Trips in 2014: A day in Gdynia.

After a lot of ifs and buts we ended up going to Poland on Friday evening as planned. Mum got a call from the ferry company a week earlier and was told that the ferry we (i.e. Per and I plus my whole family except for Cissi), had tickets for was going to be cancelled. At first they said we wouldn't be able to travel that night at all but then a few days later we learned that another one of their ferries would be operating and that we could go on that instead. The problem was that it wasn't one of their regular cruise ships but a cargo-ship. Yeah, fun. If it hadn't been a special occasion we would have waited and travelled later but as it was we decided to go. It was only one way after all, on the way home we'd go on a regular cruise ship.

I'd be lying if I said the journey was pleasant. At one point I looked around myself in disbelief and couldn't believe I was spending my Friday night stuck on a cargo-ships in the middle of the Baltic Sea with my family and oh I don't know, about two hundred truckers. Oh and we didn't have our own bathroom in our cabins, eww. To make matters even worse we were forced to wake up just after five. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. But, there was a bar, albeit tiny, which made the whole ordeal somewhat less insufferable. (There was one brand of white wine and one of red, other than they mostly served beer and whiskey, which says a lot about the nature of their usual clientele haha.)

Finally, at half seven in the morning we reached our destination. We caught a cab downtown and walked around for a bit because it was too early to visit grandma straight away. The weather was lovely and it definitely felt like spring. I got to see the city's landmark fountain for the first time since it was renovated, but of course it isn't turned on at this time of year.

After having some coffee we met up with Cissi who'd arrived a few days earlier and caught the bus to where grandma lives. There was some initial confusion about the cake mum had ordered but finally we managed to locate it. The whole reason we made the journey was to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday so not bringing a cake would have been rather anticlimactic haha. Grandma was very happy to receive so many guests at once and said she'd never had a birthday celebration like this before. The sweet staff of the retirement home where she lives had prepared a room for us with a pretty table cloth and balloons and everything.

After a couple of hours it was time to say goodbye again, which is always a sad moment. We spent the rest of the day walking around downtown and shopping at the large new mall that opened last year which I hadn't been to yet. Finally in the evening we had dinner at the Indian restaurant we tend to frequent whenever we go to Poland these days, and then we had to catch a cab back to the ferry terminal and board the ferry. This time around there was plenty to do onboard and we got a really nice cabin, but unfortunately our psycho neighbour kept us awake most of the night because he was trying to break into his (or his friend's?) cabin using what sounded like an iron rod. Yeah, I can't even. Needless to say we were very tired when we got home on Sunday morning and spent most of the day just hanging out at home doing nothing. I am so grateful that we came home during the weekend and not on a workday like we have in the past. Going to work after two nights of next to no sleep would have been torture.

All in all the actual journey was pretty awful but seeing how happy grandma was to have us all there made it worth it. I am so glad that our schedules aligned so we could all visit her at once. It's a memory I'll always cherish ♥

Trips in 2014: A long weekend in London.

We caught the train at six in the morning on Friday (which meant I had to get up before five - ugh) and arrived at our hotel in west London at 4 in the afternoon. Throughout the day I was feeling increasingly worse. I thought it was just due to tiredness but by the evening all I could do was lie in bed feeling ill with a fever. I left Per and his parents at the nearby pub with my untouched food. Food poisoning, I guess, although I don't know what I ate that nobody else ate. Fortunately it went away later in the evening and I was able to fold out my map of central London on the bed and draw up our plan for the next two days. Since this was Per's first time in the big city I wanted to fit in as many sights as we could manage.

When I woke up on Saturday my appetite was still not great but other than that I felt fine. We actually woke up around six because we'd gone to bed at nine local time, so we were out and about by eight o'clock. I guess the one hour time difference turned me into a morning person, how convenient.

Our first stop of the day was Buckingham Palace. On our way there we took some obligatory red phone booth photos. Of course we had to what with it being Per's first time seeing them and all. I enjoyed having an excuse to be extra touristy this time around.

Finally, Buckingham Palace...

Then we walked along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, and its blue German cock (?). So random. From there we walked across Leicester Square where I got to reminicense about my celeb-stalkery past (I saw Hugh Grant there once! And Leonardo DiCaprio!). Waiting for hours in the cold and rain to catch a glimpse of someone famous, those were the days haha. Next up was the nearby Piccadilly Circus, and from there we walked along Regent Street to Oxford Circus, and of course I couldn't walk past Hamleys without stepping inside for a little while.

Not far from Oxford Circus I found a pink mailbox that I obviously had to pose alongside. I also found the cutest bag at Accessorize, but I didn't buy it then for some reason. I did end up buying it at the Accessorize at the airport on our way home though, at the very last minute before our gate closed. It will make a perfect overnight bag to replace my old worn one.

It's funny because when I planned out our day I figured it'd be late by the time we made it to Oxford Circus, but it was actually just around noon. I don't know what I was thinking? But it was great, it meant we could catch a red bus (Per's first ride time riding one) down to Westminster to get a closer look at Big Ben. It really is my favourite sight in London, it's so pretty.

We walked across the river and had lunch at The Slug and Lettuce near the London Eye. We had tickets to go on the London Eye (well, Per and I did) but the lines were quite long so we decided to go on it on Sunday. Instead we went over to the Tower and walked across Tower Bridge. The weather was pretty erratic all day, mostly sunny with some brief showers every now and then, but just when we were right in the middle of Tower Bridge it started to rain heavily and we got completely soaked. If we'd just waited a few minutes it would have passed, but of course we didn't know that. We went to Borough Market to dry up a bit and after that we headed back to the hotel.

On Sunday we went to the London Eye as soon as it opened. There were hardly any lines that early so we got to go on it in no time. It'd been almost ten years since I went on it last so it was definitely about time I did it again. Especially now that I actually own a camera, unlike last time.

Once we were back on the ground again we walked arcross the Millenium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral and from there we got a bus to Covent Garden. We had fish and chips for lunch (I was finally feeling well enough for fried food) and then I met up with and did some shopping on Oxford Street. It was our first time meeting since we went to NYC six years ago and I sure hope it won't be that long until we meet again. In the evening I met up Per and his parents at Harrods and then it was time to go back to the hotel again.

We left after breakfast on Monday morning and made it home by nine in the evening. This trip has made us reconsider which airport we travel from and I think we will start looking for flights from Stockholm in the future, with a connecting flight from Kalmar. Travelling from Copenhagen just doesn't make as much sense for us anymore. Spending the whole day travelling when the flight is just a few hours is just too much of a waste of time.

Other than the long journey and my getting sick, it was a great trip. I worried that the weather in London would be bad in February but it was a pleasant surprise, very spring-like and more sunshine than we've had here in what feels like months. All in all I think this trip was the perfect introduction to London for Per. He really loved it and we hope to go back to England again within the not too distant future.

Life lately: January 2014.

Watching | January's weather meant staying in a lot, which in turn meant that we had time to watch quite a few films. My favourites were Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann that we watched at the cinema next door, and the adorable Frozen.

Listening | Ever since watching Frozen I've been listening to the soundtrack on repeat most of the time. You can catch both Per and I singing Do You Wanna Build a Snowman on the most random occasions. Other than that, we've rediscovered Dixie Chicks in the past week after watching some TV show about country music. I'd forgot how great their music is.

Consuming | Mostly homecooked meals and the occasional baked goods - grey and rainy weekend days are the perfect occasion for baking.

Reading | The Boy from Baby House 10, such a heartbreaking book. I finished two other books in January, this and this. I really enjoyed them both.

Visiting | My aunt yesterday to celebrate my cousin Ella's 12th birthday.

Enjoying | Noticing that the days are getting longer, despite the dreary weather.

Making | Countless watercolour versions of my Instagram photos using the brilliant app Waterlogue (such as the one above of our first tulips of the year).

Looking forward to | Going to London on Friday and Poland later this month. And visiting Jenny in her new apartment that she is moving into this week.