A Photo an Hour: 29 October 2016

Yesterday was photo an hour day again, hosted as usual by JaneJane and Louisa. Here’s what I got up to on the last Saturday of October:

10 a.m. Tea in a cup that talks about coffee. Such a rebel!

11 a.m. Trying to find the right cross stitch thread. What colour is “straw” anyway?

12 noon. Getting dressed.. my tights have pumpkins on them! ÔŁĄ

1 p.m. Jan got up, so I put the kettle on again.

2 p.m. Back stitch time! How cute is that tree?

3 p.m. I was ready but Jan still needed to iron his shirt. If you look closely you can see me reflected in the iron.

4 p.m. Finally at the autumn fair!

5 p.m. Food at the fair. It’s little pasta “horns” with mince , covered in raclette cheese (it tasted nicer than it looks!)

6 p.m. Jan went off for his pre-concert rehearsal and I did a bit of shopping.

7 p.m. After dropping the shopping off at home, I was out again almost immediately. By 7 p.m. I was at the church, where the choir was still rehearsing.

No 8 p.m. photo since I didn’t want to whip my camera out in the middle of the concert, sooo…

9 p.m. Leaving the church after the concert. Sorry about the awful quality of the photo!

10 p.m. A friend invited us round for a beer after the concert since he lives close to the church (yes, I have a friend in Basel!!)

11 p.m. More beer, but now in a bar

12 midnight. Waiting for a tram home.

Back home, I drank some water, brushed my teeth and went to bed, all before the next hour came around. I couldn’t have taken another photo anyway… symmetry must be preserved ­čśë

How was your Saturday?

 

A Photo an Hour: 24th September 2016

Saturday was another photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa, and unlike August’s incredibly boring day, it turned out to be quite a busy one.

8.30 a.m. Has a photo an hour ever started so early? Tea is definitely needed this morning!

9.30 a.m. Cross stitching while waiting to see whether Jan is going to get up so we can go through with our plans for the morning…

10.30 a.m. Ready to leave at the exact time we had said we would! (Jan was in the shower at this point, despite being the one to suggest the time). Photo taken free-hand without being able to see what I was doing! The first few attempts mostly contained the mess in the background and very little hair slide ­čśë

11.30 a.m. Queuing for a crepe at the Spalenberg brunch (all the shops in one area had little food and drink items so people could put a “brunch” together for themselves)

12.30 p.m. We gave up on the brunch after Jan almost got guilted into buying a shirt and bought something from a baker’s instead. This is an apple, cinnamon and hazelnut “snail”

1.30 p.m. Hanging out at the park for a while until it’s time to meet some people from Jan’s choir for a tour.

2.30 p.m. Having a tour of an organ. We got to go inside and see all the pipes, etc. and how it’s tuned.

3.30 p.m. On the way back into town to go to a museum

4.30 p.m. There was a special exhibition at the Pharmazie Historisches Museum (Pharamcy Museum) for Erasmus year that we had been meaning to go and see and Saturday was the last day. The above picture is part of the ordinary exhibition.

5.30 p.m. Enjoying the early evening sun down by the river… hanging out with the ducks.

6.30 p.m Time for some food! Yes, I know that’s beer. Food was ordered but hadn’t yet arrived.

7.30 p.m. Off to the cinema! We watched a series of short films focussing on disability as part of a film festival.

No photos for 8.30 and 9.30 since I was in the cinema!

10.30 p.m. A quick beer before heading home.

11.30 p.m. Home! These are my keys in the bowl where they live.

After that I went to bed. No more photos would have been possible anyway… the symmetry must be maintained ­čśë

How was your Saturday?

Views from the top of Basel cathedral

Apparently after posting every single day the week before last I was slightly burned out, hence no post at all last week! We also had Jan’s dad staying this weekend so there wasn’t really time for the blogosphere. I promise to come and read everyone’s blogs soon though!

The day after we went to the Rhine Falls with my mum and brother, I took them to Mariastein Abbey and the ruins of the Landskron castle. My photos from that day aren’t much different to the ones here though, so I will move straight on to July when Jan’s mum and her partner were visiting. We decided to climb up the tower of Basel Cathedral, which I hadn’t even known was possible until then! It was a gorgeous sunny day, which made for some great views:

The red tower in the last picture is part of the town hall (Rathaus) and the interesting looking roof at the front is the Museum der Kulturen (Museum of Cultures).

It was nice to see the roof of the cathedral up close – I think it’s really pretty!

Finally, some photos of the gargoyles. They always amuse me ­čÖé

And once again I was left thinking “Wow, I actually live here!”.

The two towers of Basel Cathedral – Georgsturm and Martinsturm – can be climbed any time that the cathedral is open for a fee of 5 francs (payable at the information desk).

Two castles and a cathedral

On Saturday the sun was shining for the first time in what felt like weeks, so we thought we’d better make the most of it and go out for the afternoon (and it’s a good job we did – on Sunday the rain was back!).

I suggested that we could take a trip to Arlesheim in Basel-Landschaft to see the cathedral, which is famous for being the only “Dom” in Switzerland. For those who don’t speak German, I shall explain. Dom means cathedral, and the one in Arlesheim certainly isn’t the only cathedral in Switzerland, but the others are either called Kathedrale – as in the Kathedrale St. Mari├Ą Himmelfahrt in Chur – or M├╝nster (minster), such as the Basler M├╝nster (Basel Minster). Not that I’ve personally ever understood the difference between a minster and a cathedral even in English, but there you have it!

DSCN5312

Arlesheim is a cute little village – well, of course it’s cute, this is Switzerland! I’ve yet to see a village that isn’t cute! The cathedral itself is also kind of cute – it doesn’t look big enough to be a cathedral! But I suppose size isn’t a criterion. I felt kind of bad taking photos inside because everyone else in there seemed to actually be praying. It didn’t stop me though… I just tried to take my photos respectfully.

After visiting the cathedral, which obviously didn’t take long, we decided to try and find a castle that we had spotted from the tram on the way to Arlesheim. It turned out to be very close to the village, at the top of a hill. To get there, we had to walk through the Erimitage (Hermitage), which you would expect to be some kind of religious building where hermits went to be along, but in this case is actually a landscaped garden. Apparently the original garden, which was destroyed, contained things like a suspension bridge, artificial tower ruins and a waterfall. These days, it’s basically a hill with steps that lead through various caves. It still looks pretty cool though!

The castle turned out to be Schloss Birseck. We couldn’t go inside because it’s not open yet (and wouldn’t have been on a Saturday anyway). The opening times are May to October on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

The Birs, by the way, is a small river – a tributary to the Rhine – and Eck (or Ecke) means corner. So presumably the castle is in a corner of the Birs. There’s also an area of Basel called Birsfelden, meaning Birs Fields.

Across the road from Schloss Birseck, we saw a sign pointing to Burg Reichenstein, another castle. After about a 10 minute walk – during which I very much regretted my choice of thick tights and a winter coat (the temperature was more like mid-September than early-February!) – we found this second castle.

A sign on the gate told us that a private function was currently in progress at the castle and only invited guests were allowed in, so after taking some photos of the outside we headed back down the hill via a different route, this time through the woods. My research tells me that, while you can book the castle for events, it’s not generally open to the public. There is a picnic area beside the castle with a public grill for barbecues – you just bring your own meat and (I presume) coal!

On a sunny day, Arlesheim and its surrounding castles are well worth a visit, and there’s even the option of taking a slightly longer walk (about 30-40 minutes) through the woods to visit a third castle – the ruins of Schloss Dorneck in nearby Dornach. In fact, I might even suggest that to Jan as a hike for us at some point…

Okay, that’s enough advertising Basel-Landschaft as a tourist destination for one day ­čśë It’s time for lunch!

Laufen, Basel-Landschaft

Last month we decided to go and watch a choir perform at a church in Laufen, which just happens to be the nearest town to where Jan works. I’d never actually been there before, so I jumped at the chance to see where he walks most mornings (sometimes he gets off the train in a neighbouring town since his work is between the two). Laufen is small (population just over 5,500) but it has a very pretty old town, and luckily we arrived for the concert before it got dark. Here are some photos:

The concert itself was in the Katharinenkirche (St Catherine’s Church). No matter what setting I put my camera on, I couldn’t managed to get a decent photo inside. Behold:

Grr, I should be able to use my camera by now!

There isn’t really a great deal to do in Laufen itself so you couldn’t really spend a whole day there, but various hiking routes pass by, start or end there – for example, you could start in Fl├╝h and finish in Laufen, ending your afternoon of hiking with a look around Laufen’s old town followed by a meal.

I’m linking this post up with Monday Escapes (and yes, I am aware that today is Tuesday!)

Packing my Suitcase

A walk to Mariastein Abbey and Landskron castle ruins

It’s time for another entry in my series of “persuade everyone that Switzerland is worth visiting” posts ­čśë

Before I came to Switzerland, I joined a meetup group for Basel. We’ve been to a couple of the meet ups, but have yet to really “click” with anyone in a manner that would lead to further meetings outside of the group. However, last time we were there, one of the other members suggested Mariastein Abbey as a good place for an afternoon out. When we decided to get out of the flat for a bit yesterday evening, we remembered this advice and decided to check out, so we hopped on a number 10 tram and headed off to Fl├╝h from where we walked the roughly half an hour to Mariastein (there’s also a bus if you don’t feel like the exercise). First, some photos from the walk up. Jan told me not to take the one of the garden full of gnomes, but how could I not?

Apparently, the Mariastein Abbey is the second most important pilgrimage site in Switzerland. People come from far and wide to worship there. Obviously we couldn’t go into the actual abbey since it’s full of monks, but the basilica is open to the public and the inside is gorgeous! There were so many little details that I just couldn’t stop taking photos! Apologies in advance for picture overload…

We decided to take a different route down, which took us into France. When we realised that the ruins of Landeskron castle – which we had seen a sign for on the way up – wouldn’t take us much out of our way, we decided to go there. The castle stands on the border between France and Switzerland and is owned by both countries. From the top, you can see Germany, France and Switzerland but don’t ask me which is where! The only thing I can reliably recognise is Basel (thanks to the Roche tower). The light was really too bright at the castle, so it was pretty much a case of keep changing settings, pointing, clicking and hoping for the best. I’m afraid I did rather a lot of clicking. What can I say… I love castle ruins! Again, I apologise for the number of photos. And believe me, this isn’t even all of them. I reluctantly narrowed them down for this post ­čśë

On the way back down from the top of the castle, I spotted some bees enjoying the flowers. Obviously I had to photograph them too!

We then walked back down to Fl├╝h via the woods, took a tram home and enjoyed a well deserved dinner!

There’s not a huge amount to do at either Mariastein or Landskron, but it was perfect for our requirements – a chance to stretch our legs and something interesting to look at along the way. The walk was fairly easy and I’d say most people could probably do it. There are a few restaurants next to the abbey where you could stop for something to eat or drink, or you could stop for refreshments in Fl├╝h – it only took us about 15 minutes to get back down from Landskron.

And once again, I can’t believe such beauty is pretty much on my doorstep (although Fl├╝h is in canton Solothurn, so slightly less on my doorstep than other places).

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase. To see where everyone else’s travels are taken them this week and add your link, click the button below.

My Travel Monkey

A Photo an Hour: 21 February 2015

Yesterday I took part in A Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling? and Louisa from Duck in a Dress. Here are the results of my efforts.

11 a.m. A late start to the morning (but in my defence, I’d had a looong day the day before… and a long week for that matter!). First things first: a cup of tea is needed!

12 noon Doing a bit of cross stitch (actually, at this point I was unpicking. Yes, I messed up right at the beginning and had to start over)

1 p.m. A spot of lunch (brunch?) while looking for even more flat adverts to respond to. Jan took the tablet while I was fetching my camera and then wouldn’t give it back to me, so instead of a real estate website, you get a photo of my empty plate.

2 p.m. Wrapping a new home gift for a friend ready to take it to the post office.

3 p.m. Showered and dressed… aren’t my spotty tights fab?

4 p.m. Post office done, now to head home via the supermarket. I happened to be passing St Stephen’s Church at 4, and its chimes reminded me to take a photo so I decided it deserved to be the subject of said photo.

5 p.m. Time to wash some dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I was washing dishes from Thursday!

6 p.m. Sorting out some of my crafting supplies… a task that desperately needs doing so I can pack up the spare room read for the move.

7 p.m. Cracking some eggs to make omelets for tea.

8 p.m. Carrot and apple salad (it’s a German thing…)

9 p.m. (actually 9:30… I got distracted!). Cross stitching while watching TV.

11 p.m. I forgot to take a photo at 10! Not that it would have made much difference… still cross stitching. Working on the dreaded French knots of dooooom!

And actually forgetting to take a photo at 10 turned out quite well because it means I get to keep my symmetry. I went to bed after the news, which finished at 11:35, so there was no midnight photo.

So, that was my Saturday. Pretty boring! How was yours?

Zurich: the beginning

After several changes of plan, Jan and I eventually decided to spend New Year in Zurich. We booked a room at an IBIS hotel and travelled there on 29th December. After checking in and dumping our luggage, we went for a cheeky Burger King before heading into town for a first look at the sights. It was dark by that time and snow was falling… prefect for testing how good my new camera is in not the best conditions ­čśë

While we were walking around, we spotted a pub that had a quiz on that night, so after stopping for a beer elsewhere (Feldschl├Âsschen Amber is very tasty) we headed on over the the pub quiz. We didn’t do badly for only having 2 people, managing to come in the top 5.

The next day we went for a wander round Zurich, following a route that Jan had downloaded onto his phone. We started at the main train station, where a statue outside reminded us of why cities normally turn off their fountains in winter…

Then it was off down Bahnhofstrasse, along the River Limmat and up the hill until we reached Lindenhof, from where we had a view over the city.

 

Once we’d taken a few photos at Lindenhof and spent some time trying to catch perfect snowflakes, we headed back down the hill on the other side, passing St Peter’s Church and walking through some pretty streets before taking a break at the Spr├╝ngli cafe for delicious but expensive hot chocolate.

Once we’d finished our hot chocolate, we headed back out into the snow. Our next stop was the Fraum├╝nster church (literally “Lady’s Minster”). No photos were allowed inside, but here are some from outside:

After taking a look at the inside of the church with its famous stained-glass windows (by Marc Chagall), we walked down to Lake Zurich, which is where the fireworks would be the following night. A group of Asians were down there feeding bread to the gulls, which was quite a sight. So. Many. Gulls! There were also swans and ducks, including one very pretty green duck that I spent ages trying to get a photo of.

Once I finally managed to drag Jan away from the lake, we walked back along the river towards the Niederdorf, or old town, area and headed to the Grossm├╝nster (“Great Minster” – note that in normal German the church name would be spelled Gro├čm├╝nster, but there are no ess-zetts in Swiss German!). Again, no photos were allowed inside, but we climbed the tower and I was able to take some of Zurich from above.

Once we’d climbed back down from the tower, out tour was almost done. All that remained was a quick walk through the old town and a glimpse at the Rathaus (city hall) before our tour took us back to Bahnhofstrasse, where the Christmas lights had now been switched on. Then we decided to build a snowman on a wall next to the city police station. We named him Travis.

Snowman built and duly photographed, it was finally time for a break! We went back to the Niederdorf and found a small bar/restaurant where we treated ourselves to a beer and some cheese fondue… which I forgot to take a photo of because I’m a bad blogger!

And that’s (more than) enough for one blog post, so I’ll save New Year’s Eve for the next one.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Since we were going to be near water in Vienna, I was determined to go on a boat. Then we discovered that there are regular boats between Vienna and Bratislava… and Jan had never been to Slovakia (I’m pretty sure I was there with my grandparents on a European tour as a teenager, but it was only a stop for lunch and I remember literally nothing!).

On the advice of Steven, who had coincidentally been in Bratislava the day we met up with him, we decided to take the train there and the boat back. He also recommended a free walking tour (the kind where you give tips at the end), which he had taken and enjoyed. The tour was at 11 and we wanted to buy tickets for the boat back first so we decided to get the train at 8:20 a.m.! The train journey takes roughly an hour and, unsurprisingly, I slept most of the way! On arrival in Bratislava, the first thing we did was take a bus into town (public transport was included with our train ticket). It was immediately apparant that we weren’t in Austria any more:

Bratislava

To be fair to Bratislava, we did see some more modern looking buses driving around, but we managed to get on one of the old, shabby ones ­čśë It turned out we could have actually walked into town from the station, but whatever. We were there now, and it gave us plenty of time to find a bank, get some money out, purchase boat tickets and then find the square where the guide was supposed to be waiting. The tour was very interesting, but loooong (a little over 2 hours), especially in the hot sunshine. I tried to stand in the shade whenever I could, but it wasn’t always possible and I ended up sunburnt. *Sigh* On that same day, it was actually raining in Vienna ­čśë Here are some random photos I took on our walk around the city. The first few are from before we met our guide and the rest were taken during the walk (the statue of Hviezdoslav was the meeting point for the tour).

The second to last stop on the tour was my favourite! Apparantly the guides like to take groups there because otherwise no tourist will ever find it! Our guide kept telling us she was taking us the “the blue church”, and once we arrived we understood why:

She wasn’t lying about the blue! It’s real name is the Church of St Elisabeth (Kostol sv├Ątej Al┼żbety in Slovakian), and even though it looks like it might be Russian Orthodox, it isn’t (we asked). It’s actually a Catholic church, built in the Hungarian Art Noveau style. Next to it is a secondary school built in the same style (designed by the same architect)… our guide assured us that most schools in Slovakia, don’t like that, but more like the abandoned communist era hospital opposite the church… a horrid, spooky-looking concrete monstrosity (sorry, no picture).

I wish my school had looked like this!
I wish my school had looked like this!

After the walk, we wanted to go for lunch (and I desperately needed a drink, having finished my bottle of water about an hour earlier!). The tour guide had recommended a place along the route that was toruisty but inexpensive and with good food, so we and another German guy from the tour (who it turned out lives just down the road from Karlsruhe!) decided to go there. We were told to try Bryndzov├ę Halu┼íky, a type of potato dumpling with sheep’s cheese and bacon. Jan and I went for a sharing platter which included that, a dish with the same kind of potato dumpling but served in a cheesy Sauerkraut mixture and Bryndzov├ę pirohy, semi-circular dough pockets filled with the same sheep’s cheese. All very delicious! The bacon was extremely crispy, but also melted on the tongue.

Bratislava
It may not look like much for two people, but it was extremely filling!

By the time we’d found the restaurant again (we’d walked quite a bit after passing it), ordered and eaten our food, and paid the bill, time was getting on a bit, so we ended up heading straight for the boat without heading up to the castle or seeing the cathedral. According to our tour guide, we didn’t miss much not seeing the castle itself (apparantly it’s empty inside), but the view from up there is good. Oh well, some other time…
Our boat left Bratislava at 4 and took an hour and a half, leaving us with plenty of time to head back to the hotel, drop things off, grab the concert tickets and head out to see Pearl Jam…

**I am counting Vienna and Bratislava as my June 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.**

Vienna: Day two

Most of our second day in Vienna was spent at Dialog im Dunkeln, which I’ve already posted about, but I would now like to reiterate that it’s a really cool experience and you should give it a try if there’s one near you. (Also, we are now planning to visit the one in Frankfurt while my brother is here). Before we headed over there, we stopped at the station to buy train tickets for a day trip to Bratislava the next day. Once we’d done that, it turned out we still had some time left before our tour was due to start, so we popped into a church. I don’t remember the name of it…

We also had time to stop for a coffee, which I just had to take a photo of because art!! Having a pretty picture on your coffe may be an everyday occurrence for some, but it’s not something you see much of in Karlsruhe so I still get very excited about it.

Vienna

Once we’d done Dialog im Dunkeln, we decided to head to the Natural History Museum, stopping on the way for lunch. We ended up stopping at a cafe where we both had Mango Lassis to drink and ate the Indian Dal (spicy lentil soup).

Vienna

After walking for aaaages, we reached the Natural History Museum only to discover it was closed! We later found out that a lot of places had closed for the afternoon, although at that point we didn’t know why. The cute elephant outside the museum kind of made the wasted walk worth it:

Vienna

Next, we decided to try going to the butterfly house. On the way, we randomly discovered another exhibition, so we had a look at that. It was something to do with cables as art and featured a lot of extension plugs and wires, plus a weird video. I didn’t really get it…
By the time we reached the butterfly house, it was 5:30 p.m… 45 minutes after closing time. *Sigh* Since it seemed like museums were a lost cause, we decided to find somewhere to sit and watch the football instead, seeing as it was the day of England’s last match in the World Cup! (Yeah… we suck and didn’t make it past the group stage.) We found an Irish pub, where I drank Stiegl, a Salzburg beer.

As we were leaving the pub, we found out the reason for various things closing early… Putin was in town and there were various demonstrations/protests going on because of it. Here’s one that we saw for LBGT rights (I know there is sometimes a Q in there, too, but the sign we saw only had the four letters):

Vienna

We were both hungry by this time (even more so after watching people eating burgers and nachos at the Irish pub), so we went looking for something to eat. Jan found a brew-pub called Salm Br├Ąu that had good reviews on TripAdvisor, but mostly from tourists. It turned out to be an okay place, but not somewhere I would recommend. The food was nice but forgettable, and my beer mostly tasted of yeast. Jan had a dark beer, which I tried but can’t even remember what I thought of. Never mind, have a photo of our beers anyway:

Vienna

By the time we’d eaten, it was pretty late, so we decided to head back to the hotel. On the way, we passed some kind of monument/memorial with cyrillic writing on it that had been cordoned off earlier in the day. Jan was curious, so we went to have a look at it. It didn’t take me long to get bored with his attempts to interpret the cyrillic, so I turned my attention to the fountain opposite that was all lit up.

I also took a photo of it in green, but I think two photos of the smae fountain is enough for a blog post ­čśë
After I went back to Jan, a Russian couple came up to us and helped with the translation of the cyrillic so we could finally get on our way! ­čśë I wanted to get some sleep as we had an early planned the next day…
And that was Tuesday. Coming up next: A day in Bratislava, Slovakia.

*I am counting Vienna (and Bratislava) as my June trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge*