Tag Archives: europeantravel

malmö, sweden

Sweden for Christmas! Malmo is located just over the Oresund bridge north of Copenhagen, meaning I could cross off another European country off of my list with just a twenty minute train ride from home.

Josie and I had wanted to do a weekend trip to Paris or Norway to go snowboarding before heading back to the Bay Area for Christmas, but a couple of planning constraints (i.e. the plague) kept us closer to home. We had rented out our Stevnsgade apartment on Air BnB for the night, so in turn, we rented out a room in Malmö. Just adding to our Air BnB reviews.

A wee bit ghetto

Josie had been to Sweden three times previously, and had mentioned that Malmö just felt different from Copenhagen. As soon as we got off the train at the Trianglen train station, I could agree- the architecture layout were all the same, but it was eerily quiet; no kids, no massive hordes of bicyclists, no conversations anywhere.

We then found the street our apartment was on, just a few blocks from the Trianglen station. At home, the Norrebro area we live in is commonly regarded as the ghetto part of Copenhagen. It’s considered trendy and ‘up-and coming’ at the same time, which is interesting, but for many it’s not a preferred area to live. (I like it.) The street that runs through our beloved Norrebro is Norrebrogade, nicknamed ‘Shwarma Lane,’ and would probably be an equivalent to the street we were going to be staying on for the night. But rather than trendy clothing boutiques and bars scattered with kebab places and bike outlets in between, this street had lots of very temporary-looking stores all selling odd items of no cohesive theme. This is what I’m pretty sure I consider ghetto. So far, I haven’t come across a street in Copenhagen quite like it.

The American Store

Exactly as it sounds. Stocked with almost everything I missed, but for obscene prices- smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce ($12), all different flavors of Doritos ($5), CANNED PUMPKIN ($10, we would have gone bankrupt over this during Thanksgiving), Ocean Spray cranberry sauce in cans ($8), and an entire aisle of steak sauces and barbeque marinades. Oh, and giant posters of Justin Bieber.

Fortunately I’m on the way back to the States as I write this and have already anticipated taking back an extra suitcase for hot sauces, but if you ever need your fix, this would be the place.

Design store

I now know the difference between cheap Swedish design and expensive Danish design, but all of it falls under the umbrella of pricy Scandinavian design anyway. We found a gift store filled with all these great design ideas transformed into products, like a scoop collander (no more holding the heavy bowl over the sink!), wire birds that attach to hanging lights, carafes with cooling rods, pasta servers with a cheese grater built into it.

Moderna Museet

The museum of modern art in Malmo was located in an old converted drill hall, pretty well hidden off of the main street, but was pretty obviously an eccentric art destination once we found it. The exhibit this weekend was on surrealism, including works that attempted to ‘disturb viewers and shift their perceptions of what was considered reality.’ One that stood out was a piece by Salvador Dali, titled The Enigma of William Tell. I’d never seen an original Dali before. It was done in 1933, and portrays William Tell with the face of  Lenin. I tried to eavesdrop on the docents leading tours, but they were all in Swedish. All I remember was that of all the pieces in the surrealist exhibit, this one was the most thought-provoking in a way that made the most sense. I’m probably not at liberty to comment at all on art like this but most of the other things we saw were just strange.

All in all, not sure how I feel about modern art, but I do really like the concept of composite photography/ photomontages.

Brooklyn style cheesecake in Sweden?

I had no idea Swedish were so into their cheesecake until we got there and saw it advertised on the A-frame outside each and every café. We stopped in a cozy one, ordered two slices of cheesecake and a hot chocolate, and sat in a couple of squashy armchairs upstairs enjoy it. So, so so good. Josie had been feeling a little under the weather and literally passed out in her chair afterwards, but when she woke up, it was SNOWING! Immediate happiness.

Big Fat Swedish Movie Theater- Biograf Royal

We paid forty bucks to see Twilight. No shame. Downside- unlike in Germany, they did not sell beer at the movie theater. Actually, they don’t really sell beer at all in Sweden… fair warning. It explains the Swedish teenagers taking the train into Copenhagen all the time to buy alcohol just to bring it back.

And the Twilight movie was NOT that bad!! Relatively speaking. There’s horrible dialogue and still a questionable plotline, but the cast is easy to look at and the last 30 minutes make up for all of its shortcomings.

Jule brunch with Josie @ Restaurang Smak

Before catching the train back to Copenhagen, we decided to search out a place for brunch. Maybe I never noticed it in the States, but in Scandinavia, weekend brunch is definitely the experience to be had.

Smak café/restaurant was located in one of the back rooms of a concert hall. Brunch came with a larger entrée, salad, coffee, and tea. We ordered two dishes- one very Spanish-inspired potato pancake with olive tapenade and arugula (basically a fancy version of traditional tortillas españolas– my host mom in Granada made these all the time!) and a traditional Swedish minced meat pie with lingonberries and mashed potatoes. The Swedish dish was familiar, mostly because it’s a better version of comfort food served at IKEA. It was essentially a giant Swedish meatball served up.

The salad bar was MMM good. There was a garbanzo bean salad, a slaw made from fennel root and lingonberries, sliced cauliflowers in an herb dressing, among others. I didn’t try much of it, though, because I was too busy being fixated on the rugbrod and giant loaves of sourdough with balsamic and olive oil.

The restaurant had a great DIY tea selection, with a spread of jars with different teas in them and filters to steep them to the strength you want. I just scooped a bunch of maté into mine and dropped in a giant mug all together, but Josie did it the correct and civilized way with a toothpick through the handle so the tea wouldn’t be steeping with the whole bag. Working at the CoHo made me really rough with my beverages. Sometimes I forget that there’s a proper way to eat things, tea in particular…

This meal was wonderful. I really, really love the holidays. I’ve never been so conscious of how I was spending them, and who I was spending them with. Now that everything is out of sync, without being in school with a simple annual routine, I’m feeling a little pressure to start making my own traditions, and surround myself with just the people I know I want to spend it with. Happily, it’s been easy so far.

merry christmas!!



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Filed under Restaurants, Sweden, Travel

mental health retreat in Bayreuth, Germany

This is Avery.

someone let us go to Vegas

Yeah she’s pretty much my spouse.

The two of us flew out here to begin our abroad adventure on the same day, September 9th. Since then, we’ve been going through similar life processes in different cities… for lack of a less cliché term, we’ll call it soul searching. Last week we realized together time was much overdue, so I booked a bus ride and a carpool to get to Bayreuth.


Bayreuth is like San Rafael- seemingly conveniently close to big cities, but really just out of the way enough to make it difficult to get to using public transportation. Eurolines got me to Berlin for $46, and a carpool took me the extra three hours south for another 20 euro. (For budget travelers, carpooling.co.uk is the best resource to find car shares going anywhere in Europe!)

Traveling from Copenhagen by bus is uncomfortable, as the night bus stops two hours into the trip to (surprise!) load everyone onto a boat, where people sleep on the floor from 1:30-4am to keep some semblance of a night’s sleep, and then back onto the bus for the rest of the way to Berlin. The girl driving the carpool from Berlin probably hated me because I passed out in her front seat pretty much the minute she picked me up from the Mexicoplatz train station. Being a boring co-pilot is a really consistent bad habit of mine but something I’m probably never going to kick.


Yeah I have no idea how to pronounce this either. The family Avery is au-paring for lives in this area, where they have the most wonderfully comfortable house in a suburban neighborhood in a hilly context that reminds me of Marin. The Dierkes family is an incredibly warm family that loves to entertain, and their house reflects it, with a big open living space on the ground floor with a connected living room (Vonzimmer in German), dining room and (the best part) HUGE kitchen, and big bedrooms upstairs with cozy lofts in each of them. Oh, and heated floors. This is what the Copenhanish attempt to make their city feel like when they have a fraction of the space to do so.


Within an hour of being reunited, Avery and I started cooking. We made a pot of spicy minestrone soup that ended up being enough for four meals and cheesy garlic bread… mmmm. We were granted free reign of a giant, stocked kitchen!! Bliss.

On this particular night we opened a couple of beers and watched Night at the Museum with Sophia and her dad. Easy night at home in a small town with chips and beer on the couch. It’s like we never left Davis.

Winterdorf and Irish Coffees

We went shopping and of course, everything we brought home was edible. We bought Christmas presents for ourselves, a bottle each of Tullemore Dew Irish Whiskey and Baileys (among curious bacon chip snacks and an almost obscenely large log of marzipan, oops). We called them Christmas presents because we asked the cashier to wrap them up, expecting brown paper bags, and instead got frilly packages with bows.

Sooooo we made our favorite, Irish coffees complete with whipped cream, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Again, just like Davis.

We met some of the people from Avery’s class at the Winterdorf, a bar set up in the plaza of an outdoor mall downtown. It was a really cool concept, mostly open-air with lots of heating lamps. Even though it was in the thirties outside, it was crammed with so many bundled up people drinking warm alcohol in mugs that nobody really noticed that it was maybe thirty-four degrees outside. Most everyone was drinking glühwein, hot mulled wine that pretty much exists all over Europe under different names. (In Denmark it’s glogg– and probably costs four times as much.)

MaisselWeiss Brewery Tour

On Sunday afternoon, Ave and I biked down to the Maissel Weiss Brewery Museum for a tour. It was 100% in German (ha) but only cost 4 euro and came with explanatory packets in English so we could follow along and pretend like we knew what was going on (Avery’s actually pretty good at German now after living here for just three months, but obviously I had no hope).

Since taking our Brewing and Beer at Davis during our final quarter senior year with Prof. Charlie Bamforth, walking through breweries has been so much fun- rarely you learn technical terms in lecture that can be applied in such a fun context. Avery hugs lauter tuns, Ani loves mash filters. Everyone likes saying ‘wort’ in a British accent.

The museum was right down the street from Avery’s house, and contained all this old-school equipment that was used almost a hundred and fifty years ago to make beer! It’s incredible how far we’ve come since. Brewery workers in the 1870s crawled into the copper lauter tuns to clean it after every use. Now, lauter tuns are a) much bigger, b) stainless steel and c) clean themselves. They used to blow cold air over wort after boiling to cool it down. Today, that’s called a refrigerator.

The COOLEST part was the hop room! Bags on bags on bags of hops, and decorated further with dried hop plants. Although it’s hard to believe they use that many in these beers. They said about a handful per liter like it was a lot, but they have no idea what New Belgium Ranger is (I predict five handfuls). I miss California and those Sierra Nevada Torpedoes (mmmm Cascades) so much. Nobody here understands.

And then of course, the tasting afterwards was awesome, with Weiss beers in the usual concave glass. More on the different glassware for different beers later- until then, no more standardized 16oz. pint glasses!

Following the Lonely Planet guide

We stopped to pick up pizza for dinner one night at a small pizza place Avery found in the massive Lonely Planet bible she has, called Hansl’s Holzofenpizzeria. It was small and very clearly family-owned, smelled FANTASTIC, had an amazing selection of toppings (must try the seafood next time, Ave!), and a giant old-fashioned oven. We got beers and sat at the counter to drool over the pizzas being made and then strapped all five of ours to an extremely clutch bookrack on the back of the bike Avery’s been riding.

Just one of the many amazing meals I consumed this week.

To sum up, things I loved about Bayreuth:

  • It was small! The concrete jungle that is Copenhagen definitely put the homey suburbs in perspective.
  • The university looked like Davis! Avery pointed out all the things that had made her feel at home- eggheads, a very arboretum-esque lake running around the outskirts, even red busses.
  • BEER WAS CHEAP!! No more sacrificing taste and going with Carlsberg or rather just the weekly bankrupting for seven dollar beers. Bavarian beer is both affordable and delicious.
  • The Dierkes family. Quite possibly the warmest and most hospitable group of people I’ve been lucky enough to become acquainted with in awhile. They made me feel at home for a week, even calling me “Panda” (thanks for that Avery) and letting us throw a Big Fat American Thanksgiving in their house. But more on that later.

Thanksgiving, Prague, and more beer adventures to come!

tschüs (definitely had to look that one up),



Filed under Beer, Cooking, Germany, Restaurants, Travel