Yorkshire Sculpture Park and “Wave”

Months before we had even booked our flights to England, Jan and I had decided to hire a car while we were over there this time – party to give us a bit of freedom from relying on other people/buses, but also so we could go away by ourselves for a few days. This was my first holiday since New Year and I wanted us to have at least some time to ourselves! Much as I love my family, visiting them doesn’t count as a “real” holiday for me. We had discussed a few options for where to go, but when I saw an article about a part of the poppies exhibition from the Tower of London was visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park and would be there while we were over the decision was instantly made for me. I was disappointed not to get to see the poppies in London so I knew I had to see them in Yorkshire. Luckily Jan agreed – since he’s the driver forcing the issue might have been a bit difficult 😉

While we were driving down to Yorkshire, it started raining heavily, as in can barely see through the windscreen heavily! It calmed down a little afer a bit, and  after we stopped at Woolley Edge Services for food and coffee (or chai latte in my case) it had slowed to a mere drizzle. It still made for a rather damp visit to the park, but the gorgeous autumn colours at least partially made up for that. And also being a rainy Monday in October meant it wasn’t as crowded as it might have been 😉

As soon as we entered the park, we saw signs for Wave, but there are plenty of other things to see on the way there. Some sculptures were more interesting than others (and some were just downright weird!). Here are a few of my favourites:

I guessed as soon as I saw this next sculpture that it was by Nike de Saint Phalle, even though it’s not her usual style – the colours fit, but her “people” are normally less recognisable for what they are.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There’s a country house in the middle of the park, Bretton Hall. Apparently at one point it was used as a college and the latest plan is to turn it into a hotel.

By the way, that metal slab on the right-hand photo is one of the sculptures. Told you some of them were odd!

Finally, we reached the main attraction and let me tell you it was worth the wait!First we went into a little hut where there were copies of poems about WW1 on the wall and a notice board where people could put their tributes to people who had fought or died in the war, plus a giant window to catch your first glimpse of the bridge where the sculpture was dsiplayed, then it was on to the sculpture itself. I may have gone overboard taking photos – this isn’t even all of them!

We walked all the way up to the Longside Gallery (through a field of cows, but no sculptures!) only to find that the current exhibition is very modern-arty and not that interesting. Random sculptures that even I could have made! Then we took the free shuttle bus back down to the main park and had a look at the last remaining sculptures.

Overall, we were there for about 3 and a half hours, including a stop at the end for a cuppa and some cake. If it hadn’t been such a miserable day, we could probably have taken even more time walking around! Parking costs 8 pounds for the entire day but entrance to the park is free, so I think it’s worth it (especially if you have a car full!). There are also buses from Barnsely and Wakefield that stop directly outside the park if paying for parking bothers you.

Even with the rain we had a good time and the poppies definitely met my expectations. The “Wave” sculpture is there until 10th January 2016 if you want to visit it, but otherwise the park is a great place for a day out in the fresh air at any time.

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. For more information and to join in click the button below.

Packing my Suitcase

Tinguely Museum, Basel

The Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely was born in Fribourg but grew up in the Gundeldingen area of Basel (before moving to France in 1952), so obviously the people of Basel like him a lot. He has his very own fountain on Theaterplatz (Theatre Square) and also has a museum in Basel. As we had a friend visiting this weekend and yesterday was supposed to be rainy (which ended up being a lie!) we decided to go to the Tinguely museum. Jean Tinguely is best known for his mechanical, moving sculptures, known officially as metamechanics. I would show you a video of a fountain that was outside the museum (you were allowed to take photos inside the museum without a flash, but not videos – although it didn’t say no filming anywhere so I did make one video before being told off my a member of staff. Oops!), but it’s in a format that WordPress doesn’t accept so… sorry! Here are some photos:

You get the idea, right?

Some of Tinguely’s works are really cool… others are weird or slightly disturbing. A few examples:

If you’re thinking all of those look cool it’s because I didn’t take photos of the really weird ones 😉

The machines in the following galleries are all drawing machines. There was one in the gift shop which you could purchase a token and a piece of paper for and then have it draw you your very own picture. I didn’t do one but we did see that machine in use while browsing in the shop.

Currently the museum is also exhibiting works by the Swiss artist Eva Aeppli in one of its rooms. Aeppli was married to Tinguely from 1951 to 1961 and died on 4 May 2015. I only took a photo of one of her sculptures… how creepy is this?

Tinguely museumIt’s called The Five Widows.

My favourite thing in the whole museum was this sculpture that you were allowed to climb on. Parts of it also moved.

I was disappointed that the spiral staircase was off-limits!

Tinguely’s sculptures are not exactly what you’d call “classical” art, and neither are they particularly, pretty/decorative, but they’re definitely interesting! The museum is a great place to spend an afternoon, and I imagine children would like the moving sculptures as well (even though you’re not allowed to touch!). I really enjoyed our visit to the museum and will definitely take future visitors there.

I’m linking this post up with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase for Monday Escapes. Click the button to find out more!

My Travel Monkey

Kerzers Papiliorama

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.

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:

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:

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:

Butterfly front view
Butterfly front view

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!!

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:

Bats
Bats

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:

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).

This has been a ridiculously long blog post for Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing my Suitcase, except this time if you want to link up you have to do so on Mummy Travels as one of the usual hosts is away.

Phew, I really don’t know how to make a long story short, do I?

Packing my Suitcase

Olten Street Food Festival

I’ve mentioned the Olten Street Food Festival on my blog before because it happened to take place on June’s photo an hour day. However, I also meant to write a full post dedicated to the festival and Olten, and that hasn’t happened yet. There’s another Monday Escapes linkup happening today, so it seemed like a good opportunity.

Olten is only about half an hour from Basel by regional or inter-city train (faster by ICE – express train – but more expensive), but it’s already in another canton, namely Solothurn, and some of its surrounding towns are in another one again – Aargau. The town, which has a population of roughly 17,300, is located on the River Aare.

The food festival was taking place in Kirchgasse and Baslerstrasse. On the way there, we admired the streets of the old town.

Before deciding what to eat, we had a walk around the festival to see what was on offer. It wasn’t particularly large, but there was still quite a range of foods! Quite a lot of Indian stands, but also Japanese, Argentinian and Italian, just to give a few examples. And, of course, there was raclette!

Finally, we decided to start with something “local” – there was a stand offering tiny burgers (just the right size to be able to fit more food in afterwards!) and proudly proclaiming that the beef was from happy, Swiss cows.

The choice was a good one – the burgers were delicious! Tasty beef and yummy melted Swiss cheese.
Next up was a Columbian/Venzeuelan speciality – Arepas, corn bread with various fillings! Jan chose a vegetarian one with black beans and cheese while I went for chicken, which also came with cheese. It tasted a bit like the enchilada fillings you get in Mexican restaurants, but less spicy. Very tasty though! We had to wait a while for our order to be finished, so while I queued and Jan fetched drinks, the camera came back out 😉

As you might have noticed from the photos, it was a bit of a weird weather day. One minute it was bright sunshine, like in the photos above, the next it was cold and chucking it down, only to clear up again and become far too hot for rain coats 10 minutes later!

From one South-American cuisine to the next… we were getting quite full by this point, but we decided we still had time for a little Coxhina from a small Brazilian stand. This time, Jan chose chicken and I went for beef. Jan’s was delicious and mine had a nice flavour but unfortunately was still slightly cold inside. The filling was precooked though (they just reheated them at the stand), so I ate it anyway.

CoxinhaAt that point, Jan decided he would like a coffee and I remembered seeing a sign for Turkish coffee at the entrance to the festival, so we headed to the Turkish stand. I chose a homemade lemonade, as I’m not a fan of Turkish coffee. The stall owner tried really hard to get us to also take one of his pastries, so we chose a pistachio-filled one to share.

The lemonade was lovely and refreshing and the pastry was not too sweet.
Having done enough eating for the day, we decided to have a walk around the rest of Olten while we were there. The old ton area is pretty but fairly small. Outside the old town, the buildings aren’t quite as nice, but the entire town is surrounded by mountains and greenness – a description that could apply to anywhere in Switzerland really 😉

Once we were back at the river, we were also almost back at the train station. With no room inside for more food, we decided to take the next train home. All in all, it was a lovely afternoon out and after reading so many other bloggers’ accounts of food festivals I was happy to finally get one of my own to try! There are more street food festivals planned by the same company for Lucerne (7-9 August 2015) and Berne (14-15 August 2015) and I’ve just read about another one in Solothurn (the city that gives the canton its name), which is taking place on 29 and 30 Augzst 2015, so hopefully I’ll make it to another one this summer!

Have you been to a street food festival? What would you have chosen to eat if you’d been in Olten with us? Let me know in the comments! And if you’ve got a travel tale for Monday Escapes, click the button below.

My Travel Monkey

Hiking from Sissach to Liestal

I will get Saturday’s photo an hour post up soon, but first it’s time for another Monday Escape with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey

Jan has been determined to go hiking since we arrived in Basel, so a few weekends ago we did just that. I found a route that started in Sissach (about 20 minutes train ride away) and ended in Liestal, the capital of the half canton Basellandschaft (the capital of Basel-Stadt is, of course, Basel itself). Warning: another long, photo-heavy post ahead… the scenery is just too beautiful to resist!

The first part of the route took us from Sissach train station up to the Sissacher Fluh (a Fluh, sometimes spelled Flüh or Flue, is a rock face or cliff). That part was the steepest climb and took us about an hour.

The view from the top was well worth the climb!

You could even see Basel from up there (you can tell it’s Basel by the wedge-shaped building):

There’s a restaurant at the top, also named Sissacher Fluh. We stopped there for a cool drink and some lunch, and decided to share the Fluh platter which looked like this:

Sissacher FluhIt also came with delicious bread.

After lunch, it was time to head back down the other side of the hill. There was a kind of sculpture trail set up on the hillside, which was mostly weird and a bit pointless, but there was on sculpture I really liked:

Those of you who are connected with Confuzzledom on Facebook may have noticed that one of the moles is the new profile picture for the page. The title of the sculpture was something about politicians and looking to the future (obviously a play on the fact that moles are practically blind and can’t see very far).

This part of the route led from the Sissacher Fluh to the village of Hersberg, past another village called Nusshof. Have some more pictures:

In Hersberg, we saw some horses and stopped to refill our water bottle.

Next it was on through the woods and up the hill to Schleifenberg, which meant another hour of hiking.

Finally, we reached the top of the Schleifenberg, where there’s a viewing tower. The tower is 30m high, and after climbing up the first few levels you find yourself coming out of the trees to spectacular views. It costs 50 rappen to get into the tower and no change is given so make sure you have a 1/2 franc piece on you! Trust me, you are not going to want to miss these views! My camera could not do it justice at all – partly because it can’t cope with clouds, but mostly because it just can’t see as far as my eyes can!

Directly below us, at the base of the Schleifenberg, we could see our destination – Liestal. We still had just under an hour of walking to go before we got there though, so we decided to stop for a quick drink. We had a beer each and watched some bug (beetle?) that was crawling around the picnic bench.

On the way back down to Liestal, we came across more wildlife: hornets, a snake and a lizard (who I didn’t manage to get a photo of before he ran away):

Jan took the final hornet picture here – I wasn’t willing to get that close!

Finally, just as we were about to leave the woods and enter Liestal, we spotted a very interesting looking tree…

LiestalI don’t know how well you can see, but the roots form a kind of cave under the earth above. I actually had my photo taken inside, but it’s on Jan’s phone so I can’t access it now.
Then, just after seeing the tree, we finally reached the outskirts of Liestal.

First glimpse of Liestal
First glimpse of Liestal

With a population of just over 14,000, although it’s the capital of Basellandschaft, Liestal is not exactly large. It’s an industrial town, but it has a very pretty old town centre, which we walked around for a while.

There are three museums in Liestal (the cantonal museum for Basellandschaft, a town museum for Liestal and an organ museum), but being late afternoon on a Saturday in a small town, all of them were closed – as were the shops. By that time we were tired out from our long hike (13 km, in case anyone was wondering) so we left Liestal and took the train back home. My leg muscles hated me the next morning, but it was worth it for the gorgeous we saw along the way. I still can’t believe all of this is literally on my doorstep!

My Travel Monkey

Mount Pilatus and Luzern

DSCN150523-25 May saw yet another long weekend – the final one for a while – this time for Pfingsten (Whit sun or Pentecost). We decided to make use of the time off and nice weather and take another day trip. We chose Mount Pilatus in the canton of Luzern (or Lucerne) because Jan wanted to go up somewhere high where he could get a good view. Unfortunately for him, the top of the mountain was actually in the clouds 😉 Mount Pilatus is home to the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, so we decided to buy a ticket for a circular route which involved a train from Luzern to Alpnachstad, the trip up the mountain with the cogwheel railway, back down the mountain via cable car to Kriens (a neighbouring town of Luzern) and then a bus back to Luzern proper.

On the way up, there were some lovely views of the surrounding countryside and the mountain we were on.

Down on the ground, it had been a gorgeous sunny day, but the higher the little train climbed the colder it got, until eventually we saw snow.

As I mentioned, up at the top we mostly saw cloud, and most of the routes were blocked because of the snow. However, what we did see were birds. I’m pretty sure they’re a type of crow (my friend looked them up after seeing one of my photos and they appear to be an Alpine chough or yellow-billed chough). There were loads of them hovering around, sitting on the railings and trying to get people to feed them scraps – it was like gulls at the beach, but less noisy and prettier.

At some point, the cloud below cleared slightly and we were able to see some of what was back down the mountain – there still wasn’t much of a view, but it was certainly an improvement! I also attempted to take a few photos of the cogwheel trains heading back down, but my camera just couldn’t do justice to the steepness.

Since there was nowhere to walk to and we’d seen everything we could, we decided to head back down with the next cable car. First of all, a large cable car took us down to Fräkmüntegg. There’s a restaurant at that stop and a rope park. Photos taken through glass are never the best, but have a few of the view from the cable car anyway:

From Fräkmuntegg, smaller gondolas take you back down to Kriens at the base of the mountain. They also stop at Krienseregg, where the map says there’s a children’s play area, but we didn’t get out there. Here, have some views from that cable car. Actually, the route went through the trees, so what you’re really getting is a bunch of pictures of trees with the occasional view when a gap between them allowed us to see something!

On arriving in Kriens, we walked the five minutes to the bus stop then took the number 1 back to Luzern. It was still fairly early, so we decided to have a wander around there. We’d been before when I was living in Austria, but other than the wooden bridge, the town hall clock and the city walls neither of us remembered much. We tried to find the restaurant we ate at back then – where I tried cheese fondue for the first time – but either it’s closed down or we have no idea where it actually was. What I did remember is that the lake is beautiful, and I wasn’t wrong! Also, swans. Last time we were there I remember seeing a swan building a nest. This time, they were just swimming around. We also decided to stop for a beer before heading back to the train, which we did at the Rathaus restaurant. The beer there was pretty tasty.

Fun fact – although the lake is just called Lake Lucerne in English, its German name is Vierwaldstättersee, which means Lake of the Four Forested Cantons. The original Drei Waldstätten (three forested cantons) were Uri, Schwyz and Unterwald – the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy (basically the original Switzerland). They were joined by Luzern in 1332 and that’s where the lake got its name. End of today’s Swiss history lesson 😉

Luzern is an absolutely gorgeous city and well worth a visit by itself. And if you’ve got a little more time I would definitely recommend the trip up Mount Pilatus. Hopefully you’ll pick a day with less cloud at the top 😉

*I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. You can join in here.*

Packing my Suitcase