Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2015

This post isn’t so much “A Photo an Hour” as “a photo whenever I remembered I was actually supposed to be taking photos”. We were invited to a party back in Karlsruhe on Saturday, and between missing trains, buying tram tickets in the rain and helping refugees find their stop, taking photos kind of fell by the wayside occasionally. Oops!

9.30 a.m. Oh dear, I forgot to take a photo when I got up! Better take one now! Packing the overnight bag.

11 a.m. After just missing the tram we needed, arriving at the station one minute after our train left and then having to buy new tickets because we had ones that we valid only for that connection, I finally got round to taking a photo again! Waiting for the train to arrive…

12 noon. Reading on the train.

1.30 p.m. At one, we were helping refugees figure out where they were going, so I decided to switch back to photos on the half hour. At 1.30 we were eating lunch at Café Pan.

2. 30 p.m. Still at the café. These are some decorations.

3.30 p.m. A spot of shopping while we’re in nice, cheap Germany!

4.30 p.m. A quick stop for some tea and cake at Sukie’s. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake and it was delicious!

5.30 p.m. On the tram to the party, carrying a gift in a cute froggy bag.

6.30 p.m. One of the other guests brought yummy éclairs from France!

Midnight-ish. Coat and shoes back on, ready to leave!

Well, I may not have taken a photo every hour, but at least I managed an even number this month ;-)

Thanks as always to Jane and Louisa for hosting!




Paris on my mind

Inspired by this post the lovely Katyboo, today I wanted to write something positive about Paris to counteract the awful images we’ve been seeing all weekend. A sort of projecting of light into the darkness, if you will. Luckily, it turns out that, although I blogged about where we ate, the Welcome to Night Vale live show we saw and an amazing bar, I never actually got round to sharing the other photos from our stay.

Much like this autumn has been, the end of October/beginning of November was unseasonably warm in 2014, and we were able to enjoy lunch outside and a stroll around some of the sights of Paris. We didn’t have much time, but that didn’t matter. It was a lovely two days spent with my boyfriend and a good friend. Paris will never be my favourite place (sorry, but no big city will ever take that honour – I’m more of a small, quaint places kind of girl), but I have good memories from the times I’ve been there. And that’s something no terrorist will ever be able to take away from me.

Here are a few photos from last year’s Paris trip:

My thoughts are with the people of Paris, and also of all those other countries that are experiencing acts of terrorism and war every single day, but rarely receive as much news coverage as Friday’s attacks did.

I’m linking up with Monday Escapes again this week. I think we could all use an escape from sadness and hate right now.

Packing my Suitcase


Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015

I’m aware I haven’t actually finished telling you about our holiday in England yet, but today I want to skip to what we did this weekend because the festival isn’t over yet and there might be people in the area who feel like going.

Each year, the castle in Ludwigsburg hosts a huge pumpkin festival in its gardens. A few bloggers went last year and it looked amazing, but sadly I wasn’t able to go then, so when Meredith wrote a blog post about this year’s event I was determined to make it there this time. From Karlsruhe, it would have been fairly easy to get to. This year we were further away, meaning the journey took us around 3 hours (changing trains twice), but we decided that was just about doable. Since we had to change trains in Karlsruhe, I asked whether any of my friends there would like to join us and two of them did.

Tiny pumpkinsEach year, there is a theme for the sculptures at the festival to fit into and this year’s was Fliegen, which mines flight. However, there were some interesting interpretations of the word, for instance one sculpture was of a grand piano, which is der Flügel in German… and Flügel is also the German word for wing (as in what birds have, not the wing of a house), giving it a (slightly contrived) connection to flight. Here are some of my favourite photos that I took of the sculptures. The smaller carved pumpkins aren’t part of the “main” exhibition and therefore don’t have to follow the flight theme (hence cows and snakes).

I managed to take my camera along without it’s memory card because I’m a moron ;-) Luckily I can actually take some photos with the camera’s own memory, but it meant I had to ration myself. Luckily my friend K took lots of photos, which she very kindly shared with me, so the next gallery is all her work.

As well as the sculptures, there were various culinary offerings involving pumpkin. We had roast pumpkin seeds – I bought ones with chilli and sugar while K chose sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin popcorn (boring – it was just ordinary sweet popcorn with crushed pumpkin seeds sprinkled on, and taste of just… popcorn), pumpkin burgers (amazing! Would eat again!), pumpkin chips/fries (also amazing! I plan to try and make my own), pumpkin Schorle (juice mixed with fizzy water) and pumpkin prosecco (“Kürbissecco”), and also sampled some of the items that were available to buy for taking home – including pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin ketchup and pumpkin chutney. All were delicious!

As well as the sculptures, the entire place is decorated with pumpkins and the winners of the German and European giant pumpkin contests were also in display. Here are a few general impressions of the pumpkins, the park and the gorgeous autumn colours. First gallery contains my photos:

And the following photos are by K:

Sorry about the photo overload – I couldn’t narrow it down any further!

If anyone is in the Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg/Heidelberg area and wants to see the pumpkins for themselves, the festival is on until Saturday 8th November. The exhibition area is not lit, so I recommend going during the day/before dark. Entrance to the garden is €8.50 – and make sure you do ask for a ticket to just the garden, unless you actually want to go into the castle! Apart from the pumpkins, the garden itself has a lot to offer, including a huge walk in aviary (which we sadly didn’t have time to go into this time, but Jan and I have been before and it’s amazing!) and a fairytale forest.

Phew! That was a long post, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end!
I’m linking this up for Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. Click the button for more information.

Packing my Suitcase


Yorkshire Sculpture Park and “Wave”

Months before we had even booked our flights to England, Jan and I had decided to hire a car while we were over there this time – party to give us a bit of freedom from relying on other people/buses, but also so we could go away by ourselves for a few days. This was my first holiday since New Year and I wanted us to have at least some time to ourselves! Much as I love my family, visiting them doesn’t count as a “real” holiday for me. We had discussed a few options for where to go, but when I saw an article about a part of the poppies exhibition from the Tower of London was visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park and would be there while we were over the decision was instantly made for me. I was disappointed not to get to see the poppies in London so I knew I had to see them in Yorkshire. Luckily Jan agreed – since he’s the driver forcing the issue might have been a bit difficult ;-)

While we were driving down to Yorkshire, it started raining heavily, as in can barely see through the windscreen heavily! It calmed down a little afer a bit, and  after we stopped at Woolley Edge Services for food and coffee (or chai latte in my case) it had slowed to a mere drizzle. It still made for a rather damp visit to the park, but the gorgeous autumn colours at least partially made up for that. And also being a rainy Monday in October meant it wasn’t as crowded as it might have been ;-)

As soon as we entered the park, we saw signs for Wave, but there are plenty of other things to see on the way there. Some sculptures were more interesting than others (and some were just downright weird!). Here are a few of my favourites:

I guessed as soon as I saw this next sculpture that it was by Nike de Saint Phalle, even though it’s not her usual style – the colours fit, but her “people” are normally less recognisable for what they are.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There’s a country house in the middle of the park, Bretton Hall. Apparently at one point it was used as a college and the latest plan is to turn it into a hotel.

By the way, that metal slab on the right-hand photo is one of the sculptures. Told you some of them were odd!

Finally, we reached the main attraction and let me tell you it was worth the wait!First we went into a little hut where there were copies of poems about WW1 on the wall and a notice board where people could put their tributes to people who had fought or died in the war, plus a giant window to catch your first glimpse of the bridge where the sculpture was dsiplayed, then it was on to the sculpture itself. I may have gone overboard taking photos – this isn’t even all of them!

We walked all the way up to the Longside Gallery (through a field of cows, but no sculptures!) only to find that the current exhibition is very modern-arty and not that interesting. Random sculptures that even I could have made! Then we took the free shuttle bus back down to the main park and had a look at the last remaining sculptures.

Overall, we were there for about 3 and a half hours, including a stop at the end for a cuppa and some cake. If it hadn’t been such a miserable day, we could probably have taken even more time walking around! Parking costs 8 pounds for the entire day but entrance to the park is free, so I think it’s worth it (especially if you have a car full!). There are also buses from Barnsely and Wakefield that stop directly outside the park if paying for parking bothers you.

Even with the rain we had a good time and the poppies definitely met my expectations. The “Wave” sculpture is there until 10th January 2016 if you want to visit it, but otherwise the park is a great place for a day out in the fresh air at any time.

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. For more information and to join in click the button below.

Packing my Suitcase


Spalentor, Basel

A couple of weekends ago, I had some friends from Karlsruhe visiting so we could celebrate my birthday and also have a mini flat-warming type thing. A couple of days before, I just happened to see on a Basel meetup group that on that very Saturday there was a “Tag der offenen Türme”, Day of Open Towers. In other words, the remaining towers of Basel’s old city walls were opening up for one day only (usually you can only look at them from the outside). Four towers in all were opening up, but that seemed like a bit much for one afternoon, so I decided it made most sense to aim for just one. I chose Spalentor because it’s the prettiest looking (from the outside, in my opinion) and also the closest to where we live. Also, it’s practically in the town centre so we could walk on to some other tourist sites after viewing the tower.



The week before had been cloudy and not all that warm, so I was relieved to see Saturday dawning with bright sunshine. Climbing a tower only to see clouds isn’t much fun!
Inside the tower, there were various interesting items of furniture on each level and also a fascinating little room!

Finally we reached the top and were able to look out over the roofs of Basel and the very pretty street that the tower/gate is located in.

Most of what we could see from the top of the tower wasn’t actually all that interesting so those are the only photos I took from up there. But it was interesting to actually go inside the tower that we’d driven past so many times while flat hunting. And I still think the outside is very pretty.

It seems the Tag der Stadttore (Day of the open city gates), to give it its official name, is an annual event, so maybe next year I’ll get to see the inside of another tower!

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase. Click the button to find out more!

My Travel Monkey


The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award…. times 2!

I was first nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award way back in 2013… you can read my answers here. Then Lolo, aka California Globetrotter nominated me again back at the beginning of August. I’ve been meaning to answer her questions ever since, but spectacularly failed to find time for it. Now that Becster has also nominated me, I thought it was about time I actually did the tag! Apologies in advance… this will be a long one as I’m answering ten questions from each of those bloggers. Feel free to skip this post and wait for a shorter one.

SisterhoodFirst of all, thank you to both bloggers. As always, I am honoured that you thought of me (even even though answering questions is haaaard /end whine). I will start with Lolo’s questions since she tagged me first. Hers are all travel related, which is nice.

  1. When did you realise you were a travel addict?
    I think it was probably when I was a child. I have a memory of going to visit my grandparents. We were living in Northern Ireland at the time, which puts me at between 5 and 7 years old. We travelled by ferry and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever and hoping I would get to go on many more ferries in my life. Even though we were “only” going to stay with my grandparents, I’m pretty sure that was the moment I caught the travel bug.
  2. Where will you never, ever travel to again?
    Hmm, I don’t think there is anywhere really. I’m not really that keen on Paris, but things keep coming up there (brother wanting to celebrate his 21st birthday there, it being the closest Night Vale live show to us…) so I’ll never say never!
  3. What was the most thrill-inducing activity you have ever done while travelling?
    I can’t actually think of anything. Sorry guys, I guess I’m boring! Hmm, maybe tobogganing down the road in Madeira counts?
  4. Have you ever had a terrible travel companion to the point you couldn’t wait for the trip to be over?
    I actually haven’t! Some of our companions in Ireland kind of annoyed me at times, but I successfully ignored them and made sure I fit in everything I wanted to do, so I still had an amazing trip.
  5. Where is one place you keep going back and visiting over an over again?
    I’m going  to say Northumberland doesn’t count since I mostly go there to visit family! Bizarrely, I think the place I’ve been most often is Paris with 4 trips! Most of those just happened that way though (see above), so it’s not like I just loooove Paris so much I have to keep going there. I mean, I like Paris but there are places I like a lot better! One place I would visit over and over again is Austria, but various parts of the country rather than one specific place (although I have been to Vienna twice).

    Marktgasse in Feldkirch, Austria

    Marktgasse in Feldkirch, Austria

  6. What advice could you give to newbie travel bloggers?
    Well, I’m not actually a travel blogger so I’m not sure any advice I give would be any good. I’ll just give some advice that isn’t specific to travel blogging… just be yourself! Find your own voice and don’t try to imitate big bloggers in the hope of achieving their level of popularity quickly. I will never have a “big” blog, but I will also never get tired of blogging because I’m actually doing it in a way I enjoy and not trying to do the “right” thing to achieve success.
  7. Is there something you always have to do in every city you visit?
    Try the local food! I always like to get away from the touristy areas and walk down random side streets to hopefully find out where the locals choose to eat. This often means a lot of pointing and gesticulating, but the experience is much more authentic than in a restaurant where the menu consists of pictures of the dishes ;-)
  8. Where was the first place you visited overseas?
    Rhodes, Greece aged 11. I loved it!
  9. If you could live in any country right now, where would you live?
    Can I be boring and say the one I’m in? I haven’t even been living in Switzerland for 6 months yet so I still have so much to explore!
  10. If you could go back in time, which time period would you love to travel the world in?
    As a woman, I actually quite enjoy the fact that I get to travel the world now! While there obviously are places where it’s not really safe/desirable to be a woman travelling (especially alone!), for the most part things are pretty good these days. However, I do think it could have been interesting to travel the world when Captain Cook was on his voyages of discovery. Interesting but not very comfortable… so maybe I’ll stick with my own time after all ;-)

Thank you Lolo for those interesting questions! And now on to Becster’s…

  1. What’s your favourite film/movie
    Oooh, so many good ones! I don’t think I can pick just one, so I’m going with two… A League of Their Own and Clue (if you haven’t see the latter, please go and find it right now. It’s seriously one of the funniest films ever!!)
  2. If you could visit anywhere for a day, where would you go?
    One day is such a short time, and there are so many places I want to visit. But I think this time I’m going to choose Iceland. I’m desperate to see the Northern Lights!
  3. Are you a cat or dog person?
    Dog, definitely. I don’t have anything against cats, but in a pet I want a someone who is always pleased to see me. Also, the idea of cleaning out cat litter trays makes me feel ill. I’d much rather pick up dog poo somewhere outside my house!

    Not my dog, sadly...

    Not my dog, sadly…

  4. Do you watch any soaps?
    No. I watched Hollyoaks for a while as a teenager, but I don’t really watch much TV at all these days.
  5. Favourite snack to binge on?
    Chocolate! And Switzerland is a dangerous place for chocolate lovers…
  6. Most hated chore to have to do?
    Ironing! 100%. I’m actually scared of burning myself on the iron (because I’m a weirdo) so all ironing at my place is done by Jan. Of the chores I actually do, I hate washing dishes the most. I love the fact that we now have a dishwasher!
  7. Do you eat your fruit and veggies?
    I try to :-) Vegetables I’m actually quite good with, but fruit seems to go bad too quickly for me.
  8. 50 Shades of Gray – yay or nay?
    I’ve never actually read it, but from what I’ve heard, apart from the storyline being awful I’d end up throwing it across the room a few pages in because the writing itself is so terrible!
  9. What do you normally eat for breakfast?
    I don’t always eat breakfast (if you’re reading… sorry mam!), but when I do it’s usually toast. Lately I’ve been enjoying it with Ovomaltine spread.
  10. Tea or coffee?
    Definitely tea! I do drink coffee, but not often, and at home I almost always drink tea.

    It's always a good time for a cuppa!

    It’s always a good time for a cuppa!

And that’s the end of that! I’m supposed to nominate ten other people now, but the only people I can think of are ones I’ve nominated for similar awards a dozen times, so here are my six nominations. That’s almost ten, right? ;-)

Courtney from Welcome to Germerica
Beth from Ami in Schwabenland
Zoe from Where’s Zoe now?
Briony from Fear of the Reaper

And now I have to try and think of interesting questions to ask you (this part is also hard!).

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is the best food you’ve ever tried while travelling?
  3. If you could have a second home where would it be and why?
  4. If you were a ghost, which place would you haunt?
  5. Have you ever planned a trip just because a book/film was set there?
  6. What is your favourite item in your home?
  7. What is your favourite pancake topping/filling (depending on how you make your pancakes :-))
  8. Which song title best represents your life right now?
  9. Which of your blog posts has the most views?
  10. What is a book you’ve been meaning to read for a while but keep putting off?

To my nominees: I apologise if you’ve done this before or just hate tags! You don’t actually have to do it….
To everyone else: the people I’ve nominated have a fab blogs and you should really check them out. Also, sorry if I’ve bored you ;-)


Olten Street Food Festival

I’ve mentioned the Olten Street Food Festival on my blog before because it happened to take place on June’s photo an hour day. However, I also meant to write a full post dedicated to the festival and Olten, and that hasn’t happened yet. There’s another Monday Escapes linkup happening today, so it seemed like a good opportunity.

Olten is only about half an hour from Basel by regional or inter-city train (faster by ICE – express train – but more expensive), but it’s already in another canton, namely Solothurn, and some of its surrounding towns are in another one again – Aargau. The town, which has a population of roughly 17,300, is located on the River Aare.

The food festival was taking place in Kirchgasse and Baslerstrasse. On the way there, we admired the streets of the old town.

Before deciding what to eat, we had a walk around the festival to see what was on offer. It wasn’t particularly large, but there was still quite a range of foods! Quite a lot of Indian stands, but also Japanese, Argentinian and Italian, just to give a few examples. And, of course, there was raclette!

Finally, we decided to start with something “local” – there was a stand offering tiny burgers (just the right size to be able to fit more food in afterwards!) and proudly proclaiming that the beef was from happy, Swiss cows.

The choice was a good one – the burgers were delicious! Tasty beef and yummy melted Swiss cheese.
Next up was a Columbian/Venzeuelan speciality – Arepas, corn bread with various fillings! Jan chose a vegetarian one with black beans and cheese while I went for chicken, which also came with cheese. It tasted a bit like the enchilada fillings you get in Mexican restaurants, but less spicy. Very tasty though! We had to wait a while for our order to be finished, so while I queued and Jan fetched drinks, the camera came back out ;-)

As you might have noticed from the photos, it was a bit of a weird weather day. One minute it was bright sunshine, like in the photos above, the next it was cold and chucking it down, only to clear up again and become far too hot for rain coats 10 minutes later!

From one South-American cuisine to the next… we were getting quite full by this point, but we decided we still had time for a little Coxhina from a small Brazilian stand. This time, Jan chose chicken and I went for beef. Jan’s was delicious and mine had a nice flavour but unfortunately was still slightly cold inside. The filling was precooked though (they just reheated them at the stand), so I ate it anyway.

CoxinhaAt that point, Jan decided he would like a coffee and I remembered seeing a sign for Turkish coffee at the entrance to the festival, so we headed to the Turkish stand. I chose a homemade lemonade, as I’m not a fan of Turkish coffee. The stall owner tried really hard to get us to also take one of his pastries, so we chose a pistachio-filled one to share.

The lemonade was lovely and refreshing and the pastry was not too sweet.
Having done enough eating for the day, we decided to have a walk around the rest of Olten while we were there. The old ton area is pretty but fairly small. Outside the old town, the buildings aren’t quite as nice, but the entire town is surrounded by mountains and greenness – a description that could apply to anywhere in Switzerland really ;-)

Once we were back at the river, we were also almost back at the train station. With no room inside for more food, we decided to take the next train home. All in all, it was a lovely afternoon out and after reading so many other bloggers’ accounts of food festivals I was happy to finally get one of my own to try! There are more street food festivals planned by the same company for Lucerne (7-9 August 2015) and Berne (14-15 August 2015) and I’ve just read about another one in Solothurn (the city that gives the canton its name), which is taking place on 29 and 30 Augzst 2015, so hopefully I’ll make it to another one this summer!

Have you been to a street food festival? What would you have chosen to eat if you’d been in Olten with us? Let me know in the comments! And if you’ve got a travel tale for Monday Escapes, click the button below.

My Travel Monkey

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