Stayed 2 nights in Copenhagen. It was early November, there were pretty autumn trees lining the street but the sky was always gloomy and it rained almost the whole day.
The Danes were all very tall and they had long strides and walk very fast. There are bicycles everywhere. They commute by bicycle every day regardless the weather.
Amalienborg Palace, the closest we got to the Royals in Denmark.
The Little Mermaid from the lovely fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen was one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions. The sculpture turned 100 in the year 2013. Perched on a rock in the water at the Langelinje Pier, she stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince. Unfortunately, akin to the sad and poignant fairytale, the sculpture was victim to vandalism. Twice she lost her head, once her arm was sawed off and paint poured on her several times.
One of the best lunch spots in Copenhagen got to be Torvehallerne. There are over 60 stands selling everything from fresh fish, meat, vegetables and fruits to gourmet chocolates, coffee, species and cheese. There are also food stalls to grab a quick bite and takeaways.
Nyhavn with the beautiful and colourful townhouses and old ships lined along the canal. Nyhavn was originally a commercial port where ships from around the world would dock. Today, they are dominated with classy restaurants entertaining people with jazz music and food. It was a pity I did not get the chance to enjoy much of it due to the heavy rain and the short daylight in late autumn.
We entered the glittering shop – Greg Jensen at Str∅get and were being presented with glasses of champagne. “What’s the occasion?” “Oh, we are celebrating Friday!” Wow, isn’t this great? TGIF!!! 😀
We’ve all heard about it. It is not cheap to eat out in Iceland. So how do you manage your budget there and yet still be able to try out their specialties?
The 8 of us do have the Asian appetite and when we eat out we ordered the portion for just 4 people and share the food. Thanks to Icelanders, they do understand this Asian appetite and they encourage sharing too!
On other days, we will cook, so do look out for Air B&B for accommodation with kitchen facilities.
The supermarket was our favourite place in Iceland. Be it Bonus, Netto or Kronan, we been them all. Many people said that Bonus is the cheapest, but sometimes Bonus may be out of the way or certain items were only found in certain supermarket. To us, the prices did not vary very much, so well, just go to the nearest supermarket you can find. For fresh meat and seafood, find the Fisk Company. For booze, head to their wine shop — Vinbudin.
Our many groceries shopping which usually comes out to be about SGD100 per trip:
We were blessed to have chef Kenneth in the house! See what he had whipped out for us!
Stir-fry spinach with mushrooms
Nacho chips with guacamole dip
Bacon wrapped chicken
Pan fry salmon
Baked chicken wings
See the variety of home-cooked food we had and there were many more! Other than getting our groceries from the supermarket, we also brought from home some of the cheat packs like instant noodles, porridge, etc. We had pork meat porridge on 1 cold day and it was so tummy-warming. Yumz!
Our prized items from our various groceries shopping had got to be the La Choy soy sauce and it claims to be better than Kikkoman! With this, we were able to have our steam fish, stir-fried vegetables and even fried rice, taste that is nearer to home!
Some of the memorable food we had eating out in Iceland:
Fish & Chips
The best Fish & Chips in Iceland got to be Sveitagrill Miu – Mia’s Country Grill. A food truck located at Skogafoss. For Kr 2,000 (approx SGD 30) You get quite a big piece of fish with potato wedges and 1 condiment. The fish was fresh, the batter was light. There are condiments such as the Icelandic tartar sauce (a must try!) and some tasty Icelandic salts. There are picnic tables set up around the truck but unfortunately, it was raining quite heavily that day and we have to settle the meal in our car.
The other place we had fish & chips was at Icelandic Fish & Chips in Reykjavik. It had quite a good rating on Trip Advisor. Having had the yummiest fish & chips at Skogafoss, the fish & chips here was meh…
Lobster soup (Langoustines)
Voted as having the best lobster soup in Iceland on Trip Advisor. Saegreifinn – The Sea Baron is located at the harbour in Reykjavik. The restaurant is small and cramp. Order at the counter and pay. We ordered lobster soup for each of us, some skewers to share. Saw whale meat and we decided to order 1 to try.
The lobster soup was not creamy and tasty enough. There were little lobster meat in it too. So to me it was meh~ especially after we had a better one at Hofn. The whale meat had a not-so-good taste, I guess it was more of an acquired taste? The meat was also quite tough to chew.
I much preferred the lobster soup at Pakkhus Restaurant located at the harbour in Hofn. So creamy and tasty!
Famous for its lobsters, naturally we ordered all lobsters dishes… The lobsters were fresh and cooked to perfection.
The Settlement Center Restaurant in Borgarnes
The Settlement Center located in Borgarnes consists of a restaurant and a museum. The museum holds two exhibitions – The Settlement of Iceland and Iceland’s most famous viking and first poet Egill Skallagrimsson. We were here in the evening after a long drive from Akureyri and the museum was already closed for the day. Luckily the restaurant was opened and we had our most delicious meal out here!
Freshly made bread and the butter with lava sea salt was heavenly
What? Hotdogs in Iceland?? Are you crazy? Well, no.. some articles even referred hotdogs as Iceland’s de facto national fast food! You see this hotdog stand in Reykjavik — Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (which translates to “best hot dogs in town”) attracted a long long queue even though it was raining and cold..
What makes Iceland’s hotdog so popular? The hotdogs are made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with pork and beef and they are organic — free range, grass fed, hormone free.
Our 1st hotdog (and the best) was in a random petrol station at a little town — Seydisfjörður in the East Fjords. It was served on a warm, steamed bun topped with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. The hotdog was very tasty and I love the crispy fried onions which really add to the wow factor of the hotdog!
Before I end this blog, another traditional Icelandic dish to try is the Icelandic Plokkfiskur. It is usually called Icelandic fish stew in the English menu. I was expecting some cream-based soup with fish meat in it, but no… it looks more like mashed potatoes. It is boiled white fish that is mashed and mixed with potatoes and sauce of onion, butter, flour and milk. It is also served with pieces of dark rye bread.
After a day of glacier hiking at Skatafell with the hail, the rain, the snow… we finally check-in to our hotel — Fossfotel. At the reception, we saw a log sheet for us to state our interest if we want to be notified if there were any aurora activities. Of course! So we wrote down all our room number on it.
We all headed to our room for our shower and agreed to gather later at the lobby area for a drink. I am the last to bath in our room of 3. As I was wiping down the water on my body and getting to dress in my pajamas, I heard Yin shouting to me to get out fast. Northern lights!! Arrgh… why at this time??? Wearing my clothes in a rush, wear the socks, put on my beanie and jacket, we rush out to the dark. Where?? We were all asking. “Look up to the sky!” We saw the faint green colour slowly light up the dark sky.. Wow…
Our 1st northern light sighting at Fossfotel
After few rounds of hoo.. ahh… We went back to the hotel and started our nightly routine of drinks and snacks. Not too long later, we saw the reception guy running to each room and shouted “Northern lights! Northern lights!” What? Again? We scrambled back to our rooms to get our jacket and camera, leaving behind our drinks and snacks at the lobby.
This time, the northern lights were way better than the 1st round. I saw purple, pink, yellow, white and green! Oh no! and it was dancing!!
2nd sighting of the night. (Using handphone)
@Icelandair Hotel Herad, Egilsstaðir
On our road trip day 4, we reached the eastern part of Iceland. It was a long drive from Skaftafell, and it was so cold and windy that we just wanted to hide in the hotel room. On this night, we were treated to an amazing light show right at the comfort of our hotel room.
(Video credit: Kenneth Boey)
@Dimmuborgir Guesthouse, Lake Myvatn
This must be the best place to see northern lights! The lodges were situated by the lake. When the sun set for the day, it was total darkness. After our sumptuous home-cooked dinner, we noticed the faint green glowing outside. It’s time to go out for some light show! Gosh… when we stepped out of the lodge, the wind blew ruthlessly at us. Cold~~~
When we walked toward the lake, it got worst. No, we had to endure it, the lights were so amazing. Oh, we need to take picture of it… and of course, take a picture with it!
This must be a night of high activities for the northern lights. Throughout the night we saw the green light lit in the sky. In the middle of the night when I got up for the toilet, I saw it through the windows too. If only if it was not so cold, I would just laze on a lounge chair outside and feast my eyes the whole night 🙂
Northern lights at the lake (Photo credit: Kenneth Boey)
In northern Iceland, Akureyri their 2nd largest city. Expecting snow, extreme cold and more light show at night! Haa, we just cannot get enough of it!
After dinner, I peeked out of the window trying to see if there’s any greenish happening. the bright-lited street lights were blinding me. I saw.. I saw this faint green light out there. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? I went downstairs and open the door to see.. oh no!! It’s there, really! The girls were all dressed up and all ready to go out to see. Sensing our excitement, Kenneth decided to take the car and we drove out to the other side of the mountain to catch yet another amazing light show.
Giverny is a small village some 80 km west of Paris in Normandy. The village is best known for the house and garden which Impressionist painter Claude Monet had stayed for 43 years. Giverny was the first stop of our road trip in France and we made a mistake of allocating too little time for this amazing place.
Entrance fee to the garden and house is at €9.50 €10.20 (*updated).
The portrait of Mr Oscar-Claude Monet (14 Nov 1840 – 5 Dec 1926) the founder of French Impressionist painting greeted you as you enter into the compound.
The garden of tranquility and zen. The green Japanese bridge was the subject in many of his paintings.
The lovely flowers in the garden of Monet’s house. According to the website, the flowers are at its best during the late summer.
He lived in this pink crushed brick facade from 1883 until his death in 1926.
My favourite place in the house was the kitchen! I love the blue tiles, brass pots and pans!
The dining area with the yellow furnitures looks inviting for a yummy dinner at home.
Another favourite area got to be the study area and the tea area. Imagining myself seated at the desk area writing my blog or having a cup of tea with cakes looking out to the lovely flowers in the garden… such peace…
Go beyong Paris and this place serves as a good day trip or stay longer to enjoy this little village.
Within 2 months, I’ve cover about 27 cities and towns in 12 countries. Taking the plane will save you the time, but is very expensive. The bus is the cheapest but very uncomfortable especially for long hours. Rail travel took the best of both and bring you to almost everywhere in Europe.
Europe has an extensive rail network coverage. The rail service alone covers almost all possible destinations. As such, getting the Eu rail pass is considered to be of excellent value and convenience.
Most countries in Europe participate in the Eu rail offer. In these countries in which the pass is valid, allow pass holders to unlimited first or second-class travel on the national railways and of some private railways, bus lines and shipping lines. the pass also offer generous discounts on Eurostar tickets through the channel Tunnel (Gateway between UK and Europe).
However, the Eurail pass does not guarantee you a seat. Reservation is compulsory in certain trains and is recommended when it is the peak travel periods or very long journey, if not you risk standing for the rest of the ride. The cost of a reservation made at a European railway station may vary widely depending on the country (different from the Japan Rail pass that I am so accustomed to). Thus, if you are travelling on a budget, do consider this extra cost.
Rail travel offers you to awesome scenery. Sitting comfortably and listening to your portable music, your eyes are given a feast of shimmering lakes, plunging gorges, snow-capped mountains and coastal splendors.
Interesting stories do happen on the train too.
WWII in Rome
In the early morning, we went to Rome train station, intending to take a train to Naples. The train stated on the timetable which will get us there in about 2hrs time was no where to be found. When we finally found a train that goes there, it was an overnight train from Munich and it was already packed with travellers. Many are standing along the corridors. Heard that this train was late. We were lucky when a German couple offered to share their cabin with us. However, this train ride took us more than 3hrs to reach. Well, what we did not foresee was that this delay was not the last for the day.
It was about 9pm when the train from Pompeii finally pulled into Naples train station. We saw the the train bounded for Roma Termini was still there and so we use all our might and ran towards it. We were lucky to be able to board this train which apparently was late. The cabin we hopped on was deserted.
Just as we were relaxing ourselves after a tired day trip to Pompeii, the train conductor came in to check our rail pass. Using his not very good English he asked whether our final destination was Rome. We answered yes and he started trying to tell us something using a language we don’t understand. He gave up and told us to wait. Later he came back with an Italian guy who knew some English to explain the situation to us. Apparently, along the route to Rome which this train was using, a WWII bomb was discovered and the route was closed! So, this train will only stop at a particular train station and we will have to alight, take a bus to another station and change to another train before we can reach our destination. What a day, what was suppose to be a 3 hours ride back took us 5 hours to reach Rome.