Great Start to 2012

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January 14, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone! I have just returned from my holidays in Europe, where I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s. It was such a great trip, where I made many new friends and even re-connected with some old ones.  One of them was my roommate at Miss Universe 2005 pageant – Miss Latvia, Eva Kokorevica.  We met a few times while I was in Riga (capital city of Latvia) and she invited me to her house for Christmas.  It was such a pleasure to spend time with her, she’s the same lovely warm person I remember and we re-connected instantly!

Eva and I in LatviaNatalie with Christmas treeI must say, this year’s Christmas celebration was one of the most traditional ones I’ve had in a long time. In Latvia, Christmas is not as commercialized as in North Amercia or other places, and there’s a great feeling of family, tradition, and warmth that is what Christmas is supposed to be about.

While in Riga, I had a chance to see a Cirque Du Soleil show and ballet on ice, go out dancing with friends, and eat some amazing eastern-European food that I love so much!

For New Year’s eve celebration I visited Vienna, Austria which was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen in all my travels.  The center of the city is adorned in lights so everywhere you look is magical. Every street corner is a photo opportunity, with incredible architecture and magnificent buildings. The city had a great energy that night, and it was surprisingly warm for that time of year – above 0 degrees C.  On the first day of the new year, I went to a symphony orchestra that performed Mozart and Strauss – among my favorite classical composers.

Nat in Vienna, AustriaNat in Vienna, Austria

 

The next part of the trip took me to the mountain area of Austria for some skiing. I had never tried skiing before, even though I was born in Russia and grew up in Canada, so this was very exciting.  I stayed in a small mountain town by the lake called Hallstatt, which was absolutely picture perfect.

Lake view from hotel in Hallstatt Austria

My first day of skiing was a bit traumatic, as I didn’t know how to ride downhill so ended up sliding down on my butt. After that I decided to get an instructor and in a few hours was gliding effortlessly (with some minor tumbles) down the slope. The mountains were breathtaking! The chair lift took me up above the clouds to 2,000 meters, and the views from the top astounded me. I’m definitely going to try skiing again, perhaps in the west coast of Canada next time.

mountains of AustriaNatalie skiingNow that I’m back in Bangkok and back to work, I’m looking forward to the rest of this year.  I have some exciting things lined up already, so stay tuned to this space for the updates!

panoramic view of mountains in Austria

Wishing everyone a fantastic, bright and warm year 2012!

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