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Château Wolfenstein

Completely unrelated to my disastrous experience with Wizz Air, I did something exciting a few weeks ago. Anybody who has been following my adventures for longer than just today knows that I have a strange, strong and inexplicable love for abandoned places. As a member of a UrbEx Facebook place, some amazing pictures of a place supposedly called “Château Wolfenstein” popped up on my Facebook timeline and I was instantly in love. It had happened before with Château Miranda (now unfortunately demolished) after I had my first addictive experience with UrbEx completely by accident in Berlin. Anyway, back to Château Wolfenstein. This is what it looks like on the inside… Feel free to fall in love (and keep reading for a better impression).

Château Wolfenstein
You possibly (and correctly) noticed that I mentioned this castle is supposedly called Château Wolfenstein. This is not its original name, but, even though it is known under many different names, it is probably the most used one. What makes it more mysterious to visit a place like this is that it’s location is not advertised out there like a 3* hotel neon shouting for attention. Instead, it is hidden in clues and correctly formulated Google searches. In UrbEx it is common to exchange locations. The rules are simple: if you know a good abandoned spot you go there and take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. Furthermore, you don’t share the location out in the open. Other explorers can ask you for the location and you can offer it to them in return for one of their locations. If you don’t have anything to trade you might have to search for clues on where to find the building you want to visit. In our case an amazing set of Google skills found us the information we needed, but in other cases you will have to compare photos to the environment in order to figure out where you have to go. The treasure hunt is part of the fun! Now even though this place is probably one of the easiest to find abandoned locations in Belgium I won’t spoil that fun and have the location remain a secret (if you do want to know and have something in return for me, please get in touch via the contact page 😀 ). One more cool thing I’m going to give away, it is reasonably easy to reach the spot by public transport!




History
This castle is not a castle like you know it from fairy tales. Not one where queens and kings lived happily ever after and not even one where brave soldiers were based. Manor would be more to the point. The castle was built in 1931 bij Louis Empain and was later sold to the Fabri family. After the second world war it was sold again, this time to the Belgian FNAPG (Fédération Nationale des Anciens Prisonniers de Guerre), an organisation concerned with victims and political prisoners. The castle ended up hosting recovering tubercolosis patients and ex political detainees as a result.

Sleeping under a sky full of stars
The trip to Château Wolfenstein was the first trip with my current boyfriend. It is said that doing exciting things together helps the relationship, so breaking in to an abandoned manor seemed like just the right thing to do. However doing just that would not be complete with a romantic night of camping under a sky full of stars. We borrowed my father’s car, packed nothing but a tent and drove until we reached the vicinity of the castle. On the way we had found a supermarket where we bought a baguette and some toppings to serve as both dinner and breakfast and it was time to find a good place to set up our tent for the night. Now technically wild camping is not allowed in Belgium, but there is a solution to that. Recently a concept called “pole camping” has been set up in Belgium in the Netherlands. Pole campings are small fields, marked wih a pole, where you are welcome to stay the night. Beware that the spots have no facilities at all and are aimed at travellers on foot or by bike. Our car was not really supposed to be there, but we just parked it nearby. Of course respecting the place and fellow campers is an important aspect of keeping this awesome initiative alive, so if you decide to go pole camping, please leave the spot the way you found it or ideally a little bit better. To find good pole camping location in Belgium, check out this page. The website is in Dutch, but the map should be clear to anybody.

Even though it was still August, the night was pretty cold. However, we had our heads poke out of the tent half the night to look at the beautiful sky above us. Most of the pole camping sites are far enough away from large cities to not experience any light pollution, so let yourself be amazed by the beauty of the night. One can even see the milky way and if you’re fond of spotting constellations you could stay up all night (Get the Sky-map app if you need some help on it!). Unfortunately my camera was not good enough to take a photo that will do justice, but you need to see it with your own eyes anyway.

The manor
Now that you know more about UrbEx, the history of Château Wolfenstein and its environment it is finally time to get to know the castle. To make sure the location stays as secret as it is, I can’t give too much detail on how exactly to enter the window, but what I can say is that we entered to a broken glass window. It goes without saying that the window was already broken, but that didn’t make it less dangerous to pass through the shattered glass.

The window opened into a small hallway with a broken sink as a the main feature. The tiny room soon invited us for more exploration. Shockingly enough the next room held shelves full of binders. One quick look inside was enough to know that the files in them stored the information about the patients and prisoners that had lived in this castle not even such a long time ago. It’s pretty insane that all that information is still out and about. After this shocking entrance, the next room was a combination between a dissapointment and a relief. No more private files, but the room revealed that this UrbEx spot is well known among people. The room was set up in a perfect setting: a table with two chairs, next to the fireplace, complete with wine cups and even plastic flowers. It was a pretty setting, no doubt about that, but the place just lost a bit of its authenticity to me.

Interesting enough, the scenes we encountered in all the next rooms varied between clearly staged and completely neglected. This still made the tour pretty interesting. We found more patient files and a desktop with a monitor that clearly belongs a few decades back as well as paintings, messy tables, stained bathtubs, a toilet with a pink plush cover and… a spiral staircase! If that last one doesn’t sound exciting to you, you are probably a normal, well-functioning person. Me on the other hand, I have a strange fascination for spiral staircases, especially in abandoned buildings. I guess we all have some strange interests. And when you see it in the photo, especially with the painting at the bottom, doesn’t the mysterious look of it appeal to you too?

After visiting all the rooms there were to visit, we were pretty overwhelmed with so many different impressions. It is obvious that this place is not as secret as it seems, but the entrance through the broken window adds to the sense of aventure of exploring an abandoned house. The files that were left on the spot make you wonder about the stories of all the people that once spent part of their lives in this house. It is one of the most intriguing parts of exploring places… leaving with a thousand romanticised stories of what it once would have been.

If you are going to try and visit this place or any UrbEx locations, please take into account that you take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footsteps and don’t share the location with the world. Furthermore visiting places like this is technically illegal and could be seen as trespassing.

5 Must-Sees of Western Australia – Alex Johnson

As I have spent a wonderful time in Australia, I can tell you all about the East side. However, the country is large, and in a bit over a year it was impossible to truly visit all of it. Luckily my Aussie contact was willing to enlighten you on that. Happy reading! If you want to read more by Alex, check his info and a link to his blog below the story.

Mind-boggling in size, Western Australia makes up roughly a third of the continent of Australia. With its rich history and diverse landscape of dramatic coasts, vast outback, and everything in between, Western Australia is home to a number of unmissable attractions.

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What’s New?

Dear Readers,

You might have noticed that I have been away for a while. My last post was on January 29th and it was a guest post, not my experience even. I can hardly believe it. Having been sucked up by uni and travelling a bit myself left no room for continuing my baby here. Obviously, things die if you don’t take good care of them, so I lost a lot of readers, exposure and income. Luckily, that is not what I am writing for. I love to write and to share good stories and great places with you, topped up by a giveaway now and again. As a matter of fact, I can start by giving away a nice summerdress for you to enjoy the last weeks of summer in (or to use for a nice trip to the sun while the trees are already losing shredding their leaves in your country). For more about the offer and more on what to come please continue reading.

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Deep into the Volcano – Frank de Jong

A long lasting memory from Iceland

Iceland is known for their glaciers and volcanos. Everybody remembers the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. In Iceland they only remember how foreign reporters would pronounce the name There is also a place called Þríhnúkagígur where you can find a sleeping volcano. It goes down around 700 feet (around 200 meters) and is particularly known for its intense beauty and for the fact you can actually go down there.

Which I have. At the end of my exchange period I decided to have one last trip. At the time I didn’t have a driver license and I had seen a lot of Iceland at that point. In summer I couldn’t really go on a glacier or a take a trip inside an ice cave. After a while I found out there was a volcano where you could descent into and after seeing a clip of Þríhnúkagígur in this documentary I decided I just had to go there.

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A weekend in Ghent

Trip: A weeked in Ghent Date: 25 – 27 November 2016
Route: Delft – Roosendaal – Antwerp – Ghent
Transport to Ghent: Train Transport in Ghent: Tram, bus, walking
Company: Aegee Delft Stayed the night at: Hosted at someone’s house Highlights: Gentse Gruut Brewery ghent

Faraway places with incomprehensble languages, white sand beaches, never-ending rainforests or fields of eternal snow are the dream of any traveller. However, sometimes we should not forget to explore the gems closer to home. Especially when you are working or studying fulltime it can be hard to travel as often as you want and as far as you want. The positive side of this is that you start appreciating what lies more at reach. One of these destinations for me was Ghent, in Belgium. Of most destinations I go to I have certain expectation. I do my research well and know all the things I want to do and see. When I meet people who did things that weren’t yet on my list, that list will just expand and expand. For Ghent this wasn’t the case. Just another city not too far from home where they brew good beers. Alright then. However, Ghent managed to positively suprise me. For example, how many cities have a castle right in the middle of it? Or that sweets exist that you had never heard of before? Or that it is possible to brew beer without the use of hop?

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Thailand Survival Phrases

“Vegetarian”  is not a word often heard in South-East Asia and you certainly should not think that the lady at the street food stall will be able to understand any English. It can be funny doing an half-hour improvisation mime to try and explain that you want rice with eggs and veggies, but without meat, but doing this three times a day, every day can get a bit boring. If you are now thinking that you do not have any dietary requirements and therefore will not end up in this situation, be warned that there can be other situations where you wished you could communicate a bit more clearly.

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Exploring the Ghost Tower

Abandoned places are really my cup of tea, so if I find any, you can be sure that I will keep nagging and whining until

Expedition Ghost Tower: By night

Expedition Ghost Tower: By night

somebody comes with me to explore the mystery with me. Naturally this happened in Bangkok too. I am very sure that a massive city such as Bangkok has a lot to offer for Urban Explorers, but the most well-known abanadoned tower must be Sathorn Unique Tower – better known as “The Ghost Tower” to backpackers. I already briefly mentioned this unique establishment in my top things to do in Bangkok, but this post will contain my personal and not super succesful experience as well as tips and tricks on how to be more succesful than I was. Although I must say, luck plays a little part in it.

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And the next trip goes to….. + Giveaway

For those who have been following my blog closely and who have read more than just the intro page and for those who know me personally it might not be the biggest of surprises, however I have never yet announced it to the rest of my readers. I haven’t yet even finished older posts, but I do think that this is the right time to make you guys look forward to my next trip. With this I don’t mean my weekend in Ghent or one night in London that are in the list on November, but I mean my Christmas and New year’s trip. I have already spent a New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Denmark, but I am certain that the next one is going to be very special….

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5 on the road jobs I checked out for you

How can you afford to travel so often? This is a question most (long-term) travellers get asked a lot, because travelling is quite expensive, or is it? In fact, it does not have to be. Travelling can be expensive if you don’t know the tips and tricks in the field. Tour companies are trying to make as much of a profit as they can and getting about is the easiest if everything is readily arranged for you, so people pay the price. Nowadays, loads of people have discovered that their is an alternative: a group of nomads that try to travel for cheap or free. No wonder that millions of guides on how to travel for nearly nothing have popped up recently. The tips given in these articles can be helpful, but the fact remains that we need to eat, sleep and move ourselves around – at the very least.

So how CAN we afford to travel forever? The answer is simple when you are ready to accept that travelling is not the same as taking a holiday. Long-term travellers are not always living it up on sunny beaches with a cocktail in their hand and a surfboard under their arm. That is part of it, on their day off. Every long-term traveller that was not born a millionaire or won the lottery does one thing on the road that others do in the same office everyday…. That’s right. They work.

However, working and travelling can easily go hand in hand, which is why I wrote this short guide to 5 jobs I have had on the road, to help and inspire you on your quest to travel forever.

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The Ping-Pong Mafia

When abroad, we like to to do, see, watch and try all that a country is either famous or notorious for, next to self-exploring the lesser-known. What we often don’t realise is that not all of these activities are environmentally or politically justified. In South-East Asia, one of the main examples of such a tourist attraction is elephant riding. I hope that most travellers have by now figured out how much harm the are causing by engaging in these activities, so we can boycot the industry. However, today’s article is not about riding elephants, because that subject has long been talked about. This article is about another branche that I believe needs some extra attention: Thailand’s notorious Ping-Pong shows.

Attention to the faint-hearted and extremely well-behaved. This post is going to contain some vulgar language and/or descriptions that I am trying to limit, however that is hardly possible when adressing Ping-Pong shows as a subject. Continue readig at own risk…. Also, if you have little time I would ask of you to just read the final paragraph, which contains a final important conclusion on what makes these shows so disgusting and why you should never visit one.

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