Olympic London

Hello London!

One crazy thought end of June about celebrating my friend’s birthday during her 3-week stay in London and a couple days later the trip was booked! After 3.5 years since my exchange semester I would finally be back in London again – and I honestly didn’t know I missed it so much until I got back, driving through the empty streets of London in the early morning hours on my arrival.

Frankfurt Main Train Station

Due to the expensive prices for a flight out of London I settled for taking the Euroline bus: a 14 hour ride from Frankfurt with stopovers in Germany and Belgium, taking the ferry to Great Britain and arriving at the Victoria Coach Bus Station. Luckily I can sleep everywhere and don’t mind sitting for a long time so it was bearable. I read a whole book on the way there and played games on my iPad and read magazines on the way back – time does fly. There were also downsides like people being sick and throwing up most of the time and ID and custom controls several times – but it was worth the cheap price booking so short notice (150€ with the below 26 years discount).

Surprise Backpackers

I stayed in a hostel nearby the Victoria Station, at the Surprise Backpackers at Vauxhall Bridge Road. It’s a great place as it also consists of a bar/pub and a nice room backdoors for (included) breakfast in the morning and during the day to hang out, play dart or pool or the like. The hostel itself is upstairs with a shared bathroom having several shower cabins and toilets for everyone. The room I stayed in, the pink room, was very spacious for a hostel room and consisted of two three-bed beds. I shared it with two other girls but slept there by myself almost every night as they ended up staying out with friends. I can only recommend this hostel for a stay in London, it’s pretty central (just a 10 minute walk from the Victoria tube station) and the staff is very friendly and helpful.

Oxford Street

H&M got different olympic window displays everywhere

One would think that London is pretty packed because of the Olympic Games going on – however this was not the case. I have never seen London this empty. It’s been so nice walking along Oxford street for a little shopping spree on Sunday or riding the tube during supposedly busy hours.

Women’s Marathon at Trafalgar Square

I also had the chance to watch the women’s marathon as it went through the city and my friend stayed nearby Trafalgar Square where they ran by. For all the other games it was impossible to get any tickets any more. I’m not sad about it however because the spirit of the British and the olympic atmosphere was everywhere  around town and it’s already been incredible just being in the city during the Games. Also, I’m feeling really happy for Great Britain winning so many unexpected medals when they’re hosting. It reminded me a little of the soccer world cup in Germany in 2010, the emotions in the country were just incredible. 🙂

celebrating at Freedom Bar Soho

We celebrated my friend’s birthday in a bar in Soho, the Freedom Bar. It’s been a fun evening, it’s amazing how easy you get to know new people here in London and the bar was pretty full for a Monday! I cannot imagine this in Frankfurt…

Assa Restaurant

One finding I have got to share: we went for lunch in a Korean Restaurant nearby the Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, the Assa Restaurant. OMG, it’s been the best Korean Food I’ve ever had and it’s supposedly the best Korean place in London and I totally believe it. We got there pretty early but by the time we left people were almost queueing to get seated and it was mainly Koreans – if someone knows good Korean food it gotta be the Koreans! 🙂

Rice Cake

Hot Pot

We had a hot pot with marinated beef and some noodles and vegetables in it as well as a rice cake. One could have rolled me down the street so full and satisfied was I after this amazing lunch. My friend and I already agreed we gotta pay the Korean BBQ Sillas in Frankfurt a visit with some more people once she gets back next week. I just can’t wait to have more good Korean food!

Categories: Great Britain, London | 4 Comments

Visiting Gustav Klimt in Vienna

A short weekend trip is better than no vacation at all – but I come to realize that just a weekend is not enough to visit those bigger cities in Europe because you can only cover a fraction of it.

So when my friend and I visited Vienna we had to prioritize. Since seeing Gustav Klimt’s famous painting “The Kiss” was the reason to actually go to Vienna in the first place, we made this weekend a “Klimt-Weekend” – trust me you do not get tired of finding museums covering his art! It is his 150th anniversary this year and so there are a total of 10 museums with Klimt exhibitions but we only went to three and that was already quite challenging. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of his art as it was always forbidden in those exhibitions. There were quite a number of people that managed to get a shot of “The Kiss” but I was so fascinated by the painting itself that I did not care whether I had a picture or not – it would not have been able to capture its whole beauty. I got a postcard instead and for anyone who might now wonder how this painting looks like:

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (picture from Wikipedia)

After a relaxing breakfast with Wiener Melange (Viennese coffee) we took off to the Muesums Quartier which is a quarter with multiple museums in one place, starting with our first museum, the Leopold Museum which hosted the “Klimt Persönlich” exhibition (“Klimt up close and personal“).

entrance to Leopold Museum

From the entrance we had a great view into the courtyard of the Museums Quartier:

View over the courtyard at Museums Quartier

We then walked through the gardens of the Hofburg where a demonstration took place for Tibet prisoners, according to some people we asked there along the way.

Hofburg

Hofburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tibet Demonstrations

Tibet Demonstrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hofburg

horse-drawn carriage – a very common thing around the Hofburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hofburg

Afterwards we went to the next museum, the Albertina. It also had an exhibition about Klimt (what a surprise!) which was showing his drawings he did prior to a lot of his paintings. I must say, this exhibition was very interesting but I’d have preferred to see a some his paintings which we were to see the following day beforehand which were then drawn from his drawings. It would have been even more interesting to know what was to become of his sketches!

stairs of Monet’s water lilies are leading to Albertina’s entrance

Albertina – old rooms from rich people (I did not really bother to find out who used to live there… 🙁 )

Albertina – old rooms from rich people (I did not really bother to find out who used to live there… 🙁 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this second museum’s tour it was time for a MUST-DO in Vienna: Sachertorte!!! It’s a cake which consists mainly of chocolate. We wanted to sit down in the café where it originally got invented (Hotel Sacher)but the line to get seated was way to long. We therefore decided to get two small pieces of cake and sit down in the pedestrian area and eat it there – well you can surely believe we started to feel sick from this amount of chocolate already after a few bites! 😀 Nevertheless.. This cake is AWESOME. It does not really seem so special but once you’ve taken a bite you know it is… 🙂

Sachertorte!!!

On the next day we did only do as much as go to Belvedere which consists of two big baroque houses that are museums each. We went to the upper Belvedere to see another Klimt exhibition which then included the famous “The Kiss”.

Upper Belvedere entrance

statue at upper Belvedere

View from upper Belveder down to the lower Belvedere

Some further impressions from the weekend in Vienna below, there are still so many sites I have yet to see in Vienna. When I was going through my travel book for Vienna on the plane, marking everything I want to see, my neighbor asked me how long I was in Vienna… He expected me to say at least 1+ week and was laughing at me when I told him it was just a weekend… haha!

Russian War Memorial

an artistic piece in the middle of Vienna

lavender at some market

the main shopping street – abandoned on a Sunday 🙂

where I had the best asparagous soup in the whole wide world – Augustinerkeller below Albertina

Categories: Austria, Vienna | 2 Comments

ADEX 2012 – the Dive Expo in Asia

Welcome to the Asia Dive EXpo 2012! 🙂

I always wanted to go to a dive expo but for some reason I always missed the one in Germany (Boot Düsseldorf) every year because I was busy with other things and only noticed the Expo was on when it was over by a couple days… but I was lucky, during my stay in Singapore it was on the last weekend and so I went there to catch up with some old friends I have not yet had the chance to meet up!

ADEX Dive Expo 2012

meeting Dasmond Koh 🙂

I met Dasmond Koh on the One Diver Buddies boot. He is a Singapore celebrity – but I would not have known if no one told me. I’m not familiar at all with any of Singapore’s or Asia’s celebrities in general. And I like the fact that I get to know them like any other normal person without thinking too much that there’s a celebrity right in front of me like I would when meeting German celebrities 🙂

No Shark Fins Singapore! (picture from http://jessica-tan.com/)

My friend Jessica Tan did an underwater photo shoot on a dive trip to the Bahamas this year for the “No Shark Fins Singapore” Campaign. I know I have written about this multiple times before but I can not mention it enough: Do not eat Shark Fins! This tradition is one of the most stupid ones I have ever come across and the sharks are finned alive and then thrown back into the ocean. The following commercial by ACRES shows this cruel procedure it very illustratively:

with diver friends @ Din Tai Fung in MBS

After ADEX was over I joined my diver friends from Deep Blue Scuba for dinner at Din Tai Fung, located in Marina Bay Sands. The Chinese food was amazing and delicious, especially the filled dumplings. I do not know how it is called but those dumplings were also filled with some liquid (soup?) which was a funny experience as well when you bite on them in your mouth which better be closed! 🙂

Categories: Singapore | 2 Comments

Bintan Easter Holiday

After Rawa I have been to another paradise like island in Asia Pacific…: Bintan! 🙂

like a dream

PARADISE IS REAL!! 😀

We spent there about 3 days over Easter, I called it the holiday from the holiday. It was very quiet, not all rooms were taken, a really nice place to just shut down. I read a whole book during our stay there (“The pursuit of happiness“), and I haven’t been able to finish reading a book in years… I started another book right away but have yet to find the time to continue reading again…

playing around with the underwater camera

Unfortunately it was raining most of the time during those three days – which is probably one of the reasons I could read so much – but on the last day we went into the pool nevertheless of some drops falling from the sky. We played around with the underwater camera and I really like above picture. It’s really hard to know what image you are actually shooting underwater, you cannot really see anything on the display. In the future I gotta bring some goggles… 🙂

best pool view ever

water lilly

spot the humongous gecko walking on leaves!

Three days are over way too fast. It’s been a great escape from the city, and it’s only a 1 hour ferry ride away from Singapore.

However, I must mention one downside of our stay. Everything was sooo freaking expensive. I paid for one meal of bee hoon there as much as I’d have to pay for 3-4 in Singapore in a food stall. It was shocking. And there were no other options than dining in the hotel area as a taxi to dedicated places would also cost a fortune – so we decided to not go to that one shopping mall they have there during one of the rainy hours…

After getting back I heard from friends that Batam is much nicer to go to. Next time… 🙂

Categories: Bintan, Indonesia | 2 Comments

Singapore Zoo – again :)

My sister and I wanted to go to the night safari but somehow we did not manage to go. We were always too exhausted from the walking tours throughout the day that the thought of going all the way to Ang Mo Kio and then to the Singapore Zoo for more walking was not very motivating. In the end we settled with going to the zoo during the day on her last day. We only had 2 hours so we had to prioritize which animals we wanted to see for sure and which to leave out. I think to go through the whole zoo without rush and see everything, one should have at least about 4 hours. 😉

Here are some expressions from our rush through the zoo:

tiny little monkeys

lazy white tiger

another monkey

elephant <3

some cute kind of deer

the striped horse 🙂 hehe

a small version of a meerkat?

tall giraffe

these huge sleeping turtles really fascinated me...

Categories: Singapore | Leave a comment