the discovery of quicksilver in the 1880's. this church is the epitome of a wild west ghost town. it's rugged, barebones, and absolutely beautiful. to think about how many people have passed through it, how it saw the population dwindle with the waning resources. it's honestly hard to put into words how i feel about this place.

Local Coal Company Cinema: Barentsburg, Svalbard. There are multiple places in Barentsburg, the second-biggest town in svalbard, that i think warrent some conversation. this cinema appears to not only show films, but showcases traditional russian/ukrainian (apologies for being unsure) dance and music. Barentsburg has been settled by russians and ukrainians for the most part, and it really shows. other sites include a statue of lenin, a restaurant with a wall mural of russian fairytales, and an absolutely beautiful orthodox church with an impressive though humble exterior and a glamorous icon-filled interior.

Mikael Milhaizengi: Negash, Ethiopia. this rock-hewn church is approximately 1300 years old, and while only 2 photos have been uploaded to google maps, i can lose myself looking at them. The doors are built into the cliff itself, and the painted wall is lit only by the candle chandelier and a man holding a match. There seems to be a curtain pulled back to allow the viewers to see the painted figures, but i would like to see what the curtain looks like too. the paint looks bright and fresh, but depicts scenes in a medieval style.

Mercado Internacional Túpac Amaru: Juliaca, Peru. do you want to see stuff and things? this place has those. super-packed indoor/outdoor market that has produce, clothes, toys, security cameras, alpaca wool, bikes, puppies, blenders, etc. maybe you can't extrapolate on what is sold here after that list of unrelated things, but the point is, they have Stuff. there are also a number of photos of dancers dressed in some truly beautiful traditional peruvian attire. it also seems to be the place to go if you want some knockoff kpop merch.

St Finbarr’s School: Quilpie, Queensland, Australia. this addition is sponsored by my grandfather lol. now that the borders to australia have opened back up, i have finally been able to come back here and visit all the family i havent seen over the last 3 years, including my grandparents, who went on a roadtrip earlier this year and went out to western queensland (for reasons that are truly beyond me) and visited the opal-mining town of Quilpie along the way. he was telling my today about the church they visited there that had an alter made of opal and how it was amazing that it had never been stolen considering how much it must be worth. there isnt a whole lot of information on this church that seems to be a part of a school, but the website confirms that the alter, lecturn, and font showcase an opal panel, which stand out in comparison to the otherwise quite plain (sorry) church.

Prehistoric Gardens: Port Orford, Oregon, USA. i mean, i have to respect that someone had a vision here. the execution however,,, a little less respect (i will still definitely go if i'm ever in the area lol). i know that the big fun topic of debate is that dinosaurs were probably a lot more colourful than we've been imagining them being over the decades/centuries, but i'm willing to bet that these guys aren't right either. my absolute favourite is the icthyosaur just lying on the ground like a beached dolphin with giant empty eyes, looking like a massively scaled-up fishing lure. all in all, it's giving early 2000s mall playpen area.

Masjid Rasheed Mosque: Malé, Maldives. kind of off architecturally imo. not a hater but it's so,,, modern? but as in like it looks like a hotel and also a 3d printed cast at the same time. looking around, i kept expecting to find a pool. again, not a hater, but just different from anything i've seen before.

Saint Hovhannes Shrine: Armenia. A hilltop piled with amazingly intricate carved stone crosses. Not sure exactly what they are made from, but I find the red ones that look like clay to be the most beautiful. they just look so smooth and delicate. along with the crosses, there are some carved books and a small shrine that is packed with candles and icons. really pretty amazing to look at.

Marree cemetery : Marree, Australia. A little cemetery truly in the middle of nowhere. most graves seems to be marked by a slowly fraying post of wood, but some have a proper headstone. the headstones look out of place against the dry red dirt, and seem to be slowly losing their fight agaist nature as they sit crooked. there is only one up-close photo of a tombstone; the marker for Afchan Wahub, who passed in August of 1895. i was surprised by the arabic text that takes up the top half of the tombstone, but then i rembered about the 'afghan cameleers' (not all were from afghanistan, but this is/was the general term) who were brought to Australia to work in the outback, as camels were the only way at that point (mid-late 1800's to the early 1900s) to transport goods across the desert. according to wikipedia, they introduced and spread Sufism across the country, which i would love to read more about.

Gamla Åre Kyrka : Åre, Sweden. i don't have much to say about this one other than it just looks cool! looks very old, and very chilly...

more to come! I have many more places saved that i want to talk about, but most of them are churches and so i want to find other places to sort of balance out the collection so i'm not dumping them all in a row