Through The Lens: Bruges Impressions #1

Bruges (Flemish: Brugge; German: Brügge) is a beautiful city in Belgium near the dutch border. Its historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this beautiful city is home to almost 120K people. This post is more about the pictures, which is why I decided to choose the title „Through The Lens“. My friend and I only spend two hours in Bruges but we loved wandering through the beautiful streets and enjoyed the architecture of the buildings.

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The Markt (the market square)

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Belfry of Bruges on Market Square (The highest building in Bruges!)

Ending this post with „Thanks for reading“ is not really appropriate I guess – therefore: Thanks for having a look at my Bruges-Photographs, I hope you enjoyed them!
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?

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 🙂

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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

Grand Central Station and the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Weekend off in NYC #2.2

Welcome back to New York City, it’s been waiting for you!

Today I will be sharing with you some pictures of the Grand Central Station/Terminal, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We decided to dedicate one weekend to different Museums in NYC and that day we went to the MET and also visited Grand Central Station.

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I guess all Germans out there will understand that I was pretty excited when I found a real bakery at Grand Central Station. Yes, they had real bread and great bread rolls that were not sweetened and did not taste like cake rather than like original bread. My friend and I bought ourselves a lunch and another bread roll with cream cheese for our „Abendbrot“ („Dinner“ in German, or if you want to translate it literally „Evening bread“). It  was  amazing !

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I really love the ceiling of Grand Central, it actually reminds me of the magic ceiling in Hogwarts…
Even though I’ve already been to Grand Central in 2015, I didn’t know that there is an apple store up the stairs. My friend unfortunately, crashed her iPhone screen the other day and bought a phone case at the store, but as far as I can remember, you really pay the price for the location.

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On our way to the Whispering gallery

Also- did you know that the Grand Central Terminal has a „Whispering gallery“ in front of the „Oyster Bar“ Restaurant? If you are directly facing one of the four corners of the gallery, you can speak to you friend who is facing another corner, even though you are meters apart from each other.

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Additionally, I just found out that there is a tennis club on the fourth floor, isn’t that crazy? However, this attraction is not really a low budget activity as far as I’ve heard…
Last but not least, did you know that as one of the largest railway stations in the world, Grand Central Terminal is actually radioactive? And that because of its granite walls the radiation levels produced by the station exceed the radiation levels that are allowed in a nuclear power plant?

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In the afternoon we decided to stroll through Central Park and then headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The MET is the largest Art museum in the United States of America and it’s located on the Upper East Side, on the edge of Central Park.
At first I was really worried about the queue in front of the building but as far as I can remember we did not have to wait longer than fifteen minutes.

Correction: I confused the ticket price with the tickets in the AMNH – we paid $12.00 for a student ticket.

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Anyway, the current exhibition in summer 2018 was „Heavenly Bodies – Fashion and the catholic imagination“ and it was breathtaking.

The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition—at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters—features a dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism.

Looking at all these stunning robes or rather at these artworks, accompanied by impressive, classical music, created such a majestic and powerful atmosphere. It was simply amazing.

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At that time there was also an impressionism/naturalism exhibition „Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence“including art pieces by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet. Impressionism (19th century) is one of my favourite eras and art movements in the history of art. The MET has so many great exhibitions and if you are at least a little interested in art, you will love it. And if not, you could still enjoy the view on the Manhattan skyline and Central Park from the roof terrace on top of the building.
I will definitely come back if I get the chance to!

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Have you ever been to NYC and did you go to the MET? If yes- how did you like it?
I wish you all a great week!

Sophie

Quick Update: Camp and New York City

Hello everybody,

I hope you are enjoying your summer at the moment and that the weather is good. In Long Island the weather great, even though it gets quite humid here and we sometimes have a 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) which is a lot when you are running around the whole day and do activities with the kids.

My third week in the United States has just begun (this blogpost will probably be published a bit later) and it is great so far. We had orientation for one week and the campers arrived the second week. We are a small camp in comparison to other camps in the United States, some of them have up to 7000 campers each summer. During orientation we prepared everything for the campers, for example we planned activities, games and different sessions, but we also had First Aid and CPR lessons. Additionally, we talked a lot about child behaviour and how to cope with difficulty situations, trust me – there will be difficult situations. It might depend in what kind of camp you are, just be prepared.

However, I can already tell that working with kids is an amazingly rewarding experience. One moment you think you are too strict and then suddenly they hug you, or draw you something and tell you that you are their favourite councellor. At the moment I feel like I am in a bubble because I don’t really feel like I am on earth right now. I am somewhere else, a save place that only exists to create great summer memories. It is amazing.

Yes, I am also exhausted sometimes. Coping with difficulties is sometimes really hard and sometimes I worry that I am not good enough for this job. But this is fortunately not often the case and when it happens I try to turn my thoughts on standby and focus on the kids, I am responsible and I want them to have a great time. Camp is about the campers, they are the most important piece in this great puzzle and it’s amazing to see how they change during that time. Kids who are bullied in school suddenly smile and laugh a lot. Introverted children suddenly become the loudest. It is a great community and I get up every morning with a smile on my face and am excited for the new day.

However, we also have off weekends when one sessions ends and the other is about to begin. On those weekends people go visit other places, which we did on our first day off. We took a train to Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan and spend our day in NYC. I know it sounds so stupid but it felt like coming home. There is no city like New York City. People from all around the world walk on these streets, it is always busy and overwhelming. This day we ran around a lot and visited some tourist attractions and even went to a thrift store in Soho. It was great! We don’t really have nice thrift stores in my town but the ones I visited in Amsterdam, London and NYC were amazing! Our day off was nice 😊

However, something happened: my camera broke. After six years of picture taking, something in the body is not working, and nobody can tell me what it is. I will have to wait till I’m home and figure something out for my time in the states. It’s sad but it can happen. We will see…

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy my NYC iPhone pictures 😊

Have a good week!

Sophie

Bangkok, Thailand – experiencing a contrast

Bangkok, the capital of beautiful Thailand in the northern part of the country with 8.281 million residents (wikipedia). But can you imagine this city to be an empty, silent ghost town? I couldn’t, but I’ve experienced it.

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We left Bali on Wednesday the 25th of October 2017 and took a plane to Bangkok. At the airport in Denpasar I had my first Mac’n’Cheese and it was delicious, even though the idea of cooking pasta in milk and cheese does not flatter me.
After having arrived quite late in Thailand, we took a taxi to our hostel for 450 Bath.
The hostel was quite nice but the air in the dorms was not fresh at all but we didn’t care – it’s only a hostel and we were so excited to be in Bangkok!

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The next morning we decided to walk around and get some water and were really confused since the streets reminded us of a ghost town. We always expected BKK to be a bubbly and active city with lots of traffic jams, millions of people running around and street food everywhere. It was the opposite: no people on the streets, no cars, all Thai people dressed in black.
We went back to the hostel and the scells fell from our eyes: it was the anniversary of the death of the beloved King Bhumibol and the day of his funeral.
Walking around, a police officer even yelled at me because I took pictures of the streets… well I get it, it was a bit rude…

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However, we talked to a travel office and booked some flights and a night train to Chiang Mai. The next day we were supposed to leave in the evening and spend the day in the mall. The Siam malls are a big mall complex with different buildings and stores, those malls are amazing! There are so many different shops and all kinds of food – we had lunch at a backery 😄
We later went to the Lumphini Park, a big park in the heart of BKK were many people do sports during the day. The park itself was really beautiful, but again, no people around. Only a turtle on the pedestrian walk and monitor lizards in the pond instead of ducks.
In the evening we were happy to be able to finally take the night train to Chiang Mai, it felt inappropriate to be in a city where everyone grieved for a good king.

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– Three weeks later –

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The Grand Palace

At the end of our travels in Thailand, we returned to Bangkok in order to spend another day in the city and then fly to Australia. This time we booked a very cheap hostel at Khaosan Road, well it was the worst we had (besides the 16 bed dorm in Brisbane). But we weren’t surprised, I mean we paid 3,50€ per night which is cheaper than buying one kilogram of apples in Australia.

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Khaosan Road is an amazing street – very busy, many people, a lot of delicious street food stands and loads of cars and taxis driving around the neighborhood.
By the way, here are two tips for your BKK experience:

  • Someone told me that it is more secure to buy street food from women rather than from men. Women usually care more for hygiene which means that you can reduce the risk of getting sick
  • If you want to cross one of the busy roads in BKK, wait for a native to cross the street and simply follow him/her
  • If you want to take a taxi with a taximeter, make sure that you track where the driver is taking you because they often take a longer way round which will lead to higher costs for you. Also make sure to negotiate a fixed price when taking a Tuk Tuk or a usual taxi. Basically, everything under 100 Bath is totally fine.

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We spend the last 36 hours in Thailand exploring the (now bubbly) city and went to the Grand Palace and took a Tuk Tuk. Unfortunately, we failed to visit other temples, since I fell asleep in the taxi and the driver drove us to the other side of the city and there was no time left to visit Wat Pho 😐
The day we left Thailand was a total mess, we had booked a transfer to the wrong airport and consequently had to take a very slow bus to the other airport… nevertheless, we made it 😊!

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Hope you enjoyed reading!

Have a good day!
xx