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Random Fridays: Venetian mask

There's something eerie about those empty eyes ...

There’s something eerie about those empty eyes …

Masks such as this are common souvenirs from Venice. I bought this one in 1991 and it has travelled with me on my various moves between hemispheres ever since. I wish I could read music, because I’d like to know if the notations along the top are real music or just decoration.


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Travel Album: Switzerland

Walking in the mountains above Interlaken

There was such an enthusiastic response to my recent post about mountains that I thought I would share more photos from the Bernese Oberland area in Switzerland. These shots are from three walks in June 2008 (which explains the less-than-fantastic quality of the photos). To see a much better version of the map below, click here.

Map of trains, buses and walking routes accessible from Interlaken. Just hop on a train, and go!

Walk 1: After my visit to Jungfraujoch and Top of Europe (more photos here), I walked from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen, a route that takes about 2 hrs and 45 minutes. This was a lovely stroll with a gentle descent of only 800 m.

Walk 2: From Harder Kulm to Interlaken, roughly 2.5 hours – and a descent of 2500 m. My knees were shaking by the time that one was over!

These four photos were taken from the balcony of my hotel, the Metropole. Stunning views of Jungfrau, in all conditions (well, the foggy one is not so stunning).

Walk 3: Along Schynige Platte, a generally flat 2.5-hour circular walk on a plateau.

If you have enjoyed these walks in the mountains of Switzerland, be sure to visit Jo’s Monday Walk for other walks.

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There’s nothing like a mountain to make you feel small

Mountains have a great way of telling you just how insignificant you are in the scale of things.

Descent to the caves of Taittinger

Eighteen metres (59 feet) below the ground in Reims, France, lie the caves of Taittinger, one of the finest producers of champagne. To make the descent to the caves, you must negotiate this spiral staircase.

spiral staircase to the Taittinger caves
The Taittinger caves occupy some of the vaults of the ancient Saint Nicaise Abbey. These stairs are in the old abbey vaults.
stairs from the old Saint Nicaise Abbey
In World War I, the caves were used as places of refuge for civilians and Allied soldiers. If you look closely, you can make out the year 1914 in this graffiti carved into the wall.
World War I graffiti in Taittinger caves
A pupitre with bottles is visible at the foot of these stairs. The bottles of champagne are placed in the pupitre and rotated so that the sediment collects in the necks.
pupitre at the base of the stairs
And this is what it’s all about…
Taittinger champagne
(The first four photos were taken in the caves of Taittinger in May 2005 on a poor quality print camera, and later scanned to digital. The final photo was taken in October 2014: the champagne in the glass is not Taittinger, but the backdrop is a bag from Taittinger; it appeared recently in this post.)