Tea Talk 6: Hayden Wahlman | World Traveler

Hayden and I have known of each other practically our whole lives. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…but our moms were both homeschool moms/friends and so we’ve been connected in the same homeschool circles since we were pretty young.

Hayden had the awesome opportunity to live in Germany, recently, and I’ve been following along on her adventures ever since our mutual friend suggested it! I love how so many of my homeschool friends have taken up their passports and traveled the world. It takes me back to that fact that homeschoolers are the best travelers. Meet Hayden!

1. What started your passion for traveling? 

I always wanted to travel, just like anyone. But I think it was joining the air force reserves that really got me motivated to see the world.

I had been at a minimum wage job for 3 years before joining the reserves and didn’t have many qualms about it. But once I signed the contract for the military I started getting anxious about being “stuck” in a contract. I took a trip to san francisco right before I left for bootcamp.

Once I was in the military my desire for traveling really caught on fire. I felt a little bit like a bird in a cage, which is something I never felt before I joined.

The day after my full-time training ended and I was going to just one weekend per month, I put a sleeping bag in my car and drove to the grand canyon. After that I planned my first eurotrip. I had 5 months to kill before school started and I had been waiting ever since I signed my contract to see the world. So I really felt like I needed to do it immediately.

It’s been 3 years since my first eurotrip and I haven’t been able to kick the habit of spontaneously traveling whenever I get the chance!


2. What’s one travel tip you think the world should know? 

Packing light has been said over and over again, so I’ll skip that one.

One big one that people might overlook is your choice of hostel. You should choose one that is social and has a pub crawl or tours throughout the day, and also one that is in the city center (the price difference should only be a few dollars per night, and well worth it).

I highly recommend going on the free tours they offer and the pub crawl the first night you get there. That way you meet the people and see the highlights of the city. After that, you can kinda make your own way. But skipping the day tours in order to figure out the city for yourself can sometimes leave you missing out on some gem of the city you never would have found on your own.


3. What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

Opening my widows. In Germany (and I’ve heard the rest of the….world..?) they open their windows daily, 365 days per year. I hated it at first, since I was there during the FREEZING winter. But once I got home I started leaving the windows a crack open in my bedroom and I swear it makes a huge difference. I actually hate being in a house with no window open now. I never thought I would get to that point.


4. What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling? 

FOLLOW YOUR GUT! Seriously.

I have definitely done some things during my travels that a lot of people would consider dangerous, but I followed my gut and ended up having the best times of my life. I have also avoided situations that some people would deem perfectly safe, because my gut was just not having it.

Have an open mind and listen to your gut.

5. What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel? 

Not being organized. I have finally perfected backpack and am very comfortable with the items I choose to travel with and the placement of everything.

I lost my entire backpack while in Switzerland once because I had shoved so much stuff inside grocery bags and jumped off the train before realizing my backpack was not on my back! I blame having so many random bags to account for.

6. What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling? 

Talking to people! I am pretty shy, but getting lost in multiple cities around the world will definitely pry you out of your comfort zone and get you talking to whatever stranger is in sight!

7. What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

I’d say train. The scenery is nice and they usually are really comfortable. I still travel by bus mostly, since it’s cheaper. But if there is a cheap train to somewhere I want to go, I’d take a train over everything.


8. What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self? 

To meet more people during my first Eurotrip. I was still pretty quiet my first time abroad.

9. What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit? 

I got a small taste of Turkey a few months ago and I’m aching to go back and see the rest of it…all of it!

10. Let’s talk about your most recent trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure? 

I got an internship at a company in Germany, it was arranged through my University. I minored in German because it seemed like the most logical language to learn for traveling Europe, which in turn got me this internship.

11. What has been the best/toughest part of your most recent trip? 

The toughest part was definitely making friends while trying to learn the language. I was not in the best state of mind when I moved to Germany and all I wanted was to talk to family and friends. But when you are meeting new people everyday, the only appropriate things to talk about are pretty small. A lot of my conversations revolved around the weather and politics, as my language skills were not advanced enough to speak of anything else.

As for the best part. I think learning how to LIVE in another country. Living and traveling to another country are very different things.

 

12. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your most recent trip? 

To be ready. I was NOT ready to leave for Germany, not by a longshot. Even with my constant desire to travel. I left very reluctantly.

In hindsight, I wish I would have spent the summer (I left for Germany in September) with more friends and got my life in the States more organized before I left.

13. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from your most recent trip? 

I learned how quickly I shut down when I’m overwhelmed. I never knew this about myself at all. I think when you are in your own country, speaking your own language, it is easier to work through problems. I always felt like I was pretty resilient and could tackle most problems.

But man, I think living in a foreign country has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know how quickly I would give up on it. I think I cried daily while I was there, the smallest task could turn into such a chore. Everyone told me I would be homesick, which I scoffed at. But it was true, it was not the type of homesick you have as a child. It’s different. I can’t even explain it. But I really learned I need to go into my next move much more prepared.

If you are an American, keep in mind that there are a lot of people who have an opinion on America and American citizens (whether it be positive or negative). I had no idea how much Europeans knew about America and was not ready for all the questions they had for me concerning our politics and other things.

I highly recommend reading travel forums and learning about how the citizens of that specific country feel about americans. It’ll help you navigate some pretty common conversations you’ll be bound to have with the people you meet.

Freiburg, Germany


I have been absolutely terrible about keeping up on blogging while I’m on Spring Break, but let’s consider that a good thing, in this case, because I’ve been having such an amazing time.  I spent last weekend in Freiburg, Germany (pronounced Fry-burg) and it was so lovely. I was visiting a friend who I hadn’t seen in three years, and it just happened that we both moved from our Seattle lives to Europe. So crazy. Here are some pics from my adventures!

                  


     

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.”

Favorite Pictures From Berlin

The last couple of days in Berlin were such a whirlwind that I didn’t have time to write, but basically just know that I had an amazing time getting to see the city, go to museums, eating bratwursts and generally falling in love with Germany. I was so happy to be in such an amazing artistic city and I honestly would have no problem moving to Berlin. But one adventure at a time, right?! Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip. Note to self: Bring the long lens next time. Enjoy!DSC_0267 DSC_0294 DSC_0314 DSC_0225 DSC_0200 DSC_0189 DSC_0186 DSC_0184 DSC_0151 DSC_0117 DSC_0110 DSC_0102

Berlin: Day 3

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I absolutely love football. No, not American. There is no tackling involved (at least not by the rules of the game). I mean the original football. You know, the one where you use your feet.

The last couple of years have been a revolutionary time for me. A lot changed, and a lot of things I had loved, but had suppressed in order to please other people, finally were allowed to flourish. Football was one of them.

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to play or really even watch sports, so I’m not a diehard fan; the culture is just not something I grew up with. But even as a kid I insisted on always playing “soccer” at recess. Yes, I loved the game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say I loved that I was taller than most of the kids my age, and could run like a horse (then everyone got their damn growth spurts). Oh, and I’m actually totally OK with the parental decision to keep me out of sports as a kid. It just wasn’t something we did, and my life has been none the worst for it.

BUT.
When I walk into a stadium and know there’s about to be a football game, I get the dumbest grin on my face. I bounce my legs up and down to the bass of the home team entry music, and my heart starts beating faster as I balance on the edge of my seat; all of these things occur completely subconsciously. But today, for the first time, I noticed them; and I thought, “Damn. You’d think I was in love or something.” And then I realized: I am.

Like I said, mine is a bit of a blind love, I don’t have favorite teams (although some loyalties – LETS GO SOUNDERS!) and I don’t know the names of every player and every statistic. If I’m perfectly honest, most of the time, I don’t care who wins – as long as it’s a good game. And today – today was a GOOD game.

If you follow football (or are a living, breathing human) you probably know that this year was the World Cup. And the victor, with seemingly little effort, was the German team.

Going to a European football match had already been on my bucket list for a while before Germany’s street cred went up exponentially so, needless to say, when I found out there was a Berlin v. Hamburg game happening today, I jumped (literally)at the opportunity.

But I had no idea how great it would actually be. Those moments when the home team made 1-2-3 goals made that game easily chart on the list of ‘Best events of my life’. If you’ve ever been to a German football match, you’ll know why. Watching felt like an honor.
Sitting amongst those fans – from young to old – I realized these people weren’t just half consciously at a game, they were living as part of a 90 minute event! And even though it seems like a clean defeat (at 3-0 favoring the home team), the game was neck to neck until the end.

Maybe it was all of the German blood stirring, or maybe it was just loving the game, but over the course of 90 minutes the people who walked into that stadium as strangers, left as friends. We sang together, drank out of plastic beer steins, chanted the whole 90 minutes and half froze in the frigid weather. But we laughed the whole packed out metro ride afterward, even though we couldn’t move because of overcrowding. It didn’t matter that some of us were speaking English and the rest German. We had witnessed a victory, and we left that field waving flags and carrying ourselves just a little bit taller because of it.

I honestly feel so honored, happy and moved that I got to experience the game today. It was the kind of thing that makes you feel like your life has been changed, even though you’ve only been sitting in a chair for an hour and a half. All I can say is: my heart is so full.

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Berlin Day 2

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Every time I travel I’m reminded of the importance of artists. While being an artist can feel menial, sometimes, seeing the political and historical importance of artists always amazes me.

Yesterday was one of these moments. Walking down the East Side Exhibit of the Berlin wall took my breath away. They say a picture is worth a million words, and I think that’s the case, even beyond photographs. If a photograph is worth a million words, then a painting can be worth so much more. Paintings show the heartbeat of not only the circumstances, emotions and political feelings of a society, but the heart and soul of its creator. Art is powerful. And that’s a lesson I feel like I have to be constantly reminded of. Luckily, Berlin is the perfect place for that reminder.

Yesterday was a true “German” experience day. I walked the wall, and then went over to Museum island, which is exactly what it sounds like – an island full of museums. The structures themselves were amazing. But I didn’t go in any of them BECAUSE I met this awesome tour guide who told me he was going to be doing a free walking tour five minutes from then. I asked him how long it was: Three hours. The topic? The Third Reich.

Since I’m an advocate for taking the experiences that are put in front of you, I decided to go and it was AMAZING. Things I would have just walked past normally were explained and there were so many stories. I got to see where Nazi offices were, where Hitler lived, where he died, explore the former Jewish quarter, and see the absolutely beautiful Berlin synagogue. I went to the Holocaust memorial, the parliament building, the Brandenburg Gate and ate a German Bratwurst – which was, of course, amazing.

But then the best thing happened: my tour guide told me there was a football match going on in The Olympian stadium. As in the the stadium Hitler had built for the ’36 Olympics. The ones Jesse Owens won gold at. OK, so I’m geeking out a bit.

So today, of course, I’m going to a football game! And, for those of you I’m the US, that means: I’m going to a soccer game! I’m so excited, it’s hard to explain. After Germany won the World Cup, I can’t even believe I get to go to a game in the same country.
And speaking of that, I have to go! Here are some pictures from my adventures so far! Cheers!

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Berlin, Germany

IMG_7910.JPG If you want to travel the world, you first have to learn how to laugh at yourself. Like yesterday, when I was running through the Paris airport with nothing on my feet except socks and my flower print scarf trailing behind me, I couldn’t help but giggle. All of those French business people in their suits and there I was, half slipping half running in between them and their designer carry on luggage.

Needless to say, this was not a planned occurrence.

This was the first time I’ve ever run through an airport, and the first time it was in my socks. But desperate times, right? The circumstances went something along these lines:

* 9:45 I leave my house *Paris transit takes FOREVER to get me to the airport.

*11:47: I arrive * Plane starts boarding at 12:05. I run through security, but get stopped for my bag to be weighed *I am told I have to check it because its 2kg over the weight limit *I remember very quickly how to argue with people in French

*11:55: I’m standing in the check baggage line praying a miracle happens – I see a giant sign that says “Boarding will close 15 minutes before takeoff” my flight is scheduled for 12:30

*12:05 I run back to security after checking my bag *I get behind a family who has apparently never been through airport security before

*12:13 I get through security after my pat down which seems to be necessary in every country I travel to (except Ireland – love those lads and ladies) *While my stuff is going through the machine I run to the scanner and check my gate, run back and grab my stuff

*12:17 I decide lacing up my vintage boots is a damn waste of time * I run like it’s the World Cup finals and my life and the pride of my country depends on it

*12:20 I get to my gate and the stewardess holds the bus that’s about to drive away while she tells me to put on my damn shoes * I jump on the bus, get on the plane and then its delayed 15 minutes. Awesome.

What matters, of course, is that I actually made that plane. And that now I’m in Berlin!

The “getting here” part wasn’t quite as I had imagined it, but I absolutely love the city now that I’m here. For all of you guys who told me to come to Berlin because I would love it : you were right! While living in France had really made me forget a lot of societal things I love and feel comfortable around, being in Berlin immediately felt like home.

Obviously Seattle still has my heart, but this is a close second. Yesterday was super fun because I’m Couchsurfing (of course!) And my host wanted to take me out to meet a Couchsurfing buddy of hers, who was Australian. The three of us then went and got Indian food (AHHHHH!) and then we went to the coolest bar (no carding required -gotta love Europe) that was a mixture of Speak Easy, log cabin and Anthropologie.

Basically heaven.

The best part, though, since I don’t drink alcohol, was the entire section of the menu with virgin drinks. And no weird looks when we ordered them. Total win. It was so much fun being in a place where so many languages and cultures coincide, again. And I love being able to stay with someone who has lived in Berlin their whole life.

There’s so much history in this city and, even though its a painful one, I think you can tell that it’s made the people who live here now, hungry to build this city into something great. And I love that. Here’s to a week full of beautiful memories!

Random things I love about Berlin so far: – Car2go -Uber -Tons of Starbucks – I love hearing German spoken ❤️ – Most things being in German and English -Everyone knowing English – THE PEOPLE ARE SO NICE -Art culture – Cheap cheap prices – English movie theaters

La Prochaine Aventure//The Next Adventure

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Traveling is addictive. Before I even step on a plane I have plans for a hundred more places I want to visit. It is my firm belief that everyone should have a bucket list, so here are some of the top places I want to visit before I drop dead.

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1. Morocco: “Here’s Looking at you kid.” I’ve wanted to go to Morocco for as long as I can remember and not only because Casablanca is my second favorite movie of all time. I absolutely love the mixture that is represented within Morocco. It’s basically a mixture of three of my favorite cultures: French, African and Arabic.

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2. Camino de Santiago (France/Spain): I’m so excited to do this! This trip is one of the few that I’m insistent on doing with someone, however, which is the main reason it’s being saved (although, I can’t wait!).

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3. Norway: This fits under the category of “Places I’m ethnically from”. I’m a big believer that knowledge is power, and the best way to know yourself is by exploring your heritage. I’m going to try to get this and Denmark checked off my list of places I’ve been while I’m living in France.

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4. Denmark: Same as above, this is my heritage and I’m extremely excited to get to explore this beautiful country.  

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5. Egypt: Honestly, I think Egypt is one of the most interesting places on the planet. I’m a HUGE history nerd, so going to this country is an absolute must for me. I won’t go into details about how obsessed I was growing up, just that I may or may not have dressed up as Cleopatra more than 5 times in my life.

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6. Germany: I’m part German, so I really want to go visit Germany. This trip will also probably be with someone, because it’s not a country that I’m at all familiar with, but I think it’s going to be amazing.

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7. Ghana: Two of the five kids I nanny are from Ghana, and I would love to see the country that has become so close to my heart while looking after them! I’ve fallen in love with Ghanaian culture by being surrounded by two amazing boys who have stolen my heart. I can’t wait until I get to adventure to their home country, someday.

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8. Italy: One word: Calcio. 

Another word for translation: Football.

And one more for Americans: Soccer.

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9. South Africa: Is it wrong to want to go somewhere just because of the accents? No? Good. Because that’s one of the main reasons I want to go to South Africa. I have a friend from South Africa and I absolutely love just listening to her talk, which probably is weird for her, but South African accents are my absolute favorite (right next to Irish and Scottish).

latvia_flag10.Latvia: The only country in Eastern Europe, I’ve wanted to go here for a while now. I think the country is so beautiful, and Latvian is one of my favorite languages to listen to (even though I can’t understand one word of what they’re saying).

Also: This is one of my new favorite songs. So beautiful.