Take 12 Trips: A Roundup

A little over a year ago, I decided to join in with a challenge inviting bloggers to take one trip every month for 12 months. If you’ve been paying close attention to my blog for the past year, you may have noticed that my trip to Weinheim in September was, in fact, my 12th trip! (Don’t worry, I don’t expect anyone to actually have noticed 😉 ). This fact seemed to call for some kind of roundup/recap of my 12 months of trip taking, just to bring things to a nice neat conclusion… or something like that.

October 2013

Triberg waterfallI started the challenge with a day trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald in October 2013. I had actually taken this trip shortly before learning about Take 12 Trips and decided to make it my first one rather than waiting until the following month to get started. In Clare’s original post inviting people to join the challenge, she told us to “Do anything – trip big, or trip tiny”. The point was to go somewhere new, perhaps even somewhere local that you’d been meaning to try out but never had. So a visit to somewhere in the Black Forest, which is basically on my doorstep, seemed like a fitting first trip.

November 2013

November 2013 saw me returning to Feldkirch in Austria for the first time since I lived there in 2005/2006. It was nice to see the place again, and also lovely to pay a visit to some friends from when I lived there and meet their baby son! After Feldkirch, we spent a night in Garmisch-Patenkirchen (famous for skiing!), then on the way back we stopped at Schloss Neuschwanstein (the famous fairy-tale castle in Bavaria) and in Augsburg. Not bad for a single long weekend!

December 2013

Fire show 1I live in Germany, so obviously my December trip had to be to a Christmas market! I chose a local one, the Mediaeval Christmas market in Durlach, which is a district of Karlsruhe. The market includes a fire show (pictured above) and, aside from the usual Glühwein (mulled wine), hot mead is also on offer. At the end of the month, I went home to England for Christmas, but I don’t count that as a real trip 😉

January 2014

Part of my January 2014 trip was actually in December – Jan and I went to Madeira for New Year! I absolutely loved this trip and would go back in a heartbeat – Madeira is beautiful! And it was nice to actually spend New Year somewhere warm for a change.

February 2014

A figure on the gate post
A figure on the gate post

As the end of February approached with no trip planned (and me not wanting my February “trip” to be the week I spent in England by my dying grandpa’s bedside), I spontaneously decided to take a train to Bruchsal. I had been to the castle before, but never into the town and it was about time that was remedied! Sadly, it turned out that Bruchsal as a town isn’t all that interesting. I found a few pretty buildings, but after only 45 minutes I found myself at the castle with nowhere else to go. I also discovered that day that I find day trips by myself pretty boring (although who knows, maybe I would have fared better in a more interesting town?). Oh well, onwards and upwards as they say!

March 2014

Gutenbergplatz

In March 2014, I finally did something I’ve been meaning to for about 4 years – visited the Saturday market on Gutenbergplatz in Karlsruhe. Thanks Take 12 Trips for the inspiration! I also went to Colmar, France in March, although I didn’t write a post about it til April.

April 2014

Amneville zooApril saw Jan, K and I on a day trip to Amnéville Zoo in France. It was the second visit for Jan and I, and it was just as amazing as the first time. The falconry display especially is well worth the three hour drive!

Also in April (although not counted towards the challenge), I went to my first ever bloggers’ meetup when I joined some fellow Germany-based bloggers in Heidelberg.

May 2014

Playmobil paintingIn May, I managed to persuade Jan to come with me to the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer to see an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Playmobil. What can I say… at heart, I’m a 5 year old 😉 The exhibition was overrun with kids, of course, but I enjoyed it anyway. And the rest of the museum was interesting too!

Roughly a week later I was in England for a funeral (not the best trip!) then at the end of the month Jan and I had a mini-break in Konstanz, since it was a long weekend.

June 2014

For our ten-year anniversary(!) I had bought Jan tickets to see Pear Jam in Vienna, so that’s where our June trip took us. Apart from the concert, we visited the National Library, my favourite part being the Globe Museum, I ate Marillenknödel, crossing off another item on my 35 before 35 list, and we visited the UN headquarters then went to the Donauinselfest, a huge free music festival! We also took a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia. My favourite thing there was the blue church, pictured above.

July 2014

Basel RhineIn July, my brother came to stay with us for a week. The trip I officially counted for the challenge was to Basel, but we also visited Strasbourg, the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Phew! I was exhausted by the time he went home!

August 2014

TaiwanI’m sure by now all of you know where I went for my August trip – I’ve bored you with enough posts on it 😉 Yes, it was Taiwan! My first visit to Asia was amazing! We saw so many fantastic sights, ate some great food (and also some truly awful stuff *cough* oyster omelette *cough*). Taiwan is a fascinating and beautiful country and I would recommend anyone to go.

September 2014

WeinheimIt would have been nice to finish the challenge with Taiwan, but alas I still had one more trip to go! Finishing the challenge with another day trip within the local area provided some nice symmetry though. This time we headed in the other direction to Weinheim, which is in the Odenwald rather than the Black Forest. It was a beautiful autumn day and the perfect way to finish my 12 trips!

Earlier in September, I also spent the day in Bad Dürkheim at the Wurstmarkt, the world’s biggest wine festival, making it another multi-trip month.

Altogether, that makes 12 (plus) trips, seven countries (count them!) and a million memories! Thank you Clare for coming up with this challenge!

So, what now?

Just because my 12 trips are over doesn’t mean I’m going to stop travelling any time soon! In October 2014, I was in Bad Bergzabern (post to follow) and then spent Halloween Paris for a Night Vale live show, and I’m hoping that this month and next month will involve one or two Christmas markets. Then there’s the annual New Year’s trip that Jan and I always take (no destination confirmed yet). As for next year, so far only a trip to England in October for the Rugby World Cup is planned, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities to travel before then. There probably won’t be any big trips until the end of the year, but a few day trips will definitely be on the cards! Stay tuned…

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The twelve trips challenge

I first read about this challenge on On The Luce’s blog and immediately knew I wanted to join in. Only recently, I was saying to Jan that my goal for next year is to travel more, because I feel like I’ve hardly done anything this year. And what better way to start than by committing to taking one trip per month for the next 12 months?

Ireland viewed from a plane
Ireland viewed from a plane

The great thing about this challenge is that trip is defined as whatever you believe it to be. Three weeks travelling around China? A day spent hiking in some nearby woods? A visit to a part of your own town that you’ve never been to before? All trips! You can make them as big or as small as you like… personally, I’ll be going for a mixture of the two! I have neither the time nor the money to take a big trip every month…

Hiking in the woods in Baden-Baden? Definitely a trip!
Hiking in the woods in Baden-Baden? Definitely a trip!

The “Take 12 Trips” challenge has already started, so I’m going to make October the first month of mine and make our day out in Triberg trip number one.

Following that, Jan and I have plans to go to Austria and Switzerland at the beginning of November.
And beyond that? I’ll have to start having a think… do I want to count a visit home for Christmas as one of my trips, I wonder? And where will we end up going for our traditional New Year’s holiday? Stay tuned…

Wallfahrtskirche, Triberg
Wallfahrtskirche, Triberg

Who wants to join me in taking 12 trips? The challenge is the brainchild of Clare at Need Another Holiday… click on the name of her blog to find out more.

*Update: Since I am now on Twitter, you can follow my progress with this challenge both here on the blog and on Twitter, where I will be using the hashtag #Take12Trips*

Stockholm

Now that it’s been a month and 2 days since we flew to Stockholm, I think it’s about time I actually got round to posting about it. I know, I know – I’m a terrible blogger. Anyway…

The first, and most important, thing to say about Stockholm is I LOVED IT! I loved the buildings, the food (although I did draw the line at pickled herrings for breakfast… just eeew!), the fact that there was so much water everywhere – which I know is obvious seeing as the city of Stockholm is made up of a group of islands (14 to be precise), but I miss water sooo much living in Karlsruhe. The weather was fabulous too, with temperatures between 20 and 24°C (err, Google says 68 – 75°F) all week at a time when it got up to 40°C (104°F) in Karlsruhe. I would literally have DIED!!!! 24°C is much more my kind of temperature. It only rained twice, and both times it had stopped within a couple of hours and we were able to hide inside until it had passed, so that was okay.

Some highlights of our trip:

We were there with another couple because Jan was taking part in an A Capella festival with someone he’s in a choir with (I spent most of the week hanging round with the other guy’s wife), but on the first day the workshop hadn’t started yet so we were able to spend some time together. We went to Skansen, which is the first open air museum in Sweden and was recommended to me by a Swedish friend. The founder (someone called Artur Hazelius) basically bought loads of different buildings from around Sweden, took them apart and rebuilt them at Skansen, so everything you see there is authentic. There is also a zoo bit, with reindeer, wolves, bears, etc. The place is HUGE!! We had bought some food before heading to Skansen, and the first thing K wanted to do was eat, so we walked for what felt like miles to get to the picnic area (missing out on looking at loads of cool stuff on the way! And I really wanted to go into the acquarium!). While we were walking we noticed that there were loads of squirrels about, and they were all coming really close to people – hoping for food I presume. At the picnic area we saw even more of them, including one that was being given food by a group of teenagers at another table. And that’s how we discovered that squirrels like Nutella! The teenagers had given one a slice of bread spread with it and the squirrel was ignoring the bread and licking off the Nutella. Sooo cute! Here he is, nibbling away at his hazelnut-chocolate spread:

squirrel

He came up to our table as well, hoping for a few crumbs, but K scared him away when he tried to get on the table so I never managed to get a close up picture. He never came back to the picnic area after that either 😦 There were also birds that kept flying up trying to get a few crumbs of food, including the biggest magpies I’ve ever seen! At least they looked just like magpies, only huge. Are there any other black and white birds that look exactly like magpies, only bigger? If there are I don’t know them.

After eating we decided to split up as I wanted to go to the zoo part and K didn’t, so Jan and I managed to get some time on our own. I got to see reindeer and also real Swedish moose – albeit in captivity.

Sweden
Later we met up again and went back into town for food. I ate köttbullar, clearly a must when in Sweden.

The next day the two boys had to register for the festival, so we all went across to the island it was being held on. We walked along the waterfront taking photos of boats, found a citadel and then went for lunch, after which the guys had their first workshop and us two girls went off on our own. We walked around, took photos and had tea in a wonderful little tea salon right next to a German church (those Germans get everywhere! 😉 ).

The Vasa museum was another highlight – very interesting and we had a really cool guide. He told us all about the carvings on the ship – apparantly King Gustav II (the one who had it built) was known as the Lion of the North, which is why the ship had a lion carved on the front. The lion is holding a corn sheaf – called “vase” in Swedish, which is a similar word to Vasa, as in the House of Vasa aka the dynasty that King Gustav was part of, and which the war shop was anmed after. Well I thought it was interesting anyway! Here’s a photo of the ship, or part of it anyway. It’s too big to get the whole thing in one photo.

Vasa
Other things we did included a tour of the royal palace, where we also saw the changing of the guard (pretty impressive), a boat tour called “Stockholm: Under the Bridges”, which I really enjoyed (I love boats!) and also a visit to an amazing foodhall in a place called Söderhallarna, which is a fabulous indoor market thing on Sodermalm (south island).There was all manner of amazing looking food there. I also spotted an English shop on the top floor but K wouldn’t let me have a look in. *Sigh*.

On our final day in Sweden, the music festival had finished, so all four of us went out for the day together. We got up ridiculously early and went to get a ferry to one of the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. The island we went to was called Gällnö and it has something like 40 permanent residents! There is a little shop and café, but when we were there both were closed (although the sign on the shop claimed it was open?!). We went for a walk around the island, saw loads of butterflies that even stayed still for long enough to be photographed and found a little red rowing boat, which we went out in, but other than that we mostly just sat in the sun and enjoyed the peace and quiet. It’s amazing that such a beautiful, remote place is so close to a capital city (which Stockholm is, even though it didn’t feel like one!).

 

Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers
Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers

DSCN1471

So there you have it. I would love to return to Stockholm and see all the things I missed out on – inlcuding Gröna Lund (Sweden’t oldest amusement park) and Junibacken – a museum dedicated to Swedish literature, in particular Astrif Lindgren. Or, as I kept saying every time I spotted the building across the water, “Pippi’s in there!!”.

And that is all from me. If You’ve actually managed to read this far I commend you! Now go visit Stockholm and see for yourself how great it is. There’s no way my words (or terrible photography/random snapshots) could ever do it justice!.

The land of blue and white porcelain

Last week we finally made it to Delft to visit a friend of mine. She’s been living there for 2 and a half years already and is planning on moving back to America (where she’s from) in the summer, so this really was our last possible chance! It was lovely to see her again, and I thoroughly enjoyed our few days there. Delft is a gorgeous town. I do like the Dutch style buildings, and of course there were canals everywhere. All this water brought with it a tonne of wildlife. Ducks, of course, but also coots, swans and even a heron that likes to hang around outside a house down my friend’s street waiting to be fed bits of fish and things. How cool is that? Other people have stray cats popping along to be fed, this house got a heron!

Heron, standing on a car waiting for his dinner

We also went to the Hague – had to be done seeing as it’s so close to Delft. The Escher museum there is fantastic and worth every single cent of the 7 Euro entry fee. For those who don’t know, Escher was a dutch graphic artist who did strange but interesting drawings, using strange perspectives and tesselation, among other things. A famous one is Air and Water, in which fish turn into birds. Fascinating stuff!

Our final trip of the visit was to Leiden, where we ate the most amazing pancakes! Huuuge things they were, with an interesting range of toppings. Jan and I had one with bacon and ginger and one with bacon, cheese and apple, which we ate half of each before swapping. Delicious! Having stuffed ourselves with pancakes, we went to work off all the calories at the windmill museum “De Valk”, meaning The Falcon. The windmill was actually working on the day we went, which my friend said she had never seen before, so that was something new for all of us (she has been in the museum several times – she used to live in Leiden – but in 2 years had never seen the blades actually turning).

De Valk windmill – now a windmill museum

We ended our visit on Friday evening by making sushi with our hosts, which Jan and I had never done before. It came out pretty well and tasted absolutely delicious! A great end to a lovely few days away.

Mozart, mountains and modern art

Salzburg

So, I promised to tell you all about Salzburg. And here I am, getting ready to tell. Where to begin?
This time, our New Year’s holiday was almost a week. We travelled to Salzburg on 26 December and came back on 2 January (I had to be back at work again on the 3rd. Boo hiss!).
I was overjoyed to be back in Austria again. I lived there for about 10 months in 2005/2006 and loved it! (I didn’t actually live in Salzburg, but Austria is Austria, right?). Salzburg is mostly famous for 2 things – The Sound of Music (which we attempted to ignore completely – although I did take a photo of the gazebo from the film for my mum) and Mozart, who was born there. We paid tribute to the latter by visiting the house he lived in as a teenager and going to a concert  featuring mostly pieces by Mozart (plus one by Schuhbert). We’re so very cutural 🙂

Schloss Leopoldskron - we saw this as part of the "In Mozart's Footstep's" tour, but it also features in The Sound of Music film
Schloss Leopoldskron – we saw this as part of the “In Mozart’s Footstep’s” tour, but it also features in The Sound of Music film

It was also nice to be back among mountains. I used to have one outside my bedroom window when I lived in Austria and it was always great opening my curtains to see it. Karlsruhe is possibly the flattest town on the planet (the highest “hill” here is in the zoo… and it’s man-made!) and England isn’t exactly known for its peaks, so  even small mountains are something I don’t see every day. While the weather was behaving, we took the cable car up the Untersberg (just outside Salzburg)  – Jan wanted to walk up but all the paths were closed due to snow so we weren’t allowed – I was devastated, clearly 😉 At the top there was quite a bit of snow, and also a wonderful view.

At midnight on the 31st, we were partway up another mountain – the Kapuzinerberg. That one’s actually in Salzburg and gave us an excellent view of the fireworks while allowing us to avoid the drinken idiots shooting rockets at each other in town.

We also went to the Museum der Moderne – a modern art museum on the Mönchsberg. They currently (January 2012) have an exhibition by Evan Penny, which I thought was neat. Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, but basically he makes sculptures of humans and, in this particular exhibition (Re Figured) they’re all distorted in some way. The results are a little freaky but very, very cool.

Other highlights included the fortress, where there was so much to see that we didn’t even make it all the way round, and the Haus der Natur, a natural history museum with an attached Science Centre where you could literally spend all day! The only reason we left after 3 and a half hours was because Jan wasn’t feeling too good – we hadn’t seen anything like everything! The Science Center part is all hands on and mostly aimed at kids, but adults can have their fun too! If you ever find yourself in Salzburg and the weather isn’t too good definitely check out the Haus der Natur! Naturally we also had to stop at the Cafe in Hotel Sacher for a slice of Sachertorte (a kind of chocolate cake with a layer of jam in the middle), which was okay, but the best hot chocolate of the trip was definitely the one I had in Demel on Mozartplatz. So thick and creamy it was almost more like a dessert than a drink. Mmmm! And the slice of chestnut cake I had there was delicious too!

Fortress

And now I shall leave you with a view of the city taken from a window at the Hohensalzburg fortress. Most of what you can see is the old town, and the river in the background is the Salzach. Still a pretty place, even in the middle of winter. Salzburg, I shall return!

The wanderer returns…

I’m BAAAACK!

We only went on holiday for three weeks, but it seems like way longer than that. Looking at the photos from London, the first stop on our trip, I couldn’t believe they were taken less than a month ago. It could equally well have been a liftetime. But at the same time, the three weeks seem to have flown by. And yes, we enjoyed ourselves. It was great to spend so much time with Jan, with no worries, no responsibilities. No work! We got back late Saturday evening and spent yesterday doing nothing much, just unpacking and washing clothes. And Jan returned the car. Today was back to work, and immediately in at the deep end with three translations due tomorrow and another two for the next day. But everything seemed so much easier today than before my holiday. Getting up wasn’t difficult at all, despite the fact that it was still dark (waaah! When did it start being dark in the mornings? It’s not Autumn  yet…). I guess I really needed this break. I’m going to need a couple of days to get myself sorted out, but after that I shall (hopefully) be bac to blogging in full force. Watch this space…

Blogging fail

I know I promised to blog more after I received my prolific blogger award, and I’ve been meaning to post for nearly two weeks, but as you can tell I’ve failed utterly miserably. I just don’t have time to blog. Between all the overtime I’ve been doing lately (so many big jobs, so little time), the course I’m doing on Saturday mornings (10 finger typing course, bot interesting enough to write about) and all the usual cooking, attempting to spend time with my boyfriend and occasionally actually cleaning the flat, my poor blog just hasn’t had a chance. Sigh.

Soo, I’ve just found out a girl I used to be pretty good friends with, and whose family are friends of my family, is pregnant. Another one to add to the list. Currently I only know three people who are expecting, the fewest it’s been for a while. And another friend got married last week (an ex-boyfriend as it happens), which necessiated the sending of a gift to England. All these babies and weddings are going to bankrupt me! Baby clothes are so cute though, and it’s not like I’m going to be able to buy any for a child of my own for a while… or possibly ever, so there is a silver lining I suppose.

I had a meeting at work today. The bosses are happy with my work, I was expressly thanked for putting in overtime last week and I got a positive response from a customer the other day (usually we only get feedback when someone wants to complain, so it was a nice surprise). So all is good on the unemployment front. And in 23 days I’m off on my holidays. Good times 🙂 The only cloud on the horizon is that Jan is away this weekend with his choir, and I’ve barely seen him all week as it is. It’s only a small cloud though, and we’ll have plenty of time to make up for it once our holidays start. The countdown starts now…