World cup days in Sarajevo

I'll start the holiday posts with what was the reason that we rushed to Bosnia as soon our studies ended in June - World Cup! After traveling around, cheering for Bosnia in qualifying matches, it felt as a matter of course that if we can't be in Brazil at least we'll cheer from home ground. It didn't quite go as we imagined though... I don't want to open up old wounds by even thinking about the match against Nigeria. Those of you who know, you know. But if we ignore that and focus on the positive... wow. The atmosphere before the first two group matches were over the top. The whole city was full of flags, signs, game jerseys, hats, honking cars. Even the tram was one big Bosnian flag. It was great while it lasted.

Hong Kong Randoms

Hong Kong Nights

Hong Kong at night is amazing, not only because of the neon lights and the illuminated skyscrapers, but also because everything is open very late and there is a huge variety of dining and nightlife options. It is really too bad we didn't have time to experience more of the nightlife. I wanted to visit more clubs and more skybars.

My newfound friend Elton from Hong Kong, that some from our group already knew since he was an exchange student at our school, got to be our guide a few evenings. He took us to Lan Kwai Fong, a street in the city center with hoards of people, bars, loud music and party atmosphere. There was not enough room in all the bars so people was drinking on the street. If you get in the mood for party despite feeling tired and unfresh? Yes.

If you turn through and alley from Lan Kwai Fong you will find this amazing place. Partly indoors and partly outdoors, where everyone sits with hookahs. It was only Western mainstream music which I thought was perfect but everyone may not agree, haha. Elton knew the bartender and gave the whole group free drinks which I also thought was perfect until the next day.

This fabulous picture (awesome quality) is the only one of me from that night and describes my condition quite well. Ridiculously happy with a flashing princess crown on my head all night which is now my favorite souvenir from Hong Kong. Awesome night.


Other nights we sat on this rooftop bar that was near our hostel. Love the combination of high, wobbly bar stools right by a glass railing...

One evening we spent in Mongkok which is located in Kowloon. Mongkok has an insane amount of markets and cheap shopping. There is a whole street with just sneakers (ie real Nike, Adidas, Reebok, etc..) for cheap prices, a whole street with electronics and so on.

And like many times before, we weren't quite careful with where we ate or what we ate. Until one after one started to suffer from food poisoning. Yes, 9 of us 12 fell victim to it, I was of course one of them. We all got sick on different days of different food so there is a big risk of being getting the tourist sickness if you're not careful. Luckily it only lasted one day for all of us. Towards the end of the trip, I ate only rice, crackers and bananas.

The last night we went to Happy Valley, where races are held every Wednesday. Again, awful lot of people and a very lovely atmosphere. None of us really knows anything about horses but most of us still went to bet each round.


And as an appropriate farewell, some of us went up to Victoria Peak the last night for the most amazing view ever.



One of our trips was to Macau. Like Hong Kong, Macau is a Special Administrative Region in China, and was also a colony until the late 90s. Unlike Hong Kong which was a British colony, Macau was a Portuguese, and the traces of colonial times is more obvious here. Looking at the picture you will find the houses and squares in Portuguese style, signs in Portuguese and other elements of the city such as a lot of mopeds. Macau is in general a very strange mix, not only is it a mix of Portugal and China, but throw in some Las Vegas in the mix too. Yes, Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia.

The ferry, or whatever it is (to me it mostly reminded me of a huge jet-ski that flew over the water) takes about an hour from Hong Kong, and you have to go through passport checks like you're visiting another country. 

Ruinas de Igreja de São Paulo is one of the most popular attractions, although it is only a facade. I can imagine that it looks more amazing in good weather (the entire city had probably given me a better impression with better weather, by that time it was raining and I felt most wet and miserable). Too bad.

Men trots sina portugisiska inslag påminner större delen av staden om att det ändå är Kina vi befinner oss i. 

Most smaller streets looked like this, crowded and shabby with balconies that looked like cages. Awesome or terrible - you decide.

And as always, there was a temple to visit, this time the A-Ma Temple.

When we got tired of walking around in the rain, we figured it was time for gambling, and went to Macau's own version of The Venetian. Which is named exactly the same here. Macau may not have as many casinos but they are huge and apparently they make more money than in Las Vegas! The casino part of The Venetian (where you could not photograph) was bigger than any of the ones I saw in Vegas.

The typical indoor sky was there too, of course. After a whole day of rain even a fake-sky felt good. How strange to walk around in a Venice Inspired place in a Las Vegas inspired place in an ex-Portuguese colony belonging to China. Inception?

After being in Las Vegas, Macau didn't quite live up to expectations when it comes to the casino part, despite their large and super luxurious casinos. All hotels are not found in the same place as in Vegas, some large casinos were on a completely different island so we had to go across the bridge. There was only one area that reminded me of a weak copy of Vegas.


But you can't complain about the insides. In MGMs hotel we found this underwater world which has to be one of the craziest indoor environments I've been in! And apparently it is only temporary as they have new themes after a few months.

We had a last drink there before it was time to take the big "jet-ski" back to Hong Kong.

Lantau - Tai O

After Ngong Ping, we took the bus to Tai O, one of the last South Chinese fishing villages on poles. This trip was truly an experience, I've never been in a place that is so different from what I'm used to. The first thing we did was to take a boat trip between the houses, but unfortunately we didn't come far into the village since the water was very low as you may see. We saw more by just walking around afterwards. Recently Instagrams own account added a picture from the same location as the picture above, but with sunset and high tide. A bit jealos, but whatever...

There is a whole network of bridges and piers between the houses, which basically functioned as normal streets where we could walk everywhere. However, I couldn't help feeling that we were trespassing, you almost go through the houses and see into their homes and how they live. It's very fascinating to see how little space and things people need to live.

Some houses looked like huts and others looked like cubes of aluminum. There were quite many that looked like the latter. I read afterwards that it had been a big fire there in 2000, which perhaps explains it.

And then there were some newer houses that look like ordinary villas, although on poles, of course. The white to the left has its own matching zigzag walk to the house. 

Unfortunately I think the village will change a lot in a very short time, they are already building a wide promenade along the water and apparently the government has plans to spend millions to transform the area. Have subsequently read about it and that the residents are protesting. It's incredibly sad if Tai O loses what makes it special, and if Hong Kong loses it's last traditional fishing village.

As darkness began to fall, we took the ferry back to Hong Kong. It's difficult to imagine that this also began as a fishing village not too long ago.

Lantau - Ngong Ping

We went to Lantau, the largest island located west of Hong Kong Island. Very mountainous and beautiful scenery but unfortunately we were not lucky with the weather. Almost every day we were there it was very foggy, as was this day. Too bad because we certainly missed out on stunning views. But we saw a lot else! We took the train to the island (the airport is also here so there are good connections) and then the cable car Ngong Ping 360, which took us over the mountains to Ngong Ping.

You could choose between going  with a regular car and a "Crystal Cabin" with glass floors. The brave ones took the latter! Totally worth an extra buck, the glass was very clear and it took a while before I actually dared to stand on it. 

The whole trip took 25 minutes and we went high up above the mountain peaks. The higher up, the more fog. On some occasions there was so much fog that everything around us was just white, white and white. Like I said, it was unfortunate because we didn't see the view, but the fog was actually pretty cool too.

Once in Ngong Ping, we came to what looked like a small Chinese village, a pretty touristy one with souvenir shops and Starbucks. It was surprisingly a lot of people up here, all the way to the monastery and the huge Buddha.

These breathtaking stairs (literally, my breath was gone after half the way) leads up to the 34 meter high Buddha, one of the world's largest. Which you can't even see here because of the fog! I was a little shocked when it suddenly appeared before me, it was bigger than I expected. So you could say that the fog worked as a cool, mysterious effect. Heh.


Kowloon is one of Hong Kong's three main areas (the other is Hong Kong Island, where we stayed, and New Territories which is north of Kowloon). Between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island you have to take the ferry or the train for a few minutes. Otherwise it's not much difference between them, at least not if you compare with the part closest to the water, Tsim Sha Tsui. It's still a lot of high buildings and a lot of people.

Unfortunately, the day we explored Kowloon where the day when we had the least strength and I wasn't very active with the camera. After a night of partying and free drinks all night (more about that later), it was a miracle that we even got up. We took every opportunity we got to sit down and rest. I even fell asleep for a moment on this patch of grass. By the way, across the water you can see the Hong Kong Island.

At the end of Tsim Sha Tsui, closest to Hong Kong Island, you will find the cultural center and a large area with museums. My guidebook described the cultural center as "one of the century's greatest architectural disasters" because of the huge buildings (don't have a picture of the whole thing) which is without windows despite having the best location in Kowloon by the water.

Aside from the cultural center Hong Kong lacks culture in the way that we are used to in European cities. Museums, parks, squares and activities that belong to these places, there is not as much of. Their biggest "activity" is shopping, and eating out. Shopping and dining you can find everywhere, in every corner of the city.

Therefore, it was quite fun to walk around in this area and see for example this contest that was going on in traditional Chinese dance(?) with a big audience. It was not until I saw this that I realized how little of this kind of public activity we had seen, when "something is happening" that people gather around.

Kowloon Park is the second exception, a very large and beautiful park in the middle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Didn't have time to check out the whole park but sat here for a while and ate my food from McDonald's.

And this is the stunning view of Hong Kong Island at night. We gladly took the ferry back instead of the subway. As I said, I was very bad with the camera that day so I haven't really done the area justice with this post, but this will have to do.

CUHK School of Architecture

We went to Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to visit the School of Architecture as you can see above. It is one of two architecture schools in Hong Kong. As in Tokyo, it was great to see the similarities with our own school. First of all, concrete seems to be a standard for many architecture schools... This one is, however, a bit nicer than our lump of concrete in Stockholm.

We were welcomed by a professor who were also our guide earlier in the day when we were visiting Nan Lian Garden and the surrounding area. He invited us to look at the presentations that was going on during our visit. It was a very good opportunity to get an insight into what they are doing and how their teachers are.

It was the fourth-year students who presented and it wasn't yet completed projects, but it was still interesting to see a part of the process. And the presentation and criticism was in English luckily for us. So much fun to see how similar it is to our criticism! Only on the other side of the world.

We also got to see their studios... We're not the worst, woho! And yes, for those of you who have never seen a studio in an architecture school, this mess is completely normal, if not worse just before project submission. Maybe you can understand why I don't always feel comfortable in an environment like this when I'm used to having it clean and tidy around me.

I was more jealous of their roof, though. This should be a standard for all architecture schools. Imagine the parties you can arrange up here. The view is also Hong Kong in a nutshell - sea, mountains and high buildings.

Nan Lian Garden

There are not many parks in Hong Kong, but the ones we visited were very beautiful. I discovered during my stay in Tokyo that I love Buddhist temples and gardens, as well as this Chinese Nan Lian Garden which is located a bit outside the center of Hong Kong. The special thing about this one is that it is surrounded by highways, yet it is very quiet and peaceful. And of course the contrast with all the high buildings in the background - because it's Hong Kong.


London calling to the faraway towns

My first time in London, and I loved it! I really don't know why my expectations weren't that high, but I was pleasantly surprised. We didn't have the best weather every day, but great company made up for it. I really wished we had more time, there is so much to do! We only had time to get to know the city a little bit, and see the most common tourist attractions. If you besides touristing and New Years celebration want to go to museums and shop til you drop, you definitely need more than three days. As a consolation, London is among the cities that are easiest to get to from Stockholm, I'll be back!

Happy New Year from London!

Happy New Year!!! I hope everyone feels happy and satisfied with their New Year celebration! I had an absolutely fantastic end to 2013, in London! We stood in front of the London Eye with hundreds of thousands other people, counting down the time with the help of Big Ben! I always wanted to celebrate New Years with a really good firework show at midnight (I love fireworks!!!) and now I can finally cross that off my bucket list. Ten minutes felt like ten seconds though, I can hardly believe I was there when I see the video. Watch the end of the show, it's bloody BRILLIANT!


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!

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!

Random from Barcelona

Barcelona in B&W


Barceloneta Beach

One of the most wonderful moments in Barcelona was at the beach, even though it's November, even though it's too cold for swimming and sunbathing. That maybe made the whole experience even better, an empty beach is always much more peaceful and beautiful. We sat there for a long while, just enjoying the moment. We haven't felt where that special scent of the sea that we are used to from summers in Croatia in a long time, it just wasn't the same thing in the U.S. The water here was even warmer than the Pacific in August. It hurt a bit when I realized how much I've missed exactly this, exactly this scent, this sound and this color of the sea. I need my annual dose of this.

Gaudi's Barcelona

The architect Antoni Gaudi is almost a saint in Barcelona, you will notice it whether you are interested in architecture or not. He has left traces all over the place. He is the one behind Sagrada Familia, Parc Guëll and the mosaic pattern that can be found on all sorts of gadgets in the souvenir shops. Whether you think his work is beautiful or not - he's a freakin' genius.

Casa Batlló is one of his most famous buildings. Although I have seen it, and Casa Mila, on pictures many times, I thought they were cooler in real life. All his works have so much detail that is best experienced IRL. He certainly had no lack of imagination.

We also visited Casa Mila, or La Pedrera, which is not far away. You could go up on the roof (which looked like some sort of park with sculptures), visit the exhibition in the attic and go into a museum apartment.

Next day we went to Parc Güell, the park with probably the most beautiful view of Barcelona. And the park with the crazy houses, the mosaic lizard, lot of stairs and even more organic shapes. I understand why it's on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage, I have never seen anything like it. I love the mosaic.

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