Wanderlust: a weekend-getaway in Stockholm

Ever since my first visit to Scandinavia I have been in love. The nature, the culture, the people and the way of living, they left an incredibly strong impression on me.

All my life I’ve been raised by my parents that are true wanderers. With our camping car we travelled all over Europe. The most important part of our travels took place in nature. That’s where I got my passion for the outdoors. Scandinavia has endless nature, where you can keep on discovering forgotten places. But since I was old enough to travel on my own, my friends and I took every opportunity we got to travel. We made many city trips, and one of those was Copenhagen. I knew from then on that not only Scandinavia’s nature caught my eye, but also its culture. The colorful houses, the fashion, the design and the super friendly people, you immediately feel at home.

So when I received an email from Belmodo saying I was the winner of their SAS-airlines competition, I was so excited! A new opportunity to discover a Scandinavian city. Thank you so much to Belmodo for this beautiful gift!

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The City

Stockholm city is an idyllic destination. Because of all the water it’s called “Venice of the North”. The beautiful colorful architecture brings light to the city. Stockholm has something to offer for every wandering girl.

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Lifestyle

If you love Scandinavian fashion, than you are in the right place. Scandinavian brands like Acne, Cos, Vila have their own stores in Stockholm. The Södermalm district offers countless vintage stores, Swedish fashion and design stores in combination with an abundance of places to eat and drink. Lifestyle heaven.

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Outdoors
Green Djürgarden is the perfect district to stroll around close to the city center. But if you have more time (or better weather) the archipelago of Stockholm is the perfect spot for outdoors lovers like me. In Stockholm you’re just a boat trip away from the Swedish outdoors.

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Stockholm is the perfect city for a getaway. It’s a city where you can breathe and just enjoy every moment. When I came home I felt more alive and inspired than ever before.

Happy travels,

Han

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Travel guide to a successful road trip

2014 was the year we finally made our first road trip. Based on our experiences, we each give you a couple of tips that will hopefully help you to get the most out of your trip!

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Han:

Music. When I’m on the road, music is an absolute essential for me. It wouldn’t be the first time people laughed at me while dancing and singing in the car in front of the red light. The perfect road-mix makes everything better. Time flies when you can sing along with your favorite songs. For me personally it also ensures my focus on the road! So make a playlist of your all time favorite songs and make sure you have enough songs so you don’t get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again!

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Don’t plan too much in advance. Expectations, the culprit in a road trip experience. Make sure you don’t overplan in advance, leave some extra room for spontaneous adventures. Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler. Discover places as you go! I would recommend not to book your accommodations until you’re sure you can stick with your plan. Conditions can change and influence the plans you had. Like when we had to cancel our plans to go to Austria, due to a snow-alert. Not over planning can save you a lot of money on annulations of accommodations! Make plans as you go and live in the moment!

Be prepared. Pack your travel bag wisely depending on your destination. But always be prepared for different weather conditions or activities. You might laugh when I tell you I pack a beanie on a summer camping trip… But you will be amazed what a difference it makes when you are living outside 24 hours a day! Avoid overpacking, but choose basics that you can combine endlessly and layer up for colder weather conditions. Even in Hungary it gets cold outside on a summery evening and the north of Norway can also have a heat wave! But don’t worry, one day you will master the art of packing!

Bring an actual old skool map. Google maps on your phone and a GPS are super handy when it comes to driving directions. But don’t forget to bring a paper map with you as well. Technology is awesome until it fails in the middle of nowhere. Maps also come in handy if you don’t know a specific address of where you’re going, or if you want to ask a local for advice on places to visit. As a memory to your trip you can trace your route on the map as you go along and indicate the places you visited!

Sandy:

Choose your travel partner with care. If mountain climbing makes you happy, and exploring an ancient city gets you excited, then don’t travel with a friend who wants to work on her tan at the beach all day. Spend your money wisely, and go on a vacation with a friend who has the same interests as you! If you can’t find your perfect partner, do what I did last year and go on vacation by yourself! I went to San Francisco for a month, all alone (boy, was I scared), and came back with a bunch of awesome new friends!

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Bring cash and card! Whenever you travel, bring your credit card AND cash! You never know where you end up, or whether your credit card works. For example, some tollbooths on the highway only accept cash. And if you get car problems like we did on our road trip, you need enough money to get it fixed.

Don’t rely too much on travel guides. Nowadays, there are some great travel guides on the market (I’m in love with the ‘100% travel’ guides) which are perfect to learn more about the places you’ll visit and to make some rough plans in advance. But don’t forget to ask the locals for tips! They know the best places to eat, drink and enjoy your vacation. And don’t we all love to brag about how we mingled with the locals?

Variety is important. Just finished a 15km hike up the mountains? Then plan a calm and relaxing day afterwards! Don’t force your body, ‘cause you still want to enjoy the rest of your vacation! I was often exhausted after our hiking trips during our road trip, so I was more than happy to put my feet up during our time out in Italy. Pizza and gelato really helped to get me back on track…

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Just enjoy! Don’t overthink it, don’t worry too much, and just enjoy the beautiful things around you! Live the moment, take it all in and you will feel more alive than ever before!

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!

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Do you have any tips for us? We would love to hear them!

Han & Sandy

Road trip part 4: Accommodation reviews

Because we got a lot of questions about our accommodations during the road trip, we decided to share our favorite locations!

Germany:

The first stop of our road trip was Hinterzarten, a small town in the Black Forest. We stayed at a beautiful apartment (Ferienhaus Tusculum) in the center of Hinterzarten. The location is perfect for hiking trips, cycling and skiing in the neighbourhood. You can find maps with the different hiking trails at the tourist information center, just a two minute walk from the apartment. The train station is also located nearby, which makes it easy to explore the region. The apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, and has a cozy living room where you can relax after an active day! If you’re hungry and love German food, you should visit s’Pfännle where you can eat home-made specialties.

Italy:

At Lake Garda, we stayed at the lovely Villa Bissiniga. This Bed and Breakfast is located in the hills next to Salò, with an amazing view on the town and Lake Garda. Villa Bissiniga produces and sells their own wine and olive oil. The friendly staff and the incredible view from the rooftop terrace made our stay perfect. And the fresh Italian breakfast is definitely worth mentioning! In just a 15 minute walk, you reach the center of Salò which offers great dining options. And let’s not forget the delicious gelato ;)

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Our next stop was Levanto, where we stayed at Bed and Breakfast Vignola. It’s the perfect location to visit the Cinque Terre. The villages of Cinque Terre are difficult to reach by car, so we would recommend to stay at a nearby village such as Levanto and take the train to the Cinque Terre. The city of Levanto is also worth visiting, with many great restaurants, a beautiful historic center and a nice beach to relax and watch the sunset. The family-run B&B has all the facilities you need, including a swimming pool.

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France:

Our last stop was Bed and Breakfast La Lavoir in Peintre, a rural village close to Dole. We just loved the hospitality of this B&B! The host gave us some good tips about what to visit in the neighbourhood. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the breakfast is great, with cheese from the local farmer and home made apple juice. This location is ideal to visit the surrounding cities such as Dole and Dijon, or to enjoy the nature of the Jura region.

If you have any further questions, let us know :)!!

Han and Sandy

Road trip part 3: La douce France

We took the highway along the coast of Italy towards France, our next destination. The views on the highway were spectacular, but often interrupted by tunnels, many many tunnels! We lost count…

First stop: Castellane

When we left the highway, we thought we were finally there, but noooo! After almost two hours (!) and 70km of small, mountain roads later, we arrived at Castellane! This cute, little village is situated in the Natural Regional Park of Verdon. The highlight in this park is the French Grand Canyon, also known as the Gorges du Verdon. Of course we had to go for a hike along this beautiful canyon. The trail we followed is called the Sentier Martel trail, which is about 15km long and takes you about 6 hours to walk.

Note: If you do this trail, DON’T forget your flashlight!! There is a tunnel of 600 meters long without any lighting, so a flashlight is essential. Except if you’re a cat..

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On our second day in Castellane, we chose to take it slow. So we went to the local bakery for some bread and pastries, and climbed up the mountain where we had a picnic with a view. After dessert, we put music on, busted some moves and had a dance off (which Han clearly won).

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Second stop: Dole

On our way to Dole, we passed some beautiful landscapes. We just had to stop once in while to enjoy the view!

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The last day of our road trip, we visited the town of Dole. This cozy town is filled with French historical buildings. We wandered around the streets and enjoyed a hot cappuccino, while kids in halloween costumes were scaring their friends.

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roadtrip_P4C9900This road trip was freaking awesome :)!!! We had the time of our lives and are already dreaming of a next trip..

See you soon!

Han and Sandy

Road trip part 2: Bella Italia!

After Germany, we were planning on visiting Austria, but the upcoming snow made us change our plans. We headed directly to a sunnier and warmer place…, Italy!

First stop: Lake Garda

Lake Garda is the perfect spot for relaxation. It’s warm, beautiful, and – this time of year – peaceful! We stayed at a cozy B&B on top of the mountain near Salò, with an amazing view over the lake. We took this time to read a book, stroll around the town and enjoy the Italian lifestyle.

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Second Stop: Cinque Terre

After we recharged our batteries with a little relaxation, we were ready for some action! We read about a beautiful spot at the Italian coast, named Cinque Terre. The “Five Lands” contains five remote villages, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. These five villages are connected by hiking trails which take you along the rugged coastline. We walked the trails between Monterosso, Vernazza and Corniglia. If you have the chance, you should definitely visit Cinque Terre! It’s great to have a combination of culture and nature.

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See you at our next stop… France!!

Han and Sandy

Road trip part 1: Germany, ich liebe dich!

For years we’ve been talking about it, but now we finally decided to go for it. We planned a road trip!!

It was kind of an impulsive decision, but sometimes impulsive decisions are the best! We met at our favorite coffee house (more about that later) and planned our road trip around Europe.

First stop: Hinterzarten

The first place we visited was the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. We rented an apartment in the town of Hinterzarten, a typical German village. On our first day, we went for a 12km hike around the Titisee. Although it was rainy, foggy and cold, the scenery was beautiful.

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On our second day, we went hiking on the Feldberg, the highest mountain of the Black Forest. It was a difficult and challenging trail, but the views were totally worth it.

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Second stop: Füssen

Just above the border with Austria, you can find a cute little town named Füssen. It is located near the Forggensee and the Hopfensee, and lies in the shadow of the Tegelberg. We visited the town and ate some delicious German delicacies. The next day, we took the cable car to the Tegelberg, were we hiked to the top. The last part of the trail is not meant for people with fear of heights, such as Sandy ;)

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Now we’re off to Italy!!! See you soon!!

Han and Sandy