Yearly Christmas Present of 2020 In Sweden

Every year since 1988 Swedish Trade Organisation (Svensk handel) chooses a Christmas present of the year (årets julklapp) that somehow represents the current situation in the society. Last year (2019) it was a box for leaving your mobile phone out of your hands (Mobillåda) – symbolising how society is attached to the devices that we actually need an extra accessory to physically put it down. The year before that (2018) there were pre-owned goods – could have been anything from devices to clothes – no, we are not talking solely expensive vintage here but anything that is not new would have qualified.

Here is the list since I have lived in Sweden:
2011 – Meal-kit with everything for cooking dinner at home
2012 – Headphones
2013 – Juicer with the centrifuge
2014 – Bracelet tracking fitness activity
2015 – Robotic vacuum cleaner
2016 – VR-glasses
2017 – Electric bicycle
2018 – Pre-owned goods
2019 – Box for physically putting your phone down (mobillåda)

This year the speculation was that it is going to be a re-usable face mask – I was sceptical about it as Sweden has anti-mask position. Choosing portable stove makes total sense and takes whole COVID-situation to the new level. No matter how crazy it sounds to me, it is spot on. I believe Swedes never have spent that much time outdoors with each other then last 8 months.

The question is does buying a portable stove means that we accepted the situation as it is and there is no hope that life is going be “back to normal” any time soon? Dear Santa…

Tuscany, part 1 of 3. The vineyards

Shocking fact about me – I wasn’t a fan of Italy (at all) before I visited Tuscany last year. I hear you say “That is because you haven’t seen it!” but I did: Palermo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Milan, Venice – and, honestly, wasn’t looking forward to explore more. Then my girlfriends literally dragged me to Tuscany over a long weekend – and, WOW, it really left a strong impression on me.

One post won’t summon it all so let’s start with the obvious: vineyards. Not sure how, but the fact that, apart from the obvious of drinking and buying wine, you can stay in a vineyard, eat in a vineyard, even visit an art gallery in vineyard – totally passed me by.

My 3 girlfriends and I stayed in a vineyard with this view in a Chianti region. Tourist season has just ended, so the restaurant there wasn’t serving breakfast. Keep in mind if you want everything and a little bit more to be open, mid-April to end of September is the time to go then.

Happy workaholic recipe: sun, friends, green scenery around

However, for our group of toddler Mums and workhaholics, coming in mid October was the best decision ever. No crowd, only birds and nature in perfect 20C-ish temperature. To wake up, drive up to buy fresh bread and then sit half a day having breakfast (yes, even if it stretches until 2 pm) and gazing over vineyards – awwww, I can be calmer simply by thinking about those mornings.

The light in the apartment and the view made it very hard to leave the place every morning

After our extensive breakfasts, we normally had a plan what to visit: yes, you are thinking write, mostly vineyards! To recommend a vineyard in Tuscany seems an impossible task – anywhere you look there are vines of 50 shades of green. Where there are vines, there are olive trees as well!

50 shades of a vineyard
Vines and olive trees go well together

During the weekend we ended up visiting (only) two wineries. Let me start with with first one one – Castello di Ama. It had amazing art exhibition. To be fare, I wouldn’t call what they offer “a wine tasting”, rather “an extensive art walk that leads to a room with wines”. The owner has a passion both for wines and art that makes this very special place, below are some impressive pieces there. Suggestion for improvement: to give guests a generous glass of wine before the art walk.

Can you read backwards? Kendell Geers – Revolution/Love
Sad but very powerful art installation of the world build of different walls. Carlos Garaicoa – Yo No Quiero Ver Mas A Mis Vecinos
Daniel Buren – Sulle Vigne: Punti di Vista. Mirror wall 25 m long and 2 m high fronting the main building has openings through which you can see the vines – amazing trick for opening up and bringing volume into the backyard
The well deserved wine tasting after a long art tour…

Second winery that we visited was more in my taste – cool modern architecture with picturesque surroundings – Antinori nel Chianti Classico. The building was constructed solely with local materials with the focus for sustainability and low environmental footprint. Though it looks futuristic once you get to the entrance – you barely see it from the highway, everything was done not to destroy the beauty of the vines surrounding the main building.

Absolutely stunning architecture and the view over Antinori nel Chianti Classico
No words needs – perfection of the modern architecture and the best what the nature has to offer
Top level of the the Antinori nel Chianti Classico

Restaurant in the vineyard is absolutely stunning – if you are not in the mood or have very little time for a whole tour and a wine tasting, head out to the restaurant on the top floor instead. They do magical classical Italian dishes to perfection plus you all the wines that the vineyard is known for overlooking the scenery and surrounded by the vines.

Restaurant with both al fresco and indoors seeating
It can’t get better than this…

Are you already checking tickets? Stay tunes – more narration to come.

Links and comments:

  • Fattoria Pratale: very cozy and rustic apartments right in the heart of a vineyard. If you come during the touristic season, wine tastings and cooking classes are available as well.
  • Castello di Ama: mostly art with wine type of a vineyard. Personally, won’t go there one more time for the wine experience. Art lovers, however, would really enjoy it.
  • Antinori nel Chianti Classico: if you love impressive modern architecture framed with the beautiful nature and topped with great wine selection, this vineyard is a must-visit.
  • Get there by air: flight to Pisa (Vespucci airport) or Florence (Galileo Galilei) depending which part of Tuscany
  • Transportation: I would say that you must have a car when in Tuscany – otherwise, it is very expensive and quite a pain to take cabs. There are public buses between bigger towns but that definitely take away whole experience. Alcohol limit is 0,05% (as per writing this post) – so even the driver can enjoy a glass of wine.

COVID-19 blues

It has been 8+ months or 249 days since I haven’t taken a flight. The closest to air-traveling during this period of time was giving a ride to an airport for a friend’s mother. I was lucky to go for 2 boat trips and 1 road trip during the summer – of course, keeping it inside Sweden.

For a person who flew on average 60 flights a year it is a pretty daunting statistics. Don’t even get me started how I had time off during March and April that I have spent re-watching Friends and doing 10k walks in the neighborhood instead of cruising streets of Tokyo, Perth, Seattle and New York (yes, I am still talking to the agencies to get the money back).

At the same time, this made me so humble. My family, friends and colleagues across the globe were sitting in a forced quarantine whilst I was living my “normal” life in Sweden minus air travel. Deducting air travel from my life was like taking away morning coffee from most of you. However it was still a drop in a sea comparing that my friends in Spain were getting 600 euro penalty fee for throwing away trashes 100 m further than their usual trash bin.

COVID-19 made me remember every single moment of the trips that I have done in the past and cherish them. It made it possible to spend the precious time (otherwise spent in taxis, airport lounges, flights and hotels) with the nearest and dearest and come closer to each other (I am sorry that this might not be the case for everybody, so again very humble on this). It made me more focused on my job – because, hey, I haven’t been stuck in a traffic 2 hours a day as well as taking coffee breaks with “random” colleagues (as a newly employed person in a big American corporation, it might actually have been a drawback – time will tell) – instead, I have spent time taking walks during morning Team Check-ins, cooking healthy lunches and digitally interacting with people that I know bring me energy and professional insight.

As you can read between the lines, I have lots of free “free” time over these days. I have decided that until travel situation will remain as it is in Sweden – restrict non-essential travels from Sweden to any other country even if it allows visitors – I will post memories from the past unpublished trips.

*Photo is taken exactly one year ago in an elevator of Arlanda parking (ARN), Terminal 4 on the way home from the day trip to Gothenburg.

Dream destination?

Since I can remember I was always fascinated by Australia. As a kid I mostly thought of it as a massive rainforest surrounded by the ocean with kangaroos jumping around with mini-kangaroos in their pocket and colibri flying from one unimaginable flower to another. As I grew older, Australia became for me a dream destination for so much more – idyllic beaches with best surfing, amazing outdoors swimming pools, fantastic food culture with everything fresh from around the corner (thank you My Kitchen Rules for showing so much of the local side of living!) and, of course, crazy mix of cultures. Sadly, I did also realize that there is mainly a desert landscape and many dangerous species out there – but that is another story.

Dreams should come true, huh? Most often it happens when least waited. Even for two months ago I wouldn’t imagine sitting in a plane to Brisbane. And here I am – have been awake for more than 48 hours, had 3 stops (one of which wasn’t in the itinerary – THAI airways don’t think that passengers need to know ahead that they “pit-stop” at Phuket on the way from Stockholm to Bangkok) but can’t sit straight from all the excitement seeing the country that has been my only big travel dream ever.

All of this means only one thing for this blog – during coming 3,5 weeks I will share my travel notes and photos from the East Australia: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and everything in between.

Australia, here I come.

Race report – Stockholm Triathlon, 27 Aug 2017

27th of August 2017 was marked as “Go hard” day in a year calendar and awaited both with excitement and fear. Stockholm Triathlon is the biggest triathlon (both Sprint and Olympic distances) in Sweden and part of the World Triathlon series – meaning that they are serious enough to close half of the city center for the event that was great for a newbie as myself. Therefore in the report I want to keep in mind that I had made meticulous research about common pitfalls, best practices and strategies for the race. As a result I was prepared extremely well. Theoretically. And this was a day to put all the knowledge into action (oh boy, there will be some twists!).

Short summary of my experience – this was simply amazing and I am sold on Triathlon! It felt like all parts of puzzle perfectly fitted into their places – extremely satisfying result (funny fact, my time prediction on the night before the race was off only by two minutes!), weather, landscape and organisation.
Continue reading “Race report – Stockholm Triathlon, 27 Aug 2017”

Restore deleted Activity on a Garmin device

After being still high (or tired?) after my very first mini-TRY-triathlon, I accidently deleted Triathlon Activity from Garmin Connect app on my iPhone (in other words, after the watch synchronised it with the app). Activity still was visible on the watch but won’t appear in the list of the activities in the app even after 10+ attempts to synch (both with the app and directly with Garmin Express).

Two hours of trying different solutions from tens of forums dated 2012 and vuolia- the activity is back! If you are in the same situation, here is what you need to do:

  • Plug in your Garmin to the computer with the USB-cable that you normally charge it with. Computer will recognise it as an external USB-drive.
  • Open GARMIN – ACTIVITY folder.
  • Find a *.fit file that looks right according to the “date modified” field.
  • Save it locally on your computer.
  • Go to Garmin Connect website and choose Activities – All Activities. In the top right corner there will be a link “Import”.
  • In a new import page open a *.fit file that you saved earlier.
  • Enjoy the data 🙂

Traveller’s best friend

Comparing to some of my seriously heavy travelling friends, my average of 60+ annual flights doesn’t look that bad. That is why every time when I heard them bragging about another pair of the newly bought noise cancelling headphones, I used to roll my eyes and go “yup, right, why on earth would I spent that amount of money on the headphones”. Then a colleague of mine borrowed me a pair during the transatlantic flight and I finally got it.

All air companies in the world should run a campaign – rent a pair of the noise cancelling headphones for a flight and offer a passenger to buy one at the end of the flight. If it is not a Ryanair flight, I bet at least 20% of the travellers will purchase a pair. The most cautious airlines can start with the business and the first class passengers.


As you might guess, I bought myself a pair the day after that flight. Gosh, it is truly a product from the category – “you don’t know you need it until you have it”. I am writing this from a T2 of El Prat airport (Barcelona) from a pretty crowdie café. Let’s admit it, T2 is not the nicest terminal and you get what you pay for, huh, but somehow I don’t care. I put on a pair of this white Bose’s, turned them on and all the typical “bzzzzzzzzzzzz”, “grrrrrrrr” and “aghaghgha” that you can never avoid, unless you are sitting in a lounge, have disappeared. No, you are not becoming completely death. All the important messages can still be distinguished, for example, a change of the gate for your flight. But you are getting your own world right where you are. No matter what!

Apart from travels, I will use it in day to day situations, no music, simply in a noise cancelling mode:

  • Open space office desk when I really need to prepare for the Customer meeting;
  • During working in a too noisy café;
  • At home when my beloved boyfriend is watching a FC Barcelona game way too loud and I am reading;
  • During the long runs when I need to relax and let my mind wonder around without any white noise.
  • During live concerts to get past all the unimportant buzz.

Should I mention that listening to music with the noise cancelling mode on is getting you to a different level of really enjoying the sound (no, this is not the marketing post!).

As I made my research, I discovered that there are different types of the noise cancelling headphones (in-ear or over the ear; wired or wireless), different designs and, of course, different price tags. Mine criteria were:

  • Over the ear as I feel uncomfortable with having any in-ear headphones for longer than an hour.
  • Wired as I don’t want my phone to get out of the battery even faster than it does now (yes, even with the battery bank) and yes, using the connector for the newest iPhone is annoying.
  • A sound brand that I can trust.
  • Sleek design in mostly white colour. No comments about this one, matter of taste.

Bose QC25 was a natural choice for me and I am truly in love with them and can honestly recommend them to anybody who is looking for a durable and quality noise cancelling headphones in a pretty design (no, you don’t need to get them in white colour, there are variety of colours available, even your own designed colour scheme).

As a conclusion, if you don’t have noise cancelling headphones, be sure to get a pair asap or put them to the birthday/Christmas wishes list because once you try them on you won’t want to take them off.

A feeling of putting “mute” on the external world is priceless and addictive.




Hello, world 2.0

This is an attempt number 3567 to have a running blog to share my best tips and ideas about work motivation, training for my first medium distance triathlon (also often known as half-Ironman), travel notes and, of course, get to know all of you, amazing people, who are going to read this.

I am so-o-o ready to bringt it on, let’s do this!

Hotels in Jönköping (Sweden)

Let’s face it, unless you are a hardcore geek visiting a DreamHack event, Jönköping probably will never be your number one destination – it is right in the middle of the southern part of Sweden, it is 10th biggest town in the country and its population is less than 70 000 people.

And it is a pity! THAT view over the Vättern, the second biggest lake in Sweden, is so worth a car ride. Every time when I take a car down there, I already know how this view will make me full of the positive emotions – doesn’t matter if it is a rainy day or sunny and not a cloud on the sky – as long as it is light and I can see the water, all is good. The best part that the lakeview lasts good 10 minutes driving the  E4-motorway. To be honest, on a sunny day, you can get a little bit of Côte d’Azur feeling  – sky-blue water, mild serpentine and houses hiding in rich greenery on the horisont.

vätternledenimage is taken from here

The views in Jönköping are spectacular as well:


If you are already packing your bags, here are the hotels in Jönköping that you might and might not choose to stay. All stated below is my personal opinion from the best to the worst (literally!) based on the stays in these hotels during 2015-2016.

Continue reading “Hotels in Jönköping (Sweden)”

34th Berlin Halfmarathon 2014 – How was it


Day before the race
Saturday, 17.30 – realised that I supposed to pick up my racing kit the latest 18.00 today or I cannot go for a run. Thanks god, I can dress in 30 seconds and a taxi driver was super nice to drive there in 16 minutes instead of regular 25.
Saturday, 17.55 – running through the old airport where running Expo is located and of course the point where you pick it up located at the very end of the Expo. It was a nice warm up 🙂 but very disappointing to know that a race kit could have been anyway picked up at the day of the race. Damn Germans, could have distributed information better.
Saturday, 18.15 – bought special pins for putting racing number to the clothes that would kinda be the biggest puzzle during the race.
Race day (starting time 10.00 am)
8.45 – still at the room, not sure what kind of clothes to wear and deciding what to eat for breakfast.
9.15 – belgium waffles with cream and a latte – champion’s breakfast (not!). Very nerve braking sitting and watching other runners dressed just in t-shirts and shorts whilst I am wearing long socks, long tights, light sweater and a windstopper. Couldn’t decide whether it is majority weird or me (well, yeah, me of course but too late to regret).
9.25 – took off light sweater, put on windstopper, took off windstopper, left light sweater, realised that light sweater doesn’t have pockets for the energi gels, took off light sweater…On top of that, the problem with the racing number appeared. You supposed to make it visible during the whole run and I put the race number to the windstopper. Well, since I bought awesome pins that look awesome, hold great and not are not supposed to change on the go, I needed to decide whether I want to have windstopper or a light sweater and change the racing number accordingly, I chose to stay in a windstopper (as i would realise on second kilometer, that was soo wrong decision).
Start – I applied to the slowest group, which means that my group waits for everybody else to start that took almost 35 minutes. I was pretty happy with the windstopper at this moment.
Start to 2,5 km – Marc Ronson in the ears, people cheering all around and me trying not to cry of being sooooo thrilled that I am doing it, people around me doing it and spectators have all kind of cute handmade signs ‘Run mama run’ that 3 years old are holding surrounded by grandparents.
3 km – OMG, how i was wrong with the clothes. “Windstopper, long tights and long socks – REALLY? WHAT THE *#€% WERE YOU THINKING?!” – cannot think about anything else, though all the spectators are still thrilling me.
4,5 km – I can see Victory Column, tanks and cannot believe that I am doing this. Emotoins are overwhelming, If somebody would tell me 5 years ago, whilst I was hardly cycling the same route, that I would run half-marathon here, I would think that the person is totally out of his mind.
6 km – suddenly, I see ton of plastic cups on the ground, wet asphalt and realise that it is a water supply point and I was supposed to eat energi gel before it. I open the little bag fast with my teeth, make first sip and USSSH HOW DISGUSTING IS THIS?! I make myself eat at least half (never ever strawberry taste again), grab glass of water and feel that another ruuner poured his glass right on my left shoe. Yup, second lesson learned – be aware of the water at water supply points. Plastic cups under my feet make sound for another 400 meters after water supply point.
8 km – WHY WHY WHY am I wearing this windstopper? It is at least a perfect spring day with 14 degrees and sun and I am dressed for +3C run. If I take a windstopper, where should I put last energy gel? What to do with the racing nu,ber, because obviously I cannot repin it on the run.
8,5 km – still annoyed with being too warm and trying to think logically: I have electronical chip in my right shoe that tracks the time for the official record, I do not care that much about “professional” photos, I have sports bra-slash-top-that-I-can-wear-in.public under my windstopper (and come on, it is Germany, for God’s sake, they do mixed naked sauna on a regular basis) and I am fine running and having windstopper around my hips and holding energu drink in my right hand. So yup, hello, Sharlottenburg, from me in a sports-bra-slash-top.
8,8 km – hell ya, how awesome it is to run and not to be too warm! I am very happy again, back to the please-do-not-cry-right-now mode and giving high fives to the kids.
10 km – almost haaalf way there and made 10k in 1:03, how awesome is that! Once I think that another runner pours water 1 cm from my left shoe and I realise that it is another water station. This time I am very careful, once I grabbed my glass try to avoid every other runner on the left side of the track.

Continue reading “34th Berlin Halfmarathon 2014 – How was it”

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