ENCHANTED // Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Besides being slightly devastated I didn’t get my passport stamped when I got off the bus, I have been completely swept away with Luxembourg. I have to admit, I was slightly apprehensive at first. I had not researched any of these cities I am staying at (I literally just looked at a map!) and every time I mentioned to someone I was travelling to Luxembourg I was usually greeted with a blank response.

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When the bus first entered the city, I was a bit worried. All I could see was sky scrapers and business buildings. But this soon faded away when I made my way to the hostel, which is right by the old part of town.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter checking in I decided to wander around around the city for a couple of hours. Munich and Frankfurt were both dead flat, so the sharp hills of Luxembourg were a bit of a shock to the system!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI really can’t elaborate on much of what is in these pictures, as I honestly don’t know! All the information signs I came across were either in German or French, so I am hoping to go on a tour today.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThese next photos were taken this morning at Fort Bas-Grünewald, the old remains of a fortress atop a hill behind the hostel. I initially went up last night without my camera, thinking it was just a few old walls, but was so intrigued by it that I went back up with camera this morning. It’s a mighty steep hill to get up there, but it is totally worth it.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt was such a beautiful area, with amazing views of the city. It’s quite odd, if you look in one direction you see sky scrapers, in another you see the old city, and then turn again and you see forests. So much diversity in such close proximity.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI was the only person exploring the fort this morning, so I felt quite lucky. Now I’m off to see some more of this spectacular city!

– Reanna.

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ON THE RIVER // Rhine Valley, Germany

Having explored the city of Frankfurt, yesterday I decided to venture out into the countryside. I’d heard good things about the nearby Rhine River, so I booked a bus tour to see what it was all about. Our destination was a section of the Rhine River that is UNESCO listed boasting a ridiculous amount of castles and quaint villages. You know those ads you see on TV for luxury European river cruises? Amazing views of perfect looking rivers? Yeah, they go here.

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Trying to keep cool about seeing a deer. Chris told me he saw a squirrel in Copenhagen the other day, so I’m on the lookout.

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Our first stop was in a small town on the banks of the Rhine. Our bus took us to the top of a hill, where we could chose to go on an optional chair lift ride back down into the village. My over anxious self was a bit apprehensive, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I almost died when I saw how rickety the chair lift looked, but I held myself together and got on anyway. It was absolutely worth it, the views were spectacular.

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The village we alighted in was also picture perfect. Cobblestoned streets, beautiful houses, and it was quiet. It’s nice to get away from the calamity of main tourist attractions sometimes.

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Lunch was at an odd little restaurant overlooking the Rhine. It was furnished with nautical and vineyard themes objects, making it rather overcrowded and dark. A trip to the bathroom also revealed novelty toilet seats (mine had a clock in it) and more decorations. I ordered an ‘ice wine’ with my lunch, a speciality of the region made of frozen grapes. I later regretted in when I received the bill; apparently it is an expensive wine for special occasions!

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After lunch we hopped onto a boat for a cruise down the river itself. Words cannot describe how amazing it was. The weather was perfect, there were beautiful castles everywhere, and I couldn’t decide which little village I wanted to be my future home.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe infamous Loreley rock (I think). Legend has it a siren would stand atop the rock and sing a song, causing boats to crash into low lying rocks on the other side.

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Afterwards we returned to the restaurant where we had lunch for the most disappointing wine tasting of my life (the wine was served in plastic shot glasses with the tour guide providing limited information). Then it was onto a bustling tourist village for a quick explore.

Upon returning to Frankfurt I was tossing up between returning to my hostel or going to check out the opening night of the Museum Festival (Frankfurt has something like 32 museums). However, I opted to chill out at the hostel. Today, I have just arrived in Luxembourg city for a new set of adventures!

– Reanna.

OLD & NEW // Frankfurt, Germany

While nowhere near as grand and beautiful as beloved Munich, Frankfurt still retains a rich history and old architecture. This is in contrast to the new high-rises that loom behind these older buildings. It’s a bizarre, yet interesting sight.

I spent the majority of my day on a walking tour of the city by Frankfurt on Foot. The tour is a bargain at 12 euro (9 if you stay at the right backpackers like I did!) and went for over four hours. However, I strongly regretted my choice of wearing sandals halfway in.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOnly the second largest organ I have ever seen.

This cathedral has been around for hundreds of years, and had endured height changes, bombings, and changes of ownership.

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This street shows an eclectic mix of architecture (including that orange building, that is designed upside down) in light of more traditional building styles of Germany.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere was quite a strong recognition of the travesties suffered by the Jewish population in the city. These plaques are just a few of thousands that appear in not only Frankfurt, but cities all over the country. They bare the name of a Jewish individual who lived there, when they were taken, and when they died.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis plaque in the middle of the Romer (main square) represents the burning of books by the Nazi regime.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis house is very traditional of old Frankfurt, being made half of wood.

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An example of the contrasting architecture in Frankfurt. It was quite strange to see!

We stopped a an indoor market for lunch. The market itself is not much of a tourist attraction, so we were treated to local food served by locals! I had no idea what I was doing, but managed to find a vendor who could interpret the menu to me in English. I ended up with a traditional dish of meatball, potato salad and green sauce (a Frankfurt speciality involving a mix of herbs and sour cream). It didn’t look overly appetising, hence the absence of a photo! It tasted better than it looked.

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Part of the memorial at the Jewish cemetery. The rocks are a Jewish tradition, as they are more permanent than flowers.

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The Frankfurt stock exchange. Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany (or something like that).

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Frankfurt is also highly multicultural, so much so that they sport an Australian cuisine restaurant. What the hell do they serve? Vegemite sandwiches and tim tams? Apparently everyone associates Fosters beer with Australia, even though I don’t know anyone who actually drinks that stuff.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe opera house in Frankfurt.

After the tour I returned to my hostel to remove my shoes and collapse, and took it easy for the rest of the afternoon. I’m not sure if it is the time difference, the noise of the hostel, or both but I am experiencing insomnia something shocking. Not fun when I went to make as much as I can out of my short time in all my stops. I’ll get there! Hope all is well in Aussie land.

– Reanna.

 

PROST! // Munich, Germany

I’ll miss you Munich! Even in my short time in this city I was completely won over by the beauty and character of this place. Either that, or it was just because it was my first taste of Europe!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is a quick snapshot of the quaint little neighbourhood I stayed in with my host from AirBNB. It was the first time I have used the service and it was fantastic! My host was wonderful is providing me with some advice when heading out for my day of exploring.

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After a leisurely start to the morning on Tuesday  I headed back to Marienplatz to scope out a sight seeing tour of some sort. The stars somehow aligned and I rocked up to Mikes Bikes 15 minutes before the start of their classic bike tour. I scored a ticket for the backpackers rate of 19 euros, and it was well worth it! One of our first stops was the Residenz, home to the royalty of Munich.
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Our tour guide was entertaining and informative, taking us for a (very) leisurely ride of Munich’s main sites. Fitness was not an issue for the tour, thanks to the flatness of the city – we went up a grand total of one hill. This is the interior of the Theatine Church.

I was surprised to learn that even though much of Munich looks completely original and old, a large amount of it is actually replica buildings. Many buildings were destroyed during WWII, but due to genius town planning and a desire to keep Munich the way it always was, these buildings were constructed in line with their original glory.

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Well, sometimes they did have to skimp out. Painted castle walls, anyone?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI had almost forgotten about the darker history of Germany. If you look at the bottom of the above picture, you can see the top of a cube behind the hedge. That is the largest war memorial in Munich. War is not something remembered with the same valour at it is back home.

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Our lunch stop was in the beautiful English Gardens at the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) beer garden. The ominous clouds in the sky meant that the beer garden was nowhere near it’s 8,000 people capacity.

My love of vegetables is sure going to take a hit while I’m in Germany! Traditional Bavarian food includes sausages, schnitzel, half chickens and fish on a stick, with sides of pretzels and bread. And of course, beer. But hey, I’m on holidays!

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Canal surfing, just because that’s totally not random.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne of the few symbols of Nazi Germany left in Munich: the eagles atop this government building.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe spectacular Isar river. Two seconds after I took this photo an incredibly tanned old man got in the nude and started washing himself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOur ultra groovy bikes. I am still not used to being on the right side of the road!

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After the tour I made a quick trip out to Schloss Nymphenburg, a spectacular castle. I felt like I was in a fairytale.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen it was back to Munich for a beer and food tour by Radius Tours. Any tour that starts with the guide pulling beers out of his pockets for us to drink on our way to a museum has two thumbs up from me (no open bottle laws here!).

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe began our tours at the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum. Munich has such an insane history of beer, they even worship this beer chest. Did you know monks in Munich began the brewing of beer to feed the homeless?

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter trying a variety of beers we went and had a Bavarian dinner at the Hofbrau brewhouse, then headed off the the infamous Hofbrauhaus itself. And yes, that involved mass (1 litre) beers.

Yesterday was spent running around, getting lost and missing my bus to Frankfurt. I eventually pulled everything together, and I got here!

– Reanna.

 

I’M FINALLY HERE // Munich, Germany

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I am still pinching myself that I am actually here. After months of planning, saving, working and moving I finally stepped off the plane yesterday into this world I have been dreaming of. And yes, the 20+ hours of plane travel was awful!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDespite feeling like I could fall over and nap on the street corner, I decided to explore the city for the few remaining hours of the afternoon. Everything is just as beautiful as I imagined.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe interior of St Michaels church. I’m not one for religion, but the intricacy of such buildings is amazing.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESApparently there is such a thing as a ‘cuckoo clock specialist’. This adorable little shop was filled with them, as well as souvenir steins.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMarienplatz, the main town square. Regardless of a bit of construction work going on it was amazing. The beer I am enjoying below was bought in a courtyard inside this building, and the photos of the city at the end of this post were taken from atop the bell tower (only 1 euro for students to take the elevator to the top. Well worth it!). At five o’clock I obliviously also stumbled across a crowd of people watching the moving figurines in the tower that perform as the clock strikes the hour (in the green area of the bell tower).

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo many people ride their bikes! It’s amazing, I would love to see Melbourne more like this.

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There were fruit vendors every fifty odd metres along the streets, all selling peaches, cherries and nectarines… I think.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I tried to convince myself that I should refrain from taking a photo of everything awesome I saw (so, basically everything) but I couldn’t stop myself from getting a bit snap happy. Especially with these views from the top of the bell tower. I have another 20+ photos from my three hours of wondering the city on my computer! And I deleted half of the ones I took. Let’s see how many I end up with after another full day of exploring today.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It’s so flat! I could see some mountains off in the far distance.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAwkward selfie time (ft. black eyes due to god knows how many hours of being awake)! I tried my best to be discrete, but then I ended up just taking one anyway. Whatever, I’m a tourist!

– Reanna

 

COUNTING DAYS // Mirboo North, Australia

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Exchange is no longer that experience that is eventually going to happen in the distant future, but rather a reality that is slowly taking shape in my life. The weeks have turned to days, and I am finding myself a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving my life behind for six months. Have I packed everything? Have I organised everything?

But for now, I am soaking up these last few days with family, including numerous lunch dates with Mum (“We have to make up for all the lunch dates we won’t have when you are overseas!”).
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Some last minute presents and cooking also helps to pass the time.

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It’s odd to think that this is the last time I will be looking at the unique Australian landscape until next year! I have always been one to take it for granted, but in these last moments I can’t help but see it through a different lens.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlso, how cute is my little sister’s bunny rabbit?

– Reanna.