Road trip through Europe: Tübingen and Schwäbisch Hall

Last summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: BerlinWeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque TerreBussana VecchiaMonacoÉzeGorges du VerdonMoustiers-Sainte-Marie – ValensoleChamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin. 

Finally, we had reached the last day of our road trip. We started our day in Tübingen, and would drive from there to Swäbisch Hall, another Swabian town, and from there onto Berlin. But before leaving Tübingen, we went for a walk around this lovely town. I’d been there before on a work trip (see here), but neither my husband nor my friend had, and I was keen to show it off to both of them. The old town centre looks like one of the fairytale villages in the Shrek movies or Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, all half-timbered houses and charming views. Continue reading

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Road trip through Europe: Chamonix to Tübingen

Last summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: BerlinWeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque TerreBussana VecchiaMonacoÉzeGorges du VerdonMoustiers-Sainte-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – TübingenSwäbisch HallBerlin

Mont Blanc was the only thing on my mind as we woke up early on Day 9 of our road trip. Would we see the White Mountain, or would it be covered in clouds? The weather forecast had been bad, but we awoke to blue skies and sunshine, though there were still a fair number of clouds swirling around the peaks. Already from where we were staying in Les Houches, we had a beautiful view of the mountain. So our wish had already come true.

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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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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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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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