Monday, May 27, 2013

town of three rivers - passau, april 2013

april did not only bring me a holiday in england, but also a reunion with my lovely turkish friend özge. we first met on the internet way back in the mid-nineties, saw each other in person for a day in budapest in 2002, then in vienna in 2006, and in istanbul in 2010, when heinz met her for the first time. this time we chose to meet in passau, a beautiful town on the german-austrian border, which neither of us had been to before, roughly halfway between vienna and where özge was staying at her boyfriend patrick's during her german language course.

i'd heard good things about the town, which is situated where three rivers meet: black-looking ilz, the smallest; the green river inn; and the often bluish danube. and it turned out the rumours are true. we arrived on friday evening, when it was pouring down (i seem to bring bad weather with me just about everywhere i go this spring!). still, after our happy hellos, we ventured out to café innsteg - a definite recommendation for anyone who intends to visit passau. delicious food, nice and fun company - the four of us had a great evening.

saturday was rather cool, but at least dry. we took it easy, walking along the inn, strolling through the old town with its narrow streets, beautiful buildings (cathedral, old town hall, churches, colourful houses ...), taking tons of pictures, talking, being silly. we stopped for cake in the café next to the cathedral - özge was in heaven! tough to choose only one thing from all those yummy-looking cakes, pastries, tartes, ... my rhubarb cake was ... well, mmmmhmmmm! :)

we walked up to veste oberhaus, quite an impressive fortress, which dates back to the 13th century. we also climbed one of the towers to be blown away not merely by wind, but also by gorgeous views of the town, the rivers with their three distinctive colours, and the surrounding area. another lovely dinner at an italian restaurant rounded off a wonderful day.

heinz had to leave very early on sunday, he had a hockey match scheduled for lunchtime. shame, too, especially because sunday was actually just that - a picture-book sunny day. we strolled around most of the town, then decided to take a short cruise on one of several boats. sitting on deck in the sunshine, being carried past colourful houses that reminded me both of certain parts of venice and of ceský krumlov ... bliss! a cruise makes you hungry, so we sat outside a nice little restaurant, soaking up more sunshine, watching the people - and there were plenty of them, because there was some kind of running competition on, enjoying our food and more conversation.

after such a lovely weekend, we were actually quite sad when we had to say goodbye around 4 pm. but we were also very happy about this chance to meet up again. yay for old friends!

old friends

wow! it's a banana!


three rivers

nighttime in passau

train on the bridge

almost summer feeling

veste, anno 1299


song of the day: now or never by rachid taha feat. jeanne added.

Monday, April 15, 2013

goodbye isle of wight, hello vienna! - england day 12

my last morning on the isle of wight. i had packed most of my things the previous evening, so i was in no rush. one last walk along the beach - it looked like the beginnings of a pleasant enough day, though it was rather windy. i'd really gotten used to these morning walks - the wind, the cries of birds, the fresh sea air, the wet sand under my feet, the light ... i knew i'd miss this.

final breakfast at barnaby's, packing up the rest of my stuff, a last look out the window (ah! a view i'd definitely not mind waking up to every day!), and steve took me to sandown station. the little island train took me to ryde pier head, where i walked straight onto the ferry to portsmouth. waiting for my train to gatwick at the station, i sat outside, not even in he sun, and i did not freeze! it seemed that spring arrived just as i was leaving. plenty of time at gatwick airport, had a fabulous carrot & coriander soup at "giraffe" and the best ginger beer ever.

the flight was pretty uneventful. i had a window seat, which was nice, as it was mostly clear all the way to vienna. and i actually sat on the right side as we were flying over vienna ... the danube, the bridges, then i easily found the church near our home, and eventually made out our house! neat.

of course heinz came to pick me up at the airport - and i just knew that he'd bring at least part of our boy group (otto the croc, pruno the pig, heinrich the bear). i was right. otto and heinrich were perched on his shoulders. so dotty, my cute little travel companion, was reunited with some of her friends. it was pleasantly warm even at 08:45 pm. much nicer than the morning i left!

so, later than i'd thought, i was back home. despite the somewhat blah weather and missing out on several days due to illness, it was a good idea to go to england. i enjoyed being there. the hotel was nice, the owner extremely friendly, the vicinity to the beach was perfect. i loved the cream teas and it had been time for some fish & chips, too, anyway! anglophile that i am, i was happy to be immersed in the language, though there were days when i didn't talk all that much. i had some me time, and the illness forced me to slow down a bit, which perhaps wasn't so bad after all.

and now i'll go have another cuppa in honour of good old blighty, and a hobnob to go with it.

song of the day: goodbye england (covered in snow) by laura marling.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

dinosaurs and a lot of rain - england day 11

this morning it was windy but looked okay enough ... things could have gone either way. i walked along the beach after breakfast, the morning walk i've become quite accustomed to. this time, however, i didn't just walk for walking's sake, but to get to dinosaur isle, one of the attractions here in sandown.

geologically speaking, the isle of wight is extremely interesting. lots of fossils have been found around here, including dinosaur skeletons. i had a good look around, learning bits and pieces about life back then and being suitably impressed by many of the fossils on display - bones, teeth, skulls, antlers, footprints, sponges, leaves, palm fronds, snails, sea urchins, ... from tiny to massive.

i had planned to go on a guided fossil hunting walk today, to try my luck at discovering something. i guess you either find something by pure coincidence (i once sat down on a beach in new zealand only to find an ammonite right in front of my feet!) or you've got to know what you're looking for (and put in some work!). i found it very interesting to get some information about the whole research process. incredibly tedious work, but also exciting, i suppose.

when i left dinosaur isle, it was already raining. i walked back, uncertain what to do. would the rain stop? could it be nicer elsewhere? i decided to go and find out. while waiting for my connecting bus in newport, i picked up some earrings and a necklace at an oxfam shop. caught a bus to totland - it was pouring down. definitely didn't feel like walking weather, cold and windy. the pub had just closed, so i decided to catch the next bus out again ... in newport it seemed as if the rain would let up, but - no such luck. so instead of hanging around and eventually making my way to brook chine for the fossil walk, it was back to sandown. rain, rain, more rain. saw some nice shoes while walking along high street, so i did some more unplanned shopping. got me some fish & chips and enjoyed my early dinner while watching a wallace & gromit film.

it is still pouring down now at 09:45 pm. no night walk along the beach then. much cosier inside. i'm hoping for a nice morning, so i can take one last walk before breakfast.

song of the day: raindrops keep falling on my head by b j thomas.

Friday, April 12, 2013

monkeys & owls, sunshine & rain - england day 10

i felt much better this morning. took a walk along the beach - it was terribly windy. i so enjoy watching the waves and the birds, and get a kick out of the patterns made by sand, wind, water ... the rivulets, the colours, foot/pawprints, and of course the ever changing light. breakfast time then, full english breakfast (minus the sausager), just as it should be. this is, after all, england. and when in rome, do as the romans do, right? though i must add i won't go so far as to walk along the beach barefoot in this kind of weather!

i made my way to the same area where i visited the butterflies yesterday, but today it was for quite different animals: mainly monkeys and owls, but also some other birds. the owl & monkey haven is an award-winning attraction that is home to rescued primates/monkeys and birds. i heard a few stories about some of the animals - they included accounts of neglected monkeys, one rhesus macaque that simply turned up in someone's garden on the mainland, owls that were ignored by their owl parents and were lucky enough to find human parents at the haven, monkeys that were "mobbed" by their own kind, etc.

i got to see a two year old male eagle-owl named ketch close-up, and to actually touch it. fascinating creatures. i must say the way they swivel their head around always slightly freaks me out - i swear i can almost hear the "snap!" sound of a broken neck! apparently owls are fairly lazy and won't leave their trees for days after they've eaten. there they sit until they start to feel hungry again ...

i had a good look around at the colobus monkeys (odd creatures, with their long whitish tails that fan out when they jump), rhesus macaques (such fun! and the noises they make! smelly though ... ugh), capuchins, marmosets (too cute!), langurs, gibbons, siamangs, eagle-owls, snowy owls, barn owls, tawny owls, the two buzzards, and the kookaburras. i learned something, i laughed, and took lots of pictures ... and (according to "when in rome ...) treated myself to some delicious clotted cream tea.

after a walk along ryde pier, i made my way back to sandown, where i went to the glassblower's round the corner and then had a pleasant chat with steve, the owner, in his overflowing gift shop. it looked like a pleasant evening, so i decided to go for another walk along the beach, grabbed my cameras, and ... as soon as i reached the beach (all of a minute away), guess what ... yep: rain! it's been like this all day today ... get on the bus: sun comes out; get off the bus: cold and windy or rain. but i didn't want to be beaten. i thought it might only be a two-minute shower. i was wrong. wrapping my big camera up like a baby, i marched on. and after only about 15 minutes, the rain stopped. yay! beautiful light, so clear, filtered by the clouds ... gorgeous. well worth it.

indian veg curry & garlic naan well deserved then! i was thinking about going out again to take some night-time pictures, but i think i've had enough rain ... ;) here's the only pic i have so far:

those eyes!

song of the day: l'anno che verrà by lucio dalla.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

butterflies & a seaside town - england day 9

the i felt worse when i woke up this morning than i did yesterday, so i stayed in bed reading and writing postcards for a while. then, despite my too-high-temperature, i decided to go to the isle of wight butterfly world anyway.

i spent some very pleasant - and very hot - hours in the company of butterflies from all over the world: the tailed jay, the blue glassy tiger, the malachite, the common mormon, the tree nymph, various swallowtails, various longwings, the giant orange-tip, the blue morpho, and others.

some of them would sit still for a long time, while others are the fluttery creatures we all know ... the giant blue morpho, which is the size of a small bird and reminds me of something out of some animated film, has bright, iridiscent blue wings. they do sit still - but then they immediately fold up. and on the underside the giant blue morpho is nowhere near as bright. it's brown, with what looks like differently sized eyes. so it's extremely hard to get a picture of it ... i think i managed two slightly blurry ones, that's all. one actually sat ON me for a few heartbeats though!

some were frightfully hard to see - i am sure there were at least twice as many butterflies as i saw. one - not sure which species - seemed to have overdosed on banana: its wing got stuck to the banana slice, and it could not get away anymore. a staff member had to pick it up and put it on a leaf.

there were also rows of chrysalises - bright yellow, bright green, blackish, brownish like leaves ... some of them looked like jewellery! i was hoping to see a butterfly hatch, but no such luck. a green one twitched a couple of times, but i was told they do that occasionally. apparently they even react to being tickled!

of course i took lots of photos, here are the only four i have edited so far:

orange meets pink



black & yellow

i stopped in ryde on the way back, walked around for a while, sat by the beach as it was quite pleasantly warm and sunny, and then went in search of food - which i found in the shape of a pizza at michelangelo's restaurant, just across from the pier. and now, at 10:30, it's time for bed.

song of the day: broken butterflies by lucinda williams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

english weather & italian food - england day 8

the nasty little buggers inside my chest are still quite well, it seems. better than i am, at any rate. i've still had a bit of a temperature all day, and i tire easily. breathing is harder than usual, and the sounds that emerge from my chest area alternately make me chuckle and worry.

i took a short, very slow walk by the beach before breakfast, and after breakfast went to look at the sunny day from my window seat, watching the tide go out and, later in the day, come back in. i love, love, love the sea!

i edited some of the hundreds of photos i have already taken (probably a blessing in disguise, this sickness, huh?), read some poetry, talked to heinz, dozed off a couple of times. thicker clouds moved in by mid-afternoon. it was quite cosy inside, and i was tired, but nevertheless - sick or not - a girl's got to eat.

i'd been craving italian food for days, so i checked the area for italian restaurants on the www. shanklin! practically just down the road. so i dressed nicely and ventured out. it had been dry since morning, but of course, as soon as i set foot on the street, it started to rain. not very nice, so i didn't walk around much in shanklin, but made for the restaurant (mamma mia, run by actual italians). delicious food (veggie lasagna and a huge serving of garlic bread), and for entertainment i watched two of the young employees putting up the last part of a huge wall poster.

when i made my way back to sandown, it was pouring down ... though it has gotten worse since. makes it all the nicer to be in my neat little room.

i'm glad i decided to change my flight back, because i probably would have passed out from fatigue somewhere along the way from here to vienna tomorrow, what with the luggage and flying and all. better this way, although i am missing out on a long overdue meeting with a former business english class and the psychotherapy fair on saturday.

i hope to feel good enough to go out for a few hours tomorrow. nice as it is in my room, i am beginning to get cabin fever!

song of the day: mamma mia by abba.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

naughty bacteria, the iron lady & a poetry acceptance - england day 7

so, a trip to the sandown health centre this morning for my 09:40 appointment. the verdict: chest infection. nasty little buggers in my chest had to spoil my well-deserved, much-needed holiday! for the second time this year i am on antibiotics. the last time i took antibiotics before 2013 was in the early 90s or even in the late 80s! crazy. apart from antibiotics - rest. i asked about flying out on thursday: not recommended. well.

pharmacy, breakfast, www to do something about my flight. eventually found a rather cheap flight back, cheaper than changing my ticket at any rate! so i will be here till sunday. i hope by the end of the week i will be fit enough to venture out for some hours or i'll get a different kind of fever - cabin fever!

i rested, then went for a 15 minute stroll before getting something to eat. the short walk and a trip to the shop left me more tired than my 14 km walk on saturday! but then, i still have a temperature.

broken sun

the good news of the day is that after a couple of rejection notes, i got a "yes" from red fez magazine, accepting my poem inspired by the element magnesium. i am glad it has found a home - and red fezes look stunning on poems. ;)

of course, the big thing everybody is talking about here is the death of the iron lady, margaret thatcher, who passed yesterday. there are reports of street parties, of people rejoicing in her death. i understand where some of them might be coming from (though i believe many of them are too young to actually remember, or were not even born back then), but i still think it is wrong. (i'd actually like to ask them a simple question: let's say your mother is a controversial public figure. or let's just say the neighbours didn't get on with her. let's say she dies after a long struggle with cancer or a demented old woman. how would you feel if the people in your street had impromptu parties, singing songs about the wicked witch being dead?)

the margaret thatcher who died yesterday was not the margaret thatcher of the 1980s, she was an old and very sick woman. and yes, thatcher steered the country into an entirely wrong direction, from my point of view - and obviously from the POV of many, many british people - but she did not do so single-handedly, and those who have come after her ... well ... they haven't exactly helped, have they, to put things right. thatcher might have started it, she might have messed up a lot of things ... scratch that, she DID mess up a lot of things for a lot of people, but what about her successors? will partying in reaction to the news of an old woman's death change anything, anything at all? 'fraid not. what it would take is for people to get organised instead. have they got that in them?

still, i had to chuckle at the typo on some media website: "margaret thatcher died after a strike". if it was a typo, that is ... it might also have been cleverly sneaked into the article ... ;) and - i don't believe in an afterlife, but ... if there happens to be one, perhaps margaret t. can get stuck in a neverending miners' strike. *g*

and okay, i can't resist choosing the following as my ...

song of the day: stand down margaret by billy bragg.