The Dude goes France

For the first time in Austria’s’ football history we take part in a European championship through qualification. As with so many boys at the age of 9, Football/Soccer is one of their main interests. So when my Dad told me, he wanted to give the Dude a ticket to a game in France for Christmas, complete with him traveling there by plane with my parents, and him traveling back by himself, I knew he’d be thrilled.

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All was organized and then November 13th came. Terror attacks in Paris. Naturally I was shocked. But this time something else came into the mix. The fear for my child. My first instinct was to not let him travel there and I talked about it with the Ex and my parents. My Dad told me that he would go nevertheless, but that he understood if the Ex and I wouldn’t let our child go.

At the beginning of December we were at a friend’s house, when the boys (and the Mamas) watched the drawing. The  Dude was pretty excited about his Grandfather going to Bordeaux and Nice to watch a couple of games and so was his little friend who already knew that his grandfather would take him to Paris. I was still not sure about the Dude going but loved to see him so excited about something.

Christmas came and the Dude received his presents. As you can imagine, he was ecstatic. Going to Nice for a couple of days and watch a game at the Euro 2016. I did explain to him though that I would keep the right to not let him go to Nice and he understood my reasoning.

Slowly the idea of terror faded and I got used to the idea of him traveling.

A couple of weeks later my Dad won the “Follow your team” draw lottery and had 4 tickets for every game Austria took part in. At dinner he asked whether we wanted to go and my stepsister and I immediately decided a trip to Paris sounded great. We picked the Austria – Portugal game and decided the Dude could come to.

Paris

I checked tickets to Paris, but they were insanely expensive. So we revised our plan and decided to make an adventure out of it. Friday morning flying into Brussels, then spend a day and night there eating Vlaamse Friet and visiting Manneken Pis and then take the train to Paris on Saturday morning. A day in Paris, the soccer game at night and traveling back via Brussels on Sunday.

3 days after everything was booked, the terror attacks in Brussels happened.

Meanwhile I am slightly sarcastic about it. It looks a bit as if we try to get the most possible exposure and how can we get into danger zone. The thing is – it isn’t only about me anymore. It is about my child that I expose to danger.

Am I afraid? Hell yes. Do I think that something will happen somewhere during the Euro championship? Yes. I have a vivid imagination in this direction. Will I look over my shoulder every step of the way and see potential terrorists in every suspicious person? I guess so. Will it stop us from going? No. Cause we can’t let fear rule our life. 

The thoughts that torture me most at the moment though, are whether or how I should prepare my 9-year-old in case something happens.

Two days ago, I woke up sweating. I had dreamed that some guys were shooting into a group of people and I lay on the floor dead and my son sat crying next to me. I wondered whether I should tell him what to do. But how do I know? Do you run? Do you pretend to be dead? I don’t think there is an answer to this question. I think if you ever are in this situation – and hopefully none of us ever will – you react out of instinct.

If I talk to him about it, I might plant a fear in him, he is yet mostly unaware of. But what if something happens to me and he is all by himself in France? He doesn’t speak French.

I guess I will not breathe easily until he is home safely from Nice. But he is a child. And I want him to enjoy this experience. I want to see the sparkling in his eyes when the game starts. I want him to be hoarse from shouting and laughing so much during the game. I want to be with him when he sees the Eiffel tower and I want him to have a happy and remarkable childhood. He is lucky in the way that he can experience the Euro 2016 in person. How cool is it to watch Austria play Portugal – and then in Paris?? He is a very lucky boy to get to travel to France twice in the space of 10 days at the age of 9. But if that is possible, how could I take that from him?

Yes, life is dangerous. And maybe it is more dangerous during the championship in France. But danger lurks everywhere. I won’t let fear stop me from enjoying life and I want my kids to enjoy life and make the most of it.

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The travel project – part 6 – Switzerland

As long as I can remember I have had an issue with Switzerland – or mainly swiss people. I kind of dislike them and their accent, which is a very stupid thing to say and I know it.

I guess it comes from having had a swiss boss when I worked in the Netherlands, who just was not a nice person.

Since my brother moved to Switzerland 3 years ago to study acting, Switzerland became an option, and with my travel project this year, I decided to give it a try and see for myself. I booked my tickets for the overnight train to Zurich and the continuing ticket to Bern and packed my bags.

The well needed afterwork drinks with my bestie took a little longer than expected and when the subway which would take me to the station was delayed, I got slightly stressed.

So when I finally made it to the train with only minutes to spare, breathing hard, and having started a sweat, I was looking forward to my comfy seat and a night of rest. Upon entering the carriage I was greeted by a shrill voice and a group of people standing in front of a 6 people cabin. I instinctively knew that was my cabin.

I bypassed the lady with the shrill voice and two other people, she had a discussion with, and entered the cabin which was already filled with a Russian family of three. My mood, which had not been good since missing the subway, went from grumpy to highly grumpy. Especially since the Russian daughter sat in the window opposite me and all plans of extending the two seats into a bed vaporized into thin air.

The lady with the shrill voice rambled on about something and I completely ignored her – which is usually not my way of treating people. She told us about going for a walk and when she came back after 15 minutes telling us she would sit somewhere else less crowded, the Russian girl and I shared an evil grin.

Being the ignorant person that I am, I claimed the seat next to mine as well, and soon folded myself into an “L” position, meaning my legs were on the floor, my head on my seat and my bum on the seat next to mine. The Russian father moved to my side of the isle, the mother lay over her two seats and the daughter just stayed upright. All in our positions, we dozed off.

Apart from my back killing me, I felt okay about this situation, until our two-hour stop in Salzburg, where their son also joined us. Seeing as I am the ignorant person that I am, I held onto my second seat and let the family of 4 have the other 4 seats. Although I asked the mother to put her feet on my seat as well. Seeing as they offered me cookies (which they ate as well), I assume they did not hate me.

For a short while I thought about moving into another cabin but I preferred to share with the Russian family than with a guy with sweaty feet and smoke breath – yes all other cabins were inhabited by guys like that. I wonder though why they give out reserved seats all together…

As you know me being the uber-organized person that I am, you will be surprised to learn that I arrived in Zürich, having made plans with my little brother to meet him at his platform, but not knowing where and when he would arrive and not having his swiss phone number with me…

After having spend half of my wage on going to the toilet, storing my overnight bag and an orange juice, I started to look for my brother, while simultaneously chatting to the boyfriend (yes!), trying to find out my brothers’ number and getting a feeling for my surroundings.

In the end, we met and started our tour through Zürich. I have to admit it. I liked it. Ok, I say it again – I was wrong – I like the swiss cities I experienced – namely Zürich and Bern. And I also found the swiss people very charming and polite (although I still think their accent is weird, but hey, who am I to say with my Viennese ghetto slang…).

On one of my last trips, I decided to take the camera with me again – as opposed to the mobile camera and I took loads of pictures. I really liked the architecture and the cleanliness of everything.

Zürich is interesting, as you can see its wealth on every corner. People look rich, drive expensive cars and have big houses. On the other hand I loved leaving the beaten tracks again and walking through the small roads.

Bern really reminds me of a mideavel town, its architecture looking as if a court jester might just turn around the next corner. All buildings are nicely renovated and super clean.

Bern is very hilly and the river Aare curves through the center. It is nice to take a run along the river, then walk through town and visit the bears that are the (name) patrons of Bern (if they are not on holiday due to renovation – which obviously happens to me). I also noticed that the Swiss like their flags. They are everywhere.

I can only give you one restaurant recommendation, as Switzerland is really as expensive as everyone thinks, we ate at home most of the time.

We had breakfast in Loft 5 in Zürich though, which is a really nice restaurant on a patio. Unfortunately they are building a new city district at the moment, so the view is not the nicest.

The Euro to the Swiss Franc is 1:1 at the moment, which makes even an economic imbecile like me understand how expensive everything is…

Find enclosed a couple of pics and let’s see where the journey will lead me to next. Again – I wrote that post and then kind of forgot to post it. Since then I made some weekend trips to places in Austria, as well as another trip to Munich, the Bodensee and Salzburg. Next weekend the boyfriend and I will go to Stuttgart and in October Venice is booked. I guess I really make a trip a month this year!

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The travel project – part 5 – Munich

I just found out that I had two finished blog posts which I kept from you! Sorry about that.

Surfer Dude plays hockey. So when I was asked whether he would go away with the hockey club to an U10 tournament in Munich, I checked with him and he readily agreed. Under the condition that he did not sleep there on his own. Seeing as my baby is only 8 and the youngest of the boys to join the group, I decided to go with him and have a nice weekend in Munich.

On Friday afternoon, we met up at the railway station, and I was reminded again, that being a parent doesn’t necessarily mean you like other kids. Cause I don’t. Not all kids at least. Going away with 20 kids – on a train – to another city ain’t fun.

The shock was even bigger when we arrived at our destination for the next two nights. A youth hostel. I am definitely not a luxury princess – but I didn’t even stay at a youth hostel as a student, therefore I hadn’t planned on staying in one at the age of 35. I think it also was not really suitable for kids – to say the least – which is no one’s fault, as it was awarded with a badge for family friendliness (is there a word like that?). While our coordinator checked us in, we tried to keep the kids together in the lobby, which was filled with drunk, smoking guys on stag nights, some homeless people and Italian travel groups that screamed around loudly. If you ever met a group of Italians abroad you know what I mean. For a minute I daydreamed about kidnapping my child and checking us into the 5* hotel on the other side of the road…My idea of spending the evening in a lovely hotel bar therefore died on the spot as well. Instead I had an unplanned room party with 4 other parents, which was pretty fun as well.

What is even worse than the kids on a trip like that, are the parents that join these kids, with who you unwillingly have to hang out and get along (And yes – people who read my blog are the exception :-)). There are different personalities and different ideas of how the time should be spent. There is a reason why coaches don’t like parents to join on these trips, and I myself am no exception. Being the bad parent that I am, I had made my own plans for the weekend, which didn’t go down to good with the other parents. Therefore I dutifully got up at 6am with the others (after having drunk till 2am) and after a quick breakfast took a three different trains and buses-45 minute-journey to get to the hockey hall, where I could watch my sons three games, before heading into the center.

Two days beforehand, I had decided I wanted to get a new tattoo and had done my research and communicated with the guys from Chaos Crew Munich. I was told that I could try my luck and come there any time during the afternoon. So after a short stroll through Munich, which was way too short, I followed my map and showed up at Chaos Crew Tattoo. There was a sign at reception stating “Beware of the snake” – I started laughing and said to the guy, “you’re kidding, right?” He smiled at me and said, we think someone has taken it, but just to be on the safe side, we put up the sign. She has not been seen for the last 2 months… The guy behind the counter was really nice, but tried to get rid of me, by telling me there were no appointments available. I pleaded with him and used my biggest smile, until he took the picture of the tattoo I wanted (really small) and went to talk to the tattoo artist. He came back and told me we could do the tattoo around 6 and it would have been better if I had shown up earlier…(chaos – true to their word – cause the guy I had emailed with until 2 am could have told me that). After learning that it might also happen earlier, I decided to wait there and was offered coffee and cake, which I think is a great idea for a business! “The tattoo cake and coffee shop.”

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Given the size of the tattoo, the reception guy and I decided that it could not be more than € 50, but after waiting for 2 hours the tattoo artist shattered all my dreams by telling me that the minimum prize for tattoos at their studio was € 200. He then said he could offer it to me for 100, but could not go any lower. I pleaded with him, but he stood his ground and insisted on € 100. He then looked into my eyes and said – but I could do two for the price of 100. I was torn. I whatsapped with the bestie at home and went to the local store to clear my head. I did not like the idea of doing something I was not sure about or just do something cause I would get it for free.

The tattoo artist had suggested to get a celtic sign – which I just knew was not me. The only thing we had both agreed on was the placement. I liked the idea of getting a lettering of something that meant something to me. I knew which kind of lettering and showed it to him. And suddenly I knew.

I got my two tattoos, and went back to meet up with the others. The kids were at dinner with the other parents. The posh parents asked me whether I had enjoyed my afternoon off shopping, or whether I had met a guy, and I wish I would have had a camera when I told them “no, I just went to get tattoos”.

The next morning I had a business meeting in regards to a christening with the god mother, who lives in Munich. She took me to the Reitschule, which is a beautiful restaurant, where we enjoyed a great breakfast.

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I didn’t see a lot of Munich, but it definitely made me want to go back, and experience it some more.

Which I did at the beginning of July with the boyfriend. I now really love Munich, I love Weisswurst and I know that there are loads of rich people and hookers in Munich. 🙂

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Kat-suations.

I am sorry. I apologize. I know I should write more. But first of all there is no time. Lots of work, which I have reduced now – so that should be easier in the future. Kids – school starts tomorrow, so life should be more regulated than as well, and with princess girl starting school I am sure there is lots of material coming up. Boyfriend – nope, don’t plan on spending less time with him 😉 etc. But what’s way more important – there is a lack of inspiration. Nothing “weird” is happening to me. At least that’s what I told one of my faithful readers when she asked about my writing two days ago…

Then I thought to myself – hang on a minute – this is you you’re talking about. Kat. Walking disaster. I am sure there are things happening to you. But you are just so used to them – you don’t even think about writing about them anymore.

So here are a couple of recent, typical Kat-situations – I could actually create a new word for things like that – Kat-suations:

The kids have had head lice three times over the summer. I know that sounds disgusting and when you don’t have kids or young kids, or your kids are lucky enough to never have had them, you imagine my kids have to be filthy and uncared for – which they are not, I do wash them from time to time :-). But apparently everyone can get them. Especially in school and kindergarten, and mine hit the checkpot this summer. I was lucky in the way that the small creatures always seemed to emerge when the kids stayed with the Ex, which means by now he is a pro at checking, washing and combing their hair. Obviously my head started to itch every time as soon as I heard that the kids had lice, but so far I have been sparred.

During their last week of summer school the kids told me that there were lice again at  school, but that everyone had been checked and no animals had been found in their hair. You can imagine my dismay when during Daddy-Day the Ex sent me a text saying “WTF – the kids have lice again!?!” Being the good Dad that he is, he checked and washed and combed their hair and returned them lice-free in the evening.

Wanting to be on the save side, this time I went to the pharmacy and bought an anti-lice shampoo as well as a preventive shampoo – both for the small amount of € 35!!! After returning from my evening run – different story! – I wet and shampooed my hair and planned on waiting the 15 minutes before washing it off again. I am not even mentioning that I got the stupid shit into my eyes and that it felt kind of weird on my hair. No. What I want to mention though is that I pushed over the bottle and everything spilled onto my bathroom floor. Yes, I mean everything and I am talking about the € 23 shampoo (the other one was € 12). After breathing deeply I also read the instructions which stated, that the shampoo should have been applied to dry hair…which explains the feeling weird part. Hope it killed any possible suckers though…

A day later, after having spent 7 hours on a windy hockey field, I went to the supermarket with the kids. I had planned on cooking lasagna when the boyfriend and his kids came for lunch the next day and was looking for all the ingredients. I was happy when I spotted green lasagna sheets on an upper shelf. As I was pretty sure that the kids (and by now I know also the boyfriend) would not eat green pasta I started looking for the yellow sheets. I pulled down the carton from the top. After an unsuccessful search I gave up and pushed it back onto the upper shelf. I pushed it back and back and back and suddenly had a weird feeling. Do you know that feeling when you know something is off? This came approximately a nano-second before I heard the goods on the other side of the aisle fall off the shelf and a guy swearing. As in slow motion the sound of things falling down did not stop. Obviously – knowing my luck – it ended with the sound of glass breaking.

The kids looked at me with wide eyes and I could already see nosy people making their way to the other side of the aisle – don’t you have a life?? I asked the kids to stay where the were, which they obviously did not do, so all three of us walked to the other side to have a look. I inspected the mess which was a mixture of sweets and cereal, topped by a couple of broken tomato sauce glasses, when three teenage girls passed by. The top dog said all cool: “o o someone needs to pay for that, haha.” Me – so not being in the mood: “Do you want to pay for it?” She – with an attitude: “A a (teenage lingo for no) – that must be done by the person who did that”. Me stating slightly pissed: “That was me.” She: “O – then move away quickly!”, which I kind of found cute again. Being the person that I am though, I went to a member of the staff and apologized – she just waved me off saying: “no worries, nothing happened.”

The same evening while running (told you that was a different story), I nearly tripped over a wooden stick, which then bounced off my foot and hit a car.

I guess what I want to say is, things are happening to me. I just have to take a closer look and share them with you.

And yes there will be a story about the running and my other plans and ideas. And all.

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Finding love

When I thought about separating from the husband, I remember a talk with one of my friends telling me that she would never dare to separate from her partner, the father of her children, because what if she won’t meet another guy.

Being in the situation of unhappiness I had lots of doubts and lots of thoughts, but there were not many things I was afraid of. I was not afraid that I could not make it money-wise, and I was not afraid to never meet someone to love again. Whether it is because my parents both have found love again, or whether it is in my nature, I am not sure, but I was not afraid. I was looking forward to falling in love again, and to meet someone who would be right for me, treat me right, make me happy and love me for who I am.

Right after the separation, my idea was to just enjoy being on my own and find myself.

A friend of mine, told me about making a list of traits her future boyfriend should have, shortly before meeting her husband. Having had good experience with “The secret” and self-fulfilling proficies with my work situation and also just to find out what I want, I started a list, which I kept next to my bed, adding things from time to time. In the end it was 36 points long. I closed it, but didn’t look at it for several months.

I always knew I wanted to meet someone again, but I also knew I was not ready. When the husband met his girlfriend last summer, I was happy for them. Only a couple of months later, going into winter did I start to want something for me to. I wanted to have someone to love me and someone to share the “normality” of life with, someone to date but also to just hang on the sofa with, but knew I could not force it.

On the day my friend and hairdresser invited me to her birthday party, the ex and I had been skiing with the kids, I had a bad hair day and did not feel like going out at all. I didn’t know anyone except my friend, but I really like her, and wanted to make a quick appearance at her party. I remember I put on weird make-up – meaning I did it different than usually, and put on a T-shirt stating “Shut up”. I went to the party and had a real laugh with a couple of gay hairdressers, who were very rude to me, but I loved it.

After a while I noticed a very attractive guy sitting on the other side of the table who seemed to be there by himself as well. I found myself looking over to him from time to time. And caught him looking at me, and smiling at me, which had me interested. Once the gays left, I joined him on the other side of the table and we started chatting.

I found out that he had recently separated (and by that I mean VERY recently), and that he had two kids. I liked him. I liked chatting to him and I liked laughing with him. When it was time for me to go home to relieve the babysitter, he asked for my number and said he really wanted to meet me again. When I said my good-byes to my friend she smiled at me and said  “I see you hit it off, I invited him especially for you.” I asked whether he was the guy we had talked about the previous summer, when I asked her whether she had someone in mind for me and she confirmed it.

The next day I found my thoughts going back to his smile and to the conversation we shared. I internet stalked him and told my besties about him. I knew he came with a lot of baggage and that his situation was complicated, with him being only recently separated, having two kids, being a triathlete as well as having a business, but I was still interested.

I couldn’t stop myself and started a short but nice conversation with him, which ended with him telling me – he was looking forward to meeting up again.

And that was it.

No contact, no message, no nothing.

Being who I am I continued checking out his very public profile, and thinking about contacting him again, coming to the conclusion that he was just not that into me, otherwise he would have contacted me. My friend told me that his life with the separation was complicated and maybe I did not fit into it at the moment.

Time passed and I went on two trips. After coming back from Venice, I debated with myself whether I would seem over-eager or easy or annoying or clingy, if I contacted him. But I just needed to know. Apparently this one evening had made a sub-conscious impression on me. I decided I had nothing to lose and send him a message asking whether we would find some time for our drink.

He replied within a minute and we kept chatting for hours. The next day we met for a spontaneous date, which felt so familiar and so right. We chatted about everything and I felt myself falling for him.

The date ended with him walking me home, but not kissing me. While brushing my teeth, I wondered why he had not kissed me and had the fantasy of him ringing my bell and coming back just to kiss me. I didn’t know that meanwhile he was sitting in the car in front of my house, being angry at himself for not kissing me goodnight.

We continued texting and talking on the phone for the next couple of days but I was still wary of his situation. 

The next weekend I went to my friends hen night, where we spent a lovely day on a lake outside of Vienna. Around midnight we drove back and went to a bar in the center. As agreed, I called him, while the other girls went inside and we discussed whether it made sense for us to meet up that night, me being on a hen night and all. After 15 minutes of conversation that did not lead anywhere close to a decision, I told him we should just leave it, it was too complicated. He asked me whether I was sure and I agreed. He asked me again whether I was sure, and when I looked up to agree, he was standing right in front of me and asked me whether I really thought he would make the same mistake twice – to go home without having kissed me…

In case you wonder, after a couple of days I remembered my list. He checks 34 out of 36 boxes. I think that is pretty damn good.

I knew that I would meet someone again. And I know it won’t always be easy and there is still a lot to come. But I never thought I’d meet someone, who makes me feel so good. Every single day.

And again, I don’t know if there is a happy ever after. But who does? I decided to go with the flow and believe in it. Enjoy the happiness he gives me. Enjoy being held and being healed. Cause I deserve to be happy. And I deserve to be loved for who I am. And I will take what I deserve. And let someone love me. While I love him.

broken pieces

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The travel project – part 4 – Venice.

I know I still owe you Munich, but I have to do Venice first, seeing as this is your typical Kat-story. Yes, you know what I mean. Not your travel tips and tricks, although I’ll make sure to add a few of those as well, but me going on holiday. Attracting all kinds of trouble. And no, I am not talking about gorgeous Italian men, but more like trouble trouble…

For the past year I dreamed about taking the kids on a beach holiday this summer. All my dreams came to a full stop when I checked prices. So when the parents of princess girls kindergarten friends (for easy reference now called mother friend and father friend), who I am friends with as well, asked whether we wanted to join them on a trip to Venice for the Easter holidays I jumped on my chance and took it. Mother friend always fancied to stay in a Palazzo in Venice, so when she found one on Air bnb we decided to book it. A single (female) friend of them – without kids – also decided to join us. I guess if you don’t have kids around all the time, the idea of going on holiday with 3 boys and 1 girl between 4 and 8 might sound like fun – wait no, even in this case I think it does not.

In the morning of Good Friday I packed the kids and the car seats into their 7 seater car and after a short fight between dude and princess about who would sit in the last row – he thought it’d be cool, she just wanted to sit next to me, I bribed dude with the PS vita and folded princess girl and myself into the boot of the car.

Two hours into the planned 6,5 hour trip – yes, you noted correctly planned trip – all sandwiches and cookies were gone. As my attempts to shout a grown up conversation from the last row all the way to the front was fruitless, I plugged in my ear buds and listened to a “grown up audio novel”, which was only disturbed every four minutes by one of my kids wishes and demands or suddenly needed bathroom breaks. This just reminds me that I never finished that story…

Another two hours later – 5 k before the Italian border – I had just closed my eyes to doze off when I was rudely woken up by a collective shout of the kids because the story of “Der kleine Drache Kokosnuss” (Little dragon coconut) had been turned off mid-sentence. I took out the plugs and noticed the couple sitting six meters in front of me having a hissed conversation. I also noticed the car being awfully quiet, for a car driving 130 km/h on the motorway. Yes. Just like that, the motor had broken down and could not be turned on any more.

After a collective decision to get the kids out of the car – one by one, some clothed in a bright orange life vests, we left the car and climbed up the hill we fortunately were stranded next to.

I am pretty sure I heard the driver of the tow truck, who arrived an hour later, swear under his breath after finding three grown ups and four kids up on a mountain, but seeing as it is his job, we all climbed into his truck and he towed us back 30 minutes to the next Ford dealer.

Seeing as it was Friday lunch time before a long weekend, they told us right away that nothing would happen with the car until Tuesday. Mother friend – always the organizer – had already organized for the single friend to make a detour of her route, cancel her planned shopping stop in Udine and pick up dude, princess and myself and take us with her to Venice. The other family rented a car and off we went again.

After 11 hours we finally arrived in our 17th century Palazzo close to Rialto. My first thought upon entering this mansion was “o my god, they will break everything”. While our host explained the specialties of the apartment (one being “the neighbors hate us, please be quiet), I instructed the kids to not move until the guy was gone…

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After this rocky start, we had a great weekend and I now know a couple of things about Venice:

Yes, you (read: ME) can get sea sick on a Vaporetto

Kids can laugh for an hour sticking gum penises to their pants – whether you are embarrassed or not – you might just go with the flow.

Kids love Venice – there is so much to see – take the boats, smell the salty sea air, watch a vegetable delivery on a boat,…

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You see movie scenes everywhere – James Bond Casino Royal, Oceans 11 – or was it 12 (?), Angelina in a boat,enz….I tried to spot George Clooneys wedding location but was not successful though.

I love speaking Italian, even if I actually don’t speak it.

I love walking through Venice – off the beaten track. Venice is busy – and I mean b u s y. There are tourists, pick pockets and the ones who hate the tourists – Italians. But turn around a couple of corners, walk down some alleys and within minutes you are in your own world. Experience the architecture, and the feeling of being away from home.   2015-04-05 09.16.54 2015-04-05 11.55.09 2015-04-05 14.24.21 2015-04-04 11.11.04

Sit in the sun in front of one of the bars or cafes (preferably not on Piazza San Marco, where everything is 3 times more expansive and 3 times less good), order an Aperol and just enjoy.

The locals drink their coffee standing in a bar at the counter and it’s only € 1.

Check out Rialto market. The fruit and fish market is great to stroll through and buy local stuff if you have an apartment and cook. Father friend and single friend are great chefs and cooked a 5 course meal for us, with shrimp, mussels, risotto and lots of other delicious things. Even the kids ate parts of it – and dude is seriously into mussels…     2015-04-04 11.29.56 2015-04-04 11.29.30 2015-04-04 21.12.27

Pizza, Vino, Gelati – enjoy Italy.

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If you want to save money, park at Punta Sabbioni – the fair for parking is only 1/5th of the parking prices closer to Venice. On the downside, the boat to Venice only goes every 30 minutes and takes another 30 minutes to San Marco.

The huge cruise ships often sail through Venice. Seeing a ship, higher than the city passing scenic Venice is kind of surreal.

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For the next time, I will check out boat ticket options in advance. Yes, you will take the boat a lot. But a 3-day pass is € 40 and that’s from 6-years on, which means – I paid € 120 for something like a 3-day subway ticket. Maybe you should also consider making your child younger, if he or she is not super tall – like my kids.

I am not a super arty type of person. As with some other things in my life I am a bit of a wannabe – I see pictures of my friends on Facebook and instagram visiting museums with their kids or alone and I feel kind of un-cultural (is there a word like that?). After having done a 5hour-speed walk through the Louvre (because when you buy expansive tickets you might as well see everything…) with the husband in a previous lifetime, I have kind of had it with museums. I do like modern things though – like visiting galleries, photo exhibitions and fashion stuff (does that count as cultural? Please?). I planned on going to the Guggenheim museum. I had this strange idea that this would be a perfect museum for kids. But apart from the horse statue and dude holding on to the penis thinking it was a handle, it wasn’t that big a hit…and it wasn’t for me either…

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On our last morning, we took our suitcases and the four kids and walked to Piazza Giacomo e Paolo, where we sat in the sun and ordered coffee. Father friend went into an ice cream shop with the four kids but apparently selling ice cream is not big on their list, as they either ignored him or put him off with a “5 minutes, 5 minutes”. As he was slightly hung over and had a headache, I took my bag and the four kids and walked back over seven bridges, around seven corners, through seven alleys until we came to another ice cream shop. After waiting “5 minutes”, I took, the four kids, the four cones of ice cream and started walking back through the seven alleys, around the seven corners and in the direction of the seven bridges. When I crossed the third bridge, I heard a scream. Thinking someone had fallen into the canal I obviously joined the other spectators only to see a gondola underneath carrying a guy on one knee, holding an open ring box in his hand and grinning up to the lady sitting in front of him. Swallowing down my breakfast again, I pulled on the smallest kids’ hand and continued over the next four bridges to the square. As I was slightly grumpy that day – and not in love at that point (yes, there is a story there…) – I was not surprised to have seen something like that in Venice.

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When the kids had eaten their ice cream, Single friend, dude, princess and I took the ferry back to Punta Sabbioni and after a quick stroll on the beach, made our way back towards home.

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As it was the easter weekend, traffic wasn’t light and especially coming closer to Vienna and into snow, the kids alternately complained about being sick. We opened the windows depending on whose turn it was to feel sick, but I didn’t really take it seriously.

700 meters from our house – please read that again – yes, 700 METERS FROM OUR HOUSE, princess girl gurgled “Mummy, I am sick” and when I turned around she held her hand in front of her mouth and puked everywhere. And I really mean everywhere. On herself, the floor, the seat in between the kids, the seat in front of her, (and in) my fabric shopper bag. I alternated between feeling super bad for her, very embarrassed in front of the woman, who I barely knew and who had nicely taken us on and home, and feeling pissed off that I had to clean up the car now. Dude didn’t help the situation by saying “It’s great though that she puked here, imagine if she would have done that in her bed!” I saw the pained expression on single friend and smiled apologetically.

Luckily for me (and my Dad), he was home and took over the kids and took them to bed, while I cleaned the car…

 

 

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Kat conquers the world. At least parts of it.

Is there anything you regret not having done in your life? I know that kinda sounds as if I am 90 and dying, which I am not – but I do have one regret – and that’s not having traveled enough. At least before having had the babas.

I always wanted to do that round-the-world-trip. Whether it’s the Sagittarius in me or whether it is just me – I am not sure. I would even go as far as describing myself as a traveler. I know it’s not what you’d technically call a persons’ trait. But it is one of the things that describes me best. I am a traveler. I am a traveler by heart. I love airports. I love experiencing new places. I love meeting people. I love people watching. I love to feel a new place. Okay I also love food. But that’s a different story.

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Like most other people I do have a list of places I wanna go to. One of my top cities has always been Berlin. So when my bestie and I were suddenly faced with being child-free over new years eve, we made the spontaneous decision to travel to Berlin for the first time.

I was excited. Like, seriously excited. I met up with various friends, who all loved Berlin and gave me their lists of insider tips. And then we finally went.

And didn’t like it. I guess it was me having hyped the city to this super cool, perfect place in my head. But I just didn’t feel it.

After our initial disappointment, we did have a great time – especially though because we had each other and shared lots of laughs and good girly talks, relaxed, got tattooed, ate great food, drank lots of Ouzo and shopped till we dropped.

Traveling back from Hamburg a month later (and yes, I did go home in between), after spending a very nice weekend with a friend, I got the idea to use 2015 to visit a different place every month and share my tops and flops with you guys.

You might call it my project or just fulfilling my needs to see the world or experience something new. There are some places I have already planned to visit – such as Munich, Venice, Bern and Stockholm but feel free to drop ideas of where I could go to as well (don’t forget my budgets are limited but I am still a luxury girl – at least kind of. I prefer a bed to camping).

I’ll enclose my first two trips in this post and will make new ones as I go:

Here are my top 5 of Berlin:

  1. No pain, no brain Tattoos http://www.nopain-nobrain.de/ – great artists, clean and light studio, good value and walk-ins welcome. Best studio I have been to so far.
  2. Shopping in Friedrichshain – go to the East to find small boutiques of local designers and shop till you drop
  3. Papa Pane – great typical Italian restaurant, make sure to book a table, otherwise like us – you have to leave after an hour – http://www.papàpane.com
  4. Hans im Glück – great Burger and cocktail restaurant, this is a chain, so you might know it from other cities.
  5. Surreal experience at Taverna Merkouri, where we were greeted with Ouzo and got a new shot of Ouzo after every course. Only the owner doesn’t drink any ouzo cause it’s so disgusting… http://www.merkouri.de/

Flops in Berlin:

  1. If you stay outside the center, forget walking – it’s just too far – oh how could I forget – there is no center…
  2. We had it all planned out. After staying in for New Years Eve, we got up early, walked around and then wanted to spend the afternoon in the sauna. Duuuh. All, but one sauna were closed and in this one there was a waiting list of 1,5 hours…
  3. There are literally no places that offer free internet.
  4. You wanna see the Berlin wall? Try and search for it…I could not find it, and Checkpoint Charlie feels like Disneyworld. If you find it, please drop me a note where.

There are only a few pictures of Berlin. Sorry. It was cold.

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Now to Hamburg. Hamburg was different – as in I experienced it with a local, and didn’t do any touristy stuff (except the harbour ferry). I didn’t expect anything – and I guess it’s the same as with people, the less you expect, the better it might be. And I loved it. I loved the feeling of it. I loved the architecture of the buildings, I loved the people, I loved the restaurants and food.

Here is my Hamburg list:

Tops:

  1. Lokal 1 – the best restaurant ever. I can still feel the lentils explode on my tongue – and yes, that’s a good thing… www.lokal1.com
  2. Ahoi Strandkiosk – after walking along the beach for a little while, sit outside this lovely place wrapped in blankets, have cake and fresh mint tea, people watch and just feel it. http://strandkiosk-hamburg.de/
  3. Walk through Schanzenviertel and check out the small boutiques.
  4. If you are into flea markets check out the one close to rinderhalle on Saturdays. If you are not a fan – like myself and just come along for hanging out, have a beef stew (Rindereintopf) from the Portuguese stall on the square.
  5. Even if you are not into water and harbours, take a ferry and experience it. You might love it. And if not, get off at Öffelgönne and walk to Ahoi Strandkiosk (number 2) and have home-made cake.
  6. Walk around Eimsbüttel or other areas and check out the architecture – I loved noticing that all buildings have balconies and their similarities to Dutch houses.

Flops:

  1. Trying to find parking spaces on Saturday evening…
  2. There are not many places that offer free internet.
  3. I can actually not come up with another flop…you see I really did enjoy it.

Not having had the idea of writing about my travels until traveling back, I kind of forgot to take pictures until my last day…so this is just a small selection. I promise this will change with my future trips though.

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In March I am off to Munich to cheer on my 8-year-old at a hockey tournament. I will make sure to experience as much as possible though and get lots of ME-time in as well. If you have any Munich tips, please let me know before March 13th.

 

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