Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Berlin, DE.
Following the cities of Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna, Auckland and Tokyo this month's 'fourweeksgood' feature hits Berlin. A city that has reinvented itself over the years, transitioning from a gritty and divided capital to an artsy one. A trip to Berlin attracts both sophisticated fun-lovers and voracious culture vultures, with a great balance between cultural treasures and exciting modern attractions. One of our favorites is certainly the Bauhaus School, where the modern design concept of form follows function was developed. Founded in Weimer in 1919, by Walter Gropius, the school embraced modern technology and the use of machinery to mass produce appealing and practical products. By uniting arts and craftsmanship with technology, Bauhaus became the most influential educational establishment in the fields of architecture, art, and design. For those of you who are looking for calmness in Berlin, we strongly suggest experiencing The Liquidrom. A nude sauna situated in the centre of the city with unique architecture, which was developed on the basis of a circus tent.
You can read the full article 'The Bauhaus School: Founders of Modernism' in our Journal.
How owning less freed up my time, money, and confidence to do more.
As we left for a rare two-week break, I heard the dreaded snap of my holdall handle. I was faced with a choice: re-pack and pay for a larger suitcase or, reduce to the essentials to fit within a backpack. My minimalist mindset took over, and in five minutes we were in the taxi, leaving behind spare shorts, flip-flops, and of course, toothbrush.
So began my journey into minimalism, shifting what holds greatest value, from things I own, to things I do. Ten days of not over-thinking about what to wear, or looking down a camera lens, made more happy memories than any extra outfit could have done. By bringing this simple ideology back home with me, it was my social life that surprisingly transformed.
No longer did I compare myself with my peers, for there was less to analyze. It’s easy to contrast two objects; my car is faster than his, but my phone’s older than hers. Instead, it became much harder to compare my new experiential purchases. No doubt my camping trip cost less than my friend's spa break. Yet, both brought equal happiness. Each experience is unique to us, and nobody can compare that. This new fascination with people’s stories began to expand my previously introverted social skills. ‘What do you enjoy doing?’ and ‘What do you do?’ often lead to very different conversations.
In my pursuit of owning less, and do more, another delightful presence was on the rise—my smile. Happy thoughts grew from both the anticipation and participation of enjoyable experiences. These lasted much longer than if it were for the purchase of a possession. After all, we don’t reminisce with each other about things we bought, but about things we did. I found my smile was noticed more and became infectious amongst friends.
Owning fewer things has freed up my time, money, and confidence to do more. And now more than ever, I look forward to sharing my adventures with the important people in my life.
Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Tokyo, JP.
After introducing you to the cities of Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna and Auckland, this month's 'fourweeksgood' feature moves to Japan. Its capital, Tokyo, is a megacity—modern and full of energy. Tokyo is often described as the city of hustle and bustle. It can be complex, hypercorrect, overwhelming and fast-paced, but there is more to it than flashing hieroglyph neon signs on skyscrapers. Within Tokyo you can also experience a well-run, clean, peaceful, relaxed, and remarkably aesthetic city. You’ll discover misty views, narrow alleys, exceptional charm in residential areas, and a massive amount of architectural gems and unexpected quiet streets. Welcome to a city rich in contrast, welcome to Tokyo—hectic around one corner, totally blissful around the next.
You can read Tokyo's travel guide in Volume N°2 of our digital publication for Minimalism Life.
Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Auckland, NZ.
Following the cities of Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vienna, this month's 'fourweeksgood' featured city is Auckland. Built on an isthmus between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Auckland rightly claims for itself the nickname 'City of Sails'. Life in Auckland revolves around water—living by it, sailing on it, swimming or kayaking. It is a vibrantly diverse place, home to people from all over the globe as well as being home to the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. This melting pot of cultures has created an incredible food scene, as has the abundant and high quality of the seafood from New Zealand waters. One of the best ways to explore Auckland is through the food. We gain a beautiful and minimalist visual insight that leaves us wanting to experience this city and country for ourselves.
Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Vienna, AT.
After introducing you to the cities of Amsterdam and Stockholm, this month's 'fourweeksgood' feature capital is Vienna. Today the chic Austrian capital is the travel destination in daring design and breathtaking architecture. The city is home to a number of remarkable architectural ensembles and fashions, from the classical Baroque designs to the more bizarre modern creations. Art Nouveau was a popular architectural style during the 19th Century, and post-war Vienna saw many interesting structures pop up. Meanwhile, Vienna’s graphic design, fine art, and rare art book publishing communities are all flourishing, creating a must-visit capital for design lovers.
You can read Vienna's travel guide in Volume N°1 of our digital publication for Minimalism Life.
Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Stockholm, SE.
A month ago we introduced 'fourweeksgood' in our Journal, a new series of travel videos created by freelance creative Seraina Silja and experience designer Simon Ammann. The second city we feature is our favorite Scandinavian capital: Stockholm. One of the cleanest cities of its size, Stockholm maintains much of its natural splendor in the parks that cover one-third of the territory. For this reason, the best way to discover the city is by bike as there is an extensive cycle path network. If you travelled without yours, you can rent a commuter bicycle through one of the many providers. The best time for cycling in Sweden is from April through October in the south of the country, as the season is a bit shorter in the north due to the climate.
Living with less and enjoying more, for six months.
Door closed, bag on the back. I was about to experience the trip I dreamt about for almost two years. Half a year away from home, six months of adventure in Europe and so many countries and cultures to discover with only the stuff in my fifty-liter backpack. Since I was young, I've never been a huge consumer who always wanted the latest state-of-the-art thing. I mean less than the average person. On the contrary, I always loved the idea of having few possessions and this trip clearly opened my eyes toward minimalism.
It's been almost three months since I'm back from what was the most amazing adventure in my life. The aim of the trip was to discover cultures and people while traveling in the simplest way possible: hitchhiking. So when you're leaving for a trip like that, you have to make concessions: you only bring items which will favor you and make you happy. It's a first step into the wonderful world of minimalism.
The minimalist aspect of this journey wasn't limited to possessions. I was doing simple things. From spending a whole evening watching the stars in the sky from a giant fjord in Norway, to drinking tea and talking adventures with travelers in Ukraine. By putting dedication into every single little thing, I could appreciate their true value. Simple doesn't have to mean boring. I was enjoying more than ever writing about my journey on my computer, learning the basics of a new language or taking memorable pictures of unknown landscapes.
Travel is a lapse of time during which you are in a required minimalism state: you are living with fewer things than you ordinarily have and this state makes you understand that you actually don't need more. Now that I'm home, I have this in mind. I want to continue following this way of living with fewer material or immaterial things: clothes, papers, apps, emails... Because for me, they now belong to a clutter that I don't want to be part of. I'm not attracted anymore by blindly accumulating things without any purpose.
If you're really motivated to change your life, sharpen how you perceive things and try to apply minimalism on a daily basis, you can and it's a highly rewarding task! I'm progressively seeing the true meaning of things and each step towards minimalism brings a feeling of happiness and freedom in my life.
Above all, I'm understanding that you can not only enjoy living with few things, but you should also put the emphasis on what really matters: human values. Minimalism is about reducing things, not feelings.
Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Amsterdam, NL.
Swiss freelance creative and visual consultant, Seraina Silja, is currently working and living in 12 (of the so-called world's most livable) cities in 12 months this year. She is focusing on visual communication, art direction, story telling and social media campaigns for interior, lifestyle and furniture brands around the globe. As she travels the globe with camera in hand, along with Experience Designer Simon Ammann, Seraina has captured a short but striking insight into the Dutch capital, Amsterdam—known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled façades—hopefully sparking your desire to travel to the city too.
Leaving mostly all of it behind to live a more meaningful life.
I spent the first twenty years of my life in Vermont. I spent the second twenty years in Tidewater Virginia. Maybe I’ll spend the next twenty years in Alaska.
The Green Mountains of my childhood were temperate, rural and open. Norfolk on the other hand was hot, humid and dirty, not to mention flat, loud and congested. While I found great pleasure in delivering sandwiches freakishly fast on my bike in Norfolk, that job didn’t pay enough per hour, nor offer enough hours of work. I wanted to do work that I could take pride in. Mentally I couldn’t work in a call center, or flip burgers, or restock shelves, or sell insurance. I didn’t want to spend anymore of my life driving in a box to work to pay for the box that I needed to drive to my job. I didn’t want to anesthetize my soul anymore with alcohol, cannabis and Prozac.
I was past due to graduate from more than a few relationships and environments in Virginia. Too much was stunted and stale. Too many things were draining value from my life, not adding value to it. You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you, as The Minimalists would say. It was time for a change.
I wanted to be passionate about my next job, and my next home. While common wisdom held that I should follow my passion, I chose to nurture and enable it. I was passionate about biking, teaching, music and community. So I looked for a job that would pay me for my passions. And I found it, as a bicycle tour guide in Southeast Alaska.
My old room became a minimalist packing party. Boxes lined one wall, labeled Storage, Donation, Alaska, and Alaska (maybe). I purged my wardrobe, my closet, my books and my bikes. I gave some stuff to charity, and gave more to friends. “Are you sure you want to give this away?” they’d ask me. “Yes”, I’d tell them, “and you should give it away, too, if you don’t use it.” In my last act of divestment, I sold my car to buy my plane ticket. Only the barest of necessities made the transcontinental journey from Virginia to Alaska.
I landed in Juneau, Alaska with a bicycle, a couple backpacks, a dozen books and a ukulele. I rode the ferry north to Skagway, and found a new community that embodied the minimalist ideal that I had chosen for a season. Does it add value? Josh and Ryan would say on The Minimalists Podcast. Put another way by Ben and Jerry, If it’s not fun, why do it? I wasn’t opposed to the joyless or the valueless, but I was certainly less inclined to tolerate them without a first or a second thought, and at least an overarching reason.
I still drive to work, but now I drive a van with a dozen guests to the peak of the White Pass, Kilometer Twenty Four of the Klondike Highway, at an elevation of nearly one kilometer above sea level. From the summit we ride back down to Kilometer Zero. Coasting on a bike down a glacier valley and into the longest fjord in the Western Hemisphere is sublime. Twice daily I get the privilege and pleasure of guiding clients, riding with them as the wind whips their cheeks and roars in their ears and plasters grins on their faces. We see rainbows and sun rings, mountain goats and marmots. We cross over waterfalls and fault lines before reaching the floodplain, where we ride through one of the bike-friendliest little towns in America.
The joy I feel in Alaska doesn’t come from things I own or buy. True, a well-tempered ukulele or a pair of broken-in hiking boots may add value to my life, but they don’t make me happier in and of themselves. Bicycles, books and friends don’t create happiness so much as they enable happiness. They allow me to create new memories that I’ll treasure for years. And while I’ve given up much to move to Alaska, I’ve gained so much more.
I divested in Virginia.
I live intentionally in Alaska.
How travelling the world can improve your mental and physical well-being.
By plane, train or automobile—we love to travel, or at the very least, we love the idea of travelling—and there are many benefits to being a globetrotter. Even going away for just a few days can make you feel more alive and improve your mental and physical well-being.
I would personally love to wake up everyday by the beach, with a stunning city view or by a snow covered mountain. Unfortunately though, I’m unable to live that lifestyle yet, so for me, going on vacation is the only way to enjoy such sceneries. Lying on the beach or skiing on fresh snow always brings me an entirely new outlook of peace and serenity.
Travelling opens my mind. Exploring different cultures, learning new languages, talking to strangers have added so much wisdom to my life. The more I feed my mind with these experiences, the happier I’ll be. The next time you’re on a flight, talk to your neighbor. These conversations can spark happiness and improve your own sense of well-being.
3. Financial Strength
Strange as it may sound, when I travel I gain my financial comfort zone much quicker than when I don’t. Travelling sometimes requires a lot of money depending on the destination, and because of that I tend to save money faster or work extra hours. If you know you’re going to visit Iceland, chances are you won’t be wasting your money on pointless things.
Travel helps my mind and body. Visiting new places can help cure depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and stress disorder. Many say travelling to India has a healing effect on them. I personally choose beautiful sunset destinations, or a trip in the mountains. Whatever puts you in a happy frame of mind is what you should be looking to gain from your time away from home.
Being really happy every single day is not easy, but travelling a few times per year makes me a pretty content person. Exploring other cities, taking photos, eating unusual food, and enjoying time just for myself are important things that can make my soul feel amazing.
Have an adventure, experience other cultures, taste interesting food and interact with people. Because when you return to your daily life you're going to see things with a fresh perspective. Your work, your neighborhood, and even your country. What you’ll see are new opportunities.