Throwing in the towel

After over three years as a fairly active blogger, I have hit a serious dry spell inspiration-wise. I still enjoy posting photos and stories from my travels, but I'm finding it harder and harder to keep blogging about my everyday life. I have a big workload, I like to have a social life and have time to work out a couple of times a week, and blogging is feeling more and more like a chore. Therefore, I've decided to go into blogger retirement. At least for a while. I'll leave my blog as it is, and if I feel inspired to post pictures from my future trips, I will. And if I don't, well, it was nice as long as it lasted. I've had a few faithful readers in the past three years, and I'd like to thank you all. I don't know who you are (or most of you, anyway), but I hope my writings and pictures have brought you some kind of enjoyment.

xxx

Annie

Brooklyn Bridge

Our last day on American soil was spent on Brooklyn Bridge and in Chinatown. Although I put on a brave face here, I'm in really bad shape after a food poisoning episode, and I would have stayed in bed if I could. However, we had to check out at noon and spend the day wandering the neighborhood until it was time to go to the airport. My sister and I had to take breaks every five minutes because our stomachs were so upset. We managed to get through the day, though, and by the time we got to the airport, we were a bit better.

Do you recognize the backdrop? This is where I took my header picture almost four years ago.

Manhattan Bridge seen from Brooklyn Bridge.

City Hall.

Well, that was the last of my pictures from the Big Apple. It will definitely not be my last trip to the city!

Ink and bright lights

My sister went to the tattoo studio Three Kings in Williamsburg in Brooklyn to get inked, and I tagged along.

Times Square.

We saw the funniest thing when we were going down to the subway station on our way home. Four Elmos changing out of their costumes after a long night's work. I was so tempted to take a picture of them in their underwear with their Elmo heads underneath their arms, but then common sense kicked in.

5th Avenue and Lexington Avenue

A power breakfast before a marathon day with a lot of sightseeing and shopping. I was full for seven or eight hours.

The Plaza Hotel.

The Bergdorf Goodman building. I love Art Deco architecture.

I instantly became a kid again at F.A.O. Schwartz.

My old heroine, Red from Fraggle Rock. I absolutely adored her when I was little. Her and Punky Brewster.

Lexington Avenue.

We had to pay a visit to Bloomies, another beautiful Art Deco building.

Grand Central Station.

Chrysler Building, my favorite skyscraper.

Chrysler Building seen from Tudor City.

The UN Building.

Looking over to Long Island.

Game of Thrones Exhibit

Oslo is one of only eight cities in the whole world visited by the immensely popular Game of Thrones Exhitbit. Oslo is the fifth stop on the tour, which started in New York City before it went on to visit Mexico City, Austin and Rio de Janeiro. After Oslo it will move to Toronto, Belfast and Vancouver. The exhibition is only open for a short time (five days), so the entrance lines are endless, but it's a lot of fun once you get inside. At least for a geek like me!

The beautiful costumes of Daenerys Targaryen.

Dragon eggs.

An original sketch by the series' costume designer Michele Clapton.

The real queen on the Iron Throne ;-)

Costumes of the Red Priestess, Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth.

The costumes of Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Oberyn Martell, Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey Baratheon and Cersei Lannister.

Margaery's intricate gown.

King Joffrey's royal outfit.

Tyrion's costume.

The costumes of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth.

The King Slayer's hand.

The costumes of Ygritte, Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane.

The costumes of Bran Stark and Hodor. (Hodor!)

The costumes of Arya Stark and The Hound.

The weapons of Game of Thrones, among them Joffrey's crossbow.

A whitewalker's sword and Ned Stark's sword.

This virtual reality journey was a lot of fun!

Out of nowhere, GoT actor Kristoffer Hivju, aka Tormund Giantsbane, popped in to do an interview on the throne.

South Ferry, the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street

The Staten Island ferry terminal at South Ferry. The ferry ride is free, and it's a good way to see the Statue of Liberty without having to stand in line all day.

The Brooklyn Bridge seen from South Ferry.

Brooklyn.

My sister, the eskimo.

Ellis Island.

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island.

I love the contrast between the old and the new in America.

A World War II monument in Battery Park.

The famous bull at the end of Broadway Avenue.

Wall Street.

New York Stock Exchange.

The new World Trade Center building.

The shopping in NYC

The shopping opportunities in New York City are endless, and it never ceases to amaze me how great bargains you can find if you know where to look. I absolutely love a good treasure hunt! It totally makes my day to find a $200 sweater marked down to $8. My sister and I hit both designer outlet Century 21 and Woodbury Common Outlets pretty hard.

My sister and I went to Century 21 twice, and came out with a large bag each time.

The Woodbury Common Outlets are situated in upstate New York, just over an hour drive from Manhattan (depending on traffic). It's an outdoor outlet village with 220 stores. Coach, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Bergdorf Goodman Last Call, Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Balenciaga, Chlo, Valentino, Cline and Diane von Furstenberg are just to name a few, and they are building 60 more stores as we speak. There even used to be a Chanel outlet store there - the only one in the world - and I'm so bummed they decided to close it down. I guess all things Chanel sell like hot cakes anyway, so they don't need an outlet store.

Jimmy Choo shoes were typically half off, starting at $275. Coach bags started at $80. The Tory Burch store was probably the most popular store in the village, thus the discount isn't as good there as in the other stores. Gucci had some good offers. Shoes staring at $250 and beautiful logo scarves in 100% wool starting at $200. Bergdorf Goodman Last Call is a great store in which to go bargain hunting. And I almost bought this way too expensive Chlo "Elsie" bag, which was marked down to $900 at the Chlo store. However, I came to my senses and decided it was a way too extravagant buy.

There are several bus companies that offer round trips to the Woodbury Common Outlets. We chose to pay $10 extra for hotel pick-up service with Manhattan Transfer Tours. They picked us up in Chinatown 7.40 in the morning and drove us back at 5 PM. Once you arrive at the outlet village, you are given a discount book, which my sister and I used quite a bit.

My best buys were:

A $700 Issa dress marked down to $99 at Century 21.

A $299 Michael Kors watch in rose gold marked down to $150 at Woodbury Common Outlets.

$300 Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses marked down to $100 at Century 21. My sister found Ray Bans at $59.

A $250 Diane von Furstenberg top marked down to $49 at Century 21.

A $150 Michael Kors cardigan marked down to $25 at Bergdorf Goodman Last Call.

Classic 90s Nine West leather sandals with medium heels, perfect for both work and party.

I also stocked up on quality basics in New York. The Levi's store at Woodbury Common Outlets offered three pairs of jeans for $120, which is much less than what you pay for one pair of Levi's in Norway. I stocked up on skinny jeans. I got a black silk shirt for only $19 at Uniqlo, new running shoes for $39 at Nike Outlet Store, new leather boots for $90 at Shoegasm, a $300 cashmere sweater marked down to $30 at Bergdorf Goodman Last Call and (drumroll, please) a $200 cashmere sweater marked down to a whopping $8 at Century 21!!! I think that might the best bargain I've ever found. I also hoarded bras at Victoria's Secret. I have DDs, so it's not easy to find nice bras. All the bra stores that carry bigger sizes in Norway only offer what I call grandma bras, but Victoria's Secret always carries my size. I also filled my suitcase up with scented candles from Bath & Body Works. I love them!

With all these buys, plus the Alexander Wang shoes I bought the other day (and leather pants and a Day Birger et Mikkelsen jacket I found on superduper sale in Bod), I should be all shopped out for about six months. Knowing myself, though, I'm not. Lord have mercy on me... This blog should really be called Diary of a Shopaholic.

Flatiron Building, Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center

Flatiron Building.

Empire State Building.

The skating rink outside Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center.

The ceiling inside Rockefeller Center.

Central Park seen from Top of the Rock.

Unfortunately, the Chrysler Building was hidden behind the MetLife Building.

Chinatown and Little Italy

My sister and I stayed at a cheap hotel in Chinatown. That way we could stay on Manhattan without it costing an arm and a leg. Our nearest subway stop was East Broadway, which was perfect, because then we could take the F line all the way up to Central Park without changing trains. It was also in walking distance of Little Italy, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center and South Ferry. I definitely recommend staying in Chinatown, just stay away from all the shady restaurants in the area. I got food poisoning from just looking at them. Just kidding. It turned out a trip to Shake Shack would be my ruin.

Our hotel, The Hotel 91, was situated close to the Manhattan Bridge.

Chinatown at night.

The nearby area of Little Italy was a much more pleasant neighborhood. We had to try the pizza at the legendary Lombardi's Pizza Restaurant. After a 15 minute wait by the bar, we were taken through the kitchen to a small room separate from the main restaurant. It was interesting to see the fast pace in the kitchen, and we even got to see the owner, Mr. Lombardi himself.

Me wearing my new Michael Kors cardi, a bargain from Woodbury Common Outlets in upstate New York.

My lil sis and I split a delicious pizza.

West Village

West Village is my favorite neighborhood in NYC.

Me posing in front of Carrie's steps at 66 Perry Street.

A visit to the Magnolia Bakery is mandatory for any self-respecting SATC fan.

St. Patrick's Day was right around the corner, hence the green cupcakes.

The coconut cake looks to die for.

My purchase.

Notice the bag. I bought three pairs of shoes in NYC... I'm hopeless.

Pleasure Chest, also known from SATC ;-)

The building known from Friends, on the corner of Grove and Bedford.

Central Park

Here's the first batch of pictures from my recent trip to New York City. Sorry about the wait. I've had the longest week with lots of overtime at work, sinus problems and headaches. I also traveled to Bod this weekend to attend a friend's wedding, so I haven't really had the time to blog.

One of our first days in New York City was spent in Central Park and the nearby areas. The day started out overcast, but the weather cleared up after a couple of hours. It was so nice to stroll around in the park with a coffee and my camera.

Bethesda Fountain.

For those of you who are SATC fans: This is the restaurant where Carrie and Big fell in the water.

Me posing in front of the Twin Towers of Central Park West.

With H.C. Andersen and the ugly duckling.

Upper East Side.

Alice and I in Wonderland.

Bow Bridge.

Upper West Side.

Strawberry Fields Forever.

My friend Big Bird in front of The Dairy.

The Plaza Hotel.

The Wollman Rink.

Back from the U.S.

Coat from Soaked in Luxury, Jeans from Levi's, scarf from Zara, cashmere hat from Gerts Oslo, bag from Mulberry, new leather boots from Shoegasm and new sunnies from Dolce & Gabbana.

I'm back from the U.S. with two memory cards full of pics, a suitcase full of new stuff, a maxed-out credit card, jetlag and an upset tummy. My New York trip with my lil sis was great - for the most part. We both got food poisoning from a meal at Shake Shack two days before our departure home to Norway, so that pretty much ruined the rest of our trip. However, by that time, we had shopped to our hearts' content and seen almost all of the things we wanted to see, so I guess the timing wasn't the worst. The only thing I really wanted to see that we never got to do was take a trip out to Coney Island and go vintage shopping in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. But this was definitely not my last trip to the Big Apple, so I'll do those things next time I go. I think I must be cursed, though, because this is my fourth trip in a row outside of Europe that I've gotten seriously ill. In Namibia in 2011, I caught a stomach bug, and in South Africa the next year, I had to go to the emergency room with a kidney infection. Last year, I caught a serious case of salmonella in Cambodia, and now this. My stomach can't handle any more bacteria or viruses! Maybe my body's telling me to stay home, but I'm too stubborn to listen to it.

I'll be back with more pictures soon! Have a great weekend!

Top ten on my bucket list this year

I know I should focus on completely different things right now, but I can't help dreaming about going on a big trip later this year. Here's my current bucket list.

1. Easter Island, Chile

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

3. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

4. Antarctica

5. Japan

6. Cappadocia, Turkey

7. Havana, Cuba

8. Okavango Delta, Botswana

9. Monument Valley, USA

10. Cinque Terre and Venice, Italy

Life changes

I'm sorry I haven't been a very active blogger lately. There's a good reason for that. I've been very preoccupied with plans for my future. Right before Christmas I was informed by my employer that my contract will not be renewed. Therefore I'm without a job come February. I've been busy sending out my CV to all the production companies in Oslo, and I've also applied for a couple of jobs in completely different fields. I haven't had any luck yet. I guess the next couple of months are pretty quiet in the Norwegian TV industry. I'm contemplating going back to working as a freelance translator, and that's what I have to do if I'm still out of a job in two weeks. There's no way I'm going to go unemployed, that's for sure. The cost of living here in Oslo is so high that I wouldn't be able to live off of 65% of my current salary. That's why I'm even contemplating moving down south, where the cost of living is much lower. However, that would probably mean that I would have to give up a career in the TV industry. So I have a lot to think about and worry about at the moment, and my blog isn't exactly on the top of my to do list. So bear with me.

I'm not in a complete panic yet, though, and although the timing couldn't be worse, I still look forward to my week long vacation in New York City in March. At least the flights and hotel is paid for in full, so I don't have to worry about that. I will work something out. It will probably not be the fabulous shopping bonanza I had dreamed about, but hey, it's NYC, and I'll still have fun doing other touristy stuff. I can't wait to show the city to my sister. Here are a few snapshots from my last visit to NYC.

Herlige hjem

Last night I went to the premiere of the third season of our interior design show Herlige hjem at TVNorge. It was an intimate party of 16 people, and we were served Prosecco, flowers and a few speeches before we sat down to watch the first episode of the season. It's the best season yet! After we had watched the first episode, we all went to Nydalen bryggeri & spiseri a couple of blocks away from TVNorge and were served a lovely, three-course meal. All in all a very good night!

The whole Herlige hjem gang with host Birgitte Lund Nakken.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody! I have had a nice, long Christmas break, and I hope you have had the same. I'm sorry about the blog hiatus, but I really needed to take some time off. Christmas was celebrated at my sister's with her boyfriend, her in-laws, my brother, mother, stepfather, aunt, niece and two doggies. My niece Thea was of course the center of attention, and even though she's so little and doesn't really understand the concept of presents yet, she received the most presents of us all. That's just how it is when you're the only child in the family. Spoilt much? Naw... My sister got a pretty awesome present, too, if I may say so myself. I can finally tell you that my family and I gave her a trip to New York City, flights and hotel included. I'm so excited! I absolutely love that city, and I can't wait to show it to her. She's never been outside of Europe, so it's going to be a great experience for her. We leave in March and stay for a week.

Me with one of my absolute favorite people in the whole world.

The Christmas tree almost drowned in presents.

I was very, very happy with my new iron pan from Le Creuset. It matches the rest of my kitchen and living room! I also got some cash, silverware, dinner plates from Rosendahl Grand Cru, a couple of books, several DVDs, a scarf, Cecilie Melli earrings and a ticket to a Nine Inch Nails concert in Oslo in May. <3

46664

Rest in peace, Madiba. The world will remember you for centuries. <3

Read my full blog entry about my visit to Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island last year here.

International Cheetah Day

The cheetah is my favorite animal. It is the most ancient species of big cats in Africa, and now it's the most endangered, too. With only around 10,000 animals left in the wild, we need to act fast if we want to ensure that the cheetah survives as a species.

International Cheetah Day on December 4th is an effort to raise awareness about the cheetahs race against exctinction. Spread the word and save the cheetah!

Atheno, the cheetah cub who stole my heart. His mother was shot by a farmer, so he was hand-raised at the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Nambia. When he became an adult, he was put into the Lifeline Project at Harnas, which meant that they slowly tried to adapt him to a life back in the wild at a controlled release site, such as a reserve. He is half way in his process right now. They've successfully released a cheetah before. Back in 2010, they released a female cheetah called Pride and followed her progress closely. She's become a successful hunter, and she's even given birth to two cubs in the wild.

Whenever it was feeding time for the tame cheetahs, we would yell "Cheetahs! Kom, kom, kom!", which means "come, come, come" in Afrikaans.

Hand-feeding grown cheetahs.

A quiet moment with Atheno early in the morning before anyone else had gotten up.

Half-wild cheetahs at the Harnas Wildlife Foundation. We had minimal contact with these.

Cheetah on a car in Gauteng, South Africa.

Masai and I.

Atheno purring. The best sound in the world! Please excuse my poor filming.

Thea's birthday weekend

Thea turned one year old on Friday, and she celebrated by learning how to walk. Talk about timing! She's been nearly walking for about a month and a half already, but on Friday, she took the plunge and started toddling around the house.

She was allowed to play with her food on her birthday.

This little guy was just itching to get his paws on some cake.

Thea's reaction when she saw her new Mickey Mouse. She absolutely adores Mickey.

Here's another guy who was happy to see me. So happy, in fact, that he climbed into my lap - for the first time in his life! He's nearly ten years old, so I've had to wait for a long time. He's always been very cuddly, and he'll lie next to me, but never on my lap. So this was a first!

Keep calm and travel the world

Two months ago, it was exactly six years since I graduated from University of Surrey with distinction. I had gone to school for 18 years, supported myself since I was 16, worked hard and been very sensible with the little money I had. For years, I had wanted to travel the world, but I couldn't afford it. I had a job interview in Oslo two days after I handed in my master's dissertation, and I got offered a job on the spot. All my hard work had paid off, and I was very ready to enter a new phase of my life. A phase with more money, of which I planned to spend mostly on travels. When I look back on the past six years, I can't help but feel that I'm very lucky. I've seen some fantastic places, done some very exciting things and met amazing people from all over the world. I already have enough memories to last me a lifetime.As you perhaps can see, my photographic skills have also improved over the years, and photography is now a big hobby.Here are some of the highlights from my trips in the past six years:

Building a snowman in the middle of summer in Jotunheimen, Norway.

I went back to Guildford in May 2008 for my graduation ceremony, and I also spent an extra couple of days in nearby London, a city close to my heart.

I used to live in the building behind me. First in a dorm room on the 5th floor, sharing kitchen and bathrooms with 13 other people during my undergraduate year, and later in a small apartment on the 1st floor during my post-graduate year.

Relaxing in Hyde Park.

Gotta love Camden.

My American friend Jessi came to visit me in Norway, and I showed her around Oslo and took her on a roadtrip along the southern and southwestern coast of Norway before we flew to Stockholm for a few days.

The Pulpit Rock (Prekestolen) in Lysefjorden, Norway.

Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden.

Two university friends of mine, Reidun and Per Magne, moved to Chamonix right after university, and I went to visit them the year after. After a couple of days in France, my then boyfriend and I took a bus to Milan.

Chamonix Mont Blanc seen from the valley of Les Houches, France.

The Duomo in Milan, Italy.

Sporting a new haircut in beautiful Geiranger.

I finally realized my dream of going to Australia and New Zealand in autumn 2009, after years of planning and dreaming about these fantastic countries. I traveled around in Australia for three weeks, visiting the states of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, and New Zealand for eight days, exploring the north island. However, that wasn't nearly enough time, so the trip was a hectic affair. I wanted to do and experience everything in a very short time, so I hardly had time to relax at all during those four weeks.

Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island off the coast of Adelaide, Australia.

Sydney, Australia.

Me posing in front of The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, Australia.

Going ashore Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

The wreck of S.S. Maheno on the beach on Fraser Island, Australia, the world's largest sand island.

Getting a kangaroo kiss in Brisbane, Australia.

Doing the 360 degree SkyWalk on the outside of Auckland Sky Tower in New Zealand.

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland near Rotorua, New Zealand.

Visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand.

Jumping out of a plane for the very first time in my life.

I went back to visit my friends in Chamonix in winter 2010, and the weather was much, much better than the previous time I came for a visit. I took the cable car up to the mountain top Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc massif, 3842 meters above sea level, and I also tried downhill skiing for the very first time in my life. (I know, shocking! As a Norwegian, I'm supposed to have been "born with skis on my feet".) I also visited the charming French town of Annecy and Geneva in Switzerland.

The fantastic view from Aiguille du Midi.

Annecy, France.

Geneva, Switzerland.

In June 2010, I spent a week in the Netherlands, and visited Amsterdam, Zaandam, Zaanse Schans and the Rock in Park Festival in Nijmegen.

Cool Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, the city of bikes.

Zaandam.

The gorgeous Zaanse Schans.

I went to the U.S. for just over three weeks in September 2010, primarily to attend a friend's wedding in Wisconsin. However, I decided to travel around a bit, so I visited New York City, Boston, Chicago and various places in Wisconsin and Illinois. It was my first time visiting the eastern seaboard of the United States.

NYC!

Me posing in front of Carrie's steps, an obligatory stop for any SATC fan in NYC.

The Old State House in Boston.

Touching the statue of John Harvard at the university that bears his name in Cambridge, Massachusettes.

The Bean in Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is a city I keep coming back to.

The view from Hancock Tower in Chicago, Illinois.

Attending my friend Jessi's beautiful and fun wedding in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I met up with old high school friends, which was amazing!

Visiting Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin, with the host parents from my American exchange year, Kathy and Mike.

In April 2011, I missed Guildford so much that I had to go back for a long-weekend trip. I also visited Bath and London.

Guildford Castle, a late 11th century castle built by William the Conqueror. Its surrounding gardens are gorgeous in spring.

Bath Abbey.

The Roman Baths which gave the city its name.

The Royal Crescent in Bath.

Tower of London and City of London seen from the top of London Bridge.

I went to the island of Santorini for a week in spring 2011, and it was such a lovely vacation. I've never been a fan of charter tours, but they're not too bad when the destinations are as beautiful as this. Santorini has a breathtaking landscape, architecture and history, and the weather was great. Beach vacays have started to grow on me.

Visiting Oia on the northwestern side of the island, known for its beautiful sunsets.

Visiting the volcano on Nea Kameni.

By the Akrotiri Lighthouse.

In August 2011, I had the chance to go to a translators' conference in San Francisco for a week, all expenses paid for, and I grabbed it with both hands. I also decided to take an extra few days off and travel to Los Angeles, because I had never been to the west coast of the United States. It was the first time I traveled completely alone, and that was an experience in itself. I've flown to the United States on my own before, but I've always had someone to stay with, so this was different. I felt very safe at all times in San Francisco, but parts of Los Angeles were a bit shady after dark. Everywhere I went, people were in awe that I was traveling completely on my own, and everyone told me how dangerous the city was, especially Venice Beach, where I was staying. For the first time in my life, I felt unsafe enough to take cabs everywhere I went after dark.

San Francisco

Lombard Street, San Francisco

Venice Beach

Hollywood

Disneyland

In Autumn 2011, I realized my dream of working as a wildlife volunteer and went to the Harnas ranch in Namibia in Africa. It was a mind-blowing experience, to say the least. It changed me for life.

I fell in love with a cheetah cub called Atheno.

Vervet monkey.

Caracals.

My favorite leopard cub, Hellboy. He was between 5 and 6 months old, and so naughty!

I visited the gorgeous Dead Vlei in the Namib Desert.

I went to Etosha Wildlife Reserve in the north of Namibia and saw wild lions up close!

Etosha was teeming with wildlife.

In May/June 2012, I got the chance to go on the road for an entire month with the TV production Sommerfesten. I worked as one of two coordinators in a huge TV crew, and I got to see some amazing places on the way. We visited Brnnysund, Bod, Narvik, Harstad, Troms, Karasjok and Honningsvg, in that order. Most of the time we moved from one place to the other by either bus or boat, so I had plenty of time to soak in the beautiful surroundings. I had never been north of Sunnmre before, so this was a fantastic, new experience for me.

I went for an amazing rib ride off the coast of Harstad and saw eagles!

I traveled with the Coastal Express for the first time in my life.

I saw the midnight sun in Troms.

Part of my responsibility on Sommerfesten was to make sure that all the artists had what they needed at any time. Here's Alexandra Joner with her two dancers.

Albino reindeer in Karasjok.

Standing proudly on North Cape, the northernmost point in mainland Europe.

In July 2012, I went to Copenhagen for a few days for a reunion with some of the volunteers at Harnas. It was really nice to catch up with everybody. I've been to Denmark plenty of times in the past, but this was my first time in Copenhagen, and it's such a nice city. I loved the shopping there, too.

The outdoor restaurants in Nyhavn were all full. We were lucky to get a table.

The Little Mermaid.

Visiting a sand sculpture exhibit across from the Opera House.

I was bit by the wildlife volunteering bug when I went to Namibia, so the year after, I decided to go back to Africa for another volunteering stint. This time to the Lion Park in Gauteng, South Africa, just outside of Johannesburg. I also spent a week in beautiful Cape Town, which has become one of my favorite places in the world.

The lion cubs were too adorable for words. They would fall asleep in my arms, like babies.

The cheetah is probably my favorite cat. This beautiful boy is called Masai, and purred like a tractor on turbo fuel.

The colorful area of Bo-Kaap in Cape Town.

The view from Table Mountain.

Camps Bay.

I jumped out of a plane for the second time in my life with Cape Town and Table Mountain as a backdrop.

Cape of Good Hope.

I went shark cage diving off the coast of Cape Town and saw a whopping 12 great whites!

I went to Helsinki for a job trip in autumn 2012, my second time in Finland. I didn't have much time for sightseeing, but I managed to sneak away for a couple of hours.

The Big Buddha on Koh Samui, Thailand.

Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok, Thailand.

Standing proudly outside Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a place I had dreamed about visiting for years.

A fish market in Vietnam.

On the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

My last trip was to Barcelona in September this year. Believe it or not, it was my very first time in Spain, and I loved it! Barcelona is definitely a city I want to go back to.

As always, I'm two steps ahead planning my next vacation. My next trip will be in March. Can't wait!

Stikkord:

Montjuc

On my last day in Barcelona, I took the gondola up to Montjuc, a hill overlooking the city and harbor. Montjuc is Catalan for "Jew Mountain", and it is the site of Montjuc Castle and the 1992 Summer Olympic Park.

The Montjuc Castle, an old fortress dating back to the 1600s.

Kari.

The view from the fortress was fantastic.

The Olympic Stadium.

Always look on the bright side of life

Or perhaps the strange side of life. Here are some random pictures I took in Barcelona a month ago.

Street art a block away from our apartment.

A giant thermometer!

Padlocks in Park Gell.

Carved cacti in Park Gell.

Creepy doll!

Women seem to be an afterthought at this place.

A skate park near St. Antoni.

These are not cakes, but towels!

Big brother sees you...

The other side of the building was also covered in "eyes".

Barri Gtic

The Barri Gtic, Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, is the oldest part of the city. The Romans chose this site to build a new city during the reign of Augustus, and the Gothic Quarter has been the city's administrative center ever since.

I didn't have as much time as I wanted to explore the Barri Gtic, but at least I got to see the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral.

The faade and spire are 19th-century additions to the original Gothic building.

Cecilie was ambushed by a creepy guy with face paint and a squeeker. He forced her to pose for this picture and demanded money afterwards. Douche.

Barri Gtic is a maze of narrow streets with cute cafs, tapas restaurants, jamonerias and jewelry shops.

The beach and the marina

You can't go to Barcelona and not visit the beach. Even though it was late September, the weather was still warm, and I even went for a short dip in the ocean. It was a bit chilly, but not too bad.

The marina at night.

The Museu d'Histria de Catalunya down by the marina is lined with seafood restaurants.

Cava and paella. Yum yum!

Ruta del Modernisme

There is a great deal of exciting Modernista architecture i Barcelona, so during my visit a month ago, I dragged my other three friends on a long walk along La Ruta del Modernisme. There are so many buildings along this route and a lot of ground to cover, soI didn't have time to see them all. But I found quite a few that were marked on my map, and I also found a few other buildings by chance. Barcelona really is one of the most fascinating cities to walk aimlessly around in. Everywhere you go, you see something new and interesting.

Palau Gell, one of the first major buildings Gaud designed, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built in 1889 for Gaud's life-long patron, the industrialist Eusebi Gell. The mansion is situated on a small plot in a very narrow street, so it was difficult to get a good picture of the faade. It's possible to go inside the building, and the roof is supposed to be very beautiful, with several chimneys decorated with ceramic tiles, some of which you can spot in this picture. We had limited time, so we didn't go inside.

We stumbled onto a weird, Medieval dance performance near Palau Gell.

La Rambla

Cute outdoor cafs line the street of La Rambla.

We ate lunch at this restaurant, The Attic, two of the days we were in Barcelona.

I had sangria for lunch and dinner pretty much every day. I could get used to the life of a Southern European! I also tried the clear sangria, which is cava mixed with fruit juice and fruit. It was really, really good.

Catalan crme brle.

Palau de la Msica Catalana, the only concert hall in Europe lit by natural light from a large stained-glass dome, completed in 1908. Over the years, a few extensions have been added, which you can see in the pictures below, but the building still retains much of its original appearance.

The old meets the new.

Inside the Palau de la Msica Catalana. To see the main concert hall, we had to wait for a guide for two hours, so we decided to move on.

Casa Calvet.

Passeig de Grcia, where you find many of the nice shops in Barcelona.

Casa Terrades "Les Punxes"

The ornate "Faberg egg" tower of the Casa Lle Morero in Passeig de Grcia.

The building next to Casa Batll.

The famous Casa Mil, one of Gaud's masterpieces. Completed in 1912, it was a very controversial and innovative building with its steel structure, curtain walls and wrought iron balconies. The faade is actually self-supporting. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.

Doing the tree pose in front of Barcelona's version of The Gherkin, Torre Agbar.

Me after a looong day of shopping.

Arc de Triomph.

I finally got to use my Alexander McQueen dress that I bought this summer!

Halloween

Yesterday I attended a Halloween party at work. We hung out at work until just after midnight before some of us went clubbing downtown. Coincidentally, we walked in on the national championship in twerking. Hilarious! I stayed out until 7 AM, so I'm pretty beat today.

Me as Marilyn Monroe.

Katrine as Wednesday in the Addams Family. She looks just like Christina Ricci!

Trine won the prize for best costume in her fantastic minion outfit. I love the three single hairs on top of her head!

Skrillex, Walter White and chef Ole Martin Alfsen from 4-stjerners middag.

Wednesday Addams, Darth Vader (sans mask), a bloody victim and Lilli Bendriss, the medium from ndenes makt.

I made cookie monster cupcakes this year too.

My colleague Linda's fantastic chocolate cake.

Just look at the details!

Linda also made these cute and yummy cake pops.

Airbnb.com

On my recent trip to Barcelona, my three friends and I booked ourselves a large apartment in the cool district of St. Anton through the website Airbnb.com. It was the first time either of us had booked anything through this website, but it turned out to be a really nice experience. I can't tell you how pleased we were with the apartment. It was much better than staying at a hotel, especially since we were traveling as a group. The apartment had a living room, a kitchen, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a hallway and a small balcony. The owner Simona met us in the apartment when we arrived, showed us around the place and told us about the different restaurants and shops in the neighborhood. She was very helpful, and told us to contact her if we had any questions. She even let us have a very late checkout, free of charge. The price for the whole stay was very reasonable, too. If you're going to Barcelona in the near future, I really recommend booking a place to stay through Airbnb.com.

Here are a few snapshots of the apartment. It was messy in like five minutes after we had moved in all of our stuff, so I'd rather show you the pictures from Airbnb.com:

Living room.

Kitchen with all the appliances you need.

My bedroom, with an ensuite bathroom.

The master bedroom, which has a balcony. There were in total four bedrooms in the apartment, and with the couch in the living room, the apartment could house up to nine people.

One of the three bathrooms.

This weekend

I had a visitor this weekend. Can you guess who?

My niece Thea! She came to Oslo for the very first time. Here she's giving me kisses. She even learned a new word over the weekend. "Tante", or auntie. Well, it's more like "dadde". And she is this close to walking now. She'll be running around the house within a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see her in a month for her first birthday celebration!

The weather was horrible this weekend, but Thea had fun anyway.

One happy camper!

Casa Batll

Casa Batll is one of architect Anton Gaud's masterpieces, and a major tourist attraction in Barcelona. It is an Art Noveau remodel of a previously built house. Locally, it's called Casa dels Ossos, or the House of Bones, because of its skeletal-looking faade. The roof looks scaly, and reminds me of a dragon's back. I found both the outside and the inside so fascinating and playful. It truly is a piece of art that you can actually live in.

I bought two postcards which I thought were so cool that I had to show them to you. They're taken with a wide-angle lense. I've wanted a wide-angle lense for a few years now, but I haven't gotten around to buying one because it's so darn expensive. Cool things often are.

Fluid lines everywhere. Gaud's goal was to avoid any straight lines, and I think he almost succeeded. The steps on the staircases were among the few straight lines I saw in the house. I guess it would be difficult to avoid straight lines in a staircase. People would fall and hurt themselves.

The ceiling in the hallways had a beautiful shape.

The same shapes can be seen in the bathrooms.

Casa Batll's back yard, which isn't as spectacular as the faade. The back of the house has obviously been pretty much left untouched when the house was remodeled.

The ceiling.

I had my picture taken on the top balconcy. Had to pay 10 euros for it though...

The roof looks like a scaly dragon's back.

In one of the rooms, they showed a really cool animated film. See the whole film in the video below:

Park Gell

Our second stop in Barcelona was Park Gell, a magnificent park situated on the hill of El Carmel. It was designed by Anton Gaud and built between 1900 and 1914. It's a UNESCO world heritage site, and one of Barcelona's most popular attractions.

Looking down from El Carmel. I never knew the streets of Barcelona were this hilly.

The beautiful ceiling.

Gingerbread house.

Stikkord:
Les mer i arkivet May 2014 April 2014 March 2014
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