Copenhagen, a very windy city

So after bye-bye Stockholm, it was onto Kobenhavn, Copenhagen to the English speaking world. The 5+ hour train ride on SJ Trains saw the landscape change from foggy wintry calm to lush greenery within 30 minutes. Truly gorgeous!

Reaching Copenhagen, we found our way to host place easily. Great view, but no lift! And it’s the top floor! Thank god our host, Peter came to our rescue and helped us with our luggage.

The apartment was gorgeous! If Oslo’s apartment was my dream place, this was dreamier cos it had a lived-in look. Never underestimate a woman’s touch to a home.

Some wonderful tips from our hosts later, we decided to check out the cemetery. Yes. The place where u bury people. Apparently it’s so serene and enchanting that the Danish go for picnics there in the summer. I trust the locals recommendations. And I’m glad we did! The cemetery was indeed a picture of serenity smack right outside the city. Some of the tombs dates back to the 18th century.

Pity I overestimated my tolerance of the wind factor. I swore the temperature dropped by a few significant Celsius inside the cemetery. Efforts to find Hans Christian Andersen’s tomb were futile cos I was shivering.  So bad was the wind that my partner had to pass me her gloves and scarves!

The next couple of days in Copenhagen was spent trying the local delights as recommended by our hosts. Most were hits, but I didn’t like the super sweet cakes. At least my partner did.

La Glace is one of the oldest and best pastry shop in Copenhagen.

My travelling partner loved their cake so much, she practically licked off the plate!

Christiania is a must-go for all. It’s a small piece of Copenhagen that’s a free zone. Not governed by anyone, but the residences there. There was a sign board stating 3 rules to enter Christiania.
1. Do not run as running cause panic.
2. Do not take pictures as selling drugs is still illegal.
3. Have fun!

The entrance to Christiania.

You enter Christiania and suddenly your back in time to the flower power 70’s. Graffiti walls, caravans, Bohemian looking dudes setting up tent selling hash openly. Woman walking her dog smoking a fat joint… WOAH! Indeed and eye opener! They even have their own currency! And this is a place that you can finish walking it’s perimeters in 15 mins.

Exit at Christiania telling you that you’re entering the rest of Europe.

Lunchtime! Instead of a cafe/restaurant, I decided a brewery lunch is in order! Since I can’t decide which brew to go for, I went for a taster of their best beers! I must say, the European brews are better than their American brew. The American brew tasted like piss. Stick to your continent mates!

This bar looks like it’s for old pervy men, pity we didn’t get a chance to suss it out.

The flagship Lego shop! Did you know Lego is a Danish company?

We moved onto several other places of interests and once again I got defeated by the wind. In the end, we bought a bottle of very nice Spanish wine for cheap at the local supermarket and shared it with Peter and Magda. Top hosts!

Next day we took a cruise along the canals and whilst waiting for our ride, we chanced upon the changing of guards at the Royal Palace. There’s something insanely romantic about these old royal traditions and I love it!. The guards had super duper fluffy hats and we were informed the Queen was indeed in residence.

We love their hats! Must be really warm and snuggly.

Hello Queen! *bows*

The river / canal cruise was interesting as we navigate our way thru the waterways and super narrow bridge (one was so narrow that our boat was merely inches away on both sides).

See how the side almost touches our boat!

The statue of The Little Mermaid was a bit of a downer. It was out of the way and you would’ve expect some sort of gift shop for souvenirs, but no! No gift shops at all for the tourist who’s trudged all the way to see her. Just a lonely mermaid (who made a year long trip to China in 2011) perched on top a rock in the sea. During low tide you could stand next to the rock and take a picture of the mermaid, and I’m sure she’s Asian judging by her size.

See! So small and lonely. Someone please erect a prince for her!

Me thinks this Roman-esque statue was a lil kinky. Look at how he’s whipping the bulls.

Our traditional Danish Smørrebrød lunch. The fish and prawns were really quite yum!

Our little Danish adventure ended after a few short days. We had a great last night chatting with Peter and Magda before bidding them farewell.

I love the Danish hot dogs and their pastry. No. 1 on my list is Forsnappa from Lagkagehuset. We bought 2 for the roads!

These windmills were right in the middle of the sea! And if my GK serves me right, wind energy accounts for 20% of their annual electricity usage. And the government’s goal is to run the entire country on renewable energy by 2050. That’s green and a role model for the rest of the industrial world to emulate!

Ok, it’s now byebye Copenhagen. Onward bound to Goteborg and Oslo!

Goodbye Tromso, Hello Stockholm!

Image

We woke up to this view for 4 days…how not to fall in love with Tromso?

After the dog sledding, snowmobile and gorgeous Aurora Borealis, we had to bid this place goodbye and say HELLO to Stockholm.

Whilst we got to Stockholm safely via Oslo, our luggage got left behind. All good tho cos I packed the important stuff all in my hand carry. We eventually got it back about 48 hours later.

Our host place was real cosy. The building was from 1931 and everything was still in great condition! The kitchen were refurbished only once since it was build. So retro! It helps that Sweden was neutral during the WWII.

And she has the fattest and furriest cat in the world! This grand dame is 112 in human years!

Next day, we did the touristy stuff by going to Gamla Stan (Old Town) to see the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. These traditions dates back to 1700s if my memory serves me right.

I thought the dude on the left is quite cute.

They even had an English commentary of the parade!

We were hungry before lunch, so we had this traditional Swedish pastry called Semla. In the olden times, Semla was a treat for the people to eat only on Tuesdays, thankfully this deliciously light, fluffy and creamy treat could be had everyday.

Our awesome lunch of Salmon Pudding at Gamla Stan served by a really pretty waitress and another that looks like Milla Jovovich!

This was where we had lunch. It’s by the end of Gamla Stan. If you wanna be served by hot waitresses, go here.

Next day, we took a 45mins trip to the suburbs to check out the biggest Ikea in the world for Swedish meatballs. This is us mucking around while waiting for the train.

Maybe it’s the fact we’re on holiday, but everything looked nicer there! Swedish meatball from Ikea!

After Ikea, we continued to shop at Drotning (the main shopping street). The stuffs NOT on sales are really not that cheap, but those on sales are madness! My partner raves about my ability to spot a sale from a mile. We did manage to snag some good deals!

Love this signboard. Slut for sales!

The great thing about staying with people is that they have so many great tips on what to see, how to do it cheaply and the routes to take. All these you won’t be able to get it from any guide books.

First up was walking along Tjärhovsgatan. Loads of old buildings and in the ancient time, these flights of stairs were the last anyone took as it meant walking up to the gallows! At least that’s what the signboard says. 

We would take this ferry later on.

Pretty silly if you ask me, to have a gas station UNDER a tunnel. And there were highways on top of the tunnel!

After a scenic ferry ride from Slussen to Grona Lunds where the Tivoli (amusement park) was, we walked along the pier.


The travelling partner decided kungfu was the order of the day. 🙂

The Vasa museum was magnificent! Instead of paying S$20 for the entrance fee, I got us in free! No we did not have to sneak it. The guy let us in willingly! Trade secret. :p

Sunset over the City Hall. Look how clear the sky is! Not a cloud in sight.

I’m actually a very relaxed traveller. Yes i’ll want to see the sights, but no I will not rush for it. I like to walk and take in the sights, smell, sounds, culture and people. I like to look at the surroundings and observe. I think it’s a more meaningful travel that way rather than go to a city and wham bang thank you mdm without experiencing what makes the place tick.

See the beauty of Gamla Stan at sunset from the ferry. Such grandeur.

Oh look! Mambo Jambo fever hits the Stockholm coffee!

The measure of a city (for me at least) is the state and variety of their supermarket. At least Hemköp was awesome. It was here that my travelling partner found the deal of the century!

A 6-pack for the grand price of…*drumroll please*…S$2.40!!! We thought it was an error and I commented I was prepared to pay $10 for the 6-pack, imagine my glee when the cashier said, “Yeap it’s 2 Krone per bottle. We’ve got 8 cartons of these. Great deal you’ve got there!” So it was there we bought a 6-pack to thank our host, Marita for being so awesome (she helped us sort out our lost luggage with Arlanda airport whilst we continued our holiday).


On the day we left, Stockholm turned foggy. It was bright and sunshiney on the days we were there! Guess we’ve been really lucky with our weather so far! I’ll definitely go back Sweden again someday. Maybe to visit the far north for another Northern Lights expedition! 😀

Another 3 ticks off the bucket list

This Norway holiday is really shortening my bucket list.

The partner and I went on a short cruise along the many fjords in Tromso, then there’s the snowmobile and dog-sledding with the huskies.

May I add, the scenery was breathtaking, mesmerising and the adventures were an adrenalin rush in itself.

Let’s start with snowmobile in the Lyngen area.

Cracks were showing on the frozen fjords on our way there.

The mid-day sun shadowed by some dark clouds.

Here’s my happy travelling companion leading the snowmobile pack. Ok there’s a guide in front of her, but she kept up with the guide!

Whilst the 2 other Brit couples on the snowmobiles were happy to cruise along, us Singaporeans were racing down as fast as our rather hot Norwegian guide was going. I may drive like a granny, but I was a lean mean snowmobile rider! Zoom zoom zoom! The rush of the clean crisp mountain air in your face as you zig zag across the mountain terrain, those moments were priceless.

There I was looking pleased as punch with the monster mobile.

I put this picture only cos it looks superimposed, but it’s not! :p

When the snow is this fluffy and your suitably geared up, you do this to become a Snow Angel!

This jump shot was a lot harder than it looks. 1) Heavy armour and 2) snow makes it harder to jump.

See how deep the snow is! Up till my knees! Or i’m just short.

Have you seen anyone look so happy like this? 🙂

Off to the brewery now. Snowstorm has lessen. Will continue later abt dog sledding.

1 tick off the bucket list

After years of dreaming about it, I finally got to see it with my own eyes. Those green lights dancing across the sky, seducing us with it’s unpredictable movements, it was breathtaking. And bloody cold.

The partner was the 1st to spot the lights as we were making our way inland. The oldies (bet they’re ticking off their bucket list too!) slowly made their way out of the minivan while the partner and I were super excited. Thanks to an earlier text from a dear friend, we held hands and made a wish.

We tried taking those lights, but for the following hindrances:

1. Fingers could barely move at -11 degrees.

2. Camera not DSLR.

3. Still too bloody cold.

So those mesmerising visuals will stay in our memories. Just like the NY2011 fireworks in London.

We’ve got videos of us sledding down the hills tho. Will post it up soon. Gonna crash now. There’s snowmobile in a couple of hours time!

This holiday rocks!

Goodbye 2011… Be good to me 2012.

Usually I’ll write a post on the last day of the year… to reflect on the past 365 days. Don’t see why I should break tradition this year, but I decided I’ll do things a lil differently. Instead of writing on both good and bad, I’ll be more positive and write on just the good. Here goes nothing…

First half of the year was great. By great, it means I managed to get out of the country almost every month (except April). In fact, we started the year by being in London! Also worth mentioning the Hong Kong trip in March cos we had so much fun together.

June is by default a fun month cos it’s The Birthday. I was surprised with The Lion King! 🙂 And many food comas too!

Second half started awesome possum. @Venarse and I fulfilled an almost lifelong wish of seeing Take That perform live in concert. We jetted all the way to London (again!) to see the 5 lads from Manchester. That’s right! Gary, Mark, Howard, Jason and Robbie Williams! Those who’d seen Take That live in Singapore in 1994 only saw 4 of them perform sans Robbie. We saw 5! Good times!

Image

Picture courtesy of @Venarse

Of course I wasn’t in London solely for Take That… it’s also to fulfill another one of my crazed passion for the final premiere of… HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Part 2!

My sweet friend tried getting me tickets to the premiere, but I was really happy to be able to soak up the great atmosphere at Trafalgar Square. 10 years of being a devoted Harry Potter fan…how could I not be there right? Also made some really fun friends on that trip such as @smashpop (he say I must mention his name! haha… nice boy!) and ventured into more unknown London territory.

The rest of the year was pretty forgettable, but I won a pair of air tickets on @KLMSingapore (THANK YOU!) to Europe. Also a great Langkawi trip came along to save the day. Rebak Island is really an oasis in itself. An island on its own, for some seclusion, peace and tranquility, I would highly recommend checking Langkawi & Rebak Island out. Oh and baby Gareth came into the world on National Day!

I’ve a lot to be thankful for – like the kindness shown by my closest friends and family. No matter how the tough gets going, I always had a hand to hold me through it all. 2011 was an average year. Not the best, but neither has it been the worse. What can I say? As you grow older, you just learn to suck it up.

Before I end, I’ll like to remember the family & friends who’ve left us this year. You’ll always be remembered fondly and dearly.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne

So long 2011. Good riddance. Come on 2012. Let’s rock this year together!

Happy New Year my friends!

Spreading a lil festive cheer…

The festive period is upon us once more, though this year took a lil longer than expected to arrive, I still love the festive season.

The weather helped by raining almost incessantly the past few weeks, kinda reminds me of being in balmy London/Brighton where it’s cold and wet just about everyday. And every year without fail, I’ll wish I was there instead. Not here.

That said, I’m still happy that I’ll be spending X’mas with my family and closest friends. Even though we see each other quite regularly, there’s something about the joy and happiness in the air that makes it extra special.

Everyone is wrapped up (puns intended) with gift exchanges at this time of the year too, but do take a minute or a few… to remember the less fortunate. Sometimes, doing a random act of kindness or paying forward an act of kindness that was shown to you, can mean a lot more than buying a gift which no one might appreciate. 🙂