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Posts Tagged ‘Vikings’

Now some might say that going to Norway for the weekend is sort of a random thing to do, considering all of the fabulous cities in Europe there are to visit, but I really wanted to see a part of scandanavia, and a £20 flight was all the convincing I needed.  However, when I booked this flight I really didnt know what to expect out of a weekend trip to Oslo.

The plane ride from Scotland was only 1:15, I expected it to be more, but this pleased me. We arrived to a fresh coat of snow on the ground, even though it wasnt much.  You could definitely tell the temperature difference as soon as you got off the plane.  Seeing as we were budget travelling and took a £20 flight, we had to take a 100 minute bus ride to the Oslo city center.  After a lot of confusion regarding trains and trams and the public bus system, we finally made it to our hostel at around 1am friday night.

I have to say the hostel was VERY nice.  much nicer than the one we stayed in Dublin. The only downside was it was somewhat out of the city, which ended up being fine, and we had to climb this obnoxiously large hill to get to it. But it had lots of nice annemities, like a free breakfast, and really cool chess

Saturday we started our tour around the city, which included walking to the Opera House, this GORGEOUS building, which you could climb all over, and had incredible views of the city…

View of the city from the top of the Opera House

After this we walked to Akershus castle, which I was really excited about, because thats the structure they feature in the Norway pavillion in EPCOT at Disney World.  Unfortunately part of the building was under renovation, so it had scaffolding around it. But it was still beautiful

After Akershus, we headed to the Oslo Palace to see the changing of the guard.  I’ll upload a video of that later, it was actually really cool.  The guards werent all stone-cold and stiff like they are in London, they actually talked to you but still kept that intimidating stature with their gigantic guns with knives on the end of them…Not to mention they were cute

We got some lunch at none other than McDonalds, solely for the fact that everything else was crazy expensive.  Simple things like a candy bar cost 4x the amount that they do here in Edinburgh.  I got just a Big Mac sandwich, no fries or anything, and it cost me, after the exchange rate about $8.  Pretty sweet right? gotta love being in one of the most expensive cities in the world…

We did some shopping, but everything was just so darn much so I didnt buy anything, and then headed back to the hostel for a nap.  We then went out for some “traditional Norwegian food” which I’m not really sure what that is still, but we went to this little pub that locals like to go to.  I ended up getting weinershnitzle, which i know isnt very Scandanavian, but it’s still something I’ve never had before. It was absolutely delicious and I will certainly have some again.  Here’s seamoose trying some

Silje, who’s Julias roomate back in Edinburgh, is from Oslo and invited us to a party at one of her friend’s flats. Silje ended up coming to Oslo for the weekend with us to visit her family, and it was kind of nice cause she was able to point us in the right direction for where to go.

After taking several modes of transportation to get to this flat, we arrived in east bumshoe norway, just to turn around and leave again like 10 minutes later.  That was quite alright, it was an adventure, and it was cool to see a typical Norwegian flat. We went back to the city centre, walked around and saw some pubs, and then headed back to our hostel. 

Sunday morning arrived quickly and we had a whole other day of sighsteeing ahead of us.  We walked around the city center some more, and took a boat tour of the Fjord. (pronounced Fey-yord, or if you’re Julia, F-jord, hehe). The boat ride was fun, it definitely gave a different perspective of the city, but it was absolutely freezing!

Akershus from the Fjord

In the background, if you look closely you can see the ski-jumping stadium, which I thought was really cool

The boat tour took us across the Fjord, where all of the museums were located, and we ended up going to this outdoor heritage museum, which is a lot like Williamsburg, or Sturbridge Villiage or something.  It was cool, we got to see how they lived in the viking times and beyond, but it was so cold by the end of the day.  We grabbed a bus back to our hostel and it was time to head back to the airport.

Some things I observed about Oslo are:

 1. There are a lot of 7-11s, but no slurpees! There was litterally one on every street corner, it seemed like.  We found this highly amusing, but it ended up being to our advantage because everything else was so expensive this ended up being our cheapest option for food.

2. The city has a way different feel than Edinburgh or Dublin.  There are a lot more newer buildings which are much taller, and the architecture is very modern. But, there are still older sections of the city, and lots of cool views.

3. This is the cleanest city I’ve ever been to. Hands down. Granted I didnt go to all of it, but everything I saw was gorgeous.

4. Some day I would love to go to the northern part of Norway to see the countryside and the beautiful cliffs and all this stuff I saw in the post cards in the gift shop.  And I would love to see more of Scandanavia. The people were sooo friendly and helpful, and a good majority of them spoke very good English.

I’m not going to any other parts of Europe until Corey comes to visit me in just three weeks, when I meet him in London! I am so excited.  I think next weekend we’re going to see some abbeys around southern Scotland, and then maybe go to Glasgow (a city about 100 miles due west of here) and there is some fireworks show to see too.  We’re also going to a Scottish Premier League football game too, so exciting!

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I am so blessed and thrilled to say that I have now been to Ireland. Being that my family is very proud of our Irish heritage, I was very excited to learn a little more about the country.
We got flights there for about £30, which is $45 round trip. That’s right, round trip. Unfortunately, this cheap price came with consequences. Our flight left at 8am Saturday morning, and with all the new US citizen Europe travel advisory crap, we decided to get to the airport a wee bit early just to make sure we got cleared.

So one thing I am super excited about is the ease of getting to the Airport here in Edinburgh. There is a shuttle bus, for £6 round trip, that runs about every 10 minutes starting at 4am to the airport. Its about a 15 minute walk away from me, I really cant beat that. So at 4:45 we went over to Waverly Bridge and caught the 5:05 bus to the airport. We made it to the airport by 5:30, and made it through security by 5:45. So we had an hour and a half till boarding. Nice. After a quick nap in the terminal, we boarded our flight.

Now I know what people mean by “budget flying”. This plane didn’t even have seat back pockets, and I felt like the chairs I were sitting on where built by Hasbro. Alas we made it to Dublin in one piece, found our way to a bus and hopped on towards downtown. I thought for some reason that the bus would be scenic, but it really wasn’t I ended up dozing off for a few minutes.

We made our way to the hostel, but weren’t able to check in cause it was still only 10:30 in the morning. We went and grabbed some food, and decided to start exploring Dublin. Since it was a Saturday, it seemed like it was very touristy, lots of tour busses and people walking, pretty crowded in the streets.
We headed to Trinity College, which I heard is a must see, and wow all I can say is that the Trinity campus rivals Harvards. It is enclosed by buildings similarly to Harvard, with a beautiful center area. A famous attraction is the book of Kells, which is some very renditions of the Gosepels, written by Celtic Monks in 800A.D. After the ogling of some Irish football players, we walked around the Liffy, which is the river that runs along Dublin. The views from the Liffy were beautiful, especially some of the bridges that cross it.

So fortunately my friend Kristina knows about this free tour that is offered to college students in certain European cities, and to our delight, there was one in Dublin. Basically what this consists of is a college-age or recently graduated student who knows a lot about the city provides free tours to students travelling. The tour lasted about 3 hours, and we got to see Dublin castle, the Christ Cathedral, the Temple Bar District, the “Stiffy on the Liffy” (sorry at this point I cant remember the real name of the gigantic pole in Dublin), the Parliament type house, and a few various statues throughout the city. After about 3 hours, and some interesting characters along the way, we ended up in a beautiful park, and lo and behold, there was a wedding!
We did a little bit of shopping, which even though I was warned that Dublin is expensive, they also use the Euro there, so I had to be careful to think about the Euro value vs. the dollar value vs. the pound value, and whether or not I was getting a good deal. It started turning into some sort of algebra equation, so I ended up just getting some stuff if I thought it was a decent price.

That night we went out for some traditional Irish food at a pub, I ended up having the beef stew. All the years of eating my grandma’s yummy beef stew, I love it, and this one had lamb in it. Quite delicious. We ended up meeting some people from Boston (they’re everywhere) who were next to us, who actually had some mutual friends. As I bored my friends discussing Engineering plastics manufacturing, we decided to head to the temple bar district.
This district is sort of known as the touristy pub area that you think of when you picture a Dublin night scene. Lots of singing, people in the streets, tourists and shenanigans. Oh and Guinness. It was a good time though.
Sunday brought us to a self guided tour around St. Patricks Cathedral, which was absolutely breathtaking. The outside alone was gorgeous, and unfortunately I couldn’t see the inside.

We went to Dublinia, which is a Viking museum, that highlights the Viking invasion of Dublin. Apparently it had a big impact on the culture here. It was a very interactive museum, and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it. There was an observatory at the top, which had a nice view of the city, and lots of pretty stained glass. For some reason, the museum is connected to the Christ Church, so we got to see that as well.

After this, we headed to the Guinness factory for some good ole Guinness fun. Not going to lie here, I was pretty disappointed. Instead of it being an actual factory tour, it was more of a museum devoted to the process of brewing Guinness, with fake equipment and video screens simulating what actually happens. While it was interesting, I would’ve preferred to see the real thing. My favorite part of the factory was the design of the inside, even though I’m petrified of heights (who knew?!). The inside of the factory is shaped like a pint glass, and as you tour the museum you eventually make it to the top, which has the gravity bar, the best part. Every entrant gets a free pint of Guinness (provided they’re above age, of course) so I gave Andy my voucher (I think Guinness is gross) and let him enjoy it (Almost too much, hehe). The gravity bar has spectacular views of the city, and although the visibility wasn’t the best, it was still really nice.

By this point we were all really tired, looked around a few more shops, had an early dinner (bangers and mash, YUM!! And sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, YUMMER!, and called it a night. We had a 6:30am flight the next morning and didn’t want to be totally exhausted for class, what good students we are 😉

Oh yeah, so this was my first time ever staying at a hostel, and I have to say it was a pretty pleasant experience. I felt like I was at summer camp again, which really isn’t a big deal to me. We had our own room, which was nice, and it had a sink and stuff, we only had to share toilets and showers. The beds were more comfortable than here in Edinburgh! While it was a little loud, it definitely suited our needs.
Ultimately, as much fun as Dublin was, I am very glad that I am here in Edinburgh. I’ve been here for over 5 weeks (I know, right?) and I still haven’t seen the whole city. Dublin is pretty quaint compared to Edinburgh, but definitely a fun place to visit for a couple days 

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