Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Watercolor Travel Journal - Germany Wanderlust

Cologne Cathedral Front Portal
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Recently, my husband and I along with two of my high school classmates embarked on another  European road trip. This time we went to  Germany. We have dubbed our group the Roundabouts as an homage to the many roundabouts in Europe we were constantly going around and around in.  Of course, I had to capture the places we visited and experienced in my watercolor travel journal. This time I used  the Moleskin Watercolor Notebook (5"x8").  I started out as usual with sketching with pencil, sometimes started on site and finished in my studio at home. I will often use a reference photo when I am working in my studio. I will  then go over the pencil  sketch with black ink. My favorite is Pitt XS for it's very fine point. Then I start adding color using artists grade watercolors. In my workroom, I use a Daniel Smith half pan metal watercolor case (Thank you, Ginny!) which I filled with my favorite colors from various manufacturers such as Daniel Smith, Sennelier, Holbein, Winsor Newton and Daler Rowney. I always have fun working  on my watercolor journal after a trip because of the pleasant memories it brings. I find that I prefer sketching buildings as opposed to landscapes. Painting the journal truly makes my vacation euphoria last longer. I am also blogging on most of the places we visited.  I have made reference to and attached links to the relevant blog entries that are already published.


This painting is of the front portal of the epitome of a Gothic cathedral, the  Kolner Dom in Cologne. As we were taking pictures around the cathedral, a superfluity of nuns was going into the cathedral and I knew that was the moment I wanted to keep in my journal as a painting.

Beethoven Haus In Bonn
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

We stopped at Bonn to visit the house where Beethoven was born. It was nice to be able to be in a place where a genius was born. Maybe some of it will rub of on us. I do not think I will have any chance of playing more than a few notes on the piano but my husband, who has played Fur Elise since he was a child might benefit from the visit. For more about our experience, please visit  my blog entry, To the Beat of Beethoven.


Sankt Severius Church - Boppard
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

We fell in love with this little town, Boppard, situated along the Rhine and were reluctant to leave after some very tasty bratwurst for lunch. We lingered at this marktplatz in front of the church and rathaus and hang around by the fountain with the rest of the villagers. Please visit my blog entry, The Lure of the Loreley, for a more detailed account of this leg of our journey.


Burghotel auf Shonburg, Oberwesel
by jojo sabalvaro tan

This is the medieval castle where we stayed. It was the perfect castle experience. We loved our room that overlooked the Rhine and had a  hidden door that leads directly to the castle's curtain wall (fortification). It  gave you a feel of how the castle was defended. The entire place was decorated in period furniture but was not stuffy. For more about our stay at the Burghotel auf Schonburg, please read my blog Castles in the Air


The Residenz, Wurzburg

by jojo sabalvaro tan

Wurzburg was a lunch stop on our way to Rothenburg. It is one of the suggested stops on the Romantic Road. The Baroque- style Residenz, dubbed the "nicest parsonage" by Napoleon was built for the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg, Johann Philipp Frantz von Schonborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schonborn in 1720 and completed in 1744. It was put into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as "at once the most homogeneous and the most extraordinary of Baroque Palaces." We had a great Franconian-style lunch, where I indulged on another piece of German apple strudel, at the restaurant on the palace grounds. After lunch, we strolled around the grounds and the lovely gardens and visited the gift shop. I had fun enunciating over and over again the name Wurzburg, as our German waiter tried to teach us, to the utter exasperation of my traveling companions.  It is pronounce "Veetz-borg" in a guttural manner. Try saying it, it's really addictive once you get started.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The Markusturm and our hotel on the right in  Rothenburg o.d. Tauber
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Verschneites Plotein in Rothenburg. This fork on the 
road is the most photographed spot in Rotheburg
by jojo sabalvaro tan  2013

Hands down, the favorite place we visited on this trip, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is all it is touted to be: charming, typical old German town, fairy tale setting, interesting and picture perfect. We loved exploring this small walled town, with its towers, ramparts and streets you can delightfully get lost in. This is another place that deserves its own blog entry.


Astronomical clock, Rathaus in Heilbronn
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Another one of our lunch stops, Heilbronn is a very modern and industrial city very much like Bonn. We had lunch at the Stadtgalerie Mall and did a little shopping. Not much is left of old Heilbronn since it was leveled by bombs in World War II. It was subsequently rebuilt "from ashes."  It's location, close to several Autobahns and the River Neckar, made it the logistical center of Southern Germany and attracted many large companies to open there. The mall was actually only a few meters away from the Marktplatz where some of the older parts of Heilbronn have been restored. The Rathaus or town hall features the three-tiered historic astronomical clock I painted above.  Built in 1580, it not only tells the time but shows the month, position of the sun and astrological signs. Another point of interest is Killiankirche that dates back to the 13th and  15th centuries. The tower of the church was built in 1513-1529 and is the symbol of Heilbronn. I loved the beautiful intricate Gothic wood sculpture by Hans Seyfer that soars at  the high altar.


One of the gatehouses at the Schloss Hirschorn and
 view of the Neckar River and Odenwald Mountains
 in Hirschorn
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

The Schloss Hirschorn, high above the Neckar Valley  is the other castle we stayed at. One of the popular stops on the Castle Road, it had a commanding view of the Neckar valley, the Odenwald hills and the old town of Hirschorn which is  situated on a slope protected by the castle walls. The hotel is about 20 minutes from Heidelberg. The gatehouse in the painting is one of many on the grounds and to me, is one of the most charming structures in the castle compound. More about Schloss Hirschorn on my blogpost, Schlossing at Hirschorn.


KRuds lining up a shot on the camera at the Alstadt in Heidelberg
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013
We elected to take the train, rather than drive, from Hirschorn to Heidelberg. I think we were still having some post trauma from the scary drive in the Odenwald mountains the day before. My husband and I last visited Heidelberg in the mid 70s and curiously, I no longer have any memory of the town except seeing a bust of Jose Rizal somewhere. Nothing seems familiar so it was like visiting a new place. 

Hope you enjoyed some of my recent sketches from my watercolor travel journal and traveling with us. I will tell more stories about the places we visited in future blogs. Please tune in, 

And I leave you with a couple of thoughts from Mark Twain who found inspiration  in Heidelberg for his novel,  Huckleberry Finn.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
And, I know, for sure, that I love the folks I traveled with. 


  1. What a wonderful treat and feast for our eyes Jo! I pray you would not get tired of being prolific in your travel, memoirs, paintings, sketches and what not; you enrich us so much with your sharings. Muchas gracias y abrazos!

    Totong and Ruth

    1. Thank you. I enjoy sharing the stories and hope you don't tire of them and that the next time we would share the adventures together, once again.