Colours of autumn in Landbohøjskolens Have

Weekend strolls in Copenhagen in this magical autumn time have become a fast tradition. Today we ended up in a small, beloved spot – Landbohøjskolens Have. The place is magical no matter the season. And now it is all dressed up in a colourful autumn gown looking dashingly beautiful.

Red red red

Red curtain made of dreams

Yellow curtain made of dreams

Yellow curtain made of dreams

Iberian lyng

Iberian lyng

Splash of autumn magic

Splash of autumn magic

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Patterns of nature

Patterns of nature

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Photos © Ani Movsisyan

Colours of autumn in Frederiksberg Garden

Another magical autumn day out and about in Copenhagen. This time the colours of autumn captured in Frederiksberg Have.

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Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Colours of autumn in Botanical Garden

Copenhagen. Botanical Garden. October. Rainy-sunny-rainy-sunny-rainy day.

Reflections

Reflections

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Nature frames nature

Nature frames nature

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Photos © Ani Movsisyan

In a Danish countryside straight out of a H.C. Andersen fairytale

Welcome to a Danish fairytale!

Welcome to the Danish home of Cinderella!

It is a crisp, autumn day. One of those when the cold cuts the air like a sword, yet the sun dazzles you with its endless charm. The summer ended far too soon this year and even though we have just said goodbye to September only a few days ago, the temperatures have taken a quick drop to single digits. The weather gods behave like they are in a stock exchange playing random games with the seasons.

It is not a Windows desktop background, just a typical countryside scene from a Danish countryside

It is not a Windows desktop background, just a typical scene from a Danish countryside

Oh but the sun, that glorious fireball of joy, it is shining so beautifully today spreading its soft rays in the sky deep blue like the ocean waters. Perfect for a little road trip down south into the charming Danish countryside.

Days like this makes you fall in love with Denmark all over again

Days like this makes you fall in love with Denmark all over again

Gisselfeld Kloster says the destination on our GPS. It wasn’t even on the agenda for the day, yet it turned out to be the absolute highlight of the trip. The road leading to it is straight out of a Danish countryside dream – rolling farm fields, wind turbines, deep forests and chirping birds. Now take it all and throw in a splash of autumn colours accentuated in the sunset glow and you have got yourself a beautiful postcard.

Colours of autumn

Colours of autumn

DO01055476Tucked away in the south of Sjælland, an hour drive away from København, Gisselfeld castle is fortunately not on the major tourist radar at least not for now. Reaching there as the sun was about to set, we got the entire castle grounds to ourselves. I read somewhere that H.C. Andersen got his inspiration for the Ugly Duckling fairytale while a guest in the castle grounds. Who can blame him?

This path is made up of dreams  <3

This path is made up of dreams. It makes you want to put on your princess gown and run down the path towards your prince charming 

A small unassuming wooden gate guards the treasure that lies inside. Carefully opening the tiny gate you walk straight into a fairytale. Deserted castle grounds, surrounded by immaculate gardens, moats clear as mirrors, sun touching the surfaces softly, casting a golden glow on everything it touches, swans gliding gracefully on the tranquil waters, and not a single soul in sight, but one lonely fisherman navigating the lake in his small boat.

Gisselfeld Kloster

Gisselfeld Kloster – straight out of a fairytale

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Can this scene get any more romantic? Pinch me – this is not a dream.

I see you, pretty ball of joy

I see you, pretty ball of joy

Feel like the Cinderella carriage will roll onto the cobblestones any minute now

It feels like the Cinderella carriage will roll onto the cobblestones any minute now

This window though - can it get any dreamier

This window though – can it get any dreamier

The Ugly Duckling navigating the castle grounds

The Ugly Duckling navigating the castle grounds

Every single piece in this castle is a dream

Every single element in this castle makes you feel like you have stepped right into a fairytale

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Take my hand and walk into the fairytale.

Take my hand and walk into the fairytale <3

Photos © Ani Movsisyan & Andreas Eriksen

A recipe for a beautiful day in Copenhagen

Pretty roses glowing with drops of rain

Having a ladybug land on my hand, meeting white deer first time ever!, walking towards a double rainbow under a pouring rain and smiling sun. All in one day. Copenhagen – my beautiful home, you are full of prettiness 💕

After quite an intensely busy week, I desperately needed some unwinding time that didn’t involve sitting in front  of a computer and working on items from long to do lists. Instead it needed to be full of long walks in a good company and my trusty Leica to capture beautiful moments on the lens. It seemed that the weather gods joined the cause to cheer me up by clearing the thick grey skies over Copenhagen, whooshing away the howling winds and sending some beautiful autumn sun.

After some impromptu planning with an Indian colleague of mine, Rashika, we decided to start our Saturday bright and early with a lovely breakfast at a Vesterbro favourite – Mad og Kaffe. To get to enjoy a delicious breakfast at this place without having to wait in long, winding queues, you practically have to appear there when the doors open at 08:30 sharp. That is exactly what we did.

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Tummies full and smiling, we headed towards Klampenborg for a day in the nature and beautiful autumn walks in Dyrehaven deer park.

First things first though. Pre-walk coffee and dessert to sweeten up the walk. Rashika got her first taste of traditional Danish pastry – hindbærsnitter (rasperry slices) at Cranks & Coffee. If you are a bike lover, you will appreciate this hyggelig hangout place by Klampenborg station.

If you are a bike lover, you will appreciate this cute little hangout place by Klampenborg station

If you are a bike lover, you will appreciate this hyggelig hangout place by Klampenborg station

Breakfast check, coffee check, hindbærsnitter check. Let the walk begin.

House dreams

Prettiest townhouses making you feel for a moment that you are in London

Lavender dreams - you never fail to put a smile on my face

Lavender dreams – you never fail to put a smile on my face

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Rashika enjoying the Danish nature on her way to Dyrehaven

Rashika enjoying the Danish nature on her way to Dyrehaven

Dyrehaven

Dyrehaven

Idyllic corner in pretty light

Idyllic corner in pretty light

Leaves, leaves, leaves

Leaves, leaves, leaves

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After 2 hours of walking in Dyrehaven, we finally spotted the first deer!

After 2 hours of walking in Dyrehaven, we finally spotted the first deer!

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Suddenly an entire flock of deer appeared with a few white deer, which I have never ever seen before.

Suddenly an entire flock of deer appeared with a few white deer, which I have never ever seen before.

Double rainbow shot up the sky after an hour long rain just as we were headed back to  the city

Double rainbow shot up the sky after an hour long rain just as we were headed back to the city

Photos © Ani Movsisyan

Day 16 on Trans-Siberian Railway: Irkutsk –> Ulanbaatar

Good morning from Irkutsk :)

Good morning from Irkutsk :)

It is an early, early morning. I try to ignore the alarm, hoping, wishing it would go off and let me get back to the world made up of dreams. Not much luck there. The last stretch of the Trans-Siberian is calling us. I guess it is time to say do svedanye (so long) Russia! You have been a real charm. Next stop – Mongolia. First there is still 22 hours and 37 minutes to be spent in the train.

Train timetable - so many destinations to choose from

Train timetable – so many destinations to choose from

Second from the top is our train coming all the way from Moscow and going all the way to Beijing. If you do it non-stop, it will take you around 7 days.

Russian comfort replaced by made in China

Russian comfort replaced by made in China. The official emblem looks so cool though.

Bye-bye Russian comfort, hello Chinese class. From here on China is officially taking over the Trans-Siberian stretch. Judging by the look and feel of the train interior, let’s just say it is good it’s only one day. The exterior – that’s another thing. I am totally loving the sleek green colour and the Chinese communist emblem.

Aboard the train another peculiar fact makes itself known – the serious looking, sometimes smiling female provodnitsa (train attendants) you see all along the Trans-Siberian stretch from Moscow to Irkutsk have all disappeared. No trace of them except the ones working in the restaurant. Instead you meet male Chinese attendants, who as you come to observe are more in favour of keep calm – take a break attitude, than actually doing their train chores.

Modernish amenities of Russian trains with more advanced A/C system are out the window.

Modernish amenities of Russian trains with more advanced A/C system are gone out the window.

Modernish amenities of Russian trains with more advanced A/C system are gone out the window. It is replaced by a more simplistic design of a revolving fan that makes so much noise, you really need to be desparate to turn it on. On a hot July day we were desparate. Fortunately after some time you get used to the constant background buzzing noise and stop noticing it.

Our neighbour is Mongolian speaking no Russian or English. Only Mongolian and Magyar, since she is living in Hungary. Not much chance of communication going on there. I call Google to help for general introduction. Otherwise it is just exchanging smiles and sharing my precious stash of sunflower seeds. Chewing sunflower seeds is also apparently popular among Mongolians.

An insider tip - make sure you wipe the window close to your train compartment before the train sets off for the long journey east and south.

An insider tip – make sure you wipe the window close to your train compartment before the train sets off for the long journey east and south.

While I chat away with a Canadian girl who has spent the last 6 days on the train all the way from Moscow, I notice Andreas hard at work shining the window. Then I remember – he was preparing for this stretch since home equipped with a wiping cloth. An insider tip – make sure you wipe the window close to your train compartment before the train sets off for the long journey east and south. Trust me you will not regret it. What is waiting for you is simply the BEST stretch of the whole 5.000 km Trans-Siberian ride. When the train rides south approaching the shore of Lake Baikal, hits its southermost point and makes a curvy turn and hits northward toward Ulan-Ude. On this stretch panoramic vistas of Lake Baikal become your companion.

IMG_1011Shining the window situation mostly applies to when the temperature hits the freezing degrees so you don’t want to risk catching pneumonia and opening the window. In the warm summer months we discovered that the Chinese attendant can unlock the small overhead windows.

IMG_3843When the most awaited moment finally arrives, everyone leaves the comfort of their compartments and gets glued to the windows. The narrow train corridor becomes a melting pot of nations, languages and cultures. Chinese, Mongolians, Europeans, Americans, everyone is gazing out.

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To reach the restaurant cabin you literally have to go from one end of the train to the other, opening and closing doors. One of the doors you open, welcomes you to the first class world, mainly populated by Americans. I am wondering if there is any system or a pure draw of luck that decides which of the attendants gets to make the first class carriage his base. That guy is definitely enjoying the experience. Lounging in his cabin with a cigarette in his mouth, despite the fact that it is a non-smoking train.

First class luxury - fancy, fancy

First class luxury – fancy, fancy

Sleeping cabin that also comes with a shower

Sleeping cabin that also comes with a shower

The restaurant is more multicultural compared to the other trains we took across the Trans-Siberian.

Borsch - our usual

Borsch – our usual

We go with our usual favourites – the borsch and blini. As he carefully studies the menu, a happy smile appears on Andreas’ face. Apparently he found his childhood favourite dessert – peach compote with whipped cream. Of course he needs to have it. My feeble attempt at we just had a blini with jam, do we also need to order this, gets totally ignored. Childhood memories – what can you do? 😀

Dessert from Andreas' childhood

Dessert from Andreas’ childhood

Hours roll by. Soon the bright summer day is replaced by an evening dusk and voila we reach the Russia-Mongolia border. What happens next is 4 hours on the border. 2 hours on the Russian side and 2 hours on the Mongolian. First Russian border control comes in dressed in full uniforms and armed with dogs, collects passports and disappears for 2 hours. Promising start. Passports are returned with beautiful stamps in, only to be snatched away again 30 minutes later by the Mongolian border control ladies who are less cheerful than their Russian counterparts. By the time we get our passports back it is already past midnight. The train is now cleared to continue its journey onto the Mongolia grasslands.

I get minimum amount of sleep lulled by the train noise. Waking up every so often, I give up when the beautiful light of the dawn hits our cabin. Opening the compartment door a totally different view greets you. Gone are the lush taiga forests of Russia. The vast grasslands of Mongolia welcome you to a whole new country.

Good morning Mongolia!

Good morning Mongolia!

It is a whole new day and a start of our week in Mongolia. Russia you have been such a charm, opening the doors to your beautiful country for us and showing us pretty corners along the 5.000 km stretch from Moscow to Ulan-Ude. It has also put my Russian language skills to test, I haven’t spoken so much Russian since high school. Pretty proud of myself. So long Russia, we will be back to explore more of your beauty for sure. Until then cайн уу (sain uu) Mongolia!

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Day 15 on Trans-Siberian Railway: A day in Irkutsk

It is time to say good-bye. To the tiny village in the middle of nowhere going by the name Bugul’deyka, to the tranquil waters of Lake Baikal and to our kind host Volodya. And such moments can often get emotional. Especially when you get to experience special places and meet special people along the way. This one good-bye is shaping definitely out to be a pretty emotional one. Before we get to the tears welling in the eyes, waving farewell and shining the last smiles, there is still the last breakfast to be enjoyed in the company of Romanovs.

Yep you heard it right! Romanovs – the last tsarist dynasty of Russia. In this era where your every move, wish and preference can be tracked and predicted, a series about the Romanovs popped up on our Netflix radar as we were making our way through the vast Russian empire. How convenient. And so in the company of Romanovs we enjoyed a quiet morning in our Buryat home until the clock stroke 09:30 and it was time to head to Irkutsk.

The car is packed, and a sentimental walk around the house and the courtyard to bid farewell is accomplished. What is left is an emotional good-bye with Volodya. He managed to turn it into a beautiful, tear-filled ceremony as he put on his full Buryat suit and came bearing gifts.

Volodya clad in his full Buryat outfit came out to see us off

Volodya clad in his full Buryat outfit came out to see us off

Remember I told you some time ago, that you might get a chance to meet Volodya. Well here you go. A kind, kind soul that made our trip so special with his stories, kindness and humble personality.

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Irkutsk is calling. A dusty, yet beautiful 4 hour drive in a right-hand car takes us to our destination. Being driven in a right-hand drive vehicle in a country where the traffic is officially left-handed can easily turn to an exhilarating experience. As you move from west to east in Russia you start noticing a few wrong sided adventurers, but wait until you reach Mongolia. There right-hand seems to be more the norm than the exception.

View from our hotel room over Irkutsk

View from our hotel room over Irkutsk

Four hours later we arrive to the very heart of Irkutsk to find the central streets and squares closed off for traffic. Apparently there is this thing called Silk Way Rally and it is slated to launch the day of our departure from nowhere else but Irkutsk and take on Russia, Mongolia and China. So the whole city is filled with show-off offroad vehicles. At this point Andreas is totally ecstatic and half-contemplating a change of plans to stay a day longer in Irkutsk.

This being our last day in Russia and preceding a yet another 24 hour train ride across the border to Mongolia, we decided to treat ourselves real nice and check into the fanciest hotel that Irkutsk has to offer with a real bed and a real shower. Apparently majority of Silk Way Rally participants had the same idea and so the hotel lobby and restaurant is filled up with groups from all corners of the world.

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IMG_0914The sun is shining, it is a gorgeous day, the city is smiling and that all you need for smiling back. Irkutsk turns out to be such a charming city. Pity we only have a few hours to explore. We end up walking for hours and hours exploring small, cosy streets and big Soviet avenues.

Welcome to Irkutsk!

Welcome to Irkutsk!

No matter where you go, you will find Chinese tourists even in the most remote locations.

No matter where you go, you will find Chinese tourists even in the most remote locations. And one thing they never fail doing is taking selfies and posing for photos

Guess policemen also need a break

Guess policemen also need a break

IMG_3723What made me fall in love with Irkutsk are its wooden houses. We found a whole bunch of them scattered around in the city hunched over from the years of service and neglect, yet standing still proudly to tell stories of former days of glory. Even in their state of total despair, neglect and lack of loving care, they don’t fail to catch your eye.

Me wandering from one wooden house to another, admiring its architecture, colours and shapes.

Me wandering from one wooden house to another, admiring its architecture, colours and shapes.

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Wooden house trail leads us to the Soviet neighbourhoods

What a beauty!

What a beauty!

Circus building - an important remnant of Soviet times. For some reason having a dedicated building for circus was quite a thing in the Soviet republics.

Circus building – an important remnant of Soviet times. For some reason having a dedicated building for circus was quite a thing in the Soviet republics.

Another pretty sight of former glory

Another pretty sight of former glory

Definitely Soviet architecture - quite cool!

Definitely Soviet architecture – quite cool!

Entrance to an apartment complex - typical Soviet look and feel again

Entrance to an apartment complex – typical Soviet look and feel again

Marx Street - one of the main streets in Irkutsk

Marx Street – one of the main streets in Irkutsk

Oh hello there - of course we had to find a red star somewhere

Oh hello there – of course we had to find a red star somewhere

Lenin square. Lenin and The Internationale on the wall next to him.

Lenin square. Lenin and The Internationale on the wall next to him.

After exploring the streets of Irkutsk for hours, finding pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet traces imprinted all over, we end up at Kvartal 130. Based on the recommendation of the hotel receptionist it was an area totally worth checking out, claiming to have replicas of Siberian style wooden houses. Oh we found the houses alright – nothing charming about them. What we also found was a totally touristic, soulless pedestrian street filled with loud restaurants, encircled by shopping stalls and malls and caged animals kept for petting.

Don't ask why - this creature was the main design icon in the biggest shopping mall

Don’t ask why – this creature was the main design icon in the biggest shopping mall

This icon outside the mall was much more relatable.

I love Irkutsk - yes, I have to agree!

I love Irkutsk – yes, I have to agree!

Leaving Kvartal 130 behind we head back through the city, greeting Lenin on the way to find our home for the night.

Lenin keeping a watchful eye over the city

Lenin keeping a watchful eye over the city

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It is the last few hours in Russia, I cannot believe tomorrow we will bid farewell to this beautiful land and cross the border to Mongolia. I seriously do NOT want to leave the comfy bed!!! The thought of getting up at 06:00 tomorrow morning to catch a 23 hour train ride to Ulanbataar sounds absolutely brutal. This is what goes on in my mind as I lay my head on the softest pillow ever.

Good night Irkutsk!

Good night Irkutsk!

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan