Friday, October 31, 2014

I am a Supermarket Tourist: A trip to the French supermarket

When travelling, do you love perusing the isles of the local supermarket? Because I do.

This is Auchan in Tourcoinq in the north of France just before reaching the Belgian border. I had to make the obligatory stop and visit a supermarket =)

We do not have supermarkets as big as this in the Netherlands.

I am not just into markets, but visiting local supermarkets is a little secret of mine when I am travelling as well. I do not know why but it just gives me the kick of seeing the different kinds of foods around me. Although I will not eat them, nor I will be buying them, just being surrounded with all sorts of delicious, stimulating and heavenly grub makes my day already. Oh, and those gourmet food stuff, they make me blush =)

Only the foodies will truly understand this magical supermarket feeling I am experiencing.

In French supermarkets, I go crazy with saucissons, although Italy in my opinion makes the best dried sausages in the whole wide world. The Spaniards also tops my list. Jamon Iberico of course! And make it bellota please. Italy and Spain though does not have supermarkets like these. They like to keep it traditional and small like in the Netherlands.

My loot. I try not to hoard these days because hoarding can only do harm to your wallet, normal eating habits and enjoyment of food. You have to eat them all in a shorter period of time due to expiration and when you eat a lot of the same thing, the magic disappears.

I also bought a box of Rose Champagne and I still have 1 bottle left in the fridge. Moderation is key, not only with food but also with alcohol.

French supermarkets (as well as Belgian supermarkets) are usually located outside the city and they contribute to the death of the local butcher and cheese shops.

I also rarely eat at fastfoods when travelling and only when it is really needed, like when I am pressed with time. This flunch fastfood restaurant at the supermarket mall did not disappoint.

Some green salad with ham, cheese and a pistolet paired with a glass of red wine. Just a simple French petite dinner before the drive back to the Netherlands.

Are you a supermarket tourist as well? =)

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Tourcoing (Nord Pas-Calaix), France

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Schnitzel Lunch at Hotel Stern on the Market Square of Monschau, Germany

I first heard about Monschau many years ago when I was searching for German Christmas Markets near the Dutch border. I have been to most German Christmas Markets nearby so a recommended new city or village is always welcome.

However, I never made it to Monschau for the Christmas Markets. When I missed my flight to Riga (Latvia) last March, the opportunity came through. I just could not sit back at home and sulk for the stupid mistake I made, and I thought that Monschau would look stunning anyway outside the Christmas season, so I arranged a day trip, and another day trip to Lille, France as well. It was the best decision I made to correct a heartbreak (of missing a flight and a holiday).

This is my car route; from Utrecht to Monschau is about 2 and a half hours drive.

You can move the map by holding it with your mouse, as well as zoom it in and out by clicking on the + and - signs at the lower right hand side.

I parked at the garage in the entrance of the village and walked to the centre. It was around lunch time when I arrived so I did a quick survey in the village square which restaurant is best to sit down. I wanted to eat outside where I have a good view of the market square, so I picked a cafe terrace beside the River Rur. While wondering which restaurant belonged the table I picked, I saw a smiling woman coming out of the hotel across the river, she walked on the little bridge and came to me. She greeted me in German and presented the menu.

Oh why, how nice! The cafe terrace belongs to Hotel zum Stern across the river. I did not expect that. Cool.

And because I am in Germany I felt obliged to order something typically German such as a schnitzel. They have an affordable choice of menus and I delightfully picked one with the schnitzel.

Trivia: Did you know that schnitzel is not only popularised by Germany and (especially) Austria? In the north of Italy, especially in Milan, this type of dish is very popular as well, and it goes back to the Middle Ages. They call it Cotoletta Milanese.

And good news! I tried the Cotoletta Milanese when I was in Milan last May. I will post soon an entry about this.

The Monschau market square.

The beautiful half-timbered houses on the River Rur flowing through the village.

I was lucky with the weather. It was dry, very little wind and the blue skies came out of the clouds from time to time.

I took a table beside the River Rur and I have a nice view of the market square as well.

Little did I know that the cafe terrace belonged to this hotel across the river, Hotel zum Stern. Yes, the wait staff had to walk on the little bridge everytime.

I ordered Spritz for my drink, and the starter arrived: hot vegetable soup.

Then the main meal arrived: Schnitzel with mushroom and pepper sauce and fries. Unfortunately, the schnitzel is burried under the sauce.

The thin schnitzel. It was good, nothing poor or spectacular. I heard the best schnitzel is in Berlin. I might have to go back there.

I have a very nice view to the market square. A little bit on the side line but with the perfect view to people watch.

Instead of the dessert, I asked for coffee. They have no espresso, only normal coffee.

Hotel zum Stern is right on the corner and they occupy only a little part of the cafe terrace on the market square.

After this lunch I will be checking out every nook and cranny of the village =)

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Monschau (North Rhine Westphalia), Germany

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Driving around the Eifel Villages (Einruhr, Gemund, Schleiden) in Germany

Earlier this year I went to Monschau, which is the prettiest village in the Eifel Region of Germany. I will soon be posting my pictures about this lovely place, but first, let me take you on a ride in this region of Germany known for its nature parks, sleepy villages and crater-like lakes.

The quaint village of Einhruhr.

The Eifel Region Map.

The Eifel Region is located beside Belgium, right below Aachen (Germany) which is near Maastricht (Netherlands). It is not very far from Bonn and Cologne as well. The area is popular with the active type local tourists, mostly families with children, as well as Dutch and Belgian tourists during summer for nature activities and outdoor sports (mountain and water sports).

I actually wanted to visit a café restaurant with an impressive location and view on the Urft lake and dam. The dam is a step-dam that flows down to the river. The cafe sits on top. Quite an intense location I should say! However, my GPS went bonkers. The address led me instead to a section of the Eifel National Park and I couldn’t see any direction to the café restaurant, to the Irft lake or to the dam itself. So I ended up driving around.

Like they say—Shit happens. But I did enjoyed the ride and managed to walk around one of the villages called Schleiden.

I love driving. It gives me the feeling of freedom and possibilities.

This is the route I made. Beginning in Monschau, I just went around, followed a circle route before calling it a day and returning to Monschau area.

My route whilst getting lost looking for the cafe in Urft Dam. You can move the map by holding it with your mouse, as well as zoom it in and out with the + and - signs on the lower right hand side.

Einruhr village is nicely situated on the Rur Lake. It is one of the villages of Simmerath municipality.

This is the Gemund village.

I had to quickly stop at Gemund village to take a panorama picture and this beautiful Haus Marienfels along the road. 

Here, I have just arrived in Schleiden village.

The Olef River passing through the village.

I did not have plans on visiting Schleiden. It was just a spur of the moment. I passed by, I was there, why not stop and walk around?

There was a little market going on the village square. There is even a Dutch cheese stand.

German style half-timbered facade houses in Schleiden. I believe the one with the staircase is the old town hall.

Local spirits from the region, the Eifelkräuter, Eifelfeuer, Eifelgeist and the Hüllenkremer Els Echt Alt Montjoie.

The Eifel region is a big national park. It is paradise for the outdoor sports enthusiast and for families with young children.

Spying a pony here.

Their cows here look like oversized goats.

It would have been nice to wake up in the morning with a view like this.

I stopped at this farm and got out of the car to get some fresh air. I loved seeing the valleys and fields. It makes you feel fresh and alive. 

Do you think you can live in a place like this?

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Eifel Region ( Germany

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