A Goodbye to Malta’s Azure Window

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We visited Malta in the summer of 2014, it was the summer of our wedding and honeymoon and the archipelago of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea was the first stop on our 5-week trip.

We had heard that Malta was not only beautiful but also that it has a lot to see and do. There’s the old historic sites, fortresses and grand cathedrals, the capital Valletta, beautiful beaches, diving, and even a ‘blue grotto’. The Maltese culture is it’s own and it’s cuisine is delicious. I especially enjoyed trying Maltese style pizza, rabbit pasta and fresh baked pies.

On the island called ‘Gozo’, one of 21 that make up the Maltese archipelago, Malta’s Iconic Azure Window stood. I didn’t know what to expect when my co-pilot said we were going to see something called the ‘Azure window’. It was recommended to us by some friends who used to live in Malta and some of their friends, one of which was from Gozo.

I remember when we arrived by bus and seeing how huge it was. It was beautiful.
I was in awe at how gorgeous a place this was, with the crashing waves against the cliffs and the window.

You could even go up on top of it, which we did. We were up so high and I remember seeing cracks in the top.

My co-pilot and I at the top of the Azure window. What a spectacular view!

 

I was saddened to learn about the collapse of the Azure window this week. A unique and beautiful rock formation crafted by the ocean was lost. Things like that don’t last forever so I’m glad we were able to visit.

Malta’s gorgeous Azure Window

There was one restaurant, a pizza place where we ordered takeaway veggie pizza. We took the pizza to go and sat and ate it at the bus stop, just in case.

That was one of the most memorable parts of our trip to Gozo and to Malta. It’s my profile photo because it deserves to be. We have seen a few other similar windows around Euripe, but Malta’s really stood out as something special.

Sitting back and enjoying the view.

The next time you are visiting something like the Azure window just remind yourself to enjoy it. After you are done snapping your photos, put your camera down and just really enjoy it with your eyes. Who knows, maybe one day what you were looking at will vanish…just as the beautiful Azure window did.

Feel like a real treat? How about a Cake Buffet!

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My co-pilot mentioned a Cake lunch buffet to me awhile ago. I was always curious about it but felt like I needed to save it for a real treat. When I was pregnant, I decided I would wait until after the baby was born as didn’t want to have too much sugar. I finally tried this so-called “Cake Buffet” when the baby was almost 2 months old 🙂

So it’s really a soup and cake buffet (soppa och tårta buffé) but unlike other soup buffets in the city, there is only 1 type of soup available. The cakes are the real star, with about 5 different ones on offer, and all pretty delicious.

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The cakes that are in the buffet typically vary on what’s available. I’ve only been to cake buffet twice in my life and I remember trying 1 really good passion fruit cake and another delicious chocolate one. But the next visit they had different cakes, and I still found something I liked.

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Where is this amazing cake buffet lunch?

At  several Steinbrenner & Nyberg locations in Göteborg.

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Steinbrenner & Nyberg – this cafe/bakery has a few locations in the city but only a few actually offer Cake buffet. The ones I know of are the bigger cafe near Centralstation, the Lindholmen location and the Steinbrenner & Nyberg in Saluhallen (The Market Hall).
They do have other Dagenslunch items available too, but if you want cake it’s extra.
The Soppa och tårta includes different crackers, bread, butter and cheese, and coffee.
For more info check out their website

So the next time you want to Treat yourself, why not All-You-Can-Eat Cake?

Happy Eating!

Thursday Only Means One Thing…

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…Pea soup and pancakes!

During the colder and darker seasons of Fall and Winter, when it’s Thursday, the lunch option (Dagenslunch) in Sweden includes Pea soup and Pancakes (ärtsoppa och pannkakor)!! This comes from an old Military tradition of eating both the soup and the pancakes.

Most of the time the pea soup is made from yellow peas and includes pieces of pork and ham. At some restaurants and even the grocery store, you can get vegetarian pea soup. If you get it at the grocery store, it will come in a tube shape like many other food items in the grocery store.

I’m not really a fan of the pea soup but I do enjoy the pancakes! Just a dollop of whip cream and some raspberry jam and you have yourself a tasty treat 🙂
20170216_123836Pancakes and coffee make a great combination!

Dagenslunch or ‘Today’s lunch’ usually has 3 options, a meat, a fish dish and a vegetarian dish. Lunch at most places in Sweden, includes salad and coffee and cookies (dessert). When it’s Thursday, the dessert is replaced by pancakes!

Note: Swedish or European style pancakes are thin like a crepe but doughy unlike the thick American kind.

Instead of topping with butter and maple syrup, these pancakes are topped with whip cream and some kind of jam. Strawberry and Raspberry are popular choices.

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When it comes to All-U-Can-Eat, ‘serve yourself’ pancakes, it’s not unusual for people to skip right to dessert!

20170126_125633Happy Thursday and enjoy your pea soup and pancakes today!

Weekend in Glorious Rome

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We met some family for a long weekend in Rome recently and although short, it was filled with some good eats and visits to all of our favorite spots!

Having visited Rome twice before, we had already seen most of the famous tourist sights. We were there mainly to spend time with family and show them what makes Rome so amazing. Whenever we visit a city, one of our favorite activities is to walk and explore. When we say ‘walk’ we mean walk all day haha.. Sometimes we actually tire out whoever we are with 😉

We got lucky with the whether that weekend as the sunshine kept us company for most of the weekend, except for a bit of rain that didn’t last very long.

What makes Rome so special and why it’s one of my favorite cities to visit? Rome has so much to offer. It’s not just the history, the museums, the squares or the food. It’s all of those things together. One can easily spend days just walking around to different neighbourhoods and there is always new things to see (and eat) when you come back for a visit.

Here are some of my favorite places in Rome:

Good Eats!

Giolitti
Offering some really delicious and inexpensive Gelato.
How can one say ‘No’ to the whip cream on top?
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Walnut, Dark Chocolate with a dollop of whip cream.

Pizzeria Ai Marmi
Located in the Trastevere neighbourhood, it is well worth the visit. It was full right when it opened with mostly locals. The Napoletana pizza is cheesy and salty and has to be my favorite. In addition to the pizza they offer other Roman/Italian snacks like Fried Zuchinni flowers, and Arancini (rice balls).

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Dolce Maniera
We stumbled upon this bakery on our first trip to Rome. It’s open 24 hours and popular at all times. They offer a multitude of desserts and snacks. Be sure to try their Tiramisu which they give you a generous portion.

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Nice views
The top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome offers an amazing view of the Vatican and the city.You can stop along the way up at a cafe to take a break and take in the sight of the immense city below you.

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Roman Forum
Included with the Coloseum ticket, there’s a great view spot of the Roman Forum.

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“Typewriter building”
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (locals compare it to a wedding cake or Victorian typewriter)
It does cost extra to take the elevator higher, but you can still get a nice view in the ‘free’ area.

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Remember, when in Rome… 

Don’t forget to enjoy an Italian coffee at one of the cafes and people watch. Take it easy and walk around. You may be surprised by the beautiful square you find after walking down a random street. Walk into any random church and you’ll be surprised by how beautiful it is on the inside! And as in all countries you travel to, it helps to try to learn a few words in the local language, the locals will appreciate it:)

Happy Travels!

 

A Visit to the Beautiful Danish Capital

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The Danish capital overlooking the Øresund strait and only a few minutes from Sweden across the bridge, Copenhagen is a great weekend gateway! Hans Christian Andersen, who “wrote a couple of fairy tales”, must have truly been inspired by the beautiful city of Copenhagen with it’s beautiful harbor, viewspots, and castles.

It’s a lot more international than the other capitals and the cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Traditional architecture blends with the modern, the pastries are divine and it’s a city full of character, colorful houses and unique areas like Christiana new town.

Copenhagen is my favorite Scandinavian Capital and although I’ve been a few times before, there is always more to discover and our recent Valentine’s weekend trip was wonderful!!

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Woke up to a little snow sprinkled over the city. 

We walked along the waterfront to the palace and the marble church where all the tourists were checking out the changing of the guards.

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Perfect guard formation at the Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish Royal Family.

There are a couple boat tours you can choose from at Nyhavn, but we went with the one that was only 40 Danish Kroner for a 45 min ride around the canal. We were surprised that the tour is still running in winter but there is a covered area. Although, I don’t recommend sitting in the covered area if you want to take some photos as the cover seems to obscure the view. The tour was in English and Danish.

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You can choose to sit in the covered area of the canal tour boat or in the back. It is a bit chilly sitting outdoors so make sure you are well covered.

I always look forward to a visit to Denmark for the delicious pastries that don’t have cardamom 😉 Danishes as they are known in North America were brought to Denmark by the Austrians (Weinerbrod) but became a Danish specialty and boy are they good!
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There were raspberry and apple pastries with the raspberry one being sweeter. I liked the apple pastry best.

20160213_163321…and of course the chocolate pastry found at various bakeries around the city were heavenly. Pair it with a coffee and you have the ultimate coffee break snack (or “Fika” in Sweden)

Hungry for lunch, we tried one of the Hotel recommended restaurants close to Nyhavn and the hotel, for an open faced sandwich or Danish Smørrebrød. Believe it or not, there is a slice of rye bread under all that delicious shrimp and egg!

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This brisket sandwich included some horse radish butter for a little extra kick.

Our favorite viewspot in the city has to be from Church of Our Savior steeple but this was my first time up the Round Tower (or RundeTaarn in Danish) so that was pretty cool!

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One guy was walking round and round with his selfie stick in the air lol

There is a little doorway that leads into the centre of the tower. That can be scary if you think that only the glass you are standing on is stopping you from dropping down the tower.

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When we moved to Sweden, our very first trip in Europe was to Copenhagen. After that, I realized how easy it was to get out of town and explore a new city or country and we have been traveling since 😉 Our first visit to Copenhagen was in April and we were lucky to get some beautiful Spring weather complete with blue skies and sunshine. Check my blog post on our Easter trip to Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Beautiful old stone warehouse converted into a hotel, in a great location
right next to the waterfront and near Nyhavn! We had a nice loft suite here.
The Admiral Hotel on Tripadvisor

Cafe Fremtiden
For some delicious Danish Smørrebrød.
website

Lagkagehuset
Stop at this cafe for some delicious pastries and bread.
website

Holms bager
There’s a nice location on the walking street and it
was nice to tuck in here to warm up and take a break from the shopping
and exploring
Bakery’s FB page

Thanks for reading!

How Swedes Celebrate Fat Tuesday

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It’s that time of year again, when the Swedes celebrate Fettisdagen (The Fat Tuesday) or should I say, when Swedes stuff their faces with whip cream buns called ‘Semla’! They always make sure to have a bunch of Semla at work on Fat Tuesday and then everyone tries hard not to fall asleep right after Hahaha..

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“Celebrate Fat Tuesday with us! Order already now!” Beautiful window displays of Semlor all over the city!

Semla or Semlor (plural) are available at one of the many bakeries or konditori around town, at grocery store where they are usually sold in packages of two or even at the
7-Eleven, which has some really nice desserts btw. Nothing like the 7-Elevens back home.

My first couple of years in Sweden, I always made sure to have one (or 2)… but I have since learned my lesson. Those buns can be quite filling!

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They come in different sizes from mini to huge and they are all pretty delicious (and fatty lol)

Aside from the delicious whip cream, semla also have some vanilla and almond paste. The bun itself, of course, uses the spice, cardamom. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Swedish pastries…most of them use cardamom..which I and a few other expats decided we aren’t so fond of , now that we’ve realized how much Swedes like it in everything 😉

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“Cream with love” Coffee and Semla only 30sek (which is about $4.50)

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An evening view of the Göteborg canal on Fettisdagen

Happy Eating!
(Hope you enjoyed Fat Tuesday and celebrated with whatever food your heart desired!)

Weekend Getaway to the Scottish Capital

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With a medieval old town, the Edinburgh castle, spooky history, delicious food and even an extinct volcano within walking distance of the city, this hilly Scottish capital has a lot to offer the weekend visitor and we took in as much as we could on our weekend getaway.

We’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh, Scotland after we heard about the low-cost and short flight between Gothenburg and Edinburgh with Ryanair. Just hop on a plane and under two hours you can find yourself in Scotland!

Being our first time in Scotland and we had to try the Scottish cuisine. Haggis, a traditional Scottish dish is made with Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver and encased in the stomach. It may not sound so appetizing but it was delicious. We also tried black pudding which I mostly ate with my ‘Full breakfast’.

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My first Haggis!

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Full breakfast w/ black pudding, beans, sausage, bacon, toast and a fried egg

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Black pudding stovie with butternut squash, and some biscuits on the side that we have only tried in Scotland.

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A quick fish & chips bite before the Ghost tour

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Pre-dinner beers, cheers! 

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Delicious scones, and so many flavors at Mimi’s cafe

The Edinburgh Restaurant Festival was going on the weekend we were in town, so we treated ourselves to several set dinners around the city.

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Dinner at Hadrian’s

The Edinburgh Street Feastival was also on at St.Andrew’s square. Where you could try some food from different restaurants participating in the Restaurant festival.

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“Wee taste of Scotland” Haggis from The Rosehip

20151018_140604Whisky tasting at the Feastival

We did a few tours during our weekend including a free walking tour with our hostel, a free castle tour (not including the ticket to the castle but at certain times, you can join a free 30min tour around the castle grounds) and an evening ghost tour!

It’s always a good idea to learn a bit about the city and it’s history from the walking tours. It’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with the various areas of the city.

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The free 30min Edinburgh Castle tour gives you some history of the castle and gives you an overview of the museums on the castle grounds. Our tour guide told us that the castle is not the fairy tale kind but more of fortress that is still being used today as a base for the military. After the tour we visited the gift shop which was doing free whiskey tastings that day that we gladly partook in.

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The historic Edinburgh castle on castle rock

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Cool view of the old historic castle fortress with modern buildings in the foreground

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The view of Arthur’s Seat from the castle

The ghost tour didn’t include going underground tunnels but instead took us through some of the creepy alleys and streets, ending at a cemetery. A cemetery during the day is already creepy but at night is even creepier. I’m glad we had such a big tour group with us. The ghost stories on the tour were pretty interesting, however the tour itself wasn’t too scary except when the guide would hide and jump out at people. Hahaha..

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During the walking tour with our hostel, we walked up Calton hill which offers brilliant views of the city and Arthur’s seat. Apparently, Calton Hill was also where witches used to congregate at night.

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Calton hill and some monuments at the top
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Hiking up Arthur’s seat or even the hill just in front is a must. It was a short 15 min walk from where we stayed, near the Edinburgh Castle. The hike up wasn’t too difficult and takes about 45min..might be a little longer depending on how many times you stop for photos along the way 🙂

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Beautiful lake along the way with a bunch of swans!

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We hiked up just before sunset and caught an incredible view of the city.

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A stroll along the river Leith which passes through Dean’s village was another nice Sunday activity

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This area seemed more for the locals and we even found a random farmers markets with delicious eats like these delicious little apple tarts which provided us with a nice snack on our walk.

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Leith is a nice area for bars as well. We went there after the walk up Arthur’s seat and had a well deserved dinner at a local bar, Roseleaf.

The National Scottish Gallery is free to visit the permanent exhibitions (including work from Scottish artists) and we spent a little bit of time there.



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Autumn is a beautiful season to visit the historic city. Being October, we thought it was low season, but our hostel was surprisingly full. It also seemed like there were many tour groups around. We also really lucked out with the weather, it only drizzled once late at night after dinner but otherwise it was sunny or cloudy and dry.

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With all the delicious Scottish food, walking tours, and exploring on our own, we left with full bellies and exercise soreness from all the walking and the hike up Arthur’s seat. We had a lovely, long weekend in Edinburgh and really enjoyed our first visit to Scotland!

Cheers!

Restaurants

Breakfast
Edinburgh Larder

Snax cafe
website
For delicious Haggis rolls

The Beer Kitchen by Innis & Gunn
81-83 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9AW
website

Hadrian’s Brasserie
1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH22
website

Roseleaf Bar Cafe in Leith
23/24 Sandport Pl, Edinburgh EH6 6EW
website