As the weather heats up in Queensland I am reminded of the rainy Autumn days that we spent in Venice in 2015. For the most part, the weather was cold and wet, a high tide was predicted and we could not have been happier. Protected by the covered passage of the Doges Palace we watched a parade of colourful umbrellas and plastic ponchos pass us by.
The rain that fell on us at the end of another long and hot Queensland summer did wonders for our little garden and the park outside. Everything was lush and green, funny little funghi moved in and we had numerous creatures living among the plants, thriving on the fresh green shoots of our gardenias. My thumb isn’t that green, however I have managed to keep a few plants alive and I love it when I see creatures in the garden even if they’re actually destroying it leaf by leaf.
Bundy seemed pleased that I was not turning the lens on him for a change, instead I got as close as I could to the frogs, bees, spiders and mushrooms and started shooting away. I think I could have used a faster shutter speed on some of the shots, they’re not as sharp as I would like however it is good that these things are becoming a little clearer to me. I am learning. For some of you it is Spring time which means lots of beautiful blooms and bright colours, looking forward to seeing what lives and grows in your garden 🙂
White Admiral Butterfly
Creepy but stunning spider
Breakfast time for the grasshopper
Little green frog
Little green frog
Living in coastal Queensland means hot and humid summers, very mild winters and lovely seasons in between. We don’t really get to experience the four seasons because they seem to merge together so for us, spending a couple of days in the cooler climes of Innsbruck, Austria was utterly delightful. Both Hubby and I wanted to see snow, and perhaps explore some Christmas markets, the timing wasn’t perfect however we discovered that the markets in Verona, Innsbruck and Berlin opened late November. In the days leading up to our arrival in Innsbruck we kept checking the weather reports and were happy to see that snow was predicted during our stay. Snow is not something we’ll ever experience where we live, Queenslanders complain about the cold if the temperature drops below 20 degrees celsius.
My first visit to Innsbruck was in 1999 and it was summer, no snow then just lots of rain. This time we travelled in late Autumn and I imagined snow covered mountains, Christmas decorations and huge Christmas trees covered in lights, Innsbruck did not disappoint. Hubby was ecstatic! On our second day in Innsbruck it snowed, we woke up to a view of snow covered rooftops and couldn’t believe our luck. The previous night we discovered the joy of Gluhwein, the spiced wine warming us from the inside out and it worked a treat during the day as well especially when combined with delicious food sold at the Christmas stalls. It wasn’t hard to spot the tourists, we were the ones with broad smiles, standing in the middle of the square and taking photos of each other in the snow.
The food in Innsbruck’s old town caters to tourists, the quality might be considered average and the offerings kitschy or old fashioned. We didn’t really care and were looking forward to schnitzel and strudel, dishes that Hubby’s Italian Nanna cooked for him as a child. The lovely staff at the Hotel Weisses Kreuz sent us to a couple of places where we could enjoy a tasty schnitzel and for afternoon tea, apple strudel and hot chocolate. The food was delicious and the hot chocolate incredible, served up was a large ball of dark chocolate that I dropped into a steaming glass of milk and stirred until it melted. The apple strudel was also good, apparently not as good as Nanna’s but I enjoyed every mouthful. There is nothing quite like a good, hearty meal on a cold, snowy day and not a day goes this summer without me wishing I was back in Innsbruck.
Gluhwein and sausage to ward off the cold
Such a beautiful view
The Golden Roof
Christmas Markets outside our hotel
Loving the snow
Really loving the snow
Local church and cemetary
DIY Hot Chocolate – YUM!
Yummy apple strudel
The Golden Roof at night
The entry to our hotel
Turin is a wonderful city to visit, the food is great and there is plenty to see and do regardless of the weather. On our last full day in Turin we decided to catch the funicular up the mountain to see the baroque Basilica Superga and to hopefully get a glimpse of the snow covered mountains that provided such a scenic backdrop for the city. To get to the Basilica from the city centre you can catch a tram from Piazza Castello and get off at the Sassi stop which is not far from the Superga Station. The ride up on the funicular takes about twenty minutes and offers a glimpse of the private residences of locals as it climbs to the summit of the Superga hill.
The Sassi Station
The Sassi-Superga Funicular
Me on the tram
Looking up towards the Basilica Superga
The Basilica was founded by Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy in 1706 and is dedicated to our Lady of Grace. The design of the basilica was the work of a Sicilian architect, Filippo Juvarra and construction took 14 years to complete. On a day when the sun was shining and the sky a vibrant blue, the golden exterior glowed and I, along with a few others, went a little crazy taking numerous photos of this magnificent building. We entered the basilica for a brief visit, it was surprisingly still open because we had been told that the hours were limited at this time of year. Inside we found walls covered in graffiti dating back to World War II and a beautifully decorated interior of the dome situated over the main alter. Not long after entering we were given the signal that the basilica was closing so we were unable to climb the spiral staircase up to the balcony of the dome where you can apparently see a spectacular panoramic view of Turin and it’s surrounds.
The Basilica Superga
Corinthian columns at the entrance of the Basilica
The main altar decorated with Carrara marble
The interior of the dome of Basilica Superga
Light a candle
Graffitti on the interior walls dating back to WWII
The Basilica Superga
We gave the Royal Tombs and the Royal Apartments a miss preferring to be outdoors and walk around the Basilica via a well trodden garden path. It is Autumn when we visit, the colours of the foliage range from green to golden and the temperature is just right for being outside. Some visitors are having a picnic in one of the parks, others are relaxing on park benches and taking pleasure in their surroundings. Instead of seeing the tombs of the princes and kings of the House of Savoy we saw the site where a plane crashed in 1949. On the plane was the legendary Grande Torino football team, the entire team was killed along with their management, technical staff and accompanying journalists. A monument sits to the side of the path which runs behind the basilica, flowers, pictures and memorabilia pay tribute to those who perished.
Perfect spot for a picture
The scenic view from the top of the hill
The Grande Torino Football team killed when the plane crashed into the base of the Basilica Superga in 1949
When it comes time to leave we discover that the next train down to Sassi is not due to leave for another hour or more. The small bar in the station offers freshly made panini to eat with your beverage of choice, you can sit at a table in the garden or on the balcony, both offer a good view. The weather was perfect and so we made the most of it and enjoyed a fresh salami and cheese panini and a glass of vino while waiting for the train. The views from the bar and the terrace above are wonderful even when it is hazy, I can only imagine how spectacular the alps and the city look on a clear and crisp day.
The alps shrouded in haze but still beautiful
Lunch with a view
On the tram from Sassi to Piazza Castello
A view of the Eiffel Tower can be obtained from so many parts of Paris. We have seen it from a bus, on foot, from the Arc de Triomphe, shrouded in fog and sparkling at night. No matter how many times I see it, the sight still makes me smile and want to take a photo.
This morning we are up early, before the sun rises and long before our two black doggies usually get out of bed. Outside the air is cool, inside the aroma of freshly brewed coffee motivates me to get moving and get dressed for a trip to the beach. You may well wonder why anyone would want to go to the beach while it is cold and dark, but with a beautiful day forecast we know the temperature will rise and it is a perfect time to practice my photography and capture a sunrise. Eventually excitement reaches the dogs and they happily sit on the back seat of the car with tongues out and the drool slowing dripping onto the console and window sill of the door. As we cross the bridge that takes us towards the beach they start to fidget as familiar smells and sounds reach them, both are itching to stretch their legs on the sand, splash about in the waves and maybe roll in something dead and smelly.
I set up my tripod in a couple of different spots, clicking away madly whilst the dogs take turns dashing across the sand, retrieving sticks and balls for my husband. Soon Maxi joins me for a rest, at her age there is less dashing and more strolling, she still loves to paddle in the surf and can never resist digging holes in the soft sand. Only one other photographer has joined me on the beach, we aren’t at the most picturesque spot on the coast nor the most popular place for surfing so for many there is probably no reason to venture onto the sand, camera in hand, but for me and our little family it is the perfect place.
Looking back I realise that I should have focused more on the clouds as the rays of sunlight peeked through, experimenting with capturing the motion of the waves and the reflections distracted me yet I am happy with these few images that I am sharing with you and hope that you will be too.