Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Stairs or steps

From our previous Cee’s Challenge we stay at island Madeira, now at the Palheiro Gardens. It is a small heaven on the eart, but also here you can find a little hell, the first stairs (top left) are leading there. But don’t be afraid, heaven is just behind the bushes :-).

Travel theme: New

The travel theme for this week is New. First, I read the topic I decided to visit Prague ZOO and make a picture of our new gorilla baby which was born Dec 22, 2012. I can responsibly say it is a boy, as just today ZOO has published this information and if you are interested, you can participate in finding him a new name here. More about Prague’s gorrillas family you can read in one of my previous posts about My best animals.

From top left: alphamale Richard, Kijivu with new baby, Kiburi - older brother, Bikira, Kamba in expectation (please keep your finger crossed, the situation doesn't look good with her and her baby), Shinda

From top left: alphamale Richard, Kijivu with new baby, Kiburi – older brother, Bikira, Kamba in expectation (please keep your fingers crossed, the situation doesn’t look good with her and her baby, she didn’t eat and didn’t sleep the last week), Shinda

I visited ZOO yesterday (Jan 2) and I was lucky to see the little baby, but as the family was sleeping, there would not be a lot of interesting photos. See what I get :-).

Little baby in safe arms of his mother

Little baby in safe arms of his mother

I need more “NEW” and I have one more. In another post about Surprise I wrote about my visit to Stockholm. I kept secret from you one of my biggest surprises there. Now I unfold it. During our very short visit of Christmas Markets we were robbed. Someone opened our small backpack and took my ZOOM camera object lense. Not really a nice surprise …

But why I am writing about it now? During Christmas I got a new – bigger – ZOOM lense and I used it yesterday for the first time, therefore everything I took with it is NEW as well :-).

Animals  details reached with new ZOOM.

From ledft top: surricati posing for the shot, yawning otter, arguing flamingos, kissing pinguins

From left top: surricati posing for the shot, yawning otter, arguing flamingos, kissing pinguins

With ZOOM you can also make shots of Prague Castle and Petřín Tower from ZOO.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

And even you can take New year’s fireworks above the center of Prague from Prague suburb.

New Year's fireworks

New Year’s fireworks

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Your 2012 Best People or Animals

If you read properly the Challenge at Cee’s Challenge you find that you are supposed to post here your best shots from 2012 year. I decided that I will change the challenge for myself. I will not put here the best shots but the shots of my best people and animals. And as my most favorite and best people are my family, who would not like me putting their pictures on the blog, you will see now the shots of my most favorite animals. I hope you won’t mind this small cheating :-).

My most favorite animals are our small dogs, Tiffany and Hubert. We call them Fany and Bertik, respectively, and they are really beautiful and smart and beloved.

Fany is half an hour older and she is explorer, flegmatic, has her own head.

Fany just leaving for some garden exploration

Fany just leaving for some garden exploration

Bertik is a sweetheart, very responsible, loves hugging, needs to have everyone (specially Fany) under control, looks like embryo when sleeping.

Betrik chceking if someone is coming to caress him

Bertik checking if someone is coming to caress him

They love each other, always kiss in the morning.

Sleeping on the sun and big fans on the petanquie tournament (unfortunatelly our team lost ...)

Sleeping on the sun and big fans on the petanque tournament (unfortunatelly, our team lost …)

The other important animal family, which is stupendously popular not only in our family but all over the Czech Republic, is the gorilla’s family in Prague ZOO. The family is very famous specially due to the project Big brother, where the cameras were installed at gorrilla’s place and till then we can watch them 24 hours a day. The Big brother show lasted few months and Richard (alphamale) won, but fortunatelly the cameras have stayed and we can still watch them on internet here.

Richard, head of the family, year 2003

Richard, head of the family, year 2006

The family consists of the head male Richard and his wifes – Kijivu, Kamba, Shinda and Bikira. Few days ago (Dec 22, 2012) Kijivu gave birth to her fourth child, looks like it is a third boy. Kijivu is very succesfull mother. Her first child, girl Moja, was born in 2004 and from the end of the last year she lives in a new family in Cabarceno ZOO in Spain. In fact she’s expecting a baby around March (we are waiting when the camera will be installed in Cabarceno? :-)). Moja is a real star in our country, the first gorrilla baby born in our ZOO.

Moja, two years old, year 2006

Moja, two years old, year 2006

The next baby born was in 2007 year, mother was Kamba, but baby died after the birth and the life of Kamba was endangered as well. That’s why there is prepared big team of vets and also human doctors and obstetricians now, as Kamba should give birth to a new baby any day and we are afraid of her.

The third child was Tatu, who was a cute and beautiful boy, unfortunatelly he died by accident in July 2012 and it was a big tragedy. Here you can find a picture of new born Tatu, mother Kijivu and sister Moja.

Tatu, about one year old, 2007

Tatu, about one year old, 2007

The third Kijivu’s baby is Kiburi, the only baby in our gorrilla family till the last week. Kiburi is a sweet boy, you can see him in a short movie from the beginning of 2012 year, his older brother Tatu is also seen there, at the beginning and at the end of the shot.

Kiburi, age about 2 years, 2012

Kiburi, age about 2 years, 2012

The next baby was Tano, but unfortunatelly his mother Bikira was not able to take care of him, as she didn’t grow up in a happy gorrilla’s family (she came to Prague only 2 years ago), so now Tano lives in Germany in gorrilla’s kindergarten, but he looks very happy there. See the gallery here and very funny movie shot here.

From Dec 22 we have a new baby born, you must check the movie here, it’s really cute! And also lots of pictures on that page. I will visit ZOO in short time, to have my own shots :-).

Kijivu in expectation, Dec 3, 2012

Kijivu in expectation, Dec 3, 2012

Now we keep our fingers crossed for Kamba and her new baby that both of them would happily survive the birth!

Palace Gardens – Prague Castle Hill

Let’s start this talk at the place, where we ended the previous one. At the south flank of Prague Castle hill.

Castle Gardens descending from the Castle hill

Winter overall view to Gardens

In the history this place has mainly defense character, the fortress system there was established around 1241. At the beginning of 15th century the defense function at this place lost its importancy, the place was sold by municipality to nobles and rich burghers.  Sinister elements were hiding at cabins standing at small gardens for some time.

Kolowrat Gardens

But later the small gardens and vinyards were joined to bigger complex, so at 1580 was big Fürstenberk Garden founded, soon garden behind Pallfy Palace followed and the last surviving vinyards were changed to garden at Ledeburg palace in 1624. The gardens were in italian Renaissance style, built for joy and distraction.

Top of the Small Fürstenberg Garden in Fall

Same place in winter, St. Nicholas Church in lesser Town Square in the back

At the end of Thirty Years War 1648 were spoiled by Swedich Army adn after that rebuilt again, but now in rich and decorative Baroque style, as was asked to show the status of ich and powerfull noble or burgher owners.

View from the bottom of Ledeburgh Garden

Balustrade terasses were decorated with sculptures, monumantal stairs, fountains and waterwors sweetened the specially during summer time.

Triton Fountain in Big Palffy Garden

We can still find there sala terrena in renaissance style, galerries, pavillons. From high-pitched stairs we can admire magis views to Lesser Town and Old Town with other Prague quarters on the horizon.

Nice view and relaxing zone at the top of Small Palffy Garden

The gardens system now consist of Ledeburg, Small and Big Palffy, Kolowrat and Fürstenberg gardens.

Parter of Ledeburg Garden in winter

Sala Terrena at Parter of Ledeburg Garden with small Christmas tree

And Ledeburg Parter once again, this time in autumn

Gardens are opened for Spring, Summer and Autumn, but from November to March they are closed. Few years ago I had a chance to visit the Gardens during Advent time, they were covered with snow and it was really perfect atmosphere there.

Ledeburg Garden in fall …

… and in winter

And now enjoy some stills from gardens.

Hidden corner at Big Palffy Garden

Stairs and alcove at Fürstenberg Garden

Top of the Fürstenberg Garden (ticket office)

Small gate between Kolowrat and Fürstenberg Gardens

Pink flowers at the bottom entrance to Gardens (Kolowrat Garden)

A view from the bottom entrance again

Colors of Baltic States

Baltic states – Estonia, Lavia and Lithuania – are three small countries in North East Europe and are on my Top List of Favorite Places, where I was and enjoyed it there a lot. Even though the history of these countries is very similar, they are not the same and every one of them has its stunning beauty.

Tallinn garden festival in the park behind the walls of the old city, Estonia

From Estonia I will choose colors, flowers, Lahemaa national park, medievel hansa city Tallinn and summer town Parnu. In Latvia I like to swim (more precisely walking in the water, as it is rather shallow) in Jurmala, the kitchen is the best here, valley of Gauja river is beautiful and adventure as well, walks in Riga’s park are nice. In Lithuania you can’t miss baroque capital Vilnius with independent Uzupis distric, lakes are so beautiful in Aukstaitia, Palanga beach and park are must see, dunas and sea at Neringa (Curonian split) can’t be miss.

Colorful house and small garden in Juodkrante, Neringa, Lithuania

July’s looong sunny days offer us the best opportunity to enjoy the places around. What I love in Baltics are the colors on the streets and all the details. Flowers markets there are the nicest I have ever seen and traditional handcraft works are so beautiful.

Flower market at Central Market in Riga, Latvia

When you are in Latvia, tasting auksta zupe (cold soup) is so refreshing, that you can easily became addicted to it, so when you come to Lithuania you are immediately going for saltibarscaj, which is not the same but pretty close, served with potatoes.

Saltibarscai, beetroot cold soup with cream, how served in Rumsiskes, Open-air museum in Lithuania

There you will learn that black and grey are also colors and not mistakes on the color chart.

Black swan on the pond in city park in Cesis, Latvia, there is a pair of them and they had a small baby this summer

Flax jumpers and wool socks, grey is just perfect there

But when you don’t like it, you can choose from all the colors of the world

Socks stall in Central Market in Riga, Latvia

Hats in all shapes and colors at town hall square market in Tallin, Estonia; even more can be found in Lithuanian markets

Flax jumpers both in Tallinn and Vilnius (cheaper there !)

Very close to the old town of Tallinn there is a big ship harbour for ferries to all around the Baltic sea, very crowdy but nice place.

Naval flags in Tallinn harbour, Estonia

Our hostel in harbour was colorful as well

Visiting summer cities like Parnu (Estonia) or Palanga (Lithuania) or Ventspils (Latvia) is perfect chance to spent some time by the sea at the beach, that is pretty close to forest. The cities are colorful, but you can always find a quiet place for coffee, just sit there and enjoy the air.

At the small park cafe in Parnu, Estonia

Wooden weather vanes are in nice colors and shapes, mainly in Nida, but also in Juodkrante, beautiful village at Curonian Split

Braided trees in Tartu, Estonia, but also in Vilnius, Riga and other cities

The best time for visiting is July, but I believe autumn colors must be perfect specially in national parks as Lahemaa in the north Estonia or in Aukstaitia in Lithuania as well as in Gauja park in Latvia.

The winter would be also nice, but the days are very short there, to feel warm and cozy you can choose from many jersey’s designs in Tallinn. Also trees are protected against the cold carefully :-).

But in fact it doesn’t matter which time of the year you will choose for your visit, as long you are dressed well and you travel with opened eyes and opened heart, in Baltic states you won’t be disappointed.

Jersey at the wool market bellow the old ramparts in Tallinn, Estonia

London Gardens

Last week I have spent in London for some work. At home yet I looked for the place we would live and look, what I have found on the Google Map.

Russell Square on Google Maps

And now even closer look.

It’s not on the floor, it’s in the air!

Yes, it’s there.

The first thing we came to that place I checked, if the airplane is there, and what do you think? Yess, it was there!

Russell Square is small but nice park close to the British Museum and I really like the view of it with a little bit of snow but fountian working.

The snowballs were made of snow but partially from the mud, sun was shining through the trees and the atmosphere calls you to sit there for coffee and enjoy the quiet place.

Winter fountain

Where is the rest of the Snowman?

Cafe on Russell Square

After spending some time on Russell Square we went to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, to visit squirrels and birds there. We entered the park at the place, where the big fight between Mark and Daniel happened in Bridget Jones The Edge of the Reason. The fountains here are nice in all weather.

Would not want to fight between the ice …

The weather was perfect, rather warm (take into account we came this morning from Prague where was about -20 Celsius, which is -4 Fahrenheit).

Beautiful winter scene

The wild life in the gardens is very fresh. We saw mices, rabbits, but mainly squirrels and birds, unfortunatelly nothing with us to feed them.

Other pictures from this serie are in a blow a little, as I tried to run away from the closing squirrell, she seemed to be landing on my head soon

The gaggle going to the water

The walk around Serpentine was really beautiful and in summer it must be really great to finish it in the nice Summer garden on the water.

Cafe with beautiful view

Strahov Monastery

Strahov Monastery Inner Yard

Strahov Monastery located in Strahov on Petřín‘s Hill at the gates to Hradčany – Castle Area of Prague Castle is the oldest Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1140 by Bishop Jindřich Zdík, Bishop John of Prague, and Prince Vladislav II. Pemonstratensians came there in 1142 and the remains of the order founder St. Norbert were brought to this monastery in 1627. Monastery was robbed by Swedish Army in 1648 and lot of the books and art pieces were taken.

At the end of 17th century the monastery was rebuilt in baroque style. After communistic takeover in 1948 the monastery was closed and monks were sent to working camps. In 1968 lot of remaining art pieces were taken by Soviet occupation army.

After Velvet revolution (1989) the monastery was reconstructed and serves as a monastery again. You can see there beautiful collection of gothic art, Theological and Philosophical Halls.

Theological Library

With my husband we visit this place rather often, mainly because of small nice brewery in the monastery yard but also due to beautiful view to Prague. Once we met a monk, who invited us also to Monastery garden that are hidden from the eyes of other visitors. It was very nice encounter and I will share some pictures from it with you.

Light in the Dome of Basilica of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, we met our monk guide here

Meeting fishes in the pond

Hidden garden

Walls of the monastery from the garden

View to Prague Castle from the Garden Walls

Vltava River and Lesser Quarter roofs

Courtyard with Brewery and Church of St. Roch

Brewery bar

Light and Dark Norbert, you can’t drink this anywhere else but in this small brewery. You can also make small excursion to the brewery.

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