Waypoint Hanami

Best views in Tokyo, to experience the cherry trees bloom, and other fine things;

Chidorigafuchi – the moat outside the Imperial Palace

Chidorigafuchi

Hie Jinja – for the contrast of old and new, tall buildings in the background combined with traditional symbols, and in the midst of it… cherry blossom

Hie

Megurogawa

Meguro

Quench your thirst with a drink, or just take in the view…

I would like to give a few tips when it comes to saying Cheers. Here is my Top 6 drink list: 1. “Firecracker” at 208 Duecento otto in Hong Kong – a delicious blend of watermelon and Cayenne pepper. 2. The piña colada at the beach bar at the Hilton Barbados Resort. 3. XEX bar in Tokyo, because of the true lounge feeling and the views. 4. Ozone bar in Hong Kong. Again for the views – from the highest bar in the world, at 118th floor. 5. A Singapore Gin Sling at Raffles in Singapore. Yes, it’s perhaps a bit touristy, but indeed tasty. 6. Finally, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for A Traditional Pimms No.1

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Yummy waypoints

I just thought about delights for the palate, and simply felt like sharing these gems with you.

The first one I came to think about, is a place that I happened to come across while in St Petersburg, Russia. The Idiot is such a lovely place, that does not just provide excellent food, including a good selection of vegetarian dishes, but also a very cozy ambiance and nice staff.

Zus & Zo in Paramaribo, Suriname, deserves to be mentioned because of the tasty food they serve in the garden, in a very laid back atmosphere. The Palmentuin (Palm Garden) is close by, so it’s conveniently situated. I recommend the “Bang bang salade”. If one is just thirsty, there is another place in Paramaribo, called the Power Smoothie. Very tasty!

Where did I find fantastic vegetarian food in Myanmar? Well, there is a place in Bagan, where it’s easy to lose sense of time because of the friendly people working there, combined with amazing food. It’s the perfect place to relax after a day biking around the thousands of temples in Old Bagan. Be Kind to Animals the Moon, is the somewhat unusual name of this restaurant. Yummy tamarind candy treats.

One waypoint that deserves to be mentioned separately, is the lovely gem Pädaste Manor, on Muhu Island, in Estonia. I went there for a weekend to go horseback riding together with my niece, and didn’t know what to expect. We ended up in a little fairy tale of our own. The stunning nature that surrounds Pädaste, provided the perfect setting for a horseback ride. The big surprise, was the restaurant that served first class food. Magical!

Next one up, is the Double Musky Inn, Girdwood, Alaska. Cajun food was new to me, so I cannot say that I can compare this with anything else that I have tried before. However, what I can say, is that they had a halibut on the menu that tasted like heaven.

Ice cream is my weakness. So, when I heard about Riccardo’s Ice cream, outside Halmstad in Sweden, I became very happy. This is The place to go to if one wants to have true Italian ice cream in the south of Sweden! What can I say, it’s simply Yummy! So, since I’m mentioning Sweden, I may just as well continue with two other Swedish gems. One is “Toppstugan” in Grönklitt, outside Orsa, Dalarna. It’s  next to ski slopes, and Orsa Predator Park. This is where one can have Fish & Chips with a view. If one prefers gourmet food, I suggest Storhogna further north. So much could be said about this gem in the Swedish Mountains. There is a range of different activities, a spa with a nice sauna, good cross-country trails, and also a restaurant that serves food with locally produced ingredients.

This list would not be complete without mentioning Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill, London. To fully comprehend what the atmophere is like, I think that one has to experience it firsthand.

Last, but not least, I have to mention one of my favourite spots in Tokyo, Japan. Teinun Thai ramen serves one of the best tom yum ramen dishes I have ever tasted. It’s as simple as that.

Top ski waypoints

As any skier knows, the experience you may have on any slope is very personal, weather dependent, and has a lot to do with timing and preferences. In spite of that, I will make a few lists, if nothing else to make you curious and share some examples of what is available out there. Please note, that my bucket list is far from complete!

Here is my first list, the list of “Good snow days” – from perfect champagne powder to that little extra something that makes you feel all warm inside just from the memory of that special ski waypoint (with links to those I unfortunately cannot show with my own pictures below):

  1. Valle Nevado, Chile – This is the place where I experienced one of the best days skiing I’ve ever had. Every skier deserves that powder experience at least once.
  2. Alyeska, the U.S. – the powder, the views, the…
  3. Zao onsen, Japan – once again, for the powder, and for the cool feeling of skiing among the snow covered trees looking like big snow monsters
  4. Beldersoy, Uzbekistan – not because of the equipments available (giggles), but because of the perfect powder combined with the outstanding hospitality, and the fact that I had the funniest conversation about Ingmar Stenmark with one of the employees. (The last part of that conversation; “So, it seems you know that I’m from Sweden!?” “Ha ha ha, everybody, this whole mountain, knows that you are from Sweden!”)
  5. Apussuit, Greenland – surreal place, where the landscape is simply stunning. Hard to explain the feeling when you ski from the top of a glacier towards the ocean. If you’re lucky the Northern Lights accompany you at night.
  6. Zermatt, Switzerland – just one of those days.
  7. Levi, Finland – really Cold, but also really nice! Reindeers next to the slopes too.
  8. Pas de la Casa, Andorra – unexpectedly good conditions.
  9. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – new snow over the night, sunshine, and non-stop skiing all day long. Not to mention the best gnocchi alla gorgonzola I’ve ever had!
  10. Campitello, Italy – an exciting day in Sella Ronda, including Lagazuoi’s Hidden valley with a horse transfer at the end.

Playlist for some waypoints

I thought to myself the other day, isn’t it funny how music can forever become connected to a certain place! Going through some of the songs that got stuck in my head, I noticed how quite a few were also connected to funny stories, not a few in connection with serpentine roads…

This is my playlist for some of the waypoints (and the stories behind it all):

  1. “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel
  2. “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz
  3. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
  4. “Popcorn” by Gershon Kingsley
  5. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  6. “Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5
  7. “I Feel Good” by James Brown
  8. “Illit minillutit” by Stinne Jacobsen
  9. “Tu Quieres Volver” by Gipsy Kings
  1. In 1995 I went to Italy together with my dear friend, Joanna, and as it were I ended up in hospital – though not because of a skiing accident, but because I suffered from pulmonary embolism. I was sent to two different hospitals and was taken care of in an excellent way. During one of the ambulance rides (on winding roads at high speed) a very cute guy held my hand and sang the song “Cecilia” to me. I was in great pain, so it was a great distraction even if also somewhat surreal.
  2. Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly away” was the background music played by the taxi driver, Rocky, who brought us into the Moroccan desert, when Joanna and I went on a walkabout which involved everything from sleeping in the Saharan desert next to a camel to skiing in Oukaimeden at an altitude of 3200 metres (again reached on winding roads at high speed).
  3. “Unforgettable” is my favourite request at any Japanese karaoke bar.
  4. “Popcorn”: to me, this song means revisiting my childhood winter holidays in Norway. In order to reach Dalseter, one has to drive on winding roads.
  5. “Happy” was the preferred choice of song for the serpentine roads of Liguria when on holiday in Cinque Terre together with my boyfriend, Michael.
  6. During my stay in China, to work as a volunteer with pandas, I went with some friends into the city of Ya’an. I think that we were all in a state of delight mingled with terror when the driver who took us there seemed to think he was in some kind of race against time. He was equally intent on managing the sharp curves as handling the back scratcher.
  7. In Nikko, Japan, in company with fellow exchange students, I remember waking up and feeling in a very good mood. So, I couldn’t help but singing James Brown’s “I feel good” out loud – waking up the others to a not so fantastically good mood because of it.
  8. Stinne Jacobsen’s song in Greenlandic is simply the perfect match to the fantastic holiday I had in Apussuit Adventure Camp – a story well worth telling separately…
  9. I end this playlist with Gipsy Kings just because it reminds me of my 30th birthday, celebrated in Tokyo, together with great friends. Thanks Marleen, Mia, Jon and Örjan!

Would I do it again?

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If I were to do certain trips all over again, what would my perfect world tour look like? Here’s one way it could be done:
I would start with one of my absolute favourites; Antarctica. Why? Because the impressions that were left with me from that journey , the new friendships that were made ​​and the incomparably beautiful nature and wildlife, made me humble.

After the snowy continent, my journey would continue like this: India  – Bhutan – Myanmar – Kyrgyzstan  – Mongolia – Japan – Papua New Guinea – Australia – Chile – Argentina – Guyana – Barbados – Cuba – Canada – Ireland – South Africa – Greece – Italy – Switzerland – Belgium – and finally, back home, to Sweden. (Of course, there are so many optional routes that could be taken, and in order for me to experience new exciting places, I would have to do a completely different walkabout.) Well, here are some pictures from those places mentioned above, that left me in awe.
Oh, and the obvious answer to the question above (Would I do it again?) is, Yes!