Month: May 2016

Beautiful Bergen

The last stop of our whirlwind Scandinavian tour was Bergen, Norway. We arrived late evening, as the sun was beginning to set. Oli snapped the pic above as our plane was coming in to land! Our apartment sat just outside the centre, on a hill with a beautiful view. We couldn’t wait to explore, and though we had just two full days, we feel like we got a good taste of Bergen and it’s stunning surroundings. We wandered through town, admiring the beautiful rows of candy coloured houses before finding ourselves in the Unesco designated Bryggen Harbour. Again we were spoiled with the weather, we seriously couldn’t have asked for better! Sitting out on the patio having a beer in the brilliant sunshine felt pretty good for April in Norway! We ate lunch both days at the amazing fish market right on the docks. Amazing fresh seafood and sushi, a couple seriously delicious meals. What we really loved about Bergen is that it seemed just a bit like going home. Surrounding mountains, towering evergreens, the fjords and ocean all around. …

Helsinki sunset

Sometimes you get to see one of those sunsets that is just so good you can’t stop staring. And, in my case, snapping a billion photos! The quality of light in Helsinki was so amazing, and the sky so brilliantly blue, I just knew we had to watch the sunset one day. Easier said than done for us, sometimes. After a full day of wandering, we are usually cooked by 8pm! One night in Helsinki, we walked about 15 minutes from our apartment and found a quiet cove on the water, the perfect spot. It just happened to be one of those magical evenings where the light was just right, the setting spot on, the water like glass. And so we stopped and we stared as the sky changed from golden to orange to red and then mauve.

Around Helsinki

Helsinki was a wonderful city to visit. A fantastic food scene, stunning landscapes, beautiful architecture, and amazing shops. We really found this of every place we stopped in Scandinavia. Super fun to visit and really well catered to people with all types of interest. Of course I was very much interested in the design scene. Helsinki’s design district spans several city blocks, filled with beautiful independent boutiques as well as internationally known brands. You could spend a lot of time wandering the streets and poking around in shops. Of course I didn’t quite have that luxury (ahem, kids!) but we did manage to visit several gorgeous spots, and collected a few goodies along the way. The new Artek flagship store was definitely a highlight, showcasing lots of my favourite brands and many iconic Finnish designers such as Alvar Aalto and Eero Aarnio. Lets just say that I was in designer furniture heaven! Derek was probably pretty happy that we couldn’t pack our suitcases full of chairs. We loved the many art nouveau buildings, with beautiful glass and interior art details typical of the …

Helsinki on the water

Flying into Helsinki from Stockholm, it was fun to see the vast birch groves, brilliant blue skies, and abundant shoreline. I’ve mentioned a few times since we’ve been in France that we really miss the ocean. It is definitely a part of me, and we can’t imagine not living permanently by the sea. So although the landscape in Helsinki is quite different from our west coast, it really felt good to be able to look out to the water and see nothing beyond but the great wide open. There are loads of tiny islands dotted around Helsinki’s coast. We enjoyed wandering around Uunasaari and Liuskasaari in particular, both easily accessible from a footbridge right off the seawall on the mainland. The kids had a ball climbing on the rocks and checking out tide pools. There’s a long seawall that runs along the coast, and I love how there are gorgeous cafés dotted around so you can have a drink or lunch with an incredible view. We lucked out again with fantastic weather while we were in Helsinki, …

Stockholm fun

Stockholm is full of beautiful architecture and seascapes for sure, but one of my favourite things about it is that art is found everywhere, street art galore and the most amazingly decorated metro stations I’ve ever seen! There are about a dozen T-bana stations which are painted in different cool themes. We took a quick tour to a few of them, and we all thought that more cities would have a little fun with their undergrounds. Wouldn’t this make your morning commute slightly less boring? We came across some great tiles on our wanderings as well. Fun graphic walls and archways in unexpected places. With every new city we visit, the first thing the kids ask for is a playground. We have found that the best ones so far are in Amsterdam and Scandinavia. Unique, imaginative, and challenging, they are all far superior to what we have going on back home. It is so refreshing to find parks that have such a variety of equipment and styles, and something to suit every age group. We have come across ropes courses and bridges …

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town, is a veritable treasure map of winding cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, lined on all sides with beautiful buildings in all shades of ochre, peach, and red, with a hit of green here and there. Known as one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval centres, it was here that Stockholm was founded in 1252. We spent a full day wandering the streets of Gamla Stan, ogling all the tiny shops full of treasures, including antiques, modern design goods, kitchenware, and cute souvenirs, to say nothing of the many amazing cafés. We had crazy weather that day, alternating between brilliant sun and ridiculous soaking downpours which would only last ten minutes. We’d duck under cover in one of the many tiny archways or find a shop to poke around in while we’d wait out the passing storms. We had a quick peek inside the royal palace, caught a glimpse of yet another troupe of marching soldiers, and happened upon a delicious lunch spot, serving buffet-style traditional swedish lunch in a fun common-table eatery locale. We loved the colourful buildings in Stortorget, the main square …

Stockholm

The second stop on our Scandinavian tour was the stunning Swedish capital, situated on 14 islands of the archipelago on the Baltic Sea. We arrived mid-April, the weather was (mostly) fantastic, and you could see the locals were excited to emerge from their winter slumber and greet their impending summer with gusto. It was definitely in between seasons, in that most archipelago tours hadn’t quite begun, but winter fun had just ended. No matter for us, we definitely enjoyed wandering the beautiful streets and exploring what Stockholm had to offer. We spent a good deal of time in Gamla Stan, the city’s old town (more on that in a later post), and otherwise we just pretty much flew where the wind took us! The incredible harbour views were seriously awe-inspiring. I really like how Stockholm’s buildings are built right up to the edge of the islands, hugging the hillsides and shores, almost like these great clusters of gorgeousness. The harbour, full of beautiful boats of all colours and sizes, was simply stunning. I could not get enough of these …