House sitting in Spain … and good bye Vienna

 

Well, I finally arrived in Spain – as my body is here since over ten days the rest has been following now. In a beautiful old house, surrounded by a mediteranean garden with seaview – there is even a pool although the water has not seen more than my toes.

It is a nice and big house and I leave it only rarely at the moment – for groceries and to have a closer look at the sea – but mainly I am here, enjoying to have so much time to spend in the fresh air and in the sun, while finding a good rythm between gardening and house work, taking care of the cat, reading, Yoga, computer, watching films and good food.

In the following two months I want to build up my repertoire around the topics Yoga and burn-out prevention – in this lovely mediteranean winter and upcoming spring. I practice and read a lot, develop sequences and much more.

This is good for me, as I was very busy in the last weeks in Austria. To move all my stuff from Salzburg to Vienna in a knee-jerk action (two days packing, one day moving, two days storing all the stuff) has not left me without traces. And then I was suddenly not so sure, if it was the right decision to leave my nice place in Salzburg. This might connect with the fact that Vienna is not really a good place to be in January. Too grey, too dark – a time where single sun rays are the source of jubilant messages. Some say that it is not by accident, that the psychotherapy was invented in Vienna. But I deviate from the subject.

However – the apartment in Vienna is almost ready, nicely furnished and I can now dedicate my time unhurriedly to my new environment and new projects. Watch out!

Working in the hotel (4) … and why I finally left

In previous parts of this article series I wrote about the highlights of my work, had some thoughts about the joy of working and published an article about the connection between the work in a hotel and the Turkish family. To finish it (at least for the moment), I want to explain why I left this job earlier than foreseen. 

 

The happiness and satisfaction of guests is for me the main criteria during such kind of work. And even if it is turbulent behind the scenes or there are conflicts, it is necessary not to show to the guests anything about that. This is normal and I know it from my years of work in conference management. The more there are conflicts and difficulties behind the scenes, the more energy it costs you to insulate this from the guest, and – which is even more important – at a certain point the behaviour towards the guests is not authentic anymore. The famous smile,  which is not real. People notice this.

Somewhere along the way I realised, that I can transport this attitude less and less credibly towards guests, as I was too much bonded with this “background noise” – while – in the frame of burn-out prevention – I encouraged  to find a satisfying and honest approach to work.

 

And so I decided by mid September, with a heavy heart, to stop the work. For sure it was helpful that I could stay at the house of a dear working colleague and friend, so that I didn’t have to leave the country which I started to love despite all its contradictions.

Altogether I made an experience I would not want to miss. I had a great time with wonderful guests and colleagues at one of the most beautiful places of the world. I’ve learned and seen so much, like I didn’t for a long time. At the same time I am happy, that I left in time to have a positive general impression.

 

 

Vienna – colourful walk around the Danube Canal

Colourful graffitis around the Danube Canal in Vienna

 

 

I am in Vienna at the moment and I could tell a lot about this city, as I have lived here most time of my life. On the other side I tried again and again in previous years to escape  sometimes for a shorter and sometimes for a longer time. I also think there is a love-hate relation between me and Vienna- and the degree of affection is related with seasonal changes. And now I am doing something I don’t like at all –  a few weeks in winter in town. A time, where I just don’t like the city.

Maybe because there is a really high probality of a grey veil lying over the city. Far and wide no sun, and no sky – everything just grey. To contrast this with some colour is really pleasant –  for example with a walk along the Danube Canal.

Around the Schottenring (underground station) there is a lot to see. Big, colourful graffitis some legal, some illegal give the city a colourful look. And next to it, in direction of Urania the “cultural mile” Agora – a unique art project taking place every summer since 25 years. But also in winter there is a lot to see. Have a look

 

Bye Bye Getreidegasse (Salzburg) – Room with a view

After six months I am again for a few days in Salzburg – the city where I lived for the past five years, when I was not (like almost the whole last year) somewhere else travelling around. Now I say goodbye. In three weeks I will empty the appartment and I am here now with a mix of melancholy and relief.

I really loved to live here, but on the other side the habituality paralyses me. I look around in the apartment or I go out for a walk and I know everything. Also the view from my window, in my flat in the middle of the old town. There was also die idea to span a clothes line – right over the street – so that everybody can see, that there are still a few people living here. Well this can be done by my successor in the apartment.

In the meantime you can have a look at a few pictures I made directly from my window over the last years.
 

Getreidegasse

Straßenmusik

 

Straßenaktion

Schottisch

Marionettenverkäuferin

Working in the hotel (3) – the hotel and the Turkish family – a small tourism sociology side note

 

In the first part of this series of articles I wrote about the highlights of my work, in the second part about the joy of working. Today I continue with some thoughts about the Turkish family and its relevance in hotel business.

The hotel -as temporary home – is a professional led household, where all the guest wishes are fulfilled as soon as possible. In this one week of holiday, you don’t want to take care of anything – no housework. And in a house with mostly women travelling alone this is even more true.

Accordingly it is no coincidence, that hotels are often run as family businesses and many small houses live from the familiar atmosphere. I often heard from guests, that they feel safe like in a family, and the considerable amount of returning guests can be related to that. Also  the management played with  the image of the family business.

Most hotel and restaurant owners, as well as their families and employees (although the boundary is blurred) spend at least six often seven days per week in their business. This does not mean, that there is always something to do. But the presence is important – a kind of stand-by service – because whenever there is something, you have to jump. And in that way working time and leisure time are interleaved. This is very practical for the guests. Not only that there is always someone here, there is also no need to handle to many different faces, with clear persons to speak with and the feeling to be more involved in the family.

It was never easy  for me to spend leisure time in the hotel or during excursions with guests. The “guest radar” is always on – a kind of constant screening, if someone needs help. Neither holiday nor work  – in any case attention. Even when my radar was off, I was still contact person for the guest, and I did’nt like it so much to tell them I am not in charge – because I did not want anyone to wait or to search for the right person.

This experience of the “family” as business model, was despite its shady sides  enriching and valuable. Why I still left earlier than foreseen, is part of the next and last article of this series.

 

Winter at the Lycian coast

Big ships and wild light games – winter at the sea

 

Kış geldi – the winter has come. You can hear it everywhere. The last rain was really strong – and then the temperatures dropped again a few degrees.

Now make even the hardest start to use the ovens in everywhere in the small shops there are eletric heaters although I doubt about their effectiveness. Rubber boots are now an important utensil – minor floodings everywhere.

Even the forest cottage where I established myself, was affected. Suddenly there was a small stream flowing through the house – the young Auf once because a small stream flowed through – the young cat had to examine this with great amazement

It is often cold and windy – and I do not want to go out as much. But then when the sun breaks through a is a bit incredible light and cloud games and the distant view is breathtaking. The sea is wild with high waves and suddenly in all the bays there are large ships, who “park” here  to hide from  wind and weather.

Working in the hotel (2) – Kolay Gelsin – working with joy

 

 

In the first part of this serie about my time in a small turkish hotel I described my personal highlights of this period. This article focus. Today it’s about the attitude that I have tried to incorporate into my daily work.

My dear colleague D. has told me about a Turkish proverb. Kolay Gelsin – literally translated as “May it come easily.” In everyday life, this would mean something like “Keep up the good Work”. However this saying encouraged me to let the work come easy. Besides enjoying working this means for me to get into a certain workflow, where one job goes smoothly and logically to the next.

And they were there, the many beautiful moments. Not only to the activities, which I had the opportunity to accompany, but also in the hotel at the front desk, when there was just a good mood. And even with not so great activities – such as creating the transfer or cleaning lists, I came quite often in a certain flow, because I also wanted that all the guests were picked up at the right time and their rooms were ready on time. The thought of the results can therefore also provide quite joyful moments.

The ability to find joy in your work – and here especially in the service sector, and even more in tourism, is – I believe – a “stone”, which kills severals birds at a time. At first it is just a better feeling which makes you secondly more credible towards guests. When I go to work and I really like to take care of my guests, the result will be even better. And thirdly, that makes the guests more satisfied and that’s the point in the end. The circle is then closed by the fact that satisfied customers give positive feedback, and not just the staff is happy, but also the management, because regular guests bring good money with little marketing effort.

Often I have succeeded well, and the feedback from guests and colleagues have confirmed me with that. Unfortunately, there was in the hotel apart from all the good mood – not just according to my perception – a culture of grumping and moaning, characterized by low appreciation and many conflicts. To shield this from the guests, can be quite exhausting, and was in the end the reason for me move on. (but more on that in a later article).

In any case it take with me the idea to focus more on these aspects of flow and joy.  And for me, this idea also connects to a statement from the Bhagavagita, which provides, in substance, that one should do the work, but not attach to its fruits. This could be interpreted in a way that the activity itself is the value, and should be done with appropriate devotion. But I will think about it in peace during the next stage of my journey – when I go to Spain where I want to go a little deeper in my studies.

In the next part of this series of articles I am goig to continue  with reflections on hotel and family. Soon.

Working in the hotel (1) – the highlights

Coastal walk – the first highlight- Sunrise on the Bay of Adrasan

So many years I worked around this huge theme tourism – in applied research, as a project manager for education, public relations and regional development projects around the topic of social and environmental friendl tourism, and finally as an event manager for a major European conference. In parallel, always traveling a lot, experiencing with the lenses of a tourism expert- always a professional look. And yet all these years – I have always seen hotels as a guest and  never from the inside, from the side of those working in a hotel. When I got the opportunity last spring, to work in a small hotel on the Lycian coast (Turkey) and to take part in the guest services, I could not help but accept.

Finally, I worked three months in the hotel and gained an incredible amount of experience. A small selection of which I will present in a small series of articles. And the beginning – what could be more appropriate – are my personal highlights.
So many nice guests

The very best in the work was the direct contact with guests, mostly pleasant and intelligent guests. Many more women than men who came with a common desire: Once just relax for a few days only. It was always a pleasure to see the guest releasing more and more  from day to day, as they discovered the yoga, the sea, the nature, but also te contact with fellow travelers as a source of relaxation and inspiration. Many wept at parting, and said they had never relaxed so quickly and so well.

küstenwanderung

Coastal walk – later just sit and watch

First steps in burn-out prevention

I also had the opportunity make my the first steps in the field of burn-out prevention. Once a week there was a short introduction and later sometimes a mini-workshop, when there was more interest. The feedback was really positive and I was very encouraged to continue working in this direction. At the same time I also see the difficulty to deal with such a heavy topic during holidays. Many guests contacted me almost apologetically, pointing out that they actually desperately need input in this area, but could not motivate themselves to join, as they just wanted to relax in this short week and not to deal with problems. Of course I fully understood that.

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Look – at the sea and more…

Once a week – coastal walk (including sunrise)

And then I could even do a weekly excursion – and that was a special joy. A morning walk, first to see the sunrise on the beach and then along the coast to the point where you see a small lighthouse and a lot of sea. Over time, I’ve adapted it and made it into a photo walk. With inputs how to arrange pictures and  peppered with thoughts about photography. The glowing eyes of the participants after these walks along a really beautiful coastline will stay with me for a longer time.

Yes – I had some really good experiences. But working in the hotel also helped me to gain some new insights – but more on that next time

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A former restaurant at the roadside – Ulupinar

Ulupinar is a small village on the coast road south of Antalya, which is primarily known for its trout restaurants. Whole  buses come here in the hot summer months – in the shade of the forest and the cool air of the water streams, it is probably one of the best places to be in the scorching summer heat to cool a bit.

Most restaurants are huge, and on designed for large groups that are brought up from the nearby resorts Kemer, Camyuva and Tekirova. In some of them tourists can even fish their own trout from the creek.

When we recently went by car to this place, however, I noticed a really nice house- a restaurant closed for some time. Really a pity – a nice shady garden, and stone house with a fireplace and wooden windows – now it rots. As a photo opportunity, it is  beautiful – see for yourself:

 

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Arykanda – a Lycian city in the mountais

“The residents of Arykanda must have been happy people”, it comes to my mind while I am standing in Arykanda high on the mountain in the old amphitheater and admire the view. I imagine how the spectators did not know around 2000 years ago, if they want to look at the spectacle or at the view – and at night the stars.

In general the remaining ruins of this Lycian city are not a sign of poverty. Town houses, a political and commercial Agora, spas, baths, a stadium etc. The residents of Arykanda should also have been extravagant, but it seems they were able to refill the city coffers with trading revenues.

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There’s not much left and some can only be guessed, and yet – or perhaps for this reason – the place radiates its very own magic. The very picturesque ruins, surrounded by overgrown trees and bushes, on a sunny western slope at lofty heights just before Elmali where the houses nestle along the slope upward. The breathtaking views – best from the theater (see above).

 

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Interesting which buildings are located at the top of the slope. Not only the previously mentioned amphitheater but also the shopping mile, twelve square scale businesses opening to a beautiful place with – of course – an amazing view. But why are these shops at the top?Isn’t it tedious to bring all the goods upon delivery all the way up. On the other hand, next to the shops, the Town Hall (the ancient Greeks said Bouleiterion) – is then also convenient for the business men, as they have a very short way to the meeting room, after having closed their shops.

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We spend several hours there on a November day and stroll through time – nothing disturbs the peace, and I take pictures with joy and passion … when I suddenly see three soldiers in full gear and with guns on the seats of the theater . Shortly my heart slips into my boots and I take the camera aside. But probably they just want to make a short break and enjoy the view, as they are leaving just a few minutes later. Then there is again silence, and this unique atmosphere – which is going to stay with me for a while.

 

 

Tips

 

  • Plan enough time: Especially here it would be a pity just to tick off the attractions. The view and enchanted site invite you just to follow you nose and or to stay somewhere for a short break.
  • Time of the day: During the hot season (ie mid-June to mid-September), the midday should be avoided. Too hot and the photos will not be pretty. Best in the late afternoon to come and don’t forget to enjoy the evening light.
  • Equipment:a bit firmer shoes (eg trekking sandals) increase the fun factor while climbing and straying significantly. Water and something to snack as well.
  • I say it reluctantly, but Lycia is generally best reached by car . According to my information there are Dolmus from Kumluca and Finike(dolmus to Elmali). From the turnoff to Arykanda there are just a few hundred meters to the excavations. There’s also a guesthouse at this junction, which from the outside looks very charming.
  • And last but not least : The small waterfall almost directly on the street, a few meters after the junction to Arykanda. Here there are not only tons of great-tasting spring water (take your bottles!), but also a small Lokanta with delicious food, fresh grilled corn to take away, and a small bazar with the savory aplles from Elmali – Do not miss .

     

    And here’s a little slideshow. with some more pictures Enjoy!