Ecola State Park, Oregon

Friday, July 27 (continued)

After our time relaxing at the beach, Al and I knew we had some hiking to do!

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Our walk to the state park wasn’t all flowers and sunshine though!  We had to walk up to the entrance of the park, which consisted of walking uphill for ~30 mins-1 hour and made us short of breath even before the “real” hiking began!

Once we arrived at the entrance, the guide helped us pick which trail we wanted to hike.  Since we craved high, ocean views, we chose to head west and felt the ocean air.

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Prior to heading back uphill to continue on our path, a huge bug landed in Al’s mouth as he was talking! I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t even walk back up on the trail!

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Even though I couldn’t get his bug incident on camera, I’m happy we took the above pictures 🙂

The views were incredible, the stories were endless, and the laughs were much-needed after a long day of hiking!

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All Smiles With This Guy

My boyfriend, Juan, and I have been in each other’s lives since 2012. We have traveled to foreign countries together, as well as a few states in the US. He’s truly my best friend.

We first met in 2012 during my first semester of college. The rest is history…

Juan and I have been able to enjoy many family events together, like my brother’s high school graduation and family Christmases at my grandma’s house.

Juan and I drove to South Bend, Indiana so I could meet his mom and aunt for the first time!

We also visited Juan’s hometown, York, Nebraska to celebrate his college graduation in 2013. And I thought I grew up in a small town…

Juan and I traveled in France, Italy, and the Netherlands together in 2014 (after my two-month study abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France).

France

Italy

Netherlands (Amsterdam only)

We’ve been to Chicago a couple times since 2012, one time being my 21st birthday!

The list goes on and on! 😊

I can’t wait for our next adventures in 2018!

July in the Big Apple

Hello again, and Happy Halloween!

I frequent my introductions with “I haven’t posted in awhile…” or something along those lines.

I need to stop doing this.

Anyway…I have been living at home in a small town for a little over a year now, and it makes me crave the city.  Thankfully, I was able to visit my cousin, Katy who lives just outside of NYC.  Our times together are always well-spent!


We first visited a food festival in Brooklyn, where I tended to look nine months pregnant in every photo (it was the wind – I swear)!! I ended up getting freshly-squeezed peach lemonade and truffle fries with aioli for ‘brunch.’


Next, we visited the High Line in west Manhattan.  The last time I visited NYC, the High Line was still under construction; it was definitely worth the wait and the strong winds!  We once again took several photos, and I had more to eat (I think dark chocolate gelato this time?).



We decided that the wind was a tad overwhelming and headed to Queens.  Katy mentioned something about the “Museum of the Moving Image.” I was sold!


Katy and I then agreed that margaritas were suddenly necessities and ventured over to the Chipotle test kitchen.  They even had queso, so this was basically my heaven-on-earth…


The infamous Fearless Girl was on our way to the Staten Island Ferry, which led to us posing with her immediately!


Although the ferry might have been windier than the High Line, it was SO worth it!  We attempted to take several Titantic-posed photos, but nothing turned out as we hoped.


Unfortunately, we never met any of the Impractical Jokers either.  Bummer…

On my last day, Katy, my aunt Jenn, and I visited Brooklyn again; there was a market going on and we decided to check it out.  It was a beautiful day, thus making it even MORE difficult to say goodbye to the city and my family.


NYC? 10/10 would recommend.  I have visited the Big Apple three times now, and each time has been incredible (my rating would have been a 17/10 if I could’ve met Murr, Joe, Sal, or Q)!!

Askøy & Bergen, Norway (Part II)

At the beginning of 2018, I hope to go on a trip to Europe with my brother.  He will graduate college in December of this year and has never gone to Europe, so I figure this would be the perfect gift for him (expensive, yes, but perfect…) 🙂

And if that doesn’t work out, then my mom is willing to take his place!

Until my next adventure in Europe, I can look back on the past and cherish the memories I have already made as I excitedly plan on making some new ones in the near future 🙂

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I hope you all have a great Monday and a great week ahead of you! 🙂

Askøy & Bergen, Norway (Part I)

Truth be told, I have been avoiding this post for a long time.  Norway was the second-to-last country I visited while abroad, and I have been home for a little more than two months now.  Things haven’t been the same upon my return; this post solidifies the idea of my big adventure being over.  I finally gained the courage to write about my time in Norway because I have to face reality.  Although the best chapter of my life is now closed, I know more opportunities will come!  I miss Europe, traveling, and my life abroad, but this drives my determination to find a job overseas even more!

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My view for two weeks!

I left Kalmar, Sweden extremely saddened; I was leaving not only the best part of my life behind, but also several new friends from around the globe!  However, with that said, I knew that my two-week stay in Norway would be a great transition into my normal life back in Michigan.

I visited Norway for two main reasons: 1. It has always been my “dream country” and 2. While my mom was in high school, her family hosted a Norwegian exchange student!  His name is Kjell and I was FINALLY able to meet him and his (entire) family!  It was such an incredible experience to meet a family I have been connected to through my mom’s stories, letters back and forth, and a montage of photos and Christmas cards over the years.

When Kjell and his daughter, Martine picked me up from the airport, I instantly felt at home.  I remember walking with my heavy backpack down this long flight of stairs to pick up my luggage, and as I looked down I could see them waving up at me with Norwegian flags (was it THAT obvious I was an American?)!  My heart was full in that moment.

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Norway’s islands are connected by several bridges 

Kjell and his family live on the beautiful island of  Askøy, which is about a half-hour (not even) from Bergen.  It was a surreal feeling to drive Kjell’s boat to Bergen and several other small islands in the area.

When I travel, I often find parallels between cities I have been to.  Oddly, I found similarities between the countryside of Southern France and the route to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.  I cannot compare Bergen to anywhere else; it is truly one of a kind…just like my time in this beautiful country.

The first few days of my new adventure consisted of visiting mainly Bergen, and you know, the typical tourist-y stuff.  Although I try to avoid cliche attractions and events, there are exceptions.  I had to visit Bergen’s famous fish market and visit the highest point of the city!  The market didn’t smell the greatest, but the taste of the fresh fish from the North Sea made up for it.

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How could I miss this view?!

With Martine and Kjell, I was able to take the Ulriken cable car to the top of Mount Ulriken.  Because of all the islands and mountains in this part of Norway, the Ulriken wasn’t the only cable car/ski lift I traveled on.

The city of Bergen itself has a rich viking history, something Kjell takes much pride in.  During my first visit to Bergen, Norwegian royalty were near Parliament and university buildings.  Kjell is a police officer in Bergen and Askøy, so he was hoping we would have a better chance of seeing the royalty if he was talking with his friends and coworkers!  It was a good strategy, but unfortunately I didn’t meet a prince or anyone close.

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Courtyard in Bergen
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Traditional, iconic wooden homes (Bryggen)

I would have to say that my favorite thing about Bergen (aside from the food and people) are the Bryggen that greet you as you ride into the city by ferry or boat.  Inside the wooden buildings, there is a famous nightclub and also a traditional Christmas shop.  I live near Frankenmuth, Michigan (a faux-German town with a world-famous Christmas shop), and I was impressed with the Julehuset in Bergen!

My boat rides with Kjell were some of my most cherished memories of my time in Norway; I was able to learn more about Norway, his family, and even my own family through Kjell’s stories.

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Historic cruise ship boarding near the Bryggen

I will be sure to share more stories and photos in other blog posts!  This is only a mere sample of my Norwegian adventure.