55.6761° N, 12.5683° E
Hygge (pronounced hoogah) is a Danish concept that roughly translates to “cosiness” in English, but it is so much more than that. To paint you a picture, imagine having a nice home-cooked roast with your nearest and dearst by the fireplace with candles glimmering as the snow falls outside — feeling cosy yet? that’s hygge. Whilst roaming the Copenhagen streets lined with pastel homes and watching people enjoy an alfresco candlelit meal, I couldn’t help but feel an air of cosiness too — no wonder the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.
I also got to stay in the most charming apartment built in 1797 in the heart of Copenhagen. The tilting support beams and wonky windows added so much character, not to mention the beautiful heritage glass ceiling! Every morning I woke up to sun dappled light pouring in from the windows, and by night scattered candles would provide the perfect ambient glow to wind down to after a long day of sightseeing. Needless to say I never wanted to leave, but I definitely took note of some of the hygge qualities I wanted to incorporate at home to recreate the same atmosphere.
Hygge: A Beginner’s Guide
1. Danish homes are relaxed and informal, whether it’s a basket of slippers by the front door, or a candle lit on the sideboard, it creates an intimate and inviting atmosphere.
2. Minimalist Scandinavian homes aren’t just about white walls and expensive furniture. The Scandinavian design aesthetic is about natural light, wooden floors, green plants, fresh flowers and the smell of coffee brewing.
3. William Morris obviously understood Scandinavian design in the 1800s when he said “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
4. The glow of living light is key to capturing the essence of hygge; basically just light candles everywhere!
5. If hygge had a scent it would be clean, natural, woody and fresh air. Open your windows and enjoy the perfume of Gardenias and Jasmine as the sun sets. I also picked up a candle from Scandinavisk, which perfectly embodies the Scandinavian way of life.
6. Creating hygge obviously involves having the people you love around you. Dinner parties shouldn’t be contrived and stressful, it should be simple one-pot comfort food by candles and relaxing conversations.
7. Create comfort and cosy corners in your home. Think soft worn in linen bed sheets, or a low hung lamp by the sofa where you can curl up to read a good book with a cup of tea.
On my second trip to Japan, I wanted to visit places that were a little off the beaten path, and somewhere that appealed to my interest in design and architecture. A friend, who is a seasoned traveller to Japan enthusiastically told me about Teshima Art Museum, with something along the lines of “Dude! water comes out of the concrete floors! you have to go!” and she was right, I just had to go and see this art installation myself.
On any given day, waking bleary eyed at 3 a.m to the sound of my alarm gently coaxing me to consciousness usually results in an uncoordinated fumble to hit the snooze button. On this day though, I dutifully got up and went through the motions of the morning routine, because 8 months prior, I excitedly purchased flights to Japan without realising the consequences of a 6 a.m international flight. The following few hours were a blur honestly, I admittedly binge watched the latest season of Girls, and when my eyeballs felt like they were about to fall out from dryness I just slept. I think being able to sleep on a plane without the aid of any melatonin is one of my greatest skills, I’ll be sure to put that down on my resume next time.
When I conjure up thoughts of Winter in Sydney I think it’s pretty miserable since I am through and through a Summer girl. So when K suggested we go on a snow trip and learn to snowboard together I wasn’t exactly running to pack my suitcase of winter woolies. Sydney’s Winters are very mild, and consequently I am thin-skinned. So the thought of going to the snow and experiencing a Winter blizzard and temperatures averaging on minus 5 and below wasn’t the most appealing. Nevertheless I believe you should try everything once, and I do have a love affair with the sweeping views of mountains, so I thought the photos I would take would be worth it in the least. Mountain selfies anyone?
A two hour train ride from Munich will take you to Kitzbühel, a small medieval snow town in Tyrol, Austria. Any misconceptions I had about the snow went out the window when I saw how charming the little gingerbread houses were and how beautiful everything looks when it’s covered in a blanket of fresh white snow.
One of the biggest advantages in staying at an Austrian ski resort is that the accomodation is on the slopes, there is no need to drive for half an hour back and forth every day. The other added bonus with staying right by the mountains is that you can lay in bed every morning and watch the sun rise and cast a pastel shade of pink across the snow fields.
Morning walks in the snow were probably my favourite time of day (well probably after après ski time), the calming sound of my snow boots crunching across the snow and gravel complimented the frost delicately encasing the twigs and foliage.
You don’t usually go in to something knowing you’re going to fail, but once you embrace the fact that learning to do anything requires the commitment to just follow through regardless of falling on your face over and over again, you just start to have fun! I have skateboarded and surfed in the past, but there was something slightly more daunting about having your feet strapped to a plank of wood and knowing if you hit an edge you’re going to go flying face first in to the snow. Despite how fluffy and inviting the snow may look in these pictures, I assure you, it hurts when you fall. Ouch!
After two days on the bunny slope learning to snowboard with the help of Youtube tutorials, I was ready to go up the gondola and try out the slopes on top of the mountains. The Hahnenkamm gondola’s elevation reaches a summit of 1,712 metres above sea level. Whilst riding up I always felt an onset of nausea, I later learnt this was altitude sickness.
Look that’s me! snowboarding in the navy jacket and turquoise pants!… I fell shortly after this shot.
Snowboarding certainly makes you use muscles you never knew you had, and there was no doubt I was sore all over after a day on the slopes. However you were always rewarded at 3:30pm for après ski which translates to after ski where you were greeted with hot tea, cake and snacks, did I mention this was my favourite time of the day?
The last day of my Europe trip had come all too soon, before my 23 hour flight home I decided to make one last trip up to the top of the mountain to take in the views, it never gets old. I can say I have a new found appreciation for Winter, there is something so lovely about the crisp air prickling your cheeks, and the comfort of returning inside to be welcomed by a hot cup of tea and a good book. Until next time,auf wiedersehen!
There is no doubt that Sydney puts on a spectacular display of fireworks to welcome a new year, but I got to experience a different type of fireworks display in 2014 as I spent new year’s eve in Munich.
I should mention that I have never seen or experienced snow before, so I was pretty excited to arrive in Munich and see it had a fresh thick blanket of snow covering the city centre. My first steps on to the streets were a bit of a balancing act as I slipped and slided to to my hotel. Once I got in my room and changed in to a pair of shoes with more traction I was ready to run amok! every blob of snow was asking to be poked, and every tree daring me to shake it!
We started the night by heading out for beer and pretzels at Hofbräuhaus beer hall which was originally built in 1589. The place was buzzing with an atmosphere filled with camaraderie and general drunk jolliness. I have to admit I am a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol, so instead of chugging down a litre of beer (which by the way is the smallest size you can order), I had to fake it with sparkling apple juice, shhh! don’t tell the locals!
Munich saves money by not having an official fireworks display for new year’s eve, but instead they let the locals do it themselves! by 11:45pm the streets were madness! people were launching fireworks at their own will, and judging by the lack of accuracy or general awareness for safety I’m pretty sure everyone was drunk and setting off explosives — probably not the best combination. Needless to say I was exhilarated and slightly terrified, but it certainly will be a new year’s eve I remember!
The morning after marked the first day of 2015, the city was surely hung over and recuperating as I stepped out to what was basically a dead zone. The only signs of the celebrations from the night before were scattered bottles and singe marks from where fireworks were set off. Nevertheless, the city greeted me with beautiful blue skies and fluffy snow, the perfect combination for a peaceful morning walk.
After spending the previous week in Paris, I had had my fair share of renaissance art and opulent architecture. I decided to visit Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich which is a modern art museum divided into four main categories; Art (Kunst), Architecture (Architektur), Design (Design) and Works on Paper (Graphik).
The space is minimalistic with white and grey concrete slabs sweeping from floor to ceiling, only to be met with big glass windows that let the sunshine subtly create shadows along the walls. The museum no doubt appealed to my design sensibilities, and it was nice to see iconic industrial design pieces that I had only learnt about in uni.
One of the exhibitions they had on that I was infatuated with was Superhero by Swiss born artist Stephan Melzl. The exhibition brings together around 40 works of small-scale oil paintings on wood, the exhibition blurb described it as:
From afar, the muted colours of the small panel paintings radiate an aura of familiarity. Up close, however, a strange, unsettling silence emanates from the works. It would almost appear as if time has been suspended in them. The scenes are stage-like in atmosphere — due in part to the artificiality of the lighting within each scene. Everyday objects and symbols, bodies and shadows are surreally invested with alternative meanings. Scenes-within-a-scene create a dialogue between past and present, sparking associations with Giotto, Reni, Hopper, or Balthus, and purposefully blending genres: devotional panel and film still, saint’s image and pin-up, the grotesque and pop gesture.
The kunstareal otherwise known as the “art district” in Munich is home to a small cluster of museums, so after Pinakothek der Moderne, I was able to stroll over to Neue Pinakothek, which focuses on 18th and 19th century European art.
One of the shops I was really excited to visit was & Other Stories, I did not get a chance to pop in to the Paris store so I was very pleased Munich had a branch on Sendlinger Straße. The fashion, accessories and layout were true to it’s Scandianvian roots, I went back three times if that gives you an indication of how much I liked it.
Three days in Munich meant i had my fair share of schweinshaxe and nurnberger sausages (I’m not kidding, I just ate salad straight out of the packet to have a more “balanced” diet). Munich has a relaxed charisma atmosphere and I think it is even more special during the Christmas time, especially if you are lucky to have snowfall like I experienced. This was my first time seeing snow, and I liked it! I was not done with the icy fluffy stuff yet, next stop… Kitzbühel, a small snow town in Austria!