Travel

Land of the Midnight Sun

February 16, 2018



PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense | Reija Janneson Bolwell

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Finland – check out Visit Finland | Visit Helsinki and Visit Tampere for more information.

StayHotel F6 – Helsinki | Järvisydän Hotel and Spa Resort – Rantasalmi | Villa Hilja – Tampere

Eat – Breakfast at Hotel F6 | Lunch at Löyly | Dinner at The Cock |  Coffee stop Mattolaituri | Sunset cocktails at Ateljee Rooftop bar | Definitely try karjalanpirakka and mustikkapiirakka whenever you can!

Do – Sauna at Löyly | Catch some live music at Allas Sea Pool | Sky Sauna | Pick up some fresh berries and homemade cloud berry jam at Hakaniemi Market Square | Helsinki Cathedral | Supping with Suppaa Tampere | Boat adventure to Kaarnetsaari Island | Aerial yoga at Järvisydän | Make your own herbal concoctions at Frantsila Organic Herb Farm | Soak up the sunshine and happy vibes at Esplanade park | Pick wildflowers and wild berries (almost everywhere)

 

Outfit Details

DressesWeisy High Low | Kannan | Naoki Mint Lace |  Sayulita | Mini Skirt

SwimwearGypset one piece | Hush Hush one piece 

AccessoriesRiviera cap | Sunglasses | Chisel Boots | Morgan Belt

 

My trip to Finland last year was a coming home experience for me. It had been 36 years since I had visited my home and reconnected with my roots. My earliest memories are of Finland, the smell of the forest, the taste of the wild berries, the quiet, stillness of the land, the centred, strong people, who stand tall like the birch. I remember the midsummer bonfire burning so bright and swimming in the lakes after a sauna. I remember running around my grandmother’s house waiting for it to get dark, yelling out I would never sleep until the sun went down. In this magical land of the midnight sun, I eventually tired from all my time spent exploring nature. I would help my grandfather with the garden, collecting apples, potatoes and we’d pick wild berries from the forest land that was their backyard. We would bake all kinds of deliciousness. My favourite was and always will be Karjalanpirakka. A must try when you visit Finland. And a little tip, we had some of the best ever for breakfast at Hotel F6 – still not as good as yours mum, but close ;) haha!

It amazed me how at home I felt when I arrived. The immigration officer asked me about the origins of my name and then welcomed me home. This feeling of home brought me to tears many times on this trip. All that familiarity came flooding back to me. I started dreaming in Finnish again. I think if I spent just a few more months there I would be speaking fluently once again. Reconnecting with my family was above all the best part; my 50 or so cousins, my aunties, uncles and all of their families. My beautiful sister, Reija, flew in from her home in Santa Cruz, so we could journey through Finland together. We began in Helsinki, staying at the well appointed and beautifully designed Hotel F6. The location was beyond perfect, close to everything we wanted to explore. Helsinki is one of the most beautiful seaside cities, filled with culture, history and inspirational design and architecture. We walked for miles along cobblestone streets, exploring the waterfront, the markets, the parks, and cafe terrace lined streets. We soaked up the sun at Esplanade park, watched the longest sunset over Allas Sea Pool at 10pm whilst listening to live music, and enjoyed the amazing rooftop views of Helsinki at Ateljee bar.

From Helsinki we drove north to Jarvisydan with a couple of stops to pick wildflowers and visit our precious family along the way. This area of Finland is very close to where our family roots began. Our father is from Karelia and mother from Hankasalmi. It was so special to spend time here and experience the beautiful Jarvisydan lake spa. Järvisydän, which translates to Lake Heart, is built into the natural terrain around Lake Saimaa. This is Finland’s largest lake and home to the cutest Saimaa Ringed Seal, an endangered species found only in this lake. You can take a boat trip through Linnansaari national park and hope to catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals. We spent our days exploring the forest for wild blueberries, supping on Lake Saimaa, relaxing in the lake spa with some aerial yoga and a multitude of sauna experiences. With so many types of Finnish Saunas you are totally spoilt for choice. My favourite is the kivi sauna, also known as stone sauna. Refresh in the indoor pool or head into the infinity pool overlooking the lake! And if you’re game, there’s nothing better than running straight into the refreshing lake after a hot sauna.

Next we journeyed to beautiful Tampere to attend a family wedding and connect with all our relatives. Here we found a traditional mokki (cottage) deep in the forest by the most beautiful, glistening lake. Cottage life in Finland is very popular in summer and how most people spend their holidays. It’s a wonderful time to connect with family and nature no matter what you are doing. And still there is so much to do! I built my first wood sauna (with the guidance of my family) and enjoyed a traditional sauna experience. It was the perfect evening of burning hot sauna, naked lake swims, delicious food, wonderful company and a sunset over the lake in the quiet magic of the forest. And when you feel like emerging from this divine forest cocoon, Tampere is full of adventures. Check out the Frantsila Organic herb farm and make your own herbal concoctions, and then get yourself out onto the lakes for some water sports – supping, wake boarding, river floating, kayaking or try flying on a flyboard! Head into the national park for some amazing hiking and views. There were so many highlights of this journey though Finland. The very best part for me was attending a family wedding and witnessing so much love. We had such a fun night, dancing and laughing until all hours, our bellies full of delicious food, our hearts full with connections and memories that will last a lifetime.

I journeyed deep into the heart of Finland and myself on this trip. I’ve always believed that our landscape helps to shape our collective psyche. As I sat amongst the trees, I felt the stillness and calm of the forest. I felt the sacred gift of silence, of listening, of observing. I felt the strength of the trees, collectively centred and standing tall. It was in this moment I realised I was home. This is who I am. I have always longed for quiet, for stillness, this space to observe and listen. I feel so very grateful for the magical gifts the forest and lake have shared with me. I retrieved a piece of myself that was long forgotten. I found myself in the landscape, in the culture, and in my family. I was reminded of who I truly am and I’ve come back to my home in Australia understanding myself so much more.

I’m so grateful to Visit Helsinki , Visit Tampere and Visit Finland for assisting me in organising this trip. They have valuable resources to help you plan your own adventures to this incredible part of our world. And as always please feel free to ask me anything. I’m always here to help :)

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

Magical City of Lights

January 25, 2018

Photography/VideographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

Model/Styling/Editing – Helen Janneson Bense | Bobby Bense

Location – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – For all your Dubai travel needs head to Visit Dubai

StayFour Seasons Jumeirah Beach

EatToko | Thiptara | Mercury Lounge

DoHatta Day trip | Burj Al Arab Infinity Pool | Cove Beach | Madinat Jumeirah | Seaplane | Desert Safari

 

Outfit Details

A Night To Remember DressGirl Next Door Short Skirt | Tie front dress | Maple lace cover | Ember Gown

Bag – Basket White Tassel

Swimwear – Ostuni Halterneck | Salvador Summer 

Hats – Je T’aime | Scalloped Ivory Love

 

From the mountains to the city, from the desert to the sea, Dubai really has it all and has won our hearts once again. This was our second trip to this dreamy city, where everything feels like a fairytale. The glistening streets at night, the iconic Burj Khalifa standing so tall and bright, the buildings shimmering in gold, it makes you stop and admire just how innovative and creative Dubai truly is. The blend of traditional architecture with modern luxuries is outstanding. We experienced everything from the Hajar mountains and the historical town of Hatta, to the pure opulence of the Burj Al Arab. We kayaked the Hatta Dam, went stand up paddle boarding at Cove Beach, took a seaplane over the Palm Jumeirah, explored the souks of Madinat Jumeirah, and enjoyed some of the best food we’ve ever had. For a spectacular candlelit meal with the most incredible views of the dancing fountains head to Thiptara at The Palace. The viewing deck at The Palace is also a great vantage point to watch the fountain show and see Burj Khalifa transform into one of the most creative light shows I’ve ever seen. For a fun rooftop sunset sesh we loved Level 43 and the Mercury Lounge at the Four Seasons. One of my personal highlights, however so small, was discovering that the Four Seasons has a gluten free, vegan menu. I did the most joyful happy dance and maybe even squealed a little when I saw this ;) I love how progressive and multicultural Dubai is, and this is reflected in all the amazing dining experiences on offer. We were completely spoilt for choice everywhere we went! For a lovely casual night out with something for everyone try Toko. Feast on Chinese and Japanese street style food in their famous outdoor garden. It was culinary heaven, and set the scene for such a fun night out connecting with friends.

The finale to this beyond amazing trip was heading into the Arabian desert for a safari. We learnt about the Arabian Oryx, the national animal of UAE,  and were lucky enough to see a herd of these majestic creatures in the conservation reserve. What a beautiful sight it was, the white Oryx set against the contrast of the vibrant desert sand. After an exhilarating ride in the cutest vintage jeep we arrived at our desert camp. We watched the sunset in the most divine bedouin setup, with arabic coffee, shisha and traditional drumming and dance. We shared a beautiful meal and heart felt stories around the fire, creating memories with our lovely group of desert travellers. These are the precious moments that will be with me forever.

If you want any more information on Dubai please comment or direct message me. I’m always happy to help and offer my assistance to plan your perfect adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

This trip was sponsored by Visit Dubai and we are beyond grateful for this opportunity to create and share all this beauty and magic with you all.

W + Co Malaysia Travel Diary

November 15, 2017



PhotographyBobby Bense + Helen Janneson Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationThe Majestic Kuala Lumpur | The Majestic Malacca – Malaysia

 

Outfit Details 

JewelryWanderlust and Co

RingsElea Crescent Gold | Lunar Gold | Luna Pave Silver | Constellation Gold + Silver | Knot Stack Gold + Silver | Star + Chain Silver | Nala Gold + Jet Chain

NecklacesMilky Way Silver Lariat | Nova Gold | Supernova Gold | Nova Gold Lariat  | Crescent Diamonte Silver Layered | Eclipse Silver Choker

CuffsLola Silver | Luna Gold Set | Knot Gold Handchain | Crescent Silver Handchain | Moonchild Silver Bangle

EarringsCosmic Dust Silver | Nova Gold

WCO Holiday EssentialsGirl Gang One Piece | Cactus Pool Float | Girl Gang Straw | Girl Gang Sippy Cup

 

Clothing – 100 Degree (similar) | Close to my Heart Dress | Salvador Summer Playsuit | Salvador Summer High Low Skirt | Triton Beaded Short | Stingray Cover | Sign of Peace Dress | Jade wears Mochilla Chiller Dress

SwimwearSalvador Summer Ball Bikini | Bianca Skyflower One Piece | Girl Gang One Piece | Hanging around one piece + scarf 

HatsSelene Boater | Athena Hat | Luna | Rhea

Sunglasses

 

Our family was recently blessed with the most heart filled trip to Malaysia. Meeting the gorgeous creatives behind one of my favourite jewellery brands, Wanderlust + Co, was the absolute highlight of this entire trip. These women are beyond inspiring, creating, sharing and sprinkling beautiful messages of love and inspiration along the way, as they produce their stunning jewellery. The latest Falling Star collection was definitely one of my favourites, filled with light catching, celestial inspired jewels that make you want to reach for the stars and beyond.

Our journey began at the iconic Majestic hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I instantly fell in love with it’s colonial heritage and luxurious touches. From here we discovered the pulse of the city…so much culture, charm and oh my goodness the FOOD! There’s a little bit of everything in this multicultural country – Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and if you’re vegan like me, then you’ll be happy to know there are so many options. From here you can easily walk to little India. We were lucky enough to witness the Deepavali festivities, also known as the Festival of Lights, a celebration of light triumphing over darkness. What a sensory experience of sparkling lights, vivid colours, joyful celebrations and heavenly aromas that filled the air! We toured the streets admiring the exquisite architecture, the national mosque, the glistening Petronas twin towers, finishing up a perfect day with a rooftop sunset sesh at Troika with our beautiful Wanderlust + Co family. The highlight of our stay at the Majestic KL was definitely the high tea at the Orchid Conservatory. What a delight it was to enjoy a beautiful selection of herbal teas surrounded by a hanging garden of orchids.

Our next stop was the UNESCO World Heritage port town of Malacca, a town filled with diverse architecture steeped in Malacca’s rich history. We stayed at the Majestic Malacca, a restored 1920’s settlement mansion, situated right across from the beautiful Malacca River. This river, long ago used for trade, is now filled with cruises running all day and night. It’s a really great way to see the town, though I’d still suggest walking too so you can admire the amazing street art. Come sunset time head to the Chan Boon Cheng Bridge and you’ll hear the call to prayer combined with the most beautiful view of pastel sunset skies. This was the kind of humbling experience that makes you simply stop, breathe it all in, and give thanks for being alive.

Everything about our stay at The Majestic Malacca was so unique and wonderful. We loved the signature cocktails made with their very own Tanqueray Malacca gin. Bob the bartender was our favourite and even made the kids the yummiest dairy free smoothies every day. The authentic Kristang dining experience (a blend of Malay-portugese) was just superb. They were ever so accommodating with our specific dietary requirements. Without compromising on flavour they brought the most colourful, delicious and aromatic food to the table. It was culinary heaven to say the least. The highlight for me was the signature spa experience. This was hands down the best I’ve ever had….seriously! Inspired by Traditional Chinese medicine the massage was based upon a person’s heating and cooling energies.  Discovering that my body needed more heat, they used the nutmeg rice rolling technique, and I was completely amazed at how fantastic this was. I’m not sure anywhere else in the world does this so I’ll need to go back for sure! ;)

The natural beauty, the rich, diverse culture, the vivid colours of Malyasia will long live on in our hearts. So will our wonderful connections with our Wanderlust and Co family. I am forever grateful for this experience and to have shared this with my family.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Magical Maldives

October 12, 2017


PhotographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

Drone Photography – Courtesy of Grand Park Kodhipparu

Model/stylingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationGrand Park Kodhipparu | Kanuhura – Maldives

 

Outfit Details 

Swimwear – Gypset Lace up | Alena Luxe | Hush Hush | Ostuni Halterneck | Hartley Top + Bottoms

Jolie skirt

Strawberry fields forever skirt | Free Spirit crop

Hat

You can read my recent Interview on Indulge Maldives

Ok so we have officially found heaven on earth! The Maldives is honestly beyond breathtaking, it’s actually so unbelievably beautiful the views brought me to tears many times. From our seaplane arrival and parasailing over the atolls, to heart melting dolphin encounters and sunset cruises to castaway islands…these moments will live on in us forever.

We spent 10 days in this turquoise haven with our family, split between two amazing resorts – Grand Park Kodhipparu and Kanuhura. We somehow brought the sunshine with us and lucked out with an almost all clear, sunny time for our entire trip, which we didn’t expect considering we traveled in the rainy season. Honestly when it did rain we didn’t even care! It was still so warm, so beautiful, and our level of relaxation and family fun reached all new heights on this trip. For anyone on the fence about traveling during the rainy months, my tip is absolutely do it! It’s less crowded, less expensive, and you’ll have the best time guaranteed.

We spent our days soaking up the sunshine playing paddle ball on the beach, snorkelling, supping, jet skiing and island hopping in these crystal clear waters. We pretty much ticked off a whole lot of bucket list items, including simply being there!

Though many people think of the Maldives as the honeymoon destination, I felt like it was actually one of the best places we’ve ever traveled with our children. There was just so much to do and even when we were just relaxing on the beach I was so inspired watching their imaginative play. It’s so refreshing to see what children will come up with when immersed in a natural environment away from all the usual technological distractions. They were hundred percent happy exploring, and it felt so safe for them with no cars and so much beach to run and express their little hearts out.

One of our highlights was filming a wedding with Grand Park Kodhipparu. Bobby and I felt like we were getting married all over again. We set sail to a nearby sandbank, dressed in flowing chiffon, with an island style wedding awaiting us. We danced, we kissed, we strolled down the aisle and into the sunset together in one of the most romantic moments of our entire trip. Another stand out moment was our arrival to Kanuhura. We took a seaplane and we had no idea how incredible it was going to be. The turquoise view over the atolls were unforgettable. After our sea plane we hopped on a short boat ride and found a pod of dolphins that put on a show for us. We hadn’t even arrived yet and we were completely overcome with emotion from the natural beauty surrounding us.

I hope you all enjoy our photos and honestly if you have the opportunity to travel here, we all highly recommend it!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

Images and text © copyright GypsyLovinLight

Drone imagery © copyright Grand Park Kodhipparu

Nusa Lembongan

September 1, 2017

PhotographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Nusa Lembongan | Villa SayangThe Lembongan Traveller

 

Outfit Details

Camilla Sign of Peace Dress | Camilla The Blue Market Overlay Dress | Hello Molly Sunset Maxi dress

Poupette St. Barth Jolie Mini Skirt | Camilla Hush Hush One Piece

Kivari Mystic Blouse | One Teaspoon Bonitas | Herschel Supply Co. palm backpack

Del Maar Dominica Bikini | L Space Shadow Palm Bikini | Del Maar Palmas Bikini

Sara Designs Panama Hat |  AOS Hat | Rayban Sunglasses | Anna Beck Jewelry

 

I’ve finally found my favourite part of Bali…a short boat ride from Sanur, Nusa Lembongan is for the gypset at heart, looking for that tranquil, relaxed island vibe with all the luxuries one could wish for.

We stayed in the beautiful Tamarind bay at the amazing beachfront Villa Sayang. The Lembongan Traveller, who are Lembongan experts, sorted out all our travel details for the most enjoyable, relaxing and seamless holiday. Everything went beautifully and we were able to experience and see so much during our time, whilst still moving at that lovely slow island pace we love so much.

We were blessed with some absolutely stunning sunset views, pristine surf, supping and snorkelling at our doorstep, and the best food and staff one could hope for. Villa Sayang is the perfect villa for families, groups and couples, as you can book either the entire residence or just a couple of rooms of this multi-leveled villa estate. With picturesque infinity pools overlooking the ocean, a villa boat, snorkelling, surfboards and sups at your beck and call, and happy, smiling faces always ready to assist you with anything, it’s hard to leave this place.

During our island stay we were lucky enough to experience some very cool boat trips. The highlight was taking a catamaran to Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida and snorkeling with some seriously giant, vibrant fish in the most unbelievably clear turquoise waters. We sat on the beach, sipping coconuts, feeling a million miles away from everything, not a worry in the world. As a bit of a foodie and always on the health conscious pulse I was so happy with my options here. We particularly loved Hai bar and grill, situated right on the beach and perfect for sunset views with some really good cocktails. For some fresh, local balinese style food check out Nyoman’s warung, and if you’re chasing unicorn pastel sunset skies like us then definitely head to Sandy bay beach club.

So if you’re looking for the kind of holiday where there are no cars, no crowds, and you can completely unwind, spend your days on the water, and enjoy delicious food with beautiful energy around you, head to Nusa Lembongan and make sure you organise your trip through The Lembongan traveller as they really know their stuff.

Enjoy your travels and let me know where your next adventure is!

Love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Embella Travel Diary

June 30, 2017

PhotographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Darwin, North Territory, Australia

 

Outfit Details

All jewelry, clothing and accessories available from EMBELLA | Follow them on Instagram + Facebook

SHOP Rings | Earthgirl Necklaces, Bracelets, Anklets, Toe rings

Dresses – Playa Midi Pearl | Picolo Marine/White | Jipsee Days Flamenco | Free Spirit TopBeach Bandeau | Mirage Skirt | Split Skirt | Sunset Sarong

Bikinis – X Back | Isla Baru Top + Bottoms

 

 

This was our first trip to Darwin, NT and hopefully won’t be our last. What an absolutely beautiful and vibrant place. The candy sunset skies, the turquoise beaches, the abundant wildlife, flowing waterfalls, the sense of adventure and excitement, perfect balmy summer nights and the best hosts anyone could wish for. Big thanks to Sally and Ross from Embella for this experience. We have made memories for life with our gorgeous new friends.

Straight off the plane our first stop was to the beach of course, which was only a 10 minute drive from the airport. Perfect recharge after a flight! We arrived to witness thousands of dragonflies fluttering about casting rainbows with their wings in the light. From here we spent the evening perched upon a cliff overlooking the ocean, inhaling the sunset beauty and cliff jumping into the turquoise waters.

We had some seriously amazing note worthy food experiences during our stay. Peewees on the point is a definite must visit. The service and food are of the highest standard and the views from here are spectacular. For the best breakfast in town head to Sweet Brew & Co and for something decadently indulgent and a little naughty, but oh so good, try the gluten free pancake!

For some shopping and community fun definitely check out Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Beautiful Embella have an awesome stall here too, and there is just so much to eat, experience and see! Stop by Croc, Stock and Barra and hear some fascinating stories about life in the tropics with crocodiles. When you’re in town, definitely check out the very special Embella store. The entire shop has been created with so much love, and there is a beautiful story behind every piece of hand made furniture and jewels. You’ll feel it all the moment you step inside this divine space.

My highlights were definitely sunset dinner sailing with the most jaw dropping candy coloured sky backdrop, and our visit to Litchfield National Park. Beautiful Sally and Ross took us on a hiking adventure to one of their favourite waterfalls. It was so worth every step once we arrived to this secluded lagoon, with waterfall upon waterfall, and wildlife buzzing all around us. I even faced one of my biggest fears as I came face to face with about 10 giant spiders in the most gigantic web I think I’ve ever seen. This place was filled with energy and so alive…butterflies were fluttering all around, ants scurrying, and the goannas were having a lovely sunbathing sesh on the rocks. I was in pure heaven with the loveliest people ever and never wanted to leave this healing space.

I’m so grateful for this experience of a lifetime, and to see more of this beautiful country I call home. The very best part was meeting some of the most genuine, kind hearted people ever, making kindred friendships for life. We love you Sally, Ross and gorgeous little Nalu!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

The-Nest-700pxThe-Nest-700pxThe-Nest-700px

All rights reserved © GypsyLovinLight · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie