Laughing Into 2016

This picture is from last night. My boyfriend and I went to dinner at The Cellar for amazing mac’n’cheese and champagne before going to his best friend’s apartment for his annual New Year’s Eve party. I think in this photo I’m laughing because I just finished drinking all of the champagne (just kidding, but probably). 

There were lots of ups and downs, but it turns out that 2015 was lots of fun. I traveled to New Orleans, Chicago, as well as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. 

I dated lots of questionable guys and then went on a date with someone who wasn’t my usual type (this was a plus as my type was usually a flaky loser disguised as ‘artsy’) and he ended up being a wonderful guy and I was so, so happy to be able to ring in a new year with him last night. 

I left a job that I loved because I felt like I was stagnating and i took a job that was presented to me with a higher salary and more opportunity only to be disappointed when it didn’t work out. But shit happens.

I threw a couple of successful parties during my first year in my apartment.

I strengthened some of my friendships and ended a couple of others that no longer served me.

I read 25 books. I saw tons of theatre. I went to a bunch of stellar concerts. I kept on meditating daily and took a meditation master class. I renovated my kitchen (with lots of help from my family, of course) and afterward I cooked a ton. I also de-cluttered, which was awesome. I watched all three Star Wars and saw the new one. I watched too many TV shows on Netflix and not enough movies in theatres. 

In 2016, I’m going to concentrate on really sorting out what I want to do professionally. I excel at everything that I’m super passionate about and if I can find myself in the practically-perfect job, I’ll fly. 

Being happy is also a top priority. Fitness is next. I will keep going to the gym more mornings than not, maybe finally do a handstand on my own, and tone my arms because I hate my arms. I’m going to keep de-cluttering my apartment. I want to play more guitar and journal more. I’m going to read another 25 books. I’m going to keep making time to see my friends, including trying to see those that I don’t get to see regularly. 

2015 was great, but 2016 will be even better. Onwards/Upwards.

The Vasa Museum: Stockholm, Sweden

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The Vasa Museum, in Stockholm, Sweden, was recently put on a list as one of the top 10 or 15 museums that you Must Visit in your lifetime and I’m so glad I didn’t skip it (because I almost did). The Vasa was built in 1626 and it never made it out of the harbor on it’s maiden voyage. It sunk to the bottom of the sea right there in the harbor and remained there until it was successfully raised in 1961. It remained so intact for 333 years underwater because the water in the harbor was so polluted. 

The museet was built around the ship and it’s pretty cool (although the ticket is pricey but it’s totally worth it).

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Stockholm has since cleaned up their harbor and now people fish in it! Kind of cool. The Vasa is a MUST SEE in Stockholm. 

Suomenlinna: Helsinki, Finland

So, Helsinki is a really small city with not a lot to do, to be quite honest. But it was actually the perfect place to end my trip because it was less running around and more relaxing. Smaller cities will do that to you, I guess. But my favorite thing about Helsinki was taking a ferry out off the coast to visit Suomenlinna, a giant sea fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site, that was built by Sweden in 1748 when Helsinki was still Swedish. It’s Swedish name was Sveaborg (pronounced seh-vay-eh-bore-ay). It was just a quick ferry ride from Helsinki early in the morning through a handful of other tiny islands to get there. 

It’s ownership was then passed onto Russia and then back to Finland finally when they declared their independence from Russia in 1917. Sweden put a mass amount of resources into it and it was incredibly fortified. It wasn’t until the Crimean War in 1856 that Suomenlinna really sustained any damage from an attack (they were attacked in that war for 46 hours straight, that’s understandable). 

It was decided in the 1960′s that they’d make Suomenlinna a live-able place and today around 900 people live on the island. It’s hard to believe people actually live there. They opened a school, a medical center, and a few other things to make it inhabitable. 

I visited the museum first, which included a very informational video and a lot of artifacts from Suomenlinna’s past lives and then I walked around the island for around two hours. It was very, very cool. Probably the coolest thing in Helsinki.

The building where the museum is. 

Inside some of the fortresses.

Parks where built for inhabitants. 

The glass blowing plant that is on the island.

Vesikko Submarine: Built for Germany in 1933. 

The dry shipyard where ships were built for wars when the island was still in use and I believe ships are still built and repaired there today.

One of the handful of apartment buildings on the island.

This was worth the early wake-up and ferry ride over. If you’re ever in Helsinki, make sure you make it over to Suomenlinna

Something Sparkly from Stockholm

I walked into an antique shop near the main palace in Stockholm and fell in love with this ring. My jaw dropped when the man working there said it was 850 sek (which is really about $100) and then he quickly dropped the price to 650 sek. I shook my head, thinking I shouldn’t spend $80 on a ring when I have a ton of rings already.

As I was walking around, I couldn’t stop thinking about the ring (which is sterling silver, at least 50 years old, and from England or France). Then I realized I had no idea where the store was and the Old Town in Stockholm is a MAZE. 

Luckily though I found it quite easily and offered him 550 sek for it and we came to an agreement at 600 sek (about $71). It’s a little too big for my ring finger so I’m wearing it on my middle finger. 

It was my one big splurge in Scandinavia. Worth it.

I went a little crazy with trip prep shopping today. I went to Homegoods, Origins, and the Flying Tiger (the Danish version of Muji). Is that not the best journal for travel musings (on the right) ever? I also bought a bag from eBags which came on Friday and I’m making packing lists like a crazy person.

I booked all of my hostels tonight, so all that’s left is booking my travel from Copenhagen to Oslo, Oslo to Stockholm, and Stockholm to Helsinki. I was told I should take a train whenever possible because it’s so beautiful and I’m sure it is but a 9 hour train from Copenhagen to Oslo for $254 as opposed to an hour flight for $54 is just no comparison. I know going through airport security is a pain in the ass, but hey, at least I’ll get more stamps in my passport, right?

The train from Oslo to Stockholm is only four hours and $30 or something, so that’s fine. Then there’s the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki which is about $150 and takes like, 9 hours as well. Or a half hour flight for $50. 

So, as beautiful as the countryside might be, I might fly between two of the four cities. I’ve been collecting lots of links for things to do and packing lists for when you don’t want to pack on the light side. I’ll leave those here incase any of you are going to wander soon.

If you have any packing tips or must-do’s for Copenhagen, Olso, Stockholm, Helsinki, or Tallinn. Let me know!

It’s for-real happening. I’m the worst at booking flights because I’m so non-committal and hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars at one time (WHAT IF I NEED IT LATER?!). But I know the price of these flights will only go up if I wait (I booked this for about $700) so here goes nothing!

Do you think I can wait a little while to book my trains/buses/boats around the region? (I’m going from Copenhagen -> Oslo -> Stockholm ->Helsinki.) And if you have any must-see tips for these cities, let me know!