Penny-Pinching in Strasbourg

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In October, we took a little camping trip over to the Black Forest and spent a day on the other side of the border in Strasbourg, France. I expected Strasbourg to be very German. And it is… But it certainly has a French feel too. Anywho, I thought I would share what we did and how we pinched a few pennies along the way.

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Crossing into Petite-France

Penny-pinching tip #1: Take your car. And take your tent. This has become one of our favorite ways to travel in Europe. We have camped in the Wachau Valley of Austria, the Netherlands, and now the Black Forest. Camping does not have to limit you to outdoor activities (though that is something we enjoy). A tent can also be your base from which to explore the bustling towns of Europe. Heck, you can still pack a nice sweater or a dress. I’ve done it. Europeans tend to pamper their campgrounds, which does annoy me sometimes, but I know a lot of people might prefer it. There are also Airbnb campsites, which is what we did this time. And we ended out spending for two nights probably half of what we would have spent on one night in a hotel. As an added bonus, you get to take in all the beauty of nature.

Additional advice: Park at park-and-rides in larger towns and cities. And then take advantage of the tram or bus system. This is usually cheaper than paying for parking in the city center… and less stressful, in my opinion.

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We happened upon this lovely church, after getting caught in the rain.

Penny-pinching tip #2: Go out for one big traditional meal, instead of three meals a day. This is a tip we also implemented in Ireland. I would especially recommend making lunch your big meal, because menus tend to be cheaper. So real question– how do you get by on one restaurant meal per day? My answer– bring snacks from home to tide you over and/or go to the grocery store and cook for yourself. On our Black Forest trip, I made these pumpkin energy balls, packed some homemade biscuits, and brought along a couple other snacks. So breakfast was covered, and the snacks pretty much got us through lunch (I must admit that they were supplemented by a few “pain au chocolats” that we picked up from a bakery as soon as we got into Strasbourg).

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Mouth-watering French pastries

The meal that we ordered that night in Strasbourg still makes me laugh. One of the must-have regional dishes is called “choucroute,” French for sauerkraut. It’s ironic because we live in Germany, the land of limitless sauerkraut, and yet on our little excursion into France, what did we order? Why, choucroute! I have never seen such a massive pile of sauerkraut. They served it warm with a few different pork cuts and potatoes. It was quite hearty and delicious.

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You might not be able to tell… but there is a huge pile of sauerkraut underneath the meat!

Alternative to PP tip #2: Street Food! This is another of my and Tex’s favorite ways to eat plenty without breaking the bank.

Penny-pinching tip #3: Be a low-maintenance traveler. This is one that I am still working on… Ahem, yes, I did ask Tex to buy us some [DELICIOUS] lemon shortbread cookies at a specialty cookie shop. But honestly, it is not very difficult to spend an entire day just wandering the streets of a lovely European town, without spending money. Soak in the architecture, even of commonplace houses. Feast your eyes upon bakery displays. Walk on into that beautiful cathedral or through that peaceful park. Be a person who can appreciate things without having the thing. I’m preaching to myself here.

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Strasbourg’s charm did not disappoint. We promptly found the cathedral, which was stunning. It actually may tie (with St. Peter’s Dom in Regensburg) for my favorite cathedral. I am so glad that we decided to wait in the long line to go inside. Entry was free! We meandered through the streets surrounding the cathedral. All kinds of signs and banners decorated one of the streets, and countless bakery windows were filled with every manner of sweet treats and breads.

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Inside the lovely cathedral
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These beautiful stained-glass windows!

Next, we decided to visit the most famous and historic part of town, Petite-France. Half-timbered houses, adorned with flower boxes in the windows, lined the edges of the canals. We strolled over cobble-stoned footbridges and gaped at the quaint beauty surrounding us.

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Half-timbered buildings and canals in Petite-France

Those are all the penny-pinching tips that I can think up right now. Hopefully, I’ll have more soon ♥

A Bavarian Fall

This post is something I have been wanting to write for the past month or so. The beauty of southern Germany in the fall time is one of the most glorious things I have seen. Every time I drive down a country road or even step outside into the crisp morning air, I find myself sighing with content.

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Here are some things that have struck me:

>> The trees arrayed in every shade of yellow, orange, red, brown, and green. Yesterday, Tex and I had made a little drive out of town, and… well, imagine driving down a fiery corridor. That is the only way I know to describe it. Blazing orange leaves adorn the lofty walls of trees on either side. Breath-taking.

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A picture cannot do it justice!
>> The eerie mornings of dense fog. For a dust-loving, dry-air Texas girl, this has been more of an adjustment. But truly, it is reminiscent of some story from Hans Christian Andersen’s or the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. There is something magical about the fog shrouding each bend in the path and the tops of the trees.

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>> Snow in October?! This one came as a huge surprise. We woke up one morning and looked out our window to see rooftops covered in snow! I had been curious what the German landscape would look like all blanketed in white. It is beautiful. And now I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for several long months of it. On a slightly different note, the sun over here is setting at approximately 16:51 for those of us on Army time. The coming winter days are going to be short and snowy!

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I often find myself singing the words: “May I never lose the wonder, O the wonder, of Your mercy,” but sometimes substituting other words in for mercy. The wonder of His creation. The wonder of His glory. The wonder of His goodness. May we never lose the wonder.

Completely unrelated to Bavaria, but very much in the same vein as fall, I have been trying out some new seasonal recipes. Namely, this German apple pie with blackberries added. And our new favorite: Thai butternut squash curry! I’ve already made it twice this fall, and am craving it again. It’s surprisingly easy, especially if you’re a pro at cutting squash. Just wanted to share in case anyone is looking for new ideas to try.