Recently I had the opportunity to visit parts Northern Europe with a few of my favorite people. As you know I cheer professionally for the Miami Dolphins. Each year the team does a annual shoot where we take images to combine together in a beautiful representation of our team. Myself, five of the other girls, and a chosen few of our wonderful staff all flew from Miami, FL to Frankfurt, Germany, then from Frankfurt we drove to Kiel, then Hamburg, Germany where we first boarded the new ship from MSC, the MSC Meraviglia.
Prior to getting aboard our ship, we were absolutely spoiled by Vlet restaurant in Hamburg, Germany. They brought out a stunning and unique three course meal. The restaurant was tucked charmingly next to a wide river filled with ducks and swans. To top it off, we had the perfect view of a clock tower across the way. It was a magical evening and a great start to the rest of our trip.
Stepping onto the Meravigilia, immediately we were all awestruck by the glittering Swarovski crystal details, primarily the staircase made entirely of the large cut stones. The sheer size of the ship was truly baffling as we looked up at the high ceilings and the distance from wall to wall. Though we had a long day of traveling, we excitedly began to settle in and prepare for our first dinner aboard.
While on the ship, we experienced the famous “chocolate bar”, where you can eat/drink chocolate ANYTHING (coffee, alcoholic beverages, macaroons, candies, you name it), a beautiful 3 course dinner each night, shows, and loads and loads and LOADS of coffee and pizza during the later hours of the night. One of the most dazing things we experienced on our adventure was the fact that because of where we were at in the world, it never really got dark. For a couple hours each night around 3am it would start to look a little dimmer, like a darker twilight but never completely dark. This made staying up way too late a common occurrence for all of us.
Our first stop was Copenhagen, Denmark and reflecting back it might have been my favorite of all the stops. Copenhagen actually means “shopping harbor” which explains all of the brightly colored, eye catching buildings along the water. We explored the city and I don’t think my camera ever stopped clicking away in my attempt to capture EVERYTHING.
For lunch, we were treated to a traditional danish meal at PUK restaurant. Which included fish, meatballs, black bread, eggs, and various other unique foods and variations in which to consume them. Our waiter for the lunch was so incredibly charming and talked us through our meal with stories about PUK and the kings and queens of Denmark. He joked (as he poured liquor to the brim of our glasses) that because fish live in water that the fish needed to “swim” while we ate. Prompting us to sip the Aquavit in between courses. The owner of the restaurant joined us during our meal as our waiter taught us about “Hygge” pronounced (hoo-kah) and boasted proudly about his meatball recipe (which I can vouch, was in fact, the best). Hygge is a traditional practice that basically means the act of making a situation or place cozy and comfortable, associating feelings of contentment. We laughed so much during this meal, I’m not sure how we managed to eat as much as we did.
After our meal, we visited a castle. Yes. A CASTLE. Each room was dedicated to a unique theme, my favorite two being the basement, where the crown jewels were kept and the third floor where it was just one giant throne room.
Our next stop was one of the places I will remember for a lifetime. It was 5am and I opened the curtains of the room to see just feet in front me, cliffs and waterfalls surrounding our ship. We had been sailing through the fjords of Norway and were coming into our port, Geiranger, Norway. Our tour guide, Monica talked us through our adventure up the mountains and told stories of trolls living amongst the villagers.
Molde, Norway was our next excursion and IT. WAS. COLD… and rainy… but charming nonetheless. We didn’t stay off the ship long because of the weather but I took photos from the balcony of our room.
Finally, our last stop during our cruise was Flam, Norway. Keep in mind, the entire time we’re in Norway, we were gliding through the channels of the fjords around us. If you don’t know what a fjord is, it’s land carved out by ice or glaciers, making the edges typically very sharp. We stepped off the ship in Flam and explored the small village of about 250 people. Surrounded by mountains and the air had the perfect amount of bite and crispness that I’ve craved since living in Miami.
After a while we stopped in Aegir Restaurant and microbrewery for lunch. The restaurant was so kind and treated us to a 5 course meal paired with 5 different beers. The meal was served in small portions , all laid out on one long plate and was unlike anything I’d ever had. With dishes like blueberry mousse atop meat, and a chocolate ganache paired with fruits that looked a lot like little tomatoes it was truly a feast i’ll never forget.
After lunch we set off through a 7 mile long tunnel through a mountain toward a “Viking Village” to explore. In the village, there were various individuals and families who all choose to live a traditional viking life, which made the experience interactive and fun. After taking a thousand and one photos we all hopped back on the bus and prepared for our next stop. We gazed out the window at the countless mountainside waterfalls and greenery. It had been an early morning and we all nodded off at one point or another waking and closing our eyes to the passing countryside. When we stopped we were smack in the middle of the most charming little village nestled in the middle of a fjord. Alongside us were tiny row boats and down the streets colorful houses. A river ran into the fjord as we climbed upwards through the village streets for a taller vantage point. We all looked out at this place. This place that was so vast, beautiful, and exceedingly large. We seemed so small in comparison. It was a moment that will forever be locked in time.
I never would have thought that I would be able to visit so many places in such a short amount of time. I never would have thought that this trip and the memories made would be some of my most cherished. I laughed more, ate more, drank more, and took more pictures than I can ever be able to share. This experience showed me not just how beautiful and unique the places I was getting to see were, but how the people I got to know were exceedingly more beautiful and unique. It taught me the importance of connecting with others and how doing so allows you to be consumed by a place more so than just by viewing it alone. Shared experience is one of the most bonding acts and as I go about my life I can’t think of a better way to see the world than by meeting new people and becoming closer to those I already adore.