Hit me with your Best Shot

Adventures, Travels

“Hit me with your best shot, why don’t you hit me with your best shooooot” I was belting out as we drove towards the parking lot down a dusty road. The destination was Best Shot Range and the daily adventure was our new family christmas tradition, shooting.

Since I’m currently spending my christmas break with my family in Texas we’ve been up to a few different things. The usual family activity would be something like long walks on the beach, hiking or maybe even shopping, but since my parents are now permanently living in Houston, Texas, we decided to mix things up a bit.

When we first talked about shooting at christmas I thought it sounded like an awful and morbid idea, but the more I thought of it the thought of holding a gun in my hand during the celebration of love and family grew on me. I’m always up for trying new things, and this was so abnormal compared to our usual traditions that it somehow fit right in, so off we went.

The “view” seen from the waiting room at the shooting range. I stood here and crept myself out as I was waiting for it to be our turn

When we arrived to the range I could tell that I wasn’t completely comfortable with the situation as my body felt a bit uneasy. People ran in and out of the place carrying more guns and riffles than I have seen before. A family walked out of there carrying 10 different guns. Now this sort of scene might be normal in Texas, but it was all very new to me.

I think everyone in my family felt a bit misplaced in there as my dad explained to the man helping us out that we were all completely new to this. Luckily the staff at the range were incredibly nice and helpful, even during one of their busiest times on a saturday afternoon.

Split in to two groups we got lane two and three, 2 Barrett guns, 4 targets, 100 bullets, 4 pair of glasses and 4 set of ear muffs. We put on our safety gear, walked through two doors and boom, we had made it in to Texas heaven.

The gun my dad and I shot with. So incredibly weird to be holding a gun

My first thought was “Oh it smells like fireworks” then a parade of shots were fired and I really just wanted to get the hell out of there. I felt extremely uncomfortable and had to focus on not screaming every time a shot was fired.

My dad and sister shot the first round, and even after they had finished their first shots I still didn’t feel too good about the situation.
I told my dad that I really didn’t feel comfortable shooting, but knowing that I would have huge regrets if I didn’t I took the gun into my hands and got in position. “Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” “How does it feel after you pull the trigger?”

After my dad had answered my million of questions I eventually ended up pulling the trigger. My first shot ever was around two cm from the X in the very middle of my target.

The thought of how many shots are fired in Texas every damn day is absolutely CRAZY

Very focused. The first shot I took hit right in the middle. My dad and I looked at each other both very impressed with my newly acquired skills as a shooter. For a second there we might have even reconsidered my future as an auditor, since I was obviously meant to have a gun in my hand. But as I shot the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time it was pretty obvious that it was just an impressing case of beginners luck – too damn bad

Best father and daughter selfie yet – The protection glasses and ear muffs did wonders to the shape of our faces

Overall it was an absolutely awesome experience. It was definitely way out of my comfort zone, but I love crossing my boundaries.
Definitely an experience everyone needs to have if they ever stop by Texas or any other southern state in the U.S. Or anywhere else really.

The best part is that I now have an awesome, personal, pink art piece (my target) to hang in my living room.

// Annika

Seven hours in New Orleans – Part 2

Travels

A continuation of my last post (HERE) on my short trip to New Orleans. 

Street art
I’ve always loved a good piece of street art, and Nola offered many great variations. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

This one is without a doubt my favorite. We spotted this piece when driving around a not-so-nice suburban area of the city. I wish I knew who the artist was!

This one is probably classified more as a sign than street art, but the color combination was so beautiful that I couldn’t help myself

Beautiful gable piece found in the Warehouse District

Warehouse District
Daydreaming about an industrial loft apartment in an old warehouse have become a part of my daily routine, so naturally when I saw that a part of the city was named the Warehouse District I was compelled to venture in there.
Most of what we saw was pretty uninteresting, but there are definitely parts to the area that has a lot of charm. We named the area up and coming as there was a lot of construction going on to a variety of beautiful old buildings. The area is filled with galleries, but as it was before 10 pm on a Monday morning when we were there, there wasn’t much to see. Another place to return to! I bet you it’ll be the shit in 10 years.

Buildings like this has so much charm


Other experiences
Even with just 7.5 hours of exploring we still got to experience quite a few things.
Before arriving to the city I had done a bit of research on different things I wanted to see. One of these was the French Market Place, a big market that stretches over 6 blocks right next to the river that goes through the city. I had read good things about the market, but it ended up being quite the disappointment. The first section I liked. This part was filled with small food stands, cooking food from all over the world. The second part however, the flea market (the one I was the most excited about) was basically just a whole lot of junk. It was hard to tell if you were in Nola, China, Thailand or France since most of the things being sold were very generic. I did end up buying a scented New Orleans Creme Brûlée candle from a nice lady who had a little candle booth with 196 different kinds of scented candles. I obviously had to bring some kind of a souvenir home, so I figured it might as well be an interesting smelling beautiful candle. If you have a week to spend in Nola, I’d say go for it, but with 7.5 hours the market definitely isn’t worth a visit. 

As mentioned above French Market Place isn’t really worth a visit, but this sign is still beautiful

I am always on the hunt for a good thrift/vintage store, and I when I spot a good one there is no stopping me from going in. In Nola I added a new favorite to my little black book; Gregs Antiques and Other Assorted Junk located on 1209 Decateur.
I don’t know who Greg is but he sure has the most amazing collection of junk. I could’ve spend hours in there looking through it all, but with a set of parents that doesn’t exactly share my excitement for rusty iron letters and a suitcase that would never fit an 1850 mahogany cabinet, I gave up on my hunt and continued down Decateur.

HEAVEN for my beating thrift heart outside of my new favorite Nola store

Incredible glass bottle collection inside the store

On our walk home from dinner we all of a sudden was accompanied by trumpets playing. The few seconds of thinking they were playing just to welcome us to the city was replaced with the feeling of joy when we saw that the were leading the way for a wedding party. We walked along them for a solid 10 minutes, all of the way back to our hotel.
Along the roads people were filming and taking pictures, everyone was loving the little parade of joy. 

The bride leading her wedding guest through the streets of Nola

The wedding party was accompanied by two police motorcycles and one police car. My dad was convinced that it had to be the chiefs daughter since they were able to shut down as big of a street as Canal Street just so they could walk through. It was awesome regardless

Beautifully lit up palm trees made their way down one of the main roads of the city, Canal Street 

I passed by a window filled with notes like these, all in memory of what the city went through during and following hurricane Katrina – so sad to see

The city is located on the Mississippi (did I spell that right??) River, so you can stand on the shore and see tanker after tanker sail by 

Almost better than New York City – almost!

That’s all I got to see/experience. If I say so myself we accomplished quite a lot in just 7.5 hours, but as mentioned in the last post, I will definitely have to come back. Maybe for Mardi Gras one day! 

// Annika

Seven hours in New Orleans – Part 1

Travels

At this very moment I’m sitting in the backseat of my dads black jeep, typing away. We are four and half ours into our road trip driving on I10 with two hours and 20 minutes to go.

I am currently in the United States for the holidays as I am visiting my parents who just moved to Houston, Texas. Within my 12-day stay we’ve found room for a few smaller trips.

We just had an overnight stay in Nola (am I local enough to call it that?), better known as New Orleans. We got there at 3 pm yesterday and with me and my sisters jet lag we were back in bed by 8:30 pm. Leaving the next day at 11 am gave me a total of 7.5 hours exploring the city, meaning I definitely need to go back some other time.
However, like my parents would say, I got a nice taste of the city. And I liked what I saw.

To tell the tale of my short rendezvous with Nola I’ve divided my pictures and short stories in to six different categories. Three of which will be presented in a second blog post as I apparently know no limit to the length of my writing. Enjoy.

The French Quarter
The Vieux Carré, also known as the French Quarter or simply just the Quarter, in Nola houses an architecture that is rare to come across in the United States. I gathered too many pictures of beautiful balconies filled with luscious greens on my phone, but everywhere you looked they caught your eye.
We mostly just walked around the neighborhood and took it all in. Personally I would love to have gone to a museum to learn more about the rich history of the quarter, but when traveling with other people compromises have to be made from time to time. For now a quick Wikipedia search will have to do, but next time I’m heading for the museums for sure.

Everywhere you looked they had jungle like balconies. I’m definitely bringing some inspiration back to Copenhagen 

All over the French Quarter they had these amazing metal horses standing on the side of the streets. Guess what they’re for? That’s right – tying your horse up while you go and do your thing

It’s always nice to know that the apartment you’re renting isn’t haunted

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is a part of the French Quarter, however this street have a life of its own. I’ve never experienced a street quite like this, with so much life and alcohol gathered. Everywhere you turned loud live music was blasting of a bar. “When we were here in the summer years ago, people walked around with no clothes. Oh, just like her!” my mom said, as she pointed to a beautiful twenty something women walking around in denim shorts and orange stars painted on to her naked boobs. This was in December. On a Sunday afternoon at 4 pm. “Everything is allowed in this street” my mom continued, and I already loved it.
You’ll never see me walking around the street naked, but any place where people are allowed to do as they please I generally like.
Basically the street is one long madness of bars, restaurants, live music and a whole lot of partying. New Orleans is one of the few places in the states where you can drink and carry around open alcohol in the streets. People took advantage of this and were dancing around the streets on a sunday afternoon with neon colored cocktails in their hands. When we walked down the street again a bit later in the day it felt a lot more like friday night at midnight than sunday at 8 pm. I’ll definitely have to return to here one to join the party.  Something else the street had that I had never experienced before was tiny little stores just for buying drinks, no seats and no bars to lean on, just a register and a whole lotta booze. People would then carry around their drinks in big bright colored cups with matching plastic straws. The restaurant we had our mandatory gumbo at had a sign outside saying “We do cocktails to go,” like my sister said, “you know it’s a classy restaurant when they do cocktails to go.” 
Food
Having just one day in the city we decided to split our dinner into three to try as much different food as possible. Gumbo, oysters and dessert. We started dinner before the clock had hit 5 pm with gumbo, a classic New Orleans dish that is mandatory for you to try if you’re there. The place we choose was a “we need to sit down now and hey look, they have gumbo” kind of decision. The Gumbo tasted great, but I wouldn’t really recommend the place since the one shrimp I found in there didn’t really live up to the name “Seafood Gumbo.”

Regardless of how many filters you apply to this dish it will never be picture friendly – so here you have it in all of its natural beauty – gumbo

On to our second dinner we found an Oyster bar on Bourbon street. On their menu the claimed to be the “longest oyster bar in town” which seemed a bit ought compared to the usual “best oysters in the world” signs you’ll meet. These guys weren’t trying to lie to anyone, and the very long oyster bar ended up being great as we got a table in the way back where we couldn’t hear the noise from the street.
Anyhow, the oyster might actually have been the best and freshest I have ever had, and the grilled ones with parmesan on them truly was like eating a little piece of heaven. So if you ever do stumble upon Nola for just a few hours with a craving for oysters, this could be your place. They also made a GREAT Hendricks G&T, a personal favorite of mine.   

The sign you’ll see from the street when walking down Bourbon Street. Do yourself a favor and head in there 

On to our third and last dinner I decided to use a little 2015-trick to find the best dessert in town, after all we only had one night to get this right. After a few seconds of googling I had located Sucre (I think it means sugar in french?) as not only being the best dessert place in town but also only 200 meters away from our current locations in oyster heaven.
We managed to chose four different cakes who both looked and tasted like competition worthy little creations. After trying each others choices we all four thought that what we ourselves had chosen was the best cake. This means that we’re either extremely good at choosing our desserts or stubborn enough to spill a little white dessert lie, we’ll never know. The place also had macaroons and little homemade chocolates and is definitely worth a try if you like sugar as much as my family does.

Part of the selection of beautiful cakes at Sucre

That’s it for now.

// Annika

10 things you have to deal with after returning from surf camp

Lists
3

I always get a bad case of the holiday blues when returning from a trip. However, returning from surf camp is definitely the worst. Here’s 10 reasons why:

1. It’s not okay to bend over, put your finger over one nostril and blow water/snot/whatever is in there out of your nose in public anymore

2. Leggings aren’t pants, and your bikini isn’t a full outfit

3. Talking about that life changing wave you caught isn’t gonna fly with your friends and coworkers (unless they surf themselves). For some reason non-surfers doesn’t get why you look like you’ve recently just fallen in love and are flopping around on cloud nine in a different universe when you talk about your wave. It’s just doesn’t make sense to them

4. It’s not acceptable to wear flip flops to your corporate job

5. You have to sleep without sand in your bed – who am I kidding, this one is easy

6. Accepting the fact that there is a job that involves being at the beach and surfing everyday, but that it’s not your job. Even worse, your job, which involves sitting at a desk for a minimum of 7 hours a day, isn’t even close to that

7. Getting your wet suit on probably isn’t the biggest struggle of your day anymore

8. You can’t just pee in your pants whenever you want to. For some odd reason normal clothes isn’t designed to hide it the way a wetsuit is

9. Living 10 minutes from an ocean, that has no waves. What is even the point of an ocean then?? Cooooome on

10. You all of a sudden don’t get 4 hours of exercise every day from surfing. This means that you can no longer eat gelato and drink wine everyday, nor can you eat unlimited amounts of cheese and olives as a starter every night without it showing on your figure

// Annika

“SHE GOT IT”

Adventures
7

Vale Figueiras – the most beautiful beach I have ever seen as well as the place where I caught my first legit wave.

“Anakin, I’m taking you out back. Come with me,” Griff said. Anakin is my nickname at my most beloved Star Wars inspired surf camp in Portugal and Griff is one of the instructors working there. Our location of the day was Vale Figures, my favorite beach. 

Now, it’s not that I had never been out back before. This being my second time staying with the surf camp, I was mainly out back (beyond the impact zone that is) at this point. However, today was different – the waves were huge. And now I don’t mean huge like Laird Hamilton huge, but for my beginner self they were in fact HUGE.
Earlier in the day I had attempted getting out back myself, but after getting smashed time after time I eventually gave up and decided to stay in the white water and work on perfecting my pop-up instead. 

With Griff persuading me into the deeper water I decided to go. Through the white water, up on the board and paddle, paddle, paddle. All of a sudden we were out back, and I hadn’t been smashed once. I guess those 15 years of experience does make a difference.
Sitting out back on this particular day have to be one of my most treasured memories. Vale Figuerias is located in a national park. The cliffs here are absolutely stunning and the mist from the ocean on this particular day made it look like a fairytale scene from a National Geographic movie. If you look the beach up on Wikipedia the words “outstanding natural beauty” are used to describe the place, so I will leave it at that. Seeing it from the water while sitting on my surf board just took it all to the next level. The entire time I was focusing on taking mental pictures so I would never forget just how beautiful it was.

Griff had caught a wave in to the shore so I was just sorta hanging around out back. Once in a while a wave that I would personally classify as a tsunami would roll in, so I’d paddle as hard as I could to make sure that I would get over it instead of being squished under it. It worked every time and a new favorite feeling of mine became just making it over a massive wave before it breaking. Fear filled my body by the thought of potentially getting caught in the impact zone under the wings of the massive wave coming at me, so every muscle in my body would give its all to paddle and get over the wave. Actually getting over a creature like that is the feeling of extreme relief, plus it’s a fun ride sliding down the back of it too.

The line-up out back on this particular day consisted of 5-8 men and inexperienced little me in my neon orange wetsuit. Except I really wasn’t in the line-up, I was much further out. With each massive wave that came in I paddled out further so the chance of getting smashed decreased. I’m pretty sure every man out there was asking themselves what the heck a newbie like me was doing out there.
“Are you heading back to America?” Griff asked jokingly when he eventually came back out. “Get back in here, you’re not going to catch any waves out there” he said. So I paddled back. Sitting next to Griff on my board he gave me a few tips on reading the waves, and we decided that my best bet would be going for one of the smaller ones. “Smaller” on this particular day still meant a bigger wave than I had ever ridden, so let’s maybe call it medium sized instead. 

So a medium sized wave started to roll in towards us. “This is it Anakin, get in position, I’m gonna push you.” Griff got off of his own board and came to me. I laid on my stomach and looked over my left shoulder where I saw this beautiful wave take shape as it was heading straight toward me. I started power paddling for the life of me and with the help of the push from Griff I caught the wave. There was no time for thinking “1, 2, 3” as I did my pop-up while sliding down the face of the wave, but luckily my muscles had the movement memorized so I somehow managed to get up on my board.
As I got up I heard the guys cheering while one of them uttered a surprised “SHE GOT IT,” “HELL YEAH I GOT IT” is all I remember thinking. I looked behind me and saw the most perfect wake breaking. In front of me it was all green. For the first time I was riding along a legitimate green wave, and not just going straight towards the shore. As the wave started breaking from both sides I managed to do a turn to move forward and then another turn to go back along the side of the wave. I road that thing all the way in to the beach before I ripped off my leash and started running towards the local surf dog.  

“COOKIE DID YOU SEE THAT?? DID YOU SEE THAT COOKIE?” I screamed as I was intensely petting the confused puppy that definitely had not just seen my badass wave.
After what felt like minutes, but realistically had probably been 30 seconds, of intense focus, I was finally able to react to what had just happened. The most intense feelings of joy, accomplishment and just plain excitement was floating out my body like I had just taken my first steps, and the only living creature on the beach to share it with was a dog, so there I was jumping up and down in my bright wetsuit like a complete fool.
The best way I can explain the feeling I had is compressing a month of having just fallen in love in to a few minutes. I was on a very intense cloud nine and in that second I understood the extreme addiction that many people develop to surfing.  

I will never forget that wave. I got it.  

// Annika