Nuremberg – Our Last Stop

Our last stop and point of disembarkation for our Christmas Market River Cruise was Nuremberg, Germany.  We had a pretty full day here touring before heading home the next day, but I would have loved more time!

Nuremberg envoked a range of emotions for me.  Being a lifelong and enthusiastic student of history, this beautiful place is shadowed in the echos of Hitler and his reign of terror.  I often marvel at the some of the cool locations I have visited and wonder dreamily whose steps I am following.  But I STOOD where Hitler stood and it brought tears to my eyes.  Life’s contemplations resurfaced and one begins to ponder this world.  That’s pretty deep for a bus tour!

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We continued on to the location of the Nuremberg Trials, then into the Old City…which is stunning!!!  But there was that shadow….and it is hard to shake even now in reflection.

The Old City of Nuremberg, with its ancient castle on a hill, HUGE Christmas Market and warm and welcoming people, invited us in.  I am a sucker for a castle, so we gladly toured it and enjoyed the views.

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The inner courtyard of the castle.

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A beautiful view from the great hall.

Nuremberg definitely had the biggest Christmas Market – and I would say, the best prices as well!  We found a lot of our goodies there and enjoyed Nuremberg sausages and saurkraut, German ginger cookies, and my most favorite gluehwein was found at the Scotish cultural booth (amoung other nations represented in this small area of the Market) – it had whiskey in it and it was lovely!!!

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Nuremberg has something for everyone!  I can’t wait to go back and visit again!!!!

Bamburg, Germany

The vineyards continued as we sailed further into the Bavarian region of Germany.  Bamburg is another city with much of its historical architecture intack and as it was built on seven hills surround the Main, the views from the cathedral and fortress were breathtaking!

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This is the view from the hill that the cathedral sits on.  This has got to be one of the most stunning photos I have ever taken!!!!

Bamburg is known for its famous mills and wine and a unique beer – smoked beer or Rauchbier!  There is one particular pub in town that sells it and of course, we had to check it out!  We poured over two of the famous hills of Bamburg, wound our way thorught the ancient old city streets, sipped Rauchbier in the Christmas Market and felt like we belonged!

Here are my favorite pictures from this beautiful stop on the Main.

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A look into the village from one of the seven hills!

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A look upwards towards the bell tower of the fortress.

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Quaint neighborhoods are all around the old town.

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I’ve heard that allowing vines to grow on the outsides of buildings is not good for the building (you can see these are cleverly trellissed). I don’t think these guys know that – and I’m glad – because it is beautiful!

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My hubby trying out the smoked beer!

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An iconic Bamburg view of one of the most famous mills.

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I loves these details…this handsome little fellow holds back shutters.

Today’s My Birthday

Today is my birthday.  It’s hard to believe I am 45 years old – but it’s true.  It’s probably harder for my parents to believe!!!!

I have lead a blessed life so far and see many many more years ahead.  I am healthy.  My family is healthy.  And my memories are beautiful and precious!  To celebrate, I’m going to share my favorite pictures from the past few years – each one has a story and a special place in my heart.

I hope you are blessed with so many fabulous memories to look back on year after year!

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2015 – in front of Hampton Court

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Lighthouse Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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2015 – Big Ben

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San Gimignano in the mist…taken from my torre bedroom window

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My sister, Becky, and I!

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So much Caprese!

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A gorgeous setting for a wine tasting at Palagetto

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Touring the Colosseum

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It isn’t hard to eat like a local in Italy. Lemon risotto – the most amazing risotto ever!

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Culinary magic!

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In Florence at the most adorable cafe right near the Duomo!

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My hubby and I!

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Cheers – again!

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Fire and Ice…I love this picture!

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Lined up for the toboggan ride! Quebec City, Quebec.

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What a beauty!

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I didn’t know she stuck her tongue out until I looked at the pictures that night!!! Notre Dame in the background.

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Eiffel Tower!!!! 2019

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Sea Lion Encounter, St. Maarten 2019

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June 2018. Shortly after sunrise over Vatican City. I ache for another opportunity like this one….we were high tailing it to our private Vatican Tour so we could barely stop to smell the roses, but man, I wish I could’ve frozen time in this very spot. It was so peaceful and serene.

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Pucker up!!!

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February 2019 aboard the Symphony of the Seas. Sunset while docked off the coast of St. Marteen.

Argenton sunrise

March 2013. Argenton-sur-Creuse. This was sunrise out the window of our charming 16 century townhouse at the end of the bridge.

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I have a picture of my kids doing this SAME thing in London in 2013. It is fun to recreate special moments in different locations! EPCOT 2019

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Symphony After Dark! Stunning!

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Yes, these were BOTH for me!

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Brother had to get into the action!

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Photo from the top of one of the towers – San Gimignano, Italy

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Try to blend in. Zurich, Switzerland – these are our “Polish faces” – my sister in law is Polish, and she said Americans smile too big in pictures – so this is how we imagine the Poles smile!

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Prickly Pear blossom – so many foods are made from prickly pear – candies, licorice, jams and jellys, beer…you name it! But look at those thorns!!! Tuscon, AZ

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Sagrada Familia – needs no introduction!

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2015 – Barcelona cathedral rooftop. Spain

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Try a new form of transportation….Char and Sable on a Segway tour of the city – in Europe, kids can do many things they aren’t “allowed” to do in the US.

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Atop the battlements of Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle)

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2015 – Outside of Jeronimos Monastery

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Malaga – breathtaking!

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Scooting in Cinque Terre, Italy.

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On board the Anthem of the Seas, moored off the coast of Nice, France.

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Gibraltar – long lost cousins? Oh and behind Kelton in the distance? AFRICA!!!!!

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Cousin’s Trip – Animal Kingdom 2016

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Magic Kingdom 2017 – mom and dad’s second trip to Disney without kids!!!!

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Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Magic Kingdom 2018

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Windsor, Char and Sable – you all haven’t met Sable yet, but this kitty gets around. She even has her own book series in the works!

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Family photo taken by dad. Yes it was cold, rainy and windy – it was April in England!!!

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Kelton’s hair resembled Albert Einstein’s a bit too much!! Madame Tussauds.

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My beautiful rose petal and Hampton Court gardens.

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Mind the gap. We got an Oyster Card and used all manner of public transportation throughout London! I love this shot of Char and Sable!

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These adorable sheep were all over the city and the kids posed with them whenever possible! The sheep were dressed in outfits that represented the area where they stood.

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Monte Alban behind me!

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Seasoned crickets at the market – I tried one and it wasn’t too bad!

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Mount Washington, New Hampshire

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Ossippee Lake, New Hampshire

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Swift River, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, New Hampshire

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Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

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Ossippee Lake, New Hampshire

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The best welcoming committee EVER!!!

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Near sunrise, the island of Oahu, Hawai’i

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Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawai’i

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Sunset Perfection!!!

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Char playing her Ukulele at sunset…so perfectly cliche!!!

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An evening toast to the good life. We are standing on the Old Stone Bridge in Wurzburg, Germany, marveling at the fortification in the background and enjoying a common daily activity.

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Bamberg, Germany

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Our favorite mode of transportation!

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Outside the observatory. It was cold and windy!

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Best bite in the city!

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Gimmewald, Switzerland – 2019

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The happy tourists! Strasbourg, France

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American tourists – Amsterdam – 2020

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Flowers in January. And people say it’s too cold to travel to Europe in winter!

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My handsome date for the evening.

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A canal boat awaiting passengers.

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From the bottom – a look towards the fortress.

 

 

Wurzburg, Germany

Oh, Wurzburg – what a gorgeous city.  Our 4th stop on our Rhine and Main Christmas Market River Cruise was the city of Wurzburg.  This place had it all!  A palace (Wurzburg Residence), a fortress (Fortress Marienberg) and wineries as far as the eye can see – literally!  They also had a wonderful Christmas Market, but it was almost secondary to everything else there was to see!

Our first stop in Wurzburg was the Residence.  This palace of the prince-bishops of Bavaria was modeled after Versailles and you can see it immediately as you tour!  Photos were not permitted inside, but I got some gorgeous pictures through the rain of the small but amazing gardens.

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The Residence – looks like a compact version of Versailles.

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The gardens…

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I bet they are amazing during the spring and summer!

We headed back to the boat for lunch, then began walking – over to the “Old Stone Bridge” where every day, locals gather to enjoy the company of friends and a glass of the local wine.  We hiked up to the fortress – an imposing structure – that is surrounded by vinyards and walking paths.  The view of the town from the Fortress was amazing and it was worth the climb!

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The Fortress! And a fortress it was!

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Very Cinderella-esque!

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Well, my German is pretty rusty, but I think we get the point!!

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We took the meandering walk down into the village after visiting the fortress. The hillside (and hillsides as far as the eye can see) are sprawling vineyards!

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A look down towards the river – that is our river boat in the distance!

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Statue in the vineyard.

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From the bottom – a look towards the fortress.

We strolled back over the Old Stone Bridge, partook in the local tradition of a drink, then found our way to beautiful Christmas Markets throughout the old city.  All in all, it was a great day with fabulous sights and memories to last a lifetime!!!!

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I am standing on the Old Stone Bridge here – getting ready to enjoy my glass of wine!

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Europeans take their wine consumption seriously – there are STIFF fines if an establishment gives you a short pour! Same applies to beer!

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This photo really captures the day – two glasses of white wine, enjoyed amongst new friends, with a breathtaking fortress in the background! THIS is why I travel!!!!

Wertheim, Germany

Our third day on the river docked us at Wertheim, Germany.  What an AMAZING medieval village on a bend in the Main River.  The larger cities in Germany (and much of Europe) saw a great deal of damage and rebuilding during and after the World Wars.  Many of the villages and non-strategically located towns saw little to no damage and these towns are absolute gems.  Wertheim fits this bill in some part.

Wertheim is located at the confluence of the Tauber and Main Rivers.  It is in Bavaria, but folks here are “Franconians” – a cultural distinction they will happily tell you about!  What we loved about Wertheim was the quaintness of this village.  They did not have a Christmas Market, but the beauty of the town was enchanting and around every turn there was something magical.

Another fabulous feature of this gorgeous little town was the medieval fortification.  First records show a fortification in this down between the 7th and 8th centuries and the castle proper grew out of this in the 12th and 13th centuries.  We walked to and explored all throughout this amazing structure and stood in awe of the commanding view of the Main and the town itself.  It was exactly what I was looking for on this cruise – castles!!!!

Here are some photos from Wertheim.

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This is an example of the many half-timbered homes in Wertheim. These two are situated on the main village square.

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The entrance to Burg Wertheim. This structure is only partially intact but is undergoing renovation efforts and it pen to the public for self guided walking tours for 2 Euros each. There is also a small cafe at the castle and an events room. The structure is amazing and the views…..priceless!!!

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This the view of the Main River from the top of the tower of the castle.  Absolutely stunning!!!

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These half-timbered houses are just incredible!

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Looking down into the town from the road UP to the Burg Wertheim.

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The mighty Main from the Burg (castle)

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The castle was absolutley amazing!!! How it was dug out of the hillside just boggles my mind – but it sure makes for great pictures!!

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The ultimate medieval castle!

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A defensive position “behind” the castle headed uphill.

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Looking UP the tower!

Frankfurt, Germany

Europeans have a wonderful commitment to their heritage.  After so much of Germany was destroyed during WWII, many of the cities, towns and villages vowed to rebuild in the old style.  They used photographs, paintings and what may have been remaining of architectural drawings to recreate their ancient buildings and streets.  The effort to rebuild after such devastation would have been immense to begin with, but to reinvent medieval city centers that effectively embrace a thriving citizenry was herculean!

While in Frankfurt, we enjoyed a huge Christmas Market (with the lights on), Limed our way around (even getting stopped by the German police to make sure we weren’t drinking and scooting – we weren’t, by the way), visited the Frankfurt Zoo and got a real taste of the popularity of the German Christmas Markets!

Here are my favorite pictures!

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Our first booth – classic!

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The main “old” center square – beautifully decorated.

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Christmas trees, anyone?

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A gorgeous two story carousel!

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The top of the main square.

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Sycamore trees line the walk along the Rhine.

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The Frankfurt Zoo was a lovely treat. It was quiet, well established and a fabulous example of an inner city zoo experience.

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Yes, it is a cone of French fries with sauce on top…so American! hahahaha

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The darker it got, the more magical it became.

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I love the classic quality of the Christmas tree.

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Eat, drink (but don’t drive) and be merry!

Amazing Alps

When we travel, we love day tripping!!!  We have day tripped our way around the French countryside, southern and northern Italy, Scotland, England and now, the Alps!

Day tripping allows for a GLIMPSE of a place.  It is hard to “dive in” when you only have a short amount of time, but when we travel abroad especially, we want to see as much as we can, so the old American pastime is right up our alley!

This trip to Germany, Switzerland and France for our Christmas Market river cruise really lent itself well to a day trip.  While staying in Basel pre-cruise, we took a day and headed to the Alps.  We picked up our rental in Basel early morning, drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Interlaken, and decided to go a bit further, up to Grindewald (elevation 3,392 feet).  There, we parked and bought the world’s most expensive train tickets (about $200 US per person – YIKES) for a 45 minute cog train ride up, up, up to our first train station, Kleine Scheidegg (elevation 6762 feet).

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Grindelwald, Switzerland

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Grindewald from the window of the train.

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The cogs! The lifeline!

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This teepee is at the Kleine Scheidegg station. I do not know why!

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Time to change trains!  And yes, it was snowing.

Here, we checked out the place, and boarded the Jungfrau train – another cog that brought us THROUGH the mountains to the highest train station in Europe (which happened to be IN the mountain) – Junfraujoch, elevation 11,333 feet!!

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One of the small settlements on the way up to Jungfrau (young girl). Do you see the glaciers in the background? Amazing!!!

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The train station in the mountain.

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Outside the observatory. It was cold and windy!

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In the ice castle IN the mountain!!!

We explored but it was snowed in – but we wouldn’t have changed that experience for anything!  It was so cool!!!!!

After we got back down from Kleine Scheidegg, we drove to Lauterbrunnen, explored briefly at dusk, went to a pizza place (yeah, seriously) and then drove back to Basel.  This was a fabulous day trip and we took SO many gorgeous pictures.

Here are the rest of our favorites!!!!

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Looking back as we journey towards Klein Scheidegg.

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Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. We had spent much of the day in Grindelwald and climbing Jungfrau (by cog railway), then decided to take another small mountain pass at dusk and were treated to this delight!

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This gorgeous waterfall is the first thing you see when you enter this valley. Absolutely stunning!

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If a cemetery can be pretty, this one fits the bill.

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Well, you have to have beer with pizza!

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Any European road trip must include a stop at the Autogrill. The rest stations in Germany (just like Italy) did NOT disappoint – adorable trinkets, great food options, but expensive water – you should buy it in town at the local corner store – not here – oh, and if you need to use a bathroom – bring along a Euro!

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My German isn’t that great, but the word for “exit” is kinda funny! And I feel like a 10 year old when I say it:)

Basel, Switzerland

As with many flights to Europe from the east cost of the US, ours was an overnight affair.  We departed Boston Friday evening, arrived in Munich, Germany mid morning Saturday, then flew to Basel, Switzerland – arriving early afternoon.  We flew Lufthansa as it was the best price (paid to pick our seats and for stowed luggage) and while we were a bit cramped, we had a fine flight.  Great in-flight entertainment and the service was just fine.

We arrived easily in Basel, picked up our luggage, and sought to navigate the public transportation to our hotel in the Old Town area.  This was free (it seems that all hotels in Basel offer guests a “Basel Card” that gives them free access to public transportation – buses, trams and the like) and we are pretty adventurous, so we took on the challenge.

Public transportation is big in Europe – especially the cities where parking is at a premium – it is not unlike the US, but Europeans embrace this opportunity to take the bus, ride a bike or scooter, or walk.  Finding our bus stop at the airport was easy, thanks to the clear and helpful directions from our hotel, and while we had to figure out the switching of bus lines once, it was easy and the bus literally dropped us off outside our hotel!

Our hotel was Hotel D and the location was fabulous!  I paid $149.00 per night, which for Switzerland is a deal!  Our room was small (typical for Europe) but very comfortable and quiet.  The bathroom was great as well and we were very happy.  Our hotel stay did NOT include breakfast, so we winged it each day and were very happy with that. Breakfast at Hotel D was continental style and cost 26SF (Swiss Francs) per person – um, no thanks!  Have I told you yet that Switzerland is expensive!!!

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Outside our hotel window….

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Where do you keep your liquor cold?

Our first night we roamed, explored the walk along the Rhine, got my hubby set up with LIME (the best thing EVER), scooted and walked around a small portion of the Old City and enjoyed a most fabulous al fresco dinner (Europeans eat outside all year long….with those big propane heaters and a blanket – it was awesome!).

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Warm goat cheese salad! Heaven!

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White wine, beer and pumpkin soup!

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LIMES!  You download the app, scan your ride and off you go!  We LOVE these!!!  In Switzerland it was 1 SF to unlock it then .35cents per minute.

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People….the sweets were AMAZING!

The next day, we got up and rented a car (about $100USD for the day) and drove to the Alps (about 1.45 hours away) and spent the day fulfilling a dream!!!  That post will be coming up soon – it deserves its own!

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The Rhine River at around 7:15am.  Stunning!

We wrapped up Basel with a lot more walking around, getting breakfast and lunch from one of the many local corner stores (I HIGHLY recommend this because restaurants are SUPER expensive in Switzerland) and having a picnic lunch by the river.  It was everything I wanted it to be!!!!

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Look at the detail on the soffit of this roof!! Amazing!

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Many European cities have free flowing fountains perfect for drinking! They are functional AND beautiful!

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Gorgeous post structured home.

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The “munster” in Basel.

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Another gorgeous fountain.

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(Free) public bathrooms! Gotta love the Swiss – they aren’t uptight about life!

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Look closely at the AGE of these homes.

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The detailing of this home is amazing.

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Our stash from the corner store – about 20 Swiss Francs total!

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Best bite in the city!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Market Joy

You know, sometimes you have an opportunity to take a trip that resets your soul.  Just over Thanksgiving, I had that opportunity!

If you follow my business Facebook page, Live It Well Travel, you will have seen some of the highlights of the fabulous Christmas Market river cruise my husband and I took over Thanksgiving.  It was everything I believed it would be and more!

Let me give you and overview of our trip here and post some of my favorite pictures, then I will dive deeper into my river cruising experience, each of our destinations and then some fun facts and finds from our trip!  It promises to be a cool series to wrap up this years’ blogging adventures!

We departed the Friday before Thanksgiving and arrived in Basel, Switzerland the following day.  We got settled in our hotel, and attempted to stave off the effects of jet-lag by taking a wonderful walk around the old city of Basel.  We enjoyed a wondrous walk, an alfresco meal and a great first night’s sleep!

The next morning (Sunday) we awoke and walked to a nearby hotel where we picked up a car we had rented for the day.  We drove to the Alps and took the cog train to the highest train station in Europe!

Monday we walked around Basel some more (and Limed, too), checked out, then boarded our river cruise, the Monarch Countess.  This was our first river cruising experience and to say we loved it is an understatement!

Over the next 6 days, we visited Strasbourg, France, Frankfurt, Wertheim, Wurzburg, Bamberg and Nuremberg, Germany.  We visited Christmas Markets and wandered ancient streets.  We sipped wine on the Main River and traversed 52 locks between Basel and Nuremberg.  We met people from all over the US and made friends with so many more.  We learned some German, practiced our French and broadened our perspective.

It was splendid!  Here are few of my highlight photos!  Be on the lookout for posts to follow!

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Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. We had spent much of the day in Grindelwald and climbing Jungfrau (by cog railway), then decided to take another small mountain pass at dusk and were treated to this delight!

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Strasbourg, France. Some of my new friends – I made a LOT of feathered friends on this trip!!!

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Our home for the week docked in Frankfurt. This is the beautiful Monarch Countess.

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Christmas Market at Frankfurt, Germany.

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An evening toast to the good life. We are standing on the Old Stone Bridge in Wurzburg, Germany, marveling at the fortification in the background and enjoying a common daily activity.

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Early morning sun on the Main River between Wurzburg and Bamberg.

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Bamberg, Germany. Photo taken of one of the seven hills that make up the city. The colors are breathtaking!

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Bamberg, Germany

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Main Christmas Market, Nuremberg, Germany.

 

My Yearly Travels as seen through my Ornaments

I used to find it really hard to choose a special keepsake from each of our trips.  I loved so many cool “things”, but it just isn’t reasonable to get them all!  So a while back, I decided to get an ornament from each of our trips.

Every year, when we put up our tree, it is a wonderful opportunity to remember our travels and stories as a family.  It is something I treasure and our tree is really full of US.

Here are the ornaments I got this year.

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Paris. January 2019

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Disneyland Paris. January 2019

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Symphony of the Seas. February 2019

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February 2019

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Disney World. February 2019

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Tuscon Arizona. April 2019

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Tombstone, Arizona. April 2019

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Bearizona. April 2019

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Las Vegas, Nevada. April 2019

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O’hau, Hawai’i. October 2019.

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Strasbourg, France. November 2019

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Switzerland 2019