The Streets and Alleys of Baltic (30)

This picture marks the end of my series on streets and alleys of Baltic; I hope you enjoyed it.

For those who didn’t enjoy it, I send you my apology. For a series with 30 photos, some of them, I afraid, are not as good as the others.

I have been to all the Baltic capitals which includes visiting of some of the UNESCO Heritage sites like Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn etc.

What I found most interesting are the alleys and the streets which all have their own characteristics.Baltic Capitals 15-Aug-09 005

I am not able to tell you exactly where those alleys and streets are; in my simple mind, they are my memorable parts of the Baltic.

I like the cobblestones, the quaint street, the colored walls on both sides of the alleys, the cafes along or encroached onto the roads, the crude masonry wall facing and last, but not the least, the friendly people.

They leave an undeletable part in my memory!

The Streets and Alleys of Baltic (25)

I will be doing a series on streets and alleys of the Baltic countries.

I have been to all the Baltic capitals which includes visiting of some of the UNESCO Heritage sites like Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn etc.

What I found most interesting are the alleys and the streets which all have their own characteristics.DSC_0083

I am not able to tell you exactly where those alleys and streets are; in my simple mind, they are my memorable parts of the Baltic.

I like the cobblestones, the quaint street, the colored walls on both sides of the alleys, the cafes along or encroached onto the roads, the crude masonry wall facing and last, but not the least, the friendly people.

They leave an undeletable part in my memory!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundary (Dubrovnik)

We stayed in a hotel overlooking the sea and the Dubrovnik castles while we were there.

Everyday, we didn’t stay too long in our rooms, as obviously the outside is a lot more attractive.DSCF0795

However, every morning we have breakfast, we enjoyed the fantastic views of the sea and the castles.

The parapet of the restaurant was a boundary between good food and the good views!

Walls at Castles of Bellizona, Switzerland

These several photos taken by my wife in her recent trip to Castle of Bellizona in Switzerland make me think of castle walls, especially the Great Wall of China.IMG_0966

Here is a brief introduction of the Castles of Bellinzona  from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:IMG_0967

The Castles of Bellinzona are a group of fortifications located around the town of Bellizona, the capital of the Swiss canton of  Ticino. Situated on the Alpine foothills, the group is composed of fortified walls and three castles named Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. Castelgrande is located on a rocky peak overlooking the valley, with a series of walls that protect the old city and connect to Montebello. Sasso Corbaro, the highest of the three castles, is located on an isolated rocky promontory south-east of the other two. The Castles of Bellinzona with their defensive walls have been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.IMG_0968

The walls seem quite well preserved.

I am glad that it has been awarded as a UNESCO site.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sepia Tones (2)

Don’t think I can leave this challenge without submitting another entry.

The following photos were taken in Paronella Park near Cairns, Australia.CIMG0603B

Joe Paronella, a Spanish immigrant, built this park in the 1930s and opened it to the public.CIMG0579A

Apart from his house which was built from stones, the castle shown here are in reinforced concrete, with the reinforcing came from the railroad.CIMG0580B

The castle structures are now approximately 80 years old.

In building this park, Joe and his family has labored for many years.

Showing these images in sepia bring me back to the 1930s. I have much joy in sharing them!

A Word A Week: Castle

The Word  from Word A Week Challenges this week is Castle.

I love castles but have lost many of my castle photos; including those taken on a trip down the Loire valley in France viewing and photographing castles. The ones shown here were taken in more recent years.

Building of castles started around year 1066 when the Normans won the Battle of Hastings, it continued for approximately 500 years until the Tudor era (1485). It seems that castles are not as common in the Orient. Instead, stone protection walls  (for instance, the Great Wall of China) were built; protection buildings were usually separately built in timber on or behind the walls.

At Lithuania, we stumbled across this sleepy small town of Trakai, which is surrounded by lake Galve. The Trakai castle has a stunning setting. Originally built in the 14th century, it looks like it came out from a fairy tale.DSC_0276

Walking across the bridge towards the castle, we were stunned by the beauty.

The view was so picturesque that we felt like we were part of a postcard. . . . . . . . . .

Travelling north in the UK to Scotland, we came across this surreal Stlker castle sitting out there in solitude on an island.Scan10010

Heading back south, we were delighted to visit Leeds castle, which claims to be the most romantic castle in Europe. The castle is in Kent, England, 5 miles from Maidstone. Built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur as a Norman stronghold, Leeds Castle descended through the de Crevecoeur family until the 1260s. What form this first castle took is uncertain because it was rebuilt and transformed in the following centuries. The castle was opened to the public since 1976.2

Our trip took us to Budapest. While we enjoyed the views of the Heroes’ Square, we were stunned by the view of the Vajdahunyad Castle nearby. It was built between 1896 and 1908 as part of the Millennial Exhibition which celebrated the 1000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895.DSCF0152

I am a fan of castles. Sometimes, it is not grand castles that attract us. This little castle in Prague have always come to my memory.My beautiful picture

Heading south east, we found ourselves on the Hvar island of Croatia. We enjoyed walking up the steep paths on the island towards the Spanish Castle. The view from the castle towards the sea was breathtaking.DSCF0560

From Hvar, we crossed over by sea to the southern part of Croatia and reached Dubrovnik. There are numerous fortress towers within the confines of the Dubrovnik walls; it was indeed a feast for the eyes (if you so wish, please see my earlier posts on Dubrovnik). Here is a causal view of what one might expect while there.DSCF0909

Heading even further south, down under in Queensland, we were amazed at the efforts of someone trying to build a Spanish castle in Australia. This is the Paronella castle / park in Cairns.

Paronella Park was built in the 1930s by Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant.  José Paronella built facilities, including tennis courts and a cinema and a ballroom inspired by Spanish castles, to provide entertainment for the public.CIMG0579

We were much delighted by the tranquil garden and fountains of the castle.CIMG0603A

After all these tiring trips, we headed north and was happy to be back to our own castle . . . . . . . .  our home 🙂

Hvar Town- Day and Night

Our hotel in Hvar overlooked the harbour. From the hotel we could see the Spanish Fortress perched on the top of the hill. Looking through the window, we were fascinated with the view of the town with its orange roof buildings, the blue sea, the white limestone block paving, the palm trees and the ever changing pattern of the yachts swaying inside the harbor. Where I am based, I always like climbing up to the Peak and have a magnificent view of Hong Kong foreshore and the Victoria Harbor, both during day time  and night time. At Hvar , both the day and night views are just enchanting. 

When night fell, I was tempted to take some night shots of the lovely view with the harbor lights. Without a tripod, all I could do was to hold my breath and support the camera off somewhere firm. Back home, I was able to match some of the day and night photos.   

Deep in the night, the walls of the castle was illuminated and there were still some people walking on the seaside promenade.

In the afternoon, the boats have returned to the harbor. The view of the harbor with the houses and buildings as a backdrop was just unforgetful. On the left, the biggest building with a triangular roof is the Arsenal which,  was the oldest municipal theater built in 1612.

By night time, all houses including those studded up on the hills, were lit up and their reflections from the sea were just enchanting.

We were never tired of watching yachts coming into the harbor and the very blue Adriatic sea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

With the light sea breeze blowing and the street almost deserted, we had a pleasant walk in the main square toward the hotel, thinking how lucky we were to have another very enjoyable day.

The shop window was so attractive that we couldn’t help stopping by to have a good look. There were so many souvenirs that looked very appealing.

No matter day or night, we have found Hvar to be very cosy, full of life and pleasant people; not a lot more you can ask from an island. . . . . . . . .

The Challenge of Travelling

Have been travelling for the past couple of weeks, covering Switzerland (Geneva), Hungary (Budapest, Szentendre), Croatia (Plitvice National Park, Split, Hvar Island and Dubrovnik) and France (Annecy).

This journey is different in that we also have my Father-in-Law (FIL) of age 80+ travelling with us. While the planning of the trip has tried to be as less strenuous as possible, the trip did require quite a bit of walking up and down. We intended to cover all 16 lakes of great beauty in Plitivice National Park (below) and the 2 km (730 steps) walk on top of the Dubrovnik Castle walls in Dubronik, not to mention the daily walking of several hours when we were not travelling by car, catamaran or Ro-Ro ferry.

It was a test of will and strength for my FIL, as before the journey, he has developed a reluctance of climbing up or down even one flight of staircase between two stories in a building. While in our assessment, he should have the physical strength to complete all the walks in the journey, nevertheless, we were worried that he may not be able to overcome the psychological hurdle of tackling those climbs.

The trip did not have a good start. While loitering in the quiet streets of Budapest my FIL was approached by two men in the street, one pretending to be a tourist with a map in his hand, trying to snatch his backpack. Only when I shouted out loudly from afar did the men hastily turn away.

With the help of two walking sticks, my FIL was able to climb up to the very top of one section of the Plitvice lakes and should have been able to complete the other section if not for the very heavy rain which came pouring down like cats and dogs. When we reached Dubrovnik (above), he was also able to complete the picturesque 2 km up and down walk on the high castle walls of the Dubrovnik Castle on a hot day. All in all, he has reconquered the fears of climbing and was proud of that!

One of the things I pondered after the trip was – what lifestyle and exercise  should I adopt  now so that I would also be able to travel with confidence and strength as I approach 80 ? While life expectancy is increasing, this does not necessarily imply that we will still be sufficiently mobile in our later stages of life.

We have experienced immense beauty in our trip. . . . . . the unforgettable blue sea of the Adriatic, the scenic beauty of the Plitvice Lakes, the festival and cosy town at Hvar, the magnificent Dubronik castle, the quaint little medieval town of Annecy (above) and finally the tranquility of Geneva. This post is a preview and I will write in more detail about each of the places in this journey.

Trakai – The Fairy Tale Castle in Lithuania

It was our first trip to the three Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. At Lithuania, we stumbled across this sleepy small town of Trakai, which is surrounded by lake Galve. This castle has a stunning setting. Originally built in the 14th century, it looks like it came out from a fairy tale.

We have seen castles located romantically on some Scottish islands but this red colored castle with round towers surrounded by tranquil lakes against a clear blue sky was the most picturesque that we have ever seen.We walked across a timber footbridge which connects the castle to the shore and entered into the castle.

From the outside, it’s a conventional castle of red brick, with watch towers and walls and a keep and everything. In the inner fortress there’s a courtyard with wooden walkways all along the inside and it’s now a national museum.

While my wife was engrossed with all the historical displays in the castle, I sneaked out to take a walk around the island, knowing that the sun would be setting in a short time.

There are two things which I have always liked watching; yachts and castles. Here at Trakai, the two just came together, in a delightful and picturesque manner.

I walked around the island; couldn’t help admiring at the scene as they entered my very eyes. It was just breath-taking. The sky was blue, the water turquoise , a yacht with yellow sail gliding past in front of a neo Renaissance building.

I knew I couldn’t stay too long loitering around, leaving my wife in the castle. So I hurried back to the castle.

Under the light from the setting sun, it was a very pretty and very interesting castle and stepping inside, it was very warm and cosy . . . . . . . . . . . not knowing what time it was , my wife was still engrossed with the historical displays!