June 27, 2017

Wiesbaden – That Second Look!

A short distance from Frankfurt International Airport is lovely Wiesbaden, the capital of the German Federal state of Hessen.  If you’re not familiar with Wiesbaden, I am a little surprised because there has been a settlement here since Neolithic times and records date a Roman fort back to 6 AD which means Wiesbaden has been around a very long time!

Initially drawn to Wiesbaden for the thermal spas, this city along the Rhine later became popular with Kaiser Wilhelm II when it became known as his summer residence.  Prussian and other nobles along with wealthy business people were lured to Wiesbaden too.  Today the remnant of this wealth can be seen in the many villas lining the streets and the upscale shopping along Wilhelmstrasse.Villa Clementine Wiesbaden Germany

I have been to Wiesbaden before and recently had the chance to give Wiesbaden a 2nd look. I was able to revisit the lovely Kurhaus.  This beautiful building still maintains the glamorous style of the Belle Époque and is home to many performances and the city’s Casino.Kurhaus Wiesbaden Germany

There are still remnants of the thermal water which originally drew people to this location. You can actually drink the water, which I did, but I don’t think it tastes very good.  At one time there were 26 hot springs in Wiesbaden but today only 14 still flow.Thermal Water of Wiesbaden Germany

The parks are absolutely beautiful!  I can see why so many people spend time just lounging in the shade.Park in Wiesbaden Germany

The Heathens Wall is the oldest remaining structure in Wiesbaden dating back to Roman times! And its right down the street from a little bakery whose macarons will shame Ladurée!  Sorry Ladurée buts it’s true. I highly recommend stopping by L‘Art Sucre.  Try the caramel macaron, you won’t be disappointed!Heathen Wall Wiesbaden Germany

The streets and squares of Wiesbaden abound with cafes, restaurants, history and amazing shopping. Wandering the streets will lead you past the City Palace, churches, many monuments dedicated to those who are important in Wiesbaden’s history, old markets and surprises galore!Lampost and Church Wiesbaden Germany

Yes Wiesbaden is very definitely worth a stop.  But before you leave don’t miss seeing the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock!Worlds Largest Cuckoo Clock Wiesbaden Germany

 

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

Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people at the Wiesbaden Tourist Office!  For more information please contact either organization or visit their websites.  Even though my trip was paid for by these organizations, all opinions are my own.

European Villages Discovered-Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

A few years ago I was able to spend a few days in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, specifically Cahors and Rocamadour.  I remember being amazed at the beauty of my surroundings as we drove through the countryside. As my eyes fell on beautiful village after beautiful village I found myself wondering why the area is not more popular with American tourists.  I also vowed I would return one day to spend more time exploring this beautiful region of France!

Today we’re discovering a European village from the Midi-Pyrénées region, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie! 

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

In an area known for chateaux, prehistoric caves, scenic villages, truffles, lazy rivers and the almost black Cahors wine you will find Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

Restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Outside restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie by tristanf, on Flickr

Known as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie rests precariously on a rocky outcrop high above the river Lot in Southwest France.  Its situation along the river offers stunning views but also provided a great defense protecting the village from many battles that have taken place in the area including an unsuccessful attack in 1199 by Richard the Lionheart.

Lovely Alley Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Alley View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

During medieval times, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was home to four important families each of which has left their mark on this beautiful village. This is also the reason there have been many chateaux and churches in the village.  Remaining today are 3 chateaux and a Gothic church, dating back to the 15th century, with an amazing view over the Lot river valley.

Saint-Cirq Lapopie France Church and Rooftops

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Church and Rooftops by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Like Rocamadour, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is on a pilgrimage path leading to the Santiago de Compostela which is also the reason for its popularity during medieval times.  Today, the entrance to the village is still via the medieval stone wall and gate.

Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Saint Cirq Lapopie Panorama by TwoWings

Wandering the village visitors will see houses dating back to medieval times many of which still bear the steep tile roofs.  Some are made from stone found in the region and others are constructed in the half-timbered style.

River Lot View Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: River Lot View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Arriving at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is almost as wonderful as the village. The road meanders along the Lot River before rising up to display the pastoral countryside of the region.  The surroundings of the village are as dramatic and beautiful as the village which makes Saint-Cirq-Lapopie dazzling no matter which direction you look!

 

Do you enjoy wandering small European villages?

Thanksgiving & Beaujolais Go Together!

Something wonderful took place last Thursday and to most of us it went by unnoticed.  This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau was released and is now available for purchase! Traditionally released on the 3rd Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine whose release is celebrated across France.  I think it is so nice of the French to release the most wonderful smelling wine ever (in my opinion) just in time for Thanksgiving, and it goes wonderfully with the popular meal of the day – Turkey!

Beaujolais Nouveau France Wine

Est arrivé by theogeo, on Flickr

But where do these grapes come from and why should you visit the Beaujolais region of France?


Lying north of Lyon in the Rhone-Alpes and Burgundy regions is the home of Beaujolais.  Often forgotten by tourists, this region is known for its green hills, flowery villages, interesting geology, architecture, wine and over 1500 km of walking trails.  Wandering Beaujolais you will find delicious and affordable wines and vineyards dotting the gorgeous countryside.

Here are some of the reasons you might want to add the Beaujolais to your next visit to France!

The Stone

The scenery of the region is quite varied.  In the north you will find dense dark forests of fir trees while the south starts to shine as soon as the sun rises!  They say this part of the Beaujolais has the feel of a Tuscan village and if it’s true, its largely because of the StoneEverything from houses, chateaux and churches are built in the golden colored stone of the region. The contrast of the gleaming stone against the green countryside is amazing.

Oingt Beaujolais Region France

Oingt by peg, on Flickr

The Wine

The Beaujolais region is covered by vines along its 34 mile length. Between the red wines from the Gamay grapes to the white Chardonnay, there is something for every taste.   Beaujolais Nouveau can be found in the southern part while the other 10 crus are more in the northern portion.  A great way to experience the region, including tasting the wine, is to follow the Beaujolais Wine Route.   In fact, there are 7 GPS audio-guided tours to help you discover the Beaujolais region, its villages and wines!

Chateau de Bagnols Beaujolais France

Chateau de Bagnols by Corona Mejora Tu Vida, on Flickr

The Hameau Duboeuf

Speaking of wine, there is an actual theme park dedicated to wine and vine especially of this region!  The Hameau Duboeuf takes visitors on an exploration of winemaking’s 2,000 year history.  You can explore the ways trains helped transport the wine, understand how geology and grape varieties affect the tastes, learn about corking, discover how to make wine and, of course, taste some wine!

Beaujolais France

Beaujolais by welix, on Flickr

The Villages

From Beaujeu, in the north, the historic capital of the region with an oil mill to the medieval beauty of Oingt in the south, this region’s villages will not disappoint!  Visiting the Beaujolais region you will find charming hilltop villages offering panoramas which will delight everyone.  Traveling the region, you will also come upon many Chateaux including the Chateau de Bagnols which is now a world class hotel.  Near Romaneche-Thorins there is a 17th century windmill with amazing views of the Saône.  Yes from drawbridges, local craftsmen, ancient chapels and river valleys, the villages of Beaujolais make for a very peaceful, beautiful and delightful experience!

Romaneche-Thorins Beaujolais France

Romaneche-Thorins from wikimedia

Those are a few of the reasons to visit the Beaujolais.  Now go out and grab some Beaujolais Nouveau to personally sample a little of the region!


Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Dreaming of a European River Cruise

The other day I received an email from Viking River Cruises that got me thinking.  The subject of the email was “Where would you go?” and now I’m dreaming about which European River Cruise I would most like to enjoy!

I’ve never been on a river cruise for more than a day but have to admit I am intrigued by them. The friends and relatives I know who have taken river cruises have all returned with rave reviews.  Without fail they have enjoyed the educational and cultural aspects along with the views and social camaraderie!  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the day cruises I’ve taken on some of Europe’s greatest rivers- Seine, Rhine, Thames and Danube – are the spectacular view you get from the river.  What could be better than arriving in Europe’s cities in the same manner as the discovers of yesterday?

So where is my dreaming taking me. . .


Portraits of Southern France 

Saone river at Lyon France

Saone river at Lyon by Jack

Gliding along the Saône and Rhône rivers from Chalon-sur-Saône to Avignon includes beautiful vistas, wonderful medieval villages of the Burgundy region and the splendor that is Provence. I’ve never been to this part of France but when you combine medieval villages, Roman ruins, history, cathedrals, cobbled street and scenery that has inspired artists like Van Gogh, well how could you go wrong?!  Add in the wine and cuisine this region is known for and you’ve got a winner.

Portugal’s River of Gold

Porto Portugal

Porto by Benjamin Dumas, on Flickr

Slowly floating along the dramatic Douro River in Portugal would offer a unique glimpse into this wonderful region. After having a chance to visit Lisbon, the cruise starts in Porto which, in my opinion, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world.  The cruise offers an opportunity to view a region that some say is still unspoiled!    Along the way glimpse vineyards set on steep hills, castles, Baroque architecture, UNESCO Heritage cities and sites as well as Gothic cathedrals.  Oh and don’t forget the food and drink the region is known for including Port and regional wine!  Yes, I think the magical Douro would be a perfect setting for my first river cruise.

Vineyards & Vistas 

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River Germany

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River by Carschten

The Vineyards & Vistas cruise sails along the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers in wonderful Germany! Yes I’ve been along the Moselle and have enjoyed day cruises on the Rhine.  I’ve even been to Bamberg, Rudesheim and Trier, so why would this cruise interest me??  I LOVE the Moselle and crave to return so I can further explore this river and the surrounding small villages that are bursting with the wonderful wine of the area. Dotting the banks of the Main River are small quaint villages such as Miltenberg, which is a city that calls me! All of these rivers are full of castles, cathedrals, medieval towns, Roman ruins, history and Baroque palaces.  Plus there is also the German cuisine I love so much and cities famous for their Beer!

If I were going on a River Cruise, it would be one of these three options.  Now it’s your turn …

Where would you go on a European River Cruise?

New Palace – Potsdam

Prussian Kings left such a legacy in Potsdam Germany that today it is known as a city of Palaces!

With 23 beautiful palaces truer words could not be spoken.  Some of the palaces are very well known such as Sanssouci and Cecilienhof while others are not so well-known.  One of these lesser known palaces is the exquisite and large New Palace.

Panorama New Palace Potsdam Germany

King Frederick the Great built the last Prussian Baroque palace to celebrate Prussian success in the Seven Years War.  Finished in 1769, this large palace is a testament to the superiority and nobility of Prussia.New Palace Potsdam Germany

I visited the palace during the celebration of King Frederick the Great’s 300th birthday.  The palace was full of memorabilia about the Kings life which included pieces not normally kept in the palace. Besides being able to see all the memorabilia, it also was a great way to see many of the 200+ rooms in the palace. Unfortunately pictures were not allowed inside but I can tell you the rooms are as opulent as you would imagine.  One of my favorites was this beautiful theater.

Theater New Palace Potsdam Germany

Theater New Palace Potsdam Germany by oxbox

The façade of the New Palace is adorned with many statues.  I noticed many were black with dirt and was shocked to learn this is the way they found the palace after reunification. The city is taking the time to clean the statues but it is a painstaking job!

Statues New Palace Potsdam Germany

The New Palace is set in the magnificent Sanssouci Park.  As I wandered around the palace grounds I noticed two smaller buildings that looked to be the same design as the palace. These turned out to be Communs which are buildings for the palace guards and servants plus they house the palace kitchen.  Pretty nice digs, aren’t they?Maid Quarters Potsdam Germany

 

Would you like to visit this city of Palaces?


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

Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people at the PotsdamTourist Office!  For more information please contact either organization or visit their websites.  Even though my trip was paid for by these organizations, all opinions are my own.

Epicurean’s Guide to Europe: Delicious Dishes You Have To Try!

As I mentioned in German Food Traditional & Tasty, food may not be a reason I visit a city but it is definitely something I look forward to!  Here is a guest post exploring more of Europe’s cuisine.  Enjoy!

 

Epicureans will travel the world to experience masterfully created flavors. When visiting Europe, epicureans simply must put these countries at the top of their lists.

 

Spain 

Tapas in Spain

Tapas by Ben Sutherland, on Flickr

Spain has many wonderful regions that foodies will want to explore. If you have to focus on one area, though, make it Basque Country where you will find a lot of variety to satisfy all of your cravings!

The Basque Country has earned a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in Spain. In this region, though, they usually serve tapas on bread with a “spike” through the ingredients so it all holds together. They call it pinxto, which takes its name from the word for “spike.” Expect to find pinxtos containing olives, cured meats, cod, stuffed peppers and regional cheeses.

Turkey

Turkish cuisine can vary significantly depending on where you travel. The region near the Black Sea, for instance, uses a local anchovy that offers a distinctive flavor. No matter where you go, though, you will find homemade recipes that have been in families for generations.

When in Turkey, look for dishes carefully built around grilled meats, dates, pistachios, lentils and eggplant.

If you have recently been in other parts of Europe when you visit Turkey, you will immediately notice that Turkish cooks use spices more sparingly than those in other countries. As an epicurean, you need to experience how wonderful this simplicity can taste. It will show you that amazing food doesn’t necessarily need a complex recipe.

France 

Pot de Creme Dessert France

Pot de Creme by arnold | inuyaki, on Flickr

One could argue that excellent European cuisine began in France. The country’s chefs maintain a long tradition of technical skill and innovative flavors that should put it right at the top of your list.

When visiting France, pay careful attention to two things – dessert and wine. Some desserts to include are:

  • Tart tatin (an upside-down tart with apples)
  • Flaugnarde (a large pancake filled with various fruits)
  • Pot de crème (a potted custard)
  • Koign-amann (a kind of puffed pastry)

If you find a really good restaurant (which is easy considering that Paris alone has about 100 Michelin-rated restaurants), then a sommelier can pair your dessert with the perfect wine.

Italy 

Branzino all'acqua pazza Cuisine Italy

Branzino all'acqua pazza by 10Rosso, on Flickr

You probably think of pasta when you think of Italy. You can certainly find plenty of pasta dishes throughout Italy, but the country really excels when it comes to seafood. Only an Alaskan cruise excursion could give you access to fresher seafood!

Some dishes to look for include:

  • Cappon magro (a large seafood salad with a thick sauce)
  • Acqua pazza (poached white fish)
  • Cacciucco (a fish stew)
  • Scampi in the shell

To really get a thrill, visit an open-air market in the morning. You will see gigantic fish that still have their heads attached but don’t let this have a ruin your afternoon meal! In Italy, every part of the fish gets used to make some of the most delicious soups and sauces you will ever taste.

Germany

Germany’s epicurean fame typically comes from its commitment to excellent beers and processed meats. It has that reputation for some very good reasons. In fact, breweries around the world still use the Bavarian Purity Law from 1487 to make high-quality beer with only the most essential ingredients.

When you venture into Germany expect to find plenty of meat dishes including those made of: lamb, goat, duck, turkey, pork and beef.

You’ll swear that you can live off sausage alone once you’ve toured through Germany.


Europe has diverse cuisine that not only varies from country to country, but city to city. For the true epicurean, every European destination lies somewhere on the list of must-visit places.

 

What is your favorite European cuisine or food?

 

This guest post was brought to you by Miles Young,  a freelance travel writer who specializes in all things outdoors. Whether it’s biking, vacations, cruising or just exploring the city, Miles has done it all. When he’s not out conquering the world he’s geeking out on tech or attempting to play the piano. You can reach Miles at mrmilesyoung@gmail.com.

Pictures From Above

When I fly I usually opt for an aisle seat but on my most recent trip to Germany I decided to give the window seat a try so I could attempt to capture some great photos out the window.

I’ve seen many photo’s people have taken from planes ( Keith from Velvet Escape to name one ) and thought it was time I gave it a try!

For Travel Photo Thursday I’m sharing a few pictures from above that were taken from my window seat.

When landing in Frankfurt, the weather was not cooperating so these pictures are not too good (at least that’s the excuse I’m sticking with 🙂 ).

Frankfurt Germany Landing

Getting ready to land in Frankfurt.

But, my trip from Frankfurt to San Francisco included a stop in London where the weather was just right for some great pictures!

High over London England

High over London England

London England From the Window Seat!

London England From the Window Seat!

Coming in over London England

Can you see the Thames River??

Even though it was fun taking pictures from the window seat, I may be going back to the aisle.  I really didn’t like the feeling of being locked in especially when my row mate slept the entire way ( I really hate people who can do this!).

Do you take pictures from the window seat??

 

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

Maybe I’ll see you there!