A Whirlwind 72 Hours in Finland

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were all incredible countries with a lot to offer.  We decided to add one more country to top our Scandinavia trip off, and we were glad we did.  Finland was pretty amazing, and as draining as our whirlwind trip was, we felt we topped it all of on a high note.  With a limited amount of time there; we tried to cram as much as we could in a short time, but ended it on an amazing experience at one of the greatest Finnish traditions, the sauna. We were lucky enough to find a night cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki through Viking Line Cruises.  We set sail on the Gabriella Cruise ship, and got a private room (with private bathroom) for $104 total!  Our private room had 4 beds, so if you travel there with multiple people it is a steal.  Even with the 3 of […]

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What To Eat In Sweden

As I travel, I love to find some things that would be considered a favorite or local dish.  Some that I haven’t tried before and some that I have had but would like to try it from the source.  With Sweden, I don’t think I knew much of what they had besides Swedish meatballs from Ikea, and Swedish sticky buns that I know from Ann Sather’s in Chicago. I’ve made a list of things that a first timer in Sweden should definitely check out. Swedish meatballs We went to Östermalms Saluhall, off Östermalmstorg, is a great place to try different things.  They have isles of vendors, like a farmer’s market but with lots of food stalls to try different things.  We caught some attitude from the folks at Melanders after ordering the meatballs.  They weren’t bad, but the experience we had there makes us never want to return.  Instead, we stopped by Husman’s […]

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Stunning Stations and Efficient Train Systems in Stockholm

Taking public transportation in foreign cities can be a little scary.  Trying to find your way around in another language, a little directionless in underground tunnels, or unfamiliar with different turns the roads may take, may make this seem difficult for sure.  I was happy that basically all the public transportation we found in Scandinavia was hassle-free.  One thing that really made the whole experience even more pleasant was constantly finding really cool stations once you get to your next stop. Art can definitely lighten a mood or brighten a day, but I think I enjoyed the constant surprise of finding something new and beautiful at the end of the ride.  It was like an egg hunt in the spring, and I just wanted to find more brightly colored eggs. The stations ranged in size of the work, some were rotating and had various artists, while others were done to […]

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A Tale of Two Hostels

During our trip to Scandinavia, my family and I were lucky enough to stay in a couple different types of lodgings and get different experiences in all the cities.  As we were planning the trip, we tried to find places close by the things we wanted to see or in an area we wanted to experience.  We also tried to keep in mind that food would be expensive and having an available kitchen may alleviate that expense.  We looked at a couple different places, and found we chose based on different things. In Oslo, we actually stayed in someone’s condo through AirBnB.  Here’s condo on the Oslo fjord was in a busy area, just by the Opera House.  Arctic Cabins in Vestvatn gave us a different experience where we were out in nature and removed from city lights to see the Aurora Borealis.  When it came to larger cities like Copenhagen and […]

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Products That Came in Handy in Scandinavia

With every trip, I think we all tend to hone down our pack list and really start to make sense of the travel essentials.  We picked up a couple new things on this trip that did make life a little easier on the road.  Because my family was traveling to a couple places in 4 different countries, it made for an interesting range of activities, terrain, and even weather.  To top that all off, we were also making it a point to pack as light as possible, being mindful of how much baggage we would have to travel around with.  This was our way to make it easier to make trains, airports, and transfers quick and painless. My husband and I both carried a backpack and a personal item.  We made sure that the backpack would fit the carry-on dimensions, so we wouldn’t have to check anything.  Evie carried her own […]

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What to Do and What NOT to Do in Copenhagen

In most of my travels, I’ve generally come in with a plan of a couple things I would like to see with some wiggle room for exploring.  This was not unlike my most recent trip to Denmark.  With such a range of activities available to us in Copenhagen, I found myself (with my husband and daughter) figuring out some of our favorite things by experimentation.  The only thing we made sure to catch on a certain date was Halloween at Tivoli Gardens, other than that we let our level of energy and the weather decide on what we would go to next.  In some cases, it was a comedy of errors, but even with that, we made some amazing memories in this city. DO… get to Christiania.  DON’T… take photos on “Pusher Street”. Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen is basically government land that had been occupied and taken over by squatters […]

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10 Reasons Why Halloween at Copenhagen’s Tivoli was a Great Decision

As we are in full swing of celebrating winter holidays, my mind is still with fall holidays. Who doesn’t love Halloween?  You can get all dressed up and get candy or go out to a party, then spend the next day nursing a hangover with some free chocolate.  I was always a fan of dressing up in homemade costumes when I was younger, that I think I’m reliving that excitement a bit with my daughter, Evie.  I get really excited about costuming, and she gets really excited about candy… although, she doesn’t really eat a lot of it (still has candy from last year), but Peabe and I get into her stash every now and then when  we need something sweet. This year, as we were going to be in Scandinavia, I was worried about how she would take the news of not dressing up, trick or treating, or getting […]

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What to Eat in Norway

After traveling to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, I’ve grown a deep appreciation for some Scandinavian goodies. There’s a general sense of fresh seafoods, the use of local herbs, game meats and unique berries that we loved exploring out there. Generally, people had told us how food is pretty expensive out there, which is the case if you plan on eating in fancier restaurants the whole time. We found lots of grocery stores with food prices similar to what we pay out here in the Bay Area. Even convenience stores like 7-11 have a quality selection of cheeses and breads, so we picked up quick foods to go throughout the trip. I really miss the food in Norway and have found myself already trying to re-create dishes back here in Oakland.  As I go through the photos, my mouth can’t help but water at the sight. Keep in mind, I […]

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Taking the Roads Less Traveled in Northern Norway

Prior to taking our Scandinavian vacation, I knew that I wanted to spend some time really getting to know the culture of the places. Of course all the major cities have lots to offer, but escaping into the less traveled areas is a for sure way to get one-on-one and experience a real dose of what the customs and people are really like in a country. On top of that, one of the major things on my list of things that I wanted to do in Scandinavia was go see the Northern Lights. I have seen it once before in Alaska, but I wanted to show my husband, Peabe, and my daughter, Evie, how amazing it looked in person. I once read an article about how climate change may effect the lights and wanted to be sure that they also had that experience in their lifetime. Lastly, I love getting […]

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24 Hours in Oslo with Parents and a Little One

My retired parents spend about half the year in my childhood neighborhood in Illinois, and the other half of the year all the way out in the Philippines.  Neither place is anywhere by my daughter in Oakland.  My husband and I both had grandparents raising us in our childhood, and we sometimes worry that my daughter doesn’t have enough of that same quality time. We recently took a trip with them to Norway, and spent some time in Oslo together.  The idea of trying to experience a new city is a little daunting because we would be in a larger group, and at different stages of life’s interests and general fitness.  I can see the benefit and prefer to travel in small groups when necessary, but I knew some adjustments would need to be made to enjoy our time together and see all that we wanted to see. As we […]

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