THE EUROPE TRIP: ETC

Because I am a Big Fan of taking the Long Way Home, Austria wasn’t the true end of my trip.

It ended up being cheapest to fly Salzburg to London, London to St. John’s, St. John’s to Toronto, so that’s what I did. I worked it out so I had nearly an entire day in London to wander around, eat some grocery store sandwiches – which, in the UK, are great by the way – and listen to English Girls by The Maine on repeat. I also had like 6 hours in St. John’s (Newfoundland, Canada) which I was super excited about because I’d never been there before.

I don’t know if it’s just the headspace I’ve been in both times I’ve visited the city, or the areas I chose to see, but I don’t really love London. I don’t hate it, I simply like other places more. Anyways. It doesn’t matter. I had a nice evening.

St. John’s, on the other hand, I adored. As luck had it, I ended up sharing a cab into town with a few other people and spent my entire layover hanging out with them and exploring a little bit of the island. We went up to Signal Hill and hiked all around it and into downtown, getting to know each other while being constantly awed by how beautiful the place we all randomly found ourselves in was. Seriously, the landscape was stunning, the classic coloured buildings in town contrasted so well, and the whole place felt so welcoming. Plus, the french fries I ate at a pub on the main street were freaking great. It was the best layover I’ve ever had. I didn’t get anyone’s contact information, and I don’t remember their names, but I hope they’re all having fun, wherever they are in the world.

 

Oh, and I somehow ended up in the “Plus” seats on the plane and was given free food and drinks the whole flight from London. I am 100% sure this was a mistake on their part, but I wasn’t about to forfeit all that luxury. Who would?

Also, this ad I saw in Iceland that I haven’t had the chance to include yet:

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Aaaaaaand that’s it. That’s all. Now I’m back on Eastern time and sleeping in my own bed. Thinking about where I’ll go next, and where I’ll go after that, and after that and after that. Endless possibilities.

Here’s a song I kept hearing on the radio in Europe and that I still can’t get out of my head. Cheers!

Xo, Rachel

 

 

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THE EUROPE TRIP: AUSTRIA

Cities are fun, but good god damn I was ready to get into the woods. I really needed a good hike and some fresh air.

Innsbruck (4 days)
On the bus ride from Munich, not gonna lie, I got a lil emotional when the landscape started changing from hills to mountains, when I could really see the fall colours, all of it. The small piece of Austria that I saw immediately topped everywhere I’d been before. No offence, but like I said, cities are cities and nature really GETS ME. While I was completely unprepared to be doing steep, rough trails, I did it anyway. I’m not about to visit the Austrian Alps and admire them from the base. To get on with it, Innsbruck was my favourite place – it felt a lot like ski towns I’ve been to in BC, and I love that.
Food wise I cheaped out because my hostel had free breakfast and at this point I was pretty sure I’d spent more money than I’d planned so I ate mostly grocery store food. I did get Indian food twice from Sahib and some soup from My Indigo, and the vegan burger from Ludwig which was so bomb I also went to their location in Salzburg. I went to a vegan cafe as well but I didn’t like it so I’m not gonna link it!! I did ride the gondola up the mountain one of the days, which is a little expensive but if you don’t feel like hiking nearly an hour uphill just to get to the head of trails, maybe splurge. Either way, definitely do a trail. I had the absolute best time wandering around in the forest, took a million photos, and had I wanted to (I did but I was being cheap), I could have stopped for a beer at one of many restaurants up there. Who doesn’t wanna stop for a mid-hike beverage with ridiculous views of Innsbruck, surrounded by farm animals and other dirty hikers? Actually this entire stop was full of fails on my part, as the next day I got on the wrong train and ended up having to hike another hour to the start of the trail I wanted to do, and didn’t end up having enough time to complete it. Haha. I still had a great time, because it’s all part of the EXPERIENCE. Right? Plus I saw a wild goat that day and went through a rock tunnel because of my detour. Which was cool. Innsbruck was cool. I think the trails I did were Arzler Alm and Eagle Walk Stage 14 (the one I didn’t finish), plus some other random twists and turns I did on a whim on my way up and down the mountain. Honestly, any trail would have been stunning, I just happened to choose these.

Salzburg (2 days)
I kind of messed up planning and only really had one full day in Salzburg, which was not ideal – but I think I made the most of that day. I walked along the river, ate some really good food (breakfast at Gustav [the best sandwich I’ve ever had! Nice small talk with other customers!], lunch/dinner at Uncle Van) , and enjoyed some views of the hills and castles (?) surrounding the town. The hills were truly alive. With the sound of church bells. Brilliant.

What a magical place. Everyone, get to Austria. For me. Shouts out to the friend that encouraged me to go there because like Denmark, I don’t know when I would have gotten around to it without some prompt.

Xo, Rachel

 

THE EUROPE TRIP: GERMANY

OK, this one is gonna be a lot. I spent over a week in Germany and stayed in 3 completely different places.

Hamburg/Salzhausen (4 days)
I stayed with a friend for this chunk of time, so I actually had someone to guide me! The first night, I was taken to a little lake, then we went to Luneburg where I saw my first German Friday market/fair, and got a taste of the architecture and feel of good ol’ Germany. The next day we went to the Luneburger Heide and hiked around for a while which was so beautiful. And we only got lost once. We spent the last day in Hamburg with another one of my friends, mostly walking and catching up, plus we went to the Elbphilharmonie (for free) and got those sweet views. Oh, and we saw It at the movie theater which was cool. The rest of my time there was spent hanging out with my friend’s friends, drinking too many German beers, and sleeping in.

Stuttgart/Rottenburg (1 day)
Again, I stayed with a friend here so I mostly just hung out and again, drank too many beers. I did get a little tour of the area on my friend’s motorcycle though, which was probably the most badass thing I’ve ever done. Sorry, dad. I also had a very nice latte made by a very cute boy at Kaffewerk. Would recommend.

Munich/Kubach (4 days)
While staying in Kubach I utilized my AirBnb host and the local trains to explore Aichach (ate some gelato and explored an old church), Augsburg (ate at Mom’s Table, enjoyed the river, got lost) and Munich (went to Lost Weekend and loved it, explored various neighbourhoods and loved it, walked along the river, and ate dinner at Bodhi which I LOVED[good food, good music, cutie waiter]). Which were all beautiful. And Bavarian. I think.

And that was Germany. Straw roofs, farms, graffiti, old friends, new friends, and beers. Good times.

Sowieso……

Xo, Rachel

THE EUROPE TRIP: DENMARK

Well, I only stopped in Copenhagen, but still. Denmark, baby!

I did the bare minimum when planning this trip so I had no itinerary or idea what I should be seeing/doing in any of the places I went, so if I missed something, don’t tell me. Because I don’t know.

I spent most of my 5 days in Copenhagen just admiring the culture and feel of the place. I’d been to the UK before, but Europe is like a different world. I don’t even know how to explain it, it feels familiar but completely foreign at the same time. The sheer amount of bikers constantly caught my attention. I don’t think I’d ever seen so many bikes in such a short period of time. And the cute little tables and chairs outside of every cafe and restaurant, everyone outside enjoying the sun and the air of early fall. Wonderful. Everyone was so friendly and seemingly easy-going. I loved the simple style, colourful old buildings, the people. Don’t even get me started on the food. Before going vegan, I really didn’t care what I ate while I was travelling. I’d eat grocery store sandwiches and french fries and whatever was cheap and closeby. Now finding food is half of the fun of being in a new place. Copenhagen really came through with the vegan options, there were so many places I could eat I didn’t know which to choose.

For future reference, or in case any of you end up in Copenhagen, here are the places I ate. I loved every single one, and they were all so unique:

  • Cafe N (liked the food/atmosphere/staff so much I went there twice)
  • GreenBurger (if you like mock-meat/fast food/junk like I do)
  • Kaf (so freaking cute)
  • SimpleRaw (I’m not usually a raw food binch but the brunch was so good!!)
  • Kaffestuen Vesterbro (originally went here to ask for directions and later found out they had a ton of vegan stuff so I went back the next day)

As for other stuff, I am a big fan of walking around all day and stopping when something catches my eye. So I ended up in a few record stores, thrift shops, walked along the water, sat around in parks, drank coffees, stuff I’d do in any place.

A highlight was definitely the botanical gardens – which I wasn’t that excited about but then I remembered how much I love plants. I don’t even know how long I was there, taking photos, admiring the greenery, people watching. 10/10, and it’s free. Even the gift shop was fantastic!!

I’m trying to incorporate humans into my photos more, so there may be a pattern here.

Of course, being Europe, there was some Old Stuff. Much older than anything here in Canada. Which was exciting and much more interesting than I thought it’d be. I mean, I didn’t know how stoked I’d be about buildings and mailboxes and streets.

I don’t know what else to say. The whole thing went by so fast, I only remember enjoying myself and feeling welcome. Oh, and the signage. There was some great signage.

Overall, I’m really glad that the flight to Denmark was the cheapest – because I don’t know if I’d ever gone otherwise. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I has no idea just how much I’d love it.

And that wraps up our first stop (unless you count the brief layover I had in Iceland, which was only long enough for me to buy a neck pillow and eat a granola bar).

Truly may have left a piece of me in Scandinavia, and I can’t wait to go back…

Xo, Rachel

 

the east coast

I went on a little road trip to the right side of Canada. It was nice. Here are a few photos:

It was a bit hectic because the whole reason we went out East was to see my little sister in a gymnastics competition which was pretty full-on so all of our exploring was in between flights. We still managed to see a bit of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI. So, like, we killed it.

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Xo, Rachel

 

road trips

I like to consider myself a semi-professional when it comes to packing after spending the last 2ish years doing almost nothing but, so here are some words of stupidity from someone who still sucks at packing!


So, you’re going on a road trip? Been there. The prep is crucial to the whole experience, yeah? Sure. I recently got rid of nearly everything I owned except what I thought I would need living out of a car for 3 or so weeks, not even knowing where exactly I was going to be visiting. Turns out that BC is still pretty cold mid-March and maybe I shouldn’t have gotten rid of all my winter clothes. Live and learn.

What you’ll pack:

  • Healthy food so you can cook all your meals at hostels to save money
  • Instruments to play out of the back of your car at some picturesque lookout
  • Fancy camera to capture all the beautiful moments you’ll have
  • Books! You’ll have so much time to read!
  • Camping equipment
  • French press, duh
  • Clothes that don’t suit the season you’re travelling to
  • Cute decorations for the car
  • Emotional baggage
  • Soap that you’ll leave somewhere but replace with something from a free bin at a hostel
  • Multiple hat options
  • Yoga mats, for doing yoga…
  • Laundry detergent?

What you’ll actually need:

  • Clif bars, because you can’t be bothered to cook
  • Hair elastics!
  • A freaking coat
  • A water bottle
  • Podcasts to listen to
  • An aux cord
  • A map?
  • A plan?
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Cash
  • A charger for the fancy camera you brought
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wifi to find the vegan options near you
  • Hand cream
  • All that car stuff that you are supposed to always have
  • Good spirits

But really though, if you cook your own food on road trips, please teach me how to be like you. I can’t do another 3 weeks of McDonalds and junk food from various gas stations. I really can’t. I’m just saying, those vagabonds I follow on Instagram must have some real talent because all the road trips I’ve been on have been dirty and unorganized and sleep-deprived. None of that string-lights-hung-above-a-cozy-bed-in-the-trunk, coffee-made-in-tin-mugs-over-a-campfire, writing-poetry-in-the-passenger-seat shit. We had fun, though. It just wasn’t pretty.

Xo, Rachel

How To Be Single

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If you know me at all you know I love a strong, independent woman. I think it’s so important for female characters in movies and on TV to have their own lives, dreams, and stories unrelated to their romantic interests. Women in real life are just as multidimensional as men, are they not? I aspire to be a strong, independent woman who don’t need a man (but wouldn’t mind one accompanying her in being badass).

Anyways, I saw How To Be Single in theatres last week and that’s why I’m writing this. It was (spoiler alert?) about a girl who decides that she needs time away from her long-term boyfriend in order to learn who she is when she isn’t with someone. It takes her a long time to finally come to terms with truly being alone and not needing to be leaning on some guy all the time, but she gets there. The movie ends with her (spoiler alert again) not ending up with any of the men she had romantic ties with throughout the story. It ends with her – alone – in the Grand Canyon, fulfilling a long-time dream of hers. While the movie was cheesy and cringey at points, the end really stuck with me.

I’ve done a shit ton of stuff by myself in this past year, and I have had some of the best times of my life. Alone. I like to think my Grand Canyon Moment happened last fall, while I was in Seattle. The weather wasn’t particularly great and I was tired from walking for ages but I was standing on the beach in a foreign country with no obligation to be anywhere or see anyone and I felt at peace. I have a note saved on my phone from that day that says, “I was walking along the beach earlier staring at the water and listening to 30,000 Feet by Ben Rector and I started smiling to myself because I love my life a lot sometimes, you know? Seriously, I have seen a couple places that I never thought I’d see. And I’ve done it all by myself.” There is plenty of time to be with other people, but make sure you leave plenty of time for yourself, too.

Some photos of me on solo adventures (they’re all selfies because I was solo, obviously):

I’m not afraid to be that friend that tell you to stop listening to what people tell you to do. The friend that will listen to you talk about places that you want to go and tell you to just go already. That will tell you to stop waiting for other people. If you’re always in a relationship you’re always adjusting things to fit that other person, you’re always going to have to make compromises. As much as love is about compromises and blah blah blah, it can suck. Then you get old and you have proper responsibilities and roots somewhere and you can’t just move to Japan like you’ve always wanted to (yes, I just finished Master Of None and I’m still thinking about it). I’ve always believed in doing as much as you can before “finding someone” and doing all those “together” things. Or maybe you’ll find your person while you’re off on your own, being your own version of single. Your version of single might be travelling alone, or living alone, or joining a club where you don’t know anyone, or going to the gym by yourself when you’ve always gone with a partner. As trivial as it might seem, it’s worth a try. Who knows, you might end up moving to northern Canada and living in a tiny cabin by yourself for the rest of your life because you love being single THAT MUCH.

Helen Anderson made a blog post similar to this one recently, and I probably wouldn’t have even known about How To Be Single if Abby hadn’t made a video about it, so go check those out if you wanna hear people cooler than me, saying what I’m trying to say, but better. Or differently.

“All this time I’d been searching for true love when I already had it. Every poem is a love poem, my dad had said. I’d always thought he meant romantic love – but there were so many kinds of great love: mother and daughter love. Father love. Best friend love. Aunt love. Mother’s-best-friend love. Friendish friendesque love. Love for the living and love for the dead. Love for who you really are, for those weird parts of yourself that only a few people understand. Love for the things you yearn to do, for putting words on a page. Love for traveling, for meeting new people and seeing new ways to live. Love for the world, for it being a hard pain in your ass. Love for the questions, for the ever more complicated questions.” – Margo Rabb (Kissing In America)

Oh, and happy international women’s day!!

Xo, Rachel