Tuesday, 30 December 2014

An Afternoon in Ascona

I spent the 3 days after Christmas with my friend Natalie in the Ticino. Her mother has an apartment in the village of Ronco which is quite near to Ascona. We travelled down by train on the 26th and once we had settled in we went to Ascona.

I had never visited Ascona before so I was excited to walk around and see the amazing view of the waterfront. Ascona is on Lake Maggiore, this is a very big lake with most of it in Italy. We walked around the old part, looked at the shops which were mostly closed. The waterfront is very pretty with lots of lovely colourful buildings, which are mostly restaurants, cafes and bars.

We were lucky enough to see a wonderful sunset just as we arrived, it was lovely to watch. Then we walked about 15 mins to a bar/restaurant called Beach Lounge for some evening drinks. A good start to my mini!

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Trip to Loch Leven Castle

Our transport to the castle

Kinross House

While in Scotland we did a lovely day trip to Loch Leven with the aim to visit the castle on a very small island. Our transport and actually the only way to get to the island was a boat which can carry 12 passengers. The day we went the water was a bit choppy and getting on and off, we needed to be careful.

Loch Leven is the largest loch of the Scottish lowlands and is a protected nature reserve since 1964. Once we arrived on the island we set about visiting the ruins, this is where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567 - 1568. It is from here that she escaped but only to be caught later on and exiled to England.

There are some lovely views from the top of the tower and one of the views is Kinross House which is not opened to the public. It is a beautiful house by the architect Sir William Bruce.

Also on the loch is RSPB Vane Farm which is part of the nature reserve, we stopped by for a short coffee break and a look around. The loch attracts many different types of birds all through the year.

A visit to Loch Leven Castle is through Historic Scotland it does say that visiting is only in the summer months but we went at the beginning of October. I would guess that now it is closed but come summer again it is well worth a visit!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Photo of the Week - Shining Bright!

November was a lovely month here in Zurich if I have remembered correctly! There were lots of days with the sun shining and blue skies! This was taken in November on a Sunday, Alessio and I were out and about in Zurich.

Now in December it has been grey, dull, rainy and cold! To be expected I suppose!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Photo of the Week - Crail Harbour

During the October holidays Alessio and myself went to Scotland for 9 days and on one of those days we went to visit the lovely town of Crail. Crail is a very picturesque place, full of lovely houses, buildings and of course the harbour.

I will not be visiting Scotland again until next October, it does seem like a long time away. The reason is that in April when I would normally go again, I am going to Japan.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bubikon to Lützel Lake Hike

In September my parents always come to visit for just over 2 weeks, one of the main reasons is that Alessio has his birthday at the beginning of the month.

While they are here I try to plan outings and in the last couple of years we have had long weekends away. This year we had no long weekend away instead we did some day trips, we also like to try and do a hikes.

I drove to Bubikon where the hike begins, it is circular hike which takes you to the Lützel lake and then back to Bubikon. It started off well and we were walking and enjoying the lovely Swiss scenery and saw lots of animals. We liked seeing the cows wearing some massive bells and the sounds it made! Then suddenly my father realized that we had taken a wrong turning a bit back. We were heading in the right direction of the lake but not the way we were supposed to go, anyway we continued and finally made it to the lake. It was rather warm by this time and we were extremely glad to have some refreshments in the badi! The lake is very small and the badi was busy not everyone was there to swim. Some were like us just there to enjoy the scenery and warm day.

Afterwards we carried on our journey back to Bubikon, by this time we were all exhausted and happy to get back to the car. Just before we reached the outskirts of the town we saw many horses, and I mean possibly around 50 or maybe more. They all looked beautiful, we tried to count them but it was impossible.

Bubikon itself looked like a nice small town and as per usual on a Sunday in Switzerland everything was closed even cafes and bars. So we headed back to Kilchberg for a bit of relaxing!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Photo of the Week - Zurich Christmas Tree

Yes it is that time of the year again Christmas! I do have to say that I love Christmas and it is nothing to do with the fact that it is also my birthday! I have been slowly putting up Christmasy things in the flat and in the middle of December I will buy a real tree. Alessio and I will decorate it together, we already bought the baubles! There are many Christmas trees in Zurich and this one is where the Carlton Restaurant is situated, at the back.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Istanbul Buildings

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

The amount of buildings, museums, monuments, castles and palaces to visit in Istanbul is vast and if you are only there for a long weekend, your time is therefore limited the main and most famous of the sights.

We visited the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, from our boat cruise we saw the Dolmabache Palace which would have been amazing to visit.

On our last day we visited another famous landmark the Topkapi Palace which was home to many sultans and their wives. I also visited the Harem which I will post some of the photos from there at a later date. I also went up the Galata tower and was rewarded with fabulous views of the city.

We did a lot of wondering around the streets and just being surprised by what we saw. We also wondered up to Taksim Square which for a long time was in the news with the protests. There were still many riot police hanging about as we walked up the main shopping street. We took a quick look around the square and left, just as well as about a hour later there was more protesting happening.

A brilliant and interesting city to visit and should be on everyone`s bucket list!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Photo of the Week - Plants Galore!

A couple of week ago while I was in Zurich I saw this very nice looking (well I like it) facade of a building. I liked that it has lots of plants, a tree and wall plants too. If I was any good with plants and trying to grow them I would like to be surrounded by them. But since I am completely no a green fingers I suffice with the help of others!

So it is nearly the weekend and the beginning of December, I swear that November just zoomed by so fast. Now all the Christmas markets are up and running I may get to visit some at the weekend although Alessio is not so keen on them.