Lovely Strasbourg and more

Heading for Strasbourg, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to make a quick detour into Germany and visit the springs of the Danube river near Martinskapelle of Furtwangen, in the Donaueschingen region.

The Danube is such an important part of Europe and we had crossed it so many times in our travels that we decided it would be a missed opportunity to not visit its place of origin.

The place turned out to be a rather small fountain basin in this typical small German town; nothing to write home about really.

I think my somewhat disappointment with the size of the place was reflected in the number of photos I took 🙂

 

Before we headed into France though, we noticed this really cozy farmers’ market really close to the border and we decided to check it out. The place was next to the road and the landscape around it was really beautiful – with a bit of forest on one side and fields of flowers on the other, as well as a small village within a short distance.

Inside they were mostly selling fresh produce and local delicacies from the surrounding villages, but you could also have a taste of the local cuisine at the country style cantina in the back. The atmosphere was just too much for us to resist, so we decided to stay for a snack. The food was delicious and we took our time, but we were really close to leave hungry since we noticed only late that they did not take any cards (something that still baffles me about many small places in Germany). Luckily for us, after a few desperate minutes of checking all our pockets and wallets for change, we found enough euros to be able to enjoy the delicious food they had on the menu.

That was a close one and it reminded us that we always need to keep some cash handy while in Germany.

I realize now that I was too hungry to take photos of the deli area and the entrees, but I did manage to find some photos with the delicious cheese cake we had for desert and some of the beautiful flower patches surrounding the market.

We then headed to Strasbourg.

If I were to describe the town in a few words I’d say that it encapsulates the best from the Germans and the best from the French. It has the beautifully cozy architectural touches of the German medieval towns blending seamlessly with the elegance of French architecture to create a mix that keeps you wanting to see more of its charming puzzle.

We were really caught by surprise by the town’s charm and how little we knew about it, but managed to more than make up for it with long walks in the historical parts of the town, as well as taking a boat tour on the river Ill and by getting a glimpse of the Alsatian traditions and way of life with a visit to the beautiful Alsatian Museum.

Oh, and this being France, we got numerous chances to enjoy their much hyped and incredibly delicious eclairs. 🙂

It’s definitely a place worth revisiting.

We could not leave France without visiting one of its famous castles, so on the way to Köln/ Cologne we decided to visit the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, which is located a bit South of Strasbourg.

It is an impressive site both due to its high location – with impressive views of the surrounding valleys (we also had to climb quite a bit to get to it due to parking issues), as well as to its troubled and disputed history (it changed ownership between the Germans and the French several times during its history and it owes its current looks to being completely restored at the beginning of the 20th century by German architects).

It’s definitely a must-see!

August 19, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Switzerland impressions

The next part of our road trip took us over the Alps into Switzerland. This time around the weather was amazing and we were actually quite looking forward to a cooler temperature after the heat wave that nearly spoiled the Italian leg of our trip.

The landscape on both sides of the Alps was superb, but Switzerland continued to impress us even after we got well into the country.

Here are some pictures from our trip over the Alps and driving towards Luzern, our destination in Switzerland.

Luzern was quite far North from the border, which made for quite a long drive. So, in order to spice it up a bit we decided to make a short detour in Montreux and visit the Chillon Castle.

Montreux had a snobish feel about it – for my taste, but Chillon Castle was set on the shore of a beautiful and crystal clear lake which some of the locals didn’t mind taking a dip in while enjoying the warm and sunny day.

Here are some photos from Montreux & Chillon Castle.

We then headed to Luzern, our final destination in Switzerland. And even though it was a bit of a gamble to stop just there, it seems like a really good choice in hindsight.

The town itself is beautiful and it has a really friendly and ‘close to nature’ vibe about it; actually the whole country has this vibe about it.

There are plenty of things to do and see in Luzern, but here’s one place that anyone with kids or who is passionate about machinery of any sort will appreciate – The transportation museum.

We stayed in a cozy little vilage Weggis, on the other side of the lake from Luzern, with stunning views of the lake and I will definitely like for us to return there someday. Though unexpected, it was definitely one of the high points of our trip.

Here are some more photos, from Luzern and Weggis.

 

 

August 18, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Short stop – Genoa

After the days in Florence it was time to head back home and we decided to stop for the night in Turin. I had read that Turin is quite an interesting town, with beautiful historic sites and it also fit quite nice as a ‘pit stop’ on our way to Switzerland.

But things didn’t quite go as planned after I realized that Genoa was also on the way and I read a bit about its famous aquarium. So we decided to spend a few hours in Genoa instead and only spend the night in Turin instead. I can’t quite say if it was a good decision overall, but we ended up enjoying the visit to the Genoa aquarium and also got to spend some time enjoying lunch and a gelato in the surrounding area which for some reason reminded us a lot of California.

I’m glad we stopped in Genoa though and didn’t let the bad reputation it has online (i.e. pickpockets and shady atmosphere in the harbor) scare us away. It was a nice lunch trip.

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August 17, 2012Permalink 1 Comment