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Life's Little Moments

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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One problem with falling out of a regular blogging schedule is not quite knowing what to say once you’re ready to re-commit. I've written about twenty different hooks for this post, or at least that's what it feels like, and they all felt wrong, so I've decided to just sit down and have a little chat with you all. That's what blogging really is about after all, isn't it?

I've been spending the past few weeks working on a paper for uni and it required so much time and energy on my part that I was barely able to do anything else. Work out? No. Blog? I did in the beginning, but had to re-prioritize. Socialize? Great joke! Sometimes I feel like I am not able to focus on more than one thing at a time - let's hope I get this figured out before I'll have to get really serious about studying again in a couple of weeks! The paper is handed in now, though, fortunately, and I'm looking forward to having a life again. 

There hasn't been a whole lot else going on, but I have been better about bringing my camera along and going out on photo walks when I need some room to breath. Fall has finally hit up Germany and while the first half of October has been outrageously mild, the temperatures are starting to drop, the wind blows harder and the days are noticeably shorter. I love this time of the year! 

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I also still don't have any travel plans for the foreseeable future -  I've just usually been too tired to do more than day-dream and add destinations to my Places to Visit map on Google. Reading Wanderlust Travel Mag has my longing to travel soar, though - I think I just need a kick to go book some flights! What's your favorite travel magazine?

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I'm beginning to turn all hipster and have discovered the joy of Farmers' Markets. With all the amazing produce that comes available in the fall, it's hard not to! Fall is definitely one of my favorite seasons and that's not in small parts because of thoughts of steaming bowls of pumpkin soup and baked Apple Cider Donuts. 

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Has fall always looked this pretty? 

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What have you been up to lately? I hope you're experiencing a beautiful - and calm! -  fall wherever you are! 

Norway | A Hiking Trip to Iconic Preikestolen

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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August 2013

If you have read my blog for any duration of time, you have probably come to notice that I love hiking. Being in the great outdoors never fails to make me incredibly happy and while there have certainly been hikes that have pushed me to my physical and mental boundaries, I love how nature regularly shows me that we are capable of much more than we think. It should come as no surprise then that I actually have a hiking bucket list and there was obviously no better place to start it than Norway.

If you have ever googled pictures of Norway, you have probably seen the iconic Preikestolen before. Known as Pulpit Rock to English speakers, it majestically rises 604 meters over the Lysefjord, overlooking the surrounding mountains and automatically making it’s way on every travel wishlist I can imagine. With an estimated hiking time of just about four hours and just under an hour away from the city of Stavanger, the Preikestolen may also just be the easiest to reach classic Norwegian hike – it’s certainly a great deal more accessible than the wonderful Besseggen Ridge in Jotunheimen National Park.

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During the summer months, the Preikestolen is very easy to get to from Stavanger by Public Transport. The Preikestolen is one of the prime tourist attractions in the area, so you're not going to have it to yourself, but do try to take the earliest ferry you can manage: The hike is crowded in the morning as well, but it's not nearly as bad as in the afternoon!

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So, just how difficult is hiking the Preikestolen? Accounts on the internet vary from super, super easy to incredibly hard, so it will obviously depend on what kind of hiking you're used to. S and me are experienced hikers, but I am also very much not a fit person (not kidding, I struggle to run a mile) and I found the hike pretty easy. Yes, you're going to have to walk over boulders and yes, you'll have to walk up a mountain - but compared to many other hiking paths in Norway, the way up the Preikestolen is extraordinarily well walkable. We finished the entire hike in about three hours instead of the four hours that are usually suggested, though we did hurry on the way down. 

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If looking at the picture of the path above made you question my sanity when saying that the path to the Preikestolen is extraordinarily well walkable, then let me defend myself by saying that just knowing where you're supposed to go can be a big luxury when hiking in Norway. It's part of what makes the Norwegian outdoors so great, obviously, but something has to be said for a hiking trip where you don't constantly have to wonder if you're still on the path or, well, any path at all for that matter. I will say, however, that you have to make sure to wear proper shoes. No ballet flats, flip flops, high heels - if it belongs to the beach or a catwalk, it probably doesn't belong on a hiking path! 

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I'm ashamed to admit that the above picture is the only proper picture I got of the Preikestolen. Do yourself a favor and google some others right now to get an idea of what this place actually looks like! Here's the thing, though: The Preikestolen was uncomfortably full with people and that kind of made me more concerned with not tripping and falling down than with getting some super stellar shots. People do some extremely stupid stuff up there and I'm surprised that (thankfully) there have been so little accidents over the years, but I'd be lying if I said that standing on the Preikestolen wasn't at least a little bit scary. We did, however, have the most amazing view over the Lysefjord - is there anything that compares to the view above the world from a mountain? I'm not sure. 

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Natural sights in Norway never tend to feel particularly overrun: Many of them are simply so far out of the way and require so much time and physical effort to get to - hello twenty-two kilometers Trolltunga hike! - that they're not the tourist destinations that they really deserve to be. I don't think I have visited one place in Norway aside from the Geirangerfjord that was as crowded as the Preikestolen. This speaks words for how impressive it is, obviously, but the crowds got too much for us soon and so we decided to head back down. 

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In comparison to the hike, our ride back to Stavanger seemed very quiet. The Preikestolen is definitely an impressive sight and one that I would recommend to everyone visiting Norway. That being said, though, I'm sure that the Preikestolen would be even more beautiful and more impressive if there weren't so many people. If experiencing a little bit more solitude there is important to you (though I'm not sure that's actually possible), then make sure to do the hike very early in the morning or don't visit during the middle of Peak Season.

What's an iconic sight where you live?

linking up with Bonnie, Amy, Jessi & Camila

Norway | A Weekend in Stavanger

Friday, October 3, 2014

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August 2013

I know, I know: Another post on Norway! If the amount of writing I have done on Norway lately is not a testimony for the love I have for this country then I don’t know what is. Back in August last year, S and me went on a little impromptu trip south to Stavanger. Our main incentive to visit this little seaside city was a hike in the back country that we had set our eyes on, but the two days that we spent in Stavanger left me convinced that this is the most beautiful city in Norway. Sorry, Bergen! 

Equipped with some recommendations from fellow expat blogger Jay, we hopped on a ferry in Bergen and after four hours of cruising along the pristine Norwegian coast found ourselves greeted by the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. 

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We visited the museum the next day and it offered a good insight into what's arguably Norway's most important industry sector and the reason for the immense wealth of this country. Back in High School, I seriously contemplated studying geo sciences, so it was very interesting to get a look at what I may have "missed". 

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After settling into our hotel and going on our hike (more to come on that soon!), we finally set out to explore the city a bit. As Norway's fourth largest city, Stavanger can hardly be called a Metropolis, but I loved the relaxed and mellow vibe of the town. I had been living in Bergen for less than two weeks at the time and had trouble feeling truly at ease there (a fact that seems completely ridiculous to me now that I'm convinced that Bergen is one of the best places on earth), but Stavanger I loved from the very beginning. 

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Without a doubt, my favorite area in town was Gamle Stavanger, the Old Town of Stavanger. It's a quiet, residential area with charming white wooden houses and quaint cobblestone streets and I would have been ready to move in anywhere at a moment's notice. Scandinavian architecture has really started to grow on me over time and the houses in Gamle Stavanger were all so incredibly immaculate and polished. Did I ever mention that Norway must be the cleanest country I have ever been to?

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Another thing that I loved about Stavanger - and Bergen as well, may I add - was the abundance of public parks. The green spaces sprawled all throughout the city definitely added yet another element of relaxation to our visit. I know that I can always go on and on about what I love about Norway, but I just have to say it again: The way even bigger cities embrace nature is something other places should get behind at as well!

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Because most businesses are closed on Sundays in Norway, the city centre was pretty much devoid of people, but that may also just have been because everyone seemed to try to snatch up a ticket for an upcoming Robbie Williams concert. I know that this is probably not going to say anything to my North American readers, but suffice to say that a  Robbie Williams concert is a really, really big deal in Europe.

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Yes, totally rocking my hiking boots. I did wear them to go hiking the day before and probably wanted to keep my luggage small, though, so I guess that's fashionably acceptable. 

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We left Stavanger on Sunday Evening and cruised back along the coast to Bergen with the setting sun begging us farewell. 

What's one of your favorite small cities in your country? I'm always looking for new travel inspiration!

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