Friday, 26 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday, Cat Nap!

I have snapped many nappers on the streets of Shanghai and beyond, 
 but none come close to being as cute as this little napper!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Palmengarten Frankfurt, Love a garden in a city centre!

Yesterday I finally had to opportunity to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen since the 
Summer holidays began, which feels oh so long ago!
We met in down town Frankfurt and as it was such a beautiful day, 
we decided to head over to the Palmengarten, a botanical garden, with 50 acres of 
nature in the city, to enjoy the weather while it lasts.

The Palmengarten was created in 1869 by horticulturist Heinrich Siesmayer for the citizens of Frankfurt and has many areas to unwind in.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The rose garden still had a few beautiful blooms before the chill of Autumn sets in.

Rose, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The dancing fountains in front of the stunning glasshouses. There are many different spaces to relax,
take a picnic and enjoy a bottle of wine. Places to sit and soak up the serenity or to wander and discover more than 13 000 different plant species.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

So many paths to wander, an oasis in the middle of the city.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

A large lake with row boats or peddle boats to rent, is lovely, the home of many ducks and swans.

Boats on the lake, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

There are hidden joys to discover, like walking behind the waterfall.

Behind the waterfall, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The beauty of the garden as it unfolds before you.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

A tranquil hideaway away from to hustle and bustle of the city outside.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Beautiful fragrances fill the air.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The Dahlia's at the end of the season still put on quite a show.

Dahlia garden, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

There are tropical plants, a rock garden, palm gardens and playgrounds for children.

Passion fruit Flower, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Something for everyone, concerts are held at the Music Pavilion, there is also a theatre.
I will be buying an annual pass as a few hours spent strolling these beautiful 
and well kept gardens was not enough time to discover all the garden had to offer
...and I quite like the idea of sitting on my picnic rug, listening 
to music, while sipping a local wine in such a delightful environment.
I can't wait to go back in a few weeks when the colours of autumn 
will be out in all their glory!

Music Pavillion, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Palmengarten Frankfurt can be found here.
Entrance Fees €7 for adults, €2 for children aged 6-13 
Annual passes are available, €70 for 2 Adults and 2 children 6-13, see full list here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday. Table for three.

Three waiters on a nap break.....
plus one customer letting his beer go flat in favour of a nap!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan.

Foods often conjure up a period of time in our lives, taking us back in time. 
There are foods that comfort us, make us feel better when we don't feel well or
when we crave familiarity. Some foods remind us of special people in our lives.
Some foods do all three and for me, one of those foods is the Chinese Tea Egg.

They take me back to the corner store in Shanghai, bubbling away on the counter. 
To Tea House visits with friends, elegantly served in a bowl to accompany our tea. 
Savoured as we enjoyed the ceremony of drinking Chinese tea, planned adventures, 
discussed family, life in Shanghai, travel and issues of the world.
Now, when we have days when we really miss our Shanghai life, which is often, 
I put on my pot and make up a batch of our Chinese treats. The aroma
fills the house and we are taken back, satisfied that we still have a link, 
memories of a wonderful part of our lives flood back.

A tasty snack or part of a regular Chinese feast, we love them!

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

12 Quail eggs (You can also use 6 chicken eggs instead)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons black tea or two tea bags
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups water

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes until hard boiled.

Rinse in cool water and drain.

Roll the eggs on the kitchen bench or tap with the back of a spoon to crack the shells. Don't remove the shells.

Place all the other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cooked, crackled eggs and simmer a further 10 minutes. Let cool in liquid.

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Take the shell off and pop in your mouth...enjoy!

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

You can leave the eggs in the liquid overnight and the taste will be slightly stronger. 
 You can also add some orange zest to the mix for some added tang. 
My girls like taking them to school for a snack and they are 
perfect to take on a picnic....if they last that long!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday. Working Class Man

They work hard for a living,
who can blame them for taking some time for a nap!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Mostar and the Stari Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is so close to Dubrovnik, we took the opportunity 
to do a day trip to visit Mostar and the Stari Most, the old bridge and soak up a bit of history.
The old city of Mostar, divided by the crystal clear Neretva River, has long been a place of unity, 
with different religious and ethnic communities living in harmony. 
With Christians mainly on the right side of the river and the Muslims on the left, 
the Stari Most bridge united the two communities.

The UNESCO listed bridge linked the people for over 400 years before it was destroyed in 1993
by heavy shelling during the Yugoslavian wars. 

In October 1998 UNESCO established a committee to start reconstructing the bridge, using
the same local materials and technology to make it as close as possible to the original. 
Stones from the original bridge were recovered from the 
river below and were used in the reconstruction.
The new bridge was opened in 2004.

Funds to restore Mostar and the Stari Most were provided by Italy,
The Netherlands, Turkey and Croatia. The bridge uniting people once more.

Mostar has been bought back to life, the mosques and crosses once again dot the 
landscape. The colourful and vibrant bazaar linking the two sides of the river once more.

Diving off the Stari Most has been a mid summer tradition for centuries,
a rite of passage for the young men of Mostar. The 478 years of tradition can now continue.
I remember the news footage of 1993 when the famous bridge was shot down
how heart wrenching it was to lose the link, the tradition.

The old bazaar that meanders through the town and over the bridge is full of old and new 
local treasures. You can really feel the Turkish influence when wandering through the streets.
I may have purchased a 60 year old coffee grinder.

Artisans still use techniques honed to perfection over time,
 creating beautiful, local souvenirs. 

Colourful stalls and restaurants selling local food line the 
cobbled streets.

We had a delicious lunch at a restaurant by the river with
great views of the mosques and the bridge.

We walked the streets and soaked up the colourful, lively atmosphere.

Some scars from the recent wars still remain, reminding us
of what has been accomplished by the people of Mostar in under twenty years. 
The people we met were bright and friendly and had put the past behind them. 
They should be proud of their city and the atmosphere they have rebuilt.

We had a remarkable day filled with history, beauty and resilient people.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is recovering, though the drive from Croatia shows that 
it will still take years for the country to be fully repaired. If you find yourself in the 
area it is well worth a visit and a day wasn't really long enough.
I am already planning a return trip where we will spend a few days exploring.

We drove from Dubrovnik to Mostar, which is a two and a half hour drive, though as Bosnia
is not yet a member of the EU, we had to pass through two border crossings on the way there and back. 
This added two hours each way to our day trip, so it's worth leaving early to get more time
in Mostar or to stop at interesting places along the way. Don't forget your passport!

The local currency is the Bosnian Mark, though in Mostar both the 
Croatian Kuna and the Euro are accepted.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday. Shopkeeper snoozes

Sometimes it is hard to make a purchase in Shanghai,
you have to wake the shopkeeper first!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

....helloooo, I would like a Shanghai Daily please...

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Ni much are these red gloves?....

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Can I please look at those ear rings...oh..never mind!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Europe on the road

We managed to clock up nearly 4000 kilometres on our summer holiday to Croatia.
We drove through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
Italy and Switzerland, saw the number plates of over twenty different nationalities.
We spent around 70 hours in the car. Some journeys the GPS told us would take eight hours 
would turn into fourteen as we came upon holiday traffic, tolls, border crossings and accidents.

All places have their own driving quirks, with most drivers picking up the habits of
the location. The drivers in my home town of Perth, Western Australia will NOT
merge, drives me crazy every time I go home!

I had lots of time to observe the drivers from all over Europe and their driving styles,
 which work well when everyone is driving to the same 'rules' but when you put
many nationalities on the same stretch of motorway the different driving styles become obvious
and sometimes quite scary when mixed together!

European Numberplate: Romania
European Numberplate: Belgium
European Numberplate: Austria
It appeared that Austrians aren't fans of merging...I wonder if those Austrians who
migrated to Perth are the reason behind Perth's non merging stance!

European Numberplate: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Bosnians were either crazy, passing on blind bends or really, really slow,
nothing in between, though mostly they were crazy!

European Numberplate: Slovakia
European Numberplate: Germany
Germans like to drive really fast...the have their no limit Autobahns after all.
They also tailgate which can be far more intimidating. If you leave a gap, they will fill it.
Look in your rear view mirror and they will be so close you can barely see them,
get used to it, somehow it Germany!

European Numberplate: Switzerland
European Numberplate: Netherlands
Ninety per cent of the Dutch cars on the road to Croatia had a caravan attached. 
If they had no caravan they had a rooftop storage pod or a trailer carrying everything
from sun loungers to the kitchen sink, nearly all had a bicycle or four secured somehow.

European Numberplate: Italy
The Italian drivers were the masters of  speeding and weaving in and out, none of this passing 
in the left lanes only! Unnerving to have someone overtake from the inside lane
after living in England and Germany! Another thing Perth drivers a good at
and something I don't miss from home...lots of Italians in Perth!

European Numberplate: Serbia
European Numberplate: Albania
European Numberplate: Montenegro
European Numberplate: Luxembourgh
European Numberplate: Great Britian
Great Britain
Not too many Brits on the road to Croatia. Brits must be the most polite drivers on the planet. 
Always allowing others to merge, stopping to let cars turn in front of them in heavy traffic
and always the 'thank you' wave! I miss driving in the UK!

European Numberplate: Norway
These Norwegians were a long way from home!

European Numberplate: Slovenia
We were behind this Slovenian car at a border crossing and I noticed this.....
Aussies on the road in Europe
Australian stickers on the car...My little family wouldn't let me get out and ask if they were
Australians like us...spoil sports...not often you see another car with an Aussie flag in Europe!

It was also noted that the back number plate was always far cleaner....

Than the front number plate! Bugs from Russia...with love!

European Numberplate: Spain
A long way from home!

European Numberplate: Estonia
Also a long way from home!

As an Aussie it was pretty cool seeing so many nationalities on the road at the same time.
This blog post has my opinions of drivers I noticed in my lengthy times in our car on this trip. 
I am not saying that ALL Germans tailgate or ALL Bosnians are crazy drivers....
This post is also not an indication of my skills as a photographer. 
Many of these photos were taken on the road, as a passenger...obviously...
 and have been heavily cropped for privacy.