How to Wear Food-Themed Earrings? Part 1

My second tasteful outfit consisted of rainbow lollipop earrings with a simple black dress. But I was quickly bored with wearing black so the two dozen pairs of earrings gathered dust while I brainstormed more colorful solutions…

My recent obsession with food-themed earrings resulted in numerous “just one more” purchases at potvor.cz. This Czech online store opened up a whole new world of accessories for me while presenting a unique challenge: how can I incorporate food-themed earrings into my daily life without alienating friends or getting fired?

Pink ice cream cone earrings were my first experiment. Fortunately, there is no dress code at my office and casual clothing is perfectly acceptable. Paired with a pink top and with black pants, the sweet earrings were a success.

My second tasteful outfit consisted of rainbow lollipop earrings with a simple black dress. But I was quickly bored with wearing black so the two dozen pairs of earrings gathered dust while I brainstormed more colorful solutions.

Several weeks without inspiration and my excitement for the delicious earrings fizzled, turning dress shopping into my new favorite pastime. That was when I discovered the perfect red and white stripy dress. Hoping to wear it to work I tried it on in the morning but realized that even with a plain sweater the dress was a bit too much for the casual environment at my office.

The solution came to me as I admired the red and white color-theme: Kinder Eggs! It had been against my better judgment that I order earrings that would make me crave chocolate every time I saw my reflection. But it was the mini Kinder Eggs saved my wardrobe crisis: they matched my outfit perfectly while dressing it down several notches.

Next challenge: bacon and egg earrings!

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan (Guest Post)

The Children’s Peace Monument (just below) was built in dedication to all the children who died as a result of the bombing. The sculpture is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki (佐々木禎子), a young girl who died after the bombing due to radiation. She truly believed that if she folded 1,000 cranes, then she would be healed…

By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)

One last post from Rachel Kitai about Japan. Please visit her blog to read more about her travels in Japan, Europe and the USA the original post also has some beautiful photos: https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/hiroshima-peace-memorial-park/

Rachel is a traveler and artist, please see her art here: http://rachelkitai.com/

After visiting the Hiroshima Castle, we biked over to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Coopers started by playing a game of keep-away while I photographed them and kept an eye on Alex.

Once we were finished playing, jumping across rocks, and building imaginary forts, we made our way to the center of the Peace Park. Our first stop was the A-Bomb Dome, also named the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Before the bombing, this area was a thriving commercial area and this building, the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, was the only building in the area that remained standing after the bombing. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s currently being audited/checked to ensure that it’s not structurally unsafe. Apparently, four years to the day after the bombing, it was decided to make the downtown area a peace memorial instead of redeveloping it.

There are several other memorials/statues in the area in honor of specific groups of people. The Children’s Peace Monument (just below) was built in dedication to all the children who died as a result of the bombing. The sculpture is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki (佐々木禎子), a young girl who died after the bombing due to radiation. She truly believed that if she folded 1,000 cranes, then she would be healed. Around the statue were thousands and thousands of folded paper cranes. Children from all around the world send their folded paper cranes. There were several clear plastic boxes stuffed full of cranes. It was beautiful. I was so mesmerized that I forgot to take a picture. Sorry, guys.

The monument below is the Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students. Around that time, thousands of students were “mobilized” to help with the war effort by completing primarily factory work. This was built to honor nearly 7,000 of those mobilized students that were killed in the bombings.

Pictured below is the Memorial Cenotaph. It is made entirely of concrete and has the names of every person who was killed by the bombing. If you look in the center of the picture, below the arch, you can see the Peace Flame (eternally lit) and the A-Bomb Dome. Written on a plaque in front of this arch is “安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから” which was translated as “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”

While thoroughly exploring the area, Aly and I each sipped on a Fuzzy Navel. When finished, we went to an underground shopping center to eat an amazing lunch/dinner. We started the meal with a huge mountain of a salad topped with a perfectly poached egg. Aly and Will weren’t fans of poached eggs so I scooped that off the top and ate my salad drenched in the delicious yolk of an amazingly tasty egg. Then, we ordered a bunch of stuff and shared it between all of us – a seafood pizza with pesto, an amazingly good Japanese bento box, and some other stuff that is clearly being overshadowed by that poached egg and seafood pizza. It was so good ya’ll.

After eating our fill, we biked home in the dark. It was so lovely. While biking, we were singing “I got my tight pants on..” but a few minutes into it, I changed the lyrics so that it was Wyatt wearing the tight pants. “Everybody sees Wyatt in his tight pants. He’s got his tight pants. He’s got his tight pants on.” Wyatt giggled non-stop. I was kinda scared he was going to fall off his bike. He kept on trying to sing, “Aunt Rachel has tight pants…” which just didn’t work but A for effort, Wyatt.

Aly and I went to a grocery store while the boys went back to the Cooper home and it. was. glorious. Czechs aren’t really into snacks… well, they are but it’s just chocolate and candy; Like, it’s impossible to find decent crackers anywhere. I’m way more into the savory. This store had so many savory snacks. I wanted to buy them all. They had so much seafood, guys! SO MUCH. And it actually looked good. I miss good seafood – not ridiculously puny shrimp that look like they layed out in the sun for too long but huge prawns. That’s right, they were so big they have to be called something different. And scallops and lobster and such beautiful goodness. I think I bought only one or two snacks though. And then we biked home with grocery bags hanging from our handlebars.

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10 Most Bizarrely Awesome Food-Themed Earrings

For some reason, fruit seems to be the most “socially acceptable” food to wear as jewelry. Candy is also considered more or less “normal” although mini Kinder Eggs do take it a bit too far. But why does the concept of sausages dangling from your ears seem so crazy?

Food and fashion have always been in the spotlight of our society, playing an important role in our self-expression and identity. It is no wonder that food-themed fashion has made its way into our lives and onto many Pinterest boards. In the past, a pizza-print t-shirt may have been intended as a gag gift but today food can upgrade your fashion style.

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Jewelry is the perfect subtle way to make a statement without turning too many heads at the workplace. Start small by wearing tiny strawberry studs to compliment your favorite red top.

For more casual occasions you can brighten up a chic all-black outfit with rainbow lollipops or ice cream that will never melt. The options for incorporating food into your daily fashion are limitless.

Once you cross the line and enter the richly flavored world of food jewelry things can get a bit silly. Would you wear sushi earrings at a Japanese restaurant? Or elegant wine glass earrings for a classy night out with the girls?

For some reason, fruit seems to be the most “socially acceptable” food to wear as jewelry. Candy is also considered more or less “normal” although mini Kinder Eggs do take it a bit too far. But why does the concept of sausages dangling from your ears seem so crazy?

Think you’ve seen it all? Well, think again… A popular online jewelry store in the Czech Republic will challenge everything you know about fashion. This handmade jewelry is made using polymer clay and it is taking the internet by storm.

Take a look at their 10 most bizarrely awesome creations:

10. Would you like a soda with that? These pizza earrings are perfect for proud foodies.

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9. One of the best sources of potassium can also be great bling.

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8. Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear! There’s nothing like vodka or rum shots on a night out.

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7. Remember that girl who only ate McDonald’s chicken nuggets for years? She’d probably appreciate these unique earrings.

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6. Italians are all about their espresso shots and pasta. Can’t afford to trip to Italy? Bring some Italy into your life with pasta earrings!

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5. Scientists have discovered that cheese is highly addictive. Fuel your addiction in a more healthy way: by wearing cheese instead!

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4. The world is obsessed with macaroons because of their cute size, colorful design and mouthwatering taste. Macaroon earrings let you enjoy the dessert indefinitely!

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3. Party sandwiches are the perfect way to feed all your guests. Get into a party mood by wearing your favorite sandwich!

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2. Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you want everyone to know what you had for breakfast, wear bacon and eggs earrings.

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1. Not everyone eats meat or *gasp* cheese. Vegetarian diets are gaining popularity every day, so why not wear some vegan-approved lettuce earrings?

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Mealworm Monday: First Pupae in the Hive by Livin Farms

This week’s Mealworm Monday features our first pupae from the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives…

This week’s Mealworm Monday features our first pupae from the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives. You can read more about the Hive in my past articles or on the Livin Farms website. Check out the video below!

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Haggling for a Tailor-Made Suit at Shanghai’s AP Plaza’s Fake Market

In China, most consumer items are cheaper than almost anywhere else in the world. As we have posted before, Taobao is usually our go-to place for cheap goods, especially clothes. However, this particular item I wanted to buy in person. In person, you can get accurate measurements, try on the suit when it’s finished, and of course, in China you can take part in a coveted sport of sorts: haggling!

Recently I found myself in Shanghai’s AP plaza haggling for a tailor-made suit. I had recently realized that my wardrobe was missing this crucial component. Over the years I had accumulated several pieces of second-hand suits that I would splice together as best I could for any formal event. It had gotten to the point where, when preparing for the Titanic Experience back in November, I’d ended up wearing a pair of dress pants from Savers, a second-hand shirt donated by a friend, a suit jacket from the Salvation Army, and a suit vest whose origin I can’t even remember. Suffice it to say, I was in dire need of an all-purpose suit that actually fit me!

In China, most consumer items are cheaper than almost anywhere else in the world. As we have posted before, Taobao is usually our go-to place for cheap goods, especially clothes. However, this particular item I wanted to buy in person. In person, you can get accurate measurements, try on the suit when it’s finished, and of course, in China you can take part in a coveted sport of sorts: haggling!

If you live in Shanghai, you must be familiar with the famous “AP Plaza” or “Fake Market” inside the Science and Technology Museum metro station. A friend had recommended me a specific place for suits in this market, so I headed straight there, ignoring the calls for overpriced and clearly fake watches along the way.

My wife Olena hates being around me when I do it, but I love the sport of haggling. I’ll cover the process in another article, but their starting price was 1,200 RMB for one three-piece suit (jacket, pants and vest). Of course, I knew that was far too much. I even had them look up my friend’s name in their system so I could prove to them that I knew the price was lower. In the end, I managed to secure a jacket, vest, two pairs of pants, a shirt and two ties for 900 RMB ($136 USD at this writing). That’s not bad, considering a good quality suit in the USA can cost upwards of $1,000!

If you find yourself in need of a suit, go ahead and hop on Line 2 and go to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum stop in Pudong. From there, you can’t miss the AP Plaza. Look at the numerals above the shops and ignore everyone around you. Almost everything at this plaza is overpriced junk bought on Taobao. You’re looking for Samth’s Tailor, at room K1-50. Once there, tell them your friend Isaac sent you. They’ll look me up in the system (Isaac Roosa) and you can get the exact same price. They might try to tell you the price as increased since then, but be firm. Pack up your things and make to leave if you need to! Eventually, you’ll get the right price.

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Why Snails Make Great Pets – GALs

Snail owners have a lot of fun picking out names for their snails, and yes, thousands are named after SpongeBob’s Gary. The best part of choosing a name is deciding on the snail’s gender. Although gender assigning is frowned upon in today’s society, snails really don’t mind as they are hermaphrodites and have both male and female reproductive organs…

In many areas of the world, snails live in abundance and are sometimes considered a pest. It is not uncommon for people to stomp on them, think they are gross or overlook them completely. Among select groups of people, however, snails are beloved pets, best friends and even family members.

Why are snails awesome?

I could spend days explaining this and it’s not all objective, so let me summarize some scientific facts for you. Snails have much longer lifespans than the average house pet, under special conditions they can live up to 25 years! There are around 35,000 species of land snails alone: some only grow up to a centimeter while the largest snail ever recorded was 40 cm long and weighed 0.9 kilos!

Snail owners have a lot of fun picking out names for their snails, and yes, thousands are named after SpongeBob’s Gary. The best part of choosing a name is deciding on the snail’s gender. Although gender assigning is frowned upon in today’s society, snails really don’t mind as they are hermaphrodites and have both male and female reproductive organs.

Everyone knows that snails are slimy, but why? The mucus they produce keeps them hydrated and allows them to hibernate in unfavorable climates and during colder months. It also has countless beneficial properties which are why some salons will offer to let snails race on your face.

Slow and steady wins the race is every snail’s motto. A common garden snail can reach the maximum speed of 1.3 cm per second. Snails are known for being one of the slowest creatures on Earth. But when in a hurry, they can take advantage of slime trails left by others. Traveling across a pre-slimed path gives them a turbo boost on their strenuous journey to a tastier patch of lawn. Because even snails think the grass is greener on the other side.

There’s no need to sing lullabies to snail babies: they are completely deaf but they can see, smell and feel. They are sensitive to bright sunlight as they are nocturnal and prefer to bury themselves underground during the day – unless it’s raining. They can also smell food from meters away!

Snails are shameless fatties and one of their favorite hobbies is eating. Calcium is vital in a snail’s diet and they can also eat fruits, berries, vegetables, all sorts of plants and even meat. Omnivores by nature, most snails will eat worms, small insects and even newborn rat or mice babies (pinkies). Veganism is not popular among snails, but cannibalism sure is among certain breeds.

Like ants, snails are strong and can lift up to 10 times their own body weight! They are tough and can heal a broken shell and survive great falls. Snail mothers are also very admirable, laying thousands of eggs a year. But even Superman has a weakness and a snail’s kryptonite is salt.

Why get a pet snail?

Now you know that snails are cool. But you may still be wondering why so many people dedicate hours of their time pampering snails, buying expensive food, decorations for their tanks and taking millions of photos of their slime-babies?

There is no single answer to this question, so I decided to get the scoop by surveying members of a popular Facebook group for snail enthusiasts, Achatina Snailcorner:

Kim Jonkmans, founder of Snailcorner:

“I have kept snails since I was able to walk but a few years ago I met someone who had some big Achatina fulica (Giant African Land Snail). In the months after, I became really sick and almost died. While I was in intensive care, I promised myself that if I survived this, I will put all my time into what I love most: snails.

I want to make a difference and I’ve started doing imports from Africa to create my own breeding groups to produce snails with strong genes. I work with scientists from the natural biodiversity center researching African land snails and I also do behavioral research on species from around the world. I think it was good to become so sick… it made my dreams come true.”

Krissie Cope:

“I suffer from depression and I find that owning many snails really helps by giving me something to love and care for. Caring for over 80 snails brings me lots of joy and happiness: making their tanks nice, giving them a wide variety of foods and getting them regular snuggles.”

Trepan Nashun:

“They are gentle peaceful creatures with each other. They have beautiful and kind mating rituals: kissing and dancing. Their biology is weird and fascinating – retractable eyestalks! They are devoted vegetarians, most of them, and a great way to put those peels and scraps to good use. Capaeas clean their shells like cats! Snails enjoy baths and showers.”

Luca Gulyás:

“I got my first snails because I wanted a pet that was easy to take care of and a bit unusual. Now I keep getting more and more snails because I love them and they come in so many species and variants that I cannot simply stop collecting them!”

Isaac Roosa:

“I love being a snail daddy because as far as pets go they are easy to take care of and fun to watch. They’re usually seen as gross but if you get up close to them they’re really cute.”

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Hunting the Aurora Borealis in Norway (Guest Post)

Actually, I hate the cold. since I can remember I am trying to flee into countries where the sun is shining and it is at least 25 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks when outside everything is covered in white and the sounds are dulled, everything seems so quiet and peaceful, but I cannot handle the cold…

Decision & Preparation

Actually, I hate the cold. since I can remember I am trying to flee into countries where the sun is shining and it is at least 25 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks when outside everything is covered in white and the sounds are dulled, everything seems so quiet and peaceful, but I cannot handle the cold =P

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, including all photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2015/11/hunting-aurora-borealis-part-1.html

So that’s why I decide to plan my next trip to Norway. Well, not on the mainland of Norway, but on the island, Svalbard. Svalbard means “the land with the cold coast”.

My colleague and friend Hayath, did find a nice three day trip to Svalbard called “Hunting the Polar Lights” to a reasonable price and we decided to go there. Honestly, I didn’t inform myself in advance about Svalbard or Longyearbyen, the place of our destination. I kind of thought, Hayath did. Three weeks before the trip, I went to a book shop and wanted to buy a travel book about Norway. When I found a book about Norway, I was looking for the place Svalbard or Longyearbyen, but couldn’t find it. I started doubting that it even belongs to Norway, so checked Google Maps where Longyearbyen is located. Well, I found it on the card a few centimeter above Norway.

That’s what I saw on Google maps and somehow I couldn’t move the card with the mouse down. I will get back to that later. All I knew was, that there was no book about Svalbard in this shop. So I just gave it up and was wondering why we needed to go so far north, but somehow I forgot this thought, due to the fact that a spontaneous trip to Budapest came in between.

20.11.2015 – 9.15 am

On our way to Norway

So many things happened lately, that somehow the date of departure for our trip to Norway appeared very suddenly. We are almost 17 hours on our way and now, finally sitting in the plane to our final destination Longyearbyen, Svalbard. It is 9.15 am and I only slept around 3 hours but when I look out of the window I see such an amazing landscape that I am way too excited to fall asleep. Hayath fell immediately asleep as soon as the plane took off. For us both, it is the most northern destination we ever traveled to. Additionally, this is the first destination for us where it is cold. I feel like a little child which is absolutely amazed and thrilled by the view of all the snow.

I wished/hoped the whole time for a lot of snow, but now that I see it, I kind of didn’t expect it to be like in TV, it is almost like “oh – you asked for snow? Here you’ll go” 😀 – ok I know, by now you probably figured out that I have never been skiing or went for winter holidays that might be the reason why I am so overexcited 😉

Did I mention that right now there are Polar Nights? Meaning, there will be no sunlight. I actually knew that, but ignored it. At 11.15 am, we see the last rays of sun, getting dark again, my body clock is totally confused.

Fun facts:

I dream a lot, actually I dream every night and I do remember every morning what I dreamt. When I would have written down my dreams, I could have probably published several books. At one point before the trip, Hayath started doing jokes about that I would let him be killed by a polar bear so that I just get the perfect selfie and somehow this lead me to the following dream:

One and half weeks ago, before we headed off for Norway I dreamt, I would do a parashoot jump out of a plane over the sea, with a landing in the water. Somehow, I forgot to wear something warm but it was too late and I had to jump. In the water, I was hunted by a polar bear – I tried to flee and swam very fast but suddenly, that bear wasn’t a bear but a very hairy man. I managed to get on land and started searching for warm clothes when I woke up. Kinda disturbing dream, although Hayath thought that this is just the proof of his prediction with the polar bear … but why then the bearded man??? never mind, let’s start the trip 🙂

20.11.2015

First day in the cold

We survived the first day in the cold, although I wouldn’t say that we survived the whole day. We had a shuttle bus bringing us from the airport to our hotel and the guide in the bus, seriously, that was Santa Claus! He is a very huge, impressive person with a deep voice and rolling “r” and whenever he said “Aurora Borealis” you get goose bumps 😀

Well, he was telling us a bit about Longyearbyen and warned us, that the news channel BBC is on the island and is filming ten people on Svalbard. It shall be a documentary about the daily life of people on Svalbard, and just for the case that the guy next to you is not your husband you should inform them in advance that you don’t want to be filmed 😀 Hayath and I, we didn’t tell all our colleagues that we are doing this trip together to avoid rumours, but when we will be filmed anyway I thought, it doesn’t matter anymore and I can also mention him in my blog – so that’s settled 😉

Shortly after our arrival, we noticed that somehow, no matter where we were looking at, it was written: “Longyearbyen, next to the north pole”. That would explain, why I couldn’t scroll any further down on Google Maps, there was no “further” 😉

Let’s say it this way – we managed traveling to the last civilized location before the north pole without knowing it 😉

When we arrived and packed out, we had something for lunch and lay down for two hours – it is really confusing that it is dark all the time. When we had lunch, we thought the whole time it is dinner time. In our hotel room, Hayath was absolutely fascinated that I packed so much beauty equipment, in fact, he was so fascinated that he had to film it.

Our first activity was something more relaxed. After our nap, we got ready, put on our warm clothes and went into the cold, where a bus picked us up and drove us 10 km from our hotel to a hut, called Camp Barentz. Arriving at the camp, a few people were awaiting us outside and suddenly our bus driver just said “that’s BBC”. Hayath and I looked at each other and laughed – we knew it 😀

Camp Barentz

It was a very nice and cozy evening with international people sitting around the fireplace, enjoying their reindeer soup and some Norway shots while listening to the stories how Willem Barents in 1596 discovered the island. It was such an enjoyable evening with a lot of stories, laughter and interesting facts to learn, as for example how and why the aurora borealis occurs.

Camp Barentz was build exactly where the original first hut was built and is also an original copy to that hut. Helga and Kristin live both about three years in Longyearbyen. The BBC Team is filming Kristin, which I didn’t know but figured out very quickly due to the fact that I was interested in how Kristin came to the decision to extent her studying abroad to a permanent stay.

All of a sudden, the cameras were all directed on us. Actually, I can imagine people being annoyed by that, you are there to have a good time and chill and suddenly all spotlights are on you. Well, I didn’t mind that much, I was anyway planning to become famous 😀

All in one, we had a lovely evening – no aurora borealis – but cuddling time with Husky Mikkey, quality time with Helga and Kristin with whom I directly fell in love with 🙂 The evening ended much faster then all of us were hoping for and when we left the hut and I wanted to go to the bus, I was held up by the camera man asking me if he is allowed to ask me some quick questions and film me …

ME??? sure “this is MY moment” hahaha I think I totally screwed it. My face didn’t work properly, due to the cold it did some weird expressions and I couldn’t see anything due to the strong lights of the camera, blinding me and I REALLY felt strange 😀 He just asked me where I am from, how long I am here and what I think of this evening, and if I am disappointed that I didn’t see the polar lights and some more questions. I tried to answer the questions as nice as possible and then I had to sign a contract that I won’t claim any rights of this tape and so on. Of course, Hayath was making again fun out of me after that “our new celebrity” he is just jealous 😉

Totally motivated after that excursion and may be because we took a nap after lunch, we went out again as soon as we arrived at the hotel. So we went for a stroll on our own and felt like explorers 😀 Although it was already after 11pm, you really got the impression we were the only living creatures in that town, kinda ghost town, no people outside and it’s a FRIDAY!!!

 

21.11.2015

Hiking – or how Hayath almost died

Most of the day we spent inside, watching TV, talking, and even sleeping. This darkness is really getting to you. Additionally, we booked a hiking trip to the Mountain Sverdruphamaren or Plateau Mountain, which has a height of 433 meters. Hayath looked at me very worried when we booked the excursion, but I got him convinced that 433 meters isn’t that high. That is why we pretty much didn’t do anything on that day, but rest.

Around 7pm we got picked up by our guide Adrian. Actually, there should have been two more people coming with us, but they just didn’t appear. Therefore, with a little delay we went by car to the city church, that is where our journey should start.

Adrian, our Romanian guide is very talkative and told us a lot of interesting stories, of which Hayath unfortunately didn’t catch too much due to the fact that he was more busy dealing with his bad condition =P I told him at least hundreds of times he should quit smoking (@Hayath: when you read this, please don’t hate me ;-)) While he was trying to climb this mountain without getting out of breath, I used the time and asked Adrian as many questions as I could. Adrian used to work in Sweden for a guy called Chad Blakely, who is the owner of the company Lights over Lapland. He told me, in that area you can almost see every day the aurora borealis, due to the fact that in that area the blue hole phenomenon exists. I kind a cursed ourselves for not informing us too well, because Adrian said that actually you are more than lucky seeing the lights on Svalbard, we are too far north for the light ring. Nevertheless, I am always saying everything has somehow a reason why it is happening and traveling to the most northern point of the world where civilization is, is not too bad, isn’t it?

Adrian told us that within Longyearbyen, there are around 2000 people living of 50 nationalities. We are in a tax free area, so if we want to have a car, mobiles, cameras and all kind of technology stuff it would be wise ordering it and let it deliver to Longyearbyen to some friend so we can pick it up there. I made sure, that he friended me on Facebook, just for the case, you’ll never know 😉 Living here is pretty much affordable because of the tax free zone and when you decide to live in Longyearbyen, you will get 30.000 NOK as a welcome gift. As long as you can support yourself, you can do whatever you want to do. There is only one small hospital, no real jail – although the biggest crime happening here is a pub fight, so probably not necessary. The town even got a Facebook group, so when someone is losing their jacket or it got stolen for example, this person is posting into the group if someone found their jacket and that they don’t need the stuff within the jacket, this person shall just return the jacket and as a price he/she offers a beer. 😀 I like this kind of problem solving. There is no Visa necessary, one of the reasons why so many nationalities occur on this small place so far north. There are some limitations, it is forbidden to die there or to give birth! hahaha – yes you read it correctly, due to the fact that they only have this small hospital, they don’t have the capacity and possibility to take care of these kind of issues.

Meaning, when you are pregnant you have to leave the island at least a month before birth and return after giving birth. Well, there had to be some limitations, therefore, you live on that very spot where you find Santa’s Mailbox, a small price to pay, isn’t it? 😀

Getting back to the hiking – which wasn’t over yet, YES I had that much time talking 😀 I had in between the feeling Hayath is going to die due to lack of oxygen or he is going to kill me! He sat in between three times down, into the snow, breathing heavily and saying with such conviction that he is not able to move one step further, that even Adrian suggested that we could return and he will drive us to some lookout place. I just couldn’t accept the fact that we will not make it to at least the 400 meters line to have the view. So I used my best skills in convincing and tried to persuade Hayath, that this is all in his mind and his body still can move, it is only he, who is thinking he cannot make it, and it is not much further, only a little bit!!! hahaha I really thought, if he had still his strength he definitely would have killed me 😀 BUHUUUT, he did it! I am so proud of him, and these pictures are the best reward 🙂

Interesting Facts:

Just for you to get an impression HOW cold it was. I took my iPhone 6 out, to take some pictures. After a few minutes, my fully charged iPhone just switched off and it took me in total 15 minutes next to the heater, to turn it on again!

Then, we had to go all the way back down – didn’t tell Hayath about that 😀 when we returned, we had a big dinner in our room and Hayath fell asleep with all his clothes on. He deserved it 😉

22.11.2015

I couldn’t believe that this is already our third day and we still haven’t seen the aurora borealis. I woke up around 8am – who cares actually about the time? it is anyway ALWAYS dark outside! Never mind, I woke up and tried to wake up Hayath, I wanted to go out for a little bit exploring and hopefully seeing the lights! No matter what I did, he didn’t move so I decided to go out on my own. I went out and I wasn’t gone for 100 meters when a snowstorm started.

I had a few nice shots, but there was no way that you could possibly see the aurora borealis in this snow. So I decided to go back – that was more difficult than I thought I really had to fight against the wind and snow. When I arrived in front of the hotel, Hayath was already looking out for me. We went inside for breakfast and decided to try it afterward again. But first, we booked a dog sled tour, the one thing I was looking forward the most 🙂

So finally, it was time for getting picked up by the van who would bring us to our dog sledge adventure. Next to us, there was one couple joining us. I just noticed that it is obviously not that common that a man and a woman travel along, being just friends. Every time we did get the same reaction to our answer “yeah, sure JUST friends/colleagues”. Seriously, people it can be possible! Never mind, well so we were picked up in the afternoon – could have been in the middle of the night, won’t get used to the dark – and in the meanwhile it started snowing like crazy again. So all in one, perfect conditions 😀 when we arrived at the place, we already heard the dogs barking. They obviously were awaiting us excited.

But, before we get on the sleds, we needed to be prepared for it! Proper clothes, seriously, I almost couldn’t move 😀 please, convince yourself. I had to wear OVER my clothes and jacket, overall, thicker boots, gloves, glasses and a head torch.

Well, no there is no chickening out possible. We had to hold the lead dogs, until all six dogs were suited up in front of the sledge. Then one person had to sit down on the sledge – Hayath – and the other had to get on the sledge and we were off. The dogs ran with such a speed, I had to take care that they didn’t overtake our guide Sandra, who was in front of me. It was pitch dark, the only light I had was the light of Sandra infront of me and the light of my own head torch. The snow was lightening the area a little bit up. It was so much fun, but on the same time so exhausting. You had to hang in with every turn we took, always be in a squat position being able to push with one leg the break in the middle, and to hold yourself with the other one. I felt so much adrenaline, a feeling between ‘that’s so freaking awesome’ and ‘oh gosh, please don’t let us skip over!’ We did one round, meaning at one point we turned around and went the way back and you had the possibility of switching places with the person sitting on the sledge. I asked Hayath if I could stay on the sledge and not to switch, I think he didn’t mind 😉 so I stayed and managed to bring us back without landing in the snow. Totally exhausted, but veeeery happy we arrived and were allowed to help to get one dog after the other to their houses. Of course, they all deserved a lot of petting and good words, they did a great job!!! Sandra asked us, if we would like to see a purebred green dog – what a question! They are so huge, but so lovable.

When we were on the way to the hut, to get a hot chocolate I saw the cage with the purebred puppies. Well, puppies … you see how big an outgrown dog is, So this is how big puppies are, when they are one month old.

After I almost couldn’t feel my hands anymore and the puppies almost ate me, we went finally to the hut.

23.11.2015

We were really sad this morning. Although it seemed as if we were already ages on this island, on the same time we thought we just arrived. It would be so strange, going back to crowded streets, big houses and well, yeah even sunlight! After breakfast, we packed our stuff and got picked up by the bus and left for the airport. On the airport, I couldn’t resist buying at least some souvenirs.

Everything went very smoothly, we arrived in Oslo a little bit with time pressure due to the fact that we didn’t have too much time to get our connecting flight. Though, by the time we reached our gate we were told that our flight was canceled and we missed the flight we could have taken instead. Nice! That was really convenient, especially because I had to be on the next day at latest 11am in the office for my business trip to Germany and the next flight available to Prague would land at 11am. What can I do!? I had to re-plan everything and we had to stay over the night in Oslo. At least, everything was covered by our airline.

Not really the kind of ending you wish yourself on a journey, but we got a nice hotel and a nice dinner sponsored.

And on the next day, everything went smoothly. We arrived on time in Prague, and I also managed to get to Germany for my business trip. Too bad that I didn’t manage to see a polar bear, nor the bearded man 😉

He was my consolation prize 😉

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Train to Tokyo, Japan Travel (Guest Post)

The train from Osaka to Tokyo is about 4 hours. We ended up taking a train from Osaka to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Hiroshima a few days after that. My point is that we had an odd experience on the train but I don’t recall on which train ride it happened. I’m pretty sure it was on the train ride from Osaka to Tokyo…

I will only be in Japan for 5 days and there’s only so much I can see. Luckily, my friend saw so much on her trip a few years ago. Hopefully, her posts will fill in the gaps of mine!

The train from Osaka to Tokyo is about 4 hours. We ended up taking a train from Osaka to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Hiroshima a few days after that. My point is that we had an odd experience on the train but I don’t recall on which train ride it happened. I’m pretty sure it was on the train ride from Osaka to Tokyo…

By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, and more photos of Mt. Fuji here: https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/train-to-tokyo/

Rachel Kitai is a traveler and artist, check out her work here: http://rachelkitai.com/

Regardless, Aly tried to make it clear to the attendant at the ticket counter that we wanted to be seated in one row together but it seemed like he misunderstood as he ended up giving us assigned seats to the middle seat of 3 separate rows. Not very convenient considering we had an eight year old, 2 adults, and a baby in a stroller. It’s not like I was helping as I was busy getting everyone donuts from Krispy Kreme (I’m such a good sister/Aunt, right?). If we all sat in one row, it would have been completely okay because we could have just wedged the stroller in front of us taking up the entire row.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We decided to sit in one row regardless but after a stop or two, people started coming on the train and looking for their assigned seats. I moved to my seat (middle seat of the row in front of Aly) and I told Aly to stay put regardless of what anyone said. Having lived in Japan (and Asia), she is much more sensitive to the culture and customs, one of which is a strict adherence to rules and seat assignments. I, on the other hand, just didn’t care. So, when someone came on the train asking to sit in the window seat where Wyatt was sitting (since that was his assigned seat), Aly graciously moved the stroller out with the full intention of standing in the hallway of the train near the bathrooms for the rest of the train tide. While she was doing this, I was essentially guilting this poor Japanese businessman into sitting in Wyatt’s assigned seat (the middle seat of the row behind us) instead. Thankfully, after chatting away with no real indication that he spoke English, understood what I was saying, or even cared, my guilting worked and he motioned for Aly and Wyatt to sit in the row together with the stroller in front of their feet. Isn’t that nice? Thanks, random Japanese businessman!

Once that entire incident was settled, I spent the rest of the train ride alternating between reading a book on my Kindle (Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers) and staring out the window taking photos. Luckily Aly was paying attention on the train ride because all of a sudden she tapped me from behind and motioned to the other side of the train where I could see that we were passing Mount Fuji. How gorgeous is this mountain?

That night, one of Aly’s awesome friends met us at the Tokyo train station with her daughter. I really really really wish I had taken some photos of the train station and of the downtown area. It was dusk by that time but it was so beautiful. Please Google “Tokyo Train Station” and you will be immensely surprised and confused at its stark contrast in comparison to the modern skyscrapers surrounding it. Man, the streets were crazy busy! Like SO SO busy. In general, Tokyo was insane. I mean, it’s the most populous city in the world with 38 million people living in this place. My country/suburb girl instincts wanted me to run away to the beautiful countryside and be a hermit! So many people. Generally speaking, I’m quite good with maneuvering through crowds but this was just unacceptable. I had never truly known or felt the real meaning of “packed like sardines” until I went to Tokyo. I can’t even tell you how arduous and weird and slightly terrifying it was to cross a street at an intersection with 150 people behind you and 150 people in front of you. It’s like riding a wave that’s smashing into another wave.

Moving on… we all went to this cool shopping center/business building that had a number of restaurants on the 5th or 6th floor. We took the elevator up and ate some amazing authentic Japanese food – soba noodles, tempura shrimp, and tempura vegetables. Also, I ate the whole meal with chopsticks. Go ahead, be impressed.

After the meal we went to and checked into our hotel. The two receptionists were quite taken with Alex (~1 year old). They kept on smiling and waving at him. Related side note, the elevators in Japan have no sensors whatsoever. They will most definitely close on you and move while you are stuck in the door. Now, Alex was out of the stroller and we had entered the elevator with some difficulty as the door kept trying to close on the stroller and then me and then Aly and then one of the suitcases. We had gotten in and the elevator door just began to close when Alex bolted for the gap. You should have seen the look on the receptionist’s faces: sheer terror. Thankfully, Aly has lightning fast reflexes and scooped up Alex in time. However, I will always remember the look on those two girls’ faces. So hilarious.

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Mealworm Monday: Air-Fried Silk Worms

This week’s Mealworm Monday features eating silkworms, a popular food here in South East Asia.

This week’s Mealworm Monday features eating silkworms, a popular food here in South East Asia. Check out the video below!

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Hiroshima Castle – Japan Travel (Guest Post)

Our Sunday officially started with a bike ride to Hiroshima Castle, only a few blocks away from the Cooper home. It was so refreshing to ride a bike again. Hiroshima, the city, is actually quite flat and it’s easy to get around on a bike even if you’re out of practice (like me).

Not being able to visit Hiroshima was one of my biggest regrets. Take a look at Rachel’s original post for gorgeous photos of the Hiroshima Castle! https://guyandgalphotoblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/hiroshima-castle/

By Rachel Kitai (Guest Blogger)

Rachel Kitai is a traveler and artist, check out her art here: http://rachelkitai.com/

Our Sunday officially started with a bike ride to Hiroshima Castle, only a few blocks away from the Cooper home. It was so refreshing to ride a bike again. Hiroshima, the city, is actually quite flat and it’s easy to get around on a bike even if you’re out of practice (like me).

The entire Cooper family rode our bikes to the castle and then Aly and I went up and around to view all the displays. One floor alone was just about the evolution of toilets in Japan. That was…fascinating. Another floor described the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and I was extremely impressed by how…diplomatic the English text was. I don’t mean “diplomatic” in a bad or negative way. The tone of the text was just very factual without any judgment. They literally just said exactly what happened and how it happened and how it affected everyone else. I was so very impressed.

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