Dream Travels and Travel Dreams: Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Travels, Best in Class, is the headline of a section in the local newspaper, today. It contains lists of best things related to travelling. It takes a travel fan, me, less than 250 milliseconds to open this section.

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The first list is about the most beautiful places in the World. American travel magazine
Condé Nast Traveler has named the 50 most beautiful. This newspaper lists Top 10.

The number one spot is Cappadocia in Turkey. It may not ring a bell, but think balloons floating over strange lava mountains, then the place probably comes to mind.

Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World (Condé Nast Traveler)

  1. Cappadocia, Turkey
  2. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  3. Mù Chang Chái, Vietnam
  4. Algarve-coast, Portugal
  5. Iceland
  6. Palawan, philippines
  7. Vence, Italy
  8. Ashikaga, Japan
  9. Brecon Beacons, Wales
  10. Dessert, Namibia

A quick search reveals that these are truly wonderful places often seen in magazines and on television. Personally I have only visited two of the places: Iceland – twice as a fitness workshop presenter – and Venice – four times with work, family and husband.
Iceland and Venice really are beautiful and dream travel destinations.

This summer the family holiday of this year goes to number four on the list, Algarve, Portugal, so I am looking very much forward to that. The other destinations are a little out of the way in every respect, so they have to be travel dreams for now.

Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World (my view so far) 

  1. Norway, West-coast and more
  2. Greenland, Thule
  3. Tanzania, Kilimanjaro National Park
  4. USA, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon
  5. Italy, a.o. Dolomiti Mountains, Venice and Rome
  6. Iceland
  7. Montenegro, a.o. Kotor
  8. Mallorca, a.o. Cuevas Arta
  9. Cyprus, coastline
  10. Croatia, a.o. Plitvice Lakes

Most beautiful city: Venice. A unique place with 117 tiny islands separated by numerous canals with condolas and 431 small bridges. Picturesque, narrow alleys and lively squares with pigeons and people; marked by time and with an unreal fairytale-like atmosphere, especially early in the morning. A must-visit part of the world.

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Happy weekend and holiday.

Week Visit or Weekend Trip? Flensburg, Germany

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Exercise should be followed by recovery and longer stints of exercise ought to be followed by longer periods of recovery e.g. in the form of a holiday … if there is no time for a real holiday, maybe a couple of intensive days off will do the job.

Luckily my parents invited my husband and me on a weekend trip to Flensburg, Germany, just south of the border. A very popular shopping destination for Danes in this part of the country.

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Flensburg is a nice and cozy city with reasonable prices. Compared to Scandinavian prices they are generally lower. Also the supermarkets have many specialities a.o. lots of organic food.

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Flensburg lies 7 km south of the Danish border by Flensburg Fjord in the state Schleswig-Holstein. There are approx. 83.971 inhabitants (2013), which apart from germans include the Danish minority with own churches, schools and libraries.

The city is a commercial town from around 1200 and has a city centre with a small harbour (and museum harbour) and an old part of town with well-preserved old buildings … and novel street art.

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Apart from art and architectural sightseeing, there are also several small museums, a.o. a rum museum, as well as theatres and libraries. In the summer there is a regatta and festivals and in December there is a Christmas market, so it is a good idea to do some research before heading for Flensburg.

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The town or small city is a university city as per 1994 and also boasts a Technical School and a Naval Academy at Mürvik for all German naval officers.

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Flensburg has a long pedestrian street – and smaller streets – with boutiques and shops and department stores. On Saturday mornings there is a fruit-vegetable-flower-and-more-market on one of the town squares, Südermarkt.

Flensburg_shop_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blogFlensburg_Photo_Shop_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog   Flensburg_Marked_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog

Flensburg has many restaurants with hearty and tasty dishes. In that category e.g. Gnomenkeller (Porthouse in Gnomenkeller) – which from the outside is nothing but a door and a very touristy sign – but inside cosy and with special steak menus.

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Flensburg sightseeing
It is wonderful to get up early. Then you can enjoy a walk or a run, also in a new town. When it is very quit and with hardly any other people in sight, you spot interesting details, when you look up, down or around. Here are a couple of photos from an early Saturday morning walk in Flensburg.

Flensburg_Rooftop_Figurines_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blogFlensburg_street_detail_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog_web   Flensburg_K_doorhandle_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog  Flensburg_Doorhandle_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blogFlensburg_Truck_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blogFlensburg_Glaskunst_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog          Flensburg_Hus_dekorationFlensburg_Camels_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blogFlensburg_Museum_Harbour_Marina_Aagaard_Fitness_blog     Flensburg_Hus_kunst_Marina_Aagaard_fitness_blog

Flensburg wellness
Germany is well-known for its baths and spas and in the Flensburg area there are also ample opportunities for wellness, if you want even more relaxation.

Flensburg fitness
Germany is in the forefront of fitness exercise and has lots of fitness centres, you can check out fitnessstudios in Flensburg, if you are on the lookout for a workout.

Happy New Year 2015 to You and Your Loved Ones

Dear fitness and wellness fellow fan, blog follower and reader,

Now, by the end of this year 2014, I am happy, that this is a fitness blog. Throughout the year there have been lots of positive news of even more good things, which exercise and healthy living does to your body and mind: Within the World of fitness and wellness (and food) there is almost always enlivening things to blog about.

For bloggers in other areas it must have been tough; this has been a year with far too many horrible disasters (by nature or man), more wars, episodes of violence and crisis of all kinds.
I wish more people would behave responsibly, respectfully and lovingly towards other human beings and our Nature … and I wish it will be a more peaceful 2015.

Strand_morgen_Henrik_Elstrup This year my hubby and I have taken up dedicated photography again. Here a shot of the local beach the other morning. An “okay” photo by my man, Henrik Elstrup.

To you and your loved ones from me and my loves ones: A Hearty Greeting for a Great New Years Eve and New Years Morning – and new year – filled with optimism and energy for the new year 2015.

Croatia_Zadar_fireworks

A Truly Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year 2015

Marina Aagaard

Are you serious? Haven’t got a bucket list yet? You should!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Life and mood can be ‘lighted’ by a “bucket list” with inspiration and motivation. I have one myself and recommend it: A list little or large, modest or ambitious, free or costly (start saving); some sort of agenda to remind you to live life here and now, this is your chance!

Bucket list refers to the English (American) expression “kick the bucket”, which means to “pass away”. It is normally a list of things you would like to see or do, before you leave this World. The phenomena was depicted in the American comedy drama The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson (2007).

Bucket lists are a hit: The internet is full of them and many bucket listers do the most amazing things. But smaller things count, too, the main thing is, that you start to reflect upon your life and everyday:
Are you doing, what you want to? Or is there something you miss, something that you would really like to do, but have not done yet? You almost always only regret, what you have not gotten around to doing …

Personally I call my list for my “Life To Do List”.
That list contains little and large activities and travels out of the ordinary (for me). Others have lists centered around trying to be a better person and doing good deeds – maybe an idea, though I have those on my daily to do list!

Does bucket lists work? Yes, they do!

No matter how they look or what you call them, in my experience they work exceptionally well – and research proves, that goal-setting and writing your goals down will vastly increase your chances of your dreams coming true.
By writing a list, you make your wishes conscious and concrete, so your brain directs your thoughts and actions in the right direction: You get things done.

If you haven’t got one already, why not make a bucket list today?

A couple of weeks ago a big ‘bucket list’ wish of mine came true (through planning and saving and a bargain offer): Camel riding in Sahara, Tunisia.

Tunesia Sahara Marina Aagaard fitness wellness world

Camels crossing iStock_000014142085Large

A bit of that tour is captured in this:

Bucket list trip: Sun, Sand, Sahara and Star Wars, Tunesia

Have great fun with your bucket list and life!

If you have one – please share it in ‘comments’.

Fitness wellness super hike: Preikestolen, Norway.

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Took a trip to Norway this weekend to do a group exercise workshop in Sandnes near Stavanger. Hubby suggested a morning photo outing, which turned out to be a bucket item list, which I did not know I had to have …

Preikestolen or Prekestolen, or Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, a steep
and massive cliff 604 m (1982 ft) above Lysefjorden in Ryfylke, Norway.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Stavanger.

My husband had seen a picture of Preikestolen, which he wanted to photograph. I knew of it, but reckoned it to be out of our immediate way. However he persisted.
So at around 7:30 in the morning, right after we had gotten of the ferry from Denmark, we took the Norled ferry from Stavanger to Tau, 30-40 minutes of sailing (time tables at norled.no). From Tau we drove by car towards Sandnes along route 13 for 30 km. We followed the signs to the Preikestolen parking (expensive), which is 270 meters a.s.l.

My husband had read on the internet, that it was a 1 hour walk (2 hour return trip) to get to the Preikestolen. Seemed realistic enough for a 3.8 km (2.4 mile) walk.
However, as we found out ourselves – and from later reading other descriptions on the internet, surprise: The trip takes 2-3 hours out and 2-3 hours back.
A little less if you are very fit and a whole lot longer if you are unfit. The ‘walk’ is highly inadvisable, if you have any kind of disability or very short legs.

Preikestolen map Norge foto Marina Aagaard

The path is mostly gravel and rocks and some steps, which are really rugged rocks.  In a few places there is just the bare rock or in 3-4 places wooden paths. In some places it can be hard to see, where you are going, but look for red T’s painted on the rocks.

Preikestolen Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Preikestolen lake Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Outbound the walk is mostly up-hill by steep rock boulders interrupted by just a few flat parts. The ascent has a 330 m (1080 feet) height difference. And apart from one place only there are no railings. Going down is almost as difficult, because you have to watch your steps carefully in order not to slip on or step between the rocks.

P Path and tree  Photos of path and stairs …P Path   P Stairs P Sten i vand   P Top rocksidePreikestolen plateau Norway foto Marina Aagaard

You are strongly advised to 1) go out very early in order to get back before the dark), 2) wear proper hiking/climbing shoes and also 3) bring a snack and some water.

There are no bars or restaurants (or toilets) along the way … and there is no easy way down (no steps or escalators), so save some energy. In rainy weather (my luck), the rocks are very slippery, so extra attention is needed.

P Crevasse P Fjord View from top

It is a strenuous walk to the top, so some celebrate arrival in style: Champagne!
(Though I think it is unwise to go overboard, if you want a safe return …).

P Champagne

It is hard to see, but at least I know, that it is me … just a tiny bit uneasy … standing there close to the edge at Preikestolen, 600 m (1970 ft) straight above Lysefjorden:

Marina Aagaard at Preikestolen Norway foto Henrik Elstrup

There is a wonderful view of Lysefjorden and surrounding mountarins, but just as good: It is an absolutely magnificent and exciting hike, and excellent exercise – outdoor fitness – too!

This walk/hike is highly recommended, nature at its very best; dramatic and intense.
And if you can’t get to Preikestolen, then just take a walk and a big inhale.

What a wonderful world.

Travel Dream. Dream Travel? In Your Dreams?

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

If you can dream it, you can do it, says my husband, and no point in aiming too low either, he adds! As it is, he has overcome many seemingly impossible tasks just by believing it could be done, so he should know, what he is talking about.
So be it: To me travels great and small embody fitness and wellness and if they can be plentified just by dreaming, then here it goes.

Having travelled to 50 countries and states for business and pleasure, but many, many times to the same countries, as “too much of a good thing can be good” (Mae West), I have to move on and see some more (new) world and wellness.

So, on my new upgraded travel bucket list there are now places, which I have not seriously considered before, as they are kind of far away in more ways than one.

If I could just pick and choose? What would you pick? Think about it for a moment, it is quite hard: Where to, if you could go, wherever you wanted?

There are so many exciting places, it is almost impossible to choose. But in my fitness and business practice, I have found, that the moment you verbalize your visions and write them down, they are a whole lot closer to being realized … so with a friendly push from my hubby; here I go, practising what I preach, only now in the leisure time department!

From a handful, Top 5, of destinations-I-would-really-really-like-visit, a town on the other side of the globe, a town voted one of the ‘Best Places to Travel in 2014’ by Travel + Leisure, comes to mind:

Cape Town (Kaapstad in Afrikaans) 

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St. James Beach. Damien du Toit.

Where to stay? 

If money was not an issue, I would probably stay at:

Cape Grace Hotel, because it has a fitness centre, free wi-fi, is excellently located at the waterfront and looks very cozy … or maybe the Blackheath Lodge, a minute friendly looking place … or somewhere else? There is a plethora of hotels in Cape Town.

Where to eat?

I will check Gogobot; take a look at the recommendations given by foodie tribe travellers. I might try e.g.:
Codfather Seafood & Sushi, because I like both.
Sevruga, because the restaurant looks interesting and seafood sounds good.
Reuben’s and Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar have had top reviews, too, so if there is ‘time’, I will try to dine and wine there (South Africa has some really nice wines). Apparently the Cape Grace hotel has a good restaurant, Signal, with tasting menus (that is a like from me), so that could be an experience.

If meal money then runs out, I don’t mind surviving on yoghurt and fruit from a foodmart …
when necessary, I don’t mind a mix of luxury and budget travelling.

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Morning light over Simon’s Bay.
André van Rooyen.

What to do?

Insider suggestions are welcome, please. In the meantime, without knowing much about Cape Town, I have a notion, this is to be seen?

  • Cape Point: Watch the oceans meet, a natural wonder of the world (thanks to D’Marls Coffman, Gogobot Pro, for reminding me, a sea-lover, of the obvious).
  • Table Mountain ‘hike’ in TableMountainNational Park (try the Table Mountain Cableway).
  • Robben Island, formerly prison of Nelson Mandela, now a World Heritage Site …
    if I can get a ferry ticket (they are apparently sold out days in advance).
  • Cape of Good Hope, former Dutch East India company stronghold, for history.
  • Bo-Kaap house-design-watching, a natural for an art-and-design-buff.

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Fog. Damien du Toit.

And of course: Watch whales (prime time July to November), humpbacks, orcas, southern rights and Bryde’s whales, from the shore or a boat; I learned, that South Africa is the fifth fastest growing whale-watching destination in the world. The Whale Route starts along the south of Cape Town (and extends over 1200 miles to Durban).

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This I would like to see: Sea Point storm. Mallix.

This is it. I have now made a dream plan.

Only question: Does this dream travel strategy work … and if yes, when will it come true?

 

 

Photo credits:

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/coda/377949/”>coda</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreinafrica/3445364196/”>andre.vanrooyen</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/coda/3047819218/”>coda</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mallix/2816685909/”>mallix</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Have A Merry Christmas: Christmas Food and Fitness Strategies

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Christmas is not just Peace, Joy and Happy hearts … it is also nice food and sweets. Accept this as a good thing. Abandon all worries about overeating and gaining weight. Instead: Be smart, prepare and stay in shape.

Christmas decoration on the fireplace photo Marina Aagaard

A green Christmas Heart on the fireplace.

Per Braendgaard Myth calendar 20/24 (quote): Myth: It is not what you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve, that makes you gain weight. It is what you eat, between New Years Eve and Christmas! So you might as well eat like crazy in December and then diet in January. Fact: What you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve can also make you gain weight, so you might as well be on (the right healthy) diet in December, not just January.

Marina Aagaard Mythbuster: Yes! I have completed thorough investigations! It is what you eat from New Years Eve to Christmas and what you eat between Christmas and New Years Eve, that makes you gain weight! That’s life … 1) make your choice, 2) enjoy it, 3) wipe your eyes, when the damage is done … or:

1. Initiate your Christmas meal with a drink of water (or just before the meal); Water is healthy and you won’t feel as hungry.

2. Continue to drink water (limit alcohol consumption, XXX calories!)

3. Eat slowly, so the great taste lasts much longer, mmmmmhhhhhhhh.

4. Have small portions – you can have two servings if needed (avoid wasting food).

5. Start with vegetables (and avoid white bread, which makes you hungry); high fiber foods makes you feel full and healthy – and you won’t overeat the less healthy stuff.

6. Enjoy your Christmas dinner(s), every bite of it, it’s only Christmas once a year. But ensure that your food is of good quality and savour it; mindful eating.

7. Make the right choices. If you are surrounded by candy, then choose wisely: Go for 2 home-made pralines with dark chocolate and marzipan, it is filling and satisfying, rather than 20 mass-produced pieces of sweets … think strategically.

8. Move more (as much as possible); walk the dog, the family or the trash. Even small amounts of movement count, e.g. after your meal, it is good for you and your digestion.

9. Be physically active during Christmas, this is a good time; you have time for it. Take a trip to the countryside or the seaside and go for a walk; it is wellness with a touch of fat burning … a  little is a lot better than nothing.
And: Work out, there are plenty of ways of working out properly between Christmas and New Years Eve. Do you own outdoor (or home) fitness program or go the fitness center, which offers exciting group exercise classes. It is also a brilliant time to kick off a new exercise habit (instead of January, when everyone else has the same idea).

Proper exercise is an effective means of weight maintenance during Christmas.

10. Think wisely. Apart from positive thinking in general it is a smart move to tell yourself: “I will never go on a diet and most certainly not in January” (a diet is an almost foolproof method of gaining weight over time). When you pass on that option, you will take better care of yourself during Christmas and the rest of the year.

A moment of truth: Any risk of uncontrolled over-eating; the big irresistable Christmas dinner (or buffet)? Then an option could be to neutralize the effect by having a day or two of fasting, e.g. the day before and/or after – or the intermediate solution of 12 hours of fasting (in the fast (5:2) diet; 1 small meal is allowed). Not just to save calories; but you get to know your body and appetite better, which is great.
Note: Do not skip eating two days in a row, as it results in muscle protein breakdown, and you do not want to lose muscle mass: The muscles are more metabolically active than fat!
In the fast diet you eat like you normally do for 5 days and fast (partially) for 2 days (not consecutive). In IF, Intermittent Fasting, you eat one day and go one day without eating. Note, there are different IF strategies.
In these types of diets you
retain lean mass, ie muscle, which is not seen with standard calorie restricted diets.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!