May 23, 2017

European Villages Discovered-Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

A few years ago I was able to spend a few days in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, specifically Cahors and Rocamadour.  I remember being amazed at the beauty of my surroundings as we drove through the countryside. As my eyes fell on beautiful village after beautiful village I found myself wondering why the area is not more popular with American tourists.  I also vowed I would return one day to spend more time exploring this beautiful region of France!

Today we’re discovering a European village from the Midi-Pyrénées region, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie! 

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie France by Adam Baker

In an area known for chateaux, prehistoric caves, scenic villages, truffles, lazy rivers and the almost black Cahors wine you will find Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

Restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Outside restaurant Saint Cirq Lapopie by tristanf, on Flickr

Known as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie rests precariously on a rocky outcrop high above the river Lot in Southwest France.  Its situation along the river offers stunning views but also provided a great defense protecting the village from many battles that have taken place in the area including an unsuccessful attack in 1199 by Richard the Lionheart.

Lovely Alley Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Alley View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

During medieval times, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was home to four important families each of which has left their mark on this beautiful village. This is also the reason there have been many chateaux and churches in the village.  Remaining today are 3 chateaux and a Gothic church, dating back to the 15th century, with an amazing view over the Lot river valley.

Saint-Cirq Lapopie France Church and Rooftops

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: Church and Rooftops by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Like Rocamadour, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is on a pilgrimage path leading to the Santiago de Compostela which is also the reason for its popularity during medieval times.  Today, the entrance to the village is still via the medieval stone wall and gate.

Saint Cirq Lapopie France

Saint Cirq Lapopie Panorama by TwoWings

Wandering the village visitors will see houses dating back to medieval times many of which still bear the steep tile roofs.  Some are made from stone found in the region and others are constructed in the half-timbered style.

River Lot View Saint-Cirq Lapopie France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie: River Lot View by Nick Dimmock, on Flickr

Arriving at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is almost as wonderful as the village. The road meanders along the Lot River before rising up to display the pastoral countryside of the region.  The surroundings of the village are as dramatic and beautiful as the village which makes Saint-Cirq-Lapopie dazzling no matter which direction you look!

 

Do you enjoy wandering small European villages?

Thanksgiving & Beaujolais Go Together!

Something wonderful took place last Thursday and to most of us it went by unnoticed.  This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau was released and is now available for purchase! Traditionally released on the 3rd Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine whose release is celebrated across France.  I think it is so nice of the French to release the most wonderful smelling wine ever (in my opinion) just in time for Thanksgiving, and it goes wonderfully with the popular meal of the day – Turkey!

Beaujolais Nouveau France Wine

Est arrivé by theogeo, on Flickr

But where do these grapes come from and why should you visit the Beaujolais region of France?


Lying north of Lyon in the Rhone-Alpes and Burgundy regions is the home of Beaujolais.  Often forgotten by tourists, this region is known for its green hills, flowery villages, interesting geology, architecture, wine and over 1500 km of walking trails.  Wandering Beaujolais you will find delicious and affordable wines and vineyards dotting the gorgeous countryside.

Here are some of the reasons you might want to add the Beaujolais to your next visit to France!

The Stone

The scenery of the region is quite varied.  In the north you will find dense dark forests of fir trees while the south starts to shine as soon as the sun rises!  They say this part of the Beaujolais has the feel of a Tuscan village and if it’s true, its largely because of the StoneEverything from houses, chateaux and churches are built in the golden colored stone of the region. The contrast of the gleaming stone against the green countryside is amazing.

Oingt Beaujolais Region France

Oingt by peg, on Flickr

The Wine

The Beaujolais region is covered by vines along its 34 mile length. Between the red wines from the Gamay grapes to the white Chardonnay, there is something for every taste.   Beaujolais Nouveau can be found in the southern part while the other 10 crus are more in the northern portion.  A great way to experience the region, including tasting the wine, is to follow the Beaujolais Wine Route.   In fact, there are 7 GPS audio-guided tours to help you discover the Beaujolais region, its villages and wines!

Chateau de Bagnols Beaujolais France

Chateau de Bagnols by Corona Mejora Tu Vida, on Flickr

The Hameau Duboeuf

Speaking of wine, there is an actual theme park dedicated to wine and vine especially of this region!  The Hameau Duboeuf takes visitors on an exploration of winemaking’s 2,000 year history.  You can explore the ways trains helped transport the wine, understand how geology and grape varieties affect the tastes, learn about corking, discover how to make wine and, of course, taste some wine!

Beaujolais France

Beaujolais by welix, on Flickr

The Villages

From Beaujeu, in the north, the historic capital of the region with an oil mill to the medieval beauty of Oingt in the south, this region’s villages will not disappoint!  Visiting the Beaujolais region you will find charming hilltop villages offering panoramas which will delight everyone.  Traveling the region, you will also come upon many Chateaux including the Chateau de Bagnols which is now a world class hotel.  Near Romaneche-Thorins there is a 17th century windmill with amazing views of the Saône.  Yes from drawbridges, local craftsmen, ancient chapels and river valleys, the villages of Beaujolais make for a very peaceful, beautiful and delightful experience!

Romaneche-Thorins Beaujolais France

Romaneche-Thorins from wikimedia

Those are a few of the reasons to visit the Beaujolais.  Now go out and grab some Beaujolais Nouveau to personally sample a little of the region!


Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Dreaming of a European River Cruise

The other day I received an email from Viking River Cruises that got me thinking.  The subject of the email was “Where would you go?” and now I’m dreaming about which European River Cruise I would most like to enjoy!

I’ve never been on a river cruise for more than a day but have to admit I am intrigued by them. The friends and relatives I know who have taken river cruises have all returned with rave reviews.  Without fail they have enjoyed the educational and cultural aspects along with the views and social camaraderie!  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the day cruises I’ve taken on some of Europe’s greatest rivers- Seine, Rhine, Thames and Danube – are the spectacular view you get from the river.  What could be better than arriving in Europe’s cities in the same manner as the discovers of yesterday?

So where is my dreaming taking me. . .


Portraits of Southern France 

Saone river at Lyon France

Saone river at Lyon by Jack

Gliding along the Saône and Rhône rivers from Chalon-sur-Saône to Avignon includes beautiful vistas, wonderful medieval villages of the Burgundy region and the splendor that is Provence. I’ve never been to this part of France but when you combine medieval villages, Roman ruins, history, cathedrals, cobbled street and scenery that has inspired artists like Van Gogh, well how could you go wrong?!  Add in the wine and cuisine this region is known for and you’ve got a winner.

Portugal’s River of Gold

Porto Portugal

Porto by Benjamin Dumas, on Flickr

Slowly floating along the dramatic Douro River in Portugal would offer a unique glimpse into this wonderful region. After having a chance to visit Lisbon, the cruise starts in Porto which, in my opinion, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world.  The cruise offers an opportunity to view a region that some say is still unspoiled!    Along the way glimpse vineyards set on steep hills, castles, Baroque architecture, UNESCO Heritage cities and sites as well as Gothic cathedrals.  Oh and don’t forget the food and drink the region is known for including Port and regional wine!  Yes, I think the magical Douro would be a perfect setting for my first river cruise.

Vineyards & Vistas 

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River Germany

Aschaffenburger Schloss along the Main River by Carschten

The Vineyards & Vistas cruise sails along the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers in wonderful Germany! Yes I’ve been along the Moselle and have enjoyed day cruises on the Rhine.  I’ve even been to Bamberg, Rudesheim and Trier, so why would this cruise interest me??  I LOVE the Moselle and crave to return so I can further explore this river and the surrounding small villages that are bursting with the wonderful wine of the area. Dotting the banks of the Main River are small quaint villages such as Miltenberg, which is a city that calls me! All of these rivers are full of castles, cathedrals, medieval towns, Roman ruins, history and Baroque palaces.  Plus there is also the German cuisine I love so much and cities famous for their Beer!

If I were going on a River Cruise, it would be one of these three options.  Now it’s your turn …

Where would you go on a European River Cruise?

Historic Cecilienhof Palace

Sometimes traveling take us places whose beauty belies its enormous history.

Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam Germany is one of these.

Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

Cecilienhof Palace was the last palace built (from 1914 to 1917) by the Hohenzollern Dynasty and is beautifully placed in the northern part of the Neuer Garten, where views include a lake and the Kings Forest.

 

Outside Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

The simple but elegant palace was built in the English Tudor style and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.

 

Views from Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

The feeling you get here is one of peace and tranquility.  School children even come to play in the meadows.

 

Cecilienhof Palace Courtyard Potsdam Germany

It’s so peaceful that it’s hard to imagine the gravity of the meeting that took place here in 1945.  In attendance at the Potsdam Conference were Churchill, Truman and Stalin, world leaders who would make history and change the face of Germany for decades to come.


Stalins Star Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

The center point of this beautiful courtyard are flowers in a red star design, Stalin’s Star, which were planted in 1945 by Soviet soldiers.


Cecilienof Palace Potsdam Germany

As I wandered the grounds I kept thinking “If only these walls could talk.  What would they say?”

 

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

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people at the 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.

Germany, Bavaria, Munich – Need I Say More?

If you’ve read many of the post here, you know how much I adore Germany and especially Bavaria!

I have shared with you how much I enjoy small Bavarian villages (like Mittenwald), Kind Ludwig’s Bavarian castles, beer and my joy at visiting Bamberg with all its breweries. Yes, I’ve probably bored you by going over the top in Bavaria, Bavaria How do I love Thee and if pushed to pick a favorite it would be Bavaria.

Munich Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munich Skyline by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

In looking back, I realized I’ve never told you about one of my favorite cities in Bavaria – Munich. What is it about Bavaria’s capital city that makes it so wonderful and why should you visit?

Here are 11 reasons to visit Munich!

  1. Galleries full of European art, Bavarian sculptures and can be found in the many Pinakotheken (Picture Galleries) that call Munich home. The oldest is the Alte Pinakotheke and the newest is the Moderne Pinakotheke with the Neue Pinakotheke in the middle. Together these galleries hold so much of interest they will keep any art lover busy for days!
  2. Nymphenburg Palace was built in 1664 to celebrate the birth of a son to Ferdinand and Maria. The summer palace is gorgeous and famous for its Gallery of Beauties, the carriages and sleigh that belonged to Bavarian rulers and wonderful palace gardens.

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich Bavaria Germany

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich by www.schloesser.bayern.de - Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

  3. The Olympic Stadium was built for the 1972 Olympic games that were held in Munich and include the pool where Mark Spitz won his 7 gold medals! The grounds were built on a former airfield that was transposed into a state of the art Olympic venue including a large hill made of rubble from WWII.
  4. The Residenz is the former residence of Bavarian Kings and the Wittelsbach Dynasty until 1918. Today you will be amazed at the Renaissance building with Rococo interiors. On display are the jewels and crowns of the Wittelsbach along with many silver and porcelain artifacts.
  5. The center and heart of Munich is the Marienplatz. This mostly pedestrian only area was created by Henry the Lion and is a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a beer and bratwurst! It is also home to the world famous Glockenspiel sitting on top of the Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus. Kids and adults of all ages will be charmed by the lovely chimes and dancing figurines retelling Bavarian stories.
  6. Churches have been the center of communities for eons and Munich has its fair share. The best known symbol of Munich is the Frauenkirche. Built in 1468, it is the largest Gothic basilica in Southern Germany and home to the tomb of Ludwig IV of Bavaria. For the grandest views over the city climb the tower of Munich’s oldest church, Peterskirche. The Baroque jewel, Asamkirche, houses a very ornamental grotto and wonderful ceiling frescoes while the largest Renaissance church in Munich, Michaelskirche, houses the crypt of Maximilian I and Ludwig II.

    Munich City Centre Bavaria Germany

    Munich`s city centre by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

  7. Beer Halls and Beer Gardens are a staple in Munich and probably the first thing people think of when thinking of Munich. The passion for beer is definitely alive in Munich and there are many options for enjoying your favorite brew and singing along to Bavarian songs. But if you’re in Munich during the summer or warmer weather do not miss the Beer Gardens! This is where Munichers go after a busy day at the office and a great place to feel like a local.
  8. The Viktualienmarkt has been supplying fresh foods to residence since 1807 and is one of my favorite places to wander! This wonderful food market has over 140 stalls full of fresh fruit and produce, handmade jellies, bread, pastry, meats and more. Yes, there is even a beer garden!
  9. If you’d like something a little more relaxing maybe some time in one of Munich’s many Gardens & Parks is needed. Munich is home to palace gardens of Hofgarten and Nymphenburg palace as well as a wonderful Botanical garden. The largest and most popular garden, Englischer Garten, is the place to stroll, ride bikes, rent a paddle boat or even surf!

    Englischer garten Munich Bavaria Germany

    Englischer garten by LuxTonnerre

  10. Don’t even get me started on the Food! I can’t get enough wurst, frites, schnitzel, spatzle, pork knuckles, sauerkraut . . .
  11. Munich has many Museums to enjoy but the grand daddy of them all is the Deutsches Museum, the oldest and largest science and technology museum in the world. Sitting on an island in the Isar river is a huge museum that has amongst its displays an Enigma machine built during WWII and the first automobile. There are displays dedicated to transportation, aviation, mining, energy, physics . . .
  12. If this isn’t enough then go for the people. They are open, gregarious, smiling and the real heart of this wonderful Bavarian capital! 


    What’s your favorite thing to do in Munich?

Catalonia – Spain’s Best Kept Secret?

Sitting in the north east corner of Spain is Catalonia. Home to a varied landscape that offers many surprises, Catalonia is a well kept secret that is waiting to enthrall you with all its charm.

Barcelona is the capital and most well known city of the region but there is so much more to be found.  A land of contrasts, Catalonia offers a rugged coastline, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, and surprises around every corner.  The villages are as lovely as the natural environment. Sights range from Romanesque architecture to Arab remnants and from prehistoric relics to avant-garde art.

San Mauricio Lake Catalonia Spain

San Mauricio Lake by Gligan


Here are 5 reasons to visit Catalonia!


Natural Wonders

You are surrounded by nature in Catalonia. The countryside varies from coastline to mountains and includes wetlands, rivers, valleys, lakes, plateau, forests and even volcanoes.  All of this beauty combines to offer a multitude of options for outdoor activities.  You can find something to do whether your time is spent on the snow-capped peaks or on one of the majestic beaches. In one trip you can enjoy the Pyrenees and then find yourself lounging by the Mediterranean!

Boi Valley Catalonia Spain

Vall de Boi: Boi and the valley by David Domingo, on Flickr

Outdoor Activities

The options for outdoor activities are as vast as the landscape.  Ranging from gentle easy hikes to canyoning or enjoy an easy glide down a river or the intensity of white water rafting!  Your days can be spent on horseback or quads.  You may choose to explore the region from the heights of a hot air balloon or from a seat on a horse-drawn carriage.  You could even visit a Natural Park made of salt to feast your eyes on salt stalagmites and stalactites!

Kayaking in Catalonia Spain

kayak by miuina, on Flickr

Culture

The historical and artistic heritage of Catalonia is also very diverse. Catalonia’s cultural treasures include cave paintings, ruins of great civilizations both Greek and Roman, Romanesque architecture, medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals, Jewish quarters, modern buildings and great art.  This is the land of great artists such as Dali, Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and Pau Casals.  A visit to the museums, houses and scenes that inspired their works can be enlightening!  If this isn’t enough, enjoy one of the many concerts, performances or local festivals the region offers.

Village of Cruïlles Catalonia Spain

Village of Cruïlles by Vincent van Zeijst

Cuisine

The world famous cuisine of Catalonia uses all the resources of the region from the mountain, sea and farm. In fact, people travel to this destination solely for the cuisine.  Traditional favorites include Pa amb Tomaquet (bread smeared with tomato and drizzled with olive oil), Escudella (a meat and vegetable stew) and Bacalla amb Samfaina (Cod with a ratatouille).  But also of importance is the modern cuisine found by renowned chefs and Michelin rated restaurants.  Learn about local cuisine by enjoying a cooking class, visiting a local fresh market, gastronomic museum or at one of the many festivals and fairs.  Catalonia also produces great wine and Cava.  The wine production in this area dates back to Roman times and has been growing since.  Visit museums related to the wine industry or enjoy tastings at the vineyard.

Barcelona Cuisine Catalonia Spain

Barcelona by George M. Groutas, on Flickr

Wellness

Spas seem to have grown in popularity lately but wellness has been important to Catalonia since the Roman era! In Catalonia there are 18 thermal baths found in natural surroundings including at least one Natural park.  The spa towns can be found spread throughout the region.  Other wellness centers can be found in resorts near the coast and other inland areas.  Each offers a variety of treatments including mud treatments, paraffin baths, massage as well as facial and beauty treatments.

Tossa de Mar Catalonia Spain

Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869

 

Whether you want to spend your time on a bike, at a spa, on the golf course, touring the historic sites of a city or on the sea, you’ll find an abundance of options in Catalonia!

 

Why would you visit Catalonia?

3 must-see Roman ruins in Majorca

I’m taking a little time off and thought it would be great to explore an area I have never been to, Majorca.  Below is a guest post detailing some of the great Roman ruins you can visit on your next trip!  I’ll be back next week. . .

 

Majorca is well-known for being a great place to head if you love sun, sea and sand. However, if you’re also looking for something else to keep you busy during your holiday, you’ll find plenty of options.

The Balearic Island’s rich and varied history means there are a lot of historical monuments to see here when enjoying your holidays in Majorca including ancient statues, castles, cities and Roman sites.

Scene of Mallorca Majorca Spain

Mallorca by Scouse_and_Jules, on Flickr

Here are three of our favorite Roman sights you don’t want to miss while enjoying all Majorca offers.

Pol-lentia

Pol-lentia is an ancient Roman city that has been preserved for nearly 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest places on the island and perhaps the most antique location you’ve ever been to.

Founded in 123 AD Pol-lentia thrived as a Roman municipality for many years; however, once the Roman Empire fell, it fell into ruin.

After centuries of neglect, excavation work began on the area in 1920, helping to rescue the ancient city and redeem it, almost,  to its former glory. As a result, visitors can now walk around the site learning more about the history of Majorca and the conquests that have occurred over the years.

Pollentia Mallorca Majorca Spain

Pollentia - El Teatro by Richard Alen, on Flickr

Passing by stone buildings, courtyards and cobbled paths may also help history buffs learn more about the Roman enclave and gain a greater appreciation of how this community once lived on the island.

You can also visit the 1st century Roman theatre, which is the only one that still exists in the Balearic Islands.

Santueri Castle

This is another site in Majorca that has important Roman significance, as Santueri Castle was once used as a fortified commune by the Romans.

The Castle is situated near Felanitx and was built in the 14th century. Since its creation, it has been used by different groups of people over the years including the Arabs. Its position high on a plateau means it has a great vantage point looking over the rest of the island and the sea, meaning impending threats were seen from miles away allowing the citizens ample time to defend themselves.

Near Santueri Castle Majorca Mallorca Spain

Castell de Santueri by _basquiat_, on Flickr

Visitors nowadays can walk around the castle, learn more about who used to live here, in particular the Romans, and enjoy some of these views for themselves.

Son Real

Located on the coast, the estate was bought by the Balearic government in 2002, with the aim to protect the land and preserve its historical importance for future generations.

Mallorca Cove Spain

Mallorca at its Best!

The site was an old public farmstead and is now home to a number of archaeological remains, including the Necropolis.  It is believed this cemetery dates backt o the 7th century BC!
Son Real gives you the opportunity to learn more about the different people who have lived on Majorca over hundreds of years which include cultures from all around the world.

 

What are some other not-to-miss sights in Majorca?

Domestic Security in Wales a la Edward I

Castles. What images come to your mind when reading this word?  If you’re like me, you may imagine a beautiful structure that feels romantic and rich.  A place where grand parties or celebrations occurred and sumptuous food was enjoyed along with the best wine.

Harlech Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

We travel miles and miles to see what we think of as romantic castles but did you know most castles were actually built as a method of domestic security?  No other place is this more true than in Wales and the castles of Edward I.

Caernarfon Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

For years the Welsh warlords wreaked havoc against the English kings.  So much so that in 1267 Henry III recognized Welsh independence.  But his son, Edward I, had other ideas and spent years fighting to bring the Welsh back under English rule.  After his successful bids, he spent time securing his lands by building a series of strongholds we now adore as castles!

Conwy Castle by Eifion, on Flickr

Conwy Castle by Eifion, on Flickr

It was during this medieval period that Edward commissioned great architects to build or upgrade a series of impenetrable fortresses that would help protect his lands.  This so called “Iron Ring” was a modern attempt to protect the villages of medieval Britain.  By strategically placing the castles near the sea, Edward’s navy was able to send provisions to the people during uprisings thus ensuring his military success.

Beaumaris Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

Beaumaris Castle Wales by Jelle Drok, on Flickr

After the first uprising in 1277, Edward built castles such as Flint, Rhuddlan and Aberystwyth as well as began upgrading other Welsh castles.

It was after the second revolt that Edward extended his fortifications by commissioning the work of a master architect, James of St. George whose work is now recognized by UNESCO.  It was during this time that the castles at Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris were built.

Conwy castle Wales Britain

Conwy Castle by Sarah Lionheart

The castles of Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris are known as the big Four Castles of Edward I.  They are also the ones that have survived the years mostly intact.

Caernarfon Castle Wales Britain

Caernarfon Castle interior by Petrusbarbygere

Whether you spend time exploring the ruins of these medieval masterpieces or wandering through one of the more intact castles, the Edwardian castles allow us to explore and touch history.

 

Do you tour castles?  What are your favorites?

Decision Time: France or German?!?

At this point in my life, for better or worse, my travels are limited to vacations throughout the year.  Much to my chagrin, my “job” dictates the time I have for travel.  We all saw in my post title Bucket List – European Style, I have quite a few items on my list of European dreams so this year I will cross at least one off the list.

Loire Valley France Wildflower

Wildflowers 1 by celesteh, on Flickr

 

In looking at our calendars for the year, we only have 10 – 14 days for our “vacation”.  In talking, the hubby and I really want something a bit on the active side and have boiled it down to two options: either bike riding in the Loire Valley with some time at either end spent in Paris OR hiking in the Black Forest combined with driving, hiking and/or biking in the Alsace Wine region.

Upper Black Forest Views Germany

Upper Black Forest by GNTB: DZT/Honeck

Oooh even as I am reading my choices I get excited and unable to pick one!

Colmar Alsace Region France

Colmar Alsace Region by Calips

Neither of us has been to the Loire Valley and would really enjoy spending time riding along the river, stopping for wine, enjoying a picnic lunch in some idyllic spot, seeing castles, learning about the history, visiting the small French villages. . .  Plus it has been a couple years since I’ve been to Paris and there are some sights I have not visited and more I’d like to revisit.

Blois Park Loire Valley France

Blois Park by celesteh, on Flickr

Germany is one of my favorite places and one that pulls at my heart and always calls to me, so why should this year be any different? Wanderin ohne Gepack (Hiking without Luggage) has been something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  Add in cuckoo clocks, tradition, farm houses, lakes, forests, beautiful villages, history, great food, wine, beer and schnapps; well  you’ve created something that is just plain hard to resist! After all that,  we would cross into France and spend a few days wandering through more small, beautiful villages sampling Alsatian wine and  maybe even spend a day or so riding bikes or walking through the vineyards!

Black Forest Germany Tradition

Black Forest Tradition from Baden-Württemberg, Tourismus Marketing GmbH

So my dilemma is deciding which option to enjoy this year? 

Azay Le Rideau Loire Valley France

Azay Le Rideau by Ranvig

I’ve got more work to do and will share what I discover about each region that leads us to make this decision.  Until then, tell us. . .

 

How you decide where to visit on your vacation?

Unique Lodging Is It For You?

Lodging comes in all sizes and shapes.  When traveling, there are a lot of options available in the European lodging market.  We can camp, stay in a trailer, hotel or a bed and breakfast.  These categories can even be broken down further from ranging hostel to 5 star lodging.

But if a standard room or suite just won’t do, what are your options?  Rest assured,

The choices in the unique category include yurts, jumbo jets, lighthouses, castles, tepees, chateaux, tree houses or even a jail!

But that’s not all, here are 5 very special and unique types of lodging in Europe that may answer your dreams or inspire a trip.

La Balade des Gnomes, Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite at La Balade des Gnomes in Belgium

Trojan Horse Suite from La Balade des Gnomes

Set in a very quiet setting and offering 10 different and unique rooms, La Balade des Gnomes may fill all of your fanciful dreams.  You may opt to sleep in a moon buggy, Troll forest which includes a gold fish infested stream, a boat that is floating in a swimming pool or wine cellar.  Inspired by fairy tales, all of the rooms are decorated in a style that uses motifs and colors from around the world. But what caught my eye was a very unique offering known as the Trojan Horse suite.

Fort Clonque, United Kingdom

For Clonque United Kingdom Unique European Lodging

Fort Clonque by FlickrDelusions, on Flickr

Owned by the Landmark Trust, Fort Clonque is a unique lodging set on an island in the middle of the English Channel where the views are spectacular and storms are something to experience!  The rooms are in a 19th century fortification that has seen more than its share of history.  The fort is reached via a causeway and once you cross the drawbridge entrance you feel as if you have crossed into another time.  Spread throughout the fort, your room may be in an old war room or the German Casement, which was a Nazi gun turret!

Cappadocia Cave Resort, Turkey

One of the more stunning lodging options is the Cappadocia Cave Resort.  Set in one of the most beautiful settings, this hotel not only offers unique lodging but the opportunity to explore a region that is teeming with UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Built into the side of the mountain, the rooms combine actual cave walls with lovely warm wood and other natural stone creating a breathtaking view inside and out.

Utter Inn, Sweden

Utter Inn Sweden and Underwater hotel

Before being set on the lake

The Utter Inn is an underwater hotel located in Lake Mälaren near Stockholm, Sweden.  At first glance, the hotel seems to be another typical Swedish red house on a diving platform floating in the lake but looks are so deceiving!  Once in the house, open the hatch and descend the metal steps to enter your room. There awaits glorious windows offering underwater viewing on all sides!

Sala Silvermine Suite, Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite in Sweden

The bedroom of Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

Sala Silvermine Suite Sweden

Sala Silvermine Suite by Pappilabild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sala Silvermine offers an underground suite that is accessed by going down the mine shaft.  Upon arrival you will be escorted down the mine shaft and given a tour of the festivity hall and the other nooks and crannies existing on the same level, which by the way is 500 feet below ground! Once in the mine, you will find your room glowing from the chandelier and candles used to illuminate your bed chamber.

Would you stay in an alternative type hotel?