Long-Time-No-See

It’s been a very long time since I last blogged and a LOT has happened since then. My last post was in November, I had just come back from Abu Dhabi after I had an infection in my ankle and it was clear I had to recover a little bit longer than I wanted. Instead of staying with my friend again, I decided to spend some time with my parents, my sister and her nephew back in the countryside in the house where I grew up in. Staying with my parents wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be and my nephew is absolutely adorable. It was good to be back ‘home’ even though it doesn’t feel like home again. Oh well, the joy of being a serial expat.

In November I went to New York City for two weeks, where I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Central Park. It was freezing cold in NYC and unfortunately I got yet another infection in my leg. This time even more serious and painful, than the time in Abu Dhabi. I had to fly back earlier than I wanted and went straight from the airport to the hospital. Unfortunately, it turned out that my metal plate on the fibula was infected and I needed another surgery. Just before Christmas I had another surgery in Germany where they removed the infected plate and immediately I felt much better. It’s still a long process and it’s almost May and I am still attending physic therapy two to three times a week. Just before the surgery, I signed a contract for a position in Dubai and I finally moved to Dubai in January.

Ever since I moved to Dubai, time is flying. I can’t believe it’s already the middle of May. Even though I only work part-time and have plenty of time off, it feels like I never have time. Don’t get me wrong, I am finally doing a lot again. I am socialising, I make an effort to wake up early (Well, I have a foster cat now and six kittens, so that definitely helps waking up) and I just got back into my healthy eating and living well routine. Dubai is fantastic and it was one of the best decisions to have moved here.

Ever since I left London at the end of 2014, I really struggled to blog regularly. After changing my name and rebranding in the summer of 2015, I lost my motivation to write. Of course, with the new domain my DA went down to 1 and it seemed to take forever to increase it again. I would like to start blogging again for the right reasons and not just for how many followers I have. I might be not in London anymore, but Dubai is such an exciting city to live in and I want to share more of my life in the UAE with my mainly UK based readers.

photo-1469570348996-2360676bf827

My ankle is healing very well. I am actually walking without crutches since the end of September and life is slowly getting back to normal. It’s been over three months since my accident and in the beginning of October I moved to Abu Dhabi to start working again. I couldn’t wait to return to work. Well, actually I started a new position.

One week without work is great, two weeks without work are even better, but towards the end of my recovery I started to get bored and even depressed. Maybe to be off work for ten weeks is awesome if you don’t happen to have a broken ankle and can actually do something, but under these circumstances it was hard.

Life when you are unable to walk

Most of the two months I spent at home, resting on the sofa and watching TV. I bought Apple TV and binge watched Netflix, slept a lot and gained half a stone. The first weeks after the second surgery were especially difficult. Luckily, I was in a position where I could afford to hire staff and even though I couldn’t find one person to do everything I needed, I managed to find two people to split the duties and it worked very well. While one focussed on the housekeeping aspect of things, the other person took me to the doctors, shopping and whatever else I needed to do.

Getting independent again

I was very happy when I could more things by myself after the first five-six weeks. At the beginning of September I managed to fly to London for four days and spent time with George and Maximilian. It was such a wonderful time and I was very upset when I had to leave them again. The main reason to fly to London was to see one of the best endocrinologist in London. I got some shocking news, but I feel like I am in good hands now and we started a treatment plan that hopefully will improve my PCOS.

While I didn’t enjoy being in Germany, I was happy to spend two months with my closest friends before I head off to Abu Dhabi. I knew visiting them on the weekends wouldn’t be as easy as it was when I lived in London or Lugano. It’s been over three weeks since I moved to Abu Dhabi and what can I say? I am actually back in Germany looking for a new position. Why and what’s next for me will be covered in another post soon.

Le Meridien Jakarta

A trip to Indonesia is high on my travel wish list. Of course, my first stop would be Jakarta. Should I return to the Middle East for work again soon, it’s very likely that I will visit Jakarta next year or in early 2018. I am not a budget traveller, staying in hostels is not my first choice and I try to always stay at the best hotel I can afford. I like to get the best value for my money.

One of my hotel choices in Jakarta would be the Le Meridien, it is top rated for the best value in the city and the Le Meridien brand is worldwide known for its excellence.

 

Le Meridien Jakarta Lobby

Le Meridien Jakarta

The Le Meridien Jakarta is located just opposite the World Trade Centre Building, in the heart of the Jakarta. The hotel offers large and modern rooms with free Wi-Fi. It features a large outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and five different dining options where you can choose from French, Lebanese to Japanese cuisines. Guests can enjoy live musicians at the Tiga Puluh Music Bar and restaurant.

 

lemeridien-jakarta-premierroom

Location

The hotel is only one kilometer from the Plaza Semanggi Shopping Mall and just over two kilometers from Plaza Indonesia Shopping Mall and Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall. As you can see, if you love shopping, you won’t be disappointed staying at Le Meridien Jakarta. The airport is only a 50 minute drive from the hotel.

 

Amenities

swimming-pool-night-time

The 396 rooms all have a traditional Javanese charm, a comfortable luxury bed and a spacious bathroom. The contemporary decor is equipped with the latest technology and free High Speed internet access. The Health Club with the newest fitness equipment is open 24 hours and the hotel also features a Le Méridien Club Lounge designed for business travelers.

 

LE SPA

health-club

Don’t you agree that every great hotel has to have a spa? Of course a spa is not missing at the Le Meridien Jakarta. After a stressful day at work or a long journey, you can unwind at Le Spa. Enjoy the variety of body treatments or massages. The adjoining Health Club is split over two levels and while you run on the treadmill you can overlook the swimming pool and beautiful gardens. The spa and health club also hosts a juice bar. It’s the perfect place for the health and beauty conscious. Of course facials and body scrubs don’t miss on the treatment list.

 

Jakarta

Jakarta Skyline Indonesia

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and the most populous city of Indonesia with over 10 million inhabitants. Etihad flies from London Heathrow to Jakarta with a stop in Abu Dhabi, the airline’s head office location. Many of the tourists in Jakarta are domestic tourists from all over Indonesia, it also often serves as the stopover for foreign visitors continuing their journey to Bali. There are museums around the Merdeka Square and Jakarta Old Town. Some of the tourist attractions are Taman Mini, Ragunan Zoo, Indonesia Indah and Sunda Kelapa. There is also the Ancol Dreamland complex on Jakarta Bay, including several theme parks. The local currency is Indonesia Rupiah (10000 IDR are roughly £0.63).

A stay at the Le Meridien Jakarta starts at 1666000IDR (£105) and you get great rates booking through Traveloka . You can check the website here.

Have you been to Jakarta? What did you think of the city? Please let me know in the comments below. 

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom Last month  I went to Paris for a day to meet Lix. I needed to have a change of scenery. I was inside most of the two last month with a broken ankle. Was that easy for me and my mood? No! I always have to do something. A rest for a day or two is great, but after that I am bored. It was a good idea to go to Paris and I looked at hotels that were central, not too big and whose interior design pleased my eye. In the end I chose my favourite, the boutique Hotel R de Paris in Rue de Clichy, not too far from the famous Moulin Rouge and the Palais Garnier Opera House.

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris was completely renovated in 2013 and brings together tradition and modernity ‘in the spirit of a chic Parisian apartment.’ I absolutely fell in love with the interior design and it’s by far my favourite hotel room design. I stayed at a lot of amazing hotels in the past and while their interior design has been great too, this is how I would design my bedroom at home. It comes with a lovely sized bathroom and a separate toilet.  There is a lot of mosaic in the bathroom and I am usually not a fan of mosaic. If it’s done properly, it looks amazing, but the mosaic trend has become so popular it often just looks tacky. However, the interior designer at Hotel R has done it just right. Take a look for yourself!

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

The bathroom

The bathroom offers an Italian shower with an LED chromotherapy system, dressing gowns, slippers and a range of luxury welcome gifts from Hermès, heated towel rails and of course a hair dryer. The toiletries smell so good, I actually took one set of them home.

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

I stayed in one of the Executive rooms on the fifth floor. I was lucky to have a room with its own balcony overlooking Rue de Clichy and Rue Moncey. The executive rooms are between 20-25m² and are all equipped with a high-end 180x200cm bed. The bed is so comfortable I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Unfortunately Lix’s coach got into Paris very early and I had to wake up at 6am. Next time in Paris I will not wake up much earlier than check out time. Every room has its own individual remote control heating and air conditioning, that’s a big plus for me as I love to have the AC on full-blast. It’s a non smoking hotel.

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

Hotel R de Paris - Executive bedroom

And last…

If you are planning to visit Paris, I can only recommend you staying at this hotel. Considering hotel prices in Paris, this upmarket boutique hotel is very reasonably priced. I paid 156€ for my night at the hotel. The staff at the hotel have been incredibly helpful, friendly and made my stay a very pleasant one. Would I return to Hotel R de Paris? Bien sûr!

Dubrovnik Croatia

A holiday in Croatia has been on top of my travel wish list for quite a while now and I actually planned to go for a few days in August, but then I had an accident and broke my ankle, meaning I wasn’t able to go anywhere. I never thought about going to Croatia, until a few years ago, when I saw an amazing trailer for a yacht and party holiday. Croatia with all its little islands is beautiful, there is something for everyone, whether they want to enjoy the nightlife, the nature or the Croatian cuisine. My dream holiday would be to stay on a boat and go from island to island, staying in a different place every night. My friend spent the summer doing exactly that and let me tell you, the pictures she took were breathtaking.

Island hopping in Croatia

What I love about Croatia is the beauty of all the different islands along the rocky coastline. Croatia has more than one thousand islands. Every island is different and when I go on holiday in Croatia I would love to island hop. One of the most popular island hopping route is from Split to Dubrovnik, visiting Brač, Hvar and Korčula on the way. It’s quite easy to do in that order and it also lets you see the best of Dalmatia. Several ferries take you from Split to Supetar on Brač, which is known for its white-pebble beach Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape), a known windsurfing site just outside the resort town Bol. However, Zlatni Rat is over-popular and if you prefer it a bit more quiet, Lovrečina Bay is a great alternative.

Hvar Island Croatia

From Brač you can take a daily catamaran from Bol to Jelsa on Hvar, from there you can take a bus to Hvar Town that is known for its compulsive mixture of Renaissance architecture and nightlife. Another catamaran service that runs every day, takes you from Hvar Town to Korčula. Korčula is known for the medieval towers and walls fortifying its harbor. The town’s beaches include Vela Przina, a wide crescent that’s popular with families, and Pupnatska Luka, a beautiful turquoise cove.

Korcula Island Croatia

From Korčula you can choose a catamaran or a bus ride to Dubrovnik. Visiting Dubrovnik will be a spectacular climax after all the other amazing little islands. It certainly is a great way to end your holiday in Croatia.

How to get to Croatia

It’s quite easy to get to Croatia. Daily non-stop flights depart from London to Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split and Pula with British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair.  I am sure a holiday in Croatia is an experience nobody will ever forget. I can’t wait to finally go to Croatia. This year it looks rather unlikely as I am also moving to Abu Dhabi next month, but it’s definitely happening next year.

Have you been on a holiday in Croatia? Where did you go and did you like it? Let me know in the comment box below. If you happened to have blogged about it, please leave your links as well. I am looking forward to hear about your experiences. 

Abu-Dhabi-Sheikh-Zayed-Grand-Mosque

It’s official. I am moving to Abu Dhabi in October and I can’t wait.

According to the lovely Lix my life is a rollercoaster and I couldn’t agree more with her, but it’s the unpredictability of my life that makes my life what it is. I am not saying it’s always great, but whose life is? Moving to Abu Dhabi will be another chapter in my life and I am very excited.

 

How did I decide to move to Abu Dhabi?

Earlier this year I thought I was moving back to London. I found a great position to start in August and handed in my notice at work. In June I spent ten days in London. There I was not only reminded of the things that I missed about living in London, but also of those that made me leave in 2014. Taking the tube during rush hour, delayed and cancelled trains. People rushing from A to B without noticing others around them. Homeless people begging for money in an area where 5 Million Pound houses are considered a bargain. The constant rushing and most importantly: The majority of the UK had actually voted for Brexit. I was awake the entire night and couldn’t believe it. Of course, that’s a completely different matter and I don’t want to discuss it here – right now.

Back then I didn’t think I would be moving to Abu Dhabi anytime soon.

In the end, I decided against moving back to London for several reasons, my health being the most important one and I had another job offer in Bern, Switzerland. The position was more challenging and better paid. I was meant to start at the beginning of August but then I had an accident and was unable to start the position.

There I was at the hospital with a broken ankle and the doctor’s statement that I wasn’t able to work a minimum of two months. Well, two months if I was lucky. It was a very difficult fraction and he said it’s more likely to be three to four months. Luckily, my second surgery when very well and I am able to work in October again.

 

I always thought about moving to Abu Dhabi

Last year I applied for a position in Abu Dhabi and actually went there for an interview. The job sounded great, but it wasn’t for me. Many employers in the Middle East only want native English speakers and even though I speak English fluently, I was turned down for many positions. For others I was too young. In the end I gave up and stayed in Germany for a year and never tried to apply for a position in the Middle East again.

While I was in the hospital, I saw a position advertised in Abu Dhabi starting in October. I knew I was able to work again then and I thought with all the bad luck I had, maybe I should apply. A day later I received an email and just a few hours after my second surgery, I had a phone interview. One hour later I had the job. I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s a very good fit and it’s only one more month until I am on the plane to Abu Dhabi.

Have you been to Abu Dhabi? What did you think?

Broken Ankle Flowers
My last blog post was a while ago. I don’t know where the time has been since I clicked Publish for the last time. Shortly afterwards the last post went live on my blog, I travelled to Bern for an interview and to spend some time in the town to see if I like it. While Bern is not London, where I had hoped to move back to just a few weeks before, I liked Bern and the position was everything I could ask for. While I was looking forward to go back to London, I wasn’t too sad when I made the decision to move to Bern and I accepted the offer.
Processed with VSCO with 10 preset
On the train back to Lugano, I suddenly got very sick. I got fever and chills. I could feel it wasn’t just a fever, but it was actually quite high. The entire train ride home, I just wanted to get home and go to bed. Once I got to Lugano, I had troubles getting off the train as I felt dizzy and I could hardly walk. With a lot of effort, I pulled my suitcase to the taxi rank only to see that there was a long queue but no taxis. Great. After I waited for almost twenty minutes, I got in the taxi and all of I sudden I felt a stabbing pain in my left chest. I texted my employer who told me to go straight to the hospital and the taxi driver took me there. Upon arrival, I had 40 degrees Celsius, but luckily my heart was fine. They couldn’t find a reason for my fever and kept me in hospital for three days, doing several blood tests and other tests. For 24 hours the fever came and went, despite medication and they kept testing for several viruses, but all came back negative. After three days I felt much better and I could go home, just in time to prepare packing for a holiday in Sicily.
Processed with VSCO with 5 presetThe first week in Sicily, we stayed in San Vito Lo Capo. San Vito Lo Capo is a town in North-Western Sicily and has only 4000 inhabitants. The town is located in a valley and you get a view of the surrounding mountains. Beautiful.  I spent six nights in one of the hotels there, but most of the days I spent on the boat, with day trips to the island Favignana and one day we went up to a small mountain village called Erice. The second week we took the boat from San Vito Lo Capo and after a stop in Isole delle Femmine and Palermo, we stayed five nights in the port of Cefalu. I really liked Cefalu and was very sad when we left, but I was also looking forward to sleep in a normal bed again.
Processed with VSCO with 10 preset
Just a week after the return from Sicily, I was meant to move to Bern and have a small holiday in London before starting my new position on the 9th of August. I was really looking forward to a new start, even though I dreaded packing all my belongings again. I just moved in January to Lugano and it took almost two months until I was fully settled. However, moving would also mean that I get to decorate a new place, choose furniture and make a new ‘home’. All in all I couldn’t wait. Little did I know that I would have a little accident just a day after returning from Sicily.

One of the things I had to do in my last week in Lugano, was to go to the local comune and to notify them about my departure. I had to sign some papers and tell them that I will move to another comune for a new job. On the way there it happened. I chose a shortcut from the house into the village, a small grass path I had walked 100s of times up and down. It’s very narrow and on the right, it goes downhill, not deep but steep. The grass was quite high and I didn’t see where the path ended and the grass slope started.

Broken Ankle Flowers
What happened next will probably give me nightmares for a while: The grass was still a bit wet and I only wore espadrilles, that I bought in Sicily, with a flat sole and my right leg slipped down the slope. It all went so fast and all I could hear was a loud crack coming from my left leg. It took me probably two minutes, at least it felt so long, until I could look at my ankle and I wish I hadn’t. It was dislocated and completely turned to the left. Luckily I was in shock and the pain wasn’t too bad. I was unable to unlock my iPhone and started to scream in panic. I called for my employer, I called for help. Aiuto! Aiuto! After a short while I was able to unlock my phone and I tried to phone my boss, but she didn’t reply. My best bet was to call an ambulance and that’s what I did. The lady who answered the phone only spoke a little German and no English, she thought I was in a fight with my partner as I was crying and couldn’t talk properly. Luckily, two workers from the construction side nearby, came running and I handed one of them the phone while explaining the other to get my employer. They talked to the medical dispatcher in Italian, they saw my foot and they could also explain the exact location. She then spoke to me and told me that the ambulance will come soon.
Processed with VSCO with 10 preset
 Shortly afterwards the ambulance arrived and so did my boss. She was shocked when she saw my foot and directly called her sister-in-law who is a doctor at the hospital to come outside and ‘greet’ me when the ambulance gets to the hospital. Three medics started asking me questions, how it happened, whether I fell on my head and I tried to answer, but I was still in shock and talking wasn’t easy. I could hardly hear what they were saying, all the colours around me were ‘weak’ and I felt like I was standing beside me. The medics gave me some painkillers and started to prepare me for transport. Inside the ambulance I got more painkillers as the first didn’t seem to help and within minutes we got to the hospital. Once inside the hospital a doctor immediately came, looked at my foot and his eyes said everything. The nurse asked me to undress and put on a hospital gown, I already knew that didn’t mean anything good and shortly afterwards I had my first x-ray. It confirmed my ankle was broken, but they didn’t tell me too much. They knew it would freak me out and I was already very scared knowing that they would have to relocate my ankle. It was going to be very painful and I wished it was just a dream.  Unfortunately, it was not. Luckily, they told me that they will sedate me and that I won’t feel any pain during the procedure and I didn’t. I just saw the moment two doctors put the ankle back in place, but I felt no pain and a few minutes later I woke up and I was ready to go up to a hospital room to wait for my surgery. You can’t imagine how thirsty I was but I wasn’t allowed to drink or eat anything. It was very hot in Lugano and the hospital didn’t have air conditioning, so I just hoped that I won’t have to wait too long until the surgery, but they told me it was around 8pm or even later.
My boss visited me around 6pm and a few minutes later they picked me up for the surgery, much earlier than I thought and I was very scared. The nurse and my employer brought me downstairs to the operation theatre, where I had to say goodbye to my boss. Once inside, they prepared me for surgery. The surgeon answered all the questions I had and explained the procedure to me. They would use an external fixator to stabilise the broken ankle until I could have the final surgery a few days later. He said it will only take fifteen minutes and assured me that everything will be fine. The anesthetist who had earlier sedated me, arrived and started with the general anesthesia. Of course, I can’t remember what happened next, but I woke up around an hour later and I felt okay with no pain. The nurses brought me back upstairs and after they checked my blood pressure I could finally drink and eat something.
Processed with VSCO with 5 preset
My parents arrived in Lugano the following day and stayed for four nights. Initially the doctor thought I could have the second and final surgery on Friday and that I was able to go home the Tuesday after, but a CT scan showed that everything was worse than thought and that I couldn’t have surgery until at least the following Tuesday. I had broken the ankle three times, a very complicated fraction and a ruptured ligament. The days at the hospital were long and the nights were short. I got lots of medicine, painkillers as tablets, morphine injected into my leg and thrombosis shots – every single night. I couldn’t sleep well, so I also got sleeping tablets and yet, I woke up many times during the night. The first week I shared the room with three ladies as the hospital was full but the doctors promised me to transfer me to another hospital where I have a room to myself.
Just as promised, I moved to the other hospital on Sunday, just a day before the Swiss National Day and while the hospitals belong together, the other one was just recently renovated and it was so lovely there. The hospital had air conditioning, electrical blinds and I had a TV in my room. I was also a bit more independent. On Tuesday, the 2nd of August, I finally had my surgery and everything went very well. I have three plates on my ankle bones now, and I have to walk on crutches until the end of September. Last Sunday I could finally go home. I am currently in Cologne and stay with my best friend Kim. Luckily, there is a very good private clinic here who specialises in orthopedy. Three times a week I have physical therapy and manual lymphatic drainages there. I will also start with isokinetic training. Every day I have to take a lot of painkillers, when the pain gets really bad I have to take morphine and I had to learn how to inject myself with the thrombosis shots. That’s what I have to do every single night until the end of September. On Wednesday the stitches will be removed and then another four weeks before I have another x-ray.
I am trying to be as positive as possible, but it’s hard. I am unable to do the most basic things and it’s hard. I am grateful to be able to afford someone to help me with my daily life, take me in a wheelchair everywhere I need to go, help me with my shopping, cleaning, cooking and so on. I have found another job in Abu Dhabi and I will start in October, so you can imagine how excited I am. I have seven weeks now and I want to concentrate more on my blog, I am planning to move to WordPress next month and redesign a little bit. I also want to focus a bit on improving my Italian. It’s important to me to try and do as much as possible during the time I can’t work.
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you all have a lovely week.

Holiday Cruise Ship
 As a blogger who interacts with fellow bloggers on Twitter and Instagram a lot, I see more and more people sharing their holiday cruise adventures and every single picture makes me very jealous. I have travelled a fair bit, but I have never been on a holiday cruise and I would really love to. This year it will become a bit difficult as I am starting a new job soon and I don’t know when I can have time off, but next year would be a good time. One of my dream destinations are the Fjords, Island and the Arctic. I once watched a documentary about it and it was so beautiful, I really hope to do it one day.
Cruising is such an easy and convenient way to travel. You only need to unpack once and you can experience different cities in different countries in one cruise holiday. I also think it’s good value for money. The cost of a holiday cruise often includes not only accommodation, but also dining and entertainment as well as many on board activities. You also don’t have to buy for flights, trains or any other form of transport to get from one city to the next.
I am already researching a little bit for next year and there are so many things to consider. Luckily, holiday cruise lines such as Thomson Cruises offer a lot of advice to first time cruisers like me. Two questions I immediately asked myself, first what I will need to pack and secondly, how will my on-board experience be as a solo traveller?

What do I need to pack for a holiday cruise?

There is no need to pack differently than for any other holiday, but it’s a good idea to take a wind jacket with you. There is often a strong sea breeze and it would be a shame if you would stay inside all day. The dress code on board is smart-casual, and you can pack something a bit for fancier for formal dinners, where black ties and cocktail dresses should be worn. Of course you also need to consider the dress code of the countries to will stop in, for example, if you plan to visit an Islamic country you should wear something that covers your shoulders and knees. Also, if you plan on visiting a mosque or any other holy site, it’s important to cover your hair, arms and legs. So, that’s something you should consider.
Holiday Cruise Ship Deck

Will Solo travellers enjoy a cruise?

That’s one important point to me. I often travel on my own and while it’s easy to meet fellow travellers abroad, I wondered how it will be on a cruise. Should I choose to travel next year, it’s most likely that I will go on the trip by myself. I would have never thought that the cruises have a social hostess on board who arranges get-togethers for solo travellers, for example dinner and coffee mornings. This completely changed my view on cruises, as I thought it’s mainly for couples and families.
Of course, there are many more things to consider, and if you have any cruise travel tips please let me know. If you are thinking about going on a cruise soon, why don’t you check out Summer 2016 cruises to awesome locations like Dubrovnik, Barcelona and Venice?

How to find the perfect TV
As you might know, I am relocating back to London in August and I can’t wait to move. Right now, there isn’t much point in buying the things I need and want, so I will wait until I have moved back to London soon.

One of the things on my list is buying a new TV.

I lived without a TV for the last two years and although I am not the biggest TV watcher, I miss having one. Once I settle in my new place, I would really like to buy a new television and have it in my bedroom to watch my shows and movies on Netflix. Watching my favourite programs on the laptop is okay, but it gets difficult when I have friends around and more than two people try and watch a film on a 13 inch screen. As you can imagine, a great movie night is almost impossible. I know nothing about TV’s and I have to admit until now I never really cared, but now that I am looking at all the different options out there, I feel really lost. There are so many choices, different screen sizes, the type of screen technology (What’s the difference between Plasma, LED and LCD?) and of course: every TV seems to have different extras. Buying a TV can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

Online help when buying a TV

Luckily, online I found this great TV buying guide and after reading it I feel less overwhelmed by the choice out there when buying a TV. Of course the first thing you should decide on, is the screen size of your new device. It’s the diagonal measurement between the two corners. While the screen sizes can go up to 50 inches or more, I would prefer to have something smaller, around 36 inches or even 32.

One of the things I would like to have is a display resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, meaning it’s HD compatible. It’s always good to look out for the Full HD logo. Next comes the type of display. Today there are four different technologies on the market: Plasma, LCD, LED and 3D. All are different. Apart from the 3D I am sure I would not be able to tell the difference though. As I said before, I didn’t know much about TV technology before reading the guide. LED seems to be the flattest screens out there, so it’s probably an option I would look at.
Did you recently buy a TV? Which TV do you have and can you recommend it? 

The Real Cost of Being an Expat
I moved abroad for the first time just two months after my seventeenth birthday. I wanted to take a break after the 10th grade and improve my English. Becoming an Aupair in England seemed the perfect choice. It gave me independence and the opportunity to discover another culture. Back then, I never thought I would still be an expat almost ten years later.
It’s been nearly nine years, four countries and even a short stay back in Germany since I first said goodbye to family and friends.

Personal life as an expat

Being an expat is great when you are young; single and you don’t have a care in the world. Now I am slowly starting to realise what a cost expat life has to my personal life. I am nearly 26 and never had a serious relationship with someone. My friends back at home get to experience all those things. They are moving in with their partner, getting married or even having children. I don’t even know where I will be next year and making commitments in my personal life is very difficult, if not impossible.  Well, I had what you would consider a serious relationship with someone for three years, but he is constantly moving for work too. One year I actually ended up flying back and forth to New York City twice a month. However, we had an age gap of fifteen years. He wanted to get married and have children. For me it was too serious when I was 23. I dumped him and with him London shortly after.

How did my life as an expat start?

In 2007 I said goodbye to my grandfather who kindly dropped me off at the airport in Cologne with two suitcases. A very kind airline didn’t charge me for the eight kilos excess luggage I had.  Of course, my parents weren’t at the airport, after all I had fallen out with them over a year ago. Back then we were on non speaking terms. Shortly after drinking milkshakes with my grandfather and boarding the plane, I landed at Stansted Airport and was excited to start a new part of my life. At the beginning I lived in Sevenoaks, where I also went to college. In January 2009 I moved to London. I fell in love with the British culture, yes, I was young and naive and at the beginning everything looked perfect. The move to London as a just recently turned 18 year old girl seems like everyone’s dream and it was mine. Even though I worked 5-6 days a week, I would be out partying three to five times a week. Sometimes I would only have two hours of sleep. Those were the days, when I still had the energy. In 2011 I wanted a change from London and I go somewhere else. I knew that I wanted to return to London after one or two years. After a successful job interview in Brussels the moving van and I were off to Belgium’s capital in April 2011.

The expat bubble

While I never felt like an expat in England, I felt like one in Brussels from day one to the day I moved. Belgian people do not welcome foreigners with open arms, at least all my expat friends and I thought so. Being an expat is like an inner circle. You go to great events thanks to organisations like Internations and meet other expats but you never truly belong to one place or to that local group of girlfriends who see laughing and chatting in the cafe around the corner. It’s hard to break out of that circle.
Surely, I met many great people on the way, but I feel, although those friendships are great, they hardly ever go deeper than having great times together. Can I say I would ever count on one of them when my house burns down and I need a place to live? I am not sure. Also, many expats of course will move to another city or country at some stage. Some stay a year,  some a bit longer, but hardly ever someone stays for good.

My friends are all over the world

Of course, I have really great friendships with people I met when I was a young teenager, but they are still back at ‘home’.  They don’t understand what it means to leave everything behind you, to start from scratch in each new country you move to. They don’t know what it means never to know, how long you will stay in your new place and it’s hard to explain it to them.

While I am writing this, I am sitting at home – on my own, wishing someone would be here to watch the first match of the German soccer team with me tonight. I know I am moving back to London in August, where I feel home and I hope I am staying for at least two years. Including the move to London, I am moving for the fourth time in 20 months and financially I can’t afford another move anytime soon.

DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
 In 2012 I had my first Brazilian blow dry also known as the Keratin Treatment. I have natural curly hair, unfortunately not the nice kind of curls that look lovely, but the frizzy bird nest kind of curls. My hair is dry and overall not in the best condition as I straighten it a lot. I heard many good things about the Keratin Treatment and after googling before and after pictures I decided to go ahead. If this would really and all I would need to do is to let my hair dry after washing it, it would certainly change my daily life. Back then in 2012 it was quite a new treatment in the UK and quite pricey. I found Jana, a passionate and great hairdresser who specialises in Keratin Treatments and hair extensions. She came regularly to my house until I left London at the end of 2014 to turn my dry and frizzy curls into shiny manageable hair.

Then I moved to Cologne in 2015. Over there the treatment is not as known as it is in the UK and only one hairdresser offers it. I phoned the owner and she quoted me 400€. That is a lot of money in Germany, but I was desperate and went ahead. 400€ spent and one hair wash later, my hair was just as before. I’ve had the treatment many times so I know what to expect and how my hair will be like. Needless to say I was not very amused, especially as I had to find an alternative. I googled online and found reviews of a DIY Brazilian Keratin Blow Dry. I tried it for the first time in October 2015, it took me a quite a while, but the results were just as amazing as when Jana did it.

I ordered the Brazilian Keratin Treatment – Home Hair Straightening Kit on Amazon. The complete kit that you can order the first time costs £27.99 and includes all you need to get started: 30ml Pre-treatment clarifying shampoo, 100ml Keratin Treatment, one application brush, one comb and two hairclips as well as gloves and instructions. The Top Up Kit includes the shampoo, the treatment, gloves and instructions so if you don’t need the hair clips, application brush and the comb you can order it for £24.99.
Below a picture of my hair today, just before the treatment. I haven’t had the treatment since mid December and as I usually just use normal shampoo*, I have to do the treatment every three months. My hair was back to its usual condition, very dry and hard to manage. Unfortunately, I could not get hold of the product in Switzerland and I had to wait until I saw my old boss in London who had ordered it for me. At the same time my GHD hair straightener broke and I only got the replacement last Friday. *I’ll explain this later in the post.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin TreatmentBefore you start, make sure you have everything you need: Hair straighteners that heat up to 220°C eg. GHDs, a hair dryer, the product including instructions, a comb, hair clips and a round brush as well as the gloves.
Then, I started by washing my hair twice with the Pre-Treatment Clarifying Shampoo, I rinsed it thoroughly  and let it towel dry a bit.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
Then I blow-dried my hair straight on a medium heat with a round brush until it was completely dry. I have a lot of hair, so it takes me a good twenty minutes.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
I then combed the hair thoroughly, each section has to be combed around five times.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
It’s time to apply to the product. I put on my gloves and a surgical mask, not everyone advises you and it’s not in the instructions, but my old hairdresser Jana told me it’s better to wear one. I have a doctor in the family, so I have a big box and I always use it when I apply the treatment.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
I started applying the product on my terrace, if you don’t have a terrace or balcony you should at least have a window open or use a fan. With the comb I applied the product into small sections of my hair, only avoiding the scalp. I comb out the excess and it took me almost half an hour to apply the product. After 20 Minutes I could start blow drying (away from the face) the hair on a medium heat.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
Once the hair is completely dry, I used the hair straighter five times on each section. It’s important to do it so many times to seal in the treatment. This part of applying the treatment, always takes me at least one hour. I have so much hair, but knowing that for the next twelve weeks I only have to do very little with my hair after I wash it, makes it worthwhile. Look at the picture below, this is how my hair will look like without me having to straighten it at all almost three months. It’s very straight now, but once I wash it it looks more voluminous and wavy.
DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment
Ideally you should only use salt-free shampoo after the treatment for maximum results, but I only use normal shampoo for coloured hair and it usually lasts around 12 weeks. I don’t need to use any conditioner with this treatment anymore, otherwise my hair gets quite oily.

DIY Brazilian Blowdry Keratin Treatment

Now I can’t wash my hair for three days and it looks quite flat, but after my hair has been washed for the first time, I will share more pictures here. This product has truly changed my life. I was so conscious about my hair. No matter how long I would straighten it, after one hour it looked dry and frizzy again. Thanks to the Brazilian Keratin Blow Dry I have shiny hair even when I let my hair air dry. Before, I was unable to grow my hair past shoulder length as I had split ends and I couldn’t let it grow. Too many haircuts were needed, but now I only need to go to the hairdresser every three months and my hair is much longer now. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.

Have you tried the Brazilian Blowdry before? What did you think? Is it something you would try? 

Disclaimer: Contains affiliate links. 

Venice Italy

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world, I actually find it more romantic than Paris even though I have never been to Venice. I guess it just appeals more to me as a very unromantic person. At the moment I am a lot in Milan for work and on my days off, I would like to explore a bit more of Italy. Venice is on top of my list and I hope I can go soon after the trips I have currently booked.

HOW TO GET TO VENICE

Venice-Grand-Canal-Italy-TravelThe easiest way to get from the UK to Venice is to fly. There are several non-stop flights from London Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton airport. British Airways also flies from London City Airport. It takes around two hours. From the airport you can take an Alilaguna water bus. Once you exit the arrival halls, look for the covered walkway on the left and follow the walkway for around seven minutes until you reach the dock. The water bus stops at San Marco (1 hour and 12 minutes), Rialto (57 minutes), Fondamenta Nuove (38 minutes) and Le Guglie (42 minutes).
THINGS TO DO IN VENICE

Piazza-San-Marco-Venice-Italy-Daytime

If you are an early riser and like to start exploring earlier than the average tourist, head to St Mark’s Square early before it gets too crowded. You will be able to see the square in all its glory. At 9am the sung mass at the Basilica starts and the spiritual singing will start your day in a very romantic way.

Gallerie_dell'accademia-Venice-Italy

Afterwards you can cross the Grand Canal and stroll through the streets of Dorsoduro. You can find a hidden café to avoid the rising crowds of San Marco or San Paolo and enjoy your breakfast in peace. Recommended places are Tea Room Beatrice on Calle Lunga San Barnaba 2727A and Pasticceria Tonolo on Dorsoduro 3764.

While you are in the area, you can stop at the Gallerie dell’Accademia to look at some Renaissance classics. Tickets cost 10€, the gallery is open Mondays from 8.15am to 2pm and Tuesdays to Sundays from 8.15am to 7.15pm.

Canale di Cannaregio Venice Italy

If you fancy a walk, you should discover Venice’s less popular areas: Venice’s beauty is prominent on every street and every corner. You can head to Cannaregio, north from San Polo, drink a glass of Prosecco by the canal and eat delicious crostini.

Venice-Italy-Gondola

Of course no trip to Venice would be complete without taking a ride in on of the city’s famous gondolas to admire the Venice’s waterways. Of course there are many more great things to do in Venice. Don’t forget to eat gelato.

WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE

Hotel-Danieli-Venice-Entrance

If you have money to splurge, you can stay at Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, close to Piazza San Marco with a view over the Venice lagoon. The hotel is set in a lavish Venetian building with it’s own private water entrance leading into the Palazzo Dandolo.

Hotel-Danieli-Venice-Room

The opulent rooms featuring high ceilings and plush drapes f offer free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Of course this hotel wouldn’t be the same without it’s room service and the inhouse restaurants serves gourmet Venetian cuisine. Further, the hotel has a cocktail bar, a wine suite and offers amazing views from the terrace. Rooms start from £350 per night.

LaGare-Hotel-Venice-Murano

A good mid range hotel is the LaGare Hotel Venizia MGallery by Sofitel on the waterfront of Murano Island. It’s a contemporary redbrick hotel adjacent to the ferry docks offering boats to Venice and it’s only a four minute walk from the seventh century church Chiesa dei Santi Maria e Donato.

The hotel feature sedate, modern decor and wood floors, the rooms have flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and a minibar. Breakfast is complimentary and the hotel has a restaurant as well as a bar with terrace. Rooms start from £115.

Venice is beautiful all year around and if you fancy a city trip to Venice, it’s best to book early. Venice’s tourist population outnumbers its residents on any given day in the summer, it gets especially busy during the Venice carnival.

Have you been to Venice? What did you think? 

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Review-Pod-Room

Two weeks ago I went floating for the first time in my life and I loved it. I was invited by Chris, the co-owner of Floatworks, to try out floating in one of their I-sopod tanks for one hour and I can recommend everyone to give it a try.My appointment was scheduled at 10:30am and I arrived a little bit early. Floatworks Vauxhall is very easy to find, once you leave the Tube Station you see St. George Wharfs in front of you and walking up the stairs you will already see Floatworks. You can’t miss it.

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Review

The team at Floatworks Vauxhall

The team was very friendly and explained everything in detail to me. There was one more question I had: Was it okay to leave the light on during the session? While I am not claustrophobic, I have Nyctophobia. I am scared of being in the dark. When I am alone, I always sleep with a light on. I addressed this to the receptionist and he told me it’s okay, but I should at least try it once I am relaxed. I was reassured that I could switch the light anytime as there is a button inside the pod.

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Review-Reception

His colleague picked me up and we walked through a door leading to the lockers, where you change your shoes to comfortable Havainas flip-flops, get your towels and you can lock everything you don’t need in the lockers. I left my smartphone behind, something I usually never do, even when I sleep it’s always by my side. There is no need for your phone in the pod room and I actually think it is rather disturbing. One thing less to worry about.

 

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Review-Changing-Room-Area

What to do before floating?

The preparation for a relaxing and the successful floating experience starts at home. It’s best to avoid caffeine for a few hours before your session as it can prevent you from getting into the meditation zone. I had peppermint tea for breakfast and a bit of omelette. You also shouldn’t eat too much before the session, a light meal a few hours before the session is ideal. If you exercise before the session, the relaxation will be more pronounced. Ideal is yoga or a good run, but any form of exercise is fine.

What to avoid before a float

Also, if you smoke, don’t smoke just before the float. Nicotine is a stimulant and ideally not enjoyed before the float or best never. I also didn’t shave before the session, the salty water won’t feel great on freshly shaved skin and the team provides you with vaseline to cover up any cuts and scratches. Pre-float it’s best to drink some ice-cold water. It’s important to stay hydrated and yet, you have to go the bathroom before the float. You don’t want to get out of the tank once you are in it.

 

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Review-Pod-Room

You don’t need to take anything but yourself to Floatworks. They provide everything you need from super comfy towels, high quality moldable ear plugs that actually stay in your ears, robe to SLS free organic toiletries. After your float, you can go upstairs where you not only find a chill out area, but also a vanity room with lighted mirrors, hairdryers and GHD hair straighteners. You can wear a bathing suit if you feel uncomfortable going in naked, however it’s best to go nude.

Inside the pod room

Every pod room has its own shower, so it’s all very private and you won’t notice that there are other people floating in other rooms at the same time. I undressed, put in my ear plugs and had a quick shower. It’s important to put in the ear plugs before you shower or at least, before you climb into the tank. I had a quick shower and dried my face properly before getting into the floating tank.

 

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Float-Tank

Inside the pod was a blue relaxing light on and I was ready to climb in. I wondered whether I would actually float, but all I had to do was to relax and lay back. Unfortunately, there was no music as promised and for a minute I thought something was wrong. After a few minutes I forgot about it and I enjoyed the feeling of warm water on my skin. I chose to not wear a swimsuit and I would recommend everyone to do the same.

The floating experience

So, there was I in the floating tank and I had so many things on my mind. What happens when I fall asleep and won’t hear the music at the end? How will my job interview be? Hopefully I don’t get salt water in my eyes (Don’t worry, unless you touch your eyes like I did, the water will not go further than your temples when you lay back). As you can guess, I find it very hard to relax and not to think about anything.

 

After a while I had to open the lid a bit, as it was too warm for me. It’s not too hot actually, but if you know me, you know how much I hate heat and I am rather too cold than too hot. Once I had a bit of fresh air on my face, I started to relax. I completely lost my sense of time. I can’t remember how long I had been in the water. Was it half an hour? Forty minutes? I wasn’t sure and I didn’t care.

 

Floatworks Floatation Shower

After a while, the music started playing and I knew it was time for me to slowly leave the tank and have a shower. I was so relaxed coming out of the pod, I actually got a bit scared when the filter started cleaning the tank. It’s important to have a really good rinse afterwards and to condition your hair. Floatworks provides everything you need, organic shower gel, shampoo and a lovely smelling conditioner. After the session, I went upstairs in the Hollywood Room to blow dry and straighten my hair.

Floatworks-Vauxhall-Chillout-RoomUnfortunately, my weekend in London was rather busy and I had to rush out for an interview following the session, hence I couldn’t enjoy a cup of tea in the Chillout room. I am in London again next month for over three weeks and I will probably be very stressed out from my intensive driving course, so that I have at least one session during that time.

After the session, I felt very relaxed (I find it hard to relax, so that tells us something) and with my interview straight after my Floatworks visit I should have had every reason to be nervous, but I wasn’t. I also noted that my skin felt great after, I have very dry and rough elbows and it actually hurt a bit while I was in the water, but for a week after the session my skin including my elbows felt great and not dry at all. It’s been nearly two weeks now and I can still an improvement.

 

The benefits of floating

Floating has other benefits too. Research has shown that floatation therapy has a significant impact on mood enhancement. It promotes total calm and peaceful relaxation, eliminates fatigue and jet lag and improves sleep. I can vouch for that one, I slept like a baby the night after and I usually struggle to fall asleep. Further, it diminishes depression, anxiety and fear and increases motivation.

Floatworks was found in 1993 and since then the company has sent more than 150,000 customers back into the world feeling happier and healthier than they arrived.  To find out about more about Floatworks and floating, you can visit the Floatworks Vauxhall website.

Disclaimer: I received one complimentary floating session in exchange for an honest review. Most pictures in this article are by Fabio Zaveti - My iPhone didn't take the best pictures.