Tag Archives: Travel

On Internet Friendships

14 May

I don’t think I’ve done a post on this subject before but I believe it’s something that comes up for every blogger/person that lives as obnoxiously online like I do; or so I believe. I don’t like making the division between IRL friends and online friends. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t advertise my online life as such. My close friends know that I blog and tweet and whatnot but they don’t care too much for it. And for all the other people I know, explaining what blogging is and that I do it and why is just way too annoying so I just refer to people I meet on the internet as my friends.

Secondly, though I also believe that it doesn’t matter if you only communicate with this person over the internet because he/she is hundreds or thousands of miles away. They can still be good friends and sometimes even better than those ‘real’ people in your life. Just a recent example, Sunday was Mother’s Day. I don’t much care for this day, never have and never will because I’m just not a fan of doing anything just because everyone else is doing it. So my Gran got flowers today and not on Sunday. Even though it’s a stupid day in my opinion, it was the first Mother’s Day without my Mom. None of my friends said anything about that but as I was going to bed I got the sweetest tweet from Nicole sending me a gigantic virtual hug to counterbalance all the Mother’s Day craziness on social media. (Twitter and Facebook really went crazy that day.) This consideration blew me away, partly because I always suspect people I find to be really cool think of me as the annoying fifth wheel.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, after I delivered my flowers to Grandma she told me about her ‘friends’ grandkid who’s 16 that did/wanted to (idk I didn’t pay close attention) meet a man she met on the internet. And then she asked me who I was meeting in Edinburgh next month even though I told her it was another exchange student I met in Sweden. I know this is a lie but my Gran has absolutely no idea how the internet works and believes that everywhere we sign up online it’s for murderers and rapists to find us. I have no intention of ever explaining blogging/Twitter/tumblr and Facebook to her because I don’t think she would understand why we do these things and that not every person you meet online is a bad guy.

I trust my judgement enough to know that Anju is not going to hack me into pieces in Edinburgh and I also don’t know why this is such a big deal when she is okay with me traveling to Sweden on my own in July. I know she is doing so out of love and because she cares for me, but what does she think is going to happen? I’m flying there (done this many, many times even on my own), we’re going to stay in a hostel for 2 nights (more people to prevent axe-murdering) and visit the city, talk, take photos and have fun. I really cannot think of what terrible thing will happen to me because I chose to meet a person I know for almost 2 years now in comparison to going alone. I could just very well be making this weekend trip on my own, but honestly, then she would go crazy for a different reason.

Maybe I am a little bit naive but I believe there to be a certain ‘codex’ between bloggers. I mean, this is not some shady ICQ chatroom. When you’re a personal blogger like me, who mainly follows personal bloggers, you get to know the people you interact with most. Of course it is only a fraction of who they are as to what they reveal on the internet but still. People in real life can be murderers too, you know?! Just last week a woman my age was murdered by her boyfriend in my town. I didn’t know her but bestfriendboy did and he said I knew her cousin so there’s that. It’s a big deal because not many people get murdered here, we don’t even have out own homicide unit, they have to come in from the next bigger city.  What I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t matter where you know the friends you know from, there’s always the possibility of them having a secret you don’t know. If I meet someone in class at the university I have no way of knowing that he is NOT the next bloody face killer who secretly skins people in his basement. I have to trust my judgement and I have to do the same with the people I meet online.

I hope this made at least some sense, I’m trying to get back into blogger-groove which may take a while. Until then, have fun with my incoherent babbling.

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Fog and Queens – Abu Dhabi

25 Apr

This post is brought to you by me having travel feels. Is it June yet? No?? Ok, so I’ll have to tell you about an old trip then. Remember last week when I went on a cruise to Oman because my Mom was a huge fan of cruises? Well today’s destination stems from the same cruise, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arabic Emirates and the second largest city in the UAE. The biggest city would be Dubai and maybe I’ll get around to telling why I didn’t like Dubai. Abu Dhabi on the other hand, I did like. It’s a bit more old fashioned, not as nouveaux-riche as Dubai and thus a little bit more to my liking. Not everything needs to be loud and expensive, sometimes modesty is key and knowing where you came from. And as far as the UAE go, Abu Dhabi is more modest than Dubai.

We started the day with visiting the great, big Sheikh Zayed Mosque but it was so foggy that I didn’t see it.

You seeing that huge-ass mosque behind my Mom? Me neither.

You seeing that huge-ass mosque behind my Mom? Me neither.

From there we went to some place I don’t even remember. It had all sorts of crap, and cars and whatnot of the current/former/idk Sheikh on display. Not much to see.

And you shall bow to me as I am your Queen (or something like that)

And you shall bow to me as I am your Queen (or something like that)

Afterwards we went to the National Heritage Village though, which was very nice and educational. I enjoy seeing other cultures on display and here we were able to see how beduins live and much, much more. Also, it is green and is covered by nature which I tend to miss in big cities especially if they are as smog filled as the Emirates.

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I like the differences on display here; the old boat in the foreground and the new skyscrapers in the back.

Crappy lighting is crappy but I still like the photo.

Crappy lighting is crappy but I still like the photo.

Obligatory camel and beduin.

Obligatory camel and beduin.

I'm pretty sure the A/C was not a default feature in the old days.

I’m pretty sure the A/C was not a default feature in the old days.

On a bicycle through Muscat

18 Apr

My late mother was a huge fan of cruises which resulted in me seeing a lot of places for a short period of time and not feeling the need to step onto a cruise ship in the foreseeable future. A couple of years ago we cruised around the United Arabic Emirates (UAE) so here it comes.

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One of the places the cruise ship stopped was Muscat, Oman and I really liked it there. It wasn’t as hectic as Dubai and the other places we visited before, instead it was rather small, smog-free and quiet. What also added to my positive attitude towards this city was the fact that I took a bike ride instead of the dreadful bus tours and it was one of the best things I did on any cruise ever.

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Due to Muscat not being that big and it being a city in the middle east we were only allowed to take a very specific route through the city. We weren’t even allowed to ride our bikes from the ship through the harbour, we had to put them on a truck while we rode a shuttle until we were out of the harbour. It actually wasn’t that big and it would have been no problem to let us ride through it on our way in and out but whatever. In comparison to all the other annoying security things I had to endure during visits in the near and middle east, this was one of the better encounters.

What up, Sultan?

What up, Sultan?

After getting out of the harbour we rode along empty streets, the coastline, saw old castles and even rode our bikes right in front of the Sultan’s Palace. Our group was even photographed by the royal photographer but I suspect that had other reasons than us being amazing and friendly tourists.

I hate it when tourists hijack my pictures. (Never mind that I am a tourist myself) How rude!

I hate it when tourists hijack my pictures. (Never mind that I am a tourist myself) How rude!

Riding a bike through the city was weird in a good way. The people are not used to seeing cyclists like they are in Germany or other countries, it’s just not that common there. So we were looked at with amusement and curiosity while everyone was also really friendly. This stuck with me, even after years, friendly people and what more is there to take away from visiting a foreign country?

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I saw incredibly blue skies and waters, rode a bike through the middle east and encountered lovely people. I was content.

Niagara Falls *flail*

4 Apr

It’s not difficult or takes long to get to Niagara Falls from Toronto so that’s what we did towards the end of our stay in Canada. And it was the best thing we could possibly had saved for almost last. We decided on Coach Canada for means of transportation and it was pretty cheap and an easy way to get there.

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We did this after Labour Day weekend which meant, after the official end of tourist season so when we got to Niagara Falls around 3pm the last Maid of the Mist boat just returned without us. We were a little bummed because this is THE tourist-y thing to do there and we missed it. Alas, we found something even better.

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The Journey Behind the Falls. It’s cheaper, it doesn’t sway and you can get close to the Falls to take pretty pictures for as long as you want…or…you know…until the whole thing closes down. There are also two tunnels dug into the rocks where you can stand behind the Falls as the water rushes down mere inches in front of you. Which is amazing! The sheer force of the water falling down in front of you, breathtaking.  As we got to one of the tunnels, a couple of black ladies were right up front singing and dancing. What a crazy sight but I liked it. Not sure if they were doing a rain dance or something similar. Just keep on rocking, girls!

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There are the American and the Canadian Falls, the Canadian’s are also known as Horseshoe Falls and they are way cooler than the Americans. Sorry USA. Since my friends and I are european, we could not just go over the border and look at it from the other side as it would have meant immigrating to the US for us. And that costs money, needs an online application, a sacrificial goat slaughtering and whatnot. Doesn’t matter because you get a better view from the Canadian side anyway.

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I was never good at following instructions.
Danger? LOL, WHUT??!!

We were lucky, it was a beautiful day, clear blue sky. We saw a lot of rainbows which is nice. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing rainbows?? It couldn’t have been better than that, except for the malicious gull stealing A’s cheese croissant right out of her hand. That thing was quick and angry and I’m glad it was not the half of my croissant.

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To pass time until it got dark and the light show started, we ate dinner at Planet Hollywood because you can go into a Hard Rock Cafe everywhere in Europe, PH was a bit more exotic for us. The place was a little run down though, to be honest. Nevertheless we had a good time.

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When it got dark we went outside again because the Falls get illuminated and it’s so damn pretty!! Still not over the beauty of it! I wish I’d had a tripod to take nice pictures but I didn’t so most pictures I took are a bit shaky and unfocused. I could have stood there for hours, listening to the sound of the water as it rushed over the abyss while it shone in all colours of the rainbow. Another place I need to visit again. I just love everything concerning big amounts of water in nature.

DSC_0302And this concludes the recount of my trip to Canada. I had a blast, saw amazing things and added new cities to my “Visit Again”-list.

Travel On My Mind

28 Mar

Maybe it’s because I’m taking a trip down memory lane every week to write about the traveling I did or the fact that I just have itchy-feet by nature, but my mind is in full travel mode at the moment. It could also just be because it’s much more fun to make travel plans than write a thesis. Or those pesky Facebook friends talking and posting pictures of their recent trips. Or a combination of all of the above.

Last sunday I booked the first flights for part 2 of my summer travel plans. On Friday I heard back from my Swedish Friend Family and basically got the go signal, saying that yes, I can come visit them for when I had planned to do so. And holy cow am I excited!!!! I’m going back to Sweden at the end of June!!! It may only be for 9 days but better than nothing. Also, summer in Sweden, yay!!! I’ve only been there in fall and winter so far and this will be exciting.

Me in Skansen

Me in Skansen

First I’m going to Stockholm to do all the outdoor things it was too cold for in January when I was there the first time. I did visit Skansen but most of it was covered in snow so I’ll be going there again, and Djurgården. I also want to visit Drottningholm because there wasn’t enough time to do it before. And a tour through Skärgården by boat. There is just so much to see and do. Like eating hamburgers at MAX because I miss them dearly and there is a MAX at every corner in Stockholm. What can I say, I’m a sucker for fast food and their original hamburger sauce is delicious!

After Stockholm I’ll get on the train to visit my lovely friend family which came to visit me last year. I’m going to be back in Växjö, staying at their stuga (summer home) which is neatly located by a lake. All I’m hoping for now is good weather and for it to finally be June so I can go back to my adopted home country. I just want to go home!!!

I understand that Sweden is not technically my home but it feels like going home. I loved my five months there and miss the people, some of the foods and the language. Ha, in preparation for my trip I’ll watch the Saltkråkan movies of Astrid Lindgren again. In Swedish of course, but with subtitles!

This is not all I’m planning right now though. If everything works out, I’ll be meeting a blogger friend in Scotland right after I handed in my thesis in June and am a free woman! I’ve only been to Morley and Leeds as far as Great Britain goes so this is also really exciting for me. Hell, everything is exciting when it comes to traveling. That’s actually part 1 for anyone who even cares for this weird numbering I’m doing here.

Trip 3 is also still not confirmed but wanted desperately. Bestfriendboy and me will *fingerscrossed* go to London for a week and then travel another week somewhere in the countryside. There are no elaborate plans yet and we can’t do anything until late July because he’s busy being a musician beforehand. I know what I’ll be doing in London an it’s surroundings though, praying that Wicked is running so I can see it in the right language and also because it’s currently not running in Germany. Then, the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. It looks so amazing!!! Also, of course all the touristy things one can do in London. Bestfriendboy already visited most of them but well, he just has to do it again and I know he’s fine with it because he loves London.

And these are my plans for the summer after I finally graduate from university! Hell yeah, June can’t get here fast enough! What are your plans? Anything exciting on the travel horizon?

Sorry, this post was mostly so I could get my fangirling out. I apologize for overusing the word ‘excitement’ and the many, many exclamation marks.

Toronto – The Place My Inner Fangirl Nearly Fainted

21 Mar

It’s thursday again which is good because it means the week is coming to an end. This week’s post will take you to Toronto, the largest city in Canada. In a way, this was like stepping into a different world coming from sweet and small Ottawa to the big city. Our hotel was close to Yonge Street where most of the action lies. Also our room was conveniently located so that I could see the CN Tower from bed. Completely awesome!

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We got to Toronto in the evening but were restless from sitting on a train for hours and also desperate to see the city so we went out to do some exploration which ended up with us on top of the CN Tower at night. I can only recommend this, because the city looked beautiful at night and I believe that it’s far more interesting to see it in the dark than during the day. It also meant we didn’t have to stand in line or wait for anything as not a lot of people were there.

Isn't it magnificent??

Isn’t it magnificent??

The next day we just walked around and explored the city some more. There is just so much to see and it’s lovely. I will definitely go back to Toronto one day.

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Now, as a regular reader of my blog, you may know how much I adore Tina Fey. She started her career with The Second City in Chicago so when I came out of the shower one evening and A told me the friend of her’s we were going to meet in Toronto (they met during our study abroad in Sweden only N was there the term after me so we never met) proposed to go see a show at The Second City, Toronto I nearly fainted. MAJOR FANGIRL MODE!!! Thank god the other two agreed that this was a neat idea so we went to see “We’ve Totally (probably) Got This!” and I laughed so hard it was amazing!! This is my highlight for Toronto! Take all the cool things this city has to offer, combine them and I’m happy with TSC.

I was a good girl and too startsruck to at least take a picture of the stage before the show started but here's proof that I actually was in my personal fangirl heaven.

I was a good girl and too starstruck to at least take a picture of the stage before the show started but here’s proof that I actually was in my personal fangirl heaven.

While we were in Toronto the tiff (Toronto International Film Festival) was also happening there at the time and as we left TSC we ran into lots of people standing in front of theatres because celebrities were arriving there. We stood with them for a while, trying to make out who was there but the truth is, we couldn’t see anyone. It was still great though because a lot of famous people were in town at the same time as we were.

We were there, it counts, right?!

We were there, it counts, right?!

Another day we walked around China Town but that was too much for this small-town girl. Too many bright signs and shops and people and it smelled different…let’s just say I was glad to get out of there. Also, again, we did this walking part when it was warmest and there was basically no wind so yeah, not a great combination.

Don't get me wrong, it's pretty cool but so different.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty cool but so different.

We stopped by another university where B stepped on a stranger’s foot and the stranger apologised. I love you Canadians!! From the bottom of my heart, you are awesome!

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I know I shouldn’t find this as funny as I do but I can’t help myself. Also, it doesn’t get more canadian than this, does it?

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Next stop, Niagara Falls. So. Much Water!

Ottawa – Where I became a Supreme Court Justice

14 Mar

Welcome to another instalment of Travelling Thursday on this little blog. Today I take you with me to Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

I was kind of glad to leave Québec City behind me, mostly for language reasons because being in Ottawa meant being in another province – Ontario – where most people speak English. Ottawa was specially picked to be the capitol because it’s right on the border of Québec, only separated through a river and thus as close to the French part of the country as possible while also being away from the US border. Canada has two official languages, English and French so everything in Ottawa is bilingual, kind of like Montréal only here, the english description is on top followed by a smaller french version. Leaving the province of Québec also meant leaving a cheap and tourist friendly public transport system behind. Ontario is not as gracious and a bit more expensive so we tried using the bus as seldom as possible whereas we used the hell out of our prepaid cards in QC.

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Ottawa is not big and full of government buildings and offices. Also museums. Only, we were slobs and didn’t manage to visit one single museum *facepalm* We did visit the Parliament and Supreme Court though. We got to Ottawa right before Labour Day and stayed until after Labour Day. I mention this because it changes a lot of things, like where to register for a tour of the Parliament or the fact that you actually have to register for a tour of the Supreme Court as Labour Day marks the end of tourist season or something like that.

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The tour of the Parliament was fantastic, free and we didn’t have to register for anything. We just showed up and waited a couple of minutes for the next tour. Our guide was probably a law student and she did her thing very well.

Rule Britannia!

Rule Britannia!

For the tour of the Supreme Court we had to register in advance which we didn’t actually do (see above) and it was also free. However we wrote the visitor’s centre an e-mail the day before we wanted to go there because after Labour Day, there are no scheduled regular tours. It was not a problem even though we didn’t end up being on a list, they still let us in. There wasn’t as much to see as in the Parliament but there was a nice photo-op where we were allowed to dress in judges robes and sit in their seats. Actually, this was my highlight for Ottawa.

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We also managed to see the last instalment of the Mosaika Sound and Light Show on Parliament Hill. So. Worth. Seeing! I only managed to take crappy pictures as I didn’t have a tripod and it was dark but the thing was amazing and I can only recommend seeing it, before Labour Day that is ;-)

Other than that, we spent one day by the outdoor pool of our hotel partly because the weather was nice, we were relaxing before getting to Toronto and we had to do laundry.

Yes, we were actually drying part of our clothes by the pool ad not everything is tumbler approved.

Yes, we were actually drying part of our clothes by the pool as not everything is tumbler approved.

There is also a fantastic and huge bookshop I could have spent days inside only I didn’t have the time to do so. There is a lot to see in Ottawa if you like museums which I don’t mind but just picking one out of the many was a hard thing to do. Also, one day it was too hot to walk there the other day it rained like crazy and we needed another bus pass to go there as they were technically in Québec or exact change in coins. I don’t know. It was just a bit too much logistics involved. I actually don’t mind that we didn’t go to a single museum. Sure, it would have been nice but museums are also much alike, at least the standard Natural History and what-are-their-name ones. It was nice to have some downtime as it was after all a holiday and we knew we would have a lot to see in Toronto.

At least we saw some museums from afar ;-)

At least we saw some museums from afar ;-)

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