Adventures at the Beginning and the End of the Danube

During our travels through Europe, Lars and I have often crossed the Danube, the second-longest European river – the first one being the Volga. During its course of 2850 km, it flows through no less than 10 different countries, passing illustrious cities such as Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade.

The Beginning

The Danube starts its journey in the German town of Donaueschingen, located in the Black Forest (Baden-Württemburg), in the region of Freiburg.

The town counts about 22.000 inhabitants, who throughout the whole year welcome many tourists, eager to see the origins of the famous river, after which the town is named.

It’s at the confluence of two rivers – called the Breg and the Brigach – that Donaueschingen is located. This is the official source of the Danube.

The End

The mouth of the Danube is called the Danube Delta, which is located partly in Romania and partly in Ukraine. Wikipedia explains the Danube Delta as follows:

The modern Danube Delta began to form after 4000 BCE in a bay of the Black Sea, when the sea rose to its present level. A sandy barrier blocked the Danube bay where the river initially built its delta. Upon filling the bay with sediment, the delta advanced outside this barrier-blocked estuary after 3500 BCE, building several successive lobes:[5] the St. George I (3500–1600 BCE), the Sulina (1600–0 BCE), the St. George II (0 BC–present) and the Chilia or Kilia (1600 CE–present). Several other internal lobes were constructed in the lakes and lagoons bordering the Danube Delta to the north (Chilia I and II) and toward the south (Dunavatz).[6] Much of the alluvium in the delta and major expansion of its surface area in the form of lobes resulted from soil erosion associated with the clearing of forests in the Danube basin during the 1st and 2nd millennium.[7][8]

So far, only Lars has been lucky enough to visit the Delta, accompanied by his mother. Their exploration started near the Romanian village of Murighiol, which is really off the beaten path.

The trip started at 6 in the morning on a small boat and cost 80 euros for 3 hours. We were at the southern side of the Delta, whereas the northern side is actually the border with Ukraine. In the middle is a city called Sulina, the easternmost point of the country. The guide pointed out dozens of species of birds (and their nests), including pelicans.

It was so early in the morning that the clouds still had to make way for the sun.

As you can see from the pictures, the landscape of the Danube Delta consists mainly of water and wetlands. The area, however, experiences the driest climate of Romania.

Join us on a trip in another corner of Europe next time!


Fall in Love with Meetjesland

What and Where

Although Belgium is small and is densely populated, there are still rural areas where you can find peace and quiet and where you will hardly meet a tourist. Such an area is Meetjesland, situated in the northwest of the province of East Flanders. The town of Eeklo is its (non-official) capital.


But where does the name Meetjesland come from? This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

There are many legends surrounding the origin of the name. The most known is the one of Emperor Charles V (Charles V) who was known for his sexual appetite. The story goes that when he traveled through the region people hid their daughters and their attractive young women, making emperor Charles think this region was full of old women (meetjes).

In the summer of 2017, Lars and I spent a whole day driving around in this region, which is characterized by forests, canals, polders, and creeks. If you like landscapes we highly recommend a visit to Meetjesland.


This is a small village with about 1.000 inhabitants. Most of them, however, live in nearby Bentille; in Sint-Jan-in-Eremo itself there are merely a handful of houses. We mainly came here to photograph the biggest creek in this area, called the Boerekreek.

There is also a canal, called the Leopoldkanaal, the scene of heavy fights during World War I and II.



Do you like mussels? Then you really have to go to this small town, which is known for its many mussel restaurants. Assenede has a rural character, probably because it is quite isolated, due to the lack of public transport connections with Ghent and Brussels. Nevertheless, it has a rich cultural life.

Around Assenede you will find creeks and polders.


And now for something completely different: the “Kasteel van Wippelgem”, which stands for “Castle of Wippelgem”. Its original name is “Goed ten Hulle”; the castle dates from late medieval times and was reconstructed in the 19th century. The domain is open to the public and the castle serves as a location for weddings and other festivities.

Although it was very cloudy, it was actually quite hot, so Lars and I were in desperate need of a beer. Luckily for us, there was a cafe/restaurant on the domain.

The official address is Kramershoek 4, 9940 Evergem. (Wippelgem is part of Evergem).


Our next stop was at Zomergem. We were not in the village itself but at the nearby Schipdonkkanaal.

This canal runs from the town of Deinze to the North Sea.

Source: Wikipedia

Because of its strategic position, some heavy fights took place at the Schipdonkkanaal during both World Wars.


Near the small village of Bellem is a beautiful fishing pond, called Kraenepoel. It originates from the 13th century and is home to a lot of fauna and flora.

As usual, I will soon post the other pictures on our sister website, The Cosy Traveler. And here is a map with the locations mentioned in this post.

Our next post is something really special! The building and domain are not open to the general public, they served as a movie location and are also part of our urbex project, Creepy Travels.

A Walk in a Paradise of Plants

First of all, we wish you all a Happy 2020! And if you like traveling as much as we do: Happy Travels!

It has always been our goal to fulfill at least one travel dream every year and even though we did not travel a lot in 2017, we succeeded in visiting some places that had been on our bucket list for quite a long time. The bear refuge in the Black Forest was one of them and a visit to the Meise Botanic Garden another.

Meise is a small town to the north of Brussels, in the province of Flemish Brabant. It’s actually quite incomprehensible that it took us such a long time to get there – Lars and I have been traveling together since 2010, given its short distance to the Belgian capital. But in the summer of 2017, we made it our priority. And we – finally! – succeeded in visiting it!

What we didn’t know before our visit, was that this is actually one of the biggest botanic gardens in the world. The domain is about 92ha big (that is 227ac for our American readers), it has 18.000 plant species and a herbarium with more than 3 million specimens. Impressive numbers, to say the least!

Meise Botanic Garden organises various events and exhibitions throughout the whole year, by the way. And you don’t need to worry either when you are hungry and/or thirsty during your visit. Check out their official website for more information.

By the way, Meise Botanic Garden was established at the end of the 18th century. Its first location was actually in Brussels itself; the move to Meise took place shortly before World War II.

Lars and I spent half a day in Meise, which is barely enough. It’s a huge domain and there are at least a dozen of greenhouses. If you can only spare a couple of hours, you will have to make a selection. Fortunately, at the entrance of the botanic garden, you will receive a brochure with a detailed map. At certain times, there is also a small train that brings you from one spot to another.

We also made a short video of our visit. Check it out and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

If you are a nature lover, we really recommend a visit to the Meise Botanic Garden! Again, have a look at their website and… take your time for your visit.

Important announcement… We dedicate this website to our best and most beautiful travel experiences. From now on, we will publish all the pictures that don’t make it here to our “sister” website The Cosy Traveler, which you can find here and also here.

Taking Care of Bears in the Black Forest

In the summer of 2017, Lars and I came up with the idea of spending a short holiday in Luxembourg (the country, not the Belgian province). At that time, we had driven through this tiny country and apart from visiting the wine region, we had never really explored the rest of it. Unfortunately, after one day, we had to change our plans completely, mainly because it was raining the whole time and the weather forecast looked even gloomier. After a short deliberation, we drove south and ended up in Freiburg (Germany).

Not only was the weather a lot better there, I quickly discovered, after some nosing around on the Internet and careful consultation of some maps, that this location would allow us to fulfil a dream we had been cherishing for quite some years: a visit to the Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest. It would mean having to drive about 90 kilometres to the north, but then we could make a nice day trip out of it. Which is exactly what we did.

The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not a nature or animal park and certainly not a zoo. It is a sanctuary that takes care of bears that have had a miserable life in circuses, zoos, nature parks or with private owners. It also houses a group of wolves and a couple of lynxes.

Around the sanctuary is a hiking path which you have to follow, allowing you to have a good look at its inhabitants. The first animals that Lars and I saw were some very playful bear cubs.

You could ask yourself why these bears are simply not released in the wild. The answer is that this is impossible. The first reason is that most of these animals have become used to the presence of humans; moreover, because of their past, these bears haven’t developed the necessary skills to cope with the challenges of a natural environment. In other words, releasing them in the wild can have devastating consequences.

Keep on following the path and you will soon see the adult bears, which are really magnificent creatures! At the entry, you can pick up a brochure with detailed information about each of them and pictures, allowing you to recognize them. Take your time and you will also be able to make some beautiful close-ups.

Although the sanctuary takes really good care of its animals, some of them don’t survive a long time. One of the bears that Lars and I could observe sadly passed away a couple of months later.

I was extremely lucky when photographing some of the wolves, simply because they were very close to the fence when I passed there!

With the lynxes, on the other hand, I was far less lucky. We could hardly observe them, let alone photograph them. Lars and I waited for a long time and eventually gave up…

Anyway, after your visit, it is possible to have a drink and a snack at reasonable prices.

The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not the only one of its kind in Germany. There is another one in the Harz region, which was, by the way, established earlier. Luckily for you, I have visited that sanctuary as well and will feature it later on this website.

Interested? Have a look here then. This is the exact address:

Alternativer Wolf- und Bärenpark Schwarzwald
Rippoldsauer Strasse 36/1
77776 Bad Rippoldsau-Schapbach

%d bloggers like this: