Hakuna Matata

This whole adventure started sometime last summer or so when I flew somewhere to Africa over the Kenyan and Tanzanian border. I sneakily snapped a picture from the aircraft window of the highest African mountain – the Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak and later posted it with the caption “See you next year”. I don’t really remember what I meant by that. I possibly had this vague idea of one day trying to climb that Big Mamma. To my surprise Dad was the first one to comment saying ” A life- long dream of mine.” I was like ” Hang on – WHAT?”

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And that’s when we started talking. And my vague idea suddenly became very real. In 2015 we would fly to Africa and attempt to summit the Mount Kilimanjaro 5895 m. Getting my dad involved was the best choice I ever made. If this was just me I would be still talking about planning the whole thing. However my dad sat down, googled “Kili”, read everything there was ever written and to be read about “Kili”, made informed decisions, booked what was there to be booked and sent me the invoice. All I had to do was search for flights and get my gear. Which basically meant go online and go shopping. My two favourite activities!

With every piece of equipment I bought I was getting more and more excited about this trip that was taking me way beyond me comfort zone. And as the pile of clothes and various tools was growing in the corner of my room I realised I was missing the most vital part – my best friend Holly. And so I just flat-out told her ” I think you should come”. And she -and that’s why I love her – said “Ok cool.”IMG_6986

And so there we were- my father The Kiliboss as he would have liked us to call him or rather The Lizard as he later became to be known to the Kili population. My wife Holly-my tent mate-who has become famous for having consumed the largest amount of various liquids (tea, water, soup etc) and climbing the mountain purely on that diet. And then my humble self perhaps the only person to ever read three entire books whilst climbing. However I don’t have that fact verified. But what can I say Jo Nesbo really got me hooked.

February 2015 rolled over faster than any of us expected. Or perhaps that was just me. It caught me completely by surprise. The last few months prior to the trip I have spent getting used the new cabin I’m currently working in, travelling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on my days off and spinning (indoor cycling) at Flywheel. And before you ask – yes that was the only training I have focused on. Unlike the Lizard that has purchased a backpack filled it with stones and hiked pretty much the whole of Czech Rep up and down. Dedication at its finest.

And so before I knew it was the 14th Feb and the three of us were sipping a glass of Moet et Chandon at the Terminal 3 in Dubai waiting for our gate to Dar Es Salaam to open. That glass of champagne was the last bit of luxury we treated ourselves to. Or so we thought. See we were preparing ourselves for 8 days of no hot water, no running water, no beds, no toilets, no heating , no proper food. Most of which we were right about. Apart from the food. Somehow – and honest to God I still don’t know how – our guides managed to treat us to a hot 3-course african cusine three times a day. Yes that’s right. We were freezing our butts off in tents considering long drops a rarity among the more usual bushes but we were stuffing our faces with pancakes and all kinds of plantain stews and soups and marinated meats everyday. Even at 5000m altitude. Gordon Ramsay eat your heart out.

liquid diet

liquid diet

waiting for a meal course number 51.. popcorn. soup, prime, second, carne, pizza done... bring on the dole

waiting for a meal course number 51.. popcorn. soup, primi, secondi, carne, pizza done… bring on the dole

Lizard and Simba

Lizard and Simba

Climbing a mountain is an experience such as no other. And climbing it with people I care about made it that much more special. The three of us were accompanied by a group of local porters and guides that have become our little family for that week. Before the trip has started I couldn’t quite imagine what is it gonna feel like having my bags carried up by someone else. And having seen it the first day – the intimidating pile of stuff tied together that these guys pick up like a shopping bag, place it on their heads and shoot up the hill I mostly felt ashamed. I felt like the privileged white girl visiting Africa for “the experience of a life time” that quite frankly I was. However as the week progressed and we got to know our guys a bit better (I’m not even gonna attempt to spell their names) I came to realise that they are happier than most of the people I have ever met. They are proud of what they do (as they should be), they are grateful for us tourist coming a hiring their strong arms so they can go back home to their home towns and families and enjoy the reputation and respect and hard cash that being a Kilimanjaro porter and consequently a guide brings. I have been humbled by their pure joy of life. Those guys woke up and greeted every single day with a wide bright smile and genuine laughter.Sometimes even a song. They are so happy just to be alive, warm.dry, fed and among friends. They have so little and yet so much more than most of us. I have said it before and I’m saying it again. Africa and its people have a very special place in my heart.

Gideon and Safi ... our guides

Gideon and Safi … our guides

so this is like their version of an "open space" office

so this is like their version of an “open space” office

getting our pre-meal briefing (Lil Primi is explaining what he's gonna cook for us next, got me salivating every single time, his pancakes were unreal!)

getting our pre-meal briefing (Lil Primi is explaining what he’s gonna cook for us next, got me salivating every single time, his pancakes were unreal!)

Chillen like a villain with ma homies

Chillen like a villain with ma homies

Lizard trynna see if he could, he says he could but I don't think so :)

Lizard trynna see if he could, he says he could but I don’t think so 🙂

Da crew

Da crew

Last selfie. Spot the Lizard

Last selfie. Spot the Lizard

Our Optimus Prime what a legend !

Our Optimus Prime what a legend !

I already said I let the Lizard pick and decide everything regarding the climb. Including the route. Ok -I feel like now it’s perhaps a good time to explain the nickname. Needless to say my dad isn’t too keen on it. Ever since we started the chain conversation over WhatsApp he would regard himself as Kiliboss. That never really caught on. However the moment we hit the mountain and I noticed my dad changing his upper layers (each of a different shiny colour) with pretty much every passing cloud I noted aloud that he was “like a chameleon or an overgrown lizard” and boom a nickname was created. My dad tried to convince the guys to call him “Simba” instead which is “also of the animal kingdom” and means “lion” in Swahili. But once a Lizard always a Lizard. And so the only “Simba” that came with us was a jar of jam that the Lizard confiscated upon the first taste and only let us smell it for the rest of the trip.

The Lizard being like "Whateves...there is a mountain in the backdrop no biggie" .. he cool

The Lizard being like “Whateves…there is a mountain in the backdrop no biggie” .. he cool

Simba

Simba

So as I was saying the Lizard picked the route. Which meant that without knowing it we gave up all the luxuries of the modern day climbing such as huts, bunk beds, tiled toilets and benches to sit on. Not that we had an idea until the last day anyway. We tackled the mountain from the North using the Rongai route. It may be a little less comfortable and little longer however in exchange for that we had Kilimanjaro to ourself for the majority of the trip. There were days when we literally met none else but our lil group. Plus it’s apparently the “cool’ route to pick which we also didn’t know until we arrived back to the bottom of the mountain and were exchanging stories with other climbers that were left impressed that two young girls and one Lizard took on “The Rongai”.IMG_7280

Rongai start in a rain forrest which is inhabited by loads of monkeys and one human family trying to sell us Mars bars and cans of Coke. We declined and days later kicked ourselves for that decision because in our careful planning and list crossing we somehow collectively forgot to bring any chocolates or general sweets. We didn’t get to see the monkeys apart from one bushy tail however they most definitely saw us and let everyone else know by frantic wild screams. For a moment there I imagined that monkey scene from Hunger Games and considered turning back. But soon enough we left the rainforest behind as we climbed up and up to the first camp in moorlands. And in the beautiful moorland we stayed for a couple of days. I must say that was probably my favourite part of the mountain. The views are not yet as majestic as a bit higher up but they are still great mostly overlooking the vast Kenyan territory. There is loads of peculiar flowers and bushes to admire and cheeky little gerbils and field mice running around and stealing your lunch when you are not looking. There is plenty of streams and tiny lagoons that allow a bit of a daytime wash that’s not really plausible in the evening as the temperature drops rapidly once the sun is gone (ever since day 2 we were pretty much at 3000m and above so regardless of being right on the Equator it gets COLD). Once we got up to 4300m we camped at the same spot for two night to acclimatise. At this altitude you get to experience what it’s like to be a 90-year-old. Tasks such as getting up from a chair, walking, talking or generally breathing are rather difficult and so you try to avoid them as much as you can. We spent most of our time resting in tents, slowly moving around, peeing (yes even at this altitude I have to go every 30mins plus I was enjoying the rare luxury of long drops instead of the more usual bush or a large stone), reading books and eating Simba jam. Well some of us did anyway. The second morning we got up, packed the camp and set off for the longest part of the whole journey – the day leading up to the summit attempt.

Who run this mutha' ?!

Who run this mutha’ ?!

Cool as parachichi

Cool as parachichi

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First part was to cross the lunar desert between the Mawenzi Peak at the bottom of which we camped and the Uhuru peak. The crossing itself isn’t long or challenging but our bodies were already tired and the altitude really started taking its tool. But the time we got to the Kibo Hut, the highest camp on the mountain at 4700m above sea level we were exhausted and ready to sleep. Which we needed to since that night we had to get up at 10pm and start climbing to the summit. The only thing that got me out of my warm sleeping bed was the thought of a chocolate biscuits we were promised. I couldn’t care less for some Uhuru peak. However when I saw my cup of tea and the much anticipated biscuit my stomach turned and I declined. That was kind of my first clue that tonight wasn’t gonna go as smooth as I hoped.

We set off. I’m trying to remember how exactly I felt and what was going thru my head but it’s very hard. I wasn’t well. My body wasn’t reacting well to the altitude and sleep didn’t help either. I wanted back to bed, I wanted to crawl into my favourite fetal position and sleep forever. I most certainly didn’t want to climb 1000 vertical meters for the next 12 hours. My head felt heavy my legs wasn’t listening to my commands. I was slowing down the group and so we bid our “byes” and “see you at the tops” and parted. I felt a little better for not having the pressure of the whole group upon me but as my guide and I progressed I could feel every meter hammering my head and adding weight on my shoulders. I felt let down by my body. I was ready for feeling nauseous and headaches. I wasn’t ready for this. What was “this”? “This” was like standing at an empty platform and trains passing me very quickly . The trains being my thoughts. I literally couldn’t think. My legs weren’t mine. Or at least they didn’t act like it. I said “Let’s go” and they stood still. I said “left” and they went right. It was at about 5100m that my knees gave in and I just simply fell to the ground like a bag of potatoes. And I felt like that will do and I can just stay there and sleep. It was there that my guide said ” I think it maybe time for you to ask yourself the question.” “What question?” I said. “If it’s really worth it going on.” he replied.

But I just couldn’t imagine giving up. So I pulled thru. After about an hour I was at 5200. Yes I walked 100 vertical meters and took me an hour. And it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Or so I thought. I didn’t know the hardest thing was yet to come. I needed a break every ten meters or so at this point. To catch my breath, to stop my head from spinning to make my legs listen to me. My guide looked me in the eyes and said ” Gabby, you have to turn. This mountain is not worth your health.” I knew he was right so I didn’t say anything. I just sat down on rock and cried for a little bit. It was a very silent very composed cry. Looking back I think it was mostly a relieved cry rather than a defeated one. I looked up at the sky full of stars it must have been about 2 am at this point and I still remember thinking that this was the most beautiful sky I have ever seen in my life. Then I looked up the steep hill and saw the procession of lights and tried to guess which one of them was my dad and which one was Holly. I then tried to look even further beyond the lights and tried to catch a glimpse of the peak that I was to never see with my own eyes. But it was still too dark. Then I took a deep breath and said “Ok, let’s go sleep.” And every step I took down the hill I could feel my wits returning, my lungs filling with more air, my head clearing and my legs feeling lighter. It felt like waking up from a very deep dreamless sleep.

Did I feel disappointed? No. I never reached the peak but I still climbed the mountain. I walked, ran, slept ,  ate, laughed and cried on that mountain for over a week. I zigzagged it from North to South. I woke up a few times and saw the world from above. I was on top of the clouds and for once I got there myself on my own two legs and not on an aircraft. So in my head I accomplished what I came to do. The Lizard and Holly both summited successfully and I was there to give them a hug and take off their bags and help them recover when they returned to Kibo. We were there for each other to exchange the full stories (dad and Holly had to also split up at a later stage), to cry a little and laugh a lot. It was a happy day. And it wasn’t over yet.IMG_6775_2 IMG_6776_2 IMG_6765_2 IMG_6736_2 IMG_6727 IMG_6726_2 IMG_6692_2 IMG_6684_2 IMG_6670_2 IMG_7076_2

We still had  to cross over to our last camp of the trip. That was a long one. And a dusty one. I have never been so happy to see a camp let alone such a hight tech one with things like sinks with running waters and mirrors. That night we ate dinner in silence and very quickly and went to bed before the sun set. The next morning was our last one on the mountain and we had the longest part ahead of us however it was all downhill and in a very low altitude so it basically felt as if we were flying. Which we were. We raced to “the finish line” aka the last gate of the park but right in front of it we stopped and like right sportsmen and Kilimates we crossed it together. And that was it. The adventures has come to an end and now it was time to enjoy the Kilimanjaro beer and the Kilimanjaro song that our guides had ready for us. Hakuna Matata indeed !IMG_6868_2 IMG_6885_2 IMG_7062_2

 

Poa!

G.

 

Oh-man

Back in March when things between Sven and I were still peachy we decided on a short getaway to Oman. I have heard so much about the country , I have seen pictures and I have wanted to go ever since I moved to the Middle East. Mountains, sea, dolphins and beaches … sounded exactly like my kinda place!

And since Sven was – or as I’d like to believe- still is the type of guy that will do anything to keep one’s eyes sparkle with joy we finally made that trip that I was planning for over a year happen.

There is a lot one can do in Oman. There is also a lot of places to go and stay at to choose from. I had my mind set on camping. Frankly speaking I get enough of hotels at work and it stopped feeling special a while back. Getting woken up by the sound of crashing waves on a beach sounded like a much better option… And so that’s what we did.

I spend the day before the weekend in Oman in Prague with Rudi and Nela. Normally I wouldn’t want to leave even if you paid me (wait ..but I DO get paid… nevermind then:) but this time around I couldn’t wait to land the plane back in Dubai. I was particularly looking forward to the road trip and I wasn’t disappointed. The coastal drive is truly something – even tho we crossed the borders at night and all I could see was that little bit within the reach of the beamers – I still loved it. We woke up the sailor that was supposed to take us to the remote beach where our camp was set. He didn’t look too impressed at that ungodly hour but I bribed him with a few Sudanis – don’t worry that’s just the Arabic word for peanuts- and off we sailed. Well- speed boated.

The camp… well how to best describe the breathtaking view I was treated to when I woke up the next morning and opened up the tent? I guess pictures will have to do all the talking instead:IMG_9066IMG_9292

The day started off with a brisk hike up the cliffs surrounding the beach, after that a breakfast consisting mostly of flies that just wouldn’t leave a single bite of food untouched and then it was slowly time for the main event of the day : the Dhow tour. What’s a dhow?  A dhow is a traditional fishing boat that looks more like somebody’s living room rather than a fishing boat. I guess since most of the people use it as an actual living room it only makes sense:) It’s covered in carpets and cushions , catered with figs, arabic coffee and overly sweetened tea. It’s perfect. I felt like a Cleopatra sailing down the Nile, nodding off to the slow rocking of the boat. But that was just the calm before the storm. And by the storm I mean the arrival of the dolphins ! Yes – real wild dolphins !!! The closest I ever got to a dolphin before was watching Flipper on a Saturday morning at my Dad’s. So you can imagine how super excited I got. I was running around the boat like crazy – managed to stay on board only by a pure miracle. I was quite ready to call it the best day of my life already but I was in for a treat. Later that day after a tasty lunch served on the dhow and an amazing scenic sail around the cliffs and mountains we stopped the boat for an afternoon dip. Everybody was feeling lazy and so I was one of the very few that decided to go into the crystal clear water. I swam quietly away from the others and that’s when I noticed something big and graceful swooping around me. It was the most beautiful dolphin that was probably as curious about me as I was about him. Now – he was probably about 10 meters away but just for the sake of the story let’s go with “within an arm reach” ok? I froze for a moment and then tried to alert everybody else without alarming the that wonderful creature next to me. Big mistake. Obviously everybody WANTS to swim with a dolphin at least once in their lives. Nevermind a wild one! And so the entire crew jumped into the sea and once and that pretty much scared the shit out of the dolphin and that’s the very anticlimactic end to my wonderful story .IMG_9138 IMG_9172 IMG_9154 IMG_9149

However much everyone tried to discredit my experience (jealousy is a b*tch:) nothing could ever take it away from me! I – and only I – have swam with a dolphin ! I sat quietly for the rest of the day watching the coast, watching the little black sharks (yes there are Great Whites and then there are Little Blacks) , watching the waves swallowing the sun with a warm furry ball of happiness inside of me. I capture some of the most fantastic moments of my life here on my blog, some of them thru the my camera lens… and some of them I capture with my soul. Forever there and never fading. This is one of those.

It seemed that whatever was about to happen the day after couldn’t possibly stand up to The Dolphin moment. But once again I stood corrected. We packed up and got picked up by our grumpy speed boat driver again. He took us to yet another driver – but this one was manning a questionably powerful 4×4 and took us on what was called a “Mountain Safari’. Don’t be fooled by the name – no animals were involved. Instead we were treated to an amazing tour around the Omani mountains. I felt like travelling back in time – especially when we stopped at about 1000 m and saw the remains of fish fossils scattered around. We stood so high up looking down at the world beneath and yet we were walking on something that once was the bottom of a sea. An incredible feeling of time passed thru me. One of my favourite writers Eckhart Tolle says that we are all one and that time as such does not exist. We create it within ourselves. And I guess it wasn’t till then that I fully understood when he means by that. IMG_9326 IMG_9323 IMG_9237IMG_9293

The end of our Omani weekend came way too early but before we had to go back to the Dubai reality of our lives we still managed to visit the best restaurant in Khasab. Oh – excuse me – the only restaurant or shall I say eatery in Khasab. I was hoping for something local but it was a Yemeni establishment. Delicious nonetheless. Also I ate the food of the floor. Sorry Mum – I know how you feel about that:)

Oman is a magical place. One of those you absolutely have to visit and experience before you die !

Take care everybody

Love

x

G.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky Number 215

I generally consider myself a very lucky person. I live for free in a place that is for many the ultimate dream holiday spot. My job is essentially as heavenly as a job can get. I spend my free time either sleeping, eating, chatting to one of the precious people I can proudly call my friends or the combination of all of the above.

Life Is What You Make It

Life Is What You Make It

Sometimes I get so caught up in the bliss of my everyday life that I tend to forget to appreciate it fully. So from time to time I get to experience moments that leave me speechless and beyond grateful . Like last month in LA . Oh – yeah I forgot to mention. I flew to LA. And it was great. Amazing. Fantastic. Fabulous. So much better than I have ever imagined it. So good that as my wake up call was approaching all I wished for was the chance to stay longer and enjoy more of it. And that’s when my good omen kicked in.

I woke up expecting to put on my uniform, shut my suitcase close and take off direction Dubai. But instead the hopeful red light was flashing on the room phone and when I pressed it I heard the most amazing voice mail of my life :

“Your wake up call has been postponed for at least another local night .”

Thanks to the foggy weather in Dubai that delayed some of my flying friends by hours and hours and stranded the others in more of less desirable places across the globe I got to spend three happiest days in L.A. All expenses paid. With a cherry on top :).

First time seeing the Pacific

First time seeing the Pacific

Most of the crew flying with me have -just like myself- never been to California before. So the first day most of us agreed to book a tour and see all the local attractions people are always after. The Hollywood sign. The Avenue of Stars. Beverly Hills. Rodeo Drive. Santa Monica. The New Port Beach. The enjoyed all of it. I was living my Californian dream to the fullest with the sun shining bright and high and everybody flashing their broad american smiles. I was in awe of New York when I first got there. But I BELONGED to L.A the moment I laid my eyes upon it. It felt like finding a long-lost home honestly.

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive

Stars

Stars

one day...

one day…

902 10

902 10

Chuck and I

Chuck and I

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HappyHolly In Hollywood

HappyHolly In Hollywood

Especially when I took out the roller blades that I brought with me all the way from Dubai and headed for the beach. Some of my new friends came with me, rented bikes and we cruised up and down for miles and miles passing all the other bikers, runners, walkers and holiday makers. Then we purchased cold beverages and hot dogs, sat on the beach and just chilled watching these weird tiny little birds running into and away from the tide. They kept us entertained for hours! IMG_7732 IMG_7828 IMG_7804

My absolutely favourite place in L.A. must have been this outdoor farmer’s market called The Groove. It was crammed with people craving all the yummy food you could get there – everything from a fresh fish chowder to an organic chocolate covered beans. Whoever says that the Americans have no culture where food is involved has evidently never been to The Groove. It was most definitely one of the top ten taste bud enticing spot I have ever been to. I wished I was a cow and had three stomachs just so I could fit in more food… Not the first time that has happened to me either… 🙂 IMG_7649 IMG_7680IMG_7645 IMG_7682

I also went shopping because that’s an absolute must when in the States. Have you ever seen the prices of clothes and sportswear out there? My jaw literally dropped when the cashier announced the final price.

“Are you from Europe?” he asked

“Yup” I said

“Thought so. We usually get this reaction from you Europeans.” he replied wisely.

My bank card got a good work out that day but I came back to the hotel with a brand new skiing outfit that I’m absolutely IN LOVE with (and got to use immediately after the L.A. trip and you can read about it here) , entire running outfit and much much more. So much more I had to ask one of my colleagues to lend me some space in her suitcase since I just couldn’t fit it all in. Yes. I have a problem. I know.

I HAD to buy it

I HAD to buy it

That unexpected turn of events ate into my annual leave but to be completely honest I couldn’t care less. That one extra day in Cali already felt like a wonderful holiday !

x

G.

Ab und zu Musik (und Wifi Pausen)

Have I ever mentioned I studied at a German high school? Well if I haven’t yet I have now. It was nothing fancy really – I went thru the same shitty adolescent traumas and had the very same complexes as any of you had. Only I did all of it in a foreign language.

It really explains a lot. For example why I struggle so much with geography – capitals in particular. I know most of them in German and many of them in English. However when it comes to having to name them in Czech I’m lost. The same goes for history. I can have a fairly long conversation about all kinds of religious bans of the 16th century but do not recognise any single treaty in my native language. Not that it has ever stopped me from enjoying my life but I’m just saying that my 15-year-old brother could be a better history teacher than I would ever be. And don’t even get me started on literature. I doubt you could have found a teenager who was better informed about Reiner Maria Rilke’s life than myself. I also knew “Die Loreley” by heart. In German. I don’t even think the native Germans know that…

I was pretty decent at speaking German. Never really reached the top of my class tho. That spot was occupied by one person only. Rudi. The guy we all hated because speaking German came so naturally to him. No wonder since he grew up in Germany… Where we (well me particularly) struggled with articles, syntax and cases he excelled and very humbly so. As I said – we all(me particularly) hated him. But high schools tend to last forever – especially the ones where you are not very popular. Mine lasted for about a decade. His for about a week. And in that decade the guy I hated so much, mainly because he was so popular and clever and annoyingly nice and modest about all of it,  became my best friend. Now 13 years,5 countries, one marriage on his side and countless more or less successful relationships on my side later – we still talk every day like nothing has changed. IMG_8370

Couple of weeks back during one of our discussions about the unbearable lightness of being out of the blue we decided to go skiing together. One of the best decisions I have made this year! It was all “planned” so quickly we didn’t really know where or for how long to go but we decided to just wing it. After all – the main point was to spend some time together !

So I got onto the first flight out of Dubai and flew right into my lovely sister’s warm embrace. She really is the best sis anyone could ever ask for! We never argue . Like NEVER ever. And even tho she is just 12 months and 2 weeks younger she always admires and praises everything I do and that gives me this amazing feeling of being old and wise and experienced and shit … and my ego just loves that! So I spent a few days in the best place on Earth= among my beloved ones and then packed my spanking new backpack (yes it took me whole 28 years but I now own a backpack!) and headed to the second best place on Earth – Moravia. If you don’t know where or what Moravia is then look it up. It’s the place where we brew the best beer, cook the best food and grow the best people with the widest smiles and biggest hearts. Full stop.

Nelly my beautiful soul-mate

Nelly my beautiful soul-mate

I boarded Rudi’s brand new Seat Ibiza and we embarked on what shall be remembered by generations to come as “The Most Musically Charged Road Trip Ever”. Like honestly. See for yourself(it would take me another day to change the format of all the vids -which I will eventually do but I just wanna publish this post now so if you wanna see all the crazy singalongs we got up to then visit my Instagram page). The only time we wouldn’t sing would be when we ate. Or talked. Which we did A LOT of. We haven’t seen each other for only a month but a) sometimes A LOT can happen within a month and b) I was under very strong painkillers last time we spoke and didn’t remember A LOT of what has been said back then. And so we headed south past Brno, past Vienna direction Salzburg and even further…

Backpack selfie

Backpack selfie

this pretty much set the mood of the entire trip

this pretty much set the mood of the entire trip

standard ...

standard …

when I said music I meant digital love...

when I said music I meant digital love…

There were only a few occasions when we didn’t sing, talk or eat. We called those occasions “WiFi Pause”. There seems to be free WiFi everywhere nowadays in Austria (well everywhere but in the apartment we had rented but let me get to that). And I need WiFi like I need the breathing air. Because I’m a cabin crew and WiFi is my only stable connection with everyone I want to stay connected with. Get over it. And spare me the ” social media addiction” talk. I know about that. C’mon let’s face it – we all have it. Even Rudi does . We didn’t need to tell each other about the WiFi availability. If one of us fell silent for more than it takes to take a breath the other one would know. And connect as well. Then eventually once we resurfaced from the depths of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp we would continue our journey. Until the next “WiFi Pause”.

The only time we stopped for other reason than WiFi was in Salzburg. The birthplace of Mozart. I have been once before ages ago with my dad and remembered it to be quite the beautiful place. And it still was. We walked down the ancient streets, stopping in the weirdest souvenir shops, taking heaps of pictures and eventually finding a small cafe that had it all – decaf coffee, Sacher Torte, WiFi and accessible electric plugs (my iPhone battery ran flat by then).

I love your duck(face)

I love your duck(face)

Salzburg

Salzburg

The world is your oys... egg

The world is your oys… egg

IMG_8069 IMG_8076

Next morning – as a courtesy of my US jetlag- I was up at such an indecent morning hour I felt ashamed of myself. I let Rudi sleep for exactly as long as it took me to braid my hair but then I was much too hungry and excited to be quiet any longer. We enjoyed our first and obviously amazing Austrian breakfast (I love Austria for many many MANY reasons but its food is always gonna be number one) and set off direction Kaprun and its glacier – Kitzsteinhorn! Everything went so smoothly we were up at the very top before 11 am. The weather conditions weren’t so great that day. It was cloudy, foggy and cold but I haven’t skied on a real snow for over 2 years and couldn’t care less. Towards the end of the afternoon the fog has lifted a bit and we finally saw a part of the glacier in all its might and glory. And what a view it was !IMG_8160 IMG_8252 IMG_8171 IMG_8179 IMG_8164 IMG_8190 IMG_8251 IMG_8208 IMG_8204

I insisted to stay till the very end and as we took the last lift up to the top we managed to be the first ones following a group of snow groomers. What a spectacular end to our day ! As we made our way back to the valley I was itching for some WiFi and couldn’t wait to share my feelings online tugged from the comfort of my bed. What a nasty surprise it was when I found out the only place I could connect (and very poorly so) was in the hall leaning against the front door. To make it even harder for me to swallow Rudi could – of course- connect from everywhere including the toilet. It was a dark place I found myself in believe me!

yes... I text a Lot... I geddit !

yes… I text a Lot… I geddit !

That's my WiFi Ecke !!

That’s my WiFi Ecke !!

I took my revenge on him when I woke him up at 6am the next day *insert evil laughter here*. We indulged in more Brotchen mit Nutella and made it to the pistes before 8.40. It was as if the Alps decided to make up for the previous day and reward us for our early start. If you ever wondered what “Das Kaiserwetter auf der Piste” looks like well have a look :IMG_8273 IMG_8281 IMG_8289 IMG_8321 IMG_8339 IMG_8357 IMG_8334 IMG_8294

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

ginger beard

ginger beard

Frozen

Frozen

IMG_8365

It was Rudi’s first time in the Alps and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to experience it. We had it all- bad weather, great weather, food, drinks, music, fun, apres ski… and WiFi.

I’m now back in Dubai, having flown in from Vienna last night. I still have a few days off before I start off my next roster by my first few turn arounds in ages. But better not think about those. I’m concentrating on the rest of the month which is about to be pretty awesome – I’m off to Bangkok next week, I will be visiting Canada for the first time and crossing off yet another one of my childhood dreams – seeing the Niagara Falls- from my list. That’s not all tho – The Gods of Rostering have been very generous indeed and very casually scheduled me a Prague flight later in March. And to wrap it all up I have a long and wonderful Oz and Nz trip right at the end. Life is a bliss if you ask me !

Love to all

x

G.

Busy busy busy….

Ok I admit to it… I have been such a crappy blogger these last couple of weeks! The thing is I’m a perfectionist and rather than posting something short and rushed I will risk losing your attention for a while and then surprise you with a long and accomplished post. And such posts require time. And time is something I haven’t had a lot of lately.

I’m currently in Prague, spending the last few days of my vacation with my sister. “Another vacation?” I hear you say? Well- rest assured this holiday has been all but relaxing. I have pretty much not stopped until this morning. It’s been mad ten days full of spinning around seeing old friends and even older family members and travelling up and down the Czech Rep like there was no stopping me. If you think that cabin crew would have enough of travelling from their everyday lives and would want to spend their free time on one spot- well then think again.

The holiday pretty much started the moment I landed back from Manila and signed off from my duty. I had about an hour before the check-in for the Manchester flight, which is where I was headed, was to open. I beat the speed of light by making it back home, repacking, taking a shower and getting to the airport just in time to pass out in front of my gate. I was looking forward to at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep since planes put me to sleep like nothing else does -but alas not this time! I spent the flight starting at the IFE in front of me without really seeing what was going on. As the Boeing reached the runway in Manchester I reached a new level of tiredness previously unknown to me. But since I only had less than 48 hours before I was due to leave for Prague I wasn’t gonna spend my “layover” sleeping was I now? I have enjoyed an awesome weekend in the Peak District- a place that has always been very close to my heart- hiking,shopping, lazying and enjoying plenty of tasty mulled cider  at local Christmas Markets. IMG_6247

Before I knew it – it was time to board yet another plane and head to Germany and then onwards to Czech. The next week or so was spent madly pending from one corner to another trying to ration “quality” time between all members of my massive family.

there always has to be some kind of competition in our family...

there always has to be some kind of competition in our family…

watching my brother's floorball tournament.. yes he is indeed playing a girl...

watching my brother’s floorball tournament.. yes he is indeed playing a girl…

visiting my gran always ends up like this

visiting my gran always ends up like this

I sighed in relief when I left all that “stress” behind and made my way back to Prague to focus on one person only – Holly, who was coming from Belfast to visit the Capitol of Beautiful for the first time. I have tried my best to show her as much as I possibly could in our limited time and I believe I succeeded . I have managed to feed her as much Czech food as she could take. We have drank mulled wine and ate smoked ham. We (over)indulged eating Czech sweets in my favourite caffes around Prague. We walked miles and miles sightseeing. We fed our starving cultural selves in the National Theatre having attended the ultimate pre-Xmas show- The Nutcracker.

In The Theatre

In The Theatre

 

different type of culture

different type of culture

Ok – this is not the kind of elaborate post I was talking about at the start… But I promise I have a few up my sleeve. There is so much I have been up to that you guys haven’t heard of… yet. For example my numerous trips to Perth. Or flying to my precious Ghana again. And describing my Filippino experience. It’s all underway just stay put :)!

 

Bye for now

x

Love

G.

The Tale of Two Girls and One More City

At the end of the last month Dolly and I found ourselves having a few days off together. Rather than wasting it doing our usual sweet nothings in Dubai we decided- very spontaneously – to go on a girly shopping trip to Bangkok. Just like that. Yes – feel free to hate me all you want. This part of my job is so insanely cool ! We have booked our stand-by tickets online, packed a few bits and pieces and headed for the airport. All within a matter of one afternoon.

Our Airline flies to Bangkok pretty much every 5 hours and we were therefore lucky enough to get our pick on the most comfortable flight (most comfortable meaning the one with the least paying passengers on it meaning more space for us non-paying passengers to spread over 4 seats and sleep).

We landed in Bangkok late at night , checked into our hotel and went straight to bed (well that’s a lie actually I skipped the part when we ventured out to find the nearest 7/11 to get the compulsory bubble tea. You know what they say “When in Asia drink as much bubble tea as you can get your hands on”). We had a big day ahead of us. We got up nice and early and made our way to the spa we looked up before leaving Dubs and booked ourselves in for a day full of pampering. Sauna, body scrubs, massages and much much more… All super cheap and super professional. Samsara Wellness definitely got our seal of approval ! I even left with a bag full of goodies such as organic coconut oil, pineapple vinegar and some organic ointments.

And after the relaxing couple of hours in the spa it was time to get down to business. Aka The MBK. The massive shopping centre where -among others – people go to get all those not-so-real designer handbags, watches, shoes, clothes etc. We spent the entire afternoon fussing over purses and wallets and had to reminded to leave since the mall was about to close. It was decided then that we absolutely HAVE to come back the next day since our thirst for shopping has not been quenched yet.

Since this was Dolly’s first time to Bangkok or to Thailand in general it has been agreed to we should also do some turist-ey stuff. I let her decide what she wanted to see and only prayed it wouldn’t involve any Buddhas. After having backpacked in Thailand couple of years ago and having been in and out of Asia in my first couple of months of flying I felt like I have seen enough Buddhas for at least two life times. Thankfully my gurl wanted to do a boat trip instead. I was pleasantly surprised since it was once again a side of Bangkok I haven’t seen before. This city just keeps on amazing me. What we didn’t expect was the tour to finish at The Grand Temple which coincidentally is the home to the biggest reclining Buddha in Thailand. Now I can safely say I have seen Buddha to do everything. Sit, stand, lie down, dance, smile, sleep and recline. Oh – and laugh.485521_10201575075871050_1009096869_n

The Grand Temple is called “grand” for a reason. One could easily spend a whole day walking around. But Dolly once again proved why exactly is she one of my best friends by saing after mere 40 mins “Okay, enough culture, let’s go shopping!”. And off we were to the kind of temple that’s much closer to my spoiled consumer’s heart.

Shopping in Thailand is always easier when armed with a bubble tea or two. So we searched the of whole of MBK to find one stand at last. The lady serving us looked like the last thing she wanted in life was to get any business. After a very long international conversation she finally decided to understand what we were after (strangely enough bubble tea was THE ONLY thing she was selling so her confusion was quite… well confusing)  and when we dared to ask for no ice she looked at us disgusted and said one thing that will forever score Number One on my Top chart of Misunderstandings:

“No ice? We don’t have!” Whilst adding some extra ice cubes to our drinks.

All that was left for us was to laugh. The rest of the day was delightful! I left with my brand new wallet much lighter and my shopping bags much fuller. You can rest assured that my winter wardrobe has been all taken care of here in Bangkok…

There was one more place I wanted Dolly to see before we left. The infamous Khao San Road. I remembered it be wild and shocking. But perhaps we were too early in the night. Or too late. Or maybe I have seen wilder and more shocking since. Because this time the KSR seemed calm and civilised. We considered watching a ping pong show but in end rather opted for yet another massage, a little more shopping and some Thai curry.1378077_10201575102271710_1529465280_n

All of our Thai cravings have been fully satisfied and we left Bangkok relaxed and totally shopped out. The nest city break we have panned is Pre-Xmas Prague in two weeks. Watch this space of more mis-adventure and tales of the two girls:)

x

Love

G.

The Tale of Two Girls (and many Cities)

15 days, 4 countries, 3 airlines and many MANY many bottles of wine later and I’m finally back from my summer vacation.

There is so much – perhaps even too much- two young girls travelling around Europe can jampack into two weeks of holidays- but fortunately for you my dear readers I have just ordered a large soya cappuccino and have all the time in the world to describe everything Dolly and I got up to during our girly trip to Croatia. So why don’t just sit back, relax and enjoy the read ?:)

Chapter One – The Most Wonderful and Horrible Thing…

… that can happen to you when travelling stand-by is to miss or not get on the connecting flight you were hoping for. Like it did to us. We happily boarded the A380 bound for Munich and spent the few hours it takes to fly from Dubai to Europe watching films, drinking miniatures ( or as we liked to call it “sampling for future reference”) and chatting to our former batchmate who happened to be the operating crew on our flight.
We (still happily) disembarked and made our way to the check-in counter of our connection. And that’s when the fun started. I’m not gonna bother with the details and wonders of stand-by travelling. The important thing was that some 40-minutes later we found ourselves mentally exhausted and without a flight to board that day. The miniatures we haven’t managed to finish on board came in handy at that moment. We were stranded in Munich for 24-hours. It was horrible because thanks to the Octoberfest all the hotels were fully booked and there was no way we could find a last-minute accommodation. And it was wonderful because out of all places I’d have wanted to be stranded in Europe- Munich during the Octoberfest was the best of them all! We put our heads together and figured there was no harm in asking our batchmate if she would mind terribly letting us crash in her crew-hotel room for the night. Which she didn’t. The holiday had started right there and then. IMG_4253

Chapter Two – Octoberfest…

… is not your typical festival as you would imagine. I have always wanted to go. Just like everybody else I guess. I expected it to be crowded, chaotic and commercial. To my surprise it was none of the above. For such a massive event the whole place felt very intimate and so so soooOOO super friendly! It had everything – massive pretzels, foot-long sausages, roasted sugar coated almonds, music, drindls and leder hosen, amusement rides and THE BEER of course! And we tried all of it. If you ever considered going then DO IT ! It’s an unforgettable experience !IMG_4268 IMG_4279 IMG_4317 IMG_4327

Chapter Three – Dubrovnik …

… has very nearly taken over the Number One City spot in my heart that has been so far occupied by Prague. Well- when I say nearly I mean I still haven’t decided. It is a true germ – so stunning it makes you wanna weep. I scored a window seat on the way there and got the chance to enjoy the most beautiful approach and landing in my life (yes -and I have landed into Maledives before).

We checked into our approx. 100yo little stone-cottage B&B overlooking the Old City of Dubrovnik, downed a shot of something very strong offered to us by our friendly landlord and ventured out to savour the moment of our first Adriatic sunset. There is so much I would like to say about this amazing city starting by describing its white streets full of jewellery shops and ice-creams parlours and beautiful architecture and its morning markets with all kinds of fresh fruit and home-made products and the most fantastic wine bars on the city walls and all the painters and musicians on every corner and all the different smells from local restaurants  and… and… and are you still with me? We have fallen head over heels for this hidden paradise – so hard we decided to extend our stay from the originally planned two nights to full 5 days sacrificing the Venetian part of our trip. Yes- that’s how very awesome Dubrovnik is!

After having spent our first night gorging on seafood and wine we left Dubrovnik for a couple of days and returned for another overnight stay a few days later. This time around we have learned a lot about the history of the settlement and the importance it has had throughout the history of the Medditerranean trading. We have walked on the City walls and visited even more jewellery shops in preparation of making some very hefty purchases. And because we felt like that still wasn’t enough we returned yet another time right at the end of our tour of Croatia and stayed until we really HAD to go in order to return to work on time. But not before we treated ourself to some bling bling shopping and -you know it’s coming – yes even more wine!IMG_4403 IMG_4420

I will never get sick of taking pics of palms... never

I will never get sick of taking pics of palms… never

Morning fruit markets... fresh figs, dried figs, fig salamis, fig jams, fig liquers, fig brandy... but they also had some grapes...:)

Morning fruit markets… fresh figs, dried figs, fig salamis, fig jams, fig liquers, fig brandy… but they also had some grapes…:)

ahhhhhh...

ahhhhhh…

first evening in Dubrovnik - the City Of Stunning

first evening in Dubrovnik – the City Of Stunning

The view from our room

The view from our room

Dubrovnik from above ..and my Croatian ring

Dubrovnik from above ..and my Croatian ring

Just chillin' on the last day of our epic trip

Just chillin’ on the last day of our epic trip

One of many mouth watering dinners we have treated ourself to.. this one featured a lobster...

One of many mouth watering dinners we have treated ourself to.. this one featured a lobster…

IMG_5518

Croatia has it all... sun, wine, seafood, silver... rain

Croatia has it all… sun, wine, seafood, silver… rain

The City Walls and the two of us

The City Walls and the two of us

Ahhhhh

Ahhhhh

Having a glass of vino and watching the sunset on the City Walls.. my life is complete now

Having a glass of vino and watching the sunset on the City Walls.. my life is complete now

another day another breath taking sunset

another day another breath taking sunset

yes... it's happening

yes… it’s happening

and another one

and another one

Dancing, Singing and Holidaying !!

Hey everybody,

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post ! But I have been away on holiday – which you may have noticed if you follow my Instagram and since coming back I had hardly any time to spare. I have a few drafts laying around tho and they are about to be published later today !

So watch out for this !

x

G

August. Airbus. Australia.

Something weird is happening to the time. It passes way too quickly. Is it really August already? I’m sure when I went to sleep last night it was only the beginning of the summer! Has it really been a month already since I graduated? Has it really been a year since I started the initial process of something that’s now my everyday life reality?

August used to be a very bitter sweet month. Back when I was at school I’d have spent July working away in some ridiculously underpaid part-time job and then realised in the middle of the summer that I have had no fun whatsoever and try my best to catch up. But trying to fit two-moths worth of fun into one just never seemed to have worked for me. I’d go back to school every September feeling cheated…

Then I left school and started working full time and that’s when learned the hard way that even one month of fun is better than no month of fun. I still remember the first August I spent leaving for work everyday at 7.30 am and meeting my flatmates at the door coming back from yet another all-nighter. Well – I guess life is about the choices we make…

When I moved away from Czech to the UK August would be the month when all the local pubs start advertising their “Christmas bookings being taken” and Tesco puts sherry and port wines on offer.  And I’m not even joking! If you try to book a table for your Crimbo din-dins in November people laugh at you.

So how about August 2013?! Well – that’s gonna be a month to remember I’m telling you! Not only do I get to fly the Big One (meaning the A380) again after I-don’t-even-recall-how-long but I finally get to experience the chilled out and laid back Australian way of life. Yes ! Yes! Yes! I’m flying to Oz. Not once. Not twice. Three times this month!! Whoop whoop – now who is a very lucky girl?!

Happy happy happy <3

Happy happy happy ❤

With the amount of time spent flying to and resting in Oz each time there is a very little space left on my roster for anything else. I had one very quick layover in Bangladesh that I already informed you about and apart from that I will be once again going to Germany- of course. One would think I’m the only German speaker in the company judging by the amount of flights I get there each month. I’m now however eligible to swap duties and I’m trying my best to do so with the Hamburg flight. I have my heart set on a particular London pairing to get to fly with my dear Dolly. Wish me good luck and steady hand. I’ll be needing it 🙂

x

G.

Naughty boys, naughty girls, silver linings and drinking cheap wine

To every bottle there is a bottom. To every holiday there is an end. And to every cloud there is a silver lining!

It really doesn’t seem so long ago I was posting about my first few holiday days and now here I am nearing the end of what I’d call the most awesome summer vacation I have had in years! And I promise you it’s got absolutely nothing (or at least very little) to do with the amount of alcohol that has been consumed throughout.

I watched amazing sunsets and wonderful moonrises. I watched my dad whip his non-existent hair back and front to ACDC and nearly take his shirt off to Joe Cocker. I’ve watched my baby brothers beat the sh*t outta guys twice their age with spears- online. I’ve rekindled old friendships and sparked some new ones. I’ve drunk wine on offer and beer on draft and more wine and more beer until it was time to stop. I then drank some more. I’ve rolled on the floor laughing until my tummy hurt. I skated. I rode a bike. I fell off a longboard and got back on it and fell off again. I nearly got a tattoo but then got a piercing instead. I ate cheese and chocolate and all kinds of carbs and it felt damn good! I went on a movie-date…  and the guy I went with drove a BMW. And that guy was my younger brother but who cares anyway- we had fun and that’s what counts. I shopped way too much… even after I told myself it was enough and that bag that I promised myself to bring back empty is now bursting with summer dresses I just HAD to have. I went to bed every night with a grin on my face and woke up smiling again.

Ma sistah and I

Ma sistah and I

Bru-bru

Bru-bru

Cycling with Daddy

Cycling with Daddy

We only drink occasionally... however the occasions are frequent

We only drink occasionally… however the occasions are frequent

3G pic

3G pic

We pout - do you ?

We pout – do you ?

my summer lovin'

my summer lovin’

yet another occasion to drink arose

yet another occasion to drink arose

my Daddy is bringing sexy back

my Daddy is bringing sexy back

my hometown

my hometown

Globe trotting is fun and it sometimes makes you forget your roots and gives you that careless feeling that “home” is anywhere you get to charge your Iphone. Then-sometimes- it feels great to come back to a place that you can actually call “home” -but not because your driving licence says so… because your heart knows so.

I have fallen in love. With being on holiday. With summer. With being Czech. With beer. With having to reply countless times to ” So tell me what’s the bestEST place you have been to so far?!”. I will be going back to my “at-the-moment-home” Dubai with butterflies in my stomach caused by all the falling-in-love I have been doing in the last two weeks. I hope this love affair will survive long distance.

I’m currently sat in some kind of a hipster hang out cafe in Prague waiting for the last reunion of this fantastic holiday- I’m meeting my gorgeous unimate turned flatmate turned best friend Rena. Not even an hour ago I bid farewell to my lovely sister who is now headed back to our hometown to celebrate yet another birthday, which I will-sadly- have to give a miss. I resisted the notion of rebooking my ticket and jumping into the car with her… As tempting as the idea sounded in just two days there will a Boeing full of passengers bound for Frankfurt eagerly waiting for my best-in-fligt service.

So long my dear readers I’ll be back soon

Lots of love

x

G.