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

 

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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

 

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

Why I’m Vegan / Eating Disorders / Body Acceptance

(I’ve been putting off writing all of this down because, as always, I am afraid of judgement)

I’m vegan now. I have been for a little over 3 months, so I’m still adjusting and learning (just the other day I realised that the cereal I bought had honey in it, oops) but I think I’m confident in “announcing” it.

This decision is one that I’ve been on the fence about for years. I went vegetarian during my first year of college and I did it with the intention of transitioning to veganism soon after, but here we are almost 3 years later and I’ve just finally done it. This is where the whole eating disorder backstory comes into play.

I can’t honestly remember how it all started, to be honest. I do know that it was 12th grade and everything all went to shit at once so the eating disorder was simply one thing on the list at the time. I guess I felt like I needed control. It was easy enough to hide, probably because of my age and my independence. My first class wasn’t until 10am, so I was always the last one awake in the morning, which was perfect. I ate lunch alone at school, so there was nobody to question me, and then I’d go to my co-op placement and when they took their break I’d tell them I already ate. I made my own dinner a lot, or was expected to, so who was to know what or how much I ate? If we were eating together I’d say I wasn’t hungry, that I ate lunch really late, that I was going out. I lied a lot. I relied on “I already ate” and “I’m not hungry” a lot. I used to survive on black tea most days. So much black tea. It didn’t matter what I ate, I felt guilty regardless. There was a point in which I would binge eat, when I was alone, and then swear to myself that I wouldn’t eat at all the next day. For a long time afterward, I couldn’t eat ice cream, it sickened me.

Once I got to college, my independence grew and along with that, the eating disorder pressed on. I spent a lot of time alone, again not ever having to explain myself. There was a period where I’d eat half a piece of toast for breakfast and feed the other half to my dogs. I’d eat half of a packet of instant oatmeal (I had excuses ready if anyone ever saw the half empty packet in the cupboard, I’d poured too much water for 1, but not enough for 2, so I ate 1 and a half. Nobody ever asked). Looking back, I can’t believe some of the stuff I survived on. I even had one of those fitness apps where you log your food intake and exercise. PRO TIP: don’t download those apps. They are not going to do you any good. I’d be doing sit ups on my bedroom floor in the middle of the night, walking through the suburbs for ages, running up and down staircases, all to get below my “goal” for the day. It was a damn mess.

Long story short, it was absolutely awful and I don’t wish any of it upon anyone ever. It really messes you up. It messed me up for the better part of 2 years and it still affects me daily.

So back to this vegan crap. Originally, I went vegetarian because of my eating disorder. I thought that if I cut out meat that I would lose more weight. And once I got used to it, I could cut out dairy and eggs, too. I told everyone that it was because of the ethics – which wasn’t completely untrue – but really it was because I’d convinced myself that I’d get away with eating less if I “couldn’t” eat certain things.

Over time, I recovered from the worst of the eating disorder, but I still wanted to be vegan. The reason that I waited so long is because I was afraid that it was just my way of relapsing, I didn’t want to wind up back in that place I’d been in for so so long. It’s hard, because I knew that this time I was doing it for the right reasons, but the toxic thoughts hadn’t fully gone away. I mean, once you know how many calories are in everything in your fridge, and exactly how little you can get by on, it takes time to just “forget” all of it. I’ve spoken to a few people close to me that have gone through similar disorders, and they can back me on this. Even once you’re out of the thick of it, and you no longer act on your thoughts, they’re still there. It’s a process to go from calculating every bite to simply eating like a “normal person” again.

I know it’s hypocritical of me to say, because I never got help, but seek help. It’s scary to go through that kind of stuff alone especially when there are so many people out there who will understand and want to support you as you try to recover. Not just me, not just on the internet, but in your real life. I have a handful of people close to me that were going through the same thing at the same time and we were oblivious of each other until we’d gotten past it and felt a little more comfortable speaking about it. We could have been there for each other!

At the end of the day, I believe in a compassionate and earth-friendly lifestyle. I really do. I think I should be treating myself and the world with kindness, and I’m trying to get there. By feeling good about what I’m putting into my body, and knowing that it’s doing good for the Earth, I feel better about myself. Positive vibes, and all that stuff. I’m not gonna get preachy but of course in stating that I’m vegan I’m also saying that I think it’s the right thing to do and that everyone should try and get there someday. Do your own research and have your own opinions, I don’t care if you’re vegan or not. I am, and I’m the only person that I can control.

The road to self-love and acceptance is a freaking bumpy one that doesn’t come with a map but it exists and it’s not impossible to drive down. You might just have to drive a little slower than you want to.

Take care of yourselves and each other, xo, Rachel