What I Learned in Copenhagen

copenhagen

I’m lucky enough to have recently gotten back from a trip to Europe, which is not somewhere I go very often. And this time I went somewhere I’ve never been before – the title is a dead giveaway, but it’s Copenhagen. I fell in love with Copenhagen and Danish culture almost immediately. I had a feeling I would like it, but I really didn’t know what else to expect and there was an almost immediate sense of belonging. It’s a beautiful old city of history, fairy tales (the home of Hans Christian Andersen), bicycles, and cozy spots to hunker down with a hot cup of coffee.

Copenhagen has a very comfortable vibe, and it’s no doubt with a culture that created their own culture of cozy, called hygge. “Hygge is a feeling you cannot translate” said one of the postcards I saw in town, but it roughly translates to a feeling of warmth, coziness, and comfort wherever you go. Many people have written about the Danish phenomenon of hygge, and Hyggehouse.com writes, “Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.” This is an idea embraced by a culture that spends part of the year in almost total darkness, when the sun is only out for a few hours in the coldest parts of winter. Even living in the southern United States, Seasonal Affective Disorder has a hold on a number of people, causing a seasonal bout of depression. While the idea of hygge cannot fix this, it’s a healthy mental state to adopt that can help with not only winter blues, but any day of the year.

I’d gladly go back to Copenhagen any day. The air was chilly, but the attitude was warm, nurturing, and exciting. It’s a city where outdoor cafes provide blankets on their chairs and nearly every building has a bicycle rack outside. If that’s not enough, beautiful modern Scandinavian design is everywhere and mixes seamlessly with the ornate traditional architecture of the buildings. If you ever have a chance, stop over in Denmark and see what it’s all about.

Lighten Your [Travel] Load!

travel

I’m guessing your summer vacation planning is in full swing – I know mine is! The sun is out and the air is nice and hot already and the summer months are upon us. Once your plans are set, it’s time to start the packing. Whether you’re going a few hours away or across an ocean, consider these packing tips to help you lighten your load. Plus, when you do that, it makes more room for awesome souvenirs!

Things you really DON’T need to pack:

Much of anything valuable You may need to bring your computer and your phone, but otherwise keep the valuables to a minimum. Things, especially small things like jewelry, get lost, stolen, or left behind so easily when you’re on vacation. It may be best to leave those at home.

More than two books I understand, trust me. I’m quite the reader. Unless you have an extraordinarily long flight or trip (I did take more than two books to Taiwan, but they were all short…) you most likely won’t read more than two. I also recommend leaving the hardbacks behind.

More than two pairs of shoes The rule of two, again. Sandals and closed toe shoes. Or, casual and dress shoes. Or, active and lounging shoes. Fit your two to your trip!

 

Things you really DO need to pack:

Small bottles of things Don’t bring the full size, don’t even mess with TSA or you’ll regret it when you’re waiting around an airport and they’re poking through your things. Chances are, you’ll have to trash it and buy a new one if you pack the full size. Make sure all your bottles are TSA compliant and skip the hassle. If you’re not flying, travel size just saves some weight in your bag so either way it’s a winning idea.

Sleep Mask or Earplugs if you’re flying because sleeping really isn’t easy on a plane, so you may as well aid that as much as you can. And everyone needs their beauty sleep.

Hand sanitizer you never know what you’ll get into when you’re traveling!

Pre-Vacation Apartment Checklist

van

Summer break is here and it’s finally time to relax, kick back, and consider taking a trip somewhere! I love to travel and I usually try to squeeze in as many little trips each year as possible, even if they are just short overnight ones. With Gainesville being such a short distance from the Florida coast, it’s easy to make a weekend trip to the beach this summer. Or maybe you’re planning something more extended, like a trip overseas. Either way, it’s said that planning is really half the fun – picking where to go, buying new clothes, and planning what you’ll do on vacation. One of the most important parts of your preparation is making sure your apartment is ready to be unoccupied for the duration of your trip.

  • Close and lock all of your windows
  • Notify your landlord or property manager that you will be out of town and inform them of the dates
  • Turn your thermostat to an energy saving temperature while you’re away
  • Clean out your refrigerator
  • Take out the trash
  • Wash the dishes
  • Do laundry
  • Close the blinds or curtains
  • Unplug any electronics that could be damaged by a power surge
  • Don’t forget to lock the door!

One Last Summer Road Trip

It seems like the internet is already aflutter with talk of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and fall color palettes, but I would like to take a moment to appreciate the wonderful time of year that is the end of summer. It’s still here, by the way, in case you didn’t notice! There’s plenty of sunshine and long days to enjoy before the inevitable sets in and fall takes hold. With several weeks before school begins, there is time for one more fun-filled summer road trip.

(All distances based on Gainesville, FL)

Destination: St. Augustine    Distance: 75 Miles

The oldest European settlement in the continental US, St. Augustine is a charming combination of Old World and contemporary. See Spanish influence on architecture and even cuisine while exploring the streets of Old St. Augustine. For a dose of military history, visit the Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest fort in the United States. Don’t forget to spend a day at the beautiful National Park beaches, too!

Destination: Key West           Distance: 500 Miles

This is the Big Kahuna, but the drive alone is worth it. If you have the time, enjoy the amazing scenery along the A1A all the way out to Key West. Only 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is one of the famed places to grab a classic Cuban sandwich.   If you’re a literary fan, make a point to stop at the Ernest Hemingway house to see the museum there (as well as the 50-some “Hemingway” polydactyl cats which call the spot home). Again, don’t forget the beaches.

Destination: Black Bear Scenic Byway        Distance: 40 Miles (to either Palatka or Silver Springs)

Though it’s not a beach destination, exploring the lush terrain of the Black Bear Scenic Byway is a rugged adventure all on its own. If you’re outdoorsy, there are plenty of activities along the Byway: canoeing, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and hunting. If you’re an avid photographer, you’re liable to see any number of wild things to snap pictures of (maybe even a black bear).

For more road trip ideas, read:

Florida Road Trips that do no include Theme Parks

 6 Super Easy Florida Road Trips

 

 

Safe travels for this Spring Break

Spring Break is upon us and yes, the main objective is to take a load off, and have fun. For a week you can put all your worries aside, let your hair down and have a much-needed vacation. For those of you who will be sticking near home, have a delightful time, but for those of you who may be doing a bit of traveling, here are a few tips.

Remember to buy some strong, long lasting sunscreen.

Most people tend to spend a lot of time at the beach during Spring Break and some get a little more extreme and go on a road trip to Panama City, Miami, Key West, or even out of the country like Mexico or the Bahamas. Keep in mind that if you plan on being out in the sun for hours, you will be doing yourself a favor by applying sunblock a few times a day. Your skin will thank you.

Keep your passport in a safe place.

For those of you going out of the country, you will need your passport. Remember that your passport is a very important form of ID and losing it at the very least, will cause you nothing but headaches. Make sure to keep it in a safe place and away from strangers, so that nothing happens to it and you can return home safely after your trip.

Bring emergency money.

Whether you go to some kind of music festival, out-of- town beach party, or foreign resort, your objective is to have fun, but keep in mind that anything can happen and just in case you end up lost, hungry, or sick, you will probably need a little extra change to help you get somewhere safe.

Keeping these tips in mind, you will have a safe trip. But no matter what you do, you will be sure to have fun.