live slow, love nature, be adventurous

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Fairytale Forest Walk

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and me went on a forest walk in the hills of the Neckar Valley near Heidelberg. It was a grey weekend with unpredictable weather and the sky was covered with thick clouds, but the day had called for some fresh air and so a little nature escape was sorely needed.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What I Loved Most About Andalusia in 20 Pictures

Every time I return from a trip, I need a few weeks of reflection before I feel ready to start writing about the experience.

When we travel, we seem to experience life more intensely: Flavors become more pungent, colours shine more vibrantly and scents seem to linger in the air for longer. Our entire existence is amplified and we find ourselves so swept away by all the memorable destinations and remarkable encounters that it takes a little while to process everything once we’re back home and realize just how much has happened.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Last Day of October

& thoughts on blogging

October has come and gone and before we know it, the days will be even shorter, the trees even sparser and our coats even thicker. This year, I find myself looking forward to the cold times of the year much more than I ever have before. University has been really stressful lately and so it is good to see nature slow down its rhythm and to remember that everyone also needs to times of rest in order to flourish.

I went to my parents’ house this weekend and sneaked out in the morning for a little countryside walk. As tempting as it may be to hide away from the cold inside, there is nothing quite like rambling over fields to clear your head and to broaden your perspective again and so I find it all the more important to get some fresh air every once in a while and to cherish the little moments in life.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Adventures: The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

I've tried to avoid the cliche-ridden behaviour that is proclaiming a love for chunky knits, giant blanket scarves, steaming cups of tea and basically every other fall-related thing so far, but I can't help myself anymore and have to go all basic blogger on you: I love fall!

I love breathing the fresh and crisp morning air, seeing the leaves change color and wearing all my boots again, but what I may just enjoy the most is the food. I do love summer vegetables and the refreshing taste of really good ice cream, but now that October has come around, all I seem to crave is hearty stews, comforting soups and – you probably guessed it – pumpkin!


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Magnificent Duomo of Florence

When I say that you cannot possibly miss the Duomo in Florence, I’m not just trying to say that is the one sight that you should definitely visit when you’re in the city. What I’m really trying to convey, rather, is that it seems almost impossible to walk through the charming cobblestone streets of Florence and not spot this striking building when you look up to the sky.

The Duomo dominates the skyline and looms over the narrow alleys and broad square of the city like an imposing, yet magnificent giant and even majestic Renaissance palaces seem to be dwarfed by its shadow. Florence wouldn’t be Florence without the Duomo and so it only seems appropriate to dedicate an entire post to what may just be the most impressive cathedral I have ever seen in my life.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Day in the Black Forest: Swimming & Walking Around Schluchsee

I always find it awkward to break radio silence on my blog, but this time - after almost three weeks of barely even posting an Instagram snap - it feels especially hard. I just got back from my trip to Spain and Rome which was all sorts of fun, but obviously also all sorts of exhausting and it's going to take me at least another week or two to make sense of the thousands of pictures that I took. But hopefully I can start sharing them with you soon! In the meantime, though, I thought I'd go back in time to the summer in Germany.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Summer in Heidelberg: Life Lately

I'm sorry for just kind of, sort of dropping off the face of the earth for the last couple of weeks, but I have tried to resist the temptation of using my blog for procrastination and instead focused on finishing my paper, but now I am finally on my summer break from university and thought I’d show my creative space a little bit more love again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Memories of Shanghai

The first thing I laid eyes on when I got off the metro in Shanghai was the largest Uniqlo store that I had ever seen. The large red logo of the Japanese fashion brand was flashing brightly above the busy shopping street right in the middle of the French Concession and people and cars rushed by in a frenzy, carried by a sense of urgency.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Photo Diary: Freiburg, My Favorite Town in South Germany

A few weeks ago, S and me went to Freiburg for a long weekend to spend his birthday with his family. Since Freiburg is my boyfriend's hometown, I've had plenty of opportunities to visit over the years and over time the city has really become one of my favorite places in Germany. Freiburg is a student town in the far south of Germany with lots of character and I really love its bustling vibe that makes similar cities look kind of devoid of life.

Freiburg is only a short drive away from the borders of both France and Switzerland and many beautiful places in Germany which also makes it a great base to do some exploring. We especially love heading out to the Black Forest to do some hiking, but on our most recent visit we also made sure to spend some more time in the city and I decided to take you along with me with a little photo diary.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Summer Travel Plans

all pictures by Sarah from The Wanderblogger -  don't forget to follow her adventures on Instagram here!

I hope you have all had an awesome summer so far! It's been way too hot in Germany these past few weeks and so it’s been almost impossible for me to form any coherent thoughts worthy of a post, but after weeks – if not months! – of waiting for my schedule to become a bit clearer, I have finally made some travel plans for the upcoming months that make me absolutely giddy with excitement and I can't wait to share them with you all!

Friday, August 7, 2015

What I Ate in Florence, Italy

I am not going to lie: One of the main reasons I was excited to travel to Florence this June was the food. I can’t imagine living a life where bread and pasta aren’t regular occurrences and would probably rather go vegan than give up carbs, even if that means that I will never be a perfect Size Zero, and as such Italy is obviously my own personal food paradise.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Inspired by Thailand: My Take on Massaman Curry

I don’t know what’s going on with me lately, but at the moment I honestly feel like I could sleep for twenty hours a day! I blame it on the weird weather we’ve been having in Heidelberg – terribly stiffling heat that makes you want to hide away from the world – but now that looking out of the window finally shows grey skies again – this is no sarcasm, guys! – I can hopefully finally be productive again and share one of my recent favorite recipes with you!

My boyfriend and me absolutely love the taste of Thai cuisine because Thai food never ever tastes bland or boring and always strikes the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, sour and salty flavors which quite literally explode in your mouth. I had a lot of great dishes when I visited Thailand last summer and I also love going to Thai restaurants here in Europe, but since my boyfriend is a vegetarian and pretty much every Thai dish traditionally contains fish sauce, I also cook a lot of Thai food at home.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Meeting China's National Symbol at the Bifengxia Panda Base

If there was only one thing that I wanted to do while I was in Sichuan Province in China last summer, it was to see a Panda. In my mind, there was nothing that embodied China quite as much as the mighty Panda and while knocking things off bucket lists wasn’t usually something I paid a lot of attention to while traveling, I knew that setting sight on the most beloved Chinese symbol was one of those things I just had to do.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Few Happy Things: Foodie Edition!

For the last couple of months, I have used my Goals for... posts to keep you all updated on what I am actually doing (or, rather, trying to do!) in my everyday life, but I have grown a little bit bored of them lately and so I have decided to shake things up a little! Today, I am going to share a couple of things with you that have made me happy recently and while this is hardy an original type of post, I always love reading the happy lists that pop up in my Bloglovin feed and I am sure that my mind could really benefit from stopping to appreciate the little things every once in a while.

While writing, I realized that all the things in this post are actually in some way, shape or form related to food, but as a self-professed foodie that didn't exactly surprise me a bit - sometimes I think I might just love food more than travel!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Countryside Weekend

I hope you all had a great July so far! I know that June has been a bit slow and not all that exciting on the blog, but I promise that things will pick up again this month - if I manage to not pass out because of the heat, that is! Remember how I complained about not liking high temperatures in this post? Well, I probably shouldn't have said anything because Germany is currently experiencing a much crazier heatwave - we're talking temperatures around 39 °C (that's 102 °F!) here - and it really just makes me want to hide in the basement until the weather becomes more reasonable again. Oh, and did I mention that AC isn't really a thing in Germany?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Closer to the Gods at Emei Shan, China

It’s been over a year since I first set off for my seven-week Asia trip, but aside from the odd round up post here and there, I have barely written about the experience so far. How on earth did that happen?! I wish I could tell you it was because the experience was too sacred to be shared, too intimate to be written about, but the unglamorous truth is that I simply just haven't managed to get around to it yet.

But I’m determined to finally start filling you in on the summer of 2014 and maybe inspire you to head out for your own Asian adventure one day soon, but to be honest, I also just really want to relive this trip: This summer is setting out to be super busy, but unfortunately not with travel, but an important assignment for university and so I'm going to have to live vicariously through last year's adventures!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Impressions of Florence

I spent the first few days after returning from Florence in a haze. Florence had been so magical and so beautiful that I just wasn’t ready to face my regular world with its petty problems again and when I did finally return to the everyday, it felt like Italy was a lifetime away already. We did and saw so much over the four nights that we stayed in the capitol of Tuscany that I almost don’t know how to start writing about the experience and yet we barely only managed to scratch the surface of this endearing town.

Florence is a small city, but its incredible wealth and plethora of culturally and historically relevant places could easily fool you into believing the opposite and while we gave exploring Florence our all, we knew that there was still so much more to discover. When we left, my boyfriend and me both agreed that we easily could have spent the whole summer in Florence without getting bored and I am already looking forward to the day that I can visit Italy again.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Delft Blue: The Centre of Dutch Porcelain

On our way back to Germany from Amsterdam we stopped in the small town of Delft for a few hours to see the town's world-famous porcelain manufacture. I’m not sure I ever would have visited had it not been for my mother’s suggestion, but I’m definitely glad we made the detour: Since Delft is less than an hour away from Amsterdam and even closer to Den Haag and therefore makes for a great day-trip option for those who want to see a little bit more of the Netherlands than just the big cities and I loved learning more about the town's hottest commodity, Delft Blue porcelain.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Of River Islands & Dragon Stones

On the long weekend over Corpus Christi, my part of Germany was hit by a little bit of a heatwave and so I let my To-Do-List be and headed out into the sun instead. I'm not good at handling heat: High temperatures make me feel sluggish and lethargic and so there's always a certain temptation to just hide away at home until temperatures drop in the evening. But since that kind of behavior isn't exactly conductive to living an interesting life, I'm usually trying to ignore my natural inclinations and last weekend that meant heading out into the scorching sun for some outdoor activities.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hiking in the Black Forest, Germany: The Wutach Gorge

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days down in the far south of Germany and finally visited the Black Forest which left me wholeheartedly convinced that this is one of my new favorite places in Germany. The Black Forest is exactly the type of mythical forest that you would imagine while reading Grimms’ Fairytales and while it may be a bit out of the way from the standard Germany tourist routes, it is still absolutely worth a visit if you want to catch a glimpse of an area that is not only really beautiful, but also almost stereotypically German-looking.

I had been to Freiburg – a lovely university town on the fringes of the Black Forest – multiple times before, but when it came to venturing to the Black Forest, I wasn't quite sure where to start. The Black Forest isn’t just any good old forest, but also the largest mountain range in Germany and covers a good part of the state of Baden-Württemberg and as such there is no shortage of things to do and places to see. Should I check out the Feldberg, the region's highest mountain? Chill out by the shores of Titisee? The choices really seemed endless.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Goals for June

pictures via my Instagram page - find me @melaniefontaineblog!

How on earth can it be June already? Summer is around the corner already, my birthday is only another month away and it altogether just feels like time is running! Everything seems to have exploded in bloom in May and I have been loving seeing the hills around Heidelberg grow greener each passing day. Local strawberries are getting cheaper and sweeter each week, a vast array of different produce grows on the fields and the days are finally long again. I love every season for its own reasons, but I am always convinced that the season I'm currently in is the best one and so I cannot imagine how it could get any better than this spring.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Discovering Amsterdam: Beyond the Red Light District

What are the first two things that come to your mind when you think of Amsterdam? If it’s not drugs and prostitution then I’m proud of you because you certainly have a much more complete and accurate image of this Dutch city than I had for a very long time. Despite the fact that I had never met a single person that disliked the city, Amsterdam had never been particularly high on my travel bucket list: I figured that Amsterdam would be the kind of place that I would just happen to visit one day, but because I didn't really have any idea what there was to do except for seeing canals and going to coffee shops, I never went out of my way to make travel plans.

But over time, my perception of Amsterdam slowly started to change. Everyone seemed to love Amsterdam so much that I couldn't help, but feel intrigued to find out what it exactly it was that made people fall head over heels for this city and so when my parents suggested a little family getaway to the Netherlands just before Christmas, I was all for finally discovering the allure of Amsterdam.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Seasonal Overhaul & Backyard Exploring Along the Neckar

I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend! I took advantage of the occasion to finally give my blog a new facelift and I am so, so happy with the new look! I just felt like my last blog layout didn't really represent me and my blog anymore and so it was time for a change again. I toyed around with the idea of switching blogging platforms as well, but in the end decided that I'd rather save the money for hosting for something else and didn't feel like messing with Wordpress anyway and so I decided to stay on Blogger, at least for now. I hope you're enjoying the new look as much as I do!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend Scenes from Schloss Wolfsgarten, Frankfurt

It has become a bit of a tradition in my family to go on a little outing to the beautiful Schloss Wolfsgarten during the springtime. Schloss Wolfsgarten is a castle just south of Frankfurt and a former hunting lodge of the royal family of the state of Hesse and boasts one of the most stunning castle gardens I have ever laid eyes on. I have visited this place countless times before and even blogged about it once in the early days of my blog, but I always find myself wanting to come back again and again – it really is that special of a place.

Today, Schloss Wolfsgarten is owned by a foundation dedicated to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the former noble House of Hesse and the gardens are only open to the public three times a year: During the weekends of Ascension Day and Pentecost and during a garden exhibition in the fall. As a consequence, my visits tend to not be all that spontaneous, but are rather events that I find myself looking forward to weeks in advance. And this was especially the case this time around as my love for photography had really increased in the two years since my last visit and I was very excited to try to capture the beauty of Wolfsgarten with my newly acquired skills.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Most Beautiful Fjord in Norway: The Hardangerfjord

I basically haven't stopped raving about how beautiful the Norwegian countryside is since I first moved to Bergen, but I have been holding out on you - I haven't yet shared one of my favorite places in the country with you which also happens, at least in my humble opinion, to be the most beautiful fjord in Norway: The Hardangerfjord!

While I had stopped by the Hardangerfjord once on a road trip in the beginning of my stay in Norway, it wasn't until my very last week in the country that I finally made the trek there again. And despite the fact that I still had way too many pages to read for my upcoming exams, it was one of those perfect days that leave you so obnoxiously happy that you cannot help, but go to the bed with the biggest grin on your face. I really couldn't have chosen a better place to say goodbye to Norway!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day || Weekend Reading #6

Happy weekend everybody! After ringing in the weekend with an evening of grilling at the Neckarwiesen, I'm currently enjoying a relaxed weekend at my parents' place for Mother's Day. I'm very much looking forward to enjoying a little break, cooking in a proper kitchen and (maybe) catching up on photo editing before the hustle starts again on Monday, but until then I have got some great links to share with you again, because I have come across a lot of gems lately that I wouldn't want to keep from you!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Goals for May

Let's just pretend that I didn't make any goals in April, so I don't have to acknowledge just how much of an epic fail I was at trying to achieve them last month. There's only one word that can adequately describe my April and that's busy. I had a deadline for a paper this month that seriously kicked my butt and there were times when I got so anxious that I wouldn't be able to properly finish it that I spent so much time in the library that I didn’t even eat at home. I also had to give a presentation on the paper at the end of the month, which kept the stress going even after I had handed it in, but thankfully the whole thing turned out pretty well.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Playing Tourist in Heidelberg, Germany

I didn't have a particularly exciting Easter weekend. I spent most of it wholed up in my apartement, working on a university assignment and while everyone else was out enjoying the sun, my main source of entertainment came from occasionally taking a break to watch a bit of Suits. Luckily for me, though, Jen and her lovely roommate Josie did a little Germany road trip that weekend and stopped in Heidelberg for a few hours and so I obviously had to use the opportunity to hang out with my new blogging friend and show them around the city.


Friday, April 24, 2015

A Food Tour Through Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris

Confession: I'm not a tour person. Maybe I just have a fierce independent spirit that hates not being in charge or maybe I'm just an unsocial loner, but for some reason the idea of going on a tour while traveling doesn't really appeal to me. I like to choose where to go, what to look at and how much time to spend where - can you tell I'm an only child? Now, rationally speaking, I obviously do see the advantage of tours, especially if you're in a new and unfamiliar place with a language you don't understand, but perhaps I have just been on too many boring school trips as a child to be able to truly appreciate guided travel.

I know, I know: Does this post sound pretentious already?

But since travel is all about new experiences and letting go of comfort zones (yes, I know, signing up for a tour isn't exactly wrestling with snakes, but whatever), I have come to realize that I should probably give tours a go more often. After all, I know many people who have very amazing travel experiences this way that I frequently find myself marveling at online and so when Margo suggested joining a Food Tour while we were in Paris in March, I figured it was as good a time as any to start working on that travel resolution.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

10 Places To Visit in Norway

This post originally appeared as a guest post on The Overseas Escape, but since I currently have to devote all my time to just getting my freaking paper done, I figured it was about time I shared this on my blog as well! 

The ten months that I spent studying abroad in Norway were definitely some of the best of my life. I lost my heart to the stunning Norwegian landscape and I am convinced that Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the world that should absolutely make its way on everyone's travel bucket list. Planning a journey to Norway can be overwhelming because there are so many interesting places that deserve a visit, but these are the ten places that I have been to so far that I have loved the most:


Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Easter! || Weekend Reading #5

The last time I wrote a Weekend Reading list was in the beginning of December - how has time flown by so fast? In other words, I figured it was high time that I shared some of my favorite recent reads from the Internet with all of you again, just in case you are finding yourself looking for some new reading material. My Easter weekend is going to be pretty unexciting: While everyone else seems to be heading out for little adventures, I am going to have to stay at home with my books and my laptop to get some work done. This may or may not have resulted in a pity party at the grocery store yesterday where I decided to treat myself to way too much chocolate and all the ingredients for a home-cooked Steak-Frites dinner, but I actually cherish the idea of having a couple of quiet days to myself.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Goals for April

Happy April everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful March! It feels like so much has happened during the last month that surely it must have been more than thirty days! I spent the first three weeks in Frankfurt while I was interning at a law firm and it was lovely to spend a longer period of time at home at my parents' place again. I went on some day trips - one to the city Wiesbaden and another to a beautiful botanical garden in Frankfurt - and on lots of walks through the countryside and it was definitely nice to have a change in scenery again.

Interning was - as always - an interesting experience and one that gave me new incentives for my studies: It is good to be reminded what I am working for in the countless hours spent in the library! After the internship, I immediately popped over to Paris for a cheeky little blogger getaway with some of my favorite people. We ate way too much and took way too many pictures, but it was so much fun and I already hope we can do it again soon!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Exploring the Tropics in Germany | A Photo Diary

It is that weird time of the year right now when spring occasionally swings by for a day or two only to decide that he is not quite ready for commitment yet and disappears again. I don’t really mind the colder times of the year, but eventually there just comes the point when seeing  nature in bloom becomes necessary again and when the German weather did not seem to cooperate with that desire, we took matters into our own hands and visited the Palmengarten - a local botanical garden - a few weekends ago.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Favorite Hike in Bergen, Norway : The Lyderhorn

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The first time I went hiking on the Lyderhorn was during fall of my first semester studying abroad. After weeks of rain and grey skies - Bergen is one of the rainiest places in Europe! - the weather had finally brightened up again and so some friends and me decided to go out to explore the nature. Because perfectly sunny days are a bit of a rarity in Bergen, people always take advantage of great weather conditions and head outdoors once the sun makes an appearance and on this particular day half of the population of Bergen seemed to be out and about in the same place as us.

There were families with small children and even smaller dogs that braved climbing up the steep rocks at the summit and runners that were so sure-footed and fast that my own (non-existent) stamina wanted to die of shame, but the view over the sea and the islands off the coast was incredibly beautiful and the Lyderhorn immediately became one of my favorite viewpoints in Bergen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Blogger Stroll Through East Paris

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Margo and Jordan had been speaking about going on a little blogger getaway to Paris for many months already and when conflicting schedules made it seem like I would not be able to join them and Alex and Jen in the city of lights I was nearly heart-broken. How on earth could I miss out on what would surely become an epic girls' trip? But in the end, I figured I would be able to squeeze in one small weekend after all, booked my train tickets on a whim and thought YOLO! And it definitely was the best decision: There was lots of laughter, lots of talking and lots of food and I loved hanging out a bit more with Margo and Jordan and getting to know Alex and Jen, who had both come over from the UK, for the first time.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Romantic Fjord Cruise to Mostraumen, Norway

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Every time I have a look at pictures of Norway, I have to pinch myself to believe just how magnificent and awe-inspiring the landscape of this country really is. Even though I have seen all these places with my very own eyes, I still sometimes find it hard to understand that a country this striking actually exists in real life and not just on the big screen at the movies and I feel all the more blessed to have been able to go study abroad in Norway. But as time goes by, the memories that used to be so vivid in my mind start to feel more and more like they are the memories of another person.

If I close my eyes, I still remember the cold wind on my face, still hear the sound of Edvard Grieg's Morning Mood playing with steep mountains in the background, still see the images of the rugged Norwegian landscape pass me by - but the girl going through all these experiences does not seem like me anymore. I suppose this is only natural - life always goes on and as we move from one place in our lives to another, things that used to be so clear start to fade into the distance. And I guess that is one reason why I love writing and photography: It lets me capture the feeling of the moment, so that I may go back later and remember just how I used to see things.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekend Scenes from Wiesbaden, Germany

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I don’t usually have weekends in the traditional sense. When you constantly have exams to study for and papers to write that you can never ever work enough on, you kind of just don’t leave the library on Friday evening and go into relaxation mode for two days, but come back the next morning to get just a little bit more of work done. I obviously do take days off, but it usually happens unplanned when I’m just too exhausted to be bothered, but it usually leaves me with a feeling quite guilty.

So if I have gathered anything from my extremely limited office work experience, it is that it is actually quite lovely to be able to leave work on your office desk and to take a proper break over the weekend. Granted, I’m not sure if this is actually really a thing - can anyone really ever leave behind their work? - but I definitely like the idea of being able to do whatever I want without encountering the dreaded guilty conscience that tells me to go work some more.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Epic Views at Gullfjellet, Norway

One of the facets of my personality that doesn't get nearly enough recognition on my blog is my love for all things epic. I was always the kind of girl that preferred movies with grandiose landscapes and large battles, the kid that spent more time reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five books multiple times than playing outside and the teenager that developed a huge love for Middle Earth instead of going to house parties. 

It is no surprise for me, therefore, that places like Scotland, Cornwall and Norway have touched me in ways that I struggle to find the right words for. The rugged wilderness and the magical landscapes of all these places took me away from our world and captured my spirit and fantasy in ways that other places couldn't and for lack of a better description my soul felt welcomed back home.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Goals For March

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I know it's a terribly cliché thing to say, but how can it already be March? It feels like 2015 only started yesterday! February was a good, but uneventful month and so I don't really have any exciting stories to tell, but I believe that we all occasionally need times in our lives that allow us to just be.

March is setting out to be a quiet month as well: I'm spending the month living at my parents' place in Frankfurt while I'm interning at a law firm, but I do have a sneaky little weekend trip to Paris with some blogging friends coming up and until then I'm savoring not having to go grocery shopping myself. Stepping away from my regular student life and getting a glimpse of what it may actually mean to be a working professional is an eye-opening experience to say the least and I have a whole new respect for people who manage to have jobs, take care of their homes and families all while maintaining a fulfilling social life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seaside in Brighton, England

This is most likely going to be the last proper travel post on the UK that I'll be writing for a long time and I'm not quite sure how to feel about that. On the one hand, it's a pretty good feeling to see my list of places that I'm long overdue to write about start to dwindle down. But on the other hand, it does feel like a chapter of my life is coming to an end. I have a few more posts to write about Norway, but once they're published I'm done writing about my year studying abroad and I guess to me that means that this adventure will be over.

The last time I visited my boyfriend in London, we went on a little trip to Brighton. We had talked about going together for ages, but it wasn't until the very last possible moment that we managed to get ourselves down to the sea. Brighton is about an hour south of London and pretty much the stereotypical example of what you imagine an English seaside town to look like. Brighton is pretty rough around the edges, but it definitely has its own unique charm and it exudes a quirky vibe unmatched by any other place I love in England that makes it refreshingly down-to-earth.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Walking in a Winter Wonderland || Taunus, Germany

Last week, we drove up to Frankfurt to visit my parents and used the occasion to go on a little walk in the Taunus mountains. I'm not in the mountains a lot anymore and so going on a hike again was a great break from the study-intensive few weeks before. The Taunus is a low mountain range just north of Frankfurt and a popular recreational area for people of the region. We used to go there a lot when I was a child, but back then I definitely failed to appreciate the beauty of the German mountains or rather the appeal of their hiking paths and it had been years since I properly had visited the last time.

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We took the underground (that is actually an overground for more than half of its route) right to the foot of the mountains and set out on a lovely little tree-lined path. It was a gorgeous day with air that had that sort of clarity that is so characteristic for a bright winter's day and the light of the sun was kissing the sparse tree tops. After weeks of grey, uninspiring skies that made you detest winter and long for spring, it was a revelation to feel the sun lift our spirits and we weren't the only ones that were out and about to make the most of the day.

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The trees along the path quickly grew denser and with the sun hiding behind thick clusters of branches, the light quickly started to disappear and soon we found ourselves in one of the dark fairytale forests of our childhoods in which you suspect trolls hiding behind rocks and witches tracking your moves to put a spell on you.

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The path rised gently and with every meter that we climbed there seemed to be more snow on the ground. We had had no idea that there would be any snow at all and so we were very delighted to have the opportunity to escape to a veritable winter wonderland at least once during this season.

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With the snow, there also came the people. We were passed by sleds occasionally - more often ridden by adults than by kids! -  and I not so secretly wished we would have brought one, too. I don't even remember the last time I went sledding (though I had some major sledding envy in Norway, too), but my old wooden sled still has got to be somewhere in my parents' basement!

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After an hour of walking we finally reached a mountain ridge where the trees started to clear a little bit and the sun illuminated the pure freshly fallen snow. Is there anything more beautiful than snow shimmering in sun light? I can't think of a lot things!

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While I was furiously snapping away at the beautiful scenery - it's been a while since I felt that inspired by photography and the insane amount of pictures in this post is only a little collection of all the photographs I really took that day - I was reminded of this beautiful shoot I had seen a few months earlier and it kind of made me wish I would have brought a ball gown up to the mountains: Wouldn't this be an absolutely stunning scenery for a fashion editorial?

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My boyfriend remarked that the landscape looked more like an advertorial for winter vacationing in the Alps than what you would expect to find in Central Germany and I definitely had to agree. Unfortunately, the Taunus isn't always this prettily covered in snow - in fact, snow is probably the exception rather than the rule - but that made the timing of our visit all the more special.

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We took a little break at the Fuchstanz, a mountain pass and the highest point of our walk, and treated us to a cup of hot apple wine, a local speciality, in the hopes that it would warm us up a little bit. It also seemed like we were joined by half of Frankfurt as walkers kept on pouring in from the other paths.

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We started to descend on the other side of the mountain and eventually spotted a clearing between the trees. Curiously we strayed off the path (I know that Gandalf told us not to, but the magic of Mirkwood was too strong!) and suddenly a beautiful overlook of the landscape opened up in front of us:

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We found our way back to the path - no enchanted rivers or creepy spiders for us - and continued to follow it down the mountain. The amount of snow started to decrease again while the signs of the closest town became more and more apparent until we found ourselves in our final destination, Kronberg, just as the sun was setting and hopped on a train back to the city.

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The mountains of Central Germany may not be the mountains of Norway, but a day spent outside in nature is always a good idea!

Do you get a lot of snow where you're living?

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