Sunday, 24 September 2017

September Holiday: Zurich, Day 1

Last night I returned from two weeks away, my third (!) holiday this year. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have never believed that one day I'd be one of those people who go on holiday three times a year! Not to mention all the wonderful weekends away (some longer, some "normal" ones) that I get to spend at O.K.'s; those often feel like mini holidays, too.
We left O.K.'s village for Zurich on the 12th of this month. The drive there took about 3 hours - it would have been much shorter if we had not arrived at the outskirts of the city just in time for the after work rush hour.
Never mind, we found our quarters (an apartment close to the city centre, but in a quiet road nonetheless) and had a first quick look around before finding a place where we had dinner. It was sunny when we arrived, but rained later and during the night.
The next morning, Wednesday (the 13th), was still overcast and threatening with rain. Undeterred by the weather, we decided to take a train to the Uetliberg (Mount Uetli) which overlooks the city and the lake.
First view of Zurich on our way from the train station to the top:
These fellows line the path leading to the top. I suppose they are based on a legend: Princesses Berta and Hildegard, two sisters, lived in the 9th century in a castle on top of one of the mountains. They were so pious that not only did they spend nearly all day in prayer and contemplation, but walked all the way down the mountain into Zurich to pray there each evening in a chapel.
The way through the woods was dark and dangerous, and the sisters were always a little afraid of walking there. One night they saw a light shine between the trees. Getting closer, they found it was a white stag, carrying candles in his antlers. The white stag lead the way to a spot where the sisters found the burial site of Zurich's two patron saints, siblings Felix and Regula. The sisters prayed there until the stag lead them back home.
This happened night after night, until the princesses' father heard of it. He was angry that his daughters had been leaving the castle on their own each night, and did not believe their story of the stag until he followed them one night. The sisters prayed for a sign to show their father that they were right in returning to the same place every night for prayer, and a green rope descended from the sky.
Their father was convinced, and the Fraunm├╝nser ("Ladies' Minster") was built on the spot.
This viewing tower is a 1999 replacement of an older structure. It was very windy that day, and nobody was on top. At first, I didn't dare to climb up, but when O.K. said he was going to, I joined him and did not regret it - the views in all directions were great! But it really WAS windy, and I made sure to keep close to the rails and hold fast to them whenever there was a particular strong gust.
You can tell from my pictures that the sky changed rapidly with the strong winds. I could have taken photos every few seconds but limited myself to only a few. Eventually, we climbed back down and started to walk to Felsenegg through the woods.  
A rusty gate leading nowhere:

Looking back towards the viewing tower where we had been:
An abandoned restaurant:
On the other side of the road, I thought at first this was a cemetery - but then we realised these are the stone feet of tables and benches that once belonged to the abandoned restaurant:

At Felsensegg, we took a cable car down the mountain and a train back into town. The weather was improving; it was early afternoon now. I will show you the pictures I took then in another post.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Flowers and Pumpkins

Ludwigsburg in itself does not have anything to do with pumpkins, but for the past 20 years or so, a pumpkin exhibition has been held every autumn at the palace grounds. I have posted pictures of it for the past few years; you can find them all if you simply put "pumpkins" in the search box at the top left corner of my blog.

Speaking of the top left corner of my blog - look a little further down, and you'll find a clickable picture that takes you straight to my Mum's Etsy Shop, where she sells her hand-knitted socks, mittens, woolly hats and other things. Now that the colder season is quickly approaching (and can already be felt here in the mornings and evenings), maybe you'll want to stock up on warm, cosy things  for yourself or as a present :-)

Back to topic! This year's pumpkin exhibition opened last Friday. On the Saturday, we went to have a look - not specifically for the pumpkins, but because we wanted to have a walk in the palace grounds. The flowers are still beautiful this time of year, but definitely look different now from what it was like only a few weeks ago:

Further on we walked, and arrived at that part of the park where the pumpkin exhibition is set up. This year's theme is "Rome".

This one is for Kay!

We continued our walk by crossing the busy road that separates the two parks (palace grounds and the deer park) and took the long, pleasant detour home through the deer park.

No deer was to be seen this time, but the mufflon sheep were enjoying the afternoon sun and green grass on the meadow in front of the game keeper's house.

It was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and all within walking distance.

Tomorrow, I am travelling to O.K.'s. I will be away from home for two weeks and won't be as regular in reading and commenting on your blogs as usual, as I do not like to do much reading and typing on my mobile phone.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

One Stage, Six Countries

In my previous post, I told you we went to France to attend the Festival du Houblon, a festival dedicated to music and dance from five continents. We only caught a few hours of what goes on in the town of Haguenau for almost a whole week, and did not get to see and hear groups from all five continents, but what we did see was amazing and wonderful.

My photos can of course only give you a poor impression of the whirl of colours and sounds, but you are also spared the hot, humid air in the hall and getting stuck to a plastic chair for hours ;-)

If you want to know more about the groups, simply click back one post, follow the link to the festival's website and there, go to the page about the musicians and groups - they provide links to youtube videos from each group there.

I particularly liked some of the ladies' costumes and just wish I had better photos to show you. All music was played live by their own accompanying bands.

Here they are! First, a group from Uruguay:

Next was a group of Swabian folk dancers, dressed in traditional costumes of various towns (not all of them wearing the same costumes). In traditional Swabian peasant's dances, there is quite a lot of cheerfulness, but in comparison to what the preceeding group from South America had been showing, it all looked rather tame. Still, they are traditions in their own right, and not be esteemed any less for just being different.

An Italian group of drummers and flag spinners were very impressive - even though their fanfare trumpets (not sure whether this is the right term for their brass instruments) were rather out of tune. Of course them wearing my favourite colours of yellow and light blue was an extra bonus!

Bulgaria followed:

Bolivia started off with a somewhat scary dance of masked dancers:

But I really, really liked those skirts and blouses the ladies wore:

They ended their performance with a warrior dance:


The show went on; China was next, I believe, but it was already 10:30 pm and our bus was waiting to take us all back home across the border to Germany. It was a very different Saturday night for me!