February 19, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all  a very Merry Christmas!

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo

 

And to many new adventures in 2013!

A German Tradition I Love!

When it comes to food, some people prefer savory flavors and others move more towards the sweet side. Although I haven’t written many posts about food, looking back there is one thing missing in my food posts – dessert!  While I’ve talked about the Goulash Soup or the Schnitzel I love, I’ve really not talked much about sweets.  To be honest, most of the time I’d rather have another glass of wine than dessert 🙂

You see, I’m a savory kind of gal!


Now this doesn’t mean I don’t like sweets, oh no! In fact there are times when that is all I want and that leads me to the point of this post.

During my last trip to Germany I noticed people enjoying sweets every afternoon.  It didn’t matter which city I was in or the day of the week, every afternoon cafes were full of people enjoying Kaffee und Kuchen or Coffee and Cake!


So when in Rome. . .


Can you think of a better way to wait out the rain than enjoy wonderful Kaffee und Kuchen? Café Schmidt is well known in Freiburg and since I was in the Black Forest I opted for the Black Forest Cake 🙂

Black Forest Cake Freiburg Germany

Thank goodness my feet were tired in Rostock! This meant I had to have a wonderful piece of Apfel Strudel so I could rest, right?Apfel Studel Rostock Germany

I love traditions, so while in Wiesbaden I had to stop at famous Café Maldaner, a Viennese style coffee house that has been in Wiesbaden since 1859.Kuchen in Wiesbaden GermanyCafe Maldaner Weisbaden Germany

Although I thoroughly enjoyed having my afternoon Kaffee and Kuchen, my experience with sweets didn’t stop with cake.  No sir!  I’ve already told you about the super delicious macarons I found in Wiesbaden but while in Erfurt I was introduced to a wonderful small shop that makes its own chocolateGoldhelm Schokolade is on the Krämerbrücke and is famous for its thick and rich hot chocolate! I do highly recommend a stop as the hot chocolate is A-mazing but if you prefer ice cream theirs is to die for!Goldhelm Schokolade Erfurt Germany

Are you a savory or sweet person?

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

Maybe I’ll see you there!

A Sunday Stroll in Mainz

With a history dating back to the 1st century BC, Mainz is one of the oldest cities in Germany. The history of Mainz starts with the Romans who built a fort here and commanded the west bank of the Rhine River.  During its history Mainz was also part of France and is where Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable printing press.

I arrived in Mainz late on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and was met by a ton of people spending time in the old town enjoying the weekly market and wine festival.

 

It wasn’t until the next morning that I was able to roam the streets and alleys of Mainz and truly see the beauty this city offers!Houses along Marktplatz Mainz Germany

I took the tram to Gutenbergplatz where I started my Sunday Stroll first meeting the man himself, Johannes Gutenberg.  This is also where I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and amazing carrot soup the day before.Market Fountain Mainz Germany

Wandering I came to Markplatz home to yesterday’s bustling market.  On this Sunday morning, it was peaceful so I was able to enjoy the sites like the Marktbrunnen or Market Fountain a grand example of a Renaissance fountain complete with Madonna on the top.Gutenberg Museum Mainz Germany

The old houses lining the street are equally magnificent and include the Gutenburg Museum which is housed in a fine palace known as Zum Romischer Kaiser (At the sign of the Roman Emperor).Overshadow by Cathedral Main Germany

This area is the center of the inner city and is overshadowed by the very large 1,000 year old Cathedral of Mainz.  Any stroll in the area will pass St. Boniface who was the first Archbishop of Mainz.Rhine view from Mainz Germany

Following the streets you will reach the Rhine River with its views across to Weisbaden!Lovely Old Town Mainz Germany

Crossing back to the streets of Mainz led me to the Old Town. Strolling along Augustinerstrasse, which used to be the “main” street of Mainz, took me by beautiful half timbered houses and through an area that was once cherry orchards.  They call this area a strollers delight and I definitely could see why!Facade Augustiner Church Mainz Germany

Continuing my stroll along Augustinerstrasse brought me to the fabulous Baroque façade of the Augustiner Church.  Dating back to 1768 and surviving World War II, the inside is as wonderful as the front.  Take a look at the amazing frescoes!Inside Augustiner Church Mainz Germany

It was time to head up to St Stephan home to the famous Chagall blue stained glass windows.  As I twisted and turned my way up the hill, I was sure I was lost but then I saw the Gothic church peeking through an alley way.  The church itself simple but attractive on the outside but once you enter you’re met by a wonder calming blueness.  The Russian Jewish painter, Marc Chagall, made the windows from 1978-1985 and they are truly stunning!Chagall Windows St Stephans Mainz Germany

Now it was time to head back to my hotel to get ready for dinner at Weinstube Hottum.  But before I stopped wandering, I strolled through Schillerplatz where I ran into the man himself along with the Carnival fountain, which is full of symbols and figures from the Mainz Carnival.  Schillerplatz is also lined with some beautiful buildings from the 1700’s – the Baroque Osteiner Hof and Bassenheimer Hof are two great examples of the architectural style of the day!Houses on Schillerplatz Mainz Germany

When I first arrived in Mainz, I wasn’t too sure how I felt the city.  By the time I finished my Sunday Stroll, I had fallen in love with this beautiful city on the Rhine! Mainz is a wonderful German city full of life and vitality.  It is also a short 30 minute train ride to Frankfurt airport so it would make a great beginning or ending to any trip to Germany.

 

Have you been to Mainz?

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people with the Mainz Tourist Office!

Visiting Zurich

Besides being in one of the most beautiful countries or having an excellent airport to fly into, why should you visit Zurich?  Here is a sponsored post that will shed a little light on Zurich Switzerland!


Located on the North Western tip of Lake Zurich is Switzerland’s most prevalent city, Zurich.  The history of Zurich dates back over 2000 years when the city was called Turicum. Today Zurich is a global leader and one of the world’s top financial centers, with numerous companies setting up research centers to take advantage of the low tax rate.  Zurich has been named Europe’s wealthiest city, with the world’s highest quality of life.  These elements in addition to the cities pristine location make it a truly extraordinary place to visit.

The Lake

With its illuminating blue water, and sprawling shore line this lake is a natural gem. The lake has a number of public beaches giving tourists easy access to the water. This is a bonus during the hot summer months as you will always be able to take a quick dip in the water to cool off! The lake also offers an array of different options for water sports. So if you are interested in sailing, water skiing, paddle boating, tubing or kayaking you will be able to do it on Zurich Lake.  For sail boat rentals close to the city of Zurich check out Zimi Sailing.

Zürich Switzerland and its lake

Zürich and lake Zürich by MadGeographer

Exploring the City

Zurich’s ancient history gives the city a special feeling. Take the time to explore Zurich by foot, as there are numerous historical sites and points of interests that should not be missed! Strolling along the Limmat River to the lake is a wonderful way to spend time.  Zurich also offers many museums, art galleries, theaters, churches, parks and exceptional shopping!  Of course, there are a variety of cafes and restaurant’s within the city that provide endless amounts of mouthwatering food that has to be tasted! For traditional Swiss food you might want to try a river side restaurant like Haus zum Rüden.

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich Switzerland

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich (Switzerland) by Roland zh

Chocolate

Swiss Chocolate has a world renowned reputation and for good reason! It is a must that you treat yourself to at least three different chocolates while visiting the city ;-) There are a variety of different choices of chocolate to pick from and a chocolate shop on every corner (or so it seems).  But if sweets are your passion, you don’t have to stop at chocolate.  You could opt for a traditional Luxemburgerli which is a special macaron. In addition the Lindt factory, only fifteen minutes from the city center, offers tours of the factory and discounted chocolate is sold!

Confiseur Läderach Zurich Switzerland

Confiseur Läderach by bigbirdz, on Flickr

Finding a hotel in Zurich

Switzerland is known for its high prices whether it be for food, souvenirs, or hotels. To help keep costs down, while getting a true feel for the Swiss culture, try staying with a local! This can easily be done through Wimdu who offers an online private rental platform with 50,000 listings worldwide. It is here that you will be able to find trendy city center rooms or quiet apartments just outside the city limits.

 

What is your favorite way to enjoy a day in Zurich?

Rostock – Devastation to Rebuilding

Originally founded in the 11th century, Rostock has seen many ups and downs in its history but none more traumatic than WWII.

While in Rostock I had a wonderful guide named Klaus (he actually reminded me of Bela Karoli).  As we toured the Neuer Markt and main shopping street, Klaus told me that during World War II Rostock sustained severe damage from Allied bombing.  In fact, most of the area we were standing had been destroyed by bombings.

While this impacted me at the time, it wasn’t until I came across this photo of Rostock from 1945 that the devastation really sunk in.  It was hard to believe the beautiful square had once looked like this!

The Neuer Markt is the heart of Rostock and seems to be a very well preserved Baroque square.  One side is bounded by these beautiful gabled houses.

While on the other is the Rathaus or Town Hall which has been standing here since the 13th century. Originally built in the Brick Gothic style found in the region, during the 18th century it was remodeled in this lovely Baroque style.

Leading from Neuer Markt is Kröpeliner Straße the main shopping street.

But all this beauty ceased to exist when horror struck in 1942 and 1944.  The proximity of 2 aircraft manufacturing companies made Rostock a prime Allied target.  (An interesting side note, one of these is the Heinkel plant which is where the world’s first jet engine airplane was produced.)

After the bombings, only 6 of the original gabled houses survived.

Today the city center has been rebuilt in the original style and maintains its historical character.

The devastation of this war has been felt in Rostock for years. A little paint and plaster helped repair the devastated buildings but it wasn’t until 1989, when Reunification took place, that the last reminders of WWII were finally erased.

 

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 Rostock Tourist Bureau!  To learn more about Germany off the Beaten Path, please visit the Historic Highlights of Germany

Prehistoric Questions from England & France

As a child I was not interested in history at all.  What was once my least favorite class in school has now turned into a fascination.  History can answer many questions we have about our past but it also leaves many questions unanswered.

One of the periods that has many unanswered questions is the Neolithic or New Stone Age. There are many questions surrounding the Neolithic period but none as interesting as the questions about the Megalithic monuments in Europe such as the stone circles found in Stonehenge and Avebury England or the menhirs and dolmens found in Carnac and Locmariaquer on the Brittany coast of France.

Stonehenge at Sunset England

Stonehenge at Sunset England by Jeffrey Pfau wikimedia

England is home to many prehistoric monuments but two of the more famous are found at Stonehenge and Avebury.

Avebury Stone Circles England

Avebury Stone Circles by Rxfelix

Avebury, the largest stone circle in England, was built around 2600 BC and contains three stone circles.  While we are not sure what the original purpose of the structure was, archaeologists believe it was most likely used for some type of ceremony.  Over the years, many archaeologists have suggested the ceremonies took place to make the “gods” happy.  Today the site is sacred to Pagans and New Age religions who believe the stone circles offer some type of psychic power.

Stonehenge England

Stonehenge by garethwiscombe wikimedia

Also in the Wiltshire County, Stonehenge is probably the most famous prehistoric monument in the world. The standing stones of Stonehenge are arranged in circles with stones that weigh up to 400 tons.  Again we are really not sure what Stonehenge’s purpose was but it is widely believed it was a type of calendar keeping track of the movements of the sun, moon and stars.  As with Avebury, Stonehenge is popular with New Age religions.  In fact, one New Age belief is that the stones, which came from Wales, were levitated to reach today’s location.  Leave it to engineers to throw water on this belief by saying they were probably rafted on rivers and then rolled on logs.

Dolmen de Kercadoret à Locmariaquer France

Dolmen de Kercadoret à Locmariaquer byJean-Charles GUILLO

France is also home to its fair share of prehistoric monuments dating from the Neolithic period which includes the menhirs and dolmens located along the Brittany coast in Carnac and Locmariaquer.

Carnac - Ménec Allignements Brittany France

Carnac - Ménec Allignements under Dark Clouds by Drriss, on Flickr

Carnac is home to about 2700 menhirs, dolmens and stone rows that are among the oldest found in Europe. Unlike the circles at Stonehenge, the menhirs in Carnac stand upright in a row stretching over a mile in length.  Near Locmariaquer are three sites dating back 7000 years and include the Grand Menhir brise and the dolmen La Table des Marchand.  A dolmen is a tomb that is made of standing stones with a stone slab for a roof.  As with Stonehenge and Avebury, the purpose of these are not known but are thought to have been built for astronomic or religious purposes.

Table des Marchand Locmariaquer France

Table des Marchand Locmariaquer by Myrabella Wikimedia

While history can tell us these monuments all date back to the Neolithic age, it hasn’t told us why or even how they were built.  I don’t know if we will ever know the real answers, so for now we’ll be happy to see them and wonder about all the possible answers!


Why do you think these prehistoric structures were built?