Friday, 20 June 2014

Our unexpected 15h-trip to the Caribbean

Wenn einer eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzählen. (M. Claudius, 1786)

(Translated from German: When someone goes on a journey, then he will surely have something to talk about afterwards.) How true is this traditional German poem that my grandmother immediately cited after we told her about our crazy transatlantic trip.

It was a very ordinary start into our trip to Germany. After our 12h coach night drive on Aguia Branca to Salvador, we had a large breakfast at the Salvador rodoviaria (central coach station) and then took one of the airport transfer coaches straight to the airport. Strolling around the shops, we then did the usual lunch, check in at the (hugest Condor) waiting line (of all times) et cetera until getting to the gate where we sat down to wait for boarding time. We would be waiting quite some time though. Although we were already used to waiting 30-45 min more for boarding, we all got a little bit antsy when no information got through to us about reasons for the delay. Discussions started, rumours about some technical errors went around and some people almost started a fight at the entrance asking for food and water, especially people with little children and babies probably did not have the most brilliant of times.

Till then, still pretty normal, given that the local police strike had just caused major chaos in the city a few days before, so we were not really alarmed yet.

Then, after about 2,5-3 hours, we were asked to get on board. Happy to finally get our long awaited dinner (thank god we had had huge lunch meals as well as snacks before), we boarded the plane, got our stuff in order and sat down. Then the pilot talked to us, he wanted to explain a few details so we thought, oh that s nice, he ll finally tell us what went wrong. I won t bore you with details about some false technical software error message of the left wing of the plane and communication-translation failures between the computing-tech team of the Condor but in the end, the captain had some more important information to get through....

"Please open page xy, you'll be able to see a world map there." (WTH?) OK, from that moment on, I and probably most (German speaking) passengers knew that we would not be flying to Germany that night. Poor English and Portuguese speaking people who had to wait the WHOLE explaining time in between as the pilot first spoke about the circumstances in German, then English and then one of the stewards translated the story into Portuguese. Long story short: Due to law, a plane even though experiencing a false technical error message, when being delayed more than 4 (or 5?) hours is not allowed to be away from an emergency landing possibility than 100km (or so). Meaning the more than 9000km journey across the atlantic was not possible anymore. Our emergency diversion lead us to:

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Great German supermarket product/price comparison site

Last October I talked about a UK/US supermarket comparison site called http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ (UK version) that enables you to paralelly compare the total sum of your shopping with each individual supermarket taking part in the list and puts the cheapest of the supermarkets on top as soon as the sum of your shopping basket changes with a cheaper new product.

Now I stumbled over a similar German site called http://www.supermarktcheck.de/ - it does not compare whole baskets, as far as I found out it only compares single products so it takes a bit more work to figure out the basket for each single. Another feature of the site is that you can either search for 1st option: How much?, 2nd for: Buy where?, 3rd: How many calories?, 4th quality check? and finally 5th: How much will I save buying the shop's version of the product?

A neat site which surely could highly progress by offering a similar "basket comparison" option as the UK and US comparison sites.



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cutting my long hair - from tailbone length to waist length



After: Waist length
Before: Tailbone/hip length
Yes, for those who know my love for very long hair, it might be surprising news, but I finally decided to cut my hair from tailbone/hip length to waist length.

I felt like it got too heavy for my rather petite body structure and I had several serious neck issues, especially after washing it. It might be part stress, but I believe it is mainly due to the weight of my hair, which got thicker in the last few years after changing my hair routine.

Front view
I also had to give up not drying it with a hairdryer, every time I would let it dry by itself I could be sure to have a totally stiff neck the next morning. Nothing you wish to experience more than once, especially not after EVERY freaking hair wash.... So, I guess here in Europe, especially in Germany, I will have to rely on my hairdryer unfortunately.

So, there you go, my new hair cut - as always cut at home - my head and hair have not seen a hair stylist for more than 5 years now and I really don't miss the (at most times disappointing) experience ;)

Side view

Castles in Germany: Altes Schloss Hohenbaden & castle restaurant

Any castle fans here? Planning a trip to Europe any time soon? Well, congratulations, you are coming to the right place, Germany is the hotspot for all castle and middle-age fanatics!

This time I took my London friends to the Altes Schloss Hohenbaden, the Old Castle in Baden-Baden. It is part intact, part restored ruins and a very mysterious yet romantic spot.

As part of its history, it has (like most castles) lots of stories, including the legend of The Grey Lady: 
A countess famous for supressing the population and only worried about herself. Always asking for hard labour and high tax, and those who dared to resist, were promptly thrown into the dark and damp dungeon of the castles, where in worst case scenario followed physical torture.

One evening, she took her only baby son up to the top of the highest tower. Looking down on her kingdom, she held her son far over the stone window ledge and sneered: "Look and count all the villages, spots and farms! They are endless. As far as your eye can reach, all people have to bow and scrape to you. Force them under your knout and don't give them rest, thus you will live well on earth!"

But the moment the lady finished her cruel speech, the baby boy slipped through her hands and fell down into the deep darkness. Pale as death the lady rushed down the stairs to look for her son. Although she forced her servants to look for her child day and night, the boy was never found.

So since this incident, the legend says that the crual countess is running down the stairs of the castle on stormy days and when you listen well, you can hear her shrill voice being carried in the hoarse winds through the narrow corridors of the castles.

Me having some delicious moca tart
Got some goose bumps? hehe.... My friends indeed felt some shiver, especially with the wind harp close by, which claims to be the biggest in Europe.... We then decided that we had earned some rest and headed for some coffee and cake in the castle's own restaurant, I had some amazing moca tart and my friends both had fruit cakes, very yummy! Here the Castle Restaurant Menu.











Here some more pictures of the wind harp and beautiful sights of the mysterious, romantic castle:

Sunday, 25 May 2014

One of Germany's most romantic, hidden gems: The enchanting Geroldsauer Waterfalls & Bütthof restaurant

My favourite romantic spot:
The Geroldsauer Waterfalls
So as I mentioned in my last post, I spend one beautiful day in May hiking up the enchanting Geroldsauer Waterfalls, together with the prince of sun, dance girl and holiday girl.

The weather was quite moody so after arriving a little bit later than planned due to the sheer impossibility to find any directions pointing towards the waterfalls, we finally asked our way through (even though we had to ask about 4 times, and one group of ladies were Russian grannies who did not speak any German, Baden-Baden is quite a favourite spot for Russians in general).

Getting there about 45min later than intended, we arrived just in time for a midday snack, so we thought. Hiking up the waterfall paths, we quickly found ourselves starving and ready for lunch, so we were very pleased when we realized that the nearby forest restaurant Waldgaststätte Bütthof was only about 5min away by foot so we were quickly speeding up and saw the pretty Landhaus style restaurant and its own grown Irish buffelos (?) already from far.

The prince of sun ordered the buffelo steak dish and I tried a bit, it was very soft and delicious (although I have to admit that I felt a bit guilty as they were peacefully munching along just about 100m away from us..... We all had a huge plate filled up with delicious, traditional Badener food, the girls tried out the "German sausage and fried potato salad" (Wurstsalat mit Bratkartoffeln, please try and imagine something different than some lettuce, chips and a sausage cut in pieces :D, below some pictures for further illustration). Your love, your friends, beautiful landscape, a beautiful restaurant plus nice waitress and amazing food, cannot get better than that, can it?

The forest restaurant Waldgaststätte Bütthof 

Check out this quick youtube video of the Geroldsauer waterfalls (the music is lovely as well!):

Mannas Zappan - Organic soap bars from Hungary

Mannas Zappan Soap Bars & Dresdner Essence relax bath
I had to write about one of my latest obsessions... but first things first: A few weeks ago, my London friends dance girl and holiday girl came to visit me here in Germany for a weekend. Spending our days eating out and sightseeing around the Baden-Baden and Alsace regions and hiking up the enchanting Geroldsauer Waterfalls, we actually spent our first 1h together just exchanging presents <3

One of the presents holiday girl gave to me was a wonderful collection of organic body, face and hair soap bars that she ordered from a supplier in Hungary. The brand is called Mannas Zappan and the products were originally made by a mum that got frustrated with available body care products. Mainly due to her children's allergies, she felt that common products did not work with her family and created their own original organic products: the soap(bar)s are all natural and organic, the ones I received in my collection, have an intense and earthy perfume, each of them has its distinct smell that gets you quite quick. All lather fantastically (for those who miss the lather in other organic soaps), probably due to the coconut soap that most of the soaps contain. I tried them out today (yes, all of them at once :D, I just could not resist) after having a wonderful muscle relax bath using the Dresdner Essenz Muskellockerungsbad. (Got to spoil yourself from time to time, don't ya?!)
My collection of
Mannas Zappan soap bars

On the left a few pictures of the soap bars, here a quick translation of each soap type (no guarantee though, it has been with the google translator ;)

On the upper left, a body soap bar with cinnamon and coconut, it says something like good for maintaining firm skin. Yummy it is for sure!

On the lower left in light green, the shampoo soap bar of my collection, I absolutely loved my hair - I tend to have normal, rather dry hair and often have an electricity thing going on just after drying them, but this shampoo soap really helped avoiding the static state. It smells a bit citrussy and I suspect another green ingredient here:

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Quick "Digestive" Cinnamon Oat biscuits - Easy recipe & basic ingredients

Today afternoon I was working and patiently concentrating on solving some $%# issues when I suddenly felt THE most urgent desire to have some digestive oats biscuits. Now, those who have never had them (most people living in the UK have probably come across a sort during one of their shopping trips), it is simple oats biscuits/cookies, nothing makes them more digestive than other sorts :D But I guess it did the trick for me somehow and I ADORED them, definitely one of my clear favourites of English biscuits. Especially the ginger oat biscuits, omg...

The thing is - I am NOT in London or the UK at the moment, so how on earth could I satisfy my desire? I almost immediately decided that today was the DIGESTIVE trial, my first attempt to make proper oats biscuits.

And THANK GOD, they turned out almost identical in taste, if not a bit better as I did not use as much sugar and additives as they probably use in their factory biscuits. The ingredients list of my recipe of cinnamon oats biscuits is reaaally simple, I would even claim that almost everyone has the necessary ingredients at home:

Ingredients: (makes +/-25 medium sized biscuits)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Trip to Germany & Berlin coming closer! PLUS Information on Aguia-Branca, MeinFernbus & Condor luggage allowance

Since Dezember, I am planning my next Trip to Germany and Berlin! YAY!!! This time together with the prince of sun <3 Now there are only about three weeks left, OMG, so excited =)

I am going to visit my friend Berlin girl at her place in Potsdam, do Berlin sightseeing (and shopping) with the prince and her and we will even do a short day trip to Warnemuende, a seaside resort and former fishing village situated on the Ostsee, Baltic Sea in the North-Eastern part of Germany, close to Rostock. I am really looking forward to showing the prince an authentic German beach and sea as well as traditions and his first, ever dunes (and dune rabbits!). (He does not know about the day trip, so.... cannot wait to see his face when he suddenly stands in front of the beach and sea, he thinks we are only going to visit Berlin and Potsdam, no word from me or Berlin girl about the trip or destination hehe....

Castle beauties - Fantasy vs Reality 
There is more, my family and I are planning to go on many castle trips, at least 4 different ones, one will be the Hohenbaden Castle, one castle near Gengenbach (forgot the name, I have to research some more...) plus the beautiful Hohenzollern Castle (those three are all located at less than 2h by car from my parents' place) and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle (the one that Disney used as a template for their dream castle) (located more or less 4h by car from my parents' place).

And as a cream-top for my holiday cake of wonders, two of my dear London friends, holiday girl and dance girl, are coming over for a weekend trip, none of them have been to Germany so I am thrilled to introduce them to our wonderful culture, delicious hearty German food, relaxing Roman bath-spa, breath-taking waterfalls.... *_* so excited!

So, other than that I have been planning to take lots of books and have made some packing lists (what to pack in Brazil), German-culture-related items (especially German children s books and items), shopping lists, Berlin packing list, Berlin to-do list, Berlin shopping list, my region's to do list, home-trip packing list.... I did mention that I love making lists... haha....

I mentioned some of our travel companies during my Europe trip last year already, I actually used the same companies as we do this time, but now I'll explain the baggage allowances for each company in detail.

So here you go, here more about each company we are travelling with:

Our first travel company is a Brazilian coach company called

Aguia Branca - 12h night bus from Porto Seguro to Salvador
-one suitcase of 30kg (to be stored in the luggage department of the bus)
-no exact restrictions for hand luggage

Last time I travelled with them, I only had one hand luggage (the carry on size), but most people travelling with me on the bus had a carry on plus normal handbags plus enormous plastic bags with them so I am quite optimistic that they are pretty generous with hand luggage taken on the bus with you (as long as you can fit it into the relatively generous space in front of you).

Arriving at the bus station in Salvador the next morning, we will take one of the local buses to the international airport in Salvador, where we will catch our flights in the afternoon, we are flying with

CONDOR, 10h over-night transatlantic flight from Salvador to Frankfurt
-2 suitcases of 32kg each (yes, you are reading right here *_*)
-hand luggage=carry on of 6kg
-1 laptop bag plus laptop
-1 small handbag
-umbrella

Isn t that just a dream....! Let's get that straight.
Proper 64 kg checked luggage. 6kg carry on. Total: A whopping 70kg. Not counting the handbag and laptop bag stuff!!! AAAAND the prince and I are travelling together. Each of us has those allowances, making it official:  140kg. Plus content of two small (hand)bags & notebook bags *_*

Right, last trip to Berlin, we will probably leave most of my stuff at my parents' place when we leave for Berlin and only take one suitcase and backpack with us, so our last company mentioned is

MeinFernbus, 10h daytime coach trip from Karlsruhe to Berlin
Our luggage planning

-2 suitcases of each 20kg
-hand luggage of 15kg

Whopping, isn t it!

I know now you'll ask me how I will ever be able to get my luggage sorted with so many different luggage restrictions.

Keep calm and... read on ;)

Love parcels: If I were a little bird and had 2 little wings, I'd fly to you!

Today I had two sweet surprises waiting for me at my doorstep.

One was literally sweet: A parcel from my lovely mum <3 full of goodies, delicious, sweet forest fruit tea (that I am slurping right now) as well green tea and as other sorts, loads of beautiful poems, songs and prayers as well as the invitation to my cousin's wedding and some cheerful baloons. =) My dear mum always manages to surprise me over and over again with new ideas and beautiful memories of my childhood and favourite childhood songs as well as showing me new poetry and in general re-inventing life and love the whole time.

The poem that touched me most was my alltime favourite little bird song (shown on the postcard in the middle picturing a young woman with a looong braid sitting under a try, being thoughtful and observing little birds flying around. The only colour aspect of the picture is a tiny heart on the bottom <3 so beautiful! *_*).

The poem says:                                                     (this old-style-German poem translates to something like:

"Wenn ich ein Voeglein waer,                                If I were a little bird  
 und auch zwei Flueglein haett,                               and had two little wings,    
floeg ich zu dir.                                                      I'd fly to you!
Weils aber nicht kann sein,                                    But as it cannot be,
weils aber nicht kann sein,                                     but as it cannot be,
bleib ich all hier!"                                                   I'll have to stay right here!).

She has also sent me loads of beautiful poems by Rudolf Alexander Schroeder, which I will come back to in a minute =) By the way, my mum had sent some cosmetics as well, but those errr got lost on the way somehow - we will never know where, right, aehem....


The second nice surprise was a traditional postcard from my friend law girl who is doing her LLM, master of law, in San Francisco and has sent her lovely lines over. It is the first postcard that actually arrived, she had sent one from New York once that got lost in the nirvana of international air mail =) So happy it arrived this time hun! <3 And who knows maybe the Brazilian mail will be getting better and better each, paying a bit more to their staff resulting in more reliable work force resulting in better service offered to the public!

(So yes, just need to work on that 'stuff disappearing'-issue, but we'll get there right, as we say in Germany: Es ist noch nie ein Meister vom Himmel gefallen = It never happened that a master fell from the sky., meaning we all continue learning and perfecting what we do...

And now, as promised before, here some of the beautiful poems by Rudolf Alexander Schroeder:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Good hair, bad hair and our world`s fear of gray/white hair & Update on hair cut

Just as anyone else on our dear planet, I have been confronted with hair issues during all my life. Any kind of it really. But today let`s only talk about our precious tresses!

Starting at teenager age, I had just decided to let my hair grow and quickly learned that the hair business is not as simple as it seems. I was quickly told that my hair was not thick enough to be grown long or that it had too many split ends and needed 3cm to be cut and after some time, it was suggested that I also do something about my rather boring hair colour. Insecure as those teenagers are, my colouring routine started at about 16 ranging from dark blue-black to chocolate-red-brown and went on until I was about 23 ending with indigo-and-henna-dark-red-brown. (I love how literal you can see the expression DYING HAIR. right!?....) Seven long years of dying my hair. Seven long years of horrible chemical substances eating into my scalp and flowing down my poor vains. And at about 20 years of age, the first grays started to appear. So as soon as I realized that those grays were appearing, I was pretty much condemned to colour my hair forever. So I was told. By the media, TV ads, magazines, some of my family (except my mum who herself has the most beautiful gray-streaked tresses herself since her late 20s/early 30s <3), friends, and finally after enough brain washing, by myself. Getting grays in such a young age, dreadful!

Well, during those 7 years, my routine was quite simple compared to what other people do, I had a shampoo and conditioner (silicone loaden of course), some loreal and fructis and such. Plus one finishing cream for shiny and non-frizzy hair. Plus some hairbrushes (in 4-5x daily use), hair dryer (about every 3 days when washing my hair) and a small set of flat ironer, curler etc (which I used at the age of 22-23, maybe 10x or less in total before changing my routine radically). I coloured my hair about every 3-4 months, sometimes later and went to cut it about every 4-6 months. I was pretty low maintenance most of the time, already before changing my routine, some might say now.

New hair cut:
Shorter front hair on March 2014
Wake-up-hair ;)
Then, about 4 years ago, I started researching about product content and general (beauty=) health related issues as well as going through some personal growth and changes in attitude and how I viewed myself and everything around me and totally stopped EVERYTHING I did before. I went through a lot of different stages (like trying out the no-poo-movement and such) and then finally decided to let my true hair/hair colour shine (and sometimes bounce) again =)

general length the same,
kept at hip length
And I have not looked back ever since. I did go back to shampooing due to my sensitive scalp, no other products such as spray or such, a very mild shampoo version (see my hair routine for more information) (most of my shampoos are Alverde) and wash my hair about once a week now. I brush it once (sometimes twice) a day, mostly in the evening, sometimes in the morning, but here in Brazil I have it up in a bun for most of the daylight (HOT) hours as it is really too hot for having hair longer than your ears ;) I have it down in the late afternoon and evening hours as well as when sleeping, I just throw it over the pillow and wake up with my octopus hair almost strangling me ;) I have tried sleeping with buns and braids during almost 3 years. But it is just not the same comfort and now that my hair is long and heavy enough, I just keep it over my pillow for most of the night and from time to time, throw it back into its off-pillow position when it gets into my face after tossing around too much and have to grab it from under the prince of sun`s head haha.... oh well ;) since changing my routine, my hair shows that it too has its moods. Sometimes it is very wavy and almost curly, sometimes it is almost sleek with just really slight waves.... it probably just depends on my current state of mind haha..... one thing that I noticed though is that the longer I go between washes, the easier it goes to the wavy-curly state. I do love combing my hair and letting the curls (that appear at the ends mostly) bounce around for a bit.

Side view of new shorter front section
I also cut it myself (straight across mainly, at hip length), a few weeks ago I decided to cut some of my front hair as my hair was getting too heavy for my taste and finally had the courage to cut about 3 hands of length! But I love it, the rest of my hair is still hip length, it is lighter and the front section lies in a soft wave next my face.

My beautiful glitter-whites in the sun <3
Now about the gray hair/white hair issue: I LOVE my white hair which distributes in layers and fine glitter-lines throughout my head, but mostly at the front sections and I get so many questions who coloured my hair and did the delicate light-blond highlights and that it looks sooo nice and natural and shines like little stars glittering in the sun, especially the front highlights sections... and how I managed that sometimes only a few hairs are highlighted and not streaks of hair, really SINGLE hairs. I always answer that my hair dresser is called god and that he is a real genius in making me perfectly look exactly how I am supposed to be, combining my hair colours and structure exactly to how it best combines with my natural skin, cheek and lip colour :D

I get strange looks then, some pauses and deep thinking periods and some ask: