Tag Archives: water

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

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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?

Flee To Florida, And Escape The Rain!

It’s dull, drizzling, and the sky is really lacking inspiration. It no longer feels as if winter is around the corner… it’s here, and it’s here to stay! But, don’t fear. Some parts of the world are never really that cold, or miserable. One of the great examples, and a great holiday location is Florida. If you’ve never been, you’re really missing out. This post will go through the State of Florida, city by city, to inspire your next big trip!

Orlando

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You’ve probably heard of Disneyland in Paris, right? Well, Orlando is home to something a little bigger; Disneyworld. It’s also home to several other large theme parks, including Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. All in all, there are over a dozen theme parks in Orlando. And, some of them are the biggest in the world.

Like much of Florida, much of the Orlando area is filled with marshland and swamps. But, you’ll also find miles of white, sandy beaches to the east of the city. In areas like this, wildlife refuses to budge. This makes for a city that feels like it’s at the heart of nature, while still incorporating nightclubs and shopping into the mix.

Tampa

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For lovers of history and culture; look no further than Tampa. This city focuses more on intellectual pursuits than either of the others. The city has numerous zoos and aquariums, making it perfect for youngsters who don’t like rides! It also has several museums, and even plays host to the famous Busch Gardens; an African-themed amusement park.

Most of the cities nightlife and dining can be found in the Ybor City neighborhood. This area is steeped in history, having been established by Cuban and Spanish tobacco workers at the turn of the 20th Century.

Miami

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Miami is one of America’s hotspots for fashion and culture. For those who want to spend the nights on the town, Miami is the place for you. Much of Miami consists of art deco buildings and trendsetting diners. It truly is the best place to go to sample some of the finer things in life.

The city is famous worldwide for its beautiful white, sandy beaches and crystal clear ocean. Miami is a popular spot for surfers and other extreme water sports, adding, even more, culture to the already bustling city.

Getting yourself into a hotel in Florida is easy as pie. You have so many options available; the hardest part really is choosing. You can spend two weeks in a luxury hotel, or have a stint in vacation rentals in Florida. The world truly is your oyster. It’s best to avoid traveling to a place like this with food included in your trip. You’ll want to get out and try all of the different offerings these cities have for you.  Remember to take plenty of dollars with you, too!

All that’s left to do is get planning! Make sure that you plan well to avoid any unwanted issues on your journey. Good luck, and enjoy the trip!

Car-Rant

Are you familiar with those days when you are extremely happy, like so happy, you could die? I have had a good number of those in a row. So much so that they freak me out. I believe that for every action there’s an opposite and equal reaction… Meaning, that for every day I am excessively happy, I have a pile of shit waiting for me around the corner.

Boy was I right.

It all started with a slow puncture. Then, my car key decided to stop working on the driver’s side (it still works on passenger’s door, so I have been able to make due until I figure out where I need to take my car to fix this). Yesterday I woke up feeling poorly, and my allergies so bad that I could barely see from one of my eyes, and it would not stop watering! It also was a rainy day; so much so that I do not recall hearing it stop at all during the day. This morning, since I am being ultra-paranoid about everything, I decided to go check on my car. Slow puncture again, and water inside my car. Lovely. As if that is not enough, I learned that the slow puncture is not due to the tyre’s fault but due to the car’s rim. So, 2 days – 3 mishaps.

If this was not my real-life story, I would laugh so much – I mean, this could turn out to be quite the comedy plot.

Dear God, I hope this is enough for now. I have to figure out how to sort all these things out, on top of being in work 9 hours a day. What makes it worse is that I have no clue on how to even begin! I guess, it would have made things easier if I had a man in my life…. Although the feminist in me wants me to chill and take it one step at a time… at least when it happens again (hopefully not), I’ll know what to do. >_>

PS. Why was I so eager to grow up?

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey has been in my must-see list for years. The reason it took me this long to visit is because it is in the South of Wales, and I have mostly traveled to the North and Mid Wales as it is more accessible for me, due to Manchester and Liverpool airports being so close to my destination (also I have never driven in the UK, but I probably should…).

I would say that the Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the most beautiful monastic ruins, not just in Wales or the UK, but within Europe. The location of the abbey is very scenic, and the village of Tintern is tiny. In fact, after spending hours in this serene place, we walked to the village for a snack. We even watched River Wye which runs behind the abbey and through the village. The river has been an important source of water which sustained the villagers and monks, and is till useful at this day and age.

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The abbey was founded in 1131, by the lord of Chepstow and the building and its surroundings kept growing exponentially until its closing down around 400 years later. In the 13th century, Roger Bigod rebuilt the church, and as a thank you his coat of arms was put in the glass of the east window. This church forms the largest part of what is still remaining today, and is a great example of welsh architecture of the medieval period, even if in ruins.

Although it did not have much importance history wise, what is left of this abbey is a major tourist attracting in the South of Wales, as is Caerphilly Castle, Raglan Castle and Cardiff Castle in the capital city of Wales.

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Travel Bucket List: Luxury Destinations I’d Love To Visit

I think having a bucket list is a great idea. Setting and achieving goals is how we can all progress in life. So if you don’t have one already, then you should! I have set one in general, but I think there are a few other things that I would like to add.

As a couple, we love to travel, so I need to include some more places that we would like to visit. Being able to travel in style would be amazing too. I would love to fly first class to a long haul destination and stay in a luxury hotel. Having a chef to cook for us while we are there would be the icing on the cake; quite literally! That would be the plan to do some day, each time we travel. I just need to make my millions! So here a few ideas and dreams of mine. Have you ever been to any of them? Would love to hear about it if you have.

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Caribbean Cruise

I think a cruise is one of the ultimate ways to see the world in style. You can get to experience a variety of places, as you sail around several countries and islands. The Caribbean would be one of the top choices. As there are so many of the islands that I’d love to visit, a cruise would help you to see plenty of them. I like the idea of hopping off and on as seeing some lovely places in this world. There are so many luxe cruise liners out there too. So it makes the time on board fantastic, and they’d make sure you are treated like a guest. All inclusive activities and food would be a dream.

Asia

Having been to Asia once before, it would be fantastic to visit again. It isn’t a continent that is necessarily synonymous with luxury, but there are plenty of places that fit the bill. Staying in a luxury hotel in Bali or on the island of Phuket would be a dream come true. The beaches in those places are second to none. White sands and clear seas make it perfect for relaxing, as well as diving and snorkeling. Not to mention the fantastic weather that is pretty much all year round. Even in the ‘rainy’ months, the temperatures are high. Asian food is to die for, so having it made for you each day would be amazing.

Italian Amalfi Coast

Italy is such a gorgeous location. The Amalfi Coast, including places like Capri, can get a little bit forgotten about. When you think of Italy, most people think of Venice or Rome. But the Amalfi coast area is just stunning. There are plenty of exquisite restaurants to visit, to try the Italian cuisine in style. A lot of them are tucked away off the main areas, so feel like such a private getaway. It would be awesome to have a little road trip along the coast, and stop off at all of the towns along the way.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The many sunsets of Fawwara

Some of the most beautiful areas for walks or hikes in Malta are situated in the limits of Siggiewi. One of the spots goes by the name of ‘Fawwara’. The word fawwara translates to spring in English, and this name was chosen for this stretch of land due to the fact that in the past it supplied a large amount of water.

The history of this area goes as far as when the Arabs took over Malta, it has seen the death of many christian women, and proof of this is two chapels within Fawwara which are still standing to this day. These were built in 1616 and 1575.  The latter even had a small village surrounding it (Hal Kbir) during the Medieval area. Needless to say, Siggiewi has existed on our little island for a very, very long time.

Below are some photos I have taken of the area, showing sunsets as well as some picturesque captures. Can’t wait to return back here in the next couple of days 🙂

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The Valletta Waterfront

The Valletta Waterfront is a promenade which you can get steffisays-upperbarrakkagardens-liftto easily either from the Upper Barrakka Gardens by using the elevator facilities at a price of around 2 Euro (you would get a return ticket when you purchase one), or  by walking through Valletta city center towards the sea, and keep walking to the direction of the Cruise and Ferry terminal. Funnily enough, although the area is known as Valletta Waterfront, it is located in Floriana.

One of the reasons I go to this area is the obvious fact that it is lovely, especially in the evenings for a pleasant walk by the sea. It is also frequented because of the fact that there are a variety of restaurants to go to for lunch, dinner, coffee or for a couple of drinks. Different cuisines such as Mediterranean, Italian and Chinese are available.

Plus how can you resist this view?

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The WaterFront View at night

Going there is a must, I tell you!