München, Germany (Munich)

München, oh München, you crazy devil you. (Note: Munich has a lot of history so this is only cliff note version…)

Talk about a city that knows how to party, get things done, and show their visitors and inhabitants a good time. After the intensity they’ve been through, though, I think the people of München deserve the mass amounts of liter beer mugs that litter the pubs of Munich’s center: Marienplatz.

As the largest city of the Bavarian state, and the 3rd largest of Germany, Munich sits on the banks of the Isar river. The capital of Bavaria since 1506, Munich was not even documented until 1158 when it is assumed to have been formed. The term comes from the Old German “Munichen” which translates roughly to “by the monks.”

“Guelph Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a bridge over the river Isar next to a settlement of Benedictine monks—this was on the Old Salt Route and a toll bridge.” (Wikipedia) In 1175 Munich was granted city status, and when Duke Louis IV was elected King of Germany in 1314 he allowed Munich the salt monopoly that would sustain the city’s income.

Now, despite its previously (famous) gothic aesthetic, Munich became the center of renaissance arts in the 16th century.  One particular art seemed to be greatly appreciated (though not at all renaissance–depending on who you ask): brewing. The infamous (to beer and German culture lovers) Hofbrauhaus was built in 1589 by Wilhelm V. Thanks, Willie. We will forever appreciate your contribution.

Quick recap for the next 300 years: Catholic League founded, bubonic plague, baroque life comes out of the closet. On to more important things: The Kingdom of Bavaria. Sounds regal, right? It only lasted ~100 years before it collapsed at the death of Ludwig III. In 1806, when this kingdom was formed, though, Munich stayed the capital and was even honored with the movement of the Ludwig Maximilian University (now AKA University of Munich) in 1826.

As the first World War broke out, Munich came to know great political and social unrest. In 1916, three bombs fell on Munich in a French air raid. Just two years later, the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig III, made a bold decision to get the hell out of Dodge and fled with his family in Nov. 1918. The Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Feb. 1919, but quickly put down by the Freikops. And, not long after, Hitler attempted (and failed) to revolt against the Weimar Republic in 1923. Ten years later (1933) National Socialists took power of Munch and the first concentration camp was built in Dachau, just 10 mi. outside of the city. From this rise of the social party, Munich was later called Der Hauptstadt der Bewegung or the “Capital of Movement.”

By the end of WWII, Munich had been victim to 71 air raids leaving the city in utter shambles. In 1945, though, the city was rebuilt to replicate its original city grid and, in ’57, Munich’s population surpassed the 1 million mark. Yet, just as the city had finished rebuilding from destruction and psychological damage, the 1972 Olympic “Munich Massacre” occurs. (Read more in the Olympic Park article.)

Yet, despite all of the tragedy the city has faced over the centuries, it has restored itself to become one the world’s largest technological epicenters. According to Mercer HR Consulting, Munich ranks in the top 10 cities with the highest quality of life. It is sweetly named “Toytown” by American-speaking inhabitants, and “Millionendorf” in German, translating roughly to “village of one million people.”

The natural habitat of well-heeled power dressers and lederhosen-clad thigh-slappers, Mediterranean-style street cafes and Mitteleuropa (add: “Middle Europe”) beer halls, high-brow art and high-tech industry, Germany’s second city is a flourishing success story that revels in its own contradictions. If you’re looking for Alpine clichés, they’re all here, but the Bavarian metropolis sure has many an unexpected card down its Dirndl. -Lonely Planet


Fantastical Places to Visit

The world is a mysterious place that is filled with fantastical destinations that look like they were drawn up by J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, or the designers of Avatar. They are spectacular wonders of the world or just small towns that are so small you wouldn’t know to visit them unless told by someone who had already been there.

Flying the Nest created a list ten fairytale destinations you must visit:

  1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
  2. Wisteria Tunnel, Japan
  3. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
  4. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
  5. The Faroe Islands
  6. Kakslauttanen Igloo Village, Finland
  7. Glow Worm Caves, Tauranga, New Zealand
  8. Colmar, France
  9. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Sctoland
  10. Dark Hedges, Ireland

For more awesome articles and photos, visit Stephen and Jess at Flying the Nest.

Ribeauville, France (Alsace)

Much like Riquewihr, Ribeauville is a small, adorable village in the Alsace region of France. Up against a small mountain range, it is full of half-timbered houses and hot wine (Vin Chaud), which is delightful.

Because it’s so small, there isn’t much to report on it. But, it is worth dropping into if you’re in the area. Or, if you’re looking for somewhere sweet to stay in Alsace, this (or Riquewihr) are exactly what you’re looking for.


Riquewihr, France (Alsace)

Riquewihr is a small town in the Alsace region known for its exceptional wine and quintessential hamlet-style 16th century architecture. Between the half-timbered houses and vineyards everywhere, the town is more than quaint. When I sent pictures back home someone actually asked me if I was “in a gingerbread town, or something”. And, while it’s similar to Strasbourg, the feel is completely different. Strasbourg, although quaint in some places is still a sizable city overall. Riquewihr is a town, and no matter where you go (though it won’t be far), you never leave the whimsical atmosphere.

“Originally the property of the Dukes of Württemberg, the town was converted to Protestantism in the 16th century. Historically, Riquewihr served as a Winzerdorf or ‘wine village’ as a trading hub for Alsatian and German wine.” (Wikipedia)

“Situated between the peaks of the Vosges mountains and the Plain of Alsace, Riquewihr is a medieval town right in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards, classified among the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in France.'” (ribeauville-riquewihr.com)

Don’t believe me yet? Take a look at the pictures and you’ll see just how cute it is! Also, cheese. For more photos, see Winter in Riquewihr. (Coming Soon!)

Strasbourg, France (Alsace)

Strasbourg is by far one of the most quaint towns I have been to yet.  It is the quintessential North French village with its German-inspired cottage facades, side streets galore, and local holiday traditions. Below you’ll find a little history on the town so you can get an idea of just how much cute this town has to offer!

Built on the former site of a Roman camp known as Argentoratum, Strasbourg–the “stronghold of the roads”–flourished during the Carolingian era.  During the Middle Ages the city became a “free town” of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire.  It was during this period that construction of the Cathedral got underway its foundations dating back to 1015.  Two leading figures were to emerge during the builders’ lengthy odyssey–Erwin con Steinbach and Jean Hültz, who in 1439 completed the single spire towering 142 meters high.

Strasbourg’s golden age began in the 1430s, when it became a major intellectual centre with Gutenberg, Jean and Jacques Strum, and Sebastian Brant.  It was during this period that Kammerzell House was built; one of the finest examples of civil architecture in the Renaissance style found in the Rhine basin.  Many houses in the Petite France were built during this period, a part of Strasbourg with the look and feel of a postcard: half-timbered houses huddles along the riverbanks, slow-paced meandering streets… After decades of hardships (wars, famines…), a second golden age began when the city was incorporated into the Kingdom of France in 1681 with the status of “free royal city.”

In the eighteenth century the city experienced a real architectural renewal: jewels of elegance and classicism like the Rohan Palace (completed in 1742, which today houses several museums) or The Aubette. The latter, decorated much later in the 1920s by Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp has justifiably become a “Sistine Chapel of modern art.”

The city was then caught up in the revolutionary turmoil.  Rouget de L’Isle wrote the future Marseillaise anthem in 1792.  During the France-Prussian war of 1870, the urban landscape was badly damaged by heavy bombing.  After the French defeat, Alsace and part of Lorraine were annexed and Strasbourg became the capital of Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen.  The German authorities created the Neustadt (“new town”) between 1871 and 1918 an urbanistic endeavour with serious political overtones.  Currently in the process of being classified as World Heritage by Unesco, it is an extraordinary testimony of Wilhelmine architecture.  Whilst Strasbourg was torn between France and Germany in the twentieth century with two World Wards, it became a symbol of reconciliation between the two countries.  It has since become the European capital and the seat of the European Parliament as well as of a number of international institutions such as the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights.  All located in a “European Quarter,” these buildings provide a real promenade through contemporary architecture. (Courtesy of Coco City Guide)


Bold words have links to other articles (by yours truly) on those topics

Non-italic words are other important places that I don’t personally have articles for

Some tips for women traveling alone

We are always trying to break gender norms, but it’s just a fact that it can be more dangerous for women to travel alone.  Of course, this can be dependent on where and when you travel.  Women planning on heading to the Middle East or Eastern Europe may want to be a bit more cautious, but those traveling to, say, France or England may be a bit safer. No matter what, it’s important to stay aware of surroundings and keep the below tips in mind.

1. If you’re planning on taking a purse, take one that is small and can be worn across the body.  Carrying a smaller purse means a few things.  For one, wearing it across your body creates less opportunity for thieves to snatch and run. Secondly, they won’t hold much which forces you to take just the essentials when out and about.  In addition, they’re just more convenient when out and about for a full day of exploring.

2. Throw a few bucks (or the equivalent in the country’s currency) in your bra. You may think this sounds comical (and it totally is), but if something happens to your belongings, at least you have some money with which to get around. If you don’t wear bras, throw it in the waist of your panties. If you don’t wear either, I’m not really sure what to tell you.

3. Know the basic of your destination country’s language.  Go to a country that speaks your language, use Duolingo/Rosetta Stone on the plane, get a quick reference book/dictionary – do what you need to. But, when in a bind, it can be helpful. Some good words/phrases to learn include: Hello, do you speak (insert language)?”, “Hello, can you help me?” (followed by “Do you speak __?”), “Help!”/”Fire!”. While you don’t want to be the girl who cried wolf, the last phrase will certainly get someone’s attention if “Help” doesn’t. The more you can learn, the better.

4. Meeting people can be great, but try to avoid going to private places with people you don’t know.  This should be a given.  Chances are, you’re a grown adult and can make your own choices, but know the dangers of being in an unknown place with a stranger.  Taken is real, people.  But, in all seriousness, gauge the potential danger.

5. Have fun! As cheesy and cliche as it is, it’s true! No matter where you go, you can have fun.  Be safe, but have a good time.  Traveling can be a beautiful, wonderful, eye-opening thing, but people will want you to come home in one piece.  And if you don’t have someone, YOU should want you to come home in one piece!

And, if all else fails, here are some kick-ass moves to kick some ass.

If you decide you want to travel with a group of women, check out Wanderful (previously Go Gril Travel).  It’s an organization that gets groups of women together to talk about and do travel.  Between meetups, stories, and trips, you may find just what you’re looking for with like-minded women.


Updated: February 22, 2017

40 Rare and Important Archaeological Finds of all time

This post is amazing! Perhaps you can add some of these locations to your travel bucket list. Enjoy!


“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

The past can be both shocking and familiar. It’s common to say that human nature never changes – but it’s still possible for archaeology to surprise us, by pulling things from the ground which transform our conception of the past.

1. Rosetta Stone

Top archaeological finds of all time

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BlueGala Guest Post: How To Pack Efficiently

A viewer recently sent me a link to a great photo with info on how to pack efficiently.  We all have been guilty of packing too much at least once! You know who you are, kitchen-sink-packer. The below information is also in my upcoming travel guide, so here’s a much prettier version! (The only things I disagree with are: 1. wear light shoes when traveling. The idea is good, but when you are the one holding up the group stomping your feet into those clunky tennis shoes or boots, followed by tying up all those laces, you might regret the originally good idea. And 2. try to avoid taking jewelry period–depending on where you’re going.) ENJOY! packing-hacks-finalClick here for the BlueGala site.