February 17, 2018

Yin and Yang of Life in Innsbruck

Whether traveling in Paris, Munich or London, we have all seen Triumphal arches while wandering through Europe.

The arches we enjoy were inspired by the Romans and are usually built to commemorate war victories or founding a new colony, celebrating a new ruler or even a death of one.  The arches can represent a happy occasion or a sad one but in Innsbruck the triumphal arch actually commemorates both!

The building of the Triumphpforte (Triumphal Arch) was approved by Empress Maria Theresa to honor the wedding of her son.  Since there was not time to build a new arch, she had the existing south gate of Innsbruck renewed into this lovely example of a Roman arch.Triumphal Arch Innsbruck Austria

The year was 1765 and there was a bash going on in Innsbruck and all of Austria.  As the festivities wore on, the celebrating turned to grieving when out of the blue Maria Theresa’s husband, Emperor Franz I, died.

Standing on the southern end of Maria Theresien Strasse is this Triumphal Arch.  On the side facing north you will see marble reliefs celebrating the marriage of her son and on the other are reliefs that mourn the passing of her husband.


What Yin & Yang’s of Life have you seen in your travels?


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Miltenberg Calling!

As I’ve said in Gengenbach Calling and Hallstatt Calling, pictures speak to me.

Now I can add Miltenberg Germany to this list! I recently saw this picture of Miltenberg and it is one of the reasons I keep coming back to Bavaria and Germany!

Miltenberg Bavaria Germany river Main

Miltenberg by Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F079086-0035

Located on the banks of the Main River in the German state of Bavaria, Miltenberg is at a minimum one of the most beautiful locations in the area!

This medieval town was first mentioned in 1237 but it was around 155 AD that the Roman’s built a fortress and limes in the area.  In fact, it is these Roman Limes and the Main River that formed the Roman Empire’s border with Germania.

Marktplatz in Miltenberg am Main Bavaria Germany

Marktplatz in Miltenberg am Main by Bytfisch

Miltenberg still has many timbered buildings which help keep the feeling of medieval times.  Wander the old town center and medieval marketplace or discover the lovely St. Lawrence chapel and cemetery dating back to the 14th century.  Or visit the castle Mildenberg which has helped protect the village since 1230.

Miltenberg river Main Bavaria Germany

Miltenberg, river Main by reinholdbehringer, on Flickr

The hotel Zum Riesen, in Miltenberg’s Old Town, has laid claim to being one of Germany’s oldest Inns if not the oldest. It seems that way back in 1314 Ludwig from Bavaria stayed here not long after his coronation!  Now I’m not sure if this is the oldest inn in Germany but it sure has been around a long time and seen its share of history including witch trials which took place in the square out front of the inn.

Miltenberg Hotel Riesen Bavaria Germany rive Main

Miltenberg Hotel Riesen by Matthia Schussler

Miltenberg is in the middle of a wine producing region in Germany. There a many options to taste wine from the region including hiking through the vineyards sampling wine at local wine makers taverns!

Visitors may also enjoy hiking or biking along the trails on the Main River.   A popular hike is to Closter Engelberg for bread and beer!  Even though Miltenberg is in the middle of wine country, there are two breweries in town including one at the hotel Riesen.

Miltenberg Main river Bavaria Germany

Miltenberg 27 by Myrddin Pendragon, on Flickr

This peaceful serene village also makes a great base for seeing some of Germany’s other amazing villages including Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Wurzburg and Heidelberg.

Yes pictures inspire me and Miltenberg is definitely calling.

What pictures have inspired you to visit?

A Flowering Europe

Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which
we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts.

To me, there is nothing better than gazing at the magnificence nature offers.  Flowers can truly brighten any day and make us smile even through tears.  As flowers start blooming, Europe becomes more dazzling and life just seems that much easier. Flowers add color and beauty to any setting and show up anywhere!

Flowers bedeck bridges as they span beautiful waterways,

Lucerne Bridge Switzerland

Lovely Chapel Bridge Lucerne Switzerland

Lovingly adorn houses,

Flower bedecked house Switzerland

Flower filled window boxes along Glacier Express in Switzerland

Offer a sea of color in gardens that have been carefully crafted,

Montreux Garden Switzerland

Garden along Lake Geneva in Montreux Switzerland

And add surprises around every corner!

Flowers Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Flower bedecked street in Mittenwald Germany

Yes, everything looks better with flowers!

Street view in Gruyeres Switzerland

Picturesque Gruyeres Switzerland

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
– Emma Goldman


I’m still thinking about this one and while I do enjoy the other wonderful photos
being shared on this Travel Photo Thursday over at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

3 Little Gems of England

A few months ago we discovered two of Europe’s secret villages, Kuressaare in Estonia and Giethoorn in Holland.

Today we’re opening the door on a few more of these “secret” villages by traveling to cheery old England.

Castle Combe Tea Room Cotsowld England

Castle Combe Old rectory tea room by Saffron Blaze

England is littered with small beautiful villages sprinkled across the landscape. Some regions of England, like the Cotswold’s, are famous for their little gems. Even though the villages we’re discovering today are within easy reach from London, visiting these beauties will give you the feeling as if you’ve gone back in time!


Introducing 3 Little Gems of England!


Castle Combe river Cotswold England

Castle Combe river by Saffron Blaze

Castle Combe is located a mere 85 miles west of London in a lovely lush valley in the Cotswold’s. The castle of this beautiful and serene village no longer stands but you can still see a medieval church including one of the few medieval clocks in England that is still in use and a 14th century carved market cross marking the site of the town’s old wool market. Wandering this village, dubbed by some as “The Prettiest Village in England”, you will still notice the traditional Cotswold architecture of thick walls and roofs made of natural stone tiles. The village is so charming that it has been the filming site of many movies including last years Warhorse.

St Giles Church Chalfont St Giles England

St Giles Church by Skinnyde, on Flickr

Chalfont St Giles is the 3 time winner of the “Best Kept Village” competition and anyone walking the village will see why! At every corner the cozy town oozes old world charm. Chalfont St Giles is located in Buckinghamshire only 25 miles from London but seems a world away. The village green still hosts cricket matches and the river Misbourne has a Roman road crossing it. If you’re looking for traditional English pubs maybe one of the six located in the village will be to your liking! As London was being ravaged by the plague, it was here that Milton settled in 1665. In this 11th century village Milton’s cottage, where he finished Paradise Lost, still stands. Noel Gallagher of Oases used to call Chalfont St Giles home as did William Penn who is buried here – next to both his wives!

Chalfont St Giles by timo_w2s, on Flickr

Since 1944 Lacock has been almost entirely owned by the National Trust which helps ensure its charm stays intact. This well preserved village was once a medieval market town and its streets are lined with Tudor style houses. Besides the quaint houses of Lacock, visitors will want to see the parish church and the Lacock Abbey. The Abbey was founded in the 13th century by Lady Ela, who was Countess of Salisbury and whose husband was an illegitimate son of King Henry II. Lacock has also been seen in many TV shows on the BBC including Pride & Prejudice and the Abbey was seen in Harry Potter films as well as the Other Boleyn Girl.

Lacock Abbey Forecourt Cotswold England

Lacock Abbey Forecourt by Ian Petticrew

As you can see, all 3 of these villages can be descried using the same words – serene, beautiful, charming, medieval, unspoiled, prettiest, picturesque and traditional.

Ford in Lacock Cotswold England

Ford in Lacock by Immanuel Giel

Some may even call these “secret” villages but I think little gems fit better!

What do you think?

Picturesque Costa Brava

Marc Chagall called it “Blue Paradise” and Dali called it home.  No matter what you call it, both were inspired by the north western corner of Spain we know as the Costa Brava.

Picturesque Tossa de Mar Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Picturesque Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869

This portion of Catalonia is famous for many things but none more exceptional than the picturesque resorts, sandy beaches and rugged beauty that stretches from Barcelona north to the border with France.

Cadaques Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Cadaqués by clurr, on Flickr

Costa Brava, also known as the “Wild Coast”, is the name given to the coastline of the Catalonia region.  This coast alternates between cliffs and beaches which contrast with a Mediterranean Sea that is clear and deep blue. Today it is filled with small resorts that are sprinkled along a coast that is still as wild and beautiful as it ever was.

Scenic Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Costa Brava by Albert T M, on Flickr

Fishing ports, scenic bays, sandy beaches, artist colonies, jagged cliffs and coves dot the landscape. The Costa Brava is full of picturesque resort and fishing villages which are nestled between craggy cliffs.  These cliffs make scenic drives impressive and a great way to enjoy the views of the Mediterranean. After driving the breathtaking and dramatic roads, you will know why this region is known as the Wild Coast!

Llafranc Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Llafranc by Nanami Turambar, on Flickr

But the beauty of the area should be seen both from the coast and the water!  With the many rugged cliffs, a boat tour of the coast is one of the best ways to enjoy the dramatic views.

Scenic Costa Brava Coast Catalonia Spain

Costa Brava Coast by Gabriele Delhey

Among the scenic towns that litter the shoreline of the Costa Brava are Tossa del Mar, Loret del Mar and Blanes, which are known for their sandy beaches.  Roses is a beautiful city resting on the shores of a bay with the same name.  The coves of Aiguablava offer peace and serenity while the dramatic coast of Palafrugell enchant all visitors of this fishing port.

Calella de Palafrugell Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Calella de Palafrugell by Jorge Franganillo, on Flickr

The Costa Brava is full of picture perfect villages which makes it hard to label one as the “most picturesque”.

What is your favorite spot along the Costa Brava?

The World of Violins in Mittenwald

Whether you enjoy Classical, Rock or Country music, if you listen to music your life has been touched by violins.  In a grand fusion, violins have moved from the concert halls of famous composers like Mozart to the arenas of Rock or Country music.  I’d like to think that charming Mittenwald Germany has had a little to do with this!Beautiful Violins Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Salzburg is famous for its hills being alive with the Sound of Music but there is another village in the area that is famous for instruments that help make this beautiful music! For more than 300 years violins from this unassuming mountain village, located near the border of Tirol and Bavaria, have been famous in the musical world.  Even Mozart played a violin with the “made in Mittenwald” stamp!Violins Geigenbau Museum Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Matthias Klotz was a violin maker from Mittenwald who brought his craft to this lovely town.  Since 1685 the industry of violin making has made a huge impact on the city as well as the surrounding area.Violin Museum Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Knowing the place Mittenwald holds in the history of violins, I set out to find the Geigenbau Museum. Not only did I find a wonderful museum but one of my favorite buildings in all of Mittenwald! The museum is home to a grand collection of violins from the Klotz family and other violin masters dating back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.Workshop Violin Museum Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Not only can you see some of these exquisite violins but there are also many other plucked instruments on display.  While exploring the museum you will find displays of Baroque and Modern violins, as well as a workshop and a history of Mittenwald’s violin trade.Instruments Violin Museum Mittenwald Germany

The Geigenbau Museum is a wonderful display of the culture that has shaped Mittenwald!


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.

Oh La La, La Seine!

It is no mistake that most of the world’s largest cities are located along major rivers. As our ancestors explored new areas they settled along rivers which offered them food, water, transportation, trade and more.

Among these grand European rivers are the Thames, the Danube, the Volga, the Rhine and madam La Seine!

Seine View Paris France

Seine View by polarjez, on Flickr

The 2nd largest river in France is 482 miles long and traverses through some of the most wonderful French landscapes before reaching the English Channel.  The Seine’s humble beginnings are about 19 miles northwest of Dijon deep in the Burgundian wine area. From here it meanders through or near Troyes, Fontainebleau, Paris, Giverny and Rouen before reaching the 6 mile wide estuary separating Le Havre and Honfleur.

Giverny France

giverny 2009 by ho visto nina volare, on Flickr

Outside of the large cities, a journey along the Seine passes Gothic cathedrals, battlefield remnants of past wars, tiny hamlets, forests that were the playground of Kings and rolling countryside with superb scenery.

The Seine is navigable by ocean vessels 75 miles inland to Rouen, by commercial river boats to Burgundy and can be enjoyed for recreational purposes along most of the length.

A series of locks keep the Seine at an even depth of 9 ½ meters and helps avoid catastrophic floods like the one in 1910.  However, even with these precautions, severe storms can cause the river to rise threatening villages, farmers and the billions of dollars of artwork located in Paris.

River Seine Paris France

vue Paris depuis Notre-Dame by Myrabella

At times the Seine has been described by historians as an “open sewer”.  Today the water quality has improved but the sewage system of Paris can experience failures during heavy rainfall allowing untreated sewage to seep into the river.  Despite this, in 2009 the Atlantic salmon returned to the Seine!

Even though the Seine passes many villages and cities, it seems to be synonymous with the capital of France, Paris! Just about everywhere you turn in Paris is a reminder of the importance the river has played in the city today and yesterday.  From the cathedral of Notre Dame to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay and many other priceless wonders, history abounds near the river! So important is the Seine to Paris, that in 1991 both the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Europe.

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides Paris France

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides by Benh

In Paris alone, there are 37 bridges that cross the river. The Pont Neuf, the oldest, dates back to 1607.  I’m sure every visitor to Paris walks across at least one of these beautifully romantic bridges!  Or even passes under them during a wonderful tour along the Seine.

The Seine has been the subject for many artists including Claude Monet.  From his home in Giverny, Monet drew upon the Seine for his inspiration. Many of these important artworks can be seen in the cathedral at Rouen.

Rouen is another important city along the Seine.  Not only famous for its display of artwork inspired by the Seine but for being the site of the execution of Joan of Arc whose ashes were said to be thrown into the Seine after her fiery death in 1431.

Pont de Normandie Le Havre Normandy France

Pont de Normandie by François Roche

Finally at rivers end is the Seine estuary which is flanked on either side by Le Havre and Honfleur.  Here is another of the many bridges spanning the Seine.  Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, stretches between the two cities.

Pont des Arts River Seine Paris France

Pont des Arts Wikimedia Commons by Benh

Although we tend to view the Seine as a tourist attraction, you can see that this river is still important to France today!


How have you enjoyed the Seine?