Archive - August 2016

Hawkeye Blog August 2016 August 20, 2016

The Middle Rhine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river's banks are lined with charming villages, terraced vineyards and enchanting castles. There are 21 castles along the river side and an additional 19 on mountain tops or in the adjacent valleys, all within an approximate 40-mile stretch of the Rhine. Rheinstein Castle is near the south end of the UNESCO area. The original castle dates back to the late 13th century but fell into ruin in the 17th century. It was restored and rebuilt in the mid-19th century.

Marksburg Castle is the only medieval castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed. It dates back to the 13th century and overlooks the town of Braubach.

Katz Castle is less than a mile away from the famous Loreley statue, representing the mythical beautiful girl whose songs distracted sailors from the danger of the rocks below, causing them to wreck their ships.

Deep in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheidt Delta the Dutch landscape unfurls. Kinderdijk, Holland has 19 18th-century windmills, some of which can be visited.

Keukenhof Gardens, almost 80 acres, has more than 7 million tulips, daffodils & hyacinths bulbs. It is only open 8 weeks of the year but is the most glorious spring garden in the world.

Hawkeye Blog July 2016 August 03, 2016

Tucked away in the eastern Himalayas is perched the charming country of Bhutan. It's about the size of Switzerland and over 70% of its land is forested and inhabited by around 700,000 people. The majority of the Bhutanese practice Tibetan Buddhism and the red robes of monks are seen daily in towns and countryside. Prayer flags are also prevalent. These were on a hill top overlooking Thimpu, the capital of the country.

Yak herding is still seen in high rural areas though it is on the decline. An animal unique to the Himalayas is the takin, the national animal of Bhutan. They can weigh up to 700 pounds and are also called cattle chamois or gnu goat.

There are nearly 400 species of orchids found in this tiny mountainous country. The Bhutanese feel strongly about protecting their environment and carefully choosing how they modernize their country, trying to learn from the mistakes of other countries that rushed into the 21st century with dire consequences.

One of the most famous places in the country is Tiger's Nest, the Buddhist temple complex first built in 1692 on the cliff side of the Paro valley at 10,300 feet.

Hawkeye Blog June 2016 August 03, 2016

Bhaktapur, is the eastern gateway to the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The town dates back to the ninth century. Its many temples were damaged by the earthquake of 2015 but as a whole, they fared better than their counterparts in Kathmandu. Vatsala Devi Temple was originally built in 1696. The bronze Taleju Bell next to it was used to sound curfew and each morning to indicate the goddess Taleju was being worshipped. The triple-roofed Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, a fierce incarnation of Shiva. It survived the earthquake intact. The 1934 earthquake ruined the original Fasidega Temple, also dedicated to Shiva. A modern domed shrine was built atop the base but this was destroyed in the 2015 quake.

Pottery Square is where you may see traditional pottery making: men and women, young and old, each absorbed in creating practical implements for daily use.

Leaving Nepal and flying to Bhutan gives you the wonderful opportunity to see Mt. Everest and its 29,029 feet of glory if the weather cooperates.