In love with…acceptance

Hi lovebirds,

I hope you’ve all had fabulous Christmas holidays? As I am writing this, trees and rooftops are covered in snow, ice crystals are decorating our windows and my morning coffee is most likely to be cold, as I cannot help but stare out the window. My Christmas like that of many others was spent differently this year. My grandmother was sick and my mum didn’t join the ‘festivities’ this year to keep us safe. If it hadn’t been for the Christmas tree and the smell of raclette cheese, it would have been an ordinary day. The circumstances didn’t allow a Christmas as usual and I received loving messages from friends and family. However, many of those messages included phrases like: “May next year be better than this!” or “Thank God, this year will soon be over!” I’ve heard people complain about the distance it has put between people. But was it really all bad? I have to disagree!

2020 may have been a year of unprecedented and unpredictable events, there’s no doubt about that! Many of our plans had to be cancelled, or perhaps postponed and things just didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. I know too well how that feels. But what this year has taught me is to accept things as they are and to be open for change! Acceptance doesn’t always come easy, I know that. Especially when you had made plans that you were excited about. I suppose it’s a normal human reaction to be disappointed and sad; perhaps even angry. However, if you stop resisting change, you might actually be surprised about the positive and beautiful things right in front of you that you hadn’t expected. Things that you might miss out on because you’re so focused on the negative.

I don’t want to repeat myself, I think I’ve made it clear in my previous post that I think it’s a matter of perspective and that I like to see the good in things. I also don’t want to play things down or give you the impression that I haven’t suffered from the restrictions, believe me, I have and I still am. I’m just not the kind of person who wants to let this virus determine how I look back at 2020. I cannot change the fact that this virus is circulating, but what I can change is the way I look at it. I will not allow it to take away my positivity and accomplishments because there is a number of things that I am extremely grateful for and that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for coronavirus.

For me, this year was about growth. Personal growth and professional growth. I took some much needed time off to think. Think about my goals, my dreams, my values, what I want to do with my life, about who I am and what kind of person I want to be. I took the time to spend a ridiculous amount of time outside doing what I love: picking flowers, looking after plants, connecting with nature and animals, hiking with friends and family, to mention only a few. I was carefree, my batteries recharged; a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a long time and yet there were moments of sadness, frustration, devastation. I don’t want to hide the fact that I was angry with the universe for ruining my plans! Yes, this year was supposed to be different, but yes, this year still turned out nicely for me! At some point, I just accepted the fact that it’s within my own power to make something of this year. Why let this virus determine your happiness? Why give this responsibility to someone else, when you alone are the master of your very own life, your own happiness?

Yes, things might have gone in a different direction, but with a bit of creativity and curiosity, it was and still is possible to go on adventures, to MAKE your OWN adventures! It’s really up to you to decide what you make of the circumstances! You can either sit around, be grumpy and complain about the restrictions, but I don’t think it’s going to change anything. Or you can accept the fact that this is the way things are at the moment and make the best of it! Discover your surroundings, go wild on a new puzzle, start your own DIY project, read that book that has been sitting on your shelve for too long. Your options may be limited but it’s really up to your creativity!

We may have had to stay away from people and I do think this is making us socially awkward at times, but I disagree that this virus and the social restrictions that come with it is only damaging my friendships and family. Again, it’s a matter of perspective! This may sound weird but I have never felt more comfortable and at ease in my skin than I have over those past few months. I spent time with myself, listening to my body, my inner voice and simply got to know myself better. That’s not even all. I reconnected with family and old friends and even made new ones, so I think it’s a little too easy to blame a virus and argue that it’s only torn us apart! I too am sad about the fact that I couldn’t see many of my friends this year, but I think some friendships have grown even stronger over the past few months and I do think this is worth mentioning!

If we stopped concentrating on the negative events that happened this year, but instead started to see the positive sides, our lives would be much happier. At the end of each year, I make a list of things that I have accomplished. It’s something I have done for a while now because it simply makes me feel good about myself and about the past year. This year, I felt the urge to share my list with you, hoping that maybe you too will reconsider the way you think and feel about 2020. Hopefully, this will inspire you to make a list of your own accomplishments or gratitudes. Maybe you’ll see that 2020 wasn’t all that bad after all. I do wish you and your loved ones much joy, happiness, health, success and love for 2021!

  • I moved into a brand new apartment, which I finally get to decorate the way I want and makes me feel at home
  • I made new friends and reconnected with old ones
  • I landed my dream job working in international relations & renewable energy, which gives me the opportunity to contribute to the energy transition and makes me feel good about what I do
  • I managed my first projects
  • I worked on my finances
  • I discovered my love for flowers and plants
  • I spent a ridiculous amount of time outside reconnecting with nature and myself
  • I bonded with our turkeys that I took care of over the summer
  • I hiked up mountains & hills
  • I got to spend more time with my family
  • I rediscovered Vienna & its surroundings
  • I tried new recipes and got really good at making bread
  • I improved my yoga skills
  • I volunteered and got out of my comfort zone
  • I got to visit a friend in London and watched ‘Wicked’ for the first time
  • I made my own scrunchies
  • I successfully completed an online course on renewable energy technologies
  • I managed to stay healthy all year
  • I finally went to see a doctor about my pollen allergy and am starting treatment
  • I felt good about myself

Love,
M

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In love with…perspectives & positive mindsets

When COVID-19 had finally hit Europe and more specifically Austria, life changed rapidly. Set to move to Australia with a box of my belongings already waiting for me in Queanbeyan, there I was: stuck in my apartment without a rental agreement, a job that was about to end a few weeks later and a plane ticket that was suddenly worthless. How had I gone from the best timing to move away to the worst timing possible? I was angry, frustrated, and sad. Our borders were technically closed, something I – a true believer in the European project – have never experienced in my 28 years of existence. But what if in the end, we all ended up exactly where we were supposed to? What if the universe wasn’t really trying to punish me – as I had told myself many many times – by making it impossible for me to move to Australia in April? What if it turned out to be a blessing, despite all the tears I have shed?

A dear friend of mine (half Austrian-half Australian, obviously we’re destined to be friends) has accompanied me virtually in those – at least for me – difficult times. He has managed to put a smile on my face and drag me out of my days of self-compassion when I needed it most by reminding me to work with what I have and to take it day by day. Now, patience does not run in my blood naturally and as much as I love the fact that I can be very determined (mum calls me stubborn, but I like a more positive attitude), I keep stinging myself in the back like Scorpios stereotypically do. Seriously, why are we always so hard on ourselves? The other day, my friend – let’s call him A – shared a post on LinkedIn with a quote by Alexander Graham Bell and it triggered something in me:

‘When one door closes another door opens (well that’s not new, but it’s the second part that struck me!), but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ‘

When one door closes, another door opens

The past few weeks and months have been characterised by many ‘don’ts’ and ‘can’ts’, they are called restrictions for a reason after all! All of a sudden, our focus shifted to the things we couldn’t do, instead of seeing what there is we CAN do. Perhaps, some of you – like myself – adopted a negative mindset and gave the downwards spiral a free ride, as we’d say in German. But sometimes, we just need to accept things as they are and put them in a different perspective in order to shed light on those doors that have opened for us. This isn’t always easy, but I’d like to give it a try.

A few weeks ago, I moved back to the countryside to stay with my family for a while, at least for as long as I have figured out where I’m going and what I’m going to do. Experts say young people are affected most by the recession, so I hope they are not fed up with me just yet. I am the fittest I have ever been (and I haven’t even set a foot to the gym!), I have had the best sleep in years, I have reconnected with my pal nature as I go for long walks, hikes or runs, I have picked the most beautiful wild flowers, I got to spend more time with my family, particularly with my brother whom I had neglected for a very long time, I have practiced yoga and meditation, which has given me strength and has helped me revive my positive attitude, I have cooked healthy meals, baked delicious cakes and bread, and I have finally worked out what sector I want to work in. Now I know those are not literally doors, but to me, all of the above surely do feel like one hell big of a door.

Obviously, I don’t know what would have happened, if things had worked out let’s say ‘according to plan’, but if I had got on that plane one month earlier as anticipated, I probably would have been on that rescue plane a month later anyways heading back to Austria and I can only imagine how devastated I would have been, if that had been the case. Unemployment has risen significantly in every country, rules for migration are becoming even more difficult and hope for change for the better is high. I’m not saying I’m giving up on Australia just yet, I’m determined, remember? 😉 But I am saying that perhaps it’s not the right time for me to do it just yet and maybe I’m exactly where I should be: back home with my family, surrounded by nature and many possibilities to learn new and old things helping me change my direction, professionally and personally. What about you? Do you think you are right where you should be? Or are you still looking regretfully upon that door that so happens to be closed right now?

Bisou,
M

In love with…the little things

Hi lovebirds,

It’s no big news that I get nerdy from time to time, but this morning I was in the flow of reading a book in my hands on my way to work. I just couldn’t put it down and had to make the best of my ten minute walk from the metro to my office, so I continued reading and was thrilled about the red lights that allowed me to read an extra few lines. While I was standing in front of the zebra crossing, I felt a finger tapping on my shoulder and I looked up immediately. A young man was standing right next to me and he wanted to know where ‘Untere Viaduktgasse’ was and pointed at google maps on his phone. Wondering why he was speaking to me in English and uncertain of what language I should use, I went with English and I told him to come with me and showed him the way.

This obviously happened in pre-Corona times, when our lives were still busy and what we like to refer to as ‘normal’. Last summer, I once again participated in an online course, which is perhaps one of my favourites. It’s called ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ and can be found for free on futurelearn. One of my Aussie host mums had recommended it to me three years ago, when I was going through a rough time. I don’t think she was aware of what an impact this would have on me when she sent me the invitation.

One lesson I took from this online course is to slow down, enjoy the little things we tend take for granted and to be in the present moment. This is where life happens! It’s changed my perception of my surroundings and my environment, as I began to smile at people, look them in the eye and sometimes even say hello to a stranger, or stop on the way to look at the blossoms on the trees and you know what? It feels damn good!

It’s surely become more difficult to smile at people, when you’re supposed to wear a mask, but if you look closely enough you can still see the friendliness and glitter in people’s eyes, or perhaps it’s just the pollen messing with people’s allergies. No but seriously, we always get so caught up in our thoughts, criticism, anxiety and life that we forget to enjoy the little things in our lives. We began to take everything for granted: our family, our houses, our healthcare system, being able to go to the supermarket. We look at our phones as we walk, we rush by the busy people in the morning without saying anything, yes, sometimes, we don’t really see what’s right in front of us.

So I’m asking you: When was the last time you took a walk and actually looked at the houses or trees around you? When was the last time you sat in a park and watched the ducks chase one another? When was the last time you had a real conversation with your family without discussing dinner, chores or who’s going to pick up the kids from school? When did you last smile at someone and said good morning to a person you don’t know? When was the last time you helped out a stranger? This list is endless and I too have struggled in those past few weeks since the lockdown. My life was turned completely upside down and I too have difficulties with the uncertainties, but that’s a different story. It’s okay for us to mourn, it’s okay to be angry and sad, but there comes a point in life, in which we need to accept that there are some things we just don’t have much power over, but instead as individuals we can, however, control how we see things and react to them.

Ever since I started appreciating the little things, my life has turned around. Consciously looking at my environment has made me realise how many beautiful things and inspiring people I am surrounded by every day. We are currently writing history and you are part of it! Isn’t this exciting news? Traffic in Vienna has decreased by 50% since the lockdown, streets have been blocked and turned into ‘meeting zones’ for pedestrians, residents of Venice are noticing a vast improvement in the quality of their canals. Is this ‘new normality’ really that bad?

Helping out this young man was again a moment of realisation for me. It might seem absolutely meaningless and pathetic to you and that’s okay too, but I’ve come to appreciate those moments more because I know I helped a person or made someone smile that day. Enjoying the little things currently helps me get through this crisis. I’m not saying, I’m doing a great job at it, but I certainly try. Next time you’re on the street, why don’t you try and smile at a stranger? You might be surprised by the friendly reaction! Stay strong lovebirds, we’re all in this together! By the way, it turns out that the book I read was in English.

Bisou, M

In love with…my inner child

Hi lovebirds,

2019 was an emotionally very intense year for me. Despite some of the tears I shed and the struggles I had to go through, I’m convinced that all of it was necessary for me to grow into the strong young woman I am today. A few years ago, on New Year’s Eve, some girlfriends and I started writing our new year’s resolutions on a little piece of paper and kept them in our wallets until the year was over and replaced it with a new one. For 2019, I had kept my list rather short: travel, sports, improve your photography skills (which is really the only thing I didn’t do in 2019), believe in yourself, see the world more mindfully and resolve your daddy issue.

After all those years of having a strange relationship (if you can even call it that) with my dad who had moved out after my parents’ divorce when I was 13, I felt the urge to finally work on that relationship and to let go of all those negative feelings and anger that I had built up over the years. Quite frankly, I knew, this wasn’t gonna go away. A problem doesn’t just disappear. So I chose the active way to MAKE IT go away because deep down I knew that this – together with many other reasons – was at times holding me back from being in a healthy relationship with myself and with others. Over the years, I had learned not to let men in my life because I didn’t want anyone to hurt me. I subconsciously wanted to prove a point to myself that I was perfectly capable of living my life without anyone’s help, particularly without a man (Look dad, I know you’ve left, but see how well I am doing without you! Look at all the things I have accomplished without your help!). I didn’t know how to be loved by a man, particularly not by my own father. But how can you, unless you start loving yourself?

My relationship with my dad had had involved so much disappointment and anger, I sometimes wished I didn’t have to see him again. Yet again, things that are uncomfortable don’t just go away. It’s entirely up to you to decide, if you continue to let them drag you down, or if you step out of your comfort zone, work them out and move on as a grown person.

In February, when my grandmother on my father’s side had passed away, we had a big family gathering on the occasion of my grandmother’s funeral. I hardly ever see dad’s side of the family, which is mostly due to my dad’s relationship with his siblings. At the funeral, I finally saw everyone again, including an auntie that I hadn’t seen since I was perhaps 15. That encounter with my auntie opened up my eyes to see something I had never seen before and that changed everything for me: my dad’s childhood. And this is where the story really begins.

A few weeks after the funeral, I went to a book store – I don’t remember what I was looking for – and on my way out, a book by Stefanie Stahl, a psychologist, had caught my eye: ‘Your inner child needs to find home’. It was as if it was talking to me. The book had everything I was going through united in one title. So I decided to buy it. This book has allowed me to reflect my own personality, my needs, my fears and where they come from. As children, we learn to love and to be loved and we get a basic sense of trust. In this book, our inner child is described as ‘the sum of our childish imprints – good and bad, which we have experienced through our parents and other important caregivers. We do not remember most of these experiences on the conscious level. However, they are fixed in the subconscious. The inner child is therefore an essential part of our subconscious. It is the fears, worries and hardships that we have experienced from childhood, as well as all positive influences from our childhood.’

The book includes many exercises, which you can reconstruct your relationship with your dad, your relationship with your mum and the relationship between your parents with. It helps you recreate your negative beliefs, where they come from and how you can transform them into positive ones.

Working my way through the book, has helped me understand not only my own, but also other people’s behaviour a lot better. It has made me realise that in my relationship with my dad, my inner child learned to believe that it wasn’t important (e.g. my dad never showed up to any of my school performances or concerts), that it wasn’t wanted (I was always yelled at when I was woken up by mum and dad fighting at night and I tried to yell back at dad because I knew he had yelled at mum for no reason and I wanted to help her. ‘Go away!’, ‘Stay out of this!’) and that men leave me – hence relationships with men hurt (divorce). But I also learned that dad wasn’t the only one who had left scars on me. Because of the unloving relationship with my dad, my inner child has learned to take responsibility for mum’s happiness. I had learned to be a good girl, to make mum happy, to protect her and to comfort her.

This book has made me realise that it wasn’t just the relationship with my dad I needed to work on, I also had to work out my relationship with mum. All of a sudden, I understood that I needed to figure things out just for ME! This is really difficult for me though because I have trouble taking decisions for myself and doing what I think is best for ME. But when, if not now, am I gonna start taking decisions for myself? I’d spent all my life protecting mum from pain (there were a number of breakups), was considerate of her feelings and made sure she was happy. One of the most important lessons I learned from that book is that I am no longer that little child and that it’s not my duty to make mum happy, I live my own life now and that includes taking decisions for ME ONLY. Perhaps you see where this is going: That was the moment I knew I HAD TO move to Australia, to follow my own dreams, my own desires, even if it might make mum unhappy.

It was time for me to let go of that protector role I had learned to be, as well as to let go of that anger towards my dad and to forgive him for his past mistakes. I’ve come to understand that my dad loves me very much, he just doesn’t know how to show me because he is perfectly aware that he’s been a bad father to me. He – like most of us – struggles with the things that have happened in HIS childhood and thanks to the conversation with my auntie I know that there have been quite some traumatic events in his past that he has been trying to deal with ever since. I know that’s not an excuse for his behaviour, but it has allowed me to understand and to simply move past it.

Today, I no longer start shaking when he calls, I no longer look for his approval, I’ve simply made room for him in my life and let him be there, if he choses to. My mum and I? We’re still as close as before, but I do try to give myself the necessary distance to be able to live my life the way I want to, but also for her to live her life the way she wants to. I’ve learned to let her make her own mistakes that I can’t always protect her from. I feel much more at peace with myself, maybe my inner child has finally found home and a place where it’s being heard. For 2020, I have only one resolution: Take better care of myself and do things that make me happy!

It feels so powerful and great to be in charge of your own life and to move forward. When will YOU start taking your own life and happiness in your own hands and take decisions just for yourself?

Bisou, M

P.S.: The book I read is called ‘Das Kind in dir muss Heimat finden’ by Stefanie Stahl, but I’m afraid it is only available in German. I was not sponsored or paid to promote this book. I just wanted to share my personal experience with you, as I know some of you may be going through some similar issues and here’s an idea of how you can overcome them.

I am moving Down Under!

Hi lovebirds,

I have waited a long time for this, but I have BIG NEWS! I am moving to Australia in less than four months and I am so excited to be able to explore more of the Canberra area so soon. What? Canberra? YES, CANBERRA! Quite frankly speaking: I have never felt so certain about anything in my life! Australia’s been my greatest love since 2010 and I think deep down Australia loves me too.

Why do I want to move?
I love Vienna, everyone knows that. But it has always been my biggest dream to move back to Australia one day. When I got off the plane in Sydney last February, it felt so right to be back. To me, it was like coming home to Australia and I instantly knew, I had to come back again for a longer period. I remember my host mum asking me already in 2013, why I didn’t give moving there a try and I remember exactly what I replied to her: I can’t do this to mum, it would break her heart!

There’s emus along the road!

I never really got Australia out of my system and when I found out about some major changes at work, I took those as a sign! Australia is happening! Now, I know, this doesn’t solve the mum issue and I’m afraid there won’t be any other way than having to break her heart a little regardless. But I’ve figured, she’s gotta go her way and I’ve gotta go mine. I can’t always be around to protect her. After all, she just wants me to be happy, like any other mother would.

Why Canberra?
I know that many of you associate Australia with Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, surf beaches, or kangaroos. But the truth is: There is so much more to Australia than big cities and the beach. So when I get asked why I’m moving to Canberra, my answer is pretty simple: Because I love it there. I’m a country girl as much as I am a city girl and Canberra allows me to be both. Canberra is perfect, it is about two hours from the coast, three hours from Sydney, two hours from the mountains (and the snow!) and there are plenty of kangaroos. Oh and did I mention the wine? There’s vineyards, so basically it’s a lot like Vienna: surrounded by hills, vineyards, it’s the capital city (nope, Sydney is not the capital!), it has great restaurants (more restaurants per capita than any other city in Australia!), oh and they have a flower festival every year, loooots of Tulips! But most importantly: the people! Despite the thousands of kilometers that separate us, I still call some of the people my family and best friends, so it’s really not that surprising that I want to go back to spend some more time with them. I will surely write more about Canberra in the months to come and perhaps even charm you over. In the meantime, Canberra has some fabulous social media accounts that I personally follow and whenever someone asks me ‘Why Canberra?’, I just send them a photo with the caption: ‘That’s why!’.

National War Memorial

I know this is a lot to take in and some of you perhaps think that I am a crazy person, maybe I am, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me, or leave a comment below, I’m happy to answer them, if I can. If this is something you are interested in, please let me know and I will develop further on the moving process and my new old life in Australia.

Bisou, M

P.S.: If I had already known in March that I’m gonna move to Canberra, I would have taken more pictures! But here are a some of my favourite Instagram channels:
https://www.instagram.com/visitcanberra/
https://www.instagram.com/australiancapitalterritory/
https://www.instagram.com/canberralocals/

In love with…me, myself and Portugal

Self-love is a concept that I thought I was perfectly aware of. I was actually convinced, I was pretty good at it: I love beautiful food, regularly buy myself flowers, take an occasional bath, have a glass of red wine or two, in other words: I was doing nice things for me. But then, last summer, I hit a new low in my self-esteem. I had hit rock bottom.

I’d started reading about self-worth and realised how little I value myself. Think about this: How often do you talk badly about yourself? Little things like: oh I’m so stupid, I forgot the keys. Or: No, I’m not smart enough to do this! It’s the little things I hadn’t noticed. Even the fact that I wasn’t even appreciating my own work. Whenever someone complemented me, I couldn’t accept it, basically rejected it, or tried to find a plausible explanation for it. Not long ago, someone told me I smelled nice, and instead of just saying a simple thank you, I replied saying it was my body lotion, and stretched out my arm for him to smell. I guess I was trying to prove a point that it wasn’t actually me who smelled good, but the product I had applied.

Earlier this year, I wrote my very first evaluation report by myself. It was not my personal choice, but this is how things turned out. Perhaps, I should mention that I had only started working for this firm half a year earlier and during the first three months, I was an intern and yes, that does make a hell of a difference. I wrote a 70 page report and both the project manager and my boss complemented my work. My reaction? Oh that was nothing, everyone else would have done the same. But seriously: would they really have done the same? Not to mention I was writing about a topic that I had absolutely no clue about. So it wasn’t until I had it in black on white in front of my eyes that I realised, I needed to change the way I treat myself. It’s not just about the flowers I buy for myself, but also about the way I talk about myself in front of other people and how I think about myself. So I’ve decided to take better care of myself.

But why is it that I always seem to be doing a better job at taking care of myself when I’m far away from home? Those past few days in Portugal have been so refreshing and I’ve finally found or should I say took some time just for myself. Even though I certainly wasn’t the only one who’d decided that Portugal was a nice place to hang out at, I was still able to do the things I love: brunch, sipping red wine overlooking the river delta, reading a book of my choice while sipping flat whites and the best thing about it? I didn’t even have to worry.

Coming to Portugal has once again showed me how important it is to continue this path that I’m currently taking and it’s really not as awful as one might think to spend time alone. After all, it’s you who you spend 24 hours a day with so why not take a trip by yourself? However, I’ve soon come to realise that for me, traveling solo isn’t much different from my daily life, except that I’m in a different place. I’ve basically been traveling the life journey on my own for the past 28 years. If this trip has proven me anything, it’s once again my ability to make friends easily and that I’m gonna be okay on my own, which does not mean, I never want to travel or hang out with anyone else anymore, hell no.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned to appreciate myself a lot more and have become increasingly aware of my own value and I feel that for many people out there, traveling solo is the best way to get to know themselves. If that’s the case, please do it, or find another way to really connect with yourself. I’ve been wondering why people fear being alone so much. We always concentrate on getting to know other people, but what if we got to know ourselves first? You might actually meet someone great that’s been there all along.

Bisou, M

Brunch at The Mill, an Australian-Portuguese café

In love with…Down Under

Hi lovebirds,

Has anyone of you ever been an exchange student? That kind where ‘exchange’ actually still meant ‘exchange’? Where you live with a host family, while someone else stays with yours? You attend school, meet great new people and make friends for life? Sometimes it feels just like yesterday that I graduated and sat on a plane to Australia, where I spent a year before going to University. I can’t believe it’s almost been 10 years that I went on this great adventure and perhaps one of the bravest things I’ve done in my entire life. Going away hasn’t been as exciting ever since. Leaving home as a teenager, flying across the globe into a different time and climate zone to live with people you’d only hardly been in touch with before leaving and staying with them for one year turned out to be one of the best adventures of my life, if not the best. I know I’ve only lived in Australia for one year, but it was such a life-changing experience that I still look back at it, as if it were yesterday.

To many of you, Australia perhaps is the country of dangerous animals, great beaches and people with weird accents. To me, it is so much more. I’ve met so many people that I call my family and friends today. Australia’s become my second home and even though I’ve lost the Aussie accent a bit, I’m still proud when people ask me: ‘Do you come from a land down under?’ I’ve never really stopped using my Country Road bag (I’m not even sure that is still a thing), I use my Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment on a daily basis (wishing I could say the same about my TimTams consumption) and still use the phrase ‘fair enough’ in my sentences, even though I mostly speak German at home (and nowadays French). It’s taken me quite some time to realise it is thanks to Australia that I am now a full on breakfast addict, which proves that obviously Australian kitchen is way underrated. Flat whites are among my favourite things that I associate with Australia, not to mention TimTams, but I’d have those for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack in between, obviously. Even my colleagues are now hooked, I did, however, warn them, so I don’t feel guilty.

Last February, I got to go back to this fantastic country to be part of one of my friends’ biggest days of her life: her wedding. Getting off the plane and entering the Australian (Capital) territory felt so damn right. In fact, it felt oddly normal to be back and it surely won’t take me another 6 years to come back! It was an important two weeks because not only did I get to see everyone again, but I finally also got to introduce a mate to my Aussie life and show him parts of the country. We started off in Sydney, which was perhaps the most touristy part of the holiday, as we mainly focused on regional Australia. I love a good weekend city trip, but I honestly believe there is so much more to the country than megacities like Sydney, or Melbourne, Bondi Beach or Uluru (and I am well aware that Uluru is nowhere near a megacity). I might be leaning out the window, right now but I do believe that within those two weeks well-spent in Australia, T got quite the authentic experience of the country staying with my Australian host families, driving around the countryside in a ute, seeing wild animals (the list of animals we saw is long!), attending a farm wedding, walking up Australia’s highest mountain, which is not the one you’re probably thinking of right now, and actually visiting Australia’s capital: Canberra and you know what? It was awesome!

Oh how have I missed the loud, colourful birds, the ‘hey, how’s it going?’ at the supermarket even though you don’t know the person, the smell of the gum trees, cold rock ice cream, kangaroos, the bush, the ocean, a good chicken parmi, speaking English all day, the Aussie accent, hot cross buns, Peter Alexander and of course my friends and family. Australia, I have missed you like crazy and you have been and always will be the greatest love of my life. If we could, we’d already be riding off into the sunset together holding hands.

Bisou, M

48 hours in Hamburg

Hi lovebirds,

I had heard a lot about Hamburg before my trip, but it I was not aware of how lovely this city really is until I finally went there. Hamburg is such a photogenic city. For someone like myself who loves to abuse cameras (I take waaay too many pictures) for some ‘serious’ photography, this is the perfect place to be. The city reminded me of a variety of places that I had visited: Rotterdam because of the port, the modern architecture and the brick houses. Berlin because of the public transport system. Brussels because of the resemblance of some of the houses. Vienna again because of architectural reasons and Sydney for some odd reason, I don’t really know why, it was just a feeling I had when I was there. My stay was very short, but I will be back for sure, as I did not manage to do and see all the things I wanted to. I’ve put together a to-do list for photography lovers or any curious traveler like myself.


~ Walk along the Elbe

One thing I love about this city is the water. To me, water – be it a lake, a river, the sea – adds so much to the quality of life of a city. You can walk along the Elbe for ages, watch the boats passing by, gaze at the shipping containers and all that industry and machinery in the water, listen to the sound of the seagulls and take some impressive shots of the port.

~ St.Pauli Landungsbrücken – Elbtunnel – Viewing platform

When walking along the Elbe, please make sure to cross the Elbtunnel and walk to the other end. You can take an elevator downstairs. Once down, I believe it would be a good spot for some long-exposure shots. If you don’t know how to take long-exposure shots, make sure to go to the other end of the tunnel, go back upstairs (or take the elevator), turn around and go to the viewing platform. It’s a really good spot to take shots of the city and it gives you a nice view of the Elbphilharmonie. I reckon this would be a lovely place to sit in summer with a beer and watch the sunset. While you’re there, make sure to try a typical Fischbrötchen (fish bread). Unfortunately, I have to go back and try one next time!

~ Harbour Boat Tour

Once at the landing bridges (Landungsbrücken), you can and should choose a boat that you want to go on a harbour tour with. Pretty much everyone has recommended me to go on a harbor tour, as you actually get to know more about the city, they take you out to the containers, pass by the Elbphilharmonie and take you back to the landing bridges via the beautiful Speicherstadt. I think you can get quite different ones, so just go there and choose the one that is best for you. Ours was 20€ for an hour, a bit expensive, but definitely worth it. It was one of my highlights and it’s very good for photography. Take care of the waves though, apparently sometimes the water can be wild!

~ Elbphilharmonie

Continue walking to the Elbphilharmonie. It is impossible to miss it. I personally am a fan of modern architecture, not that I know anything about it. Elbie as the locals also call it is unfortunately very overcrowded, as people queue up to get to the plaza. Apparently, in 2019 the government plans charge people around 5€ to get inside and up to the terrace. I didn’t consider it necessary to go upstairs –  I’m not a big fan of queuing anyways –  as you don’t have the Elbphilharmonie on your photo, which is why I prefer taking my shots from elsewhere.

~ Speicherstadt

Take a walk through the Speicherstadt, Hamburg’s UNESCO world heritage site. It is such a breathtaking area with many possibilities to take a beautiful photo. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t as great as I had hoped it would be, when I was there. It sure is worth to just take a stroll and discover new beautiful corners. Many museums are situated in this area and so are cute cafés and restaurants. I personally love the contrast between the red brick houses and the new very modern architecture along the water. It would be a dream to live in one of those apartments.

~ Climb up Michl (Hauptkirche St.Michaelis)

You can find another great viewing platform for photography on top of Michl, the church. You can either take the stairs or use the elevator to go upstairs. The entrance fee is 5€ for adults (students and probably pensioners get a discount) and is worth it, in case of good weather. Like I said, we were really lucky with the weather that weekend, so the view was perfect in all directions, although it turned out to be a bit misty. I also really enjoyed the neighbourhood that the Michl is surrounded by, so make sure to take a walk in that area as well.

~ Jungfernstieg, town hall

The inner city looks very different from the rest of Hamburg, at least this is my opinion. Hamburg has very different areas, some that are poorer, or hipper and some that are very posh. The city centre where you can find all sorts of shops, town hall and different government buildings is very posh and less attractive to me to some extent. It is, however, interesting to walk along the water and cross the little bridges that remind very much of Venice, you’ll see why. We had very delicious breakfast at a French-American place called ‘Atelier F’. They were in the midst of putting up the Christmas markets so the charm sure wasn’t the same, but I was less impressed by the inner city, although it is worth seeing town hall and the Binnenalster. If you have enough time, make sure to also go to the ‘outer-Alster’.

~ Sternschanze / Schanzenviertel

I stayed at a place called ‚pyjama park‘, which is a lovely and very modern/minimalistic hostel in an area called ‘Schanzenviertel’. It is an area with many nice bars, cafés, restaurants, shops and graffiti. Any Viennese person would perhaps compare it to the 7th district of Vienna, although the Schanzenviertel is even cooler in my opinion. Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific area you would go to for good food, clubs, or bars – at least not an area with style. In Hamburg, all this is very concentrated, which I like. Unfortunately, I didn’t really take the time to do some browsing at the shops. Many of them were local stores with fair fashion, which I consider very important. 

~ Try a Franzbrötchen

Franzbrötchen is a sweet pastry with cinnamon that looks a bit like a croissant. It is very delicious and I can only recommend you to try one while you’re there. They also have it in different variations with chocolate, apple etc. but it seems to me that the original is the one with cinnamon.

Here’s what’s still left on my list:
~ Reeperbahn
~ Außenalster
~ Nord Coast Coffee Roastery
~ Fish Bread
~ Walk through St.Pauli

Do you have any further recommendations for my next trip? What would you add to my list?

Bisou, M

In love with…Bratislava

Hi lovebirds,

oh wie ich dieses Gefühl des Reisens vermisst hab. Das klingt für manche wahrscheinlich unglaublich komisch, da ich ja erst seit nicht mal vier Monaten wieder in Wien bin, aber selbst so eine Eintagesreise in eine mir unbekannte Stadt (wobei das nicht ganz stimmt) gibt mir so ein Kribbeln im Bauch, so ein Gefühl des Aufbruchs, ein sehr schönes Gefühl. Manche kennen dieses Gefühl vielleicht vom Verliebt sein, ich bin halt sozusagen verliebt ins Reisen. Ich find Reisen einfach so bereichernd und ich würds um nichts lieber austauschen. Alleine die Gespräche über Diplomatie, bilaterale Beziehungen zwischen den Ländern, den Entwicklungen und Tendenzen innerhalb eines Landes, all diese Dinge bringen in mir wieder so ein Gefühl der Motivation und Ambition hervor, das ich oft zur Seite schiebe aus den unterschiedlichsten Gründen. Ich traue mich zu behaupten, dass ich noch nicht so wahnsinnig viel gereist bin, klar, wahrscheinlich schon so einiges mehr als der Eine oder die Andere, aber wenn ich unterwegs war, dann meistens nicht des Reisens wegen, sondern weil ich dort für eine Weile gelebt habe und das ist für mich die schönste Form des ‘Reisens’, wenn man so will. Natürlich kann man eine Stadt als Touristin erkunden, schöne Ecken entdecken und einen Eindruck der Stadt und seiner EinwohnerInnen erhalten, aber so wahrlich viel wissen über das Leben erfährt man in einem normalerweise relativ kurzen Reiseaufenthalt ja nicht. Ich find es so unglaublich spannend, tiefere Eindrücke zu sammeln, die Leute vor Ort kennenzulernen, herauszufinden, wo man denn als Local Frühstücken geht, wie die Leute denn wirklich in dem Land leben und diesen Eindruck bekommt man meist als Touristin nicht. Und obwohl mich Leute immer fragen: “Aber jetzt bleibst du schon mal daheim, oder?” (da stellt sich dann wieder die Frage: wo ist überhaupt daheim und was ist daheim schon?) und ich in letzter Zeit oft das Gefühl nach einem Zuhause hatte und auch noch habe, bin ich immer vorsichtig und antworte ihnen: “Ja, doch schon, aber ich weiß nicht, wie schnell sich das bei mir wieder ändern wird.” Denn meine Erfahrung hat mich das Gegenteil gelehrt. So opportunities kommen halt oft sehr unverhofft, wie mein Traineeship in Brüssel und dann kann es auch richtig schnell gehen. Meine Reise nach Bratislava gestern hat mir einfach wieder gezeigt, dass, auch wenn die Lava sozusagen momentan nicht am Ãœberlaufen ist, irgendwas brodelt da trotzdem ständig in mir, obwohl ich mir so gern mein eigenes Heim aufbauen möchte, aber irgendwas wird mich immer wieder ins Ungewisse, Fremde ziehen und das ist auch gut so, weil ich mir nicht vorstellen kann, mein ganzes Leben am selben Ort und Fleck zu verbringen.

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So und warum schreib ich überhaupt übers Reisen wenn der Beitrag ja eigentlich in love with Bratislava heißt? Naja, weil ich vor ein paar Wochen in Bratislava war und diese Reise einfach sehr viele Gefühle in mir hervorgerufen hat. Ich finds immer wieder so beeindruckend, dass man grad mal 60 Minuten mit dem Bus fährt und man in einem anderen Land und Kultur ist. Ich bin schneller in Bratislava, als bei mir Zuhause und das auch noch günstiger! Und dennoch war ich gestern erst zum zweiten Mal überhaupt in dieser hübschen Stadt, dabei verbindet uns so viel Geschichte! Bratislava hat mir schon bei meinem ersten Besuch sehr gut gefallen. Es ist ein sehr gut überschaubares, hübsches Städtchen, das man leicht an einem Tag erkundet hat, also aus einer touristischen Perspektive gesprochen. Trotz des schlechten Wetters (Gott sei Dank, denn diese 20+ Grade und blauer Himmel Ende Oktober machen mir und meinem Gewissen ehrlich gesagt sehr zu schaffen, Hallo Klimawandel!) hatten wir einen perfekten Tag dort mit bisschen Sightseeing und sehr gutem Essen. Jemand, der glaubt, nach Bratislava zu fahren, weil dort alles billiger ist, hat sich ganz schön geirrt. Ich hab dort für meinen Kaffee und Kuchen und Pizza im Hipsterladen genauso viel bezahlt als in Wien. Auch wenn ich weiß, dass am Tourismus sehr viel zu kritisieren ist, vor allem die unendlich steigenden Preise, die oftmals das Leben der lokalen Bevölkerung zur Hölle machen, war es für mich eine spannende Reise, um für einen Tag aus meinem Alltag zu entfliehen. Wir haben eine Freundin besucht, die momentan das Glück hat, für ein paar Monate dort zu leben und richtig ins slowakische Leben einzutauchen. Jedenfalls wollt ich hier ein paar Anregungen für Bratislava mit euch teilen und euch auf ein paar Lokalitäten hinweisen, auf die ich gestern gestoßen bin.

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1. Enjoy Bistro

Das Enjoy Bistro haben wir zufällig entdeckt, als wir eigentlich auf der Suche nach einem Lunch-Lokal waren, dann haben wir dieses süße Lokal entdeckt mit unglaublich hübschen und leckeren Kuchen, dass wir nicht widerstehen konnten. Das Gute dran ist, dass man dort auch ‘normal’ Essen kann und nicht gezwungenermaßen Kuchen essen muss. Wir haben dann eine Kleinigkeit gegessen, um den Mittagshunger zu stillen (klassische Kürbissuppe, im Herbst einfach das beste Essen!) und haben dann noch unsere Bäuche mit leckersten Schokotorten (das war dann wohl meine) und veganen Walnusskuchen vollgeschlagen. Der Kaffee und die Limonaden (ich hab die Mango-Ingwer-Limo probiert) waren übrigens auch super lecker. Wir haben glaub ich leicht zwei Stunden dort verbracht und haben gleich mit der Bedienung dort gescherzt, also wirklich unglaublich liebe Leute dort. Noch dazu ist das Ambiente und Interior Design sehr gut! Ich kann euch echt nur empfehlen auf einen Abstecher dort vorbeizuschauen.

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Michalská 3, Bratislava

2. Urban House

Das Urban House haben wir auch eigentlich per Zufall entdeckt, als wir schon mit knurrenden Bäuchlein durch die Stadt geschlendert sind. Das Lokal sah von außen schon so einladend aus, dass wir uns direkt verliebt haben und wir wurden definitiv nicht enttäuscht. Würde ich in Bratislava wohnen, wäre das wohl eines meiner Lieblingslokale, sei’s für Kaffee, zum Tippen am Laptop, Lernen, Essen oder Afterwork. Ihre Spezialität dort ist Pizza und zwar haben sie dort richtig ausgefallene, aber sehr schmackhafte Pizzavarianten. Die Bedienung war ebenso sehr hilfreich und höflich, hat uns seine Lieblingspizza und Lieblingswein empfohlen, beides wirklich sehr gut! Das Urban House war wirklich ein netter Abschluss und war auch perfekt, sich nochmal aufzuwärmen bevor’s zurück zum Bus ging.

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Laurinská 213/14, Bratislava

3. Fach

Ebenfalls ein Bistro, ich habs selber leider nicht ausprobiert, da ich dann leider doch keine dreimal am Tag Essen gehen kann und wir schon genug Kaffee intus hatten, aber es sah wirklich schön aus und wär vom Geschmack genau meins gewesen, vorallem in die Einrichtung hab ich mich verliebt. Vielleicht hat ja jemand Lust, es auszuprobieren und mir Bescheid zu sagen, wie es denn wirklich dort so ist?

Ventúrska 274/10, Bratislava

4. Refresh

Dieses Lokal hab ich schon 2014 entdeckt und hab mich gefreut, es wiederzusehen. Es hat sehr schöne Erinnerungen an einen Sommeraufenthalt mit guten Freunden hervorgerufen. Da ich eigentlich immer gerne neue Sachen ausprobiere, bin ich diesmal nicht hingegangen, aber ich kann euch versichern, dass die Burger richtig lecker sind dort und es gibt auch eine gute Auswahl für VegetarierInnen und VeganerInnen. Es ist jedenfalls einen Stopp wert.

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Ventúrska 267/5, Bratislava

Bisou, M

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10 reasons to fall in love with…Brussels

I know this might come as a surprise for those of you who have heard me say all those nasty things about Brussels, but yes, there are some things about this city that I appreciate. Maybe it’s the flu that’s been bothering me over the past few days, or maybe it’s just that sometimes you need to let a bit of time pass until you see the good things you’ve had when they’re gone. Anyways, after three months of being apart, I do need to admit that Brussels like any other place that I’ve lived in so far has become part of my home and it haunts me like any other experience abroad with never ending homesickness. I wonder if this weird feeling of constant nostalgia – be it for Australia, France, Hungary, Belgium or Austria – will ever end, I have my doubts, but you may prove me wrong if you have made other experiences. I know Brussels will never be my favourite city on earth because well let’s face it, Vienna has taken up number one a long time ago and it’s very difficult to beat, but it’s part of my life journey so I want to share the good things of this city with you. Here comes my number 10 list:

  1. Grand Place: 

I guess the reason why Brussels was never really on my number one travel list is because well, let’s be honest there are not that many interesting sights to see. This absence of monuments made it quite difficult for me at the start to get an orientation in the city. If I had to pick one major sight and must see when in Brussels, it’s of course Grand Place, perhaps the most beautiful spot in the city. Beautiful Art Nouveau architecture covered in gold, quite breathtaking and worth a visit.

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2. The European Union:

The presence of the European institutions and the positive European vibe is definitely something that makes living in Brussels worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a city with such a positive attitude towards the European Union. I still don’t quite understand why the European founding fathers (sadly no mothers) chose Brussels as the European ‘capital’, but having left quite a big part of my heart in Strasbourg, I still like to see Strasbourg as the real capital of Europe, no offense. I’ve been a supporter of the European project ever since I can remember. I am a proud believer in European values and in the fact that working together as closely as possible makes us stronger. The European Union has brought so many advantages into our lives and I personally admit that I have profited a lot as a typical Erasmus generation stereotype. The EU has made it possible for me not to do just one but two exchanges, do internships in different countries without having to get a visa, pay extra fees, even without having to change my currency. So yes, I have enjoyed the European atmosphere in Brussels, meeting likeminded people and seeing them fight for their career within an EU institution.

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3. Connectivity:

Brussels is perfectly connected to many other cities including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Luxembourg etc. It’s so easy to travel from Brussels – be it by train, bus, airplane, perhaps even by bike. I enjoyed being able to do day trips on weekends and I didn’t even manage to tick off all the destinations on my list, including Bruges, no, I did not make it to Bruges. I have, however, managed to visit Strasbourg, Lille, Luxembourg, Ghent, Antwerp, Knokke, Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam, which I do find a lot considering that I only stayed there for five months.

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4. Flagey:

Well, it’s quite unbelievable how much love one can have for a square this hideous. I remember the first time I was at Flagey and Café Belga, I was seriously wondering why my flatmate loved coming to this place, it was not appealing to me at all. But then somehow I always kept coming back, especially on Sundays for Flagey market, which became one of our Sunday rituals. We would first get brunch somewhere nearby and then go for the cheap wine at the market and maybe some oysters, or waffles. Despite the cheap price, the wine was actually tasty, or it might have been the fact that I hadn’t had wine in such a long time because Belgium – let’s face it – is a beer country. No but seriously, beer’s a religion. We would spend hours at this place getting tipsy, joking around, having coffees at Café Belga and just have a good time. I actually spent my last hours at Flagey with my close friend T, that’s how holy this place has become. When I think of Flagey today, I remember all the good times we had there and wish I could go back every once in a while.

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5. Architecture:

When it comes to architecture and art, Vienna and Brussels are two complete opposites. Vienna is this clean glamorous city, where you can still smell the monarchy, even though it ended 100 years ago. Everything is very well preserved and has to look perfect. Well Brussels has its very own way of doing things. There’s not one particular type of architecture you would spot in this city, even though it is quite well-know for its Art Nouveau. It took me quite some time to get used to this variety of architectural styles in one place. You can spot the most beautiful baroque building next to a modern skyscraper. Whilst this would be illegal in Vienna and would probably cost us the UNESCO World Heritage title, it is the most common thing in Brussels.

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6. Street Art: 

Talking architecture probably takes me to my next reason why to fall in love with Brussels: street art. Well-done street art is something I really admire, as I am not talented at all when it comes to painting or drawing. The colourful wall paintings, particularly of comics, are very typical Belgian, or at least that’s something I was told. To me Brussels is a city of diversity and I think the street art reflects this diversity very well.

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7. The people: 

Brussels is a very young, dynamic and multicultural city. Of course, this is mainly thanks to the European Union. Many young people move to Brussels to do traineeships (like myself), build a career, or a network, fall in love. If you take a ride on the metro, you will quickly realise that you’re surrounded by a multilingual audience. This makes living in Brussels without speaking a word of Dutch very easy. Even though I speak French fluently, I hardly ever had to use it outside of work, everybody speaks good English, or even German. This city is made of hungry young professionals dying to meet other people for different reasons. I was very lucky to have found friends close like these and more.

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8. Waffles, beer, fries, chocolate and again beer:

I once asked a Belgian what his favourite Belgian meal was and his answer was fries. Even though I still don’t consider fries as a real ‘meal’, I guess he had a point, especially given the amount of fries I ate when I was in Belgium. I admit that Belgian cuisine is probably not the healthiest one and definitely not good for your beach body, haha. I have never seen a variety of sauces this big that you can choose with your fries (my personal favourite is ‘Andalouse’), or a beer menu this long. I don’t think I’ve had a beer that I didn’t enjoy, which is probably something my Belgian friends will be very proud of when they read this. I’ve even become very picky with my Waffles and I have caught myself rolling my eyes at Austrian waffles because having had the real deal, I don’t want to have some overpriced, Austrian mock up waffle. It’s like having Nutella and then changing to hazelnut cream. I mean who does that?

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9. Parc Cinquantenaire:

Living in Brussels has made me realise how important greenery is to me. I need some sort of park, forest or anything else that is green around me. Living on the other end of Parc Cinquantenaire was one of the greatest things in Brussels. I spent so much free time there running, drinking, eating, hanging out with friends, talking on the phone to mum, or just crossing the park on my way to work. It’s probably my favourite park in Brussels and I have some good memories there.

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10. Restaurants/ Bars/ Cafés: 

Brussels surprised me with its good choice of places to eat and drink. I’ve had tons of really good food and drinks in this city. If I had to choose some of my favourite places it would be:

Don’t forget to check out my post on my favourite Brussels Brunch Locations.

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My personal conclusion of living in Brussels is that it’s more of a city you go to for the vibe and atmosphere, the restaurants, cafés, bars, food, rather than the monuments that you would expect to see in Paris or London. You need to know your way around in Brussels to really enjoy the city and of course the greatest friends really do make a huge difference as well because as long as you’re with the right people, it doesn’t matter where you are.

Bisou, M