Riga - what a gem!

It was one of these *spur of the moment* ideas - and it turned out to be a good one - when a friend of mine decided "Let's go to Riga together!" We booked a rather inexpensive flight with WizzAir and found a hotel near the city center and off we were. At this point I usually give you the hotel information, but I'm afraid I cannot recommend the place we stayed at...

But the City was absolutely wonderful! Riga is a perfect mix of former-Easter-Block charme and western openess and commerce (oh the shopping!) and we made quite a few culinary discoveries on our way through the old cobbled streets of the city center :)

My first recommendation is a tiny little chocolate shop called Black Magic with a stunning interior that will take you back centuries and make you feel like you're on your way to becoming an apothecary - or a witch, depending on your preferences...

Needless to say I immediately felt at home. But the actual *magic* of this wonderful little place is the typical balsam they sell - yes it's alcohol and no I haven't tasted it, but it's Riga Black Balsam since 17hundred something, so I guess it's a big deal - AND: the chocolate! Oh, the chocolate... I recommend the pistacio praline! And the one with caramel! Or try the one filled with mac the champagne! Or strawberries!!! Oh yes, the chocolate..

After a few more rounds around town, we took the elevator up one of the church squires and enjoyed a true, 306° lookout over town - wonderful! We also met some fun Swiss people on the tower, who were in no way affiliated with the Swiss people we partied with at the Radisson later that night, but it seems that Riga is the place to be for Swiss people right now. Maybe it's the chocolate...

It really is a quaint little town... The Radisson blu has a nice and not overly expensive Skyline Bar on the top floor that offers another amazing view over town, especially at night. unfortunately,  we had to pay an Entrance fee, but it was definitely worth it, since the drinks were less expensive than we had anticipated and the (Swiss) company had us dancing all night long :) 

Since we didn't particulary enjoy our hotel's breakfast offer, we chose to have breakfast at one of the many cafés around town instead and stumbled into the Index Cafe, another place which quickly became a favorite. Their coffee is great and their oatmeal and porrige is the perfect way to start the day! Plus they are one a few feet away from the Riga Version of the Statue of Liberty and the city center.

But our favorite place in all of Riga is - and always will be - the wonderful restaurant and cocktail bar Cheers! not to confuse with the Boston version of course. The sheer fact that Cheers has the nicest waiters and the best brownie desserts ever is enough to love this place. Combine that with good musik and yummy cocktails and you have a place to be at night :) 

I mean really, they even put fairy dust on the brownie!

So, yes, Riga, a must-see in Europe and so wonderful we might go back next year just to see it all again! Of course there's not just food and drinks in the city; it also has a wonderful Art Nouveau quarter and many historic monuments and buildings as well as a wonderful culture and art scene, as far as we could tell - we just happen to be two foodies in love with the wonderful cafés and chocolate shops in town :) 

See you soon Latvia!


Leipzig - Eastern Germany Charme

I've been trying to find the pictures I took in this beautiful city, but to no avail, so here's a short but sweet post about the gem in Eastern Germany withouth the pretty pictures - for now :)

As some of you might know, Leipzig was part of the GDR in Eastern Germany after WW II and was almost completely destroyed during the War. Luckily, many of the historical buildings in the city center have ben re-erected using the original plans, so that you can still find the historical St.Thomas Church (dating back to the 12th century) where Martin Luther preached the implementation of the reformation, or the equally fascinating Nikolai Church (also dating back to the 12th century), where people from the former GDR and State security Police members united in the fall of 1989. The two old churches frame the old city center, where you can also find a beautiful market place and a few other historical landmarks, such as the Johann Sebastian Bach Museum and Memorial.

But Bach is not the only famous historical inhabitant of the city; another famous student who resided in Leipzig for a few years is Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who was sent to the city to study law. The restaurant Auerbachs Keller was one of Goethe's favorite adresses in the city center, and it is said to be the only real location in Goethe's masterpiece Faust.

For those of you who aren't to keen on exploring historical sites, don't worry, Leipzig can offer you a lot more! The city south is where most students hang out in their free time, and there's a great hostel right there in the middle of it all: Hostel Unschlagbar is my personal recommendation for a weekend trip to the city. Even the city center is easily accessible on foot! Plus there's a bagel shop on the ground floor of the same building ;) If you feel like sampling local cuisine and are on a low budget, don't worry; Leipzig is a low-budget paradise! I recommend the restaurant/bar Volkshaus (not far from the hostel) for a nice evening meal. They offer local cuisine as well as new interpretations of old German classics and their prices are very student-friendly :)

For more information on this beautiful city check out the official site for Leipzig tourism. Enjoy!


Hamburg - the city of all cities :)

Before I begin my advertisement of Germany’s second largest city, let me just briefly state this: Hamburg is the most beautiful city in the world. There, I said it. So, yey, I'm biased. But, seriously, just look at it!

Welcome to Hamburg!

Now, if you ask someone from Hamburg why it is the most beautiful city (and most people will agree that it is), you might not get a straight answer. Some might say because it is so liberal and refer to the red light district and the “Schanze” where everything seems possible. Some say it’s the beauty of the landscape, the rivers (Hamburg has three rivers with two of them flowing towards the Elbe) or the mindset of the people. But if you truly want to understand the love for the city, you have to spend most of your time in its Harbor Area. Hamburg was founded on the basis of sea trade, the harbor district and the historical “Speicherstadt” are the most important parts of Hamburg’s self-understanding as an international, independent and successful city.

Harbor Love

The wind, the smell of oil, fish and the faint taste of salt in the air – these are all symbols for freedom and for a citywide ideology that always faced towards the rest of the world. The landing bridges were once called “the gateway to the world” and this sense of freedom, of escape and of innumerable opportunities still reverberates in Hamburg’s harbor district.

the busy harbor and the relaxing Elbe Beach

But there is also a certain feeling of decadence in the streets of the city. The prestigious city hall is fitted with gold and copper, the “Alsterarkarden” are the entryway to one of the most-exclusive shopping streets in the world and the houses along the “Außenalster” harbor some of the richest people in Germany. If you feel like getting on a boat, why not take a trip around the Alster and go "Alsterschippern"? :)

Enjoy the sunset in one of the red and white Alster boats

It is this decadence compared with the Nordic down-to-earth no-nonsense attitude that makes Hamburg so special. The city was founded by craftsmen and consequently, craftsmanship is still highly valued. Royalty never played a particular role in the city’s history and even the university is one of the youngest universities in Germany.

Alster Panorama

My personal insider tip for a nice, long afternoon walk in Hamburg is the “Elbe Wanderweg”. Especially between Övelgönne and Blankenese, this trail passes old captains houses and the better part of the Elbe beach on its way along the riverbank. The transport with the ferry boats is included in every day or three-day ticket for public transports and exploring the waterways of Hamburg is always a highlight. 

Enjoy old Captain's houses along the Elbwanderweg

The city also offers many cultural experiences, of course. Between the numerous museums and the three musicals in town are also numerous smaller theaters and productions, especially along the “Red mile”, as we usually call the “Reeperbahn”. Long ago, this red light district offered entertainment for lonely sailors, but nowadays the bright lights and intriguing rumors are mostly a tourist attraction. If it rains, (and it does so much less than some people might think) numerous indoor shopping malls can be used to fend off boredom. 

...but when it rains, it pours...

One of my favorite places for breakfast is “Café Paris” right in the city center, which reminds its visitors of the simple elegance of Parisienne cafés in the 1920s. At around 7 – 12 € per breakfast variation, it is not necessarily the cheapest place to eat but well within reason for the city center. Right next to it is the "Rathausplatz" with the beautiful City Hall - my favorite building in all of Hamburg.

always my first stop: the beautiful City Hall

For a more traditional eating experience, just grab a “Fischbrötchen” at one of the numerous little booths in the harbor or visit the “Krameramtsstuben”, the oldest still standing building in Hamburg right next to St. Michaelis church to try out the local cuisine. Another crowd favorite are the numerous different ethnological restaurants in the so-called “Portuguese quarter” between the church and the harbor, where Italian, Brazilian and Spanish restaurants offer something for every taste, although my favorite Italian Restaurant is Ponti Restaurant right at the "Gänsemarkt". If you're in the mood for Steak, make sure to check out Block House - it's a chain and they also have other locations in Germany, but it was founded in Hamburg. My favorite location is the one right next to the train Station in Othmarschen - don't ask me why, I just like the layout :)

Welcome to my favorite city!


Beautiful Germany - Cologne

Ah, Cologne, such a fun little city :) If you're in the mood for some serious partying, Cologne is the right place for you. Whether you prefer the flashy Clubs along the "Ringe" or rather enjoy the small bars along the Rhine - you can easily dance the night away in Cologne! That's probably also why the city's always full of people celebrating their bachelor's and bachelorette-party any given Saturday (or Friday, for that matter... )

Cologne has a very rich, far-reaching history

But Cologne offers much more than its clubs and bars. The most iconic landmark is probably the old roman church in the city center: the "Kölner Dom". Built in 1248, the cathedral was not only the official church of the Cologne archbishop, but also became one of the most important pilgrimage churches throughout Europe. Nowadays, the two towers are iconic for Cologne's landscape, and the cathedral is a "must-see" on every tourist's itinery. There's also a beautiful christmas market around the Cathedral starting in late November every year! And Cologne main station is literally right next to the Cathedral - so make it your next stop!

I tried to keep my hand steady, I really did! ... 

I personally also enjoy the city center and its main shopping streets "Hohe Straße" and "Schildergasse". If you're more interested in Old Cologne and some of those bars I was talking about, visit "Heumarkt" and maybe check out the "Gaffel-Haus" - one of the many restaurants where you can sample the original Cologne Beer "Kölsch". If you're looking for a cheap but cozy place to stay (or just to hang out and have a beer), make sure you visit the "Wohngemeinschaft", a quirky little hostel and bar that evokes the feeling of sitting in a friend's living room rather than a public drinking hole ;) Another good place to meet locals and check out the bar scene is around "Zülpicher Platz". Last time we were there, we stumbled into what appeared to be a Russian bar - but it was actually really cozy and since they offer traditional Russian drinks, we all had our share of Vodka... I guess the name should have been our first clue: "Restaurant Roter Platz" ... hmm...

Vodka anyone?

If you walk further down along the river, you'll eventually find the Chocolate Museum. Yeah, that's right, Chocolate museum! And yes, they have a chocolate fountain and give out cookies you can dip into it... *heaven* Cologne also has an international fair and exhibition center and a huge arena, the Lanxess Arena, that frequently hosts international sports events or concerts. They also have a musical dome, just on the other side of the river from the Cathedral, and it used to host "We will Rock you", but the current program has "Dirty Dancing" listed for this summer. But be aware: musicals are translated into German in Germany! :)

Enjoy the mix of history and bar-hopping Cologne has to offer!


Beautiful Germany - Heidelberg

Since I won't be traveling for a while now, I thought why not start a new mini-series and introduce the most beautiful cities in Germany to all my international readers? I will also start including actual links to some of the things I'm pointing out, so that you can easily find your way around those cities. Enjoy!

First stop: Heidelberg!

The series starts in the town where I was born: Heidelberg. A beautiful little city in southern Germany, right on the river Neckar and with a long history of academic exellence. Heidelberg University was founded it 1386 and is still one of the leading Universities in Germany, especially in life science and medicine. Heidelberg is also home to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) as well as the European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL) and several Max-Planck Research Institutes. It really is on the forefront of scientific research in Germany, and the university is the only German university that makes it into the top 50 World University Ranking.

But that's not the only interesting fact about this beautiful city. In 1945, the city is taken over by the US military and is subsequently declared as US and NATO headquarters. Legend has it that an American general fell in love with the city and decided to spare it and settle down in it instead, which explains why the beautiful city center is still intact even today (although it has also undergone renovations of course). For years, Heidelberg was surrounded by US baracks, but these are being closed this year as the troops move to Wiesbaden instead. Still, Heidelberg has a strong connection to its transatlantic allie and it's no surprise to find many American tourists flogging the city in the summer.

If you ever find yourself in Heidelberg, make sure to check out the town's landmark, the Heidelberg Castle. It is perhaps the most iconic landmark of this little romantic city and best viewed from the "Philosophenweg" , a small trail leading up the mountain on the opposite side of the river.

The castle outlined in the early morning fog

You can also enjoy a stroll through the city center, along the main street "Hauptstraße", and taste one of Heidelberg's specialties, like "Studentenküsse" (Student's kisses, a chocolaty treat wrapped in an iconic little box). My personal favorite among Heidelberg's many restaurants is "Villa Lounge", a young, modern restaurant with comfortable leather chairs and affordable food. The best coffee in town is brewed by Moro Caffée & Thé, a small, hole-in-the-wall place along the Hauptstraße that offers coffee in all its variations as well as pastries and other delicacies. Another iconic landmark is the "Hotel zum Ritter", a hotel that is located in a beautiful renaissance building right at the old marketplace and its impressive church. Just opposite the marketplace, in the sidestreet "Steingasse" you can find one of many breweries in Heidelberg: "Vetter's Alt Heidelberger Brauerei" where you can sit next to huge copper kettels and taste freshly-tapped beer. If you want to try out other breweries in the region, check out the map for the Kurpfälzer Bierstraße. It includes locations of all the breweries in the region.

Last but not least, continue down "Steingasse" and enjoy the view from the old Neckar-bridge up towards the castle. Every tourist should take a picture there!

Enjoy my hometown!
P.s.: If you want to have a *real German experience* (at least a very classical one) check out this video from a recent version of the old song Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren enjoy ;)


Amazing Arizona - Part II

After two relaxing days in Durango, I loaded up on brezels, water and bananas and drove back to Arizona. Flagstaff to be more precise. The original plan was to stay there for two nights and check out the Grand Canyon the next day, but I had a feeling my still somewhat fragile health status would prevent me from doing that. But at least I got to enjoy some beautiful scenery on my way down there :)

Monument Valley! True story! *yay* 

I have to admit, I think I need to come back and drive around in Northern Arizona for a week or so. There are so many things I want to see! Like Monument Valley. I got the iconic shot, but then I turned around and headed back towards Flagstaff, because it was getting late and the day was long and I couldn't affort taking the long way around. So I'm just going to have to go back there :)

Somewhere close to antelope canyon 

The landscape up there is just absolutely amazing. Somewhere between weird moon-like craters and rock formations, red earth and endless desert. And it's just so freakin' beautiful everywhere! On that drive alone I think I could have taken hundrets of pictures...

The Destination of my Road Trip was Flagstaff, a town full of students and active adventurers it seems, with an adorable little town center and miles and miles of trails all around - none of which I was able to explore, unfortunately. I stayed at the Grand Canyon hostel. It's right in the middle of town, easily accessible, they have amble parking spaces and the hostel is cozy, clean and has great staff. I was happy :)

 Flagstaff really is a bit of an oddity, because its in Arizona, but there's a mountain in the background and people go skiing or snowboarding. Then they hop in their cars and drive south for an hour or two and they are in the desert! I don't know, somehow that still amazes me... It's also on the world-famous Route 66 - it actually goes straight through town.

While in Flagstaff, I made the incredibly stupid mistake of getting out of my car, opening my trunk, putting my keys down (I swear I've never done this before in my entire life!) and then closing the trunk without remembering to pick up my keys again. Remember that truck stop story? Me freaking out about having locked myself out of my stupid *fancy* new car? Yeah, same story... This time, I called the hotline (ok, the guy from the hostel called for me, because I was having a nervous breakdown) and they had to send over a locksmith to break open the trunk for me. The locksmith turned out to be navajo and we got to talking and, sure enough, he has distant German roots on one side of his family! What are the odds?! It was absolutely fascinating to talk to him about Navajo country, the traditions of his tribe, the hype tourist shops have with all the Navajo symbols all over Arizona (and what they actually mean!) and it was certainly fascinating to find out that, not only was his family from Germany; they are actually from Heidelberg, of all places! I've said it before and I'll say it again: the world is a village.... 



After my short stay in New Mexico (and a rather unpleasant intervention at the E.R.), I got back on the road and drove north to cross over to Colorado. I've found a couchsurfer in Durango who was going to take me in for two nights and since I've never been to Colorado before, I was rather excited about the detour.

I got a rental and that car had some interesting features. For example, when I stopped at a rest stop and decided I needed something from the trunk, the car automatically locked the doors and I had a mild panic attack while I was trying to figure out how to get back in... The Sheriff (who just happened to stop at the same rest stop) couldn't help me, and since my phone and my wallet were still on the passenger seat, neither could the rental company. Luckily, some workers from the rest stop said "that happens all the time" and managed to open my car door for me (and yes, they jimmied it...). All they wanted in return was a hug, which was completely fine by me.

please excuse my camera, destroying the picturesque sky....
When I finally made it to Colorado, I was thrown smack in the middle of a dinner party at my host's house. Four dogs were running around the living room and seven complete strangers invited me to try their homemade pie and play charades with them. I was tired and exhausted from the drive and my otherwise spent night before, but I couldn't say no to this likeable bunch of people, so I joined them and we played and laughed till way after mightnight. Did I mention I love couchsurfing?

Durango is close to the four corners (and yes, I wanted to go there, but everybody said it wasn't worth visiting, so I didn't take the detour) and to Mesa Verde National Park. The Park is probably more interesting when the weather is a bit warmer, but the entire region was rather beautiful. Downtown Durango is such a cute little town, I really wish I'd had more time (and more energy) to explore it!

this picture really doesn't do it justice
I was reminded of an old TV show, Everwood, which was also set in a small Colorado town. The scenery was amazing, and I can only imagine how enchanted this must look in winter.

I already like Colorado :)

Since I couldn't really walk around much, I decided to drive around instead, do some Inter-State-Hopping and visit Mesa Verde, Farmington and Aztec, where they have a small excavation site of Aztec ruins. I definitely want to come back to Colorady though, maybe finally make my dream come true and work on a ranch somwhere around here for the summer - it's definitely worth a visit!

I like the Rockies :)


New Mexico

Since I can't stand still for too long, I couldn't stay in only one state for my entire trip. Plus there was the actual reason for my trip - the conference in Albuquerque. So after one week of Arizona heat, my Canadian family offered me a ride to Albuquerque and we managed to squeeze in one more day together where we explored Santa Fe, before I had to drive back to the city and my family made their way north.

But before we could cross the state line, we had to drive through the desert. Remember the term no-man's-land? Yeah, I have a visual now...

The beautiful desert

For at least four hours straight, all we saw was highway, desert country and a couple of lonely houses or rest stops sprinkled along the road. For a girl from a small town in southern Germany, this roadtrip alone was quite an experience :)

Santa Fe is absolutely precious! It's on the *1,000 Places to see before you die* List and I have to admit, I know why :) The city center is full of traditional adobe buildings and galeries - we thoroughly enjoyed our short stay there! We even checked out the churches (and I was impressed, although I'm not big on churches...) If you're ever in New Mexico, make sure to visit this little gem!

In the heart of Santa Fe
For reasons unknown to me, I actually left my camera in the camper, so this is the only picture I took in Santa Fe -.- Shame on me! I took the Roadrunner down to Albuquerque *yay railroads* so my family could head north. It's really inexpensive and probably the fastest way to travel between the two cities. They even recommended it for a day trip to Santa Fe at the conference in ABQ. For all of you who are hoping to get some *Breaking Bad* related ABQ pictures - sorry, still haven't started watching that show :) I just went straight to the hotel and registered for my conference, got my name badge and got ready for the banquet. The hotel was nice enough to offer tortillas in our national colors ;)

A little bit of home?

I have to admit, I didn't really explore the city... We did manage to squeeze in dinner at one of the many diners along Route 66, and I have to admit I rather liked the place. Sports on TV, books along the wall and a pool table :) What more do I need? Oh yeah, right, the ribs were pretty good too ;)

Library Bar and Grill :) The name says it all!

The one thing that I will forever remember was my short but sweet stay at the E.R. Yep, that's short for emergence room -.- Let's just say it wasn't exactly the kind of thing I envisioned myself doing on my last night in ABQ... But, oh well, just another experience I can check off my list now. And I have to admit, the E.R. personell was surprisingly nice :)


Enchanted Sedona

While staying in Phoenix, my Canadian Family and me went to Sedona for a day to check out the Red Rock formations and take tons of pictures (ok, and to check out every single jewelry story down main street...) Sedona is absolutely breathtaking!

Panoramashot - check! 
I could probably upload about a hundret pictures here, just to show you all the amazing rock formations we found around the little town. Apparently, it's also know for its Energy field, or something other supernatural, so there are all these psychics and tarot people and funky little shops in town called "the vortex" or "crystals" or whatnot... plus, Sedona had a great art scene, so if you're interested in any of that, make sure you check it out if you're ever in Arizona! As I said, we preferred jewelry stores and souvenir shops :)

Red Rock Surfing
My family has visited this little town many times before, so they took me to some of the best lookouts and altough it was a little overcast that day, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. They also took me to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is a very old church built into the side of the rock, like it belongs there (that's where the panorama shot was taken. Sorry for the accidental headshot of the tourist there...) I think I could have taken a couple of hundret more photographs that day...

Many of these rock formations have names, but unfortunately, I don't know any of them. Also, the weird spots on my camera are back, apparently...

On our way out of town, we found a trail head and stopped to check it out and capture the evening sun lighting up the rocks. Enjoy the pictures ;)

Arizona Sunset

We thought it was a rather adorable name...

Prickly Love 

My family away from home *love you*


Amazing Arizona - Part 1

Arizona - the desert state, the high oven of the United States and, of course, the Grand Canyon State... I flew over it once, but I never actually had it on my list of places I have to visit. It's just too hot for me... but then I found this conference in New Mexico and it collided with my *Canadian family's* annual trip to AZ, so I thought "why not?" and booked a flight to Phoenix. Boy was I in for a treat! I mean, seriously people, if this isn't the Wild West I don't know what is...

Welcome to the Wild West!

The temperatures were rather cozy in the upper 20s (Celcius that is - about 85°F), which is kinda high for February, but it's a dry heat, so it wasn't as unbearably hot as I had imagined. Still, I don't think I could visit this state during the summer months... We stayed in the camper at a ranch that belongs to one of my family's friends down in Arizona, a Canadian who fled the norther cold one day and settled in the desert instead. This is what caught my eye when I first arrived:

Giant Cactus anyone?!?

And yes, of course there were horses everywhere :) The main part of our trip to Phoenix was spending time at the annual Arabian Horse show in Scottsdale, where we saw many beautiful horses and I learnd about the different disciplines and rules for shows like side saddle or hunter seat. Hopefully, Randy will start here next year, and who knows, maybe I'll be back too :)

All the pretty horses...
We also checked out some of the Frontier towns in and around Phoenix. They were heaven for Roz and me; I think we went into every single store and bought tons of gifts and souvenirs for everybody :) I realize that it's all made up for the tourists, but I just completely fell in love with this one town just north of Phoenix: Cave Creek! It's just so adorable!!!

Shopping mall - Cave Creek style

Plus they have an amazing Mexican restaurant there with a little pond in the outdoor seating area and the best Mexican Food I ever had! So, if you're ever in Phoenix, check out Cave Creek and try to get a table at El Encanto!

The gang and our shopping bags in front of El Encanto :)

Thanks for an amazing time in Phoenix guys! I will always remember my first adventure into the Wild West!


Sunshine Blogger Awards

So, apparently I've been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by my friends over at  Neverland Fanfiction (thanks Monique!). This means two things: one, I finally have to admit that I'm writing fanfiction ;) and two: I have to answer a few questions and tell you about the award. The award is a way for bloggers to network and connect their blogs with other blogs they participate in or follow. This is supposed to spread the word about their blogs.

To accept the Sunshine Award, I have to:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger with a link to the website - see intro
  2. Share 11 random facts about myself 
  3. Answer 11 questions that were posed by the blogger who nominated me
  4. List other bloggers I believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! 
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers I nominate to answer.
Puh, ok, here we go...

11 random facts about myself:

1. I prefer English, even though technically, I'm German
2. I am NOT a morning person - no matter what time zone I'm in
3. Country music is one of my biggest weaknesses
4. I spend too much time surfing the internet - mostly watching TV shows
5. As you all know now, I write fanfiction
6. Actually, I write all kinds of things. Lately most of them seem to be long romance novels though
7. I travel to find myself
8. I'm still looking though
9. If home is where the heart is, that would explain why mine feels broken most of the time
10. Sometimes I tend to get over-philosophical...
11. ...which is probably why I will stop now and eat another piece of chocolate cake instead :)

11 Questions from Monique: 

1. How did you come across the blog that nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Awards?
I had an acute *boyband-pop* relapse and suddenly had to google all my old favorites - including Westlife, which is how I stumbled over the fanfic blog

2. For how long have you been blogging?
About a year and a half - started when I flew to Boston in 2012

3. Do you integrate your blogging into your social media accounts?
I sometimes put a link up on facebook, so yeah

4. What inspires you to write?
Everything. Songs, scenes from my favorite movies or TV shows, crazy ideas I have while traveling, things I see while traveling, or simply some weird or sweet interactions between friends

5. What's your favorite food?
Ha! Everything! No... well, yeah, actually... but probably Italian....

6. How much time do you spend on a computer on a daily base? 
Too much ;)

7. What's your favorite animal?

8. Where would you like to travel?
I'd love to go to Bali, or explore Scottland on horseback... or maybe Iceland! And South America of course - and yes I mean all of it! ;)

9. Skirt or trousers?

10. Twitter or Facebook
Don't have twitter, so...

11. What do you do to get people to read your blog?
Basically just post it on facebook and sometimes I tell other travelers about it in case they want to check it out.

Ok, now for the other bloggers, I nominate Zimtstreusel which is pretty much the only blog I'm following right now... Full of yummy reciepes and matching pictures :)

Here are my questions for you:
1. Where or how did you learn to bake and cook?
2. Where do you take your inspiration from?
3. What was your biggest cooking faux-pas?
4. Do you have a favorite recipe?
5. Did you ever think about doing this professionally?
6. How do you get people to read your blog?
7. Are you getting any feedback?
8. Where would you like to go? (And maybe visit a cooking class?)
9. What is your biggest weakness? 
10. How do you keep yourself motivated to blog? Do you give yourself a schedule?
11. When did you start with photography? 

Ok, I think this is it :) Happy travels everyone, and go check out my friend's blogs!
And don't judge the fanfiction.... ;)


Austrian charme and heavenly food - Vienna!

In November 2013, I went to my very first academic conference and it happened to be in Vienna. This beautiful, ancient city is the capital of our southern neighbour Austria and it is definitely worth a visit! I have to admit, I'll be cheating on this blog entry, because half of the pictures are actually from a previous trip to Vienna. November is simply not the best time to take beautiful travel pics ;)

Whenever you want to travel within Europe, it might be useful to check out Lufthansa flights. Major cities can be reached within only an hour or maybe two, and most fares within Europe are around 100 Euros for the round trip, which is pretty affordable. For my flight to Vienna, I booked with Lufthansa, but ended up actually flying with Austrian Airlines. They are so adorable! On our way to the runway, they actually played the Waltz in the entire aircraft! I though it was great, the perfect way to start off the weekend in the former Habsburg Empire. (The people next to me actually complained about the music - how can you complain about Wiener Walzer when you're on your way to Vienna?!)

The airport is connected to the city with an array of public transports ranging from regional trains to busses, so it's really easy to make your way into the city. What most people might underestimate is that Vienna is a pretty big city, so make sure you find a central hotel or hostel. I quickly realized that the main reason my hotel was so cheap was probably the fact that it was somewhere in the outskirts of town... Luckily, the public transport system is really good in Vienna, and the commute wasn't too much of a hassel (even though it took 40 minutes...).

But now the important part: Vienna! Oh how I love this little city! It is full of monuments and statues and old buildings full of history and character! And the food! Oh the food! Austria is one of my happy places as a foodie, because they really know how to make a foodie happy :) I went to the city center and did some last minute outfit shopping for the conference, and the very friendly shop assistant directed me to a small, hole-in-the-wall place not far from the "Stephansdom" (probably the most-famous cathedral in Vienna) called "Palatschinkenpfannerl" This will probably sound very strange to most of you, but the translation is actually pretty easy.  "Palatschinken" are Austrian pancakes and "pfannerl" means *Pan*, so basically the place is called *Pancake Pan* - very original ;) They offer sweet and savory pancakes and a few other Austrian specialties and the prices are relatively reasonable for the city center. I highly recommend this place!

The Stephansdom contrasted with a modern building in the city center
My personal favorite in Vienna is of course the "Wiener Hofreitschule" (the Spanish Riding School) where they raise and train beautiful white Lippizaner horses. They offer shows and you can watch their Sunday morning practise, but it's pretty expensive, so I've only really seen the outside so far :/

The Spanish Riding School
Statues like this one are sprinkled all over the city, along with beautiful old houses and fountains. The city also has two castles that are open for visitors. I highly recommend a stroll through the gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn on a sunny afternoon! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit the gardens this year, but therefor I was able to visit the beautiful christmas market (one of the largest in Europe) and enjoy the local delicacies offered at all those small stands around me :) Like I said, foodie heaven!

Before I drove back to the airport and left this beautiful city again, I decided to indulge in one more local delicacy and invest the rest of my money in "Kaiserschmarrn" at the Café Landtmann. The coffe house has a long standing tradition in Vienna and is one of the few places where you can completely sink in to the forgotten bourgeoise charme of Old Europe. It is located close to the infamous "Burgtheater" and it is usually difficult to find a seat there on a Sunday afternoon, but I was lucky and got to enjoy my beloved "Kaiserschmarrn" in the pompous dining room :)

Worth every penny!
Kaiserschmarrn is a dessert made of pancake batter with raisins. The pancake is torn into pieces while still in the pan, then put on a plate and covered with powdery sugar. You can *dip* the pieces in applesauce or plum sauce or simply eat it with whipped cream - delicious!