Sawadee Bangkok

Wild. Young. Inspiring. Pulsating. Passionately alive. Pure adrenaline. That´s Bangkok.

Incredibly loud. Pretty freaking dirty. Full of smog. Grey. Cruel. Slaying. That´s Bangkok. Which type of Bangkok do you choose?

I was unsure which one was gonna be my personal pick when I first arrived in Thailand´s capital a while back. Just starting out on my Asian adventure had its challenges – I had barely time to marvel at Bangkok´s huge Suvarnabhumi airport with its impressive colorful statues, when a rather harsh realization hit me: The famous Thai kindness does not necessarily extend to some slick taxi drivers! If a driver refuses to use a meter, as it was the case in my experience, just hop out and into a cab with a driver willing to use the meter! Anything else is not gonna help you keep those pennies, ahem excuse me, Bahts, together for a stunning Thai meal, or a donation to beings in need, or a crazy Muay Thay– event-attendance.

Bangkok City: Tradition meets fashion meets cozy guesthouses

Once you have avoided the pitfalls of unruly Taxi drivers, the seductive Thai juggernaut is finally awaiting you: a buzzing place of countless shopping malls and of intoxicatingly beautiful temples. A place where a myriad of new trends in fashion and music are being birthed and tradition and modern times melt into a tantalizing, sense-overwhelming pot of inspiration. Sawadee Bangkok, hello Bangkok, here we come!

If you are on the lookout for an affordable accommodation, look no further than Soi Kasern San 1 in the famous area “Siam Square”. You´ll find Wendy´s guest house here – a clean, comfy yet humble place smack in the middle of the city, where the staff charms visitors with their very warm and lovely demeanour. They definitely made me feel like family when I stayed over!

Thai tales, take one: Of Wai-greetings and wild dragonfruit

The Wendy guesthouse staff let me in on the traditional Thai “Wai”- greeting, where both hands are held in a prayer posture in front of one´s face and a slight bow with the upper body is made to demonstrate appreciation. For my fellow Yogi-lovers out there, you might feel reminded of the Indian Namaste – this is no weird coincidence at all, as both go back to the Indian Anjali Mudra! The Wai-greeting is usually accompanied by a, at least by European standards, very high pitched “Sawadee” greeting (meaning “How are you”, or “hello”) or, alternatively, a “Kop-Khun Ka” enunciation (meaning “Thank you”).

Once you turn the corner from Wendy House you are right on the main street, where countless mobile food stalls offer delicious tropical fruit such as stunningly pink dragonfruit or deliciously wobbly lychee-fruit. Buyer beware: Dragonfruit is absolutely fingerlicking good and addictive! While being bombarded by the notorious honking of the never-ending stream of cars and Tuk-Tuks and the sellers praising their produce, you are also likely to spot some bright orange- green signs advertising the 7-Eleven convenience stores. Here, you can purchase snacks, drinks and other lifesaving small essentials 24/7.

Thai tales, take two: Of fabulous lady boys and racing tuk-tuks

I remember feeling peckish and getting myself a lovingly prepared dragonfruit (of course), as well as a sandwich at 7/11, kindly warmed up for me by a beautiful lady with a very deep voice. Wandering on through Bangkoks bustling streets, it soon became clear to me that this wouldn´t be the only lady boy I would get to see in Thailands 8,2 million metropolis. One of the exciting facets that Bangkok has to offer is its vibrant Transgender, Gay and Lesbian community.

The huge amount of lady boys, meaning of women who, biologically speaking, used to be, or still are, men, are simply an integral and oh-so-delightfully-lively part of Bangkok´s city scape! They belong as much to the city as the oodles and oodles of cars and tuk-tuks that envelop the city every afternoon in a cloud of dense, slightly smelly smog. Or the elevated rapid transit train, also known as Skytrain. Or the overpowering grey of thousands upon thousands of buildings and skyscapers. Or the many petite and fashion-conscious Thai women. The ladies and the lady boys add dashes of gorgeous color to a partly pretty grey Bangkok and just make it into what it is and what it´s loved for: a cosmopolitan, mind-blowingly exciting and aspiring mega city.

A beautiful lady boy in Bangkok, livin´life the glamourous way

Thai tales, take three: Sniffing up some inspiration at BACC

After my stop at 7 Eleven , it was time to head to the thought-provoking BACC, the Bangkok Art+Culture Centre (corner of Th Phaya Thai and TH Phra Ram1), a contemporary arts hub located just around the corner from my guesthouse. I was greeted by two around four meter-tall men in uniforms: two giant puppets, dressed in sort of diving wet suits, displaying the numbers “1914” and “1939”, respectively, on their chests. This kinda modern memorial to WWI and WWII was just one of many outstanding features that caught my attention – even the facade of the arts center itself was quite a treat, an architectonic feast for the eyes reminiscent of the Guggenheim-museum in New York.

The inside of the building makes art lovers´metaphorical tail wag with the finest in modern Thai art. Alongside extravagant pieces created by aspiring new artists, there are also creative cafes and an arts library to be visited, artistically decorated craft shops to be inspected, and even a pantomime school to be marveled at. The icing on the cake? When I left the building, I just happened to come across a giant Thai rock-concert!

I decided to mingle for a while with the many relaxed and stylishly dressed Thai youngsters that had gathered in front of the stage and I enjoyed getting carried away by the unusual and melodious Thai language and musical sounds. In general, the Thai music-industry ventures far out of the mainstream, especially Indie-bands are setting the trends in Thai music-land. Keen on a taste of that yourself? Head to Brick bar (265 Khao San Road, downstairs at rear of Buddy Lodge complex), where fun house bands take to the stage every night, playing a lively mix of ska, bouncy pop covers and Thai-indie!


That´s all for today, my friends! Stay tuned for the next posts, in which we will discover why a visit to the fishmarket at 6 AM is the best way to end an incredible night out in Hamburg, and how it feels to hang out with a giant reclining Buddha that´s a humble 46 metres long in Bangkok!

Back to you, dear readers: Have you ever been to Bangkok, or Thailand for that matter? What surprised you most about its culture?


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Hamburg part 2: Exciting places and historic traces

How did you enjoy the taste of my entree a la Hamburg? Did it melt on your tongue, tasting of delicious seawater and tantalizing sweetness? I hope it left you wanting for more, because the secret recipe for today´s main meal is ready to be revealed! And I promise you, you are free to spit it out if it leaves you wanting… and you might wanna get a Fischbrötchen, a breadroll with fish, or a Rote Grütze, a typical Hamburg berry-compot with vanilla sauce, instead 😉

What´s on today´s menu, anyways? Let me, your designated waitress, chef and guide for this journey, have a quick look: As a main, inspiring discoveries in the world´s largest warehouse district await you. That´s cool, you say cheekily – while I can hear a quiet belly rumble from your side of the table – but what about the dessert? Ah, Geduld mein Freund, patience my friend, we´ll save the best or at least the naughtiest for last!

Main course: Meandering through the Speicherstadt

Whether you have a soft spot for nostalgic backdrops, a secret craving for architectural marvels or a longing for salty sea air, the Speicherstadt, the world´s largest warehouse-district, has got you covered. Meander along charming bridges, admire the one-of-a-kind red brick facades of houses built on a foundation of oak posts, or pause for a while and let your gaze wonder over the so-called Fleete (canals) of the district.

You might even try and whisper the canal´s names in your companion´s ear – the names are quite lovely, really, with one canal named Kehrwiederfleet, meaning come-back-canal in German. You might even be ready to add a “Ich liebe Hamburg” – I love Hamburg , who knows!

Be sure to check out some of the Speicherstadt´s highlights and cool photo-stops such as the Canal Castle on the Holländischbrookfleet Canal, or the Harbor Police Station No. 2, which can be found at the end of Kehrwiederfleet Canal.

Exotic scents and scary explorations in Hamburg´s world heritage site

But it´s not just the stunning architectural features and the romantic flair that the district exudes, there are also quite quirky attractions to be discovered when out and about in this Unesco World Heritage site! Follow your nose and it might lead you right away to… well, maybe a fish restaurant, but if not that then definitely Spicy´s Gewürzmuseum! This cute little find offers visitors a chance to smell and touch around 900 herbs and spices from all over the world, so get your hands dirty, ahem scented and enjoy sniffing around for a while. Maybe don´t bring your dog, though, he/she might get pretty confused…

If something slighty more action-packed is more down your alley, there´s nothing better than the Hamburg Dungeon, a place where actors lead you through the dark chapters of Hamburg´s rich and multilayered history in an interactive and pretty memorable experience! I visited the Dungeon myself ages ago, and what can I say…it´s not for the faint of heart! But I personally can´t even watch Game of Thrones, so don´t be too deterred by that statement. Visiting the dungeon is, well, in this case, absolutely fun, exciting and informative, there´s no doubt about that.

Out and about in the Hafencity: From museums for ocean lovers to concert halls for architecture aficionados

Another, more traditional cultural choice within the Hafencity- area is the International Maritime Museum with its impressive collection of model ships, art, and photographs. Located in Hamburg’s oldest preserved warehouse, this museum is a testament to Hamburg´s identity as Europe´s third-busiest port and the so-called “Gateway to the World”, as the “Hamburgers” call their port proudly. Check out the giant ship´s propeller at the museum´s entry – it weighs a whopping 15, 6 tons!

Other highlights that might tickle your fancy include the truly mind-blowing Miniatur Wunderland, a place that theoretically should only wow 5-year-olds, but in reality can blow the socks off of any too-damn-serious adult! Let your inner child out of its cage and explore an intricate and really very tiny world when visiting this extraordinarily popular exhibition.

Also, Hamburg´s newest landmark, the slightly pompous Elbphilharmonie concert-hall is well worth a visit – or even a look from the outside, as its postmodern architecture is a sight to behold. The hall is one of the largest and acoustically most advanced concert halls in the world, says Wikipedia, and Wikipedia knows best.


Wow friends, this main course has been quite filling, don´t you reckon? Let´s take a little time to digest this – the next post, the last one about Hamburg for now, will be entirely dedicated to the yummy desert-options a la Hamburg-style! Now my questions to you – what´s your favorite attraction or place to visit in your hometown? And why is it special to you? Thanks for sharing, write you soon!

Handy information part:

How do I get there? By public transport – take the U3 train to Baumwall station, the U1 to Meßberg station, or the U4 to Überseequartier station.

Tell me more about the museums? Aber sicher, sure: You can find Spicy´s Gewürzmuseum at Am Sandtorkai 34, 20457 Hamburg. It´s open daily from 10 AM to PM.

Hamburg Dungeon can be found at Kehrwieder 2, 20457 Hamburg. It´s open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Miniatur Wunderland is located at Kehrwieder 2-4/Block D, 20457 Hamburg, and has great opening times: Monday to Saturday 7 AM to 12 AM, Sunday 8 AM to 11 PM.

And if I wanna know more? Head to architecturally stunning Chilehaus, which hosts a World Heritage Info Point. It´s open daily from 10AM to 5PM.

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Moin, Moin, Hamburg: Exploring Northern delights

Oh Hamburg meine Perle – Oh Hamburg my pearl
Du wunderschöne Stadt – you utterly beautiful city
Du bist mein zu Haus – you are my home
Du bist mein Leben – you are my life
Bist die Stadt auf die ich kann – you are the city that gets me
Auf die ich kann – that gets me

Oh yes, Hamburg, you are loved by many. Despite your often grumpy skies, your famously reserved way of being and your sometimes impossible attitude (housing market, I am looking at you!) you are a power to be reckoned with, a glorious, wild yet sophisticated city that deserves to be seen, celebrated and cherished.

German singer Lotto King Karl, born and bread in Hamburg, is just one of your many admirers, as can be witnessed above by taking in the chorus of his iconic anthem to the Northern port-city with the telling name “Hamburg meine Perle – Hamburg my pearl”.


Germany´s second-biggest city is a place of countless canals, of willows along waterways and of oftentimes chilly, yet cosmopolitan people, a city with an intriguing and long history full of deep dramas and untold tales of bravery, and a city that draws visitors with its abundance of beautiful lush parks, world-class museums, spectacular musicals and, of course, its exorbitant, wild and raunchy nightlife.

Hamburg also happens to be the city I was born in on an early spring morning sometime in the decade of questionable fashion choices, and the city I´ve lived in the longest from the seven cities I´ve lived in up till now. All in all, it´s definitely a place I can quietly whisper a lot of stories into your ear about: funny ones, sad ones, exciting ones, and forbidden ones. But hey, we gotta start somewhere, right? So let me tell you about my favorite places to meander in, dream about and have deep belly-laughs with when in Hamburg-town!

First, I´ll treat you to an entree of delightful things to experience while visiting the so-called “Tor zur Welt” (door to the world) today – and to a fabulous main course and mouthwatering desert in a few weeks. Sounds good? Then “los gehts” (let´s do this)!

The entree – die Vorspeise: Watery relaxation à la Hamburg

Hamburg´s essence is deeply connected with its two rivers: the Elbe river, the main waterway that connects the city to the North sea, and the Alster lakes, central spots for Hamburg beings to walk around, bike around or sail, row and paddle on.

What better way then to start dipping your toes into Hamburg´s true watery essence than to explore everything that these two mischivious water ladies have to offer? Let´s focus on the mighty Elbe river for now.

Shenenigans on and around the Elbe river

Without further ado, let me introduce you to a piece of the Elbe lady´s story – because what else defines a powerful woman like her better than her equally as powerful story! Put simply, it´s thanks to the Elbe´s mighty ways that Hamburg is the economic powerhouse it is today.

The Elbe river hosts Hamburg´s impressive port.
Image by klaushh from Pixabay

Located at about 100 km from the North Sea, the Elbe has been Hamburg´s gateway to the world since the days of the Hanseatic League, a clever commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe formed in the late 1100´s (yep, that´s how old hunky Hamburg is!) So yeah, Hamburg decided early on that it wanted to be a multicultural and worldly hub, back when that was not even a thing for most places. As would be expected, such a trendsetter has a lot of cool things to offer – such as

Cruising the Elbe river for next-to-nothing

Take an HVV- ferry from the Landungsbrücken Piers at the harbor and you´ll get to mingle with locals on this regular public transport mode of transportation. For the price of peanuts, HVV- ferries take visitors to the industrial port as well as the picturesque Elbe river beaches and the famous musical theatres on the south bank – keen on the Lion King musical, anyone?

Enjoying Hamburg´s urban beach-setting

Mingle with locals at urban beach hangouts

Pack a picnic, get off at Elbe beach if the weather allows and make a leisurely day of it. While you´re at it, make sure to check out the trendy urban beach club “Strandperle” close to the Övelgönne ferry stop! When living in Hamburg. I used to absolutely love hanging out at the other beach clubs close to the port, such as Hamburg City Beach Club, fancy Lago Bay, Hamburg del Mar, and the more laid-back StrandPauli. Have a “Rhabarberschorle” (rhubarb lemonade) or an “Astra” (Hamburg beer) while you are there and indulge in some good old people-and river-watching.

Venture underground at the Old Elbe Tunnel

If you are a fan of out-of-the-ordinary experiences, you´ll love exploring the old Elbe tunnel. Constructed in 1911, it prides itself in being the first river tunnel on the whole European continent and a true standout of civil engineering. Hop underground for a quick and cool photo session or explore the tunnel on foot or by bicycle.

The Elbtunnel at night, image by Chris Frenzel from Pixabay

Head there on weekends, when the tunnel is closed to traffic, and do consider exploring up-and-coming neighborhood Wilhelmsburg on the other side of the tunnel.

View trendy Wilhelmsburg from a former bunker

In Wilhelmsburg, you´ll be able to enjoy a young, urban vibe, picturesque river nature and cozy pubs and restaurants. Hop on bus line 13, which bears the intriguing name “Wilde 13“(the wild 13) and allows you to check out all the major sights of Hamburg´s largest hood. For a little something different, visit the “Energiebunker“, a former WWII bunker that now serves as a power plant, dispatching renewable enery en masse. Here, you can enjoy the stunning view over Wilhelmsburg that the bunker´s cafe, located at 30 metres height, has to offer.

One of Wilhelmsburg´s surprising sights, the windmill Johanna.
Image by Spudaitis from Pixabay

Hamburg being the cosmopolitan home to over 1.8 million people it is has so much to offer that it would probably take me hundreds of articles to cover them…but I hope this serves you as a delicious little entree to the endless meal-options that the port-city has to offer! Now it´s your turn: Have you ever been to Hamburg, or to other places in Germany? What did you like best about it, and what surprised you most?

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Decoding Saint-Remy-de-Provence´s magnetism

Saint-Remy- de-Provence… some words need to be savored, softly spoken out loud and pronounced gently to explore their special brand of magic. Let the syllables tenderly roll from your tongue, and you might start to get a feel for the allures of this vibrant little town that has been enticing artists, world-citizens, and bon-vivants for centuries.

Saint-Remy: A Provencale town like no other

Located at the foot of the Alpilles National Park mountain range,  Saint Remy offers the kind of soul-healing glory that only 300 days of sunshine per year can convey. It seduces its visitors’ palates with dozens of restaurants offering exquisite cuisine based on local products, and surprises them with quirky art offerings and quaint art galleries located throughout the narrow streets of the historic center. St Remy is truly the poster child for that unfathomable, typical Provencal je-ne-sais-quoi country town-charm.

Throughout the centuries, famous faces have been drawn to St. Remy like sexy bees to live-giving honey, and notable stars like Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who was interned here in 1918, have graced the French country town par excellence with their presence. Marie Gasquet, Provencale novelist and queen of the Felibrige, a literary and cultural association created to defend and promote the Provencal/ Occitane language and literature, was born here. Also, ethereal princess Caroline de Monaco chose St. Remy as a refuge for herself and her children after the tragic passing of her second husband Stefano Casiraghi.

The charms of the Provencal countryside even managed to entrap some talented musicians lately –  pretty hardcore fellows if you ask me, who would almost certainly never cross your mind when thinking of this laid-back location. Any guesses? Alright, alright, I´ll spill the beans: Only this year, world-renowned Heavy-Metal-Band Rammstein picked St. Remy as their studio-location to record their latest album here. They might be cuddlier than their tough exterior leads on, after all!

A treat for art-lovers: Follow in Van-Goghs´footsteps

St. Remy´s magnetism does not only work its magic on expressive heavy-metal-men, though. Simply make up your own mind while strolling along the picturesque boulevards under the shade of the ancient plane trees, feeling the mistral-wind blowing against the side of your face and the warmth of the sun on your skin. By the way (pun intended), have you spotted any Van-Gogh-route-stops yet?

These stops are hard to miss, really! At several places in and around town, the signposts make reference to places that super-famous ear-cutter and inspired artist Vincent Van Gogh frequented while in town. The Dutch expressionist spent a year at the psychiatric hospital of St.Paul-de-Mausole in 1889. He created many of his most acclaimed works there, and he also found inspiration among the town´s beautiful olive gardens and cypresses, in the rugged Alpilles mountains and smack in the middle of the village.

A treat for lovers of the otherwordly: Pass by Nostradamus´birthhouse

Another hot spot, in this case for history lovers and astrology-aficionados, has to be Nostradamus´(Dec 14th, 1503- July 2nd, 1566) birthplace. I have to confess: I got really, really excited about this one! The house really doesn´t look like much, but knowing that those walls housed legendary seer, doctor and astrologer Michel de Nostredame was enough for me to feel kinda awe-struck. While the walls didn´t give away too many secrets, my imagination wandered off to construe how the life of this extraordinary being must have looked and felt like.


Like many doctors in medieval times, Nostradamus was a trained astrologer who incorporated astrology into the healing arts in order to aid in diagnosis, prognosis and even treatment. He worked mostly with the plague-stricken and published yearly almanacs – our friend Wikipedia clarifies that this is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables.

The latter propelled his rise to fame during his lifetime, and his much-referred to prophecies only furthered his popularity. He managed to become a household-name for more than 450 years! Michel definitely outdid his 17 (!!!) siblings there! Curious abut what the big deal regarding his supposed psychic powers is? Take a peek here and be prepared to be dazzled.

A treat for everyone: French restaurants to revere

If you feel peckish after that much history, you´ll be spoilt for choice when in Saint-Remy-de-Provence! For a delicious French meal-experience, head to “Toute Epoque”, a typical French restaurant which offers fixed menus in the evenings. Alternatively, enjoy yummy buckwheat or dessert crepes and refreshing house cider at the charming little restaurant “La Celtie”. Or just let yourself be drawn into one of the many other lovely eateries in this quintessential French town.

What about you, dear reader? Have you ever been to Southern France? And if not, do you feel drawn to visit a particular place, town or area there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

Handy information part:

  • Where is this town? Saint Remy de Provence is located about 20 km south of Avignon and just north of the gorgeous Alpilles mountain range. It´s easily accessible by the TGV (France´s high-speed-train), with the train station  20 km away from town. The closest airports are situated in papal-palace-place Avignon, noisy yet noble Nimes and messy, marvelous Marseille.
  • To find the Van-Gogh-route stops, simply stroll along town or go prepared by checking out the according website here.
  • Nostradamous birthplace is located on Rue Hoche 6, Saint Remy de Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. As far as I know, you can´t head inside – still fun to marvel at the famous seer´s provenance!
  • For mouthwatering French cuisine, try the Toute Epoque restaurant, located on 21 Place de la Republique, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence, or cozy La Celtie at 9 rue du 8 Mai 1945, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

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Things to do in Provence: Dance inside a quarry in the Alpilles

Have you ever dreamed of having a little dance inside a mountain? Truth be told, I hadn´t – but then I also didn´t know that that was a possibility at all!

Hidden away in the Provencal countryside, in the midst of swoon-worthy mountain landscape Les Alpilles, there´s a place where nature and art meet and melt together in a most surprising, inspiring and uplifting way: Welcome to the fascinating Carrieres de Lumieres, mes amis!

The secrets of the Carrieres de Lumieres

Literally meaning stone-pits of light, the location in itself is a converted quarry dating back to the 19th century. It was then when the so-called “stone of the south“, the limestone that constitutes the building blocks of the quarry, was in high demand. It remained much sought-after up to 1935, when its fancier cousins steel and metal stole its thunder as premier building materials. The limestone itself, onto which stunning artistic images are projected during the much-acclaimed audiovisual shows, formed a staggering 20 million years ago, by the way!

Since 1977, the Carrieres de Lumieres have often served as cultural go-to-location during which spectacular multimedia-shows are projected onto ALL the surfaces of the massive rock-walls that surround you. Yes, even the ground is covered in images, how cool is that? You are basically getting a full body, mind and soul immersion into exquisite art, nature and music when choosing to visit this art-center near dreamy village Les-Baux-de-Provence.

As luck or coincidence had it, famous Spanish painters took center stage at my time of visit, followed by an awesome time-travel back to the Seventies flower-power-hippie days with their life-affirming musical tunes.

What a differently flavored experience that was! I tried to soak up as much of the stunning art pieces detailing the life, love and work of genius Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and the likes as possible and let myself fall into the sounds, pictures and sensations of spaciousness all around me.

The magic of letting yourself go

There´s a certain magic that blossoms when you manage to leave yourself behind and become one with the art that´s diligently knocking on the doorstep of your soul, begging you to leave the mundane, the ever-repeating and at times numbing rituals and routines of daily life behind, inviting you to step into its glimmering promise of enchantment, rejuvenation and wonder instead.

I let myself dance to the rhythms of the all-embracing multimedia-art and left the Carrieres des Lumieres on an absolute high, feeling excited and just thrilled to be alive and to be able to witness all that beauty! If you feel inspired to do the same, here is some helpful information for you:

Handy information part:

  • Location: Carrières de Lumières, Route de Maillane 13520 Les Baux de Provence.
  • Bookings: Make sure to book ahead through the Carrieres website to avoid those queues!
  • Rates: 13 Euros for adults, free for children under age 7, disabled visitors and journalists.
  • Opening times: Open every day. 
    January, March, November, December: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 
    April, May, June, September, October: 9.30 a.m.-7 p.m. 
    July and August: 9.30 a.m.-7.30 p.m. 
  • Also: Make sure to pack a jumper/ jacket/ woolen scarf/ your favorite blankie because it´s kinda chilly in the quarry.
  • Current exhibition: Van Gogh/ Starry Night as well as Dreamed Japan are taking over the show until January 5, 2020.

The remaining exciting things to experience when in Provence that I hinted at in my last post will be covered in the following one, don´t you worry! Provence truly is a treasure-chest of once-in-a-lifetime-experiences.

Have you ever been to an art-show that inspired you to your core? Would love to hear from you! Feel free to share below – Vive l´art!

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Enchanting Provence: First impressions

Ah, la Belle France… few countries in this world conjure up such enticing and seductive imagery, I dare say. No matter if Disney´s hunchback of Notre Dame let you in on the hidden charms of Paris, or Edith Piaf´s passionate song “La vie en rose” (Life through rose-colored glasses) gave you a heart-felt insight into the French´s famous savoir-vivre –no one seems to be able to resist the charms of this country.

In France, even a visit to a regular supermarket-chain can turn into a gourmet-meal-experience, and I am talking packaged crepes and salads! Yes, the French surely know how to wine, dine and feast on first-class food, there´s no doubt about that.

Southern France: A magic bag of beauty

One of France´s most alluring regions which offers culinary delights a plenty, jaw-dropping natural scenery and artistic pilgrimage places en masse is undoubtedly Provence. Situated in Southeastern France and bordering Italy as well as the Mediterranean, seductive Provence has it all! Exhibit A: The stunning mountain ranges of the Southern Alps, a place in which my companion and me got lost for hours in the middle of the night by following the wrong GPS – indications, but that´s a whole different story! Exhibit B: The one-of-a-kind natural beauty of the Camargue, with its wild gorgeous horses, cheeky pink flamingos and abundant birdlife. Exhibit C: The glitz and glamour of the French Riviera aka beautiful bodies tanning on fantastic beaches, exquisite restaurants and nightclubs waiting for affluent visitors, and so much more. As well as of course, Provence´s picturesque olive groves, pine forests and its world-famous lavender fields.

Picture this: the sky is dressed in its most mesmerizing, popping blue, elegant cypresses line the path in front of you, butterflies swirl over fields of flowers and the enticing, elevating scent of pine trees engulfs your being. That´s exactly how Provence greeted me, and how the images of its beauty chose to stay with me ever since.

French discoveries: Come with me on a mystery hunt

During the five days that I got to spend in this magical corner of our beautiful planet, there were some highlights that stood out. Would you mind coming on an adventure with me and discovering some experiences that could absolutely sweeten your Provence experience to the max? Let´s do it. But wait…why don´t we approach this in a slightly different way?

I´ll give you some scavenger-style-hunt-tips alluding to some outstanding Provence things-to-do, and you can, if you´re up for it, do a little research or guessing-game and find out what those attractions might be. I´ll post them here within the next two weeks with some cool details. Alright? Vamos, on y va, let´s go!

First, head to an area close to enchanting Les-Beaux-de-Provence, where you´ll be inspired by an unusual mixture of nature and arts. Think full immersion into these two fields plus pack a jacket to not freeze your tush of.

Next, follow in the footsteps of one of the world´s most famous painters – and no, he´s not French! I hope you are all ears on this one…

And finally, travel back in time and say hello to the birthplace of a prettyyy well-known seer…he´s been in plenty of movies and stuff, you know.

Of course, you´ll also load up on some delish French cuisine, while you´re at it! No worries, I got you covered on this one!

Any ideas yet on what the former clues could mean? Feel free to leave your notions in the comment section, mes amis!

Photography: All rights reserved @A gypsy at heart.

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Trier – the beauty of German-Roman ruins

Imagine yourself around 2000 years back. You are dressed in a traditional Roman tunic and when looking down, you realize you are wearing the type of sandals you vaguely remember from the movie “Gladiator”. Therefore, you are quick to tell yourself that you could very well be in Rome, the epitome of power, wealth and glory in those long-lost days. Clearly, you arent, though – the chill on your skin indicates that you gotta be in a quite different location, a location which bears the rare honor of being named after the Roman emperor and which could definitely use some warmer temperatures, dammit!

2000 years back, you would have found yourself in Augusta Treverorum, a city which nowadays is better known as Trier and lays claim to be the oldest city in good old Germany. Augusta Treverorum might have been more of a hotspot for budding Roman signorinos and stylish Roman signorinas in their sexy tunics. But fear not, Trier is still a place more than worthy of your time and attention! Points in favor? No worries, let me take you along to my top 3 experience-Trier spots, places I was fortunate enough to experience on a whirlwind road trip from Germany to Spain a while ago:

Travel back in time – visit the Porta Nigra

Don´t you just love those very special places that conjure up images and feelings of long-lost tales of hope, promise, challenge, and endeavor? Places that almost effortlessly transport you out of yourself and right into a totally different world. Well, to me, the Porta Nigra in Trier is definitely one of those magical hotspots! Built in grey sandstone just before the year 2000, it is formally known as the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.

Informally, it simply rocks to explore the several stories- high building and its distinct vibe – who knows, maybe that´s the presence of the ghost of greek monk Simeon, who lived as a hermit in the Porta Nigra after 1028 (up to his death in 1035) and very rarely descended from his contemplation-spot. Or it might just be the ancient sandstones whispering tales into your ear about those long-lost days when the northern entry gate to the Roman city got turned into a church…

Recharge and reboot – experience calm at Trier cathedral

For lovers of calm, Christianity and churches, head to Trier Cathedral, the oldest bishop’s church in Germany, built smack in the middle of Trier’s city center. Take a tour and check out the remains of the first Early Christian assembly room north of the Alps from the late 3rd century. Alternatively, explore more pieces of ancient Rome in Trier by visiting the Roman central section with the original walls rising up to a height of 26 meters. Art worshippers will be delighted by the variety of artwork and architecture from more than 1650 years that can be found within the impressive building.

Disconnect and reconnect – take a stroll along the Moselle river or the city center

Trier is an astoundingly picturesque city, to say the least: located in the beautiful Moselle wine region, not far from the border to Luxembourg, it offers an enticing melange of well-kept Roman remains, beautiful architecture and stunning surrounding scenery. If you are as much into reconnecting with mother nature as I am, head to Moselle river and listen to the soothing sounds of the water stream, soak up the soft green of the rolling hills and enjoy an invigorating walk. If you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city center, head to Trier marketplace (Marktplatz in German) and check out the many eateries, shops and gorgeous houses all around. Or, carpe diem to the max and just enjoy both, nature as well as city life!

What´s your preference, dear readers – nature or cityscapes? And why? Read you soon!

Handy information part:

  • So, what´s the gist regarding Porta Nigra? – It probably won´t have moved anywhere so far, so head to
    Porta-Nigra-Platz, 54290 Trier, and you´ll find it there 🙂 Opening times are –
    April – September: daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    October and March: daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    November – February: daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Admission is 4 Euros per adult, 2 Euros for kids.
  • And what about Trier cathedral? You´ll find it at
    Liebfrauenstraße 12, 54290 Trier! Opening times are –
    April – October: daily 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    November – March: daily 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m Admission is 6 Euros per adult

Photography: All rights reserved @A gypsy at heart

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

China for beginners II: Haikou Hotspots

Exploring Haikou, Hainan´s capital equals coming face to face with a pretty authentic Chinese city-experience. This true Chinese feel seems to be able to emerge thanks to the relatively low number of foreign tourists, thanks to intriguing temples and old town streets contrasting with massive modern shopping malls as well as the allure of exotic cuisine that can be experienced in the myriad of restaurants all around.

Wandering through the port city´s streets, you´ll discover majestic trees to lean on, red lampions to marvel at, and street vendors loudly praising their products. A very popular snack indeed is the humble potato: its sweet variant is served steaming hot on many a street corners and warms and delights at once with its delicious simplicity.

Haikou would only be the first stop of a two-week-long Southern Chinese adventure which would lead me, amongst other outstanding experiences, to (very reluctantly) trying snails in Guangzhou, (delightedly) witnessing a professor from Beijing reciting a handwritten calligraphy- poem, (excitedly) trying Bamboo-Rafting on the Li- River, and (enthusiastically) partying the night through with some Brazilian expats and party-experts in Shenzen.

Haikou was, however, my first point of encounter with quintessential China, which was quite different from the watered-down, stereotyped version of China we can see portrayed in the mainstream media. Some of the highlights of my Haikou- experience included the following:

Exploring the Temple of the Five Lords

The Temple of the Five Lords, also known as the “Temple of the Five Officials” (Haifu Rd, Qiongshan Qu, Haikou Shi, Hainan Sheng, China, 571100) is a memorial shrine to five exiled officials from the Tang and Song dynasties that you´ll find in the southeast of the city. Think gorgeous subtropical vegetation and soft green bamboo plants surrounding bright red Confucian temple structures, intriguing animal figures guarding the roof of picturesque shrines, and marvelous altars cloaked in the smell of incense.

Strolling through the Old town´s quarter

Head to Haikou´s historic neighborhood, one of Hainan´s many “qilou” districts – well-preserved areas that date back through the dynasties to the 13th century. Haikou´s old town quarter features an enticing mix of Chinese and colonial European architecture – wander down the street and you´ll be transported to a completely different world that´s rarely visited by westerners.

Breathe in the strong scent of Chinese medicine being brewed in one of the many arcade shops while marveling at the interesting architecture or watching a painter intently creating a portrait of Mao Tse-Dong. You do know Mao, right – yep, the namesake of the outstanding movie “Mao´s last dancer”. Here, in Hainan´s Zhongshan Road (Zhongshan Road, Qiongshan District, Haikou 570101) you´ll really get a taste for the unique charm of olden-day China!

Living on the wild side: Exploring Haikou´s cuisine

No post about a trip to China could be complete without mentioning its sometimes fabulous, sometimes scary cuisine! Scary why you ask? Well, that once upon a time (or what it nowadays?) monkey´s brains were/ are consumed as a delicacy in the land of the red dragon might just be a rumor.

Truth is, though, that there is a certain traditional dish that I was determined to try when in Hainan, which turned out to be… a chicken´s brain. Like, they literally served me a whole skull including the brain. Which I did not see coming. Like, at all! All the while, I witnessed a rat doing a joyful run and jump through the restaurant. Did I eat that brain? Did I make friends with the rat? No to both. And I am proud to say, I have been a non-meat-eater ever since.

On the plus side, there are some exquisite dishes to be tasted while in Haikou- try Wenchang chicken (free of brain, I think), Jiaji duck or Hele crab at Fule Chicken Restaurant Hainan or – go vegetarian (climate change is real! Just saying) and try some delicious vegetarian dishes of the Szechuan cuisine.

That´s it for now regarding my Chinese travel-tales! What about you? Have you ever been to China? What was your favorite experience or dish while there?


Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sevilla: Follow in the footsteps of Don Juan

If your heart beats in unison with a deeply romantic soul, you´ll find yourself in heaven on earth when in the Andalusian capital Sevilla. Sevilla is the raw material that 1001 dreamy tales are born from: the scent of oranges and jasmine fill the air, pink Bougainvillea flowers lean against bright white walls, the sound of laughter and song remind you of the long-longed for joy within your being and the warm sunrays linger on your skin.

Head to the ancient neighborhood Barrio Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter, for an extra dosage of rejuvenating inspiration. Here, you´ll be able to lose control by getting lost in the labyrinth of the enticing narrow streets all around you. Don´t linger too long when you find yourself in front of yet another gorgeous palace or hidden-away convent, though – the ghost of Don Juan de Tenorio and his forbidden love Dona Ines de Ulluoa await you! Well, they might, anyway.

“Encantado”, delighted, that´s how Don Juan would surely introduce himself to you, in a charming, yet assured tone of voice and with an irresistible demeanor. He might even bow to you, in that typical 19th century-way. He was, after all, the absolute star of the Spanish drama Don Juan de Tenorio by Jose Zorilla, and therefore the key character of Spain´s most popular 19th-century-play!

Don Juan, the young nobleman who so loved to drink and duel his way through the city, fell madly in love with young novice Ines, who, as rumor has it, was born in the Santa Cruz hood. Their tragic love story unfolded at impossibly romantic places such as Plaza de Dona Elviria, Plaza de los Venerables, and maybe even the popular “Antiguo Rincon del Beso“, the old corner of the kiss!

This beautiful yet humble spot, located on Calle Gloria 7, is where many couples like to stop for a passionate kiss and to celebrate their love by taking a cute snap or two. And it might also just have been exactly this tucked-away corner where Don Juan and Ines exchanged one of those deep glances that you can only share with someone who truly touches your soul…

What´s the most romantic place you have been to so far? Would love to hear all about it! May the spirit of romance be with you, my friend.

Categories: Amor und Eros - Love and sensual living, Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Bali-hotspots: Charmed by Canggu

Majestic cows calmly grazing on lush green fields. Local farmers doing their daily chores with humble composure. The sound of salty ocean waves sensually caressing the rocks along endless beaches. Doesn´t really sound like a trendy hangout for hipsters, graffiti-aficionados and global citizens, does it? Think again, my friend, because you are smack in the middle of cutting-edge, vibrant Canggu, a formerly pretty sleepy village and surfing spot that has been transformed into a much sought-after mecca of intriguing culture and trendy cafes.

Let me take you for a little bike-ride through this piece of pretty darned special Indonesian island, alright? Excuse me, what did you say? You wanna know what you are getting yourself into beforehand? Alright, let me tell you that this trip will involve places where motorcycles meet art, sexy hangouts where pissed-off dogs encounter beautiful people chilling out to the latest tunes, inspiring graffiti-art waiting to be discovered in forgotten places, and the creme-de-la-creme of healthy, clean cuisine. And I´ll serve you a tiny tale of a very failed attempt to surf on the side.

Sounds good? Cool, you know what to do then: Put on that helmet and join me as we cruise through this cutting-edge neighborhood on the Southern coast of Bali.

Stop 1: Morally correct breakfast at inviting Betelnut cafe

After a short ride along emerald green rice paddies and the occasional graffiti art piece making a pleasant contrast to grey murals, its time to take that helmet off again, shake off the dust and enter Betelnut cafe, located 5 minutes away from popular Echo beach. Betelnut cafe is one of many, many hipster-hangouts dedicated to serving food that´s good for your tummy, your energy level, and your whole magnificent being. Choose between teas such as Japanese Sencha or strong, smokey Gunpowder tea from Java, opt for the obligatory green smoothie or just go for a fresh young coconut.

While munching on the ingredients of your Betelnut Bowl, a tropical fruit melange, or a Mung bean breakfast (tomato, avocado, and sprouts on your choice of bread), you´ll be able to watch digital nomads from all over the world and chilled-out locals interact in their natural habitat. Alternatively, let your gaze wander over the adjoining rice fields and dream a little dream. Don´t get too sleepy though, it´s about time that we head off to our next stop! Ready? Let´s do it!

Nothing better than sipping on a cool coconut on a tropically hot day!

2. Check out inspiring, off-the-beaten-path street art

Enjoy the feeling of freedom pulsing through your veins while riding along hip hotspots for hot-deskers and slickly designed Yoga studios alternating with pure Balinese nature-scenery until our arrival at Jalan Lkr Neyalan. See if you can spot the gorgeous, orange-colored street-art-tiger set against a deep blue background that seems to run at full speed over the adjunct rice field! Inspired by his vitality, we´ll continue on to check out the abandoned shacks at Batu Bolong Beach, where creative mavericks have come up with pretty quirky art pieces.

If you feel tempted to take a refreshing dip in the delicious ocean waves and let all the new impressions sink in, take your time, I´ll wait at groovy Old Man´s beach bar for you, no worries. You could even try your luck at surfing here, of course, if you feel adventurous!

Let me tell you, I did the same thing a few years ago and despite my best efforts at surfing managed to not just lose my favorite ring, custom made at Istanbul´s Grand Bazaar , but also my balance and a few more things… let´s leave it at that, I´ll spare you the embarrassing details. You go, girl or boy, though, try your luck cause I heard surfing can be a pretty fun thing to do!

3. Hang out at breezy beach bars and mesmerizing motorcycle-temples of hedonism

While you try your luck at catching a wave or two, I´ll be enjoying a drink and maybe a quick lunch at Old Man´s (you snooze, you lose hehe). I can´t really remember what day it was today – am in my thirties, after all. But in case it´s Wednesday, there will be some alluring party action taking place after sunset, and if it´s any other day, there´s probably gonna be live bands playing anything from reggae to rock or DJ´s showcasing their skills to an attractive crowd of locals and expats.

Chilling out on a colorful bean bag and deeply inhaling that delicious sea breeze is another great way to enjoy Old Man´s charm… and in case some barking dogs wanna join your restorative moment, just stay relaxed and let it be. Barking dogs belong to Bali like its volcanoes and transformative magic, after all. Or at least that´s how it was a few years back!

If you still feel like amping up on more inspiration after your stay at Batu Bulong Beach, finish your Canggu discovery ride at Deus Ex Machina, the self-proclaimed temple of enthusiasm and eclectic motorcycle shop. Here, you´ll be wowed by unique fine art pieces while listening to life-music and browsing through a plethora of the latest in motorcycles, surfboards, and skateboards. The unique hangout amid emerald green rice fields also offers movie nights, Pan Asian cuisine and yummy cocktails, so it might just be just the right place to finish your Canggu discovery day!

By the way, I´m open to symbolical tips in the form of tips – have you been to Canggu yet? What are neighborhoods in your area with an artsy vibe that you´d recommend to culture-and arts-lovers?

Handy information part:

Betelnut cafe –  Address: 80351, Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No.60, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351. Opening times: Every day from 8 AM- 10 PM

Old Man´s – Address: Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.117X, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351. Opening times: Every day from 7 AM-1 AM

Deus Ex Machina – Jl. Batu Mejan No.8, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia. Opening times: Every day from 7 AM-12 AM

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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