Hunting the Aurora Borealis in Norway (Guest Post)

Actually, I hate the cold. since I can remember I am trying to flee into countries where the sun is shining and it is at least 25 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks when outside everything is covered in white and the sounds are dulled, everything seems so quiet and peaceful, but I cannot handle the cold…

Decision & Preparation

Actually, I hate the cold. since I can remember I am trying to flee into countries where the sun is shining and it is at least 25 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks when outside everything is covered in white and the sounds are dulled, everything seems so quiet and peaceful, but I cannot handle the cold =P

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, including all photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2015/11/hunting-aurora-borealis-part-1.html

So that’s why I decide to plan my next trip to Norway. Well, not on the mainland of Norway, but on the island, Svalbard. Svalbard means “the land with the cold coast”.

My colleague and friend Hayath, did find a nice three day trip to Svalbard called “Hunting the Polar Lights” to a reasonable price and we decided to go there. Honestly, I didn’t inform myself in advance about Svalbard or Longyearbyen, the place of our destination. I kind of thought, Hayath did. Three weeks before the trip, I went to a book shop and wanted to buy a travel book about Norway. When I found a book about Norway, I was looking for the place Svalbard or Longyearbyen, but couldn’t find it. I started doubting that it even belongs to Norway, so checked Google Maps where Longyearbyen is located. Well, I found it on the card a few centimeter above Norway.

That’s what I saw on Google maps and somehow I couldn’t move the card with the mouse down. I will get back to that later. All I knew was, that there was no book about Svalbard in this shop. So I just gave it up and was wondering why we needed to go so far north, but somehow I forgot this thought, due to the fact that a spontaneous trip to Budapest came in between.

20.11.2015 – 9.15 am

On our way to Norway

So many things happened lately, that somehow the date of departure for our trip to Norway appeared very suddenly. We are almost 17 hours on our way and now, finally sitting in the plane to our final destination Longyearbyen, Svalbard. It is 9.15 am and I only slept around 3 hours but when I look out of the window I see such an amazing landscape that I am way too excited to fall asleep. Hayath fell immediately asleep as soon as the plane took off. For us both, it is the most northern destination we ever traveled to. Additionally, this is the first destination for us where it is cold. I feel like a little child which is absolutely amazed and thrilled by the view of all the snow.

I wished/hoped the whole time for a lot of snow, but now that I see it, I kind of didn’t expect it to be like in TV, it is almost like “oh – you asked for snow? Here you’ll go” 😀 – ok I know, by now you probably figured out that I have never been skiing or went for winter holidays that might be the reason why I am so overexcited 😉

Did I mention that right now there are Polar Nights? Meaning, there will be no sunlight. I actually knew that, but ignored it. At 11.15 am, we see the last rays of sun, getting dark again, my body clock is totally confused.

Fun facts:

I dream a lot, actually I dream every night and I do remember every morning what I dreamt. When I would have written down my dreams, I could have probably published several books. At one point before the trip, Hayath started doing jokes about that I would let him be killed by a polar bear so that I just get the perfect selfie and somehow this lead me to the following dream:

One and half weeks ago, before we headed off for Norway I dreamt, I would do a parashoot jump out of a plane over the sea, with a landing in the water. Somehow, I forgot to wear something warm but it was too late and I had to jump. In the water, I was hunted by a polar bear – I tried to flee and swam very fast but suddenly, that bear wasn’t a bear but a very hairy man. I managed to get on land and started searching for warm clothes when I woke up. Kinda disturbing dream, although Hayath thought that this is just the proof of his prediction with the polar bear … but why then the bearded man??? never mind, let’s start the trip 🙂

20.11.2015

First day in the cold

We survived the first day in the cold, although I wouldn’t say that we survived the whole day. We had a shuttle bus bringing us from the airport to our hotel and the guide in the bus, seriously, that was Santa Claus! He is a very huge, impressive person with a deep voice and rolling “r” and whenever he said “Aurora Borealis” you get goose bumps 😀

Well, he was telling us a bit about Longyearbyen and warned us, that the news channel BBC is on the island and is filming ten people on Svalbard. It shall be a documentary about the daily life of people on Svalbard, and just for the case that the guy next to you is not your husband you should inform them in advance that you don’t want to be filmed 😀 Hayath and I, we didn’t tell all our colleagues that we are doing this trip together to avoid rumours, but when we will be filmed anyway I thought, it doesn’t matter anymore and I can also mention him in my blog – so that’s settled 😉

Shortly after our arrival, we noticed that somehow, no matter where we were looking at, it was written: “Longyearbyen, next to the north pole”. That would explain, why I couldn’t scroll any further down on Google Maps, there was no “further” 😉

Let’s say it this way – we managed traveling to the last civilized location before the north pole without knowing it 😉

When we arrived and packed out, we had something for lunch and lay down for two hours – it is really confusing that it is dark all the time. When we had lunch, we thought the whole time it is dinner time. In our hotel room, Hayath was absolutely fascinated that I packed so much beauty equipment, in fact, he was so fascinated that he had to film it.

Our first activity was something more relaxed. After our nap, we got ready, put on our warm clothes and went into the cold, where a bus picked us up and drove us 10 km from our hotel to a hut, called Camp Barentz. Arriving at the camp, a few people were awaiting us outside and suddenly our bus driver just said “that’s BBC”. Hayath and I looked at each other and laughed – we knew it 😀

Camp Barentz

It was a very nice and cozy evening with international people sitting around the fireplace, enjoying their reindeer soup and some Norway shots while listening to the stories how Willem Barents in 1596 discovered the island. It was such an enjoyable evening with a lot of stories, laughter and interesting facts to learn, as for example how and why the aurora borealis occurs.

Camp Barentz was build exactly where the original first hut was built and is also an original copy to that hut. Helga and Kristin live both about three years in Longyearbyen. The BBC Team is filming Kristin, which I didn’t know but figured out very quickly due to the fact that I was interested in how Kristin came to the decision to extent her studying abroad to a permanent stay.

All of a sudden, the cameras were all directed on us. Actually, I can imagine people being annoyed by that, you are there to have a good time and chill and suddenly all spotlights are on you. Well, I didn’t mind that much, I was anyway planning to become famous 😀

All in one, we had a lovely evening – no aurora borealis – but cuddling time with Husky Mikkey, quality time with Helga and Kristin with whom I directly fell in love with 🙂 The evening ended much faster then all of us were hoping for and when we left the hut and I wanted to go to the bus, I was held up by the camera man asking me if he is allowed to ask me some quick questions and film me …

ME??? sure “this is MY moment” hahaha I think I totally screwed it. My face didn’t work properly, due to the cold it did some weird expressions and I couldn’t see anything due to the strong lights of the camera, blinding me and I REALLY felt strange 😀 He just asked me where I am from, how long I am here and what I think of this evening, and if I am disappointed that I didn’t see the polar lights and some more questions. I tried to answer the questions as nice as possible and then I had to sign a contract that I won’t claim any rights of this tape and so on. Of course, Hayath was making again fun out of me after that “our new celebrity” he is just jealous 😉

Totally motivated after that excursion and may be because we took a nap after lunch, we went out again as soon as we arrived at the hotel. So we went for a stroll on our own and felt like explorers 😀 Although it was already after 11pm, you really got the impression we were the only living creatures in that town, kinda ghost town, no people outside and it’s a FRIDAY!!!

 

21.11.2015

Hiking – or how Hayath almost died

Most of the day we spent inside, watching TV, talking, and even sleeping. This darkness is really getting to you. Additionally, we booked a hiking trip to the Mountain Sverdruphamaren or Plateau Mountain, which has a height of 433 meters. Hayath looked at me very worried when we booked the excursion, but I got him convinced that 433 meters isn’t that high. That is why we pretty much didn’t do anything on that day, but rest.

Around 7pm we got picked up by our guide Adrian. Actually, there should have been two more people coming with us, but they just didn’t appear. Therefore, with a little delay we went by car to the city church, that is where our journey should start.

Adrian, our Romanian guide is very talkative and told us a lot of interesting stories, of which Hayath unfortunately didn’t catch too much due to the fact that he was more busy dealing with his bad condition =P I told him at least hundreds of times he should quit smoking (@Hayath: when you read this, please don’t hate me ;-)) While he was trying to climb this mountain without getting out of breath, I used the time and asked Adrian as many questions as I could. Adrian used to work in Sweden for a guy called Chad Blakely, who is the owner of the company Lights over Lapland. He told me, in that area you can almost see every day the aurora borealis, due to the fact that in that area the blue hole phenomenon exists. I kind a cursed ourselves for not informing us too well, because Adrian said that actually you are more than lucky seeing the lights on Svalbard, we are too far north for the light ring. Nevertheless, I am always saying everything has somehow a reason why it is happening and traveling to the most northern point of the world where civilization is, is not too bad, isn’t it?

Adrian told us that within Longyearbyen, there are around 2000 people living of 50 nationalities. We are in a tax free area, so if we want to have a car, mobiles, cameras and all kind of technology stuff it would be wise ordering it and let it deliver to Longyearbyen to some friend so we can pick it up there. I made sure, that he friended me on Facebook, just for the case, you’ll never know 😉 Living here is pretty much affordable because of the tax free zone and when you decide to live in Longyearbyen, you will get 30.000 NOK as a welcome gift. As long as you can support yourself, you can do whatever you want to do. There is only one small hospital, no real jail – although the biggest crime happening here is a pub fight, so probably not necessary. The town even got a Facebook group, so when someone is losing their jacket or it got stolen for example, this person is posting into the group if someone found their jacket and that they don’t need the stuff within the jacket, this person shall just return the jacket and as a price he/she offers a beer. 😀 I like this kind of problem solving. There is no Visa necessary, one of the reasons why so many nationalities occur on this small place so far north. There are some limitations, it is forbidden to die there or to give birth! hahaha – yes you read it correctly, due to the fact that they only have this small hospital, they don’t have the capacity and possibility to take care of these kind of issues.

Meaning, when you are pregnant you have to leave the island at least a month before birth and return after giving birth. Well, there had to be some limitations, therefore, you live on that very spot where you find Santa’s Mailbox, a small price to pay, isn’t it? 😀

Getting back to the hiking – which wasn’t over yet, YES I had that much time talking 😀 I had in between the feeling Hayath is going to die due to lack of oxygen or he is going to kill me! He sat in between three times down, into the snow, breathing heavily and saying with such conviction that he is not able to move one step further, that even Adrian suggested that we could return and he will drive us to some lookout place. I just couldn’t accept the fact that we will not make it to at least the 400 meters line to have the view. So I used my best skills in convincing and tried to persuade Hayath, that this is all in his mind and his body still can move, it is only he, who is thinking he cannot make it, and it is not much further, only a little bit!!! hahaha I really thought, if he had still his strength he definitely would have killed me 😀 BUHUUUT, he did it! I am so proud of him, and these pictures are the best reward 🙂

Interesting Facts:

Just for you to get an impression HOW cold it was. I took my iPhone 6 out, to take some pictures. After a few minutes, my fully charged iPhone just switched off and it took me in total 15 minutes next to the heater, to turn it on again!

Then, we had to go all the way back down – didn’t tell Hayath about that 😀 when we returned, we had a big dinner in our room and Hayath fell asleep with all his clothes on. He deserved it 😉

22.11.2015

I couldn’t believe that this is already our third day and we still haven’t seen the aurora borealis. I woke up around 8am – who cares actually about the time? it is anyway ALWAYS dark outside! Never mind, I woke up and tried to wake up Hayath, I wanted to go out for a little bit exploring and hopefully seeing the lights! No matter what I did, he didn’t move so I decided to go out on my own. I went out and I wasn’t gone for 100 meters when a snowstorm started.

I had a few nice shots, but there was no way that you could possibly see the aurora borealis in this snow. So I decided to go back – that was more difficult than I thought I really had to fight against the wind and snow. When I arrived in front of the hotel, Hayath was already looking out for me. We went inside for breakfast and decided to try it afterward again. But first, we booked a dog sled tour, the one thing I was looking forward the most 🙂

So finally, it was time for getting picked up by the van who would bring us to our dog sledge adventure. Next to us, there was one couple joining us. I just noticed that it is obviously not that common that a man and a woman travel along, being just friends. Every time we did get the same reaction to our answer “yeah, sure JUST friends/colleagues”. Seriously, people it can be possible! Never mind, well so we were picked up in the afternoon – could have been in the middle of the night, won’t get used to the dark – and in the meanwhile it started snowing like crazy again. So all in one, perfect conditions 😀 when we arrived at the place, we already heard the dogs barking. They obviously were awaiting us excited.

But, before we get on the sleds, we needed to be prepared for it! Proper clothes, seriously, I almost couldn’t move 😀 please, convince yourself. I had to wear OVER my clothes and jacket, overall, thicker boots, gloves, glasses and a head torch.

Well, no there is no chickening out possible. We had to hold the lead dogs, until all six dogs were suited up in front of the sledge. Then one person had to sit down on the sledge – Hayath – and the other had to get on the sledge and we were off. The dogs ran with such a speed, I had to take care that they didn’t overtake our guide Sandra, who was in front of me. It was pitch dark, the only light I had was the light of Sandra infront of me and the light of my own head torch. The snow was lightening the area a little bit up. It was so much fun, but on the same time so exhausting. You had to hang in with every turn we took, always be in a squat position being able to push with one leg the break in the middle, and to hold yourself with the other one. I felt so much adrenaline, a feeling between ‘that’s so freaking awesome’ and ‘oh gosh, please don’t let us skip over!’ We did one round, meaning at one point we turned around and went the way back and you had the possibility of switching places with the person sitting on the sledge. I asked Hayath if I could stay on the sledge and not to switch, I think he didn’t mind 😉 so I stayed and managed to bring us back without landing in the snow. Totally exhausted, but veeeery happy we arrived and were allowed to help to get one dog after the other to their houses. Of course, they all deserved a lot of petting and good words, they did a great job!!! Sandra asked us, if we would like to see a purebred green dog – what a question! They are so huge, but so lovable.

When we were on the way to the hut, to get a hot chocolate I saw the cage with the purebred puppies. Well, puppies … you see how big an outgrown dog is, So this is how big puppies are, when they are one month old.

After I almost couldn’t feel my hands anymore and the puppies almost ate me, we went finally to the hut.

23.11.2015

We were really sad this morning. Although it seemed as if we were already ages on this island, on the same time we thought we just arrived. It would be so strange, going back to crowded streets, big houses and well, yeah even sunlight! After breakfast, we packed our stuff and got picked up by the bus and left for the airport. On the airport, I couldn’t resist buying at least some souvenirs.

Everything went very smoothly, we arrived in Oslo a little bit with time pressure due to the fact that we didn’t have too much time to get our connecting flight. Though, by the time we reached our gate we were told that our flight was canceled and we missed the flight we could have taken instead. Nice! That was really convenient, especially because I had to be on the next day at latest 11am in the office for my business trip to Germany and the next flight available to Prague would land at 11am. What can I do!? I had to re-plan everything and we had to stay over the night in Oslo. At least, everything was covered by our airline.

Not really the kind of ending you wish yourself on a journey, but we got a nice hotel and a nice dinner sponsored.

And on the next day, everything went smoothly. We arrived on time in Prague, and I also managed to get to Germany for my business trip. Too bad that I didn’t manage to see a polar bear, nor the bearded man 😉

He was my consolation prize 😉

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Train to Tokyo, Japan Travel (Guest Post)

The train from Osaka to Tokyo is about 4 hours. We ended up taking a train from Osaka to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Hiroshima a few days after that. My point is that we had an odd experience on the train but I don’t recall on which train ride it happened. I’m pretty sure it was on the train ride from Osaka to Tokyo…

I will only be in Japan for 5 days and there’s only so much I can see. Luckily, my friend saw so much on her trip a few years ago. Hopefully, her posts will fill in the gaps of mine!

The train from Osaka to Tokyo is about 4 hours. We ended up taking a train from Osaka to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Hiroshima a few days after that. My point is that we had an odd experience on the train but I don’t recall on which train ride it happened. I’m pretty sure it was on the train ride from Osaka to Tokyo…

By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, and more photos of Mt. Fuji here: https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/train-to-tokyo/

Rachel Kitai is a traveler and artist, check out her work here: http://rachelkitai.com/

Regardless, Aly tried to make it clear to the attendant at the ticket counter that we wanted to be seated in one row together but it seemed like he misunderstood as he ended up giving us assigned seats to the middle seat of 3 separate rows. Not very convenient considering we had an eight year old, 2 adults, and a baby in a stroller. It’s not like I was helping as I was busy getting everyone donuts from Krispy Kreme (I’m such a good sister/Aunt, right?). If we all sat in one row, it would have been completely okay because we could have just wedged the stroller in front of us taking up the entire row.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We decided to sit in one row regardless but after a stop or two, people started coming on the train and looking for their assigned seats. I moved to my seat (middle seat of the row in front of Aly) and I told Aly to stay put regardless of what anyone said. Having lived in Japan (and Asia), she is much more sensitive to the culture and customs, one of which is a strict adherence to rules and seat assignments. I, on the other hand, just didn’t care. So, when someone came on the train asking to sit in the window seat where Wyatt was sitting (since that was his assigned seat), Aly graciously moved the stroller out with the full intention of standing in the hallway of the train near the bathrooms for the rest of the train tide. While she was doing this, I was essentially guilting this poor Japanese businessman into sitting in Wyatt’s assigned seat (the middle seat of the row behind us) instead. Thankfully, after chatting away with no real indication that he spoke English, understood what I was saying, or even cared, my guilting worked and he motioned for Aly and Wyatt to sit in the row together with the stroller in front of their feet. Isn’t that nice? Thanks, random Japanese businessman!

Once that entire incident was settled, I spent the rest of the train ride alternating between reading a book on my Kindle (Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers) and staring out the window taking photos. Luckily Aly was paying attention on the train ride because all of a sudden she tapped me from behind and motioned to the other side of the train where I could see that we were passing Mount Fuji. How gorgeous is this mountain?

That night, one of Aly’s awesome friends met us at the Tokyo train station with her daughter. I really really really wish I had taken some photos of the train station and of the downtown area. It was dusk by that time but it was so beautiful. Please Google “Tokyo Train Station” and you will be immensely surprised and confused at its stark contrast in comparison to the modern skyscrapers surrounding it. Man, the streets were crazy busy! Like SO SO busy. In general, Tokyo was insane. I mean, it’s the most populous city in the world with 38 million people living in this place. My country/suburb girl instincts wanted me to run away to the beautiful countryside and be a hermit! So many people. Generally speaking, I’m quite good with maneuvering through crowds but this was just unacceptable. I had never truly known or felt the real meaning of “packed like sardines” until I went to Tokyo. I can’t even tell you how arduous and weird and slightly terrifying it was to cross a street at an intersection with 150 people behind you and 150 people in front of you. It’s like riding a wave that’s smashing into another wave.

Moving on… we all went to this cool shopping center/business building that had a number of restaurants on the 5th or 6th floor. We took the elevator up and ate some amazing authentic Japanese food – soba noodles, tempura shrimp, and tempura vegetables. Also, I ate the whole meal with chopsticks. Go ahead, be impressed.

After the meal we went to and checked into our hotel. The two receptionists were quite taken with Alex (~1 year old). They kept on smiling and waving at him. Related side note, the elevators in Japan have no sensors whatsoever. They will most definitely close on you and move while you are stuck in the door. Now, Alex was out of the stroller and we had entered the elevator with some difficulty as the door kept trying to close on the stroller and then me and then Aly and then one of the suitcases. We had gotten in and the elevator door just began to close when Alex bolted for the gap. You should have seen the look on the receptionist’s faces: sheer terror. Thankfully, Aly has lightning fast reflexes and scooped up Alex in time. However, I will always remember the look on those two girls’ faces. So hilarious.

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Mealworm Monday: Air-Fried Silk Worms

This week’s Mealworm Monday features eating silkworms, a popular food here in South East Asia.

This week’s Mealworm Monday features eating silkworms, a popular food here in South East Asia. Check out the video below!

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Hiroshima Castle – Japan Travel (Guest Post)

Our Sunday officially started with a bike ride to Hiroshima Castle, only a few blocks away from the Cooper home. It was so refreshing to ride a bike again. Hiroshima, the city, is actually quite flat and it’s easy to get around on a bike even if you’re out of practice (like me).

Not being able to visit Hiroshima was one of my biggest regrets. Take a look at Rachel’s original post for gorgeous photos of the Hiroshima Castle! https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/hiroshima-castle/

By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)

Rachel Kitai is a traveler and artist, check out her art here: http://rachelkitai.com/

Our Sunday officially started with a bike ride to Hiroshima Castle, only a few blocks away from the Cooper home. It was so refreshing to ride a bike again. Hiroshima, the city, is actually quite flat and it’s easy to get around on a bike even if you’re out of practice (like me).

The entire Cooper family rode our bikes to the castle and then Aly and I went up and around to view all the displays. One floor alone was just about the evolution of toilets in Japan. That was…fascinating. Another floor described the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and I was extremely impressed by how…diplomatic the English text was. I don’t mean “diplomatic” in a bad or negative way. The tone of the text was just very factual without any judgment. They literally just said exactly what happened and how it happened and how it affected everyone else. I was so very impressed.

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Some Words About Sheida Nasseri (Guest Post)

I did like ten steps backward…
1. Getting rid of my car
2. Getting rid of my own flat into sharing a flat
3. Getting rid of my stable salary into doing onside jobs …

But gaining, therefore…
1. More knowledge
2. The chance to travel and work in Bangkok for 6 months
3. Getting to know wonderful people and feel younger and party as much as possible 😀

Hi – I am Sheida. I am a Persian girl, grown up in Germany, in Düsseldorf. My parents moved to Germany when I was three years old, for some political reasons, but I cannot remember anything about this anymore. All I know is, that my parents told me that I didn’t want to go to Germany or even learn the German language. As a result, I totally cannot speak Farsi 😉 well, I still understand it but speaking – please don’t ask for it.

 By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, with all the photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/02/simply-some-words-about-me.html

I thought I would introduce myself to you, so that you know who I am and what I am doing. I am 33 years old who lives and work apparently in Prague, Czech Republic. How do you introduce yourself to people you don’t know and probably won’t ever get to know? Well, I would say I am someone who loves the small things in life and though is striving for bigger dreams. I am not married, nor in a official relationship which probably would worry a lot of women in my age, but not me ;-). I love my life, although I thought I should start enjoying it more and start to do more of what I love, instead of dreaming it. That’s mainly the reason why I start writing this blog.

Getting back to my story, I grew up in Düsseldorf, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. I had pretty a normal life I would say, with all the teenage drama – didn’t every teenager think they had the worst time ever in their life? – some romances and so on, with one big difference. I knew from the very beginning, that I don’t want to stay forever in one place. I wanted to travel. Even when I did the usual vacation with my parents to Turkey, Spain, Italy and so on, I always wanted to go further away, I knew there is more to just that normal life. I wanted to see what’s on the other side of the world, experience adventures.  And I did. I was lucky enough experiencing how it is to live for half a year in Australia and in Bangkok, I visited much more places, like Cambodia, Egypt and many spots within Europe.

I did so many wonderful experiences, but somehow I had to finance my travels and I guess that I didn’t go always the easiest way. Got lost in between and had a big break from traveling. Well, after school I went to Australia – there was a lot of persuasion skills necessary to get my father convinced that it was the right thing for me to do. After Australia, I did an apprenticeship as a real estate agent, then I worked for three years in a company which didn’t challenge me at all and at one point I noticed that life is going to fast by, without anything special to happen. I needed to change that, so I got the crazy idea of getting back to school and study. And I did. In the Netherlands, I studied International Business and Management Studies in the English language.

I did like ten steps backward…

1. Getting rid of my car
2. Getting rid of my own flat into sharing a flat
3. Getting rid of my stable salary into doing onside jobs …

But gaining, therefore…

1. More knowledge
2. The chance to travel and work in Bangkok for 6 months
3. Getting to know wonderful people and feel younger and party as much as possible 😀

I did get the chance to work at great companies such as AirBerlin, Daimler (Mercedes Benz) and Hewlett Packard. Never staying longer than one year at one place. I would not want to give that back, although I have to admit it was really exhausting. Pushing me absolutely to my limits. I think that might be still the reason why I am at this point where I am. Living and enjoying my life and trying to get most out of it as possible.

There are still so many things to discover and experience and I would love to take you with me on this wonderful journey. So I’ll better stop the jibber-jabber and start blogging 😉

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Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria – Part 2 (Guest Post)

The weekend, after the group left, we spent pretty chilled with a few hikes, watching movies, and playing board games. Maria and I, we figured out that we have the same kind of craziness! We both LOVE Walt Disney Cartoons, we use almost every sentence to start a new song, and our favorite activity is, miming the voices of dogs…

1st October 2016

Today it is Lukas’ birthday 🙂 and he is having a cold 🙁 poor guy, although he was still fit enough to ask if his cake is ready 😉 but, as always, let me catch up the last events.

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please see the original blog post, and all the beautiful photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/10/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html

The weekend, after the group left, we spent pretty chilled with a few hikes, watching movies, and playing board games. Maria and I, we figured out that we have the same kind of craziness! We both LOVE Walt Disney Cartoons, we use almost every sentence to start a new song, and our favourite activity is, miming the voices of dogs and interpreting what they probably think or would say. We just went for a walk, when I was miming one of the dogs and I noticed that it is a good thing that she is as crazy as I am, otherwise every other person would just call the men with the white coats =P

The other day, Lukas and I went to pick up the transporter for the dogs. When we are going for a race, we would go with the transporter which includes self-made boxes for the dogs and the caravan attached to the transporter. The caravan, we already picked up before. Now it was time to tidy up the transporter. Even it doesn’t look like, there is really space for 16 dogs. Maria and I were supposed to clean the car. In the beginning, I was thinking that the boxes were pretty small and I couldn’t believe that there would be space for two dogs within one box. While cleaning it, I noticed that I fit easily with half of my body inside to reach all corners. Bigger than I thought. Doing so, I felt tempted to try out if I fit in … so I’d tried …  and I did fit =)

Lukas was amazed and said that usually there are just three people going to the race. Now that he knows, I’ll fit, we could go with four….no way =P

I think I didn’t mention until now that at the moment we have Aliy and Laska in the house. Aliy is already in heat, and Laska is about to get in heat and they would drive the male dogs crazy staying in the kennels.

Just to give you the picture, we have nine full grown, not castrated male dogs =P Aliy is not allowed to get puppies yet, because Lukas has no breeding certification for her. She needs to be tested before. Laska is allowed, but Lukas wants her to breed with some Husky from Switzerland he has chosen. So we are just waiting for her to get in heat, then we would drive her all the way over to Switzerland.

A dog is getting about every six to eight months in heat. She is usually around four weeks in heat, but she is just able to breed as of the 11/12th day. She will be then, hopefully, pregnant for 58-68 days and then we will have puppies! I’m really looking forward to it. I want to be here, when it is happening! knowing myself, it will be probably difficult for me to go away… maybe, I will extend my stay a little bit 😉 We have a little bit troubles with Braxi, the yard dog. Braxi is absolutely in love with her (that’s the children version – psssst ;-)) Maria and I are calling it “Romeo & Juliette” Story. The forbidden love. He is waiting infront of the window or door and howling for her and she is sitting on the other side. Every time we get out of the door, he already awaits her and when we are coming back from a walk, he is waiting behind the gate. I have to make a video/pic of that! So cute, but unfortunately they are not allowed.

The rest of the week was actually pretty calm. There was just one senior group visiting for one hour, so Maria and I had a lot of free time. I used that for publishing my first post, practising to take pictures with my mirror reflex camera (I am trying to take pictures of stars, believe me, that’s not that easy) and drawing.

I found an Italian Tattoo Artist, Lucreziau, she is just amazing! I love her drawings, so I sat down and tried myself a few of her drawings, not that bad for the first attempt I guess 😉

Well, and then Lukas was the whole week reminding us that it is his Birthday WEEK 😉 and then he tricked me. He asked me if I could bake, I said yes. Then he asked, what kind of cake I can do and I answered him, I can do any cake by recipy – he wants a black forest gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)! Well, I said I could do anything so now I had to prove that I could! I changed a little bit the design, but I think I didn’t do too bad! It tasted delicious though 😉

2nd October 2016

Okay, two different things which came to my mind on this special Sunday =)

I just saw this morning some advertisement in facebook about Walt Disney and then it just came up my mind. I would love to go to Walt Disneyland Paris!!! And the best company for such a trip is someone who is just as crazy about Walt Disney as I am – Maria!!! I went to Maria- ok no, I was jumping into her room with a huge grin in my face and told her my idea and her eyes started to sparkle!!! She would be in! So the only thing to find out, would be, to find the perfect timeframe, so that Lukas can bear both of us not to be around for three/four days! Do you know those days when good ideas just come to you very easy? That was obviously one of those days 😉 Lukas told us the day before that one of the last volunteers would come end of November to visit him for a week. So I thought, when we would go in that week and Miriam would be here too, then there should be almost no reason to say no, right? Before we even could ask Lukas, Maria and I were so excited about that idea 😀 when Lukas came down into the kitchen, we both ran to him and almost screamed at him and he said YES!!!! Woooooooohoooooo 😀 Both of us, started dancing – hahaha =) we sat down and started planning our trip. So right now, we booked, hotels, entrance tickets and plane tickets – 28th until 30th of October are set up! Still two months to wait … keep you updated, there will be most probably a separate post just about Walt Disneyland 😉

So let’s get started 😉

The second thing, Maria and I were thinking about starting some abs challenge! I upgraded the whole thing into a fitness challenge. I downloaded an app, called 30 days’ challenges. It is separated into two beginners, intermediate and advanced levels in all body sections – Ab, push up, squat, arms, butt, plank, thigh, and cardio! Maria and I decided we want to try us in three sections – ab, squat, and cardio. We will start as of tomorrow. There will be no uploaded information or pictures in between. I will definitely work on a video, so that improvements are visible – hopefully =P What I like about that app are the different levels you can exercise, that means, when your done with one level/challenge you can tackle the more advanced one. I should maybe mention, that I am usually approximately 51/52kg (I am 1.57m tall (small)). I put on weight in the last months and had my max. weight reached by beginning of September– 57kg!!!! I was shocked!!! Since I started here, I got down to 54.5kg. Just by moving more, but I am definitely eating too much chocolate =P If I start taking care of what I eat and add more exercise, I am sure I will get back to my usual weight and maybe even better? In addition, I started a bet with my boyfriend. Who ever is reaching his/her goal until Christmas get invited for a nice dinner and gets a small present OR is allowed to wish something. As the Fitness challenge Maria and I are doing, will take 30 days, I’ll upload most probably around the 6th of November one separate post about that challenge. So, let’s get started!!

4th October 2016

Yesterday, it started to rain. It turned much colder and the earth got soft. Lukas told us, that now the dogs need to be taken out as often as possible. So we went in the morning with Aliy and Laska (they are still in the house, so they need some exercise), then we took Braxi and the puppies and in the afternoon we went with Atreju, Simba and Lilly. Atreju and Simba were pulling us like crazy, they have so much energy! Unbelievable!

Talking about Aliy, she can be really an ass! Sorry, but as much as I love her, she is really sassy! When she is pissed about something, for example, that Laska can go for a training, but she doesn’t, she is peeing in the house … out of protest! She did it already three times! And she is soooo jealous of Laska. She doesn’t like it, when you pay attention to Laska, she wants all the attention just for herself =P When you start petting her, she sits down right infront of you and enjoys it so much. But don’t you dare to stop, if you dare, she either comes one step closer looking at you with her dog eyes.

5th October 2016

YES – training! My first time as a co-driver!!! I recorded some of it, but I need obviously still some practice because not everything turned out as well as I wished for. Still I got some beautiful pics and videos.

We went this time longer than usual. Before, Lukas went for approx. 10-15minutes, but today we went for 20-25 minutes. You could see that the dogs were exhausted and even they have to get used to the training again. There was a whole lazy summer and a few kilos too much on a few dogs 😉 But even I had my training, I had to jump off in between to untangle the dogs or even run the hill up, when it was too steep. Good workout =P

Braxi is getting more and more annoying with Aliy, I think now the dangerous days started, when Aliy would be ready to be humped. I really had a fight with Braxi, holding him back so that Maria could pass by with the Aliy and Laska. I don’t know if that was the reason, for what happened later but when I wanted to get out of the house, I noticed that my boots were gone. Maria’s boots were lying a little bit further away but still in front of the house, but mine were gone! I suspected Braxi, and when I got my sport shoes on and went to look where he could possibly have put them, it happened. Braxi tried to hump on me! I can tell you, when such a big dog, is holding you with both front legs, that’s painful and you need a lot of strength to get rid of him! I couldn’t move! As soon as I did one step further, he tried humping me again! I started to get really angry! I couldn’t get rid of him! Then I heard Lukas yelling, he tried to call him off but he failed because he cracked … of laughter!!!! Now I really got upset! I got rid of Braxi, he still was following me wherever I went, but at least I was able to keep him in a certain distance from me. I don’t know what got into him, but he is just doing it with me! He leaves Maria and Angelika alone. At least later during the day, I got him to relax a little bit more or let’s say, I could see early enough when he is about to hump on me, so that I did correct him. Men – seriously!

Next day, there should have been also a training, so we got up early and started feeding the dogs. Maria noticed directly that something is wrong with Duke. He obviously vomited his dinner and was lying motionless in the corner and wasn’t even interested in food. Everybody who knows Duke, know exactly that something cannot be right, if Duke is not interested in food. He loves food! He seemed to be really weak. After everyone was fed, Maria and I started putting the harnesses on the dogs and asked Angelika if she could go down and tell Lukas about Dukes’ state. She came back and said, that someone will come up to check on him. When Lukas came, he directly called the vet. He carried Duke to the car, and he and Birgit drove away. Training cancelled. We took off the harnesses and sat in the kitchen waiting for them to come back. We all felt very restless. They came back, and the whole atmosphere was kind of tense. They carried Duke upstairs and told us, that the vet didn’t know what it was. After an hour, Lukas and Birgit went for another vet because Duke had a break-down and they were really afraid of losing him! Situation wasn’t easy at all. I kind of felt not good on that day either. I got stomach issues – maybe sympathy sickness? No idea. The whole day we were not in such a good mood because we were worried. Though on the next morning, Duke felt much better. What a relief! Check that video, just adorable 🙂

We had a training and afterwards Lukas and I went with Duke for the doctor to see the blood results. The doctor was relieved to see Duke so much better. Obviously, he had stomach problems before and she is suspecting some infection in the liver, cause the numbers were a bit high. She gave him an infusion and some tablets for Vitamin B and liver antibiotics. Additionally, on that day, my boyfriend arrived! I was so excited to see him again 🙂 we stayed in a pension in Stronsdorf. He arrived late in the evening and we directly went there. The pension is located up a hill, with no other houses around you very quiet and nice. We had a wonderful chilled evening with some wine and talked a lot.

Next morning, we had Breakfast around nine (so strange to sleep longer than 6/7 am) talked with the owners, played a little bit with their labrador Maya (super cute) and drove then to the snowdragons. We went to the yard, and Max got to know all dogs and believe it or not, since Max came to visit the dogs.

Afterwards, Miriam, Angelika, Max and I went on a hike with the puppies, Laska and Aliy. It was for once not raining and we enjoyed our hike a lot. It was a nice feeling, to have your loved one with you, sharing the experiences you do 🙂 later, Max and I went to a restaurant Gasthaus Herbst it didn’t look that fancy to be honest, but the food, OMG awesome!!! Really nice! Lukas told us afterwards, that they obviously have some Star cook working there. With full stomachs, we returned to the pension and just chilled in the afternoon, watching TV, napping and talking. In the evening, we went to Lukas and Birgit and we all went to an event, called Night of Celtic fire at a museum in Asparn. It was really nice, very cold though. Max and I would have loved to see the houses and environment during daylight. We spent another nice evening together, before Max left on the next morning.

Sunday afternoon, we had a kids birthday taking place. Ten kids, in an age of 7-9 years old. It was very exhausting, as always when kids come to visit 😉

The next days we had trainings and a lot of hikes. We have to get prepared. The first race we are taking part, will be in the last week of October. On wednesday, I had to prepare a scavenger hunt for a children group – 55 kids!!!! On Thursday, at 8am there would come 55 kids in an age of 10/11 years old. Lukas, said he needs someone grumpy for the hike =P no, of course he was kidding, he needed someone who can control a bunch of kids and two dogs. We were going to divide the kids in five groups and we would have five stations so that each group is always busy.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but I got an UP bracelet which is counting my steps. My personal goal are 11,000 steps per day, well on that very special day, I did 24,000 steps!!!! Actually, it isn’t any problem to reach the 11,000 steps anymore, I am at least on two hikes every day! But on that day, I really was exhausted! We all were, at 11pm it was total silence in the house and no lights burning.

In between I am always considering and reflecting my whole situation. Even, when I am in between really tired and my whole body is aching, I am really happy. I have a loving boyfriend, I have wonderful people around me, such sweet dogs who give so much love and I have no pressure that I need to do anything. Of course, I am already checking what could be my next step, but if I don’t find the right job as a next step, I just would do another volunteer job. I have to admit, I was even thinking to do another study course, but these are just thoughts. I will let you know for sure, when I decide 🙂

Hope to see you for my next post 🙂

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Flying a Drone Over a Jet Ski in Bali (Video)

This was one of the first times we flew our DJI Phantom 3 SE over the water. Isaac flew while I did the jet skiing and he only almost decapitated me once!

This was one of the first times we flew our DJI Phantom 3 SE over the water. Isaac flew while I did the jet skiing and he only almost decapitated me once!

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Tubing in -25°C: Harbin, China 2018

Wearing an entire suitcase worth of clothes, tubing in Harbin, China was so scary that we weren’t even cold!

Wearing an entire suitcase worth of clothes, tubing in Harbin, China was so scary that we weren’t even cold!

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The New York Explorer Pass Saved Me $100 – 2018

The New York Explorer Pass did, in fact, save me $100, this isn’t just click bait. But it could have saved me even more! Or nothing at all… The New York Explorer Pass is the way to go if you want to use it to do some expensive tours and sightseeing, however, it can also lose you money if you only use it for the cheaper options.

The New York Explorer Pass did, in fact, save me $100, this isn’t just click bait. But it could have saved me even more! Or nothing at all… The New York Explorer Pass is the way to go if you want to use it to do some expensive tours and sightseeing, however, it can also lose you money if you only use it for the cheaper options.

It’s basic math. The New York Explorer Pass lets you visit 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 attractions for a set price. There is a custom option if you already know which specific places you want to visit, but I really enjoyed the flexibility of choosing from the 82 different activities on offer!

If you want to calculate whether or not the Pass will save you any money, you just need to do some basic math and you don’t need to do any research outside of this website. As you scroll through all of the offered attractions, you will see their regular admission prices that range from $18.5 for the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum – Ferry Ticket to a whopping $69 for the Luna Park at Coney Island: 24 Ride Pass.

During my visit to New York last Christmas, I chose the 5 attraction Pass since I only had a week to explore the city! It cost me $134 (it would have been $99 for a child) and I was planning on only using it for the most expensive attractions and visiting the cheaper places without using the pass to save the most money. Souvenir shopping excluded, I actually only spent $300 on my entire week in NYC, Airbnb included!

Of course, a week passed with the blink of an eye and I ended up running out of time and using it for whatever attraction I happened to stumble upon – and I still saved lots of money! I’m already planning my next trip to New York in August and this time I will be getting the 10 attraction Pass for $219 ($169 for children). To make this one worth it, you simply need to make sure that each of your 10 attractions costs more than $21.9.

For the 5 attraction Pass, each activity had to be over $26.8 to get your money’s worth. I originally planned to do:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus New York: Classic 1-Day Tour – $60
  • Night Tour by Big Bus New York – $45
  • National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey – $43.01
  • Gossip Girl Sites Bus Tour by On Location Tours – $49
  • Catacombs by Candlelight Tour – $35

This would have had me paying just $134 for 5 attractions worth $232! If need up trading in the Night Tour and Gossip Girl Tour for the Top of the Rock and Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry which were both much cheaper options, I still ended up saving $70.

So basically, as long as you’re not just riding the $18 Ferry every day for a week or only visiting two places instead of five, you’re not losing money on the Pass!

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Mealworm Mondays: Livin Farms Hive Resources & Info

This week’s Mealworm Monday features feeding the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives…

This week’s Mealworm Monday features the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives. You can read more about the Hive in my past articles or on the Livin Farms website. Check out the video below!

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