Travel: Copenhagen, Denmark

Wow, Denmark, just wow! The only other time I’ve felt like this was when we visited Amsterdam in 2013. I guess the cities are similar in that they both are situated on waterways, but the people, the architecture, and just the general feel. I would move there in a heartbeat if it wasn’t on the other side of the world.

Copenhagen Canals

Copenhagen Canals

Disclaimer: most of my time in Copenhagen was spent sick (just a cold), and boy did it beat me around, and therefore I saw a lot of the hotel room, and the view (a construction site) outside of the window.

However the time that I did get up and walk around I just loved. I wouldn’t say Copenhagen is a toursity place, which was great, because I didn’t feel ‘pressured’ into seeing things for the sake of it. We instead, like with many of the incredible places we visited, wandered around, along the river and canals, around back streets, and just marveling at what a naturally beautiful place this is.

Copenhagen Canals

Copenhagen Canals

We did go to a couple of Museums, walked to Church of our Saviour (which we found out when we arrived there, that it is closed in the winter), and as I said before, did a lot of contemplating whilst sitting on the edge of the beautiful river, and admiring this beautiful city for what it is.

Copenhagen Canals

Copenhagen Canals

The food we had in Copenhagen was also incredible, probably the highlight of the trip. We ventured to a quaint French restaurant one evening, where complimentary tasters were continually offered, an American style place, where we had the most incredible cheesecake (and chai green tea – where can I find thee?!), and fantastic coffee wherever we went.

Copenhagen Riverwalk

Copenhagen Riverwalk

I’d love to go back to Copenhagen with a full bill of health, but also in the summertime, because I NEED to go to the old school amusement park. But all in all, for the time we spent there, we loved it.

Copenhagen – city of towers.

Copenhagen – city of cyclists.

Copenhagen – city of beauty.

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Travel: Berlin, Germany

When we first began planning our trip we had this trivial idea to welcome in 2015 in Berlin. Good in theory, not so great in practice! Due to the popularity of the New Year’s event in Berlin, the majority of comfortable transport was booked out, meaning we got to spend a beautiful 6 hours on a bus (first world problems, I know).

When we did arrive in Berlin, we at once were impressed. Was it the constant sound of fire crackers going off, the warmer weather, or the instant cultural feel you get. Maybe all of the above.

For New Year’s we went to the Brandenburg Gate for the big shi-bang. It was like nothing I’ve been to before, with the area packed full of people (oh, the people), markets (think food, drink, crappy knick-knacks etc), an abundance of different music being performed, and incredible fireworks. Oh the fireworks. Suffice to say, I’m incredibly glad I celebrated this way, when usually I’d be tucked up in bed on New Year’s Eve by 9pm (thanks 6 hours of sleep on the bus, right?).

New Year's Fireworks at the Brandenburg Gate

New Year’s Fireworks at the Brandenburg Gate

Whilst in Berlin we did some, but not all, of the touristy things. By this stage in the trip I was just happy to soak in another city’s culture, and wander the streets. So this is what we did a lot of the time, stumbling upon interesting little artistic areas, and cafes.

Berlin Street Art

Berlin Street Art

We did the Berlin Wall walk, which I thoroughly enjoyed (both because of the free-ness, but also the art and inspiration is incredible). We also spent close to a day looking and reading through the Berlin Wall Memorial, which really hit home what people experienced, and were led to believe. Whilst in Berlin we also went on a tour through Berlin’s underground bunkers (absolutely fascinating). All in all, the things we read, and the stories we heard were horrific, however something I’m glad we did because of the importance of World War II in the world’s history.

East Berlin Wall Gallery

East Berlin Wall Gallery

East Berlin Wall Gallery

East Berlin Wall Gallery

The Reichstag Building was a great location to welcome day’s end what with the beautiful sunset. If you can time it right, I would highly recommend doing this, given the height and central location of the structure in relation to the rest of Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin – city of sorrow.

Berlin – city of liberation.

Berlin – city of new beginnings.

Travel: Munich, Germany

The snow followed us from Seefeld, Austria, into Bavaria, Germany. When we finally arrived by train, we headed to a bus station, where we then had to drag our bags through some fantastic, slushy, brown, mucky snow (sarcasm intended). A far from warm welcome, albeit exciting at the time.

Our accommodation was great in Munich. We had an apartment with a small kitchen, and bath tub (so many soaks were had), and was close by to an underground station (although nearly everywhere in Germany is close to an underground station – Australia, why not?!).

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We had a couple of day trips from Munich, heading to Dachau and Neuschwanstein (Disney) Castle. Both days were horrendously cold (think -15 degrees Celsius), and sharp winds. It also snowed the whole time we were in Munich, which resulted in our romantic feels too quickly being quashed.

Dachau was a sobering experience and the weather that we experienced whilst there, really put us in the mood of contemplation, heart break, and sadness. I’m glad I went, however, as this is such an important part of the world’s history, albeit terrible. By the end of the day we were all sorts of drained (physically, emotionally and spiritually), and responded with a quiet night in, including one of the aforementioned bath soaks, to defrost the body, brain and heart.

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp

The following day was a stark contrast, where we went on a tour to Neuschwanstein Castle (and a few of Ludwig’s other masterpieces). The day involved a lot of driving, however it allowed us time to unwind, and pass over planning rights to a third party (a welcome change). Again, it was snowing pretty hard, however all of the Castles and villages that we visited, became even more magical.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Schloss Linderhof

Schloss Linderhof

Whilst in Munich we also frequented the Munich Hofbrauhaus (massive beer hall), and walked through the English Gardens.

Pork knuckle at Munchen Hofbrauhaus

Pork knuckle at Munchen Hofbrauhaus

A must see, which we heard about on our previous day’s tour, was the ‘Standing Wave’, which is part of the Gardens, where like-crazy-minded people surf all year round. This particular day it was about -5 degrees Celsius and there were still three guys, voluntarily jumping into freezing waters.

Surfing in the English Gardens

Surfing in the English Gardens

Munich – the capital of Bavaria.

Munich – city of the arts.

Munich – city of the cold.

Travel: Seefeld, Austria

Seefeld was my happy place during our travels. Sure we saw some amazing things elsewhere, and ate incredible foods, but Seefeld was just easy.

After we arrived back to Australia, Theo and I were discussing our favourite place while away, and we both agreed upon Seefeld. It’s a small town in western Austria, part of the Tirol region, and is exactly how you’d imagine a ski village to be. Beautiful timber, pitched rooves, and smoke billowing out of chimneys. It was purely magical, to be all cliche-like.

Seefeld in Tirol, Austria

Seefeld in Tirol, Austria

We spent a week in the town, staying in a holiday house rental, which was perfect for our large adult group. We mostly had individual bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a huge living area, and it was far enough away that we didn’t receive noise complaints (lots of excited screeches from the females in my family), but close enough to the town centre that we walked most places.

Incredible sunrise, visible from the bed. An incredible way to wake up.

Incredible sunrise, visible from bed. An incredible way to wake up.

Given the amount of time that we were in Seefeld, it allowed us to have a very balanced time, with heaps of activities (skiing, walking, eating, drinking, eating again…) and day trips (we went to Innsbruck) available, but also a nice place to just sit, and be. We were also incredibly lucky to be staying near a forest (think Narnia) which was great for getting some fresh air and stretching those legs after a day of skiing.

Boxing Day snow man building

Boxing Day snow man building

View of Innsbruck from Hafelekarspitze, 2234m.

View of Innsbruck from Hafelekarspitze, 2234m.

Highlight was probably Christmas Day, where we headed to Triendlsage (through the forest and along fresh, crystal clear, streams) for lunch. The atmosphere was some homey, the food was beautiful, and the staff incredibly friendly and accommodating. On the walk back to our temporary home it began to snow, which was so perfect. A family snow fight was had, leaving us all incredibly snowy when we arrived back home.

Triendlsage

Triendlsage

Forest walks, absolute bliss.

Forest walks, absolute bliss.

Oh to be able to go back (maybe we will just do that) and spend another week there. Such fond, beautiful, loving memories of Seefeld.

Seefeld – town of beauty.

Seefeld – town of family love.

Seefeld – town of life long memories.

Travel: Vienna, Austria

From Prague we caught a train to Vienna, where we spent another four days, in a beautiful part of central Europe. We had a great apartment (through airbnb) that was fairly well situated, and close to the centre of the city.

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace

Entering Vienna I knew we were in a special place. The architecture of the buildings was like no other, the culture you felt just walking around, you knew you were somewhere special, and the class of this city had a sense of familiarity surrounding it. It was on the second day that Theo told me that Vienna has been voted World’s Most Livable City for the last couple of  years (similar to Melbourne), and it was no wonder why.

Cafe Central

Cafe Central

Vienna was easy. Easy to get around, easy to find interest in, easy to learn, and easy to relax. I’ve always said that water bodies make for special cities, and Vienna is no exception (having said that, we never saw the ‘actual’ river, only large canals).

Whilst in Vienna we saw some incredible art, particularly at Kunsthaus Wien (Gallery of Modern Art), ate some fantastic food (it’s always about the food with me, particularly at Cafe Central), visited the Castle and Zoo, and also managed to wash some clothes (exciting, right?).

St Stephen's Cathedral

St Stephen’s Cathedral

As with Prague, the aim was to get that balance between indoor and outdoor, with the Zoo really finishing off our time in Vienna in a positive light, what with the great weather (blue skies!) and amazing animals. Again, I need to go back here in the summer or spring to see those incredible gardens.

Central Cemetery

Central Cemetery

Highlights of this beautiful city would’ve been the Christmas markets in the Castle grounds, where people stand, chat, drink and be merry, and the ease of the city of Vienna.

Vienna – the City of Music.

Vienna – the City of Dreams.

Travel: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague was such a beautiful place to begin our White Christmas trip. We arrived in the mid-morning, after some 21 hours of travel (oh the joys of living on the other side of everything!), welcomed by our luggage making its way around the carousel. Is there any better feeling when travelling? I think not.

Prague City

Prague City

Prague for me was all about exploring a beautiful old city, mostly on foot (actually thinking back, all on foot), walking back streets, making our way through the gardens, Castle, many cathedrals, and along the beautiful river. We stayed in one of the older neighbourhoods of Prague, at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Castle, which was perfect for getting to the attractions, great food, and also parklands.

St Nicolas Cathedral

St Nicolas Cathedral

Our first introduction to the many festivities put on at Christmas time in Europe, left us in awe, what with the massive Christmas tree in the Old Town Square, decorations in every window, and the constant smell of mulled wine (hot wine in Prague) and trdelnik.

Epic Christmas Tree

Epic Christmas Tree

We ticked off all of the big ticket items, the Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle (the largest ancient castle in the world), St Wencelas Square, the Cathedrals (St Nicolas, St Vitrus), and Petrin Tower.

Petrin Tower

Petrin Tower

But we also made a point of surrounding ourselves in nature at every opportunity. We chatted to the gent who the accommodation was booked through, and he recommended walking along the river to get some different views of the city, and boy was it worth it. If not just for the less hustle and bustle, but also inhaling that fresh winter’s air, and kicking our way through piles of fall leaves. It was absolutely magical.

View of Prague from Shooter's Island

View of Prague from Shooter’s Island

We spent four days in Prague, which was a good amount of time to acquaint ourselves with this beautiful part of the world. I would love to go back again, particularly in spring or summer, but boy oh boy, this is one city that you need to see.

Prague – the City of 100 Spires.

Prague – the City of Literature.

Prague – the City of Love.

Travel: Europe 2014/15 Recap

For years Mum had pined after a White Christmas. We’d be sitting in the backyard on Christmas Day, jumping in and out of the pool, washing off the mango juice that had run down our arms, and smooshed across our faces, and dream of the other side of the world.

I don’t know when the dream eventuated into something real and substantial, but when it did, there was no suppressing the planning, discussions, and the day-dreaming. Accommodation started to be booked. Flights lined up, and all of a sudden we were going to Europe for a White Christmas.

To maintain sanity and ultimate relaxation, Theo and I traveled separately to the rest of the family, meeting them halfway in western Austria.

A quick recap of the trip, and then some dedicated posts later on for each destination. We flew into Prague the week before Christmas. Europe during this season is just a completely different world, what with the jet lag and foreign city business, but the Christmas decorations. They take celebrating and decking the shit out of those halls, to the max. Trees, markets, hot wine, carolers, decorations, lights, everything!

Prague was an incredibly beautiful city to begin in. It was full of culture, history, great food, and a great place to walk around. We also had reasonably good weather which made the world of difference.

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Prague views for days

From Prague we trained to Vienna. Going further south, and closer to the Alps, came with it cooler weather, and the additional clothes layers. We stayed relatively close to the city centre, which made it really easy to walk around well into the evening. The grandness of Vienna, the Castle, zoo (in the Castle grounds), meandering waterways was the perfect setting for more walking.

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Vienna Castle Grounds

By this stage I was itching to see my family, and rather jealous of their adventures, gallivanting through Germany. We arrived in the evening, coincidentally met at the train station, and became acquainted with our new village home for the next week, Seefeld. It was as you would imagine an Austrian skiing village would look, quaint houses with pitching roofs, surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains.

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Seefeld in Tirol, Austria

Our first night in Seefeld was made all the more special as it snowed (a first experience for a few of the holiday participants). We skiied for a few days, visited neighbouring towns, and walked through forests and along streams. A few snow ball fights were also had, including a particularly memorable one after Christmas lunch.

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Theo and I on Christmas Day

It was really, the perfect way to spend Christmas. It will forever be remembered fondly.

From Seefeld we trained (and a bit of bussing) to Munich where it was cold, snowy, and our first introduction to Germany. Our time there was full of touristy things, along with nights in watching True Detective and Sherlock (oh to be old spirited). The positioning of Munich in terms of its proximity to Bavarian sights was incredible. However we will still remember it by surfing in the middle of a park whilst it was snowing (and -5 degrees Celsius mind you), and having to walk to the bus stop, with our luggage in tow, in foot thick snow.

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Town Hall in Munich

On New Year’s Eve we headed to Berlin by bus. I prepared accordingly by sleeping the whole six hour journey, in true Caitlyn style. New Year’s was incredible, and a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. The following days were spent walking the streets of Berlin, and experiencing the liberation of the city, through sculptures, murals, and just the general feel.

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New Year’s at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

To complete our journey we to a bus to Copenhagen, which in itself was an adventure. I came down with a cold while there, however again it was just an easy, beautiful city to be in. I don’t know what it is about water bodies, and the massive boost it provides, but wow! I’d move there in a heart beat.

Canals of Copenhagen

Canals of Copenhagen

We arrived back on Saturday. Washed plenty. Restocked the pantry and fridge. And have gotten back into the routine of normal life all too quick.

This trip was an amazing four weeks, probably the best I have spent overseas. The culture, the food (oh the food), the people we met along the way, the art, and the memorable experiences will forever stay with us. What a blessing!

More to come of each city we stayed in, and the sights we saw…