Happy new year, everyone! Hoping you all were able to spend some time with your family and friends. I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Los Angeles, and then New Years in Oslo with my absolute favorite Norwegian. And, I finally got to see Norway in the snow, and I have to say that I’m smitten. The winter is actually worse here in DC… so I’ll probably just have to move to Oslo at some point in my life.
Real talk, though, I’d really like to just take a couple of months off to live in northern Norway during the winter — chasing the aurora borealis would be my jam.
Itching for more Norway photos? Check out my summer snapshots from Bergen and Oslo.
Hi there! Just had to quickly post this photo — I’ve been traveling in Montana with the lovely Belle, and I managed to sneak outside to take some star photos. I was thinking last week: you know, it’d be really cool to see the Northern Lights. But I pushed it out of my head because I apparently know nothing about them and thought they only came out in the winter.
False. Here’s a shot I captured from the roof of our lodge. If you look closely, there’s also a shooting star on the lower left side of the sky.
The darling family that takes us sailing got a new boat and started docking at a different marina (good bye, my sweet, sweet dream home — see you in ten years, when I build one of my own). The wind wasn’t around, for the most part, but the day was still gorgeous, and the water was unbelievably glassy. It reminded me of my morning swims in Tanzania — the morning water always looked like it was generated by a computer. Mesmerizing, tranquil, and shockingly beautiful.
Anyway, here are a few shots from my weekend. I need to remember to take my camera with me more often, because this baby is a winner.
I’ve been texting Silje in Norway, and following all of her lovely friends in Norway via Instagram and Snapchat — and I’ve found myself incredbly vacation-sick for Norway and it’s gorgeous views, bubbly language, and friendly faces. It was almost a year ago when I took just over a week to explore Oslo and Bergen! And since I held back on taking a vacation this year, I’m already daydreaming about the trip I’m hoping to take next year. My obsession with Norway continues, so you can bet that I’ll be taking at least another week there next summer :)
Here are some of the gorgeous views I’ve been pinning to my to-do list. If you want to make a Norwegian laugh, try pronouncing all of the Norwegian words and names out loud.
Atlanterhavsveien — “The Atlantic Road” is a winding, gorgeous road that was orginally proposed as a railway in the early 1900s (then abandoned). The road itself was build in the 1970s, and it now connects the semi-inhabited tiny islands of an archipelago in Western Norway.
Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway — I’ve had this image pinned for years. Lofoten is farther north than where most Norwegians live, and it’s a bit of a trek to get up there… but it’s first on my to-do list for my next trip to Norway. Last summer, I met a couple of Americans while I was in Bergen, and they had just come back from Lofoten. They described the water as being as blue as the Caribbean, but you’re instead up in the Arctic Circle. I want to go to there.
Trolltunga — “Tip of the tongue,” known as one of the most spectacular hikes in all of Norway. The little ledge of a cliff juts out, holding you more than 3,600 feet above sea level — how crazy is that?! It’s a day-long hike through high mountains, but the views are breathtaking and highly worth it.
Preikestolen — Pulpit Rock, a hike to a stone cliff that looms almost 2,000 feet over the Lysefjord. The hike is just over 2 miles each way, but… you start at sea level and climb all 2,000 feet in that 2 miles, so it takes the average fit person 2 to 3 hours. So… you’ll find me on the stairmaster tonight.
This weekend, Shaeda and I took the scenic route to Winchester, Virginia. It’s pretty much our favorite place to go thrift shopping (thank you, Sydney Liann). We took the toll-infused, beautiful Route 50 west through Virginia, aiming for a church thrift store in Upperville. The church was closed, but we stumbled upon an estate sale, where I purchased a couple of gorgeous stainless steel knives with wooden handles — for FOUR dollars. The real gem of the day was our brunch, also recommended by Sydney, and executed perfectly by Bonnie Blue.
The ladies were so warm and welcoming when we walked in, and literally everything on the menu sounded delicious, so it took a lot of effort to not order everything that was listed on the wall. Also, you know how much I love a good chalk wall. It was also just the perfect opportunity to take my new camera out for a drive!
They had a cute little coffee bar, and while I was far too caffeinated to purchase some at that moment, I did buy this bag of coffee beans below for the office — we swap many things, and coffee is one of them.
Shaeda ordered the pulled pork, cucumber salad, and mac and cheese (always her fave!) and I had a jumbo lump crab cake with eggs and grits. The crab cake was pretty amazing — and I loooooved that it wasn’t mostly bread crumbs. Just lumps and lumps of lump crab.
It didn’t last long. Naturally.
They also swore by their Turkish tea, which is another form of black tea, but just a tad bit stronger. Perfect for a mild (or hot) summer day.
Also, we ran into this cutie as we were leaving the estate sale. Isn’t Buster the cutest?
My favorite purchase of the day was this 1949 manual typewriter. I’m well on my way to having a shelf filled with typewriters for my next apartment.
The last time I went to Mexico, Kristen and I stayed in an amazingbungalow-style guest house that we found on Airbnb — it’s owned and run by Christine, a lovely Colombian woman who grew up in Germany, fell in love with a Frenchman, and decided to move to Mexico’s coast to open her gorgeous little guest house. It was the perfect experience for both Kristen and I: we were in desperate need of an escape, and being between jobs, I was pretty much broke. So we found $400 flights to and from Cancún, and shared a room in Christine’s guest house for $30 a night. It was 2 kilometers from the beach, so we rode bikes, played with Christine and Raúl’s cute dogs, and chatted with her in our broken Spanish about what she recommended we do on our trip.
Cenotes are apparently one of the things the locals get really into. You see some of the bigger, more touristy ones on pamphlets in the airport and as part of vacation packages at the hotels, but I knew that neither Em nor I would really want to go to one of those. And the one Christine sent Kristen and me to, years ago, was absolutely perfect. After some futile googling (there’s really not much info out there on the non-touristy cenotes), we decided to go to Siete Bocas — “seven mouths,” for the seven separate openings of the cenote.
On the collectivo to Puerto Morelos, I told Emily about the cenote. If nothing had changed in the past two years, it would still be owned by a tiny old Mexican lady named Maria. She kept it impeccably clean, and just to get there, we’d be driving on a dirt road for 10 minutes or so. She was lively and friendly, told us about the bottomless cenote with the thirty-foot jump, and was usually sweeping the pathways that were made, at their very core, of compacted dust. That’s something you’ll see a lot in remote places around the world — little old ladies sweeping away dust with a broom, when they’re surrounded by dust to begin with. That dust will never go away, but the pride these women take in keeping their home or their pathway clean really speaks to me.
Anyway, we got there, and sure enough, nothing had changed. José, our taxi driver, agreed to return after a couple of hours, so Em and I put our stuff down and climbed down the first set of stairs, descending, literally, into the blue. Not the turquoise of the Tulúm that you see in so many Corona commercials, but a royal blue that you don’t see very often in nature. When the light shines in the water, you just see rays of light extending as deep as the cenote goes. Little black fish skimmed the under the water’s surface.
Perhaps my favorite part about this cenote is how undiscovered it is. When Kristen and I went, there were a few families, locals who were clearly regulars to this cenote. This year, Emily and I got there around noon — and it was quiet. The sun shone through the gaps in the trees, and there was one Canadian couple, and a pair of very handsome Spaniards. They went scuba diving, and I had forgotten about them entirely, until I had been sitting on a makeshift dock at the bottom of the stairs. Huge bubbles started slowly making their way to the surface, but the divers were so deep that we couldn’t see them down below.
I was excited to revisit Siete Bocas for two reasons — one, because I’m pretty sure it was my favorite part of my last trip to Mexico, and I knew the amazement at something so beautiful and natural would still remain. My heart skipped a beat when I slipped into the still, blue water of the first boca we tried. I even looked at Emily and mentioned how I was still a little scared, even though I had done this once before. Two, because I was so excited for Em to have the exact same experience I did… and man, was she just as ecstatic as I was the first time I found myself in that beautiful blue water.
And, sure enough, we both jumped from the cenote with the thirty-foot jump, we emerged on the stairway and saw Maria, sweeping her pathway with a little broom.
I was lucky enough to spend the past week or so celebrating the wedding of one of my favorite college friends (ahem, the only other girl who was just as loyal to Taco Tuesdays at UCLA as I was). So, in addition to being part of an incredibly beautiful wedding, I was able to spend a couple of days exploring and revisiting the coast of Mexico in Quintana Roo — mostly known for the beautiful beaches that line it from Cancun in the north, all the way down to Tulúm. I had been here once before with another former roommate, Kristen, but that was two years ago. And, it was the trip I took right before starting the day job I have now. It’s so weird to think that it’s been two years since then, because I remembered the coast so vividly.
Anyway, Em and I peaced out of DC a couple of days early to make sure we would have a day or two to explore. We knew we wanted to see the ruins at Tulúm and then spend a couple of hours at a cenote, but we weren’t sure which one. In the end, we decided to pretty much do exactly what Kristen and I did in 2012 — we rode the collectivos buses south for about an hour, visited the ruins, and walked along the beach to cute place called la playa Paraíso, and the next day, we went to the exact same cenote in Puerto Morelos called Siete Bocas. Photos from the cenote tomorrow!