Road Trippin‘ England #1 White Cliffs of Dover and spending the night in Folkestone

Blogpost contains unsponsored ads (Hostels, Restaurants etc.). These are all my personal recommendations based on my experience in England. I don’t get paid for mentioning any of these places.

Long time ago in 2018, (can’t believe it’s already 2020 and  I haven’t posted this article earlier) my dad and I decided to go an a road trip to England.
We drove my little, at least 24 year old, VW Golf Three Cabriolet to Calais and took the ferry to Dover. We had to book the ferry in advance and since my dad and I are usually not „over punctual“, we were fearing we might miss the ferry, which was not particular cheap to be honest. Fortunately, we made it on time and enjoyed the ride to England while at least half of the cars where honking because their alarms got off due to the movement of the ferry.

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The White Cliffs of Dover, arriving at the P&O Dover Ferry terminal

After twenty minutes, we could see the the beautiful and well known White Cliffs of Dover. I am definitely obsessed with rocks, cliffs and mountains, therefore, approaching the cliffs was really amazing to me. It didn’t take us too long to get off the ferry and we decided to drive uphill and go for a short walk. We parked the car on a car park near the Visitor Center Langdon Cliffs and wandered around the green meadows on top of the cliffs.

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View on Dover Harbour 
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Dover Castle

We had a great view on Dover Castle and enjoyed the last rays of sunlight, the view on the sea and the fresh and salty air.

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As the sun was beginning to set, we decided to drive through the city of Dover, in order to drive to Folkestone, a small city near Dover where our hotel was located. If we saw a nice spot, we would just stop, wander around, take a picture and then go on. Since we hadn’t really planned the trip, we had time to relax and go wherever we wanted.

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The hotel we booked a day earlier was the Southcliff Hotel, I nice and inexpensive hotel, that offered English and continental breakfast as well.

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Folkestone

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Hummus and Falafel at the Aspendos Restaurant

The receptionist recommended the Aspendos Restaurant to us, a Turkish restaurant that offers a great variety of delicious dishes and has inside and outside seating options. I had hummus and falafel and they also served us fresh pita (I think it was pita…) bread. To be honest, I think this was just the starter but I can’t remember what I had as a main dish.

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The next day we left after breakfast and continued our trip, driving along the coast, seeing many nice places and beautiful houses. I really love the „typical“ English houses with the red bricks and the cute chimneys.

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After a short stop at a beach, we eventually arrived at our next destination, which I will talk about in the next England Road Trip post.

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Quick stop at a beach on the way to our next destination.

We really enjoyed Folkestone as a place to spend the night. The hotels there were definitely cheaper than in Dover, the atmosphere was nice and the view on the sea was amazing! We also spend our last night before heading back to Germany in the same hotel and tried another restaurant, which I can highly recommend, called The Meze House. It is a greek restaurant located almost next to the Southcliff Hotel in a street called „Shakespeare Terrace“– and the food was great! I absolutely fell in love with Halloumi fries and we eventually ordered them twice, since even my dad loved them, although he always referred to Halloumi as the „Squeaking Cheese“ and never really enjoyed it… until that point … :)!

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The Meze House, such a beautiful interior design!

Stay tuned for the upcoming articles about our little „England Road Trip Adventure“, I hope you enjoyed reading this!

xx, Sophie

Exploring Lisboa, three days in Portugal’s capital #3

Blogpost contains unsponsored ads (Airlines, Hostels, Restaurants etc.). These are all my personal recommendations based on my experience in Lisbon, Portugal. I don’t get paid for mentioning any of these places.

Hey there, if you haven’t read the first article about my Lisbon trip click here, and I will link you the second one here. Enjoy reading!

Day three in Lisbon. The rain was pouring. However, nothing could spoil my mood- I had great plans for the day. I borrowed an umbrella from the hostel, which was unfortunately broken. It folded over my head made me look like a weird version of Darth Vader, I really had to laugh at myself walking down the Rua de Século. I bought a new umbrella in the next best shop I could find and was then well prepared for the day.

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LX Factory – urban style, artsy and definitely worth a trip

The LX Factory is an old factory site that was resurrected and is now home to many cool stores, cafés and start ups. It is located under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and halfway between Lisbon’s city center and Belém (is that English?) .
In order to drive to the LX Factory, I went do the Cais do Sodré station and took the Bus 15E to the station Calvário. From Calvário, it is just a short walk until you will arrive at the former factory site.

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There was a temporary art exhibition at the LX Factory, where local artists sold prints of their works under the name of Merc’Art 2019 Art is a Human Right – it was great!

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I fell in love with the industrial style and all the little shops, cafés and ateliers. They even have the „First Floor Ethical Market“ every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 8pm which focuses on conscious consumption and shows artistic productions. Unfortunately, I went there on a Tuesday, but it’s definitely on my bucket list if I come back.

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I found a little store called Organii where I bought a solid conditioner and I am already excited to try it. Still on my way to a more sustainable lifestyle, I am always looking for Zero Waste options to try when it comes to hair and body products.
Another store which I really liked, was the Bairro Arte store, definitely the place to go if you are looking for artsy souvenirs or if you are into crazy decor.

 

Around noon I found myself in a small café called chef Nino which offers lots of juices, great breakfast options and soups. I had the soup of the day and the juice of the day, which was both delicious. The café is super cozy and I had a chat with the waitress who recommended a bookstore down the street to me. I wonder how crowded this place must be in summer but there were just a handful of tourists when I went there a month ago.

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Enjoyed my ginger-carrot-soup and a pineapple-and-something- juice.

The bookstore, which the kind lady recommended to me, is called Ler Devagar and to be honest, I thought it’s a bookstore but I assume it’s so much more. They have a cute café installed in there and also host music installations, performances, poetry and more. This place is simply amazing, they offer every kind of books you can dream of. Good for me that I was only travelling with my small Fjällräven backpack, otherwise I would have brought home tons of books.

Once again, the downside of travelling by yourself is that you have to get creative when it comes to taking pictures of yourself. I really needed a #seriousbookwormface picture of myself, standing on one of those fancy ladders. I therefore placed my phone on the stairs and took a picture with self-timer and hurt myself while I was trying to hopp on the ladder as fast as I could. People around me looked kind of confused…I know…I could have asked someone to take a picture of me…next time!

 

Belém

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I decided not to take a bus to Belém and walked instead, in order to see more places. I discovered a parking lot with the perfect view on the Ponte 25 de Abril, a suspension bridge connecting Lisbon with the city of Almada on the left side of the Tejo, which is by the way, the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. In the background: the statue of Cristo Rei in Almada.

To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed in Bélem which is the district of Lisbon which is famous for its museums, different sights like the Jerónimos Monastery, an UNESCO World Heritage Site (which is actually very beautiful!) and the Belém Palace, which is today the official residence of the President of Portugal.

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From the Monastery, it is a one kilometer walk to the Torre de Belém, which is one of the most known symbols of Lisbon. It was really impressive to see the waves hitting the strong walls of the tower.

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Time Out Market

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I had taken the Bus 15E from the station Mosteiro dos Jerónimos back to Cais do Sodré and decided it was time to have dinner. I went to the Time Out Market again and had a super delicious Pad Thai which actually tasted like the original one in Thailand. I then met a guy from the US and we decided to check out some bars in the Bairro Alto, a district in Lisbon that is famous for its night life.

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Night Life in the Barrio alto

If you go on a night out in Lisbon (and even during the day), be prepared to be offered drugs and substances by men on the street. It only happened to me once, but as far as I know, a „No thanks“ and then continuing to walk usually works and will get you out of the situation pretty quickly.
However, there are so many nice bars offering good, and in comparison to Germany, cheap cocktails and drinks.

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I think our favourite bar was the A Cultura do Hambúrguer, since its interior design is simply amazing and the drinks are delicious and kind of „outlandish“. Someone definitely got creative there. The barkeeper was a young woman from Brasil who told us that she worked in Ireland for one or two years and recently came to Portugal. I found it simply amazing how she just decided to leave her country and her continent to work in Ireland which is, to my mind, completely different to South America and then moved again to Portugal. You go girl!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the this article of the Lisbon series.
Stay tuned for more travel content!

xx, Sophie

Exploring Lisboa, three days in Portugal‘s capital #2

Blogpost contains unsponsored ads (Airlines, Hostels, Restaurants etc.). These are all my personal recommendations based on my experience in Lisbon, Portugal. I don’t get paid for mentioning any of these places.

Welcome back to my „Exploring Lisboa“ series. If you haven’t read the first article, click here. To give you some background information, I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and left the following Wednesday in the evening. I therefore spent around 72 hours in Lisbon, which is around two complete days plus the day of arrival and departure where I was able to explore some things too.

Today I will share with you what I’ve done that Monday, I’ve tackled some of the most famous sights in Lisbon that day, which is the Elevador de Santa Justa, the Tram 28, the Castelo de São Jorge, the historic district of Alfama, the Pink Street and the Time Out Market.

 

Elevador de Santa Justa

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My first stop that day was the Elevador de Santa Justa. It is an elevator that was originally built to connect the streets of Baixa with the district Chiado. This vertical lift is a famous tourist attraction, if you want to use the lift, you will have to wait approximately thirty minutes, since the queue is usually pretty long. Additionally, it will cost you some money to use the elevator to go up, I will link you a website with further information about the prices here.

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Well, I wasn’t very keen to spend my time in Lisbon, waiting for an elevator, so I decided to look for bridge that connects the elevator with the upper streets. If you walk past the actual elevator and walk up the street, there will be stairs to your right at some point that will lead you up to the Chiado district from where you can access the bridge that is connected to the first platform of the elevator. It is definitely worth to walk up there and enjoy the view, even though there are better viewpoints in Lisbon, as you will read later in this post.

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I simply love listening to street musicians! There are so many young, creative people in Lisbon!

 

The Tram 28 disaster

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Lisbon is known for its little trams that connect the different districts of the city. The most popular one is the wooden Tram 28 which goes from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, passing many historic districts, including Graça, Baixa, Alfama and the Bairro Alto. It will take you to many beautiful places in Lisbon but be prepared to stand in line for a long time.

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When I arrived at Martim Moniz, I was pretty happy to see that there were only two girls in front of me waiting for the tram. When they were about to enter, a man got in their way and pointed towards an at least 150m long queue of people, all waiting to enter the historic tram. No way was I gonna wait for so long to stand in a tram full of people and likely being pick pocketed. I therefore decided to walk to my next destination, which was the Castelo de São Jorge. Right behind the Tram 28 station I found escalators, surrounded by beautiful residential buildings covered with gorgeous tiles. These escalators will take you uphill and you can give your legs some rest, while enjoying the view! Of course you can take a tram to the Castelo, but I really enjoyed my walk, since I found many nice photo spots, and little shops selling unique Portuguese souvenirs.

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On my way to the Castelo I haven’t met many people but when I spotted more tourists, I knew I was getting close. In front of the Castelo were some artists, selling their art work like the man in the picture who created unique art using coffee as colour. However, most impressive to me where the two guys who played music with their instruments, called Hand Pans. I really enjoyed listening to their music and bought their CDs to support them. They met in Lisbon, one of them is Spanish, the other one from Berlin. I just love the idea of two individual artists meeting and uniting, creating new pieces of music together, supporting each other and enjoying themselves, which is quite good to see in the picture I guess.

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Castelo de São Jorge

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I stood in line for around ten minutes maximum, but depending on when your planning to visit the Castelo, you might have to wait longer. However, it is definitely worth it! If you are between thirteen and twenty-five years old, you will pay only 5€ for the entry, if you are older you will pay 10€.

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The castle complex, surrounded by a garden, provides you with castle walls to walk on, and old towers to climb. You will be exposed to one- or maybe THE most beautiful view in Lisbon. You can see the whole city from different viewpoints in that area, it is simply amazing! However, I would recommend wearing closed shoes with a good profile, since the steps up the castle are quite steep and might be slippery.

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The streets of beautiful Alfama

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After having visited the Castelo de São Jorge, I decided to explore the historic district Alfama, which is recommended in every travel guide. On my way I found this greek looking spot with a man playing the guitar and singing. I sat down for a while and just enjoyed the fact that I was travelling by myself, that I could do whatever I wanted and I was extremely grateful and extremely happy. It was a wonderful feeling!

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However, I think my expectations for Alfama where a little too high. I don’t even know what exactly I expected but it is still a gorgeous district of the city. I adore the tiles of the buildings, and just the atmosphere, there are many small and sometimes hidden restaurants. I haven’t even seen many tourists but instead some locals who always smiled back when I smiled at them. To my mind, it just felt so different, so relaxed, so kind.

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An encounter that’s typical for solo travel

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My next destination was the Pink Street, but on my way I discovered a cute little place that was very appealing, called Basilio Café. I ordered a green juice and just came back from the bathroom when I saw a young woman sitting on my place, next to my backpack which I had left there, hoping the Portuguese would say something if someone wanted to take it. I mean, it was a small café full of locals and the waitress even talked to me in Portuguese. Anyways, I told the girl that I was sitting there and she apologized and was about to leave when I asked her if she was on her own. She agreed and I asked her if she wanted to sit with me. That is how I met Sarah. She grew up in London and spent some days in Lisbon, and we chatted for at least an hour in that café. I was really happy that I had asked her to stay, since we had a great conversation and she is such an engaged and inspiring young woman. This is what I love about travelling by myself, I think we wouldn’t have met if I had been travelling with someone else.

 

„You just need a street and a couple of buckets with pink paint to create a tourist attraction.“

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Sarah and I decided to go to the Pink Street together, it is near the Cais do Sodré  station and pretty easy to find, even though it isn’t too long. It is really funny how „easy“ it is, to create a tourist attraction, just paint the street pink! Okay this isn’t quite true in this case. The street used to be Lisbon’s red light district and was originally called Rua Nova do Carvalho. Today you will find many bars and restaurants there, it is one of the places to go to if you want to go on a night out.

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Me, standing on the Pink Street, my face matching the colour of the street, super exhausted :D!

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Time Out Market

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It was time for Sarah to leave to catch her flight home and I decided to grab a drink at the Time Out Market, a huge food court with many different food options available. International food, typical Portuguese food, Wine, a Bar and next to the food court there is a big grocery market where the locals buy their greens, meat, fish and more. Good thing about this place: If you travel in a large group, everyone will find something to eat!
Have you ever heard of Pastéis de Nata? It is a Portuguese speciality made of egg yolks and topped with cinnamon. At first, I thought it was something with cheese, until I tasted it. It was super weird, as I was expecting something salty and it turned out to taste sweet, actually reminded me of cheesecake or something with pudding. It wasn’t really my thing but I’m glad I gave it a try!

I finished my day with a pizza at Jamie’s Pizza. I mean, I had pizza at a Jamie Oliver restaurant, to me, that’s pretty amazing!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my second day in Lisbon. I’d love to hear your feedback and Lisbon travel tips!

xx, Sophie

Exploring Lisboa, three days in Portugal‘s capital #1

Blogpost contains unsponsored ads (Airlines, Hostels, Restaurants etc.). These are all my personal recommendations based on my experience in Lisbon, Portugal. I don’t get paid for mentioning any of these places.

LISBON. I fell in love with this beautiful city. In the end of October I booked a flight to Lisbon in the middle of the night. It was actually two in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. The past few months the urge to go travelling by myself again, grew a lot. And I knew that now was the time. So I booked a flight with Ryanair and a Hostel on Hostelworld. (I’ve already considered planting a tree or collecting waste, because I don’t really trust the airlines eco donation program, I still need to look that campaign up…)

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By the end of November, the time had come and I went to the Luxemburg Airport and took a plane to wonderful LISBOA. The flight was on time, I only carried a small backpack and therefore didn’t have to wait for my luggage. The Metro station is located directly next to the Airport and getting to the city centre couldn’t be easier! I took two subways and within 30 minutes I found myself at the promenade of Lisbon. (I will publish another post about my hostel, public transport, expenses etc.)

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Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s main square.
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Beautiful Trams everywhere!
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Arco do Triunfo

I arrived at Cais do Sodré and walked down the promenade until I arrived at the Praça do Comércio. My first impression was „wow it looks even better than in all the pictures“ and my second one was „why are here so few people“. It was a Sunday afternoon in November. Definitely not the hot season but good for me, there weren’t as many tourists present, I can’t imagine how crowded the city must become during summer, even I’d love to visit Lisbon during the summer months.

I sat down at the shore, took a couple of breaths and enjoyed the smell of saltwater. I’ve really missed travelling!

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After having passed the big Arco da Rua Augusta (also called Arco do Triunfo), I discovered the labyrinths of small streets in Lisbon. There are restaurants in the middle of the streets, just like the ones on the famous „La Rambla“ in Barcelona. To be honest, I wouldn’t eat there, I’m quite sure the food and drinks will cost you a lot more than usual. It was quite funny when I caught sight of a couple that took the same plane as I did, sitting in a restaurant in the middle of the street. I decided to walk to my hostel, instead of taking a bus. I feel like it’s so much easier to develop a sense of direction when you’re exploring places by foot. On my way to the hostel, which was located in the Bairro alto, I’ve already found the place where I wanted to have dinner and saw many little boutiques and shops. There are so many cute shops in this city where people sell handmade jewellery, fair trade soap, old books or vintage clothes. It’s definitely worth checking some of those out, just to get some inspiration. Personally, I enjoy looking at beautiful small gifts, boutiques etc. But I love to look at it as a whole, because even if I decided to buy something, it wouldn’t be as beautiful at my home, as at the store. You know. Conscious buying and minimalism. 😀

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View from the Jardím de São Pedro de Alcântara
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Elevador da Glória

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Walking uphill, I spotted one of the three Elevadores, the trams that just go straight up and down one single hill (street). The one I saw is the Elevador da Glória and one ride costs 3,80€. Next to this small tram is the Jardím de São Pedro de Alcântara, which provides you with an amazing view of the city. When I was there, there were constructions going on, but it was still a very nice place.

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One of the small shops I really loved, they had travel related books, soaps, art, everything!

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After I checked in at my hostel, which was pretty easy to find by the way, I decided to go for an Asian dinner and had Salad, Tofu and Edamame at a restaurant called „Noods„. The Atmosphere was great, the food was delicious and they offer a big variety of Asian dishes and have vegan options. I don’t know why but I tend to eat a lot of Asian food when I’m travelling, no matter where I am…

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Noods, Asian cuisine, great dishes, bowls etc.

After having enjoyed my dinner and a Portuguese beer, I realised that it was still too early to go back to the hostel and decided that I was going to look for a rooftop bar called „PARK“ which is located on top of a parking lot. I actually found the parking lot and went up the stairs till I reached the upper level. Alright, to be honest, the walk upstairs is a little cheeky, if I hadn’t known that there was actually a bar on top of the building, I wouldn’t have gone up there (is that a sentence?). But I was eager to see the bar so I took the stairs, ignored the weed smoking teenagers and well, it was definitely worth it! The bar has an urban flair, provides a great view on the city, is decorated with plants, has two DJs who are playing good music and has an indoor and an outdoor space. Unfortunately they closed at 8pm that Sunday, probably because it was off season, I am sure it’s different during summertime.

 

I really enjoyed my first day in Lisbon and after I’ve had a nice dinner and a drink at PARK, I went to bed, tired, but with a smile on my face.

Stay tuned for the next Lisbon posts! I am still not sure if I prefer the ‚travel-diary‘ kind of articles, or the ‚recommendation-must-see‘ ones. What do you prefer to read?

Have you ever been to Lisbon?

Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees – the last days in New York

It is almost the end of Camp. The end of nine weeks working in a group of international women, taking care of girls from underprivileged families. What an amazing summer! We did so many things, went to New York City almost every weekend off but there was one thing left on my bucket list: Watching a baseball game.

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We were so lucky we got tickets for the Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees game. I mean – helloo – Texas!!! It’s been two years since I’ve spent two weeks in Fort Worth but I still own my Texas Rangers hat! Fortunately the game was on our night off and our camp director allowed us to leave in the afternoon instead of after dinner. So we took the train to Penn Station and bought a Yankees T-Shirt for my friend from Austria. Afterwards we took the subway to the Bronx.

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The atmosphere was great but I have to admit, I definitely prefer American Football over Baseball. I mean the rules are quite easy to understand but to be honest- to my mind it was kind of boring after the first 90 minutes. In fact, we had to leave earlier because we needed to be back before midnight but Texas Rangers won the game, that is all that matters! I do not regret watching the game, it was a great experience but I won’t do it again.

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After the campers had left, we had to clean up the cabins and prepare the camp for the next summer. It took us a weekend to tidy everything up and in the evenings we went out to have dinner with the councillors or went to the mall.

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I love Urban Outfitters, even though the clothes do not fit me :D!
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Cheesecake Factory, I think I’ve tried at least six different cakes that summer!

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One last time having pizza with my co-councillor from Berlin at our favourite pizza place!

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Nine weeks of summer camp were officially over, I wish I could go back! But I still had two weeks of travelling left! So stay tuned :)!

 

 

American Museum of Natural History – my last weekend off in NYC

Have you watched „Night at the Museum“? I did and I therefore had to visit the American Museum of Natural History. By the way, this was the last official weekend off we had. It therefore was the last weekend I spent with my co-councilors – time went by so fast that summer!

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Before we headed to the AMNH, we went to Times Square where I bought some drumsticks at Hard Rock Cafe for my brother and we spent some time on the streets of Manhattan and also visited Central Park.

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Strolling around in Central Park

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We arrived at the American Museum of Natural History around noon and getting closer the counter, we realised that it is up to the visitor how much one wants to pay. They have a payment recommendation of $18 but the least you have to pay is $1. There were three girls in front of us who all paid only $1 and to be honest, in that situation, I considered that as pretty rude. They did not look like they were not able to pay the usual entrance fee and personally I think that if you are able to, you should pay the recommended fee, or at least a couple of dollars just to pay tribute to the museum, its staff, its donors etc.

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The famous Tyrannosaurus!

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The museum itself has many different exhibitions, the first one we visited was one about the African continent and informed visitors about wildlife and plants. I could not get this scenario of lions jumping out of the windows at night out of my head. There was also a polar/marine exhibition with a life-sized blue whale hanging from the ceiling. It was stunning!
In addition to all the wildlife on exhibition, they also informed visitors about the evolution of mankind and demographic change, it was super interesting!
Last but not least we went to the dinosaur and fossil segment and it was really breathtaking, imagining that these creatures actually existed and ran around on the planet. I can highly recommend the AMNH to EVERYBODY! Kids will love it, you will see tons of dinosaur skeletons, you will learn a lot and I promise- it will not get boring!

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Kale, Salad, Quinoa, Falafel, Avocado and more!

In the evening, before heading back to Long Island, we went to Apple Bee’s. Unfortunately we were not really into their menu and therefore went to another little salad bar/deli and got some nice salad quinoa falafel bowls. It was delicious but I sadly forgot the name of the place…For desert we went to M&Ms world and got our personal M&M colour analysed. I am green! It was a fun experience but I do not recommend buying M&Ms there, it is unbelievably expensive!

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Good night New York City!

I definitely enjoyed my last weekend in Manhattan. Now there is only one activity in NYC left that I have not already talked about- so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!
xx, Sophie

Afternoon in Amsterdam

Hello everybody,

before we get into my little Amsterdam experience, I just want to draw your attention to my new domain. Unfortunately, someone managed to use my old domain and I had to switch to http://www.aperture-wanderlust.com – I just wanted to let you know! Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Alrighty, in June 2018 my friend and I decided to go on a road trip to Belgium and the Netherlands. On our way back to Germany we decided spend an afternoon in Amsterdam. Since it was a quite spontaneous-low budget-trip, we did not plan to stay over night and parked in a P&R parking area for only a couple of euros. The parking fee also included the ticket for public transport. From there we just took a tram to the main train station in Amsterdam.

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To be honest, I definitely need to go back because even though we have seen and admired the pretty buildings, streets and channels, we have not been to a single museum and I cannot really give you any tips or recommendations besides from just strolling around and enjoying the beauty of the city.

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However, what I really love about Amsterdam is how friendly and open people are. People talked to us on the streets, complimented us from their bikes and the atmosphere in general was really nice. As you can see, I took many pictures of the facades and channels, of course we could not miss taking some pictures of ourselves 🙂

Amsterdam06-18-9

Amsterdam06-18-15

Amsterdam06-18-7

Amsterdam06-18-16

We finished our little side trip to this gorgeous city with some good old pasta in a nice, little restaurant. I will definitely come back!

Do you have any recommendations for my next Amsterdam trip?

Thanks for reading!
Sophie