Europe, Italy, Travel

Exploring Northern Italy – Tuscany, Assisi and Venice

With our base in Florence for 10 days we took the opportunity to explore other cities in Tuscany as well as Venice and Assisi. This seemed to work well as it allowed us to have a steady base, but also see so much of the nature in lovely Northern Italy as we crossed back and forth by train 🙂

Assisi

It wasn’t our first day trip, but it was certainly the most emotional one so this gets go first. We got there by train and local bus, but while we were there we saw quite a few tour buses so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a company doing trips there. Assisi is a tiny village in the Umbria region in Northern Italy. It is famous for being the birth place of Saint Francis of Assis as well as several other religious figures. For such a tiny village, it sure has a lot of churches (notably Church of San Pietro for examples) , and for this reason as well as visitors being able to visit the tomb of St.Francis it has become a place of pilgrimage.

Must Do: Walk to the very top of the village, next to a fortress of sorts, and take in the view. It is breathtaking.

It is a beautiful little village, quiet and traditional, despite the occasional souvenir shop. Or maybe not souvenir shops, but more like shops for religious mementos and figures. It was very clear that though small, it has been, and still is a religious centre. This said, I have never considered myself particularly religious, always believing in “something” but never God as we know him. A higher power yes, a man who created all of earth, no. I still had one of the most emotional experiences of my life when I entered the Holy site of St. Francis tomb. Laura and I  walked into the round room and sat down, a little way apart from each other. It was quiet and I thought of my late Grandfather and sent some thoughts his way. I sent some thoughts to my friends and family. And then I looked at the tomb and started crying. Not hysterically, and not audibly, but tears were running at a steady pace down my face and I felt so much grief. Overwhelming grief. Like the entire room contained the grief of centuries of people mourning the loss of the patron saint of Italy.  I won’t go into it more than that, but I will say this : I walked out of the room and out of the church and felt lighter than I had in years. That silent church room felt peaceful and safe and the emotional release that happened in it stayed with me for a long time.

Monterosso – Cinque Terre Coast

We were only going to go to the beach one day to relax a little by recommendation of Nadine (our host at the B&B) but once we got there we decided to go back for another day. Who knew that such a tropical looking and feeling beach could be found so far north?  Monterosso al mare is the biggest of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre coastline. Now, we had spent so much time exploring other cities that when we got to Monterosso we spotted the beach and decided to just stay there. It didn’t help that it was very very warm for the season and lying straight out soaking up some sun seemed like the best plan of action. We enjoyed it immensely, despite me getting a severe sunburn on my legs after going for a dip, and I know I want to go back there and see more.  Only this year the Cinque Terre coast line and the villages along it have become the “it” place to be and now everyone who is anyone have explored the five villages and my Instagram timeline is all Italy. It has become evident that we missed out on some spectacular views, but that just means I have an excuse to go back. As if I need an excuse 😛

Venice

One of the cities we really were looking forward to visit was World Heritage Site Venice. The city that is not a city exactly, but rather hundreds of little islands that all together make up the rocky foundation of a city. Gondolas, the architecture, the picturesque river “streets”, it all came together and offered a wholly romantic experience. I didn’t question the honeymoon destination stamp for a minute, because everything screamed romanticised nostalgia and historical grandeur. It was gorgous, but quiet, if one walked out of the steam of tourist (the Norwegian herring in a bucket metaphor has never been more appropriate).

It also felt like a ghost city. We took a wrong turn on purpose and ended up in no mans land. Only old buildings and quiet waters. No life in the windows and no life in the streets. The historical grandeur was still present, but it became aerie. The emptiness of the vast city compared to what it must have been like was loud and intrusive, but an experience in itself. Venice was an odd mix of bustling tourism and absolute silence, but it was all together beautiful.

Lucca and Bologna

The other two cities we visited were Lucca and Bologna. Lucca is known in particular for the historical Renaissance city walls. We spent hours walking the pedestrian paths on the wall and enjoying the view of the architecture. When lunch time rolled around we had followed the maps to the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a square that used to be an old amphitheater, but is a shopping and food centre today. We sat down at a café and spent time people watching, soaking up the smells and the sounds and the rapid Italian flying around all around the square.

Must Visit Tip : Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a wonderful square full of life and colour, cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops if you go looking for postcards.

Bologna is another historical city, but this one is arguably most known for the use of arches in the architecture. Bologna is also the place of origin of Bolognese, but arguably not the Dolmio kind, as when we had some bolognese in Bologna it tasted heavenly. The food we ate in Bologna was as Italian as it gets and there were so so many places to choose from. If you prefer a menu in English some restaurants do offer that, but often restaurants that cater to locals more than tourists are cheaper so take that into consideration!

Our 12 days in Rome, Florence and Tuscany were some of the best days of my life and we couldn’t have asked for better weather or better hosts. Impressions for a lifetime, but just a taster of what Italy has to offer.  I can’t wait to go back one day, hopefully not too far in the future. Xxx

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Europe, Italy, Travel

Italy: Florence Is My Favourite

After a couple of wonderful days in a sunny Rome we caught a train up north to Florence, the biggest city in the Northern region of Tuscany and the birthplace of the Renaissance. We stayed in a little Bed&Breakfast called “My Friends Guesthouse” run by a lovely young woman called Nadine. She gave us local  tips on all the best places to get food in town, told us about the little hidden treasures we should look for and helped us out with everything from maps, getting our laundry done and booking train tickets when the website was only available in Italian. The guesthouse is close to the train station and had such a lovely atmosphere that I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling, but maybe especially for women, as it felt very safe.

We stayed for a week and a half in Florence, using it as a base for day trips out to  a number of different cities, but we also spent a significant amount of time exploring the city itself. With under 400 000 inhabitants it’s not a very large city, but it can boast with being one of the fashion capitals of the world, its historic centre (centro storico) is  a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it  is arguably one of the most architecturally beautiful cities in the world (oh how I wish I knew I would eventually start a travel blog and had taken more and better photos).

Must-See Tip: Piazzale de Michelangelo. Catch a bus or walk up to this lovely square that offers a brilliant view of Florence and the surrounding area, but make sure to bring a camera because you will want to capture it!

After being tourists in Rome, we needed a change of pace so the slightly less hectic Florence was just what the doctor ordered. Where we in Rome rushed around to do as much as possible in the few days we had, we took it rather leisurely in Florence and it felt like we were getting even closer to the authentic Italy.

While in Florence we visited the Accademia Galleria, home of the famous Michelangelo statue David. It was a lovely gallery, albeit a little underwhelming, despite David being about three times bigger than expected. We had to queue for a long time to get tickets and the queue stretched on for almost two  blocks so if I were to go again I would probably have gotten the tickets online (see link above). Another famous gallery in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery, but this one we sadly didn’t have time to visit. We did however see two of the main attractions: the medieval Ponte Vecchio (literally, “old bridge) and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Walking through the streets of the historic centre where both are located is like walking back in time. Gorgeous, breathtaking, awesome, they all apply.

Best Pizza In Town Tip: Gusta Pizza  the best and most authentic italian pizza in Florence. They cook the pizza from scratch with good quality ingredients and despite being very very busy, this little restaurant is well worth a visit! Keep in mind that on especially busy times or days there may not be enough places to sit, but there is a piazza (square) right around the corner next to the  Basilica San Miniato al Monte which makes for a lovely lunch spot!

Though there are many things to see as a tourist in Florence, it’s not a city that screams tourism and it doesn’t take much to get away from the crowd. It doesn’t  take much to find quiet little areas that are imbued with a calm Italian soul and is rather busy just being a city and not a tourist machine. It doesn’t take much to go from city-break to small-town idyll and I loved that about Florence. In our almost two week long trip, there is no doubt in my mind that Florence was my favorite city by far and I can’t wait for a chance to return.

In between touring the ever-charming streets of this quintessential Italian city we spent our days exploring  Venice, Assisi, Lucca, Bologna and Monterosso on the Cinque Terre coast . We took local trains and it was a wonderful way of seeing a lot of Northern Italy, but not having to move around all the time. A post about our time spent exploring Tuscany will be up soon! Xxx

Europe, Italy, Travel

Italy: Sightseeing Rome & The Best Gelato In Town

Oh, Rome, oh Rome, how I love you!  Right after my Epic Ireland Adventure last year I packed my bags again and headed off to Italy for 12 days with my Brazilian friend Laura (the one I will be visiting in Rio de Janeiro next year whiii). Our first stop was Rome and we had three days to explore the city. Neither of us had ever been to Italy or to Rome before so we came open to any and all impressions and was delighted by everything we saw.

Our first day was spent doing general sightseeing and getting a feel of the city and the public transport. We quickly checked off the Spanish steps, the Trevi fountain with its surrounding cobblestone streets, the Pantheon and a couple of famous Piazzas (squares) from our “to see” list and of course we ended the day with a pasta dinner.

Rome is romantic from top to bottom and was made for wandering. We walked from place to place between the little signs around the city, reading maps and often just following the stream of people. We visited the city outside of the high season, but as it happens it was Easter so the streets were packed with religious pilgrims and excited tourists wanting to catch a glimpse of the Pope anyway, and the Metro was busy.

We quickly discovered that Rome is a tourist city. Everywhere there are streams of tourists visiting the top attractions and it takes a little walking to get places if you want to avoid the Metro. Walking the streets of Rome turned out to be one of the best decisions we made however, because exploring outside of the touristic paths meant we got to see a calmer Rome. A Rome slow in tempo and an everyday life kind of Rome, like the Trastevere district. I preferred the outskirts of the city to the endless queuing of the main attractions, for example seeing the Trevi fountain in real life and tossing a coin into it was a bucket list moment, but it was slightly dampened by feeling slightly claustrophobic among hundreds of other people doing the same thing.

Gelato Tip: The best gelato in town according to pretty much every local we met was the Gelateria La Romana. Mindblowingly tasty natural flavours and a really lovely warm atmosphere that doesn’t cater to tourists (with english translations and such) but instead comes across as authentically Italian – we ended up going back every single day we were in Rome for a tasty treat!

On our second day we headed off to the the Roman Forum, the historic city centre,  to soak up some history. As part of the Roman Forum round trip you can head up on Palatine Hill, the location of the ancient settlement that eventually become Rome and gaze upon ruins that looks straight out of Hercules. It was beautiful. It really hit home the magnitude of what used to be the Roman empire as well as the sheer “oldness” of it all. I touched a stone wall that was thousands of years old and it took my breath away.

Our last day in Rome was spent exploring the Colosseum and seeing the Vatican city as well as walking through the city for our last round of Gelato at La Romana.  We also wandered into Orange Park, a green area located on quite a steep hill that gives you an excellent view of the St.Peter’s Basilica. When we visited the Vatican, we ended up not going into the basilica due to the queue being several hours long, but we enjoyed exploring the grounds around it and the striking image it made against the city backdrop.

Colosseum Ticket Tip: Get your tickets to both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum at the Roman Forum entrance. The queue is about 3 times as long to get tickets at the Colosseum so we saved a lot of time! Another option is getting them online, just make sure to avoid the queue to get your tickets as the queue to get in also takes time!

3 days of exploring this historic city was not nearly enough time to get to know it properly, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and covered most of the major tourist attractions in only a few days. It’s odd how a large capital city can feel entirely quaint and not really large at all, but Rome did it.  I absolutely can’t wait to go back and sorely wish we had had more time there, but after Rome we headed straight up north to Tuscany and explored the region for a week and a half  – so we had no time to lose! A  post about that will be up next week. Hello, Florence,  you beauty! Xxx

Books & Films, Travel

10 Films That Inspire Travel

It’s no secret that I’m big on films and watch more than the average number. As I grew up, so did my enthusiasm for travel grow and these films were part of what inspired me to want to visit new places and explore new cultures. You’ll notice that all of these flicks are from 2000 and onwards and that’s simply because, although I have watched quite a few older films in later years, these are the ones I fell in love with as a tween and teen. Here in no specific order are 10 films that inspire travel:

Ratatouille (2007, Walt Disney Pictures)
With gorgeous animation and French music all throughout this cute film about a rat who wants to be a chef is great fun for kids and parents alike. I put it on this list because 1,  Oh, J’taime Paris! And 2, I love it when children get play and learn to be adventurers through fiction, whether that be films or books or graphic novels.

Eat, Pray, Love (2010, Sony Pictures)
Set in Italy, India and Bali this journey explore all aspects of life. It’s spicy and a brilliant film for foodies looking for inspiration, while simultaneously showcasing some beautiful location and cultures. Admittedly a bit of a chick flick, but still inspirational!

Mamma Mia (2008, Universal Pictures)
Catchy ABBA music and a romantic Greek island –  what´s not to like? As a scandinavian I’m contractually obligated to love and know every ABBA song by heart, but this is just one of the many reasons I love Mamma Mia. I haven’t been to Greece yet, but the blue ocean, white and blue buildings and lovely cliffs would tempt anyone to go island jumping in the Greek isles!

Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003, New Line Cinema)
Peter Jackson discovered and developed his love for long landscape shots and epic establishing shots in the LOTR trilogy. The three films were shot in New Zealand and as most of you know the local tourist economy is now thriving because of it. Previously undiscovered but these films made us want to see the breathtaking nature and magical sets for ourselves. The films are also about taking an epic journey and has a real traveller spirit feeling to them.

Blended (2014, Warner Bros. Pictures)
However unrealistic it may be that you get to go on a luxury holiday to Africa, and however (slightly) racist some of the stereotypes in this film are, it does have some lovely heartwarming moments and shows off some wonderful African nature and wildlife. Especially the scene where Drew Barrymores character hang glides behind a truck lets the audience see some amazing clips of the different, but stunning nature. It helps that this film is also genuinely funny!

Amélie (2001, UCG Fox)
This quirky French film is worth a watch if you don´t mind the subtitles. Set in Paris Amélie (played by Adrey Tautou) finds love by smiling to the world and wandering around this colorful city (it really is colourful – stunning visuals!) . The music is a little bit more like folk-music than in Ratatouille, but still the epitome of French.

Ps: I Love You (2007, Warner Bros. Pictures/Momentum Pictures)
The romantic film that makes every woman cry and every man roll his eyes. And also the film that showcases some beautiful  Irish music, nature and pub culture. I’ve visited Ireland before and though the film showcases a slightly understated version of Irish nature because of it’s everyday life focus, it is still impossibly green.

Up (2009, Walt Disney Pictures)
Ellie is a dreamer who wants to travel the world and her husband Carl flies away in a house strapped to balloons. Do I need to say more? Another film that makes kids want to travel, to go beyond their own comfort zones and encourages them to not stop dreaming even if their dreams seem far away. Heart warming ❤

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012, Fox Searchlight Pictures)
If you love the great classical actors who always represent the epitome of British culture, fun Bollywood music and sometimes awkward dramady jokes then this cute film is worth a watch! A group of British retirees head to India for their retirements, only to discover that they didn’t know everything about life and love after all. Lovely mix-mash of Indian culture and British humour.

Up in the Air (2009, Paramount Pictures)
This film is probably the one I´ve watched most recently, found on Netflix one lazy Sunday morning. It takes a while to get into it and sometimes it is downright odd, but there are humorous parts that makes up for the slow start. This film is on the list because I adore flying and like Clooney’s character I have a thing for collection frequent flyer miles just to collect them, though I mostly collect SAS points (Northern Norway hometown perks). Let yourself be inspired by the jet setter life 🙂

Let me know if you have any films that have inspired you to travel in the comments below! Xxx

Europe, Ireland, Travel

An Epic Ireland Adventure – Dublin, Galway, Limerick & Cork

You wouldn’t think that Ireland and England are different, and in many ways they are not, but during my Epic Ireland Adventure with Christa I learned that Ireland is beautiful. Beautiful and awe-inspiring and a fascinating  mix of what I know as British culture and something very unique and altogether foreign. If you prefer watching over reading here is a videoblog from our trip, the written post is below 🙂

Dublin

Our adventure started in the capital of Ireland, Dublin. We flew directly from Newastle Airport and got to Dublin feeling a little dazed and confused, not really knowing what we were looking for or what we were hoping to see. Months before we had booked three nights in Barnacles Hostel (Highly recommend it, very social and very good standard), right smack in the middle of the Temple Bar area, arguably one of the most colourful neighborhoods in the city. Not that we were aware of this, because as it turns out, we knew nothin’, Jon Snow. We learned quickly however, and spent the first day exploring the medieval-like cobblestone streets of Temple Bar and soaking up the tempo and atmosphere of the city, including a evening visit to Hard Rock Café Dublin. While sightseeing the city we also popped by the magnificent St.Patricks Cathedral.

Dublin is a fascinating city in many ways. It was founded by vikings, under British rule for centuries, then became an independent republic, heavily influenced by Catholicism. Ireland itself used to be Gaelic, though much of the Gaelic culture slowly disappeared under British rule, but the remnants of it still exist. While walking around Dublin and all throughout our trip we were reminded of Irish history and it was an interesting one!

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde

Dublin is, and was, also the home to some great literary names such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and more and this is evident all over the city. With statues (like the one above of Oscar Wilde looking swag), memorial centers and literary walking tours Dublin is lovely for anyone interested in literature or wanting to see some fictional sights in real life.

A must-do in Dublin is visiting the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness is a dark malt beer that originates in Dublin and can be bought in shops all over the world. It’s not a stereotype that the Irish like their beer, but then again, so does any citizen of the British Isles (Yes, Ireland is not british anymore, but is located geographically among the British Isles).  We headed there on our second day in Dublin and it was almost a full day tour, tasting beer, smelling ingredients, pouring a pint – we did it all, and despite not being into beer we both enjoyed the experience. On our last day in Dublin we explored the less touristy side of the city and enjoyed some people watching


Galway

After Dublin we headed off by train to what turned out to be the best part of our entire trip – the coastal town of Galway. Galway is a small town of only 70 000 people (ish) living there, but because they suburban areas are spread out, it feel like a very small town. It’s also extremely cozy, with picturesque streets, pubs that offer live Irish music almost every night and a unique shoreline promenade that provide tourists and locals a like a breath of fresh air from bigger cities. Dublin felt much like a lot of other larger European cities, but in Galway we came face to face with what felt like authentic Ireland.

The highlight of the trip was a package day trip we went on from Galway. We left early in the morning on our second day in the little town and got on a bus along the coast. Our first stop was a short photo stop at Dungaire Castle, a costal fortress from the 1600s. Our second stop was a 6000 year old burial place, famous because there are so few left in Europe that are still standing and our third stop was the ruins of an old Gaelic homestead. From there on we went north along the coast,  ending up at the Cliffs of Moher.

(I can only apologize for he bad quality of the photos – due to our limited baggage allowance I only had my phone camera and my film camera with me.)

Not only was our guide on the day trip the most hilarious Irish man I have ever had the pleasure of listening to for 3 hours straight, but despite the foggy weather I slowly fell in love with Ireland. Slowly, and then all at once 😉 No, but seriously. The Cliffs of Moher are majestic on a whole new level of majestic and none of the people who where there could do anything but marvel at mother nature. The fact that the Cliffs of Moher and a cave below the cliffs were used as a location for Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince was the cherry on top.

Limerick & Cork


IMG_3905We hadn’t planned our trip after any guidebooks, but rather by looking at a map and choosing places we had heard of at random. This turned out to be a little bit of a mistake on our part, but  the entire trip was a lesson in spontaneity so I guess we learnt something. Here is the thing: Limerick is is not worth a visit  – and you wouldn’t think someone wanderlusting all over the place would say it, but it’s true. It is the stab capital of Ireland, it’s sadly run down and destroyed by the economy and other than an Angela´s Ashes walking tour and a castle, well….. after lively Galway it didn’t catch our attention. Now, our impression of this small city was probably affected by the fact that we had been sleeping badly in hostels for a week, but we quickly skipped passed Limerick and went to to Cork.

Cork was the last place on our itinerary and though we still hadn’t recovered from our disappointment in Limerick we enjoyed Cork. After a quick explore of the Irish foodie capital we walked into Cork  Opera House where it turned out Grease the Musical was showing and on impulse we bought a ticket each and spent our last afternoon in Ireland watching a wonderful cast singing and dancing. Our moods skyrocketed and our Epic Ireland Adventure ended on a high note. Badum tssssh.

We had two amazing, fun-filled weeks adventuring around Ireland, but I honestly can´t wait to go back, because I think there are certain parts of Irish culture that stands out and deserves more time. Gaelic history, the North, the endless green of the Irish countryside. Nature is without a doubt  one of the strong points of Ireland and  why I encourage everyone to go. Book some cheap tickets from England and other European countries with RyanAir and off you are! Xxx

Europe, France, Travel

France: Top 11 Things To See & Do in Paris

Bonjour! I’m currently sat at home enjoying my seriously high-brow meal of pasta and scrambled eggs trying to process the fact that EVERYTHING IS CHANGING OH  MY GOD HELP. UNIVERSITY IS HARD. Soooo this is not a long text about my experience, but rather a somewhat (hopefully) helpful list of the top 11 things I saw in Paris when I visited earlier this year. I spent the week of my birthday in Paris with my Mamma on our first girls trip in years and we had the best time together. Not only did we get to explore Paris and eat nutella  crêpes for every meal, but I also got to spend my actual birthday in Disneland Paris, fulfilling a lifelong dream. It was a magical, albeit slightly cold, trip. I considered writing a more descriptive blogpost about the experience, but decided that I couldn’t adequately portray it in words so here, in no particular order, are 11 Things I personally experienced in Paris that all tourists and travellers also should in a handy and short listicle form 🙂

1: Montmartre
Monmartre is a neighbourhood in Paris located on, and around, the highest point in the city. It’s considered an old artisan neighbourhood that during its glory days hosted many artists, craftsmen and musicians. In the Montmartre area the famous cabarets  Moulin Rouge and the old Le Chat Noir are located. The streets of Montmartre are full with artists selling their art, colourful buildings and the area has a very distinct feeling to it – colourful and exciting. There was just so much to look at that we spent an entire day exploring the culture, tasting chocolate from chocolatiers, visiting the Sacré-Cœur basilica and wandering the streets of this iconic area.

2: The  Sacré-Cœur Basilica

While wandering the cobblestone streets of Montmartre make sure to head to the very top of the hill and visit the La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. This area in front of the basilica offers a brilliant view over Paris and for 8€ you can walk up to the top of the basilica, following some scarily narrow stairs to an amazing 360 degree view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. The visit to the top of the basilica was one of the highlights of the trip for me!

3:The Eiffel Tower

Now, I don’t really need to say anything about this staple in Paris, but I will say this: Get there early in the morning to avoid queuing for hours, visit all the levels (it is well worth the price), book your tickets online and go on a sunny day. We visited Paris during what has gone down in history as the most air-polluted week of 2015, which meant that while we got the perk of free public transport, we also experienced a lot smog and fog. The view from the tower was still beautiful and the construction awe-inspiring, but I am sure it would have been even more spectacular if we could see more of the city.


4: The Trocadero

While in the Eiffel Tower area why not head over to the Trocadero! I don’t really know how to describe what the Trocadero is exactly, but basically it’s this really cool building/fountain/garden area vis-a-vis the Tour De Eiffel that hosts a museum and the Paris Aquarium. The reason you should visit the Trocadero however is that  from the top of Trocadro you will find one of the best views in town of the Eiffel Tower  – especially beautiful  during the magical sunset hours.

5:The River Seine
When navigating the stunning architecture, narrow streets and  crowded markets there is one thing you can’t possibly miss: The Seine. Now, you may not think about the Seine when you cross it, but you will surely notice the bridges you will cross, often famous, often impressive architectural and historical monuments (Pont Alexandre II and Pont Neuf being two examples of this). If there is one thing you should do in Paris it’s walk the streets along the Seine and the weather is good, pack a little picnic and walk along the river and find a nice spot to sit and people watch. It won’t be difficult to find a little peace and quiet in a bustling city scene.

“There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even—the French air clears up the brain and does good—a world of good.”

― Vincent van Gogh

6:Musee du Louvre

You can’t visit Paris and not head into a few of the world-known museums in the city. There are many to choose from, but the Musée du Louvre is one of the most popular ones. Even if you don’t want to go inside the museum itself, the building that hosts the museum and the glass pyramids outside are definitely worth viewing. The main museum area is located next to the Seine as well, so I recommend planning out a route along the Seine and see a couple of museums as well as the Notre-Dame while you are in the area.

7: The Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame, famous for it’s gothic arcitecture and grandiose  windows, is also a must-see. The build started in the 1100s and was finished more than two centuries later and has since then been rebuilt and expanded regularly .You can queue to go to the top of the tower, but we opted to do that in the  Sacré-Cœur basilica instead and just popped into the Notre-Dame for a quick visit. However, during our little peak into the church we stumbled upon a service and though we couldn’t understand any of the prayers, we did enjoy the operatic singers immensely and had a lovely experience.

8:Quartier Latin
Speaking of amazing smells and adorable streets, ever heard of the latin quarter of Paris in the area around the Sorbonne Univeristy? Yum! Not too far away from Notre-Dame this lively neighborhood is packed to the brim with cute cafés, exciting food from all over the world, street markets and street artists. The cobblestone streets and eclectic buildings are reminiscent of its former bohemian golden age and  the latin quarter is also home to the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore.  It doesn’t take much to get off the tourist path in this area either so set off some time to explore. Put your map in your backpack and get lost on purpose in this vibrant and authentic feeling part of Paris.

Transport tip: When in Paris get a weekly ticket or day tickets to the metro and the RER trains. This offers you free access to pretty much all of Paris and will be cheaper than taking taxis and easier to navigate than buses. With a RER train you can also travel cheaply to Versailles, Disneland Paris and a number of other places way outside of the city.

9:Arc de Triomphe
This one  we just sort of did to check it off the list. It’s exactly like it looks like in the photos. At the very top of Champs-Élysées (which you should also walk down)  this monument is worth taking a photo of, before heading down towards the more noteworthy Grand Palais and the Petite Palais.

10: Jardin du Luxembourg

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11: Versailles
On one of our last days we visited the Chateau de Versailles. Travel like the locals do and take a metro train out to the outskirts of Versailles, enjoying lovely views of the French  countryside on your way.  Centuries of French history and famous figures have resided in the palace, most famously  Marie Antoinette who was the last Queen of the French, married to King Louis XVI, but centuries of French kings have put their mark on the palace and learning all about it was well worth the ticket price . From the moment you enter the property you sense the grandeur of it all, the golden gates inviting you into the palace and to an absolutely mind-blowing garden.  The Mirror Hall is also spectacular!

These are just some of the things we saw while touring the city of love, but there are so many museums to visit, catacombs, there’s a lovely aquarium, there’s Champs-Elysée and the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, Mont Parnasse, Moulin Rouge and more!  We saw a lot in 5 days, but not nearly enough. I think you could live in Paris and never see all of it or discover all of it’s history. I want to go back and see all the things I haven’t seen at some point and I want to see more of France, maybe Nice and Marseille and the Borduox region eventually.

What other must-see things do you know of in Paris? Tips for my next trip are very welcome! Xxx

Europe, Sweden, Travel

10 Things To See & Do In Stockholm

Thought I would make a quick list over must-sees in Stockholm, all of which I have personally experienced. Some of these I did during the my recent trip and some of them I did during my New Year’s trip last year. Stockholm is very different in summer than in winter and personally I may have preferred it in winter time due to the amazing weather we were treated to, but either way it’s a beautiful city. More on the winter trip later! Off we go with the listicle!

1: Vasa Museum
The Vasa Ship museum was just named the 9th best museum in the world and showcases a ship that sunk just after it set off from the Stockholm harbour way way back when. THe museum has a fascinating display of facial reconstructions and histories of the people who were on board the ship, loads of artifacts and a very informative naval war section. What a treat for the curious mind!

2: Djurgården
Parks, nature and picnic places oh my! If the weather is good I highly recommend heading out past the museum area (you will understand what I mean about this if you look up the biggest museums in town on  a map) and visit the green (or white depending on the season) part of Djurgården. There are lovely walking paths great for a stroll that also gives you a nice view over Stockholm harbour and amazing thinking spots 🙂


3: ABBA Museum
Mamma Mia, here I go again! What a fun afternoon this was! Slightly over priced, but well worth a visit if you’re an ABBA fan, and frankly, how can you visit Stockholm and not be at least a little curious about this world-wide sensation? Colourful displays and beautiful interactive dancefloors/quizzes/music players makes the ABBA museum  a must-do!

4:Kungliga Operan
After seeing one opera and one ballet in what is possibly one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever been in I can honestly say I’ve seen the light. Literally: Kungliga Operan has one of the biggest chandeliers I’ve ever. The tickets come at reasonable prices in all price classes and there are a number of different shows playing at any time throughout the year so no matter the time you visit and no matter your budget   you can experience a show like no other.

5:Katarinahissen
Looking for a great view? Take the Tunnelbana to Slussen, then walk up the hill behind the station. After a number of steps up you will get one of the best views in town – and it’s free!
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6:Monteliusvägen
Speaking of great views, Monteliusvägen is a 500 -ish meter long walking path across the lake from the City Hall, Lake Mälaren and Riddarholmen and offers spectacular opportunities for evening and sunset photography. Also completely free, but completely fabulous.


7: Boat Sightseeing In The Archipelago
Technically I only went for a short ferry ride between some of the most central islands while I was in Stockholm, but can I recommend seeing The Venice of The North by boat. Stockholm is made up by islands and if you venture outside the main islands you can experience beautiful scandinavian nature. Particularly good during the summer season.

8: Gamla Stan
Oh what can I say about Gamla Stan other than GO SEE THIS. Yes, it’s full of tourists and yes, the cafés are over priced, but why are you even in Stockholm if you’re not going to see Old Town? With stunning architecture and more colours on the buildings than you can count, this cute area is made for photo ops and evening strolls. The narrow streets of Gamla Stan are lit up by fairy lights at night, what could be more romantic?


9: IKEA

Now this is on the list because 1 – the largest IKEA in Sweden is in Stockholm and well worth a visit – and 2 – the refillable drinks are only 10 kronor  and the meatballs are dead cheap and a tasty as hell. Lunch idea? I think yes.

10: Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm Palace is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and well worth a visit. A picnic in between the  endless gardens and lively fountains is one idea. A jog around the palace grounds is another. A tour of the building a third and what about watching those fetching young guards during the changing of the guards? Yes, yes, yes and yes 😉

Any other things you think should be on this list aka that I should do while I’m there? Xxx

Europe, Sweden, Travel, Youtube

VIDEO: Stockholm Snapshots

It’s been a lovely week and I don’t want to leave the Venice of the North, but as you read this I’m already on my way back to British soil. There will be more posts about Stockholm coming up, but these past few days I have chosen to focus on spending time with Kjære and taking in the city, not really wanting to hunker down in front of the Mac for any period of time. You’ll find that most often than not, when I travel I don’t blog, but afterwards I blog more than I probably should 😛 While I’ve been here I have filmed some bits and clips when I remembered to and last night I did a quick little edit on this short snapshot video from my trip and here it is! What an absolutely gorgeous city Stockholm is! Well worth a visit! Xxx

Europe, Sweden, Travel

Hej hej, Stockholm!

It’s an overcast, but warm Monday here in Stockholm and while Kjære is preparing for his lecture I though I would post a quick post about a most amazing weekend 🙂

I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on Friday afternoon and after dropping off my luggage we headed out for a quick explore and some food. We managed to catch the sunset from Söder Mälarstrand and Monteliusvägen, one of the best viewpoints in the city. You get there by heading to Mariatorget Tunnelbana station, then walk for about 5 minutes. Watching the sun set, then the city lights slowly switch on like stars being born in the far away sky was a moment I will never forget.


After watching the sunset we headed  to Hornsgatan a couple of minutes away and the Stora Vikingen: Röde Orm Italian Restaurant. With fancy iPad menus and reasonably priced food this cute little restaurant is well away from the tourist areas and good for students!

Transport Tip: While visiting Stockholm you should consider getting a SL transport card as it gives you unlimited travel on the Pendeltåg (Commuter Trains), Tunnelbana (Metro) and buses. While it’s easy to get around Stockholm by foot and a gorgeous city to walk, if you’re here for a long time , the transport card is a must! You can get them at any Pressbyrån kiosks.

As it happens it was also our 1 year anniversary this past weekend  and as we tend to give gifts that are experience based,  we both ended up surprising the other with almost the same thing. I knew he had always wanted to go see an opera, and he knew that I’ve always wanted to see a proper ballet and we both got tickets to see shows at the Kungliga Operan aka the Stockholm Royal Opera.  On Saturday we saw Madama Butterfly, which Kjære loved and yesterday we saw the Raymonda ballet, which I absolutely fell in love with. The Royal Opera has 50% off tickets for students and for 26 years and under so you can get a really nice deal on tickets if you have the time to go, but do book in advance if you can as they get fully booked quickly!


Before and after the shows on both Saturday and Sunday we walked around the area close to the opera. Stockholm is filled to the brim with beautiful architecture, sometimes reminiscent of Amsterdam, most often wholly unique.

Must See Tip: Gamlastan, or “Old Town” in Stockholm is a definite must-see for anyone visiting the Swedish capital, whether only for a few hours or for longer. During December and Christmas there is also a wonderful Christmas market in Stortorget, the main square in Gamlastan, that’s well worth a visit.

A quick metro ride away from Stockholm Central Station is Gamlastan. The streets of this area are an iconic part of Stockholm that attracts both tourists and locals alike.  It’s autumn and the leaves are falling in the city so we sat down in the main square in Gamlastan to take in the atmosphere and warm up with  a drink each. The glorious chocolate concoction below being mine. Who needs Starbucks when you can sit outside and breathe in the fresh Swedish air in a quaint little coffee shop in colourful Gamlastan?

It’s been a lovely weekend and during this next week I’ll be further exploring the city while Kjære is in uni as well as just enjoying my last few days of freedom before university once again takes up all my time and energy. I can’t wait to see more!

Have a good day, or as they would say here: Ha en bra dag! Xxx

Brazil, South America, Travel

Travel Plans: Having My Cake and Eating It Too

Life is one big, weird adventure. Plans fall through, dreams are postponed, exchange rates change, people have babies, get pets, lose and gain friends. Life is roller coaster with all that that implies, the head rush, the slight nausea, the terrified, but elated screaming, its all there.  The only real constant in life is that life is unpredictable. And I got to experience that a little yesterday. As I mentioned a couple of posts back the exchange rate between the British Pound and the Norwegian Krone forced me to eliminate or postpone most of my 2016 travel plans, in favor of paying my tuition fees, rent and having something extra to live for. I gave up on Vietnam, I almost gave up on Barcelona and to be honest I felt down. The money I had worked hard for and saved up specifically for  travel was now all of a sudden out of my hands and bitterly put to use just to cover a failing Krone rate that was out of my control. But then life is, and will always be, unpredictable, sometimes for worse, sometimes for better.

From our Epic Italy Adventure in 2014
From our Epic Italy Adventure in 2014

Last night I was skyping my Brazilian friend Laura, an amazing girl I met during  my first year at university and also one of my dearest friends. She had discovered she had a couple off weeks of from university in Rio De Janeiro and by pure coincidence her vacation were on the same weeks as my Easter Break. We laughed about it and decided to check the tickets on Skyscanner for fun, because we had long discussed me visiting her, but it never seemed to happen. And the tickets were relatively CHEAP! .  550 pounds return  with British Airways from London is  way less than you would expect to pay for a direct return flight. After a quick phone call to my parents and grandparents where I got them to swear to not give me any actual gifts for Christmas or my birthday, but instead some money to help pay for the flight later – which they were all for – the flight information was filled in, the tickets were paid for with some of my savings and BOOM. TWO WEEKS IN RIO DE JANEIRO HERE I COME!  😀

As you read this I am on my way to Stockholm, but I am still shellshocked. Absolutely shellshocked and in awe of how lucky I am. After losing any and all travel plans for 2016, the dates, the tickets and the trip falls into my lap and I get a Birthday/ Graduation trip after all. I’m having my cake and eating it too, despite being a students and poorer than ever. With the help of my kind family who are willing to contribute a little to the flight tickets, and Lauras lovely family hosting me for the full two weeks, and getting to see one of my dearest friends in person for the first time in almost two years… I’m set to have the trip of a lifetime. I know it’s a cliché to be “blessed” at this point, but there is no other word for it. I’m blessed to have such a supporting family, such generous friends and such loving people in my life who help make my dreams come true and cheer me on in all my endeavors. Let the countdown begin! Xxx