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How to be a Tourist: Cruise Ship Edition

  • Pack a bathing suit.
  • Pack several bathing suits.
  • Bring shorts.
  • And several pairs of open toed shoes.
  • Don’t leave your balcony door open and try and open the door to your room.
  • Drink so many pina coladas.
  • Constantly ask people if they like pina coladas.
  • Bring a book you’ve been putting off reading due to the emotional strain it will put you under.
  • Finish that book and have a good cry.
  • Don’t check your work email!
  • Don’t pay for the internet to avoid the previously mentioned work email.
  • Find out way too late that your neighbors are pretty cool people.
  • Go on a galley tour (seriously though, it’s really impressive how they manage to make that much food for that many people multiple times a day).
  • Spend at least one night making a semi-drunk semi-fool of yourself.
  • Spend all your time in the adults only section of the ship because it will be 100x quieter than the rest of the ship.
  • Find your favorite spot and just avoid your entire family there (I snuck away to the Starbucks/bakery
  • Go to the sushi restaurant.
  • No, really. You’ll be dreaming about it the rest of the trip.
  • Sit by a pool for at least an hour every day.
  • Force yourself to relax for the first time in at least 2 years.
  • Seriously though… Sit by the pool. Especially during one of the many movie screenings.
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How to be a Tourist: Winter in Portland, ME edition

Wear good shoes. 

Wear good boots

Bring sweaters. 

And a great big, super warm coat. 

And a hat that covers your ears. 

Stay in a really old house that has been converted into apartments that alternates between freezing and too warm. 

It’s better if you can’t dry your hair because simply plugging in a hair dryer makes the circuits flip. 

Make sure that apartment has a bed that makes it impossible for you to get a full night of sleep. 

Also make sure that apartment has wifi so slow you can’t stream Netflix. 

That last one sounds like a dig, but honestly, it forces you to read so… 

Bring a book or a Kindle. 

Drink coffee at Bard, Tandem, Speckled Ax, and Higher Grounds. 

Make sure you bring your book to those coffee shops to enjoy both books and coffee at the same time. 

Eat the biscuits at Tandem. 

Go to The Thirsty Pig even if you don’t eat pork — they have vegan bratwurst! 

Wake up at 4am every day because the bed sucks in your AirBnB and read the book you aren’t sure you like. 

I’m not kidding about those biscuits. 

Meet up with someone you forgot lives there — my choice was a library friend. 

Talk libraries all day in front of your boyfriend who knows very little about libraries. 

Slip on some invisible ice and do a fun little dance trying to get back up. 

Go to the art museum on Friday night (because free!). 

Drink the beer! 

Eat at Duckfat even though everyone recommended it and you were prepared to be let down. (It’s really good, y’all). 

Take a deep breath every chance you get. 

Eat some lobster, if that’s your thing. 

Go to the Crypotozoology Museum because it’s raining and snowing and you need to be inside for the an hour or so. 

Enjoy the time away from obligations for the first time in over a year. 

Take more deep breaths. 

Finish the book you were reading at 4am when you couldn’t sleep. 

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How to Fall In Love: Oslo Edition (Norway)

I’ve been putting off this post on our Oslo trip because I’ve had Post-Vacation Funk.

You know what I’m talking about.

The funk you get in when you get back from an awesome vacation, bank account depleted, and have to go back to 1) work, and 2) real life where you have to clean and cook and do chores. Ugh. Real life stinks.

Vacation forever!

Moving on.

My simple tip for falling in love with Oslo is just to visit. If you love chilly, grey weather, make sure you visit in early October. I also recommend taking someone you love with you, because it really does enhance the experience.

I love traveling alone. You don’t have anyone to answer to, you can plan your trip however you want, visit everything you want to see without having to argue with anyone, and you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Traveling alone is the friggin’ best.

But, as I have learned over the last few months, I’m grateful to have a traveling partner that makes me go outside my comfort zone, pushes me to go that extra mile (or two), and can help me find my way when I’m lost. It was better to have someone in Oslo with me.

While I didn’t tackle everything on my map, I did visit things I hadn’t considered at his suggestion. We cultivated lists together, and when I got frustrated at not being able to get everything done, I had someone to tell me to calm down and help me prioritize. I had someone to talk to at meals, or to totally ignore while we both decompressed by staring at our phones.

I had someone to watch TV with at the end of the day.

I won’t say it was all perfect. We definitely got frustrated with each other, I spent a fair amount of time being hangry as hell, and we ate pasta almost every. single. night. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Having a travel companion isn’t important.

Having the right travel companion is vital.

Here’s all the places we went:

Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip

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How To Be A Tourist: Oslo Edition

She Lies sculpture

  • Bring a sweater.
  • Bring several sweaters.
  • And a rain jacket.
  • Wear good shoes.
  • When your AirBnB host offers to let you use her hair dryer and straighteners, make an awkward joke about how your boyfriend will be sure to get a lot of use out of them.
  • Keep trying to pronounce every word even though the Norwegians look at you like you have 12 heads.
  • Forget everything you know about phonetics.
  • Keep repeating “skoleboller” until the guy behind the counter shakes his head and just hands you the tasty pastry.
  • Eat all the tasty pastries.
  • Drink 100 lattes.
  • Smile at everyone even though they don’t smile back.
  • Photograph your lattes so the guy who made your coffee can laugh at you.
  • Ask “does this have pork in it?” of everything you think you might possibly want to eat.
  • Almost all of it has pork in it.
  • Eat a yummy hamburger.
  • No, really. Get a hamburger.
  • Repeat the tram stop names each time the automated voice says it. People on the tram will love it.
  • Ride every kind of public transportation! Especially the T-Bane.
  • Call the T-bane “T-Pain.”
  • Seriously though… eat the skolebolle.

oslo royal palacejonathan climbing the oslo opera houseoslo opera houseoslo fjord tour oslo fjord tourme! jonathan vigelandmuseet latte from joe & the juicemural

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How to Fall in Love: Copenhagen Edition

When I went to Ireland and Amsterdam in 2014, I needed that trip. I talk about that trip a lot because it was so important to me. It was my first trip out of North America, my first extended trip as an adult, and the first time in 8 years that I felt, truly and completely, alone. I had no boyfriend, I hated my job, my health was failing, and I didn’t know if I would even make it to 2015.

I was scared, exhausted by my daily life, and I needed to be anywhere else.

I needed Ireland.

I needed Amsterdam.

When I booked my trip to Copenhagen, there was a part of me that thought I would need this trip too. I had just been dumped after a year of not-so-great-long-distance-dating. At the time it seemed fine, but even I knew, deep down, that we amounted to little more than friends. We were mismatched in too many ways to make something last. But, of all the things I am, I am stubborn and unrelenting.

It ended, and it should have, and I was okay with it a whole three days after it happened.

And then I went on a date. A date with a person who, at the time, I felt was odd and arrogant, but somehow felt like the most comfortable person I’d been around (he knows this). It’s easy to romanticize things looking back, and I promise you that I’m not. It took a few months for us to get on the same page about our relationship, and within those months, I planned a solo trip to Copenhagen. I felt like the need for a big trip was coming again. I felt like I’d need to be anywhere but home. I felt like things weren’t going to work out.

But that hasn’t been the case. I’m here because I want to be here, 3,600 miles from home, experiencing a new city, making mistakes, getting lost, ruining my feet, seeing everything I can possibly see… But I don’t need to be here. I don’t need to be alone.

My life has made quite a few unexpected turns over the last month. I’ve been home, on a lake, busy, sad, happy, frustrated, overwhelmed, and trying to set down roots in ways I never imagined I would.

But here we are.

And here I am.

This was one of the worst planned trips I’ve ever been on. I had a short list of places I wanted to go, but I didn’t spend too much time looking into what or when or how to accomplish anything. I didn’t look up restaurants I wanted to go to, or how to navigate the metro, or … Well, anything. I knew how to get from the airport to my AirBnB, and that’s about it.

I also had to buy clothes today to fly home in. There was no way an airline was going to let me board with pants that smelled that badly. I thought I had packed another pair of pants, but… just add it to the list of things I didn’t plan very well for this trip.

I feel like I’ve spent the last three days walking around in circles. I managed to go to Den Blå Planet,Tivoli, Ny Carlsberg Glypototek, Nationalmuseet, and Christianborg Palace (including the Tårnet, royal stables, and the ruins beneath the castle),  Kronborg (Hamlet’s Castle), Fredensborg PalaceNyhavn,  and The Round Tower. Oh, and I went on a canal tour, so I got to see a lot of things from the water that I didn’t visit, like The Little Mermaid statue and a bunch of landmarks.

There are two places I ate at every day that I wish I could take home with me: Wulff & Konstali Food Shop, and Cafe Alma. I could seriously eat at these places forever. I’ll miss them.

Things I wish I’d done: Frederiksborg Castle,  The Royal Library, any number of the old churches, and the Danish Jewish Museum. I also slightly regret not going to Christiania.

Even with all of that factored in, it’s hard not to be in love with Copenhagen. There’s art everywhere. I didn’t realize it until I took the canal tour, which gives you a unique perspective on a city that almost demands that you look up at every turn. There are statues on almost every building, even in the shopping districts. It’s beautiful here. The food is great, the people are friendly, and there’s nothing to regret. It’s worth the trip… even if you only have one pair of pants for three days of 70 degrees with 80% humidity.


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