Louvre Museum – Paris

My Trip to Paris in May 2016  would be the third time visiting the French capital. I have posted a blog (here)on my previous experiences in the city and it is worth a read for tips on what to do in the city of style.

This blog is going to focus on my  visit  to the Louvre Museum. In my previous post I stated that the old Grand Palace of Louvre and the museum was an impressive, beautifully preserved and a stunning piece of architecture. The historic palace buildings wrap themselves around the magnificent modern glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum.  The old and new work together in harmony and is testament of how historical and new architecture can compliment each other. And my previous sentiments still remain the museum and the palace are truly astonishing.

Louvre Palace, Paris, France
The Old Grand Palace and Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Old Grand Palace and Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Old Grand Palace and Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Old Grand Palace and Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Old Grand Palace and Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France
Me outside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Me outside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

We bought our ticket for entry into the museum online for approximately £13.  We joined the queue, only to get to the front and be old to go collect our tickets from an outside kiosk. I should have read the note on the website more carefully as it did say that the collection point for the tickets is from a newsagent kiosk outside the museum. Nevertheless we made the 10 mins detour to the kiosk, rejoined the queue and was inside the museum within 30 minutes.
It is as impressive inside as it is outside, but somewhat overwhelming after all it is the largest museum in the world. We had particular pieces we wanted to see, the Mona Lisa being at the top of the list followed closely by the Venus de milo

Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France 3
Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa is tiny and it was hard to get a good view of, in a melee of elbows and flashes, I took  the photo below and got out the mix quickly.  I wasn’t moved by the painting, I have seen several Rembrandt self portraits and they have a pull and enchantment that the Mona Lisa did not have for me, perhaps the crowd of people diminished the experience. Still it was good to see in person what is arguably the most famous painting in the world.

The Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Venus de milo
I  developed a desire to see the Venus de milo because of an anime I had watched, I can no longer recall the name of the anime but story surrounded an artist desire to capture perfection he had seen in the Venus de milo. From there I desired to see the real thing and in some ways I wish she had remained out of reach because I was rather underwhelmed by her.  However I still suggest you go see her as your experience may likely differ to mine.

Venus de milo, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Venus de milo, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

I believe the Mona Lisa and Venus de milo are victims of their own success, they are so well know and their images are used all over the world, that the power of the first encounter with a piece of art is severely diminished with them. I really do believe my experiences with the pieces would have been different if I knew nothing or had not see them before.

Other Pieces in the Museum
I had a great time in the Louvre discovering new pieces of art some of which are shown below.

Diane à la biche (Artemis with a Doe), Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Diane à la biche (Artemis with a Doe), Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Vénus et Vulcain, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Venus et Vulcain, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Saint Pierre pleurant devant la Vierge, dit aussi Les Larmes de saint Pierre, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Saint Pierre pleurant devant la Vierge, dit aussi Les Larmes de saint Pierre, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Yangere, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Yangere, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Yangere, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Yangere, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Easter Island Sculpture, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Easter Island Sculpture, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Fon, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Fon, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture, Kwakwaka'wakw, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture, Kwakwaka’wakw, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Bamendou, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Sculpture Bamendou, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Overall the Louvre Museum is a great place to visit, the vibe is electrifying the amount of creativity and history located in the museum vibrate of the walls. I could happily spend a whole week in the museum  intoxicated in the creative and brilliance  of man.

If you’ve enjoyed my review or not leave a comment.
Or if you want any advice for your trip drop leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.

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Copenhagen – Denmark

I went to Copenhagen in March 2015 for 3 nights and as usual I stayed in a hostel, I stay in hostels for the socialising opportunities more so than to save on costs.

The first thing I did in Copenhagen was to buy a 48 hour hop on hop off bus ticket. These type of bus tours are a great way to see as much of a city in a short period of time.  The next thing I did was book myself onto a free walking tour, another great way to learn about  the city.

Copenhagen Free Walking Tour, Denmark
Copenhagen Free Walking Tour, Denmark

What I Did

Church of Our Saviour or Vor Frelsers Kirke
This church is located in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. The church’s brown and gold spire can be seen from miles around and on a clear day,  the sun against the gold dome at the top acts like a light beacon drawing people to it.  The main reason I visited this church was to climb up its tower, there are 400 steps to the top of the spire, the last 150 being outside. This is an old church so the steps are narrow and rickety and there is no place or time to rest  on the ascent or descent as there is a constant flow of people going up and down. I think I paid the equivalent of £5 to climb up, don’t quote me on that but either way it is very cheap.

Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on the Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on the Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View of Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark

Christiania
Christiania is an autonomous neighbourhood of close to 1000 residents. Abandoned army barracks  were squatted by arty types in the 1970s.  Cannabis has been freely traded in the area since then and still is, hence why photographs are forbidden in the area.  I really liked Christiania, I am a hippy at heart and I  liked that these people where able to take a disused area and build something worthwhile. It is the home of the Christiania bikes used by the Princess of Denmark. Also I had an amazing Vegetarian meal in one of the cafes.

Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark (Picture not Mine)
Christiania Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiania Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mural in Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mural in Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vegetarian Meal at Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vegetarian Meal at Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark

Christiansborg Palace or Christiansborg Slot
Christiansborg Palace is both a palace and government buildings. The Tarnet Tower at the centre of the buildings offers aerial views of the city, there is something about being high up that makes me feel extra liberated. Entrance to the tower is free  and there is a lift to take you up.

Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark

St Alban’s Church
St Alban’s church is an English Anglican church in a peaceful park located in the Nordre Tolbold area next to the citadel Kastellet (a well pressured army fortress) and the Gefion Fountain. I liked this little church for its simplicity.

St Alban's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban’s Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban's Church and Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban’s Church and Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside St Alban's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside St Alban’s Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenghagen, Denmark
Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark

Little Mermaid
Within the same vicinity of St Alban’s Church is the Little Mermaid statue. I could barely get a clear view of the statue as it is quiet small and there were loads of tourist around wanting to see the famous statue.  And no she does not have red hair or a turquoise fin.

Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at the Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at the Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is an art museum, the collection is built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries. I did not go inside as I had limited time but I managed to find a gem in the gardens outside the museum. I came across Rodin’s ‘Thinker’, this really made my day.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Devil Sculpture, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Devil Sculpture, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rodin's Thinker at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rodin’s Thinker at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Back of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Back of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Round Tower or Rundetarn
The Round Tower in Copenhagen was  one of the last  places I visited in Copenhagen. It is free to go inside, there is also a small gallery, mid way up and best of all there is viewing platform for aerial views of city. I never got tired of seeing Copenhagen from up high.

The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View From The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View From The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark

Just Walking Around
Walking around is what I like best, getting lost in the hopes I stumble across unique and interesting aspects of the city and Copenhagen didn’t disappoint.

A Colourful Square in Copenhagen, Denmark
A Colourful Square in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark
Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
The MarbleChurch From The Courtyard of The Royal Palaces, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church From The Courtyard of The Royal Palaces, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ship on Copenhagen Harbour, Denmark
Ship on Copenhagen Harbour, Denmark

My Review of the City
Copenhagen is a great city, it is vibrant, culturally rich and has a great history. The city is expensive but you can definitely visit even with a strict budget. I had a great time in the city and I would like to return to explore some more especially in Christiana.  An all round great destination for anyone who wants to experience a Northern European City.

If you’ve enjoyed my review or not or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.
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Dublin – Ireland

I decided I need to see more of the countries and cities neighbouring where I live (London) so I decided to take a trip to Dublin in Ireland. The Currency used in Ireland is the Euro, £1 (GBP) is equivalent to €1.30 (Euros).

Cost of my trip
My flight from London Stanstead to Dublin cost €13 (£10) and my accommodation at Abigail’s hostel costs €104.80 (£81.54) for 4 nights.

The weather
It was December so it was cold, I needed my large coat, scarf, hat and gloves. The Emerald isles surely get cold during winter.

Where I stayed
Abigail’s Hostel
The hostel was centrally located on Aston Quay with views of the River Liffy. It was decent, the hostel room had an en-suite and the breakfast (included) was typical of continental Europe. The hotel was value for money and I recommend it for ease of access to the main attractions.

Abigail's Hostel, Dublin, Ireland
Abigail’s Hostel, Dublin, Ireland (This photo is not mine)
Inside Abigail's Hostel, Dublin, Ireland
Inside Abigail’s Hostel, Dublin, Ireland (This photo is not mine)

What I did

Dublin Free Walking Tour
I went on a Sandemans free walking tour, I find this is the best way to learn about a new city, the tour guides are usually history students and they have great knowledge of the city and culture. The guide on this tour was no exception, he was great fun.

Sandemans Free Walking Tour, Dubin, Ireland
Sandemans Free Walking Tour, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Castle
The Castle is rather unusual in that it doesn’t look much like a Castle in the main courtyard, however the old prison attached to the rear of the castle is a lot more interesting and typical of medieval architecture.

The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin, Castle
The Rear of Dublin, Castle

Trinity College
The university grounds  are beautiful and steeped in history and culture, I would have loved being a student here. Trinity college is also the home to the exhibition of The Book of Kells and The Long Room library .

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College Clock Tower, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College Clock Tower, Dublin, Ireland

The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is beautifully decorated and written in Latin, it contains the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various introductory texts and tables. It truly is a masterpiece of Western calligraphy, the book is widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. There is an entrance fee of €10 to the exhibition, photographs are not allowed therefore I have no pictures of my own to share with you, I highly recommend a visit to the exhibition.

Book of Kells, Ireland, Dublin
Book of Kells, Ireland, Dublin

The Long room
The entrance to the Long room is at the end of the Book of Kells exhibition, it is a fantastic library where the books are arranged by height, it is said finding a book can take a good while. Being surrounded by all that knowledge made me feel smart, the knowledge seemed to seep out and permeate the air.

The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

The City Hall
The City Hall is a fine example of 18th-century architecture, the exterior is beautiful but the inside is even more impressive, as you walk through the doors you are met with a beautifully painted gold dome. There wasn’t anything to do in building except appreciate the architecture and empty space.

The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The Dome of The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The Dome of The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
Inside The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
Inside The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMoMA)
The IMoMA is located in a fantastic building on beautiful grounds. It was free to get into the main exhibition.

The IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The Rear of IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The Rear of IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
Gary Hume, Back of Snowman, IMoMa, Dublin, Ireland
Gary Hume, Back of Snowman, IMoMa, Dublin, Ireland
Isaac Julien, Love Hate, IMOMA, Dublin, Ireland
Isaac Julien, Love Hate, IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland

The Formal Gardens
The gardens are located next to the IMoMA, it is immaculately kept and you can tell a lot of love and care goes into looking after the gardens. It was a dry and sunny day so I sat under the winter sun for while just enjoying the gardens.

The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin at Night
Seeing a city at night you get a totally different vibe than you would get during the day, Dublin’s vibe was much sexy and somewhat romantic especially around the River Liffy.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Dublin at Night, Ireland
Dublin at Night, Ireland
Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin, Ireland
The Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Padlocks of Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Padlocks of Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The River Liffy, Dublin, Ireland
The River Liffy, Dublin, Ireland
Light on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
Light on O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
St Andrew's Dublin, Ireland
St Andrew’s Dublin, Ireland

Other sights and things of Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
The Guinness Factory, Dublin, Ireland
The Guinness Factory, Dublin, Ireland
Street Art of Dublin, Ireland
Street Art of Dublin, Ireland
Monument, Dublin, Ireland
Monument, Dublin, Ireland

My Review of the City
Dublin is a crazy, sexy and cool city. I will describe it as a smaller compact London which is actually more expensive but with nicer people. I definitely would love to return to Dublin as part of a bigger trip through Southern Ireland. All in all Dublin is a great city.

If you’ve enjoyed my review, or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you and if you follow my blog you will be notified as I upload more posts.

Glasgow – Scotland

I went to Scotland mainly to visit Edinburgh and experience the  Fringe Festival.  But as  Glasgow was only 1 hour away by train and approx £12 for a return ticket i decided to visit the city on my first day in Scotland for some sight seeing.

What  I did

Glasgow Cathedral
It is free to go into the Cathedral and it is well worth the visit. A small Cathedral but it has a special feel and magic to it.

St Giles Cathedral, Glasgow Scotland.jpg
Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland
Inside St Giles Cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland 3.jpg
Inside Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland
Inside St Giles Cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland 2.jpg
Inside Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland
Me outside St Giles Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland
Me outside Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland

St George’s Square and Glasgow City Chambers
St George’s square is a great place to sit, think and people watch and the Glasgow City Chambers make a great backdrop for the beautiful square.

George Square, Glasgow, Scotland.jpg
George Square and Glasgow city Chambers, Scotland
Glasgow City Chambers, Scotland
Glasgow City Chambers, Scotland

Glasgow Botanic Garden and Doulton Fountain
Glasgow Botanic Garden and Doulton Fountain are both in the same area of the city. Entrance to the amazing gardens is free and the Dolton Fountain in the target terracotta fountain in the world, both are indeed worth a visit.

The Doulton Fountain, Glasgow Scotland.jpg
The Doulton Fountain, Glasgow Scotland
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Scotland
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Scotland
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Scotland 1.jpg
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Scotland

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and Other sights of Glasgow
As I walked the city I came across many beautiful buildings and sights.

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland.jpg
Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland
Cylesdale Bank Headquaters in Glasgow, Scotland
Cylesdale Bank Headquaters in Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland.jpg
Glasgow, Scotland
Argyll Arcade, Glasgow, Scotland.jpg
Argyll Arcade, Glasgow, Scotland
A nice building in Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland

Review of Glasgow
Glasgow has a rather unpleasant reputation however I found the city to be charming and full of surprises. I may not take a trip to Glasgow in the future but if I am in close proximity to the city, I will definitely visit the again.

Shortly I will upload a blog of my trip to Edinburgh and my experience of the Fringe Festival, please follow my blog to find out more and you will be notified as I upload more posts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

 

Santiago de Cuba – Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is only 16 hours away from Havana via Viazul (the Cuban intercity coach service) however it felt like a world away from Havana. The cost of the Viazul from Havana to Santiago de Cuba was CUC51. You will need ID to book your ticket so make sure you take it with you, also the route from Havana to Santiago is very popular so it is advisable to book 24hours in advance.
Havana is where my trip began in Cuba and you can read about it in my previous via this link. We stayed 3 days and 2 nights in Santiago de Cuba.

The city was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and it was still recovering from the aftermath, with many buildings destroyed and in disrepair. This is one of the reasons I believe the Cubans we met in Santiago De Cuba were a little more aggressive in selling you their wares or services. The worst offenders were the taxi drivers who were very persistent adopting a hard sell and stalk sales pitch.

Apart from those selling service or wares there are also young people who go around trying to befriend foreigners in the hopes of a tip or a hookup. We unfortunately encountered one such young man within 10mins of leaving our Casa particular on the first day in the city and it took 2 hours to get rid of him.

The Weather
The temperature in Havana was a manageable 27 degrees for a British person like me, Santiago de Cuba on the other hand was HOT, the first day was a sweltering 37 degrees at the highest point

Where I stayed

Hostal Atardecer
This wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either, the lady in charge of the Casa (Yulia), was very lovely and made us feel very warm and comfortable. The breakfast was good and Yulia did her best to give us tips on things to do in the city. We paid CUC74 for 2 people for 2 nights and this included 3 lots of breakfast.

Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 2.jpg
Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Hostal Atardecer, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

What I did

Balcón de Velázquez
This is a balcony overlooking the city facing seawards. It is great place to hide from the hot afternoon sun. It is literally just a balcony with a small shop selling souvenirs, therefore I suggest taking a packed lunch and some snacks along with you in case you want to spend some time there. Entrance is free but if you want to take pictures it is CUC1.

Balcón de Velázquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 4.jpg
Balcon de Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Balcón de Velázquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 5.jpg
Balcon de Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View from Balcón de Velázquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
View from Balcon de Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Balcón de Velázquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Balcon de Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View from Balcón de Velázquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
View from Balcon de Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Casa de Diego Velazquez
The museum is the oldest building in Cuba and it is very well-kept. This museum is home to some of the best antiques I have seen anywhere. The French, Italian, Dutch and mostly Spanish influence are clear and evident. The only annoyances were the museum attendants that persisted in taking you around the museum so that you would tip them. However do not let that put you off the museum is too beautiful to pass by, I cant recall the exact entrance fee but I know it is less that CUC5.

Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Inside Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Inside Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Inside Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Inside Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Courtyard of Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Courtyard of Casa de Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Basilica del Cobre and Castillo del Morro
We organised a short excursion with Cuba Tour to Basilica del Cobre and Castillo del Morro, the tour costs CUC18 per person and included the hire of a classic car to the attractions and back to the city centre.

On the way to Basilica del Cobre and Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
On the way to Basilica del Cobre and Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Me in the classic car on the way to Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Me in the classic car on the way to Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The first stop was to Basilica del Cobre a beautiful red dome Cathedral some 18 km north from the centre of Santiago de Cuba. The drive to Cathedral was so lovely that the hot afternoon sun became a distant memory as the wind lapped against our faces as we drove along. The cathedral is truly magnificent, it sits atop a hill overlooking the town below like a guardian. We were very lucky that at the time we went it was quiet and peaceful, which allowed us to really take in the views and feel reverence for the place. The drive to and the Cathedral itself was well worth the price of the excursion.

Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View from Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
View from Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Inside Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Inside Basilica del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

After the cathedral we drove to Castillo del Morro, a fort some 8 km south of the centre of Santiago de Cuba. Leading up to the fort were stall selling souvenirs, trinkets and such like there is also a restaurant and a bar. It was very calming being in the fort looking over the water and feeling the cool sea breeze. Like with many historical buildings in Cuba the fort is very well-kept. Entrance fee to the fort cost CUC4.

Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View from Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
View from Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View from Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
View from Castillo del Morro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Museo del Carnaval
It was interesting to go to this museum to see the history of the carnival in Santiago de Cuba and to see costumes used in past parades. The city holds an annual carnival festival every July. It was free to go inside the museum but to take pictures was CUC3 and an attendant followed you around to make sure you didn’t take any pictures, don’t mind this as the museum is still worth a visit.

Museo El Carnaval, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Museo El Carnaval, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Museo El Carnaval, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Museo El Carnaval, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Jardin de los Helechos
It was worthwhile going to the mini rain forest on the outskirts of the city. The garden started out as a hobby by the owner Manuel G.Caluff  in 1976 and has grown through love and care into one of Santiago’s  most famous attractions.  Entrance to the garden is only CUC3.

Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 2.jpg
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 3.jpg
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 4.jpg
Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Frog in Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Frog in Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Me in Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Me in Jardin de los Helechos, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Truck taxi
To get to the Jardin de los Helados we decided to travel like the locals. Unfortunately we couldn’t figure out which local bus to take, although it was very likely that we wouldn’t have been let on board anyway. However we did manage to get on truck taxis to take us there and back. We later found out that foreigner are normally also not allowed on the truck taxis. Lucky for us though we had two separate guys who didn’t mind foreigners. We did pay over the odds for our fare but for us it was still way cheaper than taking a tourist taxi. We paid CUC5  (CUC2.5 each) there and CUC2 (CUC1 each) back, the first guy certainly ripped us off.

Me in the Truck Taxi, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Me in the Truck Taxi, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Truck Taxi, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Truck Taxi, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Paseo La palcita Show at Parque Céspedes
Parque Cespedes is the main square at the centre of the city and we happened to come across some people setting up for the closing ceremony of Paseo La Placita. The festival is held every year as a closing ceremony for summer. The show was amazing with salsa dancers, Afro-Cubano song and dance and other forms of entertainment.

Paseo la Placita performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Paseo la Placita performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Paseo la Placita performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Paseo la Placita performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Paseo la Placita Afro- Cubano performance, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Paseo la Placita Afro- Cubano performance, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Paseo la Placita Salsa Dancers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Paseo la Placita Salsa Dancers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Paseo la Placita young performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Paseo la Placita young performers, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Paseo la Placita musicians, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Paseo la Placita musicians, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Walking around
We walked around and explored the city, aimlessly wandering was a great way to discover the city’s unique and quirky character.

Classic car on the street of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Classic car on the street of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Scalinata di Padre Pico, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Scalinata di Padre Pico, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Mural of Virgen de Regla at Malecon, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Mural of Virgen de Regla at Malecon, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Boat at Malecon, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Boat at Malecon, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Food and Drink

Breakfast
We paid an additional CUC5 each morning to have breakfast at the Casa and it was worth it. Cuban breakfast is the best.

Casa Micaela
Casa Micaela was one of the best restaurants we ate at, in Cuba, I say this because it served wholesome food for a very reasonable price and not surprising it has a good rating on Tripadvisor and it is recommended in most travel books. We ate there every night we stayed in Santiago de Cuba. A meal with a drink was about CUC8.

Casa Micaela, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
Casa Micaela, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Meal at Casa Micaela, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Meal at Casa Micaela, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

El Baturro
El Baturro is a cool bar and I had the best Mojito I tried a Mojito in Cuba. The atmosphere was chilled and nice.

El Baturro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1.jpg
El Baturro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
El Baturro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
El Baturro, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Hotel Casa Granda
We avoided this Hotel’s bar because it looked too plush and also we felt we would be surrounded by tourists only. However we went there and it was very nice, we sat on the balcony overlooking Parque Cespedes, a great place for people watching and the drinks were not much more expensive than the local bars.

Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View of Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncio from Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
View of Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncio from Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
View of Parque Cespedes from Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.jpg
View of Parque Cespedes from Hotel Casa Granda, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Review of Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba although not as beautiful or bustling as Havana has its own charm, I am sure it was even better before Hurricane Sandy came along. Nevertheless it is still worth the visit with many things to do mostly around the city, I would recommend hiring a car so that you can get around easily. If I ever go back to Cuba I will return to this city.

So what next
Next stop is  Sancti Spiritus in the middle of the island.

Do you want to find out what we did in Sancti Spiritus and how it compared to  Santiago de Cuba and Havana? Then follow my blog to find out more and you will be notified as I upload more posts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Havana – Cuba

I went to Cuba for two weeks and went to four places on the island; Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Vinales. I also attempted to go to Sancti Spiritus however that is a story I will tell in the following series of posts. I will do four further posts on Cuba over the next four weeks one for each place that I went to.

Cost of trip
My return flight from London to Havana via Madrid cost £585 and it took 15 hours in total, there are direct flights from London to Havana that cost around £900 and take 10 hours.
I paid £114 for all my accommodation over the two weeks, however I will specify further in the following posts.

Currency
There are two currencies in Cuba one is Cuban Peso (CUP) for locals, the other is the Convertible Peso (CUC) for tourists. there are 24 CUP’s to 1 CUC.  Tourists can use the CUP, but it is mostly used by Cubans to pay for their rations, their electricity and water, to buy food in the markets and from stallholders in the streets and to eat or drink in ‘peso’ bars and restaurants.  Basically, as a tourist, you do not have to worry at all about the Cuban peso.

The Convertible Peso is a closed currency, which means it cannot be purchased outside of Cuba. You can change your money at the Cadeca (Money Exchange Bureau) at the Airport on landing in Cuba or at your hotel.

If you reside in the UK you should take Sterling; clean, untorn bills with no writing on them, in £10, £20 or £50 denominations.  Please note that Scottish notes are not acceptable.  Canadians should take Canadian dollars and if you are from a European destination that uses the Euro, then take Euros.  The exchange rate varies on a daily basis, however it is approx 1.5 CUC’s to £1.

Havana

I went on this trip with my current housemate but Cuba is very safe for lone travellers, however it was nice having someone else there to share the experience with. Our trip started in Havana in which we stayed 2 nights before moving on to Santiago de Cuba.

The Weather
We went to Cuba from the 6th to 18th October 2015 which is during the hurricane season however the weather in Havana on the first two days was blue sky and sunshine with the weather being 27 degrees both days.

Where I stayed
We had decided from the beginning of our trip to only stay in Casa particulars as we felt we would have a more authentic trip, also Casa Particulars are a fraction of the price of staying in hotels. Casa particulars  are similar to bed and breakfasts in their operation, the only difference is that most times the Casa Particular also serves as the familiar home, so you get to mingle, chat and live with Cubans.

When booking a Casa particular it is advisable to book one recommended in the travel books or otherwise lookout for the sign below which is the state approval for an abode to operate as a legal Casa Particular.

Casa Particular sign In Cuba. Arrendador Divisa
Casa Particular sign in Cuba. Arrendador Divisa

Havana Vedado- Ada Colonial
Our first stay was in Ada Colonial which was an impressive Casa particular we managed to book online from the UK via Travel Republic. The exterior is not a reflection of the well-kept and nicely decorated interior. The owner was lovely and greeted me with a big hug and a kiss, a pleasant surprise for a stiff British girl like me.
The room was humongous and it had an en-suite with a large jacuzzi bath that four people could have comfortably fit in. The shower was the best of all the Casas we stayed in, there was hot water and the water pressure was good.
Ada colonial was the most expensive Casa we stayed in, at CUC105 for two nights for two people but it was worth it to start of the trip in a great place.

Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
The room we stayed in at Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
The room we stayed in at Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
The ensuite bathroom of our room at Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
The ensuite bathroom of our room at Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
Living room of Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
Living room of Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
Dinning room of Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba
Dinning room of Ada Colonial, Havana, Cuba

What I did

Havana Plaza Vieja
The square was quiet, peaceful and very beautiful, it is also a great place to visit as there are many bars and restaurants on the square, also it is a great place to just sit and people watch. The square is also home  to a memorizing and somewhat sexual statue called Viaje fantastico which is of a naked woman wearing high heels riding a cockerel whilst carrying a fork.

Plaza Vieja
Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba
Plaza Vieja, Havana, cuba
Plaza Vieja, Havana, cuba
Statue by Roberto Fabelo called Viaje fantastico
Statue by Roberto Fabelo called Viaje fantastico
Statue by Roberto Fabelo called Viaje fantastico
Statue by Roberto Fabelo called Viaje fantastico

Walked around Havana Vieja
Aimlessly wandering, getting lost and finding new things if you have read my previous blogs is one of the things I love best when travelling. We walked around Havana Vieja away from the touristic hustle and bustle and found ourselves on quiet streets with the locals. The buildings had the charm of French or Spanish colonial influence, the colours of the tropics and dilapidation all rolled into one. I have never seen crumbling and old buildings so beautiful anywhere else I have been.

Gran Teatro de La Habana, Cuba
Gran Teatro de La Habana, Cuba
Capitol building, Havana Cuba
Capitol building, Havana Cuba
Coco taxi park Havana Vieja, Cuba
Coco taxi park Havana Vieja, Cuba
Bicitaxi Havana Vieja, Cuba
Bicitaxi Havana Vieja, Cuba
Classic Cuban cars, Havana
Classic Cuban cars, Havana
Art, Havana Vieja, Cuba
Art, Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Havana Vieja, Cuba
Men playing chess Havana Vieja, Cuba
Men playing chess Havana Vieja, Cuba

Meet two Cuban salsa teachers
We meet two salsa teacher who took us to Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro where they kindly gave us a list of things we should do and also not do. The Museo de la Revolucion was highly recommended but it turned out that the ladies were club promoters and they kept recommending that we go back that evening to Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro as the Bueno Vista Social Club were performing to celebrate their 50 years anniversary. Not swayed by their sales pitch to buy tickets for the evening event we left to make our way to Museo de la Revolucion.

Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro, Havana, Cuba
Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro, Havana, Cuba

Museo de la Revolucion
Entry to the to the museum costs CUC8, cameras are allowed however all bags must be checked into the cloakroom. The Museo is a beautiful white stone building. It took some damage during the revolution with some 130 bullet holes riddling the front entrance at the peak of the revolution. The exhibits take you through the history of the revolution, giving you insight into some of the goings on during the troublesome time. You can also learn about the revolution heroes such as Che Guevera and Fidel Castro. Mosts of the exhibitions are written in Spanish but it was easy to get the gist.
The wall of cretins was a humorous piece caricaturing the people credited with enabling the revolution through their bankrupt and immoral policies the wall depicts Fulgencio Batista, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush Snr and George W. Bush, Jr.

Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
The inside of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
The inside of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Dome of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Dome of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
The inside of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
The inside of Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Me at The Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Me at The Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Me in a Jeep at Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Me in a Jeep at Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Wall of cretins Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba
Wall of cretins Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

Walked along Malecon (Havana Harbour)
We walked along Malecon during the late afternoon which was nice and relaxing, on the way we meet another traveller named Jessica who joined us on our walk to enjoy the beautiful views of the harbour.

Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Building along Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Building along Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Building along Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Building along Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Primerva by Rafael M.San Juan, Malecon, Havana, Cuba
Primerva by Rafael M.San Juan, Malecon, Havana, Cuba

Centro Havana
Centro is a district of Havana that has many historical places to visit but is also the down town area of Havana. The area was not as clean as other areas we had been to and many of the buildings were dilapidated but they had a certain charm and beauty to them. Whilst walking around and taking pictures two local women separately warned us to put our cameras way as we would be mugged otherwise. It wasn’t until we left the area that we read in our travel book that Centro Havana is an area to be weary of due to tourist muggings. I didn’t feel unsafe walking around Centro Havana until the women approached us, I didn’t feel any air of hostility from those in the area.

Iglesia Del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Centro Havana, Cuba
Iglesia Del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Centro Havana, Cuba
Iglesia Del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Centro Havana, Cuba
Iglesia Del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba
Centro Havana, Cuba

Walked Vedado
Vedado is one of the wealthy districts of  Havana and it is very evident when walking around the area, the houses are grand and impressive remnants of Spanish and French colonial rule.

Iglesia Metodista Univeritaria del Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Iglesia Metodista Univeritaria del Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Building in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Building in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
House in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
House in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Houses in Vedado, Havana, Cuba

Hotel Havana Libre
This hotel is not as impressive as you would imagine, it took us ages to find the hotel as we kept getting lost. However we felt it was worth the visit to see one of the places Fidel Castro had made his head quarters during the revolution. It is worth going to, to see an important piece of Cuban history but I suggest making it part of something else you are doing; like walking along Malecon.

Havana Libre, Cuba
Havana Libre, Cuba

Food and Drink

Breakfast was included in the price of our stay in the Casa, Cuban breakfast is very nice and large, due to the size of breakfast we didn’t need to eat lunch. The best bits about breakfast were the fruit salad and coffee, Cuban coffee is like silk very smooth and rich. The tropical fruit salad usually consisted of melon, guava, banana and papaya it was a good way to start the day.

Casa Ada Colonial breakfast, Havana, Cuba
Casa Ada Colonial breakfast, Havana, Cuba

Esquinas Trattoria
The restaurant is not far from Museo de la Revolucion, the pizza was delicious, huge and only CUC4. The Mojito I had at the restaurant was also the second best I had in all Cuba and believe me I had load of Mojitos.

Esquinas Trattoria, Havana, Cuba
Esquinas Trattoria, Havana, Cuba
Esquinas Trattoria Pizza, Havana, Cuba
Esquinas Trattoria Pizza, Havana, Cuba
Esquinas Trattoria Mojito, Havana, Cuba
Esquinas Trattoria Mojito, Havana, Cuba

Bar Montserrat
Bar Montserrat is a very cool bar near the Capitol building, with amazing cocktails, good food and live music, the bar is popular with Cubans and tourists alike.

Bar Monserrate, Havana, Cuba
Bar Monserrate, Havana, Cuba
Bar Monserrate Band Havana, Cuba
Bar Monserrate Band Havana, Cuba

Review of Havana
Havana set a very pleasant tone for the rest of the 12 days we would spend in Cuba, staying in Ada Colonial in Vedado which is akin to Manhattan in New York or Chelsea in London was very nice , meeting the Cuban salsa teacher and Jessica also left us on a high after the first two days.

What next?
The next stop was Santiago de Cuba in the south of the island.

Do you want to find out what we did in Santiago de Cuba and how it compared to Havana? Then follow my blog to find out more and you will be notified as I upload more posts.

Oslo – Norway

I went to Oslo, Norway in March 2015, it was my second Northern European country to visit and my second trip to Scandinavia.

How long I stayed
I stayed 3 days and 2 nights, I arrived Friday afternoon and left on Sunday afternoon.

The weather
It was March and the weather was as still very cold, it wasn’t more than 4 degrees and the Saturday was overcast making it feel even cooler.

The cost of trip
A return flight from London Stanstead to Oslo Rygge cost £40 return, it would have been £20 but that is a story for another day. 3 days and 2 nights stay at the hostel cost £53, so in all flights and accommodation cost £93.

Where I stayed
I stayed at the Oslo Hostel Central, the hostel was in a good location, being 5 mins walk to Akershus Fortress and Oslo Harbour and 10mins walk from the Oslo central station and Oslo Opera and Ballet House. The hostel was clean and the staff friendly.

Oslo Hostel Central
Oslo Hostel Central

What I did

Oslo Cathedral/ Oslo Domkirke
I was privy to watch a youth choir rehearsing for a show, they sounded amazing and truly angelic. Oslo Cathedral/ Oslo Domkirke is gorgeous and I loved the internal decor.

Oslo Catherdral - Oslo Domkirke
Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke
Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke
Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke
Inside Oslo Catherdral - Oslo Domkirke
Inside Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke
Inside Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke
Inside Oslo Catherdral/ Oslo Domkirke

Oslo Ballet and Opera House
I felt like a child at a candy store, I loved that Oslo Ballet and Opera House felt like one giant piece of interactive sculpture. You can walk up the sides onto the roof, the roof has different levels, falls and surface textures to play with. I went there twice, once during the day and the second was at night the view of Oslo were amazing and I got some amazing pictures of the city and of my shadow against the building.

Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
Oslo Opera and Ballet House
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
View from Oslo Opera and Ballet House at Night
My shadow on Oslo Opera and Ballet House
My shadow on Oslo Opera and Ballet House
My shadow on Oslo Opera and Ballet House
My shadow on Oslo Opera and Ballet House

Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress sits overlooking Oslo harbour. Akershus Fortress was the first place I went to when I arrived in Oslo, it was a happy accident as I had thought I was going to Old Aker Church but I had misread the map and ended up at the fortress. I visited during early evening, it was quiet and peaceful,  a very good place to unwind, I felt serene watching the sun set over Oslo harbour. Entrance is free to the fortress and guided tours can be organised.

Akershus Fortress from Oslo Harbour
Akershus Fortress from Oslo Harbour
Akerhus Fortress, Oslo
Akerhus Fortress, Oslo
Akershus Fortress, Oslo
Akershus Fortress, Oslo
Akerhus Fortress, Oslo
Akerhus Fortress, Oslo
Akershus Fortress Castle, Oslo
Akershus Fortress Castle, Oslo
Side of Akershus Castle, Oslo
Side of Akershus Castle, Oslo

Old Aker Church
Old Aker Church is the oldest building in Oslo and was built in the 1100s. A quaint little church that sits high up, the views from the grounds over Oslo are pretty amazing. It is very peaceful, spiritual and a good place to sit and reflect. There are graves on the grounds but I didn’t mind them and I spent an hour there.
I walked from the hostel to the church, the hostel was central located and it took about 30mins to walk there and the same back.

Old Aker Church, Oslo
Old Aker Church, Oslo
Back of Old Aker Church, Oslo
Back of Old Aker Church, Oslo
View from Old Aker Church
View from Old Aker Church, Oslo
View from Old Aker Church
View from Old Aker Church, Oslo
View from Old Aker Church, Oslo
View from Old Aker Church, Oslo

Astrup Fearnley Museet
Astrup Fearnley Museet is one swish gallery, beautifully situated on Oslo bay the modern architecture sits in and compliments the bay area very well.
There is a cafe in the gallery that over looks the harbour, I recommend having lunch there, although it is a little pricey.

Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo
Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo
Eyes by Louise Bourgeois in the Astrup Fearnley garden, Oslo
Eyes by Louise Bourgeois in the Astrup Fearnley garden, Oslo
Spalt by the late Franz West on Astrup Fearnley Gardens, Olso
Spalt by the late Franz West on Astrup Fearnley Gardens, Olso
Snow white and the seven dwarfs, Astrup Fearnley garden, Oslo
Snow white and the seven dwarfs, Astrup Fearnley garden, Oslo

Museum of  Contemporay Arts/Museet for Samtidskunst
No entrance fee is payable to get into The Museum of Contemporay Arts/Museet for Samtidskunst The main reason I went to the museum was to see the works by Louise Bourgeois. It was worth the visit as there were other contemporary artist such as Karl Holmquist who I discovered.

Louise Bourgeois's Cell VIII, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Louise Bourgeois’s Cell VIII, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Louise Bourgeois's Quarantania, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Louise Bourgeois’s Quarantania, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Louise's Bourgeois, Fee Couterie, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Louise’s Bourgeois, Fee Couterie, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Installation, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Installation, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Karl Holmquist, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Karl Holmquist, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Karl Holmquist, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo
Karl Holmquist, Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo

The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset
The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset is very clean lines and no drama, you are treated to great views of central Oslo from the palace. The best time to visit is around 1.30pm as the changing of the guards takes place at this time daily.

The Royal Palace/ Konghuset, Oslo
The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
View from The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
View from The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
View from The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
View from The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
Me at The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo
Me at The Royal Palace/ Kongehuset, Oslo

Just walking around
I walked everywhere in Oslo and I came across many things that made me stop and take a picture.

Colourfully painted houses, Oslo
Colourfully painted houses, Oslo
Colourfully painted houses, Oslo
Colourfully painted houses, Oslo
Oslo street with colourful houses
Oslo street with colourful houses
Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo
Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo
Street monument, Oslo
Street monument, Oslo
St Olavs Cathedral, Oslo
St Olavs Cathedral, Oslo
Trinity Church, Oslo
Trinity Church, Oslo
Trinity Church, Oslo
Trinity Church, Oslo
Oslo Harbour
Oslo Harbour
Oslo Harbour
Oslo Harbour

What I ate
Norway is expensive for eating out generally but you can also find inexpensive good quality food. It was recommended that I try whale meat, however I couldn’t bring myself to try it.

My booking at the hostel included breakfast which was served buffet style. The breakfast was very good with a variety to choose from. Cheekily, as I knew food is expensive in Oslo and as I was on a budget, I made packed lunches at breakfast.

As with Stockholm (read my post on Stockholm) I found a good Sushi and Thai restaurant where I ate most of my dinners. The sushi selection and pad Thai were  delicious.

Sushi and Thaimat, Oslo
Sushi and Thaimat, Oslo

Pastel De Nata
The coffee shop across the road from my hostel did a good deal on coffee and cake for £4 The coffee was good and the cake even better.

Pastel De Nata, Oslo
Pastel De Nata, Oslo

My Ratings on Oslo

Culture =7/10
Oslo was an interesting city, I loved  the museum and galleries, there is also The City hall and The Nobel Peace centre to explore.

People/friendliness = 5/10
The people in Oslo were even less friendlier than in Stockholm. Perhaps the northern chill gets into their bones.

Attractiveness 6.5/10
Unfortunately for Oslo I went to Stockholm first and so I was forever comparing the two cities.  I found Stockholm to be the more photogenic of the Scandinavian siblings. Nevertheless it is not to say that Oslo is not a beautiful place it is, but her sister just got more of the looks.

Food =7/10
My motto is good grub is good grub. I didn’t eat any traditional Norwegian meal but the food I had tasted good.

Affordability = 4.5/10
Compared to London my home city, Oslo is expensive but with careful planning you can have a relatively inexpensive trip like I did.

Vibe =6.5/10
Oslo has a vibe of pride, the Norwegians love their country/city and their country/city loves them back. It also has a chilled vibe which is good for a main city.

Overall = 7/10
Oslo was an interesting place to visit, I loved Akershus Fortress, Old Aker Church and playing on the Oslo Opera and Ballet house. It was a good experience and served to quell part of my desire to visit Northern European countries. At present I have no desire to return  but I am grateful I have been.

If you’ve enjoyed my review or not leave a comment.
Or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.