April 29, 2017

Colorful Buildings in Europe

With a history dating back thousands of years, its no wonder Europe is full of villages and cities whose streets are lined with colorful buildings.

 

These colorful buildings line rivers,

Bamberg Colorful Buildings GermanyBamberg Germany

Dress Up Old Town’s,

Mainz Colorful Buildings GermanyMainz Germany

Or are as colorful as their past!

Erfurt Colorful Buildings GermanyErfurt Germany

Some villages are even known for their beautifully painted buildings.

Mittenwald Colorful Buildings GermanyMittenwald Germany

 

No matter the reason they exist, the colorful houses found in Europe delight us all and help keep memories of our visit fresh in our minds.

Lucerne Colorful Buildings SwitzerlandLucerne Switzerland

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

Exploring the Alps via National Parks

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

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

Lake Bohinj with church Triglav National Park Slovenia

Lake Bohinj with church by Rosino

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

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle Austria

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle by thisisbossi, on Flickr

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

Valle Imperina Dolomati National Park Italy

Valle Imperina by Andrea Omizzolo, on Flickr

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

Autumn in Berchtesgaden National Park Germany

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

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

Swiss National Park Switzerland

Swiss National Park by Hansueli Krapf

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

View from the Roc du Tambour Vanoise National Park France

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

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

Would you visit a National Park in the Alps?

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

Romance – European Style

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

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

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

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Old Town Switzerland

Lucerne Old Town along River

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

Salzburg Austria

View from Hohensalzburg Salzburg Austria

View from Hohensalzburg Salzburg

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

Ludwig’s Castles & Small Villages of Bavaria Germany

Neuschwantstein Castle Bavaria Germany

Neuschwantstein Castle by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

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

 

What European city or area brings out your Romantic side?

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

European Lodging – The Choice is Yours

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

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

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

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

Gasthof Fraundorfer Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

Gasthof Fraundorfer by Q-BEE, on Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visiting Zurich

Besides being in one of the most beautiful countries or having an excellent airport to fly into, why should you visit Zurich?  Here is a sponsored post that will shed a little light on Zurich Switzerland!


Located on the North Western tip of Lake Zurich is Switzerland’s most prevalent city, Zurich.  The history of Zurich dates back over 2000 years when the city was called Turicum. Today Zurich is a global leader and one of the world’s top financial centers, with numerous companies setting up research centers to take advantage of the low tax rate.  Zurich has been named Europe’s wealthiest city, with the world’s highest quality of life.  These elements in addition to the cities pristine location make it a truly extraordinary place to visit.

The Lake

With its illuminating blue water, and sprawling shore line this lake is a natural gem. The lake has a number of public beaches giving tourists easy access to the water. This is a bonus during the hot summer months as you will always be able to take a quick dip in the water to cool off! The lake also offers an array of different options for water sports. So if you are interested in sailing, water skiing, paddle boating, tubing or kayaking you will be able to do it on Zurich Lake.  For sail boat rentals close to the city of Zurich check out Zimi Sailing.

Zürich Switzerland and its lake

Zürich and lake Zürich by MadGeographer

Exploring the City

Zurich’s ancient history gives the city a special feeling. Take the time to explore Zurich by foot, as there are numerous historical sites and points of interests that should not be missed! Strolling along the Limmat River to the lake is a wonderful way to spend time.  Zurich also offers many museums, art galleries, theaters, churches, parks and exceptional shopping!  Of course, there are a variety of cafes and restaurant’s within the city that provide endless amounts of mouthwatering food that has to be tasted! For traditional Swiss food you might want to try a river side restaurant like Haus zum Rüden.

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich Switzerland

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich (Switzerland) by Roland zh

Chocolate

Swiss Chocolate has a world renowned reputation and for good reason! It is a must that you treat yourself to at least three different chocolates while visiting the city ;-) There are a variety of different choices of chocolate to pick from and a chocolate shop on every corner (or so it seems).  But if sweets are your passion, you don’t have to stop at chocolate.  You could opt for a traditional Luxemburgerli which is a special macaron. In addition the Lindt factory, only fifteen minutes from the city center, offers tours of the factory and discounted chocolate is sold!

Confiseur Läderach Zurich Switzerland

Confiseur Läderach by bigbirdz, on Flickr

Finding a hotel in Zurich

Switzerland is known for its high prices whether it be for food, souvenirs, or hotels. To help keep costs down, while getting a true feel for the Swiss culture, try staying with a local! This can easily be done through Wimdu who offers an online private rental platform with 50,000 listings worldwide. It is here that you will be able to find trendy city center rooms or quiet apartments just outside the city limits.

 

What is your favorite way to enjoy a day in Zurich?

Photographic Europe: More of my Favorites!

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

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


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

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

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

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

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Capturing the Colors of Europe

I enjoy both color and looking at wonderful photographs so when I first heard about TravelSupermarket’s Capture the Colour competition I was excited to see all the beautiful photographs that would be submitted.  Then Vi at Short Travel Tips suggested I enter and I thought “Yeah sure”!  A little later I got the official invite from the good folks at EasyHiker and EurotravelogueNow I couldn’t ignore my friends so I decide to give it a try!


So here are some of my favorites shots and entry into the Capture the Colour competition. . . Enjoy!

 

Blue

Mittenwald Germany is known for it’s beautiful painted facades.  The paintings have all kinds of colors in them -red, green, yellow and white – but not much blue.  I finally found one that had blue in it and it’s on one of my favorite streets!Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Yellow

While visiting the Hofburg in Innsbruck I found a real resemblance to my own personal home so I had to share my favorite golden chandelier!Chandelier in Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

White

Do you have pictures you just love but don’t really know why?  Well, this is one of those for me.  While wandering Vienna Austria I ran into this lovely statue who’s motto is “By Virtue & Example”.  That is one of the definitions of white, isn’t it?

Virtue and Example Statue Vienna AustriaRed

In Paris, one of my favorite spots is Montmartre. Red seems to be the color of Montmartre from the Moulin Rouge to the easels of the artists!

Painters in Montmartre Paris France

Green

From the dramatic Alps to these beautiful rolling hills, Switzerland is one beautiful country! Plain and simply, I love this picture.  Taken as I was walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland, this photo can make me feel calm on the craziest of days! Green Hills of Gruyeres Switzerland

 

There you have it, my entry into the Capture the Colour contest!  Here are five more nominees whose photo’s I’d love to see!

Quirky Travel Guy

On the Go Europe

Used York City

Tips for FamilyTrips

More Kids than Suitcases

 

Eye Catching Porrentruy Switzerland

A week or so ago, as my husband was watching the Tour du France, I kept seeing this beautiful village and passing landscape as the riders got closer to the days finish line.  By the end of the race, I was mesmerized by the quaint charming little town this stage ended in.  Come to find out, it wasn’t even in FranceNo this lovely village is in Switzerland and is known as Porrentruy.

Porrentruy Swizterland panorama

Porrentruy Swizterland panorama by Dietrich Michael Weidmann

Located in Northwest Switzerland, in a little pocket of land surrounded by France at the bottom of the Jura mountains, this village of approximately 6,800 people has over time wandered back and forth between being part of France and Switzerland.  Even though tools and other objects dating back to the Mesolithic, Bronze and Iron ages have been found here, the first actual settlement wasn’t established until 1140.

History has left its mark on Porrentruy and can be seen in the many Baroque, Gothic and Neoclassical buildings still standing.   Let’s go discover what’s hidden within the streets of Porrentruy!

Porrentruy Chateau Switzerland

Le Chateau Porrentry by Anne Monard jura.ch

  • The city is shadowed by a medieval castle that dates back to the 13th century and was once the home of the Bishop of Basel (1527-1792).  The Refous Tower is the oldest building standing on the castle grounds today.  The tower was built in 1271 and offers fantastic views to anyone willing to climb up!
  • A portion of the medieval city gate still stands tall even if it was built in 1563.

    Baroque Hôtel Dieu Porrentruy Switzerland

    Baroque Hôtel Dieu Porrentruy Switzerland by Polo7

  • Besides the many baroque buildings in the old town, there are also grand medieval fountains. The Fountain of the Samaritan was built in 1563 and is a stunning fountain depicting a scene from the bible.  The Standard Bearer’s Fountain, built in 1518, was the first fountain to have a figure on top.  Look closely and you will see the symbol of the city at the bottom, the wild boar.
  • The 200 year old Botanical Gardens display many types of plants including those found in the Jura region.  In one building you will even find carnivorous plants!
  • The Hotel Dieu dates back to 1761 when it was a hospital for the needy.  It remained a functioning hospital until 1956 when it became a museum.  Inside this wonderful Baroque building are exhibits detailing the history and culture of both Porrentruy and Switzerland, an old Apotheke and watchmakers display.

    Inside Gothic Saint Pierre church Porrentruy Switzerland by polo7

    Inside Gothic Saint Pierre Church by polo7

  • Porrentruy is home to a Gothic basilica, St. Peter’s Church, that was built from 1321-1333.  The interior of St. Peter’s is very beautiful and houses splendid relics and a Gothic altar.

I have never been to the Jura region but I’ve now decided there is more of Switzerland I need to explore!

View of Porrentruy Switzerland

View of Porrentruy Switzerland by Alain Perret jura.ch

Porrentruy definitely caught my eye!

Has it caught yours?

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.

 

Historic Guild Signs

Vestiges of history are all around you while traveling in Europe.  One of the great ways to experience this history is through the ornate Guild Signs dotting cities in Europe.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, a time when the majority of the population didn’t read, these Guild Signs were a way for shop owners to show the type of wares or services they offered.

Today these signs add to the charm of many cities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and are a source of delight to us all.  Here are a few of the Guild Signs I have seen on my journeys.

Some Guild Signs adorn beautiful streetsGruyeres Switzerland

Maybe not historic, but even McDonald’s participates in Innsbruck!Guild Signs on Street Innsbruck Austria

Some streets are famous for its Guild SignsSalzburg Street Full of Guild Signs Austria

Spezial Brewery Bamberg GermanySchlenkerla Brewery Bamberg Germany

Others advertise Breweries or just add to the local scenery

Violin Museum Mittenwald GermanyInnsbruck Guild Sign by Inn River Austria

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.