Category Archives: Family

A Weekend In Saarbruecken

 
Apart from brunching with Sherlock Holmes, here is what we did in the captivating town of Saarbrücken last year. We had to compose with the weather being capricious but fortunately, there is plenty to do inside and outside. As the city is relatively small, all sightseeing spots are easily reachable on foot, a big bonus! You can view more impressions of Saarbrücken on Of Lens And Pen.

St. Johanner Markt
As the sun was shining when we arrived, we headed to St. Johann Market Square for lunch. Being an early spring Saturday, the square was bustling and there were not many free tables to be found. There is however no shortage of restaurants and we soon settled on the terrace of an Irish pub. Lovely little shops are aplenty too.

Fröschengasse
Close to the square, this delightful narrow street was once the home of craftsmen and workers. Now rebuilt in the Baroque style, it offers a good choice of restaurants.

Europa-Galerie

Realising that being the Easter weekend, Saturday would be our only opportunity for shopping, we paid the Europa-Galerie a visit. This shopping centre is located in a beautiful building that was once the headquarters of the Saar Mining Company.

Alte Brücke

This old bridge, built in 1546 by Charles V, connects the old Saarbrücken with St. Johann. It was destroyed during World War II and only 8 of the original 14 arches now remain.

Saarkran

Dating back to 1761, the Saar Crane reminds us of the trade past of Saarbrücken. It makes a great sight when strolling along the Saar.

Johanneskirche
Of Neo-Gothic style, St. John’s Church looks impressive as you arrive from the Old Bridge. Used nowadays as a meeting point for demonstrations and peace services, it is surrounded by charming gardens.

Basilica St. Johann
A masterpiece of Baroque style and the work of architect Friedrich Joachim Stengel, the Basilica is well worth a visit. The organ, built in three individual parts that can be played independently or together, is especially striking.

Ludwigskirche
Another work of art from Stengel, Ludwig’s Church has a place of choice in the middle of Ludwigsplatz, surrounded by a palace and civil servants’ quarters. A perfect Baroque composition, visually stunning. Thanks to a painstaking restoration, one would never guess that it was completely demolished during WWII.

Saarbrücken Schloss , Schlossplatz and Invisible Memorial Square

The Saarbrücken castle has been destroyed and rebuilt many times in different styles over the years. The last renovation was done in 1989, when a central part made of steel and glass was added by architect Gottfried Böhm. The Schloss is now an administrative centre and event venue.
The few cafés nearby offer a nice view on the paved Schlossplatz. It is the home of the Invisible Memorial Square, a project of tolerance and fight against racism conducted by students of the Art Academy in 1993. Over 2,000 flagstones were removed and engraved on the back with the names of Jewish cemeteries, before being laid down again.

Museum of Regional History and Saarbrücker Kasematten
Last but not least, under the castle is an interesting museum retracing 500 years of Saarland history and the amazing Kasematten. The remains of the original castle, you can still see a dungeon, fortifications, a shooting range and a ball game hall, all from different eras. Wandering underground in this magnificently lit maze, you certainly get an Indiana Jones feeling!

As you have probably guessed, we were quite taken with the interesting capital of the Saarland region and will definitely return, perhaps this time in summer to enjoy its laid-back atmosphere even more.
 
 
Saarbruecken Germany - Colourful bags outside a home decoration shopSaarbruecken Germany - Tree with fairy lightsSaarbruecken Germany - Antiquariat Martin BarbianSaarbruecken Germany - Schlossplatz - Illuminated castle at nightSaarbruecken Germany - Old wall with ivy and mossSaarbruecken Germany - Saarbruecker KasemattenSaarbruecken Germany - Saarbruecker KasemattenSaarbruecken Germany - Garden outside St John's Church
 

Full photo gallery on Of Lens And Pen

 
 
 
 

Brunch With Sherlock Holmes

 
Last year, our party of four visited the charming town of Saarbrücken. There is more to come about our stay in Saarland and discovering the fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Völklinger Hütte, but for now let’s concentrate on our breakfast with Sherlock Holmes…

I am sure the girls would have loved for Benedict Cumberbatch to join us, but even without his presence, our brunch at the Baker Street Criminal Pub was a very enjoyable experience.

Upon our arrival, we were ushered into the Adventure Salon. Decorated in a colonial style, the room serves as a small museum for the collection of Saarbrücken explorer Heinz Rox Schulz. Admiring his mementoes and photos, we certainly wished we had travelled the world with him… There are also a bar area and another two spacious, interesting rooms in the pub. In the delightful tearoom, you are most likely to order cakes or scones with clotted cream. As for the quite gentlemanly Dr. Watson’s Club, complete with comfortable leather sofas, it is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of sherry or a drop of whisky.

The service was very efficient and friendly. There was plenty to choose from the traditional Full English Breakfast buffet and the homemade soda bread and scones were delicious.

The Baker Street Pub is definitely an address worth remembering, which we will do during our next visit in Saarbrücken.
 
 
Brunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken - Outside viewBrunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken - TearoomBrunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken - Bookshelf and cakesBrunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken - Teapot, cups and candleBrunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken - Adventure Salon - Abenteuer SalonBrunch with Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Criminal Pub Saarbruecken
 
 
 
 

Back To My Roots

 
I had not been back for nine years. My Grandmother’s native village in Piedmont. A small place built halfway up a mountain, with narrow, cobbled streets and stone houses. A short drive from beautiful Lago Maggiore and its Borromean Islands.

I spent a lovely “generation” holiday week there in the summer with my Mum, Auntie, sister and my two daughters. Cute Doggy was the only male representative! 😉 We went for walks around the village, to the nearby forest and to the “summer” hamlet, an hour’s hike up the mountain. We caught a boat to cross the lake and visited a market on the other side. As other family members were present at the same time, we had lovely meals together. Simple moments but lasting memories.

On a walk alone with the dog, I realised how much I had missed Italy. Or should I say my roots? I have always felt more Italian than Swiss. That family spirit, the love of people and spending time together with relatives and friends, often around the dinner table. I came back feeling re-energised.

I have to go back. Soon.
 
Piedmont - Italy - Church
Piedmont - Italy - Nautre
Piedmont - Italy -  Valley with river
Piedmont - Italy - Roman stone bridge
Piedmont - Italy - Religious painting
Piedmont - Italy - Oratory
 
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My Love For The UK

 
I had planned to write a post about my visit to my lovely friend Sarah at the end of May. And then Brexit happened, so I felt that I had to share some of my thoughts on this too.

I first set foot in the UK twenty-five years ago, when I came as an au pair to learn English. Back then, being Swiss meant that the family I was going to work for had to get a permit for me. The many reasons I fell in love with the country I described in my Manchester – An Anniversary post, if you want to have a read. I spent a year in England and came back, intending to stay, a year later, having in the meantime lived in Vienna to learn German, gone to Australia and worked in Switzerland. I did apply for jobs, but again, my nationality was a real obstacle. My only hope was for the December 1992 Swiss referendum to join the EEE to be accepted. 78,73% of the population voted and it was refused by 50.3%… Sounds familiar? My last hope had been crushed and I went back to Switzerland, both angry and heartbroken.

Of course, in the greater scheme of things, my personal experience is not that important. But now that my two daughters have lost overnight the “European passport” they had thanks to their British father, it makes me really sad that they, like thousands and thousands of other young people, might experience the same disillusion. To encounter difficulties in getting a university spot or a job in the country of their choice, or worse, to see their dream disintegrate should not have happened, in my opinion. And for the moment, I am clinging to the hope that somehow, it will not.

Meanwhile, my love relationship with the UK continues and I am looking forward to making more and more memories. Like the ones created during my recent trip: going to a charity barn dance, walking along the sea on that gorgeous South coast, and eating fish and chips in the pub. Or having cream tea in the gardens of Highcliffe Castle and sharing tapas, wine and laughs with friends in Bournemouth.

Until next time.
 
 
Going to a barn dance with our checked shirts and cowgirl boots
Healthy juice for brunch
South Coast of England
Enjoying a walk along the sea in the UK
Arriving at the beach in the UK
HighCliffe Castle UK
Carved wooden bench UK
Pretty courtyard in Lymington UK