Monday, February 20, 2017

Orlando in one day

Disney Springs
Recently I was on a business trip to Orlando, Florida. I was there only for couple of days but had luckily the whole Saturday to see the area. What can I say about Orlando? If you are not a big Disney fan then there's really no reason why you should go there. The whole area is full of different Disney-related parks.

You can probably guess that I don't fall into Disney fan category. But since I was already there I tried to find other things to do. I did go to Disney Springs one evening. It is an area with bars, restaurants, shops, cinemas and other entertainment. Below are some photos.

The only alligator I saw during my trip (unfortunately a fake one)

What did I do on Saturday? I decided to go to Orlando Art Museum and to Harry P. Leu Gardens. They are located quite close to each other (about 30 minutes walking). Also, around the art museum there is a nice walking trail that guides you to the Botanical Gardens but I didn't have enough time to go there.

Art Museum
It took me a little bit more than an hour to go through the museum. They have quite good collection of 17th to 19th century American art, plus temporary exhibitions. If you are in the area then I definitely recommend to go but I wouldn't go to Orlando especially for the art museum.

Very close to the art museum is a smaller museum - The Mennello Museum of American Art. It is really small. It takes less than 30 minutes to see it all but they have nice small garden around the building where you can relax.

The Mennello Museum

The Mennello Museum
Harry P Leu was a lot into traveling and collecting plants, especially camellias. The garden mainly has a huge collection of different camellias but also other exotic plants. For kids there are life-size dinosaur sculptures here and there in the garden with some informative boards next to them. You can also visit the house with a guided tour. The house is kept in 1930-s style and the guide does really good job in explaining what you see and also the history of the estate. In total I spent there about 2.5 hours. In the heat of the day the trees offer nice shade and there are plenty of benches where you can just sit and relax. I wouldn't say that this was the most spectacular garden I've visited but it was still nice and relaxing way to spend time.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Swiss Cantons Challenge. Zug

Lake Zug

A week ago we decided to add one more canton to my "Visited cantons" list. We decided to go to Zug because there was a carnival (Fasnacht) in a small town called Baar. Baar is located right next to the capital of the canton which is also called Zug. The first half of the day we spent in Zug and then walked to Baar to see the carnival.

It was a perfect sunny day. The sun was so bright that it was impossible to see the other side of the lake and the mountains that are supposed to be there. The water in the lake is so clear that it amazed me.

In the modern part of Zug there's not much to see and it didn't impress me much. The older part is very nice.

Zug tower
We visited Zug Kunsthaus (art museum) which displays the works of local artists and Zug castle. there is a museum in the castle that features the history of the castle itself and the history of the city. There are some touch screens with English text but lot of information is unfortunately available only in German. Still, it was a nice visit. You can see everything within an hour.

Zug castle

Zug castle

Old pharmacy in Zug castle

Zug castle

Zug old town

Zug old town
There are some more museums in Zug so you can easily find activities for the whole day. I liked the lakeside the most though.

Lake Zug and some kids having a picnic

Carnival in Baar

Baar is about 5 km from Zug and we just followed the hiking route to walk there. Of course you can also use public transport. Not every canton in Switzerland celebrates carnival. For example, in Zürich it's not celebrated. 

Carnivals take place in many towns but not at the same time. The whole season lasts about a month. There are "carnival societies" in all those towns (several per town) who prepare for the next carnival the whole year. They all wear the same costume and since it would be a pity to just wear it for one carnival, they travel around in Switzerland from one carnival to the other. In Baar there were several groups even from Germany. 

There are live music performances, hot wine and punch, raclette, sausages and other street food. The highlight is the parade where all those carnival societies can show off their year-long efforts. There are lot of people coming to see it and the paraders really enjoy it as much as they can. This also includes bullying the audience a little bit. For example hitting them with brooms or other devices. I got hit several times and one witch also put some confetti into my boots. 

And now some photos:

Tough Swiss men who are not afraid of cold

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Swiss Cantons Challenge 2017

I have decided to visit all Swiss cantons that I haven't visited yet in 2017.

List of cantons that I have already visited (in alphabetic order):

  • Aargau
  • Basel-Stadt
  • Bern
  • Geneva
  • Graubünden
  • Luzern
  • Schaffhausen
  • Schwyz
  • St Gallen
  • Ticino
  • Vaud
  • Zürich

List of cantons that will be part of this challenge (in alphabetic order):

  • Appenzell Ausserrhoden
  • Appenzell Innerrhoden
  • Basel-Landschaft
  • Fribourg
  • Glarus
  • Jura
  • Neuchatel
  • Nidwalden
  • Obwalden
  • Solothurn
  • Thurgau
  • Uri
  • Valais
  • Zug

All the post related to this challenge I will tag with cantons2017 tag.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Madeira. Ponta de Sao Lourenco

The very last hike we did on our last day in Madeira was to Ponta de Sao Lourenco. It is a nature reserve at the Eastern part of Madeira. The hike isn't in general very difficult, but there are couple of sections where you need to really watch where you step. It was also very windy so I really appreciated that I had gloves and hat with me. In total it took us about 2.5 hours to go both ways.

The description of the hike is available here:

And now let the photos do the talking.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Madeira. Levada da Ribeira da Janela

In the afternoon of the same day when we did Ponta do Pargo hike we decided to also go and see Levada da Ribeira da Janela. We arrived there quite late - around 3 pm. As we didn't want to finish the hike in the dark we only went through the first tunnel and then turned back. The tunnels on this hike are long and narrow and wet. So you need good footwear and flashlight. The levada itself is very nice and full of fish. It took us in total 2.5 hours to go until the waterfall and back.

You can enjoy beautiful views and the levada itself is also very nice and wide.

Description of the full hike is available here:

Laurel forest

Lushness of ferns

Waterfall between two tunnels

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Madeira. Ponta do Pargo round hike

This hike actually doesn't have a marked route. It is a combination of several hiking trails and we followed very keenly the instructions given in the book "50 Madeira Walks". It starts and ends in Ponta do Pargo. During the hike you can see several villages, walk in the laurel forests and along the levada. There are some sections where you have to walk along the car road. But otherwise it's a nice hike through various landscapes. All together it took us 3.5 hours.

There are several view points around Ponta do Pargo. So even if you don't do the hike it's worth seeing those view points.

Beginning of the hike

Very narrow levada

Laurel trees

Typical old village houses

Lombada Velha