A Travellerspoint blog


semi-overcast 24 °C

On our way home (to Denmark) from France we took a short 3-day stop-over in Berlin.

We negotiated our way by train to our first stop, the Brandenburg Gate, which was high on my to-do list. .It is a very impressive monument, and iconic landmark, obviously popular with tourists from all over.

The Gate has often been a site for major historical events. Built with the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses with Eirene, the goddess of peace, atop it by the King of Prussia in the 18th-century, it was originally named The Peace Gate.

Then in 1806 Napoleon was the first to use the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate a victory, in this case the defeat of the Prussian army. He then removed the Quadriga and took it back to France as a victory trophy. However, it was returned to Berlin after Napoleon's defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris. It was then redesigned as a triumphal arch, and the goddess of peace replaced by Victoria, goddess of victory.

The gate was used as a party symbol by the Nazis. It survived World War II, but was badly damaged with holes in the columns from bullets and nearby explosions. One horse’s head from the original Quadriga survived and today is kept in a collection in a Berlin museum.

After the fall of Berlin in 1945, the gate symbolised freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Vehicles and pedestrians could travel freely through the gate until the Berlin Wall was built on 13 August 1961. The gate then became a part of the wall, standing between East and West Germany. One of the eight Berlin Wall crossings, it was opened on the eastern side, but was not open for East Berliners.

Thousands of people gathered to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, and on 22 December 1989 the Brandenburg Gate border crossing was reopened.

On 2–3 October 1990, the gate was the scene of the official ceremony to mark the reunification of Germany. At the stroke of midnight on 3 October, the black-red-gold flag of West Germany—now the flag of a reunified Germany—was raised over the Gate. The quadriga was removed in 1990 and the gate privately refurbished in 2000 at a cost of six million euros. Following the refurbishment it was again opened on 3 October 2002 for the 12th anniversary of German reunification.

IMG_1500810476642.jpg . IMG_1958.jpg

We then took a 3 hour tour with SANDEMANs New Berlin, Free Walking Tour. Sam, our guide (an immigrant from Britain 😊 and a history graduate) was excellent. His presentation was very interesting and informative, and his humour and dry wit kept us engaged .. though the 3hour walk was tough 😄 . While showing us all the relevant sites (the wall, Holocaust monument, Checkpoint Charlie), Sam also encouraged us to see past the horrors of WWII and the Cold War to the many other positives of Germany, especially the building of the modern Germany since reunification. I appreciated this different perspective.

The course of the former wall and border is now marked in the street with a line of cobblestones.

The original wall.

Checkpoint Charlie. The original booth was removed in 1990, but a copy of the guard house and sign that once marked the border crossing was later built where Checkpoint Charlie once was.


Another must-do for me was The East Side Gallery, the largest open air gallery in the world. Check it out::
East Side Gallery

After the fall of the wall, from February to September 1990, 1316 metres of the wall was painted with images. Over 118 artists from 21 countries created 106 very diverse paintings expressing the joy of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in Europe.

Michail Serebrjakov - Diagonal Solution Of The Problem . / . Rosemarie Schinzler - Anything Open

Schamil Gimajev - Worlds People


This image shows the area of 'no mans land' between the wall and the River Spree. All the waters of the river were in the East German fortifications which extended to the shoreline on the Western side. A number of children drowned after falling in the river on the western side and were unable to be rescued due to the fear of being shot from the soldiers. Eventually a fence was constructed along the west bank and troops on the eastern side ordered to respond and rescue the children if further accidents occurred.


When walking around the city I found myself wondering if I was in the eastern or western side of the wall, and contemplating the very different lives experienced by each, with families and friends separated by the wall.

Beside the gallery is The Wall Museum.


This was a very interesting museum, with multi-media presentations showcasing the history of the Wall, from its construction to the historic events leading to the fall of the Wall.

The museum is a series of thirteen small rooms with a chronological portrayal of events, using information, photos, film, interactive displays, mannequins and artefacts, and other media. Each wall of each room was filled in some way with flashing screens, videos coming at you from all sides. It was quite overwhelming and difficult to manoeuvre. It tells a harsh story. It was very difficult to hear the stories of those affected.

Having lived my life in a free society I was very moved watching film from 9 November 1989 when the East German government announced that their citizens could visit West Berlin and West Germany. Seeing everyday people celebrating their freedom with tears and overwhelming emotion, with crowds climbing the wall joined by their West German countrymen on the other side, and the joy of being able to be with family members was very emotional . Similarly in other eastern bloc countries, as the Cold War ended.

I very much enjoyed our time in Berlin and hope to return one day to explore it further. It is a great city.

Posted by patsaunder 08:09 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Source de la Loue and Baume Abbey


Baume-les-Messieurs is the village in the valley which is almost surrounded by the limestone cliffs about 200m high. This is the 'typical' French village portrayed on postcards .. long history, quaint and picturesque, folklore. It has it all.

The major tourist attraction in the village is the Benedictine Baume Abbey which dominates the village. With records dating as far back as the 9th century, the abbey reached it peak in the 16th and 17th centuries.


IMG_1865.jpg IMG_1866.jpgIMG_1927.jpg IMG_1928.jpg

We chose to take the audio tour which had a very dry, uninteresting commentary. Aaron listened intently as we walked around, but with Olivia getting more bored with each minute he eventually said to her "Who would like to hear a story?", (his intent being to include some of the history of the abbey to make it a more interesting experience for her). Of course, she responded "Me". Then I said "Me too", and Rikke "Me too". Aaron is a very good story-teller with the ability to bring a story to life. I think the Abbey PR department could learn something from his method. So we all sat on the steps of the abbey and enjoyed his rendition of the history of the abbey. Thanks Aaron.

270_DSC_0109.jpg .. The River Seille has its source within the rocks and flows through the village.


A little bit of folklore . ... I was thrilled to learn that this village is immortalised in one of my fav artists Edith Piaf's classic songs The Three Bells.
The Three Bells

Further along from the village is a lovely area called Cascade de Tufs .. lovely picnic area with waterfalls which come out of the rocks after heavy rainfall. Unfortunately the water was not flowing strongly on the day we visited as there hadn't been recent heavy rain ... but it was still an interesting area. I read comments from a TripAdvisor reader who noted they had visited in January when the falls were frozen. That would be amazing to see 🙂


A lovely panorama of the valley taken from a lookout above which we accessed by the winding road on the left out of the village. It was lovely to look down on this picturesque area.

A short way further on, near the village of Ouhans, is a wonderful natural location . ... the source of the River Loue. The water comes from a spring which flows from a cave (60m wide and 32m high) in the semicircle of the limestone cliffs, at the foot of the 104m high cliff. It is quite spectacular.

The flow of water from the spring is sufficient to facilitate production of hydroelectricity in a plant only 100m downside of the spring.

449d44bb-2..95dfbe6f0_d.jpg3f0b8437-8..652271ef11a.jpg .
(Photo source: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMV9TX_Usine_lctrique_de_la_source_de_la_Loue_Ouhans_Doubs_France)

I love the unusual explanation for how the actual source of the underground river was found ... by chance. This is a great story.

On August 11, 1901, the Pernod distilleries in Pontarlier were struck by lightning. In order to counter the fire that threatened the stocks of pure alcohol and absinthe, the mayor ordered the firemen to dump the vats in the Doubs. Nearly a million liters of alcohol went into the river.

Two days later, the spring of the Loue was dyed with a golden yellow with green reflections. They found that the water had the taste of absinthe. On the morning of the 14th, at Mouthier, the smell of the Loue was as strong as that of a glass of absinthe taken from a coffee table, proving that the Loue is a tributary of the Doubs.

Scientific proof was achieved in 1910 when a green dye was dumped in a crevice of the Doubs river bed near Pontarlier. The dye appeared at the source of the Loue 64 hours later. (https://www.lieux-insolites.fr/doubs/loue/loue.htm)

We thoroughly enjoy our two visits to this beautiful, interesting area . ... the cliffs, the caves, the abbey, and the village. Lovely time together.

Posted by patsaunder 13:31 Archived in France Comments (0)


sunny 26 °C

There are many interesting areas to explore in Jura (in the the Franche-Comté region of France). . For our Sunday outing we chose the picturesque drive to visit Baume-les-Messieurs (Baume The Magnificent) to explore the interesting limestone caves.

This is a very picturesque area with many lovely villages along the way which follow the river Loue.

Our first stop was a small village Ornans which is the capital of the Loue valley.. Called the Franche-Comté's 'Little Venice' because of the double row of old houses on stilts, it is a lovely town. The rock cliff of La Roche du Mont dominates the town.

IMG_1839.jpg. Looking up to La Roche du Mont
IMG_1836.jpg. The stilt houses .. I would love to see inside one .
DSC_0930.jpg. One of the two bridges which span the river.

Next was Lods where the Loue river tumbles down small waterfalls in the village centre. The water is so clear that we could easily see trout (some quite large) swimming and feeding near the waterfalls. It is a quiet village with lovely houses surrounded by tree lined slopes with an old stone bridge from the 16th century spanning the river.


While passing through Mouthier-Haute-Pierre in the heart of the valley, Aaron noticed a sign for a lookout. . We had to investigate. It took a little research to find but eventually 'Google' came to the rescue . After driving through the winding roads of the village and a further 15 minutes up and up, past orchards of cherry trees, we arrived at Hautepierre-le-Chatelet. Then came the steps ... and more steps, up and up ... finally arriving at the The Hautepierre rock overlooking the village. The view was spectacular ... and yes, that is Mont Blanc seen clearly in the distance covered in snow.

Even though we'd had some confusion initially, we were very pleased that Aaron had persisted in his endeavour to find the lookout.

9CB2CDB3D0D7ACE751ADA546451FA1F2.jpg. A snow covered Mount Blanc in the distance

This valley is surrounded by steep forested hills and towering limestone cliffs that reach almost 1000 metres high. Consequently it is a very popular area for rock climbers, and walkers.
IMG_1847.jpg. Why go up and over when you can go through.

One of the most interesting aspects of the area are the awesome limestone cliffs. .This is an area called Baume-les-Messieurs .. a spectacular narrow canyon with a flat bottom and vertical walls. .There were a number of sites we wanted to visit in the area, so we made this a 2 day visit. Check out the lovely village below, and another in the distance. We will visit them next.


Our first adventure was Les Grottes de Baume-les-Messieurs, the caves 120m below the surface with a series of passageways connecting the various galleries, some with ceilings 30-80 metres high. The caves extend into the rock for approx. 2500m, and have a constant temperature of 13degC. . I have visited a number of limestone caves in my travels ... they are all different, and all spectacular. But first we had to navigate our way down to the floor of the canyon, approx. 150m below (and up again after the visit!!). . The 'old' knees were feeling it.

The cave is home to around 1500 small bats. The tour was in French and English. It is well set up, easy to negotiate, and very interesting.


90_20170718_131726.jpg. The entrance

90_20170718_124649.jpg. The ceilings can be 60-80m above at the highest point

20170718_123524.jpg. A lake has formed in this gallery from the seeping waters when rainfall is high

270_DSC_0103.jpg. Formation of stalagtites and stalagmites which come together over time

20170718_131327.jpg. Watch your head

20170718_130906.jpg. Sharing the experience

A lovely day exploring the countryside. Did you check out the beautiful clear sky 😀 .
And this was Day 1 .... Source de la Loue, and the Abbey tomorrow.

Posted by patsaunder 09:10 Archived in France Comments (0)

Fun times

sunny 24 °C

On arrival ... first things first. "To the pool", said Olivia

Who loves to spend all day at the pool?

Lunch by the pool

Looking from the top field to the mountain beyond.

The couple who own the property work during the day until 8pm or so, so we had this to ourselves each day. How lucky were we?

Fun in the pool with Nana. So pleased to have been able to spend this time together.

The obligatory holiday 1000 piece jigsaw. This one was a great challenge, but done in four days.

The last piece goes in

Checking out youtube together

Mexican stuffed zucchini, fresh from the house garden . Yum

Playing with dad

Olivia's 'eat it or wear it' challenge. Dad ended up wearing mixed herbs, coffee, flour and oats. Olivia got away just with chilli sauce

Another special holiday together.


Posted by patsaunder 12:28 Archived in France Comments (0)

La maison de Louis Pasteur


Unbeknownst to Aaron and Rikke (both microbiologists) when they booked their summer holiday accommodation here at Marnoz, Louis Pasteur grew up in this area, and actually lived in Marnoz for a short period of his childhood. His family moved to Arbois when Louis was 8 years old. As an adult his studies took him elsewhere (Besançon, Paris, Strasbourg) but in 1879 his affection for his family home and the local area impelled him to purchase and renovate the house to accommodate his family - his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and his two grand-children . He continued to live here until his death in 1885. HIs family conserved the house as he had left it, and in 1935 his grandson donated it to the Friends of the Pasteur Society. It is now the property of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of France. They have meticulously restored the home so that it feels that time has stood still and the family are still living there.

Pasteur provided an 'open door' to his home to local residents who wanted to seek recommendations or advice. For example, he provided assistance to the local wine growers in preventing the germs in their wine. It was during his experiments with these that he proposed the heating of the wine and thus developed the process of 'pasteurisation' which was patented in 1865. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Pasteur for this development which is widely used in today's food processing, thus protecting us from a variety of illnesses. He continued to make himself available as an advisor to his fellow residents.

Included in the renovations of the house was his laboratory on the top floor which had direct access from his bedroom. Pasteur was especially particular about hygiene and insisted that his colleagues wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water several times during the day. It was his work which encouraged surgeons to follow his lead in preventive sterilisation of instruments and gowns and disinfection of wounds and bandages after operations. Another initiative from which we continue to benefit.

At this time it was not understood why food went bad. They did not know about bacteria. Pasteur showed that a closed container could be heated and afterwards remain sterile, but people still believed that the rotting came spontaneously from the air. But Pasteur knew that the rotting came from bacteria carried through the air on dust. So he developed an experiment where he heated food in a container that was open to the air through a long, curved tube. The curving of the tube meant that dust and small particles in the air could not move up into the container, and while still open to the air it remained sterile. The glass cases display that container and it is still sterile to this day - after 150 years.

DSC_0904.jpg. Aaron explaining the significance of the glass containers to me


Pasteur provided support in identifying problems in many manufacturing industries: wine and beer fermentation, silkworm diseases, and the discovery of the vaccination principle, and was awarded several National awards for his service to the national economy, and was internationally famous.

He died on 28 September 1895.


Posted by patsaunder 02:52 Archived in France Tagged buildings france historical Comments (0)

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