Monday, December 28, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 52

1. Spending a harmonious Christmas with my parents and even if it wasn't a White Christmas, at least  enjoying wintery temperatures.
2. Binge reading. Lying on the couch practically all day is one of my favourite activities during the Christmas holidays. My mum got the latest book in the autobiographical series by Joachim Meyerhoff and since my parents raved so much about the books I got curious. They only own parts 2 and 3, having borrowed the first from a friend and so I downloaded it to my Kindle. I got completely sucked in and 2 days later had read them all. If you love autobiographies and crazy families (and read German) I strongly recommend you read the books.
3. A colleague who I don't have much contact with, really, wishing me a Merry Christmas, adding "and thanks for all the things you did for us". I'm a bit like the "Mum" of our office, bringing in cakes and taking charge of random admin stuff. I do all this voluntarily, but having someone acknowledge it felt good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Don't Try this at Home, Kids

Unless you follow me on Instagram you might wonder what the eff this picture is about. A plate of (sushi) rice with some dark liquid (?) underneath? Well, the mysterious liquid is in fact my new smartphone, a company Christmas gift I only received last Friday. On Monday night, it slipped into my (filled) bathtub. S*** happens. I love reading in the hot tub and like to keep my phone nearby. That night, I placed an opened magazine on the under-the-sink shelf unit, which is about the same height as my tub. The phone was on the magazine and I though to myself "Mental note. Must put it off the magazine, this is calling for trouble. Two minutes later, my little blonde goldfish brain had forgotten this and as I picked up the magazine, my phone slid into the water. Plop. It was a cartoon moment and seemed to happen in slow motion. I immediately reached in, picked it out and rushed to the kitchen to place it into a bowl filled with dry rice where I left it overnight. I am happy to report that it works. Phew. Good lesson to not even bring it into the bathroom next time...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 51

1. The annual Christmas get-together with most of my favourite girls at my place on Sunday night.
2. Playing ice-hockey with my Vienna colleagues as part of the office Christmas party, which I organised. Seeing the others happy and having so much fun together really made it a special day.
3. Surprising my Russian teacher with an unexpected (culinary) gift from her hometown, Vilnius.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 50

1. Unexpectedly spotting a selection of Furla Metropolis bags for 30% off at Hamburg airport. Got the yellow one. Obviously ;-)
2. Settling for truce or rather "Christmas Amnesty" with somebody who was the cause of many dark moments this past year.
3. Getting just the holiday gift from the Firm that I had wished for.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 49

1. Finishing my Christmas baking on Friday night. I always get very excited at the beginning, but soon get tired and a little sick of the sweet smell everywhere in my flat, not mentioning the trails of crumbs, that likewise end up everywhere.
2. Visiting an old lady (89) who used to be my neighbour. She is admirably fit (more mentally, than physically), does not complain and says that her laptop (a slow Windows machine handed down to her by one of her grandsons) and internet are her greatest joys. She is writing her memoirs and loves to send e-mails and SMS to her loved ones. Her motto is "I am determined to enjoy the rest of my days and will not get annoyed or worked up by anything. I am past that." I hope I will be that content and positive if I get to live to 89.
3. That someone close to me chose to confide in me for a naughty little secret...knowing I would have done the same as her.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Rules of Attraction

Sometimes, you really can't quite put into words what it is you like about a person that has you pine after them regardless of the fact that they don't treat you the way you want them to, and when your friends ask you what exactly you love about them, your answers don't come out in a remotely coherent fashion. 
The same applies to things or places. Sometimes you grow very, very attached to grubby old objects or fall in love with cities that are not on everybody's top 10, nor on their top 50, places to see before you die. Everybody knows that I have become quite attached to Sofia over the past 3 years when I visited the city on business about 20 times. The logical question is that people often ask me if I would recommend it for a weekend trip. I am always a bit hesitant to do that, though, as even though my first visit back in 2008 was a private one and I liked it even then, I don't want to overhype it and end up with friends blaming me for "wasting" money on airfare and hotels.
However, it is not the type of city that has any must-see sights and weirdly, it was not built near a river, as most capital cities are. There is a pretty impressive mountain, though, and perhaps this is what makes it oddly familiar for me, as in my native Klagenfurt you can see the mountains from many parts of the city as well. For some reason I am wary to recommend it to others for fear of hyping it too much and leaving them disappointed. After all, streets and houses look shabby even in parts of the city centre and you really need to watch your step if you don't want to risk tripping over a broken tile or a hole in the pavement at times. Taxi drivers are mostly maniacs with Formula 1 driver aspirations and you fear for your life as you realise there is no seatbelt in the back row. They also invariable have the radio tuned to some Bulgarian version of turbo folk and if they don't smoke while driving, the taxi will smell of stale smoke. Oh, and they like to talk on the phone and watch a movie on a tablet while racing. Just so you know. At times, you will also see menus and street signs in cyrillic only (it certainly helped me to teach myself the alphabet pretty quickly) that make ordering food or navigating a challenge.
These things aside, I really like that there are really interesting little shops and cafés and service is usually pretty good. The metro is cheap and efficient (there are 2 lines only) and for the equivalent of 0.50 € you can enjoy safer transport than in the backseat of a kamikaze taxi. And the food! Food really is delicious and much cheaper than in most parts of Europe. I have raved about the amazing tomatoes and cheese before, but if you ever visit Sofia in summer, tomatoes and other locally grown vegetables are out of this world and you have to try them. Since Bulgaria apparently produces 85% of the world's rose oil for the perfume industry, you can buy cosmetic products based on rose essence very inexpensively throughout the city (just avoid the overpriced offerings at airport duty free!).
If you are planning to visit, let me know and I will share some of my favourite places with you.
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