Sunday, July 25, 2010


Just before returning to Colorado we were invited to a very nice dinner party at our friend home, aptly named Sanderosa. Sandy Sandy is an accomplished artist and photographer, and Jerry Farley an equally accomplished mechanic who also creates works of art from odds and ends.

This whimsical cat is only one of Jerry's many creatures.

Besides caring for her two horses and bevy of cats, Sandy finds the time to keep a dozen hummingbird feeders filled for the large flock of Ruby-throated hummingbirds that return each year.

But their generosity doesn't stop there. Jerry buys old corn from local farmers to feed their other visitors.

This doe, one of the early arrivals, enjoyed her treat as evidenced by the corn silk still hanging from her mouth.

She was followed shortly by many of her friends.

Including these two young bucks.


Our favorite inhabitant of our garden is no doubt the praying mantis. When watering the flowers my husband is amused how these little creatures, even when no bigger than an inch or two, stand up on their hind legs in attack position and dare you to get them wet. We always try to avoid them.

While watering, one morning I spied this one sitting on a flower and apparently eating something - so I ran in to get my camera and a macro lens.

By the time I got him focused he was already well along in devouring a fly that he had caught.

He turned his head and gave me the evil eye - a warning not to try to take his prize from him.

Since I didn't appear to threaten him, he continued his meal, removing the wings which I guess are not the fly's tastiest or most nourishing part.

So I left him in peace to finish his breakfast - knowing that was one fly that wouldn't bite me.


Now that we are back in beautiful Crested Butte for a few short weeks, I decided to post a few pictures from the last weeks in New Jersey. I always seem to be behind.

My sister and I spent some time enjoying her new grandson, Nathan on the beach late in the day.

A storm had just past and the ocean had left a nice, shallow, salt water pool behind the front of the beach.

However as the tide changed the waves cut a channel to drain the pool back into the ocean.

These three little girls who at first watched with caution the water draining through the newly cut path found a great place to play follow the leader.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We arrived in Bratislava after a long flight from the States via Paris and Vienna followed by a fast car ride,(I tried not to look a the speedometer). The weather was beautiful, our hotel a 5 star in the midst of the Old Town, but the best of all was our soft beds - as we settled in for a short nap.

Changing clothes we went out to explore this beautiful city which is the capital of Slovakia, a small land locked country in Eastern Europe. Having been part of the Czechoslovakian Republic since the first part of the century, it fell under the control of the USSR at the end of the WWII and didn't become a sovereign state until 1993.

A short distance from our hotel was the main square, surrounded by old restored buildings including the "Old Town Hall" , Maximilian fountain, many small tented shops and an ice cream kiosk.

Near the square we encountered this one man band. He produced an amazing variety of beautiful music.

Bratislava is filled with statues of unusual sorts. "Rubberneck" has already lost his head twice due to careless drivers,but now he has a "man working"sign to help protect him.

But of course that leaves room for imitation by a local mime.

Walking on to this cool, lovely, traffic free promenade we encountered a special treat -

lots of hugs!

But then too, we found a favorite statue of mine.


Our first full day in Bratislava again was beautiful with blue skies, sunshine and warm temperatures. With Barbara from Connecticut, who will be on the biking trip, we decided to walk up the hill to the castle. Unfortunately, not knowing that I couldn't open and edit Raw files on my mini computer I have only the ones from my small camera to use here. Live & learn, I hope.

The climb was steep but not long and we passed part of the old wall and tower.

The view of the city became more beautiful as we climbed.

The castle goes back to Celtic and Roman times, as the hill had a strategic position at the crossroads of important commercial routes and a ford across the river Danube. The first written mention comes from 907, but after 1437 during the era of King Sigismund of Luxenbourg it began to take on its present day appearance. There has been a large scale restoration in progress since the 1950's which still goes on today.

From the castle grounds you can see the fast flowing Danube River below.

We then decided to cross the new and modern bridge with the tall tower at the other side containing the so called "UFO" restaurant atop. To build the bridge and its access ramps the Russians completely demolished the old Jewish section with its winding streets - which was no doubt emptied by the Germans in WWII.

The bridge itself has walking and biking lanes built beneath the traffic lanes, and the view from the restaurant at the top of the tower was spectacular. (There were well over 400 steps - we took the elevator!)

In the evening we attended the opera, Lucrezia Borgia at the city theater near our hotel in the "Old Town".

The inside of the theater was beautiful and obviously recently remodeled, as has been much of the old

The opera, though enjoyable, did not compare with New York, or other cities in the States or world. The voices were good but the stage settings and costumes, including what we called "the swinging garden" which threatened to dump or knock down the singers, left much to be desired.


Having been off line for 3 days due to traveling and no internet service in the castle where we were staying I will now try to catch up, since I am back online here in Hungary.

Our last full day in the Czeck Republic we had intermittent sunshine and drizzle. We played it safe by taking a tour of the old city on the "mini train" - most of which we had already walked.

One of the highlights was St Martin's Cathedral, a 15th century Gothic church where 11 Hungarian kings and 8 concerts were crowned between 1563 & 1830. Today it serves as a concert hall.

The part we hadn't seen was the toilet in the rear (on the left of the tower) where waste was dropped directly into the moat. (That was really a "Long Drop" as my Africa traveling friends would understand).

We then climbed the tower of St Michael's Gate to see the arms museum,and the view of the city from the top.

We could easily see the UFO restaurant on the new bridge where we had lunch the day before.

We then walked over to the St Elizabeth Church, also known as the Blue Church, for obvious reasons.

The church dates to the beginning of the 20th century and is a unique example of Art Nouveau.

We were fortunate to arrive just as a christening was completed and were able to get inside for a moment. It was quite lovely.


We wakened on our last day in Bratislava to drizzling rain- a foreboding of things to come. Our whole group of 19 had arrived & we met our guides, Jan from Hungary and Colleen, American but now from Ireland and 2 trainees, Susie & Csaba, both from Hungary. Since this was the maiden tour of "the Best of the Danube" we had all brand new equipment: bikes, helmets, bike bags etc. Quite a treat! We rode our bikes across the Danube on the bike path beneath the bridge and got on the bike path. The riding was great despite the drizzle, but I didn't stop for photos, but thought it best the first day to just keep up.

The one exception was this beautiful country estate which I couldn't pass without a quick snapshot.

For lunch we stopped at a new and large facility on the other side of the river having crossed 2 bridges over the dam. The food was served buffet style and was delicious. However the special treat for me was what was outside. I followed some kayak carrying young men to a white water course.

And grabbed a few shots of the action.

We continued on to our home for the next 2 nights, the Hedervary Castle. Its emergence can be associated with the German, Heder moving to Hungary sometime in the 11th century. The original fortress was destroyed by the Turks in the 1529, and the castle finally completed in 1578. In the late 18th century it gave home to artists. It was fully renovated in 2002-2004.

Going into the castle, after the reception area you enter a center court with old tree in the middle.

The first set of marble stairs were covered with this beautiful carpet. Unfortunately, we had a second flight to climb to our room.

But when we got there, we entered our room it was 3 times the size of a normal one.

In one corner of the bedroom was a beautiful, old, white ceramic heater, not working of course.

Dinner that evening was in the castle in this royal dining room, served in a kingly fashion.