Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Ever heard of the country of Liechtenstein? It's a itty bitty country in between Switzerland and Austria, with ~36,000 people and only 62 square miles! Most of the people are located in the country's capital, Vaduz or in the nearby town of Schaan. Since Vaduz is the capital, we decided to check it out.  

Honestly, if we weren't looking for it, we would've driven right through it and had no idea. Before we reached Vaduz, we were literally straddling the border!

The most prominent landmark of Vaduz is Vaduz Castle, the home of the reigning prince of Liechtenstein and the Liechtenstein princely family. The castle is visible from almost any location in Vaduz, being perched atop a steep hill in the middle of the city.

The castle underwent a major restoration between 1904 and 1920, then again in the early 1920s during the reign of Prince Johann II, and was expanded during the early 1930s by Prince Franz Joseph II. Since 1938, the castle has been the primary residence of Liechtenstein's Princely Family. Unfortunately, the castle is not open to the public as the royal family still lives in the castle. 

 I was upset to find out that the castle isn't open, but it was still a beautiful castle to visit. You can either walk up to the castle, or drive up and park and walk down a couple blocks. We ended up doing the latter, I would suggest doing this as well since the parking lot is fairly close.

The point of stopping off in Vaduz was to break up our trip down to Switzerland. Since the castle was closed to visitors, we decided to head to the downtown area. It is literally one main street, food, shops, souvenir stands, T.I. It is all located in this area. I can't seem to find my pictures on it. But if you're in the area, it is worth taking a stop, especially if you need proof that you've actually visited Liechtenstein, because if you blink, you might miss it!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wahalla Memorial

*Originally posted 4/25/15 in Regensburg, Germany

A little outside of Regensburg, is the Wahalla Memorial. The monumental building is located in Donaustauf, just 12 km from Regensburg. The Walhalla memorial is a hall of fame that honors laudable, distinguished people and famous personalities in German history – politicians, sovereigns, scientists and artists of the German tongue. The hall is housed in a neo-classical building above the Danube River, east of Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany. The Walhalla is named for Valhalla of Norse mythology.

It was conceived in 1807 by Crown Prince Ludwig, who built it upon ascending the throne of Bavaria as King Ludwig I. Construction took place between 1830 and 1842, under the supervision of architect Leo von Klenze. The memorial displays 65 plaques and 130 busts of people, covering 2,000 years of history – the earliest person honored is Arminius, victor of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

Pictures don't do this place justice. It is so much bigger than pictures make it out to be. We followed our GPS to the Parking lot. To get up to the memorial, its maybe a 10 minute walk on a path. (Not to worry it's all marked and semi paved)

There are two ways to check out this fabulous memorial, you can either take a cruise on the Danube River, get off at the port, climb the steps to the top, then wait for the next ferry. Or you could drive yourself to the top, and park and climb a flight of stairs down to the bottom, then back up to the top.

We chose to drive to the top ourselves. To get up to the memorial, it’s maybe a 10 minute walk on a path. (Not to worry it' s all marked and semi paved).

The monument is considered the most important classical building of the 19th century. You could easily spend a couple hours here enjoying the views of the Danube River and walking around the marvelous structure, perfect day trip, or trip to combine if you’re heading to Regensburg.


GPS Address: Walhallastra├če 48, 93093 Donaustauf

Hours: April - September 9am - 5:45pm
October 10 am - 3:45pm 
November - March 9am - 4:45pm.

Pro Packing Cubes

If you're a little bit OCD like me, or just looking for a way to keep things organized while you're travelling, then these are exactly what you need to be looking for! I used to use the travel Space bags, but after our move back to the states, and breaking 3 bags in the process, I was looking for something new to try out.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work with Love Pro Travel Gear to try out their Pro Packing Cubes.

What's so great about these?
+ The cubes came fairly quick, (they're partnered up with Amazon, yay for 2-day shipping!)

+ You can buy a set of 4-10 depending on your needs

+ Multiple Colors to choose from, Aqua Blue (what I got) Graphite (Black), Hot Pink, Sliver, Orange

+ Lightweight

+ Washable

+ VIP Club; They have their own VIP club, which is free to join and you are able to recieve discounts and be the first to know about heir new products!

You can literally pack for any trip with these. For my 3-day trip I used 1-medium and 1-slim cube. Both were able to fit in my "personal item" bag. The possibilities of packing were endless! (The Slim Bags, even double as bags for shoes! Or you can use it as a place to store your electronics wires)  But since this was a short trip I decided just to pack the bare necessities.

Upon arrival, my clothes were in perfect condition. Everything was where I left it, and I even had room to bring things home!
I did bring an extra cube to store dirty laundry. Since the cubes are all the same color I added a tag to the zipper so I could tell the difference.

Over all, I am really pleased with this product. There are a few things I wish it did (like compress like space bags do or maybe come in a multi-color pack), although I've only taken them on one trip, but I know that they will be the perfect addition when travelling.

Where can you buy them?
Or check out their website and join their VIP club for discounts Pro Packing Cubes.
Check them out on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Disclaimer: I received a free set of Pro Packing Cubes from Love Pro Travel Gear in exchange for writing a review on the blog, all opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

St. Augustine, Florida

For our first USA adventure Drew and I decided to head up to St. Augustine. Funny thing, St. Augustine is only 2 hr and 45 minutes away from where our families live...and we've never been there! My brother was wonderful enough to give us one of his free nights from an IHG hotel, there is a Holiday Inn in the Historic District of St. Augustine, we took it as a sign and decided to go to St. Augustine. The first time I ever stayed at a Holiday Inn was in Europe, so this was my first experience with a stateside one...but the Holiday Inn hotels in Europe, are much better than the one we stayed at in St. Augustine.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. We decided to visit St. Augustine because of it's history, St. Augustine is the oldest city in America! Who could pass up the opportunity to see that?!

Our first stop of the day was to Fort Matanzas National Monument, it is about 15 minutes outside of St. Augustine. The monument consists of a 1740 Spanish fort called Fort Matanzas. Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River.

Our next stop was to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. The Lighthouse is St. Augustine's oldest surviving brick structure, and today the site is restored to colors and materials used the year 1888. The St. Augustine Lighthouse rises 165 feet above sea level and contains 219 steps that are climbed by visitors.

For our first meal in St. Augustine we decided to eat at A1A Ale House. It is a seaside brewery that offers seasonal beers plus sandwiches & steaks and seafood. We opted to eat outside since it was so nice out. For dinner, Drew got the Mahi Burger, and I got shrimp tacos.

Can you tell he loves it when I take pics of him?
The next morning, we headed to Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth. Contrary to belief, you can't just walk in and see the fountain of youth. The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a 15-acre, waterfront historical attraction, where visitors can learn about the first Spanish settlers who came here in the 1600s. 

The Fountain of Youth offers a variety of shows and living history reenactments designed to entertain and educate visitors. Free parking is available, and the park is pet-friendly. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is the site of the first Spanish settlement in the new world.

Apparently it's a rare site to see a female open it's wings!
Male Albino Peacock!
Drew and I went straight for the Fountain. It wasn't what I thought it would be. I was expecting an actual fountain! But of course, we had to try some of the tasted like hose water (and that's the nicest thing to say).

We explored the Park for a bit, we even got to see a cannon demonstration! I think that was Drew's favorite part of the day.

From the Fountain of Youth, we headed off to see the Castillo de San Marcos. It is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It costs $10 pp to enter, but because the Castillo is a part of the National Park Service, they offer free Military annual passes to Active Duty service men/women, and up to 3 adults, or the car that they are in. I thought that was pretty cool.

I can't take him anywhere!
We explored the Fort, we climbed to the top and got some great shots. The only thing that sucks is that you can't sit on the Fort. It's made of Coquina, a limestone consisting almost entirely of shelly fossils. Apparently it's very fragile. Which sucks because, there isn't enough benches to sit on and take pictures.

After visiting the Fort we decided to head into town to grab some food and wander around. It's my favorite part about going to a new city! I think I'm Europeanized, because I didn't want to sit down and eat lunch, I wanted to keep exploring. There was NOTHING to grab an go.
After searching for half an hour we found a place that served loaded fries. We even met a family who was stationed in Germany a couple years ago! It's really a small world.
 The Teacher in me had to stop off to get a peak at the oldest wooden school house in the USA!

From there we walked around the city checking out the major landmarks before finally calling it a day and heading home.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed visiting St. Augustine and am still amazed that we've never visited before! I think our time in Europe has expanded my desire to travel. I never thought of Florida as anything special. But it goes to show you that something new is always right around the corner!