Walking the Suikerboschfontein Hiking trail in Carolina, Mpumalanga

This time while visiting South Africa, we decided to get off in Joburg to visit a friend before heading down to my family in Cape Town. She suggested we do one of her favourite hiking trails in Mpumulanga over the weekend: the Suikerboschfontein 2-day hiking trail. The hike was wonderful and I’d highly recommend everyone try it! Continue reading

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Leaving home – again

We just returned from three weeks in South Africa – my home. After one week back at work, I’m already ALMOST back in Berlin mode, but arriving back to the cold and dark was difficult. Here were my thoughts the first day back.

It  never gets easier leaving home. As I walk down the tunnel onto the plane, my heart is kicking and screaming inside. But the reality is, I work away from home (South Africa) and my husband is European (Czech), so I can’t just pack up and leave Europe when I feel like it. As it came up in conversation with another South African-European couple over the weekend – one of you always has to make sacrifices. The family of one of you will always be far away. One of you has to live outside your comfort zone. There are times I regret ever coming to Europe in the first place, because now I feel I am stuck here – at least for the moment. Of course, I cannot regret meeting my husband, and I have enjoyed our travels around Europe. We live in Germany, and while there are plenty of things I like about the place, it’s just not home. I miss the blue skies and sunshine of South Africa, and the (mostly) relaxed, friendly people. Continue reading

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My culture shocks in Germany

All countries have their own cultures, lifestyle, ways and habits and one of the interesting things about travelling is being exposed to other ways of doing things, and other ways of thinking. Coming across these differences is referred to as culture shock, although sometimes “shocks” is a strong word and they are rather just “surprises”. I’ve been in Germany a while now so I don’t notice these things so much any more, but these are some of the things that surprised me when I first arrived. I started this post a while ago and never finished it, but coming back from holidays at home I noticed some of the things again so I thought I’d finish it. Continue reading

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Road trip through Europe: Èze, France

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: BerlinWeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque TerreBussana VecchiaMonaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

On day 6 of our road trip, we drove from La Spezia in northern Italy to the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France – the French Riviera – where we would stop for the night in the charming medieval village of Éze. Before reaching Éze, we drove through Genova, stopped for a walk in the artists’ colony of Bussana Vecchia and took a quick walk around the principality of Monaco. It had thus been a busy day and we were tired, but we perked up as soon as we reached the pretty hilltop town of Éze, with its cobbled paths and stone buildings. Continue reading

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Cheese, glorious cheese: Cheese Fondue and Raclette

Last week I went to a meeting in Switzerland, which is a great place for fans of cheese, chocolates and mountains, like me! Switzerland is particularly known for their tasty, yellow, semi-hard and hard cheeses made from cow’s milk, like Gruyère and Emmentaler. Two of their traditional dishes have cheese in the starring role: cheese fondue and raclette. Continue reading

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Road trip through Europe: Monaco

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque TerreBussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

Having left Italy and crossed the border to France on Day 6, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves arriving at the Principality of Monaco, a sovereign city-state with an area of just over two square kilometres. For some reason, Monaco has always been pretty famous where I’m from (South Africa), despite being on the other side of the world, and a lot of the magazines carry stories on the royal family of Monaco. This only increased when the prince of Monaco married a former South African Olympic swimmer. The royal family, the house of Grimaldi (of Ligurian origin) have ruled Monaco since 1297. At any rate, when I knew we’d be passing right by Monaco, I was curious to stop for a quick look, and my husband was equally curious because of the famous Monte Carlo casino and its association with James Bond (007).

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An Introduction to Ski-touring in the Bavarian Alps (Spitzensee)

The establishment of a fast train connection from Berlin to Munich means that the Alps are now that much closer, and long weekend trips are easier than before. We have a friend with whom we often go on outdoor adventures, including those of the snowy variety, and she is a big fan of ski-touring, so last weekend the three of us headed down to Bavaria so that she could show us why she loves this sport. Ski-touring involves climbing  up slopes with special skis that have “skins” on for grip, then removing the skins so that you can ski down off-piste on lovely, fluffy powder snow. The skins are usually made of nylon (cheaper), mohair (more expensive), or a combination of the two. Continue reading

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Road Trip through Europe: Bussana Vecchia

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque Terre – Bussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

On day 6 of our road trip, our goal was to drive from La Spezia, in northern Italy, to Éze, a charming medieval village in France. Before stopping in Éze, we drove through Genova, made a spontaneous stop in Bussana Vecchia and took a quick walk around Monaco. That’s the great thing about a road trip – being able to stop along the way wherever you like! Continue reading

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Road Trip through Europe: Cinque Terre

 

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-Spezia – Cinque Terre – Bussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

I think no stop on our itinerary was as highly anticipated as Cinque Terre. This national park is famous for colourful villages standing on rugged cliffs overlooking the sea, a thing of painter’s dreams.

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Road trip through Europe – Lake Como to La Spezia, Liguria

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake Como – La-Spezia – Cinque Terre – Bussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

On Day 4 of our trip, we spent the morning around Lake Como. After spending the morning taking a boat ride on beautiful aquamarine waters and walking around the town of Como, we had lunch and then headed off on a 3-4 hour drive to La Spezia, where we would be staying for the next two nights. La Spezia has a good rail connection to the famed Cinque Terre, a collection of five colourful villages nestled on cliffs above the sea on the Ligurian coast. As accommodation in Cinque Terre itself was relatively difficult to find, not to mention parking, we decided to stay in La Spezia and visit Cinque Terre on the train. As Cinque Terre is so scenic, it inspired more than enough photos for its own blog post, so I thought I would write a separate post about La Spezia, which was also a nice place to visit. Continue reading

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