When in Vancouver

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin on what a wonderful spring break I was lucky enough to have this year. Me and several of my amazing friends took a flight up to British Columbia for the week and immersed ourselves in all of Canada’s beauty. I was lavishly spoiled by all of Vancouver’s food and find myself craving all of its goodness now that I am back in The States (What! I even call it “The States” now). We found ourselves stuck on a college budget and restricted to some of the more touristy activities in the Vancouver area but fortunately we were able to get away to the more remote areas as well.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Although I really did enjoy Capilano Suspension Bridge, I felt it lacked the adventure rigor that I tend to seek. Besides that, I highly recommend it for those who would love to walk along a bridge 230 feet above a rushing river, because it was truly a gorgeous sight. (This is more on the touristy side, so if you’re looking for a complete immersion in nature this may not be your thing.)

Stawamus Chief
View at the top

These two photos above are of our nature excursion to Stawamus Chief in Squamish, BC. This hike, quite often, left me breathless in both a tiring and beauty-admiring way. This route is definitely on the more intense side and the rain that accompanied it made it all the more challenging. I highly recommend this place if you’re in the Vancouver area, but if you’re not a very proficient hiker avoid it when the forecast is predicting rainy skies. An added bonus was the view that you get on the drive to Squamish. Honestly, this hour drive was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful ones I’ve been on. So, even if you’re not a hiker you can take this drive solely for the scenery.

Beautiful flowers at Granville Island
Tons of fresh produce at Granville Island

Lastly, Granville Island Public Market. If only I could bring this place back to Texas with me. I would be eating there every single day. Actually, it’s best it’s thousands of miles away so my bank account isn’t completely empty… BUT. I highly suggest stopping by herewith at least 2 hours to peruse all of the various vendors and foods. This was a bittersweet stop for me because it was one of the last places we saw before leaving Canada.

Here are some of the other places I suggest visiting if you’re in the Vancouver area:

  1. Stanley Park
  2. Gastown
  3. Victoria (About 4 hours away)
  4. St. Marks Summit
  5. Whistler

Canada may be thousands of miles away from me, but one thing is for certain- I’ll be back.


To Norway

About two years ago I returned from a trip to Norway. I went with my best friend to visit a foreign exchange student who we had both grown close to. This year, the same friend I stayed with is back in Houston. We don’t get to see each other often but when we do it’s a wonderful time of sharing all of our recent adventures. It almost feels like the years apart were merely months. It’s really encouraging to know that distance has little effect on true friendships.

Christmas in Norway

His return has me reminiscing on all of the grandeur that I witnessed while I was in Norway. We spent most of our time in the town of Hamar, which sits on Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa. We were here for Christmas so we got to witness their traditions and taste the multitude of foods and drinks that they have during that time. On Christmas Eve we attended church service with the family at the Hamar Cathedral near the heart of the city. The food was incredibly delicious. Some of the foods included were ribbe, pork ribs; pølse, a Norwegian sausage; Norwegian meatballs and gravy; mashed rutabaga, and lastly, my favorite part of the meal, desert consisting of their traditional Christmas desert, a rice porridge called riskrem. In addition to it tasting great the riskrem held a tradition of its own. It hid a single almond and whoever got it would receive a gift. Him and his family really showed us Americans a Norwegian Christmas that we would never forget!

We also made trips to some of the Norwegian staples. To ring in the New Year we went to Trysil and enjoyed the skiing there. A couple of days before we had to leave we traveled to Oslo, the capital of Norway, to see various landmarks-including Frogner Park and the Royal Palace. I loved Trysil and Oslo but the quaintness of Hamar was undoubtedly my favorite. I may be a little biased considering all of the great memories we made while there.

What Makes Norway Great

Norway is such an underrated travel spot in my opinion and it is the place I have most been aching to go back to. Luckily, seeing my Norwegian friend again has kick started plans for another trip to Norway. This time we’ll be seeing it free of snow! We’ll be making our way through as many parts of the country as we can reach because there is much more exploring to be done- including Trolltunga (If you don’t know what that is you have to look it up)! Although I probably won’t be able to make it all the way to the ledge for fear that my klutziness will kick in at the worst time.

Here are my top eight reasons Norway is the best:

  1. It boasts an enormous amount of untouched nature so basically anywhere you go is just flat out dreamy. There are so many activities and adventures to be had in Norway. When Norway comes to mind you probably initially think freaking cold. But, it actually was not as horrific as I expected (that’s coming from a Texan). Once the snow disappears everyone takes advantage of this and Norwegians get super into hiking come summertime. If you’re not into hiking think fjords, crystalline lakes, the Lofoten Islands, the northern lights and many many more natural goodies.
  2. The chocolate. Oh my goodness. I never expected their chocolate to be so incredible but I wish I had stocked up before I left because I have been craving its succulent goodness since I left a little over two years ago. If you ever get the chance to try Melkesjokolade, take it! And if you’d like, bring back a couple for me. Jk. Jk. Kind of.
  3. If you stay in a smaller town you really get the full-fledged European vibe. The people here really love to stay in touch with their roots, which I absolutely adored. For special occasions they’ll dress in traditional Norwegian garments, which I always found endearing.
  4. Because this place is seriously a fairytale. Frozen was based on Norway and hello? If seeing the inspiration for Arendelle doesn’t make you want to visit, nothing will. If you need more encouragement, they have reindeer so who knows; maybe you’ll spot your own Sven.
  5. The people. I have made some friendships with people who I truly miss and can’t wait to be reunited with. It’s crazy but simultaneously incredible knowing that there are people halfway across the world I am friends with. Everyone there is extremely friendly although a tad shy at first. It’s endearing and a little unexpected when coming from America. Not that Americans are unkind but Norwegians are on a whole different level. For example: I lost my Tory Burch purse containing my credit card and a good chunk of my money (I know. So I was a rookie back then) while I was in Trysil for New Years and it was all returned to me a couple days later. Seriously such a miracle at the time.
  6. There’s skiing!! … Obviously 🙂 . I’ve skied in 5 states and 3 countries so far and my family goes on a family trip to Colorado multi-annually. So, I am naturally really into skiing. Trysil’s slopes did not disappoint and is definitely a great resort for beginners and intermediates. Although, if you’re looking for more challenging terrain they have that as well. If you’re looking for a larger selection in expert skiing then Tromsø may be for you.
  7. It’s so environmentally friendly. This is a huge plus for me. The towns are structured to be relatively close-knit so that places are easily accessible by walking. Driving is actually a lot less commonplace because of the culture and prices. My Norwegian friend is always shocked that so many college students in the US have their own cars because of their huge price tags in Norway. I personally love that because of the reduced impact on the environment.
  8. They love their traditions. It is such a cool immersion but it’s good if you want to ease yourself into exploring new cultures. It holds similarities to America so it’s not too big of a culture shock as opposed to places like Japan or Turkey.

To Norway we go!

A White Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a little under a week ago, so please pardon a busy college student’s late post. Finals are coming up after all! I was lucky enough to get out of the stress of studying and into the freshly powdered mountains of Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe is an ethereal place and this is only magnified once winter comes around. I finally had the chance to make my way there this Thanksgiving to test out its skiing. Although I’ve skied in four different states and three different countries I have never had such an incredible view atop of the mountain. The allure of Heavenly Mountain’s skiing surely encompasses its great terrain but especially the backdrop of the crystalline lake was in view as we made our way down the slopes. I’ll never forget such a contrasting view of mountains and vast blue water. It surely was a place to remember that gave me a wonderful family thanksgiving with to never forget.

The food was just as stellar. A couple of my favorites were Kalani’s, a divine Hawaiian restaurant; Base Camp Pizza, which provided pizzas with a gourmet note; and Azul Latin Kitchen, which gave an appealing twist on Latin dishes.

I cannot wait to explore more ski towns this winter. Let me know if you have any favorites that I should check out!