Beautiful Ålesund

I visited Ålesund, a town and municipality in Møre og Romsdal county at the west coast of Norway, in April. The reason for my visit was work related, so I didn’t have much time to look around, unfortunately. However, I did find it to be a beautiful city, and I wanted to share some photos i took while I was there.

I hope to visit again in a not too distant future!


Houses by the sea. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

View over Ålesund. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
View over Ålesund.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Ålesund Churc.h Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Ålesund Church.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

View over the ocean. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

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Spa day at The Thief in Oslo

After having some busy weeks (months, actually) behind me, I decided I wanted to treat myself to a spa day. After searching around on Google, I came across a site, where I could buy different experiences online called TrueStory. They offer many different things, but I went for the wellness option, and picked Spa day at The Thief, as it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. The package included a 50 minutes classical massage, entrance to the spa, fruits and tea, and a lunch at The Thief Foodbar. My reason for picking the spa at The Thief was both that it’s supposed to be good, as well as the fact it’s very easy for me to get there from where I live.

Buying the experiense went fine, and I got an e-mail with confirmation, codes and instructions. I’m not a person who likes to phone people, so I e-mailed The Thief, and told which day I wished for and referred to the information I had gotten from TrueStory. Fortunately, they e-mailed me back shortly after, and the day was booked. I made sure to tell them I was vegan, and had a couple of allergies. I had looked at their menu, and didn’t find anything vegan. From experience, many restaurants are willing to make something vegan for you, if you ask on beforehand.

When I found out that the spa, which is actually located in another building behind the hotel, opens fairly early on Sundays, I decided to head there early in the morning. This, I found out, was a great decision. I had my appointment for the classical massage at 10, and had over an hour to enjoy the spa. And the best thing was: I had it all to myself!

The Thief Spa. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

At arrival, I was handed a bathrobe and a big, fluffy towel. I went down to change into my swimsuit, and when I got back upstairs for the spa, the receptionist had made ready some tea and a fruit platter for me. That was very nice!

The spa was slightly smaller than I expected. I don’t know why I had expected it to be larger, but for some reason I had. However, it had what a spa needs. A steam bath, a Finnish sauna, a swimming pool, and tropical showers. It was very relaxing, and I got tea, coffee, and fruits. Water was aviable from a tap.

Unfortunately, but understandable, no cameras were allowed into the spa, so I have no photos from inside the spa itself. There was an area right outside the wardrobes, though, where they do misc. treatsments, like manicures and facials. It looked very nice and fresh to me, even though I wasn’t having any such appointment.

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
The treatment area.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

The classical massage was really nice, and just what my aching body needed! Getting there, I was handed one of this “neat” single use knickers to use. I can’t say I thought they were neither nice looking nor comfortable to wear, but they did their job. The massage therapist really knew what they were doing. I was asked how I preffered my massage, and the preassure was really perfect. The 50 minutes just flew by.

I was given a new robe and towel after the massage, as wel as a scrub to be used in the steam bath. The spa still wasn’t too crowded, and I relaxed with a cup of coffee and the free to borrow newspaper, as well as enjoying the spa facilities, before heading to the hotel for my included lunch.

The restaurant was situated on the roof on floor 9, and had a really nice view over the fjord. It looked nice too, and the staff friendly. I had to repeat that I was a vegan, and I was, needless to say, excited to see what the chef would come up with. The Thief restaurant is said to be a good high end restaurant, but unfortunately, for me it just didn’t deliver.

The view from my table at the restaurant. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
View from my table.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Being served a salad at lunch I find a but boring and uninventive, to be honest. In addition, it was mainly beets. People who know me well enough, know that I really dislike beets (they taste of dirt to me). In adition, it was not vegan when it was served. The cheese itself was a visible and given non-vegan item. I sent it back, but I think they just picked it out and gave me the same plate. This is not something I expect from a high end restaurant. I also suspect some othe other stuff on the plate was non-vegan, and though I tried to avoid the more creamy things, it wasn’t easy. I normally don’t mention my “other” food intolerances/allergies when I ask for vegan food, as they’re non-vegan foods (like cow’s milk). I actually ended up getting ill shortly after leaving the restaurant. I skipped dessert, to be honest, I don’t think they would have anything I could eat, and I was staring to feel unwell.

Would I recommend people to use TrueStory? I would. You can get good deals by using their package solution. They have a ølot more to offer than their “Wellness” category. If I had a wish, it would be that I could have a spa package where there was no meal included.

Would I reccomend people to visit The Thief? The spa, and absolute yes for from me. It was such a nice and relaxing day I had there. As for the restaurant, I would say no. I wasn’t pleased at all by how they treated a vegan guest, and I’m not likely to visit ever again.

This is in no way a sponsored entry, I payed for everything and did all research etc. myself.

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Favourites in Milan, Italy

It has been a while since i went to Milan: I visited the famous city in November last year. I went there for a long week end on my own, and even though I didn’t like it by far as much as Rome, I still enjoyed my stay there. I think that if I had been more into fashion, it would have been a more interesting stay, but fashion really isn’t my thing…

Travelling as a vegan is always interesting, as it’s hard to know whether you’re able to get nice, vegan food or not. However, Milan wasn’t a problem at all, as there were several vegan places to eat, and some of the Italian dishes are vegan by default. Here are my favourite places to eat out in Milan:

Mantra Raw Vegan
Address: Via Panfilo Castaldi 21

I found the restaurant Mantra Raw Vegan pretty much by coincidence. I had planned to go back to the hotel, and wanted to look up the quickest way to get there on Google maps. The restaurant’s name popped up, and I decided it was a place i would love to try.

The Italians tend to eat dinner by far earlier than us Norwegians, so when I got there, there was no dinner service until 19. I didn’t feel too bad, though, as I had had a big lunch. I went for a matcha latte made with almond milk, and a so called “nice cream” they had named Ciot Cream. I went for the chocolate one, and it was super yummy. The matcha latte was very nice too.

Though the restaurant is fairly expensive, even for a Norwegain, it really is very good, so definitively worth a visit!

matcha latte
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Ciot Cream
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Universo Vegano
Address: Via Solferino 41

My very first meeting with Universo Vegano, was when i visited Rome in August 2016. This is an Italian chain of vegan restaurants, and I have never been disappointed by their food. This time around, I had a mushroom lasagna, and i’m not lying when I say that it’s probably the best lasagna I’ve ever had! It was very good! I also had a cake for dessert, but this time around, the lasagna was the true star.

Mushroom lasagne
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Though I visited other places for food that were good, like Flower Burger (where i had a chickpea burger with vegan cheese called Cheesy Cecio), these two were my absolute favourites. I think i would have liked Flower Burger more if it had decent seating, though it’s more of a take away place than anything else. The burgers are good, though.

Have you ever been to Milan? Do you have any favourite places to eat out?

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Harry Potter’s magical world at the British Library – or London for a weekend in February

The first weekend of February we went to London to visit the exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library. The decition of going was made in January, and we booked the trip before checking if there were aviable tickets. When checking the website it turned out it was all sold out. Needless to say, we were disappointed, but decided that a weekend in London would be nice even without visiting the exhibition.

We arrived in London Friday night, and stayed at a hotel near the British Library called Pullman St Pancras, that I got a really good deal on. When we got there, we got upgraded to a DeLuxe room, which was really good. The view from the room was great, and at the end of the hall on our floor, we could see The British Library. The location was great, and the room brilliant!

Photo of hotel room.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Saturday morning we met up with a friend of mine for breakfast. I had been given the suggestion of a place called Vx, which is a shop that prouds itself to be a vegan junk food shop. It was a really small place, but they had a good selection of food and cakes. I went for the Marinara Meatballs Sub, and it was really very good! I also had a chocolate doughnut for dessert.

Marinara Meatballs Sub
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

After breakfast we headed to the Bristish Library to tey our luck. Going to London for the exhibition and not asking if there were any free tickets would be silly, we thought. And we were in luck! There were tickets, and we could enter the exhibition pretty much straight away.

It was a fantastic exhibition! There were rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, as well as original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, and objects from The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall.

Exhebition poster on the wall of the British Library.

On Sunday we went to have breakfast at one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in London: mildreds Kings Cross. On weekends they serve brunch in the mornings, and we went for the scrambled tofu, slow roasted tomato, oak smoked house beans, roasted mushroom, sausage and toasted sourdough. Now, that’s what I call a breakfast! Or brunch, if you prefer… It was a perfect way to start the Sunday.

The big brunch at mildreds.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

After breakfast we went back to Vx, to end our weekend in London with cake! This time I had a piece of the Unicorn cake. It was delicious, but very sweet, so I didn’t manage to eat the whole thing. However, I would love to go back and try more items from their menu at some point. Anyhow, a great way to end a great weekend!

Unicorn cake
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

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Bali, part 5: Last days in Paradise

Unfortunately, my little PC that I had brought with me to Bali decided to act up, so I wasn’t able to blog anymore. A bit annoying, I admit, but not everything is fine again (though I’m writing this on another PC). As you also can see, I have moved. I’m not going into details here, but my blog moved. For various reasons.

So, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at Bali Friendship Café in Seminyak. I was fortunately to be invited to two different places. After attending a CouchSurfing meetup in Seminyak, I got to know some people, which was great. One of the people there worked in a café across from where I was staying, so I went there to celebrate the coming of 2018. It was really nice! Friendly people, good laughs, live music and fireworks! It was great!

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017
Live music at Bali Friendships Café on NYE.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

My original plan was to stay in Seminyak the whole time, but after a bit I realised that I really wanted to see ubud as well. So I booked two nights at a villa there, and organised my travel. And I’m so glad I did! Ubud was such a nice town, and i really wish I had more time there. Two days just isn’t enough! However, I did get to finally see some Balinese dance, which I found fascinating. It was so fun to see, and I disagree with those who claim it to be tedious. I suspect those people for not paying attention.

When I had to say goodbye to Bali, I sure hoped I could go back some day! I think I’m in love with the place…


Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
My villa in Ubud.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
The swimming pool at my villa in ubud.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018
Balinese dance.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

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Bali, part 4: A visit to Seminyak beach

If you google “Seminyak beach” you find pictures of beautiful beaches with golden sand, amazing sunsets, and a lot of praise. Needless to say, I was quite looking forward to my visit to the beach.

The first thing I noticed was: This beach doesn’t look as tidy as I thought it would. Was it last night’s party, I wondered. I stepped into the water, and it didn’t take long before I was “attacked” by a plastic bag that was floating around in the waves. No, the visit to the beach wasn’t at all nice. There was plastic waste all over the place. In the water, and in the sand.

I must admit that though I was well aware of the problems we have with plastic in our oceans, this was in some ways an eye opener for me. To literally feel the problem on my own skin made it just more real. I know that from now on, I will strive to use less plastic, and I hope you will too.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Seminyak beach: Take a close look…
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Plastic all over!
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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Bali, part 3: Visiting Tanah Lot

I had been recommended that Pura Tanah Lot was a “must see” while visiting Bali, so I decided that was something I wanted to do. Via someone I know, I got in touch with a private driver, Dodi (he asked me to mention him on my blog!), who drove me there. Dodi was a funny guy, who had been to Norway and described it a freezingly cold country. Which is understandable, knowing how warm Bali is.

Pura Tahah Lot is a temple built on a rock formation in the sea, and is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. On the coast before it there’s a sort of village, and you have to pay to get into this village. You then have to go through a market before finally arriving at the temple.

The temple is fascinating and beautiful, and I’m really glad I went!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
The entrance of Tanah Lot.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Inside Tanah Lot.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Entrance to the temple site.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Pura Tanah Lot.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Temple stairs…
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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Bali, part 2: Culture, religion and well being

Something I have learnt from travelling so much is that I honestly prefer not to stress too much, and Bali just invites you to unwind and take it easy. You have warm days, even when the rain pours down, so running around really isn’t very tempting.

I love going to cafés, restaurants, and look around. Talking to locals is also fascinating, to get their input on things. You learn so much from it! And Indonesians are so friendly and helpful. I think I might have fallen in love with this island, to be sure!

A visit to Bali and not trying out Balinese massage just doesn’t seem right. Though you can get good deals at the massage studios around the city, I picked the hotel spa. They had a promotion, and it was very convenient to go somewhere so close. The massage was relaxing and nice, and did wonders to my body. It all ended with a small cup of strong sweet ginger tea after I was done.

Religion and belief is very present in Bali. All over the place you find house altars, temples (both public and private ones), statues, and small offerings. The Balinese people are also well known for celebrating a lot of festival, something my taxi driver from the airport could confirm. “We celebrate festivals all the time!” he told me.

The main religion in Bali is a form of Hinduism, and they have a strong belief in spirits and demons as well. The taxi driver told me that like the Hindus in India they believed in different gods, however they thought it was the same god. So there was only the one god, but the god had different names depending on where you were and the situation. Balinese religion is definitively something I would love to learn more about.

When I visited the Nyaman Gallery (more about that later), I had a lovely chat with one of the Indonesian women working there. Of course I had to ask about the little offerings I saw outside every house, and if it was for protection. It was for giving thanks, she told me then. Thanking the spirits, the gods, and pretty much the universe. I thought that was such a beautiful thought.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
One of the many statues you can see around Seminyak.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
You find offerings like this in front of all houses.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Even before I left Norway, I had decided on that I wanted to visit Nyaman Gallery, located centrally in Seminyak. When I arrived, I was greeted by one of the women working there. An exhibition of the street artists Quint was just put up. Quint is an Indonesian artist originally from Jakarta, but he now lives in Bali, and is now seen as one of the most important street artists of Indonesia.

I was given a guided tour around the gallery, with an explanation on who the different artists were, their background and art. The knowledge of my guide, as well as the diversity of the art, really made a good impression, and should you ever visit Seminyak, you really should visit this gallery.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
You can find one of Quint’s pieces outside the gallery.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

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Bali, part 1: Travel and first days in Seminyak

In July I found out the I had the opportunity to go to Bali at the end of December/beginning of January. After a bit of research, I ended up booking a trip to Seminyak, a city on the southern coast of Bali.

Getting from Oslo to Seminyak is a long travel: Three different flights, and it took me about 26 hours to get here. The whole thing started with delays from Oslo to Heathrow, and I was really worried that I wouldn’t catch my next flight to Singapore. Fortunately, it all turned out good. I traveled by Singapore Airlines from Heathrow to Bali, both very nice planes. The seats were comfy, I had vegan food all the way and all was good. The only thing I didn’t like, was the long wait between meals between London and Singapore. Several hours. Probably because of time difference. We had lunch soon after we took off, and then breakfast just a couple of hours before Singapore. I was so happy I had brought a banana and some nuts with me!

Singapore is one of the nicest airports I’ve been to (and I have been to quite a few). It’s not very large, and getting between the terminals is really easy. I left for Bali from terminal 2, where you can find the “Enchanted Garden”: A small oasis of orchids and a pond. So pretty!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
From the “Enchanted Garden” at Singapore airport, terminal 2.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Another photo from the “Enchanted Garden”.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Arriving in Bali was a mixed experience. First I had problems with the cash machine (ATM), only to realise I had forgotten to open up for my card to be used in Asia (a security thing my bank has), and then I couldn’t find the person who was supposed to take me to my hotel. After looking around everywhere and making a call from the information point three times, I gave up and took an airport taxi to my hotel. It was slightly more expensive than what I had agreed on with the private driver, but not horribly so. Apparently the driver had been there, so why I didn’t see him, or why he didn’t hear the calls over the information, I don’t know. Important thing is that I arrived safe and sound at the hotel.

Checking in went well, and even though my plan was to sleep when I got there, I simply was’t able to. I unpacked, and while doing so, I found out that I had forgotten my USB cable (that I use for charging my phone) on the last plane. I cursed myself, and hoped I was able to get a new one. However, I was so tired, I decided to have a nap, before heading out to catch one. Fortunately, getting one was easy enough, and when that was dealt with I decided to eat at the vegan restaurant across the street from the hotel. The restaurant is called EarthXpress, and is a bit expensive compared to other restaurants here, but I can deal. I had a really yummy meal: Chia Charm Bowl. The Chia Charm Bowl consisted of chia seeds marinated in coconut milk and agave, and was topped with purple dragon fruit. It was so good, I really want to have this again soon!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Chia Charm Bowl.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Even though I had slept like a log (at least that’s whet it felt like), I felt exhausted the next day. I decided to take it easy, and went back to EartXpress for breakfast. I gad a Granola Fruit Mix, which was a mix of granola and fresh fruits, and topped with cashew milk.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Granola and fruit mix.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Since I was going to have a relaxing day, I checked out the hotel’s pools. On the top there’s a “Flowting Pool”, which was really pretty, but didn’t really work for swimming. On the ground floor you can find the main pool, so I spent a little time there, which was nice and relaxing. I love swimming, and am in love with my new swimsuit, that looks a little like a dress! I thought I had managed to put on enough sun lotion, and I didn’t spend that much time there, but come evening, I found out my back was really sun burnt! I guess I should have had a sun lotion with a higher SPF than 30, as well as longer arms… Trying to put sun lotion on your back yourself really is a pain…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
The Flying Pool.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
The main pool.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I decided to have dinner at a vegan restaurant not far from the hotel called Tasty Vegan. When I got there it seemed to be a bit hidden away, and situated inside a sort of garden. It was a really quiet spot, and it was really cheap too! I bought a dish with tofu, tempeh, and vegetables in a coconut sauce served with rice. It was called Nasi Kare, and in my opinion really nice. I paid just 50 000 DPR (less than 40 NOK / 5 USD / 4 GBP) for the dish and a bottle of water!

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
A pond inside the garden of Tasty vegan.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Inside Tasty Vegan.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Nasi Kare.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I was not pleased to find out that I was down with a cold when I woke up this morning. I decided to have breakfast at the hotel, and had a simple platter of fresh fruits. After having breakfast, I decided on visiting a coffee place near the hotel, that I found via Google Maps. I was really pleased to check it out, it was such a nice place, and the coffee was really good too! The café is called Koop Roaster and Cafe. After a chat with one of the people working there, I found out that not only do they roast their own coffee beans every morning, but they also own their own coffee farm where they grow most of their beans! How cool is that?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017
Inside Koop Roaster and Cafe.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

I went back to familiar places for lunch and dinner. Had a chickpea burger for lunch at EarthXpress, and a vegan steak (fitting for Christmas dinner, right?) at Tasty Vegan. Tasty Vegan is quickly becoming a favourite of mine here in Seminyak, the staff is so friendly, and the food cheap, but good.

I went back to the hotel after dinner, and decided on having an early night.

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