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.

Daydreaming. Throwback. Summer.

This is a throwback. Technically, throwbacks apparently only work on Thursdays now, with the widely known #throwbackthursday. But you can’t really control your longings and feelings, can you? Summer has finally arrived in Wales. Blazing hot summer days, long and warm nights on the patio and blissfully enjoying the warm and hot sun streams on your skin.

Can you really enjoy it though? When you’re in your everyday life, you most probably can’t appreciate summer as much as you would want it. Running to work or to uni, hauling groceries around in 30 degree-stuffy-air and only finding time to truly enjoy the weather in the evenings.

In these times, I always pretend my head is in a little travel-bubble. In my head I am in Santorini right now. Sitting on the patio, drinking coffee and enjoying a Greek breakfast.

Or, even better, returning to my favourite memory – hiking from Fira to Oia, the two biggest towns in Santorini. Passing by lush infinity pools, admiring the endless and ultramarine coloured ocean and taking in the tranquility around you.

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Do you have these reveries you can escape to when you’re feeling you need a break? My advice is to keep them as close to your heart as possible. There’s nothing better than going through your memories and pictures from past travels and feeling an excitement bubbling up inside you, only waiting to board the next plane and go on a trip.

I am lucky to say that my next take off is only 22 days away now. Soon I’ll step foot onto Canadian land for the first time, visiting Calgary, Banff and Jasper. And of course, being a guest at one of my best friend’s wedding!

Where do your throwbacks and daydreams take you? Or even better, where are you travelling next? I still have a long bucket list for 2015!

Christmas in Dublin. Can this get any more charming?

Christmas in Dublin – why not? After being a busy bee with tons of assignments, lack of sleep and way too many days in the library, it was time for a change. After school finished on 12 December, I packed my bags and left Cardiff to meet up with my friend Susann in Dublin!

Let me tell you, Dublin is a charming city. It is quite tiny so it is the perfect destination for a weekend trip. There are 7 things you shouldn’t miss while you’re visiting Ireland’s capital. I know, usually bloggers tell you about the 5 best or 10 best things in a city. Since I simply couldn’t decide what I liked most, I thought I’d go with the odd number of seven today!

1. TEMPLE BAR DISTRICT.

Perfect for dinner or a drink at a traditional Irish pub. I’m sure you’ll find a place that you like, the district has so much to offer! Part of it is also known as the “hipster-triangle” (http://lovindublin.com/reviews/hipster/dublins-ultimate-foodie-district-hipster-triangle) so you’ll find small, independent bars, restaurants, cafés and shops everywhere. The district is breathtaking during Christmas time as ALL the buildings are lit up beautifully!

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2. TRINITY COLLEGE.

Established in 1592 and famous for its graduates Oscar Wilde or Bram Stoker, the Trinity College is definitely a sight you shouldn’t miss! You can wander around the campus all year round and breathe in the air of the ancient buildings and a rich college history. If you are interested in books and old libraries (I simply love majestic college libraries!), you should pay the entrance fee to see the Trinity College library. The two main attractions are the long room and the Book of Kells (an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament).

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3. GUINNESS STOREHOUSE.

This is known as Dublin’s most famous tourist attraction. And it is worth the money! The Guinness Storehouse has been restored into an awesome museum that guides you through the process of producing the Guinness beer. You are guided through a very interactive tour with cool features such as a Twitter wall where you can post your thoughts on the museum, a beer tasting course, a guideline on how to perfectly pour your Guinness from a bottle and finally the Gravity Bar, where you can savour a free pint of Guinness while enjoying the view all over Dublin.

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4. DUBLN CASTLE.

Though you can only wander around the premises of Dublin Castle and not enter the castle itself, it is still worth a visit. Especially since it is right at the heart of Dublin’s city centre, so you wouldn’t want to miss it anyway! I would also recommend to visit the Chester Beatty Library, which is located right next to the castle (there is no entrance fee!).

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5. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ALL OVER THE CITY.

Wherever you wander in Dublin, the city is lit up beautifully everywhere! Don’t miss the Christmas spirit, enjoy the neatly decorated shop windows and listen to Christmas carols playing in the streets or the stores. You can find the most beautiful Christmas lights at Mary Street and Henry Street (north of the river Liffey) or in Grafton Street (the main shopping street in Dublin).

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6. OLD JAMESON DISTILLERY.

Seems like Dublin is all about alcohol, ha? I mean if Guiness and Old Jameson are famous beverages from Ireland’s capital you have to pay them a visit, right? That’s what we did. After deciding to only visit the Guinness Storehouse museum and not also pay for checking out how the Old Jameson Whiskey is made, we still decided to visit the Old Jameson store that is located at the bottom floor of the distillery. And that was all I needed! During Christmas time, the foyer is richly decorated and you can choose from a variety of products in the Old Jameson shop.

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7. TEAROOMS, TEAROOMS, TEAROOMS.

As you will know from my last post, I am obsessed with tearooms. Dublin is a perfect spot for this obsession! Susann and I always found an excuse to escape the piercing Irish winds and hop into one of the lovely cafés. There are two cafés that I can totally recommend. The first one is Queen of Tarts (Cows Lane, Dame Street or Cork Hill, Dame Street). They offer handmade pastries and delicious teas.

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The second café is The Grattan Café (Grattan Bridge, 6A Ormond Quay Upper, City Centre North). We found this little gem while we were on our way looking for a Costa Coffee (I know, I know, these big coffee chains…but sometimes you’re just desperate!) and passed the café on our way through the cold so that we decided to hop in. We only stopped for a quick coffee and tea but there are pastries, cakes and breakfasts on the menu that definitely seemed worth checking out!

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Follow my footsteps through Cardiff.

Although Cardiff is the capital of Wales, it sometimes feels more like a small town. One reason being its size – the city is rather small compared to its capital-companions such as London, Edinburgh or Dublin. You can basically walk everywhere. Another reason for its small town feeling is the fact that Cardiff is home to a number of Victorian and Edwardian arcades that are spread throughout the city. The arcades are not only a shopping destination, I mostly visit them to spend an afternoon in one of the cozy cafés or tearooms there.

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Speaking of tearooms – the best and most famous tearooms in Cardiff are the “Pettigrew Tearooms” located in Bute Park. The “Pettigrew Tearooms” are famous for their handmade cakes and British tea biscuits. When I visited the tearooms several weeks ago, I tried their Classic Cream Tea offer. You get to choose on of their teas which comes along with two scones, jam and cream. The tea I chose was the Angel Peach tea – a loose leaf tea made of green Sencha with sunflower blossoms and a fragrant peach flavour – so delicious! Since the “Pettigrew Tearooms” are featured in several travel guides, they are often a destination for tourists. To make sure that you get a cute spot inside the café (or outside in their little garden in the heart of Bute park!), make sure you arrive just a little before the regular tea time, which usually starts around 3.30/4pm.

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Since you are already in Bute park, you might as well explore it a little more! The park is the perfect recreational space whenever you feel like escaping the city life. The river Taff flows through the park. If you keep following the river all the way to the north, you are following the so-called “Taff Trail”, a popular hike which eventually leads you all the way to Castle Coch or even the Brecon Beacons National Park, which will be featured in one of the following blogposts.

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If you don’t feel like hiking or taking a walk through Bute park, the Cardiff city centre has a lot to offer. Aside from tea rooms and arcades, you can also find several high streets or huge shopping malls that are home to big British and international retail chains such as Nike, H&M, Urban Outfitters or Apple. But there is more: the Cardiff Central Market also dates back to the Victorian times and used to be the central marketplace for the citizens of Cardiff. Now it is more of a speciality marketplace, selling fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, decorative items or records. One thing you need to try there are the handmade Welsh Cakes. They are traditionally baked on a bakestone and consist of dough, raisins and powdered sugar. Make sure you get them when they are fresh from the oven and still warm!

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A trip to Cardiff always takes you to the Cardiff Bay. When living in Cardiff, you find yourself being lucky to live in a city that has a river and access to the sea at the same time! The Cardiff Bay is a 20 minute walk away from the city centre (buses and trains also go to the bay). It is a popular spot for a Sunday getaway or a visit to the Wales Millenium Centre where you can choose between visiting musicals, theatre shows or ballet performances.

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In November, Keshia, Corrie and I decided to watch “Beauty and the Beast” performed by the Ballet Cymru, the Welsh national ballet company. The performance was amazing and the perfect start to a dazzling Christmas time in Cardiff! Every little spot in Cardiff is covered in Christmas lights and you hear Christmas carols everywhere you go. The city even has a little Christmas market, known as the Winter Wonderland. Also, our beautiful university seems to put up Christmas trees in every building to make sure that you get into the Christmas spirit when you’re all busy with finals and assignments!

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Street Food Cardiff.

Street Food Cardiff is known as the “Hipster-Wonderland”. It’s a a pop-up event in an old and abandoned warehouse in the outskirts of Cardiff. Independent street food traders are coming together to this place to bring a new flavour to Cardiff’s dining scene. All of this will be gone in one week. That’s what pop-up events are all about and this creates the buzz and the energy that surrounds them. When the event was launched a few weeks ago, the website didn’t even reveal the location. The owners completely count on word of mouth and social media.

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I heard about the event in one of my lectures at Cardiff University. Simon Thomas, the organiser, held a guest lecture in my course. He used to be an International Public Relations & Global Communications Management student. After trying to find his bliss with different jobs all over the UK, he came back to Cardiff and started working with local businesses. This is how Street Food Cardiff came to life. Yesterday evening some of my coursemates and I finally decided to walk the 40 minute walk to the event location “The Depot” to find out what all the buzz was about. Let me tell you – it is more than worth it. When we arrived at the location, we were greeted by a long line in front of the building. Luckily, it didn’t take us more than 5 minutes to get into the building. We had been told before that there exists an entrance fee – for us it was free. With these kinds of events you never know which information is true and which is not.

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Once inside a building, you are surrounded by folk music, food trucks, steam all around the place and happy faces everywhere you look. Since this weekend’s theme is Thanksgiving, all the food was influenced by Nothern and Southern America: Burgers, Burritos, Haute (Hot) Dogs or Churros. I went for the Haute Dogs! The one that I chose was the Berlin Haute Dog – Brioche, Frankfurter Sausage, Pickles, Curry Ketchup and Mustard. It was delicious!

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Since I felt that I couldn’t only try one of the amazing foods, I went for Churros & Chocolate for dessert. Yummy, guys! Even after we had finished trying out all the food, we stayed for a little while longer, enjoying the atmosphere, drinking beer and dancing. The event will only last one week longer – you better check it out as soon as possible!

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