Thanksgiving 2014: Baden Baden, Germany; Mulhouse, France; Zermatt, Switzerland
We love hosting our friends and showing them some of the wonderful sights in Europe. On this trip we were lucky to have our good friends Andres and Tessa join us for Thanksgiving. After a couple of days in Wiesbaden, we began our trek to Zermatt. Beginning in Baden Baden, we visited their Christmas market and stocked up on some goodies. From there we made it to the Mulhouse Christmas market and rested our wearied feet. The next morning we continued on to the most beautiful place to spend any holiday... Zermatt! After a couple of great days skiing, we continued on to the Strasbourg Christmas market (one of the biggest and best I've seen yet) before having a delicious dinner at our favorite restaurant in the world La Corde a Linge (for more on Strasbourg see my blog post from October). Thanks to our friends from TX for sharing a wonderful holiday with us in Europe!
We explored Luxembourg on an organized USO trip. It makes a great day trip and there's a lot to see in the area.
The highlight of this trip for both Luke and I was the tour we recieved at the WWII Cemetary. I highly recommend visiting here and asking a docent for the history, especially as it relates to the area. I'm not a WWII connoisseur by any means but it was facsinating! A definate must for anyone visiting Luxembourg! We also visited a German WWII Cemetary reminds us of the casualties that occured on both sides.
The Fortress of Luxembourg is also a must see. Even though it was mostly demolished (upwards of 90%) in the mid 1800s due to years of Europe-wide altercations to obtain dominion over this stronghold, it is still something to see. We didn't get a chance to take any of the tunnel tours (they're seasonal) but I hope to return and do so.
Luxembourg is not an inexpensive city, so bring lots of cash. We ordered a half dozen oysters on the half shell and forked over more than $20. They were delicious but a definate splurge. For a more economical meal, try Urban Bar in the pedestrian zone. The sandwiches are yummy and start around 11 euro - they also have some great local beers. So sit back, relax and enjoy your trip to Luxembourg!
The beautiful and extremely interesting Strasbourg, France! Made even more fun by our special guests, Marty and Charlene Abeln (Luke's uncle and aunt) and a guest appearance by Pat Abeln (Luke's dad).
Located in the Alsace region of France, Strasbourg is the capital of this region and also the official seat of the European Parliment. It is also located in a geographically significant area between the Rhine River and the Black Forest of Germany. This territory has gone back and forth between French and German rule (as well as once being held by the Romans, Alemanni, Huns and Franks). Hence a duality in the city seen in its architecture, cuisine and bilingual residents. But, enough history!
The food is delicious, the people friendly and the sightseeing amazing! I suggest at least 2-3 days to explore the city (especially if you want to see the multiple parks - we didn't have time but I want to go back when the flowers are blooming.) And make sure you eat at La Corde a Linge (The Clothesline) for lunch or dinner - our group of five each ordered something different and everyone loved it!
Our German Flat
So the long awaited "house photos" are finally being posted (after a year of living here!) Sorry Denisse, I know you've been waiting!! If you don't know already, we moved to the beautiful city of Wiesbaden, Germany and lucked out with our flat. It is in a residential neighborhood with a few businessed tucked into it. It's very quiet but only minutes walking distance from the main train station and downtown.
Our flat is on the third floor of a home that was built in 1900 and as you can see we have some really cool architectural features such as the huge wooden beams, slanted ceilings, and two-foot thick doors. Living in the tree canopy we also get tons of natural light and a great view of the wild ring-necked parrots in the trees.
We stored a lot of things before moving here which has left us plenty of room to acquire unique pieces at flea markets which are starting to take over our house (in a good way, I hope.) From the vintage milk cans in the hall, to the unique table and chairs in the dining room to the rocking horse named "Donkey" in our living room, it's always changing (as you can see in some of the details of the photos that were taken at various stages of "done-ness.")
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these photos and maybe we'll see you here soon!
I may write more about Venice later, but for now here are some photos (and captions.)
Brussels & Bruges, Belgium
Belgium is one of the most friendly countries I have ever had the pleasure to travel to and tops my list of favorite places!
Most residents are multilingual so finding someone who speaks English is easy. And with over 180 breweries in this little slice of heaven, it's easy to get caught up in a conversation in one of its many pubs. Be certain that any beer you order will be served in its own unique glass. I've even heard of people changing their beer order if the correct glass isn't available. Now that's what I call a beer lover!
My mother-in-law was also on this trip and we bought tickets for Brussel's hop-on, hop-off bus tour. I highly recommend doing this on your first day in the city as it gives you a great overview of what the city has to offer. There is a also a daily flea market along one of the routes, so you may want to start this tour early in the morning so you can hop off at that stop (unfortunately we didn't have time to get off and check it out - I will definately hit it next time!!)
From there, Bruges is just an hour by car and is considered the Venice of Belgium. There is also a movie titled "In Bruges" which will make you want to see this city for yourself. Take a boat tour on the canal, stop and have some great seafood and explore this walkable city. This is also home to Michelangelo's Madonna with child which is worth visiting. It isn't a huge city so a day or two is all you'll need to see the sights.
It's true that there is nothing better than Paris in the springtime! Especially when it doesn't rain! Meeting up with my sister, brother-in-law and their friends was an added bonus to this wonderful holiday! We spent 5 days in this beautiful city and cannot wait to go back (I crave the quiche from the little red cafe just down the street from our hotel!) By metro, cruise and sneaker, you can't go wrong in Paris. And as my sister was oft to remind us... don't forget your manners a la Frances, of course! So merci beaucoup for reading my travel blogs and may the travel force be with you!
While the men are away the ladies will play! They guys were off doing the usual Army thing so Reisa (the best travel buddy ever!) and I decided it was time for an adventure. Why we ever thought a 1-day (literally almost 24 hour trip) was a good idea is beyond us! So we boarded the MWR bus at about 9pm and arrived bright and early to Milan. After a great walking tour guided by a local Milano, we were able to explore the 2015 World's Fair city. What a great place! Great sights, food, and of course... wine! My advice for Milan, stay overnight. There is WAY too much to see in a day!
Winter in Rothenberg
We LOVE Rothenberg! It is a safe, quiet, traveler-friendly town with some great scenery. I think this was our 2nd trip there. A definate must see if you're in the area!
We were lucky enough to ski over the Thanksgiving holiday in Zermatt, Switzerland, home of the Matterhorn. It was a great trip and I highly recommend it. We went as part of a bus tour so all our arrangements were made for us which was very convenient as this was our first European ski experience.
There are no cars in Zermatt and you have to take a train to get into town. You can find small electric taxis and delivery vehicles, similar to long enclosed golf carts, and the occasional bus, but that is the extent of traffic in this picturesque village.
We had two days of really great weather and the third stayed cold and windy but eventually turned sunny in the afternoon. The biggest difference between US skiing and here is the lack of trail markers. Bright orange poles mark the edge of a run but you can really ski anywhere that isn't roped off. They don't name their runs or mark the beginning so it's easy to get off track if you're not paying attention. Trail maps are not as detailed as the ones you find in the US.
For those who don't ski, there is plenty of shopping, hiking, snow shoeing, food, music and sightseeing to keep you busy.
But no matter how you spend your days and nights, Zermatt is a trip worth taking!
Hotel Review: We stayed at the Hotel Atlanta, which has a great central location, although not many amenities. The hotel is what we consider a "ski hotel," which means a place to shower and sleep but not much else. The breakfast was pretty sparse, the wi-fi was not working, and there is no hot tub or sauna. On the bright side it has a million dollar view of the Matterhorn, it is clean, and the location is perfect.