New York City #1 – The City That Never Sleeps

Grew up in a town
That is famous as a place
Of movie scenes

Noise is always loud
There are sirens all around
And the streets are mean

If I can make it here
I can make it anywhere
That’s what they say

Seeing my face in lights
Or my name on marquees
Found down on Broadway

Even if it ain’t all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from

New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York

These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York
New York, New York- Empire State Of Mind, Alicia Keys

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Standing in front of this skyline was breathtaking

In the song „Empire State Of Mind“, Alicia Keys describes New York City perfectly.
I fell in love with New York. I fell in love with the buildings, the people, the movement, the spirit.

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This is one of my favourite Times Square pictures!

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In 2015 I travelled to Boston and stayed with a lovely host family for ten days.
After our stay in Massachusetts, we took a plane to New York City and discovered this amazing place for four days.

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Have you noticed Heidi Klum on the add space in the background?
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Wow, what a photo bomb. Thanks dude! 😀

During the landing, I listened to the song by Alicia Keys, overwhelmed by the feeling, that I would soon visit on of the most amazing and vivid cities in the world.
After having left the airplane, the adventure began.

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It took us almost two hours to get to our hostel in Union City because we were stuck in a huge traffic jam. The „Explore Hotel and Hostel“ was quite nice, although I think it depends on the room you are staying in. We (5 girls) shared a suite with a little bathroom. As far as I can remember, it was not that expensive and I took us 20 minutes to get from the hostel to the Times Square. (Going by bus was very cheap)

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Times Square

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The Times Square is just amazing. So many people from all over the world taking pictures of the gigantic advertising space. Famous stores like the Disney Store, American Apparel and Forever 21 are located around the square. You can also walk down Broadway and negotiate with the tourist guides and maybe you will get a „cheap“ ticket and enjoy a special musical on Broadway. We watched „Les Misérables“ and it was marvellous!

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This street performer must have had sore legs after standing on these „stilts“ (??) for a whole day.
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This Minnie Mouse wanted me to pay her 4$ to take a picture with her…

But the number one lesson to remember is: Scarcely anything is without charge at Times Square! There are so many tourist guides who want to grab your attention and sell expensive tickets to you. When your not travelling in a group of people like we did (We were 15 students plus two teachers), then you should probably buy your tickets online before going on your trip.
You will also see many people in costumes who want to take pictures with you in exchange for a dollar or two. But I guess you already know that.
We even saw the Naked Cowboy, casually playing his guitar in the middle of the streets.
I guess he is pretty famous, since I’ve already seen him on TV in Germany.

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The Naked Cowboy, eye candy :D?

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I still miss the hum of cars and horns, the colourful lights from the huge stores, the shouting of police officers and tourist guides. Music and vivid conversations everywhere, traffic and yellow cabs.

Noise is always loud
There are sirens all around

But it is such a wonderful place!
I hope you enjoyed the first post of my New York series!

Stay tuned and have a great week!

Sophie

 

 

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My personal guide on how to become a Minimalist

Minimalism is not the lack of something, it is the perfect amount of something.

Since centuries, people think that having many possessions means being very wealthy. Living in abundance means being happy, lighthearted and having nothing to worry about.
Children often want to have as many toys as possible, they are unconsciously competing with other children in their surrounding.

As I already mentioned in my last post about Minimalism, we are predestined to buy things. And breaking this circle of buying and tossing is not easy but possible.

Today, as promised, I would like to share with you my tips on how to live a more minimalistic lifestyle.
However this does not mean, that you have to become a hardcore minimalist. But incorporating some of these ideas and habits in your life, may enrich your life to an extent you can choose.

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1. Developing a new lifestyle begins in your head

Your mind is a powerful thing, if you use it correctly, your life will start to change.
This means, that you will have to be aware what your goals are. This is a form of manifesting your goals.
Think about why and what you want to change.
If you start to think about it, you will change it. This is very simple, but it actually works. I will probably write a blogpost about it later this month.

2. Get informed and deal with it

After your mind is ready for the upcoming changes, you should not stop and just start doing something.
At first, it may be very helpful to read articles, books or blogposts about minimalism, or even watch some of the great Ted talks speeches.
While getting informed, you can make your own plan on how to rock the lifestyle change. Unfortunately, there is no perfect guide on how to become more minimalistic, these are just some tips and tricks and in the end, everyone needs to deal with it himself.

3. Start decluttering and tidying up

It is completely up to you if you want to declutter everything in one day, or if you would like to separate it and do one thing at a time.

I can highly recommend using The KonMari Method wich basically says that you have to pull out all of your stuff and then decide if it „sparks joy“ or not. If it does not, toss it, sell it, or even better: donate it!
Using this method, you will become aware of what you actually have and it will be easier to give things away.

Additionally, stop multitasking. What I want to say is, that you should not listen to music or watch TV while you are tidying up. These distractions will probably prevent you from actually tossing something. You need to be focused and you should worship your possessions and be aware of what you are doing.

4. Don’t mess everything up again after two weeks

Everyone probably knows this problem. You just cleaned your room and then after a couple of days, everything is messes up again because you were to lazy to put everything back at its right place.
Consequently, you need to develop a strategy, which prevents this. Like in our early childhood, we should put every item we used back at its place, immediately.
This is the point, where your new lifestyle becomes sustainable.

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5. Buy less

Being a minimalist does not mean to toss everything and buy new things.
It also means to recycle and to be mindful about what you buy.
Before buying something, I like to ask myself these questions:

1. Do I already have something like this?
2. Why do I need it?
3. Do I really need it?
And then I like to wait at least a week and if I still think that I definitely need the item, I may buy it.

This personal method is pretty simple and you can adapt it to your needs.

6. Track your income and your monthly expenses

After having tracked my monthly expenses, I became aware of what I am actually buying. Since we tend to buy so much stuff with cash and we basically lose track of our finance. If you are into money saving, you should definitely check out my blogpost about How To Save Money For Travel (unfortunately it’s written in german)!

7. Digitise almost everything

This step is optional, but for myself I like to digitise everything possible.
You can digitise your memories and create e-books or presentations. Having everything saved on your laptop is very useful.
However, I also love journaling and having printed pictures on my wall.
Though, I started to buy e-books because books are heavy and hard to handle when your moving to another apartment for example.
Anyway, this is something everyone has to decide for himself, since I know that reading a real book and the smell of the pages is just amazing!

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8. Utilise your phone and your laptop

If you start to utilise your phone and your laptop, you can get rid of useless notebooks and calendars. Personally, I love to habe my Moleskin calendar and my Bullet Journal, but I also like to use Microsoft One Note to take notes, which is very useful!

9. Create Journals or Memory Books

If you are obsessed with keeping bills and tickets from your last vacation, like me, then you will probably love the idea of creating travel journals or memory books.
I guess I will write a blogpost about this later this month but I can already say that it is so amazing to have a folder or notebook with all the lovely travel memories in it.
Thus, you have all things you collected in one folder and they are not cluttering up your room.

10. Sustainability

Minimalism is like veganism about sustainability. It is about feeling good, about being mentally healthy but it is also about our earth.
We need to make a difference and stop buying useless things which clutter up our minds and our earth. We are living on a wonderful planet which nourishes us, gives us oxygen and all the resources we need to live.
Now it is time to say thank you!

Be mindful, care about yourself, our planet and other people, and start to protect our environment.

I hope you enjoyed reading my minimalism guide.
xx, Sophie

 

 

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Battling Writer’s Block and the last London Photographs

Hello World!

I am finally back after having suffered from writer’s block for two weeks.
To be honest, I wanted this post to be online yesterday, but my uploader did not work and I fell asleep.

I knew that this would happen, since I am an ambitious person and a perfectionist. Unfortunately.

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Being a perfectionist can be very helpful, but it often prevents me from doing spontaneous and imperfect things.

When it comes to blogging, this perfection often overwhelms me.
I really want to produce content which is interesting, or helpful, or at least a little bit special. I know my blog is nothing in comparison to other blogs, but that is not the point.

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My favourite record store in the backround

It is not about readers or clicks or likes. This blog shall be about experiences, memories, happiness and spreading love.
Even if I could ever make money with blogging, which is completely unrealistic (and not the purpose!!!), it should not lose its identity.

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Royal Arcades, London

Sometimes I wonder, if it is really necessary and if there is a sense why I am writing and sharing my photographs. And yes there is one: it is fun. And I love to connect with other people. To my mind, blogging is a great way to connect! Because so many people in the world are able to read your blog!

And this is, what it is all about. Sharing, caring, impressing and creativity.

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Subway Station

I started my first blog in 2012. And I failed and deleted it because I thought that nobody was interested in reading it. But I do not want to stop writing and blogging again. This would be a mistake.
I know that I could prepare blogposts, but I am not at that point yet.
I am not that productive yet.

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Anyway, today I am sharing with you my last London pictures. It is another mixture of Street Photographs and I hope you like them! Looking back, I really enjoyed my time in London, since it is such a wonderful city. I wish I could travel the country for a couple of weeks one day. Ireland and Scotland would be nice to see as well. 

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Taking the ferry

Please excuse me, when I am having my writer’s block again. I am fighting it.
Have a lovely week!

Sophie

My thoughts on MINIMALISM – happiness, a state of being or a state of having?

„Spend your money on experiences that are gonna feed your soul instead of stuff that’s gonna clutter up your life!“

…is one of my favourite quotes from a TED talks speaker, who held a speech about minimalism. I can highly recommend watching these speeches, they are so motivating, informing and inspiring!

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Today, I would like to talk about a topic which is very important for me: Minimalism.
When I was a child, I used to collect everything. Dolls, papers, leafs, everything.
My room was always full of useless clutter! Later, when I became more interested in clothes, shoes, make-up and stuff, I hoarded tons of these things and the more I bought, the unhappier I became. At that time, this did not make sense to me. I mean, we are almost conditioned to buy stuff in order to be happy. We always need the latest iPhone, that new pair of Nike Sneakers etc. Large business companies want us to maintain our consumerous lifestyle,  they keep on creating new innovations and produce products, which are „predestined“ to die after two years.

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After years of buying and tossing, I decided that I do not want to promote this lifestyle and I started watching Ted talks speeches about minimalism and downsizing.
In addition, I began to downsize my own stuff and stopped buying without thinking.
The point of minimalism is that you do not have to toss and sell everything in order to have all your belongings fit in one backpack, (don’t get me wrong, this is amazing!) but you have to create your own rules and live your personal minimalistic lifestyle, in order to become happy with less belongings!

Additionally, one side effect of minimalism is that you will have more money. Consequently, you can spend your money on experiences and travel for example and in most cases, these experiences will probably fulfill your life to an extent which consumer goods never will.
Why should we spent hundreds of dollars on a designer bag when we could also live in Thailand for a month for the same amount of money?

The less you own, the less you have to take care of.
And the less you own, the happier you will probably be.

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I really wanted to share my personal thoughts with you, and I would also love to write a „Minimalism Guide“ as well. Please let me know, if you are interested!
At the moment, I am often thinking about happiness and how to create a lifestyle and a mind-set which allows us to be happy and independent of how much money we have.
You may have wondered why I am showing you these pictures of me, sitting in front of a white wall. I do not really know. I guess it is because I love to take minimalistic photographs, because there is no clutter which distracts the viewer from the human being in the centre of the photo.

Have a nice and sunny week! Enjoy the little things.

Sophie

 

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Red and Jack the Ripper in London, UK

One of my favourite things to do when I am travelling is going for a walk and exploring all the different streets and places.
I have to admit that I only support guided tours to a certain extent, since you are not able to explore the city on your own.

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Jamie Oliver’s Diner! I wish I had the opportunity to eat out there!

But last year we took part in a Jack the Ripper Tour and it was amazing!
Our guide was very impressive, since he had a vast knowledge about history. Additionally, he used to be an actor.

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This record store was just amazing!

Anyway, I really enjoyed the tour. We were able to see so many different and partly hidden streets, which made the tour a great experience.

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The famous red busses.

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Having wandered around, I discovered many interesting places, stores and pubs. I wish I were able to visit them all! My best discovery was a grunge/indie/alternative/vintage record store! I almost bought Nirvana’s „In Utero“ recorded on vinyl.
But I did not and I still regret it!

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Telephone box twins.

When I am thinking about London, the first colour which comes to my mind is red.
Red busses, red telephone boxes, red mail boxes, red signs.
I like red, red is impressive and classy!

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The streets. 

I hope you enjoyed this kind of „uninformative“ blogpost.
Stay tuned and have a wonderful and hopefully sunny week!

Sophie

 

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One night in Bangkok, or three weeks in Thailand

Thailand. Islands, elephants, jungle, beaches, friendly people, Bangkok.
These are the first few words which come to my mind when I’m thinking about Thailand.
Lucky me, I am going to Thailand for three weeks in November.
We recently planned our trip which I will be sharing with you today.

After we will have arrived in BKK, we would like to take the night train and the ferry to Koh Samui, in order to go diving in Koh Tao and to join the full moon party on Koh Phangan, which will be on 3 November 2017.
I know this is very touristy and stereotypical but I guess if you have the chance to go, you will regret it if you don’t.

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Palm Trees, Koh Samui ’89
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Koh Samui ’89
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Koh Samui ’89

You may have noticed that these pictures look a little bit vintage and they are!
My mum used to travel a lot when she was younger and she also visited Thailand and Malaysia.
She took these pictures in 1989, using a slide film. I was very impressed when she talked about her travel experience and I decided to digitise her photographs.
I hope you enjoy looking at these pretty and old pictures!

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Koh Phangan ’89
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Koh Phangan ’89

If we still have time, we will take the bus to Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, but we decided that we want to be very spontaneous.

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Northern Thailand
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Elephants, Northern Thailand

After we will have discovered some of the paradisiac islands we will probably fly to Chiang Mai, in order to travel back to Bangkok.
Hopefully, we will have the chance to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
I am still not quite sure, if the elephants are treated appropriately. I will have to read a little bit more about this place, since I do not want to promote animal cruelty.

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Young Woman, Northern Thailand
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Northern Thailand
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Chiang Mai
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Chiang Mai

Last but not least, we will be exploring Bangkok for a couple of days and celebrate my nineteenth birthday there. We thought that it might be less stressful to visit Bangkok at the end of our trip. We will see what happens and I am really excited!

I know that this post does not offer much travel relevant information but I thought you might enjoy these old photos. I am so curious in which way these places have changed the last 28 years.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Love, Sophie

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London Street Photography

I am obsessed with black and white Street Photography. And London is such a great place to take this kind of photographs.
Many photographers like to take pictures of empty streets and places, which is definitely a nice aesthetic. However, people bring life into boring photographs.

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I love taking pictures of people working or hurrying. This may sound a little bit weird, but to my mind, candid shots are the prettiest, because they show the human being as it truly is.

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These two men reminded me of the famous picture of the workers having their break, perched on the beam of a skyscraper in Manhattan.

Let’s talk about camera settings. My favourite way to take street photographs is using my  50mm aperture  lens, which is particularly powerful.
When photography was originally invented, there was no zoom and you had to move, in order to get the right perspective. And this is the interesting part about photography. Using a lens with fixed focal length, you are experiencing parts of the original way to take pictures. You have to figure out how you can capture a busy street for example, moving very quickly in order to take a great shot! You need to be active, not wandering around passively, using your tele-zoom.

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This is an every day situation. People in the subway station, grabbing their sunglasses, waiting, staring into my camera.

After having taken some pictures in the streets, I am using Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve the perfect „look“. My favourite settings are the saturation-, contrast- and lightness settings. Black and white street photographs are so magical, since you have to colour them in your mind.

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I love this setting. All the different elements make me ponder a story for this photo- but I can barely imagine one.
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No caption needed, I just love subway stations.

I really hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully you liked my London Street Photographs.
Have a wonderful week!

Xx, Sophie

Things you cannot miss in London

When I was fife years old, my Mum showed me a postcard of famous sights in London.
I was so impressed and decided that London is my favourite city. The funny thing is, that for 13 years, London was my favourite city, although  I had never been there before.
Last summer I was finally able to visit this beautiful place!

I have to admit that I cannot give you insider advice, but I would like to show you my photographs of different sights and my street photographs.
As you may know, I am very obsessed with photography, which is the reason why I am always looking through the viewfinder, trying new perspectives and motives.

Today, I am starting my London series with the most popular sights, which you probably already know.

Having arrived at the London City Airport, we went to Wynfrid House in Whitechapel, a hostel near Shoreditch which is very cheap.
Shoreditch is great! There are so many young people and everyone is so friendly and open-minded! If you want to go clubbing, the Village Underground is pretty famous and the people there are highly recommending it!

From Whitechapel, you can walk to the Tower Bridge, which is quite amazing!

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Tower Bridge

On our first day we also visited Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I love this church and the architecture in general. Additionally, I am definitely a great fan of the royal family.
When I was twelve years old, I spent the whole day watching different shows about Kate’s and William’s wedding on TV. I even drew them!

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I guess you know the nickname of the bell…Did you know that the tower is officially known as Elisabeth Tower?

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After having admired these historical and beautiful buildings, we enjoyed a wonderful boat trip on the Thames. Boat trips are an amazing opportunity to see all the great sights near the Thames all at once.
I can highly recommend doing this, especially when you are not staying very long.

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The London Eye
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Waterloo Bridge

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As I love the royal family, I had to see Buckingham Palace, although many tourists told me that it would not be that special. Well, I loved it! Unfortunately, I was standing too close to the building and did not want to create a panorama picture, consequently this shot may be not as typical as I originally wanted it to be.
Additionally, the weather was not as expected, so the Victoria Memorial does not look very special…

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Buckingham Palace
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Victoria Memorial 

I know these things are not the „very special“ things you should not miss in London (these are more the basics) but stay tuned, I still have many other things to share with you in the next couple of days!

xx,

Sophie

 

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Solo Travel – My fears, my thoughts, my expectations

As you may know, I will be going on my South East Asia- and Australia- trip in September. The first country I will be going to will be Malaysia.
This first part will probably be the most exciting one, since I will do Solo Travelling. I have never travelled to another country alone before, therefore I thought I could share my thoughts with you!

Maybe you have already read my Malaysia Blogpost, if yes, you already know something about my expectations etc.
But I cannot deny that I am VERY excited about this time!

There are certain reasons why I chose to travel alone and today I will be talking about these reasons, my fears and my expectations.

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Why do I feel like travelling solo will be good for me?

As I already told you, I recently graduated from High School in Germany.
After thirteen years of school, I feel that I have to do something different, to do something for me, on my own.
I guess it is because going to school and being surrounded by the same people everyday is no longer giving me the inspiration I need- which, to my mind, is completely normal.

Consequently, I think that it will be quite helpful not to see my friends and family for a while (This is not meant to be rude!), since I will have to learn to be very independent, without the constant feeling of security my friends and family give and gave me. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for that!)

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You are your own boss!

I always used to be very interested in exploring and in adventures as well, but if you are travelling with a friend, you will probably have different interests, therefore you will have to compromise.
When you are travelling solo, you are your own boss and you can decide where you want to go, how long you want to stay and what you want to do.

But stay alert, traveling too solo and taking risks is definitely too dangerous when you are in a foreign country on your own.
You should never arrive at a new destination after dark, or go home alone in the dark. This means, do not make yourself a target for „criminals“ or pickpockets. I would also highly recommend to hide brand names, or even better, not bring high-fashion items, or expensive equipment when you cannot protect it from thieves in a certain way (f.e. in a Travel Safe or in a locker).

There will always be people around you

One of my biggest fears is that I will feel alone on my trip.
However, I think that this fear is unjustified, since there will always be someone around you. When you are checking in in a hostel, you will meet so many people from different countries who will love to talk to you or to go on a trip with you. And do not forget – you are not the only solo traveler in the world!
On my last trips I also recognized, that I would have also appreciated the opportunity to go on certain trips alone, since you are usually a little bit limited when you are travelling with friends, because you are often staying in your group, instead of taking the advantage to talk to other people.
Sometimes I really regret that I have not talked enough to other people when I traveled. I mean, you will see your friends at home, but you only have the chance to connect with people from foreign countries when you are traveling.

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Push yourself out of the comfort zone

This is one of the best advantages you will have from Solo Travel!
The human being is a creature of habit, which means that we love to have habits and we want things to be comfortable.
However, it may be hard for us to adapt to an uncomfy situation and this is exactly what you have to do when you are traveling alone!
Additionally, this will probably be one of the best experiences of your whole trip!
 

Don’t be afraid of traveling solo! I will also try to not be!
I am taking the opportunity and I am sure this experience will enrich my life!

Have a wonderful week!

Sophie

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Barcelona’s famous artworks – 72 Hours in Barcelona #2

Everyone who is interested in arts and architecture, should definitely visit Barcelona!
Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Antoni Gaudí are all amazing artists and had a tremendous impact on Barcelona’s tourist industry.
Today, I will be sharing with you my favourite places and museums in Barcelona, where you can take great photographs and enjoy creative artwork.

Casa Batlló and Casa Milà

First of all Antoni Gaudí the famous Spanish architect who was also a representative of the Modernisme Català.
He created two popular „mansions“ in Barcelona, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.

Casa Batlló is situated near Placa Catalunya (which I already mentioned in my last post) and was built in 1877.
This house looks so magical and I would have loved see the inside of the house, but unfortunately the queue was too long and we did not have enough time to wait.

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Casa Batlló

Gaudí finished Casa Milà in 1910 and created it for the Milà Family.
He even created a natural air conditioning system.
Additionally, the villa has a great roof terrace where you have the perfect view on the Sagrada Familia.

 

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Casa Milà
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Roof terrace of Casa Milà

La Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is a gigantic Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, also designed by Antoni Gaudí. The construction of the church began in 1882 and it is still not finished yet.
The guides told us that the construction is financed by donations and not by taxes.
Anyway, they plan on having completed the Sagrada Familia by 2026, the centenary of Antoni Gaudí’s death.
You should definitely go inside the church, since it is breathtaking and miraculous!

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The Sagrada Familia – It will probably be finished in 2026

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The inside of the Sagrada Familia

Park Güell

The construction of Park Güell by Gaudí commenced in 1910 and was finished four years later. Gaudí planned a great park with 60 different villas wich should have been purchased before the construction began.

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The entrance of Park Güell
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The famous Gecko by Gaudí – Park Güell

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Nevertheless, his purposes failed, since nobody wanted to purchase the unfinished villas. Consequently, he was not able to finish the park and it now consists of three villas, instead of 60.

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Anyway, I have never visited such a beautiful park before and if you want to visit Barcelona, you will not regret visiting Park Güell.

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The big terrace in Park Güell

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Picasso and Miró

As I am interested in arts in general, it was a pleasure for me to visit the Picasso and the Miró museum. The Picasso museum shows the artist’s work from 1895 to 1904 and it is very impressive to see the development of his artwork. I would highly recommend to buy tickets online, since you do not have to wait that long to get your tickets.
The Miró museum is located at the foot of Montju
ïc, it is devoted to modern artwork .

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View on Barcelona from the Miró museum

Visiting Barcelona was an amazing experience for me and I can recommend it to anyone who is also interested in culture, arts and architecture!

Have a nice day and stay tuned!

Sophie

 

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