Posts in English

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: , , , , | 3 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: , , , , | 4 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

Traditional Balinese dance and music performances in Ubud

Unusual melodies awaken you from your thoughts. Sounds that seem slightly disruptive, like speedy drivers on a silent road, suddenly envelop you. You might not know what to think of this music that´s at once exotic and bewitching.

What you do know is that you simply can´t help but be intrigued by it all: the all-male Gamelan orchestra who elicits the traditional Indonesian sounds from xylophones, drums, gongs, and other percussive instruments. The stunning backdrop of the performance stage, with its intricately ornated angkul-angkul traditional gate and guardian statues. The gorgeous Balinese dancers, expressing the depth and versatility of their cultural stories and myths with such passion and precision.

There is grace in their movements, there is a pure embodiment of all that´s good, enticing and seductive about the Balinese culture. Theirs is the perfect blend of spirituality and sensuality, always offered up to the higher realms they so believe in.

Balinese dancers in Ubud, photo by Aditya Agarwal from Pexels

The accompanying Gamelan-music roots´ lie in an even older past than the Hindu-Buddhist origins of Balinese faith. They are a mesmerizing remnant of indigenous art forms that dominated the cultural expressions of Indonesia during its earliest records.

To get a taste of this very particular cultural phenomenon, head to Ubud royal palace at about 6:45 Pm as each night starting at 7:30 PM there´ll be a variety of rich dances shown there. The royal palace, known as Puri Saren Palace to the locals, is one of Ubud´s cultural hot-spots located along the town´s bustling main road Jalan Raya Ubud. The performances being shown there include Barong Dance, Mahabharata and Legong Dance… take your pick and expect to be wowed. To help you figure out which dance performance you might be most drawn to, here a little insight into two typical types of Balinese dance:

The Barong Dance is where Barong, a creature akin to a lion in the mythology of Bali, meets Rangda, badass-demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders. Sounds a bit like Game of Thrones, doesn´t it? Well, it´s not entirely the same, but there is an epic battle to behold, a war between good, mirrored in Barong, the king of the spirits, and evil, in the form of Rangda. I could go on a feminist rant here due to “good” appearing in the form of a male figure and “bad” personified in a female. But fear not, I won´t. The dance is still an amazing sight to be enjoyed, after all!

The Legong Dance, traditionally performed by girls who have not reached puberty, enacts different traditional tales, one of them telling the story of the King of Lasem, a true heroic romance. Interestingly enough, according to legend, Legong dance came into being through a dream vision! The prince of Sukawati is said to have had a feverish dream in which two girls danced to Gamelan music. Subsequently, being the inspired guy he was, the prince arranged for such dream dances to be performed in real life.

Another story version of Legong´s possible origins states that it came into being through the sanghyang dedari, a ceremony involving voluntary possession of two little girls by beneficent spirits. Sounds kinda creepy, though, right? Again, fear not, the dance performances are absolutely mindblowing anyways, no matter where their origins really lie.

Legong dancers at Ubud Royal Palace. Photo: Saranabhi/Wikimedia commons

No matter which performance you choose to watch in the end, you can´t really go wrong: each one of them will be like a window into a very different world and enticing in its own right. Have you ever seen a traditional Balinese dance before? How did you feel about it?

Practical information:

  • The Easiest way to get tickets:  If you are around Jalan Raya Ubud in the afternoon, you´ll most likely run into street vendors offering tickets to the nightly spectacles. Otherwise, just head directly to Ubud Royal palace no later than 7 pm to buy your tickets at the door.
  • Performance time and duration:  Nightly performances start at 7:30 PM every day of the week and last for an hour.
  • How much does it cost me? You´ll be 100.000 IDR poorer per person, yet a lot richer in spirit!
  • Where was it again? At Ubud Royal Palace, Jalan Raya Ubud No 8, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, World.


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Ubud´s artistic hotspots

Why is it that there are places that just seem to have a certain creative and transformational power that others just don´t? Places that burst with a certain je ne sais quois, an almost magnetic force that draws visitors in like bees to honeycomb or like wild souls to seawater. Ubud in Central Bali certainly belongs to the list of seductive places that lure you in with their promise of healing and artistic delights.

It might be because Ubud is literally named after the Balinese word ubad for medicine, making reference to its function as a crucial source of medicinal plants and herbs. Or maybe Ubud´s mysterious attraction can be traced back to its founding legend which surrounds a Javanese priest by the name of Rsi Markendya. As the eighth-century legend goes, the priest chose to meditate at the confluence of two rivers in Campuan, Central Bali, which inspired him to create the Gunung Lebah Temple. Up to today, this site remains a place revered by pilgrims and seekers.

Be it as it may, there are certain places in Ubud where you can easily get a taste of its legendary creative charm yourself. Let´s start with majestic ARMA-museum, the Agung Rai Museum of Art. Founded by Balinese protector of the Arts and Culture, Agung Rai, it houses permanent exhibitions of inspiring paintings by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign creative mavericks. On top of alluring traditional and contemporary visual art by Balinese masters such as Ida Bagus Made or I Gusti Made Deblog – no, he wasn´t blogger to my knowledge, even though what a spot- on-name that would be- there´s a space dedicated to German painter Walter Spies.

Ever heard of this crafty fella? Well, don´t fret if you haven´t, his fame didn´t make it to a global level, but he did rock Bali´s world and had a major impact on the development of the arts on the island. Spies was an ethnic German born in Russia and the whole artistic package: a gifted teacher of music and painting, he also experimented with dance and excelled as a visual artist.

Spies, who lived an intense and short life, and kindred spirits Willem Hofker and Rudolf Bonnet were also real olden-day-celebrity-magnets. They came to entertain and delight global stars such as my beloved Charlie Chaplin, British Science-fiction-writer H.G. Wells or Austrian-American writer Vicki Baum, to name a few. And the foreign artistic groundbreakers also used their influence and popularity to gather the creme-de-la-creme of artists from all over to teach and train the Balinese in arts. This is actually what led to Ubud becoming the world-famous cultural center of Bali known and loved by so many today!

While you are at the ARMA- museum, don´t miss out on the magnificent tropical gardens: Let your newfound inspiration work its magic within you while wandering past orchid-lined water-ponds filled with lotus flowers. You´ll also pass by enticing traditional stone sculptures frosted in green moss and adorned with typical Balinese flower offerings. The soothing sounds of the picturesque fountains will create an irresistible auditive melange with the exotic Gamelan-music that can often be heard in these peaceful surroundings. You might even get a glimpse of children practicing their Balinese dance skills! This is due to ARMA also housing an outstanding center for performing arts which regular hosts Balinese-themed workshops, classes, and performances.

Practical Information:

  • The ARMA museum is located on Jalan Raya Pengosekan in Ubud.
  • Opening hours: Every day from 9 AM to 6 PM
  • Admission: IDR 80000, which includes a tea or coffee
  • Peckish? There is also a fabulous cafe and a restaurant on site.
  • Is there more? Yes, there is a stunning resort located on the compound, Cultural workshops to delight in, musical performances to attend…

Have you ever been to Ubud, or to any other place that for some reason really stirred your soul? Would love to hear about your experiences!

Photography: all rights reserved © A gypsy at heart

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Balinese village life: Exploring soulful Lothunduh

Bare-breasted women graciously balancing heavy goods on their heads, looking just like those on the black-and-white-film-snippets recorded by Charlie Chaplin back in 1932. Exotic looking Bali cattle, descendants of mighty buffalos, plowing the soils of vast rice fields just before the rice seeds are planted. The happy squeals of local children, splashing and playing in the waters of the river. Enchanted looking, hidden away Hindu temples, exuding the whiff of the unknown.

My time in Lothunduh introduced me to a world which was far-removed from everything I had immersed myself in before. In a way, my 5 month-stint in Bali would prove to be so significant that it would divide my life into a “before” and “after”. The intricacies of that story are destined for another post, though…

This story aims to transport you to a Balinese village just a stone-throw away from trendy Cultural hub Ubud, and yet so far removed from it in terms of its deeply-rooted connection to its traditional essence and to a slow-paced way of life lived in harmony with the seasons. Spend a day or even a few hours in Lothunduh anywhere off the main roads, and you´ll get to look through a peephole into the island´s past. Watch rice farmers donning their traditional working clothes and hats while minding the paddies, observe devoted artists and craftsmen create their unique art pieces in one of the many art shops or workshops, or marvel at the Balinese goddess-women who perform their daily offerings at the many places of worship all around.

Something about Lothunduh and its inhabitants simple, yet deeply connected and magical way of life really stirred my soul. Especially the way in which the Balinese there and on the whole island honor and give back through daily rituals which express their gratitude to the Gods they revere creates a completely different atmosphere to what we are used to in the West. To believe in something outside of oneself and to cultivate awareness for the countless gifts we are given each day of our lives is an inspiration that I hope to keep in my heart.

You will be able to witness the deeply spiritual life of the Balinese just by keeping your eyes and hearts open while wandering along the roads of the farming village. Here are some more places to visit in order to get an authentic feel for what I am trying yet might fall short to transmit with my lines (there is only so much that words can convey, after all):

  • For beautiful artwork: You´ll be absolutely spoilt for choice here, you lucky girl/guy! As a good starting point for your exploration, head to gallery Semar Kuning on Jalan A.A.Gede Rai 8. Here, two Buddha figures and a big Ganesha-Elephant- statue greet you upon arrival and intriguing contemporary paintings depicting traditional Balinese motives await your visit. Keep wandering around Lothunduh-village and you´ll come across more galleries and workshops, as Central Bali is not only a place filled with rituals, myths, and magic but also home to countless skilled artists and craftsmen. Many Balinese wholeheartedly devote their time to honor their Hindu faith through their visual arts, woodcarving, dance, and other art forms.
  • For interesting Hindu temples: Even though you generally won´t be allowed to visit these places of worship, it´s still a beautiful experience to take in their charm and interesting appearance while strolling around. Head to Pura Desa Lothunduh or Pura Hyang Api, for instance.
  • For authentic Indonesian food: Check out Blue Bliss Warung and indulge in specialties such as Nasi Campur or Nasi Goreng, delicious rice (Nasi) based dishes.
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Fiery food and fancy clubs in spectacular Singapore

My first trip to Singapore was a game changer – I was in Asia for the first time, after all! And I was ready for absolutely anything. Before even setting foot on the Lion’s city’s soil, I made sure to cover every last inch of my skin in pungent, poisonous DEET-Spray to keep any possible malaria-threat at bay.  In my mind, it was quite obvious that bloodthirsty anopheles-mosquitoes were patiently waiting around every corner just to get hold of my irresistibly delicious blood. My first Singaporean encounter was, however, not an out-of-control mosquito, but a lovely Indian guy working at the airport. Much to my amazement, he was quite delighted when he found out that I had just arrived from Germany. He gifted me a broad, beautiful smile and performed a little jump, mimicking a soccer-move in the air and enthusiastically exclaiming: ”Ah, Germany! Soccer!”

Singers Skyline

Admiring the Lion´s city skyline on a hazy afternoon

Stepping out of Changi Airport, voted the best airport in the world for the last five consecutive years, something quite distinct caught my attention. A bunch of mostly tiny white-haired ladies and gentlemen,  all in their seventies or eighties, were walking around full of determination and busy like bumblebees. Their sole task consisted in making sure that the taxis would swiftly drive up to their designated spot and that customers would be on their way right away, without any hassle or any tedious waiting in line. All in all, it took about two minutes until we were safely seated in the taxi. Quite efficient, right? On the way into town, I longingly pressed my nose against the tainted window, fully in awe of the amazingly lush, abundant tropical vegetation that lined the impeccably maintained streets. Gorgeous Banyan trees, palm trees, and orchids gave us a quick first impression of Singapore’s staggering 2200 native plant species.

Eat, eat, eat some more: Welcome to food heaven

Our cute hotel, Hangout@Mount Emily, was located only 3 km away from Chinatown, and we decided to make the most of the balmy, tropical night and take a look around. Luckily for us, the shopping malls, one of Singapore’s definite go-to-places and (almost) national treasures, were still open at 10 pm, allowing us to explore their amazing food stalls. With their array of colorful, mouth-watering specialties, Singapore’s hawker centers and markets are undoubtedly a piece of pure paradise for food-lovers.

 

singapore shopping mall

Enjoying one of Singapore´s countless shopping malls

One of Singapores´s many foodstalls

A busy food stall at Lau Pa Sat food market

Want some inspiration? If you love it hot and spicy, you should definitely give Singapore’s specialty dish Laksa a try. Laksa is a spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan/ Nyonya cuisine,  created by descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays. It consists of rice noodles with chicken, prawn or fish, offered in spicy soup and often times based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk. When I tried Laksa for the first time at fancy Lau Pa Sat Food market, I desperately attempted to eat a quarter of the normal sized portion for an eternally long seeming half an hour, skeptically ogled by the Singaporean soup Saleslady. I did not do so well, to say the least, despite basically turning into a fire-spitting ball of determination. So yeah, you better love your meals real hot!

Other delicious food-ideas to sample in Singapore pose less risk to spice-adverse stomachs and include delicious pink dragon fruit, Kaya toast and Milo for breakfast. Or tender satay, grilled meat served with rice cake, peanut sauce and cucumber-chili relish, for a light lunch. Singapore’s food is generally speaking as diverse and eclectic as its population, a fascinating blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Western influences.

 

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Pretty in pink: Dragon fruit, or Pitya, is grown and exported from several South East Asian countries. Its mommy is a pretty cactus!

Spice it up, non-food-wise: A wedding celebration and tropical nightlife wonders

My first stay in Singapore, a country that consistently scores top spots in the ”Best countries to live in” – rankings, obviously did not just (exclusively) consist of food indulgences. One of the undeniable highlights was attending a friend’s incredibly memorable wedding-celebration at luxurious Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. After a touching church ceremony downtown, the celebration took place in one of the many Skyscrapers overlooking the Singaporean Marina. And what a celebration it was! A delicious five-course-meal and two dress changes and appearances of the newlyweds, dramatically set in scene by a red carpet, Titanic-movie-style-music, as well as smoke from an authentic smoke machine (for real!), turned the party into an almost out-of-body experience.

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Stunning Singapore at night

After a mix of tear-jerking speeches and light entertainment, it was finally time to hit da dance floor. Singapore has quite a reputation for its great club-scene, including but not limited to the areas of Clarke Quay, Chinatown’s Club street and Holland village. For fans of nostalgic momentum: Check out legendary Raffles hotel and drink up that notorious Singapore Sling, though your purse might not thank you for it. However, your travel memory collection certainly will. Choices! In our case, we opted for something different that young and alluring night and decided to party on in one of Singapore’s stunning clubs with a view, CE LA VI, and to, later on, hit the clubs on gorgeous Sentosa Island. Hugely popular Sentosa Island is a true treasure chest, even though it’s not entirely what it seems to be… Do you have any handy, absurd, or exciting travel tips for Singapore to share? Feel free to comment below, and thanks for your time, fellow travel lovers!

 

 


Handy information part: 

Hungry at 4 AM? Go to: Lau Pa Sat Foodmarket, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582. You can eat around the clock here, so better bring those generously sized pants, mates. And they better be decent looking, financial district location and all. Just sayin’…

All jittery? Dance it off at: CÉ LA VI, 1 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018971 

Tired much? Sleep at: Hangout@Mount Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Rd, Singapore 228119. Phone: +65 6438 5588

Having an airport-crush? Spend the day prior to your arrival or departure in Chiangi-Airport, Airport Blvd, Singapore. Why? There’s enchanted gardens, butterfly sanctuaries, art installations, a multimedia entertainment center and even a movie theatre to keep you in non-stop-marvelling-mood.

 

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

How to recognize real friendship in the digital age

Did you come across the fascinating revelations of Australian nurse Bonnie Ware a while ago? If you are a digital Native, chances are you did. Under the title The top five regrets of the dying”, the palliative nurse revealed what she had learned about some of people’s most significant desires, showing themselves in the form of regrets that people had expressed on their death beds while Mrs. ware was caring for them in the last 12 weeks of their lives.

One of the top 5 regrets was the following: “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

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The reassurance of physical touch

 

At first glance, it’s understandable to think ‘ oh well, staying in touch with friends has never been easier than nowadays through social media, mobile phones and media connectivity galore!’ And yes, this is definitely an advantage that previous generations were not able to enjoy. However, the patients questioned by Bonnie Ware emphasized that they would have loved to “give the friendships the time and effort they deserved”. Now this, in my opinion, is a key phrase. How many of us fool ourselves into thinking that scrolling through our Facebook news feed and obligatory liking the newest of our friends picture, leaving an encouraging comment on a good day, equals maintaining a friendship?

How convenient would it be, if real, lasting friendship could be maintained this way? Undoubtedly, it would save a lot of time if it was possible and if the friendships of former days just had magically transformed themselves into these  forms of human contact that merely needed a second of our attention every so often. Unfortunately- or fortunately – it isn’t this way, though.

How many ‘friends’ can we cope with?

The lines between real friendships and fleeting acquaintances have become blurred in the virtual world, not just but also because many Social media users showcase more than 1000 friends on their profiles, while the realistic maximum number of people we are able to maintain relationships with  lies at 150 people. Our brains are just not wired to cope with more, as evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar proves in his fascinating study.

 

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Social media: a world of possibilities and distractions

 

Many people don’t seem to know anymore what they can expect in and of friendships in times like these in which  so much of our social interactions are happening in an online world. In my mind, the current times require more than ever to not just increase our connectivity, but also and more importantly, to strengthen our conscious approach to communication and to our relationships. It’s an important task to establish for yourself what real friendship means to you and then create a conversation with people you consider friends, becoming clear on what your desires and values are in a friendship, what the other one’s consist in, and if and how you can bring those needs together or create compromises.

With some friends, this might never be necessary  -it can’t hurt however to have an honest conversation as we all have a limited amount of time and energy at our disposal, and our resources are best spent in alignment with our core values and needs and communicated in a respectful and compassionate way.

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“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Mark Twain

Are you in need of some inspiration as to what could define a real friendship? Ultimately, this is a thing just you can decide on, and something that might vary considerably from person to person. Here are some ideas though that work for me:

  • Communication is key: Keeping each other regularly updated on how your lives are going is crucial in order to not lose sight of each other, especially if your friend is a really close one. Just assuming that 5, 10 or 20 years of friendship are enough to trust into an eternal duration of your friendship can work for some, but to me has a very fairytale like quality and definitely doesn’t work for all friend pairings. You need to water a plant to make it grow or even just to keep it alive – give your friendship some attention in regular doses, let them know if your life is too crazy right now to write much or call often but that you think of them. As with everything in life, you generally receive what you put out! If you treasure your friend, don’t treat them worse than your pot plant.
  • Express your feelings– by the way, another regret that features in the top 5 regrets of the dying is that they wished they would have been more open expressing their emotions. Sometimes this is easier said than done of course, but to make any long-term relationship or friendship work on a prospering and enriching level, this is a crucial learning process! Your feelings and needs are such an integral part of who you are  -don’t shy away from giving them some space. If you admire something about your friend – say it! If you feel hurt or disrespected, discuss it. How often do people get passive-aggressive because they have swallowed their feelings one too many times? That type of emotional suppression is definitely not conducive to a fun, loving vibe in your friendship.
  • Self-care: Don’t expect anyone to fill your void. Heal and tend to yourself, and yes, let others be there for you, but do not expect anyone to be your saviour. That’s your role!
  • Talk, be there for each other, especially after a break-up, loss or other huge transformations, but also schedule in some fun times to let the inner child run rampant and just let go for a while! Life can be tough as it is – make sure you can enjoy yourself with your friend as well and not exclusively talk about problems.
  • Check in with yourself– does the friendship generally uplift you, or do you feel drained after a talk or catch up? I am not referring to times of crisis – they are perfectly normal and an essential part of life and growth in which a friend’s support can make a world of difference. However, if the general gist of your friendship is leaving you sucked and dry, and the person goes on and on about the same stuff without trying to work on it by themselves (be it through books, meditation, therapy or the like) – it might be necessary to call it quits or to at least reduce your interactions considerably. Limited time and energy, remember? There are plenty of beings you can shower with love, time, and compassion without feeling drained afterward!

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What is key in a real friendship? What are your no – goes? Looking forward to your insights below ! And also make sure to enjoy cultivating the probably most important friendship you can ever create – the one to yourself!

 

 

Categories: Der Weg der Heilung, Posts in English | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sensuality and Self-love

Being in a physical body equals having access to an amazing gift – well really countless gifts, but for the sake of this article and your and my attention span which  is nowadays apparently shorter than that of a goldfish let’s just focus on the one aspect for now.

The absolutely unique ray of sunshine and free limitless resource I am referring to  that could enliven your every day if you choose to invite it in is authentic connectedness and self-love through Sensuality.

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The beauty and delicate essence of flowers as sensual inspiration

Sensuality is a wonderful thing which in turns fosters mindfulness, a quality that has been in the focus of a myriad of scientifically validated studies for more than only one good reason within the last years.

Sensuality – enjoying life through our senses

So what do I refer to with the term Sensuality? It is something that we all can access, males and females alike, even though it might be even more important for females to consciously integrate this essential part of their beings in order to experience their innate feminine power and essence, to awaken to their inner source of joy, abundance and pleasure.

The meaning of Sensuality is theoretically quite easy to grasp: the focused attention to and enjoyment of the impressions we receive through our five senses(some might say six, but that’s another story): touch, smell, sight, hearing as well as taste. To me, Sensuality furthermore also corresponds to slowing down and honoring your Yin sides – basically living the opposite of what society is currently teaching us to do! The mentioned Yin side is referring to the Taoist viewpoint of all of life formed by the principles and interactions of Yang,  active life force, and Yin, passive expression of lifeforce.

Most of us are always artificially connected: here a quick Facebook update, there a Whatsapp chat while eating, and this type of almost compulsive superficial connectedness weaves itself through our whole day: be it waking up and first of all checking LinkedIn or e-mails,  meeting someone for lunch and at the same time constantly checking for new notifications… the list goes on and on. I often wonder how our poor minds and nervous system cope with the amount of unfiltered information that we so willingly seem to take in every day.

Artificial connectedness versus connection to our sensual experiences

Don’t take me wrong: I know from experience what I am taking about. However I am slowly coming to the conclusion that this constant availability and superficial connectedness comes at a HUGE cost: we are available to all this information input at the expense of our presence, our connectedness to ourselves and life in its variety of wonderful and unique sensual forms, we basically deny ourselves the pleasure of an authentic, real life experience and trade this present in for creating onesided images of ourselves in a virtual world, and for cultivating like- based “friendships” with our 500 plus “friends”.

Let me give you an example: When was the last time you prepared a meal while exclusively putting your attention on the task at hand? Do you really know how ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumber or spicey radishes taste like?

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Do you remember the gorgeous smell of lemon or the close up view of a strawberry? And all that without instagramming your meal afterwards?

Consciously preparing, tasting, smelling and connecting to your food, just for the pleasure of being alive, is only one of the myriad of possibilities that we have to live sensually and therefore increase our daily dose of enjoyment.

How to cultivate your Sensuality and Selflove in daily life

Here are 3 ideas to increase sensuality in your daily life and to  decrease distraction from sensual experiences:

1) Turn food preparation and eating into sacred rituals and disconnected media times

 

My Spanish grandpa used to say “Come y calla”/ Eat and be silent, whenever it was time for the pleasure of food. Even though this approach might seem a little old-fashioned and outdated, it does makes sense to practise mindful eating:  Studies show that eating your meal consciously, paying close attention to how it smells, looks and tastes and getting rid of distractions like TV, typing or reading, which interrupt the digestive focus and process, is undoubtedly healthy for you. As emphasized by the University of Harvard, mindful eating can help with eating disorders, weight loss and digestive problems.

Here a little exercise in mindful eating from Harvard Health:

Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you get started:

  • Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
  • Use chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.
  • Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
  • Take small bites and chew well.
  • Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Do something else, like reading or going on a short walk.

2) Connect to Nature

Nature is our true home and offers an abundance of possibilities to connect to yourself and strengthen your Selflove through Sensuality: Do you remember how great it feels to walk barefoot through the grass or sand at the beach, to smell the salty ocean breeze or freshly cut grass, to bury your nose in a field of roses or to attentively listen to the birds singing in the woods? Consciously focusing on these sensations and taking them in as fully as possible brings you back to the present moment and can put a lot of things into perspective. Connect with the elements in a natural setting close to you, even if it’s just a little park around the corner, and recover your feelings of aliveness. No, that Candy Crush game can’t do that for you. YOU can though.

Try to intensify your experience of Nature by engaging all your senses. For example let’s imagine you are sitting in the grass in the sun. How does the grass smell like? Take it in for a few minutes. If your thoughts wander, just accept it gently, but direct them back to experiencing the smell of grass. After that, turn your attention to its appearance: which 5 things can you perceive in regards to its look? Again, stay focused on that. After a while, continue on to feel the grass: caressing over it, touching the soil beneath…Which sensations do you experience?

3) Schedule daily pleasure islands for yourself: 

How often do many of us live through the week barely hanging on and purely focused on the salvation that the weekend supposedly bring? There are better ways to honor your precious life time and connection to life, yourself and your pleasure.

Instead of just pushing through and exclusively relying on too much coffee or sugars to make it through your day, let me introduce you to your allies on the way to a more joyful life experience, your daily pleasure islands!  Most of us love to dream ourselves away from time to time to a beautiful island of our choosing, a place where we can just be, with no demands placed upon us, no thousand roles to play, and the cleansing air of the ocean washing away the old debris of previously encountered unpleasantness.

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Recharge your batteries daily by reconnecting to yourself, your Self-love and Sensuality

To create little islands of pleasure in your daily life, schedule in two or three-time slots of 20 minutes each throughout your day, for example in your lunch break, after work or at the start of your day. Make sure these islands are truly scheduled in and keep them as appointments with yourself, just like you would keep an appointment with someone else. And then fill these islands with sensual experiences you love and enjoy, time well spent that recharges your battery on a daily basis. Some ideas for your personal pleasure islands could be:

  • giving yourself a massage, for example an ear, hand, or footmassage, ideally with some oil of your choosing (sandalwood, lavender, or whatever tickles your fancy). You can read more on the healing power of touch here (in German).
  • put on your favourite tunes and dance all your stresses away. No inhibitions! Lock your door and close your blinds if need be. I strongly believe in the incredible power of dance to free yourself from imposed aspects of shame, emotional blockages or yes, of course physical tensions!
  • indulge in a bubble bath with candlelight and soothing music or put on a guided meditation while you are at it
  • practise mindful eating
  • Do a blindfolded exercise: At first, taste your food without a blindfold. Then, blindfold yourself, and see how the experience changes. This approach can also be applied to touching everyday utensils, furniture etc.
  • Get creative: dip your fingers in paint and create some crazy art, sing a nonsense song , impersonate your favourite actor…the possibilities are endless.
  • Reconnect with your partner or lover, fully focusing on the sound of their voice, their looks, their smell…
  • Practise breathing exercises
  • Do some stretches, a short Yoga session or some other forms of movement you enjoy
  • Whatever you do, make sure to remind yourself that you are allowed to enjoy yourself and that enjoying life makes you more vibrant, healthy, giving and even productive!

Do you have any other ideas on how to create more joy in your daily life? Feel free to share below.

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The power and Sensuality of dance

 

 

 

 

Categories: Amor und Eros - Love and sensual living, Posts in English | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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