Happy Monday! Our week was off to a really good start with an awesome tapas evening hosted by Sweden’s first ever travel magazine Tidningen Res, Gran Canaria Tourism and Instituto Cervantes. We listened to a talk about Grand Canaria’s less known sides, attractions and history. The speakers dispelled the myth about Gran Canaria as a destination full of tourists and tourist traps. After the lecture, we were offered a delicious tapas buffet and sangria, and continued to mingle with Gran Canaria enthusiasts, fellow travel bloggers (always a pleasure to meet LinizTravel amongst others) and organizers. Thank you to Res and Gran Canaria Toursim for a great evening!



 

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Get to know the sisters behind We are Nodes
Part 1: The big sister


Name: Yasmin Tilles
Age:
29 ("The big sister")
City: Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation: Working as PR and Marketing Manager at IT security-startup Detectify
Passions: Entrepreneurship and building businesses, digital marketing, travelling (obviously), planning (I’m a project manager-freak who plans my whole existence in various to do-lists), and drinking coffee on my balcony.


Your Best Trip?


There are SO many unforgettable trips to choose between, but here’s two trips that has left a big impression on me:

1) A work trip I made to San Francisco and New York in 2013 while I was working at IDG Sweden and Webbdagarna. I joined the IDG US event team in San Francisco for the annual Macworld/iWorld conference, a huge event targeting Apple users and partners, for a week of intensive and fun work. Later, I took the plane over to NY where I stayed with my friend Bess (who I became friends with when we both were studying Spanish in Madrid), and enjoyed another week of meetings, events and sightseeing in the city. I remember walking around downtown, jumping between inspiring meetings with NY- based startups like Holstee and other prominent web experts, looking up at the skyscrapers and feeling so alive and filled with energy.

With IDG:s awesome and legendary founder Patrick McGovern at the Macworld Conference 
Jumping between meetings in NY 
Love New York!
I was mainly working with the Speaker Lounge at MacWorld. And yes, Ashton Kutcher was one of the speakers (since he played Steve Jobs in the movie about the Apple founder), but I didn't run into him on site. 

2) Not a trip, but more a travel experience that’s very special to me is when Sheida and I moved to Barcelona in 2008, 10 years ago! Not only was it our first abroad experience together, but my GAWD how much we experienced during those months in Barcelona. We rented two rooms in an apartment close to Sagrada Familia, worked together, spent a lot of time partying, getting to know people, going on excursions (our local flatmate was always surprised by the places we explored when we were off work). Barcelona will always be special to me, especially since both me and Sheida grew up a lot during our time there.

A very old photo of Sheida and I from Barcelona, it seems we liked to match outfits back then... 

Haha love this image of my room in Barcelona that I found when writing on this blog post. The funny thing is that Sheida slept in my bed the first night, since we hadn't really decided if we trusted our flatmate yet (he turned out to be a great guy). 

Favorite travel memory?


Spending a night in the jungle in Costa Rica in 2015. Long story short; We arrived to the wrong hotel in the middle of the night and  in the middle of the jungle, but somehow we managed to convince the hotel owners to let us sleep in their open air show room. Definitely one of my travel highlights!


When my friend Linnéa and I visited Pointe des Almadies, the most western point of Africa, during our volunteer trip in Dakar, Senegal. Pointe des Almadies was the perfect way to escape the crazy and loud citylife in Dakar, and the place made us come back twice for its quiet surroundings and fresh oysters.
We visited Pointe des Almadies during a volunteer trip we did to an orphanage in Senegal.

Sheida and I have spent many months in Cannes, but one thing we never get tired of is the magical sunrises over there. I love the memories of those nights when we had a blast at the club, and then walked home while talking about the evening as the sun went up.

What’s the best and worst part about traveling with you sister?


Worst part is that we push each other’s buttons and therefore argue a lot (fortunately for us, we make up as quickly). Best part is that we are a great travel team. We enjoy spending vacations in the same way. We value the small things in life and easily fall into simple travel habits when we are away.  For example, one of our favorite parts of staying in Paris for one summer, was the very simple breakfast-picnics we had in the next door park every morning. We have so many unforgettable memories together. Travelling is truly what has made us so close.


Your best travel hacks?

  1. Do some good research, skip the regular Trip Advisor-tips and search for “city + blog” (not biased here at all hehe) for some travel blogger input, and don’t forget Instagram as a great source for travel inspiration!
  2. If possible, stay in cities for a longer period. The difference staying 4 weeks in a city instead of one is HUGE. That's how you really get to know locals and the city, and have enough time to create your own habits. A less touristy experience of a city. If you don't have so many vacation days, try asking your manager if you can work remotely. I'm a true supporter of the work and travel-concept!
  3. If you're staying in a city for a longer period and need to find somewhere to stay; try searching for apartment in less known, preferably local, sites and forums (i.e. not Airbnb). That way you could find flats/rooms for better prices. For instance, when Sheida and I were looking for a flat in Cannes to rent for two months, we used AngloInfo France (the Riviera forum). The result: We found this amazing flat with two rooms and its own patio, in the middle of Cannes, for a very good price! We kept going back to this apartment year after year!
Cannes 2012: We did our life admin, side projects and travel research in the patio...
...and drank a lot of coffee and hanged out with the cat.
Photo from our first day in Cannes that summer, the international advertising festival Cannes Lions was in town and tech giants hosted parties and mingles throughout the city.


Your favorite weekend destination?


Barcelona, New York and my latest favorite Lisbon.
Photo from a previous work trip to New York, this is me and my former colleague John with the inventor of World Wide Web, Sir Tim Bernes-Lee at the Webby Awards Afterparty. 

Lisbon

Photos from my weekend trip to Lisbon last year.


Your favorite party destination?


Cannes for sure (read our Cannes guide here). And we're not the only ones to like the city during summer...
Bob Sinclair spinning records at Gotha Club, Cannes
With DJ Nervo
Paris Hilton had some good Cannes-vibes at Le Palais
Avicii made the roof lift at Baoli Beach
Beach parties with friends (this pic is from St Tropez though, read more here)


Have you ever visited a city that didn’t live up to your expectations?


Paris is a very nice city that I really have tried to fall in love with, but it just doesn’t work. Sheida and I rented a studio in Le Marais for one summer, and I have been there several times for weekends and work trips, but Paris and I just don’t click. There plenty of fun and wonderful things to do, but it's just not my city of choice.

It’s not you, Paris, it’s me… Or is it?

​​

What are your travel plans for 2017?


So far, I’ve been in Gdansk,  Riga and Helsinki. Rest of the year will be spent with an epic road trip to Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia this summer. A traditional visit to Finland to visit relatives, and hopefully both Athens and Italy. If possible, I’d love to squeeze in Tel Aviv, it seems like cool city!
Photos from our spa trip to Riga in February 2017

That's all for now, follow me (Yasmin) on Twitter/Instagram @yasmintilles to keep up with my latest updates!

Next up, we will get to know Lil' sis a little better. Stay tuned!

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Cassandra De Pecol is only 27 years old, but will most likely become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on Earth. Her inspiring adventure started in July 2015 and is named Expedition 196, also the name of her website where you can find more information about her mission to be the first documented female to visit all 196 nations. Cassie is an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and has spoken to more than 12,500 students and dignitaries across 33 countries so far. 

We are Nodes got the honour to interview our fellow travel enthusiast Cassie De Pecol about her ambassador role, her traveling experiences and her plans for the future.

See more of Cassie's wonderful photos on her Instagram.


What has been your favorite country so far?


There’s not one country I don’t like. Turkey and Peru have always been two of my favorites because I lived in both, but there is nothing like your home country, because your home country is likely the one you’ve spent the most time in and know the most, and for me that’s the USA. They say home is where the heart is, and the more I travel, the more that’s becoming more real to me. Home is where family is, it’s where my safety net is, it’s where everything that I’m familiar with is, and my country is rich in nature, which is important to me.
They say home is where the heart is, and the more I travel, the more that’s becoming more real to me.
Switzerland is my favorite for mountains, Bhutan for peace, Vanuatu for kindness, Tunisia for history, Peru for rainforests, Turkey for culture, New Zealand for landscapes, Mexico for food, Jordan is probably the gateway to my favorite region in the world, the Middle East.


Your worst travel experience so far?


Probably being stuck in Somalia because Chase Ultimate Rewards cancelled my flight without telling me.

How has traveling changed you?


The goal has been to be as open minded as possible about people and places all around the world. I think there's this huge divide among people based on anything from religion to ethnicity to gender, but in reality, we are all the same; we all have the same basic needs and we all just want to be happy. Once we realize this universal similarity, we'll be able to be more open and understanding of one another.

What does your role as Ambassador for Peace entail?


There are several elements to this Expedition. Spreading peace through tourism and economics is one of them, promoting sustainability is another, and advocating women’s rights and achievement is another. Then there’s the YouTube vlogs, which showcase the beauty of many of these nations that I visit. The educational documentary that I’m filming to be used in part with a tool-kit and book written with the students I’ve spoken to all over the world. I also promote my sponsors as well.
People often say that there’s no way I can preach sustainability when I fly so much, and they’re right.
I’m not saying that I’m a sustainable traveler, but I am working towards being one with each tree that I plant with the students on this Expedition (45 so far in 12 countries), collecting water samples to test for the presence of micro-plastics to send to Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, staying in and promoting sustainable/regenerative hotels, and most importantly, educating university students who are studying tourism, on the importance of responsible travel and incorporating or keeping in mind the elements of sustainable/regenerative hospitality and tourism. Many students I’ve spoken to have no idea what sustainability even means, so it’s my job to educate them on this and encourage them to support responsible tourism best practices when pursuing internships and throughout their careers.

Peace through Tourism can really be best understood by educating the students on how we can quantify peace through a series of criteria set fourth by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Once we understand this criteria, we can then work towards creating a more peaceful and united world.

In regards to the tourism aspect of it, this is where I engage the Ministry and Mayors, where they also attend these keynote sessions and I present to them the ‘IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler’ set fourth by the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism of which I’m endorsed. Together, we discuss how tourism can be a mediator between peace and conflict, and a way to further friendship among Nations as well as providing humanitarian assistance. For instance, a sustainable hotel partnering with Pack for a Purpose, where guests can bring educational supplies to then distribute to local schools in need in the area where they’re vacationing.

Since starting my Expedition, I’ve spoken to over 12,500 students and dignitaries across 33 countries, and continue to be approached by the youth (both young women and young men) in regards to how they can pursue their dreams after listening to my talk.
As a young woman myself, I like to think that I can set the standard for young women worldwide to pursue a quest or dream that is out of the norm or that everyone tells them they shouldn’t do.

It’s my job to leave a legacy behind that positively influences future generations of innovators, entrepreneurs and trend setters, especially when it comes to women

Have you started thinking on upcoming projects after finishing Expedition 196?


A major part of me wants to just devote myself towards humanitarian aid and putting all that I have into addressing #13 and #16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which is Climate Action and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, incorporating sustainable development. This is why I’m developing a Universal Student Internship Program to address these needs. On the agenda in addition to this program is an educational documentary that I’ve been filming in conjunction with a book series to be written in part with the university students who I’ve spoken to already. Money is of course a factor to ensure that I’m able to enhance our world through these humanitarian goals. And the initial plan is to continue to work with brands in their advertising campaign as well as have a show (a girl has got to dream, right!?).

Anthony Bourdain has been an idol of mine since high school, and it’s always been a dream to follow in his footsteps with his TV career, but instead of focusing on food and travel, something else and travel. I’m also lining up speaking engagements, TEDx talks, and the like which will take me both stateside and international over the course of hopefully the long term. Also, my first full Ironman race!


Have you encountered any challenges as a female solo traveler?


Generally speaking, I’ve experienced so much hospitality from people but I don’t think that has anything to do with being a woman. I have, however had several terrible experiences where I experienced discrimination because I am a woman. When negative experiences happen to me, I don’t automatically think that it happened because I’m a woman. It’s really when I share these stories with others that they automatically assume that it happened because of my gender. Either way, the positive outweigh the negative on this Expedition, and overall I’ve had wonderful experiences.

Want to learn more about Expedition196? Make sure to follow Cassie's adventure through her social media platforms: 
Instagram:  @expedition_196
Facebook:  Facebook.com/Expedition196
Youtube:  Youtube.com/Expedition196
Twitter: @cassiedepecol
Snapchat: @cassiedepecol

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Almost a year has flown by, and as we are soon entering the last month of 2016 we thought it would be a good idea to sum up 2016 with a list of our travel highlights. Enjoy!




Favourite activity:
Champagnetasting at Moët & Chandon, Champagne.
Why?
Because in less than an hour with the direct train from Paris, you will arrive in Épernay, the capital of Champagne. It's the ultimate day trip and the perfect activity for champagne enthusiasts! The Möet & Chandon/Dom Pérignon champagne caves are over 28 km long, 30 metres deep and is likely to store over 1000.000 bottles. Pretty impressive!
img_4869img_4881img_1849img_1820Read More about our Champagne tasting at the Moët & Chandon Champagne Cellars 

Favourite restaurant experience:
KONG, Paris.
Why? 
We love everything that has a great view and a great vibe – and Kong has both! The service was excellent, the food left us satisfied and as the evening progresses, the music gets louder and the lights go darker, making Kong the perfect restaurant to wine and dine at before a night out in the city of lights.img_4794img_1670Want more Paris-tips? Read '6 Amazing Places you Must Visit in Paris'

Best Beach Hangout of 2016:
Banana Beach in surfer's paradise Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Why?
Santa Teresa is the place to be if you are into amazing sunsets, surfing and chill hangouts. Cool down under the palm trees while sipping on tropical drinks and watch surfers as they hit the waves. We can't wait to go back and embrace the pura vida lifestyle again!
img_4347img_1528Planning to go to Costa Rica this winter? Make sure to read our popular Costa Rica guide.

Best Beach Club:
Puro Beach, Palma.
Why?
With its excellent location on a secluded peninsula, 180°-view of the coast and a fantastic pool area, Puro Beach is without a doubt one of the best beach clubs we've been at. Just look at the pictures and you'll understand why...
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Read our Swedish Palma Guide that we wrote for Travellink here, or in English here.

Favorite Hotel:
Van Der Valk, Schiphol, Amsterdam.
Why?
Because of the newly built “I Am Superior” rooms, were we were the first guests to get to sleep in the super comfy new Hypnos beds (which were voted bed of the year in 2012). Of course the friendly staff was a bonus!
img_4925IMG_1956Read about our stay at Van Der Valk Schiphol here.

Best Aperitivo:
Cinc, in the artistic area Brera, Milan.
Why?
Because it was the first time after a long winter in Sweden that we were able to sit outside in the sun and enjoy an Aperol Spritz. In that moment the Italian phrase "questa è vita" (meaning: this is life) made perfect sense. Sun and friends is really all you need! 
img_2126img_2136


Best Airport Restaurant:
Pontus in the Air, Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
Why?
After years and years of really poor selections of restaurants with good and price worthy food at airports (not only in Sweden, but in general), the opening of Pontus Frithiof's restaurant Pontus in the Air probably was one of the best things that could happen. Finally a nice place to enjoy a good breakfast, lunch or dinner before a flight.
img_2224img_2207img_2193Read about our lunch with Pontus Frithiof at Pontus in the Air here.

Best Budget Restaurant:
As Zebras Do Combro, Lisbon.
Why?
We nearly walked past this "Hole in the wall"-restaurant, but changed our minds just as we passed it and went back. And boy, are we glad we did, because the dinner at As Zebras Do Combro was a true highlight during our stay in Lisbon! Delicious food and wonderful serviceminded staff - if you're ever in Lisbon, make sure to stop by this restaurant!
img_3871img_3858Read our Lisbon Restaurant Guide here.




2016 has been a great year so far, and we still have one more trip planned to Hamburg (#ChristmasInHamburg) in collaboration with TB Nordic, Hamburg Tourism and VisitHamburg in the beginning of December, so stay tuned!

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Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, Burlesque

I (Sheida) was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Melt Bar until a friend of mine made dinner reservations there one Friday night a couple of weeks ago. Dinner accompanied with burlesque and jazz performances, in the middle of Stockholm certainly sounded like a refreshing idea instead of the typical dinner out with friends.

Golden Twenties


The 1920’s restaurant and bar inspired by the prohibition New York, is suitably located at the infamous Malmskillnadsgatan 45 in Stockholm – and it really lives up to its expectations! As soon as I entered the restaurant, it felt like being thrown back to the happy 20’s again, the golden age of burlesque.

Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueMelt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueMelt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, Burlesque

After hanging in my coat and being seated, we started off our evening by ordering Melt Bar’s famous 'Punch in Crystal'. It is perfect for sharing and therefore a a great option for a larger company. The drink is presented in a lovely diamond cut punch bowl and served in porcelain teacups. We chose to start with a drink called ‘Obsession’ while waiting for our appetizers.

Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueMelt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueObssession - a mixture of passion fruit, lemon, rum and bubbles (price: 149 pp).

Inspired by the prohibition era in NYC


Since the theme of Melt Bar is the prohibition era in New York, where alcohol was forbidden (but didn’t stop a great party - as stated on Melt Bar's website) many of the drinks have a fun touch that will make your dinner experience something out of the ordinary. What about drinking beer in paper bags? Or champagne in teacups? Or having a shot of absinthe? All while enjoying live entertainment (jugglers, dancers, jazz musicians and of course burlesque) throughout the dinner. You don’t necessarily come to Melt Bar for the food – you come here for the good vibe. To experience something different. And we weren’t disappointed.

Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueAppetizer: Cripsy Mozzarella – fresh cut mozzarella breaded and fried and served with dip. 140 sek.Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueMain Course: BBQ smoked beef brisket sandwhich – smoked for 20 hours, sliced and server warm with cheese, bbq sauce, pickles, chips, mac & cheese. 195 sek.Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, BurlesqueDessert: Complimentary Chocholate Truffles. Price: 25 sek. img_3993

Pop-up Entertainment


After dinner, some complimentary chocolate truffles and yet another Crystal punch bowl (this time we tried ‘Bootlegger’ consisting of cucumber, apple, lemon, elderflower, mint and gin), we headed downstairs were the show continued. Every Friday and Saturday evening, Melt Bar has some of Sweden’s best burlesque dancers, jazz singers, magicians and dancers performing until 1 a.m. It surely will be a night to remember and We are Nodes definitely recommends you to go! After all, a little party never killed nobody.

Melt Bar, Stockholm, We are Nodes, Burlesque

Adress: Malmskillnadsgatan 45, Hötorget
Website: www.meltbar.se
Tel: 08-644 67 60
E-mail: delicious@meltbar.se






Want to know more about what to do and see in Stockholm? We have gathered all our previous blog posts about our beloved hometown. Read our Stockholm guide »

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In recent years, we have developed a family tradition of taking our little brother on a fishing weekend somewhere in the Stockholm Archipelago. It started a couple of years ago, as a birthday present to our little brother who is a true fishing enthusiast, and we quickly agreed to keep the tradition alive. A mini getaway is the perfect way to soft-start the autumn – and in just 30 minutes from Stockholm by car, you arrive to a completely different world, full of tranquillity.

Location: The Sea Cottage, Värmdö


ELLE stockholm archipelago we are nodes
The Stockholm Archipelago consists of over 30,000 islands and Värmdö (or Värmdön) is a municipality in Stockholm’s inner archipelago which is entirely made of islands. Some of the well known and popular islands that belong to Värmdö is Sandhamn, Grinda and Möja, but this time our choice fell on a charming red cottage in Myttinge.

Judging by the pictures (and the Elle magazine cover), it appeared to be the perfect weekend escape; offering both fishing, sauna and barbecue opportunities. So with a car fully equipped with food, fishing rods and board games, we hit the roads, eager to get away from a hectic Stockholm.

elle interior stockholm archiepelago nodesPicture perfect.

An interesting arrival


Although we had received detailed directions and been told that the cottage was quite secluded, we probably weren’t prepared for how secluded or difficult it would be to find the cottage in pitch darkness, with no road signs or street lights. After driving the wrong way one or two times, we finally found the "big red barn" where we had to park our car and walk the last bit (through a forest!). While we navigated our way through the forest, using our mobile flashlights as our only source of light, it was impossible not to let the mind wander to various horror films.

IMG_0799IMG_0803The cottage in daylight.

After a five minute walk, we arrived at the cottage and immediately began making the usual Friday taco. After dinner, we played cards, drank tea and talked for a couple of hours until it was time to hit the bed.

we are nodes stockholm archipelago myttingeIMG_0723IMG_0745 (1)IMG_0748

'The early morning has gold in its mouth'


The next morning, we woke up with the sun. We opened up the doors that overlooked the ocean to soak in the view and breathe in the fresh island air. With the ocean as our backdrop, we made a big weekend breakfast with lit candles and some relaxing acoustic background music. Unquestionably the best way to start the day!

IMG_0769IMG_0763

The rest of Saturday was spent outside in the fresh air where we went fishing, barbecued and enjoyed the sun. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a big pike (this time), but apparently Zlatan who also was fishing somewhere in the archipelago had better luck.

Our evening plans? Sauna bathing and watching horror films.

IMG_0850Yasmin, the BBQ master.

And on Sunday, after another long breakfast and a bit of fishing, we packed our bags and said goodbye to the archipelago for this time. It really is amazing what a little bit of vitamin sea and fresh air can do for the soul. Until next time!

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Book a cottage in the Stockholm Archipelago
There are many websites where you can rent houses/cottages for a week or a few days. We booked our cottage here (but fritiden.se is another website with more options) and paid 2400 SEK for two nights. A week costs 8000 sek.

The cottage was equipped with:
- D
ouble bed
- Extra bed
- 2 hotplates
- Refrigerator
- Microwave
- Shower
- Sauna
- Rowboat
- TV

IMG_0807

What is your favorite island in the Stockholm archipelago or do you have any recommendations on where we should go next time? Leave a comment!




Want to know more about what to do and see in Stockholm? We have gathered all our previous blog posts about our beloved hometown. Read our Stockholm guide »

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