[Travel] Stockholm Travel Guide (Sweden)

/ Monday, May 14, 2018
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and we visited it earlier in 2017 for a 10 days vacation. The trip to Stockholm was a spontaneous booking, and we had no prior plans to visit the city. While there, we also flew to Venice, Italy for a 3 day trip as well. I absolutely love how cheap air travel is within Europe. While the flight itself was cheap, Stockholm was an incredibly expensive (up until we visited Iceland in November that same year) place to visit.


Stockholm is not a budget friendly destination, as the standard of living is exceptionally higher than North America. We weren't in complete shock of the prices there, as I did meticulous research before our travels so I was expecting it.



How many days should I stay in Stockholm? I would recommend at least 4-5 days to get the most out of Stockholm.

Sim Card - Sweden is known for being very expensive, but the local SIM cards were super affordable. We got a 5 gigabyte sim from Comviq for only $15 CAD.

Credit Cards - Cash is not King in Stockholm! We never bothered to convert our USD dollars (we always convert USD on our trips, never Canadian) into Swedish krona as Sweden is a cashless society. A large majority of shops and restaurants take credit card, so there was no point in using cash at all. Even the hot dog stands take credit cards.  

Transportation - The quickest way into town from the airport is by taking the Arlanda Express. It took 20 minutes to reach Stockholm Central station (280 SEK, $41.51). Stockholm is quite easy to explore on foot, but they do have comprehensive subway and bus routes. If you're taking public transportation, then I highly recommend that you get a SL Access card. The card costs 20 SEK, and you keep refilling it with money on it.

Taxi - We took a taxi to dinner one night (after a long day at one of the archipelago islands), and the fare ended up being pretty high for a 30 minutes ride. Be sure to check the black and yellow price sticker on the rear window, as some operators may try to rip you off.



Gamla Stan - The area is also known as "Old Town" and is one of the best preserved medieval city centers in Europe. You’ll find plenty of attractions, restaurants and bars in the area as well.



Kungsträdgården - Kungsträdgården is a park in central Stockholm, Sweden

 Stockholm Archipelago - The Stockholm archipelago is a cluster of some 30000 islands, and the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea.



Swedish Museum of Natural History - The Swedish Royal Museum of Natural History is one of two major museums of natural history in Sweden. Admission to the museum is completely free, but if you want to view the special exhibit Cosmonova, it's 120 kr per adult.


Cafés - Taking a break for coffee is a Swedish tradition, commonly called fika in Swedish. There are plenty of coffee shops around the city.

 Subway Exhibits


 Stockholm City Hall - The Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden.


Popular Food To Try in Stockholm

Meatballs 



Swedish Hot Dog - Korv (Swedish name for a hot dog) is an important staple of the Swedish diet. You can find plenty of food carts on the street selling a large variety of these long hot dog. 



Max Burger 



Alpine Char (Swedish Fish)



Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and we visited it earlier in 2017 for a 10 days vacation. The trip to Stockholm was a spontaneous booking, and we had no prior plans to visit the city. While there, we also flew to Venice, Italy for a 3 day trip as well. I absolutely love how cheap air travel is within Europe. While the flight itself was cheap, Stockholm was an incredibly expensive (up until we visited Iceland in November that same year) place to visit.


Stockholm is not a budget friendly destination, as the standard of living is exceptionally higher than North America. We weren't in complete shock of the prices there, as I did meticulous research before our travels so I was expecting it.



How many days should I stay in Stockholm? I would recommend at least 4-5 days to get the most out of Stockholm.

Sim Card - Sweden is known for being very expensive, but the local SIM cards were super affordable. We got a 5 gigabyte sim from Comviq for only $15 CAD.

Credit Cards - Cash is not King in Stockholm! We never bothered to convert our USD dollars (we always convert USD on our trips, never Canadian) into Swedish krona as Sweden is a cashless society. A large majority of shops and restaurants take credit card, so there was no point in using cash at all. Even the hot dog stands take credit cards.  

Transportation - The quickest way into town from the airport is by taking the Arlanda Express. It took 20 minutes to reach Stockholm Central station (280 SEK, $41.51). Stockholm is quite easy to explore on foot, but they do have comprehensive subway and bus routes. If you're taking public transportation, then I highly recommend that you get a SL Access card. The card costs 20 SEK, and you keep refilling it with money on it.

Taxi - We took a taxi to dinner one night (after a long day at one of the archipelago islands), and the fare ended up being pretty high for a 30 minutes ride. Be sure to check the black and yellow price sticker on the rear window, as some operators may try to rip you off.



Gamla Stan - The area is also known as "Old Town" and is one of the best preserved medieval city centers in Europe. You’ll find plenty of attractions, restaurants and bars in the area as well.



Kungsträdgården - Kungsträdgården is a park in central Stockholm, Sweden

 Stockholm Archipelago - The Stockholm archipelago is a cluster of some 30000 islands, and the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea.



Swedish Museum of Natural History - The Swedish Royal Museum of Natural History is one of two major museums of natural history in Sweden. Admission to the museum is completely free, but if you want to view the special exhibit Cosmonova, it's 120 kr per adult.


Cafés - Taking a break for coffee is a Swedish tradition, commonly called fika in Swedish. There are plenty of coffee shops around the city.

 Subway Exhibits


 Stockholm City Hall - The Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden.


Popular Food To Try in Stockholm

Meatballs 



Swedish Hot Dog - Korv (Swedish name for a hot dog) is an important staple of the Swedish diet. You can find plenty of food carts on the street selling a large variety of these long hot dog. 



Max Burger 



Alpine Char (Swedish Fish)



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 Kyoto is definitely one of Japan's most historical and cultural cities. They are very well-known for being the home of many famous shrines and temples. However, one of the popular attractions that I wanted to visit was the Arashiyama Monkey Park. I didn't have the time to check it out on our first trip, but made sure to visit it on our last trip in December 2016. The monkey park is located in the neighborhood of Arashiyama in the northwestern area of Kyoto. Transportation wasn't too bad, as the train ride from Kyoto Station was about 15 minutes to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station. You can also take the Hankyu line to Arashiyama station


Before going up to the monkey park, you would need to pay the entrance fee. It costs ¥550 per adult. Be sure to wear good walking shoes and bring water, as the hike up the mountain side took about 30 minutes. I wasn't expecting the hike, but it was a very welcoming surprise. Despite it being in mid-December, I was sweating on the steep hike up so it wasn't very cold when I finally arrived at the top.


The park consists of 120 snow monkeys and they are native to Japan. The monkeys themselves are still wild, so don't look them in their eyes or else they might attack you. There are plenty of signs displayed on this tidbit throughout the park.



There is also an enclosed feeding area located indoors, where you can feed the monkeys by hand. The apple bits weren't very expensive, and I believe it was about 150 yen for a bag. 


 Rules To Abide:

1) Don't stare into the monkeys' eyes. They consider it as a sign of a threat and some of them become aggressive.
2) Don't touch the monkeys. Like other wild animals, the monkeys hate being touched and feel stress.
3) Don't feed them outside the hut surrounded by a wire netting.


This photo was taken using the burst mode on my iPhone, so I didn't look at the monkey directly in the eye for long. The monkey turned its head towards my direction, so I looked away quickly.




Up on top, you also get a gorgeous view of Kyoto, as the top reaches 525 feet above sea level.  





Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama

Hours: Open everyday. 9:00 am ~ 5:00 pm
Location: 8 Arashiyama Genrokuyama-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 616-0007, Japan

As a young professional, my life can get pretty busy and I don't always have time to prepare a healthy meal. So I was open to adding Nutribar to my lifestyle. The  bars are individually packaged, nutritious and filling. They like to call it "nutrition on the go", as the bars do contain a good source of fiber and omega-3 polyunsaturates.

NUTRITION ON THE GO.BECAUSE LIFE IS BUSY.


They have a variety of flavors with their Nutribar Original brand. These bars are meant to be meal replacements, and balanced for protein, carbohydrates and fat, and are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, to give you all the nutrients you need in a complete meal. Some flavors include Belgian chocolate, creamy caramel, deep brownie delight, oatmeal raisin and more.

These bars are particularly handy, as I can quickly grab one on the go. It also satisfied my hunger for more than the estimated 5 hours before I crave for a full-portioned meal. 


However, if you're looking to increase your protein intake while delivering a balance of nutrients that you need in a meal. Then I'd recommend the Nutribar High Protein meal replacements, which comes in 6 different flours. Please note that meal replacement products can help you lose weight if you use them consistently and correctly. It's not a for sure method of losing weight.

I was able to try many flavors and the ones I liked best were the Chocolate Fudge, Cranberry Crunch and Chocolate Truffle. See the trend? I liked chocolate flavors a lot. Additionally, each bar contain at least 260 calories, 1.3 gram of protein and 3 g of fibre which helped to subside my hunger during my busy work days. 


GIVEAWAY TIME

Enter to win FIVE cases ($60 worth) of Nutribar Meal Replacement Bars. Contest is open to all Canadian residents (excluding Quebec), and will end on 04/27/2018 (Friday).


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Disclaimer: This is a post in collaboration with Nutribar. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

[Giveaway] Nutribar

by on Wednesday, April 18, 2018
As a young professional, my life can get pretty busy and I don't always have time to prepare a healthy meal. So I was open to adding  N...
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a media dinner hosted by The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Personally, I have been to Florida before, but only to Orlando for Disney World and Miami. So, I was glad to attend the event, as I learned a lot about Greater Fort Lauderdale and what it has to offer as a tourist destination. 

  Greater Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a “beach chic” vibe. The city is also home to near-endless sunshine as they get an average of 3,000 hours of annual sunshine. Perfect weather to soak in the sun, while enjoying the city's balmy breezes, tropical nights and warm ocean water. There are many things to do in the area such as dine at one of the thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping. Want to learn more? Check out The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau's website for more information.

Photo Credit: Fred BK

One of my favorite appetizers of the night was the coconut shrimp. Loved it!
 Photo Credit: Fred BK

Greater Fort Lauderdale has since become a hot destination with a lot of amazing sights, activities and food that goes beyond just amusement parks. We got a taste of what Fort Lauderdale has to offer in terms of cuisine, as we were joined by three of Fort Lauderdale's hottest chefs and a world-renowned mixologist who all brought a little of the Florida sunshine to Toronto. It was very much needed as Toronto's weather can be quite fickle.


The guests that evening were as followed:

Chef de Cuisine Paula DaSilva, The Ritz-Carlton
Executive Chef Adrienne Grenier, 3030 Ocean, Harbor Beach Marriott Resort
Chef Christian Cobos, GG’s Waterfront
Jean-Pierre Belonni, Head Bartender, Mixologist, The Ritz-Carlton


Media personnel and bloggers were treated to an array of cocktail pairings and a delectable 3-course dinner at Market Kitchen (inside of the St Lawrence Market). The dinner provided us with a preview of how the food scene in Fort Lauderdale has evolved, and its cocktail scene is also getting more sophisticated as well.

You can check out more of the night festivities at #HelloSunnyTO


The first course was the Spinach Cavatelli - with clam Broth & garlic breadcrumbs by Chef Adrienne Grenier.


The second course was the Sauteed Fish - parsnip puree, corn succotash with homestead Carambola sauce by Chef Paula DaSilva



The night ended off on a sweet note with the Key Lime Pie by Pastry Chef Christian Cobos


We also learned that Fort Lauderdale is such a great cocktail city with plenty of bar and club options. So one can definitely get their drink on!



Here are some facts about Fort Lauderdale before you visit.

Climate: Broward's climate is tropical with an average year-round temperature of 76°F / 25°C and 3,000 hours of sunshine.  Winter temperatures average a mean of 66° F / 19° C; summer, a mean of 84° F / 29° C. January is the coolest month of the year and August is the warmest. The heaviest rainfalls occur during August and September.

Attractions:

Anne Kolb Nature Center -  a 1,430 acre wetland and habitat for native wildlife
        B-CYCLE -- bike sharing program
  Beach Place - a 100,000 square foot entertainment, retail and dining complex on A1A
        Billie Swamp Safari - lets you experience a Seminole Indian reservation in the Everglades via swamp buggy and airboat
       
Everglades Holiday Park - gateway to 750,000 acres of unspoiled Everglades; airboat rides, tours and fishing
     Hollywood Beach Broadwalk - 2.2 mile oceanfront pedestrian promenade which parallels the beach
Xtreme Indoor Karting - South Florida’s fastest indoor karting


Natural Attractions: In addition to Blue Wave beaches and waterways, Broward County has 288parks, 69 miles of live coral reef in a three-tier natural reef system, and the Everglades. Its 100+ artificial reefs and 18 major shipwrecks provide divers with a unique mix of tropical underwater experiences.

Dining and Entertainment: More than 4,000 wining and dining establishments and 132 nightclubs are located in Broward County.

Shopping: Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest discount mall, features the high-end Colonnade Outlets. Other shopping destinations include Seminole Paradise, Festival Flea Market Mall and Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, the largest indoor/outdoor flea market in the South. The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, an upscale shopping mall with stores such as Neiman-Marcus, Michael Kors and Cole Haan, is complemented by traditional Florida shopping avenues such as Las Olas Boulevard, Dania Beach Antique Row and beach boutiques.

Major Annual Events: Some major ones are Orange Bowl (Dec/Jan), Vacation Like a VIP (May-Sept, Turtle Walks (June-July), Fort Lauderdale Family Fun Beachfront Celebration (July 4), Hollywood 4th of July Celebration (July 4), Hollywood Beach Latin Festival (Aug) and Florida Panthers Hockey Season (Oct–Apr) .



Many thanks to The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Resource Media for hosting the event. I had a great time, and learned a lot about Fort Lauderdale.

Social Media:

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Paris has always been on my top 10 places to visit in the world. Prior to our trip, I have heard nothing but good things about the city, and how it was romantic with stunning architectures. It was very enticing! We finally went in September 2015, and that was where my (now) fiancé proposed to me. Cliche? Yes, but I have always wanted it to happen under the Eiffel Tower.


7 reasons to visit Paris, France


The Eiffel Tower:
 
 
The Eiffel Tower is definitely one of Paris' iconic monuments that is synonymous with the city. The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, and is the tallest structure in Paris. Getting there was pretty easy, as it was very accessible using the Paris Metro, as you can get off at Trocadéro (line 9) or Bir-Hakeim (line 6) stations. The walk from either station to the landmark was about 10-15 minutes. We wanted to go to the top of the tower to the observation deck, but the lines were incredibly long that Saturday (I was quoted a 2 hours wait so, no thanks). If you are able to brave through the lines, you'll have views of major Paris landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Seine River, and the Champ de Mars from the top.  

The Palace of Versailles:
 
 The Palace of Versailles is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. It was the home of several generations of monarchies until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and tickets were €15 per adult. 
 
How To Get There: Try to catch the RER-C train before 9 am, so that you can get there before the afternoon crowds. Take the direct train to Versailles Rive Gauche (station).
 
 
There are plenty of beautiful gardens in Paris, but the one that stood out to me was the Gardens of Versailles. It was massive with tons of lush greens and trees. Unlike the Palace of Versailles, the garden grounds are FREE on the weekdays, and I saw plenty of people having picnics and jogging.
 
 
Macarons:
 
  I have a major sweet tooth, so my love for macarons are quite strong. There are several well-known cafes and smaller ones all throughout Paris that sells these delectable sweets. I was able to visit the both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, where I bought a couple of boxes.


Personally, my favorite out of the two brands was probably Ladurée. We ended up getting a few more boxes of macarons to bring back home as souvenirs. I found Paris' customer service to be quite lax and slower than what I am used to in Toronto. There were about 8 people ahead of me at the Charles de Gaulle Airport location, and it took them nearly 35 minutes for them to serve everyone with 3 staffs on hand. Price-wise, it was €17.50 for a box of 6 macarons.

Got a few boxes as souvenirs before we left Paris for Toronto (YYZ).

Up next was a visit to Pierre Hermé who also has multiple locations worldwide, including Hong Kong and Tokyo. The macarons were pretty good, but they were not as sweet as Laduree.

 
The prices of macarons in Paris are significantly more expensive than in Toronto. At Pierre Hermé, a box of 7 macarons was €18.

 
Notre Dame de Paris:

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the symbols of the French Capital along with the Eiffel Tower. 
 
 
Food:

There are endless options when it come to food in Paris. Everywhere you turn there are restaurants, cafes, bistros, and bakeries on all corners.

The Louvre:
 
 
 I enjoy learning about world history, so The Louvre was definitely something that I had to visit during our 5-day visit in Paris. It is undeniably one of the most well-known museums in Europe, as there are plenty of amazing exhibits and artworks here. Tickets are €15.00 each (adult), and the museum is open every day except every Tuesday.
 
 
 TIP: Go through the Carrousel du Louvre underground mall to line up for tickets. I found the lines to be a lot faster, and you'll beat the heat in the summer, and won't freeze outside in the wintertime.
 
I will admit that the infamous Mona Lisa painting was a little disappointing. Not only was it small, but the entire area was insanely crowded with people pushing towards the front. Don't fret - there are plenty of other artworks to be seen in the other wings.
 
 
The Louvre was huge! We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum, and I believe that we only covered about 20% of The Louvre.

 
Cafes and Coffee Culture:
 
The city was bursting at the seams with their abundance of cafés serving caffeinated drinks and pastries. Coffee was introduced to Paris in 1644, and now serves as a center of social life in Paris. The below photo is from our visit to a little cafe situated in the Montmartre area (near Moulin Rouge).