swedish summer
Europe, Sweden

Midsummer 2020

After a seemingly endless winter, Swedish summer is so blissful! The summer holidays are kicked off by midsummer which is bittersweet. There is so much sunshine and celebration…but darker days are coming (quite literally). This year we spent a few days at our friends summer cabin on a small island in a beautiful lake about 40 minutes from home.

We organized a bring and share meal -including all traditional Swedish food and drinks. There was sill (herring), lots of boiled potatoes and even schnapps – complete with us ‘singing’ the accompanying midsummer/drinking song! My personal favourite is one about small frogs, and it gets me seeing adults and children alike singing and acting like frogs!

Here you’ll find an explanation and have a listen if you’d like!

The weekend was spent hanging out in hammocks, lazing on the dock, playing cards, making flower crowns, swimming, fishing and more! We are so grateful and lucky to get to hang out at this gorgeous place so often. It is quite possibly my most favourite place in Sweden!

Europe, running, Sweden

Parkrun Örebro

Explore, always

Running is one of my favourite ways to explore any new place we travel to. It is an easy way for me to get my bearings in a city, town or area. More often than not I do it early in the morning so there are no crowds or traffic to deal with. It’s a great way to get nice photos of tourist attractions and of course its good exercise! Which is especially good when you spend your days sampling the local delicacies and brews, another of my favourite things to do. I also use these excursions to scout potential fishing spots before I head out to them with all my gear.

Parkrun

Whenever we plan to go somewhere new I pour over google maps for a few hours to see if there are any trails to run and any bodies of water to fish. The next thing I do is check the days of the week we will be there. The reason for this is of course is Parkrun, which happens every Saturday. Parkrun is a free, weekly timed event. It is open to all participants no matter your age, gender or ability level. Most are also dog friendly and thanks to the tail walker you can never be the last person to finish.

So for me moving to Örebro was a no brainer. Beautiful Swedish town with a river running through the heart of it, bordering a huge lake and Parkrun Örebro every Saturday. Smiles all round.

Parkrun Örebro
Out on the course, photo courtesy of Malin Wirelam

Parkrun Örebro

Where is it?

Parkrun Örebro is set on the outskirts of the city, a ten minute cycle from the center of town. It starts on the bank of the Svartan river which runs through Örebro and drains into lake Hjälmaren. The course winds though the forest for its first kilometre. After crossing a boardwalk and a few small waterways a spectacular view of the lake is revealed. You then follow a spur of land, that feels like you’re running into the lake itself, before turning back to shore for the second half of the run. This takes you along some more trail through scrubland and back though the small forest to once more cross the boardwalk and get to the finish (start).

Parkrun Örebro
Thinking of the coffee at the end, photo courtesy of Lars Loven

Why you should do it

Parkrun Örebro happens regardless of the weather and has seen very few cancelations since its inception in April 2017. If you stay long enough you can watch it transform through the seasons from a summer paradise to a winter wonderland. The trails are well maintained and always checked the morning of the event to ensure they are in good condition.

Parkrun Örebro
Winter Wonderland

The other great thing about Parkrun Örebro, Sweden in general for that matter, is being able to ‘fika‘ when you’re done. The Parkrun start and finish is conveniently located right next to the Naturenshus coffee shop. Here you can enjoy a bottomless coffee for 25kr and a sweet or savoury bite to eat. It is also a great way to meet some of the participants and volunteers if you were too breathless to chat to them out on the course.

The people who make it happen

Parkrun Örebro, and any other Parkrun for that matter, would not happen without the selfless work of its volunteers. These are people who not only give up their time on a Saturday morning to run the event but also spend time during the week planning and ensuring everything will run smoothly on Saturday morning. The group at Parkrun Örebro are super friendly and helpful and have made my wife and I feel very welcome in our new home town. If you enjoy taking part in Parkruns, volunteering is a good way to give back to the Parkrun community.

If you’re in the Örebro area and want to experience a bit of nature, at a run or a walk, Parkrun Örebro should be on your list of things to do.

You can find more details on their Facebook page or on the official Parkrun site. They are very responsive to messages on their page and if you’re lucky you might even get a tour of Örebro and some local information from one of the event directors.

Europe, Fishing

Streetfishing along the canals of Amsterdam

Where to go fishing

You may think that fishing is restricted to finding isolated spots in the wilderness and escaping the crowds. You’re not completely wrong. For some of us though this is not always possible. Some of us live in the heart of a big city and just don’t have the time to get away for a whole day or weekend to scratch the fishing itch. For those people lucky enough to be in a city with waterways, streetfishing is the way to go.

Eurotrip

My wife and I, fiancee at the time, spent two months traveling mainland Europe with backpacks in 2017. This meant no space for fishing gear! We also only spent a few days in each location so it didn’t leave much spare time to go fishing. This didn’t stop me from hopefully peering into every body of water we saw to look for signs of life!

Water, water everywhere, nor any place to fish

Considering how many European cities have rivers and canals I was quite surprised at the lack of streetfishing activity I saw. In Paris I saw a few guys fishing in one of the canals near a hostel we stayed at. In Prague I only met one guy fishing in the river even though I saw lots of fish activity on my morning runs along the bank. That was it!

streetfishing
Great stretch of river bank to fish

Apart from Amsterdam that is. I had been trawling instagram in every location we went to to see if anybody was posting catches in the heart of the city. I was lucky enough to make contact with Huib Lommers, aka the_streetfishing_activist, based in Amsterdam.  He graciously agreed to take me streetfishing along the canals one evening, he even lent me fishing rod!

Hitting the streets

It was still early spring and the weather wasn’t the greatest for streetfishing. Windy and cold! Nonetheless we headed out. Neither of us managed a fish but it was still a great experience, sidewalks crowded with cyclist and pedestrians, two of us with fishing gear looking for likely places that could hold some perch or zander. I was surprised at the number of people who asked us what we were doing and incredulously nodded when Huipie told them we were fishing. Even more so when he told them that there were actually fish to be caught. Some people even stopped for selfies!

streetfishing
Cold but happy!

Pack you gear everywhere

Next time you find yourself in Amsterdam be sure to pack some gear and go streetfishing! You do of course also need a fishing licence if you want to fish in The Netherlands. I will say that we were not asked for licences at any time during the evening…

Since then I have been following the streetfishing hashtag on instagram to see who is out there doing some exploring and fishing in the heart of big cities. It has been an eye opener! It has also become a goal of mine to at least have one fishing session everywhere we travel to from now on.

I did manage this in most places in the USA and there will be or have been posts about most of these on our blog or on my instagram account, @thelazyfisherman, so be sure to check it out if you want more up to date information.

Bonus fishing session

I also stumbled upon a lucky fishing session at a hostel in Ireland. We had rented a car to drive cross country and offered to drop off two girls from Canada at their next hostel as we were heading in the same direction. Upon arrival I saw two dams next to the building and trout rising all over the place! I promptly rented gear and fished for an hour with a can of corn as bait before we headed off.

streetfishing
In Ireland, somewhere…

 

 

backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, Germany, travel

Eurotrip Part Four – Berlin

Berlin, a city steeped in history, a city that has suffered so much, yet a city that is a pleasure to explore. Amongst the hustle and bustle of people getting on with their everyday lives, 5 star hotels, shopping malls and parks – you wouldn’t say this city had been nearly destroyed by the end of World War two.

Continue reading “Eurotrip Part Four – Berlin”

backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, Germany, travel

Eurotrip Part Four – Cologne and Dusseldorf

We stopped through Dusseldorf on our European adventure as our friend, Jade (from Durban whom we met in Korea) is currently living there. She offered us her futon in her gorgeous apartment as well as local beer and wine on arrival (now that’s a friend)! The few days we were with her were well spent, exploring both Dusseldorf and Cologne.

Continue reading “Eurotrip Part Four – Cologne and Dusseldorf”

Amsterdam, backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, spring, thelazyfisherman, travel

Eurotrip Part Three – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We are finally on the adventure of our life time (up ’till now)! After resigning from our jobs teaching English in South Korea in February, we are traveling through Europe, visiting Paris, BelgiumThe Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. We spent almost a year planning our two month trip to Europe which eventually evolved into a ten month journey that will see us crisscrossing Europe, Ireland and the USA for a few months. Central America may (hopefully) make its way onto our itinerary.

The way we travel is a combination of hostels, couchsurfing, workaway and friends. This means we get to experience regular life and meet locals in the places we visit as opposed to just being main stream tourists. It also means we can stretch our budget further and travel for longer!

Amsterdam

The first things that come to mind are Red Light districts, “coffee shops” and liberality. You will find these in abundance all over the city center. Amsterdam has much more to offer than just this though. We started our first full day in the city with a “free” walking tour with Sandemans NewEurope. These tours are not actually free as you have to tip the tour guide afterwards. It does mean you can pay what you feel they deserve or you can afford, though. They are usually quite good and are a nice way to find your bearings in a new city, and pick up bit of history along the way.

Things to see/do:

The Red Light District. If you wander through it during the daylight hours it is a fairly tame area. Most of the window boxes are empty or have their curtains drawn. Basically each window is privately owned/operated by the lady inside. She will stand in the window to attract clientele. The later it gets, the busier it gets. So more of the windows will be filled and the streets will be teeming with tourists, stag parties, tour groups and curious onlookers. No photos/video are allowed in the area and apparently you will get chased down if you try. We also saw a few of the ladies pull their curtains shut if any youngsters walk past. All of them were clothed in about the same amount of clothing you would see on the average beach on a sunny day.

The Museum Quarter.

Here you can find all the major museums in the city. Our highlights were the Rijksmuseum and The Van Gogh museum. The first has a range of exhibitions from many famous artists though the ages (Rembrandt, Van Gogh etc) and covers more than 800 years of Dutch and world history. When we were there it even had a whole section on Dutch history in South Africa which was very interesting. The Van Gogh museum takes you through his whole life, his influences and his troubled end with displays of his paintings and his peers/mentors and idols. Interesting even for the non-Van Gogh fans. This area is also home to the I Amsterdam sign (in front of the Rijksmuseum). Get there early if you want a photo as it gets super crowded! There is also a nice park/square where you can hang out if the weather is good. The Anne Frank house is not in the Museum Quarter, obviously, as it is still in its original location. If you know exactly when you will be in Amsterdam books these tickets online, way in advance. They sell out quickly! If you don’t do this you have to wait in a queue, possibly for hours. From 9am to 3:30 pm you can get tickets for a certain time slot. After this you join the queue and buy a ticket at the door. If it’s too busy you won’t make it inside. We joined the queue at about 3:50pm and waited 2 hours to get inside. It was so busy you were just bustled through each room and it felt like the museum had no actual impact. Not the recommended way to do it.

Walk the streets.

Amsterdam has something for everybody. From trendy bars and cafes, hipster hangouts, street markets and buildings dating back hundreds of years. Amsterdam was also where the Dutch East India Company (VOC) started up, probably the first stock exchange/market/publicly traded company in the world. The city is, of course, also filled with canals. These are still used for boat transport, cruises, fishing (I tried this one evening from the banks/bridges) and the mooring of houseboats/cafes/bars. We love to walk around the cities making our way from landmark to landmark on foot with breaks in between to people watch and enjoy some local beverages and snacks.

Dam square, right in front of the Royal Palace, is a popular hangout spot in the center of the city. Most of the trams/busses also pass near here. You could easily spend a few hours here in good weather with a few drinks watching the goings on of the tourists and locals (pro tip – the bigger department stores usually have bathrooms if you’re desperate).

The public transport in Amsterdam is well organized and reasonably priced with single ride to 72 hour passes available. The city center is very walkable though so do a bit of research before you invest in a pass. We were in a hostel just outside the center and found that most days a single ride ticket in and out was sufficient. The other way to get around is of course cycling. Most of the roads have dedicated cycling lanes and cars/pedestrians usually give way to the cyclists.

Useful information:

We stayed at WOW Amsterdam. It is outside the city center but has some supermarkets and tram/bus stops nearby. Beds were comfortable and the rooms were spacious. Bathrooms were well equipped and close to the rooms, towels were provided. There was no kitchen worth speaking of. Just a small room with a bar fridge, microwave and basin. No cutlery or crockery. The breakfast was sufficient to start the day, buffet style, cold meats, bread/rolls, cereals coffee tea etc. The wifi was patchy most of the time.  Can’t really complain too much as it was only 10 Euros a night for a mixed dorm.

Albert Heijn supermarkets are great. They usually have good food specials, you can get a loyalty card free, most of them also have free wifi.

The Apple store has free charging stations and wifi if you have an iPhone.

The train network is quite extensive and many places are within day trip distance from the city itself. Kayley went to Keukenhof for the morning and we both spent an afternoon in the nearby town of Harlem. Beaches are also within reach.

Google maps worked fine for the public transport. If you don’t have a sim card be sure to download the offline map before you head out and screen shot all your transport options for later in the day.

 
We have found apps that have offline functions to be specifically useful. What has been the most useful app you’ve downloaded for traveling? 
Amsterdam, backpacking, blossoms, chasingkm, Europe, Keukenhof, spring, The Netherlands

Spring Blossoms in Keukenhof Gardens

Ever since I was in grade two I’ve been wanting to visit The Netherlands. I wanted to see tulips and windmills, go to cheese markets and wear clogs and see real delftware and just about everything else we got taught about in our “Around the World'” theme. There really was no doubt that this country would feature on our Eurotrip. Of course, many of these things do not excite Mark as much as they excite me, namely, Keukenhof Gardens – the most beautiful spring garden in the world!

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backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, The Netherlands, travel

Eurotrip Part Three – Gouda, The Netherlands

We are finally on the adventure of our life time (up ’till now)! After resigning from our jobs teaching English in South Korea in February, we are traveling through Europe, visiting Paris, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. We spent almost a year planning our two month trip to Europe which eventually evolved into a ten month journey that will see us crisscrossing Europe, Ireland and the USA for a few months. Central America may (hopefully) make its way onto our itinerary.

Continue reading “Eurotrip Part Three – Gouda, The Netherlands”

backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, outdoors, The Netherlands, travel

Eurotrip Part Three – The Hague and Delft, The Netherlands

We are finally on the adventure of our life time (up ’till now)! After resigning from our jobs teaching English in South Korea in February, we are traveling through Europe, visiting Paris, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. We spent almost a year planning our two month trip to Europe which eventually evolved into a ten month journey that will see us crisscrossing Europe, hopping on over to Ireland and then onto the USA for a few months. Central America may (hopefully) make its way onto our itinerary.

Continue reading “Eurotrip Part Three – The Hague and Delft, The Netherlands”

backpacking, Belgium, Bruges, chasingkm, Europe

Eurotrip Part Two – Bruges, Belgium

We are finally on the adventure of our life time (up ’till now)! After resigning from our jobs teaching English in South Korea in February, we are traveling through Europe, visiting Paris, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. We spent almost a year planning our two month trip to Europe which eventually evolved into a ten to twelve month journey that will see us crisscrossing Europe, hopping on over to Ireland and then onto the USA for a few months. Central America may (hopefully) make its way onto our itinerary.

Continue reading “Eurotrip Part Two – Bruges, Belgium”