Archive | May, 2012

Photo Essay: A Close Up to The Ice Fields

Glaciers in Argentina

The Patagonian ice fields extend for about 16,800 km2, covering part of Chile and part of Argentina’s geography. Even though that more than 80% falls into Chile (such as Glacier Grey, in Torres del Paine and Glaciar Aguila, in Agostini Sound), Argentina offers easy access to some of the most impressive glaciers in the continent (among them, the upmost famous Perito Moreno!).

While in Calafate, we decided to take a boat trip through Los Glaciares National Park – a World Heritage site since 1981. The trip took us along a small part of Lago Argentino, the largest lake in the country – coming so close, you could almost touch the ice!

Close Up in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Close Up in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Close Up in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Among all the white icy islands we came across with throughout the tour, there were also a few intense blue bodies of ice. It appears blue because this ice is very compact and so absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum, except blue – which is transmitted instead. The deeper under the surface of the visible glacier, the more compact the ice becomes and therewith, the bluer it reflects when a piece of it cracks and ends up floating in the water.

Close Up in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Have you ever come up close to a glacier?

Turning 28 – Reflection On Life Choices

In just a few hours I’ll be officially turning 28 years young.

My home town, Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)

My home town – Who would deliberately choose to leave this behind?

Yes, I still consider myself young at this age – despite being so close to the dreadful 30s. I’ve never really had an issue with getting older. I don’t even think I have a scary age! Ok, I do – but I learn to push it further into the future instead of dealing with the apocalyptic breakdown.

As a teenager, I imagined myself working as an architect in a reputable company, refurbishing classic historical buildings to turn them into luxurious boutique hotels. I pictured myself living in Spain – only Spain. I dreamed of falling in love with a tall and sporty engineer that made me laugh and spending the rest of my life with him. I would marry him at age 27 to have a kid on my way before turning 30. We would have some common friends – friends from back home, in the Canary Islands.

What a difference our choices can make.

During my second year in architecture, I came to realize that I didn’t want to live this life. I appreciated teamwork, companionship, free time, travel, social events, new faces. All of which were missing in my daily routine of 4 hours sleep, 2 hours drive and 8 hours critical lectures and 10 hours nervous breakdowns. On my way back to Tenerife, I sat next to a girl around my age – she was studying international business administration, learning languages, traveling and meeting people from different countries. It was, to me, as if someone had put together all my cravings and had created a career out of it!

As soon as I got home from the airport – I applied. A few months and a couple of tests later, I got a response – I was admitted!

My life changed, radically.

Glacier Hiking, Franz Joseph, New Zealand

Flying across the Globe to visit a friend (and hike a glacier)? Done!

I opened myself to a whole new World – a World of international careers that would take me across the Globe. A World in which networking and connections is key for success. Where friends will be friends despite being 8,000 miles apart. Where 5 hour plane rides can be considered weekend escapes. Where switching from spanish to german and then to english comes out naturally. A World that doesn’t have borders or limits.

Some of my greatest life choices were taken without a blink. Studying Uni outside of the Canary Islands. My (quite radical) career change into business. Accepting my first real job in Switzerland.

At first terrifying, moving to Switzerland was one of my best choices so far.

At 28, I’m living a life that I didn’t dream of. I am not be building a home with my tall and sporty engineer – instead, I’m working abroad, meeting at least 3 new people each week and can confirm that I have a friend network that covers every single continent. I feel young – I am young. Much younger than I expected to be 10 years ago.

Again, what a difference our choices can make.

Picture This: Simply Glacial

Glaciers in Calafate, Argentina

Visiting glaciers is exciting. I study the details of their rips, cracks and holes sharpening my senses in the hope of catching the next slide. I block all distractions – In my head, it’s just me and the glacier. Then I hear a crack. My heart starts racing and my head keeps turning from one side to the other.

Where did it come from?

Nothing seems to move. I continue to examine its rips, trying to guess which parts loose and are highly probable to break off in the next few minutes. I stare at it continuously, as if my glare could burn the last little piece that attaches it to the rest of the block. I hold my camera tight. I’m sure its going to happen any time soon.

I hear another crack. And another one. My head is spinning – I don’t know where to look anymore. And then, I see it – A big piece of blue glacier falls into the water at slow motion.

Not slow enough for me to turn on my camera. I will have to learn to be happy with only a mental picture then.

2012: The Year of First Times

Isla Magdalena, Chile

My first time seeing penguins running (or, well, waddling) free

I ended 2011 BIG.I travelled around Cape Horn, tried to cuddle thousands of cute penguins and spent a sunny afternoon drinking Pisco Sour with glacier ice. This was all before burning my skin off in Buenos Aires on the 1st of January (a tiny little part of me really believed I was sort of brazilian).

When I returned to London, I told myself that 2012 was going to be the year of first times. I joined a cooking course, learned how to ski, started running regularly and spent a week living on a sailing boat.

Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera

My first time sailing without just lying in the sun and allowing others to do the work

But the year is far from over, and there are many first times yet to come!

Doing business in Egypt – May 2012

I’m excited about my first trip to Egypt – Not only will I (hopefully) have the chance to take a glance out of the windows to enjoy the view of the desert, the Nile and maybe even a temple, but I will learn and understand the way of doing business. I’ve been learning about what is considered rude or well mannered. What topics are taboo and which ones are cheerfully discussed among men and women.

Attending A Friend’s Wedding – May 2012

Sure I had been at weddings before. Weddings of members in my family, or in the family of a partner. Even weddings of family friends. But up to this year, I’ve never had the chance to attend to a friend’s wedding. When one of my dearest friends from Uni told me on a late October night that she was getting married to the love of her life I cried for joy. I’m really looking forward for a great Uni reunion in Madrid this weekend!

Visiting Stockholm – June 2012

During my sailing course in the Canary Islands, I met two great girls who kindly invited me to visit Stockholm this summer. They clearly didn’t know what they were getting into – As soon as I got hold of an internet connection, I browsed a few different flight options and quickly booked four days in Sweden with two other friends joining from UK and Portugal respectively. Island hopping and swedish fashion shopping, anyone?

Ladies Day at Royal Ascot – June 2012

After last years success at Royal Ascot, I was sure I was going to repeat the experience – what I didn’t know was that I was going to do it the right way: Grandstand tickets, picnic and champagne on the grass and surrounded by stylish people wearing the most creative hats and fascinators of the year. Now that’s what I’d call doing it with style.

And then…

Well, I’m not a big planner and usually end up taking my decisions on the very last minute – which is why I haven’t booked any holidays after June or can’t really tell what I’m up to in September. That seems to be years away! However, I am eyeing a few further first times for the next few months:

  • Take part of one of London’s Race For Life races to fight against cancer
  • Join a park fitness class – you know, if english weather ever allows this to happen
  • Attend this year’s TBEX in Girona (yes, it’s about time!)

Skiing in Les Houches, France

My first time skiing (France) – yes, I even managed to take pictures, I’m a natural talent

What have you done (or will do) for the first time in the last/next few months?

Picture This: The View from Outside the City

London City, UK

During the Middle Age, Southbank developed as London’s outlaw neighborhood – a place where taverns, theaters, bear-baiting, cock-fighting and prostitution entertained the crowds. The borough was conveniently located outside the City’s walls, on the other side of the river. For decades, locals from the north side rarely crossed the river to the south, nor did the tourists visiting the City.

However, in the past few years, a series of projects have focused on improving this area – turning it into an must-see artistic hub with numerous museums and art galleries, as well as a real foodie heaven with the boom of old Borough Market.

Southbank is one of my favorite areas of London. Its tiny streets and alleys boast with history and diversity. Local pubs are authentic – small, dark and crowded. Its architecture is a perfect blend of the 18th Century industrial era and modern developments. But what really makes Southbank so special is its views over the City’s skyline during dusk or dawn.

Can you imagine having this view from your terrace?

Becoming a Social Butterfly

It fascinates me to see how we feel attracted towards people who are similar to us in some way. Then, throughout our lives we learn, grow and take different directions which will either grow our relationships stronger or slowly tear them apart.

Scientists call it the Social Butterfly Effect. We tend to gravitate around people with whom we share a passion, a hobby, a political view, a religion.

But what happens when our interests change? What happens if someone talks us into outdoor sports or we suddenly find a book that meets our heart and we finally discover the power of literature? What if our flat mate returns from Spain with lots of charcuterie and we start to wonder how we could have lived 19 years without serrano ham and chorizo?

Chorizo, El Pirata de Tapas (London)

Yes, I only discovered chorizo when I was 19. What a waste of years!

Whenever we discover a new interest, the doors to another social group (aka. friends) fly open. You know, you will start to be part of the people who enjoy reading in the park or become one of the people who can spend hours talking about food or, well, one of those people who don’t leave their home without a camera.

The same way that my relatively new interests lead me to new friends – these new friends may also introduce me to other new interests.

Which is why this months is all about meeting new people.

May Dare: Make new friends. Lots of them!

Amsterdam with the girls

Cheering for friendship, the end of a semester and the beginning of a perfect weekend in Amsterdam.

I don’t consider myself shy or introvert. Actually, put a glass of wine in my hand and put drop me in any social or networking event and I’ll assure you I won’t be alone for more than 5 minutes. I have no boundaries on company seniority, age, race or religion. I mean, I’ve been the sole women (and I’m pretty sure the only person under 40) attending a conference on financial investment opportunities in a very traditional muslim country (and even got an invitation to visit the country, he was going to take care of the visa). And I’ve joked about swiss german-ness with a swiss german millionaire (well, I hope he knew I was joking). There’s really little in chatting to random people that can still make me nervous.

The thing is, although I have been meeting plenty of people since my move to London, I haven’t really been meeting lots of people that are similar to me, people that would belong to one of those social groups I do. This city is so big – I find it difficult to find them!

Sailing in Tenerife, Spain

I bet this is not what you imaged when thinking of sailing in the Canary Islands, huh?

This was, until I realized they might as well be in the same places I am: taking sailing courses in the Canary Islands, sweating in the gym during lunch breaks, in the climbing centers all over the city, and even here – in the internet.

This month, I’m filling up my social calendar with brunches, drinks, park fitness and social climbing activities. I might even join a photographic city tour and a one or two day escape to the South of England (if english weather allows me to). I want to meet people alike. Learn, grow, inspire and be inspired. Who knows what will be my next discovery!

How do you meet people that share your interests in a new city?