February 21, 2018

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?

Yin and Yang of Life in Innsbruck

Whether traveling in Paris, Munich or London, we have all seen Triumphal arches while wandering through Europe.

The arches we enjoy were inspired by the Romans and are usually built to commemorate war victories or founding a new colony, celebrating a new ruler or even a death of one.  The arches can represent a happy occasion or a sad one but in Innsbruck the triumphal arch actually commemorates both!

The building of the Triumphpforte (Triumphal Arch) was approved by Empress Maria Theresa to honor the wedding of her son.  Since there was not time to build a new arch, she had the existing south gate of Innsbruck renewed into this lovely example of a Roman arch.Triumphal Arch Innsbruck Austria

The year was 1765 and there was a bash going on in Innsbruck and all of Austria.  As the festivities wore on, the celebrating turned to grieving when out of the blue Maria Theresa’s husband, Emperor Franz I, died.

Standing on the southern end of Maria Theresien Strasse is this Triumphal Arch.  On the side facing north you will see marble reliefs celebrating the marriage of her son and on the other are reliefs that mourn the passing of her husband.


What Yin & Yang’s of Life have you seen in your travels?


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!

Picking a Favorite

Do you ever get asked what your favorite destination in Europe is?

I do.  People ask me regularly what my favorite place is and as I’m about to reply I start thinking what about location A or what about location B?  It’s kind of like asking me to pick my favorite child!

Berchtesgaden Bavaria Germany by Eric Sorenson

Berchtesgaden Germany by Eric Sorenson

I could easily say my favorite place in Europe is Bavaria. I find myself drawn to this part of Germany time and time again.  But by picking Bavaria, what does that say about all the other wonderful places I’ve been?  I mean who couldn’t love the French Basque region? Or Normandy? Or what about InnsbruckLast summer I visited Innsbruck and fell in love. So just because I haven’t spent as much time there means it’s not my favorite?  How do I know it wouldn’t become my favorite if I spent more time there?


View of Innsbruck Austria

View of Innsbruck Austria by Leo-setä, on Flickr

And by picking a favorite, where does that leave all the places I dream about visiting? Dordogne, Croatia, Costa Brava and Black Forest are just a few of the places I long to visit.  Will one of these replace my current favorite?

Dordogne river france

Dordogne by Jos Dielis, on Flickr

What makes you label a place as your favorite? Is it the people?  The food?  The scenery? Or is it a sense of peace you get just by being there?  Like love, no words need to be spoken you are just filled with an overwhelming sense of comfort.  Just like an old pair of shoes, this special place fits you like a glove.

Peaceful Lautersee Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Peaceful Lautersee above Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

If I’m honest, that is exactly how I feel when I visit southern Bavaria. I love the people, the food, the scenery and the ambiance.   It just seems to fit me like a glove and makes me feel warm and comfortable.  This part of Bavaria is also a sentimental favorite since I spent most of my time here during my very first European trip.  So . . .

Grounds of Linderhof Castle Bavaria Germany

Grounds of Linderhof

If I asked you right now to name your favorite place in Europe, what would it be?

My Home Looks Like the Hofburg!

For this edition of Travel Photo Thursday I thought I’d share a few pictures of Casa Beardsley.

“For a man’s house is his castle”
“Home is where you hang your head”
“Home is where the heart is”

Casa Beardsley is our home in Pleasanton, California which we moved into in 1987.  Yes it is an older home but I think it carries its age very well.  So come along as I share a few pictures with you!

The entryway of Casa Beardsley is where all visitors enter our lovely abode.  Be our guest!Hall Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

In the entryway you will also notice my favorite chandelier along with a few family photos on the wall including one of my daughter!Painting Hofburg Austria Innsbruck

Next is my office!  I like to keep it cheerful so all the creative juices keep flowing 🙂Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

This is our game room.  My family does enjoy its games!Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

Lastly is the dining room where we eat dinner every night while sharing stories about our day!Dining Room Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

Well, I hope you enjoyed our little tour.  Please exit through the  door on your right and if you feel so inclined donations are always accepted!

Ok, I’ll come clean. . . this isn’t really my house!  These are some pictures I was able to take while touring the Hofburg in Innsbruck Austria.

Dating back to 1460, the Hofburg was originally built in the Gothic style but it was Maria Theresa who had it rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1754-1773.  This was one of the favorite residences of the Hapsburgs and was Maria Theresa’s home when she visited Innsbruck.  The Imperial Apartments are at the center of a complex which formed the Imperial Residences and include the Silver Chapel, Hofkirche, cathedral and Hofgarten.  For all these reasons and more, I can recommend a visit to the Hofburg when you are in Innsbruck!

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 Photo Essay on European Statues

Oh the places you go and the characters you’ll meet while traveling!

Besides being works of art, history can be experienced through the statues or monuments dotting a city or village.  Through them we come to know who or what was important to the citizens.

Here are a few of the statues and monuments I stumbled upon while visiting Europe last summer.

Neptune Statue Bamberg Bavaria Germany

A great meeting place in Bamberg Germany is the Neptune statue locally called Gabelmann.  Standing near the Gruner Markt in the pedestrian only area of Bamberg, the statue is also a popular place to enjoy an afternoon ice cream.Matthias Klotz Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

This homage to Mittenwald’s native son, Mathias Klotz, indicates the important role he played in the village.  Mittenwald is a picturesque village nestled up against the mountains in southern Bavaria that is known for its violin and string instrument manufacturing.  It was Mathias Klotz who brought this esteem to his home town which continues to this day.Statue near Inn River Innsbruck Austria

I ran into these little guys while exploring Innsbruck Austria.  While they sit near the river Inn, I never did find out what this statue represents but it did intrigue me.  To me they look like they are sneaking into the city.  Are they just having fun or about to engage in something more nefarious?Water Statue Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

The beautiful Mirabell Gardens should not be missed on any visit to Salzburg Austria.  Besides the amazing flowers, fountains and gardens Mirabell is home to equally impressive statues.  Some are whimsical and others depict history and lore.  One of these is this statue by Ottavio Mosto representing water through the abduction of Helen by Paris which in turn started the Trojan War.By Virtue and Example Statue Vienna Austria

With the little time I had in Vienna, I decided to spend it exploring the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum at the Hofburg.  Finding the extra large Hofburg was not a problem but finding the Sisi Museum took a bit more effort.  Wandering I passed many architectural delights and an abundance of statues.  Finally I arrived at Michaelsplatz and the entrance to the museum.  I found this lovely statue waiting for me.  The motto below means “By Virtue and Example”.Kossuth Memorial Budapest Hungary

In Budapest, the Kossuth Memorial sits near the Hungarian Parliament honoring a man who was a prominent figure in the War of Independence from 1848-1849 and later became President of Hungary.  In this national symbol Kossuth can be seen pointing towards a brighter future.  Alas, it was many years before Hungary’s future became brighter.

“Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”  Dr. Seuss


Tell me about some of the interesting characters you have run into while traveling.

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.

Early One Morning in Innsbruck

One morning while I was in Innsbruck I decided to go for a walk before the Travel Bloggers Unite conference got started.  As I roamed and wandered this city that captivated me, I noticed a large gathering of people under the Goldenes Dachl or Golden Roof.Under the Golden Roof Innsbruck Austria

As I came closer I noticed a group of men and women dressed in traditional clothing.  At first they were milling around but eventually got lined up in a military fashion.Milling around Innsbruck Austria

The men carried rifles and sabers whileInnsbruck Austria Unexpected Event

Most of the women seem to be carrying small barrels that must be full of liquid libation!Innsbruck Austria waitng for Inspection

Even though I had not clue what was going on, I did stop and watch as it progressed for a few minutes.

The flag the men are holding says “Zur erinnerung an das Gründungsfest” and I have no idea what the meaning is.  I thought it would be some kind of festival but when I translated it online I got “In Remembrance of the Foundation Laid.”  Whatever that means!?!  If anyone knows please let me know in your comment below!Innsbruck Austria Gathering

I couldn’t stay very long but this unexpected “event” was one of the special highlights Innsbruck offered me! Seeing locals in traditional clothing always brings a smile to my face even more so when they seem to be enjoying every minute!

I highly recommend early morning wandering!


What surprises have you run into during an early morning walk?


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.

Travel:The Best of 2011

Jeremy from Budget Travel Adventures started an awesome year end event about Best Travel of 2011.  Ben from AdventuresWithBen asked me to participate and I thought it was a great time to reflect back on the good, bad and ugly before setting off on this year’s adventures!

Best Domestic Travel Destination 2011Our Little Cabin Sorensen's in Hope Valley California

Over Memorial Day we spent the weekend at Sorensen’s Resort in the Hope Valley and completely fell in love with this area. . . again.  Sorensen’s is lodging comprised of little single cabins but without TV or internet although you can get internet access in the restaurant if you really need!  Being Memorial Day weekend, we expected warm dry weather so much that we didn’t even check the weather prior to leaving home!  At least we were better prepared for the 4+ inches of snow than those that were out in shorts and capri’s!  If you haven’t been to the Hope Valley, I highly recommend it!

Best Travel Experience 2011

Another area I loved was Mittenwald Germany but my favorite part of my stay was the Goatherd Encounter along the Lautersee above Mittenwald!  I wouldn’t have been at Lautersee if it weren’t for the suggestion of my hotel, the Alpenrose.  Yes trying to cool off allowed me this amazing encounter!

Best International Destination 2011Innsbruck Austria in Altstadt

As I mentioned in Innsbruck You Captivated Me, I am in love with Innsbruck Austria and can’t wait to go back to explore the city more before stretching into the surrounding area.  Armored Schloss Ambras, The Bizarre World of Swarovski and Worlds 2nd Largest Tomb is in Innsbruck are just a few of the reasons  I fell in love with Innsbruck.  I would love spend more time in the city exploring the nooks and crannies more fully and walking in the mountains plus discovering the nearby quaint villages and the Oetz Valley!

Worst Travel Experience 2011

I would have to say Budapest Hungary was my worst travel experience of 2011.  Budapest is one of the Cities that Leaves Me Bleh!  I am completely bummed about my feelings because I really wanted to love Budapest!  But I didn’t.  As I was watching Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol I was struck by the beautiful views of Budapest.  Yes while I was in Budapest I found the beauty along the river but not elsewhere but the views shared in the movie has left me knowing I will return and give Budapest a second chance.Pariliament Building Budapest Hungary

Most Embarrassing Travel Moment 2011

Fortunately or unfortunately my personality doesn’t allow me to have ‘those’ embarrassing moments.  During the past year I have enjoyed reading AdventuresWithBen partly due to all the amazingly crazy pictures of himself he shares with us all!  I find his smiling face infectious 🙂  So a New Year’s resolution to allow myself ‘those’ silly moments and share them with you has been made!

Best Local Destination 2011Columbus Day Parade San Francisco California

By far, I’d have to say San Francisco is the best local destination!  We have enjoyed exploring the city more as our children have left home.  This year we biked the Bay Bridge, enjoyed a free walking tour of Nob Hill, wandered the Haight and spent a very pleasant day watching the Columbus Day parade pass us by while being entertained by the jets flying over hear during Fleet Week.  We have spent more time using the rapid transit system and shared that with my brother’s family over Thanksgiving weekend.  The ‘colorful’ people you run into on transit is worth the price of admission 🙂  Yes being less than an hour away from San Francisco is a very enviable place to be!

Best Travel Lesson from 2011

Four inches of snow over Memorial Day weekend taught us a lesson!  Oh did I mention that the windshield wipers on our car stopped working too?  Yup not checking the weather made for an interesting and fun weekend but taught us to always check prior to leaving home.

To continue the Best Travel 2011, I’d love to hear from:

Country Skipper
The French Way Blog
Traveling With Sweeney
Pinay On the Move



Moving forward, tell us your travel plans for 2012!


Worlds 2nd Largest Tomb is in Innsbruck!

If you were of nobility how would you design your memorial? Would you opt for something regal but understated?  A beautiful place where people could come and remember you surrounded by beautiful gardens?  Or would you opt for a grand tomb in the center of a magnificent church surrounded by larger than life statues of your family members and ancestors?

Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

Well if you were Maximilian I of Innsbruck your tomb you be the grand scale of the last option.  In actuality, he didn’t make this decision but his Grandson Ferdinand I did.

Statue Hofkirche Innsbruck AustriaStatue Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria











Ferdinand designed and had built what is today the 2nd largest tomb in the world (the first being in Xian) which is located in the Hofkirche (Court Church) in Innsbruck.

Marble relief on tomb in Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

The highlight of the Gothic church is the giant marble tomb of Emperor Maximilian.  The tomb contains 24 marble reliefs depicting the Emperor’s accomplishments.

Hofkirche with embellishments Innsbruck Austria

from wikimedia

Embellishments were added in 1584 and include the wrought iron grille surrounding the tomb plus the kneeling emperor and the four virtues adorning the top.

Statues Hofkirche Innsbruck AustriaStatue Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria










Surrounding the marble tomb are 28 larger than life statues of Maximilian’s relatives including legendary King Arthur.Statue of King Arthur Hofkirche Innsbruck Austria

Alas, after all the expense and effort Maximilian’s remains were never moved here.  They are still in their original burial site in Wiener Neustadt, which is south of Vienna.


So what type of memorial do you want?

Armored Schloss Ambras

Sitting a little above Innsbruck is Schloss Ambras, one of the historic sights in Innsbruck that is best known for its Renaissance art collection and gallery full of Hapsburg family portraits.

Austrian history is deeply seated with the Hapsburg Empire. Sitting on the land now occupied by Ambras was a medieval fortress.  Upon being named ruler of Tirol, Ferdinand had the fortress renovated to a Renaissance castle for his commoner wife, Philippine Welser.  Archduke Ferdinand II used the castle as his residence from 1563-1595.

Today Schloss Ambras is a very popular sight when visiting Innsbruck.  One afternoon, with my Innsbruck Card in hand, I took the bus to visit the castle. What I found were beautiful grounds, hiking trails, magnificent art and stunning Hapsburg portraits.

But my favorite was the collection of armor Ferdinand amassed.Armored Army Schloss Ambras Innsbruck AustriaArmored riders Schloss Ambras Innsbruck AustriaArmor and Weapons Schloss Ambras Innsbruck AustriaJousting Schloss Ambras Innsbruck Austria

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!

The Bizarre World of Swarovski

Swarovski Kristallwelten is a place you just have to see to believe!

Before leaving for Europe, I knew I wanted to visit Swarovski Kristallwelten while in Innsbruck Austria.

I’ll admit I am a huge fan of jewels and have spent a fair amount of time visiting the crown jewels in more than one city! So it was with great anticipation that I set out to discover more about crystal making and to feast my eyes on some beautiful gems! I was expecting a display much like the gems section of the National History Museum in Washington DC or the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London or even the Bavarian Crown Jewels housed in the Treasury of the Residenz in Munich Germany .

Crown from India by googlisti, on Flickr

Boy was I wrong!

On my first day, I hopped on the bus to the Crystal World in Wattens, which is about a 20 minute ride from Innsbruck.

The grounds of the Swarovski Kristallwelten are beautiful and include a very nice park with playground equipment for children plus awesome views.  Upon arriving you will be greeted by a giant complete with crystal eyes and a waterfall flowing out its mouth.Giant at Swarovski Innsbruck Austria

Swarovski Crystal World is free with the Innsbruck Card, so I was able to pass through the turnstiles entering the giant’s world and embark on my journey through the universe of crystals.

Instead of a grand display I found flying mannequins, strange art, legs suspended from a device while tap dancing and a mechanical theater hosting a very strange fashion show. I actually felt that I was in the middle of a Tim Burton movie! The displays and art were created or inspired by artists including Brian Eno and Andy Warhol, which should have been my first hint that this was notgoing to be what I was expecting.

Cone head dress Swarovski Innsbruck Austria











To be fair, not all of the sculptures, jewelry, dresses and other crystal inspired exhibitions were strange.  Some were actually quite beautiful.Octopus Swarovski Innsbruck AustriaBeautiful Horse Swarovski Innsbruck AustriaChandelier Swarovski Innsbruck Austria











What you will find at Swarovski Kirstallwelten is a mixture of art, music and magic that is supposed to trigger all your senses.  If you like modern art, this may be the place for you.  To me it was just bizarre.


Is Swarovski Kristallwelten a place you would like to visit?