Hochheim, Germany

Located just couple of hours outside of Frankfurt, we visited Hochheim for a quick day trip from the city. It is a small town surrounded by vineyards and still retains its medieval charm. It was early November and the town was holding its annual festival and market, so it was a lot busier than it normally would have been, but that also made it fun for us. It was a quick train ride from Frankfurt and since we had monthly passes for the train, we simply had to pay a little extra to get to the nearby town.

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Quiet Side Street
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Cookies and Sweets
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Decorative Stall
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Church and Vineyard
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Food to Keep You Warm

After walking up the hill from the train station past the vineyard and the church, we entered the town through its main gate. After walking the quiet streets for a few minutes, we found a nice Italian pizzeria called La Botte to grab some lunch and have a glass of beer and wine. After lunch we continued towards the heart of the town and quickly realized that we had come to Hochheim on the right weekend as the market was in full swing. We certainly weren’t the only ones who had decided to come to Hochheim for the day.

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Entrance to Hochheim
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Italian Restaurant
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Medieval Architecture
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Statue in the Town Square
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Nuts, Popcorn, and Candied Apples

The Hochheim Market has been held since 1484 and is actually considered one of the biggest fairs in Germany. A combination of fair, market, and festival, there was plenty of food, gluhwein, crafts, and rides for the children. It is a seven day festival and market, which happened to just be starting. A banner for the local winery welcomed everyone into the market and it got busier and busier as the day went along. This would be the first of the many markets that we enjoyed during our time in Germany, so it has a special place in our hearts.

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Getting Busy
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Fun for All Ages
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Lining Up for Food
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Squeezing Through the Crowds
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Crowds Starting to Gather

As the sun started going down and the crowds became overwhelming, we decided to find ourselves a pub to grab some dinner and a drink before heading back to Frankfurt. It was a quaint little place with signs from the 40’s and 50’s adorning the walls and ceiling. As with most places that we visited, the people were warm and welcoming, even with the language barriers. It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years to the day since we visited Hochheim. You can read about our initial thoughts about the Hochheim Market here.

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Red and White Gluhwein
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Wurst Anyone?
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Signs Everywhere in the Pub
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So Many Choices
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Banner in Town
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Had to Have Some Local Beer

 

Würzburg, Germany

We truly enjoy getting out of the larger cities and going to some smaller towns, so our trip to Würzburg was a perfect example of that. It has the old-world charm, friendly people, and wonderful food. The Residenz is definitely the largest thing to see when visiting, but just walking the streets of old town is also fascinating. We were there in late November, so the Christmas markets were also going with a wonderful variety of crafts and food on display.

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Wurzburg Residence
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Historic Buildings
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Enjoying the Market

IMGP0721One of the reasons that we like going to a smaller town is that it makes you feel even more like a local as there aren’t usually any other tourists around. This was definitely the case during our time Würzburg as we enjoyed listening to a local band playing holiday music and watched the excitement of the local children as the holiday season kicked off. We even entered a raffle that benefited the local school and actually ended up winning a bottle of wine.

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Local Band
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Historic Church

IMGP0705One of the most interesting facts about Würzburg is that it was the location of the witch trials that occurred in the 1600’s, Germany’s equivalent to Salem, Massachusetts. Unfortunately it was much larger as over 600 accused witches were burnt during the trials. On a happier note, construction began on the Würzburg Residence (Residenz) about a hundred years later, which is now a focal point within the city.

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Musician Near the Market
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Fountain at the Residenz
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Candles and Wreaths for Sale
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Old World Charm

Located almost exactly halfway between Frankfurt and Nuremberg, Würzburg is definitely a wonderful place to spend a couple of days. If you are able to visit during the holiday season, we would recommend it as the town certainly embraces the spirit of the season as the locals come out to celebrate together.

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Stalls in the Market
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Statue Details
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Another Angle of the Church
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People on the Main Street

 

A Magical Day in Tangiers, Morocco

During our trip to southern Spain several years ago, we made a point of making our way across the Strait of Gibraltar to visit Tangiers, Morocco.  We took the high speed ferry from Tarifa (near Gibraltar) to the port of Tangiers, where we were met by our guides to start what would be a truly memorable day and definitely one of the highlights of our entire trip.  Tangiers is a unique African city as it has been the doorway to Europe for centuries and therefore has a varied population, although it is still mostly Muslim.

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Lighthouse on the Coast
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Streets of the Medina
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Market Stall with a Variety of Nuts

We started our day by visiting a neighborhood market, which was extremely busy with locals buying a variety of fresh foods. It is hard to describe the market in Tangiers other than to say that the colors and aromas overtake you at every turn.  There are merchants with spices piled to the ceiling, olives of every possible variety, exotic fruit, butchers with meat on display, and every variety of fish imaginable caught fresh from the Mediterranean Ocean.  As we walked among the merchants, we were given samples of olives, dates, candy, and more.  It was truly a magical experience.  After leaving the market, we were off to the Kasbah or Medina, the fortress and oldest part of the city.

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Various Cuts of Meat
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Fresh Fish on Display
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Vegetable Market

Walking the streets of the Kasbah was like walking back in time.  The cobblestone streets and grand arches led to a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is off the coast of Tangiers where the Mediterranean Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet.  Before we left the Medina, we were treated to our own private performance by a snake charmer.  Having seen snake charmers on TV and movies, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be fascinating as the charmer played his flute and waived his hand in the face of the King Cobra.  We weren’t, however, prepared for what came next as they wrapped a live snake, not a King Cobra fortunately, across our shoulders so that we could take some pictures.

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Walking in the Medina
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Snake Charmer in Morocco
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Entrance to the Medina

From there, we left the city and headed down the coast where we enjoyed gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and a nearby lighthouse.  After a short time, we stopped to ride camels on the shore of the Atlantic.  It was a little touristy, but at the same time, how many people get to say that they’ve ridden camels on the beach.  From there we visited the pre-historic Caves of Hercules, which is a beautiful geological attraction. It is famous because it has an opening in the shape of Africa to looks out onto the ocean.

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Camels on the Beach in Morocco
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Cave of Hercules
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The Coast of Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean

Once we got back to Tangiers, it was time for a late lunch, which was good because we had definitely worked up an appetite.  We had quite the meal in a tiny, family owned, restaurant, that was authentic Moroccan chicken served in a tagine with hot tea.  The food was incredible and the family that served us couldn’t have been any nicer.  After lunch, we were taken to the shops of some local artisans with the hope that we’d buy some authentic Moroccan products.  We visited a spice shop where we did purchase some saffron, cumin, and marjoram at prices you could never find in the States.  At the carpet weaver’s shop, carpets of every description were laid at our feet as we enjoyed some more tea, but as tempted as we were, we decided not to buy one.

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Tajines and Dishes for Sale in Morocco
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Lunch at a Moroccan Restaurant
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Coast of Morocco

Finally, we took the ferry back to Spain and our wonderful day in Morocco came to an end. Although we hope to return to Morocco and spend more than just a day, we were very happy with the day that we did spend there.