Gardens of Augustus, Capri, Italy

With steep cliffs rising majestically from shimmering, turquoise blue waters, it is difficult to surpass the beauty of Capri!  Located in the Bay of Naples, Capri is well known for it’s magnificent views, as well as being a playground for the rich and famous.  Although there are many designer shops and fabulous restaurants and hotels, the incredible natural beauty of this island is what lures thousands of visitors to visit each year.

For our brief visit, we took a funicular up to the Piazzetta, or main square, where you will find numerous shops and restaurants.  A fifteen minute walk through the Piazzetta will lead you to the Gardens of Augustus, the idyllic terraced garden that provides sweeping panoramic views of the stunning cliffs below.

 

 

 

Originally, known as Krupp Gardens, named for the German industrialist who established them, the Gardens of Augustus are beautifully landscaped featuring bouquets of geraniums, dahlias and pansies.  The beautiful flowering gardens offers a perfect compliment for the numerous statues displayed there.   



Even more amazing than the gardens are the fabulous views of the bay of Marina Piccola and the Faraglioni.

The Faraglioni, three towering limestone rock formations just of the coast of Capri, tower approximately  100 meters above the azure sea.  The formations are named Stella, Faraglione di Mezza and Faraglione di Fuori or Scopolo.   Stella is closest to the shore.  Mezzo is the smallest and has the famous stone archway, which is large enough to pass through in a small boat.  Scopolo is home to the blue lizard, which can be found no other place in the world. The unique blue color of this lizard most likely developed to camouflage it in the surrounding turquoise water and sky.  

If you have the time, I would definitely recommend a boat tour that takes you past  the Faraglioni and visits the famous Blue Grotto.

After spending some time admiring the incredible views from the gardens, we wandered the lovely, flower lined streets of Capri and stopped at one of the numerous restaurants to enjoy a Cappuccino.

Our time in Capri came to an end all too soon.  I would have loved to have had at least a full day on this magnificent island, preferably a week……a month!

However, as we only had one day on the Amalfi Coast, ( not near enough ) we were wisked away to Sorrento for lunch and then a the fascinating Pompei!

If you have had the opportunity to visit the amazing island of Capri, I would love to hear about your experience!  As for me, it’s Arrivederci until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Azores – A Gem in the Atlantic

If you can imagine a paradise off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean then you are dreaming of The Azores!  This archipelago of nine islands formed from volcanic eruptions is one of the most incredibly beautiful and unspoiled spots I have ever visited.

The Azores, Portugal

The largest of these islands is Sao Miguel, home to Ponta Delgado, capital of this sublimely beautiful group of islands.  After five full days crossing the Atlantic Ocean on our Royal Caribbean Cruise, you can only imagine how thrilled we were to be approaching land….and what a delilght this spot turned out to be!  

Ponta Delgado, Azores

We awoke before dawn to get our first breathtaking view of the magnificent Azores and the port of Ponta Delgado.  The city stretches along the beautiful bay, with numerous churches and houses sprawling on the gently sloping hills.  The black and white color scheme of the buildings adds a relaxing harmony.

Sao Miguel Island, Azores

As we stepped off the ship to explore the city, the air was fresh and cool, definitely cool enough for a jacket or sweater.  If felt divine!  The first thing we did was to hop on an open air double decker bus to take a quick tour of Ponta Delgado.  I was captivated by the lush, green foliage and colorful flowers.  No wonder this island is known as the “Green Island.”

Sao Miguel Island, Azores

After our quick tour of the city, we took a bus tour up the mountain to Sete Cidades and the two crater lakes.  It was as if we were headed into the clouds surrounded by a tropical paradise. 

Sao Nicolau Church, Cete Cidadas, Azores

Our first stop was to view the charming Sao Nicolau Church built of white stone with black trim in Neoclassical style and featuring Gothic windows.  The cobblestone path that leads to the entrance of the cathedral is lined with tall pines that creates a very picturesque welcoming.  The church was built in 1758 after an older medieval church had been destroyed by fire.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Azores

After a quick stop at the church, we continued our journey to the twin crater lakes.  The folklore is that two star-crossed lovers could not be together and each lake was formed from their tears, one being green and one blue.  Of course, the reality of this is that one lake is deeper than the other.  The day we were there was quite overcast, so both lakes appeared green.  However, it was still an amazing and incredible site to behold.  

Lagoa das Cete Cidades, Azores

It is possible to either spend the day kayaking or to hike around the lakes.  If time had allowed, I would absolutely have spent more of the day enjoying the incredible beauty of the twin lakes. 

Sao Miguel Island, Azores

             The fresh, unspoiled beauty of Sao Miguel Island left me longing to spend more time exploring the wonders of this magnificent place.  There is so much more to see and experience on this tranquil island of vibrant colors.  It is definitely a nature lovers paradise. 

While visiting The Azores may have once been almost unheard of, some airlines are now offering flights into Ponta Delgado Airport.  SATA International, the Azores own airline, offers limited direct flights from Boston, Massachusetts and Delta Airlines is now offering flights from New York City.  I am currently researching the possibility of returning to this incredible destination!

But for now, I will be continuing my saga of our glorious cruise across the Atlantic!

Thank you for stopping!  – Gerri

Getting Garden Ready

It seems that Mother Nature just cannot make up her mind!  We have had some perfectly lovely days, but suddenly the rains came through and once again it is cold and damp.
Every time I think Spring is here to stay, another cold blast of winter comes barreling through.  I know that I have no reason to complain as there are places that are still getting snow!  ( I’m so very sorry. )

Whether it’s cold and grey where you are or if your fortunate and the sun is shining bright, we are all thinking about the same thing…..warm, sunny days and flowers in the garden.   So, today I thought I would share some photos of springs past. 

Last May, I attended the beautiful garden wedding of my niece.
As always, I was captivated by the beauty of the garden ( and the beauty of the bride) and captured a few photos to store away for savoring on grey days like today.  


It was a small garden with lots of potted plants and fountains creating the perfect ambiance for a beautiful Spring wedding.

The bride and groom exchanged their vows before this wall of potted ivory, and you can just image how perfect it was. ( I guess I’m a bit of a romantic at heart.)

I’ve always loved a garden wedding.  They seem so cheery and bright.  

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

Have faith, in no time at all, we will all be singing in the sun.  Blessings – Gerri 

Photo Challenge – A Favorite Place

How do you choose one favorite place?  I have so many “favorite spots.”  Some of those places I’ve only visited once, maybe twice, fell in love with them, but have not had to opportunity to return.  There are other places I love and return to them as often as I can

As much as I love to travel, when I saw the weekly photo challenge for a “Favorite Place,” my heart turned close to home.  This lovely pond is about a half mile from our home where my husband and I walk our sweet Bear almost everyday, no matter what the weather.

When we visit, we often see turtles basking in the sun and it is also a favorite spot for ducks, egrets and we recently saw a blue heron.  There are some huge coi that we feed tortillas and they will come to the surface so you see how big the are. 

It’s a favorite place for photographers, and it’s a lovely spot for photo ops to mark those special occasions in life!

But the best part of all is it’s the perfect sanctuary to escape the stress that comes in our busy world.  It’s peaceful and serene, a great place to meditate, read a book, or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance. 

 Hope you’ve enjoyed this walk around my favorite place.  Blessings to all.  – Gerri

 

Today Anything is Possible!

Let your joy burst forth like flowers in Spring!

Spring is a time of new beginnings!  The earth is bursting with colorful flowers and the trees are budding out, showing off their new green color.  The birds are singing their most glorious song and the sky is as blue as the sparkling color of the ocean seas.

  It seems that nature is celebrating the return of warmer days with it’s burst of glorious beauty!

He has made everything beautiful in it’s time.   

– Ecclesiates 3:11

Spring makes me feel like anything is possible.  The increased light and the warmer air encourages me to get outside more, work in my garden, go for long walks, and just take in the glories of nature.  It’s finally time to shake off those winter blues and feel the joy that arrives with spring.   

Spring is a time of celebration! It’s the time to kick off your shoes and run barefoot through the dew sparkled grass.  It’s a time to gather with friends and family for picnics in the garden and cooking on the grill.  It’s a time for planting and starting with new beginnings.

For nothing will be impossible with God.  -Luke 1.37

My hope for you for today is that you will relish in the glories of spring and lift your eyes in thanks for the beauty of this day.

Wishing you blessings today and everyday.  – Gerri

Spring is Upon Us in Tapatio Springs

Fall may come late to Texas, but Spring typically arrives early and we are thrilled with the warmer temperatures and blue skies!  My husband and I have just returned from our semi-annual trip to Lubbock to visit our daughter.  After a fabulous visit with her sweet family, we headed over to  Boerne, in the Texas Hill Country,  to see my brother-in-law and his lovely wife.  After what seemed like a rather frigid winter, ( at least for Southeast Texas )  it was perfect time of year to schedule a little getaway and enjoy the warming temperatures.

The drive through central Texas was fabulous with rolling hills and so green after all the rains.  Although the trees were still mostly bare and brown, there were some Flowering Pear and Redbud trees scattered along the roadside that signify in Texas that Spring is truly on it’s way!  

Visiting the Texas Hill Country is always a delight for me.  I have been captivated by it’s rustic beauty ever since I was young and I always look forward to returning for a visit.  The rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees never fail to soothe my soul and allow me to wallow in the joys of nature.  

Of course, while visiting in Boerne, my husband had to play a round of golf at the amazing Tapatio Springs Golf Course.  Tapatio Springs is on 220 acres in the heart of the hill country.  Several years ago an investment group which includes country music star George Strait purchased the resort community and have been making improvements on the property ever since.  You can read more about Tapatio Springs here.  Sadly, the newly renovated club house burned to the ground in early November, but the golf course and other facilities are open and they will be rebuilding the club house in time.

Although I’m not much of a golfer, I do enjoy riding in the cart and taking in the beauty of Tapatio Springs.  I always take my camera along with me so I can snap a few shots of the lovely golf course and the amazing homes surrounding it.  

To Create Sunshine Tapatio Springs, Texas Hill Country
View from the golf course of Tapatio Springs.

A visit to the Texas Hill Country never disappoints me.  There is so much to see and do in this region of the country.  The Hill Country has something for everyone from antiquing in one of the charming towns such as Fredericksburg, to enjoying the music scene in Austin, or taking in the beauty of one of the many rivers that meanders through the rustic, rolling hills such as the Guadelupe or the Comal.  

As always with out visits to the Hill Country, too soon it was time to make out way back to our home in Cypress, but I look forward to another visit to the amazing Texas Hill Country soon!

Sending many blessings your way today! – Gerri

What’s Up in the Garden

A change of season always brings excitement!  After weeks of grey, cloudy skies the slightly warmer weather definitely has me yearning for Spring!

This past week, in between the scattered raindrops, RH and I have been observing the damage to our garden from the hard freeze.  In southeast Texas, we usually have fairly mild winters.  This year was different.  Temperatures dropped below freezing and stayed there for a couple of days.  Our somewhat tropical garden took quite a beating.  Although all potted plants were stored safely in the garage and we covered the plants that we knew would struggle in a freeze, the cold weather really took a toll on our previously lovely garden.  ( I do realize there are places in the world that would delight in our mild winters and are probably chuckling at our gardening woes.  We are a bit spoiled in this region! )

While I did enjoy the cooler temperatures, it was so nice to see highs peeking into the seventies this week, although we are still being inundated with lots of rain and grey skies.  My husband is truly the passionate gardener, and he has begun trimming away and hauling off branches filled with ugly, dead leaves.  After surveying the bleakness of our garden, we ran out and purchased a few Daylilies and Lavender in an attempt to bring some life back into the space.  I know that the Daylilies will thrive as they love our hot and humid climate.  However after purchasing the Lavender I learned that they prefer a less humid climate.  Well, I do love Lavender so I want to at least make an attempt. We shall have to wait and see.

Everyday day, with sweet Bear close on my heals, I walk around the garden searching for bits of green sprouting through.  The tulips I planted last Fall are slowly pushing through the ground and I can see bits of green around our Mexican Heather. However, I’m afraid it’s going to be a long, slow process though.

To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow.

– Audrey Hepburn

The garden is my place of delight, peace and contentment.  I look to my garden to be a retreat from the busyness of the day.  A special place to relax, enjoy and simply breathe.  However, as with most things worthwhile, gardening is a process.  So for now, I will simply wait, nurture and believe in tomorrow.  

Wishing you blessings as we await Spring. – Gerri

**The photos shown in this post are from last summer’s garden. Hopefully, I will have new photo’s for you soon.


This Crazy Texas Weather!

There is an old saying in Texas that goes….

“If you don’t like the weather, just wait about fifteen minutes!!”

Our crazy Texas weather has definitely been all over the map this year.  We have come from the torrential and devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey, to a Fall season of anticipating cooler weather that just didn’t happen.  Then, suddenly temperatures dropped and low and behold we had a surprising early December snow! 

Now that it’s January, we have had an unbelievable second snow!  This time the temperatures dropped into the teens and we did not reach above freezing for three days!  This is quite unusual for Cypress!  I guess my secret wish came true! 

A typical January day in Cypress would be much like today, a sky of blue,  full of bright sunshine and hardly a cloud to be found.  We’re expecting a high in the mid sixties which is quite normal for this time of year.

However, last week we were huddled around the fireplace as the temperatures dropped below freezing and the city virtual came to a stop as schools closed and people were encouraged by the mayor to stay off the roads.  I know you might laugh at this if you live in the north, but this is really exceptional for south Texas.  Our city is not prepared to handle ice and those crazy drivers need to stay off the roads!

Although I have to say, I’m enjoying the return to normal temperatures, I did love the splash of cold and snow.  It was lovely to look at and wasn’t too bad for a winter walk if you bundled up!

I was surprised to find this bit of green palm frond among all the cold and snow!

Well, for now temperatures have returned to normal for us.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day and I won’t have to bundle up for my walk later!  However, come August when temperature are soaring into the nineties, I will be treasuring remember these memories of snow days and hoping they will come again.  

Wishing you many blessings today – Gerri 

 

A Magical Morning

It’s a rarity to have snow in Cypress, and when it happens it’s beautiful and amazing no matter how quickly it passes. 

It was around midnight when I peered out my front window on the night of the great snow.  I was mesmerized by the beauty of the falling flakes.  When I realized the snow was actually sticking to the ground, I grabbed my jacket and boots to step outside my home to capture a few images while I could.  I knew the magical white covering wouldn’t last for long, and wasn’t sure if it would still be there when I awoke in the morning.

 

 

All night long I awoke every couple of hours to see if the snow was still there.  The next morning I was thrilled to see the snow still on the ground.  Again, I donned my boots and jacket and immediately headed to the pond to be amazed by the beauty.  No coffee needed this morning, as I was so excited to see the snow.  

The brief walk to the pond was amazing as the snow clung to the trees, bushes and rooftops.  Perhaps a half an inch of snow left a beautiful white blanket on the lawns. 

 

 

When I arrived at the pond, the beauty did not disappoint.  Although there was not much snow on the ground, the trees were resplendent with white.  The mix of fall colors with the new fallen snow made the scene all the more glorious. 

 However, even as I walked around trying to capture every bit of the sublime beauty, the snow was dropping from the branches of the trees.  I knew it would not last for long.

 

 

By the end of the day, there were only sparse lingering patches of snow on a few rooftop corners that hadn’t gotten much sun on this heavenly day.  As quickly as it appeared, the snow faded away leaving only a hope that perhaps if conditions are just right it will come again sometime.

In a year of catastrophic hurricanes, devastating fires, and destructive earthquakes God has graced us with a brief moment of wondrous beauty of nature.  It’s fleeting passing reminds us to savor each precious moment of it’s glory.  

As the resplendent colors of fall fade into the often dreariness of winter days, there is still beauty to be found in a bright, clear day filled with sunlight, or the beads of ice on shrubs and branches that glimmer like crystal.

If you truly love Nature, you’ll find beauty everywhere.

 – Vincent Van Gogh

Chacchoben Ruins, Costa Maya

If you are a lover of nature and history, the Chacchoben Ruins are surely not to be missed!  Located about 100 miles from the Costa Maya port, south of Cozamel,  these three excavated pyramids are surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle filled with an amazing variety of trees and plants.

You can follow a well maintained circular path that leads you to these ancient structures, while a guide gives you a wealth of information about the Mayans ancient religion and customs.  You cannot climb the pyramids, but there are stairs to climb to a raised area with a very impressive view of the area below.

Truly, I was as fascinated by the beauty of the massive trees and lush jungle as I was by the ancient pyramids.  The Spanish moss and Palm trees not only offer inviting shade, but also enhance the majesty of the pyramids.  The combination of nature and history creates an awe inspiring harmony that leads you to imagine what life would have been like for the Mayan civilization of so long ago.  

I think I would have been content to just wonder the path and relish in the magnificence of this amazing, tropical, jungle.  I am not aware of the age of some of these trees, but by the size of the trunks, I would think they had been there quite awhile.

If you choose to visit these amazing ruins, remember you are in a jungle and you might want some bug repellent for the mosquitoes.  There is some walking involved, and I think it would be rather warm and humid in the heat of summer.   Our visit was in October, and while there were a few mosquitoes, I found the weather to be fairly comfortable.  

Being an avid nature lover, history buff and photography fan, this magnificent archeological site turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.  

“Wherever you go, Go with all your heart.”   –   Confucius

Hope you all have the opportunity to satisfy an adventurous spirit.  –  xxoo Gerri