In August, my family and I took a train trip to visit Kingston and stayed at Queen’s University campus for a few days. Kingston is a historic city. It was named the first capital of the United Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. It’s located midway between Toronto and Montreal.
We have visited Kingston a couple of times and have been on the Thousand Islands cruise which departs from downtown Kingston. During this stay, we explored a bit of history, nature, and arts. Below are the highlights.
National historic sites
We visited three national historic sites: Kingston’s City Hall built in 1844, the Shoal Tower built in 1847, and the Murney Tower built in 1846. Shoal and Murney Towers are part of the Kingston Fortifications. In 2007, the Rideau Canal and Kingston Fortifications were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kingston’s waterfront pathway spans over 8 km along the Lake Ontario shoreline. We enjoyed strolling along the waterfront and saw many kayaks and sailboats on the lake and many windmills in the distance. The Breakwater Park is one block from where we stayed on Queen’s University campus so it was very convenient to get my morning walks done.
We visited the Agnes Queen’s Art Gallery on Queen’s University campus. Admission was free. There were various types of artworks on display, some are more contemporary than the others. I liked one of Sarah Robertson’s paintings and Claude Tousignant’s bold geometric style.
Queen’s University also has many beautiful limestone buildings worth browsing. Kingston’s nicknames are The Limestone City, or K-Town, or YGK. Aside from the above sightseeing, we met with our friends in Kingston to catch up. It was a nice and fun trip that was part of our wonderful summer 2019.
In July, my family went on a trip to Regina, the capital city of the Province of Saskatchewan, located about 3 to 3.5 hours by plane west of Toronto. During our stay, I took a day out to explore some of the sights located in the heart of Regina.
The Saskatchewan Legislative Building
Known as the marble palace, the Saskatchewan Legislative Building is one of the largest legislative buildings in Canada. It was erected between 1908-1911. Walter Scott, first premier of Saskatchewan, envisioned the Legislative Building in a park-like setting with grounds that would reflect the grandeur of the building.
Tours of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building are available seven days a week (except Good Friday, Christmas Day, and New Years Day) and are conducted on the hour. I took a guided tour to learn more about the architecture and history of the building. I highly recommend it. Why?
During the free, fun, and interesting guided tour that lasted about thirty minutes, I got to:
Visit the same building Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited on May 25, 1939.
Stand in the same spot in the rotunda where Queen Elizabeth II stood to view the Northern Traditions and Transitions murals.
Touch the beautiful green marble columns and look up to see the dome of the building.
Enter the legislative chamber and the library, where the Confederation table is kept. This table was used during the meeting of the Fathers of Confederation in Quebec City in 1864.
View numerous sculpture and artworks, including fifteen Portraits of Indian Leaders, all pastel on paper, completed by Edmund Harris during 1910 and 1911.
Queen Elizabeth II Gardens
Located in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, Queen Elizabeth II Gardens was dedicated by Her Majesty the Queen on May 18, 2005 on the occasion of the Centennial of the Province of Saskatchewan 1905-2005. A statue of the monarch on her favourite Saskatchewan-born horse, Burmese, was designed by Susan Velder and unveiled by Her Majesty in 2005.
The Saskatchewan Legislative Building and its grounds were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2005. After the indoor guided tour, I picked up a booklet at the information desk and completed a self-guided outdoor tour that takes me through approximately 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) of the beautiful legislative grounds.
Wascana Centre features a 930-hectare urban park built around a 120-hectare lake. The trails around the lake are accessible for walking, cycling, and rollerblading. It was a sunny and warm day so I appreciated the shades provided by the trees, the water fountains in and around Wascana Centre, and the light breeze from Wascana Lake.
MacKenzie Art Gallery
From Wascana Centre, I walked further south to explore the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s Outdoor Sculpture Garden. Some of the artworks that are on display on the grounds around the Gallery caught my attention. Joe Fafard’s bronze cow statues reminded me of his work, The Pasture, in Toronto.
It was a wonderful and educational outing on a gorgeous summer day. I walked about 8 kilometres (5 miles) outdoors, learned a bit of history in Regina, and saw some beautiful architecture and artworks.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I had a wonderful day trip to Salzburg. I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting (or revisiting) Salzburg through my lens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 EmpireSandy. 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.
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.
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
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: