“Into the wild” and what we can learn from that film

“Happiness is Only Real When Shared.”

-Chris McCandless

As you can see on the photos in this blogpost, Switzerland, despite being so organised and clean, can look pretty wild too.

When we went for a walk in Graubünden’s National Park a few weeks back, I felt like really going “into the wild”. Look at these impressive mountains with that first touch of snow on the top. Can you imagine how I felt, walking on a trail amidst these mountains and lots of trees, crossing wild waters (OK, over bridges, but still…) and even spotting some deer and other game. The film “Into the Wild” spontaneously popped up in my head and I turned to my husband to tell him so. In that instant the famous sentence “happiness is only real when shared” got its extra dimension for me.

It’s so true. No matter how happy you are, you are happier when you can share your happiness with others, building up memories together. That is also one of the pains of losing loved ones: shared happy moments can no longer be shared.

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How history influences vocabulary: Meet Hamburg’s “Mahnmal”, St. Nicholas Church

“Memories are not just about the past. They determine our future.”

– Jeff Bridges

“What’s in a name?” is one of Shakespeare’s many famous quotes. When you look at the beautiful German word “Mahnmal” (oh, how I love the alliteration in it) you will agree with me that there is a lot in a name.

A “Mahnmal” is a special sort of monument. It is designed to make people do more than just remember an event or person. Its function is to teach, to awaken awareness, to inspire insight and to appeal to a tolerant attitude towards others. 

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Into the arena of Creux du Van; a natural spectacle in the Swiss Jura

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”

– Carl Sagan

Are you a fan of natural spectacles? In that case you might want to consider visiting the Swiss Jura, where you can find this huge, natural amphitheatre, called Creux du Van. The rocky amphitheatre has got a diameter of one kilometre and the walls are 160 metres high, so everyone (and not just mini me) feels very small in this vast natural arena.

Combine it with a visit to nearby Neuchâtel (for some French flair and fine food) and you will have a perfect day out in the Swiss Jura!

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10 reasons why you should NOT visit the Balkan (but after reading them you will go anyway)

“Don’t make excuses, make something incredible happen in your life right now.”

– Greg Hickman

I spent 4 weeks in different Balkan countries this summer and loved every minute of it. Nature is unspoiled & beautiful, the people friendly & welcoming, the culture rich & diverse, the history abundant & interesting and the weather sunny & warm. I can almost hear you think: “I should go there myself.”

I think you absolutely should, but before you decide to go: Have a look at my list of 10 reasons why the Balkan may NOT be your favourite holiday destination. To be more precisely, have a look at 10 excuses not to go and decide then that they are actual weak excuses and just go to this incredible part of the world.

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5 reasons why my black and white maxi dress is my best travel outfit

“Things are not quite so simple always as black and white.”

― Doris Lessing

And sometimes things are quite simple. When I travel for example, it’s a simple choice what to wear. The first thing that most often does not go in my backpack or suitcase, is my old black & white maxi dress. When the temperatures are summerly warm, it is my preferred outfit for travelling by car, bus, boat, train or plane. Let me give you 5 reasons why:

  1. It’s made of cotton, so lovely cool.
  2. It’s pretty wrinkle friendly, which is a super bonus for travelling.
  3. The loose shape is comfortable and perfect for hiding some extra weight (I don’t know about you, but I love trying out lots of local food 😉).
  4. The length of the dress is very practical, because you never know on what kind of chair (plastic, dirty, broken…) you are going to sit for hours and hours.
  5. On top of all that it goes well with my sneakers, which add even more comfort to the outfit and are my favourite shoes for travelling (see this previous blogpost).
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The beautiful blue eye of Theth (Albania)

“Waterfalls are exciting because they have power, they have rainbows, they have songs, and they have boldness and craziness!”

– Mehmet Murat ildan

Imagine a hike through an impressive valley, passing some crystal clear natural swimming pools before coming eye to eye with a wonderful waterfall tumbling into the bluest, or rather: greenest, water ever.

That is the hike from Theth to the blue eye. And it gets even better than that. When you are bold and crazy, just go for a swim in that beautiful, but oh so freezingly cold water! And why not spoil yourself with a lunch on a tree terrace (yeah, that’s right: a terrace in a tree, high above the blue eye) after your swim before heading back to Theth?

Scroll on for more photos and details of this hike and swim in the awesome Albanian mountains.

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Sarajevo’s Romeo & Juliet: the heartbreaking story of Bosko and Admira

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King

This summer I have done a backpacking tour with my family through several Balkan countries. Sarajevo was one of many destinations and a city that has stolen my heart.

We had already heard several heartbreaking stories about the Balkan Wars, but the story of Bosko and Admira, also called “Sarajevo’s Romeo and Juliet” hit home full force. Around the same time when I was making plans for a future with my husband, they were making plans for their future too. They wanted to escape the besieged city of Sarajevo but that went very, very wrong.

Read on to find out more about this brave young couple and what all of us can learn from their love story.

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A snowy sunny summer day: a day trip to Wallis, crossing the Nufenen Pass and climbing the Sparrhorn

“Each fresh peak ascended teaches something.”

– Sir Martin Conway

Hi everyone. Great to see you again!

I am back in Switzerland, back on the blog and happy to share an outdoor activity with you this week.

On the first day of my summer break, early in July, when the weather was hot and sunny and the snow had not melted completely yet (see the above photo), we spontaneously went to Wallis for a day. Wallis is the home of the Matterhorn and the Aletsch Glacier and lots and lots of beautiful nature. How blessed can one be, having that more or less around the corner.

Yeah, that was something that kept my brain busy these past few weeks. I think that many of us are often so focussed on travelling to far away places that you sometimes forget the beauties that are around your own corner, the ones that you can enjoy on a (spontaneous) day trip.

That’s easily done in Switzerland of course, but not only there! Take this blogpost as an opportunity to enjoy a virtual trip to Wallis and as an incentive to plan a fabulous day trip around your corner!

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Lieske in the Louvre: tips how NOT to get lost in the Louvre and how to make most of the museum

“The Louvre is the book in which we learn to read”.

– Paul Cezanne

Why go to the Louvre? Good question!

According to the Smithsonian* it is one of the top 28 places in the world you need to go to before you die. I also read that the Mona Lisa has got the “honour” of being the number 1 on a list of the most “disappointing attractions” in Europe. Mmm, dilemma. To visit or not to visit…?

Since I have seen and really liked some of those disappointing attractions and since Lisa and I share more or less the same name, I felt I had to see her for real at least once in my life.

Not a really original idea, since 30.000 people a day (yes, you read that correctly: 30.000!) do the same and though not all of them are called Lisa or Lieske, they all want to see Lisa! Oh oh, and mini me had to make sure to see her too…

Interested in some solid tips for the museum and the story of my visit (which includes armpits and pop concert-like scenes)? Well…keep on reading!

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Why positive anchoring is good for you and why I am a fan of Vans.

Shoes: Vans, Trousers: Jacqueline Young, Top: H&M, Jacket: Tally Weijl (this season)

“Love anchors the soul”

I’m a huge fan of Vans. Not because they are very comfortable and go well with many of my outfits, but because I always wear them when I am on holidays. You can imagine that I’m already in a good mood by just putting them on. They function like an anchor for me (and this is not a sailing term!).

Anchoring is something we all use in our lives, simply because there is too much information for our brain to process.  In order to deal with that huge amount of information we delete, distort and generalise information, such that it suits us and our vision on the world.

Anchoring falls into that last category, generalisation. It means that when you see, hear, feel, smell or taste something that you have previously linked to certain actions or feelings, you react on that specific signal instantly. Take stopping for a red traffic light for instance. You see a red light and you instantly stop. Imagine you would think every time you drive your car: “Hey, that traffic light is red, what shall I do?” There is a direct link between seeing the light and your action. In the case of my Vans, I feel happy the moment I put them on, since I have worn them on so many happy occasions. There is a direct link between putting on my Vans and my good mood.

You can make use of this function of the brain in your communication. Teachers often do so and also for non-teachers it is very useful. Read on to find out why and how.

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