I visited Scotland, as a journey designed to celebrate my own 30th birthday. Here are some notes on my trip.

After sleeping soundly in Meldrum House with exhaustion and intake of whiskey, the next morning I woke up with a fresh body. From the window of the room, I caught sight of a green nature in the shade of mist and gray skies, as if there are Dementors (vacuum happiness creatures in the Harry Potter series).

Our main goal is to Aberdeen to visit Balmoral Castle, privately owned castle Windsor family (name of family dynasties who ruled the British Empire at this time). Queen Elizabeth II and other royal members will stay at Balmoral Castle over the summer, namely August to October. This castle is a favorite of Queen Victoria who ruled the British Empire in 1937-1901.

Balmoral Castle is located in Deeside, Aberdeenshire, which is taken almost 3 hours drive from Medrum House by car. At Balmoral Castle, visitors are not allowed into the private rooms of the family work. Visitors are only allowed to see the ballroom, where a display of miniature history of Scotland: weapons, tartan, emblem of the noble families, jewelry, until highland games. There is also shown Fashion Queen Elizabeth II using materials typical of Scotland.

After getting an explanation from the staff of the castle, I had lunch at Café Balmoral. In April, May, June and July, this cafe provides a full menu, among them the meat broth typical Castle Balmoral which can be enjoyed with warm bread, baked potatoes, venison burger (burger venison), also salmon salad (in the area of Deeside this flowing River Dee which is famous for salmon fishing when the spring). Assorted sandwiches are also available in the refrigerator.
Flour fan base, I chose lunch with a piece of large-sized scones (which turned out to be hard) with strawberry jam. It is not worth as lunch. But, when else would I get to enjoy the scones at Balmoral Castle, is not it?

After dinner, we went to Crathie Parish Church, the church where the usual royal family worships on Sunday morning, which can be taken just a few minutes by car from Balmoral Castle. The church is only a tiny, gray with a triangular roof peaked, standing majestically in the shade of the pine tree trunked slim.

On either side of the narrow paved road that leads right to the door of the church, grow yellow daffodils (because often see the daffodils, I so fell in love with flowers often become the object of painting the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh’s). Among the graceful daffodils was placed garden chairs made of wood with the words: “May all who sit here be content and happy”.

The church was actually an ordinary village church, but are chosen by Queen Victoria who loved Balmoral to worship at once mingle with commoners. Queen Victoria (bust chest placed in one corner of two walls meeting in front of church) greatly contributed to this church, including a well-preserved is a velvet pouch from people donating.

Next, I went to Royal Lochnagar, a small whiskey-making factory, founded by John Begg in 1845. The name is derived from the name Lochnagar Lochnagar Mountain, located in the region. While the name Royal added after distillation place visited Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, on 12 September 1848. At the end of the visit, the Queen turned out like whiskey made from one type of malt production Mr. Begg, so distillation is chosen to be one of the suppliers of scotch for the royal family.

During April to October, this place receives visitors who want to see the process of making whiskey, although visitors are strictly prohibited photographing activity within the factory. In addition, the phone must be turned off when you sign into a distillation, because it was feared the signals would interfere with sophisticated equipment and cause a fire.

Whiskey distillation is one part of the agricultural community tradition since ancient times as a way to earn money. Farmers in Deeside average have a private whiskey distillation. This area is remote, but the taste of whiskey produced from this popular area is nice and in demand all over Scotland. Making new whiskey legally regulated in 1780.

In this place, we can make whiskey testing and learning more from experts. Learn how to recognize the aroma of whiskey, liquid consistency and taste of whiskey. In addition, I also found out that drinking whiskey can be coupled with a bit of water to reduce the ‘strength’, without reducing pleasures.

What happens if two doctoral students who lives in a foreign country having a small chat on one evening? A plan for fun adventure. I and my friend decided to celebrate birthdays together with trying something new, which rarely comes to mind both of us: skiing! We also agreed to learn to ski in the area Schwarzwald, Germany, the original city of Schwarzwälder a.k.a blackforest torte cake.

The Blackforest 
We chose Schwarzwald because it is strategically located, including in regions close to the German border with two other countries, namely Switzerland and France. We promise to meet in Freiburg, the nearest big city of Schwarzwald. There we rented a Ferienwohnung or vacation home. We were greeted kindly by Alvie Vömye, the owner of the house. Lodging in the form of a sort of tiny studio apartment is quite large, with a dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom.

Birthday celebration began with a triple-decker eating chocolate cake layered black cherry cream with sprinkles in each layer, and doused with kirschwasser (cherry water, alcoholic beverages of cherry, typical of southern Germany and the province of Alsace, France). That blackforest first cake that we eat directly in the home town of the cake. Delicacy very impressive!

We took a private ski courses in the area Todtnauberg, Hochschwarzwald. The consideration, in order to more freely than join the large group. Ski lessons that day started at around 14:00 pm. The morning we left, because they still have to take the train from the train station Hinterzarten, in the direction of Freiburg, followed by a bus ride away from Kirchzarten to the village of Todtnauberg. Looks several other passengers also have the same intention. However, they are complete bring their winter sports equipment.

Learning to Ski
We went to a ski equipment rental shop in the highland village of Todtnauberg. After changing costumes, we were given ski boots, one number above the usual number of shoes we wear. For rental of this equipment, we pay 10 euros per person. This is much cheaper than we had expected. Because, when checking on their pages, the price of a set of ski equipment that is 19 euro. Later, after checking again, the price of 10 euro turned out for a set of ski equipment children’s sizes! Also delicious are petite like this, we can both save up to 9 euros.

We had hobbled running shoes weighing may reach a quarter of our weight. To lift the leg was difficult. Ski boards too heavy. In fact, all of the equipment has been adapted to our height and weight.

The location is learning to ski is Muggenbrunn, which is slightly higher than Todtnauberg. Daniel, our instructor, was a friendly old man. We were taught to put boots skis. After that, the real lesson begins. Lifting the foot already shod only heavy, especially coupled with the board that it is firmly in the shoe. First of all, we must be able to stand properly. Then, to be able to maintain body balance. Ski sticks really help sustain us in order to remain standing.

Furthermore, learning to walk. Way street that first taught is the way the V-shaped, like a penguin style. The new opens, already slipping. Foot and hand we have to be really strong support the body. However, when rolled, it turned out fun. Only, if you can not put the brakes on, might crash. The next lesson is up the hill. Of course this is even more difficult. Snow already meet skis, while we still can go up as well. Daniel was already waiting for us at the top.

Another technique is the road sideways. Daniel calls side walking, one leg at a riding like climbing stairs. For us, this method is relatively easier than penguin style. Arriving at the top, we then slid again. This time of fun and amusing. Several times we fall, mostly because they can not put the brakes on the pace of the slide. Do not be mistaken, so falling in the snow we can immediately get up by itself. Difficult! Foot feels like embedded. We only can wake up, once drawn by Daniel.

The following modules are sliding and braking force called Daniel as a ‘slice’. To do this style, both ends of the skis held together at the front, so as to form a triangle position. Gliding with legs opened selebarnya, then to stop the slides, both feet opened even wider. Lola had some success doing this slide, although eventually fall as well as to curb special skill.

Imperceptibly, an hour passed. And, because we are ‘good girls and fun’, so said Daniel, he also adds hours of our courses without us having to pay more. Another bonus, we still can play its own outside of class hours. Fun …. Unfortunately, the body was not strong anymore. Hands and legs are sore. Fortunately we ‘only’ bruises. Because, said some people, when learning to ski, we must be prepared to risk body ache, bruises, or broken bones.

Across the Border to Colmar
We chose to visit Colmar, because this city is the old town became the center of a wine in the province of Alsace, France. Round-trip bus ticket-Colmar Breisach relatively low, only 7,70 euro per person and takes about 30 minutes. During the trip, we passed through small villages and expanse of prairie. The scenery is different. When outside the borders of Germany, seen houses were more colorful than in Germany. Traffic signs are installed is also not as much as in Germany.

Arriving in Colmar, many other passengers who get off at the stop Theater. We decided to go to the final station in La Gare de Colmar. We miscalculated, it turns out the distance from the station to the city center is quite far away. Understandably, we expect Colmar would like most cities in Germany alone, so out station directly find downtown.

We walked through the park Place du Champs de Mars beautiful, with a fountain in the middle. Colmar is also the place of origin of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, maker of the Statue of Liberty in New York. Entering the old city center of Colmar, we were immediately amazed at the small streets of stone and old multi-storey buildings, with a triangular roof and painted colorful. We also briefly popped into Rue Unterlinden, Musee Unterlinden seputaran, one of the famous museum that contains a collection of art, artifacts of local and international, ranging from pre-history to contemporary.

We then look for La Petite Venise, a mini Venice in Colmar region. Passing through Cathedral St. Martin, knew we had reached the Place de L’Ecole, which according to the map, there is a house that once occupied the famous philosopher, Voltaire. But exactly where, to no avail we found.

Actually, this place does not look much like Venice. Only, there is a small canal there, with some of the gondola tethered. In addition to the canal, the area is also marked by the presence of small cobbled alleys that either side there are houses, cafes, and shops with classical architecture

Café in Rue des Merchands

We did a wine tour with a visit a small wine shops are mostly found in Colmar. Strada Vino in the store, we sampled both types of wine mainstay of Colmar, which is kind of Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Both come from grape varieties that grow in the region Alsace, France. Riesling white wine smelled fragrant floral, while the reddish pink Gewürztraminer has an aroma similar to lychee fruit. Lola decided to buy a bottle of wine Gewürztraminer as a gift for his friend, who happened to be a fan of white wine flavored fruit.

Afterward, we stopped into a cafe in the Rue des Merchands, which is displayed in front of the old stuff, such as teapots, plates and cups antique. The cafe is not too large. Surprisingly, we were served by grandma! Cashier clerks were already elderly. Of course they only speak French. Forced, we use hand language and facial expressions. Fortunately, this friendly grandmother can understand we are only able to point to the menu while trying to pronounce the name of our order. We ordered thé japonais (Japanese tea) and a latte. We also ordered a macaroon, chocolate, and pistachio. Hmm … good!

After the morning we still hear and speak German, in the afternoon we were already in the French-speaking parts of the world. That is a unique and fun venturing into the border area

Important Notes:

  1. Book train tickets should be far in advance, in order to get a cheap price.
  2. The cost of our lodging for 49 euros per night for the house, plus 2 euro (25,000) for kurtaxe (a kind of compulsory dues citizens in Germany) per person per night. With that price, we will get Schwarzwald Card, a card that can be used to enter the sites for free. With this card, we can also free ride trains and buses in the area Schwarzwald, even can also be used to Freiburg and Breisach, a town on the border with France to get to Colmar.
  3. 3. The private ski lessons offered at 39 euros per hour for two people. Not including the cost of renting the equipment, such as boards, boots and ski sticks in a ski equipment rental

Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil after Sao Paulo, famous for its beautiful beaches. Communities is also famous likes to party and dance. The town is in my mind, offers excitement and appeal is endless.

Visit Peak of the Mountain Called Sugarloaf
Rio de Janeiro means River in January. This name was given by the Portuguese voyagers when first discovered the Guanabara Bay in 1502. In the bay, too, he found a granite hill 395 meters high, which has now become one of the major tourist destinations in Rio. Because of its shape resembles rock candy, the hill called Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf).

To reach the summit of Sugarloaf, there is a cable car that can accommodate up to 75 passengers. By paying the ticket around 22 US dollars per person, we can see a 360-degree view of Rio. When the cable car uphill, view of the harbor at the foot of Sugarloaf began to appear. Sailboats decorate the bay, gardens beautiful city gives coolness between buildings skyscrapers lined up neatly adorn the sides of the coast and the foothills.

After five minutes, we arrive at the first stop, Morro de Açúcar. This stone hill 220 meters high. From this hill we can see the towering Sugarloaf. From a close distance, it was clear to us why the rock is so famous granite. This hill is formed of a granite stone intact. It is amazing to see the boulder as big and as high as that!

Our next cable car ride to the summit of Sugarloaf. From there we can see the famous beaches. On the southeast side, the white sands of Copacabana beach stretching along 4.5 km, followed by Coastal Ipanema and Leblon Beach.

In the north, we can see the whole face of the Guanabara Bay. It contained dozens of small islands that adorn the blue waters of the bay and the Niteroi Bridge which divides two Guanabara Bay along the 100 km. This bridge is a connecting door between Rio and Niteroi. While in the west, the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon separates the mountainous and coastal areas.

To the Top of Corcovado
Corcovado mountain is the highest mountain peak in Rio. To reach the top, there are two alternatives. First, take a taxi, bus or private vehicles. Secondly, with the antique train ride from Station Corcovado.

Our choice fell on the historic antique wagon. Construction and railway station started in 1884 as a means of transportation for the workers during the construction of a statue of Christ the Redeemer and also as a means of transporting various building materials.

Provided four trains, each of which has two carriages. Each train can accommodate up to 360 passengers. We do not have to wait too long, because the departure is done every 30 minutes. The journey to the top of Corcovado within 3.8 km from the station begins to pass through the housing population, followed by the thick foliage of the Tijuca Forest.

After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at the station. To reach the statue of Christ the Redeemer, we had to climb 225 stairs. Throughout the journey through the rungs, there are several gift shop and cafeteria. We also had lunch while enjoying the green landscape Tijuca Forest.

At the top, we can see the statue of Christ de Redeemer stands firmly as high as 38 meters. This statue looked far into the future, with arms wide open, as if he were to bless and protect Rio. We can also see the whole face of the city, the green of the Tijuca Forest, a beautiful lagoon in the city center, beaches with white sand seductive, buildings skyscrapers crowding the city center, up to dozens of favelas, slums typical Rio

Urban Forest Tijuca
We explored the Tijuca Forest, after looking at it from a distance. Tijuca forest is a forest in the middle of the largest city in the world. Therefore, this forest is called urban forest. And an area of 32 km² of forest, the forest home of hundreds of species of flora and fauna are protected. We went with some other tourists towards Tijuca with open-topped Jeep. In just 15 minutes, we arrived at the gate of the forest.

Tijuca Forest’s history began in the mid-19th century. At that time, Rio has a shortage of water resources, as a result of the expansion of coffee plantations. The ruler of that time decided to carry out reforestation, as well as prohibit the construction of homes in forest areas. After making these forests as protected areas, water resource depletion problem was solved.

Foliage gives coolness and we can hear the chirping of birds and the occasional boisterous sound of monkeys playing in the trees. This forest is very clean well maintained. We took time to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall in the forest. Clear water hitting the rocks and flows through the woods.

We are also tracking through the woods, walking along a small river between towering trees. Not feel at all that we are only a few minutes away from the metropolitan bustle

Sailing to Angra dos Reis
We also visited the islands of Angra dos Reis, which means the archipelago of the kings. This region is very famous for its beautiful beaches and 365 small islands that meets the Gulf of Angra dos Reis. The distance is about 150 km from the city. After two hours of travel by tour bus, we arrived at the port city of Angra dos Reis. The harbor is full of traditional fishing boats lined up neatly along the marina. At the end of the marina, has been waiting for a traditional sailing boat ready to take us around to enjoy the beauty of the bay.

Soon after the boat set sail, frenetic music filled the air ship. The local tourists began move body to the music. For residents of Brazil, dancing is already ingrained. Along the way, they nonstop swaying and singing. Exciting!

Our cruise around the bay of Angra dos Reis takes about three hours. We were treated to a view of dozens of small islands dotted white sand beaches. We also stopped at some islands to enjoy the freshness of the sea and down the beach with soft sand.

Copacabana and Girl from Ipanema
My mind was ‘filled’ by bossa nova melody two songs which are very famous, Copacabana and Girl from Ipanema. Both are also the name of the beach in Rio. Although the songs made famous Copacabana by Barry Manillow it actually tells the story of a famous club in New York, his own club name obviously refers to the Copacabana Beach. Located in the city center, every day the place is invaded by hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world.

Atlantica on the highway side that touches the coast, built sidewalks wide enough. Every few hundred meters, there are stalls of fresh drinks and snacks. On weekends, the whole beach full of beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. It seemed the entire city ‘spilled’ on the beach!

In addition to the sidewalk, also provided a jogging track and a special lane skateboard. Citizens of Rio love sports. Every afternoon, the line was congested by people jogging and skateboarder. At the point, we also see a lot of beach volleyball court and some special post that provided the municipality to exercise the body builder for free.

Our hotel is located on the beach in contact with Ipanema Beach, the beach that became the central gathering of young people. To get to Ipanema, we stayed on foot. Ipanema beach developed into a tourist area after Copacabana beach, so the hotel-his hotel looks more modern and younger.

Foods Tips:
Two blocks from the beach, there is a road that is filled with a variety of restaurants, stores, and shopping malls. At lunch time we are waiting for. There are two types of places to eat in Brazil. The first, restaurant. The standard portion of the food there is quite large, it was one portion for two people is more than enough.

The second type is buffet à pesos, which means the food is weighed. The first time we found a place to eat this kind is when we stroll in one of the shopping centers in the area of Botafogo, Rio Sul Shopping, not far from Copacabana Beach. In the cafeteria area, I am interested in seeing the crowd of shoppers was weighing plate of food in front of the cashier. It was the first time I saw the payment of food in that way.

According to my husband, in Angola, he also never eaten at a restaurant like that. Angola is Portuguese-speaking African countries, because the country is also a former Portuguese colony, as well as Brazil. Perhaps, payment of food to be weighed is one of the Portuguese heritage.

Finally buffet à peso became my favorite place, because it gives us the freedom to determine the type of favorite food and the portion corresponding to the ability of the stomach respectively. In the buffet à pesos, meals are served buffet. Price per 100 grams, between 3-4 estate, not including drinks. Meanwhile, the average weight is 500 grams My plate is quite economical for the size of Rio de Janeiro

The earlier book tickets, the cheaper the price. Summer in Rio began in November through April. If you want to witness the excitement of the Rio carnival, then came in early March.

Feel free to use public transport so that more economical holiday and can interact with local residents. Unfortunately, not many people speak English. So, get ready to use the Tarzan language.Do not forget to look around the unique bikini seller here.