It’s been a month since I’ve been back in San Francisco. And as much as I love my city, that doesn’t mean that I’m not still mourning the end of my vacation, and also eagerly planning my next adventure. Costa Rica & Panama for Christmas 2015 anyone? Sorry, mom and dad.
Writing this blog post is difficult for many reasons. It takes me back to Oslo, back to Gothenburg, back to Stockholm and Prague, and it reminds me of the times I had that I now hold so dear to my heart but yet remain so far away. And also it reminds me of my insatiable desire to keep moving. In a place as comfortable and familiar as home, we easily slip back into the grind, which so often does not include those pieces of adventure that keep our heart hungry. It is this that makes these “normal” times difficult, when I remember that doing what I love requires alternate cycles of real life and hard work.
But the good news is, that these cycles keep me motivated, and motivation should not be lacking for any one of us. If there’s one thing my recent trip taught me, it is to take nothing for granted and to have no regrets. Taking a 3 week vacation away from work was a bold move, so it was a priority of mine to make sure that I deserved it, both professionally and personally.
So today I share with you my stories. That is what this is all about, isn’t it?
Oslo was refreshing. And not only because it was my first stop on a long vacation after a stretch of stress at home. But because it’s a city of sincerity. Oslo is a quaint city, not overwhelming, but also not lacking in depth. It’s real, not drained by the city hustle or boring as the stereotypes say, but overflowing with all the right kinds of character. And that is all reflected in its people. Being in Oslo felt like re-visiting a city I called home in a previous life.
A day that embodied this most was spent running Frogner park in the early morning drizzle, wandering back through the castle grounds to my spectacularly clean hostel near the Fortress, before heading out to Gronland for a tasty Turkish lunch feast. An afternoon stop for coffee led me toward the oldest building in Oslo, for a quiet afternoon stroll and a sanctuarial escape from the distractions back home, before I ended the evening with too much beer at a local microbrewery.
Being in Oslo made me comfortable pretending to be local. In Gothenburg, I was local. In my eyes, I was the only tourist, and in the eyes of others, I wasn’t even a tourist at all. A smaller and less-traveled city, Gothenburg was an open book.
I enjoyed Gothenburg because it was safe and homey, but at the same time provided me with ample opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. Rather than mechanically bobbling about the city sites like a tourist with my nose in my guidebook, my time there was relaxed. I walked everywhere. I shopped, of course. I watched a half marathon. I walked along the river, and read in the park. I went to the grocery store, and actually saved money rather than overspending. I treated myself to the best shrimp sandwich that will ever graze my lips. And I stayed with a local family, sleeping in their extra bedroom, sharing their bathroom, and struggling with their door each time I came and went.
Stockholm surprised me in many ways. Its size, its people, its cleanliness, its food 😉 and its energy. And while it was my favorite stop this time around, I have few words to say about it. Perhaps this is because I just can’t quite put my finger on it.
During my 7 days in Stockholm, it became my home. Even coming back to my hipster hostel at the end of the day where I had to take my shoes off before entering, people stole my breakfast, and I shared bathrooms with basically everyone, I was more than content. Of course, I started my week on sightseeing overload because I couldn’t bare to return home having missed something, but I slowly settled into a feeling of longing to call this city my own. I met awesome people, and made lasting friendships.
Shiny – Hope to see you soon, whether in SF or Munich 🙂
Eda – Thoughts on Havana, Cuba marathon 2016?
Kelsey – We MUST hang out next time I am in LA!
Lee – I better see you out here in SF this fall!
I explored trendy neighborhoods, sat in parks watching Swedes being cool, and ate shrimp and Chokladboll until it came out of my nose. Not even racing 42 kilometers in the freezing rain could ruin my time in Stockholm.
And then there was Prague. And Prague was a whole different animal. Here’s why:
- Prague is cheap. Scandinavia is not. I definitely planned this trip in the correct order. I also definitely ate way too many dumplings, and drank way too much dark beer. But it’s just so good there! I’m still recovering…
- Prague was hectic. This was the first time I felt like I could classify my trip that way. The tourist count was off the charts in Prague, and it was hot as hell. This made for an interesting week.
- Being in Prague meant spending 6 days with both my mother and my roommate. This was also interesting. I love them both dearly, but I maintain the position that traveling alone is immensely underrated.
- Prague was also the most historically engaging. I still have so much yet to learn. It was a treat to explore, and a lovely city to spend so much time getting to know.
“motivation: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”
Do something. Do something today. Do something this year. Do something this lifetime. Whatever it is and wherever it takes you, enjoy it.
And here are some trip highlights for those of you who really care. Please excuse the lack of accents 8) …
- Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri
- BIT (make your own salad #soSF #bae)
- Gamle Aker Kirke
- Bogstadveien (shopping)
- Frogner Park & Vigelandsparken
- Akershus Festning (grounds only)
- City Hall (better inside than out)
- Feskekorka ***
- Haga neighborhood
- Slottskogen & zoo (Great for running)
- Avenyn (Kungsportsavenyen)
- Coop Konsum (great grocery)
- Sodermalm & Sofo (Meatballs for the People!)
- Fotografiska (best museum in the city)
- Stadshuset (great tour)
- Ostermalms Saluhall
- Djurgarden & Sjocafeet
- City Backpackers Hostel
- Taste of Prague food tour (must-do!)
- Jewish Quarter
- Letna Beer Garden
- Lokal (traditional Czech)
- Nase Maso (butcher shop)
- Den Noc (pancakes…)
- Cafe Savoy (breakfast, dessert, all the things)
- Mandarin Oriental (mushroom soup is to die for!)
- Giovanni’s pizza in Old town
- (all we did was eat)