I arrived in Hamburg around 3:30 PM on Tuesday. Svenja (my host in Hamburg) was going to meet me at the Central Station when she got off work, so I had some time to check it out. I love train stations. I think they are so cute and I love seeing all of the people hustling and bustling, catching trains and buses. I like to imagine where they are headed off to.

IMG_8796.JPG

Since I had some time, I figured I should try a German pretzel and beer! I found a little place in the station serving beer and pretzels, and had myself a seat. I got my pretzel and beer, but – interesting fact – most of the places in Germany are cash only. Since I had just come from Denmark (which uses Danish krones, not euros), I didn’t have any money on me. Luckily the woman trusted me enough to let me go find an ATM. Crisis one, averted!

I met Svenja at Starbucks in the Central Station, and we took off on a bus toward her apartment. The buses in Europe are insanely busy, which meant that there was standing room only. My goal for this trip is to not fall down on a bus. So far, so good.

Once we got to Svenja’s apartment, I threw down my backpack, and we decided to hit the town. She lives a little north of Abenalster lake, so we walked through her adorable little neighborhood and a little bit down by the lake. IMG_8928.jpg

We stopped at a little Italian restaurant and got dinner. I had a gnocchi with vegetables and a glass of Merlot. It was the perfect ending to a long day of travel.

Day 1: Amanda tries to do everything 

The next day, I woke up at 6:30, raring to go. I get so excited when I’m in a new place, I just want to get up and explore. I got ready, but soon realized the sun doesn’t come up until 8:15 AM. I waited until it got light, and then sprinted out the door. I stopped at a little coffee shop on the way to the city center. It was adorable. They had vegan breakfast sandwiches! There are so many vegan options here, it is really incredible.

IMG_8805

I headed back out into the super cold 45 degree weather and started my journey around the lake. It is so beautiful here. There are a ton of people running and biking around the lake. Finally, I got to the city center. It’s adorable!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wandered around for a bit, until I found St Michaelis church. There is a tower on top, which of course I went to the top of to get a great view of the city. I attempted a panorama on my iPhone.

IMG_8849.jpg

There is a bit of a learning curve with that one.

The view is amazing!

PC020043.jpg

After the tower, I wandered around to HafenCity, the old warehouse district. It is filled with these beautiful old buildings, separated by canals.

IMG_8886.jpg

Super cool!

IMG_8887.jpg

One side of the street is old, and just on the other side of the canal, the buildings are new. There are places in Hamburg with older and newer buildings interspersed. This is because a lot of the older buildings got wiped out from bombs in World War 2.

After wandering around the old warehouse district, I found the town hall, which had a massive Christmas market in front of it.

IMG_8899.JPG

That is one impressive building! I wandered through the Christmas market for a bit, looking at all of the merchants with homemade alpaca scarves, chocolates, and gluwein for sale. The Christmas markets are the place to be here – they are packed!

I was a little tired after all that excitement, so I headed back around the lake and to the apartment. I found my future home on the way back.

PC020074.jpg

It will be hard to choose between this one or the castle in Sweden.

When Svenja got off work, she met me at the apartment, and we headed off to get some German gluwein! The German gluwein is totally different than the Danish glogg. They are both equally delicious! Apparently the gluwein in Germany is served to children, and the adults get it with a shot of amaretto in it. I am technically an adult…. so I had to try it.

IMG_8953

Another perfect ending to a great day!

Day 2: The Harbor and Alter Elbtunnel

The next day, I decided to take it a little easier. I like to track my steps to see how far I walk, and I had walked 15 miles the day before! It was a little tiring, to say the least. I slept in a bit, which helped. I got ready and headed out around the lake again. It’s a long walk, but it’s so beautiful that I can’t bring myself to take a train or bus. Plus, I usually prefer walking through new cities. It’s the best way to see the sights!

IMG_8950.jpg

There is a little Christmas market on the edge of the lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I decided to head over to the harbor on this day. It was a little cloudy, but the harbor is stunning. These pictures do NOT do it justice.

PC030016.jpg

The little red boat was all decorated for Christmas.

PC030009.jpg

All of the little boats on the little canal. So precious.

IMG_8872 (3).jpg

I even got another pretzel. No one can hold me back when I see a pretzel for sale.

IMG_8984.jpg

After the harbor, I headed over the the Alter Elbtunnel – it’s an underground tunnel that connects HafenCity to the mainland. It isn’t super long, but it was fun to walk through.

PC030011.jpg

After all of the excitement of the day, I headed back home. I walked through the Christmas market by the lake on the way. You can pretend that random Asian girl is me.

PC020058.jpg

Svenja and I finished the day with chocolate and red wine. Is there anything better? No.

I am loving Germany so far!

 

 

Follow:

Sunday In Sweden

I was feeling a little restless. I needed a change of scenery. So what do you do in this situation? Go to another country for a day!

Jeppe and Estelle told me that I could get to Malmo, Sweden from Copenhagen in less than one hour. Sign me up! I decided on Saturday night that I would like to go there the next day. Jeppe helped me look up tickets, he gave me very detailed instructions on how to get to the bus, and I convinced myself that I could do this without getting lost. And by some kind of miracle, I made it there without missing any buses!

IMG_8747

Malmo had A TON of Christmas trees, lights, carolers, they even had a Christmas parade in the square! There was a Christmas fair going on with a giant snow globe containing light up reindeer, penguins, and Christmas trees. The other igloo had “ice cubes” to sit on to watch a live band. Way to go, Sweden!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course I made friends with the live reindeer.

IMG_8745.JPG

I mostly wanted to see the Malmo castle, which has recently been turned into a museum. There were quite a few exhibits on display, my favorite being one about sustainability. They talked about everything that Sweden is doing to become more sustainable, which I am all about.

IMG_8707

I loved seeing the castle and going inside. I felt like I belong there. (ahem, insert princess emoji here)

IMG_8748.JPG

After the castle, I roamed around the city center for a bit. There were heaps of shops and Christmas decorations. Some of the shops were closed because it was Sunday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am so amazed by the buildings – they are all massive!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Malmo also has a canal running around the city center – and you know how I feel about canals!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After walking through the city center, I went over to the harbor to watch the sun set over the Baltic Sea. It was cloudy, so not much of a sunset, but the harbor is beautiful! I love the lighthouse out there.

IMG_8749

My arms were getting tired from all of the selfies by this time, so I went inside Central Station and had a good look around. I popped into the bookshop, bought a book, and then had a nice long read with a cup of tea. The sun sets around 4 PM here, which I am still getting used to, but it makes for cozy nights.

Next up – Germany! Stay tuned 🙂

 

 

Follow:

Copenhagen: Part 2

This is Part 2 of my time in Copenhagen, Denmark. To read Part 1, click here.

Luckily, I survived the jet lag from Day 1 in Copenhagen. I spent the next two days doing these super cool things:

IMG_8354

Day 2: The Church Tower & Christiana

I started off day 2 with coffee from Baresso, which is the local version of Starbucks. They are everywhere in Copenhagen, so I had to try it! I got an Americano. They gave me a huge one, which worked out well for what was to come. Maybe they knew what kind of day I was getting in to.

I took my coffee to go and headed toward the Church of Our Savior, which is an amazing church. The architecture is incredible. There is a tower that goes super high up and you can get a great view of the city from there. Side note: you are climbing extremely narrow and steep staircases to get up there. No one gave me this warning, but luckily I’m one tough girl.

It was worth climbing all those stairs once I reached the top.

IMG_8543

That’s what I’m talking about.

IMG_8580

It was freezing up there! I thought my hat was actually going to blow off of my head. Thankfully I had my massive cuppa coffee to keep me warm.

I decided to head over to Rosenburg Garden & Castle next, but I was starting to get hit hard again by jet lag. I walked through the gardens, but didn’t have the energy to walk through the castle. I decided to stop by the grocery store and head home for the afternoon/night. I ate bread and hummus for dinner before dying of exhaustion. I ended up sleeping 17 hours that night. Amanda=1, Jet lag=0.

Day 3: All the Cool Things 

After seeing all of the touristy destinations, I wasn’t sure where to go next. Luckily, Jeppe had time to spend with me on Saturday! As a local, he knows of all the cool places that most tourists don’t know to visit. First, we went to a park called Superkilen – it has a really cool concept behind it. It was designed by a famous Danish architect who goes by his initials, BIG. He took pieces from around the world and put them all together in this huge, functional park.

IMG_8588

It is separated into sections – black, green, and red.

IMG_8589

It is really fun to see and play around on. It might be a little more fun in the summer, when it is dry and warm, but I would definitely recommend checking this out. My pictures do NOT do it justice.

Next, we went by a Christmas market and a huge graveyard. I didn’t get very many good pictures of this, but the graveyard was really gorgeous, and the market was so fun. I’m not usually a seeker of graveyards, but this one was superbly done, and had a few famous philosophers buried in it.

IMG_8596

Post-graveyard, we needed a little pick me up, so we headed to the “food hall” as Jeppe calls it. It reminded me of the Oxbow Market in Napa; it is a huge building with a lot of little markets inside. We scurried around and tried samples from all of the vendors before settling down at a cafe table with warm drinks. I tried my first glogg, which is a Danish holiday drink made of mulled red wine with almonds, raisins and warming spices. It was very good, I would definitely recommend trying it out!

After the glogg, we needed some real food, so we headed to Riz Razz Steaks and Veggies, which has a vegetarian/vegan buffet. I was so happy to get my fill of fresh vegetables and pita bread with hummus.  I have a serious obsession with hummus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the way there, we walked over a canal as the sun was setting. It was amazing.

IMG_8606

Next we headed to a jazz bar, where I had my first Danish Christmas beer. Yum! Coupled with a live band and a warm venue, it was the perfect ending to the night.

Follow:

Copenhagen: Part 1

I landed in Copenhagen, Denmark at 3 PM on Wednesday. I was so excited to explore this city, as I’ve been freakishly obsessed with Nyhaven (the gorgeous canal pictured above) for quite a while. Here was what I did in the first day in Copenhagen:

Day 1 : All My Dreams Come True / A Very Intense Day 

I started off Thursday morning by walking toward downtown to explore.

IMG_8348

I stopped at THE CUTEST coffee (“kaffe” in Danish) place on the way there.

How adorable is this?!

IMG_8364

I loved their cozy atmosphere, and the guy behind the counter was an older guy wearing an American Eagle t-shirt. I felt right at home! I found the local paper to read about the shitstorm on Facebook. What a catastrophe!

IMG_8358

After my super black (but rather bright tasting) coffee, I was off to find my dream place, Nyhaven. I had to stop at a few places first though. Just before crossing the bridge, I came across a little feeding pond with SWANS. I just about died, as I’ve never seen swans in their natural habitat. So I took about three thousand pictures.

IMG_8367

Post-photoshoot, I was back on my way downtown – or to the “city center,” as the locals call it. It wasn’t long before I came across another canal with swans and had to take three thousand more pictures. I was slowly getting closer – this was Christiana canal.

IMG_8373

The swans are just breath taking. The canal is pretty cute too.

IMG_8400

But I needed to soldier on!

FINALLY, I came across Nyhaven. I was secretly jumping with joy inside, but I contained myself enough to attract only minimal attention.

IMG_8434

After that bout of excitement, I wasn’t sure what could rival the beautiful and epic Nyhaven. I had read about Kastellet, the oldest operating military base in Denmark. It is shaped like a star, which is what really got me. So off I went in search of Kastellet. I came across a few statues like the one below; these are scattered all over the city.

IMG_8403

Eventually, I came across Kastellet. When you walk inside, there are a few buildings that you can actually go in to. Score! I found this church and headed in.

IMG_8448

IMG_8449

It was adorable! I love the circle lights.

Next, I found a cannon. I have never seen one of these in real life before. It was a little eerie but very interesting.

IMG_8463

I walked along the perimeter of the star and found something extra Danish: an adorable windmill. Just precious.

IMG_8467

This super sweet church was also chillin on the perimeter. It was very photogenic.

IMG_8502

I knew that since I was at Kastellet, I had to go by the Little Mermaid. It is super close, basically on the grounds of Kastellet. It’s usually super packed with tourists, but since I’m really smart and decided to go in the off-season, I got a pic all by myselfie.

IMG_8487

Crushed that.

After so many selfies, I had worked up an appetite. I found a sandwich place that had a few vegan options on the menu. This was very exciting to me.

IMG_8536

I got a falafel sandwich with hummus and veggies. It was as good as it looks. Definitely hit the spot. After my sandwich, I headed home to take a chill pill and slowly die from jet lag.

Did I survive? You will have to wait for the epic Part 2 to find out!

 

Follow:

“You’re so lucky”

I’ve been able to be a lot more open about my around the globe trip lately. I love telling people that I’m travelling the globe as it still kind of shocks me. I had always wanted to travel but I hadn’t ever created a plan to actually do it. Until now.

When I tell people about my trip, a very common reaction is – “Oh my gosh, you are so lucky! I wish I could do that. Someday I’ll travel.”

What is it that makes me “lucky”? I am aware that I have advantages that not everyone has. I don’t have kids, I am able to live with my parents rent-free, I have a job and a steady paycheck. All of these things I am extremely grateful for.

But even if you have to pay rent/have a dog/have red hair, you can travel too. I was lucky that I was able to cut my expenses so drastically to save a lot of money in a very short period of time. But there is nothing “lucky” about the way I did that. I cancelled my cell phone plan, I lived with my parents (and you know that isn’t easy), I rarely eat out, I don’t go out to bars or clubs, I don’t take weekend trips, I hardly ever buy books or clothes or expensive makeup. I consider myself a minimalist, which saves me a ton of money. But there is nothing that I did that you can’t do.

If you really want to go to Paris – create a savings account for it, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. If you want to do an around the world trip – create a savings account, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. There is nothing required to go on a trip other than dedication to your savings and a bit of planning.

Let me know in the comments where you would like to go!

Follow: