I will say this first about Scandic Ørnen: they know how to lay out a breakfast. It’s such a large spread, you are left wanting for nothing! Whyy am I leading with food? Because who does not like a good breakfast!
Don’t be fooled but our breakfast choices, Scandic Ørnen’s breakfast spread is a lot more impressive.
Our room was great; it was a junior suite, and when hotelling, extra space is always nice. More than nice, it is great!
I’m told this is the newest Scandic in Bergen. It shows. It’s well-kept and the daily housekeeping here is certainly done a lot better than they do it at the Scandic Sunnjford in Førde.
I feel that if a client is forking out money on a hotel, especially one with a good name, then the least that client can expect is a quality product and service, as advertised. Many hotels seem to have trained their staff not to do proper housekeeping unless it is a guest’s final day and a new guest is coming in. Or perhaps this is what the staff train themselves to do, I have heard friends that have worked in this sector tell such stories.
I feel that this is not right. A guest is paying a good amount of money for every day they stay, the quality of service should similarly be consistent on all days. If they want you to bring housecleaning supplies so you can clean the room and cups and all, then they should I tell you at booking that it is a self-catering arrangement.
Happily, Scandic Ørnen had that consistent quality. Our room had lots of light streaming in, and while the view was not outstanding (parking lot, haha) I felt that that did not take away from our Scandic experience.
On one of the nights we had a lovely dinner at the rooftop restaurant, the Roast Restaurant and Bar. The views up here were great. I wish I had some show-worthy pics. We had lamb and the portions were very generous. I loved our time there, and I truly hate to say this, but I try to be absolutely honest in my reviews of the places I have been. The lamb was not memorable. Gasp! There I said it.
Unfortunately the desert was quite bland too. Actually that is an understatement. That strawberry soup thing was atrocious. We had the 3-course set meal, and both had the same items, so we couldn’t even each try the other’s meal option. You must be thinking why, then, did she call it a lovely dinner? Because we still managed to have a lovely night. Maybe Ian and I are just great at having a good time haha.
Overall, the Scandic Ørnen is worth your money. The service is great and the staff courteous and helpful. Do not miss the breakfast! That and the lovely room were the best parts of our stay. Check out their rooftop bar and grab a drink. The view of the city from up there is really nice.
Ulriken is one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, and it’s the highest. It’s very close to Bergen Sentrum so you don’t have to travel very far to get to its base.
Many hikers have conquered this Norwegian mountain on foot but we went up by cable car this time because we decided to go pretty late in the day. Also, I’m still only acclimatising to Norwegian weather. It was a much colder day than the 2 days prior and I had not prepared the appropriate gear. Preparation is key! I’m told many people tend to find themselves freezing atop these Mountains of Norway and wind up having an air ambulance pick them up. No ma’am, I am not going to join that league of extraordinary unfortunate beings.
Up we went in Ulriken’s cable car, Ulriksbanen, either Brunes or the other whose name I forget(!) that are named after children’s characters.
The views as we went up were amazing. They only just get better once you get to the top, and get a panoramic view of beautiful Bergen to one side, and firm, looming green-grey mountains on the other. The view at Ulriken that was not so impressive was the never-ending line of people that were queuing up to ride back down to the base of the mountain. We had no intention of hiking down the mountain, not because it was very tough but mostly because as night drew close the temperature dropped even lower. Ulriken tip: expect a very long queue back down and plan accordingly.
If you want to grab a bite…
You can have a snack or dine at a the rather confusing combination of diner/restaurant that they have going on up there. The 2 sections are divided by a curtain. The section I’m referring to as a diner must have been meant for rough and tough grab-a-quick-bite style hikers, I’m not sure. It seems a bit neglected.
The ‘restaurant section’ was well laid out with table clothes and silverware and what not, and turned out to be fully booked so we decided to go eat elsewhere. We had tried calling ahead to book a table but no one was answering the phone. That dividing curtain is what really did me in though. It was this way it looked like it was meant to separate the haves from the have-nots. Perhaps all the restaurant had wanted to do is maintain an elegant looking area for those of their clientele that want an elegant dining experience. However by keeping the less elegant ‘diner section’ so tardy, what they achieved instead with that limp-hanging curtain is a touch of tacky.
Do I seem to be going about this forever? I don’t know, may be I was just hungry and cranky.
The ‘diner section’ did nothing for our appetite, Ian was especially underwhelmed, so we had what looked like a pancake and a cup of tea (which we waited unnecessarily long for because of another Wall of China style queue), took some pics against the gorgeous views and went back to join what was now a somewhat shorter queue.
The best part about Ulriken
The best part of Ulriken for me was the trip up and down. I would go back up there just to enjoy the view. We talked about hiking up there one day soon, probably after we move into our new apartment. Note to self: weather will be freezing around that time, best make that super underwear shopping trip soon!
From Ulriken you can actually hike to some neighbouring mountains like Fløyen, or go do some sky sports.
Overall, I had a lovely time up at Ulriken. Yes, in spite of that paragraph that’s emoting about the restaurant’s have/have-nots curtain, I enjoyed being up at Ulriken.
A few days before my flight in, Ian had called to say that a friend of his had invited us out and another friend to join him on his fishing boat and go catch some lobster. Would I like to go, he asked? Of course I did! I had been very eager to go fishing since my first trip to Norway, and was very excited about this chance. I was happy to go catching lobster!
I need to work on my fishing wardrobe
Come the morning of the D-day, I was up early like a proper fisherman. My eagerness soon suffered a low, as I realised that my wardrobe was acutely lacking in the lobster-catching, out-at-sea department. My Scandinavian wardrobe is only just growing you see. Malta and Uganda are very different climates to dress for. Norway dictates I acquire a whole lot of new wardrobe items, or else I’ll turn to ice. Ian and I had discussed seaworthy wardrobe we felt okay about prior, but on the morning of, practicality (and my need for form fitting wardrobe because of my tall height that looks shabby in loose wear) dictated that we go in a different direction. So jeans it was. Fitting for the occasion considering jeans were originally made and meant for mine workers, so why not fishing?
Fortunately Kristian, our host and instructor to be, had prepared fisherman’s overalls (in a colour so bright my colour-loving African self rejoiced at the sight) and boots. With this uniform on, I was ready for my first day as a lobster catcher.
Traps are set with bait and left out at sea attached to buoys in numerous positions. Sometimes a buoy has more than one trap. The number of traps you can leave out is limited by law.
So how does catching lobster work?
Kristian navigated the boat to the positions where they (himself and his family’s commercial fishing enterprise) set their traps. We reeled in the traps using the pulley, and were very lucky to have a lobster in our very first trap. Most of the catch was crab, we caught lobster in about 2 other traps of the maybe 10 we reeled in.
My designated role was at the gaff, reaching over the boat to take ahold of the buoy and passing it to Kristian to reel it in with the pulley. The traps are real heavy! Unfortunately I have no photographic evidence of this activity that I performed so diligently and with growing skill that Kristian joked, “You’re hired!”
I do, however, have evidence of the rest of our boat duties, Marthe, Kristian, myself and Ian, taking the crab and lobster out of the traps and into a drum.
Catching lobster and crab fish is not for the faint hearted. You’ve got to wear protective gloves for this, especially if you’re new at it, lest you get bitten. These things have very strong claws and jaws and could make off with your finger. As we were transferring the lobster to their own container, I asked Kristian if they can leave peaceably with one another. No they can’t, was his answer. To stop them from biting and clawing each other to pieces, the lobster are bound with rubber bands.
It was un, exhausting work catching lobster and their less fancy counterparts. The crab. I am not embarrassed to report that I eventually got sea sick. Apparently my sea legs need work too! Overall, the day was a success.
Dry skin is a bad news. Often when I fly I spend the whole day moving from plane to plane and it’s such skin-dehydrating business, this flying!
I find myself needing to re-moisturise my hands nearly every 2 hours. If my hands get that dry, I can only imagine what my face feels like! That’s why I do all of thisthe night before I travel. I try to avoid dry skin like the plague.
I’m writing this while air bound right now, and I made a mistake this time round. I was so sleepy last night that I forgot to mask, and only remembered to do so this morning. As a result, my skin is not as moisturised and supple as it would have been if I had masked and laid on the moisturiser very heavy last night. Actually I can’t even remember how much moisturiser I used last night, or which one! This is bad, this is very bad! This is definitely What Catherine Should Not Do!
My mask (a very lucky find I picked up in Norway) is very efficient, sucks out all that bad stuff and purifies, but if not followed with an adequate moisturiser, things may start to go SNAFU. Couple that with a whole day of travel, and I’m definitely feeling the effects.
Being ever the Duty Free shopper, I made my dutiful stop at the cosmetics counter, tried on a few things, and when I pulled my skin back towards the ears as I applied, it’s elasticity was wanting, it looked drier than usual. Thankfully I know just why, and how to remedy this.
Don’t be like forgetful Catherine, be more like the smart-traveling Catherine, your skin will thank you!
The time to start a pro-youth (my preferred replacement for the word ‘anti-aging’) skincare regimen is before you need it. Most people wait until they start seeing fine lines on their face before they start running for the anti-aging products. Wrong. The time to start such a regimen is when your skin is young, so you can keep it that way best as you can, and ward off the effects of time and the elements/environment on skin. By doing this, you give your skin the tools it needs to stay vibrant.
There are a host of substances known to keep skin youthful but I’m going to limit myself to what I currently believe to be the mother of them all. Who knows what God will allow scientists to discover tomorrow!
Also known as Vitamin A, Retinol is in a class of substances called retinoids, known to have a number of great benefits for skin. Retinol is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat the harmful effects of free radicals in skin cells. It also boosts collagen and increases cell turnover. The effect of these actions is a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and the disappearance of hyperpigmentation.
So if you want to keep skin smooth and youthful-looking, get rid of discolouration, reduce fine lines, and generally have firm glowing skin, then you know Retinol in your skincare regimen is a product you might want to give a go.
As a class, retinoids are known to treat acne. I rely on my Retinol serum to keep those annoying Lone Ranger-style pimples at bay. With my Redermic I’ve also noticed that my skin is smoother, more supple and the hyperpigmentation is gone. I was also using one other product to help with the skin tone, which doubled as SPF.
You must use an SPF of 30 or more when using Retinol, as 1) it may make your skin a bit sensitive so you need UV protection and 2) Retinol is degraded by UV so you ought to layer on an SPF moisturiser or use it only at night.
Update your beauty regimen with this gem, future you will thank you!
Find out if your favourite beauty brand has an anti-aging a pro-youth skincare product range and up your routine. Here are some other options as well. Click on the pictures to compare prices on amazon.
*These recommendations are not given as medical advice. Please talk to your physician/pharmacist to find out if you have any reasons barring you from using Retinol.
Skin care can be tricky when traveling. You want to arrive at your destination without looking like you aged 4 years and lost all your lustre. Which is how I felt every time the plane landed, before I figured out these easy tricks of the trade.
I am sharing these pointers to help you keep glowing skin even after a 23 hour flight plus a 3 hour commute to your apartment. Trust me, I have travelled this long more frequently than I care to, and these tips are tried and tested. They have stood the test of time. I can’t tell you how many times I have been received at the airport with, “you don’t look like you’ve been flying a whole day!”
These wonderful tips below are not magic, and I am assuming you already have a daily beauty regimen in place. You must have one if you want great-looking skin. Good skincare products do not work in a vacuum. Help them help you. Consistency is key! If you have no skin care regimen in place, it is never too late to start.
Okay, here we go. 1. Carry a brightness booster.
Something with Vitamin C or Retinol. Make sure to use it the night before and on the day of. [ Just make it part of your regular beauty routine already ☺️] Buy a great serum and you won’t regret it! I have been using La Roche Posay’s Redermic R for retinol, and Redermic C for Vitamin C, and they have not failed me. I have also used Ole Henriksen’s brightening range for Vitamin C. This one’s brightening effect was too strong for me though, and I had to stop it once I realised I was getting lighter than my usual complexion. I like to maintain my complexion.
2. Mask the night before.
Preparation is everything. Air travel used to take such a toll on my skin, and now that I do it more frequently I’ve had to figure out what works for me! Prepping my skin for the ‘harsh’ day ahead is it for me. What’s your invigorating mask of choice? Use it! Simple has some pocket-friendly and very good products. They are kings of sensitive skin.
3. Lay on the moisturiser a little heavier.
Moisturising – this we need to shout from the rooftops so everyone can get it. Moisturised skin is supple skin is happy skin is bright skin.
Very key! Air travel – and really any long duration travel by any other means – can be very dehydrating. The importance of rehydrating cannot be over emphasised. Dehydrated skin looks dull!
5. Take off your makeup for long haul flights.
Or even medium duration ones. If you prefer to have it on during the flight (as I do) take it off during the layover, wash your face and reapply it. This will also give you a chance to reapply that brightness booster we mentioned. Goes without saying, some things belong in the carry-on.
I’m not much of a drinker, and even though I’ll say yes to the occasional glass of wine, on flights I try to stay away from alcohol. Not only does it dehydrate the body, but I want my mind to be at its sharpest when I do air travel. No, I’m not the one flying the aircraft but the number of times I’ve had to navigate a complication at the airport? No, I refuse to be even slightly intoxicated when my plane lands. Also, my skin thanks me. Double win!
7. That beauty sleep
Take a power nap during the flight, your body will thank you.
I’ll be sharing more tips on how to make travel more stress-free, or at least how to look like it’s stress free.
Let me know if you liked these tips and don’t forget to show some love! Let’s spread some sunshine and keep glowing! Please share this post to Pinterest and Facebook if you liked it!
So you are heading to a certain country in Africa, and are asking yourself a bunch of questions: what should I know, how should I pack, should I even be going there! Well, you’re in luck! I have got just the answer to your questions. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your trip to Africa.
Africa is a beautiful place. It is complex, like every place else, and unique too. Like any new place, you want to get there prepared, not least of all mentally.
The right attitude. This is everything.
Are you heading there to explore, as you would a region of your own country you’ve never been to, or are you going there to show how magnanimous you are so you can tell everyone back home about how you helped out a bunch of poor African children and folks? If so, allow me to share with you my special home-made brand of tough love. If you look around your own home country enough, you’ll find many poor people and hungry children. Feed those, for charity begins at home. Why leave suffering people in your own backyard to go help those on the other side of the globe, hm? Be honest with yourself and find your motive, then decide if you want to make a trip to Africa and her many countries.
Check your prejudices at the door. Just because your home is bursting at the seams with all the amenities of modern day living while someone else is living in a mud and wattle house does not make you a better human being than they are. Until you can stand on a podium and say something like, “I invented electricity,” or “I discovered the germ theory of disease” or “I am the original Louis Pasteur,” stay humble. You are not any better than anyone else just by virtue of having been born in a more affluent piece of geography.
Okay, so in spite of my dose of tough love above, or regardless of it, you still want to head to “Africa” and still need some real practical advice. Well, here goes.
Other practical things to consider as you prepare for a trip to Africa
Make preparations specific to the country you’re heading to.
Health – some countries need you to have had a yellow fever vaccination, in many others it would be prudent to start malaria prophylaxis before you get there. Did you know that parts of Europe such as Italy, Spain and others are way closer to the Ebola epicenter than the greater part of Africa? It’s true, grab a map/globe, you’ll see. So if you’re heading to East Africa and have been losing sleep over the likelihood of catching Ebola, you may want to ease up, breathe in breathe out, and do a little more reading about it.
Weather and how to pack – believe it or not it’s not all hot all over Africa all the time. Do your homework, pack accordingly. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Visas – ditto. Do homework.
Security – contrary to what you’ve seen on TV, Africa is not one huge war zone. To be certain of the security status where you are heading (since world leaders everywhere don’t seem to have tired of bloodshed) your country’s foreign missions web pages may have information on the area you want to head to, as well as useful tips.
TripAdvisor is you best friend.
Tripadvisor rich in tips on how to get around locally, what to see, what to eat, where to eat. TripAdvisor will also give you tips on what/who to avoid.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to talk more about what I have shared above, or leave a comment below if you just wanna say hi/ comment. Enjoy your trip to Africa and her many countries!
Traveling is fun but it can take such a toll, mostly because it requires lots of preparation and a heightened degree of alertness because you want to make sure the whole process goes as seamlessly as possible, without hiccups like lost bags or documents.
Here are a few tips to help me you along your jetset life, so you can fly like a pro.
Find out your airlines travel restrictions such as size and weight of carry-on, and whether or not you get a free checked bag or have to pay for it. This will save you time and money at check in.
Make sure you’ve confirmed and double-checked that you will have enough time between flights if you have a connecting flight.
If one flight runs late, ask the flight attendant to help you confirm your gate number for the next flight before you land. If the connecting flight is of the same airline they will probably hold it for you. Many airlines tend to do this.
2. Look great – you’re a brand, put your best foot forward
Yes, I am firm believer in comfort too, but there’s no reason you cannot have both comfort and style. I remember every time I flew through Dubai years back, so many people walking through the monstrously busy hub were so nicely dressed that I would promise myself to step up my game next time I flew anywhere.Same promise, every time even when I felt I was looking quite nice. I flew through DXB again this August and was left wondering what happened to all those nicely dressed folks from just months past! Where are you at beautiful people?
Anyway, I always think about my travel outfit, and it has to be both practical and nice. Practical because I tend to get very cold on flights. Nice because I feel good when I am dressed good. Even when I go casual, it is still a smart casual, and the face is on point, beauty and all. You will never catch me flying in ragged shorts and flip-flops, no disrespect to you backpackers or any other people that fly that way. I have found that people treat you as they see you. If you look unkempt and basic, you will be treated that way. I have even heard of stories of people refused a purchased upgrade to business or first class because they are not dressed proper. Also, I am from a demographic that people tend to disrespect just based on the colour of my skin, so I am not about to give these ignorant people one single reason to look down on me, although if you are well brought-up, how a person is dressed should not determine how much respect you accord them. That may be all they can afford, or whatever their reasons are.
Still, if you can, always look your best. You are a brand, put your best foot forward, all the time. And again, people will treat you better when you’re dressed good.
3. Don’t be that fumbling traveller – have your travel documents handy
Keep relevant travel documents in one place that you can access with ease such as your purse, fanny-pack, or front pocket. Only stow these documents away after you board. You do not want to get to the gate and be fumbling all over for your passport. It’s embarrassing, all these impatient travellers behind you in the queue are looking at you like did you not know you would need those you amateur traveller! Ugh, I shudder to remember those looks. Moving on swiftly!
At some gates they will want to see only your boarding pass, while at others you will be required to present your passport as well. Have both documents handy. Sometimes they will even ask to see your boarding pass or even the passport too as you enter the aircraft. This is probably only for intercontinental flights, but again, only stash away your documents after you are on the plane.
I would have added that you should always add you boarding pass to wallet if you have an iPhone, instead of printing it out, but on several occasions my mobile boarding pass has failed to scan at security and I have had to exit the queue and return to the check-in desk to have it printed out, so I am not going to sing about using technology and saving the forests this time.
4. There is a reason we get to carry on a bag
If you have checked baggage, have at least one smart full change of cloths in your carry-on. Make good use of the carry-on: cash-in case you can’t use a card, a beauty product you can’t do without, medications, electronics, a blanket/shawl if you tend to need one, and again a change of clothes. The world is large, the skies are vast, airports are busy, and people are human and err – all this to say you never know where your checked bag will end up. You do not want to find yourself frustrated and with only the clothes on your back. Which brings me to No. 4.
5. Manners, please.
Do not throw a tantrum at the airline staff when your checked bag does not arrive at your destination same time as you do. Yes, be upset, by all means but stay classy. If you travel frequently and have never had your bags misplaced, then thank God! Sometimes our checked bags have very important items that we need to get somewhere or use quite urgently so it’s very upsetting to land and not have your bag show up on the belt. At this point, however, the damage is already done,the bag is late, best to save yourself and everyone else a heart attack and hope that at least your bag is intact.
6. Travel light, if you can
If you can, travel with a carry-on alone. I almost always can’t, because of my be-prepared for-anything-and-all-things complex. What I have mastered instead is the art of looking like I am traveling light without traveling that light. Long story. still I have found that not having a checked bag saves me a lot of time and keeps me very efficient. The more I do it, the better I get at it.
7. Frequent flier program
Sign up for the frequent flier program, if you tend to use the same airline often. This way you can benefit from their offers. Some airlines have collaborations with other airlines so you can still get benefits from those.
This Mediterranean Island is the ideal getaway for many, but getting from A to B can be so tricky you might want to pull your hair out. Nothing gets me in the feels more than feeling stranded in a foreign land, without the information I need to help myself. I have lived in Malta for a year now and have learnt a few things, so do not despair, I am happy to share!
1. At the airport
If you have nothing arranged prior, take the white cabs at the exit itself. There is a taxi stand just outside arrivals, with standard rates. I have used them many times and they have been reliable. If you know exactly where you need to go, you don’t even need to make prior arrangements, just show up and get the cab.
If you’re willing to sit and spend an hour getting to a 20 minute destination, then by all means, take the bus. It is cheaper. Do this only if you have the time on your hands. Do not say nobody warned you.
If you are already on the island and want to get to the airport, listen very carefully. Take the bus 3 hours before the time you would like to be at the airport. I have seen many frustrated travellers trying to get to the airport, constantly asking the bus driver “how much longer,” and getting the answer “45 minutes” yet they’ve been on it a half hour already. If you base your calculation for the duration of the bus journey on google maps or just the knowledge that the bus takes an hour to get to the airport, you may be in for a rude awakening. Fore warned is fore armed.
Also, you will not receive prior notification of road works on this island. At least I’ve never, and I am subscribed to Malta Public Transport emails, and have the Tal Linja app.
2. The buses in Malta
These, while they have been known to do a very good job, will cause you many a headache some days. Just take that as a given, steel yourself.
Get to your bus stop 10 minutes before your scheduled bus, or even more. Sometimes the bus is early, and it will not wait. Often the bus is late, and there’s nothing you can do except constantly plan for this eventuality which happens quite frequently on some routes I tell you.
I have known a bus I take everyday at a specific time to not show up that day, even after waiting for it for the better part of half an hour. I have known a bus I take daily on my home-work commute to just suddenly take a different route, leaving myself and other passengers heading in the same direction utterly puzzled and stranded, yet we are already on the moving bus. True story.
3. All bus stops are “request stops.”
If you do not flag the bus down it will not stop, unless there is a passenger alighting, I promise you this. Imagine waiting for a bus for 40 minutes, and it comes but drives past you because you did not flag it down, since in your country all buses must stop at each scheduled stop! Also, the sign posts at the bus stop do not carry this piece of information like the ones in some countries do. Crazy, I know! You’re welcome.
4. Tal Linja Cards
More information on these bus cards is available on the Malta Public Transport website. If you’re staying longer than 3 months, I would recommend that you get the green card, instead of the Explorer one. Getting these cards makes transport on the island cheaper.
5. The night bus
It goes at 11:30pm, I believe. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it does not. This is my experience. If you’re by yourself, I would say don’t count on it, plan for an alternative ahead of time. If you’re with a group of friends, try it, see if it comes. It may be your lucky night.
There are alternatives, you may see them in Paceville as you approach the bus stops. Private taxis run a group ride sort of thing, for a reasonable fee.
I am happy to answer any questions about Malta, feel free to leave a comment!
This month I’m back in Uganda, to pick up from where I left teaching clinical pharmacy to 3rd and 4th year university pharmacy students. This is what I was doing before I left for Malta to do my doctorate, and I love this work so I’m back doing it before the summer recess ends and I have to return to being a student myself, doctoral research and all. After this I’ll be heading back to the Mediterranean yet again.
I took this picture in the Duty Free section at the airport, I could wander in Duty Free forever, so many beauty products to try without having to buy them first! The upside to frequent travel is you can try the product and go see how it stays with you for the duration of the day, then decide whether you want to buy it at another airport or next time you go through the same airport, or even just pass it up! 😄
Here, I have on a beautiful shade of Coco Chanel lipstick that I wound up buying ’cause I’ve never had a lipstick in that shade before and I just loved how it popped. Also, its staying power was quite good. I have to try it a bit more though just to be more certain.