Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kenya Backlog

My return home to Copenhagen caught even me by surprise, and somehow I'm stuck with the feeling that I didn't get to say my goodbyes. That I have unfinished business or something, or that I left a part of my home behind, which I guess really isn't as crazy as it sounds when you take into account that the apartment is still there with all our stuff in it, including my favorite piece of decor of all: Johan.

Blogging has always seemed to help me in this respect. By helping me process experiences and archive them both mentally and digitally. So, in an attempt to wrap my head around all things Kenya, here's a recap of a weekend-safari I went on with Johan and my BFF Maj, who came for a visit during my last week in Nairobi.

We stayed at the Sweetwaters Tented Camp in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy some 3 hours' drive from Nairobi. It sits right at the foothills of Mount Kenya, which looked every bit as surreal and breathtaking as it does in the photo of above. 

This was my safari team! Maj rode shot gun next to Johan, which was a wise decision, because she turned out to have an acute eye for wild life, spotting elephants way before anyone else.
Also, hanging out with Maj, you wind up doing a lot of things you sense you're really not supposed to do. Like urinating in a national park, say. 
The sanctuary is home to the big five, of which we got to see three - elephants, buffaloes and rhinos, whereas the lions and leopards behaved like the self-willed felines they are and stayed manifestly out of sight. But hey, who needs lions when you can sit and watch a big, beautiful elephant walk blissfully along the horizon - amirite? 

Same goes for this family of three white rhinos basking in the sun. I'd take a baby rhino over a lion any day :)

Here's Maj in an ad for her smart phone: "My life powered by Samsung Galaxy".  (Please note the elephant in the background, btw). 

Tough mudders!

A silver backed jackal. I think....Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong :)
3 adorable black rhino tushes. These gals are so big and massive it's quite humbling to be in their presence.

Here's Johan trying off his white-man-in-Africa-looking-into-the-distance pose. He looks deep, but really he's passing gas. (Now that's all you see, right?! Johan farting, I mean?)

Baboons are like the d-list celebrities of wildlife, and it's all because they're kind of small, come in large groups and find themselves unthreatened by extinction. Look at them. You can almost sense how they're all: "Screw them tourists and their big 5-frenzy. Let's just sit here with our iPads and turn our backs at every 4-wheel drive we see."

Here's my safari team with a bucket of ice for drinks and a plate of cookies because they were free. I also love this photo because I can tell Johan is trying really hard no to crack up! (More on that below...)

At night, so many animals came up to sip water from a watering hole right by the hotel. So there we were, sitting on the porch outside our tent as they all paraded by - elephants and their elephant babies, zebras and impalas. The wild hogs arrived too, took a sip and went "yo, can we get a little alcohol in this?" :)

Our tent! We pushed our beds together to form a double king sized bed so we could all watch a movie on my computer before falling asleep.

Morning coffee with an exotic bird. "Would you like toast", we asked. And then it lifted its wings into the air like a priest and said "Oh my god, toast is my favorite thing of all!"

And speaking of Johan suppressing laughter, here he is, at it again, in all likelihood because of something she said. 
"See, made him laugh"
"See, laughing hard"

The end :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Road Stars

After trolling through Kenya and South Africa for our last couple of mini holidays, Johan and I decided that a summer in Scandinavia was just what we needed. For months in advance we started scheming all the things we wanted to do, like going on a guided walking tour of our neighborhood, riding our bikes from Copenhagen up through Southern Sweden and eating gravlax at Stockholm's Saluhall.

BUT THEN! After months and weeks of anticipating all the things we wanted to do (which, by the way, research has shown to boost your happiness even more than your actual vacation), the weather gods threw a bunch of curveballs our way, rendering all of Scandinavia so damn hot we wound up doing only some 3% of all the stuff on our imaginary itineraries. Instead we stayed inside sipping too many Aperol Spritz'es while having the following Beckettian conversation on repeat:

Me: It's so hot
Him: I know...I can't believe how hot it is

THAT SAID, we did actually make it to Sweden. Not by bike but by air conditioned Volkswagen, and here are a few photos from the trip, which I would like to save and show my future grandchildren:

Here's Johan in front of a sign in the parking lot of a pull-up, which I think my family has stopped at every single time we've gone from Copenhagen to Stockholm (or thereabouts). It's funny, but once you approach this location, you always feel it's time to get out, stretch your legs, stock up on chocolate and ice cream and go pee.

On this trip, we went to McDonald's more often than I'd like to admit. But the thing I like about McDonald's in Sweden is that fact that they just take your order for a meatless burger like it's no big deal. In Denmark they're usually: "You want a burger without the meat? A burger...but no meat? Sorry, I need to call my manager...." 
Loved this sign. Wanted to bring it home and use it as a bed spread. Good work you, anonymous art director. I hope they pay you well anf give you a company car.

This was our first destination: My mom's country house. So cute :)

I kind of forgot to take pictures, which is silly, considering how picturesque everything is at her place. BUT, I did snap this photo of a cute little tree house, which my mom made. My mom is clever like that.

My grandmother was visiting too, so she, Johan and I took off on a mini-road trip to the city of Mariefred to eat lunch and check out a nice castle. Then I took this photo of Johan and my grandmother for their future company web page. I dig my grandma's relaxed CEO pose. Generally, I just dig her a lot :)

Then my grandmother took this photo of Johan and I. Love her even more! :)
Then we drove on to Strängnäs where most of my lovely family lives and my grandmother took us out for ice cream by the harbor. She's gonna hate me a little for posting this photo, but I just love it! Reminds me of one of those photos you would've kept back in the pre-digital camera days. "You'll have to excuse our faces, but look at that scenery!"

In the evening, Johan and I continued to Stockholm, where we stayed at my mother's peach colored city house....kidding! We stayed at her apartment - this is just a pretty little castle in the island of Djurgården.

One very specific thing we looked forward to doing in Stockholm was eating. Good food is my primary reason for traveling these days. It used to be visiting art museums but now I'm all about trying out restaurants. First stop was Ramen Ki-Mama. I'd also really recommend Beijing 8, if you're down for dumplings.
That said, we did stretch ourselves and go visit Artipelag - a newly built art hall slash cultural venue in Stockholm's archipelago. 
Everything was so Nordic and organically integrated into the surroundings it was almost too perfect.

They had a very dreary art exhibition, but I really liked this bit. It's furniture from the 1930s by Axel Einar Hjorth for a sportsstuga, a sports cabin or weekend cottage where one would retreat from city life to do sports and enjoy the outdoors. In fact, the entire place was kind of a modeled on a sportsstuga, I'd say.
The best part of Artipelag, we both agreed, was the location, right on the water overlooking the Stockholm Archipelago. If it weren't for that fact that our parking ticket was about to expire, we could have stayed on the sun-heated rock for hours. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer. In no particular order.

These days, Copenhagen is at its absolute warmest and most summerest of summer, Johan is home on vacation from Kenya, and at the cafes that line our street, guests linger long into the night allowing you to listen in on their chatter and cin cins as you doze off to sleep.

It's the kind of summer you don't want to end, in other words, and in this final week of vacation, I find myself not wanting to do much in an attempt to make time pass slower.

Anyway, in between work and enjoying all the perks of summer, my blogging mojo went AWOL. So here's an attempt at luring it back to business with a buck load of photos of food from above and other colorful, miscellaneous stuff :)

Johan came home for his 35th birthday, and this was the pretty table that awaited him at his mom's place - masterfully decorated by his 5-year old nephew.

I made a collage of a Fuji-bike. Johan used to have one in New York, which was eventually adopted by our super Al and within a few months it got stolen (i.e. sold for fast cash).

A bowl of woodland strawberries, which we handpicked at my mom's country house in Sweden. It felt very hedonistic to eat them by the spoonful considering how much sweat and fly-swatting that went into picking them in the woods.  

Elderflowers from a walk in our neighborhood.

And the juice I made from them :)

The courtyard in bloom.

Dinner by the canal in the evening sun.