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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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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!

 

How to Organise the Perfect Indoor BBQ In Winter

There is one thing we all miss in the winter: the ability to invite people around for an afternoon of barbecue. If you feel like your social life has suffered as the weather got colder, you might want to get creative and recreate the feeling of summer in your home, and hold an indoor party that cheers you up and makes your weekends more exciting. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started.

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Get a Quality Grill

There are plenty of great quality health fryers and grills you can use, and the results will be the same as on the flames. You might want to get an indoor electric or gas grill set up in your kitchen, or keep it outside, and have the party in the conservatory, if you have one. If you are not sure which type of meat will be the best for your indoor grilling, you can always ask your local butcher or farm shop for advice.

Make Loads of Punch and Mulled Wine

To warm up the atmosphere and your visitors, you might want to get the punch and mulled wine on the hob, instead of cold beer and wine. You can create your hot cocktails yourself, and lay them out for your guests to try and rate. Get your recipes and creativity going, and impress your friends this winter.

Create a Menu and Start Cooking

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Get some finger food on the menu, as well as the grilled meat. Offer bacon sandwiches, savoury pies prepared the previous day, and order some pastry from your local shop. Don’t forget about the fresh salad and entree, and get a bowl of soup out, so your guests can help themselves whenever they want to. You can make your own coleslaw, bake your rolls fresh, to go with the meat and the soup.

Get the Caterers In

Depending on the size of your party, you might want to get some help. Caterers can help you out with equipment that keeps the food warm and fresh, as well as laying out the dishes. Check out Singapore caterer ezBBQ to find out what services are available, and how you can make the most out of your indoor barbecue. Alternatively, you can order a hot pudding from a local catering company, and torch your own creme-brulees.

Add Lighting, Decoration, and Music

To get the conversation flowing, and cheer up your friends arriving, you can decorate your home with winter paintings and snowflakes. You might want to get a winter wax melt on the go, and install a mood light. Create a playlist that you can stream from your phone and control the volume according to what your guests are doing.

Just because it is cold and wet outside, your social life should go on. Organise a creative indoor BBQ party, and cheer yourself and your friends up. Make sure that you have adequate extractor fans installed in the house, though, otherwise, your house will smell of barbecue for a long time.

 

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.

 

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!

Chester Christmas Market 2015

During my latest travel to the UK, between the 19th and 24th of November, we came across the Christmas Market by chance. It was a lovely surprise as Christmas Markets have always been a pleasant memory of mine, of the time when I lived in Stoke-on-Trent and went to Birmingham year on year for this particular event.

When we made it to the Christmas Market, the place was already buzzing with people looking and buying items. The decorations and a sense of happiness from the people, really put me into the Christmas vibe. More so because the day was rather cold (it even snowed in the evening!). Cheese with cranberry bits and the cheeky mulled wine helped in all this too.

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This year, the Chester Christmas Market will last a week extra – In fact it will be open 7 days a week, from 10am to 6pm for just over a month. So make sure you make your way there any day between the 19th of November and 20th of December for some fantastic gifts, ranging from home-made stuff, to food and high-end items.

More information can be obtained by reading here and here.

Doctor Who Experience

It has been an awful long time since I wrote something on here… and I am blaming life and lack of inspiration on this. I have been finding it extremely difficult to find time to focus and write something interesting. More so, because in my free time I try to relax a bit, edit a few photos from my holidays in June and July or watch TV Series.

So, I thought, I should review one of the places I have been to while in Cardiff. Let’s start with the Doctor Who Experience… because, why the hell not? 🙂

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We made our way to the Doctor Who Experience on the first day of the holiday. Actually, it was oudw1r first activity after we checked into our hotel. We were staying in Cardiff Bay, so you would think that it was straightforward to locate the BBC venue. Truth be told, we were slightly distracted with the amazing views of the bay and the surrounding, and it took us longer than expected to get there.

But once we did, I had a huge grin on my face. I couldn’t believe I have finally made it… It has been five years since I made up my mind that I should visit this place! We had already purchased our tickets online, so we simply waited for our time-slot and off we went in. The first half of the experience was very interactive and fun. It was the best part of it, in my opinion, however we were not allowed to take photos or videos as not to spoil this for other visitors. Granted, it made sense… but I wish I have captured that moment when I walked in the Weeping Angel’s cemetery or when I flew the Tardis.

Some photos taken outside and around the museum:

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I would definitely return here eventually and would recommend it to all Whovians out there! 🙂

Baker Street Lovin’

When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by London.
I was even more overwhelmed when I discovered that in London, there was an alternative town by the name of Camden. Every time I visited England, I had to spend a day there shopping until I run out of money. When I moved to England in 2011, London become the least attractive place for me to visit. Sure there were a lot of shops and activities going on, but it was too busy and hectic for my liking. I would go down to London for a major gig or to meet friends who were visiting; but would not bother with it at all otherwise.

But this year, everything has changed.
I had to go back to London for one specific reason: AC/DC.
Any heavy metal fan would know that AC/DC are touring again, and considering their age, it would most likely be the last time (I hope I am wrong!). But this was the sole reason why I step foot in London again, after 3 odd years.

While I was there, I had to fulfill one huge dream which unbelievably I did not do even though I visited the city countless times.

Baker Street

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I would like to think, that if you are reading this, you know where I’m going with this.

Well, geeky Steffi… geeky TV Series.
Hello Sherlock Holmes:

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Did you know that 221b, Baker Street is the world’s most Googled address?

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Waiting for Sherlock outside the door
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Sherlock’s store

Getting recognition

I can tell when a blog post has been popular, from the number of views and visitors in the stats page, but one other way to get to know how it’s doing is with the number of shares the blog post had on other social media sites such as Facebook.

The most satisfying thing about it however is when you come across people and pages (in my case bands) sharing your link. Even more fun is when you see others commenting on links to your blog made by strangers.

The review I did on Rock the South, had this kind of feedback:
https://steffisays.com/2015/04/13/the-sun-has-set-on-rock-the-south-malta/

So far it has 30 shares on Facebook, which I’d say is good traffic for me and the kind of blog I own:

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And I have come across one of the shares last night which made me smile 🙂

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