Beach please: Lanzarote

With all Lanzarote has to offer, I'm sure you'll also need some time off during your trip. So, let's call it a mental health day. Let's just lay in the sun for a day, swim and snorkel.

 

I've done some proper research in that field and can show you my favourite spots:

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Lanzarote for people with a drinking problem

Lanzarote is famous for its volcanos, the black sand beaches and the hiking trails around them.

To me this sounded like a geography teacher's, and not really like a place I would enjoy. What I didn't know: Lanzarote is also a wine region.

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Spoilt on Fuerteventura: my favourite places to stay

Since Alex and I accidentally "moved" to Fuerteventura, we made absolutely no prior plans and ended up moving quite a bit.

 

While there were very few Covid cases on the island during our time there, we still wanted to make sure not to meet too many people, therefore we always tried to find apartments or houses, that we really liked, so we didn't mind spending more time there. And of course, we wanted our apartments to be pretty.

 
While typing this, I'm realizing what this post really is about: about being irresponsible. Spoiling yourself with the nice apartment, you can't afford. Staying as long as you like, in the places you love.

What I'm not showing you: the dark and smelly places, we stayed in after realizing that we're living way out of our budget. Totally worth it.

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The places I loved (and the places I hated) on Fuerteventura

When Alex and I decided to spend the second wave of Covid somewhere else, we picked Fuerteventura for its accessibility, for being part of the EU and therefore our health plan and for its low infection rates.

We quickly fell in love with this strange little place in the Atlantic and stayed for two months before moving over to Lanzarote, so I'm pretty sure we've seen almost everything on this small island.

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Visiting Cofete or: the day our car broke down in front of a Nazi Villa

Are you as obsessed with true crime as me? After binge-watching almost everything there is in this genre, I was very excited to find out that there is a mystical villa in Fuerteventura's desert of Cofete, that may or may not have been built for the Nazis.

 

The desert didn't look so bad either, so Alex and I decided to go see for ourselves.

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The hippest place on Fuerteventura: Lajares

Put on your billabong sweater, a beanie and manage to get a little sun burnt: we're going to Lajares.

 

This small town in northern Fuerteventura is located between El Cotillo and Majanicho, two of the major surf spots. Therefore it became a popular hang-out for surfers and those who'd like to be one, despite not being at the coast at all.

As you might remember, I'm a terrible surfer and have given up on it. But I do appreciate a good vegan burger and also don't mind strolling around shops that specialize in surfboards and knitted hats, so I'm always happy to spend time at popular surf spots.

 

When Alex and I stayed in the even smaller El Cotillo for a few weeks in the beginning of our trip, Lajares became our place to have a better coffee, to run errands and to simply hang out when we didn't feel like going to the beach.

 

Later on, we moved to the “suburbs” of Lajares to be closer to all our favourite spots.

surfboards in Lajares
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Away from the crowds on Fuerteventura: Parque Holandes

After a few weeks by ourselves in El Cotillo, Alex and I met up with our friends and their baby just an hour away in Parque Holandes.

 

This strange village is located in the middle of nowhere, in the desert of Las Dunas, half an hour drive to the next supermarket in Corralejo or Puerto Rosario.

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Beach please: Snorkelling in El Cotillo

There isn't much to do outside of the ocean in El Cotillo. And I love it.

Apart from a few cute cafés and restaurants, there's really just the beach.

As I'm overly serious about snorkelling, I made it my ritual to go to one of the beaches first thing in the morning during our stay in El Cotillo and to be in the water just after sunrise, only me and the fish.

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Surfer vibes without surfing in El Cotillo

For many Europeans, including myself, the Canary islands were a spot where our parents loved to vacation in the 2000s. I remember many spring holidays in small bungalows on Gran Canaria, surrounded by other Germans, in walking distance to a pebble beach and a schnitzel restaurant.

 

When I decided to leave Hamburg before the second lockdown to spend this time somewhere else, I looked for places within the EU to make visa arrangements easer.

I also wasn't keen on changing planes, not wanting to expose myself and others to more possible Covid interactions than necessary.

 

This left me with exactly one place to go: Fuerteventura, right next to Gran Canaria.

view over El Cotillo
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Surprise: I went to the canary islands without telling you

hi! My name is Sarah and I am a travel addict. And I secretly went to the Canary Islands for several months.

walk to the beach in El Cotillo
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a new street art walk in Hamburg's Sternschanze

It's been a while since I wrote a post about my favourite pieces of street art in Hamburg and you guys seem to still be reading it. While this makes me very happy, one part that I like most about public art is how quickly it changes. Some pieces are gone, some new ones appeared. It's definitely time to go on a new walk through Hamburg's Sternschanze area.

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Best of the Isle of Skye (and all you need to know before going)

"Are you cold, darling?" Kevin, the ticket inspector asked me on our train from Glasgow towards the Isle of Skye, while I was putting on my jacket. I agreed, assuming he was just trying to have a conversation. He then forced everybody in the entire coach to close the windows, while explaining to us which bridge we were about to cross and offering help with our luggage. This was the first of many overly friendly encounters, that almost made me feel like a bad person for not constantly offering help to everybody. 

 

As a result, my friend Ashton (you might remember her from our trip to Laos) and I were in love with the Isle of Skye, before we even set foot on it. 

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Returning to Paris: the 11th arrondissement

My first travel memories are of the many times my Dad took me to Paris. I was fascinated by the Metro system, loved the abundance of crêpes stands and the proximity to Disneyland.

 

We always stayed in the same area – the quartier latin – and had a deal with each other that we could both choose the activities for one day each. Mine has always been Disneyland, his was always Versailles.

Book store in Rue de Charonne
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Design subway stations uniting Budapest

Judith and I have been travelling together for more than ten years now and are known for the most chaotic and randomly chosen trips. We’ve booked flights after several bottles of wine and ended up in Latvian beach towns and industrial areas in Poland, usually positively surprised but never well planned.

So, when we booked our flights to Budapest, we felt very grown up and reasonable: this is actually a place where people go on vacation!

Escalators in Budapest Subway
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Hamburg's new design subway stations

Hamburg is building a whole new part of town – the HafenCity.

Apart from the Elbphilharmonie and hundreds of residential and office buildings, the city's infrastructure is currently being expanded to cover the new area.

The new subway line U4 connects the HafenCity with the rest of Hamburg and is holding up with the architectural standard of the new buildings surrounding it.

Three stops have already opened and are all worth a visit:

Elbbrücken Station roof
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Street Art, Architecture and Vodka in Katowice

We've all woken up hungover having bought something we didn't need online, right?

This wasn't the first time my friend Judith had brought over two bottles of wine and we ended up booking a random flight. This time we went with the cheapest one we found, which sent us to Katowice, a small town close to Krakow in Poland. To make up for the cheap flight we also booked the most expensive hotel in town, obviously.

Street Art by ROA in Katowice
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An alternative tour through Barcelona

I'm a bad tourist. I don't care about history and feel like I've seen enough churches. Also, many museums bore me.

What I'm interested in is meeting local people, hearing stories about weird customs and simply walking around looking for markets, small restaurants or street art. The problem is, that it's not that easy to always meet the locals, who are willing to tell me their stories or to show me their neighbourhoods. I guess, they also have something else to do.

 

Therefore, I was hooked right away when I heard about the Free Original Barcelona Alternative Tour. These guys specialise in street art and Catalunyan culture, which they will show you in the neighbourhood of le Raval.

Le Raval
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Road tripping through Croatia

I'm usually not a big fan of driving, but in Croatia we found so many spots, that are just easier to reach this way, that J and I decided to rent a car for our entire trip.

 

It ended up being the perfect choice, as we were able to go to secluded places and travel at our own pace. We spent ten days in Croatia, but our itinerary could have been easily spread over two weeks or more.

Road trip through Croatia
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Abandoned planes and tunnels at Zeljava Air Base in Croatia

We were sitting on a bench in front of our hostel in Zagreb, while our new friend Iva zoomed in and out on my phone on Google maps: “The Zeljava air base should be here. Don't accidentally cross the border to Bosnia”. Seeing my confused stare she added “Exits one to three are in Croatia, exit four is Bosnia Herzegovina. Don't take exit four. And bring your ID, the police will come, but you will be fine”.

Abandoned airplane at Zeljava Air Base
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Hostel Crush: Swanky Mint in Zagreb

"Are you going in?” a girl sitting in a lounge chair asked, as I was holding the tip of my toe into the water. It was cold, but I was determined. This was my first time in a European hostel with a pool, and I was going to use it, no matter how cold it still was in May.

 

An hour earlier, we had arrived at Swanky Mint Hostel in Zagreb. It has been built into an old dry cleaning factory in the centre of the city, which now houses the hostel's rooms, two bars, several terraces and the pool I now was standing next to.

 

With Swanky Mint Hostel also comes Swanky Travel (a travel agency) and Swanky Monkey Garden (the bar), so we were taken care of by the whole Swanky Family.

Dog at Swanky Mint Hostel
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Top 10 instagrammable spots in Hamburg

With two rivers, dozens of parks and a buzzing art scene, Hamburg is not just great for a weekend trip, but also to impress your friends and followers on Instagram.

 

Since Hamburg still excites me after living here for several years, I've put together a list of my favourite spots to visit for a great afternoon and a few likes from your Social Media-friends.

Hafen City at sunset
Sunset makes everything better! The Hafen City is a great photography spot, as you'll find cool new architecture reflecting in the water
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The Tree House at the Berlin Wall

"I found something, that you will like" J told me on our first day in Berlin. "It's a tree house, right where the Berlin Wall has been".

 

I was expecting an architectural project, reusing the space that had become available after the Wall came down, therefore I was pretty surprised when I was standing in front of a building, that had obviously been built out of scrap wood.

Facade of the tree house at the Berlin Wall
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On the tracks of La Petite Ceinture in Paris

I heard about the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (French for „little belt railway“) a couple of days before I went on my trip to Paris.

 

This railway from 1852 was a circular connection between the main railway stops and ran within the fortified walls of the city. Abandoned in 1934, the remaining station and tracks are now being developed into cafés, running tracks or simply decorated with Street art.

 

For the next three days, I made my friend Lydi (you might remember her from our trip to Helsinki or to Beijing) explore these tracks all over the city of Paris with me.

Girl balancing on tracks at Charonne, Paris
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10 things to do in and around Bucharest

I only had a couple of days in Romania, which I used to explore its capital city Bucharest.

Being filled with brutalist architecture, quirky markets and a polenta-based cuisine, Bucharest had all I could ask for, therefore I didn't get the chance to visit the exciting castles spread throughout the country (guess where Dracula was from!).

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Stavropoleos Monastery – the most peaceful spot in Bucharest

Bucharest was yet another city I fell in love with at first sight.

 

Giant socialist architecture in between absurd buildings from the 60s, polenta-based dishes with cheap Romanian wine and taxi drivers blasting music, that I still can't get out of my head – how could I not be happy there?

Courtyard of Stavropoleos Monastery
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Street Art at Millerntor Gallery 2016 in Hamburg

Yet another Street Art post? I know, we've seen quite a lot of public art on this blog in the last couple of weeks, but this one is special, I promise!

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Artsy in Amsterdam: Visiting the Banksy Exhibition at Moco

When I first heard about the Banksy Exhibition at Moco Amsterdam, I was outraged, thinking they were showing his pieces, that were literally ripped off the walls.

Only then, I found at that Bansky actually also creates indoor art on canvas, wood and paper. Whoops.

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Two days in Santorini

After relaxing days on Milos, I decided it was time to get off the sun chair and I took the ferry to Santorini, where I met my best and oldest travel buddy: My Dad.

He was the one who introduced me to travel as a toddler and who never stopped travelling himself. Since he was on his way to Crete, our paths overlapped in Santorini and we decided to spend two days swimming, hiking, eating tzaziki, driving around the island and petting donkeys.

 

If you are travelling to Santorini and only have limited time on your hands, have a look at our two days itinerary.

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Milos for Beach Bums

After a couple of busy days in Athens, I needed a break from the city and a swim in the ocean for the first time this year.

I had chosen Milos to fuel up on Vitamin E because my online research revealed that it had the best water, good snorkelling, diving and nice beaches. Sold!

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Salty on Milos

"It's so bright here" I said to Stavros, the manager at Salt on Milos, a Greek island in the Cyclades.

He was walking me to my room while I was squinting my eyes looking at the sun glancing over the ocean on one side and the white suites on the other, feeling pure bliss before even putting down my backpack.

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Street art impressions from Athens

Athens won my heart at first sight with street art, sun and souvlaki.

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Inspiration from Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone Milan 2016

Ciao from Milan!

I'm super excited to be back in Italy, the country of vino and gelato, while visiting one if the biggest design events in the world!

 

The Salone / Milan Furniture Fair / Milan Design week /whatever you want to call it is an annual exhibition showcasing the latest in furniture and design.

 

The Fuorisalone is a massive exhibition taking place all over the city of Milan at the same time, where many shops and galleries open their doors to show their work and where many brands jump on the bandwagon to exhibit their newest products. And I'm here to explore both.

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Murals in Hamburg at Frauen Freiluft Galerie

There are a couple of reasons why I picked Hamburg as my home-base and the harbour is definitely one of them. Being able to step out of the subway, overlooking the cranes, the water and even a beach is pretty special for a European city.

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What to do in Hamburg when it's raining

aaaalright, sometimes it's raining in Hamburg. Ok, it's raining most days between October and April and also also in between every now and then.

 

But it's really not as bad as people think. If there is one thing, that's good about Hamburg's weather: The city offers a huge range of activities for rainy days. There are loads and loads of shops, museums and places where you can see the rain running down the window panes.

 

Returning from Bangkok, I was freezing for the first couple of weeks (think 40°C difference in temperature. Sorry Fahrenheits, I have no idea how much that is for you ) and very happy to have some indoor activities to warm up right in front of my door step.

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French Architecture memories in Hanoi

Hanoi was tough on me. I arrived there after deeply falling in love with Luang Prabang's calm friendliness and cute architecture, with smiling children on the street and with being greeted hundreds of times a day with a charming "Sabaidee".

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Architecture love in Amsterdam: The Atrium at Rijksmuseum

I just spent a brilliant weekend with friends in Amsterdam, which meant a lot of strolling around, having wine with our feet dangling over the canals and randomly driving the boat over the river.

On our last day we felt like we had to do SOMETHING, that is not directly connected to food or laying in the sun, so we decided to check out the renovated Rijksmuseum.

I had read about the new design all over the internet, so I forced my not-really-that-interested-in-design friends to join me.

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Expo Milan: 5 Pavilions you have to see (and 3 more you can skip)

There is no way you can see it all at the Expo in Milan. 148 countries are taking part in this giant fair this year, additionally to the theme pavilions like “Sea life” and “Rice”, all spread over the distance of a small town.

 

We've eaten dumplings from Nepal, have taken part in a very weird Japanese performance and looked at so much amazing architecture that I had to go through my pictures to even remember what I wanted to show you.

 

As always, my focus was on the pavilion's architecture and design, I guess the different stagings and performances would have been worth a separate post but I had to start somewhere, right?

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Fondazione Prada and MUDEC: Two new museums in Milan for architecture lovers

Milan has two fancy new museums incorporating every architect's wet dreams:

Fondazione Prada (Prada Foundation) by OMA / Rem Koolhaas and Museo delle Culture (Museum of Cultures, short MUDEC) by David Chipperfield Architects.

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The Church of Bones in Milan: San Bernadino alle ossa

Obviously, on top of our agenda for Italy, there were vino and gelato.

But on a close second for me: The church of bones in Milan.

I had read about it a while ago and was fascinated right away:
Apparently, there was a church next to a cemetery, where they started to build with bones when there was no space left for new graves. This was something I had to see for myself!

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Future Flowers in Milan by Libeskind 

"Colour is the very essence of life" – Daniel Libeskind

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Street Art impressions from Berlin Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain


There it was, right in front of me. And I didn't even look for it.

This massive masterpiece by Case, an artist who's work I've been admiring for ages. This was going to be a good day for Street Art.

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Kraftwerk and Neue Heimat: Two industrial Locations in Berlin to keep an eye on

I'm not sure what it is about industrial architecture, that I find so exciting. Maybe it's the history of the place, that still comes through. Or the cool materials used. Probably also the massiveness of the spaces.

However, I always try to find exciting industrial spaces, that are now used differently when I'm travelling.

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Getting spoiled at Crowne Plaza Berlin

The word "destiny" is too much for the choice of a hotel, right?

Well, my friend Antje and I were discussing going to Berlin to visit the DMY Design festival when I received an invitation from Crowne Plaza Berlin City Centre right at that moment!

Obviously our plans were set and we took off for a weekend in Berlin a few days later.

Flowers in Hotel Room
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Coming home to London Broadway Market

I bet you have a city, that makes you feel like you're coming home every time you're there.

You've probably lived there for a while and then had to leave for stupid reasons like work, love or money.

Coming from the airport you're headed to the supermarket straight away to buy your favourite cheese, then find a café that has this special kind of coffee you like and then try to see all these places you've always spent your days when you were living there.

Next you're going straight to the area you used to live in and feel like a local again because you know the bus stops and which restaurants to avoid. You change the side of the road, way before you have to pass the smelly fish shop.

Other people are living in your apartment now, which feels unfortunate.

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Win one of three free sign-ups for Jaano Vespa sharing in Hamburg (closed)

edit 2018: Janno was sold to Emmy, which works the same way.

 

Are you as thrilled about the new Vespa sharing concept Jaano in Hamburg as me?

In case you haven't heard of it, check out yesterday's post.

Just like with car sharing, you can now sign up with Jaano and then use one all of their Vespas, which you'll find all over Hamburg.

And you now have the chance to win a free sign-up with 30 free minutes!

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Exploring Hamburg by Vespa

It happened in Indonesia. An old man at a tiny shop handed me a key and pointed at a scooter:

“that's yours”. It was green, heavily scratched and the speed indicator didn't work.

I was freaked out and definitely in danger when I started driving, but I was in love. 

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A walk through Hamburg St. Pauli by day

You probably know Hamburg's St. Pauli for its nightlife, the red-light district around Reeperbahn or the soccer club.

But if you manage to get up early after a long night of partying, there is actually a lot to see around there and the combination of crazy nightlife and a relaxed area to have coffee with my friends, makes it one of my favourite parts of Hamburg.

I especially love the vintage and neon signs, which you will find everywhere! Let me show you...

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Lazy ass boat tour through Hamburg

Are you as lazy as me when it comes to sightseeing? I get distracted quickly and quite often end up having drinks in the middle of the day instead of looking at all the exciting things I had planned.

Fortunately Hamburg is a great place for people wanting to see a city without moving:

It has two rivers and hundreds of canals running through it, which means you can see most of the city by boat.

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Hungry for Design - Hamburg part II

This is the second part of the new category on Journey to Design summarizing the best restaurants for people who are into design and into food, one city at a time!

When I "researched" for the first post about Hamburg (aka forced my friends to have dinner with me at every nice restaurant in town), I realized that there are way too many nice restaurants in Hamburg to fit in one story.

 

So this is part two of “Hungry for design” featuring Alpenkantine, Altes Mädchen and Elbgold in Hamburg.

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Love at the second sight: Siauliai in Lithuania

Reading about Siauliai on Wikipedia made my heart weep. This was probably the unluckiest town I had ever heard of:

burnt down several times, hit by the plague, plundered by the swedish troops and majorly affected by both world wars, the people there and their ancestors must have seen the worst.

Arriving in Siauliai by bus from Riga, the view made me feel sad again:

due to the fires and the wars, almost all buildings had been burnt down and were replaced by industrialized apartment blocks.

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