Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Oslo — Part 2

Oslo Botanical Garden.On our forth day in Oslo we decided to go to a botanical garden of Oslo. This was actually the only place that was a little bit too far to walk to.

On a tram to garden.We bought four round trip tram tickets at a gift shop inside the hotel.

Straw sculptures at the garden.We spent a good portion of the day exploring different parts of the garden. Kids ran around, climbed the hills, ran down the grass and on and on.

Viking ship.Also there was a nice Viking exhibition at one part of the park — a ship-like sculpture with a throne-like chair and a bunch of notes and little guides on how Vikings used to do certain things.

Botanical Garden.We decided to walk back to the hotel with a stop by Oslo Opera House building. I spoke with my dad earlier and he told me that one could walk up to the roof of the Opera House for some really nice views.

Throne.So our total walk back to the hotel was around two and a half miles. Not too bad at all.

Garden.So we did make it to the Opera House. And there actually was a real wide road really going around the building and ending up on the roof. And as expected there were great panoramic views from the top.

Garden.At this point we were getting kind of hungry, but in a typical European fashion majority of the food places were closed in the middle of the day. It took us a while before we found an open place called Celsius Cafe. Alena went for some big bowl of Norwegian soup of some kind and kids and I had regular burgers. It was pretty decent.

From the roof of Opera House.When we got to the hotel we did some swimming at the pool. And then everyone was hungry again by dinner time. We went into a small bar across the street from the hotel and ordered some beers, burger and some French fries.

Opera House.We always ask for hot sauce to go with the fries and this place had Sriracha. The combination turned out to be really great.

Opera House.In fact we went there to repeat the same deal a couple of times more. During our first visit to this place we ran into a lonely Russian-speaking guy who was drinking beer by himself. We offered him to join our table. Turned out that he lives in Norway and does some construction work, but overall the conversation ended up being quite boring.

Opera House.We started our fifth day with a visit to a History Museum that was yet again across the street from our hotel. The hotel had a really great location if you didn’t notice a pattern on your own yet. Anyhow — the tickets from the Viking Ship museum that I wrote about early also included admission to this museum.

Viking Museum.Lots of Viking stuff inside. And a bunch of other exhibits. Definitely was worth a visit, especially for “free”.

City Hall.After that we went to city hall again and actually explored it inside this time. A bunch of different stuff to see.

City Hall.And then we went to Aker Brygge — which I wrote about earlier as well. We looked through a bunch of menus and settled on an Asian restaurant with some really good curry. Everyone enjoyed their lunch.

Lunch at Asia restaurant.After the lunch we went onto the opposite side of the bay to explore Akershus Fortress — a really short walk. The fortress was quite big and we had a lot of ground to cover. We walked upon some pond that kids ended up playing at for a good while.

Pond.While they were playing Chinese tourists started photographing them and pushing them to pose for them.

View of Aker Brygge from Akershus Fortress.I walked over and told them to stop. And they couldn’t care less — like I wasn’t even there. I started getting quite angry and that’s when they finally got a “hint”.

Inside Akershus Fortress.Our kids are very blond and I get that is’s a non-existent thing in China, but come on! On the same note — a lot of Norwegian kids are actually just as blonde. Even in Brooklyn this is kind of rare, in Norway — it is not.

By Resistance Museum at Akershus Fortress.We also visited Resistance Museum on the fortress grounds dedicated to Norwegian resistance of a Third Reich. Arosha knows a bit of history about WW2 so he found the museum quite interesting.

At Akershus Fortress.He is still a bit too little to fully grasp the horrors of that war, but I think he starts to understand it all more and we are trying to do our part of educating him.

Inside Akershus Fortress.When we got back to our hotel we decided to eat dinner at the same restaurant as we did on our first day — Den Glade Gris. This time we decided to try something more authentic. We ordered smoked whale and reindeer sausage.

On our way back to hotel.Eating whale was really mentally hard. Especially whale being pretty much raw. We didn’t enjoy that in the least. Had no problems with the deer though.

Ferry to Bygdoy. Akershus Fortress in the background.On our final full day in Oslo we decided to go back to Bygdoy. There was a large open-sky Norwegian Folk Museum there that we didn’t go to during our first visit. What a good thing the decision to go back was. Probably one of the most interesting things to visit.

Norwegian Folk Museum.First of all it really is quite huge. It has whole wooden villages from different parts of Norway reconstructed. Most of the wooden homes you could actually walk into.

Wooden church at Norwegian Folk Museum.They also had a huge wooden Church that is a thousand years old — pretty much all the rest of such buildings burned down long ago.

Norwegian Folk Museum.At one of the houses they had girls dressed into traditional Norwegian closing backing bread on a stone stove on an open fire. The bread was quite tasty.

Animals to pet at Norwegian Folk Museum.There were different live animals for kids to look at and pet. We also took a carriage ride along the park that our kids talked us into.

Inside one of the houses at Norwegian Folk Museum.Also there were Sami exhibits and actual Sami representative visiting. Sami are the people that live on far north in Norway.

Horse ride.We talked to one of the natives and she told us a little bit about the history of Sami people and even sang us some songs in the native language.

Norwegian Folk Museum.We spent a whole day at that place. Really worth a visit, as I said. And after the museum we took a bus back to city hall via our unused tram tickets that we had left over from our botanical garden visit.

Dinner at Rorbua.We went to Aker Brygge for a dinner again. This time we found a truly Norwegian place via TripAdvisor with very high ratings — Rorbua.

By City Hall.I had shish-kebab-like selection of meat — whale, deer, reindeer, beef and something else. Alena had moose stew. And some great beer to go along.

City Hall.Grilled whale meet tasted a lot like beef actually. But there is not going to be any more whale meat for me. I tried it, but I’m happy to live with my mental block of thinking that eating whale is just wrong — for me.

Streets of Oslo.But overall this was probably my favorite restaurant that we ate at during our stay in Norway.

Streets of Oslo.And that is it. The next day we went to airport via a special bus that runs right from our hotel and off to Iceland we went.

Kids at Botanical Garden.A couple of side notes: Alena bought a ton of Norwegian hats, 1 USD was around 8 NOK, everything was quite expensive — Oslo is rated as one of the most expensive cities in the world — which seems true even after New York.

Streets of Oslo.Kids were amazing — walking 5-6 miles daily turned out to not be a problem for them at all. And all in all this trip turned out to be pretty grate. Six days — plenty of things to do.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Oslo, Norway — Part 1

The Vigeland Park.It’s been a good two months since we came back from our unusual for us European vacation and I have yet to write a word about our first stop. The unusual part is two-fold — it was the first time that our kids visited Europe and it was somewhat off the beaten path. Although the second part is debatable considering how popular Iceland has become in the recent years.

Getting ready to fly.Now from the start — the flight. I remember our previous trip to Europe and how tough getting to Paris was. Both Alena and I were completely wiped out by the time we got there. And our flight this time was similar — plane change in Iceland.

Oslofjord.The difference this time was that instead of booking a redeye we booked a flight departing at 2:30pm. And by our math by the time we arrive to Oslo it would be around midnight by New York time which should be manageable for all of us. None of us are good sleepers while on the plane. Quite the opposite actually.

Radisson Blu Scandinavia.Our kids handled it all superbly. They were tired, but they were still up and about, both in good mood, by the time we got to our hotel — Radisson Blu Scandinavia — in the center of Oslo.

Slottsparken -- Palace Park.A small aside to our actual destination — Norway didn’t really happen as a whole. We decide to settle on Oslo because we weren’t sure how our kids would handle too much hotel changes. Full six nights in Oslo. We were wondering if it was going to be boring or not, but more on that later.

Streets of Oslo.We arrived to our hotel at 6 or 7am. That was the second point of our worry. Usually we have little problems with Hiltons with super-early check-in, but this was Radisson. Oslo has no Hilton properties.

Playing at Palace Park.We did manage to get our Radisson status to Gold level which should give us a room upgrade among other things, but we had no idea what we were going to do if we were made to wait until 2 or even 4pm to actually check-in.

Making jewelry out of grass.At the reception we were told that there are no rooms available. Bummer. Gold status speech didn’t help. Having no options I asked the clerk if it would be OK for our kids to sleep on the sofas in the lobby. She told us to hold and went inside the office behind the counter.

Dinner at Den Glade Gris.Five minutes later she came back and told us that they had to take a room away from somebody else — I’m not really clear on the mechanics of this one — but we were getting a room right away. She told us that this wasn’t really proper and that we really need to book a room for the night ahead, but I really can’t complain. No upgrade, a little bit of grumpiness, but we got our 7am check-in. Thank you!

Waiting casually for parents to finish dinner.We got up to our room and got into our beds for a much needed energy restoration sleep. One problem that we ran into was the fact that even though we could completely darken the windows out a good amount of light was still getting into the room from the curtain edges. And interestingly enough that was the case not only with our day sleep, but all the nights as well. North and the middle of summer will do that. White nights.

Palace Park.We slept for a good number of hours — 5 or 6. We got up well rested and quite hungry. We turned to our trusty TripAdvisor for options and discovered a very highly rated restaurant right on the same block as our hotel — Den Glade Gris. I had a pork knuckle, Alena had Norwegian style salmon and kids had a steak. Everything was good.

Streets of Oslo.Another thing that was really close to the hotel — practically across the street — was a huge park with Royal Palace in the center of it. That’s were we spent the rest of the day. Kids ran around and played, we walked down to a metro station with a large fountain by the National Theater and then back to park and more running. Alena and I just laid on the grass along with many sunbathing Norwegians. The vacation has started.

Vigeland Park.Now before I start with our first full day in Norway a couple of things on the topic of “boring”. Oslo turned out to be amazing. Every single day we had a different plan be it a museum, a park, some special destination or other — we had no time to be bored. There is a ton of stuff to do and see without ever leaving the city.

Vigeland Park. Monolith.On our first day of Oslo exploration we decided to take it easy and picked an easy-to-walk-to destination of The Vigeland Park. The walk was about 2 miles in each direction. We walked through some small parks, a rather big flea market and just regular streets — taking in the sights of an unfamiliar city.

Vigeland Park.The Vineland Park itself is know for a huge abundance of various statutes created by Gustav Vigeland. And when I say huge I really mean it. Probably hundreds of them. The park also had large patches of flowers and grass. It took a while to explore.

Vigeland Park.On the far side of the park there was a large obelisk which was carved out in a way to make it look like it’s built out of human bodies. This one was also surrounded by various statues.

Zodiac installment.And yet another thing that stood out was a zodiac signs structure. Our kids weren’t really familiar with those yet, so we talked about all the signs we were born under — actually four in a row — Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. We also have all four elements in our family — fire, earth, air and water.

Kids at Vigeland Park.That was the big part of our day. We decided to eat dinner right by our hotel again — just across the street from it. This time we picked a Spanish restaurant with a high rating. We ordered a large dish of seafood paella — something that we actually failed with epically during our Spanish trip — no offline TripAdvisor back then.

Dinner at Spanish restaurant.We also ordered a bunch of tapas and a pitcher of Sangria. Our kids weren’t all that impressed with paella, even though they typically like rice, especially Arosha. But they did enjoy some of the tapas.

City Hall in the background.And we concluded our day with a trip to a hotel pool and sauna. That was a conclusion of most of our days while in Oslo. At first Arosha didn’t like the sauna, but after I told him some stories about our previous visits with parents and with Alena and all the good memories he insisted on going every day.

Streets of Oslo. Bygdoy Peninsula.For our third day we had big plans — something we actually planned and researched beforehand — a trip to Bygdoy Peninsula. We started with a walk to Radhuset — city hall — which was only half a mile away from our hotel.

On the ferry to Bygdoy Peninsula.Radhuset it located right next to a pier from which ferries depart to Bygdoy. Also it was close to a neighborhood called Aker Brugge — lots of restaurants of all kinds — a foodie paradise.

Viking Ship Museum.The reason why Bygdoy Peninsula is a great place to visit is the fact that it has 5 or 6 museums in close proximity to each other. For our first stop we decided to pick Viking Ship museum and disembarked our ferry accordingly.

Viking Ship. This one is approximately 1,200 years old.Viking ship museum wasn’t very large, but it did have a nice collection of a thousand year old large “boats” or whatever those vessels are called. The boats were located on the lower level and each one had an observation deck nearby that people could walk up to to look inside.

Viking Ship Museum.There was also a good collection of ancient weapons and tools. We told our kids as much as we know about the Vikings and our kids were quite interested in all those things. Though Alena and I kept thinking — Ragnar, Ragnar!

At Vigeland Park.Then we stocked up on some very warm Norwegian hats at a gift store and had a fast-food type of lunch at nearby food stand — we actually had crab and shrimp sandwiches from what I remember.

Kon-Tiki raft.Our next stop was Kon-Tiki museum. I didn’t know much about it beforehand and we only found out about it during our pre-trip research. Alena actually read a book and then her, Arosha and I watched a movie.

At Vigeland Park.Kon-Tiki is a story about a Norwegian scientist from the mid 20th century who had a theory that Polynesia was actually populated by people from South America and not Asia. But the scientific community dismissed it as complete nonsense.

Ferry.The only thing he could do at that point is prove it. So he built a raft and after a 100 year journey with a small group of people they actually reached the island as he had theorized. So that actual Kon-Tiki raft that was used for the expedition is exhibited in the museum. It was interesting to look at the real thing when you know its story. And it turned out to be quite a lot bigger in person than I thought it was.

Fram -- polar exploration ship.And for our third and final museum of the day we decided to go to Fram Museum. Fram is a polar exploration ship from the end of 19th century. It’s actually the only ship that was used to explore both poles of our planet. This turned out be Arosha’s favorite stop.

On the top deck of Fram.The ship is quite large and the museum had it installed in a such a way that you could see it from top to bottom. There were ramp all around the ship and people can actually get to the very top of it and walked on to the deck. And from the deck you could go inside the ship itself and explore its innards.

Fram explorers.We probably spent the most time at Fram. And by the time we were done with that we were feeling quite tired. Although kids still had plenty of energy and they ran around and played around some small tower near the shore while we were waiting for the ferry back.

Fram Museum.We walked back to the hotel again and were going to go to a highly rated Indian restaurant a block away from our hotel. But it turned out to be closed on that particular day and we ended up eating our dinner at an Italian place that was yet again right next to our hotel. Even though it wasn’t very highly rated our kids really loved the pizza at this place and kept asking to go back there afterwards.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Norway & Iceland

Norway and IcelandAll the way back in February after weeks of consideration we have booked ourselves a vacation to Norway and Iceland. What makes this one more special than usually is the fact that this is the first European vacation that our kids will come with us on. And it took me all these months to finally write some things down about it — the day before our actual departure.

It all started with us considering what we could do. We considered Moscow and Saint Petersburg. We considered Helsinki and Talin. We considered Poland. But in the end what pushed Oslo and Iceland ahead of the pack was the incredibly low price of the flight. And since at this point we are in four ticket buying business it is an important consideration.

We are flying1 from JFK to Oslo on July 13th. Then on July 20th we fly from Oslo to Reykjavik. And on July 24th we’re flying back home. All that for a price of $399 per person. One heck of a deal. The Iceland stopover is made possible by the fact that Iceland Air allows one to catch a connecting flight through Reykjavik with a layover of up to 7 days.

Also as far as Norway goes it really is just Oslo for us. Since this is the first trip of this kind that we are taking with kids we wanted to limit the number of cities to a minimum. So essentially we are going to have a lot of time to REALLY explore Oslo. Continue Reading

  1. Icelandair from and to JFK through Reykjavík — $399 x 4. []
In: Travel   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Time: 19:01   Comments: 1 Comment   Post a Comment  

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin