Hello Friends,

Since I did not post nor took many pictures for a while, I thought of asking dear “Jb&Fl” whether they would mind sharing with me some of their  travel pictures. They agreed happily. Both are traveling in South-East Asia. The correspondances  and contrasts between here and there  are just amazing and so interesting. Beautiful too. Then I dug into my archives and found some images that would in some way correspond to theirs but in my part of the world (Switzerland). Here is the result, I hope you will enjoy the trip as much as I did looking at these images from far away.photo-01-01-17-17-09-36As a bright parasol  opened under the warm sun of Myanmar (Burma),dsc02058snow had been falling all day long in the Swiss Alps.

photo-19-01-17-12-50-21Red: such a warm color under any sky ! Here is a typical wooden house at the edge of the  Inle  Lake (Myanmar).dsc03407On my way home on a rather dull day, I was attracted by this red barn which added some warmth to the Winter landscape.

photo-16-01-17-11-07-17Bowls and pots,  almost similar shapes but different uses according to the places and the Seasons. Teatime in South-East Asia and flower pots in standby in Switzerland.dsc03415

Dogs… don’t they all sometimes have the same worried look wherever they live ?photo-29-01-17-13-23-55A puppy in a street somewhere in Asia. “Will you adopt me ?”dsc03380Ninio at home : “Where is JB ? The only one in the family who runs almost… as fast as I do. I miss him and our games”.

Slow ways of transportphoto-24-01-17-12-50-03A “taxi” in Laos and a funicular in Switzerland. Two ways of traveling slowly but surely.dsc00657

Cool food for hot days. A tasty looking salad  in Thailandphoto-26-01-17-12-25-08and another one here at home.spring-salad

Would you care for some sweets ? How about a mango and rice dessert to end your meal ?photo-26-01-17-15-25-54 or  would you prefer a choco-pistachio  dome in Switzerland ?dsc01488

Are you ready for more visits after a pause ?  Like cruising slowly along  rice fieldsphoto-09-01-17-16-24-11whereas our own fields over here are barely out of dormancy.dsc03317

Let’s  walk uphill to the mountains of  North  Myanmar photo-16-01-17-12-30-20or walk on a mountain path facing some of the Swiss Alps ?dsc02074

It has been a long day of walking and visiting , photo-27-01-17-16-16-18 admiring the golden domes of  the many magnificent ancient temples in South-East Asia. Let’s walk into the old Gothic church (St-Michel) of Fribourg and have a rest while listening to classical music.dsc02025

The sun is setting down now, warm colors over the horizon, several dark silhouettes of  temples   in the Far-Eastphoto-14-01-17-18-08-46and, on a misty day,  an unusual pink shade  at sunset over a farm in my village.dsc03356Thanks a lot “Jb&Fl” for sharing your beautiful pictures with me and the visitors of my blog. It was a real pleasure to bring our worlds together and to see through your eyes. How difficult to choose pictures amongst all of them ! Maybe there will be another post about your future travels and visits in Asia ? Take care and all the best. Love.

Advent

December 8, 2016

What a change of weather and temperatures in those first two weeks of Advent !

Snow fell – a little –  and left.

dsc03202It was followed by rather dull and foggy days . dsc01949Then we got rain, lots of it, although the mood of the Season is here : red colors.  dsc01984Crisp, cold days, trees decorated in  red  or were they goblins’ tall hats ?  dsc01942A lot of  red also in the window shops, fa sho’ !dsc01954Red but frozen, a  forgotten heart in a pot on the  terrace. Forgotten but not broken !dsc03268Outside the air is cold, a few leaves are still blooming in the late afternoon sun.dsc03090But inside, a  hot and spiced Christmas pot of tea awaits you for a quiet moment in the warm shades of candlelight. dsc00898And… a cake too, if you feel like it. A lemon scented cake.dsc03246Happy Advent’s time to you all, Friends, wherever you are.

White and blue and more

August 18, 2016

White and blue make me think of holidays at the seaside, Summer clothes, sailing , a bright sun,   sea and sky  of a deep blue, and….a special country  I visited last June : Greece and some of its islands.

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Santorini and its small houses huddled together on the hills and rocks overlooking the Aegean Sea. Here and there another color of a wild plant illuminates the whiteness of a house.

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A bright touch of red on a door, a blue dome in the far, an old broken wall and its multicolored layers of bricks and stones.

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More colors catch your eyes in Greece’s Summer time : a green window frame protecting a lovely embroidered curtain.

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Washing day in the sun, barely any breeze, plenty of colorful vegetation in the yard, no one around : time for a siesta indeed !DSC02236.JPG

What about the various shades of the sea, the sky, the rocks and Southern plants on this hanging garden ?DSC02228

Not to forget : the colors of History that one finds everywhere in the country; here an ancient amphitheater (Delphi) of the same shades as the mountain above.

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And when time for a rest comes, either from the brilliant sun or from too much walking and visiting, let’s close the blue shutters and enjoy the cool shade inside.

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Wishing you a colorful Summer wherever you are. Mine is turning slowly but surely towards Autumn. A transition I do not mind  and that reminds me to enjoy every minute of this brilliant Summertime.

Warmth in Winter

March 6, 2016

When the weather is not exactly bright, when rain and snow compete with a tempestuous wind to remind you that Winter is not  gone yet, what do you do ? I am not sure about you but today I feel like sharing pictures of a place in a warmer climate. Will you follow me to Italy ? DSC01277Arrival in Verona in the early evening. No Juliet on the balcony nor Romeo waiting on the alley below. A  light is on though, someone must be in. The mystery will remain…

hanging gardensA brilliant  morning !  a  joy to discover Verona and its hanging gardens along the Adige river.DSC01297Let’s cross one of the many bridges in Verona. This  one, constructed with red bricks, has been partially restored and will lead us to the ancient part of the city. A picturesque link between epochs and styles.

DSC01280What a treat to sit in an old church (San Domenico), listening to the melodious  voices of  those young  and talented American singers ! They belonged to a choir and were on a musical tour in Italy. Sacred, classical and folk music from all around the world.  How lucky we were to walk into this church !DSC01314After a long guided visit through the old town of Verona, walking on uneven paved alleys on a hot morning, a pause was definitely needed. Remember the   cool pasticceria (cake shop) with so many pastries and cakes to choose from ? My choice went to a small  “Romeo” cake (chocolate/moka)  and  a strawberry tartlet with vanilla cream. With three drops of this strong Italian coffee. And a big glass of water. This was an exquisite moment.DSC01318

This was the “Flego” pasticerria. Remember ? A stylish blending of modern and old decor.

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Weren’t we happy to be back on Garda Lake in the evening ?  just in time to see the last rays of sun and its reflections on the water. Peacefulness and beauty. This was a busy and very enjoyable day.

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A few more sights of the lakeside as the sun went down.

DSC01367There was this terrace almost floating on the lake where people sat and enjoyed quiet moments or animated talks. A place for everyone and “gelati” (ice cream) for all.

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Back to the here and now… Looking outside, I see the weather has not changed, stronger rain, snow and wind. As promised to my little buddy, we will go out no matter what. You see, Ninio has been waiting, sleeping with one eye only, not even thinking of renouncing to a “promenade” in search of scents over and under the snow. So here we go, buddy ! It was nice to be back to a warmer climate for a while though. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.cartes, quilt tree 032.jpg

More information about the ancient city of Verona here :

https://wikipedia.org/wiki/verona

La Vie en Turquoise

January 31, 2014

Back with you , my friends, after a demanding month of January. I had very little time to write and download more pictures from my stay in Istanbul. When I did so, I realized there was a lot of turquoise color in them. You surely have heard this lovely song “La Vie en Rose” (seeing life through rose-colored glasses),  so why not seeing “La Vie en Turquoise”  in some streets of Istanbul, Turkey ?

Turquoise, the blue cousin to lapis lazuli, has been known and valued for thousands of years. The early mines in Sinai, Egypt, were already worked out in 2000 B.C. Today the best quality Turquoise is found in Iran. Turquoise was first sent to Europe through Turkey, hence its name, which means “Turkish” in French (turc  or turque).

Turquoise has long been appreciated as a holy stone, a good-luck-charm or a talisman. It is believed to promote good fortune, happiness, and long life.

DSCN1021Had this dark roller-blind been up, I am sure the shop behind it would have looked like an Ali Baba’s Cave full of semi-precious stones and all kinds of jewels.

DSCN1076A quiet back street, away from the touristic main sites. This luminous quilt, a flash of turquoise, was hanging in front of an old shop.

mosaics You often get surprised whether you look up or down. Here, an artistic minded mason had decided to embellish the pavement in inserting typical Turkish  tiles… or what was left of them. Isn’t it charming ?

turquoiseI stood a long time there. In front of the shop various jewels decorated the wall. Turquoise necklaces of all sizes, shapes and lengths. On the right hand side,  several “nazar” were displayed (Turkish: bazar boncuğu) . A nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye,  they are seen and sold all over the city.

reflectionsColourful reflections. Shawls, fabrics, bags, cushions, carpets highlighted the wooden walls of an old Ottoman house. The sign in Spanish says “Good quality, pretty and cheap” !

Musée de l'IslamTurquoise and golden shades  are engraved in the Ma’mun globe (a Caliph who reigned from 198-218 H./813-833 CE.) in front of the entrance of the Istanbul Museum for History of Science in Islam. A great achievement. The map on this globe displays, with surprising accuracy, the geography of the part of the world which was known at that time.

Maybe your weekend is in the grey shades ? or all white with so much snow ? or golden with a hot sun ? blue, if you live near the sea ? No matter the color you are living in, here is Edith Piaf singing for you “La Vie en Rose”.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Happy weekend to you 🙂

A bus in the snow

December 3, 2013

It seems like a short while  since I wrote about Fall. Now Winter has arrived bringing snow, freezing temperatures and pleasures many look forward to. I have not been very present on my blog lately and I regret it. Troubled times and sad events kept me away. Sometimes you cannot help but just going along with the flow of life and all it gives you, good or less so. I missed reading your own blogs and sharing more of my thoughts and images. Recently though I had the opportunity of taking a few pictures and I thought I would share these moments with you.

It was the first day snow fell. I sat on one of those bright yellow postal buses driving up to a chalet in the mountains. It is a drive I always enjoy for the  breathtaking landscape and the comforting  feeling of not having to drive myself on the slippery  roads of this Season.DSCN0976

Few people were in the bus: not even ten of us including the driver. There were mostly young people  studying down in the valley and going up back home in the late afternoon.postal bus

Suddenly, exactly at this spot on the road, one of the four snow chains that equipped the large wheels of the bus broke. The driver stopped the engine and went out to see the damage. He did not look really happy as he started to replace the chain; his vehicle had just been thoroughly checked before Winter and he was surprised this should happen. We, the passengers, sat patiently, waiting, reading, listening to music or looking at the landscape. That was me.

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I liked the blending of shades, golden trees surrounded by white fields. Snow had started falling again. A snowplough overtook us in the curve, the truck driver stopped and offered his help. “Thanks, it’s all right” our driver replied, “I’ll manage” ! And the truck  went off, a long evening of work ahead of him.

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The  snow fell on and on, softly but steadily. By then we were on our way again, very cautiously. Calmness was all around, a beautiful landscape and hardly any car on the road. I felt safe and warm in the bus and did not mind the delay.chalet, neige

I was looking at a few chalets on the way and imagined how cosy it must feel inside, around  a fireplace maybe, as snow was covering paths and mountain pastures.

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The road was barely visible. Few vehicles had driven there since snow fell in the morning. It was slippery and the driver was extremely careful and slow in handling the bends and downhill slopes.

snowy roadYet it felt good being driven in such a beautiful and quiet environment. I trusted the driver and enjoyed the nature all around us. No more music  nor chatter in the bus, the only noise was the  sound of the big chained wheels on the crisp snow.  A dreamy and silent drive, one that brings peace to your mind and makes you feel good in your heart.forêt, neige

I would have loved to take a picture of the yellow bus in the snow but by the time we reached the village we were heading to, it was real dark. Our HD – Hero Driver – was not in the mood for a picture, too tired from so much concentration on the driving. Nice as he is, he promised I could take a picture  next time I am on his bus.

Please, excuse the poor quality or the images (too many reflections from the bus windows).

Autumn and harvest

October 22, 2012

Grape harvest is over in most areas of my canton (Valais). Some grapes will have to wait for a mid November harvest though. The wine produced then will have more flavour, sweetness and this particular flavour “terroir”, from the local soil.John O’Donohue, Irish writer and philosopher, writes about “Autumn and the Inner Harvest” (Anam Cara). He tells of the four Seasons of the heart, Autumn being associated with old age.

“In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one”.

As in the Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue sees Autumn as the harvest of one’s soul that gives a deeper sense of strenght, belonging and poise. A quiet delight when this time arrives in your life.

I  like O’Donohue’s deep thoughts and, as I walked through those wineyards last Sunday afternoon, I remembered my mother’s words and memories of her younger years when she was helping her father taking care of their few vineyards over the same hills. It was a hard work for anyone involved. No machines were used. The work started in February/March and ended in October/November. A lot was to be learned over months and years. A harvest of knowledge and traditions were transmitted to sons and daughters, families’ links were valued and strenghtened. Most mountain villagers grew vineyards  on the foothills. Their earnings were  meagre and  when the grapes were brought to the communal wine cellars, the gain was much appreciated.  It used to be a joyful and singing crowd which walked down to the valley early in the morning (5-6am) during the season of grape harvest. Sometimes, on lucky days, a postal bus would drive the villagers and winegrowers down to the vineyards.  After a long day’s work under a hot sun the return home up to the little villages was much  quieter. Bodies hurt and voices kept silent.  Of course there was a big celebration at the end of the harvest. It coincided with this other tradition that is still present nowadays : roasted chestnuts (brisolée).  A feast when served with various kinds of cheese, cold meats, rye bread/butter, grapes and apple pie; we also drink must (grape juice not fermented yet). A simple and delicious meal-of-the-season.

All those thoughts and more went through my mind during my afternoon walk. I wished my mother would have been there with me, holding my arm, smiling, commenting, remembering and gleaning the few grapes that were forgotten or left for visitors or birds or beagles 😉 Yes, Nino was with me and I had some trouble keeping him close to me, especially when we walked near this beautiful  vineyard (below) that had not been harvested yet.

In a  photo album, I found this old picture of grape harvest in our area, Valais. My mother could have been there making a pause and chatting with friends. Those days are long gone….

Autumn

November 19, 2010

What is my Autumn like ? The first sign of my favourite Season  is the light haze over the horizon. It is not a fog, just a slight mist, a hazy look that tells you for sure that Fall is there.Autumn brings  a most colourful change in nature. In the mountains the larch trees needles turn into a bright yellow-orange shade before falling down into a soft carpet.

Soft and natural carpets everywhere. The kind of carpet I enjoy walking on because of its rustling sound and ever changing colours.Autumn is a Season of celebrations in my canton (state). A family tradition is the meal where everyone, young and less so, meet around a convivial table to eat roasted chestnuts. We usually eat those with various sorts of mountain cheese, “viande des Grisons” (air-dried meat, beef, produced in the canton of Grisons), rye bread and butter, grapes, apples, all local food. On this occasion we drink must (grape). Every year we so look  forward to meeting and eating this rather simple and tasty meal in good company.Autumn is also a time for grape harvest in this particularly warm area.  Vineyards have been planted for centuries on the side of the mountains and down in the valley. Never do the vineyards look as beautiful as now ! A patchwork of hard work almost all year round. What a reward and a pleasure when the vintage is a good one !This is an ancient cellar no longer in use  but I remember that “my grand-father-from-the-mountains” (as I used to call him)  had a similar one under his house in a small village. He would take my hand, bring me to his cellar and show me proudly his  yearly harvest. What a work it meant !And what a delight to savor the grapes from one’s own vineyard !Grapes and apples, the two kinds of fruits that Autumn gives in abundance over here.Gratefulness for these many gifts of nature in this wonderful Season.

Many thanks also to Scott Thomas for having brought up this new photography challenge.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/assignment-10-autumn-2010/

There is still time to participate ! Your photos have to be posted before Wednesday, November 24.

Slowing down

August 16, 2010

This post is my contribution to  the new photography  challenge assigned by Scott Thomas, http://stphoto.wordpress.com; its theme is related  to Travel Photography. On the following link you will find  the necessary information if you want to join us. Everyone is welcome ! Photos are to be posted until September 8, 2010.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/assignment-8-travel-photography/

For me, Hauterive is not  a faraway place to travel to, 15kms at the most from my home near Fribourg, Switzerland (South of Berne). More than a travel in the usual sense of the word, I would call it an “inner journey”. As soon as you leave the main road leading to the Abbey of Hauterive, you enter a small domain where peace, silence and nature help you slowing down. You don´t even realize it but the way you walk down the path leading to the Abbey is definitely more slow.

I did not meet many people as I strolled under the forest archway. It was a weekday; on Sundays the monastery welcomes many visitors coming to the 10am mass celebrated by the Cistercian monks  in the Abbey founded in 1138.The community of Hauterive is a haven of peace. Whenever I  need some quietness or just a little time for myself , I love to go and sit in the garden in front of the Abbey. Parts of this garden are closed to the public and reserved to the monks. Pilgrims on their long way to St- Jacques de Compostelle in Spain may stop there for the night.Between light and shade, some benches welcome people who come there for a pause in their day. Some – for their own particular reasons at a period of their life – can stay for a longer time at the Abbey and live with the monks according to their rhythm and spirit.  I cannot speak for them but personally I always feel a great inner peace as I stay there, outside or inside the church, also when walking along the river.

This is a view of the Abbey (at the back) and the farm (in front). The monks´s monastic life is essential  (“ora et labora” – pray, work and also fraternal life). The monks also cultivate a certain form of relationship with the exterior world.  Over the centuries they have valorised agricultural land  so  that they can sell their various products which bring the necessary revenues for their subsistence.Silence is appreciated in the areas where the monks are praying, meditating.

Hauterive Abbey (which means “high banks”) is located near a river, the Sarine. It flows quietly; people like to come and spend the day at the edge of the water.  I saw fishermen trying to catch  trouts. Cistercian monasteries  were often built near a river in rather secluded areas. Maybe they used rivers as a way of transportation for their goods to be sold in the towns nearby ? It was often done so in the Middle Age when roads were  unsafe.

To reach the Abbey you can either walk down a peaceful forest path or use  those  old wooden stairs. They have been restored of course and if they could talk, they would tell of all the people and the countless  steps up and down over the centuries. The walls are original with an occasional patch of new cement and paint here and there. No  straight lines for them but slight curves,  a sort of imbalance as if they carried the weight of time and events.Let´s  enter the Abbey itself through the  main porch decorated by a fresco.  I visited Hauterive several times over the years; for this photo assignement I came on a sunny morning which soon turned out to be a rainy one. The colours would have normally been much brighter.

I never took any pictures inside the Abbey but the monk I asked about it said it was all right. Those  are the stained glass windows on the South side of the church, their bright colours subdued under the cloudy sky.  The “rosace” (rose window) is very striking.

Rose windows are particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France. Their origins are much earlier and rose windows may be seen in various forms throughout the Medieval period (Wikipedia).

There were very few people inside the Abbey. I sat for while on the chair on the left. On Sundays and special  celebrations the nave and the lateral aisles are all taken up. The monks are reunited behind the choir-screen for the celebration. Their Gregorian chant fills the  Abbey. Moments of spirituality and sharing. I feel like saying a sharing beyond all religions,  a sheer spirituality that the site inspires and transcends.  The monks´chant is bringing life to the ancient walls.Leaving the Abbey by the quiet forest path, I was surprised by a bird flying right in front of me ! I still don´t know how I managed to take a picture. But here it is, a graceful bird dashing to the purple flower bush. A lovely ending of my travel with you.  I hope you enjoyed this quiet journey near Fribourg, Switzerland. Thanks to Scott for another interesting photography challenge.

For more information on the Abbey of Hauterive, here is a link to its  site. An English translation is available too.

http://www.abbaye-hauterive.ch/index.php#bas1

Our National Day on August 1st started like this :

A bright blue sky, some pretty clouds to make it more alive, little Swiss flags fluttering in a light Summer wind. In short, there were great perspectives of a lovely evening with music, dances and some other celebrations that many people in the village had been preparing for quite a while.

Around 9pm, as a band of young musicians from the next village and a folk group from Indonesia had just arrived,  a violent wind almost blew away the big tents where the guests were preparing to play and dance. And the main street in the village looked like this :

People had deserted the tent where the food was prepared. Usually it is a big barbecue and the local famous meal : “raclette”, mountain cheese melted over a open fire (for a smaller crowd) or over a grill and served with potatoes and pickles, like last night. That is my main regret… I so enjoy eating raclette and I was not the only one !

Together with the wind, rain started falling heavily. Only the few courageous ones stayed under the tents hoping for a quieter weather but it did not happen.

People started to rush to the cafés and restaurants. This is where I stayed  for a while and took those few pictures whose quality is far from good but I just wanted to share last night mood with you.

Families of Dutch tourists were waiting patiently and more or less joyfully for clement skies… No usual National Day speeches nor anthem, no official fireworks nor bonfire, no dancing in the streets nor in pubs (too crowded !) but some isolated fireworks who brought cheerful sparkles under the rain 🙂 C´est la vie ! So is life !