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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Spring Break trip Part 3: Stockholm, Sweden

I know my vacation posts are just dragging on and probably boring by now considering it has been almost a month, but for my own sake (remember I plan to print out this blog at some point!), I can't neglect posting about the last city we visited on our Eurotrip 2019... STOCKHOLM!

Even though I didn't have hight expectations, Stockholm really shocked me, it was way more interesting than I thought it would be and out of the places we visited, it was also the one with the most resemblance to American culture. 
Stockholm is an incredibly colorful city, with interesting architecture and very rich and diverse culture; we really enjoyed our time there and made some wonderful memories.
During our time in Stockholm, we spent a lot of time walking the city (by that point, I was a pro walking with my boot) and enjoyed the perfect weather we were blessed with... it was seriously perfect!
I wouldn't categorize Stockholm as an "exciting" city; on the contrary, I found it to be a really laid back and uneventful city, and I say this in the most loving of ways because we really enjoyed our "down time" after being on the go for so many days prior. Its layout is very interesting since it's an archipelago so it makes for great geography and just nice overall. 
Here are some of the highlights of Stockholm:
1. Gamla Stan: cobbled streets and colorful buildings make for one of the most iconic images of the city.  Definitely not to miss!


2. The food: Sweden isn't short on delicious tastes and culinary experiences that will certainly leave a mark!


3. Royal Castle and change of guard: I really enjoyed the art housed in the Royal Castle and seeing the change of guard was such an amazing experience!


4. Colorful architecture: All of the buildings in the city had something special to them.  There was a lot of construction and renovation work going on in the city, which shows how architecture and the city's landscape are always at the forefront


5. The ABBA Museum:  this is one of the most exciting museums I have visited. We aren't huge ABBA fans per se, but this interactive experience was one of the greatest highlights of our visit to Stockholm.  Definitely recommended. 


6. The beautiful nature and multiple parks: the city is riddled with parks and beautiful nature. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom so they made the city even more colorful!


7. Vasa Museum: this museum commemorates the "Vasa", which s a retired Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628 and salvaged over 300 years later.  It is preserved in this museum and it's definitely very impressive. 


8. Swedish markets: we really enjoyed walking around the multiple Swedish markets all over the city and even shopped for some cute souvenirs. 


Even though we truly enjoyed our time in Stockholm, I'm not sure that it's a place I would go back to, simply because as beautiful as it is, it doesn't necessarily stand out like other cities.. It's a "one and done" kind of city for me, but it was definitely worth a visit!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Spring Break trip Part 2: Poland

In my life I have been very fortunate to be able to travel a lot; I have visited multiple countries, explored multiple cultures and met multiple people along the way...every trip has been a great experience...
However, nothing compares to visiting Poland for the first time...a trip that came a bit too late for my liking considering my best friend of 20+ years (and godmother to my oldest daughter) is originally from Poland; so I feel like I should have visited her native country a long time ago...
But God's timing is always the best timing and I am glad that I got to visit this beautiful country with my whole family instead of in my teenage years.. we made memories that we will forever cherish and every bit of our time there was magical in every sense of the word. 

Our first stop was Poland's capital city of Warsaw, which is a gem of a place made even better by the fact that Martyna was able to join us for this part of our trip.  
Warsaw is an amazingly eclectic city, the perfect mix between classic Europe and noteworthy modern architecture. Even though our walking pace was slower than usual (remember I broke my foot in Copenhagen a few days prior!), we were able to soak in the beauty of Warsaw and visited amazing buildings, incredible parks and delicious restaurants. 
Here are some of my favorites from Warsaw


After a couple of days in Warsaw, we headed to Zakopane, a resort town in southern Poland at the base of the Tatras Mountains, right on the border of Poland and Slovakia; this is the town where Martyna's parents live and where we spent our Easter holiday, soaking in some of Poland's most beautiful religious traditions among other things.  Martyna's parents own an exquisite rental apartment building and were the most wonderful hosts to us.  They showed us around town, took us out to the most famous regional restaurants and even drove us around town to see the favorite tourist spots. 
During our time in Zakopane we visited some of the most intricate churches I have ever seen, ate at the most delicious restaurants we have tried and even hiked (not me!) a mountain and saw snow in one of the most famous peaks of Europe.... it was an incredible trip in such a dreamy place!



Once our wonderful time in Zakopane was over, we headed over to Krakow for a day. Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and it's famous for its well preserved medieval core and Jewish quarter. Krakow is also home to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary and the birthplace of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, one of the most special saints of the Catholic Church.  Visiting Krakow was the cherry on top of an already amazing trip and it's one place I'd like to visit again and again!
Here are some of my favorite shots from Krakow, which honestly don't do it justice...it was such a beautiful place..pictures can't capture it all.. not even a fraction!


But the magic of the many churches, restaurants, mountains and touristic spots we visited in Poland could never compare to the magic of experiencing all of it with my best friend by my side.  I am so grateful that Martyna took the time to make the trip with us; she was the most wonderful host, guide, translator and company we could ask for and I will forever remember this trip and pray that we can do it again at some point in our lives. 
Thank you, Poland (and Martyna!) for a wonderful time!