Tag Archives: europe

Mini hiking trip to Kullaberg and Nimis, Sweden

geniusjennieWent hiking for the first time on my own free will last weekend (being forced at school field trips when I was a kid doesn’t really count).
Me and the boyfriend took a train to Helsingborg and then took a bus to the small village Arild where we started the hike though Kullaberg, a big nature reserve that lies along the coast line in the north west of Skåne and ended the hike at the vacation spot Mölle.
I found the hiking trail online at Skåneleden which is a website where you can search for trails through the countryside of Skåne. The trail as a whole is over 1000 kilometers long so there are a lot of mini trails to choose from. Us being newbies at this and known to be quite the couch potatoes of course chose the shortest one that looked easy, but boy were we wrong.

Typical Swedish countryside houses in Mölle.

Typical Swedish countryside houses in Arild.

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Look at these cute sheep we met at the start of our hike, so fluffy!

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The view from on top of one of the hilltops along the trail.

All in all we walked 15 km, or 9 miles if you will, and that doesn’t sound that long but it wasn’t exactly a flat gravelled path.. The trail is sometimes quite harsh, really steep and unforgiving to one who is not used to hiking and walking along forest paths that are not man made. I swear the path were a 80 degree angle at some point even if the boyfriend disagrees.

Although I succeeded to avoid getting a sprained ankle or falling on my face, there were some trips and close calls. Thankfully they are not captured on camera.

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The reason behind the hike was also to have a look at the controversial art installation Nimis, built in 1980 by artist Lars Vilks that has become a tourist attraction. It’s is made out of driftwood and consists of sparsely nailed together planks and branches forming passageways, rooms and towers. It’s quite the sight and reminded me of old pagan horror stories. 

But I have to say, the almost hidden trail that leads down to the installation reminded me of back in 2008 when I visited Paris and thought it was a good idea to take the stairs up along the Eiffel tower, but much more difficult and dangerous since you have to walk down a ridiculously steep route packed with tree roots and stones.

To find your way there you have to follow a trail of spray painted trees in the forest with the letter ‘N’ on them. I would say it was worth it though.

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One of the Nimis towers, “Wotarnas torn”.

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Now I wasn’t really dressed for the part I admit, who the hell wears a kimono on a hike?

It was a really really hot day that day but I would say I got a taste for hiking and I would really like to do it again this summer. Also next time I would like to go for a longer hike and maybe bring a tent to stay the night in the woods. Something I haven’t done in years.

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First time shooting with a gun!

I thought I’d tell my story about my first time shooting. It was during my trip to Riga with my boyfriend last year.

On our third day in Riga there we went to a sketchy shooting range we booked online at Kings of Shooting, but don’t let the flashy website fool you like it did with us. We got picked up in a silver colored Mercedes by a guy with a heavy accent who drove us a long way out of town to what looked like an abandoned industrial area located next to a train track.

We looked at each other like “What the hell did we get ourselves into?!”.

Our driver then got out the car and unlocked the door to a big yellow, two story wooden warehouse where there were no windows on the first floor and led us up the stairs and told us to wait there.

He called for someone and an old lady came out with three sets of ear protection and a big black box where we soon found out that the guns were held in. He then gave us the ear protection and showed us into a long and narrow room with sound proof walls and bad lighting. There were no security between us and the green paper targets they had put up on the back wall.

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We weren’t allowed to load the guns ourselves and before we got to try each one he gave us a quick demonstration in poor English. I asked my boyfriend to go first and having no experience shooting before, he did good, I guess having played a lot of first person shooter games growing up he had picked up a thing or two. I did okay, at least I managed to hit the targets. Our instructor was also surprised, but when it was my turn to try the shotgun he said “No, weapon too heavy for girls” and brought me a smaller handheld gun to use instead. I refused, I had paid good money to try out a shotgun but he laughed and gave in.

The whole experience felt a lot like you were living in the Grand theft Auto games universe. But overall I’m glad we went, I got a new found respect for how hard it actually is to shoot, Hollywood makes it look so easy. However on the website where we bought the tickets you could choose to include to be picked up in a limo or for a ‘bikini babe’ or stripper to join you at the shooting range and I can imagine how awkward that would have been for both parties. I mean this place didn’t exactly scream high class bachelor party.

The package we bought was called ‘Get him out of the way!‘ and we got to try out three weapons, a Glock, a 12 Gauge Shotgun and a Russian sniper similar to an AK 47. We also each got a diploma with our names on and we got to keep the shooting target papers. This all cost 49 euros. The ride over to the shooting range was included but we had to pay extra to get a ride back into town.

I’m not sure I would recommend this place to anyone wanting to try out shooting for the first time, but I saw some of the reviews of their site giving them thumbs up for having no security so if that’s what you are looking for, maybe this is your thing. All in all this was an experience, a little different, but it sure makes a fun story to tell the future grand kids about.

My solo trip to London

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So it’s been almost a week since I came home from London and I thought I’d share my experiences. The trip was everything I could have wished for and more. But my first thoughts arriving in the big city was “what the hell am I doing? I’m going to be alone here for four days?!” and there were so many people and the city was so busy and I felt completely alone and overwhelmed.

I was worried about not only having to ask for directions (I hate doing that, I’m terrible at understanding maps and such) and managing everything by myself without any misfortunes but also to experience all the fun things London has to offer and not having anyone to share them with.

However being alone was a feeling I came to accept and eventually really like just the same evening I arrived when I was travelling to Camden.

Since I’ve been to London before I already had an Oyster card (a card used for paying on the Underground and buses) and knew how to top it up so getting around the tube was no biggie. Also London’s subway map is so easy to read, a child could understand it.

Camden was busy, this was a Sunday and both tourists and locals were fighting over the little space there is between the stalls and street food at the lock market, but the weather was nice and even though I was tired from taking an early flight I didn’t mind.
I love walking around Camden and visit the little boutiques with up and coming designers and find unique treasures. I bought two crop tops from a girl with a blue side cut who had designed and printed them herself.

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The next day I was anxious to get to the Victoria and Albert museum as soon as they opened. I’ve been to the museum before but ranging from March to August this year they have a special exhibition with the late Scottish designer Alexander McQueen and I really wanted to see it. When I arrived I learned that half of London had the same plans. I had have the unfortunate to arrive to the museum on a bank holiday and the queue to buy tickets ranged a long way out on the street outside. Now if I had still been home in Sweden, standing in line for two hours hadn’t been such a big deal when you’ve got a smartphone with unlimited 4G. But here I was left with a phone being reduced to nothing more than an expensive calculator so I was forced to talk to people just so I didn’t die out of boredom since I have zero patience.

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The exhibition turned out to be one of the greatest ones I’ve been to in a long time. The works of McQueen were incredible to say the least and the way they displayed them set them in a new light. Now sadly you weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so you just have to take my word for it. The tickets were a bit on the pricey side though at 17£ but I really think it was worth paying for.

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Eating lunch by myself in Hyde Park wearing my ridiculously big hat.

Later that day I decided to have lunch and I had no idea where to go. I couldn’t imagine going to a restaurant by myself, order in food and then sit there alone at a table for two. It all felt so sad. What I did instead, and ended up doing my whole stay, was buying take out. Mostly from Wasabi, a Japanese fast food sushi chain, and bringing it with me to Hyde Park to enjoy.

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On my second time in the park I even got to have a date with Mr Squirrel here who I tried to feed with edamame beans.

I also did something I’d never thought I would dare to do, I hired a bike. Now I’m like a living traffic hazard back home and I have problems following the traffic rules in a city of less than 300 000 people, was hiring a bike in a city with almost the same population as my whole home country really a good idea?
Turns out biking in London wasn’t that scary. Except that I had to get used to being on the wrong side of the road and having to stop for red lights every second, it wasn’t that hard. Taxis and buses politely lets you through and there is a mutual respect for all the commuters.  Hiring a bike costs 2£ for 24 hours and they are stationed around every Underground station.

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Me and my bike having breakfast the last day in London.

On my third day in London I had the idea of visiting Oxford Street early in the morning before all shops open and all hell break loose with tourists overflowing the area. My first stop were budget heaven Primark which opens at eight and I then worked my way along to Pickadilly. This time around I skipped Harrods and Selfridges and focused on the more wallet friendly shops like Forever 21, River Island and New Look.

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Kensington Palace

One of the things I had dreaded travelling alone and staying in a dorm room was to go to bed. I had been to summer camp and overnight school trips before but back then you were younger and not as afraid of being robbed or having awkward encounters. But my fear was completely unnecessary and I ended up getting to know the girls who came and went during my stay and all of them were so nice and it was a lot fun to talk to them and hear about their plans and travels. Now I almost can’t imagine travelling in another way the next time I’m doing a solo trip and I would really recommend others to try it.

Other things I did during my stay was crossing the Millennium Bridge and seeing the Shakespeare Globe, visiting the Childhood Museum and saw their Alice in Wonderland exhibition, had Chipotle (yay they have it in the UK too!) with one of my roommates and walked around Kensington Palace and gardens. I wished I had booked a longer stay, the days went by way too fast.

This whole trip was amazing and I can’t wait to go travelling alone some more. Next time I’m thinking Berlin maybe?

My time in the Latvian capital

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Last year in November I had a week off work and was feeling a bit bored so I thought I’d start look around for cheap airplane tickets (this is a big hobby of mine) and ended up finding tickets to Riga, hotel included and all. They were so cheap it was almost free.
Now before this trip I had practically no knowledge of the city other than it was the capital of Latvia, but the hotel had an indoor pool and was just an hour and a half away by plane from Copenhagen. And knowing me, I just can’t back away from a good bargain, so I booked the trip and convinced my boyfriend to come with me.

That autumn was a season full of spontaneity for me, the fact that I died my hair turquoise blue a few weeks earlier can maybe give you the idea.

Now there weren’t a lot of tourists in Riga and the older generation of Latvians spoke little to no English. But we got by with nodding, pointing and smiling a lot.
The weather was cold, it was in the middle of November after all, but not freezing.

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Here you see my crazy blue hair.

The Art Nouveau District

One of the most interesting things about Riga is the art nouveau district. The buildings are beautiful with its overdecorated facades with statues of naked ladies, leaves and scary gargoyles. We visited the museum dedicated to art nouveau where you get to explore the apartment where the Latvian art nouveau architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns lived. The apartments insides still had the original kitchen, bathroom and furniture and it was quite interesting. Unfortunately taking pictures inside the museum cost extra and I was too frugal to pay.

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The hotel we stayed at was called Wellton Centrum Hotel & Spa and it was quite cosy. It did cost extra to use the pool but it was worth it. Ending a cold day with a swim and some sauna time sure was a treat.

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The coolest bar/café in Riga is called Black Magic and the interior is just amazing. It feels like walking into a shop in Diagon Alley or some other magical place. We didn’t try the chocolate but we bought three bottles of their balzam, Rigas national liquor, with us home. But don’t go there for the balzam if you’re not a fan of  strong spirits. The taste gets some time getting used to.

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The black magic bar and café.

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Warm alcoholic drinks were all the rage in Riga in wintertime and we caught on the trend and ordered in warm apple cider, warm cranberry drinks, Irish coffees and mulled wine everywhere we went.

We stayed in Riga for four days but we could have easily make due with just three, on the last day we mostly wondered around and didn’t really know what to do after check out. So I’d say if you’re interested visiting, plan a weekend trip. The city is great for a romantic getaway and to do some shopping since the prices are lower than in most other European cities but don’t expect it to be as cheap as visiting Poland for example.