Top Tips for Using Travel Inspiration: Urban Sketching, Literary Scene, and Local Fashion
Everyone has their own favorite style of traveling and so does each of our team members! In this new series, you will see how the people behind The Trip Boutique enjoy exploring the world. Today we introduce our new team member Denisa. A creative soul, she likes to get inspired by the city buzz and use the travel inspiration for urban sketching, literary writing, and experimenting with fashion. Having visited many European metropolises – Prague, Vienna, Munich, Amsterdam, London, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Saint Petersburg, and more – she knows how not to let the hectic urban pace scare off her muse. Below you will find some of her tips on finding inspiration during a city trip without compromising on relaxation and authenticity.
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When she was in high school, Denisa chose Arts as her main subject. ‘In my senior year, our art teacher took us to Munich to spend an entire week at the city’s most interesting galleries. On the way there, each of us received a thick sketchbook of about two hundred pages. At the end of that week, we were supposed to hand it in – full!’ Although the task seemed daunting at first, it turned out to be surprisingly easy and fun: sketching other classmates and strangers gave her something to do when waiting in line or sitting on the bus. Plus, drawing is a great way to appreciate famous artwork – copying Van Gogh or Picasso helps you understand the paintings in a different, more intimate way. ‘Whenever I go on holiday now, I take a sketchbook with me. I draw everywhere: on the metro, on the beach, in art galleries, museums, restaurants, or just simply on the street. Putting what I see on paper makes me a better observer – all the little details I would not notice otherwise are suddenly strikingly obvious.’
From Denisa's travel sketchbook: Savior on the Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg, Russia
If you feel embarrassed to pull out your pen in public, don’t be. In recent years, sketching in urban areas has become a widespread trend; it has even gained a large following on social media. ‘Drawing in cities, towns, or villages is called ‘urban sketching’ online,’ explains Denisa. ‘The movement began in 2007 after a journalist Gabriel Campanario started it on Flickr. Today, urban sketching is a global phenomenon: the people behind it organize meet-ups in different cities all over the world so that you can meet other sketchers and draw side by side.’ In other words, if you look for either a fresh perspective on popular destinations or a community in a foreign city, urban sketching is an option to consider.
Traveling can be tiring so exploring different ways to switch off is crucial. ‘As a literature student, I love to read – it is my favorite way to relax. But when you travel, especially in a city, it can be hard to find a calm spot to enjoy a book.’ What Denisa recommends is to look for a café that also functions as a bookshop. There you get not only the much-needed peace and a cup of artisan coffee but also a collection of books published by local authors. ‘Since most bookshop cafés are independent establishments rather than part of a chain, you can really enter the local literary scene there. My favorites are Kosmos in Zurich, Phil in Vienna, and the iconic Shakespeare & Company in Paris. The reason why I love these is that they sell not just books and coffee but also the experience. While Shakespeare & Company breathes decades of history, Kosmos and Phil mirror the contemporary writing scene of their respective locations.’ With the possibility to meet interesting people and getting inspired by the unique atmosphere, you might even be tempted to write your own book – or perhaps a travel blog? 😉
The iconic independent bookshop Shakespeare and Company in Paris also has its own café.
Speaking of inspiration, many people love to visit other cities to explore different fashion styles. However, with the advent of globalization, the majority of popular destinations are flooded with chain stores selling the exact same collections everywhere in the world. ‘This is why I try to avoid big shopping malls and avenues. Instead, I focus on small boutiques that offer local designs,’ says Denisa.
Since she lives in Switzerland, Denisa has some insider recommendations for shopping in Zurich. ‘Sure, the city is expensive – especially the famous Bahnhofstrasse. Still, you can find some real gems for reasonable prices there. I highly recommend the BIG flagship store. Besides offering a handpicked mix of interesting brands, they also have one of their own called Collectif mon Amour.’ This private label using organic cotton is designed by women in Zurich and produced in various family businesses in Portugal. Perfect if you want to wear something that reminds you of Switzerland and simultaneously support the sustainable fashion industry.
Denisa was born in the Czech Republic, but lives in Switzerland where she studies English Language and Literature at the University of Zurich. When she is not working on blog posts for The Trip Boutique, she enjoys writing short stories and reading.
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