Exploring Oslo, Norway: Den Norske Opera & Ballett, Opera House

Opera House is at very close proximity at the harbor . It’s angled, white exterior looks low its rising from the wage. Climbing the roof is fun on its own, not to mention the panoramic views of Oslo and fjord, at all seasons.

And of course, our traveling family climbed up and enjoyed the sunset and the view!

Oslo’s Opera House in Spring!
The panoramic view of Oslo City seen from the top of Opera House

The opera is designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, and has received several prestigious awards. The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet offers a rich and varied programme from three stages: The Main House (1369 seats), Second House (400 seats) and the Studio (200 seats). The Opera roof and foyer are also used for concerts. 

Climbing up and down Oslo’s Opera House is an adventure in itself!

Enjoying the view of artistic glass sculpture “She Lies” from Oslo’s Opera House.

This art installation lies in the water just beside the Opera House; it’s axis turns with the wind and tide. Like the Opera House, unique experiences is guaranteed every time.

She splits! With the view of Oslo’s New Harbor Promenade

We have yet to visit the inside of the Opera House. There are tours available. Large-scale windows at street level provide the public with glimpses of rehearsals and workshop activities. The building’s interior is mainly oak, and the main hall is shaped like a horseshoe, reminiscent of classical theatres of the past.

Wishing, thinking of watching a performance in the Opera House during our visit to Oslo this time around. Any recommendations?

Advertisements

Exploring Oslo, Norway: Food Trucks

 

So you think Norway is expensive? Maybe. Maybe not.

In Oslo, yes, dining in is expensive. With the tax added in plus the table fee, of course, we think it is insanely expensive.

However, eating in Oslo (or in Norway, in general) doesn’t have to be expensive.

Case in point, food trucks! With food trucks, there are a lot of relatively cheaper food options with greater quality at accessible and convenient locations.

The lower operation cost of food truck industry while providing high quality service and food options may be the most obvious rationale why there are a lot of food trucks in Oslo. The perfect choice for travellers looking for quick-stop convenient access to food without the super excessive cost!

Staying in Aker Brygge area, these are the food trucks available with the view.
Good Mood Street Food Truck

Good mood

Is there any truck cooler than this? Rock and roll! 

 

Tonio’s Donuys& Churros
Putting the price out there, just in case you guys want to treat us to a Churros and Kaffe! 

 

Late afternoon, these 4-5 food trucks will line up and open right at the Promenade leading to Aker Brygge. Perfect for hungry stomachs craving dinner/ snack/ very late lunch after exploring/ doing business/ enjoying Oslo city!

Food truck paradise during afternoon!
Asian Fusion on Wheels
Italian Street Food and Catering

Streets of Bangkok

#GoGrilla

Stay tuned. We are  still in Oslo, Norway for ten days or so  and really intend to hunt more food trucks! If you are also in the city and knows of food trucks to check out, give us a shout out!

 

Exploring Oslo, Norway: Akershus festning, Akershus Fortress

“Si vis pacem, para bellum”

“Let him who desires peace prepare for war.”

The Norwegian Military Academy (Krigsskolen)

The Akershus Fortress was built to protect Oslo and had successfully survived many attempted sieges, most of them from Swedish forces.

Fast forward to present date, the central location of the Akershus Fortress makes it the number one tourist landmarks in Oslo. The city’s landscape with the sea view can give anybody and calming and relaxing experience.

Akershus festning or the Akershus Fortress was built in the late 1290s under King Haakon V.

The fortress protects the fabulous medieval castle completed in 14th century, in its strategic location at the tip of the headland.

The fortress close proximity to the sea played a strategic naval power in protecting the interests of early Norwegian trade which was mainly sea-based during the period.

The fortress has also bee used as a prison and now houses The Norwegian Resistance Museum.

The Norwegian Military and Armed Forces still in operation in the fortress, playing around with the fortress defense “attack cannons” was then main thing to do for our peace-loving little travellers.

And his command — attack!! So much for peace 😄

All those things, above all, the view and family bonding in a relaxed setting!

The view is majestic, to say the least. The landscape, the luxury cruises and yachts make the Oslo horizon perfect when viewed from the fortress.

That medieval feel to the gate!

With this fortress gate, those Swedish invasions never stood a chance!

Dating from 1299, this medieval castle and royal residence developed into a fortress in 1592 and was rebuilt into a renaissance castle between 1637 and 1648.Akershus Castle today contains banquet halls, the Royal Mausoleum and the government’s reception rooms, and its small, historic church is the home of the royal sarcophagi.Norwegian name: Akershus slott

The medieval castle is perfect for our knight-loving traveling little man. Just see how proud he looks by the castle entrance.

The medieval castle serves as the Mausoleum for Norwegian Royalties including King Sigurd I, King Haakon V, King Haakon VI, Queen Eufemia, King Olav V and Crown Princess Martha.

Knowing the actual royalties are buried in the castle, somehow, makes it cooler for our traveling boy!

Not to mention, real live knights protecting the castle! Well, live knights – yes! Real? Am they are working towards being awesome knights by practice, not by being anointed.

Truth be told, we chance upon the knights club practicing in the castle square which took up most of our time exploring the medieval castle and it was very well worth it. Watching the knights in semi-costume fight is amusing in itself.

“Real” love knights in action with the two kids watching intently.

Exploring Akershus Fortress easily took a full day for us. Top with ice cream after, it was a perfect family day in Oslo, Norway!

Love knights and medieval castle? Consider exploring Oslo’s Akershus festning or the Akershus Fortress!

Kvæfjordkake, The Best Cake in the World is from Norway

 

How do we prepare for travel?

By baking the country’s popular pastry! This time around, as we can’t contain our excitement for Norway, the traveling dad baked us no less than the world’s best cake!

Kvæfjordkake is popularly referred to as ‘the world’s best’. The key ingredients are  meringue, vanilla cream and almonds. This sponge cake is known and enjoyed throughout Norway and can be considered as Norway’s national cake.

Imagine fresh eggs white used to make the delectable, chewy, almost crispy, almond flavoured meringue. The fresh egg yolks are then used to make the sponge base and custard filling.

The key ingredient is eggs. The whites are used to make the crisp, chewy almond meringue, and the yolks to make both the sponge base and the custard filling.

The cake originates from Kvæfjord, an area close to Vesterålen and Lofoten in the north of Norway. Despite much of the area being mountains and fjords, it’s known for agriculture and farming, strawberries and eggs come in plenty!

So, how did our Kvæfjordkake  fair with actual cake we got from Drøbak ,Norway? Well, not far and it didn’t disappoint. We have the becoming of a great chef in Norway! Hospitality recruiters, hear ye! Hear ye!

 

Enter a caption
Kvæfjordkake, homemade in Qatar, our family homebase (2019)

 

Our family’s first taste of Kvæfjordkake in Drobak, Norway pasty shop! 
The FACE says it all – yummylicious!
Kvæfjordkake, The World’s Best Cake indeed!

 

Have you tried Kvæfjordkake? Well, did that slice of heaven live up to the hype?

Drøbak, A Pearl By The Oslo Fjord

One fine day from Oslo, after the Constitution Day, off we went for a day trip to enjoy  the impression of Norway’s most northerly “Southern” town. Drøbak is one of the Oslo fjord’s historic summer resorts, popularly known as A Pearl By The Oslo Fjord.

Feeling a little gloomy in Oslo weather… so off we went to a day trip!

Drøbak is situated at the narrowest point of the Oslo Fjord. From about the middle of the 1700s and onward, this tiny coastal hamlet developed into small town, supported by the timber industry and shipping. The town obtained its  own Trading Charter rights in 1842, prior to this it was controlled by Christiana (Oslo).  From 1850 until 1900 the export of fresh water ice to the Continent and England was very important trade. Drøbak may be a typical small town they have capitalized on industries and Nordic models (which our family thinks work!) but as we see this town now, is a pearl city with a fantastic view.

Drøbak may mean “Drøye bakke” in Norwegian words which literally means — for a man and his horse– an every lasting hill, a hill that drags on and on.

Drøbak was also used as an outer port for Oslo. In the days of sailing vessel the inner regions of the Oslo fjord were often frozen during the winter months and ships were unable to reach the city. The water around Drøbak was ice-free  for most of the year. Cargo intended for the capital, Oslo, would then be returned back in Drøbak and transported over-land and the frozen fjord by horse-drawn sledges. Some of the ships that were registered in Olso were often laid up for the winter in Drøbak in order to be rapidly commissioned at the start of the new freight season. Ships were laid up at the Kaholmene (Oscarsborg) and in Vindfangerbukta (literally means,”Catch the wind bay.”)

The Turknoys  very happy expression by the Drøbak port! 

 

The Tourist Information Office in Drøbak recommends three walking tour in the pearl island.

Recommended Tour 1 – The Whisper of history, the rumble of war.

Recommended Tour 2- Bathing Huts and Artists

Recommended Tour 3 – Hills, Commons and Quays

From the tour titles alone, we can infer that that this pearl city island has everything to offer! We’ve done a mix  and match of tours at our leisure and we had a blast.

All tours start from the Tourist Information Office  withe the view of this marina.

The Marina where all the fun starts  exploring Drobak

Starting our family walk from the harbour, which was established early in the  1920s, passing through Fiskerkroken between small wooden houses from 1700s to 1800s.  The first building standing so beautifully we saw when we arrived at the market  is the Julenissens postkontor- the post office of Santa Claus right after admiring the town’s library. (we love love books!) The library is built in the style of the late 1700s, with a rococo curve  to the roofline and with a Louis XVI main door opening to the market place.

Behind the tiny park with the statue of a fisherman catching a famous Drøbak cod is Tregaardens Julehus which was originally a chapel and now the House of Christmas where the festive season of Christmas can be experienced all year round.

The market is  the centre point of Drøbak which was renewed by world renowned architects, Snøhetta, way  back in 1977. Life in the market square seems to be very active despite being in the spring season when we visited. There are cafes in the center wherein beautiful classic Norwegian houses can be seen. Along Storgaten, we noticed a merchant’s house from 1800, which was a secondary school for many years and prior to that, a hotel. It has been in the possession of ship owners, timber merchants and exporters of ice as well as the Consul for The Netherlands, Henry Parr Samuelsen.

Julenissens postkontor- the post office of Santa Claus
Behind the tiny park with the statue of a fisherman catching a famous Drøbak cod is Tregaardens Julehus which was originally a chapel and now the House of Christmas where the festive season of Christmas can be experienced all year round
The Library and the Old Merchant House – classic!
There’s always time to read at the town’s library
Timber Classic and Norwegian Houses ❤️
Timber Classic and Norwegian Houses – this is actually someone’s house! Fabulous
We got lost in the town, and drool over houses!
Timber Classic and Norwegian Houses ❤️

The large timber merchant houses are good illustrations of how Drøbak  was built; a centrally placed main house surrounded by smaller  buildingsfor the labourers, the sawmill staff and sea-farers. We know that in 1800, these properties were comprised of several buildings. In addition to the main house, there was an outhouse for the stable  boys and there were stalls, pigsties and boatsheds, in all, some 12 buildings. Bankløkka, the large open area towards the church, was pasture and gardens belonging to the property. According to the people of Drøbak, Christian Magnus Falsen drafted the Norwegian Constitution in this house.

Kirkegatan (Church Street) with its avenue of trees which, when they were cut down provoked  public outcry but fortunately they were re-planted again in 2013. The avenue leads to the town’s church, built in 1776. The writing above the door informs us that the entire building was a gift from Niels Carlsen, a merchant and a shipowner, and his wife, Martha Zacharuasdatter. This is one of the only churches in Norway donated to a community by a husband and wife. The  interior is very interesting. The altar board has the same motive as the altar board in Our Saviour’s Church in Oslo. A curiosity worth noting is that the church clock has only one hand.

Drøbak Church

A bust of Niels Carlsen is situated close by, in the garden, by the path. Niels  Carlsen (1734- 1809) was a rich businessmen and one of the country’s most powerful shipowners at the end of 17001s. He owned a large part of the property along the seafront as well as the small islands where Oscarsborg fort is now situated.  He was the district’s most powerful and important citizen and benefactor, and demonstrated this by, among other things, his donation of the church.

The inscriptions over both the main door and the entrance to the north door tell us much about the spirit of times. The Carlsen family grave is a plot raised above the other graves in the churchyard.

By the church an entrance to Badeparken (Bathing Park), an area of smooth rock,  paths and beaches for swimming and walking.In the park, we can see the old bath house  from the time when there was a very active spa situated in the park. It was then possible to  have a Roman bath or a mud bath or other facial treatments. Here, as in other places along the coasts, efforts were made to attract visitors and develop tourism at the time when sailing ships had to give way to steam-driven vessels and the timber trade and export of ice were no longer the same importance.

Some small distance to the east of the church is a characteristic square, wooden building that was also a donation to the community from the Carlsen family. It is called Drøbak Hospital, and a board over the main entrance (facing east) tells us of the donor’s intention for the house, for the benefit of impoverished widows.) This became the town’s first Old Peoples’ Home, but today, it is used by the church and for Senior Citizen activities such as canteen, a hairdresser, a chiropodist and numerous hobby activities and contact personnel for senior citizens.

In the middle of the park  is the statue of Colonel Birger Eriksen. It  was he who gave the order to open fire on the German cruiser, “Blucher,” on 9th April 1940. The statue of  the Colonel shows him gazing out across the fjordto  his fortress form where the cruiser sunk. This action helped to delay the German occupation of Norway by one whole day, making it possible for members of the government and the king himself to escape Oslo and avoid being taken prisoner by the Germans.

 

The view of the Colonel
In the middle of the park  is the statue of Colonel Birger Eriksen
Remnants of war aside, the view is majestic!
Beautiful houses, beautiful flowers! Drøbak is gorgeous!

As we step out onto the breakwater with the view, we passed a bronze statue  of three very attractive mermaids, a work by a local painter and sculptor Reidar Finsrud.  Returning from our walk from the mermaids scuptures, we keep being amused by the gorgeous collection of small houses surrounding the small strip of coasts that many years ago was used for fishing boats (1750 – 1850)!

a bronze statue  of three very attractive mermaids — a work by a local painter and sculptor Reidar Finsrud

Would you  like to explore Drøbak  like we did? The Pearl By The Oslo Fjord… a stone’s throw way from Oslo. Well, figuratively of course. 

Norway Day is 17th May!

Norway is our 13th Country to visit – since then, we’ve come back for more and more and more… if we could sum up why we love this country this much, it’s because of this day – May 17.

We celebrated May 17 in Oslo. The highlight of the day is NOT a military parade but more than 60,000 children, most of them in marching bands, with Norwegian flags or in their national costumes. What a fantastic parade to watch!

We’re very excited to observe the Constitution Day Parade – combination of lots of flag, children, ice cream and fun!

Norway is a the ONLY country celebrating anything “National” without the need to show the strength of their military capabilities. They don’t need to. A confident, rich, beautiful person who made it in the world, doesn’t need to flash their big, gigantic, enormous, uummmhhmm, expensive properties to show that they indeed “made it big!” Such is a Norway-no-military parade analogy.

It may not that be, but it’s a big worldschooling lesson for kids.

That and mainly, children being the “hope” of the nation – not military.

Ben & Jerry said so…

PEACE, LOVE and ICE CREAM

A country who values children and ice cream over power and might says a lot!

Although, of course, there are also the traditional magnificent bunads everywhere today, the loyalty towards tradition is also important. Roots before wings, right?

Beautiful ladies, their bunads and our Turknoy little ladies

If those are not enough reason to include Norway’s Constitution Day in your travel bucket-list, there’s diversity! You have to be there to experience the common love and respect towards anybody. It’s a great feeling!

It’s today! #May17 and we’re in #Norge again! Don’t know which day it is? It’s only the Constitution Day, Norway Day, #IceCream Day, Flag Day, Hotdog Day, Parade Day, Children’s Day. It’s a big deal around here! ❤️ 🇧🇻️AND AND AND .. International Day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia! Could this day get any better?! #equality #constitutionday #familytravel #familyvalues

It’s not your ordinary parade to watch, trust us. We’ve never seen such a diverse, big crowd so organized and so calm. That in itself is something to show the kids that an organized national event is completely possible, admirable and loveable! Our hearts are warm with happiness being able to observe events in this Norway Day celebration (2019!)

Would you like to observe Norway’s Constitution Day one fine May 17? 🇳🇴❤️

COUNTRY 35: ICELAND, Really… Inspired By Iceland!

“þetta reddast”- Icelandic wisdom which means, it will work out okay. (Of course, it will – all the time!)

As the cliche goes, If we’d  learnt one thing from traveling, it was the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them… and add  in that Icelandic wisdom… “IT WILL WORK OUT OKAY!)

So, how do we write about our one-month experience in Iceland  which turns out to be  THE BEST and THE MOST EXCITING family adventure we had, to date, in one single post?

Iceland is the  35th  Country out of our 100 Country Goals, the only “new”country  for us for 2018 – where the mom celebrate her 40th  birthday, dad’s 42nd and their 10th wedding anniversary! Out there in the very  cold summer breeze of Iceland, out in the wild. With only the the three kids, camping tent, winter clothes and blankets. More than enough to realize that “Life” indeed begins.. very happily!

I wish I can tell the stories of our adventures quite elaborately, comprehensively and articulately. But I really can’t. There were mostly moments that we take pictures, make sure it’s capture (albeit barely) and we’ll unplug and  be with Iceland nature, be with each other… be in moments with  each other together in perfectly inspiring  Iceland.

 

Jökulsárlón-Glacier Lagoon – the place we  used to associate with James Bond now has a totally new meaning…  “Tomorrow says the lazy.”- Icelandic Proverb 
“Tomorrow Never Dies “- James Bond 
Tomorrow… tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow! 

Powerful, magnificent falls and hopefully-not-so active and yes, magnificent volcanoes are mainly the stopovers during the drive around the Ring Road. We stopped sometimes were tourists stopped depending on the queue and the kids  momentum about  exploring!

 

Our Iceland Trip Highlights in bullet points – we  don’t recommend that families take this as guide -we went around Iceland with carefree, spontaneous, adventurous spirits -no  exact plans, no notes whatsoever and we didn’t want to stop!

Vestur til Suðurlands (West to South Iceland)

 

Gulfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Skógafoss

And lots and lots of Puffin Watching and stalking!

Suður til Austurlands

✅ Jökulsárlón-Glacier Lagoon

✅ Endless waterfalls along scenic snowy mountains to glaciers and icebergs in lakes to ocean! Oh ha! Stunning and breathtaking!

Norður-Austurland

 Almost Permanent Rainbow and the most powerful falls in Europe, Delfoss and Selfoss

 Myvatn Nature Baths and lots and lots of bloopers!

 Artic Ocean Wildlife – seals stalking and whale watching!

Norðurland til Vesturlands

 More waterfalls every 15 minutes road trip! ☺️

 

 Godafoss (and the history of beginning of Christianity in Iceland!)

 Leif Ericson’s birthplace (and a lot of real facts about explorers!)

 More waterfalls 😋

 Jules Verne’s entrance to the Centre of the Earth

 Lots of authors books and literature

 Way more family bonding and laughters we will forever treasure! ❤️

Reyjavík, Ísland
✅ Hallgrimskirkja
✅ Lots of delicious fish and cheap 

 

Volcano crater, let’s put some science into our adventures!

There are consequences in traveling to this beautiful, modern and isolated country island. It made us question a lot of countries’ political and economic realities.  “Resource Curse” is real for most geographies blessed with natural resources and gorgeous landscapes. But Iceland- what have they done? Everything seems to be prospering – farming, tourism, energy utilization, gender equality?  Thinking about Iceland  makes our family pause for these questions we have yet to fully answer!

All that powerful energy of waterfall, we invite into our traveling and dreaming family..ooommmmmm

Iceland

Leif Ericson’s birthplace (and a lot of real facts about explorers!) maybe the highlight of our trip – explorers love to learn about explorers

 

Of course, trolls– stories, monuments and real ones — all over the islands! 

 

þetta reddast.