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Testing something…

As the WordPress for iPad app still hates me and my blogs, I am playing around with other possibilities for blogging on the road. I don’t want to schlepp my MacBook all over the place, so it would be nice to have a way to create nice little blog articles on the fly, using only my iPad or even my iPhone.

And as wi-fi isn’t always my best friend either, I would like to find a way to create content on my iPhone or iPad without using WordPress at all until it’s time to upload the finished product.

I have recently renewed my love affair with Notability, and I have been doodling a bit, just testing what’s possible and convenient on my various tech toys. So far I am pretty happy with the results, both for work and for my blogs. If those Notability creations are actually usable on the blog, this combo might be perfect for wi-fi challenged updates including fun pictures and even my, um, unique handwriting 😉

So here goes nothing…

Berlin Impressions (Test)

 

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I Didn’t Fall Off The Face Of The Earth…

It has been way too quiet for way too long here on my blog. Life and my day job have taken over, which happened to be both good and bad. Good for me, bad for my blog.

In the near future, articles about

  • my favorite US National Parks,
  • our 4-week summer road trip across the Southwest,
  • and living out of the newest addition to my vast luggage collection on said road trip

will make an appearance here.

For now, please bear with me while I try to make the WordPress app on my phone play nicely. It has already eaten the first draft of this update, refused to upload a photo, generally tried to drive me insane.

Update from my MacBook, two hours later: I have given up on the iOS app for now; it does play nicely with my ancient wordpress.com blog but totally ignores both of my wordpress.org blogs. It also ate my draft of this post again, so I had to resurrect it from the copy I had paranoidly saved to the notes app. Not a pleasant day blogging so far…

While I go exercising a bit to calm down, please enjoy a nice photo of beautiful Big Sur:

Big Sur

Big Sur Coast on a beautiful summer day

Road Trips and I – An Ongoing Love Affair

My love affair with road trips goes back a long time, all the way back to family vacations 30-odd years ago, when my parents would set the alarm for 3 in the morning, pack the car for the trip up to the coast and stuff bright-eyed and bushy-tailed me in the backseat next to the cooler that held our breakfast and lunch for the road. That routine marked the beginning of adventure for me, way before I was old enough to grasp the concept of vacation.

Fast forward some decades, 3 a.m. me tends to be everything but bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but packing the car and hitting the road still equals adventure. These days, I travel with my husband, we tend to start our vacation with a flight somewhere and a rental instead of our own car, and we rarely start in the middle of the night unless we need to catch a flight, but the feeling hasn’t changed: I love road trips!

Blue sky & dirt road somewhere in Arizona

Blue sky & a desert dirt road somewhere in Arizona – one of my favorite road trip photos ever!

When my husband and I first traveled to the US together about 15 years ago, I was delighted to find out that he loved road tripping just about as much as I do, and from that trip on, most of our vacations turned out to be road trips.

You can be extremely spontaneous with your route

The first years, when online booking and mobile internet access weren’t as readily available as they are today, we booked our flights, a rental car, and accommodation for the very first night. Nothing else.

We packed tons of maps (remember those paper thingies you had in your car before you had sat nav?), and our first way after picking up our rental inevitably led us to a grocery store – water, snacks, maybe a cooler. Definitely wet wipes for sticky fingers after eating aforementioned snacks in the car, in the middle of nowhere, miles from the next bathroom.

Not too much has changed over the years. We still only book our flights, a rental car, and accommodation for the very first night, but instead of spontaneously stopping by a motel on the road, crossing our fingers they have a room available, nowadays we pull out our laptop before hitting the hay and decide where we want to spend the next night.

When we went on our last really long road trip in summer 2012, we decided half-way in, in Savannah, Georgia that it would be nice to travel all the way down to Key West, Florida – and thus our epic East Coast Maine to Key West, FL road trip was born. Sitting on a motel bed. Just like that.

You can change locations on a whim

Hotel bed sucks? Amtrak crossing right outside your window? No worries, just pack up your car in the morning and off you go!

The bane of my husband’s existence, the Amtrak, led to more location changes than I care to remember. Once, we arrived at a hotel in Oakland, CA in the dark and failed to see the Amtrak station a bit further down the road.

We had originally planned to stay for a couple of days, cheaper than accommodation on the other side of the bay in San Francisco, but after a more or less sleepless night for the other half, we changed plans and drove on until we found another place far away from the railroad…

You see amazing things on the road

Driving down seemingly endless highways in the middle of nowhere might sound nightmarish to some people, but to me, it’s actually part of the charm of road trips.

Some of the quirkiest things we’ve ever seen are located somewhere on the side of a road. Some of the funkiest places happened to be chance findings of the “Oh, what’s that?” – “Dunno, let’s stop and find out!” variety.

Planning your vacation in advance might have advantages, but unless you happen to know a lot about the places you are going or happen to enjoy some real in-depth research, I’m convinced you’d miss out on so much!

You can mix and match luxury and budget travel to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content

Some years, we booked a few nights in special places in advance, for example accommodation on the Queen Mary in Long Beach for our wedding night, or a few more luxurious nights in a fancy hotel we had heard about.

One year, we blew our left-over travel budget on two really fancy nights after a four-week road trip – was fun to have valet service after so many roadside motel nights!

Another year, we spontaneously stopped in Marathon, TX because the weather went downhill and we didn’t want to keep on driving in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. Little did we know that the hotel we stopped at was home to a rather famous restaurant, with a rather famous chef – best food we had on that trip!

You can combine travel days and sightseeing days

One of the nicest aspects of road trips definitely is the ability to visit places while moving on to your next destination.

On our way from San Francisco to Las Vegas a couple of years ago, we stopped for the night near Yosemite National Park. The next day, we started early in the morning, entered Yosemite, spent a couple of hours hiking, then left the park at Tioga Pass and found another motel in Bishop, CA for the night. Perfect travel day, in my book!

 

On other travel days we crossed deserts and swamps or passed beautiful coast lines:

Another perfect travel day on a completely different trip happened to be the day we spent on the road from Islay to Dufftown, through the Scottish highlands.

Glencoe, Scotland is beautiful even in awful weather!

Glencoe, Scotland is beautiful even in awful weather!

So, what’s not to like?

If you don’t like spending hours in the car, think twice before going on a road trip.

If you abhor not knowing where you’ll end up for dinner or even for the night, do some serious research and maybe book accommodation in advance (good idea for Scotland, by the way!) to avoid an overdose of spontaneity.

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Delicious (if unhealthy) breakfast on the road

If you hate eating on the way, dislike like snacking and/ or junk food, you might not understand my joy that comes with our usual road trip rituals – that very first trip to a grocery store to stock up on water and snacks, the coffee and Danish for breakfast on the road in the morning, stopping for a meal when we see an inviting place on the road.

What do you think – yay or nay for road trips?

Travel Adventures: Exploring Places 101 & A Giveaway

You don’t have to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks or abseil from the highest mountains to have travel adventures. When you come to a new city, maybe in a country you have never been before, just finding the next grocery store can be an adventure.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is just heading out on foot and exploring the surroundings. When you leave the touristy areas, maybe turn into smaller side streets and don’t just follow the main drag, the adventure starts. Sometimes it’s just a pretty little street, good for a picture or two, sometimes you find hidden gems not covered in any guide books.

 

Bus tours and guided tours tend to focus on attractions the tourist board deems worthy to include, and oftentimes they include as much as possible in a very limited time. Exploring on your own, you can spend as little or as much time as you want, no need to hurry on because your tour group is leaving.

You can just pop into that charming little restaurant you just stumbled upon and sit down for lunch. You can spontaneously visit that interesting museum, take as many photos as you like of that colorful mural you pass, or stop at the corner grocery store to buy a snack.

You all know the famous J.R.R. Tolkien quote, “Not all those who wander are lost,“ but sometimes it just feels safer to actually know where you are, and – even more important – how to get back to your accommodation or your parked car.

Since smartphones have made their appearance, things have become a lot easier. No need for cumbersome maps that identify you as a lost tourist the moment you unfold them, and you don’t even need to be able to actually read a map anymore. Just pull out your phone, open Maps or whatever map app you prefer, and a little dot appears exactly where you are. Easy as pie.

When traveling abroad, smartphones can be the perfect travel tool, but they can also swallow your money like nobody’s business when you have to pay for roaming, especially data roaming.

One app that combines planned walking tours, exploring at your own speed, and finding your way in a new city without the need for paper maps, Wi-Fi or cellular data plans is GPSmyCity’s City Walks App.

GPSmyCity.com has given me the opportunity to give away 20 promo codes for a full-version city walk app to readers of my blog.

The promo codes can be used both for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices and are currently available for over 470 cities all over the world.

How to enter the giveaway:

The giveaway is open to all subscribers of this blog, so if you already are, you’re almost all set. If you aren’t yet, just move over to the right (or to the bottom on mobile devices) and subscribe via e-mail – not going to spam you, promise! Alternatively, you can subscribe through a WordPress account.

The only thing left to do is leave me a comment on this post and tell me which city from this list you would like to explore with GPSmyCity’s City Walk App

20 lucky winners will be selected randomly on May 21, 2016.

If you win, you will receive a promo code for the city you chose in your comment. You will need to redeem your code within 28 days – but don’t worry, once downloaded, the app remains valid forever.

So where would you like to go exploring?
GPSmyCity Giveaway photo

Hidden backyard in Portsoy, Scotland

 

 

My Travel Unicorn: The Perfect Travel Purse

Bags, especially purses and backpacks, are one of my many weaknesses. Over the years, I have built up quite a collection, and with every new bag I buy, I am convinced that’s The One. At least for the moment.

When it comes to traveling, there are some things I really want in a purse
  • Enough room for day trip essentials, like sunnies and water bottle
  • Pockets and compartments to organize all the stuff I deem essential
  • Comfortable to carry around all day long
  • Keeping my valuables safe from sticky fingers
  • Squishable, in case I need to pack it in my carry-on

Another thing that I found to be important over the past couple of years is the ability to carry my purse more or less comfortably in combination with a backpack.

On longer trips that involve flying, I either use a backpack as my carry-on, or I travel with a small rolling carry-on and a daypack as my personal item. Using that latter combo, my purse obviously needs to be packed away either in my carry-on or my personal item, which is why “squishable” is one of the most important qualities in a travel purse for me.

When I carry a backpack as my main luggage, things get a little trickier. Oftentimes, crossbody purses and backpack straps don’t play nicely but attempt to stangle the hapless wearer. But maybe that’s just me…


 

Some options that have worked for me in the past

From my vast collection of purses, three have been as close to perfect for traveling as they get, so they deserve some space on the blog. And, just to get that out of the way, I have paid for each and every one with my own hard-earned money…

Keen

Sadly, I have no idea what this model is called. It doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I found it in the Santa Monica R.E.I. store in 2015, so it’s not really an old model, but it might have been discontinued since.

Pros: Meets all my criteria for a travel purse, even almost comfortable in combination with a backpack.

Cons: Not waterproof. Soft material doesn’t really withstand the wear and tear too well, especially right where the strap is sewn on. After carrying it around Berlin for two days straight, I noticed a tiny hole which continued to expand. Despite my abysmal sewing skills, I managed to patch it up quite well, but it sure put a damper on my excitement – after all, I was so convinced I had finally found my unicorn, my perfect travel purse!


 

Timbuk2

Again, I have no idea what this model is called, and it also doesn’t seem to be available anymore. It’s not one of the classic Timbuk2 messenger bags, but it is built just as sturdily as any of them.

I have had this purse since 2013, and (apart from being my everyday bag for months) it has traveled with me to Edinburgh, where it did nicely in snow and rain – no leakage whatsoever!

Pros: Meets all my criteria for a travel purse. Waterproof. Expandable – which you definitely need if you want to carry around a water bottle and a sunglasses in a case.

Cons: Pretty rigid strap, which makes it not very comfortable in combination with a backpack.


 

sherpani

Finally, there is a bag I can name! It’s sherpani’s Luna bag, but an old incarnation that isn’t available anymore. I picked it up in 2010 or 2011 at R.E.I., and it has served me well since then, both traveling and as my everyday purse at home.

Pros: Squishable. Nice compartments for small stuff, including slots for key cards or metro passes. Zippered main compartment and inner pocket. Comfortable to carry, even in combination with a backpack.

Cons: Too small to carry a water bottle and sunnies in a case. Not waterproof.


 

Alternatives to travel purses

One combination that I tried on my latest trip to England and Scotland was a combination of a Happy Cow Hip Bag and my Cotopaxi Luzon 18 liter daypack.

This combination worked out nicely, with my phone, wallet, keys and other small important stuff tucked away safely in the Happy Cow bag, while my water bottle, rain jacket, snacks, GoPro, sunnies and other odds and ends found more than enough room in the Luzon.

Pros: Definitely enough room to carry around everything I needed and then some, still comfortable. Valuables felt very safe in hip bag, were still easy to reach when needed.

Cons: Two bags. Backpack might not be welcome in museums or stores, though I didn’t have any trouble taking it with me into the Churchill War Rooms, the Tower of London, or even into Harrod’s.


 

Have I found my unicorn?

Nope. Don’t think so. What I have found are options that work nicely, even if there are a few minor faults here and there. Is it even possible to find The One, the perfect travel purse?

So the hunt continues and the collection keeps growing…

 

 

 

 

Road Tripping The Scottish Way: Accommodation

In 2014 we decided to travel through Scotland with my parents for two weeks, which led to a little less spontaneity and a little more planning in advance than we usually do, not wanting to risk a late night search for accommodation or even a night in the car.

On many of our trips to the US, we just booked a room for the first night and then went our merry way, either just stopping at a motel hoping for the best, or maybe booking the next rooms on the go, but according to friends’ experiences, that wouldn’t be as easy in Scotland.

We didn’t want to find out the hard way, so we sat down and planned the entire trip. Which turned out to be a lot of fun, actually.

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First plans for our Scottish Road Trip 2014

The basic outline for our trip looked somewhat like this:

Flight to Edinburgh, next stop Islay, drive up to Inverness, drive back down to Edinburgh.

After some more research and finding nice accommodation online, we settled on more or less this route:

 

Accommodation

Online research provided us with two main insights: First, Scotland is littered with stunning amounts of bed & breakfast, and second, its’s imperative to book in advance. Far in advance, actually, if you want more than just a simple bed.

For our first night in Edinburgh, we chose a nice apartment on Airbnb – our first time using Airbnb, turned out to be a winner! It was located slightly outside of Edinburgh, in Leigh, which also turned out to be an excellent choice, as Edinburgh was humming with the Fringe Festival.

For the next two nights, we booked a beautiful bed & breakfast – literally, as it only has two rooms, and we took both – on Islay. The Old Excise House also turned out to be absolutely perfect, located in walking distance to three distilleries to the one side and the town of Port Ellen to the other.

As we didn’t want to spend the whole day on the road after leaving Islay, we booked another night at a bed & breakfast, The Moorings, in Tarbert, so we could spend a day relaxing after the ferry ride before hopping in the car again for the trip to Loch Lomond.

Our next bed & breakfast, Waters Edge Cottage, was on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond, where we wanted to spend two nights. This b&b also turned out to be a winner, starting with complementary whisky and serving excellent breakfast.

After leaving Loch Lomond, we traveled up to Inverness, and even a bit further, to Dingwall, where we stayed at the Conon Bridge Hotel. This hotel turned out to be old, a little worn around the edges, but with a lovely pub downstairs – great food, cider on tap, and a nice whisky selection.

As we didn’t want to spend our last day in Scotland on the road, worrying about traffic and fearing to miss our flight, we had booked a last night in a hotel in Edinburgh, in the newish Motel One on Princes Street.

Did it work out?

In one word: Absolutely!

We didn’t have much experience with bed & breakfasts and absolutely none with Airbnb before this trip, but this trip made sure we’d become loyal Airbnb users as well as bed & breakfast lovers.

It was somewhat strange to plan a whole trip like this, but on the road, it turned out to be quite nice to be able to just put the next b&b’s address into the sat nav and relax instead of being on the lookout for “rooms available” signs.

 

Why Airbnb Beats Hotel Accommodation Any Day

Granted, I don’t have that much experience with Airbnb yet. We are somewhat restless travelers, often just staying overnight in a chain motel while road tripping, but some travel situations call for longer stays.


 

I first learned about Airbnb through travel blogs I follow, and when we planned a trip through Scotland in 2014, I decided to give it a try. Our trip was supposed to start in Edinburgh, during the Fringe Festival, which meant accommodation was rare and extremely expensive. After browsing the Internet for hours, I finally decided to give Airbnb a try. I created a profile, found us a sweet, reasonably priced apartment in Leith, and haven’t looked back.

Some months later, our next trip took us to sunny Southern California, and we wanted to stay in more or less one area instead of driving from place to place as we had done numerous times before. Airbnb happened to be full of cute apartments and houses, so we narrowed it down to three places we wanted to stay at, I contacted the owners, and some hours later, our accommodation was booked and paid for.

It was a no-brainer to use Airbnb again, when we took the in-laws to England for a week in fall. Instead of spending unnecessary amounts of cash on various hotel rooms, we booked a lovely cottage near London and used it a our home base for day trips to London, Southampton, and Stonehenge.

So, what’s the big deal about Airbnb?

You don’t stay in a hotel.

Duh.

What’s so nice about the fact that Airbnb lists homes, not hotel rooms, is that you actually get to live where locals live, with all the amenities of homes and residential areas.

Also, there’s no housekeeping coming and going as they please, cleaning your room and making the bed. I know it’s their job, but I really don’t like strangers cleaning up all around my stuff, maybe touching things to get them out of their way – whenever I have to stay in a hotel for more than just one night, I make sure I put away at least my pajamas and my toothbrush before leaving for the day…


 

It’s much more interesting than a generic hotel room

In Leith, Scotland for example, we stayed in a beautiful little apartment on the second floor of a Victorian house, overlooking the Firth of Forth. Street parking was available (and free), there were supermarkets nearby, and even a bus stop just outside the house.

In Mission Beach, CA we lived in a cute little apartment just a stone’s throw from the beach, with a tiny kitchen, our own parking space and even a washing machine.

In Venice Beach, CA we had the entire lower half of a duplex, complete with a front porch and garden full of humming birds.

In San Diego, CA we stayed in a quite luxurious pool house (complete with pool and jacuzzi), again with free street parking.

In Woking, England we had a lovely half-timbered cottage with enough room for four adults – two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen, again with a washer/ dryer combo, and the local pub just a couple minutes down the road.


places come with useful travel information

 

As you usually rent space that the owners have lived in themselves (or still live in), you can pick their brains about things to do, places to go and sights to see. All the hosts we have interacted with so far were really nice, and all of them offered tons of advice, some right after booking, some later on.


Things we like to look for

 

As we like our privacy, we only look for listings for entire homes or apartments, but the number of listings explodes if you open the search to private or even shared rooms.

Things we always look for in a listing are a kitchen and a washing machine. Even though we love eating out, it’s nice to have at least a refrigerator for some fresh food, snacks and cold drinks. The washer is pretty self-explanatory, as we usually travel for at least two weeks, sometimes up to five, and we sure don’t want to schlepp around clothes for that amount of time…


I’m by no means an expert on Airbnb, and I’m also not getting paid to write this, but I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out Airbnb as an alternative to hotels and vacation rentals!

 

 

Cities I Love: Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland made my list of all-time favorites in one quick leap when we first visited in 2013.

Our first trip to Edinburgh happened mostly by chance. We wanted to spend a long weekend with my parents, who both had “important” birthdays that year, so we went looking for a destination not too far away, providing interesting sights and – hopefully – good food. After some research and some promising online reviews, we settled on Edinburgh, which turned out to be perfect!

One year later, we started our first Scotland road trip from Edinburgh, and even though we haven’t been to Edinburgh again on our second Scotland road trip in 2015, we definitely will return…

So, what’s to love about Edinburgh?


 

History

Edinburgh is steeped in history, you basically cannot turn around without seeing, touching or entering something historic.

As an avid reader of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga, I was thrilled to walk the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House, seeing the buildings left and right that mostly had been there in the 18th century, when Outlander’s protagonists roamed the city. I even manage to drag my family into The World’s End, a pub featured in Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the Outlander saga.

Exploring all the little and sometimes positively tiny alleyways, or closes, as they are called in Scots, helps if you want to step away from the hordes of tourists that people the Royal Mile most of the time.

A great way to experience parts of Edinburgh’s rather gruesome history are the various walking tours, mostly starting from the Royal Mile. We took one of Mercat Tours’ history walks, as well as a tour of Mary King’s Close, which were both very interesting and a lot of fun – highly recommended!

Of course you cannot miss a visit to Edinburgh Castle, even if you just walk up the hill and take a look over the city without actually entering the castle. If you are interested in castles, just cough up the admission and enter already, it truly is worth the money!


 

Culture

In addition to all the history left and right, Edinburgh also hosts numerous festivals, for example the Fringe Festival, a ginormous art festival taking place basically all over town. It’s fun to visit, a view obviously thousands of people share, which is why it’s almost impossible to find accommodation during the festival, unless you’re prepared to give at least an arm, a leg, and your firstborn for a room…

IMG_3246I’m sure Edinburgh also houses lots of museums and art galleries and such, but the only museum I was really interested in happened to be the National Museum of Scotland – again, highly recommended, I could have moved in there…

 


Food

Maybe food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Scotland, apart from haggis, that is, but as I love eating, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find out that Scotland’s cuisine happens to be right up my alley. Well, apart from haggis, that is. And maybe Cullen skink.

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Cranachan, recreated at home…

My absolute favorites turned out to be basically pub grub (steak and ale pie) and a dessert to die for – cranachan. Cranachan consist mostly of whipped cream (whipped with whisky and honey!) and raspberries, and it’s worth each and every calory it contains!

Just to be able to honestly judge if I like the local specialties, I even tried haggis and Cullen skink, but neither are dishes I’m keen on eating again.


 

Whisky

The first thing that comes to – at least my – mind when hearing “Scotland” is whisky. While we didn’t visit The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile, we visited quite a few whisky merchants as well as The Whiski Bar (nope, not a spelling mistake).

Whisky happens to be the main reason why we need to check a bag on the return flight each and every time we visit Scotland, even if it’s just a weekend trip…


Hiking

Hiking?! Yes, hiking!

A great way to get rid of the calories we stuffed ourselves with turned out to be a leisurly walk brisk hike up Arthur’s Seat. It’s not too far and pretty well-developped, so there’s no need for hiking equipment more specialized than, say, running shoes, but the view is truly amazing.


 

If I had to list my Top 10 favorite cities, Edinburgh would surely be among them!

 

 

Cities I Love: Hannover, Germany

As I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog about cities I love, it only seemed fitting to choose Hannover, Germany to be the first city featured – after all, it is my chosen hometown, and I have lived here basically all of my adult life.


 

Hannover is the state capital of Lower Saxony, has roughly half a million people living in and another half million living around it, and is the seat of Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge and Continental. For those interested in learning more Hannover facts, Wikipedia is a good starting point.

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Gerberstraße in Hannover’s Calenberger Neustadt, which used to be home for more than 10 years

When I moved to Hannover almost 19 years ago, I could have cared less about most of the aforementioned facts.

For me, it was important to a) move to a biggish city, b) to find a university I liked, and c) move somewhere I felt at home. Hannover was a perfect match, and I’m still happy to have my homebase here.

 


 

So, what’s cool about Hannover, you ask?

For outdoor lovers, we have the Eilenriede, with 1,600 acres one of the biggest urban parks in the world, and a little more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. It is also home to Hannover Zoo, one of the nicest zoos I have visited so far – and I have visited quite a few! I might be partial to that particular zoo, though, as I used to work there more than 15 years ago…

Also nice for a summer stroll, run or bike ride are the sides of the Mittelland Canal, which runs through parts of Hannover.

Combining history and outdoor fun, the Herrenhausen Gardens are another highlight for visitors and a Hanoverian favorite for dog walking, running and basically everything you can do in a park.

In the Great Garden, you can visit the Niki de Saint Phalle Grotto, walk the historic paths, and enjoy the yearly fireworks contests.

Niki de Saint Phalle also created the famous Nanas, which are a part of the Skulpturenmeile, an urban exhibition of art along Brühlstraße and Leibnitzufer.

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Dragon Boat Race on the Maschsee

 

Another lovely place to enjoy sunny weather is the Maschsee, an artificial lake next to Hannover’s stadium, formerly (and still to many) known as the Niedersachsenstadion. One pretty spectacular event on the Maschsee are the annual dragon boat races, held at Whitsun.


 

For those interested in technology, Hannover has the CeBit, held each and every year on the Hannover fairground, which in itself is rather spectacular. It has always been on the larger side, but with the EXPO 2000, it grew to be a giant among fairgrounds (according to Wikipedia, it’s the largest in the world).

The Hannover fairground is of course also the home of countless other fairs, both industrial and trade, which often lead to traffic congestions on the Messeschnellweg, the expressway between the inner city and the fairground…


 

Of course, Hannover also has basically all the attractions any bigger city has, like shopping, dining, and numerous museums.

Even though it was pretty thoroughly bombed during World War II, it still has an old town center, which is home to a very nice Christmas Market in December.

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Christmas Market in Hannover’s Old Town Center (hopefully not turned sideways by WordPress’ evil imps…)

Living in Hannover, I mostly forget how many attractions we actually have right here in our front yard, so I don’t have too many photos to share – I guess my next project is snapping a lot more photos of my hometown…

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A: The Liebster Award

Liebster Award Logo

The Liebster Award is basically a set of eleven questions given to upcoming bloggers by fellow bloggers.

Each nominee then comes up with their own eleven questions and nominates some more bloggers, thus helping build an audience.

Thank you,

Arzo from Arzo Travels for nominating me!

 


Here are my answers:

1. What makes you happy?

Sunshine. Weekends. Quality time with the dear husband. Good food. Happy people. Cute, fluffy animals. Travel somewhere I’ve never been before and go exploring. Travel somewhere I have been before and revisit favorite places. A really sweaty workout. Being curled up with a good book. BBQ.

Seriously, there are so many things that make me happy, I don’t know where to start.

Guess I’m a pretty happy person 😊

 

2. Do you have any role model?

Not really.

 

3. What do you love most about blogging?

I have always loved words. Reading, writing, and – most of all – talking. Blogging is a way I can ramble on about whatever topic comes to my mind without making the eyes of everybody unlucky enough to be my chosen audience glaze over…

 

4. What do you like the least about blogging?

Not having enough time to write. I have a mile-long list of topics I’d like to blog about but I’m missing that fancy little Harry Potter time-turner thingie, so it’s doubtful I can ever work my way through it.

 

5. How much does your blog benefit from Social Media?

As I have only just begun to blog for the great wide world out there, I have no idea. I’m pretty optimistic though.

Linking my blog with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ has forced me to learn more about those platforms, and it’s actually already starting to generate some traffic.

Joining a travel blogger Facebook group (Female Travel Bloggers) has most definitely helped.

 

6. What is the most important piece of advice you think we should do as bloggers to keep our followers happy or to gain more followers?

Newbie here, so I don’t have any advice generated from experience. I can only share what keeps me coming back to the blogs I read.

My pet peeve are poorly written texts. If a blog is poorly written, I probably won’t come back.

I’m not talking about formal academic writing, ready to be published in some scientific journal. I’m talking about orthography and punctuation.

Come on, how hard is it to do some proof-reading? A typo here or there, well, that happens. Nobody’s perfect.

But please, I beg you, re-read your text at least once before hitting the “publish” button.

 

7. What is on the top of your bucket list?

I don’t really have a prioritized bucket list, it’s more like a growing list of things I’d like to do, places I want to see. It’s pretty long 😉

One thing I’ll probably be able to cross off in summer is a whale watching tour.

 

8. What was the nicest thing that somebody has ever done for you?

Putting up with me for almost all of my adult life so far – that award goes to my significant other 😘 💕

 

9. What was the nicest thing you have ever done for somebody?

I don’t know. Guess that depends on the perspective. Sometimes things that wouldn’t be deemed too important mean the world to somebody else.

 

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

Actually, that’s way too far in the future… I’m not much of a planner, at least not concerning goals in life.

As a kid, I never really had those “When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut” dreams, I only knew that I never wanted to grow up to be a teacher.

Well, life happened, and I have been a teacher for more than a decade now. I have to confess, I really like my job.

So, let’s say it like this: 10 years from now, I see myself being happy and enjoying whatever I do!

 

11. What is your favourite quote and why?

“When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt!” 

Do I really need to explain why???

 


Here is my new set of questions:

1. When did you decide to start blogging and why?

2. Do you have any favorite places you keep returning to?

3. Have you ever drastically changed a trip, e.g. cancelled your return flight and stayed, booked a  flight leaving the very next day immediately after arrival, drove past your destination because you sudddenly changed your mind, …?

4. Do you usually travel solo or with someone else?

5. Carry-on only or with checked luggage?

6. What is your favorite kind of accommodation – hotel, hostel, bed & breakfast, …?

7. How do you stay fit while traveling?

8. What do you enjoy besides traveling and blogging?

9. What is your favorite book and why?

10. Cats or dogs?

11. Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?


 

Some General rules to follow:
  1. Accept the nomination and answer the questions of the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Think of 11 new questions yourself.
  3. Nominate bloggers you would like to answer your questions.
  4. They write an article about this nomination on their blog and link back to the website of their nominator.
  5. Please remember to tag your nominator again when you share your article on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, so they can read your Liebster Award blog post.

 

I would like to nominate:

 

Do you accept the nominations? 

Looking forward to your answers! 😃