Showing posts from 2019

The Last Ever Crete Nature Blog?

At the end of my last blog I left you rather floundering at the Hotel Astir in Patras. Sorry about that but my own life has been a bit astir since then. To finish off that part of the story, the following day comprised a morning swim in the rooftop pool, crossing Greece from Patras to Piraeus by bus and train, then boarding the overnight ferry to Heraklion. From thence back to Ferma and home. More tiring than exciting and little time for nature watching.

I then spent the next three months finishing The Quick Guide To Creepy-Crawlies which, I am pleased to say, is now available on Amazon alongside my anthology of short stories, Not Just For Twisted Women (the ebook is now free with Kindle Unlimited). Both books can be viewed on my Author Page and both make great Christmas presents (honestly!).

So, why The Last Ever Crete Nature Blog? Well, without going into detail, at the beginning of November I began to feel a bit lost and lonely down there on the south east coast of Crete and decide…

Down The Adriatic from Venice to Patras

Despite trying to be clever and booking a hotel between Venice city and the ferry terminal it was still a fifty euro taxi ride to the port. Oh well, I'll know for next time. If there is a next time. Let's get on board and see where they've put us. This is going to be home for the next day and a half. Oh, that's nice, right up the pointy end.

It's a midday departure so I suggest a stroll sternwards and we'll watch Venice recede. Is it really necessary to have so many posts I wonder? I feel like I'm travelling up an old bagatelle board (fore-runner of the pin-ball machine for younger travellers – the metal ball did run between actual pins). Still, they make great perches for the Yellow-legged Gulls and the Black-headed Terns.

And after that, quite a lot of sea. No whales, dolphins or porpoises unfortunately but we have had one unexpected visitor, a Painted Lady butterfly. You may recall that back in March of this year I introduced you to the Butterfly Migratio…

Lugano To Venice

As our next port of call, literally, is some distance from the city of Venice I thought I'd book us in at a midway point between the two. By sheer chance the hotel is only a short walk from the 19th century Forte Marghera which is now a cultural centre and wildlife refuge. I think that this will be a good place to start our explorations. A good place to build a fort, surrounded on all sides by a double waterway and the wildlife starts here below the bridge in the shape of this crab mumbling his way through the residents of the green algae.

The place is an absolute haven for insects. There's a Shield-backed Katydid in the grass alongside a Click Beetle; a Mediterranean Spotted Chafer Beetle getting itself covered in pollen as it feeds on a mallow flower and a rather handsome Leaf Beetle of the Lachnaia genus down there. Hang on, I'll just root him out for a second so that you can have a closer look.

Hello, looks like we've got a bit of wildlife action on this Mallow over …

Strasbourg to Lugano

After that beautiful stopover in Strasbourg we are now burrowing our way through The Alps like a maggot through Swiss cheese, emerging from long, dark tunnels into beautiful vistas of lakes and snow capped mountains. A quick change at Basle and then on to Lugano on the Swiss Italian border.

Hitched a lift on the local bus up into the mountains and was told where to get off by a beautiful young music student who sat next to me. (No, literally: she informed me where to disembark as her stop was a few before mine). This is the Pensione Agra run by Annemiek and Fritz and was my favourite place of the whole tour.

Surrounded on three sides by Lake Lugano it is a magnificent place for hiking through upland meadows and woodland and we have another free day with which to explore. Walking through the village, lizards scurry along the walls through clumps of Ivy-leaved Toadflax.

Butterflies are everywhere, along with a whole host of other inverterbarates while in the woodlands songbirds of ever…

Koblenz to Strasbourg

After last night's debacle at the hotel in Koblenz you'll be pleased to know that I've booked us in to Le Jean-Sebastien Bach in Strasbourg for the next couple of nights. We should be there for lunch. Or would have been if all the trains weren't running up to half an hour late, the connections disconnected and the wheels hadn't fallen off the Vorsprung durch Technik in general. The hotel's a bit swish though; we've even got a trouser press. A freshen up and a walk in the park before dinner is in order I think.

I think that we could recommend Le Parc de l'Orangerie for an evening stroll if only for the magnificent White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) nesting in the carefully pollarded Plane trees. Did you know that these birds gave rise to the ancient Greek Law of Pelargonia, (Pelargos being the Greek for Stork)? Storks were thought to care for their aged parents and Pelargonia enshrined in law that Greek citizens should do the same. Storks don't, by t…

Hook of Holland to Koblenz

An 8am disembarkation at the Hook of Holland and straight into an early morning initiative test. There are four train changes between here and Schiedam and first we have to find the station. But what is this? A bus going to Schiedam – I wonder if they take Interrail tickets? No they don't, they don't take cash either but what a nice lady and such expressive eyes. A quick glance towards an empty seat conveys 'sit down, shut up, and look as though you've got a ticket.' We'll be in Koblenz in time for a late lunch.

And here we are on the banks of the Rhine complete with the world's only horse drawn cable-car. There's no-one at the hotel, just some sort of entry keybad and instructions in German which are beyond my limited ability to order a beer. Thanks to a helpful and bi-lingual neighbour we are now installed. A bit cheap and cheerful but it's only for one night and it's clean. It's also handily placed for a lively looking street cafe so bie…