“So you’re backpacking?”

“Uhhhh…” I graciously mumble as the question comes my way. The guy asking stares at me expectedly.

“Well yes. Kind of…? I mean, Ihave a backpack but it’s also like a roll on which I mainly use it as especially in airports but this is sort of a gap year trip for me and I have a backpack.”

He blinks. “Sorry, what was that?”

“mother-“

Yeah so I do NOT have a way with words, contrary to what I like to think. But I’ve thought about this question quite a bit: am I backpacking?

This, of course, depends on your definition of backpacking. More accurately, on my definition. Am I using a backpack? Yes. Am I in hostels? Sometimes. On a budget? Of course I’m not made of money (one day. One day…).

So on the surface, wouldn’t it seem like I’m backpacking?

(You’re probably all wondering where I’m even going with this, but hold tight).

Were I to be asked this question again, I would say I’m travelling the world, but not as a backpacker.

A bit of detail on how I like travelling: I will gladly spend more money to stay in a hostel with amazing reviews, especially when it comes to location, safety, and the attitude of the staff. I am not the traveller that is trying to spend as little as possible and is more than happy to stay in $3 dorms. In fact, if I can work it in my budget, I’ll pay for a private room. I need to sleep; I’m not a night owl and if I don’t sleep I feel sick the next day. Over the years I’ve become a light sleeper (curses) and so not having to worry about dorm mates is a breath of relief sometimes. This isn’t to say I won’t stay in dorms; only that getting the cheapest deal is not my priority. Plus I am so picky about bathroom cleanliness so I could be down to my last penny and would find a way to scrape enough together for a place with a good bathroom.

When I was researching for this trip, I came across many blogs and sites that discussed how to travel on a budget. Most (not all, I admit) were able to travel on such a budget because of one important thing: they spent no money on outings. This is understandable, but not for what I want to experience on this trip. My day at the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, out in the jungles of Chiang Rai with a hostel tour, and everything I have planned for Indonesia woud not be possible if I was on a budget of $20 a day or less.

Furthermore, my bag is too big to only be a carry on. I have to check it for each flight I take. Since I’m travelling across a range of climates (cool Scandinavia to humid Thailand and warm north Asia) I have a mix of clothes which can be layered or worn on their own. Important, especially I plan (and have already done) on doing some day hikes while travelling.

So are there actually any aspects where I am closely following a budget and not spending/spending minimal? Of course!

When and where I can, I walk. I plan my days so I can hit multiple attractions within walking distance within one another. This isn’t always possible, but it depends on the city. I eat cheaply. In Europe this meant cooking my own food as much as possible. In Asia this means convenience stores and street food. Just because I spend more to be comfortable and put my mind at ease in no way means I’m throwing cash out like a madwoman.

It’s a balance. I get stressed easily if getting from point A to B seems  bit more complicated than expected. So if it means I pay a little more for a taxi, driver, or a more expensive form of transportation which takes away the guessing on my end, I’ll go for it (this applies more to Asia than Europe). My security and mental state are extremely important, and if I have to pay a little more to be less stressed, I will.

I’m not landing somewhere with my first few nights planned and winging it from there. Even the though of doing that makes me stressed. I’m planning the big things (flights, hostels, 3 weeks-1 month in advance. As far as wha I do each day, that I leave up to how I feel when I’m actually in the city. I know that for a lot of backpackers this takes away spontenaity and can make one feel boxed in. But not me. I like landing in the next place and not having to worry about where I’m staying and how I’m getting to my next destination. All that’s left for me to do is fill in my days with activities. Or not. I’ve spent a good amount of afternoons just lazing around at cafes people watching.

This isn’t everyone’s way of travelling, and that’s OK. Travel how and where you want to your own comfort level. This happens to be mine, and I hope someone reading it (who, like me, may be thinking that all these backpacking bloggers are out there to compete with who can spend the least amount of money) who sees that it’s OK to not backpack. Or whatever their definition of bacpacking is.

So am I backpacking? Well I’m on a half gap year and do have a backpack but it’s also a roll on but I also have a daypack and I’m staying in hostels but not all the time and sometimes in private rooms and I’m on a budget but nothing skin and bones where I only eat once a day (my nightmare).

You decide.

Until next time!

Heading North

After  6 days experiencing the hectic city of Bangkok, it was time to head north. First up, 4 days in Chiang Mai, followed by 5 in Chiang Rai.

After leaving buying overnight train tickets until the week before my intended trip to Chiang Mai, it would turn out that all trains were full. So I paid for a plane ticket, and after a 1 hour taxi ride,  1 hour flight delay, and a 1 hour flight, I had arrived.

I used Chiang Mai to recover from all the running around in Bangkok. I could walk to the main city sites from my hostel, and spent my first day simply exploring within the old city walls.

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Some gorgeous stairs in Wat Chedi Luang

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This stupa dates back to 1441

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Street art in Chiang Mai

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My second day was a half day tour of an elephant sanctuary, Elephant Dream Valley (see previous post for further details), followed by strolling the Saturday walking street

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Walking street style

I unfortuantely didn’t feel too hot (well…I did feel hot because humidity…ha) and made it a bit worse by walking 2+ hours in the sun to see the final two temples I was curious about. The silver temple of Wat Sri Suphan was by far the highlight of my time in Chiang Mai.

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Wat Suan Dok

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On my last full day, I wanted to get up to Wat Doi Suthep. After taking two songtheaws up a winding mountain road, I needed a few minutes for my body to settle. I was admittedly a little dissapointed with Doi Suthep. I wasn’t blown away, and even now I feel Wat Sri Suphan is a more unique temple. I spent about half an hour walking the temple grounds, if only to make the journey up the mountain worth it.

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The grounds of Wat Doi Suthep are decorated, but fake flowers seemed to take away charm rather than add to it

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Trash filled with old prayers

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I was told by a friend that Chiang Mai had become very commercialized. I completely see this. As wonderful as some of the temples in the old city were, the streets are lined with hostels, western-style cafes, and tour agencies.

Chiang Rai, though…I wish I had longer here. I had planned for a relaxing first day, but ended up getting convinced to join a full day tour that included the Blue Temple, a waterfall, the White Temple, and a tea plantation. I am so glad I joined as seeing these sites outside of the city with a local guide was phenomenal.

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Biking the tea plantations of Singha Park

After using my second day to relax and meeting a new friend in the hostel, we scootered out to the Black Museum the following day and explored a local rice field and café. I got a bit more burnt than I care to admit…

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The following day we both signed up for a Thai cooking class, and I actually was so full I felt sick. At the market, as we picked our ingredients, we sampled local tea, Thai donuts, longan, durian, and deep fried sweet potato and banana. When the time came to cook we prepared green papaya salad, hot and sour soup with prawns, and red curry with chicken. So, so good but so, so filling…

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Buddha statue behind the market

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Ingredients all ready to go

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If you find yourself tiring of Bangkok, I highly recommend heading north; and if I had to choose, Chiang Rai over Chiang Mai (also in Chiang Rai stay at “Sook Cafe and Hostel” it is the perfect location, has amazing staff, and I cannot recommend it enough).

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have travelled to Thailand. It was never a country that had been super high on my “to-do” list, but these last three weeks have been filled with the most amazing sites (and foods).

Tomorrow I make the long journey back to Bangkok (first with a 3 hour bus to Chiang Mai, then a 5 hour wait, then the overnight train to Bangkok). I get 2 days rest, and then I’m on my way to Indonesia!

Until next time!

Next up, Bali!

When in Bangkok

-Be amazed/horrified at how nobody on the road seems to drive in the lanes

-Realize that instead of the “yield to other drivers” signs you follow back home, that’s the LAST thing you want here; everyone for themselves

-Get laughed at by Dutch people because they think you can’t ride a bike

-And, of course, see some temples and Eat some food (only some (kidding))

6 days in Bangkok (2 more to come before I fly to Bali) gave me quite a bit of time to see the city itself, see outside the city, and bike the city at night (I am surprisingly still alive).

I was so exhausted from my travel day Tuesday/Wednesday (6 hours to Dubai from Zürich, 5 hour layover, then 6.5 hours to Bangkok) that all I could muster the energy for during my first full day was some light walking (read: to get food) around where I was staying; about 40min from the city centre.

Friday required a bit more energy, as I met with a university friend to explore the Grand Palace, Wat Poh, and Wat Arun. My advice to anyone visiting Bangkok is to get to the Palace right when it opens. Even at 9:30am the body heat of all the tourists combined with the already humid air was not pleasant. We left around 10:45 and there was a massive line up to get in.


After the madness, the relative quietness of Wat Poh (home of the Reclining Buddha) was welcome. I could’ve easily spent another hour just wandering and taking pictures.

After lunch and wandering an air-conditioned mall, we finished off with the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun. In the early evening because why not. I would love to see it again once the renovations are complete.

The weekend was a time for markets. Morning markets, weekend markets, floating markets, all for fruit and food, gifts, souvenirs, and amazing flowy pants. At the floating market me and a friend took a 100 baht boat ride to a temple and orchard farm.

When we returned home I very last minute signed up for a day tour to Ayutthaya. I had originally been looking up ways to get there by public transport, but as I did more research I got increasingly stressed thinking about doing this on my own. The idea of having pick-up and drop-off organized for me filled me with a sense of ease, and for my mind and comfort’s sake I signed up for Asia-discover.com’s day trip from Bangkok (http://www.asia-discovery.com/travel/bangkok/daytour/ayutthaya-day-tours-from-bangkok-bkk-12n.htm). I don’t regret it at all. If it makes me more comfortable and less stressed, I will choose that option.

The trip was amazing. The history of Ayutthaya, the old capital of the Kingdom of Siam, is endless, and the temple grounds and ruins were exactly what I had wanted to see (I did no research prior, though, so this consisted of me excitedly whispering “oh, oh, I wanted to see this one too!” whenever we stopped at a temple whose picture I recalled.

I’m currently in Chiang Mai, and on Tuesday will head up even further north to Chiang Rai, before coming back down to Bangkok for 2 days and then flying to Bali. Lots and lots to write about!

Until next time!

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. 

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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!

3 Days in Denmark – A Review

Well that was odd…got a mild cold while I was here, thankfully only for 3 days…

I decided to try the long distance bus to Berlin…which should be interesting given that there should only be 49 people on this bus yet there are 50…

Ok anyways, onto my 3 days in Denmark! NOT just Copenhagen, actually. I was telling people I had 3 days in Copenhagen but I was only in the city itself for one day. I was staying in Roskilde, a city about 20 minutes outside Copenhagen by train. It’s a gorgeous city, and given how close it is is to Copenhagen I highly recommend for everyone to make the trip out. I did a lot of walking on my first day. I walked to and along the harbour. And kept walking. And kept walking. Eventually, the harbour views become fjord and farm views. Not complaining; it was lovely to have those kinds and views and trails a 20 minute walk from a city.  

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As the seaside turns into a nature path

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Vancouver like weather…gorgeous sun and then 5 minutes later clouds, rain, and wind

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Will my coloured building cravings be satisfied? Stay tuned to find out!

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Cute art along the shopping street of Roskilde

Oh, I forgot…I wanted to open this post with a giant rant about how I could never return to Copenhagen Central station and be perfectly happy for the rest of my life. I will forever associate that place with all things negative.

The first thing…it’split into 2. Depending on where your train comes in, you may have to go up a set of stairs (or elevator) and cross the road to actually get to the station itself. This makes a bit more sense now that I know Copenhagen central is actually the biggest train station in all of Europe…but after Stockholm and Oslo, both impeccably clean and organized, Copenhagen was a shock. It was loud, dirty, full of what were either backpackers or homeless people essentially camping out along the edges (OK they were probably backpackers and not actually camping out BUT SHOCK OF THE MOMENT PEOPLE), and the outside of the station smelt like pee.  And then to make matters first I had no idea which train I wanted to get to Roskilde. I asked at the information desk and the lady said to me “we have thousands of trains coming in every day,”  

Umm yes OK I figured, given that this was a TRAIN staion (I didn’t actually say that).  

“But the next train to Roskilde is at 4pm, platform 26.”  

“Thank you” I breathed in relief. I bought my ticket and followed the signs to platform 26.  

“EFF.”  

Remember how the station is split into two? Well to get to platform 26 I had to exit the station and cross the street. I was sweaty, tired, hungry, and just wanted to get to Roskilde.  

“Eff this” I muttered as I illegally crossed the street to save myself a 5min walk. I saw a train waiting, and I started to walk faster. As I approached, though, I noticed “SJ” printed on the side. I slowed. SJ were Swedish rail trains. I looked up at the screen. “To Göteberg.”  

I went clammy and could feel my breathing get heavier and my face get hot…what the hell? Did that lady even know what she was talking about? I had to grit my teeth to prevent myself from full out crying. I saw one of the train attendants outside, and asked whether this train stopped at Roskilde. She shook her head.   “You’ll want a regional train for that.”  

OK. Thankfully I’m pretty good at talking myself down. “Go back to the main station. Wait 10 minutes, then walk around and see if you can find where the train to Roskilde actually departs from.”  I thought to myself as I trudged back the way I came.

I groaned and swore some more as I lugged my bag up the stairs and illegally crossed the street once more (I refuse to take elevators with a 14kg bag). As I entered into the main station again I happened to glance at the screen to my left and one word caught my eye.   ‘Roskilde”.  

“YES”. I yelled. Out loud. I think. I actually can’t remember but that was the wave of relief I needed.  

I walked down to the next platform and double checked with a station attendant that this train did indeed stop at Roskilde. After a 6 hour train and an adrenaline/panic filled half hour, I was on my way.  

So that was my travel day…to reiterate I hope to never find myself back at that station again…  

Anyways, back to my first day.  

I had planned to walk around the town, and then head back home. But after my harbour/nature walk I remembered a cafe I had looked up as a potential refuge. I ordered their brunch, and spent the next 2 hours enjoying my meal and tea, and people watching. Afterwards I felt re-energized and went to the Roskilde Cathedral to continue my explorations. Plus the lady was super sweet and let me in for 39kr instead of 40kr because I was one coin short.   The cathedral (domkirke) was gorgeous, and a must-see (in my humble opinion). The 12th century building (and a UNESCO site as of 1995) holds the tombs of deceased royalty, including Fredrik 5 and Christian 1. Some of the chapels are breathtaking, especially the ones of white marble and with richly decorated frescoes. I spent about an hour taking in the history that the cathedral holds, as more people wandered in to take refuge from the rain.

This took me to about 4pm, at which point I was finally ready to call it a day.  

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Cafe Satchmo; my afternoon refuel station

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Exterior of Roskilde Domkirke

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Interior

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Margrete I’s sarcophagus from 1423

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Chapel of the Magi; King Christian I and queen Dorothea are buried in small burial chambers under the floor

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Details of the frescoes

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Fredrik 5’s marble chapel

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Christian 9’s chapel

Day 2  

Copenhagen! I had planned to go for lunch at a street food market, then walk back to city hall for free walking tour I’d signed up for.  

When will I learn that my visits to food markets are just not meant to be? As I attempted to follow my giant map, the route I needed to take was blocked by construction. As I consulted google maps, it was useless at providing me ways without passing through the construction. Defeated, I decided to just find a cafe around the city to eat something and prevent the caffeine headache I could feel coming on.   After about 15 minutes of walking,I came across a diner. My cravings for breakfast food intensified, and my choice was made. I had hashbrowns, pancakes, bacon, and coffee and it was a glorious time.  

The walking tour was very well done. I went through Sandemans New Europe Tours, which took us around the main city sites in about 2.5 hours. When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed  in a new area and unsure what I’m looking at, I find walking tours are a great way to get introduced to the city. For me, the only thing on my Copenhagen list was take pictures at Nyhavn, and so figured a walking tour would be a good way to spend the afternoon.  

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Nyhavn aka the only reason I’m here

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Wouldn’t you want the caption in the background of the selfie…?

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The Marble Church

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That night, I was trying to plan out my trip for Fredericksborg Castle, somewhere I had been dying to visit since I first sawy photos a few months back. As I entered my journey into the Danish route finder, I swore again (another recurring theme) because everything that came up was at least an hour and a half. And the train routes,w hich were about 10 minutes shorter than the bus, involved several transfers, any of which had small red information marks, indicating that something was disrupting their regular  schedule.

I decided to go to bed. Everything could be figured out the next morning.

Day 3  

I ended up taking the bus, as it stopped a bit closer to me than the train, and involved no transfers.  

Fredericksborg castle is a beauty to behold. In the 17th century, it was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway. Sadly, a fire destroyed the original building in 1859, but what stands now is commonly referred to as the “Versailles of the North” due to its impressive Renaissance-style architecture. The interior is absolutely gorgeous, especially the chapel and the great hall.

I recommend using the audio guides if you go (they’re free with admission) as there aren’t a lot of signs in the rooms.  

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The chapel is breathtaking in person and in picture

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The Great Hall

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Detailing of the ceiling

And that brings us to here. If I had more time in Denmark I would have taken a extra day in Copenhagen (to do the food market lol) to explore some of the districts, and then would have done a full day exploring the other sites around Fresericksborg (such as Kronberg and Fredensborg Castle).

Until next time!  

Next up, Berlin!

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?