Summer Days

Last week we rented a car to visit Christoph’s mum up north of Hamburg. We decided to use the opportunity with the car to do some exploring on the way back to Berlin. We therefore, drove through Lübeck and Schwerin; both wonderful cities.

Lübeck is home to Christoph’s favourite chocolate-covered marzipan and due to it’s location at the mouth of the Trave, has a rich trading history. The old town is UNESCO Heritage listed due to the extensive brick Gothic architecture. When we walked through the old town, you could really see how wealthy that city must have been back in the day. Buildings dating back to nearly 1,000 years are still standing, have been restored and are presently used for businesses and dwellings. One of the oldest buildings in the city is the Holy Spirit Hospital (built in 1286) which is believed to be one of the oldest social institutions in the world. Another highlight was the European Hansemuseum which has been restored and updated. It shows us how important architecture is in helping us keep the stories of times long forgotten alive.

Lübeck is a small city so it didn’t take us long to walk around the historic centre. On our way back to our hotel, we then had the luck of stumbling into a beer festival hosted by one of the local breweries. There were loads of people in attendance, food and drink stalls galore and best of all, a band playing on a floating pontoon. The artist playing was Florian Künstler and he was really good! It was such an unexpectedly nice way spend the evening; sitting by a river, drinking a G&T and enjoying great live music.

Top left and clockwise: Lübeck’s Holstentor Gate (built 1478), Christoph enjoying the music, Schwerin Palace and getting eggs from the source!

Top left and clockwise: Lübeck’s Holstentor Gate (built 1478), Christoph enjoying the music, Schwerin Palace and getting eggs from the source!

After Lübeck we drove to Schwerin. We had no idea what was there and so Christoph drove in the direction of the city centre and parked the car. There was not much around us and we thought…hmmm…Schwerin doesn’t look like much. So this is when your mobile phone comes in handy. I looked up the city and directed us towards the Schwerin Palace. We parked again and went by foot towards the castle. This turned into a magnificent walk through a picturesque town and around a fabulously restored castle and town centre. Beautiful! The first spot we parked at was only three blocks away from all the beauty the town had to offer! We were so glad we didn’t give up after the first stop. The Palace (also known as the Castle) was first recorded in history in AD 973!!! Amazing!

The afternoon drew close and so we hopped back in the car and hit the road. I had wanted to pick up some fresh eggs for a recipe I have and so was constantly keeping an eye out for chicken farms. We found one and after I collected my eggs from the sales point, I went over to thank the chickens for their hard work. Have you ever seen happier or healthier chickens? These ladies were all clucking away and free-ranging as chickens do. Happy Days :o)

The Maldivean Glow

We had a most luxuriously relaxing time on the Maldives. As usual, we always go away somewhere secluded for Christoph’s birthday and this year the Maldives was the destination. This was my first visit and Christoph’s second but I’m certain this will not be our last visit ;o)

View over some of the islands from the plane.

View over some of the islands from the plane.

Once on the island, there wasn’t much to do other than sleep, eat, drink, swim, read and repeat. I made use of the hotel’s stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling gear. The island we stayed on unfortunately did not have it’s own reef and so we had to take a boat trip to do some serious snorkeling. But it was amazing! Reef sharks, sting rays, the most magnificent array of tropical fish... I was in love :o) Just beautiful.

Happy days :o)

Happy days :o)

Christoph was served chocolate birthday cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We worked out that the hotel must have them in surplus or that it’s a regular occurrence in the Maldives... this birthday thing. Hehehe.

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It now seems weird that we were on a beach just a few days ago. Since we arrived back to Shanghai, Christoph hit the ground running and has flown off for work again. Luckily he was able to unwind and keep the job away while we were on the island but once back in Shanghai, there is no escape! Treasure those carefree sunny days people!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

I have been pre-occupied since late September and have neglected to keep you posted as to our whereabouts. We are currently in Athens on the last day of our Mid-Autumn Festival getaway and have had an amazing trip thus far. Most of our time was spent on Sifnos Island, with us flying into and out of Athens. I promise proper photos will be available in due course.

Sunrise at the Church of the Seven Martyrs, Sifnos Island

Sunrise at the Church of the Seven Martyrs, Sifnos Island

We both send you all our best wishes for the Mid-Autumn Festival to our friends and family in Asia and for those in Europe, we hope you had a fun time celebrating Oktoberfest! Prost!

Bella Milano

I just came back from two days in Milan and what a great first trip it was for 2017! Linh ended up flying to Perth from Milan and so we took the opportunity to spend a couple of days there to explore the city before she left the continent. Even though the weather was freezing, we decided to make the most of our time and spent the first day visitng Milan's many museums and churches.

Visiting one of Milan's most important cultural treasures ;-) 

Visiting one of Milan's most important cultural treasures ;-) 

On the second day, Linh made her way to the airport to catch her flight home and with a few hours spare, I squeezed in another museum and church on my own :-) The city was definitely a feast for the eyes and what a brilliant way it was to soak up some history and beauty.

Singapore Blew Me Away!

I was in Singapore recently and had the chance to visit the Gardens by the Bay before I flew back to Shanghai. I had seen a few artists' renditions of the gardens when it was still in the construction phase but had never visited since its completion. I had somehow forgotten about the project as a lot of attention was directed towards the casino at the time. How foolish of me.

The alien-like Supertrees with the OCBC Walkway and the Marina Sands Hotel in the background. 

The alien-like Supertrees with the OCBC Walkway and the Marina Sands Hotel in the background. 

The entire construction, design and implementation of the gardens was out of this world. Every detail was staggeringly impressive. To enter the gardens is free but the Walkway and Conservatories require the purchase of tickets. It's worth every penny as I was completely gob-smacked with everything I saw.

The waterfalls in the Cloud Conservatory

The waterfalls in the Cloud Conservatory

I've read that these gardens and conservatories are the prototype for what Singapore plans for Terminal 4 at Changi. This can only mean that the new terminal is going to be mind-blowing! Wow. Wow. Wow. I can't even imagine how much more amazing they can make it!

The Everglades

Happy Chinese New Year for yesterday! For those who celebrate it, we hope you had a great start to the Year of the Monkey and may the year bring you the best of health and happiness!

We started the day travelling through the Everglades and happily soaked in the beautiful weather and our wild surroundings at Shark Valley.

The Everglades 

The Everglades 

Christoph with the wildlife

Christoph with the wildlife

Should your next trip take you near the Everglades, please be sure to visit Shark Valley. No, there are no sharks there but plenty of open space, awesome alligators and brilliant feathered wildlife. The National Park created an asphalt route that allows you to cycle or walk in amongst the wildlife. Of course you still have to be careful but it's a 15 mile (24 km) loop and very much like a safari. What a brilliant day!

Yep, living on the edge... Anh the Alligator Hunter... not.

Yep, living on the edge... Anh the Alligator Hunter... not.

The Baltics

Christoph surprised me a couple of weeks ago with a trip to Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). We are now towards the end of our Baltic adventure and while it's raining outside, I have time to write about the trip so far.

We flew into Vilnius, spent two nights and took a bus to Riga. We then had two nights in Riga and took another bus to Tallinn. We arrived in Tallinn late last night and after another two nights here, we will then fly back to Berlin on Saturday. In all three cities, Christoph had arranged that we stayed in the Old Towns so we could explore the area easily by foot.

Top, left to right: Vilnius; Cathedral Square, St. Anne's Cathedral, Bernadina Gardens. Middle, left to right: Riga; St. Peter's Chuurch and House of the Blackheads, the Powder Tower, Art Nouveau buildings. Bottom, left to right: Tallinn; View of the Old Town, celebrating the city's medieval past, the Danish King's Garden.

Top, left to right: Vilnius; Cathedral Square, St. Anne's Cathedral, Bernadina Gardens. Middle, left to right: Riga; St. Peter's Chuurch and House of the Blackheads, the Powder Tower, Art Nouveau buildings. Bottom, left to right: Tallinn; View of the Old Town, celebrating the city's medieval past, the Danish King's Garden.

We loved Vilnius. It's a small city with a quaint and charming Old Town. After a tumultuous past of Soviet- Nazi- Soviet occupation, Lithuania regained it's sovereignty in 1990. We found the people to be very friendly with English being used almost everywhere. The town is very picturesque with just over 50 churches in the vicinity of the Old Town. What we really enjoyed was the laid-back pace of the city and a lovely place called Užopio.

Latvia went through the same occupation period as Lithuania and so is still undergoing restoration and preservation of their buildings and heritage. However, Riga has a different kind of Old Town. The people were very friendly and language wasn't an issue, but the Old Town wasn't really quaint. It was livelier... more like a party place. What was impressive about Riga is a neighbourhood called The Quiet Centre, where wonderful Art Nouveau buildings stand aplenty. I consequently found out that Riga has one of the highest concentrations of Art Nouveau works in Europe which explained how we stayed in an Art Nouveau hotel, Neiburgs, that we could see was lovingly restored and being well looked after. The hotel is a wonderful reminder of the city's rich architectural history.

Happy travellers, Tallinn. 

Happy travellers, Tallinn. 

Finally, we arrived in Tallinn last night and so far we both like it A LOT. The Old Town has a rich medieval history and the surrounding city walls and buildings did amazingly well to survive the heavy bombings during WWII and the many years since the city's foundation; the first fortress was built in 1050! We noticed that Estonians come across more Scandinavian than they do Slavic even though there was a time when over 40% of Tallinn's population were Slavic (due to a migration program in the days of Soviet occupation). Estonia regained their independence in 1991 and through their language and food, proudly showcase their strong Finnish ties.

It's been an amazing trip thus far and right now, I'm finding everything in Tallinn fascinating and am loving the medieval theme; vikings, maidens in towers and drinking wine from goblets! Such fun! Hehehe