Culture, France, Travel

Euro-roadtrip Day 4: Dijon, France (Part 1)

Though it was sad saying goodbye to Bordeaux after a brief but unforgettable love affair with the place (haha), Dijon was a lovely surprise. It’s again another one of those places where its reputation precedes the actual experience. When people think Dijon, they just tend to think ‘Dijon mustard’. It’s a small city with a lot to offer. The old town, a designated UNESCO world heritage site, is a clean and pedestrianized area full of Renaissance-style houses and distinctive architecture with geometric glazed mosaic roofs characteristic of the Burgundy region. We enjoyed strolling around the picturesque old city. I took plenty of photos here – I may have to separate this re-cap into two posts.

Stay tuned for more pictures from this charming city in my next re-cap post 🙂

Standard
Culture, France, Travel

Euro-roadtrip Day 3: Bordeaux (Part 2!)

If you missed Part 1 of my Bordeaux re-cap, have a look here 🙂

I absolutely love the featured photo for this entry. It was just a quick, random snap on my walk around town. But when I was looking through my travel photos this one stood out to me somehow, and I felt that it brought me back to the feeling of being in Bordeaux and just taking in the life and sights of the place. The image captures the every-day, the banal: running one’s hands through one’s hair, attending to customers. Yet it also captures the meaningful too: a moment of contemplation, chatty vibes with friends, a candid smile, a distracted look of annoyance. Bordeaux was definitely the perfect place to people-watch because of the mild climate and the myriad outdoor cafes, restaurants, and bars dotted around the centre.

There were plenty of young people hanging out by the harbour with their boom boxes, families playing in the Miroir d’eau (the Water Mirror – a shallow reflective pool!), skaters and rollerbladers gliding past.

The two photos below, of the little girl on the scooter, have got to be some of my favourite shots from this trip! Just look at how carefree, how free-spirited, how youthful summers can be – it makes me nostalgic for my own childhood.

I could honestly have spent the entire summer here, and that’s saying something considering how much I love being “at home” in Copenhagen! I don’t think I’ve felt like I could live in another city besides Copenhagen until I visited Bordeaux, but I could definitely give it a go if I had the chance 🙂 I mean, just look at how stunning this city is:

The golden hour photos I took in this city were really something of a vibe too. They look like movie stills to me – walking around the place made me feel like I was in some indie French film.

Yes, you could definitely say I’m really romanticizing this place, like a typical tourist in France 😉 Can you blame me, though? It’s a pity we got to spend only a couple of hours here really. Our hotel for the night was outside the city. But as you’ve seen in this two-part recap, it was a lovely few hours, and we certainly made the most of it. My partner and I will be back here in the near enough future, I’m sure!

Standard
Culture, France, Travel

Euro-roadtrip Day 3: Bordeaux (Part 1)

This travel re-cap will be in two parts, because I just have so many shots I want to share with you from Bordeaux! I fell in love with the city as soon as we got into town. I also immediately got the feeling that it would be somewhere enjoyable to live. There’s just something about it – it’s got all the zest, elegance, and artsy charm comparable to a city like Paris, but nowhere near as touristy, busy, or dirty as France’s capital. It’s sunnier and more relaxed here. It was a perfect day for a good few scoops of ice cream, as you will see.

If Paris is overrated, Bordeaux is the opposite – I hardly hear about people visiting Bordeaux, nor talk about it except in the context of wine, wine, wine. I think this place is totally underrated as a city break – definitely worth a visit! I’ll let you be the judge, but I dare you not to fall in love with the place too… 🙂

Keep your eyes peeled for the next travel re-cap, because there are even more incredible photos I will share with you from this wonderful city. 🙂

Standard
Culture, France, Travel

Euro-roadtrip Day 2: Orléans, France

We crossed over the to the French border from Germany on our second day with no issues. Our next stopover was Orléans, in France. Mask laws were more or less the same in France as they were in Germany (masks in shops, public transport, etc.) but in general mask-wearing was more common in France, and the level of new infections increased quite dramatically in the days we were in France, so I think by the time we left a new rule had been implemented that asked everybody to observe mask-wearing in public spaces in general.

Orléans is not necessarily the most well kept place overall, but the centre had a lively vibe – there were lots of people out to eat, drink, and be merry on the cobbled streets.

The difference in our hotel breakfast really indicated to us that we were in France…madeleines, croissants, pain au chocolats awaited us when we left in the morning 😉

Standard
Copenhagen, Expat life, Home, Personal

Life Update: 4 Months in Copenhagen

This week there is a little break on the Sunday Museum post, because it’s time for my monthly update on my life in Copenhagen 🙂

Wow, it sure feels like I’m so new to the city I’ve barely scratched the surface, but also like I’ve been here forever (in a good way). It’s wild – on the one hand, there’s a pandemic going on and it feels like the world is ending. And yet, if I can be permitted to make a selfish comment, I’ve never felt more aligned or secure in myself in my entire life. Maybe moving to a new place and going outside of my comfort zone has made me less jaded, more open-minded, and renewed my zest for life – something like that. I feel like I’ve engaged more with what life has to offer in these past few months than I have in the past 4-6 years. I mean couldn’t tell you what I’ve changed in myself or my life in the years of my PhD in the UK, except for friendships and relationships and things like that – typical ups and downs of life but no radical changes to how I identify with myself.

But now? I’ve been more social than ever in some ways – I seem to somehow freely meet and cross paths with people who are inspiring me in some way. My energy level has completely changed. I’ll go out when I’m tired just to meet new friends. I reach out to people a lot more, whether it’s online or in-person. I’m very open about my life. I feel like I can talk to anybody some days and like there are interesting people out there who add value to my life. I’ve really loved meeting new people here. I don’t think about ways to avoid social interaction.

I don’t know about you – maybe this stuff comes easy to some people – but it honestly wasn’t obvious to me in previous years that people aren’t just a big energy drain, or individuals who you risk trusting that you later on inevitably regret trusting. Maybe that sounds kind of miserable, but I guess although I seem to get away with pretending that I’m holding it together, I’ve really struggled to relate to people in my life, and my peers generally, with the exception of my dear and close friends. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’ve always looked to people with so much hope, and always poured my energy into cultivating friendships, and been disappointed and betrayed in the worst case scenarios. I always wondered how others seemed to find people on the same wavelength as them, with seemingly little effort, whilst I would drain myself trying to be liked by people who were supposed to already care about me. Every year that passed I would trust people a little less, and close my heart in greater haste. But it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do anymore at this stage in my life.

The biggest shock is that random people actually talk to me sometimes, and they will literally say that I had appeared approachable somehow, whereas before I felt like if I didn’t expend effort to initiate conversations with others I would be the unnoticed person in a group of people or at a party. So I’m really surprised – especially in Denmark where locals have the reputation of being difficult to make friends with or to get to know (but I guess I tend to befriend internationals anyway). Now I’m not even saying I suddenly have lots of great friends or know many new people particularly well. rather I’m fascinated by my shift in the way I see people and how that has seemed to affect how people see me too. I can only hope this leads in a good direction.

I’m also a lot more consistent generally than I have ever been – the fact that I’ve even maintained this blog since May with multiple posts a week, on top of my new job, relationship, whatever, is actually surprising to myself. I tend to be the kind of person that trails off when it comes to new hobbies – like if I’m not good at something I’ll just give up. I’m paradoxically so much of a perfectionist that my aspirational projects never get off the ground in the first place – like I’d have to have perfected the formula of blogging, or whatever else it is, in order for me to continue trying to execute that interest and feel that it was ‘worth’ the effort.

But now? What am I even maintaining this blog for? I don’t even know, it’s not like I have a large readership or people who rely on me to post regularly. And yet I’ve made it this far, and I think it’s part of a general trend that I’m noticing in myself – a change in the way I’m managing my own hobbies and interests. Less scatterbrain, more organisational; less flighty, more committed. And yet it’s all very organic somehow. I really don’t agonise about doing stuff or put pressure on myself, I just kind of figured out what I want to do with my time, and I’ll just do it when I feel like it. It just so happens that the ratio of all this has balanced itself. I don’t know what triggered those changes, it probably happened quite gradually, but I guess this blog is just one of the things I have to show for a kind of second nature commitment I’ve made to upkeep something that I can call mine. And of course I am going out and taking photos consistently. I guess there’s a lot of different things which previously my overtly perfectionist side would have prevented me from pursuing and enjoying to the full extent, which I now treat more as therapeutic (or just plain fun) activities to do or things I value. And I guess it helps that I actually have the time to do all of these things, thanks to a job that doesn’t force me to unofficially work overtime!

Finally, the biggest change for me has been in how excited I am to think about the future these days. Before, the future was just a source of constant anxiety and deportation-related nightmares (which I’m sure I’ll face again, but still), now it seems full of possibilities and reasons to be optimistic. Probably my relationship is a big reason for this optimism – I’m just realising now that I’ve never seriously considered a long-term trajectory with a person before. Now, at the grand old age of 28, it seems like the most natural thing to do. I often felt like I would never find someone I could be in a long-term relationship with unless I drastically lowered my standards for what should pass in a relationship, and I had seriously considered whether it would be wiser for me to settle for less or different to what I really want if I want to avoid dying alone (ha). When you want to avoid thinking about the future with a person, you tend to make up excuses to justify that avoidance – that you haven’t known each other long enough yet, that it’s just too early, and so on. Whatever happens in my current relationship, I discovered now at least how I should feel when I am with someone – and it really is nothing like settling for less, or looking for excuses to hold back, and everything like I’m exactly where I should be.

Apologies for the long text – now please enjoy some recent photos I took around the city, sun-up to sun-down 🙂 It’s mid-September and I’m already freezing indoors, I do miss the last of summer…

Standard
Culture, Germany, Travel

Euro-Roadtrip Day 1: Köln, Germany

The destination of our first day in the roadtrip was Köln (Cologne), in Germany. It was probably the longest drive of the entire trip. We arrived early evening, but spent around an hour or so looking for (rather, stressing out about…haha) parking.

Afterwards, though, we had the opportunity to meet with some old friends/colleagues I knew in Bristol (who are from Germany originally) because they happened to be in the area over this period. I hadn’t seen them much even when I was still living in the UK, because of the whole pandemic situation this year. So it was truly a blessing to be able to see my friends, and it was lovely to catch up and be shown around town by them. A great start to our road trip!

Most of the photographs I took in this city were in evening/night time. Köln is a great place to walk around in the evening by the river – loved the impressive silhouette of the cathedral. I hope you enjoy these shots!

Standard
Copenhagen, Denmark, France, Germany, Travel

A week-long road trip in Europe mid-pandemic..?

(featured photo was taken on the Rødby-Puttgarden ferry)

I’ve just returned (well, a few weeks ago now…) from a week-long roadtrip with my partner. We traveled from Denmark through Germany, then France, Germany again, and back to Denmark. I had the best time, but I’m so happy to be back in Copenhagen!

When the trip was being planned, travel within most EU countries from Denmark was more or less open. Things changed in the lead up to the actual trip. Originally we would have driven through Belgium (which would have allowed us to cut through to France faster), but fresh travel restrictions made these routes unadvisable. And as a non-EU citizen, even with legal residency in Denmark, it’s virtually impossible for me to keep up with new border rules because they’re framed in terms of EU vs non-EU travellers and I’m too pessimistic to trust that I really wouldn’t be the first person to be screwed over at some border control during times like this. To be honest, as a ‘foreigner’ (or ‘Alien’ as we’re called in Danish legal lingo, ha), I want to stay invisible in emergency situations – to keep my head down and not get caught up in some bureaucratic mess.

But hey, after a summer of non-stop working (by which I mean, I didn’t take July off like the Danes do 😉 ), I just couldn’t live in fear and say no to the prospect of spending a whole week exploring new places with my partner. We’ve talked a lot already about travelling abroad together post-pandemic. This unique opportunity basically landed in our laps, and with the ‘safer’ routes still open, it sounded like a wonderful idea.

And I mean…what better way to travel in this pandemic era than by driving ourselves in a socially distanced bubble with even less contact with others than we would make in our usual lives?

So we packed our bags, and visited 6 different cities over 7 days:
Cologne (Köln), Germany
Orleans, France
Bordeaux, France
Dijon, France
Heidelberg, Germany
Hamburg, Germany

That’s about 4000km+ of driving in a week!

I took about 1500 photos on this trip so I think I’ll have to dedicate a big post for each place we visited. So for the next 6-7 posts or so, you can expect some image-heavy recaps of our trip 🙂 I will also share with you what it was like to travel with the new pandemic related guidelines in place and how it differed in each country that we travelled to (Denmark actually put France on the ‘closed’ list after we got there).

Until the next post, I’ll leave you with some actual on-the-road shots…

The weather conditions were intense…rain, storm clouds, sun, the works.
Danish countryside.
I do love this contrast of the field with the gloom and doom of the sky.
We took the ferry over to Germany.
I think I see a muffin in those clouds, ha.
The ferry was a mere 45 minutes.
I can’t resist sharing a photo I took from the car, all the way in France. Isn’t the scenery just beautiful? But I’m getting ahead of myself – stay tuned for my next posts!
Standard
Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Louisiana – ‘Fantastiske Kvinder’ (exhibition)

(featured photo is ‘Tree Pantomine’ by Rita Kernn-Larsen)

It’s another Sunday Museum post! But this one is going to be a little bit different – I’m just going to be sharing with you some photos of paintings and illustrations, mostly, from an exhibition I went to at the Louisiana showcasing surrealist artworks by women (including big names like Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite – Remedios Varo)!

If pictures of paintings is not your cup of tea, no worries, I’ve got plenty of museum posts that showcase others. Also, my camera is annoyingly bad at taking photos of paintings – so some of these images may be a bit blurry. But if, like me, you are fascinated by art and perhaps take an interest in surrealism, I hope you will keep scrolling to see what this fantastic exhibit was all about.

I am the first to admit that I don’t “know” anything about art. But I love the way that artistic expression stretches the human imagination, I love that art is a creative process, I love that art is a narrative, and, well, I also like how it reminds me that the human brain is a weird, beautiful, and profound place. I often walk around worried that everybody else is normal and that I’m not – and art can be a real consolation in that respect. It helps me understand that I am not necessarily a lone weirdo in existential free-fall, but rather that the world is full of weirdos, each of us bound to one another through shared yet unspoken passion, sadness, frustration, rage, dreams, nostalgia…and that we are all here with something to say, something to express, no matter how little, big, trivial, or meaningful our message, and no matter how quiet or loud our voice. That moment of connection and understanding when I recognise that shared experience in art moves me. Just how certain artworks evoke these feelings seem totally mysterious, yet at the same time artworks demystify life for me as well – as if a clearing fog, art presents immortal, priceless, and lucid moments that stand out in the nebulous tangle of human experience. But enough from me on my personal take on the value of art – it’s one of those things I might ramble about forever.

Anyhow, I feel like this exhibit really ticked all the boxes for me – all these aspects of art that keep me going back to museums and galleries. It was really inspiring to see some of these pieces. Even though I’m no artist, the sudden feeling of inspiration, and wanting to create something, is just so rare and wonderful. I can only hope I can return to these sources of inspiration for time to come. What are your sources of inspiration?

Below, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite works displayed in the exhibit – ones that I found thought-provoking, strange, funny, or just nice to look at. As usual I tried my best to credit the artist.

Remedios Varo, Creation with astral rays
Remedios Varo
Bridget Tichenor, The Surrealists/The Specialists
Rachel Baes, Le Leçon de philosophie
Rachel Baes
Elsa Thoresen, Surrealistic Composition
Rita Kernn-Larsen, The Party
Valentine Penrose
Edith Rimmington, Museum
Eileen Agar, Ladybird
Leonor Fini
Valentine Penrose
Frida Kahlo
Valentine Hugo, Paul Eluard and Greta Knutson
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim, Mona Lisa’s Eye (I recognised it straight away, ha)
Standard
Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark

Broens Gadekøkken (Bridge Street Kitchen), Copenhagen

Broens Gadekøkken is basically a mini Reffen, a street food market. It’s smack dab in one of the nicest areas to stroll around in the city centre – a short distance past Nyhavn and right across the bridge from The Playhouse. As it so happens it’s walking distance from my workplace as well. All I need to do is get out of my building and walk in a straight line down the road. Working in the heart of the city makes it almost too easy to get distracted by vibrant places like this, especially on a sunny day!

The food I tried was pretty good, though there aren’t as many options as you’d find in Reffen – so I suggest you do your research on the various stalls before going. It’s definitely a nice place to stop over for a quick lunch or refreshments, and I look forward to trying out a few more stalls when the city gets sunny again.

What lovely views crossing over the bridge to the street food market!
The stalls are bright and colourful.
Hygge.
Dumplings for appetiser.
Greek-style veggie pita for my main. I think having experienced cheap fresh Greek food in Greece spoiled me. This is the problem with trying new food in Denmark – I keep comparing to food I’ve had for cheaper and fresher elsewhere!
Coconut-based vegan ice cream from Nicecream – everyone I know who’s tried this place, vegan or not, speaks highly of this place.
You face some nice canal and harbour views from the market…
…like so.
There seem to be other venues worthy of a visit nearby too.
Standard
Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

ILLUM, Copenhagen

ILLUM is a department store smack dab in the middle of Strøget, one of the longest pedestrianised shopping streets in Europe. I’ve been to a fair few fancy department stores (hello, South Korea) and ILLUM strikes a good balance – it’s not intimidatingly big (it’s almost cosy!) and there’s a decent selection of stuff to browse, ranging from clothes and accessories to quirky trinkets and household items. And though this particular department store doesn’t make a point of having a massive food court or anything, there are a couple of cafes/restaurants to stop by for a bite or drink on the top floor, where you can get some really nice rooftop views of the city and the busy streets below. Keep scrolling to take a look at my aerial shots!

Standard