Author: Brittny (page 1 of 2)

Pulling off the 101 to the Devil’s Punch Bowl

Nestled into the central Oregon Coast in the tiny town of Otter Rock is the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Signage off the 101 is spotty so slowing down to really watch for the turn off is necessary. While there are so many great vantage points to check out along the coastal highway, the Devil’s Punch Bowl has always been a particular favorite of mine.

Looking out over the water here just feels magical. The landscape is rugged and wild, and there are always at least a few brave souls down in the inlet surfing. There’s something hypnotizing about watching waves crash against the cliffs. Picnic tables are available for those who want to relax and enjoy the edge of the world feeling of the cliffs. Mo’s, their world famous chowder is my favorite, is a great place to grab a bite while exploring. A note to those who have visited other Mo’s branches in Oregon, this is one that does not have a fryer. During the summer months there is also an ice cream and coffee truck. My favorite stop though is the Flying Dutchman Winery. No trip to the Oregon Coast, for me, is complete without stopping here for a tasting flight and perusing their snarky napkins and signage offerings. Rain or shine, there is just something about the lookout that always pulls me back.

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Do you have a landscape that moves you? One that you find yourself visiting over and over again?

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A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

When we were home last year, we had the chance to take a ferry ride to the Washington peninsula- a favorite for me- and drove toward Port Townsend. Living in Central Germany, the first thing I always want to do when we’re back on the West Coast is to see water. I get antsy waiting in the ferry line, and then a sense of calm always washes over me as we board. I love the gentle rocking of the waves, and the quick movement once we get underway. Being in the middle of the Puget Sound, with just the outline of land behind you, and Kingston growing closer in the distance.

It’s ok when we’re back on solid ground. I’ve gotten my fix for being on the water, besides I can still smell that clean, fresh scent that only comes when you’re on the coast. We typically make the same loop, driving from the ferry stop in Kingston through Port Gamble before heading up to Port Townsend. Depending on the day, and our travel companions, there are three great cideries available to stop and to do tastings: Finnriver, Alpenfire, and Eaglemount. Otherwise we just drive up to Port Townsend for lunch and to wander. It’s such a cute little town with fun shops and a surprising selection of restaurants. I’ve been seeing pictures for years of the Washington coast, and really want to make it further out on the peninsula. For now this is a great little day trip doable from Seattle up to Everett.

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

So I’ve been busy working on my novel lately, and making some updates to the site. I’m working to refine my focus and update some of my archives. I’ve also been working to add some pages to make the site a little easier to navigate. What do you think of the changes? Is there anything you would like to see updated?

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Exploring Local Beer Fests

In Germany, every village has a local Kärwa, short for Kirchweih or the celebration of the sanctification of the church. The dates vary depending on when the local church was sanctified so to say, and I suspect when the neighboring village has their festival (you wouldn’t want both on the same weekend). But nevertheless the whole Dorf (village/neighborhood) turns out en masse, in trachten to boot.

Boxdorf Kärwa

Most Kärwas boast a few food stands, and some kids attractions, but the main activity of these festivals seems to be the beer tent. Each day the fest opens about 10 am and goes straight through the day until 6 am the following morning (at least ours does).

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Other versions of the local beer fest are the huge festivals hosted by entire cities. Two such options local to us are the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen, and Annafest in Forchheim.

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The Berg (meaning hill) is the third largest fair in Bavaria (after (of course) Oktoberfest in Munich and Gäubodencolksfest in Straubing) held in one of the largest open air beer gardens in Europe. About one million people visit the festival annually (nearly ten times the population of Erlangen). The Berg lasts 12 days and the fair grounds are nearly a kilometer long.

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Annafest is a Franconian festival in the Kellerwald (cellar woods) of nearby Forchheim. Annafest was started in 1840 and now features over 20 beer cellars. Though not as big as neighboring Erlangen, Annafest still draws nearly half a million visitors each year.

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It seems like every weekend has a new festival all summer long, especially compared to the largely ignored remaining 9 months of the year. Next on our list this year is Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest 2014

What is your favorite summer festival?

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Exploring Schloß Mespelbrunn

With our current influx of summer visitors, we have been exploring many places both old and new. Schloß Mespelbrunn was a new castle to add to our ever expanding repertoire of European castles.

The castle is about 40 minutes south of the main Frankfurt airport, making it a good stop for those traveling through the Frankfurt area. You enter through a cute country village following the signs down side roads to the schloß. At the end of one such road is a large parking area at the  trailhead to take you on an easy stroll to the castle.

Though not a large castle, Mespelbrunn is a fun stop because it offers the rarity of a moat filled with water, as well as having stood through all the wars, weather and time without ever being destroyed.

No pictures were allowed in most of the inside areas, but it is just as quaint as the outside suggests, and I would definitely recommend the trip.

 

What is your favorite thing to explore?

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Exploring Regensberg: Walhalla

A few weekends ago the hubby and I decided to day trip somewhere new. We checked our handy-dandy Pinterest board and Google maps to see what looked doable for a single day out. Regensberg topped the list. It was not for any photos inside the city-though it is a cute town to explore-but for the monument in a little dorf (village) outside Regensberg called Walhalla (pronounced Valhalla).

There are two ways to access Walhalla- you can choose to climb several flights of stairs from the base of the hill, or you can do as we did, and park in the car park for a much shorter hike. The building itself is gorgeous and lends itself well to photos. It is set high on a hill overlooking a river (and all those stairs).

If you are interested in statuary (or looking to cool off if it’s warm out) then you should venture inside as well. There are an array of busts featuring famous Germans on display as well as some examples of more commonly portrayed themes throughout Germany and Europe- angels.

All in all it was a cool experience and definitely worth the day trip.

What is your favorite day trip?

 

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Paris-Tour Eiffel

The hubby and I spent our 10 year anniversary in Paris. The tower is an icon, so I thought I would start the Paris series here.

It has been featured in art work. There are a million photos. There is little else that can or needs to be said. Nevertheless it still feels like something you need to see on your fist trip to the City of Lights. So we decided to embrace the cliché- they did get to be so for a reason after all. Deciding to conquer my fear of heights, we elected to take the elevator all the way to the top. This seemed like a fantastic idea until I realized that you don’t take the same large elevator, crammed with 50 people all the way to the top.

On the contrary, you take what we’ll deem the “safe elevator” only up to the second level. No- to get all the way to the top you must take the tiny, scary elevator. This is what John Pinette would call a nay-nay elevator.

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This elevator is SMALL- no where to hide my face on the ride up. Not to mention the fact that it shakes- a lot.

The view is definitely worth it though. Being on the (significantly) tallest building for miles around makes you feel like you are on top of the world. So without further adieu:

 

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Prague- The Bone Church

The last of my Prague posts, although this technically isn’t IN Prague. After our last wander through the town, we drove about an hour to the little town of Kutna Horna to visit the Sedlec Ossuary. The drive through the countryside was pretty, and well worth it.

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The Ossuary, or Bone Church as it is called, is situated in a suburb of Kunta Horna, CZ.

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In 1278 a monk was sent to the Holy Land by the King, and returned with a small amount of dirt from Golgotha. He sprinkled the dirt over the abbey cemetery. Word of this spread, and the cemetery became a very popular place to be buried in Central Europe.

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After the Black Death and Hussite Wars, several thousand people were buried in the cemetery, and the grounds had to be greatly increased.

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In about 1400, a chapel was built in the middle of the Watcemetery with a vaulted upper level, and a lower level to be used as an ossuary for the many mass graves that had to be moved during construction and to make room for new burials.

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In 1870, a woodcarver was hired to put the bones in order.

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It is estimated that the bones of 40,000-70,000 people decorate the chapel.

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It was definitely something different than the typical churches that can start to run together when you travel throughout Europe. A side trip well worth it if you’re in Prague.

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What do you think of the Bone Church?

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Expat Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the day we left the US. It’s crazy to think we’ve been calling Germany home for almost 12 full months. I thought I would celebrate with a few pictures from our travels this last year.

Scotland

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Paris, France

Montmartre

Color Tower

Germany

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Prague, Czech Republic

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Italy

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And home to Seattle, Washington, USA

Space Needle

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It has been a great year abroad, and looking forward to another one!

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Prague’s Jewish Cemetery

I am finally getting around to the last of my Prague posts. As I mentioned previously, if you’re in Prague for the weekend and would like to see the Jewish Quarter, you’ll need to make time on Friday or Sunday as everything will be closed on Saturday for the Sabbath. Luckily, because we chose to drive from Nürnberg, we had the flexibility to play it by ear. The Jewish Cemetery is Prague was one of my first pins on Pinterest to my Wanderlust board (now moved to Wanderlust Fulfilled), and I just didn’t want to leave without seeing it.

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We woke up early on Sunday, and made our way back downtown for a few more hours before heading out, and I’m so glad we did!

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Tips:

  • The Jewish Cemetery is one of the sites in the Jewish Quarter that you can not buy admission to individually. This does make it a little spendy if you’re not interested in seeing the other sites in the package. For us, it was worth it to just see the cemetery, but it’s something to keep in mind.

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  • The line can get pretty long if you haven’t pre-purchased tickets. You can book your tickets online in advance, or you can purchase tickets at several stores or ticket booths in the Jewish Quarter.

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The old Jewish Cemetery in Prague was established in the 15th century and is home to over 12,000 graves. According to Jewish law, it is illegal for a Jew to destroy Jewish graves. So, as they ran out of space, and purchasing more land was impossible, they would bring in more dirt. This resulted in a cemetery with 12 layers of graves. As the new layers were added, the old tombstones were lifted to the new layer.

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There are no spoken guided tours through the cemetery. However there are audio guides available. The relative silence definitely added to the stillness in the atmosphere as you wend your way through the path on the outer edge of the cemetery.

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This stop was definitely worth the trip back, and the extra cost.

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What do you think? Is the Jewish Cemetery on your list to see?

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Prague Castle

Happy Friday!

After wandering through the main square, seeing the Tyn Church and Astronomical Clock, which I posted about here, we (and by we, I mean the hubby) decided to head up to the castle. I will start by highly recommending that you figure out which subway/metro stop takes you to the castle, as the walk up the hill is definitely a hike. It was a pretty walk, but something more enjoyed on the way down than the way up.

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I will say that once we made it to the top, the views were totally worth it. You can see most of the city from the castle gardens as well as the mini Eiffel tower on the hill, and the churches within the complex were really cool, including one that reminded me of the cathedral in Köln.

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The gardens were beautiful and well maintained.

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The gardeners even have a little helper. 😉

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We also stumbled upon this museum (I believe) across from the castle main gates. We could see the corner of the building coming up the hill, and was what held my attention to the top. The courtyard was our first stop.

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As we didn’t do much research before visiting, and arrived in Prague much later than anticipated we didn’t go into any of the castle buildings, just kind of wandered through the grounds. Being a Seattle girl through and through, we stopped in the Starbucks across from the castle entrance, and it was one of the coolest Starbucks I have ever been in!

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After we relaxed and downed cool beverages, we made our way back down the hill to the Charles bridge. This bridge is definitely a site all on it’s own. The bridge is not only gorgeous, but with nice weather, artists sell their wares along the bridge. It also gives some pretty great views!

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It was a great day with some beautiful sights! Even though this was one of our shortest trips so far, Prague has become one of my favorite cities.

Have you visited Prague, or is it on your bucket list? What would you like to see?

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