Friday Weekend Escape to Adelaide: The River Torrens

We’re returning to Adelaide in South Australia and escaping for the weekend to the River Torrens. The river flows from the Adelaide Hills on the eastern side of Adelaide, through the city to empty into Gulf St Vincent.

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The Riverside Precinct of the River Torrens is in the heart of the city and close to amenities, including the Adelaide Oval.

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The footbridge in central Adelaide is home to the romantic Love Padlocks. Couples can fix a padlock to the bridge railing. They can include their initials, names, date and a message on the padlock before tossing the key into the river.

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Popeye recreational boats cruise along the river and under the City Arch Bridge of King William Road to Adelaide Zoo. It’s lovely to walk along the river bank and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

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My last visit to Adelaide holds special memories because I saw my debut book, Falling for the Farmer, for the first time on the shelf of a book store in Adelaide.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our weekend escapes to Adelaide. Next week we’re returning to Sydney, Australia, and the setting for Winning Over the Heiress, my February 2015 release. Have a great weekend and Happy Australia Day!

Friday Weekend Escape to Adelaide, Australia: The City of Churches

This week I’ve celebrated my wedding anniversary. It only seemed fitting that I continue the wedding theme and we return to Adelaide in South Australia, also known as the city of churches.

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River Torrens in Adelaide, South Australia

Our first stop is St. Peters Anglican Cathedral in the heart of Adelaide. I love visiting old churches and cathedrals. There’s something about the quiet and peace in the ornate sanctuaries that brings a reflective smile to my lips.

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The architecture is magnificent and the sheer size of the building is hard to capture in a single photo.

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Our next stop is The Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier, also in the Adelaide city precinct.

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Another majestic building that’s hard to capture in one photo.

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 I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to the cathedrals. Next Friday we’re going to take a stroll along the River Torrens. Have a great weekend!

Friday Weekend Escape to Adelaide, Australia: The Historic Adelaide Oval

It’s our first Friday Weekend Escape for 2015, and this weekend we’re escaping to the picturesque city of Adelaide in South Australia.

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Our first stop is the historic Adelaide Oval, located on the River Torrens in the city.

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My husband and I spent the day with my reader friend, Jenny, and she played tour guide by showing us around her home city.

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Adelaide Oval is the home of cricket in the summer and AFL during the winter months.

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It’s summer in Australia and the Adelaide Oval is on my travel wish list to visit during the cricket season. The photos  above were taken last year during the AFL football season.

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Hubby and I are looking up at the Sir Donald Bradman Pavillion. Don Bradman was a legendary Aussie cricketer and we visited The Bradman Collection at the Adelaide Oval. Originally from New South Wales (NSW), Don Bradman played the latter part of his cricketing career for South Australia. We’ve also visited the International Cricket Hall of Fame (previously known as the Bradman Museum) in Bowral, NSW, in Don Bradman’s home town.

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 I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to the Adelaide Oval. Next Friday we’re going to see a couple of cathedrals and discover why Adelaide is known as being a ‘city of churches’. Have a great weekend!

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Winter)

 by Marion Ueckermann

How good it’s been to be in Budapest again these past five days and to show my husband, Noel, the sights of this beautiful city. A city of lights, of statues, of amazing architecture, of incredible interiors, of history, of culture, of tempting aromas, and of fun. Truly a fascinating city offering far more than I had ever imagined. Go right now and put a visit to Budapest on your bucket list—you won’t be sorry.

City of Lights: Christmas lights line the city streets, aging buildings, and trams, while spotlights illuminate amazing architecture, bridges, and statues.

1 City of Lights

City of Statues: Heroes, Heroines, Saints, and Kings are forever entombed in a brazen hue.

2 City of Statues

2b City of Statues

City of Amazing Architecture: Castles, Chapels, Basilicas, Hotels, Houses of Parliament, Synagogues, Museums, Stations … they all feature exquisite craftsmanship.

3 Amazing Architecture

City of Incredible InteriorsAlmost every building you enter, whether it be a coffee shop, hotel or basilica has a unique interior. Of special fascination are the roofs. You would have seen some of those from the Basilica photos in last week’s blog. The interior below is from a wonderful coffee shop called Lotz Bookcafe where we each had a speciality hot chocolate…which was literally like drinking melted chocolate.

4 Interiors

City of History: Budapest is a city filled with history but what intrigued me most was the amount of Jewish history. Not surprising though as, prior to the holocaust, Hungary had the largest population of Jews outside of Israel. A huge percentage of these were murdered during the holocaust. Many memorials to the victims have been erected. We saw the mass graves at the Great Synagogue. The thing that touched me most though was the Shoe Statues along the Danube River. During the holocaust, Jews were lined up beside the river, told to take their shoes off, and then shot. Their bodies would be swallowed up by the river below.

5 - Statues 1

5 - Statues 2

City of Culture: Opera is huge in Budapest and very affordable (depending where you sit, of course). The Nutcracker was showing this past week but unfortunately tickets were sold out. We were fortunate though when we visited the Basilica to have an orchestra playing live there.

6 Culture

City of Tempting Aromas: Budapest is alive with aromas. Two of my best were the Chimney Cakes sprinkled with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, almond, cinnamon, walnut, and hot mulled wine in a variety of fruity flavors. Another tempting aroma was chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

7 Tempting Aromas

City of Fun: Christmas markets, an ice rink in the park, Ferris wheel, Segway city tours, Horse drawn carriage rides, Danube River cruises…just a few of the fun things to see and do.

8 Fun Christmas markets

8a Fun Ferris Wheel

A Fascinating City: Budapest is simply fascinating. We went to the Invisible Exhibition where we saw…nothing. For one hour we went about blind as we lived the life of a blind person. We felt our way in pitch darkness through a virtual apartment, then out into the “street” to the market to get fruit. After that we walked through a forest to a woodcutter’s cottage, then to a museum and finally a pub where we ate chocolate and drank a coldrink (if we had coins with which to pay). And of course, our guide was…a blind person. It was a real eye-opener into the world of the visually impaired.

Another fascinating concept we were introduced to was the ruin bars. We visited the most famous one, Szimpla. All over the city, ruined buildings have been “renovated” to be used as bars. As you can see, the ruined look is very much part of the theme of this enormous multi-level, multi-roomed city bar where nothing goes to waste. Bicycle tyres are used for tables, and carrots are sold and served by the bunches instead of peanuts.

Ruin Bars 3

Ruin Bars1

Today, as you read this blog, I’ll be making my way from Helsinki to Lapland, home of Santa Claus. There’s still so much Noel and I want to still see and experience in beautiful Budapest. The fascinating sweet shop I wrote of in my blog last week, the chocolate shop, the drinking chocolate bar, the Peanut Bar (which is actually called “For Sale”), the Turkish Baths, Buda Castle, the Great Market … Thankfully we’ll be back shortly after New Year and we can finish what we started last week—discovering as much as we can of this amazing city.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Summer)

By Marion Ueckermann

1 Budapest -Heroes Square

For weeks I’ve been singing the Budapest song by George Ezra. My heart’s in Budapest…na, na, a doobie doo. The first two lines were all I knew for quite some time (and I’ve discovered incorrectly too). The closer today has come, the more I’ve learnt of the song. Heart is actually house, and doobie doo is actually I’d lose it all.

I’m so excited! Tonight I wing my way up the continent of Africa, and after a brief stop-over in Doha, Qatar, it’ll be only a few more hours until my husband and I land in Budapest. But the Budapest that waits will be very different from the one we visited for a few hours in the summer of 2012. No doubt, the snow covered city (please let there be snow…apparently they’re experiencing a warm winter) will be equally as fascinating, and even more beautiful.

After we had experienced our summer cottage vacation in Finland some thirty months ago, we flew to Budapest where we caught a bus to Romania and spent a week helping to build houses for the Romanian gypsies. But that’s a story for another blog. On the way back to Finland for our long-haul flight home to South Africa, we had a layover of several hours in Budapest. While my hubby stayed at the airport to look after our luggage (he had a sore leg and didn’t want to go sight-seeing), my son, Kyle, his wife, Tiia, and I caught the bus and train into the city center along with two of their missionary friends, Samuel and Sara. I’m so glad we did—not only was it such a beautiful city to see, but it was that visit that drew Kyle and Tiia to set up their office for Re-birth in Budapest.

It is said that Budapest and Prague are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe because they were not damaged by the wars.

Here are some places we saw (unfortunately I don’t know the names of many of the places, but perhaps I’ll get to know some of them on this trip).

The statues on the buildings were fascinating…magnificent works of art.

2 Budapest - Statues

3 Budapest - Statues

I loved the intricate lamp posts, curved streets and paved alleyways.

4 Budapest - Lamps and alleys

This is the beautiful University that my daughter-in-law attended.

5 Budapest - University

A fruit shop, flower shop and pharmacy (yes, that’s what that strange word means).

6 Budapest - Shops

From the moment you spot its spires in the distance, St. Stephen’s Basilica has you spellbound.

7 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - outside

The artwork of this cathedral is breathtaking—from the large mosaic paved area that greets you outside, to the carvings, sculptures, paintings and pipe organ inside.

8 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - artwork

One cannot help but stand and stare in awe once inside St. Stephen’s Basilica. The craftsmanship of the architecture and all the trimmings surrounding that is almost inconceivable. It’s simply, beautiful.

9 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - inside

In one part of the outer area, colorful stained glass windows let light into the room that houses them.

10 Budapest - Stained glass windows

They’re so exquisite that one almost doesn’t notice the strange phenomenon in the room their beauty brightens.

11 Budpaest - Stephen's hand

Inside this glass reliquary lies the right hand of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, in whose honor the basilica is named.

In closing, what would this blog post be if I didn’t post a picture of the famous Danube River. Da-da-da-da-da, la-la la-la… What is it about this city that makes me want to sing all the time?

12 Budapest - Danube River

I trust that you’ve enjoyed taking an escape with me to beautiful Budapest. I am so looking forward to visiting the following places that my son and daughter-in-law have discovered during the time they’ve been living in Budapest: the colorful sweet shop; this death-by-chocolate coffee shop—Noir ChocoBar; the outdoor ice-rink in the city park; and the love lock park at Erzsébet square. Here couples inscribe a lock with their names. The lock is chained alongside a myriad of other locks and then the couples walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river.

13 Budapest - Things to do

I plan to visit one of the 80 geothermal springs (medicinal baths) in Budapest this coming week so hopefully I’ll have some photos of those to show in next week’s blog – Winter Budapest.

14 Budapest - Heroes Square K&T

But more than all the awesomeness the beautiful city of Budapest has to offer, I’m looking forward to seeing this beloved sight tomorrow – my son and his wife (who are also my cover models for Helsinki Sunrise).

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Pokhara, Nepal with Melissa Gijsbers

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my Aussie author friend, Melissa Gijsbers, to Nepal. Melissa is sharing her memories of Pokhara, where she lived for a few years when she was younger. Enjoy!

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I haven’t been there for nearly 30 years, but join me on an escape to Pokhara in Nepal. I would like to take you on a tour of the places I remember most.

First stop on our tour is the place we used to live. Back then, it was a two-bedroom, single storey, unfinished house. I shared a bedroom with my three siblings. We would play on the roof and have BBQs with buffalo steak that had been marinaded overnight to help it be tender enough to eat!

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The house may have been small, but there were spectacular views, especially from the outside toilet!

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Down the road in one direction, it will take you to the “Shining School”, the two room primary school where I was a student. It is also the school mentioned in Swallow Me, NOW! as Sam’s favourite primary school.

shiningschool

Going in the other direction from the house, you will end up at the bazaar. You can buy all sorts of things from little shops and carts. I used to go there with my mum. Doing the weekly shopping in Pokhara was different than going to the supermarket here in Melbourne!

bazaar

It has been a long time since I’ve been to Pokhara. My parents went back earlier this year and told us it has changed a lot. The house we lived in has been finished but the bazaar is still there.

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All Sam wants to do is to fit in at her new school.
Feeling alone, and desperately trying to find her place in the world, she concocts an AMAZING story –
BUT it backfires on her, and she becomes known as the ‘Evil Genius’s Daughter!’
Can her life get any worse?

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Melissa Gijsbers lives in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, with her two sons and pet blue tongue lizard. Between 1983 and 1986, her family were missionaries in Nepal. She enjoys catching up on the events of the day over mugs of hot chocolate with her sons after school.

Website: www.melissagijsbers.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaGijsbers
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissieK

Friday Weekend Escape to the Wood, Marble and Bronze of Kerimäki and surrounds

by Marion Ueckermann

It’s good to be here…again…taking you all on another Finnish weekend escape. We’re not travelling far from where we stopped in Savonlinna last weekend, and although some twenty-three kilometers away, the town of Kerimäki was consolidated with Savonlinna two years ago.

But before we leave quaint Savonlinna, there’s somewhere I need to take you first—a park close to the center of town. My husband, Noel, and I had fun here creating our own “Where’s Wally” photos behind this huge bronze statue.

Savonlinna statues

Another interesting statue we found in Savonlinna was close to Olavinlinna Castle. Known as the “Spirit of the Castle,” this tall, full-figure metal statue is of Danish knight, Erick Axelsson Tott, clad in armor and gazing toward the castle he had founded—Olavinlinna. The statue was erected on the Tallisaari Island on the 500th anniversary of the castle.

Danish Knight

Another famous Savonlinna statue is “The Black Ram.” A black ram (or some other sheep) was kept in the castle. The ram was to be served on St. Olaf’s Day as a sacrificial feast, representing a bridge between old pagan traditions and Christian worship. The last ram of the castle died around 1728 by drowning in a river, marking the end of the tradition. This statue was presented to Savonlinna on its 325th anniversary.

The Black Ram

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make one last stop at another statue before we head on over to Kerimäki. We had travelled twenty-five kilometers south from Kerimäki. About thirty kilometers (as the crow flies) before the Russian border, we found this fascinating statue outside Punkaharju at Lusto—the Finnish Forest Museum—of an old lumberjack and horse moving enormous logs. Isn’t the detail exquisite?

 Kerimakki statues

In Kerimäki we stopped at a Finnish cemetery. Our friend wanted to visit her father’s grave. I’ve never been in such a beautiful and tranquil cemetery before. Uniformed headstones of even size and shape marked each grass-covered grave, while bright flowers brought color to the dark marble blocks. A forest of trees offered shade to the final resting place of the deceased.

Kerimakki cemetery

Not far from the cemetery, a tall, orangey-yellow and white wooden church reaches nearly thirty-seven meters into the sky. Built between 1844 and1847, the Kerimäki Church is the largest Christian wooden church in the world.

With over 1670 meters of pews, the church seats over 3,000 people and with standing room can hold up to 5,000 at any given time. A short distance from the church there’s a gift shop housed in the bottom of the tower (see right hand insert below).

Kerimakki church

With its pews, columns, galleries, tie-beams, arches, domes and lanterns, this beautiful church is certainly a masterpiece of carpentry.

Kerimakki church inside

Because the church can’t be heated, it’s only used in the summer for services, weddings, festivals and concerts. In 1953, a small church was built beside the huge church so that religious services could be held in the winter. But early on Christmas morning, parishioners gather in the old church and hundreds of candles fill the icy interior with a warm atmosphere.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Contained in the altarpiece, these words of Jesus are the motto of the Kerimäki church.

Kerimakki church inside chest

I loved the true story our friends told us when they took us to the Kerimäki Church of the year that black smoke was seen billowing out of the top tower. The fire brigade was called and the town’s people came to help put out the fire in this wooden church. When the firemen scoured the building they could find no sign of a fire, no smells of a fire, and yet the black smoke was a visible sign of one. Upon inspection up in the tower, they discovered the “black smoke” was actually swarms of mosquitos. In a blog on International Christian Fiction Writers, I wrote about the one thing I never expected in Finland…the infestation of mosquitos in the summer. Seems that year, even the Finns weren’t expecting it.

I trust you’ve enjoyed your visits to Finland, sans mosquitos. In two weeks’ time, I’ll take you on an escape to beautiful Budapest. Hopefully soon, you’ll get to experience a different Finland with me—the winter wonderland including Santa’s home in Lapland.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Savonlinna and the Opera Festival, Finland

By Marion Ueckermann

I hope you’ve been as excited to see the sights of the quaint town of Savonlinna, located in the south-eastern Lakeland district of Finland, as I’ve been to show them to you. Narelle, thank you for hosting me again.

Savonlinna Finland

With the amount of water surrounding Savonlinna, it was no surprise that one of the first things to greet us were the boats. Some moored, waiting for a sunny weekend; some seemingly abandoned; show boats taking tourists sightseeing; and yachts banked up on the green verges of the lake.

Savonlinna boats

It was the single wooden ‘viking-type’ rowboat that really caught our attention and had us fascinated by its beauty and perfection.

Savonlinna Viking type canoe

 As we strolled through the town, we came across a quaint area of cobbled streets and vintage-style shops with colorful window boxes.

Savonlinna streets

It was here that we began to spot the black-suited musicians pressing forward, instruments in hand, clearly on a mission as they made their way toward Olavinlinna Castle. They were performing in the evening’s opera. How fortunate we were to be in Savonlinna at the time of the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and that summer of 2012, they celebrated their centenary. One hundred years of opera within this medieval castle.

The month-long festival is held annually during July and attracts a total audience of around 60,000 opera goers—2,500 at every performance—from all over the world (about a quarter hailing from outside Finland). The castle’s Great Court is covered with a giant marquee, and a stage and stands are set up inside this courtyard.

We looked on amused as patrons dressed in fancy clothes, ice-cream cones in their hands, ambled down the same route as the musicians to attend this major society event. We soon learned that it didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter, whether out to play, entertaining guests, or on the way to the opera, for the Finns, there’s always time for ice-cream.

Savonlinna Castle Bridge

We followed their path which stopped at the 15th century three-tower castle. This northernmost medieval stone fortress was fascinating, but unfortunately, we could only view it from a distance. At the bridge, we could go no further. Only opera ticket holders could cross the watery divide to the castle—some of those tickets selling for a whopping 250 Euro (of course, those were the best seats in the house). In its short season, the festival offers seven operas on one of the most unique opera stages in the world with unsurpassed atmosphere and magnificent acoustics. The 2012 operas were: La Fenice, The Flying Dutchman, Aida, The Magic Flute, Peter Grimes, Den fjerde nattevakt (The Fourth Watch of the Night), and Free Will (created collaboratively by a worldwide web community).

Some great links for photos of the operas and behind the scenes shots:

http://www.pinterest.com/savonlinnaopera/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Savonlinna-Opera-Festival-Oopperajuhlat/100486158860

Olavinlinna Castle was built by a Dane, then conquered by Sweden and Russia. It helped to protect the border against neighboring Russia.

The next time we took a drive into Savonlinna from the summer cottage, we decided to take a tour of the castle. It was a rainy day, and there was nothing much else to do. It was a good decision.

Ovalinlinna Castle

The castle was fascinating. Access via the footbridge; spiral staircases leading to the citadel towers; the King’s Hall used for receptions and banquets, and the hagioscope—a small chamber located in the wall of the southern side of the chapel for persons who were not allowed in the chapel itself. Faint fragments of al secco wall paintings are still to be seen against the stark white walls of this tiny chapel in the heart of the castle.

Castle passageways

Oh the history that echoed through those ancient stone passageways and thick-walled chambers. I particularly loved the one story the tour guide told of when the castle was under Russian rule. The Swedish army came to attack the castle but their siege failed. Their plan to scale the high walls with ladders might’ve been successful had they not arrived at the foot of the castle by boat and discovered they’d forgotten to pack the ladders.

The best part of visiting the castle had to be the backstage tour. It was incredibly interesting. I found this YouTube video which gives a little glimpse into this. For a good laugh, track the sub-titles with the audio J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxWucTA52NM

Next week I’ll introduce you to some fascinating wood, marble and bronze structures of this area—the largest wooden church in the world situated in Kerimäki; a tranquil Finnish cemetery; and creatively crafted bronze statues.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

This weekend we’re returning to my beautiful hometown of Sydney, Australia. Last week we caught the Manly Ferry to the pretty seaside suburb of Manly, the setting for my new contemporary inspirational romance. Her Tycoon Hero is the first book in in my Sydney series. Today we’re visiting Taronga Zoo, the perfect location for a fun romantic date.

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View of Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay

The ferry is a lovely way to travel from the city to Taronga Zoo, located on the waterfront in the northern Sydney suburb of Mosman.

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Circular Quay

We travel past the Sydney Opera House as the ferry departs from Circular Quay.

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It’s very relaxing to sit back on the ferry, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful scenery.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour and city skyline

The lower entrance to Taronga Zoo is opposite the wharf. The zoo is on the side of a hill and provides stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

I love wandering around the 28 hectare zoo and seeing the wide range of animals. The walking is great exercise, too. Or, you can jump on the miniature train and Sky Safari to avoid negotiating the steep terrain by foot.

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Elephants

Giraffe

Giraffe

The African Safari section of the zoo is a definite favourite. I’ve always loved visiting the koalas and watching them play in the gum trees.

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Koala Sanctuary

Koala

Koalas

I hope you’ve enjoyed touring Sydney Harbour and Taronga Zoo. Enjoy your weekend!

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances.

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith—and Cassie—as his own.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Friday Weekend Escape to Manly in Sydney, Australia

This weekend we’re returning to my hometown of Sydney, Australia. Last week we cruised around the harbour city, including The Rocks, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Today we’re catching the Manly Ferry to the beautiful seaside suburb of Manly, the setting for my brand new November contemporary inspirational romance. Her Tycoon Hero is the first book in in my Sydney series. Ryan lives on the eastern hill in Manly, in an apartment overlooking the harbour. Cassie lives in the neighbouring harbourside suburb of Fairlight, a short walk around the foreshores from Manly Wharf.

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Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House

Manly is a popular tourist destination and a half hour ferry ride from Circular Quay in the city.

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Manly ferry at Circular Quay

Below is the harbour beach and swimming area between Manly Wharf and Manly Sea Life Sanctuary.

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Harbour beach at Manly Cove

The waterfront suburb of Fairlight is in the distance. You can do a three hour, ten kilometre scenic walk around the harbour foreshore from Manly to the historic Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour.

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Manly Wharf

This is the picturesque view of Sydney Harbour from the western side of Manly Wharf. There are many restaurants at the wharf that take advantage of the stunning water views.

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Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf was originally built in 1855 and a commuter ferry service commenced in 1857. The wharf has been rebuilt and renovated a number of times over the years. This paved area was a busy bus interchange when I was growing up.

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Manly Wharf

This is the view from Manly Wharf looking out toward The Corso, between the two buildings in the distance. The Corso connects the harbour beach with the ocean beach.

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West Promenade, Manly

This is the view of the promenade from Manly Wharf, lined with towering Norfolk Pines. Cassie works in the city and walks along this promenade from Fairlight to Manly Wharf.

I hope you’ve enjoyed touring the beautiful harbourside suburb of Manly. Next week we’re going to visit Taronga Zoo, a famous landmark on Sydney Harbour.

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances.

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith—and Cassie—as his own.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com