sensory overload. part 11. (or, i love being a tour guide!)

there are a few main factors contributing to why i have a ton of photos this week. and, i have a ton!

to begin with, last week was g-o-r-g-eous (most of the week, anyway). that kind of beautiful time when you know without a doubt that you will not be stuck in narnia forever. and it is as if you can feel the earth breathing beneath your feet… waking up from its winter slumber. literally, there was something in the air last week – a lightness, a hint of life. and the trees and plants and flowers and grass, you can’t see anything happening, but you can feel it. and, oh how i felt it this past week. spring will arrive! and i celebrated that knowledge by snapping photos of all of the blue skies, mountains, trees, and happy people that i could.

now, speaking of people, as i’ve said in previous posts this past week, we had guests from germany with us for about 5 days – our first guests from across the ocean! and, when you’re playing tour guide and exploring the place where you live with good friends, you tend to take lots of photos. yep. i sure did that.

so, all that said, i have a lot to share with you today because i had tons of beautiful, jaw-dropping, deep breathing moments. and i give thanks for every single one of them.

sunday: the american beer & movie scene

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monday: biltmore estate, the river arts district, & live musicbiltmore estate DSC_0113 biltmore fountain biltmore entrance biltmore lion IMG_9972 biltmore vine

blue ridge mountains

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IMG_9990 DSC_0158 DSC_0164 DSC_0168 DSC_0169 DSC_0152 the wedge peanuts and beer europeans in asheville DSC_0182 live music

tuesday: waterfalls, mountains, & coffeebreakfast on the balcony looking glass falls highway 276 looking glass falls pisgah national forest DSC_0229 road closed IMG_0051 blue ridge parkway panacea spring sky creek

IMG_0131asheville pizza company

wednesday: yep. snow. and a fika meet up!

926113_291253111025451_1571793143_nallgood coffee meet up

thursday & friday: cozy days of working at homeworking from home

saturday: friends & fun

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sunday: brother-sister day

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how was your week? was there anything that out of the ordinary that happened? or was it a fairly normal week? what were the moments that touched your soul – big or little?

peace & love to you all. xx

a little new year’s wrap-up.

i had so much fun on new year’s eve that i just can’t stop looking at all of the photos we took (me, lina, charlie, & lanie). it was a crazy, fun celebration – exactly how i thought it would be…

my love and i hit the road early tuesday morning, destination: atlanta, georgia. we headed straight for a few swedish stores (h&m and ikea) to stock up on a few items we were missing. then, we made our way through the city and over to the east side neighborhood known as little five points. asheville people, think west asheville. other people, think asheville. it’s a hippie, funky, vintage, retro, alternative kinda place, which has been around for a while. it’s dotted with thrift stores, hipster clothing stores, coffee shops, and pubs mostly = heaven for me & lina. we met lanie at rag-o-rama, a to die for thrift store that is tres popular. after a little thrifting, we went into a record store that had so many albums i was completely overwhelmed. wow. and, of course, we had to stop in a pub that lanie recommended, the porter, for a beer before heading to lanie and charlie’s house.

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lanie and charlie are a lesbian couple that we became quick friends with when we met. well, lanie and i have been blogging buddies for a while actually. but, we only met face to face for the first time this past september, when lanie and charlie came to the asheville area for some camping. we hit it off greatly, and have been keeping in touch via Facebook and blogs, constantly talking about getting together again. actually, they will be having a commitment/wedding ceremony in october and have asked me to officiate (which i can do, since it will not be a legal marriage. so, yay! and boo, if you get my drift). anyway, lina and i decided to contact them just before christmas and see if they had any NYE plans, which they didn’t. so they graciously allowed us to come & stay with them, and they took on the roll of finding something cool for us to do.


once we arrived at their home, we took no time dilly-dallying around, but got right to getting ready for our big NYE…. lina and i getting all girlied-up and lanie & charlie sliding into their jeans and shirts and chains and leather jackets. yes, we are the femme (girly girls) and they are the more butchy type (hopefully i am not offending them, i don’t know if they call themselves that). but, it doesn’t matter – we get along so very well! oh, gosh, they are so much fun!

we headed out to a favorite pub of theirs for beer and dinner – and met up with another couple as well. i had a cold beer and fish & chips, so i was totally satisfied. we laughed and joked and just enjoyed the coziness of our booth in the brick store – if you’re in decatur, georgia ever, go there!

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after dinner, we took the train/subway to midtown (downtown) atlanta to head to the main event of the evening. a party called “swank” in a hip, cool, modern bar/lounge/restaurant called 10th & piedmont. it was advertised as a women’s party, but men were invited and welcome too. but that whole “women” thing meant that there were a lot of lesbian couples there i assumed…. and there were. now, lina and i don’t hang out at lesbian/gay places like ever. not that we have anything against it at all. we just mix in with people. and go wherever we feel like going. lgbt focused, or not.  but, this night was going to be a lot about lesbians and women… and it was so much fun. it wasn’t super crazy or wild, as it was an older crowd – like late 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, i guess. so, it was adults, not kids. dancing, drinking, laughing. which is exactly what we did – until way into the new year. i pretty much celebrated it up. they even served us party favors and glasses of champagne at midnight, and then we all counted down. after about 5 minutes of hugging and kissing, it was back to boogie-ing and laughing and keeping the partying going.

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finally about 2 am we dragged our selves out of there, onto the train, and back to the house for some sleep. up and at ‘em new years day meant sitting in our pi’s, drinking coffee, and eating quiche together, reliving the night. of course, i remembered everything because i was not drunk at all during the evening. i didn’t need to  be, i had so much fun just soaking up every little moment. plus i had to drive home on new year’s day.

which i did… lina and i headed home later on in the day and then vegged out before going to bed and passing out until yesterday – when we vegged out again (except lina took down a bunch of christmas stuff). suddenly, last night, as we were watching netflix, i looked outside and saw that there was snow everywhere. we had no idea! so we went outside, took some photos, and reveled in the coziness of beginning our new year with so much fun, excitement, love, and warmth – literally & figuratively. DSC_0117 DSC_0120 DSC_0114

i hope that you have had a great start to your new year, dear friends!

peace & love. xx

travel confessions from a pilgrim.

the other day (ok. the other week.) laura over at german-american abroad, surprised me & tagged me to do a post revealing my most secret travel confessions. i’m sure she thinks that i’ve completely forgotten about this little challenge. but i haven’t! i’d never forget something that encouraged me to talk about one of my favorite things in life. thanks, laura, for choosing me! so, here come my deepest, darkest, inner thoughts about the joy of travel.

oh yeah. first the rules, of course.

  • Post a photo (or photos) and description(s) of your confession(s) in a new post.
  • Tweet your post with hashtag #TravelConfession and follow/tweet @Traveling9to5
  • Tag 3-5 other travelers you’d love to see confess and tag them on Twitter.

1. go local.

our friends’ home in dublin.

the best kind of travel is the kind that allows you to stay for free. agreed? whenever i meet people, i actually think to myself, “if we become friends perhaps i can travel to his/her country/city and stay with him/her for free while i explore a new place. is it wrong that i think like that? i loooove visiting friends, and i love having friends come & visit me. too bad i’ve lived in sweden for almost 2 & a half years and only 1 person has taken advantage of the free lodging i have to offer to anyone wanting to visit sweden. perhaps i should try couch-surfing… so i can travel and so i can offer my home to others. have you done couch-surfing? how was your experience? right now, my love & i are in the process of planning a trip to peking, hong kong, & macau. why there? because it’s freaking cool & (here it comes) because we have a friend living there for a year. see how that works out?!

2. pubs are the shit.

i prefer to find out what a city/country is really like. i like to hang with the locals. that means avoiding big shopping areas (though i do frequent those too. a healthy balance of travel experiences is a good thing, right?), and focusing on pubs, little hole-in-the-wall cafes, boutiques, and bars. then i can try local beer, see local styles, get a feel for local ideas/beliefs, and hopefully hear a little local music. it could be a little scanky or scary, but totally worth the stories i get to tell later.

3. speaking of scary…

the wrong side of the tracks in memphis tennessee.

i will always, always, always end up in the most unsafe area of a city/place. it’s like i have some sort of radar or something. i don’t mean to end up in these places. it just happens. and, yes, i am usually frightened for my life for at least one brief second. my wife, of course, has just accepted that these “little adventures” are part of traveling with me.

4. on the road again.

somewhere out west where the road never ends.

my favorite mode of transportation is by car. i freaking love to drive. capital l.o.v.e. the open road, snacks in the car, music blasting, singing along, tapping the steering wheel, left leg up, windows down, sunglasses on, and no real idea where i’m gonna end up. that’s the perfect road trip.

5. it could take more hours than it should.

this is a genetic defect i’ve inherited from my dad. at any given moment, i could see something – like a barn, or an animal, or a pretty tree, or something weird or amazing, and stop the car. yep. i will pull over in order to get THE picture.  if you travel with me, you WILL have to wait for me at some point. just sayin’.

6. i’m all about inclusive.

i could get used to this. a pool & the mediterranean sea. all day. every day.

i admit it. after traveling to rhodes, greece, last year for a week at an inclusive resort, i fell in love. to be honest, i was very skeptical. i usually travel in order to experience  a culture: people, food, anything different from the life that i know. that’s the point of travel for me… to expand my horizons and touch my soul. staying at an inclusive resort, laying by a pool, being served by scandinavian people (not greeks!) in greece all seemed wrong to me. but, i loved it. i’m ashamed to say it, but i loved the luxury. the doing nothingness that everyday consisted of… well, we did see rhodes old town one day & toured an acropolis another day, so we got a little culture. bottom line: i want to go on one of these kind of resort, all-inclusive trips for one week out of every year. one word: heaven.

7. location. location. location.

camping on the hottest night in the summer of 2010. oklahoma, usa.

found a great hotel right in the middle of times square. crazy.

out in the wild or smack in the middle of everything. i’m a little bipolar when it comes to travel. i love to be in the middle of the woods, camping & roughing it. i have never camped in anything but a tent. no rv’s or campers for me (as of yet). on the other hand, i love to be right smack in the middle of manhattan, or any other big, global city. i’d rather pay nothing & sleep in the woods, or pay extra & stay right in the middle of everything. see what i mean? i’m all over the place.

8. nerd alert.

the temple of isis on delos (greece).

i love history. thanks, mom & dad. i love to find out the why’s, who’s, and what’s of an area. museums are great, filled with history & art. a perfect combo. and historical ruins and other places. does it get any better than that? i’m a sucker for anything that sheds a little light on what it means to be part of the human race, how we got where we are, how the past has influenced us today, and any stories & experiences of people who have made a difference. history inspires me & gives me this feeling of connection to all people, through all times.

9. light a candle.

i want to travel the world. i want to see everything. i want to experience everything. i want to meet all different kinds of people. but, there is one thing that i, as a student of theology and a lover of spirituality, am really drawn to… holy places. churches, mosques, synagogues, cathedrals, memorials, secular places, pilgrimage places, abbeys, monasteries, convents, outdoor places – including all of nature. the holiest places on earth are both human-made buildings and naturally created places on earth. when i travel, i have to go there. everywhere. anywhere. i must light a candle in a cathedral, or dip my toes into the ocean, or stand in awe of a forest. these places all ground me. i feel something there. something powerful. something beyond me & yet a part of me at the same time. these are the most important places to visit. most of the time i have no idea they are holy places until i stand there & breathe in everything around me. and then, i just know. i just feel it.

traveling is like breathing. i need it to survive. i am not ashamed of my wanderlust. i embrace it, and as soon as i return from one trip, be it across the world, or just to the next city, i begin preparing for my next adventure. i believe that travel has a direct connection to peace. when we travel & experience something new, when we are willing to get out of comfort zones & meet new people, see new places, taste new foods, cross boarders, and explore new cultures, we open ourselves up. we add new memories and make room in our lives, our hearts, and our minds for new thoughts, new opinions, and new friendships. to travel is to educate. and to educate is to promote acceptance, respect, and peace.

so, my dear friends, get out there and travel! do something new. go somewhere new. be bold. set sail. wander around. soak it all in. and live life!

now, my love at, ashley paige at for the love of wanderlust, and dace at the long way home… go! give us all your travel confessions. i’m dying to know!

thanks for the little challenge & tag, laura! it’s been fun!

peace in all your travels.

time to get cultured.

here i am sitting on my sofa, sipping on a glass of wine, with about five blog posts swirling around in my head. so much to write, so little time. isn’t weird how you feel like you’re either gonna explode from ideas and things that you can’t wait to write about, or you’re gonna curl up into a little ball in a corner somewhere because you can’t think of anything at all to write about? oh, come on. it’s like that for you, right? i can’t be the only one. pleeeeease don’t let me be the only one…

well, i’m only gonna put out one post tonight, but tomorrow is my day off! happy dance. so, i’m gonna work on stuff all freaking day long. drinnk coffee. stay in my pj’s. of course, as luck would have it, i’ll probably be in that curled up in a corner mood when i wake up. just kidding. i have some goals, so i’ve gotta get some stuff done. or at least begin it.

but, tonight, i’m gonna share some pics from my weekend. i worked friday night (a blog post in itself. it totally deserves it.). awesome. incredible. and the rest of the weekend has been pretty amazing as well. saturday was “culture night” in my city (kulturnatten), a day/night that i love! there is live music, free concerts, good food, lots of little plays, poetry slams, eclectic art, and local shops stay open, welcoming you in with candles, snacks, and more music. it’s an artist lovers dream night. if you wanna know more about it you can read here. it’s like a funky, artsy, eclectic vibe pulses through the city and the streets are crawling with people.

enough chit chat. take a look!

saturday (culture night)

first stop… a little second-hand, vintage boutique. loved it.

bought a bag. THE bag. exactly what i’ve been looking for, for a year. and i found it about 5 blocks from my apartment. hehe. but, i’m totally in love. oh, and the necklace is new too! a birthday gift from some native english speaking friends.

vintage. boho. love-o.

on to an antique bookstore. freaking cool.

and then, a funky record shop. see the pattern? yes, i like old things. all things retro & vintage.

next up: a concert in the church where i work… swedish, russian, & gospel. sweet. (and my love was singing too!)

then, time for a pub or something with my love & a fellow american. on the way, we heard music. so, what did we do… we danced, of course. crazy, carefree americans. and proud of it. uh huh.




this here is what is known as a cinema (with a funky misspelling on purpose)… a place where only indie films & documentaries are shown = we love it.

we watched a documentary on olaf palme, sweden’s prime minister, who was assassinated in 1986. it was awesome. and i’ve found a new hero to add to my list.

on our way out… headed home for the evening.

all-righty, my dear friends & family. i suppose that’s all for this day. it’s late & time for bed. can you believe that tomorrow is october?! time is flying by. i blinked & september has just become a memory. i racked up tons of good memories this september, though. looking forward to october and fall settling in big time. i hope y’all have had a great weekend. if you feel like it, leave me a comment & let me know what you did!

sleep tight, my lovelies. peace.

time to fly.

oh yeah. in the morning we’re hopping a plane to… ireland!

newark international airport. january 2012.

i have three favorite things that i love to do. in a perfect world, i get to do all three at the same time.

  1. write
  2. take pictures
  3. travel

of course there are many more things i love to do… watch movies, visit pubs, ride on a boat, dance, practice yoga, read, etc. but, the things in my life that i cannot live without are the three i listed. they give me purpose, make my life meaningful. of course, i have not mentioned my love,  my family, & my friends. that goes without saying. nothing in the whole world is more important than them. the people in my life are a whole other level.

anyway, this weekend, i get to travel – which also means that i will be partaking in a little photography & writing as well. my love and i are headed to ireland for a long weekend to celebrate the wedding of two amazing friends! we’ll be in dublin for some days on our own, and also at a mansion/plantation-type-place in the irish countryside for the wedding. helloooooo. does it get any better?! we’ve been to dublin before – last fall, actually, to visit the friends who are getting married. a swiss chick & and irish dude. love having international friends. we fell head over heels in love with dublin, and can’t wait to get back to do some shopping, visit some pubs, listen to irish music, and enjoy the jovial, friendly nature of the irish people. then, it’s off to the countryside for a weekend of wedding celebrations. you know i’ll take pics of everything. hehe. if i get a chance, i’ll give you a sneak peek while i’m there, otherwise you’ll have to wait until next week… unless you decide to follow me on instagram (@lizlens) because i’ll be posting pics there throughout the weekend. just sayin’.

and just so you know, i am aware of how blessed and lucky i am to be able to travel to different places. i do not take it for granted. not ever. travel has always been something very important to my & my love… it helps us breathe, it allows us to stretch our minds & encounter different cultures, traditions, thoughts. it teaches peace, it brings people together, it transforms the traveler & the world. to travel is to live. it is to experience life and to live life to the fullest. traveling, for us, is freedom.

well, this post is almost done, i’m all packed, and now ready to get some sleep, so i’m gonna leave y’all here.  don’t forget to check back during the weekend, even if i’m not home… the two chicks & some beer project kicks off tomorrow when we land in dublin! we’ll have some beer tips coming.

here’s to wishing you a fabulous weekend, wherever you are, whatever you doing. and happy labor day to all you americans out there!

it’s time to fly! peace & love.

the city on the west coast: gothenburg.

if you know me, or have visited my blog before, then you know that i love to travel. i crave it. i yearn for it. and i am always longing for my next trip to some place different. exploring other cultures, seeing new things (or old things from new perspectives), living life, and soaking in the moments… that’s what inspires me touches my soul.

this past weekend my love and i had a chance to get out of town & visit the city where we first met each other. it was so nice to have three days completely off from work. together. we stayed with a friend and visited/met up with other friends also throughout the weekend. gothenburg did not disappoint… the weather was gorgeous & there were plenty of moments to soak up life. and we did just that. 

the train station in gothenburg on a sunny, chilly friday morning.


first stop. starbucks! let me explain the excitment… you see in sweden there are only 2. one in the airport near stockholm (which we still have not found) and this new one in the train station in gothenburg. so, upon arriving, this was on the top of our list.

i am a happy girl with my white chocolate mocha.

 beautiful weather…

in a beautiful city.

my love soaking up some moments & some sun.

we did a little shopping. yep.

sunshine & love.

an amazing thai restaurant. book your table early, it’s popluar! the atmosphere was unbelievable and the food was super good too. it was a great friday evening shared among friends.

haga: an old suburb of gothenburg, which is now not a suburb but part of central downtown. th ebuildings are old, the cafes are cozy, the boutiques are unique. we spent our saturday afternoon wandering the streets. lovely. just lovely.

haga: i know it doesn’t look real. but this was the scene i was standing in the middle of. this couple, dressed in full costume, walked up & down the street playing their little calliope music for everyone. a traveling street show.

then, a street jazz band. they were awesome.

the lady in the upstairs apartment thought so too. how cool that she lives right there & just hung her head out the window to take in the sights & sounds on the street below.

 time for fika at cafe husaren.

blueberry pie & chai latte for me, thank you.

 after dinner saturday night, some of our friends craved mcflurry’s. so, off to mcdonald’s. we wondered if it was closed. weird – since it was only 9:15. but, then remembered we were in the middle of earth hour. mcdonald’s had turned off their lights (most of them). cool.

so, we walked up to the end of one of the main streets so see how gothenburg looked in the dark. not all the lights were out, but it was pretty dark. we could see plenty of stars. we waited there for 10 minutes, so we could see the lights come back on. it was a little like waiting for fireworks to begin. hehe.

lights back on!

 sunday morning tram ride into downtown.

 headed to church to meet up with some friends.

 and finally, the train ride home sunday afternoon.

what a fantastic, beautiful weekend it was! now, it’s monday morning. the month of april has begun, and it’s holy week/stilla vecka – the week leading up to easter. i must say, i am feeling some april stress. there’s a lot going on. a lot of big stuff. but, the challenges will be good. it was amazing to have a weekend off and share the joys of traveling with my love. and i’m already longing for the next getaway adventure. paris, anyone?

peace, love, & sunshine on your monday. wherever you are.