Where in the world is Shan? An October update
Hello there! It’s me, Shannon, the hands down worst travel blogger ever, considering I haven’t posted anything about my travels in a HOT second.
I would try to make the excuse that I’ve been traveling and adventuring, too busy soaking up all the experiences, but yes, that’s what travel bloggers are supposed to do -and then they WRITE about it… yep. Still need reminders to complete the second half. So very sorry, but consider this post my apology, and buckle your seat belts because we are about to go high-speed-European-bullet-train through my past month to catch you up.
Week of September 30th to October 6th: Copenhagen (and mom!!)
Got back from Barcelona on Sunday night and lived the usual Copen-life going to class, eating cinnamon rolls, and all the good things until Thursday when none other than the world’s greatest mother (my hero and yours) ladies and gentlemen, THE Susan Flynn, arrived in Copenhagen.
aaaanddd the crowd went wild. She met me after class and we went to Dinner at Müslings Bistro to mark the beginning of my travel week, and our adventures together. The DIS semester schedule includes two travel weeks: one is spent traveling in Europe with your core course, and the other is a free week! Half of students will travel with their class during the first week, while the rest of classes travel the second week and no one has normal classes during either. SO fun! I am traveling with my core course next week, and I couldn’t be more excited.
But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s get back to travel week one. After dinner, I scurried back to my apartment to pack a bag because I was staying with my mom in her hotel for the next two nights, and I couldn’t be more stoked because you know what hotels have?? BATHTUBS.
Yep, I took a bath and yes it was lovely…thanks for asking.
The next day we explored Copenhagen and I took her to all the must-sees. We biked to Christiania, climbed to the top of Church of our Savior, and got pastries at Skt. Peders where mom went on record saying she had the “best chocolate croissant of her life,” so I would call it a successful day.
On Saturday, we hopped on a train to go visit the Louisiana Museum about an hour outside the city. We had so much fun looking at art, and checking out the moon exhibit. On our way back, I took mom to my favorite little nook in the city – Jægersborggade, a trendy street in my neighborhood of Nørrebro. We walked around the shops, drank the best vegan hot chocolate ever, and had dinner at Manfred’s, an organic farm to table restaurant. Dinner was lovely - We both agreed that it was the best sourdough bread we’ve ever tasted, and any meal spent talking with my mom is always bound to be meaningful. This one was no exception! Moms are the greatest.
Week of October 7th to October 13th: Amsterdam, Florence, and the Cinque Terre
Sunday, we were up bright and early to catch a flight to Amsterdam!! Double exclamation points because Amsterdam freakin’ deserves it. I loved that place a whole lot. Some things that we did: took a boat tour on the canals, marveled at the autumn trees bursting into a million colors, walked, visited the Dutch Tulip Museum, also visited the Dutch Cheese Museum, stopped at a floating flower market, toured the Reijks Museum, the Museum of Contemporary art, and the Anne Frank House.
Whew! It was a whirlwind two days, and I loved exploring with my momma. My favorites were the Banksy exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Anne Frank House. My mom and I watched The Diary of Anne Frank the night before going to the house, and it was an incredibly moving experience. After we left, we talked for a long time about the world, how humanity has failed in a lot of ways to treat people with love and respect, and how we can learn from it as a global community – especially now.
On Monday morning, my mom and I headed to the airport to (unfortunately) part ways. We had originally planned to hike the Cinque Terre together for a few days, but her loving presence was needed at home, so our joint adventure was cut short as I boarded my flight to Pisa solo and she hopped on a Plane back to the U.S. Although I was sad to see her go, I was so thankful that she could visit and share my little European life for a few days.
I know what you’re thinking… sooo you just went alone? Yes, and no. The international travel stars aligned in my favor that week and when my mom learned that she had to leave, I quickly texted my friend who was staying in Florence to see if I could visit for a few days. It was the perfect plan: I wouldn’t even need to switch my flights and, lucky for me, my pal Sarah had an extra bed in her Florentine apartment!
Was Florence a success? Well I had three pasta dishes, one authentic Italian panini, four espresso and five gelatos in the span of four days… I will let the data speak for itself. YUM
Although Florence was a silver lining surprise, I still wanted to salvage some of my Cinque Terre adventure. So with the help of my friends Sarah, Delany, and Sophia with whom I was staying, I researched and planned a day trip to the gorgeous Italian coast for Thursday. I hopped on a morning train, and arrived at Monterosso around noon. When I got there, it was raining and the park ranger informed me that all trails in the region were closed due to an unexpected storm. It also appeared that the first two towns – Riomaggoire and Manarola – were super quiet and shut down due to the storm as well. Weird. With three towns still left to explore, and a very functional train system connecting them, I couldn’t be stopped and hopped on over to Corgnilia for some bruschetta and wine. #lunch
As I sat enjoying this amazing carb-fueled meal, the sun decided to come out and I wandered over to the trailhead connecting Corgnilia and Vernazza to see if there was a way I could sneak in a hike. The park ranger said the trails were still closed but “off the record” recommended that I still hike to Vernazza at my own risk to, because it was starting to clear up. OH MAN! I just about danced down that trail because Shanny had her hiking boots on and no rain was gonna stop her.
Y’all it was the MOST beautiful hike. I weaved through vineyards, across seaside cliffs, and under tree branches for about an hour before the colorful roofs of Vernazza came into sight. As I rounded the last bend I was equal parts sad that my hike was over, and excited because I obviously deserved a celebratory gelato for completing my hike. It’s all about balance, ya know?
After enjoying my gelato by the water, I took the train back to Monterosso for dinner. I walked around for a while during sunset, before catching my train back to Florence and decided that when I retire, I will move to the Cinque Terre and become a pasta maker, romance novelist, and proud Italian dog mom. Seems realistic enough, right??
On Friday, I took a train to Rome where I caught a flight back to Copenhagen to spend a nice weekend at “home.” It was a weird feeling, returning to the Copenhagen airport and hopping on the metro, because although I have only lived here for two months (halfway there…WHAT!?), Copenhagen already feels so homey to me. I spent the weekend sleeping, spending lazy mornings drinking coffee and journaling in bed, picking up flowers and produce at the farmer’s market, doing laundry, and preparing to go back to class for the week.
Week of October 14th-20th: Copenhagen and Stockholm
Another week of classes came and went in a flash before it was time to take on my next adventure: DIS Stockholm! Kaitlyn - one of my pals from Vandy - is currently studying at DIS in Stockholm, so we planned a fun weekend visit a few weeks ago.
I took the train after class on Friday, and it was such a beautiful sight. It seemed as if every single tree between Denmark and Stockholm had decided to burst into a million different colors in celebration of fall. I sped by calm and blue lakes, endless forests, and charming Swedish towns while watching a movie and counting down the minutes until I could see my sweet friend. I arrived around dinner time, so we grabbed dinner at Zócalo – Scandinavia’s attempt at Tex Mex.* It was SO good to see Kaitlyn. We spent the night chatting for hours, making cookies in a mug with ice cream on top, and catching up on life abroad.
* This post is dedicated to SATCO, Baja Burrito, Mas Tacos, and Taqueria del Sol, you are so fondly missed. Yeah sure - I miss my friends - but they are just a text or facetime away. I can’t facetime QUESO. Ugh now I am thinking about queso… great job, Shan.
The next morning, I went to Barry’s Bootcamp – a treadmill class that I love to go to in Nashville and Chicago – and it felt like home. (insert mockery about being a basic white girl here) It was a great start to the one of the BEST days abroad so far.
After a quick change, Kaitlyn and I hopped on the Metro, and headed to Hermans; an all you can eat Vegan buffet with an amazing view of the harbor, and dang good chai lattes. After eating our hearts out, we marveled at exhibits in the Fotografiska – Stockholm’s photography museum and stopped for Fika – the Swedish nickname for afternoon tea and cakes.
We ended the day at Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s famous amusement park smack dab in the middle of the city. It was SO fun, y’all. The whole place was decked out for Halloween, and it felt like we were residents of Disney’s Halloweentown as we giggled on roller coasters and ran around the park. We acted like kids in the best way, and stayed until the park closed riding every rollercoaster at least twice and squealing as they dipped and dove in the cold Swedish night.
The next morning, I was up nice and early to catch my flight back to my cozy Copenhagen home. Monday meant it was time to settle back into my weekly rhythm, before heading off to Prague with my core course for travel week.
Oh man, THIS is the life.