Where I’ve Been #3: Southern Germany, Summer 2007

Welcome to Travel Month on 14 Shades of Grey! While I’m off to Europe, please enjoy these posts about travels I’ve done in the past.

After getting back from Italy, I still had a little time left in Germany before my flight back to the US, so I went on another short trip down south, to Heidelberg. One of my sister’s friends was doing her PhD at Heidelberg University (the oldest university in Germany) at the time, so I stayed with her.

Heidelberg is beautiful. It is certainly more cosmopolitan than Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, but it still has that “small town” feel that I love. I did the touristy thing like going to Heidelberg Castle and following the Philosophers’ Walk, which offers great views of the city and the river, though of course, I still liked best to just wander through the streets and alleys of the old town.

Heidelberg, viewed from the castle

Heidelberg Bridge, and the town at night

Corners of Heidelberg

On my second day there, I visited Ladenburg, a nearby medieval town. It is possibly the prettiest town I’ve ever seen – colorful half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, swinging shop signs, cute displays or decorations on the windows. I took so many photos that my camera battery died, so I had to go back to Heidelberg to get the charger, and returned to Ladenburg in the afternoon. I just couldn’t get enough of it (there is only one other German town that can rival it, which I will get to in another post.)

I want to live here, in that little turret

The reflection of the Market Square in a bookstore’s window

And that was the end of my first Euro trip. But there will be plenty more to come, so stay tuned!

Hello From The Hague

blue plaid shirt blue jeans black boots by 14 shades of grey

Hi there! I’m currently in The Hague, my first stop in the Netherlands. Photos of my travels will have to wait, but for now I have this quick and simple outfit as my interpretation for this week’s SIA, as inspired by the beautiful beadwork piece “My Sea, My Sister, My Tears”:

Naturally, I wanted to mimic the beautiful curves and swirls of beading, but since I have nothing like that in my wardrobe (travel or otherwise), I went with my plaid shirt, which has all the shades of blue, white, and dark red (brown?) found in the original, and took my photo with the sea in the background. The sea wasn’t as blue as I’d hoped – I was told this cloudy grayness was to be expected in the Netherlands – but it was appropriate, right?

Don’t forget to check Erin’s blog to see other interpretation of this gorgeous piece!

Shirt: Mango, Jeans: H&M, Boots: Clarks

Where I’ve Been #2: Italy, Summer 2007

Welcome to Travel Month on 14 Shades of Grey! While I’m off to Europe, please enjoy these posts about travels I’ve done in the past.

I’m never much of a “backpacker around the world” type of traveler. I prefer to travel extensively in one place rather than to try and see as many countries as I can, so when I visited Germany in the summer of 2007, I was happy enough to just stay there. However, when my sister and her husband planned to visit Italy, naturally I tagged along.

Now, my brother-in-law had already been to Rome, so when they planned the trip, they decided to skip Rome and went with Milan – Florence – Venice instead, and I, being the rookie traveler, just went along without protesting. Now, in hindsight, I wished we’d gone to Rome instead of Milan, but then again, in the short time that we have (we were there for a week, and got just one day in Milan), we might not be able to do Rome justice.

Most of my regret comes from the fact that I really didn’t like Milan. My impressions of it were huge, grimy buildings and glittery luxury shops we could not afford. Also, the night train from Milan to Florence was possibly the worst train ride I’d ever had, which did nothing to endear Milan to me.




I liked Florence better. The architecture is still impressive, but it’s friendlier; the famous Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo seem cozy rather than imposing (even though the Duomo up-close is pretty imposing too.) We had two days there, and half of the first day we spent getting lost in Uffizi. Afterward, we went out into the street, were immediately caught in a huge thunderstorm, and had to walk under shop awnings and duck into coffee shops (which all suffered power outage) for shelter, but that only made it more fun. The next day, thankfully, was nice, so we climbed to Michelangelo Square and enjoyed the view before catching a train to Venice (no more night train for us!)

Ponte Vecchio, viewed from Uffizi’s window

florence duomoflorence in the rain
The Duomo and Ponte Vecchio in the rain

florence gelatoGelato, mmm…

Venice is my favorite. We stayed at a hostel on Sant’Erasmo, an island in the Venetian lagoon and a short boat ride from Venice. Sadly I didn’t remember its name, but it is the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at – it’s the middle of a vineyard, you wake up to roosters crowing, and there was hot breakfast. I would go back in a heartbeat. Venice itself is lovely too. We didn’t spend too much time at the touristy places like St. Mark’s Square or the Bridge of Sighs; mostly we just wandered into the little nooks and crannies of the city, which, in my view, is much better. You get a more authentic feel of the place, and avoid crowds at the same time.


veniceMost of my photos of St. Mark’s are composed like this to avoid the crowds of tourists and pigeons on the ground. Those bastards have no chill


We also went to Murano, a nearby island famous for its glass making (not to be confused with Burano, the one known for its colorful houses.) And no, we didn’t go on a gondola. Why spend 45 euros on it when you take the water bus for 3 euros, enjoy the canals all the same, and the drivers are just as handsome?

muranoThe canal of Murano, lined with glass shops

Venice in the early dawn, before our flight

We’ll be back to Germany in the next post, so stay tuned!

Where I’ve Been #1: Northern Germany, Summer 2007

While I’m off on my Euro trip, instead of guest posts, I thought it would be fun to look back at all the trips I’ve done before the blog. There are going to be a lot of photos, so please bear with me.

(One thing about my travel photos though: you may have noticed, I don’t like taking travel photos with myself in them. I mean, what is the point? When I look at old travel photos, I want to see the places I’ve been, not my face. I know what I look like, thank you very much. So these are all landscape/street photos. Enjoy!)

Let’s begin with my first big trip to Germany in summer 2007. I’d been in LA for two years at that point, and had had enough of LA summers, so I decided to save up and visit my sister in Germany.

My first stop was Greifswald, a town by the Baltic Sea, where my entire family (except for me, of course) went to college and grad school. The town and the area around it used to belong to Sweden for nearly 200 years, so you can see a lot of Swedish influence on its architecture. There is also a lovely fishing village called Wieck nearby. While my sister was at school, I would usually borrow her bike and cycle around to look at all the pretty houses.

Greifswald market square and its distinctive oxblood City Hall

The Ryck river

Cute houses in Wieck – I want to live in all of them

From Greifswald, I took a lot of day trips around Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, going to other major towns such as Rostock, Schwerin (the state capital), and Stralsund. I could’ve taken a train to Berlin or Hamburg, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything when I skipped the big cities. These small towns and villages are much more my style.

Schwerin Castle

Funny house in Schwerin

I also went to two nearby islands, Rügen (the biggest island in Germany) and Hiddensee, and went across the Baltic Sea to visit Copenhagen (sadly I only had half a day there.)

copenhagenEn route to Denmark!

the little mermaidThe Little Mermaid is smaller than I thought, but that’s part of her charm

Jasmund National Park on Rügen

The famous chalk cliffs of Rügen (yep, those tiny dots are people)

Out of all of those, Hiddensee is probably my favorite. The three of us – my sister, her husband, and I – took a ferry to the island, then rented a couple of bikes to get around. Hiddensee is tiny and car-free, so all we saw were cyclists and the occasional horse-drawn carriage. I had my first glimpse of a nude beach (from afar!) and found quite a lot of amber while beach-combing there (some of which I made into a necklace). That summer the weather all across Europe was quite miserable, rainy and cold, but the day we went Hiddensee was super sunny and warm. A perfect summer day.

The nude beach on Hiddensee (I think? It’s been a while, and we just cycled past it)


Hiddensee lighthouse

And that concludes my first “Where I’ve Been” post. Next stop: Italy!

SIA Inspiration: Ubuhle Beadwork

Happy Fourth of July, my US readers! It’s another week of SIA, and for inspiration, Erin chose this gorgeous piece of beadwork by the women of rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa:


Isn’t that amazing? Titled “My Sea, My Sister, My Tears”, it’s part of an exhibition around the US called Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence (Ubuhle means “beauty”), which is quite appropriate for Independence Day. You can find out more about the exhibition here, and more about Ubuhle Beads here.

I’m leaving for Europe soon, but I can certainly recreate this painting with the content of my suitcase. As for you guys, remember to send Erin (looplooks@gmail.com) your outfits by next Monday, July 11th. Have fun!

Summer Travel & Blog Schedule

At the beginning of the summer, I said that I was planning a trip and would tell you guys about it when the time came, so here it goes:


This isn’t actually my first Euro trip, but it’s a trip two years in the making, and my first “big” overseas trip in six years (my Singapore trip last year didn’t count), so it’s pretty exciting.

It started out as this: after our travel in Vietnam, my friend Debbi and I wanted some more adventure. At first we set our sight on Australia. That didn’t work out, so Debbi suggested Iceland, which, to be honest, wasn’t on my list of dream destinations at all, but the more I looked into it, the more attractive the idea became, so we decided on it.

I know the best way would be for me to have a “home base” of sort in Europe and fly from there to Iceland. I was debating between Germany (where a lot of our family friends live) and the Netherlands (where two of my high school friends live), and finally settled on the Netherlands, since I’ve never been there before.

Eventually, after much saving and planning and emailing back and forth, I’m now going to the Netherlands, Belgium (where I also have friends), and Iceland.

What does this mean for the blog in the month of July and August? I already scheduled a series of posts about my past travels, so the blog will be well taken care of. There will be SIA posts, of course (whether I can participate is another matter, but I will post the inspirations), and if I have time, I’ll try to post about my current travel as well.

So here’s to a fun trip and hoping that I won’t return like this…

blackbooks206_01You must watch the entire episode, but if you don’t have the time, this clip will do

Pants On Fire

white sleeveless top black pants red heels by 14 shades of grey

If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, then you may have noticed that I rarely wear dresses and skirts, or even shorts, in the summer. In fact, the hotter it is, the more likely I am to reach for pants. That’s because I find that pants are a lot more cooler – even black ones, like these. With skirts and dresses, I’d always have to wear bike shorts underneath, and that’s just another layer I don’t want to be dealing with. Plus, they help to keep the bugs out too – always a must in our tropical climate.

Of course, I’ve always been more of a jeans kind of girl, but that’s neither here nor there.

Oh and, since I’m wearing red, white, and blue, consider this an early Fourth of July outfit too.

white sleeveless top black pants by 14 shades of greywhite sleeveless top blue necklace by 14 shades of grey

black pants red heels by 14 shades of grey

Everything: local shops