Adventures on the road: Europe edition

Ever since switching jobs and becoming engrossed in the industry of e-commerce, I’ve grown to be more aware of the cycles of the industry. Busy seasons for shoppers have such a big impact on scheduling for retailers of every kind, and online business is no exception. With the last quarter of the year being the busiest for shoppers, I got a special dose of what it’s like to prep for this season, being on the other side of the shopping experience. Aside from getting to learn about the industry, one of the biggest perks of my current job is getting to see how the industry runs on a global scale. I always feel so lucky to get to experience business first hand in markets outside of North America, which is how I spent just under half the month of October in Europe.

Last month, a few of my coworkers and I spent a healthy dose of 12-18 hours every day – for almost half the month – together on the road. Going from London to Munich to Milano and everywhere in between, we had jam-packed days of meetings. In whatever downtime we could find (usually in between meetings as we were driving from one city to the next), we tried to squeeze in as many touristy attractions as possible. The pit stop at the London Eye and Big Ben during golden hour being one of my top 3 most memorable stops.

My absolutely favourite top stop was in Chur, Switzerland. We never intended to even be in Switzerland, but as luck would have it, the trip was rerouted and required a 5 hour trip in the car from Munich to Milan. In that single drive alone, we drove through 5 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and ending in Italy), stopping only for gas and coffee.

On the quite Sunday morning (while mass was still in session), we found the one and only coffee shop open in this quaint town. I wish we had more time to explore every nook and cranny of this small town, but from the limited interactions with the coffee shop owners paired with the picture perfect weather and quiet streets, it was the perfect pit stop for a mid-day reflection, counting our lucky stars for the experiences so far.

Everything about being on the road makes me really happy! Aside from getting to visit new countries and experience life from a different perspective, being away from home for weeks at a time gives me a whole new appreciation for the life that I have in Seattle.
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Weekend in Alaska: Anchorage Saturday Market

Last month, a friend found a great deal for round trip flights to Alaska for about $200. Having never been there before and always wanting to visit, a small group of friends bought tickets for a weekend of exploring in August! Our flight arrived in Anchorage just after midnight on a Saturday. After a quick nap and some googling, we decided to spend the morning at the Anchorage Saturday Market.

We went from sunny skies and 90 degree weather in Seattle to the 60 degree grey skies of Anchorage. To stay warm and dry in this weather, I packed a wind-resistant and water-repellent jacket which came in handy on this particularly gloomy morning. This jacket has also been my go-to “blanket” whenever traveling on planes since it is extremely lightweight and packs compactly. So easy to carry on in a purse or small backpack! (Shared this in my travel essentials on IG a couple weeks ago.)

Anchorage for the weekend
Anchorage Saturday market
The Anchorage Saturday Market reminded me a lot of the Fremont Sunday Market here in Seattle. A beautiful mix of local vendors with handmade crafts, ulu knkives, original art and photography, and – of course my favourite thing to check out – delicious food vendors.

Anchorage weekend market: piroshki stand
My favourite stand was the one serving freshly deep-fried salmon and rice-filled piroshki. There’s nothing like a warm, deliciously seasoned, hot pocket of goodness to keep you happy while strolling through the misty rain! We ended up taking our snacks to go and exploring a bit of the city outside of the market, which brought me to this buddy…

Helly Hansen Astra jacket
outfit details:
Astra jacket (midlayer): c/o Helly Hansen (exact)
blue beanie: c/o Helly Hansen (exact or similar in cashmere)
skinny denim: AG Jeans (exact)

anchorage-alaska-HH

We continued to adventure through Anchorage, but not without a fight from the weather. Trying to stay warm and dry on foot was a bit of a challenge with the incoming rain, but the neckline of this midlayer was perfect! Looked like a stealth ninja hiding out from the rain, and the buttons on the side made it easy to undo for when the clouds were passing and we saw some sun.

Excited to share part 2 of Anchorage later this week!

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Shanghai through a phone lens

Hello, and happy Monday! The last couple of weeks have a bit of a crazy ride, so let’s pick up where we left off, shall we? Continuing from last week’s recap of Beijing, Shanghai was explored in a similar manner where we only had a few hours to get acquainted with the city before running off. In this short amount of time, we headed to one of the most popular markets of Yu Yuan Street.

Yu Yuan marketplace
Within these markets is the Yu Yuan Garden, a gorgeous piece of history that completed construction in 1577. It blew my mind to see the condition of theses buildings – granted, many had been retouched since – and get a glimpse into the lives of those who once occupied them. Similar to the gates at the Forbidden City, there were an exhaustive number of rooms to explore and we only got through a handful of them before running off to explore the next location.

Yu Yuan Garden
Thankfully, our next location was literally right next to the Yu Yuan Garden. We ventured into the Yu Yuan Street marketplace for a snack and to check out some of the Shanghai street vendors. If you’ve been reading this blog since the good ‘ol days, you might recall my love of street markets from the 2011 visits to Hong Kong’s markets and the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok.

Yu Yuan street market
The biggest difference for me at the Yu Yuan’s marketplace vs the other markets I’ve been to are the very distinct alleyways and shop walls compared to the collapsible booth styles in the other two markets. The size and density of the crowd was also quite intense, making it feel like swimming along with a sea of fish through every turn of a corner. If you didn’t keep pace with those around you’d, there’s a good chance you’d trip behind someone else.

xiao long bao in Shanghai
Of course, my favourite thing about any marketplace is the food! There were a handful of food stalls on Yu Yuan St, but I had my eye on the prize for some fresh, hot, xiao long baos. If you’re unfamiliar with xiao long bao, they’re essentially steamed dumplings filled with a mixture of meat (typically pork) and delicious fatty broth. You’re supposed to eat them by puncturing a small hole at the top/side and letting the soup cool off a bit before devouring the dumpling. The biggest mistake that people make when eating these dumplings for the first time is letting all the soup drip out. On top of getting a steamer full of regular sized dumplings, we also each got an extra large-sized dumpling that came with a straw! So yummy!

Shanghai skyline

The night was capped off with a ferry ride across The Bund, which provided a gorgeous view of the Shanghai skyline. Couldn’t have asked for a better day of exploring a new city!

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A day in Beijing

Hello from Asia! Last week, I spent a few days in Beijing and made absolutely no plans before hopping on the 10+ hour plane ride over. For context, I only found out that I would be heading to China a couple weeks before getting on the plane, so everything was done on a whim. Having no time (or desire, to be honest) to plan anything, saying that I was a little unprepared is a bit of an understatement.

View from outside the airplane window

The biggest Pro Tip that I got before leaving was to write my hotel address out in Chinese. Hallelujah for this advice because I’m almost 100% positive I would’ve never ended up at the hotel if I had to say the address aloud myself! The language barrier for someone who doesn’t speak the native tongue and traveling to Beijing proved to be quite a real challenge as soon as I deplaned.

If there was ever one regret from my childhood, it would be the fact that I didn’t continue to expand my Mandarin diction or practice speaking it after almost a decade of classes. The most frustrating part is that I can understand when someone else speaks to me in Mandarin, but I have a really hard time finding the vocabulary to respond back– not to mention having a really, really, really awful accent whenever attempting to speak. And so, many minutes of playing charades for directions ensued on this day of adventures.

With less than 12 hours to do touristy things, click through to read about the Bucket List attractions that were at the top of my priorities: The Forbidden City and The Great Wall.

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Unplugging in Iceland 

iceland glacier lagoons 
If you’re into chilly scenery and beanie weather, follow along on Instagram this week! A few friends and I rented a camper van and are driving around the perimeter of Iceland, exploring some of the most breathtaking spots! (I’m also being a bit of a brat and trying to get up to no good whenever there’s opportunity for it… Like pretending to steal the boat above haha)

It’ll be a bit quiet here on the blog until I’m back in Seattle, but I’ll be posting on IG as often as this spotty 2G network will allow for it!

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