February 21, 2017

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?

Springtime Yearnings

I guess the winter cold has got me longing for the warm sun and outdoor activities because all I want to do is get outside and be active! This has got me thinking about 4 activities that have been on my list for awhile.

Wanderin ohne Gepack (or Hiking without luggage) in the Black Forest

The Black Forest has long been an area of Germany that I want to visit.  This land is full of rolling green hills, waterfalls, cuckoo clocks and farms.  Wanderin ohne Gepack sounds like a great way to really see the sights all while being active. 

Walking in the Black Forest Germany

Walking in the Black Forest by Haxxah and KraZug, on Flickr

You can choose to spend a week or more hiking or shorten it to 3 or 4 days.   Each days hike is only about 12-17 miles and all you carry is a little bag because the hotel sends your luggage to your next night’s lodging!  All of the trails are well marked and safe to hike plus there are restaurants and farm houses along the way for refreshments.  Once you arrive at your accommodations, you can sit and enjoy beer or wine and then a wonderful dinner before sleeping in preparation for the next day’s journey.   Sounds wunderbar to me!

Beer and Biking through Bavaria’s Land of Beer

This ride is probably a stretch for me but it still sounds like great fun!  What could be better than experiencing wonderfully romantic towns full of history, drinking beer, exploring another amazingly picturesque town (Bamberg) where almost the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, drinking more beer, riding along the river Regnitz river, drinking more beer . . . Ummmm, I think you get my drift!

Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Bamberg Town Hall from Bayern Tourismus

Just because some of these rides are 112 km (approximately 70 miles) and I’m not a bike rider, that shouldn’t deter me – should it?  I would definitely need to break these up into smaller sections but I am so up for it!  What an adventure.

Wine and Biking along the Moselle River in Germany

So I had to throw in a ride that included wine just so you would know that I am an equal opportunity drinker! 

Scene on Moselle River Germany

Moselle River Germany

The Moselle is a very beautiful river in Germany that branches off the Rhine in Koblenz.  This area, from Koblenz to Trier, is full of Roman history and many, many charming villages and vineyards.  You could spend a week or just 3-4 days riding along the river.  The villages are close enough together that the daily rides are between 12-24 miles each.  Don’t forget to drink some German wine!

Village along the Moselle in Germany

Village along the Moselle in Germany

Canoeing on the Dordogne River

The Dordogne Valley in France has been on my radar for quite a few years and I want to spend at least one day of my visit floating down the Dordogne River.  This area is full of castles and villages made of stone.  There are also the prehistoric caves, medieval castles and Roman ruins. 

Village along Dordogne River France

Dordogne by Jos Dielis, on Flickr

The Dordogne is a wide and slow moving river which makes it a great way to see the incredible scenery and enjoy a picnic during your journey.  If a picnic isn’t for you, then stop at one of the many villages for lunch or snack.  Make sure you taste some of the amazing red wines from the region!

Gorges de la Dordogne River France

Gorges de la Dordogne by OliBac, on Flickr

Are you longing for spring?  Have you enjoyed any of these active journeys? 

 Tell me about it. . .

5 Cities to Take a Walk In

A fairly recent new love of mine is walking tours.  My love for walking tours began when my daughter went off to college and I needed to get out of my empty nest!  Since I live in the San Francisco bay area, my husband and I headed off and enjoyed a fantastic walking tour of Nob Hill.  Since then I have enjoyed many walking tours and look forward to new walking adventures in any city I visit. 

To me, a walking tour allows you to really get to know a neighborhood at a much slower pace.  Since you are walking the amount of area covered is more limited and allows for a more in depth look into the subject of the walk.  I have found the guides to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject.  You can find walking tours in larger cities covering a vast range of topics.

So to inspire you to walk a bit, I picked 5 European cities to begin a list of walking tour companies.  Guides from all companies listed are from all walks of life (no pun intended) including historians, literary experts, art historians, performers and authors.  Most of the tours listed do not require reservations, however, some do have minimums so look for this when deciding on the tour you will enjoy.

House of Parliament London

House of Parliament London by cookipediachef, on Flickr

London:

London Walks is a company offering many walking tours covering the neighborhoods of London.  Their tours include:  The Secrets of Westminster Abbey (From Opus Dei & Death’s Palace to The Da Vinci Code), The Beatles ‘In My Life’ Walk, The Hidden Pubs of Old London Town, Ghosts Gaslight & Guinness, and The Blitz – London at War. There is no need to book ahead and most walking tours are priced at 8£ (about $15).  The biggest problem with this company is which tour to choose??

Eiffel Tower Paris France

Eiffel Tower

Paris :

Paris Walks offers many walking tours covering many of the wonderful neighborhoods Paris is so famous for.  You could enjoy The Medieval Latin Quarter, The French Revolution,  a Fashion Walk, the Village of Montmartre, Hemingway’s Paris or even a Chocolate walking tour!  Again, the cost for these walking tours is quite reasonable at 12 € (about $16).  Sign me up for the Chocolate tour!  Is there a better way to enjoy chocolate and work off the calories at the same time?

Prague Czech Republic

Prague by photojenni, on Flickr

Prague:

Learn about all that makes Prague famous by taking one of these walking tours from Prague Walks: Prague Castle Walk, Jewish Prague, Ghost Walk, Pubs of the Old Town and the Best of Prague, which also includes lunch and a river cruise.  Prices range from 300 czk to 890 czk (from $17 to $50 for the Best of Prague).  A few of these tours have minimums so be sure to check their website for more details.  For you early risers, they offer a Good Morning Walk where you will be able to enjoy Prague before the crowds are even up!

Brandenburg Gate Berlin Germany

Brandenburg Gate Berlin by Bernt Rostad, on Flickr

Berlin:

Original Berlin Walks offers tours that help you discover Berlin and its storied history.  You may decide to choose one of these tours:  Discover Berlin Tour, Infamous Third Reich Sites, Jewish Life in Berlin and Nest of Spies Tours.  These tours are 12 € ($16).  While looking at their website, I noticed their guides list their favorite restaurants which I think is a real bonus. . . local recommendations can’t be beat!

Marienplatz Munich Germany

Marienplatz Munich by JoeDuck, on Flickr

Munich:

Munich Walk Tours offers a unique way to learn about Munich and its history and culture.  Walking tours include: Bavarian Food Tasting & Viktualienmarkt, Haunted Munich Ghost Tour, Beer and Brewery Tour (you are in Munich!), Hitler’s Munich (aka Third Reich Tour) and The City Walk & English Garden tour.  These tours range in price from 12 €22 € ($16-$30).  Munich Walk Tours also offer a couple bike riding tours, which is my next “adventure” to tackle.

 

So there you have it, 5 cities 5 different walking tour companies.  Try one, you won’t be disappointed.  This list is not complete and inclusion here does not mean an endorsement is being made.  I do, however, suggest you venture out and walk a bit. . .

Which walking tour would you most like to enjoy??