Sunday, 10 December 2017 / Published in Travel Journal

There are two things that separate Norway from most other countries: First, it is extremely expensive and second, you need a car to explore the nature. Now the question is: how can you handle that?

Norwegian landscapes are simply incredible. Due to its geographical location and natural formations, Norway is a dream destination for adventure and nature lovers; and Stavanger is one of the best spots to get a glimpse of this beauty. With affordable flight connections from all over Europe with budget airlines like Norwegian, flying to Stavanger shouldn´t be a huge expense with some basic planning.

Pulpit Rock view

The Stavanger region offers some of the most iconic landscapes of Norway and the city of Stavanger is a good place to start this adventure. Located in the south west part of the country, Stavanger is not as cold as other regions in Norway and is a great spot for maritime adventures like sailing, swimming, diving or kayaking, but also offers wonderful trekking paths, climbing and hiking routes and amazing views of its two main fjords: Lysenfyord and the small Frafjord

It´s two most known landmarks, pulpit rock and Kjerag, are located in the same fyord, and while many tour companies offer day trips between Stavanger city and these attractions, these tend to be rather expensive, filled with tourists and relatively quick.

Renting a car is the best option for discovering Stavanger´s region with your own itinerary and with some planning in advance and tips, you might even save some money.

Tips when renting a car

Compare different prices, vehicles and insurance types.

Based on price, flexibility and comfort, we rented our car at SIXT. They offered the largest variety of vehicles and although we drove around mountains and small islands, Norwegian roads are in perfect shape and we didn´t need a large vehicle.

Plan your routes

GPS is necessary to move around Norway and now with free roaming data within European countries, it is even easier to travel around without spending money on renting a GPS. Download the google map of the area in advance or turn on your data plan to move around the region.

Think about parking fees and ferries

Parking and ferries can be a large expense in Norway and unfortunately attractions like the Pulpit Rock use this as a way to cash more money, charging over 20 EUR for just parking. The ferries charge per vehicle and number of people.

Also, while renting a car makes traveling way easier, take into consideration that Stavanger is a very touristic region.To take the best photographs of its main attractions, you should wake up early. Here I give you some tips on how to make your road trip a more individual travel experience and take these amazing photographs of only you and the nature.

Check the timetables

To go from Stavanger to the Pulpit Rock you have two options. Either you take a ferry directly from Stavanger to Tau and drive for 30 minutes (the ferry lasts 40 min) or you take a ferry from Lauvvik to Oanesand spend only 10 minutes on the ferry. For any of these options, I would totally recommend to sleep early the night before and try to catch a very early ferry. I promise you: waking up earlier DOES make a difference.

Prepare to hike

View from the highway next to the fjord in Stavanger

The hike from the parking spot of the pulpit rock to the actual rock takes around 90-120 minutes depending on your speed and while some views are very beautiful and can be perfect for a picnic break, I would recommend to go straight to the goal and enjoy the rock for yourself (as this can get very crowded in the later morning hours). Once you return you will have plenty of time to hike in a slower pace, take wonderful photos and enjoy the amazing views.

Plan picnics

Aerial view in the Stavanger region

Norwegian landscapes are simply amazing and there is nothing better than having lunch with your loved one or some friends in a remote location with an incredible view of the fjords. Getting some food at supermarkets is not only a good way to save some cash, but also to make your experience more unique and memorable.

The Stavanger region is a destination that can take weeks to discover and travel around and while it can be a little bit more expensive than most regions of the world, this doesn´t mean you have to sell all your stuff to afford a trip here. Also, renting a car might sound more expensive than using public transportation, but at the end of the day, if you are traveling together with more than 2 people, it´s actually even cheaper.

Sunday, 03 December 2017 / Published in Destinations

Street art is finally getting the recognition it deserves and Stavanger´s Nuart Festival is the perfect example of how street art is developing in Norway.
It´s crazy, if you think about it, that just a few years ago street art was a crime and artists had to do their work incognito making sure not to get caught. Nowadays street art is a big expression of colors, elements and ideas which represent the city and give a city a unique touch. With the East Side Gallery Berlin has made street art popular and now many cities are starting to understand its beauty.

quiet steets in Stavanger at night

Stavanger´s street art festival takes place every year and with artists from all over the world presenting their work in the streets of the city of Stavanger in southern Norway, a street art tour can become a fun quest trying to figure out where these pieces are and which are the best.
We decided to do that as well and went searching for the weirdest, most colorful and most interesting pieces around the city. Here is what we found.

The weirdest

Bahia Shebab delights us with her outdoor mural in Arabic which reads “how big is the idea”. A message which not many Norwegians can understand, but which suits its location so well, that the whole area seems like a piece of designer work of which Shebab´s mural is just one part.

Bahia Shebab´s piece : how big is the idea

The most colorful

Martin Whatson rocks again, this time together with street artist Sandra Chevrier. In their piece “Junction” you will see influences of modern and contemporary art which create a perfect mural full of colors and life.

Martin Whatson´s piece in Stavanger

The coolest
In 2013 street artist Hush painted this mural in the city of Stavanger. An amazing contribution to the Nuart Festival of that year and a piece which is so intriguing, that you can look at it for hours and still find new little details.
This contemporary version of a Matryoshka presents a female without eyes covered with grafittis. No matter how you interpret this piece of art, this is definitely the coolest mural in Stavanger.

Artist Hush created one of my favourite grafittis in Stavanger

The most interesting
The most interesting piece should be the most unique and difficult to find and in this case the price will definitely go to the mural of the opossum flying an airplane. This piece is not only incredibly large, eye catching and interesting, but it´s also only visible from the inside of the Myhregaarden Hotel in the city center of Stavanger. A real gem when it comes to street art.

This piece is located in the inner yard of the Myrehgaarden Hotel in Stavanger

Stavanger is getting covered with street art and with such an interesting festival adding pieces like these every year, I can’t wait to see what the city will look like in the future.
If you want to go explore the city yourself and find your favourite street art murals, go to Nuart Stavanger and download the interactive map of the city including some of the new murals from this year.

 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 / Published in Destinations

Visiting the Pride Barcelona is not only an activity for the LGBT community but also for everyone traveling to the city and looking for a fun time and a different perspective of Barcelona.

Holy Festival at Barcelona Pride 2017

Barcelona is one of these cities that you will probably visit more than once if you are from a European country and while the city itself is incredibly beautiful, after your third time there you will start to think twice if you really want to walk through Passeig de Gracia or make the long line at Sagrada Familia again. So why not visit the city during a large festival? That way you get to expericence the same place in totally different colors. Visiting Barcelona during the Pride festival is one of the options and here I will tell you why.

The Pride festival has been celebrated in Barcelona for years. It attracts hundreds of visitors from the gay community all over Europe, however, after visiting this year´s pride, I realized that this is not an event focused only on the LGBT community, but can actually be for people with all kinds of sexual preferences, families and even children.

Plaza de Espana- Pride Barcelona 2017

The festival is not only the parade, but consists of a series of events with concerts, international street food, shows, parties and colorful events. This year´s pride had a foam party, live acts of bands from different parts of the world and even a holy festival of colors.  Just imagine starting your weekend with a foam party at the beach of Barcelona; if this is not how a great summer holiday starts, I can´t imagine what would be.

A parade of colors, diversity and fun

Of course, all of these events are only the appetizer for the main event on the last day of the Pride, when a parade of many different communities, brands, and movements goes from Plaza de Espana to Plaza Catalunya in a carousel of colors, music and smiles. People of all ages join in this party, that gets bigger with every street ending up in a multitude of people celebrating life and diversity.

The Pride Barcelona definitely was an event to remember. It was the first pride festival I ever visited in my life and I´m sure it won´t be the last. Now I know that if I want to see a completely different side of a city I already visited, events like this will transform it into a new place, which I haven´t explored yet.

 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 / Published in Travel Journal

Are you thinking of taking your bike with you on a plane for a holiday and you are wondering how you will manage it? Well, if you neither want to stop your fitness or recreational riding regimen nor rent a bike at your destination, you are allowed to pack your bike and put it in the plane’s cargo hold.

First things first; look up for an airline that has cheap biker fees which will suit your budget. Once you have that information, make sure you know your chosen airline’s dos and don’ts. Check their policy on sporting goods so you be well prepared before you check in at the airport.

For you to air travel with your bike, it is crucial to pack it well to avoid any accidents when they are transporting it to the cargo area.

There are three basic options of packaging your bike.

Clear plastic bag

This is a simple and quick way to pack your bike.

There are plastic bags specifically designed for this purpose and their advantage is that they are not only cheap and easy to carry but you can re-use them again.

The benefit of using a clear plastic bag is it is always handled with more care since the luggage handlers can see through it.

When using a clear plastic bag to pack your bike you only require basic disassembly. You need some bubble wrap or foam to cover and protect the sensitive parts of the bike like the derailleur

You can detach the rear derailleur from the frame and wrap it with the foam so as to protect it.

Make sure the front wheel is firmly secured. Adding more padding to the front derailleur won’t hurt either.

When you are done with protecting those parts, put your bike in the bag and duct tape it so that it’s more secure and handling it will be easy.

Hard case

This is a steady and a lasting method to pack if you want to air travel with your bike but it is costly. It may also be quite heavy to carry because of the material used in making the case.

Cardboard bicycle box

Cardboard boxes are readily available in most places; almost any bicycle shop should be able to give you one although you may also be charged a small fee in some shops.

The card board box gives protection to the bike frame and other fragile parts of the bicycle like the derailleur.

If you choose a cardboard box for your packing you will need the following:

  1. a) Cardboard box

The bigger the box the better it is for packing a bike. Plastic spacers are also valuable because they can are put into the empty forks which prevent any part from bending.

  1. b) Packing materials

Having plenty of packing materials is necessary, things like Styrofoam, strings, duct tapes, or even wraps are good to be on hand not only to protect your bike but to close the box up too.

  1. c) Patience

You may need to take your time to make sure you pack and secure the bike well to prevent any damage.

Source: Flickt – Robert Thomson

 Disassembling the bike

Here is how to take your bike apart and prepare it to go in the box

  1. i) Detach the pedals -This can be a bit tricky, but if you lube the pedals in advance, they can come out easily
  2. ii) Take off the handle bars

iii) Take the wheels off – this you can easily do and even release a bit of air from the tires if that is a requirement from your chosen airline to air travel with your bike.

  1. vi) Protecting of the bike – Use the Styrofoam or wrap to cover the bike so as to guard it from any accidents or incidents that may occur while it is being transported.
  2. vi) Detaching the seat – The seat normally comes out easily and once that is done, wrap foam around the tube so it doesn’t get scratched while it’s in the cargo area.

Once you are done with the packing of your bike in whichever foam you choose, make sure you get to the airport early enough so that you can check in your luggage without any rush. Always be polite at the airport and co-operate with the staff in whatever they require from you and am sure they will also reciprocate.

On reaching your destination, collect your bike and check it for damages if any before leaving the airport. If you have any issue, talk to the staff and I am sure they will look for the best way to assist you.

If you find the procedures to air travel with your bike cumbersome then you can always check for more information on mountain biking and travel biking like best mountain bike for under 200 or beginner mountain bike

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