Monday, 30 June 2014

Photo Scavenger Hunt : June

The end of another month and time for for another scavenger hunt. Thanks as always to Greenthumb of Made with Love for organising the hunt.

B is for...: Bee!

10am : 14 June, writing a shopping list whilst having breakfast.

Spoon : A couple of spoons from my Mum's collection. She told me that the one on the left is called an Apostle spoon. The one on the right belonged to her Auntie Maggie and we think it's at least 40 years old. For those of you who can't read upside down, it says Gwrych Castle.

Puppet : I used to have a penfriend who lived near Nice, France. When I visited, her parents took us over the border into Italy to a restaurant in Sanremo. I assume that the restaurant was called Pinocchio's as the owner gave me a small one like these as a souvenir. I still have it and was going to take a photo for this category but decided to show you this one from a market stall in Verona instead.

You again : Great crested grebe on our local lake. It doesn't live here but just pops by on a regular basis, usually on its own but sometimes with a friend.

Water : Our local lake.

Habitat : My favourite little patch which always teems with wildlife.

Soccer : A few lads, a patch of grass and a ball and you have the ingredients for a game of football.

Calm : Our local lake again. It literally was the calm before the storm as I could hear thunder behind me as I was taking the photo. It was the week of the most spectacular thunderstorms with the most lightning I've ever seen and some places having a month's worth of rain in an hour!

Man made : Sculpture of a man, made by a man in a local town.

Open : Shop sign.

Steam : One of the processes during the making of beer at Robinson's brewery in Stockport. A few of us went on a guided tour at the beginning of the month. Highly recommended. That's the tour not the beer - I hate beer!

If you'd like to join our merry scavenging band, why not head over to look at the categories for July? x

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Fair Verona: Day 3

Well, we've finally made it to Day 3 and our last few hours in Verona. Both of us were feeling pretty weary after day 2 but there were still a few sites to see.

Wednesday is obviously the day for school activities as there were lots of primary age children taking part in an event in piazza Bra, and large parties of older children visiting the various sites.

Some people managed to find some calm concentration amongst the madness.

Our main aim for the day was to climb Lamberti Tower.

So many steps! We took the lazy option though as, luckily, there's a lift which takes you to the first viewing point in the windows above the clock. This photo was taken as we climbed to the highest point which houses the main bell.

Looking down onto Piazza Erbe which was still very quiet, though it's about 10.30am by this point. As the bells strike on the hour and half hour, we were there twice to hear them and thankfully they weren't too loud. (The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the time on the clock in the photo is different - it was taken on day 1 and was just a better photo)

In front of us, this is the view towards Piazza Bra. Can you see the Arena in the middle?

No? OK, let's zoom in then. It seemed so incongruous having the modern telecoms tower and buildings in the distance amongst all these historic buildings.

Turning to our right I practised my very rusty French discussing the domed building on the hill with an older French couple. None of us were any the wiser as to its name at the end. 'Tant pis' as they said,'too bad'. I've since found out it is the Sanctuary of Madonna of Lourdes.

The white tower is part of the Duomo.

Behind us, Piazza Signori with the statue of Dante.

Looking up, the church of St Anastasia.

A little further right, you can see the green space of the Piazza Indipendenza - we'll be there shortly.

Continuing clockwise, the church of San Fermo Maggiore in the distance at middle top.

Sitting in the Piazza Indipendenza later, eating a sandwich bought on the market, it seemed unreal to think we'd been at the top of that tower earlier.

Next stop was the Galleria d'Arte Moderna which is in the building just below the tower. The gallery only opened this year and we enjoyed looking at both the paintings and the architecture of the building. There were lots of benches too which was very welcome for our weary feet.

Last stop was Castelvecchio. It was built in 1354 and now houses the city's museum.

No photos allowed inside but the tour also takes you around the battlements. This is the ponte Scaligero, named after the Scaliger family who built the castle and were lords of Verona for a couple of hundred years.

The sounds of a violin floated on the breeze.

Just time for a coffee and a pastry before we made our way to the airport.

'There is no world without Verona walls'

Shakespeare may have exaggerated a little but we definitely fell under Verona's spell. I wish we'd booked for longer so that we could have explored more at our leisure. It's also a great base for day trips to other places like Venice, Vicenza, Lake Garda and Milan (we've been to the first but not the other three). It's not often that we return to a place - too many places, too little time - but I don't think our Verona story has reached its end. x

Friday, 20 June 2014

Fair Verona: Day 2

Thank you for all your lovely comments about the first day of our trip. We did manage to pack a lot in and had even more plans for Day 2. I woke up feeling refreshed and raring to go. Chickpea woke up grumpy, claiming I had kept her awake most of the night with my snoring: I totally dispute those claims! Luckily she was less grumpy after helping herself to the buffet breakfast ;)

Another bright and sunny morning. Our destination was Castel San Pietro from where there's a panorama of the city and surrounding area. Here we're crossing ponte Nuovo with the church of St Anastasia on the left.

This is the ponte Pietra which I mentioned in the May Scavenger Hunt.

As we got closer to the bridge we could see lots of little orange heads, like Oompa Loompas on a day trip, said Chickpea!

We were both very taken with this pink vespa.

Time to start climbing upwards towards the viewing point.

Pretty doorways and buildings at every step.

Almost there.

Wow, all those steps were definitely worth it!

While we were admiring the view we could hear lots of shrieking. We couldn't work out where the sound was coming from at first and then spotted dinghies of school children descending through the rapids on the river.

Behind us was the Castel though it was closed as it's currently undergoing renovation.

Also undergoing renovation is the Roman Theatre built in the late 1st century BC so we had to content ourselves with this view which we saw on the way down.

Back at the river we crossed over ponte Pietra, heading for the Duomo.

The Duomo, or cathedral, dates from the 1100s.

Like many buildings, the cathedral was built on the site of earlier religious buildings - I think these remains dated from around the 5th century AD.

There are also several smaller chapels in the cathedral complex.

Lunchtime. Pizza in Cafe Ebrius (photo again in May Scavenger Hunt) followed by a gelato. well, you can't come to Italy and not have a gelato!

Refreshed we headed on to the church of St Anastasia which we'd seen from the other side of the river earlier.

Like many of the churches we saw, it's relatively plain on the outside. But don't let that fool you, wait until you get inside...

This was by far my favourite of the churches we visited. The ceilings and frescoes were just stunning.

The most famous of the frescoes is this one, St George and the Princess, by Pisanello which dates from c.1436. It was high up above a side chapel but a video underneath showed you the details.

Before leaving we rubbed the back of the hunchback as touching one is supposed to bring you luck.

Last on our itinerary for the day was a visit to la Casa di Giulietta, Juliet's house. We'd actually been before as we'd passed by several times. The walls in the entrance are covered in lovelorn graffiti.

Inside there's a small courtyard which you can visit at most times of the day: it's only the house itself which has timed entry. We did go inside this time and had fun posing on the balcony with one of us hanging out of the window on the right to get a good shot. There's very little to see in the house otherwise.

Most people come to have their photo taken holding the right breast of Juliet. There is such an orderly queue you'd think we were in England!

Everywhere is covered in chewing gum which had been used to stick letters to the wall, though some people have also written on the gum!

The other love tokens are these coloured padlocks. We saw them attached to fences and railings all over Verona.

And so ended day 2. We had absolutely walked our legs off so we went back to the hotel to rest for a while before venturing out to eat pizza. It was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel to the centre of town but we took the bus! This is piazza Bra at about 10pm.

See you next time for our final day. x