Doing absolutely nothing in Malaga

Travels

I usually prefer to be a traveler, an adventurer or maybe even an explorer when I get on a plane and head for somewhere new. This time around, however, I was a tourist on vacation.

You know the kind of trip where it really doesn’t matter where about in the world you find yourself, because all you really do anyway is relax. It was a first for me, and I liked it more than I was expecting to (though it definitely won’t replace my usual way of traveling).

And to say that the country of origin didn’t matter AT all would also be to lie. I did visit the Picasso museum in the city that the artist himself was born in, and all of the time that wasn’t spend laying down on my beach towel was spent devouring Spanish food, wine and sangria. Something that most definitely taste better and feels more right when you’re in Spain.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve relaxed like this (well that’s not true – it was in Turkey about a month ago, but that was a bit different as I was still being active with kitesurfing).

My top three moments of the trip were:

Nudist beach – We visited a nudist beach, which was a first for all of us. The first few minutes were a bit odd, but I quickly adjusted to the nakedness of everyone. The craziest part was that there was a bar/cafe. Ordering drinks and eating lunch in a cafe were two things I never thought I’d be doing naked, but now I can check em off of the list. Other than feeling incredibly free, what was so amazing about the nudist beach experience was that it really had me thinking about and questioning why being naked at the beach isn’t the norm. Why was bathingsuits ever created?
A man got in the ocean with his two friends while we were there and uttered a loud “Eyyyyy – it’s as free as we can be.” And he was right.

Beach + beer + talks – One of our days at the beach turned into a deeper conversation than we usually get into. And one beer turned in to six. All of a sudden it was 8 PM and we had missed lunch time. It was just one of those perfect days, and there isn’t much more to say about it.

Boat trip – We went on a three hour boat trip on a huge catamaran. Being on the water was incredible as always. Especially stopping the boat in the middle of the sea to continously jump of and get back on the boat. I loved it.

And of course also all of the food I ate…

The gist of my trip was somewhat like this:

Day 1: woke up and went to the bakery, ate breakfast, went to the beach, went to dinner, went out for drinks, went to bed.

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The view from our rooftop terrace – The whole building had acess to it, but we didn’t meet anyone else up there

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Una cerveza por favor

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We had the BEST dinner on the first night. Here featuring tuna tartat and the next picture duck tartat, which was a first for me.

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We found this incredible bar that was owned by a very ecentric lady. The look of the place was not very inviting, but she had every bottle of alcohol and mixed some killer cocktails. We visited a few times.

 

 

Day 2: woke up and went to the bakery, ate breakfast, went on a day trip to a nudist beach, ate lunch at the beach, came back and had dinner, watched a movie, went to bed.

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Visiting a nudist beach for the first time was a really cool experience for me

Day 3: woke up and had breakfast, went up on our rooftop terrace, went grocery shopping at a market, went to the Picasso museum (where they also had an incredible Andy Warhole exhibition), went back to the rooftop, cooked and ate dinner, played games and drank wine on the rooftop, went to bed.

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A street artist had placed these old school pixelized mosaics all over town on street corners. I of course loved it.

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I loved the architecture in Málaga. Esepecially how most windows in the old buildings were really double doors.

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I am in love with this picture. I had never seen it before. 

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Day 4: woke up and had breakfast, went on a three hour boat trip, went to the beach, went to dinner, watched a movie, went to sleep.

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Day 5: woke up and had breakfast, went on the rooftop all day, went out for ice cream, did some shopping, went to dinner, went to a hookah bar, went to bed.

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I looooove this picture. Our rooftop tanning days could only happen because of this shower. At least every half hour you needed to wash off to be able to handle the heat. 

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Day 6: woke up, went out for breakfast, went to the beach, went to dinner, went to bed.

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Nature is so freaking cool. LOOK AT THESE BABY SHELLS.

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Some of the best octopus I have had. Yum yum yum.

We basically did nothing and saw nothing! But I’ve read three books, eaten a whole lot of amazing food, completely unwinded and worked on my tan with such an intense effort that I haven’t shown since my University of Tampa days. And most importantly I’ve become even closer with my two best friends.

Malaga was great. I loved the palm trees, the architecture and the food, and the Picasso museum is definitely also worth a visit. The beach isn’t really anything special, but it has a good view and is perfect for adults who like being in the water. The negative side to the city is that it is touristy, and there’s way too many Danes (this comes from a person who prefers not meeting any Danes when traveling).

If I had to choose, I definitely prefer the adventurous trips where I get to explore and have my mind blown with new experiences, but one doesn’t necessarily have to leave out the other. And this trip taught me that just laying is completely okay. Sometimes.

// Annika

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Hiking through Cappadocia

Adventures, Travels

The whole reason for my Turkey trip was visiting the Cappadocia region and more specifically; flying in a hot air ballon above Cappadocia.

I had decided to take a night bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia to save time and not travel during the day. This was a BIG mistake. Here’s a little something I wrote while on the bus:

I’m awake after a night of horror. I woke up when a crying baby was sat down next to me. Why? How? Nightbus never again.

We made a stop. I took of my sleeping mask and pulled out my earplugs. I ran to the bathroom. I got Oreos. I returned to the bus.

We took off again and my eyes were starting to adjust to the light. When I really opened my eyes I realized how beautiful it was. Mountains to the left, flat fields and a lake to the right. A sheephurder passed by with hundreds of sheeps. The sun was rising, and the light was orange. Everything was peaceful, and the baby had stopped crying.

A dead sheep on the side of the road put a dimmer on my joy for a second, but then there was sunflower fields. And how can you not smile when looking at a sunflower field?

The bus driver and steward only spoke Turkish. We made multiple stops, but each time I didn’t understand what they were saying. I kept checking Google maps; a lifesaver for always being able to check you your location, even with no service. I still kept asking “Goreme?” just to make sure. But no no, not yet. I got flashbacks to China visiting the Chinese wall. I looked up from typing this and all of sudden the scenery had changed. The caves, the fairy chimneys. There they were. And it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Welcome to Cappadocia.

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Happy camper!

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The first view of the incredible Cappadocia landscape

I spent four days in Cappadocia, which I’d say is the perfect amount of time. You can do a lot of hikes, but still rest and relax. There’s no stress. My time in Cappadocia was affected by the fact that I had a cold and couldn’t do crazy hikes, so I relaxed a bit more than I usually would’ve done. I can definitely return in a few years to see the rest, but I still feel like I experienced a whole lot. My days went someting like this:

Day 1
The first day in Cappadocia was unreal. I saw what I think is the most spectacular landscape I’ve ever seen (but then what about all of the other places I can’t help but think). I had the most gewy ice cream and mashed potatoes of my life (I love gewy as a consistency) and I slept in the softest bed sheets of my life. Wowza that’s a good day. Not to mention my incredibly adventurous and thrilling hikes.

I arrived early in the morning at the bus station and walked straight to my hotel. I had booked a bed in a dorm room at a hotel, which was really nice since the place manages to both have the more luxurious hotel feeling and the feel of a hostel at the same time. I arrived at the hotel too early to check in, so I just changed my clothes and dropped off my bag.

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Like most of the hotels in Göreme, the place I had booked had most of its rooms placed in caves

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I headed straight for the famous Open Air Museum, but on the way there I spotted some caves of off the side of the road that I wanted to explore. Doing so turned out to be the best possible start to my Cappadocia adventure, as I ventured through some seriously cool caves off of the beaten track. And I had it all to myself.

Being all by myself and venturing into the caves, it turned out that I was a bit scared of actually entering the caves. For some reason, my solution to this was filming myself while doing so, which actually worked really well. A big bonus to that is that I was left with a bunch of videos of my actual reactions of seeing the caves, and with those videos I’ve made this little film (I speak danish though..).

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This landscape. I have no words.

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My happy face after exploring the first cave. I could not have been more in my element.

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Back on the track I headed toward the Open Air Museum. The museum was really cool, mainly because it had quite a few churches where the murals had been preserved. However, due to my adventure earlier in the day I arrived at peak hour, which meant multiple tours and hordes of people. I rented headphones that told me all of the details of the museum and wandered off on my own, trying to avoid the mass.

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This was a seven story building that used to house af group of nons

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When you see murals like this inside of, what from the outside looks like, a rock, you have to be awestruck.

After the museum I was exhausted (mainly due to the horrible nights sleep I had on the bus) and walked back to my hotel for a four hours nap.

When I woke up it was both dinner and World Cup finale time, so I walked into the town center and found a restaurant showing the game. I was quickly joined by a Turkish man, that worked as a tour guide in Cappadocia. We were chatting when three aussies joined us. They had been on a tour with my new guide friend earlier in the day, and coincidentally we had been on the same night bus. We had a fun few hours together, but when the game was over I was more than ready to return to my bed. My new friend offered to take me to see the sunset in his favorite valley and stop by his local deli to try a traditional turkish sandwich, but I didn’t feel completely safe doing so and really just wanted my bed.

When I made it to the hotel the view was looking a bit too good to go straight to bed, so I headed for the roof top terrace and enjoyed the sunset.

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Day 2
The second day was the most eventful out of my time in Cappadocia. My alarm was set for 3:47 am as it was the big hot air balloon day. Since this was such a big deal for me and I have way too many pictures from the trip, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blogpost just for the balloon.

When I came back from the balloon trip I grabbed breakfast and went straight for a nap. img_4132

After waking up from my nap it was lunch time (food-nap-food – What a pattern huh?). I went to the local pide place (the turkish version of pizza) and had a delicious eggplant and cheese pide.

I had decided to hike Rose Valley, which was quite a far walk away from where I was staying. On the way there I strayed from the main road a few times and discovered more awesome caves all on my own. img_3720img_3724img_3737

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Spot the self timer queen

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One of my stops away from the main road was when I decided to walk towars this church (that I’ve forgotten the name of..). When I got there I pad a tiny entrance fee and was given a flash light from an incredibly nice turkish man. I was sent in to the church all on my own to explore.

This building turned out to be really cool cause there were multiple rooms to walk through, connected by stairs and little walkways. My journey through the church ended when clausthrophobia hit me as I had walk a few seconds crouched down through a tiny alley without any light appearing. That was a bit too much for me to handle, so I turned around and continued my walk towards Rose Valley.

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When I got to the place on the road where I had to make a left turn to head for Rose Valley I was already pretty exhausted. I had a cooking class to attend later in the day, so I had a time frame I had to keep my hike within.

I started walking towards the ally and could see from above how beautiful it was going to be. The closer I got though, the more intricate the walkway became. Those who know me knows that my sense of direction is incredibally bad, so walking through the path heading there I was starting to get a bit worried. Walking further, my worries turned into feeling a bit scared and uneasy, and I could feel in my stomach that this hike maybe wasn’t the best idea. Baring in mind that Lonely Planet advised solo female travellers not to hike alone through the vallyes, and the fact that I hadn’t seen another person for about half an hour. I considered walking back for a bit, but ended up going for the hike anyways. Because adventure you know.

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These are the rock formations that Rose Valley are know for, but once you make it to the ground an incredible landscape of many different rock formations awaits.

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Look at this house!! It’s a full on mansion. The small square holes were made for pigeons to stay in. Why the pigeons needed a house I never really figured out.

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And then all of the sudden it looked like this

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And then like this

After walking for a bit I ended up meeting a couple, which settled my nerves a bit. At least I wasnt the only person in the valley. I also met a group of three young russians, one of their reactions being “are you walking alone!? Isn’t that scary??” … But at this point it wasn’t scary at all. I was just enjoying the incredible scenery surrounding me. Sadly I had to walk pretty fast through the vally to make sure that I would get back in time, but it all ended up working out.

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Towards the end of the hike this little turkish family had a small “cafe.” I bought more water (I had run out, which is never good when hiking) and couldn’t help myself when they had fresh squeezed orange juice. The oranges were surrounded by wasps and I’m pretty sure that a fly was squeezed into my juice, but at this point I really didn’t care.

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This gianormus house marked the end of the house. Today I regret not going in there, but I was in a rush to get back to town and still had about 3,5 km to walk. Next time!!!

After walking a big further a man passed me on his moped. He ended up turning around and came back for me. “Göreme?” he asked. Yes was the answer. Up until this point I had turned down rides from all of the men that had approached me, but I was SO exhausted and really too tired to care about what might happen. Afterall I could always just jump off of the moped, right?

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My knight in shining armour

While driving he asked me what I was doing the next few days, and I said that the only thing I had planned was to go on an ATV sunset drive. As it turned out he ran one of those tours and got me a reservation with a “special price for you.”

With the ride I had enough time to jump in the pool (oh myyyy that felt good) before showering, and then it was time for my cooking class.

The cooking class was something I had read about in Lonely Planet, where it is praised as one of the top five eating experiences in all of Turkey. I think I can agree with that.

The class takes place in the house of a turkish family, where they life husband (Tolga), wife, two kids and the parents of the husband.
Tolga picked me up from my hotel, and as soon I got in his car I could tell that this experience was going to be special. For the entire half hour we talked, and Tolga told me all kinds of details and stories about each town we would pass through.

When we got to the house I got to meet the lovely grandma (she was the main instructor in the cooking class, but as her english wasn’t the best, Tolga was helping too), the wife and the two kids. They were so warm and welcoming, and I was sat down in the couch with tea and cookies while the grandma and son entertained me. There was a language barrier but we managed to get by and still have conversation, the son helping out with his bit of english.

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It was me and a sweet Australian couple that did the cooking class together. They were on my hot air balloon in the morning too, such a fun coincidence.

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Grandma rocking away with her incredible cooking skills

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SO MUCH FOOD

Now, I won’t get into too much detail about the night or the conversations we had, but it was a very special experience that I will never forget. Getting to be a part of a family like that and seeing the local life upclose was amazing, and even though they have cooking classes almost every night they made me feel as though this night wasn’t just one among all of the others.

When I left I promised the grandma that I would return for my honeymoon (she was really excited about the idea of me finding a husband) and the sweet, sweet Tolga told me “you’re not alone, not single. You’re family now” and made sure that I knew that if I ever needed anything while in Turkey, I should just let him know.

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My new turkish family pictured with me wearing the handmade scarf that the grandma gave me as a gift

Day 3
On day three I felt the effects from my incredible day two. I had had three huge experiences packed in to one day, and I was left exhausted. I managed to sleep until 11:30 am (pretty good for a dorm room), and stayed in bed until 1 pm before I dragged myself up the many stairs to the pool. I stayed by the pool, enjoying my book and the feeling of the sun on my skin until the late afternoon when I had gathered enough energy to go for a hike.

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On the way to Rose Valley and the Göreme Open Air Museum I had passed a valley on the side of the road that I really wanted to visit. It was called Honey Valley, but I have later given in the name Penis Valley. You can see for yourself in the pictures.

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I obviously had to have a timer picture with one of the penises.

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After my hike I went straight to dinner at the Top Deck Cave Restaurant; a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. The mixed meze plate (gets me every time) was amazing, so I was a happy girl.

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Last activity of this very quiet day was watching the sunset from a place in Göreme called Sunset Point. I walked through the town and uphill and was very pleasently surprised with the spot. You had a 360 degree view of Göremes surroundings and everywhere you looked it was nothing short of beautiful.

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I LOVE this picture

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And this one.. Look at the moon!!

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Day 4
On day four it was time to watch the hot air ballons from the ground, and so I set my alarm way too early again to wake up and walk to Sunset Point. As the pictures show it was well worth the pain of waking up. I sat there in awe until I was the last person left and every single one of the ballons had returned to the ground.

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I had my usual breakfast at my hotel and went straight back to bed for a long nap. At arond 1 pm I managed to get out of bed and drag my body to the pool. I relaxed and red my book for a few hours before heading for an early dinner. Still feeling a bit sick I wasn’t up for another big hike, so I saved all of my energi for my last Cappadocia activity; the ATV sunset tour.

I arrived at my new friends tour hub and went straight on a shuttle bus. The bus took me and a bunch of other people to the ATV parking spot where I was given a mask and helmet. I was starting to be a bit nervous, thinking back to the last time I had rented a vehicle. In Sri Lanka I had rented a moped and after having it for 5 minutes I had already crashed it into a house…. So…. High off of reading the Power of Now I decided that right in this moment there was nothing to be scared of, and so I got on the ATV.

Luckily it was quite easy, and after a few minutes I was speeding ahead. Now, the tour was a bit so and so. Riding the ATV was SO fun and it’s definitely a really good way to see the landscape and head to multiple valleys quickly, but the next time I’ll rent one and head off on my own. Riding just isn’t as fun when you’re a part of a snake of 15 ATV’s… Still worth it though, and now I know that I am more than capable of riding one.

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I felt pretty badass sitting here

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My new friend that gave me the ride back from my hike

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So. Much. Dust. I usully have quite dark hair on my arms, but not this evening.

I had initially made plans to meet up and have a cup of tea with my new turkish friend from the cooking class, but after the ATV tour I was completely out of energy, so I ended up cancelling. I’ll have to see him the next time I go to Cappadocia instead.

When I returned to the hotel I jumped in the pool, and after getting out two german men staying in my dorm room invited me to have a beer with them, and so I spent my last night talking, laughing and sharing stories with them. I’m now more convinced than ever before that I need to go to October fest i Münich.

Day 5
On the last day all I did was wake up, grab my bag, head into an airport shuttle and stare out the window until I reached the airport. I was flying to Izmir and heading to a small local coastal town called Gülbahçe where a week of kitesurfing was awaiting.

Going to Cappadocia should be on everyones bucket list. Just saying.

// Annika

Three days of Istanbul

Travels

Wow.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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The view from the ferry while waiting for take-off

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Coolest phone booths I have EVER seen.

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

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Just call me self timer queen.

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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.

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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.

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

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The balik ekmek boat.

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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.

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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!

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

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

Him: Hello
Me:
Him: Are you from italy
Me:
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
Me:
Him: Hello
Me:
Him: Kizz kizz
Me:
Him: Miauuuv
Just NO 😂

Him: Hi!
Me:
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.

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This happy of a face can’t be faked.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Huangshan

Travels

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Shanghaaaaaaai

Travels

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.

 

Ten days in China

Travels

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:

Shanghai

Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) 

Nanjing 

Beijing 

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

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.

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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

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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

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Gotta stay hydrated

Yup, I will just see you up there

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


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

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IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL

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Made it to the very top!

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

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Feels about reaching the top

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One more attempt

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Aaaaand there we go

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

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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

Fjord sailing in Greenland

Adventures, Travels

On our Saturday in Nuuk, the major event was that our co-worker living in Greenland got to take us out on the company boat.

My-oh-my was that an experience. Seeing icebergs, the mountains up close from the ocean and sitting out the front of the boat while going full speed ahead are all moments I will never forget.

Just see how beautiful it was.

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The harbour of Nuuk

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Taking pictures of the photographer

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Look at that tiny boat!!! Really gives you a perspective of how grand it all was

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Feels like flying, I tell you

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We brought coffee

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Probably one of the best cups of coffees I’ve had. More so because of the surroundings than the actual coffee

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I’ve sailed a boat in Greenland – Wuhuu

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I feel so lucky that I got to experience all of this.

//Annika

Taken back by Greenland

Travels

Greenland is a place I have been wanting to visit for years, but in my mind it is a destination that is quite hard to travel to. For some reason it is always pushed further down the bucket list and replaced with destinations such as Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and other tropical destinations. Also the plane tickets are pretty damn expensive.

BUT, this year I was so incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to visit Greenland through work. We travelled on a Friday, got back next Thursday and were fortunate enough to have Saturday and Sunday off of work. This meant loads of sightseeing around Nuuk where my client have its headquarter.

So, even though I still have loads of Sri Lanka tales waiting to escape my pocket, and a full Barcelona trip to talk about, it is time for my Greenland adventures to be put out into the world.

We took of Friday morning and flew with Greenland Air from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq for a short layover. Big thumbs up for Greenland Air who undoubtedly had the friendliest staff I have ever experience on a plane. They were all funny, kind and loveable.

Sadly it was a cloudy day, so landing in Kangerlussuaq wasn’t as beautiful as I had hoped. The flight from Kangerlussuaq to Nuuk was aboard a much smaller plane, which was not for my liking. But we all survived!

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37 people, that’s how many this miniature plane could fit

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By now I’ve read hundreds of airplane safety instructions, but this one I’ve never seen before

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We could a nice little glimpse of the scenery around Nuuk after we made it below the clouds.

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How funny is this?? It literally fits three suitcases

If you look at a map of Greenland it makes zero sense to have a layover in Kangerlussuaq when going to Nuuk from Copenhagen, but the runway in Nuuk simply isn’t long enough to greet the bigger planes. So as of know loads of small planes are taking people to Nuuk from Kangerlussuaq. Luckily Nuuk is working on improving their runway so that they can eventually handle bigger planes.

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A good advice, if ever in Nuuk, is to run to the taxi line as fast as you can. It gets long pretty quickly, and apparently there is only around 4 cabs in Nuuk (not actually, but that’s what it felt like when waiting 30 minutes to get a cab…).

When we finally got at cab, we were instantly struck with the beauty of Nuuk. It was a cloudy day but the colorful houses and oceanside location still managed to blow me away. Most of all it was quite different from anything else I’ve seen, except maybe from the most northern part of Norway.

We went straight from the airport to our company’s office in Nuuk where we worked a few hours. During our lunch break we were lucky enough for the fog and clouds to go away for a little, which all of a sudden showcased the beautiful mountains surrounding the city. The sight of the mountains took the beauty of the place to whole other level.

After work we went to see our apartment. We were lucky enough to stay with a Copenhagen co-worker that’s currently deployed to the Nuuk office. He stays in the penthouse apartment in the tallest building in Nuuk, much to our delight. The view was nothing short of spectacular and I had to keep pinching myself every morning to believe that what I was seeing was actually real.

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We were lucky enough to get snow on our first day, but also lucky enough that it was only our first day. Every other day we had a clear blue sky and the beautiful, but incredibly sharp,  sun

After seeing the apartment we went for a short walk around Nuuk. It. Is. So. Beautiful.

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On our first night we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. This is something I have had on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and experiencing it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. With a cup of hot tea in my hand I spent as long as my neck and body temperature could handle staring up into the sky. Luckily we saw this natural phenomenon four out of six nights in Nuuk, so I got to enjoy it plenty.

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After the first day I already felt like I had experienced enough new things to go home and be happy about it, but so many incredible experiences were to come. Waking up the next morning and seeing the sight below was one of them.

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I woke up the first morning and screamed at my co-worker that she absolutely HAD to get up and see the view

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Bedroom-view-goals

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Still views from the apartment

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Living-room-view-goals

On our Saturday off we had planned to do some shopping around Nuuk, possibly to buy something made out of seal fur. Nuuk downtown is very small, so after two hours of, mainly window, shopping, we were done. I ended up only buying an art piece, which I was perfectly happy with.

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I bought this beautiful art piece in Nuuk

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Beautiful Nuuk. The buidlings are an interesting mix of styles. Beautiful wooden house and odd industrial building all mixed together, and for some reason it just works

After our shopping trip it was time to go sailing. An experience that deserves an entire post of its own. So does the Sunday activity of hiking, so other than a few more pictures of general Nuuk happenings, this will be it for now.

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The is the mounatain Nuuk is famous for; Sermitsiaq

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Dinner with a view!

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That calls for a Carlsberg (Tuborg)

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Living-room-view-goals – again…..

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And again

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Goodbye Greenland 😦

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You should be seriously excited for the two next posts! CRAZY beautiful pictures coming up.

//Annika