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 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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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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6# Life Update: home again, birthday and transit eats

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.

 

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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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Sentosa Island: beach and attractions

After a fun day at Universal Studios, we spent day 8 of our Singapore trip on Sentosa Island again. On this day we had some fun at the beach and did a few of the other attractions available on the island.

 

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Miso Noodle Soup with Hoisin Tofu

Just when I thought I picked up all the kindy bugs, I just got another one this week. I was feeling pretty terrible today and was thinking of ubering some Japanese ramen. But I was so hungry I didn’t want to wait 40 minutes for delivery. I really wanted soup but I have ran out of stock. So while I was scouring the pantry, I found some Instant miso soup that I had bought in Singapore. So my lunch crisis was solved.

This noddle bowl for one was inspired by Vegan Ramen bowl from Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. The soup base is a lot different and quicker to prepare. I did cook my tofu and vegetables in hoisin sauce and add it to the soup last, similar to Chloe’s recipe.  This dish only took me 15 minutes to prepare and gave my insides a warm hug. 

 

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Orecchiette with Tofurky Sausage and Broccoli

Orecchiette is one of my favourite pasta since I was a child. It actually means ‘small ears’ and originated from the Italian region of Puglia (the heel of the boot). It is traditionally paired with rapini (Orecchiette alle cime di rapa) or a tomato based sauce with horse meat (Orecchiette con ragu’ di cavallo). However, since these ingredients are rarer and/or not appetising, I often see it paired with sausage, broccoli and chilli.

This is a veganised version of a recipe by Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, which was adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe found in  Lidia’s Italian TableI used Tofurky Sauage in place of Italian sausage as well as a salted organic vegan butter and vegetable stock. Jenn also uses Pecorino Romano, which is my favourite Italian cheese, but I held back, as I’m trying to go completely dairy free right now. There is plenty of flavour in this dish, so you really don’t need cheese or even a vegan cheese substitute. Of course, I tested this recipe on my meat and dairy loving partner, who approved of the flavours and didn’t add any sneaky cheese when I wasn’t looking. This recipe is quick and easy and of course delicious as well.

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Ginger Anzac Biscuits

Last Wednesday we celebrated Anzac day in Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates and remembered the soldiers fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It also celebrates all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Biscuits originated from WW1, as these biscuits were originally made by women’s groups and wives and sent to the soldiers. They were specially made with ingredients that would travel well, which typically included rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and desiccated coconut. It still remains a tradition to make Anzac Biscuits for this national holiday, but they are also popular to consume throughout the year as well.

Anzac biscuits are usually quite hard. I have never been a huge fan of them, as I prefer softer biscuits that don’t break a tooth. Homemade Anzac biscuits are a little softer then the hard commercial ones, but they do have chewy whole oats, which I’m also not a fan of. Most people do love them though, so I guess its a preference for me.

I never make Anzac biscuits myself, but we were having a BBQ with the family for the day and I really wanted to make something sweet. My intention was to use up the Buderim Crystallised Ginger, which I bought by accident when I was looking to replenish my Buderim Naked Ginger snack stash. I have been addicted to dried ginger since Marco’s Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. They are a great substitute for late night chocolate cravings and nobody likes them except me, so win win. I asked the kids if they prefer muffins or cookies and cookies won, so when I was looking for some inspiration I thought why not spike some Anzacs with a ginger infusion.

My recipe is a little different to the original. Most modern recipes call for butter, whole rolled oats, boiling water, golden syrup or treacle, and white or brown sugar. I wanted mine to be soft and chewy, but without raw oaty flavour and overly sweet taste. So I grind the rolled oats, skipped the golden syrup and traded regular sugar for coconut sugar. I also added some ground ginger and crystallised ginger, which gave a pleasant ginger flavour, that even the kids liked since the baking took away the ginger burn. These are also vegan, which is you can share with your vegan and dairy intolerant friends. I’m pretty happy with this recipe so I think this will be a tradition that I will continue every year.

 

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