A weekend in Freiburg

When Lars and I still lived in Brussels, we sometimes jumped in our car on a Friday evening and drove abroad. Waking upon a Saturday morning in Freiburg im Breisgau is a real treat!

We celebrated our arrival with a breakfast with some champagne.

If it had been warmer we could have had breakfast outside! The Main church is worth a visit!

The loca lmarket was cozy as well

And what about tasting some wine?


In the footsteps of Lawrence

I grew up with my grandparents and when I was six my grandmother introduced me to Lawrence of Arabia. Although I didn’t really understand the movie, thanks to the landscapes, the soundtrack and the enigmatic Peter O’Toole, this was the start of a lifelong affair with movies. Furthermore, When I saw the movie again in the fall of 2018, I discovered that part of the movie had been filmed in Spain! The next day we found ourselves in Tabernas for some exploring:

This small town is located not far from a desert, as you can see from the surrounding mountains:

Last Summer, we were back in Tabernas, for some further exploring.

On top of a hill, you can see the ruins of an 11th century castle. The local church is also worth a look:

There are picturesque villages nearby:

And there is of course the desert:

The French town that inspired a Japanese artist

The town I am referring to is Colmar, located in the Elsas.

The artist is none other than Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who delighted us with cinematic gems such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.it’s this last one where the cityscape resembles that of Colmar.

Maison Pfister clearly recognisable in Howl’s Moving Castle

Im not quite sure why I converted almost all my pictures to b&w, since Colmar with its half-timbered houses, canals and flowers is very picturesque.

the St. Martin’s Churhch is wort a visit.

For the foodies amongst you, this is a wine region!

Have a look at the trailer:

Return to Cabo de Gata – The Best of The Rest

Restaurante El Barquero

The official address is: Carrertera Cabo de Gata, 12.

During the low season, it could also be worth checking out bigger places like San José. In Los Albaricoques we could not find one single place to have dinner. This fish restaurant was the closest – and best! -option for us.

I know, paella is for lunch, but we couldn’t think of anything else as soon as we were in the restaurant. And it was delicious! A nice cold beer and this was the perfect dinner for us. Great service, fresh produce, very affordable prices, we highly recommend this place!

And some great canine company as well!

Movie location number 1

We have featured movie locations before on this website, but this is a very special one: a whole village! Indeed, Los Albaricoques served as the background for “For a Few Dollars More” by Sergio Morricone. In the movie, it is called Aguacaliente and is a Mexican village. Some of the streets bear the names of some stars. It is strange but exciting to see the Calle Lee Van Cleef or Sergio Leone.

Movie location number 2

On the road to Rodalquilar, have a look at the Cortijo del Fraile ( Farmhouse of the Friar)! This is a historical building and a movie location. According to the website of andalucia.com,

“The cortijo is an enclosure of buildings surrounded by a low white wall, typical of Andalucian estates, with a central patio, chapel with bell tower and crypt, outside ovens, and a well. 

It was built by Dominican Brothers from Almería in the 18th century, hence the name, and was also known as the Cortijo del Hornillo (Farmhouse of the Little Oven) as there was a bread oven in the central patio. In 1836, it was confiscated by the state (as part of a national expropriation of church properties) and following an auction sold to private family.”

Nowadays, the building is in a bad state, and you cannot enter the interior.

Movies that were made here:

  • For a Few Dollars More.
  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Cortijo in better times
  • La Muerte Tenia un Precio
  • La Lengua Asesina.
  • Ace High.
  • A Bullet for the General.

Have a look at this video:

This is what the cortijo looks like nowadays:


If you like ruins, there are more of them between this Cortijo and Los Albaricoques, but we are not sure if they are related to movies.

Whenever Clint Eastwood returns here to make another movie, these 2 fellows above are ready for their take!

Cabo de Gata has something to offer for everyone, whether you are a beach bum, movie buff, nature lover, hiker, … We had a lot of fun!

On Wednesday, we are back with more new content!

A Movie Location in the Heart of Brussels

This is not a movie location in the classic sense of the word, a location where a movie crew made a movie. Rather, this is a place that briefly pops up in an animated movie. The film I am referring to is The Adventures of Tintin and the location is the Brussels Flea Market. In Dutch, the square where it takes place is called Vossenplein, a reference to the nearby Vossenstraat. The French name is Place due jeu de Balle, referring to the ball games that used to take place here in the 19th century. At this market you will find vintage and second-hand stuff (clothing, photographs, decorative objects, books, …), in one word, old stuff, hence also the name ‘old market’.

The flea merket attracts interested buyers, tourists and visitors driven by curiosity. The place does have a unique vibe and is open every morning. It’s accessible via public transport, by bus (27, 48, stop Vossenplein), metro (lines 2 and 6, stop Hallepoort) and tram (3, 4, 51, 32 and 82, stop Lemonnier). You cannot buy food here but in the neighborhood, there are bars and restaurants, serving typical Belgian food.

The Flea Market of Brussels is an important place in the movie, because this is where Tintin finds the miniature ship that will lead him to a treasure hunt.

How a Classic Movie Led Us to Odessa

Summer 2010. Lars and I made our first big trip together. Starting with Sweden, we later crossed Germany, Hungary, and Croatia. It was a big revelation for me; I had never been so far north nor east in my life.

In October of the same year, we started to plan our summer trip of 2011. I was still feeling excited until Lars remarked that we could go even further east in Europe. There was his favorite country, Romania, and why not go all the way to Ukraine?

My answer? If he was serious about Ukraine, there was one place that I really wanted to visit. Odessa. And all because of a movie.

The Movie

And not just any film! One of my favorite movies ever is Battleship Potemkin (1925), directed by the great Eisenstein. This silent movie consists of 5 chapters and recounts how a mutiny onboard of a battleship leads to a massacre of many civilians, on what is now known as the Potemkin Stairs (or Odessa Steps). And this happens to be – as you can imagine – the most dramatic scene of the movie.

This is without any doubt one of the most famous movie scenes… ever. It’s very intense and many movies have paid homage to it, such as Brazil and The Untouchables.

Historical Facts

Yes, this movie is based on facts. In 1905, there was indeed a battleship called Potemkin, where sailors rebelled against their officers. The arrival of the ship in the harbor of Odessa was the cause of demonstrations throughout the whole city, during which civilians died.

But the Odessa Steps sequence is – unfortunately – fiction. The victims died in other parts of Odessa. Eisenstein – who had started filming in Leningrad and then had moved to Odessa – used this location for its dramatic effect. Most people actually believed it was true and still do so.

The Potemkin Stairs

Let’s start with some facts and numbers:

  • 192 steps in total.
  • Designed and constructed in the first half of the 19th century.
  • Replaced in 1933 because of erosion.
  • Official symbol of Odessa.

Wikipedia has some more interesting information:

The stairs are considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea and are the best known symbol of Odessa.[1] The stairs were originally known as the Boulevard steps, the Giant Staircase,[3] or the Richelieu steps.[4][5][6][7] The top step is 12.5 meters (41 feet) wide, and the lowest step is 21.7 meters (70.8 feet) wide. The staircase extends for 142 meters, but it gives the illusion of greater length.[8][9][10] Due to the sightline, a person looking down the stairs sees only the treads, and the risers are invisible; whereas a person looking up sees only risers, and the treads are invisible.

Our Visit

It took us about a week to drive from Belgium through Germany and Poland to Ukraine. During our arrival in Odessa, a heavy thunderstorm took place, which lasted for hours. Lars and I postponed our visit to the Potemkin Stairs to the morning afterwards.

I remember this visit very vividly. Maybe it’s because I’m an aspie and my senses tend to work overdrive, for me this was very intense, very emotional.

Don’t be a tourist and start rushing up and down the steps like crazy. Take your time, sit down, take it all in, admire the views. Yes, the scene in the movie is not true and these are not the original steps anymore; it’s still a special place, because of movie history.

Before and After

  • Upon arrival, a vendor sold us postcards and stamps. He also tried to make us buy caviar and a copy of the Iron Cross (Nazi symbol). We were shocked, but the man didn’t understand our reaction.
  • When we were back in the hotel, we heard the news about the 2011 Norway attacks. Quite a shock as well.

What about you? Have you ever been to Ukraine? Odessa? Did you see the steps? Or do you one day want to see them?

Later this week, we are back with some very stunning pictures, made somewhere in Spain! Stay tuned!

Exploring A Movie Location – Babette’s Feast (1987)

It is quite some time ago since Lars and I have explored a movie location! This time we discuss a masterpiece in Danish cinema and a magnificent place in Denmark. If you are a nature and/or history lover, you really need to pay this place a visit!

The Movie

Some interesting facts:

  • First Danish movie to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Denmark would win twice more.
  • Director Gabriel Axel also wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen).
  • The movie had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival of 1978 (section of Un Certain Regard). It also won a prize there. And many other awards afterward…
  • The movie features Danish, Swedish, and French actors (like Stéphane Audran, who plays Babette).

What is the movie about? It focuses on two elderly Protestant sisters, their youth, and how a French maid/cook called Babette came into their lives. The second half of the movie centers around the feast itself and its preparations. If you are interested in the menu, check this! If interested in recreating one of the courses, use Google and/or YouTube. The famous “cailles en sarcophage” are easy to prepare and are incredibly delicious (and yes, I speak from personal experience).

Have a look at the mouthwatering trailer!

Choice of Location

The original story by Karen Blixen actually takes place in Norway. Yet, when director Gabriel Axel researched locations there, he found them to be too idyllic. The north of Jutland was a better alternative. Its rough and sometimes somber atmosphere complied more with the story.

There is a lot that works in writing, but when translated to pictures, it doesn’t give at all the same impression or feeling. All the changes I undertook, I did to actually be faithful to Karen Blixen. – Gabriel Axel

The choice of Gabriel Axel ultimately fell on Mårup Kirke. This Romanesque church dates from 1250 and is located on a seaside cliff near Lønstrup. The set designer actually built the village, featured in the movie. After the production, the crew demolished it.

The Church Itself

As I said before, the church dates from the 13th century. Unfortunately, the magnificent landscape is prone to severe wind, which causes significant erosion. Until 2008, there were still services in Mårup Kirke. Afterward, it was gradually dismantled. This was done to prevent parts of the church from falling in the sea.

When Lars and I visited the region around 2012, this is how it looked like. We were absolutely thrilled to be there. Mainly because Babette’s Feast is one of our favorite movies. And we had always dreamed of visiting this location. Fulfilling this dream was an incredible feeling…

Around 2016, nature finally won. What was left of the church, is now completely gone. Of course, the breathtaking landscape that contributed a lot to the atmosphere of the movie is still there.

There are lots of smaller towns in this region of Denmark, where you will certainly find a place to stay. Best use Booking!

If you like this kind of locations, then we have some exciting news for you! Lars and I live about 100 kilometers away from one of Spain’s most famous movie locations. We have been there once, but tend to return soon in order to have more pictures. The place also happens to be one of the most unique European locations.

Two more announcements:

  • I have finally finished editing all the pictures of our recent explorations in the province of Granada. I still have to work on some videos, but at the latest on Monday, I will publish a preview!
  • Next Tuesday is Belgium’s National Holiday and this will not go unnoticed on this website either…

By the way, next week we will also be on the road again!

Exploring Movie Locations – Haunted Fortress Adventures (Colour)

For all the background information, have a look at this post. There you will learn more about the movie they made on this location, the book it was based on and the history of the building itself. Read that post first or one of this will make any sense.

Summer 2012: our first visit to this location in Sint-Katelijne-Waver. I started taking pictures at the entrance of the fortress and was struck by the beauty of the decay of the building. Important remark: at that moment, none us – writer Vanessa Morgan, Lars and I – knew anything about the history of the fortress.

Our attention then turned towards the holiday cottage where the movie took place. This is the first spot where I noticed something unusual. For your information: when I shot this picture, the sun was behind me and my lens was spotless… I converted this picture to B&W and upped the contrast a bit.

Can you see it?

We kept walking around the domain, looking at the other holiday cottages. Most of them were in bad shape, but the owners still came here or were even there at the moment of our visit. Somehow the derelict state of all the buildings gave this whole domain an odd vibe…

Initially, we had no plans to visit the fortress itself, but it was like we were somehow drawn to it. A handful of white peacocks observed us closely while we walked towards the entrance.

Ominous, don’t you think so? Neither Vanessa nor Lars had the courage to go inside first, so… they simply pushed me through the entrance. Everything was pitch-black… When my eyes had become used to the darkness, I could see that the whole ground floor was covered with garbage. It was piled up so high that no light could actually come in.

After groping around in the darkness and a lot of giggling when we bumped into each other, the three of us finally made our way to the first floor. There we could finally start photographing.

During our whole visit to this location, I couldn’t shake off an eerie feeling… I wasn’t at ease, especially during our time in the fortress itself. But I really creeped out when I started to edit the pictures at home.

A peculiar detail had struck the three of us when we were on the first floor of the fortress. In every room there was at least one chair; all of them were surrounded by candles. Now, have a close look again at the pictures above and you will see that all or some of the candles are gone… Or are my eyes really deceiving me? Strange isn’t it, because usually on pictures taken in haunted places, things appear. Here, things disappeared

We have been to other places – in all Europe – to do some urban exploring, but this is still one of my big favourites. I will never forget that special vibe, in and around that fortress.

Next week, we will take you to other corners in Europe. I have already two posts planned, one about food adventures in Estonia and another about a historic location in Albania. During this weekend, I will also publish the 4th part of my Lockdown Diary.

Exploring Movie Locations – Haunted Fortress Adventures (B&W)

The movie location of today is quite a unique place. Not only has a movie been made here, but it is also part of our urbex project, Creepy Travels and finally, it’s not open to the public. Horror writer and blogger Vanessa Morgan, Lars and I had permission though to visit the place and photograph it (thanks, Vanessa!).

The Strangers Outside

Let’s have a look at the movie first and especially the book on which it’s based. Both have the same title and our good friend Vanessa Morgan is the writer. As it says on Amazon,

Two families return to their remote holiday cabin after a day at the seaside. But little do they know they’re being surrounded. Shortly after their arrival, they will come face to face with THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE. When the assailants make their intentions known, things take a shockingly terrible turn, and an intense battle for survival will begin.

I would really spoil the fun if I gave you any more details… Anyway, The Strangers Outside started as a short story, but later Vanessa reworked it into a novel. In 2011, it was turned into a movie with Pierre Lekeu, Iulia Alexandra Nastase and Avalon (Vanessa’s cat). Check this out:

Alex Corbi’s song Avalon features some images of the movie. Philippe Geus, by the way, was the director of The Strangers Outside.

The Location

The movie was made in various locations in Belgium, but for the creepiest part of The Strangers Outside, the crew went to Sint-Katelijne-Waver, a small town between Brussels and Antwerp.

The Exterior

Filming took place around and inside a fortress in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, called Schans Dorpveld. It was built just before World War I; because of its strategic location, the goal was to prevent the Germans from invading Antwerp after Brussels. Unfortunately, the plan failed.

This was actually our second visit to Sint-Katelijne-Waver. During the first one, I was impressed by the creepy vibe of the building. The whole location, however, oozes a peculiar atmosphere; holiday cottages, which have surely seen better times, surround the fortress, where about a century ago soldiers died. Moreover, a couple of strange events occurred during that first visit… If you want to know what exactly, you have to wait until I publish the color pictures I took then.

Anyway, the three of us were very eager to return and we did so in the summer of 2017. This time I planned to edit all my pictures in black and white and Lars and I also wanted to make a video of our visit. That last part didn’t work out at all, however… I don’t think that any paranormal forces are to blame for this; a GoPro is known to function badly in low light conditions and inside the fortress, it’s quite dark.

But we had hardly arrived when my camera started to malfunction. Strange, because I had checked all settings twice before I started shooting. I checked them again but to no avail. To this day, I have no idea what happened to my camera… Anyway, I cannot offer pictures of the usual quality for this post; on the other hand, they do have a spooky atmosphere.

The Interior

During our first visit, the ground floor was completely covered with garbage. Most of it had been cleared by the summer of 2017, whereas the second floor, on the other hand, looked pretty much the same. And we even discovered rooms we had missed the time before. My camera was still malfunctioning, by the way.

I have noticed that lately, I have been posting a lot about Belgium, but we have visited a lot of other countries as well! So, expect a lot more variety in destinations from now on.

Exploring Movie Locations – Château d’Antoing

The Movie

To be honest, until about 3 years ago, we had never heard about The Devil’s Nightmare, although I do know a thing or two about horror movies. But our good friend – and part – time collaborator – Vanessa Morgan had and moreover, she also discovered that we could actually visit the castle where it had been made.

The Devil’s Nightmare (1971) is a Belgian/Italian horror movie, with a quite simple plot: 7 travelers – on a bus tour somewhere in Europe – get stranded in a castle, where a helper from Satan himself starts killing them off. The movie is known under a handful of other titles and has an intriguingly spooky atmosphere. On my movie website, I will shortly write a more detailed review about it.

For quite some time, you could find the complete movie on YouTube – which is how I actually watched it (!) – but when I did the research for The Devil’s Nightmare, I could not find it anymore on their website. However, the trailer will give you some idea:


The Château d’Antoing is located in the small town of Antoing, in the province of Hainaut. Although Lars and I had been travelling extensively in Belgium for 8 – 9 years – and pretty much the rest of Europe, for that matter, we had somehow ignored this southwestern part of Belgium. In other words, thanks to a horror movie, Lars and I could see a part of my country that was relatively unknown to us.

The Exterior

About a dozen of us followed the guide a sunny Sunday afternoon in July 2017. The first thing she pointed out to us was that on the domain there used to be a Jesuit school; one of its most famous students was Charles de Gaulle, who attended college from 1907 to 1908. During the first World War, the building was used as a German hospital.

Although most of the castle was constructed between the 13th and 15th century, the oldest parts date from the 10th century. The fortifications around the castle were very impressive.

The castle was then redesigned in the 19th century in the Neo – Gothic style.

Next, we visited a small chapel on the grounds. You can briefly see it towards the end of the movie.

A final look at the grounds and then we entered the castle.

The Château d’Antoing has been in the hands of 3 families: Antoing, Melun, and Ligne. The Prince de Ligne, who belongs to one of the oldest families in Belgium, is its current inhabitant.

The parts of the castle where the current family lives, are – as you can imagine – not open to the public. Nevertheless, we did recognise parts of the interior from the movie.

I certainly recognised this spot, because one of the characters in the movie is murdered here.

You can only visit the Château d’Antoing with a guided tour, which takes about 2 hours and is only in French. Find out more about it here.

As you can imagine, I took dozens of pictures during our visit. Later this week, I will publish more of them on our sister website, The Cosy Traveler. Coming up on this website in the next days is the least tourist region of Belgium.

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