Copenhagen, Denmark 2013

With a week off from my previous studies we decided to visit Copenhagen as the destination in April. It was frosty, out of the touristic period and therefore cheap but it was a great choice for us!

Reserving a room at the Generator Hostel was a great choice as it’s right in the center of the city with very welcoming staff. One of the best hostels we have stayed in based on price, location to city and facilities offered. We stayed in a private room with bathroom. Highly recommended!

Since we were visiting in early April, the temperature was around -5°c so when visiting the popular Nyhavn, there were hardly any places open and realistically too cold to enjoy a beer outside! The beautifully coloured haven was still pretty to see without the busy scene of the summer months.

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Exploring the city throughout the week we came across the Rosenborg Castle and the beautiful grounds. We never went in but carried our walk towards the Amalienborg Palace and further around the city.

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One thing we were recommended not to miss was the freetown of Christiania, unused army barracks that were taken over by hippies in 1971. Since we were travelling during February it wasn’t as lively as we had expected. Walking around this area was rather quiet and most stands were closed, plus we only saw the odd person who would walk past smoking weed or playing music to themselves. We can imagine this would be 10 times more busier during the summer months, but still enjoyed the experience to be there.

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Walking from Christiania we visited the Church of Our Saviour and decided to climb the 400 steps to the top of the spiral tower. A very pretty church, totally worth the visit and experience!

Some famous statues not to be missed are the The Little Mermaid and the H.C. Andersen Statue, writer of famous fairytales such as ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Nightingale’ and of course ‘The Little Mermaid’. It was good to see that the statue wasn’t vandalised with paint or decapitated, which has happend in previous years.

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As it was so cold we also visited Den Bla Planet, a pretty impressive aquarium and easily to reach with public transport. It has a very pleasant walkway throughout to follow and it’s perfect for families and couples.  It ends with a massive tank where you can just sit and watch, enjoying the different species swimming around you.

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We enjoyed the visit, even with the freezing weather. Maybe a small weekend back in the summer time would give us the full experience of Nyhavn, as well as visiting things we didn’t have time for such as Trivoli.

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Christmas & New Years Celebrations in NL

Spending the Christmas holidays away from family always has it’s hard moments. Missing things like the delicious cooked roast dinner with all the trimmings, all sitting together sharing old family stories and watching the good english comedian shows, followed by a fresh wintery Boxing Day walk. It’s always even harder if I go back to the UK for the holidays too, as not all family members live in one place. So it always depends on who was last, or who I haven’t seen in ages!

The last time I was home for Christmas was in 2014 to the city of Norwich, Norfolk. Time has gone by so fast that it doesn’t feel like it was 2 years ago!

Christmas in NL

However it’s not all bad to stay in the Netherlands for the festive holidays. One of the best things I love about Christmas in the Netherlands is having gourmetten for dinner. A typical Dutch tradition of using a special hot cooking grill on the center of the table, with everyone able to reach and cook their own meal. From the middle of November you can buy lots of mini dishes to cook on your gourmet, such as mini hamburgers, steaks, slavink (pigs in blankets) and marinated chicken slices. You combine your meat/fish choices with grilling your own vegetables too, like peppers, mushrooms and onions. Lastly including a range of delicious sauces and some french bread with garlic butter… and for me also a glass of wine to wash it all down!

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I find that its always very gezellig to eat this type of way as you can take your time with no rush to eat.

Last year we officially had our first real christmas tree in our first official home together. It felt so good to celebrate together and hand up our pretty purple and silver christmas decorations.

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New Years in NL

Once the Christmas festivities are out of the way, its already time to prepare for the new year and set some new resolutions! The week between Christmas and New Years Day is celebrated with listening to the Top 2000, an annual radio programme of the top 2000 voted songs and eating Oliebollen, a warm fried doughnut with raisins shaped in a ball  and topped with icing powder.

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Throughout November and December a competition takes place with all the stalls who sell oliebollen in the Netherlands to be ranked as the best. The Algemeen Dagblad national newspaper will be doing the competition again for the 25th time!  The test includes up to 115 contestants in the Netherlands and each oliebollen is tested based on how well it is fried (fat %), the weight, if it has a good amount of raisins in the mixture and of course if its delicious or not!

Oliebollen can only be bought at this time of year so I usually indulge way too many of them!! (Not so great for next year’s summer body!)

My favourite place to buy oliebollen is in Rotterdam. The stall from Richard Visser’s Gebakkraam came 4th last year, but has been 1st a total of nine times in the competition. Even if he is not number 1, you can still expect to stand in the queue for up to 2 hours waiting to pick up your fresh oliebollen for the New Years celebrations! (He opened at 6am last year and there were people queueing at 4am ready for the first oliebollen!)

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Richard Visser – Source: AD News
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The front of queue at the stall – Source: Rijnmond News

He has become so famous for his oliebollen that his stall has been created for the Miniworld Rotterdam!

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Top 2000!

The Top 2000 is an annual radio show that plays the top 2000 songs of all time. People can vote on the songs which are then played between Christmas and New Years Eve, with the top song of the votes being played just before everybody shouts “Happy New Year!!!”.

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The most popular songs include Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (13 times number 1 and 3 times number 2) and Eagles – Hotel California (2 times number 1 and 8 times number 2). You can see the whole list here! This year Queen has again been voted first!!


The last few years it has rained into the new year, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people heading out to the Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam to watch the fireworks. It’s usually a good show and people are pretty sensible with setting off fireworks in the streets – Just keep your distance to be safe!

Barcelona, Spain 2015

My flight was on time and I arrived in sunny Barcelona excited to see Lennart, who was already in Barcelona for work, so it was a perfect idea to join him for a cheap long weekend.

We had booked ourselves into the Hotel Acta Atrium Palace which is perfect walking distance from the Plaça de Catalunya square. Great hotel with comfy clean beds and very spacious. We tried the pool and jacuzzi during our stay which was relaxing but could of been a little warmer. We didn’t try the breakfast as we prefer going straight into the city and finding a bakery.

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We had a rough idea of attractions we wanted to see, however there was also many attractions that we were personally not interested in. For the first day we decided to just go for a walk, and check out the city and the atmosphere. Since Lennart had already been there for a couple of days he had a good sense of where things were, and took me on a route to the harbour. Las Rambles is definitely the busiest street in Barcelona, even for November! All the tourists were found here. We enjoyed the warm 22c degrees walking with our sunglasses on and a bottle of water in my hand.

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We planned the next day to visit the Montjuïc castle by getting to the top with the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car. We got there fairly early (plus it wasn’t busy at all for November), resulting in us having our own cable car carriage to ourselves! We had a good clear sunny day so the views were good.

The castle was pretty simple, paying only €3 to get in and walk around to the top. There was no café and we had no drinks, so we decided to walk around the castle and walk back down into the city to find some refreshments. Behind the castle we found a hidden family café who only took cash, which we luckily had €5 left, just enough for two cold drinks. If we had more we would have tucked into a delicious pancake or something fresh from their BBQ.

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The following day we headed to Park Guell for a relaxing walk on the hillside through the ruins and gardens. We decided not to go into the paid part of the park, as we had read that its rather expensive and not really so much to see. Plus this was also a popular place for all the tourists so we didn’t want to queue up and wait to get in. We could see parts of the beautiful architecture from our walk around it and really enjoyed our morning here.

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In the evening we headed to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, which was nice to see but after 5 minutes it wasn’t gonna get any more spectacular. They did use some of the latest music which entertained the crowd though. Even in November it was good to get early if you wanted to sit but we ended up standing and leaving before it was ended.

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By the third day we visited the Mercat de Sant Josep. A very colourful place with a large variety of delicious things to eat. We enjoyed walking around it, but didn’t stay long as we were off on another walk around new areas of Barcelona.

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A recommendation of dinner, even though you should be eating some of the delicious Spanish cuisine, we found ourselves a unique indian restaurant near our hotel called the Surya Barcelona. Every chair and table was different with the bar in the shape of a bus. Friendly staff and great service. We must of only spent about €30 in total for our corona beers, the curry’s and a warm nutella pancake for desert. Gezellig!

Our long weekend had come to an end and we were satisfied with all we had seen. However it’s a place we wouldn’t return to so fast due to the lack of attractions.

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Our flight back home was rather rough, with turbulence most of the journey. When it came to landing, the strong winds that had been battering the Netherlands were giving the plane some troubles. We ended up landing with one wheel on the runway, cruising sideways for a good part of it before landing the other wheel and breaking. We always seem to be on the flights that have problems landing. Check out our vacation to Dordogne, where we so close to landing before the pilot took us back up to try again!