All posts filed under: travel

A Love Letter to North Carolina

North Carolina, the home to all couples who were brought to life in the heartwarming novels written by Nicolas Sparks. Romantic and beautiful, not just how the books can be described, but also the Tar Heel State itself. Situated in the South of the United States, North Carolina is one of those places where one can find mild climate throughout the year. In addition to that, visitors to North Carolina can have it all – beautiful views in the rolling mountains, a midnight dip in the ocean, and sipping coffee in hip cities. In a nutshell, life in North Carolina is colorful. While spring enchants with the sweetest cherry blossoms, autumn charms you with an abundance of colorful leaves. And summer, oh well, summer is endless. When the sun goes down and the blistering heat subsides, the crickets start to chirp. And then, North Carolinians sit on the porches of their beautiful Victorian houses sipping sweet tea and getting the barbecue warmed up. You don’t know where to get started? Here are a few suggestions: Bask in the first spring sun rays in the artsy city …

A Day Well Spent in Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson is a small lake town in the middle of my favorite U.S. state North Carolina. To me as a European, Davidson resembles true small town America everyone on the old continent dreams of. Why? Well, it basically has it all: a film-worthy college campus composed of splendid brick houses, a more than picturesque main street, gorgeous Victorian-style houses featuring dreamy porches, and friendly Southeners who smile and make me happy all around. When traveling to visit friends and my boyfriend’s family in Concord, I have a list of places I try to visit on every trip. Davidson is on said list. It usually goes down like this: We visit the campus where I can pretend I went to American college, then take a stroll along Main Street to peep into independent stores and mingle with the store owners, and grab amazingly good coffe at SUMMIT COFFEE CO., one of my most favorite coffee shops in the entire world. Their coffees are just sensational and the vibe cozy and warm. Spending a day in Davidson is truly romantic every time. And during fall season, it’s magical …

Graz: Cobblestones and Coffee

Just 200 km from Vienna, in the southern part of Austria, lies the European Capital of Culture of 2003: Graz. But it’s not just culture, history, beautiful architecture, traditional shops, restaurants, and cafes this royal Austrian city has to offer. Simultaneously, Graz enjoys a really hip vibe with young people coming from all over the world to study here. Fun fact: students actually make up almost a fifth of its citizenry. Now, you can probably imagine what I mean with student vibe. With its cobblestone streets, rustic house-fronts, and dreamy window shutters in all the beautiful colors there are, it seems like a big version of the Viennese Spittelberg in the 7th district. Spittelberg is one of my favorite parts in Vienna, naturally, I am in love with Graz too. Hence, Graz makes for a wonderful day-trip if you want to get out of Vienna for a bit. And, there is no doubt that staying in Graz longer than only a day will allow you to find plenty things to do. It is actually quite a shame: I haven’t been gracing …

Bad Gastein: Royal Remembrance or Ghost Town

From December 20-22, we ventured to the Austrian countryside to find the Christmas spirit in the Austrian town of Bad Gastein, situated in the region of Salzburg. Just a 4-hour drive from Vienna, in the midst of the Austrian alps, we were hoping for snow. You are right when you think that snow was not going to happen for us. However, we stayed at a gorgeous resort called Hotel Valley Grüner Baum and were spoiled just like royals back in the day. It was exactly what we needed right before all the Christmas festivities in Austria and North Carolina. On our adventures outside of the resort, we expected to find a cute old town with sweet Christmas markets, happy villagers, and lots of Christmas decorations. But we didn’t find any of that. It seems Bad Gastein, while a necessary luxury stop for the aristocratic families of yesterday, is closer to a ghost town today. In the three days of wandering around, we found exactly one cafe which was open – thankfully we warmed up to …

Finding Christmas Spirit at Hotel Valley Grüner Baum

To me, it is sometimes difficult to get into the Christmas spirit in the midst of the city. A stressful last few weeks at work as the entire world population seems to travel to and from Vienna International Airport, the desire to finishing up personal projects before the end of 2015, being constantly surrounded by people running in and out of shops stressing to purchase the last Christmas presents. I usually find myself surprised when mid-December arrives. This year, Yael and I made a plan. Instead of spending the days before Christmas in Vienna and hoping to find the holiday spirit somewhere by accident, we were going to travel to the Austrian countryside, stay at a gorgeous hotel surrounded by the Austrian Alps. We thought, who would not get into Christmas mood like this? And, we were right. We spent the 4-hour-drive from Vienna to Kötschachtal in the Salzburg region listening to our favorite podcasts and singing along to our songs. The roadtrip itself was beautiful, we passed majestic castles, sweet Austrian country houses, adorable churches, and gorgeous snowcapped mountain views. The only thing missing was the snow. So, as …

EAST LONDON: L’eau à la Bouche

While strolling through Broadway Market with Abigail on our Saturday morning date, I spotted a petite French cafe deli filled with people, some sitting at a huge table inside, some at the big windows, others in the sun outside. The atmosphere seemed so much fun with everyone being joyful, full of laughter, and immersed in entertaining conversations with friends. The vibe was truly addictive and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had added L’eau à la Bouche to my London-must-visit-list. So, on our last morning in town, Yael and I went to explore my discovery. We got ourselves some great seats at the floor to ceiling windows. With this  we were able to spot some interesting and eclectic looking characters. People were on their laptops, mainly MacBooks, working away while sipping on coffee and munching on artisan cheeses, fresh fluffy Quiche, and sweet delights. My kind of place. Everything looked incredibly tasty, and it was hard to decide what to get. So, we ordered a baguette and an almond croissant to share. Two cappuccinos were added and we felt set for another morning of wandering the East London streets. L’eau à la Bouche …

EAST LONDON: Broadway Market

Saturday markets, hip and trendy! I fell in love these sweet places of joy and delicousness when living in Florida in 2012. Getting fresh produce, munching on local favorites, and meeting friends along the way became our favorite thing to do. Before arriving in London I heard that Saturday markets are a complete thing. Hence, I asked my friend Abigail, who lives in East London and truly knows the best spots, to show me her favorite places and spaces. Our first stop: Broadway Market. Located in Hackney and nestled in between pretty brick houses, this market is a true find, off the beaten path of London city center craziness. It meets you with a simple and rustic atmosphere, easily and quickly having your full attention drawn to the many food stalls. Walking to the end of the market to meet my friend and not already sneakily taste all the local treats was the hardest thing I did that weekend. Not having seen Abigail for about 6 months I was super excited when I spotted her in between other Saturday-market-lovers, stylish and sweet, strutting down …

EAST LONDON: Aida Shoreditch

Aida Shoreditch is one of those places where the storefront naturally pulls you inside to have a closer look. And at this closer look, I adored this space. The beautifully curated concept store is complemented with a small adorable cafe. The rustic wooden tables give Aida a homey feel and the waiter was so friendly, making us feel welcome throughout our time. The cappuccino was to die for. Since they also serve their coffees with soy milk dying for  has not to be taken literally. My beautiful friend Abigail joined us for lunch and a quick chat on our plans for the weekend. The baguette she ordered was fresh and tasty. In the two-story concept store you can find hip and minimalist attire for women and men. London didn’t live up to its reputation, namely being rainy, so the rack of trendy and functional rain coats was quite an ironic encounter. Men will find grooming gear and women can take a seat in the parlour (hear the British accent?), and get their favorite vintage hairstyles done by professionals who have all worked on …

EAST LONDON: Leila’s Shop

Breakfast at Leila’s Shop was simple and simply delicious. The little cafe in Shoreditch convinced us with its sweet and rustic design and the fact that all ingredients are taken from the neighboring grocery store of the same name, which features fresh local and organic produce. We both ordered fried eggs, one with ham, one with salvia, and while waiting for them to be served, we snug in a homemade brownie. The presentation was as wonderful as the food itself, the staff sweet and attentive throughout our stay. The farm-to-table concept really made me feel like I was sitting in a cafe somewhere in the countryside of England. A true down-to-earth find in the busy city of London. Address: Leila’s Shop, 15-17 Calvert Ave, London E2 7JP Find Leila’s Shop on Facebook.

Elections in Burma: A Traveler’s Thoughts

As a translating and interpreting graduate and political science student who has worked with the United Nations Association in Florida promoting Human Rights, as well as with the Florida Holocaust Museum to educate about genocides, promoting tolerance and inclusion, it is only natural that, to me as a traveler, the social and political situation of a destination is a big interest. To me, traveling also means informing yourself about the current situation, both political and social, of your destination country. By doing so, I make sure to not put myself in awkward, offensive, or even perilous situations. In the summer of 2013, my boyfriend and I traveled to Burma, or Myanmar. Getting a visa and entering the country is difficult. Certain professions, such as journalists, are denied the visa right away. The feeling of being watched by government can’t be shaken off. Certain areas were (and probably still are) inaccessible to tourists in order to conceal human rights abuses. Traveling through Burma, we made the conscious decision to use transportation not owned by the military government, in order …