December 12, 2017

Wheeling Through Catalonia

This type of cycling holiday is something I’m very interested in, so I am very excited to bring this guest post to you today!  Elizabeth Banks is a freelance travel journalist and food lover.  She has a passion for discovering off the beaten track holiday destinations.

As a cycling novice, I was eager to see what my first cycling holiday would be like.  For my first trip I chose Inntravel a company specializing in walking and cycling holidays.  One of the reasons I opted for Inntravel was their rating system of the cycling trips.  Level 1 is mainly flat routes where a level 2 or 3 involves frequent ascents and descents. It was not a difficult choice for me to decide on an easy grade 1 cycling holiday in Catalonia.   Another huge benefit of Inntravel cycling holidays is they transport luggage between hotels!

Now I’m off on my cycling holiday!

On arrival in the rural hamlet of Joanetes, the starting point for our holiday, we were introduced to our bikes.  We were given a city trekking bike and helmet which has to be worn by law on all highways in Spain.  We also received a handy waterproof map case (which could be attached to the handlebars), saddlebags, a pump and puncture repair kit.  But don’t worry, with Inntravel also included is emergency assistance from the bike supplier should you run into any major problems with your bike during the trip. With this added reassurance we were ready to set off!

Day 1 started at El Ferres in a tranquil valley which was a gentle introductory route so we could get used to our bikes and get a first glimpse of this beautiful corner of Catalonia.  We cycled through pretty villages on flat quiet roads and made a picnic stop where we grabbed a delicious home-made lunch of crusty bread, olives, a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. After lunch we continued onwards to the larger provincial capital of Olot before taking a leisurely route along the former railway back to our hotel.  Our family-run hotel, Mas El Ferres was a charming farmhouse in a beautiful rustic style. We curled up in the lounge by the large inglenook fireplace to admire the amazing views.  After a delicious home-cooked evening meal, it was time for bed.

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Day 2 we headed towards the charming hamlet of Els Hostalets d´en Bas.  Our route was flat and took us along pretty, winding lanes.  The route notes were easy to follow and at times I almost forgot I was cycling since I was so busy taking in the spectacular scenery and array of beautiful flowers lining the road.  The hamlet sits in the colourful Vall d´en Bass known as ‘Little Switzerland’.  The charming traditional houses with wooden balconies added to the fairy-tale appearance of the area.  We had fantastic views of the Pyrenees and decided it was the perfect spot for a picnic.  After a leisurely lunch and a wander around it was back on the bikes for the final stretch of the days cycling – which was slightly downhill and made for a very pleasant afternoon’s ride.

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

We arrived in the pretty town of Les Planes our destination for the night.  We stayed at Can Garay a truly stunning Art Deco family home, lovingly restored by our hosts Lluis Garay and his wife Sophie.  Lluis is the great-grandson of the original owner and has preserved many of the original features including stained glass windows.  With just six bedrooms, this hotel was a real find and the cozy lounge was the ideal place to curl up with a glass of wine after dinner.  The large gardens were another plus as they were shaded by centuries-old trees and scattered with fountains. Luckily, we arrived in time for an evening stroll around the gardens before our meal.

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Day 3 we sadly left Les Planes for our final day’s cycle to Girona.  Our route was nearly all along a disused railway line.  The mostly flat terrain gave us some welcome easy pedaling.  We stopped off at the delightful village of Amer, an unspoiled (yet bustling) town with arcaded buildings set around the main square.  We continued parallel to the Ter River, past lush fields and woodland right into the heart of Girona.  There is plenty to explore in this medieval walled city, the striking gothic cathedral, hidden courtyards and a labyrinth of narrow streets.  The pastel-coloured houses that line the river give the city an enchanting element that was like no other city I have visited.  We stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, a family-run hotel on the site of an old convent, just a few minutes from the cathedral.

Girona Spain

Girona Spain

 

Would you consider a cycling holiday?

 
All pictures are the property of and used with permission of Inntravel.

Tips to Riding the Rails in Europe!

There are many methods of traveling around Europe. You could decide to drive, fly or take the bus but one of the most sought after modes of transportation in Europe are trains.

Riding the train in Europe is often seen as a romantic way to travel. I’m sure we’ve all dreamt about seeing church spires peak out from the fog or the Alps from the comfort of our train seat, and yes it is beautiful and can be romantic but only once you’ve found your seat and are able to relax 🙂

From Glacier Express Switzerland

Here are some tips to help make riding the trains in
Europe easier and more relaxing!

I won’t get into a debate on whether it’s better to use point-to-point tickets or rail passes because I think it depends on the cost. Just remember, no matter what type of ticket you have it doesn’t mean you have an actual seat reserved unless you pay extra for a seat reservation.

Europe Train Belin Germany Station

First tip, Use websites for information on trains. My favorite site for researching European trains is the Deutsche Bahn website. This website offers all kinds of information including countries other than Germany. You can check the schedule, get connecting train information including arrival gate and departing gate, buy tickets and seat reservations. It’s important to remember to use the local name for cities, i.e. Wien=Vienna and München=Munich. Also keep in mind Europe uses the 24hour clock (1400 is 2 pm) and dates are day/month (11/03 is March 11).

Rail Ticket Vienna Austria to Budapest Hungary

From the reservation above you can see my train was leaving from the Wien West station and going to Budapest Keleti.

Which leads me to another tip – it is very important that you arrive at the correct station. Most large European cities have many rail stations.

From the reservation, you can also see the ticket was for 2nd Class (klasse) and departs August 31 at 12:49 pm. The train number is 49, car (wagen) is 22 and my seat is number 86.

Seating Chart at train station Salzburg Austria

Next tip, arrive at the station early! Some of the main stations in large cities are huge. The main station in Berlin even has multiple floors. Arriving early will allow you time to check the boards to confirm your train is on time and find the right platform. Once you’re at the platform use the seating chart (example above) to see where you should stand. Using the information from your reservation, this guide will show you where to stand making it easier to get on the right train car. If you don’t have seat reservations, confirm where the right class train is and stand at the appropriate spot.

Berlin Train Station Germany

PACK LIGHT! No matter what, you’ll be toting your bags. Usually there are stairs getting under tracks to your platform then more stairs getting up to the platform and even a few steps climbing aboard the train. Of course, once on the train you’ll be hefting your bag up to the baggage rack above your seat! Today a lot of stations have elevators (but not all) but many times I find it’s easier just to grab my bag and use the stairs than wait for the elevator to arrive.

Using the train for travel is a great experience and one I recommend everyone have! The best tip I could give you is to ask questions if you’re unsure about anything which is another reason arriving early may actually be the best tip anyone could give you!

 

What’s your #1 tip for making riding trains easier?

A Perfect Day in Warnemunde!

Perfect days don’t come along all that often.  But when everything goes right and you get one of “those” days. . . oh what a day!

Well that is exactly what happened when I visited Warnemunde Germany.  The stars and moons all aligned to give me one perfect day!Two Sailboats with Lighthouses Warnemunde Germany

Warnemunde Germany, the sister city to Rostock, is situated in northern Germany along the Baltic coast.  To say it is a city tied to the sea would be an understatement!  Everywhere you look there are reminders that this is a maritime city.

Founded in 1200, Warnemunde was purchased by Rostock in 1323 to ensure access to the Baltic Sea.  The old channel is lined with restaurants, pubs, traditional fishing boats and shops that were once cottages of fishermen.  There are two jetty’s each with lighthouses at the ends but there is also an older lighthouse dating back to 1897 which is one of the symbols of Warnemunde.

Warnemünde Germany Altstadt by Norbert Kaiser

Warnemünde Altstadt by Norbert Kaiser

To begin my exploration of Warnemunde I decided to wander through the city.  I walked past shops full of wonderful souvenirs, beautiful houses and checked out the local church a neo-gothic beauty dating back to 1866 which also contains artifacts from the older church that once graced the village.

Then it was off to visit the local fish market where you can buy all kinds of local delicacies from the seas – even smoked fish!Smoked Fish Warnemunde Germany

Now it was time to stroll along the promenade to the lighthouse, sand and sea! As I wandered I was amazed at the number of boats heading out of the harbor for a day sailing the Baltic.  The day was mostly blue skies with puffy clouds, sun and wind! A perfect day for sailing.Red Lighthouse with sailboat Warnemunde Germany

Once I made it to the end of the promenade, I sat for awhile on the rocks just to watch the ships and enjoy feeling the sun on my face!

After awhile I noticed my stomach was growling which meant it was time for lunch!  But first I needed to walk along the broad sandy beach that is the largest on Germany’s Baltic coast and even place my feet in the water!  As I walked, I noticed families with young children playing in the water, many other tourists like me and children of all ages flying kites!Moody Coast Warnemunde Germany

It seems like a lot of people thought this was a perfect day!

Arriving at the Teepott restaurant, an example of East German architecture, I opted for a table outside overlooking the sand.  As I relaxed I enjoyed a wonderful bowl of lobster soup, salad, and, of course, a Rostocker Beer!Rostocker Beer Warnemunde Germany

It was now time to make my way back to the train station stopping by many shops looking for that perfect gift to bring home with me!

As the train whisked me back to Rostock I was able to sit back and savor my day –  the sun, the wind, the salty sea air, the sound of the sea gulls, the boats, the peace and calm that comes from the sound of the ocean!

Yes it was a perfect day!

 

Tell me about your perfect day in the comments below!

Tidbits from the Historic Highlights of Germany!

Germany is one of my favorite countries to visit so it was with great excitement that I set out on a whirlwind 6 city tour of Germany!  Every trip to Germany is exciting but this one was especially so since I was going to explore cities and regions I have never been to including 3 in former East Germany.

Map of my German trip

by David Liuzzo on Wikimedia

As the wonderful Deutche Bahn trains carried me far and wide, I was amazed by the green beautiful scenery passing by my eyes.  The rolling landscape is full of green meadows, dense forests, farmland and the ever present church steeple!  Even as I neared the Baltic coast the landscape was still rolling just not quite as high.

German Countryside from Train

German Countryside from Train

Today I’m sharing a few interesting tidbits I learned as I explored these historic highlights of Germany!

Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

In Freiburg I enjoyed a guided tour by the monk, Berthold Schwarz, who invented Black Powder during medieval times in the very same city!

During a tour of Mainz my guide told me that Germany has a population of about 83 million people and is roughly the same size as the state of Montana, which only has a population of about 1 million people.  Interestingly, I’ve never thought of Germany being that crammed full!

Erfurt was the first city I visited that was once part of East Germany. While wandering the medieval streets I was struck by the number of pregnant women I saw (they were seriously everywhere!).  Matthias, my guide, said it was true and felt it was due to the fact that people are finally feeling they have a future!

Beautiful Potsdam was where I discovered that President Truman first learned the tests on the atomic bomb were successful at the beginning of the Potsdam Conference and approved the order to drop the bombs while still at the conference held at Cecilienhof Palace.

Dostoyevsky Bust Wiesbaden Germany

Dostoyevsky Bust Wiesbaden Germany

I really enjoyed the funny dry sense of humor my guide in Rostock possessed and had to chuckle when he explained that Rostock was once part of the German Democratic Republic of which they were neither Democratic nor really a Republic.  Times have definitely changed here!

My last stop was Wiesbaden which has been a town attracting the rich and famous for decades.  Originally drawn to Wiesbaden by its spa, the casino helped keep the rich entertained.  In fact, the casino in Wiesbaden is where Fjodor Dostoyevsky lost his fortune and subsequently became the inspiration for his novel, The Gambler.

During the next few weeks I’ll tell you more about the amazing cities I’ve visited and hopefully inspire YOU to explore some of Germany that is off the normal tourist path!

 

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people at all the local tourist offices that made it all happen!  To learn more about Germany off the Beaten Path, please visit the Historic Highlights of Germany website.

I’m Off to Explore Historic Germany!

I’m not indecisive but I have a hard time naming my favorite European travel destination, it just feels wrong to all the other wonderful places I’ve visited.  But if pressed, I would name Germany as my favorite destination in Europe and by that I would actually mean Bavaria.

Even though I’m bewitched with Bavaria, I’ve been feeling the need (and desire) to spread my wings and discover more of  Germany.  Now I’m being given the chance to explore more of the Historic Highlights of Germany!

Beginning Thursday morning, I’ll be spending 12 days criss crossing Germany.  Once again I’ll be using the very efficient German rail system to get me north, south, east and west in this Central European country.  Get ready for a fast paced trip in the land of my fore-fathers!

Freiburg Minster Germany

Freiburg Minster by Joachim Messerschmidt Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

First off will be a wonderful excursion in the heart of a German wine region and the gateway to the Black Forest, Freiburg. Known as the sunniest and warmest city in Germany, Freiburg also boasts a lovely medieval center, inviting cafes and taverns and a varied history that is all wrapped up in a laid back atmosphere!

Mainz Town Hall Germany

Mainz Town Hall by Rainer Kiedrowski Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

After exploring Freiburg, I’ll be whisked by Deutsche Bahn up to Mainz who sits alongside the lovely Rhine river.  I’ve been to Mainz before but there is much more to this city than I previously explored including Chagall blue stained glass windows, a Gutenberg printing press, Roman ruins and wine!

Erfurt Cathedral & St Severus Church Erfurt Germany

Erfurt Cathedral & St Severus Church by Toma Babovic Thuringer Tourismus

Then I’ll be going east to Erfurt where Martin Luther studied and lived.  This city of towers and spires has enough churches to be called “The Rome of Thuringia.”  Erfurt is home to one of the best preserved medieval Old Towns around and Europe’s longest inhabited bridge!

Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

Sanssouci Palace Potsdam by Torsten Kruger Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

Continuing east, my next stop will be Potsdam.  You know how much I love palaces and castles; well Potsdam is home to some of the most beautiful and famous castles and palaces!  Add in the amazing history and I am excited to visit this city!

Old Quarter Rostock Germany

Old Quarter Rostock by Joachim Messerschmidt

Next, I’ll be zipping up north to the Baltic Coast where I’ll spend time exploring Rostock!  Ever since I wrote “Off the Beaten Path in Rostock Germany” I have wanted to see the unique brick architecture and now I’ll get to!  I’ve never been to the northern coast of Germany so one of my goals is putting my tootsies in the Baltic!

Wiesbaden Fountain Germany

Wiesbaden Fountain by Torsten Druger Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

The last leg of my trip takes me south to Wiesbaden where I’ll spend my last few days.  As I mentioned in “Wiesbaden- Worth A Second Look?I’ve spent a short amount of time here but now I will get that second look!  So I’m looking forward to wandering this elegant spa town enjoying its architecture, museums, shopping, and Viennese style cafes.  Maybe there will also be more wine in my future 🙂

Keep reading, as I’ll be sharing all my adventures with you all!  Follow along using the #exploregermany hashtag or watch our Facebook page!

By the way, I’m not cheating on you Bavaria, just seeing more of your wonderful country.  I’m sure I’ll be back but for now I’m off to explore different corners.  I hope you understand. .  .

 

Let me know any “must sees” I shouldn’t miss while in Germany!

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to all the sponsors!

 

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!

Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass

I’d be willing to bet that every new traveler to Europe dreams of traveling by train.

Is that because the movies have made it seem so romantic?  Or are the very expensive gas prices the culprit?  Or do we just want to travel in a new fashion?

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains by Martin Kers and Eurail

Well traveling by train might not be all that romantic ( face it, the rigors of just traveling aren’t romantic!) but it is a fun, easy and exciting way to travel while visiting the many European countries!

So you’ve made the decision to visit Europe and travel by train, now comes the decision whether to buy individual tickets or a rail pass.  Here are 4 reasons to travel using a rail pass.

1. Convenience

With a rail pass all you do is hop on any train.  Most trains do not require seat reservations; just sit in any open seat.  There are exceptions such as high speed trains (TGV), scenic trains (Glacier Express) or sleeper trains that do require a seat reservation or upgrade.

2. Fits any Itinerary

Rail passes can be purchased for a single country, multiple countries or even as a Global pass covering all 23 countries that participate in the Eurail program.  Once you’ve set an outline of your itinerary, calculate the number of days you‘ll be traveling by rail to determine the best pass for you!

Furka Railway Switzerland

Furka Railway Switzerland by Martin Kers and Eurail

3. Fits any budget

You can purchase 1st or 2nd class rail passes.  Keep in mind, 1st class pass holders can sit in 2nd class but this does not work the other way around! The individual rail passes are great but if you’re traveling as a group of 2-5 you may want to purchase the discounted saver passes.  With the saver pass you must always travel on trains together!

4. It’s just plain easy!

Just check the rail schedule and go!  It really is that easy.

Once you decide a rail pass is your best option, Eurail passes can be purchased at RailEurope or Eurail.

German Rail Station Platform Germany

German Rail station platform by Martin Kers and Eurail

When I am researching train options, including connections, I look at the Deutsche Bahn (German) website or OBB (Austria) website. They both have English options and are fantastic sites to help plan your European trip.

Remember, Eurail passes are only available to those living outside Europe and must be purchased prior to your departure.  EU residents have their own pass, InterRail passes!  If you’re an EU resident, Alma Books is offering a chance to win a 5-day InterRail Pass.  For details visit Alma Books.

 

What has been your experience traveling with a Rail Pass?

Above it all on Mt. Pilatus

Tending watch over Lucerne sits the brooding Mt. Pilatus.

There are many mountain tops in Switzerland offering amazing views and one of these is Mt. Pilatus.

Steeped in legends that say there is a dragon living on the mountain or that Pontius Pilate is buried here, Mt. Pilatus offers views of meadows, mountains and lakes.  In fact, this 7,000 foot high mountain boasts views of 70 peaks and 5 lakes!Mt Pilatus Lucerne Switzerland

Your trip up the mountain can start with a boat ride on Lake Lucerne continuing with a journey on the worlds steepest cog railway.  After you’re finished exploring Mt. Pilatus, your trip down can be the same way or by a combination of aerial cable car and panorama gondola.Mt Pilatus Lucerne Switzerland

At the top there are 2 hotels, 7 restaurants and many options for your day!  These include a toboggan run, tubing, walks and hikes for every level, mountain climbing, biking and paragliding.  During the winter there is snow biking, minibob and more.Mt. Pilatus Lucerne Switzerland

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite pictures from the top of Mt. Pilatus.  Yes, Pilatus is famous for its views but on this cloudy October day the weather wasn’t cooperating.Mt. Pilatus Lucerne Switzerland

But I feel the clouds just add to the mystique of this legendary mountain, don’t you think?

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

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.

 

My Travel ABC’s

Before Thanksgiving I received an invitation from Katherina  of 1000 Miles Highway to participate in the A to Z survey about travel called The ABC of Travel!

Thanks Katherina for including me!

Now, European Travelista’s ABC’s of Travel.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: At 23 I made my first international trip to Europe which was also my first solo trip and is still my favorite!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: The best foreign beer I’ve had was at Stiegl Keller in Salzburg.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure why it is my favorite but I think it might have something to do with the amazing views of Salzburg or the fantastic meal I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, it was memorable!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

C: Cuisine (favorite): Mexican Food!  I love it spicy and could eat it for every meal.  While in Europe, my favorite cuisine would have to be German.  Can’t get enough of schnitzel, spatzle, sausage and sauerkraut or goulash soup 🙂

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Bavaria Germany holds a special place in my heart!  This was my first stop on my first trip and Bavaria just feels so comfy to me.  I can’t seem to get enough of the mountains and tiny Bavarian villages. My least favorite would have to be Budapest which just left me feeling Bleh!  Although I am going to give it another try.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: This summer I had the unexpected opportunity to witness Lederhosen clad goat herders bringing the goats back to the barn! An event I thought only lived on in books.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Ooh that’s hard.  I actually like all modes of transportation and have used them at different times.  Trains, buses, cars are all amazing and offer different perspectives.  I guess my favorite mode is via an airplane because when I get on an airplane it means I’m going somewhere!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The feeling of awe when seeing amazing scenery, experiencing the peace and serenity of mountains, flower bedecked houses or realizing how old the city or building really is.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Ixtapa, Mexico during July!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Once we were eating at a café in Paris and we had a great waiter.  He would joke with us (yes it was Paris France) and when we asked what type of Dijon mustard they had on the table he gave us a bottle!  It’s the little things that make a difference to me.

J: Journey that took the longest: Driving through Austria and Switzerland during my 2 week honeymoon!

Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

In Front of Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

K: Keepsake from your travels: I love buying Christmas ornaments from any where I travel because I get to relive my travels while decorating the tree with my family!

L: Let-down sight, why and where: The Terror Museum in Budapest. This museum left me wanting more. . . much more.  Upon entering you hear intimidating music, see an old Soviet tank and busts of some of the more notorious characters of the soviet period in Budapest.  I was expecting many more items of torture and not the narration in Hungarian I got.  The museum was really very stark without many exhibits of actual devices of terror.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: My first trip to Europe in 1981 filled me with a love of Europe that has lasted to this day!  I love traveling anywhere and am the one that does all the research and planning for trips no matter where we are going.

View from room at Palace Hotel Lucerne Switzerland

View from Palace Hotel

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: My personal budget doesn’t include luxury hotels very often but I do enjoy luxury when I get it.  The nicest hotel I have ever stayed in would have to be the Palace Hotel in Lucerne Switzerland!  I had a corner suite which had amazing views of the lake and mountains surrounding this lovely city.  My next choice would have to be the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California. I love old historic hotels and my room in the old portion of this beauty was perfect.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I’m not sure I have an obsession but would have to say amazing views usually from or of mountains!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Oh if only they consistently stamped my passport!  Many places in Europe including London, Paris, Biarritz, Toulouse, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Copenhagen.  Add in Mexico and Tahiti.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Alligator Farm in Buena Park, California.  I loved this spot as a child since those alligators were really scary but alligators right across the street from Knots Berry Farm?!!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Spend a day in Auvers sur Oise (outside Paris) reliving Van Gogh’s last days, then visit the Orsay museum to view his art work!  This will make an art lover out of anyone!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Local food, but not at trendy fashionable restaurants, including beer, wine or local cocktail!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: A tour including the Changing of the Guard in London.  Couldn’t see a thing but I went back early in April and was able to visit on my own and see the entire procession without any one in my way!

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Visiting Zermatt Switzerland for the first time!  This charming village took my breath away.  Explore the village and mountains during the day and then enjoy an exquisite meal of fondue that night.  It is so warm and comfy!

V: Visas, how many and for where? To date, I haven’t need any visas 🙁

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? So I don’t remember what type of wine we had  but my husband and I had some great Italian red wine in Stresa overlooking Lago Maggiore!

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ooh there are a lot of great vantage points.  How about the amazing views from Neuschwanstein castle or the top of Mt. Pilatus?  Or the view of Paris after climbing the stairs at Notre Dame!  Or locally, the view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Y: Years spent traveling?: I have traveled my entire life if you include some vacations.  Unfortunately, my life has not afforded me the opportunity to spend years abroad . . . yet.  That is on the bucket list!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I am not a zealous sport fan but my first ice hockey game was very memorable.  My friend got tickets about 4 rows from the glass which makes for an exceptional game.  I didn’t know I had so much testosterone in me!

 

Well that’s my ABC’s, I would love to read the ABC’s of these fine bloggers:

Inside Journeys
Devour the World
Adventures with Ben
A View to a Thrill
EuroTravelogue