Jun 11, 2019

AUSTRIA; Ever-So-Wunderbar


Everyone has a favorite place on this earth, for me that place is AUSTRIA.  I wish I could be in AUSTRIA this very minute listening to the sounds of cow bells, cuckoo birds, and goats yodeling in the verdant Alps. As I approach yet another birthday tomorrow I've made it a point to keep studying German and purchase a one way airline ticket to Vienna so that I can be back in my beloved Austria.

Austria is a small country but inside this alpine country is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. A good place to arrive first is Vienna, a grand city that wins the hearts of visitors around the world. From imperial palaces to cozy coffeehouses serving famous Linzer torte, Vienna is filled with excitement. Whether you're admiring the Danube River, dancing the waltz, or listening to a symphony, Vienna will stimulate you with it's unending culture and lovely architecture.

                                                Freshly baked Austrian bread rolls

Salzburg, is where I love spending time. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg and his legend lives on and on; truly a master of music and speaking of music, the American made film "The Sound of Music" has daily tours that shouldn't be missed. So much to see and do in Salzburg and it's very close to those glorious ALPS.

                                          Famous "Mozart" is from Salzburg

I could spend weeks, months, years in Austria. I was fortunate to work in this amazing country for two summers but it just wasn't long enough, not for someone who loves Austria so dearly. It's the Alps that bring me the most joy. Perfect picture postcard towns and villages with church steeples and magical bells that can be heard throughout the day. The scent of bread, rolls, and pastries at an authentic Austrian Bakeri, can't be beat. Miles of endless trails to hike and crisp clear lakes that are filled with pure water. Cow bells ringing and goats wandering through the mountains, fragrant edelweiss flowers, timely trains meandering from town to city with their horns blowing, streams, and waterfalls galore. A private accommodation known as a "pension" is the ultimate place to stay. It's homey, quaint, and oh so Austrian.

Authentic Apfel Strudel
So much beauty, cleanliness, and elegance in Austria. There's really no country quite like Europe's Austria.Austria is consistently rated as one of the best countries to live in the world and for good reason.It's beautiful, it's clean, it's safe, the people are friendly and there's inspiring scenery at practically every turn. Yes, AUTRIA is certainly wnderbar. If I could improve my German language skills I'd stay in AUSTRIA forever and a day.

If you like breath-taking scenery with towering mountains, lush valleys and streams, grand cities,culture, peacefulness, fairy-tale villages, friendly people, and a slower pace of life, Austria could be for you. Top notch bakeries, fresh air, perfect ski slopes and hiking trails, comfortable trains to take you through the countryside or to the city. No need for a car here, most buses and trains will take you to your desired destination. AUSTRIA, truly one of the best countries in the world!

Jan 27, 2019

Odense, Denmark.....The Land of Fairy -Tales and Happy People!

The trip to Odense was a long one; jet lag, time change, a crowded train, and missed meals.  At 16:00 on a Saturday the fairy-tale began. My friend and I arrived at the Odense train station from Malmo, Sweden with our luggage and no room reservations. Thank goodness for WI FI. We sat in a cafe at the train station with a cup of cappuccino and checked the lodging options on our phones. One hotel espeically caught our eyes, the quaint"Hotel Windsor" just a short walk from the train station.

A Danish couple guided us to the"Hotel Windsor."We got a comfortable room overlooking a quiet street. While my friend Frank was taking a short nap I went downstairs to the cozy dining room and enjoyed the complimentary snacks of carrots, celery, coconut cake and authentic danish pastries (wienerbrod). After a long journey it felt so wonderful to be in a friendly hotel that felt like a home away from home. We were in the land of Hans Christian Andersen. For it was in Odense that Hans Christian Andersen was born and spent his childhood.

                                       Danish pastries are the best in the world!

Our three days in beautiful Odense on the island of Funen were like the pages of a happy fairy-tale filled with treasures, surprises, and interesting people. We walked the cobblestone streets, visited the Hans Christian Andersen home and museum, spent time at the Odense Zoo, mingled with locals in the quaint shops and at remarkable cafes and restaurants. We rode the local train through small villages and spent time by the sea. We wrote poetry, listened to music, and made friends. Oh how we loved Odense. In the three days we were there all our troubles and worries melted away and we left Odense happy and hopeful.

                                           Irresistable Danish chocolates!
                                                       Sitting in the library at "Hotel Windsor"

HYGGE is what the Danish practice and that's why they're considered some of the happiest people in the world. What is HYGGE? It's a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being and regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. Denmark is filled with delightful and idyllic cities, towns, and villages but ODENSE has a way of captivating its visitors. Afterall it's where Hans Christian Andersen is from.

Where to Stay:

                                                 Milling, Hotel Windsor is a classic hotel

Astruplund-Bed and Breakfast; restored old farmhouse, big garden, near the woods with a relaxed atmosphere.

Milling, Hotel WIndsor; lovely hotel that's close to everything, bountiful breakfast buffet, 24 hour complmentary beverage machine, and tidy rooms.

Radisson Blu H.C. Andersen's Hotel; stylish 4 star hotel, free tea and coffee in the lobby and just steps away from Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

Where to Eat:

                                          Arkaden Food Market

Arkaden Food Market;ultimate place to get international food from 22 different stalls Experience foods from around the world in a state of the art setting.  Staff offer samples of certain dishes to try before ordering.

Klosterkroen; come here for classic and tradtional Danish cuisine.

Mmoks; traditional Nordic food with one of a kind dishes. Food is meant for sharing to try the different unique dishes. Extensive wine list available.

Under Lindetraeet; Situated in a building constructed in 1771 that takes you back in time. Staff is hospitable and the food marvelous. Lovely outdoor seating overlooking Hans Christian Andersen house.

Where to Shop:

There are countless quaint shops that beckon but my favorite is MAGASIN. It's one of Denmark's oldest department stores and everything you can imagine is under one roof. It's actually a British born retailer. Excellent service and a dream place to shop. I got a wonderful discount on a pair of toasty warm boots since I was an international traveler.

ODENSE is Denmark's third largest city but it doesn't feel big or intimidating. It's ideal to bicycle and walk through. In fact the Danish ride their bicycles more than they drive a vehicle. Walking is my favorite though because it gives you moments to be still and really take in all the treasures. Hans Christian Andersen is one of the most beloved writers in the world and one can feel his presence throughout Odense. Within close proximity to Odense is the mesmerizing sea and the vibrant city of Copenhagen. Live a fairy-tale in ODENSE,DENMARK and see why Denmark has some of the happiest people on earth.

                                              Unwind in Odense and take in the storybook setting!

Jan 25, 2019

The Pole of the Cold; Siberia's Oymyakon

                                                        Reindeer in Oymyakon

My mother who has Alzheimer's keeps asking why the northern Michigan city she lives in won't close down for the winter. "It's like Siberia" she often says. Well she's not completely accurate although this evening I went cross country skiing for only 20 minutes and when I returned to my tiny studio condo it took me almost an hour to de-thaw from the freezing temperatures oudoors. My mother and I have nothing to complain about especially when the 500 residents of the coldest place on earth deal with frigid temperatures. Where's this coldest place on earth where temperatures dip to an unbelievable -57 degrees? It's OYMYAKON, SIBERIA.

January in certain parts of the world is a cold month but nothing beats the January temperatures of Oymyakon. With my fingers thawing from the frigid northern Michigan winter I literally had tears rolling down my face as I searched the internet to find the coldest place on earth. After watching videos and reading articles about tiny Oymyakon I'm eager to venture to this remote corner of the world. In the meantime I have some interesting facts to share about the earth's coldest place. "THE POLE OF THE COLD"

                                                Frozen fish anyone? Good & Healthy!

1. It takes 2 days and nights to drive to Oymyakon on a barren icy road.

2. 1 million people died making "the road of bones" that leads to Oymyakon.

3. The record low temperature was -98 degrees in 2013.

4. A banana can be used as a hammer.           

5. Frostbite is a constant danger.

6.  Many of the residents have Asiatic features.

7.  Eyelashes freeze due to the constant cold.

8.  Crops can't grow here so residents mosty eat meat and fish.

9.  It is dark 21 hours a day in the winter.

10. Pipes freeze so no plumbing in Oymakon.

11. Cars have to be kept running all the time because the engines freeze.

12. Reindeer herders can take you on a trip through the Siberian wilderness.

13. Oymyakon means "unfrozen water."

14. The area is eqipped with a post office, schools, a bank, and an airport runway.

15. The sun comes out once in awhile.

16. Oymyakon is usually covered with snow.

Only 500 residents can brave the extremely frigid temperares of Oymyakon but to them it's home and they're happy. Comfort is found with love and vodka in cold Oymyakon, Siberia. Be certain to check out the "60 Minutes, Visiting the Coldest town in the World" video on YOU TUBE. It's an excellent and informative documentary.

                         Even a bottle of vodka freezes in Oymyakon!

Nov 30, 2018

Spa Break in Sweden

I've been enchanted with Sweden for many years so my dream came true when earlier this month I spent a few days in beautiful southern Sweden. My journey through Scandinavia was one of much sightseeing and walking.  I rarely gave myself time to take a breather until I checked into an Airbnb in Malmo. The small and charming Swedish cottage that I rented was the perfect place for a mini spa getaway. Inside the cottage was an equipped kitchen to prepare simple healthy meals, candles for burning since the days were so short in mid November and a traditional Swedish sauna next to the bathroom. A short walk away was Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, Malmo's best spa located on the sea.  I admire the Scandinavians love for the sauna and wish more countries around the world knew just how beneficial a hot sauna is.  Exposure to dry heat in the controlled environment of a sauna for a limited period of time 1) increases circulation 2) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease 3) helps with weight loss 4) flushes toxins from the body 5) relieves stress. In Sweden and other Nordic countries the hot sauna/cold plunge is practiced often; a 15 to 20 minute sauna session followed by a cold water dip or cold shower. This hot/cold is repeated until there's not an ounce of tension in the body.

                                                       Ribersborgs Kallbadhus in Malmo

Sweden is known  for its outstanding spas and health resorts. The Swedes take full advantage of a break from their hectic lifestyle to have well deserved rest and relaxation. Sweden has plenty of nature with extensive forest coverage and over 90,000 lakes. Whether you prefer northern Sweden and the Lapland, the Stockholm Archipelago of Sweden's east coast, the large Swedish island of Gotland or the south of Sweden you'll be able to reward yourself with an unforgettable spa experience somewhere in Sweden. My trip to Sweden was amazing. I had such a wonderful experience interacting with kind Swedish people who I found to be friendly and helpful. I can't wait to go back to Sweden because it's a big country with much to offer. Don't miss out on all the Swedish designs from architecture to fashion, delicious Kanelbullar cinnamon rolls at local bakeries, sitting in a hot sauna and having a traditional Swedish massage.

                                               There's plenty of sea in the south of Sweden

What's a traditional Swedish massage? It's a classic massage that consists mainly of long strokes over oiled skin and kneading of the outer layers of muscle tissues to reduce stress and soothe sore joints and muscles. A Swedish massage is beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, and improving circulation & flexibility while easing tension.

                                              Take a plunge in a swimming pool

                                                       Enjoy a sauna when you're in Sweden


Ribersborg Kallbadhus, Malmo
On a beach with sun decks, wood sauna, massage, cold baths, cafe & restaurant.

Milstenen Spa & Massage, Malmo
A relaxing oasis for spa treatements with glowing candles.

Palsjobaden, Helsingborg
Bathing culture has a long 150 year history with the locals who love the open-air baths along the seafront. 

Victoria Park SPA, Gym, and Bad, Malmo
A cozy spa with a relaxing environment. pools, jacuzzi, steam and dry bath. Facials and massage available.

Ystad Saltsjobad, Salt Creek Spa, Ystad
Heated swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, indoor ice hole, four hot springs, right by the sea. Not far from Malmo.

Oct 9, 2018

A Yoga Vacation in Paradise; BAHAMAS

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat is located across the bay from Nassau!
One of the best vacations you can take is at SIVANANDA ASHRAM YOGA RETREAT
on Paradise Island, Bahamas because it will
melt your stresses away and provide renewal. I wish I could be there this very moment.There's simplicity here and it draws people constantly. Paradise Island has its share of luxurious lodging like the royal 4 star Atlantis Hotel but if you're yearning for tranquility and spirituality then the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat is a must.This ashram situated on turquoise Atlantic waters and surrounded by tropical gardens offers concerts, lectures, teacher's training, and workhops throughout the year and one of their most popular programs is the YOGA VACATION PROGRAM.

You arrive at the ashram and immediately experience bliss and calmness Accommodations 
are plentiful. There are beachfront deluxe suites, beach huts, a dormitary, garden rooms, tent huts, tent space, whatever fits your budget or needs. My first yoga vacation was in the majestic Catskill Mountains at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, New York and since then I've been devoted to the teachings of Swami Sivananda. My teacher's training course was completed at Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, California and I was a karma yogi at Sivananda Seminarhaus for a few summers in Reith, Austria (Tyrol) in Europe.  My yoga vacation at Sivananda in Paradise Island wasn't that recent but I still reflect on all the healing that vacation brought me to this very day. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Bahamas is the ultimate vacation if you're a devout yogi.

This is an outline of a typical day during your yoga vacation in Paradise Island, Bahamas at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat....

S I V A N A N D A   Y O G A  V A C A T I O N  P R O G R A M

Early Morning Meditation at 6:00 am, followed by joyful chanting, and a spiritual talk or reading.

A two hour yoga class at 8:00 am

Delicious brunch at 10:00 am

Midday is free time to enjoy the beach, water activities, or exploring Nassau. There are opportunities for lectures, workshops, or pampering at the "Well Being Center"  How about a 
Ayurvedic Body Treatment or Thai Yoga Massage?

At 4:00 pm, yoga class

Dinner is served at 6:00 pm                            

After dinner there's free choice activities

Evening is the time for Satsang (meditation, chanting, and talk)

Within a day of your arrival you'll feel relaxed and rejuvinated. The kindness and spiritulity felt throughout the ashram is quite special. You'll have a hard time leaving but you can always extend y
our vacation for as long as you wish.


Proper Exercise

Proper Breathing

Proper Relaxation

Proper Diet

Positive Thinking and Meditation

Classes are offered on a variety of subjects at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat; "From Anxious to Awesome,"  "Paradise Beauty from the Inside Cleanse" "Essentials of Positive Thinking" and "Manifesting Potential"  are some courses I noticed on their website. Speaking of websites, I've provided their link so that you can see first hand what a blessing this ashram is. Come experience real PARADISE at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat!

You'll love the scenery, you'll love the teachings, you'll love the vegetarian food, you'll make new friends,  you'll improve your yoga practice and meditation,  you'll gain knowledge, you'll be rejuvenated from head to toe and you'll be a genuine yogi.

Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize

Om Namah Shivaya!                        


Sep 10, 2018

A Thrilling Trio; Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, and Holland, Pure Michigan

If you live on the western side of the state of Michigan and need a quick getaway consider the trio cities of Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, and Holland; big city meets Dutchland, and a coastal town like none other.

A carefree summer with lots of travel? Not this summer. In fact this entire year I've failed to even leave the state with the exception of a few days in versatile Canada. Frustrated? Oh yes, I'm a traveler by trade so not being able to travel this year has been quite frustrating. Sometimes we have to create a trip not far from our own backyard just like George Bailey did in the iconic film "It's a Wonderful Life." With summer flying by as fast as an airplane I dreamed of a getaway. I interrupted my overwhelmed boss one afternoon and asked if I could have two consecutive days off in late August. She honored my request and I created an itinerary for my boyfriend and myself which took us on a journey to Grand Haven, Holland, and Grand Rapids.

Grand Haven; A Coastal Dream Town with a Coast Guard: 

I always thought that the best seaside towns were on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts until I discovered Grand Haven.Grand Haven is an absolutely beautiful beach town with a million dollar lakeview fit for a Hollywood film. Imagine sugar white sand, a turquoise freshwater lake free of sharks, a bright red nostalgic lighthouse on a pier, sand dunes for hiking, a bicycle trail meandering along the coast, a campground on the beach, a street called Washington that beckons diners and shoppers, and a colorful musical fountain that plays music at dusk. Farms dot the region and the produce is exceptional for those who like their fruits and veggies. With such a positive vibe it makes sense that"Coastal Living"magazine named Grand Haven; America's Happiest Seaside Town.

                                                                 Grand Haven City Beach is a charmer

Swimming in the grand freshwater Lake Michigan that resembles the ocean and has views of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a clear day is the #1 thing to do in Grand Haven. Even if you're not a swimmer there's plenty of boating available and for a good workout the calm waters make kayaking and stand up paddleboarding ideal. Whatever stress you've brought to Grand Haven will dissolve within an hour. You can find lodging at roadside motels, beachfront resorts, or a bed and breakfast and enjoy a coastal vacation like none other. My top pick for lodging is theLooking Glass Bed and Breakfast ideally situated on a dune overlooking Lake Michigan. Don't leave Grand Haven without a stop at Patricia's Chocolates for artisan handmade chocolates that taste so exquisite you'll think you were in Paris, France.

                                            Patricia's Chocolates are worth the splurge!

                                 Enter the gates of Nelis' Dutch Village; a gem of a theme park

Holland; (Dutchland in America):

You don't have to be Dutch to love Holland. This college city with the most visited state park, a famous tulip festival and a village theme park that feels like a fairytale makes Holland a place that can be appreciated by people of all ages. Two must-see attractions are Nelis' Dutch Village and Windmill Island Gardens. If you can't make it to Europe you can get a taste of the Netherlands at these two idyllic spots.

Nelis' Dutch Village:

A unique theme park that feels like a fairytale. Enjoy amusement rides, cheesemaking, klompen Dutch dancing, farm animals, see how wooden shoes are carved and much more!

Nelis Dutch Village

                                           Dancing at Nelis'Dutch Village
                                            There's plenty of shopping at Nelis' Dutch Village

Windmill Island Gardens:

This bountiful garden oasis located on the edge of the city of Holland has an authentic working windmill from the Netherlands. In the spring thousands of tulips flood the grounds of Windmilll Island Gardens. 

                                          Wooden Clogs at Windmill Island Gardens

Take a drive to Holland State Park one of the most popular state parks in Michigan. If you're hungry Deboer Bakkerij has a cute homey atmosphere and Dutch inspired dishes that are really good.

Grand Rapids; A River City with lots to do!

Only about a half hour drive from Holland is the exciting city of Grand Rapids. Here you'll find  breweries, museums, great shopping, and some of the best restaurants in the state. One of my favorite food markets in all of Grand Rapids is Martha's Vineyard. It's a haven for food connoisseurs. Speaking of food Grand Rapids has such an amazing array of restaurants from Ethiopian to Vietnamese that it's hard to decide which one to eat at. Indian Masala is my top pick. If I lived in Grand Rapids I'd eat the food on their lunch buffet every week. It's so affordably priced and every dish is phenomenal. The staff is terrific too. Indian Masala gets my vote for best Indian restaurant in Michigan. Another recommendation for dining is Little Africa where the owner prepares exotic freshly made dishes from scratch.

                                                Best Indian Restaurant in Michigan!

If you only have one day in Grand Rapids make a point of visiting Grand Rapids Art Musuem the Frederik Meijer Gardens and East Grand Rapids Gaslight Village. 

So there you have it Michiganians and visitors. The trio cities of Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, and Holland are closely linked together and full of fabulous things to see and do. 

                                          Grand Rapids can be enjoyed day and night!

Aug 21, 2018

Vegan Fudge on Mackinac Island!

Mackinac Island is famous for fudge and no trip to this lovely,magical island is complete without sampling and purchasing some fudge. I only live a couple of hours from Mackinac Island so naturally it's not difficiult for me to visit from time to time.On my last visit I was so impressed to see that fudge shops are now making vegan fudge that I decided to start making my own vegan fudge. 

Craving fudge? This recipe is so easy to make that your family and friends will think this fudge came right from beautiful Mackinac Island.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge:                      

1 can of coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
3 cups of quality dark dairy free chocolate chips
1 cup of pecans or walnuts (optional)

1. Line a 8 by 8 inch square pan with parchment paper with an overhang on all sides.

2. Place the can of coconut milk in a sauce pan (If there's too much liquid be certain to drain some of it otherwise the fudge mixture won't thicken). Cook over medium heat on your stovetop. When the coconut milk begins to steam, sift in the 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar and whisk to combine. Do not overheat.

3. Add the chocolate chips and stir until fully melted. Don't burn the chocolate. If you prefer a nutty fudge you can add 1 cup of pecans or walnuts to the mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared 8 by 8 inch pan and spread evently.

5.  Let the fudge cool for 30 to 40 minutes.

6.  Place in the refrigerator for two hours until fudge is firm.

7.  Use the parchment paper to remove the fudge from the pan then slice the fudge into squares.

8.  Keep the fudge stored in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

AUSTRIA; Ever-So-Wunderbar

                                                                            Everyone has a favorite place on this earth, for ...