Lakes in Austria: Lake Neusiedl.

Quite a lot of (Austrian) people sneer at Austria’s biggest lake – lake Neusiedl.’The lake is dirty, it is not very deep. Not a real lake.’ At least I sometimes have the feeling that they do ;) Nevertheless, I still kinda like it there and find it charming. After many years since my last trip to it I wanted to revisit it. So I grasped at an opportunity to go there to have breakfast and enjoy the view before returning to Vienna.

The Lake

The Lake Neusiedl is located in the East of Austria, in the state of Burgenland. The Neusiedlersee (how we call it in German) is with 315 kmthe largest ‘endorheic’ lake in Central Europe, which means it retains the water within the lake and there are not outflowing rivers. The Neusiedlersee lies both in Austria and Hungary, and it is also the largest lake that we have in Austria (Austrian’s share of the Lake Constance is very small in comparison to the part of the Neusiedlersee that is within the Austrian border). With around 1.5 metres deep, the lake Neusiedl is also the most westerly steppe lake in Eurasia. Reeds predominantly cover the surface of the lake, and with its mild climate the area is perfect for plants and animals to flourish.

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In December 2001, the cross-border ‘Ferto/Neusiedler See Cultural Landscape’ was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list, so the surroundings and the lake were recognised for its ‘universal value’. Near the lake there are many vineyards one can visit, the lake and its surrounding are perfect for water enthusiasts, cyclers, bird watchers and nature lovers. And in winter there are some activities you can do on the ice as well, for example ice skating, which seemed to be a very popular activity last winter.

Quite some time ago (I think it was in 2008) I even got a boating certificate at the lake Neusiedl in the course of a school trip. So when I was a bit younger I spent a nice week doing lots of sports and enjoying a vineyard tour at and near the lake. I even swam in there once, but due to the shallow water I would not recommend doing it again :D

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Neusiedl and Mole West

Coming from Vienna we decided to drive to one of the nearest towns next to the lake so we opted for ‘Neusiedl am See’, a town with around 7,800 inhabitants. It is located on the northern shore of the lake. We only drove through the town, passing all the cute colourful buildings on the main street, and went straight to the lake. After doing some research the day before we ended up at the Mole West, a very nice looking café/restaurant right on (or next to?) the lake. The place is very modern, with a lot of glass, teak and steel. We were lucky and got a table right next to the huge glass wall so we could truly enjoy the beautiful view over the lake while eating our breakfast. It was very delicious yet slightly overpriced but I guess the prime location and the view increase the price of the food.

During spring and summer it is open daily fro 9AM – 24:00, and you can enjoy your drinks and food outside on a terrace overlooking the waterfront. This calls for a revisit sometime when it is really warm outside, right?!

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Despite only spending one morning there back in February when the lake was still partially frozen and the day was rather dark and gloomy, it was beautiful and very calming. I have managed to go to the lake during spring, summer and now winter, to see the lake during different times from different angles. Admittedly, the lake does not have the purest, bluest water possible, it is rather dark and dirty, but personally, I think you don’t need that in every lake. There are no mountains nearby, the lake has such an ‘endless’ feeling to it. I loved it there and will for sure go there once again in the future.

First real Russian travel adventure: Nizhny Novgorod.

After finally getting my passport back from the international office I was able to travel within Russia. I seized the chance immediately and together with three friends we went to the nearest ‘megacity’ of Moscow: Ни́жний Но́вгород (Nizhny Novgorod).

Nizhny Novgorod is a 1.2 million city (5h biggest in Russia), located 400 km east of Moscow (around 3-4 hour train ride), in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast of Russia. The city’s name used to be Gorky (Горький) from 1932 til 1990, as the writer Maxim Gorky was born there. The city is located where the Oka river empties into the Volga. The main center is the Kremlin, which is home to the main government agencies of the city and the Volga Federal District. The Kremlin has never been captured, and during the Time of Troubles (Polish invasion in Russia, early 17th century), Nizhny Novgorod ‘saved’ Moscow and Russia.

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We took a train and arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Exiting the train station we were already greeted by a totally different feeling than the one in Moscow. It was still busy on the streets, especially near the station, where there were shopping centres and such. However, one of the first buildings that we noticed was a skyscraper that looked a bit shady…

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Our river accommodation

Due to the spontaneity and the problems we had when trying to buy train tickets online (impossible to do that) we booked a place to stay very last minute without having a proper look at it. The deciding factors were that it should be close to the train station, have a good price, and fairly good reviews. Found one, booked it. Upon arrival we realised that we had booked a room on a houseboat. The hostel was on the river. In hindsight I should have comprehended solely by translating the name of the hostel into English. My ‘mistake’. It was a great experience nevertheless – it was super super cheap, the location was great, the rooms were clean, and we had a room to ourselves as there were hardly any other guests. The staff didn’t speak English to (but we managed) and it took them quite some time to have us checked in though.

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Pedestrian street

On our first day in the city we decided just to take a walk along the Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa, where many cafes, stores and clubs are located.

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Monument of Minin

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Monument of Chkalov, a famous Soviet pilot

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Panorama of the Volga & the Chkalov Stairs

For dinner we went to a place called Moloko (Milk) which is also located near the main pedestrian street. The interior is very stylish, with sofas and aged wooden panelling. Afterwards we went for beer that did not taste like beer in a beer brewery thing, and later to a British Pub.

Russian Breakfast

As none of us has already had a typical Russian breakfast yet, we wanted to try one in Nizhny. We read about a Russian place, Bezukhov, which was supposedly known for good breakfasts. It is a literary cafe with antique furnishing and a stucco ceiling. However, we were disappointed as they did not have Kasha (more or less porridge). Nevertheless, the scrambled eggs, Syrniki, and freshly pressed juices were still very delicious and nicely presented.

Exploring the city

After having breakfast we actually wanted to take a tram, namely the oldest Russian tram. However, we failed doing so as there was no start or end or station. Or at least we could not find any. So we just decided to walk along the road, which was also fine. It was another big ‘broadway’, the Bolshaya Pokrovskaya ulitsa, which is full of old merchant mansions, theatres and statues. Also, the building of the State Bank can be found there.

Of course there also had to be another ‘Памятник Минину и Пожарскому‘ – monument dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky. It is the same monument that is in front of the St. Basil’s church on the red square.

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A monument dedicated to the heroes of the Volga fleet

The Church of the Nativity of Our Lady can also be found on this street. The coloured onion domes resemble those of the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

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We thought it would be nice to climb a steep 400-meter hill – the Fedorovsky Embankment. Even though the stairs were not safe and it was kind of slippery,  it was definitely worth it. From up there we had a breathtaking view of the city and the river.

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Another cool thing that we stumbled upon was a monument dedicated to Jules Verne, a writer that I happen to like. The bronze-painted plastic sculpture measures around 10 metres in height and was unveiled only in 2015.

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Успенская церковь – Dormition Church

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Kremlin

The kremlin (fortress) of Nizhny Novgorod was built between 1508 and 1515. The city used to be a guard city, where troops were gathered for the war against the Khanate of Kazan. After the fall of Kazan, the Kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod lost its (military) importance. Now, it is home to city and provincial authorities.

Along the Kremlin wall thirteen towers survived. The Tower of Demetrius is the main entrance to the fortress. The only church that survived the passing of time is the Michael the Archangel Cathedral located in the centre of the Kremlin. It is also the oldest building in the Kremlin, as it was erected in the 16th century. In the Archangel Cathedral there is the tomb of Kuzma Minin, who together with the Prince Pozharsky became a national hero after the Polish invasion the the 17th century. Nizhny Novgorod citizens who died in WW II are honored in a memorial site.

 

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A red deer is part of the city’s Coat of Arms

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Archangel Cathedral

Coffee Break

Some of our group were not well equipped for such a cold weather, so we had to take a coffee and cake break. And yes, it was me. As we were fairly close to the pedestrian streets, we just walked and decided for one of the coffee shops. However, as we were unsure how to enter it, a friendly Russian gave us the recommendation to go to another (better) coffee place, so we ended up going to Mishka (teddy bear). Good choice! We even found a photo booth next to it, so we couldn’t just walk past it, could we?

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Cable Car Adventures

Nizhny Novgorod has its own cable car that opened in 2012 which stretches over the Volga river for more than 3.5 kilometres, connecting Nizhny Novgorod with the small city Bor. Before arriving in the city I already knew that taking the cable car across the Volga river was on top of my agenda. The crew was quickly persuaded to do so. We took it already on our first day in the evening, but we also wanted to take a ride during daylight and further explore Bor on the other side of the river.

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Cable car selfie

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BOR

Бор has a population of around 78,000 people. It was founded in the 14th century. The most prominent local industries are shipbuilding and glass-making. Bor can be reached (from Nizhny Novgorod) via car over a bridge, ferry, or the cable car!!

Near the exit/entrance of the cable car station in Bor, there is a Площадь Победы – a victory square. It is in remembrance of the fallen soldiers from WWII, and depicts heroes of the Soviet Union.

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Train adventures

The train ride back was another adventurous part of our trip. The persons responsible for buying our train tickets (not me, hah!) bought the ‘wrong’ tickets by accident so we ended up taking a very long train (6+ hours) back home plus it was a sleeper. Very interesting experience, and not too bad after all :D

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The city trip to Nizhny Novgorod was a great experience (I guess for all of us?). This city is what you’d expect from Russia. Not the polished Saint Petersburg or grand Moscow. We finally experienced a true Russian city, at least that’s what we felt like.

 


Wow, I just realised that this was a massive photo-dumb. If you’ve made it so far – congrats! ;) If you’re also interested in following me elsewhere, head over to facebook or instagram :)

Budapest adventure: Food edition.

Before going to Hungary, people told me that vegetarians and vegans are going to have a hard time finding ‘good’ food in Budapest. Even the guide of our walking tour said so. However, so far I have always been able to find tasty non-meat or non-fish food in a foreign country/city. And no, I haven’t had salad every day. This time I even had none at all. So here is my little guide for people who are looking for vegetarian or vegan options in Budapest or just want to go someplace nice to enjoy a cup of coffee or have breakfast ;)

Breakfast places

No. 1 – Bordo Bisztro

This building used to be home of massive printing presses on red floor (hence the name ‘Bordó’ = claret). It is known for its weekend brunch, which takes place between 10am & 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu is around 2,100 forint (around 8 EUR) and includes three courses. You can choose between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, warm and cold dishes, and desserts. They have (almost) everything that a brunch-lover wants.

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Beautiful Interior

Spanish omlette

Mimosa & Toscan omlette with potato wedges

French toast

Bloody Mary & French toast

Ricepudding

Rice pudding with poppyseeds

Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

Located in the VI. district on Nagymező Street
Open every day from 10:00 – 00:00 (or 1:00 on Sat & Sun)
Facebook page

No. 2 -Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

This place is a haven (or heaven) for breakfast-lovers, as it serves breakfast in downtown Budapest all day long. The menu is great, the interior is lovely. There is also a special message board where anyone can post something (with sticky notes) and right next to the entrance is a small ‘picnic corner’ with artificial grass and cosy cushions, where you can sit right on the windowsill.

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Window

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You can choose from a wide range of breakfast options – sweet, sour, warm, cold. They even had Club Mate :O Hipster-heaven ;) We also assumed that the portions would be smaller so we ordered a bit too much. Oops ;)

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Delicious Sandwich

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Porridge & French toast

Located in the V. district, near the metro station Astoria, on Ferenczy István Street
Open Mon – Sat from 7AM – 7 PM
Facebook page

 

No. 3 – Cafe Brios

Right next to the Margaret Island and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the location of this café, which offers breakfast and lunch menus for hungry mouths. The selection apparently varies from season to season. Breakfast is available all day and they also serve delicious cakes. We only came there to get something to drink and treat ourselves to a delicious cake. However, it is more known for being a breakfast place – hence the breakfast category ;)

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Chocolate Cake

Located in the Újlipótváros (“New Leopold Town”), in the XIII. district, on Pozsonyi Street
Open everyday between 7.30 and 20.00
Facebook page

No. 4 – Café Vian

A french/hungarian bistro that offers different types of food for different ‘occasions’ of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks. Regarding the breakfast part of the menu, it is possible to choose from a wide variety of ‘nationalities’, but you can also opt for creating your own breakfast menu that is ‘fresh from the bakery’.

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French Breakfast with warm croissants

The coffee tasted really good and the croissants were fresh & still warm. Delicious! Also, the staff was really nice.

Various locations
Open everyday from around 9.00 til 00.00
Website


Lunch & Dinner places

No. 1 – Napfenyes Etterem

This is a place where you can get Hungarian (!) dishes that are vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free. The place that we went to was in district V. and this one had a pastry shop included.

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Hungarian Soups!

Unfortunately, our eyes were bigger than our bellies (and we had no idea that the portions would be so big and filling), we could not finish our meals but we got the option to take it home with us in a container :D

The interior threw us off a bit – usually when it comes to vegetarian & especially vegan restaurants, the places are very trendy and hip, with eye-catching (or weird) interior. However, the restaurant seemed a bit like its location was in the countryside and at least 50 years old yet on the other hand the pastry shop suited the vegan style :D Nevertheless, the food was really good and we could enjoy typical Hungarian food. Finally, I got my goulash! :D

Various locations, eg. in the V. district next to metro station Ferienciek tere
Open 12.00-22.30
Website & Facebook Page 

 

No. 2 – Padthai Wokbar (Wok2Go)

If you are a Padthai lover – this is the place to go for fast-food style Padthai. The concept is similar to the one Vapiano uses and is very efficient. You can create your own Padthai by choosing from various base ingredients, toppings, sauces and additional ingredients. It is freshly cooked in front of you, tastes delicious and is good value-for-money. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get good pictures of the food -.-

Various locations, eg. in the VII. district
Open Sun to Thu 11.30am 0.00 & Fri to Sat 11.30 – 2.00
Website & Facebook page

No. 3 – Mazel Tov

This is a place that offers Mediterranean cuisine and comes with an open kitchen and various cultural events. They have very good options for vegetarians!

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Very relaxing atmosphere with kind of a roofed patio where the kitchen and some of the tables were (I should have seen it in daylight to really understand the concept of the building ;)

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Tasted WAY better than it looked ;)

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The place was packed, there was a birthday celebration with >20 people right next to us, and the toilets are kind of not really separated from the rest (the entrance to the toilets had western-like swing doors…). Yet I have to admit that I really enjoyed the place. The food was delicious, the music was good, the lighting was perfect, the art on the wall was weird, the staff was great. The best place that I have been to in Budapest so far :)

Located in the Jewish Quarter
Open Mon-Fri 18.00 – 2.00 and Sat & Sund from 12.00 – 24.00
Website & Facebook page


Places for the Sweet Tooth

No. 1 – Szamos Gourmet Palace

This is a sweet-shop, café and chocolate manufacturing shop at the same time. Apart from the classical choices, French sweets and desserts from the era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy are offered. It is also possible to order from a daily menu, or á la carte, or even have breakfast there. The Gourmet Palace is in the elegant building of the Exchange Palace and the interior tries to reflect this with chandeliers, ceiling frescos, tall mirrors and gildings. It ‘perfectly’ reflects the taste and style of old times (except the weird porcelain pictures on the walls).

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The variety of cakes they have was immense, it was hard to make a decision. And even though they were rich in fruit/chocolate/nut creme/mousse, they were delicious! True cake-heaven.

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Dobostorta – traditional Hungarian sponge-cake

Located in the V. district
Open every day from 10.00 – 21.00
Website & Facebook page

No. 2 – The Donut Box

Delicious square shaped donuts – do I need to say more?!

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Donut

Located in the VI. district
Open everyday until 20.08
Website

No. 3 – Gelarto Rosa

A place where you can get rose-shaped scoops of ice cream. Lactose- & sugar-free options are available, but also macarons & cupcakes can be bought there. Unfortunately, due to the rose-shaping of the ice cream it takes forever to get your cone. Also, there are only two options to choose from – 2 or 3 ‘scoops’. Nevertheless, delicious ice cream, good options available and over-the-top interior :D And the more scoops you take the better it looks ;)

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Located in the V. district, next to the Szent Istvan Bazilika
Website & Facebook


(organic) Coffee-Lovers place

Born2Bio

It is one of the biggest bio stores in Budapest in terms of size and variety, offering over 1,200 kinds of gluten-, lactose-, sugar-, and additive-free products, as well as bio, paleo, vegetarian and vegan items, along with medicinal and natural foods, with a focus on environmentally friendly products and fair-trade (found the info online, didn’t memorize it all :D ). The adjacent café is based on a similar concept and offers coffees made from organic ingredients and other beverages as well as cakes and desserts.

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Coffee

Located in the VI. district
Facebook


The bottom line is:
It is possible and very easy (at least it was for me) to find vegetarian food for a very good value-for-money ratio in Budapest. Even local cuisine can be prepared in a vegetarian/vegan way and it still (can) taste delicious! Yes, goulash without meat is very good.


 

Catching up: February edition.

Long time no see! I’m finally back on the track again with blogging on a more regular basis. I’ve missed doing it but I also couldn’t bring myself to sit down and commit myself. There was not much to blog about; and writing only half-heartedly about stuff that I am not sure that I want to share is just not my thing. Instead, I took a short break and am now sharing the most interesting bits and bobs of the past few weeks :)

As mentioned here, eating healthy (or at least healthier) has been on my to-do-list during the past few weeks. I tend to eat very unhealthy when it comes to exam time or other stressful times. I tried a couple of new recipes; broccoli & bulgur have become my go-to ingredients lately. Also, I treated myself to some very delicious pancakes that only contain bananas, oats and almond milk. I think that I’ve never mastered any types of pancakes the way I did them! YAY. :)

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Veggie-bulgur bowl

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Healthy version of pancakes

Although we had a short ‘winterholiday’, we had a lot to do for university. However, we also used the time to get a good, delicious and reasonably-priced breakfast at Paludan Bogcafé.

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Vegetarian breakfast

My boyfriend was the sweetest one ever. He sent me a little care package of stuff that I really like and it arrived just at the right time and day. Too bad that the snickers he got me should have been sent back to the producer due to an international recall (55 countries). Apparently, someone found a plastic cap in a snickers bar which was in the same production as mine, but we were told way too late and half of the snickers were gone by that time. haha. I’m still alive though.

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A little something from the boy.

You can’t always live a healthy life and pizza is just one of the most delicious dishes ever. So Carina and I spontaneously decided to go out for Pizza to this Italian place ‘La Perla‘ in the city centre of Copenhagen. Very cosy, very small, very Italian servers. But come on – serving coca cola in the plastic bottle? Not classy at all. But anyways, I would definitely go there again – delicious pizza plus they served bread beforehand.

Pizza

Various circumstances led me to a short trip to Austria. So goodbye Denmark…

… and hello Austria!
The flight was way too early in the morning, but I got to see the sunrise (too bad that I chose to sit on the wrong side of the plane…). Also, I got to eat at my favourite (vegan) burger place in Vienna – Swing Kitchen!! – before taking a train to my family.

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Best burger place in town!

My mom and me got to spend a lot of time together (just the two of us) and it was good to finally be able to catch up and enjoy a cup of coffee & cake. We haven’t been able to do this in forever!

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After just a few days it was time to say goodbye Austria…

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hello DK.

… and hello Denmark.
Back to ‘normal’, back to university, back to my exam. yay. :D However, I managed to finish in time (even though I had spent a few days at home where I had hardly done anything for uni). One of the first things I did back in town was getting tea and a Danish pastry with Carina! Nothing’s better on a rainy day.

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Tea and Danish pastry

We also used our spare time with going to H&M and have breakfast for free. ;)

Niklas – one of our friends from our programme – had his birthday party on Friday. It was so much fun and so good being able to catch up with everyone after being absent from class/uni.

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This was a small update on what I’ve been up to lately (actually, not that small after reading through it again :D).

Have a listen to my go-to song of the month :) very relaxing and nice to listen to!

Also, it’s that time of the year where flowers will be blooming soon! YAY to spring and to more sun! :) Are you all looking forward to spring as well?

Another week about cars. | Exam time.

This entry will be a very short one as I do not want to bore you with library and exam stuff. I could tell you a lot about Tesla Motors and various perspectives of consumer behaviour but I’d rather not. If you are interested in reading stuff about Tesla Motors and their e-cars, you can have a look at this article… Arnold Schwarzenegger is mentioned there. Haha.


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So again – lots of time spent in the library.

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The most interesting day of my week was probably Tuesday. Carina and I got up very early in the morning so we could enjoy a free breakfast at H&M! We also got a discount of 20% on everything. Yay :)

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so much food!

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YUM!

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I promise I will be able to write a bit more next week as the exam will finally be over, Halloween is coming up, my boyfriend is in town again and I will be moving into a new flat. Stay tuned ;)

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