Aloha amigos, amigas, readers, tired of BS- ones, Zen-ones and people of the internet!
How are you all holding up? If you find this year´s collective happenings just a teeny tiny bit tedious, hey, you are not alone. But fear not – a fun distraction is here. What would you say if I invited you to come along on a very non-tedious, light, insightful, and hopefully entertaining time-travel-ride? No, we are not going back to 8000 BC Egypt, and neither to the light and fluffy Middle Ages. We are traveling right back to February 2020, to a time that´s a measly six months ago, and yet feels like a completely different lifetime in many ways. Do you feel me?
Anyways, back to the time-travel-journey at hand. Drumroll… please say hello to A) A Gypsy-at-Heart´s first-ever video interview and B) The fantastic Andrea Hogan, an all-around marvelous traveler, serial ex-pat, and dear friend who hails from Mexico and has lived in such fantastic places as Southern France, Switzerland, Germany, as well as Queensland and Western Australia.
Throughout our interview, you´ll get to hear fabulous insider-tips on the best travel experiences from around the world and you´ll find out what hilarious stuff can happen to you if you tour France while sleeping in a 400 Euro-car. You ll also find out how to save money while traveling, how to spice up your daily life with a travel-mindset, and many, many more insightful and fun bits of first-hand-travel-wisdom.
Back to you, dear reader: Do you prefer to watch videos, read posts, or listen to podcasts? What did you enjoy most about this video? And which is your Number-one- travel-destination you would love to explore? As always, I would love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed the video, please subscribe to the A Gypsy at Heart- You-Tube-channel and gift me a little like. Arrigato and cheers, mates 🙂
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Be fluid. Be adaptable. Flow around obstacles, ever so gently. Yet remember that you also have all the might of the stormy oceans within you, a strength that can swallow ships whole, a power that just needs to be acknowledged and, if necessary, liberated. The power to break-a-way, to follow your very own path, be it without, or indeed, within.
The storm from the night before is still casting its shadows, the waves on crystal-clear Lake Geneva are testimony to this. I feel the strong winds whipping against my face and almost blowing my purple beanie away. I hold on tighter to my beanie and myself, standing strong like a tree amidst the currents that swirl all around me, my gaze fixated on the crescent-shaped lake. It´s still so tumultuous out there that even the famous Jet D´Eau fountain, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, does not grace onlookers with its spectacle.
Morning musings in diplomatic surroundings
Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Léman, offers a pure pleasure paradise view: the majestic lake shared between France and Switzerland lures my thoughts away from the mundane and towards the transcendent with its unbelievably pristine waters and the Alps visible in the distance. The diplomatic hub Geneva´s watery playground gives me a tiny glimpse of the magnificence that I´ll be privileged to witness later in the day.
This day would be all about the holiest of live´s building blocks, the component that makes up up to 60 per cent of our bodies, the essence of life that nourishes us, cleanses us, and beckons us to immerse ourselves in it to refresh and purify ourselves and start afresh…
After admiring Lake Geneva and soaking up the interesting, kinda stern atmosphere of the diplomatic hub´s city center and the cobbled old town (I somehow can´t help but feel a vibe of “Don´t mess with me or I´ll haunt you with a massive paper trail”), it´s time for a stroll and a quick lunch. Fortunately, we stumble upon a perfect little eatery with healthy and delicious meals called Qibi which provides us with more than enough fuel to do a little window shopping and marvel at some sights.
Heading to a place of French watery magic
We had also eyed off visiting major sights like the Temple de St-Pierre (cathedral of St. Pierre) or the Palais de Nations (United Nations headquarters, a center of world diplomacy). Somehow, though, we feel a stronger pull towards our new destination – I had just recently learned about Annecy in a travel guide book on France, and the sound of it had sounded too darn magnifique to be true! While the mesmerizing Swiss-French landscapes with their imposing mountains irradiated an undeniable power that could be witnessed through the car window, my thoughts seemed to merge with the promise of the upcoming travel chapter. Again and again, some long-ago read quotes on the magic of water crossed my mind:
“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.” — Kahlil Gibran
“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” — Isak Dinesen
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” — Lao Tzu
Why is it that we tend to long so passionately for the ocean, the lakes, the rivers of the world? Is it because it´s where we can reunite with the essence of our true home, where we can wash off the density and stagnation of the world and become one again with our innocent, radiant, and eternal selves? Might places of water offer us ways to make our light shine again and sparkle with a renewed hope of trust and faith?
Falling in awe in Annecy
Be it as it may, Annecy would, in any case, bring me closer to the awe and reverence towards life that radiant natural settings ignite. After dropping our luggage at the hotel and having a little nap, we made our way down towards the primordial reason for our detour. So there we were, unsuspectingly driving through a cute French city and suddenly… an INCREDIBLE panoramic view appeared on the horizon. Was I excited? You bet I was – I was freaking spell-bound!! Completely enthralled, just like in-the-first-throes-of-romantic-love, or when just about to open your favorite package of snacks. I mean, snacks!!
Anyways, back to the bluer-than-blue, any-painter-would-die-to-stand-in- front- of- this- view. Picture the Caribbean ocean, just casually set in the middle of a French town, and surrounded by the commanding Alps. Pretty darn cool, hey? By the way, Annecy is just a one-hour drive away from Montblanc, at 4810 meters the second-highest mountain in the whole of gorgeous Europe. So yeah, that type of Class A mountain excellence was dotted all around Lac Annecy, creating a sublime contrast of rock and strength to the clear waters of le lac (the lake).
Exploring le lac: From urban beaches to aviaries
Once we had arrived at our destination, we started leisurely meandering along its shore and taking in the indescribable beauty of the place. Lake Annecy, which for any curious geography-nerds out there, is located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, is fed by mountain springs and known for its clean water, which we got to marvel at for hours. After a while, our stomachs started to object to endless walks with no French food supply. There seemed to be something of a French siesta thing going on, though, as all the restaurants we headed to were closed for the early afternoon. What´s a hungry girl to do? Raid the nearest supermarket, of course!
So off we went to a charming little supermarche where we got to indulge in buying some excellent local produce and more. Did I mention that in France, EVERYTHING tastes delightful, bursts with flavors, and feels like a soft embrace of your tastebuds? Yes, every single item we tasted soon afterward on our impromptu-picnic tasted “formidable” (fantastic), and that included packaged supermarket-salads! Go figure. French Savoir Vivre in action, right?
Btw, there are a few cute urban beaches and many more things to discover around the lake, such as lovely pleasure boat rides in summer. Inviting waterfront restaurants and wine bars offer lake views, the scent of fresh mountain spring water, and relaxed dining. At its north end, Annecy has a cute medieval old town with canals and bridges called “Annecy-Le-Vieux” – the perfect spot to end our excursion for the day.
Lovely people, stay tuned for my next post, which will be VERY different to anything shared so far on A Gypsy at Heart. I am super-excited to be kicking off a whole new side to sharing for you – think fun, excitement, guests, and more! Will you join me?
Back to you, dear reader: What is your favorite watery destination and why? How exactly does that place make you feel? As always, I would love to hear from you:) Stay well, wild, and curious.
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It´s long. It´s colorful. It´s kinda exotic. It´s just lying there, big, bold, and beautiful, lazing around in the light summery rain.
Is it a giant tree trunk gone bonkers? Is it a vehicle coming straight out of a South-East-Asian fairytale? It might be the latter, but then again, how would I know – this is my very first time in incredible, majestic Thailand after all!! I do know one thing, though: I have been here all of five minutes, and I am already in love. Maybe even head over heels in love!
Moonson musings and first impressions
It´s the middle of October and the rains, as I will learn during the next weeks, are a reliable force to be reckoned with throughout these monsoon months… Sometimes they appear as a welcome friend that ever so lightly taps on your shoulder and caresses your sun-kissed cheeks, sometimes they like to make a dramatic entrance and throw a thunder-clothed tantrum as if they, and only they, own the place. Which they kinda do, when they turn into torrential downpours that sweep away almost anything that dares to defy them, which is not a rare occurrence during the rainy season, that typically lasts from July to October.
Besides rains, there are dazzling beaches here on Thailand´s largest and most developed island jewel Phuket. Glorious, long, sandy, dreamy, inviting beaches like Kata Beach, Freedom Beach, Katai Noi Beach, or Karon Beach, some of them with the typical longboats (yes, the tree trunks aka fairytale thingies!!) dotted around, and smiling Thai fishermen working around them.
Running into the Andaman sea while the rain is in its friendly light appearance-mode is a particular pleasure: The sea waters are warm and all-encompassing, while the light rain pattering onto your head and face feels refreshing and invigorating at the same time. Add the visual deliciousness of the pure green-blue waters and an incomparable view to the experience, and you might begin to feel in your deepest core what makes Thailand´s islands so irresistibly alluring.
Burmese Beach encounters and Buddhist notions of peace
My two weeks in Phuket are an excursion into a wonder-full world of kind, gentle people, fantastic, albeit at times hair-raisingly spicy meals like Tom Yum Kung (a soup dish with a fried chili and chili base, ay ay ay!), to-die-for-massages (try a Thai massage at Sweet Lemongrass Massage in Patong – ay ay ay!) , and raunchy nightlife (head to Soi Bangla Road for the authentic, loud, obnoxious to outragingly fun version of Thai nightlife pleasures). There are also humbling temple visits, seasoned with an abundance of exquisite nature settings- lush tropical vegetation and picture-perfect beaches.
Our hotel is located a five-minute walk from Patong beach, and so I often meander along massage-parlors with petite and very pretty Thai ladies offering their services, flashy souvenir-shops, and restaurants, till I reach the shores of the Andaman sea.
I love chatting with the young guy whose name I have forgotten, a refugee from Myanmar who, like the around 130.000 others who share his fate, fled eastern Myanmar due to persecution by the Myanmar army since the beginning of 1988 and found a new home in Thailand. Many of them still reside in nine refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border. The young man working as a watersport-instructor at Patong beach, probably the liveliest and most activity-packed beach in all of Phuket (think Jetskiing, banana boat rides and the like) has been lucky in that regard, even though his friendly, charming demeanor might belie the pains he must have experienced.
“Smile to it” must be the motto of the Thai people in general anyways – a motto which is inextricably linked to their TheravadaBuddhist faith, which is practiced by 95% of the population. Buddhism is not just an abstract concept here like it is for so many people in the West. It´s strongly anchored in daily life, which is clearly made visible through the many shrines and temples all around. Meditation is a key aspect of Buddhist practice – and guided meditations are often a great starting point in learning to meditate!
For me, the distinct mentality of the Thai people, their gentleness, kindness, and caring ways are definitely a distinct feature of this culture. Buddhism and beaches – two undeniable highlights of the Southern Thailand island experience!
Sensual serenity at the beach and tantalizing time-travel at the temple
It´s a marvelous and rejuvenating gift to your own soul to explore some of Phuket´s divine beaches such as Laem Singh beach, a tropical, hidden paradise with thick, green bush, and large rock boulders, where you can rent a bodyboard or snorkeling kit from the nearby restaurants, and enjoy Phuket´s colorful underwater world of wonders. Just out of this world!! Well, really, in it! So, lucky us!!
To amp up your inner tranquility and peace, there´s nothing better than heading to one of Phuket´s 29 temples, such as Wat Phra Thong or Wat Chalong. My own visit to Wat Chalong was simply awe-inspiring. The atmosphere of peace and serenity as well as equanimity that the temple itself, as well as the present monks irradiated, was palpable, the many golden Buddha statues, opulent flowers and intricate temple architecture a feast for the eyes and soul.
Walls and ceilings were beautifully decorated with vivid paintings illustrating the life of Buddha. I vividly remember being somehow completely mesmerized by a painting depicting a monk, clad in bright orange robes. I must have stood there for twenty minutes or so, just taking in all the details of the picture and feeling completely at ease and peace…
Wat Chalong is generally frequented by a myriad of locals and tourists alike who come to pray and pay respects to several revered monks. These were the founders of the temple, Luang Pho Cham and Luang Pho Chuang, who led the citizens of Chalong Sub-district in a fight against the Chinese rebellion in 1876 and assisted the injured with their knowledge of herbal medicine. If you do visit (entrance is free, yay), just be mindful of the required dress code and behavior to be observed in any Thai temple.
To enjoy a guided meditation, a Yoga class, as well as an e-book with my best kept relaxation secrets, drawing from my background as a trained Yoga teacher, Wellness trainer and Healing-Arts-student with 20 years of experience, just join the waiting list here. You might very well get to sleep better and lengthen your attention span by starting on your meditation journey!
Where is Leonardo hiding? Searching via Speed-boat from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi
To finish off our Phuket-adventure, let me give you a quick description of an outrageous excursion to dreamy Ko Phi Phi island on a leaky speedboat, guided by a flamboyant ladyboy. Imagine this: You are stepping aboard a speedboat that, clearly, has seen better days, but of course, that´s just an uninformed guess. You are too caught up in checking out your fellow passengers, a bunch of cool cat-Russians, three cheeky Australians, and about a dozen more voyagers from different cultural backgrounds, to observe the boat more in detail.
Also, there´s a charming Thai ladyboy explaining all kinds of things in a nonchalant and relaxed manner, so how could there be anything to worry about? A few minutes in, and you start to understand why: While the rains have started to pour down from above, the ocean water seems to leak through the bottom of the speedboat. You are completely soaked in a matter of seconds, while determinedly holding on to your speedboat-seats. Halleluja, what a ride! Is it from heaven, is it from hell? Who knows, really.
Fortunately, there are some beautiful stops to be had before anchoring off the coast of Ko Phi Phi for the day. First off, it´s time to get the snorkeling gear out and jump into the deliciously warm waters – a date with colorful fish is on the cards. Who doesn´t love the heavenly quit under the water´s surface and a sneak peek at the world under the sea? I surely loved every minute of it! Next off, our group gets to hang out just off the beach of an island inhabited by crazy monkeys.
We get to feed them, always mindful of them not getting too cheeky and stealing our valuables. Last, but not least, it´s time to explore the island that the famous movie The Beach made so famous: Ko Phi Phi. Truth be told, the beach and view were stunning AND also – freaking overcrowded with tourists! But – it might be a different experience if you choose to stay there longer and get to explore the island more in-depth… On a different note, Leonardo was nowhere to be found. Ah well, nothing beats swimming with colorful fish anyways! Sorry, Leo 😛
Back to you, dear reader: Have you ever been to Southern Thailand? If so, what were your impressions, and what did you like best? Also, what is your dream island to visit in the future? As always, I would love to hear from you! Thank you, and stay well, wild, and curious:)
Images: This time, all images (minus one haha) are from Pixabay and Pexels, as my Southern Thailand photos went missing. They probably preferred to stay on the island, is my guess… can´t blame them!
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It is late afternoon in Bali. World-famous Kuta beach resembles an overcrowded anthill: a messy mix of surfers, retired Australians with big bellies enjoying their Bintang beers on plastic chairs, partying youngsters and Balinese either socializing in the sand or selling all imaginable types of products. Some also offer up drinks from improvised mini beach bars as well as mobile Rasta style hair braiding services or massages.
The muggy and stifling heat of an average tropical day at the end of the dry season is finally easing up. Palm trees along the narrow beach promenade mercifully stretch out their long leaves to shelter the gathering onlookers who await the dramatic sunsets of Bali’s Southern Coast.
The Balinese Sea Turtle Initiative
In between all the hustle and bustle, a giant turtle raises its head and commands attention. It belongs to the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Center, an initiative created by…
Aloha there in front of the screens, how are ya? Ready again to revel in some soothing and inspiring travel-dreams after our travel movie inspiration post part 1? Well, allrighty then, your wish is my command! Read on for part two of the best ever travel movies 🙂
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Spain
First things first, this is a Woody Allen movie. But – it´s nothing like Annie Hall or some of his other works. Well, it might have some similarities with his enchanting cinematic creation “Midnight in Paris” in which the glorious Paris of the “années folles” (“crazy years”) the 1920´s, comes alive. Anyways, back to bountiful Barcelona, the location of Allen´s playful tale “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” about, that´s right, Vicky and Christina (played by Scarlett Johansson) in Barcelona.
The protagonists are American girls in their twenties who spend a wild, inspirational, kinda loco (crazy) summer in Catalonia´s capital. This includes but is not limited to plenty of creative endeavors, a dalliance with a somber yet sexy Spanish artist (played by Javier Bardem), AND his eccentric ex-wife (stunning Penelope Cruz), and delightful explorations of the Barcelona-cityscape.
Australia – Antarctica (lol, got ya). Down Under.
Australia – this is the continent of incomparable natural beauty and power, of endless red outback deserts and countless pristine beaches, of a paradisiacal variety of animals, as well as of the world´s oldest Spiritual wisdom tradition. The epic movie bearing the same name does this treasure chest of a continent justice – Baz Luhrmann´s cinematic masterpiece was filmed in the wild and rugged Kimberley- region of Western Australia. It tells the story of a woman (played by divine Nicole Kidman) who travels to Australia to save the cattle ranch she inherited. In the process of doing so, she befriends a local called Drover (Hugh Jackmann hottie-alert) who then helps her accomplish her mission.
When you think of Australia the movie, think mind-boggling cinematography that captures the passionately intense colors of the Australian landscapes- Think fascinating time-travel to the chaotic times of the Second World War. And think adventure, drama, passion, romance, and epic rivalries. You will also learn more about Indigenous Australians, the world´s oldest living people, and about true resilience that defies all the odds. What´s not to love?
The beach – Thailand
Sawadee khaaa! My trip to Phuket in Southern Thailand is almost a decade ago now, and yet the images of its soul-soothing beaches remain as fresh as when I first set foot on the blessed soil of this gorgeous island jewel.
“The Beach” storyline plays out not far from there – the movie was filmed at Maya bay on Ko Phi Phi. I might write a post on my crazy speedboat-ride-experience from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi in the future, would you be interested to read about it? Let me know in the comments– Kop khun kha – thank you!).
The Beach tells the story of Richard, a young American played by Leonardo di Caprio, who is very keen on his very own treasure hunt. Aka he suddenly finds himself in possession of an odd map that is supposedly gonna lead him to a secret island paradise!
Richard convinces a French couple to join him in his quest for more happiness and adventure, and so the story of stunning images out of Thailand in the year 2000 begins. “The Beach” lures viewers in thanks to its youthful fervor, beautiful tropical settings, and a deeply felt sense of adventure that oscillates between invigorating and unsettling throughout the movie.
Kon-Tiki – South Pacific
If you are in the mood for the real deal in ADVENTURE movies (in capital letters!!), then look no further than Kon-Tiki. An epic tale inspired by real events, Kon-Tiki tells the story of Norwegian adventurer´s Thor Heyerdahl´s incredible bravery and pioneering spirit. In the 1940s, Heyerdahl (played by Pål Sverre Hagen) suspected that the South Sea islands were originally colonized by South Americans, which contradicted the widely accepted paradigm of the time.
Imagine this: In 1947 Heyerdahl decided to prove his theory, and, accompanied by five brave friends, set sail from Peru. Heyerdahl did this despite his strong fear of water (!!) as well as his inability to swim (!!!)
Can you believe that?! Told ya, ADVENTURE in capital letters!:P The courageous men embarked on a balsa-wooden raft (!!!) which was, you know, pretty basic – the only modern equipment aboard was a radio. Probably because the importance of great music can never be underestimated, right?
The crew, therefore, needed to navigate just like they used to in the very, very olden days – using the stars as well as ocean currents. It took them three incredibly tedious and exciting months at sea before reaching their destination. And boy, were those three months packed to the brim with exciting encounters and moments! But, see and watch for yourself. It´s truly gripping stuff!
TheBest Exotic Marigold Hotel – India
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a charming tale of a bunch of open-minded British retirees who decide to explore new horizons by “outsourcing” their retirement to more affordable and exotic India. The hotel that gives the movie its name looks fabulously enticing on paper. However, when the retirees, played by the creme de la creme of British actors such as Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith arrive at their destination in Jaipur, the hotel turns out to be a mere shell of its advertised self. Despite their initial disappointment, the protagonists wholeheartedly embrace their new life adventure and their charming host, played by gorgeous Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire).
While exploring their new hood, the protagonists learn lots of valuable lessons about themselves and life – and there might even be a sizzling love story or two on the cards! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a real feel-good movie that celebrates India´s warmth, soulfulness, and colorfulness, as well as joyously affirms that a brand new promising start is always possible with the right attitude.
Under the Tuscan Sun – Italy
What can a girl do after a draining divorce? As we have already learned from Liz in” Eat, Pray, Love” , the answer is (or can be): The girl can leave town and embark on a travel adventure to the country of Beauty incarnated, Bella Italia! Or in this case, she even starts a whole new lifein the homeland of exquisite food, awe-inspiring architecture, and dreamy landscapes.
The memoir adaptation movie stars Diane Lane as Frances Mayes, who starts her love-affair with Italy via a tour of Tuscany. Enchanted by the sight of an old, run-down house, Frances takes the spur-of-the-moment decision to buy it and make a new life in the Tuscan countryside, where she encounters fascinating people and becomes a major fixer-upper-boss-lady.
Lost in Translation – Japan
Which countries and cultures are on the top of your dream places to explore? In my case, Japan is a culture that I find incredibly intriguing. From its rich and multi-layered culture and wisdom traditions, to its incredibly futuristic seeming big cities or its mouthwatering food – Japan is certainly a location that must expand one´s horizons by leaps and bounds. Or so I was told by Bob Harris. Bob who, you might ask? Bob Harris, who happens to be the protagonist of the iconic movie “Lost in Translation”!
Harris, played in a charmingly disgruntled way by Bill Murray, is an older American film actor who visits Tokyo to star in some commercials. There, he encounters Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson), the young spouse of a visiting photographer. Both are feeling kinda stuck in their current life situations, and so they share some meaningful and culture-shock-informed experiences in the Japanese metropolis. And they might even get too pretty darn close to each other…or are they? You better watch to find out 🙂
Back to you dear reader: Which are ways in which you love to travel while our usual ways of traveling are still restricted? And which are some of your favorite ways to relax, to dream yourself away from everything for a little while? As always, I would love to hear from you:)
Do youneed some assistance in order to learn to relax more in these intense times? I am currently creating a relaxation-and-wellbeing-package, based on my 20 years experience studying relaxation methods and Healing Arts. My qualifications include a 270hrs – Yoga-teacher-training, a 200 hours plus Wellness-and-Health-coach training, as well as in-depth studies in further areas such as Qi Gong and Astrology with teachers and healers from around the globe. You can register your interest in this offering here.
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The year is 2020. It´s the year of our reality seemingly morphing into one giant, and may I say, extra-long and at times kinda apocalyptic science-fiction movie. Or a thriller. Or a drama. Anyways, what could be more appropriate than balancing out one movie, especially one as intense and adrenaline-inducing as the one we have been witnessing over the last months, with another? A lighter, more joyous and life-affirming one, of course!:)
Which inner movie is playing on your mind?
Let me backtrack a bit, before continuing along the afore-mentioned train of thought. The mind is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant, as leadership expert and writer Robin S. Sharma says – a statement that never seemed to ring more true than now. Rarely are things as bad as the unmitigated mind wants us to believe, rarely is the reality of the world as one-sided as it is being portrayed by the mass media.
The fact cannot be denied that suffering is part of life, of course, but a mind left to its own devices usually adds insult to injury with its negative shenanigans.
So questioning our beliefs and thoughts on a regular or daily basis might just be what the inner doctor ordered, to arrive at the calm which lies at the center of every collective and individual storm. This has validity in general in my perception but is especially important in times of such imbalance within the collective consciousness as has been manifesting over the last months.
To assist you in accessing your inner place of calm, I am currently working on creating a fabulous online relax package consisting of an e-book, a guided meditation, a Yoga-and-movement-video, and… a secret surprise bonus!
I am a trained Yoga teacher with 20 years of my own Yoga practice and many further Healing Arts studies under my belt, and I am more than happy to share some of my best-kept secrets with you, if this resonates with you, dear reader. If you do feel called to do so, please register your interest here.
Put a smile on your dial: Keep exploring life´s beauty
Fortunately, life is not all inner and outer work, though, and travel has always been an amazing way to just have some good ol fun, expand one´s horizons and broaden one´s perspectives. Travel can happen outwardly, but fortunately for us, it can happen inwardly as well. Inward ways of exploring which you might love or grow to love can include listening to world music, reading inspiring books about foreign cultures, cooking yummy recipes from other cultures, or watching fantastic travel movies!
Do you love movies as much as I do? I must admit that I am an absolute movie-buff who even studied cinema at university as part of my Masters in Cultural Studies and communication. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my top 10 travel movie choices. Find the first three recommendations in this post, accompanied by some pictures of my previous travels/ stays at the respective movie location- countries or cities.
Eat, Pray, Love – Italy, India, Indonesia/ Bali
You might have heard of this one before, lol. This 2010 movie based on Elizabeth Gilbert´s adventurous experiences while traveling around the world to find herself after a tricky divorce was a massive box-office-hit. It entices its viewers with an easily digestible storyline, gorgeous cinematography which captures images from Rome/ Italy, Liz/ Elizabeth´s first station, India, as well as Bali and brings them straight to your armchair/ sofa/bed/ or wherever else you love to hang out these days. It has it all: Hunky and talented actors and beautiful and equally gifted actresses (I mean, Julia Roberts!! James Franco!! Javier Bardem!! Enough said), a focus on delicious food, as well as adventure, romance, and a dash of humor.
It might not be a movie a la Citizen Kane, but it surely offers a marvelous respite and a way to travel to awe-inspiring locations around the world from the comfort and safety (a much-beloved word nowadays) of your home. I leave you with some photos of my own one-month-stay in Italy/Rome from 2007. To travel a bit deeper and read about my own experiences while living in Bali, just embark here. Italy and Bali are up to this day two of my favorite ever travel destinations which we hopefully will be able to enjoy again very soon. Until then, let’s make the most of our virtual travel time together!
The hundred-foot-journey – France
Welcome to la Belle France… enchanting, freedom-loving (usually anyways) country of exquisite cuisine, of free-spirited thinkers and artists, and superb scenery as well as alluring cities and quaint little country towns. There are countless beautiful movies set in this spectacular country, but one of my all-time- favorites must be “The Hundred-Foot-Journey”-
It tells the tale of a lovable Indian family that moves to a sweet yet conservative country-town in France and sets up a restaurant opposite a well-established French haute cuisine establishment. Et alors, and then? Ah bon, there is lots of fire happening! Metaphorically, and literally speaking- the fires of rivalry, of passionate love, and exquisite culinary creations create an elaborate dance of joy and entertainment, brought to life by marvelous actors including goddess Dame Helen Mirren and directed by Lasse Hallström. Mon dieu, c´est magnifique!
Soul kitchen – Germany
Ah, Soul kitchen. I mean, what a title! It points to the key ingredients of this irresistibly fun and kinda unconventional, very non-mainstream movie by iconic German-Turkish director Fatih Akin. The plot centers around lively protagonist Zinos, a German of Greek descent who owns Soul Kitchen, a shabby, run-down restaurant providing working-class food in the Hamburg area.
Zinos is out of money due to, among other things, a punk-rock-band that occasionally uses the restaurant as practice space, but never remembers to pay rent, and old sailor Sokrates, who kinda lives on his boat at the warehouse-space owned by Zinos for free. Everything changes, though, when Zinos decides to follow the girl he loves to Shanghai and leaves his beloved diner to his criminally inclined brother Ilias (famous German actor Moritz Bleibtreu) …
As a Hamburg Native, I must admit I absolutely love this gem of a movie. It showcases many neighborhoods and locations that I know “wie aus meiner Westentasche“/ like the back of my hand, plus it simply bursts with creativity, fun, and cool music. Viel Spass beim Anschauen, Leute – Have fun watching it, peeps! Also: You can listen to the movie´s soundtrack here.
Back to you, dear reader:What is your favorite ever travel-movie? And where would you travel now, if a fairy godmother suddenly landed on your windowsill and granted you a hassle-free trip somewhere in this beautiful world?As always, I would love to hear from you!
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Hola amigos, amigas, friends, freaking-out ones, calm ones, and storm-weatherers!
Wanted to post a little something while I am working on my next longer post- some beautiful photos and cultural input from Spain to showcase its beauty, zest for life, and abundance. I had my birthday here in Southern Spain, where I am currently based, some days ago and wanted to create some positive vibes and images centered around one of my two countries of origin… counterbalancing the mass-media´s approach to everything and the current mainstream- mind-focus, on a teeny tiny scale.
I have been a bit more absent from blogging than usual due to these weird occurrences that we all have been witnessing, but am stoked about everyone who continues to share positive stories, travel posts, haikous, poems, Street-Art… refreshing and much needed!! Basically, speaking for me personally, I am currently attracted to reading and interacting with anything that doesn´t mention the C-word (haha, you know which word I mean!!), or expand on private issues (because we all are going through something at the moment, and vibes are contagious…), but that focuses on creating restoring, healing, positive, and uplifting vibes. Maybe you can feel me on that one? 🙂
Without further ado, some good vibes from gorgeous Spain!
Dear reader, hope you enjoyed this little post! Are there any positive news or insights you wish to share? Maybe a beautiful image, song, or interesting fact about your country? As always, would love to hear from you! Let´s keep this a place of inspiration, upliftment, and joy, and give ourselves a break. Media CAN heal! 🙂 Much love.
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We are in the midst of a storming sea of crashing sounds, water thundering down, endless cascades of nature´s glorious fury surrounding us and giving us a taste of a might that´s usually forgotten.
Do you really wanna keep driving like this?!, I ask my travel companion slightly stressed out and pretty freaking flabbergasted. I need to ask twice, almost screaming my question the second time around, as he can barely hear me through the thick sound wall of relentless heavy raindrops that are crashing onto the roof of our tiny car. Were cars built for this type of storm at all? We can barely see the highway leading us from Baden-Baden in Germany to Basel in Switzerland in front of us anymore. I need some of that Swiss stoic demeanor now, presto/quickly! And a piece of Swiss chocolate wouldn´t be a bad idea, either.
Road ruminations, Basel bound
One hour later, and the black and heavy layers of thick, electric clouds are still weighing the atmosphere down. Which is not always a bad thing- a concentration of dense and heavy matter can beckon one to re-center, become still, and look into the depths of one´s own being/ soul again, to re-encounter yourself in a world that constantly tries to pull you away from your very own essence and truth.
Is that what I did? Probably not. Rather, I pressed my nose against the cool window-pane to my right, watching the ephemeral traces of rainy water-circles build and dissipate again, observing in awe as the storm washed over the huge ash trees which were dancing wild and carefree in the heavy winds.
The storm was still with us when we finally arrived in Basel for a late night stop-over. The rain was pouring down as if heaven was on water-fire, so we decided to seek shelter in a dimly lit, sweet little Swiss restaurant in the heart of the northwestern Swiss city.
Swiss cuisine and savory exhalations
My meal of choice was a traditional Swiss Rösti, a dish made of potatoes in the style of a fritter. Seriously good stuff, by the way! Originally conceived as a breakfast dish, it was commonly eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but is now enjoyed all over Switzerland and around the world. Sometimes breaks can really be the most important part of any journey, right ? Just as we cannot just breathe in all the time without breathing out, so is traveling best enjoyed with a generous dash of rejuvenating time-outs, adapted to your individual nature, preferences, and needs.
Along those lines, the hours we spent in Basel enjoying the local cuisine and meandering through its inviting streets afterwards were a much needed break after the previous five hours of storm-driving. A short yet warmly embraced out breath after the exciting hours on the road!
Crazy enough (in hindsight :P), we decided to venture on that same night. The storm had lost most of its ardent flavor, and the rain was glistening in wet and slippery ways on Basel´s broad roads.
Following Carl Gustav Jung´s thought-trains to Geneva
The next four hours gave me a taste of how Switzerland´s kinesthetic essence, of how the land of wild mountains, calm and composed people, and mind- fortresses of neutrality and containment felt in the dark. It felt dangerous, a bit nauseating and pretty darn dizzying, if you allow me to be frank with you. Quite the opposite to the picture-perfect daylight vistas of the picturesque Swiss mountains. Thinking back of these impressions, two quotes by Swiss genius and founder of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung spring to mind:
“I´d rather be whole than good”
“Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.”
Jung points to wholeness as a more whole-some thing to aspire to, or rather, reconnect back to, than to try and live up to the always-out-of-reach concept of the consistently “good girl” or “good boy”, of living up to external expectations instead of connecting to our own truths. And wholeness does include our light parts, and our shadow parts – which might, ultimately, also just be disguises for more light, beckoning us to embrace all of ourselves, all of our flawed-yet-perfect humanness on our journey through life.
Oopsie, drifting of! Well, that´s what the land that marked Jung, Einstein, and Hermann Hesse, one of my favorite German-speaking writers, can do to you.
Geneva night impressions and Mary Poppins soundscapes
240 minutes of dizzying mind-roulette and dark mountain-silhouettes later, and we found ourselves in Geneva, the second-most populous city in Switzerland. The pointers of the Swiss clock at the nearby train station showed exactly 3:30 AM in the morning. The streets of central Geneva were eeriliy quiet.
Just a few dubious looking men were roaming the streets looking for solace. Or maybe something else starting with S. To sum things up, I was more than happy to reach our hostel for the night: A teeny tiny itsy-bitsy apartment on the fifth floor with a view over the rooftops of Geneva. The quaint views reminded me strongly of the chimney-sweeper-dance in beloved movie “Mary Poppins“, and so I fell into a short yet deep slumber with sounds of Chim-Chimney resounding sweetly in my mind and soul…
…Until the Swiss alarm-clock shrilled me out of my dreams in a rather strict “Common, be-a-good-grown-up-now–just-like-the-Swiss“- manner.
We checked out of our teeny-tiny place (I knoooow, damn short stay!!) and went off to explore Geneva, known as worldwide center for diplomacy and host of the globally highest number of international organizations.
Find out why Lake Geneva seemed to have a Caribbean flavor to it, how I ended up in the middle of the French Alps with no clue as to where I was during a looong night, and which French town is a well-kept secret paradise that wows like no other in the next post 🙂
Back to you, dear reader: Have you ever been to Switzerland and if so, what were the highlights of your visit? If you haven´t been – what´s the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of this country? Random answers are more than welcome, too 😉 As always, I would love to hear from you!
Healing tip: I officially declare this a healing and inspirational zone. Let´s focus on topics that feed the soul. From now on, I encourage lovely beings who wanna keep mentioning CV to reframe the very charged word into carrot cake 😛 Thank you!
Also: Check out this GORGEOUS meditation by Self-compassion guru Dr. Kristin Neff to increase self-compassion and compassion. A wonderful tool:)
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The ocean is so clear and its waters unbelievably pristine, the turquoise sky seems to merge with your notions of awe and wonder. You feel transported to a blissful cloud, feeling incredibly alive and vibrant, yet relaxed at the same time. You are also feeling increasingly curious as to what´s about to come while strolling along Coral Bay Beach towards your destination. You love the sensation of the grains of sand cheekily tickling your toes and the warm rays of sunshine recharging you gently and lovingly.
Suddenly, something very unusual catches your attention and beckons you to step into the transparent waters. You rub your eyes incredulously, as the scenes unfolding in front of you seem to emerge right from a vision of peace. Walking closer through the refreshingly cool ocean waters, you deeply inhale the deliciously salty sea air and soon find yourself amid a swarm of huge, wild salmon!
Coral Bay Beach: Salmon sensations on sandy grounds
Their skin glistens in the sun-lights reflection, their large bodies glide elegantly through the translucent waters. Your jaw drops in awe as you become aware that there are dozens of these marvelous creatures all around you. Are you in a freaking David Attenborough-documentary? Most likely. Ok, so where IS David Attenborough then? You really want to meet him! Or was that me? Oops sorry, got confused. Anyways, back to that stellar salmon-meet-and-greet.
You feel the cool skin of multiple salmon against your legs while your toes slowly sink into the sand, and while you enjoy the refreshing waters gently embracing your thighs, a thought crosses your mind. Didn´t you book that ocean-kayaking-tour in for today? Yep, you most certainly did, and it was about high tide (dad-joke-pun intended) to get yourself there on time!
Venturing onto the Indian Ocean: Honoring dreams of Indiana Jones
Twenty minutes later, and it´s time to join a group of excited looking fellow explorers right on a quiet corner of Coral Bay Beach. Most importantly, there is also a marine biologist who who will be your guide on the pending journey. He emanates a certain effortless Australian surfer-cool: With his long blond wavy hair, steel-blue eyes and his welcoming and relaxed body language, he seems to have sprung straight out of a picture-book about Australia or alternatively an ad from Down Under´s tourism office. He explains the basic premises and instructions of our journey onto and into the Indian Ocean in a mellow, gentle, yet self-assured and confident tone of voice that resembles the waves he loves to immerse himself in.
Another ten minutes later, and you are all dressed up in your tight fitting black wetsuit and ready to get into the bright yellow kayak that is waiting for you on the shoreline. You feel pretty confident even though you were like five years young the last time you were in a kayak. Can´t be that hard, right? You smile to yourself while trying to paddle this kayak-thing AND hold the fancy GoPro camera at the same time that the relaxed marine biologist-dude just handed out.
Piece of cake! This seems to be working just right, you say to yourself – paddle left…paddle right…let´s give this Go Pro a go and try to capture this adventure, you think to yourself. Paddle on…Oh F/ Funnyions!! The kayak is suddenly resisting your boss-like ways of steering it onto the dark blue waters that are enchantingly glistening in the sun.
Indian Ocean Kayak shenanigans: Daring to dive in
The kayak does seem to get all hot and bothered with you and just decides to throw a full-blown tantrum which translates into you being thrown into the icy cold waters. Thank God for the wetsuit is your last thought before hitting the water´s surface. Eek! You let out a panic-stricken shriek as the realization hits you that – this wetsuit is pretty bloody crap. Pardon my French, ahem, Aussie English.
Freezing cold water quickly engulfs you and makes you shiver, but you are determined to brave the amused laughter of the group and get the kayak situation sorted. With your strength of will, you manage to get yourself “back in the saddle” in a heartbeat. As the group and you paddle further out onto the Indian Ocean, the marine biologist casually informs you about the different species of sharks roaming these watery regions. Oops, you could have done your research!
You gaze towards the very relaxed looking marine biologist and assess that you are in safe and capable hands. Your own, that is! So when this Australian dreamy ocean guide encourages you to hop into the sea, you dare to just do it. You dive under the surface and take some deep breaths through your pretty pink snorkel gear (open up your possibilities guys, pink looks pretty on you, too!). Soon you start to feel bloody cold mate, but you also start loving that feeling of profound stillness all around you. It´s all so very deep, calm, and peaceful. Like a church visit with no one else around, or a solitary walk under a star-lit night sky.
Indian Ocean: Under the sea, it´s bloody better, down where it´s wetter, take it from me
Swarms of colorful fish pass you by, generously accepting you as a visitor in their coral home. Suddenly, a giant brownish colored fish, really basically the size of a smart car, appears in your field of vision. Your jaw wants to drop, but you, fortunately, remember that you are right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Ok, a little icy seawater gets into your mouth. Ah well, nobody´s perfect. Back to that enormous fish – it still hangs out in your vicinity for a while, its skin glistening fascinatingly in different hues of brown and grey and shining a bit of sparkly light into the dark blue ocean waters.
What a sight to behold! Through your underwater-goggles, you keep taking in every last detail of that deep-blue-water-bliss-experience, until the marine biologist signals that there are gummy sharks nearby. Do you swim closer? A little! Do you get to see the shark? Yes, you do. And you still have all your limbs! Definite win-win. Also, is it a Jaws- type- shark? No! Those Jaws-type- sharks are, for the most part, mere figments of your imagination. Sharkys do deserve our respect, and they can be very sweet and gentle. Don´t believe the narrator of this story? Please check out this video and prepare to be dazzled!
Coral Bay does have even more amazingness in-store, by the way. Just have a look at THAT scenery. I took these pictures for my former Yoga business by the way… no I don´t go everywhere Yoga-posing 😛 Would be a bit annoying right? 😛
Back to you, dear reader:
Have you ever had a memorable underwater-adventure of your own? Feel free to answer in the comment section – I would love to hear from you! Stay wild, well, and curious my friends!
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The wisdom is already there. It always was. It´s only been buried deep within, hidden in plain sight by avalanches of information, opinions, and thought-streams… I must have dozed off, and met Yoda in my dreams. Or, maybe, the words belong to Capes, whom I am gonna meet later? In any case, a glance on the mobile phone is indicating that getting a move on is the adequate thing to do now. Siesta nap time officially over, Indigenous Australian adventures are a go!
After a short van-ride from our hostel, we arrive at our destination. Through the window, I catch a first glimpse of who would be our guide for the next hours. Can you recognize charisma from afar? I don´t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that Darren “Capes” Capeswell is a pretty charismatic fella.
Tales by Capes: Enchanted by Indigenous Australian traditions
A big, broad smile, a strong, yet not brutally domineering handshake, and an unmistakable aura of undeniable authority surrounding him make me feel excited and intrigued as to what´s about to come. Mentioned in the Lonely Planet Australia travel guide book as well as other notable travel publications, Capes from Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures surely knows how to draw you in. The time we spend learning from him about all kinds of local “bushtucker” while taking a walk through the dunes close to the Indian Ocean is truly time well spent.
What the hell is bushtucker, you might ask? Sounds kinda weird. Well, the Aussies have a penchant for unusual/ cute/ very specific terms, and bushtucker is just one of them. Bushtucker is…. drumroll, kangaroos jumping out of a hat, sharks waving goodbye to sexy surfers, sounds of Waltzing Matilda emerging from nowhere… (did I get every Aussie cliche right here? Feel free to add some in the comments :P) …
Back to the question at hand: Bushtucker is bushfood, so any food native to Australia and originally used by Indigenous Australians. It can serve culinary as well as medicinal purposes, as Capes explains to us while we explore the bushland close to Little Lagoon and Monkey Mia. He then continues on to lead us to a stunning location – a tranquil setting by the beach, where everything is set up for a campfire.
An evening by the bay: Aboriginal sound-magic for him and her
Is it romantic? You bet it is! The sun is setting over the Indian Ocean, painting the sky in all hues of rose, dark orange and purple, while our group of six gathers around the fireplace, ready for some more fascinating insights into the original Indigenous Australian way of life. One of the many intriguing things we learn from Capes is that…hold on to your horses, ahem koalas…that the world-famous musical instrument didgeridoo is actually not supposed to be played by women! They play huge shells instead.
Huge, maybe even basketball sized shells? Thats right. It´s quite a distinct experience to give this a shot – feeling the cool yet sharp features of the shell against your lips, while the fresh night-air is caressing your skin. And – it´s at least as bloody hard to get a sound out of that mysterious shell than it is to entice the didge to let loose and play along to your own intended song. But – don´t take my word for it, give it a crack yourself next time you come across a massive shell!
Welcome to Gutharraguda-ways
We spend some more time in Capes charming company, whose cultural heritage is partly Malgana, partly Nhanda, and learn some Indigenous Australian vocabulary specific to the original landowners of Shark Bay. Did you know that Shark Bay is called Gutharraguda, meaning “two bays” in Malgana? Malgana is in fact only one of the three Aboriginal language groups spoken in Shark Bark, the traditional country of the three Aboriginal language groups Malgana, Nhanda and Yingkarta.
There are about 130 registered Aboriginal heritage sites in the Shark Bay area alone, so make sure to explore and honor the powerful roots of this ancient and very special part of Down Under so that you may get to experience the enchantment that only members of the world´s oldest living civilization can transmit. After all that quality Aboriginal-and-nature-exploration, it is time to let the myriad of new impressions sink in and head hostel-home. The next morning would lead us to an up north paradise, after all!
Wild Wild Western ways: Cranky kookaburras, cool kangaroos, and chilled-out cows
Fast forward around 10 hours and 556 kilometres on the road, including an interesting stop at a subtropical banana plantation in Carnavaron, the so-called fruit bowl of Western Australia, and we arrive at our final road trip destination on Australia´s stunning Coral Coast. On this last leg of our road trip adventure, we have witnessed the distances between towns getting bigger and bigger and we have listened to the shrieking sounds of Kookaburra-birds and parrots. We have also been witness to more and more roos (kangaroos) as well as cows greeting us with their stoic demeanour, and sometimes taking their sweet time while crossing our road-path, gifting us with some moments to take it all in and adapt to a natural, slower pace of life.
It´s also been intriguing to observe the land around us slowly but surely reflecting the transformation from a mediterranean to a tropical climate zone with all the changes in vegetation that that entails. Endless seeming roads have led us past tiny towns, and past the vast, rough red outback to our right, and the equally immense and powerful Indian Ocean to our left.
Arriving at our final destination: Camping allures in Coral Bay
But that´s all done and dusted now, as I whisper G´day, Ningaloo Marine Park, while stepping out of the van, already feeling like a part-time-Aussie. We are not alone anymore, as camper vans upon camper vans stretching out in front of us indicate. You could almost say that Coral Bay is a unique melange of camper-van-village meets ocean paradise!
Camping sites in Coral Bay are so popular that they are often booked out for months in advance. For the most part, they are populated by massive camper vans, or rather full-on camper castles. Many of them are inhabited by incredibly lucky pensioners, who get to meander along pure-piece-of-paradise-Coral-Bay-beach every day, saying hello to wild salmon and sea turtles passing them by and immersing themselves in a piece of barely touched nature-heaven.
If your definition of paradise includes wild and friendly animals approaching you of their own accord, pristine air, crystal clear ocean waters, unbelievably fine white sand, and loads of that gorgeousness all to yourself – then Coral Bay is gonna make you think you have passed on and have arrived right in heaven city.
Could that paradise include sharks? And fish the size of a small car? And a myriad of adventures yet to be told? Yes, yes, and yes. Come join me another time, when we get to venture out onto, and yep, right into the ocean with a very chilled marine biologist, and get to discover what exactly makes Ningaloo Marine Park and Coral Bay so out-of-this-world-mindblowing. You won´t regret it. Pinky promise!
Healing tip: To protect our amazing oceans and help reduce our plastic waste, here are two action-steps you can take to reduce plastic in your life:
1. Get your groceries from farmers markets or farmers nearby, which means no plastic packaging, and usually way healthier food for you, so it´s a win-win.
2. Buy as little plastic-products as possible – it´s a challenge, but what a great challenge to take! You might feel inspired by the Zero Waste Lifestyle. Great first steps to take are bringing a reusable cup to coffee-shops and bringing your own bags to do shopping.
Back to you, dear reader: Are there any hidden beach-gems in your country that you could share with us? And who are your country´s Indigenous people/ tribes? As always, would love to hear from you! Also, feel free to get a copy of my latest e-book “How to feel at home while traveling” here, if you haven´t already. It might just make your next trip that little bit sweeter/ more sensual and relaxed 🙂
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Traveler, Writer, Journalist, Translator, Language and Yoga teacher, Cultural Scientist. The author of "Speak in Spanish- Fun and motivation on your learning journey" as well as the multicultural novel "Von Fischbrötchen, Sangrianächten und Chaoswelten". Love animals, the arts, laughter, traveling through inner and outer worlds, the healing arts.
Weltenbummlerin. Reisende in inneren wie in äusseren Welten – in Gedanken, Büchern, Filmen, Meditationen, im Schreiben – sowie in fremden Ländern und Kulturen.