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2 days in Oslo, Norway

So today is the first day of my two week trip around Europe. I’ll be visiting five new countries and the first stop being Oslo! So far, I would say there’s a lot of greenery (considering it’s a city) and a very peaceful vibe.

Eating out in Oslo I’ve found Oslo to be rather expensive. Especially the price of food, both in supermarkets and eating out. I found that if you walk slightly away from the city centre, down the smaller side streets you can find restaurants that are slightly more affordable if you’re on a budget. When finding somewhere to eat, there’s so much to choose from. Small cafés selling sweet treats as well as savoury items, curry houses, all sorts of Asian cuisine, American diners and of course local cuisine. (personally, I make sure I only eat the local cuisine) I found their portion sizes to be pretty small. Whilst ordering lunch in a small restaurant, the waitress recommended ordering two dishes per person if you have a big appetite!

Sights worth seeing would be The Royal Palace and grounds. There’s a long promenade filled with restaurants etc. that leads up to the palace. Before, reaching the palace, you walk past the palace park, ‘Slottsparken’ owned by the royal family. There are over 2000 trees there that were planted in the 1800s! The palace was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of King Charles III of Norway. ‘Rådhuset’. Oslo’s city hall. It was built over 20 years in the early 1900s, with an interruption during the Second World War. Another amazing sight to see, is the Akershus Fortress. A medieval castle. Today, it’s used as a military base as well as a museum open for the public. Built in the late 1200s. The Oslo Opera House is also a must-see. The architecture is incredible. It’s home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. The unique angled exterior surfaces of the opera house are covered with marble and white granite. It was built in 2007.

‘Skagen’. A traditional Norwegian-style open sandwich. The topping was smoked salmon, shrimps, boiled egg with mayo and dill. As well as a Norwegian craft beer!

3 Days in Auckland on a Tailor-Made Itinerary

So for those of you that don’t know, Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and is based around two large harbours. I had read recently, that it’s often been listed as one of the most liveable cities in the world!

So depending on your travel plans/tailor-made itinerary, you may find that sometimes you only have a limited amount of time in a particular city. I’ve found it’s so important to plan your time well and be super organised! Here are a few tips on really utilising your time when exploring a new city!

  • Have a rough time plan. For example, write time notes on your itinerary: ‘9:30am: finish breakfast and head to the nearest subway station’. I understand that some of you may prefer to be a little more spontaneous but bare with me…this is all about being organised and really utilising your time!
  • Plan meal times in advance. I find it’s important to do this as otherwise it’s easy to spend ages wandering around a city looking for somewhere to eat (we’ve all been there). So have a plan! If you’re on a budget, you may decide to pack a sarnie for lunch and eat ‘on-the-go’. Or if you plan to eat out, have a rough idea of where you’ll be around lunchtime (for example, you may be touring the ‘green district’ at that time) and have a list of a few cafés/restaurants nearby you think you’d like to dine in. Based on my past experiences, it saves a lot of time! And with the Google Maps App etc. it’s so easy to do! For those of you who haven’t already downloaded the Google Maps App (or something similar)…do it! Whether you’re trying to find a particular restaurant or hotel etc. it’s a real life-saver.
  • Don’t go back on yourself. Be sure when planning what you want to do that you take a circular route. Again, Google Maps is really useful for planning your route. First, have your list of destinations that you want to visit ready. Then, when you type them into Google Maps, (for this, I actually prefer to use my laptop as it’s easier to see on a bigger screen!) you’ll be able to see where they are in relation to your accommodation. This is when you can start typing your chosen destinations into Google Maps, and it’ll plan a circular route. It may be that some of the route you have planned is ‘walkable’ and some is based on public transport. So depending on how active you are, you’ll have to plan this accordingly!

Now, for what I got up to in Auckland…

I visited Albert Park (that was laid out in the 1800’s!). You walk (a steep climb!) along the footpaths lined with native trees until you reach a large flat area scattered with neat flower beds and a water foundation in the centre…pretty and peaceful!

I spent a few hours at the ‘Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’. I love art so I could always spend hours in pretty much any art gallery/museum! Most of the art was from New Zealand and Pacific artists but also a fair amount of work from international artists (quite a bit being from Europe).

After touring the art gallery, I had lunch at the ‘Scarecrow’ (right by Albert Park). An urban farmers market and neighbourhood café. I sat outside. Of course, it was a hot, sunny day! I ordered the ‘Shakshuka’. Known as a North African dish, it consists of soft eggs baked on top of spiced tomato and served with pide. Absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommended this quaint café if you’re ever in Auckland!

I also spent some time exploring the waterfront area as well as, walking along the long stretch of promenade that leads to Auckland Harbour Bridge. I learned whilst exploring, there’s the ‘Viaduct Harbour/Basin’ (mostly upscale apartments, offices and restaurants) which is on the waterfront. Then, there’s the Wynyard Quarter on the Waitematā Harbour (the western edge of the waterfront) that is a base for fishing and ship building.

At the waterfront, I found a nice outdoor seafood restaurant to sample their fish and chips. The fish tasted so fresh and the batter was crispy and seasoned well. Another delicious meal!

I would definitely recommend visiting the ‘Sky Tower’ in Auckland. The entrance fee allows you access to two observation floors, the other floors are mostly restaurants etc. With 360-degree views of the city, you can take some great photos and just admire the view!

Disclosure: Just a friendly reminder that this article is based on my own experiences. I have not been paid to write this post.

Coffee Crawl in Glenelg Beach, Adelaide

Adelaide sure seems to like its coffee! Where I’m staying in Glenelg Beach, there are so many cafés/coffee houses. So, it seemed only fair to sample a few. First was Gloria Jeans Coffee…an Australian franchise. This was on my first day and I had an iced latte and a sautéed mushroom, mozzarella and tomato panini. The service and food were great. Although, I think franchises can feel a little impersonal sometimes (the décor etc.), I felt a bit like a typical Starbucks.

Whilst touring the city centre of Adelaide, I stopped by an outdoor café (can’t remember the name) for iced coffee (with a generous amount of Chantilly cream) and a coffee éclair. Caffeine overload! Although, when touring the city in 30oc heat, a ‘pick-me-up’ is necessary!

After a busy day touring the city centre, the following day was a bit more relaxed…a beach day! A took a walk along the beach mid-morning and stopped by a beachfront café called the ‘Broadway Kiosk’. I walked up to the counter and spent quite a while choosing a cake…there were so many to choose from! I decided to go for the traditional carrot cake and of course, another iced coffee. This particular iced coffee had a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream in it…rather decadent! I find some cafés/coffee houses leave their cake in the display counter for days and days until it tastes completely stale! But this carrot cake was moist and not too sweet…just right!

I would say in general, I can be quite particular about which coffee house/café I choose to eat/drink in…I go to enough of them to distinguish between a good and a bad one! So over-all, Adelaide/Glenelg Beach definitely gets a ‘thumbs-up’ from me with their many cafés!

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