Discovering Scandinavia

Hello all,A few weeks ago, I traveled to Northern Europe with my daughter, Alya. Although I admit to being a bit bitter I didn't get any Vitamin D the entire trip and was constantly buried under four layers of clothing, I had a wonderful time. The societal structure is truly amazing and we were constantly surrounded by warm-hearted beautiful people. Our journey started in Copenhagen, Denmark, where we stayed for a few days. From there, we boarded a cruise ship that brought us to Stockholm, Sweden, Talinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Helsinki, Finland. While there, While we were there, she drove me crazy stopping every 5 minutes to take pictures! But, after we arrived back to South Dakota and she showed me the photos she took, I realized her talent. She's the one who took all of the photos below, and many more. If you want to see the rest of the photos she took, you can click here. You won't regret it! I'm a proud mama.Of course, I was excited to see what the food pickings in this part of the world would be. First things first, Scandinavians love their black licorice! Everywhere we went, we found a vast collection of black licorice. In Copenhagen, we found an Italian food market while wandering down Strøget, the main shopping street. One day for lunch, my daughter and I decided to back to the market and use the last of our Kroner (Danish currency). So, we bought fresh bread, cheese, marinated artichokes, olives,and sun dried tomatoes and headed back to our hotel room to feast. Let me tell you, this was one of our best decisions ever.The Italian market in Copenhagen.Food from the Italian market. Later in Stockholm, my daughter and I decided to get lunch at a random Italian restaurant we stumbled upon. Oh. My. God. This food was delicious! Never in a million years did I think I would I tell you that I would find some of the best Italian food I've ever ate (and I've been to Italy numerous times) in Stockholm, Sweden! My pasta was absolutely delicious, and my daughter claims her vegetarian pizza as the best she's ever had.Lunch in StockholmThe next day we arrived in Tallinn, Estonia. We spent our day on an Estonian farm. I'm not really quite sure why I did this as my daughter made a good point that the Estonian countryside looks an awful like South Dakota. Oh well, the fresh yogurt and cheese was good. The next part is what is really cool. As many of you know, my daughter is a vegetarian and extremely health conscious, and it's not the easiest trying to find an "Alya friendly" restaurant in Estonia. She kept turning down restaurants for lunch left and right and then it was like a angel gifted us her graces. We found a vegan restaurant in the Estonia! Crazy right?! And not only was it vegan, it was DELICIOUS. I cannot tell you how pleasantly surprised I was by the food. "I ate at a vegan restaurant in Estonia," -definitely not something you hear every day.Fresh yogurt from a farm in Estonia. The outside of the vegan restaurant in Tallinn.The next day we were awakened by the Russian skyline. Velcome to Russia. Here, we went on an all-day tour of St. Petersburg and it was accompanied by a traditional Russian meal. The food really wasn't that great, but we sat down at our table to caviar and vodka, which is definitely worth noting. My 18-year-old daughter (who is legal to drink in Europe) was a bit too excited about the vodka for my liking.Lunch in St. Petersburg (notice the vodka and caviar!) There is nothing to really to mention about Helsinki's as we were only there for about 4 hours and did not eat anything while we were there even though we absolutely loved the city. Overall, it was an amazing trip. I was a bit reluctant that my daughter choose to go somewhere so close to the arctic circle for our summer vacation, but now, I'm so happy we went. My daughter instantly fell in love, especially with Copenhagen and Helsinki and has now taken upon herself to learn Danish! We had a wonderful time and I highly recommend seeing this part of the world if you are ever given the chance.I hope you all enjoy your week. Sanaa