Strasbourg and La Petite Pierre

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:

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).

Tarte flambée, or Flammkuchen in German
Tarte flambée, or Flammkuchen in German

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.)

Strasbourg

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.

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:

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?

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!

La Petite Pierre

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!

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Travel theme: Brown

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:

Ettlingen

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:

Wooden owls

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:

Duckies

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:

Tübingen stained glass

And finally, a sneak preview of the trip Jan and I took today before I write a proper post on it:

Triberg bird

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.

Birthday shenanigans

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:

French cakes
French 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:

cake 2

cake 3

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 😉

Smile… it’s your birthday!

(My birthday, that is.)
I know you’re all waiting for an update on the cross stitch situation, and I promise I have a post in the pipeline, but for now you’re just going to hve to wait. Today is my birthday, and there shall be no fulfilling of obligations on my birthday, blogging or otherwise!

So, here’s what I ate for tea last night as my last meal in my twenties, because I’m just that fabulous!

You're never too old for a smiley dinner!
You’re never too old for a smiley dinner!

Later, I might post a photo of my birthday presents for you. Or I might not. Right now, Jan is cooking me my special birthday breakfast, then we’re off to Strasbourg for the day… where there will definitely be cake! The French are good at sweet things.

Travel theme: Sweet

I’m jumping on to this week’s travel theme just in time! Until the end of today, Ailsa at Where’s my Backpack is asking people to share their travel photos on the topic of sweet.

We’ll start with the obvious, shall we? What could be sweeter than cake! I had this one in Salisbury on my 27th birthday…

Mmm!
Mmm!

It was exactly as rich as it looks and extremely satisfying!

We all know what Shakespeare said about roses, and this one in the rose garden at Kilkenny Castle is a particularly pretty example:

A rose by any other name...
A rose by any other name…

And finally, how sweet is this little duckling?

duckling

We spied it on a day trip to Strasbourg with Jan’s parents back in 2008. The poor thing had apparantly lots its mummy and was running up and down on the pavement by the river looking rather lost… hence the blurriness of the photo. You try getting a good picture of a duckling that won’t stand still! (And the crowd of people watching it didn’t make things any easier… we moved on after I’d managed to grab my snapshot).

If you’re very quick, you too could join in with the “Sweet” travel theme… the deadline is today. But if you don’t have time now, not to worry. There will be a new travel theme for you to try your hand at tomorrow. In the meantime, go here to see how other people have interpreted the sweet theme.

Long weekend

It’s been a very long weekend. Jan’s parents were here because on Friday he had his kind of graduation… not a graduation in the sense that we know it from England but there was a small ceremony with speeches followed by food, free beer and live music. The speech part was pretty boring but the rest was fun.

Yesterday we went to Strasbourg where we had a boat trip on the river, then today we went to the DDR museum in Pforzheim before Jan’s parents left to drive back home. Tonight I’ve been out for a meal with my colleagues. We went to Stövchen, a very student friendly restaurant/pub in Karlsruhe. I had Flammkuchen, or “tarte flambe” as they call it in Alsace, where it comes from. Very busy weekend with lots of early starts and long days. I’m now exhausted, which is why I’m keeping this blog short. It’s definitely past Bev’s bedtime…