Vienna, the city of palaces!

It is amazing how many beautiful buildings and palaces you can find in Vienna (Wien), Austria. The emperors kept building and building new palaces and beautiful buildings.
You can fly into Vienna Airport (VIE) in Schwechat (in German Flughafen Wien-Schwechat). The airport is around 11 miles from Central Vienna and around 35 miles from Bratislava, Slovakia. In Slovak the airport is called Letisko Viedeň-Schwechat. Vienna International Airport makes a good hub to base your travel into the center of Europe.
Take a train to Wien Mitte which is like 10 minutes walking distance to the stunning St. Stephen’s gothic cathedral (Domkirche St.Stephan or Steffl). Vienna has lovely pedestrian streets. From St. Stephen’s, you can stroll on the Graben to Kohlmarkt to Heldenplatz. Once you get to the Heldenplatz, you can find your way around to see various magnificent buildings in this area. Check out the Hofburg, Neue Burg, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Albertina. There is also the Volksgarten and Burggarten (Castle Garden). You can also visit the Schmetterlinghaus (Palm Haus). There is really one fascinating building after the other.
Take some time off to enjoy some good Viennese food. The emperors knew how to eat. You may wish to try Wiener Schnitzel (cutlet) and Tafelspitz (beef). Try some really good desserts such as Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy pancakes with apple sauce and powdered sugar), Viennese Apfelstrudel , and Sachertorte (chocolate cake) with your coffee at the local cafes.
You will need more time to visit the Summer Palaces of the Habsburg rulers located around the city. They are spectacular. Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens are really huge. You can also visit the magnificent Belvedere Baroque Palace and Gardens. You can see the great display of wealth of the emperors. This city is really a city of palaces!

Advertisements

Cruising the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean has many beautiful places that can be explored by ship. The Mediterranean itself can be a destination. Enjoy sailing on the blue waters enjoying your favorite food while visiting with friends or family.
Each Cruise package has many different options. Cruises may divide the Mediterranean between the Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean (Adriatic Sea). The Western Mediterranean Cruise may visit places like Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France), Monte Carlo, Civitavecchia (for Rome, Italy) and Naples (Italy). Eastern Mediterranean cities may include Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Athens, (Greece), and Santorini (Greece).
There may be trips inland to cities like Florence (Italy) and Rome (Italy). You can either sign up for the cruise tours at port or venture on your own self-guided tour or hire a local guide at lower expense. So you can have both the convenience of the cruise package or your own custom itinerary.
There are so many things to do on a cruise. For an example you can have a great family reunion with members of the family of different ages all dining together on the cruise. The ships are handicap accessible and so both young and old can find things to do together. Each can choose to enjoy the cruise at their own pace. Lay on deck and soak in the sun. Enjoy the pool. Eat to your hearts content. Watch the entertainment on board. Sleep in your own cabin. Get a cabin with an ocean view so you can enjoy the views. It is a basically a floating city. The cool thing is this “hotel” takes you from one city to another!


The Romantic Rhine

You can cruise the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands via the German Heartland to Basel, Switzerland. Rhine starts its journey from Lake Toma, in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden and winds its way to Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Rhine actually passes through Switzerland, Liechtenstein , Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. There is so much history along the Rhine. It used to be the boundary between civilized Europe and untamed lands beyond. There is so much to see along the Rhine.
Rhine Falls or Rheinfall in German is Europe’s largest waterfall. In some ways resembles the Niagara Falls between United States and Canada. Rhine Falls is located near Schaffhausen , in Switzerland just across from the German border.
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is one of the lakes on the Rhine. Bodensee borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland. You can basically visit all 3 countries by boat. Principality of Liechtenstein is around 30 minutes by car from the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine is a good transportation hub to pretty much get anywhere in Europe, especially to your Alpine destinations. A good place to rest and sight see in the lower elevation before going up into higher altitudes of the Alps.
The mid Rhine is probably the most romantic part of the Rhine. German towns from Mainz to Kobenlz, Germany will take you back in time. Take the Rhine ferries to slow down and soak in the beauty.
The Moselle River meets the Rhine River at Kobenlz. Moselle can take you all the way to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxembourg actually means Little Castle). Towns along the Moselle such as Zell and Cochem are simply breathtaking.
Take another detour along the River Neckar (Neckar meets the Rhine at Mannheim) to Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is both romantic and picturesque. It is definitely worth the detour.
Keep following the River Rhine and you will end up in Rotterdam, Netherlands which is Europe’s largest port with plenty of good places to eat and shop. For the romantic side visit Amsterdam.


Lauterbrunnen Valley to Jungfraujoch Switzerland

Switzerland is also known in Latin as Confoederatio Helvetica. That is why their internet domain is .CH. You will need to use the Swiss Franc (CHF) when in Switzerland. If you are flying from the USA, you would probably fly into either Geneva (373.6 m – French speaking area of Switzerland) or Zurich (408 m -German speaking area of Switzerland). Basel Airport ( EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg ) is also an option but it is actually located in France. Basel EuroAirport serves Germany, France and Switzerland. Take your time in these lower elevations to acclimate to the altitude. You should drink plenty of water as you recover from your flight especially if you are flying across the Atlantic from the USA. From any of those cities, you will need to get a train to Interlaken ( the city between lakes Brienz and Thun at 566m). Interlaken is a good base to explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Bernese Oberland. The train system is excellent in Switzerland and runs on time like Swiss clockwork.

There is so much to see in the Bernese Oberland (Bernese Highlands) area. You can use Interlaken as a base camp to travel further south in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interlaken has all the modern conveniences you need. If you are not into too much walking, just ride the train from Interlaken Ost Station to Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch (Virgin Pass) is the highest railway station in Europe or Top of Europe. You will be going up in elevation from 566 meters in Interlaken to 3454 meters in Jungfraujoch.

There is more than one way to get to Jungfraujoch. You can take the train from Interlaken (566m), Zweilütschinen (652m), Lauterbrunnen (795m), Wengen (1274m) (car free), Kleine Scheidegg (2061m) (beautiful place to stop) and then on to Jungfraujoch (3454m). The other option is to take the train from Interlaken, Zweilütschinen, Grindelwald (at 1034m another very beautiful place), Kleine Scheidegg and on to Jungfraujoch. Take one way up and another way down as the journey can be the destination on this route. You will pass through Alpine scenery and then on to see the snowy peaks above timber line. Jungfrau stands at 13,642ft or 4158m. Jungfrau, Eiger (3967m) and Monch (4107m) peaks form a massive range overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a must see area of Switzerland. The contrast between the snowy peaks with the green Lauterbrunnen valley with many waterfalls is a site to see. The picturesque Lauterbrunnen village with the 300m high Staubbach Falls cascading down the mountain is breathtaking.

From Lauterbrunnen, you can take the cogwheel train to Wengen (car free) to get a gorgeous view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Take time and smell the mountain air and soak in the Alpine scenery. Beautiful view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley for your photos for instagram.

Or from Lauterbrunnen, take a cable car to Grütschalp and then by mountain rail to Murren. Then hike downhill to Gimmelwald Village to go back in time. Enjoy the alpine scenery, the flowers and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It is well worth it. There is even a gondola that goes to Schilthorn from Gimmelwald for more exploration. The options seem endless. You can be lost in the Bernese Oberland and loving it.


Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas

Little Jerusalem Badlands
Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas USA

The newest State Park in Kansas, USA is truly unique. The Niobara Chalk formation is a hidden treasure in a valley not far from the Smoky Hill River. It is located between Oakley (Logan County) and Scott City (Scott County), Kansas. Go South on US Highway 83 from I-70 at the Oakley exit. Drive South until you pass the Smoky Hill River. Then turn West on to a gravel road to Fairleigh Ranch. You will see signs that will direct you to Little Jerusalem.
The hiking trails will take you around the park. Most of the trails have been improved with gravel. The final trail is a regular natural trail that leads you to the best view of the park and the valley from the top. You will need a guided tour to get down into the valley.
Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas USA
Little Jerusalem Hiking Trails with grasses and wildflowers

It is a peaceful walk through this park while enjoying the spectacular views. There are rock formations, canyons, grasslands, wild flowers and birds to enjoy. You will see beautiful grasses such wild buckwheat and bluestem blowing in the Kansas wind. If you come at the right time of the year, you can see Kansas wildflowers such as Sunflowers growing right along the gravel path. The photos were taken in the Fall just after the Park opened in October 2019. The flowers were done blooming and turned into seeds which is a source of food for the birds.
The rocks and canyons are spectacular. You are staring at what used to be an inland sea. The colors vary with the seasons and light at different times of the day.

Little Jerusalem Badlands
Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas
Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas USA
Little Jerusalem Badlands Kansas USA

Flowers for your English Cottage Gardens

The neat thing about travelling is you get to see, explore and learn more than one way of doing things, for an example gardening. I love the English way of gardening and their romantic herbaceous gardens. So here are some flower ideas you can add to your garden here in North America. Start with the Spring Flowers like Tulips, Crocus and Daffodils. It will sure cheer your mood from the Winter blahs and welcome Spring! Plant flowers like Iris, Roses, Peonies so they will bloom after your Spring flowers are done. So there is always some beautiful flower blooming throughout the year. Add Yarrow, Daisies, Cone Flowers, Echinacea, Sunflowers, Foxglove, Columbines, Hardy Geraniums, Hollyhocks and Rambling Roses to the mix. Heirloom Roses produce the most heavenly fragrance. Plant herbs like Lavender, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Sage and Rosemary along the curvy paths you create with gravel or stepping stones. Consider adding flowers like Asters, Oxeye Sunflowers (blooming late Summer) that will flower till the last Frost. These flowers will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden. Don’t forge the Evergreens! This will give structure to your garden so it will look pretty when in snows in Winter. Bring a little bit of English Cottage Garden feel to your back yard!

  • Allium
  • Kansas Peony
  • Iris
  • Miniature Roses

English Cottage Gardens for Americans

West Yorkshire England
West Yorkshire England

It is amazing how many of our New World American flowers made it into the English Cottage Gardens. Everything from the Yarrow to the Echinacea grace English Cottage Gardens.

Flowers of the United Kingdom
Flowers of the United Kingdom

It is always nice to bring home some of the ideas you pickup while you travel. The English Cottage Garden concept can be applied right here at home in the USA. Instead of just manicured green lawns you can create “garden rooms” with the English Cottage Garden theme, quite romantic really. It can bring the Old World charm right into your backyard. Curvy herbaceous pathways leading you to keep exploring, trying to find what is around the corner. You may not be in the Cotswolds or West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, but it may sure bring back the sweet memories.

Here are a few flowers that would look good in a English Cottage Garden. More flower ideas for English Cottage Gardens.

Foxglove
Foxglove flowers for English Cottage Gardens

US Wildflowers

It is amazing that when you visit a place, certain things in nature will grab your attention. Beautiful waterfalls like the ones in Yellowstone National Park will definitely be on the top of the list. But sometimes just a simple delicate flower growing above the tree line (Tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado) or by the side of the road (Pacific Coast Highway California) or wildflowers (in the foreground of the Grand Tetons, Wyoming) will mesmerize you. You just have to stop and take photos and post it on Instagram or Facebook. You just cannot help yourself! It is truly something worth sharing with your friends.

Pacific Coast
Wildflowers Pacific Coast Highway California

Wildflowers Grand Tetons
Wildflowers Grand Tetons

Rocky Mountain National Park Tundra
Tundra Wildflowers Rocky Mountain National Park

Cameron Highlands Malaysia

The English developed the Rain Forest in the mountains where it is cooler into tea plantations with beautiful English Style houses. The famous Boh Tea Plantations below is worth the visit.

Boh Tea Plantation in Cameron Highlands

You can find green houses hugging the side of mountains filled with all sorts of flowers. The valleys are terraced and planted with rows of vegetables.

Cameron Lavender Garden Malaysia
Various flowers everywhere at Lavender Garden Cameron Highlands Malaysia
Cameron Highlands Strawberries Malaysia
Cameron Highlands Strawberries Malaysia

You can also get the best organic strawberries from different green houses in Cameron Highlands.

Take Time To Smell The Roses

Always take the time to stop and see the beautiful flowers in each place you visit. Depending on the season, it can be the best show in town. For an example, when I was in Amsterdam in Spring, Keukenhof Gardens was in full bloom with Spring flowers. I don’t think I have seen that many flowers all in one place! It is really hard to beat Spring.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam

And then there is Cameron Highlands in Malaysia where it is “eternal spring” in the mountains. A site to behold. Of course don’t forget the English Cottage Gardens, in Great Britain. The English Garden with the natural look, filled with flowers and herbaceous borders will make you come back again and again to England. And here in the USA, we have some of our own gardens to visit such as the Biltmore Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina and Old West Bury Gardens in New York.