Negev in Israel: five tips for a vacation in the desert

Wüste – isn’t that this inhospitable place where you want the people you want to be gone forever? Isn’t there a void there that is merely filled with evidence of impermanence? Isn’t the desert a space without a future, a still life, memento mori? Someone who asks like this has never been to the desert.

There are two desert zones on earth. Once in the south at the height of Australia and in the north between the 25th and 35th parallel. Europeans who want to experience the desert will find the closest one in Israel: the Negev.

It covers about 60 percent of the country – too much for the Israelis to simply hide the area. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, already closely linked the country’s fate with the Negev: If Israel does not learn to use the desert, it will not survive.

Indeed, the Israelis have gone to great lengths to make the area fertile. Israel is now one of the leading nations when it comes to agriculture in the desert. There are around 2000 greenhouses in the Negev.

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As a tourist destination, the Negev has only been on the radar of the responsible ministry since the beginning of last year. The Negev has its charms. Even if you can no longer travel there this year due to Corona, the plans for the coming year have to be made after all. Five reasons why the Negev is worth visiting:

Hiking in the spectacular Negev countryside

It’s really not an exaggeration: the Israel National Trail is one of the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in the world. From the border with Lebanon in the north down to Eilat in the south, it stretches for a good 1000 kilometers and offers a spectacular landscape including top panoramas.

Many sections of the route can be reached by public transport, luggage deliveries from A to B are also possible, so you don’t have to forego all comfort. Cell phone reception is mandatory everywhere in the desert.

The Negev desert in Israel

Source: WORLD infographic

If you are lucky, you can observe animals such as eagles, foxes, wolves, hyenas (larger than the African variant), Nubian ibex, porcupines, badgers, jackals or even scorpions, which can be best seen at night using a black light. But be careful, many of them are extremely poisonous! Much more often, however, one meets sheep and camels.

If you come across a flock of sheep on a hike through the desert, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the herding dogs. Not that these are snappy. But they quickly identify you as part of the herd they must hold together under all circumstances, which is why they find it difficult to accept if you intend to continue on your own path. With loud barking, you are repeatedly asked to line up – and these guys can be pretty persistent.

Israel: The Maktesh Ramon is a 40 kilometers long and up to ten kilometers wide crater in the Negev

The Maktesh Ramon is a 40 kilometers long and up to ten kilometers wide crater in the Negev

Quelle: Getty Images

As for the camels, they are perfectly adapted to the conditions. An animal can carry a load of up to 400 kilos and can do without water for six days. Owning camels is still part of the Bedouin tradition – animals no longer have any real practical use. In the past, they were used as pack animals and to have milk and meat if necessary.

Today they are sent into the desert and collected again after days. This has a decisive advantage for hikers: Camels always look for the most comfortable and safest way over the stony ground, so their paths are safe and easy to hike.

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Fatnas Island (Siwa Oasis, Egypt)

Every hiker should ideally carry five liters a day with them. You can spend the night in desert camps. For a hut with a mattress, a wood stove and a sleeping bag, you pay just under 90 euros a night. Breakfast and a ride on a camel are included. But it remains unforgettable when you go to the washbasin in the bathhouse in the morning to brush your teeth and look not into a bathroom mirror, but through a large round opening in the wall into the never-ending desert.

A tour by jeep in the Maktesh crater

This natural spectacle is only found in the Negev and Sinai. The Maktesh Ramon is the largest crater of its kind, 40 kilometers long and between two and ten kilometers wide. The best way to explore it is on a tour with a jeep, then you can see most of these bizarre rock formations, layers and structures. And the sunsets there are incomparable.

Negev desert in Israel: The best way to explore the Maktesh Ramon crater is by jeep

The best way to explore the Maktesh Ramon crater is by jeep

Source: Andreas Hub / laif

When you get out, you should be aware that you are walking on 200 million year old soil. Why it is like that? The crater was created by the erosion of sedimentary rock. There used to be an ocean there and it washed up a lot of sand.

Over the course of time, a harder layer of limestone has formed over this layer of sand, with the folding of the ground, mountains emerged, the part of which protruding above the water surface was slowly eroded by the ocean. This exposed the sandstone again.

After the ocean disappeared, rains continuously washed away this sandstone until a crater was formed. The important thing is that the water only found one exit to drain; if there were two, you would have been dealing with a canyon. Fun fact: there are even leopards in this area.

Sandboarding on the temptation dunes

About halfway between Beersheba and Mizpeh Ramon are the dunes of temptation. The 43-year-old Dror Bamidbar runs a small sandboarding station here. By the way, snowboarding comes from sandboarding and not the other way around, he says. However, this can hardly be verified.

If you want to zoom down the dunes here on the sandboard, you can choose between three slopes of different difficulty. Regardless of where you ride: The best thing is to stand sideways and with your legs slightly apart on the board, which, unlike a snowboard, has no binding, but only a slightly roughened surface, and then turn your upper body in the direction of travel.

Negev in Israel: If you want to zoom down the dunes on the sandboard, you can choose between three slopes of different difficulty

If you want to zoom down the dunes on the sandboard, you can choose between three slopes of different difficulty

Quelle: Getty Images

If you are not an experienced snowboarder, you should hold on to the back of the so-called tail with your right hand and stretch your left hand forward into the air to correct your balance, which automatically assumes a lower and safer riding position – and if in doubt, falls softer.

Two hours of sandboarding is an effective workout for the legs, as there is of course no lift here. You have to work independently to have fun every time (

Cycling in the desert is a challenge

You can also cross the country by mountain bike, at least in theory. Of the 1,100 kilometers of the Israel Biking Trail, however, only a few hundred kilometers are passable. 27 stages are planned, often parallel to the National Trail.

Israel: If you want to explore the Negev by mountain bike, you should be in good physical condition

If you want to explore the Negev by bike, you should be in good physical condition

Quelle: Getty Images

You should have a basic athletic constitution, a good physical condition and a certain driving ability if you want to explore the Negev from the saddle. Because the routes are mostly off-road and sometimes quite demanding.

Mountain bikes including helmets can be rented on site. When it rains you should refrain from cycling and hiking: “Flash floods”, lightning-like masses of water, surprise unsuspecting tourists again and again. You have to be especially careful when touring in dry river beds. (Information about the routes:,

Diving with dolphins in Eilat

Right at the bottom, where the desert borders the Gulf of Aqaba, lies Eilat, a city that has been taken out of a retort: ​​Hotels like Playmobil castles next to fairy-tale castles from the Arabian Nights and sober functional buildings.

Here is the “Dolphin Reef”, an extraordinary resort that attracts people all over the world. Above the water level, a beautiful complex with bars and lounges with a view of the Jordanian coast, where Akaba’s white houses glow in the sun. A wide jetty leads out onto the water.

Israel: If you are lucky, you will be visited by curious dolphins while diving in Eilat

With a little luck, divers in Eilat will be visited by curious dolphins

Quelle: Getty Images

But the highlight is a different one: Here is one of the few places on earth where you can dive with wild dolphins, touching is prohibited, of course. The animals can swim in the open sea at any time. However, they have got used to the people who have become part of their lives, and if you’re lucky, they grace you with their closeness and curiosity on a dive.

Five times a day you can snorkel in small groups with supervision or go into the water with an oxygen bottle, even without a diving license. There are 20 minutes in another world that you won’t soon forget (more info:

Participation in the trip was supported by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

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

Welt am Sonntag from October 4, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Brandenburg: Children in Ruppin Switzerland like to hike

Dhe boys are hard to keep. Adrian leans out of the carriage and sticks out his arm. Jacob’s voice almost cracks: “Piiiii-lze!” Coachman Jürgen Strache, who has so far presented his anecdotes, is startled: “It’s nice when children are so enthusiastic about nature!” He gives Chico and Hercules, the two shiny black geldings to stop the signal with reins and voice. The children jump off and scurry under the trees.

Edible or not? To be on the safe side, there is a mushroom identification book in the backpack, and the parents of the two boys have enough experience in collecting mushrooms. On the family hike through Ruppiner Schweiz in the federal state of Brandenburg, another great mushroom miracle is to come.

Our project starts in Neuruppin. From there it should go to Rheinsberg. For the sake of the youngsters, we divided the 25-kilometer march over three days – each around eight kilometers. A six and a ten year old can do that too.

The waters are the heart of Ruppiner Switzerland

The old Prussian town was already in focus in 2019 as Theodor Fontane’s birthplace for his 200th birthday. Another well-known son of the city was the builder and architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He built castles and classicist buildings on an assembly line, such as the theater on Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt or the Nicolaikirche in Potsdam.

The hike also leads along the Molchowsee riverside path. There is a lot to discover

Source: dpa-tmn

We walk along the road to Alt-Ruppin, then we finally go into the forest – into the green idyll. On the right the beech trees, above us a roof made of branches and leaves, on the left thick reeds through which the sun pinks. Soon the reeds open up to the sandy beach.

The Molchowsee – in autumn its banks are deserted – lies in the golden light. It is part of a chain of lakes that are connected via Rhin and Binenbach. The waters are the heart of Ruppiner Switzerland, a hilly, wooded terminal moraine landscape.

Fishing on Molchowsee in Ruppiner Switzerland (Brandenburg): The children hope for the big catch

Fishing at Molchowsee: The children hope for the big catch

Source: dpa-tmn

On the jetty, which seems to lead into the low sun, the children cast fishing rods – a welcome change after a good five kilometer walk.

In Molchow we take the paddle boat for breakfast

It is not far to Molchow, a so-called Rundlingdorf, around whose village square the farms are grouped. We check in at the Luisenhof holiday complex on the Rhin. Katrin Helldörfer-Schmitt rents out the seven holiday apartments.

She tells of the political issue of the last few years: the Molchower Bridge. When Fontane came across the Rhin to Molchow in 1873 to talk about the old “eerie” wooden bell tower on the village square, he presumably came over a bridge.

Ruppiner Switzerland (Brandenburg): The "Luisenhof" is right on the water, for breakfast we take the paddle boat

The “Luisenhof” is right on the water; for breakfast it goes with the paddle boat

Source: dpa-tmn

The residents had been denied this path since 2016 after the dilapidated successor structure was closed and demolished. “Opposite is the forest,” says Katrin Helldörfer-Schmitt. People waited for years for the new building, which was finally handed over on August 28 of this year.

But the next morning we get into the paddle boat to get our breakfast, which increases the family fun. Diagonally across the street we moor in the small port of the “River Café”. The children take off their life jackets and are soon munching on sandwiches and fruit from a cake stand. Back on the other bank, the coachman Strache is already waiting.

Discovered mushrooms while riding a carriage

Would you like to continue hiking in a carriage? Oh yeah! Fontane did it that way. He traveled through the area in a horse-drawn carriage and later published his travel texts as “Walks through the Mark Brandenburg”. What the poet could do, we too can.

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We enjoy the ride in the wagonette – we continue through the beech forests in an open horse-drawn wagon at around five kilometers an hour. “If you talk about decelerating today – well, that’s it,” says the coachman.

The parents almost relaxed, but then suddenly the exclamation: “Pi-iii-lze!” The boys jump purposefully from the car again. On the bank they discover large porcini mushrooms.

Brandenburg: Coach driver Jürgen Strache sits in the wagonette that pulls the geldings Chico and Hercules through the Ruppin lake landscape

Coachman Jürgen Strache sits in the wagonette that pulls the geldings Chico and Hercules through the Ruppin lake landscape

Source: dpa-tmn

Strache’s explanations that a raised bog is being renatured in order to restore order to the forest’s water balance are of course completely lost. That the gray goose and crane breed in the Ruppin Lake District and that kingfisher, otter and beaver live and that the wolf in Krangen has already killed wild game.

The mill in the forest became a hotel

The area, which is rich in mushrooms in autumn, was discovered by Berliners in the Roaring Twenties for their summer vacation, the coachman tells us on the journey, a parallel to today. How wealthy some big city dwellers were is shown by the manorial development of villages like Stendenitz, which lies between the Tetzen and Zermützel lakes.

We roll along the Rottstiel river, the connection to the Tornowsee. At its northern end is the Boltenmühle, our night camp. “It is said that Frederick the Great said that if he hadn’t been King of Prussia, then he would have liked to become a miller at the Boltenmühle,” says coachman Strache when he said goodbye.

Ruppiner Switzerland (Brandenburg): Not only Theodor Fontane passed the Boltenmühle, but also Frederick the Great

Not only Theodor Fontane passed the Boltenmühle, but also Frederick the Great

Source: dpa-tmn

In front of today’s Waldhotel, water is still splashing over a mill wheel. Shortly afterwards, the family was splashing around in the hotel’s small swimming pool with a sauna when the rain started outside.

The sun drives the clouds away on the last day of hiking. First of all, the children’s willingness to migrate is bad. But between Zechow and Rheinsberg, where there were hardly any trees in Fontane’s time, they are motivated by the abundance of mushrooms: the family hops through the coniferous forest from chestnut to chestnut, and we also find Krause Glucken, the cauliflower-like edible mushrooms, in abundance.

The fact that Rheinsberg marks the end point of our hike also fits geographically. The city is located in the outermost corner of the Ruppiner Land – once a customs post when salt and tobacco were still smuggled. But we only have mushrooms in our luggage anyway.

Picking up poisonous mushrooms has these consequences

Even before the start of the mushroom season, reports of poisoning are increasing. Biologists and medical professionals therefore advise extreme caution. Mixing up can have fatal consequences.

Tips and information

Getting there: By train to Neuruppin; If you park your car there, you can return later by bus 764 from Rheinsberg.

Accommodation: There is relatively little choice along the hiking route. In Molchow, the “Luisenhof” also welcomes you with family-friendly holiday apartments, from 80 euros for the first night, 60 euros the next night, plus ten euros per night and person when occupied by more than two people, The “Hotel Boltenmühle” is located in the forest near Gühlen-Glienicke, double rooms with breakfast from 89 euros, In Rheinsberg, the “Gasthof Endler” with in-house butchery also offers family rooms, double rooms with breakfast cost from 42 euros per person,

Leisure: Ruppiner Fahrtouristik carries out trips in the covered wagonette, from 60 euros / hour for up to seven people, Fishing permits are available from Fischerei Zeuschner in the Angel-Point shop in Neuruppin,

Information desk:

Ruppiner Switzerland in Brandenburg

Source: WORLD infographic

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Canada: Pasta and cocktails are now allowed in Québec

Die Region Quebec

She is Canada’s largest province – and the most idiosyncratic. In Québec, only French is officially spoken, English is not even the official language, although of course everyone speaks it here. About 79 percent of the eight million inhabitants are native French speakers.

You have always gone your own way here, and the wish of many to break away from Canada is still present today, but it cannot be fulfilled. The new Canadian Constitution of 1982 has still not been ratified by Québec.

And after a narrowly failed independence referendum in 1995, in which 50.58 percent of the population rejected secession from Canada, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled three years later that a province could not unilaterally declare itself independent. After all, in 2006 Québec was recognized as a “nation within a united Canada” to calm the minds.

There are two national holidays in the province: the Fête du Canada on July 1st and the Fête Nationale on June 24th. The provincial flag adorns the French Lily, a lily made of three stylized leaves.

Source: WORLD infographic

This is all a win for visitors: you get French charm plus North American simplicity. Those who throw in a few French vocabulary are well received. With Hello, Things are going well or one Health makes Québecers happy. Or rather happy.

The language police reach thousands of complaints

Every year, angry citizens send 4,000 complaints to the Québec Language Bureau because they do not feel well informed in French.

In the office, linguists make sure that the Charter of the French Language of 1977 is respected: Everything is Frenchized, street signs (Stop instead of Stop) anyway, with multilingual menu cards, French should always be written in bold. After all: Pasta and Cocktail after much debate, for example, are now allowed without translation.

Canada: If you order a cocktail in Québec, you can't go wrong

If you order a cocktail in Québec, you can’t go wrong

Source: Getty Images / Pakin Songmor

Like a city in France from the 17th century

Put on your hiking shoes and go: 135 hectares of old town, divided into the upper town on the rocky plateau and the lower town of Petit-Champlain. Upstairs, downstairs over cobblestones, through alleys and arches, past wall paintings that tell the story of the French in North America.

Vieux-Québec looks like a French town from the 17th century. Overly motivated, it was restored in the 1970s, British things were redeveloped. Still a UNESCO World Heritage Site – because of the historic city wall, it is the only one in North America that has been preserved.

The waterfall is more spectacular than the Niagara Falls

Not only is it 30 meters higher than the famous Niagara Falls, but, if you take a closer look, it is also more spectacular because it is less built up: The water of the Montmorency Falls near Quebec City falls over a rock 83 meters deep into the St. Lorenz current.

The cable car takes you up, then you walk on a suspension bridge directly over the waterfall. Sporty people take the panorama staircase carved into the rock, 487 steps. In winter the spray freezes at the foot of the waterfall sugar breadwhat looks like a giant sugar loaf.

Canada: The water of the Montmorency Falls near Québec City falls over a rock 83 meters deep into the Saint Lawrence River

The water of the Montmorency Falls plunges over a rock 83 meters deep into the Saint Lawrence River

Quelle: Getty Images

Artists make sculptures out of ice

February, when temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees, is the big time for Québec ice cream artists. They shape, saw and hammer filigree sculptures from blocks of ice: figures such as ice dancers and ice hockey players, airplanes, trucks and horse-drawn carriages – and again and again the Gallic rooster, the French rooster.

For example, at the “Saint-Côme en glace” ice cream festival in Lanaudière near Montreal and at the winter carnival in Québec City (February 5-14, 2021). Nice to melt away.

Canada: In Québec, artists use ice to create filigree sculptures like ice hockey players

In Québec, artists use ice to sculpt filigree sculptures like these ice hockey players

Quelle: Getty Images

Feed elk and deer from your car

Many Québec visitors do not fare much differently in nature than tourists in Sweden: They wonder where the moose are, a symbol of the Nordic wilderness? The animal can almost only be seen as a pictogram on street signs; it prefers to hide in the woods.

An alternative: the road trip through Parc Oméga – a twelve-kilometer drive-through wildlife park near Montebello, an hour and a half from Montreal. Elk and deer lurk along the way, having learned that carrots are handed to them from the car window. If you are concerned about your vehicle and your health: This tour is also available in a grille-protected VW Caddy.

Québec in Canada: In Parc Oméga, moose and deer can be fed by drivers

In Parc Oméga, moose and deer can be fed by drivers

Source: WORLD infographic

Maple toffee on a stick is a specialty

How about a maple toffee on a stick in winter? Maple syrup fans swear by in Quebec Maple Taffy. This sticky candy is made by simmering maple sap for a long time. The hot syrup is then poured onto a wooden stick laid out in the snow, where it curdles immediately.

If that’s too sweet for you, order Putin: crispy fries, sprinkled with cheese and soaked in gravy, often refined with a lobster topping: a hearty lumberjack mishmash. There is also the national drink of Québecers: Caribou, a kind of mulled wine, but it has it all – a mix of red wine, rye whiskey and of course a dash of maple syrup.

Canada: Maple syrup fans swear by Maple Taffy in Quebec

Sticky candy: Maple syrup fans swear by Maple Taffy in Quebec

Quelle: Getty Images

An environmental museum in the Montreal Biosphere

A round eye-catcher from afar, downright mystical at sunset. The Biosphère Montreal is in a park on the island of Sainte Hélène: a spherical dome with a grid of triangles. It has a diameter of 76 meters.

This imposing dome was originally built for Expo 67 and had an outer shell made of acrylic, which was destroyed by fire during renovation work. Now it is “open”.

It houses an environmental museum that has been dealing with climate change and sustainability since 1995. Tip: the panoramic view on the top platform inside the dome.

Canada: The Biosphère Montreal is located in a park on the island of Sainte Hélène

The Biosphère Montreal is located in a park on the island of Sainte Hélène

Quelle: Getty Images

The quote

“I’m from Québec, and every time I go to a country I say that. It’s my roots, my origins, and it’s the most important thing to me.”

Celine Dion, born in 1968, comes from Charlemagne near Montreal. She wrote music history with the “Titanic” title song “My Heart Will Go On”. She makes it clear again and again that she still doesn’t feel like an English-speaking singer. She once turned down the award for best English-speaking artist on the grounds that she was and will always be a French-speaking singer.

Today she commutes between Paris and Las Vegas, she sold her castle on a private island near Montreal for 25.5 million US dollars after her husband’s cancer death.

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An abandoned farm near Empress in the Badlands, Alberta, Canada

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

When a whale takes a joke

A whale terrified the crowd in Quebec, Canada. At first he doesn’t show himself, then suddenly he appears in front of the rubber dinghy with his mouth wide open.

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

Welt am Sonntag from September 27, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Brittany: This Atlantic lighthouse is “the hell of hells”

Europe Regional geography Brittany

This lighthouse is “the hell of hells”

The Armen lighthouse is located in the middle of the Atlantic. Building it there was so difficult that it took 14 years to complete. And there are even more unusual things to see in Brittany.

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Brittany (France): The Armen lighthouse was built between 1867 and 1881

The Armen lighthouse off the coast of Brittany was built between 1867 and 1881

Quelle: Getty Images

The lighthouse in the Atlantic

Sa Breton name means harmless “the stone”, but it is also known as “the hell of hells”: The Armen lighthouse is in an isolated location in the Atlantic Ocean – 24 kilometers from the mainland, where waves up to 30 meters high hit it threaten to devour strong winds.

Work on arms began in 1867 and, due to the extremely difficult conditions on site, took a full 14 years. The roaring sea kept the two guards captive for weeks at a time.

Initially powered by oil, the beacons have been flashing automatically since 1990 – and Armen is orphaned. In 1967 the experience report by the Breton author J.-P. Abrahams, in which he writes about his meager life as a lighthouse keeper.

The Brittany region

Brittany is in the far west of France; As the largest peninsula in the country, it separates the English Channel from the Bay of Biscay. They decisively shaped the Celtic tribes, which they called Aremorica – “Land by the Sea” – and from here they drove out with their fleets.

Brittany in France

Source: Infographic Die Welt

Today Brittany is one of the most important tourist regions in the country. It impresses with its Atlantic beaches and bathing bays, good food typical of the country and Neolithic cult facilities in the form of thousands of menhirs, which seem to sprout from the heather like gigantic stone mushrooms.

The walled city of Saint-Malo

The historic town center of Saint-Malo at the mouth of the Rance River, surrounded by ramparts, is washed by water from three sides at high tide. What used to protect the privateer and shipowner stronghold from raids makes the city a magnet for Breton visitors today.

Saint-Malo in Brittany (France)

Quelle: Getty Images/RooM RF

The self-confidence of the inhabitants of Saint-Malo is legendary: They achieved great prosperity through trade in goods from Newfoundland and India, and in 1590 they proclaimed their own republic – which only existed for four years. But to this day her motto is: “Neither French nor Breton, I am Malouine!”

Asterix – the famous Gaul

Perhaps the most famous Celt is Asterix – the Romans called the early inhabitants of Brittany “Gauls”. The “Asterix” comics have been telling stories about the Gallic village and its inhabitants for more than 60 years. In 2009 the town of Erquy made a name for itself as the alleged model for Asterix’s hometown, but there was no solid evidence.

“The daughter of Vercingétorix”

At a press conference, the Albert-René-Verlag revealed little about the new adventure of little Asterix and his big friend Obelix. Again the author Jean-Yves Ferri and the draftsman Didier Conrad are the fathers of “La fille de Vercingétorix”.


The pointing dog Epagneul

Bretons love their epagneul, the red and white spaniel. The Greek poet Oppianus already mentioned in his “Kynogetika” that the dog breed was used here around 200 AD for hunting and falconry; in the Middle Ages it is not missing in any painting about hunting parties. Even Rembrandt painted it.

The pointing dog Epagneul

Quelle: Getty Images

The pointing dog has a strong hunting passion to this day and likes to retrieve game birds. Therefore, the 50 or so puppies that are littered each year in Germany are only given to hunters and falconers.

One of the most beautiful castles in France

Brittany has 4,000 castles, fortresses and manor houses. Many of the stately buildings can be visited – for example the 400-year-old castle Le Rocher-Portail, which is one of the most beautiful in France.

The claim “Downton Abbey à la Française” is not only used to attract fans of the British series. A dozen rooms can be visited, from the servants’ room to the curiosity cabinet. The extensive castle park is available for picnics.

Where to slurp oysters

Fresh oysters are eaten raw “in their very natural simplicity an unsurpassable dish”, wrote the “King of Chefs” Paul Bocuse in his standard work “The New Kitchen” from 1977. This has not changed until today.

Eating oysters in Brittany (France)

Source: WORLD infographic

In Brittany, the municipality of Cancale has been particularly successful in breeding since the 13th century. Two varieties thrive in the self-proclaimed “oyster capital”: the European oyster and the Pacific rock oyster. It is best to slurp them on the spot.

The quote

“Ar brezoneg hag ar feiz zo breur ha c’hoar e Breiz”

The Breton proverb “Breton and faith are siblings in Brittany” refers to the Catholicism that dominated the region for a long time. Brittany and the Breton language did not become part of France until the 16th century.

The Breton language that British immigrants brought with them from their islands at the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest survived – to this day. However, with only around 150,000 speakers left, it is considered seriously endangered.

In many areas of Brittany, bilingual street signs refer to the heritage. Mini-lesson for visitors to Brittany: Thank you is called “mersi bras”.

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Swiss nationals Karel (L) and a friend Celine (R) ride bicycles with their children at the Centre Helio-Marin (Center for Sun and Sea) naturist campsite on the Atlantic coast in Montalivet, southwestern France, August 13, 2013. The Centre, created in July 1950, was the first vacation nudist camp to open in Europe. France is host to some 83 naturist sites where 60% of the holiday makers are foreigners. During the peak summer holiday period, 14,000 people spend their vacation at this nudist campsite on the Atlantic Ocean. Picture taken August 13, 2013 REUTERS/Regis Duvignau (FRANCE - Tags: TRAVEL SOCIETY) TEMPLATE OUT

This article was first published in September 2019.

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

Brittany – sweet, salty, fat!

Anyone coming to Brittany should cancel their Weight Watchers membership beforehand. In the far north-west of France, lots of flour, sugar and salted butter are a must.

Source: WELT / Laura Fritsch / Jörg Malitzki

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

WELT AM SONNTAG from August 4, 2019



Rhineland-Palatinate: Rheinstein Castle is pure German Rhine romanticism

Ahe most German of all rivers is known to be threatened with the full roar of Rhine romanticism: Brentano, Lord Byron and Loreley-Kitsch. Biedermeier dolls and Christmas decorations even in summer. An overdose of everything that is considered typically German: monuments of victorious Prussia and lovely wine with classy acidity.

Half-timbered houses, castle ruins and of course the castles. We also saw Rheinstein for the first time a few years ago from the Rhine steamer. It was love at first sight. The second time the Trutzbau showed itself while hiking through the Binger Forest. And then the plan matured to conquer Rheinstein Castle completely. At least for three nights.

But first come up! No easy undertaking even without knight armor and protective shield. This weir system asserts itself 90 meters above the river on a steep, jagged ledge.

Source: WORLD infographic

On the only access serpentine, formerly a donkey path, you conquer the first 45 meters in a constant zigzag, gasping for air at every bend and on the home straight in breathless amazement. Fortunately, the rolling suitcase is transported up through the vines on a cogwheel train. When we arrive at the top, we have to overcome the drawbridge with the iron chains and run through under the bay window with the machicolation and portcullis.

Friedrich von Prussia had the ruins redesigned

Due to good strategic planning, we are alone in our dream castle in the mornings and evenings, cared for by the four good castle ghosts of the Hecher family, who are the third generation to own and keep the German cultural monument alive.

Usually around 40,000 visitors come every year, but as soon as the gate closes in the evening, at most one green lizard can be seen here. My box seat to shake out my cushions on the second floor of the commandant’s tower would make even Frau Holle green with envy.

Rheinstein Castle, Trechtingshausen, Unesco World Heritage Site, Upper Middle Rhine Valley, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

The ascent to the castle is tough, but when you get to the top you have a great view of the Rhine

Quelle: picture alliance / imageBROKER

Whoever turns the time crank behind the walls, which are up to 5.60 meters thick, feels like in a Grimm fairy tale. Around 1316/17, the Archbishop of Mainz had the Vaitzburg near Trechtingshausen built on the steep rocky spur.

After 300 years the former toll castle gradually began to deteriorate and slumbered far longer than Sleeping Beauty 100 years. Until a real prince actually came, fell in love with the precious and kissed her awake.

Well, to be honest, Prussian Prince Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig, who is also known as Friedrich of Prussia, did not seem so completely satisfied with her appearance. From 1825 onwards, he transformed the ruins he had bought for 100 thalers into a summer residence with a Mediterranean touch, in keeping with the romanticizing, neo-Gothic ideas of the Prussian master builder Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

Rheinstein Castle embodies German romanticism on the Rhine

And so an enchanting illusion was created by 1829 called Rheinstein, a playful Sleeping Beauty’s castle including knight games: “When the prince is there, we all go to the Middle Ages”, as Friedrich’s castellan, his castle manager, described it in 1835, one would say today.

Thanks to the prince, Rheinstein is the symbol of German Rhine romanticism that has become stone to this day. The mother of all castles. Its reconstruction was the blueprint for the subsequent restoration of the many other castles that are concentrated in the Middle Rhine Valley. And one is more beautiful than the next: Katz, Sooneck or Stolzenfels are among the best known.

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But the ravages of time gnawed at Rheinstein Castle, which in the 1970s was again in a desolate state – out of date without electricity, running water, heating. And it was up for sale again, which attracted mysterious interested parties: A certain Peter Lodge from Great Britain turned out to be a bogus investor in 1974 who never paid the agreed 2.5 million D-Marks to the last owner from the House of Prussia, Barbara Duchess of Mecklenburg paid, but had sold the antique furniture before.

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Then mendicant monks of the Indian Hare Krishna movement presented themselves and wanted to take over the walls. They turned out to be the only financially potent prospects. “That made the local population nervous,” says today’s lord of the castle, Markus Hecher.

Was there a fear of a happy hippie happening on the Rhine? Before the bald-headed disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in long robes with flower chains prancing through the Burgundy garden, singing and drumming happily, and sniffing the roses? Before meditation in the knight’s hall, “Hare rama hare rama” mantras over the Rhine? Even today unimaginable.

The subsidies from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate are insufficient

Markus Hecher’s father, the Austrian opera singer Hermann Hecher, finally acquired the castle and thus saved it from “misappropriation by the sect”, as it is called in a castle chronicle. He used loans to buy the original German cultural property, which is now only inhabited by bats and kestrels, from the Duchess for the bargain price of 360,000 marks.

“The romantic has gotten away with me,” a local newspaper quotes the tenor, who died in 2011, on a faded page in the castle museum, through which son Markus guides us, who reports of a fulfilled life of his father as lord of the castle.

Rhineland-Palatinate: Rheinstein Castle is 90 meters above the Rhine on a steep, jagged ledge

Rheinstein Castle lies 90 meters above the river on a steep, rugged rock ledge

Source: pa / imageBROKER / Crossland, D.

“If we had been millionaires, we would certainly not have bought this gloomy, empty castle, we would have invested the money,” says Markus Hecher, remembering the time when he was a 16-year-old teenager – with a castle but no stereo. “My father was an idealist, a very emotional person who didn’t think about the maintenance costs. That was probably a little naive. ”

The renovation of the building, the electrification and the repurchase of the original antique furniture had given his father many sleepless nights. With the help of a support association – with castle fans as far as Japan – the financial gaps that could not be covered by grants from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate alone are still being filled today.

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Travel in times of Corona

Weathering and damp endanger the old walls as well as the wild boars occasionally when they shovel away tons of soil and stones on the slope within a few nights while searching for food.

Rooms, dungeon and garden are lovingly designed

A down-to-earth approach, but always with a large portion of passion – that’s how a lord of the castle must be. Unlike in fairy tales, there is not only good and bad, but the compulsion to compromise. Others build castles in the air, Rheinstein is a commercial enterprise.

And a home with many inconveniences. Markus Hecher’s father still lived in the drafty attic of the castle, today’s museum. Today’s Hechers live in the restored servants’ houses just behind the Zwinger. Drive up here in your car? Nothing! A narrow-track tractor brings the purchases up the serpentine.

Rheinstein Castle: Castle owner Markus Hecher shows his visitors around himself

Lord of the castle Markus Hecher shows his visitors around himself

Source: pa / dpa / Fredrik Von Erichsen

While Markus Hecher is talking, one thinks: How good that the lord of the castle is still showing his visitors around here himself and is not dressed in a knight’s look – with a chain hood, tunic and sword like folk guides in other castles.

Rheinstein does not need such show effects, because the 16 rooms, including the dungeon and garden, are lovingly decorated down to the last detail: There is the harp in the Red Salon on the Prinzessinnenetage, where Friedrich’s Luise herself plucked, in a nightgown thrown over the chair her bedchamber, the almost burned candle next to the inkwell and quill in her husband’s little tower room. It’s almost as if the prince just quickly disappeared to the quiet (dump) place.

Burg Rheinstein am Rhein

The bedroom of Princess Luise, who was also buried in the castle near Trechtingshausen

Source: pa / dpa / Friedel Gierth

Up and down stairs it goes over steep, well-worn wooden stairs and narrow spiral staircases in oriel and tower rooms, where you could play Rapunzel. Elegant cast iron stairs swing up to the residential and defense towers with up to five storeys – from the castle kitchen to the knight’s hall and the sideboard to the kemenaten, tiny rooms that could be heated quickly with the fireplace.

Jet fighters thunder over the world heritage site

To cut a long story short: We did not encounter ghosts in the three days, although there were three corpses in the cellar less than ten meters from our commanders’ tower: Friedrich, Luise and their son Georg were buried in the Prussian crypt.

The greatest shock are the jet fighters, who suddenly thunder with an infernal noise just over the treetops of the Morgenbachtal. “On the other hand, we had to have a special suspension built into the glass windows years ago,” sighs Marco Hecher, the junior lord of the third generation who takes care of the restaurant and wedding celebrations.

And so there are no cannonballs threatening the world cultural heritage these days. It is sound and vibrations that shake the building to its foundations.

Hall in Rheinstein Castle, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Like this hall, all rooms in the castle are lovingly furnished

Source: picture alliance / Bildagentur-online / Schoening

Tips and information

Getting there: From Frankfurt a good hour’s drive to the parking lot on the B9, from there walk up to the castle. It is a 30-minute walk from Trechtingshausen train station (

Accommodation: One night in a double room from 139 euros including breakfast (; Visit: 6 euros per person

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Sharjah: Right next to Dubai – and yet completely different

When everything goes according to plan for Sharjah, it will soon be able to shed its unofficial nickname “the unknown emirate”. Then it should be called “the previously unknown and now the third most famous sheikdom after Dubai and Abu Dhabi”, especially since the United Arab Emirates consist of a total of seven emirates, four of which are much less known than Sharjah, namely Ajman, Fujairah, Ra’s al- Chaima and Umm al-Qaiwain.

If you have a driver and ask him where Dubai ends and Sharjah begins, he’ll probably point to an inconspicuous bridge after about ten minutes and say, “Here. Sharjah begins after this bridge! ”Then you drive under the bridge and you won’t feel a big difference on the other side.

But soon the streets get narrower, you can tell that the buildings are meaningfully related to each other and were not just pounded out of the ground with dramatic gestures. You see shops instead of flagship stores, yes, you even see people walking on sidewalks, pedestrians!

Source: WORLD infographic

Sharjah City, it turns out, is, in contrast to the centers of the two better-known emirates, a city that actually functions as such.

Differences to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

So it’s more traditional than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This also means that alcohol is not even sold in the hotels in Sharjah. There are also no night clubs and bars, no indoor ski slopes, no dinosaur roller coasters and no houses that are anywhere near as high as the one next door in Dubai.

An important thing in common with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, however, is the precarious situation in terms of human rights and laws (see below). Tourists too have to fear draconian penalties in the United Arab Emirates for things that are fundamental rights in Europe. Staying here can be dangerous, especially for homosexuals, women and unmarried people.

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What makes Sharjah different from the better-known Emirates is that cultural tradition is maintained here with a view to the future. You can afford museums on topics such as art, history, calligraphy and Islamic civilization, 17 in number, which in the Persian Gulf give the best overview of the time before the oil boom.

Beautifully lit up at night: a mosque in Sharjah City

Illuminated at night: large mosque in Sharjah City

Quelle: Getty Images/© Naufal MQ

Sharjah also holds an annual book fair, the third largest in the world. In 2019, Unesco even named the city the “World Book Capital”.

However, the event did not bring the hoped-for popularity, but international protests, because Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and other anti-Semitic hate texts were also presented at the fair. Travelers should not be blinded by Sharjah’s cultural flair.

The only luxury hotel in the emirate

Other regular events are the Sharjah Biennale, the largest exhibition of contemporary art in the Arab world, and the Architecture Triennial. Most recently she dealt with urbanism.

It fits well that Sharjah is currently making a few urban planning corrections and tearing down ugly houses in order to build the new Heart of Sharjah district in the center. Interestingly, the idea behind the new buildings will be even older than those that were previously demolished.

Sharjah: stone phone booths

The cityscape is also characterized by stone telephone booths

Source: pa / Jürgen Schwe / Jürgen Schwenkenbecher

Architecturally, it should go back at least to the 1950s, i.e. to the era before oil was found in the Emirates and the region became rich. The Heart of Sharjah is comparable to the reconstruction of the Berlin City Palace: At first glance, it is a historical shell that is to be used for exhibitions and restaurants.

The heart of the project has so far been the hotel “Al-Bait” ​​(“the home”). The emirate’s only luxury hotel was built around four existing historic houses, one of which was the residence of a pearl merchant and another of Sharjah’s first post office.

You have to imagine the “Al-Bait” ​​as a collection of one- and two-story buildings with narrow alleys in between, a cream-colored mini-medina with 53 rooms and suites that is ideally suited to get lost. You are constantly standing in front of some kind of door that opens to magical inner courtyards, sometimes to a historical bazaar that no longer belongs to the hotel, or to another already completed part of the “Heart of Sharjah”.

Sharjah recalls the past

Outside the hotel, Mohammed has taken on the task of showing visitors the area. He is in his early 30s, comes from Egypt and actually wanted to be a footballer.

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That didn’t work out, instead he went to Dubai to find his fortune in the tourism industry. But because he didn’t like Dubai after a short time, he looked for it in Sharjah. “Has more heart here,” he says, “is calmer.”

He is currently standing on the promenade in front of the hotel and is pointing to a dramatic building on the other side of the bank, whose architectural style has an oriental-Wilhelmine effect: “This is the dish!”

Blue Souk in Sharjah: The architecture of the market built in 1978 is deliberately traditional

Blauer Souk: The architecture of the market, built in 1978, is deliberately traditional

Quelle: picture alliance / Udo Bernhart

And where does the next emirate begin? “Do you see the hotel over there?” Asks Mohammed, pointing to a massive structure about two kilometers away. “Ajman begins shortly afterwards,” the smallest of the seven emirates.

Shortly before that, in the “101 Café”, which sells Indian street food right on the waterfront, it is very busy, as is the “Arabian Tea House”, a restaurant serving Arabic specialties, across the street.

“The skyscraper up here,” says Mohammed, “will soon be demolished.” The apartment blocks behind it would also disappear. “If you come back in five years, everything will be ready. Nice old, but new. ”Mohammed is happy.

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are orienting themselves towards a future that one does not know if it will ever come, Sharjah focuses on a past that is long gone. The third most famous emirate has found its niche in the market.

Gigantic 3-D printer builds two-story house

By 2030, 25 percent of all new buildings in Dubai are to be created using 3-D printing.

Source: WELT / Peter Haentjes

Tips and information

Getting there: Usually a flight to Dubai, from the airport it is ten minutes by taxi to Sharjah.

Accommodation: “Al Bait Sharjah” (, double room with breakfast from 180 euros; “Four Points by Sheraton” (, double room with breakfast from 60 euros (as of April 2020)

Safety: The human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates is critical and tourists can also face jail. You should inform yourself well in advance (, extramarital sex (also rape victims are threatened with persecution), pregnancy without marriage, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, public tenderness, criticism of Islam, taking photos (also via mobile phone) are punishable. for example of public buildings, ports, palaces, bridges and more.

Information desk:

This article was first published in April 2020.

Participation in the trip was supported by “Al-Bait Sharjah”. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at


Greece: The myth of Atlantis comes to life on Santorini

Dhe earth trembles. A dull rumble and a cloud of ash herald something ominous. A huge explosion follows, which rips apart the top of a volcano with a deafening bang. Lava rock the size of a truck flies towards the viewer, glowing red streams, murderously hot, roll over the land, into the bubbling sea.

What follows are tidal waves as high as a house, which sweep over the sea at breakneck speed. Instinctively you raise your arms to protect yourself from the elemental forces, that’s how realistically you experience the apocalypse today, which destroyed all life on Thera three and a half thousand years ago.

Thera – that’s what Santorini was once called. For a year now, an Atlantis museum has been welcoming visitors to the Greek Aegean island, which it claims to be the first in the world. It is equipped with the finest high-tech.

The Atlantis Museum explains Thera

In a cinema with 3D film material, visitors sit on hydraulically operated chairs and can enjoy even more: water splashes out of the armrests. When entering the “Lost Atlantis Experience”, as the museum calls all of its illusionary magic, you have to make your way over virtually glowing lava rocks.

Watch out, it splashes: water shoots from armrests during the screenings in the museum cinema, which illustrate elemental forces for visitors

Quelle: Lost Atlantis Experience Museum/Thanasis Damopoulos

At the end of the Feuerstraße you will find a touchscreen on which you can follow Plato’s life. The world-famous Greek philosopher reported on Atlantis for the first time around 360 BC in his late works “Kritias” and “Timaeus”.

A few meters further, Plato comes to life. As a projection, it answers questions from museum visitors. Shortly afterwards you stand in front of rotating holograms that trace the geological development of Santorini from prehistoric times to the present in three dimensions.

The viewer learns about research results from 1989. According to this, Thera looked surprisingly similar to Plato’s Atlantis image 3600 years ago: a hill surrounded by rings of seawater and earth. On the upper floor, a huge Atlantis diorama provides insights into the daily life of the residents.

At the end of the exhibition there is a reality check: Plato’s descriptions are compared with the reality of Santorini using examples.

After the beach to the archaeological site of Akrotiri

The similarities with Atlantis have not stopped Giorgos Koukoulas since he came to the island 13 years ago. In 2012 he wrote a novella with “Atlantis will never go down”. Seven years later his dream of a museum came true, which he and five friends had planned and financed himself; today he is its director.

Promises a multimedia historical experience with holograms and 3-D films: the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum on Santorini in Greece

Promises a multimedia historical experience with holograms and 3-D films: the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum

Quelle: Lost Atlantis Experience Museum/Thanasis Damopoulos

“Plato wanted to embed his idea of ​​an ideal state in a real environment,” he is sure. “With its highly developed culture, its geological features and its dramatic history, it is very obvious that Santorini and the surrounding islands are the origin of Atlantis.”

If one goes in search of evidence that supports this thesis, a holiday on Santorini can also be a journey of discovery outside the museum. The first stop is the archaeological site of Akrotiri.

The place Oia is picturesquely located on the steep coast of Santorini in Greece

Blue church domes, white cube houses: the place Oia is picturesquely located on the cliffs of Santorini

Source: Getty Images / Sylvain Sonnet

Bathers who relax in intense sunshine in the 20 degree warm water on Red Beach until the end of October like to combine their beach stay with a walk through the nearby archaeological site, where a city reached the height of its culture in the Bronze Age three and a half thousand years ago. Plato saw Atlantis sink in his work through earthquakes and floods, Akrotiri was also destroyed by an earthquake around 1620 BC.

A society as described by Plato

In 1967 the excavations began in Akrotiri – which will drag on for many years. However, the work has been very insightful so far. The roughly two hectare part of the archaeological site that has been exposed so far provides information about a society as outlined by Plato as a “great and wonderful empire” in his works.

Santorini (Greece): At Red Beach with its imposing red rocks, bathers can relax in the sun until the end of October

At Red Beach with its imposing red rocks, bathers can relax in the sun until the end of October

Quelle: Getty Images

Wall paintings show a civilization shaped by trade and seafaring, which at that time was far ahead of its time. Currently they are hidden from visitors, but mostly still in the museum’s magazine. Particularly noticeable is the frieze found in the so-called West House with an armada of ships, which comes very close to Plato’s description of “The largest port teeming with ships and merchants”.

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When walking through the alleys of the 3600-year-old city, one can hardly stop being amazed at the techniques that people already had at their disposal. Houses up to three floors high, cantilevered stairs, sewers, cobblestone streets, bathtubs and toilets in the buildings illustrate the prosperity in the city, which is so well preserved under volcanic ash, that is otherwise only found in Pompeii or Herculaneum. Plato had also reported on canals and bathhouses in his “Kritias” dialogue.

When hiking on Santorini you can see the stones

Unlike in Italy, no human remains have been found in Akrotiri so far. Archaeologists suspect that in the face of increasing earthquakes, people saved themselves on their ships from the great volcanic devastation. It is unlikely that they could escape the lava flows and sea waves up to 30 meters high.

Museum guide Eugenia Liodaki considers another explanation: “The residents of Thera were used to earthquakes. Perhaps they only evacuated the city temporarily. ”Bed frames in front of the uncovered houses indicate that clean-up work began after the earthquake. Obviously, the population was not ready to give up the prosperity achieved through trade and seafaring and the fertile soil of volcanic origin.

There was also plenty of building material on the island. Once again there are parallels to Plato’s Atlantis, whose inhabitants built “towers and gates” from it. “The stones for it,” he wrote, were “partly white, partly black, partly red” – typical stone colors for a volcanic island.

Atlantis or Santorini?  Museum visitors can find out how similar the islands are - with a touchscreen and insights from Plato

Atlantis or Santorini? Museum visitors can find out how similar the islands are – with a touchscreen and insights from Plato

Quelle: Lost Atlantis Experience Museum

On a hike from Oia in the north of Santorini to the island’s capital Fira, the black and white layers of rock on the cliffs can easily be made out. The cliffs themselves are covered with a sea of ​​whitewashed houses as if they were snow-covered.

The color contrasts are the black volcanic pebbles of many island beaches, the most beautiful Santorini can be found near Perivolos. Imposing red rocks can be found on Red Beach or on the way from Oia down to the port of Ammoudi.

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So far, however, archaeologists have not come across traces of the Temple of Poseidon, whose location Plato established in the center of Atlantis. The islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni are located in the middle of the crater, which is now filled with seawater, the remaining rim of which Santorini is semicircular. Some of the hot springs praised by Plato bubble there.

If you sit on a restaurant terrace in Oia or Imerovigli with a glass of local Assyrtiko wine on a mild autumn evening, the islands enchant you in the light of the setting sun. Myth and reality slowly merge in front of the orange, then deep red horizon, which inevitably stimulates the imagination.

Santorin in the Aegean Sea (Greece)

Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information

Getting there: From Berlin, for example, with the Greek airline Aegean, stopover in Athens. Lufthansa flies non-stop from Frankfurt, and Condor from Düsseldorf. For entry by sea, air and land, there is an online registration requirement due to Covid-19. An online form (“Passenger Locator Form”) on the website must be completed at least 24 hours before departure for Greece.

Accommodation: From the “Mystique Hotel Santorini” in Oia you can enjoy a spectacular view of the crater, a night in a double room costs from around 320 euros, depending on the season and the offer (; It is cheaper to stay in the “Heliotopos Boutique Hotel” in Imerovigli, double rooms from 165 euros (; The “Istoria” is located directly on the beach of Perivolos near the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the Atlantis Museum, double rooms from 260 euros (

Lost Atlantis Experience Museum: The museum is located in Megalochori in the south of the island; admission is normally 12 euros, children from 6 to 12 years pay 6 euros. Due to Corona, you have to register and inquire about opening times ( Closing time in the low season from November to the end of April.

Akrotiri archaeological site: The archaeological site of Akrotiri is open daily, entrance fee 12 euros (

Information desk:

Participation in the trip was supported by Marketing Greece. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at


Vacation in the GDR: How old travel guides show the country

“Due to its geographical location, our republic is the intersection of major tourist connections in Europe. Travelers often want to get to know this peace state and its people better.” “Every tourist can be assured of being hospitable here, because he is in a country, whose highest political principle is humanism. “

It’s amazing how the GDR advertised itself as a tourist wonderland in travel guides published by state publishers between the 1960s and 1980s. Anyone who reads them and does not know the second German state firsthand could consider it to be cosmopolitan and hospitable, a coveted travel destination in the first league of tourism.


Algarve: In Portugal, Günter Grass also offered ink as a delicacy

The Algarve region

Dhe Portuguese Algarve on the south-western tip of mainland Europe is the most sun-kissed spot on the continent: a good 3000 hours a year, spread over around 300 days, it shines from the sky here. How good that the cooling Atlantic is close by.

Good to know for bathers: The Algarve is divided into two areas. There is the rocky Algarve west from Faro to Sagres with only small bays between cliffs (exception: the beach in the seaside resort Armaco de Pera) and the sandy Algarve east from Faro to the Spanish border with wide sandy beaches.

The whole region was culturally shaped by the Moors. From 711 to the 12th, sometimes 13th century, it belonged to Al-Andalus, the Muslim-ruled part of the Iberian Peninsula. The name “Algarve” is derived from the Arabic word for “the West”.

Witnesses of this time are, for example, the heads crowned by turbans in the coats of arms of many places or the famous azulejos, brightly painted and glazed ceramic tiles on house facades, churches and interior walls, whose glazing technique comes from the Persian region. A popular souvenir.

In culinary terms, the area is characterized by the fruits of the sea, such as grilled sardines, the cataplana fish pot and the xerém, a corn flour soup that is served with mussels, bacon and ham in Olhão, for example.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The quote

“Oh, my lost Portugal, how do I miss your southwestern coast”

Günter Grass (1927–2015) loved the Algarve and mourned when he could no longer travel there for health reasons – how much is shown by this quote from his posthumously published work “Vonne Endlichkait”.

In his house in the hinterland of Portimão – he called it “Casa Rosmano” because wild rosemary grew there – he drew a lot. To do this, he used fresh, “expressive” sepia ink, which he extracted from squid himself. Then he fried the animals and ate them with relish. “The process of obtaining ink is a pleasure.”

Sepia officinalis

Quelle: Getty Images/Schafer & Hill

Fantastic beaches for surfers and sun worshipers

Fine sandy beaches that gently nestle into the sea. Dramatic cliffs. Bizarre rock formations like arches, needles, caves, and natural bridges, perfect for Instagram photos. But there are also surfer paradises, marinas and beach bars.

The region’s 200-kilometer coastline offers more than 100 dream beaches, many of them award-winning. At Praia de Odeceixe (photo), for example, the salt water of the Atlantic mixes with the fresh water of the Ribeira de Seixe river, children can splash around in the lagoons, and surfers can ride the waves.

Sometimes the whole Algarve is simply named a top beach destination, for example in 2019 with the World Travel Award, the “Oscar of the travel industry”, as “Europe’s Leading Beach Destination”.

Beach of Odeceixe an der Algarve (Portugal)

Source: Getty Images / 500px Plus

The Portuguese water dog likes to go fishing

Fluffy, friendly, hardly hairs, so it is suitable for allergy sufferers – and it can also catch fish! Who cares that the Portuguese water dog jumps into every pool and doesn’t avoid a puddle.

Barack Obama made him famous: when he became US President in 2009, he gave his daughters a copy. Since then, dogs have been in fashion. The breed has its origin in the Algarve, where the dog helped fish. Today he doesn’t need that anymore, being cute is enough.

Portuguese water dogs

Source: picture alliance / blickwinkel

The golf courses are also attractive in winter

There are 35 golf courses in the Algarve, which – thanks to the mild climate – can be played all year round. The best place in Portugal (ranking: Golf Monthly) and one of the top 10 in Europe (according to golfworldtop100) is the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club.

The 18-hole course, located in the picturesque foothills of the eastern Algarve, was designed by Jack Nicklaus. And the Vale do Lobo Royal Golf Course near Almancil can boast of the most photographed golf hole in Europe: at No. 16, a cliff of the cliff is torn off.

The Templar Church survived the great seaquake

It is the oldest church in the Algarve. Knights Templar built the chapel in the 13th century after their victory over the Moors: Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (“Our Lady of Guadalupe”), 13 kilometers northeast of Sagres. The church was one of the few structures in the region to survive the seaquake of 1755.

Back then, on November 1st, of all Saints’ Day, waves up to 20 meters high had destroyed many Algarve locations – and with them many architectural testimonies. But this little early Gothic church only had a few cracks. It has been a listed building since 1942. Its annex houses a museum on the history of the Algarve and seafaring.

Die Kirche Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Algarve, Portugal)

Quelle: mauritius images /

The best cork in the world comes from Portugal

The region around São Brás de Alportel near Faro prides itself on being the origin of the “best cork in the world”. In fact, the material from the cork oak, Portugal’s national tree, is of such high quality that it can not only be used to make bottle corks, floor coverings and insulation, but also bags, hats, shoes and jackets – and even masks. Cork is sustainable and hypoallergenic.

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.

Welt am Sonntag from September 20, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag


Comacchio in Italy: Something like Venice – only much more dreamy

IThe water from the canals reflects facades, towers and all kinds of bridges that allow crossings here. In front of restaurants and bars you can sit with seafood and grilled eel. Teenagers meet on the Trepponti.

This impressive bridge construction of the town of Comacchio, built on 13 islands, spans three canals with five stairs. If you didn’t know better, you would think you were in Venice – with the difference that mass tourism was never a problem here.

It is not only due to the coronavirus that there are only a few holidaymakers in the 22,000-inhabitant town south of the Po Delta. Although there are nine Unesco World Heritage sites within an hour’s drive and the beaches in front of the city are also among the widest on the Adriatic, Comacchio has a secluded life compared to Venice or nearby Ravenna with its early Christian churches and mosaics.

Comacchio has a mild climate in autumn

It is precisely because of this tranquil atmosphere that a well-known pasta producer recently turned Comacchio into the backdrop of a commercial that combines Italy’s core competencies in terms of history and enjoyment with a good dose of nostalgia. It wasn’t applied too thickly.

In the heat of the afternoon, children jump happily into the canals, in the early evening half the town strolls, late in the evening there is heavenly peace, in between you can dine in a trattoria or restaurant. An idyll that doesn’t have to be invented for short films, but actually exists.

And that is particularly attractive in the autumn months. This is not only due to the mild climate, but also to the eels, which are now increasingly found in the waters around Comacchio – and consequently also in fishing nets and on the plates.

Venice’s little sister: Comacchio with its canals

Quelle: Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In fact, time in Comacchio stood still for a long time. “When I started school in 1980, I saw rats and mice on the canals on my way to school,” recalls Riccardo Rescazzi, who 20 years later was to open the first hotel rooms with bathrooms in town with his “Al Ponticello”.

In 1954 Comacchio had its own water supply at all; until then, water was brought in by boat and rainwater was collected. In 1982 the old town was connected to the sewer system. “Before that, the wastewater ended up in the canals,” says Rescazzi. “From one moment to the next, we were catapulted from the Middle Ages to the modern.”

Lagoons are part of the biosphere reserve in the Po Delta

At a time, however, when bathing elsewhere on the Adriatic was already in full swing. Today the dreamy atmosphere also means capital – not just as a location. “When the beaches get lively, it’s still quiet here,” says Rescazzi. Seven beaches extend in front of the city. At the northernmost point, the Lido di Volano, which was developed late, you can even see wild horses and fallow deer.

This is one of the reasons why Unesco declared 140,000 hectares of the Po Delta a biosphere reserve in 2015, including the Comacchio lagoons. The Po with its tributaries, the sea and the people have formed a landscape of dams, islands, water and glistening light.

In the Po Delta (Italy): The best way to explore the protected natural landscape is by boat.  But if you want, you can also cycle

The protected natural landscape of the Po Delta is best explored by boat. But if you want, you can also cycle

Source: Aldo Pavan / HUBER IMAGES

The Museo Delta Antico in Comacchio uses multimedia to explain how the estuary delta has changed again and again since ancient times, how the mouth of the river shifted north in the 12th century and sanded up navigable canals and Adriatic ports (including those of Ravenna). The lagoon landscape remained, but the great times were over with the migration of the important waterway.

The museum tells of the long bloom of Comacchio, which was called Spina in ancient times and was a bishopric and trading town in the Middle Ages – until the capricious river shifted its main bed. From then on, all mercantile ambitions were buried and the focus was on agriculture and fishing, especially the eel.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, almost half of the lagoons were drained. Many a surprise came to light. In addition to 4,000 Etruscan graves, a Roman merchant ship overturned in the penultimate decade before Christ with an astonishingly well-preserved cargo was found.

This can also be seen today in the Museo Delta Antico: clothes, sandals, bags of passengers and crew, amphorae for wine and olive oil sealed with lime stoppers, and the sword of a Roman soldier tell of antiquity.

Flamingos are serious competition to the eel

Today there are still 12,000 hectares of lagoons, which are even quieter than Comacchio. They start almost immediately behind the borders of the old town; The easiest way to approach them is by bike, which is the ideal means of transport thanks to the narrow dams and ferries. A stone’s throw across the Trepponti, the San Pietro bridge leads to a canal flanked by fishing stations with nets.

Emilia-Romagna (Italy): Trepponti is a bridge construction of the town of Comacchio, built on 13 islands, which spans three canals with five stairs

Trepponti is a bridge construction of the town of Comacchio, built on 13 islands, which spans three canals with five stairs

Source: Getty Images / MassanPH

Soon the water surfaces of the lagoons spread out. Boat tours through the lagoons start near the “Bettolino di Foce” restaurant, where eel is marinated or served as a stew. More seagulls, cormorants, herons and gray herons can be seen here than people – and flamingos! It should now be 20,000.

They came here from Camargue and Sardinia only 30 years ago and have since become an attraction that competes seriously with eels. The armada of small excursion boats approaches the pink-colored large birds, which mostly stand decoratively on one leg in the water or poke around, up to 20, 30 meters.

Po Delta, Italy: The flamingos came from the Camargue and Sardinia, and now there are said to be 20,000 animals

The flamingos came from the Camargue and Sardinia, and now there are said to be 20,000 animals

Those: Getty Images / Apostoli Rossella

Guide Emanuele Luciani has been accompanying tours in the lagoon for four years. He knows that the flamingos are the crowd’s favorites. But he ensures that his guests grasp the natural space in all its complexity.

350 species of birds, including curlews, barn owls and oystercatchers, are found in the lagoon, as well as foxes and lots of fish. The most important is the eel, which has always fed the people of Comacchio.

In autumn the museum turns into an eel smokehouse

Luciani knows all the secrets of snake-like beings. It begins with the basics: “The eel hatches in the distant Sargasso Sea and covers thousands of kilometers to Europe, conveniently to the Po Delta.” In late autumn, the fish are drawn back to the Atlantic to spawn. The fishermen from Comacchio once caught tons of them on this route – today there are far fewer because the eel is threatened.

“In the spring, the fishermen regularly opened the locks so that young animals could get into the lagoon, then they closed the gates,” says Luciani. “The eels grew, the fishermen only had to wait in their huts in the lagoon.” In autumn the hour struck the fish.

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On cold, stormy nights, like those on the autumnal Adriatic four or five times a year, adult eels strive for the sea. In the past, they were stopped there en masse by the “lavorieri”, complicated traps made of mobile barriers and fish traps at the entrance to the Adriatic.

From there the catch went alive straight to the smokehouse in Comacchio. Today it is a museum, but returns to its original purpose every autumn when eels are grilled and canned here – only on a small scale.

How things went here a few decades ago are shown on the upper floor by scenes from the film “The Woman from the River” (“La donna del fiume”) from 1954 with Sophia Loren. With sweaty arms, otherwise matt powdered, she smokes eels on a spit in the hall with the twelve huge fireplace stoves, shows her legs and cycles away after work to cross over on a ferry and bike to an island. A pleasure that cyclists can still indulge in on their tours through the lagoon landscape.

Comacchio (Emilia-Romagna, Italien)

Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information

Getting there: By car via Munich, Brenner, Verona and Ferrara to Comacchio. The nearest major train station is in Ravenna, the nearest international airport is Bologna.

Accommodation: In the old town with a view of the bell tower is the small, friendly bed and breakfast “Al Ponticello”, double rooms from 79 euros ( There are five campsites and numerous hotels on the beaches.

Essen: Eel and other fish dishes as well as pasta with seafood are available with a view of the Trepponti bridge in “Al Cantinon”, the oldest restaurant in Comacchio’s old town (Via Muratori, The “Trattoria Vasco e Giulia” in the same street ( also offers very good cuisine.

To go biking: There are good maps in accommodations and numerous routes to and from Comacchio; a path that completely spans the lagoons is to be finished next year.

Further information:;

Fewer and fewer holiday destinations can be visited

More and more countries are considered risk areas and that shortly before the autumn break. Politicians recommend vacation in your own country, if at all. The travel industry is in a crisis of survival.

Source: WELT / Perdita Heise

Participation in the trip was supported by Po Delta Tourism. 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 from September 27, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag