I hope you are having a nice Christmas, despite the restrictions. I know, it’s hard to not have the big family celebrations you are used to … but what’s the alternative? Just embrace NOT having to rush from one family occasion to the next to satisfy everyone, being stressed out throughout the holidays. Instead enjoy a more relaxed Christmas.

My Christmas? I celebrated with my cat … how tacky that sounds … and he was neither impressed bythe tree nor his gifts … Just like last year I enjoyed the advent time immensely, celebrating each Sunday with lighting the advent wreath, having tea withdifferent tea sets, enjoying cookies and listening to Christmas songs and Christmas stories. On the 4th advent I put up my fake tree … yeah, I have to admit I got one last year. The thought of lugging around the real tree around the block, up to my second-floor apartment and down again after a few days with needles lining the stairs, having to sweep them up again … too much effort to contemplate. So, I chose the more practical – and definitely cheaper and more environmental friendly – solution for the years to come. Even though I love the smell of a real tree, the imagination that MINE is still allowed to live and stand somewhere in a wood, is nice too.

As is my tradition, fondue on the big evening was on the schedule. Looking forward to all year. The big advantage? Preparations are kept at a minimum. All I had to do was cut and marinate some meat (chicken and turkey), franks, mushrooms and red pepper, prepare two quick dips (apple-banana-curry and cranberry-horseradish) and wait for the evening to arrive. As usual I start at 5 p.m. with my fondue and then the “Christkind” arrived by delivering all the presents – most of which I got for myself -, lighting the candles on the tree, starting the CD player with“Silent night, holy night” and ringing the little porcelain bell … as usual, I couldn’t help crying my heart out, thinking of those I miss so much, wishing they were still here and I wouldn’t have to compensate with gifts I give to myself. But I also know that they would be happy that I’m happy, even though I am alone at Christmas. The unpacking of my gifts – while watching the 50s movie “Sissi” by Ernst Marischka on Netflix – took some time and I loved every second of it. Since I already started my Amazon and used books orders in late September I thankfully didn’t quite remember what I had orderedand was very happy with the outcome. Video chatting with my aunt in between.

So, yes, I can really say I had a wonderful day and evening. Chatting with friends and family all day as well. And the most wonderful thing today? My special friend dropping by with his gift for me. A novel about Empress Elisabeth of Austria. A thoughtful gift. Just lovely. And therefore the most precious to me of all.

It’s nearly midnight now, Christmas is over … and I’m looking forward to the next days to put away my new books, cabaret DVDs and tea sets. Having to make the tough decisions which book to read next! Merry Christmas, you all!



It’s true. One only appreciates something when it’s not there anymore. Well, Austria is not gone. But I’m gone. Gone for 8 years now. With the occasional tripback. I don’t know why, but especially this year I missed it more than ever. Is it the Corona situation? With the long lockdown and hardly seeing anyone? No shopping trips, coffee outings, stuck at home with my cat? Or reading about the grand Austrian actors, most of them dead, watching some of their theatre plays on DVD? I don’t know! I just crave everything Austrian at the moment. Even dividing my love for British mysteries with my newfound love for Austrian mysteries. Just to read about the familiar sites in Vienna, Salzburg, Carinthia, Styria, remembering. Dreaming about my next chance to go to Vienna or re-visit Salzburg and Castle Hellbrunnwith its awesome trick fountains I visited with my parents as a child. 

Even though I managed to visit Austria this fall – which was like balm to my wounded soul – meeting everyone … I still miss it. More than ever. The people, the culture, the food, the language, the Austrian way of life. Less “stick in the ass”, a little less stupidity … and especially less food horrors. (Not to mention all the other things I despise about Germany …) 

I have actually already planned another Austria trip – hopefully to be realized in two years’ time, since next year my vacations are already fully planned. One including the “old monarchy Austria” with Marienbad, Karlsbad and Prague – following in the footsteps of the great (Jewish) authors and actors – as well as Vienna, St. Wolfgang, Bad Ischl and Salzburg. Having plenty of time to revisit Schönbrunn and the Gloriette – didn’t have the time this year -, the one or other museum, heading to St. Wolfgang to spend a night at the world-famous “Weißen Rössl” Hotel, enjoy Zauner stollen at the k.u.k. bakery in Bad Ischl plus visiting the Emperor’s summer villa, of course. And following in the footsteps of my distant relative Katharina Schratt, the famous actress and the Emperor’s good friend. The planning alone of this trip, even though it’s still in the future, makes me happy.

Even though there are many beautiful places in Austria, the old monarchy trip is the most important. Together with getting back to a skiing vacation somewhere in Tyrol. And going home to Styria and Carinthia of course. 

The longer I live here in Germany, the more I realize how different Austrians are from the Germans. And let me tell you, I don’t consider Germany my home, per se. It’s the period of time and place I spend my working life, with the hope of returning to Austria in my retirement.


OR: A pandemic soul searching.

I have to admit it! I need it! I crave it! I crave solitude as much as I crave the company of a few very good friends. But mostly, I found out that I enjoy the solitude and really, really need it. And I’m not talking about the loneliness that hits me occasionally. That’s a completely different matter altogether. I’m talking about the enjoyment of being alone. To not have to communicate, being able to do just what I want to and when to. Enjoying different things on my own. Like my Austria vacation. I’m not sure who would be happy getting up at 7, being in the inner city half an hour later just to walk around the still sleeping city when it comes to tourists. Or appreciate elegant cafés in excellent locations – of course one pays extra for that – where I can do some writing. My ex certainly didn’t. (His opinion on having coffee at the Café Florian on Piazza di San Marco in Venice, paying extra for the live music to be enjoyed outside on the plaza, just stupid and a waste of money – I paid, by the way! Yep, just no style, no appreciation of the beautiful things! Good riddance!)

I like the peace and quiet at home, only interrupted by my cat. The quiet after a busy home office day with lots of talking. Enjoying a good book on the balcony or in my reading fauteuil. That’s quality of life for me. 

So yes, I certainly enjoy the solitude, which I particularly found out during the past year. The pandemic year. Mainly, that I didn’t care about other’s people’s company all too much. I don’t really need it. I like to meet friends occasionally for dinner or coffee / tea. Or my special friend for some fun. But apart from that, I don’t miss it. And what and who I miss, that’s what I can’t have back anyway.

Am I unsocial? I don’t think so. I just prefer quality time with my friends and don’t need large party groups, noise and getting drunk. I never needed that. I’ve always preferred small get-togethers where one could actually hear what the other one was saying. Which basically proves my point I like to make again and again: I’m just different. An old soul. And it’s good to be different. 

However, apart from all the solitude I enjoy so much, I am looking forward to some craziness again. Attending the one or other heavy metal / gothic concert with my friend, acting the way I never did as a teen – but learned to in my 40s. (Ohhh … there it is again … the bad word … 40s … getting closer to the big 5-0! How awful is that?) A rare occasion, treasured the more for it. And enjoying my solitude again for the rest of the time.


Sigh! Double sigh! Sigh, sigh, sigh! It’s downright cruel what an Austrian has to suffer in terms of culinary atrocities here in Germany. Which I might have mentioned once or twice … And I might also have mentioned their disgusting habit of dousing and drenching everything in gravies and sauces. As in my darling Schnitzels, trying to be crispy (a rare German occasion anyway), being covered in red pepper or mushroom sauce. Or whichever genius ideas arestaurateur might have to offer his unsuspecting customers.

To my utmost horror, even the Italians seem to have adapted to the German love for sauces. And I’m not talking about fake Italians who also offer Kebappizza topped with Sauce Hollandaise (quel’ orrore), but real Italians who in general serve great pizza, Tiramisu and Profiteroles the way I’m used to from my Italian trips. Imagine my surprise recently when I discovered my friend’s Tiramisu and my Profiteroles drizzled with strawberry and kiwi (or whatever fruit sauce the green sludge was supposed to be) sauces. I was horrified and tried to scrape away this offensive stuff … with little success … my taste buds were hit with a taste not suitable for the delicious chocolate cream covering my Profiteroles. (And I certainly also don’t need a dollop of whipped cream also drizzled with strawberry sauce!) Destroyed, plain and simple. The whole dessert was destroyed by this unnecessary “decoration”. And once again, I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. A good tiramisu or profiteroles or whatever else they decide to cover with THIS, is delicious the way it is. The only acceptable decoration would be some fresh fruit on the side …but apart from that, it doesn’t need anything!

Sooo, once again I will have to extend my “special requirements list for restaurants” to think of when ordering food in Germany:1.) No sauce of any kind on MY Schnitzel2.) No Sauce Hollandaise on veggies3.) No Balsamic cream as decoration4.) No sprinkled parsley as decoration5.) No red French fry spice, just plain old salt6.) No fruit sauces on desserts7.) No oregano on pizzas (since usually a handful of dried oregano seems to be dumped onto the middle of the pizza)8.) Curry ketchup is NO regular ketchup and is not suitable for Schnitzels9.) Apple Strudel is NOT made with puff pastry, so don’t call it Apple Strudel

Even my special friend, who is joining me for lunch occasionally at home and whom I served a special Austrian dish called “Kärntner Kasnudel” not too long ago (a kind of pasta dumpling filled with curd cheese, onions and mint) inquired whether there was a sauce available. Since it’s only served with melted butter and green salad on the side, I had to deny it.Nope, no sauce! Sauce is NOT served with that! It doesn’t need a sauce. Just like my fried curd cheese dumplings. 

I wonder which atrocities I will have to suffer in the coming years? I’ll certainly share those with you!

By the way, there are a few German dishes I actually like very much … but this I will keep for another post! Cheerio!