Venice

(We visited Venice in late April – I’m only a little behind with my blog…)

After our weekend in Modena, we drove to Venice. We left our car at one of the cheap car parks out of town, and took a bus to the city centre. From there we took a water bus to Giudecca (an island just across from the “main” island in Venice), where we were met by our AirBnB hostess.

On our first afternoon in Venice, it was rainy and windy. It turned out to be a Bora event  – katabatic wind, which is what my PhD was about – so quite fun to experience! This was the street that our AirBnB apartment was at, almost next to the women’s prison…

The location of our AirBnB on Giudecca

We went for a short walk around Giudecca, but we quickly retired to our apartment as getting soaked wasn’t that much fun…

Dramatic views towards the main island of Venice

The next day we took the waterbus for a long time, to the island Murano. The day started really sunny and it was so pretty. Murano is famous for all the glassmakers located there, and this artwork in front of the bell tower represented that.

The Bell Tower and glass art on Murano

Murano was a nice place to start in Venice, as it wasn’t so crowded here. We enjoyed walking along the canal and looking at all the small shops selling beautiful glass items.

Murano Canal

Such a colourful sight!

Fantastically colourful streets on Murano

We visited one of the glass factories and watched a demonstration. I bought some beautiful turquoise glass earrings – the perfect souvenir! In front of the glass factory we had great views towards Venice over the lagoon…

Impressive views over the lagoon

There was laundry drying everywhere…

Laundry drying everywhere

We took the boat back to the main island where we continued exploring all the narrow streets and canals.

Back on the main island with its narrow canals

The buildings in Venice are really old and it shows! I loved these kind of scenes…

Typical Venice view

Finally we reached Piazza San Marco. It was REALLY crowded around the piazza. That was exactly as everyone had told me before our trip, and what I was most worried about – that Venice is nice but the crowds of tourists will drive you mad.

Seagull with Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

And yes, there were a lot of people here. But if you went just a couple of streets away from the most famous places (like Piazza San Marco), the crowds are gone and the city is yours to get lost in.

The bell tower of St Mark's Basilica on Piazza San Marco

So to conclude, I would still recommend Venice – it’s old, it’s incredibly beautiful and fun. It’s easy to understand why so many tourists flock to the city, but I was glad they don’t venture very far away from the famous sights so you can still find peace and quiet in the city!

The next day was very sunny. This was our view walking towards the waterbus stop on Giudecca – and the yellow boat is actually an ambulance!

Looking towards the main island from Giudecca - the boat passing is an ambulance!

We wondered around the many colourful streets and canals again, and enjoyed the sunshine.

I loved wondering around the colourful canals

Venice is busy but if you walk away from the most famous sites you can find many quiet places too!

Gondola’s in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute…

Gondola's in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

The classical image of Venice, with tourists in a gondola…

Classic Venice image with a gondola :)

Another famous hotspot in Venice is Rialto bridge. It was really crowded with people and I actually had to wait for “my” turn to take a photo from the railing, haha… But the views from the bridge were worth a little wait.

Views along the Canal Grande from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

Lots of boat traffic on the Grand Canal…

More views from Rialto Bridge

I loved the view from the bridge, you could almost imagine being way back in time.. not a car in sight. But of course you’re surrounded by people taking selfies on their smartphone, so this illusion doesn’t last very long ;)

View in the other direction from Rialto Bridge

Panorama from the Fish Market. Just steps away from Rialto bridge but here we were nearly alone.

Panorama from the Fish Market

Street scene in Venice.. I loved getting lost in the narrow streets.

Nice scene found while wondering around Venice

We tried to get really lost, but actually you easily find signs pointing to the nearest point of interest.. oh well. Lots of cute little bridges…

Michiel in Venice :)

Two pigeons in two old windows…

Old window & pigeons

After dinner we went for a sunset walk to get some photos. It’s even more beautiful at that time of day…

Gondola's at sunset

We spent some time on The Ponte dell’Accademia watching the last sunset colours disappear…

Sunset from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Venice at twilight is really pretty!

Beautiful twilight colours from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Quiet moments at dusk

Finally, the blue hour – all the lights are on and the sky is a deep blue colour. Loved this view!

Finally the blue hour - magical

It was fun taking long exposures of the boats passing underneath the bridge.

View from the bridge with boats passing underneath

We spent three nights in Venice and really enjoyed our stay. It was the end of our Italy road trip, after Venice we drove back to the Netherlands (two days of driving).

Denmark

Apologies for the long silence on this blog! A lot has happened in the mean time: I have left Norway after nearly 10 years, and moved back to the Netherlands after more than 13 years abroad! I’ve moved in with Michiel, in Rotterdam – exciting times!

I’ve taken my car with me, so last week we drove from Oslo to Rotterdam. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we managed to spend 3 wonderful days driving along the west coast of Denmark, which was so much fun! Here are some photos…

We took the ferry from Langesund to Hirtshals, arriving in the evening. We spent that night in Lønstrup, a small village about half an hour south of Hirtshals. It was REALLY windy, impressive to watch the sunset and crashing waves from the beach and dunes at the coast.

The beach at Lønstrup

We climbed to the top of the dunes, but it was SO windy that I didn’t want to stay there – I thought we might actually be blown off by the wind…

Windy view from the top of the dune, we didn't stay here long as I was afraid we'd be blown off - the wind was that strong!

Lucky panorama of the sunset, with a bird silhouetted in front of the sun…

Sunset panorama - I love the silhouetted bird, lucky shot!

Michiel on the narrow path that followed the dunes. There wasn’t much beach left at the bottom of the dunes, coastal erosion is a big problem here.

Michiel on the path following the dunes

The light was so beautiful that evening, I took a lot of photos!

The light was so beautiful that evening!

Flowers at sunset

Michiel enjoying the fantastic views

A very happy Hanneke in her element: beach, dunes & wind!

I was really enjoying being at the beach in the wind :)

We followed a path to another stretch of the coast…

The beach at Lønstrup - or what is left of it, erosion is a big problem here

And watched a beautiful sunset, and big crashing waves!

Sunset and crashing waves

The next morning we drove a short distance south of Lønstrøp, to a big parking lot from where you can walk to Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse – a really impressive place. This is from the start of the walk…

The sandy path leading to Rubjerg Knude Fyr (Lighthouse)

And here we had reached the 60 m high sand dune – and felt like we were in the Sahara!

Climbing the sand dune - you'd think we were in the Sahara!

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was built in 1900, but in more recent times it was threatened by continually shifting sands as well as coastal erosion. There used to be a couple of buildings next to it, which used to serve as a cafe and museum. In 2002, everything had to be abandoned due to the sand swallowing the buildings. The two smaller buildings were eventually removed, and only the lighthouse is still standing. It is expected to fall off the cliff in the next 15 years, but until then, it is a really impressive place to visit and experience the power of nature!

Approaching Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse at the edge of the cliff...

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse threatened by continuously moving sand

The views in the other direction are really impressive – it feels almost surreal to be on top of this huge sand dune and look out towards Lønstrup and the surrounding countryside!

Surreal landscape and views from the top of the sand dune

Couldn’t help myself, I had to take this really cheesy photo…

Michiel and lighthouse ;)

Later that day, the weather turned cloudy and even rainy, so I didn’t take a lot more photos. We spent the night at Nymindegab, these two photos were taken the next morning right next to our hotel…

Near our hotel in Nymindegab

Jetty in Nymindegab

Our last stop on the coast was Rømø, a Danish Wadden island that can be reached by a bridge (or a causeway rather). We had some amazing cakes in a coffeeshop / antique shop, and drove around the island. At some point we wanted to go to the beach and looked for a parking place – we didn’t see any though and suddenly we were driving ON the beach! The beach is huge here, and they let cars drive on some parts of it. A bit strange, but quite fun!

I know neither my dear Subaru or me are ‘sexy-model-on-fast-car’ material, but I still like this photo!

On the island Rømø you can drive your car on the beach - quite fun! Neither me or my dear Subaru are 'model-on-fast-car' material but I still like the photo :D

After our visit to Rømø we continued into Germany and home to the Netherlands the next day. It was a really busy week, but I was glad we were able to spend some time exploring Denmark’s west coast – we both want to come back at some point!

Modena

After San Marino, we spent two nights in Modena. We were there on Easter Sunday and Monday, which meant a lot of places were closed. When we arrived, we went to the nearest restaurant (across the street from our hotel) for lunch. It was full of big families having Easter lunch, but they managed to squeeze us in. Modena is famous for its food, and we weren’t disappointed… We started with this amazing fish starter…

Amazing fish starter

Then Michiel had gnocchi, and I had the seafood risotto. It was all really good!

Wonderful gnocchi in Modena

Afterwards we went to the city centre of Modena – this is the central square Piazza Grande, pretty empty on this Sunday afternoon.

Piazza Grande in Modena

Modena cathedral is a curious mix of styles – I was most impressed by this window made of stone!

Windows made of stone in the impressive but slightly strange Modena Cathedral!

We walked around the town with its colourful houses…

Colourful houses in Modena

Before returning to our “castle” hotel – really nice place actually, just outside Modena.

Our 'castle' hotel

The next day we decided to visit the Ferrari museum in nearby Maranello. It’s not that big, but it was surprisingly fun!

The surprisingly fun Ferrari museum

I have to admit, quite impressive…

Ferrari museum in Maranello

On Monday evening it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant that was open and not fully booked. We ended up in this crazy-ugly-seventies restaurant (look at that painting behind Michiel!) which had a smoker’s room and gave out bibs with the seafood pasta. It was actually quite a funny experience, and the food was good!

Seafood pasta came with a bib :D

Our visit was a bit random due to a lot of places being closed over Easter, but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the regional food. Next stop: Venice!

San Marino

After a wonderful couple of days at Cinque Terre, we got back on the road and drove to our next destination, which was actually another country: San Marino! The reason I wanted to go there was (as has happened before… ) one photo I had seen of the city of San Marino located on a 750 m high hill with great views over the surroundings – it looked magical!

Our hotel was right on top of the hill, and after dropping our bags we went to enjoy the views – they didn’t disappoint!

Admiring the views from San Marino

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon with wine and pizza on an outside terrace…

We spent a long time having drinks and some food at a restaurant with an outside terrace with amazing views

Then at sunset we walked we walked up to the Second Tower to enjoy views of the First Tower. That magical view I had seen in the photo…

The First Tower (or Guaita fortress) at sunset

As dusk fell, all the lights came on – magical! You could see all the way to the coast at Rimini…

As dusk was falling, the lights came on - magical views!

The castle was beautifully lit, what fairytale views…

What a view... you could see the coastline and boats at sea

The next day we explored the city. First, we went to visit the First Tower, from where we had this great view of the Second Tower (yes, exactly the opposite as the photos above!).

The second tower seen from the first tower

And the other way around again, haha… We bought combination ticket to visit almost all the monuments in town. The Second Tower had an exhibition of  weapons, from medieval to modern day. It was interesting, but we found the obsession with weapons in San Marino a bit strange. There’s a lot of shops selling knives, crossbows and guns (from toy ones to real ones…).

And vice versa, first tower seen from the second tower :D

I just couldn’t stop taking photos of the views…

Another view of the first tower

Michiel on the town square…

Michiel at the town square

We also visited the Palazzo Publico (the town hall), which had this incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council…

The incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council in Palazzo Publico (the town hall)

It was a cloudy day, but I loved the rays of sun peeping through the clouds, lighting up the hills around San Marino.

Nice views, and nice sun beams!

In the evening we had a really good dinner – what a great day! We were leaving the next morning, but when I saw that the sun was coming through the fog every now and then, I knew there would be some good photo opportunities. So we went back to my favourite viewpoint, and got treated to these views – a fairytale castle in the sky!

Fairy tale views of the castle in the clouds!

Nice way of saying goodbye to San Marino!

We really enjoyed our visit to this mini-country-on-a-cliff!