Category: Stories

Think you've seen Scotland after a trip to Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands? Think again! Here is my off-beat Scotland bucket list for 2017!

2016 has been another crazy year for me in terms of traveling. I left the country often and to far away places, like Canada, the Faroe Islands, Monaco and Austria. Don’t get me wrong, I loved these trips, and seeing new countries (or ‘old’ ones again) is great – but after three years in Glasgow I feel like I still haven’t seen as much as I’d like to of Scotland. That’s why in 2017 I want to focus more in traveling within the country and made up an ever-growing Scotland bucket list to tick off along the way.
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For one sunny weekend in September I found myself in the wilderness of Ontario, fulfilling one of my biggest dreams: canoe camping in Canada.

 

Did you hear that noise?

No one answers. Obviously. I’m alone in my tent in the middle of Killarney Provincial Park. My tent is the only one on the little clearing in the forest. I was the only one who could have heard the noise. – There it was again. A quick and scratchy sound right next to my head. I open my eyes. It’s light out, but the sun hasn’t risen yet. There is no rain sheet covering my tent, so I can see the treetops high above me. The scratching is back. I realise it is actually not all that close, but rather a bit higher up in the tree next to my tent. It is coming closer. Something is moving down the trunk. I sit up and suddenly everything goes super quickly. Alarmed by the movement in the bright red spaceship-like structure there on the floor, the black squirrel raced down the tree, zoomed past the tent and disappeared in the leaves across the clearing. Had I really just been woken up by a squirrel? Just in time for sunrise? Or was this a dream?

Far off from that – I found myself in the wilderness of Ontario for a weekend by the lake – canoe camping in Canada.

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Shetland had been on my bucket list since I could say pony – yes, it’s not the hardest of words, so you can imagine that the islands north of mainland Scotland have been a dream destination of mine for a very long time. This past January I finally set out to visit the islands for a week during Up Helly Aa and came back with a suitcase full of impressions, and a feeling of awe that I initially could not quite describe. I was asked to contribute a story to the Spring/Summer edition of 60 Degrees North magazine which is published in Shetland and captures some of the greatest stories of the islands. In close encounter with the local traditions I started wondering what draws people up north and what the ‘essence’ of Shetland’s island life might be – here is what I found.
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Sometimes we take even the most extraordinary things for granted. Read my story of recognising the natural things, which landed me a literature stipend!

You might have noticed it has been a bit quite around here and my social media for the past week – but there is a very good reason for that! I am actually in Austria right now, spending 10 days away from it all – away from the big city, away from my laptop and most of all away from an Internet connection. I am in the middle of the National Park Neusiedler See – Seewinkel in the far east of the country supported by a literature stipend by the Nationalparks Austria.

For ten days I get to explore the national park, speak to the people who live and work in and around it, and re-connect to a place that has always been so close to my home that there have certainly been times where I’ve taken it for granted. And that is exactly the topic of my assignment – going from taking things for granted to recognising how extraordinary they are in fact.
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The best way to understand a foreign place as the Faroe Islands it to meet its locals, listen to their stories and learn to understand their way of life.

Lately I have made it my goal to speak to as many locals as possible when I travel, record their stories and tell them back to the world. Through the stories of the people I met on the Faroe Islands I have come to understand a lot better what life in such a place means. A sheep farmer in a tiny village at the end of a long island said to me, over a cup of coffee I had bought in his barn shop, that it took him quite a while to adjust to life in Trøllanes. In Mikladalur where he grew up and which is just behind the mountain, he said, he could always make out the village of Kunoy across the water on the neighbouring island. But here in Trøllanes you could see no sign of civilisation. You were all alone with your thoughts. I guess what isolation is, lies in the eye of the beholder.
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