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! 🙂
In my opinion taking a walk in cemeteries is a good way to reflect about life. It is also a great way to learn about the history.
When I was visiting my friend in Stavanger, we went out for a walk in the cemetery near her place. No she was not visiting someone that she knows but she only wanted to show me what the tourists are visiting in their community. I have also learned that in Eiganes Gravlund lies soldiers from World War 2.
I also cannot help but admire the grave stones because of the shapes, colors and the engraved words. Some has pictures too.
I also had some questions in mind while we were inside the cemetery. The first is, does the dead appreciate us visiting them? Lastly, how much does it cost to be buried in that beautiful cemetery?
Drinking tea is a part of my lifestyle and my diet. In fact, I drink at least a pot of tea everyday. My favorite tea is Sencha (green tea from Japan) followed by Genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice) and then Oolong tea (from China). I love teas because of its health benefits and because they bring back some childhood memories.
When I was younger, I used to drink those teas in teabags like for example Lipton and Twinings. Those teas are good but when I was introduced to Japanese loose tea, I fell in love with it instantly. From that moment, I knew that I have to order Japanese tea right away.
My partner introduced Oolong tea to me. Oolong’s aroma and taste has captivated my senses too and some memories from my past came back (I got a bit sentimental then.), like when I was sick my mom or grandma used to give me this kind of tea to me. I am not Chinese but I grew up with some Chinese culture in me because first I was surrounded by Chinese friends. Second, my great grandfather (according to my grandpa) was 1/4 or 1/2 Chinese. Then last, my grandfather’s business establishment was just a couple of blocks away from Manila’s China Town so he had lots of Chinese customers and made friends from that community too. So every year I got lots of Chinese stuff/gifts like moon cakes, hongbao (red envelope) and li hing mui (red salty dried plum) from my grandpa’s friends. I learned some Chinese words and characters/alphabets as well but too bad I cannot remember them anymore.
I cannot read what the tea packet says here. Well, some of the packets has the Latin alphabet translations but not this pack in the picture. How I wish we had Chinese at school! I thought that it was Oolong tea but when I opened the packet it was not Oolong leaves inside but red tea. At first I did not know what kind of tea it was but thanks to Mr. Wikipedia I found the answer. Here it is:
In Chinese and the languages of neighboring countries, black tea is known as “red tea” (Japanese 紅茶 kōcha; Korean 홍차 hongcha, Bengali লাল চা Lal cha, Assamese ৰঙা চাহ Ronga chah), a description of the colour of the liquid; the Western term “black tea” refers to the colour of the oxidized leaves. In Chinese, “black tea” is a commonly used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea; outside of China and its neighbouring countries, “red tea” more commonly refers to rooibos, a South Africanherbal tea.
One of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen this year is Bergen’s Gingerbread Town. I’ve never thought that this gingerbread town is the biggest in the whole world! I can say that I’m impressed by the different kinds of structures that they built out of gingerbread. These were built by kids, bankers and people from almost all walks of life (in Bergen). So yes, hats off to these people.
We went here on the second weekend it opened. The entrance fee is around 85 NOK. There is a small shop where you can buy gingerbread and sodas too.
Anyway, if there is one thing that I love from this miniature town aside from that it is cool is its coziness and how it peaceful and calm it looks. If only the world could be like that, peaceful. Then everybody is happy.
The tea set that I ordered from my Japanese friend has finally arrived today. I’m so happy because I have my very own teapot now. I can now brew and serve Sencha tea into an authentic Japanese teaware.
I got this for 67 usd (Shipping is included.)
I opted for a floral blue one, because blue is relaxing for the eyes, in my opinion. When I asked my friend about tea sets, she sent me like 8 pictures of teapots. From the traditional ones to the modern ones and from the simple white and blacks and to the ones with patterns. I like mine simple yet with feminine touch so I chose the one with floral designs.
The tea set looks nicer and more eye catching in person than in the picture. I could say that my friend Eri, made a very good job finding me a tea set.