A maritime weekend in Oslo, pt. 3

Ah, Oslo. You were truly wonderful! If only you could have given us slightly better weather, we would have lost our hearts completely. But you know that saying “any city looks great in the sun” - Oslo can even pull off rain and still be stylish and pretty. Upon waking up on Sunday, the first glance out of the window was still promising, but as we were sitting down to stuff ourselves at the lovely breakfast buffet, it was already raining cats and dogs! We laughed at tourist groups in matching rain coats and then grabbed our umbrellas to brace the weather and head down to the harbor.

Our plan was to take a ferry out to Bygdøy, a peninsula where a lot of museums are located. After completely leaving out muesums in Helsinki, we felt it was high time for some culture and learning, and also, museums are (usually) an indoors activity, hence no rain! We hopped on the adorable little ferry boat and chug-chug-chugged away on the stormy seas towards the island.



The first museum we headed to is called Fram, a museum about polar exploration, which houses the famous polar vessel by the same name, as well as tons of information about polar explorers and the trips they took, especially the race to the South Pole between Roald Amundsen of Norway and Robert Scott of Britain. You can go aboard the ship and go under deck (a slightly claustrophobic experience, and the air in there is really bad - I have no idea how they actually managed to live on the ship for so long!), and read up a lot about the polar expeditions, the North and South Pole, and the explorers, who, without fail, had a strong mustach game going on!



From the Fram museum, it’s only a stone’s throw to the Norwegian Maritime Museum. Norway as a whole is so strongly dependent on the sea, and the museum has a great selection of exhibitions that showcase the different ways the ocean influences the life of Norwegians. My personal favorite was the selection of maritime paintings. They also have an interactive section, where the boyfriend and I spent about 20 minutes playing a computer game simulating the shipping industry. He won, even though I got the cars to Norway faster and my clients were really happy… but I digress. It was a fun museum, and they had a very delicious apple pie in the cafeteria, which made up for my unfair defeat.


We needed some fresh air, and the timing was perfect because the sun had just decided to peek out from behind the clouds, so we sat for a bit in the park and enjoyed the weather.




The third and final museum we visited was the Kon Tiki Museum. I hadn’t actually heard of this before, but the boyfriend was adamant in his wish to visit the museum, so I came along, of course. In case you, like me, aren’t aware, the museum centers around the work of Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian adventurer who wanted to prove that contact between ancient cultures was possible. He did so by constructing boats and floats using materials and techniques that would have been available to those ancient cultures, and he managed to cross the Pacific Ocean on such a vessel (see Kon-Tiki Expedition). His other explorations took him to places like the Easter Islands. The museum shows the original vessel from the Kon-Tiki expedition - insane to believe that six men spent 100 days on that tiny float (picture shows Ra II, used for another expedition)! A very interesting museum, as also evidenced by the entries in the guest book.



Then it was time to head back to the hotel, collect our stuff and head out to the airport, where we decided to spend some quality time in the lounge before boarding. I may or may not also have bought a handbag on the way to the gate - oops!




All in all, a great weekend, and I can’t wait to go back, maybe in the spring? I could imagine Oslo is lovely in the spring!

A maritime weekend in Oslo, pt. 2

After arriving in Oslo last Saturday morning by boat and slightly hungover, we headed right on to the hotel, which was about a 15min walk through the inner city. Luckily, my boyfriend had been in Oslo before and remembered a lot, so that spared my poor hungover the excessive strain of actually having to process a map and directions, something I naturally suck at. The weather was a bit odd, like it couldn’t quite decide whether it should be rainy or sunny, or both at the same time. We arrived at the hotel, right off of Karl Johans gate, at the Esplanades, with the royal palace and the harbor in immediate walking distance. The hotel itself was already very nice, but after the dreadful cabin on the ship seemed like pure heaven! They scored so many points by having our room ready for check-in at 10:30am already, and for upgrading us to a beautiful executive room with a sitting area, a huge, comfy bed, and a massive rain shower. We freshened up and relaxed for about an hour, before heading out to do some exploring.




We strolled back down Karl Johans gate and to the opera house, which is located right at the waterfront. A very fascinating arcitectural structure, and a stark contrast to the otherwise very classic, old-timey Oslo building panorama. We climbed all the way onto the top (not that easy when you’re still not feeling 100%!) and enjoyed a nice view over the city center and up to the ski jumping hill Holmenkollen for about five seconds, before it started to rain, so we decided to head back.



Back up Karl Johans gate (there are probably other streets in Oslo, too…) and then down the Esplanades, all the way towards the royal palace we strolled, as the rain shower luckily ended as quickly as it had appeared. We even got the occasional ray of sunshine! I really love the colorful, whimsical buildings - Oslo must be one of the most universally beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. Helsinki had its charming corners, but in Oslo, you’re hard pressed to find a building that isn’t amazing.



I had been told ahead of the trip that Oslo would be “dead” and there wouldn’t be any people in the streets. I have to disagree - the streets were filled with beautiful Scandinavians on a Saturday shopping trip or enjoying a coffee in one of the cafés along the Esplanades, and of course with tourists snapping picture after picture (including me!). It was a really nice atmosphere, the kind that makes you wish you were one of those young, hip, Oslo people that just promenade up and down the city center.

After a short hike up a hill - in truth, it was more of an elevation, but living in flat Copenhagen for two years has made me soft! - we arrived at the royal palace. I love that it’s in the middle of the city, but still manages to give off that imperial vibe,  sitting there on top of the hill surrounded by beautiful gardens.



We strolled through the park and enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine, which had by now broken through the clouds. How cute is that little gazebo? I would like to think the royal family comes down there to drink a cup of tea every once in a while, but that’s probably not what usually happens…




From the gardens, we headed down to the harbor and went to the Nobel Peace Center, which is definitely worth a visit. We also took some time to sit down, rest our tired legs and feet, and enjoy some well-deserved refreshments!





Luckily, the museum and the harbor were very close to our hotel, so we headed back to relax for a bit, before heading out again for some pre-dinner drinks. I’d made plans with Alina, a blogger friend of mine, and her husband, at the roof top terrace at the Grand Hotel (across the street from ours). It was great meeting her in person, as I’ve enjoyed her blog (Life in a Bubble) and her Instagram pictures over the past months, and we had a great time. They’re coming to Copenhagen soon, so hopefully we can return the favor. Here’s a very rare picture of the boyfriend (in the center) - he usually doesn’t let me put his photo on the blog, but made an exception (photo credit is to Alina).




We had lovely drinks (but boy, is Oslo expensive!) and headed on to a small cozy vinyl record store with a bar on the second floor, where we had another glass, before heading to dinner. Again, I thought I really have to get some speakers for my old record player, which is currently only collecting dust in the closet. Records are awesome!

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After all of that action, we were just tired as hell, so we made use of the small dinner buffet at the hotel and turned in very early with some TV, so we’d be fresh for Sunday. The rest of the weekend is coming up, so stay tuned!

A weekend in Helsinki, pt. 3 - Sunday strolls and pirate pigeons

Good morning and happy weekend! After some serious rain action yesterday, Copenhagen weather has picked up and we’re looking at a sunny and (hopefully) dry weekend. Time to finish up my recap of our trip to Helsinki (read about boats and sunburns and all the cocktails in Helsinki).

Our flight back home was early Sunday evening, so we had some more time to explore the city. After getting our slight hangovers back in check with a big breakfast, we walked down to the harbor again to do some more lazy exploring - this time on board of a vintage street car. A round trip costs 5€ and takes you on a 25min tour through the city center. We actually didn’t see anything we hadn’t seen before, but it was fun anyways. And noisy. Tours depart from the harbor market frequently. More infomation here.






After arriving back at the market square, we took another walk (we really walked a lot!) through a beautiful residential area and the Kaivopuisto park, before reaching Café Ursula‘s seaside terrace, where we sat down and enjoyed a cold beverage and the view. Most people seemed to come here for a glass of champagne or some brunch/ lunch, but we were still too full from breakfast. One of the main attractions was the large crane that stood about a hundred meters away, and that people could bungee-jump from. So if you’d like to get an adrenaline kick in Helsinki, this seems to be the place (not for me though, thanks!).


For the walk back, we strolled along the boardwalk and enjoyed the fresh breeze (it was soooo warm!) and the beautiful buildings that line the road.


We even ran into this adorable little guy!


Our last stop before heading back to the hotel to claim our baggage and make our way to the airport was a local pizza restaurant called Putte’s Bar & Pizza, which apparently makes the best pizza in town. It’s a popular lunch spot during the day, and turns into a bar at night (but still serves pizza, which is like the best idea ever!).


We ordered a simple margherita pizza and an avocado salad. The salad was nice and fresh with a lemon dressing and some sunflower seeds. It came with two slices of homemade garlic bread, which was absolutely amazing. The pizza was brilliant, with a crispy thin crust, a great tomato sauce, gooey mozzarella and fresh basil on top. Sometimes, less definitely is more! If we hadn’t been sharing, I would’ve tried one of their more extravagant varieties, such as the one with goat’s cheese and aubergine. The hit with the locals seemed to be the pizza with lamb and rocket.



I’ll leave you with this very important public service announcement, spottet at Putte’s (where you can also sit outside):


I hope you have a great weekend, and don’t forget that you can like The Copenhagen Tales on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and find more pictures on my Instagram!


A weekend in Helsinki, pt. 2 - Mostly food and cocktails

In part 1 of my Helsinki weekend roundup, I took you on a trip to the harbor market and on a boat cruise around Helsinki’s archipelago, which is how we spent most of our Saturday. But when the sun went down, we decided to try out some other places I had found. Now, you should know that I’m a planner. I hate being unprepared for something, so in the week leading up to the trip, I frantically searched the internet for great tips and recommendations, so that we could make the most of our trip.

In terms of my choices, I normally like to stray a bit off the beaten path and explore the city on my own terms. But since this was our first time going to Helsinki, I felt that some must-sees should definitely be on the program as well (hence the two churches from the first post). The boat cruise was chosen mainly because we love being on the water, and it gave us the opportunity to get some tanning (read: burning) done! Plus, if you ask me, any city looks better from the water!

For tips on restaurants and bars, I stuck to this website, where locals share they favorite places. I made a sort of long-list that I then presented to my boyfriend (I literally gave him 22 pages of reading material I had compiled, ranging from said list to various magazine articles and extracts from websites), from which we could then pick and choose depending on our mood.

We started the night off at a highly recommended place called Ateljee, a rooftop bar on the top floor of the Torni hotel in the city center. We came mainly for the amazing view over the entire city of Helsinki (see my awesome iPhone panorama below), and we were not disappointed! Their cocktails are also very nice. They have one which they serve in the famous Aalto vase (which you then get to keep), but seeing as this was our first stop of the night, I didn’t want to carry heavy glassware around!

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Across the street from the Torni hotel, on popular bar street Kalevankatu, we stepped into Vin Vin, a (surprise!) wine bar. I immediately felt completely at home, and when I saw the cheese display, I didn’t want to leave at all! But we had a late dinner reservation, so I stuck to a lovely glass of rosé and ordered a sampler cheese plate, which was amazing! I honestly think that was some of the best camembert I’ve ever had! What I loved most about this place was the fact that they have an integrated hair salon (Salon Noir) - you can get a haircut appointment and sip a glass of wine meanwhile, or snack on some of that delicious cheese. How awesome is that?!

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My boyfriend felt adventurous and went with a Finnish classic called “Long Drink”, a super popular mix with gin and grapefruit soda, that comes in these adorable little bottles. I’m a gin fan, so I definitely liked it!

PS: How cute is the interior of this bar?!

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I could easily have spent an entire evening there, but we did want to make one more stop before our dinner: Liberty or Death, supposedly one of the best cocktail bars in town. We had tried unsuccessfully on Friday night, only to find a queue outside (people standing in line for a cocktail bar - that bar must be pretty darn good, we thought to ourselves, and decided to come back). This time, we were not disappointed. Much to our surprise (and that of one of the bartenders/ waiters), the place was half empty. But that meant that we could sit down and have a nice chat with the bartender about all the cocktails, and we got his personal recommendation. They change their menu every eight weeks, so things never get old. I chose two gin-based cocktails, one with mint, lime and egg whites, and one called “The Raven”, with blueberries and cucumber. Both were exquisite!

Super secret tip: There is a loose brick in the wall next to the bookshelf at the window. Staff sometimes hide little goodies there (like tiny bottles of liqor)!

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Before we left, the bartender wrote the address of a new bar they had just opened on a scrap of paper. He didn’t tell us the name of the place, only that it had just opened about two weeks ago, and that it was a sort of speakeasy bar. “You won’t see it from the outside. You’ll see the blacked-out windows, and the door will be open.” Obviously intrigued, we added this to our list for after dinner!

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Already slightly tipsy, despite the cheese, we headed around the corner to our dinner restaurant. It was mentioned pretty much in every article I read about food in Helsinki: Juuri, famous for their Finnish tapas, or “sapas”, as they call them, made from local ingredients like reindeer and salmon. We decided to go with the menu, which consisted of six “sapas” to share, followed by a main course of pike perch from Oulujärvi with chantarelle and spinach from Herttoniemi, and for dessert, Åland style pancake with strawberry mousse and fresh strawberries. But first, an amuse-bouche with goat cheese, salmon, and rye bread crumbs:

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… followed by the six “sapas”, chef’s selection, which were:

  • Char grilled rainbow trout with sour cream and malt
  • Tomato vendace with smoked quark
  • Egg cheese with lemon, thyme and birch sap
  • New potatoes from Herttoniemi with onion
  • Head cheese of organic pork with broccoli and mustard seeds
  • Organic beef, dill and beetroot


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The main course was just as delicious - even though my boyfriend normally doesn’t like mushrooms at all, he thoroughly enjoyed the tiny chanterelle. The fish was tender and the small spinach pancakes added some great flavor to the mix.

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When we got to dessert, I was already kind of full, maybe due to the cheese platter earlier? But when I saw this beautiful creation, I knew I could trust my dessert stomach not to let me down! A thick and fluffy little pancake, covered in strawberry mousse, with fresh berries on the side - soooo yum!

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When we left Juuri, happy and completely stuffed, we welcomed the opportunity to walk back down to the harbor, where this super fancy underground speakeasy place was supposed to be - the walk and the fresh air really helped after that amount of food! We quickly found the street, and, as the bartender said, spotted the place with the black windows and the open door. We stepped in and found ourselves in a small foyer room, with a locked door. We knocked and looked for a doorbell, but nothing… I’m not going to disclose the secret here, but we actually managed to get inside and were promptly led to our seats right at the bar - which I loved, because we again got the chance to chat up the bartender and learn a bit more about the place. Stepping into the bar was like stepping back into 19th century London (the place is also named after two detectives, Trillby & Chadwick) - dimly lit, big leather armchairs, dark corners perfect for sharing secrets…

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We could only manage one more cocktail each without bursting out of our clothes, but boy were they worth it! I stayed true to my line and ordered one with Hendrick’s gin (my favorite!), cucumber and cinnamon (ah-mah-zing!) and my boyfriend, with his love for girly drinks, chose the one the bartender described as “dessert drink”. It actually comes with a caramelized meringue top and a spoon. How great is that?!

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(I guess we should get points for reversing gender roles in terms of drinks, eh?!)

When we were ready to leave and crash in our hotel room, one of the bartender personally escorted us and locked us out of the back door - does it get more underground than that?! I loved the experience, and if you’re ever in Helsinki, do try it out. Their cocktails are the bomb!

Stay tuned for some Sunday explorations in part three of the series!





A weekend in Helsinki, pt. 1 - Churches, markets, boats, and fish

Hey guys! We’ve just “survived” a massive thunderstorm last night here in Copenhagen, but I was actually really glad - it had been a long time coming! The warmth and especially the humidity had become a bit too much for me, and so I was glad to spend the weekend away from the city, and luckily, we made it back in time before flights had to be canceled due to the weather!

Friday afternoon, we headed to the airport to cash in my boyfriend’s birthday present from me - a weekend trip to an undisclosed location! I had promised myself not to tell him where we were going (and all his friends and family also kept quiet!), and his guesses ranged from Rome to Madrid to Iceland, but he was actually surprised when he saw Helsinki at the gate!

We landed at Helsinki airport around 19:30 local time, and headed to the hotel. The cheapest option is to take a shuttle bus that goes straight to the central station, and we walked to the hotel from there. After freshing up a bit, we decided to take a late dinner at a place we’d seen on the way and that I know from Germany: Vapiano!

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