Monthly Archives: August 2013

Visiting Locarno, Switzerland

Lake Locarno, Switzerland

Lake Maggiore, Locarno, Switzerland

While still living in the Netherlands we took a weekend trip to visit a friend in Locarno, Switzerland. It was my first time in that part of Switzerland and it was nice. The picture above was taken at Lake Maggiore in Locarno and is located just down the road from where we were visiting.

Heading up the road...and I mean 'UP'.

Heading up the road…and I mean ‘UP’.

Unfortunately most of my pictures didn’t come out too well as I was still learning how to use my new camera. The picture above is of the road up the mountain. It doesn’t look like much of an incline but I can tell you that it is quite a hike. Trust me!

Birdies enjoying a nice treat someone left them.

Birdies enjoying a nice treat someone left them.

We took a stroll along Lake Maggiore despite the temperatures being quite chilly….okay it was downright cold actually but it was a nice sunny day. I took the above picture of birds enjoying a treat that someone kindly left them somewhere along the stroll.

Up close and personal with the birds of Locarno

Up close and personal with the birds of Locarno

View of some of the mountains from in town.

View of some of the mountains from in town.

We were only in Locarno for a night or two and then headed to Campione so these are the best pictures that I took at that time. This was a view of the mountains from in town.

Nice misty mountain picture, Locarno, Switzerland

Nice misty mountain picture, Locarno, Switzerland

I thought the above picture was pretty cool. It was a foggy morning with the sun trying to peak through the mist. Very mysterious and peaceful at the same time.

Cool fountain at the top of the hill.

Cool fountain at the top of the hill.

One morning we walked up the hill to find this very cool fountain.

Up close and personal with the fountain.

Up close and personal with the fountain.

Up that same hilly road we found such nice paintings and statues. The picture below is of one of them.

Pretty painting on the side of the road...

Pretty painting on the side of the road…

Like I said, it was a quick visit and so I didn’t really get to see too much of the town. It was nice being able to see our friends there though and that’s what counts. Next time I visit Locarno I’ll take more pictures and explore more.

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Prague Around Christmas Time!

Looking out at Wenceslas Square, Prague

Looking out at Wenceslas Square, Prague

Now in the last post I told you that we were heading towards home but I want to tell you about some places we visited before we left the Netherlands.

Arriving at the airport in Prague.

Arriving at the airport in Prague.

Around Christmas time we met a friend of ours in his birthplace of Prague, Czech Republic and had a really nice time.

Wenceslas Square, Prague

Wenceslas Square, Prague

Matt and I took off on a walk about of the city two of the afternoons we were there. Although it was really cold (and wet and snowy on one of the days) we had fun looking at all the sites.

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Charles Bridge, Prague

The first place we headed to was the Charles Bridge where six years before Matt and I got engaged. We wanted to take another picture there to commemorate the date again.

Returning to the scene of the crime LOL!

Returning to the scene of the crime LOL!

At this spot on the bridge is a gold cross that people traditionally put their hands on and make a wish. The story of this spot is that back in 1393 John of Nepomuk, who is now a saint, was thrown off the bridge to his death because he would not divulge the contents of the king’s wife’s confessions to the king.

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This spot commorates John of Nepomuk.

Legend has it now that anyone who touches this spot and makes a wish will have that wish granted by the saint. Thus the reason that Matt and I were engaged here and returned to make another wish this time.

Locks on the bridge

Locks on the bridge

Also, many people put locks on this spot. We’ve seen this phenomenon all over the world in different historical spots. Apparently this is a custom called Love Locks where lovers write their names on a lock, attach it to a bridge and throw the key in the water symbolizing that they will never leave each other. Had I known what this was all about I might have brought a lock too but alas I didn’t.

I have this fascination with birds on statues...it cracks me up!

I have this fascination with birds on statues…it cracks me up!

If you only see one thing in Prague than the Charles Bridge should definitely be it in my opinion. It is covered in beautiful statues and on nice days (and even rainy, cold days) you’ll see all sorts of artists selling their pictures, artwork and jewelry among other things.

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Me with more examples of the statues on Charles Bridge, Prague

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Even on rainy days there is a sizable crowd on the Charles Bridge leading to Prague Castle.

Next we headed to the Old Town Square to see the Prague Astronomical Clock. This clock, also known as Prague Orloj, is an medieval clock that was first installed in 1410 is the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.

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Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square, Prague

Check out the video of it doing it’s thing at the  top of the hour:

Some of the beautiful buildings in Old Town Square, Prague

Some of the beautiful buildings in Old Town Square, Prague

Pre-Christmas crowds in Old Town Square, Prague

Pre-Christmas crowds in Old Town Square, Prague

You see some characters when you travel the world...Prague was no different!

You see some characters when you travel the world…Prague was no different!

Next Matt and I took a bike tour of Prague in order (we thought) to see the city faster and be warmer after all someone else was peddling and we got a nice blanket. It was a faster way of seeing the city but by the end of the tour we were still freezing.

On the tour we went through the Jewish Quarter of Prague and came across the memorial to Franz Kafka. Kafka was one of Prague’s famous writers who always seemed to mention the city in many of his stories. This statue was created by Jaroslav Rona and erected on Dusni Street fairly recently. (Click here to read more about the work)

Memorial to Franz Kafka in the Jewish Quarter, Prague

Memorial to Franz Kafka in the Jewish Quarter, Prague

As we continued our tour of the city we came across several sculptures that left us scratching our heads. This picture below is of one of those such sculptures. If anyone has any insight on this one please leave a comment to fill us all in on it. I didn’t find out who the sculptor was so it makes it harder to find anything on it.

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Strange babies with zippers on their faces crawling around? But why?

The yellow penguins below apparently rise up when they open the locks to let boats go through but we didn’t get to witness the rise of the penguins.

What city doesn't have yellow penguins?

What city doesn’t have yellow penguins?

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Muzeum stop in the Metro. I just really liked the way it looked.

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Some of the subway escalators are REALLY high!

While in Prague we both also got an opportunity to play our first ever poker tourney. I didn’t do great but it was a fun experience and one must celebrate with some local brew afterwards of course!

My first WSOP Poker Tourney!

My first WPT Poker Tourney!

The night before we left Matt and I had a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Potrefena Husa.

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Potrefena Husa restaurant, Prague, CZ

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New Year’s was around the corner so Na zdraví

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Our UF companion, Gordon Gecko, had a bit to drink too!

And such ended our beautiful extended weekend in Prague.

Categories: Czech Republic, Czech Republic, Prague, Prague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Leaving The Netherlands

Waiting for the bus on the corner of our street in Alphen, NL

Waiting for the bus on the corner of our street in Alphen, NL

Although we really intended on living in the Netherlands for at least a year Matt and I decided to head home after only 6 months (for him) and 3 months (for me). My visitors visa was coming to an end and after 6 months his work visa was yet to be seen.

The message from our landlords when we arrived at our apartment in Alphen.

The message from our landlords when we arrived at our apartment in Alphen.

With our rental agreement coming to an end too and no guarantee when that elusive work visa was coming we decided that heading to the next place was best.

Our message to our landlords upon our departure from Alphen.

Our message to our landlords upon our departure from Alphen.

So on that cold January day we packed up all our possessions (again) and headed to the bus stop on the corner of our street in Alphen aan den Rijn for the first part of our trip towards home.

We enjoyed the Netherlands and the people we met there (Hi Marjolein, Christian and Menno)! We hope that we will all stay in touch for years to come. I enjoyed the country especially for its openness, tolerance and mission to being green and clean.

I loved the windmills, canals, stroopwafels (my waist could have done without those though), and mass transit. I wish I would have seen the tulips in bloom (arrived too late for that) but maybe one day we’ll vacation there again and catch that.

I found this great video to end this Netherlands portion of the blog so you have a great idea of the attitude of the people there. Very friendly, fun people. Until we meet again! 🙂

Categories: Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Amsterdam Canal Cruise – Day 2: The Blizzard Tour

At points visibility was really low!

At points visibility was really low!

Because we couldn’t get in all the canal cruises in on Day 1 we headed back to Amsterdam the next day despite the fact that it was snowing like heck most of the day. It actually made the day a bit more fun and adventurous especially because the Dutch railroad is NOT known for it’s dependability when it snows. In the back of our minds we thought there might be the possibility that we would have to find a bus to get home or a hotel to stay in overnight. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary and we were able to get home via the railroad.

Matt ready to take on day 2!

Matt ready to take on day 2!

This duck, however, thinks we're crazy!

This duck, however, thinks we’re crazy!

And, of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure without a picture of us! 🙂

Neither rain nor snow nor...oh wait that's not our motto!

Neither rain nor snow nor…oh wait that’s not our motto!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this day because the snow was coming down pretty thick most of the day. It was fun but it was hard getting great pictures…

The visibility was like this on and off all day.

The visibility was like this on and off all day.

The next couple of shots are of a replica of the famous Dutch ship called The Amsterdam. It was an 18th Century cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company. If you would like to know all about this beautiful ship CLICK HERE.

Beautiful Dutch Ship

Beautiful Dutch Ship

Beautiful Dutch Ship 2

Beautiful Dutch Ship 2

Dutch flagging flying high!

Dutch flagging flying high!

Right next to this lovely ship you’ll find the National Maritime Museum also known as Het Scheepvaartmuseum!

Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam

Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam

Just in case you weren’t convinced about how cold it was, here are some icy canal photos. For more of a real experience put on the theme to Titanic and you’ll be hearing exactly what I was hearing (well, in my head at least…In reality I was hearing scraping ice on the side of the boat too…) while on the boat.

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Does that seagull look pissed to you? He’s at least moderately grumpy due to the whole ice thing…

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You can’t really tell from the photo but this ice is fairly thick.

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Ice covered boats, Amsterdam

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I think some of these boats have seen better days!

Here is some raw footage of our icy Amsterdam Canal cruise. Being I am so behind on my travel blogs I didn’t take any extra time to edit out and only pick the key moments but I think you’ll still enjoy watching this.

Matt in Amsterdam City Center in the snow!!!

Matt in Amsterdam City Center in the snow!!!

A very cold me in front of Amsterdam Centraal Station on way back to Alphen.

A very cold me in front of Amsterdam Centraal Station on way back to Alphen.

Amsterdam Centraal Station is housed in a really beautiful old and ornate building. Simply gorgeous. Check out this quick little video I made of the building and the area around it. It was impossible to get that big building in one photo and do it justice but the video does a really good job of it.

Well that’s all for our Amsterdam travels. Just a few more Netherlands post and we’re off to the next destination. Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Netherlands | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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