Life Lessons from Vienna…

I’m clueless about blogging

The plan was thus: Spend awesome weekend in Vienna, become destination expert and update new blog with cool tips and ideas, with loads of pretty pictures like those other inspirational travel blogs that I love so much. What actually happened was this: I realised that I’d put too much pressure on myself to try and define what my first ‘blogging trip’ was going to be about before I’d even got there, and managed to get overwhelmed. In the end I just forgot about trying to think of ‘cool’ blog posts and tried to enjoy myself and see where the city took me. We ended up blagging free tickets to a music festival in a museum (of all places) and partying the night away until 6am. The plans went out the window (cant do much sightseeing with a horrendous hangover) But you know what? We met some amazing people and had a brilliant time. I don’t know where I’m going with my blog in the long run, but as long as I enjoy what I’m writing about, rather than posting up a photo of some funky café down a side street- then that’s all I should care about.

Fun at the Electronic Beats Music Festival at the MuseumsquartierWhat’s in a name?

I was determined to source some tasty biscuit treats to take back home and share with my colleagues, and spent the weekend roaming the streets of Vienna in search of the aptly named ‘Viennese Whirl’. I finally gave up and resorted to google. To my dismay Wikipedia clarified what I had become to suspect. Viennese Whirls are not native to Austria! What’s next? You will be telling me the Danish pastry isn’t from Denmark!

(Oh dear Lord. I just googled this too. Danish pastries originated in no other than… Vienna. I think I need to go and lay down- this is too much)

I know nothing about food

My best friend Julia and I are sat in the cosy Figlmuller Wollzeile restaurant (“Home of the Wiener Schnitzel”), eagerly awaiting our order of the classic Austrian dish. We had excitedly talked about this moment for the whole day. The waiter comes over and places my plate on the table in front of me. My friend and I look at each other, confused.

“Where is the sausage?” I ask.

“I’m gluten intolerant” she says.

A quick check on google confirms a Wiener Schnitzel is most definitely not a giant hot dog, and most definitely is a plateful of Veal covered in wheat filled breadcrumbs. Trying to push images of Bambi from my mind, I did actually enjoy the dish, whilst Julia sat scraping the breadcrumbs from the meat… Note to self. Do Research.

What’s the rush?

Stood at a pedestrian crossing. Lights are red. No traffic is coming and yet nobody crosses the road until the green man says so! This just does not happen in England! We regularly leg it across the road regardless of what that little man in the box says, always in a rush to get somewhere, even if it means dodging the odd car bonnet and praying you don’t end up splashed across the windscreen. The Viennese are much more patient than us Brits, and its a quality we could use more often.

I will be ok

My trip to Eastern Europe is in 5 months and 5 days. I’m terrified.  As a recent sufferer of anxiety (it started 2 months ago), I have only recently started to worry about my trip. Before the anxiety happened all I could think about was going away and how exciting it is going to be! Over the past 2 months I have spent a lot of time by myself. Not wanting to go out and socialise so much. Worrying about having another panic attack.

In Vienna I went to the Prater Park (amusement park) and had a go on the ‘Prater Turm’, a swing carousel ride that is 117 metres high!! Ordinarily, I would have loved this kind of ride, whooping and throwing my hands in the air- I hate heights but get a thrill from the danger! Only this time, I was absolutely scared stiff. I had been feeling edgy all day, but I was determined to do it. I couldn’t move or make a sound. My mind was thinking irrationally as I struggled to regulate my breathing and stay calm.  It may sound a bit extreme that I needed to put myself through that experience whilst suffering from an anxious episode – but I wanted to do something that I was afraid of, something that I would have done before without even a hesitation, to not feel like the anxiety is holding me back. I’d reached a turning point and decided it isn’t going to take control over my life.

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I am absolutely determined to go travelling. Suffering from anxiety isn’t going to stop me. I need to look after myself and find ways to deal with it.

Now, when I start to feel like I’m going to panic I’m going to think back to that night in Vienna, 311 feet in the air, with the view of the city below and know that if I can get through that, then I can get through anything! Nothing bad is going to happen and I’m going to be OK. Bring on Budapest!

Recipe: Poelee Provencale

A tasty vegetarian dish from the South West of France

Recipe from www.marmiton.org

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes

Ingredients ( serves 8) :
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 500 g zucchini
- 1 large eggplant
- 100g pitted black olives
- 170 grams of mushroom pieces
- 10 dried tomatoes
- Herbs de provence
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth

Preparation of the recipe:

Fry the sliced ​​onion and minced garlic in olive oil in a large skillet. 
Cut the courgettes and aubergine into cubes. Add with mushrooms, olives , 
tomatoes and herbs in the pan. 
Add two tablespoons of vinegar. 
Cook for 5 minutes over high heat . Add the broth diluted in a glass of water. 
Melt over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft . It's ready!

A little bit of France at home… an unexpected delight

Today a French Market came to my little patch of Sussex, England! what’s even better- I had no idea and so when I was in town (Horsham) and stumbled across this little gem, my heart soared! I had gone into town to buy a new camera and ended up wandering in and out of the stalls for the afternoon. I love nothing better than a traditional French market, the chatter of the stallholders, the smell of the fresh bread, the beautiful colours of the patisserie stall… The market was supposed to be a combination of traditional French stalls and Vintage goods for sale, two of my greatest loves! It turns out that the vintage stalls were not part of the French market, and had been arranged by Horsham council. I have to say I found the vintage stalls disappointing. They were less ‘vintage’ and more ‘shabby chic’. Furniture and accessories for the home- painted cream and made to look ‘retro’. I have no problem with this, I am partial to a bit of shabby chic myself, however there were no vintage clothes or actual antiques.

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic

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Back to the French market: I got chatting to one of the stallholders, Maurice from Dieppe, who advised me that the market is run by a company called ‘France at Home’ and the stallholders are from different departments in France.  They travel to the UK twice a year in the spring and autumn, setting up the market on the weekends in different towns, by arrangement of the town councils. I was surprised at how many customers were speaking French with the stallholders and so I attempted to practice mine with Maurice who smiled politely and asked if I was from the Ukraine.  I seriously didn’t realise my French accent was that bad! Apparently no- I just look like a Ukrainian he knows and I have the same look. I’ve since googled Ukrainian women and decided it was definitely a complement. You never know with the French.

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Its not a French market if there is no Chat Noir!

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The stalls feature traditional French products such as crepes, bread, French style biscuits, olives, pate, cheeses and meats. They also have a collection of non food stalls selling bags, scarves, arts and crafts, clothing & accessories and vintage music. I spent a good while perusing the stalls, collecting tasty morsels for the picnic I now planned to have in my lounge.  Unfortunately there was not a stall selling wine so I had to nip to Tesco on the way home to complete the cliché. The produce was a tad on the expensive side, but somehow I didn’t seem to mind as I had totally got caught up in the experience.

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The sun was shining and as I sat on the bench overlooking the market, eating my ‘Poelee Provencale’ (a tasty dish of potatoes, garlic, onions and peppers), listening to the sounds of traditional music and the hubbub of stallholders advertising their wares with that delicious accent, I closed my eyes and felt like I was back in one of the bustling markets of Paris. I could have stayed all day.

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Paella- that traditional French cuisine… Actually the word Paella is derived from the old French word ‘Paelle’ for pan.

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With a heavy heart I got in my car and drove back to England. I just adore France, and had a perfect afternoon. I cant wait until I go travelling there next year, and thinking that I’ve still got 6 months to go made me so sad! I actually shed a tiny tear on the way home (although this may be down to the fact that I parted with £400 for a new camera. Jeez what was I thinking)

If you too want to experience a tiny taste of France at home, check out their website and they may be rolling up at a town near you.

Has a country stolen your heart? where can’t you wait to head off to next? I’d love to hear from you.

Airbnb- First Timer Guide

Airbnb- The Homestay Website taking the UK by storm

Airbnb- The Homestay Website taking the UK by storm

Airbnb is the Homestay website making waves in the travel market. The website offers users the chance to stay in someone’s house, for a reasonable price when compared with hotels. The advantage of Airbnb is that you can meet locals and get invaluable insider information on the places that you are staying. You can enjoy an authentic experience at your destination. I loved going to local markets and cooking up a tasty dish rather than going out for meals. I have used Airbnb several times and am yet to have a bad experience (touch wood!). It is important that you fully research where you will be staying and get to know the host, to ensure things are exactly as they seem. Here is my guide to how it works, staying safe, and getting the best experience out of Airbnb.

Sign up to the website and create a profile. Airbnb is all about making your travel experience a personal one. Upload a photo and a few details about yourself. Airbnb encourages users to include details about themselves such as “Share your favourite travel destinations, books, movies, shows, music, food”. This all helps hosts (people who are renting out their place) to get to know their guests (you).

Decide where you want to go & The accommodation you would like. The front page has some destinations for inspiration. Enter where you want to go, the dates of travel and number of guests. Do you want to rent an entire apartment? Or do you want to stay in someone’s house with them for a truly local travel experience?

Choose a place to stay. You can use the map to zoom in on an area, or scroll down the list of properties. If you cant decide on one place, you can create a wish list which allows you to save several apartments to review later. To create a wish list, click on the heart symbol on the top right corner of the photograph.

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Airbnb Listings Page

Check the reviews. I will always choose somewhere that has good ratings and positive reviews. If there are no reviews, as a solo female traveller, I wont chance it and will pick somewhere else.

Check for verified photos. Airbnb provides professional photography to hosts. If the photographs are of a professional standard, and have a ‘Verified’ watermark, then you know that an official photographer has been to the property and it is not a fake listing.

Check the description and amenities. Make sure you know exactly what will/will not be provided at the property so you do not have an surprises. Is there Wifi? do they provide towels? Is their a hairdryer? is the room up several flights of stairs? Is there an elevator?

Check the house rules. Make sure you know what these are- e.g Some hosts do not allow you to use the kitchen (not applicable if you rent an entire apartment), or they don’t allow groups of males. It could be that the property is not right for you.

Research the area. Make sure you know where the property is and what kind of neighbourhood you will be staying in. Is it near public transport? How will you get there from the airport/train station?

Check the hosts profile. Do they have many reviews? What is their response rate? How long have they been a member? Do they rent any other apartments?

Message the host. Decided somewhere that looks perfect for you? Send the host a message before you book. Is there anything you want to know that they haven’t advised? Ask them questions about the apartment or raise any concerns you may have if you are a first time guest. They will be able to put you at ease.

Check the cancellation rules. Make sure you know what the implications are of you cancelling your trip, before you make any payments.

Security Deposits. Most hosts ask for a security deposit in case of damages. This is usually done via the website who have your card details and so the host would not need to ask for cash on arrival. I would be wary if someone requests a security deposit in cash.

Book Your Trip! Once you are happy with the apartment and the area you are staying then book your trip! You will be able to message the host at any time if you need more information. Airbnb will provide you with a contact number  for the host, the address and directions, you can then arrange with the host what time you will meet at the property.

Remember you are staying in somebody’s home, and not a hotel. The facilities may not be 5 star standard. Make sure you are aware of exactly what will and will not be provided and above all, be respectful at all times.

Are you thinking of using Airbnb? have you used it before and how did it go? I would love to hear from you.

Top Tips to Save for that Trip!

 

In 6 months time, I will be in Budapest ready to backpack round Europe for the foreseeable future. It feels like an age away! However, I know that actually, it will come around super quick and so I have been making sure I’m super savvy to enable me to save as much as possible for my dream trip.

Here are some tips you can use too:

Take Cash With You: If you go on a night out, or a shopping trip, set yourself a reasonable budget and take only cash with you. That way you aren’t tempted to splurge on your card, and once its gone, its gone!

Use a Terramundi Money Pot: These are brilliant, you can’t open them until you smash them! Great for loose change. After an evening on the town, if you get home and have any money left from your ‘night out’ budget, pop the rest in the pot. It soon adds up!

Be Stingy!: Sometimes in life you need to be selfish. We all know that person who manages to have a drink in their hand yet never buys a round? Well I’m not saying do that! But you don’t have to go in on a round. Just buy drinks for yourself and then you know exactly how much you have spent, and no-one has had a free drink off you!

Review Your Direct Debits: Paying for a cinema pass you don’t use? Netflix you don’t watch? Gym membership you havn’t used since January? Get rid of them! be ruthless, Your goal is to go travelling and see the world, and what good will these subscriptions do you whilst you are trekking to Machu Pichu…

Sell Your Stuff: Again, be ruthless. You cant take it travelling right? You may as well make some money from it. Ebay, Car boot sales, Preloved, there are loads of ways to get rid of second hand stuff you no longer need. Why not invite your friends over for afternoon tea and a rummage? They may just buy that dress they have been eying up for months…

Get a 2nd Job: Not everyone has the time, but if you do, this is a great way to earn extra cash. A benefit of an extra job is that it stops you going out and spending more money!

Sell Your Old Phones: Do you have any unwanted mobiles lying around? There are several websites (like Mazuma mobile) that will buy them off you- even if they are old or broken

Review Your Expenses: Could you reduce your utility bills by changing provider? Has your mobile ran out of contract? This is a great way to save money. I saved £30 a month switching my utilities, and once my phone contract ran out, I switched to a sim only contract to save money

Sign up to Cashback Websites: This is a great way to make money especially if you are going to switch utility providers, as they often provide cashback incentives for you to sign up. Using Quidco, I signed up to a new utility company, made £40 cashback and reduced my monthly bill!

Have any of these helped you on the road to your dream trip? let me know if you have any other ideas to share!

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Travel Insurance: Do you take the risk?

Many people still choose to travel without adequate travel insurance. The FCO ‘know before you go’ campaign has put together a useful infographic debunking some of the assumptions people make about travel insurance, and the costs you face by not taking it out…

Infographic from the FCO 'Know before you go' Campaign

Infographic from the FCO ‘Know before you go’ Campaign

Welcome…

Hello and welcome to Travelling Nizpants!

On my site you will find general musings from my travels this summer, tips on travel insurance and who knows what else since I haven’t written it yet… 😉

happy travelling 🙂