Thursday, January 11, 2018

Norway & Sweden a Recap

Since work is still not hectic yet, thought I should update about our Norway and Sweden trip. By far, the best trip of my life! Hahaha. Our honeymoon to London, Paris, Switzerland and Amsterdam held the #1 spot for quite a while until this Norway and Sweden trip came along. Even Santorini couldn't be on top. See how much I love Norway and Sweden especially Norway. I'll talk about the individual cities in a separate post but now, just to recap the whole trip.

Let me clarify my previous post about all the things I bought and plan to bring to occupy the boys during the flights. I ended up not bringing or using most of the things I planned to keep them busy with. Hah. Why? Firstly, I didn't want to carry a lot of things in the end and secondly, my boys slept half of the time and would rather watch a cartoon movie or play with that one or two toy cars we brought or just flip through the flight's magazines or just play with whatever they could lay their hands on. :D

Tips and tricks:
These are just what helped us 'survive' the trip with two toddlers so, it may or may not be relevant to you! :)

1. If you have toddlers with you and you plan to get a taxi in both Norway and Sweden (and probably some other Scandinavian countries), please call in advance so that they can search for a taxi which has car seats for your toddlers. I missed the train in Oslo and ended up walking in the rain in Bergen because we couldn't get a taxi with car seats.

2. With toddlers, we tried to end the day early on most days or start the day later on some days. Not because the boys were tired but because we were also also very tired from carrying either of them and walking for hours. Our bodies started to ache towards the end of the trip so imagine if we didn't get enough rest from the start. Our bodies would probably ache by the third day.

3. I know this trip is mainly catered to us parents, but we slotted in some outdoor play time for the boys just so that they would enjoy the trip as much as we did. So I actually planned to go to at least one playground in every city so that the boys would have a chance playing outdoors every few days. Norway and Sweden have a lot of playgrounds around so it was easy to find one in every city.

4. Lower your expectations to see everything within a few days. It won't be possible with toddlers around. So I planned my itinerary with only a few places to go to each day. Prepare to not even go to the places you had initially planned on going. :/

5. I actually don't really buy or wear thermal wears before this but for this trip, I invested in them because I wanted the boys to be warmly comfortable. (Except that it wasn’t really an investment when they could only fit into it for two winters max if I’m lucky.) And bring two sets for them because shit happens, literally haha. A 100% merino wool one from Icebreaker can last more than a week without washing because they won’t smell at all so by right one should be enough but we got another extra set from Winter Wear (which is cheaper) for the boys just in case.

6. Don't have to bring a lot of cash because almost everything is cashless there. Even the public toilets use card for payment.

7. Are the northern light chases possible with the toddlers? Well, it depends on how your toddlers are but we did it! Not all companies allow toddlers to be on them so check first. Since the chases were all at night, ours slept through so they didn't leave the bus much and didn't cry much. Wasn't too cold for them either because the bus was heated and they were only outside the bus for like 15 mins the most before they continued sleeping in the bus. We were worried they would scream and cry so we prepared some milk, snacks and toys but turns out they rather sleep.

8. Download their public transport app. You can get all the train, bus and tram tickets through the app at a cheaper price than paying cash upfront. BUT we didn't get to enjoy this despite downloading the app because Zai and I don't carry credit cards and debit cards just won't work. :/

9. Buy train tickets in advance. I paid 5 times cheaper!

10. Is Norway expensive? Yes! But kids below a certain age don't have to pay for the trains, bus, trams and even museums so yay! And some tourist attractions are free for all too.

11. Don't bother driving if you're going to stay in the cities because a lot of things are within walking distance and the snow will make driving hard. Plus, the public transports are great and parking is crazy expensive. If you want to drive and chase the northern lights yourself, I suggest not because the guides will have a better idea on where to find the lights. They know the weather best and they know where to find clear dark skies. Driving in an unfamiliar country, with snow and in the dark may not be a good combo. BUT, if you’re adventurous, I say go for it!

12. We rented thermal suits for the boys in Tromso but then realised that we shouldn't have because our winter wear was sufficient to keep them warm. But then again, I invested so much money in their winter wear so it better keep them warm. Haha. The coldest we encountered was like probably -9 degree Celsius during the light chase, which was very cold but bearable because we could hop on the heated bus any time.

13. Tromso, Norway will be good for northern light chases because it's relatively warmer than other northern light 'places' which can go as low as -20 degree Celsius. Plus Norway is big so the guides can just keep driving to chase the light, unlike Iceland which is smaller and an island. Norway has a lot of companies and guides doing the chase but of course, not so cheap la. :/ Tromso is not so ulu and also quite populated so there are many convenient facilities like shops (even a halal groceries store) and a library.

Had to wake them up for this once in a life time shot haha.

I can't think of anything for now so, just ask if you want to know more!

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