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The flight time is around eleven hours

The flight time is around eleven hours

Iraq is not taboo either

Even a destination like Iraq is not strictly taboo for the organizers. Since the invasion of US troops in 2003, the country has been officially in a state of emergency. The Federal Foreign Office warns against traveling there. But that could change soon. To date, there is no longer any international hotel chain in Baghdad. However, the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism is already planning for the time when security has returned to the Tigris. Between two and five billion euros are to be spent on a new tourism complex on the two-square-kilometer wedding island in the Tigris in Baghdad alone. Several luxury hotels, wellness facilities, a marina, boutiques, restaurants and a golf course are planned. Tour operators such as the Californian provider Distant Horizons and the French company Terre Entière have been offering trips to the north of the country again since 2008. German organizers are also following the events with excitement. The main attractions include the Bible city of Babylon, the Sumerian royal cities Ur and Uruk, the Assyrian metropolises of Nimrud, Nineveh and Assur, the Parthian ruins of Hatra and the Muslim cities of Karbala, Najaf and Samarra.

Vacation in Afghanistan

Another exotic destination could soon experience a renaissance: Afghanistan. The country in the Hindu Kush has appeared on the tourist map for the first time in many years. Local organizers are already offering tours to the Buddha statues of Bamian, which were blown up by Taliban warriors in 2001, are going on trekking tours to the northern province of Badakhshan, snowboarding tours in the Hindu Kush and rafting on the Panshir River.

And what does the conscience say?

But can I, as a guest, travel safely to countries where injustice, kidnappings and violence are the order of the day? “I am convinced that isolating these countries is of no use to the local people. To leave them to their fate is the wrong way,” says Edwin Doldi. “We are of the opinion that tourism that calls itself socially acceptable and not only takes it, but also gives something to the travelers, brings benefits to the travelers and the people in the countries.” This applies to many countries in this category. In Burma, for example, where a military regime has ruled for years, his company is supporting a monastery school by purchasing medical equipment for the school clinic, says Doldi. “The school is attended by around 6,500 students – and our guests on study trips. That is beneficial for both sides.” Further information:

Sudan: The 14-day expedition study trip “Sudan – in the realm of the black pharaohs” costs at Studiosus ( from 4295 euros per person. Colombia: The 14-day adventure tour “Undiscovered El Dorado” can be booked at Gebeco ( from EUR 2895 per person. North Korea: 17-day study trip “North and South Korea – the comprehensive trip to Korea”, bookable at Studisosus ( from 4590 euros per person. Moldova: Ikarus Tours ( has an eight-day trip “Unknown Moldova” from 1735 euros per person in its program. Iraq: The US tour operator Distant Horizons ( is offering a twelve-day trip under the title “The changing faces of Iraqui Kurdistan” for 5890 US dollars, the equivalent of around 4200 euros. The French cultural tour operator Terre Entière ( also has Northern Iraq in its program. Afghanistan: Great Game Travel Company ( and Afghan Logistics and Tours ( offer various tours through Afghanistan.

Japan: The “Hoshi Ryokan” is the oldest hotel in the world (Photo: Hoshi Ryokan) Who doesn’t like to tell how great the view from the highest hotel was or how spacious the accommodation in the largest hotel We introduce you to another and largely unknown superlative: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the “Hoshi Ryokan” in Japan is the oldest hotel in the world and has been hosting holidaymakers from all over the world for around 1300 years. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sleep on sagging mattresses. Take a look at the hotel in our photo series.

Photo series cherry blossom in Japan

Hotel “Hoshi Ryokan”: A fantastic story

The family-run hotel is located in Awazu, in the north of Japan’s largest island, Honshu. The “Hoshi Ryokan”, which means something like “Travel Guest House”, has been in the family for 46 generations. It was founded in 717 AD. The nearby hot water springs are said to have healing powers and are still used today for recreation. The story of the hotel tells of a monk who, in a dream, was asked by a deity to look for the thermal spring in the city of Awazu. This monk supposedly built the first tourist inn to bring people closer to the healing power of the thermal water at the foot of Mount Haku. Thanks to donations from people who were healed by the spring, the inn could be expanded. An outdoor and indoor pool provide the necessary relaxation today. In the hotel’s own thermal baths containing Glauber’s salt, positive results are achieved, among other things, in rheumatic diseases and digestive disorders.

Japanese traditional cuisine

The four buildings of the hotel, which has a total of 100 rooms, were named after the seasons: Shinshun no Yakata (early spring building), Haru no Yakata (spring building), Natsu no Yakata (summer building), and Aki no Yakata (autumn building). The garden was recently redesigned by designer Toemon Sano, who is also responsible for the Japanese gardens in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. In the “Hoshi Ryokan”, however, not only the sense of sight is addressed, culinary delights are not neglected either: the Kaga region is known for its fine cuisine. In the “Hoshi Ryokan” the dishes are served in a purist form. Excessive decoration and foreign ingredients are avoided.

Further information 

Hotel “Hoshi Ryokan”: Internet: (English) Destination: Japan is an island nation with 4 main and 3500 smaller islands. Tokyo and Kyoto are on the largest island of Honshu. Getting there: The Japanese airlines All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) as well as Lufthansa fly daily from Frankfurt to Tokyo. The flight time is around eleven hours. There are also regular flights to Osaka and Nagoya and from Munich to Tokyo. In addition, there are flight connections where you change trains in other European cities, for example in Paris with Air France and in London with British Airways. Formalities: Tourists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland do not need a visa to travel to Japan as long as they stay a maximum of three months. Upon entry, the passport valid until departure must be presented and the prints of both index fingers digitally scanned. A small camera on the fingerprint reader also takes a passport photo. No vaccinations are required. Climate and travel time: Japan is suitable for travel all year round – with the exception of the rainy season from mid-June to mid-July. For the cherry blossom, trips from March to the end of April are ideal. Then it is mostly spring-like mild with temperatures averaging 15 degrees. Language: Japanese. With English you can at least make yourself understood in the big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Currency: For one euro, vacationers get around 115 Japanese yen. Time difference: German time minus eight hours, during summer time it is seven hours time difference. Information: Japanese tourist office JNTO, Kaiserstraße 11, 60311 Frankfurt, Tel .: 069/203 53, E -Mail:, Internet:

Japan: The Hirakubozaki lighthouse on Okinawa (Photo: dpa) Six million Japanese cannot be wrong. So many of them go on vacation to Okinawa and the neighboring island of Miyako in the far south of their country year after year. In Germany, however, the subtropical islands in the Pacific are hardly known, although they have some advantages to offer: an annual average temperature of 23 degrees, palm-fringed sandy beaches, an evergreen and varied landscape and good diving spots. On top of that, there is a lot here that is reminiscent of Germany: a medieval castle that looks like the Marksburg from the Rhine Valley, but stands directly on the Pacific – and even Gerhard-Schröder-Straße. Convince yourself of the beauty of the islands in our photo series.


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In Okinawa, the Japanese take life easy

In Japan, Okinawa is not only considered a dream island because of the climate – it is also the relaxed manner of the locals that inspires the Japanese. The manners are more relaxed than in the rest of the country, people laugh a lot. Nobody has to be punctual to the minute, and there is no strict dress code like in Tokyo or Osaka: Instead of suits and ties, short-sleeved and colorful shirts are worn – just like in Hawaii.

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Paradise with a war history

Okinawa is an island of contrasts that can be roughly divided into three regions: first, the densely populated south with the capital Naha, second, the center, which is dominated by US military bases, and third, the mountainous, green north, a huge botanical garden. The south is steeped in history: the last great land battle of World War II raged here from April to June 1945, and also the first and most violent on Japanese soil. In bitter fighting, the Americans forced the Japanese defenders to surrender. More than 200,000 people died, including almost 100,000 civilians, a good sixth of the island’s population. The underground headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Navy on Okinawa is a museum and can be visited: You can see a 450 meter long tunnel system with original furniture, old propaganda (“Americans are not humans”) and shrapnel in the concrete.

A piece of the west in Japan

After the war, the strategically important island remained occupied by the United States. They still live in the military bases in central Okinawa to this day. It is owed to the US soldiers that all street signs on Okinawa are also written in English, which in turn benefits foreign tourists. Many places near the US bases, such as Kadena and Mihama, have long since looked like American cities – with US supermarkets and fast-food chains, with graffiti that is completely untypical for Japan, and with bars called Tennessee “or” Chicago “. Even the sushi restaurants offer “hamburger sushi” – rice balls with meatballs and ketchup that are wrapped in seaweed paper and dipped in soy sauce. For Japanese vacationers, this piece of the West in the Far East is so exciting that it has meanwhile become a local tourist attraction.

Tea ceremony in the royal castle

The holiday stronghold is Naha, where no stone was left unturned in 1945, which explains the simple post-war architecture, which is surprisingly similar to that in war-torn German cities. Naha is still exciting, especially along the Kokusai-Dori shopping and restaurant street, from which the covered market branches off. All sorts of souvenirs are sold here, but also local specialties such as sake and chili sauce, cane sugar candies and high-proof rice schnapps called awamori. The most beautiful and historically most important building complex in Naha has been rebuilt true to the original: Shuri-jo, the royal castle from the 13th century. The ensemble of wooden palaces and stone defensive walls, reopened in 1992, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Museum staff are dressed in period robes and visitors can attend a tea ceremony.

The most beautiful beaches are in northern Okinawa

A contrast to the densely populated south is offered by the unspoilt north, which can be easily reached via well-developed expressways. Here you will find the most beautiful beaches on the island along the west coast, from “Moon Beach” to “Inbu Beach” to Okuma with its snow-white sand, lined with palm trees and posh resorts. The area is ideal for snorkelers, because the biodiversity underwater is enormous even near the beach.

Gerhard-Schröder-Strasse on Miyako

The G8 summit took place in Okinawa in 2000, and Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was one of the participating statesmen. After the official part, he was drawn to the neighboring island of Miyako – since his visit on July 21, 2000, one of the island’s main streets is officially called Gerhard-Schröder-Straße. The Chancellor’s visit had historical reasons that go back to July 1873. At that time the German ship “R. J. Robertson” got into a typhoon off Miyako and capsized. Despite the storm, the locals rescued the crew and took them in for 37 days until the Germans could return home.

German-Japanese friendship

The news of the heroic Japanese made the rounds in Germany at the time, and Kaiser Wilhelm I was so impressed that he donated a memorial. It still stands in Miyako’s capital, Hirara, and proclaims in Chinese and German: “In grateful remembrance of this glorious behavior, we have ordered Wilhelm by the grace of God, German Emperor, King of Prussia, to erect this monument as a lasting memory.”

Goose pair “Hansel Gretel “nests in front of the replica of the Marksburg

The enthusiasm of the Germans for Miyako cooled down over the decades, only Schröder brought the island back to mind a little. On the other hand, the residents of Miyako developed an enormous interest in Germany in the opposite direction: memorial stones were also placed, partnerships were established with German communities and finally the “German Cultural Village Ueno” was opened in 1992 where the German sailors went ashore in 1873. It consists of a palace in the Wilhelminian style, half-timbered houses, a German restaurant, a souvenir shop and the original replica of the Marksburg am Rhein. In front of the imposing building there is a pair of geese that have been christened “Hansel and Gretel”. German music trickles out of the sound system from morning to evening. There is also a large exhibition in the castle about Germany, German history – and clichés: the obligatory beer mugs are just as rare as Black Forest clocks and sausages.

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