Life is finally getting back to normal – of course, that depends on how you measure normal or define it. I think it is amazing how we get so wrapped up in how busy we are, that we do much of what we do without really thinking about it. Getting the mail or watering the plants, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc, etc, etc. After being gone for an entire month it astonished me how much work I had to catch up on that normally didn’t phase me. In the end, it is finally all done and life is going on like clockwork (I just wish those dishes would do themselves…).
Now back to the fun stuff, what I really want to write about. In this post I am going to write just a tidbit about each place and then let the pictures do the talking.
We left San Diego on August 7th. The bags were packed, the itinerary planned, this was the day that we leave for Europe. After flying via LAX, we landed at Stockholm Arlanda at 10am, grabbed the bags and took the express train to Stockholm.
Stockholm is a gorgeous city. Lake. Sea. Islands. I fell in love with Stockholm; and I think Sweden for that matter. It probably wasn’t just the perfect combination of cityscape and nature that got to me, maybe it was also the fact that I filled up to my hearts content with cinnamon rolls and meatballs. Highlights include Gamla Stan (the Old City), the Vasa Museum, the ABBA Museum, Stadshuset (City Hall), day-trips to Uppsala and Mariefred. I truly believe Sweden is one of those countries that has something to offer everyone; whether it be a foodie, history buff, ABBA fan (or fan of music in general, fashionista, someone outdoorsy. The list could go on and on – but I think it holds true – Sweden is dynamic and open for all.
- T-Shirt – J.Crew Garment Dyed
- Jeans – Abercrombie & Fitch Skinny Stretch
- Shoes – Superdry Low Pro (Purchased on asos.com)
- Bag – Tom Tailor Kentucky Messenger Bag
- Hooded Jacket Ultra Light Alternative Down – Save The Duck
After Stockholm, it was a five hour train journey to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Copenhagen was probably not given the time it deserved; planned only as a stopover on our way to Berlin. In my original plan Copenhagen/Denmark was getting a full three days. Nevertheless, for the little time it was given, Copenhagen delivered an array of things for us to do within brief stop. We of course saw The Little Mermaid, the Marble Church, Amalienborg Palace, colorful Nyhavn, Danish National Museum and lastly we ate at Ida Davidsen (famous for her exquisite open-faced sandwiches). In all honesty these are just a few of the highlights; our stopover was a full 24 hours of jam packed touring. Copenhagen surprised me in the sense that I didn’t expect more, and I didn’t expect less – it was just right (especially for a city in which I didn’t use public transport at all). My expectations and experience matched up and that made it very enjoyable.
We left Copenhagen for Berlin via ferry across the Fehmarn Belt and Hamburg. Have you ever been on a train that was loaded onto a ferry, cross the sea and then have the train drive off again?
Berlin – you either love it or hate it. I for one am in the gray zone on that one. We made room for three full days in Berlin before we’d spend the next two weeks in southern Germany. Like I said – for me it is a gray zone feeling on this city. On the one hand it has great history, food isn’t half bad, sightseeing overload, great public transport……but it’s also pretty gray. Compared to Hamburg or Munich (both of which I’m more fond of), Berlin just doesn’t live up to standards fully and it’s just not my kind of vibe. That being said Berlin is growing on me – those three days made a difference. We of course went to the top of the Fernsehturm, walked along the East Side Gallery of the Berlin wall, took in the government quarter of the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, etc, etc, etc. I had been to Berlin before, so for me much of this was a recap, but nonetheless enjoyable. I think however the one major transition for me was seeing “The One Grand Show” at the Friedrichstadt-Palast with costumes by the famous fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. This revue show changed my opinion of the city and I can see myself once again going to Berlin…maybe just not for a few years.
- Button Down Shirt: J.Crew Secret Wash Slim Fit
- Jeans: Jack & Jones Tim Fit
- Bag: Tom Tailor Kentucky Messenger Bag
- Shoes: Superdry Low Pro from asos.com
From Berlin, it was on to Munich and southern Germany.
Coming to this corner of the globe always feels like a homecoming. I get to see my family, my friends, and of course the beautiful city of Munich. It feels like a dream sometimes and you wake up at the airport and feel overwhelmed that you wish there was more time. This part of the trip was great as we spent two days with my family in the Black Forest, a day with my family in rural Bavaria, and I spent time with my aunt in Munich. I also met up with a friend of mine for lunch and caught up with each other after nearly 20 years! Some highlights also included a day trip to Neuschwanstein, sightseeing around Munich, and last but not least; all the amazing beer, pretzels, and Bavarian food I could eat for two weeks.
This week I’d like to focus on the task of downsizing. I think we all go through a phase where we have too much stuff and not enough space (or perhaps have filled that space with meaningless items); and then we begin to purge. Lately I’ve been thinking more about downsizing and how I want to get back to what is important.
Last week I went through my closet – which I’m sure you all can picture is set up like a temple. Everything has its place, matching wooden hangers, shoe boxes stacked to the ceiling, drawers meticulously hold folded sweaters, accessories and miscellaneous all neatly arranged. I realized two things while looking at what to keep and what to sell.
First I realized life is too short to wear anything that doesn’t fit properly (that eliminated a good chunk as I am a very slim guy – 5ft 8 / 115 lbs. / 26-inch waist). I’d been buying clothes for years that were a little too big because nobody in the industry sold slim extra-small dress shirts/t-shirts. Pants/jeans were far and few between because again the 26-inch waist wasn’t a thing until recently (and even then, getting a 32-inch length inseam combined with that is impossible). Once I eliminated what I didn’t wear, I realized that I was basically wearing the same pieces repeatedly – why? – because they were all slim/extra small or within my waist size and fit properly (thus I looked better in them). I held onto so much stuff purely because I spent money on it (way to drink the total Consumer Kool-Aid).
The epiphany I had was that I also needed to shop differently. I can still get a new piece here or there – but going forward it must fit properly – otherwise it’s a no.
The second major thing I noticed as I decluttered my sanctuary to the fashion gods, was that I double up and don’t wear something for fear of ruining it. I have two jackets that are almost identical (but different price points; one cost double than the other) – which do you think I wear more? It’s something I need to acknowledge because going forward I need to be more aware of what I’m buying, and I need to lose the fear of wearing something just because it was more expensive.
After finally rummaging through my closet and reaching the back wall, I started looking around at the rest of my apartment. When you take the time, you notice everything you are not actually using and it begins to feel like you are empowered to change it. I had a stack of pillows that needed new shams – they are finally getting onto the couch. Old laptops that needed to be recycled over a year ago – gone. So much that could be used or perhaps should have never been purchased in the first place – it was a relief to go through and re-evaluate everything.
Some items will be donated, some sold; and others recycled; in the end, life is going to hopefully get much simpler.
What is cluttering your life? What could you do without? Is your closet on the verge of exploding because it is packed to the walls?
Scarf from Vienna: Bonita Men .
View of the Stephansdom and the Innere Stadt from the Riesenrad at the Prater.
UNO City – United Nations – Vienna International Center from the Riesenrad.
Stephansdom – at the heart of Vienna.
Up close look of Stephansdom tiled roof.
Expanse of Vienna from the Stephansdom. The Hofburg and Spanish Riding School are middle center/right; home of course to the Hapsburg empire and the world famous Lipizzaner horses . In the background we can see the rolling hills of the the Vienna Woods.
Cafe Hawelka (Official Website below)
Since re-affirming my goal of one post per week, I’ve been thinking about why I started this blog to begin with. All this contemplation has brought me back to this thought…before the blue bow tie there was a scarf from Vienna…
During a short visit to Vienna, Austria in 2011, I found (without realizing it) my first tangible idea of mixing my travel memories with fashion. On my way back to Pension Hargita, where I had booked a room for my three night stay, I glanced in the window of a chain store called Bonita Men located on Mariahilfer Strasse. This bustling thoroughfare is a well-known shopping area in Vienna, and since it was getting a bit chilly being November, I thought I’d stop in to escape the cold and the crowd. All the way back on the furthest wall was a shelf of wool scarves, with all sorts of vertical striped patterns. One in particular kept sticking out at me. It was red, white, brown, and orange. As I stood there I thought, red and white – the Austrian flag, brown and orange – autumn/November. What a perfect piece to remind me of this day in Wien (Vienna). It is one of my most commented on pieces to this day, and its story is one of my favorites. I hadn’t yet realized that I was collecting my memories in pieces; however, it was in a sense a foreshadowing of the bow tie and everything else to come.
As a self-described travel addict, I find throughout my apartment all these little reminders of the places I’ve been, the memories I’ve made. It always makes me laugh a little that the most common things we use on a day to day basis are attached with the most array of emotions. A coffee cup from Hamburg, a scarf from Vienna, leather shoes from Paris – each serves a purpose, a function – and yet there is more to it than just a vessel to drink from, a bit of added warmth on a chilly day, a piece of tread between our feet and the ground. What these items contain or are made up from is more than just clay, wool or leather; it is also memories, moments in time. I drink from my Hamburg coffee cup I think of my friend Martin, we were one of the first million visitors to the Elbphilharmonie after being only open for 111 days (opened November of 2016 – we visited in early February 2017). I put on my leather shoes and I am with my aunt and cousin; shopping along the Rue du Commerce just a stone throw away from the Eifel Tower. I wrap the scarf around my neck; Café Hawelka, Stephansdom, the Prater, and Schönbrunn – all feel so near, yet it was 6 years ago.
Think about your travel mementos and memories… what comes to mind?
Scarf from Vienna: Bonita Men
Trip to Vienna November 2011
To the people of Southern California this winter season has brought a generous amount of rain – and it has been well received. Following years of drought, California has now received enough rain to fill her reservoirs and have water to spare – relieving much of the state from severe drought conditions. Another added benefit of all that rain combined with the many days of sunshine is the super-blooms seen across many deserts in the state. Anzo-Borrego State Park had people literally lining up to see the epic super-bloom that has lasted from the end of February and into March.
Glasses: Ted Baker
Button Down: J.Crew
Jeans: Tom Tailor Denim
Having moved recently to the San Diego area from the Upper Midwest, I sometimes find it to be extremely difficult to be in this new place I call “home”. I like having four distinct seasons, I love having lush greenery and placid lakes around me, and I miss the slower paced life that was my hometown and surrounding state of Wisconsin. Oddly enough I never really think of the United States or American as my nationality and always seem to run away from being the typical American.
I am as I’ve mentioned a traveler; and anybody who can relate, all share the standard trait of wanderlust. I used to travel on average once a year to Europe, and this year I had to cancel my pre-booked trip a week before departure due to moving to California (ugh the disappointment).
So what does this all have to do with San Diego and this supposed façade? Well, when you not only have to cancel a vacation to a place where you feel most comfortable, and you leave your hometown and state, you are no longer surrounded with landscapes that you enjoy; the place you move to becomes your enemy and you no longer find it appealing. It seemed to me that everyone believed that San Diego is a piece of some glamorous SoCal life. In my mind I thought that this place was filled with people who are too busy and self-obsessed, the lifestyle is super exaggerated and overrated (and horribly expensive), the landscape is boring and brown (the palm trees are awesome I will say) and that I couldn’t come to terms with calling this place “my home”. How could I relate to a place that I quietly disdained because of inner bias and judgement?
It finally came to me this weekend while at Balboa Park; and it seems to me that the façade I had placed on San Diego has been lifted. I realized that it is going to take more time to meet people and form bonds here, after all it is a huge city and I came from a town of 3,600. Second, the weather is great (still finding it hard to accept no snow or cold in November and onward through winter). Lastly, has anyone ever been to Nice, France? What about Valencia, Spain? It took some actual looking around for me to realize that I am living a semi-European life right here in Southern California. Take a moment to Google images of Nice and Valencia, and you will see a lot of similarities with San Diego. This is by no means a substitute for going abroad; if you are however trying to give a new place a chance and are struggling, then seeing the similarities to other places you would enjoy can help. Now mind you the south of France is probably just as expensive as SoCal, but it was a mindset that I would love to go there, but I’m living it right here and now. If I could accept the south of France so easily, well then it could be twice as easy to accept Southern California.
Glasses: See Eyewear
Messenger Bag: Tom Tailor
Pants: Gap Skinny Khaki