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  • Day36

    Fortified Church of Hunawihr

    December 27, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

    We made our way through the town up to the Church of Hunawihr. The 10th century church is surrounded by the town cemetery which was just as interesting as the church. I’m not sure our tour guides expected us Australian tourists to be so interested in tombstones.

    The other interesting feature of the church is the clock on the bell tower. The hands of the clock are decorated with vine leaves, illustrating the importance of the vineyards to the economy of the village, with one of the clock faces displaying the hour while the clock face on the side of the tower shows the minutes.

    The church interior is simple in its decoration with the stain glass windows being the main feature. It was interesting to learn about its history and the history of the town.
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  • Day36


    December 27, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

    Today we decided to do a half day tour along the Alsace wine route, including stops at three smaller villages along the way. It was an overcast and wet start to the morning so it was nice to be driven around and not trying to master the trains and do it on our own.

    Our guides for the day, Ana and Erik, were fabulous and gave us heaps of interesting information along the way. It was amazing to learn that the wine route through Alsace covers 170km of vineyards and includes 4200 wine growers and 900 wine makers. There are strict governances in place that ensure the wines from this region are made from the seven different types of grapes and that they are not mixed. Riesling grapes make Riesling wine, Pinot Gris grapes make Pinot Gris wine etc. I did make note that I should be asking for Pinot Blanc when ordering wine in France as it sounds like one I would enjoy.

    First stop for the day was the small town of Hunawihr, a typical Alsatian village with a population of less than 600 people. Being very close to the German border it’s history has it changing hands numerous times before finally becoming French once more. Listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, it is renowned for its fortified church perched on the hill, which is both a church for the Catholics and the Protestants.

    The village of Hunawihr has some beautiful half-timbered houses in the Renaissance style called “Maisons de vignerons”, vine growers’ houses. It was very interesting to learn about the building processes and materials used, as well as the myths behind the chosen colours. It is a lovely quaint town and one we could easily spend the day in.
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  • Day34

    Christmas in Colmar

    December 25, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    After a bit of a rough night in which we were all woken up by what sounded like either an explosion or gunfire at 12.20am, we had a slow start to the day.
    Considering where we are and the history of terror attacks last year in a nearby town the large blast certainly gave us a scare. Add to that the yelling we could hear it took a few minutes and another blast for us to realise it was random fireworks. Still it got our hearts thumping and made it hard to get back to sleep so we were all thankfully for the relaxing late start to our Christmas.

    After chatting to the kids we had missed the night before we checked to see if Santa had managed to find us... and he had. Brad received a beautiful Italian leather satchel, perfect for travelling, and I got spoilt with a lovely embossed Italian leather wallet and a few other treasure “Santa” had collected so far in our trip. I felt very spoilt. Santa didn’t forget Peta and Errol either leaving them with a bottle of French red wine.

    Brad and decided to venture out to see if we could get some more of the delicious croissants we had yesterday to add to our cheese and ham but all the pastry shops were closed. There were still quite a few people out and about enjoying the quieter streets.

    Brunch/lunch was a meat and cheese platter made with produce we had sourced from the food market yesterday with our homemade vin brûlée, or vin chaud as it is called in France. We made sure to take our cheesy Christmas photos in front of our live Christmas tree, in our matching ugly Christmas sweaters, although they weren’t as ugly as some I had seen.

    It was a lovely way to spend the day, chatting with each other and when possible FaceTiming with family from home. It is a very different experience being on a different time zone to home where they have all wrapped up their Christmases as we are starting ours. I’m not sure I want to be this far away again as I am missing the kids and their partners, and our grand puppies, a lot.

    After a very relaxing morning/afternoon Errol roasted up the fresh veggies, heated up our beef Wellington and made some red wine jus for amazing Christmas dinner. It was so tasty especially paired with our French wines, Vodka beers followed with Caramel vodka shots.

    Feeling very full and a wee bit merry we decided to spread our Christmas cheers with the revellers in the streets (which was a good excuse to get another vin chaud on our way out). We walked the cobblestoned streets, admiring the Christmas light displays, chatted to a couple of heavily armed police, and even had a ride on a carousel. What a fun Christmas night.

    We returned to our apartment for our delicious Christmas dessert, listened to some music and just enjoyed these amazing moments we are having with our very special friends. We are so lucky to have them in our lives and it has been a privilege sharing our first Christmas away from home with them. Friends are family you choose yourself and spending the day with Peta and Errol helped ease our feelings of homesickness. Love you guys.
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    Chris Weedon

    You make a European Christmas look wonderful Debi!

  • Day31

    Pfistern Brot, Lucerne

    December 22, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    We meet up with Peta and Errol for a late lunch at Pfistern Brot, a restaurant on the edge of Lake Lucerne whose specialty is fondue. The restaurant’s origins date back to the 15th century. A bit of research had told us that it is a traditional dish here in Lucern so we decided to give it a go, regardless of the price. It is our last day here and I doubt we will return so we just said to hell with it. I do have to say it isn’t as enjoyable as eating and drinking at our previous locations where we have had to think about how much everything costs. To put it in perspective, for our set menu today we started with a very delicious but small bowl of Chardonnay soup, followed with a cheese and pan-fried mushroom fondue, a basket of bread chunks and a bag of small potatoes for dipping. This was followed with a smaller chocolate fondue and a small plate of fruit. We had two wines each. Total in Swiss francs was CHF281 which converts to $414 AUD. While it was an experience it was definitely not worth that but we had our Swiss money to spend so spend it we did.

    One thing we especially loved about the restaurant was the fur (fake) covered chairs, the warm blankets to cover our laps and the heated bean bags given to us to keep us warm. It certainly made a difference as it was quite windy and chilly this afternoon.

    Lucerne has been an interesting place to visit and we can tick it off our list but it isn’t a place I would rave about or really recommend. It is sooooooo expensive that you really can’t enjoy the usual holiday activities, and while it is a beautiful town, it seems to lack the vibe and friendliness we have experienced in other places.

    The one thing we have enjoyed is having some down time due to the weather and location. Something we all needed.
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  • Day31

    Museggnauer, Lucerne

    December 22, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    After a very relaxing lie in while we waited for the rain to ease, Brad and I decided to venture out for a walk towards the towers of Lucerne. Braving the light showers we made the steep walk to Museggnauer, the iconic old city wall featuring nine towers. During the warmer months some of the towers are open to the public and offer views from the top, however today we had to be content with just wandering along the wall, looking up at the towers.

    The Musegg wall with its nine towers is part of the ramparts built in the 14th century to protect the town of Lucerne - as is the Chapel Bridge. The wall is astoundingly well preserved and begins with the Nölli tower in the west above the Geissmatt bridge, and ends at Museggstrasse 7, at the eastern end of the old town. The accessible towers from west to east are: the Männli tower, adorned with a figure of a soldier (the little man or 'Männli'), the Wacht tower, the Zyt tower with its clock dating from 1535 and the Schirmer tower.

    It was interesting to see but disappointing that we couldn’t climb the towers to get a higher view of Lucerne. I think the oddest thing is the weird statue situated in the seating area just in front of the wall. Very random.
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  • Day25

    Bar Le Via En Rose, Trento

    December 16, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    We stumbled across this quirky little cafe on our walk this morning and decided it was the perfect place to stop for lunch. We love finding these restaurants and cafes that don’t cater for tourists and enjoy the process of working out how to communicate and one: work out what is on offer, and two: actually place our order. So much fun. And you know you have picked the right place when it fills up very quickly with the locals and there is a wait for tables. Luckily we beat the rush.

    The decor in Bar La Vie En Rose was what made this place so unique, from the old wooden and mismatched seating to the tables made from old doors, the old school phones, cameras and pictures adorning the walls, and the retro tv on static screen, there was so much to pique our interest. They even had a working gramaphone.

    And to top off the whole experience the wine and food was delicious. Brad and I both enjoyed a pumpkin risotto. Perfecto.
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  • Day22

    Cafe Wallner, Verona

    December 13, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ❄️ 1 °C

    After grabbing some more photos we decided it was time for a coffee and came across Cafe Wallner on our way home. What a fabulous cafe - we loved the decor, and the cakes and pastries on display were works of art themselves. Added bonus was the delicious coffees and the hugest croissants we have every seen. Somehow we did manage to eat them.

    With the rain set in and Brad not feeling the best we ended up having a very relaxing day. Brad rested and tried to recuperate, and I joined Peta and Errol for a glass of wine or two for lunch and then enjoyed a stroll through the markets in the rain before returning home to relax for the rest of the day. It was an easy and relaxing day, just what we needed.
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  • Day22

    Chiesa di San Nicolo all’ Arena, Verona

    December 13, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ❄️ 1 °C

    As we were exploring the streets we came across a church Peta and Errol had stumbled across earlier in their explorations. Chiesa di San Nicolo all’ Arena is a small and simple church situated just behind the Verona Arena, hence the name. There is something about the simplicity of this church that gives it a peaceful vibe, which is a good thing for a church. Construction began in 1627 and progressed slowly until 1630 when it was stopped due to the plague. Eventually new funds were obtained to continue and two side chapels, the sacristy and the vault were completed. Funds ran out before the dome could be built and the façade decorated, but the interior decoration was finished thanks to the help of some aristocratic Veronese families and in 1697 it was officially consecrated.

    In 1806 the Theatines were forced to leave Verona and the church was closed following the suppressions wanted by Napoleon Bonaparte. Finally, after the war it was decided to finish the façade by using the façade of the Chiesa di San Sebastiano, which was destroyed by bombs during the war. However, no mention is made of the dome ever being completed. I believe the dome currently in the church is a painted illusion, while Brad thinks it is real. Due to the lighting in the church neither thought can be confirmed and searching the internet has not provided any definitive answers. I guess this is one thing we will never know.

    One big difference in this church compared to others is the stained-glass windows. The majority of churches we have visited have had beautifully elaborate windows but the windows in this church are very minimalistic. I love the simplicity and elegance of these stained-glass windows, they add to the peaceful feel of this church.
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  • Day22

    Good Morning Verona

    December 13, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ❄️ 0 °C

    With another wet and hopefully snowy day forecast we were surprised to wake up to dry skies, so decided to quickly get dressed and head out for a wander around before the crowds and the rain. Sadly it did not stay dry for long but it was still lovely to walk the streets of Verona without so many people around. Verona is a very pretty town filled with lovely historic buildings.

    I love the colours of the buildings, the cute little balconies, amazing doorways and windows. There is so much to look at and admire. Even with the rain we got to enjoy some of the main sites without the crowds we have had the past few days and it was a nice way to start our last day in Verona.
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