Laufenburg Cross-Border Christmas Market

This is the final post for my 2016 Take 12 Trips challenge, then I will be all caught up. So, let’s get on with it shall we?

Laufenburg in Aargau, Switzerland and Laufenburg in Baden, Germany are two towns that used to be one… until Napolean decided to place the Swiss/German border right in the middle of the Rhine, leaving the two parts of the town in two different countries. A bridge connects the two, and every year the towns join together to hold a cross-border Christmas market, with stalls in each of the towns and also across the bridge. I loved the idea of a Christmas market in two countries at once and as soon as I read about it I knew I wanted to go. The market is only on for one weekend in December, but luckily we had time that weekend – and Laufenburg is only about a 20-minute train ride away.

On arriving in the Swiss Laufenburg, we immediately saw the ruins of a castle on the hill, so that was our first stop. You can climb the tower that is all that remains of the castle and get a nice view of both Laufenburgs. We could actually see the market from up there as well, but I couldn’t get a photo because there were trees in the way.

Back down from the tower, we took a wander through town in the general direction of the river, working on the assumption that we would have to come across the bridge (and thus the Christmas market) somewhere down there. The town turned out to be really pretty, so of course I took photos.

After a while, we reached the Rathaus (town hall), where we could already see signs of the Christmas market.

The Christmas market stands did look very cool crossing the bridge! Also, the two photos below were taken from different countries.

Before buying anything from the Christmas market, we had a wander through, across the bridge and into Germany, to see what was on offer. The German side turned out to be very pretty too! (Unlike in Rheinfelden, where Switzerland got the pretty old town while Germany has nothing worth looking at.)

Apologies for the photo overload… and I haven’t even included all of them!

There was a Rathaus on the German side as well, and the Christmas market ended on the square in front of it. From town hall to town hall, via the bridge 🙂

By this time it was getting a bit chilly, so it was time for some GlĂŒhwein. We chose a stand that was selling a cherry version. Then we moved on to another stand for a bacon waffle… I had never seen anyone put bacon bits in waffle batter before but it was very tasty!

Having eaten , we wandered our way back through the German side and back onto the bridge, where we picked up a Christmas gift for Jan’s mum and grabbed another GlĂŒhwein.

Back on the Swiss side, we found another bit of market round the corner from the bridge, bought some biscuits and a marshmallow snowman from a stand run by a school (the snowman later went in some hot chocolate) and even spied a Santa on a motorbike before deciding it was time to head back to catch our train.

I was expecting Laufenburg market to be tiny, just going across the bridge with maybe one or two stands on either side, but it turned out to have a lot to offer. There are various different food and drink stands along with ones selling hand-made items (there were some lovely bird feeders!), jams and condiments, candles and more. They certainly go to a lot of effort for something that’s only on for three days! The Christmas market and both of the towns are well worth a visit, and we’ve already decided that it would make a nice day trip with any visitors we happen to have in the summer. If you’re ever in the area and fancy doing something in two countries in one afternoon I would definitely recommend Laufenburg!

This was my December trip for Take 12 Trips 2016, and meant I had completed the challenge for the second time!

 

Kandinsky, Marc & Der Blaue Reiter at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen

Hello my lovelies! It’s been a whole week since I last posted (and almost as long since I came to visit anyone else’s blog. Sorry about that… I will be over soon!). Visitors, work and card making have conspired to keep me away from this little space of mine! But now I’m back with a post about a visit to an art gallery, which counted for November in Take 12 Trips. That means I’m actually caught up with Take 12 Trips posts since I haven’t actually taken my December trip yet!

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Outside the Fondation Beyeler building

At the beginning of November, a friend came to visit us because he wanted to go to an art exhibition in Basel… or rather in Riehen, a neighbouring town. The exhibition is actually still on at Fondation Beyerler until 22 January and it’s all about the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, and an almanac they wanted to produce called “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider), which would collect together artwork and writings from various artists. It was supposed to be published annually, but only one ever appeared, in 1912. After that war got in the way and Franz Marc was actually killed at Verdun in 1916.

You were allowed to take photos of some of the art in the gallery (some things had a “no photos” symbol beside them), so here are a few of the ones I took:

Most of the work was too abstract for me, but it was interesting to look at – and especially to see Marc’s transition from relatively normal looking animals (in funny colours) to things that could juuust about still be recognised as what he claimed they were. Kandinsky is really not to my taste though!

After looking at the art, we headed out into the gardens, which at the time were filled with lovely autumn colours. A few photos from there:

Touristy bit: To get to Fondation Beyerle, take tram number 6 to Fondation Beyeler. You can also take tram 2 to Riehen Dorf, but from there you will have to walk a little bit.

This art gallery visit was my November trip for Take 12 Trips 2016. One more trip to go!

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2016

Ludwigsburg KĂŒrbisfest 2016

Wow, I have actually reached October in my travel posts, which means I’m almost caught up with #Take12Trips, Take 2.

This year, we went to the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg again. A Finnish friend we have made in Basel (who from now on shall be referred to as The Finn) plus two friends from Karlsruhe also joined us.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, the theme this year was “circus”, or rather “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town”. Apparently, that was mostly interpreted as clowns (if you don’t like clowns you may want to look away now…)

Even those who don’t mind clowns have to admit the last one is creepy. A clown throwing knives? Who came up with that?

There were a few other things as well:

This little group is called the Hubbard Family (because they’re carved using hubbard pumpkins). Personally I like to think of them as the Dumpty family because they remind me of Humpty Dumpty ! (I know he’s usually pictured as an egg and was actually probably a cannon). They’re the work of American artist Ray Villafane and the Hubbard family was featured in Ludwigsburg for the 4th time in a row in 2016 (although I don’t remember seeing them last year).

Here are some more photos from around the festival:

This year I ate pumpkin Maultaschen in pumpkin soup, orange and hokkaido ice cream and pumpkin strudel. All were delicious!

While wandering around, we spotted a bird. A survey of my Facebook friends came to the conclusion that it’s a common buzzard:

Once we’d seen everything at the actual festival, we had a wander round the fairytale garden then went looking for the aviary. There weren’t many birds around – I’m sure there were more when I went there before? It was raining on and off all day though, so maybe they were all hiding somewhere dry?

Of course, before heading home we hit the shop and bought a few pumpkin varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets plus some pumpkin seed pesto.

Despite the rain, it was a fun day out (although I thought last year’s “flight” theme had some more interesting interpretations for the sculptures!).

The festival has finished for this year since I’ve taken so long to write my post, but if you’re in the Stuttgart area definitely look out for it next September/October. This year’s festival took place from 2 September-6 November and next year’s will probably be roughly the same.

This was my October trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica

Wow, my last post got a bit deep, didn’t it? I think it’s about time I counteracted that with another travel post.

In September, Jan’s dad came to visit us for a weekend and we took a day trip to Rheinfelden and Kaiseraugst. I’ve already shared photos of Rheinfelden on the blog once, but our last visit was in December. This time the sky was a lot less grey!

We didn’t cross over into the German Rheinfelden on this visit (it’s really not worth it, except to say you walked across a border), but we did go onto the little island that can be accessed from the bridge.

It was a boiling hot day and plenty of people (and dogs!) were bathing in the river.

Once we’d seen enough of the island, it was time to head back to the train station and on to Kaiseraugst, home of the Augusta Raurica Roman site.

We walked for ages through farmland, the sun baking us alive and birds circling overhead.

Eventually we spied some Roman ruins. This is the ruins of a temple:

We had been following signs for the amphitheatre because we thought that was what we wanted to see. Turns out there isn’t much left of the amphitheatre:

What we were actually looking for was just the plain old theatre, so that’s where we headed next.

Aha… that’s more like it!

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Kaiseraugst Roman theatre

 

Augusta Raurica hosts events throughout the summer (including a Roman festival) and on this particular day they were setting up for a concert. Luckily we managed to get in and have a look around before they blocked off the entrances.

There’s also an indoor museum area (with a Roman house), which we did not go into, and a few other Roman bits and bobs dotted around.

After enjoying a nice cold beer, we walked back towards town past the train station and down to the river… instead of taking another train, the plan was to travel back to Basel by boat. We had a bit of time to spare, so we took off our shoes and stood on some steps with our feet in the water. It was lovely and refreshing!

The boat back to Basel passes through two locks, at the Augst and Birsfelden run-of-the-river power plants.

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll only include a few of the photos I took during our boat trip. Also, until we were actually approaching Basel I have no idea where the majority of the photos were taken.

Our boat was the Christoph Merian, for those who are interested.

All in all it was a lovely day out and one I would definitely take again if future visitors showed an interest.

This was my September trip for Take 12 Trips 2016 (I’m slowly catching up!)

Bad SĂ€ckingen

Since tomorrow is NOVEMBER I think it’s about time I catch up on my travel posts, especially since the trip I’m about to tell you about took place on my birthday, which was back in August! Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger.

I first heard of Bad SĂ€ckingen thanks to a restaurant in Karlsruhe with the name Trompeter von SĂ€ckingen (which has since closed… there’s now an African restaurant in the premises). Intrigued by the name, I asked Jan about it and he told me it was the name of a book by Joseph Viktor von Scheffel, which is loosely based on a true story that took place in Bad SĂ€ckingen (which back then was just called SĂ€ckingen – Bad in the name of a town means it’s a spa town, and SĂ€ckingen became Bad SĂ€ckingen in 1978. There’s your German/history lesson for today). Intrigued by the story, I looked the town up and discovered it was supposed to be pretty and decided I wanted to go there… a fact that Jan reminded me of when I was debating where to go on my birthday.

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My friend K came down for my birthday and came with us to Bad SĂ€ckingen. It’s in Germany, but only takes about 20 minutes to get to from Basel Badischer Bahnhof.

First of all, we went for a little walk around the town. I promise the only editing I’ve done on the photos below is resizing them to save space on the blog. It just was that nice a day!

The town centre isn’t huge and before long we were back down at the river and the other thing Bad SĂ€ckingen is famous for (for a given vale of the word “famous”) – its wooden bridge. The town on the other side of the bridge is called Stein and it’s in Switzerland. The border is in the middle of the river, so of course we had to have some fun standing in two countries at once. In one of the photos below, you can see mine and K’s feet right on the border marking… the closest you will ever get to seeing a photo of one of my friends on this here blog 😉

We headed to the Schlosspark (castle gardens) next, where we found a few trumpeters!

Finally it was time for a late lunch. We went to a steak restaurant called Marco Polo where I had bison because I had never tried it before. Plus a beer… it was my birthday after all!

I took another few photos as we wandered back down towards the river, then we walked along to the weir where many cormorants were hanging out waiting for the easy fish pickings.

One more quick glance down the river, and it was off back to the train station and home to Basel.

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The Rhine, the bridge and Bad SĂ€ckingen (plus green, green hills!)

Bad SĂ€ckingen is not exactly huge and I’m not sure what you would do there on a rainy day (although there is a trumpet museum in the castle), but on a sunny afternoon it’s well worth a wander around. If you had a bit more time you could even cross the river and take a walk into Stein… I’m not sure whether there’s anything there worth looking at, but you could at least say you’d spent the day in both Germany and Switzerland…

Bad SĂ€ckingen was my August trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Delémont, Switzerland

After a very few hot days, July 31st promised to be a lot cooler, so Jan and I decided to go hiking… just in time for me to sneak it in for July’s contribution to take 12 trips ;-). Jan suggested heading bit further afield than we had on previous hikes and mentioned DelĂ©mont, so I looked for a hike that started there and found one that took roughly 2 hours and went up the hill beside the town. We were supposed to come past the Chapelle du Vorbourg and the ruins of Vorbourg castle, but the route description wasn’t very good and somehow we missed them. Oh well.

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As you can see from the photo above, it was chucking it down when we arrived in DelĂ©mont. It was also thundering, but we decided to continue with our hike anyway and see how things went. After all, skin is waterproof…

It wasn’t long before we saw the Jura coat of arms in the side of the mountain… just in case we hadn’t realised which canton we were in 😉

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The first part of the hike took us around the outskirts of town, past housing estates along paved roads. By the time we reached the part where we were to enter the woods, the thunder had stopped and the rain had died down, so we decided it would be safe enough to enter the trees…

Having difficulty following the instructions I had printed, we decided that the place where we were must have been where it wanted us to start heading up through the trees. In hindsight, we were wrong since we never did come across any chapel! We did, however, eventually find a break in the trees from where we could look down on the town.

Just up the hill from there was a proper viewing platform, so I had shoved my way into the gap between the trees for nothing!

With all the rain, the snails were out in full force. We had to be careful not to tread on the ones that were hanging out in the middle of the path!

How pretty is that shell though?

After admiring the view, we headed back down the mountain and towards the old town. Pretty much as soon as we were away from the woods the sun came out!

The whole old town was full of flag bunting. I’m not sure whether it’s always there or they had hung it up specially because the next day was the national holiday. I only recognised two of the coats of arms – the one for Jura and the one for DelĂ©mont town. You can see both of those on the first picture below. The others are presumably from the other towns that belong to DelĂ©mont district?

The old town of Delémont is small but very pretty and we had a nice wander round in the sunshine.

Too soon it was time to head back to the train station – we were meeting people to watch the fireworks and wanted to shower first. We grabbed some tasty food from the station cafĂ© and a beer from the little Coop supermarket at the station and ate and drank those while waiting for the train.

This is a nice little hike for a day that you don’t have time for a longer one (just make sure not to miss the chapel and castle like we did!) and DelĂ©mont old town is worth a look at, although it’s so small that I wouldn’t make that the entire itinerary for your day trip!

Monday Escapes has been revived with new hosts, so I’m linking up with Travel Loving Family, Extraordinary Chaos, Tin Box Traveller and Mini Travellers for that. And of course I’ve already mentioned that this was my July trip for #Take12Trips, which was originally the brainchild of Clare at Need Another Holiday.Travel Loving Family

GraubĂŒnden – June 2016

I’m slowly catching up on blogging my Take 12 Trips adventures for 2016. With this post, I’m only two months behind!

At the beginning of June, a colleague of Jan’s was playing at an accordion festival in Disentis Abbey. Disentis is in the canton of GraubĂŒnden (of Grisons in French), which we had herd was a beautiful area with lots of amazing scenery and many hiking opportunities, so we decided we would go down there for a weekend, watch the colleague perform on the Saturday and then spend the Sunday hiking before returning home, ready for work on Monday. We booked a hotel in Breils or Brigels (GraubĂŒnden is trilingual canton!) and set off bright and early on Saturday morning. The plan was to walk from Brigels train station to the hotel, but it turned out to be at least an hour’s walk up the mountain, so instead we took the Postauto (bus run by Swiss Post). Brigels is a cute little town that probably has a beautiful view on clear days… I wouldn’t know, we had clouds 😉 After checking in to our hotel, we bought a sandwich from the supermarket and ate it on a bench overlooking the town. Here are some photos from Brigels:

After we had eaten, we took the bus back down to the train station. After checking what time the last bus back to Brigels would be (pretty early!), we took the train to Disentis and went in search of the accordion festival. The festival was also part festival, so we watched a number of groups play the same pieces before Jan’s colleague’s group took to the stage. This group was more professional than the others and was taking part non-competitively so they could just play without worrying about points. Even non-musical me noticed that they were much better than the others! We decided not to stay for the rest of the competition and went for a quick walk around Disentis. It turned out there wasn’t much to see and I took a grand total of four photos there!

Soon it was time to head back to the train station so we could catch the bus back to Brigels. Once up there, we walked around for a bit (but I took no photos because I had forgotten my memory card and had only the memory on the camera itself, meaning I was limited in how many I could take!) then had a delicious dinner at the hotel before getting an early night. We wanted to be up early the next day to fit in a nice hike before we had to go home!

After breakfast the next day we headed out to catch the bus back down to the train station and from there took a train to a station called Oberalppasshöhe on the Operalp Pass, a pass high up in the mountains. We wanted to hike to the source of the Rhine, which is considered to be at the Tomasee (Lag da Toma, or Toma Lake), but the hiking paths weren’t officially open yet and there was still some snow around so we didn’t quite make it. We could see that some people had already crossed the snow and presumably gone all the way up, but my shoes weren’t quite good enough and I was scared to cross the largest expanses of snow! We had a lovely hike anyway though and ended up walking around for roughly 3.5 hours, which isn’t bad (especially since it rained part of the time)! I’ve promised Jan I will go back with him when the weather is better and actually go all the way to the lake.

The Rhine ends in Rotterdam, where it flows into the North Sea, so near where the train stops at the start of the hiking trail there is a lighthouse, a smaller replica of one in Rotterdam. Apparently the replica at the Oberalp Pass is the highest lighthouse in the world. But enough rambling, I’m sure what you really want is photos!

 

A second gallery… too many photos for one! (As always, click photos to enlarge)

The staff at a restaurant  near the train station had kindly agreed to look after our luggage for us, so when we went to pick it up we decided we deserved a treat after all that hiking in the snow. Beer and BĂŒnder Gerstensuppe (barley soup). We also had cake but I scoffed that too quickly for a photo 😉

Finally it was time to be on our way. The train home took us on a beautiful route, over a gorge and then around the other side of Lake Lucerne, through Schywz (a tiny canton, but the one that gives Switzerland its name). Two train changes later, we were finally home where we went straight to bed ready for a week of work starting the next day!

This first trip to GraubĂŒnden was incredibly short, but it’s okay – it definitely won’t be our last!

Linking up with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey for Monday Escapes.

Travel Monkey

Hike from Sommerau to LĂ€ufelfingen

Hey guys! There have already been some great guesses for round two of What Am I Stitching. I’ll move on to round three soon, but in the meantime click the link if you still want to guess. For now, I’m going to tell you about a hike we went on in May. Yes, I’m slightly behind with my travel blogging…

We hadn’t been hiking for a while and we decided that May would be a good time to do it, before it got too hot (although the summer has also been mostly chilly so far, with the odd very hot day!). I got online – I like to use http://wanderungen.ch/ – and found a promising looking hike that wasn’t too far away, a discovery trail from Sommerau, along a small stream to a waterfall, then up the hill to a viewing tower on top of the Wisenberg mountain. From Basel SBB, we took the train, changed once in Sissach and arrived in Sommerau at 10:17 a.m.

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The start of the hike, near the train station in Sommerau

We walked along the little stream – called Chrindelbach – for about half an hour before reaching the Giessen waterfall; an appropriate name as giessen means “to pour”. The 18 km high waterfall marks the end of the valley – from there, it’s all uphill!

After the waterfall, the route leads out of the woods for a short while, past farms and fields of dandelions. One farm had set up a little refreshment stand with a coffee machine and some other drinks. So cute!

After the dandelions, the path led back into the woods for a short distance, and in the middle of the trees we found the Wisenberg viewing tower. At around 25m tall, the top of viewing platform provides an amazing view over the trees. You can even see the Alps! (Although they were hard to capture with my camera. I did my best!).

Back down from the tower, we left the woods again and walked past another farm. This next photo is the most Swiss thing ever…. green field, cows, Alps. All that’s missing is a bar of chocolate 😉

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From there, we hiked past more farms, pretty flowers, lots of green and a few more animals until we reached LĂ€ufelfingen train station, where we had a beer (which I didn’t photograph) before taking the train back to Basel. Here are some photos from the last stage of our hike:

Now the tourist information part: the total hiking time was roughly 3 hours and 40 minutes. We took just over 4 hours from start to finish, including all the photo stops. You can also take a bus to Wisen and walk up to the tower from there, which will take about an hour.

This was my May 2016 trip for  Take 12 Trips 2016.

Allschwil, Basel-Landschaft

Okay, now I’ve finished telling you about New Zealand, it’s about time I recorded my last few outings for #take12trips 2016 (in case you missed it, I’m redoing the take 12 trips challenge).

There are two branches of the MĂŒller drugstore chain in Basel that I know of, and both are equally awkward for me to get to! But sometimes I really want to, because they sell things that I can’t necessarily get at the supermarket (and also their shower gel is cheaper). One of those MĂŒller branches is juuust in Allschwil, a town in the canton of Basel-Landschaft that borders on the Basel-Stadt (the city). (I promise there is a point to this story!). Usually I get there by walking to near the zoo, taking a bus that goes through part of Basel city and then walking for another 15 minutes to cross the border into Allschwil, but one day I decided I was going to walk as far as I could then take a bus the rest of the way. The result was that I ended up on a bus that went through the centre of Allschwil and discovered that it’s actually quite a pretty little town. I knew then that I would have to go there one day with my camera. The opportunity to do so came one day when Jan and I had been to IKEA, which meant I had a day ticket. Jan had a choir practice in the afternoon so I decided to make use of said day ticket and go an explore Allschwil. It was a fairly rainy day, but that actually worked to my advantage – fewer people around to tell me off for taking photos of their houses! (Not that that’s ever happened but I’m always afraid it will!). Here are some photos of the town centre:

I thought there were people standing outside the church, but when I got closer I saw that they weren’t real!

More photos:

Once you get away from the town centre, the buildings become fairly “ordinary” and there isn’t really anything to photograph, but it was worth the trip to see the half-timbered houses photographed. There is also a water tower in Allschwil, about a 25 minute walk from the centre. For the price of 2 CHF you can take a lift up and enjoy a view of Basel, the Black Forest and other surroundings. It’s only open on Sundays and bank holidays though, and my trip to Allschwil was on a Saturday so no water tower for me!

I enjoyed my trip to the centre of Alschwil, but I was left with just one question… why don’t I live in such a pretty house?!

Today I’m linking up to Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase.

Packing my Suitcase
Allschwil was my April trip for #take12trips 2016.

New Plymouth, New Zealand

Yes, I’m still going on about New Zealand! Nearly finished now 😉

When I left off before, we’d reached the end of the Forgotten World Highway. From there, we drove to our B&B in New Plymouth, which was lovely by the way! I wish we could have had more than one night there. Before going out for the evening we admired the view from the window and took some photos of the birds out in the garden. We were later told that these are Indian Mynah birds.

Our B&B wasn’t directly in town, so we got back in the car to go down to the coast then parked up and went for a walk.

This sculpture is called the Wind Wand:

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Apparently it cost more than 300,000 NZ$. Worth it? 😉

We walked along the coastal path for a little way. It was nice to be by the sea.

Apparently I took a lot of photos of rocks? I liked the way they looked with the sea in the background.

The sun eventually started to set, so I played around with my camera settings trying to get some good photos. I should probably know what the two rock formations/small islands are but I don’t. Sorry! *Bad blogger*

We were hungry by that stage so we headed back to a restaurant near where we parked the car. It’s called Arborio and the food we ate was delicious! We even indulged in some nice wine and had desert. We must have been feeling rich 😉 I took zero photos of said food though. Again, bad blogger.

The next morning, the sun was rising when we got up for breakfast.

From New Plymouth we drove up to Auckland, stopping at the Waitamo Glowworm Caves on the way. I have no photos from there because you aren’t allowed to take photos in there (and I left my camera in the car so I couldn’t have sneaked any ;-)), but I can highly recommend it! There are glow work experiences of up to 3 hours(!), but we didn’t have that long so we did a 45 minute tour, which involved walking through one cave with a guide followed by a boat ride through the dark to the exit. During the boat ride, you can see all the little glow worms glowing away… like millions of stars on the roof and walls of the cave. A truly awesome experience that was over way too soon!

Again, I’m linking up for Monday Escapes, and I remind you that New Zealand was my #Take12trips destination for March (yes, I’m that far behind on posting!)

Travel Monkey