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 🙂

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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!

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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. 🙂

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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 😉

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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!

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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!
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Vesterbro, Vesterbro

Tivoli, Copenhagen (Part 2)

If you haven’t seen my first post on Tivoli, I suggest you have a look here 🙂 In this post I will share another set of pictures from Tivoli, with captures of the marching band, arcades, restaurants, and funny little items I saw in the cute shops dotted around the place.

Isn’t everything absolutely adorable?

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Culture, Expat life, Personal

Summer in the city (3 Months in Denmark!)

This summer has been one of tears, goodbyes, joy, light, and love. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. Yesterday I cried because I talked to some of my friends back in the UK and I missed the life I had there and all the wonderful people I still know there. I cried because I don’t know when I will be able to see my closest friends again in person. I cried because I’ve been through a lot of frustrations and obstacles to get to where I am now. I cried because I’ve had to say goodbyes. I cried for the bittersweet memories and the unresolved stories I left behind.

But I also smiled because my life in Denmark is better than I could ever have imagined. I’m meeting all the goals I’ve set for myself at work, I have great colleagues, I’m finally getting enough sleep (ish…), I’m in a relationship with someone I see a real future with (which is really saying something), I’m actually getting invited to parties, and I’m just making the most of the good life and not taking a single second of it for granted.

Since the start of my 20s, I’ve either spent my summers in Korea or the UK, or doing little trips around Europe. Talk about pre-pandemic privilege! With the exception of last summer, when I finished up my PhD and took up a temporary full-time office job while looking for my first academic post, I have always felt the desire to move around or explore someplace new. Some of that desire was genuine curiosity and a sense of spontaneity, but it was also a way for me to while away my dissatisfactions. I kept wanting a taste of change, a different environment, because I often felt like whatever I had or was doing just wasn’t it. Going ‘away’ inspired me, and allowed me to indulge the most cliched fantasies of possibility: I’d be a writer in NYC, a fashionista in Paris, a curator in London. I felt like a dreamer passing through an ocean of opportunities whenever I found myself exploring a new place or a big city.

Since finishing up my PhD in 2019, I knew I had to get serious about my future and do a little less of the physical travelling and a lot more of the spiritual, speculative kind of travelling. I couldn’t just jet off to a romantic city every now and again and pretend myself a chic, free, burden-less cosmopolitan citizen (and let’s be honest, you actually have to be quite privileged to sustain that kind of jet-setting mobility). I’ve had to ask myself where I want to be in a year’s time, 5 years time, 10 years time. I’ve had to ask myself what country I’d like to work in – and how far out in the world I am willing to go for the kind of career I want. I’ve had to reflect on what adventure, stability, and home mean to me, and what it is that I value most about life and all that can be experienced within it. I’ve had to think about the kinds of relationships I could and could not part with. And as I’ve discussed countless times on this blog, the answers to these questions were never set in stone or obvious to me. This is because my life and my identity has always been defined by being away from my country of birth. I never really felt like I had an existential constant, or anchor, that served as a foundation for the answer to my purpose.

I think part of that lack of an anchor has to do with my perceived lack of an identity which for most people is greatly shaped by the cultural, legal, and in many ways moral membership to their country/nation/state. Let me put this in the form of a trivial example. In the Western world, the number 13 is considered unlucky if you are superstitious. Where I’m from originally, it is not so – but number 4 is considered unlucky. There’s little things, quirks of culture and belief, that never ‘added up’ from where I stood because I would have the ability to inhabit multiple worlds simultaneously. And those worlds were in constant tension: Does my intuition tell me that the number 13 is bad, or is it 4? How am I supposed to decide which belief systems I pledge my loyalties to? And why does any of it matter? Did my cosmopolitan attitude actually erode the stability of whatever ‘personal identity’ I have?

I’ve met so many people for whom purpose seems to come easy. To them, it’s like, I was meant to become a parent and start a family. I was meant to give back to my country. I want to settle in _____. And I’ve always had this sense that their ability to, literally and spiritually, locate themselves as a stable member of some spatio-temporal environment, was what allowed them to see their purpose.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t have my goals or principles. I want to be a good person. I want to better myself. I want to take care of my friends and family. I want to foster meaningful connections. I want all the universal things that I like to imagine everybody else wants in their life too. It’s just that I also have to ask: Ok, but which country to do you belong? Where are you going to settle to achieve all those things? Do ‘your people’ actually accept you? Where are you supposed to buy a permanent property? What happens if you have a cultural clash with the person you want to be with? Whatever objectives I had, they’ve always been complicated by questions regarding immigration, citizenship, integration, and belonging.

Like many others, I so desperately wanted to make 2020 ‘my’ year – a fresh start in a new decade. My first academic job contract was due to end in May 2020 and I had to find something to do next. But then the pandemic spread all across Europe and I had no idea where I could go given all the chaos. I could barely hold it together the first three months of 2020. It took blood, sweat and tears for me to figure out how not to get deported from the UK when my visa ran out mid-pandemic, to stay in Europe, not have to move back in with my parents all the way in Korea, and somehow land my dream job – all at the same time.

And what do you know, I somehow managed to figure it out in the nick of time, and now I’m here. The answer I was looking for all year was Denmark.

It’s now been 3 months since I relocated to Copenhagen, and I’m so grateful. The world has shown itself to be a scary place, full of tragedy, disappointment, resentment, violence, fear. And we can probably all agree that 2020 has been a dark and disastrous time, on many levels, for humanity on the whole. We’ve collectively and individually ached for the things, people, and ideals lost so early on in the new decade. But I take my experience of this year thus far as a true gift, in spite of the tears I’ve shed. I will forever count myself lucky to be able to say that I’ve thrived and endured in my own way, at this strange juncture in human history.

I’ve started to appreciate the beauty of staying put in one place, making do with what is, observing the interesting and beautiful things around me, caring more about those that mean the most to me, and learning to love the small and simple things. The work I put in all year to be right here has meant that my life doesn’t consist of fantasies and dreams anymore. Rain or sunshine, my wish is my life. I cherish it, and I’m content. I’ve been chilling, working, living, meeting new people, and enjoying the city at a very leisurely pace. This country is not perfect, nor is it ‘my’ country by any means, but it’s a beautiful stopover if nothing else. I look at these photos I’ve taken over the summer below and honestly think the city is a sight to behold at every single hour of the day. I’m here to embrace it and make the most of the experiences it has to offer me as a young and ambitious woman trying to live a good life, a beautiful life, a meaningful life. That’s all I can do to continually create my own realm and sense of belonging. And the beautiful memories I’ve made this summer make my heart sing. I hope I can look back on this time, Summer of 2020, and remember that life can be simple yet full of meaning. A life worth living.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Nordhavn

Nordhavn is an area with an up-and-coming vibe and is situated on the harbour next to Østerbro, a.k.a the ‘fancy’ and family-friendly part of town.

You’ll see below that Nordhavn has some seriously cool building and recreational space design/architecture, and lots of new residential development in the works. There is plenty of space for outdoor swimming and cute cafes around the apartment blocks. I just enjoyed walking around the area and taking in the sights.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Home, Personal, Travel, Vesterbro

Sunset in Copenhagen (and thank you!)

Hej. I’m just dropping in to say thanks for your support in helping me grow this tiny little corner of the cloud – there’s now apparently 1000 of you subscribed to my blog 🙂 It’s not a lot, and honestly I only started this blog so I have somewhere to organize my photos and to share my journey with the few friends who might care to keep up with me. But it’s actually cool to receive feedback from you and to see that many of you are taking an interest in the beautiful city of Copenhagen. I really do hope these images help you enjoy some of the magic of the city from afar, and that you feel inspired to visit when it’s viable to do so 🙂

I’ve honestly been really busy enjoying my summer in recent weeks, especially now that the weather has taken a turn for the better, so I haven’t done much photo editing recently. But I’ve been taking my camera everywhere in the meantime and have now accumulated a great many images of some amazing memories and places. I’ve literally got thousands and thousands of photos that I need to sort through for when I have a free moment! I really want to share all of them now, but I guess I’ll just have to stagger out my posts 🙂 But if you’ve been liking my photos so far, please do stick around for more because they’re just going to get better and better!

I’ve also decided Sundays will be for posts of museums for the time being, so I hope you will enjoy the ‘Sunday Museum’ posts I will line up soon.

Now I just can’t resist sharing a good sunset/golden hour, so I’ll leave you with some dazzling shots around The Lakes.

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