Quotable Rupert Graves

Rupert Graves and Helena Bonham Carter at the Room with a View premiere

1985: If only we could see what colors these shirts were!

It’s a few years old now, but this Daily Mail profile of Rupert Graves is wonderful. He’s open about quite a few things, but my absolute favorite quote is right here (bolding from me):

One night I was walking the dog and I just fell in love with the idea of life. It was one of those soppy but elemental things when you look at a tree and the sky, and you think, “This is brilliant.” Oh, there was one other thing,’ he adds. ‘I was dancing under a tree at the time – a beautiful horse chestnut with wide branches. I’ve never had depression since.” 

Vienna to Bratislava – by hydrofoil

Twin City Liner - Leaving Vienna

Leaving Vienna on the Twin City Liner, en route to Bratislava.

I’ve talked about what happened once I arrived in Bratislava, but now it’s time to share how I actually got there.

As it happens, this is another coworker recommendation–what can I say, I work with knowledgeable people! Back in January, when I was telling the world about my upcoming trip to Vienna, a well-traveled colleague mentioned he’d taken a hydrofoil along the Danube from there to Bratislava, and the experience was “really nice.”

This would end up being the activity I planned the entire trip’s schedule around, since the Twin City Liner hydrofoil opens each year in mid-April. (And let it be noted the planning took several emails back and forth with Twin City Liner, since their website’s booking setup didn’t totally work. But when you do email they are extremely friendly and accommodating!)

It turns out my coworker was indeed right–the 1 hour, 15-minute boat ride along the Danube did have a special feel to it. After running around Vienna for several days, what a relief it was to just sit back and contemplate the river.

First, the beginning: the Vienna Twin City Liner station (it took me forever to find this place!).

Twin City Liner - Vienna station

The Twin City Liner Vienna station. (Abgang Marienbrücke, Schwedenplatz, 1010 Wien, Austria.)

Before long, we were immersed in lovely Danube scenery. (You might notice most of my pictures are from the front of the boat; the first-row upgrade was without a doubt worth it.)

Scenery on the Danube River

The Danube River in its natural grandeur.

Here’s the boat’s interior:

Twin City Liner interior

What the Twin City Looks like from the last row. (There’s also a small deck on the back.)

Passing the Devin Castle ruins was one of the trip’s highlights:

Devin Castle ruins

The Devin Castle ruins, with my first of many dilapidated Slovakian buildings.

Not long after that, Bratislava came into sight, with its recognizable Bratislava Castle:

Bratislava from the Danube

Bratislava in the distance, from the Danube River.

As we approached Bratislava, it did dawn on me that I was finally about to go behind the once-“Iron Curtain” for the first time. So, here we go…

Bratislava Twin City Liner station

Bratislava’s waterfront, including its Soviet-style Twin City Liner station. (Fajnorovo Nabrezie 2, Bratislava 811 02, Slovakia [Staré Mesto].)

And one last look, before I ventured into unknown, historically rich territory:

Twin City Liner hydrofoil

One last farewell (or, in Slovak, “Dovidenia”).

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions

Good with salads, toast, quinoa, and almost any other food you can name.

I’m not the biggest planner-ahead of meals, but a coworker-friend recently clued me into a wonderful work-week staple: caramelized onions.

You spend 90ish minutes stirring 3-4 onions with butter (between tending to some other task like a book, movie, podcast, etc.), and then have these sweet, luscious, flavor-packed morsels that go with just about anything. Also, they last for 1-2 weeks and can easily be frozen for later.

This basic recipe from The Kitchn gave me the right amount of guidance–that said, as long as you don’t burn them, you’ll be set.


They Came Together

This movie received a not-so-spectacular 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I adored it. To get a sense of what it’s like, definitely skip the trailer and just watch sample scenes like the one above.

And there is a silver lining to these poor reviews: You can rent it on Amazon for only 99 cents! Do it.

Josie Maran & Argan Oil

Josie Maran (picture from Redbook magazine)

Picture from Redbook magazine.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Into the Gloss… whether by tackling at-home manicures or Muppet coats, they hit just the right amount of substance for a beauty website. Their recent interview with model Josie Maran (who owns her own skincare line, and used to be the face of Maybelline), though, full-on impressed and delighted me. As you’ll read below, Josie brought some refreshing wisdom to the table.

1. On her house in Pennsylvania:

I used to fly out here from LA, but when I was pregnant and I couldn’t fly anymore we decided to get a place. We found this—it’s 300 acres—and I had my baby under one of the trees. It was awesome. I had my Jambox and good music going. My neighbors, my whole family, and some good friends just came and sat around—we listened to yoga music and had a baby for four hours.

2. On aging:

We don’t ever saying ‘anti-aging,’ because why would you be ‘anti’ anything that’s a natural part of life? And metaphysically, being ‘anti’ something actually creates that thing that you don’t want. Tip number one—stay positive.

3. Oils are magic:

The only thing that’ll hydrate my skin is argan oil. I love oils—they make the skin so juicy and dewy. Add oil and confidence and you’re like the hottest girl in the world. I discovered it when I was in France for a job—there was this woman who was 70 but she looked 40, so I asked her what her secret was. All she used was argan oil, so I had to try.

4. The minimalist’s approach to hair care:

Less is more, so I wash it once a week. Sometimes I clean my hair in the pond, but I always feel like that makes it too clean and like I need more dragon fly dust back in my hair.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt is best known for being home to the world’s first (known) salt mine.

In addition to its castles and cake, Austria endeared itself to me still more when I discovered the tiny lakeside village of Hallstatt. Set in Austria’s lake district (Salzkammergut), Hallstatt is one of the tamer UNESCO World Heritage sites I’ve visited, offering stunning views of the Alps and a general sense of serenity.

When planning out the trip’s itinerary, it took me a while to decide what order to visit all these places (Fly into Vienna, or leave it as a grand finale?). But by the end, I was relieved to have visited the grandeur of Vienna first, and left the last few days of my trip for soaking up these more natural wonders.

Owing to its millennia of salt mining, Hallstatt is an archaeologist’s dream–people have lived here for 7,000+ years, and it serves as namesake for the Celtic Hallstatt culture (approx. 800-400 BC). Hefty cultural significance aside, it’s still just a fun place to walk around. (Taking a Bob’s Tour, which I’d highly recommend, my fellow tourists and I had a couple hours to take in the town and its lake.)

Believe it or not, there’s a full recreation of Hallstatt in China, built by the Chinese company Minmetals for $960 million. Something makes me doubt the Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel can quite be replicated, though.


Evangelical Church of Hallstatt and ferry

Hallstatt’s Evangelical church (built in 1785) and the ferry we took across the lake.

Hallstatt mountains

For those with a few hours, take the salt-mine funicular up to the Hallstatt upper valley, offering panoramic views of the area.

Hallstatt Cemetery

Hallstatt’s well-known cemetery, where a grave can be re-occupied every 10 years.

 Hallstätter See

Hallstätter See, taken from the ferry that crosses the lake.

Mondsee Abbey

Mondsee Abbey, where the Sound of Music’s wedding scene was filmed. (We stopped here later in the tour.)