From Syden with love

We have the strangest concept in Norway. It’s called ‘Syden’, and basically refers to all places offering the wholy trinity of Sun+Beach+Bar. Preferably in unlimited amounts.

San Francisco on tap... just the way we like it in 'syden'.

Loosely translated Syden means South, and geographically speaking it can be Greece, Mallorca or the Canary Islands. Even Thailand seems to count as Syden these days… The concept tends to include a charter flight, an all inclusive meal plan and a kiddies club.

Disco for kids is as 'syden' as it gets.

I don’t know why, but this weird concept fascinates me. I have been on several trips to ‘Syden’ as a kid, and whereas I thought I was discovering the world, little did I know that I didn’t actually see Mallorca all those years ago. Or Crete, or Gran Canaria. I was simply placed in a holiday atmosphere in order to soak up sunshine with a passion that only summer deprived Scandinavians can relate to.

 

Taurito valley beach. Sunshine guaranteed.

Three small surfer souls enjoy the Atlantic waves.

Recently I travelled to Gran Canaria to write a piece about a child friendly hotel in the Taurito Valley. And to be quite honest, I was shocked to be back on ‘Syden’ turf. There was cocktail on tap. There was sizzling skin. There was a dining hall which echoed and transformed every single child’s cry into daggers aimed at my ear drums. But nevermind. One doesn’t go to Syden to enjoy the silence. One goes there to come back with a tan and to be able to tell everybody about the endless hours spent by the pool.

This is what Syden is all about @ Taurito Paradise Lago Hotel.

 

From the northpole with love

What? 4pm and time for bed?

– what to do in Oslo in winter –

Unless you’re equipped with a very stable circadian rhythm, I guarantee you will be thrown off balance if you go to Norway in winter. (For those of you who couldn’t be bothered to click the wikipedia link, circadian rhythm basically means your body clock, or how our 24 hour cycle is influenced by our surroundings in an instinctive manner).

Take one look at this picture:

It was shot at 4pm. Yes! Four o’clock in the AFTERNOON! (The building in the background is Oslo’s National Theatre by the way).

Worse still, it could easily have been taken at 9.30 am. In other words, the hours of daylight in Oslo at the height of winter add up to a shameful six hours.

Two of those count as dusk and dawn, so basically you’re left with four hours of daylight proper. And if by now you’re wondering what daylight looks like in a place where people more or less hibernate in winter, have a look below:

Allow me to indulge in this gloomy mood for a little while longer. Because none of this darkness would have had the power to put me to bed in the middle of the afternoon on its own.

As if to add insult to injury, the outdoor temperatures are constantly below zero, sometimes dropping to below twenty. So when we left Spain in order to spend our Christmas holiday with family in Oslo, we did the only sane thing. We stayed in. At least most of the time.

When we did venture outside, we made sure to get up nice and early (would be a real shame to miss those four hours…).

Here are our top four outdoor activities (cause it’s not all doom and gloom):

1. Ice skating at Frogner stadion – we rented three sets of skates, and paid £35 for the whole day which also included the entrance fee. There are several other places to go ice skating in Oslo, like ‘Narvisen’ in the city center. But Frogner stadion is much bigger and has comfortable changing rooms and a place to buy coffee and waffels. Yummy!

You might also like to know that you’re on historic skating grounds. Seventeen of the records from Frogner are listed among the official ISU world records in speed skating

Getting here: Get off the tube at Majorstua Station and walk for five minutes. Alternatively, catch the blue tram (number 12) and get off at the station called Frogner Stadion.

2. Sledging down the 2 km long toboggan run Korketrekkeren – We rented three sledges, three helmets and one pair of heavy duty wintery boots, and paid £38 for the whole day. You should consider a mid day treat at the atmospheric Frognerseteren, where you get the biggest and best apple pie in the world for £6!

The toboggan run is located right next to the original bobsleigh run, built for the 1952 Olympic games. It is lit up in the evening, and don’t be surprised to find that adults are just as eager as children when it comes to this rather original form of activity.

Getting here: Catch the tube line 1, and get off at the end station Frognerseteren. (If you need to rent sledges, you should get off at Voksenkollen station). Then it’s all downhill to Midtstuen station, from where you catch the tube and take it all the way to the top again. A piece of advice is to buy a 24h ticket so you don’t have to pay for single journeys all day long. It costs £6.50 for adults and £3.50 for children.

3. Skiing at Linderudkollen – This is one of many log cabins situated in the forest surrounding Oslo. It is also one of the few to which you can quite easily catch public transport. You can’t rent skis here, so you have to bring your own, or simply enjoy being a tourist and watch the dare devils take on the wooden ski jump. The log cabin has a cafeteria where you can buy typical Norwegian treats like open faced prawn sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and waffle with brown goats cheese.

Getting here: Catch bus 56 from Storo tube station. It will say ‘Solheimskogen’ at the front of the bus, and you need to get off at Linderudkollen Station and walk another ten minutes from there.

4. Snow boarding at Tryvann – To be quite honest, we never had time to fit this one in. Our kids are six and nine, and although most Norwegian kids this age know both how to ski and skate, ours don’t. (They are far better at flamenco and surfing!). However, Tryvann is a great place for those of you who want to get skiing. There are 18 slopes and 11 lifts, and best of all – it’s a mere twenty minute tube ride from the city centre!