Monday, July 22, 2013

blogging issue reprieve

After more than a week of frustration with trying to set up a blog on Wordpress, which I find non-user friendly with limited options, I tried Blogger again at the library and -- it worked!

I have no explanation for this, as even Wordpress was telling me that Cardiff Library's version of Internet Explorer is outdated, but I don't really care. I like Blogger, it feels like home, and for the moment it appears I can continue to blog with it.

Colour me a happy blogger!

Friday, July 12, 2013

major blogging issues

It may be time for me to say farewell to Blogger, which saddens me and is also going to be a new learning curve as I will have to set up a blog on another site, probably Wordpress.

The posting function on Blogger is not working at the Cardiff Library as of last week.  After doing some online sleuthing, my understanding of it is that Blogger will only work now on the newest Internet Explorer and it appears the library is running on an older version and, I've been told, won't be changed for 10 months or so.

I will try and speak to someone else at the library before I change. I don't think I'll be able to import my old blogs with me when I change to the new site. It can be done; I believe the content is done in a straightforward manner but to import the photos or media you have to download an app -- and again, working out of the public library doesn't allow me to download anything foreign onto their machines. And importing my content without the photos doesn't make any sense.

As a consumer and a user, and not a technogeek, you assume these postings will go on forever in cyberspace, but apparently not. I don't want to drop the blog -- it is a creative outlet for me -- but it is also nice having everything in storage and with retrospective. I'm not sure how long Blogger will keep my blogs around once I switch and stop inputting into my present site -- another thing I will have to find out.

I'm doing this on the computer at work which runs on Chrome, which Blogger is OK with now, but I can only be on this computer for a few minutes and there is not much privacy, so it is not a real option.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day two: the Alps -- switchbacks and cowbells

As Kelly went for his early run through the streets of Venice, I went out with my camera to wander the canals and calli of our sestieri, and was caught up in the fascination of garbage collection, Venetian-style. Metal carts filled with garbage were lifted mechanically and emptied into the deeps of a boat. I sat on a canal edge watching until one of the collectors disappeared into a neighbourhead cafe and did not return. Other labourers took in the morning heat and calm, chugging along the canals in small barges and boats.

We said 'ciao' to Venice with a last vaporetto ride to the Santa Lucia train station. The station was an impressive arrival, or in this case, departure from Venezia and more organized for tourists than the Piazzale Roma coach station. Kelly and Wendy had arrived by train from a nearby town where they parked their rented car.

Having reclaimed the car, we began our long day's journey through the Alps ...

An expected five-hour trip through the Alps, with time for scenic lunch breaks and photo ops, became a marathon of missed road signs and growing incredulity with Italian road marking. We were turned around again and again, destinations appeared at roundabouts one time and one time only. The scenery was breathtaking and luscious. The further north into the Italian Alps we went, the more the view outside the car window looked like pictures taken from the Swiss story of Heidi -- lovely villages, each one with its own church, laid out in valleys, spotted alongside mountain ridges, surrounded by pasture lands smooth and green.

We were looking for Bassano. Kelly had been driving for at least five hours and we were still in Italy, still had to go through Austria and a bit of Germany. We had pulled off the main road and Wendy and I went into a store to pick up bread, lunch meats, fruit and crackers for a lunch. We ended up eating those crackers and apples in the car for the rest of the day, staving off hunger and road-sign frustration.

We found Bassano, we were unexpectedly in Bassano, we couldn't get out of Bassano -- Bassano finally spit us out and we were on our way when Kelly said he thought that we had missed the main highway and were climbing the mountain. Indeed we were. The switchbacks took us into high skiing country. We must have been near the Austrian border as the buildings looked more and more Alpine and the languages on the signs were now in German as well as Italian. The views of the valleys below were stunning. On the descent, as we faced occasional, intrepid cyclists on blind curves as they clambered up the mountain, the ride was also a little terrifying.

As evening approached we called the inn in Brannenburg, outside Munich, where we were staying that night to let them know we were expecting to be a little late. After the switchback Kelly was able to get on a major highway and we made it through Austria and into Germany smoothly, very thankful for road signage that was familiar.

After the long day on the road we pulled into Brannenburg, a delightfully Bavarian village, that couldn't have been more perfect. I had been expecting a desolate suburb of Munich, something one might have found in North America on a tacky strip into town. But they don't do it that way in Europe. The homes were real, spotted along the valley floor on the edge of foothills and large, based on the model when barns were part of the houses. The air was sweet with the smell of hay and blossoms and green grass. The residence/inn where we stayed, Pension Berghof, had several guest rooms and a spa and our specific room, with a kitchenette and bunk beds, was large enough for a family.

Not more than twenty feet from our outdoor entrance was a flowering orchard in which about four cows grazed in the evening sun; yet the air didn't smell of manure but of sweet hay and the cows all wore bells that made the most singular sound. Every time one moved its head a light tinkle floated through the air. It was more lovely than windchimes, which can repeat on themselves. Another week later and we would have missed them as our inn's proprietor told us that the cows would then make the journey up to the summer pastures. I became enamoured of cowbells.

Evening was fading into night and we had to get food into our stomachs. We were fortunate that the village had what turned out to be an excellent restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't know what we were ordering as the menu was in German. Kelly did know about spargel, the white asparagus, which he explained was the star of German menus in the spring. With a little sign language I was able to order the fish, which was probably the best fish I have ever had in a restaurant. It was better than anything I've had in any Italian or French restaurant and melted in buttery sweetness.

Beer, of course, and a walk back to our room where we kept the windows open to the drifting sound of cowbells. The bright notes hung in the air and moved here, then there late into the night, welcoming us again early in the morning.

The village church in Brannenburg, Bavaria

Sundial on the side of the church -- not sure if it was 'working'
-- it was about 9 a.m. and sunny, but no shadow that I could see
The restaurant in which we had a wonderfully cooked German meal, complete with spargel
Brannenburg Schloss, now a private school, with a sadly modern story