Friday, May 20, 2016

Australian Loves

Several years ago now, we hosted a foreign exchange student through AFS when we lived in the Chicago suburbs.  Her name was Sandy and she was from a small town outside of Melbourne.  I called her Sandra Dee, much to her dismay.  If anyone gets that reference, then kudos to you.

With AFS, students typically stay for 11 months.  It takes time for them and you to adjust, usually a few months.  She arrived in August and after Christmas, I think she started feeling more at home.  Or was it that new boy she'd met?  Being responsible for someone else's 16 year old daughter when they begin dating is SCARY, let me tell you.
Fast forward 16 years and they are happily married and living in Australia. I hadn't seen their two oldest children in 7 years and had never seen the youngest, she'll be 5 this month.  While my husband was traveling to Mexico and the US, I decided I should go visit.  I AM on the right side of the world these days, but it is still a pretty long flight.  The price was reasonable and Sandy said, "come".  So, I did.  Here's a glimpse of my very fast visit with them.  I played a lot!

 This area is called Lake's Entrance which borders along the Bass Strait.  
We walked over to the beach for a lovely view.  

Another day we drove to Raymond Island and took the ferry across.  
We were hoping to see Koalas and Kangaroo.  

This is a Galah, part of the cockatoo family. Alas, I saw NO KANGAROO, the entire visit!  

 The cute kiddos on a busy afternoon after school.

 My last day there we spent the day in Melbourne. This is an alley of cafes.
 It poured the day we were in Melbourne, which was the day I left.
Little bit was tired out. 
We found the alley of graffiti and took advantage of the photo opportunity.  It was so fun to be with them and HH and I need to go back TOGETHER.  I realized that I need to do a post on a visit to Kyoto.  Sorry about that.  It will be a little out of order.  Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So many photos, so little time

It doesn't help that I LOVE taking photos here and am doing my best to improve.  Today I'm just showing you some random photos from exploring close by.  I have pictures from a Kyoto trip, but that deserves a post all it's own.  My husband and I explored around Nagoya castle in order for him to see the Sakura blossoms a few weeks ago in April.  When you're working all day and getting home in the dark, it's hard to see some of this natural beauty.  Not to even mention that he's out of the country a lot. The Sakura (cherry) were almost finished blooming, but we found a few still going strong in Meijo Park which is next to the castle grounds.  

This guy was getting quite a workout on his bouncy band.  I'm going to try to post a video of it.  

On a different day, a friend and I explored a local shrine that we were walking by called Atsuta Shrine.  The grounds were much larger than we realized and absolutely beautiful.  

 The gardenia trees were HUGE and the ground was covered with blossoms.
I guess you can tell that I love taking pictures of flowers.  I'm in a private FB group for local photographers.  Recently there was a challenge to take pictures of wisteria.  One day, I set out to find some.  Here are a few pictures from that search.  Boy, it sure smells amazing.  
 I just couldn't resist a photo of this cute dog.  He wasn't on a leash and was having the best time.

A very typical scene, here.  

Okay, one more flower excursion.  

 These lovely girls were my exploring companions that day.

And there you have it!  More excursions and more flowers!  Thank you all for sticking around.  I have more to show, I really do!  Have a great weekend.  (It's Thursday here).  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sakura in Yoshino

A week ago, Saturday, we traveled 3 hours by train each way to visit Yoshino which is known for it's beautiful Sakura trees.  It was so beautiful.   We went with my friend Joya who is also an expat, but with the added benefit that she speaks Japanese.  We traveled by Shinkansen (bullet train) and two other trains south of Kyoto to Yoshino.  We thought it might be really busy because it was the height of Sakura bloom season.  Fortunately the weather wasn't very good, so I think the crowds were lower.

We waited until the sun hit the lonely tree on the hillside to capture this picture.  
It glowed in the sunlight.  

It took me a few shots before the bird posed just right for me.

I like mossy stone walls.

Volunteers along the path.

Sakura covered the hill sides.

We were given paper flags when we were leaving because a member of the Royal family (supposedly the Prince) was arriving.  There was a large welcoming crowd and we had to ask what was going on.  Unfortunately he didn't arrive before we left on the train.  If you ever plan on visiting Japan definitely make it in April.  It may be crowded, but it is worth it.


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