This summer I had the pleasure of visiting 3 very different and spectacular cities, Copenhagen, Stockholm and San Francisco, with three very different experiences. It was my third visit to San Francisco, and this last visit reassured my love for it.
My first city was Copenhagen, Denmark, which I arrived mid August. I spent a week there for a specific reason, my yoga teacher Sharath Jois was there teaching for the week. I convinced two of my friends to go with me, Julia, who now lives in Germany and Edie, who lives here in Orlando with me. We rented a 3 bedroom apartment from Airbnb.com which was lovely. You can see our apartment building in the background of this photo, the white building. Below is Julia (on the sofa) and Edie (on the floor) as we lounged around in the late mornings after yoga practice
We had a great time together and it was nice having some friends around to visit the city with. We walked around a lot and visited the markets. We ate all of our meals at home and had a fun time trying to figure out what items were what. Trying to find plant based milk was a struggle, so we just bought regular. Another problem we had was trying to use our credit & debit cards at the shops. Since Europe has been using the chip cards for a while now, they have a difficult time accepting cards without it. It was ok though, I managed to use it when I needed it, and I had no problem accessing the ATMs.
The weather was cool, 70’s during the day and the sun was shining most of the time. We heard that it had been raining all summer and we were lucky to have such nice weather while we were there. From our apartment you could see the roller coaster and high swings circling the amusement park nearby. We decided to buy a week long metro pass that allowed us to use the train as well as the busses to get around, and it was easy to get to our yoga class in the morning, since it was about 10-15 minutes away. One day, on the way home, Edie lost her wallet on the bus. But knowing how friendly the Danes were, we were not worried that she would get it back. Sure enough, the owner of the yoga studio who sponsored Sharath’s visit called to let Edie know her wallet was at the nearest police station. Luckily her yoga entrance card was in her wallet, so they knew who to contact in order to return it.
The folks at Ashtanga Yoga Copenhagen were so helpful the whole week and even planned a boat outing as well as a reception after Sharath’s talk. It was nice to get to meet and hang out with other yogis and discuss where they were from, as well as get advice from locals as what things to see. One place they recommended was the botanical gardens, and since the weather was so nice we headed over there for an afternoon.
People were everywhere and the city was alive with the sunshine. The architecture of the entire city was ornate and classical, like time had stopped when the buildings were built. Although cars crowd the roads, bicycles rule and they have the right of way. The separate, raised bike lanes seemed forever filled with commuters, with most people in their work attire heading to and fro. I hope to go back there someday.
My second city was Stockholm, and I headed there for the second week of my European tour. I took a train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, arriving around 10pm and you could still see the light of sunset on the horizon. This city seemed much more urban than Copenhagen. I took a subway to the place I was to stay for the night before I headed to my weekly rental near were Sharath was teaching his for second week in Scandanavia. This time I was alone. My friends had gone home and I had a studio apartment with a small kitchen in the hip Malmo area of town. The days were long and the skies were bright blue and cloudless. The weather, just what I needed to break from the humid, raining days of a Florida Summer. My adorable studio which I also found on Airbnb, was a few blocks from a large park. As I headed to the park with my Kindle to get some reading done in the gorgeous sunshine, I came across fields of people sunbathing and drinking wine and beer, savoring every moment. I found a partially shaded area near a gazebo where I settled to read for a while.
As I sat, more and more people started to arrive. It was about 7pm and I noticed that the sun wasn’t anywhere near setting. In fact, the sun wasn’t going to set until about 9:45pm. Being curios, I started to wander around the park. Then I saw floods of people arriving, with coolers full of food and drink. There was going to be a free jazz concert and people were setting up for the night. I sat and listened for a short while, the headed back to my apartment to go to bed. I had yoga early in the morning.
The next day I did a bit of grocery shopping for the week. I bought the usual, tomatoes and avocados, as well as a few Swedish items like herring and Swedish cheese and crackers. The herring was out of this world and only cost about $2 a jar. I stuck to eating at home to save money, but had no problem using my credit or debit card as I had in Copenhagen.
Alone in Stockholm, I spent my days walking for miles around the city, visiting the parks and sites like Old Town. The parks seemed like deep woods at times and you would never know you were in the heart of a bustling city.
I am so grateful to have been able to visit a city like Stockholm. And although I would have wished my husband was there with me, it was also nice having the time alone. I have traveled many countries alone, and it helps quiet my mind. I love when I can go see a place and have that experience only for me, with a clear mind and no distractions. But I also knew that as soon as I got back to Florida, it would be off again to another city, this time with my love.
San Francisco! Oh San Francisco! How I love thee. How no other city can compare, your flamboyancy, you diversity, your great big California ways. My brother and sister-in-law live there and they were gracious enough to let us stay with them. When we arrived, early on a Thursday afternoon, we went straight out into the Castro district for some beer and empanadas. Then afterward to bask in the sun of Mission Dolores Park.
Afterward we headed out for some Vegan Mexican food that was to die for. I wish they had a place like that in Orlando. As we walked around the neighborhoods that evening, we admired the murals on the many buildings.
The next morning my husband and I drove down through the Salinas Valley to a wedding in Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obispo. We met up with friends there for the wedding on Saturday night which was held at a vineyard nearby. The moon rose over the outdoor party and we danced the night away.
On Sunday, we drove up Route 1 back to San Francisco. The ride was spectacular and I hadn’t done that since I was a kid, with my family. It was a whole different experience with the one you love. We stopped several times just to look out onto the ocean and we saw a baby whale playing near the shore. It all took my breath away.
We arrived in San Fran around 6pm and headed out for a delicious Indian meal. The next day, Monday, my brother and sister in law let us use their bikes and we set out on the “Epic bike ride.” It was epic, up and down hills, to the Golden Gate Bridge from the Castro and back. My legs were shaking by the time we got home. But the views were able to capture from the bike ride were something I will never forget.
On Tuesday we visited the Sutro Baths, which were built in the late 19th century. They are all but in ruins now, but you can visit a free museum to see what they looked like in all their glory. Afterward they took us to an Asian grocery store where my husband and I bought all the necessities to prepare a farewell dinner for the hospitality we were given.
It was an epic summer, one I will never forget. If fortune comes in travel experiences, then I am the most fortunate.