Fitness wellness travel: Stavanger, Norway

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

A small holiday is also a holiday. And a holiday facilitates recovery and performance; this means fitness. If there is no time for a real holiday, you can create your own look-alike (e.g. transform a work trip or an extended weekend). In this case a mini-cruise to Norway.
Last weekend I took the super ferry MS Bergensfjord to a training event in Norway, and was able to energize – have a mini-holiday – for two days in Stavanger before the workshops in Sandnes.Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the World (and one of the richest, too, because of the oil), unfortunately also one of the most expensive …

There are approx. 5 mio. Norwegians and in Greater Stavanger, the third city of Norway, there are about 130.000 inhabitants.Stavanger was founded in 1125, when the Stavangers cathedral was inaugurated. The city is a mix of buildings from many timeperiods and in the city centre, there are a lot of wooden houses from around 1800 and 1900.

Stavanger rosa hus Stavanger street and buildings foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger buildings foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger building foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger city Marina Aagaard fitness blogApart from old houses Stavanger, which is centre of the Norwegian oil industry has a lot of modern company buildings and exciting new housing as well as exciting art and progressive street art.
Norsk Oljemuseum Stavanger Norge Foto Henrik ElstrupStavanger Petrol Museum front foto Marina Aagaard Norsk Oljemuseum, The Norwegian Petroleum Museum (photos above), is an interesting structure and recommended, if you are interested in machinery, oil riggs, museums (I am).Stavanger Geoparken Norge foto Marina Aagaard

By the Olje Museum there is the Geopark (above); a different, experimental city park testing new forms of recycling of ideas and materials from the petroleum industry.

Stavanger bus skur

Stavanger bus shed ad. Is it just me or is this ad a little more cool than the usual bus shed toothpaste and shampoo ads?

Stavanger buildings:


Stavanger Louis Poulsen lampVandalism or street art?
Danish Louis Poulsen Pullert street lamps by the museum
(and in the driveway at home).

Hotel: Scandic Stavanger City. Nice hotel with fine design details and a gym (but did bodyweight training in the room) … super nice food.
Stavanger Scandic hotel  IMG_4177Stavanger Scandic hotel stoleStavanger Scandic aftensmadStavanger Scandic hotel morgenbuffet totalStavanger Scandic hotel morgenbuffet større

Ordnung muss sein. Norwegian style.

Stavanger street art mural and more:
Stavanger mural and chairs foto Marina Aagaard

Old-school graffiti (calligraphy).
Stavanger calligraphy art

Animal life in Stavanger; whale, beavers and giraffe!

Stavanger murmaleri

Stavanger beavers

Stavanger giraffe

iPhone emergency room! Every city should have one …

Stavanger iphone klinikken

Dark art: Sverd i fjell (Swords in Rock) by Hafrsfjord fjord. Memorial outside Stavanger with free gigantic swords in the rock in memory of the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872. (Fritz Røed, 1983).

Sverd i fjell Stavanger Norge Foto Henrik Elstrup

Art on four wheels: An Electric car looking good: Tesla. There are a lot of those in Norway. Note license plate EL (seen on all the electric cars).Tesla el-bil i Norge EL nummerplade foto Marina Aagaard

Street art (PR) in a different way: Car on wall. Seen before,
but the wheel tracks are new.

Bil på mur ved Stavanger Norge foto Henrik Elstrup

Stavanger most popular attraction; Preikestolen. A rock overhang 600 m above Lysefjorden; requires a walk of 3-6 hours (return) (it is worth it).


All this in just a couple of days. A small holiday IS also a holiday.

Think about it.

Time travelling for body and mind: Riga, Latvia.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On a very recent four-day trip to Riga, the capital and largest city of Latvia (696,600 inhabitants), a birthday present from my husband, I kept fit mainly by walking the streets for hours and hours; when you are interested in architecture and design, there is a lot to see in Riga, the European Capital of Culture, 2014:
Interesting buildings, museums and structures (photo: Vansu Bridge) of many time periods including incredible art noveau buildings and wooden houses.
Save some cab money; a (brisk) walk is great for the heart and weight maintenance. 

Riga Vansu bridge photo Marina Aagaard

Riga roof with large cat sculpture photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

The art nouveau area is the largest in Europa, maybe the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is definately worth seeing: It is like being in another time.

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup
Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup and Marina AagaardRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik ElstrupRiga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga Art Noveau buildings and decor photo Henrik Elstrup

The wooden houses found in several areas of the city, some seemingly disintegrating and others recently restored, are also unique and recognized by UNESCO.

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga tram and wood houses photo: Marina Aagaard and Henrik Elstrup

Riga wood houses UNESCO photo Henrik Elstrup

Hairdressing and beauty salon in Riga …

Riga skønhedssalon

And some more modern houses with roofs a little less ordinary ………………….

Riga tag kænguruRiga wood houses modern house photo Henrik Elstrup

Riga is not only for art and architecture lovers. It is also for party people (and some say for people looking for a date) with lots of clubs, bars and restaurants.

I can vouch for the restaurants: Everywhere I had a meal, the food was good, and especially so at the Biblioteka No1 (French/European) and Monterosso (Italian).

Riga Biblioteka Mushroom salad photo Marina Aagaard           Riga Biblioteka Beetroot ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso spinach ravioli photo Marina Aagaard

Riga Monterosso Haute Cuisine Lasagne photo Marina Aagaard 

Good food and a comfy bed aka wellness.
What more do you need?

The comfy bed was at a modern and reasonably priced hotel some 5 km away from the city centre; Name came as no surprise: Elefant hotel!

Riga Elefant elefant side

Eat. Work. Eat. Work out. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
And some travelling seeing sights, that’s neat …

Bon appetite!

Cruise Visit Home Country: Baltic Cruise Stop Copenhagen

By Marina Aagaard

Baltic Cruise Day 2: Excursion Day Copenhagen (København)

First cruise stop is Copenhagen, Denmark. I could choose to stay on board – as a Dane, though from another part of the country, I have visited the capital on numerous occasions for business and pleasure – or go to shore.
I chose the latter; to spend the day as a tourist in my own country.
Have you visited the capital of your country? It is highly recommended.

Baltic cruise kbhvn indsejling havn total plet

In the cruise ship DAILY program Copenhagen is presented as ‘the premier capital of Northern Europe and the centre of the most dynamic region in Europe, the Øresund Region [certainly a lot of novel and very interesting architecture there] and one of Europe’s oldest capitals with a royal touch with the Danish monarchy the oldest in the world’. (Below: Opera House donated to Denmark by Mærsk-McKinney Møller, container ship tycoon, price approx. 1 bio. DKK).

Baltic Cruise Kbh Operahus side

Copenhagen, dating back to the year 800, is the capital of Denmark with a population of approx. 1,200,000 (total population of Denmark is approx. 6 mio.).
Recently rated # 1 on Monocles list of ‘Most liveable cities in the world’ and a very interesting place to visit for everyone interested in art and architecture.

Baltic Cruise Kbh Havn hus med krone

Major Danish companies are A.P. Møller-Mærsk (container ships), Carlsberg (beer) and Novo Nordisk (insulin). Newcomer ‘company’ is Noma, voted Worlds Best Restaurant for three consecutive years 2010-2012 (this photo below shows their premises, brick building in centre, in Copenhagen). 

Baltic Cruise Kbh Havn Noma

Arrival: 8:00
All on board 17:30. Departure 18:00.

First things first:
A visit to the brand new Metro of Copenhagen, travelling to the end of one line: Kastrup, home of CPH, Copenhagen Airport.

Baltic Cruise Kbh Kastrup kunst Wormholes Jonas Pihl

Airport art: Wormholes by Jonas Pihl.

Secondly: Visit the brand new aquarium, also in Kastrup, the very exciting Den Blå Planet, The Blue Planet, to admire the building and the fish.

All while I am saving up for going to see the fish in their natural habitats, I love visiting aquariums and can’t help taking photos of the fish, lots of photos …

Baltic Cruise Kbh Blå planet total

Baltic cruise kbhvn b p indgang

Baltic cruise kbhvn b p dragefiskBaltic cruise kbhvn b p fisk farver 3xBaltic cruise kbhvn b p fisk farver

After this some sightseeing in central Copenhagen. A canal cruise is a great way to see many of the most interesting areas of historical Copenhagen (below Nyhavn, meaning new port, in the city centre, on bottom photo a couple of ‘lazy’ Danes).

Baltic Cruise Kbh Nyhavn

Baltic Cruise Kbh Nyhavn luftmadras

Summary: A nice surprise, after a slow start, the august weather was at its very best, bright sunshine, approximately 30 º F Celsius, 86 º F and not a cloud or rainstorm in sight. And a day full of wonderful views of Wonderful Copenhagen.
Then it is time to get back on board for dinner.

If one wishes to dine at the restaurant and follow the program today the Suggested dress tonight is: Informal, which is less formal than gala, but more formal than casual.

Program of the day apart from various sports, games and entertainment activities (including karaoke events): Stretching, Rock’n’roll, Rumba, Jive and Twist Dance Lessons and Flower Glory Disco Night at the Disco.

Dance on!

Cruise Holiday: A Baltic Cruise

By Marina Aagaard

In order to answer the critical question “A Baltic Cruise, how cool is that?”, I set out to test if it is too cold, clammy, contra-Caribbean-cruise-like to be cool … 

Baltic Cruise Day 1: Embarkation (Excursion) Day Kiel, Germany

After a surprisingly smooth embarkation procedure, The DAILY program in the cabin says ‘Welcome on BOARD’ and has a ‘Have a wonderful holiday’ greeting from Giuseppe Maresca, The Captain.

Baltic cruise Kiel cabinComfy, cozy cabin: Cruise quarters for this mission.

As embarkation is early, at 1300 hours (1 pm), this leaves time for lunch at the buffet and an afternoon in Kiel before taking of for a one hour sail through the Fjord of Kiel (unless one wants to stay on board for the Cruise Guide Information meeting about life on board).

Very importantly before taking off, always have an extra look at the program to check, when to be back on board (or better; bring the program with you):

All on board 17:30. Departure 18:00.

Kiel is the capital of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of approx. 242,000. A nice reasonably sized city worth a visit.

Baltic cruise Kiel cranesPride of the Kiel port, mega cranes.

Kiel is an important port (formerly the main German marine base) with ferries to Norway, Sweden and Lithuania – and cruise ships for Baltic and Atlantic cruises – and is known for the annual Kieler Woche, the worlds largest sailing sports event – every school kid in Kiel learns how to sail!

Baltic Cruise Kiel cobblestonesCreative and organic cobblestone use in central Kiel.

Baltic Cruise Kiel water

Alternative fountain at a Kieler square.

Baltic Cruise Kiel linen shop

‘Window shopping’ – alternative cushion display – at a Kiel home textiles shop.

Baltic Cruise Kiel wcWhen you gotta go, you gotta go: Free-lounge-party-at-the-park-toilet.

Baltic cruise park sculpture

Heavy art: Massive iron and granite sculpture in a Kiel park.

Summary: In spite of the weather forecast this august day was bright and sunny and warm, approximately 30 º F Celsius, 86 º F.
As a nice Kiel surprise there was a summer event by the harbour with a live rock performance. In addition there was a great afternoon lounge music and dance event at the park. You could have stayed on for a little longer.

After a couple of hours of sightseeing it is back on board to get ready for dinner, though. On embarkation day the “suggested dress tonight” is: Casual … until first-time cruisers get the hang of it.

Program of the afternoon (for those who stay on board) and evening: Aerobics, Pilates, Mambo and Merengue Dance Lesson,
Plus welcome cocktails, fashion shows, activities with the entertainment team and Welcome Disco from 23:30 o’clock.

It’s cruise time!

Fitness and Wellness: Return to Sculpture by the Sea

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

It is brilliant. A fusion of nature, art, architecture and fitness and wellness.
I have been. I have been again. And I am going again.
see, hear, touch, feel and taste Sculpture by the Sea.
Aarhus University has already offered running seminars to this open air exhibition. I have done my own walks. Now I will go for a run in the sand and on the stairs into the forest to experience more. Go artychitecturitness.


sea bro

Bathing Jetty. Extra lively. Good for balance training.
Vandmodul A1 og B2 Fase 1.  Artist: Jesper Dalgaard.

sea neonStairs. Great for walking running variation. With unexpected sightseeing.
Bubbles. Artists: Markus Hanakam, Roswitha Schuller.


sea sandkort ma snus

What is wellness? Sensations for all of your senses: A massive grain of sand soap.
Brilliant: Artist put grain of sand in microscope. Enlarged, modeled in clay, cast in soap. During exhibition, wear and tear will reshape and dissolve the grain continuously, as if it were a grain of sand. Grain of soap. Artist: Espen Grandt-Moeller.

sea te husIf wellness is a coup of tea, this is wellness. From the bed of herbs on the ground, you can make yourself a cup of tea. Water, kettle and cups are ready. Sit down and enjoy.

Become part of the work and the landscape.
Tea with a view # 2. Artist: Anja Franke.

My body jogs.
My mind wanders.
Mindbody fitness wellness moves.

Travelling Moments: Indie Images of Oslo

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Do you know the feeling? Forgot the camera … %¤#!@£$€”%=)?!”&%£@$€£!
You are reminded at the exact time, you spot something, you would like to save.

Well never mind. I grab the phone and take a few snapshots. Very arty and ‘Dogme 95’ like and better than nothing. Or is it?
I am not in doubt; this had better not be a recurring incidence. Terrible quality. I miss the camera. But wanted to collect and share these three images of some Oslo, Norway, art; free art to be enjoyed on the road.
Other free Oslo art includes awesome architecture of all ages as well as park art in Vigelandsparken, an art-lover must-see over with 212 sculptures!


Escalators at National Theatre train station. Choose a lilac or red ride. Light art. 

IMG_0896Poetry and drama embedded in pavement around National Theatre. Word art.

IMG_0890Naive mural in Thon Europe Hotel back yard. Art?
What is art? Something that touches your heart? 

Cruise Compulsory: In the Footsteps of Cristoforo Colombo

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Mediterranean Cruise Day 2: Excursion Day Genoa

According to the DAILY program of today, it is not necessary to leave the ship at all: Daytime: Sunbathing, sports, gaming, fitness, wellness, spa treatments and more.
More than plenty to see, do and eat. But port of today is a must-see; on your feet!

Arrival 08:00 Genoa.
All on board 16:30. Departure 17:00.

A must visit for any serious traveller: The birthplace of Cristofo Colombo aka Christopher Columbus, 1451-1506, a somewhat possessive and ‘lost-at-sea’ italian super-traveller completing four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.

Genova viewFrom the rooftops of the Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco, Via Garibaldi,
looking to the left and looking to the right – an soothing sight.

Genoa, population of 612.000, European Capital of Culture 2004 and a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts Italy’s biggest port and Europe’s largest aquarium, so it is an awesome area for architecture and aqua aficionados. Off we go for a splendid ‘show’. 

Option 1: Buy cruise ship excursion: City bus tour and ticket for the Aquarium: 39 EUR.
Option 2: Step off the ship (moored at port), walk 5 minutes to city centre, walk around on your own. Start at the port, visit the Acquario di Genova first, when it opens (at 9:00 am), before everyone else shows up: Ticket: 19 EUR.

Cruise Genova Aqua 4a

Great Barrier Reef not on your budget? Go daydream at the aquarium.

Cruise Genova Aqua 1

Mesmerizing flourescent sea creatures. The wonders of nature.

A city with a wow view: One of Europe’s largest medieval quarters with narrow alleys contrasted by grand boulevards of yesteryears. 
An abundance of beautiful exteriors, renaissance palaces and baroque churches, and interiors, fantastic art and elaborate decorations and furniture. A day is not enough …

Cruise Genova Art Oldschool

 Old-school Art around Genova.

Cruise Genova Art close

New-school Art around Genova.

Summary: Genova trip is worth every penny. A must must-see for everyone interested in nature, history, architecture, art and sizzling (university) city life.
With experiences like this, maybe the cruise way is not so bad after all?

Late afternoon: On board again, waving bye-bye to Genova, enjoying a mega-meal (informal dress) and a stroll around the lounges listening to easy listening music.
Program of this evening: Circus Show, Sail Away party, Mega Bingo, Disco Dance Lesson, Glory Generation and Welcome Night at Disco.
Being on a cruise could become quite hectic …