To June Fest in Newbridge

June Fest
June Fest starts June 1 until June 24 in Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Although festivals have not come across my mind for the last couple of years (I dislike trashed places, non-flush toilets, tents) I am really looking forward to June Fest in Newbridge. Partly, because it will be my first festival attendance in Ireland after Electric Picnic in 2011 (total awesomeness at Arcade Fire!), partly, because I am looking forward to the folky-indie line up presented. Also, fancying a day off in the country? Take the train or go by car, it’s just outside Dublin…

It’s about music, arts, literature, history and all of us participating!

I’d love to meet some of you at the festival launch, June 1 with Kildare Art Collective Art Trail, music in the park (hopefully only a few raindrops) and an indoor gig of Vagabonds & Thieves.

What I am actually really looking forward to is the launch of two exhibitions at the Riverbank Arts Centre:

Home Is Where The Art Is

I always liked the saying Home is where the heart is because it is so true. Usually you’d only need some people around you who you trust and like and it feels like home. Or in case of this exhibition, you only need some great art surrounding you to be home.

Youth groups have been invited to work with visual artists and created pieces which will be shown at the Children’s Gallery. I am so delighted to see this reach out program for children and youth taking place publicly.

Riverbank Arts Centre, June 7-28

M7 – Michael Holly 

I have learned early in my various holidays, vacations and long-term stays in Ireland, that the M7 (Motorway 7) has been and still is a relevant road from Dublin towards the South (Kilkenny, Waterford, Cork) / West (Limerick). Motorways to me are places in-between. You don’t really belong there, you want to go somewhere, you just cross it to get to the junction to take off. But there are people living at, closely and working at motorways. The travelers are their customers.

Michael Holly documents the M7 with an artistic view. He walks, talks and exchanges stories with people living at the motorway as well as taping his journey.

Riverbank Arts Centre, June 9-29, artist talk on June 23

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June 16 – a night full of music

This might be the highlight of June Fest. Why? Because Super Extra Bonus Party are the first local bands I have listened to in 2008. I attended several gigs, watched their videos and really liked what they are doing musically. And now, they are bringing their friends: Ships, Share and The Comstocks are performing as well.

How’s that, June?

Oh, on top of all this, there will be family fun, markets and so much more going on. I am also really interested in how the knitting bombs are going …

For further information and details lined up, just visit the June Fest website or their facebook page.

 

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With Your Body

Traveling can be really exhausting. Hours on planes, busses or in cars means putting yourself into a very still position: sitting. I have chosen to cycle and to walk for most of my journeys. But you need some distraction from what you have been doing the whole day.

Yoga

Yoga means ‘union’ or ‘connection’. In Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ is used to signify any form of connection. Yoga is both a state of connection and a body of techniques that allow us to connect to anything. (Science of Awakening Self-Awareness)

I have learned that not only stretching but the combination with breathing helps me to relax and regenerate.

Adriene has told me some great moves around traveling and how you get yourself open and stretched, strengthened and healthily flexible. In her 2018 20-minute yoga dip-in, she talks about traveling:

 

Running

 

Exploring a new area or town where you have traveled to through taking a run is mostly enriching. Usually, I decide to step outdoors early in the morning to indulge the first sun rays. Also, I like empty streets, morning groans and waste collection services strolling through last nights parties. I think the colors are different. Running relaxes my mind and I can make plans for the day: where will I go? Who will I meet? What will I wear today? Running is basic and simple.

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Explore Dublin in your running shoes. © Runtastic, Lucie Täubler, 2017

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I have had two major experiences which told me that my body is most valuable. I really need to feel comfortable and healthy while traveling. Firstly, I remember last summer’s road trip to Albania, which I absolutely loved to bits. I might have had some bad food, drank some tap water or there was a virus concerning digestion in our hiking crew. I will always remember how miserable I felt spending hours over hours in a car, wishing for a toilet. Any toilet. Secondly, it was not long ago, when I went to walk Caminho Portuguese and suddenly felt my achilles tendon swelling up for no reason but overwork.

Never forget, you need your whole body (including a healthy mind!) for traveling.

Have you had similar experiences on the road? Please share them with me.

At Caminho Portuguese

I have learned from several films about St. James way in Portugal or Spain or even in France (Saint-Jacques … La Mecque or Ich bin dann mal weg) that the Pilgrims’ hostels/auberges are crap. I am sorry. I know you should clear out, push yourself to a limit and sleep with 40 other people in a room. Maybe to connect or to share your stories. No.

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Following the yellow arrow through Northern Portugal leads you through small villages and happy greetings of the Portuguese people.

As I already told you, my mam and I were planning to walk parts of the Caminho Portuguese because it is supposed to be beautiful, mind-blowing and extraordinary. Well, it is! We did it and picked those lovely quintas, run by wonderful and charming people. Spend more than just one night there, take a weekend trip to the Portuguese country, just outside Porto. If you choose to take a car it’s simply 30 minutes from Porto, you can also rely on bus- and train service.

Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the greatness of life.

Quinta da Cancela in Balugães

You arrive at Jorge Pedro Reis and Graça Viana Reis’ casas and feel like home immediately. After a long day of walking I arrived, sweaty and hot with swollen feet and exhausted legs, at Jorge’s quinta which seems to be heaven on earth. Orange trees blossom and have fruit at the same time, cold spring water collected in a fountain where I could cool my feet. Places to sit down and chill out, relax: everywhere. Architecturally, the old quinta has been refurbished and reinstalled, but got also some new adaptions. You have the option to stay in one of the three casas (Eira, Quinta or Lagar).

 

From Balugães you can easily take two or three day hikes to explore the countryside or simply stay in and read. You can even enjoy the seaside, the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean is right around the corner; it showed itself tender and nice as well this time. Also, book yourself a dinner for just 30 Euros and enjoy Portugal’s culinary to the fullest:

Contact

Jorge Pedro Reis
Rua Cândido Batista de Sousa, 275
4905-031 Balugães
+351 964 075 700
geral@quintacancela.pt

Antonio’s Quinta São Miguel de Arcos

Reaching Antonio José Rodrigues’ wonderful quinta in Arcos is a pleasure. For your feet and your heart. The very small town lies in-between seaside (Vila do Conde) and countryside (Barcelos). It felt like traveling back in time. I opened the huge wooden door and wandered through stone houses, bright alleys and extraordinary gardens. Staying in one of the apartment rooms with kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom, you have total privacy. But I even had the pool to myself (yes, the pool!). Unfortunately, late April after a season of just rain it was too early to go for a swim, at least for me. But May should be fine to enjoy the pool.

Stay here as long as you want. You can drive, walk, bike or whichever vehicle you choose to Barcelos, the closest town and enjoy the heaps of Portuguese wine. Vinho Verde is the wine region called and also its wines Northwest of Porto. I was offered to enjoy the “green wine” most of the time. António makes his own wine, just for fun and for friends.

If you are busy getting married, the Rodrigues’ place is your choice of heart. They own a beautiful wedding parlor, with gardens connected and serve amazing food. Plus: you can stay right there after ceremony and party.

Contact

António José Rodrigues
Rua da Igreja, 209 Arcos 4480-018 Vila do Conde
+351 919 372 202
ajr@quintasaomiguel.com

Pictures of my Caminho Portuguese adventure:

Caminho Portuguese 2018

Sustainable Glamping with Style in Carinthia

I really do not like the word ‚Glamping‘ which is a combination of Glamour and Camping. Why don’t I like it? You might ask yourself, and still it’s in the title. Well, I had the chance to travel with Austrian Umweltzeichen (find out more about Umweltzeichen here) to three different camping destinations – without a tent. The camping fans around here might shout out loud, Then that’s not camping at all!

I agree. But still, I had the advantages of camping – being within a natural surrounding, close to a river, a little aside of the next village and: in peace.

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So where is that, this peaceful camping I am talking about? I found it in three camp grounds in Carinthia, the southern parts of Austria.

Alpencamp Kötschach-Mauthen 

#umweltzeichen Tag 2

The more Sepps, the better

Again? Another Sepp?, I thought to myself when I met Sepp Kolbitsch, the dynamic founder of Alpencamp in Kötschach-Mauthen. He is the second one within the last 24 hours. The last Sepp I have met was rather far away – speaking of Austrian distances – and was called Brandstätter, producing Gailtaler White Mais. This Sepp really made me dizzy after a few minutes. He is passionate of what he does here in Kötschach-Mauthen. He talks about the development of Alpencamp, his research with TU Vienna, his ideas and of course his plan for me in the next couple of days.

I will show you our general heating which is easily accessible for visitors. I know, it will be extremely technical but I want to let you know how we use our resources. – Sepp is starting of with some basics about his research project around the camp ground which can be looked up online. The heating is close to the main building and is able to learn. It is in charge of warm water which means it saves the heat and even stores it, to pull it off when a lot of camping guests want to shower at the same time (in different showers…). It amazes me how sustainable a camp ground can be.

We try to save water everywhere, we know how precious it is. We invested in sustainable shower heads. Instead of 20 liters per second, we cover only 4 liters per second, which is a huge difference… – Is that a problem if you want to wash your hair,… like long hair? – Not really, is the quick and true answer. The amount of water and pressure are perfect.

The food

Go to Valentinalm! It was total delisih to try their Kärntner Kasnudeln (Carinthian special pasta filled with cheese and covered in buttery chives)

Be active

After spending the morning at the camp house (made out of wood) take a run at the stream Gail which passes by. Or give the e-mountain bike a try.

Also, the amazing hiking paths around Kötschach-Mauthen are worth a try. Sepp number 3 turns out to be Sepp Lederer, who takes me to Plöckenpass to the Italian border. Mauthen, one part of the double village, is a Hiking Village (Bergsteigerdörfer) and Sepp is the main guy to ask about hiking paths, stories around hiking and flora around here. He has written several botanical books… so if you are there, try to find him!

Camping Rosental-Roz

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Quantastic!

Just a few kilometers from Gailtal into Rosental at the Slovenian border you find Gotschuchen. The wonderful camp ground is at a small lake. And here, there is it: peace! Katharina Kupper-Wernig and her team are full of energy and good vibes – they might not even stress out in peak season. Funny as it is, I am meeting the first guest who arrived at the camp ground 40 years ago. He was purely equipped for rain when he came here – and it was pouring rain for days – and he found shelter here. So I am glad, Camping Rosental-Roz is also made for non-camping experts.

Are you interested in quantum physics? I have found out that next to the main house Katharina’s husband Samo – himself researcher and professor for quantum physics – build EXPI (House full of experiments). It is a huge try out laboratory for children and adults. You may be working with the CERN or how acceleration of gravity works out…

Camping Rosental-Roz is due to its owners always space to be researched to be more sustainable.

The food

No one can beat Katharina’s breakfast. More! More? More! And of course she uses local products from the village our close by. The marvelous honey is produced by Michael Mlecnik who lives just around the corner.

Be active

Just walk to Radsberg, which is located North to river Drau. Apart from hiking you can also try paragliding.

But again, running is a very simple task next to a river. In Gotschuchen and around the small village there are several trail-running paths.

 

Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler

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Mystical mysterious Lake Millstatt

Finally it is raining and the drive to Lake Millstatt shows how mysterious Carinthia can get. At Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler I meet Georg Mössler who owns the campsite in Döbriach. Again, he is like Sepp and Katharina innovative and takes a lot time to research into new ways to save energy and water. There is enough space for families to hang out and play, to young or old couples to spend their holidays or to camping newbies to try out the mobile homes. I love the pool (Hello, Clamping!) and my little walks through the rain to the lake. On the way you pass several trees which refer to Celtic times. I imagine myself sitting there and relax. Or even meditate. Do yoga.

Döbriach offers a lot of options to spend rainy afternoons in the museum – like Sagamundo or just have a coffee and relax at the terrace.

The food

After a few hours on the mountain bike (with out e-) I am always really hungry. Charly’s See Lounge directly at the water is like beach but without the sea. Have a salad! It’s absolutely delicious! Oh and of course there is also beer. Uli Bacher, beer lover and brewer, opened a brewery not long ago: Shilling.

Be active

You can do so much here! One of my highlights was Gottlieb Strobl’s rowboat trip from one end to the other. I have never rowed before and was pretty messed up after a little go… but see yourself…

And as I already said, biking is huge here. You can go round the lake in just one day, 39k, up and down, sometimes with a great view onto the lake, sometimes in the forest.

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I am so happy I made my way down to the southern parts of Austria to meet three wonderful Sepps, Katharina, Georg and their families who understand how to innovate their camp sides and to make glamping great again. 😉

Find more pictures here.

*Thanks to Umweltzeichen for organizing this trip and for my travel partners Elena, Sabine and Tom and Angelika. 

Canada, where bears and blueberry muffins will find you

Or is it just a wonderful road trip I want to share with you? When I was abroad in the Eastern parts of Canada, I decided to take a car, instead of choosing car sharing or public transport, which is usually the case. I had two weeks only. Not really sustainable. But that is a working girl’s life: travel time reduction.

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Five things which I really remember and look back to with amazement:

(1) First Thursdays at AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) in Toronto

Even though Canada was treating me well with warm-ish, almost summery days in early October, I dragged myself into AGO. No, seriously, I am an art lover, so I really wanted to hit Frank Gehry’s architectonical feature. The building is all about wood and glass, dominating its interieur. The gallery possesses a renowed collection and exhibits objects within thematical complexities, for example Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, about Torontians and their Canadian heritage, First Nations and Indigenous art.

(2) Taking out the kayaks to explore Kawartha Lakes

Although I did not really take a picture of myself kayaking, because I was too scared to even hold a camera then: This is a picture of one of the beautiful lakes in and around Kawartha. I took the kayak with friends on Chemong Lake close to Ennismore. Couchsurfing at a family’s home gave me an intimate view to an extraordinary lifestyle in the country.

Just our silhouettes. Foto: Judith Mehofer
Just our silhouettes. Foto: Judith Mehofer

(3) Coffee break in Balzac’s in Kingston

Still celebrating the Blue Jay’s winning game, I went further South hitting Lake Ontario in Kingston. At Balzac’s Coffee House I ordered heavy peanut butter brownies and ginger lemonade with pumpkin spice. Enjoyed it.

Balzac is a franchise coffee house. Look up on their website where to hit their products.

This is not in Balzac's but at a wonderful breakfast-brunch place in Montreal. Photo: Judith Mehofer
This is not in Balzac’s but at a wonderful breakfast-brunch place in Montreal. Photo: Judith Mehofer

(4) Early bird hike to the peak of Mont Tremblant

I do not recommend to go to Mont Tremblant and its surrounding villages. But I still loved it there in the early mornings. Being a skiing destination for Canadians and skiing/hiking tourists, Mont Tremblant looks like a utopian ressort. Staying at Hi Hostel Mont Tremblant, which was by far the most expensive hostel in Canada, an early morning hike is really what you should aim for. Still dark, I sneaked off to the starting point of several routes, like the green and easy one or the Grand Brûlé. If you are at the peak early enough, you could meet up with the technicians to have some breakfast (blueberry muffin and hot, freshly brewed coffee).

I passed you with my truck when you hiked up. Good job! I have some coffee for you, and I am happy to share my breakfast with you.

After a selfie with my favourite technician, I indulged the views of colourful forrests. Oh, and although I was really scared about meeting up with a bear, I made it – try to be an early bird! 

Selfie with the generous coffee and blueberry muffin share. Foto: Judith Mehofer
Selfie with the generous coffee and blueberry muffin share. Foto: Judith Mehofer

(5) Picnic right next to Quebec City’s Farmer’s Market, Vieux Port

Arriving in Quebec feels like arriving at a European harbour town. It is small town life. Try to get everything you need for your breakfast at the local farmers market. In autumn they sell a broad variety of pumpkin, several different varieties of apples (I even tried a McIntosh) and of course other good products, produced locally. For Austrian goulash I bought hokkaido pumpkin and some Hungarian paprika, which is an essential. Couchsurfing was happening again, so I had the idea to cook something European, Austrian-Hungarian, which is some fancy goulash.

But, for the real deal-breakfast at the harbour, I bought some amazing goat’s cheese, cream cheese with freshly picked autumn strawberries and cranberries as well as some sour apples – still dreaming about this morning. Additionally, I got some poppy seeds baguette. Thank you, for this wonderful experience.

 

Transport between Toronto and Quebec City

If you want to take public transport or share a ride, it is easily possible!

  • From Montréal to Quebec I took KangaRide, a very reliable (and supervised) ridesharing and carpooling company.
  • Greyhound and several other bus companies are offering their service from one city to another.
  • Trains are really expensive but if you get the chance to take the pittoresque train, do it. But take your time!