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The Voyagette

food travel

Sleepless in Seattle,…

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Last year in September, Y and I finally made our trip to the Pacific Northwest — a place I always dreamed of exploring. While we did not get to snowboard Whistler (this experience remains in the top 10 of my bucket list), we got lost in the authentic beauty of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Y and myself rediscovered the outdoorsy side of ourselves and took in the fresh air, gorgeous views, and natural lightness of being.

Our trip came to an end when we took an early ferry to Seattle to catch a red-eye flight back to our home in Vienna.  Continue Reading

Lifestyle vienna

And then, this happened…

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To me, 06 June 2016 was a simple Monday morning, a day off between a row of late shifts at Austrian Airlines, a day off from sitting in front of a computer and typing away. I know, I wanted to get out — into the nature to take in some sun rays and fresh air. A good view would be the cherry on the top. About two few weeks before, Y and I had talked about returning to one of our first ever date spots – Himmelwiese. I brought him there when we were dating for only a few weeks to show him the most beautiful view over Vienna. So, when on this Monday, Y suggest we take a mini-trip there and have a picnic, I was so excited to finally go.

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travel

A Day Well Spent in Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson is a small lake town in the middle of my favorite U.S. state North Carolina. To me as a European, Davidson resembles true small town America everyone on the old continent dreams of.

Why? Well, it basically has it all: a film-worthy college campus composed of splendid brick houses, a more than picturesque main street, gorgeous Victorian-style houses featuring dreamy porches, and friendly Southeners who smile and make me happy all around.

When traveling to visit friends and my boyfriend’s family in Concord, I have a list of places I try to visit on every trip. Davidson is on said list. It usually goes down like this: We visit the campus where I can pretend I went to American college, then take a stroll along Main Street to peep into independent stores and mingle with the store owners, and grab amazingly good coffe at SUMMIT COFFEE CO., one of my most favorite coffee shops in the entire world. Their coffees are just sensational and the vibe cozy and warm.

Spending a day in Davidson is truly romantic every time. And during fall season, it’s magical too.

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KINDRED RESTAURANT

Recently, I discovered that a new culinary experience was added to the Davidson family: KINDRED restaurant. During the holidays in December I finally got to check it out.

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One shoe into the restaurant I was more or less convinced. The design is on point. We were seated on the second floor and handed lovely menus. Everyone was so attentative and our wishes were basically read from our eyes. The bartender prepared mixed drinks and cocktails with so much grace and style, it was fascinating. While watching him, it was the first time I thought of barkeeping as an art.

When we ordered the Skillet Burger and the Avocado sandwich I hoped that my ecstatic mindset wasn’t going to be shattered. Not much time passed and our orders arrived. The presentation of the food was just as flawless as the design of the restaurant itself. And the taste was devine.

When one of the waiters realized I was taking a bunch of photographs, I was invited down to the place where the magic happens – the kitchen. Apparantly, I looked like a journalist. Between friendly cooks smiling at me, beautiful home made pasta and breadloafs I felt a bit like an intruder. However, I got to briefly meet the owner who was down there himself, cooking away. Such a treat.

In a nutshell, at KINDRED, design, taste, and serious cooking skills merge. It wasn’t just the top-notch food that made for an all around great lunch experience, it was the friendly staff, the tasty cocktails, and the sublime design.

KINDRED is now one more place which made it on my must-visit-list for our trips to the lovely Piedmont region of North Carolina.

Austria

Graz: Cobblestones and Coffee

Just 200 km from Vienna, in the southern part of Austria, lies the European Capital of Culture of 2003: Graz. But it’s not just culture, history, beautiful architecture, traditional shops, restaurants, and cafes this royal Austrian city has to offer. Simultaneously, Graz enjoys a really hip vibe with young people coming from all over the world to study here. Fun fact: students actually make up almost a fifth of its citizenry. Now, you can probably imagine what I mean with student vibe.

With its cobblestone streets, rustic house-fronts, and dreamy window shutters in all the beautiful colors there are, it seems like a big version of the Viennese Spittelberg in the 7th district. Spittelberg is one of my favorite parts in Vienna, naturally, I am in love with Graz too.

Hence, Graz makes for a wonderful day-trip if you want to get out of Vienna for a bit. And, there is no doubt that staying in Graz longer than only a day will allow you to find plenty things to do.

It is actually quite a shame: I haven’t been gracing Graz with my presence in forever. The last time I remember being here was when I was a child, traveling around Austria with my parents who were eager to show all famous Austrian landmarks to me and my little brother. Even though I might have only been between 6-8 years old, I remember it so clearly. In my humble opinion, I suppose I must have enjoyed it back then too.

So, right before Christmas, and after visiting Admont Abbey over the weekend, we walked the cobbled streets of Graz, ejoyed Chai Lattes at one of my new discoveries of favorite cafe stores, and held hands picking out cute Christmas tree decoration at the romantic Christmas markets.

See for yourself.

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Walking down the main street, already gives you all the feels, doesn’t it?

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Those window shutters, and that balcony. Sigh.

Mulled wine and Christmas market love!

Cobble streets, bikes, and beautiful architecture.

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Wasn’t that a romantic walk through Graz?

Green House

I always spy with at least the corner of one of my eyes cute places and spaces. Green House is a sweet cafe we stumbled over when wandering around downtown Graz.

Yael didn’t stand a chance, as I pulled him in to get some hot drinks to warm up. Stepping inside, my boyfriend must have spotted the convinced smile on my frozen face and then realized right away that I felt at home here at The Green House. I ordered a Chai Latte and Yael got his cappuccino. So, there we were: super relaxed and content with our lives.

As always, I did my research and found out that you can also sip on smoothies and cold pressed juices, as well as munch on vegan cakes and cookies. And, all of this is brought to you with lots of smiles from the friendly barista, who was so just so nice and patient with me as he answered all my questions, showed me to the upstairs (which is also really cozy by the way) and explained so many things to me.

The place was just recently opened by the owners of GINKO in fall of 2015.  Let me say it like this: They did a hell of a job with the interior design of this place. With the epic (seriously, there is no other word for it) floor tiles, the hip and comfy chairs, and the cozy nooks the owners have just outdone themselves.

I have a weakness for cute spaces and this one has stolen a little piece of my <3.

Austria

Bad Gastein: Royal Remembrance or Ghost Town

From December 20-22, we ventured to the Austrian countryside to find the Christmas spirit in the Austrian town of Bad Gastein, situated in the region of Salzburg. Just a 4-hour drive from Vienna, in the midst of the Austrian alps, we were hoping for snow. You are right when you think that snow was not going to happen for us. However, we stayed at a gorgeous resort called Hotel Valley Grüner Baum and were spoiled just like royals back in the day. It was exactly what we needed right before all the Christmas festivities in Austria and North Carolina. On our adventures outside of the resort, we expected to find a cute old town with sweet Christmas markets, happy villagers, and lots of Christmas decorations. But we didn’t find any of that.

It seems Bad Gastein, while a necessary luxury stop for the aristocratic families of yesterday, is closer to a ghost town today. In the three days of wandering around, we found exactly one cafe which was open – thankfully we warmed up to coffee and tea at Cafe Schuh! Now, taken over by an Italian, we overheard white-haired Viennese ladies pondering over the fact that it has lost all its charm. To us, it still seemed nice, and coffee and tea were more than fine.

We made us on our way to hike the surrounding area and experienced breathtaking views over the Bad Gastein Valley. Many of the hotels have long since been abandoned, taken over by a real estate magnate some years ago and then left to collect dust after his passing. It’s both romantic and spooky in the same fell swoop to see so many old palace hotels with great interior and furniture on the inside but the doors locked on the outside. Couldn’t you imagine just waltzing through the hotel halls and soaking in all the Austrian mountain Christmas spirit?

As per usual, we found some notable advertising and chocolates — what’s more to like in a small Austrian town! There’s even a bust of Kaiser Wilhelm I, said to inhabit Bad Gastein in several summer and winter months during his reign of Prussia back in the 19th century. History buffs would love that.

So, why is this travel article called Royal Remembrance or Ghost Town? While back in the day, the Habsburg Family as well as royal families and important persons roamed the area skiing, enjoying the thermal pools and healing centers, nowadays, the town is quite sad to look at. Most houses have fences in front of them, because the outside walls are crumbling. In the photos below you can see my favorite hotel, abandoned of course. Walls are crumbling, the insides look like ghosts roam the halls. What used to be so royal is now just a ghost town.

The question remains: Isn’t it the investor’s obligation to keep the beautiful old and historical houses from falling apart?

Text: Melanie Pfeffer & Yaël Ossowski // Photography: Melanie Pfeffer