One dog, one man, one woman, one birthday, one vacation, one week, plenty of mountain tops.
When we started dating, Erik and I, we talked about all the places we wanted to visit. New York was on the top of his list, him claiming it to be the best place on earth without even having been there. It is more meat on the bones claiming that after a visit, so surely we had to go.
For Erik's birthday I got him that trip to the big apple. Awfully generous some might say, but seeing as it was a present I got to enjoy as much as him (ok, maybe he enjoyed it more than I did when looking at the bank statement), it was totally worth it.
The hotel we stayed at is called Z NYC Hotel, which is located in Long Island City, very close to Roosevelt Island. I get the appeal of staying in Manhattan, sure, but for us the location was great. It is walking distance (if you like us enjoy walking) to Manhattan and the hotel also offered free shuttle bus in to Manhattan. Plus it was heaps cheaper than any hotel I could find at the same standard in Manhattan. The only fault with the hotel I'd say was the hotel breakfast, not much to brag about.
Our feet were hurting after the first day. We were sure that we must’ve wandered most of Manhattan, but tracing our route on a map we figured we had only been walking a rather small amount of Manhattan. Man, that place is HUGE! The shuttle bus dropped us off close to the south east corner of Central Park and given the lovely sunny weather, what better place to properly start our New York experience? We walked around there a couple of hours, thinking we’d seen most of it but of course we hadn’t. A huge place like Manhattan needs a matching huge park. From there we made our way down towards midtown and Times Square.
The next day we visited Ground Zero which was quite special. I think everyone who is old enough to properly remember the event, remember it so well it almost seems impossible that it is 17 years ago! I think they have created a lovely memorial that honors the victims well, it was quite emotional seeing all the names of the people who died inscribed into the bronze panels edging the Memorial pools.
Whilst in the financial district we of course had to go by Wall Street, which we did after a visit to the One World Trade Center. We made our walk down to East River and stopped by Pisillo Italian Panini on the way to grab each our sandwich and then by Starbucks for some seasonal Christmas Lattes. We enjoyed our lunch by the riverbank.
I had found Pisillo Italian Panini on Tripadvisor, where it was ranked #3 of 9640 restaurants in New York! It was good, but... I would not rank it as the third best restaurant of all there is in New York. I guess I was expecting a little bit more WOW, instead of the "that's alright" response that I had.
We had no intention of jumping on a ferry and go see the Statue of Liberty, but when walking past the ferry tours we figured it would be a shame not to. Our feet were hurting from walking so much, so a little sitting down wouldn't hurt, plus it would give us a ride up Manhattan. It was kind cool though seeing the Statue of Liberty up close in real life, so I don't think neither of us regret that. We rode the ferry up the Hudson River and got off somewhere close to midtown.
Another rather touristy thing we did whilst in New York was to go to a musical. I love movie musicals and have always wanted to see more on stage productions of musicals. I had only been to one musical before, Wicked, which was brilliant. Erik and I bought tickets on the day and decided upon Chicago. This was a musical I had no previous relationship with. I have never seen the movie and I didn’t even know what it was about. It was good, but then again I am not hard to please when it comes to musicals.
The weather was nothing but superb whilst we were there. We went mid November and I had researched the typical November weather, which apparently could be super cold and horrible or warm and awesome. Luckily we got the latter.
During our trip to New York, we had one proper night out. We started off with a lovely dinner at Buddakan, ranked as #4 out of 1063 asian restaurants in New York on Tripadvisor. The restaurant itself was dark and gloomy, yet intimate and warm. I felt proper fancy having a romantic date there with my love. We started off with some drinks and then shared a bottle of red during dinner.
After food we continued our night at a “secret” gin bar called Bathtub Gin. We had a couple of cocktails first, before sharing a bottle of champagne. Before we could even finish the champagne, I was out of it (and I think Erik was rather wasted by then as well), so we gave the rest of it away to some random guy celebrating his birthday (I think) and took an Uber back to the hotel.
The following day was the only day on our trip where it was raining. And like everything else in New York, the raindrops were massive. But that was ok, because this was also the day we wanted to do the least amount of activities, seeing as we both could feel the aftermath of the night before. We barely managed to make our way to an American Diner for a greasy breakfast.
We finished our stay in New York with dinner at Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn after a recommendation from a friend. There we enjoyed a massive, tasty steak with creamed spinach and fries (if I am not mistaken (it has been a while)) on the side. Very tasty.
All in all we had a great trip to New York and it really was a city worth visiting. Everything was more or less as I had pictured it; big, grand and American. I loved that and would not mind going again someday. We were there for only a few days, so it would be fun going back and explore the parts we didn't have time for this time around. It might just be the best place on earth, but we prefer living in Stockholm and visit NYC as I don't think Erik and I are the type of people to really take advantage of living there.
Until next time, Renate.
To imagine that during the two years we have been together, Erik and I have had the chance to visit New York, Bali, Copenhagen, Nice & Monaco and a lot of different places here in Sweden and in Norway. It sure has been an eventful first two years.
For Erik’s birthday the first year we were together I got him a trip to New York. When his birthday the following year was approaching, I realised it might have been a mistake to start off so big, as I couldn’t give him a trip to the big apple one year and a shirt the next. So after some thought I figured what the hell, he shall get another trip. (I get to tag along after all!) This time I decided Bali would be a nice getaway.
We had never really talked about Bali so I was quite interested in seeing his reaction to his present. I was a bit nervous, mostly because I had booked the trip without checking with his job schedule, but I told myself he would be a fool not to appreciate it. And my man ain't a fool. Safe to say he appreciated it and it was fun to finally be able to surprise him. I am normally terrible at hiding things and keeping presents a secret.
We stayed at the Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa in Ubud, where we had our own private pool villa. It felt very luxurious having our own place where we could relax and just enjoy doing nothing together. And we did a lot of that. We spent most days relaxing and chilling by the pool, reading. It was just the kind of vacation we needed.
As part of his birthday present I had reserved a Private Infinity Pool Dining experience, where we would enjoy a 5 course meal just the two of us set on an infinity pool overlooking the valley and river (although it was too dark to see that during the time of our meal).
One of the days we visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, the home to about 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. Within the forest you also find three temples said to have been built around the middle of the 14th century. However, what perhaps we found the most fascinating was the cemetery, which is used as a temporary resting place for the dead that are awaiting mass cremation which is held every 5 years.
Another excursion we went on was water rafting down the river our resort was overseeing. This was so much fun and I strongly recommend it to everyone. We got went anyway, so when it started raining in the middle of it, it didn't bother us at all. If anything, it made it all seem more magical, going down a river in rain, fully surrounded by thick jungle on both sides. It was brilliant.
I enjoyed visiting Bali. We could have done a lot more touristy stuff than what we did, we could've stayed in a more touristy location where the buzz from the busy nightlife is non-stopping, but this was perfect for us. It was quiet, it was relaxing and it was just us enjoying each other without the stress from our every day life for a week. I totally wouldn't mind going back some day, but for now I am happy to explore other parts of our world before then. Nice to have been, not a must to go back.
Until next time, Renate.
My sister lives in Brønnøysund, which is a far bit north in Norway and lies beautifully along the coast. The town centre sits on a narrow peninsula on the mainland and is surrounded by islands and water. It is safe to say it is a great place to visit for those of us who enjoys a bit of idyllic scenery, and to be honest - who doesn't?!
My boyfriend and I drove there last August, all the way from Stockholm to visit my sister and her family. On the same island my sister lives on (Toft) you find the Norwegian Aquaculture Center (Norsk Havbrukssenter) which is a visitor and development center for modern fish-farming in Norway.
On Toft you also find another turist attraction, Torghatten. I was very excited to bring my boyfriend there, as I know how much he likes trekking and mountains and nature and stuff. What is really cool about Torghatten is that it is a granite mountain with a hole/tunnel all through the center. We walked up to the tunnel and through it, walking down on the other side. Before deciding to climb the mountain to the top! I was tired and not really feeling it, but when we got up there and saw the view it was all worth it (See picture below).
Whilst we were in Brønnøy we made sure to take the ferry out to visit the Vega archipelago and the biggest island there, also called Vega. The Vega archipelago is actually on the UNESCO list of World Natural and Cultural Heritage, so that's pretty cool.
At first we weren't sure about going, as the weather didn't look that good. It was raining and foggy, but seeing as we had the car to drive around with, we figured let's go. I mean, how often do we have the chance? I am glad we did, as it hardly rained whilst we where there, and the fog sourrounded the mountains in the most fairytale-like way. It seemed rather magical.
It was such a pretty island with a true fisherman vibe. I don't think the images would've turned out this good if it was a bright sunny day. It was perfect conditions to capture the feel of the place! My parents and grandma were gonna tag along, but decided against it due to the weather report. Oh, I am sure they are regretting that now.
I mean, come on! Could it get more idyllic than this? I think not.
Until next time, Renate.