Experience everything!

Victoria Chardon
From London, UK
1 year in Hamburg
Tech consultant for Google

That looks like a pretty extreme experience! What made you decide to jump out of a plane?

I’ve never liked flying and once had to be forcibly strapped into my seat on a tiny plane in Africa when I was trying to get off in a hysterical panic as we were taxiing. I realised that my fear was linked to the idea of falling through the sky rather than flying itself, and on a spur of the moment decision – the kind you can only make in Las Vegas – I decided that skydiving might cure me! The lead up to the jump was awful – I spent an hour crying in the toilet at the airport – and I hated being in the little Cessna plane. When it came to jumping though I had no choice – my tandem instructor was much stronger than me and since I was strapped to him, I couldn’t do much about it! The experience was such an intense adrenaline rush and nowhere near as bad as I expected, aside from some nausea. Am I cured? Well I’m voluntarily going on two more tiny planes in Africa later this year, so let’s see….

Your adventures continue into the culinary: you once ate a sheep’s head in Mongolia! How was it?

It’s considered very rude to refuse hospitality in Mongolia and my guide had arranged the sheep’s head as a surprise, as it’s a national delicacy.  When it arrived on a plate surrounded by boiled potatoes, my heart sank.  Mongolian nomads don’t like to waste any part of the animal, which meant that the whole head had to be eaten.  They have a ritual dictating exactly how it has to be carved and served.  The cheeks and the tongue were both tender and tasted like very strong lamb.  I was dreading the eyeballs but in fact they didn’t taste of anything at all!  The biggest shock was the nose which was difficult to force down – it was chewy and slimy, like a very overcooked calamari ring, and even now my stomach churns at the memory.  I’ve actually found it quite hard to eat lamb ever since, so the lasting impression wasn’t too positive – but at least I managed not to insult my hosts!

Well done! Any culture shock moments in Hamburg so far?

My first Christmas in Hamburg was a magical experience – the Germans are nothing short of professional when it comes to making their country look festive! The lights around Hamburg city centre were beautiful and my first glimpse of the huge Weihnachtsmarkt outside the Rathaus took my breath away. The Christmas season is my favourite time of the year, so to spend it wrapped up in a huge coat, sipping Glühwein and eating Gebrannte Mandeln was a real highlight of my time in Hamburg so far. This year I’m hoping friends from the UK will visit so they can experience the magic too! There have of course been some culture shock moments during my time here as well – in fact I’m writing a blog about them, and you can read all about them at expatinhamburg.wordpress.com.

For many more of Victoria’s adventures in Hamburg and abroad, check out her Instagram (@gru.bby) or get in touch >> v.c.chardon@gmail.com


What’s a fun spot to take photos in Hamburg?

I’ve had a lot of fun with my camera walking along the Elbe; Ovelgönne is a great spot for shots of the port and boats.  The canals and waterways make stunning photos too, especially around the Stadtpark.  Where I live is a canal that I’m addicted to photographing – there’s a little jetty at one end and a bridge at the other and I’ve gotten great shots of the seasons changing from both angles.  As an added bonus, we’ve currently got lots of baby geese and some resident swans there, so there’s the chance of some nice wildlife photography too!


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