I don’t know how you feel about it, but to me there is hardly anything more satisfying than finishing a project. Be it a puzzle I’ve been working on for what seems like ages, a thesis for university or a genuine project of the heart.
I’ve been working on all three of those in the last half a year and a while ago I was able to finish at least ONE of them. (No … it’s not the puzzle! 😉 )
I finished the travel guide I wrote for Booktrip.de.
This project was something I started at a pretty difficult time of my life. A time when a breakup with my then boyfriend was one of the minor problems I had to face.
I was stressed out with work, I had too much on my plate and I struggled with about every single decision I made in my life up to then.
I thought of this project as some kind of refuge, something that had nothing to do with the rest of my chores and responsibilities.
I started to sit down at my laptop after a nine hour day at work or university and worked on this project whenever I could.
I did a lot of research on Vienna and learned a lot about the city I’m calling home for 7 years now. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t know this city at all and I wondered what the h* I did with my time here so far. But other times I realized how much love I had for this city, how many of its quirks and details I admired and how thoroughly I got to know Vienna already. I wrote down all my favorite spots and things to do and doing so I fell in love with the city all over again.
I really struggled with finishing though, because I always felt like I had MORE to say and that there are so many amazing things in Vienna I haven’t mentioned yet. Since I had limited space, I told myself in the end, that this won’t be the last travel and writing related project I’ll be doing on Vienna and then… I sent it in.
When I got notice that MY E-book is published and available my heart was racing and I forgot all about my “secret” project plans and told about every person I knew about it. And here I am now, telling YOU too! 🙂
If you are interested in having a look at it you’ll be able to get it HERE and HERE on Amazon! J (up to now – in German only! )
I hope I’ll be finishing my other two projects soon too… but to be honest… I don’t know about that puzzle… 😉
Up until about two years ago, I’ve never heard about the Grüner See (Green Lake) in Styria. But then there was this article about it in the news papers and it got nominated to be one of Austria’s most beautiful spots. I started wondering why neither I nor anyone I know has ever been there, since it’s pretty close to home and honestly… hence the size of Austria, pretty close to about every corner of good old Austria! 😉
Two friends and I had the idea of doing a little more homeland exploring whenever we have some time to spare and when the idea of going to Grüner See came up, we were instantly hooked.
Before I tell you about how amazing our trip to the lake was and how much I fell in love with the crystal clear water and the surreal colors of the lake, I’m going to tell you some useful facts about the Grüner See – Just in case you want to put it on your bucket list! 😉
It’s not an ordinary lake
When planning a trip to the Green Lake, make sure to plan it during late spring or the early summer month. Its water comes from the snowmelt from the karst mountains surrounding it. Therefore the time after the snowmelt or during it is the time where the basin that becomes the lake will be filled up the highest and it is also the time of the year when people used to do spectacular diving and underwater photo-shootings. The lake reaches its maximum height usually between May and June.
It was a divers paradise
During the month when the water is at its highest, the Green Lake was a paradise for divers. Diving through the green meadows, along hiking trails and tree trunks or floating by a bridge and benches isn’t something you experience every day.
Hence to the massive increase of tourists going there though, it is apparently prohibited to dive there since January 1st of 2016. Maybe the hype about it will fade eventually (although I don’t think so! :P) and I’ll have the chance to dive there too.
It’s a tourist attraction
Since the articles I mentioned above, the Green Lake has become quite a tourist attraction. During its peak season and especially on weekends it is definitely a good idea to get up early and be there before ALL the OTHER PEOPLE are.
My friends and I got up at 4.30 in the morning to get there before the rest did and it certainly paid off. We had the lake all for ourselves (besides the ducks and ravens) and the chance to take in all its magical and peaceful glory.
Pack some plan B breakfast
If you want to see the Green Lake without a bunch of people blocking your view and you decide to get up early and be there during the early morning hours, make sure to pack some plan B breakfast. Although there is a restaurant quite close to the lake, it probably won’t serve food in the early morning hours on a weekday! 😉
Don’t litter and respect the area
Although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t cross your mind anyway I simply have to mention it here: Don’t leave any trash or food leftovers in the Green Lake area! There is a bunch of trash bins along the way around the lake, so it’s not much of an effort to put everything you want to get rid of in there. Camping and open fires are also prohibited. It is a strictly protected nature conservation area and once you’ve seen the beauty of it with your own eyes, you’ll realize why the rules to protect it are strict like that.
Bring a drone
If you own one or know somebody owning one, bring a drone.
The lake by itself is breathtaking, but seeing it from above is something you’ll never forget. My friends and I had the chance to borrow a drone and I’m still in awe with the pictures we got from it.
As I mentioned already, we got to the Green Lake in the early morning around 7 a.m. We were the only people there and approaching the lake after a short walk through the woods left me speechless. I knew the lake was famous for its amazing turquoise color, but the intensity of it still surprised me. The water is crystal clear and you can see all the way down to the lakes stony ground.
Heather flowers surrounded the whole lake and the grey karst mountains in the background perfected the whole setting. Since the three of us are mad about taking photos we stopped about every meter for new shots and it took as ages to circle the lake. A few ducks were following us all the way, probably waiting for us to feed them with something, and from time to time you could see the reflection of a raven flying over the lake mirrored on the surface of the water.
Since we got there so early and the sun didn’t break through the misty clouds yet, it was a bit chilly at the lake, but nevertheless we stayed there for about 2.5 hours. There was simply too much beauty to discover to even think about leaving earlier.
Even on our way back to the car, we didn’t come across any other people and back at the parking lot we realized how lucky we were. Around 10 in the morning the cars started to flock in and I’m pretty sure, being surrounded by a lot of other people would have totally ruined this magical Green Lake experience for me.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I am currently writing on an E-Book travel guide about my beloved Vienna. Some of you might question that, since I hardly ever wrote about Vienna here. To be honest, I haven’t gotten to write on this blog regularly in a while. (Will change that as soon as the travel guide is finished! 😉 A pinky promise I made to myself)
So WHY am I mentioning the whole travel guide thing now? Because I realized today, that, since I’m working on that project, I learned so much about my city and started to love it more every single day.
The same thing happened when I started with Instagram. I started to roam the city on a daily basis, discovering new corners, beautiful ones and ugly ones, every day. So , even though, it is hard work sometimes, because, well… one got to live off something too and make money doing real jobs as well, I love how much this whole writing about Vienna thing changed my relationship with my city. I keep looking at it through touristy eyes more often than not and the beauty of it never ceases to mesmerize me.
It’s like, I’ve overcome that dull feeling of routine that sometimes creeps into one’s life, especially when you live and work in a place for some time.
It’s only normal I guess, that people are usually more impressed by cities they visited on vacation, than the one they are living in. There is simply not enough time next to work, family and friends to enjoy the place you are living in, in a touristy kind of way forever. BUT – as I found out now, as soon as you are starting to be a tourist in your own town, it feels like you are traveling anyway. Neighborhoods you haven’t seen yet, restaurants you haven’t been to, amazing architecture right in front of your home – you start to realize, that the city you call your home changes continually and that there is always something new to explore and discover.
For those of you, who want to see more of my life in Vienna – have a look at my Instagram account! 🙂 And I’ll definitely let you know once my guide is published! 😉
When I decided to meet up in Budapest with friends, the first things coming to my mind about the city where: Goulash and the famous baths.
Since I don’t eat meat, the Goulash experience wasn’t really an option and I was looking forward to the Bath part twice as much! 😉
My friends and I had been in Budapest for 2 days already, before we finally had time to make it to a Bath. But first, there was quite a tough decision to make… which one to choose? There is so many Baths in Budapest and there is even more opinions on which one is the BEST.
Baths do play a very important role in Budapest and they are a huge part of its culture. Going to a bath is a traditional thing to do for a lot of people in Budapest and this is why it was quite important to me, to go to an authentic one.
We decided to go to the Széchenyi Bath, not because we knew much about it, but , to be honest, only because the yellow, pompous building looked cute. As we found out later, it is one of the most popular ones anyway and it’s among the biggest and one of the oldest too.
Getting there was pretty easy, we just took the metro to the Széchenyi fürdő stop and there it was. Since it was a quite gloomy day, there weren’t lots of other people and we were able to go straight in. We ended up getting the day pass for 1700 Forint, which, in my opinion is quite pricey compared to all the other things in Budapest. But well…since it’s a MUST DO in Budapest…we were happy to pay that of course! 😉
Inside it immediately looked like something from another time. Everything was quite old looking, used and well…let’s say a bit shabby… but I think this is exactly what gives it its special vibe. You could almost see the monarchs walking through the changing rooms and sitting in the hot pools! 😉
One quite odd thing was, that you aren’t allowed to lock your own locker! You have to call one of the „Locker Ladies“ to lock it for you and then remember the number and watch out not to loose the non-number matching wristband they give you! If you want to get something out of the locker again, you have to wait until one of the ladies is free to help you. It wasn’t too bad the day we were there, but I can’t imagine the chaos on a busy day to be honest!!
There is so many different pools to bathe in, but the inside ones weren’t really appealing to me, since it was summer and the inside of the old building was pretty unbearable for me. The outside bath though was perfect. The most impressive thing for me, wasn’t the pools though, it was watching Hungarians enjoy and value this bathing tradition. Some of them had little chess boards with them and cans of beer and they were sitting there in groups, amidst the steaming hot water, playing chess for hours.
You can easily spot the true Hungarians among the tourists and if you get the chance to be involved in a game of chess with one of them, you can be sure to have some really interesting conversations.
All in all, I really enjoyed the visit to the Széchenyi Bath, but I realized, I’m not really the Spa type of girl. It was definitely a onetime thing, I’ll always remember!
Although I’m living in Vienna for a couple of years now, and the connection between the hungarian capital and the austrian one is pretty amazing (there is plenty of busses and trains, that take you there for under 20 Euros), I haven’t been to Budapest for more than a stop-over. When friends told me a couple of weeks ago, that they will be stopping there on their backpacking trip, I was totally up for joining.
So last week I took the Flixbus from Vienna and three short hours later, ended up in a city that looks so similar to Vienna, but it SO TOTALLY different.
Since we only had a couple days to explore, me and my friends just dropped our bags at the hostel and started into the bustling city.
Since no great day ever started without breakfast, this was exactly where we were heading first. Thanks to my favorite travel inspiration (Instagram 😉 ) I found this very cute and stylish breakfast place named “Szimply”. It was kind of hard to find at first, since it is located in a patio, but totally worth looking for. We actually ended up there twice; this is how good it was! 😉
The café itself is tiny and for coffee you have to cross over to the other side of the patio to get it from a different place, but the breakfast there was amazing. Great quality of food perfectly seasoned and gorgeously arranged. And most important – they have an amazing variety vegetarian and vegan breakfast options. Being a vegetarian myself and traveling with a vegan, finding veggie friendly places to eat wasn’t actually as hard as we feared. At the Szimply we opted for a sweet quinoa bowl with fruits and flowers, pan fried eggs with lots of salmon and been purée and the best avocado bread I’ve ever had.
After breakfast we started our Budapest exploration, we walked all over Pest, passing impressive monuments, street artists, Baumkuchen stands and a loooot of fellow traveler. One of the most memorable place we came across was the holocaust memorial. The „Shoes on the Danube“ memorial is one of the most moving memorials I’ve ever seen.
Gyula Pauer and Can Togay , two sculptors, created this touching memorial in memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944 and 1945.
Next we crossed the bridge over to Buda.
Buda and Pest have been united into one city only in 1873 and from what I’ve seen there is still a huge difference between the two sides of the city.
Buda with its hills, the Castle Quarter, the museums and the cobblestone streets makes you feel like you just went back into imperial times. Besides of a couple of tourist groups we didn’t meet any other people and the whole area felt like it is just there for being looked at and admired. Over at the Buda side of the City, we also had quite a hard time finding a place to stop for coffee. Since we tried to avoid “touristy” places, we wandered around Buda for quite a while till we found a café.
One thing I really liked about Buda is the view from the castle hill. There is a couple of famous viewpoints, like the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Citadella fortress, where you’ll have a splendid look over Pest, the Danube and the gorgeous Chain Bridge. To get up to the castle, you can either walk through the gardens underneath the castle, wander through the part of town underneath the hill and find the steps that take you up the hill, or you take the more comfortable way and ride up the hill with the Funicular.
On top of the hill – Buda Castle
Pest on the other hand is full of life and you wouldn’t have to walk more than 2 minutes to find a coffee place. Pest is also where all the nightlife is happening. From the famous ruin bars ( there is more than 30 of them) to hundreds of pubs and clubs, there is a chance to party in Pest every night of the year. But Pest has more to offer than just party; it is great for shopping, eating out and there is lots of historic sights on this side of the Danube as well.
One of my favorite places in Pest was definitely the market hall. It is full of fresh fruits, great variety of typical hungarian food and all sorts of souvenirs. Also, the hall itself is pretty spectacular.
The Jewish Quarter in Pest is known for the ruin bars and its young, hip vibe. I loved everything about it. There is pop up food festivals, affordable restaurants and unique shops, something to discover around every corner.
At night, Pest is definitely the better place to be, not only because of all the entertainment, also because the view from the esplanade at night is top. Strolling along the Danube at night, looking at the brightly lit castle on the Buda side is breathtaking.
For dinner we found another great vegan friendly place close to our Hostel. It was called Napfényes Étterem and I pretty much fell in love with their rague.
More about my trip to Budapest, including a review on a visit to one of Budapests famous Spas in a follow up post!
At the beginning of may, me and my boyfriend decided that we wanted to get out of Vienna for a couple of days. Since Austria is perfectly located in the midst of some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the decision wasn’t that easy. In the end we decided to spend a weekend in Prague.
When we got to the accommodation booking part though, we realized that, booking a week in advance at the peak of spring break isn’t helping with finding affordable but still livable and nicely located hotel or hostel rooms. After about 15 minutes of „no way, I’m not sleeping in a 8 people mixed dorm this time“, I remembered the great experiences I had with airbnb during my last travels to Dublin and Rovinj, so I decided to have a look , what airbnb offered in Prague.
I was amazed, there was at least 15 accommodations in my „wish list“ within 10 minutes. All of them were located in the center of Prague, all of them had amazing ratings and feedback and best of all, the prices for staying were even lower than what the hostels I found charged for a 8 people dorm.
We picked our favorite and wrote an Email to the host. Only an hour later we had our reply and the confirmation that the room was ours for the weekend.
A special hint for all of you who consider booking an Airbnb accommodation: Airbnb gives you a 20 euros voucher if you invite a friend, and this friend books with Airbnb. Also the friend who accepts your invite and books with the link you sent him/her, gets a 20 euro voucher. Since I was already on Airbnb, I just had to send an invite to my boyfriend and we ended up paying even less. 🙂
When we got to Prague, we had some troubles with finding a free parking space ( in a lot of areas in Prague you can’t park, or you can only park for a few hours). So we ended up getting there late, our host , who left work especially to meet us in the apartment, was extremely understanding , trusting and considerate. She left the keys for us in a nearby restaurant and we just had to pick it up there.
We realized when we got to our booked room, that it wasn’t simply a room, but a whole apartment. Our host wasn’t spending the weekend in Prague, so we ended up living there on our own and her two gorgeous cats. This was definitely the best way to experience Prague for the first time. We felt like we moved there.
The apartment was located in one of the best neighborhoods in Prague, we were surrounded by dozens of great restaurants and pubs and the famous Charles Bridge was about 5 minutes walking distance away.
I highly recommend Airbnb for finding the best places to stay in Prague. Coming home to your huge and beautiful apartment (and your two cute weekend-cats) was definitely far better than returning to a hostel dorm with snoring and drunk spring-breakers in the bunk next to you.