On the most south-westerly point of Australia, stands a grand and captivating structure – the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – still fully operational, and one that has reduced the number of shipwrecks from 22 before its time, to only 1 since it was built in 1895. Constructed of limestone, this 176 steps ascent brings us over 31metres above ground, and boasts views of where two oceans meet.
An amazing fact I’d gathered was that the lighthouse ran on a clockwork mechanism and kerosene burner until 1982, when electricity was introduced to its operations. How does it feel to be left in a corner of the world and forgotten despite all that progress?!
Nothing stops a history buff from visiting a Shipwreck Museum. Situated in Fremantle, the Western Australia Museum – Shipwreck Galleries is a must-visit (between the beers and all). The museum houses relics from all kinds of wrecks that occurred along the Western Australia coastline (that explains Hamelin Bay too) and countless artefacts from the various Dutch ships.
Glass fragments, mints and even grenades from various shipwrecks have been documented here. I spent a good bulk of time at the galleries reading up on the archaeology, myths and tales of the past.
If that cannot satisfy your thirst for historical knowledge, just a few stops away, one can find the Western Australian Maritime Museum perched close to the ocean, holding the past and present of Fremantle’s tale within.
I didn’t have enough time to walk through the entire museum, but one attraction you might consider would be the HMAS Ovens tour, where you can take a walking tour inside the submarine parked just behind the building and learn all about its intricacies.
It’s a small town – Fremantle – but I’m sure I’ll be back to finish up my tour of the museum…
I took a hike to Hamelin Bay one afternoon, and took in the fresh breeze by the sea. It wasn’t quite the place you would visit in Autumn, but I did anyway.
The colours were foreboding, as I arrived close to sunset, and that was where I’d learned about the notorious history of wrecks on this bay. The remnants of the original jetty stand against the winds and waves as I approached.
There I met a friend who had the same taste as I did with the sea breeze –
A short break brought me to a set of caves within the Margaret River region. I cannot be sure what fascinates me more, the shadows in the dancing darkness, or the flickering lights that bounce of the stalactites.
The region has several caves, of which I chose to take a walk at the Mammoth Cave – a self-guided trip into the unknown – but still safe, nonetheless.
The beauty of the Mammoth Cave lies in the amount of knowledge you can pick up – from the evolution of geographical spaces, to the extinction of megafauna that were far superior than what we see today.
I took a turn to another cave nearby, the Lake Cave, and was intrigued to learn the impact of human touch on the formations (I won’t spoil the fun for you – head to Perth and find out on your own!)
To get to the bottom of Lake Caves, you’ve got to take a challenging 350 steps in, and as you look up, don’t be surprised by the little white cob webs that cling to the surface of the rocks. I can only rave about the beauty of the lake caves – the sound of water trickling and echoing in the depths, forming new shapes and wonders of the world.
There’s a good other few caves you can visit, such as the Ngilgi Cave set in the bushes, and the highly-promoted (which was perhaps why I chose to skip it) Jewel Cave.
Either ways, the silence in the caves were a great way for me to relax and think about life.
On a business trip one day, I was stuck in countless meetings that sucked away the hours while the beautiful view outside slipped by…
By some stroke of luck, I had managed to free up the next half of the day, and had the opportunity to take a walk around the area. The first stop I’d chosen was the Musee de la Castre, located atop the hill of Suquet in Cannes.
I took a little stroll uphill to get to a ancient castle building, much of which I was told, were ruins as it had once been ordered to be destroyed by the Bishop of Grasse. I had never imagined that there could be a view of this town so beautiful…
The museum housed various collections ranging from primitive arts (seemingly from Middle East or Asia), and landscape paintings from the Provence region. But this wasn’t the only reason to visit the museum. Its gardens and yard were amazing as well. Around the area you could find evidence of the past, but what caught my attention – which I nearly missed, so if you’re there, make sure to keep your eyes peeled – was the watchtower that you would come up to after the painting collection. Interestingly the Watchtower lasted until the 11th century, acting as a defensive redoubt against enemy attacks. It later became a seigniorial prison. It takes about 109 steps to get to the top of the tower, but I could vouch with its amazing 360 view, that you will never regret climbing the spiral.
I had unfortunately missed the ship out to the Lérins Islands. The Île de Sainte-Marguerite would show an interesting site of the Fort Royal, and the Île Saint-Honorat where a monastery spans across the woodlands. These would perhaps be reasons for more efficient meetings when I’m back in Cannes!
Typical of a visitor to The Netherlands, I thought it was necessary to visit a fishing village of this famous trading nation. What better place to visit than Volendam?
Volendam sits in North Holland, with many old fishing boats and where the town still boasts of inhabitants who wear traditional Dutch costumes. There is a small museum at Volendam that features the costumes and history of the town. I was however, attracted to the cheese shop and its demonstration at the basement!
I later headed to check out the historic windmills of the Netherlands, at Zaanse Schans. The windmills are each named and process different items – there are sawmills, oilmills among many others.
There was so much to look at in each place, I wished I had more time at each location! Next time when I stopover in the Netherlands, I’ll be sure to extend my stay!
The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam was one of the best parts of my trip to The Netherlands.
Located off the centre of Amsterdam, the National Maritime Museum sat at the old harbour and is housed in a former naval storehouse. Dedicated to the maritime history of the Netherlands, museum told several stories of voyages, life on ships, and even has a replica of the Amsterdam vessel berthed outside! You can get on the ship to check out the quarters too!
The museum has four wings, each dedicated to a different experience related to the maritime history of the Netherlands. It was a wonderful experience for me, and the once-architectural wonder of building it on an artificial island in the harbour captivates me. Even though it isn’t widely promoted as a tourist place and not exactly along the tourist bus routes, don’t miss a visit to the Het Scheepvaartmuseum!
I stopped by Amsterdam briefly during the very same trip to France and Germany, and to my delight, I saw a huge variety of Dutch cheese all around!
But of course, typical of my travels, I decide to spend a fair bit of time at the Museum quarter of Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum (State Museum), which had been recently renovated, showed an impressive collection of the nation’s famous works. It houses the popular Dutch Delftware, artefacts, paintings, fashion evolution and more.
But the museum’s collections wasn’t the only impressive thing – its outdoors were equally beautiful. The gardens had various sculptures that told a story of its own. I liked the cold natural air and preferred to take my breaks outside.
Within the vicinity was also the Van Gogh Museum, where one could admire the Dutch Master’s artworks as well as that of his contemporaries! I took a brief visit there; but again, in part due to time constraint and in part out of disinterest, I had to skip the nearby Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art.
Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with its major museums housed there, is definitely a must-visit for the art lovers! Just a note – there is also a Hermitage in Amsterdam; in my opinion, not comparable to the actual one in Russia, but out of ease of traveling and if you really wish to look at the Russian and French arts, drop by the one in Amsterdam! And for the history folks, keep a look out on my next post about the maritime museum!
A friend took me to visit the out-of-the-way Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) when I was in Frankfurt. The medieval castle sits on the hills above the Moselle River, and is not easily accessible unless you’ve planned your driving route carefully. Interestingly, it is one shared by three families’ joint heirs. So yes, that means the folks who own it still visit and live there.
There are three branches to the castle, of which two are open for public visit. The treasures of weaponry and accessories are also on display. Tours come in German and English. The tours disallow photo-taking, but I’m sure you will enjoy learning from their knowledgeable guides about how the medieval baths and kitchens were!
It isn’t so much the grandeur of the castle that attracts my attention, and not so much the history of the families; rather, its fortified walls and how it has never been destroyed brings much interest to its existence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a castle to pass on for generations!
After my trip to Paris some months ago, I took a stop at Cologne and Frankfurt. At Cologne, I stopped by the famous Cologne Cathedral, dated back to the medieval times. It stands across the Rhine and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996.
Apart from the amazing architecture, you can get to the top of the cathedral via a spiral staircase of 509 steps. But beware, it’s a crazily tight space where those ascending and descending share that limited air and winding route!
As you walk to larger platform, you’ll see a one-way route heading further up the cathedral. Take a break before continuing!
As you reach the top, you’ll get to see viewing platform that offers wonderful views of part of the Cathedral’s architecture as well as the Rhine.
After heading all the way up to the viewing platform, I was exhausted and time was running short. I had to take my leave, and regretfully I had not had the time to look at check out the cathedral’s treasures and bells. That shall be reserved for yet another visit to Cologne!