Inzlingen Watercastle, near Lörrach, southern Germany

We stumbled upon this watercastle more or less by accident. We drove from Lörrach on a Sunday afternoon towards the river rhine and saw a sign at the road “Watercastle right”. Since we didn’t have a specific plan for the day, we decided to take a look what this watercastle is all about. Glad we did.

The castle, which looks more like a large house built in the style of the 16 hundreds, was first mentioned in 1511 a.d. as property of a doctor Peter Wölfflin. It is however believed, that the castle was actually built around 1400 a.d. based on various documents mentioning a castle in that area.

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The moat was most likely added in the 16th century but wasn’t intended for military purpose. It was most likely a trend that came from the netherlands at the time.

The building was used for several purposes over the decades, for living, industrial production and storage. The castle today is the town hall, a restaurant and a hotel. So visiting means just looking from the outside unless you’re hungry or have something to do in the town hall. Either way, it’s located in a small town (Inzlingen) with lots a woods and open area to roam around. Very relaxing short trip when you have a coupole of yours time or when passing through the area. There’re a few more watercastles in the area on the swiss side of the river rhine: Castle Bottmingen, Castle Entenstein, Castle Friedlingen.

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Hope you enjoyed.

Bernd

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Sigmaringen Castle – Swabian Alb Region, Germany

The Castle of Sigmaringen lies in the middle of the swabian Nowhereland right between Albstadt and Biberach. Not that either of those town are worldwide known, just to put it in relation on a map 🙂

The Castle itself dates back to the 11th century with many different families contributing to the castle over the centuries. Some parts are still original dating back to the 12th century. The Family of Hohenzollern, a very famous german noble family that has it’s roots way back in the middle of the 11th century, occupied the castle for a long time which is why it is also called a “Hohenzollern Castle”.

More details can be found at Sigmaringen Castle on the web.

The castle is very impressive but can only be visited by a guided tour. Photos inside are not allowed as usual, but nevertheless, a visit is worth it. 
From the Outside
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…and the surrounding Town with Church
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It’s worth a visit
Bernd

Missions of California

Quite a few years ago, we were lucky enough, to live in one of the most beautiful places in the US. Close to San Diego, California. When we got there the first time, we were just amazed about the character of the towns and, of course, San Diego itself. The mix between urban development, old towns with spanish character, desert and the pacific ocean made an awesome experience. Go shopping in town in the morning, take a hike in the desert in the afternoon and go enjoy the beach – all in one day. Without much driving involved.

While we lived there, we met many great people and still have good friends there. We moved away in 2012 – something I have partly regretted –  but we took great memories with us. One of those memories are the Missions of California that we all tried to visit.

There’re in total 21 missions that were built between 1769 and 1823 along the then created, El Camino Real. Bear in mind, that the road goes from San Diego all the way to north of San Francisco. So visiting all of them is not something you do on a Sunday afternoon. Due to the materials used to built the missions, adobe brick and other materials available at the time, many of the original buildings are gone and have been replaced by replicas that look as close to the original as possible. Some parts of the structures are however still standing. Also, some of the missions are not open to the public due to the desolate state they’re in.

In total we visited 19 of the 21 missions over the course of 7 years. The last 2 actually just recently during a tour through the northwest USA that started in San Jose, CA. (see also my other blogs about that tour 🙂 ).

There’re great resources available on the web to get more background information and to plan your visits. Wether or not you like visiting old churches or not, don’t miss to visit at least 2 of the missions in southern California. To me they’re the most beautiful places there and their  graveyards have such a beautiful and old atmosphere, that you should’t miss. The 2 Missions are the one in San Diego, Basilica San Diego de Alcala and the one in San Juan de Capistrano with the same name.

There are some more in the area, but I personally liked those the most. Here is a map of all missions in California.

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Copyright: California Missions Resource Center

The following photos only give a glimpse of the feel and beauty of the places. For more photos, please go to my smugmug account at SmugMug-Missions.

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Hope you enjoyed and have a chance to visit these places sometime.

Bernd

Sunrise at Blauen Mountain, southern Germany

The “Blauen” is a mountain in the southern Black Forest with a height of 3.820 ft (1.165 m). It provides a beautiful view of the alps to the south, the river Rhine and France to the West and towards Freiburg and the northern Black Forest to the North. From where I live, it takes about 30 minutes by car to get there.

As it is often the case in winter, we have Inversion in the area where the temperatures at higher elevation are actually warmer than at lower elevation. Of course, moisture laden air creates dense fog at lower elevation in this situation. The beauty is, that this fog stays in the valleys of the black forest quite a long time and sometimes all day. At the day when these photos were taken, temperatures in the valleys were about 25°F (-4°C) while temperatures at the top of the Blauen reached 50°F (10°C). And it stayed like this throughout the day.

For someone like me, this is of course a great photo opportunity. Days are short, sunrise is late and getting up in the morning is a bit easier than in spring time when this Inversion happens. Enjoy the photos.

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The sun finally comes up
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City Trip to Vienna

Vienna is one of those cities that has a charme known worldwide. Lots of history, historic buildings, the Vienna Prater and, of course, the people living there. Getting to Vienna is fairly easy. Train, Air, car, all is possible. We decided to go there by car as our hotel had free parking and the trip would have taken more than 10 hours by train. Our hotel was about 500 yards away from the prater -the amusement park of Vienna and approximately 7 minutes from next train station. Great location.

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Amazingly enough, Vienna is affordable. At least compared to other european cities like London, Munich, Berlin and many more. Our hotel, centrally located and good standard, was below 100 Euro/night. It wasn’t a 5 Star hotel and there was no room for dancing (in the room), but for a city trip where you spend most of the time outside of the room anyway, it was perfect.

Getting around in Vienna is easy via subway and tram which connects all areas of Vienna including the suburbs.

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We went there early December and were able to enjoy all of the Christmas decorations on the streets, the shops, the churches and many other historic buildings. Beautiful. Of course, we also enjoyed all the christmas markets that seemed to be on every corner and every plaza. Lots of Glühwein (hot red wine with spices).

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It would take way too long, to list all places we visited (and honestly I can’t remember all of the names anyway). But…be prepared that you will spend a lot of time in churches. They’re so gorgeous and they’re all so different. If you’re into photography, it’s a paradise – if you have the right equipment since they’re pretty dark most of the time.

Enjoy the photos and if you ever plan a trip to vienna, plan at least 4 days to be able to take your time and avoid rushing from place to place.

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Hope you enjoyed.

Bernd

Visiting Allgäu Region in Bavaria

It is a strange thing, that many people connect vacation, with some foreign land. Be that some beaches in southern Europe, in Spain, Italy or Greece, or some more exotic places like Thailand, Bali or similar. At the same time we forget, that our own country has so many scenic places and spots drawing many visitors from other countries to our homeland. In our case, Germany is the country we “forgot” to explore and spend more time vacationing.

So in 2015, we decided to spend a few days in the Allgäu Region of Bavaria in southern Germany. A very scenic region with the alps in the background, cows on the fields and the typical homes that most us know from TV or Online. Of course, one cannot visit the Allgäu without making a stop at the most scenic castles worldwide: Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Hohenschwangau. All of those places in a perfect picturesque setting.

It was amazing to see and proofing my point, that, when visiting those places, as Germans, we were a clear minority. Looking around we saw hundreds and, in the case of Castle Neuschwanstein, thousands of people from the US, Asia and other countries. Apparently they knew something, we didn’t know or didn’t even consider when making travel plans.

The Trip

We started the trip driving east from our hometown near Lörrach in the very southwestern corner of Germany. One of the issues going East (or West for that matter) is, that there are no major highways going West to East. Somehow, the highways in Germany – at least in the southern part – all go south to north and vice versa. So a trip that would typically take 3 hours on a highway, ended up taking 6 hours. But hey, we were on vacation and the driving did a least go through scenic areas.

After around 5 hours, we arrived in Füssen in Bavaria at the Forggensee. An old scenic town with the river Lech winding through town. Füssen is also very close to the most famous castles in the world – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau and Austria’s border is just at the outskirts of town. We toured the town and then moved on to our hotel a short distance outside of Füssen in Jungholz, Austria.

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Earls the next day, we drove to castle Linderhof. The castle, built by King Ludwig II in the 1870s, is a very beautiful building with tons of gold, mirrors and exclusive furniture. It’s an example of how the king’s and (to use today’s words) the upper 0,05% lived at the time.

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However, not only the castle itself is stunning, also the gardens around it. They were initially planned as a smaller version of the Versaille gardens in France, but the design of the garden didn’t fit in the narrow valley were the castle was located. So they adjusted the design to what it is today.

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More on castle Linderhof you can find here: http://www.schlosslinderhof.de/englisch/palace/history.htm

Wehn taking a tour of Linderhof during high season, plan some waiting time as it gets very crowded. The good part is, when you buy a ticket, it shows the time slot of your tour, so you can spend the waiting time in the gardens, instead of waiting in line.

The next day we went on to visit Castle Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. We already felt the day before, that castle Linderhof was crowded, but oh my, the mass of people in those 2 castles were amazing. Well, there’s a reason why they’re called the most famous castles worldwide……

First Hohenschwangau, which lies in sight of Neuschwanstein, just lower and next to a lake. The castle was built in the 12th century and was purchased in 1832 by King Maximilian II, the father of later King Ludwig II. Here Ludwig II spent his youth and also used it as his residence in summer until his death in 1886.

More on castle Hohenschwangau you can here: https://www.hohenschwangau.de/1303.0.html

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Next stop was Castle Neuschwanstein, just a few minutes away (so we thought). It actually takes quite a while to get to the castle. Walking takes about 45 minutes to an hour uphill. The more convenient way is by bus, but waiting times can easily take an hour as well. So we took the bus because at temperatures of about 85°F, we didn’t feel like walking uphill.

The castle itself is, to my opinion, much more impressive from afar. When you get close, you’re surrounded by thousands of tourists taking selfies and there’s some waiting involved when you plan to take some photos from the scenic spots. We didn’t take a tour since we didn’t feel like waiting for an hour again, so we just took our time to walk around outside and in the Atrium.

The nearby Marienbrücke was unfortunately closed for renovation. From there you have an awesome view on the castle and the surrounding area.

More on the castle you can find here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/index.htm

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Having done the castle part of our trip, we moved on to visit some scenic town nearby, Mittenwald. It is one of the typical Bavarian towns that you might know from pictures, german movies etc.

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The town lies directly below the Karwendel Mountain. Since we have never been at the top of the mountain, and weather was nice, we decided to take a trip with the gondola right to the peak. Of course, serious hikers would frown upon us, but the hike of of 7,5 hrs and more than 5.000 ft elevation gain, was a bit too much for us tourists.

The Karwendel Peak, the Birkkarspitze, can be reached via Gondola much easier in about 15 minutes. The view from up there is amazing and there’s a nice hike from the peak station to the nearby viewing points. The peak is about 9.000 ft above sea level.

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On our last day, we got a special treat. Typical for the area in the fall, the cows, that are on the fields high in the mountains during summer, will be moved back to town and in the stables for winter, around September time. We were lucky enough, that the town we stayed in, did that just wehen we were there.

So we got up on the last day of our trip and waited outside until the cows came (sounds funny enough). Now, cows are not on a schedule and certainly don’t care, wether tourist wait along the street. So, it was a long wait, but it was worth it. For the event, the cows are decorated with flowers so it makes a very nice event for picture taking. Of course, as any event, it is followed by a day long party in town 🙂 No pictures of that though 🙂

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Well, 3 days full of sightseeing and events right in our home country. Why travel far, when the good and beautiful can be found right at home. This is true for any country in the world.

Best

Bernd

 

Fall Impressions Ohio

During our recent visit of Ohio, our timing was lucky since it coincided with the peak of Indian summer in the Northeastern US. While living in Connecticut in the 2000’s, we got first introduced to Indian Summer and we were hooked from the fall we lived there.

This year was the first time in 8 years, that we were in the US during peak of Indian Summer and therefore, our cameras got a real workout considering the beautiful days combined with the beautiful scenery of northeastern Ohio. All photos are taken in the area between Canton, Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Berlin – all Ohio.

Of course, as it is common in the fall, there were many harvest fairs with typical products of close-by farms.

This year, not all of the conditions for a perfect Indian Summer spectacle were right as the summer in Ohio was very dry and therefore, the soil was rather dry going into fall. But the great mix of maple, aspen, oak and gum trees in Ohio created a beautiful scenery nonetheless.

If anybody wants to time a visit for this colorful scenery, it happens in Ohio from 2nd week October until the End of October. It varies year by year, but with todays online resources, it is easy to find out when and where the peak of colors is happening. One of those websites is Ohio Fall report.

The remaining photos will go without explanation. Enjoy.

Bernd

 

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