[Guest Post] Amy's Amazing Scandinavian Race
I didn't warn you, but as you can tell, I took a little break from blogging this month. There's been so much going on, and I just needed to hit the pause button for a bit. A lot of bloggers talk about "blogger burnout" and I think that's what I experienced this month... for those of you who missed me, I missed you too! It's nice to be getting back into the swing of things again.I think it's so important to take a break, and get some R&R in your life. I don't think I'm really that good about doing that... actually, I know I'm not. I mean sure, I spend my weekend doing "relaxing things" that I enjoy, but I don't know that I've taken a break and really cut myself off from the norm, and these past few weeks I've really taken time to do that. Last weekend Tyler and I went hiking and camping, like we do pretty often, but this time it just seemed more relaxing. I didn't take my camera, I didn't plan any elaborate meals, I didn't really plan anything. We just hopped in the car, ate random food along the way, picked the trail that looked the most fun, I looked at the mountains with my own eyes, instead of out of a lens, and it was beautiful.
Don't get me wrong, I love my norm for the most part. I live to take pictures wherever I am, I love cooking up a delicious meal and sharing it with you, I really enjoy making a plan, and I recognize that I'm really blessed with a fantastic life. But, regardless of that, sometimes it's nice to just change it up! There are a couple of people in this world that I know that are really, really good about just grabbing life by the horns and doing what they love, and Amy is one of those people. If you read most of my posts, you're probably already familiar with Amy. She's the one that went to Thailand, dunks the donuts, makes the crowns, and basically serves as my test dummy when Tyler isn't around.
Amy loves to travel, and I love that she's willing to share her experiences with me, and let me share them with you! Recently, Amy headed over to Scandinavia, here's her take on her trip, the highlights, what to check out while you're there, etc. Thanks Amy for sharing you're very own Scandinavia travel guide with us!
This heart of my mine was made to travel.
Traveling to me is always a new adventure, there is always so much to see and new people to meet. Most days I find myself thinking about my next adventure or where I want to travel to next. Last year you heard about my trip to Thailand and this year I explored the Scandinavian Area!
When planning this trip, I decided that it was going to be a mixture of doing all the tourist things but not planning too much. I had my list of things that I wanted to do but besides a few days in the middle we had no idea what was going to happen each day besides what cities we would be in. With all the moving around that we were going to do (3 countries in 8 days!) I knew my rolling suitcase was not going to cut it. I bit the bullet and decided to buy a backpack to pack in. Molly was oh so helpful in helping me decide what would be the best considering I would be walking around with it some days and wanted to not check any bags. Packing was the hardest but luckily I had a super organized friend Christine help me along the way. We were able to pick out clothes that could easily mix and match for all my adventures.
My adventure started with an overnight flight from DC to Copenhagen. If you travel as much as I do for work, you realize that direct flights are the way to go even if they are not the most convenient timing. After landing early morning, I met up with my brother, who was studying abroad in Europe this past semester. After we checked into our hotel, we rented bikes to explore the city. Being just a little guy, the bike was of course too big for me, causing me to fall over at stop lights and "setting myself up for success" when starting to bike again. We found the cutest coffee shop, Ipsen & Co, for morning fuel and to map out our day. Our first day in Copenhagen included: Frederiksberg Palace, Rosenborg Palace, Amailienborg Palace, Marble Church, Nyhavn Area, and Christianborg Palace. Along the way we stopped for lunch to have a traditional Denmark lunch of Smørrebrød, which is an open-faced sandwich. That night we decided to explore the Meat Packing Industry, which has so many cute restaurants all filled with local people enjoying a relaxing night. We ended up going to Kødbyens Fiskebar. We had amazing local fresh fish and drinks to celebrate the adventure.
Day 2 started off walking around the Strøget Path, this area was filled with cute buildings that were stores on the bottom and flats on top. Along this area was the Lego Flagship Store, in there the child within me came out and all my memories of playing Legos with my brother. After that we walked to the Little Mermaid Statue and the Citadel area. I feel for my brother as I complained for a lot of that 3 km walk since I had my backpack with me. We decided to take an overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo so had to be at the boat around 3:30pm.
We woke up with the ferry pulling into Oslo, what a beautiful site to see the city from a different perspective. With only one day in Oslo we had to make the most of it. It was so great to drop my bag off at the hotel we were staying at and walk with only a purse. The list of tourist places kept getting longer, the walk included visiting: Karl Johans Gate (main street), Oslo Cathedral, Parliament Building, City Hall, Noble Peace Center, Astrup Fearnley, Royal Palace, Vigeland Sculpture Park, Akershus Fortress & Castle, and the Opera House. Since it was Monday and not technically summer yet many of the places were closed to go inside so we were only able to walk around the outside. The Vigeland Sculpture Park was one of the weirdest things that I have ever seen, it was a park that was filled with over 300 sculptures of naked humans with odd body contortions. That night for dinner we decided to walk down by the water and pick a random restaurant. We ended up picking Lekter’n that was a restaurant on a barge.
Day 4 was a day that I will never forget. We woke up bright and early to do Norway in a Nutshell, which is a day of traveling from the east coast of Norway to the west coast using all types of transportation. The first part of the trip was a 5 hour train ride from Oslo to Myrdal. In Myrdal we switched to the Flam Railways and took an hour train ride that went from about 5,000 meters to sea level. When we got to Flam we hung out in this tiny town for 2 hours. We decided to do as the Norwegians to and get reindeer sausage for lunch. We sat down by the water looking out into the Fjords just taking in the amazing beauty that this world has to offer. I could not help but sit and have a quiet time to thank God for the amazing earth that He has created. After that we took a 2 hour boat ride through the Fjords. I was a little chilly but nothing compared to seeing snowcapped mountains on the side of the water and if you know me you will know that I automatically started thinking about being in the movie Frozen and was singing every song in my head! Then there was a bus ride and another train ride where we ended up in Bergen. We walked down to the Bryggen area and Fish Market. We ended up picking Una for dinner which was this great restaurant with butcher block tables and mason jar light fixtures. Since Bergen is a fishing town I couldn’t help myself but to get salmon tartar for dinner and my brother got the fish of the day. The difference in freshness was amazing!
Waking up in Bergen it was raining and I was thankful that I go to wear my LL Bean Boots that I had packed and complained about how much weight they were adding to my bag. That morning we fueled up on chai lattes, coffee and pastries to get our day started. Even though it was raining we took the Floybnen Funicular to see the view of Bergen. We took a mid-day flight up to Tromsø, which is in the Arctic Circle! We spent the day walking around the small city of Tromsø seeing: Blast Glass Blowing Studio, Northern Norway Art Museum, Stortorget and City Hall. Fun fact about Tromsø is that the sun has not set since the last week of May and will not set till the last week of July. That is 2 MONTHS of the sun never setting. My internal clock was so thrown off by the light but at least it was not the opposite where in the winter it is a month and half a no sun at all! That night we went to dinner at Emma’s where we had a classic Nordic Dinner. Around 10:45 pm we left the hotel to make the walk over to the cable car to see the midnight sun. Along the way we walked over this HUGE bridge that has to be tall enough to let boats under it. I was walking so fast I might have been running because I just wanted to get it over with. At the end of the bridge there is the beautiful Arctic Cathedral. Then we took the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of a mountain. There was beautiful view of Tromsø (which I didn’t realize was an island till then) and the snowcapped mountains behind it. I was super happy to play in the snow as the sun was still out at 1 am! Unfortunately it was so bright out pictures could not do much justice for the view.
The next day was a day of travel and leisure. We slept in since we were up so late the night before then flew from Tromsø to Stockholm via Oslo. When we go to Stockholm it was raining and we realized that it was going to rain for most of the time that we were there. That night we ventured out in the rain to Bakfickan even though we took a couple of wrong turns and it took us twice as long to get there it was totally worth it! I had the traditional Swedish Meatballs while my brother had the Pork Belly. He thought it was the best meal that he had the whole trip! If you are ever in Stockholm you HAVE to eat here! After we decided to go to the Ice Bar where everything in there (besides the walls) are made of ice even the cups!
Day 7 rolled around and it was a day of exploring Stockholm. Since it was raining the whole day, our day was a little broken up. In Stockholm there is the area of Gamla Stan (Old Town) where we visited the Royal Palace (including Royal Apartments and Treasury), Parliament, Cathedral and Stortorget Square. We had lunch at this little café to get out of the rain and were not disappointed, we even went back for dessert that night after dinner. Then we walked to Riddardholmskyrkan which is a cathedral where most of the royals are buried and all of the past royals sealed are placed once they pass away. When we were taking a break in our hotel room we realized that that night was Mid-Summer’s Eve which is highly celebrated. Since it was a holiday a lot of restaurants were closed that night and we had a casual meal.
The next day was Mid-Summer’s Celebration and all the locals were walking around in flower crowns! This was one time that I wish I had brought my flower crown even though it was raining.
That morning we had a boat tour that took us all around Stockholm. Fun fact: Stockholm city is made up of 14 island but the surrounding area is made up of thousands of islands! The boat took us to a random island of Fjaderholmarna, during our time there it started to down pour so what do you know we walked into a little ice cream shop/café and I had a chai latte to warm up. Finally after lunch the sun came out! This was the only time that we saw the sun the whole time in Stockholm. We spent the afternoon walking around the Sodermalm Area and the Gamla Stan area then sat by the water to relax and soak in some sun!
That night I flew back to Copenhagen while my brother flew to Latvia to end his semester. I decided to stay near the airport and really have a vacation that night. I took a long bath then was able to see a beautiful sunset from my hotel room which was on the 19th floor! Taking the last night to relax made it a lot easier to get back into the groove of work on Monday.
Even though I was sad to see this adventure finish, I already have planned where I am going in December. My dad will be joining my brother and me for our yearly trip so it will be great to share our traveling experience with someone else. Stay tuned to see where my next adventure is. I will give you a little hint: more penguins live here than humans!