10 June 2016

Introducing New Travel Series "It's On My List": Norway Travels | Part 1

Things to do in Norway, Place to visit in Norway, Kristiansand, Norway
You know how much I love blogging and would read (and enjoy) everything from a fab recipe or a GRWM post to the makeup reviews and life lately updates. However, my ultimate favourites are always travel related blog posts. I have written a number of them and since there are so many places I have visited and will be visiting, I decided it was time to start the brand new blogging series "It's On My List". What would be the most amazing place to kick off the series than a recap from our recent holiday in Norway? It's a rhetorical question, of course. I broke down our Norway Diaries into 3 beautiful and very different parts which I can't wait to share with you all. Without any more chit chat, let's get into this post and explore Southern Norway together.

Norway, Norway National Day
May 14th started with my alarm going off at 3 am (after I finally managed to get to sleep around 1) but unlike those morning when I need "5 more minutes" I was up at the speed of light! Thankfully, my airport outfit was prepped the night before so it was a no-brainer what to wear (read my advice on what to wear to the airport) because let's face it, what kind of decisions are you prepared to make at 3 in the morning after having a couple of hours of zzzz's. 5-min makeup session later and we were on our way to Manchester Airport flying to Schiphol, Amsterdam. 55 minutes later and we were grabbing Starbucks in Holland. Since I'm all about those numbers, I better mention that we only had 1 hour to switch flights and board a tiny jet going to the Country of the Midnight Sun aka Norway. Just so you're prepared if you ever transfer in Schiphol, because it's so huge you have to walk for miles to get to your gate (I have flown in and out of it so many times I lost count so I knew I could rely on it to top up my step count on Pacer). On top of that, there's now a passport control for the transferring passengers. That queue was no joke. 1 hr and 5 min in the air and I saw something I will never forget (this is going to sound cheesy but it's something very true so bear with me) - one of the most beautiful countries in the world as confirmed by your truly aka the globetrotter and many others who left their hearts in Norway.
Scandic Bystranda Kristiansand
We booked a holiday in Kristiansand, which many of you might know by now, is my hubby's hometown. He lived in Norway from the age of 6 to 18 when his family moved there and then back to the UK. I was more than happy not only to tick Norway off my bucket list but more so to explore it together with my husband who also happens to be fluent in Norwegian (being a linguist, this fact was exciting to me - I'm so nerdy haha) and knows this country inside out. We arrived at our hotel (review is coming up in July!) and found out that we had the view onto Bystranda, The City Beach. The view only got better when you went outside. I could honestly just sit and stare at this gorgeous backdrop for hours. Just give me some sunscreen, iced tea and the party is on. Staying in Kristiansand gave us the flexibility to travel to many places in Southern Norway. Also, driving on the right-hand side was just up my street. 
Kristiansand tulips
Kristiansand, Norway
Kristiansand, Norway
Kristiansand main street, Norway
Kristiansand, Norway
Kilden Performing Arts Centre Kristiansand
Kristiansand, Norway
Kristiansand itself is a big but very cozy coastal city and tourist destination. I was surprised at the fact that how come such a busy place is so perfectly quiet. Hubby told me it simply has to do with the lifestyle. A little more about that later on in this post. And then we have fish... Norway happens to be the 2nd largest seafood exporter in the world. It wouldn't be Norway if it didn't have a fish market like the famous Fiskebrygga in Kristiansand. It's not just the place where you can buy the freshest prawns, it's got restaurants, shopping and entertainment. When you are heading to a restaurant, you might walk, get there by your car or get a ride in an Uber. In Norway you can hop on your boat and pull up to the restaurant marine style. Aye aye captain!
Fiskebrygga Kristiansand
Fiskebrygga Kristiansand, Bolgen & Moi
Fiskebrygga Kristiansand
If you live in a big city it might take you at least 20 minutes by car to get away from the hustle and bustle and find yourself in the countryside. When you are in Kristiansand (even though it's not very noisy) all you need is a few minutes to walk up the hill for this scenery and... drum roll... 3 beautiful lakes. Every winter the lakes freeze and when my hubby used to be a school kid they would have their P.E. hockey practice on the frozen lake! I did most of my P.E. in a boring school gym. Comment where you did yours ;)
Kristiansand Norway
Kristiansand from the hill Norway
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand
Baneheia Kristiansand, seagull
Norwegians are very outdoorsy. It's no surprise, as the country offers everything and more not to be cooped up inside. Even the laziest person who prefers their couch to anything else would be tempted to get out. When the sun is out and you feel like doing a little bit of hiking, Odderøya is the place to visit. I mean, who would want to skip on a view like that?
Odderoya Kristiansand
Odderoya Kristiansand
Odderoya Kristiansand
Odderoya Kristiansand
Odderoya Kristiansand
You know it's going to be a perfect Monday if it starts with a lovely breakfast at the hotel and a day ahead full of fun and exploring. When we went to Lillesand, Grimstad and a few little islands around Kristiansand (no need to take a boat, there are underwater tunnels) I started to fall for Norway even more. In between driving, walking and exploring, as well as snapping hundreds of pictures, we bought the best milk chocolate I have ever had in my life (choco addict here) and delicious icecream and just sat beside the water enjoying the sunshine. As for the people in the area, they are very friendly and helpful, they have no problem starting a small talk. Most importantly, they are so proud of their country and would thank you a thousand times if you make a comment about how beautiful Norway is. They would say "tusen takk" which literally means "thousands of thanks" aka "thank you very much" :)
Lillesand Norway travel
Lillesand Norway travel
Lillesand Norway travel
Lillesand Norway travel
Lillesand Norway travel
Lillesand Norway travel
Grimstad Norway travel
Grimstad Norway travel
Grimstad Norway travel
Not only it would be not only strange but also it wouldn't be me if I didn't dedicate a paragraph to delicious food and lovely restaurants in Southern Norway. On the very first night when we got there we went to this sweet little home-run pizzeria called Peppes Pizza. My hubby grew up going there with his family so it was extra special to be there with him as we ordered the pizza he hasn't tasted in so many years. To be absolutely frank with you, it was out of this world. Every night we explored different places and enjoyed yummy food which wasn't always snapped because sometimes you just have to put the camera down and be in the moment. Also, I was in some shock when I walked into a supermarket and the fruit aisle hit me with scents! Strawberries smelling like strawberries! This is going to be sad but strawberries in the UK don't even have a scent or a very dim one. Talk about organic, right? If you are friends with me on Instagram, you most likely remember the picture of the gorgeous icecream. These mouthwatering cones with icecream and your choice of topping are called softis. Wish I could have one now!
Patricks Pub and Restaurant Kristiansand
Patricks Pub and Restaurant Kristiansand
Tasty Restaurant Kristiansand
Tasty Restaurant Kristiansand
Patricks Restaurant Kristiansand Norway
Peppes Pizza Kristiansand, best pizza in Norway
Sjohuset Kristiansand Norway
Softis icecream Norway
I have had a similar feeling before with some incredible views, e.g. looking at the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock, but Norway took it to a whole new level. When we were driving towardBrekkestø, the scenery you could enjoy from the top of this bridge was surreal. It's like you are in a postcard and you almost want to pinch yourself all the time to make sure this is reality. It is absolutely breathtaking. Brekkestø is a lovely little village which is also called the "idyllic pearl" of Southern Norway. To walk up to the little pier you must park your car outside the village and hope for the best if you're not wearing comfortable shoes. Just kidding, the walk is super enjoyable no matter what you could be wearing (but seriously, ditch the heels). We spent about an hour, if not more, just sitting down on the bench at the pier. It was so quiet and peaceful. An occasional group of tourists would come up and take photos and leave. It made me think about the fact that people often forget to actually enjoy whatever it is they are seeing or doing, and once the photo is snapped, they are ready to move on. Sit down, soak it in, enjoy every second. After Brekkestø we navigated towards another lovely location - the most popular beach and camping area in Vest Agder country - Hamresanden. I got to dip my toes in the North Sea and we watched the planes take off and land because Kjevik Airport is just across the water. 
Brekkesto Norway
Brekkesto Norway
Brekkesto pier Norway
Brekkesto pier Norway
Hamresanden beach
Kjevik Airport Kristiansand Norway
A few more pictures from Kristiansand because it's such a special and beautiful city. I have no doubt we will be back soon. As you can see, tulips are popular there as well, not just in Holland :) I love that when you are walking down the main street you still can see the harbour and the boats. In my books, it is almost impossible to beat the scenery with sparkling water, smell of the sea and toes in the sand. A lot of cruise ships stop in Kristiansand and shops become filled quickly with people who speak in multiple languages. Shopping is another big thing to do when you're in Norway. The most important advice I can give you - pack only half of your suitcase. The style of clothes is very different from the UK which was refreshing to see. Prices are a lot higher but it is worth it.
Kristiansand tulips
Kristiansand flower shop
Domkirke Kristiansand
Festninga Kristiansand boat
cruise ship Kristiansand
Oh Scandic... you were lovely. I mentioned Bystranda (The City Beach) above but it needs a further introduction and much more love spilt all over it. This is the place where my husband used to spend every single day in summer back when he was a teenager playing beach volleyball (the man is fit!). Days and nights in he used to hang out at Bystranda with his friends enjoying summertime. I couldn't blame him - this city beach area is idyllic. Since the last time he visited Kristiansand, new apartments have been built right beside the water and the beach. Those homeowners have some view! Just out of curiosity we had a quick peek into the real estate agent's window and the cheapest 2-bed apartment at Bystranda would cost you a whooping sum of £500,000! I decided to continue the tradition of "dipping my toes" (literally) and had fun with it. Soon enough we had a new friend who came looking for food. Then his gorgeous long-neck partner joined him and kept us company. You almost could pet them as they weren't timid one bit. Unfortunately, it is illegal to feed swans but we were still happy those guys swam by to say hello :)
Scandic Kristiansand Bystranda
Kristiansand Bystranda
Kristiansand Bystranda apartments
Kristiansand Bystranda
Kristiansand Bystranda
Kristiansand Bystranda
Kristiansand Bystranda swan
Kristiansand Bystranda swan
Kristiansand Bystranda swan
Last but definitely not least part of my Norway Travel Diaries (Part 1) iTømmerstø. This place for me was like that perfect cherry on top. Hubby took me there because it meant much to him. He used to hang out there a lot with one of his best friends and go sailing. Some people were having their dinner on their boat. Hubby told me it's very "Norwegian" as they used to have their tea outside chilling on the boat with friends and family. Some people were eating out in the cafe where this lovely beauty of a yacht was parked. I haven't been that relaxed for a while now. It was incredible just to kick back, soak in that scenery, watch the boats and enjoy the sunset together.
Tømmerstø yacht
Tømmerstø
Tømmerstø sunset
Tømmerstø sunset
This is it for my Norway Travel Diaries Part 1. I have to apologize for an avalanche of pictures but it was so so difficult to choose these out of thousands haha. The next post featuring our lovely holibobs in Norway will go live in the end of June and will be all about Mai 17 (that's 17th of May in Norwegian), Norway National Day. I promise you - it will be very very special ;)
Norway National Day
Hope you enjoyed this post, lovelies.
My other travel posts you might enjoy:
LAS VEGAS TRAVEL GUIDE: ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME
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Leave a comment and let me know if you have ever visited Norway.
If yes, where did you go & what did you see? If no, is it on your list?
Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?
Which place you liked the most from this post and why?

P.S. 
We are moving house next week but the new post will go live as scheduled 
on June 16th so stay tuned.
Oh, and if you are free any time this weekend, you are more than welcome to come over and help me pack and clean 😉🏠
Hope you are having a lovely Friday & enjoy your weekend!
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