Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Austrian Lakes

I took my first European tour to Austria in July & it took us two days to get there. 

First leg of the trip was via the Eurostar to Brussells Midi station & then on to Cologne where we stayed overnight. I loved the Eurostar; it was the first time I had travelled on it & we went first class. Fabulous! I don't think I'll ever enjoy air travel again.

Second day we travelled from Cologne along the Rhine Valley to Salzburg. What fantastic scenery, castles or rather schlosses & lovely valleys & mountains. It took over seven hours but it was a wonderful journey. It's so great being able to get up & walk around, go to the loo, have a trip to the buffet & stretch your legs. I had to laugh though, when I went along the carriages to check if everyone was OK one chap kept asking how much longer to get there. Just like when you take children anywhere by car. He couldn't understand why we were taking a scenic route when a fast train would get us there just the same. You wonder why people book holidays without checking the itinerary. 

Well we eventually arrived & next morning we had a ferry trip out onto the lake. It had been absolutely pouring an hour before but by the time we went onto the ferry it started to brighten up. This photo was taken from inside the ferry as it was raining a little, it's not particularly clear & you can see some reflection in the photo.




 Traunkirchen Parish Church


The weather brightened up quickly as we finished our little lake cruise. Now I'm not a fan of cemetaries but around the side of the church was a lovely little cemetary. The graves were beautifully kept. However what puzzled me is how small they were. At first I wondered whether they were children but I looked at a few of the headstones & whole families were in there! Maybe they were cremated!



There was a ferry landing beside the church which we used to travel up the lake.

Lake Traunsee

Here's a view from the hill above the church looking down on the lake.


The cafe at the bottom right of the photo sold fabulous ice cream!


It's amazing how fast the weather can change in areas where there are lakes & mountains. I took the photo above to try out the camera on a new tablet I had bought but it was so bright I couldn't see what I was taking. Didn't turn out so bad.

Then I walked across the road towards the lake & in that few minutes this was how the light changed. 



It was still warm so I went for a swim just past that bridge. It was fresh but not freezing. 



A back street!


And Another


Another View of the Lake


This part of Austria is suffering economically as it doesn't have the advantage of all year round tourism. No skiing here! The photograph above shows a shop & guest house which has closed. 






An Antique Shop in a Former Life


Sadly there were a few shops & cafes which had closed in this really small village. 

One of our day trips was to the beautiful village of Hallstatt. We went there by train & then across the lake by ferry. It was gorgeous. It's the most photogenic place I've ever visited. Sadly it was a little crowded.



Hallstatt



As you approached by ferry across the lake the houses & shops looked as it they were growing out of the mountain. The reflections in the lake are wonderful.



The houses cafes & shops around the central square were really pretty with their beautiful colours & flower boxes.


I climbed up to the Catholic church below (lost count of how many steps) 


At the top once again I found a beautiful little cemetary.






























Another day we visited Gmunden a small town across the lake very famous for its ceramics. A few people didn't like it but I did. I loved the colours that the houses were painted even though it was a rainy day it still looked pretty.















Gmunden's Glockenspiel

The glockenspiel on the town hall which still plays wasn't made locally as their ceramics weren't suitable. It was made in Meissen!

The main town square looking pretty dismal. No different to anywhere else when it rains!

I'll save Salzburg for another day!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Brilliant Remake!

The BBC have produced a remake of one of my all time favourite songs, The Beach Boys masterpiece "God Only Knows". Although Brian Wilson is in it, plus Bengal tiger, it's not quite as we remember it!



It's visually stunning with a diverse range of singers & musicians. It took a year to make & was produced to launch the new BBC Music site. 

They couldn't have picked a better song. Apparently it's a global collection of singers I just wish I knew who half of them are! Shows I'm getting old.

I wondered about whether to add the original & after Granny Annies comment I have. So here's the original. Enjoy!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bardarbunga!

I know it sounds more like something from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but I have to say that word is striking fear into the hearts of my grandchildren.

It's the volcano in Iceland which is showing heavy seismic activity with magma swelling near the surface & a string of earthquakes.

The risk to flights & other aircrafts has been raised to orange, the second highest level. If it erupts there could be tons of volcanic ash created and an exclusion zone in place of hundreds of miles to prevent the dust from destroying aeroplane engines. I remember the disruption that caused in Northern Europe four years ago.

Now why is this news affecting my grandchildren? Because they're due to fly to Disney World, Florida in 10 days!

I feel a cruise coming on!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens

My Scottish Tour started & finished in Edinburgh. It's years since I was there & I'd forgotten how lovely a place it is. 

To be honest when I've been there before I've been with friends & family who just wanted to shop & eat so I didn't see much of the city. This time I was on my own so could wander about to my heart's content & the weather was perfect for it.



I love Princes' Street Gardens. It's hard to believe that when you're walking along in these beautiful gardens the main street & all the city's traffic is running along parallel to it. 

The first thing I did was to find the floral clock. I remember being fascinated by this when I was little. I found it but sadly it wasn't working, think I was too early. The design had been laid out but there were no pointers on it. 


Floral clock - minus pointers!





An authentic Scottish thistle!

There seem to be dozens of monuments in Edinburgh wherever I went I came across them.



Sir Walter Scott Monument

The Call 1914 - The Scots American War Memorial 
A tribute to Scottish soldiers who died during WW1

The week we arrived in Edinburgh they had a new tram system!



It looked rather good even though it had caused a lot of problems with the escalating costs!


Looking Down Princes Street

However I have to say that the power lines & poles have made a bit of a mess of the lovely view along Princes Street.

I suppose most cities look good on a lovely sunny day. 


I loved this little cafe which was next to the hotel we were staying in. I had to laugh at the sign they had put up. I've enlarged it below.


Now just in case you don't know, it's taking a pop at Starbucks. They're the ones who don't pay their taxes in the UK! Have to admit I wouldn't drink Starbucks anyway as I just don't like their coffee, I prefer Costa or M&S.

This is the hotel in Waterloo Place (at the end of Prices Street) where we stayed the first night. It has a great history which I managed to get a leaflet about. Apparently it was Edinburgh's first purpose built hotel opened in 1819 for the visit of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. He was in the first carriage to travel down Waterloo Place. 
Around it were other great historical buildings. Shame about the wheelie bins!


Further along from our hotel I saw a monument which interested me so on our final day I found time to wander along to find out about it. It turned out to be on Calton Hill & was one of a number of monuments up there & the views were fantastic.

Calton Hill


I hadn't heard of him but this was a monument to the Scottish philosopher, Dugald Stewart. From here you can see right across the city.
Unfinished National Memorial of Scotland, Calton Hill

I found it really sad to see this memorial to the soldiers & sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars which was never finished. It was started in 1826 & was modelled on the Parthenon. Unfortunately they ran out of cash & they never completed it. 

They did manage to finish this one just near. It is the monument to Admiral Lord Nelson, that great Scottish nay, English sailor who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Trafalgar Signal " England expects that every man will do his duty" is still flown on Trafalgar Day (21 October) weather permitting.

                          

It looks like a huge stone telescope & contains a time ball which is dropped at 1 o'clock daily. From here you get a fantastic view of the city & across to the sea. 

Here are some random photographs.

                                         



This was the room where we had our Scottish meal on our final night. It was a beautiful room & we had a piper, a lovely Scottish highland dancer & haggis, neeps & tatties! A great finish to our tour.