our visit to trakai castle
So here we are in summer (supposedly – but let’s not talk about that) in Sydney. And it seems like the Northen Hemisphere has been snowed in of late. Our Facebook newsfeed is filled with photos of places covered in snow. Whether it be because of this winter or previous ones, we can’t be sure… but there are plenty going around. Trakai Castle in Lithuania was one of the ones that we came upon. Such a beautiful castle and even more magical and elegant in snow.
We saw it a couple of summers ago now and it was a stunning blue sky kind-of-day. What we saw and what it looks like at present is no doubt very different.
We do have a fascination with castles… Lured to them when we travel to old countries. Lifestyles of the rich and regal.
Trakai Castle is one of these castles we fell in love with from the outside. There is something so ridiculously “magical” seeing a castle out on an island in the middle of a lake, Lake Galve to be exact.
The castle was built in the 14th Century and was updated in the 19th Century. And no doubt has a colourful history like most castles do.
To reach the castle, we had to walk along a wooden bridge before entering the main gates. Once inside, it is as if we are stepping onto a movie set, half expecting knights or lords or ladies to poke their heads out and jeer at us. Exploring this castle is much like any castle – there’s a left wing, a right wing, Chapels, spiral staircases up into towers or down into dungeons.
Here is David (red top:LEFT) looking around in awe as we sat and appreciated the Chapel and its architecture (and to rest our feet).Back up on our feet, we walk through doorways, and hallways and balconies. Up, down and around….
Artefacts from archeological finds are displayed in the different rooms and we always love looking at things like that. To think how old some of the objects are simply blows our minds. And even more surreal when we are able to stand in the room that the royal families used to sleep in. Who would’ve thought! And it’s not only within the city walls that visitors can explore. We walked around the island outside the city walls.Seeing too many castles whilst visiting Europe can happen but even so, we love visiting them.
So much history, so much intrigue and how humbling that we can catch a glimpse into what life once was like.
the chateau series: amboise
We have been missing in action… a lot has been going on! We’re planning our next trip… FINALLY! We are off to New Zealand in September – but that’s not what this post is about.
Sharing with you the 6th chateau (and third last) in the series:
Majestically located, looking down on the town of Amboise and Loire River, this fortress (or chateau) was a palace during the Renaissance. From the outside, you can clearly see why. It’s location provided security for the royal family (at least when they were staying there).
It allowed great visibility of the dangers below and any incoming threats via the river.
Once inside the grounds, the first thing we visit is St Hubert Chapel – the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci who died in Amboise in May 1519. This small chapel was crowded with visitors and also was a spot for refuge as the rain came down on the day we were there.
Again, as with the other chateaus we have shared – from room to room, we spot the necessary large fireplaces, the token suit of armour(s) and the colourful furniture.
This particular 18th Century chair (with an identical one on the other side of the fire place) caught our attention. The image and colours were just delightful to look at.
This was actually the cavalier ramp designed to allow horses and carriages to reach the towers from the town.
Nowadays, you can’t enter that way, it’s the way to exit the chateau – spiralling all the way from the top to the bottom and spitting us out on the street.
This wasn’t really a memorable chateau for us, it felt a little cold and impersonal. And we felt outside was more of the wow-factor than the inside.
Amboise is approximately 24 km east of Tours and about a 10 minute walk from Clos du Luce
Have you visited Amboise? What did you think of it?
We welcome your comments.
the chateau series: cheverny
To any Tintin fans – this chateau may look a little familiar?? Think about Captain Haddock’s country home, Marlingspike Hall… It is said that Herge (author of Tintin) based the house on this chateau.
This estate has been in the same family for 6 centuries and to this day, is still lived in by the descendants of the Hurault family. They live in a sealed off wing of the chateau while the parts that we can visit are much like the others we have seen.
In this post, we share a little bit of what we found interesting.
The Dining Room is adorned with a silver-plated solid bronze chandelier weighing over 100 kg. It hangs above the table that can extend to seat 30 guests. Don’t want to be sitting under the light should it come down, right?
The arms room is the largest room in the chateau. There are plenty of pieces on display showcasing artwork, furniture, armour and weapons from as far back as the 15th Century. The travelling trunks, shown in these pictures, for example are from the 17th Century.
Let’s not forget the King’s Bedchamber which has an extravagantly decorated canopy and tapestries. These are there to keep the heat in.
The beds were unusually short as during this period, people slept sitting up. Lying down was for the dead.
The grand salon houses the 18th Century harp that is still in perfect working condition. Can you just imagine the sounds this instrument would’ve produced?
The gardens went virtually unexplored by us because we spent a lot of time visiting the kennels. Cheverny is an important hunting venue.
The kennels house approximately a hundred French Hounds which are fed every day around 3pm. This was rather entertaining to watch.
We stand outside high metal fences, peering in to watch the “event”. The keeper lay out the meat as the dogs clamber over one another and growl and bark in the overhead terrace.
Once the side gate is open, the dogs tear down the stairs (left of image) and wait for the keeper’s command to feast. Then it is just frantic.
Those dogs are fierce, we certainly wouldn’t want them chasing us through the estate.
Have you been to Cheverny?
Cheverny is about 80 km east of Tours.
malta through our eyes: a photo essay
It’s been a LOOOOONG time since we were in Malta, 9 years to be precise.
It was a last minute add-on for our trip to Europe, tossing up between Malta and Morocco and we chose Malta.
And were we happy with our choice? Most definitely! It’s another country we want to go back to.
Malta was such a little surprise package and today we were just reminiscing about it. Subsequently, a little photo essay ensued to be shared. Hope you enjoy it!
Have you been to Malta? Tell us about it!
Please feel free to leave us a comment.