Thursday, 19 June 2014

Weekending - Oslo

This past weekend my boyfriend and I visited Oslo. It was the first time either of us had spent more than a few hours in Norway so we were both super excited to have an explore and discover somewhere new.

Since we've got back and people have asked me about it, the two things I have found myself repeating are that it was a) HOT and b) PRICEY. I think Norway is one of those places that people assume is all hats and snow, but it was actually hotter the weekend we were there than it had been in London over the last couple of weeks so it just goes to show how important it always is to check the weather forecasts! We already knew food and, especially, alcohol would be expensive so we took a bottle of wine with us and then bought two at the airport when we arrived in Oslo to save us a bit of money.

I would generally write a bit of a highlights list when writing up trips like this, but as there were no real low-lights I'm instead going to do a mini travel diary.


We flew with Norwegian and ended up choosing a flight that left at 5.50am. This was, obviously, a decision led by price, but it actually worked out well as it meant we had the whole of Friday to spend in Oslo. The flight was great - we had loads of leg-room, the in-flight magazine was actually full of interesting articles and it had free wifi! Thoroughly recommended. We were staying in Grünerløkka in an apartment I found on airbnb which was perfect for us - cheaper than most hotels and meant we could be as flexible as we liked. We spent Friday exploring the area - stopping for coffee / hot chocolate and apple juice along the way. We walked along the river and even though it rained a little it was still absolutely beautiful.

After a quick change of clothes at the apartment and a glass (ok a bottle) of wine we headed out to dinner at Villa Paradiso. After a 30-minute wait at the bar which we spent nursing a (£7.90) pint each of the locally brewed beer we were seated and ordered a pizza each - one four cheeses and one ndujla - and both were delicious (and huge). The broccoli and ndujla sausage on mine were fresh and spicy accordingly, without being too overwhelming. Including the beers the meal came to about £45.


This was the day we had dedicated to exploring Oslo a bit but not doing anything too taxing. We walked over to the Royal Palace park and spent a couple of hours sitting, reading and taking in the greenery. One thing we noticed about Oslo was that it was very, very green - there are parks, trees, and grass-filled areas wherever you look. We took a wander over to Frogner Park to look at the sculptures - stopping to buy some watermelon on the way (to give you an idea of the heat!) Frogner Park was quite a strange experience - it was one of the busiest places we visited over the weekend but seemed to be popular with both tourists and locals. It's worth a visit, but nowhere near as relaxing as the park at the Royal Palace.

It was well into an acceptable drinking time by this point, so we headed to the Summit Bar at the Radisson Blu for a couple of drinks. The good thing that we found about Oslo drinking prices is that they are pretty generic across the board - so the drinks we had here were no more expensive than the drinks we had in the pub on the corner. It's pricey, yes, but at least you know what you're getting when you walk in somewhere for the first time.

We headed on to dinner after this and, after a bit of searching, made it to Illegal Burger. The burgers and fries were exactly what we needed after a day of walking around in the sun, so I'm glad we persevered! The burgers were around £10 each, so in total we spent around £40 I think.


Whilst I was doing my research I stumbled across a walking tour on that was right up our street (how punny of me). We chose to do it on this day as the National Gallery has free admission on Sundays, so we spent a lovely few hours making our way through this in the sun. I'm really glad we found this, as it seemed a much better use of our time than if we had just been wandering aimlessly around the city.

For dinner that night we headed to Egget Kafe where I had a spanish tortilla and he had bratwurst. Again, with drinks, this came to around £40, so in general I don't think we did too badly in our food-spending. After dinner we went to Fru Hagen for a drink which was nice (although the food didn't look too desirable) before we headed back to the apartment to pack for our flight the next morning.

As always, I had done all my research before we left which was even more important than usual seeing as food and drink can be so expensive. We didn't eat anywhere super fancy but our three meals out were all delicious and, I think, really good decisions. If I were staying in Oslo again I would re-visit all of them. And I guess that's the question - would we visit again? The only thing that would stop me from re-visiting really is the price, it was a lovely city - quiet, clean, green - but I'm always going to be someone who likes to have a bottle of wine with dinner and house wine is always going to be at least £40 a bottle. For those of you who this isn't an issue for then yes - visit immediately! For me though, I think there will be other places I'd like to visit for the first time before I make a trip back.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


So this is just a little post to note that this time tomorrow I will be in Oslo! I like to write a little note before I go away just so I can record my excitement - I am really looking forward to pretty much everything, but seeing the apartment (found on, going to Frogner Park, and doing a walk I found online from National Theatre to the National Gallery are pretty near the top of my list.

But! There is one thing I am excited about most of all. My boyfriend has never been on a plane before. I am SO EXCITED to take him on his first plane journey - fingers crossed he ends up loving it rather than vomiting into a sick bag...

Monday, 9 June 2014

Planning, Planning, Planning

For me, planning a holiday is almost (almost!) as much fun as going on holiday. I love every aspect of it - googling destinations, researching restaurants, scrolling through hotel images - I have planned holidays I'm never going to go on, holidays I could go on at the drop of a hat, and holidays that would make an awesome honeymoon. I have hotels in random destinations bookmarked for future reference, and have a list as long as my arm of places I've picked out to visit one day. It goes without saying that as soon as one holiday is over I'll be planning for my next one.

So this weekend we are going weekending. I have already, of course, done my lists of things to do, eat, see and drink, but the week before is when you need to make sure you do all the more less-exciting travel arrangements. We leave on Friday, and this is how my week will pan-out:

* check the weather forecast
* check I have the details from the apartment owner
* give the boy a task to do (research transportation and how we get from airport to apartment)

* write packing list
* order money

* re-read packing list, make any amendments
* collect money

* check-in
* buy travel insurance
* pack!

* fly, fly, fly away!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

London Birthdays

I have had a few London-based birthdays over the years, and they usually go the same way - I start by having a mild anxiety attack on the journey in that I won't have a good time, or my favourites won't turn up, or the venue won't recognise my booking, or someone in the group will drink too much, or someone will cry, or I will cry, or etc etc etc... I don't think I've ever had a birthday where all of the above has happened during the same evening, but I can definitely say that all have taken place at one point or another! 

3 years ago: I had birthday drinks at one of the Belgo's and one of my party bought one of their 32-shot sticks. They did make it home, but they also vomited into a saucepan.

Last year: a boy I was seeing took me to the Savoy for lunch and then to the top of the Shard. All lovely, except my ex upset me that morning so I had one or two teary moments throughout the day!

Last year of uni: a couple of my friends arranged a surprise party for me, though told me about it beforehand and then only invited a handful of people. One of the most awkward events I've ever been to.

One year however, I had the perfect birthday in the perfect venue. I had decided that year that I did want to mark my birthday but to save it being a huge fuss I just picked one of my favourite bars in London, Bedford and Strand, booked a couple of tables and just told people to turn up at some point in the evening. Everyone I wanted to turn up did (and most of them on time), nobody drank too much, nobody cried, there was ample space and I had a lovely lovely time.

For me, birthdays are always a potential nightmare and it goes to show that sometimes the best nights are the ones you don't plan too hard for.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Baby Shower

Last Summer I arranged my first every baby shower (not for a baby of mine, I hasten to add!) Although it may seem crazy to think it now, last summer was a really hot one - and mumma-to-be was already suffering with the sweaty weather, so I decided to have a relatively low-key gathering with just a few close friends rather than having a big-deal garden party or something similar.

Wanting to keep it a traditional affair a couple of us made some cakes (I went for a Victoria Sponge and a chocolate tray bake), and we paired this with strawberries, cream and scones. I'd heard a rumour that pregnant ladies don't like to drink alcohol, so I made two different alcohol-free drinks...

* fizzy water, mint leaves, two squeezed limes and as many lime wedges as your jug will allow
* blended peaches (with the syrupy peach juice that comes in the tin) with white grape and peach juice, plus some squeezed / chopped strawberries

Paperchase do a very cute range of baby shower bits and pieces - straws, bunting and cake decorators - which we paired with all the appropriately-coloured plates, napkins and cups. We all bought the baby a present, as well as chipped in to get mum some vouchers for her favourite spa.

Most of the day was spent chatting, but I thought it would be best to have something to play in case the chat slowed down as the afternoon wore on, so I created a game of musical baby bingo! There are a few websites that can generate bingo cards for you with whatever you want them to say, and whatever size you want (I went with 9x9), so I created a spotify playlist of 36 songs with 'baby' in the title and then got the cards made up! It worked brilliantly well, and once the game was over it also made an awesome playlist to soundtrack the rest of the afternoon.

The day was a great success, and a lovely way to spend a summer's afternoon.