Namaste Nepal!

They say you go to Nepal for the mountains, but come back for the people. I agree. My first trip to Nepal was a couple of weeks ago. Such a beautifull, interesting and exotic country. The trekking was really beautiful, but what will really stick with me for ever is the people. All the namaste's when meeting people up in the mountains, the smiles, the attitude. 

I spent two weeks in Nepal, an organized trip with Norwegian Ethical Travel Portal and Nepal based Socialtours. It was a combined yoga and hiking trip with some extra time in Kathmandu. I attended the first ever Yoga in the Mountains Festival in Kathmandu and then did yoga outdoors twice a day during the trek - perfect combination!

Swoyambhu

Swoyambhu

 

Here is a summary of my Nepal trip:

Kathmandu and Pokhara

All together I spent about three days in the city of Kathmandu. A very interesting, vibrating and dusty.... city. So much colors, people everywhere, bicycling around with their fruit to sell or whatever big boxes of other stuff to deliver. And off course all the stuff you can buy. From very much fake North Face and trekking guides on every corner to some pretty nice stuff. And the sellers aren't very pushy, that's a good thing about Nepal!

The dust and the traffic was the down side. One full day in the busy district of Thamel was enough, there is so much dust and so much traffic to look out for that you really feel for some calm afterwards. But there is definitely stuff to like around Kathamndu. Like The Garden of Dreams. A quiet  beautiful park just a door step away from the busy shoppings streets of Thamel. And Karma coffee and the yoga studio Pranayama in the same very cool building. And off course Swoyambhu - or the Monkey Temple. Beautiful views over the city and an interesting spot!

I also spent half a day in Pokhara. Wouldn't mind spending more! A beautiful little city by the riverside. Nice shops, less fake stuff and a very festive feeling to it all. This is the backpacker spot, where most trekkers go by and it shows. 

Pokhara

Pokhara

 

The trek

We did a six day trek in the area of Annapurna, but we did not trek the circuit as many do. Our trail was a eco trail, very quiet and nice. Actually we only met a handful of other trekkers on our way. Our goal was Mohare Danda 3320 masl. We started in Galeswhor and hiked to Bas Kharka the first day, where we stayed at a beautiful home stay. The next day we hiked to Nagi and the third day we hiked from Nagi to Mohare Danda, surprised by a very nice noudle soup lunch in the middle of nowhere. 

As Mohare Danda was our goal, a beautiful mountain!, we stayed there for a day. But eager trekkers as our group was, we spent 4 hour of our 'day off' to hike over to the more known Poon Hill. Also a very nice place! The next two days we went down, first from Mohare Danda to the very beautiful village Shikha. And then on the last day to Tatopani, a place with the most beautiful mountain view!

Shikha

Shikha

 

What I liked most about our trek was meeting the people who lived up there in the mountains on our way, so friendly and so interesting to see how they lived. And a bit sad, many people are poor and you can see it. But yet they seem happy. And they had wifi! I like the way they live up there, like in another century, but they still watch the same stuff as us on Youtube and connect with the world. 

The whole sherpa culture was also very interesting. Our sherpas was local young boys who did this as a summer job. Together with our guides they was like a second hand to the people who ran the places we slept or where we stopped for lunch. They helped out making the food and they served us the food. It was a good experience with people happy to have this job. 

Mohare Danda

Mohare Danda

 

I really liked hiking in Nepal, but because of the weather, a bit foggy and cloudy we didn't see as much of the impressive mountains as we hoped for. It didn't bother me that much, but to be on the safer side for the mountain views, autumn is a better timing. But it comes with more people off course. Being able to trek almost on our own was something I really appreciated!

 

Namaste Nepal - thank you for showing me your country, your mountains and all your friendly people! Thank you for all the nice talks and the company Katja, Arne, Betina, Silje, Stein Michael, Hildegunn and Anette. Thank you Linda, Ray, Jangbu (and team) for showing us Nepal! And thank you Camilla for beautiful yoga sessions - under the sky (not the roof) and in a sky!

Poon Hill

Poon Hill

 

 

 

Vøringfossen, Norway - a majestic waterfall

Just as amazing as the waterfall itself is the mountain block its falling from. It's like a fairytail, huge, impressive and romantic at the same time.

The waterfall Vøringsfossen has a free fall of 145 metres. You can either see it from the road or walk 30 minutes in to it - we didn't but they say it's worth it. Vøringsfossen is placed on the beautiful Hardangervidda (the road from eastern to western Norway) and the also very romantic Måbødalen. In other words - one of those road trips worth taking in Norway. We drove from Hemsedal to Eidsfjorden and then back to Hemsedal via Voss and Flåm. That's a lot of Norwegian beauty. Stop at Eidsfjord Gjestegiveri to eat some pancakes after taking in the sight of the waterfall. 

We even got a bonus rainbow when there!

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A scenic road trip in Western Norway: Fjords and mountains all the way

The road trip we had last weekend was like a long beautiful dream with fjords and mountains playing the lead roles. Even though I live here and have traveled around a lot, this exact road trip was one of the most scenic I've done ever. One for the bucket list!

We started our trip in Hemsedal (since this was our base for the weekend) and including many photo stops, lunch and more it took us about 12 hours. So starting there it is a nice day trip, but it's a perfect weekend trip if you start in Oslo (spend a night in Gudvangen or Aurdal). 

This was our route:

Hemsedal - Lærdal (via the historic route Kongevegen)
We started by driving over Hemsedalsfjellet (wishing we had a cabin there), great mountain scenery, still in Eastern Norway. A while after passing the county limit to Western Norway (Sogn og Fjordane) we left the main road to drive the old Kongevegen (Kings road) - a historic route where we stopped at Borgund Stave Church (you should too). The road is narrow and very cool, passing waterfalls and steep mountains.

Lærdal - Kaupanger - ferry to Gudvangen
Our next goal was Kaupanger. To get to Kaupanger from Lærdal you need to take a 15 min long ferry from Fodnes to Manhellar. Make sure you buy Svele with smørkrem on board. In Kaupanger we had a a look at Kaupanger Stave Church before heading to the main goal of the trip - the ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen. Make sure you buy your ticket ahead (here). The ferry takes almost three hours and starts in Sognefjorden and ends in the famous Nærøyfjorden, a fjord on UNESCOs World Heritage List. Charge your camera, bring your Goretex jacket and enjo!y

Gudvangen - Stalheim - Flåm
Leaving the ferry we drove straight towards Stalheim Hotel (but you should stop and look around Gudvangen as well). Stalheim Hotel is a historic hotel, unfortunately not in it's prime shape any more, but the lunch was pretty good and the view you get for desert is almost worth the whole trip! Drive down from the hotel through Stalheimskleiva if you have the nerves. One of Europe's steepest roads. Our next goal was Flåm. Unfortunately Flåm is mostly a harbor for cruise ships these days and suffers a bit from that. But Flåmsbanen - one of the worlds most beautiful train journeys is worth considering.

Flåm - Aurland - Stegastein  
Our next goal was Stegastein viewpoint. We drove from Flåm to Aurland and then followed another narrow road with hairpin turns (one of Norways national tourist roads) up to Stegastein. The Stegastein viewpoint juts 30 meters out from the side of the mountain, 650 meters above the Aurland fjord. The panoramic view of the fjord is unsurpassed and was breathtaking!

Stegastein - Aurland mountain road - Lærdal - Hemsedal
From Stegastein we stayed on the same national road (also called the Snow road) over the mountain of Aurland and down back to Lærdal. Another road with amazing views all the way. From Lærdal we drove back to Hemsedal.

 

This road trip really gives you something else! Very worth it, but you should be used to driving narrow steep roads. The reward is amongst very few!

Kongevegen

Kongevegen

Borgund Stave Church 

Borgund Stave Church 

The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

The ferry from Kaupanger to Gudvangen 

Waterfalls all the way 

Waterfalls all the way 

Nærøyfjorden 

Nærøyfjorden 

The view from Stalheim hotel 

The view from Stalheim hotel 

The view from Stegastein 

The view from Stegastein 

On the road in Norway 

On the road in Norway 

Copenhagen - urban and friendly city for foodies

My trip to Copenhagen last week was much about good food experiences. Copenhagen has been known for great food for a while, Noma being the star. But Copenhagen is also a food city if you don't have the Noma kind of budget. Add friendly atmosphere, cozy areas and an urban feeling (+ great craft beer) - Copenhagen should very much be in your list of city escapes in Europe.

Having one day in the city my visit was mostly about strolling around, enjoying the vibe, doing some shopping and eating great food. This is what I recommend:

  • Go to Nørrebro - this part of the city is multicultural and you find some of the hippest streets here (Elmegade and Jægersborggade). Shopping is great with unique design stores. Colorful buildings and street art makes walking around a pleasure. 
  • Strøget - the main shopping street is very crowded, but worth a visit as an important part of this city. And step by the Round Tower for a great view over the city.
  • Vesterbro - another trendy but relaxed part of the city, and most important (in my opinion) home of Kødbyen - Copenhagen's Meatpacking District. Very cool atmosphere with restaurants placed in old butcher stores and fish halls. Loved it! 

Where to eat, drink and relax with your book? These are the places I loved:

  • Fleich - butcher and eatery. Dinner and lunch.
  • Risteriet - great coffee and breakfast.
  • RETRO Nørrebro - cool cafe with a very chilled atmosphere.
  • Mirabelle bakery - great for breakfast or lunch. They make their own pasta.
  • Cafe Mandela - chilled cafe/eatery with the coolest map covered bar area.
  • Kødbyens Fiskebar - do fish for dinner. Or muslings. Fish and chips was great.

If you are on a budget - the Urban House is the best place to stay. It's been some years since my last hostel stay, but this was a very good experience! 

Thank you for the great food Copenhagen!

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My first desert experience – Wadi Rum, Jordan

And what an experience! Born and raised between steep mountains and deep fjords, the desert was something I only saw in movies. In Wadi Rum I got to both see it from the back of a camel riding into the sunset, on a jeep ride and I slept there.

Most deserts are flat and can feel endless. Wadi Rum is different with mountain formations changing all the time.

We arrived the Wadi Rum desert late afternoon ready for our desert experience. Our driver parked the car and a jeep driver from Rahayeb Camp drove us to the camp, my first glimpse of the desert, I loved it from the first moment. Arriving the camp tea was served (lots of tea time in the desert) and we found our VIP tent (it had showers and all). Then it was time for our camel ride.

My fascination for camels was really big at this point (they are so funny!) and it was mye first ride on one. I simply loved riding through the desert! We arrived our goal, a small hill to watch the sunset from. Everybody else arrived in jeeps, only us on camels. Fun! And a beautiful sunset!

The rest of the evening in the camp wasn’t all that. Food was good, cooked in the ground, but then it all went quiet pretty fast. But we slept very well. The next day the jeep ride was the really big treat. Just cruising through the desert for three hours on the back of a jeep, wind in the hair, different mountain formations passing through all the time. And off course the driver stopped for amazing photo spots all the time. If I just subtract the two times we stopped at touristy spots to be served tea and ”entertainment” (men smoking water pipe) with goods for sale, it was pretty perfect!

Yes, I loved the desert experience! Sleeping there was no big deal, but I wouldn’t mind cruising around even more. Maybe on a horse next time.

My trip around Jordan was sponsored by Sherazade Travel. But my opinions are off course my own.

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Happy New Year from Istanbul - be friendly, smile and bounce

To celebrate new years abroad is a nice reminder of the world we live in, it is so much more then what we see in our every day life.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand eachother, we may even become friends.
— Maya Angelou

I feel lucky and blessed to be able to travel as much as I do, it gives me other perspectives on the world along with great experiences and adventures. Beeing in Turkey today means that I have just visited my 37th country and I'm 37 years old. And its the fourth year I'm spending new years eve abroad:

2012/2013: Smiling and bouncing together with newly made American/Canadian friends and thousands of Vietnamese people in Saigon. The countdown was very special with so many people.
2013/2014: Salsa party in Tokyo! Danced my way into the new year with people from all over the world. And followed the Japanese tradition by going to the Shrine on new years day to pray for the year to come.
2014/2015: Dancing and drinking in San Jose with friends from America, Canada, Australia, England and Kroatia. The last day of our two week long and amazing travel around Costa Rica.
2015/2016: In Istanbul, at a rooftop bar with a beautiful view and beautiful people.

I wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope it will bring you to new adventures and that the world will be filled with more peace and understanding. Be friendly, smile and bounce!

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My beautiful week in Bali

The resorts rooster wakes me up in the morning and I step outside my door into the garden path, roses hanging over me. I walk through the organic garden filled with spices and vegetables before another path feeling like it’s in the jungle takes me down to the beach. I do my yoga watching the sun rise and the surfers tackling the waves.

So friendly people, so much beauty, blissful and fun. That is Bali to me. Only one week in Bali!? they said. Yes, and I understand why, but even though I would love to stay longer, one week showed me both different sides of Bali and gave me a really nice week in the sun.

This is what I did and easely recommend to anyone who wants to go to Bali.

Sanur beach

Slow life and really nice water is what best describes the beach in Sanur. I spent a day there, mostly in the water, some time in a sun chair.  Sanur is a nice beach where you can do water sports or just relax. The beachfront walk is nice, just do your best to ignore all the ladies who wants you to visit their booth at the marked.  Eat you lunch at Sand Beach Club.

Ubud

Make sure you pay attention on your way there. You drive on narrow roads and get to see a lot of people doing their daily chores along the way. The shops in Ubud mostly have tourist stuff and yoga stuff, but take a stroll anyway. I had lunch at the Dirty Duck Diner, It was nice.

And do visit the monkey forest! It was way more facinating then I imagened and a really nice walk (takes about one hour to walk the whole round) in the shadow of threes. And the monkeys are everywhere and very close to you. Photo opportunities, oh yeah! But watch you camera (and other stuff) they like to steal these monkeys. There are many stories about people being attacked by the monkeys, but as long as you are nice, they are nice and there are many friendly guards on your way.

What I didn’t see in Ubud was the rice terraces. My friendly driver wasn’t very good at speaking English and spent time trying to drop me off at typical tourist traps rather then actually taking me to the rice terraces as I asked him to… But I found my peace anyway.

Seminyak

Oh, Seminyak! The day there took me by surprise, so different from the busy cheep marked in Sanur. Many many beautiful shops with real stuff you would actually wear at home and souvenirs that would find it’s place in your clean Scandinavian designed livingroom.

Speaking about design – the restaurants, cafes and bars in Seminyak was so beautiful, so many great concepts, reminded me very much about Williamsburg, Brooklyn actually. Every place had a concept. For more tips on where to eat and so on in Seminyak, head over to the blog by Nordictwinkle.

I also went to the beach in Seminyak, about a 15 minute walk from Seminyak Square. This is my kind of beach! Very wide and you could walk along it for miles. I think I will stay in Seminyak the next time I go to Bali.

Komune resort and beach club

This is where I stayed the whole week, located at Keramas beach where I watched the sunrise in the mornings and the evening entertainment at the beach faced bar/restaurant was night surfing. Komune is both a beach club and a resort, it also has a health club with equipment and both fitness classes and yoga classes. 

Everything at Komune was so made so beautiful. The place had two pools, one at the beach club with a busy (but not to busy) party like vibe and such a cool pool, it felt like it was a part of the beach just in front of it. Watching the surfers was great entertainment from the sunbed;) The other pool was part of the health club and had a very different vibe, with children not allowed and surrounded by palms it was the most relaxing place to be!

Komune also had great food and a really good spa with great treatments. The beach was mostly for surfing and had black sand so the pools was to prefere. But good beach for running and yoga. 

The area around Komune wasn't much and you needed some kind of transport to go anywhere (Sanure 30 minutes away, Ubud and Seminyak about 60 minutes). That was the only downside to the place. If I go back to Bali I think I will stay there for a few days and then somewhere else (like Seminyak or visit some of the islands). Komune is a perfect place to unwind and relax, but not see Bali. 

Thank you Bali for a great week, I loved you and all your friendly people!

Komune 

Komune 

Find your inner peace when traveling

Tourists visit, travelers explore they say. How about just being at and feeling the place you visit. That's the kind of traveler I am. I don't feel the urgent need to see anything and I don't really have to explore all the time. But I do need to find my inner peace, to not stress around, to see the place with a relaxed mind.

Because, let's face it, traveling isn't always a romantic and enlightening meeting with a new place, it's very often combined with stress. Delayed flights, missed luggage, mosquito bites, to hot, to busy, getting lost (not in the good way), jetlag etc. etc. When you think back, most of your travels have some kind of feeling like that. Mine to. But most of the time you still you look back at it with happy thoughts, it was your time off, it was a meeting with new people, and another culture, happy times with friends or family.

That's because you probably got over it, you found your peace, you managed away from the stress. My way of traveling is to do my best to not feel those not so good things. I have found a way to love airports and I can really feel a place when I arrive, like when I came to Berlin. I can easily go to a new place and not think that I missed out even though I didn't see any of the tourist sights. Because I still felt the vibrant city, I observed people on my way just sitting at a cafe or walking the streets. I try to get to know the place from it's inside, not just observing it. 

To be able to do that I have to understand how I find that peace. It helps to think about a good moment. Like today (I'm in Bali), the day started out with breakfast at sunrise accompanied by the sound of waves. Followed by a great yoga class. The plan for the day was to go to Ubud, about 45 minutes to drive from where I stay. Those stressful moments kept coming. The driver didn't understand English that well and tried to drop me off at typical tourist traps. Arriving in Ubud I was angry and hungry and it was very hot. But I reminded my self about the peace I felt that same morning, I regained that feeling, slowed down with a nice long lunch and a visit to the amazing Monkey Forest. And on my way back I managed to see all the beauty we drove by, to see the life behind, to imagine the life of the people I saw. 

Tomorrow I will try to find back to those moments, I will not stress to see or explore. I will start the day drinking my coffee while watching the waves and from that work out what a good day will be and do my best to find peace no matter what I do.

Peace, love and travel!



Shoreditch - my London hood

Shoreditch, east London, Hackney. It's rough around the edges, more street art and construction sites than parks and cozy streets. But loads of hip cafes, random art galleries, all kinds of restaurants and good shopping. An interesting area, mye favourite London place to be.

Actually I've stayed in Shoreditch the last three times I have been to London (I have been in London around ten times). It's the mixture that intrigues me. Me like Shoreditch.

Here's a few places in Shoreditch I recommend:

Make sure you experience Shoreditch on your next London trip. 

Shoreditch streetart 

Shoreditch streetart 

A travel and get lost experience in Martina Franca

Arriving Martina Franca in the middel of the siesta, hungry and tired after a 6 hour travel from Naples, I wasn't totally happy with the first experience of the place. 

Martina Franca in Puglia, Italy is one of those small cities where they take their siesta really serious. The area around the train station wasn't much to see and there was no taxi to find (they had siesta too). I found my self walking the two kilometres to the hotel in 35 degrees celcius and when I arrived there was no food to find (more siesta trouble).

I didn't do any research ahead of my visit to Martina Franca since I was only staying there for one night on mye way to Kaliyoga.  But a couple of hours after I arrived, finally fed,  I headed for the city center, no idea what I would find. 

What I did find was the most beautiful plaza and really really nice white narrow streets. I walked the streets for hours, getting lost all the time, just smiling and taking pictures. That is what I call a travel and get lost experience, not knowing what to expect, to just walk in random directions finding REAL beauty. Like this:

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Urke Kaihus - a cafe you just have to visit if you are in the area

The small village Urke in Hjørundfjorden opened it's very first cafe/pub this summer - Urke Kaihus. (Urke Port house). And what a place! In doors the furniture is old fashion with deep couches, a disk built from planks from old barns in the village, pictures on the wall from old times when this was the villages active port house and so on. Perfect when the weather isn't the best outside (and we all know that that tends to happen in this area...). 

But the out door serving is the very best part. At the dock by the fjord, surrounded by the Norwegian alps and the view towards Slogen. Magnificent! 

Ever in the area around Hjørundfjorden, kayaking the fjord or arriving with Hurtigruten - you just have to make a stop. The waffles are also great by the way.

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Naples - rough Italy

I was told and had read so many different things about Naples before I went here, like:

  • it's filled with garbage, not nice at all
  • it's beautiful, real Italy  
  • best place in Italy (coming from Italian friend not from Naples) 
  • it's really scary 
  • you should not travel there solo as a woman  
  • and...: travelling solo as a woman is no problem, just stay away from the central station (stupid advice, as a traveller the central station is very much likely a place you have to visit)

So I had to find out for my self, what was true and what wasn't. I started of by choosing a hotel in a safe and central area because that travelling solo stuff mostly has to do with common sense. And even though Naples is a bit rougher then many of the romantic Italian cities, I never experienced anything scary (not the central station either).

So what about the garbage?  When I arrived I definitely did see more garbage on the streets than most other places. But moving in to the core parts of the city it was pretty much like any other city, not super clean, but ok. 

What I experienced in Naples was beautiful buildings, cozy narrow streets, authentic living, great food and friendly people. But Naples is a bit more rough around the edges than the average Italia city. 

This is stuff I recommend to see/do in Naples:

  • Go to see Castel dell'Ovo, the castle is pretty cool and the views from the area towards Naples also.
  • Piazzas! Oh, I love them. My favourite one was Piazza San Domenico Maggiore (have some wine and tapas at Jamon while you're there). 
  • Eat pizza! After all, it is supposed to have it's origin in Naples. And it is really amazing.
  • Stay at Hotel Piazza Bellini, a beautiful hotel in so many ways, and the garden! It is also located at another nice Piazza (Piazza Bellini). The restaurant next door La Stanza del Gusto is also worth a visit.
  • The main shopping street is Via Toledo with the normal kind of shops. A much more authentic shopping street is Via Benedetto Croce and also the streets around it.
  • Tour the narrow streets, that's when you see how people really live.
  • If it's not 35 degrees celcius, walk up to Castel Sant'Elmo for a nice view.
  • If it is 35 degrees celcius, take the boat to Capri for the day (takes 45 minutes). My pictures from Capri.
  • Enjoy the fact that the city is not over filled with other tourists ;) 

Some pics: 

 

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Edinburg - a scenery

Walking around Edinburgh is like going back in time and not at the same time. The castle and all the old impressive buildings is just one great scenery, you immediately start wondering how it was to live back then. At the same time Edinburgh is definitely a trendy city with loads of great cafes, bars and restaurants.  

I spent a long weekend in Edinburg in the middle of May. A long weekend is perfect to explore the city, if I had more time I would travel to see the Highlands. May is nice, but it's still a bit cold (there is very much weather in Edinburgh, bring your water and wind proof jacket). And good shoes, Edinburg is one of those citys where you can walk everywhere and you should. Here's what I explored and recommend  to see and do in Edinburg:

The Old Town with Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura and more

The Old Town of Edinburgh is the main scenery I mentioned with Edinburgh castle as the ultimate stage. Walking up The Royal Mile towards the castle is something you do together with loads of other tourists, but there is no way out, you can't leave Edinburgh without seeing the castle. It really gives you the sense of those days. And on your way there make sure you walk through some of the narrow streets (they are called close). The castle in itself is great and so is the view. The actual inside of the castle wasn't as impressive as I imagined, but that's no reason to miss out.

Close to the castle you find Camera Obscura and the Scotch Whisky Experience. Both worth visiting. But go to Camera Obscura first, going there after a few whiskys (as I did) can make you a bit dissy;)

Camera Obscura is actually one of the most fun things I've been to. The main (and original) attraction is the camera with a 360 view over Edinburgh, the live show they do showing it is fun! But Camera Obscura is really a world of illusions, hard to explain, just go there. And the view is great as well.

If you like whisky go to the Scotch Whisky Experience. But be aware it is a experience center and you go trough a very made up route, it is not a museum and they don't make whisky there. But you learn the basics and tasting is included. Go for the gold package and you get to taste 5 different whisky's. 

On your way back down the Royal Mile make sure you spit on the Heart of Midlothian. A prison used to be where the heart is made into the ground now.  Executions used to take place there. The heart marks its doorway. Some people spit on the Heart. Although it's now said to be done for good luck, it was originally done as a sign of disdain for the former prison.

Make sure you go through Cockburn street as well. It has some great small shops. 

The New Town

The New Town is not really a new town, just a little bit newer then the Old Town. So it is also filled with old buildings and the best view towards the castle. Take your time wandering around the Princess Street Gardens and climb to the top of the impressive Scott Monument. I didn't explore much more in new town, but there are many monuments and stuff there.

The New Town also holds the main shopping area of Edinburg with all the shops on one side of the street. Probably all the shops you need but nothing especially interesting.

Stockbridge

Stockbridge is about half an hour walk from New Town, but it is a nice walk. This part of the city holds the vintage shops, a nice Sunday market, trendy cafes and the Botanical garden. It's worth your time spending half a day there. The Botanical garden is really beautiful and interesting and the entrance is free. And have lunch and do some shopping while you are in Stockbridge, it has some really nice places. And it's pretty much tourist free:)

Food and drinks

Some places I especially liked:
No. 33 Cafe in Stockbridge - cute, great food.
The City Cafe in Old Town - 50s style cafe, drink milkshake.
Royal Mile Market - a hidden treasure in the crowded Royal Mile.
Southern Cross Cafe in Cockburn Street - go for breakfast.
OX184 - great bar, not to loud, also good food.
BrewDog - bar. Drink BrewDog.

Some pics coming your way now. Edinburg is definitely one of those cities you have to visit!

At the Camera Obscure

At the Camera Obscure

Make sure you go through some of the narrows streets (close)

Make sure you go through some of the narrows streets (close)

Whisky time!

Whisky time!

Spit on the heart

Spit on the heart

The Botanical garden

The Botanical garden

This castle!

This castle!

View from the Souther Cross Cafe

View from the Souther Cross Cafe

View from Camera Obscura

View from Camera Obscura


Costa Rica: Rainforest, nature, biodiversity and Manuel Antonio

Costa Rica is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world. The more than 500,000 species that are found in this small country represent nearly 4% of the total species estimated worldwide. 

That is pretty amazing. And we got to see a lot of it during our trip to Costa Rica along with amazing nature. We visited the rainforest and jungle in Sarapiqui, the rainforest along Pacuare river (where we also met some indigenous people living there), the cloud forest in Monteverde, the areas around La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio National park. 

It was my first time seeing real rainforest, the rainforest is like nature on steroids, everything is so big and there is so much to see all the time. Strange beautiful trees, insects, animals, butterflies and flowers. You really need someone to guide you because you will have so many questions and it's not that easy finding out on your own. And the guides also sees the insects etc. that you wouldn't find yourself. We had guided walks in many of the places both in daytime and nighttime. 

Manuel Antonio

I really recommend visiting Manuel Antonio and Manuel Antonio National park. Bring a packed lunch (no food sale) and spend time on the beautiful beach inside the park. Just watch out for the monkeys, they like to steel your stuff:) In Manuel Antonio we also did a sunset cruise with a Catamaran. We saw dolphins swimming along the boat and watched a beautiful sunset. I also did a kayak tour into the mangroves of Manuel Antonio. The scenery was great and we did see some cool stuff. But calling what we sat in a kayak is taking it a bit to far and it was a hassle kayaking in line with 40 other tourists. But I'm sure there are better options then the one we did. Manuel is definitely worth a stop on your Costa Rica tour.

Save the rainforest

Deforestation in Costa Rica has a serious impact on the environment and therefore may directly or indirectly contribute to flooding, desertification, sedimentation in rivers, loss of wildlife diversity, and the obvious sheer loss of timber. Since the end of World War II, approximately 80% of the forests of Costa Rica have disappeared. Over half of Costa Rica's existing forest cover today is under the protection of national parks, biological reserves, or wildlife refuges. However, the major problem in regards to deforestation is the privately owned plots which occupy the other half. (source Wikipedia).

I already support Regnskogfondet (Rainforest Foundation Norway) - a Norwegian organisation that works to save the rainforest. This trip just made me even more aware of what a big responsibility we have to save rainforests all over the world. 

Kayaking in the mangroves of Manuel Antonio

Kayaking in the mangroves of Manuel Antonio

Amazing tree in Saraquipi

Amazing tree in Saraquipi

The beach inside Manuel Antonio National Park

The beach inside Manuel Antonio National Park

Doing some tree hugging :)

Doing some tree hugging :)

My Paris - Montmartre and Le Marais

I have finally found my Paris. It took me almost four visits, but now that I have found it I just want to stay. For me traveling is much about feelings, not so much about sights. It’s about feeling the place, see the real life there or at least as close as I can get being just a visitor for a few days.

The first two times I visited Paris I liked it, it was great to finally see the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame and so on. But I didn’t see the amazingness, it didn’t go straight to my top list. But now it has. Two years ago I stayed in Montmartre and started to get the right feeling and now I have spent almost a week there. And I will be back. Let me tell you why.

Montmartre is...

Cute cafes, nice restaurants, good, but not the average shopping, narrow streets and local shops filled with cheese, ham, fish, flowers an all you can wish for. Montmartre is also the area where Sacre Coeur is located. The church looks amazing and so is the view from the area. You should eat your lunch and drink a bottle of french vine on the stairs ones. Even though Montmartre has both Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge you can easily avoid tourists and it's is easy connected to the rest of Paris with the Metro.

Montmartre gives me the feeling of being in a big city and a small village at the same time. You can feel the local life and really live the Paris way there. 

Some of my favourite places in Montmartre

  • Le Relais Montmartre - cute, well driven, very french hotel with great staff. I have stayed there two times and will be back.
  • Un Zebre - cool and cozy restaurant. Also good for just drinking and a nice atmosphere. Try the duck.
  • Cafe les Deux Moulines - this is the cafe from the movie Amelie (if you have not seen it, do! At least before you go to Paris). Not as touristy as you would think though, a hangout for the locals as well. Nice for a coffee, dessert or as a bar, not the best place for dinner. But it’s a really nice place!
  • Se’bon - great restaurant. Eat dinner there, but you should book ahead, it’s very small.

But there is also Le Marais

Le Marais is a new part of Paris for me. It reminds me of West Village in New York with trendy shops and restaurants surrounded by historic buildings. The weather was really bad the day I visited so I don't have any recommendations. But I still got the good vibes of the area and will definitely explore it more next time. Just walking around imagening who used to live in those amazing buildings gives you a good feeling.

Paris - I can't wait until next time! Here are som pics from Montmartre and Le Marais.

Pre travel happiness

I have not traveled outside of Norway since Berlin in July. That's a long time for me, probably the longest time without traveling for 3-4 years. This autumn has just been to busy, but that's about to change.

Even though I didn't have the time to travel I did plan for the next travels, I just need that to look forward to. Especially when it came to November I needed something waiting ahead. November is really the worst month of the year, dark, rainy and all of that... 

And now! I'm leaving for Paris and Le web tomorrow! When traveling with work I try to get a couple of days extra, this time as well: Shopping, hanging around in Montmartre and Le Marais, christmas market at Champs Elysees. I'm coming Paris!

But there is more, just four days after returning from Paris I'm going to Costa Rica

I'm one lucky girl!


And through the door came Grappa and Prosciutto - from Rimini to Katnosdammen

Finishing work on Friday me and three other girls jumped on the bus to Stryken. After one hour on the bus we started the walk to Katnosdammen - a cabin owned by the Norwegian Trekking Association.

Oslo is surrounded by forrest and great walking routes and there are many of these cabins. You can rent a bed for just 200-500 NOK (depending on membership and no-service cabins, self-service cabins or staffed lodges). Katnosdammen has no-service, you just book a bed and bring your key (you get it as a member).

Knowing that 11 of the cabins 17 beds were booked it was a surprise for us to only meet two others when we arrived in the dark after a 13 km long walk. But one hour later 6 italian men came out of the dark and in to the cabin. And it was such a random surprise. We were expecting a Norwegian family on their autumn holiday or just another bunch of people escaping Oslo for the weekend.

Because, Katnosdammen is a beautiful spot and a very nice cabin, but the walking trip there is not the most exotic or exciting. Great for people like us living close by, not a route you travel far to take. So the six guys coming through the door took us by surprise. 4 of them flew in from Rimini that day, starting straight on the walk. And they had backbacks filled with Grappa, Prosciutto, sausages, cheese and wine. All brought from Italy the same day. 

The Italian hospitality was very much intact so the whole evening turned in to a great meal and our Chili con Carne was followed by amazing fresh Prosciutto, Grappa and cheese. Around the table in the deep forrest we had the exotic element of people speaking Italian more the Norwegian. It was actually kind of surreal, because it was so unexpected. But such a great evening! 

The next day we walked about 25 km back to Oslo, all tired but happy. The Italian guys spent the weekend at Katnosdammen. I'm glad we helped them get rid of some of the stuff in their backpack as they were also planning to walk the 25 km back to Oslo on the Sunday :)

Walking and walking

Walking and walking

Cabin ahead

Cabin ahead

Prosciutto brought from Rimini to Katnosdammen.

Prosciutto brought from Rimini to Katnosdammen.

Waking up the next morning.

Waking up the next morning.


Tokyo - wow!

Tokyo is all about contrasts. A very tech focused country with so many sounds, so much technology, so much going on. But at the same time you meet a strong culture, politeness rises above all and the traditions are really important. 

You should definitely go there sometime. In all of my travels I have almost never seen the culture so visible in every day life. With everything happening there  you just can't get enough. And all the sounds! If a shop sells something that has a sound, they do not display only one, but many many and all with the sound on. But even though all the people and the sound can be overwhelming, you won't find aggressive sellers like in China or India. The politeness over rules it all.

Sitting at the metro in Tokyo is almost embarrassing, people look down all the time, it's not polite to look people in the eyes. Money, recites etc. are always given to you with both hands, you take of your shoes outside the dressing room and everything you buy is wrapped nicely. 

 

I was in Tokyo for about a week, here are my recommendations:

The food is great
And Sushi is the best. The different kinds of fish you get here is enormous, and it's fresh all the time. You should try different kinds of sushi restaurants for different experiences. Most restaurants are pretty good in Tokyo, the hygiene and the service holds a high standard. I did get tired of Miso soup and rice, and I did eat the worst Pizza ever there, but all in all, it's a great city for food lovers.

Shibuya
The city area where the cool kids hang out, always loads of people. And the place where you find the famous Shibuya crossing. A must see fascinating experience. Many restaurants and shops in the area, amongst them Shibuya 109, my favorite shopping mall. I lived in Shibuya, very central.

The Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine
This park is partly located in Shibuya, partly in Harajuku. A huge nice park, a calm oasis's just beside the busy areas. Meiji shrine is located in the park and is one of the largest shrines in Tokyo. I went there on new years day, the same day as half of Tokyo goes there to pray for luck and happiness the coming year. It was a nice experience and thanks to the amazingly well organized queuing they managed to get thousands of people through there that day. 

Harajuku
This is where they stroll, the girls we have seen pictures of so many times. They spend most of their time dressing and putting on make up, and the rest of it walking down Harajuku street to show it off. Harajuku is shopping. Many local designers mixed with vintage stores, other fun stuff and cool cafes and restaurants in Harajuku street. For more mainstream and luxury shopping, it's all about Omotesando street.

Yanaka
A small part of the city that is more traditional. Very nice just walking around there, especially in the nice shopping street. There are many shrines and a fascinating big cemetery. 

Tsukiji Fish marked
The worlds largest fish marked. Fascinating and very fun, one of the things I enjoyed most in Tokyo actually. You should be there around 9.00 when they open.

The view
You have to see Tokyo from some kind of viewing spot, it looks great from above. I did it from Mori Tower in Rappongi Hills. The ticket there also included a ticket to the Art museum,  worth a visit.

Koishikawa kourakuen
Great Japanese garden. There are many, but this one has less tourists, I liked it very much. 

Electric Town
Geek or not, Electric Town is a great way to experience the other part of the teenage culture, the geeky part. The area has buildings filled with Anime and games and the largest electronics shop I have ever been to (loved it).

I also visited Ginza, another shopping area, but I didn't like it that much. But for shopping you should also check out Tokyu Hands and Loft, where you will find tons of things you didn't know existed. Asakusa was another nice area, but the Imperial Palace was not very impressing.

 

Other stuff - Nice to know about Tokyo:

  • Walk! You might have heard that Tokyo is to big, that you can't walk around, but you can. For example from Shibuya via Yoyogi park to Harajuku. You always see more when walking. 
  • Transportation: When you are not walking, take the metro. It works fine. But I never really understood the ticketing system, there are so many systems. But the guards were always very understanding when I made a mistake (guess they are used to it). Taxi is also ok, but bring the street name in Japanese, the nicely dressed taxi drivers with white glows doesn't speak English, but they have gps. 
  • Money: My Visa card only worked in very few cash machines so if you find an international one like Citybank, make sure you get money there. But you can pay with your card most places.
  • Language: Their knowledge of English is very poor, so be prepared. The hotels are normally ok, but not all restaurants and you will often only find the menus in Japanese and maybe pictures of the dishes. So you just have to point and hope for the best:) And all the street names etc. are in Japanese so you will use more time navigating.  

There you go - my take on Tokyo. Please add a comment if you have others tips for travellers.

And - just go with the flow, enjoy it, throw away your map and get lost. You will never be bored in Tokyo.

Shibuya crossing

Shibuya crossing

At the fish marked

At the fish marked


For your bucket list - Helicopter over Manhattan

A helicopter ride over Manhattan, New York should definitely be on your bucket list. One of the coolest thing I have ever done.

Just being in a helicopter is a pretty cool feeling and seeing New York that close from the air was just great. Yes, New York is also my favorite city in the world.

It's easy to, there are several companies offering trips from lower Manhattan. We used Liberty Helicopter, it was very effective and a good experience, but I'm pretty sure the other companies are pretty much the same. The price is around USD 150 for a 15 minute tour (you don't need more). 

Just make sure you take the time to look around you and not take pictures all the time:) Some pictures from when I did it.