Tag Archives: death

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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Auschwitz – A change of heart

If there was one place that I visited in Poland, which has impacted my life it’s Auschwitz. Although I read, view documentaries and discussed this place and what happened here a multitude of times, I could not have imagined what the people have went through.

Welcome to Auschwitz

Being there, in one of the coldest days in Poland in the last ten years, I began to imagine, how these innocent people must have felt. They arrived in this destination, feeling uneased, terrified of what’s next… taken away from their loved ones. They were stripped down off their clothes and possessions. Freezing cold, working harder than you ever thought possible, malnutritioned. Did you know that these workers on average didn’t last a week? And those, were the lucky ones. The rest, well you probably already know what happened to them.

I felt sadness, a heavy heart, bad things transpired here.

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What I did not know before going to Auschwitz was to how many men, women and children this happened. Although I was familiar with the numbers, I could not quantify it. In a few words, a section of this museum (it’s no longer referred as a concentration camp) is dedicated to “Proof”. Here, you can see an abundant amount of what was left behind – shoes, hair, utensils, luggage. This was what made my heart slow down with pain and disgust, what really angered me. Now, I understood. Now, I know that this was one of the worst, if not the worst experiment that ever happened in the world.  I felt humiliated to be called human, I hope that such a thing never happens again. Although we were not alive then, we should still be aware of what occurred, and we have to be intelligent enough to not let it happen ever again.

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All photos are my own, please seek permission before making use of them. Thank you.

Musicians who have left us in 2016

What a year it has been – So many musicians and singers I hold close to my heart have passed away. It is, hard to believe – From this perspective, 2016 has been an awful year.

Finger crossed that I won’t have to update this list before year ends… 6 days to go.

David Bowie:

1-david-bowieAt the age of 69, David Bowie has left us after an 18 month battle with cancer. He has left this private from a lot of people, including a number of his close friends. Just before passing away, Bowie has just released his 25th studio album. Many fans have discovered a lot of hints about his illness and death in songs from his new album. It feels like he was ready to die, and let the world know what he was going through and struggling with in secret.

This particular announcement has shocked me to my core, considering that I have always had a wish to experience David Bowie in a concert. Although he was no longer younger, it never crossed my mind that my dream would never happen.

Prince:

Prince Rogers Nelson has been taken to hospital after his plane had to make an emergency landing. According to the reporters, this was due to the singer suffering from flu. Prince died in his recording studio at 57 years old; known for classic songs such as Purple Rain, Kiss and Little Red Corvette.

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Pete Burns:

Although in the last couple of years he has become more renowned due to his extreme plastic surgeries, Pete Burns, the singer of Dead or Alive has given us a music hit who everyone, young or old has heard and enjoyed; You Spin Me Round. Pete died at 57 after suffering a “massive cardiac arrest”.

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I will always remember watching a snippet from his interview on Channel 5, and he says: “The number of surgeries I’ve had is probably 300. I hope when I’m 80 and I get to heaven God doesn’t recognise me.”
Although he was so vain, and I would never dare touch up my face like this, I always thought that he has a great sense of humour!

Rick Parfitt

If you are into rock music, you would have heard of Status Quo – Rick is a guitar legend and has done the band proud. If you do not know who I am talking about, have a listen at “In the army now” or “Rockin’ All Over the World”. Although he has not been performing with the band due to his age, he will be missed sorely by the band members and fans. He was in a Spanish hospital after he fell ill from a serious infection.

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George Michael

The youngest of them all, at the age of 53, has died peacefully at his home on Christmas day. After massive success with his band WHAM!, he has managed to continue his solo career for a long time, and it is estimated that he sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

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Stuck For Words: Supporting A Grieving Friend

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The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things we go through as human beings. You can’t fathom the depth of pain and sadness without experiencing it firsthand. It’s also difficult watching a friend go through a bereavement. It’s natural to feel helpless and to worry about saying the wrong thing. You can’t bring their loved one back, but you can help them through the pain.

Stay In Touch

The important thing is to stay in touch. You may not know what to say, but don’t let that stop you from being present. Your friend is likely to feel hurt if you avoid her. Be honest and explain that you have no words. Tell her that you’re so sorry and that you’re there for her in any way she needs. Take a little token of your friendship, such as flowers or chocolate. This is not to make things better. It’s to show you care.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Tears

Your friend may cry, and that may be painful to watch. But tears are important. They are a way of releasing the painful feelings. Don’t run away and don’t try to make her stop. There are few greater acts of friendship than holding someone else’s pain.

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Practical Things

When someone dies, there are lots of practical things that need to be done. People need to be notified, and funeral preparations need to be made. Often this is overwhelming. Find out if there’s anything you can do to help. It may be little things like making phone calls. Or your friend may need help with sympathy and funeral flowers.

Sometimes asking what the person needs isn’t helpful. They may be inundated with offers and not know what to say. Therefore, suggesting ways in which you could help is an option. Food is always a good place to start. Even at the most difficult times we still need to eat. People will be visiting, and food may need to be provided. Preparing some meals is likely to be welcome.

Avoid Cliches

In difficult situations, it’s easy to reach for cliches. However, where grief is concerned, they are not always well received. If you have just lost someone you care about deeply, you don’t want to hear that they are in a better place. Or, that God only sends you things you can deal with. This is likely to provoke sadness and even anger. Keep it simple. Be honest and truthful. It’s better to acknowledge you don’t know what to say, rather than reaching for a cliche.

Don’t Tell Them What To Do

Everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way of navigating bereavement. Everyone must find their own process. So don’t tell your friend she’s doing it wrong. Don’t tell her the ‘right way’ to do it. Let her experience this for herself and steer her own course.

Like grieving, there’s no right or wrong way to be there for someone. First and foremost, show up. Be honest if you don’t know what to say. Try to be helpful. And then take your cue from your friend. Listen to her and be there, in whatever way she needs you to be.

Reflection

So this morning I was in work, and while I was sipping my coffee and working on my weekly reports, I hear the mention of a crashing plane. Being still not wide awake, at such an ungodly hour on a Monday morning, it took me some time until it registered in my head that there was an actual plane crash.

I was even more shocked when I Googled the words “plane crash” and I saw the word MALTA.

I have never in my 29 years of life, heard of such incidents on Maltese shores. I must say, this has shaken me to the core. I got goosebumps all over as soon as I read the article, and even more so when I watched the video. Two explosions, fire everywhere, people crying as they witness what has happened. It was crazy. Heartbroken.

There were no survivors, and if you watch the video, you can understand why.

In moments like these, I can’t help but reflect on my life. How short life is, how unpredictable it is. As a frequent flyer myself, tragedies like these although they won’t convince me to stay bound to Malta forever, make me realise how fragile we are, how although rare such things happen – even if it never occur to us that it will happen to us, or someone close to us.

With this in my mind, I urge you to hold on to your loved ones a little bit tighter tonight and to not be afraid to love and be honest always. Life is precious, and once our heart stops beating that is it.

My deepest and sincere condolences to the families of the lost souls.
Rest in peace.

I’ll be there for you…

It seems that in the past few years, several people who I used to know or I was at school with, have decided to give up. They have realised that it is time, they’d let their struggles win, and simply let go of their physical life.

The news I read today, has devastated me.

It just makes me realise how fragile we are… How people can appear like they are having the time of their life from the outside, yet they feel dead inside; empty.
I can speak from experience when I say, that some of us can hide their feelings very well from the society we live in, and only break down when alone, in a safe place. I guess, it is difficult to admit that we are weak, in the fear of being ridiculed or shut down, when we show our true feelings. Experiencing neglect and being misunderstood is definitely much worse than feeling sad and insecure in your own head.

But this is our problem. If we don’t admit defeat, if we don’t ask for help… how do we get better? How can we win a fight we are not even trying to battle?

Moreover, if it is not you, but a friend of yours, how would you manage to detect their depression, insecurities and concerns? How can you help them, without making them admit they are suffering and going downhill?

I keep wondering, if someone knew what was going on, maybe the death could have been prevented? If someone cared enough, offered a cushion or a shoulder, tried to understand… Maybe the world could lose less people to suicide.

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What’s with people?

First you open your heart to them, tell them your hopes and your dreams… your weaknesses! Let them in, show them your  wounds, your fears… and then.

THEN.

SILENCE.

Is it me?

Or are they just sons of bitches?

Why pretend you care, when you don’t?

Why do you hurt and disappoint someone who was just fine before you walked in and shattered their life into unwanted, useless pieces.

Why, so horrible?

Why don’t you just fuck off and die?

 

Of Tree Spirits and Fascinations

I think, that as a person, I hold a very strange obsession and fascination towards trees. It is not something that bothers me, in fact to the contrary, I love it. I find it very pleasant and relaxing to spend hours walking in the countryside and admiring all the gorgeous trees in the environment I am in.

I must admit, I have hundreds of photos portraying trees and close-ups of branches contrasting the sky. If you are curious, have a look at my Instagram profile, here.

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Sometimes I even wonder if in my past life I was a tree… Or a tree spirit….

Have you heard of Nymphs?
Nymphs are female spirits of nature in Greek mythology. They are protectors of all things nature; springs, mountains, grottoes, trees, the sea and rivers.

Depending of where they resided, the Nymphs are as follows: Dryads (forests), Naiads (springs and rivers),  Oceanids (the sea) and Oreads (mountains), Limoniads (meadows), Limniads (lakes, marshes and swamps), Meliads (ash-trees), Epimeliads (protectors of sheep) and Napaea (valleys and glens) etc.

Nymphs are not considered as eternal creatures; although they lead a long life they are fated to die eventually. The male version of a nymph is the Sat.

My top 3 Nymphs:

  • The Dryads are the female spirits of nature who take care of the forests. Once born, dryadeach one is born and destined to one particular tree, which she watches over all her life. In some cases a dryad lives within the tree and are not tree spirits. These type of dryads are called Hamdryads. In both cases if the tree perish, they will die with it. If a mortal kills the tree, it is said that the Gods will punish him for the said deed. The dryad, as the protector of her own tree, would also punish a mortal should they cruelly injure their tree.
  • The Oreads; from the Greed word oros, which translates to mountains, are the nymphs of the mountains and grottoes. It is said that these nymphs would come out in joyful and rather loud groups to hunt animals and birds of prey with their arrows.
  • The Naiads are fresh water nymphs. They are said to preside over streams, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds and rivers. The Naiads were considered to be very loyal to their body of water; to the extend that if it were to dry up, they will die. The water which is taken care of by the Naiads is believed to be endowed with powers; be it inspiration, medical or prophetic. So much so, that these nymphs were continuously worshipped by the ancient Greeks for fertility and growth.

 

 

 

 

Restless nights and its atrocities

What I refer to dreams in this article are the ones you actually get while you are asleep, not the other kind which I aspire to reach in the coming days, months or years.

I am not one who dreams a lot, or maybe I do… but I don’t remember them… not even briefly; Except when I have a nightmare.

In real life, we tend to remember or focus more on the bad stuff rather than what is going well and what makes us happy. It tends to be easier to remember how someone has hurt us, rather than the many times they managed to put a smile on our face.

And it seems like when it comes to dreams, my brain tends to highlight the bad stuff too. Not only that, but I manage to wake up at ungodly hours, become annoyed about what made me have such a nightmare, and as soon as I fall asleep with the hopes that the dream ends there, it ironically continues right were it paused earlier. The HORROR!

Because having a restless night is not enough, I end up in a bad mood and wonder why I dreamt this. Although I do not believe that dreams mean something in particular, sometimes I wonder if my nightmares are trying to indicate something wrong with my life.

 

 

The world will NEVER forget

I have tried, to write something on what has happened this Friday in Paris, and what has happened on Thursday in Beirut, but I have realised that no words of mine would be enough.

Until, today I stumbled on the words of Isobel Bowdery, a 22-year-old who was at the rock concert in Bataclan in Paris. Here, is what she had to say, after the ordeal she had to endure, with other hundreds of people, of which some did not make it out alive;

“you never think it will happen to you. It was just a friday night at a rock show. the atmosphere was so happy and everyone was dancing and smiling. and then when the men came through the front entrance and began the shooting, we naiively believed it was all part of the show. It wasn’t just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right infront of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken. in an instant. Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless.. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry – not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn’t. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I – to have a fun friday night were innocent. This world is cruel. And acts like this are suppose to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circuling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticoulsy aimed at shot people around the standing area i was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn’t feel real. i expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare. But being a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst i whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy i loved was dead, to the injured man who i had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so i wouldnt have to wear this blood stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support – you make me believe this world has the potential to be better. to never let this happen again. but most of this is to the 80 people who were murdered inside that venue, who weren’t as lucky, who didnt get to wake up today and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through. I am so sorry. There’s nothing that will fix the pain. I feel priviledged to be there for their last breaths. And truly beliving that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As i lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. over and over again. reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those i love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep belieivng in the good in people. to not let those men win. Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. to live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.”

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No words were edited. Sharing them here is out of respect and a way to remember what has happened… As yet again, this is a tragedy which the whole of Europe and the rest of the world will not forget.

RIP to the lives lost.