Phone stories: Indian summer hikes, Bangkok nights & Nordic sunsets

Hurray, it’s summer! Berlin feels like it’s skipped spring and went straight to shorts-and-sunscreen-weather. And what a difference that vitamin D makes! The sun got me itching to change everything! Which would explain why my apartment is an absolute mess of stuff I want to get rid of and new wooden bits that are waiting to be built. Yes, in proper DIY style…

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Colours of 2017

2017 has been a year so crazy and full that it’s incredibly difficult to summarise it in a few words or sentences. It wasn’t one coherent story, it was more like hundred wild stories without any structure or logic. It has been a loud, overwhelming whirlwind of so many feelings, ups and downs, tears, kisses and personal growth. It was by no means an easy year but why should it. Looking back now, it feels a little as if I’ve constantly been on a journey, never quite sure what I was actually searching for and then slowly realising that there is no quick fix for the big questions. So I guess that means I’ll be carrying those over into 2018.

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Ever tried starting and ending the day in the same place?

Nah, I’m not talking about your bed. Although that’s a pretty good starting point. On a beautiful summer’s day, we decided to hit Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, and because it was such a chilled atmosphere, we couldn’t get enough of it and decided to come back for sunset. Here’s what happened in between: A tour through the University of British Columbia and its beautiful rose garden (I wouldn’t mind swapping my grey London campus for a view on some Canadian mountains!), exploring Gastown and Meat & Bread, an independent bar who serve delicious meat on… bread, a small quirky vintage shop just a few steps from there called Old Faithful Shop and a quick walk through Queen Elizabeth Park and Central Park. Isn’t it hilarious that there’s a huge board with recommended exercise tips at the entrance? I love that! So although the day was packed, we were just in time for the kind of sunset at the beach that burns itself into your memory and will get you through those cold winter months. Vancouver really, really got me.

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Canada Day and Granville Island Market

I was lucky enough to be spending Canada Day in Vancouver. That day, the whole city naturally turned into an immensely happy and patriotic paradise. Everyone came down to have street parties with like-minded people, enjoyed Canada-themed cupcakes and ended the day by watching spectacular fireworks by the riverside. I was taught to sing the national hymn Oh Canada and was severely impressed by the pride Canadians have for their short history. We so need a slice of that in Germany. The morning after that extravaganza was spent at the Granville Island Market, one of the coolest and most exotic markets I’ve ever been to! Anyone up for Butternut Squash Tortellini? Or watermelon bread? Yeahup, that combination might be a little hardcore, sorry.

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Vancouver is a lifestyle

My favourite photos from the America trip so far have been shot in Vancouver. On top of the Squamish Chief to be precise. After a traumatic night in the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed at (full story will follow in some sort of hilarious disaster round-up), some friends picked us up and took us on a beautiful 30-minute car ride out of the city and into the wilderness. We passed mountains, the sea and blue skies and that was when I knew it’d be a good day.

Fast forward one hour, the full extent of my lack of preparation became painfully obvious: My short pink skirt turned out to be rather inconvenient for a hike that involved jumping over trees and little streams, my water bottle was empty when we were still far from the top and I was hopelessly overestimating my physical condition. That’s what happens when you live in the city and think the occasional gym or pool visit means you’re a fit bodybuilder.

Since then, I’ve done a few more hikes because that activity seems a lot more common in North America and I’ve become less of a loser and even look forward to testing out some European trails in the near future. There’s just nothing like the satisfaction reaching the top and knowing that you’ve fully earned that view. And now over to you, enjoy the views!

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‘I was born in the 80s, so that whole beach thing totally freaks me out’

That amazing quote comes from a guy I bumped into while asking for a good beach to shake off the Greyhound fatigue. (I’m now an absolute pro, practice makes perfect!) He’s never been to one but knew that Ashbridge’s Bay would make for some good sunset photos. Other urban eye candies I explored the day after included Forest Hill, a fairly posh residential spot. Especially the area around Casa Loma, a kitsch castle built by a rich gentleman who ran out of money on the way and now it’s just a random, beautiful tourist spot. The area is very leafy and grants a beautiful view over downtown… if it’s not foggy (which pretty much is the status quo) and the University of Toronto which has an absolutely incredible and European-inspired campus.

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Toronto: Tim Hortons, Midnight Poutines and Market Hammocks

My favourite place in Toronto has been the Kensington Market area, by far! It’s so different from the tall skyscrapers in the Financial District, the grand architecture of the Old Town and casual riverside chic. It’s kind of run-down and a mix of a thousand different cultures, probably dominated by Asian cultures because it’s just off Chinatown. You won’t find those fancy antique cars, hammocks or delicious chocolate-filled churros in such density anywhere else. And once the sun goes down, all cafés turn into bars, occasionally visited by the jazzy folk (when I was there, the big Toronto Jazz Festival was going on but a) the bands that were playing apparently play every week and b) many Canadian towns had the ‘biggest jazz festival ever’ going on that time. Never mind, it was fun!

Other places you’ll see below is the Royal Museum of Ontario, a massive museum that covers all things natural history and especially the photo exhibition on the top floor really made me gasp for air. Sebastiao Salgado traveled the world extensively for his series Genesis that portray our planet’s beauty from as close as it gets. He is also currently exhibiting at the Natural History Museum in London until September 13, so make sure to stop by! Another place worth checking out is the Distillery District, also home of St. Lawrence Market which the National Geographic found to be the world’s best market. Chapeau Toronto, that’s quite something to be proud of!

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