Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Our destination this past April was to Norway, and I am so thankful for the six days we spent there. For me, Norway has been my most breathtaking travel experience to date and it's forever going my list of return destinations.
I brought my mother along for the journey. We were waiting to book our flight from JFK to Oslo. Note that if you want to save even more, flights from Boston International tend to be even cheaper. You can book a ticket on Megabus direct to Boston if you have the time to spare.
When we landed in Oslo I had trouble connecting my phone to the free wifi. Near the Car Rental pickup is a service booth that sells sim cards. I spent $30 for 5GB of data and ended up using it all during my stay in Norway and Ireland. Consider buying one on Amazon.
Save A LOT of money on a GPS or Portable MiFi unit and download Google Maps Offline. Check out my article on how to use Google Maps Offline.
We picked up our rental car without much trouble. I had preregistered an automatic since I don't drive manual. We were expecting a Volkswagen Golf, but were surprised with a BMW Hybrid!
The drive to the hotel was smooth. (It was an adjustment getting used to the lack of stop signs though!)
While we love the location and the staff, the hotel was going under construction while we visited and the drilling was a bit of a disturbance when we first arrived. It stopped in the evening though and sleep was spectacular. I would suggest making sure construction is complete before booking.
Address: Karl Johans gate 31, 0159 Oslo, Norway
Once we settled into the room and made sure family and loved ones knew we survived the flight, we set out to explore the city. I looked up places to eat nearby and we found Fiskeriet Youngstorget. It's a seafood restaurant, bar and fresh seafood shop where you can buy and take away as well. The food was delicious and it was a great first meal in Norway.
While the places I found on Trip Advisor were great, we found a beautiful set of bars and shops tucked away in a narrow alleyway not far from Fiskeriet. It was my favorite find in the city, and was full of local people enjoying drinks. Feeling brave, I asked a few people for suggestions and everyone gave great advice for where to visit and explore during our short time in Oslo and Norway. I giggled over drinks at Angst Bar, which isn't as anxiety ridden as its name suggests.
Some chocolate ice cream while sitting on the harbor steps ended our adventure for the night. Even if it's cold, you'll be able to sit outside. We found that nearly every restaurant offered many warm blankets and/or outside heaters to encourage you to enjoy the beauty outside, regardless of the chilly evening air.
Once more, if you have the option to stay a few nights in Norway, I highly suggest it. Loved my time there and look forward to returning.
Monday, May 9, 2016
I learned the hard way that renting a GPS for a road trip is expensive. We had two rental cars while filming a documentary in France and Belgium and ended up spending $50 a day for both cars to have a GPS for 8 days! We could have put $400 toward production or post production if we had only known to use Google Maps Offline.
Here is how you can save money on your road trip.
- Open the app while connected to Wifi.
- (You can do this over data too...but why would you want to do that?)
- Click the Menu Settings.
- (The lines on the upper left.)
- Login to Google Account.
- (Make one if you don't have an account already.)
- Click Offline Areas.
- Click the + to Add Area.
- Choose the section of map you'll need.
- Example: Philadelphia
- Do you need to download ALL of Philadelphia, or just a portion?
- Save space and download what you need as you need it.
- Name your map.
- Click Save & ENJOY!
SOME HELPFUL TIPS
I've run into the issue where I didn't download the proper section. It will tell you that it's unable to direct you to your final destination.
Prep the night before and save yourself the stress in the morning. JFK airport does not have free wifi so if you're flying to Europe out of JFK I would advise you download your map to your first Airbnb or Hotel before you fly out.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
We have made it to Norway, and really enjoy it here. We have ventured about Oslo, and driven to Eidfjord, and Bergen. Tomorrow we head off to Flåm and Sogn og Fjordane. I cannot wait to share my journey in full detail. Follow the blog and other social media for continuous updates and video as we travel.
Monday, March 28, 2016
I will start by saying that I have been to Lancaster before, but not as a tourist. I remember going with family when I was little, but I don't remember much aside from being obsessed with horse and buggies and the bonnets that the girls wore.
Before planning the trip, Ninni had mentioned that she was moving home to Finland. She wanted to plan a short road trip with myself, Eri, and Kanako. It would be her pre-sendoff party. Eri found us a place to stay, we set a date and drove out to Amish country.
We caught the last hour of the Lancaster Central Market and bought various cheeses, meats, fruits, and veggies for our dinner. In short, it was a smaller Reading Terminal Market, for those who have visited the Philadelphia market. From here, we made our way to the Airbnb that we had booked.
We stayed in an AirBnB for the night. I cannot recommend the loft that we stayed in enough. It's in a lovely location that is centrally located between Lancaster City, and Strasburg. The family didn't bother us and it really felt like our own place. It is part of a renovated old barn that they turned into a carriage house.
As writers, Ninni and I swooned over the desk that stored itself under the staircase. I sat quietly in the morning and typed away while drinking some complementary tea provided by our hosts.
|Photo Credit: Eri for the pictures of me.|
We ended up spending a great deal more time in Strasburg. There were fantastic antique shops, cafes, and restaurants. While we went to Lancaster with the intension of being tourists...I loath tourist traps. Finding our way to Strasburg was a pleasant surprise filled with heritage, warmth, and homemade ice-cream.
My personal favorite stop was to Java Junction. (I will forever have regrets about not trying their Loaded Potato Soup.) They were a welcoming staff, they had a wonderful menu for lunch. I would say that they are a great local Lancaster/Strasburg stop if you're on a budget!
After our day of exploring we spent time back at our charming Airbnb and feasted on the food we purchased at the market earlier that day and had an amazing nights sleep.
Our Lancaster stay-over was fun, yet relaxing. The four of us work daily in center city, Philadelphia so it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle.
Budget wise, we spent $70 each for the whole trip.
This included the cost of travel, stay, food purchased, and meals out.
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- Lancaster, PA
- Key West, FL
- Giant's Causeway
- COMING SOON
- COMING SOON
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