Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And the Winner Is --- Delft!

Of all the cool places I got to visit this summer, Delft was my favorite. The town's canals make every exploration a delight. The gentle canals are peaceful and harmonious. We even got to enjoy a couple of hours without rain, so we snapped pictures as quickly as possible.

At one point, it was even nice enough for me to take off my jacket!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Funniest Little Fountain Ever

To our surprise, the most famous tourist site in Brussels is not the Magritte Museum or St. Michael's Cathedral, both of which are very interesting. Instead, the most famous site is this pissing boy!

In fact, everyone comes to see the statue no matter what else they do in Belgium. Everybody capitalizes on its popularity--even the nearby french fry store!


Brugge is a sweet little town--too bad we mostly had to see it in the rain! Finally we got a clear afternoon to visit the bell tower. It's a large carillon with a sweet sound. A couple of times an hour it plays a prerecorded song created by hammering iron pegs into a grid--very cool.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beauty in Small Faces

The fjords are quite beautiful--we had a thrilling time sailing into the Geiranger fjord and back out again.Mountains on all side, clear, deep, cold water--it's a breath taking sight.

But nevertheless, despite all the natural beauty and all the art museums and all the town squares in all my summer travels, there are a couple of sights even more precious waiting for me in Springfield--the bright faces of my two small nieces!
                                                               Photo by E. Ransdell

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunny Surprises

In Alesund, we were lucky enough to hit a bright, sunny day. Long pants were too hot! It was wonderful! (I think my friends would have preferred the cold, but all the Norwegians were delighted by the surprisingly warm summer's day. The temperature must have been at least 75 degrees! (That's 23 degrees Celsius.)

We started our day's tour by climbing the nearest hill, which is what gave us such a gorgeous view of the city.

When we got to Geirganger Fjord, we knew it was time to start making friends. It seems that the natives are actually quite friendly....

North to Norway

 Finally made it to Norway! Usually when I hit Europe, I go south to the beaches or at least to Italy, but this time I was brave enough to go the other direction. As you can see, on the Hardanger Plain, it's a nice, sunny summer's day! (It's a good thing I remembered to bring something for my ears....)

Luckily, getting there was half the fun. Cruising the fjords was a real treat.... even if we had to keep our heaviest clothes on!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Celebration in Cambridge

Once I'd visited Oxford, it seemed only fair to visit Cambridge as well. Inadvertently, the day I chose was Graduation Day! I saw lots of tired students and happy parents. The students were strutting all around town in their black gowns while their parents followed right behind. There was joy in the air!

Unfortunately for me, however, that meant that most of the colleges were closed to visitors. In order to see King's College, I had to go to evensong!

It's always best to take college with a grain of salt, however. That's why I like the picture of the guy having lunch near the "Don't step on the grass" sign! For crying out loud, why bother to have such nice grass if you can't walk on it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tolkien Country

I thought it was time to finally visit universities even more famous than the U of A! So we went to Oxford. Things are arranged quite differently in England. Oxford actually consists of lots of different colleges. You can go in and visit many of them, but the only one I wanted to tour was Merton--which is where J.R.R. Tolkien was a professor. Afterwards I took a long walk around the canal, thinking, hmm, this is where he could have gotten the idea for Rivendell......

Who wouldn't get great ideas walking around such a beautiful place? But of course, I was lucky enough to be there on a sunny day, so everything seemed possible!

Elves would be here, of course, lurking behind the trees. And dwarves just around the corner. Of course, J.R.R. was doing all this thinking and writing in his "spare" time....

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chillingly Diabolical

It's summer, so I'm out and about again. This year I started in Stratford-upon-Avon. Although my friends and I enjoyed John III and Julius Caesar, Jonjo's O'Neill's performance in the title role of Richard III blew us away. O'Neill was brilliant as the heartless ruler. O'Neill started his performance on a casual note, so we were taken off guard when he reeled in the audience along with his victims, one by one.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 Carnival Blues

It was difficult to hear all about carnival this year and not have a chance to participate--oh, if I could only be at two places at once! But I tried to keep up with the activities by reading about them--and then collecting email news from friends who were able to participate--either in Venice or Ivrea or New Orleans.

This picture was shot on Valentine's Day, 2012. by Sandra Cuel, my good friend from Austria who has often joined me in Venice either for carnival or during the summer. This early morning shot has all the right elements--a beautiful "mask" against the soft morning light. What you can't see is the "mask's" breath, but Sandra assured me that it was a very cold morning!

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