Animal encounters in KwaZulu-Natal

During our holiday in South Africa in March, we organised a one week trip to KwaZulu-Natal province (KZN). The idea was to do some hiking in the Drakensberg and see some animals in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi national park. They say KZN is the wild province, but we had even more adventures in store for us that we had imagined…I’ll do separate posts about the hiking, but in this post I’ll focus on our animal adventures! Continue reading

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Lesotho: the Mountain Kingdom

A visit to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho has been on my wishlist for a long time, and in early March we finally made it there, even if it was only a very quick visit. We were visiting the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa for a week, and as part of our visit to the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountains we took a day tour up Sani pass and crossed the border into the heights of Lesotho. Continue reading

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All roads lead to Liepnitzsee

When hot summer days arrive, one of the popular weekend day trips for Berliners is to Liepnitzsee, a beautiful lake with aquamarine waters in the middle of beech and pine woods. People go by train, car or bike and as the last option is perhaps the most fun, over the years we’ve explored many different routes to the lake. In the beginning we tried cycling from Berlin or Bernau, and now we’ve started exploring other bike paths as there are so many scenic ones in the area. Both last weekend and the weekend before, friends invited us to cycle there, and we tried two different routes:

  1. From Oranienburg to Bernau via Liepnitzsee
  2. From Buch to Liepnitzsee, then past Wandlitzsee and Krumme Lanke to Bernau

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Chiemsee: visiting Herreninsel and Fraueninsel

Recently we were in Bavaria for four days, and spent three of the days hiking (you can read about that here). I felt a bit sad on the last day that we did not go for another hike, but our friend was keen to visit the lake Chiemsee, and indeed, it was probably more relaxing than rushing up the mountain, considering we’d have to catch a train around 5:30! So we packed all our things and hurried off to catch a train to Prien. There are lockers at the train station at Prien where you can leave your luggage. We did this and then walked down to the lake, where you can catch a boat to the islands in the lake as well as several cities around the lake. Our aim was to visit Herreninsel and Fraueninsel. Continue reading

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3 more hikes in and around the Chiemgau region, Bavaria

The region of Chiemgau in Bavaria is in the foothills of the Alps, and its hilly landscape was formed during the ice age. Last year we travelled there for hiking and walked in the mountains on both sides of the German and Austrian border, heading up to Kampfenwand, Wilde Kaiser, Wandberg and the Blumen Weg next to Wildseelodersee. This year we returned and visited Lochner Horn, Brennkopf, Klausenberg, Sonnwendwand, as well as the beautiful lake Chiemsee. We still didn’t manage to get to do two of the iconic hikes in the area, up to the Geigelstein and Spitzstein, but it’s always good to leave something for another day.

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The Spreeradweg (Spree cycle route)

The Spree is the gently flowing river upon which Berlin was founded, and it runs through the city from the east before meeting the Havel river in the west. There is a bike trail that runs from the three sources of the Spree (three springs) in Ebersbach-Neugersdorf and Kottmar, in a hilly area near the Czech border, all the way back to Berlin. We decided to ride part of the trail over a 4-day long weekend. Continue reading

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Easter weekend in Denmark

Thursday (Holy Thursday /Skærtorsdag ): Arrival in Copenhagen

Interesting fact: the Thursday before Easter is also a public holiday in Denmark. The traditional Skærtorsdag meal was Skærtorsdag søbekål: “Nine Cabbage Soup”, made from cabbage and pork or mutton. You can find a recipe for one variation here.

We arrived in the capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen (København), and after picking up a rental car we headed into town to check into our Airbnb. Kitchens close earlier in Copenhagen than in Berlin, so we had trouble finding a place to eat, but eventually we found a pizzeria that was still serving food. After a fairly long walk there and back with a bitterly cold wind blowing, we were relieved to arrive back to our apartment and stagger into bed.

Our neighbourhood – although we would not see it properly until morning

Friday (Good Friday / Langfredag): Copenhagen-Malmö-Copenhagen

Interesting fact: In Denmark, flags fly at half-mast on Good Friday. Traditionally, people ate porridge on this day.

Copenhagen lies near the border of Denmark and Sweden, and the Øresund bridge, a combined road and rail bridge, connects it to the Swedish city of Malmö. As we had a full day and night in Copenhagen, we decided to use this day to take a trip across to Sweden. This was mostly because we’d never been to either of these Scandinavian countries, and we were interested to see if we would notice any differences between the two. The bridge itself apparently features in a popular Danish TV series, “The Bridge”, and it is quite a striking construction, being 4km long and straight across the sea. It’s quite expensive to drive across with the car, so we took a train across and arrived at Malmö railway station. Continue reading

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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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