Munich

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The capital of Bavaria

A modern cosmopolitan city with a touch of traditions, and home to the most famous beer festival!

The pretty city, Munich is the third largest city in Germany and is the capital city of Bavaria. Bavaria is the largest (land) state and is located in the southeastern section of Germany. Often described as a fairytale city, with the numerous castles, views of the Alps and strong traditions still present. Munich is located on the banks of the river Isar, north of the gorgeous Bavarian alps.

 The city is absolutely stunning, rich in history with ties to royal Bavarian heritage. Munich showcases stunning architecture, beautiful galleries and museums, fine dinning and breathtaking views of the alps. Munich is a cosmopolitan city, however the traditions are still very present  and with a touch of medieval vibes. A great place to explore history (both good and bad), and to absorb German culture.

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Seven days in Munich

Our first visit to Germany, was to visit this beautiful city! Again, we found really cheap flights. From London to Munich the cost of the flight was around $15 usd), so perfect. We brought the tickets and then went to search for a cheap hostel to stay in……we did not realize that we were arriving when the world’s largest Volksfeast would be  happening. We could not find any accommodation! All that was left was a bed in a dorm room going for thousands of dollars, ah no thanks. We had nearly given up on looking for accommodation and had decided to just camp, however I stumbled across a local website where people rented out their apartment (this was not airbnb). So we were able to book a great one bedroom apartment located in the city center, we couldn’t believe our luck. This worked out perfectly, we could cook in the apartment (saving money on eating out), we were able to walk  nearly everywhere in the city and now we could even enjoy the Volksfest, you can read about our time at Oktoberfest here. 

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Highlights and must sees

  • Nymphenburg Palace: We spent a good portion of the day visiting this beautiful regal 18th century palace. Wandering around the well kept gardens is so dreamy.
  • Englishcher garden: A large and lush garden, with its own beer garden!
  • Marienplatz: Described as the heart of the city. This square is very popular and has a range of restaurants, shops and street performances.
  • Viktualiemarkt: A vibrant farmers market and is the cities oldest market.
  • St. Peter’s church: A stunning church and Munich’s oldest place of worship.
  • Residenzmuseum:  This hall is one of the most important palace museums in Europe.
  • Hofbrauhaus Muchen: This well known beer hall was founded in the 16th century!
  • Linderhof Palace: Stunning palace and is the smallest of the palaces built by king Ludwig the second second of Bavaria.

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Dachau concentration camp

One of the first concentration camps to open in Nazi Germany. It is now a memorial site, a place to reflect on the past and to mourn the victims.

Located 10 miles north of Munich, we took the train for a day trip to visit the Dachau concentration camp. Walking through the site was very confronting, eerie and heartbreaking. However it is important to step out of our comfort zones to acknowledge what happened, we cannot ignore the ugly past. If visiting Munich, I do recommend a visit to this memorial site to pay  respect to the victims.

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Munchen

Rich in history, Bavarian culture, stunning architecture, beautiful green scenery, fairy tale palaces and alp views, Munich has something for everyone. Our trip was very enjoyable and insightful. We learnt a lot about the location and experienced some great German culture. I would return, and I would also love to explore more of the state of Bavaria and the surrounding countries.

 

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Me in munich

Malmo and Lund

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Sweden

Malmo

Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden and the capital and largest city of the Swedish county of Scania. Malmo is located near the southwestern tip of Sweden, and is connected to Copenhagen, Denmark by the Oresund bridge. This small and vibrant city, is rich in history, culture and art and with its friendly people, pretty sights and sandy beaches, Malmo is a great city to explore.

Lund

Located in the southern tip of Sweden in the Skane province. Lund is the second oldest city in Sweden! The city was founded in AD 990 and still maintains its medieval charm and low key vibes. Lund holds great traditions within education, the Lund university was established in 1660, and today it is one of the largest institutions for education and research in Scandinavia. It is no surprise that the university and its buildings dominate much of the city.

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Southern Sweden

We have a friend who lives in Lund (who we had met in Townsville, Australia) who had invited us to stay with him. So from Copenhagen, Denmark we took the train across the Oresund bridge for 40 minutes until we reached Malmo. We arrived early and spent the day exploring the picturesque city before our friend picked us up and took us to his home in Lund.

We spent four days exploring Malmo and Lund, our friend was a great host and tour guide, who not only showed us the highlights but also took us to some hidden gems, and show us around the local night life scene. The weather was also so beautiful, sunny and mild. It also just happened to be the time of year that the Malmo festival was on, so we were able to experience and enjoy this annual festival.

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Highlights and must sees

  • Oresund bridge: The bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden.
  • Turning torso: Impressive architecture, a twisted and sculptured tower block.
  • Malmo castle: A 16th century castle which was built by the Danish.
  • Kungsparken: A pretty park to wander around, and also the oldest park in the city
  • Science and Maritime museum: 
  • The Stortorget: Malmo’s city center square. This square was built in 1536! And surrounds the old town.
  • Lund University and the historical museum: Visit the impressive buildings and explore the rich history.
  • Botaniska tradgarden: The beautiful botanical garden in Lund.
  • Lomma: The nearest beach to Lund

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Our time in Malmo and Lund was so enjoyable, and I think it was made even better as we had someone to show us around! I would love to return to Sweden, the next hopefully to visit the North!

Next stop, Munich, Germany, to experience the famous Oktoberfest

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Copenhagen

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Kobenhavn

Charming waterfront, colorful buildings, stunning decor and a cosmopolitian atmosphere, Copenhagen (Kobenhavn in Danish) is a great introduction to Denmark and an insight into Scandinavia.

Copenhagen is located on the eastern coast of the island Zealand, and a smaller section of the city is located on Amager. Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark, and also the cultural and geographic link between Scandinavia and mainland Europe. The city was founded in the 10th century and was once a small viking fishing village. Now the city represents a strong  urban and cultural modern city. Copenhagen has the buzz of a city and is still small enough to give you an intimate atmosphere. You can easily explore the city by foot or bicycle.

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A weekend in Denmark

As were based in the UK we were always on the lookout for cheap deals to travel more of Europe. We found a cheap flight (around $15 usd) to Copenhagen. So we jumped at the chance to visit the capital of Denmark.

The flight was only two hours from London. We arrived around 6pm and checked into our hostel. Generator hostel is located in the city center, just steps away from the Kongen’s Nytrov square. This hostel was so comfortable and the decor was gorgeous, the on site bar made is easier to meet other travelers. This was a standout backpackers hostel from all of my travels. We had two full days and a half day to explore this beautiful city.

 

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Highlights and must sees

  • Nyhavn: A beautiful neighborhood to walk around. Colorful buildings line the canal of this 17th century waterfront. A great place for a meal and drinks, with many options for bars, cafes and restaurants.
  • Frederiksberg Palace: A pretty palace that is located on Frederiksberg hill and overlooks the stunning Frederiksberg garden.
  • The Little Mermaid: A statue of the little mermaid is located on the Langelinje pier. The statue is over 100 years old!
  • Kronborg castle: A beautiful 16th century castle.
  • Amalienborg palace: The home of the Danish royal family.
  • Stroget: One of Europes longest pedestrian streets and the largest shopping district in Copenhagen.
  • The national museum: A look into Danish history, from the stone age, viking age, middle age to modern day Denmark.
  • Glyptoteket: A beautiful art museum.
  • Botanical garden: Walk around the gorgeous gardens located in the city center.

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From seeing the major sights of the city, wandering the streets and experiencing the Danish nightlife, our time in Copenhagen was well spent and very enjoyable. I would love to visit Denmark again to explore more of the country.

Our next stop is Malmo, Sweden, only a 40 minute train ride away!

 

 

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Brunei

Brunei Darussalam

Brunei is a tiny country located on the northern shore of the Island of Borneo. This small nation is surrounded by Malaysia’s Sarawak state and the south China sea. Brunei is one of the smallest nations on earth! It is also one of the richest, due to the countries natural gas and petroleum resources.

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24 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan

We had two months off from University. We made a rough plan to visit Bangkok and then to travel from the North to the South of Vietnam, first arriving in Hanoi. There were four of us going on this backpacking adventure in South East Asia. Next step, we needed flights. Trying to find a good deal with stumbled upon Royal Brunei airways – who were offering a great deal from Melbourne to Bangkok! Perfect. This flight deal came with the option of a stop over in Brunei….I had never heard of this country until this moment. We quickly looked it up and saw that we could also visit other parts of the magical island of Borneo, so we decided to book with this airline, and add Borneo to our travel plans.

We departed Melbourne and flew about six hours to arrive in Brunei. Flying with Royal Brunei airlines was a great experience overall. When we fist arrived, we took a connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu located in the Malaysian part of Borneo. We spent four days in Kota Kinabalu, before heading to Bandar Seri Begawan. We had 24 hours to explore the capital of Brunei before flying to Bangkok.

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We spent the day wandering around the capital of Brunei. We found the Royal Regalia Museum and looked around the museum for a good portion of the morning. A nice relief from the heat. The museum is a tribute to the Sultan, it was an interesting museum to explore.

The afternoon was spent exploring the markets and the pretty water front. The Tamu Kianggeh market was a highlight, so vibrant and filled with energy.  Strolling the promenade was nice,  I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Late afternoon, we were all quite hot and bothered…due to carrying our luggage around all day, and from being hangover. So we tried to find accommodation for the night. Being so late in the afternoon and having no internet access. This didn’t work out so well. In the end we decided to have dinner and then visit the impressive Sultan Abdul Samad building. This is a must see and looks so spectacular during the night with the city lights. After this we heading to the airport and spent the night there before flying to Bangkok early the next morning.

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Kota Kinabalu

Gateway to Borneo

Kota Kinabalu also referred to as KK is located on the northwest coast of Borneo, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, which was once formally known as Jesselton is the state capital of Sabah. The location is an ideal base to explore the northern region of Borneo.

Borneo

Borneo is the third largest (non continental) island in the world. Located in South East Asia, and surrounded by the south China sea to the north and northwest. The Island is divided by three separate countries. Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei has the smallest portion of the Island. The Malaysian part of the Borneo is split between two different states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Indonesian state of Kalimantan controls the largest portion of Borneo.

Borneo is a nature lovers playground. The majority of the island is covered by dense rainforest, with a great richness of species diversity. This rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world! Estimated to be 140 million years old. Home to a range of unique fauna and flora, and the center of evolution and distribution of many species. It is understandable that a lot of ecological research is conducted here. With this, Borneo is also home to a number of sustainable, conservation and responsible travel projects. The Island of Borneo is a really unique and magical place.

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Four days in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu was our first introduction to this amazingly unique island. Spending four days in this city was truly wonderful, the only negative was that it was not enough time! We stayed at a backpackers hostel, close to the center of the city. As we arrived in the afternoon, our first day was spent walking around and taking in the atmosphere of the city. Our first evening was spent at the night market, then on to an all you can eat buffet – and buckets of beers, the price was ridiculously cheap. The next morning, we woke up and started to explore more of the city. In addition to visiting the  sights and attractions of KK, the majority of our stay was spent island hopping, which included snorkeling and hiking adventures.

City highlights and attractions

KK water font and times square

With crystal clear waters and sunny skies the waterfront is gorgeous to walk along. Times square represents the commercial downtown area of Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah state mosque

Located close to the city center, the mosque is worth a viewing. The architectural design is very impressive.

Signal hill observatory tower

Provides gorgeous views of the city at the highest point.

Atkinson clock tower

This is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. The towers sits on a hill overlooking the city.

Central market

A vibrant and busy market located on the waterfront. A great place to explore and take in the atmosphere of the city.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman park is a marine park with a cluster of five islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik) located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. These islands are easily accessible. The distance ranges from three to eight kilometers off the coast, and you can take a 15-20 minute speedboat ride from the Jesselton point ferry terminal.  Plus, all of the islands are a short boat ride from each other. Island hopping was the highlight of our time in Kota Kinabalu.  We were able to visit many stunning beaches, go snorkeling, hike through jungle trails and see some pretty impressive animal and plant species.

Kota Kinabalu, with its tropical islands and stunning landscape is a nature lovers playground, and is rapidly becoming a more popular tourist destination, due to the city being a cultural hub with natural beauty. Kota Kinabalu was the perfect introduction to the island of Borneo. I am so eager to return and explore even more of the Island. I would love to experience a wilderness trip, absorbing the true remoteness and adventure that Borneo can offer.

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Hoi An

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Hoi An ancient town

The old town of Hoi An is a well preserved example of an old port. During the 15th to the 19th century, Hoi An was an major trading port. Hoi An has over 2,000 years of history. Hoi An was also a principal port of the Cham kingdom. This kingdom controlled the spice trade with Indonesia from the 7th to the 10th century.  As a result the culture and history of Hoi An is strongly influenced by the Cham people.  The second major influence of this charming town is from the Chinese. The buildings represent a unique blend of style from both foreign and local influencers. Hoi An old town is listed as UNESCO world heritage site and is well worth a visit.  The old town is so charming to walk around and to explore the rich history. The greenery that is covering the ruins is also so impressive, and makes the place so much more magical.

Hoi An is located in central Vietnam, in the Quang Nam province.  This area is a popular tourist attraction. People visit to see the charm of the old city and to relax at the beaches nearby. From Hue we travelled by bus for three hours to Hoi An, we stayed at a hostel at a nearby beach.

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An bang beach

As we were craving the sun and beach, we decided that we would stay at a beach close to the old town of Hoi An. We stayed at a backpackers hostel along the An Bang beach.The hostel was great and we met up with some other backpackers, and enjoyed the nightlife with them. Hoi An old town was easily accessible from this beach town, so we were able to make the most of visiting the ancient ruins and enjoying some time in the sun. You can also catch a glimpse of the Cham Islands from the beach!

Next stop on our backpacking journey through Vietnam is further South, the coastal resort city Nha Trang

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Hue

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Ancient city

After exploring the north of Vietnam, we departed Hanoi by train, and travelled south. Next stop, Hue which is described as the most royal city in Vietnam! Hue is located 700km (430m) south of Hanoi, in the Thua Thein Hue province, in central Vietnam. Hue was once the capital of Vietnam, founded in 1802 by Gia Long who was the first king of the Nguyen dynasty empire. Hue remained the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. This powerful family ruled the then capital from 1802-1945. To this day the influence of a royal lifestyle and royal customs have had a huge impact on the characteristics of the people in Hue.

The city has a rich and interesting history,  with the affects of war still very present today. Visiting the city was very enriching and very different from other parts of the country that we visited.

We stayed at a guest house for two nights and three days, exploring the ancient ruins during the day and  then enjoying the Hue nightlife.

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Highlights and must sees

The Perfume river

This ancient city lies on the banks of the Perfume river. So beautiful to see on a clear and sunny day. The Perfume river is surrounded by the ancient sights of Hue. It is also perfect for people watching, taking in the river life of the people who live here. We were also grateful to witness a stunning sunset over the ancient capital, while sitting at the banks of the river.

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The Tomb of Khai Dinh

This tomb was built for the twelfth emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, Khai Dinh. The tomb is located in Chau Chu mountain, on a steep hill near the city of Hue. The architecture is a mix of western and eastern influence and took eleven years to build!

Thien Mu Pagoda

Translates to the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady and is considered to be the unofficial landmark of the city, with its iconic seven story pagoda. In addition to its rich history, the Pagoda also looks out to the gorgeous Perfume river.

The Mieu

A place to worship ten of the Nguyen dynasty kings. The Mieu is an ancestral temple to Vietnams emperors.

Imperial city (The Citadel)

The former residence of the royal family. Now, listed as an UNESCO world heritage site. This site is a large complex of hundreds of monuments and ruins. Rich in history and devastated by the Vietnam war, this former site of the old capital has a moat and ten ornate gates guarding the palace, temples and tombs.

Hue, was much different from the rest of our backpacking journey through Vietnam. I enjoyed the history and culture of this ancient city. The next stop after Hue, is further south – Hoi An

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