Hej from Blique by Nobis Stockholm

The height of comfort

We reached Stockholm a few hours ago and for some reason, I am knackered. We dropped our luggage, walked around the block, and had lunch at Waan Thai. They offered a lunch deal and it was good enough to satiate our forever carving for Asian food anywhere we go.

Sarie and Jik decided to venture around, meanwhile, I walked back to the hotel. I needed some RR alone before getting ready to meet Jena for an early dinner in a few hours.

So here I am, not able to sleep, writing from the hotel lobby. This hotel, Blique by Nobis, is impressive. It’s beautiful and hip at the same time. And they are pretty affordable, I mean by the Scandinavian standard. 

Norwegian Brown Cheese Memoir

Hilsen fra Bergen!

Is it weird that even now — sitting here in the hotel lobby with these two girls, treating ourselves with a spread of Norway traditional breakfast, daring each other to eat weird coloured cheese and uncooked herring fish bits — I know that I will cherish this moment forever. It will be competing with Norway Fjords and eating whale sashimi as the highlight of my Norway trip.

I am blessed. May I never forget that.

Heidiland

One day in Switzerland I headed outside Zurich and went to Heidiland. Heidiland is a city based on the book Heidiland.

I was looking at the most picturesque drop in my life. I know I say that so very often, but really, I was. I wished my parents could see this; I wished Fafa and everyone I love could see this.

This time I traveled with a bunch of people and in the process, I got friendly with them.

Sergey is a power engineer from Russia. He is young but very mature. English is not our first language so translating it smoothly was difficult, but we somehow managed to converse. One thing that Sergey said that made me laugh out loud was when I shyly asked him whether he could take a pic of me on the backdrop of this.

His reply was “I thought you would never ask“. Smooth, Sergey!

I also met an Indian couple. Amit and Puspa.

They kept asking me why I was not married yet, why, oh why I eat beef, and many other questions. If you think their questions were annoying they actually were not. They are just so sweet and apparently concerned that I am traveling all by me in my 30s instead of getting married and maybe traveling with my husband. Well-intended, but on the other hand, they inspired me. 3 adult children and they left them to travel all around Europe.

That I want to be.

You know these kinda people, the ones you meet on the road are the ones who enrichen your life. And to share a life story with this background. Wow. Forming friendships with this background, it is definitely bound to happen. Which exactly what happened to Heidi and that kid. Please spend your day in Heidiland if you go to Zurich, Switzerland. Better yet, stay there and tell us all about it.

Update: Sergey has a blog now, I am in email contact with the Indian couple, and Nikki is my Facebook friend now.

Airbnb

I am curious about people’s homes. I often wonder what their life looks like from the inside of their home. Does their home represent their characters? And I get more intrigued when I travel to a new place; about the locals, their lifestyles, and day-to-day lives, including their homes.

This interest of other cultures’ homes started when I took a peek into the Parisian living quarters from the same street where our Eiffel Tower facing hotel was located. I wanted to see what a typical French home looks like, and I even planned to master the French language to befriend a French girl who would invite me to stay in her apartment with her friends or family, not unlike the girl in Lessons from Madame Chic. This elaborate, and what I thought of as brilliant, plan stopped when I found out French words have genders in the 4th week of French class.

Thankfully, Airbnb was founded, and a whole new world opened up for me.

I love to Airbnb when I travel. When we went to Europe last year, I managed to turn my cousins into AirBnB-ers. We did the Airbnb Europe edition by staying in nine different apartments, from Germany to Spain. It also satisfied my curiosity about French living, though it wasn’t in Paris. I stayed in a walk-up old apartment building in Nice. I continued staying in all sorts of strangers’ homes from Shanghai to Queenstown.

Airbnb somehow makes the travel experience feel more authentic for me.

Space Cake

Eating space brownies in Amsterdam has been on my wanderlust since 2011. It’s when, after visiting Amsterdam for the first time, I came back without trying and had been penalized for it by my friends, my friends of friends, my friends’ cats, my neighbors, and my exes. I have had enough of “How could you not try it!!” variations that I put weeds, only weeds, in my Amsterdam itinerary when I visited it again in 2014. My people were counting on me and I couldn’t let them down for the second time. In conclusion, I had to try the space brownies in Amsterdam because of peer pressure. I needed to fulfill the social expectations of myself, other than getting married and breeding.

I did my research. I knew these places are called “coffee shops” and they display the green white license sticker. I was ready! After lunch, we went through the red light area and spotted Baba, one of the best “coffee shop” in Amsterdam. I took a few seconds to compose myself (I didn’t want to behave like an annoying, shallow tourist who came to Amsterdam just to smoke weed; even though it was the exact truth) and went inside, with my backpack and camera dangling on my neck. I tried to read the menu nonchalantly; Espresso Macchiato. Wait, what is this place?! And then I saw it. The glorious space brownies.

We ordered two of it to be shared by four of us. The space brownies tasted like something I would have tried to bake and failed. It was hard, tasteless, but edible. The shop itself was nice and crowded on a Thursday afternoon. It was decorated with Hindu deities, including Lord Ganesha, which made me feel awkward on the first few minutes.

I finished my coffee, which I have ordered just to mask the main reason we came here (I made a lot of quick and stupid decisions that day), and stepped out into the cold winter afternoon. We walked, took some pictures, ate stroopwafels, and walked some more. During all time we felt nothing much, just a little happy buzz. I thought this was it and felt pretty disappointed. It was pretty similar to the time when I tried happy pizza in Cambodia. I could the same feeling after the second glass of wine. I began to regret paying 14 euros for two tasteless space brownies.

The evening got colder. We roamed around the museum quarter and stopped at the outdoor cafe for hot beverages. We sat down with our coffee and hot chocolate. I started to say something in English but stopped midway because I couldn’t continue my sentence. Then my cousin tried to say something but she kept forgetting her words. We found that hilarious.

Oh, so hilarious, that we laughed and laughed until we cried out of laughter.

And then we realized we were high! But too late! Can’t. Stop. Laughing. I was aware that people were watching us and that we looked extremely stupid, but for the love of Ganesha, I couldn’t stop laughing because anything and everything was so freaking funny! It was sort of an out of body experience. You knew you were high but you couldn’t control your feelings nor behave normally.

We then walked back to the train station to go to the Airport to catch our red-eye flight back to Jakarta. The whole walk was another new experience. I felt so light like I was a floating spirit and that I could go through any object. Of course, I didn’t try, I only ate half of the space brownies, I wasn’t that high.

We managed to reach the Airport and pass the immigration without any hiccup. Though, I’m sure the officer knew I was high as I was the only person in the sea of passengers who supported colorful AMSTERDAM beanie with no shame. My cousin told me that it was her first and last time trying space brownies. She didn’t like it because she had paranoia. As for me? Next time, I will bake the space brownies myself, if I need to!

Do you know that smoking weed is an illegal BUT unpunishable offense in Netherland?! Gave you tried space brownies before? How about happy pizza? Would you?

Kingdom Of Liechtenstein

Once upon a time, there was a tiny cat living with a not so tiny woman in a tiny bedroom. He spent his days happily with her. They read, played, and did house chores together. There were times he was left alone when she had to search for food for the both of them, and he didn’t mind because he knew she would always come back to him.

His favorite memories together were the times they spent on the road, exploring the world and taking pictures in front of weird looking buildings.

One day, the girl took him somewhere far away. It was the farthest he had ever been, farther than his birth place,Japan.

Not that he minded, if anything he was too excited. Except for that one time when he met the girl’s friend, who tried to kill him as instructed by the queen Jik. Gasp!! At the end, the murder attempt failed, and all was forgiven. To make up for that drama, the girl promised to take him to a nearby kingdom. Meow! That’s happy news, as he had been only to one kingdom before, Cambodia, and he loved it. One fine morning, as promised, the girl packed him in her backpack and went in search of the said kingdom.

They took a four-wheel cart, shared with a Russian (здравствуйте Sergey), an American, and an Indian couple. They greeted each other and started to cover every possible topic of small talk. Miaw couldn’t be bothered, he was too busy mesmerized by the beauty of their surroundings. The landscape and the greenery, it was something he had never experienced before. It was almost magical, fit for a kingdom. The Kingdom of Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein is surrounded by both Switzerland and Austria. The richest kingdom in the world, it’s also known for its wine and postage stamps.

On that day, Miaw also made a new friend, a moose named Moosey (is this the correct spelling Nikki?) Moosey is a sweet little thing who accompanied Nikki, a fellow globetrotter. Everyone was surprised when they decided to take pictures together. Well, Moosey seemed to be all ready from the beginning, but Miaw was an introvert type who usually doesn’t take pictures together with his peers, so he must really have been taken by Moosey. They posed together on the Liechtenstein castle miniature.

Looking at the castle from below, Miaw and Moosey had a discussion about how it would be to live inside it.

Miaw imagined what it would be like to be the King’s cat or Cat King or at least the kingdom’s mascot. His imagination didn’t last long: even though he kept getting murder threats and constantly being stuffed into the bag, in his heart he preferred to live with the weird girl. They always had a great time together, and he knew she would be lost without him. He told Moosey he wouldn’t have it any other way. If it got too lonely, he would ask the girl to buy real cats, but only if they could understand that he would be the king in the household.

Before they went back home, they each chose a souvenir. He chose another fridge magnet to add to travel fridgemagnet collection. The girl got the kingdom’s stamps. She also got her passport officially stamped. “This way my souvenir will last longer than yours” she told him. “Yeah, if only you didn’t accidentally wash it again like the last time, ” he replied back, but only in his mind.

That was it.

He had enough excitement for one day, so he went back inside her bag. And they lived happily ever after while plotting plans to visit another kingdom and maybe meet more Moosies on the road.

Grindelwald

We are staying in Grindelwald tonight. This wasn’t the original plan, it wasn’t in the itinerary. We were supposed to visit Jungfrau today for a day trip and go back to our Zurich airbnb. But the weather was not good and we didn’t get to see Jungfrau much, so Ji suggested that we book the last minute hotel at Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel in Grindelwald and redo our Jungfrau trip tomorrow.

He is not the type who insists on things, unlike me 🙂 so we decided to listen to him (this time) and fork extra euros ti stay in this dream-like town.

Grindelwald Switzerland
Grindelwald Switzerland

Hopefully it will all be worth it tomorrow. At he promised so.

Grüß Gott from Vienna

Grüß Gott is an Austrian way to greet each other.

Even though I couldn’t pronounce at all, I thought it’s a cool way to inform you that by the time you read this, I will be in Vienna, Austria.

Whee!!

When I studied geography in the seventh standard, I learned about Austria (that it’s not the same as Australia) and its capital city.

My main reason to visit Vienna? The culture; Well, no, that’s a lie. My real reason is to eat the famous Sacher Torte!