Happy 2 year anniversary!

I can’t believe it. It has already been two years since I started this blog. It all started with a trip to Bolivia, to see my best friend from my all-consuming, incredible and once in a lifetime experience in Oklahoma. The journey to Bolivia was my first ever solo trip and it made me learn so much about myself and the world and experience South America’s beauty for the first time. Another continent crossed off my bucket list! We ventured around La Paz, spent some days at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats and I took an overnight bus trip to see Sucre on my own.

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Sucre, Bolivia

The rest of the summer was filled with trips around Germany, a week in Ibiza and a long awaited trip to Santorini, one of the most heart-warming, dazzling and enchanting places on this earth. Exploring this tiny island by hiking from one end to the other and enjoying utter tranquility and the natural beauty of the island just left me breathless.

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Galatia Villas in Santorini, Greece

Then it was time to prepare for another adventure: a year in Wales, finishing my Master’s degree in Cardiff. Little did I know that I would find my soul sisters, two incredible souls that I know will never leave my side, wherever life will take us. We share something real, something that is beyond words, beyond this world and even beyond my imagination. Definitely changed for good! I finished off the year with a trip to Dublin, Ireland to spend some time with my dear friend Susann to ring in the Christmas time.

Besides meeting incredible friends from all over the world, I got to experience that Wales is a truly underrated country. The landscapes, cities and people in Wales are so much more than beautiful, I cannot wait to come back this summer! I also got the opportunity to go back to Greece and see Athens, Cape Sounio and the Kaisariani Monastery. Despite being robbed my adventurous spirit made me make the best of it!

During my time in Wales I was lucky to travel to Canada for my best friend’s wedding. I definitely left my heart there and hopefully I’ll be back rather sooner than later to go and collect it. I can’t wait to be back in Alberta, meander windy roads around the Rocky Mountains and just LIVE.

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On our way to the Glacier Skywalk.

2015 got even better once I handed it my dissertation and left Cardiff for good. I jumped on a plane to Southeast Asia with my best friend and soulmate Nicole to start our first backpacking trip around Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. It is safe to say that I more than fell in love with backpacking and taking the day one hour at a time, truly relishing the bliss of having the day at your disposal and enjoying a time off without responsibilities.

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Bali Bliss.

The incredible and eventful year wrapped up with a huge surprise. I got invited to go on a roadtrip through Japan! Never would I have imagined to get the opportunity to travel even more that year. I will forever be grateful and humble for this opportunity and wouldn’t want to miss the experience for the world. I got to admire Japanese architecture, eat carefully crafted dishes day in and day out and experience the craziness and mind-blowing size of Tokyo.

Nara, Japan

Nara, Japan

The new year started on a more slow note. I am incredibly happy to have found a full-time job and I even got to take a little trip over Easter, recharging from the craziness of everyday life in the Netherlands.

I am more than positive that this year and this life has so much more to offer and I cannot wait for all the experiences to come and to share them with you! Happy Birthday on wanderlust!

 

 

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

“But the key to that is, by looking at the difference between perceived danger and actual danger – where is the real risk? What is the real thing that you should be afraid of? Not just a generic fear of bad things happening. You can fundamentally change your reaction to things so that it allows you to go to places and see things that would otherwise be completely denied to you.

Where you can see the hardpan south of the Sahara. Or you can see New York city in a way that is almost dreamlike. Or the unconscious gingham of Eastern Europe fields. Or the great lakes as a collection of small puddles. You can see the fault lines of San Francisco and the way the water pours out under the bridge.

Just entirely different than any other way that you could have if you had not found a way to conquer your fear. You see a beauty that otherwise never would have happened.” – Chris Hadfield

In this TED talk, Chris Hadfield addresses the fear of going blind in space. But the essence of his talk is about being fearless in every aspect of your life. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

If I was afraid, I would have never studied abroad – not in Oklahoma, not in Cardiff. If I was afraid, I would have never dared to travel to Bolivia, knowing I was going to be on my own most of the time. Walking around street markets, adorned with colourful garments, the scent of leather wavering around, admiring clothing and drapes made of alpaca wool. Being a woman from Europe, wandering these markets on our own isn’t always safe. Especially when you’re not speaking Spanish properly like me. You are an easy target. Never show off that you are somewhat wealthy, try to mend in and be as confident as possible, showing that you’re familiar with the area and the situation. You think taxis are safe everywhere in the world? Wait until you’re sitting in a taxi in La Paz, being asked numerous questions trying to figure out whether you know your way around the city. You suddenly realise that the taxi driver is taking you a route that you’ve never seen before – your safety is in his hands. Should you jump out or stay, just hoping to get home safely?

This all sounds terrifying. It was to a great extent. But just as Chris Hadfield says, if I hadn’t taken these risks and if I had stayed at home, not daring to leave the house and the boundaries that comfort me, I would have never experienced or seen the beauty of South America, been a student in no man’s land Oklahoma or gotten a grip of living and working in the UK.

Taking risks is never easy and it’s often dangerous. I feel as long as you are fearless but careful, you’re safe. In the end, it’s about being brave and craving these experiences, just to be dazzled again by how much this world has to offer if you aren’t afraid.

2014 Favorites!

With 2015 around the corner, I decided to sit back and reflect on this amazing year. At the beginning of 2014 I decided to take a few months off from studying and working to travel the world. My trips took me to Berlin, Bolivia, Greece, Hamburg, Ibiza and finally to Cardiff, Wales where I started my Master’s degree in September. All of these trips have left me in awe and fuelled my wanderlust. There are three main destinations that stuck with me the most:

1. SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA

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2. SANTORINI, GREECE

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3. BRECON BEACONS, WALES

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Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the main travel destinations in Wales. I haven’t written a blogpost about it yet, I still need to sort out hundreds of pictures until I can finally share them with you. Watch out for it, the blogpost will come when you least expect it!

These are my highlights of 2014. They might be your highlights of 2015 soon?! I can’t wait for the new year to come with even more travels, trips and journeys to satisfy my urge to see the world and breathe in the air of new places. Believe me, my head is already buried in a number of travel guides and I can’t wait to book my flights, pack my bags, prepare my paths and then finally board the plane!  Do you already know where your year is going to take you? Read about my bucket list for the new year here.

See you in 2015!!

La Paz: 01.05.-04.05.14

Da in Bolivien der 01.05. auch ein Feiertag ist, hatte Andrea am DONNERSTAG natürlich frei. Wir sind aber trotzdem früh aufgestanden, weil wir zu einem Fußballspiel in der German School wollten, wo einige von Andreas Freunden mitgespielt haben. Danach sind wir Empanadas frühstücken gegangen und ich sage euch, das ist das Beste, was ich in Bolivien gegessen habe! Empanadas sind Teigtaschen aus einer Art Blätterteig, die innen mit Käse gefüllt und unglaublich fettig aber so lecker sind. Das Beste ist, wenn man sich dann noch Puderzucker draufstreut – klingt im ersten Moment gewöhnungbedürftig, ist aber einfach super. Den Nachmittag haben wir bei Andrea zu Hause verbracht und am frühen Abend haben Andrea, Lucia und ich bei Vari gekocht. Es gab Nacho-Cake, eine Spezialität aus Mexico, bei der man in einer Auflaufform Hackfleisch, Tomatensauce, Sahne, Guacamole, Nachos und Käse schichtet und das Ganze im Ofen überbacken lässt. Den Rest des Abends haben wir bei Vari gequatscht!

FREITAG hatte ich wieder meinen ganzen Tag mit Lucia verplant. Ich habe mich morgens mit ihr und einigen Freunden von ihr in der Nähe ihrer Uni getroffen und wir sind Api trinken gegangen. Api ist ein warmes Getränk, das aus lilafarbenem Mais gewonnen wird. Ich bin dann mit Lucia in die Uni gegangen und sie hat mich ein wenig rumgeführt. Dann war ich noch mit in einem ihrer Kurse – Physik. Ich habe natürlich gar kein Wort verstanden. Am Nachmittag waren wir mit einigen Freunden von ihr Kaffee trinken und sind ein wenig rumgelaufen. Unter anderem zu einem Aussichtspunkt, von dem aus man bei Sonnenuntergang einen tollen Blick über La Paz hatte. Abends bin ich dann noch mit Andrea eine Kleinigkeiten im Café Forte Essen gegangen und dann haben wir einen Film geschaut.

Am SAMSTAG sind Andrea und ich im Vainilla Café frühstücken gegangen, haben lange dort gesessen und einfach nur gequatscht. Ich musste dann in San Miguel noch die letzten Mitbringsel besorgen und mittags waren wir bei ihren Großeltern zum Essen. Nachmittags waren wir mit Lucia spazieren und abends sind wir mit Lucia und ihrem Freund bei Factory Burger essen gegangen.

SONNTAG war dann mein letzer Tag in Bolivien. Wir sind noch einmal Empanadas frühstücken gegangen, sind ein wenig durch die Sonne gelaufen und haben uns dann fertiggemacht, weil wir mittags mit Andreas Eltern und ihren Großeltern im Tennisclub verabredet waren. Die gesamte Familie ist dort Mitglied, man kann dort Sport machen oder die Wellnesseinrichtungen genießen. Die Familie hat mich rumgeführt und wir sind unter anderem zum Mittagessen dort geblieben. Nachmittags war ich dann noch mit Andrea auf dem kleinen Markt in Irpavi (das Stadtviertel, in dem Andrea wohnt) und dann habe ich meinen Koffer gepackt. Abends hat Andrea für mich Avocado Sandwiches gemacht und wir sind früh schlafen gegangen, weil wir am nächsten Tag wegen meines frühen Fluges um 3Uhr aufstehen mussten!

Since May 1st is also a holiday in Bolivia, Andrea didn’t have to work on THURSDAY. Anyway, we got up quite early because we wanted to watch a soccer match at the German school where some of Andrea’s friends took part. After the game we went to have a Empanada breakfast. Let me tell you, this is the best thing that I’ve tried in Bolivia! Empanadas are pastries made of a puff paste kind of dough and filled with cheese. They are unbelievably greasy but so delicious! The perfect way to eat them is to put powdered sugar on top. This might sound strange at first but it’s really tasty like that. We spent the afternoon at Andrea’s house and in the early evening Andrea, Lucia and I went to Vari’s house to cook. We made Nacho cake which is a speciality from Mexiko where you layer ground beef, tomato sauce, cream, guacamole, nachos and cheese in a pan and bake it in the oven. We spent the rest of the evening just chatting!

For FRIDAY I had planned the whole day with Lucia. In the morning I met up with her and some friends of hers to go and get Api. Api is a warm beverage made of purple corn. After that Lucia took me to her university to show me the campus and join her in physics class. To be honest, I didn’t understand a single word. In the afternoon we met up with some friends of Lucia’s to have coffee and walk around. Amongst other places we went to a viewpoint from where you had a beautiful view of the sun setting over La Paz. In the evening Andrea and I went to have some pastries at Forte café and watched a movie in bed.

On SATURDAY Andrea and I went to have a big breakfast at Vainilla Café and spent a lot of time chatting and enjoying each others company there. Later on I had to get some more gifts in San Miguel and at noon we went to have lunch at Andrea’s grandparents’ house. In the afternoon we took a walk with Lucia and in the evening we went to have Burgers at Factory with Lucia and her boyfriend.

SUNDAY was my last day in Bolivia. We went to have Empanadas again for breakfast, walked around in the sun and got ourselves ready because we were supposed to met up with Andrea’s parents and her grandparents at the tennis club. The whole family is registered as a member there so that they can do sports or enjoy some wellness. The family took me around the place and we stayed there for lunch. In the afternoon Andrea showed me a little food market in Irpavi (the neighbourhood where she lives) and I had to pack my suitcase. Later that night Andrea made avocado sandwiches for me and we went to bed early – my flight took off really early the next morning so weh ad to get up on 3 a.m.!

Soccer Game at the German school.

Soccer Game at the German school.

Empanadas - THE BEST!

Empanadas – THE BEST!

Preparing Nacho Cake!

Preparing Nacho Cake!

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Lucia and me.

Lucia and me.

La Universidad Catolica Boliviana

La Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo

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El Mirador!

El Mirador!

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Dinner at Forte (Cuñape, Sonso, Empanada)

Dinner at Forte (Cuñape, Sonso, Empanada)

Amigas!

Amigas!

Breakfast at Vainilla!

Breakfast at Vainilla!

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Irpavi market.

Irpavi market.

Hermanas!

Hermanas!

The Mercado house.

The Mercado house.

Lunch at the tennis club.

Lunch at the tennis club.

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The last supper.

The last supper.

La Paz: 25.04.-30.04.14

Nach der langen Fahrt zurück von Sucre bin ich FREITAGmorgen (25.04.14) endlich wieder in La Paz angekommen. Den Vormittag habe ich erstmal im Haus verbracht und habe mich ausgeruht. Nachmittags war ich dann wieder mit Lucia unterwegs. Wir sind durch San Miguel gelaufen, haben uns Galerien angeschaut und die unterschiedlichsten Gebäckwaren ausprobiert – es gibt auch eine deutsche Bäckerei, die authentische deutsche Gebäckwaren verkauft, die auch wirklich gut waren! Teilweise sind die Gebäckwaren aber auch ein wenig abgewandelt, wie zum Beispiel deutsche Berliner, die nicht mit Marmelade sondern mit Dulce de Leche gefüllt sind. Dulce de Leche findet man in Südamerika überall. Ob als Brotaufstrich, in Pralinen oder als Füllung von Gebäck. Es ist eine caramellartige Creme, die durch das Karamellisieren von Zucker und das Hinzufügen von Kondensmilch hergestellt wird. Abends habe ich mit Andrea und einem von Freund von ihr getroffen, um Burger essen zu gehen und danach haben wir noch einen Film geschaut.

SAMSTAG sind wir schon früh aufgestanden! Wir haben uns in San Miguel mit Vari (einer Freundin von Andrea) und Dominique (Varis Schwester) getroffen, um Salteñas frühstücken zu gehen. Salteñas sind eine der Spezialitäten in Bolivien. Es ist eine Art Empanada, der mit Hühnchen, Rind oder Gemüse und einer würzigen Sauce gefüllt ist. Für mich war etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig, die würzigen Teigtaschen schon zum Frühstück zu essen – normalerweise werden sie auch eigentlich als ein zweites Frühstück gegessen. Nach dem Frühstück haben wir ein bisschen geshoppt. Ich wollte ein wenig für mich schauen und hatte auch geplant, viele Mitbringsel für zu Hause mitzubringen, was ich nun erledigen wollte. Mittags waren wir zum Essen bei Andreas Großeltern und dann sind wir wieder nach San Miguel gefahren, um die restlichen Sachen zu besorgen. Zum Abschluss haben wir uns eine Pause bei Vainilla Coffee gegönnt. Ein tolles Café mit einer riesigen Auswahl an Kaffees, Gebäck, Kuchen, Frühstück und auch Sandwiches oder Salaten. Wir haben uns im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes überfressen…ich denke die Bilder sprechen für sich. Abends haben wir uns fix fertiggemacht und sind dann mit einigen Freunden von Andrea feiern gegangen!

SONNTAG war nicht viel geplant. Wir haben ausgeschlafen, im Bett gechillt und weil so tolles Wetter war, kam am Mittag Andreas Familie und wir haben gegrillt. Danach sind wir noch ein bisschen durch die Umgebung gelaufen, sind im Megacenter (das Einkaufszentrum, das fußläufig von Andrea entfernt ist) durch die Geschäfte gelaufen und haben den Abend zu Hause verbracht.

MONTAG habe ich den Vormittag wieder im Haus verbracht und einfach nur gechillt. Mittags habe ich mit Andreas Familie gegessen und mich dann auf den Weg in die Innenstadt gemacht. Ich bin durch die Calle Sagarnaga gelaufen, in der die Handarbeitsmärkte angesiedelt sind. Dort habe ich noch einige Kleinigkeiten für mich und meine Familie gekauft. Abends habe ich mich mit Andrea und Jose (ein Freund von ihr) getroffen und wir sind abends nur etwas Essen gegangen.

DIENSTAG habe ich am Vormittag wieder nichts unternommen. Nachmittags war ich mit Vicky Rotschuh zum Kaffee verabredet. Sie ist die Mutter eines Mädchens, das auch in Paderborn studiert und die ich einmal kurz dort getroffen habe. Ich bin zu Vicky nach Hause gefahren, wo auch ihr Mann und eine Freundin der Familie waren. Vickys Ehemann ist Deutscher und die Freundin ebenfalls. Vicky selbst unterrichtet in einer deutschen Schule in Bolivien, so dass wir den ganzen Nachmittag Deutsch sprechen konnten, was ich sehr genossen habe. Da mein Spanisch wirklich nicht mehr so gut ist, ist es mir während der Zeit in Bolivien nicht immer leicht gefallen zurechtzukommen, so dass es natürlich eine willkommene Abwechslung war, mal wieder Deutsch zu hören und zu sprechen. Ich hatte wirklich einen tollen Nachmittag dort und habe sofort mit Vicky verabredet, dass sie mich am nächsten Vormittag einmal durch die deutsche Schule führt. Abends hat Andrea mich bei der Familie abgeholt und wir haben nichts Besonderes mehr unternommen.

MITTWOCH bin ich dann am späten Vormittag mit einem Taxi zur deutschen Schule gefahren, wo mich Vicky am Tor abgeholt und ein wenig rumgeführt hat. Diese Art von Schule ist wie eine kleine eigene Welt, ich war ganz überrascht. Die wohlhabenden Familien haben so die Möglichkeit, ihre Kinder vom „wirklichen bolivianischen Leben“ abzuschirmen und ihnen eine bestmögliche Ausbildung zu garantieren. Ich habe mich auch lange mit dem Direktor der Berufsschule auf dem Campus unterhalten, der mir bestätigt hat, dass die Schule und insbesondere eine duale Ausbildung in der Berufsschule ein ideales Sprungbrett für eine internationale Karriere bilden. Nach dem Schulbesuch hat mich Vickys Ehemann abgeholt und wir sind zum German Club gefahren, einem Sport- und Wellnessclub für deutsche Einwohner, der auch wieder einen Rückzugsort aus dem Leben in La Paz bildet. Am Nachmittag hatte Lucia einige Freunde eingeladen und hat für uns Pancakes gemacht – ein sehr lustiger und internationaler Haufen – wir waren 3 Bolivianer, 2 Deutsche und ein Belgier. Abends haben Andrea und ich uns Pizza bestellt und wir sind mit ihrer Freundin Sissy noch etwas trinken gegangen.

After the long bus ride back from Sucre I arrived back to La Paz von FRIDAY morning (25.05.14). I spent the first part of the day in Andrea’s house, unpacking my stuff and chilling out a little. During the afternoon, I walked around San Miguel with Lucia, looking at galleries and enjoying all different kinds of pastries. La Paz even has a German bakery where they sell authentic German pastries. Some of them are modified a little: German Berliner are not filled with jam, they are filled with Dulce de Leche. Dulce de Leche can be found everywhere in South America. Either as bread spread, in truffels or as filling for pastries. It is caramel kind of creme that is made by caramelizing sugar and adding sweetened milk. In the evening I met up with Andrea and a friend of hers and we went for burgers and watched a movie.

On SATURDAY morning we got up early. We met up with Vari (a friend of Andrea’s) and Dominique (Vari’s sister) in San Miguel to have a Salteña breakfast. Salteñas are one of Bolivia’s specialities. They are a kind of empanada which is filled with chicken, beef or vegetables topped with a spicy sauce. Eating them for breakfast was kind of weird for me – they are usually eaten as a second breakfast in the late morning. After breakfast we went for a little shopping spree. I wanted to get some things for myself but also buy gifts for my friends and family back home. At noon we went to have lunch at Andrea’s grandparents’ house and went back to San Miguel after that to continue shopping. For a little treat later we went to Vainilla Coffee which is an awesome café with a huge range of coffees, pastries, cakes, breakfast but also sandwiches and salads. We literally went overboard with what we ordered…I guess the pictures speak for themselves. At night we got ourselves ready and went partying with some of Andrea’s friends!

On SUNDAY we just wanted to take it slow. We slept in and chilled out in bed all morning. Since the weather was so nice outside, we had a barbecue with Andrea’s whole family. In the afternoon we just walked around the neighbourhood a little, went to Megacenter (the shopping mall that is around the corner from Andrea’s house) and just spent the evening at home.

MONDAY was another day where I spent the morning at home and chilled a little. I had lunch at home with Andrea’s family and then went out to go to the Calle Sagarnaga where they sell handicrafts at the local markets. There I bought some little things for myself and also for my family. At night I met up with Andrea and Jose (a friend of hers) and we went to have dinner together.

I also spent TUESDAY morning at home. In the afternoon I had a coffee date with Vicky Rotschuh. She is the mother of a girl that also studies in Paderborn and who I met once. I went to Vicky’s house where I also met her husband and a friend of the family. They were both German and since Vicky teaches German in a local German school, we were able to speak German the whole afternoon which I really enjoyed. Because of the fact that my Spanish really isn’t that good, it was sometimes hard during the trip to communicate with all different people. So it was nice for a change to speak German. I really had an awesome afternoon and arranged with Vicky to meet her at the German school the following morning for her to show me around a little. In the evening I was picked up by Andrea and we just spent the evening at home.

WEDNESDAY in the late morning I grabbed a taxi and went to the German school where Vicky picked me up at the gate and showed me around a little. The school appears like its own little world, I was kind of surprised by that. The school beings its own world gives wealthy parents the opportunity to shield their children from the „real bolivian life“ and ensure the best possible education for them. I also spent some time talking to the principal of the professional school on campus who assured me that the German school and especially the professional school are the ideal stepping stone for an international career. After visiting the school, I also went to the German club which is a sports- and wellnessclub for German citizens – also a retreat from the typical Bolivian life. For the afternoon Lucia had invited some of her friends to have pancakes with us – a fun and international bunch of people. We were 2 Bolivians, 2 Germans and 1 Belgian. At night Andrea and I ordered pizza and went for a drink with her friend Sissy.

German "Berliner" with Dulce de Leche.

German “Berliner” with Dulce de Leche.

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Salteña-Breakfast!

Salteña-Breakfast!

Vainilla Coffee in the afternoon.

Vainilla Coffee in the afternoon.

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Shopping!!

Shopping!!

Ready for a night out!

Ready for a night out!

Mercedes-Benz in Bolivia.

Mercedes-Benz in Bolivia.

Rocky La Paz environment

Rocky La Paz environment

The German school.

The German school.

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The German club.

The German club.

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Chicas!

Chicas!