Like the Turning of a Music Box

To me, Freiburg means transformation.

Perched at my windowsill, I looked out over Münsterplatz, the plaza surrounding the towering Freiburg Minster at the very center of town. A cloudy and misty morning, the wet cobblestone of the plaza was empty with the exception of a few black birds just starting their day.

Then, as if someone has just wound up and released the key of a music box, the plaza began to fill with carts and vans overflowing with the most tempting delights to all of the senses. Farmers piled stalls high with fruits and veggies. Artisans filled tables with wooden carvings and polished marbles. Gardeners arranged blooming flowers.  Bakers brought out fresh bread and pastries. Soon local shopkeepers and residents and travelers began to fill the plaza, touching and smelling and tasting and admiring all of the wonders that had suddenly covered the empty cobblestone.  Before my very eyes Münsterplatz had transformed. It had come to life.

At the end of the day, like the slowing of a music box, the sights and smells and sounds trickled away from the square, and then it was back exactly where it began.  If I hadn’t seen the transformation myself I wouldn’t have believed it happened at all. The shining, wet cobblestone was once again accompanied only by a few birds ending their day.

Like so many things seem to do, the day around Münsterplatz ended right where it began.  And like the winding of a music box, it would surely make the same transformation tomorrow.

To see how other’s have described the transformation synonymous with Freiburg look no further than TripAdvisor.  To plan your own trip to Freiburg head on over to Lonely Planet.

(All photos were taken by myself on my HTC Vivid smart phone.)

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All photos were taken by myself on my HTC Vivid smart phone. No fancy cam needed!

Record Heights in Ulm Germany

Ulm Minster. With construction that began in the 14th century and was completed in the late 19th century, incredibly the church is home to the tallest steeple in the world.  The top of the 53-foot tall steeple can only be reached through a narrow stone spiral staircase of 768 steps, totaling a trek of 530 vertical feet to the top. imag2039imag2038imag1877imag1884imag1864imag1839imag1837imag1845imag1843imag1857-e1388647817182imag1852imag1925imag1931imag1924

For more information on Ulm Minster you can visit their website. Google Translate should be able to help non-German speakers out! Stop by Trip Advisor to find recommendations on other ways to fill your visit to Ulm.

All photos were taken by myself on my HTC Vivid smart phone. No fancy cam needed!

The way we travel.

A screen shot from my personal travel blog, Miss LaQuist.

A screen shot from my personal travel blog, Miss LaQuist.

Travel blogging—an idea unique to the last quarter-century; a platform that has shaped the way people share and research travel experiences, an activity that is in my opinion the dream job.

Travel blogging as a whole is hard to define, ranging from small series of posts targeted to independent travelers’ friends and family to mainstream sights teeming with practical information for the vacationing masses.  Some people have turned traditional forms of social media like Facebook and Instagram into a version of travel blogging.  Others use photography-centered sites like Flickr and Tumblr as their own form of a travel blog.  Platforms like WordPress and Blogger have made personal travel blogs more of a possibility than ever before.

Although the depth and range of travel blogs is highly subjective, one thing that is certain is that travel blogging in all its forms is growing.  Membership and page views to sites like Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor are increasing, attendance at blogging conferences has more than doubled in the past year alone, travel related tags and keywords are among the most popular on sites big and small.

Each form of travel blogging seems to have its own benefits and specific practicality.  Facebook, for example, has the greatest influence over the vacation choices of 25-34 year-olds.  TripAdvisor has the greatest impact on female booking habits.  Social networking sites as a whole have a large influence on hotel choices, travel methods, and dining options.

Personally, I find a different value in each of travel blogging’s different forms.  Mainstream sites like Lonely Planet are typically the dominant factor in my decisions on which cities to visit.  Small, independent travel blogs are my next step in investigating specific information on how to make the most of those cites.  Social media shapes my travels in a more abstract sense, influencing my attitude and approach to travel in general.

As broad is the range of value readers find in travel blogs, similarly is the range of value travel bloggers find in their content creation and aggregation.  Whether it’s a way to make money, to share experience with loved ones, to offer insight to the masses, to promote certain places and excursions, etc. every travel blogger and site has its own intended purpose. Personally, my travel blog Miss LaQuist is a type of public travel journal where my intended purpose is centered on documenting and finding personal value in my travel experiences.

At the end of the day, I believe that the future of travel blogging is bright.  This prediction is subjective, and would vary depending on how one defines travel blogging and its success.  For me, however, the steady increase in travel related blogs, readership, and interest are a positive sign in making my future dream job a reality.

Sources:

http://www.stikkymedia.com/blog/social-media-and-tourism-industry-statistics
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/travel/travel-blogging-today-its-complicated.html?_r=0
http://advertising.bbcworldwide.com/home/mediakit/reachaudience/brandedentertainment/lonelyplanet

Planes, trains, and automobiles

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Planes, trains, and automobiles.

When traveling to and around Europe, the first two modes of transportation are what typically come to mind.  Throw public transport into the mix and automobiles seem like an entirely unnecessary component to a European adventure.  And in a way, they are.  In cities big and small, your own two feet (and maybe a few Euros for the metro) are all you need to get from point A to point B.  Renting a car seems just so… American.

It wasn’t until a recent exploration through Bavaria, Germany that I realized quite the contrary.  Renting a car was, in fact, oh so… European.

Bavaria is a part of southern Germany, situated just north of the Austrian border.  Tiny towns scattered amongst rolling green hills were a familiar sight to me, having seen picturesque snapshots through the windows of trains that glided alongside the Lech River.  To some, those glimpses might be enough. But not to me, and if my guess is correct, not to you.

Hopping into the front seat of a car and driving in (rather than past) little European towns was sort of like the difference between watching a movie, and then reading the book after the fact.  I was content in thinking I had seen the whole picture, but within the first few pages I realized, boy was I wrong.

As we drove along winding roads I could actually smell the grass, see the tiny purple flowers tucked away beneath it, and feel the sun and wind brush past my fingers.  We drove over a stone bridge and found the town of Fussen, whose light pink and green facades lining cobblestone streets seemed to have popped straight out of a storybook.  We drove into the town of Ettal, whose little wooden houses nestled into a valley contrasted the grand Basilica at its center.  We drove to the crumbling, centuries old ruins of Hochburg Castle and Schloss Eberstein and the very much in tact Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle.

As we drove from one treasure to the next it was like flipping through the pages of some fantastic book.  I couldn’t wait to turn the page, but I never wanted to reach the last one.  Those memories wouldn’t exist without the four wheels that allowed me to open the book in the first place.  Plane and trains are great and all, but automobiles shouldn’t be underestimated.

To get a glimpse into others’ Bavarian adventures, look no further than Pinterest.  To plan an adventure of your own, Lonely Planet is a good place to start.

Magic doors.

Door-Rundquist
Salzburg: a magical little metropolis tucked away amongst rolling green countryside and the snowcapped peaks of the Austrian Alps.  Baroque towers and churches with copper domes stand high above the winding cobblestone streets–streets with more stories than you and I could possibly be told. Around every corner of those storytelling streets are doors…and that is where the magic is found.

What would be discovered with the turn of a knob or the lift of a latch? Had this same archway stood above Maria Von Trapp as she ushered her children about town, or been brushed by the hands of young Mozart on his way to Sunday school?

An ornate metal gate presents a grand cathedral where people have kneeled to pray since Europe’s Golden Age.  A worn wooden door opens to a quiet tavern, where hopes and dreams are whispered over glasses of malted ale.  An ivy-covered pillar leads to a garden bursting with rows roses, and flowers dripping from spiraling fences.  A clear glass entryway displays baskets of shining, glittering ornaments being arranged by the owner of a tiny shop.

As the laughter and lively chatter fade away from the streets with the sun, the pale stone of the city is cast in blue shadows. The soft orange glow from behind drawn curtains illuminates the doorways, and glistens off of their polished hinges and rivets, making them appear even more mysterious than the did in the daylight.  You are reminded of the possibilities waiting on the other side of each fantastic one.

Of all the European cities I have explored, Salzburg makes me feel most at home, but also the most bewildered by its glimpses of unknown possibilities.  It’s an entrancing juxtaposition—one that you can only be understood by experiencing it yourself.

So as you adventure within the hills, below the towers, among the streets, and behind the doors remember that the nooks and crannies are where Salzburg hides its magic.  It’s up to you to find it.

By Lauren Rundquist

To get a glimpse into others’ discoveries behind the magical doors of Salzburg, look no further than Pinterest.  To plan an adventure of your own, Lonely Planet is a good place to start.