My Travel Reflections on 2013

Fireworks at midnight,  New Year's Eve, Sydney, Australia

JANUARY:  I kicked off the year by fulfilling one of my long awaited “Bucket List” dreams – to see the New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbour, Australia!   If you want to see what I saw, click HERE!

View from Paku Hill, Tairua, New Zealand

FEBRUARY:  By now, I had moved on to New Zealand.  This is the view from Mt. Paku, a twin-coned volcanic peak dominating the head of Tairua Harbour on the east coast of the Coromandel peninsula, New Zealand.   See what I saw by clicking HERE.

In my shoes - by the Yarra River, Melbourne

MARCH:  If you had been in my shoes, you would have been in Melbourne, Australia, sitting by the Yarra River.  I was there for the opening race of the Formula One motor-racing season – well I am a petrol-head!  Join me for a look around beautiful Melbourne, HERE.

Cómpeta and Mount Maroma, Spain

APRIL: Time to head home to the white, mountain village of Cómpeta, east of Málaga.  Behind the village you can see the highest mountain in this part of the world, Mount Maroma.  Let me show you around the village, HERE.

Seville Cathedral, Spain

MAY:  My birthday treat was a few days away in Sevillethe fourth largest city in Spain and capital of Andalucía.  Seville is well known for religious festivals, flamenco, world-class tapas and sherry drinking, but did you know that the tomb of Christopher Columbus is inside Seville Cathedral?  See the city for yourself, HERE.

Calle Alta, Frigiliana, Spain

JUNE: Whenever we have visitors come to stay, I always take them to the pretty, white village of Frigiliana.  If you watch THIS VIDEO of the village, you can practice your Spanish, too!

Renaissance town of Baeza, Jaen, Spain

JULY:  Situated in Jaen province, Andalucía and crammed full of Renaissance architecture, the towns of Baeza and Úbeda celebrated the 10th anniversary of being granted UNESCO World Heritage status.  The towns offered a special accommodation deal over a ten day period of only 10 euros per person each night.  How could I resist?!  To see what you missed, look HERE.

Malaga Feria, Spain

AUGUST:  This is the month of the Málaga Fair – and OH BOY – the city sure knows how to party!  In the above photo you can see the elegant pedestrianised shopping street of Calle Marqués de Larios transformed into a huge party venue, full of people dressed up, dancing and having fun!  Watch the video and join in the fun HERE.

Looking east from the Balcon de Europa, Nerja

SEPTEMBER:  A trip to the nearby town of Nerja happens every month, and it’s always a pleasure to stroll along the scenic promenade adorned with palm trees and exotic plants to the Balcón de Europa.  Indeed, in a few days I will be seeing in the New Year 2014 in this very place.  If you want to see more of Nerja, click HERE.

One of Lisbon's iconic trams

OCTOBER:  Porto, the vineyards of the Douro Valley and Lisbon, Portugal were my destinations in October.  Even though the weather was showery for most of the time, there were plenty of places to get out of the way and enjoy the cakes!  Here you can see one of the iconic Lisbon trams.   There’s an introduction to Portugal, HERE.

Nuremberg Christmas market, Germany

NOVEMBER:  At the end of the month, I began a 16 day trip to the German Christmas markets (another Bucket List dream) as well as to Prague in the Czech Republic and Budapest, Hungary.  First stop was Nuremberg for the Christkindlesmarkt, the oldest of the German Christmas markets.  If you’d like a stroll around the market with me, click HERE.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

DECEMBER:  My final destination of the year allowed me to cross off my third Bucket List item this year – Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.  As the train from Munich got nearer to Fussen, snow began to appear – making for a picture-perfect scene.  I couldn’t have wished for a more wonderful day!  I hope you will join me HERE to learn more about the structure on which Walt Disney modelled his fairy-tale castle.

Where have you been this year?  Where are you hoping to go in 2014? Do you have a “Bucket List”?

CBBH Photo Challenge: CURVES IN NATURE

The theme for this month’s CBBH Photo Challenge is CURVES IN NATURE.  Curved shapes in nature are all around us – animals and birds, trees and flowers, mountains, seas and skies.

Show me what you see.  Be creative.  Just be sure it’s a natural curve rather than man-made.  OOHHH …. and, have fun with it!

Don’t forget that the CBBH Photo Challenge is a little different from some other challenges, in two ways.  First, it’s only once a month – giving you lots of time to consider your entry before the end of the calendar month.  Second, and most important, this is a BLOG HOP (after all, it is the CBBH – Conejo Blanco Blog Hop, meaning white rabbit in Spanish), so DON’T FORGET that in your post you need to add links to two blogs that you have visited and commented on during the past month.  That way, when we visit each other, we can HOP OVER to your links, connect with others and share a little blog love around!

My CURVES IN NATURE come to you from New Zealand, where I was fortunate to spend seven glorious weeks during January and February 2013.  Without doubt, New Zealand is one of my favourite countries in the world.

Te Reinga, New Zealand

Right at the top of the North Island is Cape Reinga (or Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori), one of the most significant sites in New Zealand.  For Maori people, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home.  The rocky point jutting out to sea is Te Reinga and, according to Maori legend, the place where the spirits of the newly departed enter the underworld.  Clinging to the rock, there is an ancient kahika tree, named Te Aroha.  The spirits descend to the water on steps formed by the tree’s roots and then continue their journey to Hawaiki, the spiritual homeland.  What a lovely idea – I like that, very much.

Te Rerenga Wairua also marks the point where the Tasman Sea collides with the Pacific Ocean, and often this division can be clearly seen in the colour and turbulence of the water.

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The Northland region is renowned for its beautiful beaches, secluded bays and accessible islands.   We found Langs Beach to be the ultimate destination for simple relaxation.   Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Dolphins in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

These dolphins were just two of many surrounding our boat during a tour of the Bay of Islands.  They loved showing off, playing and jumping in the wake of the boat.  I have very happy memories of this day. 

Alfonsino fish, New Zealand

What do you make of this big-eyed Alfonsino fish displayed on crushed ice in the Fish Market in the up-and-coming trendy Wynyard Quarter on the Auckland waterfront?

Shell beach, New Zealand

Mount Maunganui is a dormant volcanic cone and focal point of the coastal Bay of Plenty.  As we followed the walking track around the base of the cone we came across a small bay and instead of sand, the surface was made entirely of multi-coloured shells.

Gorgeous tree and bark

The Sunday morning Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ market at Hastings was a real treat and this was where I bought some delicious cheeses and tasty bread for our picnic later in the day.  It was a glorious day and at one point I took shelter from the heat of the sun beneath this wonderful old tree.  It had such a great shape with a mottled trunk and branches.  I wonder how many years it has stood there?

I love travel!

Yes, I love to travel – and am lucky enough to have visited more than one quarter of all the countries in the world.  In fact, as this post is published I will be in Nuremberg, Germany for the wonderful Christmas markets 🙂

How many countries have you visited?  If I asked you to name one favourite – which would it be?

CBBH Blog Hop

My Featured Blog Links for this month:

*** Molly at Piccavey.com is a British expat blogger, living and writing about her adopted home city of Granada in Andalucía, Spain.  Many people are familiar with the Alhambra Palace or the free tapas on offer in Granada, but Molly offers practical information that you may not read in tourist guide books – from the perspective of someone who actually lives there.  If you are considering a visit to Granada, follow Molly’s advice if you want to buy tickets to see the Alhambra,  discover the difference between pintxos, tapas and raciones or find out the main festivites and most popular dates in Granada’s annual calendar.  

*** The Scribbler in Seville is a journalist, translator, teacher, wife and mother living in southern Spain.  Fiona writes with a passion about her home city of Seville as well as about Andalucia as a whole.  She recently told us about the olive oil producing region of Jaen, the fabulous ceramic tiles to be found around Seville and a gourmet hiking adventure aboard Mr Henderson’s Railway in the heart of Andalucía (parts of which were featured on a UK TV programme by Michael Portillo called Great Continental Railway journeys).

So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for December, guys!

Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month, tag your entry ‘CBBH Photo Challenge’,  link back to this blog and, most importantlydon´t forget to add links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look.  Make sure you FOLLOW THIS BLOG so you don´t miss next month´s exciting challenge!

For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.

I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite!  I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.

[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]

CBBH Photo Challenge: MULTI-COLOURED

According to this website: “Colour is a meaningful constant for sighted people and it’s a powerful psychological tool.  By using colour psychology, you can send a positive or negative message, encourage sales, calm a crowd, or make an athlete pump iron harder.”

Talking of sales, Henry Ford famously declared that the Model-T buyer could choose “any colour, so long as it’s black.”   Thank goodness that these days, consumers are more discerning!

Green  Black  Red  Orange  Yellow  Pink  Blue  Brown  Purple

This month I’m going to take you on a multi-coloured journey around the world.

Ready?

Rainbow on the road to Doubtful Sound, New ZealandWe start off in Fiordland, on the South Island of New Zealand where we had an early start for our journey to Doubtful Sound.  A storm had been lashing the area overnight and, as I am a strictly fair-weather sailor, I was feeling rather nervous at this point.  However, my fears were soon calmed, because almost as soon as we were picked up from our hotel, the skies began to clear, the sun came out and we were rewarded with this most spectacular rainbow!

Multi coloured wishesYou can buy these multi-coloured ribbons in the main Prayer Hall at the Buddhist Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia.   All you have to do is write your prayers onto the ribbon and hang it on the prayer tree.

Cao Dai temple near Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamSixty miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is the Great Temple,  the centre of the intriguing Cao Dai sect. Cao Dai is a Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism. The three principal colours of Cao Dai are yellow (for Buddhism), blue (for Taoism), and red (for Christianity), and these were evident during the noon ceremony, which I was fortunate enough to witness –  along with hundreds of tourists and worshippers alike.

Red Bridge, HanoiWe stayed in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam, close to Lake Hoan Kiem, where we visited the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) by walking over the wooden red-painted Huc Bridge with its colourful banners.

Flinders Street Station, MelbourneOn White Night (Saturday 23rd February 2013) the entrance to Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne, Australia was transformed into a concert stage, with the whole facade of the building bathed in glorious multi-coloured light.  It was magical!

Umbrella of many coloursFinally, back home to the Axarquía region of Spain, east of Málaga, and during our evening stroll along the promenade at Torre del Mar I spotted this delightful coloured sunshade.

This month´s CBBH Featured Blogs:

**  I always enjoy visiting Madhu at The Urge to Wander because like me, she has a passion for travel.  She posts the most exquisite photographs and tells us of places most of us can only dream about.  Her recent posts, The Frozen Smile of the Bayon and The Captivating Children of Cambodia were particular favourites of mine because only twelve months ago, I had the opportunity to see those enigmatic, smiling faces for myself – both the stone ones at Bayon and the enchanting children, nearby.  I’m sure you would enjoy reading all about her adventures.

 

** Cathy is A Nomad in the Land of Nizwa and describes herself as a pilgrim, a vagabond, and a wanderer who has discovered the art of living and working abroad, and is now hopelessly addicted.  As well as teaching English at the University of Nizwa in Oman, she is a prolific blogger – outlining previous travels in China, Korea, Turkey and Egypt as well as many other places.  I particularly enjoyed reading Cathy’s recent post about the tree-climbing goats she encountered on a walk she took with a friend. I’d love you to pop over and say hello.


CBBH Blog Hop

So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for APRIL, folks!

Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month, tag your entry ‘CBBH Photo Challenge’,  link back to this blog and, most importantlydon´t forget to add links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look.  Make sure you FOLLOW THIS BLOG so you don´t miss next month´s exciting challenge!

For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.

I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite!  I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.

[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]

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