5 Favorite Hipster Spots To Travel To

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Being born and raised in the Northwestern United States, specifically the Seattle region means I’m no stranger to the word hipster. In fact, I’d say that word and I are long lasting friends. We’ve been through a lot together, including strange haircuts, overly artistic and moody experiments and a nose piercing and tattoo my mom would rather I didn’t talk about. That being said, when I travel I generally look for the hipster vibe in my days there. At first it wasn’t on purpose, then I tried NOT to find those little places that you’ve probably never heard of. But finally I faced it – I am a hipster, and I am okay with that. Maybe you are too – maybe we all are – but regardless, here are some of my favorite hole-in-the-wall-small-time-you’ve-probably-never-heard-of-them stops.

1. Stock Coffee Shop: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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This coffee shop is actually connected with the adjoining hotel and I absolutely fell in love with it during my time in Amsterdam. It’s not hard to see why! The staff was so incredibly nice, the food was amazing and even the tea was incredible. I was surprised how empty it was when I was there, but my hipster soul was glad of it. It’s no wonder I visited four times in two days!

2. Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop: Galway, Ireland

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Ok, so this is actually a pretty popular stop spot in Galway, BUT if you walk inside you’ll understand why it’s added to my list. The whole enormous space is stacked top to bottom with vintage books (and new!) and it has that “curl up and never leave” vibe that makes me want to grab my hipster glasses and take some epic Instagram photos – filtered to the highest degree possible.

3. Art Store:: Glasgow, Scotland

ArtStoreQueenStreet3_zpsdce05b50When in doubt, name your store exactly what it is. It’s a kind of ironic beauty that you really can’t compare. At this store I bought a 2″ x2″ canvas which I still haven’t painted anything on it, but I kind of love that I could buy canvases that were small enough to fit in my palm. The location of this store is also pretty hipster awesome because it’s right across the street from the Duke Of Wellington statue, which can often be found sporting his crown of a hot orange traffic cone. 

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4.   Dachkammer : Berlin, Germany

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Like being surrounded by a log cabin interior without leaving the busy city? Well, this is the spot for you! Not only was it dark, poetic and all lit up with candles and dimmed lights, but it was filled with a kind of 1920’s prohibition era spirit. Whether you’re looking for a place to read moody things, or to go for a late night drink (WARNING: No WiFi here – way too mainstream), this is definitely a top spot I love.

5. Cupan Tae: Galway, Ireland

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6151880684_32c576057aFor those days when marathoning Downton Abbey just isn’t enough, you have Cupan Tae to pull you through. Not only is this one of the cutest tea shops I’ve ever been in (or should I say “Tae shops”?) but the staff who works here is just absolutely the nicest. Not only did they charge my phone (I brought the wrong charger for Ireland) but they were attentive and the tea was sublime. A must stop shop for anyone looking for a delicious bite to eat, or a cup of tea to keep you going.

Honestly, this is all I think of when I say the words “Cup” and “Tea.”

Exploring Your Own Backyard

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When I was in college, I forced myself to discover new parts of Seattle by intentionally “getting lost” in my hometown. I would hop on a bus – any bus,  and with barely any cash and no GPS, I would explore. I found some pretty awesome places, and tried some new things I would never have tried during my day to day routine; I made some new friends and got to know my hometown so much more than I ever had before.

Taking these trips, I think, was the first stepping-stone to exploring the world outside of where I lived. It allowed me to gain the confidence to try new experiences, and to be ok with being a little uncomfortable (or a lot). I started to realize that asking people for directions was ok, and that eating at restaurants I’d never been to before could turn out to be awesome. I started to look around me, instead of walking with tunnel vision to my next destination. I started noticing things.

It’s a pretty well known fact that Seattle runs in my veins. I’m madly in love with my city.  I grew up going to Mariners games, rooting for the Sonics and eating Dick’s hamburgers. Rain storms are like lullabies to me.  I am a Seattleite born and raised, but I still find adventures in my home city all the time. Because, contrary to popular opinion, being an adventurer doesn’t mean that you have to travel half way across the world in order to explore. More than likely there are stories, traditions and secret spots in your hometown that you’d never discover, unless you took the time to look for them.

And, you know what? A funny thing happens when you start to let the world show you it’s beauty. Yes, you start to see it differently, but you also begin to see yourself in a different light. You aren’t just a pedestrian anymore. You become a bird watcher, an architect, an art spectator, a food connoisseur, a friend to random strangers, a meteorologist, a cartographer, or a humanitarian. By opening yourself up to the beauty around you, you take part in a conversational exchange that allows you to enrich the world, while you, in turn, are enriched.

If you’re wondering where to start on your travel journey, get out and explore your own city!  Not only will you be building skills that allow you to interact once you’re on your international adventures, but you’ll also appreciate so much more of the world you travel in by learning to appreciate the virtue of what is already around you. So get out there! Find some awesome somethings in your hometown and then share your stories with someone. Let’s encourage a culture of exploration – even if it’s within our own communities!

Here are five of my favorite places I’ve stumbled across in Seattle:

1. Waterfall Garden (Pioneer Square): Did you know that Seattle has a waterfall IN the city? Neither did I, until I started asking around and discovered this one! Not only is this mini slice of nature beautiful, but this is a great way to take a break from the noise of the busy city for a bit and just relax.

2. ReStyle for Ryther Thrift Shop (Ballard): Missing those good old fashioned thrift shop experiences. This little baby shop may be just the thing you’ve been looking for. I love this little shop with all my heart and it really is as “hole-in-the-wall” as you can get.

3. The Backdoor at Roxy’s (Fremont): A little bit more well known amongst the locals, but still an unmarked door in a dark parking lot. This is one of my absolute favorite bars. The atmosphere is 1920’s speak-easy and, from the murals to the amazing food, it really is a great place to just sit back and relax with friends.

4. Magus Books (University District): I’m such a sucker for old books. I love the smell, I love the feel of the pages. It’s all part of the experience. This is such a great used book store and one that I love visiting

5. Street Bean Coffee (Downtown): Favorite coffee shop for their rice milk hot cocoa. So many coffee shops only offer soy alternatives to dairy, that it was extremely refreshing to be able to order my drinks with rice milk. This coffee shop is special because they offer jobs to homeless/transitioning street youth and also host some of the best Open Mic nights around.

Ciao!

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 “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka