Tuesday, September 30, 2014

View from on high at Hammarbybacken


I'm not one to let someone leave unheralded.

[I'm also not one to sleep well (or at all) until everyone is home and tucked into bed (which means this last week of R working nights has left me with mush for brains).]

But with regards to the latter, when R went to Milan for work a few weeks ago and planned to catch the 6AM tram to the airport shuttle bus, I told him I'd wake up, too.

And not just wake up and drowsily wave goodbye from half-under the covers. Nope, I was up, dressed, and percolating coffee by the time he emerged from the bathroom.

As I walked him to the tram stop I realized it was the perfect morning to finally climb Hammarbybacken, the man-made hill-turned-ski-slope behind our apartment. I'd passed it often when heading to the woods for a walk, and it looms over me when I'm at the outdoor gym, but I'd never actually hiked to its summit.

[Summit sounds quite grand, but it only takes 15 minutes of scrambling to get to the top.]

As soon as R's tram pulled away I walked over and started climbing. Before he'd even gotten to the airport shuttle bus stop, I was already surveying the beautiful sunrise views from the highest point. I was alone at first, and then an older man ambled up and began meditating. He looked so peaceful that I tried a riff on my own version, which basically meant I stood there awkwardly trying to not look awkward.

I finally gave up and just enjoyed the spectacular view inward over the city (below) and outward towards the archipelago (above). Can't think of a more perfect way to have spent the first morning of September.



One year ago: There will be pancakes

Monday, September 29, 2014

Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga

Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Málaga was the perfect entry point for our Andalucían road trip—and not just because we found a direct flight there from Stockholm. But, the city is bustle-y, without being overwhelming, and there wasn't a lot of pressure to see and experience everything, like we'd have had if we'd landed in Sevilla.

Situated right on the coast, we immersed ourselves straight away into the splendid southern Spanish climate: breezy, warm, and without one single drop of humidity. It embraced us kindly, especially after our early morning journey which began with a 4:30AM trip on the airport shuttle bus to make our 7AM flight down to Spain. We'd spent the previous night at my mother-in-law's since she's a few blocks from one of the stops, which meant we could get an extra hour of sleep, but also put us in "travel" mode a day earlier so we were quite foggy when we finally landed.

Barceló Málaga, our first hotel of the trip, was chosen specifically for its convenience—it's two stops on the city train line from the airport and right on top of the agency we'd rented a car from. I wouldn't usually ever stay in a business hotel for a trip like this, but we figured it would be a better base for our very quick stop in Malaga rather than something a bit more charming in the historic district.

Málaga Cathedral  |  Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Málaga Cathedral + horse carriages  |  Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Once we'd checked in we headed straight to the old town. We strolled the twenty minutes there along the waterfront, where the nice sea breeze perked us up a bit, and entered the old city via this welcoming (and nicely shaded) avenue. The beautiful blue of the Spanish sky blinking off of the bright facades was so captivating, and something we'd experience in all the towns to come.

The first surprise of our trip was coming upon the city's saint's day festival for the Virgin of Victory right in front of the cathedral where young girls in brightly-colored folk costumes danced and twirled. We watched for a few minutes and then set off to wander around some of the charming and brilliant buildings before finding a tapas bar with outdoor seating where we indulged in my specific lunchtime request: crispy, salty, battered and fried seafood with pints of beer.

Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Then we went back to the hotel for a nap and freshening up before heading back out again for dinner in the evening. We found another little tapas bar with outdoor seating at the crossroads off two cobblestoned avenues where we perched ourselves on high stools to people watch and plan our first drive for the next morning.

Before taking a bus back to the hotel I also began what would become my nightly indulgence in helado (ice cream). I was determined to find the best, which I eventually did in Sevilla.

Updated—other Andalucía posts:
After 9 years, 9 days in southern Spain 
Postcard from Andalucía
Postcard from Andalucía: Granada and La Alhambra 
Postcard from Andalucía: Nerja + Marbella
Postcard from Andalucía: Gibraltar + Tarifa 
Postcard from Andalucía: Conil de la Frontera
Postcard from Andalucía: Cadíz + Medina-Sidonia   
Postcard from Andalucía: Vejer de la Frontera  
Postcard from Andalucía: Jerez + Carmona  
Postcard from Andalucía: Sevilla   

One year ago:
Escaped again &
Raw cacao & cashew crunch cup &
Postcard from St. Lucia

Monday, September 22, 2014

Postcard from Andalucía

#AndalucíanRoadTrip2014  |  Postcard from Andalucía on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Oh, where to begin? Our trip to Spain was lovely. Absolutely everything that I had wanted to experience and hoped it would be.

And there's so much I want to remember for myself, and to tell you—but instead of sharing a massive recap as I'm wont to do, I thought I'd break up the (potential) monotony of a Spanish influx here with a few posts over the next few weeks (good thing, too, since I haven't finished sifting through all our photographs yet!).

But first: what made a trip that spanned 13 different places and 1,225 kilometers (760 miles) in 9 full days so amazing?

The gorgeous landscape of southern Spain had something to do with it of course, as did the glorious weather we had. I was wonderfully shocked to discover that Andalucía was not at all overwhelmingly hot and humid (hiya Sicily!). While the thermometer said the temperature was 30C (86F), it felt more like 24C (75F) with a never-ending breeze that made walking around so enjoyable. Not one speck of humidity and only a few drops of rain on our last day.

We seriously lucked out.

And, the reasons I love Sicily carry right over to Andalucía. Having been invaded and conquered by many a tribe, culture, and country, the region is criss-crossed with numerous styles of architecture, food, fragrances, languages and the like.

Also? The highways in Spain are so fun to drive on. Wide, winding and completely empty. We only passed other cars as we neared towns. Otherwise it was us, the graceful windmills and hard-working solar panels dotting the fields (so nice to see!), and herds of cows and flocks of sheep. Driving was peaceful and pleasurable.

It also helped that we opted to rent a Wi-Fi router from the rental car company. For 84€ ($100 / 770SEK) we could be connected wherever and whenever we wanted. If not for that, my little Instagram feed would have been woefully blank (as we basically read and fell asleep as soon as we returned to our connected hotel rooms); we wouldn't have been able to stay in touch with family; and, perhaps most important for a road trip, we'd have understood less of what we were passing and where we were going. I loved seeing something strange and quickly Googling it, or passing a sign for a town that had a nice ring to its name and checking on Wikipedia only to find out that it's famous for its Moorish pastries so a detour up a hillside to experience it for ourselves was absolutely necessary.

Of course we were also happy to just have our iPod speakers playing some appropriate song and our phones / routers shut off and stowed away for the drive.

Speaking of driving, of course my handsome pilot made the trip amazing, too. As we rented a much more economical manual car (and I grew up in the US), only he could sit in the driver's seat. Meaning he was in charge of getting us safely to and from all our stops (I was in charge of the music, the route, and keeping him amused with my chattering).

We're lucky that we're both of the same mindset when it comes to trips, too (which, by the way, I classify as either vacation, i.e., sitting on a beach, or traveling, i.e., exploring new countries): we're happy to understand the history of what we're seeing and experiencing, but that doesn't mean we have to go into each and every single church, museum, and what-have-you. Walking around, visiting markets, having a coffee, going for a hike, seeing a show, etc., those are the ways we both like best to soak up a new place.

And as the last time we "traveled" together was to South America in spring of 2012 (before I began scribbling here), we went at it full-force in southern Spain and the blend of learning something, seeing something, eating something, walking somewhere, and just sitting and soaking it in was perfect.

More to come...

Updated—other Andalucía posts:
After 9 years, 9 days in southern Spain 
Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga   
Postcard from Andalucía: Granada and La Alhambra
Postcard from Andalucía: Nerja + Marbella
Postcard from Andalucía: Gibraltar + Tarifa 
Postcard from Andalucía: Conil de la Frontera 
Postcard from Andalucía: Cadíz + Medina-Sidonia    
Postcard from Andalucía: Vejer de la Frontera
Postcard from Andalucía: Jerez + Carmona   
Postcard from Andalucía: Sevilla  
 
One year ago:
The art of imperfection + choc-buckwheat-banana bread &
Good things, lately

Monday, September 8, 2014

After 9 years, 9 days in southern Spain

Karlbergskanalen, Kungsholmen, Stockholm  |  After 9 years, 9 days in Southern Spain on a feathery *nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Nine years ago I was mentally set on spending a month traveling around Spain between college graduation and beginning my career. Spain made more sense than any other European country since I had studied Spanish all through middle and high school, plus a semester in college.

Yet just before purchasing the ticket, and for a combination of reasons, my arrival airport changed from Barcelona to Rome.

And then on my last stop in a chic hillside town in Sicily, I met R.

Meaning that almost all of my non-work trips to Europe since then have been to Italy or Sweden. And I never made it to Spain.

But, I'm about to change that.

Following in the tradition of birthday adventures I've been adamant about keeping up the last few years, we've just landed in the south of Spain for a road trip adventure! We'll be there for 10 nights and 9 full days driving around the coast of Andalucia and I'm hoping against hope it's everything I've always imagined it would be (and that it's not too hot!).

While I'm beyond excited to be off, I also love knowing I'll be coming back to this beautiful city.

P.S. I won't be posting anything here while we're away, but as long as I can find Wi-Fi I'll be sharing  pictures on Instagram. See you there now, and back here later this month!

P.P.S. Coincidentally, last week I published a post about a dinner at Restaurant Andalucia (and why I'll probably always be a city dweller) for View Stockholm.

Updated—other Andalucía posts:
Postcard from Andalucía
Postcard from Andalucía: Málaga
Postcard from Andalucía: Granada and La Alhambra
Postcard from Andalucía: Nerja + Marbella
Postcard from Andalucía: Gibraltar + Tarifa
Postcard from Andalucía: Conil de la Frontera
Postcard from Andalucía: Cadíz + Medina-Sidonia
Postcard from Andalucía: Vejer de la Frontera
Postcard from Andalucía: Jerez + Carmona  
Postcard from Andalucía: Sevilla 

One year ago:
Bittersweet &
Waltzing waterfront walks &
Sicilia Selvaggia, Wild Sicily &
End of summer pullover

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peeking out

View of Gamla Stan & Södermalm from Kungsholmen  |  Peeking out on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com

Notice something different?

Take a look up. All the way up to your address bar.

I finally bought my own domain!

I'd been thinking that since I've (surprisingly) kept this up for almost two years now, perhaps it was time to make it all nice and official.

And that's not all...

A few fortuitous encounters happened because of my Instagram feed (which I made "public", but still anonymous, a few months ago) and this (anonymous/private) blog after moving to Stockholm. Like: a tourism organization for the city found me via my photographs and asked if I'd like to write about my experiences as a new expat in Stockholm on their site.

Of course I said yes.

Which brings me to the the next little surprise.

While I don't know who all of you are (although I see your digital footprints—thanks for visiting!), maybe you'd like to know who I am? If you've been curious about what comes after the "J", head on over to my updated About page. You'll also see a link to my writing gig for View Stockholm there (and if you happen to like what you read on their site, I'd love if you would share and like the posts).

Starting off my favorite season with a bang, eh?

P.S. Please update your feed readers & Bloglovin'!

One year ago:
Lavender and peppermint muscle-relaxing boo-boo balm &
Dante's layette