It’s been awhile since I have participated in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, but I am back in time to contribute to this week’s bridges!
LAPC: Delicate Colors in Nature
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #98 is by Leya: Delicate Colors. The first thing that comes to mind is flowers.
Gardens in springtime, when the green is new
A graceful swan on a rippling lake
Trees in fog
Sunsets are sometimes brilliant, but sometimes their colors are delicate.
Top o’ the Morning!
I don’t usually get up early. Especially now – what’s the point? I can’t go anywhere anyway! I have a routine of getting up, getting a cup of tea (I can’t tolerate coffee anymore, although I love it), a banana and a piece of Babybel cheese, and then going to a comfortable spot to read and enjoy my morning snack. In warm weather, I like to sit on the porch and breathe the morning air. So it’s usually 10 a.m. or later before I get going with my day.
But when we travel with tour groups, we often have to get up very early, and on those occasions I do have the opportunity to appreciate the early morning, or Top o’ the morning, as the Irish say, (and in order to fit into Becky’s April Square Tops!)
So for Lens-Artists photo challenge#93 with the topic morning, I am posting some photos I took early in the morning while traveling, mostly with tours, in 2018-2019.
On safari, it’s a given to get up really early, so you can have breakfast and go on a game drive in the early morning when the animals tend to be more active. So every day, our alarm was set for 6 a.m. – when I hear that alarm tune on my husband’s tablet, I still think I’m in Tanzania!
DES MOINES, IOWA
My husband tends to wake up really early whenever we’re sleeping somewhere away from home. Sometimes he wakes me up too. Here we got a great photo overlooking the river toward downtown Des Moines. You can see the capitol building in the distance!
We were in Egypt in the winter, so I often captured the rising sun between 8 and 9 a.m.!
In order to cram as many sites as possible into one day, our tour company in Israel required us to be on the bus no later than 7:30. So we got up at 6 a.m. every morning, and went downstairs to breakfast between 6:30 and 7:00.
On our European cruise last summer, we only had to get up very early a couple of days. Usually, we’d wake up and go out on the balcony of our stateroom.
Although when I’m home, I stay up late (I’m writing this after midnight! – I’m late, sorry, Becky!) and get up late the next morning, when we travel, even on days we don’t have to get up early, we usually do because we are excited! I cherish these last trips we took before the quarantine put a stop to my planning for the next trip, scheduled for this month! But we won’t be stuck at home forever, and I look forward to more adventures soon!
Lens-Artists #89: A River Runs Through It
Amy at Lens-Artists has as her theme for this week’s challenge: river.
Starting out close to home, here is the Des Plaines River during a November walk on the Des Plaines River Trail. This is a very pretty stretch of the slow-moving river, but it is responsible for many floods in the cities along its banks due to heavy rain.
The Des Plaines River, which gave the suburban city that was my home for over 30 years its name, flows 133 miles southward from southern Wisconsin to south of Joliet, Illinois, where it joins the Kankakee River and becomes part of the Illinois River. Contrary to popular opinion, Des Plaines, a French name, does not mean “of the plains.” It actually refers to either the sycamore or the maple tree, which resembles the European plane tree, and was named by French traders in the 18th century.
The Chicago River is prominently featured in many photos of downtown Chicago and can be viewed from any of the bridges on main thoroughfares of the city. This photo was taken at Michigan and Wacker near the site of the original Fort Dearborn.
Chicago celebrates its river by dying it Kelly green every St. Patrick’s Day (although they didn’t do that this year – celebrations were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic), by constructing a pleasant river walk lined with eateries, which is still under construction, and opening a River Museum that tells the story of the Chicago River and offers nice views of the river from its windows. The river is most famous for an engineering feat undertaken at the turn of the 20th century: the main stem of the river’s flow was reversed so that it now flows out of Lake Michigan, through a system of locks. This increased the volume of the river, which now empties into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The Colorado River is the most iconic and important river in southwestern United States. It is responsible for carving some of the most beautiful scenery of the west, including the Grand Canyon and others preserved in 11 national parks. This photo was taken at the Grand Canyon and is strangely the only photo I have of the river!
The Colorado River starts in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and meanders southward 1,450 miles to the Gulf of California. The river and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people in the Southwest. Native Americans have occupied the Colorado Basin for at least 8,000 years and the culture of the region is strongly influenced by their presence. The Desert View Watchtower, from where the above photo was taken, was designed by Mary Colter who took inspiration from the native peoples that inhabited and continue to dwell in the region. Below is the Watchtower from the inside and outside.
No tour of American rivers would be complete without the Mighty Mississippi! Below are two photos of the river just north of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the border. It was nearly sunset when we got to this spot.
A view of a couple of the bridges across the Mississippi at that spot
Flowing southward 2,320 miles from its origin near Lake Itasca, Minnesota, it is the second longest river in North America. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi watershed drains 32 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. Native Americans have lived along this river for thousands of years, including the mound builders who are now thought to have been one of the major ancient civilizations in the Americas. The region along which it passes is very fertile and it is now a common riverboat cruise vacation, inspired by the steamboats that have plied its waters for the last two centuries, as well as other riverboats carrying cargo, animals and people as a main form of transportation.
Jumping to another continent, Africa is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. The Nile was at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization, which grew up along its banks where the land was fertile. The ancient Egyptians depended on its annual inundation, which no longer occurs due to dams, especially the High Dam of Aswan.
Sunset on the Nile:
Fishermen on the Nile
The Nile originates south of the equator and flows northward 4,132 miles to empty into the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur, meaning “black” due to the color of the mud created by the sediments when it was flooded. Because of the direction of flow from south to north, the ancient Egyptians referred to their southern territory as “Upper Egypt” and the northern territory and the Delta “Lower Egypt.”
The most famous river in the Bible is the Jordan River. Many songs and prayers refer to it and today many pilgrims go to the river to be baptized.
A friend about to be baptized at Yardenit Baptismal Center
The Jordan River connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. 156 miles long, it runs north to south along the border between Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel and Southwestern Syria.
Another river in Israel is the Dan. The Dan River originates in Israel and is the largest of the three principal tributaries of the Jordan River. The Dan River flows from Tel Dan, the site of the biblical city of Dan (Laish). The river is fed by the rains and snowmelt that pass through the rock of Mount Hermon and emerge at its foot to form hundreds of springs.
The Tel Dan Nature Reserve has hiking trails and encompasses the ruins of Tel Dan.
Last summer we took a river cruise in Europe, on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.
Cruises on the Rhine River are popular, because one can view a series of medieval castles rising on the hills along its banks, as well as sample a variety of wines grown in its vineyards that cover the hillsides. This photo was taken from Marksburg Castle in Germany.
Wine growing and castles are beautiful scenery on the Rhine.
The Rhine is the second longest river in central/west Europe, about 760 miles (1,230 km) long. It originates in the Swiss Alps and flows north to empty into the North Sea. The Rhine and Danube rivers comprised most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire.
Through a series of locks, a river cruise travels from the Rhine into the Main River and then into the Danube. The Main River is located entirely within Germany.
We went through a series of locks.
The Main River is 326 miles (525 km) long, the longest tributary of the Rhine. Major cities along the Main include Frankfurt and Würzburg.
The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe (longest is the Volga) and flows through 10 countries, more than any other river in the world.
The Danube, called Donau in German, flows 1,770 miles (2,580 km) southeast, originating in the Black Forest of Germany and emptying into the Black Sea. Four national capitals are located along the river: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade.
A tributary of the Danube is the Inn River which flows through Switzerland, Austria and southern Germany.
Ducks on the Inn River at Schärding, Austria
The Inn is 322 miles (518 km) long and forms part of the Austria-Germany border at Passau. There is a coin-sized marker on this bridge, indicating the border: on the left is Germany, on the right is Austria.
Melk Abbey and Town
July 5, 2019
Today we docked at Melk, a town on the Danube known for its abbey, which sits on a cliff overlooking the town. A bus drove us up the hill to tour the abbey.
The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1089. A monastic school was established in the 12th century and the library soon became renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts.
The Baroque abbey seen today was built between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes painted by Austrian artist Johann Michael Rottmayr and the medieval manuscript collection which includes a famous collection of music manuscripts.
Frescoes in the library were painted by Paul Troger, distinguished by their pastel colors and dramatic sense of movement. We could not take photos inside the abbey but I took many of the exterior, with its views of the town and beautiful gardens.
The abbey managed to escape a series of threats, such as dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790, because of its fame and academic stature; and during the Napoleonic Wars. When Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938, the school and a large part of the abbey were taken over by the state.
The school was returned to the jurisdiction of the abbey after World War II and it continues in operation to this day, with an enrollment of 900 students of both genders.
Melk Abbey has been mentioned or featured in several works of literature and films.
Entryways (aka doorways)…
Looking down on the entrance to the abbey…
Views from the upper patio of the abbey
Scattered around the gardens were whimsical sculptures of animals.
Abbey mascot? I found this friendly Manx cat just chillin’ in the front courtyard of the abbey. She didn’t appear at all fazed by the crowds of tourists. I speculated that her home was one of the houses that are located on the hill just below the abbey.
By the time I saw this cat, I had determined to walk back to the ship – it was all downhill and I could use the exercise. Dale didn’t want to walk, however, so I left him to take the bus back.
I was looking forward to taking a lot of photos of the town, which I did, but in the end, I got lost and ended up having to ask for directions and backtrack to get back to the ship.
On my way downhill, meanwhile, I saw restaurants and small patios wedged between houses on the hillside.
As I descended, I passed through the main commercial area, lined with restaurants and tourist shops. And one shop that sold lederhosen!
And there were a few interesting doors, to satisfy Norm’s Thursday Doors aficionados…
Sculptures and installations…
Close-up of Bioblo blocks (including Bioblo doors! 😉 )
Finally, I reached the bar/restaurant/souvenir shop where we had gathered to get on the bus at the beginning of the tour. (When I saw it, I remembered it…”Oh, yeah!!”)
From behind this building, it was a short hike along the river dock back to the ship! What a relief!
Landscapes Around the World
Nancy’s A Photo A Week challenge this week features landscapes.
These are some landscapes from my travels, and closer to home.
July in Austria – scene looking down from Melk Abbey, where the Inn and Danube Rivers meet.
Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
June in Arches National Park, Utah
December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt
Weekly Prompt: Clock the Time
The Weekly Prompts from GC and Me theme is Clock the Time. These photos of clocks are all from our 2019 summer trip to Europe. Most of these clocks are on tall towers. Interestingly, they all use Roman numerals (except the one on a sign), which until recent times was actually quite common.
On the Rhine River in Germany
The clock is only one of many interesting details on this church steeple!
Regensburg, Germany – not Roman numerals exactly, but sort of…
Schärding, Austria – clock on a sign!
Melk, Austria – Melk Abbey
Cruising the Danube in Austria – another intricate church steeple!
WPPC: Touring an Austrian Winery
The Weekly Prompts Photo Challenge this week has the topic of bottles.
On July 5, our Viking Grand European Tour river cruise ship arrived in Austria. We spent the day exploring Melk and cruising; then in the evening, a few of us took an optional tour to visit the Mörwald Winery, and were shown around by the owner, Grüner Rosenberg, with the help of our guide to translate (and mimic)!
The vintner, wearing lederhosen, greeted us outside and showed us his wine-making operation.
Our guide was actually an American (I asked her, since her English was absolutely American-perfect!) who has spent several years living in Austria. She always leads the tours to this winery and she and Grüner have a tremendous rapport! When he would make gestures to illustrate some aspect of wine making, he expected her to make the same gestures as she translated! Actually, Grüner does speak some English, but is more comfortable explaining in German with a translator.
Viking buys a lot of wine from Mörwald Winery, and may be at least partly responsible for keeping them in business! 350,000 bottles of wine are produced for Viking each year by Mörwald alone!
Mörwald is located in the Wachau Valley in northern Austria, which is well known for its wines. As we were cruising the Danube, we saw many hillsides covered with wine-growing grapes.
At least three people are involved in the actual production of wine. Three people working in one room can produce 3,000 bottles of wine per hour! Grüner took us through the factory and explained how different types of wine are made.
One type of wine, for example, is called “Malachit” – this is one of the finer wines: it is less acid and takes more time fermenting. Another type, “Grappa” is schnapps made from red wine mash. Grappa is made from some of the leftovers of the production of the more common wines.
Wine production today, of course, is no longer a matter of actually squishing grapes with one’s feet, but instead takes place inside these huge vats, using heat and pressure.
Here Grüner explains what happens inside the vats using pressing down motions, which the guide obediently repeated while translating!
Finally came the best part – wine tasting! We were seated in a room at high tables, which were supplied with wine glasses, a tub for emptying whatever we didn’t drink before taking the next sample, and water to cleanse our palates. We tasted six different types of wine that Morwald produces (and probably had tasted a few of them on board our ship already!). Grüner sat on a bench with his wine glass and made sure we all learned how to raise a toast in German!
If you ever take a Viking cruise in that region, I strongly recommend taking this optional, fun tour!
Lens-Artist #64: Countryside and/or Small Town
Lens-Artists #64 has the theme Countryside and/or Small Towns. We saw many beautiful places on our European vacation in June/July. Yes, it was exciting to visit large cities like Paris and Amsterdam, but the most beautiful places were the rural areas and small towns. I also include beautiful country scenes from other trips.
On July 8, we visited the last city on our river cruise. If we could have taken more time in Budapest, Hungary, I would have liked to see more of it – well, there’s always the next time! This is what I tell myself every time I have to pass up something on a trip in order to see something else.
Dutch Goes the Photo this week has the theme of City. I am only posting here the photos that show the city overall; I will post more of Budapest in a later post.
Budapest is really two cities – Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other. In the morning, we went to Buda, but the first photo is of Pest, looking across the river. That large white building in the middle with the orange dome is the Parliament building.
Looking down at buildings below
Ferris wheels seem to be fashionable in cities these days! I took this photo on a bus tour of Budapest.
Jewish Quarter street scene, Budapest