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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Flåm, Norway

The first place we did after leaving Oslo, was to take the famous Flamsbana, well know as The Most Beautiful Train Journey In The World.

"In the span of a single hour, the train takes you from the ocean level at the Sognefjord in Flam, to the mountaintop at Myrdal mountain station on Hardangervidda, 867 meters over the ocean." 

We started our journey from Oslo Train Station...

from green views and beautiful lakes...passing by many small villages that looks like they pop out from postcards...

To our first view of snow on the mountain top....

There were a few small stations along the way...

We proceed to have more and more view of snow on the mountain top....

And also getting nearer to the mountain.....

And finally being ON the mountain...

We were not equipped for the 5°C weather! All of us only brought along thin jackets for the summer weather in Norway! We were shivering but still wanted to stay outside to absorb the beauty of snow in this winter wonderland...

At the top of the mountain, we had to change our trains, thus we were hanging outside with our luggages, enjoying the beautiful view of snow and Christmas Cottages surrounding us, while waiting for the train ride downhill.

Oh, and there will be snow for 24 hours / 365 days in this area as it never melts!

It was only a short wait... probably around 15minutes or so... before we hopped on the train and downhill we go!

It was quite a packed train. All of us had our seats at the beginning but once the train starts, everyone was overwhelmed with the beauty of the sceneries and tried to stay next to the window. That's when some of us had to stand as there were not enough space to cater everyone! :(
Along they way, there was a stop at this magnificent waterfall, and there was a cultural performance where dancers performed right next to the waterfall...

We were standing quite far from the waterfall and already felt many splashes of water! The dancers must be freezing cold performing for us!

There are also many other views, such as this famous crooked slopes where people like to do their cycling.

Another natural waterfall...

And when we reach the bottom of a hill... we see views with cottages and river...

Finally the end of the journey in Flam Station. We have our lunch here and chill around the pier before our time to board the ferry cruise ride.

The blue sky and green mountains are just too beautiful..

Our ferry cruise ride to our next destination!

Initially, I was hiding at the lower deck of the ferry as I was worried I would be seasick if I'm hanging out in the higher deck... Better be cautious as I am someone who gets seasick really fast!

But curiosity kills the cat because my friends went to the higher deck for a view and they didnt come down for a very long time! So I went up to the higher deck and noticed there was an open area for us to enjoy the speed and rush of the wind.

This is me trying to hold on to my hair for a photo! Haha

The ferry ride stopped by a few villages between the mountains to pick/drop passangers as well.

Which gave us a good opportunities to take photos without our hair looking like it's about to fly away!

After our hands become numb and face become icy cold after taking 100 photos on the open deck, we went back inside and rest for the remaining of the ride..

Till our next town...... stay tuned!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oslo, Norway

In June'15, I had the opportunity to travel to the Scandinavian countries, mainly Norway and a short getaway to Sweden. It was lovely! It always makes me marveled at how wonderful and how big our world is.

Flight-Delay Drama
Before I begin to share all the beautiful photos, let me share the most frustrating flight delay I've ever experienced!

Our flights were supposed to depart from Penang at 3.15pm, transiting in KL and then Dubai before reaching Oslo, Norway the next day. After boarding the Penang plane, we were told that one of the wiper at the cockpit has malfunctioned and would require a replacement. The replacement would only arrive at 9pm. This causes us to missed our flight all the way to Oslo! After many hoo-hahs with the airport personnel, we managed to secure our replacement flight, which will only depart from KL at 7pm the next day! We would transit in Bangkok and then flight all the way to Oslo, arriving early morning the following day. After securing our tickets, at 3.30am we were transported to a five-star Marriott Hotel in Putrajaya at 3am to rest. Although we were given free breakfast buffet, we only manage to get up for the free lunch buffet. Too tired to even unpack and grab my pajamas.. just had a quick shower and KO-ed in the bathrobe.

One wiper down and all the trouble and stress were involved! And we ended up losing one day of our trip! =(  Luckily we were not following any tour or had our travel plans begin the very same that we arrived!

Oslo, Norway
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is situated at the southern part of the Norway. Being further away from the North Arctic means it shouldn't be very cold right at the end of spring and almost beginning of summer season. WRONG! Oslo happened to be very cold when I landed. Even the locals are still wearing jackets, not t-shirts and shorts!

Despite the sun shining brightly, we still hid behind layers of clothing and jackets. We regretted not bringing over thicker winter jackets in this trip! However, the places are still too lovely not to share!

Oslo is also one of the most expensive city in the world! So being Malaysian earning only in Ringgits, it was a heart attack each time we went food hunting or looking around at souvenir shops. 

Luckily for tourists, they offer a 3-days Oslo Pass which covers most of the entrance tickets to attractions and most importantly, free rides on public transports such as trams, boat rides and buses. The 3-days Oslo Pass also gives a free Ferry Cruise Ride at the Oslofjord.  

Below are the places that I've managed to visit during my Oslo trip :-

Old Aker Church
This church is located very near to the place I was staying, but somehow during my week-long stay in Oslo, I somehow didnt find my way inside the building. Only to realized after my return that this church is oldest existing building in Oslo.
Old Aker Church
Cute looking flowers near the church

Akrobaten Bridge & Barcode District
The modern looking bridge that links to the beautiful commercial office buildings that are designed so futuristic that it reminds people of barcodes. They are so mighty and special to look at!
Alot of accounting companies here... KPMG and PWC! 

On the Akrobaten Bride, walking towards the Barcode Buildings

Oslo Opera House
Not as famous as Sydney Opera house, but I love the slope walkway at the side that brings you up to the top of the building!
View of Oslo Opera House from the opposite

The slope roof that me love!
The floating glass and steel iceberg monument that serves no purpose in front of the Oslo Opera House
Lovely view despite the gloomy weather

One of the wall inside the Oslo Opera House

This is a display of the piping use underneath this bay area

Oslo Parliament Building / Storting Building
This parliament building is located in a square and it was a lovely sight with flowers in full bloom surrounding the square. (that's why i dont like travelling in winter where no flowers are in sight!)

Lovely purple flowers in full bloom
The infamous Grand Hotel Oslo is next to Parliament building, where many of the Nobel Peace Prize guests stays each year.
Love this square... so picturesque
Karl Johans Gate
The shopping district where all girls will spend hours and hours! But it doesnt help when we earn in Ringgits. Everything was expensive!
Karl Johans Gate
it's also the road leading towards the Royal Palace
Love this fountain, reminds me of a porcupine somehow! hehe
The crowd in Karl Johans Gate during Midsummer on my 2nd last day in Oslo
Royal Palace
Royal Palace
Guard in the Royal Palace..And also a clear description of 'Tall Ang Moh, Short Asians'... lol
Yeaps, we walked all the way from the end of the road towards the Royal Palace

The park beside the Royal Palace Park
Oslo Cathedral
Just a simple cathedral, but I always have a heart for cathedral, because of the beautiful stained glass windows!

The side / back of the cathedral - Somehow reminds of The Sound of Music
Lovely stained glass windows!!
My most favourite thing of Oslo is their blue skies. Blue blue skies with little white clouds! And when it is combined with beautiful fjords and ships, it is a really beautiful view. Glad my 3-days Oslo Pass includes the 'hop-on-hop-off' boat trip to fully enjoy the experience from the sea. 
On our 'Hop-on-hop-off' Boat Ride towards Bygdøy

Fram Museum
Norway have a lot of history in their sailing expeditions to the North. This museums honours the famous explorers in their polar exploration. Also, this museum gives us a chance to enter into the ORIGINAL Fram ship that was used, so it was kinda a cool.
Standing in front of the grand Flam

Viking Ship Museum
A real viking ship on display! There are many other viking ships in this museum, but the picture below shows one of the largest and most intact viking ship that was excavated from the grave ship! 
Love the shape of the viking ship

Kon-Tiki Museum
Another museum, another expedition - Kon-Tiki expedition... but I looooooove this ship! Isnt it just lovely?
Banana shape but soooo pretty

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)

What I love about this place is, it's not just a typical museum, but it's an open-air museum. They show the rural buildings and some of them are REAL buildings that was re-located to this museum, such as the beautiful Gol Stave Church!

The plants/vines on the wall, with super blue sky is just too lovely
One of the rural buildings in the open air museum
Gol Stave Church made entirely of wood

Akhersus Fortress
Inside the fortress
One of the door that leads towards the underground floor

Frogner Park / Vigeland Sculpture Park
This park is famous for the sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Most of the sculptures shows the actions of humans, and the highlight is the Monolith, which is a totempole that is carved into 121 human figures rising towards the sky. 
The Monolith
The view from Monolith
One of the famous bronze sculpture on the bridge - The Angry Baby

Look Ma! I'm a sculpture!! (errr, if you look at the shadown.. lol)

Vigeland Museum
This museum shows more artwork from Mr Vigeland, and also shows how the famous sculptures and the Monolith is built, originally from clay to plaster to stone. 
The replica of the top of the Monolith

Holmenkollen Olympic Ski Museum
Norway is famous for their ski jumping sports and this is the venue where the sports take place every year.

The right way when you ski jump... almost parallel with the ground 

On top of the ski jump
Nobel Peace Center
Who has never heard of Nobel Peace Prize? Well, the event will take place in Oslo every year, and this center honours all the Nobel Peace Prize winners and their contributions. You cant help but to feel overwhelmed by how much a person can help change the world.

Aker Brygge
Aker Brygge is famous for its high end shopping, eating, residential area. A nice pier to sit and chill, and pretend that you can afford all the luxuries surrounding you. Hahaha

Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
Art never fail to amuse me. Sometimes i'm amazed by the beautiful art created, but sometimes I would wonder "why can this be called art? I think I can draw better!". 
Love the shape of the building.. very artsy!

My favourite art in the museum - made out of butterfly wings (erm, but i hope they are not caught alive! >.< )
Notice how everyone was listening to a guide explaining? There's actually a receipt that was stuck to the wall, and yes, it is one of the art in display. I have no idea why that receipt is an art because the guide was speaking in Norwegian.
Spot the receipt!

Fiskeriet - Fish & Chips
Introduced by our friends, this place serves the BEST fish and chips, so of course we've got to try it out! This is us, having our dinner with our glasses on at 7pm, because the sun sets at 2am in Norway!

Cemetery in Oslo
Had lots of time during my last two days in Oslo, and even visited the cemetery that has the grave of Edvard Munch - the artist of the famous painting 'The Scream'. Their cemetary is so peaceful and not scary at all. Many locals have a stroll with the babies in pram or walk their dogs in the cemetary.

Edvard Munch

Random photos
View from uphill
Rich people's boats
Nice view, but i had to crawl my way un-glamorously to the end of the dock for this photo lol

Walking along Majorstuveien
Outside Oslo Train Station
Random Street
Grills can be pretty too! LOL
With this car, no need to do side parking ever again!
Great memories of beautiful Oslo and great friends!

Great friends and great food = Great memories!
Next destination in Norway.....to be continued!

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