Monday, September 27, 2010

September - Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

The wonderful Michelle Fabio from "Bleeding Espresso" did remind me with her latest blog post, that every female blogger should use her blog to spread the word before the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month September is over for this year - and since she is totally right I dedicate today's post to this very serious topic. 

Everybody knows what the pink ribbon stands for. It is is the symbol for the Breast Cancer Awareness. But have you ever seen this teal one before? If not - now is the time.

Ovarian cancer is called the "silent killer", because the symptoms are mostly very unspecific and so it gets often diagnosed in a late stadium, which reduces the chance for cure enormously.

Every lady here will know this situation  ... there is a little pain every here and there - and we all have the tendency to ignore it. Being so involved in our daily lifes with work and family and so many things on the plate we often do not listen enough to the messages of our bodies.
The more important it is to know the signs and to see your doctor early enough. Learn here more about the symptoms and risk factors:

Signs & Symptoms
• Bloating
• Pelvic and/or abdominal pain
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
• Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer including fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities. These symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer as they are also frequently found in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.

Risk Factors
• Increasing age, with highest occurrence in women over 50
• Family or personal history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colon cancer
• Uninterrupted ovulation (having no pregnancies, infertility, low parity)
• Presence of gene mutations, especially BRCA 1 or BRCA 2

And please - visit your gynecologist for the regular cancer check ups. Not only because of ovarian but also for breast and cervix cancer check ups. Also please listen to your body and don't  be shy telling your doctor everything you think could be important.

For more information you can check for example the website of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, where I collected the information above.

If you - just like me, who lost her parents both to cancer - cannot understand why we can walk on the moon, but not cure a mass killer like cancer, you may feel like doing something more than just reading this and think about donating. There are a million organisations outside, which are worth to be supported. Feel free to scan the internet to find the right one for you. These three are only my personal recommendations:

1) The Cowgirl Cure Foundation founded by my beloved friend and ovarian cancer fighter and survivor Gina de Palma.
2) The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
3) Deutsche Krebshilfe

Thanks for reading and take care!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome back, Joaquin - the real one!

This is another flash update with some images and youtubing.

I was checking my Twitter today and ran into a Tweet of
Tall Cathy (h/t) featuring one of my favorite actors, Joaquin Phoenix.

If you don't know yet, let me tell you - that guy can act! He has done quite a few good movies and his acting is really intense. My favorite piece of his work is the amazing Johnny Cash bio pic
"Walk the Line", which I watched already 5 (FIVE) times. I guess I have only seen Coppola's Dracula more often.

Most of the ladies - at least the ones who just like me do not root for blond guys - will also agree, that in addition to his great talent the fact that he is really handsome doesn't hurt either. Right? Right.
After "Walk the Line" there were some rumors, that Joaquin Phoenix had to pay the price of the intense method acting work and had to fight serious exhaustion and some other problems. Might be, might not ... I am not interested in gossiping.

But when he appeared again on the scene his look and behavior let some jaws drop - mine included. Because he looked like this:

Well, I am sure NOT the girl, who thinks a guy needs to run to the hair dresser every 10 days (or even worse use the electric razor every other day for a 2 mm cut) and I am not the biggest fan of super clean shaved male faces, too. But seriously - that was kind of "too much" even for me - especially in combination with his really weird behavior. Check this out:

But now .... 1.5 years later he got rid of all the hairy stuff and revealed that it was all a hoax. Something like "real live acting". Joaquin's buddy and brother in law Casey Affleck turned the camera on him doing weird stuff to create something like a persiflage / documentary on reality TV and star cult.

Think about it .... for almost two years he "acted" for every public appearance he did - from talk show interviews to the strange (and really bad) hip hop concerts he performed. That is CRAZY!
The movie is called
"I'm still there" and is out in the theaters just now and I'll definitely go and check it out.

Although I definitely appreciate a good portion of crazyness, I am quite lucky to see Joaquin Phoenix being back to his regular self (and looks ;) ).  At the video below you can watch him explaining the whole thing by himself.

Good to have you back, man!

PS: I tried to find credits for the two shots of Joaquin Phoenix, but there were none on the websites where I found them.  Both as far as I could find out are part of the promotional material for "Walk the Line" (the first shot) and "I'm still there" (the second shot).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pure Awesomeness

That's a real quick one. I just want to share this finding of the day with you. 


The credits for this piece of awesomeness go to The Believer - I am sending a BIG THANK YOU over to San Francisco!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vaterstetten goes Trogir Part III – The city of Šibenik, Krka National Park and Rogoznica

Everybody who knows me in person and longer than only a few months is aware of the fact that I grew up in a small town in Western Germany called Wesel ... and that I give a damn about it.
I do not like the place and I never really did, although most of the time I loved my home but just as the micro cosmos it used it be.

Since my mom passed away and I am offially an orphan I did not make a single step in this cursed (feels like that for me) city and I won't in the near future.

And so it is no miracle that I do not feel any emotional connection to my home town. I do in a way feel connected with the hard working, heart at the right place, honest and cool people of the nearby Ruhrgebiet as part of my roots, but Wesel? Nope.

But this world is place of choices and so, when I travelled the Dalmatia for the first couple of times and suddenly felt this strong emotional connection to the land, its nature, culture and people, I also “chose” a new hometown. I strongly believe that - just like close and long time friends and can be as  close and important to you like your family (and I really love my family) - a chosen hometown can be YOUR place as much the place where you in fact grew up – or even more.

And like you all know already Rogoznica became for my family and me like a 2nd home and we all love the close by county town Šibenik a lot and so I decided to call that place my “chosen hometown”. (Sidenote: In the top image of this posting you see the area around the bus station - a place of HAPPYNESS since I arrived here so often, jumped off the bus and took a first really deep breath of Dalmatian air).

So for me – as you can imagine – the day trip to Šibenik during our “Vaterstetten goes Trogir” tour was one of my personal highlights although I skipped the guided city tour. I was in Šibenik like more than a dozen times before and I felt much more like visiting my favorite places alone (for example the very, very good book shop near the water front).

But for you I compiled a bit of basic information about Šibenik:

Šibenik placed at the Krka river mouth was first mentioned in 1066 A.D. and just like the whole region the city was over the centuries under control of lots of different sovereigns, but the most important – especially looking at the architecture – have been several centuries under Venetian governance.

The most important buildings for sightseeing are the absolutely beautiful St. Jacob Cathedral , which is also UNESCO world heritage (just like the old town of Trogir and the Diocletian palace in Split), and St. Michael’s Fortress overlooking the city – and the spot where I did almost all the pictures featured below:

St. Jacob Cathedral

Venetian-Dalmatian Style Main Square

Old Town with St. Jacob Cathedral from St. Michael's Fortress

Overlooking Šibenik from St. Michael's Fortress

Krka goes Adriatic Sea at Šibenik

The Krka National Park

The National Park covers ca. 20 km of the river Krka course between Knin and Skradin. In these 20 km the river goes down 46 m in height in 7 big and a huge number of smaller waterfalls. Totally spectacular is also the lake Visovac with its artificially built island and the Visovac monastery.

The landscape of the Krka National Park is also famous for being the location of several scenes of the famous Winnetou movies. So look out, dear US American readers, this is how we in Germany think that your Wild West looked liked :o)

When our little group made its day trip to the Krka National Park the good luck was sad enough not with us. When we left Trogir the weather was still okay, but the closer we came to Šibenik the darker became the sky and turned from grey to black and finally it started raining - or to be more exact - pouring with rain. So except 1,5 hour right in the middle of the trip it was raining all the time. It was such a pitty especially for the ones in our group who visited the park for the very first time and now could not experience its beauty running around with wet feet and shivering in the cold only badly protected by thin jackets and some umbrellas (the number of umbrellas was significantly smaller than the number of people in the group).

Thank god the landscape of the park is so stunningly beautiful that I could make some nice shots even through the rain. I hope you’ll enjoy:

Diverse Krka Waterfalls

Island and Monastary Visovac

The Krka Canyon - Winnetou Style

Krka - view in the direction of Skradin

The final day of our trip we had no organized program and so I took the chance and hopped on a bus at 9 am and went home to Rogoznica. To be that close but not visiting my village seemed to be impossible to me. Other than in Trogir, where lots of tourist were still filling the streets, Rogoznica lay already in total post season silence – quite relaxing after a whole week of action. I visited Marija and Ante for breakfast and a wonderful lunch with fresh grilled fish and enjoyed the breathtaking view from one of Dalmatia’s most beautiful terraces and went swimming in the cold but nice Adriatic.

On my way back the “summer is over – time to say good bye to Dalmatia for now” melancholy hit me pretty hard and I cried bitter-sweet tears … just like every year.


But of course I’ll be back as soon as possible J

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vaterstetten goes Trogir Part II - The cities of Trogir & Split

After telling you already some basic stories about our trip to Trogir and thanking the people who made this trip absolutely remarkable, I would like to introduce to you today the cities of Trogir and Split.

One thing is for sure: These people in Vaterstetten know how to make friends (with open hearts and hospitality) and they know how to choose city partnerships. The lovely and picturesque Allauch – partner city of Vaterstetten for over 25 years now – is located in the South of France not too far from Marseille and absolutely beautiful. And now we have Trogir in the heart of Dalmatia. An UNESCO world heritage city located directly at the crystal clear Adriatic Sea. A perfect choice, isn’t it?

The history of Trogir goes back to the 3rd century B.C. to the (greek) village called Tragurion. In all these centuries lots of different sovereigns called Trogir their own including The Venetians and The Austrian-Hungarian Empire. And even more tried to conquer it but not a small number of them failed, because of the thick walls and the special city architecture.

So if you ever walk the tiny streets in the old town of Trogir and wonder why they did not make it bigger – that’s the reason:
If you want to conquer the place you first have to get through the thick walls, which is difficult enough. And even if the enemies made it into the town they had to go one after each other because the streets were so narrow that you cannot go in a bigger group sholder by sholder. So the citizens of Trogir could easily fight them down one after one shooting out of their windows – an easy and effective way of defense.
Today it’s safe, of course, to walk the old town of Trogir and very enjoyable. A lot of cute shops, nice restaurants serving great food, beautiful cafés to hang out and have a coffee or cocktail and great ice cream places (I LOVE lactase pills!) are waiting for you – and lots of gorgeous historical places and sightseeing attractions like the following:

The beautiful waterfront of Trogir:

Typical narrow street in Trogir

Cathedral of Saint Lawrence

Bell tower at the main square

Fortress Kamerlengo

Only half an hour by car or 45 minutes by boat from Trogir you find the 2nd biggest city of Croatia – Split.

The city of Salona (now Solin) dates back to the 4th century B.C. and was the most important city of the region before the citizens moved in the 7th century A.D. in the empty palace of the roman emperor Diocletian built in the 3rd century A.D. to be better protected against conquerors coming from sea side as well as down the mountains. Out of this palace taken over by the citizens of old Salona grew the city of Split.
Besides a nice waterfront to walk, lots of very fashionable shops and a huge number of cafés the palace of Diocletian and all the antiques locations inside are the most interesting sightseeing spots in Split. Just have a look:

Split from Mount Marjan


Diocletian Palace

Diocletian Palace - Peristyl

Cathedral Saint Duje (Dominus)

And before you leave Split don’t for get to look out for the statue of Saint Gregory of Nin and touch his toe for good luck. While rubbing it think of a wish you have – the legend says that it will come true. It did not work for me yet, but I am willing to give it more time since it was a big and kind of time consuming wish. If it ever comes true, I’ll let you know.

Stay tuned for part III of Vaterstetten goes Trogir with the city of Šibenik, Krka National Park and – you may guess it already – Rogoznica.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vaterstetten goes Trogir - Part I

Munich, September 2, 2010 at 4.30 am.
Picture me standing in my bathroom eyes still half closed, being almost ready to leave my home for my latest Dalmatian adventure.
The only thing left to do was drying my hair and closing the suitcase, when my hairdryer exploded with a decent amount of smoke and a shower of sparks. Well - NICE. At least now I was really AWAKE!

Thank god I am not superstitious. Otherwise I would have maybe canceled the trip at the very last minute, but then I would have missed a marvelous trip to Croatia. So I was just swearing like an old Dalmatian sailor and left home to go by taxi to Vaterstetten …

I have to admit that I had zero experience with group travels and -10 experiences with being the tour guide on a group trip. So I was looking forward to going to Croatia again, but (although I was perfectly prepared by Michael Baier from Partnerschaft mit Togir e.V. - Thank you!) also a bit scared if I would be able to manage everything and help to make the trip enjoyable for everybody. In the end I was a lucky girl blessed with a patient driver (and the perfect housemate together with Hilde) and the nicest fellow travelers you can imagine. Thanks a lot to everybody for all the light and laughter.

And of course I need to thank everybody involved in Trogir for the local organization including Mayor Damir Rilje and his wife, our amazing host Dean Bilić and his team (Visit his restaurant “GEMINI“ when you are in Trogir. It is directly next to Fortress Kamerlengo – you cannot miss it.), Negica, Viktor and all the other helping hands and lovely hosts, who took care for our group and opened up their houses and hearts.

During our week we enjoyed diverse liters of wine and liquor, a few dozens of fishes and several pounds of risotto, čevape, sausages and grilled meat mostly prepared by Dean and his team. And when we were not eating and drinking we could enjoy the fantastic program our hosts had put together for us. I will write seperate articles about our diverse short trips to sightseeing spots in and around Trogir, but two events I would like to mention tonight:

Veli Drvenik

Trogir is a very popular spot and even now at the end of the summer season very lively and crowded. So after the long journey, a few very active days already spent in Trogir and some bigger excursions we were all in the need of a more relaxed day and so the trip to Veli Drvenik was perfectly planned.

On a sitenote for those of you who don't know Croatian: Veli means big, but that does not exactly mean that Veli Drvenik is big. It is only bigger than Mali (small) Drvenik ;).

After a nice and not too long trip with the ferry we entered the small and very quiet island and found ourselves some nice places at the waterfront. Some enjoyed just few hours of relaxing time in the late summer sun and some others – like me – went swimming in the crystal clear water.

At 2 pm we were back at the old school building of the island village. Dean was expecting us with cold drinks and a HUGE portion of risotto followed by a ton of deliciouls grilled meat, fresh bread, salad and refreshing water melons. Amazing what our Croatian friends prepared for us out of nothing. After lunch we sat together singing Dalmatian songs. It was so nice that we almost missed the ferry back to Trogir.

The Party

On Saturday night we had the already kind of „traditional“ (the „kind of“ relates to the fact that this city partnership is only 1 year old and we are still busy creating our own traditions) partnership party. Our Dalmatian friends had organized concerts of local music groups right in front of Fortress Kamerlengo for us and invited some special guests – the Neretva pirates!

The Neretva is a river, which flows into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Ploče in Southern Dalmatia. In the past those pirates were quickly coming out of the river delta with their flat and small rowboats to rob the big and only slow moving merchant ships and then escaped back into the river delta. Today it’s of course only show, but still very impressive how fast these boats are.

In our case the “pirates” were from the small city of Komin and extremely nice and funny guys. They even allowed some of us to come aboard and join them for a small rowing race along the Trogir waterfront. Afterwards they joined our partnership party, cooked fantastic Brodet (Dalmatian fish soup) and joined the local music groups for a several hours lasting "singing competition". It was a wonderful Dalmatian night.

That’s for today, but there is more in the pipeline:

Part II: The cities of Trogir and Split
Part III: The city of Šibenik and the Krka National Park

Stay tuned ...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

She’s a good girl ... loves Jesus and America, too... Part III 9-11

I won't bore you with long stories how I experienced 9-11. How I watched the whole thing on TV staring paralyzed at the screen and collapsed in a corner of my office room right after the first tower went down and all that.

It is one of these days everybody remembers where he / she was and with whom. And everybody can tell a story about it.

I just want to say, that I will never forget this day and that I pray that we'll never have to go through anything like that again.

New York,  I love you and I hope to be back next spring.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On the road again

Time to hit the road again!

Tomorrow morning at 6 am I am off to Dalmatia. This time it's not the regular beach holiday with family and friends. This time I am part of an official mission joining a group of around 60 people who will visit the beautiful city of Trogir to celebrate the new city partnership between Vaterstetten and Trogir.

The program our hosts created for us is fantastic and includes visits of Šibenik, Split, Krka National Park and of course a guided tour through the amazing city of Trogir, which is UNESO World Heritage.

In addition lots of festivities and get togethers are planned and  I am very sure, that we'll have a great  time and make a lot of new friends.
I will take a lot of pictures and when I am back next week I will start a series of postings about this trip and introduce you to some of the nicest places in Dalmatia.
So look out for updates up from the end of next week and take care for now!