The second half our of time in Bergen was spent visiting some of the sites outside of the city centre. By the time we eventually received our hire car it was the afternoon, but it was just as well, as it would have taken longer to get to the first two designations on foot or by public transport. So the highlights of our afternoon in Bergen include the Old Bergen Museum, Fantoft Stave Church, Fløyen and a delicious dinner at Pingvinen. We did return to Bergen a few days later before flying out so I included the lunch we had from a great little Norwegian burger joint, Søstrene Hagelin at the end of this post.
After the enjoying the breathtaking views on the Bergensbanen train from Oslo, we arrived to the beautiful coastal city of Bergen. Since we arrived in the evening, we only allocated the following day to explore Bergen before heading off a road trip. We tried to fit in as much as we could without spending too much. Did I mention how expensive Norway is? This is partly why we allocated only one day to Bergen, being a very popular tourist stop. Unfortunately, we were here on a Sunday which is the worst day to visit if you like to shop. All of the shops were closed (except for the tourist shops), as well as some of the cafes. Despite this we did fill our day with lots of site seeing. I have so many photos to show you that I have had to write two posts for Bergen. The highlights from the first half of the day include amazing Norwegian pastries at Godt Brod Floyen, exploring Bryggen (old town), visiting the Bergen Fortress and a delicious lunch at the famous Fisketorget (Fish Market).
Before I go on I will tell you a bit about the must-see Norwegian city. Bergen is located in Hordaland, facing the fjord of Byfjorden. It is the second largest city and is known as the ‘city of seven mountains’. It was founded by King Olav Kyrre in 1070, but trading in the area goes back to the 1020s. It was the largest city until Christiania (Oslo) surpassed it in the 1830s. Today it still maintains its old town character and is a major tourist stops for tourist and cruise ships. Indeed it is an expensive city, however its a great place to visit on the way to see the amazing fjords in this region.
Our last day in Oslo was just really a half day since we had to travel to Bergen in the afternoon. I hate travelling during the day since it feels like such a waste, but with a kid it does make it easier. I tried to fit in a some shopping in Bogstadveien and a visit to the University Botanic Gardens before our epic train ride to Bergen on the Bergensbanen rail! If you would like to see the amazing landscapes I captured on our journey, scroll down towards the end of this post.
On our second day in Oslo we had a big day jam packed full of free cultural and heritage sites. There’s actually quite a lot you can do for free in Oslo, which you can enjoy all year round. Some of the highlights of day two include the Royal Palace and tranquil Slottsparken, the amazing art work at the City Hall, the historic Akershus Fortress, and the marvellous Opera House. I originally planned to also fit in the Free East Side Walking Tour (currently not on offer) in the afternoon, but I don’t think we could have possibly done it. My legs were still swollen from the flight and Octavia made it clear she was not going to be content to sit and be quiet. All in all I think we did pretty well and we also ate pretty well too.
Our first stop on our Nordic Adventure began in Oslo, Norway. This metropolitan city is the largest city and capital of Norway. It is known as a cosmopolitan hub for its architecture, arts scene, museums, great restaurants and fashion. We spent a couple of days in Oslo and it’s a city I could see myself living or revisiting.
Oslo has so many amazing museums, sites and public parks. With only a couple of days and a toddler in toe, we had to be picky to what we could see and do. Another consideration we had is that Norway has such a strong currency, making this the most expensive country we have ever visited. On the plus side, the public transport is really accessible and pretty cheap and can be purchased from 7/11. We decided against buying the Oslo pass, for this reason and also because we would not been able to see everything on offer in such a short time frame. However, we did get to see quiet a bit, so this destination needs at least 3 posts. Some of the highlights in this post includes breakfast pastries at Backstube, Frogner Park, Vigeland Park, Karl Johans Gate, Grünerløkka and dinner at Mathallen Food Hall.
On our Singapore Trip we booked a couple of hotels. The first was in Little India and the second was at the Harbour front, within the Bukit Merah district. This is a convenient location if you want to visit Sentosa Island, but want to save on the accommodation. Our hotel was located across the road from the VivoCity shopping centre. Since it was my favourite shopping centre and we spent so much time there thought I would dedicate a post for it.
VivoCity is the largest shopping centre in Singapore and is both a shopping, entertainment and dining destination. No matter your budget you will be able to shop, eat and enjoy yourself in this centre since it caters for just about everyone. The centre houses Singapore’s largest cinema, biggest toy store, an amphitheatre, wade pool and four food courts. They are open from 10am until 10pm, giving you plenty of time to get all your minute shopping in or a place to hang out to get out of the heat. The Sentosa monorail and Broadwalk leave from VivoCity, so its a convenient place to stop in at between attractions.
I found the selections of brands really great at this centre. There are international and Singaporean brands and a variety of high fashion, casual wear and quirky stores. I think the only thing that was really missing was a good bookstore. My only advice when navigating the centre is stay away from the stores leading out to the exits. This is where the beauty services are and they will try anything to get you in their shop and try to manipulate you to spend an obscene amount of money of their beauty products. I made this mistake twice, since I’m so polite. I didn’t buy from them but I did try to not return to these areas for another time wasting exercise.
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.
Recently we visited one of my favourite restaurants and Brisbane’s first gnoccheria, Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers. They first opened in Paddington about a year ago and are still one of the best and busiest place to get homemade gnocchi. We have visited them a few times, but I haven’t been often enough since they are usually so busy that without a booking you need to get takeaway. Unfortunately, they are a little too far from my place for UberEats, but Marco orders their food to his work all the time. I actually first came across Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers when they had a food stand in the city. The gnocchi was delicious and the cannoli was so good. So I was thrilled when they established a permanent restaurant.
So we visited Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers recently on a busy weeknight with a friend, who hadn’t tried them before. We did make a booking, to ensure getting a table. The restaurant is actually very small, with a limited amount of tables outside and some bar stools inside. I have noticed that they seem to have added more tables since the last time I visited, which is good to see. The menu itself is also quite limited since the star ingredient is gnocchi. However there is a good selection of sauces that you can order, so there is something for everyone. I have also noted that they run special sauces for a limited time. Each gnocchi dish does come with a slice of ‘Italian mopping bread’, which you can always order more of. They do offer a few sides, which look like some nice complementing dish. Additionally, they have a great selection of desserts (which I’ll get to later). I usually don’t comment on prices, but I have to say their prices are very reasonable. Especially since most Italian restaurants in Brisbane charge between $20-30 for a main sided pasta or gnocchi dish.
Since we already had a late lunch we thought we would just share a few dishes. Last time we visited we had ordered the Bolognese, Duck Ragu and Wild Mushroom dishes. The stand out for us was the Bolognese sauce. So this visit we decided we had to order that one as well as a couple others dishes we had yet to try. Those were the Creamy Pesto and Prawn and Cherry Tomato Sauce. The boys love their bread, so we had to order a few more for them, but like I mentioned each dish came with a slice of fresh Italian bread.
The food was just as good as I remembered. The gnocchi were so fresh and pillowy and the sauces were each so full of flavour and really complemented the star ingredient. You can just taste that it is all freshly prepared with love and using traditional recipes. I can’t say which was my favourite this night since I really enjoyed all of them. I did quite like the butterflied prawns, so definitely will order that one again. Octavia was just loving the Bolognese and polished off most of the dish.
On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.
Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.
This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.
For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.