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10 Things I Enjoyed in Stockholm

7 Jul

I visited Stockholm in July when my eldest son, Miguel, toured Europe for his soccer tournament, the Gothia Cup, a World Youth Cup. We savoured all of Stockholm’s 14 islands spread through its archipelago and connected by bridges!

Here are 20 things I enjoyed while staying in this busiest Scandinavian capital:

1. Historic tour of medieval Old Town, the Gamla Stan.

Gamla Stan

Colorful buildings with different necks! We managed to meander through the maze of winding alleyways, cobblestoned streets, small squares and ancient churches. We found local taverns and yummy traditional restaurants in this ancient city.

od town

Sometimes the alleyways can get crowded so watch out for those shops or you’ll miss those wonderful Swedish design-ware shops!

2. Enjoy the different waffles and ice cream, called Glas, with your friends!

waffles in Gamla Stan Treating ourselves with ice cream with our friends, Eliza, Billy and kids after our cultural tour.

waffle bar

A Glas shop (ice cream shop)

waffle conesDifferent varieties of waffle cones to choose from, from plain waffle to almond/chocolate crusted ones.

ice cream in stockholm

Stockholm is home to the most delicious waffles and waffle cones and the best tasting ice cream in the world. Taste one or two flavors everyday!

3. Visit the Vasa Museet (Museum).

vasa 2

This is Sweden’s most prized heirloom which was salvaged from the murky deep waters of the Baltic Sea in 1961. This 69-meter long 380-year old Viking warship VASA sank just 20 minutes from its maiden voyage in 1628.

Viking warship

 Climb aboard for a lesson into Swedish history!

 4. Taste the goodness of smorgasbord of Northern delights in Ostermalms Saluhall, the world’s best food hall.

smorebrot

Have a sampling of smorebrod or open faced sandwich at the bar.

saluhall 2

One can smell the varying smell and goodness of fresh produce…

tasty bread

…To delicious pastries!

salad

…And the freshest of salads.

5. Catch a ferry and take the Island Canal tour with 14 islands to visit and be wowed with Swede’s architecture.

island canal tour

Joining a throng of tourists and enjoying the sights of the 14 islands.

Sweden architecture

Colorful architecture by the canal.

6. Visit Swedish royalty in the Royal Palace and Drottningholm Palace, and see how the kings and queens live.

drottningholm 2

Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

royal palace

The Royal Palace in Gamla Stan, the official residence of the Swedish Royalty.

7. Try a Swedish traditional meal in an authentic Viking restaurant.

trad Viking resto

Aifur, a restaurant dedicated to the gastronomic heritage from the Viking Age.

Viking interior

Traditional interiors, with hats, armors and even cutlery is reminiscent of the Viking Age.

  moose

With traditional meal: a sampling of moose meat

 Viking meal

Delectable lamb chops!

 dwarfed chicken

 (Not so) dwarfed chicken, good for sharing.

8. Treat yourself to a Michelin starred restaurant.

sheratons 360 degree

Sheraton Hotel’s 360 Degrees is a 3 star Michelin Restaurant.

meat balls

Most famous Swedish meatballs “kottbullar”

 sea bass

…and delicious Sea bass with ravioli pasta.

steak

Tenderloin steak grilled to perfection! Superb dining for a tiring day.

9. Join the Nobelity! Take a peek at the Nobel House.

nobel museum

The Nobel Museet (Museum) proudly displays its eminent laureates and their achievements.

10. Take out a pair of Borgs! Buy souvenirs to take home to friends and family.

borgs

Check out Bjorn’s collection at the mall.

 Swedish souvenirs

Lovin’ those Viking hats, too!

Life is Amazing!

LENY

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My First Mediterranean Cruise

7 Jul

In the Port of Dubrovnik, Croatia with my husband, Gerard

This was our first cruise and we were super excited! 

We left September 17 for Venice for an 8-day Mediterranean cruise and packed warmer clothes since it was already the start of fall in northern Europe. 

Our places of destination are sunny but windy,  so packing was tricky and nightmarish, to say the very least, since we also had to pack lighter clothes for the warmer cities. 

We also had to bring along formal and semi-formal clothes and matching shoes for the different dinner occasions aboard the ship. This called my packing creativity to the test! 

We were finally on our way to our dream vacation onboard MS The Splendour of the Seas of the Royal Carribbean.

Aboard the Splendour leaving Venice behind us…

We were given a SetSail pass when we checked in. This serves as our charge card, ID, and room key all in one. 

Stateroom Ocean View 2008 is going to be our home for the next 8 days as we travel to Dubrovnik (Croatia), Ephesus (Kusadasi, Turkey), Santorini, and Corfu (Greece) and back to Venice    

The best view of the city is on Deck 10. You can smell the scent of Venice. With all its ancient history and romanticism, it still is a marshy 118-island lagoon filled with canals and bridges.

At the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 11, you can also have a 360 degree view with your favorite drink on hand, a Bailey’s or a Heineken!

The Splendour boasts of eleven decks that can accomodate all 2,100  passengers.  

There are 3 indoor/outdoor pools, two dining halls, one of which serves food almost 24/7!  We tried to order as many main courses and desserts as we like (and well, those we can all possibly eat) in the two-level glass-walled fine dining King and I Main Hall in Deck 4. 

In the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 9, food is served buffet style. We were lucky that one of the chefs is Filipino: we get to eat authentic adobo with rice! 

Sometimes when we don’t feel like going out to eat, we almost always order room service food – for free!  

Yes, all the food in the ship are free and already inclusive in the cruise package. Drinks are the only ones we paid for, from the bottled mineral water down to the sodas, beer, and wine. 

They don’t come cheap! Be prepared to be surprised! 

You have to savour and sample all the wonderful gastronomic delights that await you everyday in the dining halls.  

Oh, and if you like snack food like hotdogs, burgers and fries, make sure you don’t miss the Solarium Snack Bar! 

In the King & I Dining Hall waiting for dinner 

My husband Gerard likes to stay in their coffee shop, and yes – there is Seattle’s Best! 

He is practically “on call” for some work time. That was fine for me, as it afforded me some fun time visiting the Shops Onboard for souvenirs and duty-free items like jewelry, perfumery, accessories and many other items from the different ports of call. 

They have world-famous Murano glass and jewelry, Swarovski crystals, and the famous Turkish rugs.  

At 8pm every night, the items on feature are on 25% off at least from their retail price.

Gerard completed 14 rounds. 4 rounds is 1 mile   

For health buffs like me, there’s a fitness center where  in the mornings, I just hop on  a treadmill and have a magnificent view of the endless sea during my daily workout.  

It was such a regret that we didn’t get to play the 18-hole mini golf, or table tennis, or visit the spa center (services were a bit pricey!).

Deck 11 has a jog path, which Gerard and I both tried. 

I was almost blown by the wind because it is an open space, but the sea breeze was doing an amazing thing for my lungs! I didn’t dare conquer the open air rock climbing wall! This, my friends, is not meant for the faint of hearts.

On our last night on Deck 5 before dinner          

You won’t feel bored as there are many different activities you can choose to fill your day – yoga, carricature, bingo, dance lessons. 

Or you can just spend some time in their cool video arcade and youth facilities. 

There is also internet or Wi-fi service but it burned a hole in our pockets as it costs around 35 USD just for one hour! 

The ship  has two entertainment centers and themed theaters for broadway shows and programs all day to keep us busy. 

What we missed is put a dollar or two in the slots machine or play in one of the tables in the Casino Royale… Maybe we would have met James Bond there?

Our cruise compass for the day

For those of us who are first timers,  we didn’t worry at all, as the crew issues a different cruise compass for each day. 

It is like a daily schedule of activities you can try or participate in so you don’t miss out on anything exciting. There’s an activity for every one!

Just some more things we did to enjoy our cruise vacation:

  • We tried both the Windjammer Cafe, and King and I restaurants. They have different sets of menus every day! Great salad bar. Cool Paella Day out on the pool deck, too!
  • We made sure we took exploration excursions on each port of call. We visited the cities and old towns within the day and learned about their rich culture and history. You can read this in my travel posts.
  • We didn’t forget to make friends with the other cruisers. We had more fun exploring the ship and activities together. Samba was the best!
  • We took loads of photos to bring home and to share with you…

Blogger’s Note: Mediterranean Cruise aboard The Royal Caribbean with European route Venice-Ephesus-Dubrovnik-Santorini-Corfu-Ephesus-Venice  costs around USD 1,800 per person as of October 2010. This allows for a 2 person stateroom with ocean view, inclusive of buffet food, but excluding drinks and gratuities.


Life is Amazing!

LENY

Building An Affair-Proof Marriage

7 Jul

If you have followed what I have posted on small care groups, it is a mini discussion amongst couples on some of the most important concepts and tools to help us enrich our marriage. 

Here’s the second CG Bites we are discussing this quarter: His Needs, Her Needs – Building An Affair-Proof Marriage, taken from the best-selling book authored by marriage counseling expert, Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr.

The concept is hinged on the idea of being aware, to understand, appreciate and to meet our spouse’s needs to reduce marital conflict and avoid the risk of an affair in our marriage.

The key to meeting our needs lies in our Love Bank: it is an inner scoring device we never knew we had.

The Love Bank underscores that we affect each other emotionally after every encounter; be it pleasurable or painful. 

The accumulation of positive and negative experiences determines our emotional reaction to those we know. We are not actively aware of this but the love units keep coming in or going out, withdrawn or deposited, and keeping scores.

There were promises we made that we only allow our spouse the exclusive right to meet our most important needs, and these needs are strictly reserved for the marriage bond.  

If these needs are not met in our marriage, then we face the powerful temptation to fill it outside of marriage, and enter into an affair, even though we may have very strong moral, ethical, or religious convictions. 

It takes skill and practice to be aware and to learn to meet each other’s needs. 

According to Dr. Harley, in order of its importance, here are man’s most important needs:

  1. Sexual fulfillment
  2. Recreational companionship
  3. An attractive spouse
  4. Domestic support
  5. Admiration

In the order of its importance, the woman’s basic needs in marriage tends to be:

  1. Affection
  2. Conversation
  3. Honesty and openness
  4. Financial support
  5. Family commitment

Married couples like us need to be aware of this most important principle. We need to be less incompatible and be more irresistible to each other. 

We need to PUT IN the effort, AND put our effort in the RIGHT PLACES.

Let us examine how to become more irresistible. 

The Irresistible Husband:

  1. Affection. The husband tells his wife that he loves her with words, cards, flowers, gifts, and common courtesies. He hugs and kisses her many times each day, creating an environment of affection that clearly and repeatedly expresses his love for her.
  2. Conversation. He sets aside time everyday to talk to her. They may talk about events in their lives, their children, their feelings or their plans. The topic is never judgmental, always informative and constructive. She talks to him as much as she would like, and he responds with interest. He is never too busy to “just talk”.  
  3. Honesty and Openness. He tells her everything about himself, leaving nothing out that might later surprise her. He describes his positive and negative feelings, events of his past, his daily schedule and his plans for the future. He never leaves her with a false impression and is truthful about his thoughts, feelings, intentions and behavior.
  4. Financial Support. He assumes the responsibility to house, feed and clothe the family. If his income is insufficient to provide essential support, he resolves the problem by upgrading his skills to increase his salary. He does not work long hours, keeping himself from his wife and his family, but is able to provide necessary support by working sufficient hours. While he encourages his wife to pursue a career, he does not depend on her salary for family living expenses.
  5. Family Commitment. He commits sufficient time and energy to the moral and educational development of the children. He reads to them, engages in sports with them, and takes them on frequent outings. he reads books and attends lectures with his wife on the subject of parenting and child development so that they will do a good job training the children. They discuss methods and objectives until they agree. He does not proceed with any plan of training discipline without her approval. He recognizes that his care of children is critically important to her.

The Irresistible Wife:

  1. Sexual Fulfillment. The wife meets this need by becoming a terrific sexual partner. She studies her own sexual response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in her; then she shares this information with him, and together they learn to have a sexual relationship that both find repeatedly satisfying and enjoyable.
  2. Recreational CompanionshipShe develops an interest in the recreational activities he enjoys most and tries to become proficient at them. If she finds she cannot enjoy them, she encourages him to consider other activities that they can enjoy together. She becomes his favorite recreational companion, and he associates her with his most enjoyable moments of relaxation.
  3. Physical Attractiveness. She keeps herself physically fit with diet and exercise, and she wears her hair, make up and clothes in a way that he finds her attractive and tasteful. He is attracted to her in private and proud of her in public.
  4. Domestic Support.  She creates a home that offers him a refuge from the stresses of life. She manages the household responsibilities in a way that encourages him to spend time at home enjoying his family.  
  5. Admiration. She understands and appreciates him more than anyone else. She reminds him of his value and achievements and helps him maintain self-confidence. She avoids criticizing him. She is proud of him, not out of duty, but from a profound respect for the man she chose to marry.

Our society needs to train people on meeting the needs of others, especially our marriage partner. If you need to make your married life a priority, let’s start!

Let us be irresistible! Are you incompatible or are you irresistible???

Blogger’s Note: If you want to learn how to become irresistible to your spouse, you may want to read the book His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr. and discover in detail how identifying and meeting your most important need will deepen your love and desire for each other.


Life is Amazing!

LENY

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