Last month I headed to Prague for a long weekend. Other than hearing that Prague is a beautiful city, which it is, I went with no expectations and no plan other than to enjoy the sights. Here’s a small sampling.
The most delightful part of my trip was the break from the relentless 30C degree plus weather that we’d been suffering at home for nearly 2 months. Prague’s 15-17C daytime temperatures were really welcome; the drop to single digit night time temps, not so much.
My Prague magazine on Flipboard
Our trip to Norway at the end of May has already acquired a dreamlike quality even if it was only two months ago. Revisiting our vacation pictures helps me remember that there are places in the world where the hottest topic of conversation is the weather. And occasionally Norway did make me feel like I was back in Minnesota, not least of all because it seemed all the young folk we met had a very Minnesotan accent in English.
Our first day’s travel included 3 different flights over 9 hours, Tel Aviv to Vienna, Vienna to Oslo, Oslo to Bergen. The last leg may have been the shortest, but thanks to a delayed flight from Vienna, we had 35 minutes to make our connection to Bergen after collecting our luggage for Customs; the boarding gate, perversely, was the furthest from the in-transit check-in counter. A mad dash ensued and, thankfully, both we and our luggage made it.
The older sections of Bergen, or more correctly Bryggen, is where the German Hanseatic League had a trading enclave for 400 years, the main product from Bryggen being dried North Sea cod or Stockfish. The wooden buildings where the fish were processed were in constant danger of burning down and the one housing the Hanseatic Museum was rebuilt after the fire in 1702.
We only had one full day in Bergen and used this guide as a starting point. Fortunately, the older part of Bergen is compact enough that we could cover it in a day.
More to come…
Nearly 2050 photos later…
There were fjords, of course, and more fresh water than I’ve ever seen in my life, which is a lot to say coming from a native Minnesota girl.
More pictures, much more, coming later.
Meanwhile, life is like a box of chocolates.
A week ago we signed up for a free, Friday morning field trip to Mt. Gilboa with the Jewish National Fund. I’d been waiting very impatiently since our day trip several weeks ago to the same area because it was too early and there wasn’t a single Gilboa Iris to be seen. When Friday morning rolled around, we woke up to a downpour with black, thundering skies overhead. A call in to the KKL Forest Hot Line to check whether the field trip was on came back with a resounding yes, but… “it might be a good idea to bring boots and an umbrella”. The further north we drove, the more intense the rain became. It was only as we turned east and passed into the Jezreel Valley that the rains began to subside and blue skies began to poke out between the clouds. By the time we reached the meeting point at the foot of Mt. Gilboa, there were mostly blue skies overhead.
The view of the Jezreel Valley below from Mt. Shaul
Our first stop on Mt. Gilboa was to a bluff called Mt. Shaul and the wonderful panorama above. Here, too, there were wildflowers blooming everywhere, including some I had never seen before.
But the highlight of the trip was almost a half hour away, on the other side of the mountain, the Gilboa Iris. Once numerous, blooming in stands over a wide area of the top of the Gilboa near the now almost ironically named “Iris Path”, the flowers are now mostly found in a few secluded pockets at the far east side of the Gilboa in an area near Malkishua.
Everyone on this field trip was there to see this flower. Like the majority of Israeli wildflowers, the Gilboa Iris is a protected species. So with cameras and phone cameras in hand, we spent quite some time photographing them from every angle and then walked back to our cars, about 3/4 kilometer away. Once back in our car, I flipped through the photos I’d taken and noticed that my best picture unfortunately included someone’s foot. What to do?!
Back home and photos downloaded to my computer, I powered up PSE11 and went to work. Every attempt to surgically remove the foot from the photo left me unhappy with the outcome. Then I tried a close crop and to my eye it was the better choice.
I’d really be interested to know how you deal with your photographic near, or even far, misses. Have you taken that “almost” perfect photo that needed more than just a touch-up to salvage it?
After the shower overnight and before the rain this afternoon, there was a glorious, sunny window of opportunity to head out and enjoy the wildflowers that are blooming all over the country.
Following last week’s tumultuous climb out of Nahal Tavor, where the lupines were starting to bloom (my knees haven’t yet recovered from the 300 meter, 45-60° grade incline), hubby and I decided to take it a bit easier this week and head just north of us to the Iris Reserve on Netanya’s sandy dunes near the sea. The reserve is an oasis smack in the middle of what is fast-becoming another high-rise, residential neighborhood and while not currently in danger of being taken over, it was in the past. The Reserve is home to one of Israel’s most beautiful and rare wildflowers, the Black Iris or Iris Ha’argaman in Hebrew, as well as many other annuals. The perfume in the air was delicious!
The camera was misbehaving a bit because in many photos the focus was on the background rather than what I was pointing at and it was difficult to see the LCD screen in the sunlight to check (not to mention being down on my knees at ground-level for a number of shots). If there is anything I do miss about my old Oly, it’s the viewfinder!