New Passport application at Austrian Embassy, London

We booked our holiday with Expedia. It all started online… we got a really good price for 3 Adults and 1 infant. And it was a direct flight with Virgin as Jon had insisted! He was even more so excited after learning the aircraft we would be flying in was a 747-400.

Somewhere during the booking process, the website asks you to fill in your passport details. Ooops. I just remembered my passport had expired in December 2013.  So I called Expedia just to find out if I indeed needed my passport number to complete the booking. The lady I spoke to didn’t answer my question straight away but rambled on about how she can finish the booking and get a good price for me and what not! So after about 10mins she informed me that I didn’t need my passport number to complete the booking, but I will need it to check in and at the airport…. duh moment!!! Continue reading

home for the holidays

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So I set off to Vienna on Saturday Night. Being the 24th of December I figured there wouldn’t be much traffic … and right I was. My other half J brought me to Manchester Airport in 30 Minutes, which by any standard is pretty fast. For the first time in a while I was not worried about missing my flight (this has happened 3 times before and definitely deserves a separate post). I got to T1 in plenty of time, checked my 14,5 kg heavy suitcase, which baffles me, as I really did not pack that much. In fact I don’t really know what I packed and so far I have not needed anything out of it! At the Check-in Desk for Swiss we had a little chat with the ground staff … two very lovely people. The man, we reckon, checked us in last year when we came home for the holidays.

nivea conditionerWe were both sad. It was going to be our first Christmas apart in 6 or 7 years – who’s counting? Point is, it was the first and well, quite upsetting. We said our goodbyes and I made my way through security. Belt came off, Laptop came out of case and through the magic door. This time however, I was asked to open my bag and I thought to myself WTF? Well as it turns out, I left my hair conditioner in my rucksack. You see, I use this particular backpack for the gym and for reasons unknown to me, I had left my hair conditioner – of the Nivea brand – in the bottom. Sucks, but I had to leave it there!

It was the 24. December, Christmas Eve, the Airport was practically dead. I made my way to Gate 25 and sat there checking Facebook. Then we were called to board the plane I took my time but turns out I was the last to board the plane. Flight number LX 381 from Manchester to Zürich.

15 passengers tops

15 Passengers, if that. Excuse my head and the Quality of the pic!

I have to say, while I usually really enjoy Swiss air flights, this was by far the best flight. With only a handful of passengers – it couldn’t have been anymore than 15 tbh – it was pure bliss. One flight attendant in particular stood out for me on this flight: Hannah. For many reasons really. After completing her first round of service, she returned and asked us if we wanted another drink or another snack, as there were still many left. I kindly declined to have another sandwich but asked if it was possible to have some more chocolate … I’m no one to pass on some good Swiss chocolate. Whaddya know … she came back with a stack! Low and behold:

swiss air chocolate

my precious … chocolate courtesy of Hannah from swiss air

She also offered me a pillow. I assume its because I was awkwardly slouched in my seat trying to look out the window (why I dont know, as it was dark) and trying to sleep at the same time. It was very nice of her and definitely very refreshing experience.

We landed around 9:30pm European time and I made my way to the dayrooms at Zürich airport. I stayed in a dayroom for CHF40/night. It was very basic … but I really didn’t need more. A lounger, a locker and the possibility of using the loo and showers! Oh what luxury. I got a good nights rest for the early morning flight ahead of me.

I woke up at 5.50am (!) had a very long hot shower that actually did wake me up, brushed my teeth, put on my face (yes, we do say this) and was almost ready to face the world. I just needed some coffee. Coffee is expensive anywhere in the world but in Zurich you need to take out a mortgage. Seriously CHF 5,70 for a small coffee?? You must be mad. I skipped the coffee and made my way to the gate. I passed all the lovely expensive shops, as it be ridiculous to bother looking in those when I complain about a CHF5,70 coffee.

matching his and hers outfit

matching his and hers outfit, down to their footwear … i want to be sick, quick give me a bucket or their jackets

As it turns out, I don’t function without coffee…. I walked to the wrong Gate and wasted 15 precious minutes finding the right one. I finally made it, but, the flight was delayed. Nevermind. I sat down and observed the queue that was getting longer. It baffles me, why people queue to board a plane for 20+ minutes, when the plane won’t leave before the last person has boarded. It even waits for late passengers. It was amusing none the less to see how the queue got longer and winded its way through this section of the airport. Sorry guys no photos here 🙁

Moving on, we’re on the plane (seat 5f) and we go through the de-icer! yay:

de-icing swiss air

a quick shower for the wings with the de-icer

We take off 10mins delayed. As expected this flight wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first one, but it was fully booked and the flight attendants weren’t as great either. I fell asleep and so also missed out on my beloved Swiss chocolate fix. No other incidents to report on this flight, well except the view – absolutely stunning:

The Alps en route to Vienna

The Alps en route to Vienna. Stunning!

flying over the Alps

Flying over the Alps

We landed on time, despite the initial delay and I got my suitcase. Was greeted by my waiting parents, had a proper Viennese coffee before leaving to drive home and into bed for another few hours sleep. Ahhh bliss.

 

Recipes: Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Crescents)

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Vanillekipferl aka Vanilla Crescents originated in Vienna, Austria.

They are traditionally made at Christmas time, but thanks to their popularity can be enjoyed at any time during the year. they can be found in Viennese Coffee shops or Bakery. But personally, I find there is nothing better than baking your own Christmas Cookies 🙂

The origins of the crescent shape go back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They are said to have been created in the shape of the Turkish crescent to celebrate successfully having avoided an invasion by the Ottoman Turks. Whether this legend is true or not, most Austrians simply enjoy the taste of these christmas biscuits with a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate!

Ingredients:

300g Plain Flour
80g Confectioner’s Sugar
Pinch of Salt
80g Hazelnuts (ground)
alternativly use 40g ground Hazelnuts
and 40g ground Almonds
2 Egg yolk
200g Butter (cold)
1 Vanillabean (or eqv. paste)
Confectioner’s Sugar to toss (at end)

Mix Confectioner’s Sugar, ground Walnuts and salt together. Make a trough in the middle and beat in the egg yolks and add the Vanilla. Cut the cold Butter into small pieces and spread it over the edge and knead it quickly into a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it with foil and stick it in the fridge. Leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30mins.

Preheat the oven at 170 °C. Take the chilled dough out of the fridge. Form it into little balls, which you then mould into little crescents. Ideally, they should all be around the same size to insure the same baking time. Place the little crescents on a baking try lined with parchment paper and bake for 12 to 15 mins. They should barely be browned…. too brown and its overcooked and will be too crunchy. We are aiming for a soft, melty type of feel for these vanilla crescents.

Toss the still warm (but not hot, as they will break apart) vanilla crescents gently in confectioner’s sugar.

Recipes: Vanillekipferl

Recipes: Vanillekipferl

HAPPY BAKING!!!!

We love Vienna

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Nestled in the hills, woods and fields, with the beautiful blue Danube flowing through it, lies the imperial city where once the Habsburg Emperors reigned. The castles and palaces of that period, like the imperial summer palace Schöbrunn, the Hofburg Palace or the Belvedere, have shaped the cityscape of Vienna as we see it today.
vienna ©luca sartoni (flickr)
Vienna is both really: retrogression and modernity joined to make an interesting mix. The top-class cultural offers is only one facet of Vienna, then there is also a lively Pub- and clubbing scene. The Danube Island is delightful, a true paradise for the youth and leisure-seeking people. Anyone interested in museums and the arts will find their treasures in Vienna. For the architecturally interested, the city center presents itself almost like an open air museum.

Oh, and then there is the music! W.A. Mozart, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, the waltz king that is Johann Strauss, a number of operas, operettas and musicals, add to that a thriving rock and DJ scene: They all help to make Vienna not just the capital of Austria, but also the capital of music – especially during the ball season. After all, there are over 300 balls in January and February that invite to brisk pirouettes in three-quarter time on the parquet.

The highlight of the season, however is the world famous Opera Ball, which transforms the state opera into the  Society hotspot of Vienna. But unless you are willing to spend several hundred Euros and book well in advance you will not stand a chance in getting tickets!

staatsoper - State Operahouse, Vienna

Staatsoper, Vienna ©infraredhorsebite (flickr)

Vienna is also known as the city of culture and as such possesses a lively and vast array of cultural attractions. No matter when you come and what you’re looking for, I can guarantee you will find something exciting to discover. There are over 100 Museums to visit in Vienna and you will find one of the 10 most extensive cultural districts in the world – the Museums Quartier (museum district). From here, it is only a stone’s throw to the Albertina, the museum with the world’s largest graphic collection.

Or if your tastes are not quite so culturally refined then discover the culinary variety of Vienna. Visit one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses which not only provide for great physical well-being, but also provide food for the mind and soul. Or visit traditional wine taverns (“Heurige”) and work your way through famous culinary specialities, like the Wiener Schnitzel!