top-deck-featured

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.

archipelago

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).

SONY DSC

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!

running-to-the-train

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

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! perfect.cruise-ship-cabin

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

the blue hour on decktwilight-archipelago

lighthouse

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.
nighttime-cruise

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 docked.me-and-jonas 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!

dinner-featured

ten on ten: april 2015

hi everyone! yesterday was friday the 10th, so that means that i took a bunch of photos to chronicle my day! i am taking part in a little photo challenge called ten on ten. it’s so much fun! it was actually a pretty busy + exciting day, so i love my photos bunches..

here’s a lttle summary of what happened: after my morning at home, i headed to the train station to meet lina’s sister, who was coming to spend the weekend in uppsala. lina’s brother lives here, too, so they planned this weekend as a sibling weekend together – of course, i get ot be with them too (and jonas’ fiancée too!). i spent a relaxing afternoon with my sister-in-law, soaking up the crazy awesome spring sunshine. then, we met up with everyone else after work, for some beer and then dinner out. we ended the night together at lina’s brothers place for a long, cozy, evening just talking and enjoying each other’s company. it was a really great friday.

here come the photos!

morning on the sofa with my love. breakfast. coffee. the news.

morning-home

i spent the morning at home: writing, blogging, doing chores – like taking care of my amazing herb collection that seems to just keep on living!herbs

off to the train station to meet my sister-in-law’s train!train-station

waiting… in the sun. in my spring-inspired outfitspring-clothes

oh you know, just a regular fika in the sun with a castle in the background
cookie-and-coffee outside-fika-castle

what’s a day without a cathedral visit?

cathedraltime to stock up: a trip to the alcohol store. what all swedes do on fridays (it’s closed on the weekend!) alcohol-store-sweden

afternoon drinks on the rooftop terrace of my love’s office building.
rooftop-terrace

cheers! dinner time with the fam!cheers-family

we spent a super cozy evening at lina’s brother’s place. and then walked home at midnight – and it wasn’t cold. woo hoo!nighttime-apt

so, friday wasn’t the only fun time this weekend. it just gets better… today we are going to take a train to stockholm and then board a boat for a cruise! that’s right! we are gonna cruise in the baltic sea to a little island between sweden + finland. 24 hours of food, fun, dance, and adventures with 8 family + friends. you know… the family that travels together, stays together!

have a great weekend!! xoxo

yes, i posted more than 10 photos. hehe. 

feature-food

the one thing i love about easter in sweden

easter in sweden is a big deal. not necessarily because of the religious reasons, but because it is a long weekend holiday, and the first real celebration in the spring. like the united states, easter is right up there with christmas. there are traditions, decorations, and typical swedish things that you can count on seeing and/or doing every year.

i’ve spent quite a few easters in sweden… i think this was my 5th, and i knew exactly what to expect. time may have passed, and situations in life may have changed, but this holiday, this little break in regular, everyday life, remains an important time in swedish society.

my easter this year began on friday morning, as my love and i enjoyed a quiet, slow morning at home. then we hopped on a train and headed south to norrköping to lina’s parents’ home. we made it by dinner time + sat outside in their new sunroom through sunset and until the full moon had risen high in the sky. on good friday, it is expected that you don’t do much of anything – a tradition in respect of the day of jesus’ death. even though most people in sweden don’t really observe good friday.

sweden-blue-skies train-ride-my-love sweden-countryside

saturday, the traditional weird day between good friday and easter, is filled with a buzz here in sweden. though, it’s a buzz only with food + family here. nothing else. our saturday was pretty calm, even though it was busy – kind of. a long, lazy morning with lots of coffee + breakfast. meal preparations. a big 14 person lunch. lots of candy (from the easter eggs children get). a mid-afternoon fika. more relaxing, talking, and sitting around the table. pizza dinner. and then bed.

sitting around the table, eating, talking, and catching up is something that swedes do every well. it is highly possible to go from one meal to a fika to another little meal, and never leave the table. it was something i had hard time with when i first lived in sweden years ago, being a short-attention-span american. but, i have grown to enjoy the long, drawn-out meals where you really, really connect and enjoy each others’ company.

coffee feather-tree easter-food easter-candy me-photo easter-cake pizza-dinner

on easter sunday, we began the morning slowly again, but left for church in the late morning. we visited the church where i used to work, and filled with people that lina grew up with. it was so very nice to hug some necks and catch up with friends and co-workers and other members. i have to say, we were treated like little celebrities when we walked in – what a boost to one’s ego. hehe. of course, after the service we had fika and chatted with even more people. it was really great to reconnect with some very amazing, inspiring people from our former life in sweden.

then, in the afternoon, we headed to lina’s aunt + uncles’ house for a birthday dinner for lina’s cousin who’s turning 25. there were about 17 of us or so. another amazing family meal of sitting around the table and catching up. as you can tell, it’s all about quality time together here in sweden.

church-sweden friends-church

in the evening, lina and i hopped a bus back to uppsala. it was a long ride and we arrived close to 11pm. but that didn’t stop us from meeting up with lina’s brother for a drink at a nearby bar. he wasn’t with us for easter because he was with his fiancées family. it was a great way to wind down after a social weekend away, and transition back to being home.

easter monday is a holiday here, so everyone was still off from work. lina and i stayed home all day – minus a quick walk to the grocery store. doing what we love to do. and just being.

guitar

so, in my opinion, easter in sweden is all about one thing: simplicity. it’s all about simply spending time together and enjoying that time with good food and relaxation. it is a fantastic little break in the everyday grind. and something that makes the swedish society so amazing. it’s  the ability to just slow down and just be for a sustained period of time – without needing to be entertained by something fancy. just some food and some people and perhaps a chance to enjoy nature a bit. for a whole weekend. something that many people (americans) could learn to do better. whether you are involved with a big family or there are only two of you, it’s all about stopping for a moment just to enjoy… well, life.

hope you had a lovely weekend, and celebrated in just the way that you wanted + needed.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

tree-buds-blue-sky

blue skies + worshipping the sun

you know, spring in sweden is a little bit all over the place. rain, snow, and sometimes sunshine. – i am sure many of you experience the same where you live.  it’s not usually that warm, but when that beautiful sunshine shows her face, then her rays make even 5 degrees C/45 degrees F feel warm + nice. i’ve said this before, but the sun in sweden is something very special.

when the sun shines in the spring, it’s time to get outside and soak it up. the dark days are over, the cold has left us behind, the light has begun it’s return, the days are getting so much longer, and i (along with every other swede) become a sun worshipper. i literally stand and face the sun. i close my eyes… meditating, soaking in, breathing deeply, living in that very moment.

so, the other morning, after days and days of clouds, rain, and snow, when it was so beautiful, i decided to take a long walk for my meditation time. i explored the neighborhood behind ours, passing apartment buildings, houses, and cozy, little yards + gardens. the sun was warm, the breeze was cool, people were  out + about, and i simply gave thanks for the joy of walking and discovering and being.

i thought i’d share with you a little snippet of the amazing blue swedish skies that i have seen a little of this week. the blue skies make me feel so alive. i hope these photos do the same for you in a tiny, little way. enjoy!

sunshine-roof-window neighborhood easter-tree-square blue-skies square-tree-feathers sunshine-walk tree-buds

happy easter weekend, everyone. here in sweden, everyone has a little holiday from friday until monday. we are taking the train down to norrköping to visit lina’s family for a few days. but, we will be back home again on sunday, to enjoy the last little bit of the holiday here. so, it’s all about relaxing + enjoying for the next 4 days. wishing you a fabulous few days! and, if the sun shines wherever you are, turn your head up to her, close you eyes, and give a little thanks for the warmth + life that she brings. love + light to you all!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

home-coffee

ten things i learned during my first three weeks in uppsala

hello, friends! i sure hope your weekend has been/is great. good news here. today we hit the halfway mark. we have been in uppsala in our little temporary apartment for exactly three weeks now. and, we have exactly there weeks until we move into our new one! needless to say, we cannot freaking wait (for reasons i mentioned in a previous post which you can read –> here). so, i thought i’d reflect on the past three weeks – the days and nights that i’ve spent getting to know uppsala as i have begun to call it my new home. and, i thought i’d share with you a bunch of photos and a few lessons or new bits of info that i’ve learned along the way. so, here we go!

1. i love snow! and uppsala is to die for in the snow.

feet-snow

apartment-snow-uppsala landry-snow park-snow-walk river-uppsala snow-favorite-street snow-river snow-park-uppsala

2. speaking of snow… people actually ride bikes in snow. not this girl, though. but, the mailman does. what?!

snow-bikes backyard-snow mailman-bike-snow

3. cathedrals + castles. everywhere i look. magic!

cathedral-dusk snow-cathedral river-sunshine-cathedral street-corner-cathedral uppsala-castle

4. there are places i can walk to to get myself out in the woods and among trees. which means, i can survive here in uppsala (not that finding trees is a problem anywhere in sweden – it’s all breathtaking). cuz, you know i am a nature worshipper.

trees-forest forest-winter-walk evergreen-nature-snow

5. being home alone in the silence ain’t all that bad (but i still can’t wait to move and have reliable internet, tv, the comforts of regular first-world life. i own my materialism).

coffee desk-computer herbs-window planning-table-work-home work-desk-home

5. uppsala’s sunrises + sunsets. breathtaking.

sunrise-uppsala sunset-uppsala

6. fika fika fika fika. all day. every day. in coffeehouses that also serve chinese food (for real) + in fancy places with little teacups + little dives that remind me of asheville + everything in between.

cafe-latte-fika fika-semla fika hugos-coffee-uppsala hugos-uppsala semla-fika

7. my new fave hangout? the independent, all-english bookshop where i can find a whole section dedicated to the beat generation. have i mentioned i am joining one of their bookclubs?! and that the owner and i are gonna see if we can come up with something that i can do as work there. squeeeeee!

the-english-bookshop independent-bookshop john-lennon-book

8. the library is my other new best friend.

library cozy-library uppsala-library library-corner

9. exploring new restaurants + hangout places. some with even a taste of asheville. i’ve just made it a legitimate new hobby.

beer-irish-pub chinatown-uppsala pbr-after-work thai-colors thai-vacation-restaurant

10. weekends in are like a little slice of heaven. just me + my girl.

home-coffe-book home-kitchen-table dinner-home wine-home-night

now, don’t get me wrong. everything has been a cozy + wonderful + nice… and not at all at the same time. this limbo life is for the birds. my love and i are dyyyying to settle in. we may be settling into uppsala + the swedish way of life again. but, we do not at all feel settled. so, it’s a crazy balance of dreaming about the future (the three weeks from now future) and living in the present moment. i feel like a yo-yo. meditating and being all spiritually calm and such, and just wanting to get the hell out of here and move into a place that we can really call home.

still, i know what i know. and that is…. people say that change is the only certain thing. so, the question is, how are we going to deal with it? cause change can’t always be on our terms or in a way that we like it. our present situation may be bliss one minute and chaos the next. that’s how my life feels right now. bliss + chaos all mixed up into one pot.

but, it’s up to me what i do with that pot of craziness. and i choose to find the good in everything. oh, i accept and feel the crap and the worry and the frustration. hell, i’ve cried i don’t now how many times since moving. and that’s ok. that’s good, even. to feel and acknowledge our feelings is very, very good. but, to get stuck in them and to let them drag me down, that is not good. instead, i believe in living in gratitude. so, i balance my human, slightly selfish tendencies with the knowledge that i am the luckiest person i know. and, i choose to live in that. i choose to live in total, abandoned gratitude for all of the unbelievable opportunities that i have had. i even choose to turn the challenges into more opportunities.

so, with all of that, i can say that, though i am so freaking ready to get out of this apartment and settle down in another one, my days + nights have still been filled with more joy than i can describe, more beauty than i can possible show you. and for that, i am so very grateful.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

* hang on, friends. daily posts will be returning soon! until then… sending you lots of love + light, and thanking you for following.

 

meditation

meditation mondays: letting music soothe you

happy monday, lovely friends. so, i’ve made it through two weeks in our little temporary apartment, and not that i’m not grateful, but i am counting the days until we move into a much more permanent rental apartment in mid-march. it’s actually a month away now, and that feels pretty great.

the silence in the current place is good. the simplicity has been very nice. and the lack of internet has definitely taught me how to scale back + not be so dependent on checking my phone or being on the computer all of the time. however, for someone who loves blogging and writing and photography, being without the internet has been a little frustrating at times. to say the least.

i had a little revelation this past weekend about it all. my love + i don’t really feel at “home” in the apartment, and i find myself longing for my apartment in asheville quite often – which irritates me because i am trying so hard to live in the present moment. but, i have given myself a break + discovered why that longing is so strong… we are living only with a suitcase’s worth of clothing. nothing else we have is ours. nothing. yes, i miss my things – the things that we had in our home in asheville that we shipped over to sweden. they are still down at lina’s parents, because, why move them up here only to have to move them again in a month?

not to sound materialistic, and not that these things are the most important things ever, but when you’re an expat, to have anything that resembles “home” means a lot. i miss my grandma’s mug that i drink out of most mornings. i miss my journals – that i use for writing. i miss my dreamcatcher that hangs on the wall. i miss a silly basket that i got from my mom. i miss the the things that lina and i gathered and used in asheville as we created our first real home together. (our time in sweden before was, of course, in our own home, but it was so filled with sickness + difficult times… asheville was the very first time we really lived life together).

changing subjects a bit… i had a hard time meditating this morning. i was missing my asheville view and my candles and my other little altar things, including my big meditation pillow. i mean, as i said before, i know it’s not about those physical things, and i definitely made do with what i had, but still. i missed the comfort and familiarity.

i closed my eyes + tried to meditate in the silence. and then, i decided that i just couldn’t do it. i needed music.

so, i clicked on the one playlist that i have downloaded to my phone (= i don’t need internet to play it), and i just knew that i needed to hear the song “you and me” by sara watkins. i love that song so much, and i trusted my soul, since the song just popped into my head this morning. and, as i sat there, on the floor, with my eyes closed, not surrounded by any of my stuff, i just let the lyrics wash over me and through me. my soul was right. it was the song that i needed to hear.

it’s a sweet, sweet melody about fondly remembering – it’s not sad, or melancholy. no, it’s just about remembering with great warmth and gratitude. the music + the words were like the warm blanket (that i also miss) i wrapped myself up in. i felt a sense of home just by hearing it. and i wasn’t sad at all. i was filled with peace. there was no sense no longing to go back to the way things were, but simply a joy in pausing for a moment to feel something familiar.

listen to my song from today:

if you’ve never used music as your focus for meditation, try it. just pick a song. close your eyes and listen. listen with your heart + soul. let the music fill you. let the words just sink into you. and hear the message that the universe is giving to you. trust in that message and just rest.

wishing you a beautiful, exciting, peaceful week. xoxo

onwards + upwards!