Barcelona and Sagrada Familia

Our Barcelona adventure continues my previous post with a visit to the Waterfront, Gothic Cathedral, Plaza de Catalunya and Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada-Familia_

Sagrada Familia

We almost missed seeing the inside of this extraordinary Basilica because we did not buy tour tickets in advance. It is the most visited monument in Spain. Luckily we were able to get one of the last tours of the day. More about the Sagrada Familia in a moment but first let me tell you how our day of seeing the sights started.

in the morning we took a short taxi trip to the Barcelona waterfront. It reminded me a little bit of Santa Monica beach, except I was surprised to see men and women sun bathing in the nude. There were families with children around but no one seemed to mind.

waterfront-Barcelona

The W Hotel punctuates the background of the Barcelona waterfront.

Steven and I didn’t bring our bating suits but I did wade in the water a little. It was a lovely beach day but we didn’t stay too long because we had a lot we wanted to see.

Next on our list was a stop at the Gothic, Barcelona Cathedral. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries. The details adorning the Cathedral were dramatic.

Gothic-Barcelona-Cathedral

 

We came upon at a cute little place for lunch while we waited for our tour to the Sagrada Familia. We learned a little too late in our stay that we were hugely over tipping. Tipping is not expected in Barcelona and if you do, it’s usually only about 5 to 8 percent.

Finally the Sagrada Familia, words cannot describe this wonderful work of art.

Our tour started by the entrance of the Passion Facade. It depicts the end of Jesus’s life, with the crucification and resurrection. Architect, Antoni Gaudi meant the rows of columns at the top to looks like ribs. The slanted columns remind the viewer of Jesus’s stretched muscles.

Sagrada-Familia-Passion-Facade

 

There is so much symbolism and geometric perfection contained in every angle, window, and artistic biblical representation of this masterpiece. Gaudi also uses the forms found in nature. This interior photo reminds me of trees in a forest, reaching for the sky.

Sagrada-Familia-interior

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” – A. Gaudi

 

The blue stained glass windows on the east side of the Basilica face the sun rise.

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The west side, where the sun sets, the windows have warmer hues that turn the walls and interior structures a dazzling yellow-orange when the sun hits it.

Sagrada-Familia-west-side

Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic. – A. Gaudi

Our tour ended outside the Nativity Facade. The Nativity Facade prominently features the birth of Jesus. It is also filled with other biblical representations and characters. This work of art depicts many keys to understanding the Christian religion. There is also a third important facade, the Glory Facade.

 

nativity-facade-sagrada-familia

Several architects contributed to the building of the Sagrada Familia, the most notable being Antoni Gaudi who constructed it combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. It is distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This Church of the Holy Family has been under construction since 1882. It remains unfinished and still under construction.

Our final day in Barcelona, I took a walk alone up to the other end of Las Ramblas after having a sumptuous breakfast at the Le Meridian where we were staying.

Barcelona-Las-Ramblas

The heart of Barcelona beats in Las Ramblas, a wide boulevard that leads from Plaza de Catalunya in the center of the city all the way down to the sea.

 

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A rich tapestry of human interaction characterizes Placa de Catalunya (Square of Catalonia).

 

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As I stopped to take a photo at the beautiful fountain in the plaza, an intriguing building in the background caught my eye. I went in for a closer look.

 

building-off-Las-Rambles

My eye for interesting architecture lead me to some good shopping near the building on Las Ramblas. I wish I could have lingered longer but it was time to continue our travels on board the Royal Princess. Our first port would be Cartagena, Spain. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Happy adventures, Linda

More about Barcelona here: Barcelona and Park Guell

 

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” – Exodus 31:3-5

 

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Barcelona and Park Guell

The beautiful Le Meridian hotel on Las Ramblas was the perfect location to take in the sights and sounds of Barcelona. Our first night in Barcelona, we decided to walk from the hotel and explore on our own. In the small center, right outside our hotel, an acrobatic street show was going on and a cheering crowd had gathered. Their energy put us in a festive mood.

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The buildings along the way were beautifully adorned with interesting architectural details.

Barcelona-bridge-between-two-buildings

 

Las Ramblas was packed in the early evening. The street was teeming with the overflow of people.

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PLACA REIAL

After walking about 15 minutes and turning down aside street, we came upon the coolest place, Placa Reial. It was an expansive plaza with a dozen or more restaurants circling the inside perimeter. There we saw more talented acrobats performing. The street artists entertained the crowds as they dined. I was amazed at the dare-devil tricks they did on hard cement. 

Barcelona-street-acrobats

 

Watch this clip of the street performers as one of them does a flip over four people selected from the crowd.

 

A lovely, large fountain accented the center of the Plaza Reial square. my husband, Steven enjoyed people watching from his position at the fountain.

Steve-fountain-Placa-Reial

Steve also loved perusing the restaurant menu’s that were prominently displayed outside of each restaurant.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the stunning sunset in the Placa Reial.

Barcelona-Placa-Reial-sunset-copyright-Linda-Eichberg

 

PARK GÜELL

Our second day in Barcelona, we met some family members who joined us on vacation. Our first stop was Gaudi’s Park Güell.

Park-Guell-entrance

 

Park Güell features lovely gardens and architectural wonders by Antoni Gaudi. 

Park-Guell-gardens

 

The buildings reminded me of gingerbread houses. I love Gaudi’s creative liberty and imaginative, ornamental creations.

 

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Gaudi put into practice a series of new structural solutions rooted in geometry. His works acquire a structural richness of forms, free of the rational rigidity or any sort of classic premises. In the design of Park Güell, Gaudí unleashed all his architectonic genius and that would become the symbol of his organic style.

Gaudi-bridge-Park-Guell

 

My nephew, David peeks his head out of the window.

David-Gaudi

 

Charming, like a fairyland! Gaudi’s fantastic mosaic work was incredible. My photos couldn’t capture the amazing detail.

Gaudi-Park-Guell

 

We bought our “skip the line” tour tickets to the park weeks ahead of time on Viator. I recommend doing that during high tourist seasons.

Part two of our adventure continues here: Barcelona and Sagrada Familia

Gratefully yours, Linda

 

The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. – Psalm 32:8

 

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Hiking China Flat

It was early evening on a hot day in May when I headed out with my two friends and two dogs to see the last of the wildflowers on the China Flat trail.

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The hills were still green from the winter rains. The peach and pink mountains created a lovely backdrop for the green and silver scrub.

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The hike started out with a gentile rise that gradually grew steeper. We would be going up to an elevation of 1,081 feet.

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As we rounded the bend, the mountains gave us some much-needed shade. Mornings or early evenings are good times to hike this trail because it can get very hot.

china-flat-mountain-shade

We were starting to break a sweat from the climb; the shade felt good. My two Maltese were also very happy to cool down.

Maltese-on-the-trail

I wasn’t long before we were greeted by an oasis of yellow wildflowers, natures rock garden!

yellow-wild-flowers

As we traversed higher we began to get a good workout. Hiking is a great way to keep your heart healthy. My friends and I were beginning to see some amazing views of Oak Park.

oak-park

It was about here where one of my dogs put the brakes on and stopped to rest. After a few minutes, I picked him up and continued on.

Linda-China-Flat-hike

We came across some yellow-orange Monkey flowers. I paused to admire their natural beauty.

monkey-flower

Hiking in nature always refreshes my mind. The panorama was stunning up this high, looking over towards Agoura Hills!

Oak-Park-Vista

On the way down this lollipop shaped trail, we saw more wildflowers, like this pretty Wild Lilac.

wild-lilac

The hike up China Flat is 4.1 miles out and back. This trail in Oak Park, California, is a good one for beginners, if you go at a leisurely pace, and it offers lots of natural beauty to entertain your eyes along the way.

wildflowers-Oak-Park

Happy trails, Linda

 

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth the heights of the mountains are his also. – Psalm 95: 3-4

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LotusLand Adventure

Gana Walska Lotusland is a whimsical and uniquely designed collection of many different styles of botanicals and landscapes formed over decades by creator Gana Walska.

Lindsay arch_Lotus Land

Entrance to Lotusland

The spectacular assortment of exotic plants throughout the 37-acre property are a very personal expression of Walska’s penchant for the dramatic and the unexpected.

My daughter Lindsay treated me to this magical day in Montecito!

Japanese Gardens

statues_Lotus-Land

Fern Garden – Check out that giant stage horn fern, this one probably measured over 8 feet across!

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Vibrant Flowers

orange flower_Lotus Land

A giant clam shell fountain that led to a quirky faux beach and pond.

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Water Garden – Our guide told us the best time to view the lotus and water lilies in bloom is June and July.

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Expansive Cactus Gardens

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Giant Cactus two stories high

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Desert Scape – over 300 different species of cacti!

cactus collection_Lotus Land

Interesting mosaics, pebble patterns, glass borders and even a semi-precious stone garden.

pebble-pattern

I loved the blue glass stone paths.

blue glass stone path_lotus land

There were succulent gardens and blue gardens and great stretches of laws with topiaries.

succulents_blue garden

With the distinction of being one of the “Top 10 Gardens in the World”,  lotusland includes exotic trees and plants from different parts of the globe.

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Local wildflower and butterfly gardens were featured.

California natives Lotus Land_

Look at this fantastic lemon arbor. I’ve never seen anything like it!

lemon arbor_Lotus Land

One of my favorites was the tropical garden.

Lotus-Land-hanging-tropicals

lotus land tropical flower_

For a moment, I felt like I was in another world.

tropical jungle lotus land

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Cycad Garden – Lotusland botanical gardens holds rare and endangered species of cycads, including some that are extinct in the wild.

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Koi pond in the cycad garden

Koi pond_lotus land

I learned a lot about cycads from our knowledgeable guide.

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Male and female sago

After two plus hours of absorbing such beauty we ended our tour back where we started, at the Japanese gardens.

Japanese-garden-Lindsay

Lindsay in the Japanese gardens

So grateful to be the beneficiary of Gana Walska’s eccentric love of gardens and all things beautiful.

Dancing in the Theatre Garden

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Santa Barbara is only a few minutes from these botanical gardens in Monticeto, CA. After our tour, we had a fabulous lunch at Carlitos in SB.

I loved LotusLand! Reservations usually need to be made months in advance.

http://www.lotusland.org

Be blessed, Linda

 

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11

 

© I own all photos contained within this blog. They may not be used for any purpose without expressed written permission.

 

European Adventure Part 4 – Hungary

BUDAPEST

Budapest at last, the final stop on our Danube river cruise. I was very excited to see the homeland of my maternal grandparents and walk the streets where my Magyar ancestors walked. My great grandfather was a judge in Budapest and I was eager to experience it’s history and culture.

Budapest-Parliament-on-Danube-by-Linda-Eichberg_1

One of the most striking sights on our cruise in to Budapest was the incredible Parliament building shooting up from the bank of the Danube! The Gothic style exterior, coupled with the Renaissance Revival style of it’s dome, gave promise of the wonderful visions to come.

Our first land tour was a bus ride trough the city, a very interesting overview where we saw memorials, statues, parks, the Turkish baths, famous buildings and more. It wet my appetite to see more. I was so glad we extended our stay in Hungary. We did some shopping near our docking spot and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

After dressing for dinner, I took in the perspective from our balcony. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics was sparkling on the water. It’s the oldest institute of technology in the world.

Budapest University of Technology and Economics

 

Our first night, we were treated to an amazing night cruise on the Danube. Budapest is stunning at night.

Liberty Bridge

 

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the crew of the Avalon Expression and checked in to the very chic InterContinental hotel. Within walking distance of our hotel there was a lot to do and see. As I came around a corner to the sight of Saint Steven’s Basilica, I was awed by its monumental presence in the distance.

saint-stephens-basilica

 

This Neo-classical wonder drew me in like a magnet to take a closer look.

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My travel companions had no desire to see the inside of another church so I ventured inside alone. It was stunning!

saint-stephens-interior-budapest

 

Budapest Jewish District

I enjoyed the walking tours best, especially the Budapest Jewish quarter tour. I recommend it for anybody who wants to get an insight to Jewish Budapest. During the tour, you will also discover the cool party district of Budapest and the “Ruins Bars”.

While we walk my companions and I learned about Jewish memorials, fascinating old buildings and experience the unique, special atmosphere of this multicultural district of Budapest. Especially interesting was hearing the history of the Budapest ghetto and the Hungarian holocaust from an expert in Jewish history.

I thought The Great Synagogue or Dohány Street Synagogue was spectacular. My photo only shows a small portion of the exterior so you can see the architectural detail, topped with copper onion domes. The Great Synagogue, in Moorish revival style, is one of the largest Synagogues in the world!

the-great-synagogue-budapest

 

The interior of the Synagogue was also very grand and impressive. It can hold nearly 3,000 people with it’s two levels of seating.

the-great-synogogue-interior

 

The Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Center

Next to the Great Synagogue is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Here we saw Jewish religious objects and historical items like the uniforms worn by the Jews in concentration camps. It’s heartbreaking, almost 600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis and Arrow Cross Party.

From there we made our way to the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, named after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. The park honored Jewish and non-Jewish alike, righteous heroes who sacrificed their lives or put their lives at risk to save victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The memorial also reminded us of all of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish martyrs and labour-camp inmates who died unknown. It was clear that Hungarians were ashamed of their past alliance with Nazi Germany. The persecution, suffering and murdering claimed over half million Hungarian citizens. 

tree-of-life-holocaust-memorial

One of the stand-out’s in the park is a large metal sculpture, the “Tree of Life.” Also called the Weeping Willow Tree Memorial. Engraved on each individual leaf is the name of one of 5,000 victims or families. At the front of the Tree is a black double archway memorial with the words – “Is there a bigger pain than mine?”

Experiencing the Synagogue, museum and memorial park was a deeply moving experience. If it wasn’t for the uplifting stories about the many Holocaust heroes, our professional guide disclosed to us, it would have been very depressing.

Kazinczy Street

The neo-renaissance Orthodox Synagogue was another landmark we saw. It stood imposing on Kazinczy Street along with the old buildings. We ended our tour experiencing a ruin pub or ‘ruin bar’. That was fun and memorable.

ruin-bar-budapest

Szimpla Kert, Ruin Bar

The rickety furnishing, multi colored interiors, and hipster crowd make these ramshackle properties popular.

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The legendary Szimpla Kert is the best-known ruin pub in Budapest. It holds a mix of eclectic styles and an a vibe of urban life. The dilapidated edifice also boasts a distinct charm.

Nightlife in Budapest

The ruin pub phenomenon is a big part of Budapest’s unique nightlife. Fine dining and music is also plentiful. What I enjoyed that night was right at our hotel. We had a fantastic location on the Danube.

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Debbie, Alison and I, enjoying the night life

The InterContinental had a stylish bar and restaurant with a spectacular views of the Buda Palace and Chain Bridge.

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Peter, Steven and Joey at one of the InterContinental restaurants.

 

In the background, Castle Hill and Saint Matthias looked magical in the shadows of dusk.

 

The glow of the Buda Castle at night

 

The half day tour of the Buda Castle complex offered wonderful vistas and photo opportunities. The famous Chain Bridge spans the Danube below.

 

Castle Hill is a great place to pick up souvenirs. I bought a lovely table cloth for my mother that was embellished with colorful embroidery. The Hungarians do excellent needlework and embroidery is a popular textile art in their communities. My Hungarian grandmother use to make beautiful clothes for me and my sisters.

 

Take a closer look at the gothic details in the architecture of Saint Matthias!

 

Inside Parliament

The day before we left we took a fantastic tour of the interior of the Parliament building. The guide was filled with fascinating historical information. I enjoyed the stories about how the Hungarian crown jewels were lost or stolen a number of times. For a while they were held in the U.S. at Fort Knox.

The National Assembly of Hungary was not in session so we had the unique opportunity to see their legislative chambers.

Assembly hall of the House of Magnates

 

The council chambers were gilded with gold so was the Main Hall and it was magnificent!

Steve and I standing at the Main Staircase of the Parliament building.

 

Across from Parliament is the Budapest Museum of Ethnography. It was a beauty with astounding artistic and architectural appointments!

 

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade.

Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial

It was a stark and sickening reminder of the cruelty of the Arrow Cross terror where 3,500 people, 800 of them Jews, who were shot into the Danube River during the dark winter of 1944 -1945 at the end of World War II. That winter the Danube was known as the Jewish cemetery. ¹

“…what I saw was worse than anything I had ever seen before, worse than the most frightening accounts I had ever witnessed. Two Arrow Cross men were standing on the embankment of the river, aiming at and shooting a group of men, women and children into the Danube – one after the other, on their coats the Yellow Star. I looked at the Danube. It was neither blue nor gray but red. With a throbbing heart, I ran back to the room in the middle of the apartment and sat on the floor, gasping for air.” ²

This trip unveiled so much of man’s inhumanity to man during World War II but also the courage of the many brave hero’s who overcame the evil. There was an abundance rich history, local color, art and beauty. I highly recommend this European river cruise down the Danube from Prague to Hungary. Avalon Waterways was marvelous!

See also:

European Adventure Part 1 – Czech Republic  

European Adventure Part 2 – Germany and Cesky Krumlov

European Adventure Part 3 – Austria

 

Many blessings, Linda

 

“I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.” – Psalm 13: 5-6

 

References:

1. T. Zane Reeves, Ph.D., Shoes Along the Danube: Based on a True Story (Durham: Strategic Book Group, 2011)
2. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, “From Country to Country: My Search for Home” in Alvin Rosenfeld, ed., The Writer Uprooted: Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008)

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European Adventure Part 3 – Austria

I have been feeling the travel bug lately. Europe is calling and inspiring me to finish blogging about my last trip to Europe, a wonderful riverboat cruise down the Danube. In part one of our European adventure we explored Prague and the Czech Republic. Part two of our cruise took us to Germany and beyond.

AUSTRIA

Our first stop in Austria was Linz, home of the delicious Linzer Torte.

linz-downtown

The town was very charming with beautiful restored buildings and electric trolleys.

 

linz_hauptplatz

Hauptplatz, Linz, In the back ground is the famous Dreifaltigkeitssaule statue of 1723. It commemorates Linz’s delivery from war, fire and plague.

 

We only had time for a quick visit to downtown for our half day visit. Before we knew it we were on our way to Melk.

melk-abbey

Melk Abbey is one of Europe’s archetectural treasures. The inside of the Abbey contained many Christian artifacts and it was even more stunning than the palatial Baroque exterior.

 

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Melk Abbey Church

 

The grounds and gardens of the Abbey were lovely, lush with plants and flowers. What started out as a cloudy morning, turned into a perfect July day.

melk-abbey-gardens

 

It was on to the Wachau Valley and then Vienna. We were just past the halfway point of the river cruise portion of our vacation.

cruise_map

 

Several small castles and ruins of castles graced the shores of Wachau.

wachau-valley

 

We arrived in Vienna and docked in front of the striking sight of the Franz of Assisi Church, also called Kaiser Jubilee Church.

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Next we had a quick drive through the city where my eyes were bathed with the most beautiful sites and architecture.

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I was captivated by the Imperial Hofburg Palace Complex.

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The green and gold of copper dome was stunning!

 

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Albertina Museum fountain

 

The buildings were displays of art, adorned with statuaries and gold.

national-library-josefsplatz-vienna

National Library and Equestrian statue of Joseph II, Josefsplatz

 

Excited by what we saw, walked the rest of the way through the city. There were many outdoor cafes to choose from. We rested our feet for a while and enjoyed lunch and people watching outside on a lovely day.

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Steven standing in front of The Holy Trinity Column

The Pestsäule (English: Plague Column) or Dreifaltigkeitssäule (English: Trinity Column) is  located in the inner city of Vienna. Erected after the Great Plague epidemic in 1679, the Baroque memorial is one of the most well-known and prominent sculptural pieces of art in the city.

My husband Steven and I both agreed, Vienna was a cultural and architectural delight!

saint-stephens-cathedral-vienna

The tall Romanesque and Gothic form of the Saint Stephen’s Cathedral punctuated the city landscape. I was enchanted by the colorful tile roof. We were hoping to see works of the great Viennese artists, like Gustav Klimt, at Belvedere Museum but the day was so full as it was and we had to get ready for our night at the opera.

 

dinner_group

The evening festivities were highlighted by a tasty dinner and night of music, opera and dance at one of Vienna’s concert halls, Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna’s City Centre. “Salute to Vienna” was a heavenly experience of Waltzes and the music of famous Austria classical composers, brought to life by a talented orchestra and cast.

Vienna is art; you see it around every corner. Many of the greatest artists and composers spent their professional careers in Vienna. I would have liked to have spent a few more days in Vienna but I was also looking forward to the wonders of Hungary. Hope to share that experience with you soon.

Gratefully yours, Linda

 

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.'” – Numbers 6: 24-26

 

See also:

European Adventure Part 1 – Czech Republic 

European Adventure Part 2 – Germany and Cesky Krumlov

European Adventure Part 4 – Hungary

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It’s All In How You View It

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” – Epictetus

Consider what your life might be like if you changed your perspective. Getting a different point of view can make life tolerable, even interesting, like the colorful shades of a sunset.

crystal-cove-newport-beach-sunset

My friends and I visited Newport Beach beach last week. While we were watching and photographing the sunset, a young lady rushed up to the beach with her camera just after the sun disappeared into the ocean. “Oh, darn I missed it,” she moaned, as she walked away disappointed.

The woman’s point of view was that the sunset was all about seeing the orb of the sun disappear behind the horizon. My friends and I knew to wait and see what magic awaits after sundown.  

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

More often than not, I have found the best part of sundown is the afterglow. The hues become deeper and more vibrant as the hidden sun reflects upward. I was not disappointed on Crystal Cove Beach that evening – same sunset but different views, same beach but a distinctive new horizon.

crystal-cove-newport-beach-afterglow

Crystal Cove Dining and Watersport’s

Crystal Cove in Newport has magnificent sunsets and a wonderful restaurant on the beach called Beachcomber Cafe. A little further down the road, I tried two good restaurants at the Crystal Cove Shopping Center. Javier’s, an upscale Mexican restaurant, has fabulous food and gorgeous decor but forget about going on the weekend. It’s very popular. Babette’s specializes in local organic produce and meats. They offer an eclectic array of dishes including delicious vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Their cocktail menu features a variety of unique handcrafted cocktails.

My travel companions and I worked off part of our delicious dinner by enjoying kayaking in the Newport channels the next day. Southwind Kayak Center is a great place to rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and more. It’s in a superb location off Newport Harbor.

Making Memories and Getting Another Perspective In Relationships

I love seeing familiar things through new eyes but also making brand new memories with people. I can build successful relationships and become a better travel companion by blending my point of view with an other person’s. We never really know someone until we consider things from both their perspective and our own.

I like to look at all the angles of a person or situation. I’m learning not to make assumptions about people. It’s a challenge to view things based on the mind set of who I’m with while still being true to aspects of myself.

“Each person is like a multifaceted  gem that is to be viewed and appreciated from many different angles.” – Linda Eichberg

Getting a New Perspective On the World Around You

Take a trip – Travel, especially international travel, is a good way to broaden your world view and change the way you look at things. It has always taught me something.

Volunteer – Volunteering to help others in need is also a great way to break out of your mold, widen your perspective and grow compassion. When I give hope to others, it gives me a reason to hope.

Practice Gratitude – Reflecting on God’s perspective and character will adjust your attitude. I see life differently when I am gratefully counting my blessings.

newport-beach-sunset-at-crystal-cove

Look for the daily miracles God pours into your life and your perspective will change. When your perspective changes, your life changes. ~ Linda Eichberg

What will you see? Keep your eyes full of the light of God’s goodness.

Blessings ~ Linda

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“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” – Luke 11: 34-36 (NLT)

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Capturing the Aloha Spirit

Aloha is indeed a way of life, an attitude. The kahuna David Bray interprets this code of as “Come forward, be in unity and harmony with your real self, God, and mankind.” Be honest, truthful, patient, kind and humble to all life forms.

Kaanapali-Molikai-L-Eichberg

North Kaanapali Beach

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. It is also used for hello, good bye or love. But aloha stands for much more than that; its deeper meaning is “the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo).”

To Hawaiians, the joyful sharing of this life energy is the secret for attaining true health, happiness, prosperity and success as long as it is shared and used with love.

I endeavored to captured the essence of Hawaii aloha in photography. My experience in Maui last month was one of tranquility, beauty and friendliness with an awe of creation.

Maui-Kaanapali-North

 

Sunsets – God’s Artistry!

Maui Sunset by Linda Eichberg

 

I have visited Maui many times but there are always new surprises and new life. I had never seen a hibiscus with this unusual combination of colors.

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Hibiscus with extraordinary coloring!

 

We stayed in sunny Kaanapali but only a short 15 minute drive away to Kapalua, toward the rain belt, the landscape changes significantly.

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Kapalua

 

Hawaiian Blessing

The spirit of aloha is about giving blessings. 

Bless everyone and everything that represents what you want by giving recognition or emphasis to a positive quality, characteristic or condition, with the intent that what is recognized or emphasized will increase, endure or come into being.

 

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Gathering of the sailboats to honor the sunset

 

Focusing on the blessing, acts to increase the same good in your life.

The positive occupation of your mind stirs up the positive, creative force and allows that same energy to come through you.

 

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Nothing can compare to the fragrance of Plumeria.

 

When you bless for the benefit of others instead of directly for yourself, you tend to bypass any subconscious fears about what you want for yourself.

What is so wonderful about this process is that the blessing you do for others helps them as well as you.

 

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As you bless, imagine the person or thing you’re blessing is surrounded with some of the same peace, grace and positive energy that surrounds you.

To the Hawaiians of old, Aloha meant “God in us.”

 

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I cherished my morning meditations and beach walks.

 

The Aloha Spirit is a well known reference to the attitude of friendly acceptance for which the Hawaiian Islands are so famous.

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Our traveling companions, Jack and Chris!

Experiencing the aloha spirit is best shared with friends. One of the highlights of our trip was our canoe excursion to a fantastic snorkeling spot where we swam with friendly sea turtles and tropical fish.

Chris and I enjoyed the freedom of not having to style our hair. We just let it air dry. She came up with the mantra, “beach hair and I don’t care.”

Maui friends

We ran into some other good friends, John and Madi, who just happened to be on the island the same time were, an unexpected treat!

Together we experienced the spirit of aloha, fantastic food, hospitality and breathtaking scenery.

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A magical moment-a double rainbow!

I hope you captured some of the aloha spirit too. Give a double portion of blessings and you will also be blessed.

With gratitude, Linda

~~~~~

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs – 11:25

 

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Wonders Wait Just Around the Corner – March Miracles

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Going With the Flow

As I stepped outside my Westlake Village home, planning to rush off to the gym. The hills caught my eye. They were rich with spring color and they seemed to be inviting me to come and play.

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March is usually the greenest month in Southern California and with the abundance of local trails available to explore, it would be a shame not to sample one or two. I decided to skip the gym and headed to the Westlake Vista Trail in the hope of seeing some seasonal wild flowers.

The trail starts at Triunfo Canyon, just off Lindero Canyon Road at the Pentachaeta Trail. You will stay to the right for Westlake Vista. Just around the bend of the trail head is a grove of natural Oak trees, a meadow and then a fork in the path. Both paths lead to the reservoir but I took the left trail which quickly rises to view rocky cliffs.

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I was drawn toward the rocks to get a better look. There was a small trail off to the left but when I saw how narrow and steep it was, I quickly return to the main trail and soon arrived at the reservoir.

It’s a fairly easy hike for a healthy person but there are some loose rocks that make the steep sections of the trail very slippery. It took about 25 – 30 minutes to get up there. I probably could have made it in faster time but I was accompanied by my two Maltese.

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To the right I could see what looked like a vast open flood plain. To the left was the crystal clear reservoir framed by rolling hills and mountains.

We met a couple of other hikers up there and one of them offered to take a photo of me and my cute furry boys.

It seemed that I was already at the top of the trail. It was lovely; but exploring further, I discovered another small trail to my left. I hadn’t seen it the first time I ventured to the reservoir. The path brought me up to a view of the water that exposed a grander aspect of it’s liquid expanse.

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Higher and higher we climbed to another stunning vantage point as the captivating sounds of water birds echoed in the distance.

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It was at this point that I felt like I was in another world, instead of the city of Westlake Village. It was as if I was at a destination vacation in the mountains but I only went around the corner to experience this magnificent view.

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At the top, viewing the wide stretch of the regal hills, my ambitions were abandoned. There was only that moment, the clean air and the warm sun. The plans from this morning now belonged to the past. The present is filled with God’s love for me and the gift of His glorious creation.

“The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.” – Song of Solomon 2:12 (NLT)

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The Westlake Reservoir is an oasis hidden high in the hills. Taking it all in was like water for my soul. It remains natural and untainted.  It’s not accessible by car and can only be enjoyed after climbing the mountain. But it’s here, so close to my home, waiting for it’s majesty and beauty to be discovered and enjoyed.

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The view on the way down was also out of this world. And there they were, the wildflowers I was hoping for, my reward.

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Their colors graced the gentle slopes calling me to dance and sing before their Maker. So beautiful, but only here for such a short time.

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“Where flowers bloom so does hope!”

– Lady Bird Johnson

Our Time On Earth

My message is simple. There is always gratitude and beauty in every season of life, even in the trials and tribulations. My husband Steven and I are focused on caring for his dad and his wife, who are quickly declining from dementia. It’s difficult to experience this with them.

When we come to these hard moments in life, we find hidden strength in ourselves. We nourish our souls and receive refreshment in friends and in nature. We will all have to give an account of our lives, what we have been, and done. To give our parents companionship and joy in their advance senior years, is an enormous thing to them right now. Every lucid moment they have is a small miracle for which we are very grateful.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:8 (NLT)

Everything is a miracle. Have a blessed day! ~ Linda

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European Adventure Part 2 – Germany and Cesky Krumlov

GERMANY

Our adventure in the Czech Republic moved on to Germany. We joined the rest of our river boat cruise group and boarded luxury buses to Nuremberg where we embarked the new MS Avalon Expression. It would be our home base for the next ten days as we traveled down the Danube.

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Nuremberg

In the morning, we saw the site of the Nuremberg Trials and visited the Nazi rally grounds where Hitler gave some of his most infamous speeches. My traveling companions and I then moved on to the Documentation Centre Museum where we saw news footage of Hitler delivering propaganda speeches from the rally grounds we had just visited.

Along with news clips of the misleading Nazi publicity campaign, there were heartbreaking photos of the concentration camps and the notorious Auschwitz. It was difficult to process the immense tragedy of what we saw. It was an overcast, rainy day which added to the gloom of revisiting the horrors the holocaust. The German guides were apologetic about their country’s past, and many Germans feel stigmatized by it. One of our German tour guides said she was glad she spoke Austrian so she could pass herself off as an Austrian. It’s paradoxical that the tactics used by the Gestapo to build up their people into a ‘super race’, in fact, became their shame.

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On the way back to the MS Expression we drove through the “old city” of Nuremberg. It is surrounded by fairly intact, thick city walls. Built like a fortress, a moat surrounds a good portion of it.

Regensburg

Overnight we had cruised to the German town of Regensburg. While the rest of the group relaxed on the ship, my sister-in-law, Alison and I took an early morning excursion boat trip through the Danube Gorge and the Weltenburg Abbey. The weather that day was perfect and the ride through the small gorge was picturesque and peaceful.

Danube-Gorge-Weltenburg-AbbeyOur short trip ended at the Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg nestled in the northern slopes of the Arzberg mountain. The oldest monastery in Bavaria, it was founded around 600 AD. by the monks of St. Columbanus, Weltenburg.

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The Abbey is known for brewing excellent world-class beer and it is said to be the oldest monastery brewery in the world, having been in operation since 1050.

As part of the tour, we were provided with a sample the Abbey’s beer and pretzels in the courtyard beer garden; it was dark and good. 

We were then led to the abbey church. I  was never given a beer and then sent to church before but that’s the way they do it in Germany.

The Weltenburg abbey church is a spectacular Baroque church dedicated to St. George. Gilded angels adorn the dome above the sanctuary.

 

Weltenburg-Abbey-Church

 

We returned to the boat in the afternoon and after lunch I ventured into Regensburg town.regensburg-ruins

Regensburg is absolutely beautiful and boasts of having approximately 1,300 listed building of historical interest. In 2nd century AD, this town was part of the Roman Empire. Some of the walls from those days remain partially intact within the city.

I loved walking the many interesting passageways and cobblestone alleys.

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The architecture, cafes, shops, and flowers, window boxes filled with flowers, were astonishing!

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The streets meandered in many different directions. It would have been easy to get lost.

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In the distance I could see the top of the Regensburg Cathedral. I headed in that direction to get a better look of the Gothic, Dom St.Peter built in the 1300’s. Fantastic!

Regensburg-Cathedral

 

Passau 

The following day we woke up in Passau, Germany. The City of Three Rivers was very quaint. I would have liked to have spent more time in the city but we had booked another tour for that morning. Most of the land tours were at an extra charge. There were three great tours to choose from that day. My husband and I, along with the two couples we were traveling with, chose to see the enchanting town of Cesky Krumlov. On the way there, we drove through Passau and stopped to see the view of the city in the early morning mist.

Passau in the morning mist

 

Cesky Krumlov

We passed smoothly through the German boarder without having to stop for a border check and made our way to the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic near the Austria border. This land tour to Cesky Krumlov was one of the best. When it was founded in the early-mid 13th Century, this mostly Renaissance town was primarily Gothic. In the second half of the 16th century the castle acquired the form of a splendid Renaissance residence. Throughout out the years the finest Italian architects and painters added their talents to create the beauty and charm of Cesky Krumlov, today.

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Overlooking the town, the tower of Krumlov Castle punctuates the background. I was enamored with the Little Castle tower and the bright pastel colors of it’s painted facade.

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Despite a short deluge, we dried off and had a wonderful afternoon in Cesky Krumlov. There were some nice boutiques, restaurants, chocolate and gingerbread shops.

A lovely river flowed through the town and we were surprised to see that quite a few people were swimming and river rafting.

While we were enjoying our tour, the boat cruised to Linz, Austria. Our tour bus would meet the boat there.

What an amazing few days. So grateful! But still to come, the wonders of Austria! I will share some of them with you on a future blog!

 

Be sure to check out – European Adventure Part 1 – Czech Republic  

European Adventure Part 3 – Austria

European Adventure Part 4 – Hungary

 

Enjoy the journey! ~ Linda Eichberg

 

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” – Psalm 47:7

 

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