Photo Essay: The Best of May 2015

I feel like being a little too redundant with starting off this monthly recap with the same cliché I used for my April wrap-up, but it just sounds so adequate this time around as well: May was a month of quite a few ups and downs regrading life, weather, and emotional states.

May in Göttingen, Germany

But if writing monthly round-up posts has taught me anything yet, then that life is just like a constant roller coaster ride sometimes. Maybe this is just the reality of 20-something life. Maybe this is even just life in general.

But how would we even notice the highlights if there weren’t any low-lights to compare them to, right?

Travel

Late spring/early summer in Germany is the best season to travel, because there are so many public holidays. They vary from state to state (those Catholic Bavarians get so many holidays!), and I unfortunately live in a state with a very small amount of public holidays, but I made really good use of them this May: I booked two (!) extended international weekend getaways! Not needing to use up any vacation days plus the good chance of spring weather abroad are definitely the ingredients for a promising trip.

Now, the weather part didn’t really work out in Luxembourg, but I actually didn’t really mind at all. Strolling through the pretty streets and stopping for a beer here and there was actually a perfect way to spend a weekend abroad — it was exactly what I needed.

Luxembourg City in May I love how you can see the raindrops in this photo from pretty Luxembourg when you look closely

Whereas Luxembourg was just spontaneous “winter compensation trip”, the weekend in London was long planned: I had given my boyfriend Steffen his ticket for Christmas and had been looking forward to this trip all year, because it was the only trip I had planned for 2015 when the year started: I had fallen in love with London back in 2012 and I couldn’t wait to go back with Steffen to see if he loved the city as much as I did.

In London, we basically stuck to our “Luxembourg routine” of walking and day-drinking (sorry mom), but London obviously made us walk quite the distances. We didn’t do proper sightseeing (as in paying to see stuff), but rather “walk-by-sight-spotting” and thus ended up walking more than 60k (not kidding, we GPS-tracked it) within those 2.5 days in London.

London travel essentials
London travel essentials and a flat white to go in Kensington 

Other than ruining my feet though, I also completely blew my budget in London. Three years ago, I had stayed with a friend for free and I didn’t feel like London was that expensive. This time however with paying (hostel) accommodation over the Pentecost/Memorial Day/bank holiday weekend, no included breakfast, the need to drink as many fancy lattes as possible, and the weak Euro, I could almost literally feel the money running through my fingers.

Wombat's Hostel London, UK
We stayed at the brand-new, super stylish Wombat’s, but holy moly, it was crazy expensive!

Cocktail with a view of the Tower Bridge in London, UK
Okay, and there also were fancy cocktails with a view of the Tower Bridge involved. 

The negative highlight of the budget-blowing London adventure: The crazy strict hand luggage restrictions in Heathrow. Our suitcase was just half an inch too large and we had to check it even though we had flown into London with the same airline and it hadn’t been a problem before. I’ll definitely frame that checking receipt, because at 65 pounds (currently over 90 Euros!) that luggage tag is the most expensive souvenir I ever brought home from a trip.

My empty bank account (and unintentionally putting off having my hair cut for yet another year) aside, London was amazing, the coffee was even better than I remembered, and I can’t wait to return some day — when my finical situation can at least keep up with the Londoners a little bit.

Natural History Museum, London, UK
Accidental ponytail swinging in the amazing Natural History Museum 

Blogging

If we bloggers are honest to ourselves, we’re a narcissistic breed: Writing about our own lives and expecting others to have an interest in it, is incredibly self-centered.

I would actually never dare to tell someone I just met that I have a blog, because I find it embarrassing to admit that I write so much about myself. I want to keep this online life my dirty little secret — and I almost fainted when I heard that someone at work had googled my name and found about this blog.

May in Göttingen, Germany

I like my off-screen life and my online persona’s life to be to separated. And I call it an online persona, because this blog and everything that comes with it is very me — but it also isn’t. Although my frequent typos don’t look like it, the egocentric content I share online is very highly curated.

I do write about personal things: I admit my fears of telephones, escalators, bugs, and dirty toilets online, but that’s easy. It doesn’t hurt to admit these kinds of flaws.

But I also paint the picture of a geeky life that centers around pretty photos of coffees and flowers — when I truly sometimes don’t even find the strength to do my laundry or go grocery shopping. I had few very depressing days in May, and I almost felt disgusted by my funny-geeky online persona.

Because the truth is that I only wear nail polish for better travel photos, that I arrange my coffees for Instagram, and that I enhance my skin in Lightroom before I post a photo of myself on the blog. I make my life look a whole lot more interesting and pretty than it actually is.

May in Göttingen, Germany
I forced myself to go out and find something pretty to photograph, but it honestly took me all my strength to appreciate this iced tea. 

Sometimes it’s good to force myself to find the prettiness in my everyday life, but sometimes I also struggle with it because making everything look pretty makes me feel like a fraud. And I still don’t know how to cope with this paradox adequately.

Life 

As I said above, May was just as great as it was sad. But sunny days, travel plans, and the smell of lilac really helped coping with the less pleasant events this month.

May in Göttingen, Germany

May in Göttingen, Germany

May in Göttingen, Germany

May in Göttingen, Germany

May in Göttingen, Germany

Like the months before, I also made an effort to be a tourist at home in Germany a little more. Even when my couch was way more comfy than the thought of putting actual pants on, I made myself to go outside (almost) every day and find something pretty to take a picture of.

May in Göttingen, Germany

One of my highlights was a sunny Saturday morning at the big farmers’ market in Göttingen and realizing that strawberry and asparagus season are finally here! I also sometimes forget that Lower Saxony is a coastal(ish) state in Germany and that you can actually get crazy delicious fried fish rolls here. I really should make a Saturday morning trip into town more of a regular habit.

Farmers' market in Göttingen, Germany

Farmers' market in Göttingen, Germany

Farmers' market in Göttingen, Germany

And Steffen and I finally hiked to one of Göttingen’s sights, the Rapunzel tower in the middle of the woods! It was such a cool experience to walk through a dense deciduous forest without seeing any human traces for an hour and then suddenly see this:

Bismarckturm in Göttingen, Germany

And the view from up there was even better! This was definitely a moment I loved living in Germany, because seriously — where else in the world could this happen to you?

Coffee

I had planned on May being a glorious coffee month considering the trips I was going on. My little adopted home town has a few cute cafés, but a proper flat white or a even little heart in the foam of a latte is sadly not something you would ever find here.

Julika drinking coffee in Luxembourg City
Sipping coffee in a vintage café in Luxembourg City

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the best coffee in Luxembourg City (according to Instagram and Tripadvisor at least), because I somehow couldn’t find that coffee shop’s opening hours and only learned that everything is closed on Sundays in Luxembourg when we were standing in front of a closed coffee place.

Coffee shop in Luxembourg City
I could sadly only take a photo from the outside of this famed coffee shop in Luxembourg City

But London absolutely made up for that: There are obviously way too many great coffees to try in London, but we did our best to drink as many as possible without over-caffeinating too much. And yes, I was in coffee heaven!

Coffee in London, UK

Coffee in London, UK
I love how London gets me.

Coffee in London, UK

Art History

I sometimes wish my life was a little more like an Indiana Jones movie, but there are months I do not see a museum or medieval church from the inside.

I browse to the online gallery of the Metropolitan Museum every other day (see my all time favorite 14th century ivory casket here), but my reading assignments often keep me from working with actual artifacts most of the time: Art history is a humanity that consists of reading and writing and looking (at photos), so it’s kind of tricky to take a pretty photo and explain what I’m actually doing all day.

But I’m still including this section in my May round-up, because I actually managed to come to terms with the next big project in my academic career.

I dreaded to say it out loud for the longest time, let a alone write it on the internet, but there’s no way denying it now: I’m now officially working on my PhD dissertation and slightly freaking out, because there is so much to do and so little time and the responsibility that such a project comes with is downright terrifying sometimes.

Photography

I was a lazy photographer in May: I was too busy to shoot any portrait sessions and even though I took a lot of photos on the road, I only switched my lens once.

I stuck with my 50mm lens for the rest of the time and I once again realized that I love to travel with this lens only, because the 50mm is the closest to the human eye — and travel photography with it makes the on the road impressions look so real.

London by night
I even used the 50mm for a little long-exposure night shot experiment from London Bridge 

And another photography lesson learned this month: To take a great photo, you obviously have to know your camera and its technology very well, you have to consider light and composition and the rule of thirds — but sometimes you’re just somewhere in the right second and your camera settings don’t matter at all.

This snapshot I took in Camden is my favorite photo from the entire London trip, because it’s so raw, so real, so London. I know it’s not a photography masterpiece, but it tells so many stories and I’m completely obsessed with it: It gets even better the longer I look at it!

Camden street scene in London, UK

On Instagram

Ever since writing these monthly round-ups and introducing my most-liked Instagram photo of the month, I’ve realized that it is just so unpredictable what does well on the internet and what doesn’t. I assumed my London photos would do better, but instead my most liked photo in May was interestingly the first thing I snapped in pretty Luxembourg: This gorgeous view of the old town through the prettiest cherry blossoms!

Luxembourg City in May

Coming up in June

To be honest: nothing. I have zero trips planned for June and I’m almost a little relieved.

I always knew that I’m not a long-term traveler, but from March to May I felt like I was constantly running around. Taking eight different international flights in less than three months almost felt a bit hedonistic. So I’m really looking forward to reducing my ecological footprint and dis-burdening my tense shoulders from dragging luggage around.

I know, it’s not the point in writing a travel blog to go on a few trips and then complain about being exhausted. However, I still have a real-life job that is supposed to be my number one priority. And, I’m absolutely not complaining. I’m just glad to sleep in my own bed for the next weeks and enjoy June in Germany. June is usually my favorite month of the year and I’m really excited to be home for it.

Of course, I still stand by what I said last month: I want to travel and I will never ever stop planning trips to places that won’t happen anytime soon — but I know that I will make them happen eventually. Right now though, I’m just looking forward to enjoying June in Germany.

What were your highlights and low-lights in May?

 

PS: I’ve been experimenting with Snapchat during the last month and after being totally confused about it for the longest time, I think I’ve finally understood what it’s about. If you want to have a glimpse into my personal life (read: even more coffee photos and a stupid office selfie here and there), you can follow me @JulikaSarah. 

  • As always, beautiful photos, Julika!! Those strawberries look DELICIOUS.

    And I share your worries about Instagram as I, too, only post the “highlights” and not the boring, everyday stuff that isn’t very interesting. Pictures of beaches, cathedrals, restaurant food may be a lot of fun but they’re not an everyday occurrence by any means, and I think it’s important to remember that whenever we browse social media.

    Also, I can totally understand how y’all walked 60K while in London; I was showing some friends from Madrid around in Santiago last month and we ended up walking a good 12-15K around town just in the morning alone! Crazy how it all adds up. We were pretty pooped at the end of the day, though… 😛

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks so much, Trevor! I’m glad you can relate! It’s strange to feel like we’re staging our lives just to make it look pretty on Instagram. Then again, we’re probably not the only ones and that’s one more reason to not compare our lives to all those other good-looking lives out there on social media (easier said than done though).
      And regarding the walking: At least it’s the best excuse to try allllll the foods without feeling bad about it — after all, we’ve been working out, right? 🙂

  • I love your point about being a tourist in your own home. I live in NYC but I’m always daydreaming about where to travel next – I forget there’s so much great stuff here too! And your flower photos are so lovely 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      From what I hear, NYC is pretty much the best place to be a life-long tourist, Laura! If I just think about the food and coffee and art options there… swoon. Thank you! 🙂

  • Pauline Susanto

    I agree with the whole online vs. offline persona. I don’t really tell people I have a blog – I’d advertise it over social media, but that’s it. It’s exactly what you said it is – like a dirty little secret 🙂 Is the Rapunzel tower the same one they feature in the movie “Tangled”??

    • JulikaSarah

      I’m glad I’m not alone on this, Pauline! I’m friends with so many bloggers on Facebook and I’m always surprised how they let their blogs become a part of their personality that much — I know I could never do it!
      Sadly, I only made the name Rapunzel tower up, because it looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale — but that’s not entirely unjustified as the Brothers Grimm actually lived and worked here 🙂

  • Hey Julika, don’t ever apologise or feel self centred about your blog. You do a fab job and that’s why people love what you do.

    As always the pictures are fabulous. You might have only used one lens but by heck you used it well 🙂

    Yes, the holidays have been pretty intense in May. I was in The Netherlands last week and people there said it was great for personal time but sucked in terms of businesses getting things done!

    As for London, yes still crazily expensive but it’s always been that way.

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them!
      And agreed, London probably always has been this expensive, but since I crashed with a friend last time and the exchange rate was more Euro-friendly, it didn’t feel as expensive three years ago — nonetheless, London is amazing and always worth a trip! 🙂