Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saint-Emillion, City Visit

Through Inter'action Bordeaux, I was able to go to a small town outside of Bordeaux, called Saint-Emillion. This city was founded by Emillion after he had performed many miracles in northeast France. He didn't like all the attention he received, so he traveled here and set up house in a cave. He was definitely a hermit, but still blessed the surrounding communities. Saint-Emillion (the town) is known for its wine. The town was named after the man, but he has nothing to do with the wine.

Inside his cave, there is a chair that is said to provide fertility for women. Not sure how that rumor started, and not sure I want to know.

The view of the city from near the bell tower in the next picture. 
There are about 90 permanent residents in the town. 

This bell tower weighs about 2 tons. Below it, the Benedictine monks carved out an underground church. They then sold all the limestone that they dug out and created one of Europe's largest underground churches. 
Recently, they discovered cracks in the ceiling and realized they needed to support the bell tower. Inside, no pictures allowed, there are new pillars installed to help support the tower. 

The planned menu was duck, so I ordered Salade Chevre et Pomme. That is salad with goat cheese and apple slices. It was amazing! There was some kind of green dressing that tasted incredible, I don't even know how to describe it. And the bread and cheese are always wonderful. 
That's Ann-Marie mugging for the picture. 

We went to Saint-Emillion Chateau, which is named after the town, not the saint. 

This distillery is made from cement, instead of the usual steel. The tour guide said that this regulates the temperature of the wine much better than the steel ones, although it is all done electronically. 

The tour guide pouring our wine. 
We tried three red wines here, and I dumped out most of them. 


The town was very cute and quaint. I had a lovely day in Saint-Emillion.

Chateau Dauzac

I went to Chateau Dauzac through the wine association (AOC). This is a wonderful opportunity. Each school week, we can compete to sign up (first come, first served), and those who make the list go to a chateau for just the price of the gas to get there. For those without a car, *ahem* me, it is a great way to see the surrounding area of Bordeaux and the chateaux.

I may be getting a little jaded about the amount of wine that they put in one room at chateaux. 
I've seen a lot of it now. 


The tour guide pouring our wine for tasting. 

We tried three red wines. They were all too strong for me. 


All in all, very nice winery, but not my cup of tea.

Mid-Europe, Day 7 & 8: Budapest

We flew from Munich to Budapest. The alps were beautiful outside the plane window:



When we got to Budapest, we made sure to see the House of Terror, a museum dedicated to the autrocities committed during the Nazi regime. The museum was disturbing and heart-wrenching.

The outside of the House of Terror.
No pictures are allowed inside. 

Candles were lit for the innocent murdered during Hungary's occupation. 

This was our last night in Budapest because our flight to Paris was early the next morning. The flight was nearly painless, as was the train ride back to Bordeaux. We even arrived at a good time, when the trams and buses were still running. So no late night walk home.

This was a wonderful vacation/tourism trip. I am so excited and thankful for all the blessings I have. Europe has been, and continues to be, amazing.

Mid-Europe, Day 6 & 7: Munich

Munich, or M√ľnchen, was a fascinating city. It was mostly destroyed during the world wars, so most of it was rebuilt in the mid 1900s. But they found the plans for the city, and before the war people took pictures of many of the facades of buildings, knowing that they would be destroyed and someday the rebuilding should include all the original touches.

This is for Sarah and her collection. Sadly, I didn't actually buy one. 

An old entrance to the city (rebuilt, of course).

The old Munchen Rathaus, or city hall. 

Alexandra and I joined a free walking tour around the city. The guy was really funny, but I honestly have no idea how much he made up about the buildings and how much was true. So I'll tell the stories he told, as best as I remember them. Just take each with a grain of salt.

The white building in the middle is the new Munchen Rathaus. 
Because of all the rebuilds, the new Rathaus is actually older than the old Rathaus. 

The statue at the top is solid gold, but our tour guide informed us that pulling an Oceans' Eleven wasn't possible because the square is surrounded by surveillance cameras. 

The Rathaus has some sort of animated dance that happens at noon (I think). We missed it, but our tour guide had us all perform the dance and explained how horribly boring the real thing is. 

It may be impossible to see, but there is an iron ball in the frame around the large window on the right. Apparently, when all the rebuilds were being done, the Germans tried to stay as true to the original as possible. 
This building was hit by an Austrian cannon and that ball stuck. When the whole building was destroyed in the world wars, a resident took the ball. When this building was rebuilt, he brought the ball and told them where it went. It has fallen out once and the city put it right back where it belongs. 

The cross on the top of this church is actually facing the wrong direction. 
The story goes:
The devil was flying by one windy, dark night and hit the cross of the church right off the steeple. The clergy saw it but there was no one able to climb the steeple to put it back up (there's no ladder for that). They offered a reward and convinced the town drunk to put it back. He did and climbed back down, but he had put it on facing the wrong direction. The clergy told him he needed to go back up and fix it. He had sobered up at that point, and said, No way. So the cross remains as it was when it was put up incorrectly about fifty years ago. 

The architect of this building was trying to make a name for himself, so he built this church in ten years. While it was still under construction, the devil came in one night and saw that there were no windows. Now he liked a dark church where he could do lots of nasty things. So he made a deal with the architect. If the architect promised not to put in any more windows, he would make the architect's name known to everyone. 
The architect agreed. Ten years later, the devil came back during the day and saw that there was too much light coming in for a church with no windows. Angry, he demanded to know why the architect had put in more windows. 
But the architect fooled the devil that day ten years ago. From the entry, where the devil had stood, none of the windows could be seen. But the day of the deal, all of the windows you see in the picture above were already in place, so the architect had kept his end of the deal. 

The devil was angry for being fooled and left his mark in the entryway of the church. 
Or this may just be the architect's signature touch. Your choice on what to believe. 

A pretty street. 

The golden stones here tell a story from World War II. 
At that time, there was a plaque dedicated to false heroes of the Nazi army. The men that were "honored" by the plaque were actually against Hitler and were killed in cold blood in the street behind where this picture was taken. 
When Hitler was in power, soldiers were posted at the plaque and anyone who walked by had to salute like the Nazis to honor the dead's dedication to the Nazi Party. The Germans hated this because they knew it was wrong, so they started turning down this side street in defiance, where they wouldn't have to salute the Nazi Party. 
The soldiers figured it out and started posting soldiers halfway down this alley and would beat the people who walked down there. The Germans continued to walk this side street in defiance. 

The left side of this building is where that plaque is located. 

Residenz

A cute waterfall in the park. 


Chinesischer Turm
A brewery in the park. 


A pretty church we found while looking for the metro entrance. 

The BMW offices. 

The Olympic tower from the 1972 Olympics. 
These Olympic games are probably most known for the massacre that occurred. 

The Olympic stadium. 


Hofbrauhaus brewery. 


Hofbrau Original
"refreshing, fine bitter - a beer with character" 7.30 euro per liter
I got half a liter because I don't really like beer. But this was excellent. I actually liked a beer!!

If you're curious about some of their other beers, here's part of the menu:


Delicious!

Munich was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. Although there aren't many true historical buildings left, the rebuild is amazing and the stories are wonderful. If you go, I hope you get a tour guide with as much flair for entertainment as ours did.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mid-Europe, Day 4, 5 & 6: Salzburg

Salzburg, the city of The Sound of Music. Alexandra was especially excited to see this city. I wasn't super pumped about it, but I was willing to do the touristy thing and explore with her. I fell in love with The Sound of Music, though. We watched it the night we got there, the hostel shows it every day at 7pm. Many of the scenes come alive when walking through Salzburg, although much of the movie was shot in LA.


Residenzgalerie on the right and the side of Dom, a church. 

Inside Residenzgalerie. 

Residenzplatz

Untersberg mountain in the Alps.


We took this thing up the Untersbergbahn. 


I had fries at the top of Untersberg mountain!


The sight from the start of the cable car journey. 

Festung Hohensalzburg, a castle on the top of the hill that held prisoners way back when. 

The view from the castle. 

Creepy marionettes inside the castle's marionette museum. 

They look like half mutilated dolls strung up. 

Very cool, old-school telephone operator set up. 

An old space heater!

This is in Domplatz. For a second I thought that someone had climbed up on the sphere, 
but he's just a statue. 

Excellent tofu yellow curry. 

The entrance to Mirabellgarten, where the children with Maria run on their first day of freedom. 

Part of the garden. 

This, we believe, is the fountain the kids and Maria ran around in their adventures. 


Yes, that is me being Maria!

Beautiful night view, on the top of the hill on the right is Festung Hohensalzburg. 

Zentrum river at night. 

We were able to look through Amadeas Mozart's birth house. 

This was his mother's kitchen. 

That very fuzzy violin was a gift to Mozart when he was four years old, after playing his first piece in front of the queen (if I remember correctly). 

Mozartplatz, dedicated to the musical genius after his death. 

The real Herr Georg Ritter von Trapp, the man that The Sound of Music was based on. 

Naval uniform of Corvette Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp. For reals!

Inside Dom. 

This is the stadium where the real von Trapp family sang before escaping, 
also where the movie was filmed for that scene. 

The nunnery where Maria lived before becoming a nanny to the von Trapp family. 

This is the gate that the children went to when they went to see Maria. 

I loved Salzburg and recommend it to anyone who even remotely likes The Sound of Music. If you do go, be sure to get the Salzburg Card at the tourism office. You can get one for 20-something euros that lasts 24 hours or one for 30-something that lasts 48 hours. It was definitely worth it! The cable car we took to the top of the mountain to see the alps was 25 euros alone. Each museum was about ten euros. If you're planning on going anywhere around Salzburg, this card is wonderful.