Monday, June 24, 2019

An Unexpected Gift or Instant Joy

On our flight back from Chicago ORD on Wednesday night, we were asked upon check-in if we wanted to upgrade to business class for USD 400 per person (instead of 800). Personally, I found it a good deal, but we declined. As we were waiting at the gate, tired of hanging around at the (pretty  boring) airport and ready to board, we were paged and asked to come to the counter. As there had been many announcements before, requesting connecting passengers to proceed to the gate for document check or having their carry-on luggage tagged, I assumed that we also had to show our passports or something so was more than presently surprised when the same lady that had checked our bags waved new boarding passes and said "you have been upgraded to business class". My joy was out of this world. Ten hours of comfort and the possibility to sleep in a proper bed, not mentioning decent food, was a prospect I was extremely thrilled about and my tiredness evaporated immediately. I had flown business class on  long distance flight before (not on Austrian Airlines, though) and remembered what a difference it made. The flight must have been overbooked and so we, having tickets for the premium economy class (not bad, either, actually), had first upgrade priority. I had actually paid a rather hefty sum for this short trip so this was the perfect ending to a lovely mini-vacation. My giddiness and excitement about this unexpected gift lasted for hours and actually made it harder to fall asleep. I wanted to hug the nice check-in lady for making our return flight such a comfortable experience and probably smiled from ear to ear for most of the flight, taking photos of every meal and my legs stretched out, like the tourist I was. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

That Evil Twin of Mine...


When this post goes live I will hopefully have made it to Chicago. Apparently, I am a highly suspicious person, though, as for the second time I had the dubious privilege of an SSSS treatment. If you find these 4 letters on your boarding card for a flight to the U.S. (you know you do when you cannot download your boarding pass nor have it sent to your phone, but need to retrieve your boarding pass at the airport) this is what it entails. The first time (back in 2017 when I was flying to NYC with the Empress) I was selected, I got really nervous and was at the airport SUPER early as advised. I mean way earlier even than my normal notoriously early time. Thankfully, the screening did not really take that long eventually. As I don't think that I am a victim of racial profiling with my EU passport and ethnicity, I can only speculate that a dodgy person bears my name and I don't mean my mum whose first and second name I share. Alternatively, it must have been my business travel history in my last years at the Firm when I repeatedly visited Kazakhstan and Belarus for example. Are these countries suspicious to TSA or what exactly is it that makes me a qualify for the SSSS? I will most likely never find out, but it is definitely a nuisance and cause for speculation to me.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Staycation

We all know that I love weekend trips and if I could, i.e. had more annual leave from work, would take longer vacations several times a week. I do, however, tend not to go anywhere (apart from Klagenfurt) if it's a long weekend and everybody is flying or driving off. I've decided quite a while ago to leave expensive tickets, crowded airports and traffic jams on the motorways to those who are really desperate or tied to their children's school holidays. As an ex-manager of mine once put it "You and your glamorous single lifestyle". Well, you might sometimes be pitied as an unmarried, childless individual in her forties, but I actually really value the fact that I can prioritise me-time whenever I want to. This long weekend I really wanted to stay in Vienna and enjoy all the city and its surroundings have to offer. As the weather has been glorious the water rat in me got plenty of quality time in lakes and pools. For me, this was way better than jetting off somewhere or driving to my parents' whom I visited last weekend anyway and apart from relaxing I also finally managed to finish some projects I had been procrastinating on forever. The weekend is not over yet, but so far: 10/10!

Monday, June 03, 2019

Some like it COLD

On Saturday I inaugurated the al fresco swimming season 2019. The lake (Wörther See, what else) was barely 18° "warm" and I loved it. I mean, I've swum in water that was barely 15° so I did not even get goosebumps.
There's something about swimming in cold water that has a special appeal to me. Since i don't indlulge in any types of adrenalin sports, it is the closest I get to a feeling of achievement and (a very mild version of) bravery and - interestingly - men in particular shudder and and say for them water needs to be much warmer in order to even put a toe into it. I seriously love the rush of excitement I feel when going into cold water. Quickly, never once stopping to splash water on my arms like many people like to do. I have to immerse myself immediately or I would shiver. Once in, I swim with quick strokes until I start to feel very warm and my skin begins to prickle. When I get out of the water, I might have red arms and legs, but that's part of the appeal.
A while ago, I randomly stumbled across this documentary on YouTube that I initially started watching because I misinterpreted the title, thinking it was about a doctor who had a drug addiction. In fact, it was about a doctor who tried to encourage his patients to stop using their many drugs for problems ranging from high blood pressure to a variety of pains. One patient was depressed and he needed to come up with a good alternative remedy for her that had a likelihood of working as an antidepressant. After doing extensive research, he decided to suggest "cold water swimming". I could immediately relate even if I'm (thankfully!) not clinically depressed. That exhilarating feeling of feeling blood pump through your body and overall feeling very ALIVE is just unbeatable. So, even if you've been a thermal spa/whirlpool temperature kind of person until now, I highly recommend giving it a try!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Lilly

Like most people, scents are able to trigger memories for me and transport me back to certain moments and people. I have been known to hang on to certain scents long after I have realised that I can't hang on to the people they are associated with. Sometimes you forget what has been stored in the scent database and the intensity of your feelings takes you by surprise. The same holds true for music. 
On Saturday I was passing time between a breakfast date and a lunch date and idly browsing the offerings of a concept store downtown. They had Italian music on at full blast and I recognised Antonello Venditti, contributor to the soundtrack of my teenage years when I had an "Italian phase". I shazamed a certain song whose title I was not sure of and it turned out to be "Lilly". It made me think back to school trips to Italy, unrequited crushes on boys who didn't even know I existed and feeling ugly and fat even though I was neither of the two. 
I've also always loved live concerts, in particular the type where you stand in the crowd and shout all the lyrics at the top of your lungs.  On Saturday night I attended an open-air concert in Schönbrunn. I had seen the band (Bilderbuch) live before, but only know a handful of their songs and basically went because a friend initiated it and I thought the venue was original. They performed well, but it was not really "my" concert in the sense that I had associations with any of the songs. The concert before had been Herbert Grönemeyer, an artist whose new songs I am not familiar with at all, but the lyrics to his old hits all of which he played I still know by heart and which make me think back of certain times in my life.
Guess who started compiling an "Italo Hits" Playlist on Sunday...

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Things I Do for Love...

On Saturday, I attended the art performance of a good friend of mine. Pretty much everyone I chatted with in the audience, including her kids, admitted that it wasn't really their "kettle of fish" but they were there to support her. My sentiments exactly. Unless I am out of town or otherwise booked with something I cannot reschedule and/or animals and small children are hurt in the thing you want me to witness I will gladly attend your choir performance, dance show, piano recital or exhibition opening if I like you. If it's excruciatingly bad I might find an excuse the next time, but the first time round, I will show up and bring friends. Ultimately, I hope that you'd do the same thing for me if ever I am planning to invite you to a public display of my talents.  Or should I say "talents". Be very afraid.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mean Girls

In my previous post I told you that I attended the wedding of a good English friend last weekend. What I did not tell you was this was the first time I saw her school friends again after 30 years when I  had attended school in Maidenhead with my hostess for a week or two. Back then, I found these girls all downright scary. They were very cliquey, made insider jokes and used slang I didn't undersrand. Above all, they pretended to be very worldy wise and experienced in the things that mattered to seventeen-year-olds back then...all of which I was very inexperienced in myself. It wasn't that they were mean to me, I was just an isignificant add-on to their friend and they didn't give me much attention. It was more that they left me feeling inadequate and provincial. Fast forward to 2019 and they (a group of 5 women) clearly did not recognise me at the wedding and to be honest I had not given them a single thought in the past 30 years, but I immediately recognised them and remembered how intimidating they seemed back in 1989.
Only a few days later, I had a very unpleasant work meeting where a group of female colleagues was very vocal about their discontent with a project I was the central point of contact for. I'm not saying that their anger was entirely justified, but it was as tiring as it was unpleasant. Bestie Boy helped to act as mediator and together we stayed late to produce slides to appease them. Essentially, they had felt poorly informed and I realised that my strategy had been entirely wrong: I like to avoid conflict and confrontation whenever possible and my instinct was to minimise contact with the evil witches demanding colleagues and just hope for the best. Well, that backfired and only served to make an already extremely stressful week that bit more stressful. Learning: try not to avoid the mean girls or wait until they seem harmless a few decades later, but face them and hope that your own friendly attitude rubs off on them.
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