Lillehammer, UNESCO City of Literature

There is nothing noble in being superior to your frown man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ” – quote by Ernest Hemingway

Being superior to your former self, exactly what Hemingway quoted, is what we have taken away from Lillehammer with its extreme love for literature, books and written word. There’s a sense on ownership in all literature events we observe happening in the Lillehammer; an ownership that feels everybody involved in their own confident world.

One fine Saturday we visited, the Literature Festival, Norsk Litteraturfestuval, is being celebrated and there were a lot of book readings and discussions with authors almost at every buildings. We visited the Public Library and there’s an ongoing event with an author, a great event to have observed, while browsing the library, even though the discussions were in Norwegian.

This festival, the Norwegian Festival of Literature is the biggest of its kind in the Nordics. Words is the main weapon to stir emotions and provoke actions in this Festival.

Lillehammer is one of Norway’s most important cultural centers and has a status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Lillehammer is one of Norway’s most important cultural centers and has a status as a UNESCO City of Literature
Town Center, Lillehammer, Norway 🇳🇴
There’s always time to stop exploring and read books… so yeah, never stop exploring!

Lillehammer is a charming town at the entrance to the Gudbrandsdalen valley. Coming from Oslo, it’s a huge change of scenery from buzzing wide streets to picturesque pedestrian streets; from high dense of people to not so much, having only 27,000 inhabitants.

After exploring the town and it’s literature events, we head on to Maihaugen Open- Air Museum, a blissful environment depicting how it is to live a life like it was the old days with the Viking.

The Maihaugen Open Museum has more than 200 historic houses and buildings as far back as the 13th century to the present day.

We have visited houses from each decade during the 20th century. We also visited the childhood residence of Norway’s Queen Sonja.

Maihaugen and Norges Postmuseum
A magnificent landscape, a village with a view! ❤️
Maihaugen is a feel good experience where history is brought to life!
Behind us is the oldest church in Norway in Maihugen

Lillehammer fanatic – the place and the Netflix
show 🤗

Quick Triva: Lillehammer is the location of the American-Norwegian television series in Netflix, Lilyhammer. Our traveling dad watches this.. for travel planning purposes. It’s semi-crime, semi-comedy series set in Norway, what’s not to watch?

What a fantastic spot for kids looking back and knocking on the generations past.

We also experienced Norway’s important postal history at the Norwegian Postal Museum at Maihaugen.

Norwegian Postal Museum at Maihaugen.

Storgata, lined with idyllic wooden houses, provides the framework for a modern and friendly shopping experience and an experience already in its own right. We were able to shop for some very expensive brand at very low prices, a.k.a we visited a semi-flea market as it is in a fancy shop.

Hoarding on books from UNESCO City of Literature at Storgata, Lillehammer

The train view

We could easily fill this blog with lots of train view as we took a loads of photos. The lake view, the fields and mountains views, the houses and landscapes views – everything seems to have come out of a perfect masterpiece.

The train back and forth form Oslo to Lillehammer has jaw dropping view we didn’t want the journey to end 🇳🇴

Did we give you enough reasons to visit Lillehammer? Hope we did.

Exploring Oslo, Norway: Det kongelige slott, Royal Palace

“I think the main task in life we all have received, is to become the best version of ourselves, no matter how difficult life can be. ” King Harald V of Norway

Det kongelige slot, or simply, Slottet is the royal residence home to HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja. Slottet is located at the top of Karl Johans gate, completed in 1849.

The Royal Palace Park surrounds the palace on all sides and features grassy areas, majestic trees, small ponds and statues. These grassy ares are perfect for a quick picnic/ hanging out in front of the castle while admiring the majestic neo-classical style with the facade of stuccoed brick.

Great fond memories in front of His Highness home residence

The building is in neo-classical style with a facade of stuccoed brick, and was completed in 1849.
Our prince and the Royal Palace

Beyond hanging out during sunny days (or any cold days!) there are tours in summer, changing of guards every 1:30pm and service in the Palace Chapel every Sundays at 11am.

Our family believes the King Harald of Norway is THE coolest monarch. He is a champion sailor; he represented his country three times in Olympic Games; he support all genres and religions.

Not so long ago, he quoted Love Actually, in comparing Norway with United Kingdom,

“We may be a small country, but we’re a great one…”

He is certainly has more right to state this than Hugh Grant.

If you don’t think that is way too cool for a monarch, you should hear the love story between King Harald and Queen Sonja.

Once upon a time in 1950s…. so the real fairy tale starts King Harald saw a commoner, love at first sight, chased after her, courtship of nine years! King Olav V disapproves of the Prince not marrying another royalty from Sweden, a country of alliance. They defied all odds and eventually got married and live happily ever after ruling a great country… making it greater every day…

It’s a lot better than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s story, right?!

Hanging out at The Royal Palace Park
the top of Karl Johans gate is the a Royal Palace

Obviously, lots of positive energy around The Royal Palace that our family wishes to absorb. And really, it’s a fine place to visit!

Don’t miss passing through The Royal Palace when in Oslo, Norway!

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?

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?

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.

Road Trip In Colorado With Kids

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way! “ – Dr. Seuss 



Ohhh my! Time flies when we our family is on our goal realization/ exploring mode. It seems ages ago when we left Omaha, Nebraska on an overnight train to Denver, Colorado. 

In Denver, we have walked the nostalgia lane with the Turknoy Dad as he reminisced his good old days as a working bachelor in the city. Has it been eleven years already since he left US just to meet the Turknoy Mom? Gosh, are we on some time warp speed loop?! ❤️

After two days in Denver, meeting old friends and enjoying Denver Children Museum, off we went for a road trip around Colorful Colorado! And indeed, it was a colorful road trippin’. 
First road trip in the USA and off we passed by State Highway 5, the highest paved road in Road America. What a scenic route it is towards Mr. Evans with an  altitude 14,264 feet (4,347 m)! 

This traveling couple has their kids as photographer! At Independence Pass. Freeeeeeeee!!!

Aspen, Colorado

We head on to Aspen, Colorado hoping for fall foliage. We got that and way more, four seasons! We arrived in Aspen in a very gorgeous fall weather, and woke up to several inches of snow in the morning, summer-y mid-morning, spring in the afternoon and fall again in the afternoon. 
The snow didn’t stop us from hiking the Maroon Bells. The most photographed peaks in North America, so we’ve read. 

We also experienced our first family snowy hike, up to the Maroon Crater Lake. It took us more than two hours to hike up the Crater Lake, barely few minutes before the sunset. We were the last one on the Crater Lake, it feels extravagantly majestic and terrifying at the same time. The kids needed to answer nature’s call, figuratively and literally. After the pee-pp and the family selfie almost every corner of the lake, we had to rush to go back down. We made it in the dark, using our mobile phone as flashlights, of course, not without scary stories and grateful fun ramblings from all of us. 
We have blisters in our feet, and the fantastic traveling dad carried our youngest traveller/ hiker up his shoulder almost all the way! Such strength. We didn’t tell anyone that adventure with young kids is easy, right? It’s worth it, but nothing worth it comes easy,  right? 

 

Four seasons within 24-hour in Aspen, Colorado! This day is definitely going to one our favorite family memory.
“The highest place on Earth is a father’s shoulder!” We just got back home-based. Time to show Daddy’s shoulder some loving and rest. When we were in #Colorado for an extreme #fourseasonsinoneday #familytravel experience, we trekked the Maroon Lake Crater, up the #MaroonBells for more than 4-mile hike in snow day, with the youngest one up in Daddy’s shoulder!
The Turknoys and the Crater Lake And Maroon Bells! A perfect place and time to say Thank You God For All The Blessings with all our hearts together. Solemn, fun, sincere, full of love. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
 

The hiking we’ve done, the weather conditions, the challenges we’ve overcome will always be fondly and profoundly remebered. After all, this is what Turknoy Travels 100 is all about. It’s about realizing milestones we never even considered yet together because we are still part of the matrix of society’s rules. 

This father and some bonding moment is way too priceless, it could melt hearts. ❤️
Of course, after the adventure, we explored the very fancy city of Aspen, Colorado and off we went to two places we almost always go in any city we explore – bookstore and playground. If any city or town doesn’t have any of these, it’s really an indication of the village, isn’t it?   

The Explorers’ Bookstore in Aspen, Colorado
A Playground in Aspen, Colorado
Basalt , Colorado

Although we explored Aspen and Snowmass Billage quite extensively, we stayed the nights in a nearby city, almost one hour drive away from Aspen, Basalt. Basalt turned out to be a like Aspen, and better. Roaring Fork Valley is a river paradise for us. Basalt  sits at the confluence of two Gold Medal rivers, the Frying Pan River and the Roaring Fork River, which is Paradise!!!

Serenity, Peace, Calm … Basalt with Kids 😌
What do you know, our family adores rivers!



Vail, Colorado 

Known as “Little Aspen,” Vail, Colorado is another fancy, skiing and snowboarding, gorgeous, beautiful little town tucked away at the base of Vail Mountain within the White River National Forest. 

Vail, Colorado



Colorado Springs, Colorado

From West to South, we drove almost three hours to enjoy the magnificent landscapes of the Rocky Mountains to visit the Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs. A drive worth every minute. 

Road Trip In Colorado With Kids
Garden of The Gods
“My profession is to always find God in nature. ” #HenryDavidThoreau #Colorado #GardenoftheGods
Road trip with kids in Colorado? We’ll do it again in a heartbeat! 

Halloween Howl For Kids  in Burlington, Vermont 

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this may come. ” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth 

Wonder Woman / Amazon Woman/ Traveling Woman

Okay, the traveling parents caved in with the kids with regards to participating in a Halloween party while in USA. It’s not that we don’t celebrate Halloween. It’s not that  we agree that it’s anti- religion nor anti-God. It may be a country tradition but how we see it is more like a commercial manipulation while waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Bring on the pumpkins, the season spices, costumes and gazillion candies and the retailers had October and November sales covered. 
Boy, did we see how customers shopped and crammed getting the costumes. It’s part of what made us want to be part of it – better to experience it once, rather than be nagging on the edge of being bitter about it every year. So, off we celebrate Halloween, kids costumes, party and sweets! 
Shopping done At Party City

Having said that, we choose a free Halloween event and oh boy, did we enjoy.. and the kids, too! It’s a family event in a great weather with friendly awesome people by Lake Champlain. It’s a fabulous event.  We are very glad to joined. 
Halloween Howl in Burlington, Vermont is a spooktakular good time on a hay ride and wandering through the haunted walk with costume contest, music and games! 

Give it up to these spontaneous traveling parents – we planned attending the Halloween event early in the morning and attended late afternoon, not without a couple selfie 👫

Captain America with Dragon Slayer Ninja, Wonder Woman and Pink Power Rangers – Turknoy Travellers! 😘❤️
These traveling kids enjoying the scary walk along the park. Superheroes inside out!

Feels  like superheroes walking around in the park, the forest, by the lake and in bouncy castle, that’s one awesome afternoon spent in Burlington, Vermont. 

Nature and Halloween really goes together… with little bit of scare here and there, of course!
Turknoy Travels 100 in character for the day!
 

Our family members in character while  one in nature is a perfect way to celebrate   an awesome Halloween Howl in Burlington, Vermont.



What’s your Halloween plan? Do share Halloween traditions you do with your family