From primeval forest to urban art - just another walk in Oslo

Yesterday we had a slow Oslo day with a walk of many variations. It reminded me how much this city has to offer. Why I like it so much.

The walk started from my apartment in eastern Oslo (Skøyenåsen), we passed the not so interesting area Bryn and then walked in to Svartdalsparken, a untouched primeval forest where you walk along the river. The birds sings, you pass old buildings and find your peace. The only sign that you are in a city is some streetart.

Out of the park we came to old Oslo and passed the medieval park, some very beautiful old areas, more cool streetart, a latin american marked and an urban garden. And then it all changed when we came to the area called the Barcode, urban architecture for real! We passed the beautiful Opera House where the child stars Marcus and Martinus just finished a free concert and hundreds of exited children came our way.

We continued our walk along the waterfront towards Aker Brygge, passing the area filled with people fishing and one of the worlds largest cruise ships (Queen Mary 2). Arriving Aker brygge, we went straight into the multi cultural festival, Mela, a party of cultures; music, food and fun. Also free. After visiting the festival, we walked all the way to the end of Aker Brygge, through the tourist crowd, passed many beautiful boats and to the very modern Astrup Fearnley museum. We ended the day eating Dim sum in Tordenskioldsgate.

Such a mix of cultures, architecture and great nature - my city <3

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A scenic road trip in Western Norway: Fjords and mountains all the way

The road trip we had last weekend was like a long beautiful dream with fjords and mountains playing the lead roles. Even though I live here and have traveled around a lot, this exact road trip was one of the most scenic I've done ever. One for the bucket list!

We started our trip in Hemsedal (since this was our base for the weekend) and including many photo stops, lunch and more it took us about 12 hours. So starting there it is a nice day trip, but it's a perfect weekend trip if you start in Oslo (spend a night in Gudvangen or Aurdal). 

This was our route:

Hemsedal - Lærdal (via the historic route Kongevegen)
We started by driving over Hemsedalsfjellet (wishing we had a cabin there), great mountain scenery, still in Eastern Norway. A while after passing the county limit to Western Norway (Sogn og Fjordane) we left the main road to drive the old Kongevegen (Kings road) - a historic route where we stopped at Borgund Stave Church (you should too). The road is narrow and very cool, passing waterfalls and steep mountains.

Lærdal - Kaupanger - ferry to Gudvangen
Our next goal was Kaupanger. To get to Kaupanger from Lærdal you need to take a 15 min long ferry from Fodnes to Manhellar. Make sure you buy Svele with smørkrem on board. In Kaupanger we had a a look at Kaupanger Stave Church before heading to the main goal of the trip - the ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen. Make sure you buy your ticket ahead (here). The ferry takes almost three hours and starts in Sognefjorden and ends in the famous Nærøyfjorden, a fjord on UNESCOs World Heritage List. Charge your camera, bring your Goretex jacket and enjo!y

Gudvangen - Stalheim - Flåm
Leaving the ferry we drove straight towards Stalheim Hotel (but you should stop and look around Gudvangen as well). Stalheim Hotel is a historic hotel, unfortunately not in it's prime shape any more, but the lunch was pretty good and the view you get for desert is almost worth the whole trip! Drive down from the hotel through Stalheimskleiva if you have the nerves. One of Europe's steepest roads. Our next goal was Flåm. Unfortunately Flåm is mostly a harbor for cruise ships these days and suffers a bit from that. But Flåmsbanen - one of the worlds most beautiful train journeys is worth considering.

Flåm - Aurland - Stegastein  
Our next goal was Stegastein viewpoint. We drove from Flåm to Aurland and then followed another narrow road with hairpin turns (one of Norways national tourist roads) up to Stegastein. The Stegastein viewpoint juts 30 meters out from the side of the mountain, 650 meters above the Aurland fjord. The panoramic view of the fjord is unsurpassed and was breathtaking!

Stegastein - Aurland mountain road - Lærdal - Hemsedal
From Stegastein we stayed on the same national road (also called the Snow road) over the mountain of Aurland and down back to Lærdal. Another road with amazing views all the way. From Lærdal we drove back to Hemsedal.

 

This road trip really gives you something else! Very worth it, but you should be used to driving narrow steep roads. The reward is amongst very few!

Kongevegen

Kongevegen

Borgund Stave Church 

Borgund Stave Church 

The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

Waterfalls all the way 

Waterfalls all the way 

Nærøyfjorden 

Nærøyfjorden 

The view from Stalheim hotel 

The view from Stalheim hotel 

The view from Stegastein 

The view from Stegastein 

On the road in Norway 

On the road in Norway 

The mountains are calling and I must go

The mountains are calling and I must go is a quote by John Muir, one of America’s most famous and influential outdoor enthusiasts. I often feel just that. The urge to be outdoors, in one with nature. It doesn't have to be the mountains (even though I love them very much!). Things like kayaking, hiking in the woods, skiing hills or just sitting in a park - they all give me bliss, energy and joy.

I grew up in Urke, surrounded by the Norwegian alps (Sunnmørsalpene) reflected in the fjord (Hjørundfjorden). Time was spent outdoors, in the weekends we hiked. Some of it I enjoyed, some of it not. As children do. I actually had to grow up, to move away to understand how much I loved it. Today I will hike in Oslo, I'll start outside of my apartment, hike to lake Nøklevann, 2-3 hours. It doesn't have to be more. This weekend we will hike in Hemsedal, a few weekends ago we hiked a real mountain - Besseggen and camped by the lake. During the winter we went skiing every possible weekend. That's the life I like!

Travelling gives me great pleasure, but I have realized that being in the nature gives me just as much and I often seek outdoor activities on my travels. Living in Norway gives so many opportunities. My goal is that every possible weekend is about doing some kind of outdoor activity. At the moment it is. That makes me very happy.

I have a tent, skiing equipment, outdoor clothes and I own half of a kayak and a bike. It helps to have stuff you need but it's just as much about seeking the nature experiences, feeling the joy of it. Buy stuff to use it, not because you think about using it. Don't make it to complicated. Define your own adventures. Be outdoors, seek the green spots, the woods, the hills, the mountains.

The mountains are calling if you are listening.

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My top 3 summer activities in Norway

No need to spend that vacation time anywhere else, Norway is great in the summertime (and wintertime). Maybe not on rainy days, but what place is? There is so much to do and explore. These are my top 3 things to do:

Hiking
I love hiking and Norway has many many hundred opportunities. Like hiking Besseggen, exploring the area of Hemsedal, hiking Saksa in Urke, hiking in Oslomarka or one of the many many other hikes. This website gives you information about almost all possible hikes in Norway. Did you know that you can camp anywhere in Norway? Forget what you heard about Norway being to expensive to go to. Bring your tent and the options are almost unlimited.

Kayaking
You can rent a kayak almost anywhere these days. How about kayaking a fjord? The lakes in Oslo are also great and kayaking in Lofoten is on my top list of things to do some time.

Oslo - exploring, hanging on the islands or in the park. 
Oslo is a great city in the summer! There is so much to explore and so many great places to eat, check out this crowd sourced guide. Wanna take a swim in the city center? Check out Sørenga. Like parks? My favourite is Slottsparken. Or take a ferry out to one of the surrounding islands, like Langøyene. We bring a slackline and a barbecue to go and hop on the boat after work.

Enjoy summer in Norway! 

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Copenhagen - urban and friendly city for foodies

My trip to Copenhagen last week was much about good food experiences. Copenhagen has been known for great food for a while, Noma being the star. But Copenhagen is also a food city if you don't have the Noma kind of budget. Add friendly atmosphere, cozy areas and an urban feeling (+ great craft beer) - Copenhagen should very much be in your list of city escapes in Europe.

Having one day in the city my visit was mostly about strolling around, enjoying the vibe, doing some shopping and eating great food. This is what I recommend:

  • Go to Nørrebro - this part of the city is multicultural and you find some of the hippest streets here (Elmegade and Jægersborggade). Shopping is great with unique design stores. Colorful buildings and street art makes walking around a pleasure. 
  • Strøget - the main shopping street is very crowded, but worth a visit as an important part of this city. And step by the Round Tower for a great view over the city.
  • Vesterbro - another trendy but relaxed part of the city, and most important (in my opinion) home of Kødbyen - Copenhagen's Meatpacking District. Very cool atmosphere with restaurants placed in old butcher stores and fish halls. Loved it! 

Where to eat, drink and relax with your book? These are the places I loved:

  • Fleich - butcher and eatery. Dinner and lunch.
  • Risteriet - great coffee and breakfast.
  • RETRO Nørrebro - cool cafe with a very chilled atmosphere.
  • Mirabelle bakery - great for breakfast or lunch. They make their own pasta.
  • Cafe Mandela - chilled cafe/eatery with the coolest map covered bar area.
  • Kødbyens Fiskebar - do fish for dinner. Or muslings. Fish and chips was great.

If you are on a budget - the Urban House is the best place to stay. It's been some years since my last hostel stay, but this was a very good experience! 

Thank you for the great food Copenhagen!

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Hiking Besseggen, Norway - a unique scenery

This weekends escape was to the area of Jotunheimen, to hike over Besseggen ridge. The scenery is unique and hard to compare with other mountain hikes I have done. The views are amazing. I loved it.

Besseggen ridge is also one of Norways most popular mountain hikes, so you won't stroll on your own. But I didn't mind, it was still worth it and more! The night before our hike we camped by lake Gjende, also very recommended if you are in the area.

Worth knowing before hiking Besseggen

  • You need to be fit. The hike takes about 6-8 hours + breaks with net 900 meters elevation gain/loss. And you should have some hiking experience. Parts of the hike is rough, you need to use your hands and shouldn't be too afraid of hights. But it's not an extremely hard walk, so if you are normally fit and have done some hiking earlier - go for it. 
  • Start early, I recommend to start from Memburu and walk to Gjendesheim. That way you walk up the steepest part with plenty of air on both sides. It's way less scary than walking down. You can stay at Memburu lodge or camp. If you camp you can send your luggage with the boat to Gjendesheim and pick it up when you get there. Or you can stay at Gjendesheim lodge or camp by Gjende llke we did. Then you take the boat to Memburu the day of your hike. Make sure you catch one of the earlier boats and take your place in the line about 30 minutes before departure to secure your place.
  • Pack good clothing and enough food and water. We had all kinds of weather from sun to heavy wind and sideways rain in the middle of July.
  • Bring you camera and make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the views!

Some picture from our camp/hike. 

The famous view

The famous view

My man taking photos 

My man taking photos 

Photo: Bjørn Dyresen 

Photo: Bjørn Dyresen 

Met Rudolf

Met Rudolf

Our camp

Our camp

Bliss. Photo: Bjørn Dyresen

Bliss. Photo: Bjørn Dyresen

Yoga, sailing and island hopping - I loved the exotic yoga retreat in Croatia

Yoga, the sea, the sun, travelling and being outdoors are all amongst my favorite things in the world. At the Exotic Yoga retreat I went on in Croatia in June I had all of those things combined - and more!

Being one with the nature is a wonderful feeling. On a sailboat you are. So doing yoga on a sailboat is like a perfect match and when you get to experience Croatia with great people and eat amazing food at the same time. Life is perfect. And my retreat with Exotic yoga retreats was just about perfect. 

This is what it was. We stayed on the amazing sailboat Tajna Mora - Secret of the seas for one week. Started in Dubrovnik, ended in Split. Each day started with yoga at the huge top deck of the boat, saluting the sun for real. Then breakfast with fresh bread was ready and after breakfast we sailed to a new island while spending the time sunbathing, reading books, enjoying life while sailing. Lunch was either onboard or we ate at the island of the day, same with dinner depending on the location.

Most of the days we also had a yoga session in the afternoon and there was always plenty of time to swim and use the paddle boards and kayaks on the boat. Did I mention the food? Amazing! And so was the wine, little did I know that Croatia has so great wine. And on this yoga retreat drinking wine was ok. Or even encouraged, it was all about healthy hedonism. I love it!

The islands we visited:
Mjlet: Very cute island. We rented bikes and cycled through the national park. In the park we visited an island inside of an island, it had a beautiful monastery. 

Korcula: My favourite island and the most fun stop. Korcula is truly beautiful with the narrow streets and sea view restaurants. We visited the prize winning winery Grk Bire - I recommend it! And we went to a cute sandy beach.

Hvar: Another great island, also known as the party islands, so we did some partying. But we also had a great walk to the fortress with amazing views. A must do in Hvar. Very beautiful island as well.

Vis: We only had lunch and relaxed in the harbour at Vis so I didn't see much. But we visited a very cute fun winery called Konoba Magic. Recommend it!

Bol: Last island. We went to see the house inside of a house - fun story and to a very cute beach just in the village center. We also did wine tasting at Stina - amazing! The next day we docked up just outside of the famous beach Zlatni, very cool.

 

Based on this experience I highly recommend a yoga retreat with Exotic yoga retreats. The service from Katherine and Gayle was great from the very first email and it was an all over well organized and beautiful experience.

Thank you my fellow yogis at the retreat - you made it even better! Thank you wonderful boat crew, thank you Erdinc - one skilled and wonderful yoga teacher in so many ways. And Duje - best local guide in Croatia, I'm sure.

Namaste.

The boat!

The boat!

Life on a sailboat

Life on a sailboat

The famous beach in Bol

The famous beach in Bol

Korcula!

Korcula!

Fellow yogis having a break

Fellow yogis having a break

Hvar - fortress view 

Hvar - fortress view 

The beautiful city of Split, Croatia

Split in Croatia is my kind of city. It has narrow streets, it's a walkable size, the architecture is beautiful, the food is great and it's by the sea. My hotel was actually inside the ruins of the Diocletian's Palace, so was many other hotels, restaurants, shops, a church and more. It's like a city in a city. Very cool!

I spent about a day and a half in Split. And even though it's a beautiful city that is pretty much what you need to see what's worth seeing in the city center. And especially when the temperature is way beyond 30 degrees celsius like when I was there. But there are beaches just outside of the city and many boats departs from Split to the islands.

This is what I did see and recommend:

  • The Diocletian's Palace - off course. Take your time walking the streets, have an Espresso or a glass of great Croatian white wine in one of the many cafes (the best ones are hidden in the corner of a street). It's touristy yes - but nice!
  • Substructions of the Diocletian's Palace. Not really much to see, it's empty. But it's cool. And it's where Daenery's kept her dragons in Game of Thrones!
  • The Bell Tower at the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. Climb to the top for a great view (not if you are claustrophobic or afraid of hights). 
  • Check out the shops, Split has low prices and some very nice shops.
  • Take a seat at one of the many benches facing the sea and just watch it.
  • The fish marked by the shopping street - fun to watch.

Eat, drink and sleep:

  • Sleep at Villa Split Luxury rooms if you can. Amazing staff, beautiful rooms, great breakfast! 
  • Bepa, Mazzgoon and Corto Maltese are great places for food and drinks inside of the palace walls.

If you are based in Europe, Split is a great city for a weekend escape, but it's mostly city to start or end you vacation in Croatia, that off course also includes some of the islands and Dubrovnik. <3 Croatia.

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One day in Dubrovnik and a "How to "survive" the tourist crowd guide"

Dubrovnik has sceneries that goes straight to my top 5 list of great travel experiences. The wall of the Old City of Dubrovnik is 2 kilometers of them. And if you are a Game of Thrones fan - needless to say. You will love it. It's the Kings Landing! 

Dubrovnik smells of fish, the ocean and Lavender. The food and the wine is great. The sights are many. But Dubrovnik is also filled with cruise tourists and you have to watch out if you don't want to walk down an iPad photographing Japanese or pump into a selfie stick. More about that later.

My hotel was in Babin Kuk, it was nice to stay outside of the city, it was only a 10 minute bussride and to relax with a see view with dinner was a nice way to unwind from the busy city. During my day in Dubrovnik I walked the city wall, I walked through the old town and I had a great lunch at the great traditional fish restaurant Proto. Enough for one day and as I see it what you have to see and do. I wanted to take a ride with the cable car as well but it was closed.

Dubrovnik is really one of the most beautiful cities I have been too. But it's also the one filled with most tourist. I really had to dig deep into my own calmness to enjoy the day rather than let it frustrate me. So I made my self a set of rules to make it work. I think these will work for most people. It worked very well for me!

1. Practice a really slow way of walking. Imagine you have a curious child by your side. This way you can enjoy even more of the scenery and you don't feel the need to pass everyone stopping to take photos ahead of you. 

2. Don't stop to take photos on the spot where everyone else does. There is a pretty good chanche that the sight is even better if you walk a few more meters ahead. 

3. Be happy that you don't come back home with hundreds of selfies or pictures of your friend/boyfriend/wife. After all, that's not what you went to this place to see:) 

4. Step to the side when you want to take a photo. Cause you do want to take them as well. But it's possible to do it without standing in the way of others. 

5. Take a deep breath. It always hjelps. So does a break with a glass of wine:) 

 

And you should go to Dubrovnik! The views from the city wall is worth it!  

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Summer skiing in Stryn, Norway <3

Most people hit the beach when the summer starts for real in Norway. Not very strange, we have a long winter and the skiing season for most people end at easter. Buuut, some of us still chase the snow. This year I'm one of them. So last weekend I went to the very best place for summer skiing in Norway, Stryn Sommerski.

Located between high peaks on the mountain Strynefjellet you can both ski at the resort with plenty of back country options and you can go ski touring. The lift helps you half the way and there are many options to go further on with steep downhill runs. When the weather is as perfect as last weekend with clear blue sky all day long - there are not many other places you would rather be. 

Stryn Sommerski has a really chilled atmosphere, people are laidback, the mood is good. If you are in a party mood you should stay at Folven Camping where the after ski happens. If you want somewhere more quiet I'll recommend Nygård Camping where we stayed. 

Sun + Summer + Skiing + Stryn = <3

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Jordan – friendly and beautiful

- Wanna ride my Ferrari (donkey) lady? I give you fan and Shakira.
Even the sellers are funny and friendly in Jordan. This was said by a guy I met in amazing Petra. He sold donkey rides. There is something different about Jordan, the people living there also see them selves as different from the people in neighbouring countries. We are more friendly to each other they say. And I really think they are.

Jordan is not only friendly, but beautiful and interesting! You drive through the wildest of landscapes, Petra is a sight amongst very few, the desert is fascinating and The Dead Sea is one of those bucket list experiences. 

But sadly Jordan is taking it’s fall because of the conflicts in the area around. People are scared to travel there (even though it is safe) and it’s very visible – the tourism has gone down drastically since the Arab spring. I hope this will change because Jordan is very worth visiting and I never felt unsafe in any way.

Me and mye friend Kathe was lucky to have our own driver on the 4 day visit to Jordan. This is what we experienced:

Amman
The day in Amman was short and also the only day with rain so I’m pretty sure I could have seen the city from a much better side. But the visit to Citadel Amman was really something, beautiful views framed by old ruins. Probably the highlight of Amman. We also visited the Roman Theatre, nice but didn’t take that long.

The Dead Sea
To visit the Dead Sea, most people stay at resorts. So did we. The first day was windy and rainy so we didn’t even get to try the famous water. And there’s not much else to do around the resorts so an evening at the hotel spa was a good choice. But the next day the sun came out. We took the morning bath (it’s actually impossible to swim) in the sea. A very strange and fun experience, it’s kind of like taking an oil bath. A bucket list thing to do there!


The rest of the day was spent in the car, driving through the most wonderful scenery, up on mountains and through small villages. A really good way to see the country. A small hillside cafe with an amazing view and coffee cooked on the stove was a highlight. So was the fresh bread and yoghurt lunch bought by our driver in a local shop along the way.

Petra
Ready for the day in Petra, the place most known in Jordan. The ancient city of Petra is one of the world wonders, hidden and forgotten for centuries, only known to the Beduins who lived there, then found by a Swizz explorer in 1812.

We were among the first guests entering that morning. A smart move as we walked through it with vey few people getting in way of our massive photo action:) Later on the way back it was way more crowded.

What to say about Petra, it’s fascinating and beautiful, the colors, the lights, the histories! Even though they very often don’t know the real story. Maybe it happened like this, maybe not, our guide kept saying. It is really a must see, charge your camera batteries, bring good shoes and water, spend the day. And start early.

Wadi Rum Desert
This experience got it’s own blog post.

Aqaba
One day at a resort in Aqaba was our last stop before returning to Amman flying home. Aqaba is the nice place to rest for a day or more after the sandy desert experience. It’s beach time!


Thank you Jordan for a friendly experience filled with beauty and wonders!

My trip around Jordan was sponsored by Sherazade Travel. But my opinions are off course my own.

Some pictures below, more here.

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My first desert experience – Wadi Rum, Jordan

And what an experience! Born and raised between steep mountains and deep fjords, the desert was something I only saw in movies. In Wadi Rum I got to both see it from the back of a camel riding into the sunset, on a jeep ride and I slept there.

Most deserts are flat and can feel endless. Wadi Rum is different with mountain formations changing all the time.

We arrived the Wadi Rum desert late afternoon ready for our desert experience. Our driver parked the car and a jeep driver from Rahayeb Camp drove us to the camp, my first glimpse of the desert, I loved it from the first moment. Arriving the camp tea was served (lots of tea time in the desert) and we found our VIP tent (it had showers and all). Then it was time for our camel ride.

My fascination for camels was really big at this point (they are so funny!) and it was mye first ride on one. I simply loved riding through the desert! We arrived our goal, a small hill to watch the sunset from. Everybody else arrived in jeeps, only us on camels. Fun! And a beautiful sunset!

The rest of the evening in the camp wasn’t all that. Food was good, cooked in the ground, but then it all went quiet pretty fast. But we slept very well. The next day the jeep ride was the really big treat. Just cruising through the desert for three hours on the back of a jeep, wind in the hair, different mountain formations passing through all the time. And off course the driver stopped for amazing photo spots all the time. If I just subtract the two times we stopped at touristy spots to be served tea and ”entertainment” (men smoking water pipe) with goods for sale, it was pretty perfect!

Yes, I loved the desert experience! Sleeping there was no big deal, but I wouldn’t mind cruising around even more. Maybe on a horse next time.

My trip around Jordan was sponsored by Sherazade Travel. But my opinions are off course my own.

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Powder paradise at Strandafjellet, western Norway

At Strandafjellet ski resort you get some of the best off piste possibilities in Scandinavia and the best fjord view. With 7 lifts and 17 downhill slopes and ski touring options all around, Strandafjellet is one of the most magnificent skiing resorts in Norway and Scandinavia. You actually ski in the Norwegian alps - Sunnmørsalpane.

I visited one day during this easter and even though I wasn't that early there where plenty of untouched powder areas to be the first one down. And make sure you eat your lunch there, this is the view you get: 

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Downhill skiing with alpine feeling in Hemsedal, Norway

Looking for downhill skiing with off piste possibilities and the feeling of being on high mountain tops without having to walk there yourself? Then Hemsedal ski resort may be your answer. 

Hemsedal is situated between Oslo and Bergen, about 200 km northwest of Oslo. Hemsedal has pistes from 620 to 1,450 metres above sea level. In the eastern part of Norway this is one of the resorts with the best total package. (Skiing in Western Norway is a totally different story).

The pistes in Hemsedal start from three summits with a grat view over the village of Hemsedal and the surrounding mountains. There are many possibilities for off piste skiing and ski touring in the area as well.

And then you have the after ski! Probably the best one in Norway. Hemsedal ski resort and the surrounding areas offers many places to sleep for a few hours between after skiing and skiing and many restaurants and shops as well. 

Take a look:

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Yoga everywhere

I think travelling and yoga are my two favorite things in the world. And luckily they combine very well. After all, yoga is like a travel in itself, a way to experience and explore. 

Like the beautiful yoga retreat I went to in Italy last summer where I also combined it with a few days in Naples. That was the yoga retreat where I found my own yoga way. Or the yoga and surf retreat I went to in Portugal, amazing place, loads of fun. I'm a big fan of Ashtanga yoga, a passion I found when I went to Goa in India a few years ago. And you don't have to go to a yoga retreat to do yoga when travelling. Yoga can be done everywhere. Like at sunset on the beautiful beaches of Bali. Or you can just bring your yoga math (by one for travelling) and do it at any hotel or floor you find. 

Just do it, do yoga everywhere! 

Inhale the future, exhale the past.


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Istanbul: Tradition meets modern hipster

Up and down the streets in and around the Grand Bazaar you see people drinking tea and men running around with treys filled with tea glasses and one sugar cube for each. In the more hipsterish area, Karakoy, you find a more modern form, my mint tea came in a big cup filled with fresh mint leaves and fruit. They take their tea and their tea time seriously in Istanbul.

I love cities where traditions and the modern life blends together. Where you can see the everyday life of the people living there out on the streets, where they manage to be them selves even if the tourists run around and new trends find their way. I loved Istanbul, so vibrant, so much to see! Beautiful mosques and towers, great culture and food coffee and tea. I only had three days, it's not really enough, but this is what I recommend from my days there:

Galata Bridge
Walking over Galata Bridge the fishers live their lives, many stay there all day long, fishing and chatting with each other, the tea breaks are many. Under the bridge you find all the restaurants no one goes to, but they work very hard getting you in there. Instead people eat their fish sandwich by the Bosphorus river. The view walking over the bridge is great!

Bosphorus river cruise
It is really nice to see all the mosques and the beautiful city from the seaside. Take the short two hour cruise, they run from the riverside by Galata Bridge.

Galata Tower
They say it's expensive, maybe not worth it, but I say it is. The 360 degree view is amazing! This is where you get the really great view photos. By accident I was up there just when the Friday prayer was done, listening to the sound of many many mosques at the same time was really something. 

Sultanahmet
The area of Sultanahmet has a beautiful park, many mosques and museums and much more. I didn't have that much time so I prioritized to see Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque, both worth seeing!

Karakoy and Hotel Sub Karakoy
I stayed at the hotel Sub Karakoy in Karakoy. A very nice and central area (I could walk everywhere) and so many many cool and good restaurants, coffee shops and bars. This is where the hipsters hang out. And Sub Karakoy is one of the very best hotels I have stayed at EVER. The design was really beautiful, the service was perfect, the roof top bar super cool, the breakfast yummy (every day served with todays traditional dessert) and they even gave me a present when I left and a gift on New Years eve (I was there then). I highly recommend it both for the location and everything else.

The Grand Bazaar, the spice marked and the streets in between
The Grand Bazaar is a must see. A really big old marked where they sell just about everything. I didn't buy anything though, I'm not a big fan of bargaining and too much of the stuff is fake. But, go there early in the day while the sellers have their tea break and chat with each other rather then pushing things on you, just observe! And sit down at one of the cafes and have a tea yourself. Afterwards, walk the narrow streets down to the spice market. In these streets the locals shop just about everything they need. Walking here you can observe much of the culture of Istanbul. And step by the Spice market to. 

Istiklal Caddesi and Taksim Square
Istlklal Caddesi is a long shopping street with no traffic and a old tram passing by now and then in between the street boots selling what food is right for the season. Not exactly shopping like New York, but there are some nice shops. The street ends up in Taksim Square, also worth seeing.


This is what I had the time to do, but there is so much more. I don't think anyone will regret going to Istanbul, it's a lovely city! Bring good shoes and walk, that's when you see the real life of the city.

 

the view from Galata tower 

the view from Galata tower 

At the Spice marked

At the Spice marked

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Galata bridge

Galata bridge

At the Grand Bazaar 

At the Grand Bazaar 

Hagia Sofia 

Hagia Sofia 

Inside the Blue Mosque 

Inside the Blue Mosque 

Happy New Year from Istanbul - be friendly, smile and bounce

To celebrate new years abroad is a nice reminder of the world we live in, it is so much more then what we see in our every day life.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand eachother, we may even become friends.
— Maya Angelou

I feel lucky and blessed to be able to travel as much as I do, it gives me other perspectives on the world along with great experiences and adventures. Beeing in Turkey today means that I have just visited my 37th country and I'm 37 years old. And its the fourth year I'm spending new years eve abroad:

2012/2013: Smiling and bouncing together with newly made American/Canadian friends and thousands of Vietnamese people in Saigon. The countdown was very special with so many people.
2013/2014: Salsa party in Tokyo! Danced my way into the new year with people from all over the world. And followed the Japanese tradition by going to the Shrine on new years day to pray for the year to come.
2014/2015: Dancing and drinking in San Jose with friends from America, Canada, Australia, England and Kroatia. The last day of our two week long and amazing travel around Costa Rica.
2015/2016: In Istanbul, at a rooftop bar with a beautiful view and beautiful people.

I wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope it will bring you to new adventures and that the world will be filled with more peace and understanding. Be friendly, smile and bounce!

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My beautiful week in Bali

The resorts rooster wakes me up in the morning and I step outside my door into the garden path, roses hanging over me. I walk through the organic garden filled with spices and vegetables before another path feeling like it’s in the jungle takes me down to the beach. I do my yoga watching the sun rise and the surfers tackling the waves.

So friendly people, so much beauty, blissful and fun. That is Bali to me. Only one week in Bali!? they said. Yes, and I understand why, but even though I would love to stay longer, one week showed me both different sides of Bali and gave me a really nice week in the sun.

This is what I did and easely recommend to anyone who wants to go to Bali.

Sanur beach

Slow life and really nice water is what best describes the beach in Sanur. I spent a day there, mostly in the water, some time in a sun chair.  Sanur is a nice beach where you can do water sports or just relax. The beachfront walk is nice, just do your best to ignore all the ladies who wants you to visit their booth at the marked.  Eat you lunch at Sand Beach Club.

Ubud

Make sure you pay attention on your way there. You drive on narrow roads and get to see a lot of people doing their daily chores along the way. The shops in Ubud mostly have tourist stuff and yoga stuff, but take a stroll anyway. I had lunch at the Dirty Duck Diner, It was nice.

And do visit the monkey forest! It was way more facinating then I imagened and a really nice walk (takes about one hour to walk the whole round) in the shadow of threes. And the monkeys are everywhere and very close to you. Photo opportunities, oh yeah! But watch you camera (and other stuff) they like to steal these monkeys. There are many stories about people being attacked by the monkeys, but as long as you are nice, they are nice and there are many friendly guards on your way.

What I didn’t see in Ubud was the rice terraces. My friendly driver wasn’t very good at speaking English and spent time trying to drop me off at typical tourist traps rather then actually taking me to the rice terraces as I asked him to… But I found my peace anyway.

Seminyak

Oh, Seminyak! The day there took me by surprise, so different from the busy cheep marked in Sanur. Many many beautiful shops with real stuff you would actually wear at home and souvenirs that would find it’s place in your clean Scandinavian designed livingroom.

Speaking about design – the restaurants, cafes and bars in Seminyak was so beautiful, so many great concepts, reminded me very much about Williamsburg, Brooklyn actually. Every place had a concept. For more tips on where to eat and so on in Seminyak, head over to the blog by Nordictwinkle.

I also went to the beach in Seminyak, about a 15 minute walk from Seminyak Square. This is my kind of beach! Very wide and you could walk along it for miles. I think I will stay in Seminyak the next time I go to Bali.

Komune resort and beach club

This is where I stayed the whole week, located at Keramas beach where I watched the sunrise in the mornings and the evening entertainment at the beach faced bar/restaurant was night surfing. Komune is both a beach club and a resort, it also has a health club with equipment and both fitness classes and yoga classes. 

Everything at Komune was so made so beautiful. The place had two pools, one at the beach club with a busy (but not to busy) party like vibe and such a cool pool, it felt like it was a part of the beach just in front of it. Watching the surfers was great entertainment from the sunbed;) The other pool was part of the health club and had a very different vibe, with children not allowed and surrounded by palms it was the most relaxing place to be!

Komune also had great food and a really good spa with great treatments. The beach was mostly for surfing and had black sand so the pools was to prefere. But good beach for running and yoga. 

The area around Komune wasn't much and you needed some kind of transport to go anywhere (Sanure 30 minutes away, Ubud and Seminyak about 60 minutes). That was the only downside to the place. If I go back to Bali I think I will stay there for a few days and then somewhere else (like Seminyak or visit some of the islands). Komune is a perfect place to unwind and relax, but not see Bali. 

Thank you Bali for a great week, I loved you and all your friendly people!

Komune 

Komune 

Find your inner peace when traveling

Tourists visit, travelers explore they say. How about just being at and feeling the place you visit. That's the kind of traveler I am. I don't feel the urgent need to see anything and I don't really have to explore all the time. But I do need to find my inner peace, to not stress around, to see the place with a relaxed mind.

Because, let's face it, traveling isn't always a romantic and enlightening meeting with a new place, it's very often combined with stress. Delayed flights, missed luggage, mosquito bites, to hot, to busy, getting lost (not in the good way), jetlag etc. etc. When you think back, most of your travels have some kind of feeling like that. Mine to. But most of the time you still you look back at it with happy thoughts, it was your time off, it was a meeting with new people, and another culture, happy times with friends or family.

That's because you probably got over it, you found your peace, you managed away from the stress. My way of traveling is to do my best to not feel those not so good things. I have found a way to love airports and I can really feel a place when I arrive, like when I came to Berlin. I can easily go to a new place and not think that I missed out even though I didn't see any of the tourist sights. Because I still felt the vibrant city, I observed people on my way just sitting at a cafe or walking the streets. I try to get to know the place from it's inside, not just observing it. 

To be able to do that I have to understand how I find that peace. It helps to think about a good moment. Like today (I'm in Bali), the day started out with breakfast at sunrise accompanied by the sound of waves. Followed by a great yoga class. The plan for the day was to go to Ubud, about 45 minutes to drive from where I stay. Those stressful moments kept coming. The driver didn't understand English that well and tried to drop me off at typical tourist traps. Arriving in Ubud I was angry and hungry and it was very hot. But I reminded my self about the peace I felt that same morning, I regained that feeling, slowed down with a nice long lunch and a visit to the amazing Monkey Forest. And on my way back I managed to see all the beauty we drove by, to see the life behind, to imagine the life of the people I saw. 

Tomorrow I will try to find back to those moments, I will not stress to see or explore. I will start the day drinking my coffee while watching the waves and from that work out what a good day will be and do my best to find peace no matter what I do.

Peace, love and travel!