Halloumi Burger – The Mediterranean Burger Fun

Halloumi Burger – The Mediterranean Burger Fun

Halloumi Burger – The Mediterranean Burger Fun

Today comes the second recipe on Barbaralicious. Since I can’t travel at the moment like I did in the past, I try to satisfy my wanderlust with culinary dishes. Today I will continue with another dish that reminds me of Israel: Halloumi burgers with vegetable sticks!

Portions

2

Ready in

40 Minutes

Calories

ca. 1000

Level

Easy

About this recipe

Halloumi is a semi-solid cheese from the Mediterranean area. It is popular in Greece and Turkey, but I have eaten it mostly in Israel. It is made from cow, sheep, or goat milk. Sometimes also from a mixture of these milks. It is also often called grilled cheese. As a vegetarian burger patty, I find it particularly tasty and would like to introduce this Mediterranean, slightly oriental burger to you today.

Ingredients

  • 1 Halloumi
  • Potatoes
  • 2 Carrots
  • Sweet Potato
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Heart Lettuce
  • 1 Red Onion
  • Burger Buns
  • Creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 2 tsp Mustard
  • Olive Oil
Halloumi Burger
Ingredients Halloumi Burger

Preparation

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees circulating air. Peel the potatoes, the sweet potato, and the carrots and cut them into sticks 1-2 centimeters thick each. Put them on a baking tray after you have stirred them in olive oil with salt. On the middle shelf, they need 25-30 minutes.

Step 4

In the last 3 to 5 minutes of the baking time of the sticks, put the burger buns in the oven. They will be golden brown and taste better.

Step 2

When the sticks are in the oven, it’s the burger topping’s turn. Cut the halloumi into about 2 centimeters thick slices. Then also cut the tomato into slices and the onion into rings. Peel the lettuce leaves.

Step 5

Fry the Halloumi in a large pan at medium heat. After about two minutes you can add the onion rings and fry them.

Step 3

For the dressing and the dip, mix mustard and honey in the creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper and stir until smooth.

Step 6

Now it’s time to put the things together: Put some of the mustard-honey dip on one half of a bun and put lettuce leaves, tomato slices, onion rings, and the halloumi on the bun. The sticks taste twice as good with the dip!

Ingredients Halloumi Burger
Fries and Veggie Sticks in the oven
Halloumi Burger

The yummy dinner with

Mediterranean Feeling is ready!

Tips

Tip 1

If you get fresh beetroot, you can add it to the vegetable sticks. Tastes also super yummy in the mix!

Tip 2

Be careful with the sticks so that they do not touch each other when in the oven. Then they turn out crispier.

Halloumi Burger with Fries and Veggie Sticks

Blog Posts

As a travel blogger I have of course written a few blog posts about the countries where people eat dishes with Halloumi. I mainly spent some time in Israel, but I also visited the West Bank, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Here you can browse a bit through the “Halloumi countries” and travel there in your thoughts.

The Fortress of Masada

Judean Desert, Israel

Petra & Jerash Jordan
Photo Spots in Dubai Dubai, UAE

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Messel Pit – A journey through time with fossils

Messel Pit – A journey through time with fossils

Messel Pit – A journey through time with fossils

The Messel pit exerts an immense fascination. Fossils, 48 million years of earth history, excavations, etc. All of these are things that one would not expect to find just around the corner. And yet sometimes the good things are so close. Because here you can discover all these. On the observation platform you can let your gaze wander over the pit, which lies so quietly there. You can inform yourself in the visitor center and even get into a virtual elevator that takes you down the borehole and sends you on a time travel. Or you can take a guided tour of the pit itself.

Although I knew about the Messel pit, I only made it here this year. What I experienced there, I have summarized for you here:

How to get there

  • By car: The Messel pit is very easy to reach by car. It is located near the exit Darmstadt Weiterstadt on the A5. The address is Roßdörfer Str. 108 in 64409 Messel. The parking lot at the visitor center is big enough and since you have to register in advance for a tour, there should really be no space problems.
  • By train: Take the 75 train line to Messel station. From there it is about a two kilometer walk to the Messel Mine Visitor Center or take the bus line that follows.
  • By bus: Take the F/U line bus from Darmstadt (or even from Messel train station) to the bus stop “Grube Messel – Besucherzentrum Grube Messel” at Landesstraße 3317. From there it is about 500 meters by foot.

 

The Messel Pit

The Messel pit has a history that goes back more than 150 years. And it dates back to a time when it was not clear what kind of treasure it contained.

Blick in die Grube Messel

 

Beginnings and mining

The history of the Messel Mine begins with the construction of a grass iron ore mine in 1859. Ore was mined first, then lignite and then oil shale, which was discovered after some time. This was then smoldered by the specially founded Messel trade union, which was necessary to extract oil from it. Until 1971, the year the mine was closed, the focus was on the mining of oil shale. The pit was closed because oil extraction was becoming increasingly unprofitable and therefore oil shale was no longer needed.

In the meantime, however, fossils have been found again and again during the excavation work.

 

 

Landfill vs. excavation site

Coincidentally, at a time when the extraction of oil shale was already unprofitable, a location for a waste disposal site was being sought in southern Hesse. The Messel pit met all the criteria and since at that time it was not yet known what the value and extent of the fossil finds would be, the choice was made quickly. This would have automatically led to the end of the excavations. But when more and more finds were made by fossil collectors during private excavations after the end of mining, some scientists realized what an incredible treasure they had right under their noses.

The Senkenberg Research Institute intervened and scientific work was carried out, which underlined the importance of the Messel pit. What followed was a 20-year struggle at both bureaucratic and political levels.

 

 

UNESCO World Heritage Messel Pit

In the end, the state of Hesse bought the pit for over 30 million marks and transferred the operation to the Senkenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft. Since then, oil shale has been mined there officially and for scientific purposes. In 1994, the Hessian Ministry of Science and Culture submitted an application for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as it had become clear in the meantime what an inestimable value the mine has for science. It is unique worldwide. So it was not surprising that the application was granted the following year and the Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

The viewing platform on the southern slope was built in 1997 and with it the management of the mine was started. The visitor center followed 13 years later.

 

On time travel

The fossil finds in the Messel pit allow us an extraordinary view into the past 48 million years. They cover a wide range of plants and animals. For example, 200 plant species and more than 30 genera of mammals have been found fossilised. Some species could even only be described in more detail through the fossil finds in the Messel Pit.

The preservation in the oil shale is incredibly good. So good that in some cases stomach contents could be determined, allowing conclusions to be drawn about nutrition. With insects even the veins in the wings or the coloring of the carapace are visible. Usually such details are lost when something becomes a fossil. But in the Messel Pit the condition is uniquely good.

However, there is a conservation problem. Because the soft oil shale cracks enormously quickly as soon as it dries. Then it becomes flaky and crumbles. Since the 1960s, it has fortunately been possible to re-bed the fossils on synthetic resin and thus save them. Otherwise they would have to be stored permanently in a liquid, which is also done for demonstration purposes during guided tours.

Here are some impressions of the fossils you will be shown during the guided tour. The first picture shows fossilized excrements and the second picture are photos of fossils. On the last picture you can clearly see that the oil shale is still wet.

Fossilien in der Grube Messel 2

Fossilien in der Grube Messel 3

Fossilien in der Grube Messel

 

The Visitor Center of the Messel pit

In 2003 the question arose how the Messel pit should present itself. In addition, there were numerous visitors and of course we wanted to meet their expectations. But a museum did not fit here, that was clear to everyone. So the state of Hesse drew up a plan and tried to find a new, suitable concept. The result is a meeting and exchange place between science and the public.

The visitor center offers a glimpse into the 48 million years of the earth’s history, which is opened to us by the Messel pit.

Here you will find all your questions answered and, in addition to information boards and exhibits, an elevator that takes you on a time travel into the depths – the elevator virtually drives into the borehole that has revived the past world for us. Here are some impressions from the Visitor Center at Messel Pit:

Rohr Grube Messel

Kopf des Urpferdchens Grube Messel

Informationszentrum Grube Messel

Im Informationszentrum der Grube Messel – Gesteine in der Grube Messel

 

 

Guided tours

Of course you can see all this with your own eyes. Guided tours take place regularly, but must be booked online on the website of Grube Messel: Guided tours in Messel colliery.

The tours are usually done on foot and last from 1.5 hours. You should definitely bring sturdy shoes and, depending on the weather, sun protection. The pit is a veritable cauldron where the sun just burns. As half Sicilian, I felt at home there. But the normal Central European does not cope with the heat and the blazing sun so well. A cap, sunscreen, and possibly long clothes to protect yourself are advisable.

Some tours also include a guided tour of the Visitor Center. Otherwise, you can also book a ticket (with or without a guide) for the Visitor Center: Tickets Messel Pit.

If you just want to have a look, you can also just go to the viewing platform on the southern slope. It is freely accessible and you do not need a ticket to have a look into the pit from there.

Aussichtsplattform Grube Messel

 

Other excursion destinations in the vicinity

A visit to the Messel pit can be combined with a wonderful hike to the Kranichstein hunting lodge. The circular trail has a length of 16 kilometers and even if the Messel Pit is not on the way, it is only a small detour. I did the round for you and you can download the GPX data of my tour at Komoot here: Kranichsteiner forest path in modified form.

Kranichsteiner Schloss

If you like hiking and want to explore other regions, I can recommend to visit the Pfälzerwald, the Spessart or the Taunus. Blogposts will follow for these regions. So far I can only refer you to my blog post about Staufen im Taunus outside the Odenwald.

If you want to make a city trip in this part of Germany, I recommend the following cities:

  • Aschaffenburg: Aschaffenburg is called the gate to the Spessart. Besides the (partly very photogenic) sights like the Aschaffenburg Castle, which the city itself has to offer, you can also reach the forest quickly from here and can let off steam on many hiking trails.
  • Heidelberg: Heidelberg is located directly on the Neckar and offers a picturesque backdrop with the river, the old town, and the castle on the mountain. Here you will also find the ideal mixture of city and countryside.
  • Lohr am Main: Lohr am Main was first mentioned in a document in 1295 and is generally known as Snow White town. It is not documented that the girl who was to be killed because of her beauty was Lohr, but it is quite possible. The Brothers Grimm lived not far from Aschaffenburg, in Hanau, and on their way towards Bremen they also passed by in the Spessart, so they might have been inspired by the city of Lohr.
  • Mannheim: The square city is worth a visit at any time. Whether inside or outside, there is always something to do or experience here.
  • Michelstadt: The historical old town with the famous town hall and the half-timbered houses is simply enchanting. My tip: Take a photo tour to the sunrise when you have the cobblestone streets all to yourself! Near Michelstadt there are a lot of hiking trails, so that you won’t get bored.
  • Miltenberg: The small town in Lower Franconia is located between Odenwald and Spessart and is a real gem. The old town is picturesque and even the starting point of several hiking trails. The Mildenburg and the Museum of the City of Miltenberg offers the culturally interested among us the opportunity to quench their thirst for knowledge.

 

My equipment

On my tours I am mainly on the road with clothes and equipment from Decathlon*. My hiking boots for example are these: Waterproof half-height hiking boots*. In general, if you are a regular hiker or outdoor enthusiast, I recommend that you get some appropriate clothing and shoes. In case of emergency, normal sneakers will do as long as they give you a good grip and you can handle them if they get dirty. On hikes like the one in the Margarethen Gorge, this can happen faster than you can look.

Wanderschuhe von Decathlon

I would also recommend protection for your cell phone. I got a nice scratch when I was walking in the Margarethenschlucht gorge. Even though my cell phone didn’t fall down or bump into anything. At least not consciously. Therefore I have now provided with an outdoor case: Outdoor Case iPhone*.

By the way, I take my pictures with a Sony Alpha 6500*. I usually switch between my two favourite lenses: a 10-18mm wide-angle lens* and a 30mm fixed focal length*. In case you’ve ever wondered how I take pictures of myself even though I’m often on the road alone: I have a Rollei tripod*.

 

My conclusion

The Messel Pit is an exciting place for all those who want to embark on a journey through the history of the earth. I admit, the subject is not always tangible and many things are hard to imagine. Be it from the technical and scientific side or simply in the imagination of such a completely different person in a time before Homo Sapiens. My imagination was put to the test in every case.

Nevertheless, the visit to the Messel pit was a unique experience for me. Of course, there is nowhere else in the world like it!

Have you ever been to the Messel pit? Tell me about it in the comments!

Deine Barbara

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Malta Sights – 14 Must Sees in Malta

Malta Sights – 14 Must Sees in Malta

Malta Sights – 14 Must Sees in Malta

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I’ve already been in Malta in 2019. Unfortunately it was only a short trip through the island state, so I didn’t get the chance to write about it. Therefore I was very happy about the invitation of Visit Malta and even extended the three-day press trip at my own expense. I spent one week there this time, so that I can see the sights in Malta and write about them for you.

Malta – An island state in the south of Europe

Less than 100 kilometres from the Italian island of Sicily lies the state with the fifth highest population density: Malta. The Republic consists of seven islands, three of which are inhabited: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. The main island, i.e. named after the country itself, which can sometimes be confusing, is by far the largest island in the archipelago, covering 246 square kilometres. Gozo has about 67 square kilometres, while Comino has only three square kilometres. The uninhabited islands are called Cominotto, Filfla, St. Paul’s Island, and Fungus Rock. 80% of Malta’s 500,000 inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of Valletta, the country’s capital.

Barbara in Rabat Malta

The country is a super interesting mix of Italian, British, and Arabic influences. This can be seen in the language, the culture, and also in tangible things like the architecture. Especially I, as half Sicilian see strong parallels to my second home. Maybe that’s why I feel so comfortable there and even the intense heat has hardly affected me. But you should definitely keep that in mind when planning and preparing your trip and then on site.

Malta Sights

There is an incredible amount to see in Malta. Although the country is so small, you can spend a week here and you will still not have seen everything that Malta has to offer. The great thing is that they are very different things, so there is something for everyone: whether you are more into city trips or nature, art or history, beach potatoes or fully active with cool outdoor activities… There really is something for everyone in Malta.

So let’s get started right away with my 14 tips for sightseeing in Malta:

Valletta

Valletta is the capital of Malta and the place to be if you want to make your way through the urban jungle. There are museums, cafés, parks and lots of streets to stroll along.

Valletta

My personal favorite in Valletta is the Upper Barrakka Gardens. This is a park with panoramic views of the water and the Grand Harbour. Every day at 12 o’clock and 16 o’clock a salute is fired from one of the oldest still used cannons in the world. With the almost 500 years old so-called Saluting Battery, a little history comes to life. In the past, these cannons protected the harbor. Later they were used for salute shots on anniversaries or holidays. Since the beginning of the 19th century, they were used to indicate the exact time. Every day at noon the salute was fired and the sailors could adjust their chronographs accordingly.

Kanonenschuss & Salut Valletta

Apart from that, I simply enjoyed walking through the streets, many of which are beautifully decorated, have colourful doors and balconies and are simply eerily photogenic. If you want to immerse yourself in history a little, you can also visit some of the houses. For example, I visited Casa Rocca Piccola, a still inhabited 16th century palace of a Maltese noble family. That was both exciting and impressive.

My tip: Apart from that I can strongly recommend you to get out of bed at least once very early and be at the Waterfront in Sliema at sunrise. It is simply dreamlike how quiet Valletta lies there in the morning hours.

Valletta von Sliema im Sonnenaufgang

 

Three Cities

The three cities of Birgu (or Vittoriosa), Senglea, and Cospicua in Malta are commonly known as The Three Cities. The oldest of the three is Birgu, which was founded before the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were both founded in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Order of Saint John. The Three Cities are surrounded by the Cottonera Line and several other fortifications.

Vittoriosa

I’ve been to the Three Cities twice:

The first time with a tour. I drove through the streets with Rolling Geeks in an open electric car. That was really cool and a unique way to explore the Three Cities!

The second time I came back alone and took some photos in the insanely photogenic old town of Vittoriosa.

My tip: For only 2€ you can take the boat from Vittoriosa to Valletta. This is not only cheap and practical, but also gives you a new perspective on the cities and the harbor. You can also park relatively easily at the Three Cities. So if you have a rental car, you can simply park it there and spend the rest of the day walking and boating. This works out really well and also saves nerves when looking for a parking space.

 

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is a fishing village in the south of Malta. The village is cute and you can take really nice pictures from the right end of the beach promenade. Postcard motif guaranteed!

Marsaxlokk

Barbara in Marsaxlokk

You will also find the typical colourful doors again, in front of which you can take really nice photos.

Along the promenade you can enjoy a cool down in one of the many restaurants. Directly below the church on the promenade, there is also a regular market. This is the opportunity to stock up on souvenirs from Malta!

St. Peter’s Pool

The St. Peter’s Pool is the most famous natural pool in Malta. It owes this fame to its water: it is very clear and radiant turquoise blue. I could even see a lot of fish swimming in the water. Especially snorkelers, will find their Malta paradise here. If you are more of a beach potato and prefer to bury your feet in the sand, I have a few tips for you below!

By the way, you can combine a trip to Marsaxlokk and to St. Peter’s Pool wonderfully. From the beach promenade in Marsaxlokk, boats also go to St. Peter’s Pool, so you don’t even have to drive there by car. The path is partly a little narrow and there are many potholes. If that doesn’t scare you off, you can also go there directly: It’s a pretty big parking lot two minutes’ walk from St. Peter’s Pool.

St Peters Pool

 

Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto for me was one of the must-see lakes in Malta par excellence. For 8 euros, you can go in with a boat. Unfortunately, the boats didn’t run due to bad weather when I was in Malta in 2019. So I was looking forward to catching up this time. But I have to admit that my expectations were a bit disappointed. Maybe it was because of the time of day. Unfortunately, there was no light that made the grotto glow a nice blue. In any case, the grotto was simply black and dark.

Blue Grotte Ablegestelle

Blue Grotto von oben

My tip: Take pictures from above. There is a viewpoint above the Blue Grotto from which you can take nice photos. I would save the 8 Euros next time… Instead you can invest in a cool kayak tour, for example with MC Adventure.

Kajak Malta

 

Hagar Qim-Temple Complex

Hagar Quim is one of the five large temple complexes in Malta. The megalithic temples are over 3000 years old and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Since 2009 Hagar Quim is covered by a tent to protect it from the weather. If you are interested in temples and ancient history, Hagar Qim is definitely a must-see. Otherwise, you can simply walk the hiking trail that leads around the temple complex.

Hagar Quim Tempelanlage

Hagar Quim

Dingli Cliffs

The Dingli cliffs are a cliff formation on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. They tower up to 253 metres high – and are thus the highest point of the Maltese islands.

Barbara bei den Dingli Cliffs

Above the Dingli cliffs there is a chapel and a dome-shaped complex. This is a former Royal Air Force radar station, which is now used by air traffic control.

My tip: Do not drive directly to the cliffs, but to the Dingli Cliffs Viewpoint. From there, you have a great view over the cliffs. And if you like hiking, you can do a mega beautiful hike right at the edge of the cliffs. Between Migra I-Ferha (you can park there) and Il-Blata tal-Melh there are small trails. At sunrise, the light is especially beautiful and the heat is not so strong anymore. But be careful and be back in the car before dark!

Barbara Wandern Malta

Ghar Dalam Cave

Għar Dalam is Maltese (which by the way, is a mixture of Italian and Arabic) and is called Cave of Darkness. It is a naturally formed cavity under the earth and it is located in the southeast of Malta. The cave is up to 18 meters wide, up to 8 meters high and leads about 145 meters into the rocks. Here you can see fossils as well as the cave itself.

Ghar Dalam Cave

Catacombs

Have you ever visited catacombs? I have been to Palermo and Rome in such underground tombs, but those in Malta seemed to be much larger. There are several catacombs in Malta, but I looked at the one in Rabat, which is the largest system of tombs in the archipelago at 1.5 square kilometers: The St. Paul’s Catacombs, which originated around 350.

Katakomben Malta Rabat

Eingang Katakomben Rabat Malta

The entrances above ground looks a bit like small guardhouses. There are 30 of them, but not all of them are accessible. There are steps leading down to the depths. While the part above ground always looks the same, the underground rooms differ greatly in their dimensions, height, and the type of graves. But you can see these differences by means of a display board, so that you always know what is coming up. By the way, every catacomb has a panic button in case of emergency.

My tip: After you have been in the catacombs, I recommend a walk through the sweet old town of Rabat. Here, sweet streets and a beautiful church await you. If you walk towards Mdina (next point), you should not miss the freshly baked pastizzi in Is-Serkin. Pastizzi are typical Maltese dumplings filled with either spinach or ricotta. They are a bit greasy but super delicious. Besides, they only cost around 50 cents.

Mdina

Mdina was the capital of Malta until 1571 and looks back on a history of about 3000 years. The city was already founded in the Bronze Age. In the past, it was not only the geographical but also the cultural centre of the island. Mdina owes its nickname, Silent CIty, to the fact that the citizens did not want to live here anymore after Valletta became the new capital. So peace and quiet returned to the bustle of Mdina, even though the noble families and clergymen still stayed there. Today the city has only about 200 inhabitants. These may still drive into the old town by car, but for everyone else, this is not allowed.

Mdina Malta

Stadttor Mdina Malta

So you can enjoy this photogenic old town for the most part without cars. The alleys are ideal for strolling and the many colorful doors invite you to take beautiful photos.

My tip: Come as early as possible to avoid the masses. After your tour, I recommend the chocolate cake at the Fontanella: it is said to be the best chocolate cake in Malta and you can treat yourself to it on the city wall with a view of the plain.

Schokokuchen im Fontanella

 

Ghajn Tuffieha Viewpoint

The Ghajn Tuffieha Viewpoint is only accessible by hiking trails. It is located between Riviera Bay and Karraba Bay. On the right side is also Golden Bay. Between these three bays hiking trails lead over breathtaking cliffs to the Ghajn Tuffieha Viewpoint to the Clay Cliffs. Especially at sunset, this scenery offers great photo motives and just a dreamlike atmosphere to end the day. By the way, you can park your car wonderfully here: Parkplatz zwischen Golden Bay and Riviera Bay. Then I would go to Ghajn Tuffieha Tower. From there you can either go down to Golden Bay, back again and to Riviera Bay or you can walk along the hiking trails to the cliffs.

Ghajn Tuffieha Viewpoint

Barbara Ghajn Tueffieha Viewpoint

My tip: beach potatoes get their money’s worth here as well as hikers. So why not combine both? Spend the day at the beach and start walking approximately two hours before sunset in order to experience the cliffs in the brilliant light. But attention! You should plan enough time to get back to the car. After dusk you can still do gymnastics in the cliffs, which can be very dangerous!

 

Mellieha

Mellieha is a small town in the north of the main island Malta. You definitely have to pass through there if you want to go to Gozo. Although Mellieha is really small, there is a lot to discover here:

The parish church Mellieħa is built in baroque style with traditional Maltese stone and dates from the 19th century. The church has five bells that were brought to Malta from Milan. The main attraction are the five paintings of the famous Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì. I personally find them impressive, especially from the outside.

Parish Church Mellieha

The Red Tower is actually called St. Agatha’s Tower. It watches over the bay from Mellieħa. It was built as a communication post on the coast to keep in touch with the towers on Gozo. It could hold 30 soldiers. It offers a breathtaking view to Gozo on one side and over Mellieha Bay on the other.

Red Tower Malta

Then there is also the White Tower, which was built in 1658. It is also a small watchtower overlooking the bay of Armier. It is one of 13 watchtowers built under the rule of Grand Master Martin de Redin to defend the Maltese coast. In 2009, it was handed over to the local council as part of the cultural heritage of the region.

 

Popeye Village

Popeye Village is located on the coast near Mellieha and is a small village built for the Popeye movie with Robin Williams in the 80s. The film set was not demolished after the end of the filming but was kept as a tourist attraction. Here different reenactments of actors are waiting. Beach facilities in Anchor Bay, a cinema, and restaurant. There is an entrance fee. If you just want to see the village, you can do so from the other side of the bay. There you will find one of the most famous photo spots on the island.

Popeye Village Malta

 

Coral Beach & Devil’s Hole

The last sight in Malta that I would like to recommend is the Coral Beach with the so-called Devil’s Hole. For this, you have to go to the northernmost tip of the main island. Passing several, partly very crowded sandy beaches, after some time you will arrive at the Coral Beach. The rocky beach with a ladder to get into the water was like empty at least, when I was there. The water was crystal clear. If you walk over the rocky lunar landscape further past Coral Beach, you soon will reach Devil’s Hole – a natural pool into which the sea water flows through a tunnel. It goes down quite far, but adventurous people still plunge into the depths. Personally, I am not the best swimmer and would never have dared to do that and I don’t want to encourage it. It is also simply beautiful to look at and in this spectacular scenery you can sizzle a little on the rocks.

Devils Hole Malta

Accommodation in Malta

The question of accommodation is really not easy to answer in Malta. The country is small, but since it is an island state, you might imagine that you won’t necessarily get from A to B quickly. From Marsxaxlokk in the south to the ferry station to Gozo in the north, you need about an hour. However, most of this is on the motorway, so you can expect to take much longer if you want to go by land. So keep this in mind when choosing your accommodation. I would probably tend to the north again, where I have stayed twice now.

Hotel in Malta

During the first part of my last trip to Malta, I was at Chapel 5 Palazzo Suites* in Naxxar. The boutique hotel is located in the interior of the country and is furnished with great attention to detail. And there are several pools where you can relax after a long day trip.

5 Chapel Suites

 

Airbnb in Malta

When I was travelling alone, I once stayed in an Airbnb in Saint Paul’s Bay* and once in a hotel in Mellieha*. Both I found from the location good to explore. St. Julian* is especially recommendable if you are the party type. Here you can also find all the language schools, so that the audience here is young and full of verve.

 

Getting around Malta

During my two trips to Malta I had a rental car each time. However, I have often heard how easy it is to travel to Malta by public transport. I myself only took the bus in Malta once and that was to pick up the rental car. Here are my detailed tips for choosing the means of transport:

 

Car hire in Malta

Malta is a country of left-hand traffic.This is – just like the fact that almost everyone in Malta speaks English – a remnant from the British colonial era. Not everyone can or wants to prepare themselves to drive on the other side. Therefore, you should think carefully about whether or not to get a rental car. If you decide to rent a car, you can compare prices at Cheap Car Hire* and book a car hire for Malta directly. My tip is that you should be in the price range around 15€/day and preferably choose one of the well known car rental companies. There are also cheaper providers, but you don’t want to end up in some dubious garage where you are presented with a strange contract for a dented car, do you? By the way, the smallest category is perfectly adequate, as the roads are sometimes very narrow.

Auto mieten Malta

 

Public transport in Malta

For all those who do not trust themselves to drive a rental car with left-hand traffic: You can get just about anywhere by bus. A ticket costs only 2€ (or in winter even only 1,50€), so you can travel around the island for a reasonable price. However, you will have to expect to walk from the bus stop to your actual destination. This can be very exhausting, especially in summer, when you melt into 35 degrees. A car with air conditioning is much more comfortable. For more information about the local bus transfer and tickets click here: Malta Public Transport.

 

My travel equipment

Since I am always asked how and with what I travel, I have made a small summary of the most important parts of my equipment:

 

Backpacks and suitcases

 

I have numerous backpacks and suitcases from which I can choose the right one for the trip. I prefer to travel with my equipment from Osprey. Also on the trip to Malta I had the Osprey Sojourn 60* with me, my biggest suitcase, in which I can really get everything into.

My main backpack has been the Nordace Siena for almost two years. It is not so huge with 19 liters, I like it optically very much and has all kinds of compartments, also hidden ones, as well as a USB charging port, which I find very practical.

At the moment, I like to use Johnny Urban’s Elias made of recycled plastic. It’s small, but there’s a lot of stuff in it and for day trips, it’s more than enough. I also think it looks really great.

Barbara mit Johnny Urban Rucksack

Clothing and footwear

On my tours I am mainly on the road with clothes and equipment from Decathlon*. My sneakers are for example these here: Walking shoes New Feel*. I also wore them on my photo tour in Monreal. I also like my Decathlon shoes for hiking: waterproof half-height hiking boots*. Besides hiking gear, you will find equipment as well as clothes and shoes for all kinds of sports activities. I find this really practical and I am a regular buyer there.

Sneaker Decathlon

 

Camera

I would also recommend protection for your phone. I got a nice scratch when I was hiking in Margaret Gorge. And that’s even though my phone didn’t fall off or bump into anything. At least not consciously. Therefore I have now provided with an outdoor case: Outdoor Case iPhone*.

By the way, I take my pictures with a Sony Alpha 6500*. I usually switch between my two favorite lenses: a 10-18mm wide-angle lens* and a 30mm fixed focal length*. In case you’ve ever wondered how I take pictures of myself even though I’m often on the road alone: I have a Rollei tripod*.

My conclusion about Malta sights

As already mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, Malta has an incredible wealth of sights to offer. No matter if you are more the type for city trips, cultural or beach holidays, here you can easily spend a week without getting bored. Also, active vacationers get their money’s worth.

I have done a good mix of all categories and I have no regrets. Although I have already been to Malta twice, I can say pretty sure: I will come back again!

Deine Barbara
PS: This article has been produced with the support of Visit Malta. I was invited on a press trip for three days. The rest of the time I covered the costs myself. My opinion is unaffected by this cooperation.

 

PPS: All links marked with an asterisk (*) are Affiliate Links!

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Monreal in the Eifel – Day Trip to the Romantic Eltz Valley

Monreal in the Eifel – Day Trip to the Romantic Eltz Valley

Monreal in the Eifel – Day Trip to the Romantic Eltz Valley

Last week, I was in the Eifel for the first time. Monreal was the destination – a small village with not even 800 inhabitants, which is both beautiful and enchanting. No wonder: Time seems to have stopped here a few hundred years ago. The old half-timbered houses look like something out of a picture book and not just one, but two castle ruins are enthroned on their hills above the village. I have rarely seen such an idyll. That is why I immediately said yes, when my friend Jan (@jan_wehnert on Instagram) asked me to join him on a photo tour. Our photo buddy Sven (@sky.pix2016 on Instagram) came also with us.

How to Get to Monreal

  • By bus or train: Monreal is located on the RB 23 railway line of the Lahn-Eifel railway. It runs once an hour every day. For ticket prices, it is best to check directly at the website of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Mosel (VRM). Coming from Gerolstein, you are faster during the week if you take the regional bus and change in Ulmen. On weekends in the season the Vulkaneifel-Bahn (special ticket necessary, because it’s a private special train, available at the conductor on the trains; if you want to take your bike with you, you have to reserve it upfront).
  • By car: Both the A48 and the A61 are nearby and Monreal is easy to reach from there. Parking spaces are available along the main road.
  • By bike: There are also bike lanes in the area. However, there is a lot of up and down here and you have to expect steep gradients.

We arrived by car and I was enchanted from the first moment! That was my first impression of Monreal and my first view of the Löwenburg – the castle in the background:

Löwenburg im Hintergrund, Monreal im Vordergrund

 

Monreal

Monreal is located in the beautiful volcanic area Eifel. With not even 1000 inhabitants, one can probably speak of a very small community here. The village lies in the Eltz valley and the Eltzbach flows through it.

If you would like to book a guided tour or receive information, you can do so on the Homepage of Monreal. Otherwise, you can simply roam the cute alleys on your own and wander to the two castles that tower above the city.

Alte Brücke Monreal in der Eifel

Stiefmütterchen in Monreal als Dekoration vor einem Haus

Monreal – Dekoration an einem Hauseingang

 

The Almost 1000 Years of History of Monreal

Although the oldest traces of a settlement in Monreal date back to pre-Christian times, the place was not mentioned until the 12th century as Cunisberch (Königsberg – King’s Mountain). In the following century, Monreal became part of the county of Virneburg. The then name Königsberg was translated into French, as was appropriate at the time. Monroial was born and developed over the centuries to the present Monreal.

Around the year 1220, the construction of the Löwenburg (Castle of Lions), which is also called Burg Monreal, began, as it is considerably larger than the Philippsburg, which was built later. Hermann III of Virneburg began the work, although he lacked the necessary permits and rights over the land, as it actually belonged to his brother Philipp. He saw this as a political move to strengthen his count dynasty, as the family’s ancestral seat – the Virneburg – was too far away from economic centers. His plan worked out. In 1306, Monreal was granted town privileges and the rights to organize a market, which could be held every Monday.

Since Monreal belonged to the area of the Trier archbishopric, the property fell to Trier after the death of the last Count of Virneburg in 1545. The Elector of Trier appointed a bailiff instead of reassigning the fief and was later merged with the Obermayen office.

Monreal was destroyed twice in the 17th century: once in 1632 by Swedish troops and then in 1689 by French troops during the Nine Years’ War. At the same time, the cloth industry was discovered in Monreal, which brought prosperity to the small town. The half-timbered houses still bear witness to this today. However, this peak phase came to a serious end in the second half of the 19th century, as the clothiers could no longer keep up with the international competition. As a result, Monreal became impoverished.

 

Monreal’s Charming Old Town

The recovery of the city came in the 1930s, when people began to see the charm of the Eifel and Monreal’s romantic old town with its pretty half-timbered buildings became a destination for excursions. I can absolutely understand it, as it really is a beautiful old town. The little town lies in the valley, the Eltzbach flows through it and the two halves are connected by three old bridges.

Blick von der alten Brücke Monreal – Langzeitbelichtung

Blick auf die alte Brücke Monreal

Monreal – Langzeitbelichtung vom Eltzbach Richtung alte Brücke

Not only the fairytale half-timbered houses can be admired here, but also the late Gothic stonemasonry, which is presented on the bridges, among other things. For example on the Elzbrücke: here the Lion Monument awaits you. These four lions first stood at the gates of Monreal Castle to guard it. That is why it got its name – the Castle of Lions. Here is one of them:

Löwe auf der alten Brücke in Monreal

Monreal offers the visitor a small insight into the history described above. These were turbulent centuries and here they come to life. In order to illustrate this, in the years 2003/2004, information boards were installed all over Monreal.

Hinweisschild Monreal

 

The Two Castles – The Löwenburg and the Philippsburg

From Monreal, a path leads up to the two castles, the Löwenburg (Castle of Lions) and the Philippsburg (Castle of Philipp). You can’t actually miss them, firstly because the path signposted, and secondly because Monreal is really small.

Zu den Burgen – Schild in Monreal

Gleise und Löwenburg im Hintergrund

The Löwenburg is on the right and is a so-called spur castle, which is the most common type of high-altitude medieval fortifications in Germany. It means that the castle is not on the summit, but steeply above the valley on a mountain spur. The Löwenburg is the bigger of the two and one of the highlights of the whole trip. This is the view of the Löwenburg when you stand at the Philipsburg:

Loewenburg und Lensball von der Philippsburg aus fotografiert

You can explore them at your leisure and there are also information boards so that you always know what the towers and walls used to be. Because it’s not self-explanatory, unless you happen to be an expert in Medieval Studies.

Auf der Löwenburg Monreal

I particularly liked the fact that the tower is walkable. For this you should either have a flashlight or use your mobile phone as such. But it is not a long way to the top and so I arrived there only slightly out of breath. The walls are quite thick so that I personally found the view rather mediocre. Nevertheless, I love to stand in such places and think about how the people who lived here must have felt. What they thought. What stories the walls would tell me if they could speak.

Blick von der Löwenburg auf Monreal

From the Löwenburg you also have a good view of the Philippsburg. It was also built in the 13th century and was popularly called Rech – which is Middle High German for deer – because of its smaller size.

Philippsburg Monreal – Blick von der Löwenburg

It is not clear why the second castle was built at all: one theory says that it was built as a forework or outer work of the Löwenburg. However, there is also a local legend according to which the castle was a kind of answer from Philip to his brother Heinrich, who had built the Löwenburg illegally on his brother’s property. To me personally, it is not quite clear why this “answer” should be less impressive than the original. But I am not a medieval count… So what do I know? Hah!

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the complex was further extended and served several times as a widow’s seat of the count’s family. In the 16th century, Monreal was already the ancestral castle of the family and had replaced the Virneburg as its ancestral home.

The Philippsburg is especially worth a visit because you have a great view of the entire panorama from it and the tower is open to the top. So you can take cool pictures up to the top.

Loewenburg und Monreal von der Philippsburg aus fotografiert

Lensball in der Philippsburg

 

Traumpfade (Dream Paths)

In the Rhine-Moselle-Eifel region, there are the so-called dream paths. These are well-signposted premium hiking trails in this region. Such a dream path also leads through Monreal: The Monrealer Ritterschlag, about which I write more below, even though I, unfortunately, haven’t been able to walk it myself yet.

 

Traumpfade Eifel

The volcanic Eifel is today a green and fertile land. This is how the nickname “green heart of Europe” came into being. Excursions in this region are not only something for nature lovers, but also offer a journey into days long gone by: peaked mountain cones, geological formations, and the crater lake Laacher See bear witness to the past as a volcanic landscape.

Here are a few of the Eifel’s dream paths that invite you to go hiking:

 

Monrealer Ritterschlag – Monreal’s Knighthood

The almost 14-kilometer-long hiking trail is one of the Eifel’s dream paths and goes right through Monreal and the castles. It is definitely on my bucket list and as soon as I have walked it, you will be the first to know about it here on Barbaralicious!

The highlights of Monreal’s Knighthood are:

  • Monreal with its charming old town
  • The Elz and Thürelz river valleys
  • Forest gorges and ridge paths
  • The panorama of the Eifel
  • The Philippsburg and Löwenburg

 

Traumpfädchen Rhein-Mosel-Eifel

If the afore-mentioned tours are too long for you, you can also walk one of the mini dream paths. These are only between three and seven kilometers long and can, therefore, be walked in a maximum of two hours. They are great for exploring other highlights of the region – such as Monreal or Eltz Castle, to name two examples – in addition to the short hike.

 

My Gear

On my tours, I am mainly on the road with clothes and equipment from Decathlon. My hiking boots for example are waterproof half-height hiking boots. In general, if you are a regular hiker or outdoor enthusiast, I recommend that you buy some appropriate clothing and shoes. In the worst case, normal sneakers will do, as long as they give you a good grip and you can handle them if they get dirty. On hikes like the one in the Margarethen Gorge, this can happen faster than you can look.

Wanderschuhe von Decathlon

I would also recommend protection for your phone. I got a nice scratch when I was hiking in Margaret Gorge. And that’s even though my phone didn’t fall off or bump into anything. At least not consciously. Therefore, I have now an outdoor case.

By the way, I take my pictures with a Sony Alpha 6500*. I usually switch between my two favorite lenses: a 10-18mm wide-angle lens* and a 30mm fixed focal length*. In case you’ve ever wondered how I take pictures of myself even though I’m often on the road alone: I have a Rollei tripod*.

 

My Final Thoughts

To be honest, I had never heard of Monreal. But since I’m always happy about photo tours with my buddy Jan and he has a good hand for choosing cool locations, I didn’t have to think twice about joining him or not. And that was absolutely right! Monreal was just adorable and we had a great tour.

Barbara in Monreal

Have you ever been to Monreal? Or have you ever heard of the romantic place in the Eifel?

 

Yours Barbara

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links!

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Hiking on the Katzenbuckel – The Path of Crystals

Hiking on the Katzenbuckel – The Path of Crystals

Hiking on the Katzenbuckel – The Path of Crystals

Since I have been drawn to the Odenwald a lot in the last few weeks, it was only a matter of time before I would take a hike on the Katzenbuckel (Katzenbuckel means cat’s hump in German). The Katzenbuckel is the highest mountain in the Odenwald and several hiking trails lead around it or over its summit. There is for example the Katzensteig, a 12-kilometer trail, but today I will first introduce you to the Path of the Crystals. This hike is a quick one but no less beautiful.

The Katzenbuckel

The highest mountain in the Odenwald – the Katzenbuckel – is located in the border triangle between Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria and is actually an extinct volcano. Its vent has a diameter of almost 1000 meters. At 626 meters, it is enthroned in the red sandstone plateau of the Odenwald and stands out from its surroundings due to its easily recognizable shape. It is located near Waldkatzenbach in the far south of the Odenwald. On the summit, there is a tower of the same name, from where you have an amazing view.

Katzenbuckel Infotafel

 

How Has The Katzenbuckel Been Created?

About 60 million years ago, the Katzenbuckel erupted, which was probably very explosive due to a steam explosion when the magma came into contact with the groundwater. This is indicated by tuffs and small volcanic bombs. Today neither collapse funnels nor craters are visible. So the assumption is based purely on geological findings.

Since the end of the 19th century, volcanic rock has been mined in two quarries: Gaffstein and Michelsberg. In the 1920s, however, only one quarry was still visible on the maps: The Gaffstein had fallen victim to mining. In 1970 a blasting led to the fact that the work on the second quarry was also stopped: Groundwater had seeped into the Michelsberg Quarry and the Katzenbuckelsee (the lake of the Katzenbuckel) was created.

 

Where Does The Name Katzenbuckel Come From?

There are various explanations, but none of them is verified.

    1. The most obvious explanation is that the shape of the mountain resembles the back of a cat.
    2. Another assumption is that the name is etymologically derived from the Chatti – a Germanic tribe that lived in this area. They once had their main settlement area in northern and central Hesse and their name lives on in the neighboring state of Hesse, which is only three kilometers away from the Katzenbuckel.

 

The Path of Crystals

For your hike on the nature trail, you should choose a day with good weather if possible, as there is a lookout tower on the top of the Katzenbuckel which gives you an excellent all-round view. But only in good weather. Here are a few facts in brief:

Distance

2,4 Kilometer

Duration

1 Hour

)

Difference in Altitude

144 Meters

Highest Point

626 Meters

The Starting Point: Turmschenke / Villa Katzenbuckel

Until January 1st of 2020, the restaurant at the Katzenbuckel was in the hands of the Geier family. During the 65 years, the Turmschenke became a popular place in the Odenwald. Since May 18th of 2020, it has been reopened under new management and with a new name: The Villa Katzenbuckel awaits guests with Odenwald specialties. The restaurant is also a lounge, bar and hotel.

There is a parking lot from where you can plunge into the short adventure. Two large info boards mark the beginning of the Path of Crystals.

Infotafel Weg der Kristalle

 

Weg der Kristalle

 

The Katzenbuckelsee (Lake Katzenbuckel)

After a short hike, you get to the Katzenbuckelsee. As described above in the section on the formation of the Katzenbuckel, it was created by a blasting in the former quarry. Groundwater had entered the quarry, after which it was abandoned. You can get a glimpse of the lake through the trees, but unfortunately, you can’t get close enough to take a good photo from the Path of Crystals. The trees are also very dense. If you want to get to the lake, you can try it by leaving the path.

As you go halfway around the lake, you will pass several info boards that give information about the formation of the Katzenbuckel and the minerals. In this way, the hike gains an informative aspect and also becomes a journey into the history of the earth. Of course, you can decide how much background information you want to have.

Weg der Kristalle Infotafel

 

The Viewpoint Katzenbuckel

When you leave the lake behind you, it won’t be long before you can see the old tower between the trees. But do not confuse it with the ski jump of the Eberbach Ski Guild, founded in 1949. The ski jump is closed and may not be entered.

Wandern auf dem Katzenbuckel

Aussichtsturm Katzenbuckel

The observation tower, on the other hand, is an 18-meter-high stone tower that was built in 1820. The round tower is made of sandstone – just like this part of the Odenwald. Once you reach the top, you have an excellent view of the Taunus, the Spessart, and even the Rhön.

Panorama Aussichtsturm Katzenbuckel

Auf dem Aussichtsturm des Katzenbuckel

From the observation tower, it is only a stone’s throw back to Villa Katzenbuckel. On the way there you have a great view of Waldkatzenbach and can enjoy the moment on benches at the edge of the forest.

Auf dem Katzenbuckel

Aussicht Katzenbuckel

In the Villa Katzenbuckel, you can stop by if you wish and let the day end quietly.

 

Ideas For Nearby Activities

The Horse Farm Pan Perdu

Close to the Katzenbuckel, there is a horse farm called Hof Pan Perdu. I recently spent a whole weekend here (a separate post will follow!) and I can highly recommend it to you if you love animals as much as I do and would like to explore the Odenwald from horseback. The four-legged friends are elegant and gentle and will certainly give you unique experiences if you are open to them.

 

The Katzenbuckel Spa

Alternatively, you can also give your body a break: In the local spa Katzenbuckeltherme there are several swimming pools, a relaxation area, and a sauna are waiting for you. A visit here can be perfectly combined with a hike. But make sure that it is open! While I am writing these lines, it is still closed because of Corona.

 

Hiking in the Region

About hiking in the Odenwald, I have already written an own article. I have also written a blog post about the Felsenmeer and the Gorge of Margaret.

If you like hiking and want to explore the surrounding regions, I can recommend having a look at the Palatinate Forest, the Spessart, or the Taunus. Blog posts will follow for these regions. So far, I can only refer you to my blog post about Staufen in the Taunus outside the Odenwald.

 

City Trips in the Region

If you want to make a city trip in this part of Germany, I recommend the following cities:

  • Aschaffenburg: Aschaffenburg is nicknamed the gate to the Spessart. Besides the (partly very photogenic) sights like the Aschaffenburg castle, which the town itself has to offer, you can also reach the forest quickly from here and can let off steam on many hiking trails.
  • Heidelberg: Heidelberg is located directly at the Neckar and offers a picturesque backdrop with the river, the old town and the castle on the mountain. Here you will also find the ideal mixture of town and countryside.
  • Lohr am Main: Lohr am Main was first mentioned in a document in 1295 and is generally known as Snow White town. Although this is not documented, it is quite possible, since the Brothers Grimm lived in Hanau and passed through the Spessart on their way to Bremen.
  • Mannheim: The square city is worth a visit at any time. Whether inside or outside, there is always something to do or experience here.
  • Michelstadt: The historical old town with the famous town hall and the half-timbered houses is simply enchanting. My tip: Take a photo tour at sunrise when you have the cobblestone streets all to yourself! Near Michelstadt there are a lot of hiking trails so that you won’t get bored.
  • Miltenberg: The small town in Lower Franconia is located between Odenwald and Spessart and is a real gem. The old town is picturesque and even the starting point of several hiking trails. The Mildenburg and the museum of the city of Miltenberg offer the culturally interested among us the opportunity to quench their thirst for knowledge.

 

My Gear

On my tours, I am mainly on the road with clothes and equipment from Decathlon. My hiking boots for example are waterproof half-height hiking boots. In general, if you are a regular hiker or outdoor enthusiast, I recommend that you buy some appropriate clothing and shoes. In the worst case, normal sneakers will do, as long as they give you a good grip and you can handle them if they get dirty. On hikes like the one in the Margarethen Gorge, this can happen faster than you can look.

Wanderschuhe von Decathlon

I would also recommend protection for your phone. I got a nice scratch when I was hiking in Margaret Gorge. And that’s even though my phone didn’t fall off or bump into anything. At least not consciously. Therefore, I have now an outdoor case.

By the way, I take my pictures with a Sony Alpha 6500*. I usually switch between my two favorite lenses: a 10-18mm wide-angle lens* and a 30mm fixed focal length*. In case you’ve ever wondered how I take pictures of myself even though I’m often on the road alone: I have a Rollei tripod*.

 

My Final Thoughts

I love being out in nature, but for me, it doesn’t have to be a day hike every time I go out. Therefore I liked the Path of Crystals on the Katzenbuckel very much. The hike is not long but with the tower and the view, it is still a lot of fun. Also, like this you have more time to enjoy the view, the restaurant, the horse farm, or the spa…

Have you ever been on the Katzenbuckel?

 

Yours Barbara

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links!

Did you like this blog post?

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The Felsenmeer – The Sea of Rocks in the Odenwald

The Felsenmeer – The Sea of Rocks in the Odenwald

The Felsenmeer – The Sea of Rocks in the Odenwald

I was about 10 years old when I went on a school trip to the Felsenmeer (German for sea of rocks) in the Odenwald. It was the first and only time I saw this place. I remember how fascinated I was climbing over the rocks, even though at the same time I did not understand how magical these rocks really are. More than two decades later I returned. Armed with my camera and eager to learn more about the sea of rocks.

How to Get to The Felsenmeer

For the hike in the Felsenmeer you have to travel to Lautertal in the Odenwald and there you have to go to the information center Informationszentrum Felsenmeer. This is an ideal starting point for the hike. The best way to get there is by car. At the information center, there is a paid parking lot where you can leave your car while doing the hike.

Alternatively, you can park on the Felsberg – the top of the mountain above the Felsenmeer – free of charge. Next to the restaurant Ada’s Buka you can leave your car in a car park and either walk downhill to the Felsenmeer or uphill to other hiking trails.

Wegweiser im Felsenmeer auf dem Felsberg

 

The Felsenmeer

The Felsenmeer is located above Lautertal-Reichenbach in the Odenwald on a mountain called Felsberg (German for mountain of rocks). It is a rocky landscape of dark grey quartz diorite. The Romans already used the Felsenmeer for stone extraction. This tradition was later continued by local stonemasons. Today this so-called “Felsberg granite” is no longer mined.

Das Felsenmeer im Odenwald

The Felsenmeer has become a popular recreation area and destination for hikers, which also makes children’s hearts beat faster and is, therefore, suitable for trips with the whole family.

 

The Legend of The Felsenmeer

Two giants are said to have dwelled in the Reichenbach area. One lived on the Felsberg and was called Felshocker (German for he who sits on a rock), while Steinbeißer (German for he who bites rocks)  lived on a mountain called Hohenstein. The valley Lautertal divided their empires. One day they got into an argument and started throwing rocks at each other. Steinbeißer had more throwing material at his disposal, which gave him an advantage. So Felshocker ended up under the rocks. Legend has it that you can still hear him roar under the Felsenmeer sometimes. On the Hohenstein, there is a single wall of rocks, which is said to have been the last house wall of the other giant.

 

Origin of The Felsenmeers

The oldest rocks of this part of the Odenwald, which is also called the Crystalline Odenwald because of its age, are probably more than 500 million years old. 380 to 340 million years ago, two large primeval continents divided the planet. Due to the so-called continental drift, the two large continents moved towards each other and became one: the primeval continent Pangaea was born. Through various tectonic processes of a smaller continent in the course of the fusion of the two original continents, the Odenwald was created, which at that time was located at the level of the equator.

The quartz diorite that makes up the rock sea is a crystalline rock that probably took a good 10 million years to cool down. During this process, the rocks shrunk and cracked. When the sea level rose all over the world in the Mesozoic Era, the Odenwald was flooded and covered with deposits. It took many millions of years to remove them. This was supported by the collapse of the Rheingraben (the Rhine Rift) about 50 million years ago. Finally, cuboid blocks were formed by the deepening cracks. From then on, the stones were exposed to the weather.

The last ice age about 12,000 years ago transformed the Odenwald into a permafrost zone. When the frost line receded at the end, the stones started to move and thus led to the formation of the sea of rocks as we know it.

 

The Hike

The hike through the Felsenmeer has a very special character. Like suddenly cooled waves the boulders pile up in front of you and you have to climb a lot to overcome them. But don’t be afraid if you want to enjoy the sea of rocks but you are not a climbing fan: there is also a normal hiking trail that runs along the edge and for example a bridge that crosses the sea.

Weg zum Felsenmeer

Steine im Felsenmeer

I started from the top, from the parking lot on the Felsberg, and followed the path down. It is impressive how suddenly the first rocks appear and gradually become more and more. On the way, right next to the giant column, which is a testimony of the presence of the Romans in this region 2000 years ago, there is a hut to stop for a bite to eat, which unfortunately was closed when I was there because of Corona.

Im Felsenmeer im Odenwald

Up to here, I could easily walk back and forth between the stones. But now the stones become so dense that the climbing begins. At the same time, the view into the valley opens up before me. Wonderful!

Aussicht vom Felsenmeer ins Lautertal

At this point, you should make the decision whether to avoid the sea of rocks on the hiking trail or to go for some climbing fun. I go for the latter.

My legs start hurting and I notice very quickly that I will certainly have sore muscles the next day. But it feels good at the same time and the almost surreal landscape of the Felsenmeer distracts me from my burning calves and thighs.

Bachlauf im Felsenmeer im Odenwald

For the last part after the bridge, I choose the path. This is, by the way, part of the 130-kilometer-long Nibelungensteig – a long-distance hike and main hiking trail of the Odenwaldklub.

Wanderweg im Felsenmeer

Holzstufen im Felsenmeer

Once you have arrived, you can find out all kinds of information about the history and formation of the Felsenmeer Informationszentrum, if you want to read more about this topic. However, you should check if it is open, as it is currently closed due to Corona. I was there the week before the social distancing started and was able to explore it before the lockdown.

 

My Final Thoughts

The Felsenmeer is a cool place to visit and not only children have fun here. My legs were really burning the next day, so you not only have a great photo spot with lots of sagas and stories, but the hike is also a workout for your legs.

I give two thumbs up for the Felsenmeer in the Odenwald!

Yours Barbara 1

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