A Swedish Holiday

Hello Friends,

My mother's family is from Sweden. My brother and I are half Swedish.  An important fact for this post, which is half story and half Swedish tradition/folklore.

Open my freezer and you are likely to find Vetebrod.  My family refers to it simply as 'bulla', a sweet bread. 

A story...
Last year I became friends with a gal who was born and raised in southern Sweden. In addition to being runners and career women, we are both Swedish.  We spend a lot of time together.  Predawn running, discussing daily life highs/lows, books, etc.

Over the last year, I have realized I wasn't raised with Swedish traditions, and often wonder HOW is this possible?! CAN it be possible? Our friendship has created curiosity, often leading to researching a story, folklore, or tradition. My childhood memories include Limpa, cheese, lingonberries, caviar, knackebrod, lutefisk, pletta, raggmunk, meatballs... plenty of Swedish food but sadly it did not include long-standing Swedish tradition.

This brings me to yesterday.   I joined my friend, and her children, to attend a Swedish Christmas Market and St Lucia celebration.  I was hoping to find Dala Horses and straw ornaments.  I didn't know what to expect but was surprised to see gnomes everywhere.

a crashing success!

Hello friends,

My last blog post was late July.  My first thought is 'I'm sorry for not posting for so long' followed by 'has it really been three months?!

In July,  I mentioned being in the midst of planning an island holiday.  I thought I would post a few times, but planning a holiday celebration for 26 people was a lot of work.

What were we planning?
A celebration of friendship (and Bill's 50th birthday). You may be asking yourself, 'how do they choose just twelve people'....  it started with a list of men playing a significant role in Bill's daily life.  Brothers, friendships spanning 25+ years, the men we rely on to help us, guide us, challenge us.  And their wives!

After researching to find the perfect destination fitting our needs, we reserved Fowl Cay A YEAR AGO. 

European Adventure Part 3: Vienna

Hello Friends,

This is the third, and final stop of our 16 day holiday.  While this is business travel for the World Traveler, I join him a few times a year and we find time for mini holidays.

Part I: Montreaux, Switzerland
Part II: Budapest, Hungary

We drove from Budapest to Vienna, via the autobahn.  A quick trip, just a few hour drive.

Vienna, Budapest, and Montreux in one holiday - these are three different places!  Vienna is pristine.  I immediately noticed that you only find grass in parks. We discussed that in ye old days the rain must have bathed the city.  Today this can happen with power spray.

With about three days to explore, we selected a hotel in a walking distance of many sights. This is a city I would like to visit again. Planned similar to Paris, Vienna has 23 districts. Mozart, Beethoven, Freud, and Marie Antoinette are just a few people that call Vienna home. 

Highlights and Observations
- We arrived Saturday afternoon. After settling in, I ran to a castle... again! Purely by accident... I found one of the most famous places in Vienna. The Belvedere Palace.

- On Sunday we were too close not to visit Marie Antoinette's childhood home.  Getting there requires a few transfers on the train and a mile walk.

The grounds are like visiting a state fair.  What I mean by this is that Schonbrunn Palace offers SO much to do an see.  Days are needed, not hours.

- We traveled back to Inner Stadt for coffee, to find Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss', and walk through Hundertwasser House and Village.  Take a few minutes to research The Kiss and Hundertwasser online.  You won't regret it.

This wraps up this European adventure.  Thanks for traveling with us!
With love and gratitude, Mari
The Belvedere Palace

Schonbrunn Palace: Marie Antoinette's childhood home
Train Station, Pretzels at the Easter Markt, our first glance at the Palace

Easter Merkt - Hundertwasser - St Stephen's Cathedral
Doesn't it remind you of Alice in Wonderland?
The perfect ending to our adventure - a stroll, coffee, a date.

European Adventure Part 2: Budapest

Hello Friends,

Add Budapest to your must travel / bucket list today!  I may not find the right words to express the feeling of this beautiful city but know it's historically somber with fantastic energy and style.

This is my first time visiting an eastern European country; this old town has been beautifully cared for, and I'm happy to report... it's a walking city.

Blessed with a week to explore while the World Traveler and his colleagues were hosting a conference, I had time to learn and walked miles every day.  I had to be out, on the streets, absorbing.

On day one we settled into our room, met a group for dinner, and found ourselves at a concert in the basement of a hot spot. The locals were dancing and singing to a Jackson Five cover band. This was going to be a great adventure!

Click here to read Part I: Montreux, Switzerland
Click here to view our travel journal

Highlights and Observations
- I have a Pinterest board for Budapest listing must sees and lesser known places.  I tend to go out of my way to find places tourists don't know to see.

- We both have motorcycle licenses which lets us rent scooters while traveling.  Budapest is a perfect city to explore on a scooter since Budapest is expansive.  The Turkish Bathe Houses are a few miles out of the tourist district.  During this trip, we had the scooters for two days.  We saw so much, it's a forced technology break, and we made a date out of our time together.  Lunch and exploring, stopping to walk through parks, take in the monuments/sights, etc.. Did you know Buda is hilly, and Pest is flat?

- You must find the Shoes Memorial which honors the Jews killed in Budapest: ordered to take off their shoes, and shot, so their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.

- Walk across the River Danube via the Yellow Bridge, and cross back to Pest on the Chain Bridge. You will walk by Parliament and a lovely boardwalk.

- In Buda, you must see the Freedom Monument ( a tribute to the end of Nazi occupation) and the Castle.  Back in Pest, find the Thousand Notes Pub, shop The Great Market (it's one of the best markets I have visited),

- All of the communist statues have been removed from the streets, gathered up and placed in one central location.

- Enjoy a Transylvanian Chimney Cake... Delish!

Budapest is on my top five list of places I have been lucky enough to see.  I could go on and on talking about this city, but now it's time to pack up and depart for our last destination.

Enjoy the photos below; now we are off to Vienna!
Thousand Notes Pub
Gellert hill overlooks Budapest. The climb takes about 15 minutes and is well worth it to see all the statues of men being manly (plus some nice views).

Szimpla Kertmozi - If you are lucky enough to find this car free... you have sit for a drink/lunch!
Ruins Pub

I did not care for the fish pedicure!

European Adventure Part 1: Montreux

Hello Friends!

How did a trip to Bangkok land us in Budapest? The World Traveler had an speaking engagement/hosting responsibilities at an industry conference that was relocated for political unrest (safety of the guests and their travel companions).

So... with just a few weeks notice, I started researching Budapest.  This is three country trip is a business trip for the World Traveler and a working vacation for me (working lightly to keep up with projects since I'm traveling for three weeks). Before Budapest comes a week in Switzerland. While I adore Vevey, we stayed in Montreux this visit. I was determined to explore Montreux... the markets, shoppes, and winding roads. 

Did you know the locals live up the hillside and travel by foot via Escalier's?  These are hidden stairs, woven through neighborhoods (see photo below) and must their secret to staying healthy.

Travel: Part IV Hangzhou & Ningbo China

Hello Friends,

This is Part IV of our Asian Extravaganza!

Hangzhou is 800 miles south of Beijing, a five hour trip via the Bullet Train.We arrived after the sunset, settling in for just one night.  The photo above was my first view of this city.  I remember looking out our hotel window and thinking the fog rolling over a winter morning was lovely.... then quickly realized pollution was following me. 

Travel: Part III 36 hours in Beijing

Dear Friends,

When I travel with Bill for work we tend to plan a weekend getaway.  This time our getaway had us spending over ten hours in a train, but it was worth every minute!
Click here to read Part I & II of our Asian Tour.

This is likely my one and only time coming to eastern China (the pollution freaked me out) - so close to the Great Wall that we set our sights on Beijing.

Traveling 217 MPH via Bullet Train

Travel: Part II, Shanghai

(This is part two of a five-city trip. This is a long post but filled with noteworthy experiences.)

Lovely Friends,
You might think China is at the top of my must see list but... the pollution scares me enough for it to remain lower on my travel list.  The World Traveler spends a lot of time in Asia and when he asked me to join him for a three-week visit I jumped at the opportunity!

We have many stories behind our Shanghai photos, most not captured on film.  Bill did get to morph into Jason Bourne in a thrilling Shanghai hour; it was quite an experience!

Travel: Three days in Singapore

Hello friends,

Today I'm excited to tell you about a recent trip to Singapore, part one of a 16-day adventure in China.  We traveled from NYC to Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, and Ningbo.

Let the adventure begin!

Our flight path to Singapore brought us over the north pole, over Russia, China, and landing in Hong Kong, where we missed our connecting flight by a few minutes.  A few hours later we flew on a local airline to Singapore...

Singapore is a young country, turning 50 this year.  It reminded me a bit of George Jetson's world.

It's a cultural melting pot which makes for an exciting visit.
{Photo from Google Images}

While the World Traveler was on business, in air conditioning, and I was outside exploring.   It was very hot while we were there, nearly 100 degrees and humid!

Buddha Tooth Relic: This was my first time seeing/entering a Buddhist Temple.  Stepping into the Temple brings an immediate calmness.  I didn't want to leave.

Travel: Switzerland & France

Lac Leman (Geneva)
Bonjour les amis,

Last fall my husband, and I traveled to Hamburg, Germany before heading to Switzerland for a few weeks.  Why Hamburg? A good friend of our calls Hamburg home and wanted a big celebration for her birthday.  We were close and excited to be part of her big day.

Click here to read about our visit to northern Germany. 

Our next stop: Vevey, Switzerland

After settling in our hotel, the World Traveler was off to work.  When I join him on these long trips I work remotely, and being five hours ahead provides time to explore before sitting in front of my laptop.

I love everything about Switzerland, even Sunday's (everything is closed).

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