A World Away from Home: And the Last

Our last day in Zurich, we decided to actually go hiking this time. We went on a short hike up a local mountain, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and the far mountains. It really is beautiful.

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Peekaboo view along the way.

We also met up with a friend I’ve known since elementary school who happened to have moved to Switzerland recently. It was really nice to catch up, since I hadn’t seen her since I graduated high school.

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Apparently it was a bit hazy so we couldn’t see all the mountains. Still beautiful.

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Countryside on this side.

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My sister forbade me from yodelling.

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There was a nice cafe at the top.

We took our time hiking, since my sister had previously managed to pull a muscle, but it was nice not to be in a rush. It was a popular trail, and the locals also used it for jogging. Definitely felt a lot like home.

Afterwards we decided to go into the city to do a little bit of shopping. And of course, since we were in Switzerland, we had to go get some Swiss army knives! And kitchen knives. Because it was about time we upgraded from cheap Costco knives to proper knives that cut rather than squish tomatoes (no more sad salads).

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Swiss army knives.

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LOTS of Swiss army knives.

The store was quite big, and had very impressive displays. I decided to get a cute little Swiss army knife to put on my keychain, and Ryan decided to get the actual Swiss army knife. A little bit of his and hers, I suppose.

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I can’t say I didn’t get it because the cat looks like Jerry

We also got some delicious Sprungli chocolate. The white chocolate was my favourite. It wasn’t overly sweet, as most white chocolate is. And it had a hint of a grassy taste from the type of cows they use. I should have bought more than one bar. It’s not cheap, but well worth it.

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Super cute little Sprungli cows.

Then we had to say goodbye to my friend as she headed home and we wandered back to my sister’s apartment to get ready for dinner. We went to her friend’s place for a barbecue dinner which consisted of lots of meat, bread, and delicious homemade garlic butter. Also two salads and tons of ice cream. (We tried to make oreo milkshakes but ended up with a kind of soft serve. Wasn’t complaining.)

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It was a wonderful day to be out and about, and a great way to end the trip. A week was way too short, but I’m glad that we went. Seeing family is always worth it.

Now that I’m home, I definitely miss Europe, and I miss the family I have there. But it’s also nice to be back in my own place, still surrounded by family and loved ones. It’s quite incredible, to be able to have important people in so many different places. There are so many trips to be had. So many places to see, and never enough time.

Until next time, Europe.

A World Away from Home: Zurich

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Lakeside Zurich

On our second day in Zurich we had big plans to go hiking, but instead we ended up lazing around the apartment all day and relaxing. It was nice to have a day where we did not need to do much at all.

In the evening we decided to go out for a delicious pizza dinner. According to my sister, you have to reserve ahead of time, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to get a table.

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Pizza!

It’s also a lot more expensive to eat out in Zurich than it is in Vancouver. If you’re planning on visiting Switzerland, make sure you have a decent amount to spend on lodging, transportation, and food!

It was delicious pizza – some of the best I’ve had. Well worth the money.

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It was also warm and sunny, so we were able to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

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Afterwards we decided to walk to the lake with some ice cream. Zurich, apparently, has the worst ice cream in Switzerland. Still tasted pretty good to me, though.

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The Opera House

It was really nice to see public chairs available for people to relax with friends or on their own in the big plaza. There was a beautiful view of the sunset and lots of space for everyone.

The sky in Zurich was filled with jet streams from planes. It created some beautiful artwork in the sky.

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We listened to a very talented violinist who was busking nearby, and then slowly meandered home. A wonderful and relaxing day to recuperate from the busy days we’d been having.

A World Away from Home: Rheinfall

Photos, and even words, cannot do justice to the beauty and power of nature. But I’ll try anyway.

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Rheinfall

We arrived in Zurich Thursday morning and dropped our luggage off at my sister’s apartment. We also took a bit of time to rest and recharge. Taco salad was on the menu, and home-cooked food while traveling is always extremely welcome. I am blessed with sensitive digestion, so the simpler the food the better.

It was a hot day in the sun. Both Germany and Switzerland seemed to be warmer than Vancouver. I wasn’t going to complain, though. Much prefer it to a rainy vacation.

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After eating and resting for a while, we decided to go to the Rheinfall. These are incredible waterfalls right next to a castle on the hill. It was about an hour train ride from the city, so we got to see gorgeous countryside go by along the way. (Also wasn’t complaining about the air conditioned coolness in the train.)

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The castle and train tunnel. Picturesque.

We decided not to go to the castle, since there was a tour group of schoolkids, and it looked incredibly busy. We were all a little bit tired, and did not feel like dealing with large groups of people.

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On the other side.

Luckily, since it was a weekday, the waterfalls were not half as busy as they would have been on the weekend. We took a boat across the river to get a view from all sides.

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From the boat. My phone could not capture the majesty of the falls from so far away.

It had been raining a lot, so the waterfall was rushing and strong, roaring at full strength. The sound could drown out all else, and the sight could hold me, mesmerized, all day.

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I told them to look out at the falls. They thought they were so funny.

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I wanted to dip my feet in the water.

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A place of calm and gorgeous colours.

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I’ll take one bottle, please!

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A cute little restaurant overlooking the falls.

Once we had taken in our fill, we considered walking to a nearby town for delicious ice cream (apparently the ice cream in Zurich is mostly sub-par, according to my sister), but it was so hot, and already getting on in the day, that we decided to forego the 50 minute walk and to go home and go for dinner at Tibits, a healthy salad buffet. It ended up being delicious, and I highly recommend it. We also got Ovaltine ice cream bars, which brought back my nostalgia in full swing, since Ovaltine was a very common dessert drink when I was young.

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Go team!

And after such a long day it was nice to get back to my sister’s apartment and just relax. Though it was not as private as a hotel room would have been, it felt much more like home.

A World Away from Home: Bergedorf

My grandmother lives in a small town call Bergedorf. It’s just outside of Hamburg, so it’s easy to travel to and from the city centre.

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Full of cute buildings

I have been there many times, so I have my familiar places, restaurants, and shops that I regularly like to visit.

My grandmother, of course, always likes to take us for steak. She was horrified when I contemplated getting a burger. (We are at a steakhouse! You must get a steak!) And one does not simply refuse her. She is very stubborn. In the end I did not regret getting steak.

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No cars allowed

Sitting outside in the pedestrian-only area of Bergedorf is always a treat. The buildings are gorgeous, and it is full of the murmurings of people.

There is a level of detail in the architecture that we do not get here in Vancouver. The intricate railings, the carved decor, the tower-like roof points.

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Would love to live in one of these apartments.

It’s very suburban in Bergedorf, but it’s comfortable. There are many open plazas where people sit and drink coffee and eat ice cream (eis). On Tuesday we sat with my cousin well into the evening, eating eis and drinking Hugo – a wine cocktail that she insisted we try (she could not fathom how we had never heard of it before).

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Hugo

You don’t see too many people rushing around with coffee in their hands. Here they sit and take their time sipping. There was a Starbucks in Bergedorf at one point, but after the initial hype fell away, so too did its popularity. Compared to the incredible bakeries and cafes, it fell short.

There are so many bakeries and cafes, in fact, that I sometimes wonder how they all stay in business. On every block there are multiple bakeries. Every train station has at least one. And they’re always bustling.

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Apparently this is a thing you can do in Bergedorf. My grandmother was politely horrified.

And during the summer everyone eats a lot of ice cream. Like, a lot. Which is fair, considering it’s delicious.

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The Castle

Bergedorf also has its own little castle. Everyone is, of course, very proud of it. First used in the 1500s, it remains today, now a museum and cafe.

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The entrance

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Gorgeous details on the door

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Because castles need moats

Small as it is, this city will always have a special place in my heart. Spending weeks here during the summer was a huge part of my childhood. And I think this town will always remain important to me.

A World Away from Home

One of the nice things about having family that lives far away is that it provides excellent reasons to travel.

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Bergedorf, Hamburg

 

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Beer on the Elbe at sunset

It’s always such a treat to be able to visit my family in Germany. It’s tough not being able to see them very often, but it’s always so special when I do.

And while I don’t tend to visit very many tourist attractions, I get to live and soak in the culture. I get to establish memories and remember where I used to love buying chocolates, or go walking with my grandmother, or where I went for a boat ride when I was younger. A world away from home, but in a way, still home. A part of my history that has made me who I am today.

 

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Train stations inspire wanderlust

While I have been to Germany a fair number of times, and while often my travels take me to the same places to see family, this trip I am also visiting Switzerland for the first time!

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Georgeous Switzerland

It’s about time I visited my sister, who has been studying here. It’s a short trip, but a fantastic one, and one that will, for sure, inspire more posts!

Take Me Away

There’s an old train track that spans much of my neighbourhood. It’s in the middle of being taken apart, which is good because it means much-needed infrastructure is going to replace it.

Christine Fichtner train tracks

On the other hand, there was something nice about the old, overgrown tracks. Walking along the wild, untamed plants and exposed metal. They will be missed.

Madrid Style

Part of what I love about traveling is the way each city has its own style. The architecture unique to each city is, to me, something that really highlights the difference in culture.

Madrid apartments

Madrid

There’s something fantastical about buildings that intersect streets. Like icebergs splitting through water.

 

Come, Summer

I can’t wait for the warmer days. The sunny skies with cool breezes. Sandals, skirts, and road trips through the mountains.

Summers in Vancouver are absolute perfection. The winters inspire traveling abroad, but the summers keep me home, wandering my homeland.

I eagerly await the inspiration that summer brings.

Christine Fichtner maxi skirt jeans jacket

Back when I had short hair!

Comfort is very important when I travel. If I’m going to enjoy myself, I have to be comfortable. Luckily, maxi skirts and loose, flowing tops are in. And for the summer, a jean jacket is the perfect addition to keep any chill away.

Holi Hai!

I went to Busan for the weekend, and it was amazing. Though I don’t normally enjoy tour groups, WinK did a great job of letting us explore by ourselves, while still guiding us to the main attractions.

This trip was to go celebrate the Holi Hai. And it was a blast.

Busan itself seems to be a really nice place. I stayed on the beach for the most part (Oh how I missed the beach), so I didn’t see much of the city itself, but I can say that the night life is good.

It was excellent timing, since the cherry blossoms just started blooming. There is a long street lined by cherry trees, and it is quite a sight to see.

It's like this on both sides

It’s like this on both sides

It was a little bit chilly still, but nice enough to walk barefoot in the sand. So I took the obligatory beach photo. Of my feet. Just to prove that I waded in the water. Since I know that everyone loves looking at feet.

Yay feet! I even prettied up my toenails for the occasion.

Yay feet! I even prettied up my toenails for the occasion.

We went to both famous beaches, and they were both great.

Yay!

Yay!

So that was basically the first day.

The second day brought the main attraction.

Throwing paint at everyone and dancing on the beach. What a great way to celebrate colour, love and peace.

My shirt says thanks - for throwing paint at me! :D

My shirt says thanks – for throwing paint at me! 😀

Shooting stars!

Shooting stars!

There were around 500 people there, and most of them were foreigners. Lots of Indians (obviously), but also a lot of expats. I think it’s a shame that so few Korean people join in. Actually, most of them stared as if unsure how to react, or took pictures.

And the Indian restaurant we tried to get into didn’t let us in because we were covered in Holi paint.

This isn't actually my photo. It's from WinK.

This isn’t actually my photo. It’s from WinK.

The paint (which is scented) definitely irritated my skin though, and I had to wash it off relatively soon after the festivities started.

But it was definitely worth the trip, and 5 hour bus rides. I met some awesome people, and had a blast. I can’t wait until my next trip! Or for warmer weather so that I can go back to Busan and be a beach bum for a day.