Travel Tip

Try traveling through cities, states, and or countries like a local as opposed to a tourist.  Research local hot spots (not the touristy locations) and try to blend in.  You will be surprised to encounter some amazing people and taste some mouthwatering dishes.  #livelikealocal



Budapest, Hungary

Budapest has quickly became my favorite European City ever!

As you know, we travel through cities using our taste buds and always try to live like a local.  Eventually we stumble across all the tourist things but mainly by accident.  Below are some pictures from our recent trip to Budapest, Hungary.  This is a very romantic city with an amazing food scene.  Places we explored/tasted:

  • Buda Castle
  • Chain Bridge
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Matthias Church
  • Hungarian Opera House
  • Hungarian Parliament Building
  • Great Market Hall (we had some delicious homemade meatballs; photographed)
  • City Park
  • Vaci Street
  •  Dohany Street Synagogue
  • Liberty Bridge
  • Hungarian National Museum
  • Citadella (pretty decent afternoon hike but amazing views)
  • Liberty Statue
  • Prayed in a Local Catholic Church
  • Bangkok Thai (Best Thai food we have ever eaten)
  • Mazel Tov (Hidden local restaurant with live music and amazing hummus)
  • HummusBar
  • A few local cafes (had to try Langos and we loved!)
  • Hot Chocolate from the local Fall Stands — Photographed
  • My new favorite hidden gem (local bar/restaurant) “The For Sale Pub” – covered in notes
  • The Neighborhood Market
  • The Ruins Bars (just a quick stop to see where all the locals hangout on a weekend night)
  • The Jewish Quarter

If I had forgotten to add anything, I will be sure to add them to the list as soon as I remember!! Budapest is a must see and we will definitely be making our way back there in the future!!

Yeme Grocery Store (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Yeme is a grocery store within Bratislava, Slovakia that has traveled a large number of kilometers to locate farms in order to prepare their concept, “quality and freshness”. Although we live next to a large farmers market, we often venture to Yeme for their meats, dairy, and their bakery. Each week they feature a specific meat and a recipe.

I highly recommend this grocery store and have attached some photos below therefore you can get a feel for this place!  Although some things may be pricier than others, keep in mind – you pay for what you get!

Bratislava (Slovakia) Food Market

Just wanted to share some pictures of an Outdoor Food Market in Bratislava, Slovakia.  This market is located near our home and is open 6 days a week (closed Sundays).  I love being able to support the local markets and farmers!

There are also some amazing little restaurants located within this large market.  We tried a Vietnamese spot and it was to die for!

Packing // Winter Essentials



Yesterday, without a doubt, has been one of the coldest winter days I’ve experienced. A hell of a standout. Every summer I pack for the winter season before heading abroad. I live in Los Angeles (born and raised – Hate me for it, go ahead), and every year we move to another country for 9 months – currently Sweden. As I pack for our abroad winter season, I am usually sitting on the floor of my closet in 100-degree (Fahrenheit) weather. As you can understand, it is extremely difficult for me to pack for the upcoming “winter” season.   I always leave warm clothing-wear behind because truth be told, it is difficult to pack for cold weather while my body is drenched of sweat (literally, beads of sweat rolling off my body). The struggle is real y’all.

Under the “Travel” category of my website, I wanted to include a “Tip” section – especially for those traveling to some frigid destinations.

  • A Fleece Jacket – The North Face has an amazing selection!
  • Fleeced Lined leggings – to throw on underneath your pants (yes, layering! Something I try to fight the commitment to but end up eventually giving in)
  • A Giant Hooded Puffer Jacket and Winter Jacket – I combined the two under one bullet but the more jackets the better off
  • Couple Hoodies – to throw on underneath anything
  • Touques/Beanies
  • Tech Friendly Gloves – These come in so handy (pun intended)
  • Scarves
  • Thick Facial Creams – this will become your best friend. Anyone that knows me, knows I am obsessed with my thick facial creams during the winter
  • Facial and Body Oils – Keep that skin hydrated
  • Ear Muffs
  • Boots

Carry-On Items

(If arriving during the winter time/or taking a short winter vacation)

  • Bring those gloves (throw them in your bag)
  • Lotion, Chapstick, and Sample oils – get some from Sephora (read my Sephora post for further information) (pack them with your toiletries – in an easy to grab location)
  • Thick Hydrated Socks – You can find these at Nordstrom, Target, or TJ Maxx
  • Beanie
  • Wear your Coat, Scarf, and Boots on the airplane

A “Must Have” Packing List (while living in Sweden)

I have simply moved this post over from my old blog Southerngypsylife…(Not a new post)


Sweden is amazing and has some similarities to the states but I am from California and there are just some things that I can’t live without.  There are many women, wives, and families that live the exact same life as myself and I think we can all agree – moving away, whether it be to a different state or country, is not an easy task.  There are just some things that you can’t take with you everywhere you go, like your family!  Thank the Lord for Skype and FaceTime because many of us would be lost without you.

After living abroad for quite some time, I began creating a list of things I need to purchase before leaving the states and moving across the world.  If you plan to do the same thing for whatever reason, I hope this list comes in handy for you!

The “Must Have List” for myself and possibly others (please don’t judge):

  • PASSPORT! As well as another form of ID just in case you lose one.
  • Family Photos: it is always nice to have a few to frame around your extended home.  You won’t be disappointed to have them.
  • Two of your Fiance or Husbands Hockey Bags: One for his shit and the other for yours.  This doesn’t always have to be the case but every season I manage to stuff my shoes and jackets into his bag in order to prevent myself from having to bring extra luggage (apparently two large bags, a carry on, and a purse is enough according to my man – he is clearly not a woman)
  • Makeup – As you know, I am a makeup junkie.  I love to try out the new brands and products that hit the market as well as film videos and tutorials of my favorite items.  In Sweden, there are two MAC Makeup stores (if you are from or ever lived in the states then you are familiar with this brand).  Both of the stores are located in Stockholm, one in Taby Centrum and the other downtown.  I highly suggest you bring your products from home (in the states) because they are extremely cheaper in the states as opposed to Sweden.  I believe there are only two Sephoras as well and both of them are located in Stockholm as well.  I don’t know where I would be without Ahlens (don’t quote me on the spelling of that store name but when I do run out of some high-end brand name products and need to bite the bullet on the price I come to this store in Stockholm) (located next to the underground train).  There is also another store called Kicks that is similar to Sephora but do not carry all the same makeup brands.  Ladies, buy your go to makeup at home and bring it with you.  I learned it is better to have what you are used to just in case they do not carry it or in case it is pricier.  Don’t be afraid to try some of the Swedish makeup brands as well as The Makeup Store – I have found some GREAT products from here!  If you wear Benefit makeup or Bare Minerals then bring it from home because it is highly priced due to the national taxes in Sweden.  Thanks goodness some of the ladies there gave me the heads up!
  • Just an FYI – The National Tax in Sweden creates higher prices then you may or may not be used to.
  • I am not the biggest fan of H&M Clothing therefore I always bring extra baggie plain everyday TShirts from home or even Target.  I do not like to wear the same clothes or similar styles to everyone else so I try to do my shopping at boutiques back home (Los Angeles) and bring along some favorite pieces.
  • Slippers – Swedes have some great options on slippers and they are common to wear in homes but I always bring a pair from home with me.
  • Bras/Panties:  There is NO Victoria Secrets in Sweden therefore if you love the Brand buy it and bring it with you!
  • Tampons!! If you love your pearl applicators then bring numerous amounts of tampons.  In Sweden, I find tampons do not come with applicators.  (This year I did stumble across one box with cardboard applicators and hell yes I still bought that shit).
  • Hair Color: Because I have a hard time trusting people with my hair and I have an amazing hair stylist in orange county (Kat Park – check her out!) I have a hard time going to a different hairstylist in different countries – I dont know if it is because of the language barrier (which isn’t too bad in Sweden because many Swedes can speak English) or if it is because of the horror stories.  My godmother is a hairstylist for Clairol and has taught me how to color and bleach my own hair therefore I do it myself BUT I always bring my colors, bleach, and developers/toners from home because I can never find the exact same products that I am comfortable with using.  I will try to stuff these in the hockey bag as well ha!
  • Purses / Wallets: I love to change my purses / wallets and have a slight obsession with my collection back home so it is hard for me to narrow it down and bring only a few favorites but I make it happen.
  • Shoes:  I have an obsession with shoes too! I have two of the exact same pairs of every shoe I own – just incase one pair gets jacked up then I have a backup.  I will let you in on what appears to be a family hehehaha – when we lived in Italy I managed to bring and buy a total of 26 pairs of shoes and stuff them into the hockey bags in order to bring every pair back home with us.  My fiance will never let me live that one down and I learned my lesson – you do not need that many pairs of shoes when the floor is cobblestone.  I do bring a couple pairs of boots (flat and wedge; Ankle and over the Knee), a pair of runners to work out and travel in, UGGS (which are not waterproof but keep my feet warm), one pair of sandals for vacation, and a pair of Vans and Chucks.
  • Bathing Suits: Because you never know when you are going to need a couple pairs.  We always find a pool wherever we are living.
  • Perfume: this may not be a must but for me it is because I have way too many perfumes at home and I need to use what I have before I purchase anymore.
  • Jeans:  If you are like me, you have a few pairs of jeans that fit you just right and they are your favorite – BRING THEM! Skinny Jeans, Leggings, Flairs… whatever.  I like a certain style and tend to have a hard time finding a similar pair.
  • Camera:  When living abroad, it is a MUST to have a good camera with a charger – we just bought the new Canon and I am obsessed!
  • Travel ADAPTERS: The more the merrier.  I buy them on Amazon and always bring them with us.  We did go to Apple (In Taby Centrum, Stockholm to purchase phone chargers)
  • Dual Voltage Hair Appliances:  The only thing I am afraid of bringing from home and using an adapter with is my blow dryer – I do not want to have a Snookie in Italy moment (fried hair is not cute).  I did buy a blow dryer in Sweden but other than that my curling iron and straighteners are both dual voltage.
  • Computers, IPads, Iphones, Ipod, Kindles… do I need to explain why
  • Jackets: if you are living in Sweden in the winter time, big jackets and water proof jackets are a MUST. Fleece!
  • Gloves: You can get these here or there but whatever you do, bring them!
  • Spray Tanner:  I have my favorites and some they do not carry in Sweden so I always bring two with me! Im a Tan-A-Holic!
  • Baseball Caps / Toques / Beanies: I bring a couple
  • EarMuffs:  I always bring two – I like to run outside and my ears are very sensitive
  • Drugs:  We always bring our drugs from home.  Whether these are Benadryl (because I tend to have allergic reactions on some meds), Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Sleeping pills (Ambien is my drug of choice – I have a hard time adjusting to the time change)…. Birth Control – I bring my own because it is just easier.
  • Spices: We bring our own.  Just some of our favorites such as chili bean, meat spices… you can find almost everything in Sweden but not in Italy.  We do like SPICY food so we bring our own Chili and Sirachi.
  • Velveeta Cheese: I know it sounds gross but we are addicted so I bring a brick of it and freeze it as soon as we arrive
  • Peanut Butter: We always bring two Large Tubs of Skippy – its our favorite.
  • Comfortable Pajamas:  I bring what I am most comfortable in and I bring lots of skinnies to throw underneath my regular clothes in case it is really cold out – You can tell I am a Cali kid when I want to wear a tank top and leather jacket in below zero weather.  I have a hard time breaking that habit!
  • I would say face creams but I found that Sweden has all the same face creams.
  • Scarves
  • Tequila: I LOVE Tequila but they do not carry Patron so make sure you stock up at Duty Free! (Drinks are extremely over priced in Sweden so the smart thing to do is shop at Duty Free and bring a couple of your favorite bottles tax free – trust me do not pass up on this offer I made that mistake last year and had to be Patron free for 9 months) :((((
  • Think ahead if you are one to follow style trends and make your purchases in the states because it will save you a lot of money.
  • Yelp! This is the best app when traveling we use it all the time to find some major hot spots in different countries.  We are major foodies!
  • Hand Sanitizers: I love to have the purse sized ones thrown in every bag
  • Sunglasses: you may not need them year round but you will want them when you don’t have them or forget to bring them
  • Nail Polish:  You do NOT need to bring this as Swedes have OPI and Essie but I have a few favorites that I always throw in my bag so I am not rushing to find some as soon as I land.
  • Wedding Ring / Jewelry: Obviously you do not want to forget these items but it is best to make sure they are insured before traveling. FYI if you are Michael Kors obsessed like me – buy or bring everything from home because it is about three times the price.
  • Be sure to roll your clothes when packing and stuff things in your shoes – trust this will create more space.  I think I am becoming a pro traveler haha
  • Don’t let the airlines tell you your hockey bag is overweight (first be sure to check the airline policy AS WELL as the Airport Policy – the Airport Policy prevails in Sweden but if you talk to the right people you may get upgraded for the inconveniences)
  • Hard Drive: To download and add movies and shows from back home onto!! (MUST)
  • Apple TV / Netflix:  Buy both because in the end it will be worth it!
  • If you are debating on bringing it, Just bring it!  Most the time you will regret not bringing it later.
  • SideNote – I always bring my most valuables in my carry on – You do not want to have prized possessions in lost luggage

I will continue to add to this list as I am sure many more items will come to mind.  However, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!  We have traveled to 10 different countries in the past two years.  Hope this helps!

Stockholm for Christmas Vlog

So because my husband’s job is not of a normal job, we opt for taking a trip each year for Christmas Vacation during his 3 or 4 days off depending on the season. This year we decided to explore a different part of Stockholm — Sodermalm. We have been to downtown Stockholm too many times to keep count and this time we wanted to see something else. I can easily say Sodermalm, Stockholm is by far our favorite part of Stockholm. Like you already know, we are foodies and finding those hidden gem restaurants was what we were set out to do. On my website: I will be posting additional information and photos in regards to our trip.

Throughout this video you will see and hear much of our inside jokes and humor/sarcasm – please do not take any of this personal! If you do, your better off not watching any of footage 😉

Instagram: @christinahpogge
twitter: @cmheinzel