Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fingers Crossed

I am going on vacation tomorrow.
When Chiquita and I booked our trip to (South) Korea months ago, most people I told where mildly amused. It's not your usual travel destination if you live in Central Europe. I had become curious when several colleagues told me how they loved visiting/studying there and that it was a lot like Japan "only more futuristic even". I liked that and also the fact that KR is known as a mecca for cosmetics (I never pretended NOT to be vain and superficial...) and Chiquita was easily convinced.
Well, the reaction of friends and family changed in recent weeks and now I feel I have to justify my choice of holiday destination for reasons other than it being "exotic" and "unusual". My little crystal ball may be a fit fogged up so that I can't predict the future 100% accurately, but I am, however, quite confident that it will be an amazing trip and that the little chubby friend beyond the border will behave until I'm back.
A little finger crossing might not do any harm, though...

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I know, I know, studs are, like so last season. Nevertheless I bought two pairs of studded shoes this month, one of the super cheap no name variety, the other designer. Let me show you. The first pair (faux leather apart from the insole) I bought on my way to visit the Mademoiselle for a mere €15.90 (regular price, not on sale). They are very comfortable and don't look quite as cheap as they were. At least I like to think they don't:
When there was a "take an extra 20% off all sale items" offer at shopbop.com I couldn't resist those Marc Jacobs mouse flats that by coincidence turned out to have studs as well. You could argue that this pair was on sale because the studs trend is on its way out, but I don't care. I'm usually reluctant to order shoes or trousers from overseas as you never know whether they'll really fit or not unless you know the brand very well and have a pair in another colour already. I did, however, read reviews and eventually ordered them half a size larger (38.5 in my case) which turned out to be a perfect fit. Phew. I love them and those who know me very, very well know why these shoes are so ME:
In general, I try to avoid shoes where you see the toes as I don't find that a particularly appealing look, but as these only show a bit of "décolletage" I don't actually mind: 
The last two photos were taken in Grand Hotel Sofia, hence the "grand" patterns...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sofia in Spring

I've said it here before: I have a soft spot for Bulgaria's capital city Sofia. One reason is that it really reminds me of Istanbul in terms of rhythm of life and omnipresent yellow taxis as well as excellent level of quality in the service industry (at least from my experience). I don't mind the holes in the pavement or the rubbish in side streets. There are many things to discover and plenty of shopportunities as well. Last weekend (shops are open on Sundays!) I discovered an incredible shop stocking (US) brands of nail polish we don't get in Austria, such as Zoya, Orly and China Glaze and if I don't buy anything else I always buy some local rose or lavender scented soaps or hand creams... I've raved before about the amazing Bulgarian tomatoes, but they are not the only thing. Food is exceptionally good and incredibly cheap for Austrian standards (on average, meals and drinks are half the price of what you would pay in Vienna). This city is definitely worth a visit and having experienced it in all seasons, I personally find it nicest in spring and summer. Here are some pictures I took last weekend to give you a taste of what the city looks like in spring:
Even those notorious cracks in the pavement look almost picturesque this time of the year, don't you agree?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Ducks Are at It Again...

Remember my previous posts on Mandarina Duck's interesting newsletters? Well, it looks like they are skimping on a proofreader for ze German still. Case in point, this e-mail I got today, the subject line and image read "gehen in zwei":
I'm assuming what they tried to say with "gehen in zwei" was something along the lines of "going together" (zusammen gehen or zu zweit gehen in German). The 3 words literally mean "going in two", which not only does not make sense in German, but sounds unfortunately similar to "entzwei gehen", which means "to break/come apart".

Monday, April 22, 2013

Business Class

As you know if you've been following this blog for a while, I travel quite frequently for business. I have "Frequent Traveller" status with my Miles & More card, but unlike several people I know I had never ever been upgraded to Business class before (if you don't count a flight from VIE to KLU on the way back from India 11 years ago, which was hardly glamorous). So I was quite happy when boarding my flight to Sofia on Friday afternoon and the turnstile spit out a little slip of paper after I had scanned my barcode (I had checked in online on Friday morning). Yesss!
I finally felt "grown-up" and almost wished I had dressed accordingly to mark the occasion rather than worn jeans and trainers...Even though it's a short flight (1hr and 15 mins on average), I got to enjoy a "schnitzi" (Wiener Schnitzel) and other goodies, served on real dishes, with real cutlery, real glass and a nice serviette. Other than that, I also sat next to the window, which I hardly do when I get to choose the seat as I prefer aisle seats. Nice view:

Pics from spring in Sofia coming up soon.

Friday, April 19, 2013


After several days in blinking and glittering Vegas, I was ready for some natural beauty and embarked on a packaged daytrip to the Grand Canyon (West Rim). On the way, we stopped at the impressive Hoover Dam, or as the driver referred to it, the "daaaaaaaaamn Hoooooover Daaaaaaam" and also passed Joshua trees that I had never seen and heard of the first time when U2 released their album of the same name. They are very impressive in real life!
With my tour, I had booked one of the optional "add-ons", the Skywalk. Helicopter rides and rafting are also popular, but not for me. You're not allowed to take any personal items on the Skywalk, so no photos with either your own camera or mobile phone are possible. I suspect it's just to be able to sell the professional photos better as you are almost harrassed by "your photo guide" when on there. 99.9% of visitors were Chinese groups and they were as loud as they were annoying. They loved posing for pictures, too. So this is the Skywalk from outside. Even though I'm actually scared of heights a bit, I didn't find it scary to stand on there:
What I found really interesting was that there are no fences anywhere, which is not what I had expected from lawsuit-happy Americans. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the Grand Canyon is owned by the Hualapai Nation and its members might have a more relaxed attitude. Be that as it may, I kept a respectful distance from the edge and my heart jumped every time somebody posed right there. See what I mean, no fence:
Speaking of posing and Chinese, here we have some specimens:
 The rock was a really beautiful red, similar to Petra, Jordania, I found. I also nicked some little stones from the ground for my Dad, pssst:
With some flora in the foreground:
...and a river in the background:
I really enjoyed this excursion and it is quite a humbling experience to see how massively big everything is compared to the humans running around, taking pictures:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Venice and Paris are Within Walking Distance...

Hi guys. It've been back from Las Vegas for a week now and owe you some pics other than my shopping exploits. Here are a few very representative ones. It probably comes as no surprise to you that Vegas is loud, bright and over the top. Very. I stayed at the "Palazzo" hotel, which together with "the Venetian" next door, pretends to be in Venice. As in Venice, Italy. If you don't believe me, check this out:
As if a concrete St. Mark's and singing gondoliere ($75 a ride, I heard) weren't enough, you have a Canale-Grande-themed mall with a fake sky, that I found pretty freaky in a Truman Show kind of way. The Forum Mall (adjacent to Caesar's Palace) also has a fake sky and there might be more that I didn't discover. Yep, that sky you see in the image below is just a painted ceiling:
Paris, or rather "Paris", is a 7-minute-walk from "Venice" and of course has an Eiffel Tower:

I wouldn't choose to go to Vegas just for its own sake and didn't even gamble once, but it certainly was cool and impressive in its own way, by night in particular. This is a view of the strip (facing South) in the evening, with the Venetian on the left and Fashion Show mall and Treasure Island on the right. I took the photo standing on one of the footbridges/flyovers over the Strip a.k.a. Las Vegas Boulevard that make this area a very pedestrian-friendly place, unlike many other US cities:

When I took the bus to the North Premium Outlet Center on Friday afternoon, I passed through so-called "historic" Vegas, which of course also has bright lights and casinos:
Unlike many other North American cities where you are not allowed to drink alcohol in public places, people walk around with huge plastic margherita "glasses" everywhere and lots of "naughty" things are advertised. I didn't buy any, in case you were wondering:
From my suite on the 10th floor at the Palazzo I had an amazing view of the hotel pool and the hotels opposite, such as the golden Trump:
I have many more pictures of the bizarre themed locations on the strip, but am just going to show you one more well-known sight, the Bellagio Fountains:
Here's a video that might give you a better idea:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Before I Show You My LAS Pics...

...let me put you into a virtual sugar coma thanks to the snow-capped fairycakes I just baked (upon request) for my goddaughter as a delayed "birthday cake":
These are a joy to make every time and super-easy. It's like alchemy how one egg white produces way more icing that I need to top 16 cupcakes. I used this recipe and can highly recommend it if you want to make a child (or sugar-loving adult) very happy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Viva Las Vegas (Shopping)!

Hello again. I have to admit I'm not reeeally in working mode today and so I thought I'd share my Vegas haul with you. Even if you never leave your hotel, you cannot escape shops as every one of the big and well-known hotels on the strip has a mall annex, usually in the same theme as the hotel itself. The Venetian has shops alongside its Canale Grande, Caesar's Palace has its Forum Mall, etc. There are several outlets as well a short taxi or bus ride away. I went to the North Premium Outlet and have to say that while the shops themselves where pretty good, the architecture and atmosphere was quite shabby compared to our own McArthur Glenn Outlet in Parndorf.
Here's a mix of my acquisitons from various shops, outlet and regular stores. An "ikkat" tote from LeSportsac...
...a flowery cotton skirt and striped peplum top (gift for Mum) from LOFT...

...cropped trousers from Banana Republic (white) and J.Crew (neon peach/salmon)...

...as well as a striped top and printed silk blouse also from BR.
Here's a selfie of me wearing the blouse in the Vegas sunshine on Sunday:
I wasn't planning to buy a wallet as I actually have a good and practical one, but this bargain from the Kate Spade outlet was too good to pass up. I love the pattern that reminds me of a Japanese kimono:
There was a huge Sephora next to the Palazzo hotel, where I spent the first nights. Need I say more:

In addition to the neon pink nail varnish and cool cherry stickers, I also got 3 more nailpolishes (the pink one from Boots at LHR) to add to my already quite massive collection:
In view of my upcoming vacation to South Korea (fingers crossed that the North behaves!), I did not go crazy on the cosmetics and make-up front as SK is apparently a mecca for all things beauty-related.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The B**** is Back in Town

Hello, my lovelies! I came back from Las Vegas via London late last night and took today off for chilling and unpacking. I'll share my shopping exploits and pics of all the bizarre things from this "Disney Land with alcohol and gambling" later this week. Like Dubai, Las Vegas is definitely not the type of place where I would choose to fly with my own hard-earned money, but cool to visit and explore on company money. As the famous welcome sign proclaims, it is indeed "fabulous"in its own sense and I could not resist getting this variation of it as a keychain:
On Saturday, I did a tour to the Grand Canyon, which was really impressive and despite the fact that I'm (sort of) afraid of hights, I also went on the Skywalk. You're not allowed to take anything with you on that so I couldn't take any photos on there, but I took plenty of the Canyon elsewhere. Apart from all the man-made and natural sights I saw, it was also really, really nice to get some vitamin D by soaking up some sunshine, something this spring has been stinging on in Austria so far.
Stay tuned!
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