Three days of Istanbul



I think that’s a good word to describe the city. It’s crazy, bustling and just a little bit too much like I’ve only ever experienced Asian cities be (Istanbul is also half Asian, so that makes sense), and I absolutely love it.


As my plane started descending towards Istanbul I was shocked by it’s greatness. I knew that it’s one of the biggest cities in the world, but it still surprised me just how vast it was.


After catching a bus, walking for a bit and getting on a tram I made it to my hostel on the first night. I caught this moment heading there.

Instead of writing about my three days and every experience I had A-Z I’m gonna write in four categories; the classic must sees, the must sees according to Annika, the downside and the best memories.

The classic must sees
These are the things that the guidebooks will tell you that you absolutely have to see. And I may or may not agree, depending on which sight we’re talking about.

The Blue Mosque was the first thing I went to see in Istanbul. When I arrived late at night (I lived in the Sulthanamet district where all of the big sights are (big mistake — I wish I had lived in the über cool and less touristy Karaköy) I saw both the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya in the dark and was absolutely mesmerized by their greatness. At this point in time, I didn’t know which one was which though.
Anyways, I arrived at the Blue Mosque in the morning, and after covering up with a scarf I went in without waiting in much of a line. It was beautiful, yes, but to be honest I was a bit disappointed. This definitely could have been because of the major construction going on inside (and outside) of the church, since most of the ceiling was covered and that’s where the true wow factor is. To me it’s debatable if it’s worth a visit.


The Aya Sofya was next up and god damn it, once again construction was happening. But even with the construction going on, Aya Sofya had me. What an incredibly beautiful building. It’s scale is unreal and the detailed mosaique painting displayed on the first floor are nothing short of amazing. Definitely worth a visit.



The mosaic was probaly the most spectacular ones I have ever seen


A ridicoulously beautiful building

The Grand Bazar was the third stop on the first day. I had met a German guy at the hostel the night before who had told me not go, and I almost wish I had listened. The Grand Bazar completely drained me for all of my energy, so much that I returned to my hostel for a nap after I had visited. I was disappointed with the stores that were inside the bazar, as they were really all of the same. The same bowls, the same leather jackets, the same shitty toys and the same fabrics. I was expecting something more unique and raw, which it probably used to be before tourism came along and ruined it. You also have to deal with every single shop owner trying to get your attention, which is a lot to handle. Now I know I would never not go myself, because it seems like something you just have to visit. But I wouldn’t say it’s worth it. I preferred the Spice Market and the surrounding streets instead. It seemed like it was more for the locals and less for the tourist, but still with a significant amount of tourist. The streets around the Grand Bazar are cool to walk around in though. Here you see the locals shopping. It’s still intense in these streets, but you’re outside and the shopkeepers aren’t trying to pull you into their stores.


The area around the Grand Bazar. Something really interesting in Instanbul is how each street had a specific thing they were selling. I passed a sock street, an underwear street and an entire street where every store sold hardware supplies.



This picture was taken at the Spice Market, which I prefered over the Grand Bazar.


The Spice Market.

The Bosporus is the waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara which then connects Turkey to the Aegean Sea following the Mediterreanean Sea. Due to this, it is a significant international waterway, but it is also a waterway that divides Istanbul into two pieces. One being European and the other being Asian. Due to the incredibly cool fact that Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located on two different continents, the guidebooks will tell you that you MUST sail from one side to the other. In reality, you don’t really notice that you cross continents, but you can say that you did it. I’d say that catching the ferry from one side to the other is definitely worth it though. Mainly because you get to go on the water (which I LOVE) and have a beautiful view of the city, but also becuase the waterfront of the Asian side seems a lot more local and residential than the waterfront of the European side, which is always cool to experience.


The view from the ferry while waiting for take-off



The Asian side is known for having the best street art of the city. I only spent about 30 minutes on the side and found some incredible pieces.



The must-have-atleast-one-fresh-squeezed-orange-juice-a-day-cause-it-is-so-cheap juice of the day, heading back towards the European side.

The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (thank you Wikipedia). Once again I had chosen a poor time to visit, as the water in Basicilia Cistern was emptied out due to construction.. The cistern is completed with 336 marble columns, each 9 meters high, and it’s definitely a very impressive piece of architectual work. But as a tourist you walk through the cistern on a wooden bridge with a whole lot of other tourists, which is never the best way to explore. Unless it’s too hot for you and you need time to cool down, I would say that the place isn’t worth a visit. But then again, now when I’m writing this I’m wondering why I didn’t like it? Maybe I was just tired.

Another classic must see is The Topkapi Palace, but I didn’t make it there. Maybe next time. Oh and also going to a hammam. I didn’t do that either, but I definitely will during some part of my Turkey trip (edit: I never went to one 😦 dumb).

The must sees according to Annika
Now this is where it gets fun. These are the things that I would repeat if I went back to Istanbul.

I went up in the Galata Tower, which is definitely a very touristy thing to do. But sometimes those things aren’t bad. I have a thing for seeing all cities I visit from a birds eye perspective, so I always go looking for buildings or monuments that can help me get that good overview. In Istanbul I chose this tower, and the view was nothing short of spectacular. You could see both Europe and Asia, the Golden Horn as well as (probably) thousands of mosques. I wonder if anyone ever counted them.


The tower seen at dusk when I first discovered it’s existence on my first night.



A panorama was necessary.

Another must see/do is sitting under the Galata bridge at sunset. The Galata bridge connects the old part of town to the newer part of town crossing over the Golden Horn, and that leaves you with an incredible view of the city and its waterfront. Under the bridge is a bunch of restaurants, but there’s also a platform that’s perfect for just sitting and staring. And so I did for about an hour and a half.



“My future shine as bright as my Nikes” was the instagram caption of this picture. Obviously.


The sunset did something that I’ve never seen before, and I actually haven’t figured out what it is that happened yet. There was something that looked like a square rainbow coming from the sky, but with no rain in sight. Nonetheless it was absolutely breathtaking.



The little boat that I had eaten my balik ekmek from before the beautiful sunset started to show its face.


Now, this must see isn’t actually something I did myself, because no one told me about this place.. But doing a picnic with the locals, watching the hundreds of boats resting on the Sea of Marmara is VERY high on my to-do list for the next time I visit Istanbul. I discovered this place when I was on the shuttle bus heading for my over night bus to Cappadocia, so by then it was too late. But on the waterfront of the Bosphorus there is a huuuge park, and the park was filled with locals grilling and having picnics, and it looked like an incredible time. Next time!

On the first day, after having knocked off the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazar within a few hours, I was exhausted. I went back to my hostel for a nap, but woke up just as tired. So then I decided to take the tram until I got bored. I got on at the Sulthanamet stop and basically sat on the tram until I couldn’t get any further. With a good podcast series in my ears, this was the perfect way to see what the outskirts of Istanbul looked like. And so I sat there with my eyes glued to the window for about three hours.



This is where I ended up.

After my tram adventure, I discovered my favorite part of town, and so walking around Karaköy became a favorite activity of mine; something I did on all three of my days in Istanbul. Karaköy is to Istanbul what Nørrebro is to Copenhagen, and those who know me know that the love I feel for Nørrebro is serious business, and thus I instantly felt at home among all of the street art, the grungy feel, the many cool restaurants and small shops.


Coolest phone booths I have EVER seen.


The colors though.. This street was the absolut coolest.



Just call me self timer queen.


Istanbul Modern is Istanbuls museum of Mordern art (I bet you hadn’t already figured that out from the name), and I really liked their exhebitions. It’s not the biggest museum ever, so it’s very doable to see it all in an hour or so, depending on how long you look at each piece. I left the building feeling very inspired to go home and do weird projects in my apartment, and that is all I can ever ask of a museum.



I’m definitely making a sculpture of dices one day. Maybe not as big as this one though.

Eat lots of food. Well this is really a given anywhere in the world, but the Turkish cusine is really nice. I’m especially a huge fan of meze. It’s the turkish version of tapas, and everyone that knows me know that I loooooove tapas. I also loved the turkish ice cream (although I didn’t try it in Istanbul) as it’s consistency is more gewy than any other ice cream I’ve had. And the corn being sold all over. And the fish sandwich (balik ekmek) served on the waterfront.


This meal was to-die-for. Lamb perfectly grilled. Yum.


The balik ekmek boat.


Meze all day eurhday.

My love of roof top action goes hand in hand with wanting to see any city from a birds eye view, but the roof top action is more about eating and drinking while doing so. I was lucky that the hostel I had booked had an awesome roof top, so every morning my breakfast was spent gazing out over the Bosporus and on to the Asian side of the city.



When my parents were in their 20’s they sailed on a boat like this, working for Maersk. And they’ve even sailed on the Bosporus. So weid to think about. They had adventures here too!


The downside
I hate to say it but…. the Istanbul men. No let me correct myself; SOME of the Istanbul men. That’s the downside to the city. That and cats. I am really not a cat person, in fact I’m a little bit scared of cats (it’s dumb, I know..) and there were sooo many cats in Istanbul.

Back to the men though. I wanna start of saying that I never felt unsafe or threatened, but there were two instances where I was ready to fight the man bothering me because it was WAY too much and probably one hundred instances of just catcalling/men trying to get my attention in different annoying or funny ways. I wrote down my favorite “conversations” I had with men that were a little more creative than just “Hello Beautiful” or “Hello where you from”:

Him: Hello
Him: Madame
Him: Remember me from last night
I had to hide my laughter as I walked away.

Him: Hello
Him: Hi Lady I’m tourist too
Him: Where you from
Said a very Turkish looking man in broken English.

Him: Hello
Him: Are you from italy
Him: You look like from italy
This one is funny because I just really don’t look Italian. And I got it twice. It must be a compliment in their mind.

Him: Hi
Him: Hello
Him: Kizz kizz
Him: Miauuuv
Just NO 😂

Him: Hi!
Him: Bye!
I laughed.

On the first day I had a hard time ignoring them. I usually always make a point of smiling at everyone I make eye contact with, and I would never ignore someone that talks to me, but in Istanbul my entire trip would’ve been filled with conversations with local men if I had gone about these situations how I usually would. On the last day I had it all figured out and I could finally do it without feeling guilty; big dark sunglasses, don’t make eye contact, don’t even turn your head at them, slightly lift your hand to decline them instead of saying no and most importantly just keep walking.

The two instances that were too much happened within a few hours. The first one happened when I had stumbled upon a lovely park by accident. The second I walked in there I sensed a man turn around to follow me, but I didn’t think much of it. I sat down by a fountain for what must have been 15 minutes before I continued walking. I noticed he was walking behind me. I stopped after a little, and he walked ahead of me slowly. I saw the opportunity to cut him off and make a turn. Shortly after I had done so the two cutest turkish teenage girls stopped me to talk and practice their English. After ten minutes of talking to them I continued down my turn, away from the stalker. But to my surprise he had continued walking and taken the turn from the other side, so we met once again. The only point of the turn was an ice cream place, and he had gotten in line. I wanted to get ice cream, but continued to walk instead. He of course got out of the line and continued following me. After walking for a few minutes I sat down on a bench to read, and he sat down next to me. FINALLY he spoke a word instead of just following me, but I declined him with a NO and kindly asked him to stop following me. He sat and looked at me for a few minutes until I got up and left. And this time around he luckily didn’t follow me. Was following someone for 30+ minutes ever a good way to start up a conversation!?

The other situation happened when I was sitting at the Galata bridge to watch the sunset. Long story short, this incredibly annoying man kept talking to me for 10-15 minutes while I ignored him/tried to tell him that I’d like him to leave me alone so I could enjoy the sunset. After trying to persuade me by letting me know that he was a captain and attempting to show me pictures of him in his uniform, he eventually gave up. At least for a few minutes, then he returned to give me the last one of his mentos and kept talking. Let’s just say that that didn’t work either.

Now to be fair, the city is also filled with wonderful men. Like the man that chased me down the street to give me my bus pass after I had dropped it, or the man that got my attention to make sure I didn’t get run over by a truck as well as every single man that worked in all of the restaurants I ate at. They were all so kind and offered the best service. One even gave me a gift as I left the restaurant.

Anyways, the men didn’t effect me in such a way that I don’t want to come back, but you definitely have to be quite a ballsy girl to deal with them (if traveling solo, otherwise I don’t think it’s a problem at all). The good outweighed the bad on this trip by millions of miles, so let’s finish off with that part.

The best memories
These are the moments that were too good to be true. The moments where I couldn’t stop smiling simply because life is just so amazing. And traveling. Traveling is so amazing.

Sunset and dolphins: So I’ve already mentioned my Galata bridge sunset session twice in this post, but there’s still more to tell. After the incredibly annoying turkish man had finally left and I was fuming with anger, I decided to let it go. I focused on the sunset, on the weird rainbow square, on the glistening ocean and on the warm air making my hair blow in the wind. It was an incredible moment. And then there they were. The dolphins. Now, I didn’t know that there were dolphins in the Golden Horn, and dolphins have all days been my favorite animal. Their gentle movements through the ocean took the moment from incredible to unforgetable, and I sat there for an hour and half, with my favorite tunes in my ears and just enjoyed the fact that I was right there in Istanbul experiencing that perfect sunset.

Just pure joy: Okay so this one is a bit odd, because it can’t be linked to one specific thing that happened. BUT. When I was walking home from the above mentioned sunset, some kind of drug must have entered my body through the air I was breathing, because my happiness level was through the roof. I had Justin Timberlakes “Can’t stop the feeling” in my ears, and I litteraly couldn’t stop the feeling as I was basically dancing through Sulthanamet heading back to my hostel. I live for the moments where I manage to be so much in the moment that the most intense feelings of pure joy rushes through my body, and this was one of those moments. Because life. Because traveling. Because being happy all by myself. Because feeling like nothing can stop me. Just because.


This happy of a face can’t be faked.


A screenshot of the note on my phone from that night.

Chatting to local girls in the park: When I was at the park I randomly stumbled upon (actually I was in the middle of being followed) these three lovely girls came up to me and started talking. At first I wondered why, but then I realized that they were seizing the opportunity to practize their english. They probably only understood about 50% of what I was saying, but they got to ask me every question that they knew. They asked if they could get a picture with me, and after taking it I need to get one too. We talked for about 10 minutes, and I can’t quite describe why, but it just made me so happy.


Meze orgasm: I had read about meze, so I knew I would like it. “A selection of small dishes.” We all know that means that I can taste multiple different things in one meal. So I am IN. I had mixed experiences with Lonely Planets food recommendations, but I decided to give them another chance. And boy am I glad I did. I arrived at Antiochia and had the classic awkward solo-traveler-asking-for-a-table-conversation:

Me: A table for one please
Water: Only for one!?
Me: Yes……..

I’ve never heard a waiter ask “only for two people!?” .. Anyways, the waiter was incredibly nice. I chose the mixed meze plate and when he brought it out I could’ve cried from happiness. My picture definitely doesn’t do it justice (I’m not into photographing food.. nature is my thing. Food I like to just eat), but on the plate was some of my favorite things to eat. So I sat there, by myself, in a restaurant filled wit couples and families. I had a glass of wine and was what basically bread and dip for dinner, and I was just so happy. It was my first night in Istanbul (that didn’t include just walking straight to my hostel at least), and it had just been a really good day. And I was thinking to myself “How can something taste THIS good!?” while planning out how I was gonna copy the meal when I got home. After eating so much that I could barely get out of my seat, the waiter came to me with a gift; a handmade soap from the restaurants shop. Now, it might be something that all guests get, but nonetheless it made me very happy. Food joy at its finest.img_2972

That’s all for now! Goodbye to Istanbul. Next up was four days in Cappadocia after surviving 11 hours on a night bus, but much more on this later.

Oh wait. Just a little bit about the people I met. My days in Istanbul weren’t that social. It always differs when I travel solo. Sometimes I am all in on meeting people, making friends and hanging out with everyone, and other times I really just want to enjoy my own company. In Istanbul I met a german guy the first night that I chatted to for quite some time, he was incredibly nice and gave me lots of tips for the city, but when I woke up the next morning he was leaving #hostellife.
I made friends with two australians (not traveling together) also staying at the hostel, but we didn’t hang out outside of the hostel. The aussie girl was incredible cool; she was living in Greece with her new boyfriend and working with refugees, but at the moment her visa-run to Turkey had failed and she wasn’t able to return to Greece. I didn’t get her info, but I really hope that she’s been able to get back to Greece to reunite with her boyfriend. I love all of the crazy stories I hear and the cool people I meet when traveling solo. It’s always so refreshing to meet people who have chosen to live life differently.


A picture of the Istanbul version of Copenhagens “Strøget.” It didn’t fit in anywhere else in the post, but I like it too much to not include it. So here it is.

// Annika



Travel anxiety


Google anxiety and the first thing that comes up is a definition stated in Medical News Today:

“Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms

I am lucky enough to only feel one kind of anxiety in my life; travel anxiety.

Travel anxiety are feelings that occur in my body before I go on solo trips. It’s caused by different things for different people, but for me it’s the following thoughts that return to my mind every trip I take:

  • “WHY do I have to do this to myself!?” – In this thought, the “this” means leaving my comfort zone. WHY do I have to make myself leave my comfort zone in such extreme ways? I ask myself.
    In reality I love leaving my comfort zone. I love the thrill, excitement and adrenaline rush I get after doing so. But travelling solo is an incredible intense way of playing with my comfort zone, why I always question my travel decisions before I take off. I blame myself for booking the trip, and for not remembering that I get these feelings, and that they could be avoided if I would just travel with other people. And yes, it would be so much easier and safer to travel with friends or just stay at home, but easy and safe is far from how I want to live my life. And that, among many other reasons, is why I have to do this to myself.
  • “What if somethings goes wrong?” – The risk that something goes wrong is definitley more than doubled when you travel solo compared to when you don’t. You only have one brain and one set of hands to get you out of tricky situations and you’re an easier victim to crime when you’re by yourself. This actually isn’t something that worries me at all, because in the big picture the risk that something goes wrong is still pretty small, but it is something that worries other people. And they always bring their worry up, and put it on me.
  • “Did I pack everything?” – This thought always hits me, but over the years I’ve been better at handling it. In reality, if you have your passport (and maybe a visa) and your wallet, you should be able to handle pretty much every situation. Even though I try to feel comfortable knowing this, I am always semi uneasy about forgetting something.

Right now it’s 00:37 and I’m laying on my couch in Copenhagen. My body was filled with anxiety half an hour ago, but writing this post helped. Writing always helps. The little bit of anxiety that’s left I can definitely handle, and once I land in Istanbul tomorrow it’ll all be gone. Oh yes, I’m leaving for a 16 day solo trip to Turkey tomorrow. Which is why the anxiety is once again back in my body. More on the trip coming up!

Earlier today I saw this picture on Facebook, and it made me both sad and happy. Sad for the thousands of people that had commented and tagged their friends, and happy because I am definitely not one of them. It reminded me that I’ll take all the travel anxiety you can possible give me over going no damn where. Any day, over and over again.


In 24 hours I’ll be sound asleep in my hostel bed in Istanbul (if everything goes right that is), and I cannot wait. Goodbye comfort zone and hello unforgetable experiences, new friendships and memories for life. Under the thin layer of anxiety I am so happy I keep doing this to myself.

// Annika



The next part of our China adventure was set to take place in Huangshan, also known as yellow mountains. “I can’t believe we’re on top of a mountain in China” is a statement that defines this next part of the trip pretty well.

We boarded a train late at night from Shanghai and I woke up with an “ANNIKA, we need to show the guy our ticket” 11 hours later. With a little help from sleeping pills I had managed to sleep 11 hours straight on my first ever overnight train, and I had slept wonderfully.

Thirty minutes later, at around 7 am, we had made it to Huangshan and got off the train. We were both expecting it to be a pretty small town, but exiting the train station it quickly became clear to us that this was the city of at least a million people (we later looked it up on Wikipedia stating 1.4 mio. as the population). China still hasn’t seized to amaze me with its greatness. Fun fact: there’s more than 250 cities in China with more than 1 million citizens. That’s more than 250 cities in China that are bigger than Copenhagen.

We got out of the train station and were completely overwhelmed with the signs, cars, busses and people. It was a mad scene and so much was going on for how early in the morning it was.

Our first challenge of the day was finding a bathroom, as we had been stupid enough to exit the station without peeing (in China you need a valid departure ticket to enter the train stations).

We walked around for a bit, but no bathrooms were near. We ended up spotting a hotel, and figured we could ask to borrow the bathroom in there. The guy managing the desk was a sleep, but as we were desperate we snuck around him. We passed a man in an office on the phone, but luckily he didn’t spot us and we found the bathroom. Quite the crime riders, but when you have to go you have to go.

We made it back to the train station to find our bus. We didn’t really know what to look for, and the lost look on our faces was spotted by way too many incredible eager chinese people, all trying to make us choose their bus. The chinese can seem very intense in situations like these, and we ended up in a bus with a lady that was basically screaming at us, but luckily it was the right one.


Quick breakfast at the trainstation


The bus took us to a new town where we had to catch our second bus. We figured all of this out through the bible (Lonely Planet guide book), but it wasn’t exactly precise, so once again we were left a bit confused.
We ended up getting a ticket for something that we weren’t quite sure what was, but luckily it ended up being for the bus we were supposed to catch. I’ve never been more challenged than when traveling through China. It can be incredibly stressful not to understand any signs or any of the people surrounding you, but it somehow always worked out.

We finally made it to the bottom of Huangshan Shi and could begin our hike.


The “hike” was filled with stairs. Actually it was basically all stairs. The first thing about the hike that blew my mind were the chinese men carrying up groceries for the hotels and stores on the top. We read that they do one walk up a day. Their bodies must be dying slowly, and seeing them go through that made happy about paying a whole lot more for all the goods we purchased on top of the mountain.

When we were walking up the fog was so dense that we didn’t to catch any of the views, this made us a bit disheartened, but it was still incredibly beautiful.



Then we found this sign and it turned out we had almost 3 km left to walk through the fog

Posing with a picture of the view we were missing out on because of the fog. BITTERSWEET.


Despite the extra long walk we ended up finding our hotel. We had originally booked bunkbeds in a dorm room, but we were so tired from walking and decided that since there wasn’t a view to be seen, we might as well take a good long nap.
And so we upgraded our dormroom to one with two queen beds, and it was the best decision ever. We had cup noodles for lunch and had a good loooong nap before we headed to dinner.


Another great english translation – Would you like some stone frogs and stone fungus? I didn’t order it myself, so I sadly can’t tell you what it taste like

After a good nights sleep, we woke up around 10:30, half an hour after breakfast had ended. We had once again managed to sleep through our alarms, which basically makes us pros by now.

We had woken up at 5:30 to check on the sunrise conditions, but could, after opening the shades, quickly conclude that there would be no beautiful sunrise over Huangshan for us on this otherwise fine morning.

A bit disheartened about the whole weather situation, you know being on top of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and not being able to see a darn thing, we started gathering our stuff to head down and start the 15 kilometer hike of the day to get down the mountain.

We headed out our hotel room and had a near heart attack when we to our big surprise could see more than just 10 meters ahead. All of sudden out of nowhere we could see the famous cable car, the incredibly unique yellow mountains and the sea of clouds below us. We couldn’t contain our excitement and were jumping up and down, hugging each other in pure happiness and extreme appreciation that we’d actually get to experience Huangshan the way it was meant to be seen.

Still pretty happy


After running around the top of the mountain surrounding our hotel, trying to see all of the different pads that lead to views such as the Bear Paw and the Monkey Gazing Over the Sea we started our journey of the Western hike down the side of the mountain.


This is the very top of the mountain. We sat here for a little and enjoyed the view, but quickly hiked on to trails with less people. 



The next hours offered us both up and down hill stairs and ended up in what felt like a marathon (actually two) of constantly walking down stairs for an hour and a half. My legs and knees have never before been in such pain.

We ended the day taking our two buses back to Huangshan Shi (this time without a single second of confusion over where to go or what bus to catch) were we found a street kitchen belonging to a cute little family. There were quite a few places to chose from, but we really couldn’t tell them apart, so this one ended up winning us over because the daught in the family came up to us in the street with the menu.


We enjoyed an incredible 28 ¥ dinner and headed to the train station, where we boarded our night train for Nanjing. Part 3 of our China trip coming up.

Another nights sleep on a train

Add Huangshan to your bucket list, that’s all I have left to say. Just do it.


// Annika






Euro travel pact


The three biggest thought processes I had during the weekend I spent in Amsterdam was 1. “I am in LOVE with Amsterdam,” 2. “I LOVE life” and 3. “WHY don’t I do this more often?” 

To elaborate a bit on that last one; it really is a shame. With the plane ticket, the apartment, the food and the bit of shopping I did (really I only bought cheese) I probably spend a total of $400. Not bad at all, compared to what I got out of the trip. 

This I why I have made a pact with myself that I have to do at least three mini euro trips every year. They’re cheap, easy to fit in to a busy schedule like mine and you still get SO much out of it. Paris, Berlin, London, Prague, Rom, Faroe Islands, Barcelona, Stockholm, Dublin, Iceland. Yeah I think you get the picture, the list is never ending. So you are here by a witness of this pact that I have made with myself. Feel free to comment mean things at me if I don’t stick to it!

Edit: This post was written December 22nd 2015 (wow I just had to doublecheck when typing that – that’s two and half years ago!!!!!). I never posted it because I wanted to write about the above mentioned Amsterdam trip first, but that post is also still saved in my drafts. So here it is.

I’ve stuck with the pact though!! Which makes me very happy. In 2016 I went on weekend trips to Florence, Italy, Prague, Czech Republic and Utrecht, Holland. In 2017 I went on weekend trips to London, England (twice), Reykjavik, Iceland and on short trips to Oslo, Norway and Malmö, Sweden.

On every trip I still get those same feelings of “I LOVE life” and “WHY don’t I do this more often!?”

For 2018 I’ve only been to Budapest, Hungary this far, but the year has only just begun.

I’m pretty sure I’ll try and stick with the pact until I can’t walk on my own anymore.

// Annika

And so another year has come to an end

Personal, Travels

2017 felt like a year of few travels, but after going over the trips I went on I have to admit that that is complete nonsense. I guess I feel that way because 2016 was so insanely filled with travels that any year following that had a whole lot to live up to. 

January 1st I woke up with some of my best friends in New York City in a beautiful apartment on the 44th floor after ringing in the New Year in a warehouse in Brooklyn. 

In April I journeyed to China with an amazing coworker/friend of mine, a trip that turned out to be one of the best I’ve been on. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced as much in 10 days as I did on that trip. 

In May I travelled to London to visit family. I had only visited London when I was a little kid, so this trip felt like my first London experience and I fell in love with the city. It has so much more charm than I had expected. 

I moved in to a new apartment in one of my favorite areas in Copenhagen in the beginning of the year, why I decided to stay home for the summer and relax completely and just take in what Denmark had to offer. Despite the fact that it was a historical bad summer weather wise I had an absolutely amazing summer filled with best friends and festivals. In August I left the country shortly for a Swedish festival where I got to see a bit of Gothenburg and a few of my favorite artist. 

In September I was back in London on a trip with my favorite coworkers to try the Gin Experience at the Portobello Road Ginstitute. Once again London had me. 

In September I also went on an incredible weekend trip to Iceland. A country I hadn’t visited before (other than countless layovers at the airport). It blew me away and I’ve decided to return on a two-week trip sometimes soon. 

In November I travelled to New York to visit a bunch of my high school friends. I had an amazing week in the city that never sleeps. I stayed with my friends in their apartment, so for a week I got the true New Yorker feeling and actually ended up feeling like I had moved in. It was perfect. 

In November I also went on the infamous “Oslo båden;” a ferry that sails from Copenhagen to Oslo over the weekend, leaving you with seven hours to explore Oslo. A full weekend in Oslo would’ve been perfect, but despite the short amount of time I got to see quite a lot of the city. The main attraction for me was seeing the beautiful opera house. 

In December I went on a short weekend trip to Malmø in Sweden. Malmø is the third largest city in Sweden and is just a short 40 minute train ride from Copenhagen, making it a perfect trip if you don’t have too much time on your hand but still want to leave the country. The city is very cute and cozy and I’m in love with the area out by the Turning Torso building where you have a view over Copenhagen and the Øresund Bridge. 

All in all it’s been an incredible year of travels. Traveling and experiencing other countries is still without a doubt my biggest interest and I feel incredibly blessed that I am able to travel as much as I have been. 

For 2018 I definitely want to go on at least one trip by myself, something I didn’t do in 2017. 

I’ve started dreaming about my trips of 2018 and am currently thinking the following:

– A trip to Turkey in the spring. I want to spend a few days in Istanbul and then go to Cappadocia to hike and fly in a hot air balloon. 

– A trip to Nicaragua in the summer where I want to work at a surf and yoga hostel so I can get back to surfing on the daily. Potentially this trip could be mixed with a stopover in Costa Rica 

– A weekend trip to Budapest have been on my list for way too long, so I’m thinking 2018 is also the year where I get to experience the city

– A trip or two to the United States. My best American friend is throwing a wedding so ideally I’ll be visiting for both the wedding and the bachelorette party 

In 2016 I made a deal with myself that I have to go on at least three weekend trips, which also makes room for two other European cities on that list. Maybe Edinburg and Vienna? Who knows. 

Knowing myself I know very well that what’s on the drawing board today probably won’t be in a few months, but for now those are the trips I’m dreaming about. 

Also my life is going to change radically in 2018 as I’ll return to school and thus put life with a steady income behind me, so to make all of these trips happen I’ll have to get real creative.

I can’t wait to see what places 2018 takes me to. 
// Annika



After stressfully leaving work after attending a meeting,  finishing off answering the last emails and printing every travel document we would possibly need for our trip, we grabbed a cab to the airport. “That’s not very backpacker of you” a colleague said, but being thirty minutes late there was no time for the backpacker way just yet, whatever the backpacker way might be.

We had booked our flight with Aeroflot and had a layover in Moscow. After booking our tickets we heard from multiple people that Aeroflot is the worst airline in the world. It turned out to be a great experience, and except for a minor communication breach in Moscow airport where we weren’t informed that our gate had changed from 57 to 50 (or at least only informed in Chinese and Russian which really didn’t help us at all), I was very pleasantly surprised with Aeroflot.

After two one hour naps on the two and half hour flight to Moscow and something like seven hours of sleep on the eight hour flight from Moscow to Shanghai we were feeling on top when we reached Shanghai. On the plane I had looked through my sacred bible, the Lonely Planet travel book, and had noted five things we had to do in Shanghai. This pretty well sums up our level of prepartion for the trip.

The bible. It weighs a ton and is unhandy to carry around when backpacking, but I would not have survived the trip without it. And I am not even joking.

To our surprise my colleagues friend picked us up at the airport, which meant we didn’t have to think about transportation to Shanghai downtown as she and her sister had it all figured out. After a quick stop at Starbucks (yes that was sadly the first thing I bought after arriving in China) we were on our way.
On the metrotrip to downtown Shanghai we got a good glimpse of Shanghai’s size (it is the biggest city in the world), sinze the metro takes three hours from one end of the city to the other. Luckily we only had to travel an hour and a half to get from the airport to the center.

My happy face and the beautiful view from our surprisingly nice hotel

After arriving downtown we got to our hotel, took a quick shower and headed on out to explore the beautiful and interesting city that is Shanghai.

I’m intrigued by the Chinese way of drying laundry

Also a bit intrigued by their way of doing the electricity

The first true culture shock I had was seeing this bamboo scaffolding

First stop was the famous The Bund and it did not disappoint for a second. That skyline is so unreal to look at, and it really took my breath away. I think the New York City skyline will always be my favorite, but Shanghai just has something special about it and definitely comes in second. The pink TV-tower especially adds a very kinky, Asian, sci-fi look to it which I love.

We headed on down the boardwalk and after enjoying the view of the city we decided it was time for lunch and our first real Chinese meal. After walking around for a bit we found a spot. As in any other town, choosing food is really hard.
I usually have two rules: avoid places with pictures of the food and avoid places that translates the menu into multiple different languages. In China I had to throw those rules out the window. I needed either a picture or an English menu to figure out what the heck I was ordering, and seeing pictures of the food is a whole lot easier to deal with when you don’t know what much of it is. Instead I’ve added a new rule: “Avoid restaurants in China stating that they are a Chinese restaurant.” No shit sherlock.

For my first Chinese meal I had some sort of dough with vegetables and meat inside of it (delicious) and noodle soup with beef and veegies (also delicious). I’ve never had noodles as good as those and I instantly got excited to explore further the upcoming week.

After lunch we got lost in Shanghai. We visited a shopping area with a temple that had an “If you’ve never visited this temple you haven’t truly been to Shanghai” reputation.

We visited a famous 200 year old tea house which was a crazy crowded place. The look of the buildings continually amazed me throughout the day. To think that it is not a fake look-a-like of a Chinese building but actually how they build is incredible. Walking around Shanghai is like a classic China town experience that never ends, except a thousand times better.

All of a sudden we found ourselves wandering around a very local part of Shanghai, which was incredibly cool to experience. Once again you see the whole laundry situatuion being on point.

The contrast of the local hood and the big glass skycrapers in the background was quite remarkable.

Sadly after walking around for a while it started to get really cloudy. And the clouds we’re hanging low meaning they covered the Shanghai Tower. Visiting the viewing platform in the Shanghai Tower was at the very top of my to-do-list for Shanghai, why I was not happy about the sudden weather change. It was also getting cold, so we decided to head back to the hotel to change and relax for a bit.

Two hours later we woke up from a surprise nap a bit confused. We were supposed to have met up with the sisters at 7 pm, but woke up at 8:30 pm. Woops! It must’ve been a much needed nap.

After realizing that our two top priority wishes for the Shanghai trip; going up into the Shanghai Tower and drinking a drink at Sir Ellys Roof Top Terrace with a view of the skyline, were not possible due to the fog and clouds, we decided to stay positive and head for food instead.
We ended up having two smaller dinners which turned out to be two more awesome Chinese food experinces. Great day to be alive!

During the trip I collected bad english translations. This is one of my favorites. Personally I am all for trying local specialties and new food in general, but I couldn’t make myself order dirty acid beans. Maybe next time.

We headed back to the hotel room and planned out the next few days which we were going to be spending in Shanghai, Huangshan and Nanjing.

Proof of just how bad the weather had turned – Our previous view of the skyline was completely gone when we returned to our room

Despite the bad weather I fell a sleep with a huge smile on my face, so excited to continuously have my mind blown over the following days.

Our second day in China was supposed to begin at 9:15 by meeting the sisters at their hotel room for an easy breakfast we had purchased at the market the day before, but I was woken up at 9:25. Jet lagged and tired as we were we had gone straight back to sleep after the alarm had awakened us.

We made it out of the hotel around 11 am, and headed straight for the metro station to explore the area in Shanghai called the French Concession. As we got there it was clear that it was pouring down raining, as everyone leaving the metro stop opened up their umbrella when reaching the end of the escalators.

We stopped at the first bakery and got walnut bread, walked around until discovering a cafe and sat down for coffee for a looong time. We walked a bit more around the area before venturing outside the beautiful yet very touristy area.

We looked through the Bible (my Lonely Planet guide book) to try and identify a nice place to eat lunch and decided on Cha’s. It seemed like a very local spot and served me some pretty good fried noodles with BBQ beef.

After lunch we headed back to down town Shanghai. We did a bit of shopping in Forever21 (when in China you know…) to prepare ourself for the upcoming days of hiking, before we ventured back to our hotel to change our clothes and get ready for our overnight train-trip.

Day 9 in China – and why now day 9?? – What about day 3-8!? On day 9 we returned to Shanghai, so to gather all of my Shanghai experiences in one blogpost I’ve skipped ahead.

As mentioned above we did not get to see the Shanghai skyline at night during our first visit in Shanghai. The specific view of the neon-lit skyline had been a the top op my list since I found out I was going to Shanghai, so leaving the city without having seen it had broken my heart a little bit.
For the remainder of the trip we had been keeping up with the weather forecast of our last night in Shanghai. Since we were returning to the city we had one more chance to get the full experience.

Day 9 started out in Beijing more than 1,200 km from Shanghai. To make it from A to B we caught one of the fastest trains in the world and made the journey in less than 5 hours. The fastest I caught the train going on the information screen was 302 km/h, which much to my surprise didn’t seem THAT much faster than the classis danish trains I usually ride. As we were getting closer to Shanghai we passed fireworks and both quickly agreed that they must’ve been a “Welcome back” greeting to us.

The weather forecast we had been following closely showed that it would be raining when we got to Shanghai, but as we exited the train station at around 8 pm it was all dry. It was cloudy, which was okay, because the clouds were more than 600 meters up in the air meaning that we could still see the top of the Shanghai Tower. I was beyond exstatic about seeing the top of the building. Dreams really do come true.

As mentioned we got to Shanghai at 8 pm and we had five things we needed to do before going to sleep:

  1. Buy sneakers (we had fallen in love with a pair of sneakers from the chinese brand, Anta, during our first days in the city, and both agreed we couldnt leave the country without buying them)
  2. Check in to our hotel
  3. Gain access to the observatory in the Shanghai Tower
  4. Enjoy a gin & tonic at Sir Ellys roof top terrace
  5. Eat dinner somewhere along the way

Even though we ran, our less than two hours in Shanghai didn’t give us enough time to make it to the top of the worlds tallest observatory to gaze out over this beautiful sky line. We managed to get to the sneakerstore, buy four pairs of sneakers, check in to our hotel, do a quick change of clothes, grab a to-go cheese burger from McDonalds and run to the metro.
When we walked out the Metrostation and got to the Shanghai tower we had to face the harsh truth that the building had closed. We were literally four minutes late.

We met two danish guys infront of the building (I randomly met them both at a John Mayer concert in Copenhagen a month later – Now that’s a small world!!!) that were equally as dissapointed as us, so we decided to share a cab back to the other side of the river with them. We were still heading for that gin & tonic.

Much to our surprise the city “turns off” the tacky, kinky and incredible light show that the sky line is so famous for at 22, and not 23 as we thought, so we didn’t get to see the neon lights from the sky bar, as we had planned, either. But in the end it didn’t really matter. Even without the lights on it was still incredibly beautiful and everything I could have ever asked for.

After 10 days in China, a country where I can’t communicate properly with the people, those two things were the only things that went wrong and as I sat there with my G&T gazing out over the supposedly dark skyline I still could not have been happier or more excited about everything I’ve experienced within the last 10 days.


Why starting a travel blog is one of the best things I’ve done


I haven’t posted as much as I would like. As of right now my blog has 28 blog posts and 20 drafts. I’ve travelled to Amsterdam, Prague, New York, Sweden and other places that I have not yet posted about. But starting a travel blog is still one of the best things I’ve done.

Why, you might ask? I’ll tell you why.

Once in a while I take out a few hours of my day and I read every post I’ve posted. That is what I had just done when the idea for this post hit me. I reread how I in my blogpost about my second day in Florence had stated that “that was probably the greatest place I have ever enjoyed a cup of coffee” after enjoying a cappucino on top of a department store with the most stunning view. A few post later, when talking about my sailing trip when visiting Greenland I wrote that the cup of coffe I enjoyed while sitting in a mountain intersection in the middle of Greenland was “probably one of the best cups of coffees I’ve had. More so because of the surroundings than the actual coffee.” It made me laugh, but it made me smile more. How lucky am I to twice in 2016 have had dranken coffee in the most beautiful place I could imagine in that given moment? And how lucky am I to have written it down, so I time and time again can be reminded of how extraordinary these two little moments really were?

When I was in Greenland I had completely forgotten about that Florence cup of coffee, and if it hadn’t been for my blog, my travel diary, I probably would have never thought about it again.

Travelling is what I spent most of my money on. It is how I regenerate. How I become a better and wiser person. It is how I open up both my world and my mind. It is how I challenge myself and how I leave my comfort zone. Travelling is my biggest passion. It is how I gather endless amount of irreplaceable experiences, adventures, friendships and memories. So why should I only live through each trip once? Why not capture it forever, instead of slowly allowing it to get pushed further to the back in my mind, making room for new memories, until it becomes so distant that I only remember that I once visited Greenland, and not how good that cup of coffee tasted, how absolutely unreal the setting was, how crisp the air felt in that moment and how it was accompanied by the most beautiful sound of complete and utter silent that I have ever heard?

Having this blog, I get to re-experience all of my most magical moments over and over again, as many times as I would like. And I get to share them with both likeminded travel loving peeps and the people that I love. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.

// Annika

Ten days in China


I just got back from the most incredible adventure in China. It’s been a trip so amazing that I couldn’t have imagined it any better. All of the logistical things that could have gone so wrong all went right, which I was not expecting them all to.

Early morning arrival in Shanghai, ready to take on China with a grin on my face and zero idea of what was to hit me

I’m in the middle of busy season at my job, why there has been no time for daydreaming of Chinese adventures, planning the trip in details or even really being excited about going. I think this helped the trip out as I left Copenhagen with zero expectations for what was to come. The only thing I was expecting was a VERY different culture from the Danish and to be hit with a lot of new experiences.

Excitedly updating my Instagram story when packing the night before take off

Back in mid February I booked the trip with my co-worker. She had been wanting to go, while the idea of my participation appeared out of no where over lunch at work. Four hours later my flight was booked.

I had been trying to figure out where my Easter break should take me, debating Morocco among other places. China definitely wasn’t on my list of places I had been considering, or even top 20 on my travel bucket list for that matter, but when the opportunity to go came up I couldn’t pass it down, and thank god I didn’t.

We quickly realized that planning a China trip is far from easy. Furthermore, I’m not usually one for planning all too much before I leave for an adventure, but this trip was a bit different.
How does one cover as large of an area as Europe in just 10 days? The answer is one doesn’t. And so the research had to begin to make the very most of our scarce time in this massive country.

We knew three things; 1. we were both arriving and departing the country from Shanghai, 2. we had to stop by Nanjing, as my co-workers friend is studying there and visiting her was the initial point of the trip, and 3. we wanted to cover as much ground as possible.
With these things in mind it was clear that our trip had to be all about eastern China. When researching things to experience in the country we found multiple places we wanted to see that just so happened to be more than 2.000 km away from our origin Shanghai. Oh well, maybe next time.

Our first draft of a plan of places to go quickly got shut down by my co-workers friend and we were told we were waaaay too optimistic about how much time we had. She cut 2-3 places out of our plan and send it back to us. Even though we were sad to see places we really wanted to visit disappear from our list, we agreed that the new plan was good, and it ended up being what we stuck with.
Now after the trip is over I am extremely thankful that we had someone to edit our plan, as we really wouldn’t have had time to enjoy China with our initial itinerary.

Anyways, what ended up happening in our ten days in China was the following:


Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) 



The Great Wall 

More specifically our itinerary looked like this:

Day 1: Arrived in Shanghai at 9:00 am
Day 2: Left Shanghai at 20:15 pm
Day 3: Arrived at Huangshan early at 6:50 am
Day 4: Left Huangshan at 20:30 pm
Day 5: Arrived to Nanjing at 3:00 am (hence we had the whole day in Nanjing)
Day 6: Left Nanjing at 22:00 pm
Day 7: Arrived in Beijing at 9:30 am
Day 8: Left hotel at 8:16 am for a day trip at the Great Wall and got back at 20:40 pm
Day 9: Left Beijing at 15:00 pm and arrived in Shanghai at 19:50 pm
Day 10: Departed Shanghai at 11:00 am

Phew, reading that makes it sound incredibly stressful. I’ll admit that I, before we left, expected to get back to Denmark completely exhausted because we hadn’t had time to breathe on the trip, but it didn’t turn out like that at all.

Of course we could have spent more time in each place to get to see more, but there wasn’t a single time we had to leave a place where I felt like I hadn’t seen what I really wanted to see (okay that’s not completely true, but it all ended up working out. More about that in my Shanghai post).

It was also extremely helpful that our main transportation happened overnight with the amazing Chinese trains. This is something I’d recommend everyone traveling in China to make use of, as you save so much time and get surprisingly comfortable beds to sleep in.

Even though we were traveling every day the early morning arrivals and late night departures made it so that we basically had two full days in each place.

My top three moments of the trip include seeing the Shanghai skyline in both daylight and at nighttime, having a completely authentic Great Wall experience and hike and leaving our hotel room at Huangshan to discover that the dense fog we had hiked up the mountain in had finally disappeared and instead revealed the most marvelous mountains.
I’ll be exploding those moments and much more in five upcoming posts on the different parts of the trip. For now it’s finally, after 20 hours of traveling, time to go to sleep in my very own bed with a big smile on my face over everything that has gone down in the last ten days.

// Annika

Last trip of the year


It was late October and I was skyping with my parents. I told them how I was gonna go to New York City to see all of my best friends this coming summer for a week or so, but as we later on in the Skype session started talking about New Year’s Eve it hit me; Why not go for New Years??? I was far from excited about the potential plans I had in Copenhagen and at the same time I was missing my American girls too much. 

Less than an hour after the thought had occurred in my mind I had cleared it with the girls, gotten it approved from my manager and booked the flight. The most impulsive travel decision I’ve ever made, and to be honest I’ve regretted it quite a few times since. Within the last two months I’ve been to Texas, Prague, Amsterdam and Sweden. I’ve also kept up with my full time job, found out that I’m moving in one month (which means planning and packing) and tried to study for an exam that just so happens to be the day after I get back from this trip. 

I’ve overplanned my calendar and am starting to wear myself out a bit. This year I have taken every opportunity to travel, causing me to not have spent a single day of vacation at home in my apartment. As much as I love travelling, I also need days home on my couch to take everything I’ve experienced in, and I’ve neglected that part of myself a bit this year. I need hours to write down tales about my travels and dwell on the special moments I’ve had, which is exactly why I have this blog. I’ve been on nine trips this year, and I’ve only blogged about two and a half (a half because I never finished my writings about Sri Lanka), which means that I have the longest list of stories to write and 15+ drafts that mainly consist of posts that are halfway done. 

However, I wouldn’t have given up a single one of those trips, and now that I am heading for the airport I feel endlessly excited to be back home in the states and see my best friends. 

For the first time in a year I don’t have any plane tickets waiting for me on my fridge (really they’re usually just in my inbox, but fridge sounds better), so I’m planning on enjoying this trip to the fullest. The auditor busy season is coming up, but I’m hoping to spend the little free time that I do get on writing down all of my memories from the trips of 2016. And of course, recharge for my next trip that’s hopefully gonna be in April. I can’t stay away from the airport for too long. 

For now I have four days to spend with amazing people and a city that never sleeps and I cannot wait. 

// Annika

Hiking Lille Malene

Adventures, Travels

On our Sunday off of work we went for a hike on Lille Malene. Meaning “Small Malene” in danish, Malene being a girls name.

This was without a doubt the most spectacular hike I have been on, so much that even Hawaii can go home. It was also the steepest hike I’ve done. There were times I looked up the mountain and had to ask my co-worker if he was sure this was hikeable. And to think there is a Store Malene (Big Malene) too…. I’ll save that one for my next visit to Nuuk!

Throughout the hike I was continuously debating with myself whether this was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or not, and I think it just might be. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.


When walking up the mountain you kept having to turn around to get every aspect of the incredible view that kept getting better with every step you took


I almost sacrificed my life for this picture. Stepping 2 meters up on that rock meant EXTREME wind that I was not prepared for. Whoopsies. Great picture though



Gotta stay hydrated

Yup, I will just see you up there


After climbing the steepest part of the mountain we took a well deserved break in the sun



This lake is located on Lille Malene, and is where Nuuk gets their drinking water from. Pretty cool





Made it to the very top!


I tried to pull of a headstand at the very top of the mountain, but as you can see it didn’t quite work


Feels about reaching the top



One more attempt


Aaaaand there we go


As we headed down the other side of the mountain the sun started to set which gave us the most beautiful light


In the winter this mountain is where you go skiing in Nuuk. Crazy to think with all of the rocks we passed by. We walked back down the mountain along the ski lift

Pretty amazing right?

// Annika