Around the world with sketchbook and pens
23.02.2020 | updated on 17.03.2020
Sometimes one is lucky in misfortune: When your employer shuts down the company and sends everyone home from one day to the other, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a trip around the world! With my sketchbook and pencils in my backpack, I set off on November 13 in 2018 to visit 21 cities in 15 countries within 66 days and decided to come back home with a full sketchbook.
13. November 2018
Berlin to Kiew | TXL ➝ KBP 14:55 - 18:05
Ukraine Intl Airlines
World Tour Day 1 to 4
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Walked 53,42 km
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In Kiev, winter raged around -3 °C and laid a thick blanket of snow over the city. White and grey, however, look very good on Kiev, because the other colours really seem to shine even brighter.
Despite the freezing cold, constant snowfall and frozen streets, you can meet people trying to sell fruit, vegetables, fish and other things from boxes and cartons. This makes you think.
The empty sketchbook, which I bought especially for the tour around the world, was in front of me and I didn't really know what to start with. In the end, I just started drawing, because the pages would not be filled by overthinking things.
16. November 2018
Kiev to Tbilisi | KBP ➝ TBS 13:00 - 17:45
World Tour Day 4 to 7
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Walked 60,26 km
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In some corners of the city there is the scent of freshly baked bread, ripe fruit, vegetables and spices. In other corners, scents that you would rather not have known get into your nose. The streets are narrow and damaged, pedestrian walkways are rarely found outside the centre, car drivers enrich the noise with constant honking and countless stray dogs and cats roam the streets.
Food stalls are as much a part of Tbilisi's cityscape as the many broken houses. Fish, fruit, vegetables, spices, sweets: Everything is presented on folding tables or in boxes by the side of the street. Tbilisi has its very own charm which is so much different from what you know from Germany.
Tbilisi filled two pages in my sketchbook and the choice of motifs could not have been more casual: A house and fruit boxes. To be honest, I have never been able to get enthusiastic about drawing houses, but Tbilisi changed that.
19. November 2018
Tbilisi to Yerevan | Overnight Train: 20:20 - 06:55
World Tour Day 8 to 10
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Walked 36,64 km
From Tbilisi I took an ancient train to Yerevan. In direct comparison to Tbilisi, the Armenian capital appears to be the complete opposite: the streets are intact, clean, there are wide sidewalks for pedestrians, traffic lights, zebra crossings and far and wide there is hardly a stray cat or dog to be seen.
The trip to Yerevan was great, but not really inspiring for me. Even though I enjoyed walking through the city and exploring it, in the end it was a bit difficult to find inspiration for sketches.
22. November 2018
Yerevan to Dubai | EVN ➝ DXB 18:55 - 22:10
World Tour Day 10 to 13
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Walked 42,62 km
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Everyone knows Dubai from the media and we all have a certain idea of the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, but I was still blown away when I got there. For me, it was as if I had taken a trip into the future: trains travel without train drivers, huge skyscrapers shine as if freshly polished in the blistering heat, and you can walk for hours over artificially created islands.
Dubai is certainly a dream come true for anyone who likes to draw buildings or admire them in general. But I am still struggling with drawing buildings. Burj Khalifa with its many parallel lines was a tedious challenge, so the choice for the remaining motifs was no longer buildings.
The head of a man made it to the second page. Maybe I should draw people more often in the future when I visit new cities and countries.
25. November 2018
Dubai to Bahrain | DXB ➝ BAH 08:00 - 08:15
Bahrain to Colombo | BAH ➝ CMB 13:15 - 20:35
World Tour Day 13 to 16
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Walked 33,44 km
As someone who has hardly seen anything of the world and grew up in a big city bubble, my first impression of Colombo was absolutely chaotic: Broken streets with broken or no sidewalks at all, countless tuk tuks, motorbikes and cars driving around in confusion, people running all over the place and open power cables hanging down at eye level. I was really not sure how to find something to draw in this chaos.
At the end of the day it was not the Lotus Tower or the European buildings of Fort that made it into my sketchbook, but the chaotic street right in front of the hotel with all its tuk tuk, shops, people and cables. It was very difficult for me to put this chaos on paper, because you have to plan such ideas well before you start.
Besides the chaotic street, I also liked the people in Colombo very much, so some drawings of heads made it into the sketchbook.
28. November 2018
Colombo to Kuala Lumpur | CMB ➝ KUL 23:00 - 05:10
World Tour Day 17 to 18
Walked 19,45 km
The sixth destination is a beautiful city full of plants and modern buildings: Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur. I fell in love with the city from the very first second and I was immediately sure that I would have no problems finding inspiration here.
I love plants, which is why Kuala Lumpur is a true paradise for me: they grow along the streets, on balconies, in gardens on roof terraces and even along the walls of houses!
After Burj Khalifa I actually thought that I would not be drawing any more buildings so soon. But Kuala Lumpur changed my attitude, because at least one of the richly planted houses had to be in my sketchbook. But with the Petronas Twin Towers (which really got extremely out of shape in my drawing) I was sure again that buildings are not my strength.
30. November 2018
Kuala Lumpur to Melaka | Tiny Bus: 23:30 - 02:00
World Tour Day 19
Walked 15,07 km
Melaka was not originally on the agenda, but since the city is only 150 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, it was worth throwing all plans overboard and spending the last day in Malaysia there.
During colonial times Melaka was first occupied by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch and finally by the British. Each of the colonial powers left their mark on the city, with the red, monochrome buildings of the Dutch dominating the picture in the old town.
I created a drawing in Melaka, of which I am very proud! In the past years I have been concentrating on drawing people better and even though I have made progress in my craft, all my drawings seem lifeless. I had to admit to myself that nothing happens in my drawings and they are simply boring.
In Colombo I was finally able to draw a picture with life again, but this cannot hold a candle to this drawing from Melaka. I finally managed to capture a real moment vividly, namely an architecture student who drew the roofs in Melaka.
01. Dezember 2018
Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta | KUL ➝ CGK 13:15 - 20:35
World Tour Day 19 bis 21
Walked 13,33 km
The capital of Indonesia can be a big surprise for anyone who searches the Internet only briefly: The Google image search shows the sparkling skyline and the imposing square of the National Monument. On location, however, Jakarta shows itself from a completely different side.
Even though Jakarta was not my golden source of inspiration, at least one new page in my world travel sketchbook had to be filled.
I chose the National Monument and two girls.
03. Dezember 2018
Jakarta to Bangkok | CGK ➝ DMK 16:35 - 20:15
World Tour Day 21 to 23
Walked 17,58 km
After Jakarta I went on to the magnificent capital of Thailand: Bangkok! Here, culturally rich facilities collide with the most modern architecture.
I was particularly impressed by one sight: King Power MahaNakhon. The glass building, which was just completed in 2016 and opened to the public, looks fabulous from afar and is a must for all those who love tall buildings.
King Power MahaNakhon made it into my sketchbook first with its spiral-like pixellation. Afterwards I rummaged through my photos in my hotel room and found some more ideas for drawing.
05. Dezember 2018
Bangkok to Vientiane | Nighttrain 20:00 - 06:45
World Tour Day 24 to 27
Walked 24,39 km
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Vientiane is, contrary to other capitals, very quiet, but it was a nice change to the rest of the program of the world trip.
On the second day there was even the possibility to rent a scooter and make a day trip out of Vientiane. Unfortunately it ended with very strong sunburn, but it was still beautiful!
Vientiane inspired me to my first landscape drawing on the world tour! It's been a long time since I was able to get enthusiastic about a landscape drawing the last time. They may look simple, but you need to be quite focused when drawing the different layers one after the other.
Something I noticed in Vientiane, because it has become a rare sight in Berlin: children running around in the city and playing with each other. No child owns a smartphone, but instead a ball or other toy that is shared with friends and siblings.
09. Dezember 2018
Vientiane to Hanoi | VTE ➝ HAN 14:40 - 15:50
World Tour Day 27 to 30
Walked 27,87 km
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Vietnam's capital is a lively and vibrant city with beautiful corners that look great in both photos and sketchbooks. I would not have thought that of all places I will draw something here of which I will be outrageously proud for a long time to come!
At this point in the world tour I have to admit to myself that I no longer hate drawing buildings. I simply had to capture the narrow houses from Hanoi in my sketchbook – and it was a lot of fun!
The third drawing from Hanoi is based on a photo of a woman transporting a lot of flowers on her bicycle. Many people come to Hanoi every day from surrounding villages to sell things on the street and thus finance their families.
12. Dezember 2018
Hanoi to Seoul | HAN ➝ ICN 23:15 - 05:25
World Tour Day 31 to 33
Walked 29,66 km
I was especially looking forward to the 12th stop, because it was going to Seoul! I visited the South Korean capital only once before during my studies in summer 2013 and promised myself to come back one day. Who would have thought that more than 5 years would pass until the next reunion.
It's a good thing I took colored pencils with me on the world trip, because drawing Seoul without color would have been unthinkable. In Seoul you meet many narrow streets with walls full of brightly coloured signs. This was a motif that had to be included in my sketchbook.
Also the richly decorated, traditional roofs could not be missing. I struggled a little with the details of the ornaments, but I just scribbled on a small DIN A5 format. This makes you appreciate the work of the architects and artists of the houses in Korea even more.
15. Dezember 2018
Seoul to Busan | KTX 14:00 - 16:00
World Tour Day 33 to 34
Walked 26,94 km
It took about two hours by train from Seoul to the southern end of the South Korean peninsula: Busan! But there was not much time to explore the port city, because the next flight was supposed to take off the following day.
After the check-in at the hotel I dropped off my things and made my way directly to the harbour, because the sun was already moving towards the horizon. It was dipped in wonderful colours! Good thing that I did not spend too much time strolling around in the hotel room.
During the short time in Busan I only managed to create one drawing. The choice fell on something that I could not see with my own eyes, but with the drone: the many houses of the city standing close together.
16. Dezember 2018
Busan to Osaka | PUS ➝ KIX 16:00 - 17:20
World Tour Day 34 to 37
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Walked 70,62 km
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Even if the farewell from South Korea was a little hard for me, I was immediately overwhelmed by the excitement for Osaka!
Besides all the great impressions, it was especially the cleanliness on the streets that impressed me the most. But how is it possible that a woman picks up the accidentally lost piece of paper of a stranger and nobody throws an empty cup on the street? I was told that in Japan there are no cleaners at schools and that the students all clean their school themselves. This is not a measure to save money, but to encourage students to keep their environment clean starting at a young age.
Osaka Castle was the first motif to make its way into my world travel sketchbook, followed by an everyday moment on a street. I can't explain why I only half finished both drawings, but at least the Osaka drawings follow a consistent style.
On the 36th day, I left Osaka by train in less than an hour to Kyoto for a great day trip. Kyoto was the seat of the Tennō (Emperor) during the Edo period (1603 to 1868) and is today one of the most important cities in Japanese history and culture. So the train ride could not be over fast enough, because I was really looking forward to explore this wonderful city.
From Kyoto I took long lasting, strong sore muscles with me as well as many great impressions. Already in the train back to Osaka my fingers were tingling and a short time later there were three more drawings in my sketchbook.
19. Dezember 2018
Osaka to Honolulu | KIX ➝ HNL 23:40 - 12:05
World Tour Day 37 to 41
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Walked 60,81 km
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Aloha! The 16th stop is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: We went to Honolulu, the capital of beautiful Hawaii. On top of that I went on a time travel, because the flight over the dateline threw me back to the beginning of day 37.
I couldn't have imagined a better place for the middle of the world tour than Honolulu. The world trip is a wonderful adventure for which I am very grateful, but it did me good to put my feet up for a few days and not to walk from one landmark to another.
One day I would like to visit Hawaii again and discover the other islands with my sketchbook! And since it will surely go back into the water, I will buy a surf shirt. Why not just use sunscreen? This video about the terrible effects of sun creams on coral reefs can explain that better than I can!
Most days in Honolulu I spent watching fish while snorkeling, lying on the beach and drawing! In the end, these were everyday things that I captured in my sketchbook. And a rainbow really belongs to those things! It seems as if there is always one over O'ahu.
23. Dezember 2018
Honolulu to San Francisco | HNL ➝ SFO 13:40 - 20:50
World Tour Day 41 to 44
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Walked 41,75 km
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The West Coast of the USA greets: The 17th stop is San Francisco, where I spent Christmas away from home for the first time. Instead of unpacking Christmas presents under the little tree at home, I went in search of inspiration for new drawings.
The two Christmas holidays I spent mainly in the hotel. I edited videos, wrote blog posts and decided to sketch the Golden Gate Bridge. In retrospect, it was pretty clear that there was no better motive for San Francisco.
26. Dezember 2018
San Francisco to San José
Bus 10:30 - 12:20
27. Dezember 2018
San José to Oakland
13:20 - 14:55
28. Dezember 2018
San Francisco to Las Vegas
OAK ➝ LAS 12:36 - 14:04
World Tour Day 46 to 51
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Walked 41,75 km
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Las Vegas is really a weird place: The city is located in the middle of the Mojave Desert and is basically a huge playground for adults, which can sometimes be quite expensive. I wasn't very successful in Vegas when it comes to drawing and sketching, but the city taught me to take things in life in a light-hearted way. Instead of worrying about the still empty pages in the sketchbook, I hoped for red in roulette and nibbled hot cheetos in the hotel room while editing videos. Viva Las Vegas!
Out on the street I couldn't find a something to draw, but in the cozy hotel room it was crystal clear: A showgirl had to be in the sketchbook!
02. Januar 2019
Las Vegas to Los Angeles | LAS ➝ LAX 09:00 - 10:10
03. Januar 2019
Los Angeles to Cancun | LAX ➝ CUN 12:08 - 19:35
World Tour Day 52 to 54
Walked 24,49 km
There was not much time to explore Cancún, as I arrived late on the first day and had to leave very early the day after next for the airport. I used the remaining full day for an excursion to ancient Mayan ruins and met some very fascinating locals.
The sun was shining and it was super warm, so this time I had no excuse not to draw outside. While the iguanas relaxed between the ruins or ran across the meadow, I dedicated myself to my sketchbook.
05. Januar 2019
Cancún to Havana | CUN ➝ HAV 08:25 - 09:30
World Tour Day 54 to 60
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Walked 61,79 km
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Although nothing bad happened to me in Havana, it was the first place where people often tried to rip me off. Immediately upon arrival I found out, for example, that the address of the accommodation given on Booking.com was wrong. A rather taciturn man took me to the right accommodation, but even there many things were not as they were sold.
It seems as if every tourist is a walking moneybag and everybody tries to take out as much as possible. Even children try their luck when careless tourists look in the wrong direction. I have never seen small hands flitting in and out of a strangers handbag so fast. But this only applies to the old town, as further down the street people are busy with themselves, go to work and are not interested in tourists.
I soon noticed that it was impossible to draw outside: I was constantly approached in the old town and only got rid of some people by leaving sightseeings much too fast. So it would only have been possible to draw outside if I had been willing to also engage in sales talks (and watch out for my bag).
11. Januar 2019
Havana to Miami | HAV ➝ MIA 11:45 - 13:01
12. Januar 2019
Miami to New York | MIA ➝ LGA 12:34 - 15:29
New York was cold. Very cold! It didn't snow like in Kiev, but it was still much colder. So it was even more crazy to see some New Yorkers on No Pants Day in the freezing cold without pants or other legwear. Even the Naked Cowboy on Times Square didn't seem to mind the cold, while I was terribly unhappy about having lost my hat in an Uber.
I love squirrels, that's why I put one in my sketchbook! There are plenty of these cute animals in Central Park, where they were all searching the ground for something to eat.
At the beginning of the world tour I was afraid I would not be able to fill the whole sketchbook. In the end, however, I had to think about which sketch would get the place of honor on the last page. The choice fell on the Flatiron Building, but in my drawing it comes off a bit too wide.
16. Januar 2019
New York to Stockholm | JFK ➝ ARN 22:30 - 11:50
17. Januar 2019
Stockholm to Berlin | ARN ➝ SFX 19:25 - 21:00
Home is where the airport consists of containers and where people follow the rules to the letter! When I was waiting for my luggage at Schoenefeld Airport, the whole trip seemed unreal and at the same time I was very happy to be back home.
But what about the sketchbook? I came home with 46 pages filled with drawings and sketches! The first page was titled Weltreise Sketchbook and three pages fell victim to a tragic fate. Nevertheless I would say that the mission was a success.