Vancouver left me dubious… Despite a clearly strong quality of life, the high number of homeless people in the streets is troubling. When you know how overpriced real estate is in this city, you get the feeling Vancouver’s quality of life comes with a hefty price tag. Aside from this fact, here is what I liked most about it.
Attached to the city center, Stanley Park surely has something to do with the fact Vancouver is so often listed as one of the world’s most livable cities. If you have plenty of time, walk along the seashore to circle the entire park. In any case, don’t miss the famous Vancouver seawall (best and most iconic view of the city) and the totems. Both are close to the park’s urban side.
Driving from Oslo to Stavanger to Bergen and back to Oslo on Norway’s ultra-scenic roads is an experience you won’t soon forget! Prepare for some beautiful Scandinavian cities, old wooden churches, fjords, waterfalls and Viking ships. Here is how to do it.
Day 1: Oslo
Try to arrive early in Oslo to have the rest of the day for some sightseeing. A nice and original hotel in central Oslo that I can recommend is Hotel Guldsmeden. If you rent a car from day 1, there is a QPark nearby (expensive) or you can park in the street if you find a spot. Walk to the new and very modern district of Aker Brygge with a lot of restaurants on the seafront (quite touristy though). Continue to the impressive Opera House, new and modern as well. Then turn towards Oslo’s main railway station (Oslo sentralstasjon) on your left and walk up the Karl Johans street, Oslo’s main shopping street. At the end arises the Royal Palace (Kongelige Slott) and its surrounding park. First night in Oslo.
In Lago Maggiore area, I recommend to spend the night in Stresa as it’s the closest town to the amazing Borromean islands. Many companies link the islands to Stresa by boat. You can hire a private water taxi (expensive, but no timetables to stick to) or use the scheduled connections (very affordable) offered by many companies. I took the first morning shuttle boat of a company named Lake Tours, departing from Stresa at 9:15. Their boats first stops at Isola Madre, then Isola dei Pescatori and last in Isola Bella before heading back to Stresa. They leave from each island to the next one on an hourly basis (every 30 minutes in high season) and adult ticket for the 3 islands costs 15 euros. Each of those 3 wonderful islands has a very strong identity and are all totally worth the visit! Isola Madre for the exotic gardens, Isola dei Pescatori for its picturesque village and Isola Bella for the magnificent palace.
Let’s face it right away, 2 days to experience both these national parks is short. But if you don’t have more time and still want to see the main highlights, it’s feasible! You just need to be well prepared. This suggested itinerary starts in Gardiner (Montana), close to Yellowstone’s North Entrance. You will go all the way down through both national parks until Jackson (Wyoming) on day 1 and then all the way up back to Gardiner via a different way on day 2 (first night in Gardiner, second night in Jackson and third night in Gardiner). Roads are in good condition and (most of) the main sights are very close to a parking, which make these great national parks easy to visit. All the attractions are clearly marked and the visitor centers provide very good maps of each site. Note that this trip can only be done in summertime, when all the roads are open.
Back to blogging after a busy summer full of travelling! Let’s start with Finland, a country that should definitely be on your bucket list of Nordic countries to visit. Here is why.
This sea fortress located on an island 15 minutes away from central Helsinki by boat was built in the 1700s to protect the city from sea attacks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go on a sunny summer day or (even better) on a crisp winter’s day when the sea is frozen and the whole island tourist-free. Allow yourself a few hours to circle the island, its big walls and old cannons. Don’t forget to stop at the hidden Samovarbar next to the little toy museum, and have a piece of their delicious apple pie.