February 23, 2015

Oh, Vienna!

I have only been to Vienna once for a few days, but I can honestly say this beautiful city has crept into my heart and will forever be a destination I can see myself go back to again and again. Even though I was a tourist, thanks to my wonderful friend and host Ania, I think I got some great insights into Vienna. I stayed in a small hotel for some days and then stayed with Ania. She blogged about the wonderful appartment on her blog right here.
Sitting on her sofa and looking out of the window, this is the view

Thanks to some internet searches and blog reading, I had a pretty nice list of things I wanted to see and do in Vienna. Looking over my snaps I can say, I did pretty much can check off every point on it. Well, wait! I didn't get any Palatschinken (Austrian for pancake)! A good reason to come back to Vienna, I guess.

We also went to Demel to have some cake and hot chocolate. While I waited outside I saw so many people go in this very well known café. Thinking there is no way, we could get a table. Turns out, this café is much bigger than you would think! Spread over various levels, every nook at Demel is put to good use. It is all you imagine a Viennese café should be. Big chandeliers on the ceiling, velvet curtains on the windows, art on the wall and cake. Oh my, the cake. On the ground floor you find the shop, which sells pretty things that make a good present for people at home. You can also see the cake shop, where the cakes are made that you can pick out to enjoy.

Is this a tourist-y place right on the shopping street Graben? Yes, it is! But it is must do nonetheless.

February 14, 2015

Sappy love songs.

I actually like Valentine's Day. For me, it is not only about "The One". It is about all the people (and that one dog!) who are close to my heart. Who I care about, who I'm worried about, who I want to be happy and do so very well in life. My friends, family members, neighbors, former colleagues, other bloggers and yes, also the man, who is very special to me.
Love songs are great. Some of them are amazing and put into words exactly how one feels. I have received some mixed tapes from boys in school. I remember listening to them over and over until that tape would just give in and be stuck in the tape recorder. If my love had cooled at this point, this would be one sign I could accept. But there are also some very creepy, bad and sappy love songs. The funny thing is, that usually everybody knows the lyrics to these songs.
I put together 15 cheesy love songs on Spotify. And yes, I'm guilty for knowing all the lyrics by heart.
What others songs should be on this list?

Happy Valentine's Day everybody.
Be the love you seek. Today and any day

February 12, 2015

The story of two palm houses in Vienna

In which I went to the wrong palm house. I cannot recall, when I saw the palm house for the first time on Instagram. I looked through some photos with #Vienna and there it was. Once I understood, this is actually a place to have breakfast or coffee at, I put it on my to see list. I looked up its location and found out a palm house was in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. With the Winter weather exactly like I love it (icy cold, but sunny), I was off wandering around.
You can't help but think of all these movies with Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. We Germans are crazy about these movies and they are on rerun each year!

I can see why so many joggers enjoy their run though them. Would I run, which won't happen in this lifetime, I would do the same. These gardens are huge and not only is there a palm house, but also museums and a zoo. The palm house, with its ompressive iron structure, is easy to find and from the outside it looks exactly like I've seen it.
I was kind of suprised that I couldn't see a café area and I circled the palm house several times. Of course, I also didn't have internet access to double check. So I walked inside and asked the man at the information counter, where I could find the café. The second I saw that little smirk around his lips, I just knew I was at the wrong location. The one I wanted to go to, was in the city center. Taking the subway back into the city center and doing a quick online search I finally found the right location. Actually you cannot miss it. Talk about feeling foolish.
But it was all worth it! The Palmenhaus is a beautiful, light and airy place to eat and spend some time. You sit at small, sometimes, vintage tables. It has a short menue, with lots of coffee options. Waiters and waitresses in crisp white shirts and a bow tie serve you, while you listening to jazz music. I ordered a small breakfast, flipped through magazines and enjoyed great service. Free wifi also added to my overall wellbeing. I could have easily spend hours there.
Do you see the gentleman in the left bottom corner in the second photo above? He wore headphones and sang along loudly. As a matter of fact I saw him a couple of times all over Vienna. Vienna is not that big after all. If you are in Vienna, I cannot recommend the Palmenhaus strongly enough.

Palm house at Schönbrunn Palace, if you are interested in flowers and plants.
Palmenhaus Café - Brasserie - Bar, Burggarten 1, if you expect coffee and light food.

February 6, 2015

Vienna preview

Thank you all for your tips and for refering me to your various blog posts, I left for Vienna with a list of to dos, to see and to eat. Thanks to Ania, The New Diplomat's Wife, who I went to visit, I got a good, if small, insight look to some great places in Vienna. While I'm sorting through my photos I leave with a small preview.
I actually missed a couple of trams to make sure I could hop on of of those vintage ones. Breakfast at the Palmenhaus, cocktails in the hotel bar of the Sacher with Ania and the only supermarket I have ever seen where the shopping carts have a leather handle and a magnifying glass. Those were just a a few things I did in this really delightful city.

January 7, 2015

Going to Vienna and having no clue

I'll start this brand, spanking New Year by hopping on a plan and travel to Vienna later this month. My list of places, I want to go to, is long. Like a mile and then some. Vienna has been on that list for quite some time, but I made up my mind, that I want to see this beautiful city in Winter.
When I heard that my friend Ania, The New Diplomat's Wife, returned to her old stomping ground for some weeks, I jumped on that chance to spend some time with her and also scratch Vienna of that travel list.

It shouldn't come us a surprise, that I already booked my theatre ticket and I can't hardly contain my excitement about that. I also have extensive plans to eat my way through the Kaffeehäuser there. Cake and desserts galore. But that is about it. Therefore I'm asking you for help.

Have you been to Vienna? Do you have some must do tips for me? Maybe you have written a blog post I can check out? Help a girl out, please.

January 2, 2015

Designing my 2015

Happy New Year! Here's to a wonderful new year filled with health, laughter and lots of love. Lots of it!
Do you recall the scene in the first, and in my opinion the best, Bridget Jones movie, in which she sits on her apartment floor, after a booze filled New Years party and a horrible rendition of "All by myself"? Bridget and I have something in common. Not only are we both horrible singers, but we both started a new calender/diary on New Years Day.
I really love new calenders. It's fun to fill in the birthdays of friends and loved ones first, followed by special events and planed travels. Usually I use a weekly planer. I also have lots of to do list flying around or notes written on post its which stick to my desk or to my computer. But this year, I invested into an "all-in-one". It's not just a calender, but the Day Designer by Whitney English
It's quite a thick, big daily planer, that is something you keep on your desk, rather than your purse. However you can also by a mini version of it. But it is so much more than just a planer. The Day Designer starts with some thought provoking questions that I need to ask myself. About my family, career or financial goals. 
I'm really looking forward to work with the strategic brand plan. I truly believe that if you write things down, they become more real. Sometimes you need to think things through to see where it will lead you. This brand plan does exactly that! You need to think through your ideas, your values as well as your strengths and skills. 
The calender day itself is also different than any other calender I have ever owned. Of course, there is the regular schedule, that starts at 5am. A little early for me. But it also includes space for my to do list, with an opportunity to highlight the top three things that need to get done today. It really feels like you accomplish things, when you get to check these off. Sometimes I write things on my to do list that I have done already, so I can scratch them off! There is also space to plan dinner and to note what is due.
I like that this planer will change over the course of the year. That the more I work with it, the clearer things will become for me and my future on so many levels. At least that is my hope.

December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014. Hello 2015.

Here we go again. A year has past and I can't deny that I get a little melancholic. Mostly about things that I haven't done.
Oh, 2014, you were mediocre. Not great, but not aweful either. The most important things in life, such as health and love stayed pretty much untouched. For the past years I have had the feeling, that I work towards something. That I have to lay the concrete first, in order to built a project on it. It finally feels like the concrete is down and has dried and strong enough to carry projects. Some decisions have been made already and the first steps have been taken. I start this new year with a blank book. I don't feel I carry any unfinished business into 2015. So what could be better than a blank book, with pages to fill?

Maybe I needed 2014 to be mediocre, since 2013 certainly wasn't fun. I haven't had a resolution list in a long time and if I had one things like losing weight (even though I should), doing more sports (I doubt this will happen) or stop smoking ( I never smoked once) would never be on it. But this time there is a small list. I have learnt that I can only change things, when I acknowledge them. I need to stop planing the year in big steps and only from a business stand point. My personal life was kind of neglected, at least it feels like that. I start with the New Year, plan to April/May when The Hive - a gathering of digital storytellers, tastemakers & blogger takes place. Plan to my birthday in August, wait till after the summer and I get going with The Hive again and then it is already the end of the year. Not in 2015! I learned my lessons and I'm ready to do things differently in this new year. Stopping and smelling the flowers will be one of those things.

So, 2015. Let's do this thing, I'm grabbing you by the horns.

This photo below is me as a foreign exchange student in 1994/1995. We celebrated at a roller skating ring. I was 16 years old. I was clearly a fan of hair spray.

Happy New Year!
I wish you good health, lots of luck and even more love.

December 25, 2014

The Christmas market

Merry Christmas everybody. I'm waking up out of my food coma and with that, I want to share my last Christmas post for this year.
Often, when I meet someone, who isn't German but has visited Germany, I hear just how much they enjoyed the Christmas markets. Especially at this time of the year. And it is true, we are pretty spoilt with them. While Christmas shopping in crowded and overheated stores is certainly not my favorite thing to do, going to the Christmas markets after shopping or instead of shopping surely is. Did you know that the oldest market goes back to 1384? The main market is usually right in the city center, like the one in Hamburg. We didn't have any luck with snow this year. Quite the contrary, as it has been raining all day, every day for the past weeks. Not that this stops us from having some mulled wine though.

And let's not forget the food! I love me some bratwurst, sugar almonds, gingerbread and mushrooms. But also fish, potato fritters, chestnuts and chocolate covered fruits. I'm pretty much eating my way from one end of the market to the other.

As always, the Christmas markets close on December 24th. But I'm already missing the smell of mullet wine and the food. That's a big part of Christmas, no?

December 19, 2014

Writing Holiday cards. An idiots guide.

One would think that writing Holiday cards would be easy pickins and certainly doesn't require a ten step guide. And you would be right. But this is an idiots guide for writing cards and when I say idiot, I'm talking about myself. I really need to remind myself of these steps, when I finally get my act together and send some cards to my loved ones.
Here is my check list:

1. Buy Christmas cards.
It all starts here. Each year I plan to buy some cards. Sometimes I even kid myself and think I could diy some great ones. That never works out. I also go into a store more than once, just to look at the cards and thinking: Yes, these might be it! Which brings me to no. 2.

2. Start early.
The fact that I write this post on Dec. 19th, tells you that I dropped the ball here (again). Usually I have plans to cozy up somewhere nice, with some coffee and write my cards. Every once in a while that "somewhere nice" is actually the post office itself. Last minute. Don't be like me. Start early.

3. Check the pen, you plan to use.
It has happen to me, that the pen I use runs out of ink or smudges. Then you have to use another one and it just doesn't look nice anymore. So what do you do? You rip the card up and need to start over. With one card short now and you are thinking about who won't be getting a card this year.

4. Wash your hands.
Another one of those things that should be clear.  Learn from my mistakes.

5. Check the names.
A little smudge here and there could be overlooked. But nothing is so embarrassing as a misspelled name. Sarah or Sara? Hannah or Hanna? Hailey or Hayley?

6. Holiday card = Holiday stamps.
A regular stamp will do, of course. But if you make it till here, let's go the extra mile.

7. Have the addresses ready.
Having to ask family and friends: "what's your address again?" especially while writing the cards will very likely result in not sending them at all. If you have to wait for an answer finishing them might slip down on your to do list. Or fall off completely. Been there, done that!

8. Keep them clean and dry until no. 10
You finally wrote the cards and now they have to be kept save until you send them off. On the bottom of my handbag you find cookie crumbs, small change and old receipts. I just throw stuff in it. Right on those clean cards. Which won't be clean anymore. I have blamed the post man before for the look. Sorry post man.

9. Don't forget Santa.
There are a bunch of addresses in various countries to where you can send cards and wishlists. We all know, that those are just sub post offices, that collect all the mail and then set it to the secret address of Santa. Of course, his address is secret, he doesn't want people showing up at his door unannounced, naturally.

10. Send them off!
This is the point, where I'm very likely to fall off the wagon. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I went through all the points above, just to forget the cards in my handbag or that they are buried somewhere on my desk and never make it into the mailbox. But not this year!

Please tell me, that I'm not the only one that needs a list like this! Please?!

October 27, 2014

Luxemburg, Anne and her book

It's like this: When you start out with blogs, you likely read the big ones with a big following. From there you find your own interests or that match your personal life the best.
It was like that for me. For you, too?
When we founded and organized the very first The Hive, we invited those bloggers that we always wanted to meet. So I invited Anne to The Hive. I can't recall how I stumpled upon her blog and even though I'm far from being a food blogger I came back to her blog time and again. I wrote her a long email in which I told her, that I had been a silent reader for quite some time and that I really enjoyed her blog. I ended my mail with an invitation to come to Berlin in May 2012 and give a food photography workshop. When Anne answered my mail, telling me she would love to come, I jumped up and down in my appartment.
I met her during the pre The Hive meeting with all speakers and we got along just perfectly! Since that day, we have become closer and can truely call each other friends.

So I have seen Anne blog evolve into her own brand and I have cheered her on, when she recently travelled Europe to film a new season for her show and create the content for her second cookbook. This cookbook was published in her native Luxemburg last week and I wanted to be there.

In the name of friendship I travelled from Hamburg via Copenhagen to Luxemburg. I'm not that good in geography, but isn't that a silly route to take? If you follow me on Instagram, you know what very small plane took me from Copenhagen to Luxemburg.
Motion sickness has become worse with age and to make a very uncomfortable story short, I haven't been so sick in quite some time.

But Luxemburg people, now that is some fantasy country. The travel route has me convinced. The language does the rest and for me, a royalista, the royal family is the icing on the fantasy cake.

Anne presented her book in the cutest little booth. Pardon the photo quality, I forgot my camera at home and needed to rely on my phone.

Yes, there was sangria. Annes sister and I enjoyed that quite a lot. Topped of with champagne, later with the family, we got quite light headed.
Anne signed for two hours book after book. Some people bought 3-4 books at once. Christmas shopping sorted! Before the signing we walked around a little and Anne was stopped by two older ladies who asked: "Annes's kitchen?". People waited patently in line: young and older folks, kids, dogs, you name it.
It was so great seeing how people love her and are thrilled to see her. I'm not surprised they do, though. If you ever run into Anne, you will see that she is one of the kindest, most welcoming and most positive people you are ever going to meet. There is rarely a moment she doesn't smile. I fall for people, who enjoy the nicer things in life, not only food, and Anne is one of them. That's why she is so successful. I'm so glad that the people of Luxemburg know, what a wonderful gem comes out of their midst. And I'm so glad I have that gem as my friend.

Muah to you, Anne. I will be there for more important days in your life, for sure!