Monday, 2 December 2013

My autumn trip around Europe

Strasbourg Cathedral viewed from Raven's Bridge

I finished the last post saying I'm going on vacation till the end of October, and now, between a full hard drive, a broken computer and an unexpected kitten wreaking havoc in my house, I realise it's been a month since I returned and I didn't even drop a word to say I'm alive and well. Time to fix that! This post is loaded with pretty autumn pictures, some of them are larger than usual and clickable ("open in new tab" for collages). I'll leave the crafts for another time, now let's look at travel photos!

Autumn in my country is usually kind of ugly. You know, like the meme. We wanted to escape.

"Other cities" exist. I'll show you.

When we planned our trip, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful autumn colours we never see around here. France was our destination, because we have many connections there. We visited Strasbourg, Paris and Orleans. Our first stop was in Bucharest though. The capital of Romania doesn't have a lot to offer to tourists, but there is a certain charm once you get to know it.

Bucharest downtown

Strasbourg is a whole different city. It's small and tidy and historical monuments are well preserved. We were delighted to see bright green grass along yellowing trees.

Republique Plaza, Strasbourg

This amazing greenery that lasts for the most part of the year is possible due to underground waters being very close to the surface in that region. The abundance of water makes for effortless lawns, even under train tracks.

Tram near the European Parliament

The watery terrain is also responsible for their lopsided cathedral. I realize now I didn't take any good pictures of the exterior in daylight this year, but it's even creepier in the dark.

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg

We stayed in the historical district Petite-France (literally "little France", a place where merchants and travelleres from all over the country gathered). We had an adorable neighbour:

There is a beautiful covered bridge which we passed by almost every day. It underwent restoration for a long time and it was finally open.

Views to and from the Covered Bridge

On the other side of the bridge we caught a beautiful sunset over the Museum of Modern Art:

The rest of Petite-France has many water channels and folding houses:

Most of the sightseeing is done along the river L'Ill and its channels.

This fountain stopped working after heavy rains. We got lucky and caught it:

St. Paul's church (still under restoration):

Sunset near the European Parliament:

Further from the river banks is the biggest park, Orangerie.

Josephine's pavilion

Some beautiful church nearby:

The mild climate means that the trees take their time to get rid of their foliage. The resulting colours are breathtaking.

Autumn colours in Strasbourg and neighbouring German town Kehl

Kehl can be reached from Strasbourg by a common bus line. It's very convenient to go shopping there, because the prices in Germany are usually much lower! In addittion to the bus, there is a beautiful park, "Jardin des deux rives", with a pedestrian bridge over the Rhin connecting the two countries.

Yup, that's a kid climbing the ropes

 Back to Strasbourg, the city is beautiful even when the lights are out and all the pretty leaves are hidden.

Kleber plaza

Even though their symbol is the stork, we spotted many kitties too.

The darling with the red yarn in the top photo went home with us

It was the first time we saw Strasbourg in fall and we left extremely pleased.

Next stop - Paris! We stayed in the Belleville neighbourhood, where we discovered the beautiful Belleville park. The first four pictures in the collage below are of the park and one of its lovely inhabitants. We spotted the Eiffel Tower from a high terrace.

Parks of Paris

We walked by the Eiffel Tower, but due to the long queue, we can never make up our minds to climb on it when there is just so much to see!

The different faces of the Eiffel tower

We didn't plan to go to any museums this year, but we crossed into the inner court of Invalides Palace, which holds a weaponry exhibition.

Invalides at night

They have a beautiful chapel in there:

We were persuaded to visit Rodin Museum's garden (accessible for free). I love Impressionists and it was nice to discover Rodin's most famous works displayed for free outside:

I'm turning 26 this year so we took advantage of my last chance to get free museum admittance in the EU and rushed through Louvre (so much for the "no museums" schedule, eh?). It was our first time and even with all the signs and guides, it was exhausting. We began with the Egyptian antiquities.

Egyptian kitty statues in Louvre

Then we looked for some classic and Renaissance sculptures.

A hall with sculptures, Louvre

We looked at a few paintings until the smell made me sick then got lost in the Primitive Arts on our way out. That was all.

The surrounding Tuileries Gardens are beautiful year round.

I love how the small arch in front of Louvre is aligned with the big Victory Arch:

The two arches with the skinny Egyptian monument in Vendome Plaza in the middle

A third arch, the modern Defence, is further on the same line, but we didn't reach it this time. Here is the Victory Arch up close:

All this time we wandered around on foot. I think the beautiful sights are worth all the numb toes.

St Genevieve's church

Intricate designs are hidden inside the ordinary exterior:

Walking along the Seine...

Eiffel Tower and Alexander III bridge

The Alexander III bridge again, with Invalides Palace peeking in the corner:

We roamed through the many narrow steep streets of Montmartre. To be honest, I have no idea where I took this photo, but it's a similar view.

Um... somewhere in Paris?

Up on the hill is the beautiful Sacre-Coeur church:

The clouds sided with me for a nice background

Breathtaking by day and by night:

Sacre-Coeur "Sacred Heart" church, Paris

The afternoon sun played with the big stained glass windows and cast colourful patterns on the columns. It was a wonderful mix of solemn aged stone, bright blue and gold painting, warm sunlight, dim candles, and cold purples and blues with blood red dots from the windows. I entered the church not knowing they don't allow photography inside (so unfair, right?) and my camera whites were still set to "cloudy sky". Much photoshopping was required to restore the blue, please appreciate my effort...

Sunlight shining through stained glass windows at Sacre-Coeur

A few steps from the church, Montmartre opens a view upon all Paris. We recognized many buildings, of course, the Eiffel Tower is the easiest to find.

Top: day and night, the Eiffel Tower is beautiful
Bottom: terrace with a view to Paris and side stairs descending from Montmartre

It is impossible to see everything in one short trip. We got the most from Paris and left the screeching subways and flashing lights on Eiffel Tower for the quiet city of Orleans.

This is a nice small city an hour away from Paris. The historical centre is busier, but outside the main street it's very peaceful.

View from the central plaza, Orleans

Of course, they have a statue of Joan of Arc.

Not far away is the Sainte-Croix Cathedral ("Saint Cross"). It's not the same building where Joan of Arc went, but it's still old.

It is beautifully framed by neat buildings on a wide street.

The rest of the city is mostly comprised of narrow streets with old-timey pavement and houses.

Even though I was dead tired that day, I'm pretty sure the whole city is small enough to be explored in a couple of hours on foot. The wide river Loire is where the liveliest neighbourhoods end. I liked this city and hope to return there some time.

It was a beautiful vacation altogether and the hardest part of writing this post was to choose less than 50 images, because everything was really beautiful and worth sharing. If I managed to show a fresh view of these famous places, or to inspire some of you to visit them, the hours of sorting pictures were not in vain.

Such an eventful trip made us return with luggage packed beyond its capacity :) Whether there was space inside for new dolls, you'll find out in the next post!

The Black Kitty

Edit 9/12/2013: Added the pedestrian bridge. How could I miss it!


  1. Wow. It sound like you really had a wonderful vacation. I am sorry to hear what happened when you got home but at least you had a nice time while away.

    1. I certainly did! Well, now the computer is fixed, the kitten is sleeping on my shoulder. At least it's not as bad as last year when we found the freezer in a sticky pool with its contents melted and refrozen. Thanks for the visit!

  2. Oh, what a lovely adventure and post! I spent a long loooong time drooling over all the pictures (and btw, amazing pics! Also love the collages and kitties). Your beautifully written text and great descriptions made me feel like I was there too! Thanks a lot for sharing, I hope to see more trip posts in the future. ^__^

  3. Ah, was almost forgetting! Merry Christmas to you and your family! :D

    1. Merry Christmas to you too! I'm glad you enjoyed my trip. Who knows, maybe you'll get to see it all in person?

    2. Yes, maybe! It would be awesome. =) Sorry for taking so long to answer, I wasn't notified of the answer and ended up getting distracted with other things. ^^'


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