Tag: Travel

Cozy Norway: Mountain Huts and Still Waters

Sometimes I feel that my soul is hungry for new adventures. That feeling is not really describable – it’s just something that you feel and you realize you’ve got to do something. It’s not controllable, it’s coming from inside and it’s slowly “eating” you until you give up. Nearly the same as eating – you feel you’re hungry and you’ve got to eat something, otherwise the feeling does not stop. I normally feel this way about traveling.

This autumn I was “hungry” for some inner piece, relaxation and long walks, so having found ridiculously cheap Wizzair offer (30€) I booked my flight from Riga to Bergen. Following my thoughts on my grandpa (see another post here) I thought I should spend some time with my thoughts, exploring the wild nature, mountaneous landscape and beautiful scenery that Norway has to offer.


Without a doubt, Norway is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited (the first being New Zealand, many years ago). The land is filled with majestic glacier-formed mountains, deep fjords and beautiful little mountain huts. This time it’s been the second time I visited Norway, and I spent a week eating local food (as much as it can be veganized), meeting lovely and calm Norwegian people, seeing incredible views and, overall, falling in love with the country yet once again.


Going to Bergen is quite typical, and a lot of travelers’ routes involves Bergen. Bergen was my first stop (simply because I landed there) and I spent two days exploring the second-biggest city in Norway, which did not seem big at all. Bergen is a beautiful waterfront city, which has got a cozy old town right on the water on the edge of mountains. Bergen’s most famous site is Bryggen – it’s World Heritage-listed Hanseatic wharf with painted wooden buildings that have been standing by the water for hundreds of years. I couldn’t have helped to take a few pictures over there!

The Fishmarket is yet another interesting and very Scandinavian landmark worth visiting. It’s located with by the Bryggen and it’s a nice place if you’d like to do some window-shopping or you’re hungry for a bite (and do eat fish). Even though it smells quite fishy (hehe.. surprise!) it’s interesting to have a sneak-peak into where do “general” Norwegians shop.







Haugesund is the regional centre for nearly 100.000 inhabitants and happens to be one of Norway’s foremost trading towns. The abundance of fish (in particular herring) made it possible for the city to develop rapidly, making it an important town for the export of herring, and into one of the largest maritime towns in Norway.

This time, Haugesund was my final for this time, as I was visiting my dad who currently happens to live there. Having been in Haugesund previously, this time I enjoyed a walk in the city finishing my walk with the meal and a drink at Indian Gate. I know, perhaps not the “most Norwegian place ever” you’d say, but it was a perfect choice for my soul (and tummy) hungry for some delicious vegan meal and a beautiful view. There’s a whole bunch of amazing cafes and restaurants located by the shore, called Smadesundet. It’s definitely worth a walk.

Having been in Haugesund before I was quite surprised finding a new unheard and unseen place – Futurefood. It’s a very small shop-cafe, fully vegan, however did not seem too popular at that time. I just dropped by to see their menu promising myself to drop yet another day for some “junk food” but I ended up being pretty busy. Next time it is! After all, having some free time I’ve finally decided to visit Langfoss – the fifth largest waterfall in Norway and awarded to be one of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls by CNN. The weather, unfortunately, has not been very pleasing which ended up in a few ruined photos and a lot of wind – but hey, I saw it, right?








While in Norway, just take some time to enjoy a long sightseeing tour, a long walk by the local fjord or simply a nearby lake. Nearly every corner is a wow-worthy, and I’ve been amazed on how peacefully, calmly and happily Norwegians live. It’s worth taking a short break and just being there with your thoughts – I can guarantee that you’ll come back home richer, fuller and a lot more calm.

Norway travel tips

Accommodation - Like everything else in Norway, accommodation is not cheap. Sometimes (depending on your location) accommodation prices may be twice or even three times higher the European average. You can however get some decent discounts for hostels and get a dorm room for a cost between 200-500 NOK per night, whereas private rooms cost around 800 NOK. Hotels begin at around 1200 NOK per night for a double room. If you happen to visit Norway during the spring / summer you can also camp, and on a lot of public lands it’ll be for free (remember that it tends to be quite cold at night, thought!).

Food - Eating out is not cheap, but you can normally (like anywehre else) get some cheap(er) foods in small local eateries, such as kebab/pizza houses, where sit-down fast-food meals start from 80 NOK. I spent a little over 200 NOK for a one-person meal and a drink at Indian Gate restaurant in Haugesund (remember, however, that small cities are a little cheaper compared to Bergen and Oslo).

Transportation - Trains and busses driving from one to another city normally cost between 300-700 NOK, depending on the distance. If you buy your train ride early enough, you can expect it to be a lot cheaper. And if you’re lucky (and happen to snatch a good discount), you can travel for as little as 80 NOK. A lot of young people also hitch-hike, and the great majority of Norwegians are keen on taking and dropping passenger if it happens to be on their way.

Activities - If you are hungry for the “real” Norwegian landmarks, then you simply must visit a few fjords. Walking and fjort sight-seeing is a very popular activity in Norway, despite whether you’re a tourist or local. Multi-day tours normally cost ~1050 NOK a day, however you can find cheaper day tours for around 400-750 NOK. Museum prices are normally 80-100 NOK and you sometimes get a discount if you show an international student ID.

5 Things No One Tells You Before You Move To Denmark

If moving abroad was easy, everyone would do it, right? Yet looking at the statistics it seems that only around 232 million migrants live abroad worldwide. Knowing the fact that there are over 7 billion people on Earth, the fraction of 232 million looks incredibly small… So if you have decided to move abroad and are currently residing outside of your home country (or have done that for a while) – congratulations! You are a part of a small amount of people, who can proudly call themselves risk-takers. 

1. Leaving home takes courage

Every year students leave the comforts of their homes to experience living abroad, culture shock, learn a new language, travel, meet new people and open a new chapter in their lives which usually is quite demanding. It takes time to do your research, it takes time to prepare mentally for changes and, once you arrive, it is hard to cope with homesickness. Sometimes you may find yourself thinking that you would just like to pack your luggage and go home right now. However, such moments do pass and usually become the situations that change you most. All in all, travel changes you. Not only does the fact that you have lived abroad changes you – the new culture, new friends and new environment impacts you, so you have to be flexible and adaptable. Does it surprise you that the great majority of employers prefer to employ candidates who have lived abroad for a while, believing that they adapt to changes faster?

time to travel

2. Learning Danish is not easy

Before moving to Denmark you might have heard of the Little Mermaid, vikings or the fact that Danes are a biking nation. You might have also heard that Danish is similar to Swedish, which is similar to Norwegian, which makes it easy for Scandinavians to understand each other without any problems. Wrong! There are a number of Danes who speak English to their friends from other Scandinavian countries as they might have different dialects, especially if they lived in smaller cities further away from capitals. It takes time to adjust. And for internationals, it definitely takes time to learn the language since, unfortunately, none of Scandinavian languages are easy to learn. If you happen to speak German it will probably go a lot easier and if you have a good command of English language (particularly grammar), Danish grammar will seem to be easy to understand. Unfortunately, a lot of internationals struggle with pronunciation.

As Danish is said to be a hard language to learn, Danes really appreciate if you speak at least basic Danish and show an effort in learning it. Even though nearly everyone in Denmark speaks perfect English, people are still thrilled and happy hearing foreigners speaking Danish. Besides, if you speak at least OK Danish your chances of getting a job in Denmark increase at least twice.


3. It takes effort to find Danish friends

If you happen to be in US, you notice that people have no problems talking and chit-chatting with strangers. In Denmark, people usually try to keep distance and do not chit-chat without a specific goal. Danish keep their childhood or school friends for a really long time and barely make new friends when they start working. However, if you do show an effort in communicating with Danes it does pay off probably a lot more than anywhere else in the world – you can be sure that you have “earned” a friend for life.


4. Simple things = best things

Internationals are usually surprised how simple Danish cuisine is. Traditional meal of Denmark is… sandwich! Yes, you got it right, sandwich. Danish are proud of their traditional open sandwich, made out of a dark, buttered rye bread (called rugbrød) and the topping (called pålæg) which is usually meat, fish, cheese or spreads. Danes try to “layer” bread with additional things on top, such as vegetables and greens and so on making the sandwich, one of the easiest and simplest dishes existing, actually look nice and appetizing. If you want to make a Dane happy, give him a couple of good-looking open sandwiches, a jug of beer and initiate a discussion. By doing so a couple of times, you might find a friend (re-read nr.3).

Danish sandwiches

5. The less, the better

Before you come to Denmark, you probably have taken more than 2 big luggage bags with you full of clothes, shoes and toiletries. Maybe even some food. Ask yourself whether you really need to pack everything you own? Do you need to bring bed bedding or a toothpaste – can’t you buy it in Denmark? After all, Denmark is all about second-hand purchases. It is very easy (and nearly every single student) buys second-hand furniture, clothes, accessories, kitchenware and so forth. Remind yourself, that you will most likely purchase some things in Denmark and will not be able to bring all of it home, if you ever intend to. Remember, that Copenhagen has IKEA (cheap furniture) and a number of great second-hand stores where you can get probably everything you need.


Hello New Zealand: Welcome To Mãori Aotearoa!

I have always thought that going to Australia or New Zealand, if your budgets afford, is a perfect getaway from rainy, cold and miserable Denmark. Just the time that fellow Danes celebrate Christmas inside getting close to each other by drinking Aalborg Snaps, Kiwis grill sausages and have a Christmas barbeque. Sounds like something you would like to experience? Book your tickets now – and visit my beloved 4 most interesting cities in New Zealand.

New Zealand or Mãori Aotearoa is anvisland country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses ‒ that of the North and South Island‒ and numerous smaller islands. There are four big cities in New Zealand two located on the northern Island, Wellington and Auckland and two on the South Island, Christchurch and Queenstown. These are cities tourist often visit, in the south they are often visited for the snow in the winter season, and in the north they are visited for their size. But New Zealand has many small pearls to visit if you have the time and the heart of Phileas Fogg.

Art Deco, Napier, New Zealand

Napier has a Unique architecture after a 7.8 earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1931, the city was rebuild mostly in the art deco style, trendy at the time age of the 1930′s.

Napier is located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island and more importantly is has a seaport frequently used. Napier is the nexus of the largest wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere, and it has the primary export seaport for northeastern New Zealand – which is the largest producer of apples, pears, and stone fruit in New Zealand.



For a Cultural Experience visit Napier during Art Deco weekend, which is celebrated in February where the city proudly celebrates its heritage and party like it is 1930′s.

A must do while visiting this little City is take a promenade along Marine Parade, a vibrant community area and enjoy the view of the sea, the people you meet.

In terms of sight-seeing Napier has the largest display of sea life in New Zealand is located at the national museum where you can see and swim with sharks. Furthermore Cape Kidnappers, located just outside of Napier has the largest colony of gannets in the world.

Te Anau and Milford Sounds, New Zealand

Here you can explore some of the most beautiful nature throughout New Zealand: the Fiordland Te Anau and Milford Sounds, or Piopiotahi, as the Mãoris call itA Fjord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National ParkIt has been said to be the world’s top travel destination in an international survey in TripAdvisor, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Wondering how to get there? Fear not, there are not so many roads in New Zealand, so the way to get here is pretty straight forward. But why not take a few stops on the way? While driving thru Te Anau, take a pit stop and go on a horse trekking is a lovely way to spend a day enjoying the scenery. Westray Horse treks is a little company that takes people for a ride no matter experience. The cinema in Te Anau is another place where one can see the scenery, for 10 NZ they offer you 30 minutes of different scenery featuring the fiord land from one end to the other. No words are said during the movie, only peaceful music. Had you previously been unsure whether or not you wanted to take the drive all the way to Milford Sounds after watching this piece of art, there will be no doubt left.

Milford hills

Before going to Milford Sounds I had only seen extremely catchy and breathtaking broshures that streets sellers would offer me, realizing that I am up for some challenge. But oh well, how many of those promises turn out to be true? I was sceptical, but it was 110% more than I expected. In Milford Sounds get yourself on one of the many boat cruises and enjoy the surroundings, get a picture of a seal colony, a dolphin or maybe even a penguin if you are lucky.

Milford sounds

As for dinner Te Anau has a little restaurant located on the main street called The Olive tree, it is a budget cafe that serves good quality food. Why dinner in Te Anau? The tunnel to and away from Milford Sounds closes at 6 pm.

Insider tip: Pre-book the hostel/motel/hotel in Te Anau. You might not get anything at the last minute.

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is a town located on the east coast of the south island. It is located on State Highway 1, 180 km north of Christchurch.

The Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea south of the town, and the resulting upwelling currents bring an abundance of marine life from the depths of the nearby Hikurangi Trench. This makes it an excellent place to explore the big mammals that lives in the sea. The biggest ones being the Sperm Whale. Kaikoura have a lot of different tourist options for meeting these big mammals, bigger or smaller boats or how about taking a one propeller airplane over the bay to see the sperm whales from above is a beautiful experience, it is a little expensive (145 NZ) but definitely an amazing experience. Insider tip: be careful about this option if you easily get motion sick. Other than that you can go swimming with dolphins or seals, or just watch the seals at the eastern edge of the town where a large colony of Southern Fur Seals have their home. It is about a 10-15 minute walk outside of the city. At low tide, better viewing of the seals can be had as the ocean gives way to a rocky base which is easily navigable by foot for quite some distance.


It is also one of the best reasonably accessible places in the world to see open ocean seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels and shear waters.

Kaikoura offers different experiences with all these mammals, and you can book seal and dolphin swims, watches kayaking etc, so if you are interested in these pearls of the sea, Kaikoura is the place to go.


As for accommodation being a small town, Kaikoura does have a lot of different accommodation located in this city, just turn right off the highway and drive down by the coast. The city contains of only a few street and both backpackers and motels are in fairly reasonable price ranges.

Insider tip: Try to be a morning person, since there is hardly anything going on in this city after 8 in the evening.

Wanaka, New Zealand

It is a town in the Otago region of the South Island situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, adjacent to the outflow of the lake to the Clutha Ricer. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, and if you like hiking, stunning scenery and untouched nature, Wanaka ought to be a stop on your map around New Zealand. This city has the surroundings for hiking and adventures and if you are in the mood for a beer after a long day of walking there is a bit of night life at least New Zealand small town standards.

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka offers some of the best hiking in New Zealand, ranging from 30 minutes to 5 days, but hiking to the majestic Rob Roy Glacier is what 80% of the tourists visit when going here. The track is an ideal entry point to Mt Aspiring National Park – an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.
A one hour drive from Wanaka brings you to the Raspberry Creek car-park. After a 15 minute valley walk you cross the West Matukituki River into beech forest as the track climbs through a small gorge along the Rob Roy Stream, then into alpine vegetation at the head of the valley, with good views of the Rob Roy Glacier. Here you can enjoy your lunch by a cascading waterfall with native alpine parrots as dinner company, while listening to the cracks of the hanging glacier high overhead. This trek is about 4-5 hours in return. Remember to check with the information center about weather conditions and walks for your fit/age/equipment before setting out to any of the big walks. If you are less of a walker there are many small tracks as well that leads to beautiful nature, such as Blue Pool Track a one hour return easy-walk starting at the car park on State Highway 6 near Makarora just north of Muddy Creek and leads through silver beech/tahina to a swing bridge overlooking the pools at the mouth of Blue River. Large brown and rainbow trout can often be seen feeding in the pools. What ever your fitness level/age/motivation are there will be a walk for you all you have to do is ask at the information center.

The lake

Insider tip: Remember no freedom camping and sleeping in your car counts as freedom camping and they will give you a 200 dollar fine. 

Other than that – enjoy your warm December in New Zealand! (and don’t forget to post some pictures on Facebook to make your cold and sick friends jealous, hihi!).

Pictures made by Anne Kølner, if not stated otherwise.

We Love Denmark, Because…

I bet all of you know or at least have heard about the fairytales The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. Some of you might even know that they were written by Hans Christian Andersen, a great Danish writer. Denmark is also known for Karen Blixen, Danish author, also known by her pen name as Isak Dinesen. And last, but not least – we cannot forget the greatest smørrebrød…  

Without a doubt, Denmark is a great country to live in. It has a number of opportunities that one can use. Even though it is relatively cold and grey, Denmark is still said to be the happiest country in the whole world. Wonder why? We decided to find it out.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
― William ShakespeareHamlet

The main reason why you love Denmark? (2 votes)

Happiest Tribe on Earth

Do you know where the happiest people on Earth live? You must’ve answered “Denmark”. According to the ex-missionary Daniel Everett, the happiest people live in Brazil. 

Pirahã men @ Ezotera.ariom

Pirahã men
@ Ezotera.ariom

Members of a primitive tribe, called Pirahã, are said to be the most simple and happiest people living on mother Earth, or so they perceive themselves. They are extremely simple, basing their knowledge on facts and relationships. A missionary, who went to the Amazon jungle trying to convert a lonely tribe has become an atheist himself and has written a book on Pirahã people pointing the differences between the simple tribe and modern 21-century people.

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

How different the realisation of world is among Pirahãs? First and foremost, Pirahã might be the only people not sleeping for a long time, unlike us. In many countries we have such expressions like “good night”, “sleep tight” or “sweet dreams”, that we say before going to sleep. In Pirahã tribe people, before going to nap, say to each other something similar to “Don’t sleep! There are snakes around”.

When You Are Not You Anymore

Members of Pirahã tribe usually nap 20-30 minutes each time they feel sleepy. Not more than that. Pirahã people think that sleeping is bad. They believe that while sleeping, a human being becomes weak and unable to protect himself, therefore they try to avoid long-hour sleep. And, most interestingly, they believe that after a long sleep you are not you anymore. If they happen to fall assleep for a longer time than they had planned (i.e. 20-30 minutes), they change their names because they are are not they anymore. Pirahã’s would change their names and would refer to their past as “him” (i.e. previous me).


In Pirahã tribe experiencing things means everything. Literally. Their culture is concerned solely with matters that fall within their direct personal experience, and therefore there is no undefined past or future, only their current personal experience and living memory. They have a concept and expression Xibipíío, meaning “experiential liminality”, which describes something “experiencable” or experienced. They do not value past or future, but instead focus on now, i.e. current  Xibipíío =  current experience. The tribe does not understand unexperienced past; i.e. if you want to say that “he went fishing last week”, Pirahã people will not believe you. First, because such concept of weeks does not exist, instead time is relative and you would have to say that it happened “small time” or “big time” ago. Second, in Pirahã language every verb must have a suffix, which indicates the source of evidence. So you end each verb with either “I saw it”, “I heard it” or “I deduced it from other available evidence”. Otherwise, if you do no do this, they will not understand how come you can even makes such claim and they would dismiss it (“I don’t believe it happened, unless there is evidence for it” attitude).

Accepting Things As They Are

Politeness in Pirahã tribes doesn’t exist, because it only shows lack of trust in each other. Everyone loves, supports and understands each other in the tribe, where they do not question or try to reason things too much. Children are not punished or shouted on and the only explanation and reasoning they have is “it just happened”. And that’s it. They do not question things nor try to see “deeper” aspects of feelings or situations. If a rebellious teenager wants to be alone for the whole day – fine, you are free to do anything you want as long as you are willing to not eat all day. You are responsible for yourself and your own survival.

In Pirahã  tribe natural occurrences are not questioned. Things just happen. There are no special ceremonial rituals either. Two people “marry” when they start living together, and two young children can “marry” as well, because a boy might know how to catch fish and a girl knows how to clean it, therefore they can live together helping each other.

You Are Responsible For Your Own Work

One of the strongest Pirahã values is no coercion; you simply don’t tell other people what to do. You do not command (and cannot command) nor give advices, everyone knows what they have to do without being told so. Since there is no social hierarchy, no one is “better” or “worse” than the other one. The tribe doesn’t have leaders. Everyone is equal (hmm, just like in Denmark…) and equally good.

No God And No Myths

The story of Jesus Christ to Pirahã did not sound convincing enough since they did not understand such words as “century”, “time” and “history”. After Pirahã tribe had listed to the missionary Daniel Everett, the only questions they asked were “was he brown like us, or white like you”? “Did you see him? Did your father see him?” According to Pirahã , if you or at least people close to you haven’t experienced it, it is simply not relevant. Pirahã does not have any concepts of a supreme entity or God and they lost interest in Daniel’s stories as soon as they discovered that he had no empirical verification for Jesus. They require evidence on personal experience (Xibipíío). Otherwise they dismiss it as irrelevant.

To my mind, such tribes as Pirahã show that happiness lies in in small, daily activities. The more we try to complicate, the worse our lives become. It seems it’s quite easy to be happy, as long as you do not over-complicate your life… Don’t you think so?

Crete: Mediterranean Pearl

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Visiting this pearl, you can explore the remnants of brilliant civilizations, discover glorious beaches with beautiful crystal blue water, impressive landscapes covered in mountains, valleys and steep gorges, or simply fall in love with the gastronomic culture. There is much to explore. Crete has, after all, been desired and wanted by civilizations for thousand of years, discover why for yourself.



Crete is regarded one of the historical centers, being home of the earliest recorded civilization in Europe, the Minoan civilization (2700-1420 BC). This is the ideal destination for sun, sand and sea. The Greek Island is home to the bluest water, kind people, beautiful scenery and, not to be forgotten, quite a long history- being conquered, invaded and occupied by more or less all its neighbors. Its mythology is largely connected with the ancient Greek Gods but is also connected with the Minoan civilization.



All the Greek islands are home of the Greek Gods and Aphrodite or Ares have sights all over the places. Knossos, the home of king Minos who had Daedalus construct a labyrinth in which to retain his son, the Minotaur. Where Icarus, Daedalus’ son, flew too close to the sun, when they tried to escape king Minos, is on top of the list dating back to 7000 BC, and The Idaion cave at Mount Ida is according to Crete history the birthplace of Zeus are some of the largest. Other archaeological sites worth visiting if in Crete are Phaistos; the first settlement dates to the Late Neolithic starting about 3000 BC, and is an old Bronze age city. It is believed to have been a part of the kingdom of Knossos, the Minoan complex of Gortys, where it is said that Europa and Zeus made love and conceived the Kings of the Minoan civilization. Another is the island of Kousonisi, which has remains and ruins from Minoan, Roman and World War ii, and tons of other stories and places to visit.

The climate in Crete is primarily temperate, with mild winters. Snow will cover the mountains in winter, but appears rarely in the sea level areas, and if it does, often disappears shortly after. The south coast, being in climate zone with North Africa, enjoys more sunny days and higher temperatures then the north. Crete is the most populous island in Greece and has a population of over 600.000 people. The population is divided between rural areas and the larger cities, with Heraklion being the largest city and the capital of Crete.



Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Overall, more than two million tourists visit Crete every year. Depending on what kind of vacation you are looking for, Crete has a bit of everything. Heraklion and Chania are beautiful cities, but Crete is filled with small cozy cities and the people are very welcoming. If in want of stunning beaches, Elafonisi south of Chrisiskalitisa and Vai Beach is highly recommended. For luxury, stay at Elounda. If in a party mood Malia is the place to be. As for time of year, I would recommend June to avoid peak season. Another good time to visit would be mid-August to join in the Pangia Festival, celebrated with parades, music and feasting across the island.

While here, why not engage in some local cuisineRake is a traditional drink one should try at least once while visiting; another is Grappa, another Greek tradition. Food wise, Greek Kebab is the country’s original fast food; meat served in pita with salad and tzadziki.

Night spots: Most bigger cities have night life, but watch out for English tourists; these people, once they get drunk, have a way of being the least charming individuals you will ever meet.




Being a pearl of the Mediterranean Sea, you would of course want to see as much of the island as possible while visiting. The bus system is quite efficient and cost effective. If just seeing the local places, bikes are a nice way to get around and stay fit in the smaller cities. Taxis are relatively cheap, but for exploring the island a car is the easiest way; remember though if hiring a car make sure to check the small print, often it says that you must only drive on surfaced roads for the insurance to cover, and many routes in Crete, looking fine on the maps, are gravel once reached.