Lake Lucerne and Pilatus

Standard

So after our all too brief stop in Innsbruck, we headed off on the hottest day thus far to Lake Lucerne, and an inn with a great view of the lake. We put this spot on our itinerary because behind the inn was Pilatus, one of the Alps. For some reason, the heat in our room got to me and I lay on the bed feeling sick until later that evening. Gene ordered a caprese salad for me, which I ended up eating on the balcony of our room after the sun had departed.

The view of Lake Lucerne was spectacular, and we made plans to swim the next day after our trip to Pilatus.

 

 

 

 

 

Pilatus is a 7000 foot mountain, which we had climbed in 1972. This time – older, wider, and less in shape – we decided to take the new and ferociously expensive aerial tramway up to the top. It’s spectacular and well worth the price though. You start out in a small, four person cable car and then transfer to a larger one halfway up that holds 25 or so people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top there are several buildings, including a hotel, a restaurant, and gift shops.

The view is amazing, and the best part was the bright sunshine and cool breeze. You can see the expanse of the Alps, including the Jungfrau (13,00 feet) and the Eiger (also 13,000), two of the tallest, that lured mountain climbers each year. This day the horizon was very misty, so I am including another view.

 

 

 

Here’s the view on a You Tube video:

We climbed all around the top – there are passageways craved through the rock – had a drink and enjoyed the view.

We were entertained by a traditional Swiss horn blower, quite a treat, and the jackdaws that flew over the various areas where people were eating. The smallest member of the crow family, they are cavity nesters, so the top of the mountain is a natural habitat. They are a protected species and are quite bold. One landed on a tray a waiter had left momentarily and made away with a whole piece of toast. They are also quite tame, and you aren’t supposed to feed them, but when they trailed us on a path to the far side of the summit, I gave in. They’ll eat right out of your hand, but their beaks are pretty sharp.

On the back side of the mountain was the trail we had followed up to the summit. It is a good deal more difficult than the gentle switchback one on the other side.

We started our ascent at the bottom part of the white, squiggly trail, in a meadow where we had wine, bread and cheese for lunch. Then, slightly inebriated, we decided to climb. We met a Swiss couple on the way up, we said we could climb with them. They were first cousins to mountain goats, so we were glad when they left the trail to visit a chapel (not in the picture.)

You can just see the trail in the middle of this picture, above the tree line. From there we climbed up a wall of scree before finding a passageway in the mountain that led us to the other side and the view of the Alps. Since you can’t see the Alps from this back side, when we emerged at the summit, the view took our breaths away.

The Esel and Oberhaupt are two peaks which can be easily reached from the top of Pilatus by climbing some steep stairs. We climbed to the top of Esel – the peak in trhe back of the opening view in the You Tube video, so we have now ascended two of the Alps!

There’s another way down the mountain, on a cogwheel railway, which has been making the run to the top for years. This is how we got down in 1972, on the last car of the day.

 

You can see a bit of the gentle switch back trail on this side of the mountain in this picture.

On the way back to the inn, we scoped out the beach from which you could swim in Lake Lucerne, the only one nearby. There was no parking and it was about four miles down from the inn, so we decided to skip it. Next time!

New Followers

Standard

I have been accumulating new followers, and my thanks to all of them. Here is a shout out to their blogs, along with a few words by way of introducing them:

 

https://chinesedecomposition.wordpress.com by a teacher of Chinese: learn, speak, write, textbook, contract, beginner, advanced, intermediate.

Lexie at https://lexieanimetravel.wordpress.com  She describes herself as just a simple person who loves to discover the world with my own means, and spare a little time to my other outdoor activities and my original job of course. She’s pleased to show you her photos and share her travel experiences.

https://cruiseparadisemarketing.wordpress.com specializes in holiday cruises

MSB at https://msbreviewsblog.wordpress.com – great movie reviews. You should read before going to see.

Jhun Arconada from the Phillipines at https://jhun19blog.wordpress.com. He writes on social issues: the rich and the poor, human trafficking, global warming from an Asian point of view!

Lexie at https://livinglikelexieblog.wordpress.com who is a seventeen year old dreamer. Anyone wanting to know what it is like to be a teenager with a passion, this is the blog.

Hubham Bansal and Arastu Singhal at https://gotprediction.wordpress.com where you will find out everything you ever wanted to know about Game of Thrones. My daughter is obsessed.

Author Maremma Gee from Barrow-in Furness, England father, husband, soccer fan (Chelsea) who lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family.

 Another Chinese language teacher at https://chinesecommercialcorrespondence.wordpress.com

Maybe this is the wave of the future?

Jane Sakshibho at https://sakshibhojane04.wordpress.com/ – she writes short, beautiful and inspirational posts

A new one for me, Mae at https://unicornhunting.blog/ – who is into threesomes. Hot, hot, hot!

Soul on Rice (taken from Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, which I read) at https://soulonrice.com/ – A former prison inmate, finding redemption and freedom through writing.

Gracie Bradford at https://free1592.wordpress.com who reviews books as Grandma Midnight, sassy and outspoken

Juvie at https://paradigmshifter0912.wordpress.com – A 30ish Filipina woman who loves to write and daydream. Her blog is eclectic – travel, cooking, makeup.

Faydel at https://mylittlesimplethought.wordpress.com/ –  Personal thought, diary, articles geared towards championing and alleviating the course of humanity. His latest post, a review of a Korean restaurant made me very hungry!

Jan Olendese (Book ‘Em, Jan-O) at https://bookemjanoblog.wordpress.com writes about ghoulies, ghosties, things that go bump in the night and the paranormal, as well as funny, very irreverent haiku, stories and verse.

Jill Burkinshaw  at https://booksnall.blog (Books N All) who does freelance book promotion work. Might be a person to help you with your marketing.

https://cursedcursive.wordpress.com – The author is a momzilla and writes about family life.

tushnim production at https://birdloversblog.wordpress.com – They do customized layouts for people who love photographs of birds.

Dwijesh Sharma at https://dwijeshsharma.wordpress.com – Interesting quotes, thoughts, and shorts

Alex Torres at https://alextorresreviews.blog He does movie reviews, most recently Spider Man and Dunkirk.

Babl at https://sv3dprinter.com – Everything you need to know about 3D printing technology and what can be printed – including food! Star Trek, here we come.

Anita and Geo at https://haihuistory.com – they love to travel and recently posted about a trip of fifteen days in six countries. We almost have them beat: seven countries in 20 days!

Gaia at https://gaiainaction.blog – Travel, flowers, organic gardening, landscape – all accompanied by gorgeous pictures!

Next Stop on Our Vacation: Innsbruck

Standard

We left Cesky Budejovice early in the morning, but despite what we felt was a head start, it took us until late afternoon to reach Innsbruck and drive up the mountain to the peaceful village of Mutters, where we stay each time we visit the area. The drive, in addition to being lengthened by endless miles of major road construction, was hot.

Gruss Gott is how Austrians greet each other. We said it over  a hundred times one day while we were hiking and met other hikers!

Owing to a miscalculation on my part, we only had an overnight there (I had lengthened our stay in Prague but had not adjusted for it!), and this was the first time we had experienced any intense heat. The rooms in our hotel were not air-conditioned, but hardly needed to be since there was always a cool breeze in the mountains. Or almost always.

We decided to take the tramway up to the top of Patscherkofel, the mountain down which Franz Klammer roared to a gold medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics. We had climbed there before and hoped it would be cool after the hot day. It was, and we met a charming young man running the tramway, with a happy face and a head full of dreadlocks. He told us he had been a roofer before taking the job, and he was earning more doing it.

At the top, we had a beer at the restaurant and wandered around admiring the mountain roses. An elderly woman tramped by us with an armful, headed back to the tram. Gene went over to the start of the downhill run. It is straight down, not something you could hike, and vertigo-inducing.

 We had a beer at this mountain top restaurant.

The views from the mountain were spectacular and we watched a rain storm move in. We were told the tram wouldn’t run in a storm, so we had to head back down early.

 

 

After we returned to Mutters, Gene took some pictures of the village, which has grown enormously since we first visited in 1972.

Here is a picture of a formerly typical house, where the cows are kept on the ground floor. He was amazed to find one still existed in the village. The farmer welcomed Gene into is first floor barn!

Book Review – Ryan Kaine: On the Run @JKerryJDonovan #RBRT #thriller #suspense

Standard

This is the second book by Kerry Donovan I’ve read, the first being a DCI Cryer. That book didn’t disappoint and this one didn’t either, even though it is a far cry from the police procedural and mystery of the first one.

Off the coast of England, Ryan Kaine balances himself in the swells rocking the boat he hired, trying to establish a lock on his target. Information comes in, and he programs the SAM missile and sends it on its way. Moments later there is an orange explosion in the night sky. Then Kaine notices there is another timer on the targeting display, one indicating an explosion about to occur on the boat. The force of the blast throws him and he hits his head and shoulder but manages to get himself off the boat before it sinks. It’s a six-mile swim in the dark to shore. Is that not a great start? From there it is non-stop action.

The target of the SAM turns out to be a passenger plane. Eighty-three people die, and Kaine is responsible, even though he was told by the people who hired him he was only testing the SAM on a drone. As a result, Kaine, a decorated ex-Royal Marine, becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt. While the police want him on terrorism charges, he is in far more danger from the ruthless organization that hired him. They want him dead to cover their tracks and misdirect the media from the one person on board that plane they wanted to eliminate.

Kaine has his eyes on finding the men who set him up and exacting revenge, while proving his innocence. He must rely on two women to do that: a country vet who treats his wounds, the other an IT expert working in that organization who has a secret of her own.

The story is a barn-burning page-turner, with more twists and turns than a maze. Kaine battles overwhelming guilt and life-threatening injuries, and his hunt for the people who turned him into a mass-murderer is complicated by his own, inflexible moral code. Romance, conspiracy, treachery, danger around every corner – this book has it all.

If I had any quibble with this book, it was the larger than life abilities and healing powers of the protagonist. Time and again, I thought he’d reached his end, but he bounced back in amazing form. After a while, I thought Kaine was Superman. But then Jack Reacher is much the same, and I love his character as well.  The author does a good job of drawing the characters in the book – not too much detail, spare prose, and crisp dialogue. It’s a man’s book, for sure, but women who like non-stop action will also enjoy it.

The ending leads directly to the next book, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

About the author

Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker. He is the author of a sci-fi/thriller, The Transition of Johnny Swift, which reached #1 on the Amazon Bestsellers List in December 2014.

 A citizen of the world, he now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely grateful for the development of video calling.

You can find Kerry Donovan on

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KerryJDonovan
His blog at: http://kerryjdonovan.com/blog
And on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/KerryJDonovan

 

A Brief Stop in České Budějovice

Standard

I’ll bet you are struggling to pronounce the name of this Czech town! It’s cheskee boodyovitsay.

Now that you can say it, I’ll tell you about the town.

CB is the largest city in southern Bohemia. It is a commercial capital and home to the University of South Bohemia and also the Czech Academy of Sciences, which is where our friends work.  It’s old – founded in 1256 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia to counterbalance the power of the House of Rosenburg, an old Czech family whose center of power was Cesky Krumlov, considered to be the oldest town in the country. The city has always been a bulwark of the Catholic Church, and although Jewish families were allowed to reside within the city walls from the mid-14th century and a synagogue was built there in 1380, there were pogroms in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

CB was twice targets by the US Air Force during WW II, and the city was heavily damaged. Soviet troops liberated the city and met the American Army in the city square to celebrate the liberation.

Here are two shots of the city square.  You can see the old town has preserved architecture from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods – note the buildings surrounding large central Ottokar II Square. Of particular interest is the old Town Hall with murals and bronze gargoyles, and the 16th century Black Tower, which you can see in the middle of the second picture. It served as the bell tower for the church of St. Nicholas to its right.

One nearby site I will mention, which we didn’t visit on this trip but which we’ve seen, is Hlouboka Castle, one of the most beautiful of all Czech castles. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site and rebuilt several times. It was expanded during the Renaissance and rebuilt in a Baroque style at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It reached its current appearance during the 19th century, when Johann Adolf II von Schwarzenberg ordered the reconstruction of the castle in the romantic style of England’s Windsor Castle. The Schwarzenbergs lived in the castle until the end of 1939, when the last owner emigrated overseas to escape from the Nazis.

By far, the most important thing about CB is that it has been known for its beer since the 13th century. The town was once the imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Emperor, and Budweiser beer (beer from CB) became, along with Pilsner beer from Plzeň, one of the best know lagers in the world. The largest brewery, founded in 1895, is “Pivovar Budějovicky Budvar” (Budweiser Budvar Brewery) which has legal rights to market its beer under the “Budweiser” brand name in much of Europe. The same product is also sold elsewhere under the names “Budvar” and “Czechvar” due to legal disagreement with Anheuser Busch.  Anheuser-Busch has made offers to buy out the Czech brewing company to secure global rights to the name “Budweiser”, but the Czech government has refused, regarding the Czech Budweiser name as a matter of national pride.

The day we visited was extremely hot, so we spent the afternoon sitting in the shade, drinking coffee and …beer!

Book Review: The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon (@hefferonjoe) #RBRT #detective #noire

Standard

The Last Meridian begins with a great sentence: “The coroner’s wagon had a flat tire.” It was a good hook for this noir detective novel, the author’s first. Unfortunately, for me, it went downhill for a quarter of the book. However, I persevered and eventually became drawn into the story. In the end, it was an enjoyable read.

Hefferon has a good eye for the mid-60s in Los Angeles and Chicago. He sets the scenes in these two cities with just enough detail to let the reader feel the atmosphere and he writes with sparse prose but dialogue varying from snappy to rich, like an overstuffed éclair – reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and even Elmore Leonard. I grew up on old detective movies, and this one just moved me twenty years from the 40’s.

The story begins in Chicago with a murder, then jumps back seventeen years to the exodus of Lynn Killian, who wants to leave her Chicago life behind and embarks on a cross country trip to LA. There she reinvents herself as Nina Ferrer and becomes the interior designer to the rich and famous. The wall she erects around her new life is breached by a telegram from the mother of the boy Nina gave up for adoption sixteen years earlier. No one knows about the boy, not even Nina’s cigar-smuggling, philandering  husband, Arturo. Her son is in trouble, and to maintain her façade, Nina hires an out-of-town, wise-cracking,  private detective, CS, to find out the circumstances of her son’s arrest and murder charge. I can’t help it – the detective’s dialogue with Nina reminds me of Bogie and Bacall.  The reader soon discovers Nina is telling the story of her life in the LA Country Lock-up, through interviews with a writer who is looking to find fame but who is ultimately sympathetic.

Nina’s life unravels further when she discovers a casual friend and customer, Audrey Canfield, shot in the head and lying on a divan in her Nina-decorated living room. Who killed Audrey? Her sleazy producer husband Mo? Or was it Arturo? How could Audrey’s death relate to the murder Nina’s son is charged with?

The author does a good job creating all these various threads and then tying them together, clearly influenced by his 25 years in law enforcement in Newark, New Jersey. The characters are gritty, as is the scenery, but are well drawn.

My difficulty getting into the book was the back and forth in time and place at the beginning. The content of these first chapters only falls into place later, and I ended up re-reading them before I went on. Once I figured out where everyone fit in, the plot carried me forward. There were times when the dialogue became somewhat long and unbelievable, but I enjoyed the forays into the minds of the characters.

I strongly recommend this book for readers who like this genre.

About the author

Joe Hefferon

This is Joseph Hefferon’s first full-length novel, after a 25-year law enforcement career in the city of Newark, NJ. Many of the of the incidents in the book are based on real events from his former career. From the people he’s met and dealt with, he’s become fascinated by human motivation and doesn’t believe much happens by accident.  Hefferon has written for several online publications, including over thirty profiles of high-achieving women from around the world for About.com. Curious about Texas noir, he set two of his short stories in the southeast corner of the state.

You can find the author at:

Blog: https://joehefferon.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @hefferonjoe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hefferonjoe

 

Before continuing with my vacation…

Standard

I was very happy to find a review of my first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, written by author Georgia Rose, author of the Grayson Trilogy. I reviewed the third book in the series here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/book-review-thicker-than-water/

Miss Georgia has a new book coming out soon, Parallel Lies, and I will preview it in September.

If any of my readers are interested in where my mystery series began, here is the link to the review:

http://www.georgiarosebooks.com/bookreview-death-red-canvas-chair-noelle-granger-rhebrewster-murder-mystery/

 

 

 

Interrupting the Vacation for New Followers

Standard

I’ve been collecting new followers and here are some of the most interesting bloggers I’ve met!

Hannah Miller, a professional write at https://hannahlmiller.com She writes humorous pieces – Loved her Love and Blackberry Bushes post

J Giambrone https://jgiambrone.wordpress.com/ – interesting posts! One got my atentions: How US Intelligence rewrites the movies.

Grandmaw Ames at https://laughwithmeweb.wordpress.com  Great, humorous posts about life.

m kunjumon at http://www.hibiscusflowerplant.com Everything you ever wanted to know about the hibiscus!

https://observationstationblog.wordpress.com – an internal monologue of external sightings

GG Collins at https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/ – the blog of the writer of dark fantasy mysteries. A real crossover!

Megan McCullum, the Capital Nerd at https://mccullum001.wordpress.com – book reviewer growing into herself

https://introvertedconfliction.wordpress.com – who writes about human emotions

Nageshkvadhera at http://indianforensicexpert.com/2017 – Great resource for forensics!

Dylan Langes at https://millennialmovies.blog/2017 – he reviews movies from a millennial viewpoint and guess what? He and my daughter agree!

Kerry Black, Allusionary Assembly at https://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com/2017/ – powerful writer!

Lorna at https://ginlemonade.wordpress.com/2017/ Married, a mother and wheelchair -bound . She’/s a profile in courage.

Talon series author Gigi Sedlmayer at https://gigisedlmayer.wordpress.com/  We all know and admire her work!

Rebecca at https://rebeccamix.com She’s a fantasy & science fiction writer by night and a non-profit worker by day.

James Dee Clayton at https://diaryofanaesthete.com He’s a world traveler – check out his post on Israel.

Anastasia at https://readandsurvive.com/ A book junkie from Finland who reviews all sorts of books.

Xeno at https://truestrange.com He blogs about everything from how to avoid expensive dental treatment to treatment for itchy feet!

Neha Kundapur at https://creativebentofmind.wordpress.com She is a Junior Perfumer in a fragrance company, creating new fragrances! She writes inspirational posts!

Rimpy at https://rimpysreads.wordpress.com/2017 She is a part-time nursing student and part-time blogger with great tips for blogging and reviews of books, TV etc. Her stats are amazing for just a short time blogging!

A Lovely Night on the Vltava River

Standard

One of our nights in Prague was spent on a river boat cruise, complete with a light dinner. Our friends had bought tickets for their family and another couple, in addition to us. There were eight in all, including our friend Franta, his son and wife, and their teenage son Jiri, who had served as a tour guide for us and also a translator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the fact we lived in Prague for a year, we’d never been on the river, and the views were unique,  We got to sail around Holesovice, the part of the city surrounded by a hook in the river, and where we had lived during that year. There was much we didn’t recognize because of all the building over the years, but I did recognize the long stretches of road where I walked by the river on my way to a tram stop.

One of the surprising parts of our evening aboard was the discovery that a choir was also taking the ride, and they serenaded us with enthusiasm and wonderful harmony from time to time. They climbed to the upper open deck to sing later, much to the delight of people walking over the Charles Bridge.  The choir sang lustily as we passed under the bridge, to enjoy the acoustics.

In addition to the Charles Bridge, we had wonderful views of the castles complex, Mala Strana (New Town) and Kampa Island, a romantic place, surrounded by water and accessible from the Charles Bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kampa

One other thing of note is that one of our walks, we found ourselves in the middle of a marching  demonstration by vegans, protesting meat eating. There was one sign I can’t exactly reproduce, which said “Eat p—-, not meat!”

After only three days, we left Prague with regret and headed to Cesky Budejovice, to visit another old friend.

A brief stop in Mainz, then off to Prague

Standard

After our adventure at the raptor center, Hubs and I drove to Mainz to visit with a colleague from our graduate student days. Our friend retired from the University of Mainz, where she was a Professor of Genetics, several years ago, but even in her 80s, is still healthy and vigorous.  She has a massive garden outside her house, a cat named Ivan (I think that’s right), and still actively works for the benefit of the University.  Lizzie is also a talented artist and has painted the outer walls of her house and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

We had a lovely dinner with her, recalling old friends, and then stayed at a forgettable hotel in downtown Mainz before driving on to Prague the next day.

We stayed at the Hotel Josef, which we would highly recommend. It is air-conditioned, which was welcome in the growing temperatures of a heat wave, and is located about 5 minutes’ walk from Old Town Square.  Our first night in Prague, we ate at a very traditional Czech pub and had vepřo knedlo zelo – roast pork in sauce with flour or potato dumplings and sauerkraut., a very traditional Czech meal with good Pilsen beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we took a long walk through Prague, with some tram rides, to get to the ridge along which is a monastery, national library and of course the Prague castle-government complex.  The Strahov Monastery is a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1143, a medieval monastery with a vast library and a baroque church.

It was a hot day, so naturally we stopped to have a beer and enjoy the spectacular view…

After liquid refreshment, we walked down and along the ridge to the castle- government complex. The line to get into the castle was hours long, and since we had visited it many times during our year in Prague, we contented ourselves with watching the changing of the guard, which we had never seen.

 

I do highly recommend that anyone visiting Prague for the first time visit the castle complex, and spend some time at Svaty Vit, St. Vitus Cathedral, inside the complex.  The first church built on the site was an early Romanesque rotunda founded by Wenceslaus I in 930 (yes, that good King Wenceslaus). Construction of the present-day Gothic Cathedral began in November of 1344. You can see Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements in its construction which continued until the 1920s!

After weaving through the masses of tourists in the square in front of the castle, we walked down the long street to the bottom of the hill, marveling that some of the vinarnas (wine bars) that we had visited forty years before, were still there.

 

 

Along the way, we stopped at Svaty Mikuláše Mikulas (Saint Nicholas), a baroque church in Mala Strana (New Town), one of Gene’s favorite churches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were heading for lunch at U Tomas, an underground restaurant serving black beer that had been part of the Prague scene for centuries. It was closed for renovations, so we just picked a place for a small bite before heading on across the famous Charles Bridge, that crosses the Vltava river. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues, most of them in a baroque style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas because of deterioration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished by taking a tram back to a stop near our hotel, thoroughly exhausted!