Summer Week 9: Spontaneous Outings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 9, from August 16 to 22 inclusive, delivered a beautiful stretch of good weather, sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Daytime high ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 84F).

I received a couple of quick messages and phone calls from my friends. My spontaneous response “Yes, let’s do this!” rounded my week with two in-person coffee chats and one Stand Up Paddling afternoon on Toronto islands.

Coffee Chat #1

Friend #1 who lives in the suburb and who has been working from home had to go into the city centre for business on Tuesday. I was flexible with my time so we met up for coffee and catch up. I walked to our meeting place and back home, got 5K done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone.

We sat outside on a beautiful day, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, and in a nice public square with plants and flowers. Our chat was non-stop with laughs and smiles. After our meeting was over, I got a photo of this pretty monarch butterfly. Not bad for a cell phone!

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower
Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower

Coffee Chat #2

Friend #2 who lives in the west end of the city and who has been busy taking care of an elderly parent was available on Thursday. So we agreed to meet at Humber Bay Arch Bridge. I rode my bike there and back, enjoyed my ride on the scenic waterfront trail, got 20 kilometers done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone again.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Humber Bay Arch Bridge

We sat outside at Sheldon Lookout, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, on another gorgeous day, with stunning views of Humber Bay. Part of the bay, where the sun light hit the water, sparkled like a million diamonds.

The view from Sheldon Lookout
The view from Sheldon Lookout

Our chat was full of news exchange, laughs, and smiles. On this sunny day by the lake and with nice green space around us, we focused on the present and the good things in life.

A view from Sheldon Lookout
A view from Sheldon Lookout

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Friend #3 was asking me about my Stand Up Paddling excursion in July. So we booked to rent two SUP boards. Each rental includes a return trip on a pontoon boat to where the SUP boards are stored on the islands, a board, a paddle, a life jacket, and a flexible leash with Velcro straps to keep the board attached to our ankles. We did stand up paddling on Toronto islands for about 2.5 hours.

My cherry red SUP board...Love the starfish!
My cherry red SUP board…Love the starfish!

The lake water will be cooler in September and SUP season will be over soon so I was glad to squeeze in this SUP outing. The photos from this trip are a bit unclear because I took them while my phone was secured in a clear waterproof case!

We saw many swans and ducks during our paddling. The cherry-on-top for me was a great blue heron that stood quietly by the water as we left the islands to head home, and the fiery sunset over Toronto Harbour, signaling the end of another stunning day.

Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Sunset over Toronto Harbour
Sunset over Toronto Harbour

Spontaneity and Flexibility

These outings came together on different days with different people and minimal planning. They gave me many joyful moments. One ordinary week became extra-ordinary. I’m glad I have the flexibility in my day to say Yes, let’s do this!

After all the physical activities, I’m ready to sink into one of these big comfy Muskoka chairs and read a good book. Care to join me? I’m about half way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Muskoka chairs and lake view
Muskoka chairs and lake view

Once again, nature, sunshine, exercises, friendship, and good books are my not-so secrets to a healthy and enriched life. Summer week 9 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 10.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

Holiday decorations

My blogger friend, Leslie, invited me and other bloggers to share my holiday fun list with her on November 21, and a quick update on how I did on my list on December 21. I call my list a Fun list since I don’t ever have a bucket list.

Now I’m challenging myself to have fun this holiday at either no cost or low cost and to be environmental-friendly as much as possible. I also want activities that engage my senses. So I come up with the following five for the period of November 21 to December 21.

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

1) View the holiday light displays: The big banks and major department stores downtown always put up dazzling holiday displays, some with fairy tale themes. City Hall also has a real 15-metre (50-foot) Christmas tree that will be lit up at the end of November. I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there and enjoy the visual treats for free.

2) Listen to live holiday music: I usually go with my friends to the Cavalcade of Lights event in November and/ or the annual holiday concert in December at City Hall. Both events offer wonderful music performances and are free to the public. Again I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there.

3) Bake a Ration cake: I found this Second World War Ration cake recipe here. It would be fun to make it for the holidays. The cake is low cost as I already have the ingredients in our pantry. The kitchen will smell good. If the cake turns out well, my family and I will satisfy our taste buds with the yummy treats. Win-win-win.

4) Give food and hope: It’s a sad reality that we have people who rely on food bank because they have nowhere else to turn. I plan to donate online or buy food items and donate at a local grocery store. I’ve got the list of food items that our local Daily Bread Food Bank always needs because of their high nutritional value (e.g. baby food and formula, peanut butter, canned fish and meat, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, lentils, beans, dried pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, cans of soup and stew, powdered, canned and tetra pak milk).

5) Walk to show the Earth some love: It would be fun to map an outdoor route with a few points of interest and walk it with my family or friends. We bring a warm beverage like hot chocolate or hot apple cider in our reusable travel mugs and enjoy it during or at the end of our walk. I keep my fingers crossed for reasonable weather between November 21 and December 21 so that I can complete this activity.

How about you? What do you have on your holiday fun list?

Click here to share your plans.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Heidelberg Castle with Friends

I mentioned in my In and Around Munich post that my cousin took me to see Neuschwanstein Castle. I was spoiled again when my friends who live near Stuttgart took me to Heidelberg to visit this charming German town and Heidelberg Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Germany.

Heidelberg is located about 120 km north west of Stuttgart, right on the Neckar River. The town is known for Heidelberg University, Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386, and the red sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle.

Heidelberg panorama by the Neckar River
Heidelberg panorama by the Neckar river: The Gothic Heiliggeistkirche church on the left, Marktplatz in the centre, and the Old Bridge on the right.

HEIDELBERG OLD TOWN

Upon arriving in Heidelberg, we strolled in the Old Town and admired the beautiful buildings. The Gothic Heiliggeistkirche church towers over the vibrant town centre Marktplatz. One can spend many days in this town to examine its architectural details. From the main square, we could see Heidelberg Castle standing on Königstuhl hill.

Heidelberg
Heidelberg Castle on Königstuhl hill in the background

HEIDELBERG CASTLE

To conserve our energy and time, we took the funicular from the ground level to Heidelberg Castle. Below are some of my photos during our exploration of the various buildings on the castle site. I organized them in chronological order with the earliest structure first.

The Ruprecht Building single-story, simple medieval structure was built under King Ruprecht I, who ruled between 1400 and 1410. It is the oldest surviving residential palace within Heidelberg Castle.

Rupretch Buidling at Heidelberg Castle
Surviving tower by the Ruprecht Building at Heidelberg Castle

The Powder Tower (aka the ‘Exploded’ Tower) was built under Prince Ludwig V, who ruled between 1508 and 1544. It once functioned as a gun turret. “Kraut,” or powder, specifically gunpowder, was stored in the basement. French mines destroyed the roughly 7-meter-thick wall during the war between 1688 and 1697.

The Powder Tower at Heidelberg Castle
The Powder Tower at Heidelberg Castle

The Hall of Glass was named for its magnificent second-story hall, once adorned with Venetian mirror glass. It was constructed by Prince Friedrich II, who ruled between 1544 and 1556. Its Italian arcades connect the two most beautiful buildings within Heidelberg Castle: the Friedrich Building (left) and the Ottheinrich Building (right).

The House of Glass at Heidelberg Castle
The Hall of Glass with its Italian arcades in the centre

The Ottheinrich Building was erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556–1559). The elaborate decorative figures on the stately facade were created by sculptor Alexander Colin. The roof was damaged by fire from French troops in 1693 and was finally destroyed by a lightning strike in 1764.

Ottheinrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
The Ottheinrich Building at Heidelberg Castle

The German Apothecary Museum has resided in the basement of the Ottheinrich Building since 1958. The castle admission ticket includes a visit to this interesting exhibition on the history of pharmaceutics.

Apothecary Museum at Heidelberg Castle
German Apothecary Museum in Heidelberg Castle

The Friedrich Building and its lavishly decorated facade was built during the rule of Friedrich IV (1583–1610) by his architect, Johannes Schoch, between 1601 and 1607. The electoral family lived on the two top floors. The attic floor was reserved for the servants.

Friedrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
The Friedrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
Statues at Heidelberg Castle
Statues at Heidelberg Castle

The Bell Tower seen next to Scheffel Terrace was originally constructed as a gun turret in the early 15th century. Over the centuries it was reinforced, built up, and finally converted into a bell tower and lookout tower.

The Bell Tower at Heidelberg Castle
The Bell Tower seen from Scheffel Terrace

The English Building was built between 1612 and 1614 during the rule of Friedrich V (1613–1619) for his English bride Elizabeth Stuart. The surviving window facade is on the left in the photo below.

English Building at Heidelberg Castle
The English Building at Heidelberg Castle
Facade details at Heidelberg Castle
Facade details at Heidelberg Castle

The Barrel Building was constructed in the 16th century. A giant barrel was installed in the building’s basement in 1591, holding 130,000 liters of wine. In 1664, it was replaced by an even larger barrel with 200,000 liters capacity. Nearly 100 years later, Prince Carl Theodor had the third and current Great Barrel constructed. 220,000 liters of wine were stored here.

After visiting the beautiful Heidelberg Castle, we strolled in the castle gardens, and took the stairs (some 300 steps) to get down to Heidelberg Old Town. Walking with my longtime friends made the descent from the summit seem shorter.

I’m hosting the Wellness Wednesday link up on August 14. The optional prompt is Friends with regards to how they affect our well-being. Since I’ve written my Health updates in my July Wrap-Up post, I’m sharing my wonderful outing in Heidelberg with my friends for Wellness Wednesday. Please click here to join in on the fun.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.