Travel Month: November 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Each month I like to reflect upon my monthly travel and explorations in my current city. I love remembering past trips and enjoy looking ahead to future plans. These monthly reflections help me to do just that.

Did you have a great Thanksgiving? I spent the day with some expat friends eating some delicious foods. Hey expats, I'm curious if you get the day off of work or took it off? This year J has a long weekend but I don't get any time off. Luckily, I don't work on Thursdays so was able to enjoy the holiday.

This weekend in Vilnius is the Christmas tree lighting and the Holiday Charity Bazaar. I'm looking forward to having a fun weekend around town.

This month I've enjoyed the coming winter around Vilnius. We just had our first snow here and it looks lovely. J, my friend, and I started taking a pottery class, which is such a fun way to spend the dark winter nights (it gets dark at 3:30!).

snowfall and bird houses in a park

a snow covered hill of three crosses in Vilnius


On the travel front, I was in Denmark for the first two days of this month. I visited the amazing Helsingor (blog post coming up soon) and loved it so much that J and I are plotting a return visit. A few teaser photos are below!


cannons at the Helsignor castle


Helsignor town


In December, I'm going to Budapest and potentially having an unexpected visit with my parents (still TBD). If you have any tips for Budapest I'd love to hear them. I am also planning a little road trip to visit the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania.


Posts from this month:

The Danes and Their Licorice

An Introduction to Copenhagen

Creative Lithuania: Beer Marathon

Packing for Bad Weather

You Will Not Go Hungry in Prague

J's Views on our Trip in China


A Dash of Wanderlust on the web:

EcoTripSoS Traveling Beauties

The Top 5 Places I'd like to Visit in 2015

I'm linking up with #SundayTraveler


How was your month? What are your plans for December?

8 Free Things to Do in Copenhagen

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A view of the Copenhagen botanical garden with fall color leaves


One overwhelming theme ran through advice about Copenhagen from everyone I talked to. Everyone said that Copenhagen was wonderful but too expensive. Because of this, I had very unrealistic expectations of the cost of everything - I thought everything would be so exorbitantly priced! In my opinion this is not completely true. There are a lot of free and cheap things to do in Copenhagen that make visiting not as expensive as I was led to believe. Check out a few of these options!


1) Visit the Botanical Garden. You know I love a good botanical garden well any botanical garden, really. The Botanical Garden in Copenhagen was one of the best I've visited - and it was late October!  The Botanical Garden is completely free to visit and so are the glass houses.


A plant in the botanical garden in the Copenhagen botanical garden

a view of a green house in copenhagen

a pink rhododendron flower opening


2) Walk around Nyhavn. Nyhavn is what you see in postcards from Copenhagen and is probably the most photographed area in the city. It is completely beautiful, though and shouldn't be skipped because of this.


crossing the street into Nyhavn

Nyhavn and the canals

boats in the canals in Nyhavn, Copenhagen


3) Visit the Denmark National Museum. I love to visit museums and was pleased to be able to visit the National Museum for free. The interior of the museum was really cool and a man was working on this sand painting (below). I really enjoyed the exhibits on Danish history and culture.


sand art in the Denmark National Museum


4) See the Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid is totally touristy, yet most people that I've talked to said it is a cool statue. We skipped the Little Mermaid statue in favor of exploring our AirBnB neighborhood instead.


5) Visit the Royal Gardens. The Royal Gardens (King's Garden) is a gorgeous park that was designed by King Christian IV about 400 years ago. You can find these gardens at the Rosenborg Castle. 

straight trees in the Royal Gardens

Fall colors in the royal garden


6) Go Window Shopping in Sroget. I went window shopping in Sroget (walking streets) several times. One evening, while trying to find dinner, J and I kept getting stuck in windy Sroget - we eventually made it out though!


the shopping streets in Copenhagen

Walking streets and colorful buildings in Vilnius


7) Enter the Old Stock Exchange. I did not enter the Old Stock exchange, but if I knew it was a possibility I would have. I absolutely love the Dragon Spire at the top of the building.


the dragon spire in Copenhagen
 the dragon spire on the old stock exchange in copenhagen


8) Check out the Gorgeous Our Saviors Church. The twisty tower of Our Saviors Church allows you to see it from all over Copenhagen. Get up close and visit the interior of the church and the church grounds for free. You must pay to go up the twisty tower, though.


our saviors church in copenhagen

Our Saviors church in copenhagen

the interior of our saviors church in copenhagen

intricate organ in the our saviors church in copenhagen


I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm celebrating with some expat friends here in Vilnius. How are you celebrating the holiday?

What else can you do for free in Copenhagen?

Christmastime in Vilnius

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas town and christmas tree in Cathedral Square, Vilnius, Lithuania

Sorry for the two Christmas posts in a row. I'm just excited about the season and looking forward to seeing Vilnius this decked out again.

Other than the springtime, the Christmas season is the most beautiful time in Vilnius. Lights are strung across the main streets, Christmas trees are set up in the main squares, and the sweet smell of roasting nuts wafts from the Christmas village.

This year the Christmas trees will be set up this Friday (November 29) in both the Town Hall Square and the Cathedral Square. The Charity Bazaar will take place in the Town Hall from November 29 through January 11. The Christmas market (I'm hoping there will be more crafts this year!) will begin on December 5 and run until December 30. For kids, there is the Christmas Tram, which takes you from Town Hall Square to Cathedral Square from November 29 through January 11.

Christmas market in Vilnius, Lithuania

Christmas lights and snow in Vilnius on Vilniaus gatve



I've written about shopping in Vilnius before; however, I thought it was time for a refresher in case you happen to need to pick up last minute gifts in Vilnius.

shopping guide for Lithuania




Click here for more about the Vilnius Christmas Market. Visit this page for more about shopping in Vilnius.

What is special to where you live? Any local gifts that you love?

Christmas Gift Ideas for Frequent Travelers and Travel Lovers

Monday, November 24, 2014

I love picking out the perfect gifts for my family and friends. This year I decided to make a gift guide for travel lovers, which basically consists of things I've been loving this year or things I'd love to receive as a gift. From this list I most want the travel coffee pouches. My friend, K, shared a bunch of them with us as we were hanging out in Lugu Lake, Chia. They are perfect for travel - especially in Asia where coffee isn't as common.

Stay tuned until the end of this post for a giveaway!


a gift guide for travelers and travel lovers



1. Travel Journal, Scratch Off Travel Map, A Journal for Exploring Your City, Photo Album, Canon SELPHY photo printer

2. NY Times 36 Hours in 150 Weekends, Travel Guide to Vilnius, Other Travel Guides or Magazines would also make perfect gifts!

3. The Eagle Creek Packing Envelope, Eagle Creek Packing Cube, Le SportSac Wheeling Duffel

4. Refillable bottles, Lush Shampoo Bars, The Body Shop skin care to go, The Body Shop gift set, At my local Body Shop they also sell little sachets of face masks but I don't see those online

5. Starbucks Portion Packs, Coffee to-go pouches, These coffee to-go-pouches are so awesome, Tea Pigs Tea


*This post is not sponsored, these are just things that I truly enjoy using or would love to be gifted. These are not affiliate links.


Check out this giveaway that I'm sponsoring with The Lady Errant. This is a pretty sweet giveaway for any bookworm out there.




The Bookworm Giveaway

Because who doesn't love books?

The Prize

Sixteen Kindle ebooks that are so good I'm already planning on reading all of them. Since we all just chose one of our favorite books to recommend, there's an awesome mix of genres.

The Terms

1) The Amazon Kindle app is available for a variety of devices, including PCs and Macs. If you're a diehard physical book lover who absolutely loathes digital reading, this might not be the giveaway for you. While we love physical books too, ebooks won because they're usually cheaper and can be sent instantly worldwide. No mail mishaps here. 2) Regardless, the winner will need a Kindle or Kindle app on some device, and be able to send me the email address associated with said account within 48 hours once notified of her status. If no contact has been made within 48 hours, I will select another winner. And naturally, I'll check the entries. 3) Once I have the email address, the winner should receive all ebooks within another 48 hours. 4) Giveaway is open internationally - but with conditions. If you're living abroad (and don't have a US billing address associated with your Amazon account) there may be copyright issues restricting what you can receive. In that case, instead of the ebook, you would automatically receive Amazon credit. If there's a problem with getting credit or receiving your books, contact me because 1) I'd like to know if there's an issue for future reference and 2) I'd like to help.

The Books

I tend to make things unnecessarily complicated and I always forget something. It probably would have been a good idea to ask for a short description of the books. . .but I totally didn't think of that until someone brought it up a few days ago. So I stole and/or paraphrased some bits from Amazon instead. Click on the slider image for the book link; the contributors are below.
...
Contributed by: Elizabeth - A Dash of Wanderlust | Sara - Bristol In My Pocket | Katie - The Style Dunce | Yalanda - Laugh Anyway | Crystal - The Happy Type | Jamie - Ink + Adventure | Daisy - Simplicity Relished | Manda - musicalpoem | Amy - Amy and the Great World | Taylor - Due East | Marissa - Chasing Athens | Brita - Belle Brita | Kiersten - She Is Fierce

The Entries

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is on your Christmas List this year? What are you gifting?

The Danes and Their Licorice

Friday, November 21, 2014


Ever since my wonderful experience taking a cooking class in Beijing, I have been interesting in taking cooking classes or food tours everywhere we visit. When I saw that foodtours.eu offered a licorice tour I knew that was the right choice for me. I love licorice and I thought this tour would be a perfect way to learn about the special Danish licorice.

On the day of the tour we met with Maria, our tour guide, and a Danish-International family who joined us on the tour. I started chatting with Maria and she told me about the food tours they currently offer and the upcoming Christmas tour. Both sounded amazing, but I really am interested in the Christmas Tour! It sounded incredible.

To really enjoy the licorice tour it would of course be best to like black licorice. It certainly isn't a flavor for everyone. I love black licorice, but J isn't so fond of the flavor. Despite this, we both really enjoyed the tour and thought that the length (2 hours) was perfect.




The tour began in Torvehallerne and started with a stick of raw licorice root, followed by powdered licorice root. We then tasted an amazing licorice flavored meringue that even J enjoyed. We then headed to Somod Bolcher, which is the official candy store for the King and Queen. I would have never found this store myself, so I'm really happy that we were taken there! After munching on their amazing salty licorice hard candies we headed back to Torvehallerne for more!


In Torvehallerne we ate an amazing licorice chocolate from Summerbird Chocolates. The previous day I had tried one of their licorice chocolates and they are truly wonderful. We then headed to Axoco for almonds covered with chocolate dusted with different flavored licorice. Wow those were strong!




Other highlights of the tour were licorice gelato, licorice beer, sausage with fennel, licorice tea, and licorice caramels. My favorite though, was the licorice mustard that we ate on a light cracker. It was so delicious!







I absolutely loved this tour. Maria, our guide, was knowledgable about all things licorice and the food we tasted was incredible. I loved the amazing options of licorice and thought that the salty licorice was amazing. I came home with a bag full of salty licorice from the recommendations from this tour!



The licorice food tour was 2 hours long and costs 300 DKK. Reservations can be made at foodtours.eu

*This tour was sponsored by foodtours.eu; however, opinions as always are my own. I truly love licorice that much.

I'm linking up with Casey for Fresh Faced Friday.


Have you taken a tour with foodtours.eu before? Do you like licorice?

An Introduction to Copenhagen, Denmark

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A view of a canal and the Old Stock Exchange building in Copenhagen


Copenhagen was probably my favorite place that I've visited so far while living in Europe. The people are friendly, the food is great, and the city is gorgeous. J and I are even planning to go back to explore more of the country by car in the spring of 2016.

We arrived late Monday evening and checked into our wonderful AirBnB in the Norrebro neighborhood. We were up and out to explore early on Tuesday morning and were welcomed to Copenhagen by numerous bikers on their way to work and delicious Danish pastries at a cafe near our AirBnB apartment (I'll have a post on food up soon!).

Buildings in Norrebro

Walking down streets in Norreport


At the suggestion of our AirBnB host we wandered around Norreport on Nansengade and Norre Farimagsgade and admired the little shops that were just opening. We eventually came upon part of Copenhagen University (so nice-can I work there?) and the Botanical Garden. You know how much I love botanical gardens, so of course we had a lovely stroll around. The Botanical Garden is free and I recommend that you visit it for the incredible glasshouses and the amazing view of foliage. When we were there the fall foliage was incredible! We don't get colors like that in Lithuania!

A Glasshouse at the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen


A flower of a pitcher plant

Trees with changing leaf colors at the Copenhagen botanical garden


The wander through the Botanical Garden made us a bit hungry so we popped over to Torvehallerne, which is an indoor marketplace with food stalls and restaurants. Torvehallerne is similar to the Milwaukee Public Market and the North Market in Columbus, Ohio. I loved Torvehallerne and visited almost everyday were were in Copenhagen.

Torvehallerne

After sampling delicious Danish foods we headed to coffee at Ricco's with a fellow travel blogger, Caroline (Twitter: @livelovetravel) and her chef boyfriend. They had some great suggestions for places to visit so we noted down their suggestions and were then off again to see the famous Nyhavn and the shopping streets, Ostergade, Nygade, and Fredriksberggade. Even though Nyhavn is very touristy it was not crowded at this time of year, and was so lovely to walk through. Don't skip this spot because of its popularity!


The Round Tower in Copenhagen

The Slutterigad and Nytorv square

Ricco's cafe in Copenhagen on Radhusstraede

On our stroll to Nyhavn I became obsessed with this tower! Isn't it so cool! This is the Old Stock Exchange building and it is one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen. I'm so regretting that we didn't go in - next time. This twisty tower is known as the Dragon Spire and symbolizes the union of the Nordic Countries.

The Old Stock Exchange Building with views of the canal
 The Old Stock Exchange Building with a focus on the Dragon Spire

The colorful buildings of Nyhavn
 Love locks at NyhavnBoats at Nyhavn

Sunset in Copenhagen in October


video


I'm linking up with the Sunday Traveler!

Have you been to Copenhagen? Do you skip touristy places when traveling?