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:

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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).

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

Think about it.

Lisbon Travel and Transportation: Cars That Make Me Smile

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Cars That Make Me Smile … for one reason or another …
petite, funny, surprising, colourful, ancient, oldschool cool or just cool (or even subzero cool as in Top Gear’s rating of cars and supercars).

What does cars and smiles have to do with fitness? Well, smiling is healthy and good health (wellness) is the foundation of fitness and performance.

So this was part of my wellness experience in Lisboa (Lisbon) last week:

Lisboa Car Banana van Lisboa Car Gocar tourist mobile Lisboa Car Green Mini Citroen Lisboa Car Grey Citroen Lisboa Car Lancia Fulvia 3 red Lisboa Car VW MobileShop

Lisboa Car Mercedes

Apart from the sad fact; they polute …
aren’t they “cute”?

Spring break: Lisboa, Portugal

Marina Aagaard, MFE

Well, well, well. A very busy start-of-year teaching schedule leaves no time for long trips or vacations. Uhhh uhhh, uhhh, what to do?
If I want to see something new? With time and money too few …

Seek out a destination not too far away. Find cheap travel offer. Find friend(s) to visit.
Take a city trip to Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal? There is much to see in a relatively short time frame and though it was not on the Top 10 of my to-see list, it fits the requirements nicely and so I get a sort of travel surprise …

Lisboa Vasco da Gama Bridge totalPonte Vasco da Gama (1998), designed by Armando Rito. Lisboa, Portugal.
The longest bridge in Europe, 17.2 km (10.7 mi).

What is Portugal famous for? Apart from Port wine among other things tiled houses … and being pretty certain, that Christoffer Columbus (~1451-1506) was really Portuguese – born Salvador Fernandes, later renamed (by the order of the king) Cristofom Colon – and not Italian (Genova) …

Lisboa building with tiles blue           Lisboa building with tiles

Portugal is also famous for a charming and interesting capital, a city with a special blend of ancient history, old houses, novel street art and state-of-the-art architecture.
Why had I not thought of visiting Lisboa before?

Lissabon Airport Interior
Lisboa Portela Airport Interior

Lisboa Gare do Oriente train station interiorGare do Oriente Station interior. Amazingly beautiful.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Lisboa Gare do Oriente Station Santiago CalatravaGare do Oriente Station exterior. One of the largest train stations in the world.
And one of the most photographed due to the unique architecture.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Lissabon Metro EntranceLissabon Metro LysLisboa Metro views, huge and elegant spaces.

Lisboa Tram
Above ground: Take a tram.

Lisboa is the oldest city in Western Europe, one of the oldest cities in the world and the westernmost capital in Europe, situated on the Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the river Tagus. There are approximately 3 mio. people living in the Metropolitan Area representing more than a quarter of the population in Portugal.

The Belém Tower Lisboa PortugalLisboa has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Belém Tower (photo above of model and tower behind) and Jerónimos Monastery in late gothic Manueline style, finished in the 1520’s by architect João de Castilho. (three photos below).

Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and fountain front Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos door      Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

In 1994 Lisboa was the European Capital of Culture and in 1998 it hosted the Expo ’98 (1998 Lisbon World Exposition). Expo area with a.o. Oceanário de Lisboa, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, below:

Lisboa modern architecture Lisboard boardwalk

Lisboa Oceanario de Lisboa

According to an expatriate friend in Lisboa, Portugal is a country with many business opportunities, because the country is developing in many areas, the prices are reasonable (cheaper than in many other European countries) and the Portuguese people are apparently much friendlier and forthcoming than many other Europeans …

And the highlights of Lisboa are absolute free as in gratis: Wonderful views of beautiful and interesting oldschool and newschool architecture and street art side by side.

Lissabon Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown Charles Correa AssociatesChampalimaud Centre for the Unknown.
Not another museum of modern art, but a research and diagnostic center with top scientists and medical science helping people with cancer, brain damage and blindness. Architects: Charles Correa Associates:
“Architecture as Sculpture. Architecture as Beauty. Beauty as therapy.”

Lisboa Praça do Comércio and arch leading to Augusta street
Lisboa Praça do Comércio and arch leading to Augusta street.
The 1755 Lisboa earthquake, tsunami and fires destroyed many buildings.
The city centre was rebuild in the Pombaline style, a secular, utilitarian architecture with rational, regular structures mixed with rococo details.

And everywhere, murals and graffiti … plus ugly tagging.

Lissabon Graffiti

Lisboa mural graffiti I Lisboa mural graffiti II Lisboa mural graffiti III Lisboa mural graffiti IV Lisboa mural graffiti V Lisboa murals graffiti and tags

Lisboa wall art

This Lisboa trip had my eyes working overtime …
A must-see city for art and architecture lovers.

Weekend Wellness Walk: Get Up, Get Out, Get Well

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Easter time is holiday time for some. If time and money is tight, a day trip or two to a place near you, preferable one you have not visited before, is an o.k. holiday travel substitute. As always it is good to grab the chance of getting some free exercise; going for a run or brisk (as in heavy breathing) walk. I did.

Weekend weather was wonderful … and springtime was in the air and colours everywhere. The small national park of Mols Bjerge (Bjerge means Mountains, but they are really just small hills), Jutland, Denmark, and surroundings, was waking up after ‘hibernation’ and is, I think, well worth a visit and a walk.
Outdoor fitness at its best behaviour.

Mols Bjerge tree photo Marina Aagaard

Kaloe kroget treeKaloe grene himmel distantKaloe skovbund blomsterdaekkeKaloe traerThorsager skovbundMols kidMarina Aagaard og Kaloe slotsruin photo Henrik ElstrupTrees and water black and white Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Kaloe gren artLast three photos by husband Henrik Elstrup going overboard with filters,
lenses and photoshopping. This is quite popular on 500 px, though …

Happy outdoor fitness workout, where ever you are.

Day Trip: Gone-Away Lake Walk

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Sometimes you do not need to travel very far to come a long way away from home…

This weekend I went for a walk in three different areas of the neighbourhood; in the woods, at the beach and, especially interesting, a new walk by a hidden, spooky lake …
Suddenly, I not only had some walk variation (for the benefit of the dog, too), but my mind wandered years back to my childhood.

I was an avid reader and loved the books by Elizabeth Enright; ‘Gone-Away Lake’ and ‘Return to Gone-Away’, about a forgotten lake and old, abandoned houses …
the stories came back to life at this weekend’s walks.

Walking, weather and wonders of nature made me feel, as if I was in the middle of a (fairy) tale, A Danish Late Winter’s Tale …

Photos by my husband, Henrik:

By the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupTrees by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupMoss on tree by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik Elstrup 

By Følle Strand Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupBy Kalø Slot Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Ved fregatten Djursland Photo Henrik Elstrup

Take a walk … it truly is mind-body travelling … and healthy, too.

Activity Holiday: Skiing in Stöten in Sälen in Sweden

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photo: Henrik Elstrup (aka husband)

First all that ski fitness, then the reward: A skiing trip, albeit a small one.
Activity holidays are great and activity holidays with skiing are even better.
Stöten, the northernmost part of the popular Swedish skiing area Sälen, boast “best skiing in Sälen”, when it comes to terrain. I had to see.

The truth about skiing holidays in Scandinavia is, that they can be cold, grey and costly – it is only in the brochures, it is sunny all year round (luckily not of importance to me).

Stöten light piste at night seen from restaurant Brasseriet Ski Hotel Stöten

Still there are quite a few advantages making Nordic skiing holidays attractive; lots of beautiful snow (and sun, too), lots of snowing, a beginner-friendly terrain, ski in ski out and light pistes …

Stöten chair lift on its way up

and a special Skandinavian ‘cozyness’, when you come from outside with minus 5-20 degr. Celsius and into a hot sauna or fireplace lounge (or tent with dining)!

Vildmarkskåtan restaurant Swedens largest tent

Where?

Stöten in Sälen is a small area with cabins, appartments and a ski hotel and 11 restaurants and diners with rather nice food.
It is situated close to the Sweden-Norway border on the mountain Granfjällsstöten. Closest towns  are Tandådalen, 18 km south-east, and Østby in Norway, 20 km west.

You go to Stöten to ski (in peaceful surroundings), not to go sightseeing or pub crawl … though after skiing from 15-17 at the hotel is recommended; high spirits and motivating music (rock this week).

Ski Hotel Stöten after ski rock music

What?

Stöten is a ski-in ski out skiing center; from the hotel and appartments at Stöten Mitt you can ski directly onto the pistes and to the lifts. Nice.
There are 33 pistes, especially easy ones, and a couple of more challenging ones. Also there are 4 pistes for cross country (20 km).
11 pistes have snowmakers, so there is ‘snow guarantee’.

Stöten in Sälen one happy blogger about to ski

All pistes end close to Stöten Mitt and you can easily find your way around; it is optimal for families with children and skiers at different levels; a nice thing is, that every one can ride together to the top of the mountain, as from here you can ski on either green, blue, red or black pistes (often green pistes are at the base and very short). The area is great for beginners. For advanced skiiers, though, too few challenges and pistes (km).

Restaurant Vaffelstugan

How?

You can go there by bus (ski travel) or drive there by car (I took the Stena Saga ferry from Denmark to Norway and drove from Oslo to Stöten).
There are no train or airplane options (and no busses from the airport).

Stöten snow and skiing

Why?

For snow-lowers: Stöten is a beautiful (off-piste friendly) forest area with fairly long green forest trails. Fine for long weekends. For families with children it is very good.

Advantage: Good service, good food (and it is nice to sit in the Brasseriet restaurant and look out at the World Cup backen piste) and lots of facilities for children.
Disadvantage: Too few challenges for advanced skiers. Not connected to other skiing areas. Only two chair lifts, many surface lifts (T-bar and pommel tow) – some beginners like them, though – and lifts move fairly slowly …

Stöten T bar lift and view of Stöten Mitt

Location: Latitude: 61°15’14.97″. Longtitude: 12°52’49.45″.
Summit, top elevation: 858 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Base elevation: 488 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Vertical: 370 meters (highest in Sälen).
Ski lifts: 18. 13 surface lifts; T-bar/pommel tow (plastic plate). 2 chairlifts. 14 km.
Number of cross country pistes: 4 (3, 5, 5, 7 km – 20 km total, 3 km light pistes)
Number of pistes: 33 (11 with snowmakers and 2 light pistes).
Total km of pistes: 35 km (longest piste 2,6 km)

Black: 5
Red: 3
Blue: 4
Green: 21

Ski rental: Yes.
Ski school: Yes.
Childcare: Yes. Very child-friendly area.
Accomodation: Best Wester Stöten Ski Hotel, cabins, appartments, camping.
Restaurants: 11 restaurants (2 bars) – a.o. Vildmarkskåtan (big tent).
After ski: Yes. 15-17 in restaurant; singer or band. Plus kids after ski.
Fitness: No.
Wellness: Yes. Vattufjäll SPA; a small (popular with kids) pool area, sauna and access to beauty treatmens and massage.
WIFI: Yes.
Facilities: Sports shop, ICA grocery, (small) pool area.
Activities: Snowboard land, ski cross, snowmobile (wild), dog sled, bowling a.o.

Stöten snowmobile trip on the mountain

Ahhh, a nice weekend!

You can learn more from:

http://www.stoten.se
http://www.stenaline.dk/til-sverige/skiferie/stoten
http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden-us/

Wellness and Health at Sea: SPA Ahoy

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photos: Lars Horn, Baghuset.

This blog is about fitness and wellness at home and on the move, it is about everything, which betters the health and performance of me … and you.
It is not only about high-intensity training, buzz word of today, but also all the other actions, remedies and edibles, that make a difference:
Increase your energy and stamina and improve physical and mental recovery, so a.o. you keep illness at bay and avoid being away sick from duties or workouts.

Two things that work are SPA baths (popular since ancient times), which speed up recovery, and holidays, periods away from the everyday to undwind physically and mentally. And those two can be combined …

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa Wellness at sea Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

From time to time for business or pleasure I sail north from Frederikshavn (north of Jutland, Denmark) to various destinations in Norway and Sweden. On the trip of this week – first trip of 2014 – I discover, that on board the ferry, Stena Saga, which carries me to a small weekend skiing trip, there is a spa.

And a 750 sqm. real spa, Pure Nordic Spa, it is. Not what I had expected on board a ferry. A big spa (cruise ship size at least) and not only big, but with both hot (sauna and steamroom) and temperate baths and a cold bath. The latter is a must – even if not all spa’s have one – for hot-cold baths, which boost immune system, skin and energy level.

Hot-cold bath e.g.: 10-15 min. sauna followed by 1-2 min. cold bath. Repeat 2-4  times. This gets the blood flow going. This is healthy, if you are healthy. Sick? Check with your doctor for special precautions.

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa Hot tub Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

Another one of my favourites is on board, too. An outdoor hot tub. Hot water and a bubbly massage is nice in itself. An extra dimension: To lie in the hot water outside in the fresh air, which provides more oxygen for your brain and muscles … and an extra special experience in these months with temperatures below 0 degr. C … even if the walk to the tub with bare feet in the snow was rather cold (photo: Me pleased as a peach surrounded by water and men).

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa bath Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

I also got a different and fun spa experience: In the temperate bath, where you can spend quite a long time effortlessly, you could clearly feel the movement of the ship, which made waves in the water. A unique sensation (photo: Me and others grinning; life is good today).

As a spa finale even more relaxation is recommended. After spa baths and treatments, you normally rest for about ½ hour, or longer, in a comfy chair in a room with a moderate temperature).
This ensures a gradual return to normal temperature and is very relaxing. And a view of the sea and sky is really very, very calming.

Stena Saga  Dato: 30.01.14 Foto:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

I can really recommend dipping into the water, when at sea, for a different mini-holiday. Ferry trips (or mini-cruises) are like ‘hotel stays afloat’, and reasonably priced (check for offers). Spa entrance is about half price of that ashore.

This was my first ‘dip’ into a spa on a ferry, but not the last …