Big Cranky Bison

Internet for 2 seconds again, yippee!!

Taken a few days ago on the Pelican Valley hike in Yellowstone. Such a gorgeous hike, but beware of the cranky bison next to the hiking path. He stared us down until we were out of sight.

Craving Krakow

Sometimes I wish I were back in Krakow, Poland. I had such an incredible visit there last year. As it is less visited than other European cities, I thought it was worth mentioning here, because personally I found Krakow interesting and enchanting.

Early morning light in Krakow

Not long ago Krakow was under a Communist regime (it ended in 1989), and even longer ago it was in the shadow of the Holocaust (two main concentration camps were located very nearby), and yet the city and its people shine through.  If you are interested in history you will find much to explore here.

There is a beautiful main square with a large market in the centre:

Sidestreet in Krakow, looking onto the main square.

Main Square at night

Statue honouring Copernicus, who studied at the university in Krakow.

The Jewish Quarter – signs showing how the shops used to look.

We visited the Wieliczka salt mine – it was a short bus ride from Krakow, and was entirely worth the ride.  It was built, can you believe it, in the thirteenth century.  And functioned as a mine until as recently as 2007.  As you will see by my photos, it has some of the typical features of a mine (going down deep – 327 metres!, small walkways, mine shafts) but it is much more incredible:  not only does it have 300 km of pathways but it also features a bar and restaurant, a cavernous chapel (which still has weekly services and which has weddings), and statues of Copernicus and others, including the dwarves which were said to live in the mine.  Here are some of my shots:

Going down, down, down… (there’s a crazy old elevator that takes you back up!)

Salt mine

Statue of Copernicus – he visited the mine.

The amazing chapel deep underground

Altar in the chapel. Note that everything you see is made of SALT. Hence why it glows when it lights up, as you see here. Even the chandeliers are made of salt!

Finally, I really enjoyed seeing (and using) the old communist-era streetcars in Krakow – they have so much character!
Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday,

northkate

Streetcar no. 1

Streetcar no. 2 – my fav.


 

 

In Yellowstone!!!

It will be 3 weeks tomorrow, and I am loving it!

So much to describe here, but my internet time is quite limited, so I’ll show you a pic from the Specimen Ridge hike in Lamar Valley.

WHAT A VIEW!

Biking in Burgundy

Your faithful guest blogger is back from Copenhagen – notes and photos on that later!

I’d like to share one of my favourite trips outside of Switzerland – biking in Burgundy, France (I thought I’d clarify in case you were thinking the post was about cycling in a maroon shirt…).

In essence, going on this trip feels like you are in a French film – you wind your way through French vineyards, glide through old French wine-making villages, take in the breathtaking scenery, even stopping to sample a grape now and then.
I was with a group, and we stayed in Beaune, France,  and for the cycling aspect we used Burgundy Evasion Bike Tours, which I highly recommend.  Florian, who runs the tiny company, is an excellent guide.  He speaks both French and English.
Here are some photos from the bike rides:

As for Beaune, to me it feels like the quintessential French village – cobblestone streets, lots of wineries for tasting, a wonderful Saturday market (you might recall my love of markets!), little winding streets, and lots of “terrasses” (patios) on which you might enjoy a glass of local burgundy wine.

Off to a wine-tasting!Guess which bottle is the normal wine bottle size???  Yup, the one on the left.  The one on the right would require a serious celebration!

The streets of Beaune.Market produce.  What can I say, the French know how to display their veggies.

Of course my blog posting wouldn’t be complete without a mention (at least one…) of food – one of my favourite French treats is called a “macaron” (macaroon).  This one café (sorry, the name escapes me) offers a large selection of flavours, and you can have it elegantly with tea, as I did below.  (Perhaps mine was less elegant because I drooled so much in anticipation!)

In Beaune there is a very old hospice (no longer being used as one) which you can tour – I also would recommend this!
If you are looking for a trip to France, I would suggest you give Beaune a try…because how can you not follow the sign below??

Happy Sunday,
northkate

Five reasons you should not miss the Désalpe celebration in Switzerland

What IS the Désalpe, you ask?  Well, one thing Switzerland is famous for is its cows, with their clanging bells.  If you have done a mountain hike in Switzerland, you have probably heard the tinkling of the bells (it really is a pleasant sound!), because the cows graze at high altitudes in the summer.  However, before it gets cold, the cows are brought down to be given a warm place for the winter.  Of course, why not celebrate this annual event?  Hence the “Désalpe” – kind of like “un-Alp”, meaning to bring the cows down from the alps.  Neat, eh?

Now, back to my five reasons.

Reason Number One:  You get to see a cow parade.  (bring earplugs for the clanging bells – not so enchanting up close!)
(Yes, many of the cows have fancy floral headresses!)

Reason Number Two:  You can try traditional Swiss raclette.  (Heated raclette cheese scraped onto boiled potatoes – delish!)
Reason Number Three:  You get to hear an alpen horn quartet.  The mellow sound they make is beautiful – I think it’s quite a difficult instrument to play!
Reason Number Four:  You get to see some traditional Swiss garb.

Reason Number Five:  Most importantly, you get to experience an ancient Swiss tradition.
I wish you all a good week – I’m off to Copenhagen!

northkate