Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Great Beijing Adventure: from the Hutong to the Forbidden City

Beijing hutong temple of heavenDays are moving rapidly in China and as the hours fly by, it seems that the one week long trip will only leave me wanting more. Since I haven’t got used to the local hour in Beijing, I’m currently visiting by day and writing by night, which in a way is quite nice. Although the last two sleepless nights have brought me to the point where I wasn’t able to visit “another imperial palace” today due to exhaustion, not sleeping at night does provide me with interesting Chinese TV shows…currently “China’s got talent” is playing in the background with a Chinese lady dancing on Ke$ha’s “Take it off”.

Enough about me, let’s talk about the city: Beijing has been surprisingly friendly these past two days, both in terms of weather and of (English speaking) people. We had a bright blue sky and around 20 degrees Celsius both on Thursday and on Friday, are living in one of the last remaining Hutongs of the old city (honestly don’t know if this hotel will still exist by the time we get back because of the pressure that is being put into a forced modernization and sky scraper-ization to soothe the needs of a growing population) and have great restaurants on our very small street. Plus, we reached the best Beijing roast duck according to Tripadvisor in around 15 minutes, making this first trip a “coolinary” experience by accident.

We didn’t get the chance to ride a cab because going to places by public transportation is much easier due to our location and also extremely cheap (2 quai/RMB per trip, meaning around 0,25 Euro). What we did do (and I’m very proud of it) is walk until we almost dropped. All the places you “must” visit in Beijing or to be precise, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and its gardens and the Summer Palace – that we haven’t seen yet due to my exhaustion – are HUGE. You basically walk from one courtyard into another without even realizing how much you had to move up and down and left and right. These places look like they were especially built for a population this size.

Even though I thought that the Forbidden City would impress me the most, I still can’t pick out a favourite place in Beijing, but maybe you will help me. Do you know a place aside from the Great Wall that MUST be explored in Beijing and isn’t always presented in the online tour guides you read before getting here? Please comment as fast as you can, I’m really curious about your opinion and experiences regarding the capital of China.

[Wangfujing Street and its creatures + Shanghai and its Bund will be posted anytime soon...]

The Great Beijing Adventure: on getting there in the first place

No matter how hard it might seem to plan a week long trip to East Asia or how many unfriendly tips you may hear about China, if you can get your hands on decently priced tickets, come check this country out! I’ve been here for less than 24 hours and it already feels worth the long journey we took to get here. Want to know how?

how to get to beijing cheap

Well, first of all, this trip (just like another one you probably read from me before) starts one sunny afternoon in July 2013, back when the website decided to have a small glitch in its system (a so-called error fare) that allowed me to book two tickets from Geneva-Vienna-Beijing and Beijing-Vienna for 250 Euro each. Yes, you heard it right, China was less expensive than a ticket from Vienna to my hometown Sibiu that lie about 800 km away from each other. Even if this was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, I highly suggest you check out cool deal websites such as (where I found this offer), or even my Facebook page, since we all regularly post ticket prices you wouldn’t find if you are not obsessed with booking – I am and I can gladly help you out :) .

From that point on, I had to solve some simple stuff to make my trip towards Beijing more pleasant: I got the tourist visas (60 Euro each from the Embassy in Austria, even if we are both Romanian citizens living here – we just needed our Meldezettel), the ride from Vienna to Geneva by train and a night at a lovely Airbnb in Geneva near the center of everything (totalling 85 Euro per person). I also reserved a place to stay in Beijing (which I managed to find quickly on using a system that never failed) for 5 nights and 90 Euro per person…in an interesting Hutong (old part of the city, quite close to the center). That plus what we spent in half a day in Geneva plus all the rides with buses from and to the airports plus the five hours we spent in the Viennese airport makes about 500 Euro to get a week into a country that I never thought I could have the money to visit during my student years.

Yes, I was tired upon arriving here. But believe me, living this experience makes all the fatigue go away. Once we served our first Chinese meal at a restaurant near our hotel in Beijing, the spices of a country that is so different from what we are used to kicked in. And that was just the first in a series of events we were about to witness…

[stay tuned for more]

#Wienblogger meets Startup afterthoughts and invitation

Ich verspreche euch, ich werde nie wieder so viel Zeit zwischen einem eigentlichen Wienblogger Event und den Blogpost mit Links und alles andere lassen. Wie ihr vielleicht auch auf der Eventseite lesen konntet, hatte ich ab Mitte Februar wenig bis kein Internet zur Verfügung, momentan schreibe ich euch Gedanken aus dem Flughafen Wien (danke Gratis-WLAN!) und wahrscheinlich hören wir uns wieder Ende März, wenn ich aus China zurückkehre. So, zum Artikel jetzt…

Wienblogger Februar 2014 Startup

Liebe Wienblogger, der 13. Februar war wahrscheinlich eines der tollsten Abende, die ich je vor Valentinstag erlebt habe. Ich habe mich auf euch alle sehr gefreut und fand, dass der neue Treffpunkt sich wunderbar für dieses Ereignis anbieten ließ. An dieser Stelle nochmals herzlichen Dank an Valentin und Christoph von SIMPLEWISH, die uns ins INiTS eingeladen UND bekocht haben. Das Essen war toll und wir hatten viel Spaß + außerdem haben sie viel schneller über das Event gebloggt, was mich nur freuen kann!

Wer war diesmal dabei?

Patrick Twitter Blog

Fabian Twitter Blog

Valentin Twitter Blog

Ally Blog

Jürgen Blog

Irene Blog

Cristi Twitter

Birgit Twitter Blog

Heinz Twitter

Larisa Twitter Blog

Roman Twitter

Andrea Blog

Isabella Blog

Francesca Blog

Gudrun Blog

Christoph Twitter

Adnan Blog

Stefan Blog -> schaut euch sein Buch an!

Vera Blog

and yours truly, Andra ;) .

Hier kommt die große Frage für euch: wie soll das weitergehen? Möchtet ihr, dass wir uns wieder im alten Format in einem Restaurant euer Wahl treffen, uns kennenlernen und plaudern, oder soll ich weiterhin in diese neue Richtung (sponsored meetups, wobei die Sponsoren weniger über sich erzählen und mehr uns zuhören) pushen? Es gibt ein paar Leute, die mich in diesem Sinn angesprochen haben. SIMPLEWISH würden uns zum Beispeil auf eine Art Schnitzeljagd mit Preisen einladen, wenn das für euch passt. Hauptsache: wir müssen Spaß haben. Dadurch, dass ich das selbst in meiner Freizeit organisiere und dafür nicht bezahlt werde (I only do it for the fame :P ), ist dieses Treffen ein großes xPRiment, um zu sehen was euch gefällt und wie ihr das am liebsten modellieren möchtet.

Ich freue mich auf eure Kommentare, Facebook Postings und Nachrichten dazu, bin immer offen für Kooperationen, Vorschläge und Inputs. Herzlichen Dank fürs Kommen und wir sehen uns wieder sobald ich zu diesem Artikel Feedback bekomme (und etwas in diesem Sinn organisieren kann).

Travel and tell stories about it

Beijing Great WallThe first time I ever went abroad was back in 2006, when I was 14 and freshly out of middle school. That was the year my dad managed to find the necessary cash for us to drive and visit not one, not two, but eleven countries in Europe, checking out their most famous sightseeing spots as we moved ahead. At the time, I had heard so many stories about “strainatate” (countries abroad) and knew that the chance of visiting all of them was so little, that there was no use for me to hope to see the world. We had had little to no budget of going on vacations over the past years and I was starting to get used to the fact that Bucharest would probably be my last stop on the journey towards self discovery.

Then I met Vienna. It was my glimpse of hope for a better future, for myself as well as for the ones that will arrive after me. I felt secure walking down the streets of this wonderful city, it felt like the home I never quite managed to get in my hometown of Sibiu. It was the city I needed for a start worthy of the dreams I’ve always had – and just didn’t have the courage to pursue until that age. And soon after, in 2008, after visiting Croatia and traveling back to Sibiu via Vienna, I called my father telling him that I want to study in Vienna more than anything in the world.

In 2010, we made it happen. With the help of my amazing family, I’m able to write these thoughts from one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in the world, getting ready to wrap up my studies in the field of Communication and Media. It’s 2014 and I’ve been traveling these past months more than I did in my entire life (just read the first paragraph again to see how many countries I saw in my first trip through Europe and come back here). I’m trying to remember all the places I’ve seen in 2013 and up until now, but honestly, I didn’t even get the chance to upload all the photos I’ve shot in my last 5 trips onto my computer let alone think about each experience. And that’s a shame.

Since photography is a just a hobby, but writing is my life, I really want to tell you the stories I’ve been living these years. Some are boring and need a lot of insider information to get even slightly logical, but the most of them make a lot of sense and are worthy of being written down. If somebody would have told me that I can get to NY for 300 Euro and to Beijing for 250 Euro, I would have probably laughed hard and thought that person is crazy. But look at what I’m doing now…and look at where I’m heading towards next ;) .

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