Tag Archives: germany

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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Farewell, Lukas Podolski

I do not write about football or footballers much, but I am an avid fan of the German national team since the age of 15. That is almost half my life now! Last night was a sad night, as it was Lukas Podolski’s last international game.

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Lukas Podolski cheering after scoring his last goal in his final International Game. What a star!

Born on the 4th of June, 1985, Lukas will be 32 this year. Although he was born in Poland, he has German nationality, which allowed him to play for the German national team.  As a youth, he started off his career in Cologne. He later on joined Bayern Munich, then returned to his home town in Cologne. In 2012 he signed with Arsenal for a fee of £11,000,000. This is the club, together with Cologne in which he shined the most. Currently he is still playing with Galatasaray, a turkish football club, with a salary of around £2,500,000 each year.

He was capped by the German National team in 2004, and since then he became the third most capped player in Germany history, with 130 caps, and also the third highest goalscorer in German history, with 49 goals. In 2013, Podolski scored the fastest goal in German history; he scored after only 9 seconds in a friendly game against Ecuador.

After the Euro Cup 2016, Podolski announced his retirement from international football in order to focus on his family life. He married Monika Puchalski in 2011, and together they have a son, aged 8 (born 2008).

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I have watched Podolski’s career closely with the national team and he has been one of my favourite players. Last night’s win against England would not have happened if it wasn’t for his unbelievable winning goal. What a tribute, and a great way to finish his career with the German team!

Watch the goal here:

Watch his top 10 goals below:

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!

It has been 1 year!

happy anniversary with wordpress

The 30th of December 2014, was the day when I officially started off my blog. One year later, with close to 17,000 unique readers and 180 blog posts, I can happily say that I managed to keep my last year’s resolution. I have had readers from 112 countries around the world with my top 3 countries being Malta, Germany and almost a tie between US and UK.

2015, was a very interesting year for me.

I have had too many opportunities to call it quits this year… had a lot of struggles with the house, finances, friends wise, emotionally… but at this point in time, I feel happy. I have tackled every issue I have encountered; I know I have not fixed them all to their entirety but I know that eventually, I will get there. I have took the bull by the horns; I’m fighting….  and I am winning.

Finally, I feel like I am in a good place, and I am getting what I deserve.

Here is, to another new year of fighting, not giving up and chasing dreams.

cheers

Happy New Year to all of my friends and frenemies!

The Art of Travel

I would say, that I am at my best, when I travel.

At those moments when I am traveling, I do not care of what the weather holds, rain or shine, I’m ready to have an early start of the day and get exploring. Of course, I would most likely explore, what I had been planning for days or weeks on end, before the holiday kicked in.

Which brings me to the most fun traveling factor: Being a planner, I usually take the lead on all things which could be planned, such as events to go to, places to visits and how to get there. Before every vacation, I make sure I have a booklet featuring all the above, including maps, expenses involved and opening hours.

Living and traveling overseas, has matured me so much, in the sense that, every time I travel, I go to a place which I have never been before, which would mean, that I need to be mentally ready to “get lost” and also to “ask around for help”. Those who know me well know, that I am most of the time too stubborn to ask for help or advise, as I would rather be on top of things myself. If I figure it out myself, I’m better off. However given the experiences I had in the past, traveling alone or with a friend, sometimes you just have to take the easy way out and ask… especially when you are running out of time or late to a do!

Traveling has not only matured me, but opened my mind to different cultures and people behaviour. I have learned and experienced a lot of history. I have curiously watched people going around towns and cities and in my mind, I would think of what it would be like being in their shoes. It is a little game I like to play, especially when I’m on a train or waiting to catch a bus. Sometimes, I’d be lucky enough to get into a discussion with local people around me, which helps me understand more the surroundings and why people behave in a certain way.

If traveling is a hobby, then I dare say that it is the greatest hobby of all. No other pastime can be compared in my opinion, as what you do while on vacation will be instilled in your mind, body and soul for the rest of your life. It is something you’d think about, and smile about.

I can’t wait to get planning on my next proper vacation… I see Poland and Germany on the horizon… It is a matter, of making a dream come true… Maybe in 2016? 🙂

My confession…

A lot of people, think it is a bit strange for me to support the German National Football team, rather than any other team which is much more popular over here in Malta; namely England and Italy. I do not know how many times I had to answer why I am a supporter of the German team….

Today, I will write it on my blog, and for a reason.
Today, it is his birthday. 

Back in 2002, while I was watching one of the World Cups that I Fußball WM Deutschland - Südkoreaactually vividly remember, I have spotted this really amazing goalkeeper. He conceded only one goal in the course of the cup until the final, in which the German team lost against Brazil with the score of 2-0. I was impressed by his skills and precision, and this is when football made sense to me. This is when I chose my team. I am writing about the one and only… Oliver Kahn.

Today, he is 45 years old.

Among the honours and awards along the years:

  • He was voted the Best player and Goalkeeper during the 2002 World Cup which is in my opinion very well deserved.
  • He has also been given the title for the World Goalkeeper of the Year in 1999, 2001 and 2002.
  • Others worth mentioning are four consecutive years (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) as UEFA Club Football Awards: Best Goal-keeper
  • Gaining third place in 2001 and 2002 in the Ballon d’Or.

In remembrance:

Tattooed Footballers

While watching the Champion’s League final last week, seeing Juventus butchered against Barcelona, with a score of 1-3, I realised that a lot of the football players on the pitch sported tattoos, on their arms, legs and some on their chest. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, and I love tattoos, so this was heaven for me! But after seeing this, I got curious to see which footballers have the most tattoos.

David Beckham

David Beckham needs no introduction, especially to his career with Manchester United. Growing up, I remember that one of the footballers who started the tattoo-fashion was David Beckham. His tattoos are barely football related, bar the number ‘7’ which he claims is just for luck. Most of his tattoos are dedicated to the love of his life Victoria Beckham, and his children. He uses tattoos as a way to express himself and his feelings, for instance during the infamous allegations of his affair, he tattooed his upper right arm with an angel and the saying “In the Face of Adversity.”

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Sergio Ramos Garcia

sergio ramos 1Sergio Ramos Garcia is a professional Spanish footballer who plays with the national football team apart from playing with Real Madrid. His first tattoo was a goblin, which he got when he was 14 years of age. He explains how his father was very angry when he found out, Amongst his other tattoos, one would find his parents initials and on his left middle finger, he has the initials of his three siblings. His siblings also have the same tattoo. Sergio has a Nelson Mandela quote on his ribs and also a football related tattoo on his right calf; in fact this shows the World cup and the date 11-07-2010.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan is the captain of Sweden, which is his national team and he also plays for a French football club called Paris Saint-Germain. The almost two meters tall footballer claims to have 50 starving people’s names tattooed all over his body. He wants to make the world aware of the fact that 1 in 9 people suffer from hunger everyday. He is using his body as a tribute to them; whenever we see him, we see them. What a guy!!

epaselect epa04619436 Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint Germain celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the French Ligue 1 soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SM Caen at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, 14 February 2015.  EPA/YOAN VALAT

Kevin Boateng

Boateng, born in Germany however plays iternationally with Ghana as well as FC Schalke 04. He is also known as Kevin-Prince by his shirt name. At the age of 28 he is already quite covered in tattoos. The ink in Chinese has always been my favourite from him, not because of the language chosen but its meaning; 家族, 健康, 愛, 成功, and 信任, meaning “family, health, love, success and trust”.

kevin boateng

Daniel Agger

daniel agger 2Daniel Agger is the team captain for the Danish national team and also part of a local Danish football club by the name of Brøndby IF. He is mostly famous while he was part of Liverpool’s team. So much so when he inked himself on his knuckles with the abbreviation ‘YWNWA’ which means You will never walk alone. He has done this to remember his long time serving this team, and living in Liverpool (2006 to 2012). His back is filled with a massive Viking tattoo of  Holger Danske which comes from a Danish folk legend. He has the names of his wife and his two sons as well as his siblings on his body which shows he is also a family oriented man. daniel agger

Germans have good sense of humour; Part 1

If you think, that the Germans have terrible sense of humour, let me start helping you think otherwise.

Meet this metal-core band by the name of: We butter the bread with butter.

Who would in their right mind name a band like this?
Especially a metal band;
Who would take it seriously? The name is so far from hardcore… But this is what made me look into this band. Funny stuff… And lets just say, that it works… marketing wise!

The songs are awesome, I especially love the song Exorzist.

Meet the band

www.martinlandsmann.de

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Listen to the band

P.S. I am not German, and I was not commissioned to promote their sense of humour either 😉

Best European Country to purchase Tech Stuff

Being the techiest (and probably, geekiest) person in my group of friends, I am the go-to person when it comes to technology questions and suggestions. Although I no longer informed about all the latest IT discoveries, I am very keen on it, and I seem to have the right answers to most of their dilemmas.

I do love this, and I enjoy the fact that I can help my good friends. But, I always fear that I might get blamed if I don’t give them the best solution.

One of the questions I get to answer, is ‘Should I buy gadget X from Malta?‘ If this gadget is something which was released in the last 6 months (or year), the question is likely to be no. Due to importation expenses, and the fact that Maltese businesses seem to always want to make a lot of profit, the prices are usually high.

Lets take an example. This week, I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S6.

Price on the Samsung Importers website in Malta:

samsung galaxy malta

Price on German Amazon:

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If you are a bit more patient, you can even get it cheaper from eBay. In fact, I purchased mine for 500 euro. That’s over 200 euro cheaper than what I would have bought it for locally!

This is one example, but I can confirm a huge reduction in prices for both GoPro as well as my new Samsung Tablet. Lets say, that thanks to the German technology market, I have around 350 euro still in my pocket from just 3 products.

GermanWings plane crash; 150 dead

Today I will dedicate my blog post as a remembrance for those 150 people who are presumed to have lost their lives this morning in a plane crash aboard GermanWings Flight 4U9525. The passenger list is said to include two babies and 16 students who were on a school trip. The crash happened in a remote snowy area in the French alps. The plane left Barcelona to its destination being Düsseldorf in Germany.

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A little under an hour since its departure, the officials received a call of distress.

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A rescue helicopter from the French Security Civil flies over the French Alps during a rescue operation after the crash of an Airbus A320, near Seyne-les-Alpes. (Reuters)

Since the weather conditions are considered to be drastic, with local storms, snow is above 1,800 metres and relatively low clouds, it is proving to be very difficult to land in the area with helicopters. French police explain that due to the difficult terrain, it is expected to take days to retrieve the bodies and debris.

During the conference, GermanWIngs CEO stated that the pilot has worked with the company for over 10 years and has over 6,000 flight hours under his belt. He continued saying that the crash itself lasted just 8 minutes. The crashed plane; A320 is 24 years old and has been serving with GermanWings since 1991, according to online database airfleets.net.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will head to the crash site.

GermanWings is a low-cost airline based in Cologne, and is part of the services offered by Lufthansa.