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Archive for the ‘travel & adventures’ Category

I was fumbling through my iPod to resurrect some long forgotten tunes and I decided to give my older Jason Mraz CD’s a whirl again. I’ve been a fan of San Diego based Mraz for years but haven’t spun his older tracks in many moons. I’m sure you’ve heard his current hit, I’m Yours, that’s been circulating on the radio, from his recently released May 2008 CD, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. I just adore his sassy lyrical wordsmith style.

Listening to his earlier songs reminded me why I like him. He makes me smile. And smiling feels good. 

There are plenty of tracks you can sink your teeth into and hum over and over again. I heart Mr. Curiosity, The Remedy, You and I Both, Bella Luna, and of course who doesn’t love Geek in the Pink, made even that more famous by the American Idol contest, Chris Richardson. (But of course, Jason’s the real rhythm and rhyme master). Mr. Mraz will be in flapping his chops in Sweden this September and Fattie just surprised me with tickets! Yah! 

Here are just a couple videos to get you in the mood.

Jason’s current hit, I’m Yours

and one of my favorite songs, Life is Wonderful from his CD, Mr. A-Z:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkHTsc9PU2A

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l74d1fmZbw

 

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Whew. After the last two months of pre-wedding scrambling (and being absent from all things blog-related ~ my apologies!), we’re off to Costa del Sol! I can hardly believe it’s just about here. 

The ‘big day’. 

Just a teaser pic of the beach in Spain……more to come. Stay tuned. 

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We had an amazing time in Costa del Sol…..

We were able to soak up some rays but now back in Sweden I feel my tan fading by the minute. Here are some pictures from the girls trip last week over the Easter break combined with a holiday in July ’07 where Fattie and I also wandered into Gibraltar, Ronda, and many of the quaint white washed pueblo villages.

In just 3 short months we’ll be there again with a bunch of our friends and family!

I can’t wait.

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I know, normally it’s date night but for us it has been date week.

We wanted to spend time together while doing something good for ourselves and our bodies. We quickly agreed on the answer. Regular trips to the gym followed by evenings of cooking for each other. With the upcoming nuptials and my latest attempt to squeeze into my Amsale wedding dress, I thought this sounded like a excellent idea.

So, we grabbed our duffel bags and trotted off to the club.

But not your pedestrian treadmill, recumbent bike, or boring circuit training routines. No.

We went swimming.

date

At first, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. Swimming? Really? I mean, I love most bodies of water – lakes, pools (laying beside them in posh hotels), and always look forward to playing in the surf at the beach. But, uh, swimming laps? What are we? All of sudden 75? Since I’m usually up for new adventures and love Fattie to death – I grinned and agreed to give it a go.

But not without some apprehension. Here’s my top 5 concerns:

1) Germs. I don’t like them.

I certainly don’t like my bare feet coming in contact with any gym/locker room floor – and would NEVER consider taking a shower in a public place without flip flops on (even on our trip to Italy last month I showered in the hotel with thongs on). I know, I know – it’s borderline OCD.

2) Chlorine. Not my BFF.

My locks are professionally straightened and highlighted every 8-10 weeks, so chlorine, it’s drying agents, and all those other pool chemicals and I – just don’t get along.

3) Swimsuit. I don’t own one.

I mean, I don’t own a proper suit for swimming. I have about 60 suits to catch rays in – they’re called b-i-k-i-n-i-s and not really what you see folks draped in while they’re dog paddling around the pool to work up a sweat.

4) Casper. As in, Casper the ghost.

My first winter in Sweden and I’m paler than I’ve ever been, so you can understand I was horrified of the thought of showing my bleached out body to the general public.

5) Dork Incorporated. Probably not on the top 10 list of ‘cool’ things to do.

To be honest, I felt like a the biggest nerd answering my sister in law when she asked curiously the other day, “What are you guys going to do tonight?”…..me muttering under my breath, “Uh, we’re going swimming”.

Now, here’s a little interesting, or depending on how you look at it depressing, nugget of information about Sweden. The Swedes remove their shoes upon entering a place of residence. Not only do I think it’s terrible to be greeted by a pile of shoes at your front entry way, I’m just not used to it. And frankly – don’t like it.

See, I adore shoes. I’ve been known to build entire outfits around my shoes, so chucking them off at the door is somewhat alarming to me. All my pants, and I mean ALL my pants besides my Juicy sweat-suits, have been tailored for high-heels. The removal of any footwear means I not only become shorter but if I’m not in a dress or skirt then I also have 4 inches of pant leg dragging around behind me. Not attractive. And certainly not the ‘look’ I was going for. With the exception of boots, I’m used to walking around in strappy sandal type shoes – you know, the kind you don’t wear socks with – so, you can bet your bootie I’m not entirely thrilled about being in someone’s home for a dinner or cocktail party barefoot with pants in tow.

But really. I am leading up to something here.

We checked into the gym and rounded the corner to proceed to the locker rooms only to be embraced by the largest mud room I’ve ever laid my big brown eyes upon. What? Those stinking Swedes remove their shoes here too? At the gym? Uh-huh. Apparently, it’s common (and highly encouraged) to drop off your shoes BEFORE entering the locker room.

Nope. Not having it. None of it.

I glanced over at Fattie and squeaked apologetically, “I’m not doing it. I don’t care if I am being disrespectful…..I’m N-O-T doing it.” At this point, not only the potential cooties came into play but you can imagine I was mortified at the thought of leaving my hundred and fifty dollar UGGs out in the open for anyone to snag or worse yet the possibility of someone sticking their foot into my boot – eeewww. Ok, ok. I know. Take it easy. No, I don’t think the local Swedes are thieves; and no, I don’t think I’m so important that someone would really want to steal my shoes – but I can’t take that chance and I certainly can’t walk barefoot into the locker room!

Of course, being who he is and loving me for who I am, Fattie just smiled at me while he was finding a nice home on the shelf for his Converse.

Swim

Wow. Not exactly the burn from lifting weights or the high from running but swimming is hard work. I was envisioning these straight roped off lanes, head down, goggles on, proceeding ahead with the crawl stroke….But to my surprise the dudes in the water were swimming the breast stroke in a long rectangular loop. After a few laughs and comments about being the youngest people there by at least 30 years, I cautiously merged into the circle of elders….The first 2 laps were silly but alright. The next 48 were some kind of modern water torture. I made it through, only after stopping to rest and giggle with Fattie every 10 laps or so.

Now here’s something I had never seen before. Self cleaning hot-tubs. Ok, I guess that is cool and all. But what this really means is everyone and their grandmother scrambles to the jacuzzi at the same time sandwiching in next to each other and then right on queue, exactly 10 minutes later, everyone jumps out to allow the tub to ‘cleanse itself’. 10 minutes in – 10 minutes out. Weird.

Then came the locker room.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in the near vicinity with so many naked 75 year old ladies in my entire life. My eyes must have been as big as saucers! Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude or shy of nudity – I worked in a health club for several years in my early 20’s so I am very accustomed to the gym and locker room culture. But holy smokes. I’ve seen children smaller than some of those bushes! The gardener must be on a permanent holiday. And don’t get me started on the sauna – it looked like a box of raisins.

Then it hit me. Someday I will be just like these little old ladies – hopefully with a little less hair. Spooky.

If on day/date 1 of our swimming adventure we were the youngest peeps by 30 years, then day 2 we were certainly the oldest by 30 years. Mental note: Mondays = senior night, Wednesday = kiddie night. Oh, the joy.

By our 2nd week hitting the drink, swimming was becoming an amusing routine. We both feel amazingly refreshed afterwards and savor the time we are spending together participating in an engaging, healthy, and, well – goofy activity. We also have had a brilliant time coming up with creative plates of grub to dish up for each other. Last week Fattie made these fabulous Greek meatballs of freshly ground lamb aside homemade tzatziki – reminded me of the yearly Greek festival back home – YUMO.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get so into this swimming thing I might even invest in a proper swimsuit – maybe even a swimming cap. Daaaaang – did I really just write that? So, it is very possible we are I am a giant dork. But at least I won’t be a barefoot dork.

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Where the eff is the sun?

The winter has been mild in Sweden this season but even so it’s been ridiculously boring weather. Being from the Pacific Northwest I have to confess – I am used it. Even so, each year about February or March I just can’t take it anymore. I’m dying to see the sun, be wrapped up in it’s warmth and feel my cheeks turn rosy pink from those heat rays. We used to have a sales meeting every February and it was superb to sneak away – even if it was for work – to a tropical location. Just the trip that was needed to break up the winter blues.

In just a handful of days I’ll be in Costa del Sol – cocktail in hand lounging by the pool and basking in that elusive sunshine.

I’m jacked.

Last summer Fattie and I drove down to Spain – from Sweden. Yup. Now that’s a road trip. I had just moved to Scandinavia and it was our celebratory trip. We had a phenomenal time.

Beach

On this excursion I’ll be heading to Spain with my sister-in-law. She’ll be an amazing travel partner and I’m totally thrilled for some girl time but I’ll desperately miss Fattie.

It will be the first time we have been apart for any significant length of time since summer ’07. How time changes life. 2 years ago we spent more time on separate continents than in the same room and now I can’t even imagine being away from him overnight – little alone 10 days.

 

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Wow….What an amazing trip!

Italy for Valentines Day? Yup. A ski holiday I would have only dreamt about last year. Truly a one of a kind gift. Thanks Fattie!

Obviously, one of the great benefits of living in Europe is how easily you can hop from country to country. So a quick flight to Milan along with a 2 hour drive and we were sipping Italian wine in the snowy Alps. We stayed in the small quaint village of Champoluc, close to the Swiss and French borders. Spending most of our time up in those gorgeous mountains with the sun shining down on us was….D-I-V-I-N-E.

Everyone knows I’m a beginning skier and don’t particularly like to be out in the cold so initially I was just jacked to be ‘going away’ for holiday – spending my birthday and Valentines in Italy sounded perfect. But after a week of hitting the slopes every stinking day, bruises and all, I was equally excited about the skiing. The snow was perfect for a newbie like me, the pistes were all trimmed and fresh, and gazing at the Matterhorn everyday was incredible.

The main chair lift is conveniently located smack dab in the middle of town. Every morning after downing an espresso we sauntered 10 minutes over to the gondolas and were off. We skied the majority of the day and by 5 in the afternoon, beer in hand, we were firmly planted on our bums warming up in one of the after ski joints watching the mountains turn pink from the setting sun.

Words fail me. I’m at a loss on how to convey the pure beauty of the scene.

I would highly recommend Italy’s largest skiing region Monterosa Ski to those looking for an Italian winter ski/snow board holiday. Beautiful, low key, family friendly, and affordable. You can hit the lifts (38 of them!) and manage to ski several valleys throughout the day before making your way back into town. Fantastic and surprisingly undiscovered. At times, it felt as if we were the only ones there.

We even mustered up the guts to tackle an adventure course high up in the trees. Cable walks, zip lines, and suspension bridges – 22 courses in all. It was a little nerve racking but a grip of fun. Parco Avventura is definitely a must do if you make it to Champoluc, Italy.

I can’t wait for Valentines 2009.

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