House of Cards

Joschka Mueller, Switzerland

Does the main character of a movie always habe to behave morally? A movie or a series is usually produced to make money and big numbers of viewers. In action films, thrillers, science fiction etc. the protagonist is normally a hero. In all other kinds of movies, we have a person who’s polite or at least seemed to be liked by the people.

Well Frank and Claire Underwood are definitely not representing for these stereotypes. They’re cheaters, betrayers and on there way to power so that nothing stands in-between.

The series starts with a statement of Frank (Kevin Spacey) who’s talking to the audience while killing a dog in its last breath. He claims that we should differ between necessary and unnecessary pain. His attitude carries through the entire series. Whatever crosses his path, he will take either advantage of it or pushes it ruthlessly aside. We ascribe Claire (Robin Wright) the same attributes as Frank. She is as tough as he is which makes the series on the one hand even more strange, but also interesting. They appear like a team on their way to reach the top of the hierarchy of the US government.

However, their way is full of milestones and problems in all kinds of ways. They are even involved as murderers and commit crimes. The public and the press is mostly a big opponent for them.

I really liked this series because it is completely different to all other kinds of movies. It’s addicting and you get into it.

What To Do in Hanover, Germany

Henriette Viemann , Germany

Even though it might not be be the first or most popular city that comes to your mind when you think of Germany, the city Hanover is definitely worth a visit and has a lot to offer.

In this article I’m going to  tell you why exactly you should plan a visit there and fun things to do during your stay.

First, we are going to start with a little bit of geography and history. Hanover is the located in the northern part of Germany and is the capital city of the German state of Lower Saxony. It has around 530,000 inhabitants, with that it is the thirteenth largest city in the country. The city was founded a long way back, in medieval times on the east bank of the river Leine, which flows right through the city and offers a lot of water sports activities for locals, as well as for tourists. Becoming a rather large town during the 13th century, Hanover received it’s town status  in 1241, mainly due to it’s position at a natural crossroad where a lot of trade took place during that time. Many churches were built in the 14th century, such as the city wall with three gates one can still see remains of them both today. Unfortunately, as an important railroad and production centre, Hanover was a major target for strategic bombing during World War 2, leaving big parts of the city largely destroyed. However, a lot of things were rebuilt and even though big parts were destroyed you can  still see a lot of old and historic buildings in the old town, which is definitely worth taking a walk through.

But what else are interesting activities one can do in the city ?

One of the first things you should do to get a great overview  of  the city is to visit the New Town Hall, located in the middle of the city.  It was opened in 1913, after it had been under construction for nearly 12 years. The building’s dome, where the observation platform is located, is 97.73m high. With it’s arched course following the shape of the dome , the dome’s lift is unique in Europe. From the observation platform you have a great view over the whole city and can see a lot of other famous sights from there.

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Another attraction that one shouldn’t miss while visiting Hanover is the Herrenhausen Gardens.  In total, they consist of four seperate, rather large gardens, called the Great Garden, the Berggarten, the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. The Great Garden has been one of the most popular and distinguished baroque formal gardens of Europe, ever since it’s opening in 1640, when the castle was built. During the same time , the Berggarten was  transformed from a simple vegetable garden that was used for cooking in the castle, into a large botanical garden with it’s own attractions.  The other two gardens, the Welfengarten and the Georgengarden have been constructed in the style of historic English gardens and are considered popular recreation areas for the residents and inhabitants of Hanover. The history of the gardens spans over several centuries, and they have always been a big attraction in  the city and remain  popular to this day.

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Your bucket list also shouldn’t miss the Maschsee, an artificial lake situated south of the city centre of the city, just like the New Town Hall, which is in walking distance. Being 78 hectares large, it is the largest body of water in Lower Saxony’s capital. Just like the earlier mentioned Herrenhauser Gardens, the lake is a popular and well known recreation area for inhabitants and tourists and also serves as a venue for a big variety of water sports all through the season. Here, you can rent a boat for a pretty good price to just enjoy time on the water or you can go around on good bike paths on a bicycle or on inline skaters. Or you can just take a relaxing walk around the lake, which will probably take you around  40-50 minutes.

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Last, but not least, I want to talk about something that you might not find that special, because a lot of cities have a zoo , but Hanover’s is actually special for many reasons. The Zoo is located right in the city centre, so it is very easy to get there, by public transportation, by bike, or by car.  The zoo was established on 4 May 1865, and comprises an area of 22 hectares. It contains about 3,414 animals in 237 species, which are cared for by more than 400 employees. There are seven differently themed areas or lands, from Canada’s Yukon Bay, populated by seals and polar bears, to the Indian Jungle Palace with its tigers, leopards and sacred grey langur monkeys, and the Australian Outback of kangaroos and emus. While visiting the zoo, you will be able to not only see a lot of interesting and exotic animals, but also do other activities, like going through a labyrinth, jump on a trampoline, or go to a big playground. Either way, you are going to have a great experience at one of the world’s most famous zoos.

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Personally I would say that even though Hanover has way more exciting things to show you, these are my personal favourites, since they are a lot of fun for everyone, regardless of what age you are. Generally speaking, the city of Hanover is definitely worth a visit and has a lot of activities to offer.

 

 

3 Days in Los Angeles, What To Do

Maria Bouman, The Netherlands

You cannot visit California without a visit to the City of Angels: Los Angeles. Famous for the movie studios, Hollywood and The Walk of Fame, but there is so much more to see in this spectacular city, even when you are only visiting for three days! So start planning your trip to LA right now, because I will reveal to you the best sightseeing places, restaurants and, of course, the most wonderful shops.

20 choses à faire à Los Angeles

Visit The Farmers Market

I started my trip with a visit to the famous Farmer’s Market. This is a great experience to try different kinds of foods from several cultures. From Italian pastas to Japanese sushi, The Farmers Market has it all. Around Christmas is the perfect time for a visit because of the special atmosphere and exuberant decoration. There are also many Christmas festivities going on, like live music and Dickensian carolers. The market is not only a great place to eat, but also to shop. All the big names like ZARA, Barney’s, Coach and many more have a shop in this area. So the perfect location for food, shops and fun!

Los Angeles Farmer's Market

Forget the Universal Studios and go to the Warner Bros Studios

Los Angeles is without doubt the capital of the movie industry. All the big movie companies are located here, like Universal, Warner Bros and Paramount. For all the movie lovers this is the perfect opportunity to visit one of their studios, but the big question is which one to visit? I chose the Warner Bros Studios. They offer different kinds of tours, like a general tour, classic tour, deluxe tour and even a horror tour. I decided to go for the classic tour because I am a big fan off the old movies. This tour is focused on the Golden Age of Hollywood from the early 1900s to 1960s. If you are not a huge fan of the old movies, than a better option is the general tour. The tour I took was 3.5 hours and it was an amazing experience. They showed us the movie locations of Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause and many more! What is special about this tour is the fact that they really give you an inside look behind the studio. They showed us the depot with all the equipment they used in the Warner Brothers’ movies. In total the tour took around 3.5 hours so a good option would be to combine the tour with another day activity.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

You cannot visit Los Angeles without a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At this place you can find the real stars. In total there are 2,600 stars, from The Beatles to Johnny Depp, along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Fine Street. I went to this place in the evening, but I highly recommend going during the day. You have a much better view of the street and a lot is going on, like street performances and you can even take a picture with a real snake!

The Beatles -  Walk of Fame Star -    Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 194, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Griffith Observatory Park, The Best of Both Views

Looking for the best view of the whole city? Go to the Griffith Observatory Park where you will find a breathtaking view on the City and the Hollywood Sign! There are two options to go. The first one is to go by car and park your car at the Griffith Observatory parking place. This is the easiest way but I would definitely recommend to go here by hiking. It’s active and by this way you discover so much more. There a dozens of way to get to the park, from beginner to advanced level. I was not prepared for a challenging hike so I decided to go for the East Griffith Observatory Trail. This hike took only 30 minutes, so perfect when you have more plans for the day. For this hike you can park your car to the intersection of Vermont and Vista de Valle / Commonwealth Canyon road and walk west on Vista de Valle. Go further and you see the picnic table, this is the start of the hike. This route is easy-to-follow and not that difficult. During this trip you will pass by many point where you have a magnificent view over the city of Los Angeles. After 30 minutes you will arrive at the Observatory, which offers you art deco architecture, the views on the Hollywood Sign and the Statue Memorial to James Dean. This was just one short and easy way to go. For an overview of all the different hikes go to http://www.modernhiker.com. Enjoy your hike!

Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles, California by Matt MacMillan

A True Shopping Paradise

Los Angeles is by far the best place to shop in California. It offers a variety of high end brands, vintage stores, upcoming designers, big department stores and cozy boutiques. I started my shop session at Melrose Avenue. First stop was the legendary retailer Fred Segal. Well known for the perfect jeans. Visit also Gregory’s for great service and exclusive, high quality Italian shoes. I found here the perfect pair of over-knees suede boots. Go further on Melrose Avenue and you will find big names like Paul Smith, Balenciaga. Looking for something more affordable? Go to Wasteland consignment store. This vintage walhalla offers a big range of clothes for men and women. I ended my shopping adventure with a visit to most famous shopping street off Los Angeles: Rodeo Drive. Every legendary designer has his own brand store, from Chanel to Hermes. Shopping in this street is only possible with a big wallet, but even only for the window shopping it is a great experience.

Let's shop! Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills~Great shopping.~ Miss M

The oldest part of Los Angeles, Olvera Street

Done with the glitter and glamour of Hollywood and looking for something completely different? Go to Olvera street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles. This street is known as the birthplace of the city. It is famous for the Mexican heritage and it is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. The street will give you the experience to be part of the old Mexico through the authentic architecture, restaurants, markets, traditional music and folklore shops. Go to this place during the day because in the night most shops and markets are closed. I would also recommend to check out their webpage with information about upcoming events http://www.olvera-street.com.  

21 Places Every Arts and Culture Lover Should Visit in Los Angeles via @MyDomaine

Santa Monica, The Pearl of The California Lifestyle

Before heading back home I made a little stop in the beach town Santa Monica. Famous for the beaches, 300 days of sunshine and the amazing sunset. Santa Monica is also well-known as a walkable and bike-friendly town. So park you car at the beach and explore the rest of the town by bike of with your walking shoes. Make sure to visit the Santa Monica Pier with a variety of shops, restaurants and carnival attractions. From the pier you walk straight into downtown Santa Monica in only 10 minutes! Around 2.00 P.M. it was time to go back home via highway 1. It was an amazing trip which I would never forget!

mijn favoriete stad is LA omdat ik het gewoon een hele mooie stad vindt                                                                                                                                          More

Where to stay?

Los Angeles offered a wide range of accommodations types. From cheap hostels to luxury hotels. I decided to stay at the Banana Bungalow Hostel in West-Hollywood because I made the trip on my own. A hostel is a great tool to meet new people because there are a lot of individual travelers. I would highly recommend the Banana Bungalow Hostel due the great location, free breakfast and drinks during the night.

 

The Best Places to Go Backpacking in Vietnam

From the islands of Ha Long Bay, to the caves of Phong Nha, cascading rice terraces of Sapa, the maze of rivers and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta, and mountains of Da Lat… Vietnam is really attractive for low budget or backpacking tours. I have now picked out the best places in Vietnam and will introduce them now. Have fun to create your own perfect backpacker trip.

Vietnam Fast Facts

Currency: Vietnamese dong
Language: Vietnamese
Population: 96.5 million
Religion: Buddhist is the majority

Hanoi (2 days)

The chaotic capital of Vietnam is a great place to start your journey, or end it. The city has many attractions to see, most of which are lakes, pagodas and museums, and of course, the Old Quarter. What makes Hanoi great is that, as a central hub, you can easily catch transport to the rest of the region.

Recommendation to stay: Central Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (dorms, 5 $/night)

Hanoi

Sapa (2-3 days)

Sapa is one of the best places to see in Vietnam. And it is the place in Vietnam for trekking through the rice terraces, lush valleys and endless karst peaks of the region. Include Heavens Gate, Mount Fansipan (the highest peak of Indochina) and Muong Hoa Valley. You can either book a 2-3 day tour through a company that will include your buses to Sapa and back to Hanoi that includes your trek leaders, homestay, and food. Or you can rent a Motorbike ($10/day), cheap for the freedom to explore some of the incredible sights around Sapa at your own pace.

Recommendation to stay:  spend the night in a village homestay with a tribal family

Sapa

 

Ha Long Bay (2-3 days)

Ha Long Bay, crowned one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, is the epitome of Vietnamese coastline, with its thousands of limestone karst peaks jutting out of its emerald waters and the hundreds of uninhabited islands topped with dense jungle, scattered around the bay. Check out Cat Ba National Park, explore Dau Go cave, and make sure you go kayaking!

Ha Long Bay

 

Hue (2 days)

This is a beautiful small town offering a great break in the journey from Hanoi to Hoi An. One of Vietnams most royal cities, Hue is littered with impressive historic sights, delighting the inner nerd in us all!

Check out the impressive Citadel on the other side of the perfume river. This impressive piece of history is made up of four separate citadel’s and will take a full day to explore, you can hire a bike to get around! Check out the Thien Mu Pagoda; standing at 21 metres high and decorated with mind-blowing architecture this pagoda is a pretty spectacular eyeful.

 Recommended place to stay: Hue Happy Homestay

Hue

 

Z-Event: The Streamers Charity Event

Lucas Michel, France

It becomes an unavoidable event in the French video games community, after the success of the first edition last year. This new edition of the Z-Event beat all records with more than 1 Million Euros collected in 3 days. Organized by one of the most popular French streamers, Adrien “Zerator” Nougaret, and his assistant, Alexendre “Dach” Dachary. This initiative exceeded all expectations and pulverized all the records.eSport - esport - Adrien « ZeratoR » Nougaret, mégaphone en main, au moment de clôturer le Z Event. (Timo Verdeil)

The results of last year were already very impressive. In live from the Adrien’s home, 30 streamers gathered at the same place took turns during the entire week-end, that is to say more than 50 hours. In the end: 500,000 unique viewers, 109.382 peak audience and 487.578,66 Euros (554.120 USD) collected for the association Red Cross and the victims of the Hurricane Irma. The event was relayed by the TV and the gaming community, often criticized for being nerds in their rooms doing nothing, proved this day that they are a lot more than that and can be very generous and with great abilities to come together for a good cause.

But this year was even more impressive. This time it was 40 streamers in the same place. Not at Adrien’s house but in a large room lent for the occasion by the city. More organized, the start  already broke a record, 100,000 Euros were collected in less than one hour. It had taken the entire first night to amass this amount of money last year. In the last hour in the night of Sunday to Monday, the streamers saw the pot increased by 200,000 Euros to overtake the symbolic amount of 1 Million Euros.

More than 190,000 people were connected at 1am to attend the end of the event, more than 1,500,000 unique viewers. A beautiful rewards for Adrien and his team after 53 hours of streaming. The tiredness and the emotions were the reasons Adrien, like some of other streamers, could not restrain their tears after having crossed the level of the million of euros collected. Often despised for their passion for the video games, the gamers community has proven that they can do big and generous things.

California Road Trip Trough Big Sur

Adele Fadier, France

Does the idea of a California road trip makes you dream? From Santa Barbara to Monterey you will discover all the best spots of the Pacific Coast, driving on Highway 1.

The California Coast is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. By this way you can discover all the California’s amazing natural life. Obviously, when you drive alongside the ocean you are going to see incredible places and views. That’s the upside of a road trip-you can stop everywhere you want. So, now I will show you the most famous spots of this Highway 1.

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After leaving Santa Barbara, your first official stop will be in San Simeon. In fact, this city located on California’s Central Coast offers drivers many reasons to stop and stay a while. San Simeon is home to 17,000 different animals, offering many opportunities to commune with wildlife and especially the elephant seals. Thousands of these sea mammals can be viewed sun bathing on a sandy beach or having a jolly good time in the water. The second famous place to visit in San Simeon is the Hearst Castle. It’s a National Historic Landmark which was a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. Actually many people come to visit this castle because of its amazing Roman architecture.

Then, you can continue on the road until you reach Sand Dollar Beach, which is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur and is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in Big Sur. Visitors said Sand Dollar Beach is a beautiful and relaxing spot to lay out or have a picnic. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it costs $10 to park your car, but another thing that is important to know is that swimming at Sand Dollar Beach is considered dangerous – so be careful.

sand dollar beach

22.1 miles later you will arrive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet (24 meters) into the Pacific Ocean. In the same area you will find the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a nonprofit arts center, bookstore, and performance venue, championing the late writer, artist, and Big Sur resident Henry Miller and other creative individuals living in or near Big Sur. But that’s not all, in this place you can also find the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Pfeiffer Beach. This state park is massive with several hiking trails, picnic grounds and watering holes where you can see picnickers swimming with joy. About the Pfeiffer Beach, I strongly recommend coming in just before sunrise so that you can have the beach all to yourself. Moreover, it’s an amazing place to take pictures of the sunset or sunrise thanks to the impressive rocks situated in front of the beach.

In the same area, there is Partington Cove which is a beautiful hike to take in Big Sur. As you make your way through a tunnel, you will start to see the beginning of one of the most beautiful coves you will ever see – the water is so clear you can see the kelp and what seems to be the ocean floor below.

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A few kilometers further you can find Point Sur Lighthouse. That’s the only complete light station open to the public in California and it offers you an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

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Then, you can continue your road until one of the most famous spot of the Big Sur, the Bixby Creek Bridge. It’s also one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its aesthetic design. It’s like a gate away to Big Sur.

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Now we arrive at the last area of this road trip, Monterey County, but don’t worry there are still many beautiful places to discover.

First, Garrapata State Park, an unknown Big Sur jewel – it’s a treasure to those who have discovered it. Garrapata State Park’s unpopulated hiking trails provide access to both the beautiful Big Sur coastline and the breathtaking Santa Lucia Mountains. So, you can’t miss it!

garrapatagarrapata sp

After this, you can go to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This place is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, scuba diving, and jogging. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales. In this reserve you ought to go to China Cove and Gibson Beach, two amazing places to enjoy the view and the wildlife.

Point Lobos State Reserve at Highway 1 in California

Then, we will arrive at the penultimate city of this road trip called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. Here you can visit all the pretty streets of the city and the famous Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

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Finally, we will arrive at Monterey, the last place of this road trip. This is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of California. It was originally the state capital of California but today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there.

As a conclusion, Big Sur will offer you an amazing road trip to discover the California central coast trough the Highway 1. Do not hesitate to stop whenever you want to enjoy the view or the atmosphere of a place. Let appreciate the nature and the wildlife without human intervention. So enjoy it, but be respectful of all the places you will visit. Another important thing to know is that you have to work on your itinerary before you go. Sometimes, some parts of the Highway can be closed for any reasons, so it’s better to be informed in time.

You can find below a video of a road trip in Big Sur with some places to sleep and to eat.

Enjoy your trip!