Glamping 3.0 » Sleeping in a Wine Barrel!

I’m always open to new things when it comes to travel so when I heard about this camping in Germany where you could sleep in a wine barrel, I got pretty exited. It all started when I planned a visit to my sister, who lives in the south of Germany. It takes about 7 hours to drive there as she lives near the black forest, close to Switzerland. So why not make a stopover? Germany is a beautiful country full of hills, cute towns and nature parks. But when I stay somewhere, I want it to be something special, something I haven’t done before. This is when Camping Rissbach caught my eye.

The Camping
You love it or you hate it. Campings. I use to camp with my parents since the age of 3 but we did it in Greece which is nothing compare to a Dutch camping where everything is well organized. No, we did it back to basic style so I don’t have a lot to compare with. My boyfriend loves camping so I thought it would be nice to surprise him with something special. The camping I choose was perfectly situated between Amsterdam and my sisters house in Germany. After a 4 hours drive we arrived at Camping Rissbach, situated perfectly next to the Moselle river which flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. The camping exist 10 years and is run by a Dutch family. The atmosphere is relax and laid back. Like all campings, you can bring your own caravan, tent or camper. But this camping is extra special because of their luxe glamping options. Sleeping in a Wine Barrel.

Sleeping in a Wine Barrel
I booked a XXL Wine Barrel to sleep in and it was so cool! The Wine Barrel has everything you need. A fully functional toilet, washing sink, table, refrigerator, a 2 persons bed and the possibility to make 2 extra beds. I felt like a total gypsy sleeping in here! There are 4 XXL Wine Barrels available and 6 normal size. The normal size barrels don’t have a toilet and only one entrance instead of 2. The Wine Barrels are all stationed alongside the river which is a great way to wake up! You can get freshly baked bread at the campings bakery and have breakfast in front of your accommodation. 

Sleeping in a Wine Barrel
There are 4 XXL accommodations available to rent and 6 normal size

Inside of the Wine Barrel
Sleep tight..how romantic!

The Area
Traben-Trabach is a great area for cycling and walking. I really don’t think hiking is just for “older” people. Raised in a country without hills or mountains, I love hiking! Moselsteig is the area’s most lover hiking trail. At 365 km, it’s voted as the most beautiful long distance route in Germany. I only managed to walk a very short part of it due to lake of time but I did walk up to the old fortress (which was a pretty steep climb!) From here you have a beautiful view of the Moselle river and area. You can book a walking tour via camping Rissbach. Pauze for a coffee and enjoy the view of the many wineries. Yes, Traben-Tribach is full of them! This place is renowned for the steepest wineries in the whole of Europe. There are many wine cellars and wine tastings all year round and I was so lucky to witness such an event during my stay. All the wine farmers around the area showcasing their best wines and I got to taste it? Sleeping in a wine barrel fits quite well don’t you think? If you want something traditional you should eat at Zunft Shüne restaurant. It’s like walking into a museum with hundreds of attributes and different rooms. Walk towards the village past the Moselle river to get there in 15-20 minutes.

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Restaurant Zunft Shune

Sleeping in a wine barrel in Traben-Trabach
Tasting wine, dinner at Zunft Shune and the view of the Moselle river

Sleeping in a wine barrel at Camping Rissbach
Stop at the fortress for a coffee

View over the Moselle River
After a steep walk you are rewarded with this view (with the wineries on the right)

Curious to see what this part of Germany has to offer? Book your stay in a Wine Barrel here!

Love,

Elke

Europa Park » Fun for the young and old

If you have kids and you’re looking for an awesome day out, we have a weekend tip your child(ren) will love! Oh, and we think you are going to like it too! We sent Elke’s sister Miriba and her family to Germany’s Europa Park.

The Park
Europa-Park is located next to the amazing Black Forest in Germany near the border of Switzerland and France. The first thing you see when you enter the parking-lot of Europe Park is the Silver Star rollercoaster. You can hear people scream and see hands up in the sky as they feel the 4G that pushes their bodies into their seats even more…. This will give you a thrilling feeling from the first moment you entered the park and it’s a feeling that won’t leave you for the rest of the day. The Europa Park is, as the name suggest, divided into the different countries of Europe. Lots of people walk through the park country by country but we got a good inside tip; visit your most wanted attraction first. In the morning the waiting times are not that long as in the afternoon. It also helps to download the Europapark app, you can see exactly what the waiting times at the various attractions are and how long it will take you to get there.

Wander-Lust in Europa Park
Miriba and her children walk though Europa Park

The Rides
At Europe Park there are enough rides to keep you going for a whole weekend but the first ride me and my family tried was the new “Voletarium“. It’s located near the entrance and is officially the biggest flying theater in Europe. If you can’t make it first thing in the morning, it is possible to get a so called “time-ticket“ which gives you a time slot to which you can come back have almost no waiting time. The Voletarium is the most expensive attraction in the park and we already got a taste of that while waiting. The hallways were magnificently decorated and as we arrived at the starting point, we didn’t have the feeling to have waited very long. The attraction took 9 months to build and more than a thousand people worked on the project. When you take your seat in front of the 425 m² screen, you see a short film shot from a bird’s-eye perspective and because the seats are moving and the screen is so close you really have the feeling you’re flying! The shots are all filmed by drones or helicopters and all in high definition quality.

Volitarium Europa Park

After that we tried “Arthur“, a ride which is not only great for kids but also for their parents. The waiting area is not as nice as at the Voletarium but they have a great locker system so you don’t have to worry about your belongings while enjoying the fun. You fly over the Minimoys world that is related to the movie “Arthur and the Minimoys“.

Arthur at Europa Park
In the Arthur ride

 

Frau Holle. Europa Park

A lot of rides have water involved and are great fun if it’s hot, such a the Tiroler Wildwasserbahn, Fjort Rafting or the Altantica Supersplash. All three rides are worth waiting but you can get really wet. Therefore it is always useful to bring some towels (or even a rain jacket believe it or not). Not everything in the park is fast and bumpy, there are also a lot of spots that are magical and calm such as the fairytail forest. There are even some countries that have attractions especially designed for smaller kids such as the bumper cars in Holland or almost every ride in Ireland that includes a nice playground with big slides.

wildwasserbahn Europa Park

Unlike many other attraction parks it’s also allowed to bring your own food & drinks

For lunch you can stop at one of the various eating spots the park has on offer. A lot of  the countries offer country specific food such as poffertjes in Holland or a crusty pizza in Italy. Unlike many other attraction parks it’s also allowed to bring your own food & drinks so there are a lot of picknick spots around the park to enjoy your lunch. If you want to give your feet some rest, you can opt for one of the various theater shows they offer in the park. We went to the dark night, a theatrical show with horses, acrobatics and even some magic. There are many more shows on offer but if you only have one day to spent, there is no chance to see them all.

Top 5 tips for a fun day at Europapark:

  1. Go to your favorite attraction or ride as soon as you enter
  2. Download the Europepark App and prepare for your visit
  3. Pay your parking ticket right at the beginning (there are machines in the entrance area) so you don’t have to queue when you leave.
  4. If you can, visit the park for 2 days total. If you only have one day, you will miss out on the nice little playgrounds, smaller attractions and wonderful shows. You can stay in the park hotel
  5. During summer, bring some towels and dry clothes for the kids. There are also some lovely water playgrounds around the park.

We had an amazing day and it won’t be the last time that we visited Europa Park!

Love,

Miriba

Europa-Park
Europa-Park-Straße 2, Germany

Open daily from 9am till 6pm
Website

Kitzbühel » The Metropolis in Winter Wonderland

Maybe it’s because of the Hahnenkamm-Rennen, the luxurious and colorful city center or cause it kind of feels like the Manhattan of Austria. Kitzbühel is one of the most distinct ski destinations of the Alps and she wears it with pride.

The city center of Kitzbühel
Like a colorful necklace the villages swings around the mountain foot. Each shop has a different colour, forming a bold contrast with the pearl white snow. I have been told that every colour stands for a different house owner. The large colored surfaces already reveal Kitzbühel is far from poor. Actually, in my whole life I’ve never seen a ski area with so many luxurious shops. I only went to Zillertal and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis but still, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tough freerider or if you prefer the chic-side-of-life, the stores offer enough diversity to empty your wallets in no time. If that sounds like heaven to you I would recommend staying in Tiefenbrunner Kitzbühel, a beautiful hotel in the shopping street. After a long day of shoppi… uuh skiing you can recharge in the sauna or swimming pool.

relaxing-in-the-hotel
Relaxing at the Tiefenbrunner hotel

Snow on trees in Kitzbühel

We can all thank Franz Reisch for making Kitzbühel a leading destination for winter sports. Applause for you Franz, cause I can surely appreciate it. Let me take you back 120 years when it all started. Franz Reisch, the mayor of Kitzbühel, fell in love with skiing and wanted to share his passion. He imported thousands of skis in order to sell them again to the restless guests in the village. Just as predicted, the visitors were enchanted by the sport and it became a great success. That day, in Kitzbühel, winter sports (and of course après-ski) were born.

Kitzbühel
Kitzbuhel offers amazing mountain views!

Skiing
A small layer of snow is enough for skiing or snowboarding thanks to the grassy slopes at high altitudes. So we can all thank Mother Nature (with a little help from the snow cannons) for making 180 days a year of ski fun in Kitzbühel possible. For me, as a beginner, the area is perfect for skiing. More than 50{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} of the slopes are blue (101 km) and it’s even possible to make a few trips without scaring yourself to death because of the steepness.

Skiing in Kitzbuhel

 Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing

Lunch break in Kitzbuhel
A well deserved Austrian lunch break!

Advanced skiers can try their luck at the Streif. A spectacular descent where the best skiers compete with each other once a year during the Hannenkamm-Rennen. It’s one of the most difficult slopes in the world: ramps up to 85 percent, speeds around 140 kilometers an hour and a 80 meter jump over the so called “mousetrap”. She’s famous, notorious, feared but certainly loved. Every year this event attracts more than 40.000 visitors who watch the skiers flying down the Streif in suspense. Advanced skiers will find plenty of challenge at the Steif so put it on your to-do list (if you got the guts). Next to this try before you die slope you can enjoy beautiful red (61km) and black (17km) slopes in the area. The rebels who like to colour outside the lines can find some adventurous off-piste runs in the area of Kitzbühel – Kirchberg.


Group tours through the mountains of Kitzbühel

My verdict
You won’t find the giant mountains and hundred kilometres of black slopes but Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing. Talking about relaxation: Kitzbühel is well known for her cozy mountain huts. Two of my favourite huts where the Bei Tomschy and Berggasthof Tirol. Both traditional, but the food and service are of high standard, perfect excuse for a break. Cause after a long day of skiing (or shopping) we can all use a heiße choco mit sahne… und Rum.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Private slopes and more in Zillertal, Austria

I can ensure you that I’m not a morning person but while getting up at 5:30 am for the private slope at Hochfügen, Zillertal, I only snoozed once (very proud of that). Leaving my cozy bed at Das PostHotel – Zillerseasons to get ready for the untouched slopes and a heavenly white view.

Hire a Private Piste
The private slope is limited to a maximum of 30 people so take the title ‘private’ very serious. Standing 2.133m high with my head in de clouds, ready to take a jump in the powder snow on our very own red slope. The experience is amazing; nothing can be compared to skiing down the smooth white sheets while the world is still asleep. Creating that very first track, the silence that embraces you and nobody that (in my case) overtakes you. Truly an amazing experience, one of those try-before-you-die things. But, if you are a beginner be sure to check the type of slope before setting your alarm at 5:30 am. To be honest, going down a red slope on the third day of skiing was a little bit too ambitious for me. I have absolutely no regrets but for now I’ll stick to the blue beginner slopes to keep myself from a heart attack. The private piste hire is available from 7.30 – 8.30 am from €40 per person.

Private piste Zillental
Virgin slopes are guaranteed!

Luckily for me, Zillertal offers 132km of Eva-proof blue slopes. The confident skiers out there can take it to the next level with the 238 km of red slopes. Zillertal is also a perfect destination for snowboarders because of the small amount of flat connections between the slopes.
There is another 65km of black slopes for the experienced skiers and snowboarders. The real daredevils can try their luck on the Harakiri. Beware, cause with an average gradient of 78 percent this is the steepest slope in Austria. I kindly turned down the invitation this year, but who knows what the future will bring.

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skiing in Zillental

Those 435 km of slopes Zillertal has to offer will keep you from getting bored for sure. But there is more to Winter sport then stroking the slopes with your skis or snowboard. And no, I’m not talking about après-ski cause we all know how much fun that can be. Zillertal changed my opinion on which ingredients a laid back vacation had to include. Forget lying on the beach all day, working on your tan and following those yoga classes at Bali.

Winter sports is the new mindful vacation this world has to offer and will surprise you with the diversity of activities. Although I enjoyed skiing to the fullest, it wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience for me as a beginner. I’m not even talking about the muscle pain or bruises on my butt, cause that’s just part of the deal. The blame is to my inner voice who kept on shouting “DON’T DARE to fall in front of this cute ski instructor!” Well, bye bye inner peace… Here are my favorite activities that can clear your mind while still exploring the area and enjoying the nature:

Cross Country Skiing
It’s still quite a workout but that way you can order another plate of Keizerschmarren without any guilt feelings (at least I did). You use different muscles then with skiing, what makes it a perfect alternative if you suffer from muscle pain. Next to that it’s a really calm way to explore the area but way more fun than walking. Pause to take some photos, enjoy the view or to catch your breath. And once you are at the top of the mountain, you only have to slide down again. I took the Gamsstein Cross Country path near Hochfügen. The access to the area is free so grab those skies und gehen!

Langlaufen in Pill, Zillental

Toboggan Run
In Gerlosstein you can find the longest toboggan run in the Zillertal Valley, 7 km of sliding fun. The cable car will take you to an altitude of 1.650 m and after that you actually don’t have to do anything… perfect winter-sports- activity right? Just sit, enjoy and somehow find a way to steer around the corners. The best part; you’ll even find bars along the toboggan run for some Glühwein to warm you up.
Tip: Check the weather condition before planning a toboggan run. If there is too much snow you will loose your speed and will need a lot more Glühwein to stay excited.

Gluhwein in Zillertal

My verdict: Zillertal is a great place to discover and enjoy the diversity of winter sports. It offers a great amount of slopes, modern lifts and Austrian hospitality. Next to skiing there are plenty activities to add some variety to your trip. Choose from snowtubing, funparks, cross country skiing or rent your very own private slope. Whatever you choose, I can ensure you that you won’t get bored. Find more info about the area here.

Read my previous article, A Beginners Guide to Wintersport and find out where I had the best High Tea at 2600m!

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wintersport

Walking into the unknown to discover a whole new world. It felt like the openings scene of Alice in Wonderland. Except my tour-guide wasn’t the smiling Cheshire cat and I didn’t have to climb down the rabbit hole (just a 1,5 hour flight to Innsbruck) but hé, minor details. A big blanket of snow covers the typical Austrian houses and impressive mountains. Standing in the middle of paradise at Hotel Chesa Monte in Fiss. The perfect place for a good night of pre-ski-sleep, while the 62 ski slopes are waiting to be explored. I was ready for my beginner’s guide to wintersport.

The slopes of Fiss

On the slopes for the first time
With all of my courage in my backpack, I was standing at the top of a real slope for the first time. Fiss is where I started. Although the Slope was next to ‘Berta’s Kinderland’, what probably says a thing about the height, I suddenly felt a lot less confident then I did at the indoor skiing course at Snow World. After 5 lessons of skiing on artificial snow, this was the moment I worked for. The moment to show of my skiing skills and… well, I went down in the biggest pizza shaped vorm you probably have ever seen. It can’t be compared to the training I’ve done indoor and on the dry slopes. It goes a lot faster, the track can be quite uneven and the amazing view will distract you for sure. Still I would recommend taking a few lessons on artificial snow or a dry slopes. You get used to the feeling of skiing, will learn the techniques and it’s actually a pretty fun way to work out (I can ensure you that there is no need for a squad session afterwards). After knowing what you have to do, you only have to keep on trying in the real winter wonderland.

Beginners guide to wintersport in Fiss
Yep, that’s a beginners guide to wintersport! (Gear by Head, outfit by O’Neill.)

A group lesson at Skischule Fiss-Ladis helped me to boost my confidence on the skis. It took away my fear after noticing that falling a few times doesn’t mean the end of the world, especially at my speed. Most of the time it’s just a little laugh for others while diving into the fluffy snow. Of course, you should still be careful.  A lesson with an experienced teacher is also a fun way to discover the area. They usually know a lot about the slopes and cities surrounding it.  The only disadvantage is the waiting on the group, but it gives you a moment to catch your breath.

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis
For further exploration of the ski area I’ve left my skis at the ski depots at serfaus-fiss-ladis. Wait what, does it make sense to explore the area without ski’s?! Well, it does. You can even do a Segway tour instead of skiing (for sure a bucket-list thing, believe me). While being on the slopes, if you are a beginner like me, you probably stay at the foot of the mountain for your skiing practice. But it truly would be a shame if you miss out on the heads-in-the-clouds feeling.

Segway tour in Fiss, Austria

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As evening falls in Fiss during the Segway Tour

The view high up at Mount Schönjoch (2491m) is like living in a dream so say goodbye to your skis and take a ski lift to the top. The good part about ski lift is; as long as they go up, they can always bring you down again. There are 68 lift facilities in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis so more than enough to explore, discover and experience. If you’re planning on going to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis please do yourself a favor and make a reservation at the Crystal Cube. Have a champagne breakfast, luxury lunch or high tea at 2.600m high and with a 360-degree views of the winter mountain panorama. Both the food (I had more than 8 courses with the lunch) and the view is something you won’t easily forget. Check here for more info.

Crystal Cube, Fiss

Lunch at the Crystal Cube in Fiss-Ladis
Lunch with a view!

Eva at the Crystal Cube for Wander-Lust

My verdict as a beginner:
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is beginner proof. Beautiful nature, charming villages and many activities to discover. Your ski ticket is valid in all three area’s so take your time to discover the area and find the slopes that match your experience. It’s also a great place to go to if you’re have kids. While they are being enchanted by the charm of Berta the cow in Kinderland, you can enjoy your cold beer at one of the 19 nearby après-ski bars.
P.S: Did you know that Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is the sunniest place of Tirol? With those 2000 hours a year of sun you don’t even have to choose between tanning and skiing!

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Berlin City Guide 2016

When I visited Berlin for the first time in 2005 for the closing parties of the old Tresor club. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of this  amazing city. The never-ending parties at vibrant locations swept me off my feet. Though I am a bit older now and 24-hour party marathons will cost me weeks to recover ;-), Berlin still manages to make me fall in love again every time we meet. The traces of the Berlin wall, its city parks and the alternative and relaxed people. The big old brick buildings, the historical feeling in general and the thriving club scene. It’s museums, shops and great restaurants. And last but not least: how everything is still quite affordable and cheap. This combined makes Berlin an interesting place for everyone. Enjoy this Berlin city guide 2016!

Sleep in Ostkreuz Area (Because it has the best East-Berlin Feeling)
When you ask people where to stay in Berlin, the answer often will be Kreuzberg. And yes, this is a great area, but personally I like to stay a bit more in the North-East in the area between Friedrichshain and Lichtenberg, closer to Ostkreuz station. While this area might be a bit rougher, it is less touristy and embodies that typical East-Berlin feeling that I love so deeply. If you like clubbing, this area is by far the best to stay. Berghain/Panoramabar is only a 10 minute bike ride (or 5 minutes by S-train) and Kosmonaut, Salon zur wilden Renate, Chalet, Club der Visionaere, Watergate and Sisyphos are all just around the corner.

Berghain Berlin
The infamous Berghain Club (source: www.rbb-online.de)

Where to Eat?
In this area its easy to find good places to eat. Have breakfast, lunch or just a coffee at Milja & Schäfa , Zebrano, or Silo . If you like Asian food Berlin is The Place To Be. For dinner I would recommend Transit , it has delicious Asian tapas you can share with your friends. I had an amazing red duck curry at Glory Duck. Other must visits are Haubentaucher, Else (only open during summer), restaurant FAME  and Holzmarkt. The last two are from the owners of the famous Bar25 and Katerholzig. You can find them next to each other and the atmosphere is fantastic. Have a few drinks or a pizza at Holzmarkt and enjoy the view over the river Spree. If you want to have dinner at restaurant Fame its best to make a reservation.

fame Berlin
Lunch at Fame

silo Berlin
Enjoy a lovely breakfast at Silo. Guten Appetit! Source: Silo Coffee’s Facebook

Cycle around! 
Bikes have become more popular over the last couple of years in Berlin. And let’s be real- there is no better way to explore a city! It gives you freedom to go wherever whenever and it makes you feel a resident of the city. On my last visit, luckily my Airbnb came with its own bikes, but you can easily rent them at a bike shop – just ask your host. A rental bike will cost you around 10 euros a day. For me the number one thing to do in Berlin is cycling at Tempelhof Park. This park used to be an airport that closed in 2008. Nowadays it’s a 386-hectare park that almost feels surreal.

Tempelhof Map Berlin
Tempelhof Park

We have all been in airports but when you cycle over the airstrip, the massiveness overwhelms you. There are a few bars and in the summer you can BBQ. But mostly it is a park where people run, kite, skate, cycle, watch the sunset, picknick and take pictures. It is so much fun! This year I cycled my own little tour from Ostkreuz area to Tempelhof and managed to include two city parks – always a win! My route was: Oberbaumbrücke – Skalitzetstrasse – Görlitzer Park – Pannierstrasse – Volkspark and than Tempelhof. After my visit to Tempelhof I cycled north, up to Kreuzberg and enjoyed a great Asian lunch at restaurant Umami at the famous Bergmannstrasse. It’s easy to discover the city by yourself with a little help from Google Maps but you can also book a bike tour with a guide. Visit Berlin on A Bike for three different tours: one with the highlights of Berlin (Berlins Best), a Berlin Wall Tour or choose for the Alternative one. They all seem interesting and fun!

tempelhof Berlin
Enjoy your bike ride at Tempelhof. Photo by Floksor (Flickr)

Shop! (Eat, Drink and Shop again..!)
My favorite shop in Berlin is Overkill. This sneaker shop has a men and a women store next to each other. Welcome to Sneaker Heaven! I always end up buying a new pair every time I visit. Very nearby you can find a cool boathouse on the river where you can enjoy a coffee, lunch or dinner before you hop on your bike again to continue your shopping spree. A good area to shop is the Rosa-Luxemburg Platz/Weinmeisterstrasse area. It’s not overcrowded like Alexanderplatz and not that big. There are some small boutiques with Berlin fashion labels and vintage shops (Pick ‘n Weight and Made in Berlin) but you can also find the bigger brands like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Mango and H&M. For lunch I would recommend YamYam, this Korean restaurant is always full but it’s definitely worth the wait. I heard shopping in Kreuzberg is fun as well. You can find a huge vintage shop at the Bergmannstrasse called Colours. It is a bit hidden but when you find it you will be lost there for a few hours.

YamYam Berlin
Enjoy a Korean Bibimbap at Yam Yam

overkill Berlin
An overkill on sneakers!

Feel like going to Berlin yet? I definitely do! Enjoy und viel Spass!

Love,

Kim

*Kim Bosman is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands. This gymrat works as a digital creative and loves to travel. Other things she likes: eating, writing and photography. You can expect an article from her once a month. Go check out her Instagram

More city Trips?

Why Hamburg is the new Berlin

The titel of this blogpost might seem to be a little overconfident but when I was invited by Germany Tourism to visit Hamburg I was very exited. I have been to many German destinations but Hamburg was still on my list. People tip it to be the next Berlin. But this city is not trying to be hip and showing off their riches. Hamburg is laid back and hip without even realizing it. It’s the 3rd largest and important port of Europe (they used to be second but Antwerp has stolen that titel). For this reason Hamburg has always been an important trading city and over the last decade a lot of development has brought positive change. You will find tons of hidden gems here.

Where to stay
Hamburg is a large city but you will notice that  the best area’s are pretty near to each other. I stayed in The Jugendherberge in St. Pauli which is a great location to stay in because it’s close to everything. The Jugendherberge is a good choice if you’re looking for a budget stay with friends or if you have children. They serve a pretty decent breakfast buffet and the view over St. Pauli and the harbor is great. You can book a twin room or stay in a dorm with friends. From here you will have easy acces to the beautiful Planten un Blomen park, the large harbor (hafen city) and the metro station is a 2 min walk. You can also find the Hamburg Beach Clubs here. Beach clubs? Yes, this vibrant city has a few beach bars lined up overlooking the harbour. Ok ok, they are man-made but there is sand with tropical features. Perfect for a summer day. The most populair beach bar is St. Pauli beach club where you can find all sorts of people, young and old.

The view from the Jugend Herberge
The view from the Jugendherberge

Hamburg
Relaxing at some of the beach clubs alongside the river in St. Pauli

Walk down from the Jugendherberge and you will find the Ditmar-Koel Strasse, a street full with Italian and Portuguese restaurants. The Portuguese community is quite large here as Portuguese sailors stationed here back in the days. You will find at least 50 Portuguese restaurants in Hamburg. Also check out Milch for your morning coffee in this street.
I also visited the Goethe-Institut where you can learn the German language at different levels. Students come from all over the world to learn German to improve their job skills in Germany or within a specialized field. I was invited to see their work and meet some of the students. I even followed a German lesson! The institute is situated next to the central station. So if you think about moving to Hamburg or want to work on your German skills, this is the best place to do it. For more information check www.goethe.de/en

Goethe Institut
Outside the Goethe-Instutut

“You will find tons of hidden gems in Hamburg”

Milch Hamburg
Get your morning coffee at Milch

Schanze Area
You could compare this district with Berlin but I’ve already made this comparison in the titel so let’s just say that it’s an alternative place where a lot of students and young professionals live. You will find street art, vegan cafe’s and the coolest shops. I really loved it. From my accommodation it was just 2 stops by metro to get there. There are so many cool things for you to visit around here that I’ve made a little list of the best food & shops hotspots:

FOOD & DRINK in Schanze:
»
Ältes Madchen, This comfort food beer bar opened 2 years ago and is part of a home beer brewery. It’s situated in an industrial building that used to be a slaughter house. You will also find advertising and creative agencies around here. www.altes-maedchen.com
» Elbgold is a coffee bar next door to Altes Madchen and t
hey roast different kinds of coffee which you can buy and take home with you. www.elbgold.com

» Mikawa is for great Japanese lunch or dinner. Very affordable and their Matcha Ice Tea is topnotch! www.mikawa.de

Schanze Area Hamburg
Coffee Bar Elbgold


Japanese treats at Mikawa

SHOPS in Schanze:
» Kauf Dich Glucklich is such an awesome store that reminded me a little bit of & Other Stories. Shop till you drop. www.kaufdichgluecklich-shop.de
» Fräulein wunder has a lot of local brands in store and you will find things here you won’t find at home. www.fraeuleinwunder-hamburg.de
» Amara Ajai for jewelry, pottery and lifestyle products. www.amara-ajai.com
» Under pressure is a cool Sneaker & Vinyl store, worth visiting. www.underpressure.de
» Minimarkt is a cool Scandinavian style concept store with about everything. www.minimarkt.com

San George
Also worth visiting is gay friendly area San George. The main street street is called Lange Reihe where you will find coffee bars, restaurants and shops.

» Cafe Gnosa for great coffee and good conversation
» Vesco Dagama has to be the best Porguguese restaurant in Hamburg, apparently.
» Fränzi (Fraenzi) vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Try their homemade lemonade or Ice-Tea, amazing! Facebook

Hamburger Dom
Fun at the Hamburger DOM

Other area’s and places in Hamburg you should check out:
» Reeperbahn, This is the old red light district in Hamburg. Here you will find lots of bars and clubs but also a nice place to drink wine and beer outside.
» Ottensen district Watch this space as it’s up and coming. Bahrenstrasse is the main street for shops, cafe’s.
» The Hamburger DOM, have some old school fun at this large fair. If you’re around on a Friday, make sure you see the fireworks at 11pm!
» Wohlwill strasse near the Dom. Alternative cafe’s and bars.
» Uebel & Gefährlich is THE club everybody is talking about. Check out the agenda here
» Karolinen Viertel is a district and in particular the Marktstrasse for cool shops. You have a lot of vegetarian or vegan options around here.
» Hafen City is such a cool area to walk around. The old buildings are part of the Unesco World Heritage list and you will see why. Uber cool!

Hafen City Hamburg
Hafen city is such a cool place to walk around in

Things you should know about Hamburg:
» During my stay I used a 5 day travel card for the public transport but I never had to show my ticket plus you’re not required to check in or out like you do in the UK or The Netherlands. Oh i’m so wrong for saying this but…just saying! (A fine will cost you €60 though) #livingontheedge
» Many restaurants don’t accept cards or require you to spend a a minimum of 10-15 euro’s. Most stores prefer you pay with cash so make sure you find a ATM to avoid disappointment.
» If you are around from January 2017, you should pay a visit to the highly anticipated Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall which includes a hotel, bar and even apartments! Their first concerts are already sold out but definitely have a look in or outside the building. I was so lucky to have a first look inside with a selected group of Instagrammers.
» You may notice that they sell a lot of Fritz-Kola around this city and that’s because 2 students from Hamburg started their imperium back in 2002 and locals are proud of that. Drink it and enjoy!

Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg
The impressive architecture of the Elbphilharmonie

So be ready for the next best thing Germany has to offer and book a flight to Hamburg, it will pleasantly surprise you!

Love,

Elke

Watch my video report here!

Why you should visit Switzerland this summer

In my previous blogpost about summer in Switzerland, I visited the city of Bern and its surroundings. It was time to continue my roadtrip through this stunning country. It was time to find my inner Heidi and walk through the hills. We decided to continue our way up to Emmental and Lucerne.

Emmental

This region is made up out of small 42 villages situated between the green (or snowy) hills of Switzerland. Emmental got it’s name from the Emme river that flows through the area but Emmental is most famous for the cheese with all the holes in it. I started my tour through Emmental after a meeting with the pr manager of Emmental Tourism. She took me on a hike through the hills and although it rained a little when I arrived but that didn’t stop us from walking to a great viewing point. Fun Fact! In Emmental it’s very common to see a small house right next to a larger house. This is when the children take over the farm and the parents move into a smaller house right next door!

Wanderweg sign Switzerland
Wanderweg. I didn’t make this up 

Where did I sleep?

My accommodation was pretty cool. I stayed in a bed & breakfast in an old farmhouse owned by a dairy farmer and his wife, Evelyn & Ernst. I love B&B’s because it’s so much more personal than a large hotel for example. My room was large and on the top floor. The whole floor was pretty much mine to use which also featured a nice bathroom, TV room and children’s bedroom. We were asked to join dinner downstairs and because I am a vegetarian, they especially prepared some wonderful salads. Book your stay at the farm here.

Bed & Breakfast Emmental
The Bed & Breakfast I stayed at in the mitst of nature

Cow in Emmental Switzerland
Cuddling the cows

Hiking

If you visit Switzerland, be prepared to walk a few miles. Not because you have to but because you want to. There are so many beautiful viewing points and hills to climb, that you should definitely leave your heels at home. So the next day, when the natural alarm clock woke me up (read: Cow’s moo-ing), I was ready for a hike. The weather was beautiful and I walked from the farm through the forest and all the way up to where I can imagine Heidi running around in between te flowers. (I couldn’t help myself of doing the same, check the after movie!) Passing by little piglets, running (happy) cows and stunning views, we walked all the way up to a hotel/restaurant called Moosegg where we had an amazing lunch. At Moosegg you enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the Emmental and Langnau hills plus on a clear day you can see the Swiss Alps in the background. The restaurant’s chef took the time to explain that they’ve just finished a new renovation of the hotel, which has 22 rooms. Chef Daniel is a highly acclaimed chef which earned the restaurant it’s 16 awarded Gault Millau points.

Hotel Moosegg
Moosegg hotel/restaurant on the hills of Emmental

Restaurant Moosegg Switzerland
Danke Restaurant Moosegg!

Restaurant Moosegg Switzerland
Lunch with a view..

Lucerne | Vitznau

From Emmental you can drive in several directions but we decided to drive towards Lutzern. (Lucerne) We avoided the highway again and drove through the cutest villages and green hills. The weather was sunny and this makes Switzerland even better. When you arrive in Vitznau you will drive pass Lake Lucerne which is surrounded by mountains and is really impressive to see. Apon arrival, we parked our car and took the Rigi rails up Mount Rigi. This is a steep rail that runs through the area and pretty much the only way to get up the mountain. 

The Rigi Railways are the highest standard gauge railway in Europe.

Rigi Railways, Switzerland
Rigi Railways

Mount Rigi is popular with people, old and young, get up early for a fresh hike.

Around Rigi

After 5 stops we arrived at our accommodation, Hotel Rigi Kaltbad. Rooms are simple but the views are stunning. From green hills to snowy mountains within a few hours! Hotel Rigi Kaltbad has a spa which hotel guest can use and I couldn’t pass on this option of course! Enjoy an in and outside area with a view of the snowy mountains. This area is a lot more expensive than Emmental so don’t be shocked when you order lunch or dinner around here. (a cup of tea will cost you around €4,50) We took the Rigi Train all the way up the top and as stupid as I was, I didn’t bring any hiking boots. God, I really needed them because there was still a lot of snow at the top of the mountain. Tip: Have lunch place in the middle of Rigi Mount called Chalet Schild. Just opened, they serve homemade salads, soup, Swiss specialties and freshly baked pastries.

Travel blogger or not, when you stand here at 1700 meters above sea level, you’re gonna have yourself a cry-moment or two.

Hotel Rigi Kaltbad, Switzerland
Just chillin’ (OMG this view!)

Lunch at Chalet Schild, Mount Rigi, Switzerland
Lunch at Chalet Schild

From there the snow disappeared underneath our feet and we could walk on a straight path overlooking the lake of Lucerne. I had a moment of extreme gratitude and joy when I saw the view from here. It was so beautiful that I almost cried. This is the world’s true beauty. Everybody that comes here, is here to enjoy the nature of Switzerland and nothing more. 

Cry-moment #1
Cry-moment #1

Cry-moment #2
Cry-moment #2

After our 2 hour hike, we got back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and take the Rigi Train back down the mountain. We still had a few hours to kill so we decided to take a boat tour over the lake. Boat tickets are available from the ticket desks at the boat docks along the lake. You get a discount or even free travel if you own a rail pass. A ticket will cost you around €20,- and takes you from Vitznau to Lucerne and back. Our car was parked back in Vitznau so we needed to go back but otherwise it’s nice to spend a few hours in high end city Lucerne.

Boat trip over Lake Lucerne
The boat trip is well worth it

The last few days in Switzerland really took my breath away and just imagine it in a few months when everything is even greener! I can highly recommend to grab your car or train and visit Switzerland this summer!

Check our video about Switzerland!

Love,

Elke

In and around Bern, Switzerland

Europe has so much to offer and one of those countries has to be Switzerland. You may have seen some New Zealand lookalike photo’s, well, that’s Switzerland for ya. Green hills, snowy mountains, waterfalls and wonderful towns. I had to go there! In my previous blogpost (where I slept in a Wine Barrel) I mentioned I was driving through Germany and made a few stops along the way. My sister lives just off the border of Basel so after a nice family visit it was time to see if those Instagram images would live up to my expectations. First stop Bern!

For this roadtrip I needed a car that would have enough power to drive through a landscape full of hills and yet, feel comfortable at the same time. I took the Peugeot 308GT and boy did I make a good decision there! This baby was perfect for the German highway (no lazy speed limits like in the Netherlands) and I felt pretty cool too 😉 Tip » If you want to see more (and save some cash) then try to avoid the Swiss Toll roads where you need to buy a vignette for. This normally cost you 40 euro’s and it’s valid for one year. We took the small roads and drove through a beautiful landscape. Careful, the navigation will try to get you on the highway again so use your google maps as navigation on the small roads.

Driving around Switzerland in the Peugeot 308GT
Going from A to B in style

Around Bern
My first stop was at a rather special one. A big landhouse called Schloss Hünigen. The property is run by a gentleman with the same family name as me! This was such a coincidence! (we later discovered that we come from the same tree of life) I was warmly welcomed and given a spacious room overlooking the garden. The hotel currently has 49 rooms and the Schloss dates back from 1555. All guests have free entry to the nice spa which features a steam room, 2 sauna’s and a bubble bath. The city Bern is only a 30 min drive and you can also take the train which is only a short walk away from Schloss Hünigen.

The food which is served in restaurant, Rosarium, is very very tasty. You can enjoy typical Swiss and international cuisine with good wine. (believe me, I tried) In the restaurant or on the terrace, everything is themed around roses. The outside garden and terras is surrounded by 3500 roses and wedding guests can plant their own rose branch with their names on it. Golf and hiking are popular activities nearby but I enjoyed the garden and my room for as long as I could. It was just what I needed after a few hours in the car. For a peaceful and romantic stopover near Bern, this is the perfect place to stay. Book your stay here.
Schloss Hünigen
Freimettigenstrasse 9
Konolfingen, Switzerland
www.schlosshuenigen.ch

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
The impressive Schloss Hünigen

Schloss Hunigen
My spacious bedroom

Dinner at Schloss Hunigen
Fresh salad from local produce

Bern
I didn’t know much about Bern, only that the bear is their national symbol and it’s a city surrounded by fresh mountain water. From Schloss Huningen I drove to Bern in about 30 minutes and had a guided tour booked. I did this because I only had one day in Bern so I needed to make the most of it. The tour lasted 1,5 hours which is enough to learn about the history and Bern’s most famous marks. We started the tour with the story how Bern got his name. (well, at least so legend says). Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, (names back in the days were so much cooler) the founder of the City of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt; as this turned out to be a bear, the city had both its name and its heraldic beast. You will find bears everywhere. On the flags, souvenirshops, cups and it’s the only city that owns 3 real bears in the city center.

Bern

Things to do in Bern
Bern is a quiet city but don’t be fooled! There are lot’s of things to do, especially during summer. Here are a few examples:
» Visit a market. Food Markets are on Tuesday and Saturdays right in front of the Parliaments House
» City tour “Follow your nose in Bern” Let you be seduced by the world of fragrances and the historic centre of Bern. Just literally follow your nose on a guided tour and learn more about the history and the smells of the City. From sandstone to liquorice up to cocoa flavour – Bern can offer many unique scents with a thrilling past. After the tour you will create your own Bern-perfume in the Shop “Art of scent” managed by the perfume specialist Brigitte Witschi.Website
» Urban Swimming If you ever come to visit Bern in summer don’t miss to jump into the refreshingly cold and clean water of the Aare river. It is indeed one of the best experience during hot summer days and typically Bern! An activity which fascinates young and old alike. It’s a local thing so if you want to blend in, take a leap in the refreshing water. During summer, locals walk up the hill and take their rubber boats into the water and let the current take them down the river which takes about 2 hours. There is also a swimming pool which is free for everyone! There’s also a new trend, Urban Surfing coming up. A young and motivated surf teacher gives surf lessons to everyone interested. http://bungeesurfen.ch/pages/home
Tip! » Get yourself a Bern ticket. This ticket let’s you use the public transport for free, even the the elevator to the Cathedral Platform, and travels to and from Bern Airport. Every guest automatically receives a “Bern Ticket” when staying overnight in Bern. www.bern.com/en/bernticket

The clock of Bern

Dates not to miss
Buskers Bern Street Festival / 11-13 August / Street musicians all over Bern! www.buskersbern.ch
Gurten Festival Bern / 14-17 July / The program includes more than 60 live acts and 60 DJs representing the pop, rock, punk, elektro, funk, soul, R&B, hip hop, country, singer-songwriter and blues genres. All on top of the mountain overlooking Bern. www.gurtenfestival.ch

Overlooking Bern
Overlooking the River with Restaurant Schwellenmaeatteli across the water

Where to eat?
» Restaurant Lötschberg Original Swissdom does hype. Centrally located in the upper Old Town. With youthful open-mindedness, Lötschberg will treat you to Swiss specialities in their light, urban and trendy restaurant. www.loetschberg-aoc.ch
» Klösterli Weincafé Small yet classy – Bern’s first address for all wine and coffee aficionados. Premium Italian coffee and a carefully selected range of around 100 wines await you in a stylish setting. A small yet delicious selection of dishes are offered. Specialty cheeses and dry-cured meats served on a slate platter. Or a tender piece of “Café de Klösterli” entrecôte. www.kloesterlibern.ch
» Tibits Tibits, derived from the word “titbits,” stands for delicious and fresh food and drink. As speedy as a fast food restaurant, but as comfortable as a top-quality café: tibits in a nutshell. The vegetarian (and partly vegan) buffet offers more than 40 different salads and a selection of warm dishes which changes daily. Alongside fresh juices, tea and coffee, wine, and cocktails, you can also enjoy sandwiches and fine pastries. Everything is also available to take away. www.tibits.ch
» Restaurant Gärtnerei This trendy self-service restaurant offers daily homemade salads and soups as well as other delicacies, some even vegan, sugar- or wheat-free. Healthy, sustainable and tasty! www.gartnerei.ch
» Schwellenmaeatteli by the river. The interplay of architecture and nature makes spending time in the sunny outdoor seating area of the pavilion a real experience. Guests can even watch the movements of the water through an opening in the wooden floor. Great for those summer nights.  www.schwellenmaetteli.ch
» Restaurant Rosengarten, for stunning views of Bern and seasonal dishes. It’s a steep walk up for about 5-10 minutes but it’s worth it. You can also visit the Rose Garden while you’re there www.rosengarten.be

The gartnerei in Bern
The healthy and sustainable Gartnerei. Source

Coffee & More
» Effinger
Kaffeebar & Coworking Space Effinger Kaffeebar & Coworking Space opened in March 2016 and is the ideal place for a beer with your friends after work. It also offers coworking spaces for young and creative freelancers. www.effinger.ch
» Kaffee Montag Every day fresh and surprisingly different. At Kaffee Montag you get seasonal and fresh products from the region. It’s a great place to sit and chat with your friends while enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. And why is it called Montag (Monday)? Because Monday is their favourite day of the week! www.kaffeemontag.ch
» Adrianos This bar located just opposite the Clock Tower (Zytglogge) has a Mediterranean feel, offers a good atmosphere and serves excellent coffee, thanks to its in-house roasting plant. www.adrianos.ch
» Volver BarTapasCafé ‘Volver’ is Spanish and means ‘to come back’. To ensure that visitors to Volver do just that willingly and often, they are continually delighted with gastronomic gems from Spain and Switzerland: a morning cappuccino, a pasta lunch, chocolate cake in the afternoon, or beer, wine & tapas in the evening. Volver is small and cosy with a great atmosphere! www.barvolver.ch

Coffee & More in Bern
Kaffee Montag, underground cellars and risotto at the Rosengarten

Where to sleep?
» Hotel Landhaus A young hotel in a more than 100-year-old listed building. Situated at the heart of the Bern Old Town, right on the Aare river and next to the BearPark, the hotel is the perfect location for all lovers of the special and unconventional. The renovated rooms offer globetrotters, families, artists, businesspeople, backpackers, individualists, and even groups and school classes a home away from home. www.landhausbern.ch

One day Bern wasn’t enough to visit all these hotspots but hopefully YOU can.

Love,

Elke

Explore Munich in 2 days

I often go to Germany for work and I really like it, especially Berlin and Hamburg are some of my favorites. I’ve never visited Munich before and this year I got the opportunity! After visiting the capital of Bavaria, I can now add this city to my list of favorite places to visit in Germany. This city with plenty of cultural highlights and beautiful architecture, is a city where you can’t get enough of. The architecture of some castles, museums, and lovely parks are breathtaking.

Next to that Munich is also a great place for shopping and eating. I had only 2 days to explore Munich, but I think I did a good job to find some very fine parts which you need to check out when you’re there;

Sleeping
This beautiful hotel, Flushing Meadows, is situated on the top two floors of an industrial building in Munich’s most vibrant neighborhood, the Glockenbac. The third floor has 11 individual loft studios – prizes from 165 euro per night – created in collaboration with selected personalities and friends from various creative realms, including music, cinema, design, sports and art. The 4th floor feature five penthouse studios – prizes from 145 euro per night – with a private terrace with a stunning view over Munich where they serve delicious seasonal cocktails.
The bar is popular with many locals and apparently every night there’s a very great vibe.

Flushing Meadows
Top pictures source Flushing Meadows
Fraunhoferstraße 32, 80469 Munich, Germany
Website

Food & Drink

1. Little Kind Cafe
Little kind cafe is located on a side street of Gartnerplatz which is the perfect place for a healthy vegan lunch! You will love it immediately; it has a great ambiance due to the cute little wooden tables – made of pallets – inside and outside with paper lamps  handing and different plants. They have a nice menu, all fresh and homemade. From matcha latte coffees to vegan banana cakes, it’s all so tasty.
Tip: Try the toast with avocado and a fresh coconut and top it of with a fresh cake and coffee.

Little Kind Cafe
Buttermelcherstraße 9, 80469 Munich, Germany
Facebook

2. Man versus Machine
Do you like coffee? Then this is the place to be. I really can enjoy a good cup of coffee and this place serves on of the best you’ve ever had! It’s a great place to get work done. It’s nice and quiet with plenty of room and comfortable seats. Man vs Machine is an independent specialty coffee roasting company. They love to advise you to find your perfect coffee, and they also offer delicious cakes!

ManvsMachine
Müllerstraße 23, 80469 Munich, Germany
Website

3. Stereo Cafe
Though it’s situated on one of the most commercial streets (Theatinerstraße) of Munich, it’s a very nice cafe where you can enjoy a American cup of coffee, healthy lunch and homemade cake whilst enjoying the view of the Residence! Do you need a little shopping break? This is the place you would like to go to.

Stereo Cafe
Residenzstraße 25, 80333 Munich, Germany
Website

Other

1. Residenz in Munich
Munich Residenz is definitely one of Europe’s most spectacular palaces. Make sure to visit the different rooms where you will find fine architecture and impressive Renaissance decorations and definitely take an hour to wander to see the beautiful old courtyards – the beautiful Court Garden.

Residenz Munich

2. Munich is great for shopping
Visit Munich’s most exclusive shopping area Maximilianstraße and Residenzstraße where you will find exclusive boutiques.
One of my favorite shops is IRO. Maybe a bit pricey, but a qualitative beautiful brand where you will find that special item that everyone wants but you have!

Munich
Residenzstraße 26, 80333 Munich, Germany

Tschüss,

Sarah