I officially returned to Australia at the end of June after three weeks of travelling in Nordic Europe. It’s taken me a little bit to get over the jet lag since I was living in the lands of the midnight sun, with an 8 hour difference to my home timezone. I was only averaging about 4-5 hours sleep which is normal for me when I travel, since I am always on such a high. However, after having a child, my sleep isn’t as important as someone else, so I am not able to bounce back as quickly and get cankles from the aeroplane. The joys of age and responsibility. So anyway I am finally feeling like myself again the past couple of days.
Monday was my birthday, which was a quiet one this year. After all that Scandinavian food, we went Asian for both lunch and dinner out. First we went to Japanese Yakatori restaurant, Bird’s Nest in the Fortitude Valley. I hadn’t been to this location before and was eager for an excuse to stop in. Octavia had kindy, so I just had a nice quiet lunch with my mother and Marco. We ordered from the lunch specials, which included Tare infused Katsu Curry and Green Salad, Kakuni Burger (pork belly) with spicy fries, unlimited miso soup, Renkon chips (lotus root) and plum wine. Everything was really delcious. The Miso soup was amazing, the lotus chips crunchy, The main dishes were also spot on and favoursome.
After we drove around the corner to Nodo donut cafe and bought some white chocolate raspberry and dark chocolate strawberry donuts. Since we had to fit in dinner we saved these for after dinner later. Since I had no cake these was just as nice to celebrate with and delicious as always.
For dinner we visited another one of our favourite restaurants, Little Red Dumpling at Newmarket. I picked this restaurant because its O’s favourite and my mum hadn’t tried it yet. We ordered a few things to share, including Xiao Long Bao, Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings and Fried Wontons (prawn & pork), Shallot Pancakes. Everyone else got the Braised Beef or Lamb Soup with the handmade noodles. I didn’t feel like soup so I tried the Minced Chicken Dried Noodles. Since it was such a busy night we did get all our dishes one by one. My favourite as always are the Xiao Long Bao dumplings. The dry noodles were also nice but I much prefer the soups.
So, if you didn’t read my 5# Life Update: Scandi Trip, I will roughly explain what we did on our trip. So after a few days in Melbourne to visit family I meet Marco at the airport to travel to Helsinki via Tokyo. However we didn’t begin our trip in Helsinki, Finland. Instead we caught another flight to Oslo, Norway. We did a couple of days there before catching a train to Bergen and from there did a road trip in Norway, which included Flam, Undredal, Balestrand and Forde. Next we caught a flight to Stockholm, Sweden for a couple of days and then took a cruise ship to Helsinki. While spending a few days in Helsinki we took a day trip to Tallin, Estonia. Then we did another road trip in Finland, which included Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Porvoo.
Just about all of our accommodations were in Airbnb, which was actually our first experience using this service. Overall it was pretty great. We stayed in some really nice apartment, that were tastefully decorated, some of which had amazing views. I will share these in my posts with the links to their adverts.
We were pretty lucky to have great weather in the month of June. The days were very sunny and we only had a few days of rain in our last week. Most days averaged at 18 degrees, which is actually T-shirt weather. Since June is the beginning of the summer period most of the restaurants, museums and zoos are open and the sites aren’t overrun with tourists. The only downside is that we were unable to see the Northern Lights, but we did get to see a spot of snow. The only other thing we weren’t aware of was the Midsummer holiday, where everyone in the towns and cities, leave for their summer houses for 2-4 days. The means the majority of restaurants and all of the shops are closed. This was a nightmare for me who had planned out every meal and shopping destination. So its something to be aware of if your plan to travel during this time.
Before I dive into my Nordic travel adventures, I thought I would share some pictures of my airline food and Helsinki airport. I’m not sure if that interests many of you, but I like to see what foods different countries off on their flights. I have never flew with Japan Air or Finnair and I have to say they are pretty great. The seats are so comfortable and spacious, the toilets are surprisingly large and the inflight entertainment was pretty great too.
One thing I will say though, I wasn’t very happy with most of vegan meals. Although I am not vegan I did order those meal so that I wouldn’t have to consume dairy. I have a dairy intolerance and it gives me terrible pimples. I had recently cleared my skin and was hoping to avoid dairy, but considering I did consume it on my holiday I survived unscathed. I normally do prefer the healthier option of having a vegan dish instead of stodgy airline food, but Marco’s normal meals were so much nicer then mine. Some of which were uneatable. Luckily I got to finish some of the nicer things in Octavia’s kids meal that she refused to eat.
This first meal was on Japan Air on the flight from Melbourne to Narita, Tokyo. This was probably my favourite airline meal. I had tofu in a tomato based sauce, with white beans, roasted veggies in a spicy sauce. It also included some fruit, nuts, dried fruit and cucumber and a roasted capsicum dip. It was a little spicy but everything was pretty tasty, healthy and fresh. Marco had mince, eggs and fish with rice, a salad, fruit, yogurt and miso soup. His soup was actually really good and luckily he gave it to me. He quite liked his meal. Octavia meal was a big meat patty with pasta and peas, as well as a salad, creme dessert, sweet bread and crackers and butter. She liked it all except the sweet bread and salad.
Japan air has a couple of signature drinks. The Kiwi juice, is not a great colour but nice taste. The Plum wine is an alcoholic beverage which is offered with water or just ice. I highly recommend taking it with the water, since its less potent. Its sweet and delicous and something I have had before in Japan.
My second meal was on a Finnair flight from Narita Tokyo to Helsinki, Finland. I received two meals on this flight, which were very disappointing. Both were pretty healthy, but extremely bland. The only upside was the fresh fruit and delicious blueberry juice they offer. Marco and Octavia dishes of rice with creamy sauce and seafood was a lot nicer although they didn’t get any fruit. I think Marco’s other meal was teriyaki chicken and rice, which he also liked.
I really wish I had stopped for a ramen from the Narita airport or bought something to bring with me. Unfortunately was really not hungry when I arrived there, but I did buy my favourite Onigiri with grilled salmon inside. It can be found in the convenience stores and is a delicious and cheap snack. If you do have a longer layover, the food at Japanese airports are pretty good.
One the way back we flew on Finnair again from Helsinki to Tokyo. Octavia had a nice long sleep on this flight, lucky girl. I was awake for most of the flights home. On this flight I actually didn’t mind these vegan meals, in comparison to what my family got . My main meal was spinach dahl, couscous and eggplant were pretty nice. It came with a nice baba hummus and a limp salad. For the dessert I received a cinnamon bun, but it was extremely cold and hard so I didn’t both trying to eat that. Marco had a beef stew with rice and vegetables. He also got noodles, salad and Rhubarb Semolina dessert. Octavia got meatballs, mashed potatoes and peas. She really liked that, as well as Marco’s noodles. I took her cucumber for my dip and shared her dessert which was really good. As for the Moomin lollies, I didn’t let O have them, but I did try them when I got back. They were dreadful, so hard and uneatable. For breakfast I had this potato cup with quinoa, spinach and broad beans, with a thick sweet juice, cupcake and baba hummus. Marco and Octavia received something similar but theirs mushrooms, creamy cheesy fish and beans.
Our last international flight was again with Japan Airlines from Tokyo to Melbourne. These meals were some of the worse for me. The first main meal I received was some bland rice with some kind of meat-less paddy, which was terrible. The mixed vegetable salad had so much vinegar that I couldn’t eat it. The rest of the vegetables were bland. At least I had plum wine. Marcos and Octavia’s meal were so much better. Octavia had rice, meatballs, egg roll, creamy vegetables, with potato salad, fruit slices and cute dog creme caramel. Marco was able to choice from a couple of dishes that were designed by young chefs and were explained on brochures. He really enjoyed the Chicken Kuwayaki (Soy-glazed & Sautéed with Yuzu Citrus-flavored Chili Paste and rice dish), but he didn’t like the sides, which included Chilled Winter Melon with Aspic of Dried Shrimp, Savory Okara Soy Pulp with Anchovy and Silky Lychee Pudding. Both Marco and Octavia received Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream for dessert.
Between this meal and my next meal I was served a hard cold roll with a slice of caned peach and limp lettuce. It was terrible to say the least. The next meal was another terrible disappointment for me. Bland rice with blander vegetables and more bland sides. My fruit was really the highlight. Marco on the other hand got a Mos Burger which came with a nice brochure explaining how to combine the bun, cream cheese, lettuce, teryaki sauce, meat patty. Octavia’s also was happy with hers, which had her favourite, dumplings, rice, cheesy vegetables, jam sandwiches and fruit.
Helsinki Airport eats
Before we arrived to Norway, we had stop into Helsinki Airport for a few hours. This was our first taste of our holiday so I did a bit of window shopping and had some delicious eats. There aren’t many shops at the Helsinki airport but they sell typical things that you will find in Finland, such as reindeer pelts and anterners and Moomin merchandise. There are plenty of playgrounds in this airport, which is typical of Nordic aiports. I really appreicated this while waiting for flights. I only wish our Australian aiports would learn from this.
While we were at the airport we had got a little hungry and got a meal since the flight to Norway was with a budget airline. There are a few food options in the main part of the terminal, as well as more closer to the gates. The prices are very similar in each store, so your don’t have to worry about shopping around for the same salad or sandwich.
I bought a couple of things to share with Octavia from Cafe Tori. This cafe has so many fresh sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries and coffees. I bought my favourite prawn & egg salad on bread (Katkarapuleipä Räksmörgås). I just love these sweet small prawns, that can be found in Nordic Europe. For dessert I bought this delicious lactose free strawberry pastry, Mansikkaviineri. Seriously I don’t know how it was lactose free since it tasted so good. Perhaps it still contained butter to give it the nice buttery layers.
Marco wanted a baguette so he went to Freshly Made and bought this Ham Cheese and Salad Baguette. This was also really nice, since it was freshly made, so the bread wasn’t cold from sitting in a fridge.
When we returned to Helsinki airport on our way home, we found another great eat at the airport that was really close to our gate. Helsinki Sausage & Co. sells great quality sausages and burgers. I had the Classic Angus Beef burger, which isn’t my usually choice but god it was good. It was probably one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while. One taste of mine and Marco was in line for his own.
So that’s all my birthday and transit eats. In conclusion I recommend all the above restaurants and Helsinki airport eats. As for the aeroplane eats, I wouldn’t recommend vegan, particularly for Japan Airlines until you absolutely had to. If your dairy free or egg free unfortunately vegan will be your only options. Going back I would probably get vegan again simply because I don’t know how my skin was going to react. If you can handle the long stretch or use to packing your own food for flights you could always do that instead. Although these flights were 10 hrs each, so I wasn’t confident doing this without refrigeration.
In my upcoming post I will be taking you to Norway, starting with Oslo….until next time.