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)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Linh came for a short visit last week and because she has come to Shanghai a few times before, I decided to get out of the city so we could see more of China. We headed out to Anhui Province, home of Huangshan, also known as the Yellow Mountains.

Huangshan, Anhui Province

Huangshan, Anhui Province

I’ve wanted to visit this area since we moved to Shanghai in 2011 but was never able to fit it into our schedule. Anhui Province neighbours Shanghai and so it is very close and yet always felt so out of reach. My friends VB and CA, fellow Shanghai residents, have also always wanted to go to Huangshan and now they are both facing repatriation this year and so I thought ‘why not?’ and invited them to join us on a three day, two night trip to Huangshan.

All together I managed to fill our car with Linh, our Beijing friend CL, VB and CA. We ended up with a group of five ladies plus our lovely and forever patient driver, Kevin. Off we went to Huangshan!

It’s a beautiful area and we went mid-week when crowds were minimal. We stayed at a very affordable and modern guesthouse in Tunxi and spent the first afternoon exploring Hongcun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village has a 900 year old history and is where scenes from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ were filmed. Very lovely.

The next day, after breakfast, we headed to the cable car and went up the mountain. Beautiful scenery, not so beautiful loud groups of people :o( Nevertheless, we enjoyed the trip and spent the day walking the paths leading to the various lookouts. It was amazing to see the porters carrying huge loads of goods on their shoulders and then there were the porters carrying people on sedan chairs! Who does that anymore?! Hard work.

Overall it was well worth the trip out to Anhui Province. The ancient village was lovely, the local people very friendly and the mountain views were wonderful. We were lucky to have such brilliant weather and the area was so green and lush that it was a feast for the eyes! We ate ‘mountains’ of fresh bamboo, a local specialty, which was delicious and here you can find photos from our little trip.

Feeding the Soul

We are in our last few days in Berlin and have started packing for our flight back to Shanghai this weekend. We had such a fabulous time visiting our dear friends in Switzerland. It was an epic road trip to make sure we were able to touch base with friends we haven’t seen in a long while. If we missed you, we do apologise, but it was definitely a squeeze for time. We hope to make it to you when we next have the opportunity!

We could not have asked for nicer weather, Walenstadt.

We could not have asked for nicer weather, Walenstadt.

Christoph and I soaked in the most stunning weather which allowed us to take plenty of walks through the most simply beautiful places. I’m sure almost every Swiss resident is aware of how lucky they are to be so close to such amazing nature. I love the mountains, especially when they are snow-capped. I love the green with the abundance of trees in all shapes and sizes. I love the blue with wispy clouds and then the smattering of stars in the evening sky. All these aspects of nature when living in a big city are the details we forget; that we miss them. And when we do get to see them again, we smile, like the smile we give to a long lost friend ;o) Here’s a small selection of places that made us smile on our trip.

Having a cuppa at one of our favourite spots in Lucerne.

Having a cuppa at one of our favourite spots in Lucerne.

So thank you to RR, HR, PZ, CZ, MS, JB, SS, LZ, MM, IR, MF, JF, GM, LA, OM, BT, LK, JK, YS, KB and AK for the best Easter break we’ve had in a long time! ”Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”- Marcel Proust.

Happy Easter Weekend!

Greetings from a beautiful sunny Easter day in Switzerland. We’ve been loving the time we’re having with friends and family and have definitely been indulging in good food, good wine and good conversation in each instance. With such great company each day, how could we not?!

Our neighbour saying hello. 

Our neighbour saying hello. 

We have been and are trying to counter the indulgence by talking regular walks in the fresh air.

Christoph at one of his favourite walking paths near the Zurich airport; a popular plane-spotting location. 

Christoph at one of his favourite walking paths near the Zurich airport; a popular plane-spotting location. 

We’re now half-way through our Swiss road trip with more laughs to come; see you soon!! xx

Old Towns, Castles and Easter Eggs

Sending you our warmest Easter greetings from southern Bavaria! After my short stint in Singapore, I returned to Shanghai and joined Christoph on a business trip to Mainburg, Germany. While he was kept busy with work-related activities, I took the opportunity to visit Munich and Regensburg. Of the two cities, I have to say that I preferred my Regensburg outing. It's a beautiful place with a rich history and due to its exceptional luck of not having been bombed during WWII, the Old Town stands in its original and lively form.

Tegernsee; just beautiful!

Tegernsee; just beautiful!

Once Christoph's work was completed, we jumped into a car and dashed off to explore what we could of the region. From Freising to Salzburg to Tegernsee, we are now in Schwangau for a few days. Christoph has happily started to unwind and relax, and in doing so, is thoroughly enjoying the use of uncensored internet and catching up on Youtube videos :-)

Neuschwansteinschloss

Neuschwansteinschloss

When we arrived in Schwangau, we obviously had to visit the most famous local sight, Neuschwanstein Castle, and it did not disappoint. We will, however, make sure that we also breathe in as much fresh Bavarian air as we can, eat as many chocolate eggs as our bodies allow and enjoy the freedom of an unscheduled few days. Happy Easter!