Lakes in Austria: Langbathseen.

In the heart of the Salzkammergut, a very beautiful area in Austria where you’ll find high mountains, precious salt mines, cultural heritage sites and many many lakes there. Back in May, I took a prolonged weekend to explore the Salzkammergut a bit, go on hikes and check out the local lakes. There are actually some of the most beautiful ones that you’ll ever find in Austria if you ask me: the Vorderer & Hinterer Langbathseen.

Two lakes make up one

The Langbathseen are mountain lakes in the Salzkammergut, in its Upper Austrian part right between the Traunsee and the Attersee, on the foot of the Höllengebirge (literally ‘mountains of hell’). There are two of them, and they’ve got a very creative name to distinguish them: ‘Hinterer’ and ‘Vorderer’, which translates to the one in the back and the one in the front. The surface elevation of the lakes is 664 metres and their surroundings are a nature reserve.

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Hinterer vs. Vorderer Langbathsee

 They are located in a long basin next to the limestone massif of the Höllengebirge and are both surrounded by deep green mountain forests. However, the lakes are actually quite different from each other.

The lake in the back has a darker, greener colour. The Hinterer Langbathsee lake isn’t a typical bathing water, probably because of its high biomass content aka algae.

Grey mountains and clouds at the Hinterer Langbathsee

Reflections and a fisher hut on the Hinterer Langbathsee

The Vorderer Langbathsee, the one in the front, the bigger one of the two. Its colour is lighter and its water (in terms of classification and temperatures up to 25°C) is perfect for going for a swim. It’s also rather populated with many visitors who go swimming or diving, or who sit down for a cup of coffee in the restaurant, the Langbathsee Stüberl, next to the parking lot on the shore of the lake.

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Vorderer Langbathsee

On the shores of the Vorderer Langbathsee, there’s the hunting lodge of the famous emperor of the Habsburg monarchy, Franz Joseph. In 1870 he had this lodge built there and used to say in the Salzkammergut for extended hunting trips in the surrounding mountains. The lodge is still there, and sits dreamily, almost a bit deserted in the meadow with the mountains in the back and the lake in the front. So you see that this area has been a nature paradise for quite some time. In case you’ve got some loose change, you can rent the lodge, by the way. I stumbled over this while trying to find out when it was built… In case you’re interested, check out this website. They’ve got more info on what’s inside the building etc.

hunting lodge on the shores of the langbathsee

Hiking around the lakes

The Langbathseen are perfect for very easy hiking adventures (to be honest, it’s more a leisurely Sunday stroll) as you can walk around both of the lakes on a nice gravel path. If you wanna do this, the 6.84km would take you less than 2 hours. Or you can also opt for the shorter route of 45 minutes and just turn left (or right, depending on whether you’re walking clockwise or not) at the western shore of the Vorderer Langbathsee and skip the lake in the back.

Hinterer Langbathsee

woods near the Vorderer Langbathsee

Vorderer Langbathsee

The hunting lodge

It’s even possible to take your car up to the Vorderer Langbathsee (coming from Ebensee), park there and march away. If you’re opting for the circular route, there’s this Bergfext tour that you can follow. Or if you want to be as adventurous as my boyfriend and I were, you can actually combine it with an actualy uphill hike coming from the Großalm restaurant via the Hohe Lueg mountain. This would be an additional 4km that would take you 200 metres up a mountain (981m) and 200 metres down again, then you’d surround the lakes and hike back to where you started from. So in total you’d be on the road for around 5 hours, plus breaks from time to time to take in the scenery and have some food maybe. You’d be walking a lot in the shades of the woods, so it’s also a perfect hike when the sun’s out. It’s still a fairly easy route and you won’t need very good equipment for this tour.

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Catching up: Spring Edition in 2018.

It’s June already, so spring is more or less officially over. At least here in Vienna, where we’ve been confronted with 30°C lately. And that’s a summer temperature if you ask me. The first five months of the year have gone by like a whirlwind (or is it only me?) so I thought I’d be writing one of the recap editions and give you guys a heads up on what’s been going on in my life from January up until now.

January

I started the beginning of the year quite optimistic in terms of content for my blog as I ended 2017 super motivated. For my first January blog post, I went back in time (more or less) and took you on a mental visit to a place that I visited during my bachelor exchange in the UK: Edinburgh.

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One of the cutest but also saddest stories that I've heard while traveling was the one of Bobby, the Skye terrier of Edinburgh. His master had died and he stood guard over his grave day after day until his own death. At least he's got his own statue (and a pub named after him!) now. 🐶 . . . #edinburghspotlight #weloveedinburgh #hiddenscotland #thisisscotland #scotlandlover #loves_scotland #capturingbritain #scotland_greatshots #scotlandsbeauty #ig_worldclub #picturesofedinburgh #greyfriarkirkegard #bobby #greyfriarsbobby #goexplore #igersviennaontour #passionpassport #living_europe #beautifuldestinations #exploretocreate #seeyourcity #ourplanetdaily #neverstopexploring #wanderlust #adventuremore #justgoshoot #getoutandexplore #neverstopexploring #finditliveit #whatabeautifulworld

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And I did a lot of my Vienna exploring and was enjoying the architecture of the city to the fullest.

Being busy at my job at the startup, with content creation for the magazine, Vienna Würstelstand, and rather frequent visits to my family, I ended up not having a lot of time for the blog for the rest of the month. But it was the beginning of the year, and January has always been a slow month for me in terms of creativity.

February

February was definitely the busiest month at work as we launched a Kickstarter campaign at the startup (and you gotta try for perfection in order to have a successful campaign). In addition, a few nasty things with my teeth happened, so I had some issues with my dentist and ended up going to a new dentist way too many times for my liking. Again, hardly any time for blog adventures, but I wrote a piece on what to do in Vienna when it’s cold outside. Taking a walk on the empty Schönbrunn palace grounds or hopping on a tram that takes you past beautiful buildings are on the list!

March

In March I was finally able to visit one of my Moscow friends in Lyon, France. I spent some days with her and she showed me the city that she’s currently studying it. I had some wonderful days there and immediately fell in love with the town and had to take hundreds of pictures of the magnificent architecture there. This is probably also the reason why I haven’t really gotten around to writing about my trip, but there will be some articles coming, I promise! ;)

I got to spend some time in the kitchen though and ended up sharing one of my go-to recipes when it comes to an easy and quick plant-based dessert recipe: the mini chocolate cheesecakes with raspberry sauce.

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Other than that, I kinda took a hiatus from social media and my blog. I just didn’t feel like posting. I wasn’t all too happy with social media in general and I guess I wasn’t happy with what I’ve been doing lately. That’s a tough cookie if you gotta be online because of what you’re doing in your job but you’re not liking what you’re doing. And throw in health/teeth problems, and then you got a fine mix there if you ask me. Yay!

April

April arrived and things turned sunnier, both weather-wise and in my life. April’s my birthday month, so things are always kinda sunny for me in April anyway, no matter what’s happening. I finally started to feel more comfortable with social media again. And as my temp job at the startup was ending in April, I started an internship at yet another startup (haha) that is finally bringing me more into the direction that I wanna go.

Besides changing my job, my sister had her first baby, so I spent a few lovely spring days with the family. As every year in spring when I’m home, my family is super into Wild Garlic and I ended up harvesting way too much for my flat in Vienna so I had to come up with a way of preserving it (besides filling up my freezer…). That’s what brought me to share my plant-based Wild garlic recipes that are perfect for spring.

May

I finally got around to writing about the Old Town in Lyon. My first article on my trip to France from March! So I’m slowly getting around to sorting through the masses of photos that I took.

So May was another good month for me, it kinda gave me a motivational booster that I desperately needed. I enrolled in a weekly yoga class, decided to try other sports out and just got more active in general. In addition, I kinda feel at home with my new job now. Oh, and other good news: I finally saw my dentist for the last time, yay me!

So the start of the year wasn’t the shiniest moment during my life, but not everything can go the way I wish it would. But that’s fine. I was fine with taking a break from my blog’s social media accounts and from blogging on a more regular basis. There are things that are way more important than social media or the online world in general. You gotta take care of yourself first. I’m still working on accepting that my day only has so many hours and my week has so many days. But I’m taking steps in the right direction I guess :)

The Old Town of Lyon – a joy for the eyes.

Lyon is known for many different things. It has some of the best chefs and finest gastronomy. It is the third biggest city in France (Paris and Marseille are number 1 and 2). It was the hometown of the Lumière brothers, inventors of many great things and among the first filmmakers in history, and the birthplace of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince. And Lyon has some of the most notable architectural and historical landmarks in the country. Recently, I got to spend a few days in this beautiful city in the east-central part of France. Most of my time was spent with my friend, but I also got to discover an especially beautiful area of the city with some magnificent architectural masterpieces: the Old Town of Lyon.

The main part of the city until the 16th century

The medieval Old Town of Lyon is located on the west bank of the Saône. Its French name is Vieux Lyon, and it stretches over an area of 424 hectares at the foot of the hill Fourvière. This part of town is actually one of the most extensive areas of Renaissance architecture in Europe. Vieux Lyon can further be divided into three parts, all references to Christian saints: Saint Jean, Saint Paul, and Saint Georges. The first used to be the focus of political and religious power during the Middle Ages, the second attracted Italian banker-merchants in the 16th and 17th century, and the latter was home to silk weavers in the 16th century. The silk trade and industry was one important reason for the city’s development during the Renaissance period. This part of the town was the central part of Lyon during the 16th century but lost its focus status as Lyon Presquile, the peninsula between the Rhône and the Saône, was developing.

The Old Town of Lyon today: a protected part of the city

As people started losing interest, the area of the Old Town deteriorated. It got so far that this area started becoming too unsanitary to live in during the 20th century. The then mayor in the 60s wanted to demolish large parts of the Old Town and build a highway instead. However, a French government policy was introduced in 1954, and the Old Town of Lyon was the first one to be protected under this so-called Malraux law, which protects special cultural sites in the country. Thanks to that, the mayor’s plans couldn’t be followed through, and the area had to be preserved instead. Following this, the Old Lyon was cleaned, restored and brought back to its former glory and is now one of the most thriving parts of the city. In 1998, the Old Town and other surrounding parts were declared a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

View from above at Lyon-Vieux

View from above at Vieux Lyon

The secret passageways of Lyon

A very remarkable part of the city’s infrastructure are hidden passageways, named traboules, that can still be found in the Old Town and the Croix Rousse. The streets of Vieux Lyon mostly run parallel to the river, so it could take some time to get from a building to the river. And that’s why the traboules were established. The name traboule derives from Latin ‘trans-ambulare’ and literally means ‘to pass through’. So you get what they made possible: they allowed inhabitants to quickly pass through a building and provide them with a faster access to the river (or to get from the workshops to the merchants).

These narrow passageways date back to the 4th century, and apparently, there are more than 400 of them in Lyon. However, only 40 are open to the public, and you need to have a good eye to find the small identifying seal that marks the entrance of a traboule. Visiting the secret passageways and courtyards are a must when you’re in Lyon, and it is a great way of exploring the city’s hidden past. Every passageway is different, each of them has a unique colour (mostly pastel). Every courtyard, staircase, or ceiling is particular and unique. If you want to find some of them on your own, take a look at this website or you can also take part in a guided tour. The best option, of course, is to have a friend living in Lyon who can take you on a private tour ;)

Traboule in Lyon

The most prominent buildings of Vieux Lyon

In the Southern part of the Old Town, in Saint George quarter, the St George Church is standing on the riverbanks of the Saône. A church has been standing at this location since 550, but the current St George church was actually only rebuilt in 1844. This church in Neogothic style was designed by the same person who later made the plans for the Fourvière Basilica that is overlooking Lyon from its prime position up on the hill.

St George cathedral in Lyon

Lyon Cathedral, or Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste de Lyon, is located in the Saint Jean district of the Old Town. This might be the most prominent building of Vieux Lyon, and it is also the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon. In front of the church, there is a large plaza, and the cathedral is also fairly close to the river. Built in 1180 (actually finished only in 1476) on the ruins of a church erected in the 6th century, Lyon Cathedral has a Gothic facade but its interior is mainly Romanesque. During the yearly held Festival of Lights in December, a festival where artists light up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over Lyon, Lyon Cathedral gets illuminated and choreographed lighting is displayed on its facade.

Small lanes in Lyon Old Town

Square in front of the cathedral

Palais de justice de Lyon, also called Palace of the twenty-four columns, is located on the right river bank of the Saône river. The building was erected in 1835 and is now the historic courthouse of Lyon as a new justice building was constructed in 1995. With its columns, you can easily spot it already when you’re crossing the river to get to the Old Town.

Justice building of Lyon

Justice building of Lyon

Maybe not a prominent building of the Old Town, but still important to people living in Lyon (or in France in general) are the boulangeries. They are very typical small French bakeries that you can find on many corners of the city and that have been part of the French lifestyle for a long, long time. You’ll see the typical bread like the baguette, or Viennoiseries, the flaky pastries that you’d enjoy with coffee or for breakfast, or the pastries like Eclairs in every french bakery. A very typical find in a boulangerie in Lyon is the Brioche Praline, or brioche aux pralines. It is made from a sweeter dough and contains pink pralines (sugar-covered almonds that are dyed pink), thus making it almost as sweet as a cake. I had a peek at Boulangerie du palais, a favourite of my Lyonnais friend.

Besides churches and bakeries, you’ll also find many restaurants and several museums like the Musee Miniature et Cinema (combining film special effects and the art of miniatures) or the Musées Gadagne (Museum of World Puppets + Lyon historical museum) in Vieux Lyon.

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The Old Town of Lyon is one of the best preserved medieval Old Towns in Europe, and walking around there is sucha pleasure, no matter the weather! With its many charming boutique shops, the cobbled alleyways, the traboules and the mix of Renaissance, Romanesque and Gothic architecture, there’s something new and exciting to discover on every corner of Vieux Lyon. Plus, it’s located next to the river Saône, and boy, do I love me a city with a river! Have you ever been in Lyon and had a chance to go to this part of town? What’s your favourite Old Town? Despite the rain and grey sky that I was experiencing during my stay, Vieux Lyon might actually be on my top 3 list now.


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Spring food: wild garlic recipes.

Spring is when the first blossoms start to bloom. But it is also a time for everyone to go outside in the garden or nature. For me (+ my family), it is also the time when we take advantage of spring and harvest freshly grown plants. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to make soup out of young nettles which is such a typical spring food for me, but I’ve got another interesting type of plant you should pay attention to: wild garlic. There’s a rather easy way of detecting the right plant, and there are many wild garlic recipes out there that you should absolutely try. I’ve got three very easy plant-based recipes for you today.

Why should you even care about wild garlic?

This green little plant has gotten some well-deserved attention in the past few years. Besides the fact that it grows in weed-like abundance that you easily harvest on your own, there are plenty nutritious reasons for you to consider adding wild garlic to your diet. Given its antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic properties, it will do good to your body. It is used in the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stomach upset and some chronic diseases. Apparently, it is most effective in reducing blood pressure.

Where and how to pick the right plant

Wild garlic mostly grows in partially shaded forests where the soil is moist, loose and rich in humus. Wild garlic leaves tend to grow in bunches, usually, the whole area is covered in them. The season starts in mid-March and ends in early May. Then, the wild garlic starts flowering and you shouldn’t harvest it anymore (because it wouldn’t taste good anymore).

Most people are afraid to confuse wild garlic with Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous. If you start looking for wild garlic early in the season, the chances of you harvesting the wrong plant are close to zero. Plus, it is rather easy to distinguish them. Both actually do have broad, oval leaf shapes, but the underside of wild garlic leaves is dull and not shiny as the lily, and you’ll also notice a midrib. Besides that, you’ll recognise the typical garlicky smell of wild garlic. Take a leaf and grate it between your fingers and you’ll be able to smell the strong garlic odour.

However, if you rubbed several leaves by hand, the smell will stick to your finger and next time, you might not notice a highly poisonous and sometimes deadly Meadow Saffron/Autumn Crocus. So always make sure to take a look at the distinctive features of wild garlic: dull green, a thin petiole, grows individually from the ground. If you’re still unsure, bring an expert or read more about it here.

Wild Garlic Recipe

Typical culinary uses

Most people use wild garlic as a substitute for normal garlic or onions in any dish. The garlic-like flavour is milder than sliced up garlic cloves and does not cause any annoying odour (when enjoyed in moderate amounts!). For seasoning, fresh leaves are the best. In general, wild garlic should not be cooked. Instead, it should be mixed into hot food or used in a salad. After the harvest, it is important to process the wild garlic in a timely manner, as it does not last long when fresh. You can also chop the leaves and freeze them for later. I did this with almost 1kg of fresh wild garlic.

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Wild garlic recipe I: a cream soup

When it comes to wild garlic, the go-to recipe of my mom is a typical cream soup that she makes with a flour sweat. It is quite similar to a spinach soup or nettle cream soup, you’ll more or less just substitute nettles with wild garlic, and voila, you’ll have a tasty vegan cream soup. Here’s my adapted recipe:

What you need:

– a big bowl full of freshly picked & washed wild garlic
– 1 onion
– 500 to 750 ml vegetable stock
– 4 tbsp. vegetable butter
– 4 tbsp. flour
– soy cream

What to do:
Chop the onion & let them sweat gently in a pot for a few minutes. Add the roughly chopped wild garlic and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring it to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, you’ll need to make a flour sweat (white roux). For this, melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour while whisking it. Reduce the heat when the mixture thins and it starts to bubble. Cook it some time until you get a toasty aroma. Here’s a tutorial for it.

After cooking the wild garlic for some time put the soup into a blender or use a hand-held stick blender, and mix it until you get a smooth(er) liquid. Then return to the pan, stir in the flour sweat and bring it to a boil again. Stir in the cream, taste and season. It is ready to be served!

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Wild garlic recipe II: a paste

This one is definitely the easiest and fastest recipe to make: a condiment paste of wild garlic. You can use this paste for any dishes where you’d use fresh garlic. Just put a teaspoon of the paste and voilá, you’ll have the aroma of fresh wild garlic in your dish.

What you’ll need & how to make it:

– 100 g wild garlic
– around 125ml sunflower oil
– 1 tsp. sea salt

What to do:
Wash the wild garlic, remove the stems and pat dry the leaves. Add wild garlic, oil and salt in a blender and finely mix it. Fill the garlic paste into a small glass, put oil on top, close it with a screw cap and keep in the refrigerator.

Wild garlic recipe III: a plant-based pesto

If you’re looking for an easy-to-make yet delicious recipe, then a pesto should be your go-to recipe. So why not make a vegan wild garlic pesto then? It is so easy to substitute real parmesan with a plant-based alternative based on cashews, sunflower seeds and yeast flakes.

What you need:

– 100 g fresh wild garlic
– 65 g cashews
– 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds or pine nuts
– 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
– 1 tbsp. lemon juice
– around 125-150 ml olive oil
– pinch of sea salt

What to do:

Gently roast the cashews and sunflower seeds in a pan. Wash the wild garlic, remove the stems and pat dry the leaves. Chop the leaves and mix all ingredients in a blender. Season again if needed and serve with fresh pasta or put it in the refrigerator for later.

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So, remember: next time when it is spring and you venture into the woods, take a bag with you and gather some wild garlic for your next meal. Or just get it at the supermarket, that’s another, slightly more expensive option as well. ;) So, have you ever tried fresh wild garlic? Or is there another spring plant that you harvest yourself?

 

Mini chocolate cheesecakes with raspberry sauce.

Despite not being a massive fan of cheesecakes myself, my boyfriend is, and so I wanted to recreate one of his favourite styles of cheesecakes – a chocolate one – in a plant-based way. There is one good recipe that I found & adapted, and I’ve tried it a few times and it has turned out to be the easiest, simplest and really delicious no-bake cake with plant-based ingredients that I have tried and managed to not ruin.

Lately I’ve been trying my luck with no-bake plant-based cakes. I must admit, though, I’m not yet hooked on no-bake cakes. One of the main reasons being the fact that most recipes that I tried at home turned into disugsting, hardly edible pieces. So why do I keep trying then? Two simple reasons. First, because I am not the biggest fan of gas ovens. Don’t get me wrong, I love gas stoves, but having to work with a gas stove from… I assume the 80s… for the first time in your life – this takes a super long time to get adjusted to, at least for me. And I happen to have on of those buggers in my kitchen. Yay me! Second, I just don’t wanna give up on them. And that’s why I keep trying. But because I haven’t had a lot of luck with no-bake recipes yet, I am always super stoked when I actually do find a recipe that works on the first try, like this one!

It is a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and actually, it is not one cake but several mini cheesecakes. What I like best about this recipe is the combination of dark chocolate & berries, which is perfect if you ask me. Especially because of the syrup and the store-bought cookies, the cheesecake itself tends to be on the sweeter side already, so I like to balance this by adding unsweetened raspberry sauce. This is such an easy dessert option. There’s not a lot that can go wrong (as there is no baking involved), they taste very delicious, and, in my opinion, they don’t have that no-bake feeling to it that some other no-bake-cakes do (if you know what I mean?). So there you go, here’s the recipe and an easy step by step instruction on how to make them.

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What you need for the crust / chocolate layer / topping, for a serving of 8:

  • 10 plant-based cookies
  • 30g plant-based butter
  • 150g raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla sugar
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 60ml coconut milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2-3 plant-based cookies
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil (optional!)
  • a handful of frozen berries
  • some water

How to make them – 3 easy steps:

The crust
Melt the plant-based butter. In a food processor, process the cookies into fine crumbs. Add the butter and mix until everything is evenly mixed. Spoon some of the crust mix into your cupcake tray covered with parchment paper. If you have silicone forms, you can just spoon it in them, no need to cover them with parchment paper. Make sure to pat it down with a spoon so you get the typical cheesecake bottom. Place them in the freezer so they can set.

The chocolate layer
Soak the raw cashews in a bowl of water for 1 hour, then drain the water and rinse the cashews. Heat the coconut milk in a pot until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and add the chocolate so it can melt. Whisk the chocolate & coconut milk until relatively smooth. Pour all ingredients (cashews, lemon juice, vanilla sugar, maple syrup, chocolate & coconut mix) into a blender jug or food processor, and mix them until very smooth. The cakes taste a bit better if the mix does not have a grainy texture. Add the mix with a spoon on top of the cookie crust and put them back into the freezer so they can set. This might take a few hours, though.

The topping
Right before you serve the mini cheesecakes, you’ll prepare the topping. For this, melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. Add the coconut oil to get a more liquid and shinier chocolate topping, and it gives you a subtle coconut flavour. But this step is optional, and you can skip it. Take the cheesecakes out of the forms, spoon the melted chocolate on top. In a small pot, heat the berries of your choice, mix in a little bit of water, add a bit of sugar if you like it sweeter, and bring to a boil. If you want to, you can also make a fancy raspberry sauce where you add cornstarch and let it reduce etc, but this is a quick one, so we’ll just wait until we have a sauce-like texture. Let it cool for a bit, then add the sauce on top of the chocolate cheesecakes and finish with crushed cookies. They are ready to be served!

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Good to know... you can store any remaining mini chocolate cheesecakes in the freezer and you don’t need to thaw them before serving. I prefer eating them straight from the freezer, whereas my boyfriend prefers them from the fridge. Just try whichever way you’d like them yourself. And if you want chocolate galore – skip the raspberry sauce ;)

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What is your take on cheesecakes and no-bake cakes? Let me know if you try out the recipe :)

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What to do in Vienna when it’s cold | outdoor edition.

There is no such thing as being too cold outside (unless you live someplace where it’s really really cold) if you ask me, it’s only a matter of how prepared you are and how many layers of clothes you’re actually wearing. However, I get it, not all of you out there are lovers of the cold season and some of you are really looking forward to the warmer seasons. But there’s always a few things one can do to enjoy oneself in winter, especially in Vienna. And we all just need to make the most out of the situation we’re in, right?. Plus, you can’t just stay indoors all day long, you gotta leave your warm flat or house to get some fresh air!

Here’s my go-to list that that will give you an idea how I usually “endure” the cold in winter. I hope it’ll help you enjoy your winter stay in this lovely city.

|| 1 || Go ice skating

This is such a fun activity to try out during the cold season. Admittedly, it can be a bit expensive because entrance fees and shoe rental prices are usually high, but if you’re really into it, it’s definitely worth getting yourself a pair of skates. And for a one-time-thing, it’s worth the money if you ask me. The most popular (and sometimes very overcrowded) ice skating rink is definitely the Wiener Eistraum in front of the city hall on the Rathausplatz. It’s a very lovely place to go ice skating on, and I’d recommend having at least tried it once. If you want to find out more about it, read my post this fun winter activity.

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|| 2 || Venture into the small alleys of the first district

In Vienna, wind will be your all-time companion, and small alleys are the perfect hideaway for avoiding the strongest winds. Not only that, but they’re just amazing, especially in the first district of Vienna. You can walk past beautiful buildings with a rich history, or walk through the passages, or just do some window shopping. If you avoid the typical tourist roads, you might only encounter a few people and not the typical tourist crowd. And apparently I don’t even have a picture to prove that I actually do this from time to time. Shame on me. Just wanna be honest here. haha

|| 3 || Take a tram ride past historical buildings on the Ring

Some might argue this is wouldn’t count as outside activity, but you’re not really inside either. And by playing tourist for a while you’ll be able to escape the cold for a bit (even though this might be cheating then). If you’re lucky and the tram is heated, you can warm up for a bit, before you venture out into the cold again. My favourite routes are 1, D or 71. They’ll all take you past all the important historical buildings of the city.

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|| 4 || Go to the Prater…

…and hop on one of the rides and your heartbeat will pick up a notch. While feeling the adrenaline in your blood you’ll forget the cold temperatures around you. Or at least imagine that you’re on one of the rides because the Wiener Prater has its main season from March 15 until October 31, and during winter most of the rides are closed. However, on a sunny day, some of them might be open. And if not, you’ll have the whole Prater for you. (Trust me, on a weekday there’s hardly anyone there, it feels a bit like you’re in an abandoned amusement park from one of those dystopian movies). And while you’re at the Prater, you should definitely take a turn with the Wiener Riesenrad, the Giant Ferris Wheel, if you’ve never done that before. For me, this definitely counts as an outdoor activity because the wagons are not heated (as far as I remember).

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|| 5 || Go to the Donaukanal for some street art watching

The area along the Donaukanal is some kind of an open-air museum because of the amazing street art and sculptures you’ll find there. Major parts of the walls along the canale are part of the Wienerwand project, so artists are actually allowed to use the walls as their canvas. Just look out for their official sign, the WienerTaube (a pigeon) marks the area where spraying/painting is allowed. With 120 meters, this is the biggest wall for such art that you’ll find in Vienna.

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|| 6 || Go to a local market

Buying local produce and supporting local farmers is a good thing anyways, so you can do something for both yourself and others! Another beneficial factor of a local market is that you’ll get (mostly) everything without being wrapped in plastic. Plus, looking at all the colourful veggies and thinking of what delicious food I could make out of them is always very heartwarming for me.

Naschmarkt, probably the biggest market that we have here in Vienna, is one very good example for this. As opposed to other markets, you’ll get fresh veggies (and lots of other things there) every day (except on Sundays as far as I know) and not just on Saturdays like most other markets. In addition, you can also stop for a bite to eat in one of the cafés and restaurants that are located there, or just buy a piece of Baklava.

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|| 7 || Take a walk on the palace grounds in Schönbrunn or any other lovely park

Suck it up, pack a thermos and take a long walk. Summer will come soon enough, and it will stay forever anyways. Why not make the most out the current temperature, and enjoy how the city looks like when it’s freezingly cold. Have you ever noticed how calm a city can get when the temperature is below zero? Hardly anyone is outside anyways and there’s always the joy of complaining about the weather with a friendly (and not weird at all) stranger you met outside.

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I may have missed other things one can do when it’s cold outside, but those are my main outdoor activities. Can you think of any others?


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Exploring the UK: Edinburgh.

Edinburgh – the city in the North of the UK. With 493,000 inhabitants it is the second largest city in Scotland (number 7 in the UK, apparently). The city is famous for bagpipes & kilts, the castle, the sheep Dolly (the world’s first cloned mammal) and being the birthplace of Harry Potter (the books’, not the boy’). And it seemed to be a very popular travel destination in 2017. A few years ago, during the time when I was living and studying in the UK, a few friends and I decided to take a trip up North to take a closer look at the city ourselves.

The city

Edinburgh is located in the Northeast of the UK, but actually more or less in the South of Scotland, and lies on the Southern shores of the Firth of Forth. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Edinburgh (and Scotland in general) has a rich history, and you’ll be able to find numerous books and papers on this topic. The city’s history began thousands of years ago (around 8,500 BC), and – as it was the case with so many other bigger cities – during the Middle Ages, a hill fort was established and became a royal residence for the Kings of Scotland. Since the 15th century, Edinburgh has been known as the capital of Scotland and used to be the biggest city in the area until it was outgrown by Glasgow at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1707 Scotland was united with the English Crown and from that on it had the same sovereign, flag, and parliament as England. At the end of the 20th century, a referendum lead to the creation of a Scottish Parliament with its seat in Edinburgh.

The sights & stories

I’ve mentioned this before in other city trips, but a great way of getting to know a city and its history and stories is by taking part in a (free) walking tour. This might also be a good way of getting to know other people, and the local tour guide will give you great tips on what to do and where to eat. So we joined a free walking tour and lucky us, the weather was quite alright even though it was January and thus mid-winter. Only a bit rainy at times, but not too cold, and the sun was out from time to time.

We spent some time on the Royal Mile, which is the main street of the Old Town, saw the typical tourist spots like the City Chambers & Royal Exchange, St Giles Cathedral, the Scotts Monument, and so on. The most memorable points & stories of our walking tour were definitely Greyfriars Kirkyard and Elephant House (and a story about the Stone of Destiny).

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As mentioned before, the city is the birthplace of Harry Potter as it is the hometown of J.K.Rowling. There is one café, the Elephant House, where the author spent many hours there to write the first book of the magnificent story of the boy who lived. In this café, one has an excellent view over a cemetery and other great buildings, and if you visit the graveyard you’ll be able to spot many names that were used in the books, such as McGonagall, (Mad-Eye) Moodie, Riddle etc. According to our guide, other buildings of the town were also a great inspiration for her, the nearby school with its four towers is one example which she apparently used as a basis for the school of wizardry and witchcraft.

Despite all the fame the cafe receives, it does not sell any kind of merchandise and there is no Harry Potter theme in there (or at least there wasn’t any back then when I was visiting). So it’s rather a normal café with just many elephants in there (which is not so ‘normal’ I guess). The only probably not regular thing for a café in there was that every table had a drawer in which you’d find pencils and pieces of paper so you could start your own novel there. Many people had left notes, poems, or short stories in those drawers and we joined them with our own piece of paper.

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The graveyard near the café, Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Rowling got her name inspiration, is also associated with the tale of Greyfriars Bobby. He was a very special Skye Terrier, very loyal to his master as he stood guard over his grave for 13 years in the 19th century. Now, the little dog has his own headstone at the entrance of the cemetery, which marks the actual burial place, and a statue of the dog stands opposite of the graveyard’s gate plus a pub with his name. Cool, huh? The dog statue has a golden snout, and rubbing it brings luck apparently. It so happened that on the day that we were visiting the graveyard, it was the dying day of the dog, and a school group, bagpipe players, the mayor of Edinburgh, and other people were there to celebrate the whole thing.

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A visit to the Edinburgh Castle is a definite must if you ever visit this city. The castle thrones over the city, and from up there one has a great view over the city and the nearby sea.

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The bottom line

We stayed a total of three nights and four days in the city, and we took a very cheap bus from Sheffield to Edinburgh. Despite it being a rather exhausting trip (6 hours one way) I’d recommend checking the busses and coaches in the UK if you ever wanna travel there and can’t catch a direct flight to the city. We stayed in a cheap hostel in the centre of the city right next to the Royal Mile. The hostel was nothing special, but it wasn’t bad either. We were really lucky with our room, and as we were spending most of the time outdoors exploring the city anyways, our accommodation didn’t really matter to us (plus, we were all students so we didn’t want to spend too much on it).

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The capital of Scotland is very very beautiful and I immediately fell in love with it. The mix of the gloominess of the winter season and the architecture of the city was what I liked best. I just loved the dark facades of some buildings and the feeling there in general. I definitely want to come back to Scotland to see more of the surroundings, especially the highlands, and I want to revisit Edinburgh. There are a few places in town that I would not go to a second time or activities that I wouldn’t do again (like going inside the castle… a bit too boring for my taste). But back then when I was an undergrad student, my way of travelling and exploring a city was so different to the way I’m travelling now, so I guess I’d be seeing the city from another point of view :D

Catching up: autumn/winter edition 2017.

It’s time for a small update once again. I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve been up to recently, starting from September until now, end of December. So it’s a mix of autumn & winter, travelling and staying at home, starting work and making the most out of Vienna and life in general :)

September

September was a beautiful month regarding the weather (or am I mistaken? September seems to be so far away though). And life was beautiful as well. The month was full of mini-travel-adventures. I spent a day in beautiful but touristy Salzburg where I met up with my friend Viktoria who I haven’t seen since leaving Moscow.

With my mom and sister, I took a boat trip to Bratislava (actually from Bratislava to Vienna, but we’re not dwelling on the details here). It was my first trip to Austria’s neighbour Slovakia, and despite the fact that Bratislava is relatively small, it’s a very interesting city nevertheless. And the boat trip was great, just saying.

I finally made it to the last city on my see-all-9-province-capitals-from-Austria list, St.Pölten! Technically, I’ve been there a few times, but never took the time to go on a sightseeing trip through the city. I emust say it’s rather sleepy, especially on a Sunday when everything’s closed, but it was a good meeting point for my friend Madlene and I, and we had a good time there.

 

Oh, and another crazy and adventurous thing that happened in September was that I joined the crazy, weird, wonderful, magnificent, beautiful team of the magazine Vienna Würstelstand (and no, it’s not about sausages). Whoop whoop. So check out the magazine and see all my contributions there!

October

The month of October was pretty relaxed, not a lot was happening, I was busy with writing for the magazine, and I just enjoyed Vienna in its beautiful autumn colours. I shared my easy DIY all-natural detergent recipe with you and I wrote about a small park of my neighbourhood, the Liechtenstein park in Vienna’s 9th district.

 

 

A rather unpleasant thing happening in October was the election of the new parliament in Austria, but let’s not talk about that. Sad memories.

Let’s just focus on the good things. Like the beautiful foliage in the Setagayapark.

November

As those things happen sometimes, I had a writer’s blockage on my blog and wasn’t putting much out there really in November. I was still figuring out life in Vienna, and I also started another job as a Social Media Manager for a startup. At the beginning of November, I shared my small quick & easy dessert recipe collection with you, and I also stumbled over some unpublished pictures from my time in Moscow which I put in my post about Park Pobedy in Moscow.

However, at the end of November – when the city was being dressed up in pretty Christmas lights already and the many Christmas markets opened – fresh ideas came to my mind and I found my blog spirit again! Let’s hope that it will stay like this for a while ;)

 

 

 

December

December was the month where I was fully immersed in the city’s beauty. I went to several Christmas markets and wrote a mini-series about that – check out part I (Viennese Christmas Dream in front of the City Hall), part II (with Christmas market at Spittelberg & Christmas Village Maria-Theresien-Platz), and part III (Art Advent on Karlsplatz & Christmas market Schönbrunn palace) if you’re interested in them. And I also shared my all-time Christmas cookie favourites with you – check out the recipes here.

In general, I did a lot of city-exploring, and by that, I don’t mean that I went to new corners of the city, I rather went to places that I’ve been to many times before. But recently I realised how much I was focused on other things and  that I wasn’t noticing the area around me, that I wanted to take a step back and enjoy my surroundings a bit more.

As you can see, in the last few months I was unable to really do much travelling (September’s the exception here). I was kinda stuck in Vienna. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vienna and it’s been really nice to explore the city after being away for almost 2 years, but my feet are itching and I can’t wait to travel some more. Hopefully, the new year will bring some new travel adventures ;) And let me tell you, I’m currently planning a few trips… yay!

Christmas markets in Vienna: part III.

The time has come, Christmas is around the corner, and everyone’s getting ready for the big holidays. I’m staying with my family over the holidays, and I’m really looking forward to some – hopefully – quiet time at home. Especially in the past few days, the city has been crazy – people on the hunt for their last Christmas gifts or just leisurely strolling around. Both can be pretty annoying to someone who has to go to meetings and zig-zag through the crowd. But I totally get it and I wish every single one a joyful day in Vienna.

This post will be part III and thus the final one of the mini-series on Viennese Christmas markets. I’ll show you two of my favourites, the Art Advent at Karlsplatz, and the Christmas Market Schloss Schönbrunn. If you’re interested in more – check out the previous parts here and here :)

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Easy Christmas baking: plant-based edition.

During this festive time of the year when everything’s decorated and people are in a festive (slightly stressed-out) mood, the lovely smell of baked goods is a perfect addition to the overall atmosphere. Spending a day in your own kitchen to bake Christmas cookies – sometimes more, sometimes less successful – is a lovely time that I wouldn’t want to miss, even though it can cost some nerves – especially when you’re baking with an oven that you’re not really used to (even though you’ve been living in the apartment for a few months now…).

The time before Christmas should also be given the name of butter-season. If you really think of it – most of the delicious baked goods consist mainly of butter. But this is by no means a rant on butter, au contraire, this is rather an ode to it. Well, okay, in my case it’s more an ode to plant-based alternatives.

Most of the cookies that my family bakes happen to be vegan anyways, so it is super easy to make plant-based Christmas cookies if you ask me. I’ll be sharing three of my all-time favourites where the dough is super easy to make (two of which are actually quite similar to each other). And if you ask me, the cookies go perfectly with any hot beverage like tea, coffee, or, if you’re in a very festive mood, with punch or mulled wine. The other day I served the cookies with a non-alcoholic version of hot cider. Delicious combination!

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Vanilla Crescents

For the first type of cookie, the Vanillekipferl as we call them, my mom keeps telling me that it is of utmost importance to be very quick while preparing the dough, and the room in which you’re preparing the dough should be rather cold (or at least you should use cold ingredients). And she got that from my grandma. So my mom’s actually making them in one of the coldest part of the house where there’s no heater – in our pantry :D Well, I don’t have a pantry, but my flat is usually cold anyways and I was using cold ingredients as well. But maybe keep this in mind in case you’re trying the recipe ;) I must admit, the vanilla crescents are my least favourite cookies to make. I mess up the dough all of the time, and they are rather prone to break, and I seem to never be able to get the perfect crescent shape. However, they’re still yummy and they are a Christmas cookie staple.

What you need:

  • 140g plant-based margarine
  • 3 tbsp. plant-based milk alternative (I used oat milk)
  • 200g flour
  • 100g grounded almonds
  • 90g powdered sugar
  • 1 package vanilla sugar

How to make them:

For the dough, mix the margarine with the the plant-based milk alternative and the sugar. Add the flour and almonds and combine it to a dough. Make sure to not overwork the dough. Cover the dough with clingfilm and set it aside in the fridge to cool for at least an hour, but it’s even better to refrigerate overnight.

Divide the dough into small pieces and roll out each of them with your hand into strands with about 1-2 cm diameter and 3-4 cm long. Shape them into crescents (if you wanna make them perfect you should make the ends slightly thinner, which I didn’t). Place the crescents onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Backe them in a 175-180°C oven for about 13-15 minutes until lightly colored. Be sure to check them after a while to make sure that they are not too brown (this can happen very fast!).

For the coating, mix sifted powdered sugar and vanilla sugar. Carefully remove the crescents from the baking sheet when they’re done and let them cool for around 1 minute. Roll them in the sugar-vanilla mixture and transfer them to a plate. If you’re lazy and you don’t wanna risk breaking the small crescents you can just sprinkle them with the mixture, that’ll do the trick.

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Linzer Augen

The Linzer Augen, “Eyes from Linz” so to say, are one of my favourite kind of Christmas cookies. They are super easy to make, and there’s not a lot of decoration going on but they still taste delicious in my opinion. Also, because I grew up near/in Linz, I like them even more ;)

What you need:

  • 250g margarine
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 1 package vanilla sugar
  • 350g flour
  • jam

How to make them:

In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, almond meal & then work in the butter into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. You can either do this with a fork or a mixer / food processor or simply by hand. Then just combine the mixture with your hands and shape them into a dough. Make sure not to overwork the dough! Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or overnight, if you want to).

Preheat the oven to 180°C. On a floured surface, roll out the dogh (1cm thick). Cut out the cookies, and if you want to you can cut 3 small holes (the “eyes”) in half of your cookies, simply do this with a straw in case you don’t have the special cookie cutter for this part. You can also just skip this part, but then it wouldn’t be the traditional Linzer Augen ;)

Put your cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment papaer. Make sure that the cookies on one baking sheet have a similar thickness. Bake them for around 8-10 minutes, until the edges turn golden (not brown!!). After they’re done, remove the cookies from the baking sheet and let them cool. On the cookies without holes, spread some jam, and put the ones with the wholes on top of them. Voilá, you’ve got your Linzer Augen! Oh, and you can dust them with powdered sugar if you want to. Enjoy!

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Almond Wedges

What you need for the short pastry

  • 200g plant-based margarine, soft
  • 400g flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tbsp. almond drink (or any other plant-based milk alternative)

What you need for the topping

  • 200g chopped almonds
  • 50g sliced almonds
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 40g cane sugar
  • 20g sugar
  • 100g plant-based margarine
  • 150-200ml almond drink (or any other plant-based milk alternative)
  • jam
  • 200g dark chocolate

How to make them: 

For the dough, mix all the in a big mixing bowl and knead them to a dough. Make sure not to overdo the kneading, this might ruin your dough. Form a ball, cover it with clingfilm and set aside in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.

For the topping, place the chopped & slices almonds and sugar in a small saucepan and roast them until gold brown. Add the margarine and ground almonds, stirring occasionally so everything dissolves. Add the almond milk and bring to a boil (don’t forget to stir!). Remove from heat and let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll the dough out into a thin rectangle the size of a baking sheet. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and take a fork to perforate the surface with it. Spread any jam of your liking (I had some kind of almond jam at home, but apricot jam would fit perfectly as well) over the dough, and then distribute the nut mixture on top. Bake for around 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

While it is still warm, cut into triangles. After letting it cool down completely, you can dip the edges of the wedges (hah, this rhymes!) into melted chocolate. Then you can cool this on a wire rack so the chocolate coating solidifies. Enjoy!

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As you can see, you actually don’t need that many ingredients to make any of the cookies. The main ingredients are the usual kitchen staples – margarine, sugar & flour. And they’re super easy to make – you can prepare the dough the night before in case you haven’t got that much time on your hand. And baking cookies can be such a comforting activity (unless something goes wrong with the dough… we’ve all been there!), don’t you agree? Tell me, what’s your favourite Christmas cookie?