And so another year has come to an end

Personal, Travels

2017 felt like a year of few travels, but after going over the trips I went on I have to admit that that is complete nonsense. I guess I feel that way because 2016 was so insanely filled with travels that any year following that had a whole lot to live up to. 

January 1st I woke up with some of my best friends in New York City in a beautiful apartment on the 44th floor after ringing in the New Year in a warehouse in Brooklyn. 

In April I journeyed to China with an amazing coworker/friend of mine, a trip that turned out to be one of the best I’ve been on. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced as much in 10 days as I did on that trip. 

In May I travelled to London to visit family. I had only visited London when I was a little kid, so this trip felt like my first London experience and I fell in love with the city. It has so much more charm than I had expected. 

I moved in to a new apartment in one of my favorite areas in Copenhagen in the beginning of the year, why I decided to stay home for the summer and relax completely and just take in what Denmark had to offer. Despite the fact that it was a historical bad summer weather wise I had an absolutely amazing summer filled with best friends and festivals. In August I left the country shortly for a Swedish festival where I got to see a bit of Gothenburg and a few of my favorite artist. 

In September I was back in London on a trip with my favorite coworkers to try the Gin Experience at the Portobello Road Ginstitute. Once again London had me. 

In September I also went on an incredible weekend trip to Iceland. A country I hadn’t visited before (other than countless layovers at the airport). It blew me away and I’ve decided to return on a two-week trip sometimes soon. 

In November I travelled to New York to visit a bunch of my high school friends. I had an amazing week in the city that never sleeps. I stayed with my friends in their apartment, so for a week I got the true New Yorker feeling and actually ended up feeling like I had moved in. It was perfect. 

In November I also went on the infamous “Oslo båden;” a ferry that sails from Copenhagen to Oslo over the weekend, leaving you with seven hours to explore Oslo. A full weekend in Oslo would’ve been perfect, but despite the short amount of time I got to see quite a lot of the city. The main attraction for me was seeing the beautiful opera house. 

In December I went on a short weekend trip to Malmø in Sweden. Malmø is the third largest city in Sweden and is just a short 40 minute train ride from Copenhagen, making it a perfect trip if you don’t have too much time on your hand but still want to leave the country. The city is very cute and cozy and I’m in love with the area out by the Turning Torso building where you have a view over Copenhagen and the Øresund Bridge. 

All in all it’s been an incredible year of travels. Traveling and experiencing other countries is still without a doubt my biggest interest and I feel incredibly blessed that I am able to travel as much as I have been. 

For 2018 I definitely want to go on at least one trip by myself, something I didn’t do in 2017. 

I’ve started dreaming about my trips of 2018 and am currently thinking the following:

– A trip to Turkey in the spring. I want to spend a few days in Istanbul and then go to Cappadocia to hike and fly in a hot air balloon. 

– A trip to Nicaragua in the summer where I want to work at a surf and yoga hostel so I can get back to surfing on the daily. Potentially this trip could be mixed with a stopover in Costa Rica 

– A weekend trip to Budapest have been on my list for way too long, so I’m thinking 2018 is also the year where I get to experience the city

– A trip or two to the United States. My best American friend is throwing a wedding so ideally I’ll be visiting for both the wedding and the bachelorette party 

In 2016 I made a deal with myself that I have to go on at least three weekend trips, which also makes room for two other European cities on that list. Maybe Edinburg and Vienna? Who knows. 

Knowing myself I know very well that what’s on the drawing board today probably won’t be in a few months, but for now those are the trips I’m dreaming about. 

Also my life is going to change radically in 2018 as I’ll return to school and thus put life with a steady income behind me, so to make all of these trips happen I’ll have to get real creative.

I can’t wait to see what places 2018 takes me to. 
// Annika




After stressfully leaving work after attending a meeting,  finishing off answering the last emails and printing every travel document we would possibly need for our trip, we grabbed a cab to the airport. “That’s not very backpacker of you” a colleague said, but being thirty minutes late there was no time for the backpacker way just yet, whatever the backpacker way might be.

We had booked our flight with Aeroflot and had a layover in Moscow. After booking our tickets we heard from multiple people that Aeroflot is the worst airline in the world. It turned out to be a great experience, and except for a minor communication breach in Moscow airport where we weren’t informed that our gate had changed from 57 to 50 (or at least only informed in Chinese and Russian which really didn’t help us at all), I was very pleasantly surprised with Aeroflot.

After two one hour naps on the two and half hour flight to Moscow and something like seven hours of sleep on the eight hour flight from Moscow to Shanghai we were feeling on top when we reached Shanghai. On the plane I had looked through my sacred bible, the Lonely Planet travel book, and had noted five things we had to do in Shanghai. This pretty well sums up our level of prepartion for the trip.

The bible. It weighs a ton and is unhandy to carry around when backpacking, but I would not have survived the trip without it. And I am not even joking.

To our surprise my colleagues friend picked us up at the airport, which meant we didn’t have to think about transportation to Shanghai downtown as she and her sister had it all figured out. After a quick stop at Starbucks (yes that was sadly the first thing I bought after arriving in China) we were on our way.
On the metrotrip to downtown Shanghai we got a good glimpse of Shanghai’s size (it is the biggest city in the world), sinze the metro takes three hours from one end of the city to the other. Luckily we only had to travel an hour and a half to get from the airport to the center.

My happy face and the beautiful view from our surprisingly nice hotel

After arriving downtown we got to our hotel, took a quick shower and headed on out to explore the beautiful and interesting city that is Shanghai.

I’m intrigued by the Chinese way of drying laundry

Also a bit intrigued by their way of doing the electricity

The first true culture shock I had was seeing this bamboo scaffolding

First stop was the famous The Bund and it did not disappoint for a second. That skyline is so unreal to look at, and it really took my breath away. I think the New York City skyline will always be my favorite, but Shanghai just has something special about it and definitely comes in second. The pink TV-tower especially adds a very kinky, Asian, sci-fi look to it which I love.

We headed on down the boardwalk and after enjoying the view of the city we decided it was time for lunch and our first real Chinese meal. After walking around for a bit we found a spot. As in any other town, choosing food is really hard.
I usually have two rules: avoid places with pictures of the food and avoid places that translates the menu into multiple different languages. In China I had to throw those rules out the window. I needed either a picture or an English menu to figure out what the heck I was ordering, and seeing pictures of the food is a whole lot easier to deal with when you don’t know what much of it is. Instead I’ve added a new rule: “Avoid restaurants in China stating that they are a Chinese restaurant.” No shit sherlock.

For my first Chinese meal I had some sort of dough with vegetables and meat inside of it (delicious) and noodle soup with beef and veegies (also delicious). I’ve never had noodles as good as those and I instantly got excited to explore further the upcoming week.

After lunch we got lost in Shanghai. We visited a shopping area with a temple that had an “If you’ve never visited this temple you haven’t truly been to Shanghai” reputation.

We visited a famous 200 year old tea house which was a crazy crowded place. The look of the buildings continually amazed me throughout the day. To think that it is not a fake look-a-like of a Chinese building but actually how they build is incredible. Walking around Shanghai is like a classic China town experience that never ends, except a thousand times better.

All of a sudden we found ourselves wandering around a very local part of Shanghai, which was incredibly cool to experience. Once again you see the whole laundry situatuion being on point.

The contrast of the local hood and the big glass skycrapers in the background was quite remarkable.

Sadly after walking around for a while it started to get really cloudy. And the clouds we’re hanging low meaning they covered the Shanghai Tower. Visiting the viewing platform in the Shanghai Tower was at the very top of my to-do-list for Shanghai, why I was not happy about the sudden weather change. It was also getting cold, so we decided to head back to the hotel to change and relax for a bit.

Two hours later we woke up from a surprise nap a bit confused. We were supposed to have met up with the sisters at 7 pm, but woke up at 8:30 pm. Woops! It must’ve been a much needed nap.

After realizing that our two top priority wishes for the Shanghai trip; going up into the Shanghai Tower and drinking a drink at Sir Ellys Roof Top Terrace with a view of the skyline, were not possible due to the fog and clouds, we decided to stay positive and head for food instead.
We ended up having two smaller dinners which turned out to be two more awesome Chinese food experinces. Great day to be alive!

During the trip I collected bad english translations. This is one of my favorites. Personally I am all for trying local specialties and new food in general, but I couldn’t make myself order dirty acid beans. Maybe next time.

We headed back to the hotel room and planned out the next few days which we were going to be spending in Shanghai, Huangshan and Nanjing.

Proof of just how bad the weather had turned – Our previous view of the skyline was completely gone when we returned to our room

Despite the bad weather I fell a sleep with a huge smile on my face, so excited to continuously have my mind blown over the following days.

Our second day in China was supposed to begin at 9:15 by meeting the sisters at their hotel room for an easy breakfast we had purchased at the market the day before, but I was woken up at 9:25. Jet lagged and tired as we were we had gone straight back to sleep after the alarm had awakened us.

We made it out of the hotel around 11 am, and headed straight for the metro station to explore the area in Shanghai called the French Concession. As we got there it was clear that it was pouring down raining, as everyone leaving the metro stop opened up their umbrella when reaching the end of the escalators.

We stopped at the first bakery and got walnut bread, walked around until discovering a cafe and sat down for coffee for a looong time. We walked a bit more around the area before venturing outside the beautiful yet very touristy area.

We looked through the Bible (my Lonely Planet guide book) to try and identify a nice place to eat lunch and decided on Cha’s. It seemed like a very local spot and served me some pretty good fried noodles with BBQ beef.

After lunch we headed back to down town Shanghai. We did a bit of shopping in Forever21 (when in China you know…) to prepare ourself for the upcoming days of hiking, before we ventured back to our hotel to change our clothes and get ready for our overnight train-trip.

Day 9 in China – and why now day 9?? – What about day 3-8!? On day 9 we returned to Shanghai, so to gather all of my Shanghai experiences in one blogpost I’ve skipped ahead.

As mentioned above we did not get to see the Shanghai skyline at night during our first visit in Shanghai. The specific view of the neon-lit skyline had been a the top op my list since I found out I was going to Shanghai, so leaving the city without having seen it had broken my heart a little bit.
For the remainder of the trip we had been keeping up with the weather forecast of our last night in Shanghai. Since we were returning to the city we had one more chance to get the full experience.

Day 9 started out in Beijing more than 1,200 km from Shanghai. To make it from A to B we caught one of the fastest trains in the world and made the journey in less than 5 hours. The fastest I caught the train going on the information screen was 302 km/h, which much to my surprise didn’t seem THAT much faster than the classis danish trains I usually ride. As we were getting closer to Shanghai we passed fireworks and both quickly agreed that they must’ve been a “Welcome back” greeting to us.

The weather forecast we had been following closely showed that it would be raining when we got to Shanghai, but as we exited the train station at around 8 pm it was all dry. It was cloudy, which was okay, because the clouds were more than 600 meters up in the air meaning that we could still see the top of the Shanghai Tower. I was beyond exstatic about seeing the top of the building. Dreams really do come true.

As mentioned we got to Shanghai at 8 pm and we had five things we needed to do before going to sleep:

  1. Buy sneakers (we had fallen in love with a pair of sneakers from the chinese brand, Anta, during our first days in the city, and both agreed we couldnt leave the country without buying them)
  2. Check in to our hotel
  3. Gain access to the observatory in the Shanghai Tower
  4. Enjoy a gin & tonic at Sir Ellys roof top terrace
  5. Eat dinner somewhere along the way

Even though we ran, our less than two hours in Shanghai didn’t give us enough time to make it to the top of the worlds tallest observatory to gaze out over this beautiful sky line. We managed to get to the sneakerstore, buy four pairs of sneakers, check in to our hotel, do a quick change of clothes, grab a to-go cheese burger from McDonalds and run to the metro.
When we walked out the Metrostation and got to the Shanghai tower we had to face the harsh truth that the building had closed. We were literally four minutes late.

We met two danish guys infront of the building (I randomly met them both at a John Mayer concert in Copenhagen a month later – Now that’s a small world!!!) that were equally as dissapointed as us, so we decided to share a cab back to the other side of the river with them. We were still heading for that gin & tonic.

Much to our surprise the city “turns off” the tacky, kinky and incredible light show that the sky line is so famous for at 22, and not 23 as we thought, so we didn’t get to see the neon lights from the sky bar, as we had planned, either. But in the end it didn’t really matter. Even without the lights on it was still incredibly beautiful and everything I could have ever asked for.

After 10 days in China, a country where I can’t communicate properly with the people, those two things were the only things that went wrong and as I sat there with my G&T gazing out over the supposedly dark skyline I still could not have been happier or more excited about everything I’ve experienced within the last 10 days.


Ten days in China


I just got back from the most incredible adventure in China. It’s been a trip so amazing that I couldn’t have imagined it any better. All of the logistical things that could have gone so wrong all went right, which I was not expecting them all to.

Early morning arrival in Shanghai, ready to take on China with a grin on my face and zero idea of what was to hit me

I’m in the middle of busy season at my job, why there has been no time for daydreaming of Chinese adventures, planning the trip in details or even really being excited about going. I think this helped the trip out as I left Copenhagen with zero expectations for what was to come. The only thing I was expecting was a VERY different culture from the Danish and to be hit with a lot of new experiences.

Excitedly updating my Instagram story when packing the night before take off

Back in mid February I booked the trip with my co-worker. She had been wanting to go, while the idea of my participation appeared out of no where over lunch at work. Four hours later my flight was booked.

I had been trying to figure out where my Easter break should take me, debating Morocco among other places. China definitely wasn’t on my list of places I had been considering, or even top 20 on my travel bucket list for that matter, but when the opportunity to go came up I couldn’t pass it down, and thank god I didn’t.

We quickly realized that planning a China trip is far from easy. Furthermore, I’m not usually one for planning all too much before I leave for an adventure, but this trip was a bit different.
How does one cover as large of an area as Europe in just 10 days? The answer is one doesn’t. And so the research had to begin to make the very most of our scarce time in this massive country.

We knew three things; 1. we were both arriving and departing the country from Shanghai, 2. we had to stop by Nanjing, as my co-workers friend is studying there and visiting her was the initial point of the trip, and 3. we wanted to cover as much ground as possible.
With these things in mind it was clear that our trip had to be all about eastern China. When researching things to experience in the country we found multiple places we wanted to see that just so happened to be more than 2.000 km away from our origin Shanghai. Oh well, maybe next time.

Our first draft of a plan of places to go quickly got shut down by my co-workers friend and we were told we were waaaay too optimistic about how much time we had. She cut 2-3 places out of our plan and send it back to us. Even though we were sad to see places we really wanted to visit disappear from our list, we agreed that the new plan was good, and it ended up being what we stuck with.
Now after the trip is over I am extremely thankful that we had someone to edit our plan, as we really wouldn’t have had time to enjoy China with our initial itinerary.

Anyways, what ended up happening in our ten days in China was the following:


Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) 



The Great Wall 

More specifically our itinerary looked like this:

Day 1: Arrived in Shanghai at 9:00 am
Day 2: Left Shanghai at 20:15 pm
Day 3: Arrived at Huangshan early at 6:50 am
Day 4: Left Huangshan at 20:30 pm
Day 5: Arrived to Nanjing at 3:00 am (hence we had the whole day in Nanjing)
Day 6: Left Nanjing at 22:00 pm
Day 7: Arrived in Beijing at 9:30 am
Day 8: Left hotel at 8:16 am for a day trip at the Great Wall and got back at 20:40 pm
Day 9: Left Beijing at 15:00 pm and arrived in Shanghai at 19:50 pm
Day 10: Departed Shanghai at 11:00 am

Phew, reading that makes it sound incredibly stressful. I’ll admit that I, before we left, expected to get back to Denmark completely exhausted because we hadn’t had time to breathe on the trip, but it didn’t turn out like that at all.

Of course we could have spent more time in each place to get to see more, but there wasn’t a single time we had to leave a place where I felt like I hadn’t seen what I really wanted to see (okay that’s not completely true, but it all ended up working out. More about that in my Shanghai post).

It was also extremely helpful that our main transportation happened overnight with the amazing Chinese trains. This is something I’d recommend everyone traveling in China to make use of, as you save so much time and get surprisingly comfortable beds to sleep in.

Even though we were traveling every day the early morning arrivals and late night departures made it so that we basically had two full days in each place.

My top three moments of the trip include seeing the Shanghai skyline in both daylight and at nighttime, having a completely authentic Great Wall experience and hike and leaving our hotel room at Huangshan to discover that the dense fog we had hiked up the mountain in had finally disappeared and instead revealed the most marvelous mountains.
I’ll be exploding those moments and much more in five upcoming posts on the different parts of the trip. For now it’s finally, after 20 hours of traveling, time to go to sleep in my very own bed with a big smile on my face over everything that has gone down in the last ten days.

// Annika

Hiking Lille Malene

Adventures, Travels

On our Sunday off of work we went for a hike on Lille Malene. Meaning “Small Malene” in danish, Malene being a girls name.

This was without a doubt the most spectacular hike I have been on, so much that even Hawaii can go home. It was also the steepest hike I’ve done. There were times I looked up the mountain and had to ask my co-worker if he was sure this was hikeable. And to think there is a Store Malene (Big Malene) too…. I’ll save that one for my next visit to Nuuk!

Throughout the hike I was continuously debating with myself whether this was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or not, and I think it just might be. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.


When walking up the mountain you kept having to turn around to get every aspect of the incredible view that kept getting better with every step you took


I almost sacrificed my life for this picture. Stepping 2 meters up on that rock meant EXTREME wind that I was not prepared for. Whoopsies. Great picture though



Gotta stay hydrated

Yup, I will just see you up there


After climbing the steepest part of the mountain we took a well deserved break in the sun



This lake is located on Lille Malene, and is where Nuuk gets their drinking water from. Pretty cool





Made it to the very top!


I tried to pull of a headstand at the very top of the mountain, but as you can see it didn’t quite work


Feels about reaching the top



One more attempt


Aaaaand there we go


As we headed down the other side of the mountain the sun started to set which gave us the most beautiful light


In the winter this mountain is where you go skiing in Nuuk. Crazy to think with all of the rocks we passed by. We walked back down the mountain along the ski lift

Pretty amazing right?

// Annika

Fjord sailing in Greenland

Adventures, Travels

On our Saturday in Nuuk, the major event was that our co-worker living in Greenland got to take us out on the company boat.

My-oh-my was that an experience. Seeing icebergs, the mountains up close from the ocean and sitting out the front of the boat while going full speed ahead are all moments I will never forget.

Just see how beautiful it was.


The harbour of Nuuk




Taking pictures of the photographer


Look at that tiny boat!!! Really gives you a perspective of how grand it all was


Feels like flying, I tell you



We brought coffee


Probably one of the best cups of coffees I’ve had. More so because of the surroundings than the actual coffee



I’ve sailed a boat in Greenland – Wuhuu


I feel so lucky that I got to experience all of this.


Taken back by Greenland


Greenland is a place I have been wanting to visit for years, but in my mind it is a destination that is quite hard to travel to. For some reason it is always pushed further down the bucket list and replaced with destinations such as Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and other tropical destinations. Also the plane tickets are pretty damn expensive.

BUT, this year I was so incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to visit Greenland through work. We travelled on a Friday, got back next Thursday and were fortunate enough to have Saturday and Sunday off of work. This meant loads of sightseeing around Nuuk where my client have its headquarter.

So, even though I still have loads of Sri Lanka tales waiting to escape my pocket, and a full Barcelona trip to talk about, it is time for my Greenland adventures to be put out into the world.

We took of Friday morning and flew with Greenland Air from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq for a short layover. Big thumbs up for Greenland Air who undoubtedly had the friendliest staff I have ever experience on a plane. They were all funny, kind and loveable.

Sadly it was a cloudy day, so landing in Kangerlussuaq wasn’t as beautiful as I had hoped. The flight from Kangerlussuaq to Nuuk was aboard a much smaller plane, which was not for my liking. But we all survived!


37 people, that’s how many this miniature plane could fit


By now I’ve read hundreds of airplane safety instructions, but this one I’ve never seen before


We could a nice little glimpse of the scenery around Nuuk after we made it below the clouds.


How funny is this?? It literally fits three suitcases

If you look at a map of Greenland it makes zero sense to have a layover in Kangerlussuaq when going to Nuuk from Copenhagen, but the runway in Nuuk simply isn’t long enough to greet the bigger planes. So as of know loads of small planes are taking people to Nuuk from Kangerlussuaq. Luckily Nuuk is working on improving their runway so that they can eventually handle bigger planes.


A good advice, if ever in Nuuk, is to run to the taxi line as fast as you can. It gets long pretty quickly, and apparently there is only around 4 cabs in Nuuk (not actually, but that’s what it felt like when waiting 30 minutes to get a cab…).

When we finally got at cab, we were instantly struck with the beauty of Nuuk. It was a cloudy day but the colorful houses and oceanside location still managed to blow me away. Most of all it was quite different from anything else I’ve seen, except maybe from the most northern part of Norway.

We went straight from the airport to our company’s office in Nuuk where we worked a few hours. During our lunch break we were lucky enough for the fog and clouds to go away for a little, which all of a sudden showcased the beautiful mountains surrounding the city. The sight of the mountains took the beauty of the place to whole other level.

After work we went to see our apartment. We were lucky enough to stay with a Copenhagen co-worker that’s currently deployed to the Nuuk office. He stays in the penthouse apartment in the tallest building in Nuuk, much to our delight. The view was nothing short of spectacular and I had to keep pinching myself every morning to believe that what I was seeing was actually real.


We were lucky enough to get snow on our first day, but also lucky enough that it was only our first day. Every other day we had a clear blue sky and the beautiful, but incredibly sharp,  sun

After seeing the apartment we went for a short walk around Nuuk. It. Is. So. Beautiful.


On our first night we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. This is something I have had on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and experiencing it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. With a cup of hot tea in my hand I spent as long as my neck and body temperature could handle staring up into the sky. Luckily we saw this natural phenomenon four out of six nights in Nuuk, so I got to enjoy it plenty.


After the first day I already felt like I had experienced enough new things to go home and be happy about it, but so many incredible experiences were to come. Waking up the next morning and seeing the sight below was one of them.


I woke up the first morning and screamed at my co-worker that she absolutely HAD to get up and see the view




Still views from the apartment



On our Saturday off we had planned to do some shopping around Nuuk, possibly to buy something made out of seal fur. Nuuk downtown is very small, so after two hours of, mainly window, shopping, we were done. I ended up only buying an art piece, which I was perfectly happy with.


I bought this beautiful art piece in Nuuk


Beautiful Nuuk. The buidlings are an interesting mix of styles. Beautiful wooden house and odd industrial building all mixed together, and for some reason it just works

After our shopping trip it was time to go sailing. An experience that deserves an entire post of its own. So does the Sunday activity of hiking, so other than a few more pictures of general Nuuk happenings, this will be it for now.


The is the mounatain Nuuk is famous for; Sermitsiaq


Dinner with a view!



That calls for a Carlsberg (Tuborg)


Living-room-view-goals – again…..


And again


Goodbye Greenland 😦

You should be seriously excited for the two next posts! CRAZY beautiful pictures coming up.


The Sunshinestories Retreat


The Sunshinestories Retreat is the main driver behind my Sri Lanka trip. I found this place on instagram months back and knew I’d have to pay them a visit. 

When I first entered the house I saw the much awaited “welcome” board that I had seen on their Instagram. I quickly noticed that the board only had my name on it, and couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. Luckily being the only guest at the retreat turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  

The perks quickly started showing. “Since you’re the only one here, you get the best room and bed,” as I walked through the double mahogany wooden doors my eyes went straight to the huge double bed in the middle of the room, as always in Sri Lanka, covered in a princess like musqito net. “The room has an ensuite bathroom” Tosca, the front desk girl said as she walked towards another door. I entered the bathroom and my jaw dropped. I had seen pictures of this bathroom online, but to have it be all mine was too good to be true. I had two showers. I also got to have private one on one surf lessons for an entire week, which has been nothing short of incredible for my progress. Last but not least I got to hang out with the incredible staff everyday, which completely made up for there not being any other guests. 

The villa

The retreat is set in a beautiful old Dutch colonial house. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 

Out of the entire villa my bathroom was still my favorite part. One day I was sitting in my outdoor bathroom peeing, as most people do every once in a while, when a monkey swung by and caught on to the palm tree above my bathroom. It instantly became the best pee of my life.

My life peeked later that night, after the sun had set and the darkness had emerged, when I went to take a shower. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about this earlier, but after letting the water refresh my sweaty self I turned around, and there they were, my favorites, the stars. Those who know me well knows that I am very fond of the stars. I have every meteor shower as a yearly occurrence in my calendar and every time I get the chance I can spend hours gazing up into the sky. At this point I was pretty close to bursting in to tears from happiness. 

The surf 

The retreat is located on the south coast of Sri Lanka where it’s off season for surfing right now. However, for beginners the waves here are pretty perfect all year round, why It was still a good fit for me. Since I was the only guest I got the luxury of one on one surf lessons with the lovely Australian surf coach, Michael. 

The retreat included five theory lessons and five in water lessons. The first day I started out on a foamie (a beginners surfboard made of foam), but after half an hour I was, according to Michael, ready to move on to a hard board. Every wave I caught was filmed so that we could do video analysis of my surfing, which in my opinion is the best tool for learning how to surf and correct all of the mistakes that you’re making. The first day I caught 54 waves in the whitewater, and I was told by Michael that all of my previous surf lessons had definitely paid off. So good to hear. The only thing I really had to work on was popping up in one movement, which was the theme of every surf lesson we had that week since I just couldn’t get it right. I managed to move to green waves, and when the week was over I was able to catch green waves all by myself, over and over again. Most importantly the fear I had previously required from a bad crash in Portugal was completely gone. The smaller, cleaner and more forgiving Sri Lankan waves turned out to be everything I had needed, just like I had hoped. 

I left the retreat with a 6 minute long video of me surfing, and I can’t wait to get home and watch it over and over and over again. I came so far that week. 

The yoga 

Every morning at 6 am and most afternoons it was yoga time. The yoga teacher was a lovely Swedish girl named Hannah. The classes were simple and restorative, preparing you for the daily surf. The routine of doing yoga daily was nothing short of amazing, and Hannah is the best. 

The food 

Everyday except for the Wednesday (my day off from the “boot camp” schedule) and Saturday night the wonderful chef and sous chef prepared incredible meals for us. 

The breakfast was made up of curd (a Sri Lankan type of yougurt, kind of similar to the danish skyr), granola, fresh cut Sri Lankan fruit (they honestly take fruit to a whole new level from what I have ever known. So fresh and tasty), fresh squeezed smoothie, eggs and delicious Sri Lankan bread. 

Lunch was the delicious, classic and famous rice and curry everyday, but the type og currys changed on a daily basis. 

The dinners were the best part, it was always a nice mix of Sri Lankan and Western food inspired from each other and put together in amazing combinations that made my tastebuds sing sweet, sweet songs of joy. 
  I also got to do a cooking class with the chefs, which was a very cool experience. I was amazed at how simple all of the dishes are. They create the most tasty and flavorful dishes with only 5-6 ingredients. 

Last but not least I kept finding myself with a coconut in my hand. “For you Madame” the wonderful Champika would say with the biggest smile on his face as he kept handing me coconuts. 

The experiences

The retreat is made up out of a jam packed boot camp schedule. Along with eating, surfing and yoga, they’ve also planned out a few other activities for you to do, if you feel like it. 

On Monday I got to go have tea at a surf shack with Tosca and Michael. When they asked me if I wanted to go to a surf shack I hadn’t expected it to so literally be a surf shack. We got to enjoy various Sri Lankan treats. Sunshine Stories go here weekly as a “thank you for letting us surf on your beaches” act to the locals in the area. 

On Tuesday there was a visit at a temple planned. We got a tour from a (very) talkative monk around the temple and got to have tea and biscuits with the “top” monk. I got a blessing from the monk as he tied a white band around my wrist while saying that he wished me a long and happy life in Sinhalese. We had some interesting conversations with the monks and were taught many lessons. One of them being a smart saying of how you yourself affect your life through the three human doors. Your hands, your mouth and your mind. With these three tools we are able to shape our own lives. I like and agree with that way of looking at life. 

On Wednesday it was my day “off,” and I decided to just hang out at the villa and relax. I went to the local market with Tosca to get different fruits and vegetables for our lunch. The retreat is located in the town of Ahangama, which is a lovely little village that manages to stay clear of all tourists. 

At night we had dinner at a beach. Tosca and I went early to play on a Instagram famous palm tree swing that’s tied up by the most lovely Sri Lankan family. We saw sea turtles and got to go for the most amazing sunset swim I’ve ever been a part of. The sunset was so beautiful that Tosca and I had to pinch ourselves to believe that the moment of us being on a palm tree covered Sri Lankan beach, swimming around in the warm water while enjoying a sight like that, was actually true. I took hundreds of mental pictures. 

My last night, Saturday night, the whole crew went out to dinner at the famous Mirissa beach. That night was so beautiful that it got an entire post to itself. 

My favorite thing about my stay at the Sunshinestories retreat have been really deeply appreciating the little things. I’ve gotten to enjoy moments like laying in a hammock with a good book, slowly rocking side to side while listening to the crisp noise of palm tress swaying in the wind, trying not to let my eyes fall shut. I’ve done yoga outside under a roof while it poured down next to me, and I got to take in both the smell and the noise. I also got to meet the amazing staff that made not only my week at the retreat nothing short of amazing, but also the following weeks as I have continued to hang out with them throughout my time in Sri Lanka. 

I’m so happy I went there. 

// Annika

A magical Mirissa night

Adventures, Travels

I had the BEST night in Mirissa on Saturday. It was my last night at the Sunshinestories retreat, so me and the staff went out for a big dinner and lots of drinks. Mirissa is a beach that I’ve had as the background on my phone for the last four months, impatiently waiting to explore it in real life. It did not disappoint.

Sweet Tosca had brought her GoPro, which her, Hanna and I made good use of while exploring Mirissa Bay, trying to contain our excitement for just how beautiful the sunset was that night. 

 It was the kind of night that was almost too good to be true. We couldn’t stop repeating how in love with life we were, as we were dancing our asses off to a way to repetitive techno beat on the sand of a beautiful beach in Sri Lanka underneath the swaying palm trees. We had good food, great drinks, new friends and nice strangers, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better fireworks went off and blended into the sky along with the light show from the beach club that was making its way across the ocean to the rhythm of the music. The cherry on top was skinny dipping in the Indian Ocean before stumbling into a tuk tuk to make our way back to the villa. 

I’ve already made plans to meet them there next Saturday. And the next. And the next. 

// Annika 

A walk around Galle 


The first full day I had in Sri Lanka was to be spend in the beautiful city of Galle. I woke up in my surprisingly comfortable hostel bed after a much needed 11 hours of sleep.

The hostel I had chosen offered breakfast, so after realizing I only had half an hour left to eat before breakfast was over, I ran downstairs. The cute Sri Lankan man garding the front desk was quick to ask me if I wanted my eggs scrambled or if I wanted an omelet. Quite the service for $12 a night. As I enjoyed my breakfast (which included my first ever papaya. Yum!) I looked into the street laughing at all the Chinese tourist walking by. Every women had to stop in front of this beautiful wooden door that was located straight across from the hostel to get their picture taken. Chinese people and their cameras is such a classic.

The hostel room. My bed is in the far corner

The Pedlar’s Inn Hostel as seen from the street

The night before I had made plans to go to the beach with my new friends, but I quickly realized that I’d be at the beach every day for the next five weeks, why exploring the streets of Galle seemed like a better option.

Galle is the fifth biggest city in Sri Lanka and houses Asias largest remaining fortress built by European occupiers. My hostel was located inside the fort, a UNESCO world heritage, so I quickly decided that a stroll on the fort walls was the best way to start my day. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here.

 My stay in Galle was much inspired by my Lonely Planet guidebook. The book guided me to the most adorable restaurant for lunch called Mamas Fort Galle. The restaurant consist of one dining table that only seats 5 people, as well as a few tables in the street. When I entered the restaurant a couple was sitting there with their Lonely Planet guidebook out on the table. Quite the advertisement for the restaurant! The place was run by the one and only Mama, a cute little Sri Lankan lady that made an exquisite rice and curry.

After lunch I walked almost all streets of the fort. I was enjoying getting lost on purpose and wandered into many different shops. It really is such an interesting place, especially due to the Dutch heritage which is very obvious on most buildings in the fort.

I ended up shopping a tiny bit as I bought a poster to hang in my apartment. The Sinhalese writing means “village leader.”

After walking in the hot sun for five hours I had gotten pretty exhausted, so I decided to go back to the hostel to lay down. Two hours later I woke up shocked after taking what apparently was a much needed nap. The addition of two new backpacks in my room revealed that I had gotten new roommates while sleeping.

I decided to go back to the fort to watch the sunset, with a quick stopover at Dairy King for ice cream on the way. Great decision.

Back at the fort I was approached by a nice Sri Lankan man. We chatted for 30 minutes and he told me about Galle and how he plays Cricket on the national team. He invited me to come to his cousins restaurant for dinner with him, but still a bit scared from the Lonely Planet take on women traveling alone I turned down his invitation. I regret that now, because meeting the locals really is a special part about this trip.

I ventured back to the hostel and met up with the Irish and the Aussie and went out to dinner. A young Spanish man joined our crew and once again the night was filled with travel tales.

The next day it was time for me to make my way to Ahangama to check into Sunshinestories. For the first time ever I faced the horror of having to repack a backpack…

It just doesn’t seem to fit

// Annika

My first impression of Sri Lanka


When landing in Abu Dhabi I was blown away by the landscape. Nothing was green, the complete opposite of Sri Lanka

I made it to what just might become my new favorite country! My journey to Sri Lanka went Copenhagen to Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi to Colombo. 

Sitting at the gate in Abu Dhabi I had taken out my Lonely Planet guide book. I read the “Understand” and “Survival guide” parts of the book, and as I reached the section “Women Travellers,” the nerves started kicking in. 

“”Are you married?” could be the snappy conversation starter you hear most often, so consider wearing a fake wedding ring and carrying a few pics of your imaginary partner back home. Women traveling alone may be hassled while walking around day and night, or while exploring isolated places. Physical harassment (grabbing and groping) can occur anywhere. Single women may be followed, so try to be connected with larger groups of people. There have also been cases of solo women being attacked by guides at heritage sites; again, don’t go alone” the guide book states. To be fair the sections ends stating that unpleasant experiences are more likely to be the exception than the rule, but that didn’t save me from the images now running through my head. 

I got to enjoy a beautiful sunset when leaving the Abu Dhabi airport

“Why are you traveling alone again!?” I questioned myself, but as I sat down in my seat on the airplane my nerves started to calm. Flying by Nice Little Penguins came on shuffle on my phone, and for the first time ever I actually listened to the lyrics: 

Here I am, I am on my own. For the first time really on my own. So will I make it, will it work alright? Can I make it through the night? And I go uuuuuh, uuuuuuuh I am flying

I couldn’t help but laugh and after receiving a weird glance from my side buddy of the next four hours I was so ready to go. The “LET’S DO THIS” mentality was back. 

After hours of charmingly sleeping and waking up with my mouth open, I could see the Sri Lankan landscape beneath me. I think this is when it really hit me, in the best way possible. I am spending nothing short of five weeks in this palm tree covered heavenly country. Five weeks! I’ve only ever spent five weeks in Denmark or the States before. This is huge. Trying to contain my jittering body from exploding from excitement I took a few deep breaths and smiled to the Sri Lankan rice fields rolling by me with the speed of lighting. 

After the easiest walk through immigration I waited for my suitcase for half an hour before I followed the exit signs, hoping that they would lead me to my driver. The reason why I had a driver was, long story short, my suddenly worrisome and incredibly nice dad who pulled some strings among business connections to get me a contact in case of emergencies, and ended up with both a contact, a car and a driver. When he had asked how much it would cost the answer had been “View it as a gift to your family sir,” so I couldn’t say no that. 

Sure enough there he was, Mr. Sudath, a very smiling Sri Lankan man holding a “Ms. Annika” sign. 

The Sri Lankan landscape is incredibly beautiful. I have never before seen so many shades of green

Mr. Sudath and I had 160 kilometers of driving ahead of us, so I was happy to discover that we very quickly bonded with big laughs over my awful pronunciation when giving the Sinhala language a try. Instead I showed off with my newly acquired knowledge of Sri Lankan culture and history, and he helped me out with filling in the gaps. 

He told me, in his incredibly charming broken English, how his main job was being a farmer, but whenever his boss had VIP clients who needed a ride, Mr. Sudath was the one he called. After laughing at the fact that I was a Very Important Person a car honked at us and made signs to say something was wrong with our vehicle. We pulled over to discover that the left front wheel was flat..

Luckily the car had a spare wheel hanging on the trunk, and after 30 minutes of struggling Mr. Sudath had managed to change the wheel with just a little help from his VIP guest. Throughout the action we had periodically been honked at by cars, which according to Mr. Sudath was due to my light skin and blond hair. It was also the event of the day for the village located on the side of the highway, as at least 7 people stood lined up by the fence to watch the wheel changing happen. Quite a first Sri Lankan experience I got myself! 

The road when we had just discovered the flat tire

It’s hard to see, but behind the palm trees and bushes are villagers starring at what was going down. I waved at them a couple of times, which seemed to really amuse them

The road 30 minutes later after Mr. Sudath had fixed the flat tire

A total of 27 hours had passed from when I walked out the door of my apartment to putting down my backpack in my hostel room, so it is safe to say that I was exhausted. 

I got to spent about 37 seconds in my new room before I was invited to dinner with two of the other guest, an Aussie women and an Irish man. Now that’s hostel living for you. 

We met up with a French women that the Aussie had met a few weeks prior in Colombo and ventured out to eat a well deserved meal. The best thing about meeting people in hostels like this is that everyone is like minded and have a very essential thing in common; the love of traveling and exploring. All dinner long we all shared stories of previous trips and dreams of those to come. My favorite moment was asking the French women what she did at home, as she responded saying “you mean my job?” because she is oh so right. What you do at home shouldn’t necessarily be what your job title is. The answer to that question should be so much more. 

My first Sri Lankan curry. I would like to state that this pictures doet not do it any justice. It was incredible.

I of course had to order a Sri Lankan curry, as I had been waiting months to try one. Luckily it was everything I had expected it to be, so now I am going to sleep under my princess like mosquito net as a very full and happy camper. 

Only five hours into my trip, my five minutes of extreme worrying in Abu Dhabi have proven to be incredibly unnecessary. 

// Annika