Looking back at the adventures of 2016.

We are already more than a week in 2017 and only now I got around to looking back at 2016. I ended 2016 sick and started 2017 sick – the flu got me. I mostly slept through Christmas and New Years and only now had time to review my past year – what I’ve been up to, what I have accomplished and what my plans for the future might be.

January & February

The first few months of 2016 started with taking a step back from all the things that have been bothering me for such a long time. I realised that it’s not a big deal to blank an exam and just re-do it a couple of months later. I spent a lot of time with my family, my friends and my pets to get the needed motivation for my studies and my life in general.

March

After a personal setback in February I managed to get back on track with everything. At the beginning of March I went on my first travel adventure of the year with my boyfriend: Budapest, one of my favourite cities. It was my second time in the city and my boyfriend’s first, so we did a lot of exploring and a lot of sightseeing. We also got to enjoy some really delicious vegetarian dishes and desserts in some really cool places in Budapest – my favourite still being Mazel Tov where I had the best hummus in a great location.

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April

In April my sister and my cousin came to visit me in Copenhagen and I had to be a tour guide and show them the most interesting sights in town. I hope I did a good job! I also flew home to Austria in April to host my sister’s bachelorette party, attend the ‘Long Night of Research‘ at the UNO headquarters, and celebrate my own birthday in Vienna.

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May

In May two of my best friends came to visit me in Copenhagen, so I was back in my role as a tour guide. May was also the time when I finished my classes at university, moved out of my apartment in Copenhagen and back home, and helped my sister prepare for her big day in June. So May was full of university, enjoying my last days in Copenhagen with my friends, saying goodbye to my favourite places, but also catching up with my people in Vienna. May was also a ‘big month’ for Austria as the presidential election mayhem started. (Summary of the mayhem: we voted from a pool of 7 people, 2 weeks later was the run-off vote, the good guy won, the result was very tight though, the ‘losing’ party sued, elections were supposed to be held again in October, something was wrong with the envelopes so they rescheduled again, the final election was in December and the good guy won again.)

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June

June was the big month for my sister. She had her wedding and I was her maid of honour. What an honour. haha. I had my first manicure & pedicure (didn’t like it), I got to drive a Tesla car for the first time, and I got to ‘enjoy’ all the wedding traditions for the first time. Even the stupid ones. yay. However, June was also the month where I had to finish all my exams and I had to return to CPH for oral exams. This was my final time in Copenhagen for 2016 as I wasn’t returning in fall. June was also the month in which the EURO 2016 happened and Austria was part of it for a little while. And it was the month in which I finally got to spend some time at home and not worry about university or life.

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July

July was my big travel month. Together with my boyfriend I managed to travel a lot through Austria. We spent a few days with his grandparents in Carinthia where we could explore the southern parts of Austria – something I haven’t managed to do before. I visited Klagenfurt and Lienz for the first time, I saw some beautiful lakes such as the Wörthersee and Weißensee. My boyfriend and I also travelled to the western end of Austria – Bregenz and Feldkirch, which also gave us the perfect opportunity to go on day trips to our neighbours Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Vaduz turned out to be a very cute but really expensive city located in a valley which is surrounded by beautiful mountains. Zürich was really really beautiful and one day wasn’t enough. Not at all! At the end of July, my sister, my bf and I took my mom to Italy as she has always dreamed about going to Venice. On our way there we also spent some time in Udine and on the beach in Caorle. Our family trip has been great and my mom really enjoyed it.

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August

August was a bit calmer, more relaxing, not so hectic. I still managed to travel to another neighbour and see the Czech town Brno. We were just a day there but it was totally worth the trip. In August I spent a lot of time at home with my family and friends. Enjoying the nature and good food was the motto of the month. Plus I had to organise a lot for my exciting plans for the rest of the year.

September

September was the month of the big move and the start of something exciting: my exchange semester in Moscow! It was a thrilling first month in Russia – full of new impressions, meeting new people, adapting to the local culture, trying to speak Russian after some years again. Really exciting I must say but also hard as I had to say goodbye again to my home, my family, my friends and my boyfriend.

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October

October was the month in which I truly arrived in Russia. I had settled in, established closer bonds with the people that I felt most comfortable with and did a lot of sightseeing already. I also went on my first trip to another city in Russia. I hopped on a train to see Nizhny Novgorod with my friends, a good place not too far away from Moscow and perfect for seeing something less polished and more ‘real’.

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November

November was my real travel month in Russia. My boyfriend came to visit me and despite all the sightseeing we did in Moscow, we also spent some time outside of the city and explored part of the ‘Golden Ring’ (towns near Moscow). We saw the snow-covered Yaroslavl with its beautiful promenade along the frozen Wolga and we also spent a day in Rostov Veliky to see the white kremlin that is located on the then frozen lake Nero.The most exciting adventure in November, however, was the trip to Murmansk – the biggest arctic city in the world and the northernmost place I have visited so far.

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December

In December my family came to visit me in Moscow. I was once again a tour guide and showed them the most interesting sights and of course the local cuisine. I also went on my last city trip and saw Kazan with its beautiful white kremlin and the amazing mosque inside it. Of course December was also all about looking at beautiful decorations and going to Christmas markets. I also managed to see a ballet in the famous Bolshoy theatre. Unfortunately, December was also full of saying goodbye to a beautiful city, an interesting country, and – moreover – some great people that I will deeply miss. However, it was also great to see my family, friends, pets and boyfriend again. I have missed them.

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Even though I had to end the old year and start the new one in bed with the flu and a sick boyfriend beside me (and some other sad things on my mind), I could only think positively about 2017. All the good memories that I made in 2016, all the great places that I travelled to, all the great people that I met. I already have a lot on my mind what I want to do and where I want to travel to in 2017.

So here’s to the new year and to new experiences!

In the north of Russia: Murmansk.

A few months ago I was thinking about which places I could go visit while staying in Russia. One of the first cities that came to my mind was Murmansk. I can’t even give a reason for that but I have always had the urge to go there. My travel partners from Nizhny Novgorod were (more or less) easily convinced and the flights to Murmansk from Moscow were relatively cheap as well. So Madlene, Marcel, Frederik & I spent an adventurous weekend in the city far up north without doing much research beforehand.

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The City Murmansk

Murmansk is located in the northwest part of Russia on the Kola Bay, which is an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula. The city is located on an extreme-northern latitude just 2° north of the Arctic Circle. It is very close to Norway and Finland – it is possible to reach both countries within a short time. The city’s name is derived from ‘Murman Coast’, and Murman is an old Russian term for Norwegians. With a population of around 307,000 Murmansk is by far the biggest Arctic city (followed by Norilsk in Russia with 175,000 and Tromsø in Norway with 71,590).

Despite being located in such an extreme Northern part, the city/region enjoys some benefits that other northern cities for example in Siberia lack. The Murmansk region has highway and railway access to the rest of Europe, as well as the northernmost trolleybus system on Earth. Comparatively warm Gulf Stream waters keep the city’s port ice-free even in winter.

Murmansk was the last city that was founded in the Russian Empire in 1916. Due to the outbreak of WWI Russia was in need of military supplies so Russia extended the railway system in order to reach the ice-free location on the Murman coast. In WW II Murmansk served as a port for arctic convoys, and afterwards it became the most important submarine base of the Soviet Union.

The climate of the region is subarctic with long & cold winters, and short but mild summers. The mean monthly sunshine hours of November are 6 and in December 0. As we were travelling at the end of November, we had around 3 – 4 hours of daylight and temperatures around -10° C.

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sunrise or sunset?!


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at the airport


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Anatoly Bredov monument

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Bandy, a sport similar to ice hockey where a ball is used instead of the puck, is very popular in Murmansk. We came across the city’s home arena which apparently has an audience capacity of 5,000. Only three places have representation in the female Bandy league, and Murmansk is one of them.

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Bandy arena ‘Stadium Stroitel’

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Murmansk railway station

Port of Murmansk

It was a must for us to go see the docks as the port is the raison d’être of the city.

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Lenin Icebreaker

In the port of Murmansk is the Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin (Ленин) which was launched in 1957. It was the world’s first nuclear-powered surface ship. After the decommission in 1989 the ship was converted into a museum.

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Alyosha and the view over the city

From the city centre we could see a huge monument on a hill a bit outside of the city centre. It is the second of the two main attractions of Murmansk so we had to go there and see it with our own eyes. Also, we thought that we might be able to have a great view over the city, which was true. Off we went with a taxi to go there as it would have taken us forever to go there by foot.

The Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War is the official name of the monument, but it is commonly called Alyosha (‘Алёша’). The statue was erected in 1974, is 33.5 metres tall, which makes it the second tallest statue of Russia. Alyosha is dedicated to Soviet soldiers, sailors, and airmen of World War II.

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Hunting the Northern Lights

Murmansk is supposedly a prime spot for watching the Northern Lights. Not Murmansk directly, as a city is hardly ever the best place for spotting them, but the region around the city. Of course we had to try as well but unfortunately we picked the wrong weekend for doing so. Nevertheless, we were still able to see parts of the Murmansk area, we got to listen to very interesting stories about the city and Russia in general, plus we went on a hike at 4 in the morning in order to have a great view over the city. Who else can say that?! Oh, and we played around with Light Painting.

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The world’s…

… northernmost McDonalds in the world. 

On our first day we wanted to bridge the annoying time between lunch and dinner (we missed lunch as we were on the plane at that time) and decided to still our hunger with a quick snack. At that time we weren’t even aware of the fact that we were sitting and eating at the northernmost McDonalds in the world (even though they had a sign for that).

…northernmost trolleybus route in the world. 

According to several sources, Murmansk has the northernmost trolleybus route of the world. Frederik and I decided to stay in bed instead (and not get up earlier before going to the airport) so we did not travel with one of them, but Madlene and Marcel did. Good for them.

… tallest building above the Artic Circle.

The Hotel Arctic which is known as Azimut Hotel Murmansk is the tallest building above the Artic Circle. It was opened in 1984. We’ve been there every day as we had to ask a few questions at their reception, ate in the restaurant Arktika once, and cleaned our shoes with their shoeshine machine.

…first nuclear-powered surface ship

We couldn’t help ourselves but we just had to go inside the ship even though we had to wait for an hour to make the tour which was of course held in Russian.

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agree to disagree on that one…

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Murmansk is probably the most northern part of the world that I will ever travel to (even though I still kinda want to go to Svalbard). Seeing another interesting part of Russia that is so different from the parts that I have already seen was a great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss. We’ve spent some great 2-3 days there, we enjoyed meals in exclusive restaurants (we didn’t do that on purpose…) that were still cheap in comparison to our home countries. We were even lucky enough to see the sun on all three days. The weather was perfect during the day. Even during the night it was warmer than I’d expected it to be (still cold though!). The best thing about the city though is that it is full of beautiful huskies!! ❤️

Swiss adventure: Zürich.

Very high on my travel agenda is to visit all eight of Austria’s neighbouring countries. I have already talked about this little ‘dream of mine’ in my Vaduz post. As Liechtenstein is right next to the beautiful country Switzerland, why not go there as well? So my little summer travel adventure brought me to another neighbouring country of Austria that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

Switzerland is located in the heart of Europe, and with 8.3 mio inhabitants it is almost as big (small) as Austria. Switzerland has the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eight highest GDP per capita. It is the birthplace of the Red Cross, famous for its neutrality, financial sector, quality of living, and of course – fondue. There are some cheap options to travel to Switzerland from Austria if you plan your trip ahead, so we bought really cheap bus tickets and went to the city Zürich for one day. Why Zürich? It is one of the closest cities to the Austrian border and it’s supposed to be beautiful.

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Exploring the city.
The day started out to be a bit cloudy with a high chance of rain, but this just made the city even more impressive and gave it a special touch. Plus, walking around in the broiling heat is too exhausting anyways! After arriving in Zürich we headed to the tourist info to get a map. We decided to loosely follow a suggested route for the first quarter of our day in town. A place that somehow fascinated me was the Sechseläutenplatz, the largest town square of the city right in front of the opera. The name of the square (Sechseläuten) is derived from a traditional spring holiday. It is a huge ’empty’ space, with a fountain that is perfect for kids to run through. People were just sitting on the square, either on the ground or on chairs, while having a chat with each other or watching kids who were enjoying the fountain. Well, I cannot really tell you why it fascinated me so much, I kind of just fell in love with the square for no apparent reason I guess :D

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Exploring the riverside.
Right through the heart of the city runs the river Limmat. While walking along the river and crossing it a few times, we got to see (old) buildings with beautiful facades such as the Frauenmünster church (which can be seen from almost any place in town I guess?), and of course – ‘special’ cars :D

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Enjoying the lake. 
There’s not only a river (actually there are two that run through the city, but we did not go to the Sihl), but also a lake! Yay! Zürich is located on the north-west end of the Lake Zürich. I’m just a sucker for lakes, so naturally, my lake-loving heart was drawn to it. There were boats on the lake, birds floating around & being fed by people. Also, the Manifesta (European Biennale of Contemporary Art) was taking place at the time, so there was a Pavillon of Reflection (the wooden building) on the lake. We were sitting on the Quaianlagen (quaysides) for a bit, watching people, birds and the city, while listening to an accordean player. Quite nice I must say.

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Where to find Food?!
Naturally, we had to go someplace at some time to eat. What a dreadful question in such an expensive country! We toyed with the idea of having fondue… but a) it was summer and for us fondue is more a winter food, and b) it would have been freaking expensive (at least at the places where we had a look at). haha. Luckily, we’d done a little research before so we wouldn’t be at a total loss. Deciding against the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world (since 1898!!!!) – the Hiltl – for reasons such as assumed high prices and too many people, we opted for the Gärtnerei, which was right next to the Hiltl. Our online research had already convinced us beforehand – the Gärtnerei focuses on healthy food and sustainability, and offers veggie & vegan options. Unfortunately, they had already closed the grill for the day when we arrived, so we had a huge bowl of salad instead of burgers. Very delicious and filling though! :)

Visiting the ETH and enjoying the view.
After having lunch there was a small thunderstorm with lots and lots of rain. It really came down in buckets. We had no idea what to do or where to go due to a lack of wifi and inspiration, so we tried to wait it out under a roofing. But there seemed to be no end to it. So we made the decision to take the Polybahn funicular that would bring us to the famous ETH – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, a science, technology, engineering, mathematics & management university in Switzerland, which is consistently ranked under the top universities in the world and with 21 Nobel Prize winners being students or professors of the institute (such as Albert Einstein or Niels Bohr). As a physics student himself, my bf wanted to go and see the place anyways, so why not? Plus, the view over the city on top of the hill was just amazing, and there were Enzis (plastic furniture) from Vienna.

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Enjoying the sun and the view from the Lindenhof hill.
We stayed inside the uni for a while (to use the wifi and to get away from the bad weather), and when we got out again we couldn’t believe it – there was the sun again!! Unfortunately, we only had a bit over an hour left for walking around while the sun was out before we had to catch our bus back home. No further words needed – enjoy the last pictures of our trip :)

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One day was definitely not enough for such a wonderful city that Zürich turned out to be. I immediately fell in love with it, and we already made plans for retiring there (provided we will be rich by then).

For any of you thinking of going there I would totally recommend just having a casual walk through the city while looking at everything and enjoying the day in Zürich. :)

Budapest Adventure: city edition.

My first post about my adventure in Budapest was dedicated to food alone (as it was one of the most important parts of the trip). This post, however, is all about the city itself and its beautiful spots.

I could write an essay about what we saw, what we did, where we ate (well, you kind of know this already if you’ve seen the post about the food) but instead, I am gonna let the pictures speak for themselves. Mostly ;)

So enjoy my ‘short’ list of what to see and what to do in Budapest!

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Free Walking Tour

As I do in most of my city trips we took part in a Free Walking Tour. We almost did not make it as we got up way too late and did not want to miss out on brunch. Also, the sun decided to hide behind the clouds during the walk. Still, it was a very nice walk, we saw all the touristy spots and got to hear interesting stories about it.

St.Stephen’s Basilica

The Szent István-bazilika (St.Stephen’s Basilica) is one of the largest churches in Hungary and apparently home to its name giver’s right hand :O :D

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Szent István-bazilika

River Danube and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, and the longest one in the EU region. It passes through (or is the boarder of) 9 countries. Hungary is one of them, and it splits its capital Budapest into Buda and Pest. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the oldest and most famous of the nine bridges across the river in Budapest.

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Széchenyi  Chain Bridge

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Lion guarding the bridge

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Castle Hill with Buda Castle & Fisherman’s Bastion

The castle of Budapest was built in 1265 and is located on the Castle Hill on the Buda side of the city. It is part of the Budapest UNESCO World Heritage Site. On top of the castle hill you have great view over the city, the danube and the bridges. Just great!

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Bridge

 

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Budapest’s Parliament

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Fisherman’s bastion with many tourists ;)

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Mazel Tov & Szimpla Kert

I’ve already talked about Mazel Tov in this post, but it was just so nice there that I had to mention it again ;) After having spent hours at Mazel Tov, where we stuffed ourselves with delicious hummus, pita bread and red wine, we decided to go to one of Budapest’s famous ruin pubs – Szimpla Kert. Yes, definitely very touristy (you can even buy merchandise and people only came to just take pictures of the bar) and over-the-top (quite strange interior & a videowall where they played catvideos from youtube) but also fun. We were lucky and immediately found a place to sit – in an up-cycled bathtub. It was quite packed, but the place was huge! We only stayed for an hour but it was quite fun.

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Jewish quarter with Gozsdu Courtyard and Synagoges

The Jewish quarters in Budapest seemed to be ‘the place to be’, also many ruin pubs seem to be located there. The Gozsdu Courtyard is packed with restaurants, pubs and bars. On Sundays, there is a popular open-air market there, where you can find real treasures! I bought a beautiful tote bag from this shop there, so I even have a little souvenir from Budapest now :)

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Walking along the Danube

The Danube is such an important river for Hungary (and Austria!) you could even write poems about it ;) Growing up ‘next to it’ made me feel especially connected to it and it has a special place in my heart (cheesy, I know!). It was nice to take a walk right next to it, see all the beautiful architecture and also have a quiet moment at the memorial next to the river bank.

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Shoes on the Danube bank

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In front of the Parliament

Great Market Hall

We’ve been told that the Great Market Hall is a total rip-off for tourists, but we wanted to have a look at it nonetheless. I just like looking at all the stands and accessories and see what typical food they offer. Most of it was sausages though. :D

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Great Market Hall

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SO MUCH PAPRIKA :O

 

Other Bridges across the Danube

The Great Market Hall is right next to the Danube, so another walk along the river was just perfect, as the sun was shining on our last full day in the city. On our walk we came across a few other bridges and beautiful spots in the city that everyone should check out.

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Liberty Bridge

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on the left – Gellert Hill with the Liberty Statue

 

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Elisabeth bridge

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Spring is in the air!

It was not my first trip to Budapest, but the first one where I paid full attention to the architecture and loveliness of the city. It was the perfect get-away.

My recommendation:

Walking along the Danube and climbing either Gellert Hill or Castle Hill is a must! From there, one can truly enjoy the beauty of the city.

Adventure in Germany: Hamburg.

Last week I went to Germany to have a little Erasmus-reunion with an Australian and a German friend. One of my friends from my exchange semester got the opportunity to work in Germany for a few weeks and another friend is living in Germany, so we all decided to meet up in Berlin. Carina has also never been there, so she came along as well :) As the best way for us to go to Berlin was by taking a bus via Hamburg, Carina and I stayed in Hamburg for a couple of days before meeting the rest of the gang in Berlin.

Our adventure started off with a >1h delay of our bus in Copenhagen. It was early in the morning and we had to wait in the cold outside. Yay. We could have gotten coffee instead, but you never know… However, we safely arrived in Hamburg and after checking-in at our hostel, we went straight to the Christmas markets and strolled around in the city centre.

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Christmas market at Rathausplatz

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Christmas market at Jungfernstieg

You could see all the people enjoying themselves. The markets were really really beautiful, even though a creepy Santa was apparently reading stories in a sledge over our heads (it sounded more like he was telling scary stories, but whatever). The whole city was decorated in Christmas lights (sometimes they went a little bit overboard with them though).

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Speicherstadt

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Pure excitement (or not) *

On the second day we explored the city itself. We spent a lot of time wandering around in the HafenCity quarter, especially in the Speicherstadt. This warehouse district is the largest one in the world, and has quite recently been awarded as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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After spending a lot of time in this district, we walked along the river to get to the Landungsbrücken (St.Pauli Piers), a landing place in the port of Hamburg. However, we were rather unimpressed by the buildings of the Landungsbrücken :D The port itself was very impressive, though.

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Landungsbrücken

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As we’ve been walking around for hours we were pretty hungry and cold, so we sat down in a cafe and had a cup of hot chocolate and a delicious bagel. Oh how I’ve missed this. Just sitting in a good bakery, with a delicious sandwich (in my case a bagel) with cheese, salad, cucumber and pumpkin seeds. Besides, finally being able to know how much something costs was great. I am still not accustomed to the different currency in Copenhagen and can never tell if something is ridiculously overpriced or just Copenhagen-expensive :D

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Jungfernstieg

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On the Lombardsbrücke

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Christmas tree!

After the break we walked around for a bit, went across the Lombardsbrücke, where we had a nice view over the Jungfernstieg and Hamburg in general, we did a little bit of Christmas shopping and had Raclettebrot/Bratwurst & Heidelbeerglühwein (Blueberry Mulled Wine) at the Christmas market at the Rathausplatz.

We also went to the Christmas market at St.Pauli and had a look at the Reeperbahn, but as it was a Wednesday night, there wasn’t much going on there :D

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Decoration at the main train station

On our last day in Hamburg, we only had breakfast at an Italian place on Mönckebergstraße. As both Carina and I were not feeling very good, we didn’t do much else than going shopping for a bit (everything’s so much cheaper in Germany!). The only exciting thing we did that day was trying Crêpe with Kinderschokolade. Very interesting choice. Later in the afternoon we took a bus to Berlin… So stay tuned, you’ll read more about the Berlin adventure in the next blogpost ;)

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Hamburg was a lovely city, too bad we could only spend 2.5 days there. We were amazed by all the Christmas lights, the whole place was just full of them. As you’ve read above, we spent a lot of time exploring various Christmas markets. I really felt the Christmas spirit there and can’t wait for Christmas to arrive :)

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* Credits: Carina Wiesinger

Revisiting Stockholm.

I don’t like flying with budget airlines as so far I have almost always had problems with them. Usually, they are not as cheap as they seem to be (additional costs for everything) and they are super uncomfortable. However, if there are tickets available for only 10,66 EUR (return tickets!!) and I have a spare weekend to fill with an adventure, I’m definitely in. So Carina and I booked our flights and we went to Stockholm right after the last exam (which was about Joe & the Juice, very hipster). As I have mentioned in another blogpost, I really really like Sweden and I have already been to its capital before, so I had good reasons to go there again.

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Selfie at the airport in CPH

As already mentioned the tickets were really cheap; however, we had to deal with the fact that we had to fly with Ryanair. One of the flights was in the middle of the day, the other was very early in the morning plus both times we flew to/from an airport which was 100km south of Stockholm. A bit annoying but hey – 11 EUR for the tickets! And as we were only staying over the weekend (2.5 days in total) we decided not to check-in a suitcase = no additional costs for us. So off we went the week before this week on Thursday at 2.20PM.

We arrived at Skavsta airport – in the middle of nowhere (why do they even call it Stockholm-Skavsta?!) – at around 3.30PM. The weather was nice, a bit cold in comparison with Copenhagen (fortunately we brought our winter jackets), but the sun was still shining (only for another half an hour longer though).

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Mini airport *

The first “day” was rather uneventful as it was already quite late when we arrived in the city centre of Stockholm (6PM). After checking-in at our hostel we went out for dinner at… Pizza Hut. Haha. Delicious, yet somewhat expensive. After very careful consideration, we also decided to treat ourselves to a piece of cookie dough cake with ice cream. The “cake” was around the size of our pizzas :D No picture available tough. But here’s one of it from another page, in case you are interested ;)

The first night at the hostel turned out to be a real horror. One of the people who were also staying in the same room with us came in late in the night, reeking, rumbling around and after a few blissful quiet minutes, he started to snore. Like a buzz saw. Yay to a night with roughly 2.5 hours of sleep.

Nonetheless, we stood up rather early in the morning and had breakfast at… McDonalds. Very unspectacular, I know. But we did not make the conscious decision to have breakfast there, we only wanted to know how cheap/expensive a classical cappuccino would be (we always do this in another country) which lead us to getting “breakfast” as well: porridge/muesli and a croissant – so at least we went for the slightly ‘healthier’ options.

Afterwards we just walked around for hours. First, we went to Gamla Stan (Old town) on the island Stadsholmen. Many old buildings can be found there, as well as the Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral) and Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace).

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Bridge to Gamla Stan

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Just to pump out a few facts about the city: Stockholm has around 900,000 inhabitants (1.6 mio in the urban area and 2.2 mio in the metropolitan area) and is Scandinavia’s biggest city. The city is spread across 14 islands, it lies next to the Lake Mälaren and is surrounded by many many islands (skerries), which is called Stockholm Skärgård (Stockholm archipelago). Around 30% of the city area is made up of waterways and another 30% are parks and green spaces. So to say – the city is very blue and green.

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Being very touristy in Gamla Stan *

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After Gamla Stan we crossed a bridge to get to Södermalm (south of Gamla Stan) so we could walk around in another part of the city for a while. Right on Södermalm is the Monteliusvägen, a 500m long walking path with a beautiful view of the City Hall, Riddarholmen and Lake Mälaren.

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on our way to Södermalm

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Statues with scarves in Södermalm

 

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View from Monteliusvägen

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Bamboo bicycle. why not.

After Södermalm we went straight back to Gamla Stan so we could have a small break, sit down in a Café and have some food and coffee. We did not even have to pay for the coffee…

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Södermalm

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Before our trip we read online that there is a photography museum and as we are both very interested in this type of art, we decided to have a look at it. It turned out that it was definitely worth the 90 SEK.

After spending a couple of hours at the gallery, we went back to our part of the town (Norrmalm) and had dinner at the London Underground Pub. Yes, we know – probably not the best place if you want to try Swedish food.

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Another Selfie that I had to ruin ;) *

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On our way back we also saw that the whole town was decorated in Christmas town. Okay, probably not the whole town, but many busy streets. Very beautiful. We even found an ice rink.

Day three started off a bit more relaxing than the previous one as we had a slightly better night – still some snoring involved but I found my earplugs in the depths of my vanity bag! We decided to have breakfast at Espresso House, apparently the largest branded coffee chain in the Nordic region. I am a sucker for bagels, so I had a cream cheese bagel which was sooo delicious. In addition, Carina and I split a cake and a smoothie and we each had a huge cup of coffee. So all in all, I think we spent around 1.5-2 hours sitting in this coffee house, eating bagel & cake, drinking coffee and listening to all variations of Christmas music. Ergo a relaxing start in the day. :D

Then we took a tram to get to Djurgården. It is a very beautiful island and home of various sights and museums like the Vasaamuseet (maritime museum), Abba museum, Skansen (open air musem) or Gröna Lund (amusement park). As I have already been to the Vasa museum before, we decided not to go there again and wandered around for a bit. Actually, we wanted to have a look at the Rosendals slott (Rosendal castle) but we just could not find it. Instead we found a very cute green house instead.

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This is a corner of a larger field.

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A bewitched house.

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On our way back we got off the wrong tram station so we had to walk a while to find the ferry boat that we had to take to get to the island Skeppsholmen. Of course it would have also been possible to take a bus or to walk there, but ferries are cool.

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Amusement park

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Skeppsholmen

Skeppsholmen was formerly used as a military station because of its strategic location (Baltic sea and everything). Now, several museums are located there, such as the Modern Museum of Art. Our main reason for going there was because you also have a beautiful view over the other islands.

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Amusement park.

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Vasa museum

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A very windy day ;)

 

 

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Ferry again.

After walking around on Skeppsholmen for a bit, we took another ferry back to Gamla Stan so we have a cup of coffee and food somewhere and warm ourselves up.

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Our ferry excitement. *

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We had such a tasty snack in a coffee house on Gamla Stan. Unfortunately, I have already forgotten all the ingredients… but something like cream cheese, honey and walnuts. Delicious combination. And again – free coffee. :D

After staying there for a while and just trying to get some feeling back in our frozen fingers and toes (it was rather windy and cold on that day and we’ve done quite a bit of walking) we decided to go shopping for a while, because what else was there to do?! Yes, there would have been many other things to explore and see and go to, but we’re gals and we wanted to have a look at some shops and see how the prices were in comparison with shops in Copenhagen. After shopping until the stores were closed, we went to the hostel, packed our bags and headed out again to get dinner somewhere. We opted for an Italian restaurant and went back to the London Underground Pub to get drinks and dessert (banana split!). Adventurous as we are, we ordered a cider that we’ve never had or heard of before.

The name of the cider was ‘Xider’. Actually, we tried to order it the last time in the pub but the waiter somehow misunderstood us und just brought us good old Summersby cider. So after getting the right drink this time, we found out that Xider is a brand that belongs to the Carlsberg group. We were definitely not part of the target group of the drink as it reminded us a bit of alcopops… :D In addition, the flavour was cactus/lime and the colour was bilious green. However, the banana split was delicious ;)

We went back to the hostel and had a good night’s sleep of around 3 hours as we had to get up at 3.30am and take a bus to beautiful mini airport Skavsta again. By the way – the airport has 4 gates. F o u r. Cute.

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We also spent almost all of our last kronor at the airport and got a lot of sweets. The flight was rather uneventful and of course very short. Unfortunately, we got to share the plane with a few hungover/still drunk people who have apparently been to Stockholm to watch the Sweden-Denmark football match. They were still wearing the clothes and things that people are usually wearing when watching a match. However, we got to see a beautiful sunrise!

 

Learning outcomes of the journey: I can look very very ‘beautiful’ (creepy) in selfies ;)

I would definitely recommend going to the Fotografiska museum. In addition, taking a ferry to any of the islands is such a nice way of looking at the city from a different angle.

Although the weather was not the best and it could have been a bit warmer, it was such a lovely trip and we had so much fun. The city is so beautiful, even when it’s windy, rainy and cold. I would have loved to go to a Christmas market there, but unfortunately, none of them have been open yet. So I will have to revisit Stockholm/Sweden again. and again. and again ;)

* Photo credits: Carina Wiesinger