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About Me

Found 3 results

  1. While Tim needed to catch up on some work today, the rest of us decided to go on an excursion back to Merano. Not because Merano was so beautiful that we felt the need to see it for a second day in a row (although it was a gorgeous place!) but to visit a botanical garden, which is located a bit outside the main town centre. We didn't have much luck with public transport initially, missing the 10.35 train we were trying to catch literally just by a minute when there was a last minute platform train. That meant we had almost half an hour to wait at Bolzano station until the next train to Merano. Fortunately, it was quite a scenic place to sit. Once we made it to Merano, we then needed to catch a bus to the entrance to the gardens. The bus took us up some increasingly steep and narrow roads towards our destination. Having missed the first train and then, by default, the bus which would have connected with it, it was around 12.30 by the time we'd bought a ticket and got inside the Trauttmansdorff Castle Gardens. We knew they were botanical gardens, but otherwise weren't quite sure what to expect. I was pleased when one of the first things we walked past was a display of cactuses though. There were some lovely views of the mountains surrounding Merano... ...and as we admired the views we noticed what looked like a rather unusual viewing platform sticking out of the hillside. The gardens were really well laid out, so although they were on a hillside you never really felt like you were going very uphill because the paths were gently sloping. We walked past some really colourful flowers, interspersed with the odd cactus. We soon realised that the gardens were laid out in four different zones, with routes to follow around all of them. We'd started with the route referred to as the Sun Gardens, which was concentrating on Mediterranean plants. We also passed a display of carnivorous plants. As we continued upwards, there were some pretty views down towards Merano. There was also the occasional odd sculpture. And we had a view of Trauttmansdorff Castle itself, the yellow building in whose gardens all this is housed. We were climbing upwards towards the rather spectacular viewpoint we'd spotted from down below. It was quite strange to stand on; it wobbled slightly and you could see a long way down when you looked through the floor! It gave us some nice views though. After the viewpoint, our route continued along a very green path. We were walking towards a rather unusual aviary. There were multiple birds inside, including some rather colourful parrots. I wasn't a massive fan of being inside an aviary with birds, but once you walked through it you could get to another viewing platform. From there you could see down towards what was advertised as the palm beach, although that didn't look like it was going to be the most exciting part of the gardens. We decided not to go to the palms but to retrace our steps downhill to the main restaurant to get some lunch. I had some dumpling soup again and also an affogato which came in an actual coffee cup. I was very impressed! As we left the restaurant I realised we could see up to the precarious viewpoint we'd been at earlier. It's not too easy to make out in this photo, but it's between the lefthand branch of the tree and its trunk. It looked quite high from down here! Our plan was now to explore the second zone of the gardens, which was called Forests of the World. The first sight we came to when following the forest trail didn't involve trees, though. Instead, we found ourselves looking at a rice paddy! That was unexpected. The path continued past small waterfalls... ...little palm trees and all sorts of ferns. At one point there was some artificial steam adding to a jungle atmosphere. Towards the end of the forests trail we came to a large glasshouse. There were some beautiful flowers in here. I was excited to see a coffee plant. There were all sorts of other exotic plants in there. Look at these baby pineapples! Once we'd completed the forests trail, we moved on to the Water and Terraced Gardens zone. I think we maybe took a wrong turning on the route at some point because rather than arriving at the large pond we had been expecting, we found ourselves in what seemed to be more like a cactus zone! There were all kinds of different cactuses here. I loved these little round ones! Although I saw a lot of cactuses in Arizona last year, I'm not sure I've ever seen so many different types of cactuses all in the same place. It was also just such a strange setting to see them in, with Alpine views behind. It was all really pretty though And some of the cactuses were even flowering! I may have taken just a few photos! Once we'd finished admiring the cactuses, our path continued down towards a more flowery part of the gardens. There were so many different displays to look at that it was hard to take everything in. I loved these bright red flowers though. Eventually we got down to the water lily pond we'd been expecting. It was really gorgeous here and the rain was just about holding off for us. We saw what looked like enormous water lilies... ...and turned out to be lotus flowers. There were also some giant water lilies where the leaves had edges. Plus lots of more normal water lilies, of course. It was a really spectacular place and there was so much more we could have seen if we'd had more time. Unfortunately, it was around 4pm by this point and we needed to get to the bus stop, to start our journey back to Merano. It was a lovely day though and I'd definitely come to the gardens again if I was in this part of the world
  2. After celebrating Dad's birthday last night we had a slow start to the morning before deciding to catch a train to Merano. Tim and I had been to Merano when we first came to this part of Italy in 2015, but couldn't remember too much about it beyond a general impression that it was a really pretty place and that we'd walked in some sort of garden with sculptures of animals. Merano is only around 40 minutes away from Bolzano on a regional train, so before too long we'd arrived at the train station there. The first thing we saw when we came out of the station was this statue of Andreas Hofer, a local Tyrolean folk hero. From the station it was a walk of 20 minutes or so into the centre of Merano. The river Passer flows through the town and it's a gorgeous river, with beautifully clear water. Merano used to be a spa town and there's an impressive Kurhaus building down by the river. The flower display in front of it was really lovely. I also loved this square, complete with a few little palm trees. And I was particularly impressed by this flower display of a peacock! The river is crossed by lots of different bridges. We were actually trying to stay on one side of it, but every time we got to a bridge I couldn't resist walking across it to see the view. As we made our way along the river we could see that in some places it was flowing incredibly fast. After a while we reached an old stone bridge. The views were really good from here too. Before too long we'd reached the park we remembered from our 2015 visit. I definitely remember this colourful woodpecker! This hairy snake looked familiar too. We ended up crossing the river here and following a trail on the opposite side. From where we were walking we could see what looked like ruins of a castle high on a rock above the river... ...as well as a more modern tower in the distance. The path we followed took us through the forest, which was nice and shady on a hot day, though didn't give us many views of the river. At one point we passed this slightly concerning sign! Luckily we didn't encounter any explosions, but continued on towards some beautiful orchards. After a while we emerged in a clearing, where there seemed to be a picnic spot beside a small lake. We were feeling peckish by this point, so decided to turn around and head back to the centre of Merano. We found a nice restaurant to get some lunch and then explored some of the bookshops in the centre of Merano. Then there was just time for a final stroll up and down the promenades... ...and a final look at the views of the mountains... ...before catching the train back to Bolzano
  3. Today we decided to go on a day trip to the nearby town of Merano. We had changed trains in Merano on Monday as we travelled between Zernez and Bolzano, and stopped in the town centre to get some lunch. It looked like a really pretty place and it is less than an hour away from Bolzano on the train, so we wanted to return and explore further. The first thing we saw when we got off the train was this enormous monument which looked like it might be some sort of war memorial. When we investigated it more closely, we found that it had been erected in 1914 to celebrate 100 years of Tyrol being returned to Austria after it had been ruled by the Italians and the Bavarians during the Napoleonic Wars. The man in the statue is Andreas Hofer, who led the Tyrolean Rebellion against the occupying forces. We have noticed streets named after him in Bolzano and Merano as well. We walked past the monument, into the main town centre with its pretty colourful streets. Merano seemed like a very prosperous town. There were some very expensive-looking hotels and food/wine on the restaurant menus seemed significantly more expensive than elsewhere in Italy too; it could almost have been Switzerland! The town originally gained popularity with tourists as a spa resort, and so it boasts an elaborate Kurhaus. There were lots of other ornate buildings and towers dotted around the town centre too. We walked through a little gate into the narrow streets of the old town. We soon found the origin of the clock tower we had seen in the distance; it belonged to the Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus. The church was so enormous that it was difficult to fit it all into one photo. Another gate took us out of the old town and onto a road which led towards the Passer river, which runs through the town. We were amazed by how quickly the river was flowing. You definitely wouldn't want to fall in! There was lots of interesting architecture along the riverbanks... ...as well as a path which led us through what seemed to be a botanical garden. We found some rather unusual sculptures there. There was a gigantic eagle... ...Atlas with the world on his shoulders and a woodpecker to keep him company... ...and a rather hairy snake. As we walked further up the river bank the path came to an abrupt end at a bridge. It wasn't hard to see why; the river was emerging from a rocky gorge and flowing even faster than before. We crossed the bridge and started walking down the opposite river bank. We were rewarded with some beautiful views back towards the town. There were some amazing views of the mountains above Merano too. Merano was a lovely destination and we would definitely like to return, although I expect it might be a pricey place to stay. Once again, it felt culturally very Austrian and although we had lunch in a pizzeria, the serving staff greeted us with "GrĂ¼ss Gott" and "Servus" and the drinks menu featured Apfelschorle and German beers. Definitely a unique place to visit
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