Monday, 12 December 2011

102 Black Forest

Wednesday 7th Dec.
Well, the rain did not hold off. In fact it rained in Biblical proportions...all day. We drove around for a couple of hours and did a bit of shopping but the rain was so bad we dare not even take a camera out except for this a dusk.
This was near the top of a pass. Lower down it was raging.

We pulled the plug on the day and chilled out with a few beers in the hotel.

Thursday 8th Dec.
The rain has finally stopped and we have checked out of the hotel and set sail for Strasbourg. Now most people know that this is where bleeding heart liberals go to to air their complaints as a last resort to the European Court of Human Rights. For the most part, the wimps win, but I digress.
What a lot of people do not know is where it is.
I thought it was in Switzerland, Karen thought it was in Germany and a later conversation with Margo (Karens Mum) revealed that she thought it was in Austria.
Anyway, its in France on the border of Germanys Black forest.
We found our pre booked hotel and the jumped on a bus and a tram into town.
We were advised to go there by our previous hotelier. He gave us good advice. It was wonderful. Another city that time forgot and the cathederal was incredible - as they all are in this part of the world.
Strasbourg Cathederal

The old part of town

They take their Christams decorations serious. Makes Harlow look a bit naff.

More docorations.

Part of an open air museum behind the cathederal.

The detail on the outside of the cathederal was awesome.

The inside was pretty amazing too.

Tapestries adorned all the walls.

One of the nativity models.

Absent friends.

Incredible detail.

An anatomical clock inside the cathederal.

They call Christmas "De Noel" in France.

One of the market stalls

The cathederal in the sunset.

This was funny. We bought some stuff and did not want to carry it so we asked them to keep it for us. The market was so big that we needed a landmark to find our way back to the same stall. I said to Karen "We need a land mark", She said "That will do", pointing to the gingerbread man and took this photo:

I then said "What about that then", she turned around and was stood beside this: I laughed. She did'nt.

More docoration in another part of the market.

On the way back we went through this covered mall. These decorations, we later found out, are real crystal.

We had some bad news when we got back to the hotel and logged on to the computer. A Crown court Judge has ordered  that I attend court in London on either the 21st or the 9th Jan. I am not happy, I knew there was a trial going on that I had some input into, but the police officer in charge of it neglected to mention the fact that I needed to attend. I am not happy.

Friday 9th Dec.
Another day, another coutry. This time back into Germany. Baden-Baden this time. Unfortunately the rain was again biblical all day so no photos were taken at all and we ventured out only late in the evening to share the rain with some other German stalwarts in the nearby drenched Wheinachts Markt. After a few Gluweins it was off to bed.
The sum total of our photography today. A man playing the Pan Pipes on the stage.

Saturday 10th Dec.
We struck camp and drove the 250km to Luxembourg. This is another one of those small Principalties, although this one is quite big compared to Lichtenstein. There is one good thing though. No Tax. Diesel is about £1.05 per litre and there is no VAT...Nice. The usual visit to the Christmas Market was almost abandoned due to lack of somewhere to park. We sorted it in the end. Another lovely European town (country !).
Dunno what this is, first thing we saw.

Idiot looking for an elusive parking space.

We eventually found a parking space here. Nice.

The Chritmas Market or Wheinacht Markt or De Noel......who knows. This is Luxembourg.
 Sunday 11th Dec.
Heading North we drove through part of Belgium and then back into our favourite country....Germany again. This time the town of Aachen. I had been here as a kid on a school trip but as I was only about 13 I do not remember much about it. Once we had sorted the hotel out we chilled for a bit then drove out for a Vietnamese meal. It was actually a pleasant change from my usual staple diet of currywurst that I thrive on in this part of the word.

Monday 12th Dec.
The town of Aachen has probably one of the best cathederals we have been in. It is however hard to compare, they are all breathtaking buildings. I said to Karen, "I am sure glad we did not bomb this lot". The centre of town is a square which is currently the Christmas Market and on either side if the Cathederal and the Rathaus (Town Hall). The pictures speak for themselves.

Aachen Cathederal.

Inside view of the previous photo. The caskets are gold.

These photos insult the beauty of this building.

And this is the Town Hall opposite the cathederal. I still prefer Harlow Town Hall......not.

The cathederal in its entirity

This is a market bar. "HEXENHOF" means "Witches Court"

A nice little pub attached to the Cathederal. Now we know where the term "Church Key" (bottle opener) comes from.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

101 Treiburg and Tittesee

Tuesday 6th December.

It is a bit of a miserable day again today, but we are off to see some of the countryside and small towns that are in this area.  We came across this fabulous clock right beside a cuckoo clock shop and decided to go in and have a look.
I need a really big garden for this one!

It was just lovely, they sold all sorts of other souvenirs as well, but the clocks were my thing and the noise was great.

I am fascinated by cuckoo clocks and have already got one at home from our previous travels over here.  I had great difficulty justifying getting anymore, but I could have bought about 6,  one for every room of a house I don't have. 
We were on our way to Tittesee and our path took us up into the mountains and before long, the rain had turned to snow.  The main roads were cleared by snow ploughs as soon as it started and we had no trouble getting through.

This is a ski jump run, can you imagine standing up there waiting to jump.  The view is quite spectacular though.

Looking down from the top of the hill, there is no snow in the valley.

We stopped off in a lovely little town called Treiburg and I dragged Ray around a few more shops.  We decided that we would stop here on our way back so that we could see the place all lit up with it's christmas lights and have dinner.

Tittesee was not quite as I remembered it, we had seen it on our last travels and it was sunny and everyone was out in the street sitting in cafes.  Today, everyone was under cover and the snow was falling heavily.

Christmas card material or what?

Who needs snowmen?
A tad more shopping and then we found our lovely little bar that we had discovered on our last trip and warmed up with a gluwein.  We are both getting a bit partial to the stuff.

Ray's interest perked up when he saw this, it is about 4 foot high, that is one big mantle piece.

It was dark when we started heading back and apart from a couple of lorries who had got stuck going up hill, the traffic moved reasonably well, the snow was still falling quite heavily, but by the time we got back down into Treiburg, it was only a light flurry.  We parked up and the place is just beautiful with all the lights. I feel like a kid again at Christmas.

I would hate to be paying the electricity bill, but it is beautiful.
We saw a sign for the highest waterfall in Germany and off we hiked up hill to see it.  It was quite pretty and there was a lot of water coming down from it.

The highest waterfall in Germany.

We saw a lovely restaurant and when we were inside it was decorated fabulously, the waiters were all wearing Santa hats and there was a party going on in a back room, with the oldest guys I've seen in a long while, playing an accordian and guitars and groaning away to some local german folk songs.  They really enjoy themselves and know how to party without getting all stupid, well at least this is what we have seen.  Everyone has been really friendly and our broken german is getting slightly better. Our meal was quite nice and I rounded it off with a Schnaps, it was a cherry flavour, but it burned all the way down.

I think the waiter had been on the Schnaps!

Two of our dinner companions.

Just part of the decorations.

We headed back to the hotel and it was back to the rain, not a drop of snow had fallen here.
We are hoping the rain holds off so we can go for a walk through the forest tomorrow.

Monday, 5 December 2011

100 More Black Forest

Monday 5th Dec.
Overnight there was a massive storm (or so Karen tells me - I slept through it all - as usual) and in the morning it was still raining. 
We spent the morning sorting out the final drying of the hand washing we had done the night before as well as having a slow start to the day.
At around 12 we set off for Offenbach, a large town near the French border. On the way we passed Schloss Ortenberg, just outside Offenbach.
Scloss Ortenberg

In town there was the usual Wheinachtsfest going on but is was nothing too impressive (but at least it was not raining). I bought myself a new hat, that resembled a wild boar.
Karen says I am being pig headed. I of course could not possibly comment.
Witches - or Hexenfrauen - feature prominently around here. The one top right is on her broom stick.

At about 3pm we drove halfway back to the hotel and visited a village called Gengenbach, which is apparently famous for its Pre Christmas festivities.
What a fantastic place. The Rathaus (town hall) has 24 windows so they use the building as an advent callender and open one numbered window each day from 1-24 December each day at 6pm. We arrived at about 4pm and wandered around till the ceremony started at 5:30.
A close look and you will see 5 windows with pictues nd the 6th (4th from the left on 1st floor) is awaiting to be opened.

The town was beautiful. Like a scene from a fairy tale.
There were statues all over the place.

First there was a school band playing on thre stage with young children narrating to the audience what was to be played next etc. 

The childrens orchestra. You would never see this in the UK.
Then there was a play of some sort involving the children and although we did not fully understand it it appeared that there was some sort of scenario where the bad guy was going to blow up the Rathaus and the kids thwarted him. Somewhere along the line the gollywog was introduced. Anyway, on the end a ghost saved the day and opened the 6th window, behind which was another ghost in a prison cell !
The play including the gollywog.

The ghost that saved the day.

.....and the 6th advent window being opened,

Anyway a good time was had by all and copiuos amounts of Gluewein were drunk and the atmosphere was fantastic.
This gluewein is good.....the hats are better. Do you like Karen's reindeer earmuffs.
 Then is was off to bed for a early night reading and posting this blog.