October 20, 2017

Exploring the Alps via National Parks

One of Europe’s greatest mountain range is The Alps which stretch 750 miles from Slovenia in the east through Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany before ending in France in the west.  These mountains are known for their towering peaks, expansive glaciers, green meadows, wildflowers and wildlife.  There may be no better way to experience the Alps than in one of the protected National Parks.

Here are six National Parks you’ll find while exploring the Alps!

Lake Bohinj with church Triglav National Park Slovenia

Lake Bohinj with church by Rosino

Known for its scenery, hiking and skiing is the Triglav National Park in Slovenia.  This area is full of picture postcard moments including craggy mountains, glacial Lake Bohinj, Soca and Sava Rivers, wild flowers and waterfalls.  Experience the park through the Slovenian Alpine Museum or its hiking and biking trails.  Mountaineering is also popular.

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle Austria

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle by thisisbossi, on Flickr

Crossing into Austria you’ll find more amazing mountains as you enter the Alpine region.  One of Austria’s National Parks is the Hohe Tauern National Park.  Covering 708 square miles the park is the largest nature reserve in the Alps and home to beautiful glaciers, valley’s, tundra, clear lakes, gold mines and waterfalls.  The mountains, lakes, rivers and meadows are home to chamois, alpine ibex and golden eagles.  Enjoy the park on one of the wonderful hiking trails or by a guided tour which are offered during the summer.

Valle Imperina Dolomati National Park Italy

Valle Imperina by Andrea Omizzolo, on Flickr

The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park in Italy is most known for the varied hiking, flora, wildlife, cliffs, ravines and stunning mountains.  The park is home to springs, two lakes and streams full of trout.  The Dolomite’s are some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountains in all of Europe.  This park located in the south east Alps and is also home to many Karst formations including the largest cave in Italy.

Autumn in Berchtesgaden National Park Germany

Autumn in Berchtesgaden National Park by springm / Markus Spring, on Flickr

On the border with Austria is the Berchtesgaden National Park.  The southern corner of Germany is home to one of the country’s tallest mountains, the Watzmann, which shadows over stunning Lake Konigsee.  The park is full of wonderful hiking and cycling trails both in the valley and at high altitudes where you may see ibex, eagles and marmots along with beautiful wild flowers.  Berchtesgaden National Park is known for its stunning alpine scenery and there is no better place to experience this than taking the Jenner cable car up to the edge of the park!

Swiss National Park Switzerland

Swiss National Park by Hansueli Krapf

The Swiss National Park is known for its hiking trails and alpine scenery.  The only national park in Switzerland has over 21 hiking trails spread over 50 miles.  The routes range in difficulty from easy to Alpine trails requiring technical equipment.  While enjoying the park keep your eyes open for golden eagles, bearded vultures and chamois.

View from the Roc du Tambour Vanoise National Park France

View from the Roc du Tambour by Matthieu LIENART, on Flickr

One of the most popular outdoor areas in France is Vanoise National Park.  The beautiful mountain scenery is splendid during any season. The park is a haven for skiers during the winter while summer is a delight to hikers.  While in the park you may see alpine ibex, chamois and other animals.

Would you visit a National Park in the Alps?

This post is being shared in celebration of Earth Day as part of a Nature Travel roundup. Check our more “Natural” adventures at the Green Global Traveler!

Art Around Town – Statues & Fountains

I’ve got good news for those of you that don’t like museums!  To see art you don’t have to enter a museum.

Walking around a town you will run into all kinds of interesting and beautiful pieces of art.  As with all art, they can and do evoke all kinds of feelings and are a great way to learn a little history including who or what is important to the citizens.

I’ve found Statues and Fountains  wandering Europe that . . .

Honors Brave Deeds as the the Girondist column and fountain in Bordeaux France!  This beautiful column celebrates a small group of revolutionaries who banded together to save the republic.

Girondist Column Bordeaux France

Added to the peace and beauty of a garden as do all the statues and fountains found in Mirabell Gardens.  These Gardens are one of  the most popular places in Salzburg Austria and the artwork really adds to the beauty of the gardens (IMO)!

Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

Told a tale of unrequited love depicted in the lovely Matthias Fountain found on Budapest’s Castle Hill.  The Fountain depicts a hunting scene where the young King met and fell in love with a peasant girl.

Matthias Fountain Budapest Hungary

Honors a beloved ruler like  Kunigunde.   King Heinrich and his wife, Kunigunde, made Bamberg their home and are one of Bamberg’s favorite rulers.

Kunigunde Bamberg Germany

Impressed me with the artistic ability of the craftsman.   At the southern entrance to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna Austria are statues depicting “The Labors of Hercules” by Lorenzo Matelli.  I found them all to be amazing and this is just one!

Labors of Hercules Vienna Austria

Even add a lighthearted feel to a city street.  Look who I ran into on a corner in Potsdam Germany – The Green Family! No clue what the significance is, I just found it interesting 🙂

Green Family Potsdam Germany

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t feel they like art, I think we’ve all been impressed by some of the Statues and Fountains we’ve stumbled into while traveling.

 

What Statues and Fountains have impressed you?

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Unnoticed Architectural Gems of Europe

While traveling I find myself amazed by all the gorgeous architecture. Whether we know it or not, I think most of us enjoy architecture while traveling.  We may not know it’s Gothic or Rococo or Baroque but we know we like it!

I think it’s also safe to say, we all can name some of the more famous architectural buildings in European cities. Notre Dame in Paris, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany or the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain are a few examples of well known buildings.  But I love exploring those beauties that seem to be unnoticed.

Here are three lovely architectural specimens that may not make it on your
travel list but may be worth taking the time to see!

Majolica House, Vienna Austria

Majolica House Vienna Austria

Majolica Haus (1898-1899) by loungerie, on Flickr

Vienna is full of architectural gems including St. Stephens and Schönbrunn Palace but don’t miss out on the other architectural stars of the city.  Majolica House is one of those we may overlook.  The building was designed by Otto Wagner who was a prominent architect in Vienna and member of a group of artists that rebelled against the older traditional styles.  Built between 1898 and 1899, the façade of Majolica House is actually painted ceramic tiles made in a technique called Majolica.  I think Wagner’s use of modern materials, color and traditional decoration has created a very lovely Art Nouveau building.

Majolica House Vienna Austria

Otto Wagner - Majolica House by pioilo, on Flickr

30 St Mary Axe, London England

30 St Mary Axe London England

30 St Mary Axe by Kadellar

I think from its shape you can tell why this building has the nickname “the Gherkin”. Sitting 591 ft tall in the financial district is one of London’s newest and most controversial symbols.  The skyscraper at 30 St Mary Axe was completed in 2003 in a modern style of architecture.  The diamond shaped light and dark glass help make the building appear to be a spiral.  This new building is very modern looking but I’m not really sure how it fits in with London’s other architectural treasures like Big Ben or Buckingham Palace!

Wiblingen Abbey and Library, Ulm Germany

Rococo Wiblingen Library Ulm Germany

Wiblingen Library by Enslin

Between Munich and Stuttgart lies Ulm Germany. Besides being the birthplace of Albert Einstein, Ulm is also the home of Wiblingen Abbey and Library.  While the abbey was founded in 1093, the current buildings date back to 1714 and are examples of the late Baroque style of architecture.  Even though the abbey itself is very beautiful, it is the sunning library that must be seen! Finished in 1744, the frescoed ceilings, columns, statues and other ornamentation combine to make one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture.  Ulm itself is not on the normal tourist track but maybe it should be if only to see this lovely library!

 

What other unnoticed architectural gems should be added to the list?

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!

Royal Crypts – The Burial Places of European Monarchs

One of the reasons I love visiting Europe is its vast history. I am always awed by the depth of European history. This history is definitely intertwined with the lives of European Kings and Queens and I not only learn by visiting the places they lived but by seeing where they rest today.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting cemeteries and royal crypts.

If you’re like me and enjoy visiting royal crypts, here are 6 that you may find interesting.

Speyer Cathedral, Germany

What Clovis I began in 1030 is today a symbol of Imperial power. Between this date and 1308 the cathedral became the burial site of 8 Emperors, Kings and their wives. The UNESCO World Heritage site is known as one of the most important Romanesque sites in Germany and the crypt is actually the largest Hall Crypt in Europe.
Speyer Cathedral Hall Crypt Germany

Speyer Cathedral Hall Crypt by Mussklprozz at de.wikipedia

Church of Our Lady in Laeken Belgium

This neo-Gothic Catholic church contains the Royal crypt that is the final resting place of the Belgian Royal family including the first King and Queen of Belgium, Leopold I and Louise-Marie. In fact, it was King Leopold I that originally had the church built in memory of his wife, Queen Louise-Marie. Built during the 19th century, today the Royal crypt holds the remains of all Belgian Kings.

Imperial Crypt Austria

The Imperial Crypt in Vienna has been the main burial site for the members of the Hapsburg family since 1622. It was Anna of Tyrol who, in her will, gave the funding for the crypt. Today it is one of the most visited places in all of Vienna. As I mentioned in The Hapsburgs: Living Large in Life and Death, this is the final resting place of 12 Emperors and 18 Empresses. The sarcophagi range from rather plain to very ornate and the amount of decoration seems to correlate to the importance of the person.
Crypt Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor Vienna Austria

Crypt of Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor

Roskilde Cathedral Denmark

The Roskilde Cathedral was constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries and is located on the island of Zealand. Besides being the main burial site of Danish Royalty this is the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick. There are many burial chapels within the cathedral containing the remains of Danish royalty.
Roskilde Cathedral Crypt Denmark

Roskilde Dom by Fingalo

Westminster Abbey England

The oldest part of Westminster Abbey dates from 1050 and until 1760, this mainly Gothic church in London, was the burial place for English and British monarchs. The monarchs are buried inside the chapels of the church while other significant persons are buried in the cloisters and other areas on the grounds. Queen Elizabeth I and Bloody Queen Mary are among the monarchs buried in the Abbey.
Tomb Effigies of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York Westminster Abbey London England

Tomb Effigies of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York by lisby1, on Flickr

St Denis Basilica France

Located near Paris, this medieval Abbey was a burial place of French Kings and their families from the 10th – 18th centuries. In fact, all but three Kings of France are buried here many in “cadaver tombs”. These double-decker tombs have the person’s effigy on top and a decomposing effigy underneath. Among those buried hear include Clovis I and what remains of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
St Denis Cathedral France

St Denis by Roi Boshi

Do you visit Royal Crypts?

Its A Door Thing

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious
and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney

Hi my name is Debbie and I have a door “thing”.

I was going through pictures from a recent European trip and kept noticing all the pictures I took of doors!

Yes doors!


I’ve never realized I have a fixation on doors but the evidence was staring me in the face – picture after picture of doors.

I had pictures church doors like this one at St. Stephans Church in Mainz Germany,St. Stephan's Church Door Mainz Germany

Crazy kaleidoscope doors I found while strolling the streets and alleys of Freiburg Germany,Crazy Door Freiburg Germany

Dramatic doors I marveled at in Rostock Germany,Dramatic Door on Brick Building Rostock Germany

Splendid portals leading to Efurt Germany’s Wedding House (wouldn’t it be wonderful getting married here?),Haus zum Sonneborn Door Erfurt Germany

and Doors that look small and lonely like this one I found in Salzburg Austria.Small and Lonely Door Salzburg Austria

I know I have a problem because I have so many more picture of doors to share with you!  But they say admitting the addiction is the first step to healing, right?

And now that you know the truth, please don’t judge me because I don’t think I’m the only one with strange addictions like this.

 

What subjects do you have a “thing” for?

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!

Romance – European Style

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, romance is in the air!

There are cities like Paris that are known as romantic but to me romance is in the eye of the beholder.  With romance in the air, I thought it would be fun to look at a few European destinations that are romantic.

Here are three European locations that have the glamour, enchantment and fairy tale feel to them to bring out the romantic side in me.

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Old Town Switzerland

Lucerne Old Town along River

What isn’t romantic about scenery like this?  Lucerne and her lake have to be one of the most beautiful and romantic places in Europe! Everywhere you look you’ll be rewarded with beautiful mountain views.  Enjoy a romantic stroll through the old town marveling at medieval buildings or along the river.  Another romantic adventure is a steamer trip on the lake maybe even stopping off at one of the villages along the shores.   Splurging on one of the romantic lake side hotels will cap off the romance of the city!

Salzburg Austria

View from Hohensalzburg Salzburg Austria

View from Hohensalzburg Salzburg

The storybook quality of Salzburg is palpable and oozes from every corner. Salzburg is a beautiful city full of gardens, history, architectural gems, music and other cultural events.  The views from atop the Hohenbsalzburg will take your breath away and leave you feeling peaceful.  A visit to the many Sound of Music locations will bring back fond memories and a smile to your face if not a song in your heart plus they are some of the most beautiful and romantic locations in the city. A leisurely stroll through the Altstadt after dinner is a wonderful way to end the day.  It is truly a serene time of day and the darkening sky will certainly put you in a romantic mood.

Ludwig’s Castles & Small Villages of Bavaria Germany

Neuschwantstein Castle Bavaria Germany

Neuschwantstein Castle by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

If you find mountains, castles, charming villages and beautiful vistas romantic then this part of Southern Germany is for you! The well known Neuschwanstein Castle will not disappoint those looking for a romantic retreat. The castle’s fairy tale feel has been sparking romance for eons.  After spending time at the castle, I suggest a walk in the mountains or visits to the many nearby traditional Bavarian villages.  Explore their streets lined with painted houses and buildings adorned with window boxes overflowing with flowers.  Enjoy learning about traditional crafts like wood working or violin making. For romantic lodging, experience a traditional Bavarian guest house!

 

What European city or area brings out your Romantic side?

This is my entry for Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon at Solitary Wanderer. This months theme is “Most Romantic Places in Europe”.

European Lodging – The Choice is Yours

George Bernard Shaw said “The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a great refuge from home life”. This too true statement is indicative of why the choice of hotel when traveling is so difficult and important!

Luckily Europe has many different lodging options which will add to the enjoyment of your escape! Here are a few that I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed at.Alpenrose Hotel Mittenwald Germany

Hotels can be wonderful traditional guest houses like Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Hotel Alpenrose in Mittenwald Germany. Make sure you know whether they have elevators and are prepared for stairs if they don’t! Also make sure you know whether there is a bar or restaurant on the first floor. This may mean it may be a bit noisier than expected.View Schloss Hotel Rheinfels Germany

They can be Luxury class beauties set on the shores of an equally beautiful lake as with Palace Hotel on Lake Lucerne and Suisse Majestic Montreux Switzerland or seaside in the Hotel du Palais Biarritz France or even have amazing views of rivers like the Schloss Hotel Rheinfels in St. Goar Germany. I don’t have the opportunity to stay in luxury hotels often since the price is not usually in my budget but can say I’ve enjoyed staying in luxury accommodations even if I wonder if they are really me.

Gasthof Fraundorfer Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

Gasthof Fraundorfer by Q-BEE, on Flickr

There are 4 star large basic properties conveniently located for train travel such as the Intercity Hotel in Mainz and Hotel Excelsior Erfurt Germany. Not usually my first choice but I really did enjoy how close they were to the train station and the city centers of both were easily reached.

Green hotels like Hotel Victoria Freiburg Germany which boasts they are the “most eco friendly hotel in the world” and they just might be! All electricity and heat come from renewable sources like solar, wind and wood pellet heating. The thermal solar panels on the roof and the natural materials used throughout hotel make for a wonderful experience and the Victoria is also convenient to both the train station and city center!BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany

Historic architectural treasures in perfect locations – Old Town city centers – but not completely convenient for train travel BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany and Kasererbraeu Salzburg Austria. The beautiful building housing the Barockhotel dates back to 1520 while the Kasererbraeu is from 1342 and was once a monastery and brewery before becoming protected by UNESCO!

Hotels I’m glad I read the online reviews of so I wasn’t completely frightened by the entrance, Panorama Central in Budapest. A wonderful oasis once you got inside but honestly a little unsettling getting to! Moral to this story, READ online reviews!

Known for its history and spa, Schwarzer Bock Wiesbaden. I’ve been lucky to stay here two times and can say this is one of my favorite hotels. Dating back to 1486, the Schwarzer Bock is a classic beauty- luxurious and yet very comfortable. And in a wonderful location!

Hotel I fell in love with because there was a heat wave and it was air conditioned refrigerated, Grauer Baer Innsbruck! I would stay at this property again because it was very convenient to Old Town and train station.

While my preferred type of lodgings are guest houses and architectural and historic beauties, in some way, all of the hotels I’ve stayed in have added to my enjoyment and experience I had in their cities and villages.

What do you look for when choosing a hotel for your trip?

The Hapburgs: Living Large in Life and Death

For better or worse, the Hapsburg’s left an undeniable mark on the history of Europe.  The historical capital of the dynasty is Vienna Austria and anyone visiting this Imperial city set along the Danube can not escape the Hapsburg Empire.

The Hapsburg’s are Vienna and while touring the many sites of this dynasty you learn about their history and get a glimpse of their opulent lives.  But this grandeur did not end at death!

More Imperial Crypt of Hapsburg Vienna Austria

Ornate crypts including some children

The Imperial Crypt is the resting place of 146 Hapsburg relatives dating back to 1633. The last person interred was Otto von Hapsburg, the son of Charles I, who died in 2011.

Entering the crypt you will notice a hush falling over the place much like in a cemetery.  This somber and respectful quiet is fitting since this is the final resting place of 12 Emperors and 18 Empresses.

Imperial Crypt of Hapsburg Vienna Austria

Crypt that is less ornate

The decoration on the sarcophagi ranges from very simple to extremely ornate. You can definitely tell who was important or at least thought they were! Inside each are wood coffins draped in different color fabric and trim depending on the stature of the person.

Crypt of Maria Theresa Vienna Austria

Crypt of Maria Theresa

On each sarcophagus you may see religious symbols and other symbols of power.  I’m not sure I understand the skulls with royal crowns, though.

Crypt Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor Vienna Austria

Crypt of Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor

Keeping with royal tradition, only the bodies are interred here.  The royal hearts are kept in urns at the Augustinerkirche while entrails are located in the catacombs below St. Stephens Cathedral.

Yes the Hapsburg’s lived large and rest in peace in much the same way.

 

I’m sharing these photo’s as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Photographic Europe: More of my Favorites!

Last week I shared with you some of my favorite travel photographs in Capturing the Colors of Europe.

This week I’m sharing 3 photos that didn’t make the cut.


Wandering around Salzburg last summer not only did I run into my favorite fast food but also this lovely corridor full of many colorful flowers!  Salzburg has so many worthwhile sites to see but I wholeheartedly recommend you spend time just wandering.  The results will be worth it!Lovely Corridor Salzburg Austria

A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend time along the Moselle river in Germany before ending up in the lovely Roman city of Trier.  Even though I only spent a short time along this beautiful river, it left a impression on me and is one of the many areas in Germany I would love to explore more thoroughly!  Besides the wine found along the Moselle, this area is full of charming villages like Traben-Trarbach that are mesmerizing.Traben Trarbach Moselle River Germany

Montreux Switzerland sits on the banks of Lake Geneva and is full of the charm and views you come to expect in this scenic country.  It is also a great city to use as a base. There are many sites within easy reach including Lausanne, wineries and scenic Gruyeres!  One thing I enjoy so much about Europe is it’s abundance of gardens and flowers.  This lovely garden in Montreux is no exception.Montreux Garden Switzerland

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!