How to succeed in Norway as an expat or an exchange student

New Photo Project: Oslo Rooftops

I created a new photo project called Oslo Rooftops. In this project I want to showcase beautiful photos of Oslo rooftops.

The project is also available on Instagram and Facebook.

Here are a few photos from this project:

  • 2013-02-07 - House
  • 2013-09-09 - Majorstuen Sunrise
  • 2013-12-15 - Snarøya
  • 2011-07-13 - Harry Potter
  • 2011-01-31 - Winter Sunset
  • 2011-02-02 - English Houses

Starting my 500px portfolio

I signed-up on 500px and started creating my 500px portfolio.

Here are a few photos which I uploaded in the beginning. In the next weeks I will create a series of articles about how to turn ordinary photos taken with point-and-shoot and smartphone cameras into beautiful works of art. Stay tuned!

New store with Stanoi Design products

I opened a store on Zazzle with my own design products: Stanoi Design.

Inspired by blending arts, science and fashion, I attempt to create beautiful, intriguing and funny design products for decorating your home and your person. Examples for this are funny smartphone cases, artistic pillow cases, unusual posters inspired by world-famous works of art etc.

The page Store on my website will be updated with the best-selling products.

Here is an example of a design product:

In association with Zazzle.com

Oslo Fotomaraton 2013

On 24 August I participated in the Oslo Fotomaraton photo competition, my second such competition. The idea is to take 12 photos during the 12 hours of the competition, each photo with a different theme.

Here is a collage with all my 12 photos:

  • 2013-08-24 - Oslo Fotomaraton 2013

And all the individual photos, together with the themes for each:

  • IMG_20130824_114209
  • IMG_20130824_120656
  • IMG_20130824_130258
  • IMG_20130824_140453
  • IMG_20130824_151540
  • IMG_20130824_154215
  • IMG_20130824_173621
  • IMG_20130824_185413
  • IMG_20130824_190459
  • IMG_20130824_202244
  • IMG_20130824_203417
  • IMG_20130824_210601



I took all the photos with my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, with the Camera ICS+ app.

The collage was created with the free web tool Pixlr Express.

Participating in photo competitions is a good way to improve your photography skills, as noted by this article from Lifehacker: Enter Photo Contests and Competitions to Boost Your Photography Skills.

Northern Ireland Trip

Day 1 (Friday, July 23)
After just returning home from my sailing trip in the evening the previous day, I woke up early to get to the plane to Dublin.

After landing in Dublin I took the bus to Belfast, where I arrived around 14:30 at my hostel Belfast International Youth Hostel. I went to sleep for a few hours. Then I went for a tour around Belfast and had a pizza in a nice restaurant.

In the evening I met with Albrecht, Håkon, Karl Isak, the groomsmen and some of Albrecht’s friends for beers at Crown Bar, a very famous bar in Belfast.

  • 2010-07-23 - Northern Ireland Trip, Day 1 - The Crown Bar

We only stayed there until 23:00 and we went to our hostels.

Day 2 (Saturday, July 24)
I woke up early and had a Belfast Traditional Breakfast (Ulster Fry) and then got ready for the wedding.

I met with the wedding guests in the center and a bus picked us up and drove us to Portadown. Here there was the wedding ceremony, followed by the German tradition of sawing the log.

  • Day 2 - Wedding Ceremony 07

    Day 2 - Wedding Ceremony 09

Albrecht and Rachel left in a Trabant, and all guests were driven by bus to Brownlow House in Lurgan for the wedding reception and dinner party.

  • 2010-07-24 - Northern Ireland Trip, Day 2 - Wedding Reception

After a photo session and speeches, we sat down and ate good food.

Albrecht and Rachel cut the wedding cake.

After that we danced some Celtic dances and traditional disco dances.

The bus took the guests back to Belfast at 01:00, and I went straight to sleep.

Day 3 (Sunday, July 25)
I woke up early and got a Mega Belfast Breakfast at Causeway Cafe, which the menu says that after this Mega Belfast Breakfast "trust us, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day". But I was feeling hungry around lunchtime.

I got on the bus which started around 09:45 on the McComb’s Causeway Coast bus tour.

  • Day 3 - Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge

We stopped at Carrickfergus Castle, Ballycastle, Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge, Day 3 – Old Bushmills Distilery 01, Dunluce Castle and Giant’s Causeway.

  • Day 3 - Giant's Causeway 02

The tour was great and we had a very funny guide who was making jokes all the time.

We returned to Belfast around 19:00. I met with Håkon, Karl Isak and some of Albrecht’s friends and we went to Crown Bar, then to Laverys Bar for more beers and to play pool.

  • Day 3 - Billiards

I went to sleep earlier, while the others continued to play pool.

Day 4 (Monday, July 26)
I woke up early again and went to eat an English breakfast at a supermarket. Then I met Håkon and Karl Isak at the bus station. Together we took the bus to Dublin airport and then the plane to Oslo.

Photo album
Wedding website

Tall Ships’ Races 2010 Antwerp-Aalborg

Day 0 (Monday, July 12)
I woke up very early in Oslo, and went to the train station where I got the train to the airport. After a short flight I was in Brussels Airport, from where I took the bus to Antwerp under a pouring rain.

When I got in Antwerp the rain was stopping, and I carried my bag from the bus station to the harbour in a nice weather, taking pictures on the way.

In the harbour I went to my ship Christian Radich. After a short tour of the ship I unpacked my bags and went for a short walk in the harbour and to Grote Markt.

  • 2010-07-12 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 0 - Antwerp

On the way I got French fries. I got back to the ship where I met Håkon which I knew from the previous year while sailing with Mathilde, and his girlfriend Danielle.

Together we went to visit the sailing ships in the harbour, then went for a dinner in Grote Markt.

We returned to the ship to see the fireworks, and went to sleep in hammocks.

Day 1 (Tuesday, July 13)
We woke up on the ship and got breakfast while more trainess were arriving on the ship.

At 10:00 there was a general assembly on deck. The Captain welcomed us to the race and the First Mate presented the coveted prize of the race, which Christian Radich held for the past 2 years. It’s a piece of rock from Cape Horn.

  • 2010-07-13 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 1 - The Prize

After this the ships started leaving the harbour. There was an incident in which 2 ships got their yards tangled, and a few ropes broke and some sailors were injured. But it wasn’t a big issue and the program continued.

During our journey to the river of Antwerp we got a tour of the ship from the Chief Mate Bengt.

All the ships went to the river for a parade through the center of Antwerp.

  • Day 1 - Antwerp sailing ships parade 01

After the parade we headed to the open sea, where we practiced putting on the life vests and climbing the yards.

Day 2 (Wednesday, July 14)
We woke up early and had breakfast, then we were waiting for the race to start. The wind was not favorable, and the race was delayed for a few hours. All the ships were waiting around the starting line.

  • 2010-07-14 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 2 - Race starts

Around 19:00 the Captain gave the order to raise all sails and the race was on!

We went to sleep under the smooth movement of the ship going from side to side.

Around 22:45 the alarm sounds! "All hands on deck!" We were in the middle of a squall (big storm) with rain, thunders and lightning. The Captain needed everybody on deck to lower some sails. After some time the waters were more calm and we went back to sleep. Later we found out that this storm hit Europe quite badly.

Day 3 (Thursday, July 15)
I woke up early for my 4-8 watch and enjoyed the sunrise.

  • 2010-07-15 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 3 - Sunrise

There were big waves all day and the ship was moving from side to side. The sergeant was holding the plates so they don’t fall off. We were playing some group games on deck. I almost cut my leg off in the heavy door which was closing before I can pass through it.

  • Day 3 - Big waves 10

During dinner a sail ripped in 2 places. 12 sailors went on the yard to take it down and replace it with a new one, while the ship was moving from side to side.

  • Day 3 - Ripped sail 05

Day 4 (Friday, July 16)
The ship was stuck in a strange position, on the port side all the time. It was funny to see everybody walk diagonally.

After dinner we were approaching the finish line, and the Captain announced it.

  • 2010-07-16 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 4 - Race finish

Just as he was saying it the wind changed direction, and all the ships that were behind us needed many hours to cross the finish line.

Day 5 (Saturday, July 17)
In the morning we were scrubbing the deck to clean the ship. We were using the motor to go through Skagerrak Strait to Halmstad (Sweden).

Many people had birthdays on the ship and the cooks made cakes for them and we sang "Happy Birthday" to them.

  • 2010-07-17 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 5 - Steering

I got to steer the ship as part of my watch duties.

Day 6 (Sunday, July 18)
In the morning we watched the movie "Around Cape Horn under sail", then I went to do my horizon watching duties. We were polishing the metal parts of the ship to make it look nice for entering Halmstad.

Then we took a group picture of the 4-8 watch and rehearsed our song for the BBQ.

In the afternoon we arrived in Halmstad (Sweden) where we were welcomed with open arms by city representatives. The other 2 big Norwegian sailing ships in the race were also there, Statsraad Lehmkuhl and Sørlandet.

We went for a walk downtown Halmstad and the first stop was a pub where we had some beers. Other sailors joined us, and also from the other 2 Norwegian ships.

  • Day 6 - Halmstad 04

We got back to the ship then all the 3 crews moved to Statsraad Lehmkuhl for a BBQ. There was good food and entertainment provided by the watches. There was also a drinking competition with orange juice.

  • 2010-07-18 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 6 - Statsraad Lehmkuhl BBQ

I left the party quite early as I was tired. Many of the others partied until late and even went to the town for more partying.

Day 7 (Monday, July 19)
Woke up in Halmstad and went for an amusement park provided by the town free of charge to the sailors. Then we took a free bus to Tylösand beach and walked back to the ship on Prins Bertils pathway by the coast.

  • 2010-07-19 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 7 - Tylösand Beach

On the way the guys went for a swim. We stopped at a kiosk in Grötvik where we were discussing in Scandinavian with a Swedish bartender for a long time.

Near the ship we met Pia and Hans and got one last beer before going on the ship.

At 18:00 we left harbour while trying to hit Statsraad Lehmkuhl with water balloons, but we were out of range.

Day 8 (Tuesday, July 20)
In the morning we got lessons in types of ships and reading the sextant.

After a few hours on the sea we arrived in Aalborg, and fired the cannon just as we entered the harbour.

The captain addressed everybody in an emotional speech and handed out diplomas to the trainees.

  • 2010-07-20 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 8 - Diploma ceremony

We went for a walk downtown, then in the evening we went to the amusement park and a pub crawl.

  • Day 8 - Aalborg 07

We got back to the ship around midnight.

Day 9 (Wednesday, July 21)
In the morning we went to see the movie Windjammer (1958) which is about our ship Christian Radich. It was very emotional to see this movie, which was presented by David Strohmaier and his wife, who found it and restored it. It was nice to see it together with other people from Christian Radich.

In the afternoon we went to have lunch and to the Maritime Museum where we spent a few hours.

  • 2010-07-21 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 9 - Aalborg Maritime Museum

We got back to the ship and went out for dinner, at a restaurant where the waitress was Norwegian. We got back to the ship around 23:00 and went to sleep for the last night on board.

Day 10 (Thursday, July 22)
I woke up and had a breakfast, then I called a taxi and left to the train station. I took a train to Hørring, then changed to another train to Hirtshals.

In Hirtshals I had a few hours before the ferry left, so I went for a walk on the beach.

  • 2010-07-22 - Tall Ships' Races 2010, Day 10 - Hirtshals

I took the ferry to Larvik, which was actually a 4-hours feast of an all-you-can-eat buffet with lots of different food. In Larvik I took a bus to Oslo, where I arrived around 19:30.

Blog
Photo album
Christian Radich
Article about the 3 Norwegian ships

Brussels-Bruges Trip

Day 1 (Friday, May 21)
I went to the bus station in Oslo to meet with Petru and Marcin and together we took the bus to the Rygge airport. After a short flight we were in Charleroi airport in Belgium and the adventure to get to our hostel began.

First we waited more than 30 minutes in the queue to buy tickets for the shuttle bus. Then we were trying to buy tickets for the local buses in Brussels but our cards were not accepted. After buying the tickets from an underground kiosk, we took the wrong tram and ended in another part of the city, so we had to go back and take the correct tram. Eventually we reached the hostel after 3 hours from landing, and we waited some time in the lobby while drinking Limoncino.

Already drunk, we went to the city and had a huge portion of French fries in the center. We couldn’t have the fries at the last authentic Friterie where the single girls are not waiting for the bus (as we read in a guide book), because it was closed.

Day 1 - Brussels 03

After the French fries we saw a repetition of the Zinneke Parade, and had a big dinner with a few fruity beers.

After the dinner we went back to the hostel for a refill of Limoncino, then we went to the You Night Club where it was a Back to the 80s party. The nice girl at the entrance didn’t want to let us in in the beginning, but Petru convinced her with his charm. The party and the music were great, and it didn’t finish at 3 in the morning as we were used to. There were lots of hats, wigs and pink scarfs around for people to wear.

2010-05-21 - Brussels-Bruges Trip, Day 1 - Back to the 80s party

Around 04:30 we went back to the hostel, not finding a kebab shop on the way.

Day 2 (Saturday, May 22)
I woke up quite early and went to eat something. I found a great place called Aux Cent D’wiches, with great and cheap sandwiches. I got Petru and Marcin there and they liked it as well, eating there every morning. I also sent a message to Carolina to buy some Limoncino on the way.

We wanted to go to Atomium, but instead were just walking and found the Koelkeberg Cathedral by mistake. We were having some beers we got in a local shop while taking jumping pictures in front of the cathedral. We also went inside.

Day 2 - Brussels 04

After the cathedral we went back to the hostel where Carolina was waiting for us, with a detour to the same local shop to buy more beers and to the supermarket to get even more beers.

Together with Carolina we went to the city to watch the Zinneke Parade which only happens every 2 years on the weekend we were in Brussels.

Day 2 - Brussels 08

After the parade we got some more French fries and took the metro to Atomium. We also went inside and were almost the last ones in.

2010-05-22 - Brussels-Bruges Trip, Day 2 - Atomium

After Atomium we got some icecream and stayed on the grass in the park outside Atomium. Then we went walking in the park to see the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower.

Day 2 - Brussels 24

After this we returned to the hostel where Petru and Marcin got lots of beers to see the Champions League final, while the rest were sleeping. After the game we refilled with Limoncino and went out to the same club, You Night Club. It was a posh night and everybody was dressed nicely. At first the bouncer didn’t want to let me in because I forgot to wash my sports shoes, but the owner of the club, the same woman who let us in the previous night, came and let us in.

After some dancing and using my newly acquired green sunglasses, me and Carolina left with a side trip to a Greek fast-food place. Petru and Marcin came later making lots of noise. Then the symphony of snoring began.

Day 3 (Sunday, May 23)
I woke up early again and went to the same sandwich shop, and eventually all the others went to the same shop. We got Leia from USA with us and together we took the train to Bruges. While waiting for the train Carolina found a porquinho to talk to.

In Bruges we walked around the town and entered almost all cathedrals, then went up the Belfort and its 366 steps to see the view.

2010-05-23 - Brussels-Bruges Trip, Day 3 - Bruges Sightseeing

After this we went to a nice restaurant Cambrinus to have some good food and lots of beers.

Wanting to go for the boat tour around the canals, we asked some tourists for the way and they directed us in the wrong direction. Eventually we found the boat tour harbour, and we got lucky that we could get in since it was past the closing time and we got on the last boat. The boat tour was nice and well worth it.

Day 3 - Bruges 06

After this we took the train back to Brussels, standing on the floor since it was very crowded.

Back in Brussels we went to the European Parliament and then to see Manneken Pis.

Day 3 - Brussels 03

We then went for some Greek gyros and then back to the hostel.

Day 4 (Monday, May 24)
Me, Petru and Marcin woke up early to get the flight back to Oslo, while Carolina had one more day in Brussels. At the airport we got some beers and slept all the way to Oslo.

Photo album

NOR Seil 2009 Ålesund-Florø

Day 1 (Saturday, July 18)

Woke up in Oslo at Petru’s place, after a night-out in the city and only 3 hours to sleep.

I walked to the train station, where I met with the sailors with whom I will travel on the ship Mathilde.

We took the train to Dombås, where I was playing cards with Sandra and Jenny, and sitting in the restaurant car alone while the others were sleeping.

In Dombås we changed the train to Åndalsnes, seeing great scenery on the way.

In Åndalsnes we took the bus to Ålesund, where we will stay at Volsdalen Camping.

Day 1 - Volsdalen Camping 02

We set up 3 tents (lavvo) and played some icebreaker games to learn our names.

Later we prepared a BBQ with fish, rice and pølse. While waiting for the food we tied a line between 2 trees and tried to walk on it, with me not being able to stand up on it.

Hakan came to visit me as he just lives in the area in a small town (or village as he calls it).

Later we played volleyball, and card games after I twisted my ankle a bit. It began raining after the rainbow appeared on the sky, and we retreated to our tents.

The population of my tent was bigger than in the beginning, with Edoardo, Sandra, Jenny, Marie, Maxi and Katrin. Plus the food.

It was raining a lot and there was lots of noise from the rain drops falling on the tent.

Day 2 (Sunday, July 19)

Waking up early we prepared breakfast, with me adding instant coffee to the porridge because I didn’t have a cup to drink coffee. Everybody was laughing about it. Later I borrowed a cup from Luba so I can drink coffee like normal people.

We left with the bus to Vigra island, where it was cloudy and cold.

Day 2 - Vigra Island 06

But the weather got better and sunnier, and we spent a full day with hiking, kayaks, volleyballand just enjoying the sun.

Day 2 - Vigra Island 12

We returned to our camping place when it began raining, having to run to the bus stop as we were waiting in the wrong place. We had dinner outside in the rain.

We stayed in my tent for a few hours playing a card game with vegetables and slurping, and then went to sleep.

I woke up in the night all wet because it was raining so much that the water came in the tent, through the matress and the sleeping bag, and my t-shirt was all wet.

Day 3 (Monday, July 20)

Woke up wet and stayed in the camping kitchen to try to dry my clothes.

We packed the tents and left Volsdalen Camping, taking a bus to Ålesund. It was raining non-stop.

Day 3 - Ålesund 01

In Ålesund we went straight to our ship Mathilde. I borrowed from Michael the first mate an orange costume used by fishermen, to protect myself against the rain.

The ship left the harbour, and we were off to Runde. We got introduced to the crew, and Michael assigned numbers to us and distributed us to different watches (steering, outlook, navigation, "be nice" watch).

We arrived in Runde in the afternoon, and we went for a walk around the island, stopping at Runde Kafe for a long time, to warm up with some coffee and cake.

Day 3 - Runde 02

We got back to Mathilde to learn about knots, and to see a documentary movie about the fish trade in the 1920s on the west coast of Norway.

After dinner on board we left for a walk to Fuglefjellet, to see puffins.

Day 3 - Runde 08

When we got back to the ship we had to tie hammocks to the ceiling using the knots we learned.

Day 3 - Runde 09

Then we went to sleep as all the lights were turned off on the ship.

Day 4 (Tuesday, July 21)

Woke up early on the ship, but nobody was up until 07:30.

Some people went with the rowing boat and came back with a full load of crabs and fish, on which we spent a few hours untying them from the fish net.

Day 4 - Runde 03

Then we left Runde and did a bit of sailing.

Day 4 - Herøyfjorden 13

We did our watches as they were planned by Michael, while doing some other fun activities on board, like walking the line and eating the crabs we caught earlier. I got to try steering the ship a bit.

We arrived in Kvamsøya in the evening, where we went on a nice hike to the top. We took some group pictures there then came back to the ship. I was walking slowly because I sprang my ankle again and was afraid to walk faster.

Day 4 - Kvamsøya

We had to go to sleep very early as the plan was to wake up at 04:30 to pass the Stadhavet waters.

Day 5 (Wednesday, July 22)

Woke up at 04:30. To my surprise almost everybody was awake and on deck.

Day 5 - Stadhavet 05

We passed through the rough waters of Stadhavet quite easily, but felt the big waves and the motion of the ship. Fortunately nobody was sick.

After Stadhavet some people went to sleep, while others continued to enjoy the view.

Around 08:30 we arrived in Selje. Me and Jenny prepared the breakfast which we had on deck, while curious people came by and were asking us about our ship.

Day 5 - Selja Island 04

After breakfast we went to Silja island with the ferry, where there is a very old church. The guide girl was singing a hymn to Saint Sunniva which was very nice.

After the tour we returned to Selje where we used the shower facilities, then enjoyed the sun on deck, even having lunch there. We changed to summer attire as it was very hot, and we did some suntanning on the ship.

In the afternoon we left Selje and did some sailing and steering, and even more walking the line.

Day 5 - Røysetfjorden 04

We arrived in Rugsund in the evening, where I spent some time playing Fluxx and Munchkin, while Sandra was reading bedtime stories to Jenny and Anders. Other people were at a pub where they went with the rowing boat.

I slept on the bench as the others complained I was snoring too much in the hammock. This apparently didn’t help as I was to find out next day.

Day 6 (Thursday, July 23)

We left Rugsund early and set course to south, going in a zig-zag through the fjords and islands.

I got to try steering the ship with the rope-rudder, trying to hold the course through islands and keeping right when there was another ship coming.

Day 6 - Skatestraumen 03

We had some lessons about the names of sails and ropes, which were hard to get because they were in Norwegian.

We passed Florø on the way and were sailing in Brufjorden south of Florø. We got to raise the big sail and changed the sailing direction a few times, going against the wind. With all these activities we had time to make a group picture on deck.

Day 6 - Brufjorden 08

In the evening we arrived at Svanøyna, where we dropped the achor (which had a rusty chain and was not used in many years).

Since the weather was sunny, almost everybody jumped in the water, trying to avoid the poisonous medusas in the process.

Day 6 - Svanøyna 12

After a delicious dinner on deck we were relaxing and learning how to braid hair.

I left with Vidar, Julie, Maxi and Katrin with the rowing boat on a tour around Svanøyna.

Day 6 - Svanøyna 26

After we came back we played cards on deck, and learned how to braid bracelets.

We went to sleep close to midnight, in the middle of the small golf, with no waves. The ship was rotating by itself, but very slow.

Day 7 (Friday, July 24)

I woke up early. This time there were other people from the crew on deck, and I had coffee and cake with them.

After breakfast on deck we relaxed for a bit, while some people tried to climb the mast using only the ropes.

We left the golf and did some more sailing in Brufjorden, stopping on the way for lunch. It was the last meal on the ship. Me, Jenny and Maxi prepared the tables, and I had lots of problems understanding Gunvor’s accent, and many times I had to get some words translated.

After the lunch we arrived in Florø, where we had only one hour for sightseeing.

Day 7 - Florø 01

Then we took the express boat to Bergen. On the boat I slept a few minutes, then enjoyed the view on deck, and afterwards we played cards on the floor, with me winning almost everytime at President. That is until we restarted, and then I began to lose a few times.

Day 7 - Bergen 01

In Bergen we went to Peppes Pizza, doing a bit of sightseeing in Bryggen before our train was leaving.

We took the night train to Oslo. There was a dog in our compartment and we were complaining that we cannot sleep with him there, but there was nothing we could do. I slept with the eye cover over my nose, having a beer first in the restaurant wagon.

Day 8 (Saturday, July 25)

Woke up in the train to Oslo around 05:00 and went to the restaurant wagon to have a coffee.

We arrived in Oslo around 06:15. Everybody was sleepy, and we said good-bye and went our own way. Me, Jenny, Sandra and Ingrid stayed in the train station waiting for our trains. I took the bus to Drammen with Jenny and Sandra, and then the train to Larvik, finally getting the bus to Skien from there.

I arrived home around 11:00 and went to sleep for many hours.

Photo album

Sweden-Finland Trip (Cycore Family Reunion 2009)

Day 1 (Sunday, April 26)

After a 4 hours train and 1 hour flight I arrived in Stockholm, where I met Lucian and Irmi. Together we went to Faro’s place where I met Faro, Tim, Zoltan and Judit, and I was welcomed with a shot of palinka. Tim was trying to extract information from me with his “Do it yourself Freud” kit by hipnotizing me on the couch.

After a tacos dinner we went for a walk around the lake which is by Faro’s place, and then a walk in Gamla Stan to attend the changing of the guards in pyjamas, as Zoltan said. We had some apple cakes in a McDonalds, and the cakes paid for themselves with me and Tim finding 50 SEK on the floor in the McDonalds under somebody’s shoes.

2009-04-26 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 1 - Stockholm

We got back to Faro’s place where we had some Aquavit shots before going to sleep.

Day 2 (Monday, April 27)

I woke up the earliest, around 07:30 and I had my first breakfast, and then the second breakfast when the others woke up.

We went to the City Hall where we met Faro and Andrey and together we had lunch with the politicians in the City Hall restaurant.

After lunch we met Kanchan and Sangeeta who arrived by boat from Helsinki. Together we had a coffee, then walked 10 minutes to find a toilet unaware of the fact that there was one just where we had the coffee.

With Faro and Andrey returning to their work life, me and the others went to the ship, not forgetting to visit McDonalds on the way for a snack.

On the Gabriella ship we were on deck enjoying the view in the Stocholm archipelago, then went for dinner while watching the sunset and to the tax-free shop.

2009-04-27 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 2 - Gabriella

After this we went to my cabin to start a pre-party and to see pictures from Kanchan’s wedding. The elePHPant was having some drinks as well.

Around 23:00 we went to the clubs on the ship, first to karaoke and then to the dance club where there was live music. There we danced some time, and then it was only me and Kanchan dancing and remembering good old times in Uppsala.

I went to sleep around 03:00.

Day 3 (Tuesday, April 28)

I woke up early as usual and had a breakfast in the buffet place on the ship, then had a second breakfast in the market square in Helsinki.

From the market square we took a boat to the Suomenlinna fortress island, famous for its soup. There me and Judit were trying to understand a drunken guy but didn’t even know which language he was using.

After the island Zoltan and Judit went to meet some friends, and the others went to the Helsinki cathedral, where I met with Marius, a colleague from university who I haven’t seen for 5 years. I went with him to the market square where we had some cheap herrings and salmon, all the while trying to avoid the seagulls who were circling above us.

2009-04-28 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 3 - Helsinki

We got back to the cathedral and then me, Lucian and Irmi went to the boat which was waiting for us in the harbour.

I went straight to sleep, thinking that Zoltan and Judit are in the tax-free shop. I woke up and went to the sauna and jacuzzi, which I didn’t like too much. Going back to the cabin I realized Zoltan and Judit didn’t come back and I was worried. I went to dinner and I said to Lucian and Irmi “I have shocking news!” and they were laughing seeing my worried face, because they knew already that Zoltan and Judit missed the boat. Apparently they took another boat in Turku and will be in Stockholm even before us.

We went to the tax-free shop to buy some champagne for Valborg, then to my cabin to pack Zoltan’s pyjamas in his big backpack, and played some Norwegian card games which I lost. Drinking wine we got tipsy and went to karaoke, but again we were not brave enough to try ourselves. We went to the dance floor where there was the same band with the same music. Since the elePHPant didn’t find anyone suitable I went to sleep quite early.

Day 4 (Wednesday, April 29)

After an early and good breakfast at the ship buffet we got down in Stockholm, where we met with Zoltan and Judit who came on another boat. Walking together we took a ferry to Skansen where we spent the whole afternoon and having lunch there.

2009-04-29 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 4 - Skansen

After Skansen we went to Vasa Museum, and then we took a walk around the city waiting for Faro to come back home.

On the metro we met with Andrey and Alexandra, and together we went to Faro’s place where she prepared a nice dinner. I went outside to get Pavel from the metro station, but all I could find was 20 SEK on the street.

After the dinner we got some shots and went to sleep.

Day 5 (Thursday, April 30)

After the first and second breakfast we packed and went to the bus station together with Faro and Tim who were leaving to Malta. There we bought bus tickets and sold them back because the bus was leaving at 03:00. So instead we took the train to Uppsala which was crowded because everybody in Stockholm was going to Uppsala for Valborg, and we had to stand the whole time.

In Uppsala we walked to Fyrishov where we had lunch, and we met with Andrey.

2009-04-30 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 5 - Valborg 2009 Uppsala

Ready to party we headed back to the center where there were lots of people dancing in the nations and having picnic outside. We visited our old office which had an automatic gate now, being used as a residence.

After that we went to Triangle where we danced on some Jamaican rap, and where I was speaking with some people in Norwegian and Spanish. Everybody loved the orange glasses we had.

After this we went to Ekonomikum for more dancing, then to the river for a coffee, and to the Tzatziki restaurant for a Greek dinner. It was already cold and we were covered in blankets provided by the restaurant.

After the dinner we returned to Fyrishov, where Pavel returned later after his Flogsta party.

Day 6 (Friday, April 31)

I woke up before 07:00 and went for a walk in Uppsala, trying to find the places which I remembered during my stay there.

I returned to Fyrishov and went to the water park for a few minutes.

2009-05-01 - Cycore Family 2009 Sweden, Day 6 - Fyrishov

The others, inspired by me having so many meals, decided to have first a breakfast at Fyrishov and then a second breakfast at the cabin. I only had the second breakfast, and then a picnic at Gamla Uppsala, where I was watching the clock all the time in order not to miss the bus back to the city and then to the airport.

While the others were still sightseeing in Uppsala I got to the plane to Oslo, then took the train for 4 hours to Skien, where I arrived almost at midnight.

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Blue Danube Trip

Day 1 (Wednesday, April 8)

I woke up around 03:00 and took the train to Oslo airport, where I met Daniel. We had a baguette as breakfast before boarding the plane to Salzburg.

When we climbed down from the plane in Salzburg we were met with a nice view of mountains and horse sh*t smell. The smell persisted throughout the day. Whenever we saw some horses in the city we said "that’s why it smells like sh*t".

Daniel used his high-tech GPS to find the way to our hostel, Yoho International Youth Hostel. It was very nice, with keycard secured lockers and happy hour.

We started our sightseeing tour by walking to Altstadt (Old Town) where we saw the house where Mozart was born. We had a nice lunch in the center where I tried the schnitzel, and we started already drinking beer.

2009-04-08 - Blue Danube Trip, Day 1 - Salzburg Mirabell Gardens

After this we went to Mirabell Gardens where we met a drunken Austrian guy who kept insisting that "Beethoven is first, Bach is second, and Mozart is third". We entered Mirabell Palace looking for the concert place, and we found it but it was quite empty there and we were wondering if the concert will actually take place.

We returned to the hostel to try the happy hour (where a beer is 2 Euros instead of 2.80 Euros), then we set to Altstadt again where we tried to get into Mozarteum where a concert was happening. But the staff did not allow us to get in, saying that the concert was not opened to the public. Even after we insisted that we saw posters of the concert we could not get in. Then we were joking about what would have happened if we came in beach clothes or drunk to the Mozarteum and ask to get in the concert.

Day 1 - Salzburg 12 - Mirabell Palace Concert

Returning to Mirabell Palace we entered the concert hall, where we saw a nice classical musical concert with a small orchestra of only 2 violins, 1 contrabas and 1 fagott (tube-like instrument).

After the concert we walked to the hostel, stopping on the way to get a kebab. Daniel was out of luck as he didn’t find a vegetarian option. At the kebab shop we were talking with 2 drunk soldiers (how come the only people who talked with us were drunk?).

At the hostel where we had more beers, after me failing to pronounce Stiegel (local beer brand) in proper German way.

Day 2 (Thursday, April 9)

Waking up at 07:00 (on vacation?), we took a nice breakfast in the Yoho hostel, and we rushed to the train station where we got on the train to Vienna.

There were lots of people on the train, and we sat by mistake on reserved seats. An Austrian woman with her daughter came and moved us from the seats. We had to listen to a lengthy conversation of the woman with an old man, out of which we understoon nothing. Daniel noticed two girls on the train which he later saw in Vienna and Bratislava, saying that it was a strange coincidence.

In Vienna we relied again on Daniel’s GPS skills to find our way to Hostel Ruthensteiner, which had a nice atrium. A guy was sleeping in our room (around midday).

Leaving from the hostel dressed as business men (with suits) so we don’t look like tourists, we took the metro to the Old Town and began exploring. We bought tickets to a classical music concert at Kursalon in the evening (student price, although I am not a student anymore).

We had a nice lunch (schnitzel again) and beers, and we went to Hofburg and then the Natural History Museum where we spent a few hours, also having a coffee.

Day 2 - Vienna 11 - Art History Museum

From the museum we walked to Belvedere Gardens where we could not get in because all doors were locked and the wall was too high.

We went to Stadtpark where we had an icecream while waiting for the concert to begin.

Day 2 - Vienna 26 - Kursalon

At Kursalon we were amazed by the luxury and the nice decorations of the interior. Realizing that the guy we bought the tickets lied a bit (he said we will stay in front, but we actually stayed in the front row of the last three rows), we waited almost one hour for the concert to begin.

Day 2 - Vienna 28 - Kursalon Concert

The concert was amazing, with many superb musical pieces like Blue Danube, Swan Lake, Don Giovanni and other great songs. At one point I almost cried because the music was so beautiful. There was also balet and opera pieces accompanying the orchestra.

Day 2 - Vienna 33 - Kursalon Terrace Intermezzo.

During the intermezzo we all went on the Kursalon terrace just like in the old days, with people socializing and having a drink and a smoke.

Returning to the concert we had other great musical pieces.

After the concert we went to a salsa club in Stadtpark where we had a beer while listening to salsa music.

On the way to hostel I stopped to get a hot-dog, and after that we took the metro to the hostel. Around the train station there were so many kebab places that Daniel finally found a vegetarian one for him, and I was regretting that I got the hot-dog earlier. But it was good anyway.

Day 3 (Friday, April 10)

Waking up at 07:00 again we had a nice breakfast in the hostel, and we rushed to the metro station to get to the ferry. By my mistake we ended up in another harbour, and we lost the first ferry to Bratislava.

Having some time to burn until midday when the next ferry would leave, we went to get a coffee at Starbucks, while I explored the city a bit looking for a travelling bag. I entered a nice student bookshop where I saw lots of nice books but didn’t buy any.

After the coffee we went to a pool (billiards) place to play pool (at 10:00 in the morning).

Day 3 - Vienna 04 - Billiards

After the pool we went to a nice Chinese restaurant where we filled our bellies with lots of good food, even though we were trying to save space for the upcoming fancy dinner in Bratislava at UFO.

Day 3 - Vienna 10 - Danube Ferry

Finally getting on the ferry, we were amazed by the hi-speed and took refuge inside the boat. The trip to Bratislava took only one hour and 30 minutes (Vienna and Bratislava are the closest capitals in the world, 60 km).

Arriving in Bratislava we were welcomed by sexy girls advertising a tourist sightseeing tram. We decided to walk to our hostel instead. Trying to get Slovakian currency at an ATM, Daniel got instead Euros and we were shocked and did not know how to pay for a tram. But walking a bit we actually found Hostel Blues on foot.

Day 3 - Bratislava 03 - Hostel Guitar

At the hostel we met with Jonathan and we had some cheap and good beer while talking with the receptionist.

Finally ready for sightseeing we made a detour to McDonald’s for a quick snack, while Daniel went looking for summer clothes.

In the Old Town we did a bit of exploring, and then we went to the castle hill where we saw a nice view of Bratislava. I got some souvenirs (wrapped a thousand times in paper) while Daniel had trouble finding the toilet (probably because of the language).

Day 3 - Bratislava 14 - Castle

From the castle we returned to the Old Town were we had some beers in a nice bar, where Jonathan did not want to leave a tip to the beautiful waitress. We made a stop to a clothes shop were we bought some clothes, and to a supermarket.

Back at the hostel we got ready for dinner, and made a quick stop at the hostel reception for a beer on the terrace.

Leaving by taxi to UFO (also called Taste.A), we got on the elevator up, and first went to the terrace on top to enjoy the view and the sunset.

Day 3 - Bratislava 24 - On top of UFO

At the dinner we were met by an army of waiters, each with their own function. First a waitress unfolded the napkins and put them on our laps. Then a waiter came for the order, and another one for the wine. The prices were very steep (but comparable to Norwegian prices), and we got only starter and main course as opposed to the full 6-course meals recommended by the waiters.

With the dinner came lots of small surprises. First another waiter brought us a pre-starter, a potato-foam with bread. The second pre-starter, a tomato-foam with basilicum sauce, was brought by another waiter. Then the starter came, seared foie gras with ginger bread and honey sauce. The wine went down well with the main course, tournedos of veal tenderloin. Daniel had vegetarian pasta which looked very good. After the main course another waiter brought some chocolate with raspberry, and then we had an espresso. And after the bill being paid we got some muffins in a white bag as souvenirs.

We enjoyed the night skyline of Bratislava for a bit then we took a taxi to the hostel.

Day 3 - Bratislava 36 - Hostel Preparty

At the hostel we changed from our waiter shirts in some party clothes and drank some beers, and later we joined many of the hostel guests to club Charlie’s. During the night we went to KGB but that pub was nothing special so we returned to Charlie’s.

As traditional in Norway we went to get a kebab before going to sleep. Jonathan was so hungry that he went to get a second kebab.

Day 4 (Saturday, April 11)

Waking up around 08:00 all the showers were occupied by our Indian next-door neighbours who each took one hour in the shower. After finally getting in the shower, me and Daniel went to get a nice breakfast in the city, then we got ready to leave to Budapest.

At the Bratislava train station Daniel saw the same girls from the Salzburg train. We were suntanning while waiting for the train, and seeing more people from the hostel arrive at the station.

In the train there were some crazy Hungarian dudes who were screaming and did not let us sleep.

Day 4 - Budapest 02 - Train

Arriving in Budapest we took some money from the ATM, and Daniel tried to change a big bill to small coins at a kebab shop, where we waited almost 30 minutes until the sales lady found someone to change the money.

Walking to the hostel, we took a tram without paying because all the ticket machines we found did not work.

Carpe Noctem Hostel is well hidded inside an old building, but apparently it is the number one hostel in the world (according to hostelworld.com ratings). We were met by a friendly staff who even introduced their names and explained to us all that we can see in Budapest.

Leaving to the city to do some sightseeing, we walked a lot on the Pest side, seeing the Parliament and other sights.

The quick snack at Cafe Montmartre was not enough so we had some traditional Hungarian food in a festival-like place in the center.

Day 4 - Budapest 13 - Easter Festival

On the way to the hostel we stopped at a Puma store to buy some clothes and swimming suits, and where Jonathan was almost locked inside with the sales girl.

At the hostel the hosts prepared a special Easter night with pub crawling and special rules (have a drinking buddy to keep score, drink with your left and with the pinky of the glass, do not say ‘drink’ but ‘consume’, do not point, have a Kinder surprise toy on you all the time etc). This was being taken seriously and talking was being interrupted by people enforcing the rules and making the offenders dri.. consume alchool.

Leaving from the hostel on the pub crawl we walked from pub to pub getting more drunk on the way. At B. City the quota was 1 shot of palinka, one beer in 4 or less sips, and a shot of Unicum. A Hungarian guy was asking me why my drink buddy Manc was happy and I answered that she was happy because of the Unicum and he could not believe it. In this pub we could only talk with the person on the left, so everybody was turning in order to answer.

Day 4 - Budapest 21 - Pub Crawl

Some people were taking extra shots and beers to get more points. The toilets could not be used except in certain pubs or otherwise points were substracted.

Instant pub was the last I saw before taking Daniel to the hostel. The rule here was that you needed to say Jizz in my Pants on every sentence. I did see the next rules being followed, some of which were weird at best: tie yourself to your buddy, kiss a baby (!) (where the hell do you find a baby at midnight on a Saturday night pub crawl) and the game ‘pass the ice cube’.

The taxi driver did not want to take Daniel, probably because he was not in the best stomach state. After walking with Daniel to the hostel, I tried to find a disco close to the hostel the dudes saw earlier but did not find it (later I found out that I was actually there but the place did not look promising).

Day 4 - Budapest 27 - Play

I took a taxi to Kuplung to get Jonathan and together we went to club Play, which was a huge club with 7 Euros cover charge and 3 Euros per beer, and with airport scanner at the entrance. But we stayed there for only 30 minutes, after which we took a taxi to another club, and then getting back to the hostel around 04:30.

Jonathan fell out of bed during the night when the guy who was supposed to sleep in that bed returned, and I found out later that people took pictures of him sleeping on the floor.

Day 5 (Sunday, April 12)

Waking up around 08:00, it was almost no one sober or even awake in the hostel. I went to the train station to get some Euros changed to forint, not realizing that there was an ATM just next to the Exchange Office.

Then I went to a restaurant to get a kebab but was denied because it was too early, so instead I went to McDonald’s where I ate only half of the food.

Returning to the hostel I was hanging out with the guests who were slowly waking up.

Day 5 - Budapest 01 - Hostel

Daniel woke up around 12:00 and we went to the restaurant where I didn’t have my kebab, having a great lunch with delicious food, while recounting all the events of the previous night.

Returning to the hostel we got Jonathan and we set on walking to Gellért Baths, with a quick kebab stop on the way.

Day 5 - Budapest 09 - Gellért Baths

Gellért Baths was a great place to hang out on a hot Sunday afternoon, with inside and outside pool and even a hot pool, and we got some sun tan outside.

Leaving from the pool we went on a sightseeing in Buda, climbing on the hill to enjoy the view and have some gulash soup and "buni", which Daniel thought it means "French fries".

After climbing down from the Buda hill we crossed the Danube into Pest, meeting an American couple from the hostel.

After quickly changing into nicer clothes at the hostel we took the tram to Jam Pub where we arrived a bit late. There we had dinner with Flora and her boyfriend, while listening to live Cuban music.

Day 5 - Budapest 23 - Jam Pub Dinner

After the dinner Flora’s boyfriend took us on a car trip through Budapest, crossing the Danube a few times back and forth Buda and Pest. In the end he dropped us at our hostel, where we packed and went to sleep for only a few hours.

Day 6 (Monday, April 13)

Waking up at 03:30 to get to the airport we saw some people returning drunk from clubs, and dancing without any sound in the living room in the hostel. We said good-bye to whomever was sober enough and left with a taxi to the airport.

We arrived at Torp around 08:30 on Monday morning, and I got quickly on the bus while the other dudes were busy in the tax-free shop. There was quite a contrast between the Norwegian weather and what we experienced on our Eurotrip.

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