Category Archives: Travel

Sunrise Shoot

On a recent four day long weekend abroad, I spent most of my time daydreaming while gazing up at blue skies and taking brief snapshots with my iPhone. The thought of picking up my Canon hadn’t crossed my brain longer than a fleeting second before the idea of roaming into a boulangerie came to thought. It is not to say that I was not inspired by my surroundings, it was quite the opposite. I was thrilled to be around people, art, sounds, cultures, sights, and glorious golden spring light. Seeing it through a lens wasn’t enough, I needed the moments to filter through my very own pupils into my wandering mind.

Yet, my company wasn’t convinced and inspired a challenge. Wake up at sunrise on my last day with the intention to take my camera off the shelf and out into the streets. With tired eyes I snoozed through two alarms the next morning and reluctantly tied my shoes and headed out into the world. The light was right. Softness took over what had been traffic filled every moment before this dawn. People were still home, tossing in their sheets, the morning was mine to capture. For photographers and runners, there is no better time than sunrise to get it done right.

I neglect this fact often at home. Yet, on a trip to a foreign place, it is easy for me to try new things or reminisce an old lust, for the sake of the experience. Call it je ne sais quoi, call it jet lag, but I hit the streets that Sunday morning feeling free and more like me than I had in weeks. Quiet time alone with myself to visualize, frame, and capture a moment. A memory.

One Month In A Carry-On

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It can be done, my friends! I did it this past holiday season. For four weeks I lived out of a suitcase with only the bare essentials. I was thrilled by the prospect, excited for the challenge, and overall pleased with the outcome. It is all thanks to my favorite app on my phone, Cladwell. This little genius tells me everything I need to know about what is in my closet. *Insert classic Clueless Cher master scheming face here.* Now, I will confess off the bat, I did stray away from the challenge, but these loopholes were preplanned. While I did construct an efficient number of items and cohesive styles, the bonus to this challenge was that I would not be more than a few miles from one of my three sisters closets. Shout out to older siblings for always having something spare to share. Now, back to business.

FullSizeRender-1.jpgI use Cladwell all the time, but for this purpose specifically, it is worth its weight in gold. Traveling is already hectic enough between TSA guidelines, itineraries, and homesickness. With Cladwell you know at least you’ll be guaranteed to look good doing all that and more.

IMG_7797.jpgAs you can see, I have uploaded my planned wardrobe into the app. They have 1,000s of items to chose from, so if you can’t find something identical to what you own, you’re sure to find sometimes damn near close. And if you are like me and some things are too special and very specific, my tip is to go to the webshops and use a screenshot of the items sale page to add to the closet capsule record. Like I did here with my Billy! tee.

FullSizeRender-2.jpgNot only did this app help me go from planes, trans, Christmas parties, and a wedding, but it also saved me money! I knew exactly what I packed and what to wear, so at no point did I feel the need to impulse shop. That means walking around downtown shopping areas during the holiday season worry free of ensemble crisis thanks to one little planning application.

So, if you too have plans this year for some serious long term traveling, or if you’re going away for a quick weekend trip, make 2019 the best year ever and bring Cladwell with you. Better yet, if you are still on some new year new me game-changing vibe, clean out your closet and build your dream from the bottom up, constructing it piece by piece directly on your phone. You will not regret it!

Tampere – Day Trip

IMG_6971.JPGRecently I took a day trip north to the city of Tampere Finland. This came as an opportunity to meet with some of my friends who live there. It is the ideal little day trip from the city. After booking my ticket the night before with Onni Bus I was on my way the following morning before the sunrise.

To be honest this was my first ever bus trip. Traditionally I avoid the bus in Helsinki because I get carsick. This is due to the stop and go motion and it can be very unsettling. Yet, this was a long distance ride and it was a surprisingly easy journey. I enjoyed the double-decker feature and had little to no discomfort along the way (being 6ft/180cm in a small cabin seat means no leg room… ever). Yet I managed to catch up on some podcasts and enjoyed the sunrise over the Finnish countryside.

IMG_6967.jpgOnce I arrived to Tampere my plans were unclear. So I decided to just get to the closest coziest coffee shop. I have been to Tampere once before, so I had a decent understanding of the layout of the city. Forever grateful for my good sense of direction, especially while traveling. I found myself in a cozy corner at Kaffila. Where mind you, I made my entire order in almost perfect Finnish! Count your small victories friends.

IMG_6975.jpgLater I met with my Young Living Sponsor and new friend Ashley. She has been such a blessing and this trip would not have been the same without our long afternoon talk and the tour of her beautiful shared workspace with Store of Hope. Later I caught up with my colleague and new bestie for a quick lunch by the river.

IMG_6983.jpgWe were quickly rained out so we said our goodbyes and I was off the bus station to head down south again. For a quick trip, it was full over great conversations, beautiful sights, and soul filling moments. I sometimes get lost in daily routines and forget how deeply necessary these little moments away are for my mental health. While I scrambled the night before trying to organize bus tickets and itineraries it all ended up being as perfect as possible despite my worrying. Finland is a wonderful backyard to explore, and I want to make a bigger effort to see more than just my little neighborhood. My Finnish life has been a wave of up and downs the past few years, but new friends and new places make it all inspiring and worthwhile.

 

Galaxy Pod Reykjavík

To conclude my solo journey around Reykjavík, I finished my days at the Galaxy Pod Hostel. After I packed all my things, I left Three Sisters Guest House, said farewell to my host and friend Thor, and began the 2.5-kilometer walk towards my newest accommodation. An easy trek considering luck was on my side and all I had to do was walk down the same street for 30 minutes. Through the tourist attractions and “gift shop district” of the old town, I slowly made my way. Passing the city to my right and to my left, through each intersection, the breathtaking views of the Icelandic geography.

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The hostel was easy to find since it is in a large developed area and my directions involved little to no complications. There I dropped off my bags and went out to do some more exploring before my 2pm check-in. Fortunately, this was one of the better days to be outside weather-wise, and I was also doing well with my budget, so I treated myself to a lunch at a restaurant and passed the time writing in my journal. After picking up a couple snacks from a grocery across the road, I returned to the hostel to check-in.

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Prior to this moment, I had no idea what to expect from hostel life, but after a little coaching from a well-traveled friend and seasoned hostel hopper, I felt mentally prepared for what to expect. Fortunately I got incredibly lucky at Galaxy Pod. As far as first experiences go, this one takes the cake! The staff was exceptionally kind and helpful. They offered discounted breakfasts and dinners all while there was a fully equipped kitchen to host any other meal planning needs you may have. With a fully stocked bar and a movie playing almost every night in the common room, I started to feel like I was in college again.

For the Zenon fans, this is what I imagined living on the main space station would be like in the year 2049. My personal pod was in a room of 24, but for others interested in trying, there are a variety of room options to choose from varying in sizes and privacy.

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In moments of needed solitude or travelers exhaustion, it is nice to go into the pod, with no windows and really absorb the moment of rest. While the world keeps turning, it feels like the human version of recharging. While the pods are not soundproof, it is still quite cozy to take off your outerwear, tuck into the pod, close the door and get a good nap, or just watch a movie on Netflix. Whichever your version might be of recharging, this little space makes you feel like once you are ready to emerge, you will have arrived in a future universe.

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I really enjoyed taking a few hours to myself in the pod during the days to rest or wait out bad weather only to arise at 10pm just in time to catch sunset pictures! At the end of the day, it was nice to enjoy the common area as well, take advantage of the happy hour special, and just watch the clouds pass through the mountains. Galaxy Pod is a special place, and I am forever a fan of this efficient accommodation service. Since returning from my trip, I have since seen pod style hostels and hotels from all around the world. So even if your plans are not taking you to Iceland this summer, be sure to check out if there will be a pod in your destination of interest. And if you are going to Reykjavík don’t forget to look for my tag on the community wall at Galaxy Pod!

 

Three Sisters Guesthouse Reykjavík

Located near the Old Harbor district in Reykjavik Iceland, the quaint space of Three Sisters Guesthouse offers a homely accommodation for any weary traveler. As I made my way to the city center from the airport, still flooded with adrenaline after arriving in 33mph winds, I am anxious to meet my host and see where my journey abroad will begin. My connection with Three Sisters came on a whim, but I was eager to know more about the guesthouse as the opportunity grew closer.

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My husband, just over 2,000 miles away, is in Helsinki, and I am on my own traveling solo for the first time since we got married in 2015. My emotional levels ranging from a sense of vulnerability to a peaking awareness of independence. After getting from the plane to the bus, to the van, to the front door of Three Sisters Guesthouse, I am greeted by the kindest face a tired traveler can see! Thor, the owner of the facility, greeted me as family and escorted me to my room on the third floor. Although I have never been there before, somehow space felt familiar. As if walking into your Grandparents home only to sleep in what once in time was your own parents’ bedroom.

 

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In the entryway was the coat rack and bathroom and just passed that in the corner was a kitchen and opposite to that was a small coffee bar. Past the bed, on the opposite side of the room, two wing back chairs framed the coziest view of the neighboring corner store. Thor sat down with me on the wingback chairs and we talked about my travels, his company, and our spouses. As if visiting a relative I havent seen in a long time, it was comforting and easy to talk.

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Then all at once, I was alone, abroad, and amazed at the situation I found myself in. Gazing out the window of the overcast neighborhood, I wondered what the week ahead would have in store. First and foremost a meal was in my near future, since I was traveling on a budget groceries were needed. The following few days would be filled with window gazing and neighborhood wandering.

What started out as a spontaneous journey to the island of Iceland, turned into a surpriginly comfortable journey to a place of framiliarity. Three Sisters Guesthouse made traveling easy when every nightless night I could sit in the window ledge watching the moon and occasional pedestrian pass in the dusk light. Waiting for the streetlights to come on became an evening ritual as it would be well after midnight before the flicker of electricity would grow into a luminous light. Just enough to glow into the shadows in the sidewalk.

For anyone looking to have a cozy home away from home expereince, please consider this darling space. It truly is pleasure to stay here, and easy when all that you need is easily available in the various studio apartments to chose from at Three Sisters Guesthouse. Best of all, Thor will be your first friend in Iceland.

This post has been in collaboration with Three Sisters Guesthouse.

 

Travel Essentials

This week I am abroad on a solo journey around Reykjavík Iceland. So while I will share more detail about the city and my journey later with you on here, for now, I want to focus on my packing essentials. This trip is a seven-day expedition and without getting too cocky I feel this is my best packing job to date! When I arrived on Tuesday, the winds and rain were unlike anything I have ever experienced whilst living in the Nordic region. Much to my astonishment, I planned perfectly with exactly the right apparel to defend myself against the climate.


Some of my favorites with me on this trip include my Rains jacket for protection against wind and water. I also have my Lululemon jacket and merino wool sweater. These two together make just about any cold to freezing temperature a pleasurable experience. Also, in the essence of keeping things light, I only brought two journals and book for some paperback entertainment.


I am halfway through my trip and I could not be more pleased with how well things are going. As far as preparation is concerned, I did very little just to be sure spontaneity could be an option along the way. My best tip to share with you would be one, check the weather and prepare! And two, be honest with yourself. I am not the type to do a massive amount of wardrobe changes. So I know that I am going to wear a variation of the same outfit every day to keep mornings easy, packing light, and personal management simple. So if you’re traveling soon or planning to come to the great country of Iceland, I hope this has helped.
-xx

Five Hours in Stockholm

It is a gloomy morning outside my windows. The clouds are thick letting only a dim light filter through the moody early hours of the day. Looking at pictures from last week in Stockholm, I am reminded of Spring’s arrival. The warm sunshine left my cheeks sunkissed after a full day of wandering Swedish streets. Although my time there was too short to bare, it was just enough to taste a different world and leave the everyday scene.

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My husband talks about how each city has its own smell. An individual fragrance to each part of the world. It is a sense I have tried to refine in recent years while traveling. Opening up to experience the world around me and be a witness with more than my eyes. My natural instinct is to listen to the sound of a city. The new noises and notes played by the people and nature combined. Stockholm sounds like cobblestone roads combined with the sing-song language that is the rhythm of the Swedish tongue.

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Another conversation I have when traveling is whether or not I feel “abroad”. As an immigrant for nearly three years, I suppose I live in a constant state of abroad. So when traveling around Europe the sensation of distant lands versus comfortable places varies on a scale. Stockholm falling somewhere on the scale of a large overwhelming populous to settling in a comfortable neighborhood corner.

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-xx