Lottie Does Europe: A Lazy Sunday in Frankfurt

Lazy day, every holiday should have one, right? And although I don’t get the luxury due to my job, I’ve heard Sundays make great lazy days, so that’s what I decided for my day.

For a change, the hotel I was staying at included breakfast, so after a brief lie in, I headed down and loaded up on the continental breakfast buffet, before heading back to my room for a quick lounge, and to pack up and move on.

From Stuttgart, I drove to Frankfut, which took a little longer than expected due to pretty much every motorway on my journey having maintenance done, but that was fine; today was not about rushing.


I arrived in Frankfurt just after midday. For the first time this trip I was in a big city, with skyscrapers and office blocks towering above me, but I was overwhelmed with the calm and emptiness. The roads weren’t filled with cars, the pavements weren’t crammed with pedestrians, it would seem everyone had the same lazy Sunday idea as me. I found a place to park, and wandered through the quiet streets til I found the museum of natural history, which I was planning to visit. It was a short walk, and the sun was shining, but it was definitely considerably colder than its been anywhere else this trip.



After a few hours at the museum, which was primarily in German with only a few English translations, and mainly composed of taxidermy and large skeleton and fossil displays, I headed back to my car, and as I did I decided to stop off at a large botanical garden, with huge greenhouses and masses of park space to meander through. I spent another good few hours here, walking the park and the greenhouses, admiring the beautiful and bizarre plant life. I also stopped for a hotdog at one of the food kiosks – a frankfurter in Frankfurt, had to be done! – before continuing with my lazy stroll.




It was an afternoon of peace and quiet, and German sunshine, and it hit the spot.

Lottie Does Europe – An Afternoon in Alsace

Good evening from Strasbourg! (stupid internet at my hotel won’t allow any photo uploads, so check back for pics later!)

As I mentioned yesterday, I was up bright and early again this morning to finish the drive to Strasbourg, and by finish, I mean another 3+ hours of driving! I’m actually surprised with how well I’m doing with the long drives by myself; I think because driving is something that is often done alone, for me it makes to real difference that I don’t have any company – you know, besides the voices in my head!


I got to Strasbourg just before midday, found an underground car park and began exploring on foot. I was planning on going straight to the tourist information centre to get some ideas and info on what to do with my afternoon, but after taking a wrong turn, I ended up a little lost and decided that I would just let my feet take me wherever. I followed the pretty side streets, and eventually ended up in an area I’d wanted to visit anyway: Petit France.


Situated by the canal, the area boasts beautiful classic French houses, dating back centuries; they were just stunning! After a little more meandering, and popping into a few local shops, it dawned on me that I had no idea where I was in relation to the carpark, and no idea how to get back, but as luck would have it, I turned onto a street I remembered from driving through the city, and just followed the route I’d driven to get back. It was while I was retracing my steps that I caught a glimpse of the cathedral..


Helpfully also named Notre Dame (as I swear all French cathedrals are), it towers over the surrounding buildings, and as I marvelled over it, I realised I was just round the corner from the carpark – great! –  and that just across the square from the cathedral was the tourist centre I had been searching for – bonus! I grabbed as many of the brochures that took my interest, including one for a little train tour of the city, which was just about to leave from across the square, so I jumped on that. It took a route around the city, and had an audio commentary that I could listen to in English on headphones. For €7, it was a really great way to see around the city, and hear a little about the history.


After the tour, I thought I’d hit a few of the museums.. Turns out, most places in the region don’t open on Mondays! So after grabbing a late lunch, I decided to go and find my hotel, which I’d already booked, so I could look properly at some of the leaflets I’d collected and plan my next few days – I love logistical planning. One of the attractions, an aquarium, was only a 25 minute drive from my hotel, so I decided to head straight across there after checking in.



It was fairly small, and I was basically the only person there, but the resident cat kept me company as I went round! I was actually fairly impressed with the range of creatures; I had expected just fish but there were also tortoises, snakes, and even some crocodiles, as well as raccoons and copyu running around in outdoor enclosures.

By the time I was done, I figured there wasn’t really time to do anything else, and walking around the aquarium alone had made me feel a little sorry for myself, so I headed back to the hotel to cheer myself up by finishing planning my next few days of adventure, and spending a bit of time watching cheesy French TV while I got some writing done.

Bon nuit!

Lottie Does Europe – Le Mont St Michel

Bonjour tout le monde! (Translation: my french sucks, but hey!)

I am here! And by here, I mean:


Le Mont St Michel; you can all see the appeal of it, right?

Because, yes, it is this beautiful peninsula that got Disney creatives all inspired for the design of Corona, the island kingdom from Tangled!


So last night I caught the ferry from Portsmouth, and arrived in Le Havre at about 9am this morning and dived straight into not just the adventure of getting here, but also driving on the wrong side of the road (silly British girl I am). Now bearing in mind, before today I have never driven for more than maybe 2 hours continuously, let alone on the other side of the road, I found myself fairly comfortable with the whole situation! My new satnav, the TomTom Start 25 got me through all the tricky navigating malarky, so all I had to really do was listen, and stay relatively calm (which I did!) and about 3 hours later I caught my first peak from the motorway.

I’m not gonna lie, I welled up a little. It was that sort of gasp moment when you set eyes on the castle in the Magic Kingdom for the first time. After a series of windy little country roads I came to the official car park for MSM – peninsula and all, you can’t drive straight to it – but there are free shuttle buses, or you can pay for a rustic horse-drawn carriage-shuttle. I’ll warn you now: free shuttle sounds great, but parking was €12.50. Personally, I’d been stuck in a ferry all night and car all morning, so I chose to walk in; the information centre says its a 50 minute walk but it definitely didn’t take me that long, and I got to stop along the path and take a million pictures of this beauty!


MSM itself was actually both bigger and smaller than I imagined it to be; stay with me here..

While when you get to it, the abbey is towering and enormous, the village at the base isn’t all the much; lots of gift shops, a few restaurants and a sprinkling of small hotels, pretty much all crammed into one main street (which I loved!) and then various pathways and passages, the majority of which lead to the abbey.



By this point, I hadn’t really eaten at all, so I made the rooky mistake of stopping to buy food at the first place I saw; of course it was going to be overpriced. That said, a ham and cheese baguette, vanilla macaron and can of Coke for €10 isn’t too outrageous, but I found places further up the street were selling the same things for a little less.

After exploring the street(s), I ducked into a smaller church building for a quiet moment, before heading up to the abbey itself. Whether you’re walking it yourself or having a guided tour, you have to pay entrance, which was only €9 and I chose to pay extra for an audioguide, which I would definitely recommend if you’re not going on a guided tour. The buildings are stunning, but there’s no information around the rooms as you might expect, so without an audioguide I wouldn’t have really known what I was looking at!




It really is enormous, and that’s without access to all the areas! There was another ‘historic’ tour available, which offered tours of the dungeons, prisons etc, but personally it didn’t appeal to me all that much, so after I was finished in the abbey I wondered the gardens and hidden paths, and the top of the wall that surrounds the village. When the tide is out, school groups can walk out from the beach for ages before water gets above knee level, and there were quite a few of them about today!


So I was actually done after a few hours, and made my way back along the path to the carpark before making my way to the hotel for the night; given that I slept fairly rubbish on the ferry, I want a fairly early night tonight – its not that I’m boring! Plus, I got Cinderella on DVD for an early birthday present so I’m gonna stick that on and watch the sunset over the abbey from my hotel window – its a great view!

Good night my lovelies!

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Japan – The Unseen Bits

Its totally crazy to think that its been almost 2 whole months since I got back from our trip to Japan, and even crazier to think that there’s so much from the non-Disney side of my trip that I haven’t shared!

We had such an incredible time travelling around Japan, so today I’m just going to share a few more of the sights and tourist-y bits that we squeezed into our trip while were weren’t rushing around on the trains!



After leaving Disneyland, we had another day in Tokyo, primarily for the purpose of going to an animal cafe. If you’re not familiar with the concept, due to the fact that many Japanese people are unable to keep pets, ‘cafes’ have popped up all over the place where cats/dogs/rabbits/goats/owls are set loose for guests to play with for their paid-for time slot, crazy right?! Well we still had to go to one, and we chose a bunny cafe, specifically Mimi Bunny, which was on the 8th floor of what seemed to be a block of flats, but with a business on each floor. After changing our shoes, washing our hands and being fully sanitised, we paid for half an hour of bunny bliss, during which two gorgeous rabbits were let loose in our little area for us to feed, stroke and generally coo over. 100% worth it!

I was also pretty excited to come across a Tsum-Tsum arcade game in the street, so obviously had to give that a go (or two).






After leaving Tokyo we headed down to Osaka and set up base on the 41st floor of the tallest building in the city; the hotel lobby was on the 19th floor, and the views were incredible! From Osaka we could anywhere by the train network, so we headed down to a town called Nada, famous for the deer that roam free around the main tourist areas, including inside the temples! You can buy biscuits to feed them too, which is a good idea if you don’t want them to help themselves to the contents of your handbag, or even your map!



 We also managed to catch part of a festival in Kyoto, where there was a parade through the streets of floats that are handmade each year entirely out of wood, with no steel supports, and are pulled by hand! It wasn’t exactly the flare we imagined it would be, but it was still really interesting to watch! (It was raining, and you can see in the photos that the floats had little rain ponchos on, ha!)


We also squeezed in a few more tourist hotspots, from a bamboo trail and zen gardens, to a shopping trip in Daiso – the Japanese 100 yen store (that’s 55p!), which we had a blast in!


Our whole trip was such a unique experience, from shopping and the train system to the cultural attractions and the food. If you’ve ever thought about visiting Japan, I have two words for you: DO IT.