How to spend 72 Hours in Lviv

How to spend 72 Hours in Lviv

Lviv wasn’t initially on the itinerary but easily one of the best accidental stop over destinations I’m happy to have been stranded in.

The original plan was to head straight to Khmelnitsky for my Language Immersion Programme, however after a 5 hour flight delay (which inevitably resulted in missing my train from Lviv) I decided to ditch the station and look for a hostel instead.

It was dark, my phone battery was dying and I was desperate for a place to stay, so when I spotted availability at Dream Hostel I booked myself in. (I figured if my battery died or I got lost, Rynok square would be an obvious spot that anybody could direct me to)

The morning after I woke to a beautiful sunny day and a bustling hostel, I peered out of the window overlooking the street which leads to Rynok Square and was sold instantly.
Had it been dark and tired upon arrival I hadn’t even noticed how beautiful my surroundings where.
So I got dressed and went to explore.

Of course it was only fair to give Lviv the time it deserved and extended my stay, adding Lviv to my adventures across Ukraine.

Lviv –> Khmelnitsky –> Odessa –> Kiev

I didn’t have much time to plan and see everything I wanted to but what better excuse to return right?

A little about Lviv

Lviv, known as the capital of Western Ukraine and often referred to as the little Paris of the East, is a city steeped in a culturally rich and historical past.

Founded in 1256 by King Danylo Halitsky, he named the city in honour of his son Lev. (Also known as Leo)

Lviv historic centre Rynok Square is a UNESCO protected zone and the heart of the city.

Around the city you will find an eclectic collection of Ukrainian architectural styles (known as the Hutsul Secession) which bases its designs around local folk architecture as well as Renaissance and Baroque builds which can be found scattered throughout the city.

Nowadays the city is and so known for its plethora of coffee, chocolate and it’s welcoming atmosphere.

My Hostel

I’ve noticed that hostels in Ukraine are quite generous in terms of check-in and checkout times (Or at least from the 4 different hostels I’ve stated in so far in Ukraine)

Whilst in Lviv I stayed at Dream hostel, in central historical district (Krakivska Street) which is situated less than one minute walk away from Rynok square.

The hostel boasts orthopaedic mattresses which in itself are what sold it for me. Other perks include: Location, high quality accommodation at affordable prices, Free WI-FI throughout, a spacious kitchen and lounge area and onsite café.

I will leave a link to the hostel here.

So If like me and you’re just passing through for a couple of days, then here’s what I recommend;

 

Rynok square (Market Square)

Rynok Square is the heart of the historical old town, here you will find a collection of conceptual restaurants, coffee shops and of course the Tourist Information Center.

Walking through the Square will transport you back in time, laid out are the beautifully decorated buildings, cobblestone paths and local produce stalls.
In each corner of the square you will find monuments depicting four Greek Mythological figures, Neptune, Amphitrite, Adonis and Diana.

Neptune Monument is also the meeting spot for local guided tours, which include the half day sightseeing tours, private Lviv Jewish history tours and free guided walking tour, all of which are operated in Ukrainian, Spanish and English.

Rynok square plays an important part in being the center for market for trade, hosting festivals and is the hub of social activity.

Town Hall

Here you will also find Lviv town hall, one of two spots where you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the city; all you need is a ticket and the determination to tackle 408 steps on your way up. The views are worth it, I promise.

Entrance to City Hall is free but a ticket to access the stairs/observation deck cost approx 20 Hyrivna.

(Unfortunately my phone started playing up by this point and was unable to snap a photo, so here’s an earlier shot of a Lada instead)

High Castle

Not quite what I expected but well worth the 2km hike from Rynok Square nonetheless.  High Castle is in fact not really a castle but just a few remaining ruins of the historic castle remains.
It is basically a park located on the highest hill in Lviv, just outside the city centre.

The artificial Union of Lublin Mound is located on summit of the hill where the castle used to stand and there is an observation platform with a flying Ukrainian flag on the top of the mound.

The view from the platform is just fantastic and well worth the hike up the hill (approx 30 minutes).

Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet

Located in the heart of the city, Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet is one of the most distinctive and beautiful buildings in the city.
A neo-classical build combining influences of Baroque and Classicism.
Here you will have the opportunity to watch world-class classical performances or Opera music.

From the outside you can admire the stunning exterior of the building as well as enjoy a stroll up and down what seems to be a small square, equipped with seating areas, beautiful fountains and small craft market stalls.

Also, be sure to come visit at night too, the lighting of this building is truly beautiful.

Yard of Lost Toys

Located in one of Lviv’s oldest neighbourhood you will come across an eerily unusual attraction of lost toys which have been left behind.

The story goes that a local resident living in the area found two lost toys and placed them under a small roof located in the courtyard of 1 Mukachivska apartment block, in hopes that they would be found.

Unfortunately the owner of these lost toys never returned and has since become a little hub for other lost toys and items such as bicycles, instruments, furniture and even a swing, giving these forgotten items a home.

Items in which have been carefully placed to resemble some kind of colourful shrine.

New toys are added, some are retrieved but you can’t help but appreciate the quirkiness (and somewhat creepiness) of hundreds of dolls/clowns peering at you.

Restaurants I loved

Kryivka

For a truly quirky experience let me tell you a little about Kryivka, a restaurant with a secret address.
An underground wartime bunker of Kryivika was once the hidden hiding place of the Ukrainian insurgent army during WWII.

This is a must visit restaurant in Lviv. The fun starts with the guard in the entrance, to enter you may need some help you when you knock on the door.
To enter you must say the password “Slava Ukraini” meaning ‘Glory to Ukraine’, the guard will then pour you a shot of Honey Vodka and direct you downstairs to continue the fun, for example where ordering the wrong dish can see you imprisoned as a suspected Russian spy.
Release is only achieved by singing a Ukrainian song.

The interior of the bunker is dimly lit yet extremely cosy, the food is rustic, delicious and extremely affordable.

Honey Vodka and Borscht…. I ate/drank copious amounts.

Masoch Cafe

One of the more unusual places to visit and certainly not for the faint.
Masoch Cafe, dedicated to the famous writer Leopold Sacher-Masoch, who was born, raised and even crafted his masterpieces in Lviv, today you can still enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat – however this isn’t the only reason this place attracts so much intrigue.

What if I told you this was a BDSM bar too?

Who would have thought that masochism and dining can go together?

As soon as you enter you will be greeted by moody candlelight and BDSM-aesthetics which continually runs throughout the cafe, even down to the wall decor and ‘vagina’ carved seats.
The staff plays in important role too by whipping you as you enter and exit the cafe.

If you’re feeling particularly brave they will even blindfold you and tie you up and whip you more.

I wish I could have taken a few photos but upon reaching out for my phone, I was relentlessly whipped by the waitress.

Giggity.

The 5th Dungeon – 5 Pidzemellya

How could I not include this place?
A restaurant entirely underground and made up of stone chambers and dungeons.

The general feel is incredibly atmospheric! Everything is thought out to the smallest detail, medieval style in everything: the interior, candle lighting, a menu of rustic dishes, craft beers and how cosy everything is.

I mean where else are you going to find a slab of meat with a side of chicken hearts served on a slab of stone right?

Even the service itself was like a theatrical performance made up of servers dressed as monks rushing throughout the halls!

Not forgetting the dozens of amazing photo ops to be taken,  including the sword in the stone.

Honestly I wish I’d had more then 48 hours to explore but given the circumstances of having to attend my language immersion programme, I could have easily stayed here and extra week or so.

However I’ll take 48 hours over nothing, any day.

So here it is.

I hope you enjoyed this short but sweet post about Lviv, my post barely scratches the surface on the absolute amazing things to see, do and eat.
My list could go on.
I’ll be sure to visit again soon and hope this inspires your interest in visiting beautiful Ukraine.

But until then, Happy travels.

XO

 

Venice, a photo journal

Venice, a photo journal

I’ll never forget that overwhelming joy I first experienced as I paused on the Ponte Della Costituzione, staring across the canals.

I remember thinking to myself how beautiful this place was, it was exactly how I had imagined after pining over hundreds of photos online.

Watching gondolas effortlessly glide down the narrow canals, rays of blue and green hues from the water reflecting the light from the sky.

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Old crooked buildings, colours faded from the years of being beaten by the sunlight.

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Venice was a bustling city, a beautiful chaos, humming with hundreds of inaudible voices chattering away, the clack clack clack of suitcases rolling across the cobblestone pathways.

Venice has always been a very alluring and romantic place and given the sights, I can see why.

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Venice is a floating city made up of over 100 islands connected by bridges and canals, a geographically unique city situated in the Northern Adriatic sea.

Navigated by gondolas which have caressed the canals for over tens of centuries.

The winding and seemingly endless streets accompanied by piazzas scattered throughout, waiting for wanderers to inevitably get lost. Every corner presenting a picturesque surprise.

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Venice certainly holds both a laid back as well as a romantic element offering a rich history and culture and with over millions of visitors each year I can see why.

So here is a short list of some of my favourite things I saw in Venice.

1. Grand Canal

The largest and most well known feature is the Grand Canal, curving it’s way through the floating city.

Along the edge you can see the beautiful old 13th century architecture hugging the edges of the canal, which stretches over two and a half miles.

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2. Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Tucked away in the center of Venice stands a small Palazzo best known for its spiralling staircase which wraps it’s way all around and up. From the top you will be greeted by magnificent views of the city, including the bell towers of St Marks Basillica.

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3. Rialto Bridge

The arguably the most famous (and oldest) bridge in Venice. Designed by a Venetian designer Antonio da Ponte, Rialto bridge is one of four bridges which arch 24 feet high and over 100 feet long over the Grand Canal.

A crossing between the districts of San Marco and San Polo and a popular landmark for groups and travellers to gather.

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4. Squero di San Trovaso

One of only a handful remaining boatyards which are still in use today. Squero do San Trovaso is where boats and gondolas go for maintenance and repair. These skilled craftsmen are the heart and love behind keeping Venices gondolas servicable throughout the city canals.

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Even though you can’t enter the workshop you can grab a view from Ponte Longo Bridge.

5. Piazza San Marco

The largest square and most famous is Piazza San Marco, the heart of Venice. A truly beautiful scene. If you’re like me and enjoy a spot of people watching with a gelato in one hand and a coffee in the other (no shame) then look no further.

Admire the stunning marble exterior of the surrounding architecture.

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Bare in mind that what ever time of year you visit, the square will be packed with tourists. If your not one for crowds (which is hard to avoid in Venice) I recommend visiting late at night or super early before sunrise.

6. High Tide

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Known as Acqua Alta to the Venetians, the high tide commonly seen in St Mark’s Square where the entire floor surface if flooded. This is caused by conflicting winds from the Adriatic sea causing minor waves into the Venetian lagoon.

Honestly I’ve witnessed this myself and have seen nothing else like it.

7. St Mark’s Basillica

Easily the most popular stop on any Venice itinerary and certainly a must see. St Mark’s Basillica is the most famous church in Venice and for you architectural fans, a perfect example of Gothic and Byzantine works.

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St Mark’s Basillica sits at the far eastern end of Piazza San Marco which is connected to the Doge’s Palace.

(Unfortunately during my visit there was reconstruction work going on so I was unable to snap a decent shot of the Basillica) Bummer!

Ps; Entry is free but mind the long queues.

8. Libereria Acqua Alta

One of the oldest and most unique bookshops in Venice, each room piled high with dusty classics along with stacks of ancient travel guides and atlases.

One room in particular which houses it’s very own book filled gondola proudly displayed to admire. A book lovers dream but also eye-catching to the casual browser.

9. Burano
One for the photography lovers (to be honest all of Venice is) be sure to take time to visit the quaint island of Burano situated North East of Venice and can be accessed by boat or ferry.

Burano is considered to be one of the moat colourful towns in the world with its streets upon streets of popping colours. Burano’s traditional industry is fishing and used to be its biggest business.

Fun fact; the residents of Burano must seek government approval before painting their homes.

10. Ponte dell’ Accademia
During my visit I could literally not move due to the swarms of tourists squirming their way through for a photo view (Rialto bridge was even worse) however take a closer look you will find rows up on rows of lovelocks affixed to the railings of Ponte dell’ Accademia.

The Venetian government have set out plans to ban the use of love locks due to their heavy weight load causing the bridge to weaken and protect this already sinking city

In all fairness I do agree that love locks should be banned.

11. Caletta Varisco
Did you know that the narrowest street in Venice is called Caletta Varisco and only has a width of 53cm, infact one of many narrow streets of Venice.

Just be careful not to get wedged if passing through with a bulky backpack.

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12. Ca’dario Palazzo
Also known as the curses palace, Palazzo Dario is a Renaissance building overlooking the grand canal is believed to be cursed, including a series of unexplainable deaths which occurred, here I’ll include a link on this intriguing history click here.

13. Rialto Market
No trip to Venice is complete without checking out Rialto market. Visiting early on in the morning will guarantee you some of the freshest fish and local produce on offer. Located right next to Rialto bridge you’ll have no excuse to miss it.

14. Bridge of Sighs

Ever wondered where the name came from? It is told that the bridge of Sighs was once held as a passage where prisoners would pass and sigh over their last views of the city, whilst being escorted to their cells.

Nowadays the Bridge of Sighs is now associated with romance, the story goes that if any lovers kiss beneath the bridge at sunset, the the bells of St Marks will chime, forever interlocking their eternal love.

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15. Explore at sunrise/sunset

Venice is a crowded city no matter what time of year you visit but I always recommend a visit during the early hours of sunrise.

My list of favourite places and activities could literally go on all day however I condensed it down to just 14 for now.

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Honestly I could upload hundreds of photos of Venice… it’s just unbelievably stunning.

However if you would like to keep up on Instagram you can find me here.

However if there is anything you feel I’ve missed or should definitely check out then leave a comment below.

Happy travels, buona notte!

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How to spend 3 days in Oslo, Norway

When I think of Norway I think of strength and beauty.

The city of Oslo is a true example of this.

From old to new, not just in architecture but from a background steeped in history and tradition which is still celebrated today.

Norway’s relationship and appreciation for the simple things such as nature and laid back lifestyle is equally balanced with its modernistic buzz of the the city.

From a young age, the mysticism of Norway has always drawn me in, from its uniquely beautiful landscape to Nordic folklore and music scene.

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Despite being a metropolitan city, Norway’s cultural past is still very prevalent, even without having to look very far.

Oslo’s Viking past can still be admired and is sure to trigger a little bit of your inner Pagan roots.

I’m sure will you will fall in love with Oslo’s charm just as much as I did.

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Even though I didn’t get to see everything on the itinerary, the intent was not to be just a ‘guide’ but to share with you what I enjoyed and learned.

Fistly, get yourself an Oslo Pass

I purchased mine on the second day. (Everything on day one was free)

The Oslo Pass includes free transportation operated by any NSB and Ruter within zones 1 and 2 of the city (Train, metro, tram, boat and bus) including the ferry to Bygdøy.

The Pass also includes free entry to over 30 attractions, museums and even discounts on restaurants. Saving you a small fortune against what you would pay separately. (and hassle)

Since there’s are already a bunch of guides about the Oslo Pass, I will leave a link to the official website here.

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If you’re planning a trip for a few days then I highly recommended you get yourself a pass, I purchased the 48 hour passes.

*Just bare in mind that the Oslo Pass does not include airport transfers. I have included some information about this at the end.

Overall, Easy, convenient and no fuss.

Alrighty then lets begin.

Here are some of my highlights in Oslo.

3 days in Oslo

Day One

On the morning of the first day I decided to start early and focused my attention to a few of the main architectural attractions. First stop being Akershus Fortress and surrounding grounds.

Akershus Fortress

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Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle built around 1290 by King Haakon V and served as the residence and protection for the Norwegian Royal family. Over time the fortress has also been used as a military base and prison.

Nowadays Akershus Castle is still used for military space but also open to the public. Inside you can visit the Norwegian Armed Forces museum.

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The beautiful grounds which surround Akershsus Fortress are certainly worth the stroll. Offering stunning views across the Fjord and the harbour.

Along with many other families in the area, this was the perfect spot to enjoy a light breakfast which I prepared earlier.

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It was amazing to just sit and take it all in, watching the boats glide past whilst enjoying the scenery surrounding. I dropped on lucky with such a bright day, it didn’t feel like late September.

Mathallen

For late lunch I visited Mathallen. You can’t come to Oslo and not check out the atmosphere of this place.

Mathallen is a popular food hall famous for its wide selection of unique international cuisine and traditional Norwegian dishes.
Mathallen is also a market. Selling anything from alcohol to chocolate.

Although a tad expesnive the quality is top notch! I promise you.

Oslo Theatre

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Last up for the day one was Oslo Theatre, connecting land and sea. An important cultural landmark.

Designed to reflect the landscape and modern city. Oslo Opera house certainly makes a statement with it’s grand reflective glass and marble exterior.

One thing I found out is that the Opera House is one of few buildings where you can walk up the exterior and admire the views from the rooftop.

It’s unique ramp-like style allows for large numbers of people to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset by the Fjord.

However, during late fall and winter just be sure to bring a warm jacket and umbrella, the winds do kick up from time to time.

3 days itinerary in Oslo Norway

Day Two

Today was all about exploring the museums over at Bygdøy (also known as the Museum Peninsular)

It soon became very clear just how much there was to see, so I recommend you dedicate a whole day exploring the museums.

Taking the ferry over to Bygdøy

To get there could only mean one thing, a Ferry across the Oslo Fjord.

The ferry ride to Bygdøy takes around 10-15 minutes and greets you with stunning views along the way.

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Once arriving at Bygdøy, you will be signposted towards the museums. Just a quick five minute walk through the residential streets.

Where to go.

The Norwegian Folk Museum

This Norwegain Folk Museum is a must for any of you history lovers out there. Here you will learn all about the history and lifestyle of our ancient Nordic ancestors.

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Crammed with original pieces and excavations, the museums holds a variety of exhibits including the day to day life of a Viking age household, items which include clothing to cooking tools and hand crafted bronze jewellery.

Other topics include the myths and legends of Scandinavian folklore, Sami Culture and a timeline of how Norwegain society has developed over the ages.

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Did you know that the Norwegain Folk Museum is the worlds first outdoor Museum?

Outside is a wide area dedicated to showcasing a collection of (reconstructed) builds from the middle ages right through to the 20th century.

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The area is split into different eras and regions in time and set out like a walkable timeline made up of a of mini ‘villages’.

Not only do you get to experience a beautiful walking tour of Norway’s past but the natural beauty of the greenery which surrounds the museum is simply stunning. See?

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Stave Church

The most popular attraction (and my personal favourite) is the Stave church. Originally from Gol (Hallingdal region, Buskerud county) the Stave church was reconstructed and moved to Bygdøy and is now serves as a museum and an important piece of Norway’s preserved history.

Back in the early 90’s members of the Norwegian black metal scene began a series of arson attacks against Christian churches. Within a period of four years there had been almost 50 church burnings.

Insane right?

Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t ignore the beautiful craftsmanship which goes into these churches.

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Vikingship Museum

For me this was the ultimate highlight of my trip to Oslo, the Viking ship Museum. A bucket list destination I’d been looking forward to visiting for years.

To come face to face and experience some of Norway’s most beautifully preserved Viking ships was a tremendous moment.

I felt I was home, as if I’d come back full circle and returned to my Nordic homeland.

Visiting the ships was my personal way of honouring my Scandinavian ancestors.

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If you’re only here for a day or two, please visit the museums of Bygdøy.

It truly is a magnificent experience.

Day Three

Sadly this was my last day, so I decided to keep it easy and explore more of the city centre. By this point my feet were aching after spending hours at the museums yesterday.

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Karl Johansgate

Karl Johansgate is serves as the main street stretches through the city centre and all the way up to the Royal Palace.

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A bustling shopping area filled with lots of restaurants and designer stores.

I particularly enjoyed the walk up towards the Royal Palace, enjoying small stops along the way to check out the National Gallery, Parliament buildings and greenery around us.

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Another gorgeous day.

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Royal Palace

Built by Karl Johan, a 19th century Swedish King who ruled Norway after Sweden took Norway from Denmark and the home to the Norwegian Royal family during winter.

One thing I noticed on my way to the Palace was how walkable the grounds were.

For a palace which houses the Royal Family you would expect to see large gates and high security.

But here there were no railings or barriers to be seen, just a solitary guard manning the front entrance to the building, that was it.

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In comparison to other palaces (for example Buckingham Palace, in London) it is simple in design. Not the usual pompously designed building with fancy embellished and statues.

It was a peaceful location but would pick up momentarily for the changing of the guard.

Lorrys traditional restaurant.

I had previously looked it up specifically as it was one of the few traditional eateries where you can try the national dish, fårikål.

You can read more about the Scandinavian dishes I tried here.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Frogner Park (also known as Vigeland) is a park and regular spot for both tourists and families to gather.

A must place to enjoy the art within this natural setting.

Throughout the park you will see beautifully unique art installations.

Created by Gustav Vigeland a Norwegain artist, was commissioned by the City of Olso to create life like human statues (mainly made from granite and bronze) which depict Norwegians in everyday life.

Well… maybe not this one below in particular.

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Located at the top of the hill is the Monolith (Monolit) the grand heart and center of Vigelands pieces. Surrounded by 36 smaller statues which is said to represent the circle of life and unity.

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Visiting Vigeland was the ideal way to relax and reflect upon my busy few days.

The park is a peaceful escape from city life.

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Lastly, something quirky

Noseblod Records

The last location I wanted to include is a famous record store called Noseblod Records, originally known as Helvete.

It was the record shop owned by Mayhem guitar player/songwriter Øystein Aarseth better known as Euronymous and the central hub of activity for the original Norwegian Black Metal scene.

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A regular meeting place for Varg Vikernes (ThuleanPerspective on YouTube) of Burzum, the band Emperor, and Darkthrone and other bands of the Norwegian Black Metal community.

Only carrying music of the most extreme bands of the time, this shop and it’s infamous basement was the place where the church burnings of the 90s were conspired.

Here you will find an abundance of extremely rare tapes, vinyls, CDs and shirts from all across the extreme music spectrum, and the infamous basement where the original Black Metal community gathered.

I would just like to add that even though I am a fan of Black Metal music, I do not condone any acts of arson or disrespect to anyone and their religious beliefs.

I simply found the history of Norway’s extreme music scene interesting to learn about.

So folks…. I really hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Oslo for me was a truly fascinating experience and highly recommend anybody passing through Europe to check it out.

Below I will include some useful tips on getting to and from the city.

Once again thankyou for sticking around and I hope to connect with you soon.

Happy travels xo

Getting to the city from the airport

Oslo Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Serves as Oslo’s main international Airport and has frequent transport systems which makes it easy to travel between the Airport and City.

*Please note that the Oslo Pass does not cover transportation to and from the Airport.

Purely for efficiency and price, my recommendations are:

Flytoget Shuttle Trains Offer direct routes every 10 – 20 minutes between Lufthavn (Gardermoen) and Oslo city centre. This is the fastest and most efficient way to travel and only takes 19 minutes. Tickets cost NOK 160 each way and run between 05.30am and 00.50am.

NSB Trains Provide a frequent service between Oslo S (Main Station) and Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Airport and takes approximately 25 minutes each way. A one way ticket costs NOK 101. Hours of operation run between 05.54am and 11.54pm

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Why every traveller should add York to their UK itinerary

When compiling my list of destinations to write about on my blog it made me realise that I’d missed out a crucial place in mind, my home city of York.

Lovingly referred to as the capital of the North for many local folks, York is the perfect stop for anybody visiting the UK and the ideal halfway stop between London and Edinburgh.

York is a walled city drowned in history, known for its beautiful architecture, indie vibe and reigns as one of the greenest cities in Britain. A preserved city which boasts both pride and quirky eclectisism which is loved amongst both local residents and visitors alike.

Yorks richly unique heritage can still be spotted aroud the city today and being a relatively small and walkable, it’s easy to fit in most of the sights and activities this city has to offer.

So here is my local guide on things to see and do in York.

1. Walk the walls

Undoubtedly the first thing you will see when arriving in York are the walls which hug the city. Standing at almost 30 feet tall and 3.4km long, York has the longest stretch of walls still standing than any other city in Britain. Offering spectacular views across the city, these walls have served as one of the main attractions drawing millions of tourists to the city each year.

You can read more about the History of Yorks walls here.

Micklegate bar – Be amazed by the stunning royal gateway which welcomes you to the city.

Monk Bar – The tallest of the four bars in York, standing proudly at over 62 feet tall.

2. Enjoy a picnic at St Mary’s Abbey and York Museum Gardens

Built in 1088 St Mary’s Abbey once stood as one of the most powerful Benedectine Monasteries in England, all that’s left of this grand building today are the impressive ruins as pictured above.

Ruins are which surrounded by 10 acres of beautiful land, York Museum Gardens. The York Museum Garden is a botanic garden situated next to the river Ouse and a popular place for picnics, runners and sun bathers.

It’s the perfect place to relax (and practice your photography skills) whilst admiring the nature and activities around you. Just be mindful of the squirrels.

3. Admire stunning architecture

York minster

It is without a doubt that York is best known for it famous York Minster. Standing at 236 feet tall and dominaming the skyline throughout the city. York Minster is one of the biggest of it’s kind and reigns as the second most largest Cathedral in Europe.

This architectural wonder took over 250 years to complete and even to this day reconstructive work is still carried out to maintain and preserve this building. Given the intricacy of the artwork there really is no suprise there.

Over 2 million visitors come to York Minster each year and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.

Here’s are a couple of examples of other stunning buildings across the city:

Adventurers Merchant Hall

A fine example of one of the largest medieval halls in Britain still standing today and one of the most important buildings throughout York’s history.

Jones Bootmakers

An example of a classic timber framed Tudor House. One of many you will find scattered throughout the city.

4. Visit the shortest street with the longest name

Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate

Cute and quirky, Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate, located at the lower end of the Shambles, is one of the shortest streets with the longest name in York. Measuring only 20 metres in length. Whip-ma-whop-ma once known as Whitnourwhatnourgate from the Middle Ages, was translated to ‘ Neither one thing nor another’ or at least according to the plaque located next to the street sign.

Infact if you look closely you will find many unusual names scattered around York.

5. Enjoy panoramic views from Cliffords Tower

Inside the walls of Cliffords Tower holds a dark notourious past, this iconic structure (including its mound) reaches an impressive 50 feet tall and stands proudly above the rooftops nearby.

Cliffords Tower, also known as York Castle is one of the largest and most well kept pieces of architecture still standing. Originally a timber structure built by William the Conquerer during the 11th Century. If you’re interested to know more I will include an historical snippet here.

It’s unknown where the name ‘Cliffords Tower’ came from but it was originally known as ‘The King’s Tower’ throughout its history.

Nowadays Cliffords Tower offers amazing panoramic views from the very top of the tower over. Views which rival those from York Minster and the walls. Cliffords Tower is also a popular landmark for groups and friends to gather and meet, a useful tip if you ever get lost.

6. Check out the local market

An outdoor market situated in the heart of the city is brimmed with local vendors selling anything and everything from clothing to crafts. You will find artists hand crafting jewellery and leather goods.

York is pretty big when it comes to supporting local independent stalls so do take a look and grab yourself some locally grown organic produce.

Here you will also find food trucks selling a range of world foods including Thai and Mexican cuisine, definitely worth checking out.

7. Quench your thirst at one of many York pubs

York has a vibrant nightlife scene and an local you meet will tell that there are over 365 pubs within the city walls alone. Whether this is true or just an urban myth created by students, that’s a pub per day for a whole year!

Here are just a few of my favourite spots to get you started:

Ye Olde Starre Inne – Enjoy a locally brewed beer at one of Yorks allegedly* oldest pubs in the city, dating back to the mid 17th century.

The Blue Bell – Cosy up by a fire in the smallest pub in York and admire the untouched Edwardian décor.

The Golden Fleece – Get spooked in one of Yorks most famously haunted pubs. Keep an eye out for psychic nights.

The Fox and Roman – Dance along to live music performances and sing along at open mic night. A classic hangout for many students.

Evil Eye Lounge – Relax in bed on one of many floors at Yorks coolest cocktail bars and pay attention to the skilled barmen flipping drinks.

Betty’s Tearooms – Quintessential British tea room serving an array of teas and cakes in an idyllic fancy setting. The perfect place to take a break from hours of exploring.

8. Take a walk down the historic streets

Stonegate – Easily one of the most picturesque streets in the entire city (along with the Shambles) and home to an array of attractive medieval and Tudor builds. Stonegate now houses a fun array of unique boutique shops and plays part to one of the busiest streets (formerly a Roman road) in the city.

The Shambles – If you truly want to step back in time then definitely head to the Shambles. One of the best preserved medieval streets in the world and the inspiration for ‘Diagon Alley’ in the Harry Potter movies. This narrow street is by far one of the most photographed spots in the city and just like Stonegate, houses more quirky shops and small businesses. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to hit up the Shambles and check out include ‘The Shop that must not be named’ and ‘World of Wizardry’.

9. Enjoy the street music and live street acts in Kings square

York has a vibrant music scene to which local buskers and street performers can be spotted throughout the city. From classical to folk music. Often found outside York Minster, Stonegate and nearby the Viking center. Drop by and show your support.

10. Get spooked on a ghost tour

York is believed to be one of the most haunted cities in England, so why not join a nightly ghost walk or jump onboard the ghost bus tour and explore Yorks spooky past, some of which the most haunted places in York incudes, York Museum, The Golden Fleece pub, The Treasurers House and 35 Stonegate.

Here I’ll include a few sites to get you started;

Original Ghost Walk of York

The Ghost Bus Tours York

The Bloody Tour of York

Hop on Hop Off – York City Sightseeing

11. Visit some of many museums in the city with York Pass

From Vikings to Art, military to Chocolate, there is something to suit everybody’s taste.

York Pass – Yorks official sightseeing card offers offering free entry to over 40 York attractions as well as discount vouchers on restaurants and ghost walks.

Here are some museums which may interest you;

Jorvik Viking Centre

The York Dungeon

Yorks Chocolate Story

Henry VII Experience

To name a few…

12. One for the artists

York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery is a public gallery housing a wide collecation of paintings, watercolours and ceramics dating as far back as 600 years. From 14th Century to Contemporary prints. York Art Gallery holds the works over 1000 paintings and over 5000 studio ceramics which include the works of William Etty, Albert Moore and Bernard Leach to name a few. I will leave a link here if you wish to learn more about the gallery and it’s latest exhibitions.

13. Indie York – Shopping

If unique boutiques in a beautiful setting is your thing then you will be spoiled for choice in York. York prides itself on its uprise of independent and locally run shops throughout the city.

From antiques, to clothes, bookshops and cafe’s, these exclusive shops offer charm and joy to any shopper looking for a unique experience.

Be sure to check out Indie York which provides a detailed list of Yorks independent shops.

14. Attend a festival. They’re on all year round

York is also known as the city of festivals so no matter what time of year you visit there will always be an arrange of fun events and festivals taking place. Below I will include links to some of my personal favourites for each month.

(However there are way more)

January – York Residents Festival

▪ February – The Jorvik Viking Festival

▪ March – York Literature Festival

▪ April – Prosecco and Gin Festival

▪ May – York Farmers market (Local and organic produce)

▪ June – York Festival of Ideas

▪ July – York Proms (Outdoor live music performances)

▪ August – York Walls Festival

▪ September – The York Food and Drink festival

▪ October – The Great York Ghost Search

▪ November – York Christmas lights switch-on

▪ December – St Nicholas Christmas Fair

15. Check out some of my personal recommended food and drink spots

▪ Feast on pancakes at a family run dutch Pancake cafe at Double Dutch Pancake House.

▪ Enjoy a coffee whilst rummaging through classic records at FortyFive Vinyl cafe.

▪ Enjoy some of the best breakfasts and coffee at vibrant French house, the Partisan.

▪ Treat yourself to deliciously handcrafted cakes and treats at Patisserie Valerie.

I really hope you enjoyed this post and that you have been inspired to check out the amazing things that York has to offer. Often overlooked by larger cities such as London and Edinburgh.

York’s charm will be sure to leave a long lasting impression and I hope you enjoy visiting this quaint city as much as I enjoy living here.

Feel free to pitch in anything you think I may have missed (or got anything wrong) and I look forward to connecting with you.

Happy travels. xo