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Best Castles in Germany

I have quite a soft-spot for Germany. My fascination started way back when I was barely a teenager. At that time, I was supporting the German National Football Club, better known as Die Mannschaft. Since then, I discovered another love – Castles. After exhausting my travels in the UK, in 2016 I started traveling to Germany. So far, I have visited between 30 to 40 castles in Germany and based on my experience, I would like to write about my favourite 5 castles (so far!) in Deutschland!

Burg Hohenzollern

Located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, one can find a very distinguished castle.  What I would also call distinguished is the view from the castle onto the surroundings; the mesmerizing view of the Black Forest. Upon entering this castle, one would realise that no expense was spared in building and maintaining this castle.

The first mention of the castle was in 1267, however the mentioned castle was completely destroyed in 1423. Roughly 30 years later, the second Hohenzollern Castle was built – now bigger than ever. The fortification around it is a testimony of several conversions the castle has endured during its lifetime. To this day, the structure is sound and in perfect condition thanks to all the tourists who have visited and will visit in the years to come. Personally, I appreciate it when admission fees are used for the maintenance and renovation of the castle I visited.

 

Burg Eltz

Located along the Mosel Valley, one finds a breathtaking castle by the name of Eltz. Remembering the first time I visited this castle, I was unaware of the long (and pleasant) walk in the forest to reach it. We were puzzled; How is it that we are visiting a castle so out of sight? Trust me, the fifteen minute walk is worthwhile. If you find this as an obstacle, you can always take the shuttle bus however! English tours are available in this castle which is kind of expected considering how popular this castle is.

The castle is still owned by the same family who around 33 generation ago lived there. Eltz is one of the only three castles on the left bank of River Rhine which has never been destroyed. Construction started prior to 1157. Another house within the castle was built in the 1400s, whilst the third part of the castle was considered finished in the 1530s. The upside of this last construction is the fact that each room was heated, unlike the remaining parts of the castle which were partly heated only. The Eltz family is still considered noble to this day.

Schloss Drachenburg

Although Shloss Drachenburg looks like a castle, in fact to me, it looks very similar to Disney Castle, this is considered as a villa. What is unbelievable about it is that it was built in just two years between 1882 and 1884. It belonged to a banker who initially planned to make it a home, but then he didn’t. It was later donated to the State Foundation and is now open for the public. The western facade of the palace was heavily damaged in WW2. The restoration took many years to fulfill as even roofs needed to be replaced.

Aside from the beautiful views of Bonn and the river from the very top of the castle, one must admire the interiors who have been hand-painted all these years ago and are to this day so well maintained. I also remember huge stained glass windows, with details I have never witnessed before; and even after visiting several other castles in other countries, still remain unbeatable…

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein – such a big name, for such a small castle! One can find this little gem in the middle of River Rhine. In fact, to gain access to it, you’d have to ride a short boat trip. Once we arrived on Falkenau island we started by admiring the river from a different angle. We also noticed that from a certain level, this castle looks like a ship. Since the river’s depth varies due to seasonality, the castle had to be built in such a way that it did not flood when the water rises.

Built between 1326 and 1327, its function was as a toll-collecting station. A chain across the river forced ships to stop and pay the fee. If they did not cooperate, they were kept in the castle’s dungeon until a ransom was received. Although the castle was restored to its glory, to this day one does not find neither electricity nor a lavatory. The area is a World Heritage site.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Possibly the more popular castle not only in Germany but worldwide. What many do not know, is the sad story behind it. Back in the 1800s, the King Ludwig II, started to build this most magnificent and luxurious castle, only he died before it was completely finished. In fact, the king only lived in the castle for 172 years (in his private headquarters, whilst it was still being built), and it was opened for public viewing shortly after he died in the year 1886.

It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day […]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world…

— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868[14]

 

Most of the photos above are my own (apart from interior photos of Neuschwanstein, Eltz and Hohenzollern for the simple reason that it was not allowed). Kindly seek permission before re-using.

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Mistra Bay nature walk

One thing I struggle with in Malta is to choose where to go to enjoy a lovely nature walk. Finding a place which is not crowded proves to be difficult at the very least.

At this time of the year, Malta is at its greenest. It encourages me to go exercise, snap some photos and enjoy a picnic with loved ones or friends.

Recently my boyfriend and I have visited Mistra Bay. Previously, I have only frequented this area in my childhood for swimming and BBQ-ing. This time round, our plan was different, and I was pleasantly surprised by the nice views once you get walking along the cliffs. The shallow water is lovely to look at, the breeze is fresh and clean.

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My excitement was hardly contained when we came across what looked like an abandoned room, with a very panoramic view. Walking into it, and absorbing the scenery… Reading through the graffitti, I found a mark which said that this was a fire-station. We tried to come up with reasons why this was suitable, but seeing that there were no villages or towns close by, it hardly made any sense to have one at this location, on the very edge of the cliffs.

We stopped for tea and snacks further up, facing the breathtaking St.Paul’s islands. I have never looked at them from this angle; gorgeous none the less!

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Photos used are owned by myself. Please ask for permission if you’d like to use them.

Seven Incredible Places In Thailand You Just Have To Visit

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Thailand is such an incredibly rich, diverse, and beautiful country. If the food doesn’t make you fall in love with it, the people certainly will. And its history and culture have remained untouched, despite the fact it is one of Asia’s most frequented countries by visitors. If you’re considering a trip to Thailand, or you knew you wanted to visit East Asia, but you couldn’t decide where, let this be all the incentive you need to book your flights to Thailand and have the adventure of the lifetime. Here are seven things you just can’t miss.

  1. The sights of Bangkok

Understandably, the capital city of one of the most beautiful counties in the world is absolutely stunning. Even if you have no interest in a city break, and your holiday is purely for relaxing on a beach or exploring the jungles, don’t miss out on a couple of days in Bangkok. The sights such as the Grand Palace and marketplaces make this a truly unique city, worthy of a day or two of exploration.

  1. Visit the long neck hill tribe villages

The culture of Thailand has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, and this includes some of the tribes in the rainforests and mountains. The hill tribe villages are still known for their beautiful handmade clothes, traditional crafts, and their original look with long necks, elongated by brass bands wrapped around their necks.

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  1. Explore the Chiang Rai White Temple

The stunning temple was built to symbolise Buddha’s purity, but the style does not follow suit of other more traditional styles of Thai architecture. It’s a visually interesting piece of art and place of worship that is an absolute must for anyone staying in Chiang Rai.

  1. See the Bo Sang umbrella village

Near Chiang Mai, the umbrella village features handmade bamboo umbrellas and parasols, made in the traditional way. It is free to watch the women expertly craft these umbrellas, and visitors can buy them to take home as mementos if they wish, but it’s also just a beautiful place to visit and experiencethailand-3Image Credit

  1. Take a boat at the Damnoen Saduak floating market

East Asia is famous for its many styles of floating market, and Thailand is no different. In particularly watery areas of the country, their markets have been this way for hundreds of years, so there’s no plan to change them yet. They’re visually stunning, vibrant, and exciting places to visit, and the street food is exquisite.

  1. Visit Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai is perfect for a few days exploring, or even a while longer. It’s a popular place for people to volunteer in Thailand teaching English and computer skills, as it’s very traditional, but the locals are friendly and welcoming.

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  1. Explore the Ayutthaya National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site is full of the mystery of the Orient, with incredible archaeological sites from when it used to be the second capital of Siam. Explore the ruined temples, palaces, and Buddha statues, and the iconic overgrown Buddha head at Mahathat Temple. The whole park is awe-inspiring for people of any age.

Hopefully, you’ve got all the reasons you’ll ever need to visit Thailand, because when you’ve been once, you’ll want to return again and again.

 

Perfect Perth

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Perth not only enjoys wonderful weather, beautiful beaches and a laid back demeanor but there is more to this captivating city than the myriad of bars, restaurants and activities. Perth’s pristine parkland, nearby bush, and river and ocean beaches allow its visitors to spread out and enjoy what’s on offer.

The transport system is fabulous but to truly take advantage of all that’s on offer you may wish to hire a car. Burswood Car Rentals offers free delivery to all city hotels allowing you to explore further afield and visit some of the less well known yet spectacular spots that cost next to nothing. (Please note that costs may apply for some activities)

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park is accessible from Rockingham which is less than an hour’s drive south of Perth. Swarming with marine life including sea stars and urchins as well as a number of fish species flitting through the shipwrecks and makes for excellent diving, snorkeling and wildlife watching. While in the water you’ll probably run into a pod of bottle-nose dolphins and can swim with these on the regularly operated tours.

Penguin Island, a breeding colony for an array of perth1incredible birds, has Little Penguins which breed in the burrows and you can watch them being fed at the interactive center.

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If you have a dive permit, The Saxon Ranger, a 400 tonne former fishing vessel takes residence at the Park. The boat is first purpose sunk dive wreck in the Perth metropolitan area.

Just 20 minutes east of Perth, sample the divine fruits of the vineyards of Western Australia’s oldest wine region at the Swan Valley and Darling Range.  Here you may indulge on award-winning local produce, discover the incredible local heritage or simply relax in the stunning bush-land of the Darling Range. The antithesis of the bustle of city life, it can be reached via road or aboard a Swan River Cruise from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

Sharing a glass of red with the vineyard owners, they are happy to recount stories of the generations of their families who owned the vineyards before them, some dating back to the early European settlers.

With over 70 eateries to choose from you are spoiled for choice or pack a lunch enjoying the breathtaking views of your surroundings.

You can also partake in many activities including horse riding, cycling and Indigenous culture.

perth2If you fancy getting even closer to some furry friends, head to Caversham Wildlife Park –  where close encounters with kangaroos and koalas is order of the day.

Alternatively you could choose to drive along the Great Eastern Highway to the blissful tranquillity of the Avon Valley heritage town in under an hour and a half. One of the few towns in WA to hold ‘Historic Town’ status, the proud residents of York have taken great care over restoring its many Victorian and Federation buildings. Due to retaining its heritage charms, it remains Perth’s favourite country escape.

No wonder this area is a top spot for romantic weekends or family fun.

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey has been in my must-see list for years. The reason it took me this long to visit is because it is in the South of Wales, and I have mostly traveled to the North and Mid Wales as it is more accessible for me, due to Manchester and Liverpool airports being so close to my destination (also I have never driven in the UK, but I probably should…).

I would say that the Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the most beautiful monastic ruins, not just in Wales or the UK, but within Europe. The location of the abbey is very scenic, and the village of Tintern is tiny. In fact, after spending hours in this serene place, we walked to the village for a snack. We even watched River Wye which runs behind the abbey and through the village. The river has been an important source of water which sustained the villagers and monks, and is till useful at this day and age.

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The abbey was founded in 1131, by the lord of Chepstow and the building and its surroundings kept growing exponentially until its closing down around 400 years later. In the 13th century, Roger Bigod rebuilt the church, and as a thank you his coat of arms was put in the glass of the east window. This church forms the largest part of what is still remaining today, and is a great example of welsh architecture of the medieval period, even if in ruins.

Although it did not have much importance history wise, what is left of this abbey is a major tourist attracting in the South of Wales, as is Caerphilly Castle, Raglan Castle and Cardiff Castle in the capital city of Wales.

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What’s Up

My blog is a priority to me, however there are times and things that surpass my blogs. Such things are travelling and starting a new job; which in this case are very, very true.

In the last month and a half, I have taken time travel and in total I have visited 5 countries in almost 3 weeks. This has not only led me to learn new things about different cultures and do plenty of sightseeing, but also helped into finding myself again. To me, traveling is the very best thing. It is new and exciting… an adventure!

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For more photos of my travels and my endeavors please follow me on Instagram: SteffiWorld.

After making it back to Malta, I have spent a few days catching up with friends, doing the laundry and relaxing. This is because two weeks ago, it was time for me to change my job. This time, my role is Reporting Specialist, which is highly focused on reporting – gathering data and specs, creating the reports and reconciling. It is a very exciting role as there are a lot of changes going on, and my role is a part of it, and in two years time, I am hoping to see myself in a managerial position. I have been aiming for this for some time, and it has gone unnoticed in my past job, so I am very happy to be in this position now.

I have noticed in the past weeks, that my followers on WordPress have been increasing exponentially which is great to say the least. While I would like to welcome you all to my humble blog of anything that comes to mind, I would also like to excuse myself for the lack of writing, and hope that going forward I will have more energy to entertain you!

I am going through changes…

Five more days, until I say goodbye to Betsson.
Yes, you heard things right.
I am leaving Betsson Group. 

After almost 4 years, I have decided to move on to a new challenge, to a job which will hopefully take me where I want to be. For years, I’ve expressed my unheard wishes, so I decided to take my future in my own hands, sort it out myself.

With a grunt, I shall leave behind, the company I have worked for the longest, and some of the best colleagues I ever had the pleasure to work with. Truth be told, all my closest work mates bar one, have moved on to another job role before me, so I am not too displeased with my current situation. Besides, friends should find a way to communicate and to meet up, so let’s see the outcome of this little experiment 🙂

So what will happen of me, and of SteffiSays?

I will be taking a much needed 4 weeks off, out of which, I will spend 1 week in North Wales and 2 weeks travelling (Roadtripping, baby!). Right after, I will do some house maintenance, and will start working in my new job in the fourth week of September. SteffiSays will stay, there’s no way I will abandon my personal blog which has served me so well in the past 2 years!

Excited?
Hell yes! 

Although for the time being I will not say much about my new job, I am ecstatic for this opportunity, and for a company to believe in me and see my potential. I believe that in my new role I will be able to make a lot of changes and positive differences to drive the company in the right direction and to the next level. So, CHEERS!

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Look at the bright side….

Related to the post I submitted earlier, I think that in life, we should be thankful for what we have, and rather than complain about what we don’t have, we should make a plan into getting there. Be it financial, materialistic, emotional, there is nothing out of reach… if you want it hard enough!

It is also high time, that we learn to appreciate what we have, rather than focus just on what is lacking in our life. We all have some good things going on, but we are too busy to notice.

And maybe, just maybe, if we respect one another, if we are there for one another, we can all get there quicker. We all need support, someone who understands us, someone who makes our problems go away or feel minuscule.

– Love like you have never loved beforeidea.png
– Trust as if your life depends on it
– Support and listen to one another because you could make all the difference
– Understand someone’s behaviour and insecurities
– Don’t judge people, even if you have been in their shoes
– Show your feelings, be upfront with anyone and everyone

Stop being so goddamn selfish, admit your mistakes, learn from them and move on! The world need more happiness and less carelessness 🙂

LYRICS:

Flint Castle

During my last visit to North Wales in November, my boyfriend who knows how much I adore castles took me to Flint Castle. I did see some photos of the castle before we made way to it, but as soon as I saw the castle up on a green grassed hill, I realised that the photos didn’t do it justice. Although not massive in size, the location and the atmosphere was amazing. The fact that we were the only two people on its grounds made it even more special.

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A little bit of history

The castle has been erect for over 700 years now. In fact the building work began in the year 1277 and was finalised in 1284. It took 1,800 workers and masons to built the foundations and the castle itself. This castle was the first castles to be built after King Edward I invaded Wales. The design of the castle is a mix of Gothic architecture of the Medieval era together with the design of a Concentric castle – making it stronger, bigger and more luxurious than most castles built during the same time. Flint Castle’s unique fortress design was not repeated in any other castle, and as such the layout at Flint remains unique throughout the British Isles.

One important feature of flint Castle is its access to the sea. This not only speeded up construction due to the ability of transporting equipment and building materials by boats, but also helped in the success of the new fortified town which was built around the same time as the castle. This ensured that the town had fresh food supplies and provisions which prevented its occupants from starving to death during the siege warfare.


The castle is located on the North-East coast of Wales, which gives a magnificent view of the shore and Liverpool in the distance.

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Interesting facts

– In 1399 Richard II of England was held by Henry Bolingbroke at Flint Castle before returning to London
– During the English Civil Wars which started in 1642, the castle was held by the Royalists. After a 3 month siege it was then captured by the Parliamentarians in 1647. In order to prevent the castle to be used again in a conflict, the castle was set for destruction. It is because of this, that what remains today is ruins.
– Today, the castle is maintained by CADW which is the Welsh government body that conserved and promotes the building heritage of Wales. The castle can be accessed by the public for free.
– In summer 2009 the castle was temporarily closed due to anti-social behaviour as teenagers were drinking and vandalising the castle. It reopened after CADW liaised with police to improve security at the castle.

The Art of Jealousy

Some, argue that jealousy in small doses is good for a relationship or a friendship to grow. I certainly disagree, and I do so from previous experiences.

It is true, that when your partner is jealous of you, (s)he would give you moreattention. But this kind of attention, is not necessarily the good kind of Jealous-muchattention that you are seeking for. Jealousy is more often than not derived from lack of trust and various self-insecurities (Maybe because of previous life experiences or trauma? Psychological issues?). It will urge you to be possessive, be suspicious and in the long run threaten your relationship.

If you can’t trust your partner, why are you with them in the first place?
Issues related to jealousy and trust, will eat you from the inside. You’d become paranoid, with a feeling of abandonment… No relationship with these symptoms can end well.

It is a known fact that leading cause of spousal homicides are related to jealousy. 

On the other hand, your partner will feel badgered and frustrated because (s)he is not being trusted. All the mundane and constant questioning is tiring;
What are you doing?
Where are you?
Where are you going?
Who you’re going with?
These questions are demoralising, leaving the person without any personal space and feeling guilty.

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It is okay that your partner wants some space, to do some things (s)he enjoys doing alone.
You can agree on an evening a week to spend apart, play that game you wanted to play, catch up with friends or go clothes shopping. I believe, it is important to have a life outside your relationship.

My advise:
1. Put yourself into his or her shoes – how would you feel if this jealousy issue was the other way round? Does your friend / partner deserve this?
2. Communicate your feelings constructively and without blaming the other person