How I went to 11 marvellous countries, & taught the Germans about the Queen in 2015. If I can do it, so can you!

Original photo © Belén de Benito
Original photo © Belén de Benito

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

My. What a year we’ve had.

2015 was fabulous for me and 2016 is going to be even more spectacular!

But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane of all the countries that I went to last year, and what I did. According to my WordPress annual report, over 69,000 people have read my blog in the last year from 171 countries. 69,000 people!! To think this little blog is but two (2) years old. Isn’t that brilliant?

The three (3) top countries were:

  1. USA – 13,000 readers.
  2. Germany – 10,000 readers.
  3. UK – 9,500 readers.

With the lovely Latvia right behind – 9,300 readers.

Amaaaazing!

Thank You!

Thank you so much for reading, making comment, and sticking with me. I love you all!

So let’s start with the country of my birth (England), and end with my new home-country (Germany). Here we go. Choose your poison….!

THE 11 COUNTRIES THAT I WENT TO LAST YEAR WERE:

  • England
  • Holland
  • The Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Germany

ENGLAND:

Oysters and stout on a wooden table outside a pub, England UK - ©VisitBritain Daniel Bosworth
Oysters and stout on a wooden table outside a pub, England UK –
©VisitBritain Daniel Bosworth

Last year I went to Bristol and I was extremely honoured to be invited as a guest of Visit Bristol. While I was there, I decided to drop into the city of Bath too but I haven’t actually written it about it yet, but you’ll get that post soon enough lol!

Not bad at all!

HOLLAND:

In the Red Light District, Amsterdam.
In the Red Light District, Amsterdam.
  • I have a great husband and every now and then I get a free weekend. It was January and I hadn’t been to Holland in nine (9) years so I decided to go on a solo weekend to Amsterdam and this is what I did: I went to a sex-show!!!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

"The Tall Young Gentleman" surrounded by teenaged girls at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” surrounded by teenaged girls at Rokytnice nad Jizerou!

Not only did I visit one of my favourite countries ever. But in 2015, I actually went twice!

And then I went to Prague.

In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!
In Prague reading something and looking all serious, but not completely serious!

What?

You haven’t yet been?

Incredible!

HUNGARY:

Chess players in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool - Budapest.
Chess players in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool – Budapest.

Hungary was on the map this year but for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, rather than the lovely goulash and paprika soup, it became far more known for the dismal handling of refugees running for their lives. Lest we forget, as far as the common man in Europe is concerned, #refugeesarewelcome.

THE BALTIC STATES:

A map of the Baltic Sea.
A map of the Baltic Sea.

I travel a lot and as much as I love travelling to my favourite regions of the world over and over again (Hello Tuscany!), one of the most interesting things about the Baltic Region is that I had never been there before so I decided to make a family trip out of it.

My husband gulped when I told him that not only were we going to the “other” Eastern Europe otherwise known as The Baltics, but we were going by long-distance coach-bus from country to country! I’m a determined woman and so with the part-sponsorship of an Estonian company called Lux Express, we went by road and back again!

LITHUANIA:

Vilnius B&B in Lithuania.

LATVIA:

Riga Black Balsam.

Twenty six thousand (26,000) views, hits and shares!

Absolutely Outstanding!

Thank you Latvia!!

ESTONIA:

Estonian Young Folk.
Estonian Young Folk.

FINLAND:

Helsinki Monument, Finland. @VisitFinland
Helsinki Monument, Finland.
@VisitFinland

POLAND:

Jesus in Warsaw.
Jesus in Warsaw.

For many people, Poland is an unknown country somewhere in an obscure part of Eastern Europe. If you do want to venture there, not to worry as I’ve been going there for almost twenty (20) years, so I’ve got tips to help you plan your way!

SPAIN:

Paella for lunch at TBEX in Lloret de Mar - Spain. Yum!
Paella for lunch at TBEX in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
Yum!

I love Spain and for the first time, I decided to attend the TBEX conference which is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

I decided to stay closer to home and attend TBEX EUROPE. In previous years, the bloggers conference had been in Dublin and Athens but in 2015, it was in Costa Brava, Catalunya. In Lloret de Mar to be specific. Near the beach. Olé!

But is it just me or does disaster follow me around like a bad smell? Firstly, my flight out from Berlin to Barcelona was delayed, and was so late coming in, that I had to stay at Barcelona Airport all night! And secondly, my return flight was also delayed, ten (10) hours behind schedule! Ten (10) hours!

I mean.

Come on!!

OTHER PARTS OF GERMANY:

Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle in Osnabrück. © Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle in Osnabrück.
© Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
  • The most popular post about Germany is still actually the very first post, that I ever wrote on my blog. Isn’t that funny! The title was: Germany is Boring. Ooops! Yeah, I got insults and abuse for this post. Mainly from people who never read it.

Ah well, I’m famous now. Right. Right?!

MORE NEXT WEEK!

The Black Kilts and my British-German family! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
The Black Kilts and my British-German family!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Blogging is a lone game and a solo art and in 2015, many more experienced bloggers struggled to maintain momentum or to overcome exhaustion. I’m lucky. I have a family and I have a life. Most importantly, I’ve already found my home-base  – Berlin – and I’m extremely happy with where I am and who I am.

Thank you so much for your support everyone. 2015 was a lovely year. Here’s to the next. Bottoms up!

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

This post is not sponsored and I can’t wait to hear from you!

If you have any questions about Berlin, Germany or anywhere in Europe, don’t be shy, I’m an expert! Go ahead and ask me!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be writing about some of my travel destinations for 2016 with you.

It”s a New Year. Hip! Hip! Hurrah!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then where the hell are you?

January is going to be splendid!

Watch this space!

We love my blog!

Where did you travel to last year? Any achievements that you would like to share?

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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Osnabrück – a medieval town in a German valley – the hometown of my German husband!

Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle © Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle
© Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.

As you read this, I’m actually in Bath!

Yep! Bath.

In England.

Not the object of your morning ritual!

I was previously in Bristol and it was amazing. Once again, thank you Bristol for making my stay fun and exciting!

More about that next week. For now though, the medieval town of Osnabrück!

When I told The Music Producer that I was going to write about his home-town, he was chuffed and extremely pleased. My hubby is a lovely fellow and so is his hometown, so here we go.

OSNABRÜCK or in English OSNABRUECK

Greetings from Osnabrück in Germany!
Greetings from Osnabrück in Germany!

I love going to Osnabrück. It’s a quaint town, enveloped in medieval history, quite German-like in nature, pretty to look at, and once known as the happiest place in Germany! What not to like!

What not to like in Osnabrück!
What not to like in Osnabrück!

Osnabrück is a city in the Federal State of Lower-Saxony in North-West Germany.

Even though Osnabrück is regionally based in the region of Lower Saxony, historically, culturally and linguistically, Osnabrück is said to be a part of Westphalia. Osnabrück is situated in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest, has a population of 158,000 people, is the third (3rd) largest city in that State and the only German city situated in a nature reserve that is a 1,220 square kilometer, UNESCO Nature and Geo Park TERRA.vita!

THE HISTORY OF OSNABRÜCK

Church tower of St. Mary's Church in Osnabrück ©Osnabrück-Marketing und Tourismus GmbH
Church tower of St. Mary’s Church in Osnabrück
©Osnabrück-Marketing und Tourismus GmbH

The history of Osnabrück began in 780, when Charlemagne – King of the Franks, erected a stone church on the banks of the Hase River – the nucleus of today’s Osnabrück.

The city’s name is presumably a combination of the German words “Ossen” (ox) and “Brügge” (bridge). In 1002, the Bishop of Osnabrück was granted a charter to hold a market, mint coins, and collect customs dues.

Slightly before 803, the city became the seat of the Prince-Diocese of Osnabrück which is believed to make the city the oldest diocese in Lower Saxony! As an old trading route hub and as the seat of a bishop, Osnabrück developed into a thriving center for commerce in the Middle Ages. In 1157, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the city its fortification privileges.

The Heger Tor, otherwise known as the Waterloo Gate in Osnabrück, Germany.
The Heger Tor, otherwise known as the Waterloo Gate in Osnabrück, Germany.

Most of the towers that were part of the medieval fortification are still visible in the city and are a rather interesting, energetic  photographic walk!

From 1412 to 1669, Osnabrück became an influential member of the “Hanse” or Hanseatic League, which was the most important trading alliance of its time and brought great stature and wealth to its member cities. Magnificent town houses and other prestigious buildings reflected the power and wealth of the medieval merchants.

Friedensdokumente_Referat-Medien, Osnabrück, Germany.

Osnabrück also became hugely important during the negotiations for the Peace of Westphalia that took place here as well as in Münster between 1643 – 1648. In fact, it was this treaty in October 1648, that finally ended the Thirty Years’ War and changed the face of Europe forever. To commemorate this event, the treaty is annually recreated by local children with a hobby-horse parade! Osnabrück also adopted the official title of Friedensstadt known as the “city of peace.”

While the Catholics used Münster as a venue, the Protestants resided in Osnabrück. As a result, Osnabrück was alternately peacefully ruled by both Catholic and Protestant bishops, until 1803!

In contemporary times, the old trade routes have been turned into pleasant streets and the mixture of historic quarters and modern architecture is the hallmark of Osnabrück today, not only as a university city, but also a cultural and commercial trading centre in industries such as automobile, paper, steel and perishables.

Gabled houses in Osnabrück market place. ©Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
Gabled houses in Osnabrück market place.
©Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.

Due to it’s industrial importance, Osnabrück was heavily damaged during WWII although the Old Town, had it’s medieval architecture reconstructed.

It’s just so lovely that the locals still come together in places where merchants used to meet in the old market place, also known as the “Markt.” You can regularly find either the farmers’ market, local festivals, or the native German Christmas Market right there and we’ve always enjoyed either having an organic grilled sausage of some sort or organic home-made cheese. Don’t even get me started on their historic craft beer and fine German wine!

The Christmas market in Osnabrück ©Osnabrück Marketing und Tourismus.
The Christmas market in Osnabrück
©Osnabrück Marketing und Tourismus.

Osnabrück’s picturesque flair is formed by the Town Hall, the various churches, the Romanesque St Peter’s Cathedral and the high gables of the old merchant houses.

Osnabrück is surrounded by charming countryside and around 2,300 km of long distance and circular footpaths in a romantic landscape, and 1,500 km of bike paths. The ridges of the Teutoburg Forest and the Wiehen Hills shape Osnabrück’s surroundings, and most of the region is part of the UNESCO nature reserve Geo Park TERRA.vita, a European network of nature parks.

"The Music Producer" looking cool, calm & gorgeous in Osnabrück, Germany.
“The Music Producer” looking cool, calm & gorgeous in Osnabrück, Germany.

Now when I first met my husband, I actually thought he was Danish as his English was incredibly good, with a slight North American tilt! Hardly any wonder when Osnabrück used to be home to the largest British garrison (outside of the UK), in the world!

WHAT TO DO IN OSNABRÜCK

Dancing around the Maibaum or May Pole in Osnabrück, Germany.
Dancing around the Maibaum or May Pole in Osnabrück, Germany.
  • Osnabrück is a really sweet place and so we tend to go for the May Week Festival locally known as Mai Woche. Mai Woche is a bit like dancing round the May Day pole in England and is a unique festival with ten (10) days of music, comedy and open-air shows and entertainment. This takes place annually during the second (2nd) week in May.
  • Visit the picturesque Market Square and the wander through the weekly Farmer’s Market.
  • Visit the historical Town Hall and engross yourself in the history of Osnabrück, with the help of the Town Hall museum.
A family bike ride in Osnabrück. © Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
A family bike ride in Osnabrück.
© Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
  • Get out and cycle or bring your own bike! Osnabrück has ten (10) attractive cycling tours, four (4) long distance bike trails and a total of 2,500 kilometers marked routes.
  • Drink wine! Osnabrück always has local wine tasting sessions in the Old Town. And why not, it’s Germany after all!
  • Eat chocolate! I don’t like chocolate but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge in one of Germany’s oldest family owned chocolate shop. The 106 year old Leysieffer is a confectionery that is famous world-wide for it’s hand-made chocolate truffles and chocolate bars, with exotic flavours such as chili peppers or sea salt!
Fireworks & moonlight shopping in Osnabück, Germany.
Fireworks & moonlight shopping in Osnabück, Germany.
  • For one night only. Experience the cultural diversity of outstanding cultural entertainment in Osnabrück. On the last Saturday in August. At night!
  • Check out the traditional and historical Christmas Market from the end of November to December 22nd.
  • Visit the “Dom St. Peter” also known as St. Peter’s Cathedral which has been a place of worship for more than 1,225 years!
  • Visit other churches!
A Self Portrait of Felix Nussbaum in 1943.
A Self Portrait of Felix Nussbaum in 1943.
  • Make it a point of duty to get to grips with the Felix Nussbaum Museum which houses the impressive life collection of Felix Nussbaum as a German-Jewish surrealist painter, in a desperate state of living, in Holocaust Europe.
  • If you aren’t short on time, visit other museums such as the Museum of Cultural History or the Museum of Industrial Culture. I guess you can see a running theme here, I like museums LOL!
  • Discover Osnabrück’s history with the Romans!
Grützwurst!
Grützwurst!
  • Eat a variety of delicious rustic German food such as asparagus – Spargel – green cabbage – Grünkohl – served with cured and slightly smoked thick cuts of pork – Kasseler –  or a traditional blood sausage made out of pig’s blood, pig offal and buckwheat stuffed in a pig intestine flavored with onions, black pepper, and marjoram – Grützwurst!
  • Go high-brow and dine at Osnabrück’s most famous three (3) Michelin star exquisite La Vie restaurant and don’t forget to make a reservation!
  • Have a bite and a rest at Walhalla – Osnabrück’s oldest inn built in 1690!
The most famous Rampendahl brewery in Osnabrück, Germany.
The most famous Rampendahl brewery in Osnabrück, Germany.
  • Drink litres of German beer in large beer steins and glasses at the merchant-friendly Rampendahl brewery re-collected in historical books as far back as 1177! Go upstairs for a better view and don’t forget that you can even go on a tour of the brewery itself!
  • Go shopping and really stroll around into nooks and crannies and cobble-stoned streets!
  • Track down dinosaurs!
  • Go to as many monasteries as you can muster.
The Old Town in Osnabrück, Germany.
The Old Town in Osnabrück, Germany.
  • Take a walk down memory lane and go to the most exquisite Old Town in Osnabrück. Think taverns bustling with merchants. Think black and white half-timbered houses and Romanesque vault buildings and monuments from the 13th century. Think knights , ladies and serfs, from the Middle Ages!
  • Visit one of the earliest baroque palaces in Germany built in 1668 with it’s stylish palace gardens, palace´s terrace, palace statues and palace fountains. Now a part of the University of Osnabrück but open to the general public and quite enchanting!
  • Visit the various castles in Osnabrück.
"The Tall Young Gentleman" at Bad Rothenfelde - the salt spa near Osnabrück, Germany.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” at Bad Rothenfelde – the salt spa near Osnabrück, Germany.
  • Go to the spa town of Bad Rothenfelde where my husband’s father grew up. It has a spa garden and the famous Saline Rothenfelde salt works. The water is warm and you can really taste the salt!
  • If you’ve got a couple of days, you could get yourself the Osnabrück City Card. It allows you access to every bus within the city, free admission to six museums in Osnabrück, plus a voucher booklet for other interesting cultural activities. Prices for 24 hours are €8.00 per person (adults & children 14 and above), €11.00 for a family (two adults with a maximum of two children up to the age of 14). Tickets for 48 hours are €11.00 per person or €16.00 per family. Valid for any two days within a period of three months.

HOW TO GET TO OSNABRÜCK

Osnabrück - The City of Peace.
Osnabrück – The City of Peace.
  • By train: The train station that you would need to get to is Osnabrück Hbf (Main Train Station) via Germany’s Deutsche Bahn. It’s about  four (4) hours from Berlin.
  • By plane: The nearest airport is the Münster/Osnabrück International Airport. It’s about 30 minutes from Osnabrück and has an airport express bus that operates regularly.
  • By bus: Many coach/bus companies also travel to Osnabrück and within Osnabrück itself, the public transport network is highly efficient throughout the day and night!
  • By car: You can reach Osnabrück via the motorways A30 Amsterdam – Bad Oeynhausen, A33 Diepholz – Bielefeld and A1 Hamburg – Dortmund.
My husband - "The Music Producer" and "The Tall Young Gentleman" in beautiful Osnabrück, Germany.
My husband – “The Music Producer” and “The Tall Young Gentleman” in beautiful Osnabrück, Germany.

I might be biased but I really like Osnabruck as the German traditions are still very much sought after for example, my husband told me that there is an ancient custom that unmarried men who are 30 years old must sweep the streets in front of the town hall or have their houses covered with paper and plastic, until they are kissed by a virgin. As punishment!

Go see for yourself!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the wonderful time that I had in Bristol.

Get out your brolly and put on your wellies!

See you next week.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

Osnabrück - the hometown of my German husband!

Would you go to a medieval town? Have you ever been to Germany? Isn’t my husband cute?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!