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!


New York, New York!

As some of you might recall, I never actually made it to NYC while I was in Boston. I thought I should probably change that at some point, and since I happened to win tickets for the Global Citizen Festival in NYC's Central Park, I decided to take the bus to the Big Apple! Better later than never ;)

The infamous skyline of New York City
The good thing about going to New York was I have friends there. Since I had two tickets for the Global Citizen Festival, I asked my good friend Joseph to join me. Unfortunately, he had to cancel last minute because he had to work :( but he sent me a friend of his with the words "He's cool, you'll like him" and luckily he was right :) I practically ran from the bus stop to the apartment I was staying at (first time trying out airbnb and everything worked out pretty well), then back to the city to meet Jon somewhere along Central Park and then off to the festival.
So, here I was once again all alone and about to meet a total stranger - call me crazy, but I actually enjoy living like this :D He was waiting for me at the eastern entrance of the Park and we immediately hit it off and easily fell into a long conversation about life, experiences, travel and, yes, horses :) Unfortunately my tardiness meant we missed Stevie Wonder (bummer) and somehow we also sort of missed The Kings of Leon (we heard the music, but they wouldn't let us actually enter the festival grounds for some reason), but luckily we made it in time to see Alicia Keys take the stage. Yes people, Alicia Keys, live and Open Air in Central Park!!!! Need I say more?!?

Singing along to "New York" with thousands of people in Central Park - incredible!
The last act was John Mayer. I still can't believe I was actually there :) And to think I almost spent hundrets of Euros on a plane ticket to London to see John Mayer there a couple of weeks earlier... Open air in Central Park actually topps the O2 in London.

Afterwards, we had Burgers at one of New York's favorites: Shake Shack! I'm a fan now :)

The fries alone are worth waiting in line!
The next day I finally met with Joseph and he tried to make me love NYC by showing me all the best spots. Yes, ok, seeing the skyline from Williamsburg was pretty cool. And you really are a great tour guide Joseph :)
Best tour guide in town!
We did touristy stuff, like visiting the Brooklyn Bridge and taking the ferry to Staten Island, but Joseph also took me to his University (Columbia - gorgeous!) and we enjoyed the sun in some of the lesser known parks in the city, like the highline (you should definitely check it out, that's a pretty cool park/green area in the middle of the city!) and Washingt Square Park next to NYU. And we tried as many local specialties as possible (the pizza was great!) I was lucky enough to have three days of blue skies and sunshine to accompany me on this short city trip, but I was a little intimidated by all the skyscrapers (and the windy valleys in between!) Also, I think it's weird to wander through a foreign city and constantly think "Oh yeah, I've seen this before" (damn you film industry! ;) ) Here's the ultimate tourist *proof* pic of me in NYC:

Time Square - full of crazy people :)
So, yes, I was there and I did all the touristy stuff, but I still can't understand all the fuzz... Maybe this city is simply too big for me, I don't know... I feel like I've been there and I've done the whole *places to see* tour, but I don't necessarily have to go back there - sorry NYC fans out there. This travel girl still prefers beantown ;) and Upstate New York of course!


Back to Boston - 10 months later

After a couple of days in upstate New York, I took a bus through the night and arrived back in Boston the next morning :) I couldn't wait to spend a few days at my favorite house in all of Savin Hill! Also, I finally had the chance to see an NHL game, although it was still pre-season, but who cares? GO BRUINS! :D

Blond Boston Bruins Selfie ;)
I was also invited to join Maureen on one of the Gravestones tours *scary* and I have to say, I had a lot of fun wandering through downtown Boston at dusk :) Though it's weird to be one of the guests when you know the tour guide and driver...

Check out the Ghosts and Gravestones Tours!
And yes, you guessed it, there was also one of those *did that just happen* moments waiting for me while I was visiting Beantown: one morning, Maureen came home and said "We're gonna go to a gala tonigh!" Oh, and it wasn't just any Gala; it was a Gala filled with free food from the best Restaurants in the Bosten Area!!! *Foodie Heaven* Apart from enjoying the ridiculously delicious food samples, they also served free Wine and I got to meet the Govenor and the Boston P.D. comissioner and some of Boston's best ball players :) Oh yeah, definitely a *did that just happen* moment :D

"Hello Govenor!"
Oh how I love Boston... and Maureen! Girl, you're the best! Say hi to the kids for me!


State Parks, Graffiti and the Origin of Hamburgers :)

Hello Folks :)

I've decided to pick up this blog again and include some of my more recent adventures in the West.

Our first stop is New York State. Back in September 2013, I decided to visit some friends and explore the Empire State. My adventure started with my rental car at JFK Airport. Picking up a rental in Rush Hour and trying to get to upstate? NOT a good idea! Well, at least now I know that my nerves can handle the stress....

I spent my first night in Binghampton at yet another couchsurfer's house (thanks again Marc!) before I finally started exploring what upstate had to offer. After visiting Albany and Syracuse in 2012, I knew that the landscape up there is rather beautiful, but I was anxious to finally check out some of those state parks! So my first stop was Watkins Glen just south of the Finger Lakes. Well, what can I say? See for yourself:

The walk is about two miles long and takes you along the water. It is fascinating to see how the water made its way through the stone and shaped the Glen. Of course, I was especially lucky to have picked such a gorgeous day! :)

I then drove along the Finger Lakes (beautiful scenery with lots of local wineries to visit!!!) to Rochester to visit yet another couchsurfer. He showed me some of Rochester's graffiti Art scene at an old water reservoir and an abandoned subway tunnel. Here are some examples:

this is my favorite - it reminded me of Native American Art

The Subway Tunnel

some close-ups

Almost missed this one!
I spent a couple of days in Rochester and enjoyed the mixture of small town and upstate landscape as well as the pancakes in one of the diners ;) (I wanna say it was Jay's Diner, but I'm not sure...) I especially enjoyed the old wooden home with the beautiful front porch! I want a front porch...

And, of course, there was also a funny, *did that just happen* kind of story :) So, as some of you might know, I love Hamburg. Most beautiful city ever. And I'm German, and this always seems to come up at some point... So, I'm in Rochester, and my couchsurfer's roommate and I are talking and he brings up Hamburg, New York which is right next to Buffalo. So, of course, I tell him I used to live in Hamburg in Germany and that I love this city more than anything else and so on. He replies with "Do you know the story of the Hamburger?" and I go "Yeah, of course I do, I used to tell it on my city tour bus. Two guys from Hamburg invented the Hamburger in America and they called it Hamburger because that's what they are: people from Hamburg" and the roommate goes "Yeah, but do you know where that happened?" and he goes on to tell me the entire story about how two guys from Hamburg were selling hot dogs at a festival in Hamburg, New York, but they ran out of sausages, so they had to come up with something else, and all they could get from the butcher were patties, so they made Hamburgers! And, yep, he even had a pin from that fair for me :D I love my life!