friday findings i

In the corner of findings, here are a couple of interesting things for this week:

Dining at Fäviken restaurant looks like an amazing Nordic experience in which I would love to indulge in the new year. True that during the winter months they get maybe 6 hours of daylight – but their offerings look and sound marvelous.

My friends know I am a fan of cabin porn (very much SFW link, don’t worry). Here is another prime piece of real estate I wish I could have. And I wouldn’t mind the plane either.

And in other news, I am starting German classes here next week. Dieses Blog schreibe ich bald auf deutsch. … JK – just kidding.


image © Liz West (CC BY 2.0 / cropped from original)

fish soup

should be the title of a forum for people who are adverse to the taste and smell of fish. They could all come together on this forum to express themselves and their views on any particular subject. The link between all participants is not liking fish.

I think this is a marvelous idea I have just come up with. Now, who do I sell this to? I am thinking Kim Son Limited. I will get the ball rolling by sending them a quick email with my idea.

Stay tuned, this could be interesting.


cinque terre II



Here are more shots of the Cinques taken by two slighty more cautious tourists. Come hail storm or water, we will all be back to celebrate you, Cinque Terre. I will be sure to bring a bathing suit next time, though…

Courtesy of Derek and Les – thank you for sharing!

cinque terre


The place where I almost died.

I was travelling at the time through Italy with my dear close friend Oksana. We rented a car and drove to the most amazing places throughout Italy. Our trip started with two nights in Rome then we took the train to Florence where we picked up our car and we were anxious to start towards the heart of Tuscany, which was our home for about a week. The best part of Tuscany is the number of places within a short drive: Fiesole, Siena, Florence, Grave de Chianti and the famous Cinque Terre – we visited all these places in our little red car.

As a grandiose sweeping generalization, Italy is a lush country deeply entrenched in history, beaming with love and lots of secrets waiting to be unleashed. If one could have a love affair with a country, Italy would be my choice.


After a long but beautiful drive that took us past the Tower of Pisa (which we waved at from our car) and up the coast, we started to see signs to Cinque Terre. It was raining that day and driving through the winding roads up to the first of four beautiful towns of the Cinques, it seemed like with every winding road the turns got steeper and steeper as we climbed up the mountain.

The tension in the car could cut a lion’s throat. We were both super nervous of the driving conditions and wanted to get there, park the car and simply take in all the beauty. After about 45 minutes of this circumflexed-like type of driving we finally a r r i v e d! We parked the car and started to walk down a steep hill towards the water. The water was rough that day and the waves were capable of swallowing anything that might cross their path. There was a rock walkway tucked alongside the mountain, which people could walk on to get to a secluded mini beach. So we decided to embark on this walk to explore and photograph all the offerings of this place.

I walked quickly along, losing my friend in anticipation of seeing this mystery hidden beach. In front of me was a sharp corner with very narrow steps which you climb up and then down and you are there. I could see the beach from the first step I took climbing up, and as I turned to my right I saw a wave the size of six whales coming directly at me. I had about 4 seconds to decide what I would do. I knew I couldn’t turn back and run because there was not enough time and I knew I couldn’t keep going forward because I would basically have had to hold onto this rope-like mechanism that was now covered in algae.

In that moment I quickly made peace with the Man above, and held on for dear life to a rusted metal hand rail stuck to the side of a rock attached to the mountain, closed my eyes and there it was. The huge wave showered me with the good old cold salted sea water and pushed me along this little cove not very far from where I was. When the wave retracted itself I jumped out and ran out. I weighed about 200 pounds with my clothes and shoes completely drenched. I looked like a mermaid to everyone and they were all shocked to find out that I survived that huge wave.

I needed dry clothes and stiff drink immediately after the affair. So after a 10 minute hug from my dear friend whom I was happy to see again, we were off in pursuit of clothes first. We found this tiny shop specializing in bathing suits, but I found a purple cotton dress down to my ankles, which I changed into. I still have the dress and it holds great memories of the day that Adelina almost didn’t make it.

Then we were quickly off to find a drink and a meal. The drink felt incredibly satisfying as it went through me settling my fast palpitations and all my anxiety. I think we all learned something that day. I learned the power of an angry sea. My friend came out grown more fond of me. And all others “learned” that I am an incredible swimmer – they all thought I went for a swim – LOL.


I am an art enthusiast. Unfortunately, I am not connected at all with the art world here in Köln and I would like to be.

Does anybody here in Köln have any ideas of galleries or certain clubs you can be part of that promote local artists?

I’ve been to Wallraf-Richartz Museum (for those in the know, their current Renaissance exhibit does not quite compare to the one at AGO last summer), and Museum Ludwig is on my bucket list – but anything else?

I would love to be more involved in the art scene here…

P.S.: Can anyone identify where this was taken?

P.S.: Can anyone identify where this was taken?


of movies I would recommend people check out:

Pina by Wim Wenders

It came highly recommended by a dear friend of mine and i must say he was dead on with this.

The Sacrifice by Andrei Tarkovsky

A poetic film about the sadness and torture of our human condition – a must see!

Fantastic Mr Fox by Wes Anderson

“Why the cuss didn’t I listen to my lawyer?”

Alone in the Wilderness by Dick Proenneke

I can watch this all day every day. It puts me in a settling state of mind all the time.


All the classics, naturally, by Hitchcock and Woody Allen I am sure are already on most people’s radar.

I’ve had this conversation with myself a million times and I think it all boils down to this. When I watch a movie: I like to be moved and mentally surprised – and sometimes a movie can unveil a sadness that lives somewhere within me.

At the end of the day we all want to be moved and challenged – call it human nature.

Feel free to share something that moves or inspires you…


Every Sunday deserves a picture indicative of how one feels on that particular Sunday. Here is a picture representing my Sunday gestimilations*.


*gestimilation: an act of inspiration that exhibits traces of pondering and excitement both combined to create a feeling of natural reassurance. Yes, I made that up.

concrete hotel


Architecturally speaking I have always been fascinated how an architect can create an aesthetically pleasing structure and at the same time integrate it into its surroundings, be it a forest, the alps, the countryside, and so on.  My second fascination comes from understanding what certain materials do and feel like.  For instance, I had a deeply rooted preconceived notion that using lots concrete inside of a dwelling would always create a feeling of detachment and coldness. A recent visit to Luxembourg proved me wrong.

concrete carpet

Deep in the winery hills of Luxembourg lives Hotel Ecluse, a recently renovated hotel with its main focus on high glass windows and exposed concrete walls held up by massive wooden pillars.  I was surprised and delighted to see the mixture of all these materials giving off an aura of repose. I will also note the architect achieved a high level of integration – the hotel looks well integrated into its hilly, green grass and river surroundings.

The decor of the hotel played a key part in giving off a warm cozy feeling to this place. With earthy tones being used throughout the hotel and mossy green carpets alongside tastefully splashed of colours found on pillows, blankets, and chairs it’s no wonder I have been converted. The concrete in this hotel holds the structure up in a way that makes you feel protected from your surroundings and the high glass windows allows you to let your mind wander while you look out. All the individual rooms have wooden floors and doors giving off a secluded cabin feel.  I touched the concrete wall in the room and it felt nice and warm.

You can also dine at their in house restaurant which is full of seasonal surprises.  They prepare a mean escargot a la French style.

Between the perfection of the architecture, an earthy peppery Pinot and a super comfortable bed I can say the renovations have all paid off, in my opinion!

images © Paul Ott / Hotel Ecluse

good old times

I love walking. Walking helps things settle in my mind and forces me to take deep breaths.

When I lived in Toronto I could often be found walking around Ward’s Island. It’s a short ferry ride from the hustle and bustle of the city. As soon as I would board the ferry I couldn’t wait to step off it and see nature, small houses and the lake. I thought of it as mini weekend vacation.


My routine was quite simple. I would get up on Saturday mornings and walk down from Bay and College to the ferry. Hop on the ferry and 15mins later I would be on Ward‘s Island. I would always stop at the Island Cafe for a refreshing bite and summer beverage. After it’s off to the beach I went to read a book. Contemplating my place in the world is always a lot easier next to a body of water and in nature.  Then, I would walk around the island and head back home in the dusk.

I have been known to throw picnics and motivate as many people as I could to join in my island fun. I reminisce as I write this post all the good times that were had on those beaches.

You simply have to visit Ward’s Island when you are in Toronto!

11.11 @ 11:11am

I toyed around with the idea of not writing about the most obvious topic occurring on November 11 of every year at 11:11am here in Köln. Then it dawned on me that in fact I should write about it only to highlight a key difference between Köln and North America regarding the date of November 11.

In North America, since the end of World War I, we celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11 of every year to remember the soldiers who dedicated their lives to fight for our country. It’s a day of grieving, mourning and remembering lives that were lost of brave people out on the battlefields. I have always felt rather close to Remembrance Day because it’s my way of showing gratitude for the sacrifices that were made in order for me to live in a peaceful country.  Thank you!


On the other side of the globe, however, the atmosphere is quite different. Here in Köln on November 11 @ 11:11am, crowds of what once appeared to be proper Germans lose their properness and enjoy a day of marching in the streets dressed in all kinds of costumes, drinking and dancing! It is really quite a sight. I embraced the crowds at 11:20am and already an ambulance was busily shifting through the crowds to get somewhere, presumably a case of partying too hard. I would say everyone puts a serious effort into their costumes and beads. Yes, a bit like Mardi Gras except no floats from what I saw (but I am told we’ll have those in due time). The city of Köln, at the start of “Karneval”, becomes an outdoor club for people dressed in costumes. So Germans do have a sense of humour – one just needs to be at the right place at the right time.

November 11 has a different significance here. Kölnians have a unique way of showing their cultural patriotism.  Kölle Alaaf and Prost!