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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Norwegian Road Trip Day 1: Viking Village (part 2)

Last I left you we had just seen some amazing Norwegian Waterfalls on the way to Gudvangen. Why were we headed to this small village in Aurland, Sogn og Fjordane? To visit the Viking Village of course!

The Viking Village is nestled between the  Kjelfossen (one of the tallest waterfalls in Norway, 755 metres) and the spectacular Nærøyfjord. During the Viking period, Gudvangen was an important place for trade and it’s name translates to a ‘place of the gods’. So this is a fitting location to step back in time and experience the Viking way of life.

Before we visited the Viking Village,  we took some photos on the Nærøyfjord. It is the most majestic fjord. The water is so clear and catches the shades of green from the mountains that dominate the landscape.

 

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Norwegian Road Trip Day 1: Waterfalls (part 1)

Today I will bring you along on our road trip in Norway. If you have been following along you know that last we were last in Bergen. We only had three days to fit in as many stops as we could and make it back to Bergen to fly out. Most guides from Bergen recommend driving out to Flåm and driving same direction back. I thought it would be better to do a round trip, so that we would see more. I couldn’t find a guide that recommend a round route, so we kinda made our own and booked our accommodations to correspond with our stops.

The map below shows the general direction with some of the major stops. This route is totally doable in 3 days, even with a screaming toddler in the car. Some of these stretches are a bit long, which is because the mountainous terrain and the fjords that take longer to navigate. Many of the water crossings require a river ferry, which can take time and do require a fee. However this gave us unforgettable scenic views and made the drive definitely more interesting as the landscape was constantly changing. FIY, we paid about $80 AUD in toll for these 3 days and there aren’t many signs for speed limits, despite the speeding camera.

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Bergen: historic trader town (part 2)

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 MuseumFantoft 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.

 

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Bergen: historic trader town (part 1)

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.

 

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Oslo: botanic gardens & the Bergensbanen rail (day 3)

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.

 

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Oslo: Cultural and heritage sites (day 2)

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.

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Oslo: Norwegian metropolis (day 1)

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 BackstubeFrogner ParkVigeland Park, Karl Johans GateGrünerløkka and dinner at Mathallen Food Hall.

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Harbour Front: Vivo City

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.

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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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