The Tall Ships Races is one of the biggest events in Europe every summer. The idea is to build good relationships between the different countries and cultures through sail training “tall” ships or sail boats. The participants should be at least 50 percent young people.
This year, we are fortunate enough to have witnessed this event because Bergen is one of the hosts. Even though Bergen is just 45 minutes away drive from where we live, we booked a room for 3 nights because we really wanted to see the festivities and to make most out of our city trip. The first days were rainy but it did not stop the people in checking out the sail boats.
The weather has finally cleared up the following day and up to the day the ships had to sail to their next destination which is Aarhus Denmark.
It’s already December and it only means that Christmas is just around the corner. This weekend, hubby took out all our Christmas decors and we started to decorate our home. I’m very excited because this is the first time that I’m going to spend Christmas with my hubby and this will also my little one’s very first Christmas. In short, this is our first Christmas together as a family.
They’re here again to invade our pavements, restaurants and city. No they’re not on war. We are not on war with them. They walk in pairs, groups or solo. Cameras, especially the system ones are a common sight with them. Do not forget the maps and the translation devices too. Some of them know where they are heading and some get lost. Everything that we find mundane in this city, they find it exciting and interesting. Because of their curiosity about history, they fill up the museums, churches and souvenir shops.
Some locals would probably find this season annoying. Perhaps because of the amount of tourists that storm in to Bergen. In terms of the areal size, Bergen is not a big city compared to NY, London, Barcelona and etc. So a cruiseship or two will somewhow make the city center look overpopulated.
If you would ask me how I feel about it, I think it’s great that they want to explore Bergen/Norway. Tourism is also good for the economy. My only concern regarding the cruiseship industry is the pollution that comes from it. I hope that they’ll fix that too.
Yesterday was Norway’s constitution day. My hubby and I were home in our new place since it’s a holiday. Here in Norway, people pay respect to their holidays by not doing any kind of “noisy” work that will disturb the neighborhood and the solemnity of the celebration. Well, of course there are some who does not care about the holidays and their neighborhood, so they either get a friendly reminder from the neighbors or being reported to the police if they do not listen.
Anyway, this is our first time to have 17th May brunch in our new house. This is also my first time to prepare a proper brunch for us. I usually did not care about how the table would look like. As long as there is food on table I’m good but this year is special because we got a bigger crib and we had my hubby’s dad over for a visit.
This is also our first time to raise the flag. Never knew what time of the day we should do it. Thankfully there’s Google. We raised it around 8 a.m. and lowered or take down at 9p.m. According to the Norwegian flag site, we can raise the flag around 8 in the morning during the summer because the sun rises up during that time and pull it down no later than 9 pm because that’s the time the sun sets. Also, we can raise it even though it is dark (For instance during winter) but should NEVER lowered it when it’s already dark.
I have no pictures of the parade because our place is not one of the routes of the 17th May parade and I got busy in preparing food and cake for dinner. However, it didn’t stop us for having a great time but next year I’ll make sure that we get to see the parade or take part of it.
Christmas feels is here! I’m so happy to have finally visited the Christmas Market in Bergen. It’s very beautiful because of the lights, decors and the people who are having a good time at the market with their love ones. This Christmas market is not that big compared to other Christmas markets in other parts of Europe (or the world) but you can find good stuff and good food here. There are also tivoli rides for the young ones and for the young at hearts.
And because I got busy with food, I only took few shots.
One of the main highlights of my London trip is experiencing the Lunar New Year in Chinatown. This is special to me because it was my very first time to visit a Chinatown in Europe.
My friend and I got there by foot from Primark store at Oxford Street on the western side. I think, we walked for around 15 minutes. When we arrived, the dragon dance just started.
We had a plan of eating at one the restaurants there, but because it was Chinese New Year, all of the restaurants were packed of people! People had to fall in line and wait. We did not wait because we’re starving and running out of energy, luckily we found a small place that sells steamed rice buns. So the main lesson here: “The early bird catches the worm”. However, we’re still grateful though because the steamed buns are good.
Moving on, a tour to the Chinatown is not complete without visiting a tea shop or a Chinese pharmacy. As a tea lover, I made sure that I would not miss the chance of getting myself at least a pack Chinese tea.
The tea shop’s name is Beijing Tong Ren Tang and is located at Shaftsbury Avenue. I only found the tea shop accidentally on our way out of the China Town.
So, what to find inside? Well, of course lots of teas and teawares! They got everything, from dragon tea, oolong, pur erh and you name it. I got myself a pack of pu erh, a pack of black tea, a clay teapot and a gaiwan (will write a separate post later).
Huge tea cannisters!
The teashop’s fasade.
Gaiwans in the display.
Anyway, I can say that I had fun at Chinatown. I’ll definitely come back here again on my next trip to London.
London is one of my must-see cities. So on my birthday week, I went to London with my friend who also has the same birthday month (January) as I am.
I flew directly to London with British Airways from Bergen. The airfare was not the cheapest (but has one of the cheapest fares) but I prefer it than SAS and Norwegian because it was the only direct flight to Heathrow. The SAS flight have a layover in Stavanger, which I really hate because it only means chaos in the airport and tax-free. While my friend flew with SAS because she was taking the flight from Stavanger.
When I left, the temperature in Bergen was approximately 10 degrees Celsius and to my surprise, it was colder in London! It was zero degrees! Good thing that we have brought our good warm jackets with us. It was freezing cold! When we arrived at the hotel, it was already dark so just stayed in the hotel and relaxed.
Our first day in London’s spent in sightseeing and exploring the nearby parks. Since we stayed at Byron Hotel which is in Queensborough Terrace, we were just a couple of minutes away from Hyde Park and the Kensington Palace.
The next park we visited is the Holland Park. Actually, we were looking for the famous Filipino restaurant in London, but we have decided to take a walk in the park first on the way to the restaurant.
Inside the Holland Park, you can find the Kyoto Garden. I would call this a gem because it captures not only our attention but also our senses. It is indeed unique in this place. Kyoto Garden was created by a Japanese designer to celebrate Japan Festival in London in 1992 according to rbkc.gov.uk. My friend and I spent at least half an hour here to unwind.
After a couple of hours walking in the park, we were off to find Romulo Cafe, the famous Filipino restaurant that I mentioned earlier. I’m sure some of you will ask why eat in a Filipino restaurant when you’re in London. Our reasons are because my friend and I were craving for Filipino food and there is no Filipino restaurant in Bergen and Stavanger. So this was our chance to satisfy our cravings!
After our dinner, we are on the move again! This time, to meet our friend in the Royal Victoria and Albert Museum.
My friend and I were on a budget trip, so as much as possible we went to places with either free entrance or with cheap entrance fee. We were lucky during our visit to this museum because there was a free concert too. So it’s like hitting two birds with one stone! 🙂