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Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

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Travel Highlights 2013: From A like Andalucia to Z like Zollverein

Creative Travel, Gourmet Travel, Austria, Travel With Locals, Germany, Worldwide, City Travel, Denmark, Europe, Spain, Travel Blog , , , , , , 0

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Travelling and immersing oneself in foreign cultures: A daunting thought to some, while others consider it second nature. Being of the latter, I personally find it very hard to understand that some people plan their annual holiday trip according to a random price in a magazine. “The all-inclusive deal to Spain is € 150,- less than the one to Turkey? Okay then, let’s go to Spain”. I really don’t care, is what the message here is. Just give me some sunshine and a beach!

While there is nothing wrong with sunshine and beaches, it is absolutely UNIMAGINABLE for me, though, that a travel decision has nothing to do with the people living in the city or destination. After all, it is them (and their often touching and beautiful stories) that make up a country, a culture, a destination – at least for me. The first thing I think about when travelling to a new area or city is this: “Where and how can I meet the local people, Couchsurfing or else?” If you visit a city or destination for the first time (and prefer a hotel over couchsurfing), I recommend you to get in touch with a Greeter: Local people who show “their” Paris or Buenos Aires, as I experienced earlier this year for instance. On a Greeter tour, you go on a free city tour with a local which is totally exclusive and very individual: Travelling at its best, I believe.

Gewusst wie: Einheimische "Greeter" weisen einem unterwegs den Weg - auch bis in entlegene Fernreiseziele wie das am Ende der Welt gelegene Ushuaia in Südpatagonien, ca. 3.000 km von Buenos Aires entfernt.

Go local with a “Greeter” around the world: They know where to go and what to do, even in remote places of this planet such as Ushuaia in southern Patagonia, some 3.000 kilometres south of Buenos Aires.

Nicht ganz so weit weg, dafür mindestens ebenso intim ging es dieses Jahr in Österreich zur Sache ... Hier beim traditionellen Salzstangerl-Backen inmitten von Herta's gutburgenländischer Küche der Pension Sunnseit'n.

Not as far from home, yet just as intimate, is what we explore here during a creative baking lesson at Herta’s “Sunnseit’n” guesthouse in central Burgenland, learning how to prepare typical local Salzstangerl bakery.

Wichtig(st)es Reisethema: Die Freundschaften. "Happiness is only truly lived when shared" fällt mir dazu ein: Was wären meine ganzen Reisen in diesem Jahr ohne die vielen lieben Freunde, Familie & Reiseblogger-KollegInnen gewesen? Hier beim sonnigen Spaziergang durch das steirische Altaussee.

Important when travelling: Friends & family. “Happiness is only truly lived when shared” is what comes to my mind. After all, what would my travels have been like this year were it not for the sweet company of like-minded friends, family and other travel writers? Here we are, gathering for a local tour in Altaussee district, Styria.


Highlights on the road: Quo vadis, “Creativelena” … ?

Well then, dear readers. I will let you in about my magic year 2013. Andalucia is just as beautiful as the cliché – only better in real life. Buenos Aires offers a bustling, colourful city visit. Chile pulls at your every heart string – from its far north in San Pedro de Atacama down to its very south, trekking in Torres del Paine. Denmark welcomes us to one of the largest music festivals ever – 100.000 people celebrate in Roskilde each year! France is what it is, both heavenly and divine – let me tell you how the Grande Nation truly lives and dines! And then there is … our visit to the Austrian gourmet capital city Graz and Ireland, the island of the (Guinness) blessed. I even made it as far as “Z like Zeche Zollverein” this year: My UNESCO World Heritage trip in Germany has been gorgeous, both in terms of cultural sights as well as all the warm-hearted people I met.

Anything else?

Well, yes. Actually, I have almost spent 2013 travelling. Crazy! Sort of on the way, I discovered  my hack at nude painting, survived falling off a horse in Argentina and fell in love not only with the magic landscapes during our Balticdiscovery” trip in May this year …! 😉 Want to know more? Then check this out.

(M)Ein Sinnbild des Unterwegs-Sein, wie hier beim Erklimmen der Wanderdüne von Bolonia, Provinz Cádiz, Südspanien.

My image of being on the move: Climbing up the shifting sands of Bolonia Dune, in Cádiz province, Southern Spain.

Dazu farblich passend im Kontrast: Leuchtend rote Äpfel während unserer "Gans Burgenland"-Tournee im Herbst.

Colourful contrast: Picking fresh apples & pears while touring Burgenland in Austria this autumn.

Auch im Burgenland, bin ich von diesem Pferd jedoch nicht  gestürzt ... Mein Trauma hab' ich damit wohl überwunden?!

Also in Burgenland, this horse did not make me fall off … Proof that I have overcome my trauma alright?!

Zwar kein Aktbild, aber doch ganz die stolze Künstlerin: Bei den Kreativwochen in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee habe ich mich heuer so richtig kreativ ausgetobt!

My nude painting only happened a day after this picture was taken, but you get a feeling for the proud, creative traveller I am: Painting away happily at the creative holiday destination in Altenmarkt, Salzburg.

Kreativ ist, wie ich finde, auch dieser "glühende" Stiegenaufgang im Welt-Industrieerbe Zeche Zollverein. Die gesamte Anlage hat mich wirklich beeindruckt und ist definitiv einen Besuch wert, wenn Ihr in der Nähe von Köln oder Essen seid.

Also creative in its modern interpretation: The “Zollverein” Industrial World Heritage complex near the city of Essen in Germany. Do visit – you will not regret it. Definitely a highlight!

Eines meiner liebsten Reisefotos der gesamten #Balticdiscovery, ist es mir hier gelungen, nichtssehend gegen die Sonne diesen zauberhaften Moment segelnder Freiheit einzufangen. Enjoy ...

One of my most favourite travel photographs taken at #Balticdiscovery in May 2013 … If this picture does not make you want to fall in love, then I don’t know what does it for you. 😉

Lustig war's natürlich auch mit den Kollegen & Freundinnen, die (ganz) ähnlich denken - unterwegs auf Entdeckungsreise in der Wachau Welterbelandschaft in Niederösterreich.

A good deal of the fun we have had this year came from the fact of mostly moving with fellow, like-minded travellers and friends – such as our happy congregation of travel writers from England, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria here in Wachau near Krems.

Stichwort "Geschichten erzählen": Wusstet Ihr, dass meine eigene Heimatstadt Krems jährlich den längsten Marillenkuchen der Welt feiert?!

Talking about “storytelling”: Did you know that my own city Krems celebrates and bakes the world’s largest apricot cake across the entire old town each year?

So schön: Das Weitwandern entlang faszinierender Landschaften wie der des Oberen Mittelrheintals in Deutschland.

Just beautiful: My idea of a long distance hike across the hilltops of the Upper Rhine Valley, UNESCO World Heritage in Germany.

Mächtig imposant: Die Canterbury Cathedral, welche ich heuer im Sommer in England besichtigen durfte.

Another very imposing site I got to visit this year in the summer: Canterbury Cathedral in England.

Mögt Ihr Herzhaftes? "Sechs Auf Kraut" bietet die Historische Wurstkuchl in Regensburg - lukullischer Tipp des Jahres ;)

Do you enjoy a typical German Bratwurst? Here is where you should go: Head for 1000 year old “Wurstkuchl” in Regensburg – you won’t regret this tasty visit! 😀

Und schließlich: DAS FOTO DANACH !!! Ich traue mich, es zu veröffentlichen. So schlecht sehen wir für fünf Uhr morgens und 12 Stunden Durchfeiern gar nicht aus. JULIAN, NIELS, ES WAR SPITZE MIT EUCH IN ROSKILDE ZU FEIERN !!! :D

And finally: THE MORNING AFTER PICTURE! I dare to publish it: Don’t my brother and I look really very good for more than 12 hours of continuous partying at Roskilde Festival in Denmark?

"Oben" angekommen, bietet sich uns dieser spektakuläre Blick auf den Gletschersee und die Spitzen der "Torres del Paine" - ein unglaublich mächtiger und wunderschöner Ort.

Having arrived: Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is one my most favourite travel memories of this year and counts among the world’s top iconic nature sites. Must-see!

Dass Wünsche in Erfüllung gehen können, bewiesen mir 2013 zahlreiche Reisen zu den "Genießerzimmern Niederösterreichs" - so ein Genuss!

Wishes do come true – 2013 and our many visits to the Lower Austrian “Geniesserzimmer” local gourmet accommodation is proof to this fact.

Abhängen vor Ort: Die urigen Einheimischen von Vejer de la Frontera in der südspanischen Provinz Cádiz haben es mir angetan!

Hanging out with the locals: Enjoying my time with the oldies in Vejer de la Frontera, Andalucia.

Gute Tipps der Einheimischen lohnen sich: Die beste Uhrzeit kennen, um den Sonnenuntergang vom Torre Tavira in der spanischen Stadt Cádiz zu beobachten - unbezahlbar.

Following in the footsteps of the local people and knowing when exactly to climb Torre Tavira, in the city of Cádiz, to watch this beautiful sunset … priceless.


And you? What is it that impressed you the most this year? Which people have you met along the way, what have you felt, which countries have you travelled to feeling happy, excited, stunned or just fascinated? Let me know and tell me about your highlight experiences in 2013

Thank you so much for your loyalty and interest, by the way. You are the best readers one can wish for. Really! Have a great and exciting 2014: Happy New Year everyone! 😀

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Written by Elena

Fluent in seven languages, I feel naturally at ease anywhere I go. As a writer, I am happy to share the world’s travel stories as far as creative travel, foodie travel and local, sustainable travel are concerned. Thanks to my young son Liam, I am currently discovering the world anew.

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Creative cuisine in the heart of Vienna: Cooking class with Thomas Hüttl
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