Travel Guide to Nusa Islands: Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida

When we began planning for our honeymoon, Thomas had first said that we should stay in one place the whole two weeks. Although it sounds nice to not move around much and be able to fully enjoy our stay, I knew we would become restless in only one place. So I suggested that we stay in three different spots in Bali and I am so happy we did! We loved being able to check out different areas in Indonesia, and trust me, staying 5 days in each place is plenty if you're planning a two week honeymoon! If you didn't check out our first stop in Bali, you can read our travel guide to Seminyak here

Our second stop on our honeymoon was Nusa Lembongan - A quaint little surfer's paradise off the coast of the main island of Bali. After our amazing, yet busy, stay in Seminyak we knew we wanted a more mellow vibe. We stayed in Nusa Lembongan all 5 days of our stay, and took day trips to Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. 

To get to Lembongan from the main island, we booked a Rocky Fast Cruise boat from Sanur. The boats run in intervals throughout the day and it takes around 30 minutes to get to Lembongan. The ticket costs around $35 per person round-trip!

Continue reading for where to stay, what to do , and where to eat in the Nusa Islands!


Where to Stay

We used Airbnb for our stay in Nusa Lembongan! As you can see below, it's hard to go wrong with a beautiful view like that! We went with a private villa with a huge infinity pool looking out at the ocean. It would have been such a wonderful villa, however there was construction going on next door and the jackhammering was so loud that we had to switch to a new villa after staying there only one night. Luckily the property management company we had booked through made arrangements for us. The 2nd villa had an even more incredible sunset view plus an air conditioned bedroom, which the first one didn't so that was an added bonus!

Some things to note on accommodation in Bali - 
- You can get a homestay for as little as $10 a night and splurge up into the thousands per night. Bali is extremely affordable if you want it to be. Being that it was our honeymoon, we did splurge a little and each place we stayed in was around $200 a night. However $200 a night gets you a private villa and infinity pool, staff that helps you with transportation, cleans and makes your bed daily, and makes you a delicious breakfast every morning! 
-A lot of times in open air villas there could be mosquitos. Most places will come in and spray for you daily, but if not, make sure you use the mosquito nets over your bed and keep mosquito repellant handy.

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What to Do in Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, & Penida 

 

We booked a motorbike for $5 dollars a day when we were in Lembongan which made It so easy to explore the island. We did day trips to Ceningan which is the smaller island in between Lembongan and Penida, which is easily accessible by motorbike and crossing the Yellow Bridge. To get to Penida, you take a 10 minute boat ride from the Yellow Bridge for around $10 a person and can rent a motorbike when you land on Penida island. 

Lembongan

  1.  Devil's Tears - This was one of the coolest things to see! The water gets sucked into the rocky cliff before exploding back out - aka Devil's tears. The spray of water also creates a beautiful rainbow a lot of times! 
  2. Dream Beach - A beautiful white sand beach we came across. Unfortunately the current had brought a lot of trash from surrounding areas which is so sad, but other than that it was a beautiful beach. 
  3. Sandy Bay Beach - Our 2nd villa we stayed at was on Sandy Bay Beach! Very quiet and not a lot of people. You can hang out at the pool at Sandy Bay Beach Club and have access to food and drinks all day.
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Ceningan

Ceningan was my favorite little island and the smallest of the three! It's great to take the yellow bridge over for the day and explore! I loved seeing the seaweed farms among the crystal blue water, and the cute boats floating along the shore.

  1. Blue Lagoon - This spot was on my bucket list! The lagoon is a rocky cliff surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise blue water. 
  2. Mahana Point Cliff Jump - We stumbled upon this gem right after leaving the blue lagoon and I'm so happy we did! We jumped off a 10m diving board into crystal blue water. To be honest it was a little scary because you have to swim around the side of the cliff to get to the ladder, but it's perfectly safe. See the video of us jumping below! 
  3. Secret Beach - This is a picturesque beach we relaxed on for several hours after our cliff jumping adventure. There's a little bar/restaurant nearby if you want a cold beer or snack!
                                                                  

                                                                

                                                                       

                                                                     

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Penida

  1. Be warned - Penida is awesome however it is a really large island and the least populated and the roads are really bad and bumpy. If you're riding a motorbike, then be prepared to be riding for a couple hours visiting all the sites and for a super sore ass the next day lol. 
  2. Kelingking 'T-Rex'  was the main thing I wanted to see on our day trip to Penida and was well worth the trek! Try and get there as early as possible, as this has become a very popular tourist spot and it really started getting crowded as we were leaving around 11 o'clock
  3. Monkey watching - Our first monkey sightings on the trip were at Kelingking and it was so cool! 
  4. Angel's Billabong - We didn't take much pictures here because by the time we got there it was so incredibly crowded. It's an incredible crystal clear tide pool in between two cliffs that leads into the ocean. 
  5. Marvel at the incredible Temples - Take some time to walk among the beautiful temples scattered among all of the islands. The architecture is amazing!
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Where to Eat

Everywhere we ate was on Lembongan since we wanted to stay close to our villa! A majority of the restaurants provide a free shuttle for transportation, which we used since we would have a couple of drinks at dinner and didn't want to drive the motorbike. Unlike the main island of Bali, the Nusa islands don't have as many great restaurants, however we found a few gems that we really enjoyed! Here are our recommendations: 

  1. Tropical Juice Corner - Right by our villa was a cute smoothie bowl stand called Tropical Juice Corner. The owner was such a nice man! We drank delicious fresh juices, milkshakes out of fresh coconut, and delicious smoothie bowls
  2. Tropical Burger - If you're feeling a burger then this is the spot to go on the island! Thomas got a classic and I got one topped with pulled pork, both were good yet expensive for Bali standards. 
  3. Bali Eco Deli - If you're looking for a chill place to read or do some work, eat a delicious healthy meal, and sip on some amazing fresh juices than this is your spot! I loved the vibe of this place - You leave your shoes off on the outside of the restaurant! We got a really good chicken pad Thai and green curry dish and two different juices to try.
  4. Pa Pa Tarros - This was our favorite! It was a little Thai place right on the side of the road near our villa. The food was incredible and the cheapest meal we had our entire honeymoon. It was around $14 dollars for a glass of wine, a beer, appetizers, and two huge entrees! The crack and slurp chicken noodles are incredible
  5. The Sandy Bay Beach Club - This restaurant and bar has the most incredible view of the ocean and sunset. It is pretty pricey and the food is mediocre at best, but definitely come here for a drink at sunset. The margarita's were really good! 
  6. Oishii - On our last night we went to Oishii for sushi! Very reasonably priced and the rolls were great! The Balinese family that runs the place is so kind and they are really working hard to make it a success which makes it even better to eat somewhere like that!

I can't wait for us to go back someday! Please comment below if you want any additional recommendations or questions when planning your trip!

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Seminyak Travel Guide

I don't know about you, but one thing that I love almost as much as food is traveling. So imagine getting to eat your way through a new country and experiencing a whole new culture with the person you love the most?! BEST. THING. EVER. 

We returned to Portland a few weeks ago after our two week honeymoon in Bali and I am in total bliss. This was my first time going to Indonesia, and to an Asian country in general, and it's everything I hoped it would be and more. Our first stop on our Indonesian adventure was Seminyak. On the west coast of Bali, Seminyak is all about fun in the sun – and delicious food of course. I'm sure my happiness arriving in Seminyak was largely due to being in newlywed bliss, but I LOVED everything about the city from the beginning. The hustle and bustle of the motor bikes zooming by, the smell of satay cooking on a coconut husk coal bbq, being greeted with kindness everywhere we went by the Balinese, and retreating to our incredible villa after a long day of exploring. If this place wasn't on your radar, it should definitely be now. Read on for  my guide to this incredible town! 


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where to stay

We loved our stay at The One Boutique Villa. Everything about it was simply perfect. From the moment we walked down a lush green path to our own private villa complete with a huge swimming pool - I was smitten. The mornings were bliss sitting in the outdoor seating and kitchen area listening to the birds chirp while sipping our coffee. The staff cooked an incredible complimentary breakfast every morning, both Indonesian and western fare, accompanied by fresh tropical juices. It was definitely very hot and humid when we were there, so after a long day of exploring out and about it was so nice to dive into the pool or cool off in the air-conditioned bedroom. And don't even get me started on the bathroom! Right outside our bedroom you walked out into this little tropical oasis where we had a huge tub and outdoor shower. I want an outdoor bathroom in our house someday after experiencing that! And the cherry on the cake was that all of the staff at the villa were some of the nicest people we've ever met! We told them we can't wait to come back on our 10-year wedding anniversary :) 
I would definitely suggest The One, but we saw many other beautiful villa's on tripadvisor and Airbnb. Just make sure you read the reviews first! 

         complimentary breakfast at our villa

       complimentary breakfast at our villa

     so in love with the outdoor bathroom and tub

   so in love with the outdoor bathroom and tub


Where to eat & drink

Okay, so you had to know we were going to stake out the best spots in Bali didntcha? There are SO many great spots to try, but here are our highlights and recommendations! 

Cafe Organic - This a very popular and trendy spot in Seminyak -I normally like to find the hidden gems, but Cafe Organic is still a a great spot to grab a really fresh breakfast or lunch and a cup of coffee. I loved the herby feta toast!

Bo & Bun - Our first night in Seminyak we went to Bo & Bun - a Vietnamese spot with a fun and buzzy atmosphere. We tossed back $2 Bintang's and lychee martinis and chowed down on sticky pork ribs, Vietnamese salad topped with crispy pork belly bites, and our first bowl of 'crack & slurp' noodles which were literally crack. Recipe recreation coming soon!

Shelter Cafe/Nalu Bowls - This was our favorite spot in Seminyak! We originally went to try the Nalu smoothie bowls, but then we discovered that Shelter Cafe was a cozy restaurant perched on top of Nalu, so we got smoothie bowls AND great food. YOU MUST get the "shades of shelter" platter to share. It's a harmonious assortment of hummus, dips, whips, and other yummies to snack on. We also got the "big burger" and a smoothie bowl to share. You can't go wrong with anything here - and all of the plants and decor are the best. 

Ling Ling's - LL's is kind of a quirky asian fusion spot but I enjoyed it! It's a fun place to grab happy hour and sit at their patio out back. The Korean bulgogi tacos are delish and I was a fan of the chicken Bahn mi sandwich, Thomas not so much. By the time we got to Ling Ling's on this particular day, we had been motorbiking in the sun for so long that I practically held the Bintang to my forehead before guzzling it and I think anything would have tasted good - but Ling Ling's still makes the list regardless!

Warung Eny's - If you're looking for authentic Indonesian food then this is your spot. From inside the restaurant you can see the open kitchen with all of the fresh vegetables piled high, and you can watch the Eny family prepare your meal in front of you. We got the whole red snapper that is grilled on the coconut husk bbq, giant grilled prawns, Tum Ball which is spiced pork steamed in banana leaves, and Nasi Campur which is a bunch of small dishes served with rice on a platter. 

Potato Head Beach Club - If you want to splurge a little and have some fun in the sun on the beach then Potato Head is your place. The beach front spot was walking distance from our villa, so before we could check in on our first day we lounged on day beds soaking up the sun sipping spicy mango cocktails. The perfect start to our honeymoon. I loved the fresh ceviche, lobster roll, and romaine salad. 

Bambu - Authentic Indonesian food with a gourmet twist! If you're wanting a romantic restaurant in a fine dining setting then I would go to Bambu! I loved the outdoor setting, and when you walk through the entrance you have to walk across floating steps across a beautiful pond littered with candles. We had the huge tiger prawns, crispy soft shell crab, lamb curry, and seafood noodle soup. 

                                                               Breakfast at Cafe Organic

                                                             Breakfast at Cafe Organic

  Bo & Bun - The dish closest in this picture is      'Crack & Slurp' noodles. SO GOOD .

Bo & Bun - The dish closest in this picture is      'Crack & Slurp' noodles. SO GOOD.

            Whole red snapper at Warung Eny's

          Whole red snapper at Warung Eny's

                                                       'Shades of Shelter' Platter at Shelter Cafe

                                                     'Shades of Shelter' Platter at Shelter Cafe

             Seafood noodle soup at Bambu

           Seafood noodle soup at Bambu

   The family cooking us dinner at Warung Eny's

 The family cooking us dinner at Warung Eny's

                                                              Happy hour and Ling Ling's

                                                            Happy hour and Ling Ling's

          Ceviche, lobster roll, and Caesar salad with fried anchovies at Potato Head Beach Club

        Ceviche, lobster roll, and Caesar salad with fried anchovies at Potato Head Beach Club


What to Do in Seminyak

 First things first, rent a motorbike!

It costs less that $5 dollars a day to rent a motorbike in Bali. I was a little confused with the conversion from rupiah's to dollars at first, but 100,000 rupiah's is roughly $7 dollars, so that's a good way to quickly calculate in your head. Driving a motorbike is pretty hectic in the city because there's so many people on bikes AND you're driving on the opposite side of the road.  Because we wanted to easily get around and take multiple day trips, a motorbike was a good fit for us, but taxi's are a great option as well. If you go the taxi route use Blue Bird. They have a meter and they won't try and scam you. 

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Take day trips 

I loved taking off on our bike and not really knowing what we would discover. We spent one day driving through rice fields, down alley ways, and winding through the roads surrounding Seminyak. We hung out in Canggu, which is a small village about 20 minutes north of Seminyak where we stumbled across the cutest cafes and shops. We popped into Sunny Cafe, a cozy spot with a vintage feel. I loved the vintage balinese pictures hanging on the wall and the record player playing classic tunes. 

My favorite day trip was when we drove over an hour on our bike to Jimbaran and found a secret beach where we soaked up the sun and swam in crystal blue water.  

                       cute street in Canggu

                     cute street in Canggu

                                   Sunny Cafe

                                 Sunny Cafe

                                                                 beautiful beach in Jimbaran

                                                               beautiful beach in Jimbaran

          lookout point at Balangan Beach

        lookout point at Balangan Beach

                              Balangan Beach

                            Balangan Beach

Nourish your body

On every corner in Bali, there's a spot to grab an incredible smoothie bowl, fresh pressed juice or freshly cracked coconut to drink. It's good to indulge on vacation, but in Bali I felt perfectly balanced because of all the healthy fruits and veggies. 

                                                        

                                                      

  Fresh beet and green goddess mocktails at Potato Head Beach Club

Fresh beet and green goddess mocktails at Potato Head Beach Club

                 young coconut at Shelter Cafe

               young coconut at Shelter Cafe

Go shopping! 

If you love finding a good bargain that you're going to love Bali. You can definitely negotiate a good deal with the vendors and boutique owners. They are always going to shoot high, so don't say yes at the first price! We got these incredible set of three handmade wooden bowls, a ceramic coffee serving set and multiple other things for our kitchen. I love buying things like that when we're traveling because now every time we use it we'll remember our trip! 

Eat local food

My favorite thing about traveling to a new place is trying the local cuisine. Yes, Bali has amazing cafes and western fare, but it's way more fun to try a dish that you have no idea what it's going to taste like! Try the nasi goreng or mei goreng which is fried rice or noodles, babi guling which is slow roasted pig, or nasi campur which is an assortment of small dishes surrounding rice. 

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Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

Seminyak is an incredible city. I am so happy we chose it as our first stop on our honeymoon and we will most definitely return someday. Please write a comment if there's anything else you're curious about when staying in Seminyak and I would be happy to help! I can't wait to share our next stops, the Nusa islands and Ubud with you! 


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Christmas in Norway

Hei Hei! 

I hope everyone had the most wonderful Christmas filled with lots of family time, couch-napping, and Christmas cookie eating! I have been the queen of vacation the last week and making the most of our holiday in Norway. The days leading up to Christmas were a blur of holiday get-togethers and feasts to say the least.

In Norway, their big Christmas celebration happens on the 24th. You spend the day lounging and eating candy in your ugly sweaters watching old cartoons and Norwegian tv programs. At dusk on Christmas Eve, most families head to the cemetery to light a candle for their loved ones which is such a sweet tradition, and the hundreds of candles look beautiful in the white snow. Then everyone goes back to their homes and gets dressed up to have a big Christmas dinner! Traditionally, everyone eats either Pinnekjøtt which is cured lamb or Ribbe which is pork with the most incredible crispy pork belly on-top. We had both with all of the traditional sides - rutabaga mash, boiled potatoes, brown gravy, sauerkraut, and tyttebær which is a lingonberry/cranberry jam. You wash it down with beer and akevitt which is the Norwegian liquor of choice. This is the first time Thomas and his two brothers were together in a while so the shot glasses stayed filled to say the least! Although the gift exchange is fuzzy and I remember confetti being stuck to my head at some point, it was definitely a Christmas celebration for the books! 

We've been rejuvenating on the last leg of our vacation by getting lots of sleep, watching movies, and staying cozy around the fire. The only time we've taken off our comfy clothes is to go have coffee with friends, explore Oslo, and to play in the snow! Tomorrow we are heading to a friends cabin in the mountains to spend New Years Eve. I hope everyone enjoys the last days of 2017 and I can't wait to see you in 2018! 

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Cozy Cooking Engagement Shoot + 2 Easy Pizza Recipes

For our engagement shoot, I knew that I wanted to do what we love most - Cook together! Our own kitchen is way to small to move around and have a proper photoshoot, so we decided to rent an Airbnb. Luckily, I had met another blogger in Portland who owns a beautiful beach cottage on Olivia Beach in Lincoln City. It was the PERFECT setting. The kitchen has wonderful light flooding in, the beachy/rustic decor was exactly what style we wanted, and the cherry on top is the cottage is only a short walk to the beach. I loved that we were able to have a 2-for-1 photo session - First cooking pizza together and then heading out to the beach at sunset. Our photographer Sam from The Wild East, did so great at capturing sweet, natural moments between Thomas and I. 

Pizza is something that we love and is so easy to make! Plus, it looks great in pictures with bright vibrant tomatoes, basil, and all the toppings your little heart desires. To make it even easier for our photoshoot, we used Trader Joe's Pizza Dough. The dough is soft and easy to use, and tastes just as good as if you made the dough from scratch that day! On the first pizza, we smeared a layer of Trader Joe's Fig Butter , and then baked it with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. Once it was out of the oven we topped it with a little grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and arugula! The second pizza, we did classic margherita with Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce,  juicy vine tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. 

A cozy getaway on the beach, pizza, lots of wine, and amazing pictures to cherish forever? Definitely one of the most memorable nights in our books :) 

Scroll down for the recipes, and if you want to rent this amazing cottage on the Oregon Coast click here for the link!

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Proscitto & Fig Pizza with Arugula

Ingredients
- 1 package of Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
- 5-6 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Fig Butter (Any fig spread/jam will work)
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
-  6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
- grated parmesan cheese
- Arugula
- olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste

What to do
1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
2) Take the pizza dough out of the bag and bring it to room temperature. Once it's at room temperature, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
3) Spread pizza with a layer of fig butter, then top with mozzarella and prosciutto. 
4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust is crispy and to your liking. 
5) once out of the oven, top the pizza with grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and arugula. 
6) Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Enjoy!

Classic Margherita Pizza

Ingredients
- 1 package of Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
- 5-6 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce 
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
- Fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1-2 vine tomatoes, sliced
- Olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste

What to do
1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
2) Take the pizza dough out of the bag and bring it to room temperature. Once it's at room temperature, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
3) Spread pizza with a layer of pizza sauce, then top with mozzarella, basil, and tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust is crispy and to your liking. Enjoy!


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7 Things You Must Do in Bergen, Norway

It was my second time in Bergen and I just can't get enough! With it's quaint colorful houses scattered along the harbor and up the hillside, picturesque views of the fjords in all directions, and it's impeccable seafood, Bergen is a place you don't want to miss. The weather is notoriously fickle and it rains on average at least 230 days out of the year - but no worries there. There's plenty of bars, cafés, and shops to pass the rainy days away.  

1. Take the Bergensbanen from Oslo to Bergen

Known as one of the greatest train journeys in the world, this is a trip you don't want to miss! Thomas' family and mine boarded the train in Oslo for a 6 hour journey over the mountains to Bergen. The views are absolutely incredible! We packed sandwiches for the ride, but they have a cafe onboard where you can get snacks and drinks. If you aren't starting your trip in Oslo, I would still recommend taking the train to Voss or Flam from Bergen. 

2. Take the Fløibanen funicular to see amazing views of the city

The first time Thomas and I went to Bergen we hiked to the top of Mount Fløyen, which takes about an hour up. This time we took the Fløibanen tram up to the top! Tickets are 90 NOK for adults and 40 NOK for children. The views of the city and the surrounding fjords are one-of-a-kind. This is definitely an absolute must-do when you're visiting Bergen!

3. Shop & Eat along Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen

Bryggen is a historic harbor district in Bergen, one of North Europe’s oldest port cities. The characteristic wooden houses are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The alleyways are scattered with amazing restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, boutiques, leather shops - You name it! It's definitely a spot to grab a unique hand-made gift. 

4. Walk along the Harbor

This is a no brainer! It's so nice to stroll along the Harbor and watch the boats coming in and out. 

5. Eat Fresh Seafood from the Fish Market

The fish market is one of Norway's most visited outdoor markets. Walking through the market is seafood lovers dream! Langoustine's, king crab, snow crab and fresh shrimp are all musts. Albeit the prices at the fish market are steep and probably double the price than what you would find in the grocery store - but it's all about the experience! My dad had never had king crab before, so we sat at the fish market looking out at the harbor and ate the most amazing king crabs. 

6. Grab a drink in Torgallmenningen City Square

Find a spot at one of the many places scattered along the square and grab a drink! There's always a lot going on, so it's fun to just sit and people watch. We had a couple strong Irish Coffee's ;)

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7. Find fresh fruits and vegetables at the "Farmer's Market"

During the summer months, they have an outside market with vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade sausage, jam, and cheeses. It's very close to the fish market, so if you're there during the warmer months you can't miss it!

How to spend a 20 hour layover in Reykjavik Iceland

I've been MIA the last week or so because we're on VACAY! Thomas and I are here for 2 1/2 weeks with a jam packed schedule of side trips, visiting with friends and family, and a wedding. Of course we're fitting a few naps and A LOT of good food into that schedule ;) On the 20th, my family landed in Oslo and we spent a week all together with Thomas' family. It was so amazing spending time with everyone - Sharing laughs, good food, and exploring Norway.

On our way to Europe, Thomas and I had a direct flight from Portland to Reykjavik Iceland. It was only a 7 hour flight which seemed so quick! It takes me longer to get to Florida from Portland which is crazy! We knew we wanted to explore Iceland a little bit, so we chose to do a 20 hour layover. To promote their routes from North America to Europe, Icelandair created a "stopover" campaign to tempt people to stay in Iceland for up to seven days and split the journey from North America to Europe (or vice versa) without paying any additional fares. How amazing is that?! Two vacations for the price of one - I'll take it! 

We wanted to get to Norway, so we didn't want to spend more than a day in Iceland, but I would love to go back one day to visit Lake Mývatn, go whale watching, explore Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and do the Golden Circle!

Here's our recommendations for visiting Reykjavik and what we did on our layover!

Arriving at Keflavik Airport // Keflavik airport is the largest airport in Iceland and the main hub for international transportation. When we landed it was gray and cold outside, and it was the middle of July! So you can imagine how cold it is during the winter season. We had a checked bag that stayed at the airport waiting to go to Norway and a carry-on backpack. If you're just doing a layover, I would recommend carrying a light backpack since you're going to be walking around all day. Definitely pack a rain jacket just in case!

Currency // Everywhere in Iceland takes credit cards, but it's fun to take out a little cash as well for small purchases! $1 dollar is roughly 100 Icelandic Króna's. 

Bus transportation // I didn't do my research on this part before the trip, so we ended up probably spending a lot more than necessary. We went to the ticket counter at the airport and bought all of our tickets for the day. Thomas and I paid around $140 dollars all together for bus transportation from Keflavik to Blue Lagoon, Blue Lagoon into the city center in Reykjavik, and Reykjavik back to the airport. Ridiculously expensive. It was still a lot cheaper than taking a taxi, but if I were you I would definitely check out a few websites and find the best prices. 

Blue Lagoon // We arrived in Iceland around 6 AM, and headed straight to the Blue Lagoon - One of the most visited attractions in Iceland. We booked our tickets ahead of time and I'm so thankful that we did because we found out that if you don't book ahead there's a good chance you won't get in at all. It was AMAZING to relax in the warm waters after a long flight. 

What you should know about the lagoon! 
1) It's situated on a lava field, but The lagoon is man-made and fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant - Which I wasn't aware of. I knew it was a man-made spa, but I wasn't expecting to see a factory close-by which ruins the ambiance a little. Don't get me wrong, it's still  a very cool experience! 
2) There's different packages to purchase, but I would recommend bringing your own towel and paying for the basic standard package (4800 ISK). You get your own locker and access to the Lagoon, saunas and showers. 
3) The geothermal water features three active ingredients: Silica, Algae & Minerals. All of which are amazing for your skin! The water has proved to help people with different skin problems such as psoriasis. You'll find as much free silica mud as you want located in convenient swim up buckets around the Lagoon! You'll see everyone swimming around with a mud mask on their face :) 
4) Alcohol is expensive. There's a great swim-up bar, but you're going to pay around 8.50 for a draft beer. I got a small bottle of prosecco and paid around $13.
5) Protect your hair from the silica! Especially if you're a blonde, the silica in the water can make your hair very brittle and cause breakage. To prevent that, wet your hair before you go in and lather on a coat of conditioner. If you don't do that it will be fine - your hair will just be extra crunchy once it dries. 

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Exploring Reykjavik

After swimming and relaxing in the Blue Lagoon for a couple hours, we headed into Reykjavik to do a little exploring!

Where to Eat

Thomas and I only ate at Sægreifinn and Betzu Pylsur, but I had an entire list of places I wanted to try! Here's the must-stop spots!

  • Sægreifinn: We were starving when we left Blue Lagoon, so our first stop was Sægrefinn for lobster soup and fresh fish skewers! I had read reviews that this "no frills" seafood spot had some of the best lobster soup and they were right! It's a small little shack on the water with limited seating. We picked fresh cod right out of the display case and had it grilled right  then and there, and we devoured two bowls of lobster soup. 
  • Bæjarins Betzu Pylsur: Translates as the "best hot dog in town". It's been open since 1937, and a fun fact I learned from Condé Nast is that seventy percent of the country's 300,000 residents have eaten at this hotdog stand! They are topped with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. There are variations, but you haven’t eaten a hot dog like an Icelander until you’ve had “one with everything.”
  • Kaloportid Flea Market: The best place to buy traditional Icelandic foods as well pastries and other good treats! The food vendors offer a ton of tasters as well!
  • Reykjavik Roasters: Rated the best coffee in Iceland and Its co-owners are internationally award-winning roasters.
  • Coocoo's Nest: Great weekend brunch menu where everything is made from scratch!
  • Gló: The best vegetarian restaurant in town.
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Where to grab a drink on your layover 

  • Kaldi Bar/Café: Cozy beer bar only featuring Icelandic microbrews 
  • Kex Hostel: An abandoned biscuit factory turned into a chic hostel, bar and eatery.
  • Snaps: This spot feels like a cozy greenhouse! Great for a beer break while you're out exploring. 
  • Tíu Dropar: A small basement bar on Reykjavik’s busy main shopping street Laugavegur.

Sites to explore

  • ‘Climb’ the tower of Hallgrimskirkja: One of the most iconic landmarks in Reykjavik. Head to the top of the church to get a picture of the city!
  • Explore the street art: In the past years Reykjavik has become famous for its colourful murals and graffiti
  • Hang out at Harpa: A modern concert hall down by the water
  • Go whale watching: If you have the time, take a whale watching excursion!

Must-Visit Tapas Spot in Portland // Ataula

Can you imagine a world where it's acceptable to go home every day and take a nap? Or a place where the sangria flows freely and the Jamón ibérico aplenty? Where you can eat patatas bravas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no judgement? That my friends, would be Spain. 

After visiting several spots in Spain, there's still so much of the country that I want to see with Thomas. On our bucket list is to go wine tasting in La Rioja; Eat our way through San Sebastian, which has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world; and throw tomatoes in Buñol at the  famous La Tomatina Festival! But until then, we've found our little slice of Spanish heaven in our neighborhood at Ataula

Tucked away on a side street off of 23rd Ave and Thurman, lies what feels like Northwest Portland's best kept secret. Ataula's whole essence is characterized by how eating and drinking should be celebrated with friends and family - which is exactly the kind of place that I want to be on a date-night, or any other night for that matter. Cristina Baez and chef Jose Chesa bring a 'Portland vibe' by utilizing the Pacific Northwest's seasonal goodies and creating dishes inspired by Catalunya and other regions of Spain.  Sharing multiple 'small plates' so we can try a little of everything is my jam and at Ataula, you can't go wrong. 

On our most recent date night we started off with sangria of course. Then the plethora of jaw-droppingly good tapas started coming to the table. We had cured salmon toasts, the best Jamón ibérico de Bellota, octopus carpaccio, more sangria, bacalao, steak tartare, wine, langoustine, more wine, and THE BEST DESSERT EVER. It's a house made puff pastry, stuffed with house custard and dusted with sugar and spices. Do yourself a favor and order it no matter how full you are.  

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First we started with Sangria because duh, why wouldn't you?! Thomas got the classic red sangria and I got a spicy seasonal sangria which was incredible. 

ATAULA MONTADITO
House cured salmon, mascarpone yogurt, black truffle honey, coca bread

Next we devoured the house special, Jamón ibérico de Bellota. "de Bellota" means acorn fed. 

Also pictured above and below is the pulpo carpaccio, made from thinly sliced octopus.

Above- Bacalao - a dried salted cod which was AMAZING. I've had bacalao in Norway, so it was neat to see the Spanish version. 

TARTARE
Beef tartare, smoked piquillo ketchup, egg yolk puree with chili spiced potato chips

The best langoustine I've ever had. I can't even tell you everything that was on it now, but it was incredible. If you go to Ataula and they have any type of langoustine on the menu I suggest that you get it!

The picture speaks for itself! SO GOOOOOD. 

Our Staycation in Downtown Portland +A champagne cocktail recipe

Lately it feels like work weeks blur into the weekends and astonishingly we are already to the middle of April. How did that happen?! Many times on the weekends after a long week, it's so good to relax within the four walls of our apartment that it feels like chore to leave and go anywhere. Is that bad? Obviously I love getting out and exploring, but sometimes life and time gets the better of me. Clothes need to be folded and season finales of Big Little Lies needs to be watched. Side note, have you guys seen it yet? Nicole Kidman hasn't changed since Practical Magic! I think she really is a witch :)

Anyways, since Thomas works a lot on the weekends and we haven't been exploring this wonderful city as much as we would like lately, we decided to take a staycation last weekend; It was absolutely perfect. 

A full Portland travel guide is the works that I'm making for you guys, but in the meantime here’s a look at our little staycation experience, including plenty of travel recommendations for eating, drinking, and staying in Downtown Portland.

Hotels Downtown

We stayed at The Nines Hotel downtown. I was so impressed! It's located right in the heart of downtown, so it makes walking to restaurants, bars, and activities around town a breeze. The room was so comfy and luxurious. Tiffany blue accent chairs and couches scattered around the room, flowy white curtains, and a chandelier in the corner makes you feel pretty fancy pants. To top it off, when we arrived there was champagne waiting! My kind of place!

Other great hotels we looked at before landing on The Nines was Hotel Vintage, Ace Hotel, The Heathman, and Hotel Deluxe.

Best Bars in Downtown Portland 

On the rooftop of the Nines is Departure  where we kicked our weekend off. Departure has such a fun vibe, especially if it's happy hour on Friday and the sun is out shining! You can take in amazing views of the city and the mountains if it's a clear day. Even though Departure has the city's largest sake list, champagne was definitely our drink of choice all weekend. At the end of this post I'll share a link to some of my favorite champagne cocktails right now. 
After enjoying the patio for a bit, we made our way inside to experience chef Gregory Gourdet's 11 item tasting menu. Asian flare with a modern spin, dishes like Vietnamese Duck Curry and spicy Chili Prawns came to the table one-after-one. We finished with dessert of course; Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with peanut brittle, miso caramel, and banana ice cream. Perfection. 

Other cool bars Downtown: 
Pepe Le Moko // This cozy and cute speakeasy only has 42 seats and makes a killer grasshopper. Go here for your night cap, or day cap, or any cap really.
Multnomah Whiskey Library // Well it's a library of whiskey...what more could you ask for. 
Bailey's Taproom // We can't talk about Portland bars without mentioning beer! Bailey's Taproom is a convenient walk anywhere from downtown and they have 26 rotating taps to keep your heart happy. 

Must-Try Downtown Portland Food Spots

Obviously this list would be too long if I put all of the must-try's, but for now here's the stops we went to and some other of our favorites downtown.
Tasty n Alder //  Tasty n Alder has been on our food bucket list forever. We usually never want to wait in the 2-hour brunch line, but GUYS, IT IS SO WORTH IT. We put in our name and then meandered over to Powell's bookstore until they called us 2 hours later to get our grub on. First we ate the best radicchio salad of our lives with bacon lardons, manchego, and a six minute egg. Then we shared the cutest homemade buttermilk mini biscuits smothered in sausage gravy. I would have literally licked the plate if Thomas would have looked away. Next we split a Boudin Blanc Sausage Omelette with parsnip, celery root, dijon, and gruyere. And last but certainly not least we split a Pork Schnitzel with a sunny side up egg, ham, havarti, and mustard braised cabbage. Washed down with perfectly brewed coffee, it was definitely the best brunch I've had in Portland. Almost in a food coma we headed back to The Nine's and took a much needed nap. 

Grassa // It's definitely not pasta crafted by Massimo Bottura, but if you want a fast-service handmade pasta in downtown then Grassa is the place to go. We ordered take-out and sat-in our hotel room watching the NCAA Championship. I swear we're cool.

Urban Farmer // Located in the Nine's Hotel, Urban Farmer is all about locally sourced organic meat and is primarily known as a steakhouse, but we tried out their brunch. I got the spicy shrimp and grits with pulled pork and a perfectly poached egg on top. Never would I have thought to add pork to shrimp and grits, but I'm definitely going to replicate it at home. Thomas had the not-so-pretty-to-photograph-steak and eggs. He said it was delicious though which is all that matters! 

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Other Must-Try Food Spots Downtown

Clyde Common // European-inspired small plates and great cocktails
Nong's Khao Man Gai Food Cart // Lunch spot that has the best Thai style chicken and rice
Q Restaurant // Cozy restaurant with seasonal dishes like "Short Ribs Braised in Rhubarb Gastrique"
Boxer Ramen // Cute space and great ramen
Lardo // If you want epic sandwiches and the best "dirty fries" of your life
Chizu // Calling all cheese lovers! It's a sushi-bar style cheese bar!
Mother's Bistro // Classic brunch spot. Where I take any family any-time they visit!

Cutest Downtown Portland Shops

The Union Way Shops // Down a little alley way in downtown Portland Near Powell's books lies Union Way. Shops include Will Leather Goods, Quin candy, an apothecary shop, a couple clothing stores among others.
Tender Loving Empire // Cutesy, quirky store with a lot of handmade goods and products from local artisans
Radish Underground // Gifts and clothing by local designers
Canoe // Trendy home goods


French 75 - Recipe and photo by Bon Appetite

Like you can see from our weekend photos, I've been obsessed with champagne cocktails. This French 75 is the perfect combination of gin and bubbly!
 

ngredients

MAKES 1 SERVING

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces Champagne
  • Long spiral lemon twist (for serving)

What to do

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into a large flute. Top with Champagne; garnish with lemon twist.

Oneonta Gorge

Someone at work the other day said "I saw your blog!" and I thought 'Oh yeah, I do have one of those'! I'm sorry I've been so neglectful. I sit in front of a computer everyday for hours on end at work, so when I get home I'm not to keen to look at screens any longer. But I'm making it a new goal to at least post once every week or two. I can ditch one Game of Thrones episode to make a little room for a blog post ;) If you haven't watched Game of Thrones you are missing out!! HBO GO has been the greatest thing ever lately...or it's ruined my life however you want to look at it lol. I could watch Game, Girls, or True Detective forever if I didn't stop myself. 

I promise I don't only watch TV :) On the weekends we try and get out as much as possible and explore this beautiful state we're living in. A few weeks back we went to Oneonta Gorge. It is truly one of the must see "wonders" of the U.S. It's located in the Columbia River Gorge about an hour outside of Portland. When we went it was still pretty chilly out on a daily basis, but we went on a sunny day so it wasn't as brutal. The cool thing about Oneonta is that the stream is the trail that leads you to the waterfall at the end.  I looked on Instagram the morning of our adventure and saw other people's posts about Oneonta. The pictures were absolutely beautiful but everyone was saying there's a portion of the stream that you have to wade through! I knew it was going to be freezing but we decided to go for it! At the beginning of the trail you have to climb over a big heap of fallen trees. It was a little nerve racking at first because the trees are a little slippery and if you misstep you could really hurt yourself I'm sure! Because there were a few obstacles, It made the hike a lot more quiet and peaceful since there wasn't so many people. Once we made it over the mountain of trees we stepped our toes into the frigid water!

I'm being dramatic, the water wasn't that cold but it sure as hell took my breath when I had to swim through it! There's a curve of the tail right before the waterfall where the water gets pretty deep. A thought I could just casually wade through the deep part, but I'm so short that the water came all the  way up to my chest! When the water hit me It took my breath and all I wanted to do was go faster to get through it so I just started swimming lol. I felt so bad for the girls behind me, yet I was dying laughing. One of he girls tried to scale the rock wall and go around the deep pool, but she lost her footing and went crashing into the water! Poor girl was screaming haha. 

The waterfall was absolutely beautiful. The deep shadows of the gorge mixed with rays of sunlight peeking through made it such a unique experience. With our toes completely numb and permanent goosebumps embedded into our skin, we slowly made our way back down the trail. After hilariously trying to change out of our wet clothes by wrapping a towel around each other on the side of the road, we stretched out in the sun to dry out. All Portlanders, Oregonians, and future travelers Oneonta Gorge is a MUST SEE.

More adventures coming! I'll try not to slack this month ;)

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Saturday's in Portland

The weather has been pretty much perfect every weekend since I've been in Portland. Occasionally there's sporadic showers, but I'm seriously loving this climate! The air is crisp and cool which makes it so much nicer to spend the day walking outside in the spring and summer. I went back to Atlanta this past weekend for training and I was amazed at how muggy it already was! I can get use to having these kind of summers :)   

Saturday's in Portland are great. Actually...pretty much every day on the weekend is great. If the sun is out everyone is either biking or hiking, shopping, brunching, and lets be honest, drinking! Portland is so fun and lively and if you're a people watcher like I am then you're in for a real treat lol. You see such a mix of people walking on the streets. 

Last Saturday I took my camera and headed to downtown. My first stop was the Saturday Market. There's hundreds of tents selling clothing, jewelry, artwork, and nicknacks. I ended up buying these cute succulents that I've been wanting forever. They're so easy to keep alive and take care of! My favorite part of the Saturday market is the street performers. Some of these people are so talented. This one painter was making art from spray paint and I was shocked at how beautiful and precise they were turning out. There's so many food carts and beer stands around, so if you want awesome free entertainment take a seat in the square and soak it up! You'll also see some craziness which is always fun lol.  

If you're ever visiting Portland, obviously you're going to go to Voodoo Donuts. It's a Portland craze and staple. However, avoid going on the weekend at ALL COSTS! I'm sorry I don't care how great a donut might be but there's no way I would stand in line for 2 hours. They have 3 locations, so if you have to go on a weekend, avoid the downtown location. I walked by Voodoo on my way to get coffee and there's a double line wrapped around the building!  

My next stop was the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Portlanders are snobs about a few things I've learned. Coffee, beer, wine, and food which I am all onboard with! You should never go to Starbucks if you're in Portland. There is so many great coffeeshops and Stumptown leads the pack. According to the New York Times, "Stumptown is the leader. They're cutting edge.", when referring to the "third wave" of coffee evangelists. I got the classic cappuccino and sat by myself in the shop and listened to throw-back 80's rap from the record player in the corner. So random. I'm not sure why they were playing that lol. 

I finished my day off by browsing Powell's City of Books. This bookstore is the largest new and used bookstore in the world and it makes my heart happy. I've always loved roaming around the local Barnes and Noble back home...that doesn't have anything on this place. You could spend hours crusing through the aisles on 5 different stories! They provide a map and you'll definitely need it. My main goal for this visit to Powell's was to browse through the rare book collection. It has it's own little dark room on the fifth floor with cute little antique lamps. You feel like you're in the hogwarts library haha. The oldest book in this room is a print of The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus from the 1400's. You can purchase it for $12,000. So cool to see something that old and special. 

I have a lot more exploring to do of Portland, but I feel like I'm off to a good start :) 

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I'm A Pacific Northwesterner

I'll always be a Florida girl at heart but I can officially call Oregon my new home away from home. I've been here a little over a month and I am utterly in love. Of course I'm homesick, as any girl would be who is living thousands of miles away from her family and friends, but I couldn't imagine being anywhere else right now. I'm sorry for my lack of updating. Since the moment I've moved it's been nothing but ikea building, job-starting, Portland exploring madness. 

Having my mom move me here was wonderful. Although it was a tearful goodbye, she made the big move so much easier. We spent our days putting together Ikea furniture and exploring the city, and our nights eating dinner and drinking wine on the floor. I can't wait for her and the rest of the fam to get back up here!  

My blog posts have been sparse lately due to the fact that when I get home from work I just want to flop down on the couch and become immobile haha. I wake up at 6 am and normally don't get home until around 5:30 pm so it's quite a long day. Although the days are long I absoultely love my job. The people I work with are fun and fantastic and the work environment is fast paced and changing everyday which is perfect for me. I work on the 38th floor of the tallest building in Portland, so my view is incredible. Having a big-girl job is pretty great afterall ;)

I'll spare you the gushy talk, but being near Thomas is perfect. We spend our weeknights going for runs and walks around my neighborhood, cooking together, and watching our favorite shows. Our weekends are normally pretty packed because there is so much to do!! Even if we're here for a couple years it's hard to imagine getting to do everything we want. We've been to Mt. Hood and the Oregon coast, but there is still Mount St. Helens, tons of trails and waterfalls I want to see, several hot springs, and more of the coast. Portland is overflowing with amazing restaurants, sweet shops, breweries, bars, and boutiques. I'm trying to save money but it's so hard in this town! I'll do a post coming up of a few great places I've already been to. 

Today I'm off to take some pictures of Portland to blow up and hang on my walls :) I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. XO

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Beitostølen Ski Weekend

Our last weekend in Norway we headed North for a ski weekend in Beitostølen with two other couples. The biggest snowfall all month happened that weekend, so I was preparing for a winter wonderland and sugar powder slopes. That's exactly what we got! When Thomas's friend pulled up to his family cabin it was the cutest thing in the world. A rustic wooden cabin with a wrap around porch and pristine views of the mountains we would be skiing down in the upcoming days. We immediately started up the wood burning stove because it was freezing! It's amazing how fast those heat up a room. If it's burning for too long you'll be sweating! After we got settled, we put on our cross-country ski gear. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself. When Thomas first took me cross-country skiing when I got to Norway I was pretty bad. Norwegians are born with ski's on their feet, so I think it's expected for an American to be awful lol. Cross country skiing takes a lot more skill and technique than downhill skiing. So after I practiced three or four times I was prepared for this weekend when other people would be watching me haha. The area we skied around his cabin was absolutely beautiful. That night we sat around drinking and playing Norwegian charades. Poor Thomas had me on his team so they had to give us extra time so he could explain the word in English! haha I was definitely the weakest link. We went to bed at a decent hour because in the morning we were heading to the slopes for downhill!

I've been downhill skiing two other times in my life, but I was still really nervous! I knew it would take me a couple rounds to get back in the swing of things...and I was right. First off let me tell you about the ski lift. The other times I went skiing the lift was like a bench that ,picked you up. Well this one was not. This one was like a plate thing that you put in between your legs and it would propel you forward. Thomas didn't explain to me how it worked, so with a line of about 50 people behind me I go up to the lift, put the plate thing in between my legs and go to sit. All of a sudden I'm being dragged with my ski's going everywhere and people yelling "LET GO"! haha  so embarrassing. You're not suppose to sit apparently. The plate thing rests on your butt and the line propels you forward. So once that catastrophe happened everything was good to go ;) Being on top of the mountains was absolutely amazing. We were above the clouds, the sun was shining, and the slopes had soft powdery snow. I was so sore afterwards though! It puts your body through a lot. Especially if you fall a few times lol

So after a long day of skiing, came the part I've been hearing all about...AFTER SKI. After skiing, people go in their ski clothes to a bar. Since drinks are so expensive in Norway, we went back to the cabin for a little bit. We drank our Jagermeister  that had been chilling in the snow for days. After we all started being silly we walked to "after ski". It was the most fun ever. It was so nice that nobody cared what they looked like! I shook my booty in baggy ski pants all night ;) It was such an incredible weekend and I can't wait to get back on the slopes again. 

I'm Participating in Travel Tuesday over at A Compass Rose. Go check out the adventures that other bloggers are having :)

Cabin Getaway in Norway

I love how in Norway most families have a cabin. It's a place where you can escape on the weekends with family and friends to ski in winter or soak up the sun in the summer. It's usually up in the mountains or in a more secluded place in the woods or on a lake. Thomas's family cabin is right on the edge of a big beautiful lake.

The day we arrived, the temperature dropped and we got a huge snowfall. There's nothing more beautiful than the fresh white snow coating the trees and the rooftops. Their cabin is a TRUE cabin lol. In the summer the water comes from the lake for showers etc., but in the winter time it's a whole new ballgame. They took an ax to the lake close to the shore and we had to scoop up the water and then use it to wash dishes or heat up to wash ourselves. It's kind of fun to do it for a few days but I couldn't do it much longer than that lol. 

First things first we had to get food to stock the fridge for the weekend. A lot of Norwegians head over the Swedish border in order to save money on things such as alcohol and meat, so that's exactly what we did! The Swedish border is only an hour from the cabin, and even though we didn't see much of Sweden I wanted to say that I've been there! Now I've been to all of Scandinavia :)  We got a lot of food for rib-sticking meals like Cabbage, potato, and sausage soup and oxtail stew. It's so cozy to sit in front of the wood burning stove eating comfort food. 

We spent our days ice skating on the lake and riding the "kicker". Being a Florida girl I've never seen much snow much less walked and skated on a frozen lake! Such a cool experience. We went from one end to the other telling stories and showing off our pirouette skills ;) We were in one in-depth conversation and all of sudden the toe of my skate got stuck and I went down hard lol. Complete face plant. Slightly embarrassing haha. So instead of getting up, we both just laid on the snow and ice and took it all in. 

Also, you can't stay in a cabin and not play board and card games. Our nights were spent playing Yahtzee and Othello and getting drunk of cheap white wine. I have to say though, he had an unfair advantage because Yahtzee was in Norwegian. That's the only reason he won ;) 

The one thing I'm sad about is the fact that I didn't see a moose :( We rode around at dusk to try and spot one but no luck. We did see a few deer though so that was nice! Overall it was a perfect  weekend getaway and I can't wait to go back in the summertime.

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I'm participating in #WeekendWanderlust over at A Brit and A Southerner 
Go over and check it out!! Have a great weekend. XO

Danish Cuisine

You know me! Everywhere we go we're searching for best local food, Denmark's capital city Copenhagen is home to 15 Michelin star restaurants among these the best restaurant in the world, Noma. Although we couldn't afford Noma (one day!), we did try some of the most popular Danish dishes. Smørrebrød, which is an open faced sandwich, is the common lunch fare served on rye bread with plenty of delicious toppings. If that doesn't satisfy you, then stop by one of the many hot dog stands around Copenhagen. 

The first day we wanted to try out Aamanns. Aamanns carries out the tradition of open faced sandwiches but takes it to a super cool level, while remaining truly Danish - sild (herring), ost (danish cheese), or tartarmad (raw beef) for example. We tried four different ones and they were all amazing. Try it with a danish beer or schnapps which is very common in Denmark. 

Since going to Copenhagen was our Christmas gift to each other, we wanted to share a really good meal. We had discussed going to Noma, but we decided to save a little money and go to Oliver and the Black Circus. Plus, more money for drinks ;) Oliver and the Black Circus is tucked away, cozy, and hip without trying too hard. The interior was designed with back lit bricks, blackboard painted walls and ceilings with chalk art, sofa-like booths, and tons of candles. We had a five-course meal and instead of doing wine pairing we chose to do hand-crafted cocktails. SO GOOD! Dishes in order 1) Squid (with squid ink!) 2) Steamed mussels 3) Root vegetables 4) Pork cheek 5) Cheese plate 6) Dessert, I had cucumber granite with ice cream and Thomas had chocolate mouse 

København

Since Thomas left for Norway before Christmas we didn't have a chance to give each other gifts. Then we had a better idea and said that we should just save our money on gifts and put it toward a trip together while we are in Norway. So we chose Copenhagen, Denmark. Known as one of the coolest cities in Scandinavia and I would have to agree. Did you know Denmark is considered the happiest country on earth? I thought that was cute :) It's also glittered in Michelin stars, cute colored buildings, and bikes galore. 

We used Airbnb for this trip and it is great! I'm going to do a post for my first "Travel Tip Tuesday" on how great Airbnb is and why you should use it. So for this trip, our apartment for 3 days was right in the center of the city. We were walking or bike riding distance from all of the sights that we wanted to see which makes a trip so much more enjoyable because you don't have to worry about transportation.

The first day we didn't have a lot of time before it got dark, so we had a walk around our area. I love the winding streets with the buildings changing color around every corner. We walked to the Round Tower which you pay just a small fee to walk to the top to get great views of the city. We of course had to take a picture at the famous "kissing bench" in the tower ;) After that we walked to this  AMAZING food market next to our apartment. Fresh seafood and meat, bakeries, cheese shops, spice stands, and sweets galore.  Some people might think this is silly, but my favorite part of a trip is the food and experiencing the culture through food. It's going to be a tough day for me when my metabolism starts slowing down lol. At the market, we decided to buy stuff to make mussels, roasted chicken, and eggplant parmesan. 

The next day it was awful weather. We slept in late because there's nothing better than sleeping while the rain splashes on the windows. And since we didn't feel like getting soaked and being cold we decided to stay in and watch Godfather II. Is that bad? lol we're in this wonderful city and we stayed inside and watched a movie. Sometimes cuddling is more appealing than braving the storm ;) That night we made reservations at Oliver and the Black Circus. I'm going to do a separate post on that because it's a lot of food pics! Since this was our Christmas gift, this was a big part of our trip. I've been wanting to go to a restaurant where you have a lot of courses, so this was perfect. 

The last day was our big sight-seeing day. We rented bikes which was so fun! It's such an efficient and great way to experience a city. We stopped by the royal castle, the mermaid statue, and Nyhavn. Nyhavn translates to "new harbour" and its the cutest place ever. Brightly colored houses, shops, and bars line the water gateway into the city. Our last stop was Mikkeller brewery. When I worked at World of Beer, it was always a good day when we would get a Mikkeller beer in, so I couldn't wait to try the real deal. We had a perfect trip and I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift :)

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Misfortune Turned to Perfection

We left for the train station at 6:30 am to head back home from Bergen. Thomas and booked a trian ride through the mountains because it's suppose to be one of the most beautiful rides throughout Norway. Keep in mind that the night before we were out pretty late and our minds and bodies were a bit foggy. So, when we finally settled down in our roomy seats on the train we both fell asleep. An hour and a half later the train comes to a complete halt. The terrible storm that had swiped the western part of Norway had made the train tracks unusable. Thank God for Thomas because if I had been backpacking alone or something I wouldn't have known what the hell was going on! The bus driver wasn't speaking any English which seems crazy to me since obviously a lot of tourists would be taking this train ride. They told us we would be getting on a bus that would take close to 12 hours opposed to the 7 hours is was suppose to take on the train. 12 long, cramped hours. We trudged off the train into the rainy cold to get on the bus, but I was immediately taken back at how beautiful the scenery was. We had stopped in Voss, which if you've ever had an overpriced Voss water that supposedly trickles down from a glacier than you would know what I'm talking about. 

The 12 hour bus ride was completely worth it. I got to see more of Norway, more snow than I've ever seen before, and pristine winter landscapes. Plus, we had brought a whole bag of snacks and sandwiches! I felt so bad for the other people because we only stopped once at a convenience store. Isn't it great when something you think is misfortunate  turns out to be an adventure? :)