Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Day-trip to La Montagne des Singes & Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg

>>> Hello Monkey Mountain <<<
Since my life hasn't been random enough recently, I spent my Sunday playing 
with monkeys and exploring a 12th century castle.

La montagne des singes --> the mountain of monkeys

This was actually slightly terrifying. When my friends were talking about going a couple weeks back, I  said that I would sit this one out... Something about being face to face with a monkey that could potentially bite/scratch/attack me was not on my list of preferred Sunday activities. Then our Italian friends offered to drive us there (saving the time and money of a bus trip over), so I was fairly easily persuaded to join.

The mountain of monkeys is like a monkey petting zoo... Super bizarre concept. When you enter they ask you what language you speak, and proceed to give you a 30-second safety briefing about respecting the baby monkeys' space and whatever else. Then they fill your hand with popcorn and say "have fun" as they usher you through a gate so you are no longer separated from 200 free-roaming barbary macaques.

There's a lot more I could say about the mountain of monkeys, but I think these pictures do a really solid job speaking for themselves.

Whenever the monkeys moved quickly I got scared, but they were extremely gentle for the most part.

This little guy was playing games hopping back and forth from his raft to the land.
These monkeys were very expressive, and we spent a lot of our time laughing at their goofy gestures.

& some of them had no interest in our popcorn

The babies were adorable, but their faces were very shriveled and almost creepy.

This monkey was one of my favorites because he wasn't too quick to grab the popcorn,
he just took it from my hand calmly. Some of the monkeys would lunge a hand at the popcorn and it really freaked me out.
After we finished playing with the monkeys (read: once we ran out of popcorn, so the monkeys wanted nothing to do with us), we drove toward Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg and took a lunch break. For lunch I had a really tasty chicken sandwich, but the best part of our meal was definitely the view. We ate just slightly down the hill from the castle, but we could still see for miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers, if Europeans say that?) in every direction.
We ate our lunch at a small shop just to the left of this frame.

Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg

The castle was unlike anything I've seen before. From talking to European friends, I understand that this particular castle is not the most impressive by any means... but whoa. I was never super into Disney Princesses, but this makes me want to study the history of some of those fairytales in better detail because this was really an impressive piece of history. We walked through the castle following the brochure's guided tour, so we learned about the history of each room as we moved from space to space. There are so many intricate details in this castle which make it so beautiful... There are drawbridges, countless staircases, and networks of windows to see practically forever in each direction.

I'm curious if I'll ever get used to the beauty I'm seeing every day during this time I spend in Europe... I doubt it though. I feel like a kid wandering through these castles/cities/ruins and being completely awestruck, but there's just no good way to take it all in. I love America. America is beautiful. But America doesn't have this type of old and preserved beauty... It's too young. It can't. 

this well is 62 meters deep
as you can see here...

"[O]n the ceiling of the Kaiser room, an imperial eagle and coats of arms indicate the political character of this room." 

I figured my family in Michigan would get a kick out of the 'Hunting Trophy Room"
a real drawbridge in a real castle

My iPhone photos do not do this view justice.
(but I decided to try to capture the beauty anyway) 

One of these days Francisca and I will get a good photo of the two of us on a trip :)

Thank you again to Marco, Ralf, and Ivan for inviting us on this trip! We had an amazing day!

Obviously, I enjoy myself on the weekends I stay in Strasbourg. We're really good about finding day trips around the Alsatian region, and I love that my friends want to make these day trips a priority, also. With that said, I absolutely love the idea of really spreading my travels throughout as much of Europe as possible while these new and varied locations are so accessible to me. This is exactly why my friends and I decided yesterday to book a trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia for this weekend. We threw around plans for Croatia and Italy, but when we really looked into our best opportunity, Ljubljana was an obvious choice. We're taking two overnight buses, Thursday and Sunday nights, and we're spending two nights in a nice hostel right downtown. While we're in Slovenia, we have plans to see Lake Bled and also venture to see some of the country's impressive cave systems. I can't believe we actually booked a trip on Monday to go to Slovenia on Thursday, but I can't wait to share about our fun!

Sidenote: Yesterday I gave a presentation to French students about BGSU and the College of Business with the other students studying here in Strasbourg. It was fun to promote our Dual Degree program, and let these students know why BGSU is so special to us. I don't take back what I said that I'm not missing home very much, but between these presentations and watching Homecoming Weekend festivities this past weekend, I am seeing the bittersweet aspects of being away from Bowling Green, my college town which has so quickly become my home. 

Roll along. Talons up. Ay ziggy zoomba.
(But Europe is falcon awesome.)

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." - Tyler Knott Gregson
Smiling because I survived my trip to monkey mountain.

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