Category Archives: European Travels

Time Travel at Hitler’s Eagles Nest

Having seen a few World War II documentaries, an image of „The Führer“ with his Nazi commanders at a little house on the top of a mountain, it’s probably familiar to many. It’s known as Kehlsteinhaus or the Eagle’s Nest in Obersalzburg, Germany. The grandiose view of rocky mountains fosters a sensation of eternal power and immortality. That’s my thought as I made it to the Eagle’s Nest – once a teahouse offered as present to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday, today a historical landmark/restaurant open to the public for visit.

On the way to reaching the former Hitler’s summer residence – Kehlsteinhaus, we considered visiting firstly the Dokumentation in Obersalzberg, about 1,000 meters below Kehlsteinhaus. It is now a historic site offering visitors from all around the world the opportunity to learn and reflect on the history of National Socialism (Nazism). After getting out the inhabitants and closing down the former health resort, the Nazis converted the village in Hitler’s off limit area. Settling in the Alps was a strategic move, as they established here their second seat of power alongside Berlin. The last weeks of the WWII, these settlement was bombed almost entirely by the Allied Forces. Interesting is the fact that the Eagle’s Nest or Kehlsteinhaus remained from the bombing unscathed.

The region of Berchtesgaden where the little Alpine village of Obersalzberg is located, is known as the gate to the Alps. It has always attracted tourists and nature lovers. At Obersalzberg, the Nazis would not only take the most important political decisions about the war and Holocaust, but also broadcast their propaganda, which utilized effectively the mountain landscapes to portray Hitler as a man of vision, a friend of children and nature who remained close to simple people. Ironically, Hitler did not visit the Eagle’s Nest many times, as reported to be both claustrophobic and have fear from heights.

The view from the top of Kehlsteinhaus is indeed spectacular. The eagles are floating through the clouds just few meters above my head. So is the panorama view of Königssee and Berchtesgaden valleys together with some rays of sunshine, which minutes later were overshadowed by heavy fog and snow. Sometimes it snows even in May.

One Day in Pompeii

Once in Napoli you have to visit Pompeii. Amazingly enough, even after 2000 years, it’s still there. Having seen the documentary Pompeii: The Last Day (BBC)  lately and the movie “The Last Days of Pompeii” at a very young age, the only images I had in my mind were those of the tragic destiny of inhabitants of Pompeii after the deadly eruption of Vesuvius. Taking the train for 30 minutes in order to visit the archaeological city of Pompeii was an adventure itself. It felt like a trip back a century ago. The train was so old, giving wrongfully the impression of going into peaces at any moment by driving at such a high speed. But that was nothing compared to the sensation of going through the roads of Pompeii, once completely buried for more than 15 centuries under 4 millions tonnes of rock, purnice stones and ash spilled over from now sleeping mountain of Vesuvius.

After centuries of neglect, excavations have returned in full swing in the second most visited archeological site in Europe, after Colosseum in Rome. And that’s for a good reason. Pompeii is simply too fascinating and important to the world heritage to leave it buried under the ashes of neglect. A grant from EU in 2012 amounting 100 million Euros and an additional 30 million Euro appropriated from Italian government are revolutionizing the site. About 3 million visitors from all over the world come to grasp the enchantment of the antic city.

It’s impressive to see how well organized and structured Pompeii was. The size of the houses shows to the status of the inhabitants in that society. From the small surfaced room of the tragic poet, the middle-sized houses of gladiators, to the opulent temples of wealthy masters. In the end the civilization hasn’t change much in the last 20 centuries in terms of wealth preservation and classification.

For a team of more than 200 archeologists, anthropologists and technicians working in this ambitious project has been an ongoing emotional process discovering the bodies of victims encased in solidified ash. These discoveries together with the objects and their belongings replay not only the last moments of Pompeians, but also provide clues to their social-economic class and the lifestyle. It is believed that Pompeii ethnic diversity due to trade compares to London or New York nowadays.

Spending one day in Pompeii was for me not only an unique experience – grandiose in size, but also an emotional revival of the overwhelming tragedy in the history of civilization.


Autumn: Love it or loathe it

Call me a sentimental or ludicrous, but I adore autumn. Certainly it is connected to the magic of its sensational colors, breathtaking landscapes, falling leaves and summer-fade melancholia.

What I love the most is its smooth transition from the restless, hectic and hot summer days, filled with fear of missing out, summer is too short kinda of thoughts to the comfortable zone of acceptance. Yes, acceptance that the chilling winter is ahead and I’m ok with it. I can’t wait to spend more quality time in the warm sofa, in front of the fireplace and  in company of good red wine.

Don’t you agree? Just think for a moment how odd and peculiar is living in a place without autumn or winter. I still have a vivid memory of Christmas in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian muslim women cheerfully standing in front of a Christmas tree. Their joy of taking pictures with the sweaty Santa at 30+ degrees was striking. I couldn’t stop imagining their faces looking at the first  flakes of snow. I kinda felt bad for them, being alienated from the wonders of other seasons like autumn. It makes me feel thankful. Therefore, I use every possible encounter to enjoy in-depth the beauty of the indian summer.

Like today. Walking around in little streets of Hamburg and capturing the beauty of autumn. For more wonderful images have a look at Hamburg Highlight on Instagram and at the Blog.

How about you? Do you like fall and if yes what’s your favorite hide away place or city in fall?

Germany as Summer Destination?

Germany as summer destination? Oh really!!! That was exactly my reaction when I first learned about the North or East Sea islands’ destination. And believe it or not though the weather is never a guarantee (meaning peak season 22 degrees and often rain showers,) everything is booked out six months ahead. Sylt is certainly one of these posh islands characterized by modest weather, beautiful nature, breathtaking landscape, ostentatious people and Côte d’Azur prices. It’s absolutely beautiful for hiking or being in touch with nature, but a two week summer vacation there will make me depressed for the rest of the year.

Therefore my husband and I consider often long weekends instead of long vacations in the northern Germany. It’s pretty amazing how everything is so well connected and very well accessed. There are about 3200 hiking and biking paths throughout forests that connect little towns in the northern area. But on that I’ll go more in depth another time.


Today we’re in Malente, a beautiful quite spot where five lakes connect and are surrounded by forestal area. The little town of Malente is mainly a spa and watering place, but not only. It’s also a place where the national football team trained for the word championship for decades (from 1970 to 1994, resulting in two world cup titles in 1974 and 1990, to be precise) or recently HSV (the bigger Hamburg club) gathered in emergency training as seriously risking of being downgraded to the second league. Looks like the magic spirit of Malente brought some much needed luck to the Hamburg team, as result DINO (dinosaur) remained in the first league.

Being blessed with breathtaking nature and first class infrastructure makes the local businesses in the area less assertive and inviting. They’re booked out so they can play by their own set of squared rules, something you forget when you come from a big and liberal city like Hamburg. Meaning the restaurants close at 9:30 pm and waiters get a mean satisfaction (Schadenfreude) ”punishing” you with an empty stomach for your three minutes of delay. You might wonder and think that first you’re the customer who’s always right and second it’s vacation time with long polar nights, so no need for being super punctual for dinner. Wrong. Germans in Malente seems to enjoy punctuality even while in vacation and they’re ready to throw a book at you.

Last night while enjoying a large ”Spagetti con Frutti di Mare” at Villa Kolonial and the reflective sunset in the background I couldn’t stop overhearing two conversations with late guests:

9:33 pm – Guest 1: Good evening! Could we still eat something?

Waitress: Sehr ungern! Die Küche sollte zu sein. (Not with pleasure, the kitchen should be closed)

9:34 pm – Guest 2: Could we order something?

Waitress: Well no, the kitchen is closed since 9:30 pm (implying the 4 minutes guest’s delay)

Guest 2: But we are quite hungry, may be a salad or something without too much effort.

Waitress: We have only cold drinks…

Welcome to Malente! Come to enjoy our modest summer, breathtaking scenery, but make sure to be punctual 😉

Breathtaking Icelandic Sightseeings

Looking at the sunrise 12:00 in a cold snowy morning at þingvellir national park is a natural wonder. The spectacular landscape is smoothed by Lake Þingvallavatn.

Iceland is trapped between two continents as it is largely positions between two tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America. When these plates move apart, volcanic material rises naturally. The island is a hotspot with all the bubbling hot water and volcanic activity. Two severe earthquakes in 2000 were a result of movement of the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates. We found ourselves suddenly in Europa just driving a couple of meters from the North-America tectonic plate to the Eurasian one. The picture below shows this geographic boundary between two tectonic plates.

“So now me are leaving America, and that’s kind of neat”- to put it in guide’s own words.

 Þingvallavatn Park

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland part of the Golden Circle tour. No wonder Gullfoss is in World’s Top 10 Waterfalls list. It’s scenery with a drop of 32 m high is breathtaking. Absolute in the Must-see list. Also a very interesting saga behind the history of the waterfall, which would have not been here without the fighting of Sigríður Tómasdottir. She was the daughter of the landowner who was about to sell the land to parties with an interest in developing hydroelectricity in the area.  She threatened her father that she would jump into the falls if he did’t withdraw from the deal.  Here is a fantastic Video of the Waterfall 🙂


The landscape at the Geyser area in south west Iceland looked like from another planet. Steamy holes in a dark earthy ground with running thermal water up 120 grad celsius.  In addition to enduring the freezing cold while trying to filming the eruption of one Geyser, which erupted every 8-10 minutes, I learned some interesting facts related to it. The research shows that Geyser has been active for approximately 10,000 years and that changes in the Geyser activity are strongly affected by the earthquake activity. For example, due to the earthquake in 2000 the geyser reached 122 meters for two day while this year it has erupted 43 – 54 m high.  To have a clear idea how that looks like, here are a couple of photos and a Video.


Iceland: Photos From Another Planet

The Sun Voyager – an impressive sculpture of a Viking ship by the ocean close to Reykjavík center. The ship symbolizes the Viking’s past of the Icelanders, when the first settlers came sailing to Iceland. The artist Jón Gunnar Árnason created the dream boat as a promise to undiscovered territory, the dream of brighter future. The landscape after snowing left us speechless. Definitely the photos of the day.







The Flavor of Reykjavík

Three things will strike you immediately once landing in Reykjavík. The strong wind (Hamburger should stop complaining about the wind), colorful roof-tops and the artfully designed streets. The city itself is small and looks like a charming little alpine town with 5 hours of daylight now in wintertime. It is dark when you wake up at 11 am, and gets dark again at 4 pm. So maximize your day-light schedule.


Luckily enough I’m staying in between a designer street, so I can pleasantly drink my morning coffee at a new location, and further explore the Icelander hipster culture. Nicely designed coffee shops and bars often empowers health & well-being. An exotic sandwich and cafe latte at the Lemon coffee shop will give you that feeling of harmony. Worth giving a try.

One might attempt to figure out what an Icelander can do for living if not involved in the tourism, geothermal power or fishing industry? The answer is clear. Be a poet, painter, or designer.
Designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, it treasures the works of many talented poets and writers. No wonder that even at the cheapest supermarket in town, you’ll not be able to find wine, but definitely a book-stand.

If one fails being a writer, the next chance is lining up as alternative rock musician, following the foot-steps of the legendary Björk. And if also this attempt turns unsuccessful, one will definitely make it as a street-artist while every little corner or facade is gracefully painted.

Here are a couple of street-art impressions:








Walk in Cézanne’s Footsteps…

What can small cities do to keep up with the multi-facet attractions that metropolis offer to tourists? “Walk in Cézanne footsteps” is the answer that Aixois, the inhabitants of Aix-en-Provence in south France have found. I realized, it’s quite a genius idea though overblown by the Aixois as every second hotel, restaurant, cinema, design studio, furniture shop or you name it, has incorporated Cézanne as name. Appears like everyone rushed to grab this piece of heritage to portray the proud identity of a Aixois. Like Cézanne itself summed up his love for Provence “When you’re born there, it’s hopeless, nothing else is good enough”. But that not quite new. It has occurred to me several times walking through various cities to notice a Hemingway signs hanging on top of trashy Casinos or 80’s style discos. The only words rushing out of the mouth in disbelieve were :”Poor Hemingway”

Btw, who was Cézanne? “The father of us all” said both Picasso and Matisse. In his painting the Carrières de Bibémus took Cubism its first step. As post-impressionist painter is seen to have formed a bridge between late 19-th century Impressionism and the early 20 century Cubism.

So I took the walking tour at the tourist office and started to walk through the city as Cézanne experienced it. I followed the “C” marks on the ground, which initiate with the Statue of Cézanne. It’s quite demanding to go through all 32 steps or highlights in painter’s life in such a short time. The list got long, from the art school, family home, faculty of law, father’s bank, the hat shop, his studio, the church, the last atelier and cemetery. So I decided to pick a couple of them. Walking at the charming Cours Mirabeau avenue, it’s impossible not to enjoy a coffee at the “Café des Deux Garçons” where Cézanne often gathered with his friends. It feels like a trip back a century ago at Cézanne’s last apartment/atelier which now serves as museum. A minimalistic room filled with his objects, furnitures, cloths and painting, untouched from the day of his death in 1906. Surrounded by the wonderful nature and landscape, it was easy to imagine the source of delight in artist’s paintings. To summarize my thoughts after my visit in Aix-en-Provence, making artists the centerpiece is the right model especially in small cities. I would love one day to walk in “Onufri” footsteps in Berat, or in craftsman’s footsteps like Murtezan Makriu who spends his life shaping the stones of Gjirokastra. I’m sure that in many cities in Albania we find a large list of contributors, whose work played a significant role in shaping our cultural identity. May be it’s about time to wipe up the dust and revitalize our cultural heritage. Let’s walk on “…” Steps.

Jazz from 5 Continents: Herbie & Shorter

The Festival of Jazz from 5 Continents holds now in Marseille (17-26 July, 2014). As such every corner of the multi-cultural city breaths the jazz rhythms oft blended with ethnic elements from Africa. The legends of Jazz Herbie Hancock (74) and Wayne Shorter (83) are performing live at the impressive “Jardins du Palais Longchamp”. Hancock an American pianist and composer helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythms, whose music embraces elements of funk and soul together with the other legend Shorter – generally considered the biggest jazz living compositor ( NYTimes) performed a unique blend of jazz and blues.

This chic event was not to be missed, especially tonight. But what you do when tickets are sold out? You get a little creative. With some extra luck there’s always a guy willing to sell. The warmth of Marseille summer evenings over Palais Longchamp added a magical tone to the concert which was followed in the second half by Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca and the African singer Fatoumata Diawara in a combined Afro-Cuban repertoire.

Why Danes are so awfully happy?

The mega-commercial of Carlsberg appears in a stylish apple-like-design airport: “Welcome to the world’s happiest nation”, as proven recently. That triggered my curiosity further. It actually started earlier on board of Easy Jet. A group of bachelors were dragging the soon to be groom with pink eye-shades and headphones on, to a surprise party destination. Now I know why. The Danes definitely know how to party hard and in style. Since a glass of wine starts from 13 euros, the drinking starts earlier. By 1 am, folks are running around pretty loaded, chicks in bare feet and silky summerish dresses, happily bumping into each other. That’s great entertainment and tells part of the story. In addition I came up with funky impressions during my 48 hours stay in Copenhagen, that help understand why Danes are the so awfully happy.

Taking the metro at the airport toward Copenhagen felt like being brought in a fast-forward time tunnel. A sensational ride, not to be missed. The underground world of Copenhagen shines not only in simplicity and smart taste, but also in timing.

Once you leave the underground world, you get your eco-ride along water channels.

Ahhhhh the water channels. That’s where people originally moved to the Freeport of Copenhagen as a free-taxation area. Nowadays is the new-old hot shit area, no chance for any tax exemption.

A nice boat-trip in cold waters refreshing the city is not the worst idea either. Just make sure you have enough bread to feed the white swans and friendly seagulls along the ride.

In the mean time enjoy the medieval footprints meeting the amazing nowadays architecture.


If that’s a bit too romantic for your taste, no worries, there’s space for everyone. Go and get your ecological electronic Tesla that’s just finished charging. Or simply a taxi-bike.

Make sure not to drive it in this unfinished bridge. It is designed only for bikes and pedestrians only.

And watch out from the little mermaids. They are in every corner, here, here and here 😉

Kids. Might be great to be a Danish kid, go to magical Tivoli every other day and read the original Andersen’s fairy tales while he proudly faces Tivoli entertainment park. Of course, I was a great fan of Andersen as a child, as his works were translated in 125 languages worldwide.

Enough jogging around. It’s time for some serious shopping. Let’s see what these nice gentlemen have to offer.

Still not convinced. Then go at the Happy Wall and write a wish or greet someone.

“One glass of read wine, please!”, I asked the waitress at BioMio. “What kind of wine would you like? Really good one or an affordable one?” Good, there are nice people out there to save you the embarrassment…

Embarrassment! Does that mean anything? Obviously not for everyone. Rumors circulate that this body-jumping crane goes a bit further. Free of change jumping for those who wanna do that naked.

The white nordic nights let the magic roll on the morning of the longest day of the year. 21st of June: It’s midsommar! Good morning! Or better: Good night…


The Drowned Oldie Turns 825

It’s time to celebrate and blow the candles! The oldie turns 825! Moin, Moin! The Hamburg Port or “der Hafen” celebrates its birthday at Landungsbrücke, founded on 7 May 1189 by Kaiser Frederich I.

Who have already visited Hamburg knows the great pride a Hamburger takes about its “Hafen”, as it is Hamburg’s signature and soul. Being in Hamburg, I couldn’t miss the main attraction of the Hafenfest, the Schlepperballett (ships-ballet). Though it was raining heavily during the whole day, the place was so overcrowded that reminded me this mega events like 4th of July in Chicago Pier or New Year in Singapore. What a sensational feeling to circumambulate the harbour that is almost as old as Hamburg itself, and yet a major player in the trading of goods old economy.
Here are some photos I took today and some interesting facts about the oldie, Hamburger Hafen:
…about 10.000 ships per year, 9.3 million container got traded in 2013,156.000 people are working in the Hafen…

The Magic of the Black Forest

Whether you’re seeking to escape the work routine for a couple of days or you’re keened on hiking or mountain walking, the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Baden Württemberg, Southwest Germany, is the location to be. I was in Schwarzwald region last weekend. Funny enough, the trip started with landing to Basel airport in Switzerland, going through the French territory in direction of Freiburg which is the gate to Schwarzwald.

Abstractly enough, in only 40 minutes we went through 3 countries-borders which of course are no visible border-lines. Quite exceptional was handing a train ticket in the unusual overcrowed Deutsche Bahn because of Easter Holidays and the local heros, SC Freiburg, were having their home match against Mönchengladbach, which secured them  the stay in the first League (quite unlike Hamburg, as I’m observing from week to week to my surprise.)

It’s a rare event to be squeezed in German trains – due to this unusual event people’s interaction looked closer. Yeah, people looked definitely more relaxed, friendly and happy in this region of Germany.

Wandering around Schwarzwald was refreshing! It’s a huge rectangular region in the length of 160 km and breadth up to 60 km. Train stopped in Hinterzarten, a very beautiful area with neat farmers’ houses, green valleys and wooded hill-tops, a landscape that is nothing but a sweet reminiscence of “Heidi, Girl of the Alps” animation series. (And yes, I learned the German intro jingle: “Heidi, Heidi,  Deine Welt sind die Berge”.)

Hiking through the woods for about 10 km lead to next highlight, Titisee lake, southeast of the next beautiful spot, Schluchsee lake. And so the journey continued the next day, going to Schauinsland, Feldberg, etc. Therefore if you like hiking, Nordic walking, skiing or just want to be in touch with the nature in search inner-you balance, Scharzwarld might be the next place the be!

Spring in Prince’s Paradise

It’s 12 degrees and sunny. Warm enough for a pair of northern Europeans bare foot to walk along sandy beaches and touch the crown that only spring can wear. The minimalistic, low-profiled and weather betrayed folks in northern Germany shake their heads in denial while whispering softly “one more time, it is not over yet as it can snow even in April”.


It actually can, but today it’s nothing but spring. Birdies are tweeting, skies have cleared, and if you follow sun-rays in the wilderness no one can actually take away that crown from you.
So it felt today in Plön, walking along the largest and deepest lake in the state of Schleswig-Holstein emblemed by the Castle of Plön up in the hill. The crystal cold waters of the lake, the preserved nature of the Holstein Switzerland Nature Park crowed by Plön Castle which is the largest one in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein offered a warm welcoming to spring tasting. The sons of the last German Emperor William II used to live in early 1900 here in Prinzeninsel. Also the last German Empress, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein favorited the southern tip of the island, from which the actual name Prinzeninsel derives from. Here’s a photo collage of Spring in Prince’s paradise.

At Eros Garden

Eros-the messenger of love expo, made it to the charming lake of Como, in Italy. That was a nice surprise as the day at fjord town turned into a revisit of artistic impressions from Greek mythology blended in Romanesque monumental villas where Napoleon used to stay in the 17th century. As Como is known for its famous VIP guests throughout centuries, I was looking for the notorious villa of George Clooney, but instead I came across to the wonderful Expo of Eros. Well, not too bad as a trade off though.  A walk through the breathtaking palace along the lake where the expo was hosted, evoked in my memory the beautiful Myth of Eros and Psyche.

The myth of Psyche, the beautiful princess who won her immortality from her unconditional love and sacrifice for Eros, was embodied in expo’s artifacts as a symbol of soul-searching and personal growth through losing and preserving the real love.  The language of passion, devotion, and lust spoke in a artful and ardent way in this exhibition of textile from different artists worldwide. It was a great expo to attend and some of the images there I would love to share with you. Enjoy!

Week II : Travel Highlight Cefalú, Palermo, Mamma Sicilia

Two years ago I went for a week in Sicily, known as the garden of the Mediterranean. Located at the southern tip of Italy with all those wild stories you hear about it, I was quite curios and happy to go there. What I immediately found striking was that Sicily it’s more than just an island, it’s a huge island where bits and pieces of Europe, Africa and Asia are blended into one of the world’s first multicultural societies. It’s a unique place full of art and archaeology, history and breathtaking scenery. The fabulous mixture displayed in Greek amphitheaters, temples, Roman villas, Arab mosques and gardens, Norman cathedrals, Renaissance palaces, Baroque churches – more than 30 centuries of culture.  Not to my surprise I could see signs of several towns like Piana degli Albanesi that was founded or repopulated by the Albanians in 1488. These “Arbereshe” communities still exist today and some of these agricultural sites are distinguished for wine tasting and recreational activities.

Since happened to be in Palermo, I also visited the little coastal town, Cefalú. Its breathtaking rocky seaside along that charming little town made it quite interesting place to spend the day. Special were the little restaurants, souvenir shops, the delicious food and of course “La Grande Famiglia”gatherings. That was fun, when we had to squeeze ourselves in a tiny corner once the entire restaurant was “invaded” by 30 people part of a family celebration for a 1-year-old birthday boy. It was great to observe, as Sicilians are known to be unbeatable for their body language. As D.H. Lawrence writes about Sicilians in Sea and Sardinia “They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips.”



Week 1-Travel Highlight, Bol, Croatia

The Balkan summer this year was an absolute highlight. The island of Brac in Croatia was the final destination after driving along Dalmatian coastal area and stopping over other alluring places. The ultimate place for sunbath, suntan, water sports, known as one of the most popular destinations in Europe is Bol. Its most famous and recognizable beach, by all means, is Zlatni Rat. As a pure miracle of nature is known for its golden horn shape which tip shifts with the changes of currents and winds. In contrast to the western side of the horn which is exposed to strong winds and big surfing waves, the eastern part is blessed with calm waters, perfect for sunbaths, chilling and sipping margaritas in nearby bars.

Another beautiful spotlight is Dominican Monastery, the oldest institution of Bol. It was a nice change of scenery with crystal clear beaches and shady pine-lined promenade. Waters were cold, but who cared.

And of course the experience was not complete without enjoying a real taste of Dalmatian cuisine at the famous restaurant in Bol, Vagabundo. The food was delicious and the waiter serving us looked like coming straight from Sinatra’s Epoque. Definitely a funky and yet remarkable treatment that will stay in memory for a long time. So was the vivid night life by the beach with bar girls playing violins in the background.


Walking along Estoril -the hotbed of Espionage and James Bond Birthplace

Once in Lisbon, so many options are available in the nearby area. Taking a train for 40 minutes, about 30 km west to Lisbon, the obvious stop is the small and charming village Cascais, (pronounced ‘Kesh-kaysh’), by the way there’s a lot of ‘shshshshsh’ in Portuguese. Exploring the picturesque village, its elegant shops, bars, and colorful cobblestone walkways lasted almost the whole day. I could literally walk for kilometers by the beach in the direction of Estoril and look at the breathtaking beaches which were completely empty in early spring. Local fishermen, kayakers, surfer dudes, happy joggers along sophisticated Mansions on the rocky Estoril coast, seagulls skimming the waves across the Atlantic sandy beaches, set the perfect stage for a long promenade.

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Just there on the seashore was an impressive medieval-like castle, further followed by an English style mansion. Not to mention here the famous Estoril Casino centered in Estoril. It was very interesting to learn its story. The author of James Bond novels, Ian Flemming spend part of the second world war in Estoril, which at that time was the place where spies met, as during world wars Portugal was a safe neutral heaven. Actually “Casino Royale” is a product of the real Casino Estoril as it was created by what Flemming experienced there.
Being a place of a thousand sensations, next time in the area I must make it at the most western cliff of Cabo da Roca. There’s always something left to come back.

Lessons from Lisbon

My 35th birthday celebration turned out to be quite special in Lisbon-the roller coaster city of seven hills, headdress by the Moorish castle, and refreshed by artistic air throughout. The compelling historic background of this mega-city has a lot to offer in museums, sightseeing, people diversity and landscape. But not only. What I found really striking is this powerful and roughness element floating around in air, in people’s fashion, street graffiti, rumbling trams, melancholic fado songs and live jazzy nights. Here’s a music pre-taste, Portuguese strings & Fado magic.

Being a woman in Portugal, the Desingual like color show of dresses exposed in every shop entrance is almost irresistible. So is the sweet taste of Port wine which is traditional of Portugal also served as dessert, the aromatic Ginja liqueur, the delicious maritime cuisine served in charming restaurants of the old town. All the fascinating artistic blender and taste of Lisbon comes with a modest price tag even, compared to other cities of seven hills like Rome for instance. So here there are some highlights of Lisbon. There is more to come in the next blog entries, gorgeous beaches crowned by royal palaces nearby. Stay tuned.









Lana Del Rey: Lolita Lost in the 60’s Hood

Sensational Lana in her ravishing retro style looked like she just stepped off the set of Mad Men into the stage O2 World Hamburg arena.


Lana Del Rey for German “Interview.”
Photo: Courtesy of “Interview” magazine

At first, I wasn’t quite sure in attending her concert in early April during my short stay in Hamburg, as I rather pictured her comfortably sitting in the role of a lounge singer which doesn’t exactly fit into an exciting live concert framing. I certainly would have not thought twice of going to a classical Rolling Stones, Metallica, or even not so classical Pink or Coldplay concert. But given the fact that I was invited and that deep down I enjoyed her Summer Sadness epic song, I find myself power walking for 20 minutes against some 60 thousand disappointed Hamburg fans that had left the stadium after Hamburg – Freiburg football match. It wasn’t easy, but luckily to my advantage the concert started with an hour delay. And when it did I was dazzled by the overwhelming performance of this young artist. She was still quite shy in engaging the audience, but her remarkable 50’s meets 60’s style, baby doll gone Priscilla Presley like bridal, self-styled “Gangsta Nancy Sinatra” meets “Lolita lost in the Hood” was unique in its own dramatic tenderness and sensual retro performance.

Of course certain stunning public appearance make someone think further and provoke endless conversations on her genuine authenticity as female artist versus reinventing herself as a perfect manufactured product. Just surfing the web there’s plenty of evidence on her earlier failure as Lizzy Grant (her original name) when her very first album fell unnoticed, untraced, while the later slick Lana Del Rey image with her soaring vocal and natural 60’s look, controversially triggered fame and indisputable success.

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Marketing product or not, the re-inventing of Lana Del Ray who appears to just have left the Mad Men rehearsal dinner in a simply gorgeous look, devine voice and playful apperance is certainly a new phenomena in the music trend, which set the stage for further artistic and tasteful impressions.

Evolution on Wings

Here it’s again that time of the year to take off to some daunting destination, far from all the homie Christmas madness to a different sort of holiday frenzy. Sited comfortably at Lufthansa I start my journey. It’s noon and i’m craving a light French style breakfast, may be a croissant or some buttered baguette sandwich, but instead an almost frozen pasta salad lays in front of me, cold and uninviting. At least there’s some coffee and orange juice to ease the disappointment.

Early on board service

What’s wrong with airline service nowadays? What happened to the “dinning experience” no longer than a decade ago? I still recall the 2001 luxurious treatment on board of economy Swissair or KLM. Even other European airlines like Alitalia or Olympic did not fall behind serving those warm Mediterranean meals.

Let’s have a quick look at the Evolution on Wings. In the early days of civic aviation meals on board were unthinkable as the cabins were loud and passengers were way nervous to eat. The very first in-flight meals served in Europe were tea and venison sandwich. This was served in 1919 on the route between England and France in a plane that accommodated only four passengers. On the same year it was KLM that installed a kitchen on board, but after 15 mins cabinet holding drinks felt down due to vibrations. The competition certainly did not stop there. By 1928, Lufthansa came up with the so called ” flying dinning car” on the route Berlin-Paris. A small in-flight kitchen made possible to serve a hot meal to 15 passengers at their individual trays. And so on.

Luftansa early on board service

The competition made these airlines up their service bar until recent decades when airline business is facing hardships to keep the cost under control. Since most European airlines are on crisis mode, they have constantly to cut costs, and that’s to regards to service on board. That’s how my lunch on board of Lufthansa looked like recently. And I should be even pleased to get this pasta salad because most other European airlines are only offering drinks on board.

pasta salad

But that’s definitely not the case with other lush airlines like Emirates.

On the board of Emirates

The 13 hours flight to Kuala Lumpur was gratifying. Just by asking an isle seat in a fully booked flight we got upgraded to first class. The whole modern setting, the comfort, the outstanding service of the crew set the stage for an unforgettable experience. The long flight, the 7 hours jet-lag, the pre-flight agitation went away smoothly and even before realizing it here we land.

Helo Kuala Lumpur!

Petronas Towers

My Man of Letters

Did you ever experience that feeling of time freezing upon you?

I certainly did.

It happened a couple of times for several reasons; fear from altitude, breathtaking sceneries, or dreadful nightmares. Now that I think of, it is somehow related to open space, peaceful skies, endless sea line in either dreams or reality. This summer through cruising around in beautiful Antibes I came across to this kind of beauty that stroke me immediately like a bolt of lightning. It left me feeble and immobile. As crazy as it sounds, the open air floating splendor of the Man of Letters named Le Nomade looking out over the Mediterranean creates a sudden vacuum once you glance at it. This perfect blender of art and nature is quite overwhelming. What you make of such magnificence, a gigantic figurehead entirely made of letters. Le Nomade, being a creation of a Catalan artist Jaume Plensa who lives and works in between Barcelona and Paris is a permanent invitation to seize this incredible combination of light, sound, and language. Though the mirage of the bright white Man of Letters against the deep blue sea surface can’t stand alone without the walls of Saint Jaume bastion. Such a magnificent mixture of ancient roman times with contemporary art makes a special space for every visitor.

Once you’re there, you’ll stumble across the magic of this art piece, which is immensely in line with the work of Picasso engraved everywhere along Antibes pathways. To make the story short, if you’re in Cote d’Azzur don’t miss the Man of Letters.

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The Naked and the Posh at the French Riviera. (Part 2)

The first evening in Cannes started curiously looking at the wealth demonstration in La Croisette Boulevard. Image

Everything seems literally shinier there, the signature shops of Dior, Burberry, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Yves Saint-Lauren, the jewels’ exhibition in the lobby of Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, the shelter of movie stars, the impressive Galeries Bartoux, the lighten promenade occupied by world-class models on frame of the 9th international photographic festival on Mode and Beaute, the gleaming red Ferrari driving by…

At some point we have to eat dinner. It definitely feels like the most dangerous avenue to satisfy our gourmet appetite. Look at this hotel, the menu is first written in Russian followed by French translated version. In situations like this my modest French skills become handy, but let’s check further for something less dangerous. A waiter with a trendy haircut and Armani belt approached to take the order. That went well. We got what we wanted in a minimalistic size. Where do you find such a place where the portion itself take care of your ideal body figure? Too bad there is no Quality Burger Restaurant near by, if not at all to ease our “stomach pain”. But hey, there’s always delicious red wine. That can certainly soften our souls.

A failed version of Brigitte Bardot is now approaching the table next to us where these two Algerian looking-like women are sitting. Still a mystery how the ladies knew each other, but it was definitely very amusing to listen to their spiced-up conversation. How to convince the young Algerian lady in her early thirties that there’s still time to find the right man? This coming from a single 60’s Bohemian lady who was never married, but she seemed to happily enjoy her freedom and her yoga state of mind.

The days were usual, free tanning sessions at the crowed public beaches opposed to lying in a 40 Euro beach chair, little ice-cream and Orangina breaks to satisfy thirst, afternoon naps in the little oasis at the charming backyard of our hotel. Life is pretty good in here!

As Cannes is being the playground of every world’s elite including rich and famous, royals and multi-billionaires, celebrities and stars, want to be moneyed and want to be celebrated, it sets the stage of an arrogant and rather patronizing behavior even at an early age. So there’s no joke, you see little kids rather 14 years old running around with jeans and classy jackets sitting on bars sipping, well, just apple juice. Also, Cannes is certainly the place where hot chicks are neither secretive nor put out of the sight. Totally dressed up in their fancy evening dresses it gets even difficult of distinguishing them from the “good girls” of La Croissete Boulevard who certainly have a style of their own. Flirting and playing around you get to see in every corner; in the colorful avenue, by the beach, in the party area, on the back door of Film Festival Palace where wild parties are being thrown for the worlds’ most glamorous celebrities.  Even a flirty approach in midnight clubbing line had a rather classy style to it, as being asked by the club body guard if I was alone or with “my husband”.

Is it really everything about status in this overexcited posh environment, isn’t it? Enough of this madness! Let’s go to somewhere more inspiring, warm, and inviting.

Next stop: Little charming of its own kind French town, the beautiful Antibes!

The Naked and the Posh at the French Riviera. (Part 1)

As summer goes by incredibly fast so does the pressure increase for grasping every free moment. It is impossible not to notice the countless check-ins and the notorious vacation images in the busy Facebook timelines of my friends. It almost feels like in a free fall magazine contest, who takes the better shots, who checks in the coolest bars, who visits the most exotic places out there.  I see a stunning video of my friend paragliding in southern Albania coast, some breathtaking Barcelona pictures where history is harmonically blend with futuristic Dali-like taste, a check in at mad garlic restaurant in Seoul, sailing near Sardine shores, or a colorful image of spice market in Dubai. I also didn’t fall behind, though. I made sure to keep myself busy and post few camera+ images on FB from my recent trip to Côte d’Azur. The FB Pandora box is totally irresistible especially when I’m on vacation.

Wow what a trip!!! Côte d’Azur, an area styled with love and tenderness…terrific nature, deep blue sea, coastal beauty, fancy cuisine, all in line with the irresistible French lifestyle and culture. Here we land in Nice! 

An old playboy dressed all in white linen outfit, crocodile leather shoes waiting in his fancy black Mercedes with a taxi yellow sign. It took one moment when my boyfriend and I already in the taxi exchanged a “worried look”- uhhh, this will get pricy. Luckily it was a short drive, 5 minutes or 42 Euros. Welcome to Nice! We go for a little walk in the main avenue by the sea – La Promenade des Anglais. The striking fancy 5 star hotels and the main highlight, Le Negresco hotel followed by fancy beach bars, restaurants and boats already set the bar high and made us want to explore more.

Next train station: Monaco – Monte Carlo. Taking the lift up to the 14th floor, the door opened to a spectacular view of a city build on a rock.

Monaco, the oasis of rich and famous, where in this small state are squeezed all these fancy buildings and there are even more new constructions going on. I guess it’s in there where the 13,000 residents are hiding since in the streets I could only recognize tourists like myself.

Overcrowed with proudly standing yachts was the shore as well. It’s interesting to know how much it costs to anchor the yacht there, since renting a 140 m2 apartment starts from 2,800 Euro. But hey, there’s no price big enough for anchoring a “sweet doll”.

And just walking a bit further we run into an occupied yacht. Look at the pretty young ladies dinning in style and being taken good care of a generous Grandpa!

Well, we have to hurry up. Last train departs at 23:42. Let’s play it safe and leave a bit earlier. Just in case – the taxi ride back sure would end up three-digit…

Stuck up in the air from Rome to Vienna

My vacation didn’t start until I placed the feet on that plane. Once I accommodated myself comfortably in my seat, turned off the iGadgets, put myself in airplane mode, it then hit me. It wasn’t at the moment when the trip was booked, sent off the last report, phoned to my boss and said “I’m going on vacation”, checked in my luggage at Tirana International Airport “Mother Teresa” , or when constantly got those typical sort of pre-departure looks (where is she going…) Usually knowing someone at the boarding gate is pretty funky. It can start with a sweet request “Let me help you holding your luggage!” to the weirdest one “can you change 200 Euro with smaller cuts?”. As if this matters. C’mon guys, we are flying most likely to different transit destinations and since now it is peak season I certainly got a plan…


It happened the moment I unfolded the Alitalia magazine ” Let’s go to the islands”. Just that my destination is not an island. It’s rather the beautiful region of “Cote d’Azur”, but the first stop before the real beach time off is Vienna. Why so? For very good reasons: Two nights, two concerts, and tonight is ‘Boss Time’, Bruce Springsteen playing at Ernst-Happel Stadium. So here I am waiting at the gate B28 of Fiumicino airport in Roma. Everything seems to go smoothly since I got a couple of hours to hang out in the duty free shops until I get totally incapable of distinguishing any new fragrance. Yes, I’m not an exception to most women when it comes to shopping and perfumes.


Here I was in my own up in the air world, sitting on the window seat, and looking at the merging borderline of the clear Roman sky falling deep into the blue sea when suddenly I heard twice an announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now returning to the Fiumicino airport due to a technical problem…” Ohhhh damn it, did I hear that well!?! This is so like in a wrong movie, one of this overblown Hollywood plots with too much drama on board! But what drama!!! Everyone was so calm on board, kindly asking questions to the flight attendants if the issue is too serious or how risky the landing will be while flight attendants were busy explaining that the issue was not worrisome. I thought this could be over soon, they are just trying to keep us tranquil and it was eventually working since there were no strange signs or turbulences on the plane. So I asked the aged man sitting next to me as for seeking reassurance to my legitimate concern. In contrast, he didn’t look worried at all, rather had a regretful talk about missing Springsteen live tonight in Vienna.

After safely landing while some people were busy applauding on the board here we were again walking through the airport corridors searching for our gate, the same B28 one. In déjà vu mode we were desperately looking to hearing good news, an early departure to Vienna. The first notice of Alitalia was that we will depart in less then 1 hour. Cool while the impatient waiting continues. The second notice followed: ‘Ok guys we got the plane, we got the crew, we are missing the pilot. Any volunteer?’ LOL, that was a good one and can certainly leave plenty of room to passengers minds for playing with the idea of a “lost pilot” who was probably enjoying a glass of wine in some airport booth.

Once the captain was found we were now boarding again. The flight went smoothly, it had to go. I was feeling the exhaustion already. Good evening, Vienna! I stuffed myself into a taxi and asked to be dropped off at Fleming’s Deluxe while Springsteen already started rocking with other 50+ thousands fans. I was sad.