Vienna says “Hi!”

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While my best friend spends her time very productive abroad I am stuck in Vienna, studying, dreaming about the next holidays and all the places I would love to go.
Still I got the feeling I owe this city something. See I love taking pictures and it’s a fact that most of my pictures are of some places here in Vienna and most of my “adventures” take place here too.

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Just the other day Vienna vanished in a sea of fog, it was freezing but kind of beautiful. The air was fresh and bracing, the skyscraper disappeared in the mass of grey cold and because it all seemed magical I went for a walk with my dog.
On the outskirts of the town near Hütteldorf is a small piece of heaven called “Himmelhof”. Actually it’s just a small piece of meadow and forest but I use to go there very often and as it’s a hill you have the most beautiful outlook over Vienna.

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So that day I took my dog and we went up there. It was amazing!
On the top of the hill is a lawn and normally you can see Vienna and the mountains behind but this day I only saw the 2 meters in front of me.
My dog, Gonzo, he went straight into the fog and almost like a ghost he appeared again.
That was one magical day and a proof that Vienna has some kind of magic too.

So I guess just because I don’t have the possibility travel the world in the next weeks I have some pretty cool moments too.
Sure I don’t really get to know new places but I can experience the old ones and at least it’s cold during the advent season 😉

And as it’s cookie-time, eat as many as you can! 😀

Kibi

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Vietnam – Bananas and Peanut Butter

Halfway through my volunteering I am finally about to release my first blog about Vietnam. Well, I guess from your perspective I have already done that. (It is actually impossible to write this sentence so that it makes sense for reader and writer.) Let me phrase it differently: If light emitted by your computer hits your eyes in such a way that this message forms in your brain. then I will eventually have released my first blog about Vietnam.  And what could be more important to talk about than food?

Vietnam is famous for its cuisine; I am certainly not the first person to blindly repeat these words after some guidebook. Some of the local food will, however, never find its way into mainstream western cooking. Eggs with duck embryos, chicken feet, dried octopus, fried eel, snails and mudskippers are only a few of the many curiosities you can eat here (guess by which criteria I picked them instead of still beating snake hearts). Nevertheless, it seems like some culinary rules are true regardless of cultural backround (I always wondered why philosophers bother with universal rules about morality rather than food). I would go so far as to propose that this might be an absolute truth, which can unite the world despite the differences otherwise:

Peanut butter goes well with bananas.

In Vietnam a toast with peanut butter and slices of banana or a smoothie combines both flavours, in Canada they are brought toghether in the form of grilled bananas filled with peanut butter (chocolate and marshmallows) or banana ice cream topped with it. Hot or cold, as whole or in pieces, for me they are the perfect couple of the year 😛

Enjoy your meal!

Ricarda

Israel- Fire Hydrants

I have a challenge for you: Should you ever pay Israel a visit, and I strongly advise that (well actually never mind, the fewer tourists the nicer), I challenge you to find all of the fire hydrants in the pictures. Some of them are on famous places, others just in random streets, but each one has a unique look. In some way they symbolise Israel for me: they are not always conveniently placed, but it works out one way or the other, they are not uniform, look old but have a vital function in today’s life. Also, they could be the new minions 😉

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Oh, wait a minute one is actually in Vietnam. Can you guess which one 😛

Ricarda

Israel- The North

20150627_102714At this point I am intrigued to complain. So much happened during these 10 days that I am getting tired of writing everything down. A little bit of the same tiredness came over us during our visit to Galilea. As a consequence we spent one day relaxing at the See Genezereth.

20150627_130400The next day we traveled through time again. P1100809A few hundred thousand years of human history paved our way, however not always in the right chronological order.
Our first stop was the Bahai gardens in Haifa. If not for the beauty of these almost vertical gardens the Bahai religion would probably escape public notice. Only about 150 years ago this youngest sibling of the big monotheist religions spilt itself apart from the Islam as it claimed the arrival of two new prophets. After such a short time and in spite of a policy of openness some of their views seem outdated to me already. How open a religion might be, it seems none of them can change by itself. Consequently, becoming a prophet joined the list of my possible future carers.

20150627_152644Leaving the Bahai gardens behind, we drove further back in history to Mount Carmel. Carved in their stone, written in a language undecipherable to us was the story of early human settlements. In these caves Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis presumably met, making Israel a melting point of nations and central site in human history way before any religious disputes.

Talking about religious disputes, our next destination was an ancient roman city. If you think ruins and relaxation don´t go together you have never been to Cesarea. Time might have destroyed its buildings, but not its purpose. Now the same as then Cesarea offers rest and a mild climate away from the business of Jerusalem. Some of the buildings like the theater were rebuilt and are still in use. Along the shore new cafes integrated themselves perfectly into the old ruins. Sitting there you could watch people fishing and bathing in the furious sea.  All in all life had not deserted this place and; it continued in the same way as it might have been over 2000 years ago.

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The End (I am not going to describe our way back, even though I know how desperately you waited for that part 😉 )

Ricarda

Israel- The Dead Sea Region

P1100416When once my religion teacher mentioned Qumran and the Dead Sea, they were so far away from my reality that their existence almost escaped my mind into the realm of fairy tales. Nevertheless, with the innocence of a child, some part of me always knew that come time I would visit this magical land. I don’t know where from, but since this time I have always had a certain picture of this place in my mind, almost like a pencil drawing: Two boys. They stand on some rocks, facing away. Their gazes wander over the glittering surface of the Dead Sea that stretches out only meters beneath them. The sun burns down on everything around them, but they are sheltered by the shadows of the scarce vegetation, some old looking, brittle trees and bushes, that keeps them company where there is nothing else. Nothing else, but the secret. The secret that is buried in the caves, hardly more than holes, under their feet.

P1100409Reality crushed this image like the clay jars the Dead Seas Scrolls had been kept in.
Wasteland stretches out a few hundred metres between the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains; and every meter stands between my image and reality. I like the place nevertheless.

Masada, the next day, reminded me of the Asterix (and Obelix(and Idefix)) comics. Located on a bare, (almost) unconquerable mountain it towers over the Dead Sea the astonishing view allowed us to make a game of spotting the remnants of roman camps to all sides.
Afterwards, while exploring the less frequented parts of the mountain fortress, we encountered another person. Don’t get me wrong, these parts of Masada were not so desolate that meeting someone else by itself is worth mentioning, the person itself, however, is. He fascinated by the ruins in an almost childish way that identified him as professor or scientist. As briefly as we saw him he seemed delighted to share his excitement with other people.

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In the afternoon we hiked through one of the Wadis of Ein Gedi. I could try to describe the beauty of this river- oasis to you, but in time of photography this seems rather like a waste of time. In any way, neither a picture nor my description could capture the magic of this landscape to its full extent. Like any enchante20150625_125744d place Ein Gedi shows its true beauty only to those who enter through a certain gate. In this case the gate turned out to be a rather long journey through the desert.
In the middle of a barren wasteland a single tree seems much of a wonder, let alone a plentiful oasis. Walking in the riverbed (partially also in the water) we gazed in awe at plants climbing the stone walls of the valley. After passing a waterfall, our path came to an end at a series of natural pools, which made for cool refreshment.

P1100650Talking about pools, of course, we also went for a swim in the Dead Sea. Although swimming is not quite the right word for it, floating fits much better. That might not be news to you, after all I had heard about it too, but all of my expectations were by far exceeded. Where I had anticipated to be able to keep afloat more easily, it was practically impossible not to. Even when standing upright in the water more than enough of me showed to take a passport picture. However, everything comes at a cost. The salt that keep us afloat burned at a touch, especially in the eyes and when swallowed. In this sense the Dead Sea also exceeded my expectations by far.

Hang on,P1100456

Ricarda 😀