Category Archives: Travel-General

The ‘Teaser’ Parade for Autrefois Le Couserons in St. Girons, France

The light was thinning as we left the house on Friday night. We hadn’t realised that there would be an opening night parade — a teaser — prior to the multi-hour Autrefois Le Couserons spectacle that was scheduled on Saturday morning. But we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time once again.

Three generations of a French family watch the small opening night parade for the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, France

Up and down the streets of St. Girons, people gathered in the windows overlooking the small parade and they followed it on foot in some cases. The night was fast approaching, the temperatures were thankfully dropping, and there was an air of excitement all along the route of the parade.

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Come back soon for another slideshow from the hundreds of photos that I took over the weekend.

Coming up next? Tractors and farm vehicles from all eras!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Hanging Out In Hannover

Hannover in Germany — visually beautiful, very tranquil, and we barely had time to scratch the surface of it!

After leaving Rotterdam at 1 PM, we arrived in Hannover at about 7 PM. It was still bright and sunny and our hosts for two nights, Peter and Maria, were waiting for us out in the garden. Over a lovely and light supper, we discussed all sorts of topics and made plans for the next day. Mark and I would be out and about on our own since Peter was attending to his medical patients and Maria was off to her Hatha Yoga and weekly grocery shopping.

I took so many photos (hundreds in fact!) that I will have to space them out over several posts. So come back often to see what else is online. And when I post the smaller versions, do take the time to click on them and see all of the detail in the larger ones.

We were walking through a leafy suburb on our way to the train station when we spotted this first oddity. In every other place we have lived, you have to “Dial Before You Dig” so you don’t snap an underground electric or telephone cable — or sever a water or gas line. I’ve never been in a place where you have to check for unexploded munitions from the World War II before you dig for services! Apparently this type of service exists in many places in Europe since unexploded ordinance is still quite an issue. The previous link cites one study, and this one from 2010 which was a feature on NPR also discusses the ongoing problems.

Munition van checking the ground near new construction

Leaving the suburbs, we took the short 15 minute ride into the city on an ultra-clean and very smooth train, emerged from underground, and walked to the beautiful Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) a block away where our host had told us we could find the Tourism Bureau and obtain a walking map of the inner city area.

As we walked, we saw countless beautiful buildings with intriguing bits of architectural detail. The city is a feast for the eyes and as I mentioned before, I took hundreds of images along the way. I supposed that the best way to deal with that overload of photos is to create a slide show at a future date. But for now, here are few examples of what we saw. Enjoy!

Ornate tiles and door in central Hannover

Stone door surround - left side

Stone door surrround - right side

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Memorial fountain & neo-classical building

And finally — this little gruesome bit of stone carving. Come back again soon for more images from Hannover!

Gruesome face carved in stone on the side of a building

Vikings and Romans and Scotsmen, Oh My!

Alive with the echoes of thundering hooves, the ringing sound of sword against sword, and the cries of economically deprived or displaced people, Scotland as a nation has survived much turmoil throughout the centuries. And that turbulent history is well-examined in the comprehensive displays at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Roman panel in terracotta


Warrior's Gravestone



Juxtapositions abound since the same nation that crafted weaponry such as swords like the Claidheamh Mor that stood the height of a man were also creating beautiful objects such as jewelry and sculpture. This overlap of warlike behaviour with deep levels of spirituality or religious faith may seem contradictory when viewed from our less perilous times.

The pictures in this article are a tiny sample of the distant time periods which are represented. The upper floors of the museum cover more recent decades and are full of items such as advertising artwork and period clothing or furniture.

Long sword known as a Claidheamh Mor or Claymore

The museum is completely free of admission charges, has a stunning range of exhibits spread out over 6 floors, and is housed in a building of architectural interest. I would highly recommend this as a ‘must see’ for anyone who visits Edinburgh and who has a sense of curiosity about the Scots and their background history.

Heavy silver links


Angels carved on timber panel

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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When The Sun Comes Out In Edinburgh…

When the sun comes out in Edinburgh, Scotland — a rush is on for any available seat outside to soak up the rays as you eat your cafe lunch. At least that’s what we witnessed yesterday at the National Gallery of Modern Art. And as we drove through the park-side areas along Queen Street on the way to and from the museum’s two massive buildings, we could see that the paths were filled with women pushing strollers, children were playing on the grass, and people were sitting atop benches and low stone walls everywhere as they ate their lunch in warmth for a nice change.

Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland


Architectural details: exterior steps of Dean Gallery

Afternoon light in the museum cafe - Photo by Mark Harmes

Each of the museums, one formerly an elegant boarding school and one a former orphanage housed in a rather impressive building, had vast rooms with high ceilings that were perfect for displaying the art in the collections. I was unable to take photos inside due to the rules of each museum, but I quite enjoyed the massive metal sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi as you entered the gates of the Dean Gallery.

Large sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi at Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Sunless Edinburgh Sunday

The semi-permanent gray of the Edinburgh skies merged with the soot-tinged stone buildings that comprise much of the city and formed a subdued winter palette for my photography. Some find the colour tones of this city to be too somber for their taste. I find it soothing. And when there is a bright spot, whether it is provided by nature or the paintbrush, it stands out all the more against the blackened stone.

Leith street scene

The dinosaurs were waiting at the end of Constitution Street. Three hulking cranes, long abandoned and now a residence for pigeons, stood with arms raised high into the slate-gray skies. We had followed the sound of seagulls until we discovered the less prosperous part of the harbour and the detritus of its former glory days.

Abandoned cranes at Leith waterside

On we went, hoping for more inspirational things to view than that particularly derelict harbour area and our patience was rewarded. A mere few blocks on we discovered a canalside area with former industrial buildings turned into apartments, restaurants and pubs, open-air sculpture, and scenes reminiscent of Amsterdam with canal boats pulled up alongside the walkway and bicycles chained out front. Charming!

Canalside in Leith

We had walked for hours and a light, misty rain began to touch our cheeks. Time for a restorative tea break! And after peeking into window after window on our stroll back up Constitution Street toward the house, we chose a cafe named Rock Salt and settled in to rest our legs and warm our bodies.

Rock Salt Cafe interior

Time to end for now and edit some photos for GreenWorks. I’m hoping to have a sneak peek at the promotional artwork that I am designing for them in the next day or so. Bye for now!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

Life Amongst The Bikes in Amsterdam

Look left, look right, and be aware! There are more bicycles in Amsterdam, used on a daily basis for every purpose imaginable, than any other city in Europe. According to, 40% of the total traffic is made up of bicyclists.

Many other cities around the planet now aspire to be equally bike-powered and green, but ask yourself these questions while you peruse the photos.

Could you ‘car pool’ your children to school without a car — or shop for a week’s worth of groceries and get them home via pedal-power?

Bike riding parent with children

Bike riding parent with children

What if you purchased a piece of furniture, didn’t want to pay a delivery fee, and decided to just have a go at bringing it home on your bike?

Walking the table home

Walking the table home

Can you hitch a sidesaddle ride on a bike for a breezy afternoon outing?

Hitching a ride on the back of a bike

Hitching a ride on the back of a bike

And as to parking them? Bikes are chained up simply everywhere including along the railings of bridges and fences, to window grilles along building fronts, and to lamp posts.

Bike on a bridge

Bike on a bridge

Even though bikes in this city are chained/latched/attached to anything that seems remotely stable and firm — as you can see by the sign below, that is not always appreciated by the owners of various buildings!

No parking sign for bikes

No parking sign for bikes

Another option is to park in someplace safe and secure like this 3 story garage for cycles which is looked after by security guards and is situated quite close to the front of Central Station. BELOW: 3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

During our recent 8 day visit, I was especially impressed with the Bakfiets that I saw simply everywhere carrying children of all ages and sizes in the front section as the parents steered from the back. And whether used with or without the hooded ‘convertible top’ to keep the child passengers or shopping dry, the families that we saw using these sensible vehicles all looked relaxed and happy in spite of the winter temperatures.

Bikes with attached cart-style child carriers

Bikes with attached cart-style child carriers

This is one of the most charming cities in Europe and any visit to Amsterdam is made all the more delightful by being able to navigate through this beautiful city and enjoy scenic streets which are not clogged with noisy or air-polluting cars.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photography is by Deborah Harmes.
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

A Visit With Vincent

The morning weather report had a forecast of snow and the startling cold air against my cheeks as I left the apartment made me believe that smiling weatherman. He was wrong — and I was relieved. There was already enough residual ice on the pavement all over Amsterdam to make the simple act of walking require alertness, concentration, and good balance.

Appropriately bundled up and laughing about the fact that a mere four days ago we had been at the beach in Australia, we caught the #3 tram and headed for the area known as Museumplein and the Van Gogh Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, trying to arrive right at the opening time of of 10 AM. The visitors were quite sparse and, feeling rather smug about that, we headed into the first of four floors of artwork. But by the time we emerged from the last gallery into the museum shop, we were walking in stops and starts due to the sheer number of people who entered the building in the two hour period since our arrival.

Van Gogh Museum exterior side view

This is a moving collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s work that clearly shows his evolution through various stages as an artist. The mental struggles that he endured are evident as you see the colour palette and brushwork change over the years. The pieces produced during his lighter and more upbeat years are a startling contrast to the heavier-hearted and more frantic works of art. I highly recommend this museum if you have at least a two hour window in your own visit to Amsterdam.

We are travelling now — finally — after planning this life change and free-fall adventure for over two years. So we have no place to call home right now, no walls to hang artwork on, no shelves to stack books on, no cabinets to place things within.

Books on display in the shop at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

I looked at the posters, opened the books, touched the scarves and t-shirts, and walked away from them. In the end my sole purchase was a handful of postcards. And Mark had quite a surprised expression on his face when he heard me say aloud, “I have no desire to acquire.” And I meant it!

Posters and prints in the Van Gogh Museum Shop

This is a beautiful museum inside — light and airy and contemporary. But there is no photography allowed inside, so I can only assure you that it is lovely and urge you to go and see it for yourself. Although the artwork is spread out over four levels, there are both stairways and elevators for easy access. And there is one of the nicest self-serve restaurants on the ground floor that I have seen in any museum. We took a break for a coffee and a pastry at 11:30 and were quite impressed with the food that was available.

After leaving the Van Gogh Museum, our plan was to walk next door to the Stedelijk Museum — the modern art museum — but it is closed on Mondays, so we will have to try again later this week.

Realizing that the crowds at the Rijksmuseum would be considerable so late after the morning opening time, we decided to spend the rest of the day gently meandering through the park area in Museumplein and then take a tram into the Central District for some window shopping.

Here are some of the sights that I spotted along the way. Enjoy!

Lunch Kiosk Microvan (made by same company that manufactures Vespa scooters in Italy)

Wooden clog holding sunflower on cafe table in Museumplein

© Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.