The day after the Night Vale live show, we were fairly slow getting up and ready, so we ended up skipping breakfast and going straight for lunch. We decided to head to a place that Jan and I had been to before – Jan twice and me once. We arrived at around 12 o’clock when the place was still pretty much deserted, and were able to grab a table outside. Despite it being November by that point, it was still as warm as summer! By the time we’d finished eating and left, the tables had all filled up and the place looked like this:
The first time Jan went to this restaurant was with a local when he was in Paris for some meeting or conference or something. He liked it so much that, the next time the two of us were in Paris, he wanted to introduce me to the place. And because I enjoyed it too, this time we decided to take K along.
For our main courses, K and I chose lamb. It was melt-in-the-mouth tender and came on a bed of mashed sweet potato. Mmmm! Jan had the pork, which was marinated in cider and served with chunks of stewed apple and a little pot of mashed potatoes. I trued his pork and the marinade was delicious!
Next up, the reason we had wanted to come to this place again… the desserts are to die for! Jan and I each decided on the Pain Perdu (sorry if that’s spelled wrong) – a French version of eggy bread/French toast. I’m told it means “lost bread”. The bread was soaked in a salted caramel sauce and came served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. Salted caramel is one of my favourite things in the whole world, and I savoured every last bite. K choose the apple tart, as the only item on the menu that was lactose free. I tried a tiny bite and that too was delicious.
I finished my meal with a cappucino – it had got rather late the night before, after all!
If you ever find yourself in Paris, check out Les Negociants and be sure to eat dessert. I promise you won’t regret it! To get there, take the metro to Les Gobelins. You will find the restaurant on the corner of Blvd St Marcel and Ave des Gobelins.
A little over a year ago, I decided to join in with a challenge inviting bloggers to take one trip every month for 12 months. If you’ve been paying close attention to my blog for the past year, you may have noticed that my trip to Weinheim in September was, in fact, my 12th trip! (Don’t worry, I don’t expect anyone to actually have noticed 😉 ). This fact seemed to call for some kind of roundup/recap of my 12 months of trip taking, just to bring things to a nice neat conclusion… or something like that.
I started the challenge with a day trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald in October 2013. I had actually taken this trip shortly before learning about Take 12 Trips and decided to make it my first one rather than waiting until the following month to get started. In Clare’s original post inviting people to join the challenge, she told us to “Do anything – trip big, or trip tiny”. The point was to go somewhere new, perhaps even somewhere local that you’d been meaning to try out but never had. So a visit to somewhere in the Black Forest, which is basically on my doorstep, seemed like a fitting first trip.
The view from our hotel room window in Feldkirch
The “Maria Himmelfahrt” (Mary’s Ascension) church in Patenkirchen
I live in Germany, so obviously my December trip had to be to a Christmas market! I chose a local one, the Mediaeval Christmas market in Durlach, which is a district of Karlsruhe. The market includes a fire show (pictured above) and, aside from the usual Glühwein (mulled wine), hot mead is also on offer. At the end of the month, I went home to England for Christmas, but I don’t count that as a real trip 😉
Part of my January 2014 trip was actually in December – Jan and I went to Madeira for New Year! I absolutely loved this trip and would go back in a heartbeat – Madeira is beautiful! And it was nice to actually spend New Year somewhere warm for a change.
As the end of February approached with no trip planned (and me not wanting my February “trip” to be the week I spent in England by my dying grandpa’s bedside), I spontaneously decided to take a train to Bruchsal. I had been to the castle before, but never into the town and it was about time that was remedied! Sadly, it turned out that Bruchsal as a town isn’t all that interesting. I found a few pretty buildings, but after only 45 minutes I found myself at the castle with nowhere else to go. I also discovered that day that I find day trips by myself pretty boring (although who knows, maybe I would have fared better in a more interesting town?). Oh well, onwards and upwards as they say!
April saw Jan, K and I on a day trip to Amnéville Zoo in France. It was the second visit for Jan and I, and it was just as amazing as the first time. The falconry display especially is well worth the three hour drive!
In May, I managed to persuade Jan to come with me to the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer to see an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Playmobil. What can I say… at heart, I’m a 5 year old 😉 The exhibition was overrun with kids, of course, but I enjoyed it anyway. And the rest of the museum was interesting too!
Roughly a week later I was in England for a funeral (not the best trip!) then at the end of the month Jan and I had a mini-break in Konstanz, since it was a long weekend.
Books and a globe in the Prunksaal
For our ten-year anniversary(!) I had bought Jan tickets to see Pear Jam in Vienna, so that’s where our June trip took us. Apart from the concert, we visited the National Library, my favourite part being the Globe Museum, I ate Marillenknödel, crossing off another item on my 35 before 35 list, and we visited the UN headquarters then went to the Donauinselfest, a huge free music festival! We also took a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia. My favourite thing there was the blue church, pictured above.
In July, my brother came to stay with us for a week. The trip I officially counted for the challenge was to Basel, but we also visited Strasbourg, the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Phew! I was exhausted by the time he went home!
I’m sure by now all of you know where I went for my August trip – I’ve bored you with enough posts on it 😉 Yes, it was Taiwan! My first visit to Asia was amazing! We saw so many fantastic sights, ate some great food (and also some truly awful stuff *cough* oyster omelette *cough*). Taiwan is a fascinating and beautiful country and I would recommend anyone to go.
It would have been nice to finish the challenge with Taiwan, but alas I still had one more trip to go! Finishing the challenge with another day trip within the local area provided some nice symmetry though. This time we headed in the other direction to Weinheim, which is in the Odenwald rather than the Black Forest. It was a beautiful autumn day and the perfect way to finish my 12 trips!
Altogether, that makes 12 (plus) trips, seven countries (count them!) and a million memories! Thank you Clare for coming up with this challenge!
So, what now?
Just because my 12 trips are over doesn’t mean I’m going to stop travelling any time soon! In October 2014, I was in Bad Bergzabern (post to follow) and then spent Halloween Paris for aNight Vale live show, and I’m hoping that this month and next month will involve one or two Christmas markets. Then there’s the annual New Year’s trip that Jan and I always take (no destination confirmed yet). As for next year, so far only a trip to England in October for the Rugby World Cup is planned, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities to travel before then. There probably won’t be any big trips until the end of the year, but a few day trips will definitely be on the cards! Stay tuned…
Day 1 of my brother’s visit was spent in Karlsruhe, eating crepes and having a wander around. He had been before (about seven years ago!) so it was interesting to see what he remembered. Of course, some of the things he might have found familiar are now no longer visible due to ongoing construction for the tram tunnel!
After checking the weather for various places, we decided to make our first trip of the week Strasbourg simply because it wasn’t supposed to rain there! Strasbourg is about an hour’s drive from Karlsruhe (or between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours by train, depending on whether you take the express of regional transport). I didn’t actually take as many photos in Strasbourg as I normally would on day trips because I’ve been several times before (there’s only so many times you can photograph the same building!), but here are a few:
Cool sculpture outside the cathedral
The building on the right is probably the most photographed in the Petit-France area!
After walking around for a while and taking in the “main” sights (cathedral, canal), we decided to stop for lunch in the Petite-France area. It’s pretty touristy down there, but whatever. We were tourists, right? 😉 I decided to go traditionally Alsatian and have Tarte flambée (actually not 100% traditional, because while I did go with the baon and onion topping, I chose one that also included cheese… because cheese! No further explanation necessary).
Once we’d eaten, I wandered down the water’s edge and attempted to take a photo of a mother duck and her ducklings. I swear I’ve seen ducklings in Strasbourg every single time I’ve visited! No matter what the time of year, there are ducklings! (The one exception is the time I went for the Christmas market, but we were nowhere near the water then.)
From Petite-France, we wandered down to the Barrage Vauban… the Vauban weir. Inside the weir there are sculptures and, when we were there, also an exhibition showing the various suburbs of Strasbourg as they used to be and as they are now they’ve been incorporated into Strasbourg (most were originally little villages). Vauban, who built the wier, was actually a military engineer and built numerous fortifications, all in a very specific style. On top of the weir, there is a panoramic terrace with a lovely view of the various bridges.
View from Barrage Vauban
View from Barrage Vauban
After walking around for a little longer, we decided to head back to the car. Instead of heading straight home, we used the sat nav to look for places of interest in the general vicinity and came up with La Petite Pierre, where there was supposedly a castle. It meant a bit of a detour, but still wasn’t too far from home, so we added it as an intermediate destination. Also, Jan told me the name of the village means “little rock”, which amused me because that means anyone whose name is Pierre is actually named rock! (Yes, the mame Peter actually means stone or rock as well, but that’s not the same as having the actual name Rock). By the time we arrived, the evening sky was the perfect colour for taking photos! Here’s the castle and the little church beside it:
La Petite Pierre castle
La Petite Pierre castle
La Petite Pierre castle
In the grounds of the castle there was the following sculpture, carved entirely from a single tree branch. I thought it was cool!
There was some kind of exhibition in the castle, but none of us was really interested in seeing it, so instead we wandered over to a little garden/picnic area opposite. There, we found large stone coats of arms from the neighbouring villages. I’m pretty sure the hat on the first one once belonged to the Sorceror’s Apprentice 😉 Sorry, but I don’t actually remember which villages/regions the coats of arms were for. Any French people out there want to help?
Mickey Mouse forgot his hat!
On the way in to La Petite Pierre we had driven past a tearoom, so we decided to have a walk back down the hill and head there for a drink. On the way back through the village, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a tiny door with carvings of girls carrying pretzels on it. It looked to me like it should be in a fairytale!
The tearoom turned out to be fascinating… crammed full of all sorts of odds and ends, from various different teapots (okay, not that bizarre) to shoes randomly hanging on the wall. Sorry my second photo is a bit blurry, but I’m sure you get the idea!
After a quick look at the menu, I decided a hot chocolate with cream was the way forward.. and once it arrived the cup and saucer just begged for me to take a photo! We also all decided to have a piece of cake – lemon meringue pie for my brother and I and something with bergamot for Jan (I tried his – the bergamot doesn’t taste quite as perfumy in cake as in Earl Grey tea but it’s still not my favourite thing in the world!). My meringue was slightly chewy, but not too bad.
Once we’d finished eating and drinking, it was time to return to the car for the drive back to Karlsruhe. Day trip one done! next up is Basel, which I’m counting as my July trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge. Stay tuned!
My first trip to Amnéville Zoo was in May 2011 (you can read about that here) and I’ve been meaning to go again ever since… four hours just wasn’t long enough to take it all in! So we decided to take the opportunity that the four-day Easter weekend provided and go there again, this time for an entire day. We had also wanted to take our frind, K, along with us knowing she would love the falconry display as much as I did, so having checked that she had time, the date was set. With a two-and-a-half hour drive to get there, we needed to be on the road early, but the day was well worth the 6:30 a.m. wake up call (and the 32 euro entrance fee)! Apart from the falconry show, there weren’t any specific exhibitions we wanted to see, so we chose to just wander and see which animals we came across. Here are some photos from the morning and early afternoon, which included the petting zoo and reptiles, among other things. How adorable is the baby orangutan?
Mini pigs… look how tiny the piglets are!
The Easter bunny?
Once again, the falconry display alone would have been worth the drive. I’m not sure what the angel of death/birdman/giant crow thing was supposed to represent (that part didn’t happen last time and the talking was all in French!), but the actual birds were impressive. I don’t need to understand the explanations to appreciate a good flying display!
Birdman… angel of death… what even are you?
Bird of prey… flying high
Kneel before me, mortals…
Birds of prey done, it was time for gorillas, various cat-shaped animals, red pandas (there’s were bigger than the ones in Karlsruhe) an ice cream stop and finally the African plain, home of elephants and zebras and white rhinos (most of which I have no pictures of because my camera battery died…).
Meerkat doing the meerkat…
Once we’d seen everything, we stopped at a Buffalo Grill on the other side of the carpark for dinner. I had a country burger, which was basically a cheese burger with giant round hash browns instead of a bread bun – delicious! I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy demolishing it! The blue cheese dip was also incredibly tasty. Then we piled back into the car for the drive home, a good time having been had by all.
I am counting Amnéville Zoo as my April 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge. For more trips, follow the #take12trips hashtag on Twitter
Before Jan went to Turkey, he said that when he came back he would hire a car and we could go somewhere for a day trip. I chose Colmar in Alsace because even after more than 7 years in Germany I still get excited about being able to just pop to France for the day. Colmar, in the Alsace region, is about an hour and 45 minute’s drive from Karlsruhe – perfect for a day trip!
The very first thing we saw when we entered Colmar was a giant Statue of Liberty. The creator of the original statue, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was born in Colmar and the city put up a huge copy for his 100th birthday. I don’t have a photo, unfortunately – it was standing on a roundabout at the entrance to town and my photography skills aren’t up to taking decent shots from a moving car!
Being in Alsace, Colmar has switched hands between Germany and France several times, and the German influence is very much evident in its architecture… half-timbered buildings are everywhere! There were also lots of buildings with wooden shutters – like the one above. Wooden shutters always remind me of Austria. If I ever have a house of my own, I want some of those wooden shutters with little hearts cut out of them!
Half timbering and bright colours
I love these old buildings
Here’s the outside of the cathedral. We had a quick look inside, but it wasn’t that impressive and it was very dark, so no photos of the interior. Check out how green the little roof is though!
A canal runs through the entire town, albeit underground for most of the time. There’s one part of town where it flows freely though, and that area is known as Petit Venise, or Little Venice. According to a sign we read, it was christened Little Venice because of the street below, where the entrances to the buildings can only be reached by boat:
Little Venice was my favourite part of Colmar, mostly because of the water. Here are some photos of the Little Venice area:
The inddor market, unfortunately closed on Sundays
Entrance to the Little Venice area
More colourful half-timbered houses
Walking back from the Little Venice area towards the main part of the old town, we spotted a traditional style carousel. I was half tempted to have a go on it, but didn’t. I did take a photo though.
On the way back, we stopped at the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg. The castle was closed (it was evening by now), but the view was nice. Here’s a photo of I have no idea what… Hills mostly, and possibly Strasbourg(?) in the background.
After that stop, it was time to head home as we both had work the next day. Back in Karlsruhe, we stopped at a petrol station for Jan to fill the car up and I popped into the shop for some frozen pizzas… not having to cook was the perfect end to a lovely day out.
Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is brown. At first I wasn’t sure where to start with my post, but then I remembered that wood is brown, and given my love of half-timbered houses, it would be a miracle if I didn’t have at least a few photos of wood! Sure enough, I quickly came across this picture:
It was taken in Ettlingen when two of my friends came to visit me last year.
Then I rediscovered this photo of some wooden figurines in Rhodt unter Riedburg:
But that’s enough wood… time for some more brown things. Take a look at this mother duck out for a swim with her babies:
How many of you said awwww to that one, I wonder?
Sometimes brown comes in more unexpected places – like on this stained glass in Tübingen:
And finally, a sneak preview of the trip Jan and I took today before I write a proper post on it:
Brown wooden fence, brown fallen leaves on the ground and a bird with brown on its back. And where was it taken? Triberg in the Black Forest… plenty of brown tree trunks there!
Think you can do better? To join in with the challenge and see how other people have interpreted the theme brown,check out Ailsa’s blog post.
Every Thursday, Travel With Intent posts a photo to go with the theme Look Up, Look Down and invites readers to do the same.
For this week’s entry, I’ve chosen another old photo. Jan and I went to Paris in April 2009 to meet up with my family. My mam and my aunt had said they would take my Grandma to Paris for her 80th birthday. What she didn’t realise was that it wasn’t only the three of them going… most of her children (including my aunt who lives in New Zealand) and a few of the grandchildren had gathered there to surprise her.
My first photo was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
As you can see, the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant! But Jan wanted to go ahead and climb the thing anyway, so we did.
Here’s another photo from the same occasion:
The spiral staircase is the route back down to street level. I had to wait quite a while before the crowds of people going down died down enough for me to get a photo!
When I saw that Ailsa’s travel theme for this week was “hidden” I knew immediately that I wanted to join in. The only question was did I have any suitable photos? After going through all the albums on my computer, I discovered I did. And here they are for your viewing pleasure.
I have posted this first photo before, but it was just perfect for the theme. Hidden among these leaves there is a bird, almost perfectly camouflaged.
The next two photos were taken in Paris. Hidden beneath the streets of the city are the Catacombes de Paris, an underground ossuary (cemetery). The first picture shows a sculpture of France’s Port-Mahon fortress, created by a former inspector when these tunnels were still part of a stone quarry.
The second photo is more what you would expect from an underground graveyard… bones! Apologies for the quality of the photograph – flash photography was not permitted and it’s pretty dark down there!
Cynics might say that this next sight is a familiar one in Scotland! The sky and the tops of the mountains in Glenfinnan are almost completely hidden behind the clouds.
And finally, just to prove that the weather isn’t always bad in Scotland, here’s a photo taken in Glen Nevis later that same day. This time it’s the sun that’s hidden, behind some trees.
Visit Where’s My Backpack for more interpretations of the theme and to join in yourself. The weekly challenge is open for entries until Thursday.
No weigh-in Wednesday today. Instead, I am going to tell you all about how I celebrated my 30th birthday yesterday.
As you already know, the day started off well with sausage and bacon sandwiches, provided by Jan. YUM! My friend then turned up bearing cupcakes with candles on them! For the record, I suck at blowing out candles… and there weren’t even 30 of them!
Jan and I then drove to Strasbourg (one of the great things about living where I do is that I can very easily just pop to France for the day! We walked around a bit then went and ate cake at a place called Christian’s, which is apparantly famous. Here are the cakes:
We choose two different cakes and halved them both. And because I am so dedicated, I even took a photo of the insides for you:
On returning from Strasbourg, we both went for a nap, then it was time to hit the pub. First we went and ate food at another place then we headed to the Irish pub. It was (mostly) great fun. I was given a bunch of flowers and a CD by my wonderful friends. Then I drank wine and waaaay to much whiskey – none of which I ordered or paid for myself. Then in a drunken state, I started telling people about my blog (mostly because our waitress is someone I originally knew through blogging). Despite me telling them it’s not particularly interesting, they all wanted to URL. So, that was the fun stage of drunkennes…. then the whiskey really kicked in and the tears started, as I told Jan he doesn’t care about me and I’m doomed to die alone and childless while all my friends get married. NOT pretty… and I’m sure I made one or two people very uncomfortable. If any of the people who were there last night have decided to read this, I hereby apologise most sincerely for my behaviour last night!! I don’t really remember most of the journey home. I ended up walking back with my neighbour, wailing and complaining at him all the way, then he came in with me because Jan wasn’t back yet. At some point, I decided I felt sick (classssy!!) and went into the bathroom, then I got a text to say Jan would be home soon so I sent the neighbour away and Jan arrived to find me sitting on the bathroom floor. I never was actually sick by the way, but it was embarassing nonetheless. Alcohol is evil people!!! Avoid it!
So that was how I turned 30. A good day surrounded by lovely people… until I ruined it all by being a drunken mess. But I wasn’t a mess until after midnight, so technically my actual birthday was all good 😉
First impression of Luxembourg (or Lëtzebuerg in Luxembourgish), it has a very nice train station:
This photo was taken while waiting for a bus to my friend’s house to drop our stuff off. Afterwards we came back into town, found the Christmas market (which was still on for some reason) and had some Glühwein. Then we went for a walk and attempted to take photos of Luxembourg by night, such as this one:
As you can see, my camera is not made for taking photos in the dark!
The next day, we took a trip to Metz, which sounds German but is actually in France. It probably was German at one point though. Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region of France and home to the University of Lorraine.
The sun was shining when we arrived, and I was actually able to get some photos of the Cathedral with blue sky behind it:
Saint Étienne de Metz
Saint Étienne de Metz again
The name of the cathedral, Saint Étienne de Metz, means Saint Stephen of Metz. Who knew? I would certainly never have guessed that Étienne is French for Stephen!
Inside the cathedral were many stained glass windows, as Catholic churches tend to have:
Here is the St Marcel bridge. This would have made a much prettier picture in summer!
Metz is 49° North, as this tower so kindly informed me:
There is a bridge castle in Metz called the German’s gate (Porte des Allemands) and being there with two Germans I obviously wanted to find it. Here it is:
The street you can see through the gate is the Rue des Allemands. Naturally – because what else would you call a road leading to the gate of Allemands?
The next day, New Year’s Eve, we headed up to the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg, which is where many of the EU buildings are located. From there, you can look down on Luxembourg City:
No, I don’t have a clue what any of the stuff down there is…
On the Kirchberg, there is also a reconstructed fort: Fort Thüngen. There’s a museum inside, which is pretty interesting. We got in for free, but we’re not sure whether that was because it was New Year’s Eve and half an hour before closing time or it’s always free. Interesting nonetheless, and there are old maps of Luxembourg in there. We spent a while checking each one to see whether we could find the area of Luxembourg that my friend lives in.
At midnight we obviously wanted to see the New Year’s fireworks, so we went and stood on a bridge.
From there we could see the fireworks going off all over the place, some more professional than others. These ones seemed slightly more professional (although there was no “official” fireworks display from the town – apparantly they did one when the prince got married earlier in the year and one official fireworks display is enough!).
On New Year’s Day we slept late, had a long drawn out breakfast (or “brunch”) then spent the rest of the day watching TV and playing board games.
We weren’t leaving ’til around 4pm on the 2 January, so we dropped our luggage off at the train station and went to take a look at Luxembourg in daylight – or what passes for daylight in the middle of winter. The sky was rather grey…
We decided to go for a walk in the giant gorge that basically splits Luxembourg city in two. It’s incredibly quiet down there, away from all the traffic that thunders along the bridges that span the gorge, and you get to walk along pretty paths and down steps that look like this:
The walls of the gorge are made up of sandstone cliffs, like this:
And there is also a really cool church/chapel thing built into the cliff:
We then walked into the aptly-named Grund quarter of Luxembourg, which is located down in the valley below the main centre of Luxembourg city on the banks of the Alzette River.
I found this yellow cow outside a museum and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it:
After our walk around Grund (very pretty by the way – but go in summer when you might have a chance of blue skies!), we took the lift up through the cliffs back to the main part of town where we went for a late lunch before heading back to the train station.
And that was how I started 2013. I hope the new year began just as well for you!