Köln

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Of course I have been to Cologne a lot of times as we only live about half an hour out of the city. But I mostly just go into the city to go shopping not to see anything specific. The other weekend we had someone visit us though and as he’d never been to Cologne before we did a bit of sightseeing. We were really lucky and had great weather, it was during our one week of spring/summer time we had so far 😉

First we decided to go up one of the towers in the Kölner Dom. There are a lot of stairs going up and it takes 533 steps to the top. This was only the second time in my life that I went up and both times I was exhausted and needed a couple of breaks – I’m not very fit;).

The view from up there was really great and you could see a lot. Although I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the different things that you can see 😉

Once we were back down we walked past the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen, this fountain tells the story of the Heinzelmännchen. These were little gnome like creatures that helped the people of Cologne by doing some of their work over night. However there was a woman, the tailor’s wife who was too curious and wanted to know who did all the work over night. So she threw peas all over the floor and at night when the Heinzelmännchen came they tripped and fell everywhere making a lot of noise. The tailor’s wife came out to see them right away but after this the Heinzelmännchen never helped the people of Cologne again.

We also walked over the Hohenzollernbridge with all the locks on the side. Similar to so many other bridges around the world people in love come here and close the locks on the bridge. Then they throw the key into the Rhine.  By now there are so many locks that in some areas you can’t really see the oldest ones. Every time I walk over the bridge it seems like there are more. However I also have to say that they get more and more ridiculous and there aren’t a lot of locks that actually look nice if you really look closely.

Hamburg

About a week ago I went on a short day trip up north to Hamburg. My sister wanted to visit a friend and as I didn’t have to work that day I decided to tag along. It is a bit of a drive from Cologne, about 4 hours.

We spend most of the time just walking around and luckily it didn’t start raining until the very end. When we got to the Elbe we walked through the old tunnel which I’ve never done before. The old Elbtunnel, also called St. Pauli Elbtunnel was build in 1911 and is now mostly used by pedestrians. Although it is still possible for card to use the tunnel however it is a one way tunnel, so for part of the day you can go from the north to the south side and for the other half of the day it’s the other way around.

On the way into the tunnel and all along the walls there are a lot of cool reliefs. All the ones inside the tunnel feature cool ocean creatures.

Apparently I can’t go anywhere without either finding ocean life or something book related and on this trip I got both. While walking through the Speicherstadt I found the Tolkien themed Sail boats called J.R.R. Tolkien and Lothlorien. Of course I had to take some photos of them 😉

Now just a few more photos from our walk featuring the underside of a train way, the Speicherstadt and the ‘Michel’ (Sankt Michaelis Church), the most known Church in Hamburg.

Look through my Smash Book

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If you live in America and are a crafty person you probably know all about these Smash books. I first discovered them about 2-3 years ago and picked one up when I was in America in 2014. I have always loved scrapbooking but have no time anymore to put together a full photo album for everything I do. Plus these photoalbums take up a lot of room. So over the last two years I have been using my Smashbook to put all my little papery keepsakes that I collect on my adventures. Now it is almost full, there are a couple of pages left but I have an idea what to put on most of them so it will be completely full soon enough. I absolutely love the way it looks.

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I figured I share with you some of my favourite pages while also remembering all the fun times. Most of them are double pages but some are single like the one on the bottom left from the Harry Potter Exhibition and all my visits to the Zoo.

The pages I made while in Namibia are probably my favourites, there are so many bits on there that some have to be folded out or open up. Otherwise these feature trips to London, Dublin and my most recent one to Britain, visits with friends, Christmas and of course some whales 🙂

Formby, Great Britain

While I was in Britain we spend on day driving to Formby on the west coast of Britain, a little bit north of Liverpool. We mostly went to see the Red Squirrels but started our walk on the beach. The beautiful gorgeous North Sea like beach even though technically it is the Irish Sea. It still made me as happy as every time I walk along a North Sea beach with the fantastic dunes and the amazing sea air blown in by the wind. Of course it was really windy as it has to be on a North Sea beach, it was perfect. Along the way we discovered these adorable birds which we later determined to be Sanderlings.

 

As we made our way back across the dunes we slowly got closer and close to vegetation and eventually ended up in a pine tree forest were we did our best to spot some Red Squirrels. Red Squirrels used to be very common in Great Britain, until the introduction of the North American Grey Squirrels. The Grey Squirrels utilize the same food source and as they are bigger they need more. Plus they are more efficient than the Reds so this led to a strong decline in the Red Squirrel populations. Formby and the surrounding area are one of only 17 Red Squirrel strongholds in Great Britain and therefore a very important habitat. After walking around for a little bit we spotted the first squirrels. But the highlight came as we wandered further along and sat down for our lunch in a part that was a bit more quiet. We went on e Sunday so of course there were a lot of people out and about. After only a few minutes we saw the first squirrels and we ended up having some close encounters with the squirrels coming less than a meter towards us. There were at least 5 of them hanging out in that part of the forest. The only problem was that my camera was confused with the lighting and the quick movements, these squirrels just wouldn’t hold still. But I managed to get one really great shot that made the wait and all the failed tries worth it.

Cheshire, Great Britain

After the Lake District I drove to Cheshire to visit a very dear friend. We first met up at Tatton Park in Knutsford (yes that is the name of the town, I didn’t want to believe it either). After getting lost about three times I finally found the spot we wanted to meet at. This started of a long weekend of british wildlife, so great. I really started to appreciate european wildlife again. Tatton Park encompasses about 1000 acres which is roamed freely by herds of deer. You can also visit the old Mansion, but we only walked around for a bit before it got dark. It was beautiful and we saw a lot of deer. Both red dear and fallow dear. Just look at all those antlers, super impressive. I have never seen fallow deer and to show of how much of a geek I am, my first though as we saw the stag was that it looks like Harry Potters Patronus. They have such a light colouration and are really beautiful. At the moment it is rutting season and we actually got to see this one big male with it’s herd of females chasing of another male. It was the first time I heard this bellowing sound they make and it was so impressive. We were really careful when we walked past the herd as they were on both sides of the trail and we didn’t want to spook them. Of course then other people came with a dog, but it was fine. I guess they are used to people around.

On the next day we went one a long walk/hike (I think it was about 7km) in the area around Beeston Castle. Again since November is the beginning of the winter season the castle ruins were closed but we could see them the whole time during the walk. My friend had a walking guide book and we were following this one route, constantly looking out for different markers and points were we had to make a turn. The signs for the paths were pretty well but as we walked along the canal and then crossed several fields we had to look very closely in some spots to get the turns right. We saw quite a few different birds, lot of moorhens along the canal and later on some Pheasants.

Cheshire is a beautiful area that I probably would never have thought to travel to if I had not had someone to visit there. All the little towns and village were so beautiful as well and it really is not far away from Manchester Airport so it is easy to get there.

Lake District, Great Britain

At the beginning of November I left Iceland but decided to make a little to stop in Britain on the way. Mostly to visit a friend but as she was working during the week I went on a little 2-day trip to the Lake District as well. Suffice it to say 2 days is not nearly enough for this beautiful area. But it was a fulfillment of a childhood dream. I’ve wanted to visit the Lake District since I first saw Peter Rabbit on VHS visiting a friend. Her Dad was british so they had all the Beatrix Potter stories on video and even though my English was limited I fell in love with the stories. If you don’t know the stories, look them up they are beautiful children’s stories. At the beginning of each little movie we would see Beatrix Potter in a beautiful landscapes in the Lake Districts where she’s painting, but it starts raining so she walks back to her quaint little cottage. There she starts writing her stories in letters. It’s just beautiful. I believe there were different beginnings for the different stories but the one from Peter Rabbit is the one I remember best as it’s my favourite.

But back to my adventures. I stayed in Ambleside a town at the northern tip of Lake Windemere. It took a little bit to get used to the very windy, narrow streets and when I arrived I had a hard time finding my hostel as it was already dark. The next day made up for it though.

After a walk around Ambleside I made my way to Hill Top Cottage where Beatrix Potter used to live. Sadly because they were already on a Winter Shedule, the Cottage was closed but I could walk around the garden and visit the shop. (I bought quite a few things in the shop). It was as beautiful as I imagined and I just have to visit again in summer so I can actually go in the cottage as well.

Since that didn’t take all day I went on a few walks that start from Ambleside. First I went to Stock Ghyll Force. The path to this waterfall led through a forrest that had gorgeous fall foliage. Afterwards I wanted to do another walk called the Loughridge Tarn but I’m pretty sure I took a wrong turn somewhere as there weren’t a lot of signs and I only had a photo copy map from the hostel. I didn’t mind though because I did end up on top of a hill were I had a beautiful view of Lake Windemere and Ambleside.

On my second day I was not as lucky with the weather, it was quite gray and rainy. Nevertheless I drove to Grasmere I walked around there for a couple of hours. I saw Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived for several years. Now I have to admit that I haven’t read any of his poetry since I don’t usually read poetry. It was still nice to see the area and I also walked around the lake.

After Grasmere I drove to Bowness-on-Windemere but to be honest the weather was still quite rainy and it was so touristy that I did not stay long before driving to Cheshire to meet up with my friend.

Lofthellir Ice Cave, Iceland

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Lofthellir Ice Cave is a 3500 year old lave cave that is located just a bit west of Lake Myvatn here in Northern Iceland. The cave is quite long and there is no natural light coming in once you are in there. Only a few of the chambers are accessible though, but those are absolutely fun. The only way to go and visit the cave is through one of the companies here (Saga Travel). They are the only ones allowed to take people on tours and are also the ones taking care of the cave. It is not possible to visit the cave unless you go on a tour. After trying a few times, we were finally able to join a tour about a week ago. One of my colleagues kept telling us that it was the tour we had to join and he was absolutely right.

The whole year the temperature in the cave stays at about 0°C and there are various Ice sculptures and figures that have formed in there. New ones are still forming and we saw a small one that our guide told us had been forming since he had started doing the tours a few years ago and was still standing. The formations do change over time (of course they do, they are made of ice) and when we went it had just been raining a lot in the days before. That’s why it was actually quite wet in there, but in a few weeks everything should be frozen again.

To get into the cave was a little bit difficult as we had to crawl through a bit of an opening in the rocks. This was only a very short crawl and probably the most difficult part of the tour, even though there were a few other little climbs along the way inside the cave. It was really beautiful to walk through there and at one point we all turned of our headlamps to just listen to the sounds of the cave. It was incredible and felt really peaceful and