June 27, 2017

Whimsical Salzburg

One of Austria’s most popular cities is Salzburg. The city known for Mozart, the Sound of Music and marionettes has a fun and whimsical side that can be found at Hellbrunn Palace.

On my last visit to Mozart’s city I purchased a Salzburg card which included free use of the busses and many discounted or free entrances to Salzburg’s sights including Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains.  So I hopped on the bus and a short ride later was at Hellbrunn.

Grotto Dining Table Hellbrunn Salzburg Austria

Hellbrunn Palace is a Baroque villa built by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg as a summer house and a place to hold outrageous parties.  Built in 1612, in the Italian style of architecture, Hellbrunn is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture north of the Alps. The beautiful grounds hold the Palace, park, gardens and the popular trick fountains.

Hellbrunn Fountain Salzburg Austria

Your ticket includes an audio tour of the palace which can be done either before or after you tour the trick fountains. While the palace is interesting, it is the trick fountains that attract most visitors!

Dining Table Hellbrunn Salzburg Austria

During your time at Hellbrunn you’ll see elaborate grottoes, sculptures, statues, ponds, fountains and the fabulous trick dining table.

Getting Wet at Dining Table Helbrunn Salzburg Austria

Touring the trick fountains you’ll come across a miniature theater and water.   Lots of water which will be coming at you from every direction even from the occasional deer head!  Keep this in mind, you will get wet!

Deer Head and Pond Hellbrunn Salzburg Austria

The whimsical trick fountains are funny and quite an architectural and engineering feat for the 1600’s!

Grotto Statue Hellbrunn Salzburg Austria

Upon exiting the fountain tour you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful gardens full of flowers, ponds and statues. They’re also a great place to enjoy an ice cream or picnic before getting back on that bus headed back to town.

Statue Hellbrunn Salzburg Austria

Hellbrunn is a fun and peaceful adventure not far from Salzburg’s Old Town and one that is enjoyed by young and old alike.


These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!
For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Maybe I’ll see you there!

Signs of Spring

I have a love-hate relationship with spring. My allergies hate it but in every other way I love spring. Spring is a rebirth. The sun comes out a bit more, snow starts melting, rivers fill up, trees come back to life and flowers start blooming. There are a lot of destinations where you can enjoy the signs of spring one of which is Europe.

Here are a few of my favorite European signs of spring!

Trees bloom and push green leaves,

Spring Trees in London England

Spring Trees by celesteh, on Flickr

Driving is a joy as the wild flowers crop up,

Wildflowers in Loire Valley France

Wildflowers in Loire Valley by celesteh, on Flickr

But its not just wild flowers. Spring brings color popping up everywhere!

Daffodils in Kensington Gardens England

Daffodils in Kensington Gardens... by Paul-in-London, on Flickr

Which brings me to one of my fondest spring memories. Back in April 1984 my husband and I were in London England wandering through Kensington Gardens and were awestruck by all the daffodils coming up, literally everywhere, all while it was ever so lightly snowing. If you’ve never been to London in spring, I highly recommend it!

Tulips in the Flevopolder Holland

Tulips in the Flevopolder by ingo.ronner, on Flickr

Tulips are definitely a sign of spring and there isn’t a better place to enjoy them than in Holland. In the small town of Lisse, just south of Amsterdam, is the biggest and best known Tulip festival. From mid-March to late May Holland celebrates everything about the tulip. The tulips stretch for miles and miles making such a beautiful sight!

Along with flowers comes better weather which pushes people outside. Whether its for the Paris marathon or a walk in the park, people just start moving more. This must be why it is also the start of festival season!

Both Munich and Stuttgart Germany have Spring Festivals that are similar to Oktoberfest but much smaller. Those Germans like to celebrate their beer at every season, don’t they?

Almond Blossoms near Neustadt Germany

Almond Blossoms near Neustadt Germany courtesy of Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse, Tourist Kongress und Sallbau GmbH

But the Germans don’t just celebrate beer! The first wine festival of the year, the Almond Blossom Festival, is held in Gimmeldingen every March and April. During spring, the entire area is bathed in a beautiful pink hue from the blossoming Almond trees. Gimmeldingen is in the Rheinland-Pfalz region and is also known for its wine so don’t get so taken by the blossoms that you forget to have some of the local wine!

Trimming White Asparagus in Mannheim Germany

Trimming White Asparagus in Mannheim Germany by Andrew Cowin

One of my favorite times to visit Germany is during Spargelsaison (White Asparus Season). This spring event is brought on by the warming sun which brings White Asparugus to villages all over the country! Once only eaten by nobility, today the lovely asparagus is enjoyed by everyone. There is even a Baden Asparagus Route where you can enjoy a lovely drive through the countryside providing most of the asparagus plus encounter an Aspargus Festival or two! Maybe you’ll run into the Asparagus King or be the champion asparagus peeler!

These are a few of my favorite signs of spring,

What are yours??

 

 

This post is part of the spring-themed blog carnival hosted at Traveling with Sweeney.
Be sure to check out all the spring related posts!

Keeping An Eye To The Ground In Freiburg

Freiburg Germany is a walkers city that is very beautiful and  full of amazing buildings, history and food. So it’s no wonder that while wandering Freiburg you’d want to keep your eyes up so you don’t miss any of the amazing architectural details.

But there are at least 2 reasons you’ll want to also keep an eye to the ground during your visit in Freiburg – Mosaics and Bächle!

University Mosaic Freiburg Germany

By keeping an eye to the ground, you’ll make sure you notice the pretty mosaics found in front of many shops dotting the Old Town.

Scissor Mosaic Freiburg Germany

The mosaics alert you to what you’ll find inside. For example, a diamond indicates a jeweler, scissors a seamstress and a cow a butcher. They really are quite unique and interesting!

One of Freiburg’s most famous sights are the Bächle. These little canals run along the streets and alleys of the Old Town are enjoyed by everyone but especially young children and dogs!

Bachle Freiburg Germany

Dog in Bachle Freiburg Germany

There are even stands in the Old Town selling boats to float in the Bächle.

Freiburg Germany Bachle Collage
Even though many people believe the Bächle were made to bring drinking water into the city, my guide told me they were actually for fighting fires and could be dammed up to provide more water closer to where the fire was!

Besides not knowing the truth about their purpose, there is also at least one superstition about the Bächle. It is said you’ll marry a Freiburger if you accidentally step in one, so its important to watch your step. . . unless, of course, you want to stay in Freiburg!

Which doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

 

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!
For more great pictures,make sure to 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 with the Freiburg Tourist Office!  If you need more information on Freiburg, please visit their websites.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Castles Along the Vistula

The rivers of Europe wind their way through the heartland of the continent. Historically, cities were established along rivers because they offered drinking water and transportation.  Today we admire the old-world cities, historic villages, beautiful countryside, medieval cathedrals and enchanting castles found along the banks of Europe’s rivers.

Along with the Thames, Seine, Danube and Rhine rivers, the Vistula is one of Europe’s great rivers.

Vistula River near Torun Poland

Vistula River near Torun by Pko

Traversing Poland from south to north, the Vistula is the largest river in Poland traveling 651 miles before reaching the Baltic at Gdansk.  Although the river passes many of Poland’s greatest cities it also flows past near picture perfect mountains, foothills, enchanting cities, grassy banks full of flowers and castles.

Here are some of the castles and palaces you’ll find along the Vistula.

Wawel Castle Krakow Poland

Wawel Castle Krakow by Eigenwerk

Wawel Castle in Krakow


Standing 150 feet above Krakow is Wawel Castle.  Built in the 10th century and starting out in the Romanesque style, the castle today is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.  Wawel castle remained the home of Polish royalty for 500 years and is known for its elegant rooms, galleries and tapestries.  The grounds also include a cathedral which houses the royal tombs.

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Arcade by Jerzy Strzelecki

Baranow Sandomierski Castle Poland

Baranow Sandomierski Castle by Jerzy Strzelecki

Castle of Baranow Sandomierski


This beautiful castle, also known as “Little Wawel”, sits on the east side of the Vistula river.  It was built from 1591 – 1606 in Poland’s Mannerist style.  The Mannerist style usually has ornate attics, side towers and arcades and was replaced by the Baroque style.  Today this castle serves as a museum, hotel and conference center.

Janowiec Castle Ruins Poland

Janowiec Castle Ruins by Piotr J


Janowiec Castle


The castle was originally built during the 16th century and today is mostly in ruins although there are renovations taking place in an attempt to bring the castle back to life.  This impressive castle and grounds are worth the short hike and include a museum on Royal Interiors.

Pałace Wilanow Poland

Pałace Wilanow by A. Osytek


Wilanow Royal Palace


Wilanow, a suburb of Warsaw on the left bank of the Vistula, is home to a Royal Palace that was built for King Jan III Sobieski as his summer residence. The Baroque 17th century palace is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Poland.  The interiors are said to be exquisite as are the lawns and Italian style gardens.

Royal Castle Warsaw Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw by sfu

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom Poland

Royal Castle Warsaw Ballroom by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy

Royal Castle in Warsaw


For centuries this Royal Castle was the residence of Polish Kings and the Seat of Parliament. In fact, Nicholas I of Russia was crowned King of Poland here in 1829. This 15th century Gothic castle has a commanding brick façade but is best known for its spires.  At the center is the Sigismund Tower with clock which has become one of the symbols of Poland’s capital.  Many of the rooms have been restored including the Royal apartments and Houses of Parliament.

Pieskowa Skala Castle Poland

Pieskowa Skala Castle by Marek & Ewa Wojciechowscy


Pieskowa Skala Castle


The position of this castle really lends to the fairy tale feel you get when visiting Pieskowa Skala.  Dating back to the 14th century, the castle sits on a limestone cliff and is part of a series of castles built to protect the area during Medieval times.  Pieskowa Skala castle is inside the Ojcow National Park and was built in the Renaissance style.  While visiting make sure to see the beautiful courtyards and visit the renovated rooms and artifacts from the local area.

 

Well that’s just a taste of the Castles along the Vistula!

 

Have you been to Poland and any of these castles?

A Summer Residence Fit for a King

Sitting just outside Berlin, Potsdam is the perfect place to escape the city, which is how Potsdam became the playground for the Prussian Royal family and explains why there are so many palaces in this one city!

Looking Back at Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

Longing to get away from all the rigors of royal duties in Berlin, Frederick the Great had a beautiful Rococo palace built in Potsdam between 1745 – 1747. Sanssouci Palace became the kings summer residence and has been likened to Versailles outside of Paris.

South Side Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

The Palace has 10 main rooms on one floor which are open to the public. The rooms are very beautiful and contain many memorabilia to Frederick including furniture and art.

Chandelier Gold Room Sanssuci Palace Potsdam Germany

The walls themselves are pieces of art!

Beautiful Room Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

Amazingly, and luckily, the GDR maintained the Palace and grounds during their occupation. Once reunification happened many of the statues, books and art were returned to Sanssouci. Also at this time, Frederick’s wish to have his body interred on the grounds was granted.

Potato King Tomb Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

The tomb of the “potato king” sits over looking the beautiful gardens. It is said Frederick the Great introduced potatoes to Germany. In fact, it seems he enjoyed them so much he served them at state dinners and handed them out when visiting other towns. True or not, people still adorn his tomb with potatoes!

View from park Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

At the back of the palace there is a beautiful terraced hill leading down to a fountain and further into the park. The park is very colorful and beautiful as well as full of amazing views back up to the palace!

Fountain and Statue Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

Sanssouci means “without concerns” and seems to be a very fitting name for this lovely palace. Even with the all the tourists, the palace and park feel peaceful and relaxing.

Flower Room Sanssuci Palace Potsdam Germany

Both the palace and the park have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.

Fountain Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

As I’ve stated before, I love visiting castles and palaces and prior to leaving for Germany was very excited to visit Sanssouci. But it was the park that grabbed me. On my next visit, I will spend more time wandering the different gardens, statues and palaces that are inside the boundary of this wonderful park.

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!
For more great pictures,make sure to 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.

How Gutenberg Changed the World in Mainz

During my exploration of Historic Germany, I visited Mainz a wonderful city on the Rhine River that’s known for Chagall blue stained glass windows in St. Stephans, its beautiful old town, a dominate Romanesque Cathedral and, of course, being the center of Germany’s largest wine region!

Mainz is one of Germany’s oldest towns so it makes sense that a lot of history has passed through its streets and its no surprise that one event taking place in Mainz literally changed the world!

Prior to 1439, books and schools were very expensive and, therefore, reserved for only wealthy men.  In fact, higher education was reserved for boys that would devote their lives to the church.

Johannes Gutenberg Mainz Germany

Johannes Gutenberg Mainz Germany

Johannes Gutenberg, born in Mainz during 1398, invented the movable type printing press here in 1439. The Gutenberg Press introduced printing to Europe and changed the world by spreading learning to the people.  This one invention was the fuel for revolutions that spread across the world from the Renaissance to the Scientific Revolution!

What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage, … for the bad that his colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.” Mark Twain

Beginning in 1452, Gutenberg printed 180 Bibles.  The 48 Gutenberg Bibles still existing today are thought to be the most valuable books in the world.

Gutenberg Museum Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Museum Facade Mainz Germany

The Gutenberg Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world dedicated to printing.  The administration and restoration department are housed in the beautiful Zum Romischen Kaiser building while the exhibits on printing equipment, techniques, graphics, paper and examples of printed materials from different countries are housed a few steps away.

Gutenberg Press Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Press Mainz Germany

It is here that you will be able to see replicas of Gutenberg’s printing press, demonstrations, and glimpse two Gutenberg Bibles on display.

Gutenberg Bible Mainz Germany

Gutenberg Bible by yoTraveler, on Flickr

Gutenberg’s printing press saved time and money making books more readily available leading to a more learned population which, in turn, caused people to read more and ask questions.  Another way Gutenberg’s printing press contributed to changing the world was through the life of a young man in Erfurt Germany, Martin Luther.

But that’s a story for another day!


 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!
For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Maybe I’ll see you there!

Discovering Ireland!

Last month I wrote a post about my European travel dreams for this year. I still haven’t made any plans yet but as I go over my European dreams I’ve been asking myself, what is it that draws me to Ireland?

In no particular order, here are 6 reasons Ireland is calling me!

Dramatic Landscape
Ireland is known for her spectacular scenery, varied landscapes, cliffs tumbling to the sea, seascapes, lakes, and many shades of green. I want to experience the translucent lakes of Killarney, see the masted boats in Kinsale harbor and picture perfect towns like Inistioge and Adare. In the southwest, the Beara and Iveragh Peninsulas are full of wild and gorgeous scenery while the Dingle peninsula is known for its harsh but beautiful land and seascapes. Ireland is also home to many prehistoric sights including the eerie megalithic tombs, ancient huts and rock formations found in the Burren. And then there is the excavation at Ceide Fields which is home to settlements older than the pyramids!

Cliffs of Moher Clare County Ireland

Cliffs of Moher by Shannon Development

Pubs, Music, Beer, Whiskey & Tea
Ireland seems to be synonymous with Guinness but besides this traditional beer, I’d also like to enjoy many of the ales the country is known for. Even though I’m not a whiskey fan, a tour and taste of this locally distilled beverage will make it on my itinerary! One of the things Ireland is most famous for are its pubs and it’s the pubs that are probably on the top of my list. I want to experience traditional Irish music and have conversations with local folks, which will be the best souvenir! Afternoons of tea and dinners of traditional Irish food will top off my culinary discoveries.

Jameson Distillery Dublin Ireland

Jameson Distillery by the Jameson Distillery

Lodging options
Ireland is known for its hospitality and one way to experience this is through the many different styles of lodging. From farmhouses, cottages, country houses to Bed & Breakfast’s and elegant castles there is a vast array of choices and I want to experience many different types including a Castle! Dromoland, Ashford and Adare Manor are some of the more famous in this category but there are other Castle hotels, such as Ballynahinch Castle, that are not as well-known.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel Galway Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel by Manor House Hotels

History, Castles, Cathedrals and Fortresses
Anywhere I travel, one of my joys is learning about the local history. To say Ireland has a vast and varied history is an understatement. Ireland’s history dates back to 8000 BC and has seen invasions of Vikings, English, Normans and others. The tumultuous history includes wars for independence and other rebellions which have all left their mark on the country but have also made it what it is today. The remnants can been see in the many castles, fortresses and cathedrals dotting the land. “The gift of gab” will be mine after visiting Blarney Castle and its very famous stone. There are Bronze Age forts, monastic sites dating to early Christianity, Viking walls and Georgian estates strewn across the land. Waiting is Charles Fort, which has stood since Norman times, James Fort, Bunratty Castle, Kylemore Abbey, medieval Trim castle and the well preserved Cahir Castle.

Kylemore Abbey Connemara Ireland

Kylemore Abbey by Chris Hill 2006

Outdoor Activities
Normally I prefer sailing in fair weather but would make an exception to sail the waters near Ireland. Sailing is such a peaceful endeavor and when it comes with amazing views, I just don’t think I could pass up spending some time on the seas. With all the wonderful landscape I’ll find in Ireland, hiking seems like the perfect way to see and experience parts most people miss. I grew up fly fishing and wouldn’t miss a chance to drop a line in one of the pretty rivers traversing Ireland.

Killarney Lakes Kerry Ireland

Killarney Lakes by Tourism Ireland

People
When I visit Ireland, I want to take the time to really experience Ireland and a big part of this will be its people. I have long heard about the wonderful people in Ireland, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a negative thing said about the Irish! The Irish are known to be friendly, relaxed, funny and kind. A fellow travel blogger, Jeremy Branham said in an article on Irish Central “. . . the Irish people are the friendliest I’ve ever met.”

American Folk Park - Bluegrass Festival Omagh Ireland

American Folk Park - Bluegrass Festival by Geray Sweeney

For a small country, Ireland seems to have more of everything. Each turn of the road displays more green, more history, more soul, more beer and I want to experience it all!

Why would you go to Ireland?

All images are courtesy of Tourism Ireland.