June 27, 2017

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!

InterRail: A Book Review

As I said in Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass, I think we all want to travel around Europe by train.  In the book “InterRail” by Alessandro Gallenzi the main character, Francesco, lives all our dreams.

As a young adult, Francesco decides to leave his home in Italy to travel around Europe using an InterRail pass. During his rail trip he meets quite a few people, some even become lifelong friends, and has an adventure full of intrigue.

Munchen Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munchen by Andrew Bossi

His first stop is Munich, Germany where he meets an interesting con man named Pierre who is the catalyst for most of Francesco’s intrigue and adventures.  It was during a party hosted by Pierre that Francesco’s intrigue begins when he is asked to deliver a package to someone in Amsterdam by Pierre’s wife.  Even though he did not know what is in the package, he agrees.

Francesco visits cities that are on many of our own itineraries:  Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Rome. As he travels through Europe, the intrigue follows him and continues to build.  It heightens when an event in Amsterdam lands Francesco in the hospital and during a secret meeting with Pierre’s wife in the Père Lachaise Cemetery while winding his way back to Italy via London and Paris.

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam Holland

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam by Massimo Catarinells

While the intrigue of the book kept me reading, the parts that stood out for me was his ability to travel with only the clothes on his back, his trust of strangers, and the guts to show up at a station without a destination in mind taking the next departing train!

Now I don’t see myself traveling with only the clothes on my back and I don’t think I’d ever be quite as trusting of strangers as Francesco but I really like the idea of showing up at a train station without a plan and taking the next departing train.  In fact, that is on my personal bucket list.

Parliament at Sunset London England

Parliament at Sunset London England

“InterRail” is a work of fiction based on the InterRail trip taken by the author, Alessandro Gallenzi.  It’s a story about a young man who had enough courage to step out of his comfort zone to find himself and live the life he chose.  By stepping out of the safety of his home to travel he was able to gain the confidence and clarity he needed to make the choices that shaped his life.

How has travel helped shape your life?


Although I was given the book InterRail by Alma Books and asked to review it, all opinions are my own. Alma Books is also giving away a free InterRail pass to EU residents and there is still a couple days left to enter.  So mosey your way over to Alma Books to enter!

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

Thanksgiving in Holland?

This week the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day spent with family and friends celebrating all we are thankful for.

The first Thanksgiving actually combined both European and Native American traditions of celebrating the good harvest. It was this tradition that Pilgrims brought with them to their new land but it was not only the good harvest they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving.  They also were celebrating their safe voyage and peace in their new country.

There are quite a few Thanksgiving celebrations held in Europe but I found one that has special ties to the Pilgrims and where you can still enjoy a celebration of Thanksgiving!

Leiden harbour Holland

Leiden harbour by Qiou87, on Flickr

A village about 25 miles from Amsterdam was home to many of the Pilgrims for a few years before they set sail for what is now the US.  Leiden Holland is where many of the Pilgrims who came to the New World were from and to this day there is a non-denominational service held in Pieterskerk the morning of the US Thanksgiving commemorating the Pilgrims and the role Leiden played in their lives.

East Gate in Lieden Holland by Erik Zachte

East Gate by Erik Zachte

The Pilgrims, or Separatists as they were known back in the early 1600’s, fled England for religious freedom.  They settled in Leiden before returning to England and boarding the Mayflower for America.  It is said that some of the values the Pilgrims cherished, free-market capitalism, civil marriage and separation of church and state, came from their time in Holland.

Rhine in Leiden Holland

Rhine in Leiden by Erik Zachte

Located near the mouth of the Rhine River, Leiden is full of canals, old wooden bridges, windmills, churches, and many museums.  It is also the birthplace of Rembrandt!  Situated in the middle of beautiful meadows and little villages, Leiden is also a great place to rent a bike for a ride among the famous flower fields.

Windmill Museum in Leiden Holland

Windmill in Leiden by Erik Zachte

Among the museums in this University town are the National Museum of Antiquities, National Museum of Ethnology and the National History Museum whose collection includes bones from a Dodo.  The American Pilgrim Museum may be of interest to those from the US as it is dedicated to the Pilgrims.  Set in a house built from 1365-1370, it is furnished in the style that was common to the Pilgrim era.

West Gate Leiden Holland by Erik Zachte

West Gate by Erik Zachte

Pieterskerk, named after the patron saint of the city, was built in the late-Gothic style and is associated with the Pilgrim father’s.  Some of the pilgrims are buried here and there is an exhibition on the Pilgrims from Leiden.

Yes this village has a link to the US and I am sure it would be a great place to celebrate Thanksgiving if you can not be at home. But I think it has a lot to offer at other times of year too!

 

What do you think; would you enjoy spending Thanksgiving in Leiden?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all where ever you are in the world!!!

European Villages Discovered – Giethoorn

In European Villages Discovered-Kuressaare we discovered a small but amazing village in Estonia.  I thought it was time to discover another gem Europe has to offer us.

Today’s excursion takes us to the northwest portion of Holland where we encounter an extremely lovely village that only has canals for roads.

Beautiful and Picturesque Giethoorn Holland

Giethoorn by --{@rwen, on Flickr

There are many reasons to visit Holland – Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam or the cheese and tulips are just a few of the joys waiting for you.  Venturing out from these more well known reasons to visit Holland is a small village that is charming, picturesque and waiting for you to discover it!

House along Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Giethoorn House by Bj.schoenmakers

Sitting about an hour from Amsterdam lies Giethoorn. Known as the “Venice of the Netherlands”, Giethoorn has over 5 miles of canals running through the little village of approximately 2,600 people.

Punts lining the Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Punters by Michel Ehrenhard

Founded by fugitives from the Mediterranean region in 1230, today there are no roads within this old villageWhere did the canals come from?  Peat.

Peat was a big commodity of centuries past and it was the digging of the peat that formed the many small lakes in the area.  The canals were made to transport the peat out to market.

Lovely Thatched Roof House in Giethoorn Holland

Lovely Thatched Roof House by Huji

Today you can enjoy the wonderful canals either by taking a guided canal tour, renting your own “whisper boat” or canoe, or by walking the many paths sprinkled through the village and along the canals.

Bridge over Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Bridge of Giethoorn by CrazyPhunk

Floating the canals will introduce you to the many wooden bridges spanning the canals and the 18th & 19th century thatched roofed houses hiding between the trees. Many of the homes are only reachable via the canals or by crossing one of the many bridges dotting the village.  How cool would it be to arrive home in this manner?

I think this would be one of the most relaxing and wonderful ways to spend a few hours or a day.  Picnic anyone?

Giethoorn Holland

giethoorn by sara_vh, on Flickr

Geithoorn is a wonderful little village that is full of unparalleled beauty. The beautiful and peaceful atmosphere of this village is  calling me to visit.

Does it call you?  Do you have a favorite small European village to share?