Category Archives: Europe

Helsinki airport to Tampere, with train

Getting from Helsinki airport to Tampere is easy, but it takes some time. Because the price vary a lot (between 25-50 EUR), depending on the time you are traveling, I would suggest to book the train in advance.

The easiest way to get from Helsinki airport to the main railway-station is to take the airport-bus. It goes every 20 minutes, cost 6,60 EUR and takes 30 min. There is free wifi on board. For those of you who dislike to take a bus because there’s no toilet there, there’s a toilet at this bus! However I didn’t try or see it, but at least there is one.

We had booked a comuter-train and didn’t know we had to sit in the front, but luckily we paied attention to the speaker and changed train at the next station. Be aware of this!

The train has a toilet in the back, but I am not sure if it worked or not.

 

 

THE road-trip: Bergen – Oslo – Bergen, in many ways more challenging than expected!

IMG_8460We started the trip Thursday, around 11. We used Google-map to get the fastest route: To Voss, the new bridge in Hardanger, over Hardangervidda and Geilo and then to Oslo. It said 6,5 hours non-stop driving and we used around 7,5 hours with some small stops and 30 min. traffic-jam to get from the outskrit of Oslo to the hotel.

Hardangervidda, on the way to Oslo

Hardangervidda, on the way to Oslo

It was easy to use Google-map, both during the road-trip, but also when driving in Oslo. Although there were some road-works, actually quite many, the Google-map recalculated fast and efficient. I have a cheap internet-plan on my phone, but another excellent thing with Google-map is that if you load the map and direction when you have internet, you can turn off the mobile-network, and it will still remember and use tha map!

I drove the most, unless 1,5 hours in the middle. It was surprisingly how much faster the time went on when driving myself than when I am a passenger! Because we were eager to come to Oslo we didn’t stop to get any pictures, just a few. I planned to use more time on the return to take pictures and have a relaxing trip as I knew I would be on my own and needed more stops.

I was relieved when we arrived to Oslo and I had managed to drive that far without getting a migraine and my body seemed to have managed well. For a strange reason I had forgotten that my illness works like this: “Do whatever you want to do, I’ll punish you after”. And this was what happened. The weekend ended in an endless migraine-attack. Luckily the medicine worked Saturday evening and I went to a great party celebrating my brothers birthday, dancing and socializing the whole evening! However, I didn’t do any sight-seeing and the only pictures I got was from the hotel…. Well.. That’s life as a sick traveler, I should get used to it!

On the way from Bergen to Oslo, in the end of the trip, we heard strange noises from the brakes of the car. The strange noises continued while we were in Oslo, and they even seemed to get worse. I spoke to several people who knows more about cars than I do (I know nothing…) and they all said the car should be safe to drive home, I should just be careful to use a low gear instead of using the brakes when going down from Hardangervidda, down Måbødalen to Eidfjord. Note that Hardangervidda is the highest mountain plateau in Norway….

I thought about postponing my return and get the car fixed in Oslo, but because I really wanted to go home, I decided to drive.

The main-reason why I wanted to go home was because my son moved to Tromsø the day I returned back to Bergen. I have been quite cool about his move so wasn’t at all prepared to be Mrs. Sad-Sam, but I was…. We are used to travel both with and without him and we are also used to him traveling alone, and I have never been sad about this.

It’s embarrassing to say, but I cried all night and saying goodby was so much harder than I had thought. Needless to say, I wanted to get home and being alone in the car!

I started the return at 10 and the first two hours went well (sobbing and cried my eyes out…). At 12.30 I was tired, had an aching neck and wondered how I would survive the rest of the trip… However I then decided to press myself and take a longer rest at Geilo, around 13.30, but at 13.15 I felt the urge to let the coffee out so stopped at a bus-shred and went back. After all, although there were a bus-stop, I was in the middle of nowhere and I’m from Norway: We are used to use the nature when the nature calls! (Wearing a skirt is a must on a road-trip!)

Unfortunately I am not good in recognizing the Norwegian fauna and I didn’t know I had been in the middle of a meadow of nettles before I returned to the car! Luckily I hadn’t put my behind in the nettles, but my left leg stinged and hurted a lot! I think my body was pumped with adrenaline because I woke up quite quick and didn’t feel the need to stop at Geilo! I rushed past it and over Hardangervidda.

Because I was eager to get past Måbødalen I didn’t stop at Hardangervidda either and started to climb down Måbødalen on the second gear. The brakes made very loud noises and I think I got a new “dose” with adrenaline at this point. I think I drove in 40 km/h, but was so scared I didn’t dare to drive faster! When I got the the end I was so relieved, happy and full of adrenaline that I didn’t feel for a break. I drove to Voss, had a small break and came back home at 17.30.

The trip from Oslo to Bergen is spectaculare and I wished I had taken pictures. Next time! (BUT I will not drive all the way myself! I have proven to myself that I can do it…. )

Do you dare to bring your own car to France?

IMG_8286Some years ago friends of us were living in France. When they were visiting us in Norway they told us they had sold their car because they were fed up with being anxious of being hit by either other cars or even trolleys at shopping-centers. They said that people just don’t care about their own car, or others. They simply drive until they hit the car in front/back of them. I couldn’t believe it, but I do now…

An hour before the above picture was taken I saw the “French trick” in action: A car reversed until the car in the back rolled and moved around 20 cm!

Our initial plan was to drive our car to Toulouse, but I think I am now happy we didn’t! (However we have had road-trips to Italy, France and Spain, and never been “hit”, so we might have been lucky?)

I have seen parked car like the above in Spain too, so I take it the “French trick” also apply to the Spanish drivers, and maybe Italians too?

Restaurant review: SushiShop Toulouse

2014-07-02 18.31.13This, Sushishop, is one of the worst sushi-restaurants I have ever been to.

2014-07-02 18.21.56It’s obvious a take-away restaurant, but they could have offered soya-saus from bottles and cheramic soya-saus trays (these were in PLASTIC!) for their guests eating at the restaurant. The salmon on the nigiri was so thin you could see the rice through the salmon… And the wasabi was thin and had a strange consistence (from a tube?). 2014-07-02 18.22.00This is maki with scampi. Oh Lord (sorry) this is the cheapest (in many terms) scampi-nigiri I have ever seen! Half of the scampi were bread-crumbles and on top of this they had cut the thing in two! You can hardly see any scampi there.

And the worst? It was not a cheap meal…. My advise: Don’t go there!

 

Restaurant review: YokoSushi in Toulouse

2014-06-29 21.27.42As in Paris, you can find a place to eat sushi on every corner. The first night we had sushi at Yokosushi, very close to our hotel.

As with many sushi-restaurant, this is a small, but busy place. It looks like most of their orders are take-aways. Good for them, but the customers “in-house” suffer because they don’t have time to take orders, make the food and generally look after their guests.

With that said, the sushi and makis are good, but the rice was not “tight” enough (maybe because there were not enough vinegar and sugar?) and because of that it was difficult to eat.

This restaurant has, as many Norwegian sushi-restaurants also have, some strange makis on their menu. Maki with cheese (which has become so common that some people think it’s a real maki….),i with fried onion and for dessert maki with banana and Nutella…

2014-06-29 21.28.05Since I can’t eat onion I didn’t try the maki with fried onion, but Mr. No-Backpacker and his coleagues said it tasted… hot-dog… 🙂

We all had to try the dessert-maki. How it tasted? Well…. Not horrible wrong, but I will not reorder it either! It might have been slightly better if they had used rice without vinegar and sugar because the sourness from the rice  didn’t go with the sweet Nutella.

(Somebody asked me what the dessert-maki was wrapped in. I tried to figure it out, but I didn’t find the answer. It looked and tasted like some kind of very, very thin pankake, but I am not at all sure.)

 

 

Toulouse = gluten-free/allergyfriendly heaven

IMG_8151After haveing some trouble with finding gluten-free food in Nancy and Paris I was well prepared for the trip to Toulouse. However it seemed like It was not necessary at all!

There were several grocery-stores that had some gluten-free food, like Biocoop and Monop (the same as I found in Paris), but the very best was “Parapharmacie Lafayette”, 10 boulevard de Strasbourg, close to the metro station Jean Jaures.

IMG_8261They had the usual brands as we have at home, but also lots of other brands I have never seen before. There were several shelves and I think, for a little while at least, I was in gluten-free heaven! However I didn’t buy much as I didn’t need anything, but I bought some boxes with “Le Pain des Fleurs” crackers. We have them at home, but they are so expencive I don’t bother to buy them. Here it was half the price so I am planning on stocking up some more to fill my suitcase!

I also bought some seasonings as I found “massala-mix” without onion and garlic in another shop, unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the store, but it was the grocery-store next to the Parapharmacie Lafayette, something with “International….”.

If you are stuck there are lots of sushi-restaurants and even two Mc. Donalds, but I take it that most restaurants have “beef and French fries” if you ask.

 

 

I love you, Toulouse!

IMG_8215This spring/summer has been very French as I have been to Nancy, Paris and Toulouse. I had been to Paris once, Cannes once and Dijon once, but that is all I had seen of France before May. The first time I was in Paris, it was winter and extremely cold and I was on my own for work. Cannes was “posh” and expensive (payed 30 Eur for a sunbed at the beach…) and I fell in love with Dijon. We only had one afternoon, evening and morning in Dijon, as it was on our way back home from our roadtrip to Italy (or was it Spain? Well, more on that in another post), but I really fell in love with the village, the people, the food, the shops… everything.

I was hoping to experience something of the same when we went to Nancy in April, but I never felt any of the extra heartbeats as I did in Dijon. I must admit it was quite disapointing.

Coming back to Paris was ok’ish. I never fell in love the first time, neither on the way back from Nancy and not when we were there for 6 days in May.

IMG_8184As I said in the previous post, the original plan was to stay in Toulouse for 4 weeks. I managed to get 5 days in between my other plans and I am very happy I did. Touolouse is not like Dijon, as it is much bigger but I still love the city after only two days and regret I can’t stay here for the 4 planned weeks.

In Touolouse you have everything in walking-distance. If you can’t walk you can use the city-bikes.

IMG_8248The city-bikes are operated in the same way as in Spain (where I have used it): You pay a small amount with your credit-card. The company put around 150 EUR on hold on your card. It’s free for the first 30 min. After that you pay 1 EUR. per hour. The “bike-stations” can be found all over the city and you can pick up a bike at one place and deliver it at another one. Extremely practical!

If you are going further away you can take the metro (it’s easy with only two lines), a bus or a taxi. For more information see Visit Toulouse website.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodby Bergen, hello Touolouse!

Mr. No-Backpacker left Bergen 10 days ago. The initial plan was that we should both go to Toulouse for 4 weeks. He’s there for work, I would go for… well…. why not? The plan changed as I suddenly got some projects to do at home and now I am going to Toulouse for 5 days instead… Not quite the same, but at least it’s better than nothing! AND I get to see my lovely husband again!

The airfare was not exactly cheap, but it could have been worse. Booking only two days in advance didn’t give me the best deal! However I saved around 800 NOK with booking from AirFrance instead of KLM. Not to self: Although AirFrance and KLM is cooperating, check both sites before booking!

 

 

A Norwegian summerhouse full of memories

IMG_7873This weekend has been great with nice weather, my brother and his family coming over from Oslo and a visit to our summerhouse at the island, Askøy, only 30 min. with car from where we live.

IMG_7945When I was a little girl I used to stay at the summerhouse with my parents and my grandparents and I remember that the weather was always warm and sunny. (For a strange reason my childhood weather was like this: Sun in the summer, snow in the winter. However I think it’s more selective memory than a reflection of reality!) My grandmother used to make thin slices of white bread with lots of butter, tomatoes and eggs for breakfast (my grandfarthers usual breakfast) and, because the weather was always nice, we had breakfast outside in the sun.

IMG_7907In the mornings it could be chilly after the night, but a t-shirt and a skirt was all I needed as I knew it would be warmer during the day. However it was cold on the ground and I can still imagine the feeling when my small feet tip-toed in the wet, cold grass, waiting for the sun to be warmer.

We sun-bathed all day and sometimes had a bath in the sea (I do recall it was cold, however it feels much more cold today) and the days were long and lazy. My brother and I used to play in the surroundings. (Correct: He played and bossed me around, nevertheless it is yet a fond memory, so it couldn’t have been that bad!)

IMG_7820On the “roof” of the “potatoe-cellar” (not sure what it is called in English, but it was a cellar where they used to keep the potatoes in the old days. Under the WW2 it was used as a shelter for my mothers family when Bergen was bombed…) we had our own little castle. We made weapons out of wood and a flag. I am not sure if the flag on the picture is ours or if it is my sons from when he was a toddler, but there is a flag on the castle today! Now the cellar is marked as a cultural heritage.

IMG_7938For a strange reason we didn’t use to fish a lot, at least from what I recall, but my son has fond memories from fishing from the dock when he used to stay at the summerhouse with my parents. He still likes to go fishing and so he did in the weekend. His two younger cousins followed after him!

I assosiate the summerhouse with flowers. Mostly because I was extrememely allergic, but also because of the strong colors and the sweet smell of summer. Luckily I have “grown away” (hehe) from the grass/flower allergy and can now enjoy the summer with all my senses.

IMG_7941 The sun rises early in the summermonths, around 4’ish I think, and it goes down… late. Yesterday it was still up at 11 pm.! It’s difficult to go to bed when the sun is still up, so my brother and I never managed to sleep before quite late in the summernighst. I think most parents in Norway still have this problem when it comes to getting the children to bed in June and July. It feels so wrong to go to bed when it’s still close to daylight outside!

When I was young I never saw the beauty in the Norwegian nature, at least I never appreciate it as I do now. Bringing foreign guests to the summerhous now makes me extremely proud of  my country. Everything  is so very typical Norwegian and most foreigners will say it’s spectacular and pictureseque at the same time. Maybe because of the Norwegian nature and the story behind the house?