Travel Guides: Trip Ideas, Inspiration & Deals

Delicious drives in Germany Kurhaus Binz to Stralsund, via Middelhagen

Rested and energised, I prepared for my third and final day with Hertz by the Baltic Sea. After breakfast at the hotel I headed off in my Ford Mustang hire car to the Villa mit Sonnenhof.

On my way there, I discovered a small wood shop called Holzkunst nach Wunsch, and decided to stop for a break.

At Holzkunst nach Wunsch, Mirko Quade uses a chainsaw to carve skilfully-crafted figures, furniture and signs out of different types of wood. Youll find one-of-a-kind pieces here and the craftsmanship is truly impressive. Visiting with a car is easy so I was glad to be in my Mustang, but its tricky to reach on foot as there arent any buses or trains nearby.

I reached the pinnacle of my road trip at the Villa mit Sonnenhof in the Baltic resort of Ghren.

The proprietors, Peter and Christina Knobloch, offer a selection of spices, vinegars, sauces, jams and many more culinary delicacies crafted with love and care in the farmyard kitchen.

The Villa mit Sonnenhof is also home to holiday apartments and a cooking school.

The listed villa, built in a spa style, is located in the quiet, residential district of the Baltic Sea resort on the island of Rgen. Loaded with spices and energised by a delicious piece of cream cake, I journeyed onward to Alt Reddevitz.

After a quick stop at Am Wasser, an idyllic restaurant in Alt Reddevitz on the small peninsula of Mnchgut, I ran over to Moccavino, the caf directly opposite.

I couldnt resist another piece of cream cake before continuing on to the Rgener Senfmanufaktur in Garz where they make mustard.

The mustard factory is also known for its unfiltered Rgener Knall Rlps Furz Bier a unique drink made of hops, only available here. I obviously couldnt miss out on a bottle of this extraordinary beer, which I bought together with some speciality mustards.

From the island of Rgen I headed to the Hanseatic town ofStralsund and the Romance-era Scheelehof Hotelin the centre of its old town.

This historic superior-4-star hotel impresses with its five historic buildings, each from a different century. I spent my final night at the Baltic Sea in one of the hotels 92 unique rooms, each of which offers its guests a different experience.

To end my trip, I indulged in yet another culinary delight at Speicher 8, a restaurant in the harbour town of Stralsund. Right in the harbour, the restaurant offers excellent hospitality and a range of delicacies prepared with regional ingredients. An excellent end to another good day. Feeling refreshed after a substantial breakfast, I got back in the powerful Mustang to begin my journey back to the Ruhr.

Before setting off, I couldnt resist a short detour to the Stralsund marzipan factory in Jungfernstieg where the master confectioner creates marzipan specialities, exclusively from fresh, specially-selected, preservative-free ingredients. With a sweet treat in my suitcase, I returned to my Ford Mustang to complete the journey.

Ending my road trip with Hertz was a breeze, as I simply dropped the keys back into a designated safe. As I parked at Dortmund Airport with more than 1,700 kilometres on the speedometer, I said farewell to my faithful companion.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hertz.

Related posts:

Delicious drives in Germany: Heringsdorf to Kurhaus Binz, via Mellenthin

Delicious drives in Germany: Dortmund to Heringsdorf, via Loddin

Delicious drives in the UK: Lancaster to the Cartmel Peninsula, via Kendal

Delicious drives in the UK: Cartmel Peninsula to the Lake District, via Furness

Delicious drives in the UK: The Lake District to Lancaster, via Ullswater

Wandering Through Wonderfruit

So, while I’m still catching up on my ridiculously delayed 2016 travel recaps, I just can’t wait to start sharing my big trip (thus far) of 2017. So I’ll be jumping back and forth a bit again. Apologies for any confusion, my friends!

As we near the halfway mark of 2017, I look back and already can pull out one of the clear highlights: finally attending Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand. Combing my passion for festivals with my favorite home-away-from-home destination? Pure bliss!

Like Burning Man, I really can’t define Wonderfruit as a simple music festival. I didn’t know a single act on the lineup before arrival – and it didn’t matter. What did matter was gathering eleven of my nearest and dearest fellow Southeast Asia expats for four days of amazing art installations, creative food, funky music, sustainability-focused workshops, and fruit-filled good times.

This was Wonderfruit's third edition, with the fourth is coming up already this December , the passing of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej postponed the festival from December of 2016 into February of 2017 due the legally mandated country-wide mourning period. It also affected some acts who couldn't reschedule, and was rumored to affect attendance numbers, though we had nothing to compare it to personally having never been before.

While there were some stumbling blocks along the way that I hope Wonderfruit will be striving to improve for future editions, we had an overall fantastic experience.

After kicking around Pattaya for twenty-four hours, we arrived at the Wonderfruit gates not long after the camping area opened at 4pm on Thursday. After a brief foray though security and sign in, we made our way to our chosen tents. We'd all decided to splurge on boutique camping, which I was thrilled with , no hauling tents or sleeping bags, and all kinds of fun glamping perks!

I'll have more details about the boutique camping in my upcoming budget breakdown, but suffice it to say I would book it again in a heartbeat.

As the sun set, we couldn't wait to get out and explore the festival grounds. However, we found that much of the festival was still being set up and the crowds were so small it was hard to get that festive feeling. There were no scheduled activities and very few musical acts on the stages.

Later, we'd reflect that Friday was the perfect warm-up size crowd, while Saturday was wild and Sunday was hot on its heels. In retrospect, I'd strongly encourage Wonderfruit to take a page from Tomorrowland's book and host a small gathering for on-site campers the first night, either in the campgrounds themselves or in a small sectioned-off area of the festival grounds.

That said, we didn't regret arriving Thursday in the slightest , because it meant we got to wake up in our tents Friday morning! We got up early, threw on spandex and headed over to Guavafruit, a tent sponsored by the Classpass-esque GuavaPass.

Unfortunately, we arrived to find... a bunch of other people in spandex, and a photographer who insisted on taking photos of our disappointment as it slowly dawned on us that this Bootcamp class was not happening. One of the girls in the group told us she'd also come an hour earlier for an alleged Tabata class that also didn't happen. We were bummed because we would have happily gone to yoga with some of the rest of our crew had we known that the morning classes were cancelled.

After that failed attempt at activity, we gave up and went to the lake!

After watching Wonderfruit promo videos and talking to past attendees, I was super excited for the lazy day parties at the lake. However, they never quite happened , the water levels were really low, which I think maybe kept people away? I'm not sure exactly the reason, but we had fun cooling off there for a few hours, even if we had it totally to ourselves.

Later, we continued our day of chill with a quick trip to the Wonderfruit spa , more on that later! , and donned spandex again for our second attempt at fitness. This time, we were headed to Liv Lo Yoga.

While the class was pushed back half an hour and the location was changed, we were just thrilled to finally be moving as we flowed through a sweaty and funky vinyasa class led by our energetic Singaporean instructor inside the Rocketfruit tent, one of my favorite spaces from the festival. It was great!

After, we rushed over to the Solar Stage, where our larger group had made plans to congregate. This would become our afternoon meeting point for the next four days, with shady spots all over the playground-like structure and some of our favorite acts performing beneath us. The music of the moment was the Filipino reggae artist Red-I, who would become one of my top discoveries of the festival.

That night, we started to take our dress-up duties seriously. After all, we had packed fruit flair for days!

Wonderfruit had so many amazing spaces to explore at night, and they really started to come alive on Friday. The Moon Shack was a speakeasy-esque, hidden-away little gem sponsored by Sangsom, where we listened to a live jazz band and split a hammered-metal bucket of Thailand's favorite whiskey.

Next, we hopped around the stages that looked totally transformed in the evening's colorful lights before making our way over to Forbidden Fruit, Wonderfruit's first LGBT party hosted by one of Thailand's top drag queens. Yes! Wonderfruit is fierce.

Eventually, we hopped on over to The Quarry, which is a brilliant idea , a hidden jungle late-night-only stage that is short shuffle away from the rest of the festival grounds, keeping the most intense beats from from the camping areas, and lending a cool "afterparty within a festival" vibe to the whole affair.

Though I have to say that personally, I hated it. Deep house is so not my vibe, and I fled quickly after both my short forays down the quarry. That's just a me thing, though , tons of Wonderfruiters were obsessed with The Quarry! I was much happier back at Forbidden Fruit, joining a catwalk contest cattily-narrated by a drag queen , though nope, I didn't win, ha ha.

The third day of a festival is always when recovery starts to be really essential. Luckily, Wonderfruit had us so covered with its onsite massage tent. Heather, Amy and I went straight for the full hour of indulgence and sat back to relax, recharge, and , duh , gossip about the festival so far.

After, we felt ready for a few hours of exploring. We were pretty much melting while doing so , the normal festival month of December is a bit cooler than February, and we were definitely feeling each of those extra degrees of heat.

One really fun moment of the day was wandering by the Living Stage and hearing the night's headliners , Rudimental! , doing a sound check. How often do you get to have such a behind-the-scenes experience at a major US or European music festival?

Eventually, we sought refuge in the Rainforest Pavilion; by night, an intimate dance party, by day, ground zero for sustainability workshops and talks. I chilled in the shady space while enjoying three brief presentations: Plastic Detox by Bangkok-based Madeleine Recknagel, Shark Tales by Andy Cornish, and The Fourth R with Indonesian entrepreneur Kevin Kumala, who invented a plant-based but plastic-like substance that gained notoriety when a video of him dissolving a "plastic" looking bag in water and drinking it went viral. After the festival I went on to Bali where I saw his #iamnotplastic straws being used everywhere , which made it even cooler to have heard him speak!

One of my favorite thing about Wonderfruit was the amazing amount of workshops, talks and classes. While I think their greatest area of improvement would be to facilitate them running more on time (or alerting festival-goers to cancellations and schedule changes via the otherwise-excellent Wonderfruit app), they really did represent amazing value as all are included in your festival ticket.

I'm so bummed I didn't make it to workshops on silkscreening, raku ceramics, wood carving (which I tried to go to, but it was pushed back an hour and I had made plans to meet friends), mandala making, beadworking, hand lettering on plants, and more. If I returned for another year, I'd love to focus on making it a creative, hands-on festival for myself!

Many of the art-based workshops took place in The Sharing Neighborhood, which along with Rainforest Pavilion were two of the areas that were most consistently running on-time and as-scheduled.

Soon I was back at my favorite afternoon spot, The Solar Stage, this time for Thai-filipino artists Jess Connelly + Lustbass. This was one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend , there was so much great music to discover, and I loved how many of the artists were Thai or, more largely, Southeast Asian.

We also learned from chatting to fellow Solar Stage fans that the structure was built by regular Burning Man artist Gregg Fleishman, and had actually been transported all the way from The Playa to Pattaya just for Wonderfruit! The stage was made entirely out of sustainable wood panels slotted together sans screws.

And then we were off to prepare for a big Saturday night... and a surprisingly eventful Sunday. Stay tuned!

Does Wonderfruit sound like your kind of festival?

I received a press pass to Wonderfruit, however all other expenses were my own, and I will outline them in an upcoming budget breakdown. 

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