Places to eat in Rome

Allora! First time visiting Rome. Lived up by Piazza del Popolo and walked everywhere, bellissima! To keep it short, but dolce, here are the places I can highly recommend:

I Pizzicaroli

Not far from Piazza Navona you`ll find an abundance of delicacies from Umbria and Abruzzo, served on a plank. A very long plank.

Osteria delle Coppelle

This is a gem! Few blocks from Pantheon. Book a table! Outside is nice, inside is buzzing with a great vibe. Delicious ravioli and tuna steak. Try the starters too, a mouthful each.

L’Arcangelo

Incredible refined dining behind Castel Sant´Angelo in Prati. Supplizio and cauliflower soup with sprinkled coffee for starters. Gnocchi all`Amatriciana with sauce made of cured pork cheek to die for. Everything on the desert menu sounds intriguing. And the wine, top notch. Expect to spend good money here…

Colline Emiliane

Mentioned in the 2017 Michelin guide. We got lucky, but do make a reservation. Without exaggeration the best pumpkin ravioli I have ever had. Sublime. A stone`s throw from Piazza Barberini.

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Breakfast and lunch

Giacomelli Patrizia

Favorite breakfast place close to the Spanish Steps! Smooth cappuccino, nice omelette and fabulous pastry counter. Friendly staff and lots of locals!

Cacio e Pepe

Had half a portion of delightful cacio e pepe, spaghetti with pecorino and pepper. Did not see any other tourists at this popular spot in Prati, close to Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini.

Ai Tre Scalini

Overate on caprese, mozzarella and tomato salad at this cosy trattoria in Monti, filled with locals. Chinotto Neri on the side, an Italian bitter coke.

Mercato Centrale Roma

Foodie heaven inside Termini station. Food hall run by artisan chefs with high quality products on every stall. Get you cheese and salami vacuum packed for the flight home and everything else to go.

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Pizzarium

Hole in the wall few blocks behind the Vatican. Well forth the stroll for super tasty pizza al taglio. Crowded.

Gelato Paolessi

Had both good and not good gelato in Rome. This place in Monti was outstanding. Fantastic flavor and freshness of the ricotta and pear, and the pineapple gelato.

Fatamorgana Corso

Great place with organic gelato. New flavors every day. Loved the Aztek chocolate, the pistachio and the ricotta. Close to Piazza del Popolo.

Gelateria la Romana

Go there just to see the interior! It is old school and chic at the same time. The least touristy gelateria. Check out the one in Prati.

Gelateria del Teatro

Another place with pure natural flavors and fresh gelato. Visited the one by Ponte Garibaldi.

Casino del Lago 

The cosiest, tranquil little coffee shop in Villa Borghese. Lots of delicious pies on display.

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Nothing sucks more than a sold out gallery or fully booked restaurant. Next time I will definitely book these in advance:

– Galleria Borghese
– Armando al Pantheon

Best not believe the hype: 

Nonna Betta

In the Jewish quarter. Fried artichoke and red bacalao. Nothing special.

Da Francesco

By Piazza del Fico. Totally average, touristy place.

Testaccio Market

Few interesting food options here. Mostly clothes and fruit.

Hotel Eitch Borromini

The rooftop view is astonishing. The 25 € cocktails below average, even with names like La Grande Bellezza.

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Goodbye Things

I am no idealist, that’s not why I got into minimalism. I don’t necessarily purchase a lot of items, I just hold on to things because you know, everything might become useful someday. I think this mentality is a result of moving houses and countries every so often. Fourteen times in thirteen years to be precise. Before buying a flat I´d never invest in furniture or valuable items because I´d share with my flatmates and I knew it was a temporary home. Moving is a hassle so it’s better to hold on to things than dispose of them to later have to replace them, right?

Culture takes its toll

Returning to the motherland there are certain cultural ideals that are hard to ignore, like owning a home. 80 % of Norwegians own their homes, the state subsidizes homeowners with tax reduction on mortgage rates. The cultural consensus is that it’s a sound investment. Another thing that is common is comparing salaries. Until three years ago the tax statistics where public, anyone could check their neighbours net income and capital, and the papers would print excerpts. Now how do we show off our status and high income when everyone is well off?

Subtle bragging

In Norway we spend an awful lot of time and money on renovating and redecorating our homes. On average kitchens tend to be ten to fifteen years old. It makes perfect sense considering our homes are our investments, we will not let them drop in value. Then we fill them up with expensive items, to portray our good taste and status. And that is where I got lost, all this energy spent on choosing furniture, comparing this item to that. Comparing my life to others. Thinking about the endless possibilities for decorating my small condo. How easy it is to fall into the spending maelstrom. A £ 2000 sofa seems insignificant when purchasing a £ 300 000 flat. This materialistic focus clashed with my inner nomad, I want to be able to pack up and go in a day, rent out my flat and not worry about my stuff.

Break with the norm

Friends and family don`t always get why I have to do things my way. In our wealthy society having the newest gadgets, trendy interior design and traveling to trendy destinations is the norm. What I want to do is to change my mindset and be more conscious of where my funds go and not owning more things than I need. Also letting go of past personas that I no longer identify with in the process. This means donating, borrowing and not accumulating more, but also letting others know that the only gifts acceptable are those consumable. For every load I carry to donation, I feel a bit lighter.

Chi-city, ridin solo

Managed to sneak off to Chicago for a few days in between painting walls and moving apartments, before starting the new job! 


This is a tribute to all the women who are independent, to quote an old favorite by Destiny`s Child. Lots of firsts lately; first apartment, first mortgage, first time painting walls. First time rebooting my router and investing in an index fund. Empowering stuff and all my single friends seem to be great at DIY too. 

Ridin Solo 

First time I’ve traveled solo to a brand new city knowing absolutely no one, to hang out by myself. And I do enjoy my own company. Always seem to meet and talk to random people and find Americans to be very approachable in general. It was tempting to download a certain dating app, but resisted and went old school to socialise. 

Abnormally warm winter  
Mid-Feb Chicago was on fire! 16-18 Celsius and no sign of the dreaded blizzards Windy City is known for. Swopped the boots for sneakers, rented a city bike and strolled around town five days straight. Saw Sue at the Field Museum, largest T-Rex ever found. Walked from Logan Square to Wicker Park. Had artisan coffee and Cuban food. Played around in “Silver Clouds” by Warhol at the MCA. Did drinks at the roof terraces at Cindy and London House. Very walkable city and easy to get around on public transportation.


Foodie time 

Randall, whom I studied in Cairo with ten years ago linked me up with Kirk, who he met traveling in Scandinavia last summer. He showed me a fab Italian dining experience, Eataly. Enormous dining hall with own birreria- brewery, gelateria, osteria, pescheria, grocery shop, five restaurants and proper stone baked pizza. Got some intel on areas and the Chicagoean way of life! 


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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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Carrie Bradshaw moment 

Four weeks tracking and the rare snow leopard finally revealed itself in shape of an apartment within shooting range. To illustrate the insane feeling of winning a bidding war on Black Friday and buying my first apartment, here’s a retrospective: Since leaving home after graduating college twelve years ago I’ve lived in:

  • 3 countries
  • 5 cities
  • 13 flats

with

  • 50 flat mates in total from 12 different nationalities!

and I`ve never lived all by myself.

Turtle wins the race

After a six-hour slow and tormenting bidding war ticking in on SMS while I was A) attending the office Christmas lunch B) on the tube C) in a meeting with the general manager of a major bank D) in for a job interview and E) walking home, the broker finally called. It was the most surreal conversation you can imagine “Congrats, you are now indebted for the rest of your life.” Pop the champagne!

Here is my balcony and view to be.

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When you wish upon a star…

I’ve been dreaming about decorating my own place since collecting paint colour charts as a kid. Envision ripping out the floors and laying down some hardwood dark oak. Painting walls in petroleum or “Oslo” blue. A gas grill for the balcony for all year round halloumi. Growing plants. Putting posters into frames. Keeping a dog.

My new neighbourhood is multicultural Grønland. Vital stats:

Metro – 2 minutes walking
Office –  15 minutes walking
Sørenga seawater pool – 20 minutes walking
Nearest gym in Bjørvika – 10 minutes walking
Central station – 10 minutes walking or one metro stop
Ski slopes – 38 minutes on the metro or less depending on direction
3 Michelin starred restaurant Maaemo – 5 minutes walking

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The Oslo housing market

It looks like a bubble. It talks like a bubble. Is it a bubble? Prices have gone up by 18,5 % in the last year alone. Loaning money is practically free at 2 % inflation-adjusted interest rate. The “bubble” is only partly driven by speculation, the overwhelming majority of the houses are bought for the purpose of living. Parents are bailing out first time buyers. The rental market is dominated by small owners and the Norwegian tax system strongly encourages owning with 25 % tax deduction on mortgage interest rate. 10 000 people move to Oslo each year but new builds are not keeping up. Owning your own home is culturally determined as the highest good in our social democratic society. Bubble or not, the prices are utterly bonkers for sure.

All around Oslo

Been traveling a lot within my own city lately, viewing apartments in this crazier-than-the-US-election housing market. It’s like a new hobby taking up all my time. Discovering the different neighbourhoods. Becoming bad ass at logistics trying to get from east to west in time for the next viewing. Flirting with handsome real estate agents. Carrying around tons of printed prospects. Feeling anxious and sickened by the hysterical bidding wars. Bricks are the new gold standard.


Imagine that

Viewing houses is like daydreaming about the future life I can have in that apartment, in that neighbourhood. I’d eat more vegetables for sure in Grønland with all the cheap immigrant shops around, maybe befriend more Muslims, practice Arabic and spend even more time at the urban seawater pool at Sørenga, my favourite place to worship the sun.

In Grünerløkka I’d be surrounded by hipsters and perhaps feel a little proper? Spend way to much on eating out and having cocktails in bars. Maybe I`d begin to give a fuck about fashion, who knows! St. Hanshaugen is a real diamond, a hidden gem with a luscious green park overlooking the city and the fjord. And in walk-able distance to everything central. It will break my heart to leave it after five years but its not within price range.

Here I am at the hippest restaurant (Pjoltergeist) in Oslo, in my wannabe hipster sweater with pretentious print…


Sometimes I look at places far out, like a good half an hour on the metro. You know those places in the middle of nowhere where there is definitely an IKEA. I’m used to walking to work every day so that’s pretty suburban for me. I’d get a big husky, like one of them direwolves. We would go hiking in the forest, pick berries and make jam, cross country skiing in winter, and it would be the end of my social life as we know it. The struggle is real. Soon I`ll start to offer exclusive guided tours of Oslo including demographics and crime stats.

 

 

The Faroe Islands

For a girl from the Arctic part of Norway, stepping out at Vágar airport was just like coming home, refreshingly cold in March. The raw nature sets you straight into Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones mode. A Song of Ice and Fire playing in the background. Met some fantastic people and got a failed Tinder match as souvenir…

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Tinder tourist & human connections

Did some swiping in Torshavn to see if I could get a local (& handsome) guide to show me around. I was there for a content marketing conference for the travel industry, where I met William from South Africa. We added each other on Snap and I think this is a strength of social media, by observing each others facade building attempts we get a feeling of acquaintance. In fact we only talked briefly, about great whites over dinner. When I saw William again in Norway recently, it felt like we’ve known each other for a long time.

Also met Avinash who makes virtual reality. I was inspired by his talk, we chatted for ten minutes and I got his LinkedIn. We’ve been talking ever since and hung out in Amsterdam earlier this summer. For me traveling is about the connections you make. I`ve been to Barcelona twice without seeing Park Güell, lived four years in England without visiting Buckingham Palace but that is not what matters to me.

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Back to Tinder…

Matched with a gorgeous ginger but he didn’t reply to my pick up line. Epic fail. On the third day I had dinner at rustic lamb specialist Áarstova, at a candle lit boat-turned-table. Conversation was about digital dating, naturally with four young single adults. Had just met these two Belgians and a Swiss, whom I’d been sitting next to the whole first day, when it finally dawned on me. It was ginger! I hadn’t recognised him. I had to bring it up. He seemed slightly embarrassed, but we ended up buying each other rounds and having a laugh about it.

 

 

Top notch eateries

For such a small city Torshavn does have excellent dining options. The award winning KOKS restaurant which focus on fermented food. Fresh seafood and particularly the gigantic horse mussels at Barbaras Fish House, plus meat heaven Áarstova. At Gudrun & Gudrun you get locally made knitwear, there are more sheep than people here. Price level is similar to Denmark and Norway, they understand Norwegian. Also had the pleasure of reminiscing over dried cod snacks, an acquired taste and memories of my childhood, we had it hanging out in the garage to dry.

Top tip: Rent a car to see the most scenic sights.

Fun fact: Atlantic Airways still do bottomless free bar on board

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Where are all the people at?

Scrolling through my Instagram feed I realise China doesn´t look crowded at all, which is obviously not how most travellers experience it. If you are allergic to crowds or just like to get clean shots of impressive ancient structures try this:

Go hike the Great Wall with Beijing Hikers

We did the Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall, which is two hours outside of Beijing. Our guide Michael was very knowledgable, as well as patient. Norwegians often underestimate their hiking abilities while the rest of you overestimate them. This hike was only 5 k, but the wall is steep and with temperatures hitting above 35 celsius the turtle wins the race. I went through three liters of water in three hours, but for photos like this it is all worth the struggle, and you get served the most delicious ten course meal afterwords.

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Hit the sights early in the morning or late in the afternoon  

You can have Tiananmen Square all to yourself 8.30 on a Monday morning. The Palace Museum was closed but the rest of the Forbidden City will be less crowded and very tranquil. A lot of Chinese tourists from rural areas will want to take photos with you, had the same experience in Uganda and Egypt, it is quite funny and made me feel very popular. All the tiny dragons on top of the buildings reminds me of Mulan.

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No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing 

Walk or bike the city walls of Xian in the rain. We had it all to ourselves and the grey adds an ancient touch to your photos. These red lanterns play a very calming Chinese tune all the way. In Norway we have respect for the weather, it`s called mountain intelligence. My hiking plans for the holy mountain of Huashan had to be cancelled due to the heavy rain, so I´ll have to come back.

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Experience rush hour at least once 

The crowds are part of the experience. Get on the metro at rush hour just once, I promise it`s not half as bad as the London tube (I should know, lived there for four years). Go to the Bund in Shanghai on a Sunday around twilight. People watching is fun and all of the lights mesmerizing.

What was your favorite China experience, please leave a comment!

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Sicilian lemons

That Sicilian lemonmarmelade is magic, makes you wonder what Bey used when making her Lemonade? It’s like this whole island is designed for bringing you closer to spirituality. Sanctuaries on every peak, black vulcanic beaches and friendly, good natured islanders. A little Spanish goes a long way here and it`s possible to avoid the crowds.


Alitalia was an hour delayed to and from Rome. Interesting how we excuse delays based on cultural aspects, because I expected them not to be on time I scheduled more than enough time for the corresponding Scandinavian flights. Do hire a car, you want to get around this place. Jenny and I started off in Palermo in the cosy Botique B&B Vintage on Via Bottai 30. Very helpful staff and right in the middle of everything. Got recommended a superb seafood restaurant, Garraffo, across the street. The swordfish was outstanding. Regret the visit to Antica Focacceria San Francesco where the tuna was dry and the arancini cold inside, a foodies worst nightmare. All the wine I was served for the entire trip was amazing.


Palermo is highly walkable, the sights are clustered in the centre. We spent a day strolling around. It is a run down city with a lot of charm and friendly people. Bueno sera and buongiorno are essential phrases. We also drove to Spiaggia di Mondello, a nice sandy beach a short drive away. Great selection of gelato on Touring Cafe Beach. On the way back drive up and look at the sunset from the top of Monte Pellegrino.


Next we head to Tindari, where it’s only us and the pilgrims. We visit the natural reserve Laghetti di Marinello and the islands Salina, Lipari and Vulcano. My bikini still smells of sulphate… do leave a comment, arrivederci!