My top 5 destinations to return to

After leaving a comment on a similar post at On The Luce, I was asked to take part in the Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There promotion. The idea is to write a post about my top 5 destinations that I would return to, complete with pictures and then nominate five bloggers to do the same. Once 100 entries have been written, all the posts will be entered in a competition to win an iPhone 6.

I have a huge list of places I want to visit, and it’s growing all the time! But who doesn’t dream of going back to a place they’ve been before? Whether it’s an old, familiar place that you visit often and where returning is almost like coming home, or somewhere you’ve only been to once but that left such an impression that you long to return and do more exploring? Here are my top 5, not really in chronological order because that would be too difficult!

Edinburgh, Scotland

As a child, I used to go to Edinburgh specifically to visit the zoo (Newcastle doesn’t have one). As an adult, I’ve been three times, and still there is more to explore. I haven’t even climbed Arthur’s Seat yet! The beautiful architecture, the pubs, the friendliness of Scots, its proximity to the sea (which I miss so much in landlocked Karlsruhe!) all combine to make Edinburgh one of my favourite places on Earth! And the castle is pretty impressive too 😉

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

Austria

It’s probably cheating to choose an entire country rather than a city, but Austria is only a small country after all 😉 I lived in Vorarlberg for almost a year, so obviously that area has a special place in my heart, but I will always get excited about a trip to Austria, no matter what the specific destination. Innsbruck is gorgeous, Vienna has so much to offer and I adore Salzburg with its narrow, winding streets and views of mountains!

How could I not want to see this view again?
How could I not want to see this view again?

Stockholm, Sweden

I went to Stockholm in the summer of 2012 and instantly fell in love with the place! Despite having a population of 905,184, it felt so open and spacious… probably because of all the water. Admittedly some areas were crowded, but finding a quite place to sit down or have a nice walk was simply a matter of switching islands. With so many museums, palaces, parks and other attractions, I imagine it would take me a very long time to get bored! And the temperature in summer is perfect for me, with my pale skin and tendency to wilt like a flower as soon as it gets above 28 °C!

So beautiful and peaceful
So beautiful and peaceful

Berlin, Germany

Despite living in Germany since 2006, it was 2013 before I finally made my to the capital! I had been once before with my grandparents, but it was just one brief stop on a tour of Europe and all I remembered seeing was Checkpoint Charlie. This time was different! We walked a lot, visited hundreds of historical sites, including the Stasi prison at Hohenschönhausen, admired the East Side Gallery, ate delicious food (including the obvious Currywurst) and left with the feeling that we hadn’t experienced even a small fraction of what Germany’s capital has to offer. I mean, they have an entire island just for museums… of which we visited precisely one! I definitely need to go back some time and remedy this situation!

Museum island
Museum island

Ireland

Again nominating an entire country rather than a specific place, but with so much on offer how could I possibly narrow it down? I’ve been to Dublin a few times, and while it’s always good I’ve seen most of what I wanted to see there, but there are plenty of places I do want to see again. The time we spent in Galway wasn’t nearly enough and I would love to go back there, but I also want to explore more of the area around Killarney and the Dingle Peninsular, actually make it to the North-East of the country and take a trip or two to the various islands.

How could anyone resist something this green?
How could anyone resist something this green?

And that would be five. What do you think of my choices?
Now I’m supposed to nominate five fellow bloggers to take up the challenge. I pick Charlotte Steggz, Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons, Alex at Speaking Denglisch, Simone aka Lady of the Cakes and Elaine from I Used to Be Indecisive.

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Look Up, Look Down: Edinburgh

I wasn’t sure what to post for this week’s Look Up, Look Down, so I started randomly going through the photos on my computer and came across this one from January 2011, when Jan an I spent New Year in Edinburgh. It was taken from Holyrood Park, looking down on the city. At the back of the photo you can see Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh

Here’s another photo, taken from the same park/hill. This time, you can see Holyrood Palace.

Holyrood Palace

To see other interpretations of the challenge and join in yourself, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post. Coincidentially, she has also used views of Edinburgh this week – I swear I didn’t know that last night when I uploaded the photos ready to write this post today!

Want even more Edinburgh? Take a look at this post that I wrote earlier this year.

Travel theme: Play

As soon as I saw this week’s travel theme on Where’s My Backpack, I knew I wanted to join in. The theme is Play… what could be more fun than that?

The first thing that came to mind when I read the title of the theme was playing games. Then I remembered this photo that I took right here in Karlsruhe a few years ago:

Flying frisbee
Flying frisbee

A few people from the student residence I was living in were throwing a frisbee around and I managed to get a shot of it in mid-air. Not bad, even if I do say so myself 😉

My next photo shows a different type of game… Rugby! Jan wanted to attend a rugby match, so my dad bought us tickets for Newcastle Falcons vs Worcester Warriers on 27 December 2008. The game was fairly disappointing, ending in a draw, but at least he can say he went! If you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice the ball on its way between the posts. A conversion for the Falcons!

Rugby

Of course, games aren’t the only thing that can be played. How about instruments? Here’s KT Tunstall playing in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on 1 January 2011.

KT Tunstall and band
KT Tunstall and band

And finally… humans are not the only creatures who like to play. I took this picture at Karlsruhe zoo last year:

Looks like somebody found himself something to play with...
Looks like somebody found himself something to play with…

Cute, isn’t it?

The weekly travel theme is open to submissions until Thursday. To join in and see how other people have interpreted the theme of “Play”, go to Ailsa’s blog post.

Travel Tuesdays: Edinburgh

Since I have absolutely nothing to talk about today, I’m linking up with Alex from Ifs, Ands and Butts and Helene In Between for Travel Tuesdays. Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite places on Earth: Edinburgh.

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

I first went to Edinburgh as a child, for the sole purpose of going to the zoo (Newcastle doesn’t have one, so we traipsed to Scotland… as you do). I’ve since been there several times and actually managed to look at things other than the animals.

The most recognisable landmark in Edinburgh is, of course, the castle. One thing you really must do in Edinburgh is head up there for a close-up view. It’s pretty impressive (well, it is a castle). As is the view you get of the city from up there.

Castle entrance
Castle entrance
I can see the sea from up here!
I can see the sea from up here!

One of the things that attracts me to Edinburgh is the architecture. I’ve already mentioned the castle, of course (did you know it’s built on an extinct volcano?). Then there’s St. Giles’ Cathedral, with its incredibly intricate entrance archway.

St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral
Entrance to St Giles'
Entrance to St Giles’

But even the ordinary residential buildings appeal to me. I would LOVE to live in a house like the ones below – just imagine how much light those windows must let in!Houses

Then there are all the parks and green spaces. Here’s Princes Street Gardens:

GardensAt the back, you can see Waverley Station – another example of the impressive architecture that Edinburgh has to offer. Other park areas include Calton Hill and Holyrood Park. So much green right in the city!

Apart from the many things that I will never tire of looking at, the main thing that draws me to Edinburgh is its cultural offerings. I have been lucky enough to be there both during the Fringe Festival and at New Year (Hogmanay), and on both occasions there’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly fit it all in! The Edinburgh festival Fringe, which takes place in August, is the world’s largest art festival, and a showcase for the performing arts. Theatre, comedy, dance, music… everything is represented. We were able to take in an improvised comedy show and see some live music by two very good acts (a folk band and a blues/country/folk musician named Eddie Walker – you can check out his website here). The pub where the gig took place is now my absolute favourite place to go for a drink in Edinburgh. The Guildford Arms is located just off Princes Street, so very central but not as touristy as the places directly on Princes street or along the Royal Mile. They have ten different Real Ales on tap (heaven for my boyfriend) and there’s also a restaurant upstairs, which I’ve unfortunately never tried. If anyone out there has/does, please let me know how the food is!

Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms
Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms

Our New Year’s trip to Edinburgh had just as much to offer as the Festival Fringe. We took part in a torch-light procession through town, starting from the Royal Mile, took in a candlelit concert at the Cathedral and spent New Year’s Eve at the famous Hogmanay street party. Then, on 1 January, we attended the open-air New Year’s concert, which that year featured KT Tunstall plus three other acts… for just 11 pounds a ticket! Probably my favourite New Year’s celebration ever!

Torch-light procession
Torch-light procession
KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall

 

Other things to do in Edinburgh include many museums (the Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland, is interesting, as is The Royal Yacht Britannia, now decommissioned and permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith), whisky tasting if you’re into that (The Scotch Whisky Experience is in Edinburgh) or shopping. The main shopping street is Princes Street, where you can find loads of UK high-street shops, such as WH Smith, while the Royal Mile holds the more touristy shops plus any number of bars and restaurants.

Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

So, in summary, Edinburgh is brilliant and you really should go there! Now hop on over to Alex’s blog for more tales of travel!

Travel Tuesdays

Plans and potatoes…

Despite all my promises to get back to regular blogging, once again it’s been over a week since my last post. That pesky little thing called life has reared up its ugly head and got in the way again! So what have I been doing that’s kept me so busy?

~ Learning Spanish! Jan and I started another Spanish course recently (our third), so now that’s where we go on Monday evenings. Each lesson is an hour and a half and let me tell you it’s hard work! Hopefully it will be worth it in the end though!

~ Socialising! Last Saturday a friend of Jan’s who moved to Frankfurt was back in town for the day, so we met up with him and went to Stadtfest. Then in the evning we met up with friends for “Dirty Old Town”, the annual event in which all the pubs in Karlsruhe’s old town have live music all night. And on Wednesday our favourite Irish pub celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary, so of course we had to be there.

~ Cooking Sunday dinner! The meat was fried pork steaks, so it wasn’t a real Sunday roast, but my roast potatoes were absolutely perfect. Crunchy on the outside and lovely and soft in the middle. Luckily I made extra so I get to enjoy them again for lunch tomorrow. Mmmm.

~ Making plans! We’ve decided to go to Edinburgh for new year as we only got such a short time there (one afternoon!) during our trip around Great Britain this summer. And since we’ll be heading to the island anyway, it makes sense to spend Christmas there as well this year. So we’ve been looking at flights, trains and B&Bs and have finally come to a decision. We’ll be staying at my dad’s for 9 whole days! My little brother won’t know what’s hit him – he’s never seen me for that many days in one go!

Return to Oz

I am back. Actually we got back last night but then I discovered my camera’s memory card had broken and destroyed all my pictures so Jan spent most of last night and this morning on the computer trying to rescue them. He saved about half, the rest are gone forever. Most irritating.

Anyway… we had a great time, despite having to rush around like loonies to fit everything in. We arrived on Wednesday morning after spending Tuesday night at Dublin airport. Strangely enough we were tired, so we went to bed for most of Wednesday afternoon. We were forced to get up again fairly early though when my Grandparents came over to see us. Then that night my dad took us out for curry. Thursday was spent in Edinburgh where Jan and I went sightseeing before meeting up with the others again to take my brother to a pub for his first legal drink. Later we went off on our own again and met a girl who I used to be an intern with before catching the train home. And Friday was the busiest day – a trip to Halifax in Morpeth to take out some money which then had to be paid into my other bank so that my uni can steal it for tuition fees (booo!) then we went to my Grandma’s for lunch before my dad drove us back to Bedlington where we popped across to see my friend Shell and her baby boy Dylan. He’s 7 months old now and gorgeous! After playing with the baby for a while and drinking a cup of tea it was time to dash back to my house and beg my dad for a lift down to the doctors. I had an appointment with the doc first then one with the nurse. The first appointment was fine – the doctir was running about 15 minutes late but that’s to be expected at a doctor’s surgery. But then we had to wait… and wait… and wait for me to see the nurse. It turns out the receptionist had only registered me as being there for the doctor’s appointment then when the nurse came out to see if I was there (while I was in with the doc) she was told I must have gone home!! Eventually I did get in to see the nurse though. By the time we finally got back home it was practically time to get ready to go out for my brother’s birthday celebration – a meal at a Mexican restaurant in Newcastle. In case anyone reading this is from the North-East of England and likes Mexican food you should definitely go to Blue Coyote in Newcastle. The food is excellent, massive portions, lots of choice and reasonably priced. Exactly what I like in a restaurant.

So much fun was had by all. It’s just a shame I have to be back at work tomorrow. I’m not ready to stop relaxing yet…

Beelzebub in a bottle

Jan and I went to the Bierbörse again yesterday. We had to. We had to find beer for my dad. He’s a big fan of beer is my dad. Not just any beer though. Oh no, it has to be proper beer. No lager allowed. The kind of beer he has isn’t chock full of chemicals and – shock, horror – can actually go off. Over the last few years his friends and relatives (with the exception of my grandparents) have developed a kind of competition to find new beers for my dad. Everyone wants to be the one that presents him with the most beers he hasn’t already tried. Jan and I have a slight advantage here, being in Germany. Everyone else can only check out their local supermarket and hope my dad hasn’t already discovered the ones they find. The beers we find tend not to be available in England. Big points for us. So yesterday we headed to the Bierbörse and checked out the “113 beers from throughout the world” stand in search of interesting beers. We ended up getting three – one from Brazil, one from Ethiopia (cos it sounds dead cool, even if the beer turns out to be crap) and a French one that I chose purely for the name. It’s called Belzebuth and has a great picture of a demon on it. Beelzebub in a bottle.

Later we went and met some of Jan’s friends at Cafe Max. The group that he hung around with at university are planning a kind of reunion next weekend. Most of them still live here and we see them reasonably often, but some have moved away, so the Karlsruhe dwellers decided a reunion was in order. They are currently trying to plan activities for the weekend, so we met up last night to discuss it. A number of activities had been suggested, including clmbing, bowling, paintball and go karting. Personally I was for paintball (I’ve wanted to do that for sooo long) but I was outvoted. Boring gits! Bowling, they decided, is boring and can be done any time. So it’s been decided that climbing will be the first choice with karting as an indoor alternative for bad weather. Boo, the two things I least wanted to do.

Today we’ve mostly been looking at tourist activities in Scotland. The boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Edinburgh. In October. Are we insane? Yes, it is entirely possible that we are. Oh well, if it rains I suppose we can always just spend all our time in bed 😉