Posted in Blog

New Years in Vienna

Now that I’ve finally finished my module and have a couple of weeks off, I can FINALLY write a post about my new year’s in Vienna!

We spent our stay at the Vienna Inn Apartments, which we found on booking.com. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best place we’ve ever stayed, however, the location was perfect and it was good enough to lay our heads down for a couple of nights.

I’ll start with NYE, which was our first day (we arrived on the night of 30th).

We woke up quite early so that we could see as much as we could. Vienna is such a beautiful city, with tall, magnificent buildings gazing down upon the pebbled streets and alleys. We took the tram into the city centre (it’s so easy to get around the city!) And travel is also really cheap.

Mozart himself!

We visited Mozarthaus Vienna (Mozart’s Apartment) (I had heard that it was quite small and on first glance you think that everybody was wrong, however many of the rooms were not actually part of his original apartment; for the purpose of the museum, many of the other apartments had been opened up to accommodate all of his possessions from other places he had lived, as well as all tourists who come to visit. He’s not one of my favourite composers, however you can’t deny how talented he was and it was incredibly interesting to read about how hard he worked to get where he was, leaving the security of his family to chase his goals because he truly believed in this talents, attaching himself to the right people (bit of a hustler LOL), whilst working incredibly hard at his craft to become the legendary prodigy he was and still is today.

The streets outside in the city decorated in lights, truly magical. It was during these celebrations I realised that for the first time in ages, I was smiling at people in the street. I felt so comfortable around these strangers, which is not a feeling I experience in the streets of London; London can be a fairly isolating city anyway, but it can be incredibly intimidating when you are a minority or “look different”.

After leaving Mozarthaus Vienna, we popped into this lovely coffee house called Café Hofburg, for coffee and pancakes. It was incredibly luxurious and I felt rather underdressed in my ripped jeans and doc martins!


Every year the city holds a massive street party that begins in the day and goes on into the early hours of the New Year’s Day. (They also hold a masquerade ball for New Year’s but unfortunately it’s so exclusive that the tickets were a little bit out of our price range!) The party includes stalls with food and drinks – including mulled wine (which was actually probably the best I’d EVER had!) – and live music. Around the city centre there were about three stages with bands playing. Another one was playing waltz music on a sound system and had a dance floor attached for people to join in some ballroom dancing (there’s nothing like hearing the Viennese Waltz in the streets of Vienna!).

After drinking too much mulled wine and still hours away from midnight, we realised that we were freezing and in need of shelter. We found a lovely restaurant called Café Rathaus, a welcoming restaurant with a 1940s décor and incredibly welcoming staff. The waiter who served us asked the chef to cook us a vegetarian meal of cheese toasties, fries and salad as there wasn’t any veggie options on the menu. We spent HOURS in here, staying warm, eating an incredible amount of food and getting even more drunk on red wine. So much fun!

We managed roll ourselves out of Café Rathaus just before midnight! At midnight, there was the traditional countdown followed by an insane fireworks display; I think we actually came into 2019 a little late because the announcer on the stage messed up the countdown and it fell out of sync with the fireworks setting off, so everybody in the crowd was like whaaaaat is going on? LOL. But we all had fun welcoming in the new year regardless. Again, I guess being drunk influenced this, but everybody was in merry spirits, happy to be around people, dancing with one another and greeting each other – even before the clock struck midnight. I’ve spent new year in the streets of London and again it is a very different experience.

We got back to the apartment incredibly late but as New Year’s Day was our last full day in Vienna, we didn’t want to waste it so even though we were hungover, we got up relatively early to make the most of the day. The problem was, although we wanted to do some last minute sightseeing, we needed to refuel first and unfortunately because of the holidays, many restaurants and cafes were closed. Which shouldn’t be surprising when you think about it, however many had forgotten to update their websites so were advertised as open on New Years day, only for us to rock up to a shut building. We eventually found a Vapiano’s which I’m pretty sure I’d heard lots about so suggested we eat in there, opting to choose it over the alternative option which was Maccy D’s. I will regret this decision for the rest of my life: Not only is the food awful; as this was our first visit to a Vapiano’s we had no idea how it worked and nobody explained it to us. You know how every time you rock up to a Nando’s they always ask if you’ve been before? Because if not they’ll explain the process of ordering food to you? Not at Vapiano’s. We were thrown this card and moved along, so we had to Google what to do with it and what to do from there. The perk is that after you’ve stood in a queue for 30+ minutes to order your food, if you’re having pasta they cook it for you there and then at the cooking stations, but this means that the wait is just even longer and you end up watching your dinner companions eating two pizzas in the time it takes just for you to get your one bowl of pasta. The pizzas are also freshly made and cooked to order and they use a similar device like many big chain restaurants in Central London where they give you a device to alert you when your table is ready, but in this case the device tells you when your pizza is ready. And boy is it cooked! So much so that the crust is inedible and the rest of it tastes like cardboard.

WORST… PIZZA… EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR

There’s just no logic to the service; there is absolutely nothing on the tables so you have to search the building for stuff – no signs and no staff to point you in the right direction either. Needless to say, it was a stressful experience and we will NOT be going back!

Thankfully the rest of the places we went to for food were miiiiiiiles better! On our first night, we got into the city quite late and decided to pick up a pizza from a takeaway place on the way to our apartment, which was much yummier than the Vapiano’s version. The following morning, 31st, we found a great café for brunch. On our final night we found this amazing Japanese restaurant, Restaurant Kosu, for dinner, where the staff were so lovely and accommodating to my very limited German (I did manage to get by for a lot of the trip, but had to rely upon my German girlfriend to help me remember certain phrases). The food was incredible and the restaurant has a lovely ambience. Speaking of learning German, I actually used Duolingo in the months running up to the trip to learn (it’s a great app, you do a bit every day and it keeps track of what you’ve learnt and sets goals for you to achieve based upon you progress).

Dessert at Restaurant Kosu. YUM. Mocci (rice cakes) filled with dark chocolate


I did get a cold on the final day; although it is a beautiful city, it’s also a VERY cold one! I actually had to by a new winter hat on our first day there, because my one from home just wasn’t cutting it (probably didn’t help that I’d just had a buzz hair cut done, leaving the back of my head exposed to the winter winds, even through a woolly hat!) and was quite proud of myself for being able to communicate with the shop assistant, which is an improvement from my visit to Berlin a few years ago.

New hat! Unfortunately you can’t see my awesome new hair cut underneath

After our disastrous Vapiano’s brunch, we took a walk to the Mumok, a modern and contemporary art gallery with some incredible abstract pieces. One of my favourite exhibitions was Film and More, a history of Austrian film using the work of Kurt Kren and Ernst Schimidt jr. in contrast with each other to explore the language of film, which was actually one of my modules during the first year of my undergrad studies, so it was great to revisit that theme. My other fave was Photos/ Politics/ Austria, an exhibition taking you on a visual journey through the history of Austria using photography and mainstream media items. It was especially fascinating to see how history repeats itself around the world. Of course, the gift shop was a hit, however it’s quite awks to carry loads of stuff back home (London) with you when all you brought along was a carry-on bag 😦 so I opted for self-control over splurging.

Vienna, is by far one of my favourite cities. I was actually really sad to leave and not because I don’t like London (as much as it seems like I’ve been bashing it quite a bit in this post, I will probably grow old in London and draw my last breath on the tube in London (LOL), that’s how much of a “ride or die bitch” I am for this city. But, Vienna really did take my breath away.

Posted in Blog

Constantly Ill and Constantly Sick

Howdy! 

I’m sick again, twice now in as many months. Last time it was the flu and now it’s (thankfully just) a cold. 

When I was younger, I used to love winter; I’m a homebody who loves curling up on the sofa with a blanket to watch as many films as I can in one night. I also preferred the winter season to summer because it was a relief from the hayfever I’m tormented by in summer. However, it’s only in hindsight that I realise how little energy I’ve always had in winter, how my joints and muscles have always ached, how I’ve had constant migraines causing “weird episodes”. I’ve always had consecutive colds throughout the winter, but we (my family and I) just shrugged it off as my almost non-existent immune system failing as per usual. 

Since being diagnosed with epilepsy four and a half years ago and realising that the migraines and weird episodes were seizures, I’ve come to realise how difficult winter in particularly is for me. For example, when I say I’ve had two colds in two months, I’m not just talking about sniffles and sneezing for a few days and then back to normal health until the second one hit. The first bout was the flu which of course knocked me out completely but also negatively impacted my epilepsy; I had so many seizures I couldn’t leave my bed for two days. It takes me weeks to recover from episodes like this, so when I’m hit with another cold, I feel like I’m returning to war after a way too short respite.

Thankfully, with this second cold I haven’t had any seizures, which hopefully means that the increased dosage of Lacosamide from 100mg BD to 150mg BD must be working and I’ve also increased my anti-depressants because as well as seizures being seasonal, mental illness is too. With all of these drugs in my system however, I often wonder if standard cold remedies ever stand a chance to take affect? Because they hardly seem to work! So, this time, I’ve indulged in some herbal remedies from Holland and Barrett. On Tuesday, feeling sick of being sick, I visited the branch on Holloway Road on my way out of therapy; I spent a fortune, however two days later I’m feeling more human than I was two days ago, so clearly it’s working!

I bought some propolis and zinc syrup with manuka honey elixir (makes it sound like a potion doesn’t it! But it’s literally just a bit of flavouring), to take 2-4 times a day: This benefits your immune system and is great to take throughout the winter; “Pukka Vitalise” powder, containing a blend of nutrients including beetroot, bilberries and ginseng; and manuka honey 525+ MGO (which was half price as part of the special offer!). Manuka honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.  It contains an extraordinary enzyme called methylglyoxal (MGO) and the higher the number, the more effective it is. This higher the MGO the higher the price tag too, which is why it was great that H&B were doing this deal! 

My little life savers! 

I’ve also been taking echinacea extract in its purest form; when your immune system is particularly at its lowest, this is great to take to give it the boost it needs. During the winter, I’m also prone to abscesses which you can take antibiotics for, but mine during the winter are recurring so I’m trying to find alternative remedies to take instead. Then after three days, you can switch back to drinking it in tea form. I also find that turmeric tea helps. 

I regularly take vitamin supplements for my muscles and joints too as well as to help with lethargy: Potassium, VitB12, VitC, VitD, and cod liver oil, and although I can see or feel the effects within myself in comparison to how I was before, unfortunately during the winter I find it extremely difficult to notice the benefits. I feel way older than my years physically during the winter, which of course impacts my mental health and well-being. 

The reason why I’m posting this, is not so that people will call me brave and feel sorry for me; it’s to raise awareness for adults like me who are in their “prime years” silently struggling through the winter because of chronic illness.

We are regularly forgotten.

Society often remembers how the cold affects babies and the elderly, but for people like me in our “prime years”, with a chronic illness, society takes for granted that the cold affects us too. We can’t jump out of bed in the mornings; sometimes we cannot go out too far because the longer into the day it gets, the colder it gets; we can’t go out as often as our peers because our bodies just won’t allow it and we’re not cancelling to be difficult or just because we don’t feel like it because it’s too cold. It’s that we cannot go out because it’s too cold for our bodies to cope; our bodies will just not allow it and sometimes it’s safer for us to stay in the warm instead. 

So please keep that in mind.