Our Weekend in Malmö

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to stay with my friend in Malmö, Sweden. The easiest way to fly into Malmö is by flying into Copenhagen in Denmark and then getting the short train journey across the sea right into Malmö central.

As it was the beginning of December we were lucky enough to see the city dressed up for Christmas, and don’t the Swedes love Christmas!

We soon learnt that they bring out Christmas themed versions of most foods and drinks after my friend introduced them to us over the days.

Saffron buns & Julmust

There’s your standard mulled wine, but they also make Christmas bread, Christmas ham, Saffron Bread for Lucia day, and Jülmust which is a sort of spiced coke. The list goes on. We even found a Christmas themed Princess Cake, the cake of Sweden.

Princess Cake

We wandered around the supermarkets taking in all the beautiful foods and Swedish Santas.

Swedish Santas typically look like garden gnomes

Our first full day was spent seeing the Turning Torso, a new building of offices and apartments. This area is clearly an up and coming part of Malmö with new homes being built along the seafront as well as the new World Trade Centre and a massive supermarket. We walked right up to the seafront and had a warm cocoa before moving on.

The town centre of Malmö is quite varied. There’s an older part which we learnt was from the 1400s onwards, with old factory buildings which are now used as shops. They have a few beautiful squares, one of which has become a Christmas market during these Winter months and has lots of things for children to do like a merry-go-round and a ‘playroom’ in the shape of an igloo.

What I love most about Malmö is that it’s a relatively small town but has plenty in it to keep people entertained. The lights at night are gorgeous, and the classic buildings frame the seaside place beautifully. It’s great for a mini break away or a stopover on your way onto Stockholm for example. Malmö is a considerably cheaper option than Stockholm!

Lastly, I’d like to turn your attention to this that’s happening at the moment:
‘Tiny, Magical Shops For Mice Are Popping Up In Sweden’

Beautiful ‘mouse shops’ being created by someone in a suburb nearby.

Day Trips: Chatsworth House

Spending time with my parents this year, mum thought it a good idea to have a day out together so we organised a day trip to Chatsworth House. Personally, I’d never heard of the place, but the thought of it made a big smile light up her face so I knew it must be special.

Unfortunately we’d booked our tickets on one of the worst weather days we’ve had this year. Chatsworth is in Derbyshire and it was already dark and raining when we got up. Driving through the countryside we soon found ourselves diverted from waterlogged roads but we were undeterred. We were excited about the house’s special event – Christmas at Chatsworth. This year they had transformed the house into the story of The Nutcracker. Each room had a theme and was telling the tale as you walked around.

Having never been here before though, we were also interested in what the rooms normally contained. As the groups walked on through we would stop and look at the paintings and swords.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of how beautiful this place is:

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Now, Chatsworth House is also known for it’s Gardens. Unfortunately we were unable to walk around them on the day we went but we intend to go back because they’re huge and have many different areas to them.

If you’re in the area I thoroughly recommend visiting Chatsworth for a day trip, and I mean day trip – it’s huge! They have an adventure playground for children, a farmyard, lots of walks and trails to go around, as well as the spectacular house. They have a number of ticket options so you can pay for what you want to see and most of these prices hang around £20 for adults – not cheap, but worth the treat! I know we’ll be going again in the Spring.

What I learnt whilst in Oz

Cancer awareness – Everyone is very much aware of cancer in the world, and it’s always prevalent, but my trip began in Brisbane where skin cancer is rife. All my cousin’s friends had cancer; there were ads all over TV for it, and skin cancer clinics on every corner. Sunscreen was cheap, everywhere, and was made in high SPF’s.

Healthy Eating – When I moved to Manly, it was what I was putting into my body that I became more aware of. Manly appears to be a very health conscious town, and my new housemate had been taking it one step further and started to buy organic products for cleaning, and make up as well so that anything she touched or ingested was chemical free, and 100% natural. I’d always felt bloated after pasta or bread anyway, so I knew I should try cutting out gluten. After reading about other things that you could remove from your diet and how it could benefit you, I started to seriously plan my eating habits and embraced the new meal options.

It’s hard to change lifestyle habits, but since having my eyes opened to a new way of living, I now follow healthy eaters on Instagram like @chloescountertop @kirstywaterman @deliciouslyella who show me a new way of eating and viewing. I also came across Quirky Cooking which has some delicious recipes and suggestions.

In learning more about the products you put onto your body, I’ve started compiling a Pinterest board of DIY products, and the many uses of coconut!

As I made my way further south, I found Sydney and Melbourne to be the most health conscious. There were lots of independent shops including health food stores with plenty of variety for the intolerant people. I felt like I was walking into a magic, Harry Potter shop when I entered a store in Melbourne. Outside it had a stand of wicker baskets which you could use whilst walking around the shop, and they’d used every single space imaginable for something. The crevices in the walls were filled with tubes of every seed and nut you could think of, and they even had a mini bakery on sight! These sorts of shops do not exist in the UK, but certainly should.

Australian TV – I found their TV to have quite an American influence, with a slight environmental and health conscious vibe. During my stay in Townsville, the local TV adverts were mainly focussed on obesity, and how to lead a healthier life. At the beginning I found it funny that people in such a sunny state could have an obesity problem, but actually, the heat can be too much for exercise, and the sea can have crocs, sharks and stingers to be wary of! Most coast towns do have pools which filtered in the sea water though, so there’s no real excuse.

Aborigines – On the road in Western Australia, I learnt about how much the Aborigines’ were quashed. I went on a 6 day tour of South West Oz and at nearly every stop it was all about how the Aborigines once were this and that, as if they don’t exist anymore. It makes me rather sad that they’re talked about this way, and have been removed from their lands to make way for a western world who didn’t even know how to cope in this harsh environment.

Australian Made – Independent companies appear to be thriving as well as state made adverts encouraging people to shop at independent stores rather than big businesses. It’s great to still be able to buy your meat from a butchers, vegetables from a greengrocers, and fish from a fishmongers; this is something you’d struggle to still find in a built up UK city, as the big chain supermarkets buy out all the smaller stores to make ‘locals’.

And finally, what I’ve learnt about me…

I’ve learnt that I love a Wintery Christmas in the northern hemisphere. It was weird going through December with Christmas films showing, and having no relation to the weather outside. Even topics and stories online weren’t corresponding to the heat of the Australian summer. I found it so weird that I wrote a blog entry about it.

It isn’t Autumn Everywhere…

As you begin to cosy up with cocoa and a blanket, I’m throwing off the covers and struggling to sleep through the humidity. Never until now have I had to consider how different months can be, depending on your location.

Leaving the UK at the beginning of their Summer to find myself in a wet and chilly Australian Winter in July was not what I expected, but then again, it was their coldest Winter in years!

Over the months it’s become more and more apparent of how different countries live the same year. Online articles are aimed at cold autumnal nights in – soups to warm you up, which books to read in front of a fire – and here I am in the same month, sweating buckets on a beach!

We’ve just moved our clock forward one hour for Spring here in New South Wales, which means that there’s a bit more sunlight until around 7pm. That’s the best they get here. One thing I love about British Summers is how late it’s light until. As a kid it was both awesome and sad cause I’d be out later but would be sent to bed when it was still light. Upon learning of how early it gets dark here in the Southern Hemisphere, it reminded me of how constantly light it is at the top of the Northern Hemisphere and what it must be like for them.

All these differences have shown me what a Western World we live in. Take Christmas for example; the celebration of a child’s birth in Jerusalem, a place which will have definitely been hot at the time, and yet all the adverts show wintry scenes that parts of America and Europe will be enveloped in come December 25th.

I do look forward to seeing what Oz does for Christmas, as I’m sure it’s all about the barbies and beach life, but I can’t help but feel left out of the big Christmas extravaganza that seems to embrace the Northern quarters.

What’s still to come…

It’s now the end of September and I’ve been away from home for 3 months. In this time I’ve travelled to a few places but my original plans of always being on the move and seeing different sights were soon scuppered when I realised I didn’t want to see such things without my boyfriend.

When I first reached Brisbane I began an in-depth look into where to go down the East Coast and how to do it. An agency contacted me and suggested they plan it for me and after taking one look at their itinerary, I knew that I couldn’t have experiences like sailing around the Whitsundays or driving around Fraser Island without him in tow.

This led to a dilemma. I’d been in the country one week and already my journey had ground to a halt. My boyfriend is unable to travel out here until the end of November so I have 5 months in total before he arrives and we can start our epic journey together.

In coming to this realisation I had to re-think all my plans and ideas of how this trip was going to play out and work out how to keep going for all that time without it being seen as a waste.

As you may know from previous posts, I’m filling the majority of my time in Sydney; working and seeing all that I can on the weekends. When I’m not working (and mostly when I was house sitting), I’m planning our future adventures that we can go on together.

During the month of August I had little to do but keep some beautiful animals alive whilst house sitting in Townsville. This gave me the opportunity to organise our ’round the world’ flights and set dates for each location. After (what we thought was) careful planning, we felt that we’d budgeted enough and could do the following:

  • 3 weeks down the East Coast
  • 10 days in Fiji
  • 3 weeks in New Zealand
  • 3 weeks in Sri Lanka
  • A weekend in Dubai on our way back to the UK

So we booked our flights and set about organising the bits in between. My lovely agent from Peter Pan who’d already sent me an itinerary prior when it was just me looking, had now updated the trip details and given me an itinerary for the both of us – that was EC sorted.

Fiji was also fairly easy to organise. I did my research and learnt about each group of islands. I wanted peace and quiet away from the backpacking crowds, and somewhere close to good dive spots for my boyfriend. I found this website to be a brilliant source of information. Not only did it teach me about all the island groups, it also contains a brilliant search engine for accommodation. After settling on Kadavu island it was then a very small list of resorts to email and find out about Christmas specials. We chose Mai Dive which has nothing but 5 star reviews since 2011 and looks gorgeous.

My sister’s a travel counsellor, so she sent me across a 3 week itinerary of self drive New Zealand which was perfect. Next all we needed to sort was the camper which we found using a comparison site, then we downloaded a few apps which show you where you can park for free or fairly cheaply.

Having not used the app whilst in NZ yet, I can’t comment on how useful they are, but in preparation we’ve downloaded the Camping NZ and Happy Campers apps which both do pretty much the same thing. Camping NZ appears to be more useful as it allows you to download full maps, and I doubt we’ll have much signal while we’re there!

Sri Lanka is the bit we’re still working on but also the cheapest part of our trip. It’s expected that you can spend less than £50 a day in Sri Lanka, staying in the best hotels. Yes you can do it for less, but that could include accommodation with a toilet that’s never been cleaned (hygiene isn’t at the top of their priority list in SL) and possible hellish trips using their buses with no timetables. I’m not much of a camper so I couldn’t see myself surviving three weeks in camp-like hotel rooms.

Upon going through all these destinations it was soon evident that I’d need to cut back. Any plans of epic trips to Darwin and down the West Coast were closed off, and I am now living a true Aussie life, working a 9-5 and paying rent.

That’s not a bad thing though! I’ve always wanted to work in a foreign country, so I’m happy to be here and very happy to have work. It just means that from now until the middle of November, my travels will be limited to the streets of Sydney and beaches of the Northern Shores. It could be worse!