Tokyo!

Tokyo! I can’t believe I finally made it there, twice! This was a massive bucket-list tick for me and it all completely exceeded my expectations. The people, the place, the food, the culture, the energy, it was all spectacular.

These pictures are from both of my visits to the land of the rising sun (had to throw that in there), I hope you enjoy them.

My first trip to Tokyo started with Harajuku, this was an absolute must and I’m so glad we went there first when we still had enough energy to take it all in. We wandered around looking at the shops and watching all the eccentrically dressed people for a while and then stopped for lunch at the famous Heiroku Sushi.

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The food was so delicious and the atmosphere in the restaurant was very lively with all the chefs and waiters shouting greetings every time a customer entered or left the building. It was also interesting to watch all the dishes being prepared right in front of us.

After lunch we visited the Meiji Shrine where we witnessed and participated in different rituals either to pay tribute to the Emperor, or to bring good luck.

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Then it was time for some shopping, so we headed to Takeshita Street, one of the most vibrant and quirky streets in Harajuku. Here is where you’ll see the famous Harajuku Girls dressed to the nines in the most outrageous costumes. You can also buy some typically Japanese outfits, cosmetics and souvenirs.

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On my second visit to Tokyo, a couple of weeks later, I decided to take the train to Asakusa to visit the temple there and to shop at some of the more traditional Japanese shops. The temple and gardens were beautiful and I managed to find some kimonos to take home as souvenirs. I also explored the area around the temple and saw the famous Sky Tree tower.

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Japan intrigues me so much because it is so completely different from where I come from, and the culture and history are so rich that I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I have no doubt that one day I’ll go back, hopefully for a longer trip, so I can explore and learn more about this incredible place.

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Ninh Binh

In August, I did a flight to Hanoi in Vietnam. It’s one of Emirates’ newest destinations so I was excited for the flight and I always love visiting new countries I’ve never been to before. I had heard a lot about Hanoi itself and also about the beautiful countryside surrounding it.

Since we always have such limited time when we do a flight, you kind of have to pick and choose what you want to see. It was a difficult choice between exploring the city with all its amazing markets and restaurants, and driving south to Ninh Binh to see some Buddhist pagodas and take a boat trip on the Red River Delta.  In the end, I felt like I was craving a bit of fresh air and nature, so myself and one other crew decided to venture two hours south of Hanoi to take in some of Vietnam’s natural beauty.

Below are some pictures of the mountainside pagodas and our beautiful trip down the river with the sweetest little girl and her mom.

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Barcelona

I spent an entire day wandering around the beautiful city of Barcelona, but somehow didn’t like any of the pictures I took. As such, this post is rather sparse, but I suppose it covers the highlights.

I started at Park Guell to take in some Gaudi, then made my way to the Sagrada Familia, through the Gothic Quarter, and finally strolled down La Rambla for some people watching, shopping and to visit the La Boqueria food market.

This city is so incredibly full of life and beauty and art, it left me feeling inspired and with the desire to pick my Spanish books again (a new years resolution that has inevitably fallen by the wayside).

I hope you enjoy the photos.

 

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LA in a day

A whirlwind tour through La La Land…

HOLLYWOOD

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THE FARMERS MARKET AT THE GROVE FOR LUNCH

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RODEO DRIVE

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BEVERLY HILLS

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SANTA MONICA

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VENICE BEACH

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And finally, here’s a classic bit of California rock n roll to spice up your Wednesday:

 

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Dublin

Dublin! I finally made it to Ireland. So many of my friends here in Dubai are Irish and it’s always kind of weird to know people so well but not to know what it’s like where they come from. So I’ve experienced a little taste of Ireland and now I can see what they’re all on about. Although, to be fair, the weather is shit. Sorry guys. Other than that, I had a wonderful time drinking beers in a pub and wandering the city with no agenda. The people are so friendly and the place has a certain energy to it that I found so inspiring. Here is the product of my wanderings, I hope you enjoy them!

 

EXPLORING THE STREETS

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ST STEPHEN’S GREEN

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TEMPLE BAR

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I’d like to end off with a couple of songs I’ve been listening to lately, maybe this will become a regular thing.

This one because it’s beautiful:

 

And this one because it’s hilarious:

 

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Oslo

Visiting Oslo was a dream come true. I experienced a white night for the first time and sampled so many aspects of the Scandinavian culture, which even now feels so foreign to me.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to make this blog more about the photography and put more effort into producing high-quality images. I also only want to include text where relevant and make my posts less about what I did in a day and rather include more interesting information about the destination, based on the photos I’ve taken.

So fortunately this is the last post you’ll see with photos taken on my phone! Nonetheless, I still got a few good snaps so I hope you enjoy them below.

 

THE VIEW FROM MY ROOM

 

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THE OPERA HOUSE

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AKERSHUS FORTRESS

 

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AKER BRYGGE

 

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VIGELAND PARK

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Zurich

I’ve been to Zurich twice in the past month, so this post is a bit of a mash-up of those two trips. It’s amazing how much European weather can change in a month. In April I was freezing while walking though the city in the rain. In May, I walked up a hill and through a forest in the bright sunshine.

In April, I was in Zurich for Sechseläuten, the traditional end-of-winter festival. There were so many people dressed in traditional Swiss costumes and a giant statue of a snowman waiting to be burned at sunset. The burning of the snowman is symbolic because if it burns slowly it means there is a short, rainy summer ahead, and if it burns quickly and the head explodes it means that summer will be long and warm.

Here are a couple of photos of the city in the gloomy weather, as well as the festivities:

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My second trip to Zurich was only last week, and summer had arrived (despite the very slow burning of the snowman the month before). I decided to skip the city this time and head up to Uetilberg, Zurich’s own little mountain. I took the train through the Swiss suburbs and countryside and was treated to the most incredible view I’ve seen in a long time. The hill overlooks the lush countryside, the city, the lake and, to top it off, the snowy Alps provide the back drop.

After taking in the view for a while I headed into the forest for some exercise and exploring.

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An ode to Christ the Redeemer at the top of the hill

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The view on the way up

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From the top

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The forest

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A beautiful little bird’s nest that fell at my feet

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Forest exploring

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The city from above

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The most spectacular view

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A wild dandelion

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One last look at that view!

I hope this gave you some insight into what a wonderful city Zurich is. It has something for everyone, and it’s slowly becoming one of my favourites.

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The Great Wall of China

I finally made it! This was my second trip to Beijing and at last I saw the wonder. This is the first wonder of the world I’ve been able to tick off my list (with two more planned for September!) and I was so lucky to have an enthusiastic crew who would get up at the crack of dawn to go see it with me.

But let me start at the beginning of our trip, which consisted of a delicious dinner at Din Tai Fung, the Michelin-starred dumpling restaurant. They make some of the tastiest Chinese dumplings I’ve ever had, so indulging on those plus a cold Tsingtao was the perfect way to start the trip.

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The crew and the dumpling man

Bright and early in the morning we headed out to the Great Wall. The drive was about an hour and a half and most of it was through the countryside, so it was really beautiful and also nice to see the more traditional side of Beijing.

Once we got there we had to take a chair lift to the the top of the hill where we’d be exploring the Great Wall. The views were amazing from up there, and what was even better is that we got to see how we’d be coming down the hill… on the most epic toboggan I’ve ever seen!

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Once at the top, we saw what we had come all this way for, the Great Wall! We walked up and down all the steps for a couple of hours and took in the view.

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Then came the fun part, racing down the hill on the toboggans. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius!

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I had the best day exploring this ancient wonder, and to round off a wonderful trip, we saw a spectacular view of the Himalayas on the flight home.

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Manila

This was my first trip to the Philippines, but to be honest I didn’t expect too much from Manila. It’s not exactly the idyllic island paradise that you associate with a trip to the Philippines. It’s a crazy-busy city that has more in common with Bangkok than a beach getaway.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how this trip turned out. Some of the crew and I decided to skip the shopping malls and get up at 5am to visit the Taal Volcano on a little island just near Manila. We drove for two hours on the most steep, bendy mountain road I’ve ever driven on (and I’m from the Cape!) and then hopped on a boat across the sea to Luzon Island.

We were met there by some guides and their ponies, who would escort us up the hill to the crater at the top of the volcano. I hadn’t ridden a horse in a while so I was excited, but the ponies were so small that I felt bad for them carrying my weight up the steep rocky path. So while it was fun, we decided to walk on the way down.

Anyway, the view from the top was breathtaking and it felt so good to be out in the sunshine taking in the beauty that nature has to offer. It truly is a spectacular part of the Philippines and I would recommend the trip to anyone wanting to escape the traffic and smog of Manila.

Here are some photos of our adventure:

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Until next time x

Stockholm

This is a short little post about my first ever trip to Scandinavia. I have been fascinated by it from afar for as long as I can remember and I finally had the chance to go there. Even better, the only Swede I know has just moved to the city and was kind enough to take me on an epic afternoon pub crawl through the streets of Stockholm. We had many glasses of wine, delicious food and catch-up chats while strolling through the city. This is why all the photos below are just shameless selfies of us at every outdoor bar in Stockholm, but I thought it was worth documenting anyway because it was so much fun!

I did have a few snaps of the city itself, but I seem to have misplaced them unfortunately, I hope you enjoy these regardless.

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The lovely Amanda

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I look unimpressed, but really I was just hungry. Look at that amazing food!

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A sunset drink overlooking the water 🙂

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My recovery breakfast spot in the hotel the next morning.

Stockholm, I will be back!