Latvia between beaches, bogs, bunkers and KGB

An ice-cold wind blows through the deserted streets of Riga. Hat, gloves and thick winter jacket fail on this blustery March day. “North winds are always cold,” says Kristine, who is accompanying us on this trip. A conspicuous number of yellow and blue flags are flying in the streets. In addition, there are the red and white Latvian flags. “Yesterday was Memorial Day for the victims of communist terror,” she clarifies. I’ll find out what that means during a stop at the KGB museum on the way from the airport to the hotel.

The corner house and the KGB – about deportation, torture and interrogation

In 1949, the Soviet occupation regime deported 43,000 people from Latvia to Siberia – peasants, intellectuals and others whom Moscow considered enemies of communism. “Everyone has someone in their family who was deported,” Kristine says. In the former KGB building, the nondescript corner building, we are led through the interrogation rooms and prison cells and end up looking at a wall with bullet holes. The cold temperatures in the rooms, which were heated to 30 degrees at the time, take us back to the days when the Committee for State Security (KGB) operated in Latvia. Checkists imprisoned in the corner house from 1940 to 1941 and from 1944 to 1990 the Latvian citizens whom the occupation regime considered enemies, interrogated, tortured and in the first year of occupation also murdered them. Bullet holes indicate that shootings continued after 1944.

I came to walk through moors and explore historic towns and yet every pore of this trip is also filled with politics and history. We are on the EU and Nato’s external border. Fear runs deep – has for years and especially since the Crimea annexation. Latvian society is divided – this has been expressed not only since the outbreak of the Ukraine war. Half of Riga’s population of 640,000 is Russian-speaking. “People keep to themselves,” Kristine says. Separate schools here lay the groundwork for the different lifestyles in the small nation. In Soviet times, the Latvian-speaking part of the population certainly benefited from this in order to preserve their identity and language, but today this dichotomy is seen as more of a divider. How the Russian-speaking part of the Latvians thinks and feels here, I will not find out on this trip.

Opposite the Russian embassy hangs a large skull of Putin. Countless posters against the Ukraine war flutter on the fence. We meet the artist Harijs Grundmanns at a wall a bit away from the city center. Only one week after the outbreak of the war he initiated a graffiti for peace together with 39 other artists. In only 5 to 6 hours this was implemented. Latvians can understand too well what is happening in Ukraine right now – this is emphasized in all conversations we have. Protest is therefore natural, even if it is not expressed as strongly in all parts of Latvia as it is in the capital.

Bunkers and the signs against oblivion

Just an hour away from Riga, in Ligatne, is a fully equipped bunker for the political elite during the Soviet era. “For the past four weeks, my tours have taken on a different reality,” begins historian Oskar Okonovs as he begins the tour of the 9 m deep and 2000 sqm large facility under a rehabilitation center. Bunkers are usually located inconspicuously under civilian buildings. This bunker, built in the 1980s and code-named “Old People’s Home,” was built to hold about 225 people and to survive for three months. Of course, only the political elite, such as the first secretaries of the Soviet Communist Party Voss and Pugo, to be able to continue the state business from there in case of nuclear war or other disasters.

Annual exercises were held in it, but for an emergency the $4 trillion dwelling (which was 1/3 of Latvia’s state budget) was never used. The bunker lost its secrecy only in 2003. The Soviet era is omnipresent in the underground corridors. All the signs are in Russian. The bunker forms an autonomous structure, all authentic facilities have been preserved to this day. We look at rooms, the dining room, consultation rooms, the communication center and also the air filter room. “The technology is not up to date, but everything must be repairable,” says Oskar, operating the still-functioning air filtration system without warning to scare us with the noise.
If you grew up in eastern Germany, some of the things Oskar conveys with his acting interludes are very familiar. After the hour-long tour, we reappear in the lobby of the rehabilitation clinic, which is out of time with its interior. Here Oskar bids us farewell with the cautionary words, “We have lived in peace for too long, so we forgot about war. We must remember, because if we forget, it will happen again and again.”

Snowshoeing to the Kemeri Bog

Even though socio-political issues always come to the fore – Latvia offers so much more. Beautiful corners to switch off and relax, for example – even if that’s hard to do in these times. We drive to a place where we don’t meet people and don’t constantly check the news – to the moor.
Ieva hands out snowshoes at the edge of the forest. Spring is fresh and there are still some snow remains everywhere. But these are not the point. Rather, they should distribute our weight and give us support when we hike through the moorland. I quickly suppress the thoughts from my childhood of sinking into the bog. In Kemeri National Park, there are raised bogs, low grass bogs, and transitional bogs. The Great Ķemeri Bog is one of the largest raised bogs in Latvia. Footpaths lead directly into the bog. But for us Ieva has chosen another place, which is best walked with the converted snowshoes.

The trumpeting of cranes echoes over the heath and pine landscape. Geese fly over our heads as we shuffle across the still mostly frozen water. Again and again it cracks and vibrates under our shoes. The moss, marked by the winter, only reluctantly gives way. Spring is making its way and yet the green still has to grow. The sun does not let us down today and puts a special filter on the landscape. Ieva points to cranberries, blueberries, cloudberries… in summer you can’t starve and die of thirst here. She holds moss in the air and rinnt this from. This is how you get filtered water, drinking water! We reach a lake area with small islands. Some islands without trees even float. The water here is said to be 4 m deep, in which Latvians go swimming in summer. Even fish are said to exist here in the marsh, even if they don’t survive. In summer, the locals even sleep under the stars. Without a tent, they say, this is allowed here. On the way back through the moor, Ieva says that somewhere below us there are surely still ammunition. After all, in World War II, the bog was the last major obstacle for armored vehicles before reaching the Bay of Riga. We charge ourselves with nature and culture and are accompanied by history, because it tells us a lot about the present.

Jurmala – the beach town

Not far from the marsh there is the sea. A wide white strip of fine quartz sand dancing in the wind. Seagulls play in the waves. How beautiful it must be here in summer. Jurmala, the town that consists of many small villages, translates as beach. It stretches for 30 km along the Baltic coast. So Riga is by the sea after all, because it has a good rail connection that takes city dwellers to the resort every ten minutes in just 40 minutes through beautiful spruce forests. Colorful wooden summer houses and villas built in the early 20th century seek shelter under pine trees, with the sea roaring behind them.

Beautiful Riga – balm for longing and broken hearts

Latvia is small, so you can also use the capital as a base to explore surrounding places. I’ve been here before, more than 10 years ago, and I’m permanently experiencing déjà vu. What’s missing these days compared to then are the many tour groups in the narrow streets of the old town. The Latvian capital seems almost deserted.
Like most visitors to Riga who are interested in culture, we stroll through the Klusais centrs district, which means “quiet center.” Expensive cars park in the streets. This is where those who have money live and work. In this area we find especially many of the more than 800 Art Nouveau buildings that exist in the Latvian capital. Most of them were built in 1900-1910, when the prospering industrial city needed housing. The most magnificent houses were designed by Mikhail Osipovich Eisenstein, which can be found between Albert Street (Alberta Iela) and Elisabeth Street (Elisabetes Iela).

If you are looking for beauty, Riga is the place to be. Many different styles combine in the alleys of the Old Town and beyond. A walk takes you through City Hall Square and Cathedral Square past the Powder Tower to the Opera House. Kristine emphasizes again and again that Riga is a German city, we must not forget that. There is hardly a building that was not planned by a German master builder. In front of the cathedral, behind whose brick walls the 6768 pipes of the organ sound daily in summer, stand the Bremen Town Musicians. And the oldest houses in the city, the “Three Brothers”, were once built by German merchants. Thanks to the Hanseatic League, many merchants came to the city in the Middle Ages and shaped the old town center. The Schwarzhäupterhaus near our hotel is, along with the Great and the Small Guild, just one of those magnificent buildings, behind whose ornate facade once u

nmarried German merchants met. The house, built in the 14th century, was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt only in 1999.

There are places that are busy even in quiet Riga – the central market in Nēģu iela. This is one of the largest and oldest markets in Europe. Here we meet with TV chef Martins Sirmais️️, who also owns restaurants like the 3 pavāru restorāns. He accompanies us through the five pavilions in former zeppelin hangars, relics from the First World War. In one hangar you can find more fruits and vegetables, in the other fish and meat, and in another corner again baked goods. The cooking professional shows us on different foods, how you can tell that they are not on the rearing or are fresh: A jagged fin on the fish, for example, indicates wild-caught. At the Pick Corner there is the leftover ramp and in the Charity Line you can set up a stall for a fee of 1 euro. The market is a meeting place for all social classes. At the end Martins leads us through the cellar corridors under the market. In the morning it is busy here when the goods are delivered and meat is cut. Now, on the other hand, it is eerily quiet here again.

Our days in Latvia always end in a restaurant – usually with “Contemporary Local Cuisine”. Local often means that the ingredients come from the area. We ask what is really typical for Latvia: “Rīgas Melnais balzam” is the answer. Kristine raises her glass on the last evening and addresses the kitschy words to us in a lilting tone: “Balzam heals everything except a broken heart and the longing for Riga.” And adds with a laugh, “Don’t write that, though!” Her own family history is marked by deportation, flight and a whole lot of feeling at home – she knows what she’s talking about when she talks about her longing for Riga. And besides, such a liqueur also warms – especially in these cold March days.

Part 2 on Estonia will be published shortly


I was invited by Gebeco to this research trip in Latvia and Estonia. All views are my own.

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On the road as a family in Davos

Davos is a perfect family destination – everything is designed to make the smallest guests (and therefore the grown-ups) feel at home.

Davos is world-famous due to various events, moreover as a health resort, winter sports resort and last but not least due to writers like Thomas Mann. But we have actually never made it there yet. High time to change that. So once again we hop on the train and leave the big city of Zurich behind. Off to the mountains!

On the way to Davos-Klosters.

Davos lies at over 1500 meters above sea level and with more than 10,000 inhabitants already counts as a city and thus as the highest city in the Alps. Accordingly, everything that one could need is actually available here. We explore Davos, however, primarily with our children – and are amazed at how many offers there are for families.

Unfortunately we don’t have the best weather, it is often cloudy or rainy. That’s not uncommon this summer. But our kids love to be outside and so we explore Davos with children’s eyes.

Davos has its charm even with clouds.

High on the Rinerhorn

First, of course, we want to see something of the mountain world in Davos. So we take the bus along the valley to the valley station of the Rinerhorn cable car. In a few minutes we go up to 2053 meters above sea level.

With the gondola to the Rinerhorn.

View from the gondola that takes us to the Rinerhorn.

The Rinerhorn is considered an insider tip for families and when we arrive at the top, we immediately know why. A large playground with swings, trampoline and a fully equipped sandbox is waiting for us and the kids start running as soon as we get out of the gondola.

Playground on the Rinerhorn.

While we comfortably drink coffee, the kids keep themselves busy. But what also attracted us to the Rinerhorn – besides the view – is the petting zoo. We say hello to llamas, pigs and goats and enjoy the furry company.

Tip: Be sure to stop at the Blockhuus restaurant at the valley station. The spinach dumplings are a dream!

Spinach dumplings at Blockhuus in Davos.

Discoveries in the Gwunderwald

The nature trail comprises eight sub-paths, each with its own unique themes and characteristics. But there is a lot to learn about flora and fauna on all of these trails – of course, everything is presented in a way that is suitable for children.

What we like is that all sub-paths are accessible by public transport and all paths are explained in detail on the accompanying website. There is also an extra description of whether the paths are suitable for strollers. However, we have only looked at the brochure of the Gwunderwald in advance and there the suitability for strollers is written with “partially” for many paths. Let me tell you: Don’t do it.

The paths of the Gwunderwald are well signposted.

Since we are already at the Rinerhorn anyway, we also want to walk path no. 8, “Spina”, right away. However, we realize relatively quickly that it is not feasible with a baby carriage. We recommend to do without the stroller on all eight trails and to go on foot or with a wheelbarrow. Even on trail no. 2, “Clavadel”, which is advertised as suitable for strollers, there is a section that is so steep that it is hardly doable. With buggy gt’s like that right now, but only because the little one is walking. So: without a stroller.

We finally decide on a combination of trail one and two and start in Wildboden and turn on the way to trail no. 2, which ends in Clavadel. Along the way, we play memory games, enjoy the views, and engage with local bird species and insects. The kids love it! Back we go by bus from Clavadel to Davos.

Exciting games for the little ones in the Gwunderwald.

On all Gwunderwald trails there are exciting stations and lots to learn.

Memory in the Gwunderwald.

Paradise playground Kurpark

Not only on the Rinerhorn we find wonderful playgrounds. A particularly great one is the Kurpark playground, right behind the ice stadium.

Our kids love to play here – it has a water playground, a giant slide, climbing frames and a trampoline. There is much more to come, but I don’t want to list it all now. In any case, there is something suitable for all children.

There are more playgrounds at the Seehofseeli, at the Hotel InterContinental or at the schoolhouses Davos Dorf and Davos Wiesen.

Slide at the Kurpark playground.

There are also water games at the Kurpark playground.

Children’s land Madrisa

Here we spent a whole day. Madrisa Land above Klosters is one of the must-sees for families. The Kinderland fascinates with all kinds of games and playgrounds, where our kids can let off steam all day. Our oldest daughter is fascinated by the long tube slides where she can slide down with a pillow.

A part of the Madrisa land.

Since the sun is finally shining again today, the water games also work their magic. The climbing tower and bouncy castle also keep her busy for ages. Madrisa Land is a paradise for children. Everything is designed with them in mind, even the offerings in the restaurant and the small children’s toilets.

There is also a lot on offer for older kids: Monster scooters, 3D wildlife park and also many longer and shorter hikes with barbecue areas and special trails. In addition, an animal park with ponies, pygmy goats and alpacas is also waiting here.

In Madrisa-Land above Klosters.

With the gondola lift the entrance is also included. There is also the possibility to spend the night in a tree hut. Definitely a great adventure and perfect for family vacations.

Water playground in Madrisa Land.

A whole day in Madrisa-Land in Davos-Klosters.

Staying at Hotel Sunstar

We stayed in a really big hotel for the first time in a long time. The Hotel Sunstar offers everything for families and with its own indoor pool, the program is also set for rainy days. We got extra water wings and bath toys for the kids.

Perfect are the playroom and the ball pool, which the kids enjoy very much and of course also suits us. However, for my preferences, the restaurant is too big and noisy and the whole hotel is too spread out. Actually, I prefer it a bit smaller and more personal. However, as a family accommodation with lively children, the hotel is great and definitely recommended.

Find the child.

With the hotel’s own Bobby Cars in the corridors on the road.

We have still visited the Davosersee,

on which you can ride a pedalo, rent a stand-up paddleboard or simply jump into the cool water. In Davos there is still so much to discover for the little ones. What we didn’t have enough time for is, for example, exploring the Zwergenweg, a trip to the Jakobshorn or to the Schatzalp. It seems we will have to come back next summer….

Directly from Davos to the Jakobshorn.

Lake Davos.

And if you want to do something without kids, I highly recommend a hike to the Jöriseen.

Have you already been to Davos with your family?

Disclaimer: We were invited by Destination Davos-Klosters. Thank you very much.

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Soon we will leave for Costa Rica!

Only a few more days and we are finally on the road again – open end and with a whole new intention. I have recorded my thoughts, wishes and fears here.

Not long and we close the door of our apartment behind us, press the key into the hand of our subtenant and drive the few minutes to the airport. It’s been years since we’ve boarded an airplane. It’s definitely going to feel weird. We plan to come back to Zurich in a year and a half. So much for the plan. But how did it actually come to this and what is all this about?

How it came to this

I don’t really know how far I should go. Where do I start to tell you? During the last six years I was always busy, more than ever before. We started a family, I gave birth to two children and together Jürgen and I have managed the crazy everyday life as a family.

We both worked 80% in a permanent job, ran the blog on the side as self-employed and took care of two kids. In addition, there was the balancing act of having two families of origin who each live two to three hours away, friends, sports, our own time and time together, and the high demands as parents.

Sounds impossible? It is not. In fact, we have managed quite well and have always been satisfied. We know about our privileges and live gratefully in (according to statistics) the richest city in the world.

And yet there was always something…. The desire to live differently, to be freer, to find more meaning, to be independent and to be able to exemplify that to our children. The desire to wake up by the sea and feel salt on our skin. This desire sometimes hurt almost physically and went far beyond “I need a vacation again.”

On a cold winter day….

At some point, we took two days out. On those two days, we sat down and talked. What do we want out of life? How do we want to live? What do we want to pass on to our children? How do we envision our future working lives? What is important to us?

Of course, this is not the first time we have asked ourselves these questions. But taking two days off, sitting together and just discussing these questions, sharing, aligning and expressing aspirations – we’ve never done that so consciously before.

Fortunately, we have found that we actually want the same things. After all, such things can also become critical when you realize as a couple that both of you are drawn in a different direction. Fortunately, in our case, that’s true. And once again we are very lucky, because that is not a matter of course.

At the end of these two days, we wrote everything down on a big poster and set a date: Then we want to get out!

So now it was fixed. When we handed in our notices to our employers some time later, we knew: there’s no turning back now, we’re going through with it.

What we actually want

Since then, four months have passed and we are ready to go. The pressure is off and we are already living more freely. Life is easier in one way, but also more responsible in another.

We are now completely responsible for ourselves and can no longer transfer anything to others.chieben. Our decisions have a 1:1 impact on our family, on our lives. The monthly fixed salary is gone. Everything is different, everything is better, everything is more difficult. But better more difficult. Oh, it’s so hard to explain.

But this is exactly what we have been looking for: To take responsibility for our actions, our work, our lives. To feel the effects of it and also to endure these intense feelings. Sometimes that’s not so easy. But it is more beautiful. More beautiful than dreaming away life on the sofa. Although we didn’t do that. Nevertheless, the danger is always there. The feelings that accompanied us the last weeks were very intense. Literally from sky-high jubilant to close to tears. But even then I realize: it’s worth it. This intensity is good for us.

What we hope to find

In the coming months we want to find ourselves anew, in a world of independence and self-responsibility that is new to us. We want to find the courage to feel ourselves, to grow with our family and to enjoy together.

This requires a fair amount of courage. But we have mustered this and soon it will start. This is not the first time I have done this. I’ve quit my apartment several times, gone off and explored the world. The last time I was on the road alone for almost two years. But it’s a whole different ballgame to do it with two small children. It’s more complicated, more expensive, more fraught with obstacles, and full of invisible hurdles in the form of destructive beliefs. On my own, I just went for it. Now it’s a little more cumbersome, but even with family it’s doable.

In the best case, we come back in a year and a half with a flourishing business, enough money, lots of experiences and an eventful year and a half in other countries.

In the worst case, we come back home in a year with nothing left on the bank, but we had a wonderful and exciting 12 months.

Of course, I prefer the former case. But even the worse case sounds like a wonderful time, doesn’t it?

When doubts kick in

I always have to keep that in mind when doubts arise from time to time. Because they always squat very close, probably on my shoulder, and are there at the slightest uncertainty, which is probably also quite normal when you’re on the road with children.

Are we doing the right thing? What if they miss their friends? What if it’s not coherent as a family? And if…. and so on. But you know what? Then we just come back home. This is one of the many privileges we have and are incredibly grateful for.

The last days

We are in the last days before departure and constantly busy. Saying goodbye to loved ones, organizing insurance and paperwork, cleaning out and getting our apartment ready, giving things away, making room, packing…. We are so ready and yet not ready at all.

My feelings are hard to describe. But I’m already looking forward to reading this article again in two years and then knowing how it turned out. Maybe we’ll be at a completely different point in life then?

I am so excited to see how everything will turn out, how we will develop, what will happen and where our (life) journey will take us.

actually leads.

What do you think about that? I’m super excited to hear your comment!

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Flight and entry to Costa Rica: How to get there |

Traveling is not easy in times of Corona. Once you have taken care of entry regulations, they are bound to change again or some government will issue some new rules. Here you can find our experiences about flight and entry to Costa Rica (as of 29.10.2021).

Advertising in cooperation with Edelweiss.

Costa Rica is easy to travel these days. Whether you think that is good or bad is up to you. But we chose Costa Rica not because of the entry regulations, but because there is a direct flight from Zurich with Edelweiss to San José. And of course also because we like the country so much.

For the first destination of our indefinite trip, the beautiful country in Central America seemed perfect to us. It is safe, has wonderful nature, waves for surfing, I speak Spanish and we already know it very well from previous trips. Quickly the flight to Costa Rica was booked.

But I had a lot of respect for one thing: the first long flight as a family. Our children are two and four years old. This means: 1 x in the middle of the defiant phase and 1 x big urge to move. How were we supposed to survive 12 hours on a plane to Costa Rica? In the end, everything went much easier than we thought. Here are our experiences.

Introducing the kids to the big trip: Here on the visitor’s terrace at the airport.

Preparations for the entry into Costa Rica

At the time of our trip (10/29/2021), it was mandatory for all entrants to fill out the “Pase de Salud” max. 72 hours before arrival. On this form, in addition to the personal data, information on the state of health and in which countries one has previously stayed must be provided. It must be filled out for all entrants, including minors.

After submitting the data, you will receive a QR code via e-mail, which you will need for check-in and entry. That’s all, as a citizen:in Switzerland or Germany you then get the visa for 3 months (mostly anyway).

Non-vaccinated, adult persons must also show an insurance that covers the costs in case of illness with Covid-19.

Travelers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to take out this insurance. Proof of vaccination or proof of insurance must be uploaded when completing the “Pase de Salud”.

Attention: These regulations are constantly changing. The information here is current as of 10/29/2021. Please check with the appropriate authorities before booking. Around the turn of the year Costa Rica additionally introduces the 1G rule, which can also lead to changes again.

The Pase de Salud is necessary to travel to Costa Rica.

Preparations for the flight

So, the entry to Costa Rica is easy to deal with. What worried me more was the long flight of more than 12 hours. So we prepared for it very conscientiously.

We took an entire carry-on backpack full of toys for the kids. These included TipToi books and pencils, coloring books with pens, sticker books and puzzles. We also packed a new puzzle book as a surprise, just in case.

In addition, both children got headphones, with which they could watch unlimited Peppa Wutz and Paw Patrol on the flight. The media consumption is usually limited with us, but on the flight there was the big exception. They could choose the headphones themselves in advance and try them out at home to get used to them.

We had some toys with us and also received a coloring book from Edelweiss.

Furthermore, we packed some food. Who has children knows, they are always hungry. We had bars, nut mixes and dried fruits with us.

For the littlest one we had a Kids Fly Safe-Cares harness with us. Additionally, we bought a Fly LegsUp pillow, which we ended up not needing at all. The children both slept a few hours, but that went thanks to EcoMax at Edelweiss without any problems on the normal seats.

Check-in the day before

We live in Zurich just a few minutes from the airport and finally we could take full advantage of that. With two kids, a buggy and additional sports luggage to our normal luggage, we couldn’t imagine a check-in right before the flight. With so much luggage, the train ride to the airport already seemed too tedious.

So we did the check-in at the airport one day before departure, just the two of us, while the kids were at daycare. A great decision! The check-in went smoothly.

Not everyone lives near the airport, but if at all possible, I would definitely recommend it. It makes takeoff so much more relaxing. With Edelweiss, you can check in from 23 hrs before departure and your sports luggage flies with you for free, with a few exceptions.

Packing for the whole family.

The surfboard is packed.

Off to the check-in the day before.

The flight

Then it was there, the big day. After a night with little sleep, we went to the airport early in the morning. At the train station, everyone met us in their usual busy work manner, a strange feeling.

At the airport, thanks to the previous day’s check-in, we were able to easily walk through security and straight to the gate. There, we exhausted the kids with races through the aisles so they had enough exercise before the long sit-down.

We are ready for Costa Rica!

Boarding and the flight went smoothly.

Boarding was quick and within no time we were in the air. This time in the beginning went smoothly even with the kids because everything was new and exciting.

A few days before departure we received a message from Edelweiss that our direct flight to Costa Rica would now be flown with a stopover in the Dominican Republic. We were a bit disappointed, as we had placed a lot of value on the direct flight.

As it turned out, though, that wasn’t so bad, as after 10 hours it was quite good for the kids to run around the airport and get rid of some energy. While they played a lot on the first flight, they slept through the onward flight from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica.

From the Dominican Republic they continue to Costa Rica.

EcoMax with Edelweiss

For the long flight we booked the class EcoMax with Edelweiss. The criterion was 10 cm more extra legroom and 5 cm more recline angle at the seat.

A wise decision. I would treat myself to this luxury with Edelweiss again anytime, as it does make the flight very comfortable.

For the children it is super practical, as they can simply squat down on the floor in front of the seat and thus also use their seat as a table to play on. Also, food is available earlier in the EcoMax and it is smaller with a separated area, making it quieter.

The food can be chosen and reserved among many options. There is an extra kids menu for the little ones. I was a little nervous before the long flight. Would the kids do well? Would they (or I) get impatient? Are they too loud? Fortunately, we were surrounded by easy-going fellow passengers who even played with the kids, and they ultimately handled the flight super well. This is also thanks to the understanding flight attendants, who were always very accommodating to us.

Extra space in the EcoMax.

In the EcoMax there is 10 cm more legroom.

Plenty of space and well occupied in the EcoMax from Edelweiss.




entry in Costa Rica a valid passport is necessary and today additionally the Pase de Salud. With this the entry is already done and normally one is granted 90 days in the country.

We were not the only flight that landed at this time. Accordingly, many people have crowded in front of the entry control. The waiting time was about two hours.

Traveling with children is time-consuming and can also be tedious. However, in this situation it is definitely an advantage as we are given priority. It only took a few minutes for the ground staff to escort us directly to an extra counter where we could bypass the wait and enter directly. While it took a little longer for the other passengers, entry was quick for us. For this, they did not have to watch children for 10 hours….

Entering Costa Rica.

Collecting luggage at the airport in San José.

ConclusionThanks to

good preparation and a pleasant flight, we managed the whole trip well. For us it was the first long distance flight with two small children. And I am positively surprised how pleasant it was.

All fellow passengers and cabin crew were super nice and attentive and by traveling in Edelweiss’ EcoMax class, we had plenty of room to play.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be prioritized as a family with young children, especially regarding passport control in Costa Rica. Immigration was quick and smooth.

Now we are ready for a new life, new experiences, new people and a lot of inspiration for our life path.

Are you also traveling to Costa Rica in the near future?

Disclaimer: Edelweiss invited us on this flight. There is of course no obligation to report positively or anything like that. This article reflects our opinion and experience.

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Long-term trip as a family: the preparation

If you are traveling with your family for a longer period of time, you have to take care of a few things. What administrative formalities need to be taken care of? Which little things should not be forgotten? Here’s the list!

We decided to go on a trip with two small children. We deregistered in Switzerland and rented out our apartment. Actually, this is not such a big deal. Still, everything has to be done first.

We kept some lists and felt with every item we did, three more were added. Here I would like to give you an overview of what there is to do. If you also want to venture on such an adventure, this will give you a reference of what not to forget.

Our requirements are: A family with two small children, living in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland, deregistration from Switzerland, travel for one and a half years, residence address unknown in advance.

This may be important, as certain things in Switzerland are regulated differently from canton to canton.


Basically you have to ask yourself if you want to quit your apartment or if you want to go back there after your return.

I have already once made a world trip of one and a half years. At that time I was single and had no children. It was clear to me that I didn’t want to go back to the same place when I came home. I also wanted to be free of all ballast and not have to deal with any housing issues from Switzerland. When I came back home, I lived with my mother for a few months until I found a suitable shared apartment.

With a family, of course, the whole thing looks different. We don’t know when we will be back. We expect it to be a year and a half, maybe sooner, maybe later. But when we come back, we don’t want to have to look for an apartment in Zurich. That’s an exhausting act even under the best of circumstances. And homeless with two kids just doesn’t work. In addition, we have a great apartment with good conditions, to which we would like to return.

You see, the conditions in my two long trips could not be more different. In the current case, we have decided that we will sublet our apartment. In this case there is the following to consider:

  • Ask the landlord/landlady if subletting is allowed. According to Swiss law this is guaranteed, read up on it best at the tenants association. This is rather a nice advance notice to the landlord, which you can “disguise” as a request.
  • Subtenant:in search. Advertisements on social media platforms have brought us nothing, but were rather tedious. Finally, we placed an ad on, where we found several potential subtenants, from which we were finally even allowed to choose.
  • Submit the application for subletting to the landlord, who signs the application.
  • Fill out the move-in/move-out notification (Canton of Zurich).
  • Draw up the sublease agreement (templates are available from the rental association, Comparis, etc.).
  • Open a rent deposit together with the subtenant.

Finding a subtenant can take a few weeks or more.r even take months. For this reason, I recommend tackling this step first.

Putting away and clearing out

Even with kids, we tend to live a minimalist lifestyle. We only have a few clothes, the kids don’t have a room overflowing with toys and our household equipment is also manageable. But even in this case, you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work involved in organizing the move/storage, cleaning and tidying and packing for the whole family. Even though it’s basically little, it still has to be done first.

Of course, it’s a perfect opportunity to clean everything out and get an overview of your possessions. We sublet our apartment furnished, which is perfect. Almost everything could stay in the apartment, only the very personal things as well as the children’s stuff had to go. In our case, it all fit in our basement compartment and we didn’t have to rent a storage unit. In addition, we gave away or borrowed a lot of things so we would have to store as little as possible.

Everything needs to be cleaned out and stored in the basement.


Deregistration from Switzerland yes or no? There are some reasons for and against. In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves. Many municipalities stipulate that you must deregister if you stay abroad for longer than 6 months. There are the following points to consider:

  • Tax liability
  • compulsory education
  • Military obligation
  • Residence status, if you are living in Switzerland with a B or C permit

We opted for deregistration and deregistered at the district office in Zurich 30 days before our departure. We had to appear in person and present our settlement/residence permit. With the deregistration we received a corresponding confirmation.

We deregister from Switzerland.


The district office (so called in Zurich, otherwise it is called the residents’ registration office or similar) takes over the notification of departure to the tax authorities. They will send you a final tax return, which you must fill out from the beginning of the year until your departure date. In addition, all outstanding tax claims must be paid before departure.

Digitize and redirect mail

With PEAX we have found a good solution to continue receiving our mail. It is scanned and placed in the digital mailbox. We are notified by e-mail as soon as mail arrives.

For this purpose, a redirection has to be deposited with the post office. And for mail that cannot be digitized (e.g. credit cards, PINs, etc.) you still have to leave an address of friends or family at PEAX, to which such non-digitizable mail will be forwarded.

Health insurance

The topic health insurance is very extensive and fills a separate article. It depends on whether you deregister from Switzerland, stay registered and also a little bit on the goodwill of your Swiss health insurance.

Officially, the Swiss health insurance company only has to let you out if you register a new residence abroad, a deregistration from Switzerland is not officially sufficient. Furthermore, some health insurances abroad have requirements regarding the place of residence you have to have in order to take out an insurance policy with them. At the end we ended up with BDAE (affiliate link) and felt very well advised here.

Liability insurance

Your liability insurance is usually valid worldwide. However, most insurances require that you have a residence in the country.

It is worthwhile to ask directly and to talk to the consultant. Since we deregistered from Switzerland, we canceled our liability insurance with the Swiss provider and took out a new insurance via Dr. Walter at Mailo.

The prerequisite for this is a German address (no residence) as well as a German bank account, all of which we meet. The whole thing is done through the organization Deutsche im Ausland (Germans Abroad) and this is where the insurance can be taken out.

Household insurance

We rent our apartment furnished under. Since most of our stuff is stored in the basement and the rest stays in the apartment, we also keep our household insurance.

Compulsory school attendance

Our children are not yet of school age, so this issue is not too important for us. We cancelled the contracts with the daycare center in time and the matter was settled for us.

For school-age children, there is the option of teaching them on the road by themselves, enrolling them in another school, being a free learner on the road, or solutions like school in a suitcase.

This is also a matter that is regulated cantonally in Switzerland. As a rule, you have to submit a request for a leave of absence to the respective school. In the case of deregistration, the situation may be different. In any case, we recommend an early research.

Credit Cards

Credit cards for traveling is an extensive topic, about which there will be more on the blog soon.

Basically, we cover our expenses on the road with the Mastercard from NEON(enter the code “Rapunzel” when registering and we both receive CHF 10.00 as a bonus! *affiliate link), Revolut and the crypto credit card from

Additionally, we have backup cards from DKB and PostFinance.

It is important to check until when the credit cards are valid. Of course, it wouldn’t be very beneficial if you need a new card when you’re on the road.

Enter the code “Rapunzel” and we will both get CHF 10.00 credit!

Medical checkups

Before we left, we treated ourselves to the full program and had all the usual check-ups, most of which would have been due soon anyway: Gynecologist, dental hygiene with dental check, eye test, check of birthmarks and children’s examinations.

It costs a lot of money for the whole family, but we do not save on health. That is why we put great emphasis on it.

This is also a good time to check your vaccination status, if necessary to refresh vaccinations or – depending on the country of travel – to carry out supplementary vaccinations (yellow fever, rabies, etc.). Note that for some vaccinations you need to observe a certain time interval. If you don’t want to be re-vaccinated on your trip, take care of it early.

On the road we are prepared for minor incidents.

Cell phone

In Switzerland we have cancelled our cell phone contracts.

gt. However, it is important to us that we can keep our current number. Therefore we had to buy a prepaid card in Switzerland (available at wholesalers or kiosks) and have the number ported. In many cases, this can be done online. When abroad, this makes it easy to switch to a local SIM card.



worthwhile to tackle possible cancellations as early as possible, because depending on the longer deadlines must be observed. Here is a small overview of what you can cancel:

  • Fitness subscription
  • Newspapers / Magazines
  • Sports club memberships
  • Rail tickets
  • Car sale / car insurance
  • Internet / telephone provider
  • Home delivery services (vegetable box, drinks or similar)


have digitized all our documents and records as far as possible and stored them in the cloud. This is so that we always have access to them when we are on the road and so that we can keep the flood of paper at home more manageable. But this also takes time and the effort should not be underestimated. However, once it’s done, it’s worth it.


have asked us how we do it with packing. This is probably one of the three most frequently asked questions, although we have never given it much thought. For us, this question was not a priority at all.

In the end, we got two backpacks (65 L and 55 L) and one suitcase out of the basement and packed them. For the flight we will add three backpacks of hand luggage. So we can easily take everything we need and even have some space left.

We pack a day in advance that we can do the check-in the day before.

Pre-evening check-in and baggage check


Zurich we live not far from the airport. It is only five minutes by train. We packed everything, checked in and checked luggage one day before departure while the kids were still at daycare. So we were able to get to the airport stress-free, didn’t have to stand in any line at the counter, and leisurely walked straight to the gate with the kids the next day. We would not have been able to carry everything, look at the kids and do the check-in. We also had a surfboard with us.

Check-in and luggage check-in the day before is highly recommended to make the beginning of the trip as stress-free as possible. Alone, of course, this is not absolutely necessary, but with children it is a good idea. Of course, not everyone lives right by the airport. Then there is also the possibility in Switzerland that the SBB collects the luggage and also checks it in right away.

Off to check-in the day before.

It is important to start early enough with everything. In particular, you should organize your job and apartment as early as possible, so that you don’t end up in stress. Going on a long trip as a family or even emigrating is definitely possible. Everything stands and falls with the planning.

But no matter how stressful it is, we would do it again anytime.

Do you have any questions or additions? Post them in the comments!

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A year in step with nature in Swedish Lapland – Sweden travelogue – Reisedepeschen %.

What happens to you when, for a year, you no longer live to the beat of alarm clocks, traffic lights and store opening hours? When you are surrounded by wilderness instead of asphalt and concrete? What can you learn from nature if you let yourself get involved with it, look at it, look into it? I want to find out. 2022 in Swedish Lapland.

“What beat do you live in?” This question begins my new book with the working title “Eight Seasons – Living in Time with Nature” – for which I will move to Swedish Lapland for a year on January 2, 2022.

It’s been a good year since I got an appetizer of Swedish Lapland during a four-day press trip. A morsel whose sweet and salty taste still clings to my lips. In my article “In Search of the Northern Lights” you may have already read how I never found the Northern Lights in October 2020, but something else. How within a few days I dipped a little toe into the wilderness of Lapland, but would have preferred to stop with both feet in the middle of it. Even during my short time on the ground, nature didn’t always show up photo-wise. No, on the morning of departure I drove through snow flurries and over thickly powdered roads to the Luleå airport. The flight schedule was thrown into disarray as airplane wings wanted to be de-iced, as did my emotions as we slithered toward the runway after all. Part of me had hoped I could stay a little longer. Just one more day.

That it would soon become a whole eight (!) seasons, I didn’t know then, when the white expanse of Lapland disappeared into the depths.

Happiness waits where the mud smacks

Were you also one of the people who, even during the first Corona Lockdown, were constantly tearing off into the nature outside your front door? Then we have one thing in common. Although for me, as a Hamburg resident by choice, for some time it was only the Volkspark or the Niendorfer Gehege with its fenced-in fallow deer that I could quickly reach on foot, that was enough. Every time my heels no longer clacked on the asphalt but sank into the mud, when leaves rustled around me and the sounds of engines and sirens became the background chorus, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yet I didn’t just know since the Corona era that I loved nature. I knew how good it did me, but it was only during the great restrictions that I became aware of it.

If I had always exhaled in the forests of my city, even more happened in Swedish Lapland: I breathed deeply. I absorbed every new piece of knowledge about this seemingly endless wilderness. On the very first evening I learned about Lapland’s eight seasons, and the next day about the fact that there are fish in the Baltic Sea that spawn for only a few weeks in September and October. In autumn! The season that until then I had associated with slow dying, when the trees shake off their leaves and many animals set out to fight for survival.nstimmen. When I then learned that quite a few wild animals even reach the peak of lust in autumn – which ones I reveal in the crowdfunding video – and new life emerges in the “time of decay,” I got to thinking. How much did I actually know about nature? If you love a person, you want to know them down to their deepest corners. Despite my love for nature, I had learned to love and also loathe its externals above all else. Spring & summer equals green, colorful and warm, fall & winter equals cold, dreary and to fast-forward.

After the first nature lessons in Swedish Lapland my curiosity was aroused. If I had already learned a lot from nature in just a few days and from the locals, for whom it was more than an everyday backdrop, what would happen if I spent more time there? Maybe even a whole year, of which I would spend most of the time outside – alone, with the nature-loving people, with the animals! Living in time with nature, to see, hear and feel more than what I had believed all my life as a born small-town German. What could I bring home from this, how would my relationship with nature change, how would my life?

A book project is born

As a passionate writer, I prefer to process my experiences through words on paper. “Eight Seasons,” was soon written in bold on a blank page. I was gathering ideas about what this book should be about. I didn’t give much thought to whether I would actually move to the Arctic for an entire year. As a creative person, most of my projects come about when my feet are floating in the air, and it often takes a while and gentle help to get them back on the carpet. So I sent my first thoughts to a major publisher. The surprise: they wanted to read more, a sample chapter!

In the meantime months had passed, the Corona crisis dominated the world. I was facing professional ruin as a travel journalist, stuck in a mire of health and other problems, and had checked into the darkest hole with no exit sign. The memory of four happy days in Swedish Lapland helped me catch a ray of light in the darkness for exactly two weeks. Every day I squatted on cold benches in Hamburg’s forests and jotted down thoughts about the eight seasons, about life in time with nature. Out of the darkness I wrote the first 20 pages of a new book. Sent them to the publisher. And forgot about them when I didn’t hear back and the dark hole clutched me tighter.

It was summer. Swedish Lapland had receded into the far distance in my thoughts, the necessity of digging myself up from the depths under my own steam swallowed up all my energy. At some point I remembered the eight seasons and asked the publisher. A few weeks later I received an e-mail: My idea was really interesting, they could imagine it very well as a project in the publishing house … Really? Was that really what I wanted? There was a hail of “buts” and I first went into the forest to sink the first of them in the mud.

I’m doing this now!

Maybe you feel the same way, that at the beginning of every big project you have erst once all that comes to mind, what does not work and why you should not do that under any circumstances? For me, it was questions like “What does that mean for your relationship? You can’t move away from your boyfriend for a year!” “Can you live without your beloved cats for that long?” “Won’t your mother get melancholy if she hardly sees you for a year?” “How are you going to finance that? Sweden is expensive and you’re already almost broke!” “Can you even stand it with the extreme darkness and cold in the winter?” And so on and so forth. I talked for hours with my partner and with the people closest to me. To my great surprise, most of them were more convinced of my project than I was.

“Push the will into a way,” advised a dear newspaper editor I’ve worked with for a long time. Ultimately, it was this thought that made me not only laugh, but act. Yes, a year in Swedish Lapland – that’s exactly what I wanted! And hadn’t I accomplished much of what I really wanted in life at some point? Sometimes only ten or more years later, but still. For weeks I rummaged through ads in Swedish for rental houses and apartments in Lapland, wondering who on earth would give a freelance foreigner with no fixed salary a roof over her head for a year. Sometimes I doubt that the universe reaches out to you when you want something really bad, but this time it reached out quickly: the lease for a red house 20 kilometers from the town of Kalix is signed. 300 meters from the sea. In a village of about 300 people.

“You can’t move to Lapland in the middle of winter!”, I heard objections. “Why don’t you wait until summer?” “That must be awful when it hardly gets light!” Yes, why don’t I wait until summer, why do I take the risk of getting stuck in the snow already when arriving in the Hamburg car without four-wheel drive and with all-weather tires? First of all, because I want to start the book project as soon as possible and always associate a new calendar year with new happiness. But first and foremost, because it feels right to start my year in time with nature in the deepest darkness and cold – because it was in such darkness that the project was born. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from a lot of messes, it’s that someone who has experienced blackness and cold on the inside and crawled out of it no longer needs to fear darkness and cold on the outside. For in the case of the outer darkness, nature has fortunately taken precautions: it already becomes a little lighter at the beginning of a year with each passing day.

And so I get ready. For a new journey. A journey into nature to give my life a fresh beat. Should my collection of rose-colored glasses accidentally end up in my luggage, I plan to give them away on the spot. As well as the expectation that everything will always go smoothly. It certainly won’t. And that’s okay. I’m sure I’ll freeze and curse and even scream out loud at times. But also laugh and learn. Most of all, learning. Like I’m just learning that it’s okay to do something I don’t like to do: to make a little un

support. Your support for my annual project, in return for which I would like to offer you, among other things, video and photo insights into a life in step with nature in Swedish Lapland. And stories. In the end a book. If you like and can, I’m incredibly grateful for any little help. And if not, I’m still happy if you will follow my project in 2022.

P.S. If you’re interested, feel free to become part of my Swedish Lapland community on Facebook.

The post A year in step with nature in Swedish Lapland appeared first on Reisedepeschen.

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Visit to Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica

The small national park is one of the most famous in the country. Is it worth a visit? What is there to look out for? We have tested it.

On our Costa Rica trip we are based in Uvita, where we live for almost two months. Uvita is only 50 minutes away from the Manuel Antonio National Park – of course we make a side trip.

In Costa Rica there is a national park on every corner. Even our home in Uvita is one, we live in the Marino Ballenas National Park. The Manuel Antonio National Park nearby is the best known and smallest in the country.

Jürgen has already visited the park on a previous trip and warned me what to expect: very touristy to overcrowded and anything but an adventure, but still perfect for the family because everything is easy to walk. Whether this is so true?

In the Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.


We drive 50 minutes to Quepos. The road from Quepos town to the entrance of the national park is full of restaurants and street vendors on both sides. It gets especially funny a few hundred meters before the actual entrance, where there is an official parking lot.

All kinds of guys dressed up as rangers and guides want to stop the car and try to get a parking space. Partly they stand in the middle of the streets and wave wildly around. Anyone who doesn’t know that this is a rip-off would probably stop in good faith and follow them. But the scam is just brazen, to offer unsuspecting tourists completely overpriced and distant parking spaces. So a bit I find the whole fuss even funny, also because so much zeal behind it.

For the official parking lot you just drive to the end of the road. There you will be sent back through a traffic circle, but that’s where you can park. For 4000 colones you can leave your car for the duration of your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park. From here it is only a short walk to the entrance of the national park. Of course there are also buses that go to the entrance.

Parking lot with a view.

Entrance, Guides and Prices

Entrance tickets must be purchased online in advance and cost (as of November 2021) $16 for adults and $5 for children between the ages of two and twelve. Luggage is checked at the entrance, as no plastic or food is allowed. Water, e.g. in metal bottles, may be taken into the park.

On the way to the entrance of the national park.

Tickets must be booked online.

When booking the ticket you have to decide if you want a guided tour or if you want to explore the park by yourself. We decided that we would explore the national park on our own. But there is the possibility of a guided tour and different packages. Almost everything is possible.

A guide can show you many animals that you will miss on your own. Our eyes are just too bad to spot the many animals in the jungle. Besides, they know a lot about flora and fauna.

But with kids we need maximum flexibility and want to be able to get out quickly if things get cranky. And really most people book a guide, so you can always see from the crowds under the trees where the nextste sloth hangs…

For these reasons we decided against booking a guide and walked around ourselves.

We explore the Manuel Antonio National Park by ourselves.

In the National Park

Right after the ticket booth there is a big map showing the trails in Manuel Antonio National Park. We first walk to Playa Espadilla Sur, there along the beach, a short way to Playa Manuel Antonio and back via the Sendero Perezoso (sloth trail). It’s not a long walk, but with a food stop and two toddlers, we’ll be on the road for about two hours.

Possible routes in Manuel Antonio National Park.

The trail starts super developed with a boardwalk that is easy to walk on. It is not a problem with stroller and toddlers. The beach Espadilla Sur is located in an idyllic bay where we already see a sloth (from far away) and many lizards.

The paths are easy to walk even with a buggy.

At the latest when we arrive at the viewpoint at Manuel Antonio beach, it is teeming with monkeys. They shimmy along the trees and like to steal food from careless visitors. And they are successful with it, because this beach is really well visited. But especially for the children it is great that we can experience the animals so close.

A little further from the beach there is a kiosk with snacks and drinks. Don’t expect gourmet food here, but it’s certainly enough for an ice cream.

Espadilla Sur, simply beautiful.

Everywhere we meet different lizards.

Espadillas Sur, a beautiful beach in the national park.

At this point there is the possibility to walk to other lookout towers. Most people, including us, do not do that. With the children it is too far and too hot for us. Without children I would do it in any case, just because there are less tourists on the way.

We walk back along the path “Sendero Perezoso”, which is easily passable with a buggy. On the way we meet howler monkeys, lizards and crabs.

Note on the number of tourists: Manuel Antonio Park is very touristy and can be described as overcrowded. You don’t see many people in these pictures because when we were there, the crowds were actually contained. We were there in November 2021, still in the rainy season and on a weekday. In high season, people are standing around on each other’s feet here.

There are numerous monkeys to be discovered.

Sometimes they stand almost model.

The Manuel Antonio beach.

There is also a lot of flora to discover.


Manuel Antonio National Park is a pretty park and worth visiting if you haven’t seen monkeys, sloths and iguanas that often. If it’s one of your first trips to Central America or to a park in the jungle, you’ll do well here. It is also a good fit for families with young children.

There are plenty of sloths to see in the national park – and not just on signs.

For those looking for an adventure, there are certainly more exciting and less crowded national parks. In that case, a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park is not a must. It is beautiful, yes, but not a must.

Preferences and tastes are always different. There are people who love this park, which is totally ok. We find: The par

k is a great place to visit, but not a must on a Costa Rica trip.

Are you looking for more inspiration for your Costa Rica trip? I’ve been there a few times and have written about it.

What do you think about Manuel Antonio National Park?

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Helsinki – Finland travelogue – Reiseepeschen

What does sunset mean in Finnish? Helsinki.

Actually, sunset in Finnish means auringonlasku, but Helsinki is beautiful and worth a trip.


At just before six in the morning, the night train* arrives in Helsinki. Not only we, but also the whole city seems to be still sleepy. Not a single store or café is open at this hour, and the streets are quiet. So we have the city almost to ourselves.

Fortunately, we could already put the suitcases in the luggage room of our hotel. We chose the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel this time because both the train station and the city center are nearby. Helsinki also offers some hostels, for example CheapSleepHostel, Eurohostel or the island hostel Suomenlinna.

Walking around the capital

Thanks to the early morning hours, we have the pleasure and time to move around the city quite intuitively. This is easier in Helsinki than we thought, because the city center can be easily explored on foot. Not only can you get a first impression, but you can also check out the most important sightseeing spots here at the same time.

The buildings correspond to different styles, including classicism (especially around the Senate Square) and functionalism. Art Nouveau is also strongly represented. If you let your eyes wander a bit, you will discover something new at every corner. From November on, the streets sparkle in the cozy glow of the fairy lights.

Helsinki is impressive and never gets boring. Nevertheless, I did not perceive the city as hectic or oppressive, as is perhaps the case with other city trips.

Sightseeing at a glance

While strolling around the capital, you will relatively soon find yourself at Senate Square , which was designed by Carl Ludwig Engel. Just like the Helsinki Cathedral, which is located in the north of the square and is reminiscent of St. Petersburg. If you look up the many steps to the cathedral, you will hardly wonder why this magnificent and yet simple building is the landmark of the city.

Admittedly, the Uspenski Cathedral is a competitor. From here it is not far to the Estates House, the modern University Library and the National Library. The Ateneum Art Museum and the Esplanadi Park and the adjoining promenade are also nearby.

My recommendation is also the Design Museum, because here you get again a whole new perspective on Finnish history, entrepreneurs and innovations. Did you know? Well-known brands and inventions such as the Ball Chair, Angry Birds and not to forget Nokia cell phones and Fiskars scissors come from Finland.

But why exactly is Helsinki one of the most livable cities in the world?

I think it’s the mixture that makes it. Architecturally, the city has a lot to offer, and culinary-wise, one is just spoiled. In addition, nature is not far away, despite the urban flair.

Culinary recommendations

Good food may not be missing of course. I like to visit places that even locals love, TripAdvisor recommends or may seem quite inconspicuous at first. Therefore, here are my personal gastronomic highlights;

hip and international places

Whether brunch or a trendy lunch, you can have a good time at Green Hippo Cafe. The restaurant is not located directly in the city center, but the ambience invites you to stay longer and the menu also offers some vegetarian dishes.

Café Lov – the German Place is a bit more centrally located. A stone’s throw from Senatsplatz, it offers a wide selection of hearty tarte flambée.

Absolute taste explosion also in the new world asian cuisine style expects the guests of the restaurant Hills Dumplings.

Finnish cuisine

For traditional food, the Markthalle am Südhafen is extremely well suited – the “creamy salmon soup” or/ and a “munkki” are not to be missed here (munkki = Finnish doughnut, not to be confused with the mökki = typical summer hut in Finland). The restaurant Harald also offers typical Finnish dishes in a rustic ambience.

Desserts and Café

If you like it a little sweeter, you should make a detour to the Fazer Cafe , Finland’s largest chocolate factory and also a Bakery and Bistro.

The Ihana Kahvila Baari café promises an absolute living room atmosphere over chocolate brownies with vanilla sauce and blueberries.

Someone who wants to escape the big city a bit for a dessert or grilled sausages at sunset can pay a visit to Cafe Regatta.

Off to the island: Soumenlinna!

Speaking of getting out of the city; it’s not for nothing that Helsinki is located on the Finnish sea bosom. Especially when the weather is nice, the half-day trip to the island of Suomenlinna is highly recommended. From the southern harbor, it goes by ferry across the sea.

After about 30 minutes of driving we reach the island. The green hills and the small coastal paths of Kustaanmiekka, the bastion and former Russian defense line with sea view are unique. Here and there, wooden steps lead down to small stretches of beach or flat rocks that serve as our sunbed, lapped by the gentle waves of passing boats. Rough cobblestone paths lead through the interior of the colorful little town and the island can be easily explored within an extended walk.

Suomenlinna is thus a romantic little island, which is somewhat reminiscent of the home of the Teletubbies due to hilly landscapes and is a place to relax, especially in pleasant temperatures.

Cocktails above the rooftops and sauna by the sea

Let the evening fade away in Helsinki; the choice is large. Because there are a variety of clubs, bars and events. For example, another highlight of this trip was our visit rooftop bar Miami. Dancing into the night on the open-air dance floor on the 8th floor of the building, drinking (admittedly overpriced) cocktails and watching the sun go down – that’s quite something.

At that time we were additionally lucky, because after the sunset had dipped everything in a golden-orange light, fireworks were organized on the occasion of the last day of summer. Beyond that, unfortunately, I can’t currently report much about Helsinki’s nightlife. During my longest stay there were some covid measures and restrictions. As a result, our wild nights were not that wild; only a round of Coke was possible in the Irish Pub, since no alcohol was served after 9:30 p.m. and the pubs had to close at 10:00 p.m..

But the Allas Sea Pool is also a good way to spend the evening. The sauna area at the southern harbor is popular with tourists as well as many Finns. Because whether after a hard day at work, simply in between or for travelers, this place is ideal to switch off a bit and let the experiences and impressions of the past days work on you.

The warm wooden bench warms your back and from the partly glazed wall of the sauna you can watch the ships at the sea. The special thing about the Alla Sea Pool in Helsinki is that in addition to the heated outdoor pool, you can also cool off in the sea. In doing so, it’s best not to think too long. Besides freezing limbs, goosebumps and the need to gasp in shock, there is also an indescribably proud and overwhelming feeling afterwards.

Because you are actually standing on the outskirts of the Finnish capital, wrapped in a towel. With a beautiful view of the colorful buildings and the harbor.

Next door, the Sky Wheel Helsinki rotates (even this has e

ine sauna cabin – probably the most surprising place for a sauna for me) and a DJ is also on site. Despite low outdoor temperatures, not to mention the water temperature, we ventured into the ice-cold sea with anticipation of the next sauna infusion just a few meters away.



can only recommend a city break in Helsinki to everyone. I was already convinced by the city within a very short time, which is why I always plan an extra day when passing through Helsinki’s harbor, for example to Tallinn or Stockholm, in order to pay the capital another visit and I am sure I will come here again.

*Little tip on the side: contrary to what you might think, night train doesn’t automatically mean a couchette compartment, it’s just a normal train, with slightly more comfortable seats, almost twice as long arrival time and just at night.

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The last journey – in times of Corona -.

My legs lose their lightness the closer we get to the destination of our multi-day hike through the Baliem Valley. There is one more river to cross. Rapids swirl up the water under the tree trunk that serves as a makeshift bridge. Heavy rain clouds are in the air and will soon pour over us. Cicadas sound from the bushes, I listen to their buzzing and my footsteps, as in my head the orchestra of my feelings composes a melody – from the throbbing of my heart and the overlapping pulse.

In an hour, I will reach the Papuan provincial town of Wamena, log on to a very ponderous WLAN there after days of digital abstinence, and the world as I knew it will no longer be the same at that moment. This premonition creeps up on me. But when the latest information sluggishly reaches me, it overwhelms me with an unexpected force. I wish I had just kept walking, deeper and deeper into the mountains where the Danis meet the Yalis. Sometimes it pays to be uninformed – at least for peace of mind.

Suddenly, Europe closes its borders (where streams of refugees still stand), German vacationers are brought back with the greatest of effort as more and more countries close their borders or quarantine them, the Dax collapses, schools and daycare centers are closed, events are canceled, a worldwide travel warning is issued. In short, things are getting serious. A few hours remain for me to weigh up: Should I stay or go? And what does home mean to me? The unprecedented feeling of wanting to return to Germany overwhelms me. But how sensible is a return to the current Corona crisis area? Shouldn’t I rather wait for things to happen in Papua, where everything still seems more relaxed? The decision is taken from me just a few hours later. The Indonesian president is still resisting a lockdown, but the number of infected cases is rising and the health system is not prepared. The likelihood of shutting down public life hovers over us. The more crucial news, however, is that Germans will no longer be allowed to enter the country, nor will visas be issued or renewed. Yet in a few days my visa will expire. The belt of escape options is tightening. In the meantime, over 100 countries have banned or restricted entry for Germans.

At the airports in Wamena and Sentani, the temperature is measured. Health cards are distributed, a questionnaire is filled out. From now on, German citizenship is a stigma. Checking in at the next hotel is also a tough process after we put our passports on the table. The receptionist immediately pushes a disinfectant bottle over the counter and says “oh in Germany it is especially bad”. The fact that we have been far away from German soil for 3 weeks is also not heard. Whether we get a room is still in the stars, rather, after a long wait, another employee shows up who now wants to take our temperature. For the first time, I feel the downside of the otherwise cherished German passport, for the first time I feel something like discrimination – which otherwise many other Nationalities regularly experienced.

Phone calls follow in endless loops from Qatar Airways and some mails and messages. At the same time, we keep checking the news from Jakarta, Doha and Berlin. A rebooking is possible at the end, when we reach someone, but only at the actual flight price. At the same time, Qatar Airways advertises free rebookings on its social media channels. The return tickets to Germany for this week are in great demand, why not make a deal out of this situation, especially when you can calculate that Corona will probably paralyze air traffic for a long time. We are struggling a bit with our decision, barely having made it.

The longing for home diminishes the more I read through social media channels. After the wave of photos of hoarding purchases, it has now become en vogue to post pictures of people in parks with a finger pointing – no matter if there are large groups or even just two people on it. The message remains the same #stayFUCKINGathome – I’m limiting myself in solidarity with the most vulnerable, so please do the same! The “please” gets lost in the tone and shape of the caps most of the time after all. The tone is rough. I can’t get rid of the impression that the will to denounce and the call for restriction of liberties is growing. Solidarity is important, as is pulling together.

But is this really the way to reach the recalcitrant? Do these cautionary words even penetrate out of their own bubble – to the celebrating youth? I feel slightly uncomfortable when I think about the return. Bad times usually bring people’s bad qualities to the surface. They can strengthen togetherness or evoke antagonism. What kind of society do we want to live in? And what kind of society do we live in at all? Our living together is on a test bench. Once again, the selfishness of the individual is coming to the fore alongside the enormous solidarity. And it is always the other person who is selfish.

I only observe from a distance. What happens in Germany is only conveyed to me – by other people who already select and evaluate. Maybe it’s not so bad in reality? But the quick call for a curfew from otherwise liberal people disturbs me no less than the tasteless Corona parties celebrating young people and renitents who ignore the potential danger. Merkel’s level-headed yet admonishing voice acts like a protective band-aid. More sobriety, less emotion – that’s hard in these times, it seems. The interests that need to be reconciled in order to combat the virus are diverse. While Germany is working on the challenge of implementing strict measures to combat it, life in Indonesia is still going on as normal. Mouth guards and thermometers are certainly only the harbingers of something that has long been spreading, but has not yet been grasped in its true extent.

So we also go about our lives here normally. How does it feel to know that what you are doing will no longer be possible tomorrow? Worries and fears make way for a moment for the melancholic reliving of the last times. The intense

ive experience of moments that will no longer exist carefree for an indefinite period of time. The last laps in the water, the last time sitting at the fitness machine, the last coffee in the café, the last dinner in a restaurant, the last massage, the last touch. The time horizon of 4 weeks is certainly too short, how many infected people will there be by then, can the health system cope with it all, are the first measures showing success, do we have the curve under control? And what will social life look like after Easter? When can I see my parents again? And what will isolation do to us?

Above the rooftops of Jakarta, lightning streaks the sky. The world in a state of emergency seems ghostly. The next day, queues of Europeans and Americans form at the Emirates and Qatar Airways counters at the airport. Again and again I hear the words “We actually wanted to April, but” and “rebooking”. Already in the security check and immigration they get lost. On the plane to Doha, many rows remain empty (unlike later in the packed Berlin plane). As the plane taxis onto the runway, a thoughtful silence permeates the cabin. I once experienced a similar atmosphere when a plane had to take off again on landing in Lisbon. Shock stiffness or the gentle withdrawal of air as we held our breath – as if we didn’t want to impede success with any movement. Unlike in a plane that is about to crash. In such a plane, I once experienced in the 90s how passengers snatched the alcohol bottles out of the hands of the stewardesses and everyone became a chain smoker for hours. Partying and stupefying when there is no hope of rescue.

Jakarta is losing its size and contours among us. Indonesia will soon remain only a puzzle piece in our memory – of other times. The last journey. It’s as if life as we knew it is slowly running out of steam. The shiny, plump skin contracts, exposing what remains of being beneath the surface. Shrunk to mere existing and the struggle that comes with it. The pulse flattens, the veins of society threaten to freeze. Touchdown Berlin, March 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm. The birds are chirping. Spring is a day fresh. Tenderly, nature fights its way free. A woman enters the empty S-Bahn. “You’re all crazy, what’s wrong with you?” she shouts through the empty rows. “It’s nice weather outside, no one can enjoy it anymore, everyone’s just thinking about “that” Corona!” Even in the crisis – Berlin remains true to itself


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Money, where do you come from? From wealth accumulation as a family

How do you build up assets as a family? Saving money in the bank account has not been an option for a long time. We show you how you can increase your money even with a family.

I have chosen a difficult topic here. How do you build up a fortune – or let’s start more simply – how do you increase your money when you have children? Because already here you might have a lot of negative beliefs that prevent you from doing exactly that. At least that’s how it was for me for a long time.

  • As a family you have no money, you fish from month to month.
  • Children are expensive and break the budget.
  • If you have children, you can’t save. (I didn’t even think of the word “assets”).
  • Children cost a lot of money.
  • As a family, you don’t have money left over at the end of the month.

As soon as I was pregnant, I was convinced that I would always have little money now. Because kids cost a lot of money. These beliefs were very strongly ingrained in me and I had to work on them a lot to realize that it was all bullshit. Believe me, I had some crying fits about it during pregnancy.

I’m allowed to have money, even if I have kids. I’m allowed to have a lot of money, even if I have kids. I’m even allowed to have a fortune, even if I have kids.

There, now it’s out.

Yes. I have completely changed and adjusted my mindset regarding money and family. Because without the appropriate thinking, I hardly get to have a fortune. But the work with myself, my thoughts, goes on and on.

Money. Not good, not bad. Just energy.

Now when you first hear about Money Mindset, you may dismiss it as mumbo jumbo. I don’t blame you. But believe me, it changed everything for me. Really everything. I started to trust myself, to invest and to increase my money. All by myself, without bank advisors or asset managers.

You can find more inspiration for your money mindset here.

If I may give you a tip: Work on your money mindset and read at least three of the books I suggested. It’s worth it. Really.

Family Finances

Jürgen has read many of the books as well, and we’ve been down this road together. Fortunately, because in a two-person relationship, it takes both of you. But here we are again at another topic, because normally the man has the sovereignty over the finances, resp. he has the nose in front when it comes to the knowledge about financial transactions.

Women, please, please, please take the finances into your own hands and don’t just leave it to your husband. No, he can’t do it any better and no, he doesn’t have a godsend for it either. Surveys show that on average, women are more successful at investing than men. So, woman, go for it.

But now we’re talking about building wealth as a family, and I’m assuming you want specific tips. First of all, I can’t tell you what to do, how much to invest in what, or what to save. I don’t know your starting point and the ability to know that is something you have to acquire on your own. I know that’s not what you might want to hear, but there’s no way around it. Because as I explained in the article Investing fAs I have written before for beginners, you must always know what you are investing in. Otherwise it can go wrong.

What I can give you

I can give you an overview of what you could invest in and where you can get further information. Of course, everything depends on the current situation of your family finances, but I assume here that you have something left to invest.

This can be as little as 50 CHF per month. Of course it would be nice if you can invest 500 CHF per month or even better 1000 or more CHF. I am aware that this is not possible for everyone and that is not a bad thing. You can also build up a fortune with much smaller amounts. The main thing is that you find a suitable asset class and save it.

Of course, there is a very wide range of things you can invest in. I always find new opportunities and worthwhile investments. But here I would like to give you a brief overview of common opportunities, with which you can deal in depth, depending on your interests. All these ways of saving or investing we do ourselves.

Saving – the outdated model

Let’s start with the simplest one: the traditional money saving. It makes sense to track your income and expenses and take inventory of your assets. After that, it’s best to create a savings plan and withdraw this amount directly to your savings account every time you receive a paycheck. This sum is then really saved and not touched – in any case.

For emergencies you can save a nest egg. I define an emergency as an unplanned absence from work, for example. You can calculate for yourself how much this nest egg needs to be and what makes sense for you. I feel comfortable having my average monthly income times three set aside.

We all know that saving on the bank account is not going anywhere nowadays. You can only smile about interest rates and be happy if you don’t have to pay negative interest. In addition, due to the ever-increasing inflation, pure saving no longer makes sense and over the years you even lose money with it. So you have to invest your money somewhere and increase it this way.

On the subject of saving as a family there are already a lot of tips here:

ETFs – a simple and popular way

In recent years, ETFs have become super popular. The exchange-traded index funds track a corresponding market and let you participate in a large number of companies.

Depending on your preferences, you can invest and participate in specific countries, territories, industries or indices. The hurdles are small, you don’t need in-depth knowledge of the industry and thanks to neo-brokers you can do it all at low cost.

For us too, investing in ETFs was one of the first steps in how we set up our family wealth. Simple, quick and makes a lot of sense with a long investment horizon.

You can already find a more detailed discussion of ETFs here on the blog.

In this article, I’ve explained exactly how you invest in them and which ETFs we hold as a family.

Individual shares – the traditional way

With ETFs, you’re already investing in stocks, but unThis is not the case when you buy individual shares directly from a company. With individual shares you can participate directly in the success of a company.

Buy and Hold or Dividend Strategy

A sensible strategy in this respect isbuy and hold, i.e. buy a share (or shares) and hold it as long as possible until you sell it. Depending on the stock and the company, you can also profit from dividends. The so called dividend strategy is also a way how you can generate cash flow and get paid out by the companies every now and then.

In this case it is important that you can make a fundamental analysis of the company. Is the company healthy? How is it growing? What are the projections for the future? How does it stand in the competition? When you buy stocks, you should not do it blindly, but also study the company.

If you buy individual shares, it makes sense to invest in companies that appeal to you. What do you stand behind? Which companies bring you added value? For example, I wouldn’t buy shares in Coca Cola or McDonalds because I just can’t get behind them. For others, it’s not so important.

The buy and hold strategy is also practical for those who don’t want to deal with the stock market or its investments on a daily or weekly basis.

Swing Trades

Another strategy isswing trades. This means that you buy stocks at a low cost price and sell them again when they have risen certain percentages. In this case it makes sense that you are familiar with charting techniques and can read indicators.

With this strategy, however, you have to deal more with the stock market and also spend a little more time on it. Depending on the time horizon you calculate, you have to check weekly or even daily how the market is developing.

What sounds complicated at first is not witchcraft. And it is fun to deal with it and a whole new world opens up to you.

Chart technique – a new world.

Options – the trade with futures transactions

Another possibility is options trading. This is a bit more complicated than purely buying or selling shares, but in the basics is not so different. After all, you buy or sell options on certain stocks or indices and trade with probabilities. Please do not confuse options with warrants.

If you are interested in options trading, we recommend that you study it in detail beforehand. It is best to attend a seminar or a training course that deals with it, so that you get an overview. If you want to tackle the topic on your own, you will have to invest countless hours to get an overview at all.

With the appropriate background knowledge, you can make a significant contribution to the family budget with options. There are different strategies how you can act with puts or calls and the possibilities that open up to you are almost endless.

Cryptocurrencies – The future is here

Finally, we come to my

favorite investment option: cryptocurrencies. But what is it exactly? Digital currencies are stored on a blockchain and can be bought, sold or exchanged. There is no bank or institution behind this, unlike fiat currencies, because cryptocurrencies are decentralized. This in all possible brevity to explain.

Why you should start with BitcoinIf

you don

‘t have any prior knowledge regarding cryptos, I think it makes sense for you to learn about Bitcoin first. The best known and “biggest” cryptocurrency already presents you with its own challenges and the learnings are so great that you can leave out the Altcoins (that’s what all other cryptos are called) for now. Otherwise, all this can quickly become too much and too confusing.

Bitcoin is a great invention and has the potential to completely change our monetary system. Whoever starts to deal with it can fall deep into the “Rabbit Hole” and come out with a completely different world view. This is not meant to be a warning, but rather an encouragement. There is a vast amount to discover in this cosmos.

Also, when investing in Bitcoin, it is important – as always – that you understand why and what you are investing in. While this is easier to understand with real estate, for example, it can be a challenge with Bitcoin. However, it is worth taking on.

Either way, I think it makes sense to make a savings plan on Bitcoins (possible with Relai or Bison, for example) or make a one-time deposit and hold it for at least one to two years or longer. Avoid trading, bots and the like unless you have built up a very in-depth knowledge. Btw, even if you have this, hodln beats trading almost always in returns….

If you want to sign up with Relai, you can do so with the code REL37908. You need to download the app. This way you pay 0.5% lower transaction fees and I get 0.5% of the invested amount.

If you want to sign up with Bison, you can do it through this link. With the code m3wds2 we will both receive 15 euros in Bitcoin.*

*These are both affiliate links, which we both benefit from. We work with Relai and Bison and can recommend these two apps without a doubt, for easy investing in Bitcoins.

Other optionsIn the

cryptocurrency cosmos, there are many other ways to invest money and build wealth. You can do staking with your coins, buy NFTs, trade options and much more.

When it comes to cryptocurrencies, one thing is especially true: Do your own research! Don’t believe anyone, build knowledge, compare opinions and don’t believe any promises of returns. Don’t fall for anyone and don’t trust your money to anyone. Otherwise it is guaranteed gone.

I have completely changed my attitude towards money. Today I like money.

These are five different ways you can build wealth as a family. Some of these ways are easier than others….

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