Over the course of our 3 months in Europe, my friend Stephanie and I ended up spending the bulk of our time in Hamburg. This was a total accident! But a very happy one.
I honestly wasn’t even really that excited to go to Hamburg in the first place – I really only went because we found a house sit there and it was for 2.5 weeks which I was stoked about (since we’d been traveling everywhere for about 1 week and I was ready to camp out in one spot for a hot minute), and because my friend really realllllly (like reallllly) wanted to go to Germany.
I was more like NORWAY! SWITZERLAND! AMSTERDAM! And I guess Hamburg? Since it exists?
But in the end, I feel like Hamburg is super underrated (And I honestly prefer it to Berlin, too, for similar reasons that I preferred Lyon to Paris. But shhhh I didn’t say that…), and it actually ended up coming on top as one of my favorite places! Here’s why:
My friend Stephanie and I traveled through Europe from the end of January to the end of April. We went to Scotland, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Prague, Norway, and Germany. I am the WORST packer so I read post after post and watched a million videos about what to pack for winter.
I’m also from California where it really doesn’t get THAT cold, so I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d be needing on a daily basis. I’m actually pretty damn proud of how I packed to be honest – only a few items that I regret bringing, and I fit everything into a carry on suitcase and small backpack because I am insane! MAJOR WIN for me, the girl who used to bring a suitcase to a sleepover.
I was even able to squeeze most of it into my carry on for a couple of the Easy Jet flights we took (they don’t allow a personal item). The trick is having a giant coat with lots of pockets and a giant scarf to hide your DSLR camera with. 😉
Okay, so sue me – I am really not a huge fan of Paris. And I really don’t find it very romantic LOL. But Lyon won a place in my heart! My bf was also on the same page as me, and enjoyed Lyon a lot more. I know, I know, don’t hate me, but here’s why I preferred Lyon over Paris:
Belgium is SUCH an underrated and unique country! I wish I’d had more time to explore – lots of beautiful scenery and lovely architecture. If you do make it over to Belgium, promise me you’ll try to put more in your itinerary than just Brussels!! (I wasn’t the bigggggest fan of Brussels – but then again, I’m not a huge city person, so…).
Admittedly, I don’t think I really went to the “off-the-beaten track” destinations in Belgium, but maybe I did compared to the average tourist? I’d love to go back and explore more of the countryside – my train rides to Dinant and Durbuy were absolutely beautiful. And I did do some unusual and unique things (read below!!).
And the food is GOOD. Between the chocolate, waffles, fries, pastries, and sandwiches (they have so many specific types of sandwiches there! They’re usually in long baguettes, and have a very specific yummy flavor – one of the chains is Panos, and their sandwiches are actually pretty good quality), I was happy happy happy.
You can check out the restaurant, bathrooms (of course lol but you really should look at them, even if you don’t have to go! They fancy AF – the dude’s bathroom has a freaking WATERFALL in it), shop(s), pool area (although I don’t think you can swim unless you’re actually staying at the hotel), tennis courts (they’re also PINK!), garden, and the outside of all the pretty hotels. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and someone will be leaving theirs when you walk by and you can get a glimpse inside! (I’m actually the creepiest)…
In my humble (aka always right) opinion, Arizona is such an underrated state and vastly misunderstood. (At least it was by me?)
[Look at all those lush desert plants! And that beautiful red desert rock! And that kinda sorta desert sunset! Side notes: Desert sunsets really are some of the most beautiful! This was near Saguaro National Park]
Like, did you know that not all of Arizona is desert (which is what I originally assumed #dontassume) and that it actually SNOWS in some parts? Like what.
Ahhhh Stockholm. To be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar of “dying-to-see” destinations like Abisko and Copenhagen were. And I kind of only went because we found cheap tickets (about $440 USD round trip from Oakland, CA to Stockholm!! Would’ve been more like $300 USD if we’d bought in advance and hadn’t insisted on picking our seats, for you wanderlusters who are considering checking it out next winter).
But I came away loving Stockholm! I’ll be honest, I liked Copenhagen a bit better, but I also feel like we didn’t get to see as much of Stockholm as we did Copenhagen. Stockholm was at the beginning and end of our trip, so at first we were too jetlagged to do much (we were there for a day and a half before heading to Abisko), and then at the end we were pretty tired from a week and a half of non-stop (cold) travel. But, I did enjoy it, and would love to see it in the summer (especially to explore the Archipelago!!!).
So the answer is a resounding YES. I could actually live in Copenhagen. And I could totally deal with the winters!
Like I actually, really could and might someday in the future. Who knows! My friend actually wants to move there now so I might just hop on board (literally) with her and make it easier. Especially because I thought I would die in the winter, but I didn’t, and it actually really wasn’t that bad, sooooo I have no excuse now!
I didn’t have to use my giant puffy jacket like I did in Stockholm, and I think it stayed in the 40’s Fahrenheit (about 4.5 Celsius). It also only rained a little bit – not sure if we just got lucky, but we had a great time! I don’t even remember being cold walking to bars at night (and trust me, I am not one of those people that stays warm from drinking).