Where am I?

Villa Vizcaya was built by James Deering in the 1910s and served as a winter home. It was intended to appear as an Italian estate and the expansive gardens combine elements of Renaissance Italian and French designs.

That’s what my guide read. And this is what I found:

More than a villa it reminded me of the old Spanish town houses that almost look like fortresses. I couldn’t take any pictures inside the house, but it was just as impressive as the outside. In my eyes, who have seen more than one European castle, it was like a compressed Europe. All the styles mixed together blended perfectly and created a great place. After touring the house I just sat on a bank in the garden and rested for some time enjoying the park…

And then, it was time to head back to the hotel. The sun was already going down and I still had to pack my bags to fly home the next day.

Downtown Miami

Growing up in a small German town, I’m mainly used to this:

So you can surely imagine what I felt like when we were heading towards this:

I was completely overwhelmed. The size of the  buildings, of everything, it seemed just so huge and made me feel like an ant. But, one gets quickly used to everything and we enjoyed one day strolling through downtown Miami, riding the Metromover, visiting Hard Rock Cafe shopping at Bayside Marketplace. When we took the bus back to our hotel we could barely walk any more…

Don’t miss the next post about my last day in Miami!

Miami Beach

As it’s quite a distance and takes some time to travel from Germany to the US, I decided to stay some days longer and do some sightseeing in Miami after the end of my yoga teachers course. The best idea I could have had!

My hotel was the tiny, lovely hotel/hostel called “Tropics” in Miami Beach, situated perfectly on 1550 Collins Rd, between Lincoln Rd Shopping Mall and Ocean Drive!

It’s was also only a stone’s throw to the beach. I spent some time there watching the kite surfers, listening to the waves and enjoying the sun. One absolute highlight of the stay was doing yoga in the morning while watching the sun rise. After getting up at 5 for two weeks, six o’clock felt like sleeping in 😉

Join me again for my next recap on Miami Downtown and my trip to Coral Gables, the University of Miami and how I found out about Villy Vizcaya.

St. Malo, France

This post was originally written in February 2010. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

This is one of the old posts I had in my former blog. After I had got home from my exchange semester in Spain I travelled straight away to France to see my boyfriend – who was spending his year abroad in France. He stayed in Rennes, a small town in northwest France and from there we did various trips to the surrounding cities. Indeed, if you’re planning to make a trip to Europe or France make sure you spend some days in the Bretagne. It’s one of the most beautiful regions I know in Europe.

So here we go. One of the trips we did was travelling to the sea. Unfortunately, it being March, we didn’t have the best weather, but still we had a lot of fun…

On this first picture you can see the old castle. We took this pic right after we got off the bus. Today they have all the city administration in the castle, so it’s not open to the public. That’s really a shame, I think, as I imagine one would have a wonderful view from the tower.

The castle lies directly at the coast and close to the harbor which is behind us.

So, of course, the first thing we did, was walking to the coastal line. This was right behind the castle. They have quite a tide there. I’d say it makes up to 4 metres. When we arrived it was high tide and the water was just beginning to pull back. This was very good, because it meant that we’d be able to go to one of the many islands they have around…

One of the many things St. Malo is so special about, is that you can walk right around the old city centre on the town wall. Actually, the whole city was destroyed during WWII, but was rebuilt in it’s original way afterwards. This is a look into the city. I think it looks quite chaotic, doesn’t it?

For lunch we went into the city. It looks very similar from the inside, as it does from the outside. Tiny streets going up and down:

Sometimes, you felt like you had walked right into the scene of a movie and I expected a horserider to come around the corner more than once! Also the light was incredible, though it was quite cloudy that day, sometimes the sun would come out and create this surreal feeling…

Before going home we went back to the beach and walked over to one of the islands. I really loved this – along the way were about a ton of empty sea shells and I started collecting some. Well, I could have taken ALL of them, because one was more beautiful than the other. However, my boyfriend wanted to get to the island and BACK again before the tide came back. It was a close call, as you can see in the picture below. The castle in the background is the one we went to and a short time after we got back the water began to rise, again. However, I had a lot of fun:




København – Wrap up of the weekend

This post was originally written in November 2009. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

After a three day sightseeing marathon we decided to take things slowly on Saturday and slept late. After a huge breakfast we headed to the city center to go shopping. Well, in the end, we didn’t buy anything despite postcards, souvenirs (black currant jam) and a wallet, but we had a great time strolling through the city and its shops.

In the afternoon we visited the National Museum that displays the history of the Danish people of the last 2000 years. It was really interesting to see the parallels and differences of our own history. In the evening we went to the Copenhagen Film Festival to see “No one knows about Persian cats”. I’ve written an individual post about this movie which you can read here.

Here’s the route we followed on Saturday (without the cinema):

On Sunday morning we packed our bags so we could enjoy the last hours in Copenhagen without having to worry about luggage. Then we set off to search the alternative Little Mermaid. We were lucky, but it was mere chance that we really found here near the new port:

Around noon we met with Manuela to have a look at Rosenborg Castle. Yeah, we visited a lot of castles, but it didn’t get boring, because they were all completely different.

Rosenborg was built as summerhouse in the 18th century and turned into a museum in the late 1800s as the regents didn’t have any use for it any more. Today it houses a collection of artifacts that were collected by the former monarchs and the Royal Crown Jewels.

It’s surrounded by a huge park that invites to spend some time just wandering along, marvelling at the nature… This is also where we took this picture:

In the evening we had delicious dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in the city enjoying the last hours of our stay. All in all I have to say, it was a wonderful time we had and if you ever come to Europe or to Denmark, take your time and visit Copenhagen. It’s really worth it!!!

Follow these links to read the other posts from Day 1Day 2 and Day 3.

København – Day 3

This post was originally written in November 2009. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

Waking up on Friday the weather was – as had been forecasted – not the best, so we opted for Christiansborg Castle.

Christiansborg Castle is the old town castle. It was first built in the 12th century and has been rebuilt and enlarged since then. The Castle you see today was built at the beginning of the 20th century and is the fifth version. Unfortunately we forgot to take picture of the castle so these are not my own:

In the basements of the castle is an exhibition that shows the remains of the first and second castle. They were discovered during the construction of the last castle and can be visited. Just around the corner of Christiansborg Castle are the buildings of the old Stock Exchange, one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen:

In the afternoon we went to see the Freeetown of Christiania. This is an self-governed commune in the heart of Copenhagen, founded in the 1970s on an abandoned military district. It was formerly famous for the easy acquisition and consumption of drugs and is now a tourist attraction almost as famous as the Little Mermaid. At the entrance of the Freetown, the visitor is greeted and dismissed by theses two signs:

Though visitors should be careful about taking pictures on the grounds there were some places that allowed photographing. On the picture you also see another thing, Christiania is famous for: the Christiania bikes.

These bikes can be found all over the city and are used to transport EVERYTHING – from shopping items to kids… I absolutely fell in love with these and am now saving to buy such a bike.

After Christiania we also took a look at the Vor Frelsers Church which can be found in the same district. This church is nothing special, but it has a tower that is not only architecturally genious but also offers a great view of the city.

You go up on the outside of the tower, so you have to be pretty free from giddiness… It is open from April to October.

Later that afternoon we met with my cousin to enjoy coffee and had a wonderful dinner with pasta and salmon – a recipe that I’ll post here for sure!

While you’re waiting for Day 4 and 5 read the posts from Day 1 and Day 2.

København – Day 2

This post was originally written in November 2009. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

Looking out of our window in the morning, we decided to enjoy our second day by the seaside talking a long stroll along the piers. As you can see on the map below, it was quite a distance:

We started from our hotel, which lies basically next to the piers. The picture of the hotel that you can see in the other post was taken as we were standing on the piers. Walking along the mixture and combination of old and new was to be found at each corner. Below you see a picture of the “Black Diamond” on the left and an old town house on the right.

The Black Diamond houses the Royal Library and is one of the most recently built architectural jewels of the city, along with the Opera, which you see below:

The Opera was built (and also financed) by the owner of the company Maersk, one of the biggest Logistics companies of the world. It was a point of great discussions and fights and some Copenhageners refer to it as the toaster of Copenhagen.

It lies directly in front of Amalienborg Castle., which you see on the left picture above. Amalieborg is the home of Queen Margarete and her husband and a part of the castle is momentarily being renovated for the Prince, Frederik and his wife Mary. While we were taking a look at the castle’s outsides we were lucky to witness the change of the guards that takes places every day at noon. It was really interesting and also a bit funny, especially to watch us tourists as we gathered around the guards to get the best shot… There was also police, andt it seemed as if they were guarding the guards, to protect them from the tourists ;-).

Afterwards we went farther north to the Castelet and to see the Little Mermaid, Copenhagen’s most pictured and most famous sight:

The statue was comissioned in 1909 after a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It has since then been the victim to vandalism, being showered with color or having the head or an arm amputated.

Just around the corner of the Little Mermaid lies the old Castelet, an old fort that houses the marine’s soldiers today.

However, it is open to the public for recreational purposes and it is a really wonderful place to take a stroll along the old walls. Copenhageners living in this area also use it as a running track.

If you take your time, as we did, it’s a stroll worth for one day, because there are so many things to see. We didn’t do anything else that day than have a good dinner at my cousin’s…

Wait for the stories of what we did on day 3 and 4…