Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Making Up Stories About Unknown People

I love to commute to work by bus. I love it because these 15 minutes are just for me. I don't get this feeling while commuting by train - no idea why! I sit in the bus and I simply am. No music, no newspaper, no mobile phone for me. I sit and do people watching. Every morning and evening, I feel like sitting in a café on an Italian Piazza - without the cappuccino or the white wine (depending on the hour of the day obviously SMILE).

Some people catch my eye.
Like this grandma who gets on the bus (every morning) on a particular stop and gets out three stops later. She never sits down (even though she must be at least 70). Some days she wears some sporty outfit with a backpack. Other days she is more elegant with a nice bag. Always these two outfits. What caught my eye though is that she gets off on a stop where ... there is nothing much besides a cultural centre. Where usually the hipper people get off and on - especially when there is a concert. So, I watch her get off the bus - one day with the backpack, the other with her old lady handbag - and I start wondering:
Who is she?
Why does she always wear the same two outfits?
Why does she get off on this stop ... where there is (apparently) nothing for someone her age?
And there I go, making up stories in my head...

Then there is this gentleman I see every day when I get off the bus at my stop. He usually crosses the street just at the bus stop. He caught my eye ... because he wears a cowboy hat! Imagine! A cowboy amongst all these business people. Surreal.
And there I go, in my head, asking more questions. And making up stories.

One thing is for sure: my every morning commute is never dull!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meeting People

The more I travel alone, the better I get at talking to unknown people.
During my first couple of trips alone, I rarely spoke to people. I found that I have changed lately. I talk to people all the time now and I am amazed at what they tell me!

Like last Saturday, while having lunch in a restaurant on Insel Reichenau.
The restaurant was well occupied (rare rays of sunshine made everybody want to sit on the patio) and that is why a lady asked if the other five seats were taken (no small tables at the place).
I had barely time to answer that I didn't mind, when she was already sitting on the chair, explaining that she was hungry! We got into talking and there she went, complaining about the Alemannic people of the region, being lazy and uncordial. She being from Köln (Germany as well, mind you!) - well, a totally different story, obviously. People up north (?) knew what real work meant and were friendly and blah blah blah.
Prejudices about people from the south vs. people from the north  - same same for all countries it seems (sometimes is west vs. east though)!
I listened, smiled (wasn't going to go there on my day off!) and continued to enjoy my fish and salad.

A couple of minutes later, another woman wanted to sit at our table (the place was crowded by then!). We didn't mind obviously.
This lady was Austrian. I could tell from the look in her eyes that this lady was dying to tell us a story! She was on a pilgrimage around the southern part of Germany (with a group of elderly ladies and gents, accompanied by a priest). Apparently, just the day before, the priest announced, during a mass he held in the local church, that he had decided not only to quit the tourist party (with immediate effect) ... but the Catholic church altogether! He wanted to start over. Rumors were that he fell in love but the lady on our table didn't want to get into such kind of bad gossip (her eyes told another story but I wasn't going to call her a liar!). So she went on and on about this story while I continued enjoying my meal, smiling and nodding. Not wanting to go there either. I have to admit that the story was wonderful though. Amazing even. Bordering on being unbelievable. It for sure made for an entertaining meal :-)

And the fish was delicious!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Great Affair is to Move

...the great affair is to move!
Literally and figuratively - let's go into the "literal" part right now.
On Saturday, while sitting on the deck of the boat that brought me from Constance to Schaffhausen,  Stevenson's words came to my mind.
The great affair is to move.
I totally agree with him.
The great affair IS to move - at least it is for me.
I like to visit new places, you know that, but what I most like about this "moving thing" is that it clears my head. Totally so. This is especially true when I travel alone. I usually move from A to B (in a train or boat, by foot or by car - it doesn't matter) and think about everything and at the same time about nothing. It's like a meditation. Thoughts come and go and once I get home, even if I'm tired because I walked a lot or got up early, I feel good. Really good.
So, let's keep moving my friends!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Boat trip: Constance to Schaffhausen

No sunshine. Again. Like most days during this weather-wise bizarre summer. The weather forecast though had said: no rain. So I decided to go anyway :-)
It stayed mostly cloudly (a few rays of sunshine made their way through the clouds nevertheless!) but no rain. And sitting on the ship's deck I got cold rather quickly - but I loved it anyway. And sitting on a ship's deck is one of my favorite ways to travel!The boat took me from Constance to Schaffhausen, stopover at Insel Reichenau.
Here some impressions:

gray in gray

highest point on Insel Reichenau (die Hochwart): 440 meters above sea level :-) The view wasn't that great ... Insel Reichenau is known for its fruits and vegetables and therefore one gets to see a lot of farmed fields!

Our World ... is Grim

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wise Words


Are you good at taking decisions?

I am, usually. I have noticed though that recently I take more time before I take them. When it feels right, then I take them in a heartbeat. Like the idea with the Hong Kong and Angkor Wat trip. Thought about it and there I was, talking to the guy of the travel agency, booking our tickets. The whole thing took a couple of days only because my friend had to wait on her boss to give the OK for a two weeks vacation :-)
Other decisions take more time. An idea comes up or someone is asking me for a favor and I don't feel "it" right away. I listen to what my heart has to say and sometimes it yells: wait!! And then I do wait. And sleep over it. Once. Twice. As long as it takes. Until "it" feels good and I can go ahead. Doing it ... or not.

Back when I was younger I didn't have the patience to wait. Everything needed to be done quickly and immediately. The perks of getting older are, amongst others, becoming wiser :-) And more patient :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Angkor Wat ... and Hong Kong

I did it! I really did it! I booked myself (and a friend of mine) tickets to Hong Kong and tickets to Angkor Wat.
Isn't that wonderful?
I am totally excited. So totally excited. A dream come true - especially true for Angkor Wat.
It had been on my list for like ages and now the time has come.
We go there in November (in the off-peak season). Here our plans. We'll fly to Hongkong first and stay there three days. Then we fly to Siem Reap and stay there for another 5 1/2 days (which gives us enough time to thorougly walk the temples of Angkor Wat and maybe visit other places all around Siem Reap like the landmine museum for ex.).

Seeing Angkor Wat is a dream of mine. Has been for years. I am totally excited (I had said that already, right) about going. So totally excited.

OK, I'll stop now. You'll accompany me (in a virtual way) in November when I'll telling about my adventures and post my pictures (that I will take with my new camera!!). Isn't that exciting? Yes, I know, I know, I shut up now :-)

picture found on Pinterest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words Of Wisdom

Rainy Days

Summer hasn't been nice over here - at least weather-wise. I'd go so far as to say it has been depressing. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. We rarely had two nice and sunny days in a row. Like I said: it's depressing. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. Whereas August should be about hot days and balmy evenings, what did we get this year though? Just rain, rain, rain and more rain.
I really could get depressed.
What to do?
Thinking about about some new trips I could take.

Like a day trip (by boat and train) to the island of Reichenau (on the "Untersee" of Lake Constance) to visit the three Romanic churches and to walk all around the island.

Then, in September, I could go on a short trip to Strassbourg. Haven't been to France in a long time!

Last but not least, there is this ongoing wish to visit Angkor Wat. And then this idea to go to Hongkong. Wouldn't that be a wonderful trip? A couple of days discovering Hongkong and another few to walk along the temples of Angkor Wat. November would be the perfect time. It has been on my list for so long and now, I believe, has come the time to really visit. I have asked a friend of mine if she wanted to accompany me. She is waiting now for her boss to give the OK for some days off from work, therefore, I'll keep you updated! And please keep your fingers crossed :-)

I feel better. Much better. Just the idea of traveling again, being on the move again, gets me over every rainy summer day

Monday, August 11, 2014

Life Lessons

Every three weeks I'm volunteering at the nursing home, answering every kind of e-related questions.
On Saturday, I introduced a very nice lady to the wonders of Google Maps. Let's call her Lady A. You should have been there. She didn't know this existed and she got totally excited about it! Her eyes were sparkling with joy as she told me that this would sooo facilitate her organizing hiking trips! So suddenly we were into what I most like in life: organizing trips SMILE. She told me that she wanted to hike to Lago Ritom (near Airolo). I had never heard of this lake and it was enriching for me to get to know something new. Not that I will ever hike there - I am no aficionada of mountains!

At some point another lady joined us (I'll call her Lady B) and wanted to know all about Google Maps as well. Lady A and Lady B (both way in their seventies I found out) and myself started talking about hiking trips and other kind of trips. About homesickness (that is why Lady A can't travel far away - she gets homesick!). About tight travel budgets (Lady B's issue). And about my next trip.
At some point, Lady A, suggested that we continue our conversation in the café on the first floor. When I said that it was closed (like every Saturday morning) she suggested having lunch at the cafeteria of the elderly home, which is open to people from the outside, against payment obviously. (I forgot to mention that both ladies do not live in this nursing home. The computer corner is open to everybody who lives in the neighborhood!) Lady A had seen that today's menu was boiled beef and she loved boiled beef and never made some at home, just for herself. I said thanks but no thanks as boiled beef is NOT my favorite meal. Lady B's eyes though got all misty but she declared, reluctantly, that she didn't have the money to eat in a restaurant.
Guess what Lady A answered?
It would be a pleasure for me to invite you!
It left me speechless and brought tears to Lady B's eyes who said no at first (even though her eyes shouted yes!) but then agreed to accept the invitation when I insisted that sometimes one just had to say thank you and accept someone else's generosity.

You know, these senior citizen keep surprising me. Of course many are sick and suffer from mental illnesses and it's often sad and depressing. But then there are the others. Those who keep fit. Mentally and physically. They are not afraid of going new ways, trying out new stuff, go hiking, go traveling and are being generous and spontaneous (like Lady A!) with those who are not as lucky as they are (and sadly enough, I find out that poverty amongst our elders is quite common).

I teach them tips and tricks on the computer.
They teach me about life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day Trip: Conclusion

I don't need to add any additional words, do I? The pictures said it all. It was a wonderful day :-) I'm planning on doing more such day trips - they do me good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day Trip, Part II: Insel Mainau

There is a Butterfly House on the island. A wonderful place. Unfortunately it was totally crowded so I didn't get to savor the experience - people pushing from all sides, all the time - no time just to stand there and let the butterflies come to you... Well, I will have to return, won't I?
Check out this guy, though.
Its wings were green - when closed.

To my astonishment the inner part - when opened - was black / turquoise. Isn't nature wonderful?

Day Trip, Part II: Insel Mainau

I tend to forget that three countries "share" the Lake of Constance: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And every country has its own ferrys ... well identified :-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day Trip, Part II: Insel Mainau

Insel Mainau is also known as "Blumeninsel" (Flower Island). A wonderful place. I spent two hours walking the gardens, marveling at the flowers and just enjoying it! A total pleasure to the eye!

PS: By the way, these pictures were taken with my new photo camera. I am still a bit unsure about it, don't know the finesses yet but I think it takes pretty nice photos, doesn't it?

Day Trip, Part I: Meersburg

Aren't these cute?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day Trip, Part I: Meersburg

People had told me that Meersburg was ... enchanting but I honestly thought they were a bit exaggerating. Well, they weren't. At all. It's an enchanting little town. I had breakfast by the lake and started walking around (up and down actually, as the town castle was built up the hill!). The place got really packed by 1.30 pm (when I took the ferry to Insel Mainau) but in the morning I had most places mainly to myself.

view from ferry

Day Trip, Part I: Meersburg (on Lake Costance)

To fully benefit from my day off, I had decided to take the first train to Constance in order to catch the first ferry to Meersburg (on the other side of the lake).
Well, that meant that I had to get up at ... 5 am! I don't even get up at 5 when I go to work and therefore I had never seen the sunrise from my appartment hahahaha Wonderful though, don't you think?

I came home around 8 pm and was in bed by 10 pm (I hardly made it to 10 pm - I could hardly keep my eyes open!). It started raining later in the night. Here the clouds I saw ... before closing down :-) Tired but oh so happy :-)


Day Trip to Meersburg and Insel Mainau on Lake Constance (Germany)

Beppe Severgnini in his latest book "La vita è un viaggio" (Life is a journey) at some point writes:

"Una persona singola, su un treno o in un ristorante, osserva e deduce.
Una persona in compagnia si gode la compagnia"

A single person on a train or in a restaurant observes and deduces.
A person accompanied by someone else enjoys the companionship.

In this particular chapter he was telling about how important it was to travel alone. Reading the words made me realize that I hadn't gone on a trip by myself for some time now and that made me want to actually go on a trip all alone. These days I don't have much time to go on trips (on weeksends I am pretty tired, working two jobs!). But August 1st was a national holiday in Switzerland (meaning: the office was closed!) and that gave me one extra day! Even the weather was on my side (with all the rain we had during July I was afraid that it would be raining again but it wasn't!!). So I spent a day on Lake Constance.
A wonderful day!
And I remembered how nice it is to travel alone. I love to travel with other people but traveling alone gives me a particular energy!

Our World ... is Celestial