Wish I was There Wednesday ~ December 12, 2018

At my inner core, I think there’s must be a smidgen of gypsy DNA that gets aroused  after returning from a wonderful trip. As I’ve been organizing the Puerto Vallarta trip photos,I have gone down the rabbit-hole looking through other photos from trips longing for even more travels. So today should come as no surprise for the”Wish I Was There Wednesday” post which pays homage to one such trip. During a trip to Northern Germany, I spent a number of days visiting Germany’s fashion capitol, Düsseldorf. While some old seaport towns fall on hard times, Düsseldorf is a shiny example of vibrancy that captivates visitors with its display of old and new architecture.

The Rheinhafen centre of arts and the media consists of three contrasting building complexes and appears like a gigantic sculpture along the riverfront. Each one of the “Neuer Zollhof” buildings is made with different outer materials with the central building reflecting the buildings on its northern and southern side, creating a visual link between the three. It’s truly a fascinating view as one travels down the busy Rhine River. Created by the renown architect, Frank O. Gehry, these buildings were built in the late 1990’s and are a beautiful landmark in the city.

Have  pawtastic Hump Day. Now I must ‘jet off’ to West Pines to spread some holiday cheer among the residents. Catch up with you soon!

Düsseldorf Germany

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wandering Wednesday

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in the 303 with mild temps and even a shower later in the day-something we haven’t seen in a couple of months. Mother Nature has been quite schizoid this summer so it was wonderful being able to take advantage of this pause in blistering temperatures. It was the perfect day to visit the Denver Botanical Gardens with a dear friend. My dear friend, Cheryl and I were awed by nature’s kaleidoscope of color and texture. Here are a few highlights from our meanderings. It was a great day shared with a great friend that reminded me how truly blessed I am by this friendship and the gorgeous venue in the heart of the city.

Water lilies in full bloom
Water lily bloom hidden in the Japanese garden
A striking bloom among the dahlias
These thistle-like blooms felt like balsa wood in the perennial garden-so unusual…so fascinating
Statuary near the herb and Biblical garden
Orange stunner
A four-legged visitor in the Japanese Garden who probably didn’t buy a ticket
The fabulous Monet Garden

Wishing you a fabulous day of wandering. Happy mid-week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wish I were there Wednesday

With the heat that seems to have gripped North America, I thought perhaps a view that may make you feel a bit cooler might be appropriate. Go forth, stay cool and hydrated and maybe yodel a bit.

Near Reutte, Austria

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wish I Was There Wednesday

After two days of pleasant temps in the 80’s, we’re back to the scorching mid-90’s temperatures along with single digit humidity for the rest of the week. The dogs and I don’t do so well in the heat so we’re gonna huddle comfortably in the air-conditioned house for the better part of each day and recall cooler days on a trip to Southern Germany. On the plus side, it’s mid-week, only a couple of days until “Favorite Friday.” Enjoy a nice cool spot in Bad Rippolsau where I wish I was today.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wish I was There Wednesday

Maybe because winter has been fairly fleeting here snow wise, I decided to take a nostalgic  stroll through some photos of a trip to Alaska’s Inside Passage.

If you’ve never experienced a visit to this scenic destination, you’ve missed out on an amazing adventure. Incredible vistas, unique Native cultures and remarkable wildlife, Alaska has it all. While I would have loved to have spent some time at Glacier National Park, my visit was limited but still provided some incredible glimpses of this unforgettable state. So grab your beverage of choice and let’s see a few of the more notable scenes, shall we?

The Emerald City, aka Seattle

Departing from the port of Seattle with its infamous Space Needle on the horizon, the cruise ship headed northward toward Juneau. Named after the gold prospector Joe Juneau, the city became the state capitol in 1906. Due to its rugged terrain, Juneau is unique among state capitols insomuch as there are no roads connecting the city with the rest of the state although there is ferry service available for autos. It’s basically an island city…on land. You either have to fly or boat into the city. With around 31,000 full-time residents, the populations swells from May through September when cruise ships visit, by about 6,000 people per day.

Located approximately 12 miles from downtown Juneau is the famous Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding landscape which is protected as part of the 5,815 acres Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated portion of the Tongass National Forest. Despite the ongoing glacial ebb, this spectacular site will nevertheless take your breath away with its sheer size and presence. Given that temperatures continue to rise throughout Alaska and fact that the end of the glacier has a negative mass balance, it will continue to retreat.

I was mesmerized by the floating pieces of the glacier in Mendenhall Lake and with the ice color which appears blue due to the absorption of all colors of the visible light spectrum except for blue, which it transmits. Named after noted scientist, Thomas C. Mendenhall  who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894, he also served on the Alaska Boundary Commission and was responsible for surveying the international boundary between Canada and Alaska. In 1892, this glacier was renamed to honor Mendenhall. The naturalist, John Muir, had first named the glacier “Auke Glacier” in 1879 after the Aak’w Kwaan of the Tlingit Indians. Bear sightings are not unusual in the area and one must be vigilant when hiking.

Tracy Arm Fjord, south of Juneau is a deep and narrow fjord with considerable floating ice ranging from hand-sized to pieces as large as a three-story building.

Tracy Arm Fjord
Floating Ice ~ Tracy Arm Fjord

No trip to the Inner Passage is complete without a stop in Skagway. Noted for being the setting in Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” Will Hobbs’s book Jason’s Gold, and for Joe Haldeman’s novel Guardian, as well as  John Wayne’s film “North to Alaska” filmed nearby. Skagway became populated after thousands of miners hoped to strike it rich in the region during the Klondike Gold Rush.

The prospectors’ journey began for most as soon as they climbed over the White Pass above Skagway. In 1898 the White Pass Yukon Route began laying narrow gauge railroad tracks along the route as a result of the gold rush. One notable hooligan interred in Skagway’s Boot Hill is Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, one of the most unscrupulous con men of the time.

White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad
Colorful Skagway garden

Alaska’s native people (Eskimos) have had a significant impact on the state’s culture and the many museums along the way should not be missed.

After taking in some incredible handcrafted items, it’s always good to experience the bounty of the sea. Crab anyone?

Alaskan King Crab ~ it doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Many other stops along the way provided equally stunning scenery. I could go on and on about beautiful and fascinating Alaska with its wide and breathtaking vistas. It’s not uncommon to see a spouting blow-hole from a whale along the way but you need to be quicker than I was at trying to photograph it. Though failing at any photographic remembrance, that image will remain forever burnished in my memory. And so will the sunsets.

You simply can’t go wrong taking a trip to the 50th 49th (with thanks to Evil Squirrel) state for seeing beautiful locations and learning about the Old West Frontier. Have you ever been there? What was your favorite part?

Live, love, bark❣

Wish I Was There Wednesday ~ November 15, 2017

So while we’ll be at West Pines today, I couldn’t help but wish I was back in Praha, or Prague as most people know it, and my most favorite city in Europe. Some buildings in this beautiful city date from the 800’s and during the Middle Ages, Prague was larger than Paris or London. Central Prague is easy to meander about on foot, cab, tram or bus. Sites from Old Town Square, fabulous gothic churches, the towering Prague Castle and the famous Charles Bridge are guaranteed to make you want to spend many days wandering around inhaling as much culture as possible. With many US expats and a large English online newspaper (The Prague Post), it’s easy to see why so many Americans love this city. English is spoken in many shops and restaurants so communicating is very easy. I found only one small apothecary shop where English wasn’t spoken but thankfully between my pathetic German together with goofy impersonation, I was still able to procure some cold/allergy medication. Isn’t it funny how people will go out of their way to help tourists who manage to convey their inability to breathe easily?

One of the most iconic sites is the Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock. First built at the beginning of the 15th century, it was rebuilt by a master clockmaker (Hanús) in 1490. Not wishing for him to duplicate his masterpiece elsewhere, the city councillors blinded the poor clockmaker. The mechanism currently in place was perfected by Jan Táborský between 1552 and 1572

Astronomical Clock

From Frankfurt, I took an overnight train and arrived bright and early in the morning. An older wooden train with sleeping compartments, the rocking motion and click-clacking on the tracks were the perfect way to get a restful night of sleep. Arriving at the main station one feels they’ve stepped back in time.

Our comfortable hotel (K+K Hotel Fenix) was not far from the train station near Wenceslas Square and they arranged a lovely bus tour of the city for me and my travel companions.

National Museum

Dominating the Little Quarter Square, the fabulous High Baroque Church of St. Nicholas dates from the 1700’s. Located near the bridge, the beautiful church with its lush interior and frescoed vault, makes it one of Prague’s most important baroque buildings. It took 60 years to complete.

St. Charles Church

No trip to Prague would be complete without visiting the Prague Castle founded in the 9th century with towering St. Vitus Cathedral overlooking the city. The picturesque ‘Golden Lane’ with its colorful little cottages built into the castle walls was constructed in the 16th century.

Prague Castle
The Golden Lane

Folk art can be found everywhere with hand painted eggs, wooden toys and Prague is well-known for its exquisite Bohemian crystal and beautiful garnet jewelry.

 

The most iconic monument in Prague by far is the Charles Bridge. At 1706 feet long, the pedestrian bridge is now a haven for craft and trinket stalls and connects the Old Town with the Little Quarter. Until 1741, it was the only crossing over the Vltava River. Built by Charles IV of sandstone blocks, it was commissioned to replace the Judith Bridge. Approximately halfway, the only decoration for 200 years was a wooden crucifix but subsequent statutes were erected along the bridge and named after many saints.

The iconic Charles Bridge

Located in the Old Town Square, the historic Church of Our Lady before Týn with its twin towers dominates the Jan Hus Monument. Begun in 1364, the church became associated with the reform movement in Bohemia and commemorates the religious reformer and Czech hero, Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake by the Council of Constance in 1415. 

Jan Hus Monument with Church of Our Lady before Týn

The Jewish Cemetery is crammed with some 12,000 headstones with occupants stacked up to 12 deep in some places with an estimated 100,000 people buried in the small space. The last burial was in 1787.

Prague is one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever visited with a rich and sometimes tortured history but one place I strongly recommend. Have you ever been there? What did you love about this cultural treasure?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Wish I was there Wednesday

Since I wasn’t able to take any trips this summer [much to my chagrin], I’ve been looking through old vacation photos and decided the next best thing would be a digital visit via “Wish I was There Wednesday.”

Today I thought we’d go back to Germany and visit another jewel of the Fairytale King’s palaces. Hohenschwangau Castle is located near the town of Füssen and was initially used as a hunting lodge and retreat for agnates. Reconstructed on a hill above the Alpsee (Alp Lake) by Ludwig’s father, Maximilian in the 1830s, the castle became a museum with guided tours in 1913 following the death of the Ludwig’s uncle, Prince Regent of Bavaria, who electrified the castle and installed an elevator. Over 300,000 visitors each year tour the castle and its grounds.


Lying in the shadow of Neuschwanstein, the Mad King enjoyed his childhood years at Hohenschwangau. While his parents lived in the main castle, he and his brother Otto, lived in the annex. Like the other castles Ludwig owned, this one also had all the modern conveniences available at the time. The beautiful gardens where lions and swans are prominent, boasted alpine plants collected by the Ludwig’s mother, Queen Marie, who loved to hike in the nearby mountains.

The kitchen was quite advanced for its time.

The Swan Fountain

Like so many sights in the area, the blue and white flag of Bavaria is prominently displayed, this appearing over the entry gate. 

The interior is decorated in Gothic Revival style with many frescoes depicting heroic German sagas.

Lake Alpsee

Well there you have it. Hope you enjoyed another installment of “Wish I was There Wednesday.” Isn’t nice to bypass TSA and go on these trips (even if they are never as good as in-person ones)? Have you ever visited this region?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Wish You Were Here Wednesday ~ June 21, 2017

Today is the official first day of Summer, the longest day of the year. And it’s been pizza oven hot. So…it made me think I’d like to revisit a place that had a ‘cool vibe’ to it and one that I happened to have visited before.

 

Excuse the hair-humidity does me in.

Let’s hop on our magic carpet ride to the fabulous 111-acre botanical park known as Insel Mainau on the Bodensee, the largest lake in the German-speaking world, (aka Lake Constance), located on the border where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet. Insel Mainau is known as the “Island of Flowers.” It was a lovely day with perfect conditions for taking in all the incredible sights on the island still owned by the Lennart Bernadotte family. The more than 150 year old Arboretum with its giant Sequoias welcomes you to relax and enjoy an amazing place. Mainau contains around a million tulips, Rhododendrons, roses, perennials and dahlias that bloom in clever beds throughout the gardens. Palms and citrus plants also lend a Mediterranean flair to the island in summer. 

 

We hung out for a short time prior to boarding our ferry in Meersburg checking out some of the sights, one of which looms high over this Baroque town. Poetess Annette von Droste-Hülshoff used the Old Castle in Meersburg from 1841 until her death in 1848. More than 30 rooms are available to tour year round but we came for the spectacular gardens and did not go through the castle.

Ferry dock at Meersburg
Bird’s eye view – Courtesy: BodenSee.de website

Accessing Mainau is done either by bridge from the town of Lindau on the southern side or by ferry from Meersburg on the northern side. My previous trip I drove through Lindau but this time we took the ferry from Meersburg. But before we begin our tour, here’s a bit of historical background. Born a Swedish prince, Lennart Bernadotte designed the former summer residence of his great-grandfather, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden, as a flower and plant paradise and made it accessible to the public. Siblings Bettina Gräfin Bernadotte and Björn Graf Bernadotte now run the foundation which manages the island and promotes conservation and protection of the environment. Rare plants, more than a million tulips, hyacinths and narcissi, a stunning collection of dahlias and 250 species of roses, highlight the gardens. The diverse collection contains over 800 varieties making this landscape interesting in all seasons. One of my favorite parts of the gardens are the massive topiaries which offer a whimsical look around the grounds.

Humans on the far left provide scale.

 

 

 

 

 

A gaggle of flowers!

 

 

 

 

That’s some rose tree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With beautiful and astounding specimens of roses together with restful spots and secret places to linger, you’re sure to find something that impresses and appeals to your senses.


These cascading walkways take my breath away with their beautiful design. Every. time. I. visit.

I could have stayed here for days and even though I’ve been there twice now, I know I haven’t seen it all. Guess I just need to take another trip! Darn…twist my arm…please?

Lovely Meersburg with the Old Castle on upper left.
Tschüss!

Come back again for another “Wish You Were Here Wednesday.” Have you ever been to Insel Mainau?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎