Tag Archives: churches

New Year, New Countries

Happy 2013 friends! I hope you got to enjoy some relaxation and time with favorites. J and I took off on the road to see more of Europe. We spent Christmas Eve in Munich, Germany, Christmas in Austria, drove through Lichtenstein to Switzerland on J’s birthday, and France on the way home. As busy as that sounds, it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations imaginable! No flights to crazy cities, no coordinating schedules, no hurrying at all. Just a week and a half together (that’s like 280 hours of uninterrupted A & J time!) doing and going where the breeze took us.

First up: Munich (or München in German..important when you’re driving and looking for ‘Munich’ signs that aren’t there). The city’s motto is “Munich likes you.” It seemed like the cleanest city we’d ever seen. The Marienplatz (their central square) was filled with Christmas market booths and drinkers at 11am. We took a walking tour of the city since we heard such great reviews about it – ‘best walking tour in Europe.’ It lived up to its name. And free…bonus points.

Marienplatz, Munich, Germany more Spaß after the jump

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Ypres: Ee-pruh, like Oprah

So, we have this book. It was a wedding gift from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. A travel book for the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) and our plan is to highlight everything we mark off and keep notes in it, so that it’s completely filled and then when we head back to the states, we can give it back to them along with a book from another area of the world and say ‘ tag. you’re it.’ Wouldn’t that be fun?!

Totally. So, Sunday we opened said book to a random page. Ypres, Belgium. Never heard of the town in our lives. Let’s go!

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Driving up, it felt like any ole country suburb. Then we got to the gates. A brick wall lining the city. Like back in the day, with a moat and everything. Once you entered the city, the entire town had the same medieval feel.. complete with ponies (ok, they’re rides for the Christmas market, but still).

Christmas market in Ypres, BelgiumYpres is known for its horrendous battles, the worst being WWI. Every last bit of the city was torn to shreds. They rebuilt it from the original plans, so its a fairly new old town (props to the travel book for the info). There are war monuments and cemeteries on many corners, the biggest being the Menin Gate that that the British built in the city.

Menin Gate in Ypres, BelgiumMenin Gate memorial in Ypres, BelgiumMenin Gate memorial in Ypres, BelgiumMenin Gate memorial in Ypres, BelgiumYpres, BelgiumYpres, BelgiumSt. Martin's Cathedral in Ypres, BelgiumAnd this just clicked in our heads, the British gave the rose window at St. Martin’s Cathedral as a gift too.. There’s some sort of love affair going on with Britain and Ypres.

Ypres, BelgiumYpres, Belgiumphoto-3photo 2The center of the town and skyline are dominated by Lakenhalle – or the Cloth Hall, one of the largest commercial buildings from the middle ages. The complex includes a 70m belfry that is one of the 56 inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was built to keep watch for threats to the town. Oh, and was tall enough to throw cats from. Really. The thing was used to throw cats from the top, and now they celebrate the tradition every three years (now using stuffed animals).. makes sense.

Christmas market in Ypres, BelgiumWe’re crossing things off Mr. and Mrs. Smith.. Get ready!

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Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium

A Walk in Brussels

So, as winter approaches we find the days getting shorter and colder. The leaves have all changed colors and fallen, and we’ve had our first snow of the year this past weekend. It all makes us think back just a few weeks when we had blue skies and we could take a walk through the city in a light sweater. We had started out from our apartment to see the Grand Place and were pleasantly surprised at what we found along the way.

Eglise Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, Brussels, Belgium

Our first discovery was the Place Royale and the Eglise Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg. The Church dominates the cobblestone square, and the steps was the site that the first King of the Belgians took his oath.. Probably since its right around the corner from the palace. Makes everyone come to him, man, being a king must be nice. There’s also a pretty nice view of the Hôtel de Ville with the Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur in the background.

Hotel de Ville, Brussels, BelgiumEglise Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, Brussels, BelgiumBrussels, BelgiumBrussels, BelgiumBrussels, Belgium
We finally catch a close-up glimpse of the Hôtel de Ville as we round a corner and make our way down a tiny narrow street to land on the Grand Place. They somehow packed a bunch of different architectural styles onto this public square and made it into one of Europe’s most popular, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

IMG_0245Grand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, BelgiumGrand Place, Brussels, Belgium
And on our way home we find Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock… Great walk.

Tintin art in Brussels, Belgium

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Lovely Luxembourg

Oh, Luxembourg. You and your gorgeous views.

Saturday, we set off to the East to check out Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. It’s full on fall here and as we were driving through the trees with their every autumn shade showing off, we passed an exit sign for Paris. Oui. We live in an area of the world where there are exit signs for Paris, France. Man, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in our two years here!

We spent the day walking through the cobblestoned streets, checking out the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Grand Ducal Palace and the Casemates du Bock.







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Filed under // Day Trips, Luxembourg