Saturday, February 22, 2014


Eeeeh. University tomorrow. In Australia. I've never been as indecisive in my life as I've been in the last 2 months and up until Friday I was going to take this year 'off' - until I realised I didn't have a plan, really. So, honours it is and if you talk to me in a few weeks I'll probably be manic and questioning why I ever changed my mind. Hopefully then I can remember this peaceful day in the Mountains and not be too sad about missing Austria.

Monday, February 17, 2014


While in Istanbul, we also visited Büyükada, one of the islands just over an hours' ferry ride from the Kadikoy port in the city. It was a good albeit very weird day - in winter the island is somewhat of a ghost town, with a lot of empty, grand yet run-down houses. We came across a huge, abandoned & haunted-looking building while hiking that we later found out used to be an orphanage (Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage), confirming its creepiness all the more. 
I can definitely recommend a day trip (or two) to the islands, despite (or maybe because) of the abandoned houses and eerie streets. The nature on the island is very beautiful, so pack your walking shoes.

The orphanage:

Sunday, February 9, 2014


(I always feel I need to apologise for phone photos, two weeks with only hand luggage meant no DSLR on this trip)

I was so happy that I had the chance of visiting Istanbul in my last month overseas. We were there for a week over Christmas, not that you had any hint that it was Christmas Day, apart from the few shops around the Spice Market selling flashing Christmas hats and plastic trees. I organised couchsurfing for myself and the two friends I was travelling with, and it was one of the best couchsurfing experiences I've had to date. A friendly, super interesting couple who lived in Kadikoy on the Asian side of the city. They were so hospitable and such interesting thinkers, and I loved having a drink with them in the evenings and discussing the situation in Turkey and their views on it. It's such an interesting country, and definitely one of my favourite cities that I visited last year. I feel like I say that with every city, but I really mean it with Istanbul! Living on the Asian side was great; hardly any tourists (that time of year anyway), authentic markets with the most beautiful Turkish food. The food! I must've had at least 2 baklavas a day (the sweetness set off by strong Turkish coffee), several turkish delights and spoonfuls of super sweet, addictive halva. Istanbul is so good at street food! Mussels on street corners, stuffed with rice and as many as you want served in your hand with a squeeze of lemon, fish caught in the Bosphorus and put straight on the grill, served with spices and salad in fresh bread, sesame covered simits, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. And if you can, grab a table (crates with wood on top) and have a pile of charcoal barbecued chicken with bulgur and salad, or some pilaf, or a mixed kebab plate with pide and garlicky yoghurt sauce. Recommened by our couchsurfing hosts, we went to Namli Gurme at Karakoy for brunch (walk around the Galata area afterwards, my favourite part of the city). There, you choose what you'd like from a huge delicatessen-like window and choose what barbecued meats or eggs you'd like prepared, and then they bring a huge platter to your table of what you selected, served with crusty bread. Stuffed vine leaves, marinated olives, filled peppers, amazing goats cheese, tapenade and spreads, spicy chicked skewers and pastrami omelettes.
It was nice to live on the Asian side and have a Turkish tea (always served in a real glass) in the mornings on the ferry, and a hot salep (a delicious milky, sweet & cinamonny drink) in the late afternoons, watching the sun set on the way back.
I have photos from an island we visited saved for another post, otherwise, you'll find most of the noteworthy things we did in a travel guide. I can recommend simply packing good walking shoes and exploring the city's streets by foot. I always felt safe (apart from getting caught up in a demonstration near Taksim - avoid those. Or maybe don't, it's really great to see the people make a stand for what they believe in, but better with a mask for the tear/ coughing gas).

Visit Turkey if you have the chance!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


As I sit typing this, staring at the flat, dry, brown, endless land below me, I feel pretty awful, to be honest. It might be due to 40+ hours of travel without sleep behind me; starting with frantically cleaning, packing and running to the station, just making the train to Frankfurt and leaving my iPad on the train in my absent-mindedness. Followed by a plane to London, navigating the maze that is Heathrow, another plane to Dubai, endless security checks, 14 hours to Melbourne, customs and sniffer dogs, and now, finally, the last stretch to Sydney. I wished I could somehow extend my stay in Austria, but after I couldn't change my plane ticket, confirmed that I wasn't allowed to work with my current visa, and finally saw my bank account, it seemed like it was a clear sign to come home.

(Sorry about the negativity of that ^ I was very tired and something about sitting in planes makes me overly sentimental.)

I wouldn't be so deeply sad to be leaving if it hadn't been such an amazing year. I'm proud of what I achieved; fell in love with running, or rather, the place I was running in, did  a few half marathons, cycled to Copenhagen from Berlin, actually got okay at skiing, did an internship in another country, studied in another language, visited amazing places. But actually the things I'll miss most from Vorarlberg are the everyday things; cooking dinner together with people you deeply connect with, like-minded thinkers, looking at the view from the mountains from class, morning runs in the hills above the fog that often settled low over the town, going to the market on Saturday mornings.

Highlights of 2013 (some are bad phone photos, but you get the idea):

Starting in Potsdam, revisiting my first European love (the place) 
The distracting view from class. I loved my university; the work was much more practical than in Australia and we were given a lot more group
work and self-directed study. 

Hikes and picnics


Lake Como

Start of summer in our town in Austria. I loved it during all the seasons.Cycling in Denmark
Eating figs from trees and hiking in the Greek Islands

More kebabs and trips to Berlin

Unforgettable hikes and wild camping on peaks

Fun beer festivals

Finland and a crazy boat trip to Estonia

Skiing and apres-skiing

An amazing trip to Istanbul (more on that coming)


It was such a good year.