landscape, nature, photography, seasons, world

Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Way

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Friday is the day for the new weekly photo challenge at “The Daily Post“. This weeks topic for the photo challenge is: on the way

We were asked to post a photo taken on our way to a certain destination. I often stop in between on my trips for taking photo. When I see an interesting scene, I stop the car on walk back to that scene, I saw while driving. OK, it’s no always possible to stop. Thus, I often miss an opportunity, too.

This shot was taken on Corfu in such a situation. We were on a trip along the eastern coast to the south, when I saw this scene. An olive tree above the cliff and the mediterrane sea in the background. A hundred meters later, I saw a small spot to stop and I walked back.

Take care!

(as usual, you can see the photo enlarged, when clicking in it)

art, flowers, photography, seasons

Monochrome Madness 2-12

 

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This is Burg Eltz (Castle Eltz), a medieval castle founded in the 12th century and expanded several times over the centuries.. This castle was never conquered or destroyed and it is one of the few medieval castles, which remains in their original shape. The castle is still owned by the original family, for more than 800 years now. If you want to know more, I’d recommend Wikipedia. Although the English doc isn’t as long as the German one, it is quite good.

When we have had our own currency, the Deutsche Mark, before getting the Euro in 2001, this castle was pictured on the back of our second highest value bank-note: the 500 DM bill.

Many visitors from many different countries were there, when we visited the castle. but, it wasn’t that crowded. I guess, that’s because travel season hasn’t really started yet. They have a very big parking ground near the castle. Either you have a walk through the forest, you can also walk along the street or take a shuttle bus for a small fee. We took the street for our walk to the castle. A very, very steep street of about 2 km down to the castle. For our walk back to the parking ground we used the other path, through the forest. This path is way easier, although not much longer. But, also the bus fee is quite fair.

The castle is built on a hill surrounded by other, much higher hills. so, it is quite hidden in the landscape. Usually such castles were set up on very prominent places to overview the landscape. They were set up to guard the people, to collect duties from travelers and traveling merchants. So, they were usually built near navigable rivers or important merchant streets. In this context, it is very surprising to find castle Eltz hidden in a valley.

This is my submission for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. An image of a subject ‘fallen out of time’.

I also included some other photos of the castle in the slideshow below.

Take care!

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art, culture, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

I’m back …

610_8062-e_wκαλή μέρα, χαιρετισμός – hello!

Last week I was on the greek island Corfu. It’s the most northern island of Greece. I fled from the cold and wet weather in middle Europe to the sunny south with my middle son. We were there for a week enjoying the sun and the fantastic landscapes.

While the people are very friendly and the landscapes beautiful, the state of the streets outside Corfu-town is mostly terrible (while using a mild word as a definition for them). We have had a rental car during our stay and used it to explore different parts of the island. Although the car comes with insurance, neither the tires nor the under-floor are included (an aren’t includable). Thus, pay very much attention to the streets in front of you and look very carefully to each different colored spot in the street, it might be a deep road-hole.

The island is about 60 km long (north to south) and about 9 km broad at the largest point (in the north). It has about 585 km² and about 100.000 inhabitants. You have to drive many, many serpentines up and down the hills and often a speed of 20 – 30 kmh seem to be extremely fast. But, the locals will always want to drive faster than you do, disregarding the speed limits beside the streets, and even passing you in narrow curves or other places with bad sight. You’ll also meet coaches full of tourists, many motor-scooter with locals as well as tourists and also many quad bikes. For navigating on Corfu I used the map given to me for free at the car rental station and my mobile navigation device, I usually use in my car at home. I came with maps for all 42 European countries and I already used it for different countries. So, I took it with me to Corfu. Unfortunately, many streets on Corfu outside the bigger towns don’t have names. So, we often have had to choose our destination by using the “select from map” function of the device. It all worked fine!

My expectation was to visit a mediterranean island with some hills and beautiful beaches. OK, I knew, I won’t find sandy beaches, but gravel instead. But, most of the beaches are so tiny, a few beach towels were enough to cover the whole beach 😦 And, you’ll find ‘natural’ beaches. Read: dirty with sea weed, plastic bottles, beer and soda  cans and so on. Usually not a place where you want to stay. Not all beaches are in the same bad condition. Some got  more dirty than others. And, if sea weed really is dirt … – decide on you own. As long as it isn’t too much, it’s OK. It natural. No-one hast to sweep the beach for me. On the other hand, the water itself if perfectly clear that you can watch to the ground to see fishes inside and it sparkles in the sun. Many hotels have pools, often filled with sea water, but without a heating. Only the sun heats up the water inside the pools.

Most of the tiny towns (villages) along the coast were built at a time, when they did not have any tourists. Thus, these towns aren’t prepared for them. Often the only street crossing the town seems to go over the citizens balconies. The houses are built directly next to the street and often the street is not broader then the car you’re sitting in (don’t expect to find a sidewalk). You find pretty houses in good shape very next to houses in bad shape or even ruins of given up houses. A complete chaos! And many, many houses have signs saying “for sale”. Some of the villages at the coast even seem to have been converted into tourist villages. Stores, tavernas and hotels one beside the other. And … directly attached to the street.

Nearly the same in the old-town of Corfu-town: hundreds of small, very small and tiny shops of all shades. All stuffed with hundreds of products: clothes, hats, bags, sandals, ouzo, ikons, ….. I guess, a woman can spend days watching all these shops carefully. They are open until late night, but some already close at 2 p.m. In the afternoon there are less pedestrians in the streets.

On the other hand, in the western part of the island you can find a lake, and a small piece of land between the lake and the see. Here you can find a nice natural sandy beach. Beside 3 beach bars and a kite club you can enjoy a day on the beach. But, it’s hard to come to that place because of the very bad streets – more an earth road, than a street. No hotel is nearby.

If you’re interested in sightseeing places, like old churches, monasteries and so on, you have to be well prepared, because the local signs seem to be only a vague tip, than giving directions. What a pity!

Churches and monasteries are usually closed, because of the fear of ikon theft. Ikons are these special kind of painting of religious important people and they are common in the orthodox church (Greek orthodox as well as in Russian orthodox church). So, you can only see the churches from outside. Or you have to be lucky enough, to arrive, when the Pope (the priest in orthodox church) is in or any other ‘official’ is available to show you around. Unfortunately, even when finding an open church, taking photographs inside is often strictly prohibited. 😦 Also, because of the fear of theft of ikons and other decorations often made of gold and silver.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to talk bad about Corfu. It’s a nice island with friendly people, as I wrote above. You know, I usually choose a typical photo for illustrating my ‘I’m back….’ post. But, this time it was kind of hard to choose a proper one. Which one should I pick – which one could represent the trip: sun, warmth, turquoise ocean, friendly people, good restaurants, beautiful landscapes, steep hills (up to 1,000m over the sea), serpentines, hundreds of scrawny cats, dozens of dogs laying lazy on the streets and giving room only hesitantly, very bad streets in the countryside, very old olive trees, vineyards, breathtaking views, restaurants with names like ‘panorama’, ‘Eden’, ‘Paradis’, ‘Belleveu’ or ‘Belvedere’ …

When walking around, you’ll notice a “free Wi-Fi” at nearly every taverna, ice salon, pub and restaurant. Ask for the code. That’s the way, I was able to check my email every now and than or answer comments here in my blog. The connection quality is not always good. Even our very good hotel offered only a very small bandwidth of around 500 Byte/second (not KB/s!). That’s way too small for surfing the internet, reading blog in the evening or preparing the next day’s trip by researching the necessary information.

I decided to pick a typical postcard motive: the Vlacherna Monastery and the tiny island Pontikonisi behind it. Both are in the bay below the quarter Kanoni of Kérkyra (Corfu town). I picked this image, because there were so many churches, chapels and monasteries around. We have had the idea, there are as many churches as the island has inhabitants. In the old-town of Corfu-town you can find a church in nearly every other street and in the countryside you’ll pass one every very few kilometers or at least a sign pointing in a direction, where you can find one (some of them are quite old – founded many centuries ago). The quarter Kanoni is part of Kérkyra, the island capital, where we have had our hotel. The island behind the monastery also carries an orthodox church. Thus, I think, it fits perfectly.

In Kanoni you can find taxi boats waiting at the runway from the strand to the monastery to bring you over to the other island. All in all, this location is a tourist magnet. Many busses full of tourists come here every day. My tip, come here in the early morning, i.e. 9:00h, just before the busses arrive and as long as both subjects are laying in the sun – remember, it’s the east coast! Depending on your plan, you only need about 15 – 30 minutes for your visit. But, if your plan includes a visit of the other island, you should calculate some more time.

You don’t need to learn Greek before traveling here. English is OK. In my opinion, most of the tourists on Corfu came from an english speaking country (probably the UK). Next often I heard German and Italian. Every day we saw huge cruise ships leaving Corfu harbor in the afternoon or early evening sailing south, in the direction of the greek mainlands. When we passed the harbour, three of these huge city like hotel ships were laying on the pier.

Finally a special tip: try kumquats. Kumquat are a tiny kind of citrus fruits. They are cooked for marmalade, distilled to an orange-colored liquor, candied, candied for coating with chocolate or simply boiled down. An interesting experience for your taste.

I hope, you weren’t bored by this really long post and didn’t fall asleep. 🙂

Take care!

art, culture, meeting, people, photography, world

Weekly Photo Challenge: broken

 

610_7890-eb_wThis weeks topic at “The Daily Post”  for the photo challenge is “broken”.

Regardless if it is intentionally broken or not. A ruin or something after an accident. You got the picture.

I picked this old graveyard, because the single graves are broken, but also the relationships between the people in this yard and those outside. Hearts might be broken, too, from mourning.

I edited it in monochrome, to support the special mood!

Take care!

flowers, landscape, photography, travel, world

visiting Jökulsárlón

600_5992-ec_wThis lake really was my personal highlight of this trip. It’s a glacier lake connected to the ocean by a short river.

Beside walking around the lake, you can do a boat trip with an amphibian vehicle or rubber-boat. There is also a snack-bar, similar to the one in Landmannalaugar. Here, you can also find restrooms and buy the tickets for the boat-trips.

When standing at the lake, pay attention to the wind. When the wind comes down the glacier and crosses the lake, it is very cold! Even, it the wind is kind of slow. Although the clothing is usually warm enough, this wind is way colder! So, be prepared and dress up with an additional layer of clothing.

 

Take care!

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landscape, nature, photography, seasons, world

Weekly Photo Challenge: enveloped

600_1003-e_wWhen I read this weeks topic for the weekly photo challenge at “The Daily Post” I’ve had to think a moment for a reasonable photo. It topic is: enveloped.

First of all, an envelope used for sending a letter via the postal service came put to my mind. But, also power wires or streets are enveloping our nice little planet 🙂

I picked something similar, a spider’s web. It’s used for enveloping the spiders food and, in this case, it is enveloped in dew.

Take care!

(as usual, you can see the photo enlarged, when clicking in it)

flowers, landscape, photography, travel, world

Going to church

 

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Everywhere in the country you can find these small white churches. White corrugated sheeting outside for the walls and red corrugated sheeting for the roof. We stopped at a few of them, where they were located right next to the street. Most of them stand alone in the landscape. Unfortunately none of them was open.

Only the interesting one surrounded with a stone ridge was open, so I entered. But, this one is located near a gas station, hotel and supermarket.

I also was in the main cathedral Hallgrímskirkja in the capital Reykjavík, but that’s preserved for another post 🙂

Take care!

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art, landscape, meeting, photography, seasons, travel

vineyards around

610_4439-e_wIn my last post I told you a bit about the Mosel region and the options you have for your visit.

Today, I want to show you some details of the vineyards covering every possible side of the hills. The source of the wine.

As you can see in the photos, the twigs of the grapevines don’t have their leaves yet. But, it’s quite early in the year. But, the advantage is, you can also see the ground and how the soil is covered by small plants or by slate pieces. The whole hills consist of slate. This brings a very distinct microclimate to the vineyards.

Slate is also traditionally used for covering roofs or facades of houses to keep the walls dry.

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art, landscape, meeting, photography, seasons, travel

walking through the vineyards

610_4325-e_wAs I wrote on Monday, I was at the Mosel last weekend. That region is well-known for their white wine. The winery tradition was founded by the ancient Romans, when they lived in that region, about 2000 years ago. You can still find several roman remains, like cemeteries, buildings, temples and fundaments.

The river Mosel is not the only one. Here, beside the river Rhine you can find several winery regions next to many tributary streams of river Rhine and the river Rhine itself. Every few kilometers you can find a village. Small hotels, guesthouses and apartments are waiting for tourists. You can also find a room at a winery or a farmhouse. Paved farm roads crossing the steep vineyards. These farm roads make it quite easy, to walk around. This area is also crossed by a long distance hiking trail, called Moselsteig.

There are several of these long distance hiking trails in Germany. They have in common, that they are quite challenging. But, all of them are crossing interesting landscapes. The Moselsteig is one of the youngest of these trails. Printed guides are available to make such a trails handy. They cut the whole track in pieces, each cope able in one day. They are well-marked along the trail and the guide gives some additional information about the region and the sights, landmarks and tourist features along the trail. So, you can easily make your room reservation in advance. You can even book organized tours, where the organizer cares for your luggage and transports it to the next destination, while you were hiking.

Beside restaurants, you can also find in these areas mentioned above wineries offering simple food and own made white wine. While each village has many wineries, not all of them offering food. And, not every winery is open each day. But, finding them is quite easy. They have a bunch of flowers or green twigs decorated with colorful bands at the house or in front of it, or a sign plate near the entrance. They are called Straußwirtschaft (= bouquet inn / pub) or Weinkeller (= wine cellar). You can also buy wine at the wineries, straight from the producer.

Sometimes the villages organize wine festivals. For these events several (many) wineries set up a booth next to each other, so that you can taste many different wines quite easy. Each wine has a different taste, depending of the age, weather during the year while growing the grapes, the winemaker, the producing style, the soil in the specific vineyard, the kind of grape and so on. Thus, tasting different wines is a good idea, for finding the one, you like most 🙂 You can also visit a winemaker for a tasting, when you want to buy, but have no idea which one.

Enjoy, but pay attention to the amount of alcohol enclosed in wine!

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landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, travel

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

600_1025-et_wThis weeks photo challenge at The Daily Post is called “Forces of Nature”.

Water ist one of the 3 forces, which are able to form the surface of our planet. The others are wind and fire (and of course men 🙂 ).

Take care!

(as always: click on the photos to see them in a bigger size)

animals, culture, landscape, nature, people, photography, travel, world

riding on Iceland

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You knew, there is a very special horse breed living on Iceland. These horses are living outside the whole year. They are i.e. used for catching the sheep in fall and bring them back to the houses while they live free in the highlands during summer.

You can also come to Iceland to make riding holidays. There are offers for different kinds of riding skills. The cross country tours are the most challenging ones and you’re supposed to be a very good and experienced rider. The guided tours consist of 3 horses for each rider. The additional horses run free with the groups and without luggage or a settle. The tours follow paths to meet every now and then certain places for a rest where a car with some stray waits, to feed the horses. Drinking water isn’t a big problem here, but food.

We met such riding tours a few times during our trips through the highlands, as you can see.

Take care!

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flowers, nature, seasons, travel

Many, many flowers

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Spring is the season of flowers, in my opinion. Colorful blossoms are everywhere. So many colorful spots in different shapes on trees, bushes and on the ground. Don’t get me wrong. I know, there are also many flowers blooming during summer or fall. But, I guess, this feeling comes from the lack of these color-spots during winter. The eye gets attracted by all the fresh color after a long, cold and primarily gray-white-black winter.

All these shots were taken last weekend while our trips trough the vineyards above the river Mosel.

Although the vineyards are men-made, you can find many wild herbs beside the paths.

Here we have among others wisteria, genister, chestnut, some apple (? – only the fruits will tell, because I’m not a botanist) trees and wild strawberries. The other ones I’m not familiar with 😦

At this season, you can also find herbs like anemones below beech trees, because the beech tree leaves are still small, so that some light is able to reach the ground. Thus, these plants only in this time have a chance to grow and bloom.

I’d love to get hints, if someone knows some of the plants.

Enjoy your spring!