Wonderlost Wednesday: Mackinac Island (guest post)

Hello there! Melanie here. My dear blogger friend, Pernnille, asked me to do a guest post on her blog, Wanderlust, because I hail from the United States of America, a place she has yet to travel. Now, you may be expecting something about a big city: Chicago, L.A., New York. However, I would like to discuss a much smaller place because it’s near and dear to my heart.

My family was never one for traditions. However, one vacation we took every year was to Mackinaw City for Labor Day Weekend. This is the last weekend of the summer before school starts back up in the United States and it’s also the only time of the year that the Mackinac Bridge (the bridge that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of the state of Michigan) is open to pedestrian traffic. We walked the five-mile-long bridge almost every year. (Some years it was windy, and/or raining, which is not fun to walk through.) This was the highlight of our trip and the main reason we went. However, it wasn’t the only reason.

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In the middle of Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, stands Mackinac Island. It’s not a very big island. In fact, one of the many things we do while on the island is ride our bikes around the perimeter, which is about 8 miles(12.8 km). The paved road that takes you around the island winds along the edge of the lake with the rocky cliffs jutting up on the other side. It’s a gorgeous scenic ride. In addition, there’s plenty of places to stop along the way to take breaks, take pictures, go hiking. In fact, along the way you’ll see a few of the beautiful houses of the full-time residents of the island peeking through the trees.

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Why do we ride our bicycles and not take a car, you ask? Why because motor vehicles aren’t allowed on the island. Motor vehicles (excluding emergency vehicles, service vehicles, and snowmobiles in winter), were prohibited back in 1898. For that reason, bicycles have become the preferred method of transportation on the island. Of course, walking is allowed and horses are allowed on the island, as well. In fact, taking a horse-drawn carriage tour is another of the attractions offered on the island, or perhaps a horseback-ride through the middle of the island.

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Or perhaps you’re a history-buff, someone who enjoys history? Have no fear! The island is rich with history! In fact, on the top of the island stands Fort Mackinac. Built in 1780 by the British during the American Revolutionary War and later used in the War of 1812, it now remains a top tourist attraction. Here you can see what daily life was like, watch reenactments, and listen to music of the time period.

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If history and bike-riding aren’t your thing, you’ll have plenty else to do on the island with the countless unique, eclectic shops, a butterfly house with dozens of butterfly species from around the world, putt-putt golf by the beach, visit the Grand Hotel, plenty of open grass areas for catching some (sun)rays, playing Frisbee, or flying a kite.

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Remember that peak tourist time is Labor Day Weekend. So be careful not to run any pedestrians over with your bike in the jam-packed Main Street. :p For a better look at the scenery of Mackinac Island, check out my flash fiction series :
Across the Lake (part 1); 
Across the Lake (part 2);
 Lake Huron;
 Fog;
 Day to Night.

Wonderlost Wednesday: Berlin

For six months this year, I lived in Berlin. Here, I took advantage of every free moment there was from writing my MA thesis to explore this lovely metropolis with all its delights. However, even having lived in Berlin for a longer period of time, I don’t feel as if I’ve explored and experienced it all – however, that’s just a good excuse to return, right!? Because fact is, there’s just so much to do in this modern metropolis.

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What I like most about Berlin besides its diverse scenery is its cultural diversity – and not only people-wise, however, also area-wise. Each area is characterised in a different way from your high-end to alternative neighbourhoods. No doubt that there’s a lot of history to be explored here as well as (and implicit) culture. I do highly recommend visiting the typical tourist sights such as the Wall, Brandenburger Tor, Berliner Dom, various museums (especially the Wall Museum, which gives a comprehensive insight into the division of Berlin during the Cold War) etc. And although a tourist trap, I must recommend visiting the TV Tower! The view from the top is absolutely stunning. Furthermore, it’s a good way to get an overview of the metropolis and its areas from above. However, you can also do this from Die Welt, which is an air balloon close to the old boarder from west/east Berlin). Also the Jewish Memorial at Brandenburger Tor is a nice place to explore, walking around in between the many stones.

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Besides from all the typical tourist sights, I quite like just exploring Berlin – it’s always fun when you get lost because you come across places and things you didn’t expect. …I could spend hours walking around in my neighbourhood, Kreuzberg, which was a rather cultural diverse and arty area in which street art was highly visible. Here and in Friedrichshain, you can explore street art from well-known artists from all over the world – it’s rather fascinating!

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Food-wise, Berlin is perfect! Because of the many different cultures living in the city, there are a lot of various and different cafes and restaurents where you can dig into the cultural diversity, so to speak. I, especially, grew found of Alarabi Lounge in Friedrichshain, which is a cute and cozy Turkish restaurant that serves a delicious brunch!
These many variations of cultural foods can also be explored at flee markets around Berlin. I quite like Mauerpark Flomarkt, which is a rather big flee market with everything from furniture to clothes to technical gadgets to jewellry and music etc. Beside the flee market, there is a little park where people hang out every Sunday and street artists play music and perform.

As you may or may not know by now from previous posts, I quite like green areas where you can relax, enjoy the fresh air and get away from the noisy big city for a moment. On that note, Berlin is perfect. The city, namely, has a lot of parks. I suspect the most well-known park is Tiergarten, however, my all time favourite is Viktoria Park in Kreuzberg. This park is absolutely stunning: It’s located on a hill and has this amazing waterfall in the middle, which you can see when you enter the park – beautiful, especially, in the summer time. Besides this, there are also some sand beaches located around Berlin, which are open during summer time. These, a friend and I visited a few times, and we quite enjoyed the atmosphere there: It was like visiting an exotic place – in the middle on Berlin! It was the perfect way to have a little vacation away from the MA thesis.

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If you’re into the typical big city feel mixed with a lot of ’personality’ and cultural diversity, then Berlin is the perfect place for you to visit! And if you visit, don’t forget to stop by one of the many photo booths around Berlin – it’s the perfect souvenir to bring home with you.

xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: Blarney Castle

Build in 1446, Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest castles that is world-known for the Blarney Stone. According to myths, you can gain the gift of eloquence by kissing the stone. You will have to climb a lot of stairs and literally throw yourself under a rock, however, you will, of course, gain the gift of eloquence…

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However, there is a lot more to Blarney Castle than just the stone. To the castle, namely, belongs big and beautiful gardens as well as the Blarney House: A spectacular estate in the middle of the gardens.

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Blarney Castle Gardens...Blarney Castle Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

Including a poison garden as well as a fern, bog and Irish gardens, there is a lot of gardens to be explored on Blarney Castle’s grounds, which is closely linked to Irish history and culture. If you, for example, book a guided tour, a tour guide will tell you all about the castle itself as well as the stone. Furthermore, you’ll among others gain insight into how rulers, at the time, advanced their political powers by visiting the poison garden. Then, at the beautiful Blarney House build in 1704 – a large Georgian Gothic estate, you’ll acquire insight into how lords and ladies, at the time, lived: You’ll learn about the different families that have lived there, their history and explore the beautiful exhibits of furniture. For anyone interested in aristocracy, this is without any doubt worth to visit. For a picnic out in stunningly beautiful scenery, Blarney Castle is definitely also worth a visit.

xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: Bath

Let me just state what you’ll later have no doubts about: Bath is one of my absolute favourite cities in England! Located in south west England, this city dates back to the Roman times – actually it was the Romans who founded the Bath we know today. Even though the city was established before that and known for its hot springs, it was the Romans who took advantage of these and build Roman baths. As a result, the city became known for these and has continued to expand since the Roman times. Especially later, when a cathedral was build and the city became a religious centre.

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Today, Bath is still known for its roman baths with hot springs, old beautiful buildings made of limestones and stunning scenery. However, there’s so much more to this amazing city: The Georgian architecture and scenery aside, this city has everything – museums, theatres, cathedral, universities, sporting venues, shopping opportunities, nice restaurants and cafes not to forget a lot of history and culture.
If you, like me, are into history and culture on your travels, you’ll adore Bath. Even if you’re not, this city will steal your heart with its beautiful architecture and scenery. I cannot stress enough how worth your time this city truly is. I believe we spent one day there, however, I could easily have spent several days exploring the city as well as the area around Bath. Next time, I’ll bring a car so we can discover more of this lovely area!

xo P!

Bath CathedralBath city

Wonderlost Wednesday: Bristol

Being a huge fan of the English graffiti artist, Banksy, and his street art, my motivation for visiting Bristol was solely based on exploring the city through his art. As such, my dear friend and I made it a themed trip with Banksy as the focus point. However, as it turned out, the city has so much more to offer than just Banksy, and my friend and I decided to stay a bit longer than originally planned exploring the city and its charm to the fullest.

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With a beautiful city centre, habour, parks and gardens not to forget the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge, this city is perfect to visit during the spring or summer time in order to spend some time outdoors. Needless to say that there, of course, are both cafes and shopping opportunities that we ended up indulging ourselves in. Moreover, we spend quite some time exploring the beautiful city with old buildings and parks – in particular the cathedral was a treat. Furthermore, we also spent time at Brandon Hill with the Cabot Tower, where we had full view over the city – with our sandwiches, this was a really lovely experience.
All in all, Bristol is definitely a city worth visiting (during spring or summer) – especially, if you visit with a car. Because then, you’re also able to visit various estates and castles close to the city. I would definitely recommend that – or join a day tour with a tour operator.

xo P!

BanksyClifton Suspension Bridge

Wonderlost Wednesday: Egeskov Castle

I don’t only love to explore foreign cultures and their histories, I also like to explore my own culture. As such, I wanted to highlight one of my favourite Danish tourist sights – a real Danish treasure: The privately owned Egeskov Castle.

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Egeskov Castle is this renaissance castle located on the island of Funen. Dating back to the 16th century, the castle has a lot of history, which my family and I explored through various exhibitions inside and outside of the castle back in 2013. The castle, namely, exhibits not only furniture and clothing from the era, however, also a vintage collection of automobiles and motorcycles along with airplanes and helicopters. Moreover, as the exhibitions are not solely restricted to the area, we also got an insight into Denmark at the time: Social norms, behavior and agriculture. As if this wasn’t enough, we spent hours in the stunning gardens where we enjoyed a delicious meal at the castle’s restaurant.
All in all, Egeskov Castle is definitely one of the tourist attractions worth visiting should you ever find yourself in Denmark.

xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: Stockholm

Earlier this year in March, a friend and I visited Stockholm on an extended weekend tour. Although, I’ve grown up in Denmark so close to Sweden, I had never been to the country before. Needless to say, I was excited to explore the capital of Stockholm due to its reputation. In this sense, I must say that it didn’t disappoint me. At all! Compared to Copenhagen, Stockholm has a lot to offer – and not just in city life but also in scenery – and atmosphere.

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Comprised of 14 islands and numerous areas and districts centered around medieval Gamla Stan (Old Town), Stockholm is nothing but exciting to explore as a mosaic of unique areas and districts. This little adorable, lively city full of beautiful architecture and scenery captured my heart immediately. It’s a city in which I could very well imagine myself growing old at one point – once I’ve explored the world, of course, and am ready to (to some extent) settle.

On our trip, I, especially, came to adore Gamla Stan. Dating back to the 13th century, this district is my favourite part of Stockholm. The architecture, scenery with habour views, cute stores, pubs, restaurants and cafes – the atmosphere – are just in my spirit and I could spend hours exploring this district. However, in general, Stockholm with its various and different areas and districts are quite exciting and I wished we had had more time in Stockholm.
Normally, I’m not much of a museum enthusiast. However, some of the museums of Stockholm such as the Vasa Museum, Astrid Lindgren Museum (Junibacken), the Royal Palace etc. are interesting museums that take the concept of museums to a new level as more interactive museums – I like that.

Old Town, StockholmStockholm Harbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you wish to explore Scandinavia, I would definitely choose Sweden or Norway as these two Nordic countries just have a more diverse scenery. And should you find yourself in Stockholm, I can warmly recommend visiting the Ice Bar by Ice Hotel. Although it is a bit expensive (even for Scandinavian prices), it is quite the tourist experience.

xo P!

Ice BarIce Bar.

Wonderlost Wednesday: Potsdam

Brandenburg Gate

Living in Berlin for a longer period of time this year with the royal Potsdam right around the corner, I simply had to visit the city. As such, so I did, and I was stunned by what I saw. This breathtaking little city full of charm, history and culture just 25 minutes with train from Berlin city centre has made a lasting impression on me. Not only is the city itself diverse with an old town, new town and a Dutch Quarter as well as various shopping possibilities etc., no, the city also has its own palaces just outside Brandenburg Gate.

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Residence of the old German royal family up until 1918, this city is nothing but spectacular! The old royal seat at Sanssouci Park is absolutely beautiful and definitely exceeds its reputation. The area doesn’t only include the well-known Sanssouci Palace, however, also several other palaces and its gardens as well as various other spectacular buildings open for the public to explore – it’s truly magnificent. I spent an entire day here just exploring the area. As you can actually see the palaces from the inside and get a glimpse of royal life, a day is packing the schedule and I had to come back to explore the rest and just take time to enjoy the many acres of garden with beautiful flowers, trees and lakes.
So if you’re ever in the neighbourhood, this little city of Potsdam may be quite the adventure for you to explore – I know I really enjoy exploring the city and Sanssouci Park.

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xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: The Giant’s Causeway

After having relocated to Dublin, Ireland, for seven months last year, I quickly started planning the many trips I wanted to take around the country and Northern Ireland. As a scenery lover, one of my first trips was to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, which has left me with quite an impression.

Giants CausewayGiants Causeway.

The Giant’s Causeway is one of those magical places where you feel overwhelmed not only by the stunning scenery with wild cliffs and the North Atlantic Ocean, however, also the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that line up at the coast. As a result of volcanic eruption, these basalt columns have been a great source for speculations throughout the years resulting in various and different myths. According to Irish folklore, the Irish giant, Finn MacCool, build the columns across the North Channel in order to fight another giant – namely, the Scottish giant, Benandonner. This is quite the story, and if there’s one thing (beside from Guinness) that the Irish like, it’s myths… (And fairies). This fact and so much more makes Ireland a perfect travel destination for me. And with its wild scenery, dramatic cliffs, the North Atlantic Ocean and myths, the area around the fourth greatest natural wonder of the United Kingdom, the Giant’s Causeway, is definitely worth a visit.

xo P!

Wonderlost Wednesday: The Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness

Growing up with the tales of Nessie, a dear friend and I just had to visit Loch Ness when we vacationed in Edinburgh. It turned out to be quite the adventure. As so many previous visitors, we unfortunately did not find Nessie. However, we haven’t given up yet, which is the perfect excuse to return to Scotland. What we did discover, though, was the spectacular Scottish scenery and wildlife throughout the Scottish Highlands.

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Taking a day tour from Edinburgh to Loch Ness through the Scottish Highlands, my friend and I had stops along the way, where we explored the highlands with their wild flora and fauna. Along the way, we passed old castles and ruins, small villages as well as rivers – absolutely stunning scenery! – before we arrived at Loch Ness where we went on a boat tour.
On the outlook for Nessie, sailing on Loch Ness was a fun experience even if we didn’t spot her. Dating back to the 7th century, the tale of Nessie has a lot of history to it – so much so that it has become part of the Scottish culture. Our tour guide told us many stories from throughout the years of adventurous’ attempts to find Nessie that included bravery, lies and deceit, which made the experience so fascinating.
Should you ever find yourself in or near the beautiful Scottish highlands, they and Loch Ness are worth a visit – I guarantee. Beside the history and culture in the area, the beautiful scenery and wildlife there are worth exploring along with the fresh air.

xo P!