Flying home for Christmas 

Nothing gets me more into holiday spirit than packing my suitcase and heading for the airport (except perhaps a certain song by Mariah Carey). Love hanging out at festive decorated transit halls in anticipation of returning home to my winter wonderland Tromsø in the Arctic North, where my parents live, to see family and friends. Everyone will be home for Christmas.

Same procedure as last year, James

This holiday travel tradition has been constant for twelve years. I’ve been coming home from London, Bergen, Cairo and Oslo every year except that one time I decided to go to East Africa for a month and celebrate in Kenya with newfound friends. Not to my mothers liking. Christmas is a super sacred family time in Norway. There are traditions that have been kept for decades. We watch the same Christmas shows on rerun every year and the most peculiar combination of movies: Love Actually, Gremlins and… Die Hard 2! There are certain traditional dishes we just must have, though my mother is pretty chill with menus and we`ve had everything from reindeer to halibut. Even adults get advent calendars, and they aren`t exactly cheap. Good thing we pay half tax in December.

iphoto-1206

And some new traditions

Northern Lights tourism has exploded up here. Locals alike go out searching for it. Whale spotting at Kvaløya is also very popular, which you need do in the blue hours of twilight. The sun will stay away and nights will be polar till the 21st of January. I`ve taken friends from the UK, the US and Spain up here in wintertime and they all survived at 69˚N. Poor Jenny even joined on an icy hike up the mountain when the cable car was out for maintenance. It was a slippery slope down again without spikes. Nothing beats the Arctic in winter.

iphoto-657

Finally after one years absence I will return north. Been so many trips to uncharted territory in 2016; China, Paris, Sicily, Amsterdam, Faroe Islands. And a wedding in Portugal. Haven`t had time for what the Lonely Planet described pretty well in one sentence: “Simply put, Tromsø parties.” Also found this, one of the funniest guides to Tromsø ever! A poor man`s connoisseur guide to the best and “Wurst” of the coolest city in the North, except perhaps Reykjavik, with grateful thanks to the gulf stream.”

img_1219

Advertisements

Let it go! 

My friend told me to snap out of the housing bubble, so let me tell you fabulous travellers why Oslo is your next destination.

Perhaps you’ve seen an animated movie about two sisters, Elsa & Anna, who live in a frozen kingdom. Disney came to Norway for inspiration for that. We got Arendelle right here at Akershus fortress. It`s like an urban winter wonderland.

Affordable gourmet

The restaurant and bar scene is booming. You can have a six-course meal at Michelin starred Kontrast or wonderfully quirky Pjoltergeist for 850,- NOK (100 $/ 94 €/ 80 £). Oslo is not cheap, neither is London, New York, Dubai, Paris or Tokyo. And it shouldn’t be! The cost of production and minimum wage is high in comparison in our oil-fueled economy. There are so many options for budget travelling today, you can find affordable accommodation and food.

However, we have heavy taxation and strict marketing laws for alcohol preventing things like 2 for 1 and happy hour. It used to be a Lutheran Protestant country, go figure. The trick is to get spirits at the airport duty-free, pre game and after party like most Norwegians. Or go to student bars.

The underdog

Oslo is a rough diamond. It has all the typical Scandinavian things but also an art scene and modern architecture developing with the speed of light. The city is growing rapidly which is evident by the numbers of cranes inhabiting downtown. Reminds me of a docu produced by my former colleague Sam at Cartoon Network “the Solitary Life of Cranes“.

There are an impressive number of concerts and happenings in Oslo. Just like back in jolly old London, I enjoy going to the Opera to watch modern dance, to music- and film-festivals and to try out new eateries, bars and places. I work at Visit Oslo, though I write this blog entirely on my own time, at my own expense, and get no benefits or encouragement for it whatsoever. No free meals. I am more biased towards my hometown Tromsø, up in the Arctic North.

Anything you’d like to know about Oslo or Tromsø? Leave a comment!

img_1404