Funnily enough, the coming of the colder months brought us more travel opportunities. It makes me glad because I seem to be more adjusted to the climate and more prepared with clothes so now having fun outside is possible even if it is not 30 C.
Our adventures this Fall started in the Alsace, a historic region in France with Old Towns every bit as perfect as those inside snow globes. I do not think I will ever get over it.
In the capital Straßbourg, we spent our time exploring Petite-France, a heart-stopping quarter with beautiful fachwerkhäuser on old cobblestone streets, surrounded with quaint canals of the Ill river. It was so pretty, like a Disney-dreamworld where talking squirrels and birds won’t be a surprise.
I also discovered a love for macarons. I hated them in The Ph – like eating overpriced, pretty cardboard. Markus encouraged me to try them here in France in full context and they proved a revelation.
The texture was perfect: crunchy, marshmallow-y, and incredibly flavorful. I was immediately hooked and I suppose will forever hate macarons outside of France while secretly plotting how to make my own from home, too.
Next stop is Colmar, a perfect fairytale town not too far from Straßbourg. One look at its Old Town and I wanted to move here. It has the same features as Straßbourg, only smaller, cozier, and slower – everything I live for.
I could not get enough of the small shops with their endless lines of baguette, kugelhopf, chocolate, and cheese. What a dream! We walked around town with our baguette and cheese, just like in the movies.
We also spent a lot of time in one shop selling mountains of nougat – the shopkeeper talked to us in English and explained the magic of nougat while giving us all the bites we could ever ask for.
Nougat is not a thing in The Ph and I first had it at a specialty market in Germany from a French stall. Markus thought I will find it too sweet but I probably ate half my weight in nougat and I was more than keen to eat more in Colmar. I really love everything about this place. I will definitely go back!
The next weekend after returning from France, we found ourselves exploring more of southern Germany. Markus’ parents know all the best places here honestly!
In Bavaria, we saw the cozy Old Towns of Dinkelsbühl and Lindau by the enormous Bodensee. Colorful and relaxed, Dinkelsbühl is another historic town with beautiful buildings, fachwerkhäuser, and its own traditional pastry known as schneeball.
I saw it from outside the window and had to gasp. It looked so cute! Twisted balls of colorful pastry with nuts and all things nice. How can one not want to eat that?
In contrast to Dinkelsbühl, Lindau has a bigger harbor, seaside vibe that is hard to miss. It is busier and more metropolitan with a subtle vibe of money. Still very pretty though, especially its cobblestone paths leading to the Bodensee.
We saw the full moon rising over the lake and it was stunning, probably the best full moon sighting I have ever seen. The image of this enormous, brilliant orb hanging low in the sky over the iconic lighthouse and lion of Lindau is something I won’t forget for a long time.
Opposite Bavaria, we saw the other end of the Bodensee from the city of Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg, and another small but incredible town called Herrenberg.
I was impressed by Konstanz actually, not only because of the beautiful Bodensee but because of its quaint vibe given it is a larger city.
My favorite part though is how colorful this place is – the stripes of the fachwerk, the elaborate painted houses, coat of arms, and street art are amazing. Now that I think about it, it has a little of the Dresden appeal that I love, only bigger and more grown-up.
And then there was Herrenberg. This town in the middle of Baden-Württemberg claims they have the prettiest Old Town in all of Germany! It was definitely charming. I kept saying ‘Wow!’ with every turn of my head.
I have never seen so many giant fachwerkhäuser in one place; five, six levels in the prettiest colors imaginable. Literally breathtaking, also with all the staircases around the main square leading to the big church.
I cannot say it is the prettiest Old Town in Germany though because I have only been to six Bundesländer so far. My beautiful German classmate from my yoga teacher training course in India said I am seeing more of Germany compared to the average German and I really want to visit all 16 states!
Then a little over two weeks ago, we were in St. Gallen in Switzerland. It was cold and rainy, an authentic experience. I like St. Gallen though, small, quiet, functional, and picturesque.
In the grand Swiss fashion, the city is surrounded by sweeping mountain views and stairs that will definitely keep you fit! I can see how this is a nice student city though it must be difficult because everything is expensive.
We mainly stayed around the Kloisterviertel near our accommodation. That was enough steep walking for me! In my German orientation class, I learned that Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons and this makes me laugh because in The Ph, canton is a kind of noodles.
I loved the fall colors here, very heartwarming, something I wish my family can see soon. It is always the case, isn’t it? We travel to all these gorgeous places and want to share it with our loved ones, too. I really hope we can make something happen next year. I feel it is about time.
So after this long stretch of travel, Markus and I arrive home and stay in our apartment to recover. After five days, he goes to Frankfurt and two days later, gets Covid. After two years and multiple scares, we finally caught it.
We are over a week in and still testing positive. It is a mild inconvenience at this point compared to the first days when the symptoms were really bad. Markus’ parents were a dream as always, helping and supporting us every day.
I also got lucky because I have all my medications with me and my physician sister can manage my care from The Ph. I was terrified to get Covid given my co-morbidity, but at least now I know that I will live. Hopefully, we will be free at the end of this week.
Really hoping all of you are well and sending lots of good health and love your way! Tell me, have you been to any of these places or have traveled to similar memorable places lately?