February Wrap Up

February came and I wrapped up my time in Budapest and headed off to Ireland with a few life goals in hand I was hoping to accomplish while there. One was pretty much a given.. so I had firstly….

Life goal: Visit Ireland

Next was something I had made enquiries and tentative arrangements for before getting to Ireland.

Life goal: Work / Volunteer on an Organic farm.

I could have done this anywhere but was really hoping to experience this in a country with a climate completely unlike my own. Mine obviously being hot, humid and dry. Mission very much accomplished to say the least. The rainfall here  – the extent and frequency was a surprise. Yes I know.. Ireland and the rain. shocker… but again let me say, the difference in knowing and understanding is in the experiencing.

 

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Tier 1. Rock walls. Stairs and existing beds lie underneath this

 

The farm I chose is in the process of being turned into a retreat and alternative treatment and education centre. Something I’m thrilled to see more of in the world and happy to help with in any small way  I can. It had been a family home allowing the family near total self sufficiency for many years and organic for nearly 30 years. It had become overrun in the last few when the family moved out and other people had been looking after it. We would be starting the process of bringing it back into order and hopefully in the not too distant future …. garden productivity.

 

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Tier 2. The vegetable gardens. 8 of them clustered around a circular centre.

 

I completely lucked out with this project let me say. The owner and 2 of her best friends I met and got to know, the 2  Croatian cousins starting a new life that I would actually be working with and a couple of French guys who came and helped for a bit… I say again some of the best parts of this adventure in the last 12 months have been the amazing people I have met. I was thrilled to be working on this farm and so happy to have met these people. There was a tonne of work to be done and nothing I could hope to see finished in my time there. Three tiers plus what remained of an old orchard area and all a complete mess. All the structures of this magnificent garden and much of what she had been just lay in slumber though, hidden under the brambles and nettles that it was my first experience of and the many other weeds and grasses we encountered and so I knick named it  “The Secret Garden” after one of my favourite books. The name caught on and so “The Secret Garden” it was.

 

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Third Tier. Polytunnel skeleton…. the old orchard lies beyond that.

 

 

There was a lot of work besides the gardens but that’s mainly where my time was spent. Of a night we drank, we ate very well (my first experience of venison), we laughed and slept. We tried not to go stir crazy when all of us got stuck inside the smallish cabin due to rain for loooong stretches of time. The others laughed at my zero knowledge of building a fire and my amazement of the use of coal in it .I live in Australia normally and I use reverse cycle airconditioning in winter when needed … just saying! It was also the first time I’ve actually seen coal. We compared customs and countries, met new people. Lots of fun.

 

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Next..

Life goal: Kiss the Blarney Stone.

 

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Let me say straight up I have a fear of small spaces and heights. It’s a mental game. I know it. Most of the situations I find terrifying … there is nothing probably even remotely scary in for most folks. Things that another human would think nothing of  and pose no real danger of any kind in real life … stop me in my tracks. If I want to something badly enough sometimes though I’ll attempt these things anyway. Sometimes but I don’t realise till I’m in the middle of it or it’s too late. For those reasons Blarney Castle and achieving this goal got real interesting there for a bit.

 

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In Budapest I nearly stranded myself on a mountain at night in the middle of winter (we’re talking minus double digit temperatures) because I got up there and then realised seeing over the side I was going to have a problem getting back down. Blarney Castle,  with it’s tiny high staircases and the actual Blarney Stone itself where you lay on your back hanging onto poles while a fabulous gentleman holds onto you so you don’t plunge to your death down the hole while suspended from the top level of the castle (exaggerated ! but that’s how it feels to someone with a fear of heights) posed some challenges. Let me say a big thank you to the photographer and the gentlemen who guides you to the Blarney Stone for their patience and kindness. It took me 15 minutes .. probably more … to work up the courage to do this as others came and kissed and went… all the while they chatted with me, encouraging me while I  watched others have a go.. or not.

 

Blarney stone

 

In the end I did achieve my goal spurred on by how many I saw who wouldn’t even attempt it, these 2 kind individuals and the fact that it was such a long way to go and then not accomplish what I had set out to do…. for bonus points I even got a hug from guiding gentleman afterwards. Bless! I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name. I was a little stressed and overwhelmed, this is my only defence. Photographer man was an ex merchant seamen who’d been to a million countries and also completely awesome. You rock!… sorry I didn’t ask your name either. Thank you to both of you for helping me achieve one of my life goals.

 

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Having achieved this, I went and explored the rest of the Blarney Castle grounds. Wishing Stairs. Druids circles. Waterfalls. Fields of Daffodils. It’s well worth a few hours to visit and explore. I loved it. If it interests you head to Cork. Blarney Castle is only about 8km’s from there and you can catch a bus. After a great day exploring I headed back to the Secret Garden and a few more weeks of digging, uncovering, mulching etc in between the frequent work stopping rainfall. Generally it was grotty, hard, very wet work but a couple of weeks in we could just start to see some of the possibilities coming to the surface. It was a good incentive to keep everyone going as there was still many weeks of work ahead.

 

It was a huge month for getting to tick off life goals. I met some great people and got my hands back in the soil again after more than 12 months out of any gardens I could work in. My hands, gloves and nails were shredded. My too long stagnant gardening muscles let me know how displeased they were with such a mammoth re-entry into gardening and I sailed into March happy that the last parts of this adventure involved retreats in the making, secret gardens and good company.

 

Big love. E x

 

 

 

 

 

January Wrap Up

January’s travel events from a spectators perspective couldn’t have been more boring. As I reported last month, January in Budapest was all about dental work which thankfully is mostly complete. From my personal point of view though January was actually quite big in the realisation and decision making categories if less so in the tourist and travel area.

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One of my 2017 goals from News Years was “BUILD”. Not literally as in bricks and mortar but the base of my life going forward. So financially, career, family and friends, health, home. All the aspects that make up your life. I want to take them to a new level. Changing directions where I needed to. Implementing or learning whatever that meant in various areas to make that happen. When I left home nearly 12months ago the plan was to travel for 12 months (if I didn’t hate it and everything went ok with the option to add a few more months up to 12 if money allowed and the desire to keep going was still there.) Then I would decide next moves. January was when I realised that my goals for 2017 would mean finishing up this travel episode at the 12+ month mark and ticking off that life goal as finalised in the not too distant future.

For me BUILDING needs to come from a stable base and I don’t have that while travelling. You’re on the move often. You can’t rent in a traditional sense – making a home, you never really unpack 20170214_154634and unless your job, business, income is online you’re not building your career obviously. Your long term friendships are back home and new ones often with fellow travellers and usually from different countries can be fleeting, apart from on social media. I ran some options in my head for not heading back, visa’s to stay in a different country longer term etc. What country. What options would that give me. To and fro with the for and against. What life goals did I have left that needed for me  to be overseas to  accomplish them, was I ready to head back – did I want to? What were some of the more tangible things I knew I wanted to do or aim at achieving this year and what would that involve. Not the easiest decision to make but within a week or so I decided that ultimately for me, at this point…. the best chance and most options I would have to achieve my aim for 2017 would be in my own Country.

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With the decision made it was actually a weight of my shoulders having a more solid plan than “continueing to travel” in place. I have had an absolute blast travelling and challenging myself in the last 12 months. Met so many great people. Mind blowingly interesting people, doing amazing, intriguing, outstanding, wonderful and or creative things. I have seen the most amazing sites and places and things. I have gotten to have experiences I could only have dreamed about previous to going abroad and challenged myself to do new things. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses and there was a couple of challenges but it was definitely the right decision for my life. It’s been a great break away from everything and absolutely the way to reset your life if you ever have that option. Now I’m excited for the next adventure. To have a purpose again. To see what I can create from here on in and although I haven’t booked the ticket yet I know that within a few months at most I’ll be heading back. There are a couple more things I’d like to do and then … a new start in a different city because it’s also time to move and that decision has also been made.

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My time in Budapest in between dental visits and decision making was spent doing some of my favourite things there. Walking the streets photographing the gorgeous buildings and various statues around the city, eating Isla, street markets and musicians, and visiting or revisiting some of the tourist sites. It also marked the closest I got to actually being out while it snowed. It wasn’t huge but I was thrilled non the less. It got cold enough for the Danube to start freezing which was a big deal and pictures of that went up around the world. The Russian  president Vladimir Putin visited the capital increasing security everywhere for a time. It warmed up just a bit and the snow and ice that had laid on the ground for weeks melted away so quickly you could hardly believe it had been there to start with. There one day almost gone the next. February I head into a new country and also will likely start to wrap up the last of this amazing adventure.

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Lastly..I had some inner turmoil moments over the Opera in Budapest. I dearly wanted to go to the Opera walked past it many days, but it’s one of the few things in life where I feel like it’s something you should do with someone else. Half the joy would be lost doing it by myself. So I passed on that *sigh* I think I’ll have to add dressing up and going to the Opera with someone to my life goals list. Or better yet someone taking me to the Opera… very Pretty Woman / Moonstruck. I know there’s other movie examples but my brains not  giving them to me at the moment. If you can think of them put them in the comments. Ahh such simple dreams and pleasures I have …

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Till next time. Big love E x

And, that’s a Wrap. December 2016

December I reluctantly finished up my time in Vienna and journeyed forth to Budapest for a week before heading to Paris to celebrate Christmas.  Each city seems to have it’s own charm and endearment…something I fall in love with and for me in Budapest that was their buildings. Lions and faces, statue’s, swirls and twirls, arches, windows and decorations of every imaginable kind. Old and discoloured, fading, crumbling and still you can see all of their magnificence while they wait patiently to be scrubbed clean or restored to their original glory. These beauties definitely warrant the time and energy and likely lots of money that would be involved in restoring them.

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I walked much of the city as usual and when it got too cold, worked out how to use the transport system which was not too difficult. Their old trains are delightful and along with above ground rail etc from my experience efficient. My two main wants while I was in Budapest was simply to try out the thermal baths (delightful, I actually fell asleep for a while) and to check out the ruins pubs. These are literally pubs that have been set up in the ruins of old buildings. Initially popular with the student crowds they have become a big draw with the tourists. I went to one of the more popular ones with a fellow traveller I met at the hostel. The combination of derelict building, odd and assorted decoration and staging, open air or tarped roofs, music and general atmosphere made for a fun night.

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Heroes Square with its kings and Archangel Gabriel up on the Column, Parliament, The Great Market hall, The Opera. Budapest like most cities has a couple of noteworthy churches of great beauty. With it being nearly Christmas the choir was practicing in one of them and for me that is the equivalent of snake charming. I would have been one of those kids that followed the Pied Piper and his beautiful music and so I whiled away much enjoyable time there just listening to the music and song. Definitely go and see what’s left of the old Royal Palace. Chain Bridge and the Lion Statues who guard it. Budapest has no lack of gorgeous sites. Gellert Hill with it’s Liberty Statue and the Citadel and fabulous views of the city also noteworthy.

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Hiccups along the way:

The night before I was due to fly to Paris. One of my teeth starting playing up in a big way. The hostel helped me find an English speaking Dentist and luckily they could fit me straight in. Problem solved and averted right. Wrong ! A couple of days later in Paris I realised …. we hadn’t found the problem and so the hunt was on again for not only an English speaking Dentist but one that could fit me in 2 days before Christmas. There was zero chance this could or would wait so long story short… December I added to my list of firsts along with my first set of stitches last month..my first root canal on Christmas eve. Can’t say I’m a fan of those either really.  After spending the better park of a week in Budapest and Paris messing around fixing my teeth and finding out what work was needed to completely fix the issue I was completely thrilled as December 25th rolled around thankfully mostly pain free now and I ticked off another life goal.

Life Goal tick off:

Christmas in Paris. Christmas Day in Paris dawned and I was beyond excited to be in Paris and getting to tick this off. I had a slow breakfast and then after lunch walked Paris into the evening checking out the decorations and lights I hadn’t had the chance to do up till then and…. it was divine. The animated Christmas windows of Galleries Lafayette. The Champs Elyse. The Christmas Markets. The River and the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe. King George the fifth,  one of my favourite streets in Paris.. home to amongst other places the Crazy Horse and some of the most outstanding hotels of excellence. I had discovered this Street back in March when I had gone to see Dita Von Teese’s Burlesque show as my late birthday present to myself and fallen in love with it immediately.

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The Louvre was back on the agenda again this trip to see a bit more of that wondrous place. It’s been estimated that if you spent 100 days and looked at each piece of art for just 30 seconds you could see all of the Louvre. Sounds about right if not veering towards the slightly optimistic. It really is a wonderland of awe and joy. The Catacombs on what used to be the outskirts of Paris was another treasure I got to in Paris this time. With over 6 million bones it’s sheer size is mind boggling. The catacombs started with the relocation of the Cemetery of the Innocents which had after hundreds of years in use become a serious health risk and cause of infection to the people of the area directly surrounding it. Food and beverages went off within hours, disease etc and to avoid the living joining the the party at the Cemetery of the Innocents earlier than they’d like the cemetery was closed. Relocation began a little later very respectfully always at night preceded by priests in surplices singing the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil.  When the Cemetery of the Innocents had been cleared the Ossuary as it is more correctly called continued to take the bones of other central Paris cemeteries’  for nearly 30 years. Housed in acres of disused lime quarries under the city that had to be reinforced and mapped due to their occasional collapse and consequent caving in of streets above it solved a couple of issues at once.  The Catacombs has seen visits from Kings, Emperors..Napolean and his son took a look. It has played host to an orchestral concert which fittingly played to an audience of over a hundred people such tunes as  Chopin’s Funeral March and the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. Centuries of fascinating history well worth a look.

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January will be slow .. with no sight seeing planned but plenty of dental work to look forward to as it turns out (absolutely read that in the most sarcastic voice you have) Economics dictated that instead of heading where I had planned next –  it was back to Budapest which it turns out has a roaring trade in foreigners dental work. Who knew. I was told that in passing conversation last time I was there never for a second thinking the information was gold I would soon be mining. It’s winter in Europe and while friends and family sweat it out back home in ridiculous temperatures I am thrilled beyond telling with these cooler climate places. Having been born and lived in Australia all my life and never having much of a tolerance for cold, I couldn’t be more surprised if someone punched me in the face at loving being in these cold places. To be fair though about as cold as it’s gotten is -7 quite mild compared to some places and everywhere is heated so it’s only when your outside that you’re really subjected to it. Rug up and don’t walk around outside for hours on end and you’re good really.

So that was it for December. New Years came and went… some plans were  made., goals were thought about and then it was time to jump a flight back to beautiful Budapest.

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Blogging Old School Egyptian style. (aka: “The Scribe” Louvre Paris)

Roll on January…

E x

New Year. New You.

Here we are. Welcome to 2017!

Let me say here straight up, it’s ok to be fine with where and who you are. Actually that is the goal isn’t it.  If you’d like a year of just going with the flow, seeing what happens, no big plans or goals. Good for you! It seems there very few people out there saying.. “You want to chill – that’s fine. Good even. Go do that.Come back if you change your mind” If however you’d like to make a few improvements or set a few goals and intentions. This is a great time to do it.

As many of us are  preparing to or already have done. Goal setting is usually high on the agenda for this time of year. Although any time is good really but flipping over the calendar to the new year in January is symbolically a time of fresh starts and new beginnings.  I’m not one of the nay sayers of this area and so I both do it myself and would encourage it for others. Goals. Ideals. Plans. Intentions. Write it down. Laminate it. Frame it. Put it in a binder. Tape it to your wall. Whichever, just put it somewhere where you’ll see your goals regularly. You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for and the studies all show that writing goals down increases our chances of achieving them. I have mine in my home manual and refer to it often. The kinds of things I usually have goals for tend to fall under these categories. Health. Financial. Home. Personal. But the list is endless obviously of what it could entail.

My only recommendations would be make sure it’s a real goal. Not just something you think you should or would like. I’d like my house to be clean, fix it up a bit, reduce my debts …. I want to be fitter, healthier.. spend more time with my family, have some me time blah, blah. But something specific and that you’re really committed to. The ones I listed are too wishy washy and vague. Make them meaningful but I’d also suggest make them few. You can always add if you’ve achieved them early but picking a dozen or more especially if they are chunky, meaningful and worthwhile will overwhelm you and increase the risk of failure or abandonment. Write all your goals down by all means in a list but then just pick a few at a time to focus on for this year. You have next year as well etc So a better option goal wise so that it’s more specific would be something along these lines .

  1.  Design a weekly cleaning schedule to start Jan 9th.
  2. Renovate laundry this year
  3. Eliminate credit card debt. Reduce by $–, cut up all but one emergency card
  4. Monthly family date for movies, park, road trip first weekend of the month.
  5. Eliminate soda from my diet. Half hour daily walk
  6. Schedule Dr and Dental visits. May and November
  7. Yoga class weekly.
  8. Half hour reading before bed etc
  9. Learn Spanish

You get the idea.Of course your goals can be much grander than this, much more personal or smaller. Maybe you want to address a personal matter that is effecting you negatively. Maybe you want to build a business. Start charity work. It doesn’t matter. If your goals are more personal and less tangible say. When you’re looking for a feeling rather than an event or thing…. “I want to feel more joy in my life or adventure” say. A good place to look for help with that scenario is Danielle Laporte she is all over the desires of the heart and literally calls it.. “Desire Mapping” Other desires and wants are often a bit more straight forward to find help with. Behavioural change you can look for help with life coach’s. Things like Hypnotherapy, meditation, NLP. Phsyc K. All look towards helping you change unhelpful habits and thought processes or aid in discovering new ones. Some of the bigger names you might check out in this are people like Tony Robbins.Brendon Burchard. Tim Ferris. Jonathon Fields. There are dozens though. Other things like health, business, money there are some very targeted specific sites out there that are just great. I won’t list the options here simply because there are so many but if you’d like some hints or pointers let me know in the comments and I can throw some resources together for you all.

Scheduling these things is also hugely important. Get out your calendar. Mark out exactly when you want these things by. Ideally you want everything organised up and running by mid January. So break it down into chunks. If you have multiple things I will often break them up into 2 monthly periods of time. Not too long or you never get around to them. For eg you may have payments of $200 a week automated to go to your credit card debt. Doctors and Dental visits scheduled for May and November. Research for the new Laundry will be done March and April then  booked and Scheduled for May/June. Spanish classes you will start in July. Spread them further apart during the year or bring them forward earlier if opportunities present. It’s not set in stone but does give you a strong workable, not overwhelming calendar to achieve your aims. Simple but efficient systems are always the best and most productive. The more complicated, the more working parts, the more things that can break down, get lost, forgotten, go awry. Always aim for simple first.

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There are so many resources out there and bloggers, youtubers, life coaches, inspirational speakers, good old fashioned books and magazines. It is merely a case of finding one that resonates with you if you’re not sure how to go about it, need some ideas or inspiration. You can look for people in the area you are most interested in eg money, health, minimisalism, sports or life in general and look to their guidance or suggestions. Or it really is as simple as writing it down yourself. Some use smart targeted goals, some focus on desired feelings, manifesting, NLP, practicality and action steps, a word for the year a mixture of a few different things. It really is just finding one that aligns with your beliefs, goals and personality and that you connect with. Look up hash tags, ask friends for recommendations or google it. Have a look, see if it fits what you want. If it speaks to you in a way that motivates and helps you and then just go for it.

Alternatively look up areas that interest you and meander around the web following links until you find the good stuff you’re after. Bakers. Mountain Bikers. Homesteading. Runners. Gardeners. Woodworkers. Ancient battle craft. Vikings. Book clubs. Whatever it is you will find it. Just don’t waste to much time doing that. Start and upgrade later if you find a better way or site or person. But start. Don’t waste weeks or months in research and planning. If what you pick isn’t working for you just choose a different path – don’t give up on the goal. Just find a different way or person to guide you to reaching it. This is one reason meaningful goals are important. Goals aren’t always easy to hit or achieve or most likely we’d already have done it. You need to want it enough to find your way there … if at first you don’t succeed and all that.

I wish you all the very best in 2017. I’d love to hear in the comments what you are all aiming for this year.

E x

 

Currently – November 2016

November had me finishing up my time in Croatia. Ticking off one of my life goals. Cutting the top of my pinky finger nearly right off and moving on to Vienna Austria. It was a big month.

Life Goal Ticked Off:  Fruit Picking.

Olive Harvest in Croatia starts around the end of October / early November and I was thrilled to be able to be part of it. We scrambled up mountains and climbed trees and decades old rock walls to nab every olive possible. That it was a family owned organically run crop made me even happier [caveat: they do use commercial fertilizer] Unfortunately it had not been a good year for a couple of reasons one of which included not enough rain earlier in the season.  So we were done in 3 days and the yield was the smallest one the owner remembers the family ever having. [60 litres] I didn’t get the tally on how many kilo’s of fruit that came from but a lot. The previous years had been 350 litres of oil and that was not overly large. It all gets carried down to a community processer which for us was in little town called Brusje [not far from the fields and the place of the original family home] where they also process the oil from the Lavender crop. We handed over your fruit and hour later they handed over your oil. We got to see the process at work and it’s brilliant. Also showing the abilities within communities without out sourcing. Keeping it local which I loved.

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Hiccups along the way:

With Olive harvest done. One of my life goals ticked off with gratitude and thanks for the opportunity. I was off to explore a little more of Croatia AND promptly forgot my pin number to my banking and sat in place for a week sorting that out with the bank. List that under travel adventures right! Luckily I was still with my olive family when that happened. Sorted. Time to go and then deciding to have a delicious breakfast of eggs and hard cheese.. I cut the top of my finger off nearly all the way through. New knife. Hard Cheese. It slipped. Trip to the hospital and my first ever set of stitches. It didn’t go well, surgery was on the cards. I’ll spare you the photos.. It was not a fun time . A week later I had to go and so it was good bye to Croatia and I headed straight to Vienna finger strapped follow up instructions in hand hoping one of the things I got to do there wasn’t going to be trying out their hospital system . Alas I didn’t get to see some of the lovely places I still wanted in Croatia. Good reason to go back though right. Vienna though ..Oh.

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Back on the Road:

Vienna has been my favourite city so far. I am here in the Winter so everything is bare and cold and looks dead and still I have been completely delighted and enchanted by this beautiful city. The buildings and gardens, palaces, churches, monuments and parks. Look up – the buildings are gorgeous works of art themselves. Their train system is marvellous, simple and efficient and I used it constantly and easily which is really saying something. If I can use this system easily… anyone can. The United Nations has one of it’s homes here and they run tours which are worth the visit. Schonnbrunn Palace, Hofburg, Belvedere .. go and see them all if you get a chance. You won’t be sorry. Trip right into the city visit the shops, see the Museum Quarter which is fabulous. Try the pastries and the warm punch and wine. Prater Park is where you want to head if you like carnivals, rides and fun parks.  My experience of the people of Vienna is that they are friendly and helpful. Oh Vienna how I love thee. I would definitely have snuggled in and spent Christmas here if other plans were not already in place. Luckily I got to see this gorgeous lady all decked out for Christmas AND between mid November and Christmas Vienna has “Christkindlmarkt” The Christmas markets. Ice Skating … and the ring is enormous. Food. Gifts. Music. Souvenirs an Amazing Christmas Tree. If you’re here at that time you should check it out.

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November drew to an end and it was time to start preparing for Christmas and new adventures.

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E x

PS: You can follow along on Instagram if you’d like to see what I’m up to, what I’m seeing, thinking and doing more regularly.