Best Way To Spend 24 Hours in Oslo, Norway

24 hours in oslo norway

When we initially booked our Scandinavian excursion, Oslo was merely a city to pass through on our way from point A to point B. We were spending a quick half day there before moving on to Bergen, our intended destination. However, as soon as we walked out of the train station that opened up into the center of this metropolitan, I knew we were very, very wrong.

what to do in oslo norway
Quiet street in Oslo

While the city center is reminiscent of New York City’s little sister with towering buildings, floods of taxis and city buses, along with bright, vibrant billboards, walking just a block or two takes you back to the northern European styling we’re so used to seeing. Unique architecture, quaint parks and a beautiful main road that opens up to the Royal Palace make Oslo a cosmopolitan all its own.

Although known for costing a pretty penny, it is definitely possible to explore Norway without draining your savings account. To get the most bang for your buck, consider purchasing the Oslo Pass that gives you free entry to over 30 museums, as well as free public transportation.

Conveniently, Oslo’s buses travel all over the city. If you’re lucky like us, you’ll get on the bus the wrong way and get to see the entire city before actually arriving at your destination. Yay. But really, the maps are easy to follow as long as you read the direction of the bus ahead of time. Our first stop, after our unanticipated hour tour, was to Bygdøy Peninsula.

What to do in Bygdøy peninsula
Bygdøy Peninsula

This peninsular is home to five of the national museums, a royal estate, along with beaches, forests and parks. Basically, it’s your one-stop-shop if you’ve only got a day in the city.

We thoroughly researched the museums before our arrival to make sure our time was well spent. We started at the Viking Ship Museum which was filled with, you guessed it, viking ships (along with tools and supplies from that era). The ships are extremely well preserved and you can get up close to their construction and read stories about their assumed travels.

oslo viking ship museum
Viking Ship Museum

Next, we rode the bus further down the peninsula to The Fram Museum, which displays the ins and out of Norwegian polar exploration. The Fram is the strongest wooden ship ever built and still holds the records for sailing farthest north and farthest south, as noted on the museum website. The short introductory film is well worth your time before exploring the museum. The exhibits hold nothing back and go so far as to offer a polar simulator to give you a taste of the arctic, brrr.

Lastly, we went to our favorite museum of the day. Although the Kon-Tiki Museum is often passed over for larger museums, we found this to be the most fascinating. The Kon-Tiki was a lightweight raft constructed of balsa logs built by writer and explorer Thor Heyerdahl and crew in 1947 to sail across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. The museum is set up like a movie come to life, providing you with a trail to follow to read about the events that occurred in a timeline style. Along with the raft itself, the museum also exhibits many artifacts and crew interviews to go along with the information.

what to do in vigiland park
Vigiland Park

Now museum’d out, we took the bus back to the main land and stopped at Vigeland Sculpture Park within Frogner Park. The beautiful landscaped area is perfect for an afternoon stroll or an evening picnic. Sculptures by Gustav Vigeland are located throughout the park and create an interesting, almost eerie, presence.

what to do in frogner park
Frogner Park

For our final stop, we made our way down the open markets on the street leading up to the Royal Palace as the sun set. A bustling city that offers so much variety in such a rich urban environment is one not to be miss.

Royal Palace of Oslo
View of Oslo Royal Palace

Have you ever been to Oslo? Do you like to go to museums when you travel? Or do you skip them?

xx,
Juliette

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24 Hours in Bergen, Norway

how to spend one day in bergen norway

Surrounded by scaling mountains and awe-inspiring fjords, Bergen is tucked into the southwestern coast of Norway. While you can fly into the local airport, it is far more dramatic to enter from one of the most scenic railways in Europe, a ride from Oslo through Flåm that offers a true taste of what Norway has to offer. But, I digress, more on that another day.

Known for its overwhelmingly wet weather, Bergen experiences far more rain than sun each year, often leaving the city in a blanket of fog with only the steeples peaking above the low clouds. While the weather might not be on Bergen’s side, what it lacks in sunshine it makes up for with character. Colorful wooden houses line the cobblestone streets as visitors meander through the renowned fish market for a meal so fresh you can see exactly where your fiskesuppe (fish soup) came from. Due to its northern location, the summers mean long hours of sunlight if you’re lucky enough to score a rain free day.

bryggen

Despite being the second largest city in Norway after Oslo, Bergen can easily be experienced in a day or two, offering a variety of activities from tours of fortresses to strenuous hikes between mountains overlooking the city.

Luckily, our first evening in Bergen was filled with clear blue skies and a sunset for the books. After dropping of our bags at the cheeky and elegant boutique hotel, we were a block or two from all the hustle bustle. The smell of fresh seafood led us to the center of town. The Fish Market is easy to identify immediately, salty tanks filled with lobsters, crabs and fierce looking swimmers were located in front of each shop. I played it safe with shrimp and rice, but admired my neighbors who opted for dishes that looked straight out of Stranger Things. Prefer my food with out eyes, thankyouverymuch.

Fish Market in Bergen, Norway
Fish Market in Bergen, Norway

Large sailboats and extravagant yachts sailed in and out of the harbor all through the evening, illuminated by the day’s last light. We were constantly fooled by the time of day as the sun didn’t start to go down until after 10pm. Luckily, we were able to soak up as much wandering as we could. Directly across from the Fish Market is one of the most notable postcard-esque sites. Bryggeen Hanseatic Wharf is made up of earthy colored houses uniformly lined up along the water’s edge. What used to be the center of a major trading empire is now filled with trinket gift shops and casual dining. Because of their wooden structure, many of the buildings in Bergen have been ravaged from various fires throughout the past few centuries. However, the rebuilding of this town stuck to the traditional construction and reflects the historical look of Northern Europe. Once the sun finally settled itself below the horizon, we headed back to our beds to prepare for an early morning.

Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf
Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf

After a quick breakfast of sugary skillingsbolle cinnamon rolls, a local delicacy, the Fløibanen funicular up to Mount Fløyen was next in line. This popular mode of traveling going up one of the mountains surrounding the city gets crowded quickly so it’s best to arrive within the first hour it opens. The cable car-like ride takes you to one of the most scenic points in the city in less than ten minutes. From here you can truly absorb Bergen’s jagged coast, colorful skyline and cobbled street ways. Even better, you get to meet the locals in their natural habitats, mountain goats and sheep are constantly ambling around the mountains to keep the grass trim. They were not as interested in me as I was of them.

New friends
New friends

Mount Fløyen is also the starting point for the hiking trail through Vidden to Ulriken. Due to the threat of a storm, we skipped this adventure in exchange for some solitude this morning.

View from Mount Fløyen
View from Mount Fløyen

The top of the mountain holds another Norwegian tradition. The folklore of trolls and fairy tale creatures is thriving in the country as evident throughout the town, especially on Mount Fløyen. The top of the mountain is decorated with troll statues, hidden figurines, and even an obstacle course that lets you view the world through the trolls’ eyes…seriously. As hokey as it might appear to an outsider, the fable is fun to fall into, at least for our stay here.

Witch and troll hunting on Mount Fløyen
Witch and troll hunting on Mount Fløyen

When we’d had our fill of troll hunting, we opted to forgo the funicular back down to instead walk the switchbacks that led to a secluded part of the city. While Bergen is filled with many attractions and museums, mostly due to the exuberant amount of rain, the culture is best understood by getting lost in the crooked alleys and deep staircases into gardens and small parks.

bergen city center

As the clouds opened up once we reached the city, we went to seek shelter at the Bergenhus Fortress, one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. Overlooking the harbor, a quick tour leads you through the royal chambers, medieval hall and defensive tower. More importantly, this allowed us to learn more about the power behind Bergen and how devastating the fires were to the city and its culture.

Bergenhus Fortress
Bergenhus Fortress

Bergen felt like one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Although the center of town was flooded with tourists, one turn off the main road led to romantic passageways filled with quaint bakeries, local shops and intricately decorated homes. Whether you’re looking for a stop along the way to Oslo, or simply an escape to kayak through the Fjords, Bergen’s overwhelming charm is hard to resist. Although you should be weary of trolls or witches casting spells, you will be sure to visit again and again.

Bergen at sunset
Bergen at sunset

xx,
Juliette

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How To Choose Your Next Destination

how to choose your next destination

When this post goes live, I’ll be cozied up in an economy seat on my way to San Francisco, CA then on to Yosemite National Park. Well, more likely stuck in the middle seat trying to avoid resting my head on the stranger next to me, but that’s neither here nor there. This isn’t a new trip for me and even I am shocked that I’m heading back to the exact place I visited a few years earlier. But, as they say, I left my heart in San Francisco and I keep coming back for more. It could be due to the political haze hanging over D.C., but I’m in dire need of some west coast sun.

As I packed up my winter jackets and hiking boots last week for the five days we’re spending exploring the redwoods and sequoias, I attempted to pinpoint why, exactly, I chose to go to Yosemite, CA in the cold. I had imagined April might lead way to a little more spring-like temperatures in the park, but that turned out to be a false conclusion as soon as you step away from Yosemite Village. So, fleece leggings and wool gloves it is.

Inspiration for a trip usually strikes when I’m not expecting it…scrolling through my Instagram feed and stopping short on the straw huts in the Maldives, or eavesdropping on my neighbor’s recent trip to the south of France. If I’m anything, I’m eager to a fault. It can take a mere thirty seconds for me to go from oh-that-looks-nice to what-are-the-local-airports-I’m-booking-this-trip-NOW. So how do I chose where my next adventure should take me? My full time job and bank account are the first reality check, but after that, the world is fair game.

TBH, the expense of traveling has to be worth more than a well-liked photo edited to perfection.

bergen, norway
Fjords of Flam, Norway

Establish Your Intention
We all define vacation differently. While some enjoy some R&R by the pool, others might find hang gliding through the Grand Canyon the way to let loose. Before you can plan any further, ask yourself what the overall goal is of your trip. Is it to become rejuvenated? Perhaps consider a retreat that focuses on well-being. Maybe you’re looking for new experiences out of your comfort zone? Hiking Manchu Picchu might be on your radar.

Check Your Budget
There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to pricing a trip. Consider setting a side a portion of your pay check each week for your ‘travel fund’. The most important part of saving up is determining whether you’d like to have a bunch of little trips throughout the year or save up for your dream excursion. Once you have the numbers down, you can plan accordingly by estimating flights and boarding. While I fully support splurging on once-in-lifetime-moments, make sure it is something that will not be easily forgotten. Spending an exuberant amount on a Carribbean cruise won’t mean much if you hate boats.

chicago illinois
Chicago, Illinois

Prioritize
If you can have your cake and eat it too, by all means cut another slice. But for most of us, it’s necessary to be selective with where your funds go. Aim for trips in the off-season or near major airports that offer more flight options. The same location can vary in cost drastically month to month. A beach trip in early spring can give you the peace of mind you need, but at the exchange of swimsuit weather. Jot down what is most important to you, as well as what you’re willing to compromise.

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

Ask Others
Find people like you, and ask where they like to visit. This works especially well when you’re involved in hobbies that bring you joy. When you’re on the hiking trail, ask a fellow hiker their favorite place to trek. If you like spending your time trying new dishes, ask the chef where he got his inspiration from. Even if you don’t know these people, you at least know you already have at least one passion in common.

Consider Timing
When you’ve generated a list of ideas that comply with all of the above, read up on the ins and outs of the locales you wish to visit. There are times when you simply might not be ‘ready’for a particular adventure. It’s okay to move it towards the bottom of your bucket list because your head space isn’t ready for what that trip entails. If you’re in a point of overwhelming transition in life, a hectic schedule of planes,trains and automobiles might do more harm than good. Likewise, if you’re feeling stagnant, you might need more than a leisurely cabin in the woods to feel inspired and engaged.

Or, you know, throw that dart on the map and pack your bags. All we have is now.

How do you choose where to go next?

xx,
Juliette

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Your Guide to Adventure

your guide to adventure

I’ve been a huge travel blog reader for years, finding solace in reading about other people’s glamorous jet-setting lives while I was trapped in my small college dorm room writing papers on Hemingway and Milton. I spent my time following others’ elaborate experiences, reading through their detailed itineraries and expanding my list of places to see. In essence, I was simply waiting until I would no longer be a passive traveler, but an active one. When I finally got a passport in 2011 and took my first trip overseas to Santorini, Greece, I thought my experiences were too messy, too unorganized, too imperfect to be valid enough to share. Getting lost on an island ten minutes after arriving did little to boost my self-esteem (there’s only so far you can go on a island!). Yet, I realized that because I was always immersing myself in other people’s perfect images of how adventure should go, I became overly self-aware of my short-comings in the travel-writing world…there was always so much more behind the beautiful instagram photos and free travel perks. It took me five years to realize that waiting for the perfect time to start Namastay Traveling was like waiting for an Uber to arrive that I never actually booked (been there, done that). It was never going to come.

dinner in greece

It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that I started to view myself through a new lens. After diving into 12-hour days of an intensive yoga certification process, I began to see my views as valuable not only to me, but perhaps to others as well. The more time I spent on my mat, the more time I allowed myself to reflect on the journey I wanted to take. Both literally, and metaphorically. After all, people don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga, they practice yoga to get better at life. I started to find purpose in the screw ups, in the missed flights, in the accidentally ordering fish eggs for breakfast, or maybe even that one time I took a trip to the beach and forgot a swimsuit. Each misstep broke down the walls I had laid down, brick by brick, for myself. We, as humans, constantly live behind the barriers we build, sticking to our imposed story lines of how we think our lives should look. Yet, little do we realize that the more we push our limits, the less they seize to exist.

And so, it accumulates to this: a little corner of the internet where I can speak to the lows and highs I have not only on the road, but in embracing my new experiences outside of the comparison trap we all tend to fall into. In essence, I will be sharing more than the Top Ten Places to Eat in *Insert Newest City of All the Rage*, but on how to fully immerse yourself into new cultures, new places, and new ways of being. It’s only when we see ourselves in a different context can we truly find who we are to begin with.

meditation

As I continue to practice the culture of yoga around the globe, not just the postures, I hope you’ll join me as we reignite the purpose of our daily lives, both abroad and in our own living rooms (or mine, if you wanna come over for tea). Instead of always feeling as if there’s more to see, more to do, more to eat (real talk), we’ll find peace in where we are, and enthusiasm for where we have left to go. Cheers to the beginning of Yet Another Travel Blog.

xx,
Juliette

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