Judy’s European adventure- part 1

Phil and I had an amazing trip. I’m so glad I had him along to travel with, not only to help with my 2 fifty pound suitcases, but also to help with language. I can communicate to some degree in Spanish, but German is completely beyond me.

It took us 22 hours from the time we left home in California: 1 1/ 2 hour car ride to San Francisco, flight to London then change planes to Frankfurt, Germany, then 2 hour bus ride to Karlsruhe and a 20 minute taxi to Ettlingen where we spent our first night.

We arrived a few days before the Nadelweldt conference to help get our internal clocks adjusted and took a 2 day side trip to Strasbourg France, which was just one hour south of the conference location by train.

We traveled fairly inexpensively by taking trains and staying in airbnbs. Food seemed fairly comparable to the US in price, but wine and cocktails were significantly cheaper there, and sometimes even cheaper than water!

I’ve never been that crazy about pretzels, but OMG there’s nothing like eating a soft, chewy, warm one in the place they were created, especially sliced in half and slathered with butter!!!

This was my first time in Europe, and Strasbourg was mind-blowing.

First off, Strasbourg, originally a Roman city, has a 2000 year history of being alternately under French and German rule, so it has strong influences of both cultures. It’s now the official seat of European Parliament located in the northeast part of France in the Alsace-Lorraine region.

The towers you see in the photo above are the 3 remaining of 80 that surrounded the city during the middle ages.

I found a fantastic tiny and very reasonably priced airbnb that was in the heart of the old city in a (200+ year old?) building a block from the Strasbourg cathedral.

This was the view from our petit chateau, the tall building is the cathedral.


The Strasbourg or Notre Dame Cathedral, dates back to the 12th century, and was at one time the tallest building in the world.

It took 400 years to build, and is an example of Roman and Gothic architecture. It looked so lacy and delicate completely covered with the most ornate sculptural details.

Every square inch was decorated in some way.

We happened to be there on May day, which was also Labor day in France. May day is a day when you give lily of the valley or dogwood flowers to someone you love.  When we were in the courtyard in front of the cathedral on this day, there were quite a few Romas outside selling bundles of Lily of the valley.

I didn’t really understand the significance at the time, but when we went inside I looked at the ceiling and saw it covered with suns and lily of the valley flowers.

I could look at this building forever. I loved walking around it at different times of day and night, noticing new details and gargoyles each time, and I was fascinated by the spooky shadows it’s decorative facade created.


As I mentioned, it was Labor day and we also stumbled upon a protest march by the radical left party Gauche about workers rights in regards to recent legislation.


While we walked all over the old city I took tons of photos. Everywhere I looked there were fascinating historical architectural artifacts I wanted to capture. At some point I may do a post about the doors, stone and ironwork, but for now I’ve tried to narrow the photos down to primarily location shots.

But first I’ll interrupt the scenery with a pic of my new favorite thing to eat: tarte flambée or flammkuchen in German. I think I ate this divine thin-crust flat bread on 2/3’s of my  trip.

It’s like a very thin crust smokey pizza without the tomato sauce, made instead with creme fraiche and a variety of toppings. A classic would have onions and speck (German bacon). The one above had proscuitto and arugala (roquette). Yummo!!

On our second day in Strasbourg we took an open roof boat tour around the city. It was spectacular, and the perfect way to view old Strasbourg.


The boat goes through 2 locks to navigate the 2 separate rivers surrounding the island that makes up the old city.

Many of these houses date to the middle ages.

This modern steel and glass building is the European Court of Human Rights.


Another exciting discovery I made while we wondered the narrow, cobblestone streets was an antique book shop with the most glorious scientific chart of a squid, beautiful vintage bird identification books

and many other books that were 3 or 4 hundred years old. 


What a fabulous introduction to Europe! I’m smitten.

Stay tuned, my next post will be about the Nadelweldt quilt and textiles convention.

Keep creating,


I’d love to spark your creativity at one of these upcoming events:

June 1-2 Meissners, Sacramento, Blooming Inspiration

July 27-28 Meissners, Santa Rosa, Blessings in the wind; mixed-media prayer flags

August 14-18, 2018 Woodland Ridge Retreat, WI
5 – day Paint and Print-a-palooza retreat

October 19-21 Ephemera Paducah, Paducah, KY
Tea and Ephemera and Blessings in the wind: mixed-media prayer flags

October 27 Meissners, Sacramento, Fiesta Ornaments


IMG_5538Judy is an artist, explorer, image wrangler, knowledge seeker, instructor, speaker, creative alchemist, and purveyor of inspiration, helping others channel creativity on a daily basis.


13 Responses to “Judy’s European adventure- part 1”

  1. Jamie Fingal says:

    Loved seeing your pictures unfold each day on Facebook, but loved reading your blogpost! Can’t wait for the next one.

  2. Barbara Fox says:

    What a treat to see the photos of your trip again. Loved following on your blog and Instagram! Thanks for sharing your pics.

  3. I loved looking at and reading about all the intricate designs on the Notre Dame Cathedral and other places. I was there in 1969, but our tour didn’t allow all the depth of scrutiny that you gave everything. Plus I was only 20 and probably not paying enough attention. Such a beautiful place. Thanks for telling us about it!

  4. Mary says:

    Congratulations on our fabulous trip. Very exciting!……..Schonen Tag noch!

  5. Mary says:

    oops, on Your fabulous trip!

  6. jeannievh says:

    What a gorgeous building. I have always loved architecture and marvel at the ancient craftsmen. It would be hard enough to create today with out computerized machinery, but to imagine carving the stones, molding the bricks, the ironwork, etc. Just mind blowing. Thank you so much for sharing your trip. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • JudyCoatesPerez says:

      I’m right there with you. I kept thinking about the book The Pillars of the Earth and his depiction of building the cathedral over multiple generations, and marveling at the detail of this cathedral and the stories it’s stones could tell.

  7. Leah says:

    Wow! The architecture! That flatbread… mmmmmm… so much beauty.

    You certainly have me thinking about a trip to Germany someday. Since your translator likely won’t go with me, I may need to work on the language a bit!

    • JudyCoatesPerez says:

      Oh Leah, you really need to plan a trip, it is fabulous. Actually many Germans speak english, I’d say only 25-30% of the people we ran into didn’t speak english. Google translate on my phone was down right miraculous for translating signs and menus. All you had to do was hover the phone over the text and the words would pop into english. I’m working on editing photos for my next couple posts on Germany, once you see those you will have a hard time not making plans! 🙂

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