the art of traveling spontaneously

the older i get, the less i want to plan.

i think that feeling comes from the understanding that aging gives you that life almost never turns out as one plans it. there are unknown paths, unplanned paths, frightening paths, and soul-touching paths all along the road of life.

yes, it’s good to have an idea, a goal, and a dream. but, it is also very important to heed the lesson of the road: the unexpected is a huge part of the journey. and the journey is the whole point (not the destination).

learning to go with the flow, to be flexible, to simply align one’s life with the cycle of energy and movement of the journey of life is a gift. one that aids in teaching us to  slow down, to trust, and to embrace the present moment.

with all of that said, learning to follow the way of life, learning to go with the flow, to relax, and to live in the present moment, accepting things as they come and staying grounded + rooted in the depths of who we authentically are, allows us to live a spontaneous life. a life that becomes full of adventure (even without going on great adventures) and deep meaning. a spontaneous life helps us to stay alert, open, and energized, helping us live life on a higher plane, and in a deeper way, than simply existing. and, seriously, who wants to merely exist?

spontaneity soaks the best out of every single moment. it inspires us to get out of our little boring boxes and try new things. it gives us experiences that we’d never imagine we could or would have.

the older i get, the more spontaneous i become. and the more i reject rigid, planned ways of living. and that goes for my traveling as well.

my love and i woke up last friday morning knowing that we wanted to have an adventure. the sun was shining and it was warm. it was a glorious summer day in sweden. as we had done the day before, we knew that we’d like to take a little trip somewhere close to uppsala. a day trip, we thought.

so, we began brainstorming. discussing. and trying to decide. in the end, we said, “let’s go to stockholm again! and stay for the weekend!”.

so, even though this would be our third little trip to stockholm in 2 weeks, i hopped online and looked for an available airbnb for friday night until sunday. yep. last minute to the max. i found a funky apartment in södermalm (our favorite neighborhood) and sent a request to book. then we waited. and waited. and waited. no response from the host.

we packed our bags, hopped the train, and headed off to stockholm for the weekend anyway. without any place to stay. no worries. it would all work out.

soder-me-and-my-love soder-summer soder-beach soder-waterfront-feet

of course, by 2pm, as we sat by the water in södermalm, just enjoying the view and the weather, we still didn’t have anywhere to stay. and we were both totally calm about it. i finally cancelled the previous request and sent out another. this time i got a response back pretty quickly. “sorry, i am out of town and don’t think i can work it out.”

at this point we still did not panic, but we decided to begin thinking about other options. just about 5 minutes later, i got another response from the host who said that she’d spoken too soon. that, if we could meet her in the evening, she could accommodate us. perfect! airbnb booked!

getting hungry, we strolled around for a while, ate some lunch, ducked into some funky vintage shops, drank some coffee, wandered streets we’d never seen before, spied around peoples’ homes… sneaking peeks at their backyard gardens, and set a date with two friends for later that evening. all the while, taking it minute by minute, the only thing planned was meeting our host at 7pm and then drinks at 7:15.


we made our way to our södermalm neighborhood, hornstull, and walked around a bit before meeting our host. turns out, hornstull was known as the sketchy part of söder just a while back. if, söder is greenwich village, then hornstull is alphabet city/the lower east side. of course gentrification had already found its way to hornstull a few years back, so its edginess wasn’t quite so edgy. still, it did feel a bit different than other parts of södermalm. which was exactly what we wanted: to discover new little gems + uncover quirky places.

we quickly got a tour of our airbnb apartment, got the keys, and then said goodbye to our host. she had done a fabulous job preparing the place for us at the last minute, and we were ever so grateful.

here’s a little peek at her vintage, funky apartment… with a balcony! (that was our goal with this airbnb visit).

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as i mentioned before, we had a date with two friends for drinks, so we quickly sprayed a little perfume – we’d been walking for hours. and headed out the door for a few beers just around the corner. then we walked a bit more, getting the feel of the area and, looking up at the sky, realized that we needed to walk out on a nearby bridge to catch a view of the gorgeous sunset.

soder-harbor-sunset soder-sunset

saturday morning came and we both were practically giggly due to the fact that we had slept with the doors to the balcony open! what a luxury! we laid in bed for a while, discussing our day. making no plans whatsoever except to go get breakfast. it’s like we were completely drawn into the spontaneous, living in the moment world. what a gift it was.

soder-airbnb-bedroom soder-breakfast

the rest of the day we literally took it as it came. we made decisions to turn on this street or stop in that café as we felt the urge to. there was no agenda. no time frame. it was pure vacation mode all the way. and we remarked how blessed we were.

soder-street soder-lina-fika soder-second-hand-building soder-sticker-street

after wandering the streets and we decided that we did have one mission: to find some shoes that we were both dying to have (different shoes, mind you. we don’t match our shoes! hehe!). no luck in the shoe hunt, but we did manage to cover pretty much all of södermalm. like for realz.

on our way back towards the hornstull area, where we were staying, i decided to take us on the outskirts of the west side of the island, by the water. we walked and walked and walked. so much so, that it seemed that our legs were just on autopilot after a while. yes, our feet were so tired.

but, the views were so totally worth it. and to discover that there were food trucks all along the way… priceless. and serious asheville vibes too!

soder-harbor soder-food-truck soder-water-good-truck soder-food-trucks

tired and hungry, yet completely relaxed and satisfied, we made our way to a place to eat beside the water… brooklyn bar. we were 2 of the first 4 people there. but, soon after we arrived, people started filling the colorful, outdoor booths on the waterfront. we ate burgers + drank beer + acted silly.

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lina me beer

dreading the short walk back to our apartment because of our tired little legs and feet, we wound our way through a couple of blocks and found this fantastic little cut through bridge that got us back to the apartment faster. plus, it was more scenic. and i saw tons of places to explore the next time i visit this area.


back at the airbnb apartment, we had some beer chilled in the fridge, popped open the bottle and plopped down on the balcony. we sat there from about 7:30 through sunset and until the stars came out. we listened to music, mostly the soundtrack to the musical rent. and chatted with each other. pure simplicity with my love.

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sunday morning after we tidied the apartment and left the keys, we made our way back to mariatorget (where our previous airbnb experience was). we headed to blooms, a cozy little cafe with fun outdoor benches for people watching + breakfast eating.


all full of fresh-baked bread and coffee, we hit the streets again. this time with the mission to complete our shoe hunt, which ended up taking us all over stockholm, only to find ourselves back where we started earlier in the weekend. oh well. no worries. we just went with the flow, you know?


satisfied with our shoe purchases (yay!), it was time for a beer at our favorite little microbrewery, omnipollos hatt. we drank some local beer, perikles (a rustic pilsner) + leon (a belgian style pale ale with champagne) and then decided that, since the sun was shining + we were hungry, we’d order 2 more and a pizza. yep.

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soder-monks soder-me-omnipollo
finally we decided to return home and to our little zola the cat. so, we made the 40 minutes train ride and were home in time to do some netflixing and snuggling with the kitty cat. and, of course, to document yet one more beautiful uppsala summer sunset.

sunset uppsala summer

you know, i’ve always had a spontaneous soul thanks to my parents giving us so many opportunities to spontaneously have a bbq, travel somewhere, or rearrange the furniture in our entire home. but, i do believe that my spontaneous soul grew even more after this amazing, beautiful, fun weekend with my love. it really just doesn’t get much better, friends.

and, when you’re spontaneous, you never know  just how good it might be!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty one (part 3) // airbnb loft living in funky södermalm

airbnb-entrance-hallit’s no secret that i love to travel. and, for the most part, when i travel i want to have the most authentic experience as possible.

in order to make that possible, i visit friends and get tips from locals whenever i can. however, there is another way to get that real experience when hoping to explore + discover the secrets and soul of a place.


i have now used airbnb twice when i’ve traveled. my love and i spent a week in new york city in an alphabet city, lower east side airbnb apartment – and it was amazing. for four days and four nights we felt like “real new yorkers”. of course, i know that we were only scratching the surface, or not even scratching it, i suppose. still, staying alone in an five story walk-up, having a place to call our own, with keys, a rooftop terrace and even a local, corner grocery store and bar made the experience so genuine + authentic, relaxing + exciting. we just blended right into the city, made our own little mark, and felt right at home.

since that experience had been such a success, and since i’d had about 5 months of experience on the hosting side of airbnb last fall when i helped my brother set up his own airbnb apartment, we decided that we’d try to find something in stockholm for our pride weekend celebration a few days ago.

now, stockholm isn’t but a 40 minute train ride from where we live, we visit the city quite often, and we have a fair number of friends/family who also live there. but, we thought it’d be nice to just have some time all to ourselves. so, i got to searching.

when i saw the heading “bright loft in mariatorget”, i was sold. without even seeing the photos. i ended up booking the apartment since it was located right in the middle of södermalm, or söder, the funky, hippie, artsy greenwich village of stockholm. the perfect location for us. and this place just happened to be right on mariatorget, maria square, a park filled with trees, a fountain, and grassy spots. there were cafes, pubs, restaurants, quirky shops, and beautiful buildings all around. pretty much all of our wishes boxes were ticked.

so, we packed our bags, hopped the train, and met our host at 11am last saturday outside the old wooden doors to the building. turns out, the host is from the states and his boyfriend is swedish. a bi-national gay couple. sounds familiar? hehe.

we walked into the majestic building, and entered the old-fashioned, wrought iron elevator to go to the second floor. i could not wait to see the apartment in real life.


we stepped in through the double doors and entered a light-filled, airy, mind blowing loft apartment. it was as if my brain could not process fast enough all that my eyes were seeing. the space, the air, the gigantic windows (!), the colors: grays, white, naturals, pops of gold. the minimalist, industrial details.

it was indeed perfect.

we went through all of the practical things, got a little tour, got the keys + the code for the door, and then chatted a bit. the swedish boyfriend came blowing in soon after us, toting with him new sheets that he bought for us to use. he disappeared up the ladder to the loft, made the bed for us, and before we knew it they both were off + we are on our own. standing there with our jaws on the floor.

friends, this is what is amazing about airbnb:

you get to stay in places you’ d never, ever stay in (or even see) otherwise. plus you have the privilege of meeting people, perhaps even connecting with them, as we did with our boy hosts. 

so, now lina and i were on our own. this bright, beautiful, industrial loft apartment was ours for two days and two nights!

but, enough chit chat. here is the tour that i’ve been promising you. get ready. you will lose your mind. oh, and by the way, this was CHEAPER than staying in a hotel. for real.

airbnb-kitchen airbnb-loft airbnb-details-wall airbnb-stairs airbnb-loft-bookcase airbnb-details-fan airbnb-loft-living-room airbnb-loft-morning-view airbnb-loft-plant airbnb-stairs-down airbnb-loft-looking-down airbnb-floor windows airbnb-living-room airbnb-windowsill-coffee airbnb-dining-room-living-room airbnb-morning-coffee-windowsillhave you used airbnb before when traveling? how was your experience? and, if you haven’t, have i now convinced you? i truly, deeply, highly recommend it. you will find yourself staying in incredible places, cheaper than in hotels (which was also true in NYC, by the way), meet interesting people, and get tons of local tips, such as the best drink to order at the tiny bar two blocks away or the yummiest spring rolls deep in the heart of chinatown. all the while, feeling like you are a real local during the time that you are living your little alternate life.

too bad the guys are moving to LA on thursday!! guess we won’t get to visit this apartment again – but we have been invited to visit them in LA! and, the memories of our slow mornings sitting in the window sills sipping coffee, or bounding out of the apartment building and right in the middle of the funky söder street vibes, or grabbing snacks at the local 7-11 late at night + enjoying a walk down cobblestone streets after sunset, will stay with us forever.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty one (part 2) // celebrating pride weekend in stockholm


on saturday morning, just a mere 24 hours after my brother left to go back to the states, lina and i headed back to stockholm for the big stockholm pride celebration.

the actual pride festival had been going on all week long throughout the city, and we were pumped to get to be part of the closing celebrations: the big pride parade!

stockholm’s pride parade is always the biggest in scandinavia/northern europe, and from what i could tell, that is most definitely true. helloooo people! what was amazing was to see how many couples of all kinds, families, elderly, gay, international, and straight people all took part. this is not just a day for the lgbtq community to get together, but a day that the general swedish public makes its way to the center of stockholm to celebrate the right to simply be who you are. it basically took my breath away.

speaking of rights, lina and i decided to go all in with this parade, having never even been to the stockholm parade before. and we decided that we’d kill two birds with one stone by walking  with an eating disorder organization that seeks to work for a community where everyone is free to be themselves, just as they are. (that’s their slogan!). so, to be able to support this eating disorder organization and lgbtq rights at the same time ws a double powerful bonus for us.

here’s how the day went.

we met up at noon with our group and found our place in the parade line. the sun was shining, it was super warm (the first time in about three weeks), and everyone was pumped. love was spilling out all over the streets. the energy itself would get you high.

we waited + waited for our turn to finally start walking, all 20 of us who were marching together. in the meantime, we snapped pictures, ate snacks, people-watched, and got more + more excited.

by the way, we waited so long because there were 45,000 people marching in the parade! what?! amazing! (and just a measly 400,000 ish lining the streets).

stockholm-pride-parade-waiting stockholm-pride-parade-me-lina-friends

finally it was time to start walking through the streets of stockholm, starting at mariatorget in södermalm and ending at östermalm’s sport park. it would be a long, slow walk that took about 2 and a half hours. but, the time flew by!

all along the way people cheered, clapped, yelled, laughed, and lined the streets and bridges. many people hung out of their apartment windows, or decorated their balconies with rainbow flags. it was seriously breathtaking and stockholm-pride-parade-me-lina-walking stockholm-pride-parade-window-lookers stockholm-pride-parade-hornsgatan

it was at this point, near the beginning of the parade that i was overcome with emotion. so many people. so much love. so much support. eeeeeee!
stockholm-pride-parade-sodermalm stockholm-pride-parade-me-lina-excited stockholm-pride-parade-slussen stockholm-pride-parade-walk lina-me-stockholm-pride-parade stockholm-pride-parade-bridge frist-och-fri-stockholm-pride-parade photo from frisk & fri.

after the celebratory parade came to an end, our feet were aching, our stomachs were growling, but we were so satisfied + happy. we met some friends/family at a restaurant to refuel, swung by our killer airbnb apartment, then headed out for drinks in the late swedish sunshine.

stockholm-pride-parade-friends-family-apartment stockholm-pride-parade-mosebacke stockholm-pride-parade-mosebacke-sunset stockholm-pride-parade-mosebacke-sunshine stockholm-pride-parade-slussen-sodermalm stockholm-sunset-stockholm-pride-paradeall in all, it was a day + and experience that i will never forget. a day that i was proud to call sweden my home. and a day that most definitely exceeded my expectations. what a celebration of love + acceptance + the basic human right to simply be who you are!

my wish is that all people, everywhere, one day have the opportunity to feel so welcomed, so loved, so accepted. that different is beautiful. and that we are all created to be exactly who we are. we’ve got work to do, my friends, to make that dream come true!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty one (part 1) // north carolina meets sweden

alright. i’m blessed beyond belief.

and because i am so grateful for so many different things this week, i am gonna need about 3 different posts to share with you my week 31. just to whet your appetite a little (and in case you haven’t had me bombing your instagram feed) here’s a little of what these posts are going to cover: my brother visiting sweden. stockholm’s pride parade. an airbnb vacation weekend with my love in the funky part of stockholm.

part one is dedicated all to my brother – and the insane joy that it was to have him visit us. i was a complete disaster after he left last friday (you may have seen this post as a result of that melancholy). but, before all of the sadness + missing his presence, we had some great times. nothing fancy, just sharing a bit of my life + sweden with him.

and it meant more than i can ever express.

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drottningholm palace :: the home of sweden’s king + queen
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cathedral-uppsala friends-brother-beer-uppsala uppsala-brothers-and-sisters-my-love gamla-uppsala gamla-uppsala-mound gamla-uppsala-brother-nick gamla-uppsala-mounds-path gamla-uppsala-mounds gamla-uppsala-fence gamla-uppsala-flowers fika-cafe-linne-uppsala uppsala-pub goodbye-uppsala--brother-lina-mein the midst of all of the challenges + changes + tough times + beauty of our lives, all of that stuff that makes up life, it was good to just be together. to just have some time. and, in the end, that’s all that really matters. that’s what we hold on to. and, any chance that we get to feel blessed + at peace + loved, well, then we have been given a most wonderful gift. how incredibly amazing it was to have my brother here!

onwards + upwards!



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| week twenty one |

i miss doing a weekly photo update. sharing the random little snippets of my life that i capture on my phone. so, i think i’m going to begin that again. then, the rest of the week i can focus on other kinds of posts: beer, travel, tips, spirituality… those things that are the passions of my life.

but, one of the things that i am most passionate about is learning to live in the present moment, or living a mindful life. all of my other passions, come from my desire for peace, to live an authentic life, in the moment, grateful for all that i have and all that i am.

but some of my passions lend themselves to sounds like amazing, crazy adventures. and, sure,  i love amazing, crazy adventures as much as the next person, but the heart of life is found in our every day moments.

so i don’t want to highlight only all of the unusual, special, amazing moments and adventures that i have on this blog. no, i want to share my love for the everyday as well.

when we learn to live every single ordinary day as something extraordinary, knowing that the adventures are found in those mundane, ordinary moments, then we begin to live a life full of gratitude. and we find that we want for nothing, that we already have so much. that life is beautiful, even in the midst of the struggles and chaos and stress. when we tune into those moments that make us smile, if even for a second, then our whole attitude changes. and life becomes one big adventure. every single second of it. a sense of peace falls over us and we stand grounded, like a tree, rooted to the earth, letting the winds and storms and rain blow by. soaking up the sun when it shines.

so, this weekly photo journal is my way of sharing with you those regular moments that have passed by in my life. hopefully you will get a little peek into my expat life in sweden, or find inspiration, or simply enjoy the photos. but, more than a photo journal for you, this is for me. to remind me that my life is amazing. to give thanks for every little thing. not to ignore the not so great things, but to claim the beauty that is life, even in the midst of all of the suffering and confusion and stress and uncertainty.

besides, i/we have but this one life to live. so, why not live it to the absolute fullest, enjoying it?!


my love’s birthday was this past week
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i cycled outside of uppsala + discovered some beautiful placesbiking-sweden- biking-sweden-country

we spent the weekend in stockholm: shopping for my brother-in-law’s wedding, drinking local beer, celebrating europe’s eurovision song contest victory (sweden won!) with some friends, and enjoying the super spring weatherstarbucks-stockholm-shopping shopping-street-stockholm omnipollo-soder-stockholm-microbrewery microbrewery-taps-beer-omnipollo omnipollo-beer me-beer-sodermalm-stockholm omnipollo-taps-sodermalm tacos-friends sweden-eurovision lina-me-melodifestivalen-eurovision late-night-stockholm-sky sodermalm-stockholm- stockholm-spring old-town-stockholm-alley lina-me-ice-cream-stockholm stockholm train-home-uppsala-sweden

happy monday, dear friends + family! wishing you a week filled with exactly what you need.

onwards + upwards! xoxo


spend a saturday in söder: the greenwich village of stockholm

i am not sure that anyone anywhere calls the southern neighborhood/area in the beautiful capital of sweden, known as simply söder (meaning south in english), the “greenwich village of stockholm”. but, i am dubbing it just that. personally, i think it is the perfect description. not that it is exactly like the nyc neighborhood famous for its arts, bohemian vibe, but it comes close. and if you want a short, easy understanding of söder, then greenwich village/east village is it.

i’ve been intrigued by the area for a while now, and my love has always loved it. but, we never seem to spend any significant amount of time there. so, we decided to make a day of it this past saturday. a train to stockholm. straight on the subway to söder (officially called södermalm). and then a whole day to explore and experience.


a little background info on södermalm

stockholm, the capital city of sweden, is spread across many islands. söder is the big island, or borough, that lies just south of the city center. it was once a working class district, but has felt the effects of gentrification, making it a popular, eclectic hub for artists, hipsters, designers, musicians… you get the drift. it is a funky place. a place filled with diversity, art, independence, progressives, creatives, and lovers of all things vintage, cool, and hip. it could be intimidating, but then again, self-expression is what it’s all about. so, everything + everyone is in. as long as it’s authentic + real. people create, philosophize, eat + drink, and enjoy life in söder – at least that’s how i see it.

everywhere you look, you feel the bohemian quirkiness of the neighborhood. there are funky cafés, edgy independent shops and boutiques, yummy local restaurants and pubs, relaxing parks, and views to die for.

the architecture is beautiful. colorful, old, unique. apartment buildings with shops on the bottom floor lining little backstreets and amazing, cozy houses with incredible perched on cliffs that rise above the water and the rest of stockholm.

but, enough info about it. let me share a few tips with you about what we did, where we went, and what we experienced during our day in söder!


first things first: coffee, of course

after our short ride to stockholm, and a quick subway ride from the central train/subway station to mariatorget, we were in söder. first up on our agenda… coffee! after a short walk, we rounded the corner and saw our destination: kaffe, a simple café in the heart of a typical södermalm neighborhood.

we walked into the airy, spacious one-room café and up to the bar to order 2 cappuccinos for 25 kr a piece. (cheap!). however, the barista told us that they only take cash, so she pointed us in the direction of an atm (things that are not on every corner in sweden for some reason) about 4 blocks away. we left the café, took a little walk, got our money, and walked back. no biggie.

tip: just a heads up if you plan to visit. take cash!

i snagged two stools at the bar by the window for us and waited for lina to pay. there are no tables in the café, it’s just stools lined up at a counter bar that runs down the windows. a cozy way to sit and chat, or just read. personally, i loved it. there is nothing like sipping on some delicious coffee (which it was), chatting, and looking out at the street as people pass by.

kaffe is definitely a popular place, but it wasn’t crowded or loud, even for a saturday morning. it was absolutely the perfect start to our day.





independent, quirky, unique shops + boutiques

loaded up with caffeine, we hit the streets of söder to see what funky places + things we could see. we walked back toward the atm we visited earlier and headed up the shopping street. though neither of us wanted to do much shopping. this day trip was all about discovering the vibe of söder for ourselves. but, some of the vintage, hipster, independent (and even one or two not-so-independent, if i am honest) places just called us in. one of my fave’s was a little bookshop we found, called simply söderbokhandeln (south bookstore), filled with all kinds of books. i was totally in love.

tip: wander all around the bookstore. look carefully. browse and search. take your time, it looks oevrwhelming. there are so many unique titles, and even a little english section.

we need way more time to return and explore more of the vintage shops. oh, it’s heaven!


funky-street-south bookstore


eat like the locals

ok. we researched a bit, and apparently there is a little dim sum/dumpling restaurant in söder that locals love. so, we planned our wandering to take us from the café, through some of the shopping areas to this tiny little, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called 58 dim sum. i just love getting tips and then searching them out for myself. i was so excited about lunch!

we found the place and walked in. space for only about 4-5 different groups to sit. it was teeny tiny. paper lanterns hanging around. a delicious smell. i knew right off that we were in an authentic place.

we had no idea what to do, so we went to the counter and the lady working there, who was not really good in swedish or english, gave us a menu, two slips of paper and 2 pens. we grabbed a seat, and began perusing. well, we were there for the dumpings, so that was an easy decision. but there were so many to choose from. we decided that i’d get the broccoli/cauliflower ones and lina would get the mushroom. then we’d share.

you get 10 pieces for 58 kr. amazing price! it includes a noodle salad and soup, both of which i had. but not a drink, which is not that big of a deal. the dumplings were delicious and served quickly. i fumbled over chopsticks as usual – i totally suck, but managed to eat 8 out of 10 (with the sticks. woo hoo.). then, i was totally full.

tip: 58 dim sum. a small, local place serving authentic food for really cheap. ummm… i loved it. highly recommend!

58-dimsum dimsum-order-stockholm 58-dimsum-restaurant dumplings-dimsum

around the corners + down the alleys

as i walk through the main streets of any city, i am always intrigued by the little ones. so, after a bit more peeking into some unique stores in the little mall called skrapan, such as etc. and habitat, where i could have snatched up tons of little dresses and home decor, we decided to just wander off the beaten path.

all throughout söder you can find parks. open green spaces, little fenced-in basketball/soccer areas , and squares with benches and trees. and, of course, where there is a park, there are plenty of swedes enjoying the outdoors. we passed park after park, filled with couples, families, friends, kids, even live music. and, wouldn’t you know it? a random food truck too.

one of the most beautiful places we walked through, though, was the cemetery at katarina kyrka (the church of catherine). i have never seen a cemetery so filled with flowers. green grass, yes. and flowers on graves or beside headstones, yes. but, here, flowers grew naturally. it was just breathtaking. so, we had to pause for a moment to reflect on life and death.

on any spring or summer day when the weather is nice (and by nice i mean 50 degrees or higher, americans!), it’s totally worth a walk through a park (or a cemetery). and a few moments of getting back to the simplicity of the outdoors.

tip: the swedish sun is warm and intense, so even if it’s only 50 degrees f, if it’s sunny, you will be warm. i promise.

park-söder- cemetary-stockholm

of course, surrounding all of these parks are the amazing, colorful, european buildings. most house apartments in them, and are totally full – as this is a very popular place to live, which i am sure that you can now understand a bit why. but, the closer you get to the edges of this island, the more little houses you find. oh, they are not houses with yards, per se, because it’s still urban. and on a cliff. but, they are row houses, built right next to each other, and surrounded by apartment/office buildings. these houses + buildings near the edges of the island, are perched up high, and they offer incredible views of the city and the other islands.

lina and i roamed through the cobblestone streets and alleys, found different little lookouts between buildings, and imagined what life would have been like years ago, when people lived here. of course, we also imagined what it would be like to live here today…. one can dream, you know.

tip: get lost. put down the map and just follow the streets where they lead. you never know what you might stumble upon. and you can always find your way back to the main streets in söder. it is an island, remember? in the meantime, see what you see.

old-building-stockholm söder--buildings buildings-south-stockholm red-house-sodermalm buildings-south-stockhom


an unexpected bird’s eye view

we just had one more thing to do before we ended our afternoon in söder – a visit to a pub. but, on our way there, we came across this bridge that seemed to go straight out over the streets + water, giving what i assumed would be an amazing view of stockholm. the “bridge” is called katarinahissen. now, i’m a bit freaked out when i walk out on something with nothing underneath me, so i need to walk in the middle and preferably have someone hold on to me, so i don’t irrationally think that i am going to fall off (through a fence or through a glass, which of course, would be impossible, which is why i said, irrational).

but, i needed to see the view. so, we walked out and i could look back at söder, and look across to gamla stan (old town) and other more northern/eastern parts of the city. it was so beautiful to see!

tip: do it!

katrinehissen-life-view-stockholm stockholmwe did finally make it to that pub, but i wouldn’t say it was quite what we were looking for. we didn’t research anything, but just wandered and then, since we were running out of time, ducked into a pub called balthazar. totally ok. but typically swedish. not anything funky or unique. still, the beer was only 29 kr. super cheap! so, that was a win. clearly, we need to come back to explore the more hidden pubs of söder.

we had plans to meet up with some friends in a whole other part of stockholm for a beer tasting event (perhaps another post coming soon!), so we bid farewell to södermalm for the day. however, after the microbrewery beer tasting, we took a ferry back to the area and walked up to söder for one last drink together. we ducked into the cozy, relaxed, fair-trade bar/restaurant called muggen, located on the main shopping street in söder and across the street from a subway entrance – necessary for our ride back home later on. we had so much fun catching up and enjoying each others’ company, that i didn’t take any photos!

so, friends, if you find yourself in stockholm, make your way over to söder. i totally recommend exploring this hipster, funky, international, artsy part of the capital. i personally loved it.

to be fair, there are some not-so-great things about it too. while there is so much hip stuff happening, there is a sense of lots of people are trying a bit too hard. in the fight to be an quirky independent, many people seem to be doing it the same way. like the hipster fad. and yet, there are plenty of people who are just living their life. being funky, weird, and artsy, just as they are.(read some more local views on söder here).

nevertheless, in my opinion, söder is a haven for those people who love to live life on the edge or outside of the mainstream. a place for intellectuals, artists, free thinkers, and  eclectic spirits to gather. and that, to me, is the definition of a place that make my soul sing.

i can’t wait to go back. how lucky am i that it only takes me about 50 minutes to get there?!

onwards + upwards!


sweden in the spring

hello lovelies! happy tuesday to you, wherever you are. unfortunately, as the beautiful swedish sun is shining, i find myself laying under a blanket on the sofa at home this afternoon feeling puny + yucky. it’s cozy, but not at all the day of writing and working at a café in the sunshine that i had planned.

oh well. a lot has been on my mind lately. about the present moment, and the direction i wish to go in, and what “my thing” is. looking for jobs, and searching any-and everywhere has been making me feel a little all over the place. and completely clogged up. however,  i feel as if i have had some amazing moments + times of reflection lately that seem to be tying a lot of things together. however, i am not rushing into anything. i feel like it’s time to be very grounded, very deliberate, and very focused in how i create the life that i feel called to.

so, perhaps my not feeling tip top is just nature’s way of giving me a day to let a bunch of stuff sink in.

in the meantime, spring is arriving in sweden. colors are beginning to creep back into our nordic world, the air is warming, and life is returning. lina and i have done our best to soak up the sunshine and the beauty over the past couple of days. we even made a quick trip to stockholm just to see the cherry trees in blossom. of course i’ve taken lots of photos and it’s time for me to share them with you!

so, here’s a little burst of spring for you… swedish style! enjoy!

kungstradgarden-stockholm-cherry-trees cherry-blossom pink-tree sky-cherry-tree home-window-spring uppsala-spring-river green-buds-tree
hope you are enjoying the changing of the seasons in your little corner of the world!

onwards + upwards! xoxo


an exciting weekend getaway on a floating city: cruising on the baltic sea

when you think of sweden, i’ll bet you don’t really think of cruises. i didn’t, until i lived here. i did understand that swedes are sea people, forest people, nature-loving people. most people live in the big cities of sweden, but the majority of sweden is untouched, natural, wild, and beautiful, including a long, wonderful coastline. and swedes find anyway that they can to get out and enjoy nature.

stockholm, the capital of sweden, actually lies on a bunch of little islands…it is an archipelago. and it’s just a short boat ride through + around the archipelago to the open sea. the baltic sea, which separates sweden and finland/estonia.

swedes love the water. they love seafood, love the sun + the waves. love the special life that is archipelago life. in fact, if you are a lucky swede, you live in the city and have a little “stuga” (cabin) in the archipelago by the sea, or out in the woods beside a lake. this is where swedes spend their summers and weekends. of course this is a dream of mine too. i want to have a place in a small little community on an archipelago island. a place where i can write and be and relax. where i can walk everywhere + have to use my little boat to get back to the mainland.


however, in the meantime, since i don’t have one of these places, i have the opportunity to take  a 22 hour cruise across the baltic to get a little taste of the sea life. this is a very, very popular way to spend a weekend here in sweden. a chance to getaway, dance, drink, party, shop (tax free!), and feel the sea breeze. (not really the simple archipelago life, but is does get you out to sea. hehe).


photo from here.

and that is exactly what i did this past weekend with 7 other family members + friends. we left uppsala, took the train down to the harbor in stockholm and boarded a huge cruise ship (pictured above!) for an overnight cruise to åland… a group of islands close to finland. we had a super, amazing blast. and i have a TON of photos to share with you!

running in uppsala… don’t want to miss our train!


made it to stockholm in 40 minutes! now: taxi ride from the train station to the

unloading + getting our 1st view of our ship!!cruise-ship

beautiful STOCKHOLM in the backgroundsotckholm-cruise-ship

checked in + waiting to board. what to do? why, a group cheers to our trip, of course!cruise-cheers beer-lina-me

onboard + on the back deck to check out the view before leaving dockstockholm-harbor

best usie/groupie ever, i think. love these people!the-gang-ship-cruise

alone on the back deck for a moment… soaking in this beautiful shipback-deck

we set sail + ran as high as we could so we could get a good view and wave goodbye to stockholm
top-deck top-deck-running stockholm me-cruise-ship-stockholm stockholm-sunshine-harbor top-deck-stockholm lina-and-me top-deck2

back downstairs into the big lounge area for our first drinks! cheers (again!)!drinks-cruise-ship

when our rooms were ready, we headed to our cabins to change for dinnercruise-ship-cabins-hall

our cabin: 4 beds + a huge porthole window!

dinner buffee (with all the drinks you can manage also included)dinner-ship dinner-cruise-ship

the blue hour on decktwilight-archipelago


darkness came + the party began!dance-cruise-ship dance-gang-ship

a few quiet (and super windy + cold) moments on the deck in the dark. eerie and peaceful all at the same time.

i slept for 2 hours. hehe. so to wake myself up i headed out on deck in the cold and wind. it was an invigorating, inspiring, soul-filling moment. just me + the sea.baltic-sea morning-open-sea-baltic

then i was joined by my love and our friend. morning-ship-sea

after breakfast + some tax free shopping, i literally sat here in this panorama bar on the top floor of the deck for the entire rest of the trip. our group gathered here, recovering, resting, and just enjoying the view.panorama-bar-ship top-deck-archipelago archipelago-sweden

my brother-in-law invited me to have an appletini with him. a little end of the cruise celebration about an hour before we island-sweden birka-cruises

i’ve never done anything like this before, and it was so fun. intense, exhausting, and fuuuuun! of course, i couldn’t wait to get home and just throw myself on the couch. which is exactly what my love + i did. we ordered pizza, netflixed as long as we could stay awake, and then headed to bed to sleep for 11 hours.

i think i’m all cruise-shipped out for a while, but i’d definitely do it again! it’s great fun to spend a weekend with friends + family, just letting it all go. relaxing, dancing, eating. i loved it.

but about that archipelago cabin…. one day!


stockholm is for lovers

for valentine’s day, my love and i took the 30 minute train ride from uppsala to stockholm. how amazing is it that we live so close to stockholm! it blows my mind, and i even had a chance to visit the capital city two times this past week.


well, my lovely wife is a huge fan of musicals, as i am – but i think she may be a little bit crazier than me. so, last fall, after we decided/found out we’d be moving back to sweden from asheville, she suggested that we go and see a musical that starred her most favorite singer ever, helene sjöholm. co-starring with her would be peter jöback… a singer/broadway star that i am just in love with. like, i really want to be his best friend. truly. for some reason, i think we’d get along just splendidly. he and his husband live outside of stockholm, and i can just imagine lina + i hanging out with them. hehe. but, seriously.

so, we bought tickets last november for their valentine’s day matinee, feeling like it was forever until we’d get to see the play. but, time passes quickly + life changes + yesterday we spent the day in stockholm, with the highlight being seeing the musical “livet är en schlager” – no idea how to translate that phrase into english. it’s the story of a housewife who lives in a regular old neighborhood, where no one famous comes from or nothing worthy of talking about ever happens. well, she sends in a song that her friend/client wrote to a swedish/european musical competition, and suddenly finds herself a star. however, it is just assumed that she has written the song and she doesn’t really say anything against that. peter jöback plays her brother, a transgender drag queen, simply doing the best he/she can to be true to him/herself. the stories all intertwine, making it a beautiful story of dreams, acceptance, and being true to who you are.

however, the play was just part of our day in stockholm. we decided to hop the train in the morning and were in stockholm by 11 am. our first stop was a cozy, newly remodeled coffeehouse that we love. it was very important to begin our day with a fika, to warm us up + give us energy. of course.

3-coffee-fika then, we headed out onto the streets of the city, shopping, wandering, soaking up the sunshine. it was a beautiful day. chilly, but i wasn’t cold at all.


we ducked into a popular restaurant at just the right time. it was packed, and we had to wait quite a while for our lunch. but, it was so worth it… and it was perfect timing as we were done just in time to take a long, refreshing walk to the theatre. i mean, it was a loooong walk, but it was beautiful – and i was stuffed after all of the pizza i ate and the beer i drank. hehe. 7-vapiano 8-pizza-vapiano


we finally reached the theatre, called cirkus, and found our seats. they were amazing. first row in the second level up – hard to explain. just know that this short girl had no problem seeing. the musical began, and we were both in joyous tears as the cast sang the first number.

now, for the not-so-great news. lina’s favorite singer, the star of the play, was sick. that’s right. her understudy filled in for her. it was such a disappointment to my love (and to me). my heart was breaking, though, for lina – who had waited so long to see her role model perform again. however, the chick who was the understudy had clearly literally studied helene sjöholm because her mannerisms and even the way that she sang seemed to mimic the certain traits that make helene sjöholm, helene sjöholm. so, that was super good.



the musical as a whole took our breath away. we laughed. we cried. we clapped. we sang. i loved it. and i saw peter jöback perform! geez he’s so talented.


afterwards, we walked forever back towards the train station a bit, stopping to have dinner at an american restaurant – which is not so famous in america anymore, but really popular here. we ate + drank + discussed the day’s events, but mostly the musical.

then, it was time to make our way to the train station and head home.


it was a beautiful, fun day. only the first half of this wonderful valentine’s day weekend. an perfect balance between a day of being active and touristy and doing something special together, and a day spent at home cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and sipping on coffee. no matter where we are or what we do, i am filled with love + gratitude that i get to share this life with my love.


hope you all had a wonderful valentine’s day – no matter if you were with someone, or spending the day loving yourself. in the end… it’s all really about beginning with loving ourselves + then spreading that love with any + everyone we meet.


onwards + upwards!

uppsala, stockholm, & a heatwave

when the wedding was over last week, we went back into tourist-mode. and, boy did we do it full-speed ahead! after a couple of days of visiting friends in different places all over norrköping, we took a little road trip to uppsala and stockholm from wednesday to friday – and it was perfect timing to do a bunch of walking and touring of two cities in the middle of a crazy, record-breaking heat wave in sweden! the heat outside wouldn’t be so bad, cause i’m so used to it in north carolina; but here, in sweden, there is no air conditioning inside anywhere. so, there is no escaping the heat – and it is stifling. buuuuut, we didn’t let any of it stop us at all! nope.

we were in uppsala, staying at lina’s brother & fiancee’s place for until friday morning, and it was so unbelievably cozy. i’m pretty sure the highlight for me was the picnic and bbq we had in the city park one night – soaking in the long, late-evening sunshine, spending time with family, roasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores. everything was magical, beautiful, and perfect.

friday, we jumped on the train and rode the 35 minutes to sotckholm – in a super stuffy train – and began a long and super gorgeous day in the capital city made up of islands. of course, we didn’t see everything (paige has got to come back to see some other great parts of stockholm), but we saw a lot – old town (gamla stan) is always one of my favorites. the buildings and alleys just take my breath away. imagining all of the people who have walked the cobblestone street for hundreds and hundreds of year… ahhh. be still my heart. so amazing.

we stayed in stockholm until after dinner, so we caught a late train home – completely satisfied, exhausted, and inspired. what a great little road trip – with my amazing girls, paige and my love.

IMG_5319 stadsparken uppsala canal uppsala domkyrka uppsala DSC_0179 king gustav uppsala DSC_0186 roses and bikes books in window palaca gardens uppsala castle uppsala view DSC_0220 stortorget my love and me picnic uppsala bike beer grill picnic uppsala picnic uppsala canal uppsala the gay ring central station stockholm stockholm strandvägan stockholm stockholm östermalm stockholm djurgården stockholm gamla stan stockholm ferry stockholm ferry old town stockholm stockholm gamla stan gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm balcony stortorget gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm stockholm kungsträgården stockholm stockholm stockholm stockholm

i just have to say, as i have before, that i am, once again, so very grateful for this life that i live. but, let me also say, that just because everything “seems” so great (though it is right now), it does not mean that i do not have times that are tough – we all do, and i have. but, all of the beauty and goodness and amazingness that surrounds me in my life, only reminds me every day to simply live in the moment – to be thankful for each day and to give thanks for all that is around me.

beauty, love, and even tough times – they all teach me the joy of being alive. and i work very hard to not take any day for granted. so this post, these photos, and these words that i have written – they are all in honor of living life – of grabbing on, letting go, and learning how we can live for today, giving thanks for every single second.

may your day be beautiful and filled with love & peace. xx