Sunset at the Big C, Berkeley.

A favourite spot in Berkeley that I only got to visit once.

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Sometimes, I think it is up to us to make the days count.

When I first arrived in Berkeley, I had too much time at hand. I practically had no friends. I only had classes for a few hours each day, 3 days a week. There were not many assignments and no academic paper to read. My ‘commute’ involved a mere 10-minute walk to my (very lovely) house.

This was not something I was used to. I started feeling uneasy, not knowing what to do with all this luxury. I could use it to acquire some new skills, but the irony of life is, the more time you have, the fewer the things you will get done.

So one day I decided I needed to get my lazy ass out of the house. Instead of lying around on the couch, I put on my sporty outfit, my colourful crocs and decided to go for a little hike to the Big C.

The Big C, I had read, was a giant concrete block of the letter ‘C’ built on the Berkeley Hills. It offered a stunning view over the UC Berkeley campus, where I was studying at the time. Definitely a perfect incentive for a rookie hiker. I decided to go during sunset because I wanted to witness the transition from the golden soft lighting of the sun to the dark expanse being studded by the city lights.

The starting point was from the North Gate Hall, Berkeley’s journalism school.

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From then on, I just needed to follow some paths that led me to the top of the hill. For example, these stairs that greeted me right in the beginning of the journey.

Continue reading “Sunset at the Big C, Berkeley.”

How Vegas grew on me.

I hated Vegas the moment I got there. After all, we drove all the way from the beautiful Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and was spoilt by all the glory that nature had to offer. In essence, it was a somewhat downhill view from ice capped mountains to an endless desert that was Nevada.

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This road sign was probably the most interesting thing we saw on the way there.
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Although I did find the thrill in entering a new state and hearing Google Map lady say “Welcome to Nevada” in her robotic British accent. I have my phone language set to English U.K.

And at the part where it was not a desert, a large area of the city was covered with big, shiny and absolutely tacky buildings: fake Statue of Liberty, fake Eiffel Tower, fake sky and fake everything you could think of.

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The many faces of San Francisco.

San Francisco is one of those cities that is very hard for me to define. No matter how many times I visited the place (thanks to my stint in Berkeley, I had the privilege of living 45-minute BART ride away from THE San Francisco), I never felt like I got to know the city well. Perhaps it was my fault that I hardly spent a full day there just to explore – I normally visited San Francisco when I was meeting a friend or if I had to go there for a reporting assignment. But maybe it was the city’s ‘fault’, that it just had so many different things to offer.

In the end, I gave up that internal battle in my head and came to accept that it was just the way things were. Perhaps, San Francisco is just like that intriguing friend of yours who always shows a different side every time you see her. She’s not someone you are meant to figure out and fit into a box. She is just that, San Francisco, with its many facades.

She is as much the Victorian buildings that form the Seven Sisters…

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As the skyscrapers at Market Street.

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Continue reading “The many faces of San Francisco.”

There is something about Berkeley.

There is something about this little city.

I remember feeling slightly dreadful when I arrived here late at night a few months ago, jet lagged from my long plane ride from Denmark. In the dark, the place did not look like much – the sparsely-lit streets looked depressing and unfamiliar; the shadows of the houses looked rather creepy and I wonder if I had just moved from a small Danish city to an even smaller town. I started questioning, as I always do, what in the world I had gotten myself into.

The next day, however, draped in the famous Californian sunshine, Berkeley became beautiful. The Victorian houses turned charming, the campus buzzing with life, the streets outside quiet and peaceful, the green trees a nice change from the leafless ones that I got used to during the Danish winter.

I fell in love with the place from the very first fiery sunset.

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And then one day I walked past an Indonesian restaurant. I did not realise it until then, but I was missing home and felt a surge of relief and excitement at the sight of the place. When I finally went there with a friend that I was (and still am in many ways) very fond of, and spoke a few words of Indonesian to the waiter, I immediately felt at home.

Sunshine, a trusted friend, and excellent food – life could not have been better.

If only I had found a place to live. I came here only equipped with two days of Airbnb room booking. On the second night, I woke up at 4 AM (partly because of jet lag but mostly because of the panic of not having a roof for the next few months yet), and started firing emails to every single Craigslist listing that I saw (that I could afford). By some stroke of luck, I found a place in a beautiful house, for a reasonable price, and with the most wonderful, fun-loving and caring roommates I could ask for.

Life in Berkeley was finally in order.

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Then the heavy rain came, something that apparently California had not seen in many years. I was never one affected by the weather, but I was alone, away from my friend (who had been excellent in showing me directions) for the first time after days, and I was stuck in the middle of the campus, lost, my umbrella barely keeping me dry. I suddenly felt miserable and realised for the first time that I was in this all by myself and did not have the luxury of my friends in Denmark who wouldn’t let me out of their sight when something bad happened to me. I started questioning, again, what in the world had I gotten myself into in this miserable city.

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Header of the Month: Alaska in Summer.

Denali National Park, Alaska.

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I have always thought that our planet is a beautiful place. But I have never really comprehended nor imagined how beautiful it can be before visiting Alaska in 2012. It was my first time travelling for nature – previously it has always been for a mix of historic sites and culture plus a bit of nature but never was the entire trip dedicated to immerse myself in nature, from the landscape to the animals that depend on it.

When my dad first sounded the idea that we should visit Alaska, I looked at him incredulously. Mainly because I mistakenly thought that Alaska and Antarctica were the same thing (and I found out later on that a lot of people had this misconception). How on earth were we supposed to get there? And what is there to do besides looking at vast expanse of nothing but white?

This is the part where I’m glad that I’m such a dutiful daughter that despite thinking the idea was out of this world, I still went ahead and did some research. Of course, the first thing that I found out was that Alaska was NOT the same as Antarctica (how did I even make the connection?). I mean it was still cold, but summer seemed manageable and even pleasant. Secondly, it was not that hard to get to Alaska. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is well connected to other parts of the States and Canada. Alternatively you could take a 8-day cruise to and from Vancouver or Seattle. Which was what we did – we booked an 8-day Royal Caribbean Cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver and before the cruise we drove about 300 km to Denali National Park.

As it turned out, there is so much more to Alaska than the coldness it seems to have a reputation of. Here are my favourite moments in Alaska that hopefully will inspire you to get visiting next summer.

Continue reading “Header of the Month: Alaska in Summer.”