Travel Stories

What to Expect at Parookaville and Festival Season in Germany

What to Expect at Parookaville and Festival Season in Germany

A little late to the party, but music festival season here in Germany isn’t over yet, mind you! There are still a few upcoming major events until just before Oktoberfest kicks off in September, so don’t fret. I’m not attending any this year though, so let me just recount hazy details and reminisce about the biggest music festival I have ever been to which was Parookaville.

Parookaville 2017 Panorama

Parookaville is a massive three-day electronic dance music festival held at Airport Weeze that annually converts a former air force base into an entire vintage Wild West village. Hence, all attendees get a visa/passport for entry and are called Parookaville “citizens”. Pretty cool concept to be honest. Even though EDM isn’t exactly my cup of tea as my system is wired to be controlled by a majority of lyrical alternative rock music, I gave in to peer pressure just this one time. Seriously, all I was after the company and the experience – you know, just to try it once and have something to tell my grandkids decades down the road – that granny had been there, done that.

We booked our tickets, like the day it was released a year before it took place because we’ve heard that it normally sells out like hotcakes in a matter of days. True enough, two days later, ticket counters closed. But no worries, closer to the date, they will open a platform on their website for Parookaville ticket resale and you might find luck there if you really want to go. Some people also post on Parookville’s Facebook page – but it’s on you to check whether they’re legit.

Parookaville 1st day

There are a few entry and accommodation packages available, you can opt to just go for a day or two, spend the entire weekend there and pitch your tent within a designated campsite, go glamping in a tent already set up for you & your friends, or even upgrade it to stay at a VIP hotel. Seriously, if you are willing to splurge more than we did with getting the regular package at 285 EUR, by all means, max that budget out! It might be worth it. Check the ticket and add-ons prices here.

It was already painful for me to part with that amount of money and on top of that, you still have to budget for the food and drinks you will consume (and surely that will be a lot) during the festival days. I don’t think I would even consider upgrading to a luxurious tent knowing I won’t spend a lot of time sleeping anyway! And if you want to do some extras, like bungee jumping or riding the Ferris wheel, for example, you have to factor that in, too. Basically, nothing is free once you are in…hmm, except for using the toilet! No, you don’t have to pay 50 cents each time.

Parookaville Crew 2017

This year’s Parookaville festival weekend took place just last weekend and from what I’ve heard the number of attendance was comparable to last year hitting 80,000 maddening crowd. The 2017 edition was epic though with over 80,000 festival-goers who flocked Parookaville almost quadrupled the number of attendees from the first time it opened. Not to mention it’s because we were there… that’s what really made it absolutely banging!

Summer came and days roll on by leading to the day we’d move our aging bodies (we’re a group of late 20 – mid 30s kids) again to the beats our younger selves would be more tolerant to. I hadn’t been practicing drinking and staying up late, so I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d fare that weekend. My biggest concern was how to “watch” these performers on stage and how I can be as close as possible to the action to get my money’s worth and because of my size. In concerts, I always worry about that when it’s standing room only. Well, turned out that I didn’t really have to see them perform – you’d only care about what they spin. Haha! And near or far, it’s impossible NOT to see the gigantic stages – they have at least four and other smaller ones set inside hangars. Not once did I have that feeling I was missing out on anything. Just dance to the music and have fun. On our first day, I’ve started to see the actual point of EDM festivals and why people are crazy about it.

Parookaville Festival Germany

It’s like I’ve entered into a trance and been vacuumed into an enchanted amusement park for grownups who dare to let that inner child in them go berserk with zero inhibitions. Yes, you see that in reggae, rock, or heavy metal concerts – but it’s an entirely different vibe altogether. I might not be a fan of the music, but I could enjoy myself and still have loads of fun! And if you open yourself to it, you really can dance to anything all night long. You just really have to make sure you tag along with the right people. Good company is everything, at least for me!

Considering my peak partying years are already behind me, we’ve all handled the non-stop partying for 3 consecutive days pretty well. I gave myself a pat on the back for remembering everything, keeping myself awake ‘til the wee hours, and not puking even once! I survived!

 

The only downer was the intermittent downpour on the second & third day – yes, typical German summer or weather. Although it didn’t really stop anything, it resulted to turn the soil into a thick, muddy, soppy wet ground. Even with the mudslides I’ve powered through in the past, this was something else. I should have bought a pair of rubber boots from Penny when I had the chance. I was a bit weirded out when I first saw it sprawled out in front of the supermarket, but somehow they had prophesized that something like this was bound to happen! So we had no choice but to wrap our feet in plastic bags and tape it up. Well, that worked for a while until it ripped open midway trekking through the mud. What a dreadful experience – cars had to be pulled out of the sludge, people including myself gliding out of control towards different directions. It’s like ice skating for the first time for me except that this one posed an extra challenge with the backpack and camping gears you had to carry back with you. You get the picture, right?

People keep telling me this is a natural occurrence in summer festivals here though, yet none of us were prepared for it. So that’s why before you go, I’ve got some tips and hacks to survive Parookaville and any other music festival where you’d have to go camping for days.

Important things to know and Survival Tips for Parookaville

Here’s their official website where you’ll get most of the information about Parookaville festival such as lineup, campsite, interactive maps, ticket prices, photos, rules and regulations: https://parookaville.com

Parookaville & Music Festivals - Things and Tips to Know Before You Go

 

  • Check your visas/tickets and take note of the check-in times. DO NOT go beyond those hours otherwise, they won’t let you in anymore. They are pretty strict, no just with security! Eventhough check-in on the first day should have been open for 24 hrs! Believe me, we almost went back to the car and slept there if we weren’t too insistent and charming! We still had to wait for a while though and that still sucked.

 

  • Looking at the map they’ve provided on their website, you won’t really guess how far the parking lots are from the event or campsites. So I am telling you now, that the earlier you arrive for check-in, the better chance you’ll have at securing a parking space close or closer to the campsite or base ground. We arrived quite late so we had no choice but to walk almost 3 kilometers from our parking lot to the entrance and that is no joke when you are carrying a backpack full of festival necessities, camping gears, food, and booze! And a nightmare when you had to walk the same way deep in the mud on our last day.

 

  • You are to buy tokens to pay for everything – food and drinks, rides, etc. at the festival grounds – except at the supermarket where you can pay in cash. A lot of people assume you won’t be able to return/exchange those tokens anymore if you end up having a few leftovers, but you CAN! They are quite sneaky with it as we couldn’t find any information about it so I had to ask someone at one of the information boothsand yes, exchange them at these booths beside the banks/ATMs close to the festival site main entrance perpendicular to Penny supermarket. I know if they shuffle up the structure yearly, but the point is – you can definitely get your money back even if they won’t openly tell you.

 

  • Decide on a designated place to meet your friends at just in case you lose each other or decide to just meet back at your campsite so you won’t have to look for each other frantically each time someone disappears.

 

  • Bring drinks at least for the first night/arrival and just buy the rest from the supermarket unless you are really picky about your drinks. Otherwise, you’d be happy to get cool beers and not fight over ice cubes. You just got to wake up and do your supermarket run a little early though as the “ration” gets polished off pretty quickly and when they do, you’ll only get an announcement when you can come back again. Queuing in the heat is also something you don’t want to do.

 

Things to bring to a festival

  • Festival tickets and IDs
  • Money and money bags/cute sling bags
  • Wet baby wipes for your bum and cooling your skin and an anti-bacterial one to clean the toilet seats and wipe your hands with because soaps run out and the queue to the sink can be long especially in the mornings.
  • Of course, take your toiletries kit – you can also bring your hair straighteners or curlers, and blow dryers. You can plug it in outside the shower areas.
  • Power banks/portable chargers – I’m sure I’ve seen charging stations there but it’s always full of people. You wouldn’t want to waste your time there, really!
  • Poncho and rubber boots for reasons I’ve previously mentioned
  • Sunscreen and hydrating facial mist as it can be scorching hot.
  • Popup tent if you have it as it’s so much easier to set it up and stow it away.
  • An extra mat or yoga mat to put your sleeping bags on. You don’t want to wake up drenched when/if a storm strikes.
  • Rubbish bags and tape (duct tape even)!
  • Small torchlight
  • Important medication if you require any and anti-diarrheal medication – you never know! This saved my life a lot of times especially when traveling.
  • Festival outfit you are comfortable with – seems like the more colorful, fancier, and louder, the better.
Posted by Sarah in Lifestyle, Travel Stories
Carnival In Germany: Where Idiosyncratic Disparty Unites

Carnival In Germany: Where Idiosyncratic Disparty Unites

The pre-Lent long-running celebrations, known as Carnival/Karneval/Fasching/“Fifth Season” frenzy, is about to kickoff here in Germany with announcements of this year’s Carnival programme, stores displaying on rows and rows of eclectic costumes for tots to geriatrics, and people getting excited over it – of course!

When is Carnival in Germany?

Although the Carnival season opens on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year at 11:11, the full-blown show do not take off until about a week before Ash Wednesday. This year 2018, it’s slated for Feb 8th (Weiberfastnacht – Women’s Carnival) through Feb 12th (Rosenmontag – the Carnival’s highlight). So if you are planning to visit Germany during this time and considering to take part, get yourselves ready for excessive eating, drinking, and merry-making.

Continue reading →

Posted by Sarah in Life Abroad, Travel Stories
How Neuschwanstein Castle Became the Proof That Dreams are Only Dreams Until You Make It Real

How Neuschwanstein Castle Became the Proof That Dreams are Only Dreams Until You Make It Real

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?
— John Lennon

Once upon a time, I dreamt of fairy tales coming to life not just on big screens, but in the form of an unbelievably gorgeous Neo-gothic romantic castle, perched on a rugged cliff ridge, secluded in the Bavarian mountains – the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II (1845 – 1886), popularly known as the “Mad King” or “Swan King” of the 19th century. To be completely honest, it was the Disney’s live-action remake of the Beauty and the Beast and the sudden surge of comments on my Facebook cover photo featuring Neuschwanstein, which inspired Disney’s storybook castles that ultimately prompted me to write this piece – at long last.

I thought, why not? It’s the perfect time to take you on a tour in and around the castle despite the lack of interior visuals due to the fact that you’d be sent out if you tried clicking away as soon as you step inside the halls. When a German gives a stern warning, you better believe it. So at least I’ll do my best to put into words what makes this experience absolutely dreamy, especially for all you royalty wannabes out there.

I constantly come across photos of this Neuschwanstein castle on so many travel magazines, fliers, websites and the likes, but travelling to one of the most-visited castles on earth was not on my priorities list until I moved to Germany, and that’s the truth. But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t always curious to see if there was more to this emblematic castle on a hill, apart from the likelihood of being turned into a fairytale-crazed adult. That was why I just had to go.

Neuschwanstein Castle during autumn

It was in expectedly bleak and cold November when I, together with my husband, planned to do a roadtrip to some neighboring countries and to the south of Germany, specifically Schwangau region, the home of King Ludwig II’s imposing 65-meter-high masterpiece. Admittedly, it’s not the best time to go, but we couldn’t find a better occasion to fit this itinerary into our schedule. We just hoped and prayed the heavens would smile on us and give us an amazing weather.

Oh, we were so blessed.

The next morning, the sun was brimming brightly and the cobblestone pavement appeared dry unlike the day before as we made our way to buy our tickets at the ticket center in Hohenschwangau, where our journey on foot would start. We went during the off-peak season, so we were quite confident we’d be able to get tickets on the day of our visit IF we turned up early, and we did. During busier months though (summer season for example), it’s highly advisable to purchase admission tickets way in advance to avoid massive disappointment and regret. Days before we arrived, we debated for a while whether or not to take the guided tour, which is the only way you can be allowed to peek inside. It was simply because we were unsure if it was going to be worth it or it was just going to be another overrated castle. Now we know the answer.

IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!

Let me tell you why.

After a 25-minute hike, making a few stops to take photos, I found myself gapping at the view of this utterly majestic architecture right before my eyes. White limestone façade, prickly turrets, Gothic gargoyles. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been to a number of palaces and castles across the globe, mind you. When it was our turn to experience the magic hidden within its walls, I tried hard to contain my excitement.

We began to walk up the stairs, that was nothing special, but it was like a secret entry point to the past. Then our guide led us to the end of the hallway to be greeted by King Ludwig II’s bronze head bust, right before we quietly slipped into the world of this imaginative genius.

Neuschwanstein Castle - Throne

Photo credit: Neuschwanstein Official Website

The castle’s interior is whimsical; the artfully adorned walls roll out murals depicting biblical narratives, German legends and mythology mainly based upon operas created by Richard Wagner, the king’s beloved composer. In a sense, Neuschwanstein Castle plays as a tribute to Wagner’s theatrical stories and is the result of Ludwig’s obsession to breathe life to all of his works.

King Ludwig II's Bedroom

Photo credit: World Visits – King’s Bedroom

Gold, oak wood, silk, decadent décor – Ludwig’s got an expensive taste. From fully-furnished servants’ quarters, to the enchanting grand ballroom that was never used for any function, to the bejeweled two-story throne room with a massive golden chandelier, to the Byzantine church inspired bedroom where he spent most of his time in isolation – beyond a doubt, this entire place embodies his soul. For what it’s worth, he definitely knew how to impress.

Neuschwanstein Inside Cave and Waterfalls

Photo Credit: Curmudgeon Abroad | The very first “man cave” 😉

As soon as you enter “the cave” which leads to his elaborately decorated bedroom, you will certainly begin imagining how in the world this part of the castle was built with the limited resources and knowledge of technology during that period. A dripstone cave with waterfalls illuminated by color changing mood lights? Mind blown. Elaborate, intricate, modern – no wonder you’d be called mad for these wild ideas. But it’s my kind of crazy. Here are more features: centralized heating, hot and cold running water, toilets with automatic flush, intercoms, electric bell system, and get this, a food elevator! A true definition of luxury. The bed may seem comparably small to a king size, but it’s intricately and painstakingly hand-carved for 7 long years, adorned with Bavarian blue embroidered linen and draperies. Also don’t forget to look up and marvel at the ceiling of the canopy bed dotted with tiny lights, resembling stars and constellations.

Neuschwanstein Conservatory

Photo credit: Official Neuschwanstein Website

However, my favorite spot was the conservatory with pebble flooring, offering panoramic views of Alpsee and alpine foothills; intertwined twigs covering the interior, a 2-tier mini fountain standing in between two chairs made out of rustic tree branches. How classy is that? When I caught a glimpse of the candles and the wooden antique table clock, it instantly reminded me of Lumiere and Cogsworth! And that was when my so-called “Belle moment” kicked in. I could totally picture myself having teatime with someone right there and just taking in all that beauty around me.

For a good 30 minutes of my life, I was entranced by the grandiosity of Neuschwanstein Castle. It is one of those places you have to see for yourself to believe it’s real.

Quick facts:

  • Neuschwanstein means “new swan stone” or “new swan jewel”. The swan was the heraldic animal of the counts of Schwangau and became the coats of arms of the ruling Bavarian family which also symbolizes purity.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle receives 6,000 visitors a day during peak season (Spring/Summer) and around 1.5 million per year
  • Located 2-hours away from Munich (you can take a tour or DIY)
  • Only 15 were completed out of planned 360 rooms at the time of Ludwig’s untimely and mysterious death, 17 years later from the start of its construction in 1869. The original plan included an ornate chapel, a huge balcony, bathhouses, additional bastions and turrets.
  • Even though not a single cent from the state funds was used to build the castle, Ludwig was declared insane because of the amount of time and money he was willing to pour out to realize his extravagant dream for it. He pulled in all his resources to realize his projects, that’s a fact.
  • Ludwig II spent his childhood days in a nearby beautiful yellow castle his called Hohenschwangau which you can combine with the Neuschwanstein tour on the  same day for 25 EUR.

Quick Tips:

  • Book your tickets online in advance even during low-peak season if you really want to take the guided tour (and I highly recommend you should! It’s worth a visit!)
  • Current prices for the tour is 13 EUR for adults (more info here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/admiss.htm#ticketcenter
  • Guided tours start punctually. If you miss your schedule, you can NOT ask to be included in the next scheduled tour.
  • Their website states allow 45 minutes to reach the castle from the ticket center, even though you can do it in 20 minutes if you’re quite fit and don’t need to stop for photos along the way. They just do not want you to be late for your schedule.
  • If you don’t want to walk uphill and do an early morning cardio, you can take the horse-drawn carriage ride in your princess gown! No really, I think it can be a real authentic experience. It’s only 5 EUR per head each way. Alternatively, you can take the shuttle bus for 2.90 EUR return – but you’d still need to walk a few hundred meters to the castle’s entrance. No biggie, it’s close!
  • Wear comfortable clothing/shoes if you plan to hike/walk
  • You may bring water and snacks, but obviously, you can only eat it outside. Keep your trash.
  • Bring your pro camera, but do not dare taking photos inside. It is strictly prohibited. Hence, I have gathered all these snaps of its interiors from the official website and visitors who defied the rules and just got lucky.
  • The best spot to take photos of the Neuschwanstein is from Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge). It’s a short walk from the castle, close to the bus stop.
  • Always check the weather forecast before you go. Usually during winter months, they would close Marienbrücke for visitors’ safety. Also, if the skies aren’t clear, you will hardly see the castle anyway.
  • The castle entrance has a storage facility but only for small bags/items. Leave all your bulky belongings in your car or hotel.

Where to stay:

Disclaimer: May contain affiliate links

We booked a place in Füssen, only a 5-minute drive from the ticket center, where a medley of charming boutique hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants can be found in a central area. A fancy stay at a hotel also won’t cost you an arm and leg, so it was definitely a good decision to stay there. The authentic Asian restaurant was a bonus, too! With more than half of the tourists flocking every year coming from Asia, they’ve figured they must have sushis and Chinese fried rice on offer.



Booking.com

Check out other accommodation options near Neuschwanstein castle.

How to get to there:

Here’s a comprehensive travel information if you are coming from Füssen or Munich

If you prefer to take a day tour from Munich, Viator offers a small group tour you can join in!

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Posted by Sarah in Destinations, Travel Stories, Travel Tips
Traveling in My 20s Vs. 30s: Has Anything Changed?

Traveling in My 20s Vs. 30s: Has Anything Changed?

There is no better day to celebrate being alive than every day – even if seriously, I felt like death when I was meant to celebrate my actual birthday. After spending almost the entire the day on the bus from Munich, collapsing onto the couch as soon as I reached home was the best thing I ever did and devouring the steak that husband prepared, of course. That birthday weekend trip was absolutely fantastic, but sad to say my aging self couldn’t take partying hard without cursing myself the next day anymore. It’s okay to accept the fact – I’m not getting any younger! Looking back at how I traveled over the years since the travel bug has bitten me, I began to wonder – has anything changed now that I’m traveling in my 30s? Probably a few, but let’s see.

Developing a whole new sense of responsibility

Life was so much easier when depending on your own and only taking responsibility for your own actions were the only things you have to do. Now I’m starting to have this so-called “maternal instinct” which urges you to look after fellow travelers and make a conscious effort to become the most sober among the group to preempt any mishaps that can occur as the night spins into the blackhole. In Budapest, I remember leading a pack of obviously too-wasted-to-make-a-wise-decision travelers I met at my hostel in finding the way back after a night out. I’m sure they would’ve made it back in one piece, but I know how terrible it felt to walk around in circles before ending up at the right place.

Constantly craving for some real good sleep


In my 20s, I would check into my hostel, drop my bags, don’t come back until the wee hours of the morning and still get up to beat the crowds and go sunrise watching at Angkor Wat, for instance. I hardly sleep when I travel then and up to now actually. But when I was a lot younger, it didn’t matter to me that much as it matters to me now. Yeah, you can say sleep is for the weak, but I need my 7-hr deep beauty sleep! So what I do these days are avoiding party hostels, getting a private room or staying at AirBNBs in a quiet neighborhood – the grandma in me has awakened.

Learning to stay away from my kryptonite


No more tequila or vodka especially when traveling alone, because I love it so much that I will just keep drinking if it was offered to me. But now, I’ve learned to walk away from it. And yes, I’m way too responsible now – remember? I’d probably feel bad for whoever is with me at the time if they’d ever need to take care of me afterwards, so I will think more than twice before I take that first shot unless you assure me that whatever I say or do that time will be off the record and will be forgiven at an instant!

Not seeing everything doesn’t bother me anymore

I’ve been guilty of rushing to see everything on my list for quite some time. As I get older, I just like taking my own sweet time as I enjoy the moment and the company – I don’t even take as many photos anymore like I used to! I’m learning to have a deeper appreciation for slow travel. I feel like I can always come back next time and explore more, but do you see the irony in that? It’s like I’ll live forever and we all know I won’t. My point is, don’t rush and allow yourself to completely be engrossed in the moment.

I’d choose traveling with my travel buddy any day

The grass is always greener on the other side…with your other half. ? @flipvisionproductions

A photo posted by Sarj | #WanderAllYouCan (@pixated) on

Although I’ve always loved traveling solo, meeting someone who shares your passion for travel and eventually ending up together is the best thing that ever happened to me – clichés aside. I couldn’t ask for a better travel and life companion. Lots of perks come with it, too! Even after marriage, we’d pose no restrictions on each other if one of us wants to take a trip alone or with our own friends – we are cool like that! I pretty much can still go wherever and however I want, but being without him would make me miss him so much!

If you’d ask me which phase of my life do I like best, I wouldn’t have an answer to that. Because although some of my preferences have definitely changed, I’m still the same mental gal that gets so psyched doing an activity for the first time; meeting new people – young and old; and spreading the joy of travel!

What changes have you noticed comparing how you gallivanted the world the first time and now?  Do you think travel gets better with age? How so?

Posted by Sarah in Musings, Travel Stories