stories of life & wanderlust

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Liebster Award

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A while back I wrote a post about the things that my first month of blogging taught me and one of the things I mentioned was that the most important part of it all is building connections with your fellow bloggers. And one great way to do that is by participating in fun tags, especially when other people graciously go out of their way to tag you.

Over the last couple of weeks (I can almost say months), I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by three wonderful ladies: Claire was the first one, Alyssa was the next one and Ashley just recently nominated me. Thank you all so much – I honestly appreciate it!

The rules are simply: You answer the questions that your fellow bloggers have asked you, you share 11 facts about yourself and then you nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers to do the same. Since there were more than thirty-three questions for me to answer, I took the liberty of choosing the ones that I had the most to say to – because ain’t nobody got time for reading thirty-three long-winded answers.

The Facts

I play the harp // I was a scout for all of my teenage years // The first thing I learned to cook was Lasagna // Italy is my culinary home // I’m half-German and half-Chinese // I dream of shoes and handbags that are unreasonably expensive // I used to be a Foreign Exchange Student in Canada // My favorite food item is a stunning burger // I know Latin // The country I have visited the most often is China // I strongly prefer American to German TV

The Questions – Answered

Claire

1. What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Way back in the day, I wanted to become a ballet dancer. I even took classes! Later I dreamt of owning my own horse farm. Looking back now makes me realize just how much of a typical girl I was! Shortly before starting Secondary School, though, I also became interested in becoming a judge. My dreams of dancing and horse-back riding may not have worked out, but considering I’m studying law now, the chances of me becoming a judge one day are still tangible.

2. What’s the best blog post you’ve read this week?

This is difficult – I read so many great blogs that continue to produce the best content ever. One post that really stayed with me this week, though, was a post on the Truths of Living as a Professional Travel Blogger by AdventurousKate. She writes one of the best and most successful travel blogs out on the interwebs and her words were really touching and eye-opening.

3. What’s the best Youtube Video you’ve found?

Impossible to answer. I’m subscribed to around 100 awesome people on Youtube and actually watch almost all of the videos they post. One great one this week is this ‘Getting ready’ –video by Evelina: Stunning cinematography!

4. What is/was your favorite video game?

I’m not going to lie: I’m not a gamer. But while I was an Exchange Student in Canada, I had a love affair with playing ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age’ on PS2. I’ve played a bit of Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim with my boyfriend, though, and thought that was fun, but I will probably never be really into the Gaming world.

5. What one thing do you do to brighten your day?

Go work out. I don’t really love working out, but it never fails to get my endorphins running.

Alyssa

1. What time do you usually go to bed and wake up?

I go to bed way to late (after midnight is usual…), but my wake up time really depends on the time I have to be at the university. It’s usually some time between 7 and 9 o’clock in the morning, though.

2. What’s your favorite flower?

I love roses in all shapes and forms, but pink ones probably the most.

3. How do you relax?

I tell myself to let go of all my responsibilities and just enjoy a day of doing nothing. In other words, this never happens.

4. If you could never be on land again… would you rather swim in the seas or fly in the skies?

Definitely fly in the skies. I might not be able to stand on ground, but at least I would be able to fly to virtually every point in the world. If I was swimming in the sea, there would be so many places I could never lay eyes on again.

5. Do you have a recurring dream?

Not that I know. I rarely ever remember my dreams, but they are usually all over the place.

Ashley

1. What is your ultimate vacation destination?

This changes constantly. However, I do have three countries on top that are constantly rotating: New Zealand, South Africa and French Polynesia. Three places of stunning beauty and two of them about as far away from my current location as possible. Hopefully, I will be making these dreams a reality within the next ten years.

2. How would you describe your blog?

Melanie Fontaine is a lifestyle blog with a strong emphasis on travel and photography. I plan to get more into food blogging in the future, though, since that is a big passion of mine as well.

3. Where is your favorite place to shop?

Confession: I strongly dislike shopping. I just don’t see the appeal of strutting through stores overflowing with people on a Saturday afternoon. I do, however, love online window-shopping and my favorite place for that is ‘Net-a-Porter’. Looking at the shoe section always makes me wild with envy!

4. What is your favorite movie and why?

My favorite movie is hands down ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I love everything about it: The characters, the stunning landscapes, the epic battles. I also love the original books – they’re masterpieces of literature that invite you to dream up your own adventures.

5. What is the best dessert you ever ate?

While I do love to go out to eat, dessert is not usually one of the things I order, though I have a huge sweet tooth. However, I do love to bake at home and one of my favorite things to prepare (and eat, of course) are Cinnamon Rolls. If I’m in a hurry, I love to bake simple Pound Cake, an abbreviated version of which you can find here.

 

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Since this is an age-old tag, all the people I intended to tag have already been tagged by other people and even written about it before I got to it. Therefore: If you haven’t been tagged, but are interested in answering some of these questions, please go ahead and consider yourself tagged! :)

 

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Snapshots from Oslo

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Hey there,

is there anybody who still remembers who I am? If that’s not the case then I’m not really surprised,  because I almost completely disappeared from the blogging scene over the last month. I am finally settled in Norway now, though, and you can expect a lot of exciting posts over the next couple of weeks because I am going to start recapping my recent Norwegian travels (aka the reason I was never online) today! The last month has been filled to the brink with life in all its forms: Norway is a ridiculously stunning country which made travel a pleasure, but at the same time I also struggled because moving abroad proved harder on my emotions than I expected. It was a month of emotional ups and downs and while this rollercoaster of feelings still hasn’t ceased, I can slowly feel myself adjusting to expat life.

The first Norwegian stop of our Itinerary was Oslo, the capitol of Norway. And to be honest, I didn’t go with the highest expectations. Prior to arriving, I hadn’t heard a whole lot about this city, but many people seemed to agree that it wasn’t a very exciting city. Now, Oslo really isn’t the hub of the world – but it is also not the giant village it is sometimes made out to be. Compared to other big Norwegian cities, Oslo has a very distinct character: It’s Norway’s most urban and grand city and when you’re visiting there’s no doubt that you’re in the capitol and therefore the centre of the country.

It’s not my favorite Norwegian city (you will have to wait to find out which city is!) and I wouldn’t put it on a ‘Must-Visit’-List for your first trip to Europe, but if you’re passing this city on your travels to Norway, it would be a shame to just use it as a transit place.

 

Karl Johans Gate

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The Karl Johans Gate is the heart and centre of the city. It goes all the way from the train station to the Royal Palace and after having traveled to the four biggest cities in Norway, I can safely say that this road is as close to a grand boulevard as you’re going to get in this country. The part of the road starting from the train station is completely reserved for pedestrians, so you don’t have to be afraid of being run over by a car while strolling from shop to shop. While walking along the street, you will pass the Storting, Norway’s parliament building (doesn’t it remind you of a medieval castle a bit?), and the obligatory Grand Hotel…

 

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… until you pass some beautiful buildings of the University of Oslo. The one above is the Faculty of Law – can I please study here? At this point, the street has been opened to cars and for a second you might not be so sure whether you’re in Norway or France. It’s only a few more meters until the Royal Palace, in front of which there is currently a construction site.

 

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Askerhus Fortress

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One of the sights of Oslo is Askerhus Fortress. Located right by the waterside, some of its parts are dating as far back as the 13th century. The interior is open to visitors and still used for official state banquets. Visiting Askerhus was a breath of fresh air for me as a castle veteran: I have visited many castles and palaces in Central Europe over the last couple of years and have come to notice that there’s a certain similarity between all of them because they’re all built in the same architectural style.

Askerhus is different, though, and that’s what makes it so interesting to visit. It has a bit of a rustic feel and is not nearly as grand as your average French palace, but there is something incredible humble (instead of decadent and over-the-top) that seems much more relatable.

 

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The Harbor

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My favorite part of Oslo (or any Norwegian town for that matter) was the harbor. There are fish restaurants, fancy yachts, expensive apartment buildings and a whole armada of sea gulls. All in all it’s a relaxed place, though, that is perfect for an evening stroll and I imagine the scenery is beautiful for a dinner occasion.

 

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The Nobel Prize Museum

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The building in the middle is the town hall of Oslo. Not going to lie, it sort of reminded me of a dystopian movie…

 

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Have you ever been really surprised by a place you have visited?

 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Photo of the Week 03

Remember how I said I was back online in my last post? Apparently that was a lie, because since then nothing has happened on this blog. My boyfriend has come over to Norway and we’ve been so busy exploring the Bergen area, that I just haven’t really found the time to updated my little space on the internet. I’m trying to be better, but I can’t really promise anything. Just know I will be back more regularly eventually!

We went to the islands situated before Bergen and went hiking in the area. The weather has been all over the place, ranging from extremely sunny to extremely rainy, but it has always been appropriate to what we have done and we really enjoyed getting to know my new home.

 

Photo A

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The view over Bergen from the Floyen

 

Photo B

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Terrace on the Floyen

 

Photo C

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Clamps on the Oygarden Archipelago

 

Photo D

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What’s your favorite picture?

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Norway Through Instagram

 

The good news first: I’m back online! After two weeks of traveling Norway and arriving at my final destination for the year to come, I finally have proper access to the Internet again and I can’t wait to share my latest adventures with you all. I have missed blogging a lot – I only now begin to realize just how much! I can’t wait to get back into posting regularly and interacting with you all and I’m sorry if I never answered your tweets/comments – I’m trying to do better again from now on. ;)

 

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Yachts in Oslo // Hiking in Jotunheimen // Sunshine in Trondheim // Incredible Nature on a ferry trip

 

I’ll start my travel recaps soon, but at first I wanted to share a little overview of our trip through Instagram. I love stalking everybody else’s lives on Instagram, but for some reason I never really got into sharing tons of pictures myself, usually because I simply forget. This time, I tried to remind myself of it, though, and I’m really happy I did. It’s a great way to stay connected while being on the road!

 

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 A view of the Trollstigen Road // Cruise ships in the Geirangerfjord // A view of the Geirangerfjord // Some unknown Fjord

 

 photo Instagram_3_zps4440dd69.jpg Roaming Sheep // The Stave church in Kaupanger // Naeroyfjord // Waiting for the ferry at the Sognefjord

 

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Trollstigen again // Seafood Platter // A view of Bergen

 

If you’re interested in seeing more pictures in the weeks to come, you can follow my Instagram account (@MelanieFangting) here.

 

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Linking up with Belinda and Bonnie for Travel Tuesday!

 

Found Love. Now What?

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Wishes #6 - Making a home



It’s been a while since I’ve last written a ‚Weekly Wishes‘ post because I was on the road traveling and making goals (or rather achieving them) aside from ‚Take lots of pretty pictures!‘ and ‘Enjoy your trip!’ didn’t seem too fruitful. But I’m back now and planning to do these regular again!

My goal for this week is to make a home for myself here in Norway. I’ve been here for two weeks now and so far it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. There have been a lot of highlights (Norway is a stunning country!), but also some substantial lowlights and I think it has to do with the fact that I still haven’t really come to terms with the fact that this is going to be my home for the next year.

When I went to Canada in 2008 and then later spent two summers in Paris, I never really felt like an outsider. My time in France was always so short that the end was in sight when I first arrived, so it wasn’t really an issue and in Canada I lived with a great host family that made me feel welcome from the very beginning. But this time, the situation is different and these emotions aren’t something I was expecting. I’m sure all you expats out there will know what I am talking about.

But back to the goal: I don’t want to feel like an outsider – I want Norway to become my home, if even just for a short period of time and I think it all starts with myself. My attitude hasn’t exactly been the best and I believe that keeps me from enjoying my time here to the max. Maybe I’m just being a Drama Queen right now and my mixed feelings about being an expat in a LDR will go away as time goes on, but I’d rather not take the chance. My goal is therefore to practice positive thinking everyday: When I find myself going down a negative road in my head, I will stop and direct my thoughts in a different direction, even if it’s just ‘Wow, I love these shoes!’ or ‘The sun is shining for once!’. Your thoughts can be your own worst enemies, but I’m prepared to fight them.

And to consider some more practical matters, I also want to make my place more homey. My friend Erika is doing the same in her current ‘Weekly Wishes’ series and I want to jump aboard that train. I already have some decoration, but it still lacks some personality and I would like to change that in the days/weeks to come. It’s a bit challenging since I won’t be able to take most decoration items back to Germany with me and don’t want to feel like I’m throwing away money. However, I believe that our surroundings greatly affect our mindset, so I want to make sure I feel at ease where I live.


What are your tips to making a home in a new place?
 

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Photo of the Week 02 – Trondheim & Fjord Norway

This week, I had such a hard time narrowing down which pictures to share – there were just so many that I felt were worthy of showing to you right now, but I restrained myself and tried to keep in mind that I would still be able to share them with you eventually. The comment favorite of last week was Photo C – which surprised me a bit, since I was absolutely in love with Photo B! Objectively speaking I probably would have chosen Photo C as well, but I have such fond memories of the day I took Photo B that it holds a special place in my heart.

Last week, we spent two days in Trondheim and then explored the area Norway is most famous for: The Fjords! I’m in awe every time I look at my pictures, because I really can’t believe I’ve been to all these places just last week, but photographs do a poor job of conveying the beauty of the Norwegian landscape. Fjord Norway is advertised with the slogan ‘You have to be here to believe it’ and it’s really true!

 

Photo A

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Photo B 

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Photo C

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Photo D

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What’s your favorite picture?

 

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our Scotland Itinerary Part II

 

Hello from Norway! I’m still traveling and finally at a point where I can safely say that the honeymoon with this country has started. I’m planning to start the coverage of my recent travels here soon (fingers crossed for the week-end), but until then I present you my last (really) post on traveling Scotland. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of ‘Our Scotland Itinerary’! :)

 

Day 8: Isle of Skye - Portree

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After our exhausting first day on the Isle of Skye, we took it a bit slower on the second and visited the picturesque seaside village of Portree. Portree is a gorgeous town complete with colorful harbour, lush surroundings and screeching seagulls and even the constant rain (to which we had sort of gotten used to at this point) couldn’t degrade its beauty. We went on a short walk around a nearby peninsula and spend the rest of the day recovering from our usual fast-paced travel.

 

Day 9:  Traveling from Skye to Glen Coe

Our ninth day in Scotland was largely spent traveling. We took the bus from Skye to Fort William and where we took the Cable Car up to a neighboring mountain of Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain) and walked around on top for a bit. The weather was horrendous and I took about two photographs the whole day, just because there wasn’t anything to see but clouds. It was a bit of a disappointment, but at least we left with a funny memory of Asian tourists on top of a cold, rainy mountain wearing shorts and flip-flops.

 

Day 10: Hiking in Glen Coe

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We woke up to a beautiful rainbow above Glen Coe, Scotland’s most famous valley and our destination for the day. It set the tone for the day, and man, was it a great one! We went hiking and while the path was often undefinable and sometimes down right dangerous, we had a great time. It was a rainy day again (anything new?), but we still had a good time. I still talk about this hike every time I’m going hiking somewhere, just because it was that exciting.

 

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Day 11: Discovering Loch Lomond

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Loch Lomond is simply beautiful! If I was living in Glasgow, I’d probably head there every single weekend, but at the very least every time the sun comes out. After a succession of rainy days, we were finally graced with sunshine. We went on a cruise across the lake, explored the tiny uninhabited Isle Inchcailloch and walked through a beautiful country park in Balloch. Utter bliss.

 

Day 12: Stirling Castle

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We finally headed back towards proper civilization (who needs that anyway) and visited Stirling for a couple of hours on the way to Edinburgh. Stirling is a picture-book perfect example for a town that is utterly Scottish. There’s an amazing castle, old cobblestone streets and just something in the air and that made me think ‘Yes, I am in Scotland!’.

 

Day 13 & 14: Exploring Edinburgh

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Our last two days in Scotland were completely devoted to exploring Edinburgh. Edinburgh is such an amazing and great city – I could so see myself living there! There’s culture, beautiful architecture, shopping, history and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the city is located in one of the most gorgeous countries imaginable. I was enjoying the moment so much that I barely gave any thought to taking photographs and while the photographer in me is looking angry, the traveler is glad to have savored the time.

 

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I’m linking up with Belinda and Bonnie for Travel Tuesday.

 

Found Love. Now What?
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