Travel Theme: Yellow

It’s been a while since I took part in one of Ailsa’s travel themes, so I thought it was about time I did another one. This time, the theme is yellow, so I thought I would start with some cheerful daffodils – one of my favourite flowers (along with poppies, but they’re not yellow).

daffodils

ObviouslyI had to get a lantern picture in somehow. 😉 This one was taken in Berlin.

Berlin lantern

I spotted this hot air balloon hovering over Karlsruhe a few years ago, and I just had to take a photo. Smile, everyone! (Coincidentally, the building it’s next to looks pretty yellow as well!)

balloon

Finally, a photo I’m particularly proud of… a night shot of Salzburg. I love the yellow (and red and blue and green) reflections of the lights in the water!

Salzburg by night

You only have today to get your entries in for the yellow theme – a new travel theme will be up tomorrow (Friday). But you should check out Ailsa’s yellow post anyway, if only for her seriously amazing photo of a goldfinch. And, of course, stop by her blog tomorrow to find out what the next travel theme is.

Travel theme: Through

Another week, another travel theme.
When I saw that Ailsa had chosen “Through” for this week, I immediately thought of a photo that would be just perfect. All I had to do was find it… and here it is:

Stockholm

It was taken in Stockholm, looking through the fork in a tree trunk towards the water and the buildings on the island beyond.

Looking at my other photos, I discovered some more taken with a “through” perspective. I’ve posted the next one before, but it’s very fitting. It was taken from the Hohensalzburg fortress, looking through a window at the city below.

Hohensalzburg

Next up, a photo from my home country. It was taken in Alnwick, Northumberland looking through one of the cross-shaped gaps on the Lion Bridge towards the castle.

Alnwick Castle

Some of you may recognise the castle. It has featured in various films and TV series, including Harry Potter and Blackadder.
More from England, this time Dover. This was taken standing on the cliffs looking through some trees.

Dover

And finally, one from Ireland. This is Dunguaire Castle, viewed through the window of a ruined cottage just opposite it. It would have been a much better picture if the stupid car hadn’t been in the way!

Dunguaire Castle

I could have posted more photos – apparantly I like taking shots of things through other things – but I think that’s enough.

To join in yourself and see how other people have interpreted the theme, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

My 2012

I have seen a few blog posts reviewing 2012 and since the last few days haven’t exactly been filled with exciting things to blog about (all I’ve done is purchase and wrap gifts for the first few birthdays of the year – I have my sister’s, dad’s, grandma’s and two friend’s birthdays all in January – it’s like Christmas present shopping all over again!) I thought I would do one too. Because I have no mind of my own imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So here is my 2012 in a nutshell.

January

I started the year in Salzburg, Austria, which made me very happy. I think Austria may be my favourite country ever (sorry Germany!). It was sleeting on New Year’s Eve but we stood on a hillside and watched the fireworks anyway:

Salzburg fireworks
Salzburg fireworks

The rest of January was pretty uneventful. I finally completed a birth announcement cross stitch intended for the baby of a good friend – right in time as it turned out. The baby came two weeks later! Right at the end of the month there was some bad news – Barney, my family’s Yorkshre Terrier, had been ill for a while and on 30 January I received a message from my sister telling me mum had had to have him put down that morning. RIP little fellow. We still miss you!

Barney in 2009
Barney in 2009

February

February saw Jan and I celebrating 8 years together along with the birth of my friend’s baby boy he missed out on being a Valentine’s baby by one day, much to his mother’s relief!
At the end of the month I finally managed to visit my friend in the Netherlands – a mere 2 and a half years after she moved there! She has since returned to her home country (America) so it was about time we visited! We saw Delft (where she was living), Leiden and the Hague.

Delft from above
Delft from above

March

Jan had his birthday on 1st March, but we didn’t celebrate due to him being ill. On St. Patrick’s Day, Jan was away but I went to the Irish pub with some friends. Then work sent me to Göttingen for a seminar. Other than that, I don’t think anything happened that month.

April

In April, I finally paid off the overdraft on my English bank account – a relic from my student days. Easter fell in April last year and on the Saturday Jan and I took a trip to Würzburg.

Würzburg, River Main
Würzburg, River Main

A few days later our relationship hit probably its lowest point, with me telling Jan that if things didn’t start improving I would move out at the end of the year.  I was encouraged to have a little hope though as Jan actually listened to me and seemed to be able to see my point of view. As you may have noticed, the end of the year has now been and gone and I’m still here. We still don’t have the perfect relationship (but honestly who does?), but things have improved.

May

1 May is always a public holiday in Germany – it’s not moved the the nearest Monday like in England – so in 2012 it was a Tuesday. I went to the theatre with some colleagues to see an English play. The advantage of working with translators is that they’re always willing to watch things in English! This was followed by two more public holidays: Ascension Day on 17 May and Pentecost Monday on 28 May.
Jan was away with work for most of the month, first in Munich then in America, so I was left to entertain myself  On Pentecost Monday (or Whit Monday if you prefer) I went to the annual Hoepfner Burgfest –  a beer festival at a local brewery – and, through a complete coincidence, met someone who has since become my friend. Not bad for someone who really doesn’t make friends easily!

June

In June I had visitors! Two of my housemates from when I was at uni came to see me. We caught up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives for the past seven years(!!) and I got to show them around my adopted home town.

Karlsruhe Marktplatz
Karlsruhe Marktplatz

For the rest of the month I watched a lot of football (European Cup!) and worked way too much, resulting in me feeling the need to get out of Karlsruhe for the day. So Jan drove me to the beautiful Calw, birth place of Hermann Hesse.

July

July brought another round of visitors – my sister and her boyfriend came so we could watch cars speeding round in circles at Hockenheim. Oh alright, there’s more to Formula 1 than that, but not much 😉 We also went to Heidelberg, saw Maximo Park at Das Fest and took a trip to Europapark, a theme park about an hour and a half from here which I had never been to! Guests are good for something, it seems 😉

Rollercoaster at Europapark
Rollercoaster at Europapark

August

August was my birthday month – the last one in which my age will have a 2 at the beginning. This year I’ll be turning 30 (help!!). I insisted on going out for cake, but other than that we didn’t do a great deal because we had to leave for Stockholm early the next morning. I adored Stockholm, but I’m not sure I could live there all year round – I hear it gets stupidly cold in winter! I could definitely have a summer residence there though.

Stockholm
Stockholm

September

September brought with it a personal record for me as I realised it had been six whole years since I moved back to Karlsruhe. This also marked the month in which Jan actually started letting me know when he wasn’t going to make it home in time for dinner. About a month later this then became texting me at a reasonable time to say he was on his way – meaning we’ve actually been able to eat together for the past few months! A genuine breakthrough in our relationship (and part of the reason I did end up deciding to stay).

Towards the end of the month we went to England, the first time in over a year that I had been back! I spent my time seeing family, eating way too much and also got to meet three of the babies that various friends had given birth to in 2012. Also it rained a lot. The stereotype would say that this is normal in the UK, but believe me this amount of rain was far from normal!

York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.
York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.

October

In October I joined in with the Friday’s letters linkup for the very first time, went to see the wonderful Tina Dico in concert and, of course, celebrated Halloween. I went as a bat in a homemade costume.

November

All Saints Day (1 November) was yet another public holiday in my part of Germany, so I took 2 November off work, giving me a four day weekend to start the month with. Hurrah! We took advantage of the bridge day to go to Schwäbisch Hall. I then came down with the evil cold from hell, spent most of the rest of my four-day weekend in bed and even ended up working from home later that week because I just could not stop coughing. So much for November! I did manage to go to a Wise Guys concert on 17 November, but I wasn’t fully over my cold until a few days after that. I always went to Mosbach to see a friend perform with her choir and got slightly overexcited about Primark opening in Karlsruhe.

Primark fox scarf
Primark fox scarf

December

I won’t go into too much detail about the final month of 2012 seeing as it’s only just happened and I’m sure you can all remember exactly what it consisted of. If I were to sum up December in just a few words I think I would have to say Glühwein, baking, gift wrapping and way too much time spent at the post office!

The year ended the same way as it began – with fireworks. This time they were in Luxembourg, the second new country I visited in 2012 after Sweden.

Fireworks in Luxembourg
Fireworks in Luxembourg

2012 had its low points, but overall it wasn’t such a bad year. I made a new friend, travelled a lot more than I had expected and was able to spend time with people who I hadn’t seen for a very long time. Put in context like this, I can actually see that I had a pretty amazing year. Now let’s see what 2013 brings!

Mozart, mountains and modern art

Salzburg

So, I promised to tell you all about Salzburg. And here I am, getting ready to tell. Where to begin?
This time, our New Year’s holiday was almost a week. We travelled to Salzburg on 26 December and came back on 2 January (I had to be back at work again on the 3rd. Boo hiss!).
I was overjoyed to be back in Austria again. I lived there for about 10 months in 2005/2006 and loved it! (I didn’t actually live in Salzburg, but Austria is Austria, right?). Salzburg is mostly famous for 2 things – The Sound of Music (which we attempted to ignore completely – although I did take a photo of the gazebo from the film for my mum) and Mozart, who was born there. We paid tribute to the latter by visiting the house he lived in as a teenager and going to a concert  featuring mostly pieces by Mozart (plus one by Schuhbert). We’re so very cutural 🙂

Schloss Leopoldskron - we saw this as part of the "In Mozart's Footstep's" tour, but it also features in The Sound of Music film
Schloss Leopoldskron – we saw this as part of the “In Mozart’s Footstep’s” tour, but it also features in The Sound of Music film

It was also nice to be back among mountains. I used to have one outside my bedroom window when I lived in Austria and it was always great opening my curtains to see it. Karlsruhe is possibly the flattest town on the planet (the highest “hill” here is in the zoo… and it’s man-made!) and England isn’t exactly known for its peaks, so  even small mountains are something I don’t see every day. While the weather was behaving, we took the cable car up the Untersberg (just outside Salzburg)  – Jan wanted to walk up but all the paths were closed due to snow so we weren’t allowed – I was devastated, clearly 😉 At the top there was quite a bit of snow, and also a wonderful view.

At midnight on the 31st, we were partway up another mountain – the Kapuzinerberg. That one’s actually in Salzburg and gave us an excellent view of the fireworks while allowing us to avoid the drinken idiots shooting rockets at each other in town.

We also went to the Museum der Moderne – a modern art museum on the Mönchsberg. They currently (January 2012) have an exhibition by Evan Penny, which I thought was neat. Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, but basically he makes sculptures of humans and, in this particular exhibition (Re Figured) they’re all distorted in some way. The results are a little freaky but very, very cool.

Other highlights included the fortress, where there was so much to see that we didn’t even make it all the way round, and the Haus der Natur, a natural history museum with an attached Science Centre where you could literally spend all day! The only reason we left after 3 and a half hours was because Jan wasn’t feeling too good – we hadn’t seen anything like everything! The Science Center part is all hands on and mostly aimed at kids, but adults can have their fun too! If you ever find yourself in Salzburg and the weather isn’t too good definitely check out the Haus der Natur! Naturally we also had to stop at the Cafe in Hotel Sacher for a slice of Sachertorte (a kind of chocolate cake with a layer of jam in the middle), which was okay, but the best hot chocolate of the trip was definitely the one I had in Demel on Mozartplatz. So thick and creamy it was almost more like a dessert than a drink. Mmmm! And the slice of chestnut cake I had there was delicious too!

Fortress

And now I shall leave you with a view of the city taken from a window at the Hohensalzburg fortress. Most of what you can see is the old town, and the river in the background is the Salzach. Still a pretty place, even in the middle of winter. Salzburg, I shall return!

So this is Christmas…

Well, it was anyway. It’s pretty much over now.
We’ve had a pretty good couple of days. (Well, I think so anyway). We decided to do a double Christmas, opening the gifts from German people yesterday (live on Skype in the case of those from Jan’s mum) and leaving the ones from each other and from my family for this morning. I got some nice things, including a necklace from my grandparents, books (lovely, lovely books!), four Counting Crows CDs – despite only asking for one 😀 – and concert tickets from Jan. We’re going to see Kettcar in February!! None of you will ever have heard of them (they’re a German band), but I’ve wanted to see them for ages so I’m very happy.

Today we went out to a nice restaurant for lunch. Jan suggested it – I was planning to cook! The food was delicious, as was the wine (chosen by Jan) and we came home happy and with full stomaches. I spoke to my dad after lunch, and my family liked their presents too, which is always a good thing.

We’re off to Salzburg for a week tomorrow, so that all that remains is for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas (what’s left of it) and all the best for the new year. “See” you in 2012!