“My name is Laura and I’m a water addict…”

It’s no secret to anyone reading this blog that I’m a total water baby. I love adventures of all kinds but rivers, lakes and especially oceans — these are the places I feel go to recharge and where I feel most myself. As you can imagine, I was therefore really proud and incredibly excited to speak at the International Ocean Film Tour with KEEN last weekend. True to form, within 24 hours of landing in Hamburg for the first time, I headed straight to the Elbe River.

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After a brief but brilliant little ramble around Hamburg…

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…it was time to head to the venue, Laeiszhalle — a picturesque concert hall, where KEEN had a few fun tricks up their sleeve for the festival. Not least of all this amazing multicoloured popcorn that was actually gluten free and wrapped in biodegradable wrapping. I can also confirm this popcorn was very, very tasty.

Their UNEEK shoes, made only from 2 cords and a sole, were on show at this festival with Hans making them from scratch! You’ll see these shoes pop up a lot in my photos — they are unbelievably comfortable to wear and a firm favourite of mine! It was really cool to see a behind the scenes of how they’re made — so simple!

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The main focus of this festival was of course the films themselves. I really enjoyed all of the films but there were 2 that I aboslutely adored.

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The first was only a few minutes long — a film featuring Leila Hurst surfing in Salina Cruz, Mexico. It’s a film utterly filled with infectious joy and brightness. The film is called “Hola Sunshine” and the official description says this film “celebrates the sunny side of life”. It does exactly that — and it does it beautifully.

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The second film, The Other Shore, was the much anticipated story of legendary marathon swimmer Diana Nyad and her incredible swim from Cuba to Florida. I knew a little of Diana’s story and I’m a huge fan of her TED talks when I need motivation, but this film was an amazing insight into a remarkable woman. From the heart-breaking stories from her early swimming career to the fierce determination she showed in her 60s to complete the swim to Florida, it was impossible to watch this film without feeling entirely inspired and in awe of such a brave and beautiful athlete. I can’t recommend this film enough.

In the midst of these awe-inspiring films, it was huge fun addressing the crowds at both showings. After introducing myself as a fellow water addict, the aim of my talk was really to encourage everyone to bring a little more adventure in to their lives — to emphasise that adventure shouldn’t just be something we watch on a screen and that we are not desinged to live our lives inside.

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Watching these films was an important reminder to me, too — in the midst of preperations for an adventure, it’s easy to lose sight of that excited spark that made you want to begin in the first place. It was midnight by the time I put my head down to sleep on Saturday but I definitely went to bed smiling!

The next morning, Maren (from KEEN) and I were toying with the various options for the day ahead seeing as we both had an evening flight booked. First things first of course, we went in search of breakfast. I can safely say I’ve never seen a breakfast buffet quite like the one we found on Sunday morning. I mean, just look at it:

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Hamburg : where the breakfast buffet comes with a chocolate fountain![/caption]

I have a confession: we actually ended up staying here for about 4 hours… which admittedly meant we didn’t see a lot of Hamburg that morning, but it was wonderful to just stop and relax — a concept that seems to have become a little alien these days. I knew I was flying home to resume a busy training regime so I made the decision to enjoy the rest.

When we did eventually peel ourselves away from the restaurant, it was lovely to explore a bit more of Hamburg by foot before heading to the airport. It was really quiet and it felt like we mostly had the city to ourselves — I wondered if everyone else had also been caught in the delicious but deadly food buffet trap.

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The flight back was perfectly timed to coincide with the sunset — the plane lifted off the ground as we were all treated to a view of the sun sinking into the clouds. Unfortunately, my attempts at capturing the gorgeous scene out of the plane window weren’t hugely successful so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

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I’m really looking forward to speaking at the International Ocean Film tour again when it hits the Netherlands on April 7th — make sure to say hi if you’re there!

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