Monthly Archives: May 2012

“Mommy.. Where did Grandma go?”

There comes a time in every child’s life where he/she will question death.  “Mommy, where did Grandma go?”  How would you respond?

  1. “Ah sweetie, <kneeling beside the child> Grandma’s in a beautiful place called heaven.”
  2. <With a hug>“She’s no longer with us but will always be in our hearts.”
  3. “Your father forgot to renew the plot tax so they dug her up to make room for Frau Schmitt.”

Answer #3 can be a true if you live in Vienna.  You see, when a loved one passes away, your options for a final resting place can be limited.  Since 78% of Austrians are Roman Catholic they still believe in a burial rather than a cremation and living in a highly populated European city = a lot of bodies to bury.  The question remains, when real estate is at such a premium, can cemeteries accommodate everyone?  Not exactly.  Here families do not buy plots to lay their loved ones to rest, rather, they rent them out for 10-20 years instead.  If they wish not or forget to renew the plot agreement and do not pay the tax the likelihood that the plot will be rented to a new family will be inevitable.

Where do they put the remains of an exhumed grave?  Dunno?

Zentralfriedhof (German for Central Cemetery), which is located on the outskirts of Vienna has a total of 2.5 square kilometres and contains about 330 000 graves today.  Over 3 million people have been buried here, which is almost double the population of the city of Vienna.  Popular on the tourist attraction list, people from around the world visit  Zentralfriedhof which is packed full of famous people.

Just check out just some of the famous people who are buried here:

One thing I can vouch for is that Austrians do take pride in their cemeteries.  It is the family’s responsibility for the upkeep and most plots are immaculately maintained, however you will see the odd overgrown “forgotten” plot.

Strolling through most cemeteries usually eases my spirit.  I don’t know what it is but I always feel a sense of peace and love and  I enjoy looking at the tomb stones and wonder what the lives of these people were like.

Whether you are a religious person or not I highly recommend a visit to Zentralfriedhof.

 

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May I present Oceania Cruises’ Riviera!

After 8 long years of keeping myself busy as a full-time mom I have ventured back into the career world as a Sales Manager for Oceania Cruises. Luckily for me, I was invited to join the rest of the Oceania family on the Oceania Riviera Christening Cruise which sailed from Monte Carlo to Venice.

I met the ship mid cruise on Christening Day in Barcelona.  This is the traditional day a cruise ship is officially named (usually by a nominated “God Mother”) and blessed by smashing a bottle of champagne against the hull of the ship.  Celebrity Chef, Cat Cora was honored as the God Mother to this magnificent vessel.  The bottle shattered into a million pieces, confetti filled the air, and the cheers from the crowd were energizing. Another memorable experience to add to my collection.

The Riviera is the newest ship to the Oceania fleet.  She, along with her sister ship the Marina, carries 1250 guests and has one of the largest space ratios on any ship afloat.  There is 1 crew member to every 1.56 guests so you can imagine the attentive service and fewer line ups!  If you prefer a smaller more intimate atmosphere you could cruise on board the smaller ships, Oceania Nautica or Oceania Regatta. No matter which ship you choose you are guaranteed amazing destinations, fantastic food and unbeatable service all for a great price.

Being marketed as an Upper Premium cruise line Oceania blows the competition out of the water (no punt intended).  As a foodie I was drawn to their menus even before I joined the company.  Master Chef Jacque Pepin is the Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises.  His approach to the onboard dining was to reflect on regional cuisines, depending where the ships sail so that guests can enjoy the tastiest meals using only the freshest ingredients.  There are 4 speciality restaurants in addition to the Grand Dining Room on board the Marina and Riviera.  Whether you fancy French, Italian, Asian or a Good ole Steak House you will not be disappointed. AND it doesn’t cost you a penny whereas other cruise lines charge $25 per person and up.  All the bread is baked fresh daily on board,  you will find USDA 28 day dry-aged beef, Maine lobster and Colorado lamb and the ice cream…. oh the yummy ice cream is made on board as well.

My favourite moment was when I sunk my teeth into the flakiest pastry I’ve ever eaten.  Filled with fresh vanilla creme and juicy raspberries I was in dessert heaven!  The secret?  A squirt of raspberry juice into each berry to add that extra burst of flavour!  It’s details like these that makes this product so unique.

I could go on about the on board dining experience but I won’t in hopes that you will find out for yourself by booking a cruise.  Instead I’ll change the subject to onboard activities such as the Bon Appétit Culinary Center (what you thought that I would steer away from food?).  This is the only hands on cooking school you will find at sea.  What better way to learn how to recreate the wonderful meals than by learning from the chefs directly.   They will give you step by step instruction, give you tips on what to look for, what the smell should be, and how the texture should feel.  These are tangible details that you just can’t get from a cook book.  Each guest will work at his/her own fully equipped station as Chef Kelly and her team work their magic.  I chose to take part in the Pasta From Scratch seminar and I happily made fettuccine with a brown butter sage & walnut sauce.  Oh man did I have fun.

I have so much more to say about this fantastic cruise line, however I’ll leave you instead with a few more images from my 5 days on board.  If worldwide itineraries, superb service and fabulous food are your vacation priorities look no further than Oceania Cruises.  Seriously.


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