Stockholm: Scandi perfection (day 1)

Our next stop on our Nordic Adventure was Stockholm, Sweden. We have been to Sweden a couple of times, but this was our first time visiting the capital city. Stockholm is the most populous city of the Nordic countries and the centre for cultural and economic centre of Sweden. We allocated two and a half days for Stockholm and if we had more time we would have loved to stay longer. The food, the shopping, the architecture and the sites, make it an amazing destination that you don’t want to leave.

Our first day in Stockholm was relatively lay back by my  travelling standards. We experiences amazing Swedish pastries, had family fun at Skansen open air museum, did fika with our cousin, window shopped in the old town and finished the evening with a plate of Swedish meatballs.

 

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Norwegian Road Trip Day 3: Førde (part 1)

After a little hiatus to finish the university semester, I can now continue sharing my last day in Norway on our road trip. So today is day three, we are at the furthermost point in our road trip from where we started in Bergen. Our destination is Førde, which is the most populated municipality in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. The township of Førde is located east if the end of the Førdefjorden and at the mouth of the river Jølstra.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in Førde, since it doesn’t seem as touristic as other towns, but there are a few great attractions that you can visit. There are the waterfalls of Huldefossen and Halbrendsfossen, the Førdehuset cultural centre, where you can find the Salmon sculpture, The National Tourist Road and the Sunnfjord Museum. We were quite time poor since we arrived quite late the evening before and only had the next morning to site see before driving back down to Bergen to catch our flight. However, we did get to see a couple of attractions and were happy that we included this stop in our trip. 

 

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Norwegian Road Trip Day 2 : Balestrand (part 4)

Our last big stop on our 2nd day of our road trip was Balestrand. This was probably the one I was most excited about. We arrived it was quite late, so we did a little bit of wandering around. My daughter had also become very unruly, so we ended up spending a couple hours before retiring for the day at our apartment in Førde. I did really like Balestrand and happy we trekked this far to explore this small town.

The village of Balestrand is in the Balestrand municipality, in the Sogn og fjordane region. It is located on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden and the mouth of Esefjorden. This town has been a major tourist stop since the 1800s. It is also known as the Art village and has inspired many artists from England and Germany. These travellers have also influenced much of the architecture.

Some points of interest include Sognefjord Aquarium (Sognefjord Akvarium and Gallery Munken), Golden house Gallery (Det gylne hus), Kviknes Hotel (Private collection of art mainly from the national-romantic period), King Bele Statue and Balestrand Viking Barrows, St Olaf’s Angelican Church and the Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism (Norsk Reiselivsmuseum).

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Norwegian Road Trip Day 2 : Vikøyri (part 3)

After stopping at Undredal we made our way to the town of Vikøyri. This stop wasn’t originally in the itinerary as we had intentions of crossing the fjord to Balestrand. However we were starving, so this was a convenient stop to make to have a break and try some Viking cheese.

First a bit about our major stop. Vikøyri is the central town for the municipality of Vik, in the Sogn og fjordane region. This old coastal settlement is situated midpoint on the Sognefjorden and the mouth of the Vikja river, which is the best salmon river in the region. Some of the points of interest include the Tine cheese factory (see below), the Hopperstad Stave ChurchHove Stone Churchold shore dweller siteMoahaugane Burial Mounds, the Kristianhus Båt- og Motormuseum.

 

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Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

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Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.

 

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Aleksinac: Our Serbian hometown

So last time I left you with my European trip we were in Italy. Next, we made our way to Serbia to visit Marco’s family. We spent a week in their hometown of Aleksinac and did some day trips to Niš and Sokobanja and a couple of days in Belgrade.

This is the second time I’ve been to Serbia and visited Aleksinac. The best part of this trip was seeing Marco’s family and introducing Octavia to her little cousins. Since I don’t speak Serbian I didn’t have many people to talk to. Luckily one of Marco’s aunts was an English professor. Octavia understands Serbian and she didn’t let it stop her having fun with everyone.

So you may be wonder where is Aleksinac? It is a town and municipality, which is in the Nišava District of the southern Serbia. It is believed that people have inhabited this area since the Neolithic age and most of the settlements are of the Vinča cultural group. Like much of Serbia, Aleksinac has been under the rule of the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. There are many archaeological sites in the area and nearby, which have largely been left untouched. So if you enjoy hiking this region has many mountains and old castles to discover.

To get to Aleksinac we first had to fly Belgrade, where we were greeted Marco’s father. From there it took a couple of hours to drive to the small town of Aleksinac. On the way back we took a bus, which took a little longer but was easy enough.

Aleksinac town centre isn’t really a tourist hot spot. I think there is only one hotel on the edge of town. However, there are nice places to stay at spa towns like Sokobanja or Ribarska banja or in the larger city of Niš. I did enjoy visiting Aleksinac to get a feel for every day of small town living. However, it does get boring in the centre of town. I found myself just wanting to get out of town to see some of the natural beauty of nearby sites and villages.


 

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3 Days of eating and shopping in Osaka

On our visit to Japan, our first stop was the beautiful city of Osaka. We came for a wedding and spent out first few days eating and drinking and sightseeing within Osaka. We visited the Osaka aquarium and went up to the top of Umeda Sky Building. We also had an interesting experience at the Lock Up Restaurant. Other than that we just indulged in the amazing food. My only wish is that I could have possibly eaten more. What I couldn’t eat I photographed, so going back through our trip is really making me hungry. By day four we still had to fit into our wedding clothes. After the elegant ceremony, we went spoil again with course after course of amazing food. I have included some pictures below of the gorgeous wedding of our dear friends.

Osaka has to be my favourite city that we visited in Japan. The people are extremely friendly and polite. So many times when we were lost, older Japanese people would approach us and try to help, even without knowing English. The streets and facilities were all very clean and the people were dressed very elegantly. The food was probably the best here as well. There are so many things to see and do within the city and also on the outskirts. Check out my following posts to see where else we went.

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A short tour of New Zealand

For my 30th we finally went across the pond to New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to visit and the flight is quite short from Brisbane, so it’s almost like going interstate. Since I’m a winter baby we were there during the coolest month. The landscapes were whimsical and magical, but God was it cold. We started on the North Island in Auckland, went down as far as Hamilton. Then flew to Christchurch, stopped through Lake Tepako, Wanaka, Arrowtown and ended our trip in Queenstown. We had a great time though and I can definitely see us going back to see everything we missed. So this is our trip in 7 days, traveling with a toddler. It was challenging at times, but a place to visit as a family.

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Eating through New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for many things and the food is definitely one of them. The New Orleans cuisine is largely influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine, and soul food. There are so many famous New Orleans dishes that I wanted to try. Some of these include Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Oysters Rockefeller, Po’ boy, Red beans and rice and Shrimp Creole. So many dishes and only a couple of days to try what I could. Health and good food choice went out the window completely in New Orleans. I didn’t find anything organic, vegan, local or sustainable in this city. I’m sure it was out there, but I was more focused on finding the restaurants with the best examples of New Orleans cuisine. With a bit more time I probably would have liked to sample the best of both worlds. Well, I think I would have too because this food is so heavy and hearty but not something I could eat every day. 

What’s your favourite New Orleans classic?

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

When we arrived our Uber driver recommended the best places he loves to eat New Orleans cuisine. He recommended Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Mothers Restaurant (below). So our first stop was Dragos. The location we visited was situated in the Hilton Hotel. The menu is so extensive. They specialize in seafood, so they everything you could want to try in New Orleans.We loved it so much we went back again.

My favourite dish was the Charbroiled Oysters. I’d never had oysters prepared this way and the others were oyster virgins. We are all converts now. They are so delicious and the buttery sauce was so amazing and you just want to dip every last morsel of bread into it. The Po’boy was huge. I’d never had catfish and it was nice, as were the lobster lollipops. On my second visit tried Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo was really good despite the appearance. You expect for it to taste really like seafood but it was very smokey and rich. The brownie was not mine and I just cringe at the sight of the mountain of whipped cream. Marco said it was good though.

dsc06459Lobster Lollipops

dsc06460Charbroiled Oysters

dsc06465Catfish Poboy

dsc06467Fried Shrimp Tacos

dsc06716Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo

dsc06715Crabmeat Salad

dsc06717Hot Brownie à la Mode

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Eating from Washington to Georgetown

We didn’t expect to really indulge in Washington, but the food here was fantastic. There are so many amazing cafes and restaurants to choose, with every cuisine you could imagine. Many of which are dedicated to local fresh quality ingredients and preparing everything from scratch. Although most of this food was pretty decadent, it was lovely to try American classics and other ethnic cuisines done really well. We were only in these cities for a couple of days, but so much more to try and see when we visit again.

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