Heavenly Hibernation

Destination Unknown

There is time for everything.

There is time to blog, and there is time to let go. While I’m still planning to hang on at least to the edges of this corner of the world wide web, I’ve decided to officially put the blog in hibernation. It is cold, after all here in Norway! And maybe when the spring comes, the blog will crawl out of its hiding place to find out the first rays of sun of the new season. Or maybe not.

While I have somewhat seemingly lazily been updating the blog as of late, it is something that is in my mind. All. The. Time. And as my days are filled with an interesting job (check us out if you are ever thinking of a trip to the Nordics, the Arctic or Russia and need bit of assistance!), family life and at least trying to get outdoors, I have found myself in a place where I try to balance one too many things, struggling to fit it all in the short space of 24 hours a day.

So instead, when it comes to the online world, I might spend more time over in Instagram, after first exploring outdoors with my camera at more frequent intervals than right now. And I might check out Goodreads, after naturally reading a book or two in the process. You will for sure find me in Facebook, posting updates here and there. And no doubt I’ll be planning a few great adventures with my friends and family.

And what better, I might also spend good bit of time doing nothing at all. Just hibernating.

So huuuuuge thanks to everyone who has followed along over the last few years, dropped in for a quick visit, sent a message or an email, or said hello in social media. I appreciate it more than you can guess. I will continue with few other online projects and at least visit the pages of Skimbaco Lifestyle Magazine every once and a while, so please follow the team over there if you are after some interesting travel related lifestyle reading.

So for now it is time for good byes, and maybe we meet again here in the spring!

xx

25 Hours and Hamburg

I’m pretty much at ease being naked. In a sauna. And as long as everyone is following the unwritten social rules I’m used to living by in Finland. But Germany stepped up the “nakedness” protocol to a new level, in a slightly uncomfortable way even for a Finn.

Very excited, as sauna is the number one thing I miss from back home in Finland, I picked up my 10 euros worth of sauna package from the hotel reception at 25hours hotel Hafencity in Hamburg, and headed up to the sixth and top floor for a sauna reconnaissance mission with my camera. All was well, I was quite taken by the combination of industrial design, cool views over the city, refreshing drizzle of rain trickling in through the gaps in the window panes and the “convertible” roof, and the hotness of the sauna itself. There was even a bucket full of water and ladle ready to be used to toss scoops of water on the hot stones of the “kiuas”, as any proper sauna should have. I was about to head back to my room to drop off the camera when a German couple entered the showering area ready to go in the sauna. I have to admit, I stalled a little, curious to see what the protocol here was with the “sauna outfits”. Maybe a swimming costume, maybe a towel, I thought. But no, they were butt-naked.

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Now, as much as I do think nakedness and sauna go hand in hand, here I was fretting away feeling very uncomfortable about the thought of entering a mixed gender sauna naked. And so I retired to my room and reclined on the bed with a book for a while, before I dared to make the trip upstairs again to the sauna, with my swimming costume on…

But sauna was not the main reason to write this post, although it was one of the reasons why I loved this hotel I stayed in on a recent trip to Hamburg. Decent saunas are not easy to come by after all, even here in Norway, which is in a close proximity to my home country both in distance and some what in cultural sense too. And as the combination of words “hotel” and “review” bring a cringe to my face when you add the words “travel blog” in the same sentence, I leave the reviewing to others and let the pictures combined with a few words give an idea why I thought this was such a great spot.

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Free bikes for guests to use. With pink baskets. While I would not go on a long cycle tour with these bikes, they were perfect for discovering the city by bike.

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Lounge with unlimited selection of tea. And good tea, that is!

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Comfortable room that is more than just a standard affair when it comes to a hotel room, with personal touches that make it cozy and comfortable.

25hours hotel hafencity I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Restaurant where you actually do want to sit down and eat in, instead of the “I’m too tired to go anywhere, got to stay here” alternative.

Even though I’ve always been slightly wary of Germany as a travel destination (Hamburg did do a good job in changing that though!), I would not mind checking out the other 25hours hotels in Hamburg, Berlin or Frankfurt, as they are all unique and bring something from their local surroundings into their design and concept.

But while I’m plotting the next weekend getaway and bigger adventures for this year, I’m also trying to figure out how to fit it all in just 24 hours a day…

Happy New Year everyone, hope 2016 is a good one! <3

The trip to Hamburg was part of a collaborative campaign between Nordic Travel Bloggers and Hamburg Tourismus. However, I decided on my own itinerary & activities and have full liberty to choose what I portray from the trip.

Hamburg and Formula for Weekend Getaways

Plenty of outdoors with bit of indoors. That seems to be the winning combination for making the best out of a weekend in a city for me, but after New York I did plan to stay put at home and explore our backyard. If even that. This autumn has been hectic to say the least and the idea of home, fireplace, cup of tea and a book have never sounded better. But then came the invitation to come to Hamburg and Germany, and you know the story of  a rubber arm…

Biking in Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

And the possibility of exploring new city on a bike.

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And good soul food on a rainy day. Eating out outside the borders Norway is a pleasure, especially when the bill comes. It is all so cheap…

I could not resist.

Me and Germany don’t really have a thing going on. I’ve visited Bavaria and Berlin several times and liked both, but the rest of it? Drive-through country. Hence the idea of a weekend in Hamburg, getting to know the place and just sitting in the cafes, biking leisurely along the streets and lounging on a hotel bed was irresistible.

UNESCO Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

And so was Hamburg.

Earlier this year “Speicherstadt”, the historical district of red-brick warehouses connected by canals and bridges was granted UNESCO world heritage status, and the buildings that once stored coffee, spices and tobacco and still partly do so now also host museums, Persian carpet stores, new innovative businesses and even one hotel. Once upon time there were approximately 20,000 people living in this area and that in mind the district now was almost eerily empty of regular daily life, but beautiful nevertheless in the autumn sun. And got to admit it, Speicherstadt was pretty even in the pouring rain.

UNESCO Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

UNESCO Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

UNESCO Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

One of the new residents of the district is Kaffeemuseum of Burg, the Museum of Coffee which is not only a museum, but a place where you can get a real taste of what coffee tasting is about. I didn’t quite master it, although the coffee mix I prepared as a souvenir for my other half was marvellous. So I say, before anyone tastes it…

Kaffeemuseum Burg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Kaffeemuseum Burg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

For someone who’s not into running from one attraction to another with a guidebook (=me), Hamburg was perfect. Especially after New York, the lack of high rises meant that Germany’s 2nd largest city with almost 2 million inhabitants felt small and approachable, and when not biking, the metro system was easy as. And when it started pouring, I found few possible ways to spend the day, besides those cafes or the ever-calling quietness of my hotel room.

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Hiding from the rain underground in the Old Elbe Tunnel is kind of cool for anyone interested in photography, and with a tripod. Other than that it is a handy 426m underway to cross from St.Pauli Piers over to Steinwerder, and originally it was built for the dock workers to get across. You can either take the steps or lift down, and there is even a lift for cars, although how often there is other than pedestrian traffic or cyclists, I don’t know.

Harbour Boat Trip Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

You’d think that the best time to join a harbour cruise would be when the weather is good, and that’s probably right, but this was not a bad way to spend an hour with a refreshment, mainly staying indoors and watching the harbour views go by. That one time I ventured out, I got soaked. So did my camera.

Markzeit in Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Saving the best till the last, the market or markzeit in Fabrik was just what the doctor ordered for someone wanting a taste of ethnic food. They had it all. I wouldn’t trek all the way there for souvenirs, but for good food in funky surroundings and with bit of live music to wash the food down, this was perfect.

Autumnal Hamburg I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

So New York versus Hamburg. Got to admit, for bit of city life, quirky shopping and excellent food, there is no need to go all the way to New York. Hamburg for me is only 1,5 hours plane ride away and it had it all, in a smaller package! And when it comes to Germany in general, I have to admit, I was positively surprised how not everything was as orderly and organised as one would have thought going by the reputation.

And so be it. I could do more of this. City breaks with biking, good food and a cool hotel. The hotel was actually so cool that it requires its own post, but until then, I’m going to get that fire going, boil the kettle for a cup of tea and fetch the next Jussi Adler-Olsen Department Q Novel. For anyone into Scandinavian crime fiction, highly recommend!

The trip to Hamburg was part of a collaborative campaign between Nordic Travel Bloggers and Hamburg Tourismus. However, I decided on my own itinerary & activities and have full liberty to choose what I portray from the trip. 

On New York, Hamburg and New Era of City Breaks

“City break” is not a term that has often made its appearance in my vocabulary although I do get the rough idea of what these entail. Holidays in cities.

“Why on earth” I have wondered…

But then came New York.

Highline New York I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

And with New York came jet lag induced early mornings lugging my camera equipment along the old railway line wanting to experience it all, but desperately looking for a stop in a cafeteria to get some feeling in my chilled fingers again.

New York by Citibike I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Arriving in New York wasn’t about yellow cabs or getting lost in the maze of subway lines and bus connections. It was about trying to find another Citi Bike spot before my “free” thirty minutes were up. These bike rental spots are literally all over the Manhattan, except when you need one.

Manhattan Waterfront Greenway I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Although I was told the Central Park was the place to be if you want to get outdoors in NYC, I opted for the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway instead. And not only because it was more convenient for the hotel I stayed in. I had forgotten how the early morning sun only highlights the top of the highrises in cities the size of New York, and instead of finding cover in the greenery of the Park, I found these sunny, crispy mornings by the water soothing.

Highline New York I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

It might have been that New York only got its chance because I was in the city on business, combined with a couple of days for own exploration, but I think this might have kicked off a new era of city breaks for me: quick getaways with outdoors in a city enjoying excellent food and lots of sleep. I leave the partying to others for now, until the two under 4-year olds in our household let me catch up with, well, four years worth of sleep…

Visit Hamburg I @ Visit Hamburg

The next city brake is already literally at the door, as I head to Hamburg in Germany on Friday with four other Scandinavian bloggers. Follow along as each one of us discovers the city in our own way. For me it is going to be an exciting mix of cycling, UNESCO sites, culture, cool cafes and bit of shopping. Do follow along virtually in Instagram, Facebook and Twitter over the weekend! For all of our updates see #HamburgWinterSeason and #UnescoHamburg and check out what my fellow travellers are up to in Hamburg: Sophie at Sophie’s World, Alex at Virtual Wayfarer, Caroline at Love, Live Travel and Helena at Oh Darling, Let’s be Adventurous.

For those who might be as clueless about New York as I was, read on for some outdoors influenced tips for the city. And for the others, see you in Hamburg!?

OUTDOORSY TIPS FOR NEW YORK

  • Citi Bikes. Handy way to get around the city. For about $10 you get access to the bikes for 24 hours, and as long as you return them within 30 minutes, there is no extra charge. More info: Citi Bikes New York
  • Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Perfect for strolling, biking, watching fishermen or just eating ice cream on one of the many benches. Check out the map for the Greenway here.
  • High Line. Much appraised urban park build on old railway tracks. Highly recommend in the early morning hours! See more information and what’s happening along the High Line here.
  • REI. One got to do some shopping while in New York. If you’d rather do than shop, REI has a whole host of cool activities and courses too (click click). I almost went for the compass and map reading workshop. Guess why??
  • Central Park. Park of all parks I hear. I need to go back and see what it really is all about. All I got was this one Instagram shot

Disclosure: I’m heading to Hamburg as part of a campaign between Hamburg Tourism and Nordic Travel Bloggers. What I write/photograph from this trip is as always up to me.

Hamburg Images: Visit Hamburg & www.mediaserver.hamburg.de

Ten Days, Nine Flights

Life has kicked onto a whole new gear.

My other half has been criss-crossing Europe in his van and ten or so kayaks on top for the last few weeks. “Mummi” i.e. the Finnish granny picked up the kids from Oslo, Norway and shuttled them to Finland for a break. And I have been flying, flying and flying. Norway, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark and Finland.

Due to next to no internet in the last week even my Instagram account has been strangely quiet, and hence I thought I’d give a sneak peak to my new, possibly “one of the absolute favourites” travel destinations. Meet Greenland through Visit Greenland!

 

Now it is time to take a deep breath, sit back and enjoy few weeks with the family, until it’s time to go again. New York here we come!

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have any tips for NY! It’s almost 20 years since my last visit…

It’s been ages since I last participated in Instagram Travel Thursday here on the blog. If you want to join in too check out how to go on about it on Skimbaco Lifestyle and see below for more travel & Instagram related inspiration!