So, how is life in Sweden?

I know, I know, in the last post I promised to keep you updated… and then all of a sudden it was months later :/

But, to answer that question up there, life in Sweden is very very good 🙂 Can’t really believe it’s been 3 months already since I came here! Time certainly did fly this summer and only the calendar and the slowly changing nature are telling me that it will be autumn soon.

So what happened in the meantime? I learned how to survive in an all-male household, that would be the biggest change 😉 One teenage boy and his little brother plus their dad did take some adjusting for me who had been living alone for the last 12 years 😛 But now we have worked out a pretty good rhythm and I think everyone is quite happy – I know I am 🙂

With the man in (and of) my life being away at work for two weeks at a time comes a certain responsibility to make sure that the oldest gets breakfast in the mornings and leaves in time to get the bus to school, then taking care of the household chores and cooking our dinner before driving him to and from sports training and church events. Actually, from Thursday on, it’ll be the first time that I have the car to myself since I came here, so I’m training driving it 😉 Should be fine, only the garage is a little bit scary 😉

During the summer, we did a lot of walking around the area and the city, you have probably seen the pictures on fb and Instagram. Yes, we had beautiful weather most of the time and yes, we have forest and water just outside the door 😉 We’ve eaten wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and now blackberries straight from the bush, covered a lot of kilometres walking and cycling and it feels like home to me now!

There was a baptism and a confirmation, the most baffling feature (to me, a German raised Catholic) probably being the young, female (!) priest who loves a woman (!!) and also draws people in so much that even I would consider going to church again 😉 Apart from the fact that the Swedish church seems to have taken all the good bits from the Catholics and mixed it with a very modern Protestantism.

We also spent a little time up in Dalarna at his dad’s and I think this country is even more beautiful up there 🙂 Not to mention that granddad has a lake just outside the front door and a big bbq behind the house 😉

Some setbacks have been the fact that pretty much everything is closed for a certain period over the summer, so not much progress with bureaucracy and such, and also I had no luck finding a job yet. But it’s work in progress and I’m sure there’s something out there for me 🙂

If you want to know anything specific, just put a comment and I’ll reply quickly 🙂

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Relax and rewind

Finally I have arrived in a place and a hostel where I feel I can relax. Even though it will be one full day again with a day trip to Cape Reinga and back – another almost 12 hours on the bus… but after that I have all of Sunday and half of Monday to myself. Yay! 🙂

Where I am? In the Bay of Islands, in Paihia to be precise and in the Haka Lodge – which has an amazing view over the bay from the lounge and kitchen and facilities that feel more like a hotel than a normal hostel. There are actual shower cubicles with glass doors and water pressure! The bedrooms have 4 dorm beds out of wood that give the feeling of berths on a ship, very cosy and from the looks of it very comfy as well 🙂

The weather looks absolutely glorious and there is a lot of things to do here (as everywhere in NZ). We’ll see what I can bring myself to do, it might be beach time and some walks or a ferry trip 🙂

It feels like it is time to think about the walkabout so far. After the first really bad experience with workaway, everything else went super smoothly and I met amazing people throughout my big Sweden trip! Old friends, new friends, a lot of new viewpoints and the feeling that I am enough as I am and that there’s no need to pretend certain things.

On the Stray bus, I struggled in the beginning to be honest. People so much younger than me, with very different ideas about their trip and the forced proximity of dorms – all of that was more difficult than I expected it and for a few days I had serious doubts if I really made the right decision. I need my alone times, more than usual now when there’s so much to take in and handle, and I felt I didn’t get enough. :/

The first hop-off in Abel Tasman actually helped a lot – being free from activities and schedules, having a day or even two to do whatever I like, that was what I wanted on this trip. And at the same time, I found myself more open towards the new people and in the following days, I met really good people again. 🙂

The Deep South was a bit of a challenge with the places we stayed at, but because the group was really fun, it wasn’t bugging me too much. Nevertheless, I was very sure I wanted to have the stop in Queenstown, away from any hostels and parties – and it did me the world of good! Again, it was down to the people I met and to the fact that I was able to do whatever I wanted. 🙂

Now I am really looking forward to the “remainder” of my time here! There will probably be some hiccups again, but I have pre-booked all my accommodation for the longer hop-offs and am quite hopeful there are some more gems like this one 🙂 With that in mind, I think I can handle nights in places that are maybe not my standard 😉

Will I do the Tongariro Crossing? A very good question that I cannot answer right now. I have 3 nights planned for the National Park so that I have another chance if the weather is not good on the first day. At the same time, it is quite a challenge and I have two issues that might win: I twisted my ankle in Abel Tasman and even though it was a while ago, it still isn’t happy with me. The other issue are my hiking shoes which are actually a bit too small – ok for smaller to mid-length walks if I can rest my feet after. But do I want to do almost 20 km in them? It’ll probably be a spontaneous decision – stay tuned 😉 In any case I now have a good sun protection hat – see FB 😛

Starting 2 months in New Zealand :)

Auckland now, next stop Christchurch and then off on my bus tour on Sunday 🙂 Used today to organise some things and finally have a print-out of my itinerary now to make notes on and think about where to maybe hop off the bus for a day or so. If I do as I planned now, I will still have about 2 weeks left to maybe go to the South Pacific 😉

My AirBnb here is absolutely beautiful, you can see a few pics on flickr! My hostess is really nice and I am thinking of booking with her again before I leave NZ in December. It’s a calm place and would be good to collect myself and my memories before Australia. She even did my laundry and left it outside my room when it was dry! Funny that I only ended up here because it’s right by Coxs Bay 😉 Which is a very nice little bay and neighbours the most expensive houses in all of New Zealand 🙂

Auckland itself is not exactly exciting, I spent about 3 hours in the city centre today and think I saw most of it 😉 Of course I’d like to take the ferry to Devonport or so, but that will have to wait for the next time I’m here.

However, it is veeeeeery hilly here and I have been doing a lot of walking yesterday and today, if this continues, I will have crazy muscly legs at the end 😛 Still I couldn’t cycle up those steep hills like the locals, that’s quite impressive! The weather is again really nice to me and my hostess said it had been quite bad until I got here. So fingers crossed my luck will continue! 🙂

A few important things for you following me: I will try to write blog posts about my adventures as usual, but probably not be able to upload high-quality pics to Flickr as I do now. Some of the accommodation on the tour don’t even have mobile reception, never mind WiFi… and even if there’s WiFi, I have my doubts that it will be enough for a whole bus of people to surf at a good speed 😉

My mobile internet will be ok for Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, so please follow either my FB page if you don’t do that already or my Instagram (which will automatically publish on said FB page 😉 ). And if you want to get hold of me, I recommend a message on Facebook 🙂

Stockholm at its best – again ;)

Sweden has been very good to me I have to say 🙂 As my time here is coming to an end (for the moment, leaving on Tuesday), I find myself back in Stockholm, in a hotel room, on my own – after a rather busy long weekend.

The trip from Umeå to here was very easy and quick, small airports have their advantages 😉 Somehow I get the feeling that I have never flown into Arlanda in good weather, this time it was raining like mad when I got there… on the bus into the city it cleared up though and by the time I reached the stairs at Fotografiska on Södermalm, the sun was shining brightly 🙂

wpid-wp-1443377631384.jpeg

Here I met with my friend who would later in the evening be announced as my boyfriend 😛 Yes, that’s right! And those of you who know my history will know who it is – rest assured we both know what we are doing and that it feels great! The timing could have been better as I’m leaving Europe for 3 months now, but we’ll be ok – there’s been worse 😉

Friday evening I spent with Ann, taco girls night and tv, very relaxing and good to catch up again 🙂 Needed to get some rest before my big day on Saturday – time for Mrs Murphy‘s high heels class!

10 women of all ages, 3 agents of fabulousness and of course Mrs Murphy herself gave it all in 2 hours and in the end we could move our hips, walk stairs and even run in our highest heels! It was such great fun and I recommend everyone to take that class – awaken your inner goddess 🙂

Mrs Murphy's class(Image from Mrs Murphy’s facebook page)

Then we took the metro to Slussen and had a coffee at Fotografiska before we looked at the exhibitions.  I liked most of them, but the last one we saw was very much weird and not really my cup of tea. Nevertheless it is worth going there every time – have you been? 😉 The best was the höstsalongen, where 24 normal photographers from all over Sweden presented their projects. Some of those were very impressive and thinking they got picked from over 2,400 applications – wow! 🙂

Until our table was booked in Melt Bar we had enough time to walk there and enjoy the amazing colours that the sky was offering. Wonderful clouds and a sunset made for all colours from purple to orange and red – just look 🙂 Of course I had not taken my camera with me as we were out all day, guess if I regretted that…

clouds over Gamla Stan sunset

Melt bar then was absolutely fantastic! Felt a little underdressed with my bright green trainers, but oh well… It’s a bar styled like in the 1920’s with champagne cocktails in punch bowls, wonderful outfits and very good food! Downstairs they have a little stage with burlesque performances – such a cool place 🙂

Today it was a walk to and through Bromma Blocks, then off to the city and into my hotel where I will stay until it’s time for the airport on Tuesday. Will I have to organise things for Hong Kong or just get there and take it as it comes?

Up up North

That’s where I arrived today! A big place with several barns and a huge house that serves as the family home as well as a b&b with two rooms. I am very lucky because I get to stay in one of them for 3 weeks and it’s such a lovely room! It’s very big and has a high ceiling, the walls are white, but have patterns right underneath the wooden ceiling.

ceiling pattern

Two beds, two chairs, a lovely old desk, a closet and – the highlight – an old stove as this was the kitchen originally! 🙂 Wooden floors and enough space to not only unpack my whole backpack for the first time since I started, but also a perfect spot for my yoga mat – we’ll see if I finally use it again now! And throughout the whole house, it’s modern but keeping a lot of the old character of the house 🙂

my room

The hostess is also lovely, she picked me up from the airport in Umeå because it was much easier than me coming on the bus. The village is actually right on the big road E4 and that one goes around the city, so on the way here I understood why we did it that way. The house is part of what once was an estate where they first made iron and then had a sawmill, but that went bankrupt towards the end of the 19th century. Now there is a sawmill again, one of the biggest up here, just behind the house. She said depending on the wind direction, you can hear the road or the sawmill up here – but so far it has been just quiet 🙂

She is doing a lot of things at once, teaching permaculture is one of them and I hope I can pick up some of that as well. The garden is huge and very neatly designed, it’s not all self-sufficient yet, but certainly on the way there. For lunch, she harvested carrots, potatoes, sugarsnaps, kohlrabi and tomatoes for example. The food will be mainly vegan she said as she does most of the cooking. I don’t mind that, will be interesting to see for me 🙂 We haven’t talked about the work yet, but it looks like it’ll be mainly the garden, getting the harvest in before the frost and preparing for the next year.

The house also is the home of 3 teenagers (2 girls, one boy) and two dogs: Runo is a black retriever, so he’s pretty big and Morran is a long-coated dachshund girl. Very different dogs, but they are both super-friendly and cute 🙂 I got to walk them with the youngest daughter today, they’re easy-going. And here it’s one dog per person, not 3 😉

I think I will have a good time here and I hope I took the good weather with me – today has been sunny and not too cold. Hopefully it’ll stay a bit longer like that!

Here’s the stove!

stovestove detail

Congrats! It’s an itinerary ;)

Covering 4 to 5 countries in just about 5 months!

Did I already say that I am flying to Sweden on 22 July? Working my way up from down in Skåne via Öland all the way up to Umeå – that will cover about 3 months already and I cannot wait to get there, speak lots of Swedish and see lots of beautiful places 🙂

Today I finally I managed to go to the travel agent and book my flights for the longest part of the journey (distance-wise that is)! I’ll be leaving Europe at the end of September, first stop is Hong Kong for a few days. Very excited about that, I read super-interesting things and also it is exactly half-way on the way to Auckland, at least judging by the flight time.

I’ll get to Auckland in the first week of October then and the plan is to stay there in some airbnb place for a few days to explore the city and get to know the locals a bit. Then I want to hop on a Stray bus and tour both islands on there, possibly stopping in some more airbnbs in the “big cities” along the way. Funnily enough I met a lady at yoga last week who just got back from doing exactly that and loved every minute! We will meet for dinner at some point next week and I can’t wait to hear more 🙂 What she told me so far sounded simply great – expensive though, but I don’t care! I’m prepared for NZ breaking the bank a little or a lot 😉

On the way back I will stop first in Sydney and then in Melbourne, for 3 and 4 days respectively before I fly back to Germany – again via Hong Kong, but this time I’m only in transfer. I’ll be home for Christmas, just about. The flight comes into Frankfurt on the morning of 23 December 🙂

From the one trip to NZ before I remember I wasn’t a big fan of Emirates – don’t get me wrong, service and all was great, but still… been there, done that, saw the people sleep in Dubai airport – so I didn’t necessarily want to take this route again. Luckily for me, Cathay Pacific seemed to have a sale on right now and so I decided Hong Kong would be worth going! I also get to try Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Those of you who know me know full well how exciting that is for me – I love anything aviation, so different airlines is the best 😀 And the price wasn’t half- bad either!

“Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.”

I’m ready for takeoff…

Should you have any recommendations for my stopover cities, please comment or send me a message – always better to get first-hand tips than trust the internet 😛

P.S: If you have been counting countries, you might have noticed that so far that’s only 4. Guess the 5th? 😉

First world problems

Sure you have an opinion? Please help me – and yes, I’m very much aware that you’d love to have such problems 😉