Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekend Away: Strasbourg and Colmar

We spent a recent long weekend in Strasbourg, which is less than three hours away from our home. We'd been to Strasbourg once before, back in 2010. We stayed in the same Hotel Ibis both times (they have reasonable prices and allow pets). That was our home base, and we day-tripped to nearby Colmar. It took us about ten hours (give or take 8 hours) to get into town to the hotel and find a parking space in one of the garages. Saturday afternoon was super-busy due to major January sales all across France, and our hotel is attached to a mall!

Once we got settled in, we walked for about ten minutes and arrived at the famous Cathedral. The Boy kept wanting to climb to the top again, but we didn't get around to doing that. Plus, it was too cold!

Here we are (three out of four), having a bit of fun outside an adorable brasserie across from the Cathedral. We ate dinner at another traditional Alsatian place a couple of doors down. Ho-hum food but "maximum quaintness" (Audrey, European Vacation).

On Sunday, we took a local train to Colmar. It was our first time there, if you don't count a 30-minute drive-through back in 2010.

Colmar is so terribly photogenic.

Pretty cute, non?

We couldn't resist stopping for lunch in this café. More adorableness and quaintness. I want one of those enamel pots!

We didn't try any of those huge macarons, but we did have some apple cake and a piece of a fab lemon tart.

I'll be back soon with more Colmar pics--I took quite a few!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mussels from Brussels

A couple of days after Christmas, we drove just over two hours to the outskirts of Brussels, to visit dear friends we knew in Japan. They have just recently moved to Europe. Can you believe they are living in part of a carriage house on this estate? It's every bit as amazing as it looks!

We enjoyed catching up around their big open fireplace. All the kids showed off their fire-tending skills.

A metro station is just a few minutes' drive from their house. On our second day there, we all took the metro into the city and immediately stopped off at a fantastic international Christmas market. We couldn't stop gawking at this incredibly-creative carousel there.

This little girl appeared very pensive as she rode atop the ship. I hope she enjoyed herself more than she let on.

We lingered in the market for quite some time, in large part due to the fact that we managed to stop for something to eat from a different little hut about every five minutes. Here are the mussels we shared--they were fragrant and full of garlicky flavor. Notice the glove and mittens on the table--it was cold, cold! That didn't stop our five kids from going ice-skating in the outdoor rink, though. 

We finally made it to the famous Grand Place, the large square in the center of town. Our friends bought some chocolate from this Neuhaus shop and were generous enough to share with us. Hooray for Belgian chocolate!

Look closely.

So many kinds of mussels, so little time!

You didn't think we'd go to Brussels sans intrepid canine companion, did you? Hopefully we'll visit again soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Edinburgh: A Miscellany

Okay, so here are the rest of the photos I wanted to share from our trip in December:

Apartment breakfasts, chocolate soup, our name everywhere, Adam Smith, fried Mars Bars (insanely good!), Harry Potter, Scottish Reform, Neoclassical architecture, thistles, and a big wheel--see you again, beautiful Edinburgh!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Edinburgh: The Castle

Ah, here we are outside Edinburgh Castle, preparing for our visit! I'll bet you can't tell from the photo that we are half-frozen already. But I guess you can tell it's raining (hello, tartan umbrella!).

Not sure I heart rain, exactly, but I don't necessarily mind it, except when the wind is blowing fiercely and the temperature is hovering around freezing.

The Husband had to stand in line--for a very long time--to buy our tickets. He got bored and took this photo.

This is outside the military museum, which is on the castle grounds. It's pretty cool. It's one of the first things we visited, and The Girl didn't want to leave (note: indoors, with heating).

Outside the museum, you can see a royal dog cemetery, some of the castle wall, and a nice view of Edinburgh.

Imagine firing this thing!

After several bone-chilling hours spent seeing a number of things we didn't photograph, due in part to the weather conditions (did I mention it was cold?), we're leaving the Castle. Despite the chill, it was all quite impressive.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Edinburgh: Victoria Street and The Grassmarket

Ah, back in Edinburgh. Here we are in the Old Town--these streets are just south of Edinburgh Castle.

I love how doors and woodwork are often brightly-painted in Edinburgh--such a lovely way to offset all the local stone that gives the city so much of its character.

Part of that purple exterior on the right is the front of Howie's. We tried to eat there (and in their other Edinburgh location nearby), but we were turned away both times due to large holiday party bookings.

No matter. We had lunch a few doors down at Oink instead. The people at Howie's recommended it, and I'd already read good things about it, anyway. And let me tell you, it was good. The friendly guys who work there said that all they do is salt a whole pig and roast it--they bring the roasted pig from the restaurant's farm each morning, and when they run out of pig, they close for the day. Oh, and that's all they serve--roasted-pig sandwiches, with your choice of haggis or sage-onion stuffing inside, and chili relish and pork cracklings atop, if you want them--and you do. The sandwiches are inexpensive and huge, and we pronounced them delicious--with haggis! The Boy ate his alongside a non-alcoholic ginger beer, his favorite drink while in Edinburgh.

This view looks toward the street/area known as The Grassmarket.

Here are the kids, hamming it up inside the incredible, stuffed-to-the-gills second-hand shop Armstrong's. It's visible (barely) in the photo above this one. I found a wonderful vintage green tweed coat there, but I didn't have room to bring it home on the plane (after all, we flew RyanAir), and I probably didn't really need it anyway. I guess. 

This photo was taken a day or two before the others, in The Grassmarket at a little cafe that should definitely be known more for its Castle view than for its cuisine. It was very cold, rainy, and windy on this afternoon, though, and we were just happy to rest our feet and ingest warm, cheap soup and baked potatoes. Speaking of the Castle, I'll share more about it in my next post!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Edinburgh: Our 'Hood

Happy New Year to you! We're getting back into some semblance of a routine following a delightful winter break, spent half at home and half away--a perfect mix. We enjoyed the first five days of the break in Edinburgh. We'd never been to Scotland, and I'd been wanting to go for several years, so I was pretty excited about this trip.

We stayed in a wonderful furnished apartment on E. London St. This is the view from the apartment's living room--or maybe the master bedroom. It's hard to say what time it was; it got dark around 3:30 each afternoon. Actually, this photo may have been taken early in the  morning. Husband is an early-riser, even on holiday, and he always enjoys going on little jaunts before the rest of us wake up. He might have taken this before setting out.

He always someone/something photogenic on his walks. He usually manages to find some coffee and a newspaper, too.

Look! It's the site of Conan Doyle's birthplace. He led such an interesting life.

Now for the coffee: Artisan Roast on Broughton St.--some of the best coffee in Edinburgh, supposedly. 

Husband certainly liked it--he bought a bag for us and one for a friend.

Cheeky! This is a reference to The Elephant House, the cute Old-Town Edinburgh coffee shop where J.K. Rowling used to write. The Elephant House is featured at least a couple of times in the Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith (is it okay to mention that I considered stalking him while in Edinburgh? Just kidding! Sort of.). 

More soon from Edinburgh!
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Disclosure Time

  • I may occasionally receive monetary compensation for my recommendation, endorsement, and/or link to certain products and services. In the case of affiliate links, no advertiser will ever directly influence content on this blog. Some links are added based solely on merit, without any compensation whatsoever. Any and all content written on this personal blog is by me, Fairytale Hausfrau.