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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Road trip through Europe: Freiburg

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.

We drove towards Freiburg from Heidelberg on Day 2 of our road trip around part of Europe (see here for the itinerary), arriving in the evening at our accommodation: a room on a wine farm just outside of Freiburg. Our hostess was lovely, and gave us a good tip for dinner, an Italian restaurant in their village. we headed straight there as it was dinner time and enjoyed a delicious meal, with the owner bringing us bread with olive oil, parmesan, aïoli and other toppings and a surprise starter of smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade. That was followed by the mail meal (risotto) and of course we accompanied it with wine, since we were right in the wine region.

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Road Trip through Europe: Heidelberg

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.

After spending the morning in Weimar, we headed off to Heidelberg, day 2 of our European road trip. The sky darkened as we were driving, and it started raining just as we arrived. Nonetheless, we were keen to get out of the car and explore Heidelberg. We headed to the main street and found that it was very crowded – Heidelberg is obviously popular with tourists. Continue reading

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Road trip through Europe: Weimar

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.

Long ago in August (it feels like ages since we’ve seen the sun) we did a road trip from Berlin to France and back again, driving through Germany, Switzerland and Northern Italy to the south coast of France, then back again (you can see the original route we planned here). We saw so many things that it’s impossible to share it all in one post, so I thought I’d break it up into days. First stop: Weimar.

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Hiking in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps

As winter approaches, we think of the Alps because of snow and skiing, but in summer it’s another world all together. A world of meadows, flowers and cows with bells, like a scene out of Heidi or The Sound of Music. One of my biggest wishes when moving to Europe was to go hiking in the Alps, and in my fifth summer here we finally made it there in summer. (Fifth summer! I had to count this on my fingers a few times. Has the time really disappeared so quickly?).

We went with a friend to Bavaria in the late days of spring heading towards summer, for four days of hiking in the Alps. The weather was great, four days of sun. We stayed in a little town called Aschau, near the Austrian border. There are hikes leaving directly from the town and many more accessible nearby, especially if you cross the border into Austria. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #31 – Spring things

It’s the little things that keep you going. Weekly small pleasures is Mani’s blog event where you share the things that made you happy during the week and I have to say that the last few weeks it has been very simple things which have made me happy:  the birds starting to sing again, the wind rustling the newly formed leaves on trees that were bare for months, the smell of rain, the spring flowers, the increased light hours. Continue reading

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Visit the Tulips! – at Britzer Garten, Berlin

If you need another reason to visit Berlin in spring, here it is: in April and May you can visit Britzer Garten in the south of Berlin to walk among all the beautiful tulips. I didn’t even know there were so many different types of tulips before visiting this park, but they come in all shapes, sizes and colours! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so now I’ll keep quiet and post some photos so that you can see for yourself.

PS – the park is huge, so put on your walking shoes! For the elderly and those with kids, there’s even a little train that runs around the park. Continue reading

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