I think April may end up being the fastest month of this year so far. Somehow it is more than half over already. How did that happen?! I’d better post my March photos before I blink and realise it’s June or something!
For those who don’t know, this is just a random post where I throw in all the photos I took during a particular month that don’t fit in anywhere else. Nothing particularly exciting, just an excuse to show off my photography “skills”.
Jan had a birthday, so I made cupcakes.
Once again, most of my photos were of birds.
Crows are very cool (although less so when they’re cawing on outside the window at 5 a.m.!).
I can never seem to resist taking photos of the birds on the balcony. *Sigh*. For those who have asked what a “lard ball” is, that would be the thing the birds below are standing on/eating. Also, notice the leaves on the tree (which was still pretty much bare in my February photos). It’s almost fully green now 🙂
I heard this next bird before I saw it:
Sadly the blackbird was not outside our window, but in a garden I walked past on my way home from town.
Our friend came to visit and we went to the animal park. I didn’t actually take many photos there, but I did grab one of the little red fox, all curled up in a ball. So cute… but so smelly!
And that’s about it for March. Cupcakes and animals seem to have been the order of the month.
I have to say, the final photo is my favourite in this collection! How about you… any favourites here?
Some bloggers write a weekly photo post sharing a photo for each day of the previous week. There’s no way I’m going to remember to take a photo every single day, but I do like the idea of sharing random photos that don’t fit into a whole blog post, so I’ve decided to just write a post at the end of each month where I can dump all the photos I took. Here’s January’s.
It snowed and actually settled enough to still be there at the weekend so I went for a walk and found this guy:
I also tried to take photos of snowy Basel from on top of a hill, but didn’t do very well:
A few days later it snowed again and someone came to visit our balcony:
That was the best photo I managed to get before I was spotted…
I then went out for a walk during my lunch break and discovered it’s quite difficult to take good photos while the snow is actually in the process of falling!
Look how deep it was though:
Finally, after disappearing for a few weeks, birds started visiting our balcony again. Here’s one sitting in a tree, having just taken a seed from our feeder and flown away to a safe distance to eat it:
And that’s about it for January. Snow and wildlife… that sums up my month pretty well, to be honest.
Hey guys! There have already been some great guesses for round two of What Am I Stitching. I’ll move on to round three soon, but in the meantime click the link if you still want to guess. For now, I’m going to tell you about a hike we went on in May. Yes, I’m slightly behind with my travel blogging…
We hadn’t been hiking for a while and we decided that May would be a good time to do it, before it got too hot (although the summer has also been mostly chilly so far, with the odd very hot day!). I got online – I like to use http://wanderungen.ch/ – and found a promising looking hike that wasn’t too far away, a discovery trail from Sommerau, along a small stream to a waterfall, then up the hill to a viewing tower on top of the Wisenberg mountain. From Basel SBB, we took the train, changed once in Sissach and arrived in Sommerau at 10:17 a.m.
We walked along the little stream – called Chrindelbach – for about half an hour before reaching the Giessen waterfall; an appropriate name as giessen means “to pour”. The 18 km high waterfall marks the end of the valley – from there, it’s all uphill!
Mini waterfall before the big one
Mini waterfall from above
Where the waterfall hits the rock
Under the weaterfall
After the waterfall, the route leads out of the woods for a short while, past farms and fields of dandelions. One farm had set up a little refreshment stand with a coffee machine and some other drinks. So cute!
Out of the woods…
Oh, hi there!
Somewhere near Häfelfingen, Basel-Landschaft
Somewhere near Häfelfingen
SOme say they’re weeds, but they’re so pretty!
After the dandelions, the path led back into the woods for a short distance, and in the middle of the trees we found the Wisenberg viewing tower. At around 25m tall, the top of viewing platform provides an amazing view over the trees. You can even see the Alps! (Although they were hard to capture with my camera. I did my best!).
Alps at the back!
I see fields of green… and yellow!
Basel is back there
Sun in my eyes… awful photo but on the other one my eyes are closed completely!
Back down from the tower, we left the woods again and walked past another farm. This next photo is the most Swiss thing ever…. green field, cows, Alps. All that’s missing is a bar of chocolate 😉
From there, we hiked past more farms, pretty flowers, lots of green and a few more animals until we reached Läufelfingen train station, where we had a beer (which I didn’t photograph) before taking the train back to Basel. Here are some photos from the last stage of our hike:
In Wisen, I think
Now the tourist information part: the total hiking time was roughly 3 hours and 40 minutes. We took just over 4 hours from start to finish, including all the photo stops. You can also take a bus to Wisen and walk up to the tower from there, which will take about an hour.
Today’s entry for Monday Escapes actually was an escape… from the rain! We had originally considered maybe going hiking at the weekend, but Jan had a cold and didn’t really think he was up for it. With the weather forecasters predicting rain, rain and more rain, hiking was off anyway, so on Sunday we decided to take a trip to Kerzers Papiliorama (Saturday involved a spontaneous trip to Mulhouse, but I’ll tell you about that some other time).
Those of you who speak even a tiny bit of French will probably have already guessed what our day involved: Papillon = butterfly! yes, it’s a butterfly house (just outside the town of Kerzers in region Fribourg, in case you were wondering about the rest). But it’s not just a butterfly house – our first stop was in the nocternal area, where we saw very active porcupines (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one doing anything but just lie around before!), owl monkeys and sloths – no photos were allowed in that bit so I have none for you. Just inside the entrance there was an enclosure with Goeldi’s marmosets and birds (photos below this paragraph) and outside there was a petting zoo. Also, there was a jungle trail, which I’ll get to later.
I don’t remember what this bird is…
Check out my pretty blue breast!
Om, nom, nom!
Obviously, the main thing we had come for was the butterflies, so after going through the nocturnal area and watching the marmosets being fed, it was off to butterfly land! Isn’t there some quote about butterflies being flowers with wings? Something like that. It’s a pretty accurate description, anyway. And even though a lot of the butterflies wouldn’t stay still for long enough to allow photos, I did manage to get a few good ones. Here you are:
Orange butterfly… no idea of species!
Blue Morpho? Maybe?
By the way, I uploaded all the photos in this post straight from my memory card without bothering to edit, because I’m lazy like that. I did at least filter out the horribly blurry ones though. Here, have more butterflies:
Blue and orange butterfly
I wish I’d taken a photo of the information board now because I can no longer remember the names of most of the species (except the owl butterfly!) and googling doesn’t actually help. Oh well, have another photo just because I thought this was a really cool/unusual perspective:
OK, now I’ve overloaded you with photos of butterflies, let’s move on to the jungle trail. The Papiliorama supports/helped set up a nature reserve in Belize, and the junge trail is an exact replica of said nature reserve in small. There are a few animals in enclosures in there and then birds flying around loose (and also lizards roaming around loose, but we didn’t see any – just a sign saying “stair-climbing iguanas have right of way”). The absolute best thing about the nature trail though…. toucans!! Just flying around freely – one was sitting on the fence near where we came in, and he was so close that I could have reached out and stroked him. Obviously I wouldn’t because I don’t fancy having my fingers bitten off, but still SO COOL! I love toucans!! Here, have a few photos from the jungle trail, i.e. mainly photos of TOUCANS!!
Pigeon, Belize style!
Just look how close he is to that girl’s arm!
Yay colouful beak!
Fluffy ant-eating thingy
Toucan with a grape
In case you hadn’t noticed, I love toucans!! This love stems almost entirely from a book I had as a kid called “Two Can, Toucan” which basically tells the story of how the toucan got his colouful beak by spilling two cans of paint all over himself. Because obviously (I am sooo buying that book for my future kids by the way).
There was also a little bat cave in the jungle trail area. The sign outside said “no flash photography”, but non-flash photography is basically impossible, so this is the best I could do:
Yeah, pretty pointless. Never mind! (I also took a video but I think that might be a bit much for this post…)
Once we were done with the jungle trail, we headed outside to the petting zoo. It was feeding time for the ducks and pigs, and a bunch of goats were following the person doing the feeding everywhere trying to get some, then eating the duck food right out of the water. It was pretty amusing to watch. Also, they had some very pretty chickens – Appenzell something or others (sorry, I’m terrible at this being informative business!). Here, the final batch of photos:
Ducks knowit’s feeding time!
Give us some… we’re hungry too!
Aww, sleepy baby goat!
Oh my gosh, so many goat photos! I do apologise (and that’s not even all of them. I don’t know. I have no excuse…).
We got a RailAway special deal, which give us 20% off our rail fare if we bought the entrance ticket and rail tickets together from SBB. From Basel to Kerzers Papiliorama (it has its own stop) took us just under 2 hours, with one change in Bern. We arrived at around 1 p.m. and took the 4:50 p.m. train home, so we managed to spend quite a bit of time there. Obviously being a rainy Sunday there were a lot of children around, but the place was big/spead out enough that we didn’t feel as though we were constantly falling over small people. So, to sum up, I can recommend! The entrance fee for adults is CHF 18 (sorry, I didn’t check the children’s price).
While going through some photos that were still on my camera, I realised I hadn’t uploaded these ones from Karlsruhe zoo yet. The week before I left for good, Jan and I went with some friends to say a final goodbye to the animals. The red pandas in particular, of course. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for a stroll around the zoo. Here are a few impressions from our afternoon out:
Hippo keeping cool in the water
So much more graceful in water!
Waiting for a bit of fish
Sleeping in the sun
A separate gallery for my favourite little pandas 🙂 You’re going to want to click on some of these to enlarge then. Trust me!!
Ball of fur
Look at it’s little faaaace!
Some more animals, including the dwarf otters that sound exactly like squeaky dog toys!
I know there are mixed opinions about zoos, and I do feel a bit guilty seeing the animals behind bars, but in the end the chance to actually see such animals (even if it is caged in) always wins. I just love their little faces too much to resist. Sorry if you think that makes me a bad person.
My brother left this morning, so now I can get back to my regular blogging. I’m so behind on the things I wanted to write about! So now I shall go back in time to the end of June and continue where I left off with Vienna…
On our second to last day in Vienna, we decided to head to the Schönbrunn area. Schönbrunn is the name of the palace, but that wasn’t what we wanted to see! Our first stop was the zoo, called Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Tiergarten is an alternative German word for zoo, and literally means animal garden). It’s the oldest zoo in the world that’s still open, having started as an imperial menagier in 1752, and as far as zoos go, it’s a really nice one. They have both red and giant pandas, rhinos and, most excitingly, a tropical forest house with flying foxes! Also known as megabats, these are right up there among my favourite animals ever! Those of you who don’t like the idea of animals being locked away in cages should look away now. For the rest of you, here are some animals to admire. Our first stop involved reptiles and sea creatures.
Is it just me, or is this starfish dancing?
I spent ages standing in front of a giant fish tank trying to get a photo of one specific fish. Eventually Jan managed to get one for me. It’s not the best of photos cos that damn fish was fast and also seemed to be the only one of its kind (there were millions of the plain yellow ones), which meant catching it while it was actually in sight was difficult, but hopefully you’ll be able to see why I was so excited by it… (hint: I’m not talking about the blue fish!)
Not sure whether you can tell, but the fish in the middle has a yellow body with a red and black striped fin. I have no idea what kind of fish it really is, but it doesn’t matter – to me, it will forever be Germany fish!
After leaving the acquarium/reptile area, we wandered around looking at some of the animals who were in their outdoor areas. There were various babies among them, including elephants, a young giant panda and even baby mongeese! Also, if you click on the flamingo picture to make it bigger, you should be able to spot some young (not really baby any more) flamingos. They fascinated me because I had never seen a flamingo that wasn’t fully grown (and pink!) yet.
Flamingos… can you spot the babies?
Baby mongoose!! Awwww.
Aww, look at the baby!
Cool.. but I wouldn’t want one crawling on me!
Next stop: Tropical house. It was warm in there… and humid (well duh!). There was even a sign outside warning people of that. It was well worth it though, because flying foxes! (Flughunde in German – literally flying dogs). I’d never seen one before, and now I want to see one up close. Way too cool! There were also various tropical birds in there and some cool frogs – some of them were so shiny they looked almost plastic!
Real frogs that look fake!
There’s a bird in this tree… can you spot it?
After leaving the tropical bit, there was a kind og walk through the woods over bridges. Below the bridges there was a huge crater, which the information said was from where a bomb had hit the zoo during World War 2! Then, in the wooded area after the bridges, came bees! Mostly there was just a huge information board explaining the lifecycle of bees, how a bee hive works, etc. The actual hives were mainly behind in an area you couldn’t get to, but in some places there were glass panels where you could see in. It was incredibly difficult to take a photo of the bees, but I tried! And I then also had to take a photo of one of the items in the small play area nearby, because that too was a bee! I may have got a little overexcited…
Just past the bees, we came past a little girl and (presumably) her grandfather. Grandad was reading while the little girl stood near him with a bag of buts. As we went by, we saw a squirrel come running up to the girl, whol held out a nut. The squirrel then took said nut right from her hand before running back into the trees to bury it, then running back, getting a new nut and burying that one in a different place. Watching the squirrel and attempting to get photos must have kept us occupied for a good five minutes!
Fiiinally moving on, we ended our trip to the zoo with a visit to the penguins and the polar bears.
Swimming polar bear
After the zoo, we stayed in the Schönbrunn area. I had seen on the map that there was a section of the grounds labelled “Mazes and labyrinths” and I really wanted to go and check them out! First up was a simple maze where you just had to find a viewing platform. There were two entrances next to each other, so Jan and I decided to take an entrance each and see who could find the platform first. I won! 😉
Next was a labyrinth containing various activities (for want of a better word)… a square of rectangles that could be stood on to make music, a kind of pump to spray water and a kaleidoscope of mirrors. A second labyrinth had a pole with a bell a top (which I failed to climb) and a mathematical puzzle that kept us occupied for far too long! At only €3.50 for an adult it was certainly worth the entrance fee 🙂
We were forced to leave the maths puzzle unfinished when it was time to leave (well, we managed the simple version at least…), so we headed into town to watch the Germany vs USA match. Then we decided to have dinner at a place that our Dialog im Dunkeln guide had recommended – Jonathan and Sieglinde. Everything on the menu involves Äpfel or Erdäpfel – apples or potatoes (Erdapfel, literally earth apple, being the Austrian word for potato). Since potatoes are one of my absolute favourite meals, this was right up my street! I chose the baked potato with a spinach sauce, and it was positively green! Jan went for potato and wild garlic pancakes. I tried a bit of one, and let me tell you it was delicious! Of course, we both had to drink fresh apple juice. There were so many tasty looking things on the menu… if I’m ever back in Vienna I definitely have to go there again!
And thus concludes our penultimate day in Vienna, and my June 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.
I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award again! Many thanks to The Erlangen Expat. Go and check out her blog and read all about the expat life (much more than you’ll ever find here, anyway). I especially like her post “My life is not a holiday…” YES! Take note, people who have never left their home country… life abroad is far from being one big holiday! We do have to work in our chosen countries of residence, you know! (And shop and clean and deal with Internet providers…)
The Versatile Blogger Award is given to blogs that are considered to have a good quality of writing, a level of love displayed in their posts, good photography, and for the uniqueness of their posts.
In order to accept this award, you have to –
Thank the person who nominated you for this award
Link to the persons blog
Nominate 15 people for this award and let them know you’ve nominated them
Write 7 facts about yourself
15 is a lot, especially considering I’ve given out this award before. Eeep! Please, nobody be annoyed at being tagged. You don’t actually have to do it if you don’t want to! Here are my nominees:
And that’s it. Yes, I know I’ve only nominated 10 bloggers, but so many of the others I would have chosen have been nominated already. *Sigh*. Anyway… now I’m supposed to give you seven facts about myself. SEVEN! Do you know how difficult that is, especially considering I basically put everything about myself on the blog anyway. *Sigh* Okay, here goes… I do apologise if you’ve read any of this before…
I used to be able to quote the film The Lion King by heart thanks to my younger brother. I still know most of the songs and can quote huge chunks of the text. Luckily it’s actually a good film!
I would eat potatoes every day if peeling and chopping them wasn’t so annoying.
I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate… I might think I’m only going to eat a square or two, but before I know it half the bar is gone.
I would love a pet, but the idea of having to clean out a cage (or cat litter tray) all the time puts me off, so the only animal I would consider is a dog… I can take them outside to do their business! (Yes, there might be accidents, but that would be one off cleaning, not All. The. Time. Yes, I’m lazy…)
I only started using a smartphone last year (and it’s a BlackBerry which some would say isn’t even a real smartphone). Before that, I used my old dumb Nokia mobile for 10 years. I still would be using it if it hadn’t got soaked in Ireland and stopped working properly.
I will only drink coke if it’s mixed with alcohol (vodka, Bacardi, Tia Maria…). I can’t stand the taste of pure coke.
I’m a quick reader and usually have up to 4 books on the go at one time. One of those is usually something non-fiction… the only exception to the quickness. I take forever to get through most non-fiction books, even if I actually find them interesting. I presume it’s because there’s no story for me to get involved in.
Phew, made it! Sorry if I’ve bored you, but nobody said my facts had to be interesting… just random 😉