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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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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.

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.

sergio ramos 2

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