Norway – the best of

A week ago, we came back from the cold north that is Norway and were blown away by the astonishing landscapes and dreamy, wintery views. We will definitely be going back in summertime someday to see the great contrast. Because I’m all about spreading the joy, I thought I’d share my favourite bits and pieces, including photos, of our trip. We stayed in Oslo for four days and took the Oslo-Bergen railway to, you guessed it, Bergen, where we spent another 3 days before heading home.

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Things you shouldn’t miss

  • Oslo Operahus. It’s undeniably one of the city’s architectural masterpieces. Impressive in winter, with the frozen harbour, I can only imagine the grandiosity it must radiate in summer, when the roof is the best place to catch some of that sparse soleil.
  • Korketrekkeren. This translates to the English equivalent of “The Corkscrew”. It used to be a winter sport practice course, but is now open to everyone for… sledding! And it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in the snow for sure. You simply take Metro line 1 up till  Frognerseterveien, where you rent a sledge and helmet and off you go! And what’s even better is that you can take the metro back up at Midstuen and go again. Easy peasy.
  • Norsk Folkemuseum.  Although a bit chilly and slippery in winter, the peace and quiet of the outdoor museum and the colourful old houses make up for it. If you plan to go, try going on the weekends, when they have lots of activities going on, even in winter. We did some banana and chocolate grilling on the campfire.
  • Det Kongelige Slottet. The royal palace is located on a bit of a hill and offers a fantastic view over the main shopping streets and a beautiful park.

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Things you can skip

  • Vikingskipmuseet. Although the viking ships are impressive, you’ve pretty much seen everything the museum has to offer on their website. 100 NOK felt a little bit much for the size of the museum. A tourist trap, if you ask me.
  • Nasjonalmuseet. The museum itself is relatively big and provided me with an okay indoor visit, but you won’t be missing out much if you skip it.

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Places to eat

  • Gryn. A concept restaurant that specialises in porridge with typically Norwegian ingredients like brunost (brown cheese) as well as waffles (savoury and sweet). Great place for a quick lunch!
  • Munchies. With two places in Oslo, they are the best burger places. Quick, easy, delicious. Try the sweet potato fries.
  • Rent Mel. Although expensive, this pizza place next to a hotel, had a-ma-zing pizza’s. The best.
  • Taco Republica. This place has delicious taco options. You can mix and match to your liking. Make sure to book a table, though.
  • Retrolykke Kaffebar. The best place to try waffles with jelly and cream. The entire interior reminds of the 50s and 60s. I love the mismatched cutlery, cups and plates.
  • Liebling. A good place for lunch or coffee. Cozy and homey with plenty of space. Great pie. They also have a variety of colourful lattes.

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To shop

  • Norway Design. The best place for design. Also a stationary lover’s dream.
  • Ting. Cute little gadgets that you don’t need but desperately want anyways.
  • Glasmagasinet. Basically, you could’ve just left me here to live and I would’ve been perfectly happy. It’s like a dream for any design lover. They also have a fabulous Kicks department which is perfect for any make-up or skincare lover.

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Oslo – Bergen railway

A highlight of our trip was definitely the Oslo-Bergen railway. We had booked tickets 2 months in advance, which was the perfect time because that’s when you get the “minipris”, which is cheap tickets. You get to choose your seats and there is no hassle of checking in, just hop on. Bring plenty of snacks and reading or listening material because you are settling in for a 6 hour train ride. Things never get boring because after every tunnel, a new and magical scenery appears. Sit back, relax and enjoy (it’s easy).

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Bergen

Things you shouldn’t miss

  • Bryggen. The row of old Hanse houses is one colourful sight to say the least. If you’re lucky the sun will come out and the harbour view will be one to never forget. (Or very lucky, because apparently there’s 320 days of rain in Bergen!)
  • Fjord tour. You can simply not leave Bergen without exploring the fjords a bit more. Even in winter, there’s tours running. Although I’m pretty sure the Norway in a Nutshell tour is better (but our budget didn’t allow for it), we did the Mostraumen fjord tour. Nonetheless spectacular! We booked ours through Fjord Tours.
  • Fløibanen. Take up the funicular (with a 26 degree slope!) to Fløyen and you will be rewarded with an amazing view over the city and the harbour as well as the surrounding mountains. It’s when you realise why Bergen is called Bergen! If possible, go for a hike or a ski. We got stuck knee-deep in the snow, but had an enjoyable walk nonetheless. And the hot chocolate afterwards with that view is just the best.
  • Audhild Viken. An all-year-round Christmas shop. I didn’t know it was a thing, but I am so glad that it is! You’ll come out cheery, singing “Jingle Bells” in no time.

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Places to eat

  • Pingvinen. The best restaurant we went to for the entirety of the trip! Also very popular with the locals, which says a lot. They have daily specials, of which we tried the Plukkfisk and the Raspeballer. Typical Norwegian flavours assured.
  • Blom. If you’re looking for a strong, specialty coffee, Blom is the place to be. Clean, crisp, cozy.
  • Alléhjørnet Thai. Also very popular with the locals, we had some delicious pad thai at this place. Can’t go wrong.

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Where to sleep

  • Citybox Oslo. A very easy and new concept hotel. You do everything yourself: from check-in, payment to luggage storage and check-out. If you really need help or more towels, you can go to the management office, but we loved this hassle-free and easy stay. Also very close to the train station and the city centre!

 

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Next up…? I’ll leave that to be a surprise! :)

 

January ’18

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I rediscovered the fun in reading and am absolutely loving reading everywhere and anytime I can
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This bargain of a dress. Read about it here.
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Saw Alt-J live in concert in Vorst
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I won the bean in the Three Kings’ Cake ( a celebration on the 6th of January)
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Went to Brussels Jazz Festival at Flagey
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Ate pasteis de nata at Forcado
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Brought together a bunch of artists for a work project and had an inspiring and productive brainstorm
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Made some healthy breakfast cookies. Find the recipe here.
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My boyfriend opened a one evening restaurant just for me
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Brussels by night
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Visited the Engelenburcht for work
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Played Scrabble on a cold Sunday
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Some colour in the morning
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Chandeliers on a regular week day
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Made a refreshing walk in the park

My 6 favourite apps

    1. Pinterest

      I like to get inspired by looking atillustrations, fashion outfits, DIY tricks, last make-up trends and dreamy interiors on Pinterest. There’s nothing I like more than creating a board that hold everything I want my future house to look like or making up lists of things that I feel are missing from my closet or make-up collection. I feel like it’s the app that allow you to dream.

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    2. Goodreads
      As a book lover and list maker this app is a dream come true. It allows you to divide your book world in 3 different categories: Want to read ( a very long list), Have read, and Currently reading. I love this, because when I’ve finished a book, I can just check my ‘Want to read’ list and choose one that fits my mood. It’s also great to get inspired by friends and family because you can follow them and see what they’re reading and loving.

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    3. LaLaLab

      I  discovered this app a few years ago and have been using it every since. The app allows you to print photo’s and polaroids, make albums and wall decorations, but what I use the app most for is to send postcards! Whenever I’m travelling, I know my friends and family love a good old-fashioned post card, but I absolutely hate the hassle of buying the card, find stamps somewhere, finding a mail box, etcetera, etcetera. By the time you’ve done all that, you no longer feel like writing a long, elaborate description on the card and all it will say is “Sunny greetings”. No, this method is absolutely hassle-free: you pick a photo on your phone (so it’s personalised!), you add the text, add the address and your credit details and for only 2 euros, the card is sent. And the good news is, it only takes a little less than a week to get to its destination.

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    4. Calm

      Whenever I’m on the train or tram and  I’m too tired to read or I want to decompress from work, I get out the Calm app. It’s a meditation app that allows medidation from 3 minutes up to half an hour. So really, it doesn’t take up much time and it can make a world of difference in your mindset. You can choose different sounds and background that you find relaxing.

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    5. KBC mobile

      When it comes to financial organisation, I like doing things quick and efficiently. It’s how I pay all our bills. This app (or any other bank’s app, probably) helps do just that! It’s also really handy when you’re in store somewhere and you realise you don’t have enough money on your account and you can transfer money while you’re waiting in line. Aaah, the ease.

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    6. Yelp

      I find it really hard in a new city or country to know where the good places are to have a bite to eat or have a good piece of pie (you know me), but this app usually manages to find exactly what I’m looking for. The photo’s and ratings by other people are really handy to know what kind of place you’ve got on your hands. I know most people sometimes use a travel guide or tips and tricks from TripAdvisor or friends and family, but this app is really handy when you’re hungry RIGHT NOW, and you don’t want to be taking a bus across town, because it works with gps. Can you tell I get hangry sometimes? :) Foursquare is a good alternative too.

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2017 in hindsight

This year has been a year of change, both on personal and professional grounds. Not only did I move to a different city that was entirely new to me, Brussels, but I also moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend Gillian. Only a few days later, I started my first ever ‘real’ job. It’s been a year of finding balance between visiting family, catching up with friends and spending enough time with each other (because living together doesn’t automatically mean you get to talk or see each other a lot) as well as work obligations and finding time for myself (aka blogging).

It’s been a year of learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences, but I guess that’s what makes life so interesting. I’m pretty sure I’ll  learn even more in the year to come, and that makes me both excited and a little bit scared. But most things that are worth it, are a little bit scary. We already have an exciting trip planned and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Whenever I look back on a certain amount of time – a month, a year – I feel very blessed and full. When you’re so busy and very much in the moment, it’s nice to reflect and come to realise that you’ve experienced A LOT. It’s magnificent. Here’s some of my favourite moments from 2017. Let’s toast to many more…

In January I spent my last time solo travelling (for now) in Vienna (more photos over here) and realised that once you’ve found your partner in crime, travel buddy aka love of your life, it’ll never be the same. It’s also the month we moved into our first apartment together. I can’t describe it anything but chaotic bliss.

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In February, I spent the first full month working and really enjoying all the different office views. We also spent a wonderful weekend in Paris for Valentine’s day (more photos here).

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In March, I was reunited with my little sister, Pia, from Uruguay. We met when on exchange in Australia, where she became my host sister and have been friends ever since. Whenever we meet, no matter how long since the last time, it’s like we see each other every day. It was also the month Gillian and I bought our first car together.

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In April, I was surrounded by flowers and friends, a good combo. We took on swimming as a new hobby and it was also the month I donated over 20 centimetres of my hair to the Think Pink foundation, a change to say the least!

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May was all about taking it easy and exploring Brussels, which was exactly what I needed. We also took a little holiday to Lisbon in Portugal (more photos here) and life was simply perfect and perfectly simple.

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In June we took a weekent trip to the Belgian coast and we enjoyed everything from my birthday to the little things, and everything in between.

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In July I visited Pia during her exchange in Valencia and got a taste of real summer. More photos here.

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August was a busy month, but we managed to squeeze in a little weekend getaway to the Dutch regions, Zeeland and breathe in some of that salty sea air. More photos here.

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September was so busy that I focused most of my spare time on friends and family and didn’t have the proper time to record any of it.

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In October I spent a weekend with my girlfriends in the Ardennes and the weather was a-ma-zing.  Golden hour has never been so golden as that weekend. More photos here.

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In November my boyfriend and I took a long awaited vacation and spent our time travelling through two fantastic countries, Peru and Bolivia. You can read more about the trip by clicking on both countries.

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The final month of 2017 was spent in cozy corners with good company and great food, the way life should be. We enjoyed the warmth and comfort of our home and created our own bit of hygge.

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See you in the next year? :-)

Love,

Silke

December ’17

Quite unbelievable that this blog post is already the last one of this year in the monthly favourites category. Warning for this one: there’s a lot of Christmas related photos. :-)

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Doing the Christmas shopping together
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Sinterklaas making an unsuspected stop at our house
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Visiting the Christmas Market in Leuven
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Scoring these 5 books for the mere price of 5 euros at the travel book sale at work
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Soaking in the wintery atmosphere all around the city
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Decorating the Christmas tree with some holiday cheers in the background
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Admiring the result from the couch next to the makeshift fireplace
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Wearing ridiculous hats at the British Shop
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Drinking tea on a Sunday evening in my favourite mug
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Playing laser tag with the extended friends crew
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Not needing anything from IKEA but ending up needing everything from IKEA
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Pulling out the ugly Christmas sweaters and loving it
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Baking gingerbread cookies
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Admiring the Christmas light show at the Grand Place in Brussels
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Spending another Christmas in the company of good friends and crazy family with way too much food

Love,

Silke

Peru – the highlights

Last month, we spent some time travelling, and it was the best thing ever. My boyfriend and I went on a group tour to Peru and Bolivia with Koning Aap for 24 days. We came back enthused and with recharged batteries from another trip of a lifetime. Because people are curious and keep asking me what the best part was, here’s a round-up of the best bits (- warning! there’s a lot!).

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Tip! Take the Lonely Planet guide: it was our go to book for recommendations on nice area’s, markets and places to eat and it’s never disappointed us.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa

If you’re ever in Arequipa (2300m), this monastery is a must! This maze of little streets and houses is surprisingly cheerful. With the contrasting colours of blue and orange, this monastery almost made me want to move in. Almost.

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Ballestas Islands

These islands in the Pisco region just of Paracas are a must for wildlife lovers. The islands are overthrown with guano birds and it’s hard to miss them (or their poop too :) ) when visiting the islands by boat. We also spotted one Humboldt penguin, lots of fur seals and other sea birds. It’s a pretty spectacular sight to see.

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Colca Canyon

Besides the obvious highlights of the trip, this was my favourite part. This canyon is one of the deepest in the world (up to 4600 metres in depth) and is therefore mindbogglingly impressive. Highest point of the canyon is 4600 metres and breathtaking (although sometimes literally). Highlight of our days spent in the canyon was a 50 minute hike to the Cruz del Condor, a viewing platform to spot the condors. A good tip is to not necessarily hang around at the spot if you don’t see condors, because they might be a couple of metres the other way. We spotted no less than 14! Needless to say, we praised ourselves incredibly lucky!

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Huacachina

This oasis in the middle of the dessert is a peculiar sight to see. Because I’d heard the only way to properly view the oasis was from the top of the sand dunes, we didn’t hesitate to book a buggy and sand dune boarding tour. My throat was soar from screaming and I’m still not entirely sure whether it was from excitement or from terror, perhaps a bit of both. The drive was so worth it though, and I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves here.

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Nazca lines

Nazca is a very desert-y and rocky area and there wouldn’t be much to see if it weren’t for the huge Nazca lines. These ancient drawings compose the weirdest figures but to see them from a 6 person airplane made them all the more spectacular to me. A must.

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Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

Because we wanted to have the first view of Machu Picchu the right way, we decided to walk part of the Inca Trail. We enrolled ourselves for the 2 day trek. Really, it’s only one day of walking, but the 12km took no less than 7 hours and was, well, challenging. Pathways are narrow, uneven and 80% of the time, uphill. Nonetheless, there is a lot to enjoy on the way with amazing views on the way as well as the the Wiñay Wayna and the Inti Punku (Sun Gate). Even though it’s only a day worth of hiking, you can’t help but feel ecstatic when you catch that first glimpse of the impressive Inca site that is Machu Picchu. Let’s just say there’s something magical surrounding the whole site and experience.

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Cusco

Out of all the cities or towns we visited in Peru, I think this must’ve been our favourite. There’s a relaxed atmosphere and a decent amount of nice cafés and good restaurants. Don’t forget to go up the San Blas area in the city, it’s got some nice little streets in dreamy blue and white.

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I’ll be posting a blogpost on the best bits of Bolivia soon too! :) Keep an eye out for it.

Until then,

Love,

Silke