Saturday, January 31, 2009

Austria Alps: Gerlos, the Village and Apres Ski (Cin-Cin & Little London)

Gerlos sits in the heart of Ziller Valley, 1300 meters above sea level and about 10-minute zigzag drive from Zell am Ziller. The village is a very popular wintersport destination by the Dutch and Germans as well. Everywhere I go, be it in the Spar supermarket, on the streets, in the restaurants, hanging on the bar, waiting at the ski lift, skiing in the slopes, practically everywhere, Dutch is spoken. It felt like I have not left the Netherlands after all.

The Village: Gerlos


The alpine village, Gerlos, at dusk.


Because of Gerlos popularity, I have expected a much bigger village however it’s actually a very small and laid-back town. No more than a strip, a kilometer long street filled with hotels, inns, banks, and shops. That’s it, that is the village. There is a small arena with a slope and a ski school in the center of the village, perfect for children and beginners who need to practice. Also a great place to enjoy sledding.

Most of the shops on the little road strip are food stores, souvenir shops, and sports-clothing stores selling ridiculously priced items. I did however found a really nice, a bit on the expensive side, white snow boots with the price slashed down so lucky me I bought it. I have been wanting to buy one anyway and when it snowed on our third day with my uggs not having the grip to climb the knee-deep snow in front of our chalet, this was indeed the best opportunity and reason to buy. Women always find reasons!


Lovely Austrian styled houses with rococo influence, some latticework, and the generous use of alpine wood.


Austrians are religious people, many houses have scribbles of crosses in chalk on the front door which means a priest have blessed the house.


Moi here, warm and cozy in the chalet with my fuscia knitted bonnet.



A hot sexy snowboard we saw in a sports shop.


On Sunday evening there is a Ski Show held on the small arena which is sponsored by the local ski school. We watched the show in below 0C temperatures while sipping a warm cup of gluhwein. It wasn’t really that spectacular as I have expected. The lights show though was nicely done, it gave the program the pizzaz and the kids who joined were quite impressive with their downhill skiing skills.

The Apres Ski in Gerlos

And true to its name, the Apres Ski and nightlife in Gerlos is indeed FUN. The booze and partying starts at 3PM sharp even if the ski lifts close later at 4PM. I guess the die hard partygoers race down the slopes early to catch their first sip for the looong evening.


Cin-Cin bar, taken early in the afternoon before the Apres Ski opened.



Our Erdinger white beers and Cin-Cin bar is decorated with replicas of blue town plates that you see all over the Netherlands. This bar is definitely Dutch and an Austrian trudging in will probably feel out of place!


For our entire stay, we have only been to three bars: Cin-Cin, Little London, and Country Club, which I believe are all Dutch bars, not kidding, Gerlos is like a little Dutch enclave! These bars are also the most entertaining and packed. One can just imagine the high season. Ugh, sweats inside the bars with freezing conditions outside.

I quite like the theme going on in Cin-Cin, they have replicas of Dutch town plates (the blue plates you see on the roads and borders all over the Netherlands) on the walls and celings. It gives you the cozy feeling of being at home even if you are far away. The Country Club on the other hand is more of a discotheque that goes on non-stop until dawn while Cin-Cin and Little London closes at midnight.


A crammed Little London pub.


The songs played are also sooooooo Dutch and how should I call it--very volkslied type. Dutchman and I were laughing the whole time, pretending to enjoy the whole thing because most of the songs we have no clue about. Looks like these songs are played in little village bars in the Netherlands. We were in fact expecting some real Dutch trance music of the Tiesto or Armin van Buren fame, instead, music along Andre Hazes and Frans Bauer discography genre hijacked our ears for the entire evening. Or maybe we are just out of touch and these are actually cool music?

I’ve had witbier in the first few nights and later on I switched to Jagermeister to submerge myself completely in this Austrian (mountain) experience.

Travel Period: January 2009
Destination: Gerlos (Tirol), Austria

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All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Austrian Alps: Chalet in Gerlos

This is our wooden chalet in Gerlos, Austria:


I love the wide glass windows.


Making breakfast for the Dutchman and I. Please excuse my harassed morning face.


Moi at the terrace. Well, not harassed anymore, haha.

Here are some pictures of the surroundings of our chalet:

There is a little chapel around the corner. Many Austrians are Roman Catholics and you will see a lot of the religious influence everywhere in the village, from chapels to churches to random crosses on the streets.


And we did a little stroll in the neighbourhood with our new found friends.

Travel Period: January 2009
Destination: Gerlos (Tirol), Austria

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stroll on Vltava River

Vltava River is the longest river in Czech Republic and it splits the Lesser Town (Hradcany) from the Old Town and New Town.

It was a very chilly morning and I could feel the crispness of the wind on my lips. I made sure to dress warmly by wearing my knitted red muts, scarf and gloves. I just need to do this even if it’s very cold outside. At least it’s not snowing today.

Trivia: Did you know there are 18 bridges crossing the Vltava River?

Here are some of the views I had while doing the stroll along the Vltava River by Nove Mesto (New Town):

I think the building with the impressive golden roof is the National Museum.

By the way, moi, before going out for the stroll making sure I am fully wrapped.

Not sure if this is the Negrelli Viaduct Bridge.

Tramline along the river.

Nove Mesto

View to the Old Town or Stare Mesto.

View to the Lesser Town or Mala Strana.

Travel Period: December 2008

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Dancing House in Prague

This is the Dancing House or Ginger & Fred (Tančící dům), the nickname of the Nationale Nederlanden Building in Prague.


Trivia: Did you know that the Nationale Nederlanden is an insurance company owned by ING Bank in the Netherlands?


This piece of modern architecture and nowadays a touristic attraction was built in the early 1990's and is located in Nove Mesto District which is the New Town part (downtown) of Prague. The building is also sometimes called as the Drunk Building.

Architects are: Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry

Travel Period: December 2008
Destination: Prague, Czech Republic

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Send more positive business vibes please! (plus fotos - vids during the party in Palazzo)

Coming back to reality after two self-indulgent excursions in a month and now facing the grim business climate in Europe is like waking up inside the cave full of shimmering silver and gold in the Ali Baba fable and getting struck with a huge falling rock, then getting amnesia, and realizing painfully that you have no idea how to get out of there. Sucks.

Well, I am not back to work yet, not until tomorrow Tuesday and I am pleased to report that I have successfully resisted the ‘easier said than done’ temptation to open my work emails today, which I am sure will pour over in the hundreds. It’s too tempting to work from home but I am reminding and persuading myself that I am still officially on holiday, and that I have many errands to run for the home, for myself and for the Dutchman who’s back at work today, and that I should, for once in my life at least this month for a day, stop being a corporate slave.

So it worked. I had all the errands done today except for my two boots that needed the soles repaired because in this darn country, many of the mom and pop shops do not open on a Monday! Goodness holy gracious, the retail sector has already been suffering in many countries but here in the Netherlands it seems the shops are stuck, glued to their ancient ways. Maybe they are crisis bullet proofed or they just don’t care at all?

In Palazzo during the company dinner party - the shots I have with me in them were all blurry! This is one of the better shots.

We’ve been watching CNN in Austria (no BBC in our chalet) continuously as it was the only English Channel and have been up to date with the crèche murders near Brussels, the historical Barack Obama inauguration, the stormy winds in Europe (many ski lifts were closed due to the winds in our ski resort) and the subject everyone feared, the bleak world economic forecast.

On the headlines today Monday, companies are cutting jobs like there is no tomorrow. ING, Philips, and Corus sent out a notice that they are laying off thousands of workers and many firms have reported sharp drops in profits, even my local car dealer has sent me a letter that they are closing all their outlets and pointing me to their head office for maintenance and repair which happens to be the only surviving outlet.

With the harrowing financial times we are now experiencing, there’s a timely musical that everyone can use for therapy. Mary Poppins, the twinkly-eyed ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ (ah, a childhood favorite!) nanny as described by BBC is the most apt musical – a tale of our times.


This is Ramana who levitates in the air! He was the intro act in Palazzo and he sat there in mid air for a whole half an hour. Very, very impressive indeed!

If you are aware of the story of this Disney musical, Mary Poppins’ employer, a certain Mr. Banks was suspended from his banking job, later summoned back and lauded by his superiors because he kept his integrity and did not fall into the deathly hands of high finance, in other words, sub-prime, shameful derivatives and get-rich-quick schemes like that of Maddoffs’.

Mary Poppins is currently playing in London so I quickly googled Mary Poppins in my Dutch browser and found that the Dutch version will soon come! Ooh exciting! They have been busy since December 2008 searching for the Mary Poppins role and it’s said that the musical will be held in the Circustheater in Scheveningen.

So, for a change from all this crisis uproar, I am so going to watch the developments of this musical, just like the Davos world economic forum, like an unwavering hawk.

My favorite act and my favorite girls! Check out the short video I took of them below this entry. They have all my praises, a marvelous act!

Back in November to December 2008, I wrote a few times in this blog about the imminent downturn and the higher sales target I will be taking on in 2009. Everyone in the ICT business is saying it’s going to be a bloodbath in 2009 and perhaps 2010 too. It’s going to take 3 years, maybe 5 years even? Moreover, being in sales at this point in time is already a difficult job. Accompanied with very high stress levels, selling and convincing customers and prospects to invest during economic hardships and mass layoffs will be a daunting challenge that must be conquered.

I, on the other hand am quite positive for 2009, and believe me, I am trying to shake myself as I write this. A colleague once described me as having the tenacity without losing sight on the details. Tenacity could mean many things and I don’t know what that is in her books, so I’d like to put it as drive. Times like this, we need DRIVE. Bring in the force!

So with the economic slump on our doorsteps, I see this more as an OPPORTUNITY, for greater things.


Anyway, you got to see these vids that I took in Palazzo (the 2-Michelin star restaurant and theater of Ron Blauw) last December during our company dinner. They are my favorite aerial acrobatic acts during the entire show:
..

This is the Kontorsion Act by ‘Three Style’ girls from Ukraine. They are my favorite! These girls have the force.

.

Next on my favorite list is another aerial acrobatic by Anastasiya Nasridinova, also from Ukraine. She has an amazingly flexible yet firm body!

Last but not the least, the Hand-to-Hand Act by the ‘Duo In Motion’ guys, also from Ukraine! Ukraine definitely rocks when it comes to aerial acrobatics, gymnastics, and figure skating.

I’m quite looking forward to the next weeks and months and see how the business will fair. When it comes to my gut feel, I always trust her as she never fails me.


Cheers to the business in 2009, and please do send more positive energy along my way. I need them ;-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just back from the Alps!

Hi, just back yesterday from the Alpine mountains after a looooooooooong drive from Austria and through Germany with uber crazy STAU near the borders and into Germany just before the highway split to Nuremburg and Regensburg. STAU is the Deutsch word meaning TRAFFIC JAM. In Dutch, the word is FILE, pronounced as fee-leh. Utrecht, Netherlands to Tirol, Austria and vice versa is about 11.5 hours car drive factoring in traffic, three stopovers and refueling at an everage speed of a safe and economical 120 KM/per hour.

What is quite interesting on the trip back were the herd of PL, CZ, and H luxurious cars causing heavy traffic. With the open borders now, the moneyed in the former communist East bloc have finally discovered Austria as a wintersport holiday destination. Come February and March, it’s the Dutch turn to clog the autobahns and annoy the Germans with their yellow plates, lol.

So, a week of winter ski vacation in the Alps... well, we got snowed in on the third day, the slopes were windy and misty on the fourth and there was almost no visibility while many ski lifts were closed. I sprained my neck by the way after a female skier and two male snowboarders, all on different occasions came crashing on me. I think it was the last snowboarder that hit me hard where I got my sprained neck. Thing is, they all hit me... I did not hit them :-(

Here are a few videos I took during our downward drive from Gerlos to the Ziller Valley (in Tirol province). Gerlos where we stayed is a small Alpine village in the Austrian Zillertaler Alps about 1300 meters above sea level.

...............


This is just right after passing Gmund in Gerlos going down to the Ziller Valley.

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This is halfway down to the Ziller Valley passing through Gerlossteinwand village.

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Passing through Hainzenberg village (I think) just before reaching Zell am Ziller village in the Ziller Valley.

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Passing through Zell am Ziller town in the Ziller Valley. We have been here 3 years ago where we stayed in nearby Aschau village but we always took the Zell am Ziller lift to the ski slopes.

Of course, more fotos, videos, and stories next!

Have a HUGE backlog of my travel entries since December and I still need to organize my fotos and videos but nothing I worry about as I like doing them during my spare time. Juggling (fulltime) work, home, and many other personal and domestic chores are not always an easy task but it always helps when you enjoy and look forward to your daily internet time at home ;-)

We did not miss the internet though in the Alps – there was internet in our chalet but it was secured and onsidering we brought our laptops, it was strange indeed that we did not even bothered to ask getting online.


Dutchman told me -- we are not hardcore internet slaves after all. Hmm, what a cool revelation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Prague Shopping and People Watching

A goal in this Prague visit is to shop for an evening dress.

In Stare Mesto, just beside the Old Town Square I discovered the shopping district with expensive signature stores, chicer than in PC Hooftstraat in Amsterdam, in ‘Parizska Street’. The main shopping street however that promises not to break your wallet is the ‘Na Prikope Street’.

The only challenge with shopping in non-Euro countries is the manual calculation of the prices. It’s quite intimidating to see four to five zero digits on the price tag but after a mental calculation which I am not always good at, I can heave a sigh of relief.

I got lucky, I found the dress I wanted. And it was the first dress I saw when I walked into this shop. The first dress I took off the hanging rack. Lucky indeed and I can now put off this task and continue to enjoy the city.

Main shopping street of Prague: Na Prikope

On Na Prikope Street there were shows featuring Czech Black Theater, and some roasted chestnuts as well.

Moi doing my fitting.

You need Czech money when you go shopping.

Later in the evening I lounged at a roadside outdoor terrace in the centre with heaters and lots of pillows! Very comfy indeed and gezellig =)

I ordered seafood (gambas) green salad with the local white cheese for dinner. The cheese was quite good so I asked the waiter what kind of cheese it was however he didn’t know its name but assured me that he will ask the chef. Well, he never came back? Bah.

This gambas and cheese salad was 4 stars out of 5.

Warm cosy ambience.

Anywho, I loved how I finished the day. Light dinner, lounging on the heated terrace and just watching the crowd pass by. Prague at night is beautiful and enchanting, and very busy as well.

Travel Period: December 2008

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Prague by Night

I did an evening stroll in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské Náměstí). The glittering Christmas lights are lovely and the dramatic backdrop of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn is an enchanting sight to behold.

The beautiful sight before me made me remember of my encounter with a Filipina businesswoman on the plane. This was years ago and I have mentioned her previously in this blog. Her husband just recently died, and she end destination is Prague. She and her husband have traveled the Eastern bloc during his healthy years, unfortunately missing out Prague in the list. She said that her husband has always told her that they need to go to Prague. So with her husband gone, she feels the responsibility of realizing his final travel wish: A visit to Prague.

She showed me his picture in her wallet. She said that she made sure she brought his picture along so she can feel he is with her. She is therefore not alone.

Anyway, here is Prague by Night:


Travel Period: December 2008

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