Do You Want to Get Away?

Remember that airline slogan? That is definitely the feeling that we’ve been having lately and today we are finally getting that opportunity. We leave later today to start our trip to Carlsbad, California, which is a located about 30 miles north of San Diego. It will be our first time visiting this city on the coast and we are certainly looking forward to some relaxing days exploring what the area has to offer.

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Sitting on the Tarmac During a Previous Flight

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Looking Forward to the Beach

Sunsets on the beach will certainly be on our itinerary and we are looking forward to enjoying some fresh seafood as well. There is a railway system that runs between the coastal towns and San Diego, so getting into the city to see some of the sights there should be easy to do in addition to seeing Carlsbad. We look forward to sharing images from our trip while we are there, but forgive us if we aren’t consistent with our posts.

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Looking Forward to Walking on the Beach

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Looking Forward to a Pacific Ocean Sunset

 

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Koblenz, Germany

Taking a train from Frankfurt to Koblenz was one of the most memorable trips during our time in Germany. The city spans both sides of the Rhine River and is situated where the Rhine meets the Moselle River. There are many sights to see when visiting Koblenz, but the highlights are the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the German Corner, and Schloss Stolzenfels. There is also an interesting statue that depicts the 2000 year history of the city, but even without all of these places, just walking along the Rhine would make visiting Koblenz worthwhile.

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Clock Tower at Dusk

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Old Town Plaza

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Twin Towers on the Church

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Statue

In order to get to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, you take a cable car across the river to the top of the hillside where the fortress stands. The fortress is definitely interesting to see, but the views of the city are absolutely spectacular. Seeing the German Corner from the top of the hillside is even more impressive than just walking it at ground level. It is the spot where the Rhine and Moselle meet and has a park and a large statue of William I, the first emperor of Germany, riding a horse.

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The German Corner from the Fortress

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Cargo Ships on the Rhine River

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The Fortress from Across the River

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Fortress Walls

Schloss Stolzenfels is just outside of the city, but definitely worth taking a taxi to see. It is located in a large park with walking trails and sits high atop a hill that overlooks the river below. It is possible to take a tour of the castle, but there were none in English at the time that we visited. Also, be sure to have a number of a taxi driver with you as you can’t guarantee that there will be one in the area after you visit the castle, at least not during October when we were there.

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Looking Up at the Castle

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Walking Around the Castle

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Standing on the Castle Wall

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Beautiful Autumn Colors

There are plenty of restaurants and hotels to choose from, but one of our favorite places to eat was at the Einstein Café where they served a rather extensive buffet brunch with paintings of Einstein all around the room. Perhaps because it was one of the first places that we visited during our time in Germany, Koblenz will always have a special place in our hearts. It certainly didn’t hurt that the scenery was so beautiful at that time of the year.

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Historic Buildings Along the Rhine

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Statue of William I in the German Corner

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Old Town Koblenz

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View Along the Rhine

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Tomb in the Fortress

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Statue Depicting 2000 Years of History

 

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Pork Chops with Plum Sauce

One of the things that we enjoy when we travel is tasting all of the different ways that places use seasonal fruit with wild game. Although pork isn’t game food like the elk, duck, or goose, it does stand up to bold flavors like the food that we find during our travels. This isn’t an Asian plum sauce, but an actual reduction made with this seasonal fruit. We chose to make this with thick-cut pork chops, but it could just as easily be done with a pork tenderloin as well. It is certainly the type of meal that can be served for a holiday or special occasion, but it also works for a weekday meal as well. As usual, this recipe serves two, but it can easily be increased for more.

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Plum Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Large Pork Chops – about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • 2 tsp Fresh Ginger – peeled and grated
  • 1 Orange
  • 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 4 sprigs Fresh Mint
  • 3 Plums – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Dried Rosemary – chopped
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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Seasonal Ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS

Using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, remove the zest of the orange into wide strips. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a medium sauce pan and add the zest. Heat the sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar, honey, and beef stock and whisk the ingredients together. Add the mint and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the plums and continue to cook until the plums are soft, adding the butter after about 10 minutes.   Continue to cook for about another 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove the mint, season with salt, and keep warm while the pork is cooked. Season both sides of the pork chops, which should be at room temperature, with the garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops in the skillet until browned and cooked to the desired doneness, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place the pork chops onto plates and spoon sauce over the top. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

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Seared Pork Chop

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Whisk

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Simmer Plums Until Sauce Thickens

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Pork Chop with Plum Sauce

 

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Everyone Loves a Historic Castle

In just about every city in Europe it seems that you will find a palace, cathedral, and a castle. Obviously, these fortifications were an important defense system for the local citizens and for the country as a whole. Although many of them are in various states of disrepair, a majority of them have been restored to their original grandeur. Regardless of their condition, travelers flock to these grand locations and some of them have even been converted into hotels. A few of them have that fairytale feel that create images of princesses meeting their prince charming, but conditions were likely not nearly as nice as the romantic images of films and books.

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Lowenburg Castle in Kassel, Germany

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Prague Castle Complex from the Bridge

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Bran Castle (Castle Dracula)

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Heidelberg Castle

Although we certainly have many more castles to visit, we have enjoyed seeing the ones that we have. Just like choosing a favorite location isn’t really possible, we aren’t able to pick our favorite castle. Could it be the first castle we ever visited, Warwick Castle in England, or could it be Bran Castle in Romania with its ties to Dracula? Perhaps Heidelberg Castle in Germany would be our favorite with its idyllic scenery? The Alhambra Palace and Fortress is also something special to see with its Islamic architecture. Whether you have a favorite castle or not, it is likely that you have seen many of them during your travels. Maybe our favorite will be the next one that we discover on a future trip.

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Castillo de Alhambra

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Warwick Castle Turret

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Kilkenny Castle in Ireland

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Schloss Stozenfels in Koblenz, Germany

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Nuremberg Castle

 

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Strasbourg, France – Medieval Charm

With historic streets lined with timber framed buildings, Strasbourg is a beautiful city that will transport you back in time. Sitting on the border of France and Germany, the city has been under the control of both nations at different times in it’s history, but it maintains a uniquely independent nature. Strasbourg is also the largest city in Alsace and it is the official seat of the European Parliament.

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Buildings Along the Canal

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The Tower of the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg

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Decorated for the Holidays

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Medieval Architecture

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Sunset in Strasbourg

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg dominates the skyline of the city and its tower made it the tallest building in the world for hundreds of years. Although less famous than the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, it is a beautiful example of the classic Gothic architecture. In addition to the stained glass windows and religious artwork, the cathedral also houses an astronomical clock that was built in the 1800’s. The current clock is the third to be built in the cathedral and is as fascinating as the one that can be found in Prague.

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Inside the Cathedral

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Astronomical Clock

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Gothic Architecture

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Stained Glass Windows

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The Cathedral Tower Can Be Seen for Miles

Without a doubt, the highlight of visiting Strasbourg is simply walking the streets of the old town and seeing the medieval architecture. Sitting on the Rhine river, there are many canals within the city and we would certainly recommend taking a river sight-seeing tour of Strasbourg to gain a different perspective. Although not as ornate as the cathedral, St. Thomas’ Church in the heart of old town is just as fascinating with its clock tower and unique architecture.

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Courtyard in Old Town

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River Boat Tour

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View from a Bridge

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Timber Framed Buildings

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Walking the Streets

There are many options for dining in Strasbourg as well, whether you are in the mood for classic French cuisine or would prefer some authentic German dishes. If you are a fan of wine, you won’t be disappointed as the city is close to the start of the Wine Road of Alsace with many vineyards in the region. Even if you don’t drive down the entire route, it is certainly worth going for a wine tasting while you are in the area.

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Holiday Spirit

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Sidewalk Artwork

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Palais Rohan

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Cathedral Sculptures

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Classic Gothic Window

Obviously, there are many towns that maintain their medieval architecture, but Strasbourg is certainly one of the prettiest. We happened to visit during the holiday season and many of the various shops and hotels were adorned with elaborate, festive decorations. Regardless of the time of year, you should expect large crowds of tourists in the area, but especially during the summer when people flock to the area because of the wine road.

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The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo

 

No visit to Cairo, Egypt would be complete without making time to tour the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. As with many other sites in Egypt, having an Egyptologist as a guide is extremely helpful if you want to learn as much as possible during your time in the museum. There are so many items on display within the museum that it can be quite overwhelming. In addition to the sarcophaguses, papyrus hieroglyphs, and pieces of art, there are several dramatic statues housed within the museum.

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Museum Center Hall

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Sarcophagus

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Sphynx Statue

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Enormous Statues

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Pyramid

Obviously, much of the treasures of Egypt can be found in museums throughout the world including the British Museum and the Smithsonian Museum. Even if you have visited one of these other museums and seen the treasures, such as the golden articles found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb, it is certainly worth going to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. Seeing these artifacts on display in their own country is certainly a source of national pride for Egypt. For years, they have been trying to reacquire as many of the treasures and statues as they possibly can.

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Papyrus Hieroglyphs

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Beautiful Artwork

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On the Museum Grounds

 

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Elaborate Casket

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Unique Statue

To truly enjoy and see a majority of the museum will take you the majority of a full day. At the very least, you should plan on about four hours and that will likely be at a fairly brisk pace.

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Figurines Featuring Daily Life

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So Many Statues

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Papyrus Art

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Details Carved in Stone

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Not the Rosetta Stone

 

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Walking on Fallen Leaves

During autumn, when the leaves begin to fall, we love taking walks among the fallen leaves. Especially when there is a slight breeze and the leaves fall all around you. If the leaves are dry, the soft crunch as you walk along the trail or sidewalk makes for a relaxing background noise. It can be very colorful seeing all of the leaves spread all across the ground. It is no wonder that it is something that we revisit again and again in our photographs as it invokes such strong memories both visually as well as with the other senses. When looking at photographs like these, it is almost as if you can feel the breeze, smell the autumn air, and even hear the rustling of the leaves overhead.

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Tree Lined Sidewalk

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Entrance to a Castle Covered in Leaves

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Leaves in a Park in Warwick

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Cool Temperatures and Fallen Leaves

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Colorado Trail

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Walking Along the Rhine River

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Leaves Blowing on the Sidewalk

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Leaves Beneath the Trees

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Do You Ever Go Back to the Same Location?

One of the challenges for people who love traveling is deciding between going someplace new versus going back to someplace visited before. At first, it seems like a pretty straight forward decision, why not go someplace where you’ve never been? On the other hand, there are definite reasons for going back to a location. If we could travel as often as we wanted, we would do a mix of both as we always love seeing new places, but there are many places that we wish we would have had more time to see or would like to see it at a different time of year.

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Eiffel Tower in Autumn

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Pyramid of Khafre

Clearly, going someplace new is always exciting and interesting. There can, however, be some challenges when traveling someplace new such as visa requirements, learning some of the language, having to research travel and accommodations, etc. Excitement can also mean anxiety about the unknown and, depending upon where you are going, uncertainty about safety. What if you choose the wrong part of town to stay in, which of the multitude of things to see should you prioritize, whose information do you trust? With all of that said, that is what creates the adrenaline and anticipation that we truly enjoy.

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Ronda, Spain

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Iceland

There are few places that we’ve visited that we haven’t at least once said that we hoped to go back to. There are also some places that we have gone to more than once and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Even after only a single visit, returning to those places has a sense of familiarity that is calming. The time during the returning trip seems much more relaxed as there isn’t the sense that you have to rush to see every possible sight as you’ve seen many of them before. It almost like seeing an old friend that you’ve missed for a few years. Paris is one of those places that we have been to more than once and would return to several times again.

 

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View of the Quilotoa Caldera and Lagoon in Ecuador

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Sunset and the Acropolis

Unfortunately, we don’t have unlimited resources or time to travel to every place that we would like. Our next trip is in a couple of weeks to Carlsbad, California, a place that we haven’t been to before. If we had to choose only one option, we suppose that we would choose going to someplace new, but we are certainly glad that we don’t have to limit our choice. If you had to make a choice, which would you choose?

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Temple on Sun Island with Moon Island in the Distance on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

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Tangiers

 

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Driving on the Wine Road Outside of Strasbourg

We truly enjoyed our time in Strasbourg and, even though it was after the vineyards had been harvested, we also enjoyed driving on part of the wine road. There is something beautiful about seeing all of the vines lined up in rows, but perhaps that is just because of the thought of the wines that they produce. Although there are certain regions that are synonymous with growing the grapes that produce excellent wines, these days you can find vineyards almost anyplace and they are definitely worth visiting. When you meet the people who run these vineyards, you appreciate the passion that they have for the grapes that they grow and wines that they produce. Alsace is definitely proud of the wines produced in the region and we tasted several wonderful varieties. Doing a full tour of the entire wine road is definitely something that we hope to do some day in the future.

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Grape Vines Covering the Hillsides

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Village Nestled in the Valley

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Another View of the Village

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Rows of Grape Vines

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Must be Beautiful in Summer

 

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Altstadt Frankfurt, Germany

One of our favorite places in Frankfurt was the old town or Altstadt and we spent many afternoons there during our time there. Frankfurt has a reputation for being a very modern city and is considered the Manhattan of Germany, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still have some historic charm. Although many of the historical buildings were not rebuilt after World War II as they were in many other cities in Germany, the old town area still has some wonderful buildings that are hundreds of years old.

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Historic Building

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Old Town Plaza

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View from the Pub

Not surprisingly, the heart of the old town area is a courtyard with a wonderful fountain. Just like the hearts of most of old towns, this was a gathering place for everyone in the city and it is certainly still true today. During the festival season, the courtyard gets transformed into a bustling market with plenty of vendors selling food, drinks, and a variety of products.

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Vendor Setting Up

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Along the River

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Walking into the Courtyard

There are some traditional restaurants around the courtyard where you can certainly get your fill of schnitzel, bratwurst (or other wursts), sauerkraut, beer, and wine. Our favorite little pub called Alten Limpurg was also located in the plaza and we became friends with all of the staff there. Like many places in Europe, people can be found sitting at tables on the patios outside of the restaurant throughout the year, with heat lamps providing warmth during the cold winter months.

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Our Favorite Spot

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Plaza Fountain

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Enjoying a Pint

The old town in Frankfurt is also just a few steps away from the Main River where you can go for a walk along the river, get a tour on a sightseeing ship, or just sit on one of the benches and people watch. It is hard to believe that is has been two years since we moved to Frankfurt for a while and one of the things that we miss most about living there was our time in the old town plaza. If you want to get away from the historic feel of old town, the heart of the modern shopping area is also within walking distance.

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View Across the River

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The Modern City

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Another Little Pub

The town hall is also located in the old town plaza and one of our favorite memories was seeing wedding ceremonies take place there. The people would come out of town hall dressed in their wedding attire and celebrate with all of the people in the plaza. One of our favorite weddings concluded with the bride and groom climbing onto an old tractor to be whisked off to their reception. We really felt as if we were one of the locals.

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Wedding Procession

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Another Beautiful Building

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Food at a Festival

 

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