A Day Of White Water Rafting!

[Moa]

Hi folks, how are you!?
I can’t believe that May has now almost passed and that we’re about to go into the second half of 2018 in just a few days. Time has flown by and it’s hard to grasp that we’ve been in Canada for 6 months already. Anyways – moving on!

This weekend we got to experience one of the most fun things so far on this trip; We went white water rafting on the Kicking Horse river and it was AMAZING!
As you might remember if you’ve read our blog, we recently did a Workaway just outside Golden with a family who were building an earthship. There we got to know Jair, the dad of the family who besides building on their future home also works as a river rafting guide. The season for river rafting has just started which meant there were some new rafting guides in training. Late Saturday night I got a call from Jair asking if we would be interested in going rafting the next day as they needed people to fill the boats for one of the new instructors and we would be able to get a full day of rafting for a fraction of the price – Hell yeah was our answer!
At 10am we showed up at the Glacier Raft Company just outside of Golden where we signed some waivers (Glacier Raft Company may or may not now own our souls – we didn’t really read the fine print), got fitted with wetsuits and got information of what the day would have in store. Approximately an hour later we got onto a bus who took us down to the Kicking Horse river and the start for our rafting experience. Once there, we were given a standard safety talk on what to do if you fell out of the boat and were then assigned our rafting guides for the day. We were also told that this was an ideal time of the year to go rafting as the river was very high from all the melted snow coming down from the mountains. Hell yeah!

Our guide’s name was Dave and he was new to the Glacier Rafting Company but had plenty of experience already as a rafting guide. We were also joined by another new rafting guide, Josh, tagging along in the boat for the day, as well as two English guys who also had been sent there by Jair. Once on the raft you’re not actually strapped into anything, but you sit on the edge of the boat and wedge your feet on the inside as to not fall out. There are also ropes to hold onto on both the outside and the inside of the raft, but other than that it’s left up to yourself to make sure you stay on.

The rafting day was divided in two halves with a lunch break in the middle. The first stretch of the river was fairly mellow and was spent focusing on learning the different commands we needed to know. White water rafting isn’t just floating along on the boat but you actually have to take action and participate in making sure the boat goes where you want it to go! Our little crew quickly nailed the different commands (“forward paddle, back paddle, hold on”) and I’d like to state that I think we were all naturals. Just my personal opinion.

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It was a great way to start the day and get used to being on the river before we hit the bigger rapids in the afternoon. We also stopped by a waterfall along the river that we quickly hiked up to and got under! After an hour or so we stopped for lunch at a little picnic spot next to the river where staff had set up a big BBQ. I had a vegetarian burger and Matilda had grilled chicken and it was super tasty.
It soon got around to getting back onto the river and hit the real waves! We had it explained to us that rafting is usually graded on a scale between 1 and 5, where 1 is moving water and 5 is some real serious stuff that could also be very dangerous if done wrong. The first half of our day had been mostly class 2 with a few class 3’s, and for the afternoon we were about to enter a section of the river with mainly class 4 all the way. Bring it on!

And holy crap. It was so awesome. Matilda and I were both sitting on either side of the front of the boat, which meant we would automatically take the biggest hits of water once we hit the waves. Once we entered that part of the river it was hard to keep track of how long we actually spent there, as you were just focusing on one wave at a time. When you’re on the water as well, the waves look massive! Instead of trying to explain it to you take a look at the video and pictures below showing us getting completely drenched.

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After a while we stopped at another small waterfall mainly to stretch our legs, before hitting the last section of the river. At the last stretch we all jumped out of the raft and just floated along beside it on the river which was also very awesome. I accidentally floated in front of the raft and it took me a while to get back to it, as the current was so strong.
A little bit after 3pm we had reached the end and hauled the rafts up onto the shore and all got back on the bus, hyped up after an incredible day on the water. The bus took us back to the base where beer was being passed around, to celebrate that everyone who went out that morning had made their way back. At least that was the excuse for the beer drinking and I’m just going to go with it.
So that was the story of both mine and Matilda’s first ever rafting experience! I can honestly say that it’s one of the funnest things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait for another opportunity to do it again. I’ve had it on my bucket list for quite some time so – tick! I would also like to add a MASSIVE thank you to Jair for setting us up and to the Glacier Raft Company for an incredible day on the river. If you are ever in the area and want this experience, they are an ideal company to go with and you won’t regret it.

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Moa goes skiing in Lake Louise!

Alright, first of all – you will have to excuse our lack of updates here and specifically MY lack of updates. We are currently living off-grid with no internet and have been doing so for the last few weeks, so charging computers and getting access to good wifi is not the easiest. I am also a forgetful and lazy person. Oh well. Moving on! 

It’s time to tell you all about my little ski adventure that I went on back in the middle of March – better late than never right!?

I’ve been skiing since I was 12 years old and I LOVE it. I’ve been lucky enough to have gone on several ski holidays with my family over the years, mainly to the Alps in Austria but also to places around Sweden and Norway. However, skiing is expensive – so when I moved my butt to London almost 6 years ago I couldn’t really afford to go anymore and my ski adventures temporarily stopped. Until now!

When I first set my mind on going to Canada, I just knew that I couldn’t go here without skiing. I’m pretty sure it would be a crime, since Canada is famous for having some of the best and most famous ski resorts in the entire world. The area we are living in is actually not far from the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, famous for its champagne power and especially off piste and backcountry skiing.

I considered going to Kicking Horse but when I saw a map of the resort and the mostly black and double black diamond trails, I kinda chickened out… what if I’d forgotten everything that is skiing!? I didn’t remember what level I was actually at and how different it would be to ski in North America instead of Europe. After some research and googling I instead decided that I was going to go to Lake Louise – A slightly kinder ski resort and with much more variety. Plus, this meant I could make a mini ski holiday out of it!

Since Matilda isn’t a skier or even remotely interested in winter sports, I booked myself a single bus ticket and a bed at a hostel in Lake Louise for 5 days for a mini ski vacation by my lonesome. I was pretty damn excited! I was leaving on a Monday and arriving back at the ranch on the Friday, which gave me 3 full days of skiing plus a half day on the Friday to check out the famous lake.

I set off around lunch time on Monday towards Golden to catch my afternoon Greyhound bus to Lake Louise. Since public transport is non-existent in these parts of Canada and I don’t have a car, my plan was to hitchhike into Golden (a 20 minute drive). This is fairly easy and a common thing to do here and after about 10 minutes wait a kind neighbour on her way to town stopped to give me a lift. I got to the Greyhound station, checked in my bag, grabbed a veggie burger from A&W and got on my buys.

The bus was delayed with an hour due to avalanche control on the highway (where the highway is closed so that controlled avalanches can be set off, also very common here in spring time) and I arrived in Lake Louise around 6pm. Lake Louise is a tiny village so I quickly found my hostel 5 minutes down the road. I was staying at HI Hostel, the only hostel there, and had booked a bed in a 4-person dorm. The hostel was quite big and VERY cosy, and was decorated in your average mountain lodge style with wooden panels,  big comfy sofas and trail maps on the walls. I had dinner at the hostel café with two guys who were in the area ice-climbing, who so kindly offered me a seat at their table when they heard I was alone. Much appreciated! To make sure I was going to be well-rested for my first day of skiing, I called it an early night and went to bed shortly after dinner. 

Day 2 – Ski day!
I woke up bright and early, had some breakfast in the hostel kitchen and then headed to a ski rental shop in the village center where I was meeting my Danish friend Marcus at 8am sharp. I had met Marcus a few weeks prior at the climbing gym in Golden and we quickly became friends. Marcus lived in Lake Louise and worked at a dogsledding company for the season, so when I told him I was going there to ski he decided to join me on the slopes for a day which was awesome. 

After renting our ski gear and picking up our lift passes we hopped on the free shuttle bus to the Lake Louise Ski Resort and headed up the gondola to the top of the mountain. It was time to ski – and what a perfect day for it. Lake Louise has three different areas to ski on; the Front Side, the Back Bowls and The Larch. All three are easily accessible from anywhere on the resort and it’s easy to go from one to another. For reference, below is the trail map of the area.

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We had been told that the Back Bowls had better skiing in the morning since the Front side usually was quite icy at this time of the day, so that’s where we headed. I quickly realised that I’d had no reason to be nervous about my ski abilities – as soon as I clipped my boots into my skis it was like I had never stopped! Down the slopes we went. We started off easy on a green trail but quickly moved on to blue trails after a few runs. In the afternoon we found our favorite run of the day (#133, Boomerang) which started at the summit of Mount Whitehorn and ended at the bottom of the resort. You could only get there by taking a very steep button lift all the way to the top – it’s the only lift I’ve ever seen graded with a Double Black Diamond! 

I’m going to let the pictures and video below speak for itself, but we had an incredible day skiing under blue skies and having lunch and beer in the sunshine in between our runs.  

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We skied until the lifts closed at 4pm and then headed back to the village, where Marcus had someone picking him up to go back to where he was staying just outside Lake Louise. I went back to my hostel, had a shower, went for dinner with a few other hostel-stayers and basically passed out in bed at 10pm. 

Day 2 – Another ski day!
This day I was flying solo. I arrived at the ski resort just after 9am when the lifts opened and headed to the Back Bowl. Once again, the skies were bright blue and the conditions amazing. I decided to push my limits a bit this day and spent the first half of the day making my way down several of the Black Diamond runs. In the afternoon I joined a free guided ski tour around the area where a seasoned staff member shows you their favourite runs based on your skill level. 

Again, I will let pictures speak for themselves. What an incredible day I had!

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The evening was mellow, I was too tired to really do anything else. The most eventful thing was probably that I finished reading my book, ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. I picked out a new one from the “Leave one, take one” bookshelf in the lounge area and started reading ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes – I’m still working on this by the way so no spoilers! 

Day 3 – Last Ski Day + Powder Day
I woke up at 7am to snow falling outside my window. It had been snowing all through the night which meant one thing – powder day! I got dressed, had breakfast and got on the first shuttle to the ski hill. With all the new powdery snow that had come in over night this brought on some exciting skiing for the day. At 10am I decided to join another free guided ski tour, as it was a lot of fun the day before. It didn’t disappoint and by the end of the almost 2 hours long tour I had met a lovely retired couple from California who asked if I wanted to ski with them the next few hours – I gladly accepted the offer. 

The snow kept falling all day and while the visibility wasn’t the greatest, the incredible skiing made up for it. My new Californian friends called it a day around 2.30pm but I decided to push through and ignore the throbbing in my legs and kept on skiing until they closed the lifts – it was my last day after all. At 3.59 (no kidding) I got on the last lift to the top of the mountain and made my run back down as long as possible.

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I then headed back to the village and reluctantly returned my ski gear to the rental shop. Back at the hostel it was Bonfire Thursday so I spent the evening eating marshmallows around the fire and hanging out with some other hostel folks. I call that a perfect way to end a ski day!

Friday – A visit to Lake Louise (the actual lake)
I awarded myself with a well-deserved snooze and slept for a good 10 hours. After having breakfast, checking out of the hostel and placing my bag in storage for the day it was time for my last adventure for the trip – I was going to check out the actual Lake Louise! 

Lake Louise is probably one of Canada’s most famous lakes and if you hang out on Pinterest and Instagram, you’ve probably seen its crystal blue waters surrounded by mountains and the beautiful Chataeu on one end. In winter it’s completely frozen over which means you can walk across it to the other side.

From the village it’s probably about an hour’s walk up a winding mountain road to get to the lake. I started walking but my plan was to hitchhike as soon as a car came by, and sure enough I was picked up 5 minutes later by a nice English guy who worked up by the lake. 

And holy crap – It’s freaking beautiful. It takes you a while to just take in the greatness of it all. The lake is massive and the mountains surrounding it seems even larger in comparison. Right behind the lake there’s also the Victoria glacier which is an incredible thing to see. I started walking across the lake and once I got to the other side I got to see the most incredible ice falls. On one of the larger ones there were ice climbers making their way up, so I spent a good 20 minutes just watching them do their thing. And that’s the moment I added “ice climbing” to my bucketlist. 

Once again, I am going to let these pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy. 

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I spent about 2.5 hours in total roaming around the lake. Around 1pm I had to get back to the village and managed to get a lift by a nice delivery guy who was just coming from the hotel. I still had a few hours left until my bus departed back to Golden, so I spent them walking around the tiny centre of Lake Louise and looked around in the various souvenir shops and just thinking about what an incredible week I had just had. 

So that’s how I ticked off “Skiing in Canada” from my bucket list! 

Cleveland – “It’s not too bad”

It all started back in Canada when we were planning our US travels for the next few weeks. We realized that we had a 3 day gap between leaving Washington D.C and had plans to arrive in Chicago and we needed to decide on a travel route. I had already cracked a joke or two on Cleveland’s expense (“worst case we’ll just go to Cleveland, ha!”) because what you hear repeatedly in American tv-shows and movies are that Cleveland sucks. Cleveland is the worst. Cleveland is so boring. You get the picture! We knew it was kind of in the middle of our two destinations, but were looking at ways around it.
Anyways, whatever route we looked at the one through Cleveland ended up being the cheapest one and as we are travelling on a budget we gave in and suddenly had plans to go to Cleveland for 2.5 days.

Early in the morning on February 5th we dragged ourselves to the Washington D.C Greyhound bus station and got on an 11 hour (!!!) bus with final destination Cleveland, Ohio. How fun! We were so excited! Yay!

Actually though, the journey wasn’t actually that bad. The drive was mostly, for my part at least, spent listening to true crime podcasts and reading a book. We even got to stop at a rest stop in Pennsylvania along the way, so I can now cross off that state from my list.


We arrived in Cleveland around 5pm and walked to our AirBnb, which was located not too far from what is considered to be “Downtown”. We then headed out to a Chili’s restaurant nearby to have dinner.

The following day we decided to walk into Downtown and explore all that Cleveland had to offer. We headed towards the water (Cleveland is situated by Lake Erie, one of North America’s great lakes) because waterfronts are always nice and to our delight we found a massive Cleveland sign! Obviously we had to sit inside it and take pictures, which you can view below. You’re welcome.


Cleveland is also famous for having a Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and it was situated right nearby. We decided to head there to check it out but we didn’t really feel like paying (budget you know), so we settled on walking around the gift shop for a bit.

After this we thought, “time to finally explore Downtown Cleveland!”. Now let me tell you about Downtown Cleveland. There’s nothing there. Like really. You might think I am exaggerating, but it’s true. We kept walking and walking and looked for anything that resembled a city center but all we found were the occasional café and like 5 Subway restaurants.
We did see one cool place and that was the Cleveland Arcade, an old shopping mall that still looks exactly like it did back in the 1920s. Unfortunately there was not much happening inside the mall, but it was pretty to look at.

We also found a Cleveland gift shop nearby that had t-shirts with slogans such as “Cleveland – it’s not that bad”. So they say.

After our Downtown experience we headed back to our room. Matilda wasn’t feeling too well at this point as she had caught some kind of cold (Cleveland Cold) so as the good friend that I am I decided to check out a climbing gym I’d found on Google that seemed pretty cool. Since it was in another part of the city and I didn’t really feel like wandering around by myself after dark (fun fact: Cleveland has the 5th highest murder rate in the US per capita) I got an Uber there.

“>Warning: This next section will be me geeking out about climbing so if you’re uninterested… Keep scrolling.

The climbing gym is called Climb Cleveland and is a bouldering facility, and it’s seriously awesome. The owner, who apparently built it himself, had focused on adapting it as much as possible after outdoor climbing to make it the ultimate training facility which meant there were a lot of features I hadn’t seen before at a bouldering gym. They have a massive section where you can actually top out onto the floor above like you were climbing a real boulder, a big crack climbing area to destroy those knuckles on and a massive traverse section with holds made from real rocks – just to name a few features. I spent the next 3 hours there climbing and chatting with the staff and other climbers and had a really fun night. By the end of my session I was even offered a ride back from one of the staff members, which I happily accepted. So if you’re a climber and are ever in Cleveland, I can highly recommend Climb Cleveland – it’s definitely one of the coolest bouldering places I’ve been to.

Moving on to Cleveland, day 2. When researching “things to do in Cleveland” I had come across the Cleveland Museum of Art which was supposed to have a great collection of paintings and artifacts. I’m going to be honest, I’m not usually the type of person who goes to art galleries and museums but this one had me intrigued.
We spent a few hours at the museum and indeed, they had a range of cool collections. My personal favorites were an exhibit with old medieval armor and weapons which always fascinates me, as well as a collection of landscape paintings of North America showing scenes of the land before it was developed to the US we know today. They also had a massive collection of artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt that you could geek out about for hours if you wanted to.

After a few hours at the museum we headed back to “Downtown” and bought some groceries for our bus journey the following day. Since we were both quite tired we then decided to go back to our Airbnb, watch a movie and pack. Our bus to Chicago was leaving at 8am the next morning which meant another early start.

All in all, Cleveland wasn’t too fun as a city – but I am all in favor of that a place is what you make of it and the people you meet along the way. Climb Cleveland was amazing and really added some extra points to the city from my part, and the art musem was also a good timewaster. It might not be a place I’d choose to go back to just to simply visit Cleveland, but if I ever randomly travel through it again, I won’t suffer.
Thanks Cleveland!

New York, New York; The Sequel

[Moa]

So while I’m writing this blog post I am actually sitting in Cleveland, Ohio. What better way to spend a morning than reminiscing back to what we did in New York? (This is also an excuse because we’re trying to catch up with our blog posts…) 

In our last blog post (which you can find HERE) Matilda covered the first half of our wonderful New York week, so if you haven’t yet; check it out! Before I dive into the second part I just want to add to her post that the climbing place which I went to on the Monday morning is called Brooklyn Boulders and is AMAZING. So if you’re a climber, I highly recommend that you check it out if you’re ever nearby!

Anyways, Tuesday!
We were approaching the end of our New York stay and by this point we had already crossed of quite a few things from our bucket lists. While we had already spent a significant amount of time hanging around the NBC building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza when lining up for Saturday Night Live we didn’t get the chance to check out their gift shop properly (I love me a good gift shop), so that became our first destination of the day. A lot of both mine and Matilda’s favourite TV-shows aired on NBC (Parks & Recreation anyone?) so they were bound to have some pretty cool stuff!

As soon as we walked through the doors we were approached by a staff member.
“Hi, do you have anything planned for this afternoon?” 
We didn’t. 
“Do you want free tickets to the monologue rehearsal of Late Night with Seth Myers?”
Uhm, yes? You had us at free! 

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Yay – free tickets!

We were handed a ticket each and were told to come back at 3.30pm and suddenly we had a plan for the day. Since we didn’t want to go too far from the Rockefeller Center we decided to check out a building called the Citigroup Tower which I knew was nearby. This building is quite famous as it’s a skyscraper built on stilts and it has an interesting background story; basically the design ended up being flawed and there was a big risk of the tower collapsing! Who could have known that a 59 story building on stilts wasn’t a good idea? You can read more about it here if you’re interested, it’s a pretty cool story!

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The Citigroup Tower

The above picture isn’t mine as I sadly couldn’t get any good pictures of the building, but regardless it was impressive to see in person. Whilst on this little mission we found out that our Australian friend Harley, who we volunteered together with at the farm in Canada, had just arrived in New York. He also had time to kill so we decided to meet up and spent the next hour wandering around Midtown Manhattan together. 

Fast-forward to 4pm and suddenly Matilda and I found ourselves back inside the NBC building for the Seth Myers monologue rehearsal. If you’re unsure what a monologue rehearsal is (which I was – we had no idea what we had signed up for) it’s where they try out the jokes written for the upcoming show with an audience for the first time and decide which ones are funny and which are not. This was a really cool experience as it was quite relaxed – Seth Myers was dressed in a hoodie and was stood chatting with the audience for a bit before they started and then they did a few takes on the monologue. It was basically a free comedy show which lasted for just under an hour – Thanks NBC! 

Below is the bit we got to see;

At 5pm we found ourselves back outside the studios. We felt that we might as well keep this NBC-related day going, so we decided to sign up for last minute standby tickets for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that same evening and were once again told to return a few hours later to see if we could get in. 

We decided to head over to the Marriott Marquis which is in the centre of Times Square as they have a spinning 360 restaurant and bar called The View, located at the top of the building. Yeah that’s right, the whole restaurant spins and gives you an amazing view over all of Manhattan – I can highly recommend to go here if you’re travelling on a budget! It’s completely free to go up as long as you order something from the bar, so instead of spending $30 on a ticket to the Empire State Building or Top of The Rock, this is a great and cheap alternative for a skyscraper view of the city. 

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Our view from The View

Around 7pm we had made our way back to Rockefeller Plaza (again) but sadly our luck had now run out – as we were last in line we didn’t manage to get inside to watch the show. We didn’t really mind though, as we had already gotten to see Saturday Night Live a few nights before and this also meant we could go for NEW YORK PIZZA! 

Our Airbnb hosts had recommended Joe’s Pizza for this activity and luckily there was one located 10 minutes away from us. As a pizza lover and advocator for Swedish pizza being the best kind of pizza (if you’re a Swede you know what I’m talking about) I was doubting this hype about New York pizza. However, this doubt was quickly knocked sideways because damn – That was some delicious pizza. I just mentioned the word pizza 7 times in for sentences by the way, go me. 

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Matilda is excited for the pizza

After pizza we found a desert place called Junior’s Restaurant & Cheesecake which served… you guessed it, cheesecake. If you’re going to be unhealthy you might as well go all the way right? This place was also AMAZING and the cheesecake pieces are massive, definitely worth the money. Go here, you won’t be disappointed. Eat all the food. With our bellies full and an awesome day behind us we took the subway back to Brooklyn.

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Don’t trust this picture – she loved her cheesecake
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This is how much I enjoyed mine!

Wednesday morning came around and Harley met up with us in Brooklyn to spend the day exploring together. We didn’t really have a plan on where to go but the weather was beautiful so we just started walking. Somehow we ended up in Queens and Long Island City which offered some great views over the Manhattan skyline along the way. We decided to cross Queensborough Bridge which was not as pretty as we had hoped and ended up just being a very cold half hour walk next to a highway. Oh well, not everything can be picturesque and perfect, so I’ll forgive New York for that. Or just blame Queens. 

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Beautiful Manhattan

After some coffee at Starbucks (there are a million Starbucks in New York by the way) the three of us headed to Central Park. Matilda and I had already been there on our first day but as we were about to find out, we had barely seen the start of it. We spent a good few hours exploring it further, walking around the lakes and making friends with the squirrels and birds. In the middle of Central Park we found Belvedere Castle which you can go up in and it offers an incredible view over the whole park.

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When the sun started to go down and we all realised how cold it actually was becoming we headed to 30 Rockefeller Plaza (AGAIN) to grab some food at one of the restaurants there followed by a drink at an Irish bar nearby. It was now 7pm and time to say goodbye to Harley before we headed back to Brooklyn for our last New York activity – Another comedy show! 

One of the things both myself and Matilda had wanted to do in New York was to s hopefully catch a show by one of our favorite comedians as they quite often do last minute shows here and there. Luckily enough, we found out that comedian and SNL cast member Chris Redd was doing a standup show at a venue literally 3 minutes from where we were staying, so of course we had to check it out. 

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This is how close we were…

The show was called Comedians You Should Know and was located in the back of a bowling alley/bar called The Gutter in quite a small room. As we got into the venue quite early and were seated at the very front of the stage – the last place you want to be at standup comedy if you want to avoid getting pulled into the jokes… I’m happy to say that I managed to get through the evening without this happening to me, but Matilda was not so lucky. She had Chris Redd do a handful of jokes on her expense which was something I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I’m such a good friend. The night eventually came to an end and the show was AWESOME – all the comedians on stage killed it. I’m pretty sure I had a full core workout just by laughing so much.

We headed back to our Airbnb to pack our bags and prepare for the next day, all of which seemed bittersweet. By this time I had completely fallen in love with New York and knew that I would be returning to this amazing city.

So that’s all of our New York adventures! Like you’ve probably understood by this point I am in complete awe of “The Big Apple” and I know that I still haven’t seen more than just the surface of it. I’d love to come back again and explore it even further, but all in good time right? 

So thanks for everything New York – we will be back! 

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We attended Saturday Night LIVE!

[Moa]

What’s up folks!? We’re in NEW YORK!
We’re having a blast here so far and I can pretty safely say that we have both fallen in love with this city. There’s going to be a few blog posts about our activities here, but first of all I want to tell you about one of the coolest things I have ever done that happened this weekend… WE WERE AT SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!!! Here’s the story of how it happened.

So on Saturday we got to fulfil a dream that both myself and Matilda have had for years – we got to sit in the audience of the Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal. To add some extra cherries on the top this week’s show was hosted by Will Ferrell (!!!) and the musical guest was no other than Chris Stapleton, one of my all time favorite singers and songwriters.

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Pictures property of NBC ©2018/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, Saturday Night Live (SNL for short) is an American live variety show with different comedy sketches and has been running since 1975. Some of the most successful comedians and actors in the world have been part of the SNL cast, including our host for the week Will Ferrell who used to be on the show as a regular cast member. Even if you’ve never seen the full show, you’ve probably seen some sketches here and there on Youtube!

Anyways, the past few years Matilda and I have both watched every episode of the show once it’s come out and have talked about how amazing and cool it would be to see how they put it all together live and to see some of our favorite sketches come to life for real. So when we planned a trip to New York, trying to get SNL tickets was on the top of our list of things we wanted to do!

However, getting tickets to SNL is not an easy deal. On the morning of each show you are able to get so called “standby tickets” which is basically a piece of paper saying that IF there’s extra space in the evening, you will be able to fill that space. However, even if you get a standby ticket you’re not guaranteed to get in as it all depends on how many spaces they have in the evening. If the host of the night decides to bring a lot of guests for example, there might be less space. To get these tickets, you have to be at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (the heart of the NBC studios) at 7am when they are distributed – and there’s usually a line which means you have to line up several hours in advance.

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30 Rockefeller Plaza, the NBC headquarter

So that’s exactly what we did. We set our alarms for just after midnight, packed our warmest clothes and headed into Manhattan to start a very, very cold night of waiting! When we got there at 1.30 in the morning there were about 70 people in front of us who had already waited for hours, so it was a good thing we left when we did.

The waiting wasn’t as bad as I thought though, the first few hours seemed to pass quite quickly and we were keeping relatively warm thanks to the emergency blanket I’d brought with me – that’s what they’re made for right? After a few hours a food truck came by giving everyone in line complimentary breakfast and hot beverages on behalf of SNL, which also helped. The last hour was the worst, because that’s when you were starting to really feel the cold (it was about 3 degrees) and no matter how you were sitting you’d be uncomfortable – turns out that pavement isn’t very soft. Who knew? By this point I was wearing 6 layers of clothes…

 

Fast forward until about 7.30am and SNL staff suddenly appeared and started handing out standby tickets – the wait was over!

At this point you need to decide which show you want to attend – you can choose between the dress rehearsal at 7pm or the main televised show at 11.30pm. We had heard that the chances were bigger to get into the dress rehearsal and that you get to see more sketches too as that’s when they try out what will and will not work for the TV live show, so that’s what we chose. We ended up getting number 40 and 41 in line for the dress rehearsal, which was supposedly really good! Happy and excited to have finally gotten our sought-after piece of paper, we took the subway home and fell asleep at 9am.

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The highly sought-after ticket which unfortunately they didn’t let us keep after the show

We woke up later that afternoon feeling slightly drunk on the lack of sleep, but in great moods none the less. We were (probably) going to see Saturday Night Live that evening! At that point I was still nervous something would go wrong and that they would turn us away at the door. We decided to walk towards the Williamsburg bridge where we found a pizza place and had a well-deserved breakfast/lunch/whatever you call it. Then we walked over the bridge to Manhattan and kept walking until we reached 30 Rockefeller Plaza yet again! Turns out that walking from Brooklyn to the middle of Manhattan is further than you’d think and my feet were to pay for this decision later…

The entrance for the people with standby tickets was through the NBC shop in the middle of the building, so that’s were we went. The staff lined everyone up in the order they had tickets and looking around us we could see that number 40 and 41 was in the first group of people they were going to let through security. Almost there!

After another 40 minutes or so of waiting they started letting our group through security. Except for a minor freakout over that I had forgotten to take my pocketknife out of my bag (what if they won’t let me in!? Turns out I could leave it in a box to collect after the show, phew) everything went quick and smooth. The security staff kept repeating that even though we were now through security we were not guaranteed to see the show until we were actually in our seats – they could still turn us away if they had to!

After even more waiting they finally led us further into the NBC building and gave us a wristband with “Saturday Night Live” printed all over and we were told to all turn off our phones – it was getting close. We were led into an elevator and were taken through corridors decorated with pictures from the show over the years, and finally through a curtain that revealed the actual set of Saturday Night Live. We were taken to our seats and sat down and then realised – WE MADE IT! One of our main bucket list items were to come true!

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The show. Was. Incredible.
Obviously we had no doubts about this already, but it was just incredible to get to see the whirlwind that is SNL happen right in front of you and to see a comedy legend like Will Ferrell do his thing. Chris Stapleton was incredible and performed two of my personal favorite songs from his new album, Midnight Train To Memphis and Hard Livin’. But the highlight was still to get to see the SNL cast in their sketches and running back and forth to wardrobe whilst the crew moved the sets around the room in a speed that was highly impressive to witness. Halfway through the show, when they were changing over from Chris Stapleton’s performance to our favorite segment Weekend Update I realised that at that moment right there, that everything about this evening was perfect. Ahhh!!!

When the show had finished we walked down the Manhattan streets and found a Wendy’s where we stopped for a late dinner. We kept repeating “we JUST SAW SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” to each other and felt like we were on a high! This kept being repeated for several days after, just to kind of remind ourselves of it every now and then…

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So that’s the story of how we were in the audience of Saturday Night Live! We’ve done several other very cool things during this stay in New York too which will be up in seperate blog posts eventually, but this one event deserved it’s own post. Because it’s something we have talked about wanting to do for so long, it felt so surreal when it actually happened. If you want to see the episode that we attended it’s the one which aired on January 27th, Season 43 episode 14! Below are some pictures from the show, as we couldn’t take any ourselves;

 

2018 = MADE!!!

Our Travel Itinerary (so far)

[Moa]

Hi everyone, hope you’ve liked our recent updates about the so called farm life we’re currently trying! I thought I would get you all up to speed with not only what we have done, but what our plans are for the next month or so. Our time here at the farm is coming to an end which feels very bittersweet as we’ve had an amazing time. Hans has been a wonderful host and we’ve also gotten to know Harley from Australia and Nicki from Germany, two other helpers who’s been staying here with us. But every ending is the start of something new right? 

So, on Wednesday we are packing our bags and are taking the train to Montréal where we will be staying for just one night before we get on a train to… NEW YORK CITY!
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Yes, we are finally making our way over to the US and I am so, so excited – I’ve always wanted to go and over the next few weeks I’m gonna be able to tick off several things on my travel bucket list. The train from Montréal to New York takes approximately 10 hours and is supposedly one of the “Most Beautiful In North America“. 

We are staying in New York for a week, to give us as much time as possible to explore the city. So far we don’t have much planned except to try to go to a stand-up comedy show and catch some live music somewhere for a night! On Saturday we are also attempting to get tickets to one of mine and Matilda’s favorite shows – Saturday Night Live. More on that if we succeed… 

After New York we are getting a Greyhound bus to the capital of the United States of America – Washington D.C!
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We thought we’d give Trump a hand now that the government apparently has shut down… hehe. Again, Washington DC has for some reason always kind of fascinated me and I really can’t wait to explore it. Apparently all the museums there are free so we will be going to a lot of those, as they’re supposed to be very good. That is of course, if the government isn’t still shut down… C’mon guys! We’ve also applied to go on a guided tour at the Pentagon which would be AMAZING, but we won’t know for sure until a few days before as they have to do a background check – which I guess is pretty fair considering it’s the Pentagon after all. Hopefully it should be fine though, as I’d like to think we’re not too shady. 

After DC is where our journey gets a little weird. We had planned to go to Chicago to visit a good friend of mine for a long weekend, but we realised after we had booked accommodation in DC that;

  1. We have to leave DC on a Monday but are not going to be in Chicago until Thursday
  2. There’s no easy way to get from DC to Chicago
  3. It’s really far to Chicago!!! 

After some searching, comparing and staring at Google Maps we found a route that seemed easy and cheap – So that is why we are going to Cleveland, Ohio, for 3 days.
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All I’ve ever heard about Cleveland are jokes and one-liners in tv-shows and movies always saying that Cleveland is the most boring place in the US… After some research I have found out that in 2010 Cleveland was deemed the “most miserable city in the US” according to a poll – so let’s see if it lives up to the hype! Worst case I’m sure they have cinemas in Cleveland and you can’t go wrong with going to the cinema. 

After Cleveland we are taking another Greyhound bus to Chicago where we are staying with my awesome friend Jared.

We met in Paris a couple of years ago when we were both travelling there and he and his friend Kevin were exchange students in London. Jared is gonna show us the best of Chicago and is so nice that he lets us stay on his sofa for 3 whole nights – we promise to not be too annoying. 

After Chicago our little US trip is coming to an end as we will make our way back to Canada for the next big adventure, which somehow seems to be even more incredibly awesome. From Chicago we will fly to Calgary, Alberta where we then will make our way to a small city in The Rocky Mountains called Golden. In Golden we are getting picked up by our next WorkAway host called Leo who will drive us to his – wait for it – BUFFALO RANCH. Yes, we are going to be living and working on the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in the middle of The Rockies surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature and scenery in the world. Banff National Park for example will only be about an hour away, which is a place I’ve always dreamed of going to. 

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Our future host Leo and his buffalos – take a look at his website leodowney.com to read more about the ranch we’re going to be working at as well as check out his music!
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Banff National Park, just an hour’s drive away
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Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch

I can’t describe how excited I am for this next chapter. It’s always been a dream of mine to go to The Rocky Mountains and explore the nature there. It seems like one of those truly magical places that are still left untouched and I don’t think pictures can do it justice.  To then add buffalos to this mix is just too good to be true. What’s also going to be incredibly exciting is that Leo is a musician as well, so I’m sure we are going to all get along wonderfully and create some beautiful tunes together. So that’s it!

Ottawa ➞ Montréal ➞ New York City ➞ Washington D.C ➞ Cleveland ➞ Chicago ➞ Calgary ➞ Golden

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The travel route between January 24th – February 14th

8 cities, 3 Canadian provinces, 9 US states, 2 train rides, 4 bus rides, 2 flights, 22 days. 

What do you think? Any suggestions on what we should do in all of these places? We welcome any and all and hope that you will stick with us and keep on reading this blog throughout our journey! 

Temporary farm life in Kenmore

[Moa]

Alright so, turns out that a consistent blogging is quite difficult after all – SORRY! We’re going to do our best to get you all up to speed and keep these blog posts coming a little bit more frequently.

So, where are we and what have we been up to?
The past 2 weeks we have stayed at a small farm in Kenmore, a tiny town situated outside of Ottawa, Ontario, where we are helping out in exchange of accommodation and food. We arranged all this through a website called Workaway.info, which I can highly recommend to anyone who are looking to travel on a budget. As described by Workaway themselves;

Workaway.info holds a database of families, individuals or organisations in an extensive range of different countries who have registered with us and are looking for volunteer help in a huge range of different fields. From painting to planting, building to babysitting and shopping to shearing, Workaway.info aims to introduce working travellers and language learners to like minded hosts, without having to pay expensive agency fees. 

So in exchange for accommodation and food we work an approximate of 5 hours/day 5 days a a week, which is a pretty amazing deal if you think about it. The “work” is usually very rewarding and doesn’t feel as work at all because you are always learning new things. We are staying with our host Hans, a lovely German gentleman who moved to Canada about 9 years ago. Our days consist of helping him with his horses, cats, dog, wood stove and general chores around the farm which might need doing. 

We first arrived here on January 2nd after taking the train from Toronto the same morning. Hans picked us up from the train station a little later than originally planned (our train had been delayed due to “extremely cold weather”) and then took us to a local diner for some well-deserved pizza. After refuelling ourselves we kept driving to his home right on the edge of Kenmore, Ontario, which is about 40 minutes outside of Ottawa. Hans’ home is absolutely amazing and I felt at home almost instantly. We each got our own room and share the farm with Hans, the cats Princess and Crazy Cat, the dog Chiquita (the cutest and fluffiest dog we’ve ever seen), and last but not least the horses PJ (Plain Jane) and Snowman. I’ll let Matilda introduce you further to the animals in the next blog post along with the photographs she’s been taking of them – but let’s just say they all have their strong individual personalities! 

 

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Our temporary home in Kenmore, Ontario

A regular day on the farm:
We normally get up around 8.30am for some breakfast, to then get dressed and go out to the horses for the first chores of the day. The morning routine consists of bringing in wood for the house (the house is mainly kept warm using wood stoves), cleaning the stable of horse poop, giving the horses hay, fill up their water and fire up the wood stove in Hans’ workshop. We usually finish this around 10.30 and then we might take Chiquita for a little walk. During the day Hans is working from his office in Ottawa and he usually leaves while we are out in the stable. 

After the morning chores have been finished we pretty much have free reigns until the evening, as long as we keep the fires going in the stoves. Sometimes we might be given additional tasks to fix during that day, such clearing the path to the hot tub which is standing in the garden… 

Our chores start again in the evening where we once again feed the horses, clean their hooves and make sure that the fire is still going in the workshop.

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Matilda and PJ
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Our darling Chiquita on an afternoon walk in the snow

The rest of the day is usually spent quite relaxed. There are no stores or restaurants or anything at all really nearby, so we are really bound to the farm since we don’t have a car – but I don’t mind this at all. In a way, it’s very therapeutic. After feeling like I was running through the marathon that was 2017 it’s a well-needed break where I get to slow down and just be. Allowing yourself to not be productive is sometimes the best thing you can do I think. I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to do that for so long. 

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Hanging out with my new friend Princess

We’ve also spent all this extra free time on our music writing new songs and looking over our repertoire from the last few months because we have a gig coming up next weekend! That’s right, right here on the farm we’re staying we’re going to hold a small living room concert for an afternoon for some of the locals and neighbours around here. We’ll make sure to write a separate blog post about that, because I’m sure it’s going to be a special event. 

The weather: Snow, snow, so much snow!!! And it just keeps coming… like Matilda mentioned in her previous post the weather was one of the things we worried about before going – how could was it actually going to be? What does minus 25 feel like? Will we freeze to death? We’ve now found answers to these questions and no, it’s actually not as bad as we thought it would be. Being a person who’s constantly cold (queue the “but you’re from Sweeeeden, how can you be coooold?” comments) I was seriously scared that I was underestimating the weather in Canada before I went. But I’m fine! Like really! Okay, so there were a few days last week where there was a storm and the wind chill got to -40 degrees and it actually hurt to be outside – but besides that it’s completely manageable. As us Swedes say: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I’ve found this to be very true – as long as I’m wearing my thermal underwear I’m staying relatively warm! 

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A look at our daily view – the snow-covered garden!

So that’s the update for the day – now you know what we’ve been up to. Sorry again for the lack of updates but then again, I think that was well-needed to. Now that I’ve been here for some time I’ve found my place more, which I think is important to do before you share it with others like this. Keep checking in here for another update soon where Matilda will share some of the beautiful photography she’s been taking of the surroundings and animals here.

Also, if you have any questions at all or if there’s something specific you want us to write about – please feel free to ask them whether it’s here, on Twitter, Facebook or by email. 🙂

Peace out! 

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We love this dog so much we might just keep her…