Private accommodation in Cuba: staying with locals

DAt the start of their digital accommodation service, Maren Benens and Klaas Sennekool had imagined a little differently. Last March there was to be a celebration with her business partners on site, the flights to Havana had long been booked, also for a photographer and a social media officer.

But then the virus intervened and made long-distance travel impossible for the time being. “Exactly on the day we wanted to take off, Cuba announced that it would close its borders,” says Klaas Sennekool. “The airline offered us to take us back on the same day, but we did not seriously consider it.”

The Cologne lawyer couple has founded a booking platform for private accommodation on the Antilles island. The site is called and is now active. So far, 29 houses with a total of 70 rooms are on offer, not just in Havana, but in a total of seven cities and regions, including Cienfuegos, Mantanzas and Trinidad. The price range for an overnight stay is between 40 and 50 euros per room.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The accommodations are mostly simple but lovingly furnished. No two rooms are the same. With one exception, the couple knows each host personally. Your offer should make the accommodation service more transparent and reliable – not only for the guests, but also for the hosts.

Private accommodation is a thriving business

Travel to Cuba is now possible again, also for tourist purposes (see below). The clammy socialist island state is dependent on foreign currency, tourism is one of its main sources of income.

For visitors whose idea of ​​a successful vacation is to sit on the beach with a mojito in hand, there are hotel complexes that are largely isolated from island life. Business with private hostels, so-called casas particulares, whose operators require a state license, is also flourishing.

Private accommodation in Cuba: No two rooms are alike when it comes to Cuba Vida.  The photo shows Casa Bianca in Trinidad

No two rooms are alike when it comes to Cuba Vida. The photo shows Casa Bianca in Trinidad

Quelle: Cuba Life

Many guests prefer such private casas because they appreciate the direct contact with the local families, who are considered to be particularly hospitable – and because they ensure that their money reaches the local people directly. The accommodations are often magnificent villas or townhouses from a time when Cuba was still the Mallorca of the Americans. Sometimes there are even the bulky old US fridges from the 1950s in the kitchens.

Vacationers do not always get the booked room

Cuba Vida is not the only international broker of private accommodation in Cuba. Rooms can also be booked via platforms such as or TripAdvisor, and smaller agencies are also busy on the market.

The operation of a casa is associated with strict conditions for the owners, but you don’t always get what you order there. The most popular and best-rated casas are sometimes overbooked, and arriving guests are then moved to other accommodations in the vicinity.

They often have no choice but to accept the alternative because they fear that they will not find a replacement. In other cases the rooms are in a much worse condition than the pictures on the Internet suggested.

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Through the personal proximity to the landlords, Cuba Vida wants to set clear standards and increase planning security. “We guarantee our customers that they will get exactly the room they saw and booked on our site,” says Klaas Sennekool, whose company is financed through agency fees.

Cuba Vida guarantees the landlord more security

On the other hand, the landlords of Casas particulares also have to deal with imponderables. When booking, no deposit is usually required, the invoice is paid on site. As a result, many guests simply do not show up because they have changed their plans at short notice.

For the landlord, in the worst case, this is associated with a total failure if they can no longer get rid of the reserved room in a hurry. “Reliable casa owners are punished by this,” says Sennekool. At Cuba Vida, a cancellation fee offers landlords a certain amount of financial security.

However, customers have to accept that their inquiries are not processed in real time. Since most landlords do not have internet access, a direct booking is hardly possible.

Instead, the request is forwarded to Ottoniel López Magariño, a local manager who calls the casas or drives over in person. This can take up to 72 hours. “Otto has his own system here,” says Maren Benens. “At first we were a little surprised about his mess of papers, but he is well organized.”

Deep attachment to Cuba

After graduating from university, the couple traveled to Cuba for the first time. That was ten years ago, and the island has not let go of them since. During their many visits, they have always found accommodation in Casas particulares.

Well suited for families: private accommodation in Cuba

Private accommodation is particularly suitable for families

Quelle: Cuba Life

A deep connection to the tropical island and its inhabitants has developed. “We have been around the world a lot,” says Sennekool. “But nowhere do we feel as at home as in Cuba.”

However, the two are far from romanticizing the political situation in the country. Oppositionists have to expect reprisals. “Cuba is a dictatorship, there is nothing to gloss over,” says Sennekool. “We believe our initiative will help boost the private sector.”

But this also requires patience, especially since the demands of European tourists are often not immediately apparent to the landlords on site. “Some of our partners didn’t understand why they should take photos of their rooms,” says Benens. “You have never been a tourist yourself because you cannot leave your country.”

The flights to the island are already booked

The signs for greater dynamism in the private sector are currently not unfavorable. A currency reform, which came into force on January 1, is intended to stimulate the economy – even if US dollars are still traded on the black market.

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Switch off in the Caribbean: There is no travel warning for Antigua and Barbuda

In addition, Cuba has lowered the barriers to investment from abroad. A majority stake by the state is no longer required for tourism projects. This should also attract small and medium-sized companies.

The Cologne couple is hoping that their offer will be accepted by Germans who love to travel. The number of rooms available on Cuba Vida will gradually increase. In February, the two want to travel to Cuba again and look for further partners. The flights are already booked.

Tips and information

Getting there: Currently, for example, with Condor to Varadero, with Iberia via Madrid or with Air France via Paris to Havana.

Corona rules: According to the Robert Koch Institute, Cuba is not a risk area, and there is no travel warning from the German Foreign Office. Entrants must present a negative PCR test from their home country (not older than 72 hours upon arrival). After landing in Cuba, another PCR test is mandatory at the airport.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

World on Sunday from January 10, 2021

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Watt and vastness: From Borkum to Büsum – the North Sea in winter

Borkum – Biology lesson on the beach

Nafter a winter storm on the North Sea, with a bit of luck, you’ll see blatant creatures. On walks on the beach you can see them lying there, as if thrown in the sand: sea anemones and brittle stars.

On Borkum, Albertus Akkermann goes on beach hikes with his guests, even in wind and weather and cold, to appreciate such treasures of the sea. See what came up. You never really know, says the mudflat and nature guide, why, for example, after many a storm, countless cockles were washed onto the beach or on other days the shells of sea urchins.

Brittle stars, which are among the rarer finds, are relatives of the starfish. But brittle stars with their thin, snake-like legs look a lot more eerie. And the sea anemone first! It is a pretty flower animal, but with tentacles that are deadly for tiny prey.

What one also finds, reports Akkermann, are small black, pillow-shaped objects that look like ravioli with tails. They are the egg capsules of the nail skate, and they show that it is still there. Or again. Because the cartilaginous fish was considered extinct on our coasts for a long time.

It is all the more gratifying that individual specimens can be seen again, as in the summer off Baltrum. A hundred years ago the ray was a common fish, says Akkermann. On the Rochepad path on Borkum, they once hung on a line to dry. They were eaten, considered a delicacy. For around ten years, the one-meter-tall sea creature has been appearing more frequently, says the Wattführer, who encouraged the Corona crisis with his songs in spring 2020:

Watt leader and encourager sings against the Corona crisis

Albertus Akkermann is watt leader. Easter would actually be the high season for travel on the North Sea islands. But these are blocked for vacationers. “Laat jo nich unnerkriegen”, the brave East Frisian sings every day on YouTube. The reactions are overwhelming.

Source: WORLD / Albertus Akkermann

If you don’t want to expose yourself to the elements like on Akkermann’s beach tours to see the beauties and gruesome of the North Sea, you can alternatively go to the North Sea Aquarium Borkum, which is currently closed due to lockdown. Those who want to do research on their own can identify beach finds using the website.

Albertus Akkermann for nature tours: The Lower Saxony North Sea Coast Mud Guide Association can be reached at, here you can also ask about mudflat guides in winter and other offers.

Norderney – coffee in the “Marienhöhe”

“The sea was my only contact, and I’ve never had a better one.” Heinrich Heine wrote this, who spent a summer on Norderney and was inspired there for his North Sea cycle. Perhaps the great poet of German Romanticism spent his time on the Hohe Düne, which has always been a lookout and watch post for the islanders.

Heinrich Heine probably enjoyed the view over the island and the sea, where you can see the sun come and go again, where you can watch the ebb and flow in their eternal rhythm. In any case, the East Frisian island of Heine made a lasting impression.

The North Sea in freezing cold: The mudflats near Norderney also have their charm in winter

Source: Getty Images / Etienne Brandt / EyeEm

Today you sit on the dune in style in an extraordinary coffee house – the restaurant and coffee house “Marienhöhe”. But the history lesson continues: When Baden became stately in the 19th century, the Hanoverian royal family discovered Norderney and traveled with their entourage.

Queen Marie of Hanover remembered the poet at Marienhöhe with coffee hours and picnics, with literature and music festivals. The original wooden pavilion has not survived. The massive octagon built by master confectioner Radtke in the 1920s was renovated a few years ago, a listed building.

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The author at the age of eight in 1968 on a roof terrace in Wenningstedt

With the surrounding terrace and high windows, the copper roof and its architectural shape, today’s coffee house still has a lot of historical charm – the Marienhöhe is even considered a landmark in Norderney. You sit in the wing chair, read or listen to music, look out over the sea, enjoy coffee and cake or grab Friesentapas – matjes fillet with pumpernickel or crispy hake with potato salad.

Dignified security, while the wind and clouds race outside and the winter sun shimmers over sand and dunes. The “Marienhöhe Norderney” is located at the western end of the island (

Further information:

Spiekeroog – an island without cars

Some days look as if they have long since ended by noon. Twilight creeps up, the sky and the sea are soft blue and calm in front of the dike.

The “Spiekeroog II” creeps slowly through the water, the air smells of salt water and early frost. The cold tingles my face. With the gentle hum of the machine, the ferry pushes through the North Sea, the calls of the seagulls blow away. The mainland is disappearing, the island of Spiekeroog is getting closer.

North Sea winter connoisseurs stand outside and breathe, finally, deeply. Those who know it are happy – those who don’t get an idea: of the seclusion, of the tranquility, of a beautiful, conscious solitude by the sea.

North Sea in winter: After a walk on the beach on Spiekeroog, you can warm up in the sauna or with East Frisian tea

After a walk on the beach on Spiekeroog, you can warm up in the sauna or with East Frisian tea

Source: pa / imageBROKER / Jochen Tack

You look forward to coming down and of course to the obligatory handcart for your luggage to be transported yourself from the port to the holiday accommodation. People like to pull it after Captain Claus Wulff has maneuvered the ferry to the edge.

Spiekeroog is car-free, which makes the island all the more charming. The next day the steps crunch in the sand on the way to the beach, the vastness seems immeasurable. The hiker is greeted by the iodine aroma of seaweed and surf.

Sea buckthorn berries, frozen by the hoar frost, are still hanging on the bushes, and you can enjoy nibbling on them as you pass by. Step by step and hour after hour – 15 kilometers of beach are there that you can hike – you feel more and more grounded.

Looks forward to warming up in the sauna of a hotel or in the “Inselbad & Dünenspa”, and then perhaps attending an East Frisian tea ceremony in one of the cafés – with rock sugar and whipped cream, of course. And maybe a piece of sea buckthorn cake with it? A winter at the North Sea is a pleasure and, like here on Spiekeroog, one of harsh beauty.

Further information:

Sankt Peter-Ording – Mudflat hiking in winter

Sankt Peter-Ording, on the south beach: It is two hours before low tide, and the mud flats are gray and calm in wintry solitude. A few nature lovers meet with the volunteers from the Wadden Sea Conservation Station for a mudflat hike. Can you see anything in the mudflats in winter?

More than you think: “Although some animals retreat into deeper water when it is cold, the Small Five can certainly be found with a little luck,” says Joline Kleekamp. Small Five is the name given to five typical representatives of the animal world in the North Sea, based on the Big Five in Africa: Wadden snail, cockle, lugworm, North Sea shrimp and beach crab.

North Sea in winter: a stilt hut in Sankt Peter-Ording

Landmark in winter: a stilt hut in Sankt Peter-Ording

Quelle: mauritius images/Pitopia/All mauritius images Travel

Hiking in the mudflats in winter also means: a quiet, more intense experience. The senses appear sharpened, the air is clear and fresh. A flock of dunlins flies up and geese with a longing call pass by. It’s quiet from the seaside, but the power of the distant sea can be felt, the surf can be heard.

Joline Kleekamp digs a little longer than usual for the lugworm, but she finds one. “Maybe there isn’t always everything to see in winter,” she says. On the other hand, the guest groups are smaller, there is more time and leisure to explain in “this unique atmosphere”. This also includes the early twilight, and when the first stars start to shine, everyday life is far away.

Mudflat hikes at the Wadden Sea Protection Station in Sankt Peter-Ording take around 1.5 hours in winter. Further information:

Büsum – everything made from mussels

“Kolles Alter Muschelsaal” is the name of a traditional restaurant in Büsum. It cultivates sophisticated table culture with beautiful cutlery and starched tablecloths, as well as classic service. But the treasure hangs on the walls: maritime motifs, for example a lighthouse or a sailing ship, made from shells, there must be tens of thousands of shells. They didn’t count the Kolles either.

You see mussels and oysters, recognize the distinctive scallop and are always surprised. “I discover new mussels every year,” reports Erika Kolle. The bowls are important to the senior manager. She cleans the shells, every year, every single one. Some mussels have disintegrated over time, but replacements have been made to repair the motifs: “We still have a sack full of most species in the cellar,” says Kolle.

Islands in the North Sea

Source: WORLD infographic

The history of the “Muschelsaal”, known beyond the city limits, is 120 years old: At that time there was an inn on the spot, but the guests did not come as many as the landlord had hoped. Together with the spa guests, they began to decorate the walls with mussel shells, including exotic specimens from overseas ships from the port of Hamburg. At first it was just a room next to the dining room. But when Kolle’s family took over the business a hundred years ago, they already had a unique collection on the walls.

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The North Frisian Wadden Sea: In front right Blauortsand, far right Blauort

Because the mussels and a figurehead on the wall are not everything, “Kolles Alter Muschelsaal” also offers good service and excellent cuisine – for example mussels in vegetable stock or, more elaborate: oysters with a dash of Talisker whiskey and salmon from the whiskey marinate in one Seaweed Cabbage Salad. In July 2020, an additional 24 modern and cozy hotel rooms were completed.

In winter, you can also go on pleasant mudflat hikes near Büsum. National park guide Michael Wieben leads south of Büsum through the maritime nature in front of the port. The focus is on mussels in line with the traditional local accommodation, followed by a mussel meal in nearby Meldorf.

Another national park mudflat guide is Johann P. Franzen, who leads north of Büsum into the wintry mudflats. And at the end, another winter meal is served in a rustic restaurant: steaming kale., mudflat tours:;

Further information: on the North Sea as a travel destination in Schleswig-Holstein and special winter offers at and on the Lower Saxony North Sea at; Current information on corona rules and restrictions:

Greenpeace – Ecosystems in the North and Baltic Seas are doing worse than ever

Overfishing and fishing nets are destroying the seabed, plus climate change. The German seas are under constant stress. This could even be dangerous for bathers.

Source: WELT / Gerrit Seebald


Safari, beach and hiking: Vacation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Die Region KwaZulu-Natal

She is the most diverse and perhaps even the most exciting region for South Africa fans. Everything that holidaymakers want is close together here, and that in just over an hour’s drive: safaris in the national parks (with the largest white rhinoceros population in Africa), beach holidays, hiking through subtropical, lush nature.

KwaZulu-Natal is the name of this province in the very east of South Africa, which borders on the neighboring countries Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and the bathtub-warm Indian Ocean. KwaZulu means “place of the Zulu”, the region encompasses the traditional settlement area of ​​the people who today make up the largest ethnic group in South Africa with around eleven million people.

KwaZulu-Natal is also called the Garden Province because of its subtropical coast, but there are also savannas in the hinterland – and in the African winter people ski in the high mountains. The largest city is the port metropolis Durban. It offers excellent bathing and surfing opportunities on its sandy beaches and off the cliffs: 80 kilometers of the Dolphin Coast on one side, 160 kilometers of the South and Hibiscus Coast on the other, all year round.

Source: WORLD infographic

The zebra mongoose is a clever gourmet

About the size of a cat, equipped with a pointed snout and noticeably large ears, the zebra mongoose roams (Latin: Mungos mungo) the savannahs and forests of southern Africa. It owes its name to the dark horizontal stripes on its back, which are reminiscent of the black and white ungulate.

They’re pretty clever and real little gourmets: when the zebra mongoose have captured a hard-shelled treat, such as an egg, they grab it with their front paws, balance on their hind legs, and then hurl it firmly against the nearest rock so that it breaks . They prefer to roll slimy snails or fur-covered prey on the ground before they eat – and thus provide them with a mango-style breading.

South Africa: In case of danger, the zebra mongoose stand on their hind legs and emit a sharp warning whistle

In the event of danger, the zebra mongoose stand on their hind legs and emit a sharp warning whistle

Quelle: Getty Images/500px/Nimit Virdi

The little diurnal predator lives and hunts in groups for beetles, frogs and mice. In case of danger, he stands on his back legs, gives a sharp warning whistle and dashes into his earthwork with his fellow dogs. The animals are extremely chatty – and can be heard from afar. They chirp, whistle and cheek. How cute they look is shown in a video in which the Zoo Bioparc Valencia presented the offspring of its zebra mongoose in summer 2019:

The offspring of the zebra mongooses presented to the public

The zoo Bioparc Valencia has presented the offspring of its mongoose to the public. The animals were born on June 21st.

In South Africa, King Shaka is a national hero

The fact that the Zulu grew from a clan to the largest ethnic group in South Africa, now numbering eleven million people, is thanks to a man: King Shaka. Born in 1787 in what is now KwaZulu-Natal as the illegitimate child of a chief, Shaka became a warrior at an early age and, because of his extraordinary courage, quickly rose to become army commander.

Less than 30 years old, he took over his father’s tribe and was thus the master of more than 1500 Zulu in an area of ​​15 square kilometers. Through tight military leadership, rigorous training, and carefully crafted maneuvers, Shaka’s army defeated numerous other tribes and presented them with the choice of either joining the Zulu – or remaining enemies.

At the end of his life, Shaka’s territory extended over half of Southeast Africa and already comprised a quarter of a million people. Shaka is still considered to be one of the greatest national heroes in South Africa. The Zulu celebrate him every September on “King Shaka Day”.

The Dragon Mountains are a dream for hiking

The Zulu have a much more fitting and melodious name for the jagged Drakensberg (Afrikaans for Dragon Mountains): uKhahlambawhich means “wall of erected spears”. That fits wonderfully, because the national park on the border to Lesotho is characterized by rugged mountain ranges up to 3482 meters high.

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From Tanzania to South Africa

In between thundering waterfalls, bizarre gorges, lush green valleys, rocky slopes full of caves with prehistoric animal paintings of the San people who hunted here 100,000 years ago. A dream region for hikers, there are 260 kilometers of signposted trekking paths.

South Africa: 260 kilometers of signposted trekking trails are available to hikers in the Dragon Mountains

There are 260 kilometers of signposted trekking trails in the Dragon Mountains

Quelle: LightRocket via Getty Images/Leisa Tyler

Indians came as guest workers and stayed

KwaZulu-Natal has 1.3 million people of Indian origin – so many do not live anywhere else outside of the subcontinent. From the middle of the 19th century, their ancestors were recruited as guest workers for the sugar cane plantations, and many of them stayed forever.

Their proportion is highest in Durban to this day – which can be seen everywhere in the cityscape: many Hindu temples, Indian-inspired restaurants and street food specialties such as bunny chow, a spicy curry dish in a loaf of white bread.

Mbaqanga is the rhythmic sound of rebellion

What happens when you combine traditional Zulu music with set pieces from soul, jazz and reggae? Voilà: Mbaqanga. Originated at street festivals in the early 1960s, the style, also known as township jive, was given the name of a corn porridge, which is considered to be the poor South African food.

The fast, very danceable Mbaqanga thus became the rhythmic sound of the rebellion against the apartheid regime. He became internationally known in the 1980s through the KwaZulu-Natal band Ladysmith Black Mambazo and their guest appearance on Paul Simon’s album “Graceland”.

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The quote

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play it better than everyone else “

That said Albert John Luthuli (around 1898-1967), Zulu leader and longtime president of the independence party African National Congress (ANC) for the province Natal. In 1960 he was the first African to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid policy. Luthuli was banned from traveling, repeatedly arrested and threatened, but continued tirelessly calling on the black population of South Africa to be patient in the fight against racial segregation.

He was significantly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence – who himself had spent several years in KwaZulu-Natal. When the conditions for equality for all South African residents were created in the mid-1990s, this was also thanks to Luthuli, who, however, did not live to see the end of apartheid. With the Order of Luthuli, a high state honor is named after him.

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Spectacular view of the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa: There are huge orange and banana plantations in the lowlands, tea is grown in the highlands

Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Falkland Islands: Typically Great Britain – except for the penguins

IIn the harbor there is a red telephone booth, row houses made of dark brick stand side by side. A few steps further a pub and a small tea house. The wind whips the rain through the streets, tea and scones await inside.

Folk music echoes subtly from a loudspeaker, photos of the sea, green hills, fences and sheep hang on the walls. Great Britain as it could hardly be more British. But the small coastal town of Stanley is on the other side of the world.

The almost 2000 inhabitants do everything to maintain the spirit of the Empire. But at the latest when you look into the souvenir shops, where stuffed penguins cuddle up on the shelves, it becomes clear: The gray sea that laps its waves on the pier is not the North Sea, but the South Atlantic. And the island not Britain, but East Falkland.

Source: WORLD infographic

It is easy to explain why the Falcon countries demonstrate their solidarity with the United Kingdom so clearly: The trauma of 1982, when the Argentines surprisingly occupied the islands and started a war with bombs, skirmishes, mines and raids, is still deep today.

The South American country had taken possession of the islands, which were uninhabited before the first European settlers arrived from France, in 1820. Great Britain followed suit in 1833, stationed a fleet on the islands and forced the Argentine administration to withdraw.

Argentina calls for “end of colonialism”

Since 1837, the Falkland Islands have belonged to Great Britain as a British overseas territory, which still has around 1,700 soldiers stationed there as a deterrent. In the Historic Dockyard Museum, fishermen, shepherds, housewives and soldiers tell of the 72 days of the war in an interactive exhibition.

All exhibits are labeled in English only. Which is entirely in the interests of the islanders: They voted in a referendum in 2013 to 98.8 percent to remain with Great Britain. Argentina rejected the referendum as “illegal” and is demanding an “end to colonialism” from the British.

In Argentina, the islands are still called Malvinas and continue to claim them officially. Which is also due to the rich fishing grounds and the suspected oil deposits in the South Atlantic.

No cruises to Antarctica due to Corona

But not only the ownership claims between Argentina and Great Britain have shaped life on the 200 islands. Antarctic expeditions such as that of the seafarer James Weddell and the bloody business of whale and seal hunters have also experienced the Falklanders up close.

Hard work under harsh conditions defined everyday life for centuries. Tim Miller, for example, comes from a family of sheep farmers; he moved from West Falkland to Stanley. He’s not like sheep, he says and grins.

Stanley is the only town in the Falkland Islands.  It is located in East Falkland

Stanley is the only town in the Falkland Islands. It is located on East Falkland

Source: Getty Images / Westend61

With a hunched back he walks through the long rows of his greenhouses in the hinterland, caressing the skin of the eggplant, plucking a leaf from the tomato. He proudly demonstrates the aquaponic facility, thanks to which he grows more than 50 different types of lettuce, herbs and vegetables – completely without soil.

“Everything is eco,” he says, beaming with one eye that the Falklands War left him with. “We don’t use pesticides either, we fight pests purely biologically.” An organic farmer in the middle of the Atlantic.

For 20 years, he says, he has been heating his greenhouses exclusively with waste oil from fishing boats and cruise ships – that is not entirely clean, but at least it is recycled. In general, the crusaders: Before Corona, many ships sent their cooks ashore in Stanley.

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Tim Miller was her last chance to take fresh vegetables and lettuce on board for the way to Antarctica – a business that the farmer broke away because of the pandemic. The shipping companies will probably not set course for the Antarctic again until winter 2021/22.

The mines in the Falkland Islands have now been cleared

Back in solitude, the view sweeps over the beach. White sand, blue sea – the sun has burned a hole in the clouds. The sea has calmed down. A ship rotates picturesquely in the shallow water, two whales swim along the coast and fountains of fumes puff into the air.

Wreck on New Island Beach, Falkland Islands

An abandoned ship is rotting away on the beach on New Island

Quelle: Getty Images/Darrell Gulin

Thick ropes limit the hiking trail, signs warn: “Danger – mines!” It is estimated that 20,000 landmines were buried on the islands during the war. At least the last mines were cleared at the beginning of November, three years earlier than planned, and the signs will soon disappear. But the memories, the thoughts of the war will stay alive in the Falkland Islands for a long time.

Fortunately, at this moment a rustling in the bushes distracts from the dark past. A Magellanic penguin peeps curiously out of its nesting cavity. He is not alone. The colony huddles on the beach, throaty roars can be heard when the waves carry a newcomer ashore.

Warning of landmines in the Falkland Islands

Signs still warn of the land mines that were buried on the islands during the war. But soon they should be gone

Quelle: Getty Images/Paul Grace Photography Somersham

The islands have been a favorite place for breeding and migratory birds since the Falkland Fox was extinct in the 19th century. A million penguins gather here, 63 different bird species build their nests. Not just common birds, as ornithologists assure you: with the Falkland steamboat duck and the Falkland wren, the islands have also produced endemic species – those that only occur there.

Penguins stir up the birds

A special paradise for bird lovers is New Island, a small island in the far west where the storm blows waves into the brown grass. He has shrunk the few trees into gnarled bushes. Kelp geese crouch in the bushes.

The King Penguins of the Falkland Archipelago also live under the Queen's Crown

The King Penguins of the Falkland Archipelago also live under the Queen’s Crown

Quelle: Getty Images/Paul Grace Photography Somersham

A black-browed albatross enjoys the stiff breeze. It can be carried by the thermal 80 meters up to the edge of the cliff and then floats on the spot as if it had been pinned to the sky. The giant bird, with a wingspan of a good two meters, looks to the left, to the right – and then performs a clumsy landing maneuver.

He waddles two or three steps and he is already beaking a large gray cotton ball: his chick. For hours it waited for its mother to return, isolated by thick fluff, now and then stretching out one leg or scare away an intrusive rockhopper penguin with its beak.

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King penguins in the Falkland Islands

The penguins can do that. They busily hop back and forth, annoy a cormorant here, an albatross there – and stir up the bird colony. If the hunger becomes too great, they hop over the steep slopes down to the sea.

Constant coming and going on the steep face, including minor falls. For the rockhopper penguins, the laborious renewed ascent pays off: birds of prey such as the caracara and giant petrels, which could be dangerous to the penguins, do not dare to venture into the kingdom of the albatross.

At some point the mother albatross has had enough of the screeching penguins, spreads her wings and throws herself off the cliff into the wind. Without beating its wings, it glides away, beneath it the small boat boats, the fountains of the whales – and the gray waves of the South Atlantic.

A million penguins cavort on the Falkland Islands - there is a need for communication

A million penguins cavort on the Falkland Islands – there is a need for communication

Source: Getty Images / Enrique Aguirre Aves

Tips and information

Getting there: The Falkland Islands are visited by many cruise lines, mostly as part of an Antarctic trip, such as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ( and Hurtigruten (, but due to the pandemic, they will not be offering expeditions again until winter 2021/22. If you arrive by plane, you can usually get to East Falkland via Santiago de Chile or São Paulo; however, the connections with Latam are suspended until at least March 31st ( Alternatively, travelers can book flights from the UK Department of Defense to Mount Pleasant Airport (, but this connection is currently not open to tourists either.

Accommodation: The tourism website ( provides an overview of self-catering accommodation, bed and breakfast providers and the few hotels. Guests are usually picked up at the airport, but there are also rental cars, public transport and ferries between the islands.

Crown-Info: Anyone planning a trip should find out more about entry and quarantine regulations on the islands government website, currently a 14-day quarantine is required after arrival (

Participation in the trip was supported by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Welt am Sonntag E-Tag January 03, 2021 Packshot half page

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Saxony: A divine break in the St. Marienthal monastery

Whe comes here for the first time in the romantic valley of the Neisse in the border triangle Germany-Poland-Czech Republic, rubs his eyes in amazement. On the German side of the river, close to the border with Poland, there seems to be a fairytale castle. With domes, towers and decor in the Bohemian Baroque style.

And yet St. Marienthal is nothing less than that. Behind the magnificent facades, simplicity, obedience and renunciation prevail. Women who have dedicated their lives to God and their community live here.


Schleswig-Holstein: To the Flensburg Fjord instead of the Alps

EThere are a few things that just don’t go together: socks and sandals, for example, Northern Germany and Carnival, Til Schweiger and sophisticated cinema. And planning and corona.

I actually wanted to travel through the Balkans last spring. I actually wanted to dance until dawn at the weddings of some of my best friends last year. Actually, I wanted to promote my book “I’ll stay for a beer: Bar stories from Tehran to Havana” and tour Germany with it. As I said: actually.

I don’t want to whine at all, my failed 2020 plans are pipifax in the face of other people’s problems. Canceled trips, weddings and readings are stupid, but no comparison to the existential hardships that freelance artists have been facing for many months due to the forced coma of cultural life.

Even so, it was pretty bitter at first. Until I started to change my line of sight. Instead of wandering off into the distance, I focused on what was happening at my feet. Inevitably.

No trip to the Swiss Alps due to Corona

It was my birthday last fall and my girlfriend gave me a new pair of hiking boots. My old ones weren’t really suitable for the Alps. What I once painfully felt on my bloody feet at 2800 meters in the middle of the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

It was the year 1 BC (Before Corona) and I fell in love with the most beautiful alpine rose in Switzerland. Apparently it had set itself the goal of putting my alpine skills to the acid test and climbing every mountain in the area with me. Which I did as best I could. Inspired by love, held back by my aching feet.

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That should change now. New shoes, new luck. I was ready for the summit. Ready to look for the Yeti in Reinhold Messner’s footsteps. Or at least after a good alpine pasture for the next snack.

Last autumn in the mountains was supposed to get me out of the premature northern German winter blues. Then snowshoes should be strapped under my hiking boots to admire the wintry Alpine panorama in romantic mountain huts with fondue and Schümli-Pflümli, an alcoholic coffee drink. Then, however, the second corona wave came and washed away all Alpine plans. Switzerland was again a restricted area for me.

There are five Swiss in Schleswig-Holstein alone

What we are in the now. I look out of the window of my Flensburg apartment at the drawn winter sky. Then, past the burning candlestick, onto my new hiking boots. Then to my girlfriend. She’s here for my sake and spends the cold season not in the Swiss winter wonderland, but in the gray north. I have to offer her something to at least compensate for her Alpine asceticism to some extent.

“Honey, there are 105 Swiss in Germany and five of them in Schleswig-Holstein alone. We would be in Holstein Switzerland in less than an hour, it’s a little further to Dithmarschen Switzerland, ”I explain. Meanwhile, she looks at me with a look that is somewhere between pity and dislike. We seem to have a slightly different understanding of height.

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Franconian Switzerland (Bavaria): In addition to the old half-timbered house in Tüchersfeld, a Jura rock juts out into the air

A friend of mine from East Frisia in exile, who has also lived in Flensburg for several years, had pressure on his ears for the first time when climbing the Frisian mountain. By the way, I have been living at its summit, almost 60 meters above sea level, for several years.

A fact that I can well understand. On my first class trip to the East Frisian Eierberge near Aurich, about 30 kilometers away, we climbed to almost 14 meters – almost twice as high as our dike on our doorstep. The fact that I threw up afterwards and spat on my classmate’s shoes may have been due to either the bus ride or the high altitude rush.

Even in the years that followed, I couldn’t really make friends with mountains. I once got so lost in the Frörup mountains south of Flensburg that a work colleague who lives next door had to get me out.

To the Holnis peninsula in the north of the Flensburg Fjord

Still, I have to somehow prove to my girlfriend that northern Germany is not as flat as our humor. I suggest a tour to the Bungsberg, at 167.4 meters above zero the highest point in Schleswig-Holstein. There is even a ski lift there, the most northerly in Germany, with a slope of 200 meters. “How about?” I ask and look at her invitingly. “When I’m at the sea, I want to see the sea and not pseudo mountains,” she grumbles.

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Zippert rises

All right, so off to the water. I choose the Holnis peninsula, a nature reserve in the north of the Flensburg Fjord. After a half hour drive we are in the middle of nature. The wind whips through the barren branches of the trees, the grasses and reeds that line the path rustle in the wind.

The path meanders gently uphill for a kilometer or two to the steep coast of the Holnis cliff, from which the sea and wind take another piece with each storm surge. We pass the old grave of a seaman who died of cholera on board his ship in 1839 and was buried here in the dune sand.

Schleswig-Holstein: On the banks of the Flensburg Fjord, old trees defy the salty air

Gnarled: on the banks of the Flensburg Fjord, old trees defy the salty air

Quelle: picture alliance/gscheffbuch/Shotshop

The meteorological beginning of winter was a while ago, which in northern Germany is usually less noticeable in the snow-covered treetops than in the fact that the temperature of the rain falls to Siberian levels. Incidentally, the name of the peninsula is personally attributed to the devil, who threatened to overturn his ship off the coast here. “Fetch Nis”, he is said to have called out to his servant Nis, a goblin, so that he could haul in the sails to prevent the worst.

We don’t see the devil today. Instead, a tiny bird with a black and yellow mohawk and greenish-gray plumage that looks at us curiously through the branches of a bush on the side of the path. “A golden chicken,” I say. “Isn’t that the name of the grill stall in front of your supermarket?” “Yes, too,” I laugh and frighten the little bird when I smack my left shoe and free my left shoe from the muddy ground. It’s good that I have my hiking boots on.

Golden cockerels are one of the smallest bird species in Europe;  the stripe on the head is striking

Golden cockerels are one of the smallest bird species in Europe; the stripe on the head is striking

Quelle: pa/WILDLIFE/M.Varesvuo

Then we’re on the cliff. You can’t go any higher in this area. In front of our feet it goes steeply downhill to the water. We are now even above the tops of the gnarled trees that, defying salt air and surf, grow on the beach. If you want to know how many shades of gray there are and how many facets this supposedly monotonous color actually has, you have to have been to northern Germany at least once in winter.

We stand on the cliff for a while and look into the distance in silence. The Flensburg Fjord lies before us as if it were dead. All of the sailing boats, which otherwise ensure a hustle and bustle on the water, are now winter-proof in the harbor or on land.

The sun colors the Baltic Sea red and orange

I love the Nordic winter. As a rule, you have the wonderful coastal landscape, which you otherwise have to share with bathing tourists and locals alike, completely to yourself at this time of the year.

It’s as if the stiff wind is blowing your head free of all the stress that has built up over the year. At this time, nature no longer belongs to humans, but entirely to itself. It is unruly like a wild animal.

As if to reinforce my thought, the seagulls begin to screech in the storm, allow themselves to be carried up by the gusts before they dive to the surface of the water as soon as they have spotted a fish. It is so hazy that in some places on the horizon it is difficult to see where the sky begins and where the Baltic Sea ends. Nevertheless, the coast of Denmark can be made out in the distance.

The sun is slowly tilting towards the horizon. And then suddenly they come after all, the colors. As if the sun had ignited the seemingly eternal gray, the horizon flames in red and orange colors, the sky above is wrapped in an increasingly darker blue and the tips of the reeds are illuminated with the last force of the setting celestial body, so that it almost looks like this as if they were covered in snow.

Evening mood in the Holnis nature reserve: the setting sun turns the Baltic Sea orange

Evening mood in the Holnis nature reserve: the setting sun turns the Baltic Sea orange

Source: pa / imageBROKER / Volker Lautenbach

We watch the spectacle of wind, waves, colors and animals until the cold even penetrates my new hiking boots. “What do you think we’re going home? I’ll make a nice, hot punch. It warms us up again, ”I suggest. My girlfriend is smiling at me. “That was nice,” she says as we make our way back to the car through the wind. Was it. Things are looking up.

The author lives in Flensburg, comes from East Friesland, travels a lot and blogs on

More tips for a vacation on your doorstep:


Germany: Sylt, Görlitz, Oberstdorf, Selfkant bring stamps

Dhe person is a collector and the traveler perhaps a little more. Exotic stamps in the passport, however, will be difficult to collect in the foreseeable future.

But explorers can also go hunting in Germany – in the far north, south, west and east of the republic. Anyone who has visited the four corners of the country receives a curious award: the Zipfelpass.

It was in May 1998 when the four towns in the far corners of Germany united to form the Zipfelbund: List on Sylt in the north, Görlitz in the east, Oberstdorf in the south and Selfkant in the west.

In the following year, at the celebrations for the Day of German Unity, the partnership was notarized under the eyes of Prime Ministers Kurt Biedenkopf (Saxony) and Wolfgang Clement (North Rhine-Westphalia).

The Zipfelpass lures to the ends of Germany

Herbert Corsten, 70, was mayor of Selfkant for a long time. “For Selfkant, the Zipfelbund is more than just a tourist attraction,” he says. Because the place has only existed as an independent municipality since 1969 and has only been part of the Federal Republic of Germany since August 1963. Before that, the area had been under Dutch administration from 1949. “We form the communal framework of the republic”, says a Festschrift from the Zipfelbund.

Tourists should also travel to the corners of Germany, an incentive was needed. The solution was the Zipfelpass. The document measures 9 by 12.5 centimeters, has 22 pages and is similar in size to the former passport of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herbert Corsten shows Zipfelpasses, which should be an incentive for tourists

Source: dpa-tmn

Holidaymakers receive and stamp their passport in town halls or tourist offices. However, you must provide evidence of at least one overnight stay in the respective Zipfelort. Otherwise everyone could come. No administrative act by stamp without consideration.

Pass holders must travel to the four locations within five years. So far it has been four years, but due to the corona pandemic, the period has been extended by one year. Anyone who can show all four stamps in the Zipfelpass will receive a small gift as a thank you. In Oberstdorf, for example, this is a summit book. Pardon me, of course it’s a corner book.

Corona increases the number of Zipflers

Several thousand travelers have made their way to the four corners in the past – by car, train and bus, on bike or motorcycle, on foot and on horseback. Around 100 Zipfelpasses are stamped in the town hall of Selfkant every year.

Exact numbers are not given there on request, as in the other tip locations. But the number of tip tourists is increasing from year to year, according to Selfkant. In the Corona year 2020 with the boom in domestic tourism, there was recently an even greater influx.

And this is how the four tip locations look like:

List on Sylt: look across the North Sea to Denmark

A small wooden sign on the edge of the dune marks the northernmost point of Germany. It is located in List on Sylt, on the beach in the Ellenbogen nature reserve. The car access from the road between Kampen and List branches off in Westerheide and becomes a toll private road.

The parking lot is waiting behind the List West lighthouse. From there it is only a few hundred meters to the destination: Germany’s top, with a view over the North Sea to Denmark.

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The author at the age of eight in 1968 on a roof terrace in Wenningstedt

The Zipfelpasses are stamped in the Lister spa administration. “There are guests who come over from the mainland by train and want to have the stamp in the Zipfelpass,” says Wolfgang Nicoley from the spa administration. But they categorically reject that in List – a night on site is a must.

Görlitz: easternmost city, but not the tip

There is a little cheating on the German-Polish border. The European city of Görlitz / Zgorzelec, with around 56,000 inhabitants, is Germany’s easternmost tip town – but the easternmost point of the country is around ten kilometers further north.

Saxony: View over the border river Neisse to the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz

View over the border river Neisse to the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz

Those: Getty Images / Ventura Carmona

It is located in the community of Neißeaue, which has around 1700 residents, between the districts of Deschka and Zentendorf. A boulder there points to the point in the middle of the Neisse, which can be reached from Zentendorf via winding dirt roads.

Oberstdorf: tourist magnet in the Allgäu

In Oberstdorf there is the stamp in town, but anyone looking for the absolute southernmost point has to be fit and sure-footed. It is not a “Sunday walk”, says Miriam Frietsch from the tourist office, but “a day trip of eight to ten hours”.

Day trippers on the Fellhorn: Oberstdorf im Allgäu is the southern tip of Germany

Day trippers on the Fellhorn: Oberstdorf im Allgäu is the southern tip of Germany

Source: dpa-tmn

The Zipfelstürmer come by bike – preferably an e-bike – and on foot from the Fellhornbahn car park via the hamlet of Einödsbach to the Speicherhütte. We then continue on foot. Hikers describe the path to the Trifthütte as exhausting and muddy.

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Zippert rises

Nothing is signposted at Haldenwanger Eck, the last few meters become a scramble. Finale on the rocky slope: The boundary stone 147 is at an altitude of 1931 meters. You can’t go any further south, there at the border triangle of Bavaria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. A lonely place.

Selfkant: Near the narrowest point in the Netherlands

With your feet still in Germany, with your back already in the Netherlands: This is how it works on the quiet bench that stands at the westernmost point of Germany in Selfkant-Isenbruch.

A footbridge on Rodebach leads visitors to the tip point, marked by a bright red stick in the middle of the water. Westzipfel adventure area, that’s what they call the pretty tourist destination on Kreisstraße 1.

With the help of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Selfkant invested half a million euros in 2015 in benches, footbridges and bars, toilets, parking spaces – and thus became a case for the taxpayers’ association. That was a waste of money, the guards ranted about the money pots. But calm has long returned.

This footbridge in Selfkant-Isenbruch leads to the westernmost point of the country

This footbridge in Selfkant-Isenbruch leads to the westernmost point of the country

Source: dpa-tmn

Many visitors spend the night in one of the 75 Selfkanter guest beds. Some spend a few days in the Zipfelort. On a bike tour in the region you will discover the narrowest part of the Netherlands (“Het smalste stukje Nederland”), it is only 4.8 kilometers wide.

If you cycle straight west, you can even quickly reach a third EU country: the Belgian municipality of Dilsen-Stokkem on the Meuse.

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These German ruins are worth the trip

Germany’s landscapes are full of ruins. Many of them are worth a visit. WELT gives seven tips for short trips to beautiful and bizarre fragments in north, south, east and west.


Madeira: where fans grab Cristiano Ronaldo’s crotch

Madeira island

Portugal close to Africa: Madeira – which, together with the neighboring country Porto Santo and a few uninhabited mini-islands, belongs to the autonomous region of Madeira – is known for its year-round spring-like climate and its rich flora, to which it owes the nickname Flower Island. Around 700 kilometers off the Moroccan coast in the Atlantic, you will find green parks and gardens full of hydrangeas, strelitzia and caplilies, rugged cliffs and extensive laurel forests all over Madeira.

Because Madeira was created through volcanic activity and was never connected to the mainland, some special species developed here, such as the Madeira cabbage white butterfly or the Madeira lizard, which can only be found here. It is believed that the island of Atlantis, which the Roman historian and writer Pliny the Elder mentions in his “Natural History” around 77 AD, is Madeira.

The name of the island’s capital, Funchal, means something like “a lot of fennel” – that is what the Portuguese saw when they landed on the island in 1419: a thick vegetation with wild fennel.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The most promising way to get around on the 741 square kilometer island is to use one of the eleven cable cars that connect interesting places, such as the botanical garden with the village of Monte above the island’s capital. The most idiosyncratic means of transport is a basket sledge, with which the return journey through the narrow and steeply sloping streets can be covered in record time – pushed by the carreiros, men dressed entirely in white with straw hats and leather boots.

Awarded as the world’s leading island destination for the sixth time in a row at the “World Travel Awards” in 2020, Madeira is currently one of the few areas in Europe for which there is no travel warning from the German Foreign Office.

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A negative PCR test must be presented for entry. Alternatively, you can have yourself tested at the airport, but then you have to be in isolation for around twelve hours before the result is available.

A statue in honor of the world footballer Cristiano Ronaldo

Madeira’s most famous son is without a doubt Cristiano Ronaldo. Born in Funchal in 1985, the five-time world footballer opened his own hotel with the “Pestana CR7 Funchal”. There is also a museum and a statue dedicated to him on the island.

“The statue is more beautiful than me,” said Ronaldo in 2014 at the unveiling of the three-meter-high, bronze monument near the harbor – more beautiful than the abundantly unsuccessful and now revised bust that was on view for a long time at the airport named after Ronaldo it at most.

The step, which visitors love to touch, is particularly striking that it now shines golden. The “Museu CR7”, in front of which the monument stands, is dedicated solely to the numerous prizes and awards that the athlete has won so far.

Funchal, Madeira: Fans are so fond of touching the crotch of the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo that it now shines golden

Fans touch the crotch of the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo so much that it now shines golden

Source: pa / empics / Adam Davy

The black scabbard fish is a delicacy

Definitely try: the island specialties Espetada (a meat skewer) and Espada (an eel-like fish found in the North Atlantic). The black scabbard fish, as it is called in German, is one and a half meters long when fully grown, lives at depths of up to 1700 meters and only rises to higher water layers at night, where it is sometimes used by fishermen.

Due to the pressure difference, it changes its color from a copper tone to black in the air. He is the most popular with banana, so served with the Madeira native banana.

Espada: The black scabbard fish lives at depths of up to 1700 meters

The black scabbard fish lives at depths of up to 1700 meters

Source: WORLD infographic

Sisi made the luxury hotel “Reid’s Palace” famous

“Reid’s Palace” is Madeira’s most famous hotel – and one of the most expensive. Built in 1891, the luxury house quickly attracted wealthy Europeans fleeing the cold and damp winter – especially after the Austrian Empress Sisi spent a month and a half here two years after opening and made Madeira a trendy destination. The Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw took dance lessons here in order to be able to take part in the Saturday (and still held) dinner dance.

When business was down in the post-war period, the idea of ​​inviting former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill came up. He came in the 1950s, wrote his memoirs here, regularly strolled through the terraced gardens with its mimosa and bougainvillea, and in the following years attracted British tourists to the island. The “Reid’s Palace”, now part of the luxury brand Belmond, is celebrating its 130th birthday this year.

The luxury hotel “Reid’s Palace” was built in 1891

Quelle: mauritius images / eye35 stock / Alamy

The laurel forest is a Unesco World Heritage Site

Madeira’s laurel forest, the largest in the world, measures 150 square kilometers. It covers about a fifth of the island. The forest, also known as Laurisilva, which thrives on the island from an altitude of 300 meters, consists of subtropical plants that were native to large parts of the Mediterranean region in the warm Tertiary age 66 to 2.6 million years ago and disappeared there during the ice ages.

In the Atlantic, laurel forests can also be found in the Azores and some Canary Islands. Because of its size and uniqueness, Madeira’s laurel forest, which in remote locations still has the character of a primeval forest, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Madeira has wonderful hiking trails - they also lead through old laurel forests

Madeira has wonderful hiking trails – they also lead through old laurel forests

Source: pa / imageBROKER / Michael Weber

Seafarers brought Madeira wine from Portugal to the United States

Madeira’s most important export is a wine that bears the island’s name. It is made from four grape varieties called Sercial, Verdelho, Boal and Malvasia and then stored in wooden barrels for at least three years. But there are also wines in the “Over Forty Years Old” class, which have matured for more than 40 years.

The grape harvest takes place in August and September, when the smell of must penetrates the around 4,000 wine cellars and many private houses. Due to its high alcohol content (up to 22 percent) and its large residual sweetness, which makes it the perfect aperitif or digestif, it has a long shelf life even in opened bottles.

Madeira wine was popular with seafarers centuries ago and was often taken to America – in 1776, George Washington toasted with it to celebrate the US Declaration of Independence. In 1903, Madeira sauce was invented on the occasion of a banquet for the Belgian Prince Albert, which includes Madeira wine in addition to white wine and veal stock.

Wine with a sea view: In Madeira, vines only thrive near the coast, here in the south near the town of Estreito de Camara de Lobos

In Madeira, vines only thrive near the coast, here in the south near the town of Estreito de Camara de Lobos

Source: mauritius images / Alois Radler Woess / Alamy

The quote

“Between two huge beauties, this city smiles like a sleeping little child, safe and warm, between its parents”

With these words the mainland Portuguese Júlio Dinis, a 19th century writer who is widely read to this day, praised Madeira’s capital Funchal and its location between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains. In fact, parts of the city are located on cliffs by the sea – such as the airport, which is therefore a difficult destination to fly to and which can only be approached by pilots with the appropriate experience. Dinis, whose real name was Joaquim Guilherme Gomes Coelho, visited Madeira three times from 1869. He lived in Rua da Careira 90, where a statue reminds of him today.

Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

World on Sunday from January 3, 2021

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Vacation in the UK: what Brexit will change when it comes to travel

Europe UK vacation

What changes for travelers with the Brexit agreement

Brexit will not change too much for travelers destined for Great Britain. The most important difference concerns – but not immediately – the travel document required. Many rights remain with vacationers. An overview of the new rules.

| Reading time: 4 minutes

These are the most important points in the Brexit deal

“Good news: this is a deal!” Proclaimed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his Christmas address. But what exactly does the long-awaited Brexit deal entail? And what changes now for holidaymakers?

Dhe Brexit transition phase will end at the end of 2020. Now the new trade agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom (UK) will take effect. But how does this affect people with travel plans to the British Isles?

Passport instead of identity card

The most important change will not take effect until autumn: from October 1, 2021, a passport will be required to enter Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as the European Consumer Center Germany (EVZ) explains. The citizen’s office at the home town issues the passport. The amount of the costs depends on the age of the applicant, the number of pages and the processing time.

The identity card, on the other hand, will only be accepted for entry until September 30, 2021. However, holidaymakers still do not need to apply for a UK visa.

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There is an exception to the requirement for a passport for certain people: Anyone who has a “settled” or “pre-settled” status, is a cross-border commuter or an “S2 Healthcare Visitor” can use their ID card to enter the country until December 31, 2025 , explains the EVZ.

If you rent a rental car for a tour in Great Britain, you can continue to use the German, European or international driver’s license.

European health insurance card still accepted

And there is still good news for travelers: the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by German health insurance companies and the Provisional Replacement Certificate (PEB) remain valid for holiday trips.

After Brexit: Anyone who wants to go on vacation to London as an EU citizen needs a passport from October 2021

If you are an EU citizen who would like to go on a city trip to London, for example, you need a passport from October 2021

Source: dpa-tmn / Michael Kappeler

With the EHIC, travelers within the EU as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom can go to the doctor in an emergency and receive the same benefits as the citizens of the respective country of travel. The costs for emergency treatment are covered by the health insurance.

However, consumer advocates generally recommend additional travel health insurance for trips outside of Germany because health insurance companies often do not reimburse all treatment costs.

Passenger rights on flights between EU and UK

The EU passenger rights apply to all flights that start within the EU and to all flights that land in the EU if the airline is based in the EU. They regulate the amount of compensation, for example if an aircraft breaks down or is significantly delayed.

From January 1, 2021, it will look like this: The rights continue to apply to all flights from the United Kingdom – and to flights from the EU there by airlines based in the EU. However, they no longer apply if you are flying to the EU from a third country such as the USA with a British airline.

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Anyone traveling to Great Britain on the Eurostar train or a long-distance bus will continue to have the relevant passenger rights, for example in the event of delays. According to the EVZ, EU legislation has been converted into British law.

What applies to roaming costs

In the EU there are no longer any roaming charges for phone calls using smartphones and for mobile surfing. This rule no longer applies to the United Kingdom. However, German network operators have announced that they do not want to change any existing tariffs for the time being. If in doubt, consumers should ask their provider about the specific costs before traveling.

Due to the corona pandemic, the number of trips from Germany to Great Britain and Northern Ireland is currently significantly lower than in previous years. In its travel advice, the Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist trips to the whole of the United Kingdom. The travel law regulations for the post-Brexit period will therefore only become immediately noticeable for many people when the travel volume increases again in the future.

Changes to customs due to Brexit

After the end of the Brexit transition phase, there are hardly any effects on travel and goods traffic at Frankfurt Airport. There is no increased workload either in the international post center or in customs clearance at the airport, said a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt customs office.

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Significance for Germany

Since January 1, 2021, all freight shipments, travel and mail have been subject to general customs regulations and customs controls. Travelers entering Germany from the UK now have to pay customs duties for goods they have purchased above a certain value. As in the case of other non-EU countries, goods up to a value of EUR 430 can be imported duty-free as a travel allowance.

Also because the corona pandemic is slowing down flight and travel volumes anyway, the end of the Brexit transition phase does not mean longer queues at immigration controls. “So far there has been little impact,” said a spokesman for the federal police.

“This is a unique moment for our country”

Great Britain sealed the final break with the European Union and left the EU internal market and the customs union at midnight. Despite the trade pact, there are major changes on both sides of the English Channel.


On a world tour: “2020 was my best year, despite Corona”

Mhe had not expected the virus: When Martin Lewicki first set out on a long-planned trip around the world on December 31, 2019, to India, he had no idea how extensively Corona would thwart his plans. As part of the “One Way Ticket” column, the Berliner has been reporting on the stages of his journey every two weeks in WELT for a year. And that is far from over.

WORLD: What was the original plan for the world tour?

Martin Lewicki: Oh, I had so many plans. My focus was on the Far East because I’ve never been there: Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan – all of these were on my handwritten list that I found in my travel documents a few days ago. From today’s perspective, after the corona trauma, that sounds completely utopian.

WORLD: Did Corona already play a role in travel preparation?

Lewicki: At the end of 2019, Corona was not yet a big issue. So I first went to an ashram in India and lived there for two weeks in a dormitory with around 30 men. Nobody bothered about viruses and distance.

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At the end of January, I sat completely cut off from the world in a meditation center in South India and meditated ten hours a day in one room with around 50 other people. Even after I had access to the news again, I still couldn’t see the gravity of the situation.

WORLD: When did the virus first make itself felt as a problem?

Lewicki: When I traveled to Burma from Nepal in early March. At the transfer airport in Bangkok I was suddenly the only one without a mask – there was no obligation at the time, but almost all of the Asians wore one.

By the way, Burma was considered one of the wonderlands: Despite a border with China, there was officially not a single corona case there until the end of March. When Burma finally decided to close the borders, I knew it was going to be serious.

In Burma: Martin Lewicki visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon

In Burma: Martin Lewicki visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon

Quelle: Martin Lewicki

WORLD: When your tourist visa for Burma expired, you stayed in Thailand contrary to your plans. Was it still possible to travel normally there at the end of March?

Lewicki: It was crazy, like a game against time. Almost every hour there was new information and restrictions. Nobody knew whether a flight was still taking off or not.

I can still remember exactly: It was Saturday evening when I was stranded at the airport in Bangkok, and I took one of the last possible domestic flights in Thailand to the province of Krabi. There I took refuge on the island of Koh Lanta, because it became clear that Thailand would also go into a lockdown. I wanted to “sit out” in beautiful surroundings.

WORLD: As a stranded European, were you considered weird there?

Lewicki: The first days on Koh Lanta were really nice. While the pandemic was raging out in the world, I whizzed from one dream beach to the next on a moped. But after just a week the hard lockdown came. Travelers were suddenly seen as virus throwers who may have brought Corona to the island.

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And so I could hardly move for three weeks. I was not allowed to leave my bungalow complex and even shopping for groceries was not welcome. The locals should do this for us. Thousands of people were stuck in Thailand like me.

Fortunately, the government extended tourist visas very generously and unbureaucratically for months. And after the three-week hard lockdown was over and there were hardly any new corona cases, the tourists were no longer labeled as scapegoats.

Thailand: Martin Lewicki explores the area around the city of Chiang Mai

Martin Lewicki explores the area around the Thai city of Chiang Mai

Quelle: Martin Lewicki

WORLD: Did you have a major corona shock experience?

Lewicki: My personal corona shock was to notice that bit by bit the unlimited freedom of a world traveler was being taken from me. I had gone out into a world that was open to me and after a few months I was suddenly deprived of all possibilities. The only travel option I still had in the spring was to fly straight back.

WORLD: Why didn’t you return to Germany then?

Lewicki: You don’t go on a trip around the world spontaneously. I had planned it for six months, as a freelancer I quit my jobs or put them on hold and sublet my apartment. But stubbornness and pride also played a role, because I like to see what I’ve set in my head.

WORLD: Do Thais think differently about tourism and especially about mass tourism?

Lewicki: Definitely. I think Thailand has dramatically recognized its dependence on mass tourism. At least when I was still there, the government talked about developing a healthier relationship with tourism and wanting to pay more attention to the values ​​of the country. But I don’t know what exactly that will look like after Corona.

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WORLD: After three months, you flew again for the first time in June, within Thailand. What was different about flying now than before?

Lewicki: It was incredibly exciting and at the same time not very spectacular. I didn’t know what to expect, whether I could actually go to another province without having to be quarantined. In the end, I just had to follow three rules: wear a mask, keep your distance, disinfect your hands. And now and then fill in lists with contact details.

WORLD: Was there any prospect of continuing the journey elsewhere in Asia?

Lewicki: I was hoping by the end of August that some country in Asia would open its borders to tourists. Some, like Indonesia and Sri Lanka, announced it – and then withdrew it.

Laos was also reluctant, which was certainly a good idea given the poor health system there. At the beginning of September it was clear to me that Asia would be closed to tourists until at least the end of 2020.

WORLD: Where did it go instead?

Lewicki: After much deliberation and weighing, I decided on the Balkans. I hadn’t been to any of the Balkan countries before, and I found the mixture of southern and eastern European culture exciting.

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WORLD: What is different there with regard to Corona than in Asia?

Lewicki: In many of the Balkan countries I have observed inconsistencies and inconsistencies in the rules of conduct. For example, I was told by the police on the street to wear a mask, even though almost half of the other passers-by didn’t. At the same time, you were allowed to sit close to each other in crowded bars and restaurants without a mask.

Bulgaria: Martin Levicki in front of the Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church in the capital Sofia

Bulgaria: Martin Levicki in front of the Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church in the capital Sofia

Quelle: Martin Lewicki

WORLD: Can you even enjoy a trip around the world if the virus is traveling with you?

Lewicki: I have now come to terms with the situation. But I’m also not the type to whine around. I also know that Corona hit a lot of people really hard. That’s why I don’t want to complain about the loss of lightheartedness when traveling around the world. That was and is manageable.

WORLD: What was the best moment of your world tour so far?

Lewicki: My 2500 kilometers alone on the motorcycle through the beautiful north of Thailand. Despite Corona, I felt infinitely free.

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WORLD: And the scariest moment?

Lewicki: When my shoe claws gave up the ghost at 5000 meters in the Himalayas. It was six o’clock in the morning, dark, it was difficult for me to breathe and I had to walk down a slope as smooth as glass. There was no turning back. Suddenly I slipped with my ten-pound backpack. I could hardly hold on. Only one other climber saved me from sliding down the entire slope by pulling me up.

Nepal: Martin Lewicki with two travel acquaintances on the 160 kilometer long Annapurna Circuit through the Himalayas

Nepal: Martin Lewicki with two travel acquaintances on the 160 kilometer long Annapurna Circuit through the Himalayas

Quelle: Martin Lewicki

WORLD: Do you regret having made your world tour last year of all times?

Lewicki: Absolutely no way.

WORLD: Would you do it again

Lewicki: Let me put it this way: Despite Corona, 2020 was my best and best year.

WORLD: Is it going on around the world?

Lewicki: In the new year I want to leave for Latin America. There are some countries like Mexico and Colombia that are open to travelers – at least they still are. It might sound crazy to many outsiders given the situation, but I don’t want to stop traveling right now.

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Read past parts of the world tour series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.

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