Two weeks in: Living in Europe

Two weeks in. I know it’s not a lot of time, but life is different. Not so much in the daily activities – we didn’t come here to spend every waking day cramming in as much as we could in each new city. We still go about our days similarly to what it was like in Toronto. We still run, talk long walks, visit cafes to try their coffee and do work, and we still balance our time between cooking in a kitchen and eating out at restaurants.

But I worry less.


And let me tell you: I don’t miss worrying.

I don’t miss worrying that I didn’t do enough food prep on Sundays, or that I don’t have enough food in the house to snack on in between meals. I don’t miss worrying about my caloric intake, or whether I ate enough of a balance of carbs, fat and protein at each meal. I don’t miss being a slave to an unreliable transit system (sorry, TTC, but you suck at keeping to a schedule), and I don’t miss worrying about trying to fit it all in.


Seen on the run: pretty houses in Copenhagen.

After two weeks of living out of suitcases, I’ve realized how little I care about how the clothes look on my body (my level of caring in Toronto was already at an all-time low, but apparently I can still sink to a new level). I brought over one dress “just in case” and it’s currently crumpled in a corner of my suitcase. I can’t foresee myself taking it out anytime soon. Since it is currently Winter in Scandinavia, my biggest concern is wearing enough layers whenever I step outside – either for a run or for a walk – and that is it.


This is as dressy as I get these days – a zip up sweater and black pants at a trendy restaurant in the meat packing district in Copenhagen.

For each city we visit, the first thing Mike and I do is look up a city map and try to decide which corner to explore first. We look for potential running routes, and cool neighbourhoods to hang out in. We couldn’t care less about where the trendy shopping districts are. When the desire strikes to look up museums and galleries, we will indulge in them. For now, we just want to be outside as much as possible, exploring each city on our two legs and then spending the rest of our time sampling coffee while working on our respective side projects.


Another simple at-home meal: a cheese and avocado rye sourdough sandwich with a simple arugula, carrot, and cherry tomato salad on the side. This kept me full for hours.

The most refreshing thing is not reaching for the remote. And not searching the pantry for a snack to munch on out of boredom, or surfing the internet and losing time from scrolling through various websites. Meals are basic and on some days just viewed as another task in the day. On occasion, Mike and I will treat ourselves to a nice restaurant, but I won’t obsess about “recreating” whatever I’ve eaten at home. I’ll just tuck away the memory of it and enjoy being in the moment.


Carbs, what? We couldn’t resist trying this sourdough pizza crust at Mother. Worth every bite. No regrets.

Of course, two weeks away still feels like a vacation. This isn’t “real life” and I recognize that. But whatever this is, it feels good and right. A little disorienting sometimes, but never terrible. Always changing. It feels right.


And when it snows in Stockholm, lace up the trail shoes and go for a run around the Stockholm University grounds.


Running in Oslo

I feel like I should add a few disclaimers here before I write out my thoughts:

  • We arrived in Oslo the day after a heavy rainstorm that melted all the snow but hung around long enough to freeze and turn the entire city into a skating rink. Apparently this isn’t typical?
  • We were only here for two nights so we didn’t have too much time to spend exploring the city
  • We were here over the weekend, and most businesses close early on Saturdays and are not open at all on Sundays.

To be honest, neither Mike and I had a great time in Oslo. Perhaps it was our bad luck with the weather, or the fact that the city was pretty quiet while we were there (a combination of it being Winter and the weekend?)… whatever it was, we both agreed that we were relieved to move on. We managed to get out two “runs” while we were there. I say “runs” loosely because both of them felt more like power walks than actual runs.

Run #1 Ekebergsletta (easy run)


A pretty photo Mike took before everything on our run went to shit

On the first night we arrived there, we attempted to go for a run to explore the city. We arrived in the afternoon, so we only had about an hour left of sunlight before it set at 4pm (generally speaking, this has been really hard for me to adjust to). As soon as we got out, we realized that we should have worn our trail shoes. A reasonable pace just wasn’t happening. None of the ice had been salted or treated with anything that would help make running over it more easily. There was a lot of stopping, walking, and frustrated sighs.


Pure ice. We should have ditched the run and gone skating.

On a positive note, we did run up a pretty steep hill that doubled as a really fancy neighbourhood. It was so fancy, that we saw a random horse and carriage gliding through the streets like it was no big deal.


No big deal. Even the horse was equipped ankle reflectors. Always make yourself visible.

Run #2: Bygdøy (long run)


I think my facial expression does a good job at summarizing how I felt about this long run.

So, after much debate and weather monitoring, we decided to attempt to do our long run in Oslo because it seemed warmer than the day before.


Our “Ice infested long run” route.

Spoiler: it was a mistake. We waited until the afternoon when we felt it would be the warmest part of the day, and we decided to forgo pace and stick together (that part made me happy). It started out okay, perhaps because we ran through neighbourhoods that were more groomed than the rest of the city. That may have had something to do with the fact that it was near the palace.


Another pretty photo that Mike and I took from our run (while we were still foolish enough to think this run was going to be alright)


This happens to be a random backyard of a fancy house we ran into… we were probably trespassing to take this photo. Worth it.

The rest of the long run, however, was a nightmare. It seemed to get more icy and slippery as we went on – it felt like the temperature actually dropped as well. Eventually (as I’m apt to do), I slipped and fell right on my ass (or should I say “glute” to make this sound less crass?). Then we decided to run through a snowy field for some relief off the icy road and I was rewarded by twisting my ankle.


A few minutes after I slipped on black ice and seconds before I twisted my ankle and screamed extra loud for sympathy points.

Eventually, we made it to the cafe we’d been wanting to check out (when some of your favourite cafes in Toronto recommend a place to you, you listen).


Just outside the world-famous cafe that was recommended to us. I was over taking photos at this point

It was much easier to see all the positives of this run when it was over. First of all, I got to do a long run with Mike. I haven’t had an opportunity to do this with him in ages because he’s so much faster than me. Biggest plus. :) Second, both of us got through the run without any major injury. We saw a few other runners slip and fall, and other walkers tip toeing across ice because the conditions were so bad. Third, we saw quite a few runners out there, acting as if it was just another ordinary day. One older runner jumped right off the paved street and onto a really icy looking trail. He didn’t flinch or falter for a second. It was incredibly inspiring and motivating. If they can get used to it, surely we could get through this long run as well (and we did).

Overall thoughtsIMG_0217

As I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t our favourite city. We’ve always been able to find pretty good things about every place we visited, but we struggled here. Again, maybe it’s because we spent so little time and had bad luck with the weather. Maybe next time we could plan to go skiing or snow showing instead of running (haha, except we love running so much). Maybe we should come back and visit in the summer – during the week – when I suspect the city comes to life.

Lots of maybes. For now, we’re happily touring other cities in Sweden and liking it a lot better.


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