Lokalii’s Winter Winners

charles-bridge-in-winter-160426606-5905fb3b3df78c5456f8fe2a

Who loves winter? WE DO! WE DO! It’s a magical time- the snow lights up the city, the fireplaces roar and nature transforms into your very own playground. But we get it, maybe where you are it just gets cold, dark and rainy. Maybe the only fireplace you’ll see is the image on a screen at the local department store. If that sounds familiar then our winter winners hotlist is for you!

Get the hot cocoa on and check out our favorite winter hangouts (in no particular order)…

1. Oslo

Surprised? Come on. Of course we were going to say Oslo. It’s the winter capital of the Nordics (perhaps even the world..). With renowned cross country tracks and downhill slopes just a couple of stops away from the city centre, Oslo provides urban adventures without the seclusion and exhaustion of carpooling your way up a mountain (unless you want to, that is). It’s the perfect mix of ‘woah’ landscapes and a pumping nightlife. And while you’re here, we suggest you test out ice fishing on the Oslo fjord, it’s an extraordinary experience that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Also- have a sip of that world famous coffee. It takes better when it’s below zero.

 

vigeland-park-sculpture-oslo-norway

2. Reykjavik, Iceland

The Icelandic capital is cold, sure, but with access to more warm ‘volcanically heated’ baths then you can shake your mulled wine at, and of course the Blue Lagoon, it’s hard to beat. This vibrant city is the perfect launchpad to explore the beautiful and thrillingly wild Icelandic nature from. Start the day by a geysir (that’s a natural fountain of water to you and me..) and end it at one of many cutting-edge dining spots in the city. Extra points for snapping up a group photo in an iconic Icelandic design jumper with your mates!

 

blue-lagoon-feature

3. Vancouver & Whistler

We are cheating a little by adding two cities as one entry. Vancouver is the big city, with a buzzing international life, and a dynamic and evolving cultural scene. And if you like exploring a city by foot then you’ll be blown away by the ‘seawall’ which is exactly what it sounds like- a paved 28km pathway around the seafront. Get those cameras out, the views are unsurprisingly incredible. Also- did someone say ‘christmas market’? Vancouver makes a sport out of this annual event, with over 75 huts full of goodies. If you don’t like all those lights harshing your outdoorsy buzz then a short drive north of the city you’ll hit Whistler, with access to every winter activity under that sub-zero sun. You’re pleasing everyone with this combo- something for the thinkers, the thrill seekers and city lovers too.

VCM_01

4. Bavaria, Germany

If you’re a sucker for classic gothic fairytales then go to see the Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter. It’s a medieval romance to rival anything you’ve seen in a disney film. We’re not kidding- Disney modelled the castle in Sleeping beauty on Neuschwanstein…And Bavaria has more to offer than just the gorgeous views and jaw-droppingly intricate interiors of its famous castle. Also- you’re in Germany, the unofficial home of the christmas market (they invented this game), which comes with all the associated bratwurst sausages, warming spiked tipple and gingerbread you can get into your mittens. This is all home grown festive fun, and you didn’t hear it from us, but a pretty great proposal location..

castle_city_sky_forest_winter_snow_84533_2560x1440

5. Prague

Prague (former capital of Bohemia) is a pretty magical place all year round, but has a special charm in the winter months. Imprinted with it’s stark historical pasts, you’ll wander into old pubs, basement restaurants and unlikely little cafes in the most industrial looking of shells. Winter is low season (apart from right around christmas time), so you’ll have the luxury of sliding in and out of the best spots without being disturbed. You’ll be able to reflect on the lit up Tyn Church and take your photos of the astronomical clock wearing a cloud of fog without the stag parties knocking you over. Win-Win. Walking the narrow and winding streets of the old town in the snow will throw you right back in time. Also, beer. Prague has great beer and you’ll want to feel cultured while drinking it. There’s no better time to eat rich food and starchy sides. We suggest you fill up on soup served in a breaded shell, wash it down with a delicious beer and then take a nap and think about Kafka. We love you Prague. We love you beer.

849a6fea1dec03a63e00b169add6ea7e

Advertisements

Lokalii’s artistic side

reskate-montana-timisoara_1_orig

If you like those unexpected artsy finds, visiting someplace new, or just roaming about in your own backyard, then today’s blog post is for you. Nothing’s better than a quirky trail, and getting to know a place through the hidden visual charms. Here are some of our top picks for the unconventional culture vulture in you.

Marseilles’ workers

10775483096_2aa7dcb285_b.jpg

The world is full of sculptures and galleries, but there is only one Les Voyageurs by Bruno Catalano. This is the sculpture you take your art allergic friends to. Depicting workers with seemingly imperfect forms, it will render you silent on sight. Your friends will understand it immediately. The workers are all missing pieces, either because they are missing something in life, or have left a piece of themselves behind. This piece is one our absolute favorites, as it tells its own story.

London’s hidden (Sitar) rhythm

ravi-shakar-george-harrison-august-1967-resize.jpg

Artistic mediums aren’t just visual in nature. A walk down an iconic (back) street in London will have you acquainted with some of the world’s rarest instruments. If you’re into the hand-made, loved and trusted music making products, then this is the spot for you. Lose yourself to classical, culturally diverse music, and the stories that accompany them.

Pssst…Lokalii’s got an insider to walk you through one of London’s best kept secrets. Right next door to Sherlock Holmes, Kiran will unveil another kind of mystery- the story of the Sitar, with a cup of chai. If you’re lucky you might even meet Adele, who frequents this little urban enclave, checking out the harmoniums..

Amsterdam’s hidden churches

piotr-chrobot-303051.jpg

We know that church sight-seeing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a history buff who likes to dabble a little in the ‘hidden world of churches’ then check out the Chapel of the Parrot in Amsterdam. In 1578, the Netherlands became protestant,and Catholics prayed in private places. This meant a lot of hidden churches in houses and nicknamed after animals and objects- pretty cool, right? This is just one example- the Papegaai, or the parrot to you and me. A narrow entrance leads you into a pretty beautiful chapel steeped in national history.

Timișoara’s magic tricks

reskate-montana-timisoara_1_orig

Do you like street art? Maybe you know your Banksy from your D-Face, but you may not know the illusionary Reskate studio’s piece ‘asombrar’ (Spanish verb for shadow) in Romania. Are you intrigued? Check out this transformative artwork, changing with the light to play a little trick on you…

Valparaiso’s stair-art

creative-stairs-street-art-1-1

You might be better acquainted with the ‘stair-art’ (if such a thing exists) of Brazil, but don’t miss the intricate illustrations on the steps of Valparaiso’s narrow stairwells. In fact, you can find Mario Celedon’s work splashed all over the city’s walls, giving Neruda’s home town a beautifully whimsical feel.

Sign safari in Stockholm

8260531191_6d742ea7e1_b.jpg

Neon signs are a new kind of storytelling. In a historical city like Stockholm. You could go it alone, but you’d miss half the plot. Book the experience via the app and Sanna will narrate that story through a new, glowing perspective. Forget the faux-kitsch trend- this one is about a history in lights…

 

 

Fantasy Bucket List

obama-unicorn

…Because it’s still only Thursday…

It’s no surprise that we like to daydream as much any other start-up here at Lokalii.
So when we asked about the fantasy bucket list experience at the office, it kind of took some unexpected turns.Some of them weird, some wonderful and a few we were too shy to put into words. But the shareable ones are up on the blog for your work afternoon pleasure now! Tell us what you think- what would be on your bucket list if anything at all was possible?

Participate in a Hogwarts selection

Ij9LO02

OMG. We can’t imagine anything more magical (no pun intended) than either being present at Hogwarts ceremonial hall during a house selection, or even better, taking our place under the sorting hat. Not to mention the bottomless butterbeer, pumpkin juice and elderflower wine in that floating candle-lit hall. Point us towards platform 9 ¾ please. The real one. Not the one with the massive queue for photos in London…

Dancing with Beyonce on stage

justin-timberlake-beyonce-backup-dancer-snl-02

Not that we are really good dancers, but hey, who would be watching us when Queen B’s on stage anyway? We just want to be snapped striking a pose behind her majesty. The satisfaction of telling that story at every.single.dinner.party.ever would be priceless!

Watching the fall of The Wall

https-2F2Fblueprint-api-production_s3_amazonaws_com2Fuploads2Fcard2Fimage2F5690512Fd8f86d52-cdea-4ccd-a8d6-e57d5125e41a

No not THAT wall. We mean the one holding off the white walkers. Not really so pleasant or cozy in a traditional way…but seriously, can you imagine a more grand experience to witness? We’d want to observe this from a safe distance from the aforementioned white walkers, their re-incarnated dragon and any other dangerous or creepy things. But all that said and done, with a sword and the sudden ability to fight alongside Tormund (please say he made it?!), this is a top scorer on our fantasy list. Imagine if Daenerys Targaryen decided to swoop in with a blanket and a bottle of wine as well. We’re not so scared of winter coming after all.

Riding a unicorn on a rainbow

5GbiZDS

…without having to ingest any hallucinogens to do so, obviously. If there is a paradise, we are certain the unicorn on a rainbow is as ordinary as the weekly trip to the supermarket to buy milk. But it must be so cool the first few times, and even while you’re wearing your ‘ugly’ pyjamas with a pint of semi-skimmed in your arms. We imagined it a bit like in Mario Kart, but like, on a frickin UNICORN.

Having a Transformer as your car

546b0b05b840a_-_8875109273_e931fcbd72_o-lg

No explanation necessary really, just one word to describe it; AWESOME, and NEVER any issues with finding parking in the city. Win-Win.

Swimming in a big pool of ice-cream

176f9af0fac2d7f92a3050adbf836f49

A couple of conditions for this one (because even fantasies have limits)- 1) You should be able to eat the ice-cream while you swim but it shouldn’t make you fat or feel nauseous. 2) our fantasy pool of ice-cream is totally hygienic. Also, we want a lot of sprinkles, because it’s our fantasy and we like sprinkles. One of our team also preferred the pool to be filled with frozen yoghurt. Much deliberation followed but we allowed it in the end. After we all agreed on these conditions (and FroYo clause) we decided that if there was a religion offering the pool as a reward in the afterlife we would have definitely signed up and become high priests already.

Some of the notably weirder ones (is that even possible?) that came up:

Parkour on clouds

Being a sock inside a washing machine, and seeing where the hell that journey ends (romantic singles’ cruise for socks somewhere?)

Eating our way out of a peach, or any fruit really.

King Kong backing you up in a bar fight, or any minor disagreement at the office

 

 

 

 

Lokalii’s top ‘bucket-hit-list’ experiences

Copy of canary islands

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would ask you where you wanted to go on a dreary Sunday and you’d just shout random things out, ‘the moon!’, ‘the North Pole!’, ‘digging for treasure’’, ‘exploring under the sea’? Well now you’re an actual adult and you can (kind of) do those things.

At Lokalii we still get excited for every new experience that is created by our users, especially the ones that capture that adventurous big-kid feeling in us.

Some of them surprise us, some of them make us laugh, and some of them instantly become bucket list classics that we pin to our internal wanderlust boards. Because we’re all still that kid wanting to explore under the sea, eat icecream for dinner and run over desert dunes or whatever…

Unfortunately, it’s quite unlikely you can find a local to take you to the moon (yet!) but the earth is gigantic. So much so that everyday you can discover new sights, sounds and people to experience and to kill time until the moon strolling becomes a viable option!

Today on the blog, we want to show you some of the experiences that the team have selected for their ‘bucket-hit-list’, a range of different experiences that have us daydreaming into the weekend. Check the app to book any one of these, and to discover more, some of which might be right around the corner from you!

Live the ‘arctic expedition’ fantasy, for a whole day

IMG_2079

Yes, you read right. A day trip to the North Pole.
Is it as simple as it sounds like? Yes it is.
Only one day? Yup, back and forth.
What should I prepare? Nothing, just pack warm clothes, like really, really warm clothes. It’s a hella cold.
Seriously, can it be so easy? Yes it can. Just make sure to be at Longyearbyen, three hours flight north of Oslo, prior to departure. You won’t see these photos on your mate’s social media feed anytime soon. Make them gasp at your adventurous spirit..and then come back a day later because holy shit, it’s so cold…

Re-create that Peter Andre video under waterfalls and feel really really cool about it:

El_Limon

27 waterfalls? Check
River walking right into the ocean? Check. Michael Flatley ain’t got nothin’ on you, shimmying away in an actual bloody river.
Cable car entrance? Check
Hanging out with the locals on a beach, all casual, like? Check
Mojitos? Check, check and check (you need at least three to really get in the right mood)
Abs? Well..that’s up to you, but after the mojitos, who cares though?
Dominican Republic adventure? Yes please, where do we sign up? Right in the lokalii app, look up the ‘Live Puerto Plata’ experience in the Dominican Republic and hit BUY with your not mojito holding hand.

Fulfill the conservationist in you (and interact with some cute sea turtles)

SeaTurtleNTCMaz

Never managed that career in wildlife protection, but wished you were out there saving the world’s creatures from harm? Log-off the work PC and accomplish that ambition. Get the training and know-how before you are afforded a safe and ethical interaction with these stunners, near the Mexican town of Puerto Vallarta. A life changing experience that doesn’t harm the world awaits you, and in one of the world’s most gorgeous spots no-less! Did anyone say ‘win-win’?

Fly over the ‘city of eternal spring’

Andes Xtreme Adventure Travel Paragliding

Have you ever heard of paragliding? Yup? Now imagine paragliding over the Andes range from a location named after it’s perpetual blossoming. Forget those mouldy ‘backpacking in Latin-America’ cliches. Get strapped into something truly breathtaking- and not just because of the altitude. Mostly because ‘OHMYGOD I’M PARAGLIDING IN THE ANDES’. 

Sail like a viking (in a very posh boat)

pexels-photo-273886

You’re on a boat! And who better to help you not sink it than your very own Norwegian co-captain. Have you always had dreams of the sea air in your head? Looking to leave that 9-5 behind, even for a moment, and feel the waves crashing against your boat? Yeah. Us too. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been tempted to pull a ‘captain Jack Sparrow’ rather than sit through another meeting. And this particular experience is more than you and your boat. It’s you, your boat, your sailing viking buddy, some cold beers and snacks, and oh yeah…one little thing, the majesty of the Norwegian Fjørds. Grow some sea-legs and buy that ridiculous hat you’ve always wanted, don’t ask questions, just say ‘aye aye cap’ain’ and climb aboard.

Embark on your own bazar adventure

8(13)

Magical Bazars, do they exist? Get your head out of that Aladdin fantasy and into something real. Hop onto a plane to Tehran and be prepared to be dazzled. What’s your vice? Antique lamps? Gold, rough cut jewels you want to fashion into the shape of a bagel (or, I dunno, a heart)? Or maybe you want to buy saffron and pistachios straight from the source, and with a local who does all your awkward haggling for you. A whole new world? Oh yeah. You might even score yourself a magical carpet ride. But probably not. You’ll more likely get a great deal on that Persian rug you always wanted to boast about. Just think of the stories you’ll tell over those imported tea leaves..

Why we love Tromsø

Tromso_Tromsø_Norway_tunliweb_02

If we have you fawning over the Northern lights, then you should know that there’s probably no better place to gawk at them than Tromsø, aka. ‘The Paris of the Norway’ (yes, really). In addition to the Aurora Borealis, Tromsø, the biggest  Norwegian city to the North, has bags more to offer.

Check out some of our favorite Trømso picks below!

Lyngen Alps

Kjostindane_over_Lyngen_fjord,_2012_MarchEast of Tromsø you will find the beautiful and mesmerizing Lyngen Alps. It’s a spectacular view both for visitors in the summer and winter. If you live for skiing then welcome to ski-bunny heaven! This is a prime location for those adventurous off-piste skiers who want to go from mountain-top down to the shores of a fjord. The experience is grand, but think of the  instagram-ready shots you’ll get on the way!

Mack Brewery Beerhall

Ølhallen i Tromsø. Foto: Marius Fiskum / www.mariusfiskum.no

An institution for years, Tromsø’s oldest pub has close ties with the local brewery, which still brews some of the finest polar beer you can get, right next door. Yes, we said polar beer, what did you expect? Directly from the brewery, those drops of liquid golden are tapped for the  beer that’s fresher than Arctic snow. The beerhall is one of the most loved and visited buildings in Tromsø, and great place to have a pre-Northern light sightseeing drink, by the way. For the locals, if you haven’t been here then you haven’t been anywhere at all i Trømso.

Salangen caves

19146072_1931515963793545_4346767237575582800_n

If you’re going all the way up north, you might as well add a day trip to Salangen, three hours south of Tromsø and visit the amazing caves of Salangen. Its wild and untouched nature, with cave rivers, waterfalls and Game of Thrones levels of epic is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Imagine 700 meters of unexplored nordic wilderness, you, your camera and your senses. Definitely worth a trip.

Honourable mentions

The Polar museum is the perfect place improve your knowledge about expeditions to the Arctic, and everything Arctic realted.

The Arctic Cathedral is a beloved landmark in Tromsø, with a truly unique design is not just famous- it’s Instagram famous.

Vulkana boat sauna. Need we say more? This needs no further introduction- it’s an Arctic spa experience on a boat. A BOAT.

 

Northern Light Myths & Legends

canada-AURORA0916

The Northern lights have had humans spell bound for centuries. The beautiful dancing lights enchant us, excite us, scare us and..and kind of make us a bit hot and bothered to be honest. The stuff of myths and legends for sure…

So what better time to share our top three northern light myths (in no particular order)?

The Dancing Virgins Myth

The northern lights are thought to be the souls of dead virgins dancing away and lighting up the night sky (nice!), at least that’s what the Norwegians believed. Apparently you could make them dance more, if you just waved a white towel up at them- which is err..pretty obvious, actually. In England they even named the hypnotic phenomena “Merry Dancers”. The story goes that British sailors thought that when they looked up to the sky, they were looking under the skirts of the virgin dancers.

The Northern lights and Beautiful Kids

According to Japanese myths, conceiving a child under the Northern lights is the surest way to create a good looking, smart and fortunate child. Which is obviously what the entire Lokalii team’s parents did. Ahem. This may be why the Northern Norwegian city of Tromsø has been the honeymoon destination for many, many Japanese couples. Icelanders also have a reproductive related belief- that the Northern lights will ease child birth related pain for women..and if that’s true then this isn’t a myth, it’s a bloody MIRACLE!

VIP Party in the Sky

In Estonia they believed that the Northern lights were actually amazing carriages drawn by horses, carrying heaven’s VIP guests to heavenly wedding parties. They weren’t alone. The Swedes also thought the lights led them to a party, but a very specific party, a herring party no less, with promises of a great harvest. We’re not sure a herring party is our kind of party, but whatever…

Whether you want to lose yourself in myths or make some unforgettable memories under this spellbinding phenomena, we hope this post has your wanderlust muscles tingling for more!

003522_ystein-Lunde-Ingvaldsen_www.nordnorge.com_Boe.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persian Cuisine for Newbies

Rice

Persian food is not as well known as other Middle Eastern cuisines are in the western hemisphere. You might think that’s a bit sad, but we think it might actually be a bit of a gift. Just imagine what new worlds of tingling taste moments lie ahead for you! Come, come…let us tell you what you’ve been missing…

Pound for Pound- the Best Rice in the World

This is the cuisine’s cornerstone, the undisputed queen of any meal. There are many ways to serve this white jeweled deliciousness, but none is better than steaming it for hours on the stove, adding some saffron, barberries (google it) and flaked pistachio, and serve it all with a crispy bottom, called a ‘tahdig’ (literal translation ‘bottom of the pot’). Once you’ve mastered that cracker you get to move onto the ‘pro’ rice dishes- ‘tahchin morgh’ (a ‘cake’ of crispy topped saffron rice and yoghurt with chicken baked inside, ‘adas-polo’, where the rice is steamed with layers of lentils and raisins and so many more…taste the rice rainbow…

Whatever the variety of rice, cooking it is an art form, and always a bit of a silent competition. If you have no rice skills, you can not call yourself a cook. If you’re lucky enough to be together with an Iranian and you visit their parents’ house, pay very careful attention to the way you are served rice. And comment on how good it is. You’re welcome.

 

2ffab5ccfdf8c888bf092f2caf6a60d7bef82eab.jpeg

 

The Stews

Persian cuisine is built around fresh and natural tastes, with a small selection of trusted spices. A variable climate, four distinct seasons, and fertile lands have produced a bright, sensuous, fruit-and-herb filled cuisine, best displayed in the variety of stews to enjoy with that epic rice.

Take ‘fesenjoon’, a delicious pomegranate and walnut stew…Or ‘gheyme’, a tangy and umami-rich, dried lime, split bean and fried potato version (can you hear our stomachs rumbling?). That’s not to forget the king of all stews, ‘ ghorme sabzi’, literally referring to cacophony of herbs that give it the distinct deep green colour (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.)

0cexK7a

The Kebabs

The wonderful world of the Persian kebabs does not have any limits. Whether it’s fish, poultry or beef doesn’t really matter, Iranians will serve it grilled to perfection.

Iranians love their kebab and in particular their emblematic ‘koobideh’. Minced meat, onions, salt and pepper are mixed together, grilled and served with bread or rice (and if you are a seasoned pro with both). It sounds simple, but simple is usually the most sublime. 

 

o.jpg

The aubergine, an unsung hero

The mighty aubergine is served in 1001 varieties and is the quiet but stoic hero of different occasions. Mixed with yogurt, filled with rice stuffing, smoked and whirled into tomato and egg, mashed and topped with a salty whey reduction and put into thick stews, the aubergine is our favorite crowd pleaser.

Have we got you craving some of this heart throbbingly excitingly food yet? Next time you are looking for fireworks of natural flavours, planning to enjoy a variety of tastes and want to impress, turn towards this lesser known Middle-Eastern star. We promise you, it’s a game changer.

 

aubergine 2.jpg