Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Europe Diary: Day 5 & 6 - Alone

Like I mentioned previously, Fadzil took a day off on my arrival day. Plus the weekend, we had 3 days to ourselves for honeymoon and visiting places. Monday soon came, and it was time for me to explore Oslo..all by myself :)

For a first timer, of course I was extremely nervous and worried. I kept on thinking on how I'm gonna survived 8 hours alone for two days. And, paling gerun my flight back to Malaysia was scheduled at 1.55pm on Wednesday; which means, nobody will send me to the airport :(

However, my perception changed after the first day I stayed at Oslo. Among the reasons that made me feel a lot more relieved was the atmosphere and surrounding here. From my point of view, Oslo is a safe city. No people loitering around, no street beggar. People here are very welcoming and helpful. There's one situation we had when we arrived at a subway station near Frognerparken. We we're a bit confused when we went up the street, wondering should we take the right turn or the left turn to go to Vigeland Park. As we opened our map, a guy who were walking with his family approached us politely. He asked us whether we were ok and do we need the direction to the destination we're heading. We told him that we were fine (since we don't want to bother him and his family), but he asked us the same question twice. To make the story short, he then left his family for a while and lead us the way to Vigeland Park. It was so nice of him! :)

Another reason that made me confident to go out alone is the hotel that we stayed is situated at a very strategic location. If I were too afraid to walk far, I still can enjoyed a lot of things within my 1km radius. Shopping? Cafe? Historical Building? Parks? you named it. The public transport is also very convenient to use. All are interconnected to each other. Three days traveling with Fadzil by buses, trams and trains were enough exercise for me :)

Can you spot Fadzil standing inside the bus?

On Monday morning, after breakfast together at the hotel, I sent Fadzil to the bus stop in front of the National Theater. I went back straight to the hotel afterward since it was drizzling and its kinda cold. I tried to get some sleep but couldn't so decided to watch movies via the youtube. Here, the internet speed is much more higher than us in Malaysia, you can watch the clips without having to wait for it to download first. I managed to cover few Malay movies - Pisau Cukur, Semerah Cinta Stilettos, Adnan Sempit and Papadom
(FYI, Fadzil dislike Malay movies so I am totally outdated when it comes this). It was noon when I became bored of staying in so I decided to do what I love to do - S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G! hihihi.. :)

muka org yg excited nak pegi shopping :P

The first destination was Zara Boutique since it was just about 200m from my hotel and to find the answer to my curiosity. Since the first day I stayed in Karl Johans Gate, each time I passed by Zara, I will see a lot of people coming in and out of the boutique with at least one Zara paper bag in their hands. I was curious, but just don't feel like going inside. Even Fadzil did asked me the same question everyday; "Bila you nak masuk Zara, yang?" (Rasa macam dia tengah uji pun ade juga..haha) Maybe because things are very, very expensive in Norway, I was thinking even with the Summer sale it will still be expensive than the Megasale in Malaysia. Kalau masuk tak dpt beli tak best kan, the feeling? Initially I don't want to get hurt..eceh :P but thinking that I will be back home soon, baik jejak kaki, at least once. So I went inside without any expectation..

Miss Zara from far..

First, I went to the ladies section. Quite a crowd. I found a nice white top, more like a boyfriend shirt. I took it and took a closer look at the price tag;

Ori price: NOK 299,00 and sale price NOK99,00!!

I just couldn't believed my eyes. I stared again at the tag while my head computing the price in MYR. "Yup, its MYR 49.50 after sale!!!". Felt like jumping with excitement masa tu jugak. Haha. As far as I've been to Zara, I never get this price for a long sleeve boyfriend shirt! No wonder people keep on coming in and out of Zara. It was damn cheap! I put back the top, and went straight to Zara Baby section. I almost go crazy when I saw the price tags again. Denim shorts for Faaz only cost me NOK 49,00 (MYR 24.90) and short checkered pants cost me NOK 29,00 (MYR 14.90!!). Baby shoes and sneakers are selling at NOK 79,00 (MYR 39.90) and the t-shirts ranging from MYR 14.90 to MYR25!! The mood to shop came instantly so I shopped a bit for little munchkin. I didn't realized how long I was there till Fadzil texted me and informed me to get ready. His boss wanted to take us out to Holmenkollen. Upsie! :P Luckily the hotel is really near. Quickly I rushed back and get ready.

It was nice of Fadzil's boss and his partner to pick me up at the hotel after work and drove us to visit the famous Holmenkollen ski jump. It was a new experience for me to be on top of the ski jump. The panoramic view was breathtaking. Paling best, to get there, kena naik 90degrees triangle lift. Then, the sweet couple treated us to dine at Holmenkollen Restaurant, a top end restaurant there. We had a scandinavian-inspired fish dishes with its famous apple cake as the dessert. Nyummy! Sempat I jeling the bill, harganya mencecah RM 900++! wow! it was so generous of them :)

was having my own sweet time..

The following day, I decided to go to Oslofjord bay. I wanted to visit the Akershus Fortress and Akershus Slott (castle) as it's the only place left to visit before I went back to Malaysia. Since I carried the tripod with me (semangat nak ambil gambar, muahaha!) and wanted to save my energy to climb on top of the Akershus hill, I took the tram. It was really sunny when I arrived so I took my own sweet time to climb the hill, and tooks photos in between, when I saw nice scenery :) Actually, you can go for a tour inside the castle including visiting the royal tomb, it cost you NOK 80,00 (MYR40). But I decided to skip that as I felt I had enough tour own my own plus I was too lazy to wait for the next tour session.

The Aker Brygge Shopping Mall

H&M outlet

I went down again and headed to Aker Brygge Shopping Mall; to shop again. Hihihi..This time I went to H&M. For those who didn't know, H&M is very popular brand in Europe, and they have about the same concept as M&S. In Oslo itself, you can find H&M outlet almost in every street. I fall in love with the accessories in the woman's section especially the scarfs and the bangles. They have a wide range of crumpled scarfs which are now popular in our country too. The clothes, however still expensive although with the discounts. Of course my main destination was the kid's section. Here, the sale was much cheaper compared to the adult's. Colorful and cute t-shirts 2 for the price of 1 which only cost you NOK49,00 (MYR24.90). But the main attraction for me were the cute sleepwear. Although it was slightly expensive (NOK 99,00 = MYR 49.50), I just couldn't resist the temptation and bought few for Faaz Naqi. You cannot find the same design in Malaysia and I afraid that kalau tak beli, menyesal pulak nanti :P

I decided to skip the tram and walked slowly back to Karl Johans Gate. I wanted to explore more outlets and boutiques along the way since that was the last day of my stay in Oslo. Among the boutiques that I've visited including LV, Karen Miller, UCB, and Ferragamo. Didn't buy anything but just to see the collections and compared the prices. As expected, it's still expensive when you convert it to MYR... I also went to few souvenir shops along the way to buy some souvenirs for close family, but I didn't shop much as it was quite costly. The cheapest fridge magnet cost you RM35 each or 3 for RM100. Moreover, Fadzil had bought some souvenirs from his 2 previous visit which is more than enough for us. I want to save some $$ to buy souvenir at Amsterdam instead.

The souvenir shop..trolls are among the popular icon of Norge besides the vikings and the muse.

As I was about to reach the hotel, I was quite puzzled to see a big crowd of children with bike along the street in front of the hotel. Apparently, they were launching the Oslo Grand Prix in front of University of Oslo. The launching will started with the kids of Oslo riding the bikes followed by the contestants. I was told that the famous Neil Amstrong was also presence there. The children that took part in this event were as young as 1 year old, and they look very confident even in their tricycle, soooooo cute!! I just cant help myself from grinning and smiling when I looked at their expressions.
Among the crowd, this one particular boy caught my attention the most. Somehow, he reminded me of Faaz Naqi...maybe its the puffy cheek :) After the launching, I made a pit stop to Zara again and to bought the tops I've been eyeing the previous day. Thanks to Mr. Fadzil for the sponsorship. Hihihi..then, I quickly made my way back to the hotel and get ready for dinner.

The 427 contestant, my personal favourite! ;)

That night, the CAD team have their group dinner and I was invited to join. We had our dinner at Mehfel, one of the finest halal restaurant in Oslo. Alhamdulillah, 2 days in a row orang belanja. Rezeki.. :) That night was also the eve of Ramadhan, the last night of my stay in Oslo.

That was how I spent the two days alone in Oslo and this entry also wrapped up my story in the land of Scandinavian. Alhamdulillah, I was blessed with this opportunity. Hopefully someday I can have a nice holiday abroad with my family, insyaAllah jika ada rezeki nanti. Doa-doakanlah ya :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Europe Diary: Day 4 - Our Date

Although the whole trip was considered as a honeymoon since it was just both of us, we felt that we're more like travelers for the past two days. Hence, on my 4th day in Oslo, we decided to mellow down. We chose two places; The Vigeland Sculpture Park and The Oslo Opera House as our "romantic" destinations to spend "us" time. Both were perfect choices since both of the venues are entrance-free and both are open for 24 rush.

The "little thing" is the final destination...jauh tu!

It was really sunny that morning, but thanks to the cool breeze (16deg celc), we did not really feel the heat, except acknowledging the brightness of the sunshine. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the largest sculpture park made by one single artist in the world. The theme of the sculptures is human - cycle of life and the park is divided into 6 sections;
The Main Gate, The Bridge, The Children’s Playground, The Fountain, The Monolith Plateau and the Wheel of Life.

Since Mr. Tripod was there to serve us, we took advantage of the nice weather and took a lot of "us" photos with lots of poses, including the silly ones for the sake of having fun :)) Reminded us back to the fun and exciting uni years, when we were just friends (especially when the times he tried to win me over, time mengorat but no luck...ehehe :P)

One of our decent photo. Hihi..

Between The Children's Playground and The Fountain sections there were bed of roses, like a mini rose garden. It comes in maroon, white, yellow, pink and orange colors. It was beautiful and it smell soooo sweet n nice, subhanallah. Kalah Cik Dior Cherie yang I pakai :P

Three roses - I, Love, You !!! :)

Tired of walking and taking photos we had a picnic at the park. Dapatlah baring atas pasangan, suap menyuap sandwiches, manja2 like the typical romance movie scenes tu :P. And of course, we talked a lot about our little angel. Daddy & Mommy missed you, dearly.

my heart, which I brought with me all the time...

Sapa kata kitaorang tak ingat anak? Ingat, sentiasa ingat. Berkali2 wished we can bring him as well, tp apakan daya I was traveling alone. It was one of the hardest decision to make when I decided to visit Fadzil as per suggestion by my PIL. Tapi, as a wife I have my responsibilities too. Ensure makan minum dia during Ramadhan cukup utk dia bertahan 17 jam sehari, help him to adjust his timing so that senang terjaga time sahur, etc. We may looked happy in all these photos but deep inside our heart, only Allah knows..

On the way back home, we decided to make a stop at Oslo Opera House. It is situated facing the ocean, behind the Oslo Central Station. Very futuristic design with great view. Plan to lepak there till sunset but at last decided to go back to the hotel sebab naik bosan pulak tunggu. Sini kan matahari tenggelam around 9-9.30 pm. :P

Panas tak hingat!!

Very nice design kan? :)

What's cool about the design is, the inclined roof tu is dual purpose. There is a floating stage in front of the opera house and the crowd will filled the whole roof to watch free concerts. Best kan?!

Ok, I better stop now. I promise you that the next entry will be the last entry for Oslo trip. Tak muat rasa nak sumbat semua in this entry. I'll tell you how I spent my 2 days alone in Oslo when Fadzil went to work. :)

Hade! (Bye-bye)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Europe Diary: Day 3 - Bygdoy

We woke up at 7.30 am, getting ready and went down to have the complimentary breakfast. The dining hall is at level 4, the area looks like an attic but fully utilized. For us the Muslim, there are few choices that we can choose for: cereals, fresh fruits and yogurts, bread and jams, fresh salads. Or you can make some sandwiches from the scrambled egg, cheese, tuna with mayo/mustard and sliced salmon. Enough to make your stomach full ;)

Justify Fullmy breakfast

After filling up our stomach, we went back to the hotel room for another skype session with the family in M'sia as well as packing our lunch and snack for the day.

Oh ya, don't forget the map and plan ahead the places to visit
so that you will fully utilize the time you have :)

We went out at 10am and headed to the National Theater (Nationaltheatret). It is one of Norway most largest venue for performance of dramatic acts. The weather was bright and sunny, perfect for an outing. If you notice, the photos look nicer compared to the previous entry. All thanks to Mr. sunshine :)

If you took the tram to Aker Brygge like us, the first building you'll see upon arriving there is the City Hall followed by the Nobels Fredssenter (Nobel Peace Center). The center was opened in 2005, as a devotion to the famous Nobel Peace winner such as Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama who just been awarded as a winner in 2009. He did give his speech here in the City Hall during the award giving ceremony.

That is Nobels Fredssenter :)

We went to the Oslofjord to get the 24 hours Oslo Pass. This pass includes the boat fare both ways to Bygdøy as well as free access to all the museum there. The queue for the boat ride was there when we arrived. Thank God we don't have to wait that long for the next boat to arrive...phewww!

While Fadzil went to get our passes..

Our destination of the day is Bygdøy, situated at the western side of Oslo. Originally, Bygdoy was an island, but due to the post-glacier rebound, it becomes a peninsular. While walking from the jetty to the museum, we saw beautiful mansion and houses. We also saw a house that look moderate on the outside (typical European house) but it is equipped with eye detection machine at the main gate! We were impressed. According to Rune (Fadzil's boss), Bygdoy is an elite place to stay, the land here cost a fortune. In Bygdoy, you can find beautiful parks, forest as well as Oslo's top beach (including The Nudist beach). But the main reason we came there is because of the four main museums located in this area:

i) The Viking Ship Museum ( Vikingskipshuset - "The Viking Ship House")

Display the Viking ships and other related artifacts that was discovered by the end of 19th century.

F&N at the to our tripod. ;)

you have to climb to a mini tower to see the full view of the real viking ship..

cause it's huuuuge!

-The Oseberg Ship-
The famous viking ship that was found complete and intact.

perasan jadi model kejap :P

ii) The Frammuseet (The Polar ship FRAM)

The word "FRAM" means "forward". It is the strongest wooden ship that ever built and still holds the records for sailing farthest North and farthest South; the coldest and most dangerous Arctic and Antarctic.

You have to climb to the 3rd level to finally entered the ship. It's huge! There are a lot of rooms inside the ship including cabins and kitchen. You can view the rest of the photos in my FB soon.

Among all the artifacts displayed, these two really caught my attention:
- Horlicks drink from
- The waffle maker

Both came from period of 1893 to 1912.

iii) Norwegian Maritime Museum

The triangular shape building is the FRAM museum, while the Maritime museum is just beside it.

Anyone care to help me lift this up? :P

We decided to skip the Maritime museum and went to the gift shop located inside it instead to buy a replica of the viking ship to bring back home.

iv) The Kon-Tiki Museum

Kon-Tiki was a raft used by Thor Heyerdahl in his expedition across the Pacific Ocean. The name Kon-tiki originated from Inca sun God of the Polynesian island. The raft was made from some Balsa tree trunks and bamboo.

Above, right is the papyrus boat RA II and below right is the replica of of the boat used in the famous Tigris expedition.

V) The Norsk Folkmuseum
(Norwegian Museum of Cultural History)

This is a large outdoor museum, contains over 150 buildings including houses, barns, stables and churches which have been relocated from various districts of Norway. Actually, I was looking forward for the traditional dance performance but too bad, we missed it by half an hour. Don't want to waste any time, we decided to continue our journey. I wanted to try out the traditional Norwegian costume as well but unfortunately, the service was unavailable during weekends. I guess I have no luck on that day :(

One of the traditional house with rock fence

Take a guess, is it a barn or a stable??

However, we did enjoyed the tour inside the museum as there were lots of other attraction as well such as the traditional cake making demo, knitting demo (Norway is famous for its knitted sweaters) and handmade pottery demo.

Was trying my best to learn how to knit
(nampak sangat tak pandai bab menjahit ni kan? :P)

A demo on the making of Norway's traditional cake by a chef.
You can taste it when the cake is ready :)

We went back to the jetty by 5pm and took the boat back to Aker Brygge. When we arrived, there were a lot of people at the City Hall square. Apparently, it was the first day of MELA festival; an annual multicultural festival. "Mela" means meeting point and has roots thousand of years back in South East Asia. That is why most of the performances, arts, food and stalls came from the Asian people. Yang paling best for us, of course lah the food. Banyak stalls from Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Middle east even Thailand jadi tak perlu susah2 nak cari halal food. Although Malaysian booth is nowhere to be found, I saw people eating satay. Not sure from which booth as the crowd was so big!

We went straight to the hotel due to exhaustion. Plan konon2 nak pegi MELA that night to have dinner tp terlajak tido. Ended up we woke up around 3am, have maggie mee for supper while chatting with Faaz Naqi. Hihihi...

Okla, I better stop now before this entry becomes too lengthy and boring. Will update about day 4 & 5 combined. Banyak sangat entry pasal ni nnti boring plak korang kan. Hehehe. Oh ya, if you noticed, it was me on most of the photos. This is because, Fadzil had been to all museum during his previous trip, dia kata gambar dia kat all the places dh banyak. This time he went there as my personal tour guide.

Awak sangat sweet sayang, sbb sanggup pegi lagi tempat2 ni utk sekian kalinya.
Mmmuahs! love you a lot! :)

Till next entry...bye! :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Europe Diary: Day 2 - The Sightseeing

From the airport, we took the Flytogate airport express and it passed through Lillestrøm before arriving at Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon or Oslo S) - Oslo main railway station and the largest railway station in Norway. The station consist of the old East station; which now turned into a shopping mall and the new West station; the ones we've been using. Both stations are connected via Oslo tunnel.

The first place Fadzil brought me upon arriving here is Narvesen - Norway largest chain of convenience store. Same concept with 7-Eleven, but in addition they also sell books, fresh fruits, home made chocolates, confectioneries such as muffins, rolls and waffles, and not to forget coffee. From my observation, coffee and confectionery are the must thing here. You can find a lot of cafes and bakery shops everywhere. Narvesen is more popular here than the 7-Eleven. You can find one on each end of the street!

Of all the things there, this particular chocolate caught my attention:

the Kvikk Lunsj or the Quick Lunch in English :)

It is locally produced by a company named Kraft Food Nordic by the brand of Freia and it is widely sell in Norway, Sweden & Denmark. At first, I thought it was an energy bar since its stated there quick lunch, apparently it is a chocolate similar to Kit Kat from Nestle :)

As we went out of the station, there is a square in front of the station called the Jernbanetorget (The Railway square). The Jernbanetorget is a hub, interconnecting the tram lines with train lines, regional busses and the t-bane service. We went to Trafikanten, a tower located at Jernbanetorget. Inside it there is an information center for all public transport services, sort of tourist information center. Here, you can get all the pamphlets and booklets with the full information on the busses, tram, t-bane and train services and all for free. They even provide the tourist with free map of Oslo with tourist attraction mapped clearly. It's easy for you to figure out where to go and which transportation to take you there. There, we purchased the 7-day passes which cost us NOK210 each (MYR 105). With this pass, I can use the public transportation unlimited for the whole week. It's easy and cheaper. As a tourist, I did make full use out of it.

From there, we walked straight to Karl Johans Gate, the most famous shopping street in the city center. It started from Oslo S railway station in one end and the Royal Palace, where the King & Queen of Norway resides in the other end. The Royal Palace is the highest place, so you can see the view of the whole stretch of Karl Johans Gate from there. The street is busy day and night with a lot of tourist from all over the world passed by every day. There are lot of street entertainers too, making the street more alive with musics. You can find a mix of boutiques, gift shops, cafe's, restaurants,hotels and historical buildings along the street. The hotel that we stayed is situated in the middle of this street; near to the Stortinget (Parliment of Norway). Will elaborate more about this street in a later entry, no photos were taken at that moment as it was raining when we walked. :)

We took the photo as we went out for dinner. It's 8pm local time and it was still bright and sunny. The hotel look even more beautiful at night. Kalau tak percaya pergi sini :)

The rain stopped as we reached the Best Western Hotel; the place I stayed during this trip. It is a historical hotel from 1899 and the building is well preserved. The interior inside is classical with a modern touch. Very nice :) The hotel is situated beside the famous Grand Hotel on the left and a tax-free shopping mall - Paleen on the right side. For your information, Grand Hotel is the place for the rich and famous. Madonna, Michael Jackson and recently President Barack Obama are just few names that have stayed in the hotel during their stay here. TGIF restaurant and Hard Rock Cafe Oslo are situated just next to Paleen, less than 100m from our hotel.

The building with all the tax free flag itulah Paleen.
From our hotel to the Hard Rock Cafe you can see posh cars and big bikes parked everyday.
Cuci mata betul kitaorang! Hihi..

After settling down and refreshed myself, we went out again. Before that, I prepared and packed tuna sandwiches using the sandwich maker that I brough along with me. Fadzil said he wants to take me to Aker Brygge and have lunch at the Oslofjord bay. Baru romantik katanya..hihi :) We went there by a tram from National Theater station, about 100m from the hotel. While walking to the station, we made a stop at the University of Oslo; the most prestigious and oldest university in Norway (reminded me of University Malaya). I've been told that this building is used by the faculty of Laws only while the rest of the faculties have shifted to the new building in Blindern. One interesting fact is that the university is the home for 5 Nobel Prize Winners. This university is an open university too, it means that no fence were there to saperate the university from its surrounding. I was standing at the pedastrian walk in front of the university in the photo below :)

I was waiting for him so long to snap this photo which finally ended up as me posing with the "sakit pinggang" pose. hahaha! :P

It was cloudy when we arrived at Aker Brygge after the rain but the sun slowly made its way to shine again. Aker Brygge is the arm of Oslofjord bay, which made it a beautiful shopping and dining area facing the breathtaking view of the sea and beautiful boats.

The brown building is the Aker Brygge shopping mall :)

After finding the perfect spot, we had our lunch and continue to walk hand by hand along the bay. With the cool breeze, awwwwwh its so romantic! However, we constantly thinking of Faaz, especially whenever we saw kids at his age strolled by the parents in the pram. Rindu bangat sih! :)

Me, in the search of perfect place to have a romantic lunch at Oslfjord :)

Nice view behind me :)

We decided to continue exploring the Fjord the very next morning since I was tired and we didn't want to miss skype session with our beloved son. I was a bit worried tho, afraid Faaz will cry the minute he see both of us were away from him. But he didn't. He was smiling the whole session, giggling and apparently shy when he saw us. It did made me feel so relieved to see him cheerful like always. Rasa nak nangis terharu pun ade jugak. Ish, nangis jer :P

Our Faaz Naqi was pointing to himself while giggling when I asked him,
"Who is Mommy's bing bing?"
Bing bing is a nickname that Fadzil gave to Faaz since he was a baby

Later that evening, Fadzil took me out for dinner somewhere in the city center. He wanted me to try out the kebabs here which apparently look and taste differently from the kebabs in Malaysia. I too , was looking forward to taste it ever since Fadzil kept on mentioning about it the first time he went to Oslo. Dahla masa tu tengah preggy ok, nasib tak mengidam :P. The middle east kebab is quite popular in Oslo as one of the cheapest halal food you can find here. The locals also loves it and that explained the existence of few local kebab shops; similar to the middle east kebab except for the halal status. We went to Beirut Kebab, a Lebanese kebab shop. We took the stor kebab set - consist of a medium beef kebab with a soft drink. It cost us NOK65 each (MYR32.50). For your record, "stor" means medium size :)

The first question that I asked Fadzil the moment he gave me the kebab was...

"How to eat this?"

You wanna know why? The kebab was definitely different from ours. It's in a shape of a wide ice-cream cone!

Tadaaaa! :) Mr. Hubby modelling his meal :P

The kebab consist of pita bun shaped into an ice-cream cone, filled with generous filling of diced kebab beef (of which prepared with spices such as cumin) plus corns, sauteed onions, cucumbers and the special white sauce. Nyumylicious!! No wonder Fadzil had been mentioning about it over and over again. Tell you lepas makan tu teringat2 sampai I had to go and have it again the next day! Plan nak makan maggie mee to save budget tak berjaya nampaknya :P. Oh ya, I forgot to tell you...the way its eaten is by holding the cone in one hand and eat it like an ice-cream but instead of licking it, you use a fork instead :)

We went back to the hotel after dinner, had our coffee from the freshly brewed coffee machine at the lobby and went to bed early, preparing ourselves for the next day adventure.

To be continued...