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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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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