5 Reasons why you should travel more – what are yours?

5 Reasons why you should travel more

In this post, we want to discuss with you the benefits of travelling and we will write about our top 5 reasons why you should travel more.

[…]that travelling increases open-mindedness in terms of trust in people you meet for the first time, people of another religion, and people of another nationality. […]

This citation comes from a recent survey by momondo.net – one of the better known flight search engines. You can find the download link to the full paper / study at the end of this post.

And while the above mentioned things might be one reason the leave your hometown more often we encourage you to read on for another 5 reasons to travel more.

Our reasons to travel

  1. When you’re leaving home it might be for different reasons for each of us. Some just had a breakup, others want to see some different cultures or go on a adventure trip to challenge themselves. That’s totally ok. While you’re abroad on the road you change. You will become more open, trust people more and be more spontaneous. Embrace this change and try to become a better version of yourself.
  2. You will meet tons of new people. Some will just be your travel partner for a day, others might stay forever. And who knows, you might find even the love of your life. 😉
  3. As you’re staying at home things become just a normal and you will start to value the less than you should. Travelling brings back some perspective on life when you travel to less developed countries. You will experience how the people there have and manage to live with they have, which will be less than what you have. And you will experience that they are happy as well. You don’t need that new iPhone* to be happy.
  4. Have you ever thought, that it might be cool to order your food just in the local language? To read the local newspaper. To understand what people talk about? Well – travelling gives you a great opportunity to practice your new learnt words in Spanish and to become better really fast. Or in case you’re more into ordering a “Cerveja” you can learn that very fast too. How about some words in german, as it is a funny language apparently? 😀
  5. Do you ever have the feeling that the time is just passing by? All the days are pretty much the same while doing your 9-5 routine. Can you remember what to did last week or the one before that? Oh don’t look at your calendar to find out! In our experience, you can embrace and experience all the things you encounter during your time abroad and out of your comfort zone more than the ones that pass by while you’re at home.

 5 reasons why you should travel more

What about you?

Those are, at least for us, the top 5 reasons why you should travel more and head off into some yet unknown countries.

 And now it’s time that you tell us more about your travels. Why are you travelling? Or why do you stay at home?  We are eager to hear other reasons as well – let us know in the comments.

*(I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t get an iPhone, i’m just telling you that you could spend our money somewhere else and get a new phone just every 3-4 years 😉 )

You can download the momondo-paper here.

The Ultimate Guide to Carnival in Cologne

The Ultimate Guide to Carnival in Cologne

Living in Cologne for over two years now, and having spoken with several of our local friends, you find here our ultimate guide to Carnival in Cologne.

First, we give a short background, followed up by the 11 most important things to consider for your visit, and end the post with the ultimative party locations.

Note: the long carnival celebration weekend in 2017 starts Thursday, 23.02., and ends on Tuesday, 28.02.2017.

Background

Carnival / Mardi Gras – in Cologne it’s also called “Fastelovend” – is one of the biggest carnival gatherings in the world. It’s an old historic tradition and was meant to celebrate the time before the fasting for Easter. It starts on Thursday and goes on until Tuesday, just before Ash Wednesday, which is 46 days before Easter. Although carnival is celebrated in most German regions, the Cologne carnival is the biggest and most famous of them all. During this long weekend, the whole city turns into one big street carnival. Which means that several roads in the city are closed, and partly also public transportation is down. You will find partys, celebrations, people with colorful costumes and lots of laughter everywhere in the city. Plus a lot of drunk people 😉 Cologne’s carnival turns the whole city into a big festivity. It’s also the only German city where you will usually get off on “Rosenmontag”, Rose Monday. In Cologne, we also call this period the “5th season” of the year.

We will give you some tips at hand so you can plan your trip to Cologne and celebrate like a local.

11 most important things to consider for your visit

1. Get a costume
And by that we don’t mean one of those ordinary costumes everybody is wearing, like a police uniform, a pilot onesie or a cat. Get creative and have fun! There are endless possibilities, the last good ones we have seen were some traditional theatre costumes which looked like right from the medieval times or “bar” costumes for a group, where everyone was a different drink – e.g. Jack Daniels, Hendricks Gin, as well as tonic water 😀

2. Be curious and open minded
The locals are known for being very friendly and outgoing. Likewise you should be easy going and open to meet new people, locals and foreigners that come to Cologne to celebrate as well. Normally it’s pretty easy to meet new people and party with them, at least for the evening.
Anyways, it doesn’t hurt to bring some friends. The more, the merrier – that’s even more true for carnival. Period.

3. Dress properly
During this time of the year, it might be still very cold, and also rainy. Usually, you will spend a long time outside, applauding one of the several parades and wandering around the city.
Also, rather wear an old jacket and bring an old phone: like all mass events, things easily get lost or stolen.

4. Plan ahead of your visit
Carnival is always at a different date – dependent from Easter. Book your accommodation well in advance, as it will get more expensive and sold out rather quickly (similar to Oktoberfest season in Munich).
In case you don’t make it to Cologne during that time, you are lucky: each year on the 11th of November, at 11:11 am, you can celebrate the start of carnival season in Cologne. During that day, the whole city is on its feet as well, celebrating in the many brewery pubs and bars.
Also, from the official start of carnival season on 11.11. onwards, there are a lot of events taking place. Usually, these are called “Sitzungen”. There won’t be any street carnival though. These events are limited to a specific venue each, but still you will get soaked into the carnival vibe for sure.

5. Don’t have specific plans while in Cologne
You will end up somewhere else while you’re wandering through the city and make stops in various bars. Just go where it feels right, it’s not about a specific place to be but more about the vibe. We’ve have included some tips where you could go below just to give you some ideas.

6. Try local drinks and food and experience the kiosk culture
Cologne is famous for its kiosk culture. When walking around Cologne, you never need to worry about finding something to drink or eat: There is a kiosk in each corner, open long hours, selling snacks and chilled drinks.
Not only in kiosks, but in each pub and bar you will find “Kölsch”, the local beer. It comes in very small glasses (at least from a Bavarian – Theresia’s – perspective): 0,2 litre.
Nevertheless, you will probably drink a lot of those during carnival. In particular because celebrations start already around 10-11 am. Therefore, make sure to drink enough water in between the alcoholic drinks, to keep your body hydrated.
Also, a typical sweet pastry to have for carnival is a “Berliner”, stuffed with jam. It has nothing to do with the city of Berlin 😉

7. Carnival music
Be aware: music played at carnival is mostly songs from Cologne, sung in the local dialect. This means as a foreigner, and even as a German from another region, you will hardly understand a word.
You can practice beforehand to sing the songs anyways 😉 Famous carnival bands are Kasalla, Brings, Querbeat, or Cat Ballou.

8. Useful expressions
Kölle: stands for Cologne
Alaaf: The carnival shout in Cologne is “Alaaf” (mostly used in “Kölle alaaf”). Never say “Helau”, as this shout is used in Düsseldorf. Cologne and Düsseldorf have a playful (?) faud with each other…
Zoch: A “Zoch” stands for a carnival parade.
Kölsch: local beer

9. Some traditions
Carnival plays a very big role year in Cologne. It’s very prestigious to be a member of a carnival club. They work year round for carnival, and the biggest festivity is definitely the parade on Monday.
During the parade, sweets (Kamelle) are thrown into the visitor crowd. Also, you might get kisses on the cheek (Bützchen), or a small flower bouquet (Strüßje).

10. “Nubbelverbrennung”
Carnival ends with the “Nubbelverbrennung”, which translates into burning of a straw man. All across the city, these straw men will be burnt in the night from Tuesday to Ash Wednesday. This kind of symbolic burning has historic roots, and is not limited to Cologne. Nowadays, the meaning of the burning is symbolic for the straw man atoning everybody’s wrongs during carnival. This brings us to the next point:

11. Walk of Shame
Although the walk of shame is not limited to carnival or Cologne, it’s particularly funny during these days. We have all been there, right? 😉 Isn’t it adorable seeing the wobbly gait of lions, fairies, or cowboys on their way back home, after a long (party) night? Carnival is the perfect time for people watching, according to several of our local friends. Moreover, all things are possible with carnival. What happens during carnival, stay in carnival 😉

Where to party?

Carnival is all over the city, hence you can find some smaller and bigger celebrations in every quarter, on the streets and from just a small bar to the bigger concert halls and breweries. Make sure you check out more than one spot during you time in Cologne. Depending on the day, there are different things to see.

Main areas where you will find something going on are the following:

The biggest carnival parade in whole Germany is the one on Rose Monday, which attracts over a million visitors. You can find the route here.
We do not recommend to get tickets, as those are quite costly and you will surely find a place to stand and cheer somewhere along the route. In case you don’t want to stand too long, just hop into a bar or cafe, or bring your own folding chair and picnic. You could even integrate a picnic basket into your costume by dressing as Little Red Cap.
Other parades take place throughout the long carnival weekend, like the parades in the different “Veedel” of Cologne (=quarters), or the “Geisterzug” (ghost parade). Latter is, by our knowledge, the only parade happening in the evening (Saturday evening).
Here is a website covering all dates (in German).

“Heumarkt” or “Neumarkt” , the historic city centre and one of the main areas of the street carnival. Head over there and enjoy – there is a lot of celebrations going on with local musicians and other stuff.

“Zülpicher” is one of the areas with younger people, a ton of students and some cheaper bars. We recommend the Flotte, Bei Oma Kleinmann, Stiefel, and in case you get hungry: Habibi (which offers the best falafel in town).

In the quarter Südstadt there are also a lot of small bars and pubs. We like this area as it’s not very touristic. “Friesenplatz” and “Friesenstraße” is definitely a place you shouldn’t miss out neither! You will find a nice mixture of easy going and more fancy bars here, we recommend “Päffgen”, the “Friesen”, “Heising & Adelmann” and “Goldfinger” (although we haven’t been to those places during carnival).

Last year, there was an outdoor rave at the “Aachener Weihner” – we’re still not sure if it will be there this year but in case you’re near that area you can check it out.

We hope you will have a blast while in Cologne! Please get in touch with us in case you would like more recommendations for your holidays in this colorful city.

When you have already participated in carnival in Cologne, we would be happy to hear about your experiences!

The Liebster Blog Award – we got nominated

The Liebster Blog Award

Our friend Rebecca from pineapplesandpumps.com nominated us for the “Liebster Blog Award” and we’re pretty excited about it. A million thanks, Rebecca ❤️

The award’s purpose is to get to know other bloggers on a more personal level. The rules: Answer 11 questions, nominate minimum 7 other bloggers to give answers to 11 different questions which come to your mind. Well – we don’t like playing along the rules all the time and would like to bend them a little bit to suit it more our way of blogging.

But first, we’re happy to answer Rebecca’s questions and let you guys know more about the two of us.

What would you answer to those questions?

Sun or snow, beach or ski?

We really love both summer and winter. Whether it’s skiing (or snowboarding – Dave) or strolling along beautiful beaches and going kitesurfing – we love being outside and getting some fresh air and sun. Our next trip will be to Austrian mountains as we’re going skiing / snowboarding with friends.

How do you define success?

Being happy in everyday life.

Why are you blogging?

In order to create something together. As we both love traveling, sharing our experiences with the world seemed like a good idea.

Moreover, have you ever thought about those millions of pictures people take all around the globe? Only a small part of them is ever shown to anyone – most of them rot away on your hard drives, hidden under 5 layers of folders. We thought it’s better to share our favorite pictures.

How do you deal with envious people?

Hater’s gonna hate.

Ask more questions
Ask more questions

Ask more questions…

What is your daily beauty routine?

[Dave] What is a beauty routine? I’ll probably leave this one to Theresia 😉

[Theresia] Thinking of something that makes me smile, because it’s so much easier to start into a day with a smile in your face … this can be small things like crispy fallen leaves, a loving hug from Dave, or simply being glad for being healthy.

You get 10000$, whats the first thing you’re gonna do?

Go out for dinner to a yummy restaurant! There, we can discuss the dates when to take unpaid leave, in order to visit friends or have a good time anywhere in the big wide world.

Did you ever win anything? If yes, what?

I guess we already won and lost hearts throughout our live 😉 And additionally, Dave is good in succeeding in the board games “Risk” and “Monopoly”, whereas Theresia rather wins with her group in “Werewolf”. Yes we both are board game geeks…

What does “freedom” mean to you?

Freedom – well, you can fill books writing about this topic. The short answer would be: Being free mean we can do what we want when we want it, not having to do anything, let it be for money or anything else. For example, walking along an empty beach, soaking up sunshine and being calmed by steady waves. Without time pressure or any obligations.

Team Manolo oder Team Louboutin?

[Dave] Team Nike. I totally love their sneaker design, they are comfy as hell and I can go for a run, explore old cities, climb Sigiriya Rock or chill out at the beach. I recently bought the Nike Vomero for the third time.

[Theresia] Team stylish and comfy. After wearing high heels so many years, I now go for the comfy, yet trendy option. Mum was right after all 😉

Who would you love to be for one day?

[Dave] I’d love to be a sloth. Or a koala. Or an elephant. If animals are not ok I would be a fairy and make other people happy.

[Theresia] Either an astronaut surrounding the earth (those views !!), or a magician who is getting rid of all that waste destroying our beautiful environment.

What did your family and friends say to your blog?

Dave was teased for his many typos but otherwise they are happy to follow our travel experiences…

That’s it for now. We hope you enjoyed getting to know us a bit better through the Liebster Blog Award.

Our nominees

We would like to pass it on and nominate the following bloggers:

Here are our questions for you:

  • Imagine you are on a lonely island, which three things would be the most important to you?
  • If you had one wish, what would you want for yourself or someone else?
  • Why are you blogging?
  • What do you consider “home”?
  • Have you ever lived abroad and if yes, how did it change you?
  • Could you imagine to give up your everyday life and become a digital nomad, working while travelling and changing your place constantly?
  • Have you had any bad experiences while traveling? If yes, what happened?
  • What are your goals for 2017, personal and regarding your blog?
  • How would you dress for carnival, if you came to celebrate with us in Cologne in February?

Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

In this post you will gain insights about Sri Lanka’s beaches surrounding Trincomalee (or “Trinco” how the locals call it), the biggest city at the East Coast. More particularly, we will share the experiences we made at Nilaveli Beach during our stay in May 2016.

We highly recommend to spend some days in this corner of Sri Lanka. However, please bear in mind the seasons! Best time to visit Sri Lanka’s East Coast is from April/May to September.

Most well-known beaches surrounding Trincomalee are Uppuveli Beach and Nilaveli Beach north of the city. We also read about Marble Beach, a beautiful beach south of the city and managed by the army. As it’s a private beach with a small entrance fee and apparently, this one can be quite populated.

Most locals we met and also other blogs recommended to go to Nilaveli Beach, which is where we ended up.

trincomalee-nilaveli-surrounding-beaches-6

Nilaveli Beach

Why go there?

  • It offers picturesque, sandy, empty and quiet beaches with calm, turquoise water.
  • It’s not yet full of tourists and gives you an authentic, unspoiled insight into Sri Lanka.
  • You will find time to relax and simply enjoy the sunny weather and read a book.

But don’t expect multiple sports activities, animation, or European food. Also, there are no shops in walking distance as far as we know. In Uppuveli, there are already more hotels and aIso more restaurants.

The whole area was heavily affected by the civil war, but tourism is growing quickly and there is a lot of construction going on (which doesn’t negatively impact your stay though).

It definitely still is a (little touristy) hideaway! We recommend to stay for a couple of days in case you are traveling through Sri Lanka, because it’s an amazing place. But after some days, it’s good to continue traveling as you might get too bored otherwise.

trincomalee-nilaveli-surrounding-beaches-4

What to do?

  • Sleep, relax, stroll around the beach or read several books.
  • Watch the sun rise over the sea.
  • Make a day trip to Trincomalee, in order to go grocery shopping or to visit the beautiful  Koneswaram Temple on top of the city (scroll down for details).
  • Go snorkeling at Pigeon Island.
  • Get up early in the morning to go whale / dolphin watching.
  • Apparently, it’s also possible to go windsurfing.

Our experiences in Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

Perfect summer weather awaited us in Trincomalee (despite heavy rain in Colombo and Kandy area). When you want to stay at the beach, we recommend to directly get out of the city and go to Uppuveli or Nilaveli Beach. The tuk-tuk is approx. 700 to 900 rupees from Trinco to Nilaveli and takes up to 30 minutes.

We stayed two nights at Nagenahira Beach Villas at Nilaveli Beach. We recommend this boutique hotel: It offers a tasteful interior with a very comfortable bed. The bathroom is adventurous with its outdoor shower. Occasionally, we found a cute frog or a less cute spider. The hotel staff took good care of it and eventually caught the animals and maneuvered them outside of our bungalow.

Sri Lankan breakfast and dinner was delicious. It was no issue to get veggie meals.

The beach

The highlight definitely is the beach:

There is a private beach area with sunchairs, with a mesmerizing view over the Indian Ocean, with Pigeon Island in front of you. Moreover, the sea is like a bathtub: calm, shallow, turquoise and relatively clean. It would also be very suitable for kids. Although, we didn’t see any lifeguards. This leads us to the next unbeatable advantage of this beach: You will be amazed how little touristy it is! It’s very empty, only a couple of beach chairs now and then. There are more cows strolling around the beach than tourists 😉 Furthermore, you might even get the chance to witness how the locals fish. They put a big net into the water in the morning, and it seemed like the whole village helped to collect it in the evening.

We enjoyed some calm days in Nilaveli Beach. There would be the option to go snorkeling at Pigeon Island. It’s apparently perfect for snorkeling with its shallow reefs and colorful fish. However, you need to pay quite horrendous prices, in order to go there with a boat and pay the entrance fee to the island. We asked others who said it’s not worth to pay so much money. As we are not too much into snorkeling, we didn’t end up going there.
Other hotel guests went on a boat ride with a local guide, in order to do whale watching. You need to leave early in the morning, and it’s quite costly. Thus, it’s cheaper when you find other tourists to accompany you. Not sure if more than 4-6 people fit on the boat though. We were told that although they didn’t end up seeing whales, at least there were a lot of dolphins.

This was definitely one of the least touristy places we have been to in Sri Lanka, however tourism is increasing, as a lot of construction is going on. But contrary to the area of Kalkudah / Pasikudah, where there are a lot of big luxury hotels, we mostly only saw smaller boutique hotels in Nilaveli Beach.

trincomalee-nilaveli-surrounding-beaches-6

Trincomalee

The city of Trincomalee has some sights to offer. It’s worth to spend half a day there.

Majority of inhabitants are Tamil, therefore the city is also dominated by Hinduism.

In particular because it’s not so touristy yet, we recommend you dress accordingly (long pants/skirt and shoulders). Also when swimming, you will feel more comfortable wearing a shirt.

You will find such a stunning Hindu temple (Koneswaram Temple) on top of the cliffs of Trincomalee. You reach it by a nice walk through the fort (or by tuk tuk, of course). On the way up to the temple there are lots of vendors, in case you get thirsty. There is no entrance fee, but you need to take off your shoes (and can store them for 20 rupees or so).

First of all, the Hindu temple is very beautiful, with all its colors and the big, blue Shiva statue sitting enthroned on top of it. Also, we were lucky to observe a ceremony and marvel at the beautifully dressed visitors.

Secondly, the view from the temple area is unbeatable! You will see the ocean, but also the bay of Trinco. Maybe you make it there at sunset, it will be terrific.

It’s a pity though that there is so much litter, for example almost right next to the temple.

Trincomalee is also known for its huge natural harbor, which once was an important port. However, we didn’t do further research on this subject.

While this post became a bit longer, we encourage you to go to Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches.

Have you already been to Trincomalee or any of the surrounding beaches? We are eager to hear about your experiences. Let us know in the comments below!

The Golden Circle – a one day trip from Reykjavík

The Golden Circle – a one day trip from Reykjavík

After 2 days in Reykjavik we started our road trip by driving the so called “Golden Circle” route. It’s a typical thing to do for every tourist in Iceland. Thus, some spots may be crowded, but still it’s worth to visit the attractions along the route. Actually, you can’t really use the word “attraction”, as whole Iceland is one big stunner. We would recommend that you plan one day for the roughly 250km of the Golden Circle route. Therefore, it’s manageable as a one day trip from Reykjavík. You will still have enough time to stop every now and then, to go for short hike or even a dive! Just in case you’re curious about diving in Iceland, check this video. Below we will give an outline of the stops we made, and you will also find an embedded map of the Golden Circle route for your one day trip.

Thingvellir National Park

When you start from Reyjkavik you will first reach the Thingvellir National Park.  Most impressive in this area is the intercontinental gap between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You can also have a view over the Thingvellir lake, or check out the space where the old parliament was founded and took place for centuries. Close by the old parliament, in the north side of the lake, the ‘Silfra fissure’ is located. It’s possible to go for a dive or to snorkel in this crystal clear water in between the two tectonic plates (see link to video above). Unfortunately, we are both neither scuba divers, nor very big fans of snorkeling. The parliament is surely interesting when you love history. However, it was so crowded that we wouldn’t stop there again. Instead, we opted for the less crowded, Northern part – left of the main road. There, you can also go for a memorable walk between the two tectonic plates.

Strokkur Geysir and surroundings

While you can stop basically everywhere and admire the incredible nature, the next must see are the hot geysers roughly one hour drive away.

When you arrive at the geysir area you can park on the big parking lot next to the restaurant. Just walk across the street and you’ll be overwhelmed by the hot and cooking water that reaches the surface. Be warned, it is really hot (around 90-100 degrees celsius) and you can seriously burn yourself. Take some time to walk around and watch the different geysers and wells. We loved the Strokkur Geysir, as it erupts every 5 minutes or so, and the eruption is quite huge (see photo).

If you’re into taking pictures you should probably use burst mode or the slow-motions video of your smartphone because those eruptions happen pretty quickly. It’s a lot of fun to watch those geysers erupt.

The Golden Circle tour continues…

and there are at least two more things to see and do:

First is Gullfoss, one of the most visited waterfalls in the world. Hence it is always crowded and you have to try at least a few times in order to get a decent picture ;). We just stopped by for some pictures and to check it off our list.

The second sight is an old volcano, named Kerið,  which has a beautiful lake inside the volcano funnel.  This one is less known and therefore only a few people will be around. Take some time, walk around and enjoy the view and photo-opportunities.

Afterwards we drove to Selfoss for our Airbnb. We stayed with Helgi in this small town and can totally recommend his place: It’s quiet, there are lots of other travellers, and you can easily park your car. Oh, and he has some beautiful paintings all around the house – if you ask he might tell you some stories about them. You can find it here.

However, in case you opt for the one day trip and need to drive back to Reykjavik, this is pretty easy as well. You will need less than an hour to drive from Selfoss to Reykjavik on the Ring Road.

You can find our route marked on Google maps below. We hope it helps you plan your Golden Circle one day trip.

That was the Golden Circle – a one day trip from Reykjavík.

We hope you liked our short report on this wonderful day trip and we would like to hear from you guys: Have you been to Iceland and have you seen the main sights around the Golden Circle Route? Which were your ‘Icelandic highlights’? If you have not been to Iceland yet, be assured that this journey will be unforgettable:-) In case you only have a long stopover in Iceland, you will love the Golden Circle Route.

Let us know about your experiences and we are also curious to hear about your secret spots.

All the best, Theresia and Dave

Goals – What does the future hold?

Goals – What does the future hold?

This blog post is called “Goals – What does the future hold?” and it is part of the blog parade by Beziehungsinvestoren. They are a German couple who is blogging about financial matters and different personal topics. As 2016 is coming to an end, it is time to reflect and evaluate on the goals we had set for the passing year. Additionally, we try to set achievable goals for the upcoming year.

This post gives a short summary of our thoughts.

We are curious to hear from YOU as well! Do you set personal targets at all? If yes, do you throw these over multiple times throughout the year? Do you maintain a structured list of your targets? Are you satisfied with what you have reached in 2016? Personally, we are very happy with our achievements this year. In particular, because we visited some stunning destinations during our travels, all part of our travel bucket list. What does the future hold for 2017?

The passing year – 2016

So far, we were lucky to enjoy a fabulous year. Theresia moved from Munich to Cologne. Living in the same city now makes our lives a lot easier. And instead of spending a lot of money on a long-distance relationship, we have some extra money for traveling together 🙂 In particular during our journeys abroad, we made amazing experiences this year:

Starting with 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, where we discovered a completely new culture and a lifestyle compared to our everyday life in Europe. During summer, we obviously spent a lot of time in Cologne, working and still trying to capture as much sunshine as possible… and sharing beautiful moments with new and old friends!

Additionally, we visited Munich and its surroundings and made diverse short trips to the Netherlands and Belgium, visiting cities and going kitesurfing.

Both of us had long dreamed about going to Iceland. In September, the time had finally come. We explored parts of this impressive island – read through our experiences made on this page. The Icelandic, vast and empty landscapes remind us so much of the Australian countryside (while just slightly colder 😉

We are most thankful to have had the possibility to do all those journeys. Traveling once again showed us the beauty of this world, and in humans everywhere. Also it is always a very grounding experience.

Which brings us to…

Goals – What does the future hold?

In 2017, we want to continue to travel the world.

Amongst the best parts of traveling is the thrill of anticipation, right? We have already secured vacation days from work, therefore are ready to start planning ahead.

After Iceland we are both longing for warmer shores. Hence we decided to leave Germany in May/June and October/November to explore new places on the globe. We would like to visit countries we haven’t been before. Our bucket list is never-ending though. So we would be glad to receive YOUR recommendations for sunny trips in the above mentioned time periods…

Also, we have planned “mencation” and a girls trip. It is important to both of us to take good care of our long-existing friendships, thus the idea of spending at least one week of vacation with our closest friends.

Additionally, Theresia wants to learn kitesurfing, while David is eager to improve his skills and has scheduled at least one week of kiteboarding.

Goals-What-does-the-future-hold

Our Blog

We have started this blog in May 2016. It was a random idea: We both love traveling and wanted to create something together. This is a great way to recap our journeys and share our experiences and photos made, too. Furthermore, we use blogs to prepare our travels ourselves, therefore it is simply a good way to support other explorers.

However, be aware: It is time-consuming and challenging when you are new to the subject. We had to figure out everything ourselves, and are still learning new things every day, on social media usage, WordPress, layout, photography and storytelling. We are always happy to receive differentiated feedback from YOU! Please don’t hold back 😉

As you can see right here, we have an Instagram account as well, where you will find some of our pictures. Feel free to follow us to stay up to date and get beautiful images right into your feed! We would love to have you in our community, and further engage with you – sharing ideas and recommendations, as well as positive vibes!

To be honest with you: we love sharing our travel experiences, but sometimes we are not sure if this is worth all the time we are spending with it. Actually, we were kind of lazy several months and did not write detailed posts. For 2017, another goal is to figure out how we want to go ahead with our blog. Please let us know your thoughts on this as well. Have you been in a similar situation before?

That brings us to the end of our post “Goals – What does the future hold?” – it ended up being fairly long but we hope you enjoyed it.

In the end, we are eager to hear from YOU as well: Did you struggle with anything particular important to you in 2016? What are your plans for 2017? Do you have your holidays planned already, or can/will you be spontaneous?

10 Tips for a weekend in Copenhagen

10 Tips for a weekend in Copenhagen

In August, Theresia was planning a weekend in Copenhagen with a friend. As neither of us has been there we asked if some other blogger, who lived there, can provide some tips. Kathi from http://www.downtowngirlsdiary.com wrote down some Tips for a weekend in Copenhagen and how to make the most out of it.

The little mermaid (Den lille Havfrue)

Of course she’s a must for every Copenhagen visitor! Unfortunately, what makes the little mermaid so unique is… that’s she’s really little. Anyways, you just go there for a couple of shots and to tell your friends you’ve seen it.

Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Dänemark

Amalienborg Palace

Is there something, the UK and Denmark have in common? Right, the Royals! And a castle in the capital where you can watch the changing of the bearskin wearing guards. With our palaces grouping around an octagonal square, this castle is quite impressive!

Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 København K

Torvehallerne

This is an insider tip for all gourmands out there: Torvehallerne is not simply a food market, it’s the Copenhagen food market. Exotic dishes, ice cream, Danish smørrebrød and the best Cappuccino in town at Coffee Collective – it’s all there, ready for you to enjoy.

Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K, Opening hours: 10.00am to 08.00pm

Danish Royal Library

The library is also called „the black diamond“ because of its modern design. The structural steelwork, built directly at the canal, already looks impressive from afar and even more impressive from the inside: as one of the biggest libraries of the world, the Copenhagen library holds more than 35 million books.

Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1, Copenhagen , Opening hours: 10.00am to 7pm

Amager Strandpark

That’s where the Copenhageners spend their free time going for a run, taking long walks with their dogs or kids or loved ones. Amager Strandpark, located at the shores of the North Sea is more the 60 square meters big and the best thing: you can just go there by subway!

Amager Strand Stien, 2300 København S

Christiania

This is another must when visiting Copenhagen! Free town Christinia is located in Copenhagen’s city center offers tourists something special: the lure of the forbidden! There are dealers, street art and hippies having a joint at 12 o’clock in the morning in some run-down café. The only thing not allowed in Christiania: taking photos.

Entrance: Bådsmandsstræde 43, 1407 København K

The Søerne

These artificially designed lakes in the middle of Copenhagen are the perfect spot to take a break from the hectic city life. The separate Copenhagen city center from the neighbourhoods Nørrebro and Frederiksberg – the hipster quarter and its grown-up, chic sister.

The Rundetårn

From the top of the round tower you have the perfect view over Copenhagen (as long as it’s not raining). 42 meters high, it was built in 1642 when it was used as an observatory. Now there are art exhibitions in the empty halls. And there’s another thing special about the round tower: It has no stairs but a ramp to lead you up.

Købmagergade 52A, 1150 København, Dänemark, Opening hours: 10.00am to 08.00pm

Tivoli

Tivoli is he second eldest and most visited amusement park in the world. But it’s so much more than that. Going there takes you on a world trip to China, India, Russia or Germany.  Beautiful buildings, flowers, lights and a beer garden await the visitors.

Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København, Dänemark

Strøget

Let’s end our trip to Copenhagen with a shopping day at Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in Europe. On a length of 1,1 kilometers you can buy everything your heart desires: From expensive Scandinavian design to hip fast fashion and second hand stuff.

Frederiksberggade, 1459 København K

I am Kathi. I write about my travel stories and adventures on „a downtowngirl’s diary“. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be able to live in Denmark for half a year. Now, I start a new adventure in Cape Town. Just take a look at my blog and read a couple of my stories if you like!

Visiting Paris in summer

Visiting Paris in summer

To be honest: It’s maybe not the best idea to visit Paris during the peak of summer. It’s the same with Southern European cities (like Rome): all locals will have escaped the city heat already. I guess they make a good point: Enjoy beautiful beaches or lakes instead 😉

Nevertheless, I’ve also spent several days in Paris during summer heat. It being my first time in this famous city, I really enjoyed it!

Gladly, I have a couple of friends living there who gave useful recommendations. Also Dave has already been to Paris in summer, and recently wrote about his favourite place: Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. Scrolling down, you’ll find my tips for visiting Paris in summer.

Rodin Museum with its garden

Of course, Paris bursts with museums. However, I recommend in particular the Rodin museum while visiting Paris in summer.

Why?

It’s surrounded by a huge sculpture garden, with trees providing shade from the sun. You can take your time strolling through this garden and discover Rodin’s sculptures which are spread out all over the garden! Also, due to its size of three hectars, it’s usually not that packed with visitors. Except for the famous “Thinker” – all tourists are standing in front of it and admire the statue from each angle 🙂

Beat the heat in one of the huge parks

Paris also offers the possibility to relax in various green areas like the Luxembourg Gardens or the Champ de Mars next to the Eiffel Tower. My recommendation for you is the picturesque and romantic Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Being one of the biggest parks in Paris, it offers vast green space between the trees on the small hills. Additionally, you will find a lake, a waterfall, a grotto and the possibility to enjoy a view over parts of the city (in particular Montmartre). Moreover, you can always have a picnic here as well.

Summer nights at Canal Saint-Martin

Join the hip crowd and have a picnic on a warm summer night at Canal St. Martin!

I was amazed how many people are having a picnic or sharing a bottle of wine along the canal. My friend and me loved the relaxed atmosphere. There are several little shops around, where you can purchase a bottle of wine yourself. They even open the bottle for you. In case you prefer sitting in a proper restaurant, you will find a lot of choices in this area as well.

I’ve embedded the approximate location on Google below.

By the way, another nice spot to have a picnic with a view is Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre during sunset, as David mentioned in his guest post.

Rent a bicycle and explore

The metro is cramped, hot, and everybody is sweating. You could explore Paris by bike instead! This is…

  • … good for tired feet (which we all have after wandering around in a big city like Paris).
  • … a nice work out during your holiday.
  • … obviously great for spotting Paris’s wonders in each little corner (instead of sitting in the metro).

I would recommend using the bikes of Vélib’. Similar to renting bikes from Citibike stations in NYC, you feel like a true local using this type of transport. Additionally, this system offers a lot of flexibility: You can drop off your bike in any of the 1.800 stations across Paris.

Stay cool in the department store

To cool down, you can visit a climatized supermarket or department store 😉  Don’t just visit any store, but the famous Galeries Lafayette. Although being full of tourists, it’s still worth seeing it:

  • The Art Nouveau architecture and decorations are outstanding! In particular the glass dome looks stunning.
  • Noteworthy is the observation deck (terrace) in the top of the building. Admission is free. Enjoy the view of the Opera and surroundings.

Consequently, you don’t need to be a shopping addict to appreciate this unique department store 😉

These were my tips for visiting Paris in summer. Of course, you still want to see the main sights like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and so on. Hopefully my ideas were helpful for you as well 🙂

Let me know your recommendations to bear hot summer days in Paris!

Pidurangala Rock – the alternative to Sigiriya Rock

Pidurangala Rock – the alternative to Sigiriya Rock

While Sigiriya Rock is great and all the people are going there for a reason i outlined in the previous post why i don’t recommend going there. For me, Pidurangala Rock with it’s little temple and cave was the better alternative. It is really close to Sigiriya Rock, just a 20 minute walk from the main site entrance. It is not as famous and well known. As a result, you will be on your own the majority of the time. Since it is way smaller and a little bit off the beaten track i’ve created a small hand drawn “Pidurangala map” for you. It seems like a good idea as the way wasn’t as clear as it could be.

5 Reasons why you should go to Pidurangala Rock

The opening hours

Pidurangala Rock has the same opening hours as Sigiriya Rock from 7am – 5pm. But there are other reasons why you should visit the mostly unknown rock temple.

The climb

You will be on your own. Hence you can have a nice walk and climb without other people getting in your way all the time. You will need decent fitness levels for this tour. For the last part to the way you will need to climb a little bit rocky passage. You will need both of your hands here so it’s a good idea to have a small backpack. Some gaps might be around 1m wide and 1-1,5m high. Maybe you should wear proper shoes instead of flip flops 😉

The way itself

Most of the way is in a forest beneath some trees, therefore providing you with a well needed shade from the sun. While this is not as important during the early morning, you will be thankful later during the day. Furthermore you will see some beautiful flowers and animals. We were happy to see a little snake vanishing in the grass.

The entrance fee

The entrance fee is just 500 lkr (±3 US$) and therefore a total no-brainer. Compared to the 40 US$ for Sigiriya Rock it is really cheap and might come in handy when you’re traveling on a budget. You can leave your backpack at the temple for around 100 lkr tip.

The wildlife

While Sigiriya Rock has it’s famous and feared hornets, the wildlife at Pidurangala Rock is way more diverse.  In addition to the usual dogs and monkeys you might see some other animals as well. On our hike we saw a little snake and some Leguans. Most of them are way to quick for our camera but we managed to capture on shot.

Sigiriya Rock – 5 reasons not to go there

Sigiriya Rock – 5 reasons not to go there

Surely everybody who’s traveling to Sri Lanka has Sigiriya Rock on their bucket list. Hence the Internet is full of stoked reviews and photos, you only have to check Google and you will find like 450k results. And the hype is very understandable: Once you arrive you will have to take a step back to get the dimensions of the “Lion Rock”, as it’s such a big rock coming out of nowhere. It is an impressive view when you arrive on top of the old kingdom fortress. But there are a 5 reasons why you shouldn’t visit the rock fortress, which I explain in the following. I’d recommend a great alternative instead.

Sigiriya Rock Lion Rock
Sigiriya Rock Lion Rock

1. It’s crowded

While you, as an independent traveler, try to arrive early in the morning at Sigiriya Rock you might be surprised. You won’t be alone as several tourist busses are already there as early as 7.00 am, right when the historic site opens. Hence the whole place looks more like the Time Square in New York City than an old rock fortress.

2. Sigiriya Rock entrance fee

While Sri Lanka is still an (relatively) affordable travel destination for most of us, Sigiriya is not. It will cost you roughly 40 US$ entrance fee to stand in a line with other tourists, waiting to be allowed on the steps and make your way up the rock. There are cheaper and better alternatives around.

3. Everybody is doing it

As I mentioned before, everybody who is visiting Sri Lanka is also headed to Sigiriya Rock. It’s mainstream and hence has lost some of it’s former unique charme. Why would you travel independently when you’re just doing the things everybody does? Do something different!

4. It’s hot

The historic site is the most visited attraction in Sri Lanka and has opening hours like a museum. You can visit anytime between 7 am and 5 pm.  While this seems ok, you can hardly find any convenient time as it will be crowded really early on. There is hardly any shelter from the sun. Hence  it will be way too hot to climb 1250 stairs later during the day.

5. You can’t see it

Take a look at the picture – that’s an amazing landscape and the Lion Rock is the main attraction and focus point. When you’re right on top of Sigiriya Rock, you may have a look on some old ruins but you can’t see the rock itself. If you want to take beautiful pictures of Sigiriya Rock there is maybe a better place.

The better alternative – Pidurangala Rock

Of course, Sigiriya Rock itself is surely great to visit, in particular when you also want to have a look at the ancient sights.

However, I strongly recommend to go to Pidurangala Rock close by instead. Read on if you want to know more.