Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Denmark Derby: Frederiksborg Slot...

Before the great computer meltdown of 2014, I realized I had a couple of Denmark excursions I never posted here in the Denmark Derby series.  Looking back on these, these are from just short of a year ago and kind of are from the time where we really started getting out and about in Denmark more.  It was the dead of winter - almost like it is now, and even though gray and cold ruled the roost, this outing to the Frederiksborg Castle allowed the diplo-tot and I a bit of sunshine we soaked up despite the frozen toes and fingers...

Frederiksborg Castle is not too far outside of Copenhagen, in the little town of Hillerod, and is home to the castle itself, the sprawling gardens and then also a Museum of National History.  The museum is supposed to be amazing but I confess we did't see it.  I didn't realize it closed so early (3pm - par for the course during Danish winter, a lesson that sunk in right then and there), and we were so excited to see the sun for a bit that day that we started out with a walk...

The grounds were beautiful in the way that winter gardens our and we had the acres nearly to ourselves for the entire walk.  I imagine this place is absolutely packed in the summer time with picnic goers and strollers and it's still on my list to come back and see it abloom...

And the grounds were chock full of classical and allegorical statues, amongst the plants and amongst the more traditional side buildings.  Kind of gives is a more old-school Europe, flummery for the sake of flummery feel which you don't get as often in Denmark...

Despite the winter, it's amazing how much the gardens retain their shape and character - this place really must be amazing in the spring and summer.  But one thing I adored was how they "winterized" their fountains...In Austria, they often put glass domes over fountains for the winter but here they actually fill the basins with pine tree branches, giving it a distinct winter look...

Looking back on these, it's amazing how small the diplo-tot seems to me - especially "running into the sunset" at barely three in the afternoon.  She had just turned three at the time and was starting to get her footing in Denmark and her Danish school...Now, just a year later she's longer and leaner in build, but so confident and fluent in her Danish and navigating the outdoor terrain...And in just a few days, she'll be a big sister... when we do finally make it back to the gardens in bloom, I bet she'll be a pro at navigating the stroller...


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year + Julie Andrews + Vienna...

Is there a better combination out there?

The Vienna New Year's Day Concert is one of the greatest traditions in welcoming the new year - that plus Julie Andrews? It's almost too much.  Of course, no place like right on the Graben to say farewell to the old year too...

This year was a little calmer as far as wild new year's celebrations go but still yet, probably one of our best (in fact, it was a bit similar to 2011).  We had the world's biggest ballroom right outside of our living room window, took a walk to enjoy all the music surrounding us, and noted that there must be at least four generations celebrating at any given corner which was so lovely to see, and that's something that seems to happen only here in Vienna... at home we enjoyed a slow dinner with a tomato coconut soup and chateaubriand and jamie oliver's amazing roasted potatoes...and a lemon tart with fireworks to top it off...

But when the sun comes up, the Philharmonic gets together for some of the most Viennese moments in Vienna...We get the broadcast live which is pretty tough to top but if you watch it in the US, you get Julie Andrews as the host which is perhaps a match made in heaven for any Austria nostalgist... if you have PBS this extra bonus is all yours - plus it looks like Dame Julie was enjoying a cafe or two around town....

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Vienna Apartment...

A few curious minds have asked about where we're living while we're in Vienna.  And I have to say with a big smile that we're pretty much living in the heart of it all - right in the center of the city, and just about around two corners from where we lived when we were posted here.  So in many ways, this is very familiar territory - the old "hood" you could call it, but even just "a little more better", as the diplo-tot likes to say...

When we decided to come, we were a bit up in the air about whether to chose a hotel or try an Air BnB but neither seemed to give us a lot of options that were workable both for family...and holidays...and a future baby.  When you have kiddies, things like kitchens and bathrooms and walkability become really important - and when you're staying as long as we are, then cost is also a factor.  I was actually surprised that we didn't come up with much on apartment rentals this time around, but a lot of that had to do likely with the fact that we're here over the holidays - but it seems like people wanted a lot of payment for little apartment value.

We actually stumbled upon Vienna Residences by sheer luck on an internet search and found their selection of apartments to be something we could work with  - once on the ground here, we had to work out a few kinks in terms of communications and making sure everything that we needed was here but that's pretty typical for any set up like this.  Some of the agents they have are a little quicker than others - and for anything we've needed immediately, the owner has been wonderful.  And unlike most rental apartments where you live in someone else's space with someone else's things, this is set up as a corporate rental but with the help of an interior designer - so you get a sense of togetherness with all the furnishings but it's not so personal that it feels like you're squatting in someone else's private space.

Now that we're settled, I thought I'd share a little house tour with you.   The colors and chandeliers and gorgeous moldings are a nice break from all the Danish minimalism and while I've sworn I would never live without anything other than white walls, this is making me second guess myself.

The apartment is gorgeous - it's a little bit set up for lovely photographs rather than toddler curiosity, but a few adjustments here and there and we've made it work.   We've had to add a few practical things (like scissors...or a few bins for toys...or a serving platter) but other than that, it's become home quite quickly.  We even put up a little tree in the corner.  And I probably don't even have to mention the view... I don't have much mobility right now and can't be out for long periods of time so having some of the action right under my doorstep still makes me feel like I'm part of the city and right in the heart of Vienna holiday life.

There might not be a place like home, but a Vienna apartment done right comes a close second.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Year's Day Brunch Inspiration...




As we settle into our new temporary place in Vienna for the next couple of months, I've been starting to think about the holidays...on one hand, it will be low key since, well, I'm not partying much at 35 weeks pregnant, and we're in a bit of a temporary status.  But that being said, when you're in the heart of Vienna for holidays, you don't have to do all that much to feel festive.  I mean, there are chandeliers hanging in the street right outside our windows...

The two New Year's Eve celebrations we had here are some of the ones I most fondly remember, and New Year's Day here is a day to take it all in and start the new year off right.  To that end, Minted sent over a few paper goodies to help us prepare and here are a few inspirations for getting our family brunch set up in style:

1.  RabLabs Platters: I absolutely love these - we gifted them to family last year and I immediately sincerely regretted I didn't bite the bullet and order one for us as well.  We'll have to correct that this year!

2.  Confetti for the table: Because it's New Year's and New Year's is for confetti!

3.  Glucksschweins: In Vienna, "good luck pigs" are the symbols of the New Year (remember these?) so they'll feature prominently on the table in some form or other, preferably as chocolate truffles from Meinl's (still the world's most beautiful grocery store if you ask me - I love being around the corner from it once again!)

4.  Happy Coupes: I don't have my collection of coupes here but Vienna outdoor markets always have reasonable ones in original sets, and Lobmeyr has less reasonable (but more glam) ones  - maybe something a little more festive this year for the collection inspired by these? After all, champagne tastes better in a coupe.

5. Gold Flatware: need I say more?

6.  Holiday Bling Party Decor: Like the New Year's Banner - these banners have become one of my favorite ways to instantly signal a party in a room...

7.  Roses & Gold: Floral inspiration for the center of the table that will last well into the first days of the start of the new year...

8.  Joy Stickers:  A little reminder to put on a makeshift napkin ring of craft paper about the sentiment we should all have when the year crosses over.

9.  Candles: While we will always have Vienna as first in our hearts as a post, Copenhagen is definitely growing with us and the fact that there really should be no winter meal or party without candles is one of the things that will come with us wherever we go.

10.  The Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Day Concert: One day, we'll get tickets...one day...but in the meantime, the TV broadcast will have to do and there simply is no new year's in Vienna without it.  The Philharmonic is just probably the best accompaniment to brunch that there is!

11. Menu Cards: I don't know what will go on them yet - something simple, something good, and something topped with Champagne for sure!