Polaroid Of The Week: A Rare Sunny Autumn Day In Seattle

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa seattle gas works park viewsOh Seattle… I don’t even know where to start with you.

I wish I would’ve written this on Wednesday morning after my beautiful run through Seward Park with gorgeous views of Lake Washington in almost all directions (since the park sits on a peninsula). Wednesday morning was so nice that I thought to myself: ‘I’ll have to take half a day off and take advantage of this beautiful fall weather!’.

Well, while I was still researching things I could do outdoors that afternoon, the weather suddenly turned and it started pouring. And it hasn’t stopped since. I’ve seen more rain since I got here that I’ve seen in the entire previous nine months of 2016 combined! Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that I am a summer girl, a sun chaser.

I knew it was risky (weather-wise) to come to Seattle in October, but honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. A major storm is headed towards the Pacific Northwest now, expected to hit Saturday afternoon, and the dreadful weather is supposed to linger for at least another week.

Since I’ll have a visitor in town over the next few days and lots of outdoorsy activities planned, I can’t say that I’m too happy about all this rain (how is it possible to rain so much?!) but I hope we’ll find some stuff to keep us entertained, and luckily there are plenty of coffee shops to duck into, possibly my favorite thing about Seattle so far.

However, I have to say that every time the sun peeked out I liked what I saw of Seattle as I have been slowly exploring the various neighborhoods. I’ve seen Fremont (artsy and hip), Capitol Hill (Seattle’s gayborhood, but no Capitol to be found there), parts of downtown (pretty much like any North American downtown), Georgetown (Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, former industrial turning into up and coming chic), Columbia City (residential yet diverse, with lots of cute little eateries).

The views over Lake Washington, Puget Sound and Lake Union (pictured) are gorgeous when the sun is out, so I hope I’ll get to see more of these fabulous vistas before I leave Seattle.

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Polaroid Of The Week: Street Art In Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa california los angeles silver lake

While I admittedly didn’t get around to doing everything I had on my Los Angeles To-Do-List due to my tight work schedule this month, I managed to return to some of my favorite neighborhoods like Santa Monica Venice and West Hollywood,, but there was one neighborhood I really wanted to see before leaving LA: Silver Lake.

This neighborhood had been described to me as the Brooklyn of LA or the Williamsburg of LA, to be more precise And not only that Forbes Magazine even went as far as giving Silver Lake the top spot on its inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods and CNN Money followed by putting it in the Top Ten of its list of best big city neighborhoods in the U.S.

So of course I had to check this uber hip neighborhood for myself to see what all the fuss was about.

The stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs though Silver Lake felt indeed very Williamsburg-like, and just like the famous hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn, it is lined with trendy cafes, quirky independent shops and little eateries, and street art fills many a wall stretching into the side streets off of Sunset Blvd.

I couldn’t help but fling in love with silver like within fifteen minutes of getting there – this is definitely my kind of neighborhood! Unpretentious, with inventive yet affordable restaurants but also hole-in-the-wall Mexican street food, funky bars and shops that go beyond your usual chain stores: instead you find spice stores, comic book stores and guitar shops.

There are two basins – the neighborhood’s namesake Silver Lake Reservoir and the Ivanhoe Reservoir, both offering walking and running paths and a natural setting to escape the noise along the busy main streets. Speaking of walking: I found Silver Lake to be walkable and cycleable, something that can’t be said for all neighborhoods in this car traffic-heavy city.

I wish I would’ve had time to check out the bar scene on my visit but I guess it is good to have an excuse to come back to Silver Lake next time I’m in L.A.!


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Polaroid Of The Week: L.A. At My Feet

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa california hollywood sign los angeles

This week I finally made it up to the famous Hollywood sign – a hike that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. After two failed attempts (traffic, cloudy skies), I found myself scrambling up the rocks to a small hill above and behind the actual sign, which me and my hiking buddy reached after about an hour’s walk, just in time for a brilliant sunset. You can’t get to the sign by car, the only way to get up, close and personal with these giant white letters that have become an American icon, is on foot or by horse, and you can’t get in front of the letters, only above them.

Funnily enough, the sign didn’t have any association with the movie industry when it was put up in 1923. Instead, it was supposed to promote local real estate during a time when the Hollywood Hills weren’t the prime real estate location that they are today. Back then it still read Hollywoodland. After years of deterioration, Hugh Hefner started a fundraiser to save the sign, and $250,000 were raised to restore the sign that had fallen into disrepair.

It used to be a bit tricky to get up to the sign until a few years ago, unless you were a local and knew your way around. The Trust For Public Land, that is in charge of protecting the sign and the surrounding lands, has made it much easier now to find the right paths and not get lost in the relatively remote and rugged southern side of Mount Lee, on which the sign is located. There are now several hiking routes: the Mt Hollywood Trail (short and moderately difficult), the Canyon Drive Trail (longest route), and the Cahuenga Peak Trail (the shortest, but most challenging). We took a shorter version of the Mt Hollywood Trail, which can be started at the Griffith Observatory (3.5 miles round trip) or at Sunset Ranch at the northern end of N Beachwood Drive. The ranch offers guided horse rides up the sign, by the way.

The hike is pleasant, with sweeping views over parts of L.A., Glendale and The Valley from various viewpoints along the way – but the star of the show, the sign itself, stays out of sight for the most part. We started our hike at Sunset Ranch, but next time I’d start at the Griffith Observatory for a longer hike and better views of the sign itself.

When you get to the sign, the most astonishing thing is seeing how big these letters actually are: each letter is 45 feet tall (14 meters) and all of them next to each other are 350 feet (110 meters) long! My height compared to it: 5.8 feet.

If you’re thinking about climbing the security fences that fence off the sign, be warned: the charges are no joke. Trespassers face a $1000 fine, restitution to the City agencies involved in the trespasser’s arrest, a one-year probation period and 20 days on a Cal Trans highway crew.

You can find more information on the hikes to the Hollywood sign here.

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Polaroid Of The Week: Huntington Beach, California

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa california huntington beachI don’t know why, but I always seem to forget just how much I like California. My last visit wasn’t even that long ago – I spent a few days in Santa Monica last spring – but I’d forgotten again that every time I am here, I have an amazing time.

While I despise driving in L.A. (the massive highways and the traffic are just too much for me), I love driving along the coast. And so it was easy to pick the highlight of my time here (so far): a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway into Orange County. I drove the entire length of the PCH in 2010, starting in San Francisco, all the way down to San Diego, and to this day it is one of my favorite drives in the U.S.. I was stoked that I got to drive a stretch of it again last week.

When I drove the PCH the first time, I had just started blogging, and didn’t travel with a ‘blogger mind’ yet, meaning I wasn’t looking for scenic spots to stop at to take pictures, cute shops and cafes to recommend to my readers, or take the ridiculous amount of photos I am taking these days (because, you never know what you might need fifty different shots of seagulls for).

And the worst part: I put my SD card when it was full in the pocket of my jacket without storing the photos on it on my laptop or an external hard drive first. Of course I lost the damn card, and with it, hundreds of photos from our time in L.A. and along the PCH. Which is why the article in which we shared our Top Five Stops Along The Pacific Coast Highway From L.A. To Laguna Beach doesn’t have any photos, except for a mediocre iPhone shot of Venice Beach.

I was happy to be able to retake some of the photos I lost back in 2010, and – score! – with a much better camera than I had six years ago (check out these photos from our drive on the PCH and you’ll see what I mean – looking at these photos makes me cringe now!). Maybe I can finally fill that article with some pictures and update the information – and add some gems to it, like Huntington Beach, which was among my favorite stops on my road trip last week.. I am not sure how we completely ignored it the first time around.

While some things in the towns along the way changed – new coffee shops, new breweries, new restaurants – what hasn’t changed is the incredible natural beauty of Southern California. Driving along the Pacific reminded me once again just how much I like it here.

Have you been to California? What’s your favorite place?

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Polaroid Of The Week: Gregos Street Art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week new york city brooklyn williamsburg gregos street artMy last week in New York (for now) rolled around, and so I decided to take some time off and not hide behind my laptop the whole time, which is what I had done pretty much all month. Instead, I made time to hang out with friends and enjoyed a few more of my favorite summer activities in New York – cycling, sunset picnics, food markets and al fresco dinners (on a rooftop no less!). This year, I also got to kayak on the East River, something I’d been wanting to do for the past two summers. It was just as awesome as I expected it to be, and was a good reminder that I need to get into a kayak more often (the last time I was in a kayak was in May in Austin).

And I went on a street art walk in Williamsburg, hunting down some new graffiti pieces and murals, which I love doing, no matter if I’m in New York or in Bangkok or Buenos Aires. A highlight of that day was stumbling upon a Gregos face – exactly a month after stumbling upon one in Berlin. I was excited when I read in July on Gregos’ Facebook Page that he had just finished a project in NYC during which he plastered his face in 3D 74 times all over the city. I couldn’t wait to see some of them, but it took me nearly a month to spot one (and it should be the only one I got to see)! I’ve seen his faces (actually his very own face, always molded with varying expressions) in Berlin and London, and am hoping to find one in L.A. where I am right now.

The French street artist started his ‘face art’ in Paris, then plastered them all over cities across France, and finally ventured beyond his home country with stints in places like Japan, Malta, Brazil and Greece. Sometimes his faces are smiling, sometimes they’re sticking out their tongue, sometimes they look sad – and they’re always painted in different colors. Some are just glued onto a wall, others incorporate the surrounding wall into the piece, resulting in completely unique artwork. Check out the list of cities where you can find his faces (there are over 1,000 now) – maybe there’s one near you! If you spot one, share a photo of it on my Facebook Page 🙂

For a more detailed look at everything I got up to in August, check out my monthly round-up: Life Lately & Upcoming Travels; August 2016 Edition.

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Gulf County, Florida: The perfect vacation spot for adventurers and water sports enthusiasts (+giveaway!)

7 july kemptville ontario sunset

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gulf County Florida for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Everybody talks about the nightlife in Miami, Disneyworld in Orlando, the natural beauty of the Keys. What about Florida’s gulf coast though? That’s a side of the sunshine state that falls mainly under the radar, despite offering just as many exciting adventures as Florida’s Atlantic coastline has. And Gulf County isn’t just a summer destination: the prime season here is September through March. So if you’re thinking about taking a trip to Florida, why not consider the Gulf Coast?

Here are four things that make Florida’s Gulf County awesome:

244 miles of coastline

I bet you didn’t know that Gulf County has 244 miles of glorious coastline along the Florida panhandle. What’s different from other parts of Florida’s coast? Gulf County has remained its nature – there, you don’t find an aggressive invasion of nature like in Miami for example, where barely any nature is left. Instead of man-made, artificial beaches, you can still experience true nature, tranquility and the unspoiled ocean. The stunningly beautiful Cape San Blas is home to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, which was named the best beach in America a few years ago.

Water of all kinds

One thing that makes Gulf County special is that it has access to several bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico of course, the saltwater of St Joseph Bay, the Gulf County Canal, Apalachicola Bay and river basin, Indian Pass Lagoon, and the freshwater of Chipola River and the Dead Lakes. These waters are all connected and give nature lovers access to untouched nature and wildlife – bird watching, fishing, hiking the nature trails and ecotouring is possible in all of those places. If you are more adventurous, then you’ll like:


Adventure activities

No matter what water sports you’re into, you can enjoy it in Gulf County: boating, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, diving, kayaking.. you name it! And the best part? In Gulf County, you’re never further away than 15 minutes from any of those activities. How cool is that?! Another big plus: since all of the activities are nature based, they’re never the same. Take stand up paddling for example: one day you might see herons on the shore, the next day you go out on a stand up paddle board, you might see sea turtles!

Amazing wildlife

Not only is Gulf County home to 40% of the sea turtle population of Florida’s Gulf Coast, but it is also a paradise for bird watchers, and if you’re lucky you can spot alligators, Florida panthers, tortoises, bobcats and eagles. You can even see rare Red Wolves (an endangered species) on St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is a 12,300 acre undeveloped barrier island – wildlife lovers have to visit this unspoiled little island.

Which adventures I’d love to try in Gulf County

After looking through the Adventure Guide on the Gulf County website, my interest was piqued the most by these activities:

1) Stand-up paddling

I’ve only tried it on a river, and I am keen on trying it out in the open water. I think the Gulf Of Mexico would be perfect with calmer waters than the Atlantic, for example. Added bonus: the stunning surrounding scenery!


2) Snorkeling

I love snorkeling and I have gone on snorkeling trips all over the world – never in the U.S., however! This needs to be changed as soon as possible, and the clear waters of Gulf County wouldn’t only allow me to marvel at colorful fish but also at sea turtles! The best!

3) Sailing

I’ve always wanted to go on a sailing trip, maybe even sail around the world – but of course I have to try it out first and see if I like it! Sailing into the sunset off the coast of Florida seems magical to me, and I could sail to the St. Vincent Island with its famous Wildlife Refuge.


Plan a vacation in Gulf County

If you’re looking to visit Gulf County, it is super easy to plan your vacation – check out the Gulf County Adventure Guide to get an idea for all the activities you can do there!  With the personalized Gulf County Concierge Program you can even pick three adventures you have never tried!  

Giveaway: Win a $50 AMEX gift card

All you need to do to enter this giveaway: Tell me what you’d like to do in Gulf County! Kayak? Hike? Bird watch? Simply enjoy the beaches?



One winner, chosen at random from all eligible entries received, will receive a $50 AmEx gift card, and will be announced on or about 10 days after end of entry period. Entrants may enter within 21 days of this post going live. Must be a resident of one of the 48 contiguous United States (excl. PR, HI, AK) the age of majority in his or her jurisdiction at time of entry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Sweepstakes is sponsored by Gulf County. 


Visit Sponsors Site

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Polaroid Of The Week: Cheers To Summer In New York City

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week new york city central park sunsetThis past week was all about Central Park! I was staying a couple of blocks away from New York’s largest (and most famous) park, and so I ended up there for one reason or another every single day. There were runs in the park (it was Central Park, by the way, where I became a serious runner and finished my first race in 2010), several writing sessions on a blanket in the sun (those are the times when i love being a freelancer), a picnic and tour of the park which I shared on Snapchat (my ID is mariposa2711) and, pictured above, an epic sunset session with cheese and wine, a game of boule and a catch-up with my fellow travel bloggers Caroline and Kristin.

As much as I love Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park, close to which I’m usually staying, the majestic feel of Central Park is just unrivaled: The views over Manhattan’s skyscrapers from the rocks or from Sheep Meadow (best enjoyed with a cookie from Levain Bakery on 74th and a coffee from Le Pain Quotidienne inside the park, just behind Sheep Meadow), Belvedere Castle and the nearby Shakespeare Garden, the Conservatory Flower Garden, the many lakes and ponds, (including the turtle-filled and aptly named Turtle Pond, my favorite!), hidden waterfalls, the symmetry of the Mall and Bethesda Terrace with its gorgeous tile work. Of course Prospect Park has similar things to offer, the beautiful boathouse for example, the wilderness trails that are not unlike Central Park’s northern forest, an ice rink, but if I had to pick a favorite, Central Park would win!

Have you been to both parks? Which one is your favorite?

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Polaroid of the week: Outdoor cinema in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week new york city brooklyn bridge park outdoor movie

Click here for the soundtrack to this post 🙂

The past week has been all about work; the most I got to see of New York was during my runs: Brooklyn Bridge Park with its stunning Manhattan views, across the Brooklyn Bridge (with even better views), the lovely Red Hook neighborhood with its pier and great vistas of the Statue Of Liberty, running in Riverside Park alongside Hudson River and in Central Park. I took a break on Thursday to finally enjoy an outdoor movie – one of the 28 things I love about summer in New York City are the free outdoor movies all over the city – and couldn’t have chosen a better time for a break away from my laptop: a beautiful summer night, A League Of Their Own, good company, a lovely picnic and watching the sunset over the Manhattan skyline.

That night was a nice walk down memory lane in three different ways: This Used To Be My Playground, the theme song of the movie, was the first Madonna song that really got me hooked on her music (I liked her 80s stuff, but it was a bit too pop-y for me), and was the song that started her ‘ballad phase’ – over the next couple of years, she would release some of my all-time Madonna songs, like Rain, Secret, I’ll Remember, Take A Bow, and finally You’ll See, which might be my all-time favorite song of hers.

The other way related to the movie that I was strolling down memory lane: Some of the baseball scenes were filmed in Wrigley Field, Chicago’s famous baseball stadium which dates back to 1914 and is one of the oldest baseball parks in the U.S., which is why it was a perfect location for the movie which was set in the 1940s. I was lucky enough to watch a couple of games there during my visits to Chicago and even though I’ve been struggling to understand the game ever since I watched my first one in the suburbs of Chicago nearly ten years ago, I’ve always enjoyed being in the ballpark, taking in the cheery atmosphere of what is for me as a European a quintessential American experience, munching on peanuts and cheap nachos.

And last but not least: A couple of summers ago, I had one of the best dates nights of my life while watching an outdoor movie, and thinking back on it still puts a smile on my face.

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Polaroid Of The Week: Feelin’ beachy in New York

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week new york riis beachThis week was all about beaches – simply because it is too hot to do anything else! New York is suffering from / enjoying a heatwave – the perspective depends on who you ask, I guess, but I might be the only one who’d say this is enjoyable, and admittedly, it has been a little too hot even for my taste.

Working two jobs at the moment means I didn’t have much time to explore this week, but I managed to visit three different beaches: the small beach in Red Hook, just a short drive from where I’m staying, which is the perfect place to let my pup cool off in the water for a while, and Riis Beach in the Rockaways, where I’d been wanting to go for a long time (I’ve been to the Rockaways before, but only to another part of the beach there).

And my beachy highlight this week: Fire Island! This 32-mile-long, ¼-mile wide  strip of sand (the longest of four barrier islands that protect the South Shore of Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean) had been on my travel wish list for the past two summers, but somehow I never made it out there (it takes about 2.5 hours incl car & ferry ride to get there from NYC). But this week, there was the perfect opportunity to finally get my a** over to the island when a friend celebrated her birthday there. It was just a quick teaser and I didn’t get to experience any of the gay night life that Fire Island is famous for, which means I have to return soon, I guess! But the quick visit did definitely whet my appetite for more  – it was the perfect city break, and I didn’t even bring my laptop over there, which means it almost felt like a vacation to me.

If New York stays as sweltering hot as it’s been these past few days, I might need to plan another beach getaway for next week…

Newsletter subscribers: I sent out the summer edition of my Beyond the Blog newsletter last week – if you haven’t seen it in your inbox, make sure to check your spam folder. I’ve got some exclusive giveaways for newsletter subscribers which you can still enter. (If you’d like to subscribe, you can do that here)

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Polaroid Of The Week: Performance Art On Governors Island, New York

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week new york city governors islandAnd just like that, two months in Europe are over and I am finding myself back in New York. As always, it felt like I had never left and I picked up right where I had left off when I said Au Revoir to New York in early June. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back in what is undoubtedly the greatest city in the world, and I started August off with a trip to Governors Island.

What was supposed to be a beachy afternoon turned into more of an entertainment trip when the beach bar I was hoping to sip a cold beverage in was closed, but we caught a compelling show by the Polish theater group PEREGRINUS instead, which involved acting, dancing of the fantastic performers, and even participating myself. The Manhattan skyline formed a picture-perfect backdrop to the performance (which got us excited for the NYC Fringe Festival later this month!) and to a relaxing day in the sun – much needed after the lackluster summer in Germany.

I am excited to be able to enjoy all the things this month that make NYC so great in the summer – open air movies, food markets and street fairs, beach time, rooftop drinks and picnics in the park. Stay tuned for more – and if you happen to be in NYC this month, let me know!

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