Yburg in Stetten

Around my home town of wine there are many other beautiful destinations. One of them is the YBurg (Y-castle) in Stetten-Kernen. The YBurg (sometimes written Y-Burg) is a more or less square building in the vineyards, which in my opinion hardly deserves the term “castle”, but is really beautifully situated and offers an unbelievably great view of the Rems valley towards Stuttgart.

By the way, it is pronounced E-castle (e in english is pronounced more like i in German) and not Ypsilon-castle, as some people might think now. It is also supposed to be called Yberg or Eibenburg, but I have never heard these terms from the locals. But apparently the old name of the area was “Eibenberg”. And that again is the origin of this quite strange looking name.


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About YBurg

The YBurg is located above the village of Stetten in the Rems valley at 330m above sea level. The former pure residential castle is surrounded by vineyards and built directly into the slope. You will not find any fortifications or similar on the grounds of the castle. About the history of the YBurg Wikipedia says:

The exact date of foundation of the Yburg is unknown; it was built in the early 14th century by the Truchsessen von Stetten. After the construction of the moated castle in the valley (1384-1387), however, the Yburg lost more and more of its importance for the Stetten dominion. In 1443 Hans von Yberg sold the castle and his share of the village to the House of Württemberg. The castle, which was described as dilapidated in 1598, was repaired in 1659 and given a fourth floor.

By order of Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg, the castle was finally demolished in 1760/61, down to the outer walls which are still visible today.

Vineyard house in the vineyards around the Y Castle

How to go to Stetten

Stetten is unfortunately not directly connected to the S-Bahn. From the train station in Waiblingen, it is best to take bus line 211 to Kernen-Stetten.

If you come by car, you will find plenty of public parking spaces in town. Please note that driving on the paths between the Wengerten is only allowed to a limited extent. Unauthorized driving can result in an administrative fine.

Stetten

How to get to YBurg

From the village you can reach YBurg via concrete farm roads and stairs. Driving through the vineyards is only permitted to a limited extent, which is why the castle can only be reached by tourists on foot in a legal way. There are also no parking spaces. However, it is also possible to take a long detour through the vineyards to reach the YBurg via paved roads only, and it is also possible to reach the castle with prams or wheelchairs.

The direct way up is not very long, but partly quite steep. In the upper area, just before one reaches the castle, there are some signs that inform about the local flora and fauna. For example, cacti and peach trees grow here, and with a bit of luck you may also see lizards. Around the YBurg and also in the walls themselves, 16 sculptures by the artist Karl Ulrich Nuss from Weinstadt Strümpfelbach have been installed since April 17, 2011.

Nuss-Statue

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Wine tasting of the Stettener Weingärtnergenossenschaft

At the end of August the Stetten Wine Growers’ Cooperative organises a wine tasting at the YBurg. When I was there in 2015, there were some tents, tables, benches and parasols at the castle, all of which were well attended. At that time I only allowed myself an apple spritzer. The apples for the spritzer all came from the region. Here in the Rems valley there are so many apple trees growing that you can’t even eat the whole apples and many fruit meadow tenants have their apples processed into juice.

Except for the wine festival, there are no catering facilities at the YBurg. There are also no sanitary facilities. However, there are some further up on the vineyard at the Sängerheim, where hungry hikers can also stop for a bite to eat and also have a very nice view of Stetten and the surrounding area.

Around YBurg

In the immediate vicinity of the castle there are mainly vineyards. A little further up the mountain there is the natural monument “Sieben Linden”. And even further up the mountain you come to the aforementioned singer’s home. There in the forest there is also a nice round hiking trail of about 6km length.

Since it is a gravel forest path, it is probably only very limited suitable for wheelchairs, but with an outdoor stroller you can walk it very well. There are some gradients, but by far not as steep as in the vineyards.

At the Sängerheim also starts the Herzogliche Kugelbahn, a real fun for young and old. You can buy one or more balls directly from the machines and visit the individual stations. The goal of the marble run is the climbing garden.

The Remstal is really very beautiful, and if you ever come to Stuttgart or the surrounding area, you should consider a detour there. Especially in late summer, when the wine is ripe and the leaves can change colour, I would recommend everyone to visit the Remstal! You have a wonderful view of the setting sun.

View of a part of the ducal marble run



Aruba – Where to stay?

Aruba is a rather small island, comparable to the German island Fehmarn. And yet, Aruba can be roughly divided into three regions where hotels and activities are concentrated or you can find a beautiful landscape with almost no hotels at all. All three holiday regions have their own advantages and disadvantages.


Your trust is extremely important to me: This article contains referral links (affiliate links). These lead to Amazon or are marked with a *. For external links without * I do not receive any remuneration. If you book a hotel or buy a product via one of the links, I will receive a small commission. You will not incur any additional costs and you support this blog. Thanks a lot! Yours, Tanja


Where should you stay?

If you are planning your dream vacation in Aruba, you should first consider whether you would rather spend your vacation in a quieter or livelier area. Also the question of whether it should be a hotel, a holiday apartment in a large hotel or holiday apartment complex, a smaller condo or maybe even a holiday home must be considered before choosing where you will stay.

Ingeneral, the individual regions are also assigned to different beaches and some of them are very different. Some are rather quiet, others offer not only a great beach but also a lively nightlife. In addition to a short introduction of the individual holiday regions, I will also introduce you to some hotels on Aruba.

Palm Beach and High Rise Area - beach at day, party and shopping at night

The region around Palm Beach is commonly known as the “High Rise Area”. Many of the first-class and high-priced hotels on Aruba rise high into the sky and promise the greatest of luxury. In the High Rise Area are many different restaurants, from fast food to the most exquisite restaurants. Along the more than 700m long main street you will find a variety of entertainment: In the evening you can go shopping in Palm Beach Plaza or enjoy the Waltzing Water Show. Or you can enjoy a game of roulette in the Copacabana Casino.

Walzing Water Show

Probably the most luxurious hotels in Aruba includind the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino* or the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino* are located here. Not directly at the beach, but therefore a bit cheaper, is the Brickell Bay Beach Club Boutique Hotel & Spa* (adults only). The Playa Linda Beach Resort* is also very beautiful with its ingenious pool landscape.

Playa Linda Beach Resort

Eagle Beach and Low Rise Area - the quieter beach region

Eagle Beach and the Low Rise Area, which is actually located south of Eagle Beach, are way quieter than the High Rise Area. Also, the hotels not build as high.

The Eagle Beach, Manchebo Beach and Divi Beach are more than 2 kilometres long. You can walk from one end to the other in pure white sand.Hotels are mostly on the other side of the beach road and not as big as in High Rise.

We were so happy with “our” beach at the end of Eagle Beach where it becomes Manchebo Beach, that we did not visit Palm Beach except for dinner. In Low Rise, you also find a small mall, the Alhambra Casino and some good restaurants, although there are less than in High Rise. On the other hand it is much quieter here in the evening and not so crowded at the beach. We came to Aruba in June and even when there was a cruise ship in Oranjestad, the beach was still quite empty.

Palapas are free of charge, you pay only for sun loungers
There are some hotels near Alhambra

There is a WiFi spot at the upper end of Eagle Beach. So you can share your adventures on Aruba with your loved ones live. But near Manchebo Beach, there was not any WiFi. Perfect for a social media detox!

We have lived in a beautiful holiday apartment in the Sunset Residence for our holidays on Aruba near Eagle Beach. Two bedrooms, an open kitchen, balcony and a beautiful pool area. It was maybe a 5-7 minuters walk to the beach. We paid only about 3200€ for 15 nights four adults in June (no catering as we decided to buy our own breakfast and eat out every day).  The apartment complex was very clean, green and quiet. Restaurants, the Alhambra Mall, medical care and bus stops were all within 10 minutes at most. The Superfood supermarket was 20-25 minutes walk away (or you go by taxi which would cost around 11$).

Our apartment in Sunset Residence Aruba
Pool of Sunset Residence
Iguana living in Sunset Reisdence

Sixt Car Rental

The Bucuti & Tara Boutique Beach Resort* is located directly on the beach and for adults only. You can also find cheaper studios in the Divi Studios*. The entire Divi complex is located at Divi Beach. However, a shuttle will take you from the Alhambra through the complex and directly to the beach, past the All Inclusive – Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort*. At the northern end and almost in the High Rise Area there is the the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort*, a great, large resort directly at the beach.

Hotels at Manchebo Beach Aruba
Sunset at Manchebo Beach near Bucuti & Tara Boutique Beach* Resort

Oranjestad and Renaissance Island

Even though Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba, it’s not exactly what you would expect of a capital. Except when there’s a cruise ship in the harbour. The Royal Plaza Mall, jewelerys and souvenir shops and also some clothing stores are basically all there is to see here.

Additionally, there are some restaurants and bars. Then there is also the Renaissance Mall that contains designer shops as Burberry and Louis Vuitton. But then, you reach Aruba’s beaches from Oranjestad very well by bus or taxi.

Oranjestad

Oranjestad is home to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino*, which also includes the famous private “Renaissance Island”. By the way, there are several flamingos living on the island, which you can watch and feed. The island is also said to have the most beautiful snorkelling spot of all Aruba. But since the entrance fee for non-guests is 99$, we did not visit the island.

You can live in Oranjestad for a really cheap price, compared to the beach areas. Relatively close to the city and really cheap are for example the Aruba Paseo Apartments.

Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, Aruba

While you’re in town, you must definitely take one of the Downtown Trolleys. The open double-decker trams are free of charge and will take you  through the city centre to the harbour. The trams are available in blue, red and orange.

South of Oranjestad - small beaches

Most hotels are located between Oranjestad and Palm Beach. The south is  quieter than the northern beach areas. But there are less beaches which are usually also smaller than the ones in the north.

At the most beautiful beach in the south, the Baby Beach, there are no hotels (apparently it is planned to build one nearby by the end of 2022). But there is an accommodation at Mangel Halto, a small beach between the mangroves, where you can snorkel very well. If you are looking for peace and quiet and want to enjoy your holiday away from all the tourists, then the Anaté Beach Apartments* might be just what you are looking for.

Have you already been to Aruba? Which region would you recommend? Which one would be your favourite, if you haven’t been there yet? Tell me in a comment! Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter so that you will always get the latest blogposts.

A day at the Frog Pond

The first weekend of April has really spoiled us with sun. So I dusted my camera, emptied the memory card and drove to my favorite place, hoping to finally see the kingfisher again. Unfortunately, he is so shy that he flies away immediately when he approaches less than 70m. Perhaps it is also a “you” or there are several, I do not know, in any case I have seen and heard a lot more often.
As the weather was so nice, many bikers, joggers and walkers were on the way. Nevertheless, I went to the “Frog Pond”, since there were also mini frogs in it last summer. And I was actually lucky, not only that I observed quite a lot of toads (unfortunately no princes-frogs) at the love game (I piglet!), no, I was even lucky enough to meet someone who cares for the pond and for the protection and preservation of amphibians and to report on the animals. And then why Frog Pond? Would you really have looked in here if I had written “Toad Pond”? Unfortunately, Toads are regarded as disgusting, whereas almost every frog finds quite cute. So I want to share with you the very fascinating behavior of the toads.

Let’s go with pictures of frog spawn (presumably from the Grass frog). Frogs lay spawning bales, unlike toads.

On the pictures you can already see the individual development stages quite well. It is very fascinating to discover and photograph all this at a small lake.

The first tadpoles have also hatched. Unfortunately, I can not tell if it is about which of frogs or newts, because there was also a dead newt in the lake, so that it is also possible that they have already spawned before and the young are hatched first. If anyone can see something more specific, just leave me a comment!

Now to the toads.

Here you can see how some pairs of toads have found themselves. You can also see the black spawning lines. At first I did not recognize her as such and wondered why someone throws black wool into the lake, but after I looked more closely, the small black beads were well recognizable.

Kröte1A single toad of unknown sex (I suspect a male, a female would certainly hardly have been left alone) drifts on the surface and makes it go well.

Kröte2

And another one who needs a break.  Krötenpaar4The smaller males are worn by the females.

Krötenpaar5

Krötenpaar3  Krötenpaar2

Krötenpaar1

In the last pictures you can see pretty well how the females distribute their spawning cords. By the way, these can be 2-5m long! Hardly imaginable that they have space in such a small body.

Already a week later there was nothing to see from the spawn, but there was more tadpoles, as shown in the following picture.

One week after

I hope you enjoyed the little excursion to the Frog Pond.  How do you like toads and frogs? Do you like them, you find them disgusting? Do you have any of you in the garden pond? By the way, sharing and like my post is very much liked.

New Year in Japan

Today I want to tell you about my New Year in Japan. 2006, I went to Japan to study. Since you don’t even go home over the holidays, I also spent Christmas and New Year in Japan. My tandem partner invited me to go to the country with her family over New Year’s Eve. So we drove to Gifu by train.

At the train station

As at the end of the year the half of Tokyo’s population felt the family on the land, the trains were also full accordingly. Already at the station there were crowds, as I had never seen before. But unlike I know it from Germany there were no crowds and Geschupse at the platforms. No, you put yourself in the back and wait. and wait. and wait. The trains go differently depending on where you want to go.

and similar to ours, there are faster and slower trains that cost different things and can be used or not. If you have not reserved like us, then you stand until there is space in a train. That took us about two hours. If the train is full, you wait for the next one. From Germany I know only that you still get squeezed in.

New Year’s Eve in Japan

So after we arrived at the 31.12.2016 in Gifu, I was totally happy on New Year’s Eve. Finally see how it is celebrated in Japan. The parents of the girlfriend live in an old house in the countryside, which was still mostly quite classic, with wood and sliding doors. In the pictures you can see how the houses in the village looked from the outside. With the kimono photos you can see your house a little from the inside.

In this place my friend’s family lives

After the greeting I was allowed to look at the family heirloom, an old samurai. Look, do not touch, this was supposedly already many hundred years old (but looked like just recently made). Unfortunately I did not do this on any photo.

At about 5pm The father said goodbye, he’s going to sleep now. Yes, he always stands at 3 o’clock (he has his own company and has to go there early), so he always goes to bed early. Uh, on New Year’s? Yes, even on New Year’s Eve. But tomorrow we have a lot to do! Ok. What to say SA yet… At 8pm at one time the mother disappeared and at 10pm my girlfriend was asleep too! So I decided to sleep on the turn of the year too, and at 11pm the light was also made out.  So much then to the Japanese New Year’s traditions…

New Year in Japan

On the day of the year we drove to various temples and shrines. Somehow I can hardly remember, I was still so tired and so overwhelmed by the many impressions, that I could not remember the names where we were actually. Stop somewhere in Gifu.

 

As you can see, the weather was not so great. It has unfortunately rained often and much.  But anyway, it was very nice. All over the cranes were hung with paper-folded cranes.

And also otherwise everything was nicely decorated and set on visitors. There were also food stalls with dishes for us like Oktopusbällchen. or French dogs. If you try Google, you will find a lot of cute dog pictures in the image search. But don’t worry, no dogs were grilled!! I mean to remember that it was rather hot dogs, so buns with sausages. Correct me if I am mistaken…

Kimono, small car, no matter, everything expensive!

The next day we went to the family. My girlfriend and I should wear kimonos. She had her still from school graduation, I got one from her mother. 30 years old and hand painted. My girlfriend was also hand painted and at that time it cost around €15,000. Yes, the zeros are correct! In words “fifteen thousand”. I thought others would spend less on cars… I’m not supposed to worry, it’s all good, nothing can happen. And if I put in a spot, it only costs about 10,000 yen to remove it again (at that time that was around €70 at the current exchange rate). You can probably think how I felt, with the kimono of a strange woman to go to strange people and drink coffee and eat cakes… But luckily everything went well!

The dressing is a real art, by the way. You draw an almost transparent shirt over your own underwear (therefore no photo!), there is a kind of undershirt that is already tightly laced (forgive if I do not now all the names of all garments Google) before the actual kimono is tightened. And this is then tied with a very artfully knotted belt. Only the shoes were a little too small for me.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”14″ gal_title=”Kimono”]

Well, so much for my change of year in Japan. I hope you had some fun reading! And if you missed my previous posts, then look here: click

If you want, then tell me about your Japan experiences too! Maybe you’ve even spent New Year’s Eve in Japan or with Japanese friends? What did you do?

iPhone Photography- Photo Editing with Phone Apps

Today’s post is a Guest post from Marion. She is an author of the lifestyle magazine “Lifestyle Luxury Brigade“. In this post she will show us her favorite apps for smartphone photography and photography editing, especially iPhone apps.

With these apps you’ll make Smartphone pics like a Pro  

I am often asked „Marion, what camera do you use to make pictures?“ The looks on peoples faces are usually somewhat skeptical when I answer: “with an iPhone 8S”. Of course I also have a DSLR. But honestly? My best pictures are produced sporadically and unexpectedly.

I don’t always drag all of my equipment with me. For instance, on a walking safari through the Okavango Delta, I will only take an iPhone with me. Because I can climb better without a camera, in case I should run into some lions…

But how can you work with such a small lens and still make great pictures?

With photo editing. What Adobe Creative Suite is to professional photographers, is a small handful of great iPhone apps you can use to pep up and lightly correct your pictures.

These are my favorite apps for quick and professional photo editing:

Correct pictures on your phone

“Keep it simple”, I always say.  ( mach’s einfach). If you’re already taking pictures iwth your iPhone, you can just use the integrated correction features.

The nost important functions are the cropping of a picture frame and the light correction. Often a picture is just too dark, but with the “lighting” or “brilliance” features you can add more light to your picture quickly. For over exposed photos, just add more contrast and remove the reflex spots. These are small things to do, but with big impact on the end result.

The portrait function

Starting with verion 8.x the iPhone offeres the so called portrait function. Here you can adjust the depth focus and make the background out of focus, so that the viewer of the picture will look at whatever is focused, for example a face. But also petals and leaves. But be sure to pay attention to the distance to your objects. The function will show you, though, when you are standing at an optimal distance to your subject.

Great Filter App: MOLDIV

I have tried numerous filter apps. But MOLDIV has really stayed with me. The reason: the app is sufficiently capable in a free version, and doesnt annoy you with constant advertising or requests to upgrade. Here you can find a great vintage filter that makes new pics looks antique.

Blurring

Also the Blur feature from MOLDIV is helpful to place your piucture into correct focus. You can use this linearly or radially and can customize it. This can replace the portrait mode function of the 8S and 10. So if you have an iPhone 7 without the portrait mode, you can add an accent to your pictures.

Collage App: Video and Photos parallel in one photo Grid

Many bloggers and facebookers play with collages. At some point a collage caught my eye, which had a video playing in one corner and the rest was static pictures. How does that work? I asked myself; and after long searching I found the corresponding app for this. With Photo Grid you can make collages with photos and videos at once, and you give your posts an incredible dynamic.

HD Photography

A still hand or even a tripod are required for the app Fotor HDR MultiStyle HDR App. Here, two pictures are shot in succession and overlapped onto each other, where the depth of each photo combined then results in a razor sharp image.  This way you can make impressive HD pictures without an DSLR camrea.

Scale pictures without compromising quality

Whoever blogs, knows how slow a blog post can be when the pictures are uploaded in high resolution. You can control the bitrate on the iPhone, but then you may wind up with compromised images in terms of color brilliance or sharpness.

This is where I make a break from the iPhone Over to the PC and scale my pictures with before I uplaod them to a webpage. This app is only free up to the 1000th picture; after this there is a small monthly fee. But there are many alternatives, that you can simply try once you have exceeded the 1000 picture mark. This way you can continue to edit freely.

Canva – Great Collages and Layouts

Whoever doesnt have the budget to buy InDesign, can use the free version of Canva for making pretty layouts. You can select the formats to fit directly in the intended social media platform (layouts for instagram, facebook, twitter etc). This way you are sure that your posts are fitted to the platform. Here the PDF creation function is very good. If you would like to make an e-book available to your readers, you can use this PDF function with many graphical possibilities.

You can upload your own pictures and integrate them into the layout. And its really simple- you don’t need any prior graphics design knowledge.

The app for this is as a desktop and an iPhone version. For the PDF function I recommend working on the desktop, because you can simply see what you are doing better.

Great black & white effects and color pops

You can use to make a motive black and white and then recall certain parts of the image into color. This way I retouched the eyes of my cat in the image below, to be green again and left the rest of the image in BW. And trhis works with the touch of the fingertips! I find it amazing.

Have fun making pictures like a pro!

About the Author

Marion started to blog and suddenly, she had an entire online magazine! With her group of author friends she is the head of a diverse Lifestyle platform with many topics, all of which are focused on one central aspect: luxury.

Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo Asakusa

In my last post I showed you Asakusa in Tokyo, and I showed you the temples, but also some interesting streets. But what I didn’t tell you was that the famous “Sanja Matsuri” was taking place! A matsuri is a type of festival….

Festival goers dressed in summery clothing, yukata, Asakusa, Tokyo, Sanja Matsuri
Festival goers dressed in summery clothing (yukata)

Your trust in me is very important this article contains recommended links (affiliate-Links). If you book a hotel or buy a product via one of these links, I get a small commission. You aren’t charged extra, and at the same time you support this blog. Thank you! Tanja


The historic Sanja Matsuri (三社祭)

The Sanja Matsuri (literal meaning: Three-Temple-Festival) in Asakusa takes place every third weekend in May. During the Matsuri, respects are paid to the three founders of the Sensō-ji. If you want to read more about the founding of this temple, then you should first read the blog about Asakusa. The is also one of the three largest festivals in Tokyo. About 2 million festival goers take part from Friday to Sunday.

It was unbelievably full, but to realize that it could be so many people was really hard to believe. Maybe it eas hard to realize because it ran so smoothly and we never had the feeling of being mashed in a crowd.

Mikoshi, sanjs matsui, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Mikoshi
Mikoshi, sanjs matsui, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan



Booking.com

The festival goes back into the seventh century. In that time, it was also known as „Kannon Matsuri“ or „Asakusa Matsuri“. The current style of the Sanja Matsuris is still happening per tradition since the Edo Period. The construction of the Asakusa temple began in 1649 and as such laid the foundatin for the festival. Today almost 100 Mikoshi (miniature portable temples) are carried by the union of the local residents through the streets, being lifted and dropped in a rhythmic fashion. In the temples little Shinto-God figures, which are supposed to bring the residents and attendants good luck and good business. The Asakusa temple is the largest of the three Mikohi. These are displayed on Sunday.

The Sanja Matsuri Today

The festival begins on Friday with the Big Parade (Daigyōretsu, 大行列). Priests, city officials, musicians, geishas and dancers all participate, wearing costumes from the Edo-period. The parade ends at the Sensō-ji and Asakusa temple with a Shinto ceremony. After the ceremony a traditional dance is done, that is supposed to bring a bountiful harvest.  In the evening the first six Mikoshi are carried through the street.One such shrine weighs several hundred kilograms and is always carried by many men and sometimes women. Each group of the carriers wears the festival costume, called a Happi. But there are also differences within the groups, so newcomers to the group are wearing distinct jackets compared to the seasoned participants.

People carry a mikoshi, sanja matsuri, asakusa, tokyo, japan
Carrying a Mikoshi is hard work
People carry a mikoshi, sanja matsuri, asakusa, tokyo, japan
A Mikoshi on the streets of Asakusas

On Saturday the nearly 100 Mikoshi from the 44 neighborhoods in the area are carried through the districts. The carriers bring to the Sensō-ji and Asakusa-Temple, where they are blessed, before they are then carried back into their places of residence. That is where they are supposed to harbor their luck and good fortunes.

As mentioned the three most important Mikoshi are carried through the cities on Sunday. Sunday activities begin at 6 am. Hundreds of celebrating participants, joined as neighborhood groups, compete to have the honor of carrying one of the three important Mikoshi. Visitors are not allowed to visit the temple during these festivals during this time. The three main temples are carried through the streets starting at about 8 am and through all 44 neighborhoods, before returning to Sensō-ji.


Qatar AirwaysAround the Sanja Matsuri

During the Sanja Festival relatives also take an important place. As you saw in the blog about Asakusa, you can buy a lot to eat at the Nakamise Dori. In addition there are more stands around the temple grounds. We ate a good breakfast, but I still wanted to try a portion of Takoyaki at all costs! The squid balls tasted really good, but other things weren’t as delicious by comparison. Some of the drink stands try to sell really odd drinks to the customers, like „Blood conserver“ (Tenteki Juice) or colorful drinks in lightbulbs.

Colorful juice in lightbulbs
Takoyaki
Takoyaki
Takoyaki – octopus balls

 While meandering around we saw a small stage, where musicians were seated and playing music using traditional instruments. Geishas also made appearances, but we somehow missed this. It would have cost money to see them anyway.

Musicians of the Sanja Matsuri

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In one of the shopping strips there was a Mikoshi that I could look at closely. They are really extremely detailed and decorated with wonerdful embellishments. Often there are pictures, like of cranes on them.

Details on a Mikoshi
Details on a Mikoshi

Even when the three days had nearly 2 million visitors, i somehow never felt like it was uncomfortable or full. The Düsseldorf carneval at  is definitely far worse in this respect! If you ever have the chance, you should definitely view these three Matsuri! In 2019 it takes place again on 17-19th of May.

Do you know the Sanja Matsuri, or were you already at a Matsuri festival in Japan? Leave me a note about it. And if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it!

My ultimate Must-Sees list of Asakua, Tokyo

Asakusa (jap. 浅草, pronounced Asak’sa, flat grass) lies just east of the center of the Taitō region. This area is known above all for being home to the oldest buddhist temple in Tokyo, Sensō-ji (浅草寺).

In the neighboring Asakusa-shrine (jap. 浅草神社, Asakusa-jinja) the three men who are credited with building of the Sensō-ji are remembered.

Map of Asakusa
Over the Rooftops of Asakusa

Your trust in me is very important! This article contains recommended links (Affiliate-Links). If you book a hotel or buy a product via one of these links, I get a small commission. You arent charged extra, and at the same time you support this blog. Thank you! Tanja


History of Asakusas

Legend has it, that in the year 628, 2 fishermen brother fished out a small statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon in the Sumida river.  After they repeatedly threw it back into the river, but continued to re-catch it in their net, the village head realized the statue must be holy. As a result, a temple was made for the statue, the Sensō-ji, where the statue is still revered to this day. Over the years the temple was repeatedly destroyed, and re-built. It served as the main temple for various sects, but is today the house of its own display.

In 1649 Tokugawa Iemitsu created the Asakusa Shrine, to honor the three men who built the Sensō-ji. Today the shrine is the stage for many Matsuris, and the Sanja-Matsuri is one of the three largest in Tokyo.

Up until the second world war the Asakusa region was known as a cultural center, with lots of Kabuki- and Rakugo theaters. After the Meiji-Restoration, though, more and more western theaters appeared here and also later cinemas. After the end of WW2 other regions like Shinjuku have since taken over the claim to be eastern cultural centers.

The temple layout of Asakusa

Maybe it has occurred to those who looked at the japanese writing more closely that the symbols for Sensō-ji and Asakusa appear very similar. This is not coincidence, because senso is an alternative reading of the symbol for Asakusa. „Ji“ means temple.

In front of the temple is a 250m long street, that is surrounded by many little shops, called Nakamise Shopping Street (仲見世商店街). The little shops contain souvenirs, food, instruments, porcelain, chopsticks and much more. When you stop at the Asakusa station, you automatically enter this tourist spot. Just follow the masses of people toward the Kaminarimon (雷門). The tourist street is just behind this.

Kaminarimon, Thunder Gate, Asakusa, Japan
Kaminarimon, the Thunder Gate
Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa, Japan
Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa, Japan
Nakamise Shopping Street

The actual temple territory starts at Hōzōmon (宝蔵門). West of the (from the right) of the gate is the 53m tall Five Storey Pagoda (五重塔), Hondo (main hall, 本堂) of the Sensō-ji. The Hōzōmon is somewhat smaller than the thunder gate, but still just as impressive. East of this is the actual Asakusa-Temple. We skipped this on our tour so there aren’t any special pictures of it here.

Hōzōmon, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Hōzōmon
Five Storey Pagode, Asakusa, Japan, Tokyo
Five Storey Pagoda
Hondo (Main hall) of the Sensō-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
View of the Hondo (Main hall) of the Sensō-ji


The temple als has a small park area, where many smaller buddhist temples and statues can be found. Of course there are also many small ponds and lakes, where you can see colorful koi carps – so don’t miss the park while you’re there!

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Creek in the Park of Sensō-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Creek in the Park of Sensō-ji in Asakusa

Hours of operation:
Main hall: 6:00-17:00 (April-Sept.) and 6:30 -17.00 (Okt.-März)
Temple: Always open

Entrance:
Free

What else is in Asakusa?

I’m not a fan of rushing from one tourist attraction to the next. Usually you find nice things around the corner of each attraction. Asakusa offers more than just the temple grounds; many little streets are inviting to explore. If you are hungry, you can find many restaurants.

In the Hanayashiki (花やしき) recreatinal park you can ride a carousel or rollercoaster. The Hanayashiki amusement park is the oldest amusement park in Japan. Entrance is 1000 yen, but each attraction needs to be paid separately for (additional 100 yen) – however you can get a Free Ride Pass and then you don’t have to pay for the carousel.  Since I’m not a particular fan of amusement parks, my boyfriend either – we didn’t visit this one. We instead looked at many Manga and Anime shops.

Many small and covered shopping streets welcome you to relax and spend your money. Here are many shops and restaurants again. Well regardless of anything, you’ll never go hungry in Japan.

Getting to Askusa

Using Tokyo Metro: Stop Asakusa Station (Route: Ginza oder Asakusa Tram) Careful: The Tokyo 24 ticket does not include the Asakusa stop!
With Skytree Line: Stop Asakusa
With Tsukuba Express: Stop Asakusa Station (not the same as Metro Station)

Metro Map of Tokyo, on the top right there is Asakusa

Hotel-Tips Asakusa

Up to 50€: Hostels with a common sleeping area
Bunka Hostel Tokyo
K’s House Tokyo – Backpackers Hostel

Up to 150€
Richmond Hotel Premier Asakusa International
Wired Hotel

Above 150€
B:CONTE Asakusa
The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic
Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu



Booking.com

Have you ever been to Asakusa or other places in Tokyo? What are your must sees in Asakusa? Please leave a comment and don’t forget to share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest or Flipboard.


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Super delicious recipe for gorgeous spiced cream

It’s December and Christmas is coming. Outside it is cold and this year there is also some snow. In the evening you like to sit by candlelight with biscuits and tea on the couch and read a good book or watch TV. I like to eat spiced, because you could stand on the shelf all year round! That’s why I was so excited when I discovered the Edeka spiced cream!

Spiced Cream

And when searching the internet for other manufacturers I came across some great recipes to make myself. Since most of them included a lot of sugar, I changed my a little bit. You should reckon with about 20-30 minutes for the preparation (depending on how fast you get the biscuits small).

Spiced Cream

Ingredients for the spiced cream

Instead of cream, you can also take condensed milk. But do not take less liquid, otherwise it becomes more of a spiced rubber than a cream (I know what I am talking about…)
First, the biscuits are ground as fine as possible. I only have a magic wand, so it takes quite a long time. Tip: First cover the bowl with a cloth so that the biscuit crumbs do not fly throughout the kitchen. With a stand mixer or a coffee grinder it should go significantly faster (if your coffee grinder is not as small as ours).

Spiced Cream

Next, butter, cream and sugar are heated together in the pot or microwave until the butter is completely liquid. Stir the sugar well. Now mix everything with the spiced spice and the crushed biscuits and stir very well until everything produces a creamy mass.

The finished cream is now refilled in jars and stored in the refrigerator. It is best to get it from the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before you eat it, so that it is no longer as hard as it gets. By the way, with beautifully decorated glasses This makes a great gift for Santa Claus or Christmas!

Spiced Cream

Spiced Cream

You like the recipe? Please share the post on Facebook and most important, pin it at Pinterest! Thank you very much!


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How do you live in…? Melanie from Iver

Welcome to my new series “How do you live in…?”. So many of us would like to live abroad and get an insight into everyday life in other countries. There’s not much to see on holiday of the daily live. The idea for this series came to me when I read on Spiegel.de a report about German idiosyncrasies and how this affects non-Germans living with us. I was wondering what of the things that are so natural to us might be different anywhere else.

That’s why I’ve been looking for volunteers in various Facebook groups to tell us about their everyday lives. We get an insight into different countries, professions and customs. Melanie from Iver in Great Britain is the the first who wrote me about her life. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do!

Melanie from Iver

My name is Melanie and I live in Iver, Buckinghamshire, England. Iver is a small village located 17 miles/30km to the east of London. It is a green, leafy sleepy village perfect for those looking for a quiet life.

I work in London and also study part time via distance learning. I work with adults with learning disabilities and I am training to become an educational psychologist- that is a psychologist who works to diagnose those with learning disabilities. I am studying for my MSc in Psychology, and then I will complete my PhD to be fully qualified.

Getting to London takes a long time from the village. Luckily, the bus which takes me to the tube (subway) station stops right outside my house so I don’t have far to go. Sadly it only runs every half an hour so I have to be sure I am ready on time or else I will be late! It takes around twenty minutes to get to the tube station, then another hour to get to my place of work- which also means another bus! I currently live with family as this is the only way I could afford to study toward my dream, so the commute is a necessary one.

I have lived in many different towns and cities in England including London and Manchester. I have also lived in the USA- In Wisconsin whilst I was studying for my first degree. It was interesting to note that a lot of people thought the US and the UK are similar- but I would have to disagree! The UK is a very unique place to live- a blend of many customs and cultures from our rich history.

 

Daily Life

A typical week for me is a mixture of work, home life and blogging. I work Monday to Friday and blog three times a week. On the weekends I see my boyfriend, who lives in London, and spend time with family. We usually go out for a meal together. On occasion I also see friends but not that often as they live far from the village. In the UK it is customary to meet friends at their home, but sometimes we will meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or restaurant. I always try to arrive early, but my friends are usually late!

I have always wanted to visit Germany and am hoping to visit Berlin later in the year for a few days. Germany fascinates me with its rich history. In particular I am intrigued by its history of engineering- the best cars are German! I imagine German people to be very organised and methodical because of this, but fun too! I am excited to meet some when I visit to see if this is true or not.

Contrary to popular belief, the most common dish in the UK is Curry- not fish and chips. There is no curry house in the village so if I want a curry I have to go to another local village. My step mum is friends with the owner so we are guaranteed amazing food every time! That being said I am a fan of fish and chips.

As I mentioned, I live with my family. That is my dad, step mum and our dog- Duke. He is an English bulldog and very silly. There are lots of different types of family in the UK- Single parents, those with many siblings and those who live with extended family such as grandparents and aunts/uncles. I would say there is no longer a typical family such as two adults and two children in the UK. It is common for grown up children to live at home due to escalating house prices. The south east of England is the most expensive place in the country to live.

What else is there in Iver?

The most famous place here is Pinewood Studios. This is where they film Harry Potter and James Bond- even parts of The Avengers! Many people from the village work at the studio. There are many beautiful places to visit here. We live next door to three big parks- Black Park, Langley Park and Richings Park. All are incredibly beautiful and worth a visit. There is also a charming English Pub called The Red Lion which has a Michelin starred chef. The perfect place to relax after a long country walk. Its one of the only places in the village to offer Free WI-FI, everywhere else you are reliant on your own data. The internet is pretty fast here even though we are a small village, which is just as well given I am a blogger!

I blog over at christiancareergirl.com. It’s a lifestyle blog aimed at single Christian women covering everything from fashion to beauty to bible study. Faith is an important part of my life and I love being able to share it with the world via my blog. I only started it two months ago but its growing quickly- I would love for you to come and check it out!