OSLO, YOUR MUST VISIT DESTINATION IN 2018

I live in Oslo, Norway now and I would like to share about Oslo since it is the newest Scandinavian capital and also the top ten cities you must visit in 2018, according to Lonely Planet. So if you are planning to visit you can check this out and get ready to travel to visit Elsa, Anna and Olav!


Where is Oslo/Norway?
If you have no clue about Norway, I can give some hints, the Marvel character Odin, Thor and Loki are based from Norse Goddess (people in the Viking era believed in Ragnarok) and many people here named Thor, so don’t be surprised. The famous Frozen movie was inspired by Fjords in Bergen, Olav the snowman is very common name in Norway. If you are fan of Viking TV series or Last Kingdom, it might be another hint for you although the timeline in the story is not accurate.

The guy who sing the ‘Fox’ song is from Norway. If you are born in 80s you might know Aha and M2M. If you are into chess, you might know Magnus Carlsen, he is World Chess Champion. King of Convenience, KYGO, Matoma, Alan Walker just to name few of famous Norwegians. At least you know one or two clues from what I mentioned.

Here are some random facts about Norway, it is located on the North part of Europe almost near Arctic circle. Long story short, Norway is a Kingdom and the current King is King Harald V. Oslo, the capital means ‘the mouth of the Lo river’. Norway Constitution day is 17 May.
Norwegian love to eat brown cheese, the cheese is sweet, you can say it tastes like peanut butter caramel cheese. They have various food in tube, like caviar, mackerel, flavored cheese, the tube is like toothpaste tube. They eat a lot of elk and reindeer meet. Despite the alcohol here is very expensive, Norwegian loves to drink and eat burgers. Plenty of burger restaurants around the city. You can say sausage/hot dog is kind of their national dish, you will see a lot of children eat sausage for their meal. They have traditional food called fårikål only in autumn, it is lamb and cabbage stew. In Christmas time they eat pinnekjøt (lamb ribs cooked with wood) and ribbe (crispy pork) for Christmas. They have steak with brown sauce, it is similar like the sauce that you eat with The Swedish meatballs from IKEA but just tastier.

When to visit Oslo/Norway?
After living here for almost two years. I like both winter and summer in Oslo. In summer, probably it is the best time to visit Scandinavian country in general because the long day time, it is crazy the sun almost never sets between June-August, the temperature is pleasant and you don’t need to pack a lot of thick cloths. Also it is the best time to visit Fjords, the famous Fjord opens only from 1 May to 30 September. My favorite month is August where Oslo has a lot of activities to offers, almost every day there is festivals and concert. If you want to experience Norwegian Constitution day you can come to visit on 17 May, you will see many Norwegian wearing the traditional clothes called ‘Bunnad’ and eat traditional Norwegian breakfast with Champagne.
In winter time, it is the opposite where sun sets around 3 pm, if you go further North you can see the Northern Light and experience the Christmas. The Christmas market starts from mid-November till end of December, but do not come on the Christmas eve or Christmas day, it is public holidays so everything is close.

Where should I visit in Norway?
Oslo for sure since most of the flights will arrives here and you can use local flights to connect you to other cities in Norway or even in Europe. Norwegians Air is one of the best airlines in Europe and they have direct flight to Bangkok and many other destinations in Europe with very cheap price.
Lofoten Islands, this island is best in summer to watch the midnight sun or in winter to hunt for beautiful Northern Lights. Bergen and fjords are must visit in summer.

What kind of cloths should I bring?
In summer the temperature here is around 23- 25 degrees Celsius during the day and it get colder in the evening (around 8-12 degrees Celcius), so some jacket and leggings are good. Comfortable walking shoes, as you might walk a lot, transportation here is expensive and it is always the best to explore the city by walking.
In winter you might need a proper winter jacket, down jacket is the best option, I do not suggest to get uniqlo ultra-light down, it is not for cold arctic weather. I also recommend Timberland shoes in winter, it is anti-slipped and waterproof, it is the best for the cold and wet weather.

What to see in Oslo?
I share some of my favorite places in the city, places that I always visit and stroll around.

Royal Palace and Park

oslo3oslo 3Whenever you are visiting other country as a tourist or traveler, it is always nice to learn a little bit about the country. The Norwegian Royal Palace is a good start to get to know a little bit history about Norway. Norwegians love their King and the Royal family is not so exposed or celebrity like the British Royals although they are still connected, the grandmother to the King Harald V, Queen Maud, was the great grand aunt to Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Palace is the official residence of Norwegian monarch since 1905. The current King Harald V lives here with his wife Queen Sonja. The Palace was built in 19th century with Neoclassical style. There are 173 rooms inside the palace. In front of the Palace there is the famous statue of Karl Johan, the King of Norway during the union with Sweden in 1818. The main street Karl Johan Gate is named after him. The Royal Palace is open for visitors only in summer, everyone who visiting the castle must book the guided tour and there is changing guard ceremony starts at 13.00.

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The Palace Park is my number one favorite park in Oslo. The park is beautiful and always full with different flowers every season, it is very well maintained. The 220 acres’ park surrounded the Royal Palace. It was built in 1840s and up to now there are approximately one thousand trees in the park, the park has been redeveloped ever since with more path for pedestrians. The Queen’s garden is located at the back of the Palace and only opens between May – October.

Opera House

oslo 2oslo 3It is my favorite hangout place in summer. I love to sit at the foyer and looking up to the blue sky through the huge glass window. It is like watching the sky on huge TV screen. Oslo Opera House opened in 2008 and the building itself is very unique, it is looked like glacier rising from the edge of the Oslofjørd. There is some guided tour if you are interested, the tour will bring you to the backstage where they produce and construct all the things for the show from the costumes to the props. Norwegian Opera House is one of the most modern opera house in Europe.

The Harbour area

cropped-dscf0030oslo 10In summer you will see everyone hanging out around the harbor to enjoy the endless sun, picnic, sun bathing and to do water activities like sailing, paddle board, kayaking, fishing or even swimming in the cold Oslofjørd water. It is very lively in summer and you feel the happy vibes of the city after the long cold harsh winter. From here you can see the City Hall (the square building with two towers) which hold the Nobel Peace ceremony every year. There are seafood restaurants along the harbour in front of the fortress which only opens in summer.

dscf0554The end of the harbour area there is Astrup Fearnley museum, it is private museum owned by the Astrup Fearnley family which exhibit their private collection. This area is called Tjuholmen Brygge, it is the most expensive residential area in Oslo facing the Oslofjørd and surrounded by 5 star restaurants and mall, some of the best restaurants in the city are in this area also the most luxurious hotel ‘The Thief’ designed by famous Italian architect, Renzo Piano.

Damstredet and Telthusbakken

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While most of the area in front of harbour are constructed with new architecture, this small tiny street still has some well-preserved ginger bread looked like old wooden houses from 17th centuries. This is my favorite stroll when I am going to Grunnerløkka area. I never get bored to walk this street and I always find a new thing to snap through my lens.

Akershus Fortress

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The Akershus Fortress is a quite huge complex and looks like labyrinth, I got lost here sometimes. The changing guard ceremony starts from the fortress the guards will march along the Karl Johan Street towards the Palace where the ceremony ends. In the past, the fortress was used as prison. There is medieval festival every May where you can experience living in Medieval era with the fortress and castle as the setting.

Vigeland Park

oslo 10oslo 4Vigeland Park is number one most visited attraction in Oslo. The park is a very huge complex showcasing more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. The sculpture is made from bronze, granite and wrought iron. Most of his sculptures are located at Vigeland Park and some you can find it around the Palace Park and at the Fairy Tale Bridge in Grunnerløkka. He was the designer of Nobel Peace Prize medal. One of his famous works is the sculpture of angry boy also the Monolith.

Grunnerlokka

oslo 6Oslo1Oslo 2To feel the real city vibes of Oslo, how the locals actually spend their time, Grunnerløkka or Løkka as what the local called it are the area you should visit. It is kind of urban hipster area full with restaurants, bar, fresh handmade bakery and small cute little shop that sells Scandinavian product or independent brand. You will find the best coffee place in Oslo (probably in the world) here also super delicious food at Mathallen. There is flea market every Sundays.

Which museums should I visit?
The Scream painting by Edvard Munch is now at National Gallery (it is free on Thursday). The Fram museum is voted as the best museum in Oslo, it exhibits the journey of Roald Amundsen the first human being who reached the South Pole, he sailed from Norway. The ship that he used is exhibit at the museum. There are many other interesting museums like Kontiki Museum, Folk Museum and Viking Ship Museum.

Where to stay?
Airbnb1702AIRBNBS07Airbnb is the best option as the hotel could be very expensive. You can stay at my Airbnb if you want. Here link to my Airbnb if you decide to visit and you can use my code for first time user!

What is the must visit restaurant to try in Oslo?
I would say Lorry – it is one of the oldest restaurants in Oslo (from 1870s) and serves one of the best traditional Norwegian food and  Illegal Burger, it is a must for burger lovers, the best burger! Also Check out Mathallen (foodhall)/Vulkan too for various of delicious food. If you like seafood check Fiskeriet, Rorbua or Lofoten Fish restaurant.

How many days I need to spend in Oslo?
Normally you need a day to explore the city center and one day to visit museums. In winter you might need longer days if you want to do some winter activities like ski or sledging.

Is Norway expensive?
It is expensive, but there are many ways to save money for example get food from groceries store, although it is more expensive than other countries but it help. Average meal at the restaurant here from 8 Euro to 35 Euro. Shopping is very expensive here, so it is not the best place to shop.

Why Norway?
If you like Frozen, Viking (TV Series) or the Last Kingdom series.
If you like Scandinavian design.
If you like Viking and Norse Mythology (Odin and Thor, they are not just Marvel comics character, they were the Norse Goddesses)
If you want to see Midnight sun and witness the beautiful Northern Light
If you love nature
If you love salmon
If you are coffee lover (some of the best coffee place are here)
If you are curious how it feels to live in the ‘happiest’ country in the world
There are many other reasons this is just few of it!

 

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Lisbon

I am back to cold Norway, from Spain-Lisbon trip. I would like to share some stuff that I found interesting during my travel in Lisbon. Lisbon is very beautiful city, one of the most charming cities I’ve ever visited, it is hard not to fall in love with the colourful buildings, small little cute shops, the pebble roads and the tram. There are so many things to explore and you could spend a week here easily. If you are going to Lisbon probably you have done so many Googling about the cities. One tip that I can share is, when you buy the metro tickets don’t throw it, it can be top-up again and can be use for tram as well, especially if you want to go to Belem or LX Factory (pay on-board is twice more expensive than using the metro ticket). Here are some of my favourites pictures that I want to share, enjoy!

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Where to stay:
Most of the time I will  book with Airbnb. Feel free to get some discount off for first time user by using this code.

What to do:
Check out the sunsets from “mirador” or view points
– there are plenty view points in Lisbon that you can check out with beautiful sunset and admire all the cute colourful buildings.

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Where to shop:
Avida Portugesa. This probably one of my favorite place to shop. There are so many things to take with you home and beautiful packaging!

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LX Factory, a very urban complex to visit. You can’t missed visiting this place. There are plenty of good restaurants and shops to visit.

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Belem. Take a half day trip to visit Belem. It is a beautiful neighbourhood about 20 minutes by tram from Lisbon central. One tip: If you want to save some money, purchase the tram tickets ahead (it’s same like metro tickets), it is half of the on-board price.

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I would go back to Lisbon for sure!

TRIP TO LOFØTEN

Lofoten1lofoten 7Lofoten 38Loføten is the magical island in the North West of Norway. There is nothing can describe how beautiful the place is. The sun never sets it goes 24 hours, I felt like we are living in Mars. If you love outdoor activities and nature, this is the place to be! 

lofoten 4Lofoten 34lofoten 12lofoten 9.jpgLofoten 11I don’t know much about Loføten, I heard it from my airbnb guests, this is must visit place in Norway (what ashamed we lived here but we don’t really travel much around Norway). So Kim and I took a chance for a short trip to the famous fishing island. We stayed 5 days in a cute fisherman cabin at Ballstad. I get to know the owner who ran the place, he grew up there and has so much stories to tell. 

Lofoten 3Lofoten 6So Loføten is very famous with stockfish (SKREI) and cod which is one of the biggest fishing industry in the world. The fishing season starts in January to April and in summer the fisherman cabins are used to accommodate the tourists. Going Loføten without a plan and pre-booked accommodation is almost impossible, unless you are doing camping trips which is much easier because there are so many camping places and campers parking. Most of the accommodation is fully booked until end of the year where most tourists are coming to hunt the Northern Light. I have listed down my favourite places in Loføten is Reine, Å, Henningsvær, and Uttaklei beach with spectacular Midnight sun view.

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Because I love Viking so much so trip to Lofotr, the Viking Museum is one of my favourite. It is a very huge complex with a lot of activities for adults and children, from rowing the miniature Viking Ship, archery, riding pony, blacksmith workshop, farm and exploring the replica house of the Viking Chieftain.  

lofoten 5lofoten 15Lofoten 32Lofoten 16Lofoten 25.jpgLofoten 36There are many ways to get to Loføten from Oslo. Flight from Oslo to Narvik and continue by driving (5-6 hours). The best option is flying to Bodø and continue by ferry to Moskenes. It is better to rent the car in Bodø before going to the island as there are not many car rentals around. I hope you enjoy all photos! 

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South Spain (part two)

Our short gateway to South Spain was about 10 days, we visited Kim’s aunt who lives in Benalmadena Pueblo, 15 mins from Malaga airport. It was a small cozy town with a lot of expats and retirement, it was slow and chill place. Kim’s aunt has very beautiful apartment with the view of sea on the top of the hill.

We spent few days in Seville, and drop by at Cordoba, Zahara and Ronda on our way. We did day trip to Granada and Malaga. Among all the places I’ve been I love Seville the most, after spending many days in Seville and Benalmadena, I started to feel most of the city were very similar.

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Zahara, our stop on the way back, it was a very small beautiful village up the hills by the lake, it was not touristic at all. We stroll through the town and walked up to the castle. I love the trees and cactus that grows everywhere, the tropical plants like rubber plants and olives tree. It was so beautiful and grow wildly here.

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Benalmadena Pueblo, is the small intimate town with a very beautiful old town.

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The famous Ronda, to be honest, it was super touristic for such a small town, it was beautiful but the amount of the tourist made it lost a little bit of the charm.

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Cordoba, the mosque-cathedral, one of the most iconic architecture building, a must visit! I did not take so many pictures because I was so amazed by the architecture!

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Until next post 🙂

Seville

We just recently came back from one of the best holidays ever, we visited South Spain. I have travelled many places in Europe but I have never be so mesmerised and astonished by the culture and the city. South Spain especially Seville left a lot of impressions in my heart. The city was super clean and beautiful with a lot of amazing architecture influenced by Arab/Islam culture. It was so lively, music, parks and flamenco easily spotted around the corner, the food was delicious, sangria is one of the best alcohol drinks ever, the road was smooth, and the people was friendly and warm.

There are many things to see and do in the city, to me the must see is Alcazar de Seville, it is a mini version of Alhambra, still it is beautiful and the garden was filled with lots of tropical plants and nice flowers. The entry cost is 9.90 Euro and it took around 30 minutes on the queue. I spent around 3 hrs inside. There are many oranges tree everywhere, it cant be eaten straight, the oranges are good for cooking or making marmalade.

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Other must visit place is Plaza de Espana. I love the open air area, gardens and place that people can sit, relax and do many activities.

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On this trip I skipped the churches/ cathedral, but we had an unplanned visit to the bullfighting ring. Short story, we met traveler from Germany on the queue to Alcazar de Seville, we became friends with them and they invited us to tag along with them to the bullfighting ring. It was interesting but again I am against any cruelty act towards animal include bull. They are not aggressive animals, they are being provoked by the movement of the cloths that used by the Torre De.

I will post more about South Spain! Till next time, Adios!

AIRBNB Oslo

Recently, we just renovated our apartment and now we have two beautiful rooms to rent via airbnb. Our place is very centrally located and walking distance to most of the tourist attractions. It is a very vibrant and quite neighbourhood next to the Royal Castle.

Take a peek at our rooms!

Room 1

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And Room 2

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If you think its nice, please share this to your friends, lovers, exlovers, family, neighbour and everyone you know and tell them to add it to their wish list on their airbnb accounts! So we might see you in Oslo!