When I conjure up thoughts of Winter in Sydney I think it’s pretty miserable since I am through and through a Summer girl. So when K suggested we go on a snow trip and learn to snowboard together I wasn’t exactly running to pack my suitcase of winter woolies. Sydney’s Winters are very mild, and consequently I am thin-skinned. So the thought of going to the snow and experiencing a Winter blizzard and temperatures averaging on minus 5 and below wasn’t the most appealing. Nevertheless I believe you should try everything once, and I do have a love affair with the sweeping views of mountains, so I thought the photos I would take would be worth it in the least. Mountain selfies anyone?
A two hour train ride from Munich will take you to Kitzbühel, a small medieval snow town in Tyrol, Austria. Any misconceptions I had about the snow went out the window when I saw how charming the little gingerbread houses were and how beautiful everything looks when it’s covered in a blanket of fresh white snow.
One of the biggest advantages in staying at an Austrian ski resort is that the accomodation is on the slopes, there is no need to drive for half an hour back and forth every day. The other added bonus with staying right by the mountains is that you can lay in bed every morning and watch the sun rise and cast a pastel shade of pink across the snow fields.
Morning walks in the snow were probably my favourite time of day (well probably after après ski time), the calming sound of my snow boots crunching across the snow and gravel complimented the frost delicately encasing the twigs and foliage.
You don’t usually go in to something knowing you’re going to fail, but once you embrace the fact that learning to do anything requires the commitment to just follow through regardless of falling on your face over and over again, you just start to have fun! I have skateboarded and surfed in the past, but there was something slightly more daunting about having your feet strapped to a plank of wood and knowing if you hit an edge you’re going to go flying face first in to the snow. Despite how fluffy and inviting the snow may look in these pictures, I assure you, it hurts when you fall. Ouch!
After two days on the bunny slope learning to snowboard with the help of Youtube tutorials, I was ready to go up the gondola and try out the slopes on top of the mountains. The Hahnenkamm gondola’s elevation reaches a summit of 1,712 metres above sea level. Whilst riding up I always felt an onset of nausea, I later learnt this was altitude sickness.
Look that’s me! snowboarding in the navy jacket and turquoise pants!… I fell shortly after this shot.
Snowboarding certainly makes you use muscles you never knew you had, and there was no doubt I was sore all over after a day on the slopes. However you were always rewarded at 3:30pm for après ski which translates to after ski where you were greeted with hot tea, cake and snacks, did I mention this was my favourite time of the day?
The last day of my Europe trip had come all too soon, before my 23 hour flight home I decided to make one last trip up to the top of the mountain to take in the views, it never gets old. I can say I have a new found appreciation for Winter, there is something so lovely about the crisp air prickling your cheeks, and the comfort of returning inside to be welcomed by a hot cup of tea and a good book. Until next time,auf wiedersehen!
There is no doubt that Sydney puts on a spectacular display of fireworks to welcome a new year, but I got to experience a different type of fireworks display in 2014 as I spent new year’s eve in Munich.
I should mention that I have never seen or experienced snow before, so I was pretty excited to arrive in Munich and see it had a fresh thick blanket of snow covering the city centre. My first steps on to the streets were a bit of a balancing act as I slipped and slided to to my hotel. Once I got in my room and changed in to a pair of shoes with more traction I was ready to run amok! every blob of snow was asking to be poked, and every tree daring me to shake it!
We started the night by heading out for beer and pretzels at Hofbräuhaus beer hall which was originally built in 1589. The place was buzzing with an atmosphere filled with camaraderie and general drunk jolliness. I have to admit I am a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol, so instead of chugging down a litre of beer (which by the way is the smallest size you can order), I had to fake it with sparkling apple juice, shhh! don’t tell the locals!
Munich saves money by not having an official fireworks display for new year’s eve, but instead they let the locals do it themselves! by 11:45pm the streets were madness! people were launching fireworks at their own will, and judging by the lack of accuracy or general awareness for safety I’m pretty sure everyone was drunk and setting off explosives — probably not the best combination. Needless to say I was exhilarated and slightly terrified, but it certainly will be a new year’s eve I remember!
The morning after marked the first day of 2015, the city was surely hung over and recuperating as I stepped out to what was basically a dead zone. The only signs of the celebrations from the night before were scattered bottles and singe marks from where fireworks were set off. Nevertheless, the city greeted me with beautiful blue skies and fluffy snow, the perfect combination for a peaceful morning walk.
After spending the previous week in Paris, I had had my fair share of renaissance art and opulent architecture. I decided to visit Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich which is a modern art museum divided into four main categories; Art (Kunst), Architecture (Architektur), Design (Design) and Works on Paper (Graphik).
The space is minimalistic with white and grey concrete slabs sweeping from floor to ceiling, only to be met with big glass windows that let the sunshine subtly create shadows along the walls. The museum no doubt appealed to my design sensibilities, and it was nice to see iconic industrial design pieces that I had only learnt about in uni.
One of the exhibitions they had on that I was infatuated with was Superhero by Swiss born artist Stephan Melzl. The exhibition brings together around 40 works of small-scale oil paintings on wood, the exhibition blurb described it as:
From afar, the muted colours of the small panel paintings radiate an aura of familiarity. Up close, however, a strange, unsettling silence emanates from the works. It would almost appear as if time has been suspended in them. The scenes are stage-like in atmosphere — due in part to the artificiality of the lighting within each scene. Everyday objects and symbols, bodies and shadows are surreally invested with alternative meanings. Scenes-within-a-scene create a dialogue between past and present, sparking associations with Giotto, Reni, Hopper, or Balthus, and purposefully blending genres: devotional panel and film still, saint’s image and pin-up, the grotesque and pop gesture.
The kunstareal otherwise known as the “art district” in Munich is home to a small cluster of museums, so after Pinakothek der Moderne, I was able to stroll over to Neue Pinakothek, which focuses on 18th and 19th century European art.
One of the shops I was really excited to visit was & Other Stories, I did not get a chance to pop in to the Paris store so I was very pleased Munich had a branch on Sendlinger Straße. The fashion, accessories and layout were true to it’s Scandianvian roots, I went back three times if that gives you an indication of how much I liked it.
Three days in Munich meant i had my fair share of schweinshaxe and nurnberger sausages (I’m not kidding, I just ate salad straight out of the packet to have a more “balanced” diet). Munich has a relaxed charisma atmosphere and I think it is even more special during the Christmas time, especially if you are lucky to have snowfall like I experienced. This was my first time seeing snow, and I liked it! I was not done with the icy fluffy stuff yet, next stop… Kitzbühel, a small snow town in Austria!
Paris seems to have that affect on people, where they pine for leisurely strolls along the Seine river, or buying macaroons to enjoy at the Tuileries garden. Whatever it is, people seem to keep wanting to come back to the most romantic city in the world. I on the other hand, would have no idea; for you see I have never been to Paris, or Europe for that matter, so needless to say I was pretty stoked to be spending Christmas in Paris. The best thing about planning a trip is the anticipation built up from the research and planning, but the worst thing about a trip is dreading the long haul flight #firstworldproblems (23 hours on a plane people!). Fortunately I watched some pretty excellent movies on the plane, most of which revolved around the concept of food, probably not a coincidence. Two of the movies I recommend watching are The Hundred Foot Journey and The Lunchbox.
I had decided to go the Airbnb route and rent out a little apartment for 6 days in the heart of the Marais, which is filled with fashion boutiques, galleries and museums, and life changing felafel, perfect for the creative type really. There is no doubt that Paris is a busy city, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting up early every morning, where I did the obligatory thing and bought a fresh croissant and baguette from the boulangerie and had it for breakfast every day.
There is a certain serenity to opening your apartment door and letting the fresh 2 degrees celsius air give you a morning greeting before wandering down side streets and seeing the city start it’s day as the sun sleepily rises to cast it’s warm rays over historic buildings and cobblestone streets.
A short walk from where I was staying there is a street Rue du Pont Louis Philippe and it is nicknamed the “paper street” because it has several stationery and paper boutiques, HEAVEN!
Window display at Melodies Graphique, it was really nice to walk in to a shop and see people buying beautiful stationery and recognising the art of a handwritten letter is not all forgotten.
On my first night in Paris I went to visit Musee du Louvre, and I honestly didn’t have my hopes up, I expected it to be super crowded and frustrating, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a relatively short queue outside the glass pyramid, no more than a 15 minute wait, so I decided to stand in line rather than go to the less crowded alternative entrances. All my preconceived ideas about the Louvre went out the window as I wandered through the wings seeing the most stunning artworks and sculptures in real life, I think the grand epicness of the architecture really added to the experience. I wont bore you with pictures of the Mona Lisa, but instead tell you about Abraham Mignon, whose works I particularly enjoyed, I mean who doesn’t love paintings of flowers and dead things?
Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters, Unkown Artist, circa 1594
What they say about the French is true.
They have amazing cakes and patisseries!
I ate at Angelina not once, not twice but three times. I have zero regrets, cake is amazing. I also tried the famous 8 euro hot chocolate, but I personally fancied the Joséphine which consists of a crunchy crumble biscuit raspberry compote and a chou bun filled with smooth Madagascar vanilla cream. Salivating yet?
For the record what they say about the French is also NOT true. Parisians in particular have a reputation for being snooty and waiters notorious for being nonchalant and rude. Not once did I encounter rudeness from the french, in fact many went out of their way to help translate French only menus, offer free coffee, offer up a metro seat to allow my travel companion and I to sit together and very polite and helpful shop assistants.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower is one of those ‘must do’ touristy things on your first visit to Paris, you have to see the iconic building that is the quintessential symbol of Paree. I was not interested in climbing to the top, but it was a beautiful day to do so, as it was perfect blue skies but it was absolutely freezing even wearing thermals, double knit, insulated coat, gloves, beanie, scarf and the whole shebang. I took a few happy snaps and quickly made my way to find somewhere warm and fill my tummy. Luckily I found Cafe Constant and had a delicious heartwarming beef stew.
Books and prints for sale along the Seine.
The Musée d’Orsay museum is actually the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900, It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, so this is where you go to get your fix of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh and the like.
Paris is such a compact city where you can literally walk to and see all the major sites, so after visiting Musée d’Orsay I only had to take a short walk to the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens to get to The Musée de l’Orangerie, and much like d’Orsay it houses a large selection of impressionist and post-impressionist works, and although the museum is pint sized, I enjoyed this museum more because I felt it was more focused, and lets face it, everyone comes here to see the soothing 8 Water Lilies murals (or Nymphéas) by Claude Monet.
One of the places I’ve had on my radar to try in Paris was Au Passage, I believe it was opened by an Australian Chef, and it is a modern French restaurant with small sharing plates. The restaurant is situated in the 11th arrondissement, and after getting lost a few times we finally saw a glowing light tucked in an alleyway. It is a small space, so it is wise to make reservations, and upon entering I was greeted and directed to a little table that was waiting for me in the corner; perfect for people watching and a nice place to sit and have a nibble with the buzzing room of locals all having a glass of wine and enjoying some good food and good company, and that’s what it’s all about.
I’m not going to lie, I admit I was really excited about the shopping prospects in Paris and Galeries Lafayette did not disappoint. It is a bit of a bank-breaker destination, but even if you don’t intend on buying anything it is worth coming to see the amazing rooftop view of Paris on the top floor of the building, and the stained glass dome.
On my last day in Paris I had planned a day trip to Chateau de Versailles, which is a 40 minute train trip out of central Paris. I arrived at 10:30am which was later than I had originally planned, but I thought at least I had pre-purchased tickets online first. Upon arrival to the palace gates nothing could have prepared me for the sea of people that stood in front of me. I ended up standing in a single line for 3 hours before I got in if that gives you an indication of how busy it was.
When I finally made it in I made a beeline for Angelina, because I deserved cake after standing in line in the cold for 3 hours (any excuse is a good excuse for cake.) When I did finally wander out in to the gardens it was quite a spectacular site. I visited in the dead of Winter which means all the trees were bare, but the pure landscaping and geometry of the gardens creating a very relaxing atmosphere, and I do enjoy topiary, who doesn’t like trees cut in to random shapes?
Alas it was time to leave Paris, 6 days was hardly enough, I felt like I left this beautiful city unfinished and only just scraping the surface of what it has to offer, I guess this is why everyone keeps coming back, and I certainly will be, even if it means another 23 hour flight.
Next stop… Munich, Germany!