Stockholm

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Alright so I’m severely lagging behind on posts, but finally got some time so let’s get started. In February, RyanAir was having a crazy promotion for flights to Stockholm (like S$30 return). Honestly I didn’t know much about Stockholm or even Sweden (other than IKEA) so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. But tickets were cheap (and well I’m guju) so I decided it was time to get the traveling started. Fast forward 2 weeks later with tickets purchased, hostel booked, bags packed (with plenty of masala chai and nashta)…we were ready for Sweden!

Stockholm –  where history meets contemporary. Explore a street and you’ll find a H&M (which I just found out is Swedish!) and slightly further down you’ll spot a building from the 1900s. I love how this Scandinavian capital lets you enjoy the perks of our 21st century yet at the same time cherish historical treasures.

Instead of boring you with a detailed breakdown of my trip (on day 1 we visited blah blah…zzz), I’ll summarise the places we visited and include my favourites in case you’re looking for tips when visiting Stockholm.

Gamla Stan

I am officially in love with European old towns. Just like Den Gamle By in Aarhus (see previous post), Gamla Stan is the medieval city centre of Stockholm. Multicoloured buildings, narrow winding streets, cobblestone pathways, quaint cafes…I could spend the whole day exploring Gamla Stan.

Drottningham Palace 

While not a must-visit on everyone’s list, this UNESCO World Heritage Site sure is a pretty sight. Part of the palace is open to visitors but majority of it is cordoned off as it is the permanent residence of Sweden’s King and Queen. The palace grounds go on for miles and the gardens are definitely worth the visit. You can’t help but feeling slightly royal when touring the palace grounds (not chooswani rani type of royal though…).

Chokladkoppen

“The hot chocolate here will change your life.” Someone told us this, so how could we leave without checking it out? This hidden gem is tucked away in one of Gamla Stan’s many streets. Warm lighting, wooden furniture, whimsical pasteries. Crowded yet cozy, the comfortable ambience at Chokladkoppen made it a place you didn’t want to leave. Life-changing would be a bit of an exaggeration but boy was their hot chocolate good! Lying under a layer of creamy froth was the rich and decadent hot cocoa.

This sums up our trip to Stockholm. It was basically a lot of walking, picture-taking, eating and drinking (literally stopped for a hot chocolate break every 2 hours). No regrets because after all, that’s what a holiday is supposed to be like! In the 3 days we were there, the weather was rather gloomy and gray (perhaps that’s why flight tickets were so cheap?) Nonetheless rain or shine, Stockholm is gorgeous and I would go back for its spectacular skyline any day.

Tips

  • Transport – Public transport prices in Stockholm are rather steep (~$7 for a one way tube ride), so you should try to find accommodation in the city centre. There are several hostels (e.g Interhostel, City Backpackers Hostel) located in the heart of the city, placing many attractions within walking distance.
  • Food – Meals in Stockholm can get costly as well (basically Stockholm is expensive okay). Pretty generic advise, but have a heavy breakfast so you can skip lunch and splurge on dinner. Oh and always carry snacks! (Mum trained me well)
  • Alcohol (admit it, you were waiting for this) – Booze is heavily regulated by the government in Sweden. Unless you’re willing to fork up big bucks at a bar or club, I would recommend pre-drinking by buying your own alcohol from the government-run Systembolaget retail stores (yes, you can buy booze only from these stores).

P.S. I recently found out that apparently it’s a known fact that Stockholm has the sexiest men in the world? Not gonna lie; those tall, blonde, blue-eyed Swedish guys sure are ridiculously good looking.

Den Gamle By

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First and foremost, apologies for the lack of updates recently (ew, I sound like those typical bloggers who pretend they have 1000 readers).

Anyways, throwback to a few Saturdays ago when it was adventure time! As cliché as it sounds, the birds were chirping, the sun was shining (yes, sun in 2 degrees is possible), and all in all it was a beautiful day to discover another one of Aarhus’s gems. It was time to visit the much raved about Old Town – Den Gamle By.

Picturesque brick houses, cobblestone streets, horse carriages: it was like walking into a movie scene. You feel as though you have travelled into the past and are back in simpler times. I have always loved these kind of places; it’s hard to explain why but their irresistible vintage charm leaves you feeling very happy. Not to forget, it’s an Instagrammer’s paradise! Those colourful houses make perfect #OOTD backgrounds (although when you only have 1 winter jacket, there isn’t much variety in OOTD…) #firstworldproblems.

We spent almost 2 hours exploring the Old Town. It’s basically an open-air museum and each house had a story to tell. We wandered into some of them to read up on their history. Came across a pharmacy, a bar, an old barber shop and even a hat shop – an entire shop dedicated to making and selling hats!? (owner must have been a Mad Hatter). 2 hours and a couple of kilometres later, we were ready for a hot chocolate break and decided to call it a day.

Keeping this post short, partly because I’m lazy and partly because the the pictures do most of the talking. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words (ugh *cringe*, I’m being so cliché today).

P.S. I will marry you if you buy me that vintage Volkswagen. In pink.

Recycle with Sparkle

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Thursday = break day; meaning time to explore. For a tiny town, Aarhus has a plethora of events ongoing. Such a happening city, I love it. Okay back to the topic, so one of the events I attended was a Re-design workshop by REUSE. REUSE is basically this warehouse sorta place where people can drop off things they no longer need and can also take something they need. It’s a beautiful concept, after all ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

So they had several colourful caravans (pictured above) and each caravan was filled with items of a particular category. For example, the ‘kitchen’ had all sorts of tableware. The ‘children’ caravan was the cutest (with a bed full of stuffed toys!) And of course, you are more than welcome to take whatever you need (or want) for free. After we picked our prized possessions, we moved on to the fun part – the re-design section. They had all sorts of craft items that you could use to give the ‘waste’ a makeover. Tubs of acrylic paint, bottles of glitter, packets of felt paper, boxes of chalk and even containers of feathers and buttons. You could glitter the shit out of a wine glass if you wanted to (admit it, you secretly would love to drink wine from a sparkly cup). For anyone obsessed with craft (me!), the place was like Disneyland and I was like a kid in a candy store.

You know when you were a kid and played with those miniature animal toys? Well they had a whole bucket of those, and one coat of bronze spray paint gave them this really nice antique ornament look (pictured above). I may or may not have painted an entire herd of animals which I proudly call my ‘Avimal Farm’ (please reserve all your judgment).

Okay and now I come to the BEST part (yeah, how can it get better right?) S’mores and hot chocolate!! ‘Nuff said.

Okay no let me elaborate: basically they had several campfires set-up and we could toast our own marshmallows. Biting into that gooey slightly charred mallow is a dream come true. On top of one of the campfires dangled a huge pot of hot chocolate that was scooped hot into cups and topped with whipped cream (delish!).

Overall it was really good day and I am glad I went despite the gloomy weather. One thing that struck me while I was at the workshop: people in Europe (or Denmark at least) are genuinely nice and giving in nature. I don’t mean this only because of the freebies, but they really care about helping those around them. Such kindness is rare (especially for someone from Singapore) and maybe that’s why Denmark is the happiest country in the world. Planning to come back to REUSE before I leave Aarhus and donate some of my stuff, hoping it becomes someone’s treasure or at least brings a smile to their face (maybe after 2 rounds of spray paint and truck loads of glitter).

P.S. Reuse. Reduce. Recycle? Nah I like Recycle with Sparkle better.

P.P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, my ‘Avimal Farm’ has 2 cows, 2 horses, 2 giraffes, a goat, a camel and a dinosaur.

MasterChef Moments

DisclaimerI am not responsible for any cravings or hunger pangs caused by this post. Lick the screen at your own risk. 🙂

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Thought it’s about time I dedicate a post to my cooking (mis)adventures. From Indian to Mexican to Thai, I’ve tried my hand (or pan) at various dishes. Some were a hit and others were…umm..let’s just say inedible.

I’ve always been fond of cooking; using simple ingredients to whip up the most sumptuous meal (and of course basking in the glory of endless praises). With the luxury of Mum and Tem at home, I never saw the need to do my own cooking. Move 10,000km across the globe and now it’s a whole different story, especially when you’re all alone. Trust me, when you see sandwiches costing 120 krones (~S$25) a plate, the sleeping chef in all of us suddenly awakens. Plus point of cooking: grocery shopping! Don’t judge me but grocery shopping might just be my new favourite hobby. Aisles of fresh and colourful produce are a feast for the eyes (and stomach!).

So what (debatably) delicious dishes have I conjured up so far? Stir-fried Noodles, Aloo Sabzi, Mexican Bean Soup, Penne Arrabbiata, Nachos (not really considered ‘cooking’ but hey I made the beans from scratch), Baked Potatoes, Tom Yam Soup Noodles, Quesadillas, and last but definitely not the least…Maggi! Overall all of these turned out decent and I realised I prefer cooking Western or Chinese dishes over Indian any day. The one major disaster I had was with khichdi, which turned out looking like yellow fried rice?! First and last time making that.

Cooking can actually be quite relaxing – imagine plucking fresh basil leaves and tossing it with spaghetti and olive oil with Bailando playing in the background (yeah the plant growing in my room is basil, not weed). Like the rest of the world I agree the cooking part can be fun but the washing up sucks and the prep work is tough – nothing is more horrible than tearing uncontrollably while cutting that damn onion. But c’mon it’s not as bad as the feeling of having a $60 dinner outside (without alcohol). #broke

The post title ‘MasterChef’ might be slightly misleading. My dishes neither taste nor look anywhere close to those on MasterChef (who am I kidding, even the kids can do better). With that said, I’m really hoping to use these few months to experiment with new dishes and brush up by cooking skills. By hook or by cook (ha), I will come home a better chef.

Sugar, spice and everything nice, now my onions need to be diced. Until next time!

Bon Appétit~

 

Dyrehaven

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Visited the deer park last Sunday and it was a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city (although lets face it, Aarhus is not exactly a hustling bustling city). Picture green meadows, duck ponds, fallen trees (which make comfy seats) and of course plenty of deers – and you have the deerhaven.

Located an hour from central Aarhus, getting to the deer park was quite a hassle. Who knew Google Maps can give you 2 different location for one address. After an hour of following the little blue dot on Google Maps, we finally reached this woody wonderland. That feeling of being surrounded by lush nature and peaceful atmosphere is hard to describe but one word to summarise it: tranquil.

Armed with a bag of carrots, we went hunting (figuratively) for the deers. I’ve never been a fan of feeding wild animals (I mean c’mon, what if they pounce on you? or bite your finger off?), so initially I watched while others fed the deers. Curiosity got the better of me and I dangled a carrot in front of one of the deers.

*Hold your breath*

The deer ate my carrot! (And my finger made it out alive, unbitten) #accomplishmentunlocked. In my excitement, I decided to take a selfie with the deer and the next thing I knew, I felt a pair of antlers poking at me. Someone was being a spoil sport (or just wanted more carrots).

We continued walking around the park and came across a herd. The male deers (with their huge-ass antlers) looked so majestic (and scary), while the female ones were cutesy basically like Bambi. Hats off to that brave man who fed the deer an apple from his mouth!? (seriously though, who does that?) I had a couple of carrots left so with my new found confidence after feeding one deer, I approached another 2 deers. They gobbled the carrots away hungrily and in a couple of seconds another 3-4 deers started surrounding me. Their beady eyes were staring at me and they were slowly inching closer towards me. I got so freaked out, I dumped the carrots on the ground and ran away (well not run but walked very quickly in case they started chasing me).

With that, we concluded our deer park adventure. Looking forward to coming back in Spring (imagine even more green!) and possibly having a picnic there.

Thanks for being a dear (ha ha) and reading this. That’s all for now. Toodles!

Q: What do you get when you cross Bambi with a ghost?

A: Bamboo.

(Okay now I’m done).

ARoS Musuem

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“What does it feel like to walk within a rainbow?”

That was the concept the artist (Olafur Eliasson) had behind creating the rainbow panorama on the rooftop of ARoS museum. He wanted everyone to experience walking through a rainbow, and boy did he do a good job. Glass panels illustrating each colour of the rainbow are positioned to form a circular panorama. Walking around the rooftop was nothing short of spectacular, with each glass panel providing a glimpse of Aarhus city (I probably walked round and round 3 times). Whether you were seeing it from a rose-tinted glass or a lemon-tinted one, the view was fantastic.

There were several other exhibitions set-up at the art museum, including an ongoing one on China – A New Dynasty. After seeing the rainbow panorama, everything else felt kind of meh. Nonetheless some of the exhibits really made us stop and stare. Like the ‘Boy’. Towering at 4.5 metres, this not-so-little boy gave me the chills with his gaze staring deep into your soul.

Another exhibition (not pictured) featured life-size flowers. Imagine a garden filled with 2 metre tall flowers. Rose, daisies, lilies, you name, they had it. Very cool but very creepy at the same time. They could easily trample you if they fell! (Alas, all in the name of art).

Yup, so that rounds up our Saturday after a busy orientation week. Chill day being all artsy at the museum and getting a cuppa after with the girls . Très chic (I was with the Frenchies after all).

Au Revoir! (Okay, I’m overdoing it. Bye.)

 

 

Hello from Århus

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So class starts at 4pm today, which means I finally have time to write a blog post (yay!). It’s been ~10 days since I arrived in Aarhus, and I can safely say I am in love with this quaint little town. From the colourful vintage buildings to the cobblestone streets, Aarhus your charm has stole my heart.

The first couple of days was settling down, exploring the city, buying groceries….i.e. getting used to my home away from home (And getting over jet lag!). It’s never easy to move half way across the globe, that too without family. But taking it with stride as it’s all part of the experience. On another note, I miss my bed!

Been cooking quite a lot at home and have found a new found love for 3Cs: cheese, ciabatta bread and cherry tomatoes. Before I get sick of these basics, I need to start experimenting with other dishes (yes mum, I’ll make daal and khichdi soon).

Past week has been mainly occupied with orientation. Kudos to the AU team for planning such a great orientation. Be it the informative (albeit boring) talks, the student parties or the CPR registration, everything was well organised and left me rather impressed. Special thanks to my mentors and mentor group for being a friendly bunch that made everyone feel right at home. 80 people dancing to saxofuckingfon (extremely unsynchronised) has to be my favourite memory from orientation! (Not forgetting the free beer of course #gujju)

I think I’ve lost count of the different nationalities I’ve met over the 10 days. American, Australian, Bulgarian, Belgium, Canadian, Dutch, Danish (duh), French, Korean…and the list goes on and on. It’s so incredible to meet people from such diverse cultures and you never stop learning something new everyday. As cliché as it sounds, I am so thankful for this opportunity.

Yup, that’s all at the moment. Keeping it short because the details can get boring. Ciao for now!

Oh and I shall end of with something funny that happened to me. So I went to the supermarket to buy toilet paper and I came home with kitchen towel instead. In my defence, the packaging was rather opaque so I couldn’t see through and it was written in Danish!! So yup, using kitchen paper to wipe my ass for the next few weeks (exciting!).