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While I was in Nuremberg at the end of 2014, I visited the Albrecht Dürer house, located in the old part of town near the castle. Dürer was a painter, engraver, and printer who lived from the late 1400s until the mid 1500s. He spent time in Italy and knew famous Renaissance painters da Vinci and Raphael. His work was praised. 

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The Albrecht Dürer House in Nuremberg, Germany contains a gallery with a large selection of artwork from the artist, including some of his famous paintings. It is arranged in a gallery inside the house. The house also contains engravings, illustrations, and sketches that he made during his life. In addition, it includes personal possessions. The house itself has been left to what it would have been like during Dürer's life and time, and this also includes furniture. 

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One of the rooms at the top also has information about the style of work and how it was achieved. Although the audio guide can be listened to in English, none of the information boards had English text on them, including the interesting techniques room. There was also a section with different colours of jars that were mixed with the paint to achieve certain colours. (This was interesting, but it was in German only and I could not read it.)

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Nuremberg Castle

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A couple of years ago, I visited Nuremberg Castle. The castle is built on top of the large sandstone rock hill in Nuremberg, Germany. It is a medieval Imperial castle with castle walls; the walls have mostly been destroyed. The land that the castle occupies was occupied in 1000, but it was not until 1105 that the castle was mentioned in documents. During World War II, the castle was sadly damaged, and only the Sinwell Tower and double chapel prevented damage; the rest was rebuilt and reconstructed. 

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The chapel (which escaped the bomb damage) was in the first building that I visited, and it is constructed over two levels with impressive stonework.

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The signs at the castle were all in German, and there are guided tours but I cannot remember if these were in German only. The well room guide only spoke German, so information about the castle was scarace. Also, the staff here were miserable and rude, and I saw on Tripadvisor that others had the same problem. 

Besides protecting Nuremberg, the castle was also the place to visit for leisure and educational events. The moat was used as a training ground for crossbows, and it was also used as an observation point for viewing the stars as well as fireworks. 

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The interior of the castle has some information about the different eras in English, and it also displays many objects, but most of these did not include an English description. The mid-1800s was a time of uncertainty in Germany with many revolutions. Some of Germany wanted the great empire returned as in the medieval days.

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There were rooms dedicated to weaponry and armour, and other items were dedicated to living or religion, such as the two pieces above.

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The Deep Well was probably built at the same time as the castle, although it was only mentioned in the 14th century. The well is 47 meters deep into the castle's rock. There are guided "tours" in the well room throughout the day, but as I mentioned, these were in German only. The guide speaks, and then he cranks down the bucket with candles. A recorded video is shown on the wall behind with the walls of the well and the depth that it is at when it is traveling, as shown as a chart on the wall. We could gather around and look into the well, but wells are something I am not keen on, so I was happy enough to watch the video on the wall! Also located on this wall was a cabinet filled with items, and I assume that these items had fallen into the well at some point and were recovered.

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The Sinwell Tower is a large tower on the grounds of the castle. "Sinwell" is a German word that means "round". It was built in the late 13th century as a castle keep of the Imperial Castle. The viewing platform at the top looks over Nuremberg, and I took a lot of photographs.

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On the walk down from the top of the castle's rock, I also saw some excellent views. 

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Earlier this week, my parents and the bloke and I took a day trip to Oglebay Park Resort, which is located in Wheeling, West Virginia. When I was younger, I had heard so much about this light display from others. We never went to it because it was always rumoured to be very busy. We visited earlier in the week, and although it was busy, it was not too busy. The light display starts at 6:00pm, but we found that many of the lights were on earlier. There are about six miles of lights with some along the loop road and others down the road in another part of the resort. Some of the lights were also along the main highway that borders the park.

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We arrived earlier to avoid the crowds, and we wanted to take a look in the shops. Our first stop was to the glass shop, gift shop, and garden shop. There is also a glass museum and Oglebay Mansion museum here too. This area was decorated with lights in the shape of flowers. There was also a large nativity scene here, and this was decorated nicely. The shop in the garden house (Palm House) had a good view of the resort, and this can also be enjoyed outside.

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After getting more information about the Festival of Lights and shops, we went to a Christmas shop, which was a short drive down the road. We saw many deer in Oglebay Park. 

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Before it got really dark, we saw the most beautiful sunset.

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We spent about an hour driving around to see the beauitful lights. These were all created in different shapes and moved. We saw running deer, children having a snowball fight, a moving ferris wheel and carousel, a skiier, a train, and so much more. There are tours as well; a trolley located at the main lodge runs tours. There are also coaches that come in. Both of these options have a tour, and I believe that there is a tour on the radio that you can tune in to as well for more information about some of the lights. We didn't do this. 

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The Festival of Lights started in 1985, and it runs annually from early November until January 1st. To complete the tour, guests are asked to arrive for 6:00, but we found that the lights were being switched on earlier in most places, and they were being switched on just before dusk. I can imagine that weekends do get extremely busy.

One of the items on my list was to visit Clifton Mill, located near Springfield and Dayton, Ohio. I'd always seen photographs of Clifton Mill as it is very picturesque and used in a lot of photographs and calendars. I never knew where it was, but I happened to see it in a post about good Christmas lights to visit in various locations in Ohio. I convinced my parents and the bloke to have a day road trip with me in order to visit the mill for a meal and then to see the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill.

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Clifton Mill was purchased by its current owners in 1988, and they put Christmas lights on the mill in 1989. Each year, the Christmas lights expanded to what it is today. It starts out at 6:00pm each night; the lights are turned on, and a light show begins the display with the covered bridge next to the mill becoming illuminated while being set to music. The rest of the grounds and the mill itself is illuminated with twinkling lights, some of them appearing to be moving water, and they light up the rocks along the creek below and the mill wheel. The photographs really do not do any justice as to how awesome and beautiful it looked.

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However, it's not all about the Christmas lights. We arrived at Clifton Mill near mid-day after a two-hour car journey. In the winter, the Clifton Mill restaurant is not open for dinner unless it is a Friday or Saturday night. Instead, we stopped in to have lunch. Their breakfast menu is available all day, and my mother and I opted for breakfast while the bloke and my father had the hamburger. My mother had French toast (which was tempting and delicious), but I had the buttermilk pancakes with blueberries. Both were served with Maple Syrup. The portion size of the pancakes was huge. Apparently, those who can finish the two massive and thick pancakes get a third for free. I could not even finish one of the pancakes; they were the largest pancakes I have ever seen! The pancakes are the signature dish and are delicious; they sell them in three flavours (buttermilk, buckwheat and cornflower), and the mixes are sold at their gift shop. The pancakes and French toast could be served with pecan-syrup bacon. This tasted so good that I ordered another two rashers.

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Raspberry lemonade

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Pancakes

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Blueberry pancakes

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French toast

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Hamburger

Also located next to the mill is an old gas station with a working pump, and this doubles as a museum. I believe that gas-related items can be seen at other times of the year, but in the winter, part of it is a toy museum. The other part of it is a Santa's room, but we did not visit that area. Santa climbs the chimney once every twenty minutes when the light show is on, and he waves to the crowd before descending back into his room. The building was only open during the light show.

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Gas station

The covered bridge was also closed and only open during the light show, so we could not enter it. We could see the replica model village, though, but a few buildings and items were covered and not running; they only came to life during the light show hours. Model diners, a drive-in theatre showing movie clips, a train, and other replica buildings were on display.

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After we ate our meals, we headed out to check out the village of Yellow Springs, which had the air of a university village. We went into a couple of shops before driving to Jersey Dairy, which is another attraction up the road from Clifton Mill. They have a nice gift shop, restaurant, and crazy golf course here. The main attraction is the ice cream. For the "flavour of the week", two scoops of ice cream are given for the price of one. The flavour was "Peppermint Stick", so I had this, and the ice cream was amongst the best that I've ever had. It tasted so good, and it was so creamy and smooth (with bits of peppermint here and there). 

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Peppermint stick ice cream from Young's Jersey Dairy

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Yellow Springs

After this, we drove back to the Interstate to have a wander for a couple of hours at the Central Ohio Antiques Centre. There are a few different antique malls here, and the one we visited was so huge that we did not even come close to seeing everything before we had to leave to go to Clifton Mill to see the Legendary Lights.

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We arrived at Clifton Mill when the doors opened at 5:00pm for the Legendary Lights. The first light show takes place at 6:00pm, which we did not realise at the time. Refreshments were being sold with pulled pork, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, sugar cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, and mulled cider on offer. I ordered a hot chocolate, mulled cider, cookie and popcorn to share while we sat by the window in the mill and waited before grabbing some good spots for the light show. The temperatures were freezing again, so we watched the light show and did not hang around too long. I wish that the snow had still been on the ground in order to justify the freezing temperatures, at least.

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I found the light show to be beautiful and recommend it. Do note that it is popular, and we visited on a Monday and it was still very busy. To see the lights, it costs $10.00 per person to enter the grounds. We found this a little steep when considering that the refreshments were also costly; it was $3.00 for one of those small styrafoam cups filled with hot chocolate or mulled wine. However, I do think that the maintenance and cost of installing the lights is very expensive. Also, make sure to get there early and grab a good spot to see the light show projected onto the covered bridge as there is not a lot of room. Unfortunately, they have boarded up the windows on the covered bridge and on the opposite side of the bridge so that you are unable to take any photographs in the prime locations and have to settle with an angle of the mill. I wish that we could have taken photographs from better angles, and this is my main criticism.

From the first of November until the beginning of January, the Courthouse Light Show takes place in Cambridge, Ohio. The light show is projected onto the courthouse and snychronised with Christmas music. The lights change colour and blink on and off to reveal different shapes, which relate to the music being played. Cambridge, Ohio also offers the Dickens Victorian Village figures on display along the main street and around the courthouse, and you may have seen my previous post about this: Dickens Victorian Village

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I previously went in 2009, and that was another very cold and wintery day with snow on the ground. That year, we opted to watch the display from the car. On cold days, the light show can be watched from the car while tuning into a particular radio station. However, I survived thirty minutes of the light show in the cold this year, along with another group of people who were there before we arrived. 

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The courthouse was built in 1881. The light show consists of over 55,000 lights and three 20-foot Christmas trees and 60 animated displays. Traditional, children's, and contemporary Christmas songs are played. There are four different light shows that are between 8 and 12 minutes long each. I watched half an hour of the show.

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Cambridge's Courthouse Light Show takes place daily from 5:30pm until 9:00pm. It plays until 11:00pm on its extended days, which include Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, Christmas eve, New Year's day, and New Year's eve. The courthouse is located on Wheeling Avenue, which is the main street through downtown Cambridge.

Last week, I visited the Dickens Victorian Village at Cambridge, Ohio. This is not too far from where my parents live. The last time we visited and walked around to see the statues was in 2009, and you can read my post about it here. The Dickens Victorian Village is an exhibit that has taken place since 2006 with local businessman Bob Ley creating the figures and dressing them in Victorian fashion; Ley's business was in men's clothing. The Dickens Victorian Village and the light show at the courthouse (I'll cover this in another post) draw crowds over Christmas, and we saw at least one bus in town on the day we visited. 

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There are now over 180 life-sized figures in 93 different scenes on the main street of Cambridge, and a bronze plaque next to each one gives interesting facts and information about Victorian life. Some of these are in shop windows, and others are out in the streets. Mimicking our 2009 visit, we had heavy snowfall the day before; we'd planned to visit that day but were snowed in so planned to go the following day. The snow was on the figures and over some of the bronze plaques. (We took care to walk the pavements/sidewalks as it was very cold the day we visited and any snow that had started to melt had turned to ice in places.) 

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Cambridge's main street has a lot to offer in terms of craft shops, coffee shops, supermarkets, specialist food shop, bakeries, antique shops, and restaurants. There's also an old-style theatre, and it had just finished a production of "A Chrostmas Story", based on the film. Cambridge is also known for its glassware with local companies Boyds (now closed) and Mosser glass. Some of the glass is sold in local stores or at its location a couple of minutes drive from the main street. It's also sold in the Discovery Center, where you can learn more about the Dickens Village. We did visit Mosser's and bought some nice glassware.

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We walked up and down the street so that we could see the figures and had a meal at Theo's restaurant, which is a popular and recommended restaurant on the main street. After getting warmed up, we headed back outside to catch the Courthouse Holiday Light Show, which I will post about later.

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Dickens Victorian Village runs from the first of November until the 2nd of January. For more information, visit their official website at http://www.dickensvictorianvillage.com. Worth a stop is Kennedy's Bakery, one of the best bakeries in the area. I love the Chinese tea cakes. Also do not forget to visit the antique shops (Penny Court) and Mosser's glassware (a short drive away), and stay for the light show on the courthouse in the middle of the main street; it starts at 5:30pm.

On Saturday, I went to the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns in Ohio's Amish Country. This is an annual tour that involves visiting twelve inns/hotels that make part of the trail. Different hotels sign up every year, but hotels on past tours also sign up to generate interest. At each stop, visitors look at various rooms that the hotels have to offer, and the hotels and rooms are decorated for the holidays. Snacks and drinks are also available at each stop, and visitors pick up their free wrapped cookie at each. 

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The guide book that came with the ticket and contains information about the hotels on the route also contains a recipe for each cookie and information about the hotel. The theme for this year is "Songs in the Air, Christmas in My Heart" and is based on Christmas songs. I went on the tour a few years ago, and you can read about the 2013 Christmas Cookie Tour here. Continue reading to learn about this year's stops.

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The Barn Inn: The Barn Inn is located near Millersburg, Ohio. It is a restored barn and serves bed and breakfast and where stories about the Amish are told at breakfast time. The hotel was decorated for the holidays with the rooms decorated. Also decorated was the breakfast room, which had the tables set with festive decorations and cookies created in the shape of vintage Christmas cards out of edible paper. This year, a goat dressed in festive dress was also present and at the entrance of the hotel. The rooms and decor here are are traditional. (Cookie: Oreo Cheesecake)

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Guggisberg Swiss Inn: Guggisberg Swiss Inn, located near Charm, has 24 rooms and overlooks a valley. Horse and carriage rides are on offer, and breakfast is included. The inn resembles a Swiss chalet with high ceiling in the lobby, carved wooden cuckoo clock, and wooden bear. A few years ago, the hotel started a vineyard and creates its own wine, which can be sampled at the hotel. The rooms here are vintage-modern. (Cookie: Coffee Toffee Treasures)

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Berlin Resort: The Berlin Resort, located in Berlin, has 77 rooms and a swimming pool, sauna, fitness centre, cinema, golf green, and trail. The rooms have a modern feeling, and we were able to explore a couple of the different types of room, including the bridal suite. (Cookie: Monster Marshmallow)

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Comfort Suites: Comfort Suites is located in Berlin, Ohio. The hotel is a modern one with rooms that are decorated in a modern style. The lobby was decorated with a Christmas tree, and we got to see a couple of decorated rooms; blue was the colour used this year. (Cookie: Red Velvet Sugar)

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Berlin Grande Hotel: The Berlin Grande Hotel, located in Berlin, is a four-storey hotel with modern urban design. The rooms were decorated for Christmas with modern-but-traditional decor. One room was dedicated to the cardinal and decorated with imagery of the bird. (Cookie: Rudolph's Chocolate Cherry Bar)

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Carlisle Country Inn: The Carlisle Country Inn is located near Berlin and is a large house with seven rooms. Each room has its own unique style. The lobby has high ceilings, and a large tree and carol singers were amongst the decorations. (Cookie: Mocha Chip)

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Garden Gate Get-A-Way: The Garden Gate Get-A-Way is located near Millersburg, Ohio. It is one of the newer hotels on offer in the Amish country and features two single cabins and additional rooms in the main building. We were able to see inside one of the cabins. (Cookie: Heavenly Ginger)

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Oak Ridge Inn: Located in Walnut Creek, Ohio, is Oak Ridge Inn. Each room has a different wooden theme and colour. There are good views over the valley, and we were informed that the hotel is very popular. Due to limited parking, we parked at the Wallhouse Hotel and had a horse and carriage ride to the inn. The decor of the rooms vary, but they are traditional. Good views can be seen from some of the rooms. (Cookie: Chestnut Chocolate Chip)

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Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek: This hotel is located at Walnut Creek and was decorated nicely for the holidays with plenty of Christmas trees and festive decor in the rooms that were open to visit. Each room has its own design. The rooms featured are more traditional in design, and they offer good views. When we were leaving, they put a horse out front with a sleigh of gifts. The horse and carriage rides are located near the hotel (Cookie: Chocolate Raspberry)

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The Inn at Walnut Creek: This hotel, located near Walnut Creek, offers a selection of rooms in its main building or three larger jacuzzi rooms. The hotel is modern in style, and all rooms are on a single ground floor level. (Cookie: French Butter Madeleines)

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The Inn at Amish Door: This hotel is located in Wilmont, Ohio. On location is a large and popular Amish restaurant and shops. The accommodation is modern-traditional and the rooms were decorated well for the holidays. The lobby is beautiful with high ceilings and a large tree. (Cookie: Bell Linzer)

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Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek: Located in Sugarcreek and also close to another popular Amish restaurant is Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek. The rooms are modern-traditional and each have a balcony. Each room has a different style. (Cookie: Cinnamon Roll Sugar)

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For more information about the tour, visit http://www.christmascookietour.com.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval town in Bavaria, Germany. The name of the town means "Red fortified settlement on the river Tauber". The city retains its medieval walls and largely escaped damage in World War II because of its beauty. Its castle was built in 1070, although it was settled before this. The city walls were completed in the 13th century, and they are pretty complete today. We visited the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a day, and one of the items on the itenary was to walk the walls.

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The city walls are about 3km long with about twenty places of interest along the route. The walls can be joined at a variety of locations. Before embarking on our long wall walk, we had lunch at one of the hotels in the town. I had chicken, which came with dumplings. 

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After eating, we walked through the town to join the walls. We joined at Sieve Makers' Tower and Ruckseer Tower. 

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The Spitaltor Gate and tower is one of the locations we visited next, and this contained a bastion and the hospital and an area where victims of the plague were housed. 

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Below is a view of the tower and Pig's Tower, which was the next stop. 

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One of the buildings could be walked around in, but it was very dark in here. We saw antique equipment and cannons. The bastion can be explored, and it covers four floors with a bridge adjoining onto the other parts of the walls. Or, you could walk below the walls. 

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We headed toward Lime Tower where we saw what looked like the ruins of an outdoor theatre. Along here were also plaques from visitors who visited all over the world and donated money to help maintain and restore parts of the old walls. 

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The next area we came to were the good views over the valley and the vineyards. Kobozeller Gate is one of the gates where you could descend into the valley.

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The good views from here are pictured below.

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Looking straight ahead, where the walls continue around, we could see the tower of the castle gate and the castle grounds.

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We finally arrived at the old castle grounds. Most of the castle is gone, but the gate remains.

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The face in the wall of the old gate had hot tar poured down it to fall on people below that they did not want here.

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To continue walking around the walls, we could not access them directly as the buildings backed onto the walls directly. We walked along the street that followed the walls. 

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We came to the Prison Tower and Klingetor Gate.

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We continued along the walls, and we had good views along the northern part of the walls. We joined again at Powder Tower, where the walls continued again.

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Along this part of the walls, we also saw more plaques from people who donated to help maintain the walls, and some of these included the figure donated.

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I loved walking the walls at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and this is such a beautiful city. It took us over three hours to complete the wall walk because we did stop off and take photographs during our walk around. 

London's Christmas Lights 2016: A Trail

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Last year, I published an article about where to see London's Christmas lights. This included a map and a trail of London's Christmas lights. This year, I closely kept to this trail in order to see this year's Christmas lights. This year brought some new Christmas lights to London, but I felt some of the areas were a little under-whelming when compared to previous years, but a couple of areas that had not impressed me much in the past I thought were better this year. 

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I must start by saying that central London was the busiest that I have ever seen it. It was impossible to sit down to eat food or visit most shops anywhere in central London due to the sheer number of crowds. Walking was next to impossible; I managed to get around crowds by walking along the side of the street most of the time as the pavements/sidewalks were packed with people slowly heading in both directions with bottlenecks in some places (really, I don't think buskers should busk along Oxford Street). Quite a few tourists were out due to the cheaper pound; I'd like to know what the tourism percentage is now compared to last year at this time.

The map of the area that I cover in this post is below, with each number point as a stop-off to see Christmas lights. I started my journey in the mid-afternoon at the Covent Garden/Seven Dials area and finished at Selfridges department store at about 5:30. Note that I didn't take time to sit down to eat nor shop as the sheer number of crowds made this impossible. (I did actually arrive earlier with a view to get food, but every single place that I tried to get into had a queue out the door.) However, if you wish to start a bit earlier, make a reservation for a restaurant near to Covent Garden. Covent Garden's lights and decorations can be enjoyed before darkness sets.

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1. Seven Dials

Just north-west of Covent Garden is an area known as Seven Dials, named after a roundabout with six points and a column in the middle (pictured below). For a few years, their Christmas lights were a colourful set. Last year, they introduced some new ones with white roses. This year, they've taken on a woodland theme with a mixture of colourful birds, foxes, bears, wolves, and other wildlife to turn the area into a woodland.

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2. Covent Garden

For the past three years or more, Covent Garden has used their mistletoe light decorations inside the Covent Garden market and on the exterior of the building. This year, I also noticed the mistletoe decorations on the streets that meet at the four corners of the entrance to the market. Their Christmas tree was back again this year, but overall, it was disappointing with favourite decorations missing. The giant silver reindeer and the Lego sculpture was missing this year. The giant reindeer was missing due to a new restaurant being constructed on Covent Garden, and I assume that the people who were responsible for creating the Lego sculptures in the past have spent their time building for the new Lego store in Leicester Square. The live reindeer are also not on display (although they probably got tired/stressed of being looked at and petted). However, I did see a couple of nice displays in front of a couple of restaurants in the Covent Garden area. (At the time of publishing this, a Lego sculpture has been added to Covent Garden only a couple of weeks ago and after the new Lego store was open in Leicester Square. I will be posting about it at some point.)

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3. Leicester Square

Leciester Square now boasts a giant Lego store along with the M&M store, but the queues to get into the new Lego store were long. I did not bother. For the past couple of years, Christmas lights were hanging from the trees in the square itself. This year, the square was boarded up with a Christmas market and circus inside. On the outside of the square, wooden boarding was put up. This was decorated by illuminated drawings that school children had submitted featuring festive scenes.

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4. Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street:

The lights between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are the same lights that have been in used for at least a couple of years. The statue of Eros in the middle of Piccadilly Circus used to be decorated festively, but it still has boarding around it. I do hope that they remove this. The road looking north onto Regent Street is worth looking at here. There's a good view of the Christmas lights on Regent Street, which are arguably the best in London this year with the past few years being a disappointment. The Christmas lights feature angels.

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5. Picadilly Street for Fortnum & Mason:

There aren't any lights along Picadilly Street, but there's a nice market, bookstore, and Fortnum & Mason's. I like to see what the shop fronts look like and attempted to go into Fortum & Mason's, but the crowds inside were unbearable. These shops are worth a visit if it's not too busy and you have time.

6. Carnaby Street:

Carnaby Street has new Christmas lights every year in a unique design, and this year's features positive words of encouragement after what has been a difficult and disappointing year. Love, Hope, Wish, Joy, Kiss are some of the words formed in banners above the street. The centrepiece features the Carnaby Street name with "Carnaby Christmas Revolution" with birds and a design that reminds me of vinyl. Of course, Carnaby Street was made famous in fashion in the 1960s, so the design of the Christmas lights this year seem to be a throwback to that.

Don't forget that there are many nice restaurants/cafes/pubs here, and around the corner is Coccywoccydoodah. They always have a fascinating display of chocolates. The Liberty building is also worth a visit, and it's chocolate store is around the back (and Choccywoccydoodah is just around the corner from here.) Also, don't forget the window displays at Liberty.

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7. Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus is a great spot to enjoy the view south down Regent Street (to see the angel lights mentioned above) and to see Oxford Street's lights. The past few years, Oxford Street have used silver and blue bauble lights. This year, their lights are joined by small stars in the same design. The NSPCC (children's charity) are raising money for charity for the lights. I always walk down Oxford Street toward Bond Street here in order to see the lights on the department stores. Also, don't forget to stop off at St. Christopher's Place to see the Christmas lights. It's a little hidden narrow street off the northern side of Oxford Street (a block from Selfridges). 

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8. South Molton Street and Bond Street

Near Bond Street station, I take a diversion to walk down South Molton Street and see the lights at Bond Street, which are the diamond and peacock feather designs that they have used for the past few years. South Molton Street has replaced its purple arch lights with pillars of twinkling white baubles, which were a bit disappointing. 

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9. Selfridges

After seeing the lights on Bond Street, walk back to Oxford Street and make sure to check out Selfridges Department store for nice window displays and the lights on Marks and Spencers across the street. Sometimes, Selfridges do have lights above the main entrance, but they don't this year.

Twining's Tea Museum & Shop, The Strand

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At the end of October, I visited the Twining's Tea Museum and Shop, which is located on the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. Thomas Twining started out at the age of 31 in 1706 with one coffee shop, which became well-known and used by the likes of architect Christopher Wren. By 1708, he had two establishments. This location on the Strand was Twining's flagship shop since the early 1700s.

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Buildings were known by landmarks or imagery instead of addresses, so Twining had a golden lion painted above the door. It became known as Golden Lyon tea and coffee house in 1717. The shop was actually larger than it is currently because business was booming and the coffee and tea was sold by weight; the other part of the shop is now a pub next door.

Against all odds, his business was profitable in uncertain times of the UK (riots, heavy taxes, wars, etc), and he ran it for 35 years before he passed away.

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The front of the shop contains teas that can be purchased. There are loose leaf and bags of tea, and some of the tea is limited edition and comes in collectible tins. More expensive tea can also be purchased here. Some of these can be smelled before making the purchase.

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At the back of the shop is the museum and tea tasting bar. The museum held tea-related items and vintage tins, tea pots, pictures/illutrations, and china. Also on display were wooden boxes where the tea could be stored.

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The tea bar at the back of the shop offers tea tastings. Visitors can have a taste before purchasing their favourite tea. Four pots of tea had been brewed for visitors, but visitors could also ask for any flavour of tea stored on the shelving on the back walls. When I arrived at the tea bar, one visitor (a tourist) had just asked for a cup of the Queen's 90th Birthday tea, which is a limited edition blend. The Twinings staff worker put the little crown on her head when making this special tea. (She and all of the staff were also dressed up for Halloween.)

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Russian Caravan, a green tea Long Jing, and another black tea were brewed and were on offer to visitors. I had a sample of them.

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Twinings Tea Museum and Shop are located at 216 The Strand and is open from 9:30am to 7:00pm weekdays and from 10:00am to 5:00 on Saturdays and 11:00 to 6:00 on Sundays.

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