How to Sauna Like a Finn

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good massage. Or facial, or pedicure, or just about any other form of pampering you can imagine. Except for Thai massages. Those aren’t pampering. Those are torture. A few years ago however, my love for massage was overthrown for a love of something bigger, something badder, something… steamy. The sauna.

In 2008, I had a unique opportunity to visit two friends of mine who live in the only place that’s colder than Canada (okay, not the only, but certainly one of): Finland. The three of us met while on exchange in Toulouse, France and bonded after realizing we all had French dictionaries propped front and center on our desks. At the end of 6 months, it was clear, we were destined to be friends for life.

After nearly 2 years of not seeing each other, I decided to make Finland the first stop of my European travels. I was coming in from India and was ecstatic for some quality time spent in formidable company. I arrived just in time for white nights, which meant no matter the time of day, the sun was out and the sky was simply stunning.

Finnish White Nights, Sauna

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Categories: giraffe travel, thetravelinggiraffe, top tips from thetravelinggiraffe | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rapid Review: Cafe Berlin, Washington D.C

Schmeckt gut. Schmeckt SEHR gut.

On a recent weekend getaway to Washington D.C, my husband and I decided to get a little nostalgic and test out Cafe Berlin. We hadn’t had good schnitzel in a while and decided to take advantage of the good weather, the beautiful patio and the twinkling lights that brought a little Europe back into our lives. It turned out to be the best decision we made all weekend.

Schnitzel. Beer. Schlager Musik. Ja!

In addition to sipping on some truly delicious beer (I was even able to order a Radler – the German version of a Shandy – without getting a questioning stare in return), I was able to nibble on Obatzda und Bretzen, my all-time favourite beer-garden treat! As it turns out, in Cafe Berlin, in the middle of  Washington, I was in Bavarian heaven – without giving up a week’s worth of holiday.

The Huehner Schnitzel was fabulous. The atmosphere romantic. The Schlager Musik? Well, it felt just like home away from home. Fun for those with a bit of German running through their blood, connoisseurs of Bavarian culture or die-hard fans of the Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft, Cafe Berlin certainly will always hit the spot.

Cafe Berlin, Washington D.C

Categories: giraffe travel, street eats: foods from around the world, thetravelinggiraffe, top tips from thetravelinggiraffe | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend-ing in Washington D.C: The Perfect Parent Escape

After surviving a full year of parenting (barely), we finally convinced the grandparents to take the little one so that mommy and daddy could enjoy a little well-deserved time away. Truth be told, I was ridiculously ill-prepared for this little getaway. Normally the anticipation and excitement resulting from having booked plane tickets would drive me directly to, where I’d pick up a fresh guide book off the virtual shelf and await it’s delivery with baited breath. Instead, however, of studying the not-to-be-missed local cuisine, historical highlights, and roaring nightlife, I was busy making sure that I’d packed enough diapers, remembered to drop off Luna’s health card, and writing down every important aspect of my daughter’s routine knowing very well that my dad would throw it into the garbage the moment I walked out the door. Frazzled, wound up and not at all ready to relax, it was only once Grandma and Grandpa had ushered me out the door – to the sound of baby screams flowing down the staircase  –  that I took a deep breath and realized I was supposed to be on vacation. All I really wanted to do? Was sleep. And it took me a one hour flight, a glass of wine, one long-ass commute from Dulles Airport and dropping off my luggage at our hotel, before I finally let go and embraced my 72 hours of freedom. Continue reading

Categories: giraffe travel, thetravelinggiraffe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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