Good ol' Hamlet. As a writer, of course I admire the bard, but many people do not know that it is, in fact, my specialty. In university I earned a degree in English with a focus in Shakespearean Literature. So, when Mr. Nolandia suggested the famous Elsinore (or Helsingør) for a day trip, I was like all like it's freezing cold. And he was all like, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Nah, just kidding, I was game. So early one morning, before breakfast, we hopped the train for Helsingør.
But a trip up to the north of Denmark WAS cold, and the castle itself was like a meat locker. No coats being taken off there. And unfortunately, all of the restaurants were closed. At the castle and in the town, (it was the day after Christmas.) We decided to try and put our hunger out of our minds and explore. But we had a blast walking the halls and the galleries and dancing awkwardly in the ballroom. I could definitely see how this castle could inspire one of the greatest works in English literature. Dark corners for dark deeds, indeed.
The castle definitely seemed more rugged than Rosenborg Castle or some of the others we have visited in other travels, but it had a very eerie, romantic quality too. Especially with its position on the sea, it had a kind of poetry all its own.
After putzing around and dreaming of days gone by, banquets hosted and battles lost and won, it was definitely time to go. We could only eat the chocolate covered almonds from the gift shop and wander around in the refrigerator that was Kronborg Castle for so long.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Namely, food. So we hiked around and finally found a little hole-in-the-wall serving up falafel sandwiches, because frailty, thy name is woman. and this woman had tummy rumbles like a mofo.
Which takes me to my last oddly placed Hamlet quote, "To be or not to be, that is the question" and for us, we always pick to be, especially when it's the option to bein a Danish castle.
Can you ever tire of castles? I think it may be something uniquely American though, this fascination with castles. I'm sure Europeans admire them, and are just as thrilled with their majesty...but there is something so completely American about the way we adore the idea of royalty.
I think because we have no castles of our own, so that perhaps they seem like a fairytale dream. Something on par with unicorns and magic. A place where storybook princesses live. As per usual, the truth is much more dreary.
To go to a castle and see portraits of unattractive Kings and Queens, and to see that they were built "strategically" and made to withstand a "siege" certainly makes them a little bittersweet, but still, our imaginations catch fire. And Rosenborg Castles in Copenhagen is no exception. Especially with the marble ceilings and walls, colorful rooms decked out with tapestries and a rainbow of colors. An elegant throne room enough to make me drool most unbecomingly.
And... the crown jewels kept in the basement. Multiple crowns, necklaces, brooches, rings, pins, scepters, and other bauble doo-dads that I would love to take a bath in.
I guess castles are kind of magic. (especially the jewel part.)
Next on the blog: Kronborg Castle, Helsingør Denmark
Can you capture a city in pictures? Can you get a notion for the soul of a place based on a few lucky snaps? When the light hits a certain way does it reveal the city's secrets?
Hell if I know.
But, that doesn't stop me trying. How would I describe the city? Well, it always seems lazy to compare a city to other cities. Like, is it fair to say that Copenhagen is like a cross between Dublin and Amsterdam? (Especially since I have only by chance been to the other cities prior to this one.) I could just as easily make a different comparison. Copenhagen is Copenhagen. It's cold, but friendly. The cuisine is exciting and inventive. The people are intrepid in the cold, and smile more often than I've seen in other places. More than anything, Copenhagen hit home that I have been NOWHERE. That there are so many places to go, so many cities to see, and I haven't cracked the surface. For whatever reason, I felt small. But in a good way, that made me hopeful...if that makes sense.
We visited our share of castles and Tivoli, the Danish Disneyland (both topics for other posts), we explored as much of the city as we could bear on foot, some days walking as much as 16 miles in the ice and snow. The result? We began to be comfortable with finding our way around, heck, we were old hands at navigating København. But, I also sprained my PCL and Terrence got a bone bruise on his foot. (can't win 'em all, I dare say.)
A beautiful, fairytale place, home of Hans Christian Andersen and castles every corner and the prettiest copper touches and statues, and little mermaids and dreams everywhere. A magical place to spend the holiday, and a wonderful place to continue to wander in my mind.
Copenhagen. It's not a place I ever really thought about, to be honest. Terrence brought it up one day in passing, and it grew like a weed in my conscious.
It was strangely exotic to me. A Northern cosmopolitan with very little daylight and castles and queens and home of the best restaurant in the world. It would be a world of Christmas markets and hot-spiced gløgg and smørrebrød and it is literally the happiest place on Earth.
So we went, for Christmas. And it was all we thought it would be. The people were friendly, the food was delicious, the castles impressive. It snowed on Christmas morning, the whole world outside our window sugar dusted for the rest of our stay. With pink cheeks and light hearts we explored this forever twilit city. The sun did not rise until after 8, and it set no later than 16:00. But far from falling asleep with that darkness, the city came more fully to life. Twinkling white lights lit the city from harbor to center and the streets were aglow with candles in the windows.
Stay tuned for more of our Copenhagen adventures next week, and maybe start planning your trip. A lovelier, cozier, friendlier place does not exist for Christmas.
Growing up in Michigan, any snow after Christmas felt like an insult. We wanted a white December and a frosty holiday...but then we were all pretty much ready for shorts and swimsuits and days at the lake again. Sometimes though, a good sledding day or a walk in the sugar-snow woods would change our minds.
First off, my apologies for the dubious quality of these overly large photos. To be honest though, I kind of like the graininess, and they were taken with an iPhone and at night, so....it should have been expected.
Next, this folks, is a gen-yoo-wine American Giant hoodie. I had first heard of the company after reading a hyperbolic review on someone's blog. It gave me forehead crinkle and that eyebrow move that girls do when they are angry/confused. A little like the WWF's (we're going way back for this reference) The Rock's eyebrow. Y'know? You smellin' what the Rock is cookin'?
Anyway, I was doubtful to say the least. A few days later, another article popped up on Slate and again, it's all like "The Greatest Hoodie Ever!" What?! But, at that point I had to have one. So I emailed the company, told them I was a general skeptic but that I was kind of rad blogger (IMO) and that I would love to take the hoodie around the world with me and see if it was so so so great.
And, it is pretty great. But it IS a sweatshirt. What is more amazing about the hoodie though, is the way it's made and where it's made. It's a completely American Made product, constructed from heavyweight high quality cotton that is made to last. The company's intention is honestly to stimulate Americans business, while also giving you something like an heirloom quality garment. The design is based on early manufacturing processes, not modern day retail practices. Their goal is not to sell you trashy junk that breaks down quickly which then creates a need for you to purchase more junk from them. No, this is the kind of sweatshirt you buy now and then wear in the nursing home because you're always cold even in the summer. For those reasons, it's a great sweatshirt. I mean, top notch. The fabric is seriously heavy duty, I am totally behind the concept of the company, and who doesn't feel patriotic buying American made goods?
The only drawback? The price tag. I mean, it IS a $90 sweatshirt. For us, this is kind of an okay consideration. Because this sweatshirt is something that you maybe buy once or twice and keep forever, it sort of takes the place of a bunch of punk-ass sweatshirts that have to replaced. Also, the workers are getting paid a good wage, and the product is created and produced right here, which means that it is going to be more expensive and for good reason (can I get a shoutout to human rights?!). So, $90 is a lot, but it's a lot of quality too.
So, sweet sweatshirt. I don't know if I would go for "best ever made", but again, we are talking about a sweatshirt so it seems like a strange thing to create a metric for base case.
But, I still think it's a good choice. So, you should maybe buy one, be an American, and keep warm.
In 2014, Nolandia traveled to: Las Vegas (x2), San Francisco, Antwerp, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Amalfi, Naples, Traverse City, Dublin, Galway, Shannon, County Clare & Copenhagen.
So what's new for 2015? Well, the new book. Plans for trips to: Southern France, Barcelona + Madrid, Amsterdam, Rotterdam + the Hague, Munich, Traverse City again, and London.
Goals for 2015:
-travel as often as possible
-buy less, spend less
-spread more kindness
-write beautiful things
-finally master Spanish
-be in nature every day
-write more cards
-hug Terrence more, complain less
Some people think resolutions are silly, but not me. With a new year comes time to reflect on the successes and not-so-successes of the previous year. Time to consider what you've got down pat, and what can be improved. Reflection is key to happiness & growth.
When I started this blog in January of 2013, I didn't think much of it. It was a fitness blog, and I never really considered anyone would read it. Over time, it has become a travel lifestyle blog, because that is more in line with what my life is about. I take care not to write about politics or the latest health trends, or basically anything controversial. Not because I am not passionate about any of these subjects, I am. Most definitely.
Rather, I envision my blog as a place for positivity, for beauty, for goal chasing and far-off places to dream about. A place to stretch out and get comfortable and let your imagination take over--kind of the way I approach the world + my writing, in general.
Anyway, thank you for another year of reading my blog. Whether you read it sporadically, or every time I put a post up. I will continue to write and feature beautiful things.
So, if you need a break, or an arm-chair vacation or a recipe for something yummy, come on back. I'll be here all year.
Jack Frost nipping at your nose? Or like me in Texas, are you just wishing you were cold?
Well, here's a recipe for either of those situations. I like this on the sweeter side, so I am using Apple Brandy in lieu of Whiskey (and also because Whiskey is gross, but you are free to drink it if you want to. It is allowed.) Note: you CAN use the traditional spirit instead if you don't want it too sweet.(or if you like gross tastes in your mouth)
I always liked the sound of "Hot Toddy" it sounds oddly sexual and also comforting at the same time. It sounds like something Dickens would drink, but also maybe a nickname for a Madame at a weird Victorian Bordello. So, yeah, the whole idea of Hot Toddy is lovely somehow. Anyway, whip up your own and enjoy.
Apple Cider Hot Toddy
1 tbsp Honey
2oz Apple Brandy
1 teaspoon sugar (...but taste first because this drink is sweet as f*%&)
Hot apple cider. (Like, as much as you want to drink. Or, as much as you need to not throw up from hard liquor. Whatever)
Coat the bottom of an Irish Coffee Glass with Honey. (or if you are me, coat the bottom of A GLASS THAT YOU OWN, with honey)
Add whiskey or brandy
Fill with Hot Apple Cider
Ok, so in the recipe I am looking at it says, "garnish with lemon wedge, cinnamon stick and 2-3 whole cloves". But, I don't play that game. Who am I trying to impress? I'm just trying to pretend that it's Christmasy over here and boozing up at the same time. So, if garnish does it for you, GARNISH ON. If not, whatever, don't let the internet control you.
This is where we are spending Christmas. Doing our favorite things, together as our own family of two.
Exploring a new place. Learning about a culture, eating amazing local food, and meeting people. Sharing more of our lives with each other and giving each other the gift of memories. This is the tradition we are building together.
What traditions mean Christmas to you? For me, it was always harp music and stockings filled to bursting and my Dad. My Dad is Christmas to me. And even now that I am older and have my own family, my Dad is still Christmas. So it is remembering what feelings he brings to the holiday. What warmth and life and spectacle, so that I might do the same for Terrence. That I might bring the holiday to life for him and to all that I meet, just as my father did for me.
Because I love all things black, and I recently realized that I have way too many things that are leopard, I thought to make the most of it on our upcoming trip to Copenhagen. A swirly-twirly holiday dress, some leggings + jewelry that sparkles, all underneath a warm and cozy winter coat. (Complete with FAUX fur, thank you.)
It's not red + green, but cold weather clothing says "Holiday" to me and Mr. Nolandia with gusto. We are ready to bust out of this Texas warm and feel a little chilly for a change. Hoping to discover our own definition of hygge while we soak in the Northern European metropolis.