Day Trip to Salzburg, Austria

When I was in Munich in June, one of the day trips that my cousin and I took together was to Salzburg in Austria. Salzburg is known as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and home to the “Sound of Music”. Salzburg lies about 145 km south east of Munich. With the German ‘recommended’ highway speed of 130 km per hour, it took us just a little bit over an hour to get there by car.

Upon our arrival in Salzburg, the weather was sunny, warm, 32 Celsius, and humid. We managed to see five of the top sights in Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart’s Birthplace, Mozart’s Residence, Salzburg Old Town, and Salzburg Cathedral Quarter.

Hohensalzburg Fortress is the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe. Construction of the Hohensalzburg Fortress started in the year 1077 and ongoing development of the fortress architecture continued until 1500. The fortress is open year round and can be reached on foot or by funicular. It’s worth visiting if you’re interested in historical exhibits, including original furnishings from the year 1501/ 1502.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence, both of which are now museums, provide a glimpse into his extraordinary childhood:

  • The yellow-walled Geburthaus (or Mozart’s Birthplace) at 9 Getreidegasse where Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 and lived there until 1773.
  • The soft pink-walled WohnHaus (or Mozart’s Residence) at 8 Markatplatz where he lived with his family from 1773.
Salzach River and Mozart's Homes

Salzburg Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the left side of the Salzach River which divides Salzburg into two halves. The pedestrian-only streets in the Old Town are lined with shops, all with decorative metal works above the entrances. We enjoyed exploring the maze of streets leading to and from several main public squares.

Salzburg Old Town

Salzburg Cathedral and Cathedral Square (Domplatz): Of its numerous churches, the cathedral is Salzburg’s most important sacred building. The façade is made of marble. Looking down from it are four monumental statues: Apostles Peter and Paul holding a key and a sword, as well as Salzburg’s two patron saints, Rupert and Virgil, clasping a salt vessel and a model of the church. The two statues at the top of the gable commemorate the two builders of the cathedral, Markus Sittikus and Paris Lodron. The cathedral interior is also stunning to see.

Salzburg Cathedral

Cathedral Square connects with Residence Square (Residenceplatz) which is surrounded by the Residence building (left in the photo below) and Salzburg Museum (right in the photo below).

In the centre of Residence Square is the beautiful baroque Residence Fountain created by the Italian sculptor, Tommasso di Garone. At the base of the fountain, four snorting horses seem to spring forth from the spouting rock. Giants rooted in the rock carry the lower basin, in which three dolphins balance the scalloped upper basin. The upper basin holds a Triton, a jet of water shooting into the air from his conch-shell trumpet. It’s truly magnificent artwork.

Residence Square and Residence Fountain in Salzburg

From Residence Square, we walked to Salzburg Market to pick up fresh snacks and to browse all kinds of food products, traditional folk wear, and souvenirs. Then it was time to head back to Munich.

Salzburg Market

I had a wonderful day trip to Salzburg. I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting (or revisiting) Salzburg through my lens.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

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In and Around Munich, Germany

In June I visited my cousin and his family in Munich, the third largest city in Germany, about 585 km (363 miles) south of Berlin. I had visited Munich once before so on this trip, I set aside one day for sightseeing in Munich to revisit some of the main sights and to explore two new-to-me attractions (Munich Residence and Olympic Park). On the remaining days, my cousin and I made day trips to a few places located south east and south west of Munich and to Salzburg in Austria.

Below is a map with blue markers to give you an idea where we were. Munich is the top marker, Tegernsee and Chiemsee Lakes are near the centre, Salzburg is far right, Füssen and Neuschwanstein Castle are lower left.

Munich and the surroundings

SIGHTSEEING IN MUNICH

Marienplatz, located in the heart of Munich, is an optimal starting point to get to know the city. In 1854, this square was named after the Marian column that stands in the middle of it. On the day that I was there, the square was packed with people out to celebrate Munich’s 861st anniversary festival.

On the right in the photo below is the tower of the New Town Hall. At noon, the Glockenspiel chimes and the figures appear in the windows of the tower. Munich’s glockenspiel is the largest in Germany and the 4th largest in Europe.

On the left in the photo below, the two green domes belong to the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady (Frauenkirche) which dates back to the 15th century. The nearly 100-metre high towers (also known as the onion towers) are inspired by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Marienplatz in Munich

I walked for a couple of hours re-visiting other main sights in Munich, such as Karlsplatz (Stachus), Odeonsplatz, and the Victuals market (Viktualienmarkt). The market has more than 140 stands and shops offering local and exotic products.

In the afternoon, I explored a new-to-me attraction: the Munich Residence (Residenz). The Munich Residence is the biggest inner-city palace in Germany. From 1508 to 1918 it served as seat of residence and government to the Bavarian rulers.

Statue in the courtyard at the Munich Residence

The various Bavarian rulers furnished and extended the rooms to suit their own personal tastes, engaging important artists for the purpose. Some of the most impressive rooms that I saw include the Antiquarium (photo below), Stone Rooms (Steinzimmer), the Green Gallery, and the Treasury (Schatzkammer) where crowns and jewels of the last 10 centuries are displayed.

Antiquarium in the Munich Residence

I was surprised at the inside size of the Residence, room after room on several floors, with huge amount of furnishings. Two words came to my mind “excessive opulence” as I kept walking and listening to the audio commentaries. The Munich Residence is well worth a visit and one would need at least three hours to see it all.

In the evening, my cousin and I went to Munich Olympic Park. We took the lift ride up to the 185-metre high Olympic Tower to see magnificent views over the city of Munich. It was a clear and calm night with a handful of visitors at the lookout level. We had a coffee break at the on-site revolving restaurant to soak in the views of the tented roof stadium, the BMW Museum, various sport facilities, and Munich by night. It was a beautiful end of this day in Munich.

Views from Munich Olympic Park Tower

DAY TRIP TO THE LAKES

On another gorgeous day, we spent time visiting the lakes near Munich. Tegernsee Lake is about 51 km south of Munich, and Chiemsee Lake is about 55 km east from Tegernsee Lake.

First stop was at Tegernsee Lake where we had a delicious lakeside brunch. On the platter was fresh pretzels served with cheese, eggs, cured ham, salami, and pickles. The Weisswursts (white sausages) are traditional Bavarian sausages made from minced veal and pork back bacon. They were served with sweet mustard and soft pretzels. The cappuccino came in a cute cup, just what I needed for the morning.

It was peaceful by Tegernsee Lake without any noise except the sounds of birds and water movements. After brunch, we walked around the lake perimeter for some exercise and enjoyed the lake views. The surrounding gardens, houses with timber sidings and hanging flower baskets were lovely.

Lakeside Seatings

In the afternoon we went swimming in Chiemsee Lake. The cool lake water was a refreshing relief from a warm and humid day with high temperature around 31 Celsius (or 88F). From the sandy beach, we could walk pretty far out into the lake as its slope was gentle and the water was so clear that we could see our feet.

Tegernsee

DAY TRIP TO FÜSSEN

Füssen is located about 133 km south west of Munich. It’s a pretty town, easy to walk around to explore the shops and local scenes. We strolled in the town centre for about an hour, took a coffee break, and picked up our reserved tickets at the Tourist Office to visit Neuschwanstein Castle.

Füssen Town Centre

VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited palaces in Europe, with around 1.5 million visitors a year. King Ludwig II based the design of the castle on the medieval paintings of Romanesque knight castles and an interpretation of the musical mythology of Richard Wagner, whom he admired greatly.

Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle commenced in September 1869 and never completed when the King died on June 13, 1886 in Lake Starnberg.

Neuschwanstein Castle

We booked our tickets in advance to avoid the long line up. The castle is easily reached on foot at a distance of 1.5 km with upward slope, mostly in the shades of the surrounding trees. Horse-drawn carriages are available for hire as well. Unfortunately the horse poops attract a lot of flies.

Ticket holders enter the castle as per the reserved time on their ticket to take the 30-minute guided tour in German or English. A tour guide walks the group through the castle to see the various rooms. Audio device is provided so everyone can hear the commentaries. No photography or video recording is allowed in the castle.

At first sight, Neuschwanstein Castle looks like a fairy tale with the green mountains in the background. I was most impressed with the Throne Hall and the amazing views from the castle, which includes a bridge above a canyon, the lakes, and Hohenschwangau Castle with its yellow walls.

Views from Neuschwanstein Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle

EATING OUT AT A BEER GARDEN

On a warm summer evening, my cousin and his wife took me to a local beer garden for dinner. Picnic tables and benches are set up under white umbrellas. Customers pick up their food and drinks from food huts and pay at the cash counters before sitting down. We shared roasted chicken, ribs, and warm pretzels which went down well with the local beer.

Beer Garden
Beer Garden food

I had a wonderful time in and around Munich. There are plenty to see and do in the Bavaria region. I was glad I could make this trip a reality and create new memories with my cousin and his family.

From Munich, we took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. I also took the inter-city trains to Stuttgart to meet my friend and her husband and together we did more sightseeing. More on these day trips in my future posts. Stay tuned!

Thank you for travelling with me. I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

The Tall Ships

I’ve been co-hosting a monthly Wellness link up on the second Wednesday of each month in 2019 with my blogger friend, Leslie, at Once Upon A Time & Happily Ever After blog. The optional prompt for July is Family health.

Since I’ve provided my Health updates in my June Wrap-Up post here, in this post, I’m sharing a walk that my family and I did together.

On Canada Day weekend, we started our celebrations with a home-made pancake breakfast, served with Canadian maple syrup and Ontario-grown fresh strawberries. It was yummy and gave us plenty of energy.

We went for a 5 km walk along the waterfront to see the tall ships that were participating in the Tall Ships Challenge Race Series 2019 and at the Redpath Waterfront festival. Below is the explanation of the series from the Tall Ships Ontario web site:

THE TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE

The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes Series
is a race series organized by Tall Ships America that travels through the Great Lakes stopping in US and Canadian cities throughout the summer of 2019. The race involves (on average) 15 international tall ships that race from port to port and are timed. The launch port for the 2019 Great Lakes Series will be in Toronto at the Redpath Waterfront Festival on Canada Day weekend. The Canadian portion of the tour is referred to as TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® ONTARIO
.”

THE TALL SHIPS

The first tall ship we saw was Empire Sandy. This tall ship was originally built as a deep-sea tug in the UK in 1943. In the late 1970’s, she was transformed from a tug to the magnificent tall ship she is today. She was launched in 1982 right on Toronto’s waterfront, and is now Canada’s largest passenger sailing ship.

Walking along the waterfront, we saw Kajama cruising in the Toronto Harbour. This tall ship was built in Germany in 1930 as a cargo vessel. She sailed in the North Atlantic for three decades through western Europe, Norway, and Russia before being sold to a man in Denmark, who gave her the name “Kajama”. She’s been a permanent attraction on Toronto’s waterfront since 1999.

In the next stretch of our walk, six more magnificent tall ships greeted us. Their names and brief descriptions were provided where they docked. Each tall ship is a beauty with very interesting history. Feel free to read more about them and where they are going next on the Tall Ships Challenge web site. I grouped their images into a photo collage below.

  • Playfair (top row, left): The first Canadian tall ship to be christened by a reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, in 1973.
  • Fair Jeanne (top row, centre) A tall ship designed and built by a Canadian naval war hero and was named after his wife.
  • US Brig Niagara (top row, right) A third reconstruction of an American flagship that fought in the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie.
  • Pride of Baltimore II (bottom row, right): An American tall ship that has logged over 250,000 nautical miles and has docked in more than 40 countries.
  • Blue Nose II (bottom row, centre): A Canadian tall ship whose image was adorned on the Canadian dime and remains on the coin today.
  • St. Lawrence II (bottom row, left): Another Canadian tall ship who is home to one of the oldest sailing-training programs in North America.
Clockwise Left to Right: Playfair, Fair Jeanne, US Brig Niagara, Pride of Baltimore II, Blue Nose II, and St. Lawrence II.

The tall ships were open for deck tours. Most of them required tickets to board and tour, except the HMCS Oriole (HMCS stands for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship). It was pretty cool to tour the Navy’s longest serving commissioned ship.

OVERALL RATING

All in all, it was a fun family 5K walk on a nice summer day. We saw several beautiful tall ships, watched the crew members’ activities on their vessels, toured the HMCS Oriole, and learned about the tall ships’ interesting history. The combination of family, festivity, fitness, and fun made our Canada Day weekend a fabulous one. I gave this walk a five out of five!

ABOUT THE WELLNESS WEDNESDAY LINK-UP

Wellness Wednesday image

Please feel free to join in today or on any of the remaining Wellness Wednesday link-up dates in 2019. Optional prompts are as follows:

  • August 14 – Friends
  • September 11 – Sleep hygiene
  • October 9 – Gratitude
  • November 13 – Healthy holidays
  • December 11 – Goals year-end review

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Have you been to a Tall Ships event before? Any interest in tall ships and their history? What family wellness activity are you planning to do next? I’d love to hear your comments.

June Wrap-Up

June yellow flowers

JUNE 2019

Hello July and goodbye June! June was an enriching month in so many ways. I spent half of the month in Canada and the other half in Malta and Germany. Let me share my June highlights with you and I invite you to tell me yours.

ARTS

At home, I viewed various art exhibits at the Luminato festival. Admission was free. Here’s a sample of Kristian Spreen’s Compositions exhibit with her pretty glass and underglaze art work. The vases were displayed behind enclosed glass windows with spot lighting so my photo had shadows in it.

Kristian Spreen art work

When I was in Valletta, there was a show of beautiful (and likely very expensive) cars in St. George’s Square, to mark the 90th anniversary of auto sales in the city. I enjoy examining the car designs as I think they are another form of art.

The quantity of high quality visual arts that I saw really skyrocketed in June, thanks to my trip to Malta and Germany. I’ve shared my Malta highlights here, and plan to write about my time in Germany soon.

BLOGGING

My gradual transition from Blogger to WordPress has been good so far. I wrote four posts in June, two of them were on Blogger, and two on WordPress. I’m also redirecting readers from my blog on Blogger to WordPress.

I hope my change of blogging platform gives my blog readers a ‘like or better’ experience. If you’re following my blog, thank you. If you have my blog on your blog roll, please update it with its new URL. I greatly appreciate your support and patience.

A friendly reminder that the next Wellness Wednesday link up is on July 10. The optional prompt is Family. Please feel free to join in on the fun.

BOOKS

In June, I finished two books (Persepolis, and Oversharing) before going to Malta and Germany. That brought the total number of books that I’ve enjoyed reading to thirty-two so far for this year. I’ve picked up a few more books from the library for my summer reading.

CONCERTS

I attended four terrific outdoor concerts performed by Jordan John, Sandra Bouza, Denis Keldie, and Montreal’s Les Voix Humaines viol quartet. Admissions to these events were free. Toronto has an amazing number of free concerts in the summer. I try to make time to attend at least one every week.

The concerts I go to are casual where the audience can see the musicians up close. They are not the high-end productions in big arenas that cost a lot of money. Nevertheless, the music and vocals are superb.

Sandra Bouza music

When I was in Munich, coincidentally the outdoor Stadtgründungfest was on at Marienplatz, the main square in Munich, to celebrate the city’s 861st birthday. Marienplatz was packed with people enjoying the dancing, live music, and food and drinks at the on-site beer garden.

Stadtgründungfest in Munich

FAMILY

My family clan got together at the end of June to celebrate various good news in the family (birthdays, school graduation, new home, and new summer jobs). A lot of fun conversations and good food. We’ve arranged to meet again in July.

FRIENDS

I managed to have two meet-ups with my friends in June. One of them took place in Stuttgart, Germany, and the other was in Toronto. Both are longtime friends. I’m grateful to have enduring friendships regardless of the distance or time lapse.

HEALTH

In June, I did my daily meditation and walked outdoors every day. While at home, I worked out in the gym seven times, attended five yoga classes, and got in three swimming sessions.

I brought my resistance band with me for my strengthening exercises when I was away from home. I also used local ‘fitness amenities’ in Malta and Germany. Some are man-made like the stairs in Valletta, the swimming pool in my hostel, and some are natural resources great for swimming like the Blue Lagoon in Comino, and the lakes in Bavaria region in Germany. They were good reminders for me to continue my exercises to stay fit, and that one can do exercises without a gym membership! You know the saying ‘When in Rome…’.

LEARNING

I completed my daily online French and Spanish lessons in June even when I was in Malta and Germany. I spend about 15 minutes on each language and have been consistent with my learning activities. I view them as my brain exercises and they’re fun to do.

One other obvious learning source is from my travel. A new destination awakes my senses and provides ample of practical learning opportunities. For example, I learned to book a shared shuttle service from and to Malta airport, to take public buses and ferries in Malta, to ride regional trains and intercity trains in Germany, and to learn about the history of the various sights that I visit.

MOVIES

I saw five movies (one at home and four in-flight). In order of preference, from left to right, they are Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Captain Marvel, Spider-man Into the Spider-verse, and Isn’t It Romantic.

Movie posters

TRAVEL

My trip to Malta and Germany went smoothly from beginning to end. It was great catching up with my cousins and longtime friend in person. The weather was sunny and warm every day that I was there. This is another enriching and fulfilling trip that I treasure very much.

OVERALL

June was a wonderful month for me. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I’m enjoying July and the summer fun that comes with it. July has started off with a bang, thanks to Canada Day celebrations and fireworks on July 1st.

How was your June? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Malta Highlights

When I was planning my trip to Munich, Germany, I wanted to add a second destination to optimize my trans-Atlantic voyage. Malta met my list of criteria and I was thrilled to visit this small country in the Mediterranean Sea:

  • A new-to-me country
  • Direct, two-hour flight from Munich
  • Rich in history and culture, with a few UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • English and Maltese are the official languages
  • Part of the European Union, use same currency as Germany (i.e. the euro)
  • Mediterranean climate and cuisine
  • Land and sea scenery and island lifestyle
  • A less expensive European destination

Malta is steeped in prehistoric ruins, tales of the Knights of St. John, and about 7,000 years of history. I spent six days exploring Valletta, the two harbours, the fortified Mdina, Gozo, Comino, and the Blue Lagoon. Gozo and Comino are two smaller islands that can be reached by ferry or cruise boat from Malta. Let the sightseeing fun begin!

VALLETTA

Valletta is Malta’s capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. To appreciate Valletta’s skyline and enjoy Malta from the water, I take the public ferry from Sliema to Valletta. Return tickets cost 2.8 euros. The comfortable ferry ride lasts about fifteen minutes. Service is frequent year-round. The city views from Marsamxett Harbour, including the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral spire, are priceless.

From the ferry terminal, I follow the signs to walk to Valletta’s city centre. I think the best way to explore Valletta is on foot, however, parts of Valletta are uphill or involve long stairs. There are tourist electric trains and horse carriages waiting outside the ferry terminal for people who prefer to take them.

Valletta Stairs

Valletta’s centre is easy to navigate with several main streets designated for pedestrians only. It is a lovely place to wander and be allured by the surrounding architectural beauty.

Clockwise Left to Right: St. John’s Co-Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Valletta’s Bay Windows and Expressive Lion Faces.
Clockwise Left to Right: Entrance to the Grandmaster’s Palace (constructed in 1574), its gardens, Manoel Theatre (1732-present), and Auberge de Castille (1744-present).

For scenic views, I visit the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens and Hastings Garden. I think the two Barrakka Gardens are better lookout points than the Hastings Garden.

The Upper Barrakka Garden offers fantastic panoramic view of Valletta’s Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo. The system of bastioned fortifications was built by the Order of St. John between the 16th and 18th centuries, with further alterations made by the British in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Knights’ fortifications around the harbours of Malta are nominated for UNESCO designation.

Grand Harbour

The Lower Barrakka Garden greets its visitors with a beautiful temple, fountains, greenery, and benches. Walk through the garden to the open colonnade for a commanding view of the harbour and the Siege of Malta Memorial with the Recumbent bronze statue below.

Lower Bakkarra Garden

THE TWO HARBOURS

The two main harbours surround Valletta are the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. I take a pleasant 90-minute cruise, departing from Sliema and cruising inside the ten creeks named Sliema, Lazzaretto, Msida, Pieta, Menoa, Marsa, French, Cospicua, Kalkara, and Rinella. Ticket price is 15 euros, or less if combined with other cruises.

The English commentary explains all the historical points of interest of the two harbours. Plus, the cruise boat gets me up close to see the Yacht Marina, the battlements and fortifications surrounding Valletta and Floriana, the Grand Harbour, the inner basin, the Malta Ship Building Yard, the Dockyard area, and the three cities (Senglea, Cospicua, and Vittoriosa).

THE MDINA

The 4000-year-old walls of the former capital, Mdina, stand on a mountaintop at the heart of the main island, Malta. Mdina’s imposing architecture is entirely preserved, and the city is a UNESCO-designated Urban Conservation Area today.

From Valletta or Sliema, a public bus ride costs 2 euros and takes about an hour to reach the Mdina. Entry to the Mdina is free of charge. The fortified Mdina, nicknamed the “Silent City”, is lined with stately palazzi, bastions, and a cathedral. Some 240 people still live here.

The Mdina is a pedestrian-friendly and nice place to wander, with small alleys fan out from its centre. Some of Malta’s best restaurants are tucked away inside Mdina’s ancient walls. Bastion Square provides panoramic views of Mostar and its huge dome, and Valletta with St. Paul’s iconic spire.

Clockwise Left to Right: Mdina’s Main Gate, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Views from Bastion Square.

GOZO

There are many boat cruises from Sliema to Gozo every day in the summer. The ride takes about two hours with two brief passenger pick-up or drop off stops in St. Paul’s Bay and Comino. The boat cruise arrival in Gozo’s Mgarr Harbour is timed with optional sightseeing tours of this beautiful island.

I visit the Inland Sea Cave, Fungus Rock, Gozo’s Citadel, Ta’pinu Basilica, Gozo’s market, and Mgarr Harbour. The boat ride into the Cave costs 4 euros. The water in and around the Cave is incredibly clear and its colour changes from deep sapphire blue to aquamarine to light green. The rock formations also show layers of amethyst, green, and yellow sand stone colours.

COMINO and THE BLUE LAGOON

Comino is a much smaller island than Gozo. It’s known for the Blue Lagoon and caves. You may have heard of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Well, there is a Blue Lagoon in Malta, too.

There are boat cruises from Sliema or from St. Paul’s Bay to Comino. The ride takes about an hour or half an hour respectively. The Blue Lagoon entry is busy, however, if you walk further out, there are lots of secluded spots to enjoy the sun, sand, and swim.

FOOD

There is no shortage of good food to try in Malta. The local Maltese specialty is fenek (rabbit slow-cooked in garlic and wine) although seafood is popular. Of all the good meals I had in Malta, one of them stood out. It was the dinner at Gululu in Balluta Bay with Margie who is from the Netherlands. We met, we clicked, and went for dinner on her last day in Malta. We both ordered the Maltese-style chicken pizza. I enjoyed our hearty conversation, delicious food, and the lovely view of Balluta Bay that evening.

SHOPPING

Best buys are traditional crafts including hand-blown glass and lace, ceramics, silver and gold jewelry, metalwork, pottery, and tiles. I bought a pretty silver flower-shaped pin as a birthday gift for my cousin’s wife. I forgot to take a photo of it before the saleslady wrapped it up with a bow.

Aside from the usual souvenir items, what I find interesting is the variety of door knockers or door adornment in Malta. Here’s a sample:

Overall, I had a wonderful time exploring Malta. There are still many places to visit on this small island. I’d love to return in the future.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

What Have You Been Reading?

I just got back from a two-week trip to Malta and Germany. My trip was part new exploration, to see the sights in Malta and Germany, and part family and friends, to see my cousins near Munich, and my longtime friend near Stuttgart.

I had an amazing time in both countries. The weather was sunny and warm, some days got to 37C (or 99F). I did a lot of talking with my family and friends, a lot of walking, sightseeing, eating, drinking (mostly water to stay hydrated and a few beers), and of course taking photos. More trip details to follow once I get myself organized.

In the mean time, in the Northern hemisphere we welcomed the first day of summer on June 21. Summer brings the promise of many outdoor activities, as well as easy living and reading. This prompted me to reflect on what I’ve been reading this year.

In January, I started using the proposed categories from the Toronto Public Library 2019 Reading Challenge as a guide to read more widely. This has led to getting me to read a bit beyond my usual mysteries and fiction.

What I’ve Enjoyed Reading: From January to date, I’ve enjoyed reading thirty two books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I had fun putting the thirty two book cover images into a photo collage. The books are listed by author’s last name below:

  1. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  2. The Widow, Fiona Barton
  3. Family & Other Catastrophes, Alexandra Borowitz
  4. The Rough Guide to Croatia, Jonathan Bousfield
  5. Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton
  6. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
  7. The Choice, Dr. Edith Eva Eger
  8. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Nathan Englander
  9. 419, Will Ferguson
  10. Gone Girl, Gillan Flynn
  11. Panic Room, Robert Goddard
  12. Scrublands, Chris Hammer
  13. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  14. Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
  15. A Brief History of Oversharing, Shawn Hitchins
  16. Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini
  17. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  18. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  20. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  21. The Bishop’s Man, Linden MacIntyre
  22. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  23. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
  24. In Pursuit of Excellence, Terry Orlick
  25. Love Dishonor Marry Cherish Perish, David Rakoff
  26. Bellevue Square, Michael Redhill
  27. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland
  28. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  29. Adèle, Leila Slimani
  30. The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
  31. Ru, Kim Thúy
  32. Book Love, Debbie Tung

Book Categories: The Toronto Public Library proposed fourteen categories in the Reading Challenge. I’ve read all of them, and at least one book in each category, hence the total of thirty two books. When a book qualifies for more than one category, I count it in one category only.

Reading Habits: During the day, I prefer to be out and about so I save my book reading for the evening. I read most days but not every day. I usually read one book at a time to pay my full attention to the book. I’ve also been more careful with my book selection since I want to spend my time on good quality books.

Gratitude: I’m grateful to have access to one of the best public library systems in the world. Thanks to the library’s proposed book categories, I’ve been reading many new-to-me and award-winning authors from different countries. I’ve also read more book genres and learned more about international literary awards. I love that I’ve been reading these books without accumulating them in my home.

What’s Next: I enjoy the Reading Challenge and plan to continue for the rest of this year. I may use the additional eleven categories in the Advanced Reading Challenge to make my reading even more interesting. It would be a “wide” success for me if I could finish reading sixty books in more than fourteen categories in 2019.

Your Turn: What have you been reading? What are your reading habits?

I’d love to hear your book recommendations.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

My First Blogger Date

My first date with a blogger happened in a spontaneous fashion. I read a post about ‘a blind date’ on Erica’s Behind The Scenery blog, left a comment, and saw Ann’s comment that she was going to be in Toronto the following week and would be interested in meeting a blogger.

So I contacted Ann at The Unretired.life blog and we agreed to meet for lunch at Bangkok Garden restaurant. This eatery has been around for over thirty years. They offer an all-you-can-eat Thai buffet lunch or à la carte options. I think the food and service there are pretty good and the price is reasonable.

Ann and I both chose the buffet lunch. We talked about blogging, travel, adventures at home and abroad, and so on. It was a fun conversation and the ninety minutes went by in a flash. Then we parted ways and followed up by sending each other some more blog URLs.

I think our first date went well. No nervousness or awkward moments. I informed Ann that I was planning a trip to Vancouver Island in September. I asked if she’d be available to meet me again while I’m there. She said yes!

Thank you to Erica for writing that post, and to Ann for a fun first blogger date. Talk to you again soon 🙂

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.