Hi, I’m Laurel Robbins, a free-spirited adventurer, award-winning travel blogger, cat-loving social media expert – many hats, one Canadian in Germany. I love to travel, hike, and dive – pretty much explore our planet anyway I can. I am based in Munich and have no plans to leave. It may have something to do with a German boy (J.P.) that I met on a shark diving trip in Costa Rica and later married.
I get asked a lot about where to visit in Germany, so here are some of my personal favorites:
I love castles ! Fortunately Germany has no shortage with over 25,000 of them. 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. My top three places to visit are Bamberg, the largest UNESCO Site in Germany, followed by Maulbronn, another UNESCO World Heritage Site near Stuttgart with cheeky monks. Schwäbisch Hall. also ranks highly.
I love quirky places that offer unexpected adventure. I.e the rubble mountains, found all over the country. They 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! And the Pigs and Sexuality exhibit is memorable if nothing else.
What I don’t like. I am however not a fan of saunas – think it has to do with the mandatory nakedness. Oktoberfest is a wee too crowded for my tastes, but I have discovered survival techniques – necessary if you live in Munich. Check out my resource page here.
Germans love the outdoors which fits in very nicely with my lifestyle. Most weekends I can be found hiking in the mountains. To-date my favorite hike is the Höllentalklamm (Hell Valley Gorge). Although the Partnachklamm is also gorgeous, especially in winter. Both are located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about an hour drive from Munich and easily accessible by train. 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. 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 safari drives in Namibia, observing gorillas in Rwanda, shark diving in South Africa, hiking in the Drakensberg, South Africa, kayaking with crocs in Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory, Australia. Also up there are diving with hundreds of hammerheads in the Galapagos and kayaking with whales in Canada – which I haven’t written about as of yet.
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 I also like having a home base. At this point my plan is to indefinitely live in Munich.
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 have worked in education for over 15 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. I’ve also taught classes and continued to teach online classes after moving to Germany.
I’m still involved in education having recently founded my own online social media training and consulting firm, Reach Social Media. I truly believe education can change the world and it will always be close to my heart.
My background also comes in handy when trying to learn German. 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 it’s still a work in progress. My goal is to be fluent by this time next year.
Volunteering is also close to my heart. I’m on the Board of Directors of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association, volunteer as a mentor and assist with online communications for the European Professional Women’s Network – Munich branch, am a moderator at Outbounding.org, and walk dogs at the animal shelter in Munich. I have a few other ideas tied into my social media company that I hope will help make education more accessible to entrepreneurs in developing countries.