So, my last few weeks have been spent in heavy planning getting ready for some fantastic trips coming up. And it made me realize maybe some people could use some tips on how to plan these great adventures! So for any who don’t know, let me give you a run down on how I plan my trips. It might not be the best method, but it is the one I employ, and it might help others so here we go!
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
So I have to write this post. Seemed appropriate to time it around International Women’s Day, and National Women’s Month (in the US). Besides, it is my duty as a woman to reassure others that there is a possibility to travel the world. Even as a woman. Even alone.
Maybe in this modern world that seems a bit archaic; however, I’ve still had comments on this, so to me it still seems relevant to talk about.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Rannulph Fiennes
(I might have to include another packing post for this one, because I did do this Nordic trip with only a backpack to survive the cold, but that’s a story for another time).
Last post in the Nordic Adventure series! I decided to not post a boring “we flew back home” post so here’s the final one about our amazing day in Oslo.
My friend and I both had several things we wanted to see. So early in the morning we got up and set out in the snow and cold to go see the sights!
We went to the central station to grab a bus heading over towards the Viking Ship Museum. Now, during the summer I think there’s a ferry, but the winter it’s the bus or walking…and it would be a long walk…in the cold. So the bus it was.
As far as public transport, Oslo had a very nice one and it was easy to keep track of where we were going and get off at the right stop. No worries on confusion there!
We stopped at the Viking Ship Museum right as it opened. We went inside and got to survey the ships, which was amazing. They’re quite impressive to see in person!
I thought the museum was a bit small overall. Other than the ships and a few artifacts, there’s not really a lot there. I’d been hoping for more about Viking history and such, but this isn’t really the museum for that I guess. So just be warned, it’s a place that won’t take you more than an hour. Unless you’re just a really dedicated photographer who needs to take lots of different shots of the ships.
Next we headed over to the Fram Museum, a collection of exhibits about the polar ice ships. We stopped for some coffee at a convenience store and then headed on our way. There was still so much to see!
The Fram Museum is one of my favorite museums in the world. It was interesting, well-laid out, interactive, and informative. You were able to board one of the boats, and go through a polar simulator, see what pulling a sled would feel like, and so much more. My friend and I had a great time there and learned a lot too.
It’s a really well done museum, and I highly recommend it if you’re in Oslo.
After that we boarded the bus again and headed towards downtown to see the National Gallery. This was our final goal for the day.
We stopped for lunch in a pizza place. It had pretty good food and we enjoyed having a warm meal before heading towards the museum.
Our luck was that the museum was free on the first Thursday of the month, which that happened to be. So we got to go see everything without paying a cent (or a crown I suppose). So keep that in mind anyone in town on the first Thursday!
We enjoyed the artwork before stopping by for a picture of The Scream, which the gallery is most famous for having.
Afterwards my friend wanted to seek out a metal shop she’d heard about online. I still don’t understand exactly what she wanted to see there, but something. I waited for her outside, and then we headed to our Airbnb for a break from the cold. I think that day we walked almost ten miles all in all. So we needed it.
Our flight was early the next morning, so what both of us really needed was food and caffeine and then a good night’s rest.
We walked to a popular neighborhood our host had pointed out. Apparently there was a coffee shop there that was supposed to be world famous. It’s called Tim Wendelboe. People apparently came from the United States just to try it. So we grabbed a cup.
If my friend had been more into coffee I probably would have insisted on a tasting, but she just wanted her own drink, so we settled for that. As I’m not a connoisseur of coffee I cannot really speak to if it was worth a trip to Oslo by itself or not, but it did taste very good and seemed very rich and flavorful. If you’re a coffee guru feel free to check the link out!
After getting our drinks we headed off in search of a restaurant.
We ran into a pub that looked like it had quite a few people in it.
I had a chicken stew type dish. It was decent, but I had problems with it because the chicken was still on the bone…in the stew…so it was hard to see where the bones were. So, not my favorite meal, but still filling and hearty.
We filled up and then headed back for some rest. It was tough saying goodbye to these beautiful countries, but we had a good time, and I’d just have to hope maybe someday I could come back and see some more!
Nordic Adventure Other Posts:
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
― Lewis Carroll
So I raved about the trains in the last post, but I think it could be said again. Scandinavian trains are my favorite.
They’re not too pricey, and on top of that you get free wifi, chargers at your seat, and of course fantastic snowy views.
However, I’m jumping ahead of myself.
For any who haven’t been following, this is part of my Nordic adventure, heading up to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Oslo was our last stop on the road. However, to get there we needed to take a long train ride all the way there. Not that it was a great burden to us.
We checked out of our hostel in Stockholm and headed to the train station where we grabbed coffee and treats to finish off the last of our Swedish crowns. And then we boarded the train and were on our way.
It was very crowded, but thankfully my seat partner got off at like the second or third stop, so most of the ride I had to myself and could look out the window while working on my computer. The countryside was beautiful. You could see small black dots out on the surface of a frozen lake, little ice fishers waiting for their catch. I just would catch myself sighing, and thinking the train ride could be longer, and I wouldn’t mind.
In fact it was, delays apparently were caused by trains crossing, though I don’t really understand how that works, but nonetheless we arrived in Oslo in the late evening.
My friend and I headed out into the cold, both enjoying the snow as we have none where we are living in France now, but both come from places that get a little frozen precipitation during the winter months.
We walked through the downtown before heading to our Airbnb.
I had never done Airbnb before. Maybe that’s strange for a traveler, but it’s true. I had never seen the need, choosing to usually find hostels instead. However, Oslo had very few hostels, so my friend and I realized it might be just as cheap to book something else instead. And that’s how we found the place we were staying.
It was a very nice apartment, very close to the downtown area. The hosts were very friendly and offered us advice about what to do. They were even helpful when I asked if I could wash my clothes while I was there, since it would save me a trip to the laundromat when I got back.
I highly recommend this option if you’re in Oslo with another person, because it’s worth it splitting. Or another Airbnb. It’s nice to have another option if there aren’t hostels to house you, and it beats paying for a fancy hotel. Such is the modern world I guess!
After getting some advice about what to see from our host, my friend and I headed out to find food. We walked down to the downtown area, enjoying the snow and lights and city. We were again hungry enough (having skipped lunch) we decided to settle for anything. Which is how we ended up eating pasta at Prima Fila. It was pretty good food overall, and we even splurged and I had dessert and my friend a starter. Good to treat yourself sometimes I guess.
After that we took a little walk around the area before heading back to get some good rest. We were looking forward to a full day of exploring when morning came!
“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”-Henry David Thoreau
Well, Stockholm is probably one of my new favorite cities. It’s an absolutely incredible place to visit, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s going to be spending a large amount of time in Europe. Really clean, safe, nice. While a rougher and more “adventurous” place can be fun, there is something comforting sometimes in being in a place that can allow you to relax and take it easy for a bit.
I started my morning with breakfast at the hostel, looking out the window at the water. I’d slept soundly on the boat that night, lulled to sleep by the rocking of the water (for any who didn’t read the previous post we were staying at the AF Chapman, a hostel on board a boat!), but a cup of coffee wasn’t a bad way to start the morning. Breakfast wasn’t included in the price, but I find sometimes splurging and getting something to eat first thing in the morning makes you ready to go for the day ahead. And a little coffee, cereal, toast, etc. never hurts.
After that I went and fetched my friend and we headed over to the docks on the other side to take the ferry over to another island. It was the easiest way to get where we wanted to be going. Overall the ferries were pretty easy to use, in spite of being on the off season. They came regularly, so we were able to hop on and head over to the Vasa Museum.
This museum is absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it if you’re in Stockholm. It holds a beautiful 17th century ship that sank in the harbor when it was launched. It sat there for years until finally someone went looking for it and managed to haul the remains out. Because of the conditions that it had been placed in, the ship was actually in remarkably good shape.
The museum was really interesting, and of course the ship was just incredible to see. It’s a really great place to go.
After that we headed over to the Skansen. It’s essentially a big open air museum. I think during the summer it’s a little more lively, but during winter it’s kind of quiet. Again, my experience might be very different from what you’d encounter during a more normal season.
However, even in winter it’s fun because you get to see parts of what Swedish landscapes look like. The farms, churches, and windmills that have made up the countryside throughout history. And there’s also a sort of zoo with animals from the area. So we got to see cool lynx, and wolves, and reindeer oh my!
After walking over most of the place we headed to the restaurant in the site to get food. We were hungry, and had another stop after the Skansen, so filling up on food would be good.
More meatballs and princess cake (because why not) and then we were off again towards the ABBA museum.
Now… I don’t care for ABBA at all.
Somehow, on my adventures I always manage to get roped into something with someone who’s a big fan. My last big train trip with a friend I was dragged along for the Sound of Music tour (not that it wasn’t good…but still…). I feel like one day I’ll have my justice and have someone who isn’t a Harry Potter fan with me on a set tour, or something, but for now I just tag along.
Because seeing a smile on the face of your traveling companion can definitely be worth it. I loved seeing how excited she got doing karaoke and seeing all the costumes and looking through the various parts of the museum. So I had fun with her.
It’s just one of the cons of traveling with another person. Sure, there are benefits too, but you have to realize you might be forced to go do things you wouldn’t do on your own. I’ll try to post something on solo travel sometimes, because I’ve actually become a really big fan of it, partly because of this!
It’s also a pretty nice museum, even if you don’t like the subject matter. They’ve added interactive things like karaoke and it’s very aesthetically pleasing to look at (even if it’s a bit pricey). If you’re an ABBA fan check it out for sure.
We ran through that faster than we’d expected, so with a little time to relax, we decided to charge phones at the hostel before heading out again. My friend pointed out that the modern art museum was open until 8, which is late for most things. And it was right next to our hostel, so it made for easy walking.
After a ferry ride back, we settled into our little boat room and charged phones and rested. Once we and our devices had enough energy, we headed out towards the museum.
We were really excited when we found out it was free. Now, I’m not a big modern art fan myself, I tend to prefer seeing really beautiful well-painted pieces than the modern stuff. However, I admit there can be fun in seeing what artists can come up with, and that modern art museums almost always have something that can surprise or confuse me or even sometimes make me stop and think. Everyone has their own opinions of course. I’d never force anyone to conform to mine.
Regardless they had a nice collection, and for free it wasn’t a bad deal. I thought the exhibit on architecture was probably the most interesting, but they had videos, and paintings, and sculptures of all different types as well.
After that I suggested stopping by the hostel for a dinner recommendation.
I went in with a smile on my face and asked the woman at the desk if she had a place nearby she thought was good for dinner.
She frowned and said “oh well the closest one is probably here.” And pointed at the map.
Now, I noticed right near her finger was a TGI Fridays logo. I figured she had to be referring to something near that, so I asked for clarification.
“It’s a Fridays,” she said with a nod. “Good food. It’s close.”
I had to struggle not to laugh. I nodded and thanked her and walked out the door to tell my friend, “well that was a bust.”
Now some of you might like Fridays. And again, I discussed a few blogs ago how sometimes food choices are just a matter of convenience and price and wanting something filling. But if I have other options I’m not eating at a TGI Fridays… because while I respect cheap prices, I still want a decent meal, and I’d rather go somewhere local even if it’s an Asian, or Italian, or Mexican place instead of serving more traditional cuisine.
We found a burger place right next to the Fridays actually. And settled in there. It was good food and not too pricey. So we enjoyed our burgers and then headed back for a good night’s rest.
Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
So, this is the third part of the Nordic Adventure series. We started our journey in Copenhagen, and from there me and my friend moved on to see some of Sweden, well, heading towards the capital of Stockholm.
We woke up early and headed to the train station. Unfortunately, we’d made the classic foreign currency mistake of taking out far too much… so I tell you, be careful with making that error. Because my morning in the train station was a lot of trying to spend all my money before we had to leave. I bought coffee and pastries and snacks for the road.
Then we were off to get on our train.
So I did a Eurail trip a while back, and you can read about that as well, but needless to say I’ve done a fair amount of train travel. So I’ve quickly learned what countries trains I like and which ones I don’t. Scandinavian trains are top of the list. Absolutely amazing. Free wifi on board. Chargers at every seat. Good leg room.
Only problem was that my friend and I had booked separately, so we were not sitting together. However, most of the ride I had the seat to myself, and it was nice to just look out the window, enjoy the internet, and relax. I did some good writing and managed to enjoy myself enjoying the snowy scenery. Seriously, if you’re a writer, try a train, I find it’s one of my favorite places to relax and type out some thoughts.
We arrived in the early afternoon, giving us enough time to make our way by metro over to our hostel. When we’d been looking for one, this particular hostel had stood out to us, and here’s why.
It was on a boat.
Yes, like an actual boat. The AF Chapman. Apparently the boat was basically donated to the tourist association after it was done being used, and now they run it as a youth hostel where you can book rooms. Sounds like during tourist season it’s busier, but since it was winter we had no problem getting a room on board.
Honestly, we were both so excited as we walked up to it. I snapped so many photographs and just basked in the knowledge that for two nights I’d be sleeping in the depths of a boat.
We checked in, going down to our little six person room and settling in. After that we decided to head over to old town to look around a little while it was still light.
We walked around the shops and the restaurants, enjoying the sights. We watched as the sun set over the water. All the islands make it an amazing city to see, and I highly encourage just exploring.
After walking around a bit more we found a restaurant for food. We ate at Magnus Ladulus which was more of a traditional Swedish place with a cool setting in a sort of cellar. It was very fun. I had the meatballs which were delicious.
Afterwards we set out on a mission to find Princess Cake, which my friend had recommended. Sure enough we found a café that was still open and serving it. And voila we got to try this amazing confection. One of my new favorites for sure! So delicious. It has a layer of marzipan and then whipped cream and sponge cake and jam. It’s incredible.
Then we walked back to our hostel for the night. We needed a good night of sleep to get ready for more exploring the next day.
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” ― Jack Kerouac
So the thing about Copenhagen was that neither my friend nor I had a sense of needing to do lots of things. For me, the little mermaid statue was a must, and otherwise I was happy to do whatever. Tivoli was sadly closed, which is the one problem with going anywhere in the off season.
We began our morning by grabbing coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts nearby. Both of us were just too excited by the prospect of American coffee that wasn’t Starbucks that we just had to hit it up. Honestly, I think we’re both at a point where we sort of want to head home, but at least we’re still finding time and energy to travel.
After filling up on sugar and fat we headed off towards more of the city to explore.
A lot of Copenhagen was just wandering for us. Walking around and admiring the beautiful architecture, and the fun stores, and the beautiful sunshine, which was amazing. So yes, it was the perfect.
On our way down towards the little mermaid statue we stopped by Nyhavn, a 17th century canal that is absolutely beautiful looking with colorful houses and pretty boats.
As we continued onwards, we also admired the beautiful opera house, and the marble church that was especially lovely with the snow and the sunshine.
Finally we reached the little mermaid. As it was off season, it was easy to reach her, which was very nice. We took some pictures in front of her before heading off again.
With more pictures, we stopped by the marble church to peek inside, passing the royal palace on the way just in time of the changing of the guard. We didn’t stick around too long, eager to see more, but it was still a very exciting coincidence.
After more exploring we were both getting hungry so we stopped at a place called Café Katz for lunch. I’d been told the rye bread was traditional in Copenhagen, so I had a rye crusted halibut with slices of the bread on the side. It was very good and it was fun to try something local! They also had fresh squeezed lemonade, and even after summers full of serving lemonade I still never get tired of it.
We snagged the bill and headed off into the cold once more. The sun was still out so we wandered over to Christiania, an old anarchist community that has interesting art decorations and old buildings. I have no pictures sadly, as I was a little bit out of my element there, but it was definitely an interesting place to check out.
After that we stopped by the Church of Our Savior, which has a beautiful golden spire on top. It was closed for a concert so we couldn’t go in, but otherwise it was fun to see.
My friend and I took a coffee break at Baresso Coffee, more of a local chain. It had fun chocolate drinks, which were interesting. It was convenient and a good place to warm up and get some drinks.
After that it was back for more walking. I think our phones said we’d walked about 12 miles at the end of the day. So quite the day of trekking around the city.
We stopped in some tourist shops for postcards and a few fun trinkets. My roommate had a goal to find a tacky magnet in every place we visited, which I thought was pretty funny.
Of course, with the name of my blog being a Hans Christian Anderson quote, I had to get a picture of myself next to his statue.
Regardless, we headed back to our hostel to charge our phones for a bit afterwards and then we were off for dinner.
Now, I had some criticism in my last blog on getting Asian food while in Scandinavia. I’ll say these things. Any choice of food kind of comes to down to a number of factors. You are not going to find a place that meets all of your requirements. So some of those factors in deciding are: price, quality, healthiness, portion size, ease of access, location, authenticity, available room. And those are just a few. My point is that when eating out you have to pick. Do you want to wander for thirty minutes scanning trip advisor for a place that is open and then pay a really expensive price to eat food that maybe isn’t even that healthy?
Honestly, my roommate and I were hungry, and worn out from trekking all over the city. So yes, we grabbed Thai food. It was filling, cheap, easy (really close to our hostel), and had vegetables and meats and a well-balanced assortment. Think what you will about my food choices, but I’ll just say that sometimes traveling requires you to make quick choices. And those were mine.
After that it was back to the hostel to sleep and get ready to head off to Sweden the next day.