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Posts from the ‘Europe’ Category

National Take A Hike Day 2017 A Hike Below Sea Level

Bonus.  With this hike, you don’t even have to be in fantastic shape. With the exception of a few bridges over the dikes, its pretty darn flat. The paths are great and hey, this walk is under sea level, so altitude sickness. won't be a problem. 

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Prague-6 Reasons I loved Czeching Out Prague with 14 MEGatips for Surving and Thriving.

Far Away Friday

Prague was a MEGastop that will leave a lasting impression. I don’t know if any of you do this; before I went to Prague I looked up the population. Why?  because when I find out a city has a population of about 1.3 million people, it takes away my need to take in everything.  Certainly it is a city that you could live in and see, experience and learn something special every single day.

This post is about my experience in a relatively short visit to Prague including a few tips for those of you who might be considering a trip to Prague.  There are plenty of guidebooks and websites on the internet. Tourism.  Prague City Tourism has a wonderful site that will help you plan every aspect of your visit, I highly suggest using this site. I have provided a link in MEGatip #14.  I want to inspire you to visit. Simply put, you must go there. Even in my short visit I was able to take in the city. and see many sights. I went to all of the “must see sights;” Prague Castle, a Czech pub,  the Jewish Quarter and peeked at the cemetery, toured St Vitus Cathedral, arts, architecture and on and on. Go to as many of these sites that interest you.  Take a million photos. I did. Check out my tips, there are important things such as how to survive the toilets and get the best out of your visit. Besides, who else loves toilet talk?

If you were to ask the average person this question; which city in Europe is the greatest European city to visit? You are likely to hear the answers; Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam and Milan. A few other cities may be thrown out but for the average person, likely not Prague.   But since that Velvet Revolution in 1989 Prague rapidly has become one of the great cities of Europe to visit, and for good reason. Why go? So what’s the deal?

for myself, having lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for about 5 years, I learned a little bit about Czech-Slovak history and culture. Huh? Yes, beginning in 1852 Czech-Slovak folks arrived in Cedar Rapids to work. The neighborhood where they settled was named “Little Bohemia” and is currently called Czech Village. I have attended many Czech cultural heritage parades, festivals and parties while living in that city.

Czech Village aka Little Bohemia Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Czech Village aka Little Bohemia Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Prior to the flood of 2008 where 1300 city blocks or about 10 square miles devastated this area, there were shops, restaurants, meat shops, and bakeries all specializing in everything Czech. My Christmas tree topper is fromCzechoslovakia and purchased in The Czech Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Go figure.

Cedar River, Cedar Rapids Iowa from the bridge in Czech Village-

Cedar River, Cedar Rapids Iowa from the bridge in Czech Village-

In contrast, here are a few ‘Lions of Prague”

Today more people of Czech ancestry live in Cedar Rapids than in any other city in the world, except for the Czech capital of Prague.

Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My friends were fiercely proud of their heritage and I learned Czech slang. Prague went on my radar.

So why else did I visit? The allure of a former Communist city, well cared for but hidden for years, called my name. It has it’s own personality. A place where I could see amazing architecture, two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage sites, a castle and bridge, and some funk. I was all in.

Here are some things that I absolutely loved about visiting Prague and why you should consider a visit. Note, I literally took hundreds of photos.  This is a very photogenic city with so many topics to shoot.  As always, I wish I had real camera skills to share with you. I did post more on my Instagram.

  1. Views-This city has it going on and if that were all that I saw on my visit, it would have been enough. Wherever you are standing in Prague, there seems to be a view. From the smallest detail on a building to the most picturesque city settings that you will see, ever. I could not stop staring at her. Constantly, I felt as if I did not know which way to turn my head and fix my gaze. From architecture to natural settings, Prague is bewitching.
    Views of the city

    Views of the city. A U.N.E.S.C.O heritage site. I chose this photo because you are able to notice old with the new.

    These views reminded me of my visit to the Vatican, I was up high in the museum and caught a glimpse of the city. I remember thinking, WOW, just WOW. Prague views gave me “that moment.” If I had to describe one take-away, I would say that the views were much larger in area than I ever could have imagined.   One of the things that make the views spectacular is the division of area by the beautiful Vltava River, on one side of the river; the city rises upwards on a hill. This combination of heights is like a rule in decorating; for great aesthetics, layer the look. It is as if the views are paintings, and you are standing in it. The colors of the rooflines, the contrast of eras, a castle with a cathedral high on the hill, a glistening river with works of stone and spectacular monuments. And in this painting, there are the spires that punctuate the skyline.   Known as “the city of one-hundred spires” (some say 1000) the spires draw your eye in every direction. I certainly understand how this city has and continues to inspire artists, lovers, dreamers, musicians and architects. By far, the views will forever remain with me. I must have taken hundreds of photos. If I lived there, these sights would never grow old. I have seen photos of winter scenes and it is equally, if not more spectacular.

    Layers upon layers of views.

    Layers upon layers of views.

    The colors of the rooflines, the contrast of eras, a castle with a cathedral high on the hill, a glistening river with works of stone and spectacular monuments. And in this painting, there are the spires that punctuate the skyline.

    Known as “the city of one-hundred spires” (some say 1000) the spires draw your eye in every direction. I certainly understand how this city has and continues to inspire artists, lovers, dreamers, musicians and architects. By far, the views will forever remain with me. I must have taken hundreds of photos. If I lived there, these sights would never grow old. I have seen photos of winter scenes and it is equally, if not more spectacular. But then again, I can have fun in winter.

  2. UNESCO World Heritage Sites– I “collect” these sites on my travels. It keeps me from guessing and flailing around after an expensive plane ticket. Travel is a luxury for me and I never know if I will get back to these places. There is nothing worse than getting home and saying “shoot, I missed that huge point to the culture.” By collect, I mean that I would love to see as many of the world’s best and magnificent sights that humanity and earth has given us. This fine city holds two of these jewels with the first being, The Historic Center of Prague. I would describe it as a fantastic living, breathing museum.  From the photos of the views above, Imagine how vast this area is.  I chose a few of my favorites.

    The town was built between the 11th and 18th centuries, with many of the monuments having been built in the 14th century under Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. The historic center is a walk across the ages, a bridging of old to new, a cultural, political and religious history that speaks loudly from the buildings and is the heartbeat of this city. I hope that this spot is forever protected in peace. The second site is Pruhonica Park. Is a historic spot just SW of the city center. A beautiful, serene, natural park area that cradles unique botanical holdings.

  3. Arcitecture– I could gush about this subject. “A 3-D architectural” digest of architecture” from every era; neo-classic, gothic, modern, Renaissance. I love that description. In fact, I wish I had thought this up. I did not and want to give credit for these three words to Prague City Tourism at http://www.prague.eu/en/read-more/the-top-10-reasons-to-visit-prague-10591 Again, what struck me was the sheer number of beautifully maintained structures.   A true walk through the history of humanity, culture, religion and the arts. Representing the eras of: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Empire, Art Nouveau, Cubanism, Communist era and modern, to name a few.   The details on the buildings are superb. From the gargoyles to touches of gold, your eyes are constantly on the move. What a unique gathering of magnificent buildings. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/video
    I overheard a tour group while walking by this building. One example of Cubist Architecture.

    I overheard a tour group while walking by this building. One example of Cubist Architecture.

  4. The streets and sidewalks.  Yes, I am a simple girl. There were patterned stones everywhere. Once this fact was pointed out to me, I couldn’t stop noticing the artistic work. I had to wonder how difficult this must be to maintain in a post communist era. It has to cost a lot of Kronos to repair. I wondered;where do they get replacement stones? Is there a warehouse somewhere? Who has the skill to do this? Also, I live in Alabama now but the rest of my life has been spent in frozen places. I had to wonder, how do they shovel the streets and sidewalks without damaging them? So do NOT forget to look down.

    Extra MEGatip:  DO NOT forget to look up everywhere that you go!

  5. Food. Always one of my favorite parts of travel.  Having eaten traditional Czech food many times, especially kolaches, I was quite interested in what Czech people are eating If you never have had traditional Czech food, you will find it easily. Try the pubs. The farmer’s markets and street foods were my favorite. From the street vendor to the Michelin star establishments, Prague has food for every taste.   *See MEGatip #2 below
    A vast variety of foods.

    A vast variety of foods.

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In the city center, people were selling these potato chip on a stick.  I did not get one because well, I had just been to Oktoberfest and needed to walk that one off.  But lately, I am all about the street food, farmers markets and finding the current pulse and healthy foods.  Here are a few examples of things that I saw.

Interesting and colorful foods. And without the high price.

Interesting and colorful foods. And without the high price.

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6. Free things to do.  I especially love visiting somewhere where I don’t have to pay for every little thing. It is quite easy to do most of your sightseeing for free. Put on your shoes and walk, walk, walk. There is Urban hiking at it’s best. There are also a few spots where you can get away from the crowds, smack in the middle of the city. Isn’t there something quite refreshing about freedom? Take in the Parks and gardens.

Urban hikes in the fall and these views were FREE

Urban hikes in the fall and these views were FREE

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It is difficult to summarize such a treasure trove in a small blog posting. For me, I loved how this city was a sophisticated dame who still smokes cigarettes.

Refined when she wants to be and a fantastic beer and a smoke when she see fit.   For more photos Czech our kikingthebucketlistwithmeg on Instagram. Some interesting things that I learned and may be helpful to you.

MEGatips:

  1. Toilets- Europeans must not drink water EVER. I like water, tea and coffee. It is/was so difficult for me to find a bathroom. So make sure that you think ahead about this fact.  if you are on diuretics (I am not but am a former R.N.) GOOD LUCK! There are maps that show where public toilets are available. And here is the scoop. I swear, these are not my words. This is from Prague.net “The cleanliness of public toilets in Prague is generally of an acceptable level. Metro stations might have the lowest level of hygiene but not all of them. Toilets in shopping centres are quite clean and it is quite normal for people to use toilets in places such as Marks and Spencer,  McDonalds and Tesco which are certainly maintained and usable. It is quite difficult now to find free toilets in Prague and the normal charge is usually 5kc or 10kc. Some require you to pay directly to the cleaner on duty (more common in metro stations) and some have a coin-operated lock.
    Locked up like Fort Knox

    Locked up like Fort Knox

    Yep that was my life.

    Yep that was my life.

Sometimes if you are required to pay the cleaner you will find that, either they will give you some toilet paper, or there will be one roll outside the door for all the toilets, or there may not be any paper at all so it is always better to have some paper handkerchiefs ready. The women´s toilet is marked ženy or dámy, while the men´s is marked muži or páni. Toilets are usually marked WC or toalety.”

  1. Restaurants From the Michelin star to the pub. It seemed as though most restaurants were café style, packed and always asking if we had reservations. I also noticed that while I was in my “touring” or street clothes some of the restaurants had patrons dressed to kill.   You know how you feel when the host looks you up and down and says no we can’t seat you? Or, oh we have a table for you here, how is this one near the outhouse? This does not mean that you must wear heels and fake lashes while you tour. My advice is to research your restaurants if you are a foodie or if you want to be sure to try certain places. If you are staying at a hotel, touch base with them on what type of eating you want to do, and which of these restaurants may require a reservation. We tipped our hotel desk staff. They were extremely helpful. To note, when you are out of the tourist area, and in a restaurant that wasn’t extremely busy, I noticed that people seated themselves.

    Cafe's are everywhere

    Cafe’s are everywhere

  2. Touristy as hell. There is a Hard Rock Café. In Prague The end. So whether you are the cool type who hears Bourdain whispering in your ear saying “I’d rather have hemorrhoids and sit naked on sandpaper, than walk with the dudes in fanny packs.” (I made that up) Or you hear Rick Steve’s who is dancing like a leprechaun and cheerfully saying “come on folks join me for this once in a lifetime experience.” It is busy. Meg says Put on your big girl boots and suck it up buttercup, go there anyway. This city is well worth the crowds.IMG_4181 IMG_4238
  3. Safety– Use your common sense just like any other big city. It is the highest pick-pocketed capital in Europe. If you are a child. Read about how to travel safely. If not, use your head. Also, don’t walk Wencelaus Square at night unless you need a flyer to one of the many strip clubs. It is like the Las Vegas strip that way. Sometimes, even during the day, they worked the theater and music show angle. Same deal. I noticed that the men (I only noticed men) would get a bit aggressive when handing out the pamphlets and yell at you as you walk away. Leaving you wonder just what iinteresting words are they speaking. #@*^&!
  4. Scams. It is well noted that there are a few things to avoid. Get acquainted with Cz currency before you go. Check over your restaurant bills and taxis. We even experienced on restaurant bill issue which was corrected promptly. The currency exchange places in Prague are quite notorious for ripping people off with fine print. We always use ATM machines in Prague to get cash and never had a problem.
  5. Charles Bridge-Take in the statues. Get a pamphlet on the statues or rent an audio tour of the statues. They are fascinating and will give you insight into the city. Take in the beautiful view of the river. I could go there every day of my life. Except for the people. There are a lot of them. Go early in the morning and late in the evening for further magnificent photographic opportunities.
  6. Take an architectural tour. This city is like the woman I mentioned. You will really get to know her through her buildings. I did a “self tour.”
  7. The Astronomical Clock-Another interesting way to see -Have the clock to yourself to admire at any time outside the top-of-the-hour. If you find yourself tiring of the crowds on Old Town Square, pop up to the rooftop terrace at U Prince hotel, order a cocktail, and enjoy the view from above. It’s particularly nice at sunset.IMG_4197
  8. Vysherad and graveyards-a small castle and a cool graveyard with many of Prague’s composers, writer’s, sculptors, poets, politicians….I like cemeteries. I find that I learn a lot about people and culture when I visit them.
  9. Shop-shop Prague. I had zero shopping time on this visit.   I stayed in the Vinohrady neighborhood and my subway stop was below the Flora mall. I had my juice there in the morning before jumping on the subway and grabbed my sandwich for lunch while I went ga-ga looking at the boots and jackets. There is also high end shopping near the Jewish quarter.

    There is this

    There is this

  10. Stay-I loved Courtyard Prague Flora by Marriott in the Vinohrady neighborhood. After a night in a noisy well located hotel in Munich. I was in a spot where I needed quiet and sleep. I was able to get this in a perfectly comfortable room with very helpful staff.   The subway is across the street and is a 7-minute ride into the Old Town Prague. Highly recommend. Trolley is also steps away. It takes a bit longer and I didn’t have minutes to spare!  Walking to Old Town is also quite do-able.

    The public transport system is a snap!

    The public transport system is a snap!

  11. Wine-Like it? Try Czech wine and wine bars in Prague. Take one of the vineyard tours in the countryside.

    Notice the vines on the left of this photo.

    Notice the vines on the left of this photo.

  12. Horse or old car tour– I could see where a carriage ride in the winter would be gorgeous. And, the old cars are kinda cool.
    Imagine in winter?

    Imagine in winter?

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  13. Visit this wonderful site for everything that you might want to know about Prague to make your visit a success. http://www.prague.eu/en

Meg’s Munich Moment

I had a serendipitous moment while meandering around central Munich. Near the Odeonsplatz, I visited a farmer’s market that will remain as one of my all-time favorite Munich moments. The photo below was from a prior visit and the church appears to be under repair at this time.

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Quite near The English Garden and Residence Place is a public square called Odeonsplatz.   On this particular day I found a live band on the stage and a big crowd in a beer garden like setting, with a backdrop of beautiful and historic buildings.

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Surrounded by tents with food vendors and beer, I thought this might be a fantastic place for breakfast.

Music at Odenplatz

Music at Odenplatz

Great people watching

People of Munich

People of Munich

Thanks to modern day research, I later learned that this is Germany’s largest Farmer’s Market and is called Farmer’s Market Mile. I LOVE a good Farmer’s Market where I find the season’s best bounty of vegetables, flowers, meats, cheeses, and specialty products. I learned that this market showcased approximately 125 Bavarian vendors.

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I LOVE HOPS

I LOVE HOPS

As an aside, I saw this while out driving in the countryside.

HOPS FIELDS

HOPS FIELDS POST HARVEST

A highlight for me was learning about regional foods and specialty products. There was opportunity for learning about farming in this beautiful region. Due to my language barrier, I was able to enjoy the beautiful booths and displays.

Fish YUM!

Fish YUM!

Gorgeous Goat Cheeses

Gorgeous Goat Cheeses

HONEY PRODUCTS

HONEY PRODUCTS

BEEF

BEEF

EGGS

EGGS

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SAY CHEESE

I am originally from Wisconsin and very proud of my home dairy state.  Not easily impressed by cheese, I had some of the tastiest cheeses that I have ever tasted while visiting Bavaria.  Check out this gigantic wheel of cheese. YUM!

CHEESE ME

CHEESE ME

DESSERT

DESSERT

The grapes were awesome!

The grapes were awesome!

I tasted a new variety of grape called a strawberry grape.  It actually tasted like a strawberry.

Just your average YAK meat

 YAK meat display

I was most intrigued by the meat vendors. The trucks and stalls were interesting with so many varieties, the likes of which I have never seen at a Farmer’s Market. i remember visiting the small local meat market in my hometown as a child with all of the unusual meats and deli slices.   Wisconsin boasts the largest German American population in the United States.   With contributions of brewers, dairy industry and well more breweries, it is the small European meats and bakeries that have a strong-hold in my heart. I did not appreciate the meats as that child but now see the pride in craftsmanship and heritage worth preserving.   With that nostalgia in mind, I was amazed to see so many meat vendors with their unique specialties. It was a deli lover’s heaven!

this one had a catchy truck

Interesting display

Animal heads

A market with pride, presentation, heritage and some very tasty foods was a treasure for me to find.  Thank you serendipity and thank you to the farmer’s of Bavaria for their dedication to the art of fine quality goods.  Real food by real people. The recipients of this bounty are very lucky indeed. I will not soon forget this MEGastop!

MEGastars I give this market 5 MEGastars *****

Collecting U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Sites In Tallinn-Toompea, Estonia

On my bucket list I aim to get to as many U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Sites as possible, visiting Tallinn-Toompea was a bonus!

One thing that I loved about this city is the layering of many centuries from the old to the new. The view is a colorful combination of the upper and lower town, with church spires and colorful rooflines and shapes, this sight is literally worth a visit. I arrived by ship from Helsinki, and the view was truly amazing.

Old Town portion of Tallinn and Toompea in the upper portion made the World Heritage List for the preserved medieval Hanseatic Old Town. In the 13th century Crusading Knights of The Teutonic Order built a castle. It became a major European trading route for the wealthy Hanseatic League.

*Teutonic  (Teutons) *Germanic Peoples

*Hanseatic Leaugue-a commercial and defensive group of merchants  and their market towns. It dominated Baltic maritime trade. 13-17 century

I arrived by ship from Helsinki-checkout this view. I learned that between 1470-1625, Tallinn had the tallest building in the world. I got to see that from afar!

Blurry But...

Blurry But…

First views

First views

First Impressions!

First Impressions! Old and New

Layers of beauty!

Layers of beauty!

Old Town takes up just 0.7% of the total area of Tallinn.   You are easily able to walk the sites,  Here is my path

Meg posing

Meg posing

Walking into Old Town and Toompea was like walking into a story book-8+ centuries in the making.

Great Buildings!

Old Town Architecture

Style!

Style!

Old Town Hall

Old Town Hall

Awesome details

Awesome details

The narrow and winding streets are fun to wander

long narrow streets with a view around every corner

long narrow streets with a view around every corner

The city has fun names for streets and buildings.

Pikk Jalg-The long leg connects the lower town and Toompea

Pikk Jalg-The long leg connects the lower town and Toompea

Luhike Jalg-the short leg

Luhike Jalg-the short leg

According to legend, these three houses called “Three Sister’s”  actually belonged to three sisters.

The

The “Three sisters’

The defensive structures of the Old Town were probably my favorite sights.


Another reason I love this town is  a tower called “Saint Margaret Tower”  and ordered built by The Danish Queen Mother Margrethe Sambiria. there is also a tower called Stout Margaret. Myself, being a Margaret, I totally posed. As an aside, this tower houses the Estonian Maritime Museum.

Fat/Stout Margaret  with Margaret

Fat/Stout Margaret with Margaret “Meg” posing

This area had gorgeous June gardens, so many photo ops.  As usual, I just had my point and shoot.

great buildings and towers

great buildings and towers

The upper town of Toompea was the administrative center. It sits high on a limestone hill with a castle, cathedral.  The area of Toompea became included in this World Heritage Site.

There is a castle with fortress walls

Looking over the wall

Looking over the wall

I met

I met “Tall Herman”

The Tall Herman sits next to The Estonian Parliment.  The day that I visited I saw a lot of cool license plates with guarded cars.

Toompea Castle, the former building of the provincial government

Toompea Castle, the former building of the provincial government

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is worth a peek.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The “newest” of the churches in this area, it is an Orthodox Church built in 1900. Decorated with lots of gilding and mosaics.

Super fun sights are at every turn, fun shops. I rarely buy things on trips but I I actually bought green amber earrings and a necklace.  super unique and interesting.

A uniquely blended city, the capital of Estonia, located on the Gulf of Finland. In 2011, along with the city of Turku Finland, Tallinn was awarded the distinction of “European Culture Capital.” It is in the top ten digital cities in the world, a global city. A big city with a long history and a medley of old and new. There is an amazing amount of things to do and see in this area.   Trip Advisor lists “266 things to do and see in Tallinn.” There was so much that I did not get to see on my visit.   I would go back in a heartbeat.

MEGastars 5 of 5 *****

MEGatips

  1.  Try to stay for a few days.  I think this area is worthy of a minimum of two days. I had one.
  2. A few things that I did not get to see were The Tallinn Botanical Gardens.  I collect them like heritage sights, Rocca Al Mare, an open air museum with really awesome wooden buildings. Nomme, a town built in the forest. Ruins of Prita Conventand most of all The Song Festival Grounds, where in 1988, hundreds and thousands of people gathered to sing for Estonian Independance.  (I walked by but had to leave.)
  3. Arrive by ship and walk.

AmsterDAM I Love This City-U.N.E.S.C.O. Bucket List-Bonus!

Like any big city, I could live there for a lifetime and not see everything that I want to see. For me, just walking around this place was a bucket list dream fulfilled. I am 100% sure that I will return to this DAMN fine city.   I had oodles of fun and aside from huge crowds, I can’t wait to get back! This is my DAMN story!  See my MEGaview!

MEGaview

MEGaview

I stayed out of town and parking and traffic basically sucked but the cars were cool.  I ended up taking the damn train anyway.

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Grand Entrance!

Grand Entrance!

Beautiful train station and entrance to a fine city.

I remember feeling so excited to be here and catch a glimpse of Amsterdam.  What a damn stupid pole in my second photo.

This is a walking city. It is also a biking city and I love biking. BIKE ON Netherlands!

Bike ON!

Bike ON!

Holy Bikes!

Holy Bikes!

Wow, pretty as a picture!

Wow, pretty as a picture!

Bike parking in this amazing spot!

Bike parking in this amazing spot!

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Holy Bikes, I love this city!

One of my favorite photos-

Bikes Bikes Bikes!

Bikes Bikes Bikes!

There are lots of squares where people gather.

So, I made the photo of myself very small because IDK what was going on with my Damn hair. The lion looks great however.  This city is ALIVE!

Street Performer's

Street Performer’s

Amsterdam is known for the canals.  Built for trade, there are 165 of them.

Take a canal tour even if it is raining.

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GREAT way to see the city and Canal Ring!

GREAT way to see the city and Canal Ring!

In 2010, the canal ring was made a U.NE.S.C.O. Heritage Site. Since I “collect” these sites, this tour was a winner before it began. The 400 year old series of canals connects this wonderful city.

The tour start just happened to be across from an Irish Pub, I collect these too!

Irish On in Amsterdam

Irish On in Amsterdam

Here are some amazing sights that I saw along the way!

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How cool are these houseboats *Dream House!

People having fun on the canal.

People having fun on the canal.

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Seriously,, You cant make this up! I loved enjoying the different styles of buildings. I began to straighten a few of my photos but remembered the buildings are leaning!

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The Museums here are top notch. They are crowded for sure. See my MEGatips for advice.

The Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s grandest museums, the construction has now finished.

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Anne Frank Haus

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DAMN!

DAMN!

DELFT

DELFT

Delft Museum

FLOWER MARKET

FLOWER MARKET

Had to see the Flower Market. You can have bulbs sent home.  It’s in a place with lots of shops.  There is a cheese store nearby where I had a tasting.  I love to try me some street food and eating herring was on my Amsterdam Bucket List

YUM

YUM

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That was fun.  And to get your drink on

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Watching other people watch stuff. There is more than one way to see a city. This was one of the oldest pubs in Amsterdam. Heineken!

One of the oldest Tap houses in Amsterdam

One of the oldest Tap houses in Amsterdam

What can I say? AmsterDAM I love you!

MEGastars 5 of 5 ***** DUH!

MEGatips

  1. I get that a canal tour might be a touristy thing to do but it is a fantastic way to see the canals and the city. I give this 5 MEGastars ***** Better yet, have a lot of cash? Rent your own damn boat and a boat house to boot
  2. . There are a million ways to tour the canal. I would think one of the specialty tours would be fun! And, I think I will rent a paddleboat next time I am in town. Whatever way you choose, Do NOT miss the canal ring.
  3. Check out the I Amsterdam Card. The discounts may well worth the card. Plus, you can book ahead and pick up at The Visitor Center’s including one in Schiphol Airport. It includes a canal cruise and several of the City Museums including the Van Gogh Museum.Get all of your tickets ahead of thime. The long lines basically suck.
  4. Eat Sardines from a street cart.
  5. Visit the Rijksmuseum. Buy your tickets AHEAD of time. There will still be lines of people but you do not have to go to ticket counter.
  6. You can take the train in from the airport and if you travel light, you can carry your luggage to your hotel. Avoiding car rental altogether. This is a walking and bike city. No problem.
  7. Next time that I go, I am going to use Haarlem as a bounce off spot. The trains were so easy to take. I drove into Amsterdam and parking basically sucked at the time that I went AND I ended up taking the train anyway.
  8. Check out my Instagram for more photos.

Meg Tip Toe’d Through The Tulips-Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands.

Far Away Friday.  Keukenhof  was  #1 on my garden visit bucket list. Thanks Tiny Tim for inspiring me to tip-toe through the tulips. i did it!

I'm not kidding, I actually DID tiptoe in some ricking boots

I’m not kidding, I actually DID tiptoe in some ricking boots

So one day in May, My dream became a reality.

Welcome to Keukenhof

Welcome to Keukenhof

It’s difficult to pick my favorite photos. I took 586 photos at this garden and kept a few hundred. I only had my Droid phone and a lil Canon point and shoot. The gardens are colorful,quiet,inspiring and out of this world beautiful. Check out my Instagram soon for more photos.

I learned that there are 7 million bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips. And, they are donated by growers for the rights to be “exclusive” and planted by volunteers.  This is genius and what makes this place the best spring garden in the world. Way to go Netherlands!

Paths

Paths

When you walk onto the grounds you noticed paths lined with beds of tulips in every color and in every direction.

Beds

Beds

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Some are straight and some curve like a river-bed

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or a sea!

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The color is so vivid.

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And yet, I love seeing some of my photos in black and white

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There are many varieties of tulips.

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And of course many other bulbs and flowers.

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With every great garden, there is great art. Of course, it is the Netherlands and the bikes represent. I took this pic with my phone and it is one of m y favorites.

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My personal favorite

My personal favorite

And the unconventional which includes blood and bondage. IDK but there is inspiration for every gardener.

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There are also fountains

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Each year there are exhibits both inside and outside. Made me respect how much work goes into this garden each and every year since 1949.

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I absolutely LOVED this grill area.

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The camping area

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I would love to replicate this outdoor room. Check out the walls made of river rock and wire mesh type walls-Awesome!

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A windmill is incorporated into this Dutch garden. Gorgeous!

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One can tour the tulip fields in a silent boat.  I did not do this so it is my #1 MEGatip -Do this!

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Beautiful and inspiring. I wish all of you  gardener ‘s a visit to Keukenhof. We have some mighty big shoes  to fill! Thanks Keukenhof!

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MEGastars I give this garden 5***** stars. It is a world premier garden and I am so happy that I made this mecca.

MEGatips

  1. Take the boat tour of the tulip fields.
  2. GO to this garden and walk around.
  3. There is food on the grounds. Spend the day!
  4. Visit the indoor exhibits.

Magnificent Munich

I am in love. I love Germany, I love Bavaria, I love Munich.  “Far Away Friday” in this great city.

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Bavaria stole my heart.  I wrote in four other parts;Dachau, Rothernburg ob der Tabuer, Wieskirche and Neuschwanstein.  This was one of those MEGASTOPS that will remain with me forever.

While the countryside of Bavaria was fairy tale and peaceful, I found Munich to be energetic, historical and a whole lot of fun.

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Here are a few sights that i took in.

OLD

OLD

Mix of old and new

Mix of old and new

Great mixture of old and new. Beautiful churches with amazing craftsmanship.

Munich is a fun place to walk around and see ‘stuff.”  Great parks, A mix of old and new. Castles, gardens, parks and squares.

Interesting things that I see while zooming around this planet. Yes, it is touristy sight, but I am a tourist, Duh!  And w ho doesn’t have this on their bucket list?

One of the places that represent this city has to be the Glockenspiel in the tower/balcony of the Neues Rathaus. It is in the Marienplatz Square. Since 1908 people have been gathering for the 12 minute scene. 32 figurines that represent stories from Munich’s history, revolve on two levels. Cooper’s dancers, an angel of peace and the city coat of arms. Right on!

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You can go to top of tower and see city sights. On the day that I visited there was construction and I missed out.  I really want to do this and hope I get another chance.

Unusual things Imust see while zooming around this planet

Unusual things I must see while zooming around this planet!

Not pictured is some pretty cool shopping nearby. I didn’t do because I got a bit thirsty. Which brings me to the beer. Born in Milwaukee and raised in Wisconsin.  The largest German population in the U.S.A., there is a little bit of beer, and a whole lot of party. Munich had that familiar spark.

Nearby there is a market not to be missed. Oddly, I must have deleted my photos from the market area.  Viktualienmarkt (a farmers’ market.)  Picture fresh fruits, vegetables, sausage, cheeses and yep beer under beautiful oak trees.  Speaking of beer.

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This is the real deal.  Not a beer drinker?  This location offers a fantastic lunch stop in a beautiful courtyard.   You can wander around inside and buy some goods. Music plays on a stage indoors.  Great menu in a fantastic setting. 5 MEGastars for this place!

My favorite meal in Munich was a completely unexpected find. I peeked into the door of a recommended German restaurant, I just wasn’t feeling it, and decided to walk up the street to a flea market that I had noticed on the drive in.

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I found this neighborhood park. Apparently, it was beer o’clock here.

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I wonder if this man saw my “secret” snap. I was trying to be polite.

I found a full on neighborhood shindig in this lil park. There was a band, food carts, people joining in the music and more beer. I ate the BEST food here. There were about 5 carts with different foods and a bakery cart.  Wish I had more snaps to share.

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The food was not a mutant hybrid.

I may have had some fun here.  Seems I stayed past dark.I took some blurry photos

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Great sites, great walks, great markets, great beer, great friends. What more could a girl ask for?  I have put Oktoberfest onto my bucket list and hope that I can spend a bit more time in  Magnificent Munich!

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I love Germany and it loved me!

And I always try to find a cool toilet.  Outside of that beer garden cause when ya gotta-ya gotta go.  Bring your € !

COOL TOILETS W/C

COOL TOILETS W/C

Some quirky photos are on https://instagram.com/kickingthebucketlistwithmeg/

MEGastars-5***** Love

MEGatips

  1. Spend more than a few days in this fine city.
  2. I stayed in a few Munich locations. I loved Marriott Residence Inn Munich East. In the Haidhausen District. Just steps away from The Munich Ostbenhauf (train station) and just 7 minutes to downtown.  I had a car and there was underground parking.  An amazing breakfast buffet. Super clean-modern rooms and outdoor seating.  A 25 minute drive to the airport and near that fun park. This was one of my favorite stays europe ven alp mun 265
  3. There are many great restaurants nearby. I loved that park.  I also ate at L’ANGOLO DELLA PIZZA – Ristorante, Bar & Holzofen-Pizzeria.  You need reservations but they let me have someone else’s spot as they were late. Oops, sorry, their loss. europe ven alp mun 257

Castles in Bavarian Paradise-Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau

Far Away Friday. #4 of 4, Romantic Road, Bavaria

I absolutely love this area of Germany. It is everything that the photos portray and much more. With a nearly indescribable setting, this entire area is drop dead gorgeous.  Driving through lush farmland with beautiful and historic buildings, and then into a clean lush valley with a view of the forests ,lakes and mountains as a backdrop.   There are two nature preserves in this area. Thank you Germany!  Although this is the most visited site in Germany, there are many outdoor activities for the nature enthusiast who prefers to be away from the masses.  I could see myself in this area for a lifetime.

The road in

The road in

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Neat and interesting architecture everywhere!

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My Wisconsin roots has prepared to me to appreciate beautiful barn buildings!

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And then there are these cuties. Oh, there is this moment that the castle comes into view and it took my breath away. Like a photo hoarder, I kept snapping because the sight was so cool. The romantic road is actually romantic!

This road is actually romantic!

This road is actually romantic!

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King Ludwig II  built Neuschwanstein Castle just a short distance from his childhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle.

Getting closer, one of the first things that I saw was this tidy small church in the meadows.

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Colomanskirche or St. Coloman’s Church, is dedicated to a 13th century Irish pilgrim who passed through on his way to The Holy Land. Accused of being a spy because of his “strange” appearance and unable to defend himself, he was tortured and executed in Vienna, Austria.

europe ven alp mun 094  He was made a Saint by the local people.  Many people park along this road and hike into town. Free parking!

The village of Hohenschwangau serves a the “base camp” for this area. There is a Visitor’s Center. The two castles are visible from the village.

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Hohenschwangau Castle (pictured above,) was the summer and hunting home for Prince, later to be King Maximillian II and his wife Marie of Prussia. Their sons Otto I and Ludwig II.

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There is lodging, restaurants, shopping.   It was very crowded.

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Views around the village

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I visited on a foggy-rainy day. I pride myself on dressing for the elements.  And yet, left my awesome rain gear and hiking boots at the hotel.  #impromptu hiking clothes, no problem.

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There are a few methods which get  visitors up the mountain to see Neuschwanstein;  by horse and carriage, or by bus. Both can get you to within  a 10 minute hike from the castle.And of course by foot or cowboy boots in my case,  The hike is 30-40 minutes up a steep road through the beautiful woods.

One of the first sights that I saw was Marienbrucke, which is a famous bridge built over the Pollat Gorge. I found it a bit harrowing.  I did try, but there was so many people on the bridge, that I could not walk very far onto the bridge without feeling freaked out.  The view from this bridge is magnificent.

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Just to give you some perspective.  Holy #@!

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Not for the faint of heart, but, dang these views!

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Fact: Walt Disney modeled his castle after this one. It truly is a storybook castle.

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Sights on the road up to the castle.

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I saw great views of the countryside from here.  It is free to get into the shop and lower courtyard but to get into the castle, there is a fee.

This is a story of tragedy. It is a long story and is available to you with a quick Google/Wiki click. Tragically, the castle was never completed. 15 rooms were finished before King Ludwig died under mysterious circumstances. It is hard to believe that this castle was built for the primary residence of just one person.

The hike down was probably my favorite and most memorable part of this day-megatrip, I was able to get a sense of the natural majesty of the land. The castle is well known but this hike down the gorge, not so much,I simply stumbled upon it. I saw very few people. If you are physically able,  I highly recommend this hike!

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I love these woods and waterfalls.

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One of my top ten scenic hikes of all time.

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Meg was here!

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Meg was here!

Meg was here!

It started to get a little steep. Nothing like walking on on a path in the area over jagged rock and water.  The path was affixed to the mountainside. I had to get a rock to hold to help stray my mind. I freaked out a little bit. I did see an old lady with heels on and a kid. Whatever.

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idk water thing

idk water thing

The views were completely worth it.

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This place rocked my world. I would absolutely LOVE to go back and spend more time exploring, hiking and biking. I give it an easy 5 MEGASTARS *****

MEGATIPS;

  1. See my instagram for more photos of this majestic place.
  2. To tour the castle, you need to buy tickets below the castle for a guided tour only. Tickets can be reserved on line 2 days prior. Want to save € ?  tickets for both castles can be purchased together.
  3. If you are not physically active, take the bus up. I feel sorry for those horses knees, but the carriage ride up looks pretty.
  4. No photos or filming inside. There are great photos on line.
  5. Fussen, a medieval town a few minutes away is a good place to find food.
  6. If you can hike in this area, DO IT.

Is This Place Even Real? Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

“Far Away Friday” and  Post Pt. 2 of 4 on a few of my stops in Bavaria, Germany. Rothenburg was so beautiful, I felt as if I was walking in a picture book or a Disney setting.    While driving along The Romantic Road, I had only planned to buzz through this city.

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Hit the brakes!

This road is actually romantic!

This road is actually romantic!

I would have liked to stay there for at least one overnight. I had not intended to write a separate post on this town. But OH the photos with my point and shoot. If only I were a real photographer.

 

Interesting architecture everywhere.

What is fabulous about this town is that it is a 12th century Medieval with the castle still standing. For me, it stands out from other cities that I have visited.

 

 

You can actually walk on the walls

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Outstanding views!

It was well preserved and literally picture perfect for many reasons. One thing that I did not see in my tourist pamphlet was that this city was significant in Nazi History. It was touted as “The Most German of German Towns.” Rothenburg exemplified the ideology of a picture perfect family German life. In October of 1938, Jewish citizens were expelled.   In 1945 during WWII Rothenburg was bombed but thanks to the foresight of an American U.S. Secretary of War, bombing and further damage to this city was halted.

Of course, there is the food in storybook settings!

 

Famous for a “Rothenburger Schneeballen” (also knows as Fränkische Schneeballen) “Snowball Cake in English. This German treat is rolled up pastry with icing on top. Meh, but I had to try.   Lots of fantastic things to see and taste.

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There is fun specialty shopping in this area. Lots of Christmas places.  I didn’t shop on this trip but it was fun to people watch and window shop.

but there is always window shopping for funny random things. Found this little number in an antique shop. Love the toenails!

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Interesting cultural facts. Did you know that this town was in the following movies; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows and more?

MEGASTARS ***** I seem to be on a roll with the 5 stars. I know that this place is “touristy” But c’mon, I am not a rock star. I liked this visit a whole lot.

MEGATIPS-

  1. There is more than one Rothenburg in Germany. Go to the right one. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  2. Anti social ish? Stay the night here (like I did not) I bet the evening and mornings would find the streets less full.
  3. In St. Jakob’s Church there is a 500 year old wood carved art piece, check it out.
  4. Maybe do a day hike along the Tauber, River, the valley  looks gorgeous.
  5. Want those boots? Buy them when you see them. Check out the hours that the businesses are open. The shop that I was interested closed for noon hour and did not seem to open after that. Not open at all on Sunday.
  6. Check out the Medieval Double Bridge that was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (I ran out of time)
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