Sunday 23rd April 2017

Joshua Tree

I recently did the most incredible road trip in California with my husband. The variation of landscapes as well as architecture, sights and activities kept us up until late and made sure we were up early. Beautiful hotels, amazing restaurants, landscapes, architecture – and its always BRIGHT BLUE skies!

The part of the trip that I wanted to share with you all is Joshua Tree. Firstly, we stayed in a beautiful hotel in Palm Springs called The Parker. The hotel was designed by Jonathan Adler, and I have to admit I was not previously a huge fan of his but this hotel swayed my opinion. There were so many details that were beautiful and fun! I’ve shared a few of them with you below, a personal favorite was the poolside bar – which in the afternoon sprays mist; which amongst the palm tress and all the yellow & white stripes just looks so dreamy. It feels like the perfect setting for a movie set in the 1970s. Whilst we were there as beautiful as the hotel was, we spent a huge amount of time in the desert. Empty roads. Something just so peaceful yet terrifying about it. (I just kept praying that our car would not break down, as neither of us had working phones! It would have made a good story though).

Our first little excursion was for a ‘sound bath’ at The Integraton. The drive there was beautiful – it is north of Joshua Tree National park and in quite an incredible setting, once you arrive you are not disappointed – I loved the building! It took 18 years to build, and the structure does not have one piece of metal in it! ’Its creator, George Van Tassel (1920-1978), claimed that the structure is based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials. This one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome was designed to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.’  I am almost tempted not to share too much about the sound bath, as I had no expectations or knowledge about what a sound bath was before I entered and it somehow made the experience so much more unusual. If your in the neighborhood – do it! If your not, imagine a room where everything is about sound, and somehow this translates into a physical as well as emotional sensation.. However, the sad news is I didn’t time travel (if I did I don’t remember it, haha).

We also spent a good amount of our time in Joshua Tree National Park. Although I must admit I did spend most of our hikes looking at my feet as I was terrified after having heard horror stories about all the snakes, at the hotel bar the night before. It was nonetheless beautiful. I had always thought I was more inclined towards tropical settings – I love greenery and in my eyes there can never have enough plants! But Joshua Park has turned me.

Finally we had tacos at the Crossroads Cafe, which was actually at a cross road – I mean you can’t make this stuff up, everything is just so iconic. And then went to a ‘yard sale’ in the middle of the desert- where obviously we bought things that were a huge inconvenice to bring home, and now have no idea what we were thinking! Inspite of our unneeded purchases, which will serve well as random souvenirs, Joshua Tree was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

 

Salvation Mountain

For those of you that know me, once I get something into my head it is stuck there. I call it determination, others may call it stubborness. I had seen this photograph of Salvation Mountain some time ago, and when we were planning our trip around California there was no negotiating, we had to find a way to stop there. In all honesty I didn’t know very much about it and was under the impression that it was quite close to Joshua Tree – it is not. It is at the base of Salton Sea – which is a lake in the middle of the Colarado desert – surrounded by as far as we could see close to nothing, in other words it is in the middle of nowhere! Ha, I think it might even be closer to Phoenix than Los Angeles (I’m just kidding) but its close enough to the Mexican border that we had to go through border control when we drove back. Thank god I had my Austrian passport, I worry my Colombian passport may have caused us some problems.

When you arrive at the site, you are overwhelmed - it is profoundly strange yet so joyful and vibrant. There are so many colors next to a flat and arid landscape – its incredibe! My first thought when I arrived was what a perfect spot for a fashion shoot – it has appeared in a couple of films and music videos, understandably, it does make a dramatic setting.

Salvation Mountain was created by Leonard Knight, and is made from adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint. Knight was working as a guitar teacher, and in 1967 he went to visit his sister who was living in San Diego. It was one Wednesday whilst he was there, at 10.30 in the morning in his van all by himself (aged 35) that he accepted Jesus into his heart and he hasn’t be the same ever since. His passion unwavering, his dedication intense.

Leonard initially attempted to created a hot air baloon that would have the Sinners prayer written on it – he felt that this would be the best way for people to see the prayer.  After 14 years of trying to promote his undying love for God, all he had to show was an endless sea of rotted-out fabric and eventually admitted defeat. Soon after, Leonard built his first mountain and after four years it collapsed. He took this as a message from the Lord that his mountain was not safe and vowed to start again. Over the next several years, he rebuilt his mountain using adobe mixed with straw to hold it together – it eventually evolved into what it is today. The coating of paint protects the structure – the thicker the paint, the better and stronger it becomes. Leonard estimates that he used well over 100,000 gallons of paint on his mountain. If your ever in the neighborhood (or not) its worth the trip!

Aurora Borealis

Le Passage

I was recently taken away for a surprise weekend to the beautiful Le Passage. It is the perfect escape from Shanghai! We were there in mid-March when it is still pretty cold in Shanghai but the pool was heated to around 30 degrees so I lived in it. The rooms, are a nice combination of french chic with elements of chinese design but what is most impressive about the hotel (other than the surrounding tea plantations and bamboo forest) is the food! We dined on the most decadent 5 course meal. I am still dreaming of the Foie Gras… to be honest I can’t remember what I ate after that. I’m hoping to go back soon and relieved to have discovered another Shanghai getaway spot.

 

 

Incredible India

I went to India for the first time a few months ago and I was totally blown away. Love is an understatement. I enjoyed every aspect of the trip – the food, the people, the architecture, the landscapes, the hotels.

Our trip was 8 days long and our itinerary was tight but not stressful. We had 6 days in Rajasthan, and 2 in New Delhi. I went photo crazy! Here are some of photographs, unfortunately they are just my iphone snaps but I will post some better ones soon. I had always put off going in hope that I could organize a longer trip but I am so happy that I was able to start my love affair with India. Next trip is in the making…

Happy New Year!

Living in China I have to say whenever I go on vacation I steer clear of cities! I long for peace and quite. So Austria is really my favorite place to go these days – the mountains, lakes, clean air, clean water and most importantly the blue skies!

After a couple of days in Vienna, where the Christmas markets and church concerts kept us busy we drove to Lienz, my fathers home town for a family rendez vous and some skiing. I am so proud to be Austrian, every time I go back I fall more and more in love with the country. The landscapes are amazing, the food, the people, the snow, the sun, the architecture – as you can see I’m considering taking a job for the Austrian tourist board ! Here are a few photographs from my days in the mountains followed by a lucky escape on my return to Shanghai via Thailand with my favorite people.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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