Tag Archives: castle

Erice-Craze

The primary reason why I wanted to visit Sicily, was Erice. For those who have visited, they would agree with the steffisays-sicily-erice-castle-ruins-venus-venere-castelloimportance of visiting such a place, and others are curious to know why. Erice situated on top of a mountain, is a medieval fortified town with breathtaking views. You can go for a walk in the cobbled streets, for food, shopping or to indulge in its historical importance.

When we got there, it was very difficult to take it all in – I could not believe that after so many years dreaming about it, I was there in the flesh. We spent a good hour just walking aimlessly enjoying the surroundings. Although it was still April, Erice was buzzing with tourists.

Highlights of Erice:

The views
The below pictures can speak for themselves. Since Erice is so high up, you can capture beautiful photos with the castle and the wondrous beaches all around.

Castello di Venere
Although now in ruins (which date back to the Norman Period), this castle enjoys views all around. It is built on the top-most part of the castle. The reason behind its name which translates to English as the Venus Castle, is due to the fact that at the very spot there was the temple of Venus Eryx, dedicated to the Italian love goddess; mother of Cupid.


Giardino del Balio
As the name states, this is a garden, well sized  and definitely relaxing. It is situated very close by to the castle and towers, which means it’s busy and with gorgeous views. If we had a lot of time on our hands, we would have definitely sat down on the benches and watched the world go by! Unfortunately time was of the essence since we were in Sicily for just five full days, so we had to get on with the next attraction!

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Toretta Pepoli
Built on the slopes of Mount Erice, one can find a small castle which was built in the 1800s. This property was used mainly for meditation and was later on abandoned. In July 2014, it was re-opened again after several years in restoration. One now can visit to admire the architecture and of course the views.

Tasty Sicilian Nibbles
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, I recommend Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, for the typical Erice sweet: The Genovesi Ericine! We also enjoyed Cannoli Siciliani from there, and I can tell you, it was hard to just choose two from their vast variety!

Photos taken by myself while in Sicily. Kindly seek permission before re-using.. For more photos visit my Instagram page.

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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.

Belated 30th Birthday Post

Exactly five months ago, on the 16th of October, it was my birthday. My 30th.

We woke up in Scotland, because we discovered that we like traveling for our birthdays. It was a windy day! So much so, Hurricane Ophelia was visiting! This did not stop us from having a lovely day out in the countryside, visiting several castles and eating at Jamie’s Italian in Glasgow. For the first time in my life, I had a clear picture of where my life is going. I did not care where I am, I was just happy spending my day with the person who means the most to me.

In the past years, I always reflected on what I have achieved, but this time round, I reflected on my future; our future. It is true, that in the year 2017, so much has happened. For starters I went on so many holidays: Hungary, Bath UK, Wales, Romania, Denmark, Cornwall, Austria, Scotland and Germany! But the most important of all, I met Daniel who has turned my life upside down. My traveling partner, the love of my life! I finally found him, and I ain’t letting him go. 🙂

But most of all, this birthday was so significant to me because as my birthday gift, Daniel bought me a promise ring. As much as I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, I was still caught off guard. From then on, our path has become a little clearer. In fact, as of November, it’s been full-on planning for our big day coming up in 2019!

And folks, that is a happy ending right there!

Travel To These Countries When You’re On A Budget

If you’re travelling on a budget, chances are you’ve had some of the best holiday trips of a lifetime. You’ve mingled with locals, taken part in local activities, and bunked down in countless hostels. Yet, a lot of people don’t believe the amount of enrichment a person can get from a budget!

There’s a lot of budget friendly destinations out there, and even when you only have a few dollars in your pocket to pay for the street food, the accommodation and experiences can still be fantastic! Make sure to include these places on your bucket list whilst you’re missing out on rolling in the millions; there’s a lot you can do for free when you know where to look.

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Take a Trip to South Africa

South Africa is one of the most culturally enriched and beautiful places to see in your lifetime, and there’s a lot to do considering the size of the continent itself. One of the biggest and most famous activities to undertake is the Safari, as this is a gateway to a whole world of nature with the biggest and best-est animals all on show. Thankfully, this is totally within your reach when you’re on a budget!

You can even travel via the air here quite cheaply when you’re got the right resources in your pocket. When you have the best airline credit card promotion on your side, the travel itself is going to become a lot cheaper to manage. Getting rewards out of the vast mileage it takes to get here is going to be lovely to live on when you get home again!

Head to Prague

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to capital cities, and that may immediately turn you away from it, but it’s incredibly cheap to visit when you’re on a budget. There are so many amazing sights to see for free, such as the Vltava River. Even just taking a bridge tour can take an entire day here!

There’s a lot of history on offer here, with Europe having one of the most extensively recorded histories in the world for you to explore. Similarly, if you like the pub scene, there’s a lot of world famous local brews to try out here; always good for a night out with you and a couple of friends!

Try Out Bulgaria

This country definitely deserves a spot on your travel wishlist! It’s a little known tourist spot, and that title is completely unjust considering the amount of beaches alone. You can visit any stretch of sands and stone; discover so much history and nature in one.

There’s an entire and extensive arts district on offer for your eyes, and your wallet, if you pay Bulgaria a visit. Check into some of the biggest cultural hotspots in Europe just by taking a trip to this capital city, which is also pretty cheap.

Remember: a budget never has to mean you can’t explore the planet you were born on!

 

Of Cornish Beaches

I know, that in Malta, we have some breathtakingly gorgeous beaches, but they are crowded with Maltese and foreigners. So much so, that if you are not a proper beach-lover, you do not step foot on any of the beaches during the peak Summer months. In fact, this year, I have only been to the beach once, and this was in September, and only because it was an event which I could not miss – My father’s birthday.

When I mention my love towards the UK, I more often than not are told that in England there aren’t any attractive beaches. Today, I am going to attempt to prove you wrong. This year, in June my partner and I spent some memorable days in Cornwall. We both fell in love with this place, and one of the reasons is the gorgeous seasides.

Lands End
This was quite high in our priority for the very reason that it is the southern-most part of the UK. The coastal views are spectacular and it would make a lovely day out, taking in the surroundings, the wildlife, and why not… a picnic by the sea, listening to the waves, blissfully.

Kynance Cove
If white sandy beaches and turquoise coloured seas are on your list, this beach is just what you are looking for. To top it off, during our visit towards the end of June, there was almost no one around. This makes your swimming experience just a little bit more special. By the way, at low tide, you are able to explore the caves. Sadly, this was not the case when we visited!

Tintagel Beach
By far my favourite – I’d say I am a bit biased by this because of the myths surrounding this place, as well as the extraordinary weather we had and the view of castle ruins on top of the cliff! I admit, this was the busiest of the beach areas we visited, but this did not stop us from capturing several photos of this very photogenic place. You be the judge!

Gunwalloe Church Cove
Admittedly, this bay made it into our Travel Plan because there’s a very cute church and cemetery close by. In order to get to the beach itself, there’s a rather long wobbly walk. The panoramas made it bearable as well as the serenity the place offered once we got there. We in fact, had this beach for ourselves, which was rather surprising.

Poldark fans, Kynance Cove and Church Cove are two beaches which were used as filming locations. Can you imagine walking the same steps as Aidan Turner? Now you can! 😉

Schloss Drachenburg

Built in the 1880s, Schloss Drachenburg is a fairy tale castle. The architecture is full on romantic Gothic, with spires, the style of a medieval cathedral and a beautiful clock tower. It stands on a hill above the Rhine River, with beautiful breathtaking view of the said river.

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A story from the German folklore says, that Siefried has slayed a dragon up on this very mountain, which the castle gets the name from. Drachenburg, translates to Dragon’s castle in English. The actual story of this castle is however less glamorous as it was commissioned by a rich stock broker. Funnily enough it was built in two years, yet recently a 15-year restoration was completed for 31.5 million euro.

Completed in 1884, the castle started off as a private villa, then was converted into a museum, which later on was used as an “Adolf Hitler” college for boys. To this day, you can still see holes from the US artillery fires, as they smashed the stained glass windows and facade in the last months of the war. It was at this time that the Nazi schoolboys decided to stop resisting against the americans.

The inside of the castle is full of German art and craftsmanship.

See below, some photos I took of a day well-spent in the Dragon’s castle.

Such a dreamy castle!

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!

Travelling Abroad With Kids

 

Family holidays are what memories are made of; fun in the pool, ice creams and sand castles on the beach. But taking young children on holiday requires a fair amount of planning and consideration. To keep your holiday fun-filled while keeping safe and everything running as smoothly as possible, here are a few things to bear in mind.

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Get Vaccinations Up To Date

You won’t always need specific vaccinations when you’re travelling abroad depending on where you’re going. However children should be vaccinated with their regular childhood immunisations. Ideally they will be vaccinated at the routine times for their age, although if you are due to travel abroad it’s likely that these will need to be done more quickly. It’s important be be aware that not all travel related vaccines are effective in infants, and in some cases they may not be recommended at all due to the risk of doing more harm than good. Making sure your child’s regular immunisations are all up to date before travelling is important, for the full list of jabs they need check out this.

 

Hire a Car

It’s no secret that young children get restless quickly. Instead of lugging them (and all of their stuff) onto public transport you might find it’s easier to hire a car. You can load everything into the boot before you leave each day, and you have much more control of getting from A to B. Most car hire companies will offer hire of children’s car seats and booster seats too, giving you one less thing to pack.

car.JPGTravelling with kids (pic 2)

 

Get The Right Visas

A huge number of countries require Visas before you’re able to enter. For example if you’re from outside the US, you’ll require an American Visa application in order to visit. Both accompanied and unaccompanied children no matter what their age require their own independant Visa. It’s quick and easy to do, most are granted online within seconds although it’s recommended that you do this seventy two hours before you’re due to fly. The same applies if you’re an American looking to leave the US, you and the children will require Visas for a large proportion of places- so make sure that’s all sorted in advance. Something to bear in mind when you’re travelling abroad with kids, as they won’t just be covered under your paperwork.

 

Plan Activities

Having a rough idea of what you want to do while you’re away (with the willingness to be flexible) can help to add some structure to the chaotic fun. Don’t try and cram in too much, instead choose a few key activities and assign them to certain days. Leave plenty of time before and after each trip or excursion to relax and rest.

 

Choose The Right Travel Insurance

In most cases you will be able to get cover through a family policy but it’s important to read through carefully, or you could end up out of pocket if you need to make a claim. You will need something with a high level of medical cover, and which includes all of the activities your children will be doing on holiday. This is why it’s worth spending time on the point above and planning some activities beforehand, so you have an idea of what you’ll be doing. Swimming, biking, outdoor games- make sure they are all included. Don’t skimp to get a cheaper premium cost, you’re much better off making sure they’re completely covered.