Island Time

It’s been a while since my last post and I blame it on “island time” and doing research for my blog. My head is still somewhere in Lanai while I am back in Denmark. Our journey took 24 hours and 4 flights but it was well worth it. I hadn’t realized that the travel time from Denmark to Lanai was one of the furthest points we could travel. Conveniently enough we didn’t need to change our watches since it was exactly 12 hours time difference.

Lanai is the 6th largest of the Hawaiian islands with only 3000 inhabitants. There are no traffic lights on the island, only stop signs, and this is the way the locals want to keep it. To explore the island you can rely on public transportation contracted by the hotels or renting a car for “off-roading”. The islanders make their way, via a 45 minute ferry ride to their neighbor island, Maui, which is only 9 miles away, for shopping outside of the daily necessities as Lanai has no shopping malls.

The island was owned by Mr. Dole and was once known as the pineapple island because it of its wide-spread plantations. Unfortunately because of the rise in cost of the production it was moved oversees and it is no longer home to the pineapple plantations. The island was recently sold to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. He now owns 98% of Lanai, leaving only 2% to Hawaii. According to the locals he plans to invest millions in agriculture and the islands infrastructure.

There are only two hotels on the island, both run by the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Manele Bay and the Lodge at Ko’ele. The Resort Lanai is located on the southern coast, at Hulopoe Bay, and this was home for 5 days. The white sand beaches are so serene with the blue waters and even better a great place to see dolphins. We were fortunate enough to see them daily and some people with the group even swam with them. Hotel employees told us there was a hefty $10k fine if you were caught by “island officials” but fortunately enough for them the “officials” never came by.

A short hike up a rocky cliff from the Four Seasons Lanai lies Puu Pehe, Sweetheart Rock, a landmark between Manele Bay and Hulopoe Bay. Here you see will see majestic views of the sea and depending on what time you are there you can catch the sunset. Legend is a heartbroken warrior jumped from this 80-foot summit, as he was overcome with grief after he found his wife Pehe had drowned by the surge of the waves. Downer, I know, but whats a post on an Hawaiian Island without a warriors legend.

This place was paradise. A quiet island that offered true serenity.

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Lanai – In flight view

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Lanai airport

ImageView from our room at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

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View from the beach watching the dolphins. You can see their little splash.

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View of Hulopoe Bay and beach from the resort pool

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Pool lounging

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Gorgeous gardens at the Four Seasons Lanai Resort

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Hike up to Puu Pehe, Sweetheart Rock

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I realize now that I didn’t get a photo of Puu Pehe. Blogger faux pas.

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Four Seasons Lanai

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Beach time, cause it’s never enough.

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Vikings

When traveling in Scandinavia its fitting to stay at a hotel such as the Radisson Blu Royal Viking, wouldn’t you say? I think the name  says enough. No need to explain, right? While my fiance, Daniel, was hard at work I gallivanted around town, met up with friends and soon to be family, found some new places to eat, shop, you know, enjoyed life. Now I didn’t capture all of my meals on camera because I was too busy yapping but I’ve included photos from two separate trips.

Now Stockholm holds close to my heart since its Daniels home, born and raised Swede. It’s a bigger city than Copenhagen but still small enough to hold that charm. While some might argue this, it reminds me more of the states than Copenhagen does. Maybe because it’s a tad bigger, or there seems to be more life out on the streets, places stay open later, or maybe its just all in the eye of the beholder and it feels like home because we have his family there. Whatever the reason may be I fell for it the minute I saw it, kind of like I did when I saw Daniel (wink, wink).

My visit started with a stroll through Drottninggatan (Queen Street), which is a major pedestrian road filled with shops, perfect for me! While I made my way in and out of the shops for the better part of the morning I started to work up an appetite so I decided to walk over to Saluhall (Market Place). If its good enough for Jamie Oliver it’s surely good enough for me. On my way I walked through Humlegården (Royal Fruit Garden) and alongside the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of this as it started to downpour and anyone who knows me understands that I am not a fan of the rain when I’m caught in it. I finally made my way to Saluhall for some Swedish grub. Trekking through the rain I worked up a good appetite so I went for it! As I wandered through the hall and looked at stand after stand I decided on stopping at Willy Ohlsonns for some köttbullar, better known to the rest of us as Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Oh yes my friends I didn’t hold back. When in Sweden…

SALUHALL
In Östermalms district of Stockholm, Saluhall translates to Market Place. Delicious Swedish and International cuisine.

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At Willy Ohlsonns for some köttbullar – Meatballs with Lingonberry Sauce and mashed potatoes
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Inside the Saluhall

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VAPIANO

So I am not big on chains, with the exception of San Bruno Chili’s of course, but this one I am a fan of. I realize after I have been that they have a franchise around the world, hmm maybe I should open one in Denmark! On a serious note, the concept is a good one. Casual yet comfortable setting with communal tables but enough so that on a not so busy night you can have a table of your own. At VAPIANO you order and it is made fresh and in front of you. I must say for a chain I was impressed that they use fresh pasta. The size of their bar and wine list wasn’t to shabby either.  In the end the pasta was delish. So was the bruschetta but we devoured that before we could take a photo…oops. A nice little touch there are fresh basil and parsley plants on the table.

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J Hotel

The J Hotel is on Nacka Strand overlooking the archipelago. It’s not in the center of Stockholm but its a quick 10 minute ferry or bus ride. The hotel itself is nestled away in a serene, beautiful area away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  It’s a modern hotel with a gorgeous view, from the balcony, facing the water.

Lounging outside of the hotel

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View from our room

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View of Nakka Strand from the Ferry on the way to center of Stockholm

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View of Stockholm from the ferry. The weather turned but still made for some great photos.

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One more mention… there is another market place, Kungshallarna, in the center of town off of Drottninggatan, the pedestrian street. I went there with a friend. and she introduced me to Ikki, a cozy Japanese restaurant, with delicious, fresh sushi.    This market place also has international foods but a little less pricey than Saluhall. A popular spot as it was full locals stopping in for a quick bite on their lunch hour.  All in all it was a great trip, wandering the city, discovering news places and just enjoying the Scandinavian culture.

Tills nästa gång!

A Roman Holiday

In my opinion, Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The history, the architecture, food, people, all of these things and more make it my favorite city. My most recent and fondest memory of Rome is from December of 2013 when I got engaged, to the love of my life (but that’s not what we are discussing today). My first memory of Rome was when I was 15 years old. My parents sent me off to Italy with my cousins to visit family. At 15 we were hesitant to go because we thought its just so much more fun to stay back home in San Francisco with our friends… boy did Italy prove us wrong. This is where our obsession started. And our pride for coming from an Italian family! The first thing I remember from that trip was family picking us up from the airport and taking us to our home for the week, a flat in the center of Rome, just the girls, no parents. What were they thinking? But on the way, one of the first things I saw was the Colosseum. What struck me most, aside from its presence was the history that was standing in the middle of the city, as people are driving home from work, going out to dinner or whatever it may be. It left me with wanting to see so much more and did we! So 20 something years later (I’m aging myself now) I returned to the beautiful city with my boyfriend, little did I know he’d have a new title as fiancé before we left! We saw Rome in a weekend. You might think it’s not possible, but yes my friends, it is. Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend.  Scroll a little further down to see a few of our suggestions for food.

View from our room at the Albergo Del Senato
View of the Pantheon from our room at the Albergo Del Senato at night

TIP: Request a room facing the Pantheon.  There are many restaurants in the piazza as well. We didn’t eat at any of them but we did sit outside and enjoyed a drink while people watching and soaked in everything going on around us.

View of the Pantheon from our room at the Albergo Del Senato
View of the Pantheon from our room at the Albergo Del Senato

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Gorgeous view
Gorgeous view from Gianicolo Hill

Tip: Worth the walk! We started at the center of Trastevere and made our way up to  Gianicolo Hill. The view stretches over ancient ruins, monuments and baroque domes.

Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona

TIP: Take a walk over to Piazza Navona at night. Its buzzing with people, the marketplace is open and there are plenty of restaurants to sit outside of and do more people watching.

Ponte Sisto
Ponte Sisto

TIP: Take a walk over this bridge as the sun is setting. A bridge is a bridge, right? Not exactly. The reflections off the water and make it breathtaking.

Colosseum
Colosseum

The Colosseum. You’ve seen it once, that’s enough. Not for me. Every trip to Rome deserves a walk to the Colosseum.  Maybe it has something to do with the memories of my first trip to Rome. I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

Jewish Ghetto in Rome
Jewish Ghetto in Rome
Fontana di Trevi
Fontana di Trevi

Don’t forget to throw a coin in the Fontana di Trevi. I did with each visit and I keep going back!

Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

TIP: Pay the 7€ and take the elevator to the top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. The views of Rome are breathtaking. From the Colosseum to the Vatican you see it all.

View from Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
View from Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
More from the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
More from the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
The Vatican by night
The Vatican by night

TIP: Buy your ticket to visit the Sistine Chapel a few days in advance during peak times. Avoid standing in extremely long lines and walk right in.

Map of Italy, showing Cirella, beautiful beach town where I spent my summers growing up with the family.
Map of Italy, showing Cirella, beautiful beach town where I spent my summers growing up with the family.
On our way to the Cappella Sistina, Sistine Chapel
On our way to the Cappella Sistina, Sistine Chapel
Il vaticano
Il vaticano


Albergo Del Senato

Piazza della Rotonda, 73, 00186
+39 06 678 4343

This hotel is in the center of Rome with beautiful views from the rooms of the piazza and the Pantheon. When I say ‘view of the Pantheon’ I mean right outside of the room as in you could throw something and hit it … even with my bad aim. I am not suggesting anyone try that.  It’s also conveniently located so you are just a short walk from most of the other sites. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. There is a beautiful rooftop which is always open so you can bring a drink up and enjoy the view which not only includes the Pantheon but on a clear night you can even see the Vatican off into the distance. In the summer they open up the rooftop bar which sounds perfect! We will definitely go back.

Restaurants

Osteria da Fortunata
Via del Pellegrino, 11 (Campo de fiori), 00186

Homemade Italian pastas made right in front of you. Try the cacio e pepe a traditional Roman dish. Amazing!

Mercato Hostaria
Piazza Campo Dè Fiori, 52, 00186

I have to recommend this restaurant not only because it is owned by a friend but just as important because it has delicious Calabrese dishes. It’s located at Campo di Fiori so sit outside on a warm night and soak in the culture, people and everything else happening around you.

Da Francescos
Piazza del Fico, 29, 00186
+39 06 686 4009

Cozy little restaurant off the touristy area with delicious pastas and pizzas.

Gelaterias

Grom Gelato

Piazza Navona 1, 00186

Popular gelato spot but I had the granita al limone. Refreshing and delicious.

La Gelateria Frigidarium
Via del Governo Vecchio, 112, 00186

Little gelato spot we found while wandering through Rome. I’d go back just for the After Eight gelato! Yummm!

Thanks for stopping by. Arrivederci a presto!

Danish buns

While most of us know the first day of Spring to be March 20th, in Denmark they make up their own rules and this year it fell on Saturday, March 1st,, or so I am told. It has something to do with reaching a certain temperature , which I’ll tell you, didn’t go above 4C (40 Fahrenheit). One thing is for sure though… it doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside the Danes love their ‘IS’ better known as ice cream. It could be snowing out and you will still see people taking a walk and eating ice cream. It must be the Viking blood. Anyway, I’ve decided to join this madness. This weekend everyone’s favorite seasonal ice cream shop opened, Paradis Café, or at least I like to think of it as a favorite. Why? Because this ice cream is like crack.  Yes it’s like a drug. I was never a huge fan of ice cream (aside from Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey) until I moved to Denmark. Now I find myself waiting for Paradis to open its doors, alongside the rest of the Danes (see picture below). Maybe its because its made fresh every day, using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients. This is how I justify going back, on a regular basis. Now my California friends… if Paradisyou are interested in tasting this ‘drug like’ ice cream you are in luck! Our friendly Danes helped open up a franchise in Southern California. Paradis Café can be found in Montrose, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Huntington Beach. So if you are taking a stroll on a winter or summer day and come across this place fabulous spot give it a shot.

The ice cream is worth it ...
The line on “opening day”.

Since we started our weekend with our drug, umm I mean ice cream of choice, we decided why not continue it with a hyggelig brunch. So off we went to Hillerød, a beautiful Danish town north of københavn. It’s especially known for Frederiksborg Castle, which is conveniently located in the center of town. The oldest parts of the castle date back to 1560, but most of the palace was constructed between 1602-1620. It was built as a royal residence and is now a

Frederiksborg Castle
Frederiksborg Castle

museum of natural history.  There you will find a variety of Danish cafes serving brunch on Sunday mornings. We stopped in at the Café København. Quite a spread which consisted of eggs, bacon, lox, fresh meats, cheeses, pastries or “danishes’ (as I like to refer to them just to remind people that I am indeed an American) and Schnapps , for most Danes a tradition.  Unfortunately I can’t handle the Schnapps at 10am so I  settle for MY traditional mimosa. Overall I really do enjoy the brunch but I mostly like going here for a beautiful walk around the castle and of course the shops along the way.
Café København (Torvet 4 3400 Hillerød).

Fastelavn
Fastelavn

Much to my surprise the day continued with more Danish traditions. It was time to celebrate Fastelavn. This day is similar to Carenvale, only that these days its more of a day for the kids to dress up and bang on a barrel, similar to a piñata, that holds candy and a black cat. You must bang on this barrel, break it open, and the last person to knock down the last piece of the barrel, which is suppose to be the figure of the poor black cat, wins a prize and becomes the kattekonge (“king of cats”). The black cat is supposed to ward off evil.

Fastelavnsbolle - aka a danish
Fastelavnsbolle – aka a danish

And of course there is a pastry/bun associated with this holiday, as there is with most holidays in Denmark, the Fastelavnsbolle (Shrovetid buns). It’s a round sweet roll usually covered with icing and sometimes filled with whipped cream.

And last but not least there is a song to accompany the bun…

Danish                                        Fastelavn er mit navn,
boller vil jeg have.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.
Boller op, boller ned
boller i min mave.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.
English translation:                             Shrovetide is my name,
buns I want.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.
Buns up, buns down
buns in my tummy.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.

Bottom line, don’t mess with the Danes and their buns (or sweets :)).

Til next time mine venner (my friends)!

It’s all about the “Hygge”

I’ve decided my first post should be dedicated to “hygge” in Denmark. Friends and family have many questions about Denmark, which I can never really give a response that does it justice because I always turn to my biggest quam with this country… the winter. I am well aware I should not complain because compared to the US and their East Coast weather this year it probably feels like spring here, although my first winter didn’t but we’ll cover that some other time. Even so, I feel as a Californian, I still have a right to get tired of the short winter days and low, gray skies. Besides that and the difficult language Denmark is a very charming, “hygge” country. What in the world is “hygge” you might ask? Well, the Wikipedia definition says, “one of the fundamental aspects of Danish culture is “hygge”, a concept closely related to “coziness”: relaxing with good friends or loved ones, often while enjoying good food and something to drink or creating a more friendly atmosphere by lighting a few candles, Christmas time, when loved ones sit close together on a cold rainy night, is a true moment of hygge, as is grilling a pølse (Danish sausage) and drinking a beer on a long summer evening.”

As stated above, in Wikipedia’s definition of the word, it is a huge part of the culture.  For clarification purposes Hyggelig is the adjective for hygge. This word is used to describe everything from homes, bars, snow, rain, sun, dinner, candlelight, the long spring days, and the list goes on. Anyone who has visited Denmark or has spent an extended period of time here is familiar with this word. Its part of every day life. Things AND people are “hygge”. For example, you enter a cozy restaurant, its “hyggelig” . If you go visit a friend at their home, its “hyggelig ”.  A drink on a sunny afternoon along Nyhavn is “hyggelig”. Candles at dinner or while watching TV are “hyggelig ”.  Walking through a blustering wind storm can be “hyggelig ”.  It really is amazing how the Danes can turn even a gloomy situation into a “hyggelig” one. For that, I must give them credit. Maybe this is one of the reasons they are known to be the happiest people in the world.

Now that you understand the meaning of Denmarks most used word, I’d like to share a few of my favorite “hyggelig” places in Copenhagen with you.

Mother
Høkerboderne 9, 1712 København

Now one might say I am picky when it comes to Italian food. Well I feel that I have every right to be, being raised in an Italian family where my Nonnas cooked amazing Italian meals for the family every Sunday followed by my mother and aunts doing this on a daily basis. So yes I have set my standards high. When you walk into Mother not only do you get the aroma of the dough rising, the pizza in the wood oven, and the antipasti platters filled with cheeses, salumis and bruschetta (pronounced bru-sketa), passing you by but you also get a feeling that you are in the restaurant of true Italians. The majority of the staff in the kitchen, which is an open area right behind the counter as you enter, are speaking loudly in Italian, and this makes me feel at home.  Why? Simply because I come from a loud Italian family. The pizza is quite amazing. With the doughy sourdough crust and the tomatoes tasting like they’ve come straight off the vine, you can just taste the freshness in the ingredients.  They also offer a brunch, which makes me smile every time. This is a perfect way to try a variety of their pizzas as they are continually come straight out of the wood oven onto the buffet brunch table, piping hot. It’s also followed by sides of pastas,  salumis, cheeses and traditional ‘old’ Italian dishes that I have only seen my dad make. For example,  Pane Cotto (cooked bread). This is a dish with dry chunks of Italian, French or baguette bread, sautéed in olive oil, garlic and fresh zucchini.  Every time he makes this dish its followed by him saying in our family’s Italian dialect, “This is a poor mans meal. It’s what we ate when we had nothing in Verbicaro”. For those of you who don’t know Verbicaro, it’s a little picturesque, charming, undiscovered town in Calabria, where my parents grew up and my cousins and I were fortunate enough to spend summers there with our grandparents. More of those stories to come later! With that said, Mother is a casual and modern spot in Copenhagen that brings me back to my Italian roots every time. Its good quality food, great service and you’re guaranteed to have a “hyggelig” time.

Mother Pizza


Salon 39

Vodroffsvej 39, 1900 Frederiksberg

If you are a whiskey and rye connoisseur this is your place. Unfortunately that’s not me, but I have been known to enjoy a fresh cocktail.  At Salon 39 the bartenders use quality ingredients, all of their juices are freshly squeezed and you can see the passion within them while making your cocktail. This always makes me appreciate drinks and food so much more. Speaking of food, it’s another good reason to come here. I never really thought I could write about a cheeseburger but this one is worth taking the time for. The 39 House Cheeseburger has so much flavor and deliciousness to it that I want to go back there as I think about it. From the bun with a slight crisp around the edges to the fresh beef burger topped with their smoked mayo makes for a delicious burger. If you are meat eater you will also appreciate their Bistecca Fiorentina, all 900 grams of it. Made to share you will definitely get your fill of protein. I can’t speak for this myself as I have never had it but Daniel and friends have enjoyed it and they seemed pretty content after their 450 grams each. Last but not least this place is the perfect description of “hygge”. When you walk in you first see the bar. It looks like a small venue but the further back you go the more tables there are although the places books up quickly. Walk-ins for dinner are rarely able to be accommodated so its best to make a reservation.  If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the bar you can enjoy the view of the wall filled with whiskeys, while the bartenders are happily making the most interesting of cocktails and listening to jazz, soul and blues tunes spinning on the record player.  It’s definitely a place to visit if you’re in town or planning a trip to Copenhagen and looking for a “hygge” atmosphere.

Salon 39

K-Bar
Ved Stranden 20, 1061 København K

K-Bar exudes the “hygge”!  It’s small and quaint with limited seating but it’s the kind of place you go to when you just want to catch up with a friend or that someone special. K-Bar offers cocktails, bubbles, wines, mocktails, and a variety of over a dozen martinis. If your drink of choice isn’t on the menu, just ask.  It’s definitely worth a visit.

K-Bar K-Bar

As I said these are only a few of my favorite places in Copenhagen. Stay tuned for more!

Tak og har en HYGGELIG dag 🙂
(Thanks and have a HYGGELIG day)

Welcome!

Nyhavn, København

Hello! Welcome to my blog!

I am here to share my experiences as an American girl, with Italian roots, living in Denmark and all of my adventures that come along with it. This blog is named after some of my favorite things in life. Love and Life, describes why I moved to Denmark. I took a chance at love and moved across the world for it. Traveling and food, two of my passions, I equally enjoy. I love discovering new foods and places to eat as much as I love to travel, learn about different cultures and see new places. So I’ve decided to share this with you. Whether you have some travel plans in your near future and would like some ideas, or you’re just interested in my travels and eats, I would love for you to join me in my adventures.

Thanks for stopping by!

a blog about an American girl living in Denmark and my favorite things in life… love, living, traveling and eating. join me on my adventures.

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