Showing posts from December, 2012

NUREMBERG, GERMANY: Christkindlmarkt - A Charmed Time of Year

When most people think of Nuremberg, Germany one thing comes to mind - The Nuremberg Trial . And like most people this too was once my initial thought.   The mention of Nuremberg conjures images of a hardliner and a place with sordid history, not exactly the image of a bucolic serenity of the Bavarian ‘Romantic Road’ we visited the day before. Nuremberg was almost completely obliterated by the Allied Forces during World War II in the Battle of Nuremberg and was rebuilt from scratch.   Today it seemed unscathed by the horrors of war.            It was a little damp when we arrived, and the rain made the rust and brown-colored rooftops glisten, highlighting the medieval aspect of the city.   First, we walked to the Old Town Square to see the Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain), and rub the rings from the fountain gate/fence for good luck.   The ‘Beautiful Fountain’ lived up to its name.   It looked like an elongated metal tiered wedding cake, supported by heavy decorative po

SALZBURG: The Sound of Music Tour

DISCOVERING SALZBURG THROUGH THE SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR Salzburg is small cosmopolitan and a very picturesque city with fascinating architecture, and rich cultural heritage.    As the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg prides itself on being a destination for music.  Every year the Salzburg Festival draws Mozart fans and music lovers in droves.   ‘The Sound of Music” also put Salzburg on the map.   Hellbrunn Alley At first, I was skeptical about taking the Sound of Music Tour because I thought it was cheesy.    This tour turned out to be an excellent way for exploring the region.   The first part of our tour was a drive to Untersberg where the first scenes of the film took place.   The palaces and charming little village homes set against the looming Austrian Alps provided a very picturesque setting throughout this whole drive. The hills were alive indeed!  Our coach drove past Leopoldskron Palace (which was the first view we have of the Von Trapp family in the film).  We did

VIENNA: Sweet Dream

I was famished when we arrived in Vienna so we did not waste time seeking out a place to eat.  We went to the closest restaurant across the main train station.  The first thing I noticed when I entered the restaurant was a display of pastries.   Thinking that it was not serving the kind of lunch I was looking for, I left and went to the restaurant next door.   However, the restaurant next door had the same set-up.  I found an overwhelming variety of savory baked goods, cookies, cakes, chocolates and marzipans (my favorite).   Little did I realize that the restaurants we entered were coffee houses?    We ended up walking from one Café to another and ended up buying a piece of marzipan, chocolate, tart or apple strudel here and there.  We found a table outside and happily consumed our lunch (pictured below). At home, I’m usually a model of temperance when it comes to sweets.  I usually eat fruits for dessert and when eating out, I would only order gelato or ice-cream and

Lourdes, France: Of Penance and Piety

It was the 1st of May. My sister and I took a commuter flight from Paris to Tarbes-Lourdes, for our own pilgrimage to Lourdes. When we got off the plane, we proceeded to get a cab for our final destination. It was unusual to not find a taxi cab outside of an airport arrival area. But we waited for almost an hour. While waiting for the cab we noticed a woman of about 55 and a young man, joined by a regal-looking lady. They were on the same flight with us. Suddenly, the regal-looking woman got on a limousine, leaving the woman and young man behind. It was an odd scene, so my sister tried to strike a conversation with the woman. We found out that they were members of the ‘Order of Malta’ and that they were on their way to Lourdes to do their yearly pilgrimage and penance (to take care of the sick). Curious, my sister asked, “How do you become a member of the Order of Malta?” The woman answered, “You have to be invited. Did you see the lady I was talking to earlier, she was the one w