Tag Archive | photography

What Little Beauties Will Appear?

20180708_0922495491600727189644411.jpg20180708_0923127802616713461733185.jpg20180708_0924051615899125882250094.jpgThis morning, I was surprised when Lila and I were out for our usual walk because we came upon a field of blossoming flowers. Walkers passed us by as I snapped some pictures.  One couple stopped and admired the field right along with us.

“Do you happen to know what kind of flower that is?” I asked as I pointed at what I thought was a poppy. Its delicate petals fluttered in the breeze.

“We think it’s a poppy,” the man and woman said in unison.

“I don’t remember this field of flowers being here last year,” I said. Lila’s nose and paws were going farther into the field as she munched on some tall grass.

“They must have planted these wild flowers last year when they were fixing up the place,” the man reminded me.

“It’s going to be fun to watch,” said the lady. We smiled and nodded at each other as we went along our way.  I thought back to when Lila and I walked about the park last summer.  The walkers and bikers were only able to travel one half of the park, and the part where the wild flowers were was unreachable because of the rebuilding.  A bike path was added to hook up with the current one, plus a wooden foot bridge was built over part of the brook.  Most people do not go down to that part of the brook anymore because of how the foot bridge was constructed.  Many large rocks now hug the shoreline there, which makes it difficult for us to climb down to the water.  We now admire the brook from the bridge.  Since there was much digging going on last year, mice, moles, and turtles scampered around the paths looking lost and missing their homes.  Sort of like us because we weren’t able to walk around our usual way either.  Once I heard what I thought was a deer bounding about in the woods, crunching bushes and bramble as he ran to find some shelter.

This year, the creatures have settled in and are back to hiding in their homes, and we get to walk around the entire park because no part of the path is blocked. The wild flowers took the place of some beautiful towering trees that are missed, but there were never any wild flowers in the park before.  It’s nice to see them growing in the July sun.  At first, I missed the natural look of things and the way they were, but now I wonder what little beauties will appear in the field by the brook when August comes along.

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers… ~ Robert Herrick

 

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Right Out of a Story Book

Traveling from Interlaken to Lucerne

How lucky we were to be able to travel along and have each step of our trip be more beautiful than the last. Now, even a short time after our travels, while looking at pictures, it’s like every photo was taken straight out of a story book.

As you can see from the pictures above, the countryside is quite beautiful. We traveled by train from Grindelwald back to Interlaken and then to Lucerne.  Lucerne was the biggest town we visited, yet we were able to see a lot on our walks about town.

City of Lucerne

One great find was Lucerne’s parish church, the Church of St. Leodegar. It was built in parts during 1633 to 1639.  There certainly was a lot of detailed work to appreciate here.

A very nice day of weather greeted us when we went on a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. Guests can listen to an audio tour where they learn about the castle, dragons, and some interesting legends.

Lake Lucerne

We enjoyed our stay at the Wilden Mann, a historical hotel that has been in business since 1860. The other hotels where we stayed had been around for a while too, but those rooms had been updated and modernized.  This hotel kept its historical flare.

Lucerne Wilden Mann Swiss Restaurant

Lucerne Wilden Mann Swiss Restaurant

The Wilden Mann has two restaurants: French and Swiss.  We had dinner at the Swiss restaurant with traditional Swiss furnishings.  The waiter took our order and then delivered bread and a tiny salad with fresh tomatoes and cheese.  I also had the asparagus cream soup, which was not super thick, and came with a bit of mango salad.  The meatloaf was served with a red wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.  My husband had the sausage with shoe string potatoes, and onions wrapped in bacon.  We topped it all off with a chocolate cake dessert which was served with strawberry “soup” and topped with whipped cream and carmelized sugar.

Though it looked like our trip was straight out of a story book, the best part was exploring all these little towns and going on an adventure together. It was a great way to celebrate a special wedding anniversary.  🙂

An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today,
the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow. ~Author unknown

Closer to the Mountains

Our next stop took us up little by little to be closer to the mountains.  The train trip to the quaint town of Grindelwald from Interlaken took 33 minutes, to be exact!  We walked a short distance to find Hotel Belvedere, where we would stay for the next three nights.  Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but the lady at reception offered us a welcome drink, which we enjoyed on the terrace.

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere

Every hotel where we stayed included breakfast, but it wasn’t just any breakfast. Large rooms greeted us with tables of food.  There were eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, lunch meats, Swiss cheeses, loaves of bread ready for slicing, cereal, yogurt, and fruit.  Some places had coffee machines with buttons where we could choose a latte or cappuccino.  The Hotel Belvedere had a beautiful restaurant where we enjoyed all this, plus seeing and tasting honey from a honeycomb.

The highlights of our stay were walking about the town to explore the restaurants and take in the picturesque views.

Another highlight was when we took a round-trip ride on a cogged wheel train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Kleine Scheidegg has an altitude of 6,761 feet and sits at the foot of the Eiger North Wall.  (The movie The Eiger Sanction was filmed here.)

From Kleine Scheidegg, travelers can take the Jungfrau Railway, which climbs to the Eiger Glacier Station. This trail travels partway through a mountain at quite the incline, with a few stops on the way.  I wasn’t sure about going on this next jaunt, but my husband talked me into it.  When we reached the top, which has an altitude of 11,332 feet, we disembarked to go to a building.  There are many tourist attractions, such as a tour, ice palace, hikes, restaurant, shops, and observation decks.  We did not stay long because my husband had a reaction to the high altitude, so we headed back down the mountain as soon as we could.  This was okay with me, because I felt a little light-headed too.  Luckily, we got our Jungfrau-Top of Europe Passport stamped before we left!

As we traveled on the Jungfrau Railway, we couldn’t help but appreciate all the work that went into its construction. The construction began in July 1896.  From our Jungfrau–Top of Europe Passport:

Swiss industrial magnate Adolf Guyer-Zeller has an audacious idea while on a hike. The “railway king” wants to blast a tunnel through the rock of the Eiger and Monch and construct a cogwheel railway to the Jungfrau summit.  Local people recognize the touristic potential and support his plan.

The workers make rapid progress in the tunnel; however the mountain takes its toll. On 26 February 1899, an accident with explosives claims the lives of six men.  A miner’s daily wage is only 4.60 francs.  Strikes break out, whereby the management reacts with dismissals.

As an incentive, a reward is offered to the shift that makes the breakthrough. On 21 February 1912, the miners use more dynamite than is permitted and blast through to daylight.  The shout of “Through!” echoes along the tunnel and the workers fall into each other’s arms.  The masterpiece has finally been achieved!

Mr. Guyer-Zeller died in 1899 from pneumonia, but his family carried out his plan. In the beginning of December 1905, there were some financial problems that forced the work to be halted for two years.  After a 16-year construction period, the final station to Jungfraujoch opened on February 21, 1912.

Here are some pictures from the cogged wheel train trip:

It was nice getting closer to the mountains, but we didn’t mind seeing them from afar either!

When we left the hotel, the hospitable lady at reception gave us this little package of Swiss chocolates!

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere Departing Treats of Chocolates

I hope you can join me next time for our last stop of the trip: Lucerne.

Ancestral Home

The next leg of our Switzerland trip ended up being the one where we got in the most steps. When we arrived in the small town of Ringgenberg, after a short train trip of a little over three miles from Interlaken, we walked a couple of blocks to find the tourism office. It didn’t seem like anyone else was visiting the quiet town, which has a population of 2,700. We told the nice young man at the tourist office that we came to visit Ringgenberg because my grandfather was born there. He told us there are many people who live there with our last name. I told him my grandfather would be about 140 years old by now, so it was unlikely there were any people there who would have known him. That gave him a chuckle, and he told us about a couple of the main attractions: Ringgenberg Church and Burgseeli Lake.

Ringgenberg Church, which was built into castle ruins in 1670, sits on top of a large hill. “Ringgenberg Castle was inhabited from 1240 until 1380 [by the Ringgenberg family].” Before we climbed up to see the church, we noticed the small cemetery by Lake Brienz. What makes the cemetery unique is that in front of each tombstone there is a little garden where spring plants actually live in the ground. The little gardens felt as if a lot of love, pride, and care lives there. We noticed Grandpa’s last name on some of the tombstones, and I guess this was the closest I would get to some of my relatives. Looking closer, I realized the people who were in the cemetery were too young to be my great grandparents, and I wondered where their final resting spots might be. We continued exploring by walking up the steps to find a spectacular view. Even though it was a Friday, we happened upon a happy couple getting their wedding pictures taken behind the church. There was a little bit of hustle and bustle going on as people were getting ready for the wedding ceremony.

Ringgenberg

Home Across from Burgseeli Lake, Ringgenberg

We walked to Burgseeli Lake, which is located between the towns of Ringgenberg and Goldswil. I thought I snapped a picture of the lake, but I must not have pushed the button hard enough. 😦 To see a picture, click here. This may have been the spot where Grandpa saved two girls from drowning many, many years ago. The water in Burgseeli Lake can reach temperatures in the upper 70s, and people can swim there from May through September. “The water reaches such comfortable temperatures so quickly in spring because it is moorland water with a low oxygen content and very slow circulation.”

We found our way back to the train station and headed to the adorable town of Brienz. Our main goal was to find the woodcarving school my grandfather attended. We ended up walking along the shore of the lake from one end of town to the other, and eventually found the school. We would have found it sooner, if we held the map the right way! 🙂

We met a young woman at the carving school who is a student there. She told us how the students are required to go to school for four years and said when my grandpa went there, there would have been about 2,000 students. Now there are about 30. My husband asked if the school sells any of their wood carvings, and she said they do not want to take business away from the woodcarving shop down the road. So after a few more pleasantries, we headed off to visit the Huggler Wood Carving Shop and bought a few little souvenirs to bring home to the kids.

When we got back to Interlaken, we visited the Golden Egg Restaurant again, since we enjoyed it so much the night before. Besides the bread and salad, we each had a meal of pasta. I had macaroni and my husband had ravioli, which was swimming in olive oil. We relaxed in a comfy booth by the window. My husband and I wondered how many miles we walked, and I wondered where my Great Grandparents were and thought it was weird I didn’t think about them before we went on the trip. Funny what visiting a cemetery can do to someone, but they had passed away almost a century ago. Maybe I’ll be able to find them some other time. It’d be nice to go back and spend more time in my ancestral home and the Golden Egg! 🙂

Inside the Golden Egg.
See the Polar Bear in the Middle Picture?

Next stop: Grindelwald

Trains Run on Time

The morning we left Amsterdam to go to Zürich is the day I should not have worn my money belt around my waist, because that’s when I got frisked at the airport.  I had gotten used to strapping the belt on every morning.  When the lady who worked at the airport started patting me down is when I realized the money belt that held my passport and credit cards was triggering this activity.  “Next time, don’t wear that when going through security,” she politely said.  Whoops! 🙂  Before leaving on our trip to Europe, I read a few articles about the pickpockets, which is why I was careful about wearing the money belt. For that reason and the reason that a friend of mine had her purse and passport stolen when she was in Italy.  It’s a big mess to go through when losing a passport.  I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me.

After the frisk, we boarded our flight on KLM Airlines.  The flight attendants wear white blouses, light blue blazers and skirts with a matching pill hat balanced on top of their heads.  It seemed as if they were coming out of a decade we’d already lived through, but it was nice to see!  Plus, they gave us little chicken sandwiches in a white and Dutch blue paper box covered with pictures of old-fashioned windmills.  It was the simplest of meals, but left quite an impression.

When we arrived, there was a different feeling from what we experienced in Amsterdam. Zürich seemed to be a bit more serious, quiet, and less crowded.  We found the office of the train station, and the lady there pointed us to the train tunnel.  This is where I started to feel a little anxious.  What were we thinking?  Could we really navigate our way through Switzerland by ourselves via train?  What if we ended up on the wrong train?  But all went well.  The lady at the train station handed us a train schedule and told us about the SBB Mobile app.  The app has the timetables and has the ability to purchase tickets.  We didn’t have to worry about buying tickets since we purchased them before we left for our trip.

The tunnel wasn’t very crowded, and since I didn’t have the app loaded on my phone yet, I asked one of the train workers if the trains have numbers (like the bus I take at home). He said, “No, it all works by timetable.”  In true Swiss fashion, each train has a spot on the car where it indicates its destination.  All the trains ran on time, just as you would expect when traveling in Switzerland, the clockmakers of the world.  There was no need to be nervous about numbers on trains.  To be sure though, we asked fellow travelers if the train was going to Bern.  🙂

We noticed a lot of graffiti on walls and under bridges as we travelled to Bern, which I didn’t expect to see. I also saw billboards or signs for Electrolux vacuum cleaners and Elna sewing machines – things my dad bought when I was younger.  After we got off the train in Bern and were trying to figure out where to go next, a lady walked up to me and asked for directions in English!  I thought I must look like I belonged there but told her we were trying to figure out the same thing.  We ended up following everyone else and found our way to the restrooms and some restaurants.  Luckily, we bought the best chocolate, chocolate chip muffin I’ve ever eaten.  Back to the tracks, we found our next train, which was going to Interlaken.

The scenery improved more and more as we traveled along and left the big city of Bern. When we got to a valley by a lake and mountains surrounded us, I knew we were in Interlaken.  The beauty of it all took my breath away!  So much so, that I did not take pictures at that time.  After a few more minutes of train travel, we were at the train station in Interlaken and took a cab to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Bellevue, which has been in business since 1801 and is located on the River Aare. Above are pictures of the outside of the hotel and an adjacent restaurant, reception area, headboard on bed (thought it was cute!), updated bathroom with clear shower doors, and view from our hotel.  Carla, at reception, told us “people around here like to watch the parasailers jump off the mountain and try to land in Hohematte Park,” a short walk away.  After checking in, we leisurely walked around town where we found a beautiful church, the park, the spot to go to buy a wristwatch – there were many watch shops there – and more beautiful architecture.  Even though we enjoyed our short stay in the Netherlands, it was nice to be away from the Hectically Moving Crowds and busyness of Amsterdam.

Interlaken Hotel Where We Did Not StayFancy Hotel, Where we Did Not Stay

We ended up having dinner at the restaurant next door to our hotel – Goldener Anker (Golden Egg) – which Carla recommended. Our waitress brought us a little basket of bread.  We both had a dinner salad which came with finely-shredded beets and carrots.  I had chicken schnitzel.  In case you don’t know, schnitzel means the meat is tenderized and pounded thin and covered in flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs.  Instead of bread crumbs though, mine was covered in coconut flakes and came with a mustard sauce.  My husband had fresh perch with a rice medley.  The atmosphere was relaxed with hushed conversations and soft American rock music in the background.  The staff was very accommodating and the food was delicious.

The reason we travelled to Switzerland was to see where my grandpa grew up. My dad received many postcards that were sent to him from his cousin, John, who traveled there many times.  John encouraged my dad to visit, but Dad did not like to travel by airplane and never went.  Those postcards, the picture calendars Grandpa received from his hometown, and Grandpa’s stories made me want to visit my ancestral home.  Knowing we could get to Grandpa’s birthplace by train the next day made me excited for our next adventure.

Next stop:  Ringgenberg and Brienz, with more mountain pictures to come.

If I was a Bird, I’d Want to Live Here!

My husband and I didn’t know what to expect when we were off to our next stop – Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. We were not to be disappointed.  We took a tour bus to the gardens, which is a 40-minute drive from Amsterdam.  Our tour guide talked about the gardens while we were on the way, and he spoke five different languages!  I could only understand one but recognized parts of others, sometimes!

Keukenhof Gardens

Our tour guide informed us that over a million people visit the gardens during the eight week period when the flowers are in bloom. “More than 7 million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths fill over 32 hectares (79 acres) with color and fragrance.”  The flowers are arranged perfectly into artistic pieces of work.  Not only were the flowers beautiful, but we also enjoyed seeing the ponds and very large trees.

We snapped over 90 photos while we walked around the gardens for three hours. It was very difficult to narrow it down, but I’ve posted 29 (to be exact) of my favorites here.  Being amongst all the flowers, trees, and birds was timed perfectly since we had just gone through a very long and cold winter at home.  Plus, the flowers all seemed to be at their prime, except for some daffodils that had seen better days.  Some of the flowering trees were losing their petals, but we got to see them in all their glory before the wind picked up.

We could tell by the songs they sang, that the birds were glad to be there, too. I couldn’t help but think, “If I was a bird, I’d want to live here!”  Keukenhof Gardens was spectacular and more than I ever imagined!

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Hectically Moving Crowds

Amsterdam Walk About Town

Amsterdam Walk About Town

Amsterdam is a beautiful and interesting place to visit. My husband and I arrived on a Tuesday late in the morning the beginning of May.  We were met at the airport by Peter, who drove us to our hotel in a Mercedes van.  Mercedes are a very common sight in Amsterdam.  The ride felt very comfortable, not only because of the type of van we rode in, but because people drive on the right side of the streets in the Netherlands.  When we got closer to town, we noticed the bicycles.  The city bikes have fenders, chain guards, and a skirt guard on the rear wheel.  A shocking amount of people were commuting to work and other places on bikes in their office-type clothing.  No one wore a helmet and sometimes babies were strapped in either on a bike or a person who was riding one.

Rembrandt Square

As we neared where we would be staying, Peter had a hard time finding a place to park. Luckily, he was able to wedge the van in between two cars that were parked alongside a canal, and we got pretty close to the hotel, the NH Schiller.  The hotel was built in 1912 and is located next to Rembrandt Square.  The lobby is decorated with stained glass windows, woodwork, and artwork painted by Frits Schiller who once owned the hotel.  The headboards on the beds are also reminiscent of the creations of the artist.

NH Schiller Hotel (Bottom Photo is Headboard)

We quickly checked in, got a map, and went for a walk to find Anne Frank’s House & Museum. Along our walk, we commented about the stunning architecture of the buildings.  Some buildings seem crooked as if they are leaning onto the next.  Canals wind about the town.  We marked our way by how many canals we crossed.  We ambled down a main street, by the Royal Palace, took a left turn to cross three canals and found Anne Frank’s House pretty easily.  We would return to the house of the well-known author later that night to go on our tour.

Amsterdam Royal Palace

Amsterdam Royal Palace

The streets were not only alive with bikers and walkers, but trams, buses, cars, and a horse and carriage helped make the town boom. Ferries dotted the canals.  Around a million tourists visit Amsterdam this time of year during an eight-week period to see the tulips at Kuekenhof Gardens, a 40-minute drive away.  We wandered around a little more and came upon a little restaurant called Mama Pancakes.  My husband’s breakfast came with scrambled eggs, sausage, beans, and bacon, chopped up like ham.  I ordered an omelet with ham, and toast on the side.  Both meals came with a garnish of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  The coffee was served in a tiny white cup atop a little matching saucer.

Amsterdam Mama Pancake CoffeeTiny Cup of Coffee

Our tour of Miss Frank’s house was soon to arrive, so we went back to our hotel to get ready. Now that we knew the way, we felt confident we would get to the tour on time.  We only worried about staying out of the throng of the hectically moving crowds!

All went well, and I’ll write soon about our tour.

Thanks for visiting!