Travel

Travel Souvenirs

magnets

If I could have it my way I would never stop travelling. Being a 19-year-old student on exchange in Germany really ignited this passion I have for discovering new countries and experiencing different cultures. I cannot be more thankful for having had that opportunity in my youth. Now, eight years on I decided to capture some snapshots of the sort of travel souvenirs I brought back home with me and have created a physical photobook of these and more.

I always try to buy a magnet from the cities I visit and now the fridge is decorated in colourful little fragments of my adventures abroad. I always try to send a postcard home also as there’s something really satisfying about finding an old postcard from a beautiful city you’ve visited years ago, with your handwriting on the back describing that place and a nostalgic stamp in the corner. I love snail-mail!

For this post I’d like to share with you some of the things I have bought from various countries that I’ve visited. Please feel free to leave comments about the sort of things you like to bring back from your holidays.

amsterdamclogs

Dutch Clogs – Amsterdam

I remember the day perfectly. It was February of 2009 and it had just started to snow on the canal-lined streets of the Dutch capital. I was walking along a street that led straight to the main train station when I saw this large souvenir shop. It was every tourist’s haven! I picked up these symbols of Holland to always remember my visit by. They’re only miniature as actual clogs would never have fit in my suitcase after 8 months of life abroad!

mainzelmannchen

Mainzelmännchen from Germany

The city where I studied on exchange was Mainz and I couldn’t come home without the symbol of this charming city on the Rhein – Mainzelmännchen. They are the symbol of the ZDF broadcasting company located in Mainz. I’ve got my extra Euro coins in there now!

mozartfigurine

Mozart Figurine – Salzburg

I was in Salzburg on a day-trip from Munich. It was winter so it was dark by around 4pm. I remember being so scared about being all alone in a foreign city as night fell but still had some time before my train departed back to Germany. I found this tiny shop to kill time at and couldn’t resist buying the symbol of Salzburg in his birthplace, just a 5-minute walk from the building he lived in. This small figurine of Mozart is one of my favourite souvenirs to date.

portofinonecklace

Portofino, Italy

I remember being in such a hurry that day because I was confined by time to get on my booked train back to Pisa, where I’d be staying. I probably spent about 2 hours in Portofino altogether but every single second was worth it. This place was a dream come true and an adventure I’ll never forget. I entered a small gift shop in the main square, where all the buildings are colourful and the millionaire yachts dock, and bought this shell necklace to wear and think about my whirlwind trip to this beautiful part of Italy.

praguedoll

Adorable Doll – Prague

My first trip out of Germany was to the beautiful Czech capital, Prague. I had always wanted to go there and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I found this beautiful doll in a gift shop just behind the castle on the hill of Old Town. Prague was magical to me.

venetianmask

Venetian Mask – Italy

The memory I have about this mask is that after buying it, dad and I went on a photoshoot around Venice with me wearing the mask and posing in all sorts of silly ways. This was one of my big purchases and even though it cracked a little on the way to Melbourne, I’m so glad to own it.

frenchsouvenirs

Collections from the French Riviera 

My dad, sister and I were holidaying in the south of France back in the summer of 2012. When I saw the notebook with the three roosters arguing I just knew I had to buy it. We didn’t argue with each other, mind you, but we all had different plans for our 10-day stay. The little lavender doll I bought in the perfume capital of Grasse when I visited there all by myself and the mini duck statuette was from a beautiful homewares shop in sunny Cannes. Until this day I have no idea what it actually says on it in French!

barcelonacandies

Candy Box – Barcelona

I spent many amazing days in Barcelona and have since longed to go back pretty much on a daily basis! I bought this candy box from the Sagrada Familia gift shop after having just been inside what can only be described as one of the most awe-inspiring interiors of my life. The candies were absolutely delicious too and I wish I could have written down their name before devouring them in front of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.

londonangel

Guardian Angel – London

When I travelled back to Europe in 2011 to live in London for two years I never thought I’d miss home as much as I did. I found this precious angel at a Wilkinson’s in Watford, where I lived, and sent it home to Mum during Christmas time. My family hung it up on the tree. Nowadays, we always bring her out during the holidays, hang her on our tree and I get emotional every time I look at her because in this small figurine lies a story. My travel story.

Travel

Wandering through Strasbourg

As an Interior Design exchange student I didn’t have a lot of time for solo travelling during the study semester. I was on campus on most days of the week, listening to class lectures in German and English, and each day I would take the bus home with all my groceries and books, cook myself a simple dinner (usually pasta!) and do my homework or prepare for tests or assessments.

Thankfully during the semester the university would organise some really great, inexpensive day trips or overnight stays in neighbouring countries to encourage networking and broadening of our minds. It was so exciting to just forget about the overflowing workload on my desk and explore a new place, clear my head, indulge in photography, and try a new cuisine and a new culture. We’d all get on a bus and go on excursions to places such as design exhibitions in small Belgian towns, or the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein near the Swiss border with Germany or for one of our assessments we’d get involved in the design of our very own exhibition stand at the International Furniture Fair in Cologne, a short train ride away from my university in Mainz. All these experiences were amazing and gave students a deeper understanding of interior design and architecture practices in the real world.

I began to eagerly plan my own solo trips once the semester ended. I had an insane amount of wanderlust and yearned to see more and more countries around me. So I bought a train ticket from the station, organised a hotel for two nights and ended up in the most picture-perfect French city known as Strasbourg.

Buildings

Much to my dismay, not everything went smoothly. For starters it was raining and it was a Saturday morning in winter and that made getting out of bed hard and getting to the train station even harder as buses were scarce. Somehow I managed though and a few train changes later I was no longer in Germany, but now in France.

Tourist Area

Strasbourg was a very empty city that February. I had seen images of its main square so alive during Christmas time and I’d also seen the flowers blooming in gorgeous half-timbered cottage windows in summer, but unfortunately that winter it was just that little bit quieter and colder! If it hadn’t been for the university program organising a tour to Strasbourg that I missed due to my study load, I probably would never have even thought of visiting this magnificently enchanting city but I was really eager to see what my classmates got to experience. Sometimes that’s all the inspiration we need to see a new place!

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region in France and lies near the border with Germany. It is home to the European Parliament with its ultra modern façade, and was once also home to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing, who was ironically born in Mainz! An entire square called Place Gutenberg is dedicated to him and a statue stands there in his honour. The elaborate gothic red sandstone Strasbourg Cathedral is located at the heart of the city and is one of the main attractions for visitors. My favourite place to explore was Petite-France, where the river Ill splits up into a number of canals and stunning half-timbered medieval houses provide the most romantic of backdrops. Strasbourg was indeed the most brilliant of destinations for a weekend away and in my opinion it’s a little gem of a city that needs to be seen in all its glory, no matter the season.

Gorgeous Buildings

Half-Timbered Buildings

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Travel

French Riviera (Part 2)

I have to admit that sitting here on a freezing Melbourne evening, sipping a hot cup of green tea and writing this post truly makes me wish I was back in the French Riviera again. It was July 23rd, 2012 when my sister, dad and I flew to Nice and began one of the best holidays of our lives. For those of you that missed Part 1 of my French Riviera travel post you can read it here.

Prior to the trip I did a lot of research about where to go and what to see in the French Riviera in 10 days. I wrote page after page worth of notes and took these to my sister for her opinion and input. She said, “Whoa, you want to see all that?” and my response was… “Definitely.” I’m proud to say that we managed to accomplish the majority of the places on that list, even though it was the middle of a very hot summer.

Monaco

My trip to Monaco would definitely be a highlight. We entered the Royal Palace where Princess Grace once lived and also found ourselves in the playground of the rich and the famous at Monte Carlo’s world-famous casino. The views of the harbour-side, with mountains in the background certainly made a great impression on me.

St Paul de Vence Gallery

St. Paul de Vence resonated with us all for its typical French village atmosphere and relaxed medieval vibe. With lots of galleries and small boutiques, it was certainly a charming place to spend a few hours.

Cannes: Stallone's hand

All of us really loved Cannes! Every year in May the Cannes Film Festival draws in the crowds and the celebrities and from the minute we got there we could see why! It had such a lively atmosphere, yet it felt smaller than Nice and had some wonderful sandy beaches. It was great fun to cross the Walk of Fame and see the hand-prints of stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie and others. I’d love to return to Cannes and stay there a few nights because it left me wanting more after we got on the bus back to Nice.

Grasse buildings

Next we visited Grasse, the perfume capital of the world! With such perfumeries as Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard, you’re spoilt for choice with a plethora of enticing scents. I took a small group tour of Fragonard and was shown the entire process of how their perfumes are made. On the streets of Grasse, I was amazed to see a really unique sprinkler system where periodically a small burst of water was released from above to cool everyone down! Grasse is also the death place of legendary French singer, Edith Piaf.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

We visited two wonderful villas located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The first was the villa of Ephrussi de Rothschild, the daughter of prominent banker and art collector Baron Alphonse de Rothschild. The stunning pink façade, somewhat resembling a doll’s house, was tastefully decorated inside and we could tell that no expense was spared. Outdoors there were musical fountains, a vast amount of different gardens (i.e Japanese Gardens, Italian Gardens) and fantastic views of the second villa, the Greek Villa Kerylos. I loved them both!

Menton view

Last but not least, the beautiful town of Menton, located just shy of the French border with Italy, really gave us some breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

The French Riviera is breathtaking and I hope, through my photographs and stories, that I’ve ignited your curiosity for this wonderful part of the world. I leave you with my impressions of these quaint French villages, some by the Mediterranean sea and some deep in the French countryside.

Travel

French Riviera (Part 1)

Two years ago I was very fortunate to travel to the beautiful south of France and spend ten of the most memorable days enjoying the hot summer along the Mediterranean Sea. Dad, my sister and I flew into Nice Airport from London Luton, a journey that took only a few hours. We were all extremely excited to finally be in the French Riviera; the sort of place where dreams come true, where famous movie stars once lived, where artists like Picasso and Matisse painted their masterpieces and a place we’ve grown to love wholeheartedly from the moment we got off the plane.

My dad’s friend and his family were also on vacation in Nice at that time and he was kind enough to give us a lift to our place of accommodation, a studio apartment in one of the most beautiful places I have ever called home – Villefranche-sur-Mer. Our journey on the road passed the infamous Negresco Hotel to our left and the most incredibly clear, sparkling, turquoise waters of the cote d’azur to our right. We were in heaven. Dad’s friend had such a sense of humour that we were laughing uncontrollably in the car and this made the trip that much more enjoyable.

When we got slightly lost and didn’t know the exact whereabouts of the apartment we were staying at, we parked the car along the road, everybody exited the vehicle and we were all left speechless by the view before us. What a welcome!

Villefranche at first sight

It became difficult not to fall head over heels in love with Villefranche immediately. In the distance we could see yellow and terracotta-coloured buildings with light blue shutters in the windows, white yachts docked on the harbour and an amazing array of hills in the background. It was like something straight out of a painting and quite frankly it felt just as surreal. It was one of those “pinch me, are we really here” moments.

Eventually we located our apartment, turned the key and we were home. Feeling slightly exhausted but so thrilled at the same time we became acquainted with our new living arrangements. The space was a large rectangular room that was cleverly divided into two levels at the far end, where my sister and I had single beds on the second floor mezzanine, while dad had his own room below. The common living room had a dining table, sofa and TV, while the small bathroom and even smaller kitchen led off from there. The space was cosy and the view from the only window in the apartment immediately reminded me of the beautiful Portofino (Italy) that I visited one month earlier. There was something about those terracotta colours and shutters that felt so Italian to me! With the only breeze and ventilation coming from the large window all the way at the other end of the apartment, it was difficult to fall asleep at night and in the morning the bells from the nearby Chapel of St Pierre would ring at 7am! We didn’t mind though, we survived without air-conditioning and without knowing any French.

Villefranche Our Street

In the mornings we would wake up and go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea before it got too hot. I remember it perfectly! We would pack some fruits in our picnic basket and take our beach umbrella to sit in the shade on the soft small pebbles that were plentiful near the water and all around. I loved Nice of course too, for its cosmopolitan and lively vibe on the streets, its incredible food market and all the connections to art, history and film culture that it possesses. From Nice we ventured to lots of other beautiful towns, which I’ll share with you in Part 2.

Our faces still light up whenever we think of the incredible places we’ve seen, the lovely locals we met, the food we ate, the memories we’ve shared and the moments that took our breath away. The French Riviera is a must-visit destination and even after you’ve gone there once, it will draw you in again and again.

 

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“Feeling the Heartbeat of Paris”

Last November I was fortunate enough to visit Paris, France. The 8 days I spent there were then transformed into a publication called “Feeling the Heartbeat of Paris”. This magazine showcases what I saw, where I went, my thoughts and feelings in one of the most romantic cities in the world. My photographs, words and illustrations help bring Paris to life like never before. I’m super proud of this magazine and would love you all to read it and experience the wonder of Paris for yourselves.

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