Switzerland – Zurich’s best car park

Switzerland – Zurich’s best car park
Ah Switzerland, land of glorious scenery, of alps, lakes, elegant cities. So why am I writing about a Car Park? Cos it’s a cool car park.

It’s not often visitors to Zurich get excited about a Car Park – but you never know what this city is going to turn up. A couple of years ago the land in front of the Zurich Opera House was dug up to prepare it (down several layers) for a Car Park to service the city.

Going down a few layers revealed the well-preserved, substantial remains of a ‘stilt’ village: stilts, rudimentary tools, domestic implements, fishing nets and shamanistic tokens.
The archaeological discoveries made under the so-called ‘place of the Sechseläuten (festival)’ in Zurich were so numerous that assessment work lasted five years.
This find confirmed how the early/first people of this region lived. Villages were perched around Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), with the houses and community dwellings sitting over the edge of the water. Popular theory is that they lived over the water, up high because of marauding wild animals and there would always be food to be caught on the lake.
(Top image is of the reconstruction of the Neolithic lake dwelling site.)
The remnants of life on the lake were sowell preserved because they had been immersed and lacked in mud/silt therefore not disturbed nor destroyed.
The remarkable age discerned and documented puts the life and times of the village at 4300 years BC!  So more than 6000 years to date.
The Car Park went ahead – very carefully and in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. There are display cases with some of the finds, a film of divers and what they found at the edge of the lake and the finest damn Car Park in town.

The vast square on top of the Car Park spreads out before the Opera House. The surface is covered in oblong squares of Switzerland’s finest granite. Lots of grumbling from the locals at the exorbitant cost but there’s every chance it will last as long as the stilt houses!
There are a few randomly placed chairs which are happily filled with people, their faces tilted to the ever welcome sun.

Just another surprise in Zurich – go see for yourself.
www.zuerich.com
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Tasmania’s Bruny Isand

Tasmania’s Bruny Isand

 

Getting my glamp on!

Camping? No. Been there, done that and the thought of the cold ground seeping up through my bones, cutting through a wafer thin foam mattress and a patchy, duck feather sleeping bag strangling me is about an attractive proposition as being kept awake by the flapping of a nylon tent in a gale-force wind. So there.

But, here I am, snuggled in a king-size bed, with crisp white linens crackling around my face, darkness folding itself across the entrance of the large tent (should I call that a habitat?) and smiling to myself and remembering that I was never going camping again.

But, glamping. Yes! How civilised, how wonderful and how about this location?

We began our journey in Tasmania to enjoy the ‘Bruny Island Long Weekend’ experience with an early morning pick up at Daci & Daci Bakers in Hobart. No hurry, a fresh-out-of-the-oven pastry and a hot cup of java and then we are delivered to a private boat at the waterfront and so it begins . . .

We enjoy smooth sailing on the silky Derwent River and watch the city fade as the ancient coastline emerges.

There are dolphins at play and at the bottom of the steep, sandstone cliffs there appears to be a gang of sleepy seals playing possum. Sea birds swirl around the tops of the cliffs and we feel very far from civilisation.

We disembark. North and South Bruny is connected by a narrow strip of land called The Neck which is easier to say than isthmus.

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The island is around 50km in length and during a couple of days here we get to see the various hotspots.

Our bags (travelling light) are stashed and we waste no time before we begin to walk. We take a narrow path and begin our walk to a cape on the east coast of Bruny Island. Along the way we see no other human beings. Our hosts/guides/protectors are Robert and Dave who guide us gently through the sea level scrub before we start to rise higher where the scraggly, tough native trees are either gathered tightly together or are out on a limb leaning to the north. When the wind she blows . . . she blows.

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I haven’t done a lot of bushwalking in the past few years but realised how much I like it. Pushing the legs a little harder than usual, breathing in the crisp, end-of-summer scented air is invigorating. The remains of the wildflowers and tree blossoms are hanging on to the endless summer (and it’s been a cracker this year).

The max number of guests on any given Long Weekend is eight, and we are seven which makes getting to know each other easy and companiable.

Our walk takes about five hours with a packed picnic lunch stop, a visit off-the-beaten-track to an old hut that had been built years before – a kind of men’s shed in the wilderness; a trek to the farthest cape and a walk along a splendid, deserted beach with a smattering of rocks that boast of geological marvels and weathered history.

We are on our way to our camp but stop first to gaze at the smooth water of Great Bay to see how the famous Bruny Island oysters are farmed. A clutch of gnarly shells are brought out from the waters, shucked and eaten, au natural with great gusto. No that’s how you finish a bushwalk!

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The camp. Nestled in a clearing mid an old growth forest is our accommodation for the next two nights. The roomy tents (with big beds) are camouflaged in the bush and are a decent distance from each other. (It’s funny, throughout the normally silent night as the toilet is up the hill, away from the tents, all you hear is the sound of tent zippers opening and closing.)

Down the hill is the outdoor shower. Standing under pounding hot water and staring out at sentinel stands of eucalypts is a pretty special experience.

Then the big surprise unfolds. The hut where we eat our meals (like a bunkhouse) sits alone and as I wander down for pre-dinner drinks a fine film of smoke wafts into the air. Ah, dinner is cooking!

We sit in the fading afternoon light chatting while Dave and Robert work like a well-oiled team cooking our dinner. Mmmm, roast lamb, vegetables, hot rolls, and a sweetheart of a dessert.

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Into bed afterwards and asleep before I hit the pillow.

The chefs are at it again for breakfast – bacon and eggs? Don’t mind if I do.

The rest of the gang went on another bushwalk today to East Cloudy Head to stretch the legs and for a view of the wild Southern Ocean. I opted for sightseeing.

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The landscape is gentle and dotted with little farms, old and new. Decrepit houses and shacks make for good photography and by chance we saw the famed white wallaby make a brief appearance in the bush as we drove past.

The highlight of the day was to visit and climb the stunning Cape Bruny Lighthouse. First lit in 1838 the lighthouse is a stunning example of the best lighthouse architecture of its time. And it’s Australia’s longest continually staffed lighthouse.

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We stopped later at The Neck for a lazy lunch and I returned to camp early and bagsed the first shower.

Another evening of good company, gourmet food (local pork and vegetables), fine Tassie wines and late-night laughs. One of the guests had shouted herself this weekend to celebrate her 60th birthday. She loved it, as we all did.

This ‘glamping’ business suits me.

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Robert Knight and Dave Lane.

We walked and talked and learned so much about the nature of the island, the history and how to have a luxury experience without the four walls of a hotel.

It was a lazy start the last day, for me. The others took off for another walk but I wanted to hug a few trees before departing.

And continuing being ‘gourmet-spoilt; we had a long lunch at The Jetty Café to keep the high standard up.

I felt a little sad leaving Bruny Island as I was just beginning to understand this wild and beautiful part of Australia.

Well done Robert Knight (director of the company) and super cook and guide Dave Lane for a truly memorable long weekend. Amazing how little time it took me from ‘no camping’ to ‘I love glamping’.

Writer, Bev Malzard looked back on her pictures from many years ago (below) from her bushwalking days/daze. There are tiny tents she squeezed her sleeping bag into, billy cans with porridge and dried fruit cooking up for breakfast, heavy walking boots kicked off after a long day’s walk, and shots of her pouring red wine into her mouth from a wine skin. Ah, those intrepid times . . .

Bev Malzard enjoyed the hospitality of The Bruny Island Long Weekend (and heartily recommends it). For more information on the itineraries, departure times and now, the winter package, visit www.brunyislandlongweekend.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

England’s treasures

England’s treasures

Three sisters and a legacy of wonderful fiction, and all written by three women who lived in a quiet, out of the way village in Yorkshire – The Bronte sisters.

I had always imagined Parson Bronte’s daughters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, living in remote, windswept Haworth, in a damp, dreary stone cottage with no neighbours, confined to indoors and infinite boredom as the rain and sleet swept over their abode from the moors that were like a lonely and fierce moat oppressing them.

I was wrong, well, mostly.

Even though on the early spring day I visited – the village was tempered by misty rain, I discovered a charming village, much the same as it had been when the three literary sisters lived there in the early 19th century. The village is situated on
the eastern slope of the Pennines, located close to the river Worth. Yorkshire has retained many fine villages and most set like Haworth in glorious, wild nature precincts. It provides a landscape that was ripe for three imaginative young women to draw dramatic, romantic tales from and set them to paper.

A long, narrow cobblestone street rises from a sharply dipped valley and slim residences line the street locked in by little shops, cafes and boutique stores. Cafes are full of chattering folk and mothers wheel their prams up the steep thoroughfare.

It is this road that the ‘girls’ would have trod in sturdy boots, and there’s the local post office where Charlotte sent her manuscript of Jane Eyre under the pseudonym Currer Bell. In fact the three sisters took the Bell name, Emily was Ellis and Anne was Acton Bell, which veiled their gender – in a time when it wasn’t seemly for women to write novels.

The Brontes arrived at Haworth from Thornton in April 1820 and settled into the parsonage. Patrick Bronte outlived his six children (two daughters died in 1825), his wife, the three daughters and son Bramwell who was a loving brother but a troublesome son. He lived a complicated life and through drunkenness and the use of opiates his health declined and he died in September 1848. In December the same year Emily Bronte died and a year after, Anne passed away in the seaside town of Scarborough. She was buried there to spare their father from burying yet another one of his children.

The paintings above are rare and were painted by Branwell Bronte. The one of the three sisters on the left featured Branwell at the back of the composition but he painted himself out. The picture on the right is of Charlotte. 

So, the lives of the Bronte sisters weren’t long. They were well-educated by their father, a man whi crusaded for better education for the village folk and also better sanitation for the poor village of Haworth. \

The sisters also spent time in boarding school and their lively minds fed off each other creatively as they wrote together in their home by the Moors.

Today the parsonage is a museum of charm that invites visitors to look around and see just how they lived. The dining table is most evocative, it’s where the girls would gather to talk and write and walk around reading aloud to each other. The table is in the parlour, as is the couch where Emily died.

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Patrick Bronte.

There is a collection of personal items such as purses, books, modest pieces
of jewellery and clothes owned by Charlotte – the last to live in the house
as a married woman.

Charlotte – great and small

There’s a dress on a stand that she wore which is fit for a child, so small with the tiniest waist. And shoes of soft leather like ballet slippers – yet again, minute. Charlotte was only 4 foot 10 inches (147cm), a tiny woman, constrained by her life and times but with great ambitions. One of the artefacts on show is a book so tiny it would fit in the palm of a small hand, in script almost unreadable because of its size, which was written by Charlotte, part of her obsession with all things secret and tiny.

I enjoyed the house and the welcoming shop where you can’t help but pick up a fresh new copy of one of the Bronte’s novels. I settled for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall written by Anne Bronte.

It was Charlotte who lived the longest in Haworth, living in the parsonage until her death at age 39 in 1855. She married Arthur Bell Nicholls a year before her death.

Literary giants in their own time and beloved authors down the years, the Bronte, were three formidable sisters. •

 

Writer, Bev Malzard returned to Sydney to binge on all the movies made from Bronte books. It’s still a toss up with Jane Eyre – the Joan Fontaine or the Mia Wasikowska (as Jane) which is her favourite. Which is yours?

 AND Qatar Airways flies to Manchester daily from Australia via Dohar. Visit: [@]

www.qatar. com

The closest railway station
is Keighley Trainline ([@] thetrainline.com) buy tickets from London Kings Cross via Leeds.

Visit: Bronte Parsonage Museum ([@] bronte.org.uk)
More information: [@] www. visitengland.com [@] http://www.visitbritain.com visitbritain.com 

 

 

Top 10 sites of Stockholm

Top 10 sites of Stockholm
Stockholm Syndrome . . . 
Never get enough of Scandinavia? Love Scandi Noir? About to visit Sweden for the first time? Want to have your check list ready? All this and more too, and remember to stop, sit at a cafe and watch the world go by in this fabulous city. No hurry here.
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If you are p;anning a trip to this Scandi beauty, here’s how to get to know Stockholm. Tack!
In just one day you can stroll along cobblestoned mediaeval streets, take a boat trip to the archipelago and enjoy world-class shopping. Get to know Sweden’s capital in 10 easy stops.
The top 10 sites:

1. Vasamuseet. Scandinavia’s most visited museum – and it’s easy to see why. This miraculously preserved 17th century ship and the building that houses it combine to make an extraordinary experience. The Vasa, one of the grandest war ships ever built in Sweden sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. (How embarassing.) It was salvaged (below)in 1961 and is the best preserved ship of its kind in the world. Don’t miss this.

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2. Skansen. A beautiful, spacious open air museum that offers a romantic picture of rural Sweden from centuries past.
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3. NK. Shop or browse in the stupendous department store. NK (Nordiska Kompanier) is steeped in the stylish tradition of excellence.
4. ABBA, of course. A museum dedicated to the Swedish super-group is on the northern edge of Sodermalm. Tickets can be purchased from the info. desk on the ground floor at NK.
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5. An evening stroll along Monteliusvagen on the edge of Sodermalm, as the sun sets slowly over Stadhuset and the city centre.
6. A boat trip to Sandhamn, a bustling island off the edge of Stockholm’s stunning archipelago. It has sandy beaches, beautiful views and some excellent places to eat.
7. Moderna Museet. Visit the museum (below) on Skeppsholmen and appreciate the building’s design (by Rafael Moneo), its impressive collection of modern art and its great restaurant.
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8. Walk through the winding alleyways and mediaeval squares of Gamla Stan (below). The Old Town has been designated a cultural landmark. A walking tour will reveal where a famous poet was killed in a tavern brawl, where Dominican monks walked and where the classic haunts of the artists are. Most tours depart from the Obelisk on Slottsbacken outside the Royal Palace.
Historic centre of Stortorget, Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden, Scandinavia
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9. Fika. Swedes love to have a ‘fika’ – spending a long leisurely afternoon with a friend over cups of coffee with a pastry on the side. Embrace this tradition at Chokladfabriken, a cafe that shares its name with the Swedish title of Roald Dahl’s book about Willy Wonka. It serves truffles, marzipans and hard to resist sweet treats.
10. When you’ve had your fill of fika, you have to try the national dish of ‘sill’. Once the simplest of foods, sill is now a delicacy served on almost every national holiday. It’s marinated herring which comes in glass jars with many different flavours. Once you have tried it – you’ll be hooked. Or, that’s the story.

(What’s On? Official tourist & events guide can be picked up from tourist kiosks and hotels around the city. The brochure has an excellent map and comprehensive information about the city and surrounds including best restaurants, museums, tours, entertainment and cruises.)
OK lovely readers I know there are many more experiences to be had here – please add them in the Comments box.
Writer Bev Malzard left Stockholm on a dark and near-wintery night feeling a little frustrated at the amount of money she’d spent in that expensive town. She caught a train to the airport and when the train station guy told her how much her ticket cost, she exclaimed: “What? are the bloody seats made of gold?” He  replied: “No, that’s first class and the tickets are more expensive. But for you my Queen, I’ll put you in platinum class.” And that was the last genuine smile she had for almost 40 hours. The airport wifi was down, the plane was four hours late and she would miss her connection in Bangkok. She was ushered off the plane in Thailand, given a hotel room and a meal for a nine hour stopover and arrived in Sydney in a scary, demented state. She has since recovered – but has a twitchy eye.
(Writer flew Thai International Airways, which was superb through all crazy circumstances.)
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Guided or self-guided tours focus on the capital Stockholm and the nearby mostly flat rural landscapes of Södermanland.  An area of expansive forests, pastures, boulders strewn moorlands and over 400 lakes formed by ancient glaciers, there are many charming red-painted wooden houses and elegant manor houses dotted throughout the region.
Cycle to Gnesta then take the train to Katrineholm to see castles and palaces and Viking sites with ancient runestones and rock carvings. In Stockholm city tours include Drottningholm Palace and Gripsholm Castle and a boat trip to see some of the many islands.
On the menu too are a traditional smörgåsbord of hot and cold dishes, including a casserole of potatoes, onions, cream and pickled sprats (small anchovy-like fish), locally caught lobster, prawns, langoustines, mussels, oysters and of course herring, served in almost any way you can imagine – smoked, fried, pickled, marinated, baked, au gratin, with dill, beetroot, mustard, onion, or even blackcurrants or lingonberry jam.
The Kattegattleden Bike Path on Sweden’s west coast forms a part of the 5,900km EuroVélo North Sea Cycling Route. Outdoor Travel offers an 8-day (7-night) self-guided cycling tour along a portion of this epic coastal journey from Helsingborg.  
Bike Sweden Järna - Trosa (1)
Tours depart from May to September & costs start from $1530 per person twin share.
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For more information call Outdoor Travel on 1800 331 582 or see www.outdoortravel.com.au
 

Holiday tips

_IGP1560.JPGHappy new year friends, let’s hope for fun, frivolity, fairness and a fecundity (couldn’t think of another F that was suitable) forthcoming.

I’ve had a lovely Christmas in sunny Sydney and ate my body-weight at the groaning table of abundance. Headed to Melbourne to view the amazing array of wall art that has been decorating the laneways of Australia’s fabulous southern city.

Back to Sydney for the amazing fireworks that are emblazoned across the city on the harbour. Always spectacular, always producing shouts of joy from the crowd.

January 1 is the day for the first swim of the season at Coogee and a day to reflect and make resolutions.

I reflected on the year past and was fairly happy with it and my place within those 12 months and as for resolutions . . .nah, not for me. BUT I have promised myself to post every Tuesday for this blog – and as I woke up today with a sore throat and a croaky voice, I didn’t feel too inspired or creative. Next week, so much more for you.

So I dragged a few old posts from another blog I did for a magazine and offer them to you as ideas for your future travels, they are snippets and observations . . .enjoy. ( The top, featured picture has nothing to do with this post but these little Pope fgurines took my fancy in Assisi.)

Solo in Avignon


We walked into the courtyard in front of the mighty Palace of the Popes in Avignon,
France, a marvellous sight to see with the blue sky framing the silhouette of the building roof. There was the clear, pure sound of the saxophone echoing around the empty square and this fellow was there on his own in his own musical world – a particular lovely memory of a Trafalgar Tour. (Well worth it to take a day and walk around Avignon.)

France to Tuscany




In Tuscany, about 20 minutes from Florence now. We arrived (a small group) at Rome airport to a sunny day then coached it north. We left behind a rainy gloomy looking Nice – but only after a few splendid days in Provence.
The ‘A’s’ have it
Avignon and Aix-en-Provence were the spots we looked at and enjoyed.
We had a wonderful lunch in a small town at a tucked-away Michelin starred cook’s Le Jardin du Quai. Chef Daniel Hebet gave us a masterclass ‘demo’ on creating the perfect macaron. Perfect little pink beauties.
Highlights:
* The 2 1/2 hour fast train trip (TVG) from Paris to Avignon
* The dinner at night in a restaurant over a thundering river – we were eating trout too.
* A stroll around the walled town of Avignon checking the Pope’s Palace – those crazy pope’s and their indulgences!
* Lunch at an exquisite private home in Provence – set in the middle of its vineyard
* Counting the dogs being taken for a walk in Aix-en-Provence
Off to buy ingredients in Florence with the chef from the villa here. Then to take a cooking class – bella! (www.trafalgar.com)

Holiday in Istanbul


Thinking of visiting an exotic destination for your next trip? Readers may have visited Istanbul 30 or so years ago in their hippie heyday – say no more! I’m 24 hours away from flying out of a city of more than 15 million people – Istanbul. I’ve been here for just four and a half days after a brilliant cruise from Athens to Istanbul.
After the peace and sailing serenity, arriving in Istanbul was like a shot of adrenalin.
What an extraordinary place, layer upon layer of history – talking Turkey means talking Hittites, Persians, Romans, Gauls, Macedonians, Ottoman Turks – and an amazing, glittering era of Byzantine rule and splendour.
When I see a pile of pomegranates, next to a tray of fresh dates – I’m seeing the same thing here that someone else was checking out at the green grocer’s a few thousand years ago.
I am here in the middle of Ramadan, and there aren’t too many people in a bad mood. I wonder as a man serves me dinner – humus, shepherd’s salad, kebabs, bread floating across the room with air-filled wings; all finished off with a plate of sliced watermelon. A glass of apple tea washes it all down as a cup of the high-octane Turkish coffee would keep me awake until next week.
Everything about Istanbul is full on . . .
Enjoy a couple of non ‘postcard perfect’ pictures (above) from the frontline.