Bad Bentheim, Germany

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On our last blog post we were talking about New Year’s resolutions. In addition to not building up expectations is a resolution to do a small, local adventure once a week. Bad Bentheim, located just across the border from us in Germany, is easily accessible by a short train ride, and is home to both a spa and a castle – two of my favorite things! It was an obvious choice for Read More »

Der Plansee, Germany

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I have a tendency to over plan trips when it comes to the weather, resulting in us lugging around umbrellas and boots and layering sweaters. For our Bavarian winter wonderland roadtrip I was taking no precautions, loading our car up with furry boots, warm winter coats, and blankets. We quizzed the rental agency on whether we had snow tires and if we needed snow chains as we planned to drive through Germany’s highest Read More »

Neuschwanstein, Germany

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“I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.” – The Little Princess

I like castles. I really, really like castles. I like to wander around their outsides, imagining what life was like centuries ago in the time of princesses and princes. And, while I know the answer is that the reality of life “once upon a time” was pretty crappy, it does not at all stop my daydreams of being royalty. While it is entirely unacceptable for a woman of nearly thirty to have somehow convinced her husband to bemusedly play Read More »

Albi, France

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The small city of Albi in the Tarn region of southern France is not at the top of anyone’s France itinerary, which is a mistake. There is the imposing Southern Gothic cathedral of Saint-Cecile, the largest brick structure in the world, and its painted interior. It is one of the most magnificent churches we have seen throughout our travels with its eerie painting of the Last Judgment above its nave, naked bodies descending into hell Read More »

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As we walk through the long corridor, the only thought that comes to mind is “Franz was a mentally disturbed man.” Every free space of the hallway is covered in animal heads, artfully displayed and catalogued, more than 1,500 in total. More shocking is that these heads represent a mere two percent of the total animals the Archduke Franz Ferdinand killed during his 50 year-life. Assuming he hunted every single day of his life, including during infancy, that is more than 16 animals killed per day.

The Archduke also collected guns and other weapons as well as chain mail (including full horse mail) by the hundreds. The sword with the carved women that Daario Naharis is so found of? I’m betting that was inspired by one of the Archduke’s collectibles.

We visited the Archduke’s palace, Konopiště, together with my family when they visited Prague this spring. It lies roughly an hour outside of Prague and is easily-accessible via a train and short 3 km hike. The Frenchman had gotten a virus or some sort of tummy trouble the day before, and, needless to say, bye the time we were finished with the animal heads and our lunch of goulash from deer caught on the castle grounds, I was feeling a bit queasy, too. The castle was a great half-day adventure away from the city and provided a glimpse into the private life of one of the last centuries most important men while also continuing to build on the knowledge of the Hapsburg family we have spent this spring learning about on nearly every outing.

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As no photos are allowed inside the castle to document the oddity, those who are interested can catch a glimpse with this Rick Steves video: