Category Archives: Travel

You have seen my descent. Now watch my rising

It‘s been awhile since I last wrote a blog. But it‘s time to bring this thing to life again. What has been happening since my last post? Great many things! I was a little scared to write again when life started to go well for me, as if I was afraid that I might somehow jinx it if I publicly talked about it.

The second chemotherapy I underwent, thankfully worked! Then I had surgery on February 7th – 2017, where the tumour in my liver as well as part of the liver were removed and the tumours in my peritoneum were scraped. I spent three nights in an ICU before being moved to a general surgical ward at the hospital. In total I spent around 2 weeks in hospital recovering before was allowed to go home. I now have one seriously impressive scar that goes all the way from my chest to navel. Proof that I’m a survivor.

I‘m glad that I can now proudly share that I have indeed been cancer free since that surgery, or for nearly year and a half now. It‘s pretty remarkable considering only a year before the surgery, I was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer and told that it was “possibly terminal“.  My surgeon and my oncologist did a great job and I‘ll be forever thankful to them and all the staff at the hospital that took care of me the time I was forced to spend there. But now I‘m on the road to recovery.

During the first few months of my recovery I spent some time at a rehabilitation centre called Heilsustofnun NLFI in Hveragerði, where I underwent a rehabilitation program which including exercise, walks, healthy-clean eating, as well as some spa treatments, physiotherapy as well as psychotherapy.

In the autumn last year I started my second phase of rehabilitation when I enrolled into political science graduate courses at the University Iceland. My lack of focus and poor memory was driving me crazy. My brain was in a fog caused by chemo and trauma. I needed to find my way out of this fog and feel sharp again. What better way to exercise the brain then to study something challenging. I chose political science because it’s a topic that has always interested me. I have found a great deal of difference in my memory and focus since I started my courses in end of August last year and now that I have completed my second set of final exams this beginning of May. I can‘t complain about my grades, they were quite good all considering how hard it was at the beginning when I walked out of class and couldn’t remember anything that had been discussed.

Now I am about to embark onto the third phase of my rehabilitation, where I will be focusing on my physical and mental health. Tomorrow morning I‘ll by flying to Paris, where I will be spending couple of days with a friend, before taking a train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a town close to the border of Spain. There I will start my journey, the Camino de Santiago or the way of saint James. The walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela is 791 km long. I have no idea if I will be able to complete it, but I will start the walk and do my best. If you want you can watch my journey trough my Instagram and my Instagram story. I will try to keep it updated as well as this blog during my journey of recovery. I still got long way ahead of me. It’s not as if as soon as you get all clear from the doctor that the battle is over and you are fully recovered. Cancer, chemotherapy and surgery have ravaged my body. Not to mention the psychological trauma that I am now dealing with as a result. One step at a time I am building myself up, physically and mentally. You have seen my descent. Now watch my rising.

My pet scan trip to Denmark

Last week I had to go to Denmark for a pet scan. Iceland does now have a pet scanner, recently given to us by Kári Stefánsson of Decode. However we have yet to build a house for it and the ironic thing is, that I can literally look at where the building is going to stand out my bedroom window. It will be about 100 m from my house. But it wasn’t all bad having to go to Denmark. I actually enjoyed it, because I decided that I would.

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Map of Copenhagen

Traveling to Denmark just for a pet scan sounded like such a waste of a journey. Denmark is a wonderful country and much worth the visit. So I decided to stay few more days. The pet scan was scheduled for Thursday, so we flew out on Wednesday. Me and my mother that is. My cousin Kristin came with a train from Södertälje, Sweden, that same day and we met at the hotel which the hospital had recommended to us, as it’s just around the corner from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen.

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The following day I had the pet scan. I have to say, I was impressed with the Rigshospitalet and the Danish public healthcare. I couldn’t help noticing that there were no card machines at the reception when I came. I also like the little touches the hospital staff had done to the pet scanner. They had stuck butterfly stickers inside the scanner, so that the person lying inside it had something pleasant to look at for the 25 minutes the scan took. After the scan I felt really dizzy and weak. It was 16:00 in the day and I had not eaten anything, plus they pump your veins with some chemicals. Thankfully they do stock up on sandwiches and juice in the waiting room, so I could gorge on that while waiting for my mother and my cousin to come back for me. Then we headed downtown and the first thing that I wanted at that point was a McDonalds. Yeah judge me all you want, but I just needed some quick fix energy because I was still feeling so very dizzy and weak and that is what I was craving at the time.  After that we went to a bar and ordered a large beer and they brought us a HUGE beer. It took us 2 hours to drink that thing, but after that I was feeling back to normal. Well they do tell you to hydrate after the scan, I’m sure they don’t mean with beer, but it sure hell worked.

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The next day, Friday, we went shopping because I needed some comfy cloths for chemo…and some cosmetics, girl can never have too much cosmetics ;). Because my energy levels aren’t great, we had to make a lot of stops. By the end of the day I was really dragging my feet and I was pale as a ghost, but I wanted to be sure I had covered everything so I didn’t give up until we were completely done. My mother had to drag me to the hotel in the evening, because I had used up every bit of my energy. It’s kinda of a downer when your 60 year old mother is more energetic than you after a whole day of shopping, but that’s just cancer for you. She had to fight my corner in some of the last shops, because the shop assistants would just walked right trough me, that’s how pale I was. But it was all well worth it.

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On Saturday, the daughter of my grandfathers sister, Friðrika, came and picked us up from the hotel and took us to her home town of Solrød Strand. It was my first time out of Copenhagen and I have to say it was refreshing to experience something different from the city. Solrød Strand is an exceptionally adorable little towns by beautiful white beach. If I didn’t already have such a vivid dream of me and Ravi living in a beautiful villa by the banks of the Ganges, then I wouldn’t mind living by the beach at Solrød Strand. There we also saw the oldest house in Denmark…or at least that is what Friðrika says.

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On Sunday we visited my parents old friends at Roskilde, which is another stunning town in Denmark with a remarkable cathedral, where all the former kings of Denmark are buried. It’s probably also worth mentioning the famous music festival which takes place there every summer…I have yet to go. Never say never they say and I have always thought that was a good advice to follow. We flew home the following Monday. Next time I will visit Denmark, Ravi will be with me. For sure!

Tourism in India

IMG_6686Last month I was asked to speak at The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event at The Indian Embassy in Iceland. The topic I was asked to speak on, was on tourism in India. I am no expert on the subject, but I do have both opinions as well as ideas on the matter.

I have traveled to India 3 times. First time I was there for only 3 weeks. I went there after scheduled tour of Nepal. I staid with a friend that I met trough the international mountaineering community and the first thing he did for me was to take me out of the city (Delhi) and into the mountains. There I experienced something that I wasn’t expecting, an image of India that I had no idea that existed, an image I had never seen promoted…ANYWHERE!

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The Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

India is not exactly positively promoted in Iceland. It is in fact hardly promoted at all. The only picture Icelander get of India is trough the media and western movies and it is more often than not, a stereo typical, negative images of India. The images of poverty, dirt, pollution, noise, poor hygiene, crazy traffic and an ocean of people everywhere. I’m not saying that it isn’t  also a true image of India, all I am saying that it isn’t the only image of India, that there is more too it. India is so wast in size and differs so in culture, climate and landscape, that there simply has to be more to it and I am here to tell you that there is!

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During the NIM mountaineering course. Uttarakhand, India

What I saw during my first days in India, was yes that stereo typical image of India, but I also got to experience something that I never identified with India, a whole new side of India. I got to experience it’s wilderness, the untouched nature of the Himalayan mountain range, it’s forests, rivers and wild life. I got to stay with humble mountain villagers that lived simple life without any luxury of modern living and I got to gaze at the stars while cosying up to a fire outside our tent, with illuminated eyes of wild bears and leopards peering trough the darkness around us.

Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand, India

Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand, India

The second time I wen to India, I got to spend a whole month in the Himalayan Mountains, training mountaineering with the Indian Army at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. It was very though, the training was hard and the discipline was strict, not to mention that we had to carry 20 kg on our back in high altitude. But there again I got to experience a side of India no one every tells you about. This incredible untouched beauty of the Himalayan Mountain Range.

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During the NIM mountaineering course. Uttarakhand, India

The difference in trekking on the Indian side of the Himalayas vs. the Nepalese side, is that it is much less commercial. In fact the adventure tourism in the Indian Himalayas, is no more than a decayed old and isn’t  developing at high speed because that simply isn’t the Indian style. The people involved with this sort of adventure tourism in these areas, normally come from poor and humble background. They have never traveled much elsewhere and have little to compere it too. They simply know the mountains and the river very well and are more than willing to guide those few people that have discovers this gem in India and are interested in getting to know it better. The locals need someone to guide them in how to promote their tourism better and how to attract more tourist to these areas, because more people need to come and see this amazing part of India. The two winters I lived and I worked within the tourism industry in Rishikesh, I tried my best to share my knowledge on how market tourism and how to use social media as a tool to promote it world wide.

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A Himalayan Peak

I would like, with this website, introduce Icelanders and the world to the Indian part of the Himalayas, particular the part that lies in Uttarakhand and what it has to offer in terms of culture, food, nature scenery and activities, now that I am forever attached to it and to Rishikesh. I will be traveling frequently there with my future husband Ravi, who is a mountain and river guide, born and bred in the mountains. Lucky me! 🙂

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Chopta, Uttarakhand, India

PS. I will have separate posts where I will talk more about the places seen in the photos featured in this post.

The Love Story: Fate or Coincidence!

I was not on my way to India. It was a result of various events and coincidences that landed me there. It was as if it had always been my fate to go there, I just did not know yet.

The summer of 2012 I was working as a receptionist at a hotel in Norway, Stalheim Hotel to be exact. I was planning a trip to Peru to work as a volunteer in the autumn. I was going to save the rainforest you see. My mother was at that same time, planing a two-week trip to Nepal with a group of people and had already paid for half her journey. When she did not get time off work, she contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Nepal in her place. Of course I did, no question about it!

I had few years before met Satyabrata Dam, from India, when he gave a lecture during an educational evening with Icelandic Alpine Club. Satya had climbed the highest peaks on all the seven continents and traversed both the north and south pole. He sent me a friend request on Facebook after the event, which I gladly excepted. Now that I was going to Nepal for two weeks, I saw an opportunely to visit India as, so I contacted Satya and asked him if he wanted to meet up with me in India. He did not delay his response, of course he wanted to meet up with me, and not only that, but he also planed my whole visit so I would definitely not miss out on all the good things India had to offer.

At that moment I did not know that my fate awaited me in India and another year would pass and another visit, until I knew what it was.

Chandrachilla Top, Uttarakhand, India

Chandrachilla Top, Uttarakhand, India