Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The days flew by in December as usual but since I am one of those super-annoying-organised-gift-givers, I already had everything bought and packed to avoid stress in this hectic season.

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Not that many shoppers on an early afternoon at the popular shopping street Mariahilferstraße. It looks quite different on a December Saturday..shooting_vienna_christmas shooting_vienna_christmas

That tree wrapped in fairy lights reminded me so much of Korea since it was the first thing that I photographed there. I never noticed decorating lights in Vienna on trees and was positively surprised to see it.

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There are quite a lot of Christmas markets in Vienna and after 23 years, I finally went to the one at Belvedere (which by the way is super nice and perfect for Instagram!).

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I wish you happy holidays and that you can spend it with your loved ones if possible.
I am already active in an NGO and volunteer every year for the less fortunate in Austria but I donated this year with my mum a christmas present to an NGO against human trafficking. Christmas may not be that special to me because I am lucky and can afford everything I need to be comfortable but a lot of people are less fortunate and winter can be especially harsh for them.

Do you have any special Christmas traditions?

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Philippines – picture heavy post

This was my fourth trip to the Philippines but the first time that I have been there over Christmas and New Year.

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I was able to celebrate with my relatives, whom I sadly don’t see that often since flying there is pretty expensive.
Best of all, the weather is 20-25° compared to cold and grey Vienna and I definitely won’t be visiting again in summer when it is so hot and humid.

How to get there: We always took different airlines while going to the Philippines and I enjoyed Singapore Airline and Korean Airline the most, due to their service and food ;)

What to see:
We did not do a lot of sight-seeing in Manila since we did that many years ago but we went to Tanay, to visit a friend and Boracay.
Tanay is just about 2 hours away by car and has lovely red volcanic earth.

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Boracay is about 1 hours per plane from Manila but you need to take a boat to the island.
We have been to the island 6 years ago and so much has changed! We did not like it that much because there were so many tourists and a lot of hotels were being built. Also while helmet diving I noticed a lot of dead corals which is not only bad for sea life but also for the tourism which is not sustainable.
Boracay has a super long beach and we discovered behind some rocks a beach which was empty from people and brimming with small cute crabs.

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The weather was not the best and it was raining for the most part. This is due to the climate change since in December it normally was always typhoon free season.

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I am so fascinated with the different layers of rocks. I wonder what information they are displaying.

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Can you spot the crab? ;)

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We made friends with a kitten which seemed to belong to our hotel. It was so tiny and cute!

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What to eat and drink:

What I miss most about Asia is the wide variety of fresh “exotic” fruits and the fresh seafood. I have a love for buko pie as well which is coconut pie made with the meat of fresh and young coconuts.

No Filipino party would be complete without lechon, a roast pig. Everyone loves the crispy skin but I am more after the super soft meat.

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On Boracay I discovered a cute little restaurant called “the sunny side cafe” and I ate there every single day for breakfast. So yummy! And if you order their pancakes they are so huge, you can’t possible eat them by yourself!

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we also went to the wet market on the island which really fascinated me as you can see from the picture spam ;)

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This was our lunch!

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Seafood is generally enjoyed with vinegar and kalamansi in the Philippines :)

General Information:

Traffic is a serious problem here and generally the way how people drive is quite intimidating.
The Philippines is not a super safe country, so take care of your belongings and avoid visiting the south of the Philippines, many tourists or foreigners are abducted there because of the conflict between the Christian government and Muslim rebels. The Philippines is the most catholic country in Asia and most of the muslim population is located in the south due to it being near to Malaysia and Brunei.

What I loved:

– Elza, the dog of my aunt is the cutest puppy and I am very sad for not having her around
– fresh mangos, coconuts etc.
– meeting with my relatives
– getting massaged and groomed for a fraction of the price I would pay in Vienna
– you can eat outside without being bothered by wasps (but beware of mosquito’s!)

What I did not like:

– air-cons are on everywhere and it gets super cold, especially in malls so bring a jacket!
– environmental pollution
– chaos on the airport on Boracay

What to pack:

The Philippines have the same volts as the US so you need to bring an adapter if you are from Europe.
Even if it is hot, you should always bring a scarf or a light jacket to cover yourself from the cold winds of air-cons.

Back from Asia – Instagram

I am finally back from my three week vacation!
For starters I will sum up my experience and post some Instagram pictures since I filled 40GB on my SD Card and it will take a while to find the best pictures. Also I have an exam tomorrow and next week, those need attention as well ;)

From the three countries I visited, Cambodia was my favourite part of the whole trip.

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I loved to explore the many temples in Siem Reap, eat the yummy food and enjoy the sun and the humidity of the jungle.
The country is poorer than the Philippines but I felt a lot safer there and we even got back the cameras my dad forgot twice without any problem.
If you haven’t been to Siem Reap yet, you should or at least write it down on your to-do list!shooting_vienna_cambodia
We had a package tour which was great since everything was being taken care of and we had a personal driver and tourist guide.

I was actually looking forward to Seoul the most but it was so cold (-10 with wind), we could not enjoy our sight-seeing that much.

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The food we ate was great though and if you need a cheap but clean and central hotel with an awesome breakfast buffed I can recommend you mine, which was Wonsville. It is located near the Myengdong shopping street and the underground station of Myengdong.

In the Philippines we had lots and lots of family reunions  since we only visit every 5-6 years due to the expensive plane ticket and the long vacation one has to take. But when we do it is always lovely to see everyone again!

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My Cousin married and it was great to experience a wedding in another country, especially since it was a beautiful event and I am glad I could attend this special occasion!

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Lechon which is roast pig is probably the national dish here, no party would be complete without lechon!

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Molly has two different eye colours and gave recently birth to a kitten which has yet to be named. It is so tiny!

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Elza is a golden retriever mix with a japanese spitz and the cutest dog ever and really fluffy. So sad I could not take her here with me. I miss her already.

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Over New Year we stayed in Boracay, an Island famous for its fine white sand beaches. We stayed there 6 years ago but it we did not enjoy it that much because exactly during the time we stayed there we had a taifun and only rain, which is unnatural for December but hey climate change can’t be denied any more. Also it is a lot more commercialised with a lot more people than we expected but on the one day we had good weather we enjoyed the beach in its natural state, far away from all people.   shooting_vienna_philippines

 

Now I have to catch up on all those interesting and fun posts I missed from you guys and study a bit :)

Merry Christmas!

Since I am celebrating for the very first time my Christmas in the Philippines, I sadly won’t be able to upload anything Christmas and Vienna related. Nor do I have a clue what the heck is going on over there at the moment, since I am far far away ;)

Some questions I would like to know about you and your Christmas though:

  1. Are you a Christmas lover or hater?
  2. Do you enjoy to receive or give presents or like both equally?
  3. Any special Christmas traditions?
  4. When exactly do you celebrate Christmas?
  5. And most important question, what are you having for Christmas dinner?

    Random note:

I will probably cry my eyes out since Doctor Who always releases a Christmas episode and I can’t wait to see if Clara is going to remain Capaldis companion or if she will leave the show. Super random input but I need to vent somewhere over this important episode!

Christmas Vacation

December is always so packed with activities and friends you have to see, shopping lists you need to complete, and of course the big day, New Year!
Having so much planned and to do, it always feels like the shortest month in the whole year!

I am super excited for this Christmas since I won’t be spending it in good old Vienna but in Manila, with my relatives I don’t get to see that often. The main reason we are going there, is that my Cousin is getting married and we luckily have the opportunity to attend :)

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I will be leaving on the 18th December with a short stopover in Seoul, which I am also quite looking forward to. Our hotel is located in Myeongdong. The perfect place for some shopping and street food! Of course we have lots of activities planned but if you have any tips on what to see or do, just let me know!

Over New Years we will fly to Boracay, said to have the most wonderful beaches in the Philippines. I have been there before but I never have spend New Years anywhere except Austria.
I bet it will be super weird for me to experience Christmas and New Year in a hot climate and no snow.
The pictures were made in 2008, on our last trip to the Philippines.
The typhoon Hagupit luckily weakened and did not leave as much damage as the typhoon Haiyan from last year.

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In January we will have a small trip to Cambodia before I have to fly back for my exams. Yikes, yes I have to study during my holiday trip but I will manage and then I am finally done with my studies. 2015 will be super exciting!

Anyway I just wanted to write a quick update what I will be up to and to let you know that I have posts already written and queued.
I probably won’t be able to write a lot of comments and replies but there will definitely will be a long post of what I have seen, eaten and experienced on my long trip :)

 

Christkindlmarkt at Rathaus

The best-known and biggest Christkindlmarkt in Austria is located every year in December at Rathaus.
It is nicest to make a visit in the evening, when all the lights are on and produce a magical atmosphere.
Since I was at the university and had a long break, I decided to make a swift tour around and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

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The huge Christmas tree, which is 140 years old (always between 20-30 meter high) is a traditionally present from one of our federal states. This year it was gifted from Südtirol (Italy), which of course does not belong to Austria any more but funnily enough it is included.Don’t ask me why ;)

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The Christkindlmarkt is actually one of my least favourites because it is too crowded (mostly with tourists).
I do enjoy it during the day when it is not yet overrun by masses of people.

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Huge pieces of ginger bread hearts and pastries will help you gain calories for the cold winter time :)

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From food to kitsch to candles and all sorts of knick knacks you can find nearly everything here.

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I just love to take in this beautiful display of white decorative objects for your own Christmas tree.

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The candles are a popular spot for pictures and selfies and across you can see the Burgtheater.

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Rathaus is worth a visit but for the evening I would recommend you to visit the Christkindlmarkt at Schönbrunn or Belvedere.
The scenery is amazingly beautiful and it is a lot less crowded!

Starting to look like Christmas

Time is flying by so fast and it is starting to be this time of year again!
I especially love the Christmas decorations in the first district with their light decorations and the festive looking shop windows.

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A small Christkindlmarkt is located at Michaelerplatz and you can even catch a glimpse of the Roman excavation at the bottom.

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At Demels (founded in 1786) they even decorated for St. Nicholas Day. As a small kid I would have received traditional gifts like: peanuts, mandarins and chocolate but I am too old for that already ;)

In Austria St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, a scary-looking and demonic like creature that is in charge of the naughty kids. A great tale to scare kids but we also have the Krampus night on the 5th of December, which can be a bit scary for adults as well. Check out Krampus or Krampuslauf on Youtube to get a general impression.

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I love the traditional interior and the nostalgic touch. You feel transported back to the 19th Century!

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Christmas wouldn’t be complete without delicious Vanillekipferl. They are definitely my favourite Christmas cookies!

What is your favourite Christmas indulgence?

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Of course there is also a little Christkindlmarkt at Stephansplatz. Great for tourists who are sight seeing in Vienna and need to warm up with punch or Glühwein :)

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And last but not least that pretty little bow. I probably take pictures of it every year but it is just too cute!

my Christmas aftermath

It was crazy warm here in Vienna for Christmas, we had 11°Degree and it felt like spring.

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Nonetheless I was surprisingly in Christmas mood and met Erwin at Cha no ma for matcha and for giving out my present of course.
I forgot how delicious the matcha white choco latte is, I could really taste the white choco in the drink which I loved.

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We had the past few years sushi for christmas but this time we made salmon sandwiches which was a nice change but I do prefer the sushi ;)
Here is our christmas tree: 100% plastic and always looking great and green, noo hassle of buying a new one for christmas.

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And our after christmas brunch, Uruguayan beef roast with different kinds of salad and potatoes.

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And yesterday I finally could watch the Doctor Who Christmas special which left me in tears of Matt Smith’s departure.
The scene with Amy cracked me up. All in all the episode was not that well written in my opinion but there were some heartbreaking scenes in there.

Christmas lights in Vienna – First District

Shop owners and the City of Vienna would pay for the costs of the christmas lights and would also choose their own designs (well if I pay for something that expensive I would like to choose my own designs aswell ;))

That is why there are many different christmas lights all over Vienna, illuminating the dark streets and making Vienna look more welcome and festive in Winter (especially for tourists).

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shooting_viennadezThe first year that there is a Christkindlmarkt at Stephansplatz. I just went to take a picture it is really crowded but the ambience of the first district is really nice.

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Rotenturmstraße with the huge red balls of Christmas!

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Christmas presents

Do you guys already have all/most of your christmas gifts yet?
I must confess that I often have them already 5 months in advance or earlier. I just buy things I know will make certain people I know happy and store them away until Christmas is near.
What kind of meaningful gifts are you giving this christmas? I need to be inspired and any tip is helpful!

And because I don’t want this post to go without a picture here is a box my dad received from a company, containing lots of yummy treats.
Winter is not my favourite season but I am definitely looking forward to eating hot roasted chestnuts when my fingers are frozen and curling up at home eating Lebkuchen or ice-cream near the heater.

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