Exploring Oslo, Norway


Norway is a unique country and I think you can spend ages exploring it and you’d still have something you haven’t yet seen. So, obviously a weekend wasn’t enough to see all that Norway has to offer, but we did well in exploring everything that Oslo alone had to offer. It is a unique country in the sense that it has islands, hills, greenery, urban settling, beaches and lakes all at the same time, hence why there is always something to see. While I was not my own tour guide this trip, here is what we managed to experience:

Holmenkollen Skii Jump

They say if you tell someone you went to Oslo and didn’t see the Holmenkollen, they won’t believe you ever came here. It is very representation of what Oslo and its culture is like. It is a colossal ski jump where tournaments are held, and Norwegians love winter sports, thanks to the temperatures in Norway. The view from here is amazing too!

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Cruise from Aker Brygge

While in Oslo, you need to explore the beaut lake Fjord and one of the best ways to do it is to take the City Cruise which takes about 40 minutes to take you to and from a nearby island giving you a good view of the city and other islands/ peninsula. The cruise we took left from the port in Aker Brygge, a lovely street with shops, cafes and restaurants.

Sightseeing: Royal Palace – Slott, Parliament, Karl Johan Gate, Opera House, Nobel Peace Prize Museum

Oslo has a very rich history and standing in the world peace and equality. This is the reason why you would find people to be very kind and nice. Some of the landmarks and events which make Norway what it is can be witnessed in the Royal Palace, Parliament and Nobel Peace Prize Museum. Opera House needs no explanation of any sort, except for the fact that it was one of the most amazing pieces of architecture I have ever seen, I wish I had enough time to actually watch a theatrical play in it too but the next time I visit, I will definitely have that on my list.

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Frogner Parken

Frogner is the most unique park I have ever been too. While it has the usual green patch, flowers, fountains and lakes – it also has a story behind the sculptures throughout the park. They represent the different phases and events in life of a person from birthday to death, it is interesting how it has been expressed in these sculptures.

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Good to Know

Oslo has cosy and fancy cafes in most of its central shopping streets and around the tourist attractions. Among these, Pascal café is one of the most famous and posh ones, because of not only its amazing French pastries and coffee, but also because this has become quite an attraction since Bill Clinton came here. Otherwise food and drink in Norway is a treat, especially for those who love sea food.

Norwegian is not the easiest language to understand or speak, but the good thing is that most people speak English too.

 

Travel on!

Zurich in a Day


Switzerland is a stunning country, known for its landscapes and natural treasures – but while in Zurich, you also realise that it is one of the classiest cities of the world. Its fine dining, fine chocolates, luxurious cruises, classy people, high-end shopping and beautiful lakes stood out the most to me. So, holidays in Zurich are obviously not the most budget friendly ones, however it is worth every penny you spend. I only had a day to spend in this beaut city, but I did well for exploring what it has to offer, and here’s a quick look into it:

Shop at Bahnofstrasse

Bahnofstrasse is the main shopping street in Zurich located right infront of the main HB Train Station. The street is one of a kind because you will only see the world’s most high end brands, fine chocolates, watches, banks and cafes, which I believe is very representative of what the city stands for.

Coffee & chocolates at Sprungli

Sprungli is a café and chocolate confectioner. They have two branches on the Bahnofstrasse. Wait until you get to the end of the street for the branch where you can sit and enjoy their delicacies in the café. Here you can also buy chocolate in the ground floor or go upstairs to the seating area. Coffee’s presentation and taste is on point! Sit by the glass windows to appreciate the view of the street while you eat and drink.

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Cruise from Burklinplatz to Zurichorn

If you walk to the end of Bahnofstrasse, it will take you to the Burklinplatz Port where all the cruises have their pick and drop points for Lake Zurich. The views of Lake Zurich and Albis & Zimmerberg Hills from here are breath taking. There is many different tours you can opt for on the cruises, the shortest one being 1.5 hours long and you would need to buy a separate ticket for that. However, I was not too fussed about a lengthy cruise ride, so I just took the 10 minutes cruise journey to Zurichon (first stop), whose fares were included in my return train ticket from the airport. It is a nice, short cruise ride with beautiful views of the city, hills and the lake. I found it amazing that there were people swimming in the lake in the same area as the cruises and boats. So, if you have the right weather and timing, swimming in the lake might be a good idea.

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Walk from Zurichorn to Grossmunster

I always walk cities that I visit as it allows you to engage with the locals and experience the city to the fullest. From Zurichon Port, I walked all the way back to the city to Grossmunster Church. The walk is stunning as you get views of the lake, hills and water falls as you walk along the lake in the park.

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View from the Grossmunster

Grossmunster is located fifteen minutes’ walk from the HB Train Station in the city. It is a beautiful church, which has a staircase (a rather small one) taking you to its top to witness some amazing views of the city, Limmat River, Lake Zurich and the hills. Its location is perfect as it gives you the bird’s eye view of the whole of Zurich.

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Take Poly-Bahn Funicular to the University

Sadly, while I was in Zurich the funicular transport, which Switzerland is famous for, was undergoing repairs but they say if you take the funicular up to the university, the views are breath taking and the journey must be an experience in itself. I hope to experience it myself if and when I am back in the Switzerland.

 

Good to know

The dining in Zurich is made very easy with its many cafes and restaurants in all major areas across the city. You can find excellent food from all different cuisines of the world among these restaurants. However, these restaurants like other things in the city are not cheap.

Your return train ticket from airport to HB Train Station allows you access to most of the public transport in the city including trams, buses, funicular and the cruises (unless you take a route far out from the centre of the city). So, in many cases you might only need to get a return train ticket from the airport to get around the city, like I did.

 

Travel on!

Amsterdam in a Day


So, my Euro trip continues as I return from my destination # 2. Having spent a fabulous day exploring Amsterdam I can say that it is the cutest city of Europe. it is an absurd way to describe a city but this explains best how I truly feel about it. It is an urban and modern city, yet canals/ bicycles and (amazing) people give it a very warm, welcoming and ‘close’ vibe, which is unlike most other urban cities.

People in Amsterdam are generally very happy, which translates into them being helpful and nice. They are really nice to talk to! Ironically I was reading a book about importance of happiness in societies inspired by Dalai Lama at the time, which said happy people make better citizens and its interesting that in a city where is it legal to do anything (almost) people choose to be so nice and kind.

Unlike my last trip to Italy in which we finished sightseeing in Rome in a day and we headed to Ostia the other day (we go well planned), this wasn’t the case in Amsterdam at all. I still feel like there’s so many other things I would want to do, so there’s probably a next time for Amsterdam (which is funny, because when I told the immigration officer I was there only for a day, he complained and said I had to come back at the end of my Euro trip as one day is just not enough, and now I agree!).

So, here’s a few things to see, experience and enjoy in Amsterdam:

 

Walk/ Bike the City: Dam Square, Jordaan, Prinsengracht

The city has a network of well managed public transport, but you need to either walk to bike the city so that you can view the city cafes, little shops, talk to the locals and walk along the beautiful canals. I was not too comfortable with the left hand drive so I choose to not ride a bike, but walking was alright too. You need to be prepared to do lots of it though, if you wish to see major landmarks. You can take one of the walking tours or just make one of your own. I made one of my own. I walked from Centraal Station to Ann Frank Museum and then Jordaan which is a beautiful neighbourhood. This gave me a chance to see the beautiful canals, speak to some people and enjoy some food at the canal side cafes in the city. Some people might also fancy going to the Red Light District, which is very close to the Centraal Station, however it wasn’t something I was too fascinated about, so I stuck to everything else.

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Museumplein

This is a square with art galleries, museums and the good old ‘IAMSTERDAM’. If you have enough time you should explore one of the museums, if not the customary photo is a must. There’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops nearby as well, so you can eat and drink here too.

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Floating Flower Market

Blowmenmart is the world’s only floating flower market and the largest flower market. It is massive as one can imagine and one could buy lots of interesting souvenirs from here like wooden carved tulips, pouches, cheese, Stroopwafles etc. Be careful though, some of the items you buy here like the bulbs are not allowed through the security at the airport. Although I enjoyed my time in the flower market I was a little disappointed by the lack of fresh flowers, as I was expecting to be mesmerised by the smell and buy a bunch of fresh tulips, either it wasn’t the right weather for tulips or that didn’t happen for me.

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Amsterdam EYE & Ferry Ride

Not many tourists go the North of Amsterdam where you can reach by a brief ferry ride. There they have the Amsterdam Eye, a magnificent piece of architecture and a great place to relax and cool off after a day of walking around the city. Many a times you can also go to art exhibitions here and if you have enough time, might also watch a movie at the cinema here.

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While I absolutely loved going to the places that I did, I wish I had enough time to explore the museums, pay visit to the Maritime museum and indulge myself extensively in the local cuisines.

 

Happy Travelling Folks!

Sweeter Side of Life!


Birthday celebrations – Afternoons spent on the beach – Dressing up with girlies – Pointless Phone Calls – Sharing desserts – Giggling without any jokes – Untimely text messages. Isn’t it these little thing that make life worth living?

Lazy evenings spent slacking & going through old folders, can bring so much of un-called-for joys, tears, self-confessions, feelings – Memories. Sitting back looking through my old pictures on a lazy evening made me realize what a long way I have, we all have come in life. Its true that we love two things the most, the past because its perfect in our minds and the future for it’s loaded with hopes, dreams, desires and ambitions. As I said, it brought back so many different feelings. Joy for I lived what I loved, tears for its gone now. But above all, it made me thankful for I lived so much. Pictures truly bring back memories, a magic spell making you live your life over and over, which makes me fall deeper in love with photography!