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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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5 Simple Ways to Wow Your Wedding Guests

You’d like to think that simply looking your stunning best will be enough to make your wedding guests say ‘wow,’ and it will! But it’s also true that every bride looks amazing on their special day. If you want to make yours stand out from the crowd, then you’ll want to go the extra mile to make it memorable. Below, we take a look at five ways you can make your guests feel the love – and have a day they’ll always remember.

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Pick a Unique Venue

You could pick a venue that’s close to where you live, but where’s the fun in that? There are a million and one unique, beautiful venues across Europe, and with inexpensive flights available to and from many countries, it’s not that much of a hassle to ask your friends and family to travel overseas. If you’re not of an overly traditional bent, then you might want to consider getting married away from the church. A beautiful ceremony set among lush woodlands, with fairy lights making the space look extra magical, for example, is guaranteed to impress your guests.

Make a Strong First Impression

Of course, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to wow your wedding guests before they reach the ceremony. You can make a strong first impression by investing in beautiful wedding invitations, and by asking your guests to RSVP with added details – such as a song they’d like to hear at the wedding party. You may even ‘wow’ your guests by simply asking that they don’t bring anything other than themselves – that means no gifts – to the wedding, which is a touching detail if the ceremony is taking place overseas. Get creative with your invites, and you’ll have people keenly anticipating the fun days to come!

Riding in Style

The ceremony and the party rarely take place at the same place, so how are your guests going to get from one place to the other? Normally, this will involve a series of taxis, but there’s not going to be anything normal about your wedding! Instead, put on some funky transport, such as a themed party coach, or limos, or – if it’s not too far – a series of horse carriages for everyone. It’ll be much more exciting than having everyone patiently queuing for the next series of taxis to turn up.

Extra Touches

You’re going to have people from all walks of life attending your wedding; relatives, old friends, work colleagues, and so on, and they’re not all going to know one another. So why not help them up by adding a “who’s who” to the seating plan? You can show everyone how they know each other through six degrees of separation. It’s a great way to move past small talk and onto the fun times!

And Relax

You’ve got a dance-floor; how about a place to relax? Some people don’t want to dance all night but do want to be involved. Create a space that allows them to be involved and also unwind. They’ll love you for it.

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.

welcome-to-auschwitz-streets-museum

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.

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 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 most 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 of 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!

Choosing your Wedding Venue

Wedding-Venue-SearchChoosing your wedding venue is probably the biggest decision you have to make after the proposal. Everything else starts falling into place when you know where the reception will be held. In our case, we chose the venue, then we looked for a church which is not on the other side of the island. Then we proceeded with choosing our caterers, which was the next headache…

Before deciding on wedding venue, read through the points below, to form your basic wedding requirements:

  • Budget: Make sure the wedding venues you are looking at are within your budget.  Although daydreaming is nice, if you have a restricted budget, it is important to not waste time on venues that you can never afford. Harsh, but it will be a let down eventually. When looking at venues, make sure you ask the right questions, for example, are there any hidden fees involved? What is the overtime hourly rate? And how does it work? What are the payment arrangements?
  • Guest-list: Having an idea on the number of guests that you would like to invite would help ensure that all of them will fit comfortably in the venue. Further, it will also help you to determine if the venue is too big for your wedding party. You really wouldn’t want the wedding reception to look empty.
  • Availability: This is a crucial point when it comes to choosing the wedding venue. The reason I have put this as a third point is as I am a strong believer on the fact that one should know the budget and number of guests before starting to look at venues.
  • Weather-friendly: Make sure that the wedding venue is appropriate for your big day. If you are getting married in the dead of winter or in the hottest month of the year, make sure that there is an indoor space for all your guests. You might get lucky, and you will not need this space but best to be safe than sorry. If it is too hot, air-conditioning is a must, if it is cold or rainy, then a warm space (or at least an indoor space) is ideal. Have a back-up plan at hand for the worst case scenario.
  • Catering: This will be tackled separately, however one must keep in mind that certain venues have catering exclusivity, meaning that you cannot choose your own catering. In this case, make sure that the venue package is affordable, and that the venue’s caterer is to your liking. Food and beverage is essential in a wedding, and one simply cannot take it for granted.
  • Parking: Appropriate amount of parking the vicinity of the wedding venue is considered an asset now a days. Most of the guests will be attending with their own means of transport, and wouldn’t want to walk for half an hour to the wedding reception and back to the car. If parking is an issue, then make sure to reserve a parking lot for your big-day and instruct your guests to park there.
  • Ambience:  Think about the theme and the decor you are after. Does this match the style of the venue? If you want to dress up the venue completely to make it unique, yours, make sure you have budgeted the decor required. Ensure also the venue is ideal for your guest list. For example, if you are inviting elderly, make sure there are chairs available. As much as you wouldn’t want all the guests to sit down, you need cater for everyone’s needs.

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.

world

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.

House Party

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

House BBQ

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.

 

How To Feel Better About Yourself This Year

The beginning of a new year is often a fresh start for many people. For some, it can be a daunting thought that it’s just going to be the same old, but in a different year and that can be depressing for some, especially when you see people on social media appearing to have much better lives than you do. If this is sounding familiar then you more than likely need a confidence boost, and a helping hand to feeling better about yourself. Here are some ways in which you can feel better about yourself this year.

dusk

Eat cleaner

A common reason for someone feeling sluggish and down in the dumps is purely down to the fact that you’re not eating the right foods. Junk food will bring you down in many ways, not just your weight. It will cause you to breakout in spots, have drier skin, and it can even affect your mental state of mind. Try eating cleaner and you will feel much better in yourself quicker than you think. You will notice that you’re less bloated, your skin will clear up, and you will have much more energy than before; therefore having a brighter outlook on life.

Sort out money matters

Another reason that people feel down in the dumps is because money is tight or their is a debt looming over their shoulders. Take on some extra hours at work or get another part time job so that you can build money up and not feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck. If you’re in debt and are worrying about how to pay off what you owe, it might be worth thinking about borrowing money to consolidate all existing debts into one loan and paying just one thing off every month. Take a look at these small unsecured personal loans and see if there’s anything that can help solve your situation.

Try something new

Trying something new can give you a brighter outlook on life almost instantly. This could range from trying a new place to eat out with your partner, or it could be taking on a new hobby that you haven’t tried before. Hobbies don’t have to cost much (if anything) either, and they can bring a new breath of fresh air into your life and make you feel better. Alternatively, if you’ve got something that’s been on a bucket list of yours, then why not take the opportunity to tick off something on your list?!

Have a clear-out

Having a cluttered home can bring even the strongest of people down. Take some time to clear out your home of unwanted belongings and give it a deep clean. Having a fresh clean home can make you much happier, and if things are more organised you’re likely to keep it clear too.

Finally, if you’re feeling hopeless a lot, don’t hesitate to speak to your GP. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and you should never suffer alone!

Travel Plans, But Empty Pockets? Explore The World on a Budget!

tourist-waiting-train

As the saying goes, nobody has ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ According to research, one of the things people do regret not doing more of is travelling- and so if every year you vow to travel more but never do now is the time to make a change. You don’t need loads of money to see new places, so if you have the opportunity to take some time out and broaden your horizons with travel you should definitely go for it. Here are some of the ways you can go about it if you don’t have a whole lot of money in the bank.

Earn As a Freelancer

When you work as a freelancer, you can take your job with you when you travel. All you need is a laptop and you can continue earning money while you’re away. It could be blogging, Youtube, freelance writing- once you have regular work coming in you know that you have a way of earning additional money while you’re away. You can get free wifi in lots of places, from hotels to coffee shops and restaurants unless you’re going somewhere very remote. If you have plans to travel in future and are a huge fan of all things travel, starting a Youtube channel or blog in the year or so before is a smart move- then when you go away yourself you could track your trip.

Work in Another Country

Moving to another country for work is another option. Not only could you improve your career prospects in some cases, but you also get the opportunity to live in a new place. It’s different from being a tourist since a lot of your time will be dedicated to working, however you really get to know a place when you live there. You will learn about their customs and cultures, their food, meet lots of new people in a different way than perhaps you would as a tourist. You could search for jobs in Singapore to jobs in Australia, America- wherever has interested you as a country why not go for it. You could move out for six months, a year, five year, permanently- whatever suits you. But you’ll get to explore and understand a new part of the world and support yourself while you’re there. Voluntary work is another option, you won’t get paid but you get to spend time in another country and help out, in return for accommodation and food.

Go on a Road Trip

Road trips are something that most of us have on our travel bucket list. And with incredible routes in different places in the world, it gives you the chance to see lots of different places while stopping at whatever landmarks and attractions interest you. If you hire an RV or campervan you have the benefit of accommodation and transport in one, it’s easy to eat cheaply too as you will either have a fridge in your vehicle or you could buy a cool box. Fill up with food and snacks from the grocery store and you save on expensive restaurants. Many campsites offer hookups for RVs including electricity and water and don’t cost much, but you can park up and sleep anywhere providing you’re in a safe and legal space. You could always have the odd night at a motel if you’re going to be travelling for a while- it won’t cost much and you can have a shower and sleep in a proper bed. RV and campervan hire is relatively cheap, check out companies in the destination you will be visiting and be sure to shop around. Once that’s paid, you only really have your fuel and food to pay for, and any attractions that you plan on seeing.

Go Backpacking

Backpacking is an incredible experience. While humble you see your destination in a different way, it’s not about the five star restaurants or fancy hotels. Instead you’re in the midst of the action, chatting to locals, meandering through markets tasting the street food, finding interesting places that are off the beaten path. It’s a cheap way to travel as most of the time you’re on foot or on public transport, fill your pack with the essentials and some staple food items and you’re good to go. Keep an eye on flights to see if you can snag some cheap ones, and if you sign up to a chain of hostels you can stay in any of them in the world meaning it’s easy to find a place to lay your head.

Explore The Country You Live In

When most of us think about seeing new places, we think of exotic destinations far from home. However there’s a place right under your feet, and chances are you’ve not explored the half of it. It’s much cheaper to visit the country you live in because there are no flights needed. Think of all of the different cities, countryside, beaches, lakes, rivers, tourist attractions there are to see where you live. Put it on your bucket list to visit them all, whether it’s with family, friends, a partner or just by yourself. Don’t rule it out just because you haven’t travelled thousands of miles to see it. Other tourists have, so take advantage of what you have where you live!

Seeing new places and travelling really broadens your horizons. You can meet new people and will probably develop a new outlook on life. Plus it’s fun too, and sometimes doing things just for the fun of it is exactly what the doctor ordered. If you work hard all year, a few weeks or a month of to indulge in culture, history and spectacular sights will give you a new lease of life for when you return.

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Will you be travelling this year? If someone was on the fence about seeing a new place in the world this year, what would you say to them?

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! 😉