Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring

Spring is but a distant memory, here the weather is cooler and the leaves are falling off the trees so the opportunity for taking timely Spring images for Cee’s Spring Fun Foto Challenge is not great, not possible even. Browsing through my archives of suitable photographs I realise that I have probably used some of the following images in a previous post such as Colourful Spring Flowers, you may be thinking that there are more things that represent spring than flowers, lambs and other baby animals but I don’t have any photos of those. Among the flowers you will find a portrait of our princess Maxi, its not often she sit still enough for me to take a photo however I did manage to get at least one shot on a day when my focus was on the flowers in our garden.

Enough of my waffle, enjoy!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

My fondness for photographing flowers is evident in this gallery, pretty blooms in many shades of pink from the palest of pinks through to the bright, vibrant pinks, they really stand out against the green foliage which is no surprise considering red and green are complementary colours and bring out the best in each other.

Remembering a spring day spent at Versailles

Spring is here! Already people are leaving their jackets and beanies at home and heading out into the sun to absorb some vitamin D. I have noticed new growth on my gardenias and the scent of star jasmine and my coco magnolia tree fills the night air with the sweetest perfume. Spring is my favourite time of year, the days are filled with sunshine and the nights are still cool, making sleep easy (unlike summer). Later this month there will be floral festivals in the towns around us, the keen gardeners with beautiful homes open up to the general public so that we can admire the results of their hard work and passion and hopefully be inspired to do more in our own gardens. It is a time when I like to take my camera and spend a few hours photographing flowers, not something that appeals to everyone but my husband is very patient and there are usually several other hobby photographers madly photographing everything with a petal.

Today I am reminded of the start of our holiday in Europe and where I was when the sun decided to shine after a few days of grey, gloomy weather. We were visiting the Palace of Versailles and it was my birthday. The layers of clothing we had been wearing were not necessary, my sunglasses became my accessory of choice and our delight at being outside, in Paris (or thereabouts), on such a glorious day was immense. Having written about the day on a previous post: Birthday celebration at the Palace of Versailles, I won’t write much about the day itself except to say that reading about our day at Versailles makes my heart smile and trawling through my photos again brings back very happy memories.

Is there a day (or event) in your travels that really makes your heart smile?

Enjoy the photos and for those of you in the southern hemisphere, Happy Spring!

 

Lucerne, Switzerland

Frescoes
Frescoes

The sun decided to shine on us in Switzerland, beautiful warm days and not a rain cloud in sight. Mt Pilatus had a few hanging around which had me thinking that I would again find myself on top of the mountain and not able to see anything but fog or cloud. Switzerland is expensive, they don’t have the euro either so you have to be happy with getting Swiss Francs back for change or use plastic, we used a combination of both for the few days we were there and managed to leave with only a couple of francs in change.

Supermarket shopping in Lucerne was our best option for cheap, healthy meals and for picking up a couple of bottles of wine and beer. For a couple of days we dined on salad, sausage, cheese and chocolate plus some yummy bagel crisps and crackers. Our biggest dining splurge was had here and not because it was fabulous ala carte food, it was because we had 3 courses and a few glasses of wine which came to a total of 120 euro, still it was an enjoyable meal and the wine was very nice.

Beautiful Lake Lucerne
Beautiful Lake Lucerne
Flowers for sale at the markets
Flowers for sale at the markets
The Dying Lion Monument
The Dying Lion Monument

From the ground Mt Pilatus looked reasonably clear of cloud when we decided to make the journey, it was about 140 euro for the tickets to the top and that covered all of our transport by bus and cable car, the scenic railway was inoperable due to heavy snow. The trip takes over an hour in each direction and you can definitely feel the temperature drop as you get higher and the attendant tells us that it is about minus 3 degrees celsius. Travel to the halfway point, about 1000m up is in a small four person cable car, there aren’t many people travelling up to the summit today perhaps that is because of the weather or it could be because it is early spring. At the halfway point there is a good view of the mountains and there is also a playground for families and barbecue area, we wait for the larger cable car to provide transport for the rest of the journey, about half a dozen people hop in with us and a big slab of concrete pipe. As we near our final destination there is cloud and more cloud, the attendant identifies us as Australians and chats to us about his recent travels in Australia, the cloud is supposed to clear he says, sadly that didn’t happen. The facilities on Mt Pilatus are undergoing reconstruction of a terrace area and new facilities, you have to dodge workers, cables and building materials to get outside, we’re amazed because you wouldn’t see that in Australia thanks to workplace health and safety regulations. We spend a couple of hours on the mountain, most of it indoors drinking coffee and eating fries as we wait for the cloud to disappear, every now and then we get a glimpse of sunlight and the mountains that connect to Pilatus providing several photo opportunities and a break from the cold. Regardless of the weather and construction work it was still a great way to spend our time in Switzerland and make use of our winter thermals which could easily be discarded now that the temperature has risen.

Lucerne-0260

Our time in Lucerne (or Luzern in Europe) is quite relaxing, a bit of shopping, sightseeing and eating and taking much pleasure in the scenic surroundings. The Saturday morning markets were a fabulous way to spend a morning, lots of cheese and cold meats to taste and the flowers, art and crafts for sale provided colourful eye candy for browsers. The market stalls lined both sides of the river that linked to Lake Lucerne, locals and tourists mingled and the tables at cafes running parallel to the site were almost always full and a good vantage point for people watching. Being in Switzerland I thought that a hot chocolate would be a delicious alternative to coffee, huge disappointment when they bought out a cup of hot milk and sachet of chocolate powder for me to DIY the hot chocolate, this I can get at home and for alot less than 4 euro!

Lucerne and Switzerland in general is famous for being an expensive place to visit, I’m curious to know how high the cost of living is because it really is a lovely part of the world and the easy access to other European countries is enviable. Our three nights in Lucerne were just enough to get a taste of the country and have a little down time, our budget couldn’t really afford to stay longer but it would have been nice.

Chilled in Amsterdam

Our last day in Amsterdam and our coldest, the temperature is a chilly 10 degrees and it is raining. There is nothing on our itinerary for the day, we walk to the flower market keeping close to the walls to stay out of the wind and rain. The Keukenhof Gardens would have been our choice had the weather been nicer, the flower market was a compromise and still gave me a chance to see and photograph the beautiful tulips that you see all over Amsterdam, Germany and Switzerland. There is a rainbow of colours, some tulips are in bloom and some are still buds, the market stalls sell bulbs, bouquets and pot plants, it is a shame we cannot take any home with us. Near the markets is a Christmas shop called the Christmas Palace, no photos are allowed to be taken and the shop is filled with trees, fairy lights and decorations. The bells over the door ring constantly, it is cute at first but then gets a little annoying. I buy a few decorations, not too many, we will be going to the famous Christmas shops in Rothenburg ob de Tauber when we are then and plan to buy more to ship home.

In the process of trying to find a post office we find lots of shoes and scarves and Marty pays 1 euro to use the toilet in a toilet shop call ‘2 the loo’, they offer a clean place to pee and a selection of amusing gifts to purchase. Finally we find a post office and can send the postcards we have written on, they may be of Paris but I’m sure our friends and family will understand.

Amsterdam frites with mayonnaise is a well known snack, not sure if they got the idea from Belgium or if they share it with them, we get our huge servings from a frites shop called Mannekin Pis, the serving has half a jar of mayo on it much to our surprise. We get out of the way of all the pedestrians and lean on a bridge while sucking down this tasty treat, near us is the Grasshopper coffeeshop and jetty for the canal cruises, it is a very Amsterdam location to have lunch. In comparison to lunch we eat Thai food in our room that night, for 9 euro we get spring rolls and a meal of noodles with vegetables, stir fry vegetables and a beef with broccoli dish. The ladies in the takeaway shop were happy to chat to us in English, they have family in Australia but have never been themselves, the rest of the customers spoke Dutch so we assume that they were locals popping in for an easy, cheap meal.