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&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

At the Grand Bazaar 

Hagia Sofia&nbsp;

Hagia Sofia 

Inside the Blue Mosque&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

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!



Shoreditch - my London hood

Shoreditch, east London, Hackney. It's rough around the edges, more street art and construction sites than parks and cozy streets. But loads of hip cafes, random art galleries, all kinds of restaurants and good shopping. An interesting area, mye favourite London place to be.

Actually I've stayed in Shoreditch the last three times I have been to London (I have been in London around ten times). It's the mixture that intrigues me. Me like Shoreditch.

Here's a few places in Shoreditch I recommend:

Make sure you experience Shoreditch on your next London trip. 

Shoreditch streetart&nbsp;

Shoreditch streetart 

Insiders guide to Oslo

Your interests and what you do for a living often predicts what you like to see and do when travelling. So I wanted to make an insider guide to Oslo based on that. I asked some friends and colleagues what they would recommend. Here you go:

Hike with a view and multicultural Grønland

Take a hike in Ekebergparken. Why? Great view over the Oslo fjord, world famous art and great nature. Take the tram to get there.

Visit exotic Grønland. Oslos most multicultural area. Eat cheap and very good indian food at Punjab Tandoori, good Norwegian food at Olympen or the best food in Norway at Maaemo. Drop by Oslo Mekaniske, great selection of beers (and the Norwegian apple cider Lovløs which some friends and I make), enjoyed in a Norwegian sofa from the 50ies.

Jostein Magnussen, marketing manager and founder, likes running and cross country skiing and is a bit of a foodie.

Nature walks, sculpture park and seafood

Oslo is a small city, so to see the different neighborhoods and the variations of the city is doable in a day or two. Here is my top list! Best nature walks; Sognsvann-Ullevållsæter and Bygdøy. Best sculpture parks; Frognerparken and Ekebergparken. Best Seafood: Lofoten Fiskerestaurant. Best drinks: Himkok. Best hidden restaurant; Sawan. Best Sunday Brunch; Bølgen & Moi. And you must take a walk in these areas; The Opera, Tjuvholmen and Vulkan/Grunerløkka. 

Melinda Johnsen, Digital Marketing Manager, I travel & eat a lot! :)

Mausoleum and fish cakes

One of the coolest places I take my friends is the Emanuel Vigeland's mausoleum. Some find it macabre, some find it beautiful, everyone loves to enter that little door into complete darkness.

Another one loved by foreigners: I used to take my friends to buy fish cakes and eat them by the ocean in Aker Brygge, watching the boats pass by. The little boat to Bygdøy. And the Viking ship museum. You can stop by Lille Herbern to eat afterwards.

Renata Barros, designer and creative lead. Brasilian so she has an outsiders view as well.

Music, music, music and drinks and vinyl

When I tour and travel, I like finding small bars and clubs with a laid-back atmosphere and great music on the stereo. Which in my case means old school soul, r&b and rock.
Here in Oslo you can´t go wrong if you go to Robinet next to Rockefeller Music Hall. Oslo´s smallest and best bar for decades. A classic hole in the wall with a wonderful vibe.
Close by, at Youngstorget, Hell´s Kitchen offers good pizza, nice booths and some of my favourite Oslo dj´s. Informal and friendly. 

In the slightly hip Grünerløkka area there are plenty of good places. A new favourite is Perla. A tiny cocktail bar with kind of an Italian touch, cool interior, 70s funk on vinyl.  If you prefer having good coffee, hip beer and buying vinyl at midnight, the nice (but horribly named) Hendrix Ibsen at the Vulkan area might be your thing,

Good music and dj´s is always a bonus, and if you catch Erlend Mokkelbost spinning you are always in good hands. You´ll find him at Peloton, Hell´s Kitchen, Mono, Fisk&Vilt. Great dj, great bars. If you want the best soul, r&b and disco try finding Audun Vinger or the legendary DJ Claes. They also have their own monthly club night together at Blå called Contagious, which is really nice and smooth.

Martin Windstad, musician, Todd Terje & the Olsens

Bygdøy, Frognerseteren and Akerselva

Bygdøy! And you should go to Folkemuseet. A round trip there is great, take bus number 30 and the ferry back to Aker brygge (then you also get to see Oslo from the sea side).

If you want to explore the beautiful nature around Oslo you should rent a bike and start from Frognerseteren. Next stop Ullevaalseter for coffee and buns. If the weather is nice you should walk along Akerselva. Cool streetart and you should end your walk at Mathallen for lunch. 

Veronica Heltne, interaction designer  and nature lover (skiing, running, hiking you name it she does it)

Fortress, burgers and waffles

I love castles and fortresses, so I do recommend checking out our own  Akershus Fortress. Old halls, a dungeon and scenic grassy hills by the fjord, smack in the city center.

Get one of Oslo's best burgers at Illegal Burger at Møllergata 23. It's a short walk from downtown Oslo. Be sure to taste a Norwegian waffle! You can get them at cafés here and there, or go to the true Norwegian eating experience - Kaffistova. Simplicity all the way.

Line Kamhaug Hopmoen, marketing consultant and 4th generation Oslo-inhabitant. Love city weekend trips, hiking, cooking and British TV crime.

French food and raspeball

Start your walk in Torggata, through Markveien and along Akerselva. Eat french food at Le Benjamin or Chez Colin. Drink wine at Territoriet.

Walk up to the castle, one of the very few castles in the world where you can touch the wall even though the king is at home. For real Norwegian food - eat raspeball at Kaffistova.

Ida Jackson, content advisor, author and nerd.

Spend a day at Frogner/Bygdøy

Take a walk in the beautiful streets to view the amazing apartment buildings, take a stroll along the Frognerkilen, feed the ducks, go for a run in Bygdøy´s beautiful nature and pass Bygdøy Sjøbad, Paradisbukta and Huk. On your way out of Bygdøy, say hello/goodbye to the Kings animals: cows, horses and sheep.

If you want to buy flowers, visit MinaMilanda flower shop. Its next to Kolonihagen Frogner, where you should have your lunch.

Choose Restaurant Sawan in the evening (Oslos indisputedly best thai restaurant) and be sure to choose the tasting menu/chefs selection. Sawan is located in a nice old villa, and after 22:00, the lights dims and the music volume rises. Have a beer and/or glass of wine in front of the cozy fireplace at Forest&Brown before you go to sleep.

Hilde Rudi Olsen, web communications manager, runner, eater, loves animals.

Must see sights from an Airbnb host

Welcome to Oslo - after hosting hundreds of travelers via Airbnb my must see Sights are: Vigeland Park, Oslo Opera House, the River Aker, Botanical Garden, Munch Museum and the Fram Museum.

Grønland - multicultural melting point - Oslo Mekaniske for the great selection of beer and great atmosphere. If you are hungry you can bring your own food from the nearby sushi, hamburger, indian, pizza etc to this place. At the Teaterplassen you´ll find Vognmand Nilsen, check out their "After work" offer. 
Elias Mat & Sånt and Fiskeriet serve good Nordic food to a reasonable price. Visit Bare Jazz for your small break in the city center. Great atmosphere in that. 

In the city center you can make your own salat at Kvadrat Salat. Maybe for your picnic at Akershus Fortress? Or your walk along the picturesque River Aker that cuts through Oslo, you can walk for hours or just a little bit. If you start at Grønland and walk upstream you will come to a waterfall after ca 2 km. Turn to the east (right) and walk back to the city via vibrant Grünerløkka.   

There are always something going on in Oslo. Maybe your favorite band will be on stage when you are in town? Your favourite painter have an exhibition? Have a look at What´s on in Oslo. For more info about art in Oslo and Norway, have a look at Listen.  

Open your eyes, be curious, enjoy…if you are lost? Just ask someone, people are more than happy to help you.

Merete Sæther - Airbnb host, work as an Information Analyzer and my biggest hobbies are fine art, technology and traveling.

Hipsters and second hand shopping

If you find hipsters fascinating they can be observed in Grünerløkka, the district of fixies, black-rim glasses and waxed beards. To get there you may start in the city center and take a stroll down by the street Torggata. Apply you fake beard and glasses while crossing the bridge above the river Akerselva and take a left into the main street of Markveien. Your are now in hipster territory. 

Here you may buy second hand Norwegian coffecups in Markveien 59th, locally handcrafted jewelery in 55th and coldpressed fairtrade oliveoil in 35th. Take lunch in the backyard of the cafe Godt brød (“Good bread”) in Torvhald Meyers Gate 49th and remember to wave to the developers crafting opensourced ReactJS applications in the old factory next door. Have a locally brewed IPA at Grünerløkka Brygghus at 37th and end your night testing your boogy-woogy skills at the dancefloor of Ryes in Sofienberggata 8th.

Joakim Bording, universal design missionary and a harmonica player.

Tram, boats and sushi

1. Walk. Choose a neighbourhood (or several), and stroll around with a coffee in hand. My favorite is Grünerløkka, with it’s independent shops and great coffee. 
2. The tram. Get a day travel card, and join the tram as it takes you on an independent tour through Oslo. When I need creative inspiration, I usually get on tram number 19, and take it from end station to end station. 
3. Eat cheap and awesome sushi (number 78 is my favorite)at East Kitchen (Grünerløkka), or indian food at Punjab Tandoori (Grønland). If you’re traveling alone and want to sit in a bar and eat great food and meet good people, latin american restaurant Aymara close to Solli Plass (Vika) is a great choice. 
4. In summertime, take the boats out to the islands. You can use the same ticket as you use on the bus/tram/metro. Choose an island, bring a blanket and some refreshments, and relax. 

Ingvild Moen, Airbnb host in Oslo, social media enthusiast and traveller.

Vintage shopping and statues

A stroll along Akerselva is a must. Every little part of it is a new adventure. Bring a camera! While you’re out walking, make sure to stop by the old factory grounds at Lilleborg. There you’ll find a “secret” dam that takes you to right in the middle of the waterfalls! You’ll also find  Gypsywagon, a new, awesome second hand vintage shop with the loveliest owner in the world. Well worth the trip.

A walk in Vigelandsparken is a must at any time of the year. Marvel at the statues and blend in with the Japanese tourists. When you’re done, go to Majorstua and Rå Sushi for Oslo some awesome creations (make sure to order the Ayaka Maki and Hot Jordbær!).

Nadia Tokerud, Communications Manager. Loves food, roller derby, technology and lots of nerdy and/or quirky stuff.

Icelandic-Norwegian-Korean fusion and interesting drinks

Torggata botaniske - for the best (interesting flavours, not too sweet) drinks in Oslo. Inside the bar there is a small greenhouse with herbs used in the drinks.

Pjoltergeist is a fun restaurant. Very relaxed, not too expensive (but not very cheap either). I don’t know anywhere else you can eat icelandic-norwegian-korean fusion. The people who work there are great to. 

For shopping; the record shop Big dipper and the book store Tronsmo.

Ida Aalen, strategy advisor and interaction designer, author, runner and a nerd

 

That's it, should be enough to fill a few days in Oslo. Any questions, feel free to drop me a line. Enjoy your stay!

 

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A travel and get lost experience in Martina Franca

Arriving Martina Franca in the middel of the siesta, hungry and tired after a 6 hour travel from Naples, I wasn't totally happy with the first experience of the place. 

Martina Franca in Puglia, Italy is one of those small cities where they take their siesta really serious. The area around the train station wasn't much to see and there was no taxi to find (they had siesta too). I found my self walking the two kilometres to the hotel in 35 degrees celcius and when I arrived there was no food to find (more siesta trouble).

I didn't do any research ahead of my visit to Martina Franca since I was only staying there for one night on mye way to Kaliyoga.  But a couple of hours after I arrived, finally fed,  I headed for the city center, no idea what I would find. 

What I did find was the most beautiful plaza and really really nice white narrow streets. I walked the streets for hours, getting lost all the time, just smiling and taking pictures. That is what I call a travel and get lost experience, not knowing what to expect, to just walk in random directions finding REAL beauty. Like this:

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Kaliyoga Italy: a week of bliss, strength and beauty

Olive trees, hammocks, salt water pool. Amazing food, super nice people, blissful surroundings. 3,5 hours of yoga every day! I couldn't ask for a better week then at the yoga retreat at Kaliyoga in Italy. It gave me courage, it gave me peace and most of all it gave me the need to do more yoga in my every day life. 

Kaliyoga is pretty much everything you could ask for at a yoga retreat. And more. The beautiful surroundings, the trullo's, the smiling friendly staff, the food. It was all there to support the wonderful yoga teaching and made the whole experience very complete.

The yoga teacher Tashi was just wonderful in so many ways. I loved the way her goal was to give us the tools for our self practice. I've been doing yoga for years, but I probably learnt more during my week at Kaliyoga with Tashi then in all those years. 

Thank you Tashi, Nick, Alessandra, the volunteers and my fellow retreat participants. 

Considering going to a yoga retreat? Check out Kaliyoga! It is also on the list of Top 10 yoga retreats around the world

Kaliyoga in pictures:

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Urke Kaihus - a cafe you just have to visit if you are in the area

The small village Urke in Hjørundfjorden opened it's very first cafe/pub this summer - Urke Kaihus. (Urke Port house). And what a place! In doors the furniture is old fashion with deep couches, a disk built from planks from old barns in the village, pictures on the wall from old times when this was the villages active port house and so on. Perfect when the weather isn't the best outside (and we all know that that tends to happen in this area...). 

But the out door serving is the very best part. At the dock by the fjord, surrounded by the Norwegian alps and the view towards Slogen. Magnificent! 

Ever in the area around Hjørundfjorden, kayaking the fjord or arriving with Hurtigruten - you just have to make a stop. The waffles are also great by the way.

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Kayaking at Hjørundfjorden

Being on summer vacation in Urke by Hjørundfjorden (the village where I grew up), I did some very nice kayaking on this majestic fjord. 

Hjørundfjorden is one of the most distinctive and magnificent fjords of Norway. Among the wildest and most beautiful mountain areas in western Norway – Sunnmørsalpane - the fjord stretches 33 km in a straight line south-south-east from Storfjorden in the north to Bjørke  in the south. By Leknes the narrow Norangsfjorden go to the east towards Øye. (source Hjørundfjordportalen, more information about the fjord to be found there).

Hjørundfjorden is a great place for kayaking with many small villages to visit along the way. The fjord is surrounded by tall mountains on both sides which makes kayaking there into an exiting experience. Kayaks can be rented from Sagafjord Hotel at Sæbø and Hotel Union Øye (and probably other places as well). 

I mostly stayed in the part of Hjørundfjorden called Norangsfjorden where you have the view towards the majestic mountain Slogen. I also paddled towards Bjørke. The cafe Urke Kaihus and Hotel Union Øye are amongst stops you really should do if you are in the area. 

Kayaking is such a great way to do sightseeing and at Hjørundfjorden it's just perfect. Some pics from my days on the fjord. And imagine it all with a deep deep blue sky;)


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Naples - rough Italy

I was told and had read so many different things about Naples before I went here, like:

  • it's filled with garbage, not nice at all
  • it's beautiful, real Italy  
  • best place in Italy (coming from Italian friend not from Naples) 
  • it's really scary 
  • you should not travel there solo as a woman  
  • and...: travelling solo as a woman is no problem, just stay away from the central station (stupid advice, as a traveller the central station is very much likely a place you have to visit)

So I had to find out for my self, what was true and what wasn't. I started of by choosing a hotel in a safe and central area because that travelling solo stuff mostly has to do with common sense. And even though Naples is a bit rougher then many of the romantic Italian cities, I never experienced anything scary (not the central station either).

So what about the garbage?  When I arrived I definitely did see more garbage on the streets than most other places. But moving in to the core parts of the city it was pretty much like any other city, not super clean, but ok. 

What I experienced in Naples was beautiful buildings, cozy narrow streets, authentic living, great food and friendly people. But Naples is a bit more rough around the edges than the average Italia city. 

This is stuff I recommend to see/do in Naples:

  • Go to see Castel dell'Ovo, the castle is pretty cool and the views from the area towards Naples also.
  • Piazzas! Oh, I love them. My favourite one was Piazza San Domenico Maggiore (have some wine and tapas at Jamon while you're there). 
  • Eat pizza! After all, it is supposed to have it's origin in Naples. And it is really amazing.
  • Stay at Hotel Piazza Bellini, a beautiful hotel in so many ways, and the garden! It is also located at another nice Piazza (Piazza Bellini). The restaurant next door La Stanza del Gusto is also worth a visit.
  • The main shopping street is Via Toledo with the normal kind of shops. A much more authentic shopping street is Via Benedetto Croce and also the streets around it.
  • Tour the narrow streets, that's when you see how people really live.
  • If it's not 35 degrees celcius, walk up to Castel Sant'Elmo for a nice view.
  • If it is 35 degrees celcius, take the boat to Capri for the day (takes 45 minutes). My pictures from Capri.
  • Enjoy the fact that the city is not over filled with other tourists ;) 

Some pics: 

 

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