It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Taking Your Pillow?

Am I Missing Something? 

Sorry for the delay in blog posts!  We've been travelling in the UK for Christmas with family and friends and I thought I'd try blogging from the iPad, but it didn't quite work out the way I thought it would!  I can't figure out how to put photos in when using the iPad, so I let it slide - sorry!

Anyway, we got home yesterday and it's lovely to be back.  We did two flights to get home and I saw several people boarding long haul flights with their bed pillow under their arm.  I've seen this for years and have always thought that it must be first time flyers who don't know that economy seats on planes are just about big enough for a person (a small person), but not a person and a bed pillow.  But then I started to think that maybe it's me that's missing something.

Maybe these people are experienced flyers and taking their bed pillow onto the plane helps them sleep.  Maybe I should be taking my bed pillow, and it'll help me sleep during a 12 hour flight in economy when I'm sitting up in a space designed for a 4 foot high anorexic who likes to be wedged into a tightly packed plane, jostling for space with strangers.

Do any of you travel with your bed pillow on a plane?  Does it help you sleep?  I'm talking about a full sized bed pillow here, not a little travel pillow, or one of those U-shaped neck pillows.

Flying in Economy - what airlines would like you to believe.

Flying in Economy - the reality.

And today?  After I deal with mountains of dirty laundry, walk the beast, stock up with groceries and ponder what I'm cooking for dinner with friends tomorrow night on New Years Eve (or "Silvester" as it's known here), I'll be writing some blog posts about our recent travels.  You'll hear all about the "Meat Fruit" at Heston Blumenthal's Dinner etc.  Meat Fruit?  Absolutely glorious.  Nom nom nom.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dog Walking Check List

Archie in his element, playing in the Lake and getting filthy.

You all know we've got a 35kg lump of brown haired dog that is thoroughly spoilt by us.  His name is Archie and we do adore him.  He's incredibly cheeky and his intelligence level swings wildly between being astonishingly thick and obviously gifted.  He gets at least two long walks a day, and we're lucky enough to live in a place that's just perfect for dogs - lots of forest, dirt roads and surrounded by water.  He can run free and play with all of his dog friends and honestly, he's got to be the luckiest dog in Germany.

It's winter here and because it's cold and wet, there's a bunch of stuff I have to get organised before we walk out the door, so here's my mental check list of what gets done:-

  • If it's raining or snowing (I wish!) I wear my Drizabone jacket and waterproof baseball cap with ear flaps.
  • If it's not raining then I just wear a parka or polar fleece and maybe a knitted beanie hat if it's really cold.  I was just given a glorious pair of Ugg sheep skin ear muffs (thanks Elke1!), so am waiting until it's cold enough to wear those.
  • Winter boots on (my Dublin riding boots are perfect, though the left one has just sprung a leak).
  • Scarf on.
  • Spare dog poop bags in pocket.
  • Snausages (dog treats) in my pocket.
  • House key in pocket.
  • iPhone in pocket in case of emergency (or to play Words with Friends whilst the dog swims).
  • Choke chain on dog (which makes no difference whatsoever to his pulling - he seems to have a very thick, strong neck).
  • Collar with registration disks on dog.
  • Lead on dog.
  • If it's dark, reflective collar on dog.
  • Put on my gloves.

And then, and only then, can we go.  And, of course, I have to take it all off again when we come back, and put it all on again when we go out for the afternoon walk.

Why can't we have one of those dogs that's just happy amusing himself in the back yard?  Oh, and Archie's latest favourite food?  Bananas.  Really.  He's a freak.

Gorillas in the Mist?  No, Furbags in the Fog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ellie Goulding Concert

With my new BFF, Ellie Goulding.  Oh no!  Am I about to spill my watermelon daiquiri?

We had tickets to an intimate concert with Ellie Goulding at the W in Barcelona on the Saturday night, and she and her band were in the lobby of the W, checking in at the same time we were.  They were allocated rooms on the same floor as us, and we were thrilled to discover we'd been upgraded to a corner  suite with floor to ceiling glass looking out over the ocean - lush!  We even had a huge bath tub in the middle of the bedroom, looking out on those great views.

Our suite, from the bath tub!

We had a very lazy afternoon with the UK papers in the chic restaurant, then mooching around in our lovely suite, before getting ready and heading downstairs for a drink or two.  At 8pm we swapped our invitation for VIP laminate passes and were shown into an ante-room filled with lovely nibblies and a free cocktail bar - yay!

At 9pm we moved into the concert room with about 100 other people.  It was a really chilled out space, with staff running in and out delivering bean bags, poufs and cushions.  Everyone arranged themselves around the place and then Ellie and her band arrived.

Ellie did a set of about 10 songs and everyone really enjoyed it.  She was very interactive with the crowd and her music is so easy to like.  For those of you that don't know her so well, she sang at the wedding reception of Wills & Kate this year, and has won a Brit award.  Her version of Elton John's "Your Song" is quite lovely.

Ellie Goulding, "Your Song"

After the concert we could use our laminates to jump to the front of the line and scoot into the express lift up to the nightclub on the 26th floor.  Those who know me well know that the words "nightclub" and "Kristy" don't really go together, but even I've got to admit it was pretty cool to be ushered behind the VIP ropes and to meet (and have my photo taken) with Ellie whilst I slurped my cocktail.

We had a fabulous time and got back to the room quite late, which wasn't one of our best ideas considering we had a 4.30am wake up call to get to the airport in time for our flight home!

So, Ellie Goulding?  Fabulous.  Barcelona?  Great!  We'll definitely be back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Apologies for the delay on my promised Barcelona post - I've had a bad case of writers block!  Not sure I'm 100% over it, but here goes ...

We flew out to Barcelona from Zurich on Thursday 1st December, arriving without drama around 7pm.  Picked up our bags (oh, the luxury of having check-in luggage - no Ryanair this time!) and grabbed a taxi to our hotel, Le Meridien on La Rambla.  We were given a lovely room and I after settling in I was starving (no surprises there!).  We headed down to the hotel restaurant around 9pm, which I discovered is very early to eat in Barcelona.  There were a few early birds having their dinner and we enjoyed ours with a bottle of Spanish red and headed off to bed.

Las Ramblas

Hubby had to work in the Barcelona office on Friday, so I got organised and headed out onto Las Ramblas to find some breakfast (hello Starbucks, how I've missed you!) and try to figure out what's what on my map (and we all know how well I can read maps ...).  Over a large cappucino I worked out that I needed to head down to Paseo de Gracia for some Christmas shopping.  It seemed to be within walking distance, so I walked back up the Ramblas, past the ice rink that they'd set up for Christmas skating in the main square and into Paseo de Gracia.

Paseo de Gracia

Had a great few hours shopping my way along the Gracia, and was careful to watch my handbag and phone.  I'd been warned by lots of friends about bag snatching and mugging, so I was on alert, but luckily I saw nothing unusual.  I'd been careful to pack a non-descript, over the body bag (my good old dark green Mulberry) so I could have my hands free.  I did see a few dodgy people and was offered flowers by some gypsy women, but I just smiled and kept on walking.  I found out that the big expensive stores put your purchases into their posh shopping bags and then put the whole lot into plain white shopping bags and staple the top of the bags closed - all designed to make things a little less obvious to the bag snatchers.

Headed back to the hotel to drop off my goodies and then had some lunch on the Ramblas.  Decided I'd take the easy option for the afternoon and bought a ticket on one of those big red "hop on, hop off" double decker busses.  The weather was lovely and warm (well, warm for me coming from 3c) at 19c, so I snagged the front seat on the top deck and enjoyed the next 2.5 hours being driven around the lovely city of Barcelona.  We headed to Montjuic, then down to the harbour, all via very circuitous routes, whilst I enjoyed the scenery and the sunshine.


That night we had a restaurant booking at Montiel, which I've previously blogged about, and we had a fantastic time.  On Saturday morning we headed out on foot to find Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, and ended up on the subway after being steered hopelessly off track by the satnav on Paul's phone.

Sagrada Familia

We joined the long line for tickets, which was moving quite quickly, and got our tickets and moved inside.  It really is just an incredibly fascinating building, and would have been much more atmospheric if people had actually been following the signs for "SILENCE" instead of prattling away and letting their kids run around shouting.  Seriously people, it's a CHURCH!  Okay, got that off my chest ...

There was a fabulous gallery off to one side showing Gaudi's thinking and building ideas.  He based as much of the structure on the natural world as possible, with spires being fashioned as giant Lavender heads and many tiles being created showing the lovely yellow flowers that grew on the site when he first visited.  Natural shapes and curves fascinated Gaudi, and the stretching and flexing of natural lines is very evident.

We headed back to the hotel to check out and move to our new hotel, the glorious W Barcelona, on the waterfront, where we had a special invitation to attend an intimate concert with the lovely Ellie Goulding that evening - and that will be my next post ...

W Barcelona

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Radolfzell Weihnachtsmarkt

Though we were in Barcelona for a long weekend, we were home in time to visit the last night of our local Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) on Sunday.

Now, this is the third Christmas season we will have spent in Rado - where has the time gone?  Time certainly does fly.

The first two Christmas Markets were snow covered, and you walked through the stalls with snowflakes on your nose, clutching your mug of Gluhwein in your gloved hands - trying to keep warm.  Last night?  Not so much.  Someone with some sort of pull has obviously read my blog on the constant grey and boring weather in Rado, and last night there was gale force wind and it was about 11c!

It was so windy that stall holders were packing up early and the remaining ones were leaning against the walls of their stalls, trying to hold them to the ground before they swirled off into the heavens.

We were exhausted after a fab weekend in Barca, but grabbed two mugs of Gluhwein and they were so good.  This year they seemed to be fortified with shots of apple schnapps before being topped off with Gluhwein - yum!

We walked around and checked out all the stalls and then decided that we'd go and visit our friend Kitty at her lovely restaurant, Royal Thai, for our dinner before heading home to collapse into bed for a very early night.

Wonder what the weather will be doing next year for the Weihnachtsmarkt?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Restaurant Review : Montiel, Barcelona (Part 2!)

Sorry folks, for some reason (maybe I pressed the wrong button) my previous post on Montiel was published before I was finished with it - oops!

Anyway, I went on to say that hubby had the salmon tartare to start which was lovely and fresh, and then had the suckling pig for main.  The suckling pig was so tender that you could cut it with a spoon, but it still had the thin crispy, salty skin that makes it so wonderful.

The dessert list looked great, but we were too full to fit anything in, and after we'd finished our lovely bottle of Spanish red wine and had paid the bill, our friendly waiter walked us to the corner and pointed out the taxi rank on the next block.  It was so much closer than the distance we'd had to walk to get there!  Just goes to show what happens when you turn left instead of right.

I'll be doing a review on TripAdvisor, but I can't imagine it'll be different to what's here.  Montiel is a great restaurant, well worthy of a visit, and the prices weren't at all crazy for such amazing food.  They also do a multi course tasting menu with a wine pairing - very reasonably priced.

Montiel Espai Gastronomic
Flassaders 19 - Born
08003 Barcelona

Oh, and not sure if it was in the previous post or not, but you can make a reservation on their website.  It's simple and quick and you get a confirmation immediately.  Easy peasy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Restaurant Review : Montiel, Barcelona

We had a fantastic weekend in Barcelona and, as usual, I tried to do some homework on TripAdvisor before we left home.  I tried to get a booking at Cinc Sentits after a good recommendation by Jim and great reviews on TripAdvisor, but they were booked out.  TripAdvisor suggested Montiel and I managed to secure a reservation.  Montiel is in the top 10 of over 2,000 restaurants in Barcelona, and reviewed fantastically well, so I was really glad we could get in.

It was a little hard to find, down one way narrow streets, but we got there on foot in the end after the taxi could go no further into the maze of lanes.  It was really worth the little bit of wandering around when we found it and were warmly welcomed inside.

It's a small restaurant, on two levels, with incredibly friendly staff - all of whom spoke good English.  The menu was glorious and we were asked if we'd like to order a drink whilst we read through it.  I asked if they did a Rose by the glass and the waiter apologised that they did not, only by the bottle.  Then he said "No, if that's what you want, then that's what you shall have.  Life is too short!".  I said that was fabulous, but he really didn't have to open a bottle just for me to have a glass.  "No problems.  I shall offer glasses to other guests.  Please, I will open it for you.".  That?  That's service.  Seriously good service.

I started with scallops and suckling pig - delicious.  The serves are generous so don't think you'll be going hungry.  I followed with duck on wild mushroom risotto for main.  Again, it was lovely and a good sized serve, so much so that I couldn't finish it.

"Afterwards" by Rosamund Lipton

Hubby and I are just back from a fantastic weekend in Barcelona, and I'm working on some posts about that, but whilst I was there I managed to finish the last little bit of "Afterwards" by Rosamund Lipton.

I was hooked into this book after the first few pages, and that hasn't happened for a while.  I had read "Sister" by the same author last year, and I enjoyed it, but "Afterwards" is seriously good.

It's the story of the aftermath from a deliberately lit school fire.  The story is told by the subconscious of the mother and daughter, as they lay in hospital, unconscious, after the event.  It's quite hard to explain, so here's an extract, here's the blurb from the back of the book, and here's a link to Rosamund's web page.  There is a twist in the tale, so you have to stay reading to the end.

My US readers will be able to pick it up cheap from Amazon, but my European readers might not have tried yet - cheap books and free delivery.  I get all my books from

Has anyone else read anything good recently?  This morning, on the plane home, I started "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger - it's pretty good so far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Man From Snowy River

Yeah, I can do this, no worries.  Actually, I couldn't.  Not ever.

Tonight, as I was riding Jeany home through the forest with my friends in the gathering dusk, I thought, as I often do, how very lucky I am to have these great experiences.  I'm riding far more often here in Germany than I ever did anywhere else.  I ride a few different horses with different characters, and whilst I'd never say I was a good rider, I'm certainly not a bad one.  I've got quiet hands and heels and try to build a relationship with the horse I'm riding (unless it's Silver, and I've pretty much given up there).

As we canter along, and our "horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride", I thought again of the fantastic Australian poem "The Man From Snowy River" by AB (Banjo) Patterson.  It's one of my all time favourite poems, and for those of you who don't know it, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Oh, and if anyone needs any Aussie bush slang translations, please just ask.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up -
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went - they found the horses by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain's brow, 
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump, 
No use to try for fancy riding now. 
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right. 
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills, 
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight, 
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them - he was racing on the wing 
Where the best and boldest riders take their place, 
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring 
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face. 
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash, 
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view, 
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash, 
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black 
Resounded to the thunder of their tread, 
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back 
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead. 
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way, 
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide; 
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day, 
No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull, 
It well might make the boldest hold their breath, 
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full 
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death. 
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head, 
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer, 
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed, 
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet, 
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride, 
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat - 
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride. 
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground, 
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went; 
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound, 
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill, 
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute, 
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit. 
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met 
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals 
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet, 
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam. 
He followed like a bloodhound on their track, 
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home, 
And alone and unassisted brought them back. 
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot, 
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur; 
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot, 
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise 
Their torn and rugged battlements on high, 
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze 
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky, 
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway 
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide, 
The man from Snowy River is a household word today, 
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

There was a great movie made of this amazing poem and you can find the details here.  Anyone who loves horses should really try to see it somewhere, it's fantastic.  And if this has inspired you to try riding in the Snowy Mountains "where the pine-clad ridges raise their torn and rugged battlements on high",  on horses that are "hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die" have a look here.  I rode with these guys about 7 years ago and it was seriously great (and the accommodation and food were outstanding).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rado Weather - Do Something!

It's winter in Rado and that means it's foggy and grey in Rado.  It's foggy and grey all day in Rado.  It's foggy and grey every day in Rado.  Yes, it's foggy and grey ALL THE TIME!

Now, I'm an Australian and Australians are pretty much obsessed by weather.  I'm probably worse than most, because I'm from the driest state in the driest country on the planet - good old South Australia.  You'd rarely have a conversation with someone where the subject of weather doesn't come up in some way.

There's never enough rain, or there's too much and there's floods and cereal crop damage.  In Australia, when there's too much winter rain, you get too much summer grass which dries off and then you get bush fires, and with bush fires there are absolutely no winners.

Or you get cyclones up North and they wipe out all the banana and pineapple crops so that's your tropical fruit exports gone.  Or there's hail and that's your stone fruit (peaches, apricots, cherries) exports gone.

So, as you can see, Australia is a wee bit weather obsessed.  Weather, when you're a big island, is pretty crucial, and no matter how lovely it is where you happen to be, it means that someone else is having it hard.

Now I'm living here in grey, foggy Rado and it's been like this for weeks.  We've had no rain, minimal sun, no wind, no storms and nothing except this creeping greyness AND I'M OVER IT!  We need a big storm to blow this all away, and then I'd be happy to be knee deep in snow for the winter.  Please, give me some weather!

Let it blow, let it snow, let it blow ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spa Review : Der Oschberghof

Last Thursday I had appointment at Der Oschberghof in Donaueschingen to receive my birthday massage (yes, I know, my birthday's in January but I was a wee bit late getting myself organised).  The glorious Elke1 had very kindly given me a massage voucher for the spa at this gorgeous hotel, about 45 minutes from home.

I checked in with a friendly Spa receptionist, and as I was early, I was seated in a small relaxation area with a lovely cup of green tea.  I pulled out my book and chilled for a little while before I was escorted downstairs to the treatment rooms where I met Senta, my masseuse.

Senta and I were in a really lovely room, well on par with anything I've experienced anywhere in the world.  It was beautifully decorated and had lovely soft "tinkling" typical spa music playing quietly in the background.

Senta asked me to undress and I asked if there was a robe, or disposable knickers, or anything at all.  She said she had some disposable knickers if I wanted them, but she was happy with me naked if I was happy with me naked.  Now, I know this is a bit odd, and I felt slightly weird, but Germans seem to be more used to being naked than other people I've met.  If you go to a sauna here, everyone is naked and you're not allowed to wear your bikini - and that's why I don't go to German saunas!

Anyway, I undressed and lay down on the treatment bed and covered myself with a towel and Senta offered me a selection of oils and lotions to see which I'd prefer to be massaged with.  They all smelt lovely, I chose a fresh green flowery smell, and Senta started the massage.  I don't know about you, but I like a firm massage.  I'm not one for feathery soft strokes.  I want to be able to walk out of a massage and feel like something has actually happened.  About 5 minutes into a quite pleasant, though not mind blowing, massage Senta asked if it was okay and I said she could go much harder if she wanted to.

"No problem" she said, and turned around to the CD player and changed it from tinkly massage music to old R&B and jazzed up spirituals, and then she got stuck in to me.  It was one of the best massages I've ever had, as good as anything I had in Thailand from my lovely Khun Al.  My long term diary readers will remember Khun Al, the old lady at the massage centre at the end of our soi, who used to take great pleasure in battering the stuffing out of me; punching, whacking and chopping with a huge smile on her face.  Well, this was almost as good as that.

After my hour was up, I really felt fantastic and Senta went off to make me a cup of tea whilst I dressed. I was then shown into a huge relaxation lounge with chaises and fabbo Fat Boy bean bags - lovely.  I know tipping isn't as expected here, but before Senta left me I gave her a healthy tip as it was certainly deserved.

So, if you want a special treat, get yourself along to the spa at Der Oschberghof and make sure you ask for Senta!!

Der Oschberghof
Golfplatz 1
78166 Donaueschingen
Ph:- +49 (0) 771 840

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Davos, Switzerland

Apologies for the delay on my promised Davos post, but I've been laid low for a while with a nasty bug, and am only now feeling like getting back on the blog.

Anyway, we had a fantastic time in Davos, the home of the World Economic Forum, the weekend before last.  It's under 3 hours driving from our home in Germany, and whilst we drove there in the dark, we drove home during the day and it was a really pretty and fairly straight-forward drive.  Davos is nestled in the next valley along from the Royal Family hangout, Klosters, in the Swiss Alps and it's just lovely.  Easy to get around (as long as you understand the one way street system which isn't terribly well marked) and loads and loads of hiking, jogging and horse riding trails everywhere.  I'm sure it really kicks into gear in a month or so for ski season.

We had pre-booked dog-friendly accommodation at the Sheraton Waldhuus so that we could bring Archie with us.  We had never travelled with him for an overnight stay and we wanted to give it a try.  He's been crate trained from when he was a pup, so we put the crate in the boot, put his travel harness on, clipped him into the seatbelt attachment on the back seat and set off.  He was great on the drive (he's always been very laid back on car trips) and the hotel had put us in a large ground floor room with direct access to the forest outside our door - perfect for dogs!

I could go on and on about the Sheraton Waldhuus, but I've already done that on a TripAdvisor review of the Sheraton which you can find here, and you can find the official website of the hotel here.

We'd made a reservation for dinner on our first night at Hanggi's which had been really well reviewed on TripAdvisor.  It was a 10 minute walk down the side of the golf course from the hotel, easy peasy.  Had a lovely meal and we were looked after by friendly staff.  Again, I've done a TripAdvisor review of the restaurant here, and you can find the official website of the restaurant here.

We love going out for breakfast on the weekends, and it's not really something that we can do here in Rado, so when we get the chance to do it in a new place, well, we just jump at it!  We'd found out about Kaffeeklatsch on TripAdvisor (you can see the TripAdvisor is a resource that we really love and use pretty much before we go anywhere new - it's never let us down yet) and headed along for a late breakfast on the first morning.

Kaffeeklatsch is gorgeous, all shabby chic with different old chairs and mismatched plates.  They did outstanding coffee with real fresh milk (a treat for us, as most coffee in Rado is made with that ghastly long life milk you can buy unrefrigerated off the shelf), freshly squeezed juices and lots of different cooked breakfasts.  We had bacon and eggs, and bacon and rosti - both scrumptious.  There are also lovely displays of cakes and the whole place is looked after by friendly staff.  It was so good that we went back again the next day.

Surprise!  I've submitted a review on TripAdvisor that you can see here, but they don't seem to have a webpage.  Oh, and they're dog friendly.  Archie was happy to sit under the table, smiling and wagging at everyone as they came through the door.

So, to cut a long weekend short, Davos is great.  We're so lucky to live close enough to be able to drive to these amazing places in countries that are on our doorstep!  I'll pop some photos of our weekend on the end here so you see what we got up to.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Australian FAQs

These actual questions about Australia were posted on the same blog I found the map of Australia yesterday.  Sorry they're all over to one side, not sure quite how to get them back!

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? ( UK ).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? ( USA )
A:Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q:I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? ( Sweden )
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? ( UK )
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q:Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? ( USA )
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not
... Oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q:Which direction is North in Australia? (USA )
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? ( UK )
A:Why? Just use your fingers like we do...

Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is
Oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? ( UK )
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q:Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? ( Germany )
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. ( USA )
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from.
All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q:I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. ( USA )
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them.
You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q:I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? ( USA )
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q:Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? ( France )
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first

Monday, November 7, 2011

Map of Australia

Hubby, dog and I spent this past weekend in gorgeous Davos, Switzerland, and I'm working on some blogs about that, but here's a map of Australia I just saw on an expat forum and I thought you might get a giggle out of it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We Love to Recycle!

I know I did a post on the many ways that Germany recycles last month, but my friend AmiExpat has done a really detailed and interesting post in her blog and I've copied it below if you can't click over.  Her blog post was linked in this article by Mashable on global recycling which is really worth a read.  For example, did you know that Germany recycles around 64% of its rubbish, the UK 17%, and Greece only 10%?  And if you Aussies are wondering how you compare, check out this detailed report.

Germans take recycling very seriously.  I’ve heard of fights erupting among neighbors in apartment houses over improper sorting.  To help you with figuring out what goes where, I’ve compiled this little guide.
First, there can be up to four containers at your residence or in public places.  There’s the paper and cardboard container, that is denoted by either green or blue, depending on where you live.  Then there is the plastic and compound materials container, denoted by yellow.  There is the brown biological waste container, and the gray household waste container.
In addition to these containers, you will find containers in your neighborhood for glass, shoe, and clothing collection.  At the entrances of home improvement, electronics, and some grocery stores, you will find used battery collection boxes.  You may need to store hazardous materials for some time until your city or town announces that it will be collecting these items.  And finally, there are scheduled pickups for large items, like old sofas and the like.  In large cities, you will generally be notified of the dates for pickups, but in smaller towns you will likely need to call and schedule a pickup yourself (in our town, we get one free pickup a year, more than one and we need to pay for them to come by).
What’s acceptable can vary slightly from place to place, as can the color of the bins.  I looked over the instructions for several cities, and listed items that were accepted by all.  Some cities accept things that other cities don’t, so to find out for sure what you can and can’t recycle, and what bin it goes in if what I have here doesn’t seem to match up with your bins, check the official website of the city or district you live in.
What goes in the Grüne/Blaue Tonne (green or blue can) for paper and cardboard recycling?
  • Paper and cardboard packaging marked with or without a Grüne Punkt (Green Dot), for example, cartons for salt, laundry detergent)
  • uncoated frozen food packaging
  • newspapers, magazines, junk-mail
  • notebooks, writing pads, writing paper, envelopes, computer paper
  • packing paper, corrugated cardboard
  • books without covers, catalogs
What does not go in the Grüne/Blaue Tonne (green or blue can) for paper and cardboard recycling?
  • soiled paper
  • drink cartons, for example, Tetra-Paks
  • pizza boxes with aluminum coating
  • coffee bags (paper bonded with aluminum or plastic
  • wallpaper
  • carbon paper, photo paper
  • used paper towels, Kleenex, or napkins
  • waxed, sandwich or parchment paper
  • any other coated or bonded paper
What goes in the Gelbe Tonne (yellow can) for plastic and compound materials recycling?
  • plastic food containers, like for yogurt or margarine
  • plastic bottles, for example, body wash, shampoo, sunscreen, laundry detergent, juice bottles
  • plastic wrap, plastic bags (like from inside the cereal box, or shopping bags)
  • vacuum-pack bags, for example, coffee bags
  • Styrofoam packaging, also for meats, fruits and vegetables
  • nets that citrus and potatoes come in
  • aluminum foil, lids, trays
  • paper or plastic plates, plastic utensils
  • fast food mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup packets
  • tin drink and food cans
  • aerosol cans (hairspray, deodorant, etc.)
  • tubes for toothpaste, stain remover, tomato paste, etc.
  • plastic bottle screw-tops
  • milk and juice cartons
  • pharmaceutical blister-packs
What doesn’t go in the Gelbe Tonne (yellow can) for plastic and compound materials recycling?
  • vegetable and fruit cartons
  • glass
  • paper and cardboard
  • video and audio cassettes
  • diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons
  • plastic, metal or Styrofoam items that aren’t packaging, like toys, bowls, lids, laundry baskets, window boxes, plant pots, etc.
  • packaging that contained hazardous material, like spray paint cans
  • electronic devices
What goes in the BIO Tonne (brown can) for biological waste?
  • garden clippings, weeds, grass cuttings
  • foliage and plants, including houseplants
  • feathers and hair from pets
  • paper towels
  • fruit and vegetable peels and leftovers, including citrus fruits
  • coffee grounds and filters
  • tea and tea bags
  • egg shells
  • flowers
  • bread and cheese
  • spoiled food
  • nut shells
  • organic pet litter, like hay, straw, wood shavings
  • untreated wood
  • Christmas trees (no tinsel)
What does not go in the BIO Tonne (brown can) for biological waste?
  • ashes
  • mineral-based pet litter
  • meat and sausage leftovers, cooked and prepared food, flour and milk products (in some places, these can go in)
  • treated wood
  • bones
  • Kleenex, sanitary pads, diapers, tampons
  • other treated items, vacuum cleaner bags, street sweepings
What goes in the Altglastonne (old glass containers)?
  • non-returnable glass jars and bottles
  • marmalade, jam, jelly, preserve jars
  • packaging made from glass
  • blue glass (goes in the green glass container)
What does not go in the Altglastonne (old glass containers)?
  • lightbulbs
  • ceramic and porcelain
  • mirror, window and plate glass
  • crystal
  • ceramic stove tops
  • auto windshields
  • fireproof glass

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town, as in much of Germany, "ordnung" (or "rules") are strictly adhered to.  Ordnung is everything in Germany.  You might have got an idea of this from the little series "In My Town ..." that I've been running.  I've been to a lot of places, and have been lucky enough to live in a few, and I've not experienced anything quite like the ordnung that is in place in Germany.  There is a rule for everything, and everyone follows these rules.  Now, whilst that might sound living in Germany is a bit "challenging" for an Aussie that doesn't really follow the rules, let me just say:-

  • In my town we don't have crime (touch wood)
  • In my town we don't have litter
  • In my town we don't have grafitti
  • In my town, when you see a gang of teenagers walking towards you on the street, you're not afraid of what's going to happen
  • In my town I can walk home alone at night from town without a care
  • In my town IT'S SAFE!

So, ordnung might drive me a little bonkers (don't even start me on my experiences with government employees at the Rathaus), but, in my town, it certainly works.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town you can take the "Kur" (aka the "Cure").  People come from all over Germany to Rado, more specifically my little part of Rado, the Mettnau, to take the Kur as the air here is so very good.  Apparently a 1-2 week stay is the norm.  Here's some info from one of the providers:-

Prevention and rehabilitation are the cornerstones of our philosophy. On the basis of a thorough medical examination, we put together for you an individual therapy and exercise plan that you neither under-nor overwhelmed. A wide range is supplemented by exercises and endurance training, relaxation techniques. Our doctors / physicians, physical therapists and sports / inside and psychologists / inside will show you how you can overcome stressful situations in everyday life with ease. 

A healthy, balanced diet and enjoyment of food increase the performance from the inside. On medical care also offer the nutritionists of Mettnau discussions in small groups and individual counseling.The claim of Mettnau is high: the stresses of everyday life has grown to be. To know their risk factors and learn to deal with them. Recover after an illness of the heart and circulatory system, energy and vitality, with more movement and less "medication". Prevent serious damage to health through prevention. This is the philosophy of Mettnau team. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town they advise that you should have your windows open for a certain period of time every day.  They even recommend how many minutes per day per month you should have them open.  Yet this is a country where they think that sitting in a draft is seriously dangerous to your health.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town you can buy a kilogram of perfectly lovely bananas for €1.15 (about $AUD1.55).  Are bananas in Australia still up around $AUD10.00 a kilo?

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Old Town ...

In my old town, fabulous Bangkok, they're experiencing fairly major flooding.  One third (yes, one third) of Thailand is currently under water.  300 people have died.  Hundreds of thousands are homeless.  And, just in case that's not enough, that's NOT a puppy being hauled around on those guys shoulders above.  The crocodile farms have been flooded and now there are crocs wandering about.

In My Town ...

In my town there are a minimum of 8 required types of recycling:-

  • Clear glass
  • Green glass
  • Brown glass
  • Compost and scraps (no meat)
  • Paper
  • All recyclable plastics and tins (no paper)
  • Any drink containers have a cash deposit that is redeemed at place of purchase
  • Normal rubbish (anything not above, which really isn't much)

In my town they LOVE recycling.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town there are about 30,000 people.  Before this we lived in Rochester Hills (about 70,000 people), Bangkok (about 9,100,000 people) and Adelaide (about 1,200,000 people).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town you can take dogs pretty much everywhere.  Even into Michelin starred restaurants!

Friday, October 21, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town everything is closed on Sunday.  Everything.  Except petrol stations and some restaurants.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town all the banks, post office and goverment offices close for lunch breaks for up to 90 minutes.  And the government offices close from noon on Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town you're breaking the law if you hang your clothes on the line on a Sunday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

In My Town ...

In my town children aren't allowed to play in playgrounds between 12.00 and 2.00pm.

Sunday, October 16, 2011