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

Mesmerised by Munich

View of Frauenkirche

I had fallen in love with the idea of travelling after my spontaneous, first solo trip to Prague. The study semester had begun by the start of October and I was up to my elbows in architecture projects, assignments and tests at the Fachhochschule Mainz (Technical College) in Germany. I knew that in order to get the most out of my study abroad program I would have to find a balance between study commitments and travel, something that I found hard to do given the “Joey Potter” style of dedication I took to my education! I found out that one of my favourite singer-songwriters was performing in Munich in November and began looking at accommodation options and tickets to his show.

My family always jokes about me being the ambitious go-getter, the sort of person that cannot get rid of an idea once it’s planted firmly in her head and someone who follows through with anything she sets her mind to. I look at it as one of my biggest strengths. Without ambition I wouldn’t have become an international exchange student in the first place, nor would I have lived in London for 2 years or even started my own stationery label. Long story short, I found cheap hostel accommodation in the heart of Munich for two nights, bought one ticket for the concert and since I was going all the way to southern Germany, I even booked a trip to the beautiful, neighbouring city of Salzburg, Austria for a day trip!

My story continues in the Bavarian capital. I caught a morning train from Mainz to Frankfurt and from there took another high-speed train to Munich, whizzing past idyllic German villages and picture-perfect sceneries. It was a dull and rainy day unfortunately and it was quite cold in mid-November. I checked-in to my hostel and began exploring the city immediately. Munich was such a comfortable city to explore on foot, but the rain however was making it extremely difficult to enjoy what I was seeing. So at every opportunity I went inside shops, cafes and churches to stay warm and dry. The churches in Munich were incredible. From the Late Baroque style of the Asamkirche to the Italian Baroque style of the Theatinerkircher and the iconic Frauenkirche with its late Gothic interior style, Munich’s churches left me speechless. I spent the rest of the day wandering through their main square Marienplatz, home to the New City Hall, Fish Fountain, column of St. Mary and the Old Town Hall. My favourite part was how everyone’s mood instantly became uplifted upon the theatrical Glockenspiel striking midday, with music and small dancing figurines taking us back to our childhoods if only for a moment.

I stopped by a small cafe to grab a bite before returning to my hostel room and getting ready for my night out. I caught the tram to my destination and stood in the crowd waiting for the show to start. The support act was Jack Savoretti, a person whom I’d never heard of before that night and someone whom I began to admire from that night forward. He captivated me and the entire audience with his soulful innocence and charm, with melodies that took us to another universe. Readers of my blog would know that Jack and I have gone on quite a journey since that cold night in Munich, as I made sure that during my time in London I would go and see more of his shows whenever I could.

Then Gavin DeGraw took to the stage and astounded his fans by how down-to-earth he was and the incredible range of his vocals. Of course being a major One Tree Hill fan I was pleased when he performed the show’s theme song “I don’t want to be” and the majority of songs from his album Chariot. It was a brilliant gig and I’m so delighted that I attended it despite being slightly petrified that I was in a cold, wet and dark city all by myself.

The next day I visited Salzburg but we’ll leave that for the next blog post. On my third day, the weather had improved and there were blue skies all day long. I decided to enter the world-famous Hofbräuhaus, one of Munich’s oldest beer halls. Their clientèle included the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush to name a few. I tried their famous white sausage with pretzel and drunk about 1/5th of my glass of beer. Feeling adventurous, I decided to climb a narrow, dark tower of St. Peter’s Church to the viewing platform on the top floor. From there I could see the entire city clear as crystal but unfortunately the Alps were not to be seen that day. The next morning I set of for Salzburg but we’ll leave that for another blog post.

Visitors to Southern Germany should definitely try to visit Munich if at least for one day, as it’s full of hidden churches, history, Bavarian culture, beautiful architecture and interesting people with stories to tell.

Travel

Ich liebe Germany!

Hi friends,

As you may have heard I will be sharing my travel photos with you in 4 separate postings, arranged in the order I visited each country. You’ll be able to virtually go to Germany, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland right here on Graceful Avenue’s blog!

I absolutely love travelling. There is something so enticing about wandering through unfamiliar cities, discovering interesting architecture, tasting new cuisines and hearing different languages. I can’t imagine my life without travel and photography, I would be so lost without these two activities, you just cannot imagine.

So here’s a bit of light reading for you. My sister and I travelled to Berlin from London one cold afternoon. After landing we were surprised by just how freezing cold it still was in Germany in the middle of March. We knew it would be cold, but I did not expect it to be that cold. Temperatures were barely in the positives and usually just hovered at around the zero degree mark. Just like much of Europe this winter, Berlin was completely covered in snow and the icy air blowing straight into my face was a far from ideal beginning to our sisterly bonding holiday. Nonetheless, Germany never seizes to impress and walking the streets of Berlin, I could sense its history and feel its pain from the two World Wars with all my senses. It felt extremely surreal to come face to face with the Berlin Wall. I couldn’t imagine how people lived with it prior to its collapse in 1989. Everywhere I went in Berlin I felt a very strong sense of history, whether it was at the Jewish Museum or in front of the Brandenburg Gate or knowing that where I’m standing now was most likely not existent in the past. The Potsdamer Platz is an example of this after it was completely destroyed in World War II. So all in all, Berlin was beautiful, freezing and quite interesting to walk around but I think one visit there is quite enough for me.

Next we headed to Frankfurt and then to Mainz. Having been to both of these places before everything remained virtually unchanged in my eyes. Returning to Mainz four years after leaving it was a very surreal experience. I spent 6 months studying there as an exchange student at quite a young age and this time I had a great day showing my sister around my old apartment block, my favourite shops, my old university and around the beautiful Rhine river. If I had the chance to do that day trip all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. I just wish we had a bit more time in a city that I will forever hold dear to my heart.

So without further ado here are my photos of Germany, enjoy and please comment!