Today I want to talk about the weather. Not something I usually do unless I’m getting sucked into awkward small talk or I’m cold. Which, truth to be told, I am about 97% of the time since I moved from Cape Town to Hamburg. Exceptions are when I am at Bikram yoga or wearing my wetsuit. But today I want to talk about a different kind of weather as we have a heat wave going around the northern hemisphere.

You would assume people are delighted, because at least in Germany & Co a heat wave means “hitzefrei” for school kids – yes, you get to play hooky with permission – and that you finally don’t look ridiculous anymore driving around with your open convertible. Because usually people in Hamburg will do that as long as there is one ray of sunshine on the horizon regardless of the temperatures and British people, well, they wear shorts pretty much all year long. I get that you northerners are tough and I admire your enthusiasm, but it does look a bit ridiculous at times. Not so now, with temperatures climbing up to 38 (!!!) degrees this weekend. That is Celsius, girls, not Fahrenheit!

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You would assume we would be the most excited because after all having more than one day of summer means you may actually get to enjoy a weekend outside. But for some reason most people don’t. They start to complain that they are too hot. I mean really – you actually complain because you are too hot for 5 seconds of your life?! I cannot even begin to wrap my head around that. Honestly I feel a little offended on behalf of the great weather and if I was sunshine I would disappear immediately just to prove a point. I think the only people who have a legitimate reason to complain is my friend who is 9 months pregnant and anybody in Morocco where the temperatures are hitting 50 degrees and it is Ramadan.

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Anybody else needs to go away and stop annoying the people – me – who are usually always cold (even now while writing this outside, 10 o’clock at night, there is a somewhat chilly breeze that I don’t appreciate). What I’ve come to realize is that in Cape Town people cannot cope with rain. They stay inside as if they are afraid to melt and if they venture and drive, they are complete lunatics because they just don’t know how. In Europe, the opposite holds true as people seem to not be able to cope with heat and vast amounts of sunshine. And that’s where I come in. After seven years of Cape Town summers, a Bikram teacher training that taught me a thing or two about humidity, and an overall love for all things hot I am here to help you, women of the north, how to deal with summer!


1. Summer in the City

Of course, the best way to enjoy summer is on a beach, in the mountains or at least in a park, but we city slickers don’t always have that option. Luckily I am one of the few bizarre people who actually love a big city in heat. Whether that is New York, Bangkok or today little Hamburg there is a beauty to steaming and yes, sometimes stinky, sidewalks. But if you don’t share that sentiment and feel rather stuck in the city this summer, I recommend you listen to this song on repeat. It is hot, sexy and will make you appreciate a summer in the city.

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2. Sundress Up

Remember How I Met Your Mother and Barney’s statement that sundresses are the best item of clothing? Well, he is quite right. So get yourself something pretty and get excited about the fact that unlike most American offices we are usually not punished with an overeager AC at work in Europe. So sundress up!

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3. Ice bucket challenge

If due to the lack of good old air-conditioning you get too hot get a bucket full of cold water, put it underneath your desk, and dunk your feet inside. Admittedly that won’t be possible at every office, but you might be surprised what can happen if you offer to share with your boss. And if even that doesn’t fly, it sure is something to look forward once you come home.


4. Frozen Everything

Duh, that should go without saying, but summer really gives you a free pass to indulge. If you are looking for a healthy ice cream version make your own popsicles out of fresh fruit juices. If wine is your choice of fruit juice make ice cubes out of white wine and remember that more than a few reds definitely taste better when chilled.

Berlin's 5 best ice-cream parlours, Kathi Kamleitner |

5. Get moving

What? In these temperatures? Of course, because there is no better time to get extra sticky during a Bikram class. The studio will feel cool(ish) compared to outside, so it is the perfect time to start. And if yoga is not your cup of ice cold water, visit your regular and probably well-temperated gym. No excuse here to not break an extra sweat.

6. Have a cook-off…

… but a cool one with the one quintessential summer recipe – Gazpacho. While it has it origins in Spain, I was first introduced to it during a cook-off between my South African uncle and one of his Spanish friends in Cape Town and I was immediately hooked. Not only is it the perfect dish for hot temperatures, it is also inexpensive, gluten-free and vegan. So gather some friends, a big pot and get cooking to cool down.

Gazpacho Recipe à la Domestic Goddesses – makes about 1.5 litres

½ cup of macadamia nuts (or nuts of choice)
¼ cup of good olive oil
500ml of veg stock (more if needed)
500g of ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp of tomato paste
½ a cucumber, peeled and seeded
½ a red pepper seeded
½ a tsp of garlic
¼ of a small red onion
2 Tbsp honey, (or to taste)
½ a tsp of lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbsp of lemon juice (or to taste)
1 Tbsp of white balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp of fresh sweet basil (optional)
fresh chilli (if desired)
¼ tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste

Blend the nuts and oil until they form a fine paste. Add all the other ingredients and blend until you reach the desired consistency. Check the seasoning. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

For a colorful and crunchy finish serve with croutons and sprinkle some of the ingredients like diced cucumber and peppers on top of the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some black pepper before serving.

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7. Spray on

If you can’t find an outdoor restaurant that will offer its suffering customers a fine, refreshing spray of mist to cool off, bring your own. The one thing I will not ever travel without – face spritz – ideal for planes & summertime. Keep it in the fridge and then cool down with classic Evian, traditional Moroccan rose water or my new favorite Kiehl’s Flight Refreshing Facial.

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8. Ice ice baby

Iced coffee comes in many different shapes and sizes: in Germany you will get a coffee sundae with actual whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, in South Africa they will ask you whether they should use hot or cold milk for your iced latte – duh! – and in Vietnam it doesn’t matter as long as the milk is sweet and comes out of a can. New York was the place where I had my first Starbuck’s iced cappuccino and fell in love with it. I moved on quickly though once I realized that there are other places who do it much better and that I actually prefer simple cold filter coffee with ice cubes (don’t judge me!). But if you are really looking for the perfect ice cold caffeine fix I strongly recommend you make your way to Greece, because their freddo cappuccino is a drink straight from the gods with milk foam whipped like a cloud.

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9. Pool girl

No beach in sight? No decent public pool? And no getting into Soho House? Unfortunately that is the downside of living in the city for most of us. But fear not, because believe it or not a lot of hotels offer their pool up to the public and no, you don’t need to jump the fence. Simply ask at reception if you can have a drink at the pool bar and you are in!

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10. The next ice age

Still too hot? There are plenty of gorgeous places in this world that currently sport snowcapped peaks or at least temperatures in the lower double digits. If you still want eternal sunshine check out Reykjavik for a getaway or a delightful off-season in Cape Town. And if nothing can cool you down during these few hot summer days, just remember – the next winter is just around the corner and may come sooner than you want. So suck it up, soak up the rays and enjoy how sweat feels trickling down your skin – you may miss it soon enough!

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Images by Sophie Saint, Kathi Kamleitner & Annika Ziehen.

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!