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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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It’s about the journey, not the destination

As a traveller, be prepared to be flexible. Things are not always going to go the way you planned. You might run out of money, have to sleep in uncomfortable places or have to take a huge detour. Don’t let this put you off. Unexpected turns often make for the best adventures. Last summer, a mistake brought me to visit Romania for the first time and it was actually a place I loved.

Evacuation
Monday morning, it was still dark. Considering it was summer, can you imagine at what horrible hour I must have gotten up? My boyfriend joked that he hoped I would be back at his front door that night after he would get home from work. The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter now. I was going to fly away from it. Knowing my signature is being always late, I take precautions being extra early for things that don’t wait—such as flights. Meaning the whole getting up extremely early thing was probably not even necessary if I had a normal feeling for time management like most people, but no. I prefer to get up in the middle of the night to make sure I get to the airport 5 hours in advance, rather than 2 minutes late. Since it was my decision to go this early I was fully prepared for getting up really early and than waiting 5 long hours, sweaty, in order to save some room in my backpack. When it was time to board I wasn’t anymore grumpy than usual despite having spent a full working day awake before noon. Then it happened. Flight delayed… Ok. Nothing happened to my mood yet. I was still going on a holiday and my friend in Belgrade could probably wait an hour more. Only, it wasn’t just my flight that was delayed, it was pretty much all of them. Something was off, but the airport gave no notice of what was going on. After about 40 minutes I decided that it was time to figure out for myself what was going on. You don’t need to be a master researcher to find out what the airport is not telling you… The rest of the world new already that the traffic control tower had been evacuated because of a strange penetrant smell.

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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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Giveaway Special!

(For readers with an adress in Belgium or the Netherlands)

It have been an amazing few weeks in which my blog has gained more and more traffic. A fantastic event, because that means more people are getting inspired by my stories and sharing stories and inspiring people to travel is exactly my goal. Travelling is one of the few things you can be that actually makes you richer and if everybody would open themselves up to be influenced and amazed by new cultures, languages, people and environments the world would be a much better place.

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If you got here, you must be either a readily addicted traveller looking for more inspiration, or a first-time traveller who has set the first step of orientating yourself in the world of travel. Whatever your reason may be for checking out my page, I love that you are here and I want to thank you and inspire you to keep up your travel motivation. In order to do so, I am allowed to give out a very handy gadget to one of you…

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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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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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On a quest to the Overstay (Hostel Review)

“The best hostel in the Universe – 5 stars” “Not what it seems on the website – 1 star” “Best vibes in Bangkok – 5 stars” “Not meant for everyone – 1 star””Stay here! – 5 stars” “Worst place I’ve ever stayed – 1 star” “Loved it – 5 stars” “Do not stay here – 1 star”….

In case you did not realise what I was doing here, I was citing titles and ratings of other people’s reviews, found on Tripadvisor.  As any other hostel, “the Overstay” has some intermediate reviews, however, the vast majority either loves it or hates it and it is rather easy to see why.

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High on Redbull and Drunk on Music

What happens if you are sober at an electronic musical party?

Sober October. That is my motto; a little piece of lifestyle invented by myself years ago and still standing strong. For some of you a month of drinking no alcohol might sound like hell on earth, whereas others normally only drink on their birthday and New Year’s Eve, or not at all. Personally I am neither, but I do like a drink now and then, especially in certain social situations. An electronic music festival (in Europe) is excatly the situation where everybody is under the influence of something; be it booze or drugs.

Getting invited to a party where mainly electronic music would be playing in October was not an excuse to give up on my non-drinking principle or a reason to decline the party invitation; it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to find out how you would experience a party where everybody is out of their minds on some substance from a sober point of view: losing count of the number of cans of energy drink you already downed in order to keep your own body fueled with energy.

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