With a nomad family in Mongolia

After the wonderful time on the island, I hopped on the train again with the next destination: Mongolia. A country that had a fascinating effect on me. This time, I really wanted to dive into the culture and thought that the best way to doing so was to live with a local nomad family. An organization called nomadic ways helped me to organize such a homestay.

It was such a great experience, I loved every moment of it. I had wonderful, friendly and happy hosts. For ten days, Dulmaa and Purwee shared with me their home, a traditional yurt (the most beautiful ones of all of the yurts I’ve seen), in the Mongolian steppes. Although, we didn’t speak the same language, we soon found a way of communication – with hand, feet, gestures, body language, drawings and searching words in the german/mongolian dictionary. This was a lot of fun! 🙂

Our day-to-day was very much about taking care of the herds – sheep and goats, cattle and horses – and processing the milk and preparing food. So whenever some animals got lost we went to get them, sometimes walking long distances in the steppe or on the back seat of Dulmaa’s motorbike (that was always funny). Her husband would take the horse and sometimes take me with him to bring the cattle to the place near the yurt to milk them. As it was dry season, we had to bring them to the water hole. It was always interesting to observe the animals’ behavior – a power game.

The biggest challenge for me was probably the food and drinks…right at my arrival, we went to catch one sheep and it was killed in my honor and would be our main ingredient for the dishes during my stay. We ate every piece of it, it was always very carefully and very varied prepared. The day before I left the family, we also caught a few male sheep which immediately lost their intimate manhood and were released again…we had a doctor with us who showed me how this works…so careful guys..hahaha…apparently, this part offers plenty of vitamins…and was served in a soup during our last dinner together – vitamins, much different! 😉

Our main drink was milk tea which I liked very much. Then we had fermented mare’s milk, homemade schnapps (destilled fermented yoghourt) and Mongolian vodka that was often served when visiting neighboring (min. 1km away) yurts or when receiving visitors that came spontaneously and always found the door open and something warm to drink and eat. Great hospitality! And often, like on the weekend for example, you would go from yurt to yurt…vodka, vodka, vodka…  😉

They were a modern nomad family, after living some years in the city of Ulan Bataar, they had decided to live their life in the country side. Their kids however stayed in the city with the grandparents to enjoy the opportunities of better education. Apart from the animals (total of about 600), Dulmaa also managed the local mobile phone antenna and Purwee was helping with his mechanical engineering skills fixing cars of neighbors. They also had a solar panel that allowed us some light even after sunset. By the way, sunset was beautiful!

The ten days were so full of life and discoveries and action – so many wonderful, funny and very intense intercultural moments. I am so grateful for this unforgettable experience, grateful to Dulmaa and Purwee, you are wonderful people, I cannot thank you enough!

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Autumn on Olkhon Island (Lake Baikal)

After the 3.5 days on the train, I was ready for new adventures. I got off in Irkutsk, a city close to the shores of the Lake Baikal. It was an important city when it comes to trading, for example, the old tea route goes through this place and it can be discovered in the market. There were so many qualities and tastes of tea, in beautiful boxes (Christine, I saw some for you…but they don’t fit into my bag…) from all over the Asian continent. The city still has a lot of old traditional wooden houses, however, most of them would need investments for renovation, some of them seem to go under or have a falling roof.

Soon after arriving to the city, I went off to the Olkhon Island on the big Lake Baikal. The lake covers a surface of more than 31’000qkm – close to Switzerland’s surface – just imagine! The island is of stunning beauty, beautiful landscapes, wonderful autumn coloured forests, sandy beaches, rocks often with spiritual meanings for the shamans where they hold their rituals. Often, there was a very strong wind and some days it was already quite cold here, so I’ve put on all layers of my winter clothing already – I would say  – well prepared! I did a lot of walking and biking and the last evening, I did a banya (similar to sauna) at the beach and for cooling down I jumped into the into the lake – so nice!

Enjoy some images of the bike ride from the west to the east shore of the island:

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Transsib – from Moskow to Irkutsk

To travel on the Transsiberian Train from Moscow to Irkutsk (Lake Baikal) was lovely. For the more than 5000km it takes about 3.5 days. I was travelling second class which means sharing a compartment with another three travellers which was always interesting. Often I was joined by European tourists, but also by Russians (where the conversation was more difficult since my vocabulary of the local language was very limited).

It was very lively but also nice to travelling in the rythm of the rails and the train and to experience 3.5 days of flat surface – amazing size of the country and even more amazing – no mountains and rarely a little hill to see! 😉 But beautiful autumn forests in all colours, crossing rivers, small villages and growing cities. Hours just looking through the window, letting pass the landscapes. There was also time for reading (Claudia, I’ve read your book and it was the perfect read on this train, so thanks again), for reflections, for conversations and for coffee breaks in the board restaurant.  

I’ll take you for a few minutes to join me on my journey:…a video to follow as soon as I have resolved some technical issues…

“Ich halte mich still. Trotzdem zieht die Welt an mir vorbei.”

Berlin and Moskow

“Priwjet” from Moscow!

I have just started my first Russian language studies to hopefully soon being in a position to read the kyrillic letters and use some words in the day to day on the streets and on the train. People here have been very friendly and helpful, there was always someone who spontaneously offered his/her english knowledge and if not hand and feet and a smile helped, too 😉 Which was definitely worth a lot, I could even get tickets to the ballet. It was fantastic, moscow romance ballet accompanied by tschaikovsky music – what else?!

Moscow is definitely a megacity, everything is big and broad – buildings, streets, cars, metro stations. History and modern life are omnipresent and make it an interesting mix. At the same time it is quite straight forward to move around and find your way, it is always very lively and until late people walk in the streets or take the metro. I’ve seen some of the city attractions in these two days and will add some pictures.

Before getting to Russia, I spent some days in Berlin and Berlin area. First, I’ve met a friend in the Spreewald area, a beautiful lake and forest area and I could have a last swim in a lake and cycle through the forests before autumn weather hit Berlin. Then I checked out some places in the city – but there is soooo much to do and see…a three-day-visit is definitely to short to dive in but good enough to get a flavor and remind myself of the history again. Definitely, an interesting and inspiring place that also stimulated my philosophical side – big questions came up: What will my generation’s contribution to the world be? Or in other words, what kind of world are we creating today for tomorrow? Are we creating a peaceful world?

I had the chance to live in the home of artists and so also learned something about this scene in Berlin. All along the way, I’ve already met interesting and very friendly and open people and so it was already such a good start for my trip. Everybody encouraged me in my travel plans, how wonderful. Thanks to all the strangers who became friends or companions, even if it was for a short moment.

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Capanna Soveltra & Piatto Forte

I had the chance to work for a week in the most wonderful Capanna Soveltra and was lucky enough to be there for the first edition of a series of Piatto Forte of the Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana. The transmission will take place on September 11 at 5pm, repetition on September 12th at 11am >> Piatto Forte – Capanna Soveltra

Enjoy it!

In the meantime I also had the chance to watch the transmission and I think that Andrea and Silvana have done a really great job, I’ve also looked at the other capanna’s, isn’t it a wonderful project!?

A little bit of poetry

Sometimes I was a bit inspired out there 😉 Find some poems in its original language (I sometimes feel and think in different languages…)

1. About Nature

“It is all there, we only have to appreciate it.”

Ever taken the time to observe nature? Looked at a flower, a bee or butterfly very thoroughly? I mean really looked at it as it was something totally new to you? Isn’t it a little wonder? It is there for us to be discovered.

2. Hommage an das Wasser

Wie Adern fliesst das Wasser

über die Berghänge runter

um sich mit anderen Bächen zu einen

oder ein Seelein zu bilden

Adern des Lebens

Adern der Schöpfung

Adern der Berggötter

Wasser ist Leben.

3. El presente

Estoy en la tierra o

ya en el cielo…?!

A veces hay momentos, segundos de momentos, instantes,

donde todo se funde y queda el presente,

la magia del presente.

The lost billy goat

What is so beautiful about travelling or being on the road are definitely “Begegnungen”. Encounters. Meeting people. Experiencing nature. Crossing path with animals. Sometimes finding yourself. During the 28-hiking-days-experience I was cherished with wonderful encounters. And this time, animals definitely left an impression on me.

The lost billy goatThere was the goat. I heard it crying in the bush, I could feel it wasn’t the usual tone, no, it was as it were very sad and shouting for help. So I started talking to it and it came over to me and followed my path. We were hiking together for more than an hour. Sometimes I wanted to send it back but it wouldn’t leave me, even when crossing streets, it was just very close, close on my heels. And the billy goat seemed comfortable, to the people in cars passing by it must have been a funny picture, they smiled at us. So only when we arrived to the next village it turned out that the goat had been lost and the owner was looking for it. So happy ending, the goat could be returned to the owner 🙂

A herd of cows and sheep made me reflect on leadership…after my friendly “good morning”, the herd followed me uphill…I have to admit, for moments I felt good and for others I was scared…were they following me in a good mood or were they angry at me? How to know? And for how long will they follow me? Did they take me as their leader to the next level of the Alp? Or did they simply feel disturbed and wanted to protect their young calf…I was running uphill…just in case…finally climbing on a big rock – since no cow would make it up there – just to breath a little and see what happens and what mood they bring along…luckily, they came in peace and were happy on this next higher level up hill where they found stables too…uff…I think was not yet prepared for this kind of leadership 😉

After almost three weeks in the mountains and nature, I spent some moments in a small city. I felt like an alien…impressed it went so quickly…I was no longer a big city girl…but then the next day only, I went to a natural reserve again…and at some point, a snake crossed my path…I took a big jump back…my heart was beating fast…o dear, it was one of those poisonous snakes, the few ones we have in Switzerland…I was scared…it was the moment when I realized that I also wasn’t the female edition of Indiana Jones… 😉

I also met wonderful and inspiring people along the way. In the Capanna Barone shared the food and interesting conversations with two other guests, both dedicated to humanitarian work. In Capanna Soveltra, I was received with a good glass of wine and was invited for the polenta and to share a lovely sunday afternoon with music. The president with the guitar, the pilot with the harmonica and voices of who ever wanted to sing – it was wonderful! It was so wonderful that I did return to the hut at a later stage…I’ll tell you more about the hut in a next blog post. Capanna Soveltra

People can be so open, I was touched when they shared with me very personal stories and insights about their lives. Sometimes about how they overcame difficulties, what it changed in their lives and what really matters to them today. Sometimes just about how they approach things or value them – so it allowed me to take new perspectives on things as well. Overall, I was also very well received in all places and wherever I spent the night – that makes a real difference and I do really appreciate it. Thank you!!!

28 days hiking experience

My new journey started with a long-distance-hiking-experience in the Swiss Alps – a latent dream, awaking, to make a reality.

Until the very day to the start, I was convinced that I would do the existing route called Via Alpina from Vaduz to Montreux. However, sometimes you have to be flexible and spontaneous and change the plans last minute due to external factors. Especially in the mountains, I will have to adapt to nature, not the other way round 😉 So very poor weather conditions in combination with still snowcapped passes urged me to look for an alternative starting point.

I started in Switzerland’s so-called “Sonnenstube”, the Ticino and yes, from the first 10 days, there was only one rainy day (which in fact I very much enjoyed during an easy hike through chestnut forests, along a riverside). Every day’s march was created under my feet and brought me from the Ticino, to the Valais and finally to the Bernese Oberland.

Here a very short and more fact-based summary of the fantastic, unique experience full of most wonderful moments, joy, happiness, learnings, insights and encounters. I’ll share some stories and insights over the coming days. Check out the picture gallery >> images!  and the below summary in numbers:

  • 1 woman, 1 dream
  • 3 cantons, 3 languages
  • 5 natural protection areas/parks
  • 7 different types of accommodation (mountain hut, bnb, hotels/gasthof, villa, youth hostel, camping van, senn hut)
  • 8 days made use of a means of transport (postauto/bus, train, cablecar)
  • 20+ animals (wild and some domestic)
  • 28 days of experience (24 hiking days, 4 relaxing days)
  • 42 flowers identified
  • 111 hiking hours
  • 245 kilometers
  • 3661m highest peak during hike (Blüemlisalphorn)
  • 20’004 metres of altitude (11436 metres up, 8568 metres down)

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog ViaFranziska!

I’ve made some of you wait quite a bit for this blog to go live but now it’s ready to be discovered and read – so here we go! I am happy to share impressions, insights, thoughts, moments, stories about inspiring people and images with you from my new journey.

It is two months since my last working day at a multinational corporation and I have had a great time so far pursuing some of my dreams and dedicating time to things I love to do. I am very grateful for the opportunity to explore and discover – it is very enriching to meeting people, cultures and spending time in nature and at the same time learning more about life, human beings and finally, about myself.

Use the “follow me” button to get the latest posts to walk with me on this journey. I hope you enjoy the reading and get inspired. I also appreciate your feedback, so please feel free to comment or write me.

Many thanks for your time.

With love,

Franziska