June 27, 2017

Mont St Michel – Touristy but Necessary

There are certain cities and sights that are touristy but still necessary to visit.  One of these is Mont St. Michel.

Located along the English Channel in the Normandy region of France, this Romanesque masterpiece is a sight to see.  Driving towards it, you start getting a glimmer of something in the distance and wonder “Is that it?”.  With each mile you drive the abbey seems to grow right before your eyes until you are face to face with one of the most amazing sights.Mont St Michel France from a distance

Built into the rock the Mont started out as a fortification defending the coast from invaders before becoming a monastery in 708 AD.  This beauty has been around a very long time and has seen its fair share of history from the Norman Conquest, Hundred Years War, French Revolution and World War II.Magnificent Mont St Michel France

At one point, the monks had moved away so the government turned Mont St Michel into a prison for its political prisoners.  Around 1836 there were calls to restore the mount to its glory.  It was during 1874 that it was declared a historic monument and in 1979 Mont St Michel was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Yes Mont St Michel can be very touristy but passing along the cobblestoned path, passing the shops as you wind your way up the more than 900 steps to the abbey is worth it! The architecture is stunning and dramatic while the views are amazing from all angles.

 

What other touristy spots are “must sees”?


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.


Decision Time: France or German?!?

At this point in my life, for better or worse, my travels are limited to vacations throughout the year.  Much to my chagrin, my “job” dictates the time I have for travel.  We all saw in my post title Bucket List – European Style, I have quite a few items on my list of European dreams so this year I will cross at least one off the list.

Loire Valley France Wildflower

Wildflowers 1 by celesteh, on Flickr

 

In looking at our calendars for the year, we only have 10 – 14 days for our “vacation”.  In talking, the hubby and I really want something a bit on the active side and have boiled it down to two options: either bike riding in the Loire Valley with some time at either end spent in Paris OR hiking in the Black Forest combined with driving, hiking and/or biking in the Alsace Wine region.

Upper Black Forest Views Germany

Upper Black Forest by GNTB: DZT/Honeck

Oooh even as I am reading my choices I get excited and unable to pick one!

Colmar Alsace Region France

Colmar Alsace Region by Calips

Neither of us has been to the Loire Valley and would really enjoy spending time riding along the river, stopping for wine, enjoying a picnic lunch in some idyllic spot, seeing castles, learning about the history, visiting the small French villages. . .  Plus it has been a couple years since I’ve been to Paris and there are some sights I have not visited and more I’d like to revisit.

Blois Park Loire Valley France

Blois Park by celesteh, on Flickr

Germany is one of my favorite places and one that pulls at my heart and always calls to me, so why should this year be any different? Wanderin ohne Gepack (Hiking without Luggage) has been something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  Add in cuckoo clocks, tradition, farm houses, lakes, forests, beautiful villages, history, great food, wine, beer and schnapps; well  you’ve created something that is just plain hard to resist! After all that,  we would cross into France and spend a few days wandering through more small, beautiful villages sampling Alsatian wine and  maybe even spend a day or so riding bikes or walking through the vineyards!

Black Forest Germany Tradition

Black Forest Tradition from Baden-Württemberg, Tourismus Marketing GmbH

So my dilemma is deciding which option to enjoy this year? 

Azay Le Rideau Loire Valley France

Azay Le Rideau by Ranvig

I’ve got more work to do and will share what I discover about each region that leads us to make this decision.  Until then, tell us. . .

 

How you decide where to visit on your vacation?

Unique Lodging Is It For You?

Lodging comes in all sizes and shapes.  When traveling, there are a lot of options available in the European lodging market.  We can camp, stay in a trailer, hotel or a bed and breakfast.  These categories can even be broken down further from ranging hostel to 5 star lodging.

But if a standard room or suite just won’t do, what are your options?  Rest assured,

The choices in the unique category include yurts, jumbo jets, lighthouses, castles, tepees, chateaux, tree houses or even a jail!

But that’s not all, here are 5 very special and unique types of lodging in Europe that may answer your dreams or inspire a trip.

La Balade des Gnomes, Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite at La Balade des Gnomes in Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite from La Balade des Gnomes

Set in a very quiet setting and offering 10 different and unique rooms, La Balade des Gnomes may fill all of your fanciful dreams.  You may opt to sleep in a moon buggy, Troll forest which includes a gold fish infested stream, a boat that is floating in a swimming pool or wine cellar.  Inspired by fairy tales, all of the rooms are decorated in a style that uses motifs and colors from around the world. But what caught my eye was a very unique offering known as the Trojan Horse suite.

Fort Clonque, United Kingdom

For Clonque United Kingdom Unique European Lodging

Fort Clonque by FlickrDelusions, on Flickr

Owned by the Landmark Trust, Fort Clonque is a unique lodging set on an island in the middle of the English Channel where the views are spectacular and storms are something to experience!  The rooms are in a 19th century fortification that has seen more than its share of history.  The fort is reached via a causeway and once you cross the drawbridge entrance you feel as if you have crossed into another time.  Spread throughout the fort, your room may be in an old war room or the German Casement, which was a Nazi gun turret!

Cappadocia Cave Resort, Turkey

One of the more stunning lodging options is the Cappadocia Cave Resort.  Set in one of the most beautiful settings, this hotel not only offers unique lodging but the opportunity to explore a region that is teeming with UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Built into the side of the mountain, the rooms combine actual cave walls with lovely warm wood and other natural stone creating a breathtaking view inside and out.

Utter Inn, Sweden

Utter Inn Sweden and Underwater hotel

Before being set on the lake

The Utter Inn is an underwater hotel located in Lake Mälaren near Stockholm, Sweden.  At first glance, the hotel seems to be another typical Swedish red house on a diving platform floating in the lake but looks are so deceiving!  Once in the house, open the hatch and descend the metal steps to enter your room. There awaits glorious windows offering underwater viewing on all sides!

Sala Silvermine Suite, Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite in Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

Sala Silvermine Suite Sweden

Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sala Silvermine offers an underground suite that is accessed by going down the mine shaft.  Upon arrival you will be escorted down the mine shaft and given a tour of the festivity hall and the other nooks and crannies existing on the same level, which by the way is 500 feet below ground! Once in the mine, you will find your room glowing from the chandelier and candles used to illuminate your bed chamber.

Would you stay in an alternative type hotel?

TPT: Views from Gruyeres

For today’s Travel Photo Thursday, I’m celebrating the views from Gruyeres Switzerland.Bucolic Gruyeres Switzerland

Gruyeres is one of those quintessential Swiss villages that you just can’t seem to get enough of even though it is very small.

And the scenery from its boundaries is just amazing!Beautiful Gruyeres Switzerland

Set in a lovely little valley just outside Lausanne Switzerland, Gruyeres is easy to get to as a day trip.  We took the train to Gruyeres but after this visit I vowed to go back and stay in the area to explore all the other wonderful little villages.Gruyeres Switzerland

Placid. Serene. Slow. Tranquil. Rural.  These are just some of the words that come to mind when seeing these pictures.Pastoral View from Gruyeres Switzerland

They  fill me with a sense of calm.

 

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.  For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.


Bucket List – European Style

Ah, the infamous Bucket List.  When Michael from EasyHiker asked me to share my “Bucket List” I was, honestly, a little overwhelmed.  Yes, overwhelmed because my list is quite large and I’m sure you don’t want to spend that much time reading this post.  How to cut it down?  Instead of sharing countries or cities I’d most like to visit I whittled it down to some European adventures I’d most like to enjoy.

In no particular order, here is a sampling of my Bucket List – European Style!

While thinking about my Bucket List, I realized I’ve actually shared quite a few of these already.  In Springtime Yearnings I shared my desire to Hike in Black Forest, Canoe along the Dordogne plus bike and taste wine near the Moselle River in Germany.  Italy’s South Tirol is still one of the places I would most like to visit.  The Dolomites are just too dramatic and picturesque to not see in person.

Here are more European adventures I’d most like to enjoy:

Bastille Day in Paris

Sharing this day of celebration with the Parisians would be fabulous.  I can only imagine the pageantry of the military parade down the Champs Elysees and the beauty of the fireworks with the Eiffel Tower as their back drop.

Bastille Day Fireworks Eiffel Tower Paris France

Bastille Day Fireworks by Lauren

Oktoberfest

Let’s see, I love Bavaria, Munich is one of my favorite cities and, in my opinion, beer is a food group.  So why wouldn’t I need to experience the Granddaddy of all beer festivals?  One thing I wouldn’t miss is the opening day parade. I hope they still roll barrels of beer down the street!

Cruising the Greek Isles

A lot of folks cruise the Greek Isles and while I want to join their ranks, I want to rent my own sail boat so we can steer our ship around the Aegean as we wish!  Enjoying the blue water, culture, sunsets and ruins while reliving mythology from the bows of our own little boat seems quite luxurious.

Samos Greece in Aegean Sea

Samos Pe-Sa

German Christmas Markets

About 2 months ago I shared one of my fondest birthday wishes in All I Want For My Birthday.  At this point in time, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my birthday than being in Germany visiting some of the magical Christmas markets!  Gluhwein, German trinkets and beer. . . need I say more?

Viennese Ball

Gliding and twirling across a dance floor at one of the amazing balls during Imperial Ball season in Vienna is one of things this girl dreams of.   Of course, I’ll be dressed to the nines in a full length formal gown complete with gloves and I will float across the dance floor thanks to those dance lessons I desperately need to take!

Ball Vienna Austria

Ball by moritz.schmaltz, on Flickr

Live in Europe
One of my fondest dreams is to live in Europe for at least 3 months.  I want to experience the culture and history that Europe offers.  I haven’t figured out where I would spend my time but I have a feeling a lot of it would be spent in some little Bavarian village!

Wachau Valley Danube River Austria

Wachau by jay8085, on Flickr

Somewhere along the way I will also stay in a Castle or Chateaux, enjoy a Tapas Crawl in Spain and wine taste in the Wachau Valley!

Well those are a few of the items that have made it to my European Bucket List.

 

Tell us a few of the items that have made it to your list!

A Photo Essay on European Statues

Oh the places you go and the characters you’ll meet while traveling!

Besides being works of art, history can be experienced through the statues or monuments dotting a city or village.  Through them we come to know who or what was important to the citizens.

Here are a few of the statues and monuments I stumbled upon while visiting Europe last summer.

Neptune Statue Bamberg Bavaria Germany

A great meeting place in Bamberg Germany is the Neptune statue locally called Gabelmann.  Standing near the Gruner Markt in the pedestrian only area of Bamberg, the statue is also a popular place to enjoy an afternoon ice cream.Matthias Klotz Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

This homage to Mittenwald’s native son, Mathias Klotz, indicates the important role he played in the village.  Mittenwald is a picturesque village nestled up against the mountains in southern Bavaria that is known for its violin and string instrument manufacturing.  It was Mathias Klotz who brought this esteem to his home town which continues to this day.Statue near Inn River Innsbruck Austria

I ran into these little guys while exploring Innsbruck Austria.  While they sit near the river Inn, I never did find out what this statue represents but it did intrigue me.  To me they look like they are sneaking into the city.  Are they just having fun or about to engage in something more nefarious?Water Statue Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

The beautiful Mirabell Gardens should not be missed on any visit to Salzburg Austria.  Besides the amazing flowers, fountains and gardens Mirabell is home to equally impressive statues.  Some are whimsical and others depict history and lore.  One of these is this statue by Ottavio Mosto representing water through the abduction of Helen by Paris which in turn started the Trojan War.By Virtue and Example Statue Vienna Austria

With the little time I had in Vienna, I decided to spend it exploring the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum at the Hofburg.  Finding the extra large Hofburg was not a problem but finding the Sisi Museum took a bit more effort.  Wandering I passed many architectural delights and an abundance of statues.  Finally I arrived at Michaelsplatz and the entrance to the museum.  I found this lovely statue waiting for me.  The motto below means “By Virtue and Example”.Kossuth Memorial Budapest Hungary

In Budapest, the Kossuth Memorial sits near the Hungarian Parliament honoring a man who was a prominent figure in the War of Independence from 1848-1849 and later became President of Hungary.  In this national symbol Kossuth can be seen pointing towards a brighter future.  Alas, it was many years before Hungary’s future became brighter.

“Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”  Dr. Seuss

 

Tell me about some of the interesting characters you have run into while traveling.


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.  For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.