The beginning of the year seemed brighter than usual. There was so much to look forward to that time just flew by. As usual in that period, there were a lot of birthday celebrations, including my 21st birthday. We celebrated Walpurgis Night in Uppsala, where we had a few more great nights. Besides all that, and studies, I put a lot of time into planning and dreaming about the upcoming trip to the United States.

The summer was one of the hottest in a long time. I finished my second year of the architecture program and started working after that until mid-July. But there was still time to barbecue with friends, have fun nights out, lie in the sun and even go swimming which I rarely do in Sweden. On the other hand, it was a long time ago I was here whole July. I made a short trip to Norrköping with some friends for Zeljko Joksimovics concert, I also went to Beyonce's concert, celebrated even more birthdays and got a new hobby with my boyfriend and brother - fishing.

In June, we also went on a supporter trip to Riga where Bosnia met Latvia in World Cup qualifiers. We went by ferry, which meant three days of Bosnian party. We won the match and as usual, we took over the whole city. What made this trip extra great was that we were so very many, both in our group and all the supporters, and it was summer which made the mood even better.

August was spent on the other side of the Atlantic, travelling from city to city in the United States. I fell in love with the world's best city, New York, biked across the Golden Gate in San Francisco, drove along the incredible Highway 1, stalked celebrities in Los Angeles, lied on the beach in San Diego, gambled in Las Vegas and flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. Best trip ever, and probably the one I will always associate with 2013.

In October, we once again went on a supporter trip to Kaunas, Lithuania, where Bosnia played it's last and final qualifier game. I got to witness the historic moment when we scored, won the game and was officially qualified to the World Cup in Brazil, for the first time. Also something I always will remember this year by.

I surprised my boyfriend with a weekend trip to Barcelona in October. We got to enjoy a late summer there. It was the first time for me in this amazing city. We walked on the beach, ate tapas, looked at Antoni Gaudi's work and just enjoyed getting away from reality for a while.

Besides the trips I've been on, I have been pretty bad with the camera the rest of the fall. I have started my third year at the architecture school where we have worked with urban planning, I have cut my hair short, been on some fun festivities, celebrated my brother's 18th birthday and started missing the snow that still haven't come to Stockholm. All in all, a wonderful year, I'm so grateful for everything and for the people in my life. As long as they are around me, I am sure that next year will be just as great. However, this year is not yet over and will end in a way that I think can't be a more appropriate... with a little trip.

Las Vegas - Grand Canyon

The highlight of our stay in Las Vegas was definitely the helicopter tour to Grand Canyon! We had planned to take the bus or rent a car again, but we questioned whether it was worth it when we realized that we would spend twelve hours travelling through the desert back and forth, just for a few hours by the canyon. Going by helicopter seemed way too expensive, but we decided that if we at least won half of the money (since we were going to Las Vegas...) we would take the helicopter. And won we did! Also, we were very lucky that there were two places left since the helicopters are usually booked a week or more in advance! Instead of travelling for six hours we arrived in only 45 minutes, we flew over Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, the west rim and landed in the canyon where we got picnic and champagne. We were also picked up and dropped off by limousine. In retrospect, we felt stupid for even hesitating, win or not - it was worth every penny! It must be experienced to understand how awesome it is, but the pictures still say a lot.

This post ends the story of our U.S. trip (four months later) because shortly after we were once again in the air, on our way home to Sweden. New York, San Francisco, Highway 1, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in one month is definitely among the best we've ever done! There is so much to experience that even month felt like just tasting. And it really opened our appetite for similar trips in other parts of the world. If you ever feel like doing something like that, start to save money, plan the trip and go, it's really worth it!

The city of Sin

Las Vegas. Our final destination on our trip through U.S. was a city we couldn't miss since we were "in the neighbourhood". Unfortunately, we weren't the ultimate Las Vegas visitors. After a month of travelling, we were very exhausted and to go to Vegas without partying almost feels like a sin, but we really lacked the energy. The desert heat didn't make it easier. Luckily we could see most of what's worth seeing in a short time since all the famous hotels and casinos are located along one street, the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas is pretty much like I had imagined. Slot machines, neon lights, drunk people everywhere and a lot of tackyness. Even the airport is tacky, it's carpeted and there's slot machines everywhere. It feels like something you have to see, but a few days is more than enough.

For each city we visited, we worked our way up in housing standards. From a small room with a few square meters in New York City to Las Vegas, in a room as big as an apartment. And yet the room in New York was more expensive, which says a lot about how cheap it is with hotels in LV. The room was, as everything else, a bit tacky with carpeted floors, red leather furniture and a TV in every room (including the bathroom (!)), But we didn't complain...

... Especially not when the bed was the softest we've ever slept in and we had a jacuzzi right next to it. It's Las Vegas...

Our hotel was connected to the Miracle Mile Shops. The shopping mall has, in true Vegas spirit, a fake sky. A lot of places in Vegas are designed so it doesn't matter whether it is day or night. The important thing is that you are wasting money all the time.

Planet Hollywood Casino is also connected to the Miracle Mile Shops. You can just go in and go through all casinos as you want (but you have to show ID when playing) and the casinos are located everywhere. After three days in Vegas I never wanted to see a slot machine again.

... Except this one in Caesars Palace's casino, which has to be the best slot machine ever! You could play together and choose the different characters in Sex and the City! Even I would throw my money at this. Luckily there was always a group of women filling the seats.

As you may know, most hotels have different themes, like Caesars Palace, New York, Paris, The Venetian and so on, and around them there are entire environments constructed. At times it was impressive, but mostly it just felt... fake. But A for effort. We may also have been difficult to impresse after everything we had seen and done.

The fountain show outside the Bellagio was definitely one of the highlights. Every half an hour it goes off to the beat of the music. Very beautiful!

Nighttime is Vegastime, during the day we just tried to survive the heat. We were there in August and I don't even exaggerate when I say that it felt like 50 degrees when you stood on the street. The only thing we could do was to lie in the pool. 

We didn't do some things that I had wished, like booking a really good show in advance, try the attractions on top of the Stratosphere and go to Las Vegas Premium Outlets, but as I said, we really lacked the energy. After everything we've seen in a month, we also felt that it didn't matter as much if we spent half a day in bed with Chinese food and sitcoms. We did however do something that was absolutely the best thing we did during our stay in Las Vegas, which I'll write about in the next post!

Linje 17

Few people in Sweden have missed the events in Kärrtorp, both last week when protesters were attacked by nazis, and yesterday when 16,000 more people gathered for the demonstration 2.0. There were also alot of demonstrations in other cities around Sweden to show support, and even outside the country. To see so many people made me incredibly proud. This is why I love Sweden, this is Sweden in my eyes. Despite the fact that it stills happens things that require demonstrations like these, and even though there is a xenophobic party in the parliament which is growing, I have strong confidence that most of the population will never let racism and nazism take a greater place in this society. It's important not to let racism get normalized, which is why demonstrations such as these are of great value - also to remind narrow-minded people what my beloved Sweden really is.

Embarcadero to Balboa

My boyfriend and I decided to explore Downtown properly when the others started their studies. We had mostly been there nighttime and on the beaches at daytime. Now we could explore it at our own pace, which was a bit more difficult when we were five. I didn't know as much about San Diego as previous cities during our USA trip, but there is a lot to see and do in San Diego too!

First we crossed Coronado bridge to Coronado to check out the view. Half the island is filled with luxurious houses, while the rest is still a military base. I understand that San Diego has been historically important and still is for the United States Navy, but come on, such a central location, surrounded by water that can be seen from all sides? *hurts my architectural eye*. Anyway, it was cloudy so we turned back to Downtown pretty quickly.

We walked along the Embarcadero, harbor area, where you will find the USS Midway in the middle of everything, an aircraft carrier that is now a museum. History is always interesting so we made a visit. It is crazy big and it's crazy what people build for war.

The best part of the whole visit was the flight simulator! You sit two and two, one being the pilot and other trying to shoot down the other planes on the screen. We were being thrown around in all directions because my boyfriend is such a sucky pilot (sorry babe). It really felt like we fell. I thought I would feel ill but I cried with laughter when we hung upside down, while my boyfriend came out all green in the face, haha.

Up on the huge deck, there were a lot of combat airplanes  and helicopters, and some of them you got to fly. Just kidding. You got to sit.

Afterwards we went to a mall in the middle of Downtown that looked like a fun house with all the walkways and stairs in pastel colors. Nordstrom and Macy's lies in each end. In other words, you can spend quite a lot of time here. We stayed for a few hours and ate at...

... Panda Express! Open restaurants in Sweden, NOW! Their orange chicken must be among the most delicious I've tasted of "asian food". My life will not be complete until McDonald's cookies and Panda Express come to Sweden.

We stayed in the shopping center a little longer than planned and arrived quite late to Balboa Park which was a shame as it's a huge beautiful park right in town, with a lot we didn't have enough time to see. We really wanted to visit San Diego Zoo, which is also located there, before it closed. Foolishly we didn't realize it would be dark before closing, but we made a visit anyways with a guided tour and we saw all sorts of animals. Elephants, giraffes, polar bears, koalas, pandas - you name it. And many animals were more active during the evening (as consolation). The few pictures I took was poor, however.

We ended the visit with a cable car ride over the zoo. I believe we were among the last to leave the park.

Point Loma

Point Loma is a peninsula that separates San Diego from the Pacific Ocean and a historically important place. They say it was here where the first Europeans in the area arrived. There's a monument, a visitor center, a famous lighthouse and whale lookout (they are unfortunately most likely to see in January and February). However, we were most impressed by the environment and the view - ocean as far as the eye can see. A little further north are the Sunset Cliffs where a lot of young people gathered to jump from the cliffs. We couldn't help but join the crowd.

San Diego Nightlife

If you're gonna party American style you can't do it without the red cups! Unfortunately, we weren't on a typical American college party but I still have a few years before I get too old to cross that of my checklist. We atleast got to pre-party with some nice Americans... which later turned out to be not so nice. And we tried out San Diego's nightlife... which turned out freakin' awesome! I don't know if it was because it was summer, but the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown was really packed with young people the whole evening, and everything at street level seemed to be either clubs or bars. We tried a few places during the nights we went out, don't really remember what they were called and didn't take as much photos as usual, but I have a few to post!

Sun, sand and San Diego

San Diego. Last stop on our road trip through California was in this beautiful and sunny city. Long beaches, relaxed people and awesome nightlife is a good summary. One week was plenty of time get into a San Diego mode ourselves and rest after all tourism in previous cities. We lived with Erna and Alex on their campus, one day later, Melisa also came to visit from Vermont and we were suddenly a whole bunch.

We spent several mornings at the pool at SDSU's campus (not something we have in universites in Sweden...). Great way to start the day in that desert heat, and you did not have to take your car there. San Diego is by the way also very car friendly, although not as bad as LA.

Other days we hung out on the beaches. We went to La Jolla (above) one day, a more luxurious area in San Diego with all beach villas. However, I didn't like the beach here as much as those closer to town, like Pacific Beach (below) which is much larger and more happenings.

I suppose that you are well aware of my love for cookies, especially soft, american, cookies... Check this out: Cookie + icecream with cookie dough + cookie. Died. Atleast my stomach died a little after half of that. Erna, you know what to bring home to me.

San Diego borders to Tijuana in Mexico, if you didn't know. I have a pretty good knowledge of American geography, so shame on me that I didn't know that San Diego is larger than San Francisco, San Diego at 8th place, while San Francisco is on the 14th(!). Anyway, one afternoon we took the car to a large outlet mall which is located on the border to Mexico. You could basically throw a rock over the wall. It was really appealing to drive over to Mexico, but we couldn't take the risk if with trouble getting back into the United States. Anyone who has been to Tijuana? Should we've turned left?

When life gets you wrapped up

Long time no see. I think. I have had very poor concept of time recently. When the weekends are just a blurr and some days are way too long, it's hard to keep track of what was two days ago and what was two weeks ago. Now, however, I can return to a non-stressful and more social life since the urban project finally is over! I can't say that it has been as stressful as usual because we were able to distribute the workload on three people, but just the fact that we for the first time are working on a project in a group can be energy-consuming since you have to compromise, check every decision with the group, keep track of what the others do, adjust your time and so on. But it has, however, gone well and yesterday we had criticism and a project-is-over-celebration afterwards. I will post the project later when I changed some details and adapted the layout a bit more after my own style.

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