Questions for Your Future Hostfamily – Au Pair Life

As I said before, I was an au pair in 2016 in Germany, then in London and then again in Heidelberg currently.
Since my very first experience was not brilliant and I saw that it was the same for many people on YouTube, I decided to help the people that would like to be au pairs in the future writing down the most important questions to ask the hostfamily before to leave.

After that you talk to each other through messages there will be a point where a hostfamily, or even more than one – will arrange a videocall with you.
During that videocall you should ask all these questions below to make sure to know if they are or not the right match for you.
If you do not feel they might be, just tell them the truth and look for another hostfamily.

What questions you should ask your hostfamily:
1.What do you do for living?
I know that it might seem a nosy question, but I would like to remind you that you are going to live with complete strangers and it is good to know something about them.
Plus, it also helps you knowing how many hours you are going to work, since if their job is weekend free, then probably you will have free weekends as well since they can stay with their children.
2.What is your daily routine?
I would have never chosen a hostfamily where there are no timetables, since I have to plan everything, so if you are like me I suggest to choose a family with children that go to school.
If you do not care so much about having a timetable and you enjoy something different everyday a family without a daily routine might work for you.
I won’t beat around the bush and I suggest you to choose a family with children attending school anyway, since if you are at home and the children too, the parents will always take advantage of you.
3.What are my tasks?
I won’t beat around the bush again: an au pair is NOT a cleaning lady, so if you see want you to clean stuff that is not related to the children or to your room and bathroom, just do not choose them.
I made the mistake to not ask my first hostfamily ever and they expected me to clean a four floor house every week.
You should just do light housework. I have talked about an au pair’s tasks in this post.
4.Have you had any au pairs before?Could I talk to them?
If the hostfamily has had au pairs in the past ask for their contacts and ask them how their experience was.
If they have positive words for the hostparents you can be pretty sure that you will have a positive experience as well.

When you choose a hostfamily that has never had an au pair before you cannot be so sure about them.
I will be honest again, almost harsh, but I think it is better to not choose families without experience with an au pair, because they have no idea of all this thing works and they will take advantage of you.
5.How many hours per week do you expect me to work? Will you give me a free day? What day of the week?
It is almost impossible to find a hostfamily that respects the rules and does not make you work more than 30/35 hours per week, but if they tell you that your amount of working hours exceeds the 40 hours turn them down.

It is mandatory to have at least a free day per week, but when I had my first experience as au pair they NEVER give me a free day, so please make sure to ask and if they tell you that you won’t have any free day turn them down.

Not all hostparents are free on the weekends, so do not take for granted that your free day will be a Saturday or a Sunday.
When I was an au pair in London I was very lucky because my hostparents worked both in a bank, so they were at home on weekends and I ALWAYS had free from Friday evenings until Sunday night.
In my current hostfamily my hostmum owns a restaurant, hence she is really busy in the weekends and during the months her restaurant is open I have just Monday free, while during those months she has the restaurant closed I have Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday free.
I love that since I can travel a lot during those months and I do not care so much about the other months when I have just one Monday free.

My suggestion is to choose a hostfamily that gives you free weekends, because if you get a Tuesday or Wednesday as free day, you won’t be able to do much with other people, since other au pairs or your friends will be more likely free on weekends.
If you like to be by yourself it might work, but I think that this experience is also made by the people you meet.
6.Could I see pictures of my bedroom?
It is mandatory that they provide a room JUST for yourself, but since I have seen a huge amount of videos where some girls were provided with a storage room instead of a real bedroom, it is always better to ask.
7.Will you give the keys of your house?
If they tell you no, turn them down.
Their house will be your house as well and you should be able to come in even if they are not there.
Can you imagine if something bad happens, they are not home and you cannot go home?
8.Is there a curfew?
If they tell you yes, turn them down.
They cannot demand you to not go out at night, since you are an adult responsible for yourself.
Of course you should not be loud if you come back very late in the night or early in the morning, but it actually never happened to me in London or here in Germany to be loud when coming back after a night out.
My hostparents never complained about anything.
9.Are there any other au pairs or young people living nearby?
It is very important to have someone, even just one person of your age, since you will be away from home for months, or even years.
If the hostfamily lives in a small village, far from the city and with just old people or children, my suggestion is to turn them down, since you will feel isolated from the rest of the world.
10.Is there good public transport in your area? Do the busses/trains/tubes run during night? How far from the centre do you live? Will you financially support me with the cost of transpor?
If you don’t drive or if your hostfamily won’t give you their car you will have to use public transport, so it is better to know in advance if there is any and if it is good.
Ask how far the closest bus/train/tube stop is and if they run during the night as well.
I think it is also important to know how far from the centre they live, since if they live in a village or very far away from the center and they do not pay for you card you have to keep in mind that you will spend a lot of money on it.
I want to make clear that the hostfamily should pay your train/bus/tube ticket whenever you are taking or collect the kids somewhere, since you are doing that for work and not for your pleasure!
11.How much do you offer? Will you pay me in cash or via credit card? Will the payment be weekly or monthly? Will you give me the salary at the beginning or at the end of the week/month?
In some countries it is up to the family deciding how much your salary is going to be, but I suggest to never accept less than 80£ per week, especially if you live in a city like London.

In some countries, like Germany, it is mandatory to open a bank account, so they will open for sure a bank account for you.
If you are going to do live in another EU country and the hostparents do not want to open you a bank account you can get a debit card online in few minutes with N26. You can even open N26 right in Germany, since I think it is better to have a debit card rather than a girokonto, since you cannot use a girokonto for online payments.
The delivery of the card is very quick, plus it is completely free and you can transfer the cash to the card into a supermarket or any of the N26 affiliated shops, like DM. (If you use this link we will get both 10€).

In other countries, like the UK – at least before Brexit – it was not mandatory.
If the hostfamily does not want you to open a bank account in the UK, you can do it by yourself online with Monese for free and you can always transfer the money to the card into a post office or an Off License.

It is also good to know if you will get paid weekly or monthly.
In London I was paid weekly every Friday, while in Germany I get paid monthly, but my hostparents have always been so lovely to always transfer me the whole salary at the beginning of the month.
As soon as I came here almost two years ago my hostdad took the details of my card and sent me the money!
I would suggest to ask to be paid at the end of the week if the salary is weekly, while at the beginning of the month if the salary is monthly, since being a whole month without a salary at the beginning does not seem very good.
12.How many holidays will I get? Will you pay me for these?

If you stay with a family for one year you should get at least 4 week holidays and they should be paid, while if you stay less or more you should make an agreement with your hostparents before to leave.
13.Have you got any pets?

If you are scared by dogs or cats or some other animal or simply you do not like the idea of having an animal in the house where you are going to live, ask the hostfamily if they have got one, so if it is a problem you can turn them down and look for someone else.
14.Have the children got any allergies?

It is essential to ask this question, since you might cook something the kids are allergic to and it is better to know in advance in order to be really careful.
Make sure that the family knows about your allergies as well.
15.What are your children’s habits? What do they enjoy the most? Should I know about any special need?
Your hostkids might enjoy sports, some others board games or maybe even playing by themselvers.
It is also important to know if the kids have special needs and what you should be very careful of.
16.What are your eating habits?

The hostfamily might be vegetarian or vegan, or maybe just for religious beliefs they do not eat some kind of meat and it might be possible that they do not want any meat inside their house.
If you feel this might be a problem for you, do not choose them as well.
Their house, their rules.
17.Can I attend a language class? Will you financially support my language class?
In Germany it is mandatory for the au pairs to attend a language class and the hostparents should financially help the au pair with 50 extra on the salary.
In other countries it is not mandatory, but if for you it is important to improve the language ask the hostparents if they would give you time to attend one, or even if they can financially support you.
18.What language do you speak at home?
Do not take for granted that a family that lives in a country speaks the language of that country,
When I was an au pair in London my hostdad was from London, while my hostmum was from Minsk-Belarus so whenever she was at home she spoke Russian with the children.
It was no problem for me since when the kids and I were by ourselves we always spoke English to each other and also because I was already fluent in English even if I had never lived in any English speaking country before.
If you want to do this experience to improve your language and the hostfamily you talk to speaks another language, it is definitely better to pick another family.
19.What language do you expect me to speak with the kids?
Do not take for granted that the family wants you to speak their languages to the kids, especially if you are an English native speaker.
Here in Germany there are planty of families that hire an au pair as soon as they get a baby just because they want them to be fluent in English.
If you are interested in improving the language rather than the abroad experience itself, choose a family that wants you to speak their language instead than yours.
20.If you go on vacation can I stay home?
It seems almost ridiculous for me to put this question in the list, but since there a lot of strange hostfamilies ask this in order to book a flight home or a trip somewhere else in the days where your hostfamily is on vacation.

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Best in Travel 2020

I cannot believe that I am already writing this post, since all the other years I have always waited for the end of December to show you my favourite travel destinations.

My Top 10 Travel Destinations of 2019 was won by Copenhagen, Denmark
My Top 10 Travel Destinations of 2018 was won by Karaburun peninsula, Albania

I would have waited for the very end of December even this year, but as we all know 2020 was very strange and because of the current light lockdown in Germany I am pretty sure that I won’t visit any place until I feel safer.
I still consider myself very lucky because I have got the chance to travel during the Summer and to see even a new country and as soon everything is REALLY over I cannot wait for a trip outside Europe!

Also, I have not been to Italy since the morning of the 31st of December of 2019 and it is the strangest feeling ever.
It had never happened before to not see my family and friends for so long.
In these four years as expat I had always managed to come back at least two or three times per year.

But now I do not want to make this post sad, so these are my favourite travel destinations of 2020:
1.Hamburg, Germany

Beside its beautiful bars, cafes and restaurants, what I really loved about Hamburg was the architecture together with the amount of water the city is surrounded by.
It was impossible not noticing that it is the city with most bridges and canals in the world.
Plus, I loved the open minded environment and how clean it was despite being the second largest city of Germany.
2.Schaffausen Waterfalls, Switzerland

The most beautiful natural place where I have ever been.
Taking the boat to admire the waterfalls from so close was one of the best travel experiences of my whole life.
I have always preferred visiting new cities rather that natural places, but if every place should be like this I would be totally happy with them anyway!
3.Mainau – Flowers Island, Germany

And here we are again, a natural place made it to my Top 3 of this year!
Mainau is such a hidden gem for non German tourists, but I promise that it is just as great as many of the most famous Italian islands.
The lake is crystal clear, the sculpture made from flowers are stunning, the restaurants are elegant and children can have a lot of fun.
It has become one of my favourite place here in Germany and I cannot help but suggesting to spend at least a day there.
4.Constance, Germany

Constance combines nature and fun since its lake is stunning and on the promenade you could find gorgeous restaurants and pubs.
Plus, from there you can reach Switzerland by feet as there is a red line that marks the border between Constance and Switzerland.
5.Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Charming and dreamy, this country was a very pleasant surprise.
Visiting it in Autumn surrounded by yellow and red leaves made it look at its best.
It was also the city where I have had the best hot chocolate ever!
6.Esslingen am Neckar, Germany

I lived in Stuttgart for three months in 2018, but I never had the chance to visit Esslingen albeit it was at just 10 minutes away from it.
Then last year I went with my friends in there just to eat at “The Ladies Diner”, which is a lovely American diner with the best chips you will ever have and with a great ’60s atmosphere!
This year I finally visited the city itself and it was lovely. It looked very medieval and dreamy!
I would have loved to see Christmas markets in there, but because of the virus there won’t be any this year.
I have my fingers crossed for everything to be over towards the end of 2021 and that I will be able to visit one of the most beautiful German Christmas markets.
7.Zurich, Switzerland
old town in zurich
If you had not guessed by now, I think now you could understand that Germany and Switzerland are my favourite countries.
I had already visited Basel and I loved it…and I can say totally the same about Zurich.
The city was very beautiful with the architecture that reminded of the German one, the lake was stunning and I loved seeing all those fancy people well dressed walking in the centre.
It also reminded me a lot of Italy, since Italians love being well dressed even just for a stroll with friends in the city centre.




Top 5 Things To Do in Luxembourg City

1.Visit Casemates du Bock

They are stunning and with the Autumn mood the beauty of this place exceeded my expectations.
These old quarters and fortificaton are a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE and they cannot be missed when in Luxembourg City.
2.Admire the view from Chemin de la Corniche

The panoramic view from this balcony on the lovely houses below surrounded by the yellow leaves of the nature is unforgettable and it is the perfect scenario for a photoshoot.

3.Explore The Grund

This neighbourhood is so charming and clean and I was so lucky to experience it without other tourists around, so it was very magical to admire the view and the nature.
It seemed to be rather in a German or Swiss village, rather than in the city.
I suggest to walk towards down and to take the lift of the parking place next to the “Updown bar” to come back upstairs.

4.Have a hot chocolate at “Chocolate House”

I was very impressed by the coziness and by the original interior design both outside and inside of this place, but what really was amazing about it was of course the chocolate.
After ordering a hot chocolate, you have to pick up the spoon of chocolate of the flavour that you like from the several shelves at the entrance.
I chose the peanuts one and when I came upstairs I had to put it in the cup to melt it in the cram to give it the peanut taste.
It was simply delicious, the best hot chocolate I have ever had by far.
The staff can speak English, German and France, so it won’t be a problem to order in one of these languages.


5.Palais Grand-Ducal





It is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, but it possible to visit it just in Summer.

Mesmerising Hamburg

It was finally time for me to go on vacation and to head towards Hamburg, which is considered by Germans the most beautiful big city of their country.
I can say now that they were totally right. I have visited all the biggest cities as Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Dresden and so on, but Hamburg has become my favourite one.
It has beautiful bar, cafes and restaurants, elegant neighbourhoods and some hipster neighbourhoods – but never too hipster as Berlin – the architecture is something mesmerising, but what really stood out was all the water the city was surrounded by. After all it is the city with most bridges and canals in the world!

Public transport: I would suggest to use the day ticket for the zone A-B as it can be used on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus and also on the ferry! You can purchase it at every train station for the price of 7,90€.
Days needed: I would say 4 days are enough to see all the main attractions.

DAY 1
I always encourage everyone to join a Free Walking Tour and in the case of Hamburg I suggest to take both the Free Walking Tour of Hamburg Historic Centre and the Free Walking Tour of Harbour, Reeperbahn & St. Pauli.

The first day I attended the Tour of Hamburg Historic Centre, that started from the Rathaus (Town Hall).
As you might notice from the picture, the Emperors are placed at the bottom of the building, which is very unusual.
The guide, Martina, explained us that it was made on purpose, as Hamburg was one of the first cities in Europe to be a Republic, so when the Town Hall was built they put the people on top and the Emperors on the bottom to make clear that Hamburg was a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire.
This is also reflected in the official name of Hamburg, Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), where Hanseatic is for member of the medieval Hanseatic League.
townhall2
Another thing that reflects the strong Republic pride of Hamburg is the large amount of swans you can see all around the city, as they are considered the symbol of the indipendence. They were so important that there was a person taking care of them, the “swan father”, which is one of the oldest cities job of Hamburg.
Still to these days is forbidden to eat, insult, hurt or kill the swans!
townhall.jpg

Then the guide took us near the four main churches of Hamburg and after them we visited one of the most beautiful areas of Hamburg, the Nikolaifleet.
nikolaifleet
The tour stopped not far from the Elbphilarmonie, which was just stunning.
It cost a lot of money to be built – around 870.000.000€, but it has always supported itself, differently from the Opera House, which is supported with 1 or 2 millions every year.
I loved how this building was changed by the sunset light and how the reflection of the sunset on it changed all the area around, but unfortunately due to the Coronavirus I was not able to see it inside, as everything was outbooked.
elbphilarmonie
After the tour I decided to go back to the place where I stayed to get a shower, rest a bit and get changed, to then explore the street of my apartment in Reeperbahn, in the neighbourhood of St. Pauli, which is the red light district, but also the place where The Beatles became famous.
The neighbourhood is full of beautiful bars and pubs and I loved being able to hear the live singers’s voices even through the window of the apartment in the evenings.
stpaulistpauli3
Something that I loved about Reeperbahn, beside the bars, pubs and being so alive, was the gay friendly environment.
I saw a lot of gay people kissing, walking hand by hands and at the entrance of almost every single place there were signs saying that the access to the homophobic people was forbidden.
The more open-minded a city is, the more I will like it.
nohomophobic

DAY 2
My friend Caterina finally was able to reach me after my strolling through the neighbourhood the day before and we attended the Free Walking Tour of Harbour, Reeperbahn & St Pauli.
This tour was even better than the one about Hamburg Historic Centre, as our guide Brent did not focus just on the history, but also a lot  on the phenomen of gentrification, which has become a huge problem in several big cities.
When I first saw the harbour – which is the third largest in the world – I was just speechless.
I loved all the food stands, the smell of the fish, the fairy atmosphere, all the ferries and the boats and so on.
Maybe it was because I was born and raised in a sea city, but even if Hamburg harbour was on the river, I got chills admiring all that water.
harbourday
After the port we went to St. Pauli, which used to be a student and a cultural neighbourhood, but due to the gentrification has become one of the most expensive ones to live in.
Then  the guide took us to Park Fiction. Does the name ring a bell?
When I first heard the name I thought it was just a coincidence that it sounded like Pulp Fiction, but the name was actually chosen because at the time the park was built Pulp Fiction was very popular and they thought the name would have been perfect.
parkfiction
We walked to Reeperbahn and the guide focused a lot on The Beatles of course.
We stopped both at Beatles-Platz and at Groβe Freiheit, the street with all the places where they and many other musicians played in the past.

They started to play at Kaiserkeller, where they met Ringo Star and then at Star-Club.
The latter does not exist anymore and there is just a commemorative plaque in memory of this club, where some other international stars as Jimi Hendrix, Chubby Checker and many others used to perform.
Hamburg was so important for The Beatles that once John Lennon said “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”.

The tour ended at Herbertstraβe, which I suggest to not visit if you are a woman, as it is almost a forbidden zone to us since this is the most sinful street of Hamburg – for the ones who should not know I would like to remind you that prostitution in Germany is legal.
We were able to go during our tour just because with the COVID-19 there were no sex workers in the windows, but otherwise please do not go if you are a woman! The guide told us that whenever a woman has tried to enter, the sex workers got really pissed off and started to insult them or threw stuff at them.
While my friend and I were taking pictures a middle age woman passed by and she said in German “Ihr Mädchen seid so schön, dass ihr auch für einen Job hier bewerben solltet”.
At the beginning I thought I misunderstood, but then the guide asked us if we heard what that lady told us and when he translated I felt so embarrassed as everyone was staring at us.
The translation is “You two girls are so beautiful that you should apply for a job in here as well”.
If that comment would have come from a man I would have been angry, but since it was from a woman it was ok and after all she was trying to make us a compliment in her own way.

Since the tour ended at just two minutes from our apartment, we got a shower, rested a bit and decided to see the harbour.
The sunset made the harbour even more beautiful than in the morning.
We hopped on the ferry, which is used by Hamburgers as a means of transport, just to admire the beautiful sunset and the city itself from the water.
harbour
ferry2
After our marvelous ferry tour we were really hungry, so we decided to eat at a restaurant in the Portuguese quarter, called “O Pescador”.

I had Teller nach Art des Hauses, which was almost perfect and I say almost because the ham was not that good, while I loved the cream they served me along with the bread, as well the cheese, the olives and the bread itself that it was as tasty as the Italian one.
You can take the girl out of Italy, but you will never take Italy out of the girl!

DAY 3
We decided to see something outside the touristic centre and we headed to Blankenese, upon suggestion of the first touristic guide.
I am so glad we went there because it was so picturesque and quiet.
It did not seem to be still in Hamburg, rather in a village.
blankenese
If you should visit this neighbourhood make sure to go to Treppenviertel to admire all those beautiful houses while going downstairs on the riverside.
If you do not want to come back upstairs by feet to reach the S-Bahn station because of all the stairs, just wait for the bus at the bus stop near the ferry stop (unfortunately there is no ferry taking you from Blankenese to the centre of Hamburg and vice versa).

After Blankenese we went to eat at Jill’s, as we read that this pizzeria was really Neapolitan.
When my pizza Margherita came I was so happy since being from Naples – the birthplace of the pizza – it has never been easy to please me with the pizza that I used to eat when I lived there, but this was 100% Neapolitan.
I could already tell from the look, but when I ate it I just had the confirmation. It was pure heaven!

In the evening we went to Speicherstadt, the largest warehouse district in the world and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It reminded me a lot of the area around the Statue of the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.
speicher
The main attraction of the Speicherstadt is the Wasserschloss (literally water castle).
It was the most mesmerising attraction we saw in Hamburg and at night it was spectacular with all the reflections of the artificial lights combined with the orange-brown colour of the buildings around and the lights of the boats coming through.

DAY 4
We did not do too much on our last day, since we were tired, so we started with breakfast at “Hanging Out Café”, which had a very nice interior design and good food as well.
hangingout1
After our brunch we went to take some pictures at a restaurant nearby, Yu Garden, as its architecture was China inspired.

We went to the Elbphilarmonie again to take some pictures of it more closely and with the sunset.
brunette curvy girl in hamburg wearing levis jeans and sandals
Then we walked again on the harbour – where I had the best chips ever – to take the ferry again, but this time to reach a spot that we saw the day before from it.
ontheferry
After a while we hopped on the ferry directed again towards the harbour, to enjoy a cold drink before to leave the day after.
We went to Dock3, as it looked very beautiful from outside and for its view on the harbour.
It seemed to be on a real beach and the atmosphere was just perfect!

The next day we left in the early morning, but already making plans about coming back.
I was thinking to come back in Autumn or December, especially if there will be Christmas markets, also to visit all the indoor attractions that I missed due to all the places being outbooked because of the Coronavirus.
hamburgbynight
Hamburg was just perfect. It was like a mix between London, Copenhagen and Berlin, but more openminded than the first one, way more chaotic than the Danish capital and not too hipster as the latter one.
I would also say that Hamburg for a tourist is also the cheapest of all the three.
hamburgend

Hamburg Instagrammable Bars, Cafes and Restaurants

1.Dock 3
dock3.jpg

Located right on the Port of Hamburg, this bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a Summer evening sipping a cold drink.
Beside the perfect view I loved walking on the sand and all the colourful deck chairs and decorations.
It really seemed to be on a beach!

bsh

2.Yu Garden
yugarden1
This Chinese restaurant located ten minutes away from the centre of Hamburg is just stunning.
Its garden with the beautiful teahouse will leave you breathless.
You can just walk around the garden without eating at the restaurant.
The place is very quiet and it is the perfect spot for taking pictures.
yugarden2
3.Hanging Out Cafe
hangingout1
At just ten minutes by feet from the previous restaurant you can find this cute cafe, where you can literally hang out at.
The place is small but the atmosphere is very nice and the smoothies and the food are really good.
hangingout2
I suggest to take the pink smoothie and the bread with rucola, pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella – albeit I asked to not have the pesto inside.
PRICE: 8,40€
4.MUTTERLAND Cölln’s
mutterlandcollns
During the free walking tour the guide made a stop at this lovely restaurant, telling us that all the paintings inside it are all handmade.
It is just insane thinking that every single painting is handmade, since there are around 35.000 tiles.
Also here you can go inside just to give a look and taking pictures, like we did during the tour.
5.Cafe Paris

rhdrAs the name says, it reminds of the cafes of the French capital, but the food is actually way better than the French one.
Its ceiling is just stunning, the service is very fast and the prices are very affordable to be located in the centre of Hamburg.
cafeparis2
I suggest to have a “Croque Madame” as it is delicious and very big.
PRICE:  Croque Madame 8,40€, Sparkling water 0,46L 2,80€
6.Schmidt Theater
schmidt
Located in the most alternative neighbourhood of Hamburg – St Pauli/Reeperbahn, as you can get by the name this is a theater, but its cafe is simply stunning especially at night, since it is all lighten up by theatre lights and the red armchairs.
schmidt2
7.Sommersalon
sommersalon
Also located in St Pauli/Reeperbahn, this cafe is the hipster cafe par excellence.
It is very colourful, full of vintage stuff mixed together and there are a lot of things like little slides and drawing tables so that children do not get bored while there.
Every evening you can sit outside and listen to live music.
sommersalon2
8.Frittenwerk
frittenwerk1
This chips chain is full of neon signs and green leaves all around his walls.
I suggest to order just the chips anyway, since I did not like the other food.
frittenwerk2
PRICE: Chips 3,00€, Crispy Chicken Stick 3,50€, Sprite 2,70€

 

Lake Constance Itinerary

DAY 1
1.Admire two countries from a boat

girl wearing tank top shorts on a boat
Right between Germany and Switzerland

If you take a boat you will be able to see Switzerland on your left, with many beautiful houses right on the water and Germany on the right, with all the elegant restaurants of Costance.
2.Roam around Lake Costance Promenade
Lake Costance Promenade is just wonderful: you can admire the lake, eat at some amazing restaurants, enjoy the beaches, go into the swimming pool or even play tennis on the fields.
And if you have got children they can have fun on the several playgrounds or go on the tree swing on the beach – which I did as well because it was just amazing and it felt almost to fall into the lake.
tea on a lake
3.Walk to Switzerland
If you walk near the SEA Life Konstanz – which I do not recommend to visit –  you will notice this artwork in the lake.
IMG_20200726_104800
If you walk after it you will end up in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland just within 5 minutes by feet.
My hostmum and I just wanted to find a nice restaurant where to eat so we started walking without noticing at all the red line that marked the Swiss border, so when we saw this beautiful park and saw all the Switzerland flags we realised that we were no longer in Germany.
It was just so strange and funny going to another country without any need to drive, take a train or a plane, but I must say that it was more relaxed and I wish it could always be like that!
ferris wheel in switzerland
We did not see much in there, but we had lunch in Seeburg Park, which was stunning and full of things to do for children and also reminded me of my beloved Battersea Park in London.
I would not suggest to eat in Kreuzlingen but in Constance anyway, since the food in there was expensive and not so good as in Germany.
DAY 2
Visit Rhine Falls and Zürich
rhine falls platform
If you own a car and you are in Constance, do not miss the chance to visit Rhine Falls, the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and the lovely city of Zürich.
Rhine Falls were the most beautiful natural landscape I have ever seen.
DAY 3
Visit (Flower Island) Mainau
The entrance tickets for this island were included in our package of the hotel where we stayed in, Légère Hotel Tuttlingen, which I totally recommend.
Once we were in Mainau I could not stop to think of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country and also to have such a great hostfamily that always lets me tag along during their trips.
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The first thing I noticed walking on the bridge that connects Constance with Mainau was the unbelievable crystal clear water.
Then the second thing was this very high flower at the entrance made from thousand of other flowers.
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Once I kept walking I was amazed by all those flowers and those artworks and I kept thinking about how much effort they need to look that beautiful every day of the year, so really many thanks to the people that work there that make it possible!
At some point we were starving, so we ate at Restaurant Comturey, where you can eat outside and admire the view of the lake.
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I had meat served with vegetables and potatoes. The potatoes and the vegetables were just amazing, but I was not crazy about the meat.
After lunch we walked around the island looking for a water playground that a friend of my hostkids suggested, just to find it then right after the entrance/exit.
The kids loved it and spent almost one hour in it, so if you have kids with you let me tell you that they won’t get bored in Mainau for sure!

 

 

Amazing Switzerland

This year I decided to not come back to Italy for the holidays because of the COVID19, so my hostfamily and I decided to head to Lake Constance for four days.
My hostmum asked me to write down all the places that would have been interesting to see and the first one that I thought of were the Rhine Falls in Switzerland, located between Zürich and Schaffhausen, which are the most powerful waterfalls in Europe.
Our hotel in Germany was located in Tuttlingen and it just took us around one hour to get there by car.
As soon as I saw the waterfalls I felt alive again, since I had not travelled to a new destination since October because of the virus.
I could have not chosen a better place to start travelling again.
Even from above I was speechless in front of such a natural beauty, but then we decided to take the boat to admire it closely.
girl standing near waterfalls
We took the “Nr. 5, Pinke Linie” that included an audioguidetour in seventeen languages (German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, Russian etc) and last 30 minutes.
The audioguidetour was very interesting and it explained many scientific and historic facts.
Price: 11 CHF for adults, 7 CHF for children.
instagrammable places in europe
girl on a pink boat
When we came with the boat just underneath the waterfalls I was breathless, since I would have never expected to see a place like that in my life and it made me realise how lucky I have been to be able to travel and see so many beautiful places around Europe.
We were also very lucky because it was such a sunny day and both I and the kids I look after took so many incredible pictures and it was also very refreshing having some splashes of water on us since it was very hot.
rhine falls platform

girl underneath a waterfall

After the waterfalls my hostmum was very adamant that she wanted to visit also Zürich and see some nice shops.
I was very happy about this new plan, since I had just been to Basel in Switzerland, so I totally loved this idea.
When we arrived there we were starving so we decided to eat at “Aurora”.
food in switzerland
I ordered the Apéro and everything it came with it was just delicious, but above all I really liked the bread.
I also took some chips from my kids’s dishes and they were also delicious.
The little girl even said that those were the best chips she has ever had in her life!
She has travelled a lot around the world and her mum owns a restaurant, so I would trust her about the quality.
Everything was delicious and the service was fast, but of course it was very expensive.
Switzerland has been the most expensive place I have ever been to for sure.
After lunch we decided to wander around the city and albeit it was stunning, we noticed that nobody was wearing masks even in the shops.
old town in zurich
There were huge queues outside Louis Vuitton, Prada and all these luxury brands because there were sales, but nobody respected the distances.
luxury shops in zurich
It was also starting to get warmer and warmer and the kids were pretty tired, so we decided to go back to Germany.

 

What I love about Germany

When I moved from Italy to Germany in 2016 everyone kept me asking: “Why Germany?”, “Why don’t you move to England or to France? They are so beautiful, while Germany looks so sad and depressive!”
Most of the people who told me that had not even ever been to Germany and I did not get where these stereotypes about Germany came from.
I have been living in Germany for almost four years now,  so I can finally tell what I love about Germany so much.

Centre of Europe
Albeit geographers consider Poland the heart of Europe, I think that it is easier to travel from Germany rather than from Poland, since Germany borders with 9 countries and the prices are very cheap.
I am so glad to live in a country with such a strategic position and since I live here I have been able to travel to Austria, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden.
-Castles
There are more than 20.000 castles in Germany and the more I visit one, the more I crave to visit the next one.
They are all so different from each other and so dreamy, that they are for sure one of the reasons I consider this country my favourite.
Dreamy castles, pink castles, pink castle, Germany most beautiful castles
-Openminded
People are very openminded here, especially in the big cities.
-Cheapness of grocery stores
I think that Germany might be the country with the cheapest products in grocery stores of all Europe.
You can find products from all over Europe spending just few money.
-Public transport
Busses and trams are always punctual, they run at every hour of the day and they are never full of people.
-Safety
Germany is one of the safest countries in Europe and you can notice that just seeing the trams and busses full of children that go by themselves at school.
At the beginning I was also shocked to see girls by themselves around in the night, but now I do the same  since I realised that it is really pretty safe in here.
-Beauty
I might be biased, but I think that Germany is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
It has everything: big cities, fairytale towns, industrial cities, mountains, lakes, rivers, sea and so on.
Munich Marienplatz
-Seasons
The four seasons in Germany are simply stunning.
In Italy we experience just Summer and Winter, while in here you can experience amazing Springs and Autumns.
I still cannot believe that I get the chance to admire such a landscape from “my” house or from every panoramic point of Heidelberg.

-Green country
Being environment friendly is the key word in Germany.
People and children go by bike everywhere. People prefer public transport over driving by car as well and I even know pretty wealth people who do just take trains to travel to other countries and who never fly.
Recycling is really serious in here and there is a separated bin for almost everything: glass, paper, broken glass, organic waste etc
If you buy a plastic bottle you won’t throw into a bin, but you will put it into a machine that will give you back the extra money (Pfand) that you paid when you bought your drink .
It is also very uncommon, to not say almost impossible to find air conditioning in the houses.
-Half-timbered houses
There are more than 2.5 millions of half-timbered houses in Germany and they add even more aesthetic to this wonderful country.
I do not realise if I am living in a fairytale or in real life sometimes.
Fairytale villages in Europe, half-timbered houses, Germany best villages and towns
-Multicultural
You can find people of every nationality here and I love the fact that people are really good integrate in here.
The kids I look after go to school with many kids of different nationalities: Albanians, Italians , Rumenian, Spanish etc.
-Language education
Mainstream kindergardens are already superior to the British or Italian ones, but what really makes Germany even better are bilingual kindergardens.
I think it is really useful especially for children who have expat parents to attend these schools and being constantly surrounded by both the language of the parents and of the country where they live in.
-Christmas markets
The smell of mulled wine, the decorations, the cities lighted up, the smell of biscuits and chocolare, the Christmas Carols sung around the Christmas tree of the city, the ice skating ring with the Heidelberg Castle in the background…simply the best Christmas markets in the world.
best Christmas markets in the world, Heidelberg Christmas markets
-Rules
They totally live by the rules in here without any exception.
If the street lights is red for the pedestratians then they never cross the street, even if it is 3 am and no car is around.
A lot of people complain about all the rules and how Germans are strict when it comes to aplly them, but  I think that this is one of the main reasons that make Germany safe and great.
-Punctuality, Practicality, Planning

Germans live following those rules and I could not be more happy, since in Italy most of the people tend to do exactly the opposite, while I am always very early at every event.
Other people tend to say “if you are punctual at an appointment with a German, then you are late” since Germans always show up early and I just LOVE that, since I hate waiting for people who are always late.
-Celebrations
Germans celebrate literally everything and there is always a “Fest” or some nice event to attend.
It still seems very strange to me knowing that when a child starts elementary school they will have a party to celebrate it.
It is called “Einschulung” and every kid will get a decorated bag full of stationery products and sweeties that they will bring with them when coming into the class.
After the school there will be a party in a restaurant or at home, with relatives and friends.
-Boys
German boys are not only handsome, but definitely more respectful of girls than Italians and they never leer at girls, or touch them “just by accident” in the clubs or whistle at them.
When approaching girls they are very nice and sweet as well.
I also find them more openminded than Italian boys, since they are not jealous or possessive and they would never control their partners.
-Equality of women
A large number of women in powerful positions.
Nobody feels intimitated or get schocked if you are a girl with other goals that are not getting married and having kids.
German girls are very indipendent.
-Equal parenting
Mums and Dads have exactly the same tasks.
It’s pretty common to see fathers by themselves with babies or children, fathers changing nappies etc
-Decorations
Germans are OBSESSED with decorations. Is it Easter? They will decorate the whole house. Is it Christmas? Decorations everywhere. Is there a child’s party? Decorations!
During Christmas time my whole neighbourhood decorated their windows as the Advent’s Calendar.
We got number 22 and so we lighted it up just on the 22nd of December.
Our street looked simply spectacular.


-Lack of dress code
I love how the Germans do not care about looking always perfect or well dressed to go to the club or to a party. Their style is very casual and nobody judjes you if you are not overdressed.
I always get compliments for my style in here, while in Italy it would be classified as completely normal, since a lot of girls dress way much better than I do.
-German language
The first reason why I moved here back in 2016 was to improve my German, since I used to study it at university (I did not graduate though).
It is such a clever language! I mean to say “fridge” they say “Khlschrank” which means literally “cool cupboard”.
It is such a complex and interesting languages that makes me feel so happy to live here and learning everyday something new about it.
-Formality
I love that in here respect is mutual, so if an adult does not know you and starts to talk to you, they would call you “Frau/Fraulein” (Mrs, Miss) and with “Sie”.
In Italy just younger people would be formal with adults, but adults would never use this formality with young people and that pisses me off a lot.
-Cafes and restaurants
They are simply charming.

Cutest cafes in Heidelberg, instagrammable cafes in Heidelberg

-Cleanliness
Germany has got the cleanest streets and cities I have ever been to.
-Directness
Germans never beat around the bush.
If you annoy them, they will make you notice it just going straight to point.
-Pommes
I would eat them everyday and it is one of the few things I like better in here than Italy.
-German beer
I had never liked beer before living here, while now I can tell that the others cannot even be called beers.
-Daylight
As soon as Summer comes, the daylight will last at least until 10.30 pm.
Sunsets are incredible and being able to enjoy a Summer day for so long makes me forget to not live by the sea.
-Nature
The rivers, the mountains, the mountains, the trees, the parks.
Even right in the centre of cities as Berlin or Munich I noticed that there was a lot of green around and that will never stop to amaze me.
Germany most instagrammable street, Europe cherry blossoms

 

Worst Trips of 2019

As I said in my previous post about my favourite trips of 2019, last year was the year I travelled the most in my entire life: I visited France twice, I went to Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden for the first time ever and I saw a large number of cities in Germany.
Some places were just amazing and have become some of my favourite ones, but some others were really disappointing, so here it is the list of the worst trips of 2019.

1.Bregenz, Austria
Europeans and not Europeans always put Austria in the top 10 of their favourite countries, but if I should write a top list of my favourite countries just basing my opinion on Bregenz, Austria would not even be in the list.
I found Bregenz boring as hell and even the landscape and lake didn’t impress me at all.
Austrian lake
birds in Austria, Austria lakes
2.Paris, France
Yeah, don’t worry, you have exactly read Paris, France.
People always sing its praises, movies always make it seem as the most wonderful place on Earth, instagram pictures make you to want to go there so bad, but I expected so much from this city, that when I finally visited it was the biggest disappointment ever.
People would tell you that Montmartre is one of the most beautiful places of the city, so the first day the little girl I look after and I visited it, since our hotel was right in Montmartre. When we came there we were already a little bit disappointed by how dirty it was, by the artists that kept following us even if we said that we were not interested in having a portrait, and also by the view, that didn’t seem anything special to both of us (albeit “my” little girl is just 10 she has been to several countries and even more cities, so she used to compare a lot Paris with other cities during this trip).
girl from behind in Paris
Then in the afternoon we attended a Free Walking Tour in English – English and Spanish are the only two options – and I think it was one of the few things I liked in Paris. Our guide was Alberto and you could totally see how much he knew about Paris history.
One of the spots of this tour was Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) and it was one of the only two places I actually liked in Paris.
most beautiful hidden spots in Paris
The next day we visited the Louvre: it seemed like a dream to me being finally able to visit this museum after having studied Art history for so many years.
I almost cried when I saw all those statues and paintings.
The Italian room was my favourite one and I did not understand why people were so obsessed with La Gioconda, when in that room there were definitely better paintings.
Louvre was for sure the highlight of this trip. It was Louvre at first sight.
Louvre, Paris
After having visited the Louvre, we decided to see the Eiffel Tower, which was definitely the biggest disappointment of the trip.
I will never forget the little saying “Its colour is so shitty brown!”.
The last day I decided to bring the little girl to Cité des sciences et de l’industrie  (City of Science and Industry), since I wanted her to enjoy something about the city, but I enjoyed it more than her since I could understand French while she did not.
girl from behind, lightroom preset3.Cologne, Germany
This trip to Cologne was very spontaneous and not planned, since I was visiting a friend in Bonn and when she told me that Cologne was just at 20 minutes by train from it I took the chance to thick another city off my list.
Its skyline and the Cologne Cathedral – the third tallest one in the world – were really beautiful, but once we walked around the city I wasn’t impressed by it at all, but I have also admit that we were there for just a short amount of time, so my opinion ha salso been influenced by the little amount of time spent there.

cologne cathedral, germany best monuments, UNESCO heritage sites in Germany

 

 

Best in Travel 2019

2019 was the year I travelled the most in my entire life and I couldn’t feel more grateful for all the wonderful places I saw and for the people who were with me during all these trips, especially with all that’s happening right now with the coronavirus.
I have visited so many different countries and cities that it was very hard to make this top list, even though I had no doubt on my first favourite one.

1.Copenhagen, Denmark
1copenhagen

The colourful buildings of the Nyhavn and its smell of seafood, beautiful cafes, the neighborhood of Christiania, feeling safe when walking around its streets: just few reasons to love Copenhagen.
I got so many positive vibes walking around this city, that I think it has become my favourite European capital.

2.Dresden, Germany
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Even though I have lived in Germany for a while now, I had never travelled more North than Heidelberg since my two trips in Berlin back to 2013 and 2014 and after my trip to Dresden I understand that this was a big mistake, since Dresden is now one of my favourite big cities of Germany.
I loved the contrast between the Neustadt (new town) – full of street art and modern buildings – and the Altstadt (old town), so elegant and full of historic buildings.
I was also very surprised by the the large number of fountais alla round the city.
It was so posh and elegant that I thought to be in Italy sometimes.

3.Malmö, Sweden

3malmo
I loved the smell of Kanelbulle everywhere, the big green parks, the streets that looked like out of a fairytale and its lovely cafes.
If you visit Copenhagen make also sure to visit Malmö, since it is just 20 minutes away from it by train.

4.Bonn, Germany

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You do not need to go to Japan when you can visit Bonn and its magical cherry blossom alley.
Beside the cherry blossom alley you can visit so many other things as Beethoven’s house or the first Haribo shop ever.
I think Bonn is one of the most charming German towns.

5.Ladenburg, Germany
5ladenburg
This lovely village is just at few stops away by train from Heidelberg and I just had the chance to visit it last Summer.
It was not crowded with tourists and looked like a postcard from another era.

6.Basel, Switzerland
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With its clean streets, its beautiful architecture, its delicious chocolate and the streets full of graffiti, it totally stole my heart and it made me want to come back to Switzerland as soon as possible.

7.Strasbourg, France
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I wasn’t sure if I liked Strasbourg or not, since when I arrived there I loved the centre and it reminded me a little bit of Heidelberg, albeit I find Heidelberg more beautiful.
Then I roamed outside of the centre and I didn’t like it at all, but I decided to put in this list anyway because the centre was very nice and worth a visit.

 8. Salerno, Italy
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Believe it or not, but even if I was born and raised in Naples, at just 50 minutes by train from it, I had never been to the centre of Salerno before (just on the Amalfi coast).
The city is very popular among tourists for its Christmas lights installations, which can be seen from December until January.
The lights were simply spectacular and I liked the city as well.