Treehouse apartment with breakfast? Yes, please!

Easter, bunnies and other animals

How was your Easter? We had a busy, but relaxing four days and are looking forward to another four-day long weekend next week (Thursday May 1st is ‘May Day’ and Michael also took Friday off)!

Prepping the table for Easter lunch...bunnies galore!

Prepping the table for Easter lunch…bunnies galore!

It kicked off on Thursday evening, as we drove to the countryside to stay over at a friend’s house and then have a fish lunch the next day. Good Friday, or as it is called in Germany, Karfreitag, is a day that is respected in many ways that involve a whole bunch of rules. Of course, we’re in Germany!

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Third Advent

I can’t remember the Advent weekends being such a big deal in Australia, but in Germany it definitely is.

This past weekend marked the third advent and in celebration we had a big brunch out in the countryside at our friend’s place.

Unwrapping the Christmas tree

Unwrapping the Christmas tree

Relaxing by the fire

Relaxing by the fire

We stayed overnight and sat by the fire, setting up her Christmas tree. The next morning we got up early and started preparing all the food for the 21 guests who were coming for brunch at 11am.

Taking the beef out of the oven

Taking the beef out of the oven

After hours of slow cooking, it's on to 5 minutes on the grill!

After hours of slow cooking, it’s on to 5 minutes on the grill!

At 9am we put a 4.5 Kilo cut of beef into the oven, to be slow cooked for a few hours. We were thinking about 3, but it turned out to almost need 5! We surrounded the cut with plenty of garlic and onions.

We prepared a fruit salad (banana, grape, pomegranate, orange and honey), some self-made Berner sausages (filled with cheese, wrapped in bacon strips), Italian sausages, pancake mix, chicken drumsticks, salad (cucumber, tomato, mozzarella in balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing) and a number of desserts. Most of the food we made, but the guests also brought some dishes. A friend of ours brought Kölsch beer, a type of specialty beer that comes from Cologne and we had wines and juices as well.

It was a whole load of food and we ended up leaving around 3pm. After 4 hours of feeding we definitely did not need any dinner!

I’m not sure how people usually spend the third Advent but this is a tradition that I’d be glad to carry on.

Happy holidays and til next week!


Get in my belly

Ok so I am only getting around to posting now because we’ve just been enjoying spending time in Australia with the family and meeting up with friends. The weather was amazing for the first 3 days but now it’s raining and hopefully it’ll get better again soon.

Brekky at home

Brekky at home

It’s been a bit of a food adventure because mum’s cooking is the best thing ever. Our first night here we had homemade dumplings, we’ve also had meals with friends, a wedding, a big brunch with chorizo, hash browns, eggs, onions and of course, bacon.

But tonight, we are feasting on homemade pork belly. The meat was bought this afternoon, then scored with a sharp knife and seasoned with pepper, salt, olive oil and vinegar. Then it was up in the oven at 210 degrees for 40 minutes with the skin side down, and then another 40 minutes the other way around.

Pork ready to get in my belly

Pork ready to get in my belly

Slicing the pork belly

Slicing the pork belly

We’ve only got a few more days here (til Saturday) but we have a lot more planned and I will make sure I post about our BA long-haul experience when I return to Germany. Til then, hope you’re keeping dry!

Vivid Sydney Lighting Festival

The cold is slowly drifting over Sydney, days are shorter and nights ever-longer as we make our slow trudge through the heart of winter. I don’t approve of the darkness setting in just before I get home at 5:30pm. I bet it does the same thing for everyone, you feel like you’re not getting your entire dollars worth when the sun is already starting to set around 4. Thankfully this does give Sydneysiders something else to enjoy and due the celestial electricity energy savings we have more time to enjoy it too. Hello Vivid Sydney.

The concept is simple, setup some very interesting and high-definition projectors be it laser or digital and project it onto iconic buildings around say Circular Quay, where you can get a full audience and excellent view no matter which side of the quay you happen to be on. Each year the themes change and you can’t really say what to expect. You have music videos, cool graphics, graffiti, laser shows the sky is the limit.

Justin and I went to see what is what in the city of lights, excuse the quality of the images, tripod or not we don’t profess to be experts.

Customs House:

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Opera House:

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Harbour Bridge:


Circular Quay:

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If you want to find out more about the event check out the official homepage:


Our parents are travelling to Stuttgart to visit me in just a few days and I’m so excited because the weather is really amazing and hopefully we’ll get to do a lot together.

The last time the whole family was here was in December 2011 and it was typical European December weather. Cold, grey and wet. Though it was fun and interesting, the different seasons really play a huge role in determining mood and activities. Unlike in Australia where the weather is generally quite calm, here, something like snow can decide whether or not you can even leave the house.

Right now it is a lovely 17°C which is astounding for early March. Then again, can we really predict the weather accurately these days?

I’m looking forward to being able to go to the zoo, the chocolate factory and visiting some of the castles in the region. I’m also going to be trying on wedding dresses with my parents, which will be a new experience for all of us.

Needless to say, there will definitely be stories to tell. We’re also heading to Bodensee, or Lake Constance for a wellness weekend with our families and friends. The lake is special because it is bordered by three different countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

My camera is ready to go and since we’re staying on the German side of the lake, my internet will be too, and I hope to post about our weekend later in the month.

Til then, take care and I hope the sun is shining brightly wherever you are!


Long-haul Travel Tips

Two days ago marked the one month point to my arrival in Singapore in December. In light of this, I am reposting something that I wrote a little while ago to prep for the long-haul flight. Some of these things may seem silly if you’re a seasoned long-haul traveller, but nonetheless I think that they are helpful!

Living in Germany and having most of my family in Australia and Singapore (and in general, an insatiable lust for travel), has made me a frequent long-haul traveller, mostly flying from Sydney to various parts of Europe and stopping over in Singapore. One of the longest distances I can imagine. I have made this trip many times, and will probably do it many more times.

I understand that there are only about a million articles on this topic, and a lot of it is just common sense, so I will keep this one personal as I really believe that it depends on the individual.

1. A good personal music (and/or media) selection.
This should consist of not just ‘good music’, but songs and/or artists that make you feel good and relaxed. I, for example, have a playlist called ‘Train rides’ because I used to commute 2 hours a day back in Sydney, but it’s really useful for flights too. I was on a Virgin flight once where you could also plug in a USB device and watch movies or listen to music. I hope this becomes more standard with time!

2. Hydration.
A lot of the articles about long-haul flights that I have read, say to drink plenty of water, but I say (from no health/medical perspective) just drink how ever much you need or usually drink. It sounds silly, I know, but if you drink more than usual because of an article you read online, the result is that you will just need to go to the toilet more frequently and will have a stomach full of liquid which will make you feel uncomfortable.

3. A good stretch.
I think you tend to notice it less when you’re sitting for such a long time, but your joints get quite sore and it really helps to walk around now and then (granted, there is limited space on a plane for this) or even to go to the bathroom when there is less of a queue to freshen up and have a good stretch.

4. Security.
In light of the last point, I think this one is an important one to keep in mind. I tend to leave my things at my seat (or, under the seat of the person in front of me, as we are instructed) when I get up, but seriously, don’t tempt fate. Take anything extremely valuable/important with you if possible, or stow it away in your bag in the overhead compartment. Also common sense, but don’t go flashing your valuables around during the flight, and check that all your things are still in the same place when getting ready to get off the plane.

5. Toilet breaks.
Many people seem to try to go to the bathroom at the same time, creating a huge backlog of people lining up around the toilets and inconveniencing those who really, REALLY need to go immediately. Spread them out, and try to avoid the typical rush times like the hour before the plane lands, and around meal/refreshment times. Also, consider that if you’re a person who needs to go to the bathroom frequently, choose an aisle seat.

6. Noise-cancelling headphones.
These feel like a bit of a luxury when flying because it gives your ears a break from the constant sound of the plane pushing its way through the air. I have a great pair of Sennheiser foldable, noise-cancelling headphones which can be used as regular headphones as well, with just the flick of a switch. They also can be used without the noise-cancelling function without using up your battery (unlike my Bose headphones), which is a real advantage and something to take into consideration when purchasing. Depending on which airline you fly with, you may also require an adaptor to allow you to plug your headphones into the armrest, but adaptors are pretty cheap and usually available at the airport.

7. Reading/entertainment materials.
Personally, I don’t read much on planes. But, if you’re so inclined, or don’t think you can handle the long journey without a good book or magazine, or even sudoku puzzles, then why not. Whatever makes you more comfortable when thinking about how you will occupy your time. Remember, to save weight, there is usually a good selection of movies and tv shows in-flight, and increasingly, airlines are also including a larger selection of games in their entertainment systems. A favourite of mine is playing Super Mario on Singapore Airlines.

8. Snacks and/or drinks during the flight.
Don’t be afraid to ask for them. On offer is usually a good selection of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and snacks to cater for a range of tastes, and also flight attendants who will bring them to you. Press the attendant button, make the most of these if you need them, but try not to annoy them! Plus, it’s free unlike on domestic flights!

9. Rest.
This one is definitely an obvious one, but whenever you get the chance, get some shut eye. I tend to get sleepy right around take off, and grab the opportunity to have a nap. Even if it’s only for a short time, it’s better than nothing. If you’re a heavy sleeper, or don’t go to the bathroom so frequently, it’s an idea to choose a window seat. Also, try to time it so that it matches local time (if possible). This helps with jetlag, and means that when you see your loved one(s) again, you will be less of a zombie.

10. Take a break – stopover.
To round out this list,  this point is about taking the opportunity to breathe some fresh (albeit, airport-recycled) air, and make the most of a short (or long) break before hopping onto another plane to complete your journey. I have never done a long-haul trip without stopping over, for example, in Singapore for a few days, or even a few hours and I wouldn’t want to experience it. Sometimes a stopover will only be for 2-3 hours, giving you just enough time to grab a treat for yourself (there’s duty free, but just make sure you’re not taking more than your allowance) and head to the next gate, but this tends to be enough. Just follow the ‘transit’ or ‘transfer’  signs as you get out of the plane and the air bridge, and check which gate you need to head to next. If you didn’t get a boarding card for the second flight when you checked in for your first flight, then head to the relevant airline counter to get one printed and then be on your way. Not too long to go now…