A weekend in Freiburg

When Lars and I still lived in Brussels, we sometimes jumped in our car on a Friday evening and drove abroad. Waking upon a Saturday morning in Freiburg im Breisgau is a real treat!

We celebrated our arrival with a breakfast with some champagne.

If it had been warmer we could have had breakfast outside! The Main church is worth a visit!

The loca lmarket was cozy as well

And what about tasting some wine?

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In the footsteps of Lawrence

I grew up with my grandparents and when I was six my grandmother introduced me to Lawrence of Arabia. Although I didn’t really understand the movie, thanks to the landscapes, the soundtrack and the enigmatic Peter O’Toole, this was the start of a lifelong affair with movies. Furthermore, When I saw the movie again in the fall of 2018, I discovered that part of the movie had been filmed in Spain! The next day we found ourselves in Tabernas for some exploring:

This small town is located not far from a desert, as you can see from the surrounding mountains:

Last Summer, we were back in Tabernas, for some further exploring.

On top of a hill, you can see the ruins of an 11th century castle. The local church is also worth a look:

There are picturesque villages nearby:

And there is of course the desert:

Photo Essay: The cemetery losing its Battle against Time

About 10 years ago, on a cold and misty Saturday morning, Lara and I visited this cemetery.

This cemetery was built in the 19th century and is known as the resting place of Hergé, the man who gave us Tintin. He is actually one of the last people buried here. Another reason why the cemetery is wort a visit are the beautiful monuments and the rich fauna and flora. Have a look for yourself!

Children’s graves
Grave of Hergé

Address: Dieweg 95, Ukkel.

The French town that inspired a Japanese artist

The town I am referring to is Colmar, located in the Elsas.

The artist is none other than Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who delighted us with cinematic gems such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.it’s this last one where the cityscape resembles that of Colmar.

Maison Pfister clearly recognisable in Howl’s Moving Castle

Im not quite sure why I converted almost all my pictures to b&w, since Colmar with its half-timbered houses, canals and flowers is very picturesque.

the St. Martin’s Churhch is wort a visit.

For the foodies amongst you, this is a wine region!

Have a look at the trailer:

Return to Cabo de Gata – The Best of The Rest

Restaurante El Barquero

The official address is: Carrertera Cabo de Gata, 12.

During the low season, it could also be worth checking out bigger places like San José. In Los Albaricoques we could not find one single place to have dinner. This fish restaurant was the closest – and best! -option for us.

I know, paella is for lunch, but we couldn’t think of anything else as soon as we were in the restaurant. And it was delicious! A nice cold beer and this was the perfect dinner for us. Great service, fresh produce, very affordable prices, we highly recommend this place!

And some great canine company as well!

Movie location number 1

We have featured movie locations before on this website, but this is a very special one: a whole village! Indeed, Los Albaricoques served as the background for “For a Few Dollars More” by Sergio Morricone. In the movie, it is called Aguacaliente and is a Mexican village. Some of the streets bear the names of some stars. It is strange but exciting to see the Calle Lee Van Cleef or Sergio Leone.

Movie location number 2

On the road to Rodalquilar, have a look at the Cortijo del Fraile ( Farmhouse of the Friar)! This is a historical building and a movie location. According to the website of andalucia.com,

“The cortijo is an enclosure of buildings surrounded by a low white wall, typical of Andalucian estates, with a central patio, chapel with bell tower and crypt, outside ovens, and a well. 

It was built by Dominican Brothers from Almería in the 18th century, hence the name, and was also known as the Cortijo del Hornillo (Farmhouse of the Little Oven) as there was a bread oven in the central patio. In 1836, it was confiscated by the state (as part of a national expropriation of church properties) and following an auction sold to private family.”

Nowadays, the building is in a bad state, and you cannot enter the interior.

Movies that were made here:

  • For a Few Dollars More.
  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Cortijo in better times
  • La Muerte Tenia un Precio
  • La Lengua Asesina.
  • Ace High.
  • A Bullet for the General.

Have a look at this video:

This is what the cortijo looks like nowadays:

And??

If you like ruins, there are more of them between this Cortijo and Los Albaricoques, but we are not sure if they are related to movies.

Whenever Clint Eastwood returns here to make another movie, these 2 fellows above are ready for their take!

Cabo de Gata has something to offer for everyone, whether you are a beach bum, movie buff, nature lover, hiker, … We had a lot of fun!

On Wednesday, we are back with more new content!

A Movie Location in the Heart of Brussels

This is not a movie location in the classic sense of the word, a location where a movie crew made a movie. Rather, this is a place that briefly pops up in an animated movie. The film I am referring to is The Adventures of Tintin and the location is the Brussels Flea Market. In Dutch, the square where it takes place is called Vossenplein, a reference to the nearby Vossenstraat. The French name is Place due jeu de Balle, referring to the ball games that used to take place here in the 19th century. At this market you will find vintage and second-hand stuff (clothing, photographs, decorative objects, books, …), in one word, old stuff, hence also the name ‘old market’.

The flea merket attracts interested buyers, tourists and visitors driven by curiosity. The place does have a unique vibe and is open every morning. It’s accessible via public transport, by bus (27, 48, stop Vossenplein), metro (lines 2 and 6, stop Hallepoort) and tram (3, 4, 51, 32 and 82, stop Lemonnier). You cannot buy food here but in the neighborhood, there are bars and restaurants, serving typical Belgian food.

The Flea Market of Brussels is an important place in the movie, because this is where Tintin finds the miniature ship that will lead him to a treasure hunt.

Contemporary Art In The Danish Sky

Denmark is home to some remarkable museums and our favorite is ARoS in Aarhus:

If you are interested in modern and contemporary art – Danish and international, this is the place to be in Denmark!

When you arrive at the museum, this is what it looks like:

The massive circular object on top of the building is actually a work of art! It’s called Your Rainbow Panorama and was constructed by Icelandic – Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. It’s accessible both by staircase and elevator. When you arrive at the roof, you can admire some magnificent views of the city.

Yes, it’s challenging for people suffering from vertigo, but believe me, it’s worth it!

Once you are in the artwork itself, it’s a very overwhelming experience. You are immersed in the different colors, and you feel as if you are part of the cityscape.

If you are an art lover, and you love to take your time in a museum, you can easily spend half a day in ARoS, if not more. By the way, if you love installation art, be sure to check out the lowest floor and Bill Viola’s Five Angels for the Millennium (my favorite work of art ever). The museum has a very informative (and beautiful!) website. Have a look at if before your visit. Currently, ARoS is open again.

Aarhus is a perfect destination for a city break. This website will give you more than enough ideas!

Interested in Olafur Eliasson? Find more information here!

What about you? Are you interested in (contemporary) art? Do you like to visit museums? Is this a kind of museum you would like to visit? Let us know in the comments!

See you next week with more interesting posts!

How a Classic Movie Led Us to Odessa

Summer 2010. Lars and I made our first big trip together. Starting with Sweden, we later crossed Germany, Hungary, and Croatia. It was a big revelation for me; I had never been so far north nor east in my life.

In October of the same year, we started to plan our summer trip of 2011. I was still feeling excited until Lars remarked that we could go even further east in Europe. There was his favorite country, Romania, and why not go all the way to Ukraine?

My answer? If he was serious about Ukraine, there was one place that I really wanted to visit. Odessa. And all because of a movie.

The Movie

And not just any film! One of my favorite movies ever is Battleship Potemkin (1925), directed by the great Eisenstein. This silent movie consists of 5 chapters and recounts how a mutiny onboard of a battleship leads to a massacre of many civilians, on what is now known as the Potemkin Stairs (or Odessa Steps). And this happens to be – as you can imagine – the most dramatic scene of the movie.

This is without any doubt one of the most famous movie scenes… ever. It’s very intense and many movies have paid homage to it, such as Brazil and The Untouchables.

Historical Facts

Yes, this movie is based on facts. In 1905, there was indeed a battleship called Potemkin, where sailors rebelled against their officers. The arrival of the ship in the harbor of Odessa was the cause of demonstrations throughout the whole city, during which civilians died.

But the Odessa Steps sequence is – unfortunately – fiction. The victims died in other parts of Odessa. Eisenstein – who had started filming in Leningrad and then had moved to Odessa – used this location for its dramatic effect. Most people actually believed it was true and still do so.

The Potemkin Stairs

Let’s start with some facts and numbers:

  • 192 steps in total.
  • Designed and constructed in the first half of the 19th century.
  • Replaced in 1933 because of erosion.
  • Official symbol of Odessa.

Wikipedia has some more interesting information:

The stairs are considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea and are the best known symbol of Odessa.[1] The stairs were originally known as the Boulevard steps, the Giant Staircase,[3] or the Richelieu steps.[4][5][6][7] The top step is 12.5 meters (41 feet) wide, and the lowest step is 21.7 meters (70.8 feet) wide. The staircase extends for 142 meters, but it gives the illusion of greater length.[8][9][10] Due to the sightline, a person looking down the stairs sees only the treads, and the risers are invisible; whereas a person looking up sees only risers, and the treads are invisible.

Our Visit

It took us about a week to drive from Belgium through Germany and Poland to Ukraine. During our arrival in Odessa, a heavy thunderstorm took place, which lasted for hours. Lars and I postponed our visit to the Potemkin Stairs to the morning afterwards.

I remember this visit very vividly. Maybe it’s because I’m an aspie and my senses tend to work overdrive, for me this was very intense, very emotional.

Don’t be a tourist and start rushing up and down the steps like crazy. Take your time, sit down, take it all in, admire the views. Yes, the scene in the movie is not true and these are not the original steps anymore; it’s still a special place, because of movie history.

Before and After

  • Upon arrival, a vendor sold us postcards and stamps. He also tried to make us buy caviar and a copy of the Iron Cross (Nazi symbol). We were shocked, but the man didn’t understand our reaction.
  • When we were back in the hotel, we heard the news about the 2011 Norway attacks. Quite a shock as well.

What about you? Have you ever been to Ukraine? Odessa? Did you see the steps? Or do you one day want to see them?

Later this week, we are back with some very stunning pictures, made somewhere in Spain! Stay tuned!

Exploring A Movie Location – Babette’s Feast (1987)

It is quite some time ago since Lars and I have explored a movie location! This time we discuss a masterpiece in Danish cinema and a magnificent place in Denmark. If you are a nature and/or history lover, you really need to pay this place a visit!

The Movie

Some interesting facts:

  • First Danish movie to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Denmark would win twice more.
  • Director Gabriel Axel also wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen).
  • The movie had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival of 1978 (section of Un Certain Regard). It also won a prize there. And many other awards afterward…
  • The movie features Danish, Swedish, and French actors (like Stéphane Audran, who plays Babette).

What is the movie about? It focuses on two elderly Protestant sisters, their youth, and how a French maid/cook called Babette came into their lives. The second half of the movie centers around the feast itself and its preparations. If you are interested in the menu, check this! If interested in recreating one of the courses, use Google and/or YouTube. The famous “cailles en sarcophage” are easy to prepare and are incredibly delicious (and yes, I speak from personal experience).

Have a look at the mouthwatering trailer!

Choice of Location

The original story by Karen Blixen actually takes place in Norway. Yet, when director Gabriel Axel researched locations there, he found them to be too idyllic. The north of Jutland was a better alternative. Its rough and sometimes somber atmosphere complied more with the story.

There is a lot that works in writing, but when translated to pictures, it doesn’t give at all the same impression or feeling. All the changes I undertook, I did to actually be faithful to Karen Blixen. – Gabriel Axel

The choice of Gabriel Axel ultimately fell on Mårup Kirke. This Romanesque church dates from 1250 and is located on a seaside cliff near Lønstrup. The set designer actually built the village, featured in the movie. After the production, the crew demolished it.

The Church Itself

As I said before, the church dates from the 13th century. Unfortunately, the magnificent landscape is prone to severe wind, which causes significant erosion. Until 2008, there were still services in Mårup Kirke. Afterward, it was gradually dismantled. This was done to prevent parts of the church from falling in the sea.

When Lars and I visited the region around 2012, this is how it looked like. We were absolutely thrilled to be there. Mainly because Babette’s Feast is one of our favorite movies. And we had always dreamed of visiting this location. Fulfilling this dream was an incredible feeling…

Around 2016, nature finally won. What was left of the church, is now completely gone. Of course, the breathtaking landscape that contributed a lot to the atmosphere of the movie is still there.

There are lots of smaller towns in this region of Denmark, where you will certainly find a place to stay. Best use Booking!

If you like this kind of locations, then we have some exciting news for you! Lars and I live about 100 kilometers away from one of Spain’s most famous movie locations. We have been there once, but tend to return soon in order to have more pictures. The place also happens to be one of the most unique European locations.

Two more announcements:

  • I have finally finished editing all the pictures of our recent explorations in the province of Granada. I still have to work on some videos, but at the latest on Monday, I will publish a preview!
  • Next Tuesday is Belgium’s National Holiday and this will not go unnoticed on this website either…

By the way, next week we will also be on the road again!

Exploring an Underground Palace in Brussels

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but there is more than one royal palace in the region of Brussels. The one in Brussels itself is the main residence. Let’s call this the office of the king. It is also the place where he receives other royalties and heads of states. And… once a year, you can visit it, when the royal family is on holiday.

The royal family itself lives in the palace of Laeken. By the way, this is the municipality where the Belgian royals have always lived. Since this is a private residence, it’s never open for visits. But every spring, you can pay a visit to the Royal Greenhouses on the same domain. And that’s something I highly recommend. But more about that in another post.

But… did you know that you can actually explore an underground palace in Brussels?

Welcome to the Palace of Coudenberg, which got its name from the small hill in the Belgian capital, where it was built. Let’s start with a bit of history!

Once upon a time, the Coudenberg Palace towered over the city of Brussels. Charles V and many other of the most powerful rulers ever to reign in Europe made this princely residence their home between the 12th and 18th centuries, until it was consumed by a terrible fire.  Every trace of this prestigious palace simply disappeared underground for many years. (official website of the Palace of Coudenberg).

The Palace of Coudenberg is also known as the Palace of Charles V. Other notable figures who have lived here, are Philip the Good, and the Archdukes Albert and Isabella.

I can already hear you ask: if the Palace of Coudenberg was built on a hill, how come that it is now underground? The website of the Palace has the answer:

The former Palace of Brussels was built on a hill, taking up both the east side of the valley of the River Senne and the south side of the Coperbeek Valley.  To make up for topographical variation and also to fix the building firmly into the hill, the buildings that housed the chapel and the great ceremonial hall were given cellars with one or two levels. At the end of the 18th century, the entire district was levelled so that place Royale and the buildings surrounding it could be laid out. The cellars located on the slopes of the hill were preserved, primarily to be used as foundations for the new buildings. It is these cellars that now form the Coudenberg archaeological site.

Apart from these cellars, you can also see the rooms under the main banqueting hall and the warehouse under the chapel.

The educational trail ends in the Coudenberg Museum (Hoogstraeten House), where you can admire some of the archeological finds, discovered during the excavations.

This is the address:

Place des Palais, 7 in 1000 Brussels. The nearest metro station is Park. The entrance itself is via the BELvue Museum. More practical information such as the admission charges and opening hours is here.

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