While in Transit: 6 Days in Zurich – A Review

As I write this, I’m bound for Bangkok!

And I’m super nervous.

Admittingly, whenever a travel day comes up I’ve felt a mix if nervousness and anxiety. Will I get to the station/airport on time? Will it be easy to get around? I can happily say that over the last 5 weeks, those worries have been for naught. But now, heading to South East Asia, somewhere I’ve yet to explore, the nervousness is a bit different. A little bigger…but combined with excitement (and dread. Because humidity. Why I did this to myself I’ll never know…).

5 weeks flew by. It was a wonderful first experience travelling solo in Europe and there’s so many places I hope to return to, and many more to see foe the first time. I met with friends and family, spent time with some cool new people, and found some mountains to calm my heart.

I spent the last 6 days in Zürich, Switerland and yes, it was expensive. Mainly the transportation…food was as expected.

The first night I shook off the exhaustion of an 8 hour train ride to go for dinner with a friend. We drove through mountains and I felt like I was back in BC. 

<img width="5312" height="2988" alt="" src="https://pertainingtothepresent.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/20170712_1935291.jpg" title="My mountains

Then when I returned to the hotel I proceeded to crash and sleep for 12 hours.

So I took the next day easy. Explored around my place, got some groceries, and then went for dinner in Lucerne. In the evening, what is more than likely a hige magnet for tourists was calm, peaceful, and shining over the river. A beautiful way to finish off an easy day.

On Friday I explored around the town. I climbed up the Grossmünster for amazing city views, and walked along the water. 










On Saturday I did a beautiful hike from Felsenegg to Uetliberg. It was about 6km, and I had expected it to take 2 hours given that I planned to take pictures.

It took me 1 hour 20 minutes. Even with taking photos. I also hiked up the next evening, this time from the bottom of the same area, instead of somewhere 6km away. This time I did it with 2 friends I met back in Vancouver who both lived in Zürich.

















Monday was a short boat cruises around the lake. I had originally planned to take the boat all the way to the opposite side of the lake to a town called Rapperswil. That would have costed me…$80.00

So I took the short round trip whoch only cost $18.00

While it may not have taken me all around, it was still a glorious way to enjoy  the sun and be on the water; in addition to seeing the city from another angle.



And today…

Welp I finished this post way faster than anticipated…

Visited a waterfall, walked around a small old town where a technical university is located…and now waiting to board my flight to Bangkok (with a layover in Dubai).





Until next time!

Next up, Thailand!

4 Days in Berlin + 1 in Dresden – A Review

Before I continue I would like to correct a mistake in my previous post; I mistakingly wrote that Copenhagen Central was the biggest train station in Europe. It isn’t. That honour goes to Gare du Nord in Paris (at least in terms of number of railway passengers). I horribly misread wikipedia and apologize.

Wow, Berlin, where to start…I stimultanesouly feel as if I did a lot, and nothing at all. Berlin is huge, with no true city centre. While I hit all the sites I wanted to see, there were some cafes and small sites I never got to visit, and a daytrip to Potsdam wasn’t something I managed to fit into my schedule.

Oh well, reasons to go back!

I had decided to bus from Copenhagen to Berlin. It was the same travel time (7 hours) but less than half the price, so my decision was easy.

How naive I was.

I arrived into the  Berlin bus station at 10:45pm on a Thursday evening…and we were supposed to arrive at 9:30pm. I can handle 3.5 hours on a bus (as we took a ferry from 5-7pm and I got the chance to stretch my legs). However, when you’re in a cramped, full bus that has apparently air conditioning but none that you can feel, and everyone surrounding you is starting to smell BO heavy…get me off. Plus my back ached and I was tired and hungry.

When we arrived I didn’t have the energy to figure out the 40 minute metro ride to my hotel. I took a cab. No regrets. Sometimes you just need to get where you’re going, NOW.

The next morning I met up with an SFU classmate and we got to talk about her time in the city and my plans, which was a welcome way to begin my exploration of the vast city. Afterwards I attempted to find my way to Museum Island…and got hopelessly lost. I gave up, went for lunch, and by that time it was HOT. I was sweating as I ate and as I made my way back to the hotel. Not wanting to feel like I wasted a day, and also remembering that I needed to look up timeslots to walk around the Reichstag, I took an easy afternoon. I got one of the only remaining slots to the Reichstag during the week I was in Berlin, and after confirming my booking I spent a leisurely two hours planning out the 3 other days I’d have in the city.

That evening, it thunderstormed. Apparently this was the most rain Berlin had seen in over 100 years. Thankfully it let up after about 20minutes, leaving my views from the Reichstag calm and cool as I overlooked the city.

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The next day I was up early to catch my bus to Dresden (thankfully not as painful as the one from Copenhagen). I was excited as the city had held my fascination for 10 years, ever since playing a concert band piece that recreated the bombing of the city. I did a 2 hour walking tour and then had time to explore myself. It was a surreal feeling to walk the ground where nothing but the shells of buildings once stood.

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The next 3 days I took easy. I made to Museum Island, East Side Gallery, the market at Mauerpark, Nikolaiviertel, and met with a longtime friend after 8 years apart.

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Unfortuantely, my low blood pressure acted up on my final two days.

I iron pills with mw, but because I had felt fine for the first few weeks I was only taking them every 4/5 days. This resulted in my getting dizzy quite easily when standing up, or laying down. The worst sympton is my lack of energy…Monday I didn’t start my day until about 11am which was fine, but Tuesday I couldn’t even bring myself to leave my room until 3pm, I felt so exhausted. I’ve stocked up on more pills and will be  taking them more frequently.

I feel as if my exhaustion was a combination of things. My low iron for sure was a large factor. Another is that, right now, I’ve been travelling for 1 month. While I had more time in England, and thus more time to relax, it’s been a bit more rushed getting to everywhere else, planning my days, packing, repacking, and repeat. The next few legs of my journey will be a bit more relaxed, which I’m looking forward too!

The last reason, I suspect, was the amount of transit I was taking while in the city. Remember how I said Berlin is huge? Well to quantify, everything I wanted to do/see in the city was at least a 30minute transit ride, usually with transfers. That place in turn could be anywhere from 10-30 min to the next place I wanted to see. It may not sound that bad in practice, but when you’re spending a good 1-2 hours on 3-6 transit trips in one day, it really takes a toll. And it’s very hard to walk, given the size of Berlin, so transitting is really the only way to go.

Were I to revisit, I’d make it out to Potsdam, take an alternative art tour, and find 1 or 2 cafes to relax at during the afternoon. And take iron pills more frequently.

Until next time!

Next up, Zürich!

4 Days in Stockholm – A Review

“There’s a black hole deep inside of me, reminding me
That I lost my backbone, back home, somewhere in
Stockholm…”

Avicii anyone? To be honest there’s a small part of me that feels like the major reason I visited Stockholm was to use those lyrics in an instagram caption (I’m 80% joking).  

I flip flopped between making this post a summary of my 4 days in Stockholm, or about something unrelated with little anecdotes about the city thrown in here and there. You’ll find I chose a bit of both.  

June 27 was my travel day to Stockholm. After a fire in one of the tunnels at Stockholm Central caused my train to be delayed by 2 hours, I finally arrived at my hostel. Location wise, it couldn’t have been any better: dead smack in the middle of Gamla Stan (Castanea Old Town Hostel, for anyone wondering). I went grocery shopping that evening, which gave me a small taste of the cobblestone and shop-lined streets. As I walked back with my grocery bag (I’ve already mentioned that cooking your own food saves you so much money right? Because it saves you SO MUCH MONEY) I felt ready to go exploring the next morning. 

Or so I thought.

Because there was one big fact that I didn’t realize: Stockholm is huge. Like, really fricking big. Compared to Oslo, a giant of inhumane proportions.  

“Shit…” I whispered as my small map unfolded…and kept unfolding, until a picnic blanket lay in front of me (Ok a bit exaggerated but I needed metaphor…).  

So day one was…very basic. I walked around the Old Town and took refuge in a cafe afte realizing I had no idea what I was doing nor looking at. As I walked back to my hostel I remembered that one of their billboards had advertised walking tours around the old town. Just my luck, they were also free to join and started in one hour.

That was a good choice on my part. I got to see the narrowest alley in the Old Town, the oldest street, the oldest restaurant, and the famous Stortorget and it’s buildings.  

Day 2 was a bit more organized. I went for coffee at a local roasters with 2 girls I had met the night before, got a take-away falafel lunch, then walked over to take the ferry to Djugården. On Djugården I made my way to the Rosendals Trägård; the site of gardens and a cafe that focuses on sustainable practices and locally grown food. Afterwards, one of the highlights of my trip, Vasamuseet (the Vasa Museum). It’s hard to put into words my feelings as I stared up at this enormous ship…awe, mainly, but a huge range given the history this vessel holds. For those who don’t know, in 1628, the Vasa made her maiden voyage…only to sink after 1500m due an eveness of weight (too heavy at the top and not enough weight at the bottom). Many died on board, and thought she was ost at the bottom of the sea  forever. In the 1970’s she was pulled from the ocean and preserved; the first attempt of it’s kind. The museum was fascinating because the science of how she was recovered and preserved is described, and is still ongoing (For exmaple, all the bolts holding her together are a specially created stainless steel, and the museum is climate controlled to prevent any changes in humidity). Anyone who knows me knows I fear deep water and those creepy diving suits that look like robots…guess what one section contained.  

The next day I still had use of the 24hour transit pass from the day before, so  made my way to the Historika Museet, the Swedish History Museum, expecting to maybe spend an hour or so. But, in a theme that followed me throught Sweden, it was way bigger than expected. I ended up spending 2 hours there and could have easily spent more, given that it contained everything I needed to get my Swedish history on fleek. A giant timeline from the 1100’s to present, an exhibit in which religion and contemprary art met, and a giant gold rooms featuring a total of *kg of gold and silver artifacts. I also walked to the public library to take photo of their rotunda style main floor.  

And day 4 was a reunion with a friend I met in Taiwan 3 years ago. We went and walked around Naturhistorika Riksmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Natural History), laughing at the incorrect English translations and spellings, because we are cruel, cruel people. We also got to explore the public art on the Swedish metro system, something I had been curious about but wasn’t sure whether I’d have the time to do it.  

So it took a day to get my bearings, but I feel really good about my time in Stockholm! I could have easily spent another 3 days to explore different districts, get out for a hike or to visit Uppsala, and do something like a food tour. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to come back.

Below are my recommendations/suggestions if you’re planning to visit or find yourself uncertain at what to do like I did at first!  

-Cook your own meals! I opted to not buy breakfasts or dinners and so mainly bought lunches. It’s incredible how expensive eating out is in Scandinavia.
-Mazimize use of your 24 hour transit pass. Taking 3 journeys more than 1 hour apart already makes this pass a good deal. Whether it be the bus, tram, metro, or ferry, you can see a lot and do a lot by travelling throughout the city!
-Free museums! I was shocked at the amount of free museums in the city. I went to the Swedish History Museum (Historika Museet) and  Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorika Riksmuseet), but the Modern Art Museum, Nobel Museum (on certain days), Nordic museum (Tuesday or Wednesday evenings), and Swedish Viking Museum are all free.
-Free Walking Tours! A great way to get introduced to the city and learn the history. I went with Free Tours Stockholm and you can tip the guide if you think they did a good job, but they are free to join and nobody forces any money out of you (LINK).
-Vasa Museum: As opposed to my regular strategy of getting there right at opening time, I actually visited at 3:30pm on a weekday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. The tour groups and crowds were few and far between, and it was really calm inside. If you’re not a morning person, go in the late afternoon to avoid crowds. When you’re there I recommend watching the introductory film before starting your exploring for a background on the history of the ship.
-Chill out in a cafe with a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun). That’s all I’m saying.  

Until next time! Next stop, Copenhagen!

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Kanelbulle = cinnamon bun. Aka my diet the last 4 days…

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Exploring Gamla Stan

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Stortorget

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Taking the ferry to Djugården

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Rosendals Trädgård

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Gift shop in the garden

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I wanted one but it’s probably for the better that I didn’t buy it

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Stockholm views

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The Vasa in 98% of her original glory

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The BEST. 3 paragraphs of Swedish = 1 in misspelled English 😂

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Exploring the subway art

3 Days in Oslo – A Review

Well, Oslo, I hate to say this…but after 15 years of waiting to visit you, I look back and realize 1 day was all I would have needed to have my fill of your city centre…

This is not to say I hated my time here. on the contrary, Oslo is a gorgeous city with an amazing public transport system and everything within walking distance of one other. That latter point though…turns out to be a pro and a con. After walking to all the sites of interest on Saturday (Opera House, City Hall, Royal Palace, the *Sculpture park), I returned to my AirBNB a little dissapointed. Day 2 thankfully was all about redemption. The Viking Museum and island hopping were exactly what I had imagined when I saw myself in Norway. However, day 3 would turn out to be another drag, as the food market I had been so excited to visit was closed on Mondays. ONLY on Mondays (Of course). I had a nice walk around part of the city with some gorgeous houses, and took a bus to an aamzing viewoint os Oslo, but these 3 days have left me wanting more.

Any reason to return, of course. I want to see Bergen, and of course hike the gorgeous Kjeragbolten fjord. 24 hours in Oslo city would have been plenty of time to see the main buildings of interest, the Viking Museum, and go island hopping. And maybe get to the food markets for a lunch or dinner. But now I know! And this trip is as much about learning as it is about visiting new cities.

I plan to write a post about saving money in Europe, but one thing I want to say right now (to add another voice to the already millions preaching the same thing) is COOK YOUR OWN MEALS. Grocery stores are amazingly cheaper than even pre-made meals at corner stores, plus you control the ingredients of what you make.

In conclusion, next time around Noodles is heading going NORTH. Oslo city will be powered through in a day (If you’re really into museums though and invest in one of the Oslo passes, though, it can definitely be worth it to spend more than one day in the city centre, based on how tiring it can be to jam pack your day with exursions.  

Until next time! Next up: Stockholm!

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Highlight of the trip by far: The Oslo Viking Museum (Pictured: My awkward pose and the Oseberg Ship)

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Old ruins of a 12th century monastery on the island of Hovedøya

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Gorgeous views from the island of Gressholmen

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Wooden houses along the street of Telthusbakken

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More views! This was the view that apparently was the inspiration for the painting ‘The Scream’

The True Solo Travel Starts

My week and a half in England has come to an end, and this post finds itself being written in my AirBNB in Lillestrøm; a 10 minute train ride from the centre of Oslo.

England was HOT. I don’t mean warm, or sunny…really frickin’ hot. 28-30 Celsius and really humid. I kept joking back in Vancouver that I was going to melt while in Thailand. But the fact that I survived that abnormal weather spell in the UK has made me a bit more confident in my non-melting abilities.

I last visited England 5 years ago, when hair was shorter (no you’re not seeing pics) and I had just completed my first year of university. Going back 5 years later, solo this time, was a good way for me to start off my travels. Seeing and staying with family made the beginning of my adventures seem a little less daunting right from the get-go.

So a bit of a recap…I wore leggings on the plane, thinking oh how smart I was to wear something stretchy.

Then we landed in Heathrow where it was 24 degrees. Then I took the tube which felt like 35 degrees with no air circulation. Thank goodness I was only on it for 45 minutes. I (surprisingly) remembered which line to transfer to and thus arrived at Euston station with time to spare. The countryside that whizzed by while taking the train to Chester seemed familiar as well. As I walked around the city of Chester the next day, I was surprsied again at how much I remembered from my previous visit.

Everything else was new.  Beeston Castle, Llandudno in Wales, Liverpool, and a day trip to Birmingham all presented new sights to see (and preserve, with my new camera that I’vebeen dying to use for travel photography since the moment I’ve opened it). Prior to flying out of Gatwick to Oslo I had the chance to spend a few hours in Oxford, somewhere I could easily spend a day or 2 (next time! Any reason to return).

There’s loads more places I have yet to cross off my “to-see” list for England: Bath, Bristol, Dover, Kent, Stratford-upon-Avon…and everything in between.

Completely unrelated, but I’m quite happy with the style of photography I post on my instagram page now. I’ve figured out a way to make my photos have a consistent look, and if you’re curious feel free to check out my profile @noodleyhsiung (hopefully this gives an answer to why my hashtag for this trip is #sendnoodsaroundtheworld).

I just finished my first day in Oslo…consisting of way too much walking, having to sneakily shimmy out of stockings when I realized it was way warmer than I realized (that’s gonna be a recurring theme here, I can already tell…), and spending way too much on lunch ($24.00 for a  panini and smoothie…whyyy). Thank goodness I bought groceries for breakfasts and dinners which almost totalled the same amount as one meal. Norway I’ve wanted to visit you since I was 9 years old and this is how you welcome me? Aiya.

Until next time!

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Black and white architecture, characteristic of Chester

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Llandudno is full of gorgeous pastels. This green was hands down my favourite!

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Looking over Birmingham from the Library (lots and lots of construction…)

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Oxford! Can you feel the elitism wafting through your screen?

Not sure if blogging correctly, or…/Oh hi freedom!

First things first:

First semester of second year?

DONE

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

First thing I did?

Cleaned and vacuumed my room as there was 3 weeks worth of clothing hiding the floor from view.

Anyways, relating back the the first half of this title, I have an outline all ready for my next two blogs (not counting this one). As the title mentions I’m not sure if there’s some “blog-guidelines” or unspoken rule relating to planning out blog posts in advance…

But anyways, here’s a quick rundown of what the next two days (not counting this one) will bring to you lovely readers:

1.) In tomorrow’s post, our young heroine explains the origins of how she came to be a fly, classy, orchestral violinist by day and a kick-ass, folkster, dancing gypsy violinist by night*

*(Read as: “It took 10 years for me to really appreciate being classically trained” and “Joining a gypsy/folk band was the best decision of my life”)

2.) In thursday’s post the one question that you’ve all been burning to ask will finally be answered: What would our young heroine do if a gypsy boy came and swept her off to Chiynyoloslovakia* to become part of a wandering minstrel folk band in the middle of her university studies?

*Not actually a country, meant to represent the allure of Europe and all things gypsy.

Well, unspoken rule or not, I’m quite excited about the posts I have yet to write.

Now to reap the benefits of being done with finals.

…Only 4.5 more years to go…