Things have been so hectic that only now I can find the time to go through the pictures I took on this amazing trip. Starting on 17 May, I spent a month travelling down along the east coast of the United States, together with a friend. We visited New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charleston, Charlotte and New Orleans. I was especially thrilled to visit New Orleans; it had been on my bucket list for a long time. Also, while in New York we took a trip to Asbury Park, N.J., which was just a few hours by train away from the Big Apple. It was a small pilgrimage to the neighbourhood of one of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen, who grew up around there and launched his career from the Asbury Park boardwalk.
Last summer I passed through Wales on my way to England, stopping at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival to meet up with some of my former colleagues from the publishing house where I did my internship. What a welcoming sight the rolling green hills presented while the plane touched down at Cardiff Airport, and how heartening to see the words Croeso y Cymru (“welcome to Wales”) emblazoned on the walls in the arrivals hall! I was so happy to be back then, even if just for a day or two, and even now I often think back to the time when rambling through the beautiful Welsh landscape with just my camera and a packed lunch was my go-to activity on weekends. During my stay in Swansea in 2016, my mother and her partner visited me and together we went on a week-long tour of the south of Wales, passing through Carmarthenshire on our way to Pembrokeshire and back through the Brecon Beacons. As you may have guessed, I took plenty of photos along the way, some of which I want to share here below.
In 2015 I travelled to New Zealand and Indonesia, an incredible trip which led to the start of this blog. To cut the 24-hour flight to Auckland in half we decided to take 48 hours off in the city where we had to transfer, Kuala Lumpur. As it turned out, 48 hours were enough, Southeast Asian cities being what they are – noisy, busy and rather smelly – but Kuala Lumpur was well worth a visit nonetheless, presenting a unique mixture of different religions, architecture styles and cuisines.
Four years ago my mum and I went to visit my sister in Zürich, Switzerland. She was doing an internship there and we had decided to take the night train from the Netherlands to Zürich, which would drop us off right in the middle of the city after about ten hours. I spent the visit mostly trotting after the other two and trying to figure out how my new camera worked.
Given that there’s only one month the Fins can properly call ‘summer’, it might be a bit of a stretch to call Suomenlinna, a former military bastion just off the coast of Helsinki, a little holiday paradise. Yet there was still plenty to see when I visited there in April earlier this year, though it was clear that its inhabitants, museums and shops were awaiting the warmer weather and the influx of tourists which then still seemed a long way off.
While on holiday in Yorkshire last month, my friends and I decided to go up to Newcastle for the day. I didn’t know much about the city, except that it was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Britain and that it’s where Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler is from. In fact, while making my way to Yorkshire from Wales – where I started out, visiting friends – I found myself on a whistle-stop tour through the north of England, passing through Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds before ending up in York. My impression of these cities was all too brief: driving through Birmingham, which was heavily bombed during the war, left me with the impression of a hodgepodge of soot-stained red brick buildings with garish postwar structures planted here and there. Newcastle, however, surprised me: I had expected more of the same. But the moment we passed that magnificent sculpture on the motorway, the Angel of the North, which personifies better than anything the north’s industrial charm, and drove into the city with a view of Newcastle’s seven bridges curving over the river Tyne, I knew we were in for something different.
As the temperatures are finally consistently running into the high twenties Celsius here, it’s funny to think that only about two months ago I was walking around in Riga in a snowstorm – granted, one that only lasted a day. We went out then, on Easter Sunday, thinking we might do some sightseeing, but ended up frantically hunting around for a coffee place to take shelter in. And as we sat sipping a cappuccino and nibbling on a poppy-seed doughnut at the foot of an imposing Russian orthodox church – the only proper ‘high rise’ in the centre of Riga, really – the sun came out and the snow stopped. Instantly the streets were filled with people, where only an hour before only a few arctic explorers like ourselves could be seen plodding along. Happily, the following days were filled with sunshine, and on the day we left, I carried my coat draped over my arm – it was that warm.