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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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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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

Parks & Recreation: Park Pobedy.

Moscow is one of the biggest cities in the world, and it is known for its pompous architecture and great boulevards. Many of the concrete structures are a reminder of past times which are still vivid in the people’s hearts, minds, and memories. One example of such a structure or area is Park Pobedy, a grand park located in the (South-)Western corner of Moscow.

Park Pobedy, or Парк Победы, was constructed in honour of the country’s victory in World War II or, as the Russians remember it, Great Patriotic War. It’s also where the name comes from – Pobeda meaning victory, so it’s the Park of Victory. It is actually a vast memorial complex that includes many monuments, fountains, museums, and a church, synagogue, and mosque. Every year on May 9, Russia celebrates Victory Day in which this park becomes the centre of celebrations.

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The park at Poklonnaya Hill is set as a reminder that Russia and its citizen suffered a great deal during the war. The area actually used to be the tallest point of Moscow and was an open-air museum to remind of Russia’s victory over Napoleon. The hill was leveled down to the ground in 1987 and has been gradually turned into the war memorial it is today.

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Right at the entrance to the park there is a long promenade that gives a great view over the area and the surrounding city. This big road lined with fountains leads to the obelisk, a war memorial museum and an exhibition of tanks, war planes, and other weaponry. The park ends into a forest.

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The park was carefully constructed, and certain numbers were kept in mind when planning it. For example, the central avenue, the “Years of War”, has five terraces which links to the five years of conflict. A total of 1,418 fountains can be found there – one for every day. The memorial chapel, mosque, and synagogue are for the different religions of the fallen soldiers. The height of the obelisk with a statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, represents every day of Russia’s participation in WWII (141.8 metres, 10 cm for a day). In 2005, 15 pompous bronze columns that symbolise the main fronts and navies of the Red Army were added.

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What I especially liked about this park is that it is such a huge “empty” space within such a big city. It is such an interesting feeling that you get when walking around in such a massive park surrounded by skyscrapers. It is a mix of feeling secluded from everything but also being in the middle of a huge town.


The Museum of the Great Patriotic War is open TUE, WED, SUN 10:00–20:00 & THU, FRU, SAT 10:00–20:50. The entrance ticket for the museum is 300 rubles (4.30€ or 5.05 USD), or for the whole exhibition area 400 rubles (5.74€ or 6.73USD). The park area is free.

Travelling through Austria: St.Pölten.

The last one still missing on my Austrian province capitals to travel to was St.Pölten. This is only partly correct because I’ve been to a music festival in the city 3 or 4 times but this was ages ago and I never really explored the city. St. Pölten is one of those cities that hardly anyone ever really travels to for tourist reasons, and I’ve never really had a good enough reason to go there. But in order to see my friend Madlene (my Russia travel buddy) we decided to (more or less) meet half way between our homes and ended up spending a few hours in St. Pölten. I finally made it to all nine state capitals of Austria! Whoop whoop!

The city

St. Pölten is located in the northern parts of Austria, 65km west of Vienna, north of the Alps, on the Traisen river. It is the largest city and the capital of the largest state – Lower Austria. The city is the 9th biggest town in population, with only 52,700 people living there. Noteworthy though is that St. Pölten is one of the oldest official towns of Austria (which means it was given special privileges by someone in 1159) and celebrated its 850th anniversary in 2009.

St. Pölten has always been a rather sleepy village throughout history, which only changed in the late 19th century. The rapid growth & development of the Austrian Empire gave reason to extend the railway network and connect the city to Vienna. Only in 1986 was St. Pölten made capital of Lower Austria. Previously, the province was administered from Vienna but this was deemed not suitable any longer and a referendum was held in which St.Pölten was chosen as the new place to be. This also lead to the construction of the Landhaus governmental district.

The sights

Due to the size of the city there is actually not much to see or do there, but enough to spend a few hours there. The best way of exploring this small city is definitely by just walking around aimlessly and one will pass by every major sight in the end.

After arriving at the central train station we headed south and walked past the Stöhr House on Kremsergasse (the shopping lane of town, which was of course closed because of the fact that it was a Sunday). This is a Jugendstil house that was built by the same architect as the Vienna Secession building, Joseph Maria Olbrich. Stöhr derives from a local artist who was influenced by the Secession Movement. The Cathedral is one of the most prominent buildings of St Pölten. Erected on a 13th century square and associated with an Augustinian monastery, the church was actually built in the early 18th century.

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The Rathaus (Town Hall) is the official landmark of the city. The house was bought by the city in 1503 (so I guess it was erected before that date) and was at a later point refurbished with a Baroque facade but still has various architectural styles united in one building (eg. a Renaissance style tower). The Town Hall is surrounded by many other great architectural pieces and is located on a big square (the Town Hall Square, surprise surprise) with the Holy Trinity column (which can be found in every major city in Austria I guess).

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One of the brand-new parts of the town is the Landhausviertel Quarter. This is where one can find a more modern architecture, and the 67-metre high Klangturm (“Sound Tower”) throning over everything. Opened in 1996 this tower is a landmark for sound art, and home to an info center and an observation deck that is open 365 days of the year, free of charge! The view from up there is just great, one almost has a 360° view over the whole city and its surroundings. And there are super comfy wooden seats up there which are a mix of a deckchair and a rocking chair.

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Other interesting buildings in this quarter are the Landesmuseum (the local museum of Lower Austria), the Festival Hall, and the Waterpark by the river.

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The food

There weren’t that many options for us to choose from as we did not want to eat typical Austrian food, and it had to have vegetarian/vegan options. As it’s usually very common for Austrian restaurants to be closed on a Sunday (which is really absurd if you ask me) this was another fact to consider. So we ended up going to one of the only Pakistani/Indian restaurants of the city. Rajput turned out to be quite a nice stay, the place was super interesting (with something like Christmas decorations?) and the staff was super friendly. What I especially liked about this place was that one had the possibility to make every dish on the menu vegan! So many options for me to choose from! Yay! The place was packed and we were quite lucky to get a seat, so I think it’s a very popular spot for a late lunch or early dinner on a Sunday. The food was quite good and cheap as well, but to be honest I’ve had better Indian/Pakistani food before, but to their defence I eat and cook quite a lot of Indian/Pakistani food so I know my way around this cuisine.

The bottom line

Funnily enough the whole city was dead, hardly anyone was actually walking on the streets. The only things missing were howling coyotes and tumbleweed. Especially in the Landhausviertel we only saw one or two people walking around. It felt so empty and lifeless there, which was actually great for exploring everything & taking pictures of the architecture. My favourite of the town was definitely the Klangturm – I like everything with a great view (especially if it’s free!) – and the Traisen river (it’s possible to just go there and bathe in it, perfect for summer!). There’s really not a lot to do in this small city (correct me if I’m wrong!), but I’m glad that I can finally tick this city off my list.

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Travelling through Austria: Salzburg.

Salzburg. The city of the classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Home to the renowned Salzburg Festival, an annual cultural event held in July and August, with music and drama and the play Jedermann (Everymann) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal as the annual highlight. A city with magnificent architecture and many great Baroque examples. The shooting location of the classic movie The Sound of Music that isn’t even that famous or popular in Austria. Apparently Salzburg is a place for everyone during every season. Despite actually liking The Sound of Music a lot, my last visit to this town was during a school visit around 10 years ago. So a while ago. At the end of summer I decided that it was time to change that. I hopped on a train and spent an afternoon in Salzburg and also met up with a friend of mine (Moscow Reunion #?).

The city

Salzburg is close to the border with Germany, and is divided by the river Salzach. The Oldtown underneath the Mönchsberg and the Hohensalzburg Fortress is located on the left side of the river, whereas the ‘New Town’ is on the right side, south of the Kapuzinerberg. With a population of around 150,000 people the city is the fourth largest one in Austria (after Vienna, Graz, and Linz). It is also the capital city of the federal province Salzburg. The city’s name derives from ‘salt castle’ and comes from the salt mining done around the city.

Salzburg actually has quite a long & rich history, reaching back to the Stone Age. Key events that made the region and city important happened during the Middle Ages, especially in the Baroque times of the 17th and 18th century when many great buildings were erected. A former independent country – a prince-bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire with Salzburg as the seat of the Archbishopric – Salzburg was annexed to the Habsburg Monarchy in 1816 because the Archbishops lost their secular power as a result of the Napoleonic wars and lost much of its economical cultural prosperity. At the end of the 19th century the city was finally able to recover, and after WW1 the famous Salzburg Festival was founded. It started to become a fashionable place to be during summer, especially because of this event. The city became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in honour of the unique baroque architecture in 1997. Besides that and being the home of Mozart and the shooting location of The Sound of Music there is a lot to discover in Salzburg – the rich art scene, the many restaurants and cafés, manicured parks, and the narrow streets with many shops and boutiques make it a wonderful place. And the many tourists that venture to this city can agree with me on that. Salzburg is Austria’s second most visited city after Vienna.

The sights

After arriving at the central train station one of the first sights that one encounters en route to the old town is the Mirabell Palace. The name derives from mirabile & bella – admirable & beautiful – and is a perfect description for the palace and its garden if you ask me. Erected in 1606 for the archbishop and his mistress as a pleasure palace, it can now be booked for weddings and is also home to municipal offices.

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The Mirabell Garden in its underlying geometric form (typical for Baroque) is perfect for taking a stroll on a warm sunny afternoon. And on all other days as well. It is one of the shooting locations of The Sound of Music movie. Sounding like a modern fairy tale but it actually happened: the story of the Trapp family. A young woman leaves a convent to become the governess to the seven children of a Naval officer widower in the 1930s. They get married (surprise surprise), found a family choir, emigrate to the US (because of the growing popularity of the Nazis in Austria) and gain international success and fame. The ‘Sound of Music’ movie portrays this story, and even won five oscars. It is loaded with stereotypes about Austrian people, and no, we (the Austrian people) don’t sing that much.

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Crossing the Salzach via the pedestrian bridge (that always reminds me of the Harry Potter Bridge – the Millenium Bridge in London – even though it has no similarity to it at all) one already gets a glimpse of the old town with its baroque buildings and of course the Hohensalzburg Castle on top of the Festungsberg. This is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe and was built in the early 11th century. My friend Viktoria and I decided not to go up there and spend the afternoon in the old town instead.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and grew up in this city, visitors bump into Mozart around almost every corner of Salzburg. Almost the entire old town is a walkable Mozart museum: his birthplace, former residence, a monument, the grave of his sister and so on. In my opinion both his former residence and birthplace are rather unspectacular from the outside (I’ve never been inside though), but it’s still a tourist attraction nonetheless. The funny thing to me was that in the house of his birthplace there is now a super fancy looking supermarket that is actually just a regular one.

One of the most pompous places in Salzburg is the Residenzplatz, a large square in the historic centre. Its name derives from the residence of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg. The Salzburg Cathedral, founded in 774 and rebuilt in the 12th c., is located in the south and the Alte Reisdenz in the west. There is also the Neue Residenz with a bell tower, a Renaissance building that was erected in the 16th century. Also around the corner is the rather prominent statue of a huge gold ball on top of which a man is standing. This is part of an art installation – the Sphaera – by the German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol.

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The food & sweets

A restaurant chain that was founded in Salzburg is my Indigo. They offer food that is healthy, versatile and perfect for those that do not have that much time to eat but still want to grab something healthy for lunch or dinner. Sushi, salads, curries, and soups are on their menu. Many of their dishes are either vegetarian or vegan, and they also have a lot of gluten-free options as well. I went for a vegan curry (low carb option – so with more veggies and no rice or couscous) and it was truly delicious. Feel good food for everyone. The restaurant that we went to is located near Staatsbrücke on Rudolfskai, and is open Mo–Sa 11:00–23:00 & So 12:00–21:00.

The go-to souvenir and typical confectionary of Austria – the Mozartkugel – has its origin in Salzburg. The small round confection made of pistachio marzipan, nougat, and dark chocolate was first created by the Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst in 1890, then known as Mozart-Bonbon. Fürst’s descendants still manufacture this confectionary and sell it in their bakery in the heart of the old town. For 1.30€ per piece one can buy one of those and go into Mozart-heaven. Even if one doesn’t like marzipan (I don’t) one should definitely try them at least once.

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A coffee and a piece of cake is a must in a city like Salzburg. The Café Fingerlos is a great place for doing that. It’s a very typical and rather traditional coffee house (actually it’s a patisserie and confectionary) that also offers breakfast and lunch. They have a great assortment of cakes that look really exquisite which makes it the perfect location for a person with a sweet tooth like me. Oh, and they even have a vegan cake of the day, so of course I had to try this one with a cup of good old-fashioned ‘Verlängerter’ (a typical Austrian coffee – espresso prepared with double amount of water).

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The bottom line

Unfortunately, Salzburg faces a similar problem as Prague, Venice, Barcelona and many other places do. Like them, Salzburg has too many tourists and no added value is created for the city (because of the types of tourists coming to the city and the way they consume hardly anything to nothing). The city reports many traffic jams and most of the parking lots are occupied because of the hoards of tourists coming to the city. Many tourists are brought to the city via organised bus tours and only spend 2-3 hours in the city and don’t consume much but still overcrowd the historic old town. Many of the locals avoid going to this place at certain points of the day because of the many tourists. (read more about the problem here)

This should in no way discourage you from visiting this beautiful city though. However, I must admit that this was also a reason for me why I haven’t visited this city in such a long time: everyone’s always talking about the hoard of tourists roaming the city, making it less enjoyable. Nevertheless, I like the city, especially because of its wonderful architecture. I’d never want to live there though, but for a day visit it’s a great place. And you should pick a weekday and not a weekend to visit, there are definitely less people there. Oh, and it helps if it’s a rather gloomy day :)

Here’s my favourite Sound of Music song. I couldn’t withhold it from you. A great end to a blogpost, don’t you think? Enjoy. ;)

 

 

 

Travel and boat adventure: Bratislava.

Slovakia – apparently the country with the highest number of castles and chateaux per capita. A country that claims to be the geographical midpoint of Europe (however, 7 other European villages claim to host this one as well). The interest in the country as a tourist spot is increasing, and the capital has been reporting over a million visitors per year in recent years, most of them coming from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Austria. So it’s been long overdue for me to pay our neighbours a visit, and at the beginning of September – at the end of summer – I finally had the time for doing so.

The city

Bratislava is situated in the southwest of the country. It is the only capital in the world bordering two independent countries, namely Austria and Hungary. It is located on the banks of the river Danube and the river Morava. With a population of about 450,000 Bratislava is the largest city of Slovakia.

The history of Bratislava has been strongly influenced by various nationalities besides the Slovaks, e.g. Austrians, Croats, Czechs, Hungarians. The city has always been flourishing, mainly because of the beneficial location on the Danube and at the intersections of important trade routes. It used to be the coronation site & legislative center of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1536 to 1783, and strongly connected to Vienna economically, culturally, and politically. Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa had the castle in Bratislava rebuilt in the 18th century so she could use it as a summer residence. However, the former advantageous location of the town suddenly turned into a misfortunate position after the communists came to power in 1948. The Iron Curtain was drawn which could already be seen from the city center, dividing what had once been united in many ways. The fall of communism in 1989 made it possible to once again develop the city, and re-establish relations with their neighbours. The entry into the European Union in 2004 has further lead to growth and development.

City sights

Upon arrival at the bus station we headed straight up the castle hill to walk around for a bit in the Bratislava Castle and enjoy the view over the city. The rectangular building with the four corner towers on an isolated rocky hill thrones over the city and its surrounding. From up there it provides a view over Bratislava, Austria, and sometimes even as far as Hungary. The first fortification on the hill was erected in the 9th century and a castle was first named in 907. Since then the castle had experienced several (style) changes, starting out as a stone palace, then a Gothic style fortress (15th century), followed by a rebuilding in the Renaissance style (16th c.), and in baroque style (17th c.). During the 18th century the castle was arranged according to the needs of a son-in-law of Maria Theresa, empress of the Habsburg Monarchy, turning the castle from a fortress into a residential castle. As it was usually the case when Napoleon invaded a country, the castle was heavily bombarded in 1809, and burst into flames two years later because of soldiers’ carelessness which lead to the gradually deterioration of the destroyed castle. In 1953 it was decided to restore the castle, and long restoration works began. In 2008 the castle underwent another comprehensive project with the aim of another massive restoration.

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The view from up there was really great. We could even see the windmills in Austria!

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The next prominent building of the city is definitely the St. Martin’s Cathedral, a Romanesque church that was built in the 13th century. Its tower used to serve as a defensive bastion, and the cathedral is/was part of the city walls which can still partly be seen today.

In the heart of the city centre is the Michael’s Gate with the 51 meters tall tower which can be spotted from a distance away already. Its original gothic tower was built in the 14th century but remodeled into its current baroque style in the 18th century. Underneath the tower on the street that passes through the gate is one of the ‘zero kilometre’ plates. The tower is open to the public and visitors can enjoy the view over the city from the upper terrace.

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Situated on the Main Square of the city is the Old Town Hall which dates back to the early beginnings of the mediaeval town in the 13th century. Also located not far away is the Slovak National Theatre is the oldest professional theatre in the country and was founded in 1920.

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The statues that can be found in the historic old town are noteworthy as well as they are among the most photographed attractions of the city. Čumil “the watcher” is located at the junction of Laurinská and Panská Street. Apparently it either depicts a typical communist era worker who is not bothered about the work he is supposed to be doing, or he’s just looking under the skirts of women. The Schöne Naci standing on Sedlárska Street is an old man with a hat and apparently the only statue of a real existing person, namely Ignac Lamar who lived in the city in the 19th/20th century and was always seen in top hat and tails, greeting women with the words ‘I kiss your hand’ in various languages and giving them flowers. The Napoleon Soldier leaning on a bench can be found on the Main Square near the Old Town Hall. Allegedly he fell in love with a Slovak girl, stayed in the city and became a producer of sparkling wine. A very important Slovak poet – Hviezdoslav – ca ben found on a square named after him. A few meters further down the square there is also a statue of Hans Christian Andersen, but I have no idea why there’s a statue of him in Bratislava – he’s Danish.

The world’s longest cable-stayed bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane is located in Bratislava – the Most SNP (Most Slovenského národného povstania / Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising), or also called UFO Bridge. It is one out of 5 bridges over the Danube in Bratislava. The most noticeable thing about this bridge is definitely the flying saucer on top of the bridge’s pylon – a unique observation tower, bar & restaurant (hence the nickname of the bridge).

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Devín Castle is another beautiful spot located on the shores of the Danube atop a hill, just 10km west of Bratislava’s city centre. It is located on the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers which form the border with Austria, making it a strategic place for a royal border fort. In 1809 this castle was bombarded by Napoleon’s troops as well, and was subsequently destroyed. Paradoxically, both castles of Bratislava (Devín and Bratislava castle) were destroyed within the same two year period. However, Devín has not been restored and remains a ruin that is open to the public.

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The food

As it is often the case with a city like Bratislava (and a country like Slovakia), the local cuisine is very much influenced by other cultures that used to dominate the city at some point in history. Variety in the food during the communist area was not to be found, as filling hungry bellies was the main aim of it. Today, reminders of this era can still be found, but many restaurants have started to go above and beyond in what they are offering. Some of the traditional local dishes consist of different types of roast & grilled meat, grilled fish, fried cheese and fresh veggies.

As I was only staying for such a short time in Bratislava I only had time to try Bryndzové Halušky – thick soft potato dumplings with sheep’s milk cheese. Usually crispy streaky bacon is added on top as well, but I skipped this one. My Mom & sister had a mixed platter with  my dish, Kapustové halušky (potato dumplings with cabbage and dumplings), and pirogi with bryndza sheep cheese. So a lot of bryndza cheese for the whole family!

The Danube & our boat trip

The main reason for us going to Slovakia’s capital was actually my mom’s birthday present. She’s been telling us how she wanted to go to Bratislava by boat, so my sister and I decided to take her as a surprise. We took a bus from Vienna in the morning, and went back by boat in the afternoon. The Twin City Liner is a decent priced catamaran that connects Vienna with Bratislava via the Danube, and departs 5 times a day from each city. It takes around 75 to 90 minutes to go from one city to the other, and the sights and nature along the Danube are great.

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The bottom line

Bratislava is quite beautiful, but it reminded me a lot of Austria or the Czech Republic. But I already mentioned the influence those countries had on Bratislava/Slovakia, so I am not surprised to find so many similarities, especially if one takes into account the spatial proximity of Bratislava to Vienna.

I was rather surprised however to read afterwards that Bratislava had so many inhabitants as the city itself felt rather small to me. There were still a lot of things to discover and many cafés and restaurants to sit in and take in the city. The few hours that we had there were definitely enough for a tour through the historic old town.

Taking the boat was a great opportunity for us to discover the city and the surrounding from a very unusual viewpoint that we would not have gotten otherwise. It is a very unusual way of traveling from one city to another, and I’d definitely recommend it to people who have enough time for doing so (the bus or train would be of course cheaper and faster than the boat).

Hiking in Vienna.

Hiking is a very popular sport among Austrians, and the many hills and mountains in Austria are truly inviting. Even in the capital city hiking has a long standing tradition – many are drawn to the numerous Heurige (wine taverns), the Vienna Woods, and the vineyards that can be found in the outskirts of Vienna. In recent years it seems it has become even more popular, especially among the young generation. Needless to say, hiking was on my summer to-do list for 2017.

The city – to be more precise: the Forestry Office – has laid out eleven city hiking paths called ‘Stadtwanderweg’ that lead around the outer corners of the city through beautiful scenery and with great viewing platforms. They are all properly kept, well signposted, and accessible by public transport. There are also many picnic tables, benches, and playgrounds along the paths. People who manage to collect stamps at official stamping points along the hiking paths will even be rewarded with pins and certificates that recognise their efforts: a silver pin for 3 stamps, a golden pin for 7+ stamps. Too bad that we only found out about this after our hike, or else we would have gotten 2 pins already.

So on a mild Sunday after a rainy Saturday in August my boyfriend and I wanted to check out some of the best viewpoints over the city and decided to hike across the three hills in the north of Vienna: Leopoldsberg (425m), Kahlenberg (484m), and Hermannskogel (542m). A total of 13 kilometres, fairly easy, well-signposted (nowadays with Google Maps this is no must anymore), and the start & endpoints are easy to reach via public transport – perfect for a person who hasn’t been on a proper hike in years!

We loosely followed a suggested route, a mix of the Stadtwanderweg 1a until Kahlenberg, and later Stadtwanderweg 2. We started our tour in Nußdorf where we walked along the Danube for the first part, and then headed up the steep paved passage with a 300m altitude difference to reach the Leopoldsberg. This was definitely the toughest part, but luckily we already had a great view over the vineyards, the Danube, and parts of Vienna on our way up the hill. On top of the Leopoldsberg there is a church dedicated to St Leopold that was built in 1679 which is already clearly visible from Vienna.

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The view from up there was great – we saw parts of Lower Austria, Floridsdorf (a district of Vienna), Vienna itself, and the vineyards that lie in the north of Vienna.

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We then continued on our way to the Kahlenberg where we met hundreds of tourists on a terrace, taking selfies with the scenic view over Vienna in their backgrounds. This lead to only a brief stop to take in the view – way too many people for our taste! We could definitely see that day that the Kahlenberg is one of the most popular destinations because of the view over the entire city and even parts of lower Austria. The 165m steel tower serving as a transmitter for the Austrian Broadcast Corporation, a private university, and the Stefaniewarte, an observation tower erected in 1887, are also located on the peak of the hill.

Interesting to know: the Leopoldsberg used to have the name Kahlenberg because of the bare rocky slope down to the Danube and was later given the name Leopoldsberg after the emperor Leopold in 1693. Whereas the now-called Kahlenberg was first called Sauberg (sow mountain or pig mountain) because of the many wild pigs roaming the forests and then Josephsberg (Joseph’s Mountain) after an emperor in 1628. Only after changing the original Kahlenberg into Leopoldsberg did the now-Kahlenberg receive its final name.

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From there we first walked along the Höhenstraße but soon came to a non-paved path through the forest. It was the most quiet part of our walk, we encountered less tourists and casual walkers there. We then reached the highest natural point of Vienna – the Hermannskogel atop of which the Habsburgwarte is standing. This 27 metre tall observation tower was erected for the Habsburg emperor in 1889. In 1892 the tower was specified as kilometre zero in cartographic measurements which was used in Austria-Hungary until 1918. The lookout tower is open for the public for a small entrance fee on weekends during summer. Luckily the sun was shining and most of the clouds were already gone, so the view was great from up there!

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We then started our ‘descent’ in order to get back home, but made a quick coffee break at the restaurant “Grüass di a Gott Wirt” which was quite funny because this place had chicken and a rooster running around in the outdoor seating area, not minding all the people sitting there. A true countryside feeling I must say! The final kilometres took us through a forest and past some other beautiful vineyards with a view over the outskirts of Vienna.

The hike was fairly easy, but the first part was quite tough. It is definitely not suited for strollers or wheelcharis because of the steps on the Nasenweg (the steep part at the beginning). However, hiking boots are not a must, but solid footwear is definitely recommended. We walked for around 5 hours, but had many breaks to enjoy the view, look at the nature, eat our lunch, go up the observation tower, or have a coffee. The Leopoldsberg and Kahlenberg are both reachable via public transport (Bus 38A), so if you ever want to enjoy the view but don’t want to hike or don’t have the time for doing so – that’s a great option as well.

A city of canals: Amsterdam.

Amsterdam – a city with over a thousand bridges – 1,281 to be exact – over 165 canals. A city famous for its coffeeshops and the Red Light District. A city known for its cultural institutions like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. Easy-going, open mindedness, diversity, Canal Pride. A city known for its I Amsterdam letters.

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I’ve always been interested in this place but never got around to actually going there. It feels as if all of my friends have already been there (and probably everyone else as well), but I am always rather late with going to the ‘trendy’ places. However, the time had come for me to take a trip to the city and check it out for myself and see whether it would be as beautiful as most are rapturing about or if I’d be not impressed at all.

The city

Amsterdam is the Netherland’s largest city, but with a population of over 850,000 people it is only the 27th largest city in Europe, and around one million people smaller than Vienna. The country’s government is in The Hague, but Amsterdam is still the nominal capital and gets the most visitors per year: 15 million day-visitors, and 3.5 million of them are foreigners. Fore more facts and figures, check this website.

I read online that the number of bicycles who land in the city’s canals every year is 25,000! That’s no surprise to me, as there are so many canals and so many fietsers (cyclists) in Amsterdam – over 600,000!

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Apart from all the canals and many cyclists that dominate the urban image of Amsterdam, there are of course other beautiful sides of the city. The colourful buildings lining the canals with the charming gabled facades, often very luxurious, is a perfect example for the architectural treasures of the city. The Munttoren (Mint Tower) is a tower standing on the Muntplein square near the flower market and was originally part of the city wall and built in 1480. This tower is not only great to look at, but there is also a carillon consisting of 38 bells on top of the tower which are chiming every quarter of an hour.

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The Dam Square, a town square that was created in the 13th century, is also well-known for its architecture and various events that are held there. The square is lined with food stalls, restaurants and shops such as the Bijenkorf or Magna Plaza, a Madam Tussauds, an old Stock Exchange building and the hotel Krasnapolsky. The National Memorial statue is also on the Dam Square – a memory of Dutch soldiers who died during WWII. The most prominent building on the square though is the grand 17th century Royal Palace – the Koninklijk Palace. It is, however, no longer home to the Dutch Royal family (who are located in The Hague), but the palace is still used for official receptions.

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Another prominent square of the city is definitely the Museumplein, which is the cultural beating heart of Amsterdam (in terms of museums). The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art are located there. Oh – and an I Amsterdam letter with hundreds of people in front, behind, on top of it etc is there as well.

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The local food

Despite some people arguing that there is no typical dutch cuisine, the dutch do like to fry things, the local cuisine is high in carbohydrates and fat and very heavy on the meat side.. So I did not really get around to trying Bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs), Raw Herring, Kibbeling (battered and deep fried morsels of white fish) or Stamppot (‘mash pot’ – mashed potatoes with veggies and sausages).

However, I had Stroopwafels – two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup. And I had the thick Dutch fries. Twice. Once I got them from a small shop in the typical piping hot paper cone slathered with ketchup, and the second time I had them in a vegan stew with jackfruit and vegan mayo at the Noorderlicht in NDSM. Very delicious I must say, but two times thick fries within 24 hours was more than enough for me. :D

I also tried pannenkoek, a Dutch pancake that is usually larger and thinner than an American pancake, but thicker than a Crêpe. It reminded me a lot of our Austrian Palatschinken or the Russian Bliny, but the Dutch pannenkoek is usually not rolled, and can be savoury or sweet. I had a savoury one with goat cheese, spinach, pine nuts and garlic oil. It was definitely too heavy on the oil for my taste, and way too big of a portion, but I’m glad I tried it :D

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A place that my friend and I actually only stumbled upon but turned out to be really interesting and cozy was Ivy & bros. They do serve various sorts of savoury and sweet dishes, and have good coffee as well. The interior is quite peculiar with odd bits and pieces here and there, and the staff is really nice and friendly. However, one has to get used to the fact that the café/shop is located right next to window brothels as it is situated in De Wallen – the red light district.

The markets

In Amsterdam one can find various types of markets such as flea markets or regular farmer’s markets, some of which have been open since the early 20th century. One of the old ones is Albert Cuyp Market which has been in existence since 1904. With over 300 stalls lining both sides of the Albert Cuyp market in the neighbourhood of De Pijp the market is probably the biggest one in Amsterdam. One can find fruits, veggies, cheese, fish, spices, clothes, cosmetics etc. there. Basically everything at a relatively cheap price. This is also the market where I had a giant freshly made Stroopwafel at the “Goudse Stroopwafel” stall for just 1.50 EUR. The Albert Cuyp market is open Mon – Sat from 9:30 – 17:00.

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The Netherlands are known for their flowers, so a visit to the city’s flower market is a must. Actually, we only happened to stumble upon it when walking around without no clear direction. Apparently the Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world as the stalls are actually standing on houseboats.  This market began trading in 1862 and is a truly colourful part of the city. One can find all sorts of flowers there, especially tulips, in bouquets, single flowers or bulbs. And loads of cacti! This flower market is located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein, and is open Mon-Sat 9:00 – 17.30 and Sun 11:30 – 17:30.

NDSM

One of the really trendy areas of Amsterdam is definitely NDSM. It used to be a shipyard until 1979 which transformed into a thriving cultural hotspot that bustles with artists’ works. A creative hub, an edgy art community, making it appealing for the new generation of creatives and entrepreneurs

One can reach this area by a ferry (free of charge!) from the main train station of the city. Upon arrival one first spots the old Russian submarine and a crane that is a boutique hotel now. The area definitely has a rustic feeling to it, especially the hangars and containers. Street art is present almost on every corner though, so there is quite a lot to explore there.

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NDSM – Nederlandse Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) – is home to festivals throughout the year and a monthly flea market in the IJ-hallen. There are various cafés and restaurants where one can get delicious food and drinks but also enjoy the waterfront and the view of the city. One of those café/restaurant is the Noorderlicht where I had a really delicious and affordable vegan stew.

The bottom line

I would never wanna live in the city center, especially around the Red Light District with all the window brothels and the coffeeshops as I’d just not be comfortable around this area, and the main reason for this is definitely the tourist hordes. From time to time it was really annoying trying to get through the crowds, especially during the evening. I assume, though, that the average citizen does not often go to the city center (as it’s the case with most bigger cities) so it might be less annoying. And fair enough, my friend Carina and I did choose a weekend at the end of summer, and the weather was really good, so we already expected loads of tourists being there at the same time as we would be.

However, my short weekend trip to Amsterdam clearly reminded me of how much I like a city with canals! Copenhagen is full of them as well, but not to the extent of Amsterdam. It might be true that after a while every bridge, every canal, ever building along a canal might look the same (or at least similar) and that after a while you can’t even notice the difference anymore. However, I immediately fell in love with the town, and especially the parts off the beaten tourist paths are especially charming. Another nice add-on to the fact that I liked the city was the little Moscow reunion with my friend Katharina who was so kind enough to show us around town and answer (almost) all our questions we had about Amsterdam.

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Italian Adventure: Udine.

Last year I went on my first real family holiday trip abroad. My mom has always wanted to go to Venice, so my sister and I decided it was about time that she got to see the city of her dreams which I have shared with you in this blogpost from 2016. On our way to Venice, we made a short stop so we could explore another city that is located right between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps: Udine.

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The city

Udine is located in the north-east of Italy, in the Firuli-Venezia Giulia region. With a bit over 99,000 inhabitants, the city is fairly small but the second largest in Friuli (after Trieste). The city’s main income derives from commerce (with various commercial centres in the hinterland), and the iron and mechanical industries.

The city was first mentioned in AD 983; however, it has been inhabited since the Neolithic age and was part of the Western Roman Empire. Udine became a more prominent city in the Middle Ages, as the patriarchs of Aquileia moved the seat of their government there, established a market, and transformed the city into a thriving and busy regional centre of trade and commerce. Udine was conquered by the Republic of Venice in the 15th century, and an almost 400 year reign of the Republic followed, which also lead to a decline in the city’s importance. Udine was annexed to the Austrian empire in 1797 and remained part of Austria until 1866 when it joined the Kingdom of Italy which became the Italy we know today.

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The sights

After arriving in Udine one immediately spots the Castle of Udine which stands atop of a 136-metre-hill overlooking the city. The Chiesa Santa Maria di Castello, a church, and a bell tower with a bronze angel on top of it which turns according to the wind direction, are seen instantly. The castle used to be home to noblemen, patriarchs, and Venetian lieutnants, but has been hosting the Civic Museums and Art & History Galleries since 1906.

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The ancient centre of the town with many elegant buildings, charming loggias and squares is evidence of the reign of the Republic of Venice over this region. The lion of St Mark, a symbol of Venice, can be seen carved prominently on some of the buildings on the Piazza della Libertà. This piazza is the oldest square of Udine, the heart of the town, and located right at the foot of Udine’s castle. The Loggia di San Giovanni is one of the prominent buildings on this square, built between 1533 and 1535, with its clock tower that dates back to 1527.

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Udine_sights_piazza della liberta_loggia

Udine_sights_piazza della liberta_piazza_square

Udine is considered the city of Tiepolo, a venetian artist from the 18th century who reached his artistic maturity there, as many of his masterpieces are preserved in Udine. One example would be the fresco of the Duomo, the cathedral and the city’s most important church that was built in 1257. It is located on the Piazza Duomo, not far from the main streets of the city centre.

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The Piazza San Giacomo is another big square in the centre of Udine. The city’s central market place was moved to this square in the 13th century, and a church was established as well.

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Udine_sights_piazza san giacomo_buildings

Udine_sights_piazza san giacomo_square_

The bottom line

One can clearly see that tourism is not the focus of the city, and it is definitely not the most fancy city of Italy. Many of the buildings that we encountered on our walk through the city centre were clearly ill-kept, especially some facades of some buildings. I was really surprised that on prominent squares there were many decayed facades on some of the buildings. Nevertheless, the city somehow gave us a true feeling of Italy, and the view over the city and the mountains in the north on top of the hill of the Udine Castle was great. I also liked the small streets in the city centre, with all the small shops and boutiques, great facades and beautiful window shutters.

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