Friday, October 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Among the best ways of staving off jet lag when you arrive in a far-flung place, so they say, are walking and sunshine. And I love to walk, so when I landed in the lovely Swiss city of Basel in the early morning - too early to check into my hotel - I looked for a way of keeping occupied (and awake) after my 30-something-hour trip.
The helpful receptionist at Hotel Krafft Basel suggested that if I wanted to do something that most tourists would miss, I should head to the local flea market. It was a Saturday morning, the sun was shining, so I set off for the short walk across the Middle Rhine Bridge from the hotel. Using a map provided by the hotel, it was easy to find my way to the market, set under the trees in the lovely Petersplatz square.Much like flea markets anywhere, a lot of the stalls seemed to be people selling off their no-longer-useful stuff. Toys, clothes, shoes, mirrors, paintings, old vases and tea sets, books and more. But there were a few more interesting items too, including an accordion and quite a few chandeliers.
After browsing for a while, I decided that by the time I got back to the hotel, I'd have exposed myself to enough daylight to help reset my body clock and should be able to make it through until bedtime. Bearing in mind that in the European summer, sundown is not until around 10pm!
The Petersplatz Flea Markets are held every Saturday from 7.30am to 4pm.
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Read Lee's report on Swiss hotels in 2015 in Get Up & Go.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
They keep our necks warm, they are lovely companions, they can be roiled up into a little ball as a pillow, they accessorise the plainest outfit, they'll cover up a bad hair day, their colours can enhance your looks, they are beautiful gifts, they can be worn as a sarong, a sash or a stole . . . in fact not to have one on hand can be quite anxiety making.
Silk, pashmina, cotton, merino wool, cashmere, hand-knotted, woven by angels - any which way a scarf comes into being makes the world a better place.
I have far too many scarves to even put on a post, but I'll start my tale with three old friends who have travelled the globe with me.
The first is a beautiful blue and black fringed scarf from India. I purchased it in Chennai - no bargaining, it came from a boutique that didn't play hard and fast with tight fists. This is a one-off, and when it is folded in a drawer near it's market cousins, it remains expensive and haughty.
A few days before I purchased the scarf I was in a bus trundling through the southern part of India. The bus had made frequent 'comfort' stops - let's call then toilet stops at places that I couldn't quite cope with and I have a high tolerance for shitty toilets.
At one stop I said to my lady companions that perhaps it would be more hygienic if we just went into the bushes. All agreed with me.
As we were squatting in easy silence I looked behind me and there was a holy man wandering through the bush and starring at us. We all turned to wave and the poor skinny fellow took off like a rocket - don't think he'd quite seen that many white bums lined up ever.
This next, soft, pretty confection came from the markets in Istanbul. I had just finished a cruise from Athens with my sister and we were stock piling scarves. They only cost about $5 each but were comely and colourful. We wore them draped around our shoulders back to our hotel.
In a café near the hotel a young, pushy fella called us every night with true Turkish hospitality to come and have apple tea with him. We did, but he was starting to get annoying and we were trying to find ways to avoid him.
One night I said, 'why are you flirting with us, we are old, there are lots of young, gorgeous girls around. 'Ï don't care', he said, I just want a little bit of kissing and . . .'- yep, he wanted more. I just starred at him and said 'you're a lunatic'. He laughed hysterically and attracted the attention of his boss. The boss came out and shooed him away. 'Why did you do that,' I said - 'he doesn't work here, so why not?' he said. So a strange man had been flirting with us and making us apple tea from the café . . . ah, Istanbul.
This silk organza lovely was found at Stanley Markets, Hong Kong. I had bought an embroidered silk coat that I was thrilled with, and not cheap either. While the coat was being packed up I saw the edge of this scarf poking out from under a pile of sweaters. As I gently tugged it out I saw it was silk organza with fine cotton tufts sprouting - it was intriguing and quickly attached itself to me. I bargained for a while then put my foot down and said I should have it for free, as the coat had no bargaining attached to the deal . . . shopkeeper was bemused and said - 'why not'.
That trip to Hong Kong I was invited on a helicopter ride too see this amazing city and surrounding islands from on high - what a flight! And the scarf playfully tickled my neck as the helicopter swooped through the mighty canyons of the vertical city.
Tell me about your scarves . . . where did you buy them, what do they mean to you, and do they tell a story?
Monday, September 22, 2014
There is a legend that wishes made at the Bodhi Wishing Shrine at Ngong Ping Village on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island come true. Guest blogger Kris Madden made a wish
In the middle of the village, on the right-hand side from the main entrance, is a Wishing Tree or Bodhi Tree covered with countless written wishes made by locals and visitors. The Bodhi Tree is believed to be the tree under which the young prince Siddhartha meditated, eventually attaining enlightenment and becoming Buddha.
Making a wish at the ‘Wishing Tree’ shrine
The Bodhi Wishing Shrine at Ngong Ping Village on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island.
Next step is to climb the 268 steps for a closer look at the extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha). Sitting 34 metres high and facing north, right hand raised in blessing of all below, this gigantic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia. From the top you can take in the sweeping mountain and sea views all around Lantau Island.
The Big Buddha, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Opposite the statue, the ancient Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist retreats. Rest in its cooling tranquil garden and you’re sure to feel blessed.
#HKInsiderKris Madden travelled to Hong Kong courtesy Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Tourism Board on assignment for Get Up and Go.
Follow Kris Madden’s other adventures at www.the-travel-reporter.com and www.facebook.com/thetravelreporter