Monday, September 25, 2017

Back on the Train . . .

Well - ALMOST.

As I mentioned in my Post of the 19th September we had booked ALL our Train tickets before leaving Australia.

This was a very good idea and worked well - with the exception of our Trip from Frankfurt to Strasbourg.

It was now time to leave France for a week and head back into Germany
- so INSTEAD of getting to the Station with all our luggage and then go looking for our train.

We decided to check things out a couple of days earlier.

They say a Picture is worth a thousand words - and more so when dealing with Tourists who don't speak the Language.

Roughly translated - "We were digging a new Rail Tunnel and it sort of collapsed the tracks we were digging under....."

So - désolé, vous devez prendre le bus.

Great -
Back on "Le Bus" it is !

Oh well - at least we were not the only ones that were in this predicament and as long as no one had been hurt in the collapse -

It became just one more adventure!

And in fact, something I may investigate as alternative to taking the train for short trips in the future.

Ouibus to Karlsruhe
and then Train to Munich.

One day - if ever we do this again, I will stop at Karlsruhe and explore more of this fascinating City than just the Train Station.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

What a Weekend - Part 3

Day 8 -
The Volerie des Aigles

Last stop on our Sunday Adventure was to another Castle....

Not Quite.

The Construction of Castle Kintzheim* was started in 1250 and Completed in the 15th Century.

It was partially destroyed in the Alsace Campaign in 1945 and the Ruins were declared a Historical Monument in 1964

But it's History since 1965 that has brought us here.


Beautiful Raptors
These Birds are Enormous.

THEY were the Stars of the Show

And THEY knew it !

The Ruined Castle is Their Domain
and they were certainly anxious to Stretch their wings and Soar above it

Swooping in to Thrill the Crowd

Anxious not to miss getting any really good photographs of these Spectacular Birds in Flight 

I set my Camera to "Sports" Mode
and hoped for the best!

I was not disappointed with the result.

Our Day had come to an end in Spectacular style
but not wishing to miss the last Shuttle down the mountain,
 we had to reluctantly leave.

It was actually nice to leave mid show -
seeing the Birds Soaring Freely above in the Clear Blue Sky.

Getting back to where the Bus dropped us was a 10 minute Hike up a Bush Track.
It is not possible to bring large Vehicles to the Castle and we were not totally convinced that we had been dropped at the right spot, with no signposts to direct us!

It was so much easier going back
 as we at least had an Idea as to where we were headed!

And from here on it is back to Strasbourg to get ready for our next adventure!

* There is no drop down Auto Translate function on this page
To Translate from French - Right Click anywhere on the page and select 'Translate to"

What a Weekend - Part 2

Day Eight -
La Montagne des Singes

Our next stop on the Shuttle Bus route
is an Animal Park and Research Centre for Barbary Macaque Monkeys.

These Old World Monkey Species are fairly unique as they have no tail.

On entering the Park we were not quite sure what we would encounter.

We were given a handful of plain Popcorn and instructed to offer just one piece at a time and to hide the rest.

The monkeys are very clever and those that wanted to interact with the humans positioned themselves on the path rails.

The Others just get on with their lives 
in the 60 Acre wooded reserve.

Looks like the cuddly version in the souvenir shop
 was irresistible and will be making his way
 to a new home to Australia eventually!

And after a light lunch- it was back on the Shuttle and on to ...

What a Weekend

Day Eight - Part One

It seems that yesterday was just a warm up for Today's adventures!
We had asked DD if there was ANYWHERE She would like to go now that she had some company.

First stop was to buy an "Alsa+Group Pass".

This is a Transport ticket for the Alsace Region (other regions are available).
It cost €36.50 for a single ticket and just €37.50 for a 'small group 2-5 people' and is valid for travel until midnight, on any transport on Weekends & Public Holidays.

Half an Hour on a Train and then transfer to the Shuttle Bus and let someone else do the driving!

There is more to Europe than Cathedrals and today we went to visit a Castle.

First records of Haut-Koenigsbourg date back to 1147
It was destroyed in 1462
Rebuilt and fortified in 1479
Sieged, Pillaged and Burnt in 1633 during the 30 year War
And then abandoned for the next 200 years
Until it was classified as an Historical Monument in 1862

1900-1908 The Castle is completely restored by Willhelm 2nd using extensive archival photographs and building methods that were very advanced for the early 20th Century - including electricity.

1993 The Castle is entirely classified as an Historical Monument and fully restored.

It is easy to see how Archers were able to protect the Castle in Medieval Days.

Unfortunately the Fortified walls did not keep the Swiss Army from Invading.

And now the only things that are shot from these Loopholes in the Castle Walls are Photographs by the many Tourists that trudge the parapets.

And trudge we did!

Down corridors and across Drawbridges
 up staircases and through rooms

Until we came to the Kitchen
and beyond - in a VERY small room was

This 80 HL Wine Barrel - That is 8,000 litres
(and just for fun, seeing it was next to the kitchen...
1 Million Six-hundred thousand teaspoons of liqueur!)

-They may have got this IN using a crane during the restoration but there is NO WAY it is coming out again in one piece!

And of course -
No visit to any Castle is complete without Knights and Armour.

The Armoury, along with the 'Torture Chamber' and Canons in the Keep, were an impressive collection which left me amazed at the lengths to which people would go to destroy an enemy.

Just one last place to Visit 
before we catch the Shuttle to our next stop 
and that was to have Morning Tea in 'The Library'


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Notre Dame - Keeping a Promise

Day Seven:
Notre Dame Cathedral - Strasbourg France

This Grand Lady and I have had an appointment since we first met back in April.  
And That Appointment was with Her Staircase!

There is a sign at a small side door which reads 
330 Marches
66 Meters

Vue Panoramique
entre Vosges et Forêt Noire

And after paying our €5.00 each
we embarked on the 330 steps of the Spiral Stone Staircase 
to the Viewing Platform above.

And somewhere up this staircase - 
My phone rang and the voice said.....
"I presume you are sitting somewhere, relaxing having Coffee!"

No Mum, I can't really chat at the moment - I am half way up a Spiral Staircase heading for the Bell Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral!

A few turns later
(My Mother's phone call had dropped out)

We were confronted with this!

as if we had a choice!

I remember as a Child hearing of Flying Buttresses
and stories of the Great Cathedrals that were supported by them.

And now I had the opportunity to see them Up close.

The secondary function of diverting the water from the roof via (can I say?) 
Gorgeous Gargoyles - These seemed to be Pigs.

It would be something to see them in the Rain!

On reaching the top we exited onto the Viewing platform and out into the Sunshine.

Notre Dame's Original design had 2 Spires but it was decided not to build the second, leaving a conveniently large space on the roof.

(And if anyone can tell  me what they call those Compasses that show far-away cities - I would be grateful!)

They say on a clear day you can see the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains.

It was a bit too hazy for us but we could see all the way to the European Parliament.

The View is not the only spectacular thing you can see up here.

Stonemasons who have worked on the Spire have left their mark for future generations.

Would Ludwig Wirttenberg have had any idea that his words would be read by 1000s of tourists when he inscribed his name on the Spire wall back in 1581?

This is as far as they will let you climb - 

So it is in the small door 
Under the Bells
and on

Down via the Spire's Staircase

330 Steps back to the pavement below

and Very Happy to have Kept this Promise.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Petite France

Day 6 - So Beautiful

In Petite France, the Ill River splits into several channels that cascade through an area which, in the Middle Ages, was home to Tanners, Millers and Fisherman -

It is now a very beautiful part of the Strasbourg Tourist area.

With its Locks ...

(OK .... I couldn't resist that one)

With it's Lochs and Swing bridges 
- tourist boats now cruise the river

Petite France is also home to what has been referred to as 
"The Best Gingerbread Store in all of Strasbourg"

Just don't get there between 12 and 2
or you may, as we did, find the store closed for Lunch!
(which the owners were enjoying at a table set 
with Baguettes and glass or two of Red Wine at the counter)

No Gingerbread for me then....

Thursday, September 21, 2017

That Other Famous Building

Day 5 - European Parliament

Strasbourg is not JUST home to beautiful centuries old Cathedrals and rambling alleyways made of Cobblestones.

Strasbourg is also home to some of the most modern buildings in Europe.

The European Parliament,
The European Court of Human Rights
and The Council of Europe.

Each of the five buildings are named after distinguished European Politicians.

You can reach the Parliament Buildings by Tram
or Cycle along one of the many Bike Paths in the City -
Or take a leisurely stroll from your Hotel
(If it happens to be on 'that side of Town").

Otherwise You can take a Scenic Cruise up the Ill River on one of the Tourist Batorama Boats.  Unfortunately you can't get off the Cruise as it is a 'there and back again' deal.

Walking around the perimeter brought us to the Tram Stop and a view of the controversial 60 mt Tower which has been deliberately left unfinished at the top.

It is not hard to see that the Architects were influenced by Roman Amphitheatres when designing the building.

It is possible to arrange a visit to the European Parliament - or if you happen to be around in May, you can come to the Open Day.