Gamla Stan | Stockholm, Sweden

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Gamla Stan is probably my favorite area in Stockholm. We were only in Stockholm for five days and we found ourselves in the area more than once. The first time was a failed attempt at a Christmas photo and the other was at one of the greatest bars we’ve visited.

Gamla Stan or Old Town is one of the most preserved Medieval Towns in Europe. Stockholm was founded in 1252 in the area of Gamla Stan, which makes it one of the most visited areas. Markus and I went early one morning in the hopes of capturing our Christmas card photo. When we arrived, there was a large truck blocking the iconic colorful buildings. Not wanting to waste the morning, we found a cute cafe and ate breakfast on the terrace. While we waited for our food, Markus went out to get video footage of the beautiful square. A family stopped and asked him to take a photo. I saw this as a one time opportunity and quickly ran over to ask them to take photos of us too. The photos weren’t too bad, but honestly they weren’t that great either. Thank goodness we decided to go to Nyhavn later in the week and took photos there.

After breakfast, Markus and I did a little sightseeing elsewhere, but planned to return to Gamla Stan later that evening. Markus found this amazing bar right in the middle of the square, Pharmarium. Even though it’s in the middle of a tourist heavy area, the vibe at Pharmarium is anything but that. The bar was inspired by the first pharmacy that opened nearby in 1575. Inside it’s dark and moody with tons of Persian rugs and leather chairs. I loved everything about Pharmarium and felt right at home. The vibe is definitely witchy and alchemical since all the cocktails are prepared with seasonal ingredients and traditional medicinal herbs. Markus and I only planned on having one drink, but the first two we ordered were so good that we had another round. There are few bars that I wish I could go back to and Pharmarium is 100% in my top three bars in the world. If you ever find yourself in Stockholm, this is the one place I would recommend!

Joyeux Noël 2018 | Nyhavn | Copenhagen, Denmark

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I honestly cannot believe that we’re only eight days away from Christmas. I’m not going to lie, 2018 has been a rough and difficult year and I’m just ready for 2019. Despite the tough trials and challenges, there were still some really great memories. Out trip to Scandinavia couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. July was a rough month, so a trip right at the end of August was perfect.

For our annual Christmas photo, we had three cities full of great spots to choose from, but we ultimately chose Nyhavn in Copenhagen. We scoped it out the day before and were immediately blown away by the iconic colorful buildings. The next morning, we woke up really early to avoid the crowds, headed out in our matching crane shirts and found the perfect spot. I didn’t think we would top our photo at Château de Boucéel last year, but I think we did. Anyway dear friends, I hope you have a Happy Christmas and a spectacular New Year!

Harvest Time Orchards 2018 | Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

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For some reason this year, Markus and I took longer than normal to head out to the orchards. When we finally made the trek out to Twin Lakes, all the trees were bare and the store was devoid of a single apple. It was kind of sad, but it’s okay because the main reason we drove almost two hours was the apple cider donuts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos, because we ended up devouring the entire order in minutes. No joke, I would probably drive another two hours to eat those amazing donuts!

Musée Océanographique de Monaco | Monaco

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Musée Océanographique de Monaco is one of the most visited marine science museums in Europe as well as one of the oldest. It was founded by Prince Albert I in 1910, who wanted to have a palace dedicated exclusively to art and science. Markus found out that Jacques Cousteau was the director at the museum for 31 years. Markus has loved and admired Cousteau since he was a kid and watched his program on PBS.  So it was a given that we would visit. The actual building itself is quite stunning and picturesque and is situated high on a cliff that overlooks the Mediterranean.

Our favorite part of the museum was Oceanomania, "the biggest collection of marine world curiosities." The beautiful "Cabinet of Curiosities" is straight out of a Wes Anderson movie and unlike anything I've seen in real life. It's the sort of thing Markus and I thrive on. We love the old, weird and interesting. We spent a majority of our time at the museum scouring through the collection of skeletons and fossils, models, diving equipment and antique books.  After we finished exploring the museum, we headed up to the roof.  There we found breathtaking views of Monaco as well as the Mediterranean. There was also a surprisingly good restaurant on the roof where we ate appropriately ate a delicious seafood lunch of moules et frites and a seafood pasta. I'm so glad that Markus insisted that we visit Monaco and Musée Océanographique, because it ended up being one of the best memories from our trip!

The Cité de Carcassonne, France

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The stunning medieval city of Carcassone is perched up on hill above the River Aude. The town is very old and dates back to the 3rd century A.D. That's over 2,500 years of history! The town has lived through the Romans, Crusaders and more. The town itself is still inhabited and from the looks of it, is solely sustained on tourism. There were restaurants, specialty shops and souvenir shops galore. That was one of the things that I disliked about Carcassone and felt very similar to Mont Saint-Michel. There was too much emphasis on the touristy things and not on the history. If I didn't do research before it's possible we could've fallen prey to a tourist trap! It's just one of those places that you have to find the hidden gems. Despite all of this, it's a beautiful medieval city and I'm glad that we were able to visit.