Tips

Wonderful Windsor

We recently stayed at a beautiful little Airbnb right outside of London, in Windsor. We fell in love with the quaint little town and really got used to the beauty of Windsor! Our host was a wonderful woman who was so friendly and full of British humor. She chatted with us about everything from the Windsor Castle being “the only important castle” (ha!) to the Last Night of the Proms (which by the way, we had no idea the UK did such a cool little event, why doesn’t America have this?!?!) We had tea and coffee with her and she really gave us a true English experience 😉

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While we weren’t drinking tea in the Sitting Room, we were exploring Windsor (and of course London). Some things you must do in Windsor:

  • The Windsor Castle (beautiful!) but go early, the queue gets very long by the time it opens at 10:00. (see the queue below!!)IMG_5662
  • See the changing of the guard, it happens every other day, and they march right down the middle of High Street. It is a big deal, roads are closed and people stand watching on either side of High Street to catch a view. It is opposite of the Buckingham Palace’s schedule. It usually takes place around 11:30 with streets closing around 10:45.IMG_3900
  • Any of the parks/gardens, there are a few optionsIMG_5627
  • We heard the following were wonderful as well: St. George’s Chapel, Windsor and Eton Brewery, Theatre Royal, Horse Stables (the following is a photo taken from the outside on High Street)IMG_5651

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AND of course, there is a beautiful little pedestrian-only street right off of High Street with a slew of restaurants and great shopping! On our last night, exhausted from walking around London, we ate at a little Italian restaurant called Carluccio’s. Highly recommend. It was very intimate and romantic, yet delicious and filling. It also has a separate deli shop that is open during the day.

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Transportation to London is a breeze. You would take the rail from Windsor to London, with one easy change in between. The rail from Windsor Central Station is a direct route, only stopping in Windsor and Slough. Simply take the rail to Slough, then change platforms (we went to London Paddington) and simply hop on the Paddington rail! It will take you to Paddington, and from there you can go anywhere. This is the simplest route, although there are many options. For the two of us, it was approximately $25USD, not bad for a full day in London 🙂 If you are going from London Paddington to Windsor for the day, it would be the reverse (at Slough, hop onto the Windsor Central Station rail).

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Bryggen, Bergen – Don’t get a parking ticket!

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While visiting Bryggen, Bergen, Norway, we parked our car in this beautiful little side street where we thought we had access to street parking….problem is the sign was very unclear and resulted in us getting a parking ticket. No big deal we thought, so we put it away and opted to pay online once we got back to Denmark (this is a very common way to pay tickets in the States). Mind you, we left our car for approximately 20 minutes, we only walked around the block! (photos of Bryggen attached)!

Back in Denmark, we went to pay our ticket online only to find out this is not possible, at all. There are 2 options: 1) Pay via wire transfer or 2) Dispute the fine. We, of course, just wanted to pay the 300kr (approx. 35USD) and move on, it was not enough to stress about.

So, we attempted to wire money through our bank, but had no luck as there is a $50 transfer minimum and another $40 fee to do so. Then we noticed the account numbers on the ticket are for the Norwegian bank, DNB, but when we went to a branch here in Copenhagen we were told these only exist in Norway. Also, we tried Forex (similar to Western Union) and also had no luck due to the type of account it is. With these option nixed, we got creative and were starting to become desperate, we were afraid we would have to go back to Norway to pay the ticket (at least it’s not far from Denmark!).

Then, we discovered TransferWise. We discovered that you can easily transfer funds directly from your bank to the account you wish to send the funds to, there are no minimums and the fees are minuscule! We tried it, and it worked! We transferred our $35 and paid under a $5 fee! We were ecstatic!!!

TransferWise saved the day! If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament or need to transfer funds for personal matters anywhere across the globe, just download their app or go to their website to wire the funds. It is so easy and will relieve the stress! 🙂

More photos of Bryggen below…. 😉

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A Fjord Paradise

I’m usually a sucker for warm climates [meaning the closer to the Equator the better], palm trees, tropical alcoholic drinks, sunglasses and a bottle of SPF. But, I must say Norway threw me for a loop! We expected to see glaciers, pretty cool considering we’d never seen glaciers before, and of course fjords. But, we weren’t prepared for what we found when we landed in Kaupanger.

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Kaupanger is a relentlessly tiny town in Middle-of-No-Where, Norway. It’s population is mostly of families who have lived there for generations and it’s main “claim to fame” is the ferry that stops by on its way to the larger nearby town of Sogndal. Very different than what we’re used to, we had practically only seen this in movies. IMG_3359

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Intrigued, we stayed at a charming little home (read: boathouse) located right ON the water in the tiny town of Kaupanger (pictured below)….IMG_5595 IMG_3322

The home offered the most perfect view of the fjord and came complete with a balcony ON the water where we could sit and gaze off in the distance while eating our post-dinner ice cream 🙂 We are such romantics ❤

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By the end of the few days we were there, I was already pining to go back, it’s actually still an inner battle I’m still fighting…WHO AM I for wanting to go back to this cold, mountainous, fjord region…and WHY?!?! Then I look at the pictures, and oh yeah….that’s why 😉

Icetrolls: Norway

When we were booking our trips around Europe, Norway originally wasn’t one of them. However, we watched an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe featuring Norway and we instantly fell in love. We began our research on attractions and stumbled across Icetroll, a company that offers many different glacier hiking, kayaking, rafting, etc. tours. We knew we HAD to do this. So, we booked the Icetroll tour that featured kayaking and glacier hiking. Hands down, best adventure we’ve ever had.

View of Norwegian countryside on way to Icetroll

View of Norwegian countryside on way to Icetroll

With glaciers diminishing more and more each day, we knew this would be such an exceptional experience, something that people of the future may not get to experience.

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Carlos leading the way

We arrived at our meeting point at 10:00 and met our tour guide, Carlos, and our group of 2 other couples (one from Poland and one from Arizona). We began our hike to the lake, then we kayaked over to the glacier. Once at the glacier we hiked to the ice and learned how to lace our crampons (the spike glacier shoes) and off we went. Overall we hiked for about 6 hours, then we kayaked back to our starting point. We got back around 16:00.

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The tour offered many amazing views and a fun experience that I am not sure we will ever be able to recreate. The entire tour cost about $230, and was arguably the best couple hundred dollars we have ever spent!

If you are on the western side of Norway, this is definitely something you should get around to doing. You will be exhausted after the trip, but very rewarding!!! Find more info at http://www.icetroll.com 🙂

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