Strasbourg, capital of Christmas

(This is a late upload as, having just relocated to a new place, in an unfurnished house, I had to wait until internet connection starts working and finally it has come, yey!)

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Not only that it is the oldest Christmas market in France, having existed since 1570, it is also the most famous because of its grandeur and its location in the heart of Europe.  Come, I invite you to walk with me along the streets of this beautiful city which we are lucky enough to be our home albeit temporarily.

20151219_153735bVin chaud or mulled wine (mix of red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and orange juice heated below boiling point)

 

20151219_153959bA Christmas toast to mulled wine!

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20151219_162026bFancy giving this gift to a beer-loving friend!
“Le Metre de Biére, 16 bouteilles” (The beer meter containing 16 bottles)

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IMG_5946bChoosing the perfect herbal tea….

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IMG_5962bYou see pretzels like this only in Germany, but Alsace,
particularly Strasbourg its capital, used to be part of Germany so what do you expect?

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IMG_5968bStrasbourg Cathedral

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The month in photos: November 2015

It’s been very hectic the past few weeks what with our many road travels between Hungary, France and the UK the reason I am not able to update this site as regularly as I wanted to.  The good news is, I never stopped taking photos each day so you will have a chance to see them here, all posted in one page, kind of a photojournal.  I used to do this under “Daily Photos(see right column of this page for entries) but got discontinued for the same reasons (I lead a busy life!).  Now I am reviving it under the title, “The month in photos:…” and I promise that it will be more exciting as I am incorporating my growing passion for digital scrapbooking!

Enjoy reading!

 

temeto
01 November 2015
Lispenszentadorjan, Hungary

To commemorate this day dedicated to the dearly departed, we did our traditional visit to the cemetery at a neighbouring town.   Just like the rest of the world, Hungarians honour their dead by laying flowers and lights into graves.   Most tombs we saw are like gardens nicely landscaped or overflowing with flowering plants.

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Bazekerettye, Hungary

This is our first Autumn in Hungary and every morning, while walking Charlie the dog, we get to witness the breathtaking beauty of trees whose leaves have now turned to shimmering orange, red, yellow or gold.  While each day’s golden palette is  beautiful enough, we find the next day’s display even more stupefying.   Yes, as if the colours change by the minute and we are lucky to be here at the exact moment when they reach their peak of Autumnal beauty.  What a sheer delight to do photography!
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03 November 2015
Austria

Started our drive towards France and after two hours on the road, we came to pass through this border sign of Austria.

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04 November 2015
Styria, Austria

Last night, we arrived at our Austrian hotel in the dark so what a surprise when we woke up this morning and saw this staggering Alpine scenery just outside our window.  We are at a B&B in Spital am Pyhrn  where the nearest ski resort is 9 kilometers away but when the snow is thick enough, one can do cross country skiing  right infront of the property.

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05 November 2015
Germany

For our second night on the road, we stopped in the German wine road town of Bad Durkheim where we stayed at a B&B above a restaurant in the middle of the Old Town.  This is a very German “fruhstuck” (breakfast) served to us by the hotel manager (looking like one because he was dressed in an impeccable suit and tie).  While H was cracking his egg, the “manager”  showed him where the shells should be thrown, and that is the ceramic bin  above.   We are in Germany, you see, and everything must go right to where they belong, including, err…eggshells.

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06 November 2015
Arpajon, France

We are now in France  and the first business of the day is for Charlie to go to the vet for his de-worming tablet.  This is a strict requirement before he enters UK territory on Sunday.

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07 November 2015
Paris, France

I am lucky to be in Paris while the annual Salon dela Photo is ongoing.   As in the past years, I got to enter the exhibition free, listen to the testimonials of legendary photographers, try the new accessories available,  but the most important freebie of the day is – I got my canon sensor cleaned! (see the queue on the right).

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08 November 2015
Calais, France

Voila, today is our departure for England.  Here is Charlie waiting to show his passport and vaccination papers to the Pet Office at the Eurotunnel terminal.
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09 November 2015
Wellington, UK

After staying the night at a hotel in Taunton, we drove the next day to where our newly purchased campervan was waiting to be picked up.  We bought it online a couple of weeks ago.  Quite old but is within our budget and fulfills all our requirements.  Travelling is an expensive passion, you see, but if we can do away with hotel expenses and start cooking our own food, then we can see more of Europe on a shoestring!
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10 November 2015
Taunton, England

We want to try how the campervan behaves so we are staying ON IT  at a campsite in Taunton.  While our bed is propped up above the driver’s seat, Charlie’s room is the driver and passenger seats combined.  I had to cover the windows with any fabric I could find because the rabbits make him restless and that means, a sleepless night for us, too.  We cannot shoo the rabbits away so the only solution is to drape  the windows.  it worked and we all slept like logs!
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Taunton, England

We want to see Taunton so we took the canal path (luckily, just outside the campsite) going towards town.  We walked and walked for what seems to be ages that even Charlie was closed to collapsing!  It’s only when we went back home that we saw the sign on the bridge saying  “5 miles to Taunton Center”.  So that means, we walked a total of ELEVEN miles (going and coming plus the ambling)!

But the effort was worth it.  The town is like the medieval setting of  King Arthur and the round table complete with the  sword buried in stone!

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12 November 2015
Taunton, England

We already walked the direction towards the town yesterday so this time we are following the canal path to the other side.  We made sure to look at the sign again to find out how many miles of waking would that be.  It says 1.5 miles each way so THREE miles is not bad.  It’s a more pleasant walk we found out, more farmlands, less factories and no busy highways to cross over.  Charlie was happier, too, having met friendly dogs on the way.
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13 November 2015
Exeter, England

Exeter is just an hour drive from Taunton so we went there today for a day trip.  This photo I took of H is a symbolic one because he is standing on the same spot, wearing the same wooly hat where, 30 years ago he sold his boat for a mere 1 Sterling Pound.  He had a grand and memorable time with the chap, went sailing with it between France and England  but the time came to say goodbye and H had to move on to other horizons.  The problem is, it’s a complicated process getting rid of boats but luck was on his side when a buyer wanted it so bad for its metal components.  H kept the wheel as memento.

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14 November 2015
Taunton, England

At nearly 3am today, we were woken up by a ringing on H’s mobile phone.  It was Kris, our son, calling from the Philippines asking where we are.  “Are you in Paris, ma?  There was a terrorist attack at a concert hall…”

I am posting this photo of me and my niece when we met up in Paris a week ago.  We already noticed then the somber appearance of the Eiffel Tower, even commenting, “why it doesn’t look handsome today?”  Could it be a premonition?

We feel sad and full of anguish for the many victims of the attacks. They are not only French citizens, there are also other nationalities of different religions including Islam. So this is not only a terrorist attack aimed at a specific race or creed, it’s a massacre of innocent people. But even if Paris is grieving now, I believe the city in particular and the country in general will return to normalcy, going back to the same cafés, watching concerts, football games because that is what France stands for, and that is why we love this city so much because they know how to enjoy life, in a civilized manner.

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15 November 2015
Wellington, England

Goodbye for now to the campervan.  Lots of improvements and repairs to be done when we come to collect it from this storage site next year.  Errr… I managed to smash the kitchen window as you can see the tapes on it.
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16 November 2015
Hythe, England

We are in Hythe, close to the Eurotunnel terminal where we plan to cross the channel tomorrow for France.  Below is the High Street as viewed from our B&B window.  It’s a pub downstairs and being a Friday night last night, it was almost impossible to sleep what with the loud chattering and yelling of customers and passersby below.
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17 November 2015
London, England

Went to a parcel office just outside London where I had to take the train and the tube (pictured above) with a bagful of goodies to send home to the Philippines.  The trip was quite pleasant despite the prediction of rain but  glad I didn’t have to use my umbrella.
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18 November 2015
Egly, France

Back in France again and the first thing we did was to take a walk around the lake.  Charlie  is in his best form because for the first time in ten days (staying and always on leash in England), he finally got his freedom to run un-leashed!  Well, we were about to finish the walk that’s why you see the leash attached to him now.
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20 November 2015
Arpajon, France

After the usual unenjoyable experience in England, it’s lovely to be back in France where dining is almost always a great adventure even if it’s only in a small family-run restaurant such as this one just outside Paris.  Yes, dining is a social event in this country and office lunches are always moments to look forward to, just like for these employees from the Mairie (City Hall) of Arpajon.  The restaurant is heaving because of their winning formula:  a help-yourself buffet table of Entrée, main dish, dessert and coffee – glass of wine included.  Total price of the menu:  13euros per head.  We’ll go back there again!

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21 November 2015
Sarreguemines, France

This is the last French town on the German border where we stopped for the night on our way home to Hungary. I was wondering why the display of giant ceramic cups and saucers in roundabouts – and then I realized that ceramics is one of their major industries. Cool!

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22 November 2015
Selzthal, Austria

On our second night on the road, we booked a B&B in Styria, Austria, near the border of Slovenia.  Styria is now our favorite stopover because of “The hills are alive” (Sound of Music) landscape.  We arrived in the dark  so couldn’t see much of the surrounding area but when we woke up the next morning,  a staggering white scenery lay before our eyes!  This is our first taste of snow this winter.
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24 November 2015
Lenti, Hungary

Just 22 days ago I was pretty blown away by the colours of Autumn in this same forest.  Now, all the leaves have fallen, the trees are bare and the landscape is sad and depressing.  Oh well, that’s the beauty of the Four Seasons!

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25 November 2015
Home, Hungary

Five a day.  Eating salad with our meal makes it easier to attain the five servings of fruits and veggies a day to keep the doctor away. Tastes good actually, especially if corn is added and some poppy seeds sprinkled.

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26 November 2015
Bazekerettye, Hungary

Our morning walks with Charlie had us discovering many oil wells scattered around Bazekerettye, some are still pumping but some have been abandoned.
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30 November 2015
Zala country, Hungary

Christmas decorations are now up in our village and a notice in the bus stop shelter says that Santa Claus will be giving gifts to children on Saturday.  That reminds me to organize a gift-giving day, too, to the neighbourhood kids but we still don’t know if we are spending Christmas in this country as we might travel again.  Typical.

 

A brief stop at Spital am Pyrhn, Austria

Why is it that everytime we are in Austria we always tend to sing “The hills are alive” of Julie Andrews? There is something in this country that blows us away even if it’s only a cattle farming community such as Spital am Pyrhn. Literally means “village in the mountains”, Spital am Pyrhn is set in a picturesque landscape famous as a skiing resort in the winter and an equally popular hiking paradise the rest of the year. What makes it attractive for nature lovers is that, it is the gateway to the Kalkalpen National Park, the largest forest region in Central Europe, which boasts of hidden gorges, untouched mountain streams, caves, fantastic flora and fauna, among others.

If only we had more time, we would have loved to explore the forest and Charlie would have the ball of his life. Oh well, we might just go back, after all, it’s not too far away from where we live..

IMG_4936bWaking up to a staggering Alpine scenery like this makes us yearn to explore the ever so beautiful Austrian countryside more and more
@Haus Johanna, Spital am Pyhrn, Oberweng, Upper Austria..

 

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20151104_090754bThat red and black pole is a snow marker, as the name suggests, is used to measure the depth of snow
and to mark the boundary of the road when it is too covered in snow..

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20151104_085327bA children’s playground

20151104_091142bThe start of a hiking path as symbolized by the pairs of shoes.