I remember being at my Couchsurfing host Laura in Milan in preparation for my arrival to Berlin, a little shy of two years ago. She happened to be living between the two cities and kept yapping on about how free-spirited Berlin was. Specifically, she mentioned several times how wonderful it was that people were just naked in clubs like Berghain and Kitkat Berlin, having sex in public as casually as you’d sip on a Coors Light back where I’m from.
I remember thinking she was either completely off her rocker, or something decidedly weird or wrong was going down in Berlin.
I was a bit underwhelmed the first ever time I set foot in Berlin. I thought the city lacked in “WOW” factor and was sprawling too much and missing some form of a focal point. Some may beg to differ, but this was my first impression. But here’s the thing. Correlating my relationship to Berlin to a romantic one (and I think it very much is), since I have been doing a ton of dating since I’ve been here and come to see differences between exploding flamboyant things that crash and burn in seconds and slow burners that surprise you over time and make you grow fonder. Berlin is a total slow burner. It may not impress you immediately, but give it time and patience, and it’ll start to grow on you until you just can’t get enough of it and start seeing beauty at every corner.
Who hasn’t fallen prey of either totally over-packing and not wearing half of what they brought or, at the other end of the spectrum, feeling way too utilitarian and backpacker-ish for a fancy little city break? I have definitely done both. As a seasoned backpacker, I tend to fall in the latter category most of the time, but I do like to feel stylish when I’m city-hopping in trendy capitals. Do you think it’s possible to look sort of trendy-ish yet comfortable AND pack in a carry-on luggage? I like to think so! I’ve done a fair bit of city-hopping these past years (and there’s more ahead, stay tuned!), and this is my tried-and-tested packing list of the moment. I’m a pretty neutral-shade type of gal, and in this specific case, it makes sense to pack that way, because everything will fit together. Hurray for keeping it simple! Get packing!
I fell in love with being nude in public at vabali spa.
I know some of my German friends would roll their eyes at me for saying that Germans love themselves a bit of mixed gender nudity. But I think they totally do. If you’re not familiar with the Freikörperkultur, of FKK (free body culture), chances are you will after spending some time in Germany. And while some would simplify that the FKK movement was born as a form of resistance against the East German regime, nudism in Germany has its roots way further in history. After doing a little research, what stuck with me most is the use of nudity historically as a way for people to free themselves from the religious restriction that has taught people to be ashamed of their body, and from the industrial society. Without clothes, no-one is a factory slave, everyone is equal.
I’m vegan burger-obsessed as much as I’m a health nut. If there’s a burger on the menu, it’ll trump any organic carboardy bird food I’d usually go for. Burgers are the bomb! They’re cheap, filling, somewhat of a blank canvas for anyone’s imagination to go free, but (almost) always delicious whatever level of fanciness they’ve been dressed up or down into. And to say Berlin has its vegan burger game down pat is quite the understatement. Every burger joints ha a vegan option. Scratch that. Every restaurant has a burger option has a vegan burger option. Berlin has more burger spots than native Berliners and my ambition to document every single vegan burger option in the city was quickly shut down by the pace at which places open and close. So, as the Berlin vegan burger scene ebbs and flows as a goddamn annoying breathing thing (come back, Dandy Diner!), this guide is getting updated with latest discoveries and classics not to be missed.
Berlin is an incredible place to live, but just like any other totally happening city, there are times when you just need to get away and recharge. We all need a break, and a change of scenery once in a while a great way to find new inspiration. We come back full of energy and ready to take on the world — but not everyone has the time to go on indulgent getaways. Often, though, a day trip is sufficient to give you that much-needed boost, and if you’re living in Berlin there are great destinations not so far away that are just waiting to be explored. Below are my choices of top day trips from Berlin that you can add to your day-tripping list
Europe is a magnet for travelers from all over the world, and for vegans it’s fast becoming a succulent, meat-free meca. The same is also true for travelers and those on vacation who just want to eat healthier, and do their bit for the environment and animal compassion. We don’t all have to tuck into blood-oozing steaks all the time, and you too can embark on a vegan travel odyssey as part of your exploration of the mighty continent of Europe.
The United Kingdom is a mesmerizing country with the rich tradition, beauty of nature, and temperate climate. Due to many reasons, the island nation is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. The government statistics show that almost 40 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2017. The numbers are going up year-after-year, and the country expects nearly 42 million people this year.
When more and more people choose to visit the country with great culture and fun options, it is good to know some destinations no visitors can miss in the country. If you are planning to visit the United Kingdom in the future, you should not miss the following list of places or activities.
The past few weeks have been rather busy, and I’m beginning to crave some serious time-off. While I truly love my job as a travel writer and photographer, it is not always as laid back as many people think. Everything requires careful planning, and some days can be quite stressful – especially when travel plans change in the last minute. In busy periods like this, I sometimes enjoy to just let my imagination roam free for a while, as I dream myself away. Right now, I long for deep relaxation, lavish treatments for body and soul, and beautiful environments in a warm climate – so I started planning a luxury retreat to Tenerife!
The Two Vegans One Country Train stopped in Hamburg!
Much like Leipzig, Hamburg came as a pleasant surprise, with chilled vibes all around and throngs of alternative, cool and independent shops and cafés. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s located not so far from Berlin, but I found Hamburg to be a bit similar in some ways — be it in the cool nature of the stylish locals or the general overall diversity. As such, the German port city obviously had several vegan restaurants for us to sample, and, what the hell, a fully vegan bed and breakfast! So without further ado, I’d like to present you a short list of all the delicious vegan food we sampled in Hamburg. I know we’ve missed a few, but I’m hoping to go back soon and update this guide. Recommendations warmly welcome!
Planning a trip to Spain? Great choice, but where to go?! This perfect road trip takes you down along the Spanish East Coast. Starting in Barcelona, a beautiful city with lots of diversity. But that’s not the only city you have to see… Ready? Buckle up and let’s go!
Start in Barcelona
The number one place to visit is (of course) the Sagrada Familia, the holy cathedral by Antoni Gaudi. The building isn’t finished but it will be in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of his death. Also the famous Parc Guell is worth the visit. Gingerbread houses, a magic lizard and mosaic benches are some of the Park Guell’s architectural flourishes. This is also Gaudi’s incredible work.
Iceland has boomed recently as a top travel destination. More and more airlines are offering affordable flights to this beautiful country, and it’s no wonder it has been gaining so much notice! With stunning views that look like something out of a sci-fi movie and a charming culture, you’ll want to add Iceland to your bucket list ASAP! While Iceland looks picture perfect in the snapshots by your favorite Instagram travelers, there are some things you need to know before jetting off to this unforgettable place. And while hotsprings in Iceland were my favorite thing ever, there is so much more Iceland has to offer. Read on for my tips!
Frankfurt is one of those places I assumed I’d hate before visiting. Ahh, don’t I love to be proven wrong about my expectations! The reality is that I really liked Frankfurt. A lot. For its eclectic mix of old and new, for how unapologetically rough around the edge it remains despite being the financial center of Germany, and for the beautiful nature that still surrounds the city. I loved Frankfurt for its coffee culture. But also, for the great selection of vegan food we discovered!
Two Vegans One Country stopped in Munich to discover what the city has to offer!
There’s so much more to Munich than Oktoberfest. Sure, the Bavarian capital can be the scene of lederhosen-clad drunken Weisswürste fest. But open your eyes wide and you’ll discover an amazing health and vegan scene, gorgeous boutique hotels, and — what the hell — river surfing right in the city center. There’s definitely more than meets the eye in Munich and Randi and I set up to explore what lies beneath the Schweinsbraten. Wunderbar.
If you loved Berlin for all its disheveled and raw charm and have been told countless times “this ain’t the real Germany”, consider yourself in luck, as there is another little slice of imperfect paradise waiting to be discovered less than 200km away! Leipzig is neither the Germany these people are referring to — and you will love it. In fact, if you are not a big fan of big bustling cities, you may love Leipzig even more than Berlin.
It’s taken me the best of the last two years to wrap my head around all the vegan options in the city and I’m excited to finally present you the best of everything. Just for you guys, I’ve eaten my way around the finest vegan kebabs, burgers, donuts, cakes… in fact, just pick your favorite food. I’ve probably eaten it in Berlin. The problem with spending two years trying to eat all the vegan food is that it’s such a vibrant scene, it’s constantly expanding. I keep thinking I’ve eaten everywhere, then overnight another five incredible vegan places appear.
Guys! I’m very excited to unveil a project that has been in the making for some time now. I’ve been working loads behind the scene between Berlin and Prague since the Summer to get this baby on the road, and I can finally spill the beans. And let’s hope there will be a lot of beans! Next month, my friend and fellow vegan travel blogger Randi, from the travel websites Just a Pack and Veggie Visa and I are joining forces to discover the German vegan food scene beyond Berlin (well, also in Berlin!)
One of the most exciting things about being in a couple is experiencing new adventures together. There are so many exciting things that you can explore in the world. Here are six exciting adventures for active couples.
Explore Fiji in a Kayak
Fiji is located in the South Pacific and a visit to the coast is perfect for adventurous couples. If you have never tried kayaking before you can learn the basics in a day of instruction. There are several beautiful places to explore like the volcanic Yasawa Islands and the Sawa-i-lau caves.
London is an amazing city in the UK and one of the greatest things about it is how easy it is to explore other countries without investing a lot of time travelling. Leave the car behind, hop on plane and you can be at an exciting, exotic destination in just a few short hours.
Ireland is a beautiful country with lush rolling hills, historical monuments, fortresses, beautiful rock formations, and exciting cities and towns to explore. You can stay in a castle for the weekend and explore by car or join guided tours. Be sure to head to Blarney Castle where you can kiss the famous Blarney Stone.
Early last month, I was mandated by the lovely Inma of A World to Travel to go and explore a “destination in progress” with Destination Makers and eight other bloggers. Italy is a country I absolutely adore (this was my sixth time visiting!), so I didn’t hesitate one second, as I had never been this far south towards the heel of the boot. The destination in question was Margherita di Savoia in Puglia, a rural town on the coast of the Adriatic that boasts the largest salt flats in Europe (and the second biggest in the world). It is located 75 km north of Bari, so you would likely be passing by if you were on a cross-country road trip or a bike trip. And I’m here to tell you: stop over, there’s amazing stuff to see!
When I started researching options for where to eat vegan food in Reykjavik, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from a nation that eats puffin, shark and whale. But there is nothing I love more than being proven wrong about something, and Reykjavik emerged quickly as one of the most vegan-friendly places I have ever traveled to. For such a small capital, Reykjavik boasts more vegan-friendly restaurant options that I could visit in 10 days and the options were as diverse as they are exciting. Here are my picks. I would love to know if I missed anything, so please let me know!
Bucharest was just too cool. I came here with zero expectations and left with an immense desire to come back literally two days later to see and absorb more of this country I knew little about. Bucharest mesmerized me beyond words with its unthinkable history, warmest people and hippest hidden gems of all sorts. I got so busy exploring the smaller unknown nooks and crannies that I forgot the bigger picture – I didn’t even see the Palace of Parliament – the second largest building in the world and an abomination of Ceauşescu’s rule. Just, what exactly is wrong with me?
Bucharest is not vegan-friendly at first glance. I’ve seen more animals grilling on a rod in my short time there than I thought was possible in a lifetime. But whenever I wasn’t able to make my own way to some of the vegan restaurants scattered across town, for every something impaled on a stick, there was always an assortment of delicious dips (something that resembles baba ganoush, trust me when I say fill your boots with this stuff!) and pickles to eat alongside bread. That’ll do.
From architectural feats to ancient landmarks, there are many icons that are worth seeing in Europe, including those that you can explore for free. If you are planning a vacation soon, below are some landmarks that you should include in your Europe itinerary.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa
This campanile or bell tower was constructed in 1173, but it was not immediately finished because of the disruptions, including war and debt. This 55-meter tower was constructed on soft ground, which is why it started leaning just as soon as the construction reached the third level. It is said that the tower leans at about one to two millimeters annually.Here are some top tips for a day trip to The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Holiday destinations acquire stereotypes, just like the travelers who go there become known for their nationalities… and the stereotypes that go with those. There are also the standard things you do in every destination. You go to India to do a Yoga teacher training, to Iceland to see the Blue Lagoon, to Turkey to go to a Hamman and get butt naked… you get the idea.
If you’ve been reading my articles about spas around the world, you might have noticed an emerging pattern. If you haven’t — newsflash: I seem to have taken a liking to getting buck naked in public. I mean, who doesn’t? Right? Righhhhhhttttt? Anyone? Well, ok, fine. Today, for a change, let me tell you about this one time in Iceland when I did not get naked at the spa. It does happen, sometimes.
A lot of you wander here in search of vegan and long haul travel advice. But some of you (the ones who stick around and support me, I love you all so much!) have a genuine interest in me as a person and how my inner journey unfolds. I owe you a bit of an update… So it’s been six months – SIX! That’s the longest I have stayed anywhere in three years – since I arrived in Berlin from Milan. Obviously, the pace has been very different from the constant backpacking or bicycle touring you’ve known me to do, and the current state of the blog is a reflection of that – I feel like I have nothing exciting for you to bite into. It’s hard for me to share what I am up to for various reasons, and I have been postponing it up until now.
I had the immense pleasure to buddy up with TripCreator recently for an amazing trip to Iceland with my mom which you can read more about here, here, here and here. An extended layover in Iceland en route from America to Europe is a brilliant idea, as it is pretty much smack in the middle and it is honestly one of the most fascinating countries I have ever been too. Icelandair understood that and is now offering up to a seven-day layover at no additional cost on many trans-Atlantic routes. Hopefully this short clip will give you a little taste of all the magic there is to be found in Iceland and you’ll make it your next destination! 🙂
I can’t really begin to explain how cool Reykjavik is. The northernmost capital of the world feels more like a small colourful village plopped against the stunning backdrop of Faxa Bay and the snow-capped mountains, where hip people strut and stop at even hipper cafes. Naturally, hip hotels and hostels abound in this design-forward city, and I found myself staying at the Scandi-Chic hostel-cum-hotel Hlemmur Square for a few days last month.
An extended layover in Iceland en route from America to Europe is a brilliant idea, as it is pretty much smack in the middle and it is honestly one of the most fascinating countries I have ever been too. Icelandair understood that and is now offering up to a seven-day layover at no additional cost on many trans-Atlantic routes. Once you’re in Iceland, because of the poor public transport system outside of Reykjavik, there are two ways to explore the rest of the country: either by A – joining a group tour (and you may have read that it isn’t exactly my thing…) or B – by renting a car. When I partnered with TripCreator on this trip, I was informed that the latter was the plan, and I did have a brief moment of panic because… I do not know how to drive! Thankfully, the funny and wild woman that is my mother volunteered herself to be my personal driver, so we were all set to go! Yay!
Do you sometimes think you’re a little too cool for organized tours, yet you’re often feeling too lazy to go through the hassle of researching your next travel destination and wished someone would just do it for you? C’mon, just admit it, we’ve all had those thoughts. Ha, I’m kidding! Kinda… Tour groups can be a great way to travel, especially if you are a solo traveler, but what I want to talk about today is a fantastic new way to have your itinerary all sorted and activities cherry-picked for you while retaining all the freedom of independent travel. Sounds too good to be true? Planning a trip to Europe soon or maybe you’re just a master-procrastinator and want to do a bit of daydreaming? Enter the award-winning trip-planning platform TripCreator.
I recently posted a “what’s in my camera bag” update where I discussed this little GoPro gadget that has completely changed the way my footage looks and I’ve been asked tons of questions about it. The Zhiyun GoPro Gimbal is a very portable (thus very traveler-friendly!) three-axis motorized stabilizer – unlike a traditional Steadicam that works with counterbalance weights and is super bulky and annoying to carry, not to mention difficult to learn how to use properly. I was really keen to put it to use, so I took advantage of my trip to Northern Italy to film as much as I could and I put together this little video! Can you see how much smoother the panning and moving shots are? Handheld footage can be very shaky and ruin videos, no matter how high resolution your camera is, so to me this is a wonderful investment that will make a world of difference in the overall quality of your footage. I find this specific gimbal great because you can attach it to different mounts, unlike most of the other ones out that that are fixed to a pole. I’m looking forward to do some bike footage!
This post has been a long time coming because I still to this day cannot find the right words for it. My original thought was to offer some kind of guide to the places I went, what I ate, what I packed, how I paced myself and so forth. But for some reason, it feels pointless. Besides, during the month and a half that I cycled the 3,000km from Istanbul to Milan, I fully disconnected from any form of online activity, from updating my social media to gathering facts for the greater good of blogging. I was too busy taking in whatever the hell I was putting myself through, absorbing what was thrown at me, the brutal climate change after nearly two years in the heat of South East Asia and physically trying to keep up with a four-year veteran cyclist. Here are a few thoughts I gathered nevertheless.
Bologna is a charming overlooked gem amongst hotshot destinations like Rome, Venice and Florence (but don’t get me wrong, I love these cities, especially Florence! Wondering what to do in Florence?) and I fell in love with it the second I stepped foot into its narrow, glistening cobblestone streets. The porticos covering the majority of the walkways within the old city make it the perfect place to explore in any weather and the edgy vibe from the large student crowd, alternative culture, progressive left-wing politics and excellent food make it the ideal place for those in search of more off-the-beaten path tourism. And no, Bologna doesn’t equal mortadella. Here are a few things I got up to, but there are so many more things to do in Bologna.
Parma is mostly known for ham and parmesan which, as you might have guessed, aren’t exactly my cup of tea. To be perfectly frank, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Parma, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. And what better feeling is there than discovering activities, sights and food that are all in line with who you are and what you love! Parma turned out to be an unexpected little haven of health and vegan food – the art part obviously didn’t come as a surprise, but contributed to a lovely getaway I can’t recommend enough. Here is what I got up to.
I arrived in Italy straight from a hectic holiday in New York City and couldn’t have dreamed of a better place to start my trip than in Parma. A city rich in history, culinary wonders and culture, Parma is also a quaint and gorgeous place to unwind, cure a jetlag while roaming the romantic streets aimlessly, stopping in cafes at random for apero and indulge in a little dolce far niente for a day or two. It’s also home to the gorgeous and relaxing B&B Al Battistero d’Oro where I had the pleasure to stay in the first three days of my Italian holiday.
Run-of-the-mill chain hotels and organized tour groups aren’t so much my cup of tea. As an independent people-person type of traveler who loves supporting small family-owned businesses instead of large impersonal corporations, getting off the beaten tourist path and meeting with locals wherever I go, peer-to-peer platforms such as AirBnB, Couchsurfing, Bla Bla Car or Warmshowers have always been some of my favorite alternative ways of traveling. What’s better than to discover a new place in the company of a local who knows the lowdown much better than a plain old book, takes you to all the magical yet unknown locations and is just so happy to help you discover their home town? One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting with locals and seeing “normal life” through their eyes in the places I visit.
I read so many Turkish hammam horror stories online from other travel bloggers that my curiosity got sufficiently piqued: I just had to volunteer myself on the naked altar of the body scrub sacrifice for the greater good of this blog (I know, tough…) – a rather painful and awkward experience by many if not all accounts. Tales of buck-naked merciless scrubs in crowded rooms, with nude masseuses getting to second base with prude North Americans had me sort of worried as I stepped inside Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamami in Istanbul, not really knowing if the tales were true. Thankfully, I quickly learned that the Turkish hammam experience can be a blissful, relaxing and absolutely beautiful one. Without further ado, here’s how I found myself naked as a jaybird with a bunch of other women from all over the world in the center of Istanbul.
I walked – nearly cycled right into, to be more precise – the Banker Han Hotel looking rather scruffy, dirty and disheveled (my usual self since converting to bicycle touring really!), half worried that I was going to get the “eye” for showing up all hobo-like in this very trendy new hotel in Istanbul. Instead of that, the staff came right outside to welcome me and it wasn’t ten seconds before I was handed a cup of tea and offered a seat at the reception with the staff who kindly asked about my travel. Some places are just so cool and hip and welcoming and perfect, and Banker Han by the Sofa is absolutely one of those gems.
– Teşekkür Ederim, he says to me.
– … Techek ….huh? I reply with a foggy mind, having not slept for the greater part of the last two days as I commuted between Bangkok and Istanbul via Oslo.
– Just remember this: tea, sugar and a dream. Teşekkür Ederim. That’s “thank you” in Turkish.
And indeed that’s pretty much what I will remember of Istanbul. Cup after cup of “çay”, Turkish delight by the bucketful and a dreamy city filled with wonders (and people, lots and lots of them!) – a transcontinental city that is the confluence of East and West and a place I wished I’d had more than a week to visit. I kept busy exploring and admiring everything I could lay my eyes on during my short stay and wanted to share with you what I discovered.
Istanbul is a wonderful but hectic city and I arrived straight from Bangkok after a 40 hour commute, already frazzled by the pulse of the Big Mango. I was looking for a bit of a retreat on my first few days, a place where I could lay my head in peace while curing my jetlag. I found just that and much more at the beautiful Sumahan on the Water, a boutique hotel located on the greener, maybe less visited Anatolian side of the Bosphorus, the less harried and quieter Asian shore of Istanbul. It truly was the perfect introduction to this vibrant city.
One year ago today, on January 1st 2014 at 8am, we locked the door of our flat in Montreal for the last time, leaving behind an empty shell of what was our life of the previous seven years, and dropped the key through the mail slot. As it resonated loudly in the dark empty box, I felt an excitingly familiar feeling in my stomach: we were homeless, the unknown awaited us. It was amazing to ring in the New Year in such a drastic, life changing, exciting way, and the feeling hasn’t left me since.
We had a wonderfully relaxing two weeks in England catching up with friends and family. A bit of a holiday from the holiday really! We spent the first four days at a couple of friends’ flat in North London who were gracious enough to let us use their sofa bed. We (and by “we” I mostly mean Richard…) paid them back by cooking them some food at night and taking them out to Wagamama on our last night. I have to say that I could very much see ourselves returning to the UK and living in London in a near future and it was great experiencing life there from an apartment rather than an hotel room. Thanks Tara and Will! We love you!
Montreal is gorgeous and warm today, just as it has been all week, so I was out of bed rather early this morning for a wonderful 10K run around the Lachine Canal and the Westmount neighborhood, quite the perfect way to start a weekend indeed!
I wanted to share with you the third and final part of my trip to Italy, from when Richard came to meet me. We traveled from Rome to Naples (which we found completely awesome against all odds!), Ischia (where we stayed at the very fancy Terme Aragona Palace Spa and had our epidermis scrubbed and whipped into shape like nobody’s business!), Capri and Sorrento (where we stayed at the even fancier Grand Hotel Capodimonte. This vacation really made me feel like a princess ;). As you can see, it was all about food! I’m thinking about going vegan after this cheese overdose!
Well it seems I’m back sooner than I thought due to very crap weather and me being bedridden because of a rather painful gum graft surgery recovery. So I thought I would update you with some more photos from my recent trip to Italy while my cheek de-puffs (jeepers, I can’t believe I have been back for 2 weeks already!).
I was in Acquapendente in the Lazio region for a month long drawing class with university, after which Richard came to meet me for another week and we visited Rome, Naples, Ischia, Capri and Sorrento.
I spent the last six weeks in Italy, the first five for a drawing class with university and the last one travelling around with Richard. I am feeling impossibly rested and rather fat from all the cheese consumed. Here are some photos.