Thursday, March 15, 2018

Guided Tour in Einsiedeln (Switzerland)

Last Saturday I tried something new: I organized a guided tour for a couple of my friends.
Usually, when I have an idea of some place I want to visit, I go there alone or ask one friend to accompany me. With this idea though, one friend wouldn't have been enough...

I had heard of this guided tour of the Einsiedeln monastery done by one of their monks. I had wanted to book up for such a tour for quite some time now but the problem was that the monks only do this for groups (of 15 or of 30). In addition, the tour has to be booked well in advance.
One day (I wonder why I hadn't thought of it earlier?) I knew exactly how I'd be able to go on such a guided tour. I'd organize a tour for friends and acquaintances who'd be interested in knowing more about the church of Einsiedeln and in visiting the library as well. Like many monasteries, Einsiedeln has quite an impressive library. It isn't open to the public though. You can visit only with a guide.
No sooner thought than done (to my amazement!), 12 people were thrilled and happy to come along with me.

We had a wonderful tour (it lasts about 90 minutes). Einsiedeln is a power place, the church is amazing in all its barock abundance (the pink stucco work is really breathtaking!). The monk's explanations were interesting and I could spend days in their library, discovering their treasures. I'd recommend it!

My friends were enthusiastic about the tour and some of them urged me to come up with new ideas. And you know what? Why not? Let's see what other ideas pop up :-)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Turning Fifty

I am turning fifty (yes: five zero!!) in September. I can't believe it! And I don't mean it as in "oh my, I hate getting older". No, it's more something along the lines of "where the hell has time gone?".

When I was in my twenties, I never thought about getting older (what normal 20 something does that anyway??). It was something for the (oh so far away) future! Something I'd deal with once I'd become an adult. And for the 20 something Me being an "adult" meant that I would have "reached the target" (not more defined, obviously... hahaha). I'd be someone who'd knew exactly who she was and that would be it. I'd wear my adult coat and never take it off again.

Hilarious, don't you think? Who I am today has nothing to do with what my 20 something Me thought I'd be. Still not "found it". Still not arrived. Still no life's target ... besides living every day at its fullest (or at least try my best!).
It's so much cooler than I'd ever thought it'd be! I am zen. My brain waves are not in permanent state of agitation. My inner voice guides me through the ups and downs of my life. I know my strength and my shortcomings.

In some ways though I really have "arrived" but in many others there is still so much to discover, so many new paths to walk on, people to meet.
What helped a great deal all along this wonderful journey so far is that my happiness never depended on the "outside Me". At one point along the way my hair turned gray. Wrinkles became part of my skin. Age spots as well. C'est la vie. It's certainly not important because, to say it with other's words:

Friday, March 9, 2018

March Wish

February has been a more quiet month. March's energy though seems different to me. It bubbles all around me (reason why I chose this picture of a Yellowstone National Park geysers!).
It's time to express ourselves :-)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Copenhagen ... Some More Pictures

the colors!

Art Nouveau all over

Art Nouveau ... again

Radhuspladsen (City Hall square)

more Nyhaven

harbor tour

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Getting Lost in Copenhagen

I am normally pretty good at getting around new places. I have a good sense of direction, not to gloat or so, but I rarely get lost and if I do, I
a) never mind because I get to discover places I wouldn't have otherwise and
b) I always find my way back because I am pretty good at reading maps.
I said normally, right? Well, because in Copenhagen my sense of direction wasn't with me :-) It was hilarious. I got lost so many times and I mean really lost, like walking in the opposite direction kind of lost!

Venice was the mother of all places to get lost all the time
Like when I was looking for the Little Mermaid (which, BTW, was a bit disappointing because the mermaid is REALLY little haha). You should have seen me walking right and left, forward and back again, around the corner and back again etc. (in the freezing cold, obviously, with no people to ask for directions). I had almost given up hope (I was already writing a post in my head ... a funny post about how I was the only person on earth not having visited the little mermaid in Copenhagen because I couldn't find her. hahaha) when I finally saw some people walking through a fence (there was a door that I hadn't spotted before). I decided to give it a try and there she was, the (literal) Little Mermaid!

Or the day I decided to start my day by visiting the National Museum. After studying my map, I walked out of my hotel and turned right. The museum was supposed to be 3 blocks away. I walked and walked and walked (in the freezing cold, obviously) but no museum. No sign either. I asked for directions and she pointed in the direction I just came from. Oh my. How was this even possible? How could I walk right instead of left AFTER having studied my map? How?? Honestly, at that time I had given up finding reasons for my getting lost all the time.
It was what it was (and I knew then I'd be writing this post!).
Copenhagen will be the exception that proves the rule for my sense of direction!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Copenhagen ... Some Thoughts

I spent a couple of nice days in Copenhagen ... and I was grateful that it didn't rain nor snow (I am lucky to have chosen the weekend I did because if I had chosen this weekend with the artic temperatures all over Europe? Oh my, that would have been tough!).

Honestly speaking though (and you know me, I always try to be honest! haha) Copenhagen and I ... well, it wasn't love at first sight. Nor at second or third or fourth sight. I liked it but it wasn't a place of my heart. You know what I'm talking about. There are places you visit that just kind of speak to you. You feel at home. You want to soak it up. You want to come back.
It wasn't like that for me in Copenhagen. I liked it. The old town was cute. People were friendly. The museums nice. I liked walking the streets and the harbor tour.
No heart palpitations though.
Cute and like is not LOVE.

Some friends commented that maybe the reason for my ... mmh, how to call it? Maybe ... my remaining unaffected? Unresponsive? Anyway. Friends commented that maybe it had something to do with the fact that I visited during wintertime. Places have another vibe during summertime when the streets and piazzas are full of life.
Well, maybe.
But maybe not. If that were the case I would simply want to go back during summertime. It isn't the case though. No, I simply believe that not all places on this earth talk to you. I don't regret visiting though. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed myself and it was a great weekend. It's just that I don't want to go back. Even though I still want to visit the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Oh yes, very much so (I saw some fantastic landscapes from the plane!).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Copenhagen ... Some (first) Pictures

The colorful houses of Nyhavn

I loved the houses!

Fredrikskirke (Frederik's Church)


Glyptotek's courtyard

Glyptotek museum

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Copenhagen ... I'm Coming to Visit You

It's almost time to jump on the plane to Copenhagen. It's gonna be a different kind of trip, I don't know why I say this, It's just... well you know, a hunch or something. It starts with the weather forecast: temperatures around 3/4 degrees and on Sunday it'll (probably) snow (or rain). I'll see what it's gonna be but I can't wait to find out :-)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ever Thought about Traveling to Norway?

Norway and other Northern European countries were never items of my travel bucket list. When thinking of Northern Europe my mind always went to how expensive everything was, to cold and rainy weather, short, dark days vs. never-ending days, mosquitoes. And as there are so many other destinations around the world that I haven't visited yet, Northern Europe was ignored. At least until recently when I picked Copenhagen for a short trip in February. I decided it was time to see for myself. It was time for a first impression of the North.

Then, simultaneously, I did some research on Norway as a favor to a friend of mine. She was thinking about visiting her husband's cousin in Oslo and maybe see some other places not far away from Oslo but she felt a bit overwhelmed about the whole thing. She simply didn't know where to start.
I suggested to do some "overall research" for her, in order to get a rough idea.
A win-win situation. She was thankful and I was happy because I love doing research on places I don't know.

Oslo was the first surprise. Architecturally speaking it wasn't love at first sight. But the museums were. I don't know much about the Vikings but looking up the Polar Ship Museum or the Viking Ship Museum made me wanna go there at once and learn more about their culture!
Train journeys came next. You know that I love traveling by train and Norway has some quite spectacular train journeys to offer. Oslo - Bergen being one. Oslo - Trondheim another. Or going from Myrdal to Flam (read what others have to say about this journey). To be continued almost ad infinitum.
And wanna talk about the fjords? The national parks? I didn't look up other places like the Lofoten Islands (just to mention one of many places to visit) because my friend and her family will spent only one week in Norway. I limited my research accordingly.
Even so. Norway is now on my bucket list under "Travels in June".

Thursday, February 8, 2018

February Wish

In a world where noise seems to become stronger every minute, I wish for quiet and still moments. The best ideas are born in moments of quietness ... at least for me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Saturday Escape to Colmar

Even though I'll be off to Copenhagen in a couple of weeks, I needed me some escape in the meantime and decided to go to Colmar. You know, from time to time I feel the need "to experience myself differently" (see favorite words on the right!). And as I am lucky enough to live in the middle of Europe, I can be off to wonderful (and different) places within a couple of hours.
Breathing in French air. Eating French food. Speaking French.
Que la vie est belle!
I usually go there during summer time because Colmar has a particular charme with all its flowers...

... and then there all the cafés and restaurants where you can sit outside and do some serious people-watching (hahaha).
Colmar in February though has its own particular charm. Less people. You focus more on the food you eat instead of the people that walk by (hahaha - yes, I admit it. I love people-watching!) and you get to see the inside of the cosy cafés (to have coffee and cake). Alsatians are good at interior decoration, let me tell you.
It's a wonderful charming little town and spending some time there did me good.

This is a window BTW :-)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Next Travel Plans

Travel plans, sometimes, are just that: plans (remember this post?)

My planned road trips were cancelled/postponed due to money spent otherwise.

I got to visit my family in Italy though but haven't been anywhere near the Conero region ... well, because I got the flu, lost my voice for a couple of days, it rained a lot and ... oh well, you get it. Next time :-)

Vienna was another idea of mine. Traveling with my miles. Oh yes, what a nice idea ... at least until ... it turned out that I haven't enough miles on my account for a flight to Vienna (who would have thought that Vienna "cost" so many miles?? crazy). The hotel prices were sobering as well.
I got it. No Vienna (at least not right now).
Where to go instead?
Copenhagen came to my mind. Again and again. I did some quick research and really, why the hell not?
I booked a flight with (half) of my miles, found a nice hotel and so, here I am ... off to Copenhagen in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Eating Habits

Back in my twenties or even my thirties, I never talked or thought much about eating habits. I have been overweight all my life ... sometimes more so, sometimes less so ... therefore, if I thought about food it was always about the quantity, not the quality.

That has changed in the meantime.
I believe I am not the only one, am I? Many of us are more aware of the food we eat. Where the meat or the fish we eat comes from. We became aware of the sugar the food industry puts into the stuff they sell us. Not to mention the sodium and other abhorrent stuff!
Some of us became vegan, others vegetarian, others, like me, became just more aware of what they eat.
Obviously this new awareness has also something to do with what happens on our planet. We read about the plastic in our water. We read about abused animals or about meat that is full of antibiotic. We read about how they breed the chicken or the fish. Not a reading pleasure, I'm afraid, more an eye-opening kind of experience.

My personal eye-opening moment took place the day I realized that after each lunch I ate (restaurant or take-away) I suffered from flatulence ... followed by strong cravings for sugar. I never questioned my daily discomfort. It was what it was ... until the day I decided I had had enough.
I started to cook my own meals (real cooking, no deep-frozen or ready-cooked stuff) and ate the leftovers in the office the day after.
The relief was immediate. No flatulence. No sugar cravings.
It was amazing.
I decided to go on cooking my own food and more so, I started to change my eating and drinking habits. Slowly. One habit after the other.

No more soft drinks as a start. Not that I ever drank many of them, but I realized that the amount of sugar in even one of the drinks was too much. After I read the ingredients list of the light products I quit those as well. Water or unsweetened tea for me now. And a coffee for breakfast (that I CANNOT be without). Sugar in form of dessert (I have a sweet tooth!) was the next change. Less is more became my motto and nowadays, I indulge in dessert only from time to time and when I do, it feels like Christmas and my birthday combined.
*****Astonishing fact: the less sugar I eat, the less cravings for dessert I have!*********
Home-baked bread was next on my list, followed by less and less meat on my menu. Then, at the end of last year, I decided to forgo eating fish ... because
a) our seas are overfished and I don't want to help with that. And
b) the fish we find in our supermarkets come from places like Vietnam. I have nothing against fisherman in Vietnam or about Vietnam (how could I???) but the question was: do I really need to eat something that comes from sooo far away? I decided that I do not.

I am still overweight (I'm actually in what I call my less period).
I am certainly no health nut.
And I don't go around preaching the truth (oh no, I don't like those who do at all!!).

It's just that, honestly, I feel better. I am overweight but my body is strong (my yoga practice certainly has a say in that matter!). My digestion is flawless. No more headaches.
I came to term with my (overweight) body. That's something I honestly had never ever ever ever thought possible. Believe me. My kilos have been part of who I (didn't really want to be) all of my life. The kilos are still there but it's different now. It feels different. I like who I am. I like this strong and soft at once body of mine. Curves and muscles. I still like to eat, very much so, but these days it's more about the quality then the quantity.

PS: I am having a #beingthankful moment!

Sunday, January 14, 2018


I had the flu, these last couple of days, and some days I even went without being able to speak (for someone like me? Not easy at all hahaha). Anyway. I started my 2018 yoga practice thinking that I was doing okay again ... at least until the Shavasana (relaxation at the end of every yoga practice). I lay down ... and there went my cough attack.
Do you know the feeling? Coughs when you shouldn't be coughing (like during a concert or a lecture??)
On the other hand, Shavasana is all about NOT getting sidetracked by anything going on the outside of yourself and your breath. Right? SMILE
Well, you'd have to asked the other in my class ... haha. I am not sure they'd agree with me BRIGHTER SMILE

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January Wish

With this picture and these words I am starting a new series called #monthlywishesfor2018. I thought of it yesterday evening while attending a lecture of an astrologer (astrologer, yes, you read correctly hahaha. I decided that in 2018 I wanted to broaden my horizon by attending more lectures and go to more concerts!).
The astrologer was telling us about 2018 and how the constellations will influence our year.
You don't believe in constellations or astrology?
Well, I understand but bear with me for a minute and keep in mind that wishes never do any harm...

So, starting today, I will spend a couple of minutes every months thinking of a wish for my (and obviously yours as well) upcoming month. Numerology and astrology (and my inner voice) will help me "find" the good wishes.
January so far has been good and I strongly feel the whole "new" thing. I left the somehow emotionally exhausting 2017 behind me and look forward to an exciting 2018!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Holidays Are Over

How do I know the holiday frenzy is over? Well, besides the obvious fact that people are no longer in a shopping frenzy?

1) Because of the tulips in the shops. Yes. Tulips. In January. Each year I am shocked anew! But tulips for sale in the various shops tell me that it's January. Crazy. But true.

2) Because of my boss telling me ... that spring is just around the corner. As soon as the holidays are over she starts telling me that ... Simonetta, you know, it's almost springtime. It's so cute. And unfortunately untrue but who am I to disagree with her? If it helps her getting over wintertime? Well, then be it!

Friday, January 5, 2018

First Trip of the Year

I just spent the holidays in Italy and because of the many family gatherings there wasn't much time for me to do what I like most: being on the road. I nevertheless found the time to spend some time alone!

One day I went shopping. I urgently needed new boots and now ... well, let's just say that now I have enough boots for the next couple of years (and also new trousers, a blouse, etc.). It was my (very) lucky shopping day!

The second day I drove to the sea in Cattolica and spent some time at the mercato (what else?) and took a long walk on the beach. What a wonderful way to spend the last day of 2017...

My third day was spent visiting Urbino. I never get tired of visiting Urbino. It's like a place of my heart. I go to the museum, walk around the (perfect) renaissance town, I browsed the bookstores and simply soaked up the good energy.

I am back home now ... and am ready for 2018 and all the new places I will visit!


Personal Wishes for 2018

Can you feel it too? 2018 has a different energy. A pretty good one! We're only on day 5 but it feels like everything is ... in the flow. Interestingly enough I sent a message to my sister-in-law on 1 January when I was in Italy (and didn't have much time because my time on the Internet was limited) and I said something along the lines of: I practice being tolerant and patient. I thought back to these words, written without thinking too much, and I decided that my words were dead-on. My 2018 will be about tolerance and patience. Towards others but also towards myself. Other words came to my mind too: kindliness, consciousness.

Therefore, these are my personal wishes for 2018.
Acting in a tolerant, patient, kind and conscious way every day (or at least try to).