Chasing Aurora Borealis in Tromsø

I’ve been waiting for years to be able to check this on my bucket list and I’m finally doing it. Yes, it is pretty expensive, I paid for 950NOK (92€) for the big bus chase (up to 50 people inside the bus). If you want to get the small bus or even private, yes it’s available, just check the ticket price on their website.

Be aware that there will be no guarantee that you will be able to see the northern lights. Even if you see them, the shape and intensity will always vary as it is a natural phenomenon where forecasting will take days to do. As I mentioned above, the particles exposed from the sun is called the solar storm, it takes up to 3 days to reach earth, yeah it’s a long time. My suggestion for forecast apps will be Aurora Forecast (available for iOS and Android) and Aurora Borealis Forecast & Alerts (only iOS).

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The whole bus

The tour started at 17:45 near the port, it was already dark. Everyone started gathering and the guides were checking our bookings so that we can enter the big bus, the bus is quite full. Since we can see there are some mid clouds coming, the guides were always active on checking where will the tour go. My guide, Bert, explained so much about his experience about the Aurora Borealis, it’s so cool. It took around 20 minutes to reach the first stop, which was in Kvaløysletta Island. The northern light wasn’t that strong, but very glad that we found them as there were more mid clouds coming. It’s not really visible with naked eyes, it was just a green tint in the dark sky.

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Since the situation wasn’t getting better, they decided to leave for another place, Ramfjordbotn. It was quite far, it took at least 2 hours to get there. We were lucky enough to find the Aurora Borealis again here, it was such a long wait! We even had our snacks (it was provided) which was cookies and hot chocolate until we saw the lights showing up. This time, it was quite strong for like 3 minutes! Though the Aurora wasn’t dancing due to weather conditions, I was still overwhelmed by the beauty of this earth.

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I would definitely recommend this tour IF you have some savings and if you travel alone. If you have the chance to rent your own car, do it! Wanna see how I found the northern lights myself for FREE? Check my previous blog post:) See you on the next one!

Tromsø Must-Do Checklist + Tips & Tricks (3D2N)

Hi there! Are you planning for a winter trip to check out the northern lights? The northern lights are known as Aurora Borealis, a natural light display you can see from high latitude regions. Why is it green first of all? It happens from a chemical reaction, simply saying that there is a great collision between the earth’s gaseous particles and charged particles from the sun’s atmosphere. The most common color you’ll see is yellowish-green, it comes from oxygen molecules around 100km away from the earth–super far! If you’re super lucky, you can see a red-colored aurora which happens at least 300km away.

A little warning, Tromsø is a very expensive town, so be ready to splurge a lot of money here. You can also find cheaper northern lights destination; Alta or Varanger. There will be no direct flights to Tromsø from Bergen with Norwegian Air, so be sure to consider other airlines such as; SAS and Widerøe. How many days will be enough for this trip? Well, if you have a lot of savings, I would suggest at least 5 days so that you will have more chance to see the Aurora Borealis.

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Anyways, let’s also explore what’s around Tromsø as a town and some tips about being a smart traveler there. Let’s start with some tips here;

Don’t get fooled by getting the 2-way ticket by the official airport bus 

Traveling smart and on a budget can be similar. Doing decent research on the cheapest transportation is necessary! Since I didn’t do that, I purchased the overpriced official airport bus ticket for 180NOK (17€). Instead, you should get the “Tromskortet” Transport Card. It can be bought both online and offline (in minimarkets in town). To be able to commute better, download these 2 apps; Troms Mobillett (for buying the online ticket) and Troms Reise (to check out the specific time table and bus stop locations).

Book your accommodation early

Booking a month earlier is a better idea since this town has very limited space for its tourists! Home for 70,000 people, the expected tourist yearly is way more than that number. Accommodation can be very expensive if you book them last minute, I paid for a bunk bed in Tromso Activities Hostel for 50€ a night, though their customer service is very amazing. You can get a better deal;)

Here’s where you have to visit:

Skansen, The Oldest House in Town

Nothing to expect, to be honest, it’s just a very small yellow house near a roundabout. I guess it’s just overrated! I mean, the houses nearby it is built since mid 19th century. Since the road is covered with snow, the cobblestone wasn’t visible.

Polarmuseet i Tromsø

Have you ever wonder how do people live in the north back in the days? Coming here will be the answer. Though the museum is not interactive–it’s a very old one, you will get so knowledgable after your visit here. They show how people hunt food, how the seal is a very important source of economy, until how people create a map centuries ago!

FYI, this museum is open daily from 11:00-17:00, it’s very affordable, I got my bundle ticket of 50NOK (student price) which also includes Tromsø Museum. Interesting fact, as long as you keep the physical ticket with you, you can go back and forth for the whole year. So, if you’re in a rush to just visit half of the museum, you can!

Sunset by the port

It’s always great to enjoy nature while traveling, especially here in Tromsø!! With only 5 hours of daylight, we definitely deserve some sun on the face! During that day, the sunrise was at 09:27 and sets at 14:29, super early! It feels so weird to be far north.

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Tromso Library

Not a fan of books but I’m here for the architecture. I adore the dome-shaped roof, and their glass doors and windows, so futuristic! Since Tromsø is also a student town, you will see so many students studying inside, don’t bother them! You can clearly see that this building is newly made, the interior is so minimalistic and clean, I love it! They also play with different colors, it creates a great tint to the whole vibe. The library opens at 09:00 and closes at 19:00, so make sure to stop by and check out their beauty.

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Perspective Museum

Are you a fan of photography? If yes (just like I do), this will be HEAVEN for you. I can’t tell how amazed and amused when I was there. During that time, they are showing a temporary exhibition by Erlend Berge, it was about traditional houses across Norway, it’s very eye-opening! Also, there will be a designated place for black and white pictures, so amazing.

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Erlend Berge’s Exhibition

This museum’s opening time is 10:00-16:00, and it’s free. What else can you ask for? This is a must-go in my point of view. The location is literally 5 minutes from the center.

Northern Lights Chase by Chasing Lights

Another blog post dedicated to this will be posted;) Stay tuned.

Tromsø Museum – Universitetsmuseet

Guess who’s using the most out of her bind-ticket? Me! Well, I decided to come in the first place because I have the Polar Museum ticket bought bound with Tromsø Museum. As the oldest Northern Norway’s research institution, Tromsø University Museum has strong research and development approach! The museum itself isn’t that huge, they have only 3 sections; natural sciences, cultural sciences, and the temporary exhibition upstairs.

What caught my interest was the exhibition about The Sami, they explain how they live in the 21st century, they work like other Norwegians, Swedes, and Finnish. They also show education has been compulsory for them back in that century. FYI, during winter (up to May 2020), they open on Mon to Fri at 10.00 – 16.30, Sat at 12.00 – 15.00, and Sunday at 11.00 – 16.00.

Fjell­hei­sen (Tromsø Cable Car)

I was very curious to try this cable car since Tromsø is such a small town where you can see the panoramic view from that cable car ride. The ride wasn’t that long, maybe around 7 minutes one-way. Keep in mind that the ticket is quite expensive, 210NOK for a two-way trip, the time table is not exactly clear as they just go whenever the cable car is full (departure should be on the half-hour).

By the time you reach the viewpoint, there are different spots you can choose from. You can either stay at the closest viewpoint, which is just right by the indoor café/restaurant or go for a short walk to the second viewpoint, where you can get a clearer view of the whole Tromsø. It might get super windy that the short walk can get a little bit dangerous. The opening time is 10:00-23:00 daily.

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Polaria Aquarium

As a fan of marine animals, this is on my list. But I gotta give an honest review to you, it is not worth it! The adult ticket is 175NOK and students for 90NOK for a 3-room aquarium. The building is old and unrefreshed, though the seal feeding was quite interesting. There’s also an aquarium hallway where you can sit and enjoy some beautiful animals; seals and sharks.

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Dinner at Burgr

Can we eat cheap in Tromsø? Not really. I decided to go here with some new friends because it’s one of the most affordable places in town. My burger was around 150NOK, but since I share a french fries with a friend, my total was 175NOK, not too bad for such a well-made burger. The vibe is also chill, you can spend hours talking here.

Beer Tasting at Ølhallen

Since it was a Saturday (they close on Sundays), though I was tired, I decided to come here because of my love for craft beers. Another information, their opening time is 11:00-00:30 on Mon – Thu, 11:00-01:30 on Fri, and 10:00-01:30 on Sat. The atmosphere is so amazing, this is literally a real old school pub, located just next to the world’s most northern brewery, Mack, they serve 72 fresh Norwegian beers on tap. Ølhallen is also the oldest bar in town, serving since February 1928!

Since there were so many of those–it’s super hard to choose, I decided to take the tasting trays of 5 different beers brewed by Mack (which cost me 270NOK). They served me from bright ale to dark and creamy stout. It was hard to choose, but the fruity and flower-smelling pilsener was amazing! Just look how happy I am with all those beers, you’ll definitely enjoy them<3

Night Stroll Around the Town

Since Tromsø is also a student town, it was pretty crowded and dirty (people were super drunk already) while walking on the street. But definitely worth the walk to check out the simple but fun nightlife in this small town.

Dog Sledding by Klook

Another blog post dedicated to this will be posted;) Stay tuned.

Arctic Cathedral

The walk through the bridge was unbelievable, the wind was extremely strong that it will push me away, but I survived! The view that you’re gonna get is so breathtaking, you can see the port from the height, I even saw someone fishing just by the coastline. It was a 25-minute walk east from the city center, you can also get the bus if you’re not a fan of walking.

By the time you reach, the exterior of the building is so futuristic, it looks a luxurious igloo! If you’re an architecture fan, you will fall in love with the 11 aluminum-coated concrete form the cathedral has. This masterpiece by Architect Jan Inge Hovig was opened on November 19, 1965. They open daily from 13:00-18:00, and the adult ticket price is 50NOK.

By the time you’re inside, you can sit there forever, such a Zenn feeling. The glass façade is beautiful, just look at how detail the interior is. If you can’t get enough of this view, you can also go for the Northern Lights Concert at 23:00 every Thu – Sun which costs you 200NOK.

Tromsø Center for Contemporary Art

Wondering what to do after 15:00 where most places are closing? This contemporary art hall is open from 09:00-17:00 (daily except Mon and Tue). When I arrived, there was no one, though it’s nice for me though. The entrance is free, and they offer so many free postcards and art magazines. You can also buy some art books, beautiful design notebooks in their shop. During that time, I went to the temporary exhibition about the moon and light, it was quite scary as the room is a labyrinth, but the show was very unique. The receptionist is super friendly, she even suggested some places to eat.

Northern Norway Art Museum

I am so down for Norwegian art, so I decided to pass by this one. An adult ticket is 80NOK and children under 18 are free. There are so many landscape paintings from across Norway, those earthy colors calm my eyes, including the Aurora Borealis drawn by pencil from the 1830s, WOW. They also have some clay and metal 3D arts.

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The temporary exhibition was by Betsy Akersloot-Berg, she’s a marine painter that travels across the world, dating back to the early 1900s. She literally stayed by the coastline every time she travels, her paintings are unbelievably real, I can feel that I travel back in time!

Dinner at Huken Pub

Remember the nice receptionist that I talked about before? She suggested this place as it’s famous among students, so here I am. The place is super small but cozy, I literally got the last available table, some people gotta leave since there are no more space available. The interior is all wood, with some antiques around! They also have some choices of alcohol, including different types of bottled beer (from Mack too). I ordered this burger, it taste so mouth-watering. The price is also super amazing, that lovely burger costs me 155NOK, worth it<3 FYI, they open daily only from 14:00-02:00.

Chase your own Northern Lights at Prestvannet Lake

Since I am a curious cat, I decided to go to this lake, which is located 20 minutes by bus from the city center. It started snowing and I lost hope to find the Aurora, but guess what? She appeared for like 2 minutes before the big clouds full of snow hits back. The hike around the lake was very interesting though, there were some locals running through the dark, so peaceful.

The whole trail I guess was around 2km? I even walked to the frozen lake, it was quite scary since I don’t wanna fall to the water! There were some benches for you to chill out there, enjoy the frozen lake! There are so many houses around since it is a residential area. The last bus back to the city center reaches midnight and it leaves every 15 minutes, so don’t worry and enjoy the most of your time there:)

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Now the question is, do you think this trip is worth it?

 

 

 

 

A 29-km AurlandsFjord Tour with Norway in a Nutshell®

A little warning, this trip is a self-guided trip where all the purchased tickets are bought as a bundle by Norway in a Nutshell®so there will be no guarantee that you will be exploring with the same people (you can obviously make friends, as I did!). Is it worth it buying as a bundle? YES if you’re planning this trip last minute (like a week beforehand). I calculated every single ticket (if bought independently) and you will only save around 20€, the bundle will cost you 1740NOK (170€), it is EXPENSIVE. So, here’s the breakdown of the whole trip:

  • Bergen to Voss by Bergen Railway

Ready to wake up early in the morning? The train to Voss will leave at 08:39 from Bergen Station, make sure to be on time (the train ain’t gonna wait for ya). You will realize that there will be a lot of people with the same ticket (as you do) as you buy them from Norway in a Nutshell®. Both printed and electronic tickets (save the planet please) are excepted. There will be a specific seat number assigned for you, but I don’t think people really check or care about it. The train ride will take 1.5 hours, so you can still rest;)

  • Voss to Gudvangen by Bus

When you arrive at Voss, you won’t have much time to explore around since you will only have 15 minutes before the bus will leave. Well, I decided to have a short walk just around the lake and enjoy the pristine water and air. Stretch up your arms and legs for the rest of the journey. The bus ride is short, just an-hour-long! You will also pass by some amazing sceneries during the bus ride, some lakes, and snowy mountains.

  • Gudvangen to Flåm by a Sustainable Cruise

Gudvangen is unbelievably beautiful, I can’t even tell how clean it is, the view is breathtaking. WOW, it is more beautiful than Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Look up to check out their snowy mountain, and just enjoy those fjords before leaving by the boat. I would suggest getting a take-away lunch before leaving for this trip. Prices will be very expensive (eg. a regular sandwich for 8€), you will starve!! The best you can get inside the boat will only be hotdogs… The rest-area will also sell some souvenirs if you’re interested.

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Interesting fact, the cruise is fully sustainable! It’s so huge, the boat’s capacity can be up to 200 people. You can stay both indoor and outdoor, well obviously I chose to stay mostly outdoor, ain’t gonna waste that money! You will see how long Aurlandsfjord is:) The wind will hit so hard though, so don’t forget your thick gloves, hat, and scarf. The boat will stop once by a village named Aurlandsvangen, if you book the bundle differently, you can also spend a night here. Since the bundle that I booked is the simplest one, we’re gonna continue the journey to the next village, Flåm.

Flåm is a very small village, located in the inner end of Aurlandsfjord, a branch of the giant Sognefjord. You will only have 40 minutes in the village. So I decided to send a postcard to my little sister, fly my drone, and check out the Visit Flåm Museum, it’s free! The museum is generally small, you can check out a brief history of Flåm Railway, Flåm itself, and how locals live back in the days. During this short time, I just use most of it to enjoy the amazing landscape outside:)

  • Flåm to Myrdal by Flåm Railway

Widely known for the most beautiful train ride in the world, this train will take you up to the high mountains, Myrdal. You will definitely enjoy the beautiful scenery of the snowy mountains, hidden waterfalls, local houses in the middle of nowhere, and of course orange leafless trees. In this 20km long ride, you will have a stop by Kjosfossen Falls for a photo stop, a great spot to take some pictures 🙂 The whole train ride is 50 minutes, so make sure you enjoy every second of it, remember that this railway took 20 years to be done, it’s a real artwork.

I would suggest choosing the seat on the right side when going from Flåm to Myrdal as most of the beautiful scenery is on that side. It’s also possible to open the top part of the window to get a more HD view of the landscape.

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  • Myrdal to Bergen by Bergen Railway

Well, technically you will change to the train that you use at the beginning of the trip (the one from Bergen to Voss). The whole train ride will be 2 hours towards sunset, enjoy the sunshine before it leaves. When it was the end of January, the sunset was at 16:20, so early! The whole trip was extraordinary, I would also recommend this tour for families. Though you have a designated seat on your ticket, most probably the train will be empty, so free seatings:)

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Will you choose this bundle after all those amazing pictures I’ve shown you? You decide;)

 

Winter Outdoor Adventure in Bergen, Norway (3D2N)

While planning this trip, it wasn’t hard to put Bergen as part of the list. Seen as a city fjord, Bergen is also surrounded by stretches of mountains (that you can even hike on them).  Though it is considered as the rainiest city in Europe, you can do a lot of outdoor activities, even during winter. I would suggest a 2-night stay rather than 3 as Bergen is considerably small:)

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Keep in mind that purchasing Bergen Pass will be totally worth it as it is super cheap in any case! A 24-hour pass worths 280NOK (26€), 48-hour for 360NOK (33€), and 72-hour for 430NOK (40€). The best way to purchase it might be when you arrive at the airport, in my case, it was Bergen Lufthavn Airport, you’ll find Deli de Luca shop (or at the tourist information) at the arrivals hall, they accept cash. If you decide not to purchase it at the airport, you can always buy them in the city center, at the fish market tourist information.

So here’s what I did on the first day:

Lille Lungegårdsvannet

Need some fresh air after your flight? Come and chill here for a bit, they have a lot of benches around for you to sit on. You can also see so many birds, swans, and ducks flying around. Since Bergen is a small city, you can also have a look at the hillside from here.

Fishmarket in Bergen

Being a city just by the coastline, Bergen is well known for its seafood. Here, you can see (and eat of course) different types of fish (halibut, turbot, monkfish, salmon, cod, trout, etc), crabs, and shells. Don’t get surprised, the average price for a good lunch is a minimum of 30€ without a drink, so I didn’t get the chance to taste some of the freshest seafood here.

Go hiking at Mount Fløyen

You will need to take a cable car to get up to Mount Fløyen, the cable car’s name is Fløibanen, it’s in the city center! Since I have my Bergen Pass on hand, the cable car is included. They are open all year round, from 08:00-23:00. Winter price is always cheaper for most attractions, it’s 100NOK (9€) for a round-trip for an adult. If you have time and you love hiking, it’s better to just hike up for 1.5 hours and take the funicular down for 50NOK instead.

By the time you’re up there, you will get a crazy view of Bergen and you can also hike around the mountain. There are so many routes you can take, I chose the short one, where I visited a small lake named Skomakerdiket. FYI, there’s also a choice of visiting a troll garden (they are man-made troll statues). Be prepared for some slippery road (it was icy!). The routes are very well marked, so don’t be scared to be lost;)

Bergenhus Fortress Museum

Visiting Bergen during winter is not the best idea first of all. Most museums close at 15:00, so early! That’s why you really have to pack up all the museums on your list during midday. Since I started late today, I decided to go to this museum first since they close at 17:00. The museum is free of admission, lovely!

The facility is not that great first of all, they only have the English pamphlet on some printed paper that you can get on hand around the museum, no audio guides available. But customer service is so amazing there, the lady explained so many things about Bergen’s history, not only about the fortress either. This museum has several areas to check out, you can even walk out and see the whole fortress area including:

  • King Håkon’s Hall

Being 750 years old, this building is originally built for royal residence and feasting hall. Eventually, during the 20th century, it was used as ammunition storage for Bergenhus Fortress. They open from 12:00-15:00 daily and adult ticket price for 100NOK.

  • Rosenkrantztårnet

This is a renaissance era monument built for defensive purposes. They open from 12:00-15:00 daily and adult ticket price for 100NOK.

Bergen Aquarium (Akvariet i Bergen)

Who’s up for a 20-minute walk from the last bus stop? Don’t be surprised that not even one bus goes here. Save up around 45 minutes of your time at least to go back and forth from the city if you really wanna see this aquarium. They’re opening time is from 10:00-18:00, it’s a great place to spend your time just before dinner time (since most museums close at 15:00). The ticket price is 275NOK (25€) for all ages, though it is included in the Bergen Pass. This is where your Bergen Pass will “harvest” some money;)

Is it worth it? I would say yes:) You can see so many different animals, from fish, crocodiles, sharks, and insects. I enjoyed every single second of it, they even have different movie screenings, I saw the “Whale Migration”, so beautiful<3

Night stroll and check out Norwegian style houses

There’s nothing like Scandinavian houses in other parts of the world. As a person who adores architecture (not a pro obviously), walking around and checking out different styles and designs is such a unique experience. Those houses with all pastel colors, from grey, brown, light blue, and beige are just beautiful… The view that you’ll get from walking southeast to the central city is also breathtaking, Bergen with its fjords!

My second day is literally just the fjord tour and a suggestion of a cheap dinner;)

Fjord Tour with Norway in a Nutshell®

There will be a specific blog post about this, stay tuned<3

Dinner at Søstrene Hagelin

Where else to find a delicious dinner under 10€ here in Bergen? Here you go. Eating healthy as a traveler is not that hard here:) They have a wide range of menu of fish cakes; fishball, fish burger, fish on brown sauce (the one that I ordered), fish soup, fish wrap, fish pudding, until fish gratin. Originally invented by two sisters from 1929, their recipes are always made by fresh fish fillets.

Expect yourself to feel half full after eating a 3-piece fish cakes on brown sauce, they even add some boiled diced potatoes, boiled veggies, and pomegranate jam on your plate. It is a great portion for me, though I believe it won’t fill your regular belly! I will definitely go back.

Remember to rest enough after a day full of exploration, let’s move on into another fresh day!

Mount Ulriken643

As one of the rainiest city in Europe, don’t expect Bergen to always have sunshine. I planned to take the gondola/lift but the weather was super cloudy and wet (from the night before), so it’s definitely not worth the money. FYI, they open all week except Monday from 10:00-17:00 and the ticket price is 185NOK (2-ways) on winter months (Sep-Mar). If you have a Bergen Pass you will get a 20% off, making it 148NOK (it helps!).

The road labeling from the last bus stop which is Haukeland Hospital  (you can take Bus #2, 3 or 12 from the city center) is not clear at all, so make sure to open your own map! You should walk through Haukelandsbakken Tunnel to get into the right way. It was quite weird that I even have to pass through the hospital to find the right exit to reach the cable car area.

As I decided not to get the cable car, I decided to go for a 45-minute hike (out of the whole journey of 1.5 hours) to find out how cool the view would be. It was quite slippery since I wasn’t equipped with any hiking gears, be careful especially when you reach the icy part of the mountain.

Bryggens Museum

Going back from the mountain took me at least half an hour to reach the city! Make sure you reach before 14:00 as they close at 15:00 (FYI, opening hours is 11:00-15:00). Ticket price is 100NOK (9.7€) for adults and 50NOK (5.7€) for students (make sure to bring your student ID), it’s really worth the visit if you have an interest in history. The museum is mainly about the life of medieval people in Bergen and other western parts of Norway. They show thousands of artifacts, ranging from kitchenware, a ruin of a house, to human skeletons.

Schøtstuene, Hanseatic Assembly Rooms

Another must-visit museum if you love history and economy. Opening time is the same as Bryggen’s museum, 11:00-15:00. The ticket price is 120NOK for adults and FREE for under 18 (yay for me). The museum is mainly about the Hanseatic merchants who worked and lived in Bergen for at least 400 years, they come from different regions; Germany and The Netherlands. The museum building is one of the preserved wooden houses from the Hanseatic era, look at the details of the glass window

They also provided us a guided tour included in the ticket. It’s daily at 15:00, the meeting point is in front of the building. The route that we’re gonna do is Schøtstuene – Bryggen – Midthuset. We’re gonna check out that famous icon of Bergen, Bryggen, and really know the history behind it, so cool! Imagine those merchants standing where you stand right now! For the last stop, the guide will bring you to Midthuset (The Middle House) to check out the museum shop🙂

Vågal Bar

I guess we need a break! Here’s a very cool bar where you can order coffee, tea, wine, and beer. Though it’s a Swedish drink, you can also warm yourself with glögg, a hot mulled wine. The vibe is so calming here, bring your travel friends to chit chat for hours! The price is standard, a cup of coffee for around 50NOK and a glass of beer for 80NOK.

Well, that’s all for now, I hope you will enjoy your next trip:)

 

 

 

Day Trip to Árbol del Tule-Mitla-Hierve el Agua

Mornings in Oaxaca (during November) is freshy. Please don’t forget to bring your jacket in the morning to be prepared for the evening for this trip. IT WILL get chilly by the time the sun’s out. Sometimes, people decided to leave their jacket and suffer in the evening. Well, let’s just be prepared for the weather;)

Mercado Benito Juárez

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Morning walks has always been my “must-do” during my travel. So before the tour started, I decided to walk several block from my hostel to this huge market. They have so many handcraft shops, food stalls, to fresh meats.

Mercado 20 de Noviembre

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It’s heaven of fooood<3 Cheap breakfast? Grab one here! You can get all those agua fresca (fresh flavored water) just for 30 pesos ($1.5). My favorite will always be the horchata!!! I still can’t move on. For those of you who don’t know, agua horchata is literally translated as rice water. And, they make it with crunched walnut… Can’t even expect more than this. Drool.

Árbol del Tule

The day tour started at 10am, they have a pickup from the hostel, damn the service is so great. The hostel that I stayed in was Casa de Don Pablo, they have some choices of tours during the week, super recommendable. The ride was directly to this humongous tree, it took us around 25 minutes to get there.

By the time we arrived with that tourist bus, we went to the ticket box to buy an entry ticket. No tickets are included in the tour! I mean, there are no major differences if you don’t wanna buy the ticket because you can still see the tree from farway (but without details of the unique trunk). The wind was so chill that time, even though it was sunny.

Fresh Cotton Home Industry

I feel like I’m in New Zealand! Even though the production process doesn’t start with shaving sheep, we were shown how they made all their cotton products from scratch. They are actually just a home-sized factory, you can count those knitting machine. They also made their own coloring naturally, everything eco-friendly❤ I love it!

Despite that, they sell everything crazy overprized for tourist. I mean I didn’t buy anything, so it doesn’t matter. Along the way, they told us that they still teach their kids how to knit since they’re in kindergarten. Aww! I wish I could see them doing it. Preserving cultures is important!!!

Mezcal El Rey de Matatlán

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mezcal+El+Rey+de+Matatl%C3%A1n/@16.9945051,-96.5279791,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x85c732240dcf3943:0x353c252f5e652075!8m2!3d16.9945!4d-96.525785

You’re haven’t been to Oaxaca if you don’t do mezcal tasting!! Oaxaca is well known for their mezcal production compared to other states in Mexico. We started the short tour by listening to the production process, ranging from grinding to fermentation. The machineries are very limited; I think that’s only for display purposes.

Then, it continues to the tasting. There were so many types of mezcal though, from the regular, aged, to flavored. Try to drink them little by little;)

Zona Arqueológica de Mitla

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mitla,+Oaxaca,+Mexico/@16.9211732,-96.3991341,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x85c0ccb057457005:0x5497eb6346d2218e!8m2!3d16.9211732!4d-96.3991341

After those alcohols I think you better rest for a bit in this 20-minute ride to Mitla. The sun was heating my beige sweater that time; we were split into 2 groups, English and Spanish speaking tour. And of course, the one in Spanish is much more complete than the English!! The tour was generally fine; the Spanish refurbished Mitla on 1520s as a religious complex, they said. Entrance fee is not included, remember! Just 60 pesos ($3.2USD) anyways;)

created by dji camera

Hierve el Agua

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hierve+el+Agua/@16.8656531,-96.2760065,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x85c0c8fe944491e3:0x2d9ba5e9d5bb8efd!8m2!3d16.8656531!4d-96.2760065

“What even? A frozen waterfall?”, I thought.

Entrance fee: 20 pesos ($1USD). Indeed guys, it’s a petrified waterfall that form from mineral water which touches the karstic limestone. That is the reason why those crystals were formed on the mountain’s edge. Besides, you can also see the 3 mineral pools that sit beside the cliff. It is rich of calcium carbonate, magnesium, and a bit of sulphur that creates a yellow hue.

I also wonder why the name of this place started with “hierve” (in Spanish), which means boiling in English. Turns out it’s just heavily carbonated but the water temperature is just around 22-26°C (legalnomads.com). And, the water is actually sprouting out from the ground, creating some bubbles on the ground. Aside from sightseeing, you can swim inside the mineral pools too!!

And it’s not the end of the day without a little hike! I went for a 15-minute hike to see the other part, which is the cascada chica. You can see the smaller petrified waterfall with a worm point of view, so wonderful!

That’s a wrap for the day trip! Just make sure you bring some extra money for some entrance fee. Love you guys<3

Tequila, a Land Full of Blue Agave

“When will I go to Tequila? I think I should just go alone”, I said couple months ago.

Traveling alone in Mexico has been a very crazy idea after those scary experiences I had here. But trying is the key, right? Or you will never know, EVER. So I just got this crazy idea to leave Nayarit and also my work. Literally I just wanna leave all those stress and sh*t I was facing at the moment. Turns out to be a brilliant idea.

Looking that I have only have 7 days out of ‘jail’, I planned my trip starting from Guadalajara-Tequila-San Miguel de Allende-Guanajuato-Nayarit. But on this blogpost, it’s time to share about my tequila experience. I booked my Tequila trip just in front of the Guadalajara Cathedral. Because of my “job” as a student, they gave me a 100 pesos discount, show your student card!! Will be even better if you guys book the tour a day prior, it gets full.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Guadalajara+Cathedral/@20.674739,-103.3490365,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8428b1faa928f63f:0x25dcb2cdab10691a!8m2!3d20.677034!4d-103.346984

The next day I went at 9.45 in the morning, people are very on time surprisingly. We started walking to the bus parking area, just a 5–minute walk from the cathedral. The tour that I booked is the premium 9-hour tour, that’s why all the explanations are both in Spanish and English. Even though I speak Spanish, English is still easier for me. Back to the game! We all went for an hour ride to our first stop.

 

  1. Fortuna Cerveza Artesanal

We were welcomed with a lady which turns out to be our tour guide for this place. She explained so well how they make their greatest beer line. Starting on how they choose the grains, hops, and also the special formulas. Their machines are greatly clean, I can see that they are doing it with love and passion. Regardless, the packaging is also great, I can feel the spark of young creatives.

 

 

The staffs are also very friendly! They are very welcome to pictures.

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After the tour and explanations, she brought us to the bar where we will get the beer tasting. This is what I’m waiting for!! Honestly, I haven’t drink since forever. AND, artisanal beers are actually my favorite. Let’s see how it goes. She started the explanation about IBU and ABV, very useful for a hospitality student like me. Remember, the tasting is not free, you have to pay an extra 100 pesos for it. But anyways, who will complain for $7 tasting for 6 baby glasses of great beer? Also, I did ask for a bonus, their Sake Ale which have a touch of sake taste.

 

We started from Canita Lager, California, AFortunada, Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale (IPA), Stout, and lastly the great Sake Ale. Dear mother nature, thank you for all the plants you grant us!!! To be honest, AFortunada is the best ever for me, can’t even imagine them drinking it with Asian cuisines. After that, we left to the second spot.

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Full explanations from the guide;)

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The brewer (the guy)

  1. Tres Mujeres Tequila (Three Lady Tequila)

 

Bless me from alcohol. Hahahah! After those lovely beers, we went to the real tequila trip. Our guide explained us how (only) blue agave can make a beverage called ‘tequila’. We can only use the blue agave which has a grown piña (pine) because it means that it’s ready to be used as the base of fermentation. This all information is very new. She also showed us how they make tequila in the old days, from extracting the liquid of the blue agave’s pine and the process of boiling it in a special room.

 

“After those days with tequila, from Shanghai to Mexico, I just knew this now?!”, I said.

Moving on, we started walking to the plantation, it’s not that huge though. I think this place is family-owned? But most importantly, it’s well maintained.

 

We tried 4 types of tequila, the blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. It was great, but I don’t think it’s the best tequila producer. Imagine going to Don Julio’s!? Daaaamn. We were very happy there, following some sentences before enjoying our baby tequila glasses. Then, we continued our journey to the buffet lunch spot (which I decided not to eat because I’m on budget!). Soooo, skip to:

 

 

created by dji camera

  1. Tequila Town

We literally have 1 complete hour here, what can we even do with that?! I started walking to find a post card and a post office to send a post card back home. Tick, done! Then, I went to see some souvenir shops and start walking into the small streets. It’s indeed colorful, but it doesn’t catch my full interest.

created by dji camera

 

You can start looking at the Parroquia Santiago Apostol, the alleys, and then the plaza. Look at the town!! No es mi favorita (not my favorite). The tour ended there, the drive back to Guadalajara took us a little bit more than an hour. Greatly recommended though!

 

 

Tips on what to bring: a water bottle to dilute your alcohol content, some extra money for tasting and souvenirs.

 

San Sebastián del Oeste, a Homey Little Town

Another magic town on the list! I have been dreaming for the last 1 month to enjoy a little bit of fresh air. As you know Punta Mita; Nayarit area is still burning hot now, temperature varies from 25-30°C everyday. So for those of you who’s having a short holiday to Puerto Vallarta area, this ones for you. Going to San Sebastián del Oeste is just perfect for a day trip, or even a 2-day trip for you guys who wanted to have a more chill weekend in the fresh town.

That time, me and my friends drove from Puerto Vallarta very early in the morning, We started at 7 in the morning, allowing us to enjoy the sunrise on the way–pretty! The 3-hour drive was great actually, we passed by many breathtaking landscapes, from mountains to forests. And again, as a sleepy kid, I fell asleep because of the fresh wind going through the car window.

 

Brief history, San Sebastian is a town which were well known as their mining for silver, gold, and lead. It is found during the early Spanish colonial, in the Viceroyalty of New Spain period. Regarding the growth of this place, their population peaked up to 20,000 people but it remains around 5,000 nowadays. From the records that we have, it is mentioned that the mines start to close around 1910 because of the revolution.

 

As we begin our journey, we parked near a little shop where we can rent ATVs. The name of the place is Abarrotes Durán, the link is down below:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/20%C2%B045’42.4%22N+104%C2%B051’19.9%22W/@20.7625605,-104.8588867,17z/data=!4m6!3m5!1s0x8426b765352d8b4d:0x31d5a4dfad50b4bc!7e2!8m2!3d20.7617815!4d-104.8555394

 

We then rented two 2-seated ATV, the price was a great deal. I paid 700 pesos for 3 hours. Also, a huge reminder, don’t forget to bring your driving license if you wanna be the driver of the ATV! Well for me, I don’t need it because my friend Arturo is driving for me–he’s a crazy driver. 

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Beginning of the track

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On the way to mud splashes

First stop will be the first break point! We went to some crazy tracks, splashed with mud and also water. But for sure, picture first!! Hahaha! We started from the village with locals around, then the mountain area. It was a very bad idea to use my white shirt, OMG!

 

There was one time that our ATV was about to flip away (like fly through the cliff), crazy times. My friend Andrea was even worst, her ATV was almost flipping to more than 3 times! Be careful people! About 50 minutes from the starting point, we finally touched down the first break point. There’s really nothing there, it’s just a signal tower and we decided to take a group picture!

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Pay attention to the sign

The weather was a bit cloudy that day, but it was fresh! Imagine the smell of the forest, plus the mountainous breeze–never fail to make me calm! Afterwards, we endure back our body and soul to the track to La Bufa (the main observing deck). The drive was not that long, maybe only 20 minutes. But there, we have to park our ATVs and start a little 10-minute hike to the observing deck. I was having a very bad kit to hike, because I forgot to use my shoes!! 

 

 

The hike was super easy, I survived! The fog was very strong that we cannot see anything:( We just chill there for a while, taking so much pictures, eat our snacks, and sit down on the rocks. Because there was not really a view to enjoy, we decided to move and continue our journey to a mine, Mina Santa Gertrudis.

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It was quite a long drive, maybe 30 minutes? Mina Santa Gertrudis is a haunted silver mine where some kids (3 girls and some boys) in the depth of 80 metres. We walked through it, it’s cold…. Not long after, we decided to drive back because out 3 hours are almost out. 

 

We were soon hungry after that 3-hour fun drive. My friend Andrea keeps telling me there’s a very nice restaurant in town. And this Italian restaurant is indeed SUPER legit. And thankfully, they were open too! Take note people, the name is: Montebello Restaurant (closed on Tue and Wed)

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Montebello+Restaurante/@20.7614106,-104.8532138,18z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb07ee993d32f13f9!8m2!3d20.760661!4d-104.851967

 

And of course, I ordered the jamón serrano pizza! And look how they create the friendly and homey atmosphere of the place…. Super comfortable and great when you come with your family, friends, or your partner! Maybe grab a cup of wine when you take your loved ones here! I am so in love with this place<3 

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Just a perfect shot of our food

After a whole pan of pizza, we continued exploring the downtown. At first, we went to San Sebastián Mártir Church. The church is painted in light blue color. Not long after, we just walked back to the the plaza (Plaza Publica) to see some shops around.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/San+Sebastián+Mártir/@20.7617384,-104.8527681,20z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8426b764b59cd8a7:0xf6d8e21d199bbe00!8m2!3d20.7618542!4d-104.852709

 

 

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We were in Calle Allende looking at this pretty shop, and of course I bought a postcard to send it home to Jakarta. We had a very wonderful time that day. I really can’t wait to go out with them again! See you on the next one:)

 

 

Tips on what to bring: hat, backpack, water, bug spray, UV protector, hiking shoes.