This time of the year everyone makes some kind of summary and resolutions for the next one. It is a perfect moment to wrap up all my travels. They may serve you as an inspiration for summer holidays or weekend trip. Some of the places have been already described on the blog, so I attached links to older posts. Others are coming soon. And if it is not enough, have a look at summary from one year ago: “2017 – travel destinations of the year”.
Botanic gardens and butterflies
2018 was definitely a year of gardens for me. I started with visiting the “Paradise Garden” in Sayn (near Koblenz) full of tropical butterflies.
Other places to see butterflies:
- Mannheim – Luisenpark
- Marburg – Botanic Garden
- Darmstadt – Vivarium
- Apolloweg – by the Mosel
- Bieszczady – all the hiking trails
In Giessen I went to the oldest existing Botanic Garden in Germany with tall trees and impressive alpine collection.
I went to Palm Garden in Frankfurt to see thousands of crocuses during spring time and exhibitions about palms and roses in summer. I also discovered for the first time the Botanic Garden in Frankfurt, which is located just next door and the entrance is for free!
Citizens of Marburg are spoiled with two Botanic Gardens and I visited both of them. The old one in the city centre is pretty small. It is more like a park, a green corner with plenty of space for a picnic. The new garden belongs to the University of Marburg and it is on the hill outside the city. Its arboretum and greenhouses are definitely worth seeing.
This year I explored more parks and gardens in Darmstadt. The Botanic Garden there is rather small and open to the public for free. It is just next door to Vivarium with a collection of animals, so it is a good idea to combine them into one trip.
The industrial city of Lodz also has a tropical garden in its centre. Palm Garden (Palmiarnia) has a collection of palms, orchids and cacti, but also a store where you can buy succulents.
Botanic Gardens are not only for looking at plants, but also a common location for cultural events. Annual Summer Festival in Botanic Garden in Mainz is full of music, art and home baked cakes.
In 2018 I took advantage of living in the wine region and went to see vineyards in different locations. I walked by the Rhine along Rheinterrassenweg in summer and by the Mosel on Apolloweg in autumn. I went on the excursion by the Nahe and swam in the swimming pool in Salinental valley.
During the trip to Bismarcturm in Ingelheim, I found tigers in a mini zoo. And I was wandering around orchards full of cherry trees in Wiesbaden-Frauenstein. I spent my summer holidays in Bieszczady where I tried slow traveling in this wildest area of Poland.
Orient by the corner
I didn’t have a chance to make any exotic trip, so I found some other spots to experience oriental vibes. I enjoyed Hanami in the gorgeous gardens in Schwetzingen, full of blossoming trees. Located not far away from there Luisenpark in Mannheim surprised me with its impressive Tee House. I was also a frequent guest in the Korean Garden of Frankfurt.
Last year I started exploring German Timber-frame Road. It made me enjoy old towns even more than before. I like how different each Market Square is, the colour composition of old houses and a variety of traditional goods you can usually buy in souvenir stores. Staying in the medieval times I went to Bensheim near Darmstadt. The historical tour includes over 20 places. However, there are more than 500 monuments in this town.
Another extremely popular site I went to see was Cochem by the Mosel. Seeing the Castle is a must. With a guided tour you can see the interiors. In a town, people walk along narrow cobbled streets and eat traditional German food. During sunset, it is nice to have an ice-cream in one of the cafes along the Mosel. I also had a chance to explore Marburg’s Old Town again and look for traces of famous Grimm Brothers.
One of my favourite travel destinations of 2018 is Sandomierz. I spent there only few hours, but it was enough to feel its special atmosphere and want to come back again. It has the prettiest Market Square, the Castle and underground tunnels opened for tourists. It lies by the biggest Polish river -Vistula.
The absolute highlight of this year is the opening of New Old Town in Frankfurt. The reconstruction took several years and the effects are amazing. It is located between Cathedral and Römer City Hall.
When I feel like visiting a new place, but the weather doesn’t encourage to go out, I usually choose a museum. The history of Rhineland is presented in the multimedia Romanticum in Koblenz. In this modern museum together with the ticket, you get a card, which you use to save any interesting information. Once back home, you just open the browser, type your code and experience everything again. Landesmuseum in Darmstadt shows the history of Hessen, but not only. It has an extensive art collection, parts about natural history and temporal exhibitions. You can spend there a whole day without getting bored.
This year Landesmuseum in Mainz had an interesting exhibition about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Visitors could see very first sketches of this cartoon and its evolution. Kids could watch old Mickey Mouse movies or draw a poster and take it home
Parks and gardens
I don’t have my own garden, but it doesn’t stop me from spending time in many of them. I go to small city parks and huge royal gardens by the castles. In 2018 I went to Wilhelmsbad in Hanau to see the historic carousel and Castle Ruins.
I went to the Rhododendron festival in Wolfsgarten Palace in Langen, which has also a beautiful collection of roses.
On the top of the Urberg hill in Auerbach, there are ruins of the Castle. In the valley below there is an idyllic park with hiking paths in the forest, mineral spring and buildings of the summer residence of Grand Dukes of Hessen-Darmstadt.
In Bad Homburg, I listened to a live concert in the Kurpark and found the prettiest Orangerie in the Castle Park.
The most unusual place I found was Vortex Garden in Darmstadt decorated with mosaics and sculptures. It was created by the artists and it is all about philosophy, energy flow and numerology.
As a garden lover, I couldn’t miss the biggest event of the type: State Garden Show in Bad Schwalbach. It provided something for the body (water from local springs) and for the soul (music and art). It was full of ideas on how to decorate your terrace or balcony. People were playing sports or relaxing in hammocks. The highlight of the day was the concert of Fools Garden (what a coincidence with the name!).
Here are some places that didn’t fit much into any of previous categories. All the places above I strongly recommend to visit. But there is one that I don’t – Russelsheim. It is small city close to Frankfurt well known among those who are interested in cars. That’s where Adam Opel is from and where Opel cars are manufactured. It is very loud because of nearby airport and ugly industrial place. The only nice spot I found was to walk along the Main river.
At the end of the year, I finally saw one of the most precious Polish touristic sites – salt mine in Wieliczka. It is very close to Cracow. More than 200 km of underground corridors, chamber more than 30 m high and modern interactive museum – that’s just part of what you can experience there. Since it was so close, I also went to Cracow to see its Christmas Market and winter decorations.
With the end of this post I wish you more wonderful travels and all the best in 2019. Below you can enjoy the gallery of all photos once again.