Monday, December 14, 2015

A Weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden

The weekend in Gothenburg was a nice mix of being out-and-about and relaxing in Kat's cozy apartment.

Kat lives in a condemned building, which is quite beautiful. It is historic and the owners chose to not sell it to the government when many buildings were torn down and newer buildings were put up. These older, more traditional buildings have been named as historical buildings now and restorations cannot be made. It's interesting. There are two apartments on Kat's floor and the two tenants share a toilet, which is in a small closet in the stairwell. The shower is in the basement and is shared by everyone in the building.

My first full day was quite rainy, so a trip to a museum was the perfect activity. Kat took me to the Sjofarts Museum (Sjofartsmuseet Akvariet). The museum was originally the maritime museum and is in an old shipyard, along the wharf. Many of the immigrants that left Sweden for America left from the port in Gothenburg. There is currently an exhibition called The American Line, which shows and tells people's stories of immigration.

The museum also contains an aquarium! I really liked the guy shown below... it's like he's giving Swedish fish kisses! Ha! (...mostly in reference to Swedish fish, the candies, which I love, and fish lips.)

I found Nemo!

Cute street decorated for the holidays.
The buildings along this street were very beautiful too - old and traditional.

We went up to the 23rd floor of one of the Gothia Towers for an incredible view of the city (and the Liseberg Amusement Park!). There is a restaurant as well as a bar on the floor and there is almost a 360-degree view. Beautiful.   : )

Fun reflection:

I had a 4-hour layover in the Paris airport:

Visiting Kat - Gothenburg, Sweden

For the Thanksgiving weekend, I went to see my friend Kat in Gothenburg, Sweden! It was a GREAT weekend.

Kat is a friend of mine from my time in Saigon, Vietnam. She moved to Florence during my first winter in Milan and stayed with me for a weekend when she first arrived. I then went to visit her in Florence that spring! This is the first time I've seen her since then. (Funny enough, looking at the two blog posts that I wrote about these visits with Kat in Italy, linked above, the first photo of each is very similar to one another -- if I had realized that before seeing her in Gothenburg, I would have made sure to have taken a third!)

It was so nice to see Kat again and have a weekend to catch up and hang out. I really enjoyed seeing Gothenburg. I like what I know of the Nordic countries... and I love their concept of 'cozy'.

My first evening, we went to see a friend of Kat's play in a show. 
I really enjoyed it! The venue was small and beautiful and the band was great!
Easy October

I liked this message on the baggage claim belt:

The perfect reading afternoon.
Rainy outside, cozy and festive inside.

The cute Kat, knitting while we had a cozy, rainy afternoon  : )

Coffee time with the Moomin mugs.  : )

Moomin is a comic book character in a Finnish cartoon. After my trip to Copenhagen last year, I purchased some of the Moomin books for my school library -- they've been very popular! The mugs are expensive but a very cute collectible.

Dinner my last night was a yummy schmorgesborg (there's a Swedish word for you!) of holiday treats. We had ginger snaps, gummy/marshmallow Santas, and traditional bread rolls. We also had a special holiday drink called Christmas Must, which is similar to Coca Cola but has a more flavorful taste (and is only sold around the winter holidays!).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Where's the respect??

Layered and buttoned up for the winter weather this afternoon, I hopped on a bus for two stops since the bus' timing was perfect.

A man that got on at the same time began talking to me. I told him that I don't speak much Italian. Turns out, we got off the bus at the same stop. He hurried to catch up to me and kept trying to talk to me and ask me questions. ...Do you have a husband? ...A boyfriend? ...Why not?!

He asked me to go for a coffee with him, to which my answer was, "No." I then said goodbye to him (for the second time) and crossed the street at the upcoming crosswalk. THE GUY FOLLOWED ME. I was trying to be nice but seriously should have told him at that point to go away.

He continued talking to me and I continued telling him that I do not understand... I do not speak Italian. Thankfully, I veered away from him to go towards my building and once again said goodbye to the guy. At that point, he asked in Italian if he could "service me" and then followed up with one English word, "Sex?"

SERIOUSLY?! Has that ever worked?!


DuoLingo - Free Italian Lessons

I like the (free!) app, DuoLingo, for practicing Italian. It offers a variety of languages. I think it helps to have a bit of basic knowledge in a language before using DuoLingo but it's a great way to practice a foreign language and learn new vocabulary. The lessons take just a few minutes complete and there's a cute owl character that reminds you to practice each day.

Some of the phrases are funny and/or bizarre. I remember once translating a sentence into English and it turned out to be: There is a knife in my boot. (What?!?) Below are some of my recent favorites:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Lunch Date: Short Film

Garth Stein is a best-selling author. His novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, stayed on The New York Times best-seller list for 3 years! The director at my school loves this novel and contacted Garth last year. He is now set to be an author-in-residence at ASM for a week this February!

He seems to do it all: best-selling author, film producer, playwright, amateur racer, cook... etc.

Before becoming a writer, Garth was a film producer and has a Masters in Fine Arts degree in film. He co-produced the short film below. It won an academy award in 1991! I really love this film. It is worth 10 minutes of your time to watch.   : )

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm currently in the Amsterdam airport, on a layover heading to visit the lovely Kat in Gothenburg! She is a good friend of mine from my time living in Saigon. She is back home now and it will be my first time to Sweden.

I saw two students from school in the Linate airport in Milan... and then sat right next to one on my first flight! Small world. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Below is my last post about the long weekend I spent in Budapest. ...What a great city!

Carrie noticed this man walking while pulling two huge sacks of potatoes along behind him (picture above). A bit further on... we saw more people doing the same thing. THEN... our walking tour stopped by a semi truck that was unloading these sacks and handing them out. We asked the tour guide and she said that it was political -- the local government gives out potatoes.

Some gorgeous views around the city:


Friday, November 20, 2015


The Flipper Pinball Museum is GREAT. Especially for an activity to do on a rainy day, which is exactly what Carrie and I ended up with during our weekend in Budapest. Carrie read about this interactive museum on our flight from Milan to Budapest... at first I laughed... but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to visit!

You pay an entrance fee of about $10 or so and then it is unlimited play. YEAH!

There are 130 machines -- new, old, and in between. My favorite pinball game was probably The Hulk. I was even able to play a Pac-Man game that mixed pinball and the original joystick game on a screen.

We stayed and played for about an hour and then decided to go. It was a lot of fun and definitely worth the entrance price - but also quite noisy with so many machines going at once!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More from Budapest

I must say, I definitely enjoyed being able to get a pumpkin spice latte while in Budapest! Mmmmm

We found the most amazing gelato place in Budapest! They 'scoop' the ice cream into the cone in the shape of a rose. It's amazing, gorgeous, and artistic. On top of that... the gelato was some of the best I've ever had! If you ever find yourself in Budapest, I highly recommend Gelarto Rosa, address: Szent Istvan ter 3, District 5 - near the Basilica.

There are a few Alexandra Bookstores throughout Budapest... but only one (that I know of) that has this goooogeous bookcafe! Address: Andrassy ut 39, Pest, District 6
Funny enough, right after I took this photo, the power went out! Carrie and I were going to stay for a snack but we were told that they were having power issues and only the packaged, cold beverages and food were available. We were happy to have been able to get a glance at the lovely bookcafe and its ceiling/chandeliers lit up!

We went to a little pho place for lunch. It was delicious. I've missed pho and fresh spring rolls from my time living in Vietnam. Funky Pho, address: Mozsar u. 7

We had to go back again!

The flavors above are pumpkin and oreo. Oreo was my favorite... and pumpkin -- well, I just had to try it!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Szechenyi Thermal Bath - Budapest

There are a number of thermal baths throughout Budapest. The one that seemed to keep coming up as the top recommendation was the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. Carrie and I went there... and loved it! What an experience.

Szechenyi has the most indoor and outdoor pools out of all the baths and spas in Budapest. The pools range in temperature - there is usually a sign posted nearby letting you know the temperature before you get in. The sign often even tells you a time range of how long to stay in.

Our tour guide the day before on the walking tour said that people can get a prescription from their doctor for the baths and then get a large discount on the entry fee!

I read a bit about visiting the baths before going on the weekend trip. I'm glad that I packed a camping towel and flip flops (as well as, of course, a swimsuit). My favorite were definitely the outdoor pools.

The buildings were stunning. I love the yellow buildings with while columns against the blue/green water.

The pool shown below even had a whirlpool built in!

A couple of the indoor pools are shown below. Each room was different.

Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building is stunning. It sits along the Danube, is huge, ornate, and definitely impressive looking!

Very grey days when I visited but still gorgeous.
I took the photo below while walking across the chain bridge:

A panoramic photo taken from the back:

I mean, WOW!

This statue is in an open area to the side of the parliament building.
I loved the way it was reflected on the wet ground:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

BUDAPEST - Free Walking Tour

We had a long weekend in October and I went with Carrie, a teacher from school, to Budapest. It was a great trip! I enjoyed exploring the city even though the weather wasn't the greatest. We were actually lucky that it turned out to be not quite as rainy as predicted.

We arrived to the airport close to midnight on Friday. The next morning, we got up and started with a free walking tour of the city. Carrie and I went on the same type of free walking tour in Barcelona two years ago! I love the concept -- the tour is free and you can just walk up to join at the meeting spot each day. You are then asked to tip whatever you think the tour was worth at the end. I enjoyed the tour in Barcelona a bit more but this one was still a great way to see the city and get a general concept of the layout.

This bronze Little Princess Statue is along the Danube Promenade.
You can rub her knee as you pass by for good luck. 

There was another well-known statue in the city is the portly policeman seen below: 
You can rub his belly to supposedly be lucky in love (but our tour guide said that the little princess is the most photographed statue in Hungary).

Standing on the Pest side of the city looking at the more hilly Buda side:

We walked from the Pest side to the Buda side along the chain bridge seen below:

A lovely view of the Parliament building:

Matthias Church is in the Castle District of the Buda side of the city. 
We ended the tour near the beautiful church.