I am Laurel Robbins an adventure travel blogger. I love to travel, hike, and dive – pretty much explore our planet anyway I can. Although I am Canadian, I now live in Germany. It had something to do with a German boy (J.P.) that I met on a shark diving trip in Costa Rica and later married.
I’ve been living in Germany since July 2010 and get asked a lot about my favorite things in Germany so here goes.
I love castles I am trying to visit as many as Germany’s 25,000 castles as I can. I haven’t counted but I’m pretty sure that I still have more than 24,900 to visit. Here are a few of my Favorite Castles in Southern Germany.
I prefer small towns over big cities (although I love living in Munich), places that most people haven’t heard of. Maulbronn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Stuttgart with cheeky monks is my very favorite, followed closely by Schwäbisch Hall.
I love quirky places that offer unexpected adventure. I.e the rubble mountains, found all over Germany which make good use of all of the debris left over from WWII. And quirky museums, like the World’s Largest Pig Museum in Stuttgart, featuring 40,000 pig figurines – kitsch at it’s finest!
What I don’t like. I am however not a fan of German saunas – think it has to do with the mandatory nakedness or Oktoberfest – too many people. Although I do own a dirndl and this Oktoberfest song always makes me smile. And yes, given a drink or two I can be found doing the dance on a bench in an Oktoberfest tent.
Germans love the outdoors which fits in very nicely with my lifestyle since I’m in the mountains hiking most weekends. To-date my favorite hike in Germany is the Höllentalklamm (Hell Valley Gorge), although the Partnachklamm is also gorgeous, especially in winter. Both are located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I also really enjoyed hiking the Herzogstand to Heimgarten, a route favored by the Bavarian royals near the Walchensee. There’s also Berchtesgaden, one of only two national parks in Bavaria and where I haven’t spent nearly enough time. I’m also partial to the Black Forest since I spent most of my weekends there when I lived in Stuttgart. In Munich my favorite place is the English Garden, which is larger than Central Park in NYC.
I’m not a huge fan of German food, although I do like Käsespätzle. Part of this is because I have a gluten-allergy meaning that I’m allergic to a lot of it including the beer and the bread which Germany is famous for. I also think the wonderful food I’m eaten while in Italy and Spain has spoiled me. I am however a huge fan of a Hugo cocktail though. It’s my favorite drink in Germany. You should try it and let me know what you think.
My favorite travel experiences are almost always related to adventure travel or to animals, often including both. To-date these include Shark Diving in South Africa, Hiking in the Drakensberg, South Africa, Kayaking with Crocs in Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory, Australia, Paragliding in Alpe di Siusi in Italy, Dogsledding in Iso-Syöte, Finland, Cycling in Costa Brava, Spain, diving with hundreds of hammerheads in the Galapagos and kayaking with whales in Canada.
Prior to moving to Germany, I’ve also lived in Thailand, S. Korea (well for four months until I got deported) the U.S.A and of course Canada, but only ever in Alberta. I love to travel and do it often, but at this point my plan is to indefinitely live in Germany.
I also love animals but have a special affinity for monkeys and sharks. I hold a B.Sc degree in Primatology (yes such a thing exists), consider Jane Goodall my idol, and previously worked at a zoo. You can read more about my love for both Monkeys and Mountains and how they resulted in the name for my blog. Now my work with primates is limited to volunteering with chimps, although I am actively seeking ways that I can be involved with primates on a more regular basis again.
Professionally, my background is in business and education. I hold a B.Mgmt degree in marketing (that was before the B.Sc in Primatology) and a Master of Education in Adult Education and Global Change. I worked in education for over 12 years in positions ranging from teaching English in S. Korea and Thailand to environmental education at a zoo to a Program Director of business programs at a university, where I also taught classes and continued to teach online classes after moving to Germany. My education background came in handy when trying to learn German since learning languages doesn’t come naturally to me. See Best Way to Learn a Language – Besides Speaking It and 5 Fun Ways to Learn a Language for tips. I did eight months of intensive German classes, but my German is still a work in progress. My goal is to be fluent by this time next year.
Now I’m an online entrepreneur running Monkeys and Mountains, with an e-book about Bavaria coming shortly, along with several other projects that I can’t wait to tell you about…