Can there ever be enough travel in one year? I didn’t use to think so but travel fatigue is a serious thing (travel burnout even more so). So that’s why I started slowing down in 2016, but still incorporated many trips into my months. If you haven’t seen it yet, start with the first part of my travel year recap before reading part two.
New month, new German state. This time I explored Saxony and its many castles. In fact, I saw seven German castles in three days. If you come to Germany to see Schloss Neuschwanstein, reconsider and visit this part instead. We have a lot of castles in Germany! Also, I tried on Cinderella’s shoe left on the castle stairs. It didn’t fit… Then, I visited a few more in my home state of Thuringia, such as in Eisenach and Dornburg.
Still, I wasn’t happy with just castles, I wanted nature. And this I found in the quaint region of the Ore Mountains. Here, I learned about how to make Christmas incense from coal, I rode an original steam train in driver’s cab and raced down the wet mountain slopes with a monster roller.
A region I had never been to in Germany was the Altes Land, the Old Country. You can find this piece of paradise a stone’s throw away from Hamburg. Most of the architecture is a romantic blend between Northern German reed houses and Dutch brick buildings. It’s utterly charming and we went on a boat cruise, biked the dykes and ate plenty of apples. Did you know it’s Northern Europe’s biggest fruit producer?
For the new experience of bathing in hay, I returned to the Thuringian Forest. Here, I took some time to recharge and enjoy a (digital) detox underneath the old pine trees. I learned about hay making and why the Queen of Morocco loves to have special hay shipped out to her.
In October, I roamed the Kyffhäuser mountains and visited two famous castles. I attended a concert underneath the earth in glistening caves, visited a leaning tower that is even more crooked than the one from Pisa and saw a painting that took three people 12 years to make and that spans 1722 m²!
Never idle, I visited the popular Onion Market in Weimar, where you can buy all kinds of things out of onions. There was onion wine, onion candy, onion garlands and even onion headbands, just to name a few items. But most importantly for my travel recap in October: I published my first travel book! If you love reading about travel with a lot of craziness and funny stories, check it out on Amazon. It’s available in English and German.
For November, I spontaneously decided to revisit England. I can never get enough of Shakespeare and so I stopped by my beloved Stratford-upon-Avon for classic Afternoon Tea and a play at the RSC. The next day, I explored the Cotswolds and could tick them off my bucketlist. I had always wanted to visit since many British films feature its beautiful landscapes.
My main purpose was to be in London for the WTM, which I attended. Further, I saw Bonfire Night fireworks over the Thamse and the lit up Christmas lights of Oxford Street. A break from the wintery feelings I sought on the Canary Islands! TUI invited me to over to travel Gran Canaria and I couldn’t believe the gorgeous weather we had. I was running around in sundresses! The island was as pretty as a picture and I really encourage you to watch the video. It speaks louder than my excited words could.
Back on the cold continent, I hopped over to Salzburg for some real Christmas action. Austrian Christmas markets and I saw this first hand! I even witnessed the infamous Krampus March, devilish-looking creatures that punish naughty children. It’s not Santa who does that in Austria.
Even though the snow was still not making an appearance, I hopped over to East Tyrol. It is a great ski region popular with the locals (and shamefully underestimated with foreigners). But we fell to hiking instead and taking the lift up to the mountain tops. It was a winter wonderland up there and I saw the highest peak of Austria!
Just before Christmas, I returned to Germany as there is no way I would miss German Christmas markets. I visited Jena, Naumburg, Munich, Eisenach, Erfurt and Schmalkalden. For actual Christmas, I jetted over to the Portuguese island of Madeira. It is dedicated in shiny rows of lights all over for the festivity. Sadly, I fell sick and spent most of my time in bed. For New Year’s I was all well again and roamed Lisbon with day trips to Sintra and Cascais. The New Year kicked in in Portugal’s capital and the rest is a new chapter entirely. So stay tuned!!