Torino – Lingotto

On our road trip through Italy, we spent one night in Torino (Turin), in the amazing NH Torino Lingotto Tech Hotel. It’s housed in the former Fiat factory which was refurbished by Renzo Piano. I loved the design of the hotel, with very high ceilings and great views. A funny story is that the FC Barcelona team was staying at the hotel the same night as us – this meant constant crowds of fans in front of the hotel ūüėÄ

The breakfast room in the amazing NH Torino Lingotto Tech Hotel

We didn’t venture far from the hotel, as there was plenty to do nearby. The hotel is next door to Eataly, which is like a delicatessen supermarket slash restaurant with amazing food!

But even more fun was getting to visit the Fiat test track on the roof!¬†If you ask at the hotel reception, they’ll give you a key and instructions which seem to come straight out of movie treasure hunt ūüėÄ – follow the wall until you find a door just like this one, follow the signs for sport city, when you get there, use this key on the elevator which will take you to the roof. So cool!!

But first, we admired the spiral ramp to the roof, which is now inside a shopping centre…

The spiral ramp that leads up to the test track on the roof

The spiral ramp from below

When we got to the roof, we admired the beautiful views of the surprisingly green city and the Alps on the horizon…

View from the roof towards the Alps

It was hard to take good photos of the test track, as it’s HUGE. At both end, it has some pretty steep turns.

The test track has a steep turn on both ends

This glass bubble (with a helicopter landing pad on the other side!) was added later (by Renzo Piano), and houses a meeting room.

Very cool glass bubble which was added later by Renzo Piano, and houses a meeting room

While we were there, some people were shooting a car advert, which was very cool to watch! These days the test track is mainly used for that kind of car photo shoots. It was also used in the movie “The Italian Job”. If you’re curious to see what it used to look like, check out this photo¬†on wikipedia, which also gives you a good idea of just how HUGE the whole building complex is.

There was a car shoot going on - cool!

Such a cool visit! I feel like they could make better use of the test track, by for example having an outside restaurant there – but on the other hand, the whole treasure hunt and having the roof practically to yourself really adds to the experience!

Strasbourg

Over Easter Michiel and I¬†went on a two week road trip, driving from Rotterdam to Northern Italy, and back. As it’s a long drive, we broke the trip in two and spent two night in Strasbourg in the French Alsace. We spent a really nice sunny Sunday walking around the city…

Strasbourg in springtime

View of Barrage Vaudan, a dam in the river Ill.

View of Barrage Vaudan

Lots of pretty streets to explore…

Pretty narrow streets

We watched the tourists boat go through the lock…

Watching the tourist boats go trough the lock

And stopped for a nice lunch outside, this banana milkshake made me very happy!

Yummy banana milkshake!

As did the beautiful pink flowers of this tree…

Pretty pink flowering tree

The typical half-timbered houses that Strasbourg is famous for:

One of the typical half-timbered houses

We went back to the pretty Petite France area at sunset…

Petit France in the evening

Very impressive half-timbered houses.

Half-timbered houses in Petit France

Looking even prettier at sunset!

Petit France at sunset

There was a relaxed mood that evening, with lots of people enjoying the nice evening – sitting, talking, playing petanque and having bbq’s.

Relaxed atmosphere with lots of people enjoying the evening talking, having bbq's or playing petanque

Magical little house all covered in purple wisteria flowers, so beautiful!

Magical little house covered in purple flowers (wisteria)

Beautiful view from Barrage Vaudan towards the ponts couverts bridges and its towers.

Sunset view from Barrage Vaudan

Nice terraces by the water…

Terrace by the water

Sunset panorama of Petite France

Petit France panorama

Michiel in front of the lock in Petite France

Michiel at Petit France

And a evening view of one of the canals of Strasbourg

One of the canals in Strasbourg in the late evening

A perfect stop on our way to Italy!

Hornborgasjön

Last week Michiel was here, and on Friday afternoon we drove to Fj√§llbacka and spent the night there. On Saturday we went for a short walk. I didn’t take that many photos, as I had taken so many the week before, but here are some photos from my mobile phone of our walk through Kungsklyftan (the gorge)…

Entering Kungsklyftan

Michiel looking small beneath the hanging rocks…

Michiel and the hanging rocks

Descending the stairs back to the town…

Descending back to the town

And a¬†view of Fj√§llbacka from the (mostly deserted) marina. It was a lot warmer than the week before, and we even enjoyed a coffee outside by the water, without wearing coats. Lovely! ūüôā

Fjällbacka marina - quite empty this time of year

After our walk, we drove 2 hours towards Skara. We were staying in this beautiful B&B:

Our B&B near Hornborga Lake

The reason we came here was to see the spring migration of thousands of common cranes (they counted over 16.000 of them while we were there!) on the shore of Lake Hornborga (or Hornborgasj√∂n in Swedish). Marie had told me about it, and I’m so glad we went. The viewpoint for the cranes was about 7 km from our B&B, so after we checked in we went there. So impressive to see (& hear!!) so many cranes.

The cranes! More than 16.000 of them!

I bought a new zoomlens just before this trip, so this was a nice opportunity to try it out…

Practicing my new lens on birds flying overhead

Greylag geese in for landing…

Greylag geese in for landing

And the oh so elegant cranes, I love these birds! I saw them for the first time in Fairbanks, Alaska, where they also gathered in large numbers – such a magical sight.

Two common cranes in flight

SO many of them…

Impressive to see so many cranes in one place!

Lovely view from the viewpoint. Here three cranes are crossing the creek.

Three cranes crossing the creek

Afterwards we drove a bit further around the lake to go for a walk to a watch tower. We started the walk amongst those yellow fields near the lakeshore…

Starting our walk between the fields

A boat in the¬†reeds…

Reeds and a boat

And a lone tree in beautiful yellow evening light.

Beautiful tree!

Nearing the end of our walk. While there were many people at the cranes viewpoint, we didn’t meet anybody all evening while on this walk.

Walking in golden evening light

At the end of the trail there was this cute little cottage next to the watch tower.

A cute (and a bit abandoned) cottage at the end of the path

View back to the cottage, from the watch tower.

The trail ended at a watch tower, this is the view from the top looking back at the cottage

And over the lake…

View over the lake from the tower

Here we didn’t see that many cranes, but we saw lots of swans and other birds.

LOTS of swans, and if you look carefully, even more smaller birds on the lake

A group of swans at sunset…

Sunset view over the lake, with Castle Dagsnäs in the background

The sunset was really beautiful, especially reflected in the calm lake.

Sunset over Lake Hornborga - beautiful!

With some spectacular pink colors!

Some very pink clouds reflected in the lake

We were walking away from the sunset, but kept looking back…

Sunset views on the way back to the car

The next morning it was nice and sunny again. The garden of the B&B was full of these lovely snowdrops…

Snowdrops in the garden of the B&B the next morning

Our first stop that morning was Naturum, the information centre of Hornborga Lake. What a fantastic building! They had really nice bird art made of driftwood inside, and lots of information about birds.

Naturum, the information centre of Hornborga Lake - fantastic building!

And upstairs you had this great view over the boardwalks and bird hides (on the left).

View from Naturum over the boardwalks and bird hides

Loved the yellow colours everywhere…

Reeds & boardwalk, lovely place

A black-headed gull seen from one of the hides.

Black-headed gull

And a northern lapwing – they remind me of home (the Netherlands).

Northern lapwing

Enjoying the beautiful sunshine, although the wind that day made it feel a bit chilly. I did get a bit sunburnt!

Enjoying the sunshine!

We went for another nature walk, this time on the shore of the lake between these beautiful old oak trees.

Going for a walk among old oak trees on the shore of the lake

Loved this trail! It was close to the cranes, so we could hear them chatter in the distance at all times.

Beautiful hiking trail

A blue tit chatting away in a nearby tree… against a very blue sky!

A blue tit calling out

Blue tit and blue sky

We had a quick lunch in Skara, and then we drove to Fredrikstad. Marie and Pål had invited us for dinner, a perfect stop on the long drive back to Oslo. We arrived a bit early and decided to walk around Fredrikstad at sunset.

Fredrikstad in soft evening light

I found crocuses!

I found crocuses in bloom!

A last photo of Fredrikstad at sunset…

Fredrikstad at sunset

It was a lovely trip, and a first taste of spring weather, which made me very happy!

Fjällbacka, Sweden

Last Saturday I drove to Fredrikstad early in the morning. By the time I reached the old town, it was 09:30, but it was still totally deserted…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

After some lovely french toast made by Marie, we got back in the car and drove to Sweden. Our destination was Fjällbacka, a really picturesque fishing town / summer resort on the west coast of Sweden.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

The town is lively in summer, but now in the off season it was very sleepy. Almost all shops had signs on them, saying they’s reopen “1 April”, “After Easter”, or even “in June”! No problem for me, I prefer to visit places when they’re deserted.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

Especially when the weather is actually nice, as it was on Saturday. We even found a bench in the sun and out of the wind to have lunch Рso nice! After lunch we walked up to the impressive Kungsklyftan, a cleft or gorge with huge stone blocks wedged in like a roof.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

From there, you can climb stairs up to¬†Vetteberget, with great views over the town…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

The landscape on top of¬†Vetteberget was really pretty, as were the clouds…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

On the other side we had a nice view towards the town and the church, as well as the archipelago of islands.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

We also walked around an area with a lot of fisherman’s cottages. They were so pretty!

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

And we found lots of nice things to photograph, like this color coordinated collection of fishing gear.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

And nets hanging on the outside wall…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

So idyllic…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

We also went for a short hike at Veddö Naturreservat, a nature reserve a few kilometers outside Fjällbacka. You could walk all around the peninsula, and they built this lovely boardwalk to connect two beaches.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

It even had a built-in bench! Very nice…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

Lovely views when the colors started to get soft towards sunset.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

We took the scenic road back towards the border, and I was hoping to find a nice place to watch the sunset from. We found a dead end road with views over the fjord reflecting the sunset, soooo pretty…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

There were lots of summer cottages and jetties by the fjord.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

Marie on the jetty at sunset…

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

And a group of geese flying over in the sunset, beautiful moment.

The deserted old town of Fredrikstad on a Saturday morning

What a perfect day! I had dinner with Marie in Fredrikstad, and then drove back to Oslo. I had driven about 400 km that day, but I really enjoyed it. So much so that I’m taking Michiel to Fj√§llbacka this weekend, and we’re combining it with watching the crane migration at Hornborga lake – I’m looking forward!