Ah Europe. I miss the days I could book a flgiht/buy a train ticket just a couple of days in advance, hop on a plane (or train) on the Friday of that same week, and in 2-3 hours be in a COMPLETELY different city. As I study and scramble to keep head above the water with all the commitments and insane projects, tests, and deadlines I have in school, I find myself constantly reminiscing about the year that just passed. The time I was on my year abroad in London (read my tips on that here). It has only been only 3 and a half months since i've been back in Singapore, and already the memories from my exchange feel so distant.

Europe in a year. What a wonderful year it was.
From my internship in Paris to living for a whole year in London. I thought being away from home for a year would be too long, and that living in Europe for a year would give me sufficient time to explore the continent or learn more about the region, BUT I WAS WRONG. I could live here my whole life and still be fascinated - just like how after 21 years in Asia, I'm still as excited to go out and explore a different part of the region, and there is still SO MUCH I have yet to see!

Anyway, i thought i'd pay homage to my travels in Europe and come up with a list of 5 cities i'd love to revisit again.
I have been asked countless of times which are my favourite cities in Europe, and I never say just 1 city (the list goes on until I'm sort of telling my life story). So, are the 5 cities below, my favourite European cities (that i've travelled to/toured)? Maybe? But I can't say for sure. There were so many beautiful places I visited in Europe (Italy, Barcelona, Scandinavia - see what I mean about going on and on), and so many OTHER places I want to visit.
These 5 cities could be here because
a) I didn't spend enough time when in the city when I was there and had "unfinished business"  or
b) I want to experience everything all over again, or probably both. All I know is, I enjoyed myself in these 5 cities, and would steal ANY chance to go back!

O N E:  C O R N W A L L

With places like Cornwall, the pictures itself would make anyone want to go there. Seriously though. That gorgeous skies, the beautiful beaches and, cliffs and bluest of water. Everytime I read a cornish blogger's blog, I ask myself "why am I not living in Cornwall?!" Cornwall is so huge it doesnt really classify as one city. I've only been to west Cornwall, and even then I wouldn't mind going back. But i'd love to visit South Cornwall someday, heck maybe i'd jump on a plane, spend a couple of days in London, go to Cornwall and spend 2 weeks there. Someone please buy me an air ticket!
Cornwall is a place I will not hesitate to revisit if I get the chance to be back in the UK.

T W O:  B U D A P E S T

If you saw my post titled Not Enough Time in Budapest, you would have guessed this. Budapest is a city I want to revisit just because there is so much to do, and I didnt get to do all that I wanted to. Also, the Daunbe River is but the most gorgeous thing ever. Walking around the river and looking on to the Buda (or Pest) side of it is something I could do over and over and over again.

T H R E E:  I N T E R L A K E N

One of my biggest regret after my trip to Interlaken was that I did not get to go up the Swiss Alps.
Touristic or not, everyone has done it, and it has always been my dream to visit a mountain, experience what its like to see the snow caps of the alps. Learning about the mountains and rivers during geography lessons have only fuelled my appreciation and love for all things nature. Sadly, I didn't have that much time in Interlaken and it was rather pricy, somehow the situation led to me not being able to visit the Swiss alps.

I'll definitely have to visit Switzerland again someday - and Interlaken would be a stop in that itinerary!
To be honest though, one can never get enough of Switzerland. Its just incredibly beautiful! The landscapes are PHENOMENAL. Mountains, Greenery, rivers, the blue skies, it doesn't get any better than that!

F O U R:  B E R G EN

I don't know why but despite spending the most time in Bergen during my Scandinavian solo trip, but I still want to go back! Visit the neighbouring fjords - another spectacle that one can see over and over again - climb another mountain, I don't have specific reasons why I want to go back, except... I just do? It's a really lovely, chill, city, if it wasn't that cold (and expensive haha!), i'd totally live here!

I must say though, I wouldn't want to go back alone. I'd love it if I had company so that I can try out the different cafés and food options in Bergen!

F I V E:  A M S T E R D A M

Amsterdam...The first city I visited with Jerald, the first city I visited as a tourist, the city that made me fall in love with traveling in Europe! Amsterdam was so much fun, windmills, canals, autumn flowers, burgers, cheese markets, I would relive this experience again and again - I actually do, every time I see an image of Amsterdam's canals.
+ The people in Amsterdam are so nice and friendly, and they are EXTREMELY FLUENT in English - Yay to no language barrier.

Rotterdam is another Dutch city I'd love to visit someday, if I ever do, I'd not hesitate to stop by Amsterdam again!

One other country I loved that i'd want to visit again include CROATIA. Croatia is my ULTIMATE FAVOURITE European country. But I couldn't identify ONE city to revisit, plus, if I ever do go back, I would definitely want to see other parts of Croatia that i've never been to! The nature, clear blue waters, food and PRICE POINT is AMAZING in Croatia.
P.S. If you've never been to Croatia - just forget about the cities listen above and just go. Save up and go to Croatia! You wouldn't be disappointed!

Sadly, a return flight ticket to Europe would cost $1000 and my limited university student budget isn't going to cut it, so for now, it's more of exploring the neighbouring cities, seeing more of Asia learning the different cultures, visiting exotic places in South East Asia, and exploring the place I call home. Hopefully soon enough, I can make such a list for Asia!

Ah, selecting pictures for this post got me all nostalgic about my year abroad.
Explore, dream, discover indeed!

5 European Cities I'd LOVE to RE-VISIT!

29 October 2015 Europe

View from the top of Mount Floyen in bergen

Little Update: EXAMS ARE FINALLY OVER and I can officially say, "HELLO SUMMER!!"
Im heading to a couple of eastern/central european cities next week and I'm definitely excited about the warm weather and getting to explore again. But, I have yet to share all of my spring travel trips with you guys (oops!)
I blame the one month of exam preparation! Being on a year abroad and travelling as much as I did meant that I had a TON of catching up to do for finals. So, for the last month, I did nothing else but study. Well, study and watching an occasional YouTube-video for a break.

Anyway, it's all over and I'm back to blogging with probably my final post on my spring solo Scandinavian trip.

Image of the back alleys of bergen

Whilst I was in Bergen on my solo-trip a month ago, I went up Mount Fløyen for a panoramic view of Bergen and part of the Nordic Sea.
Bergen is surrounded by 7 different mountains, and there are so many options when it comes to hiking and getting an amazing view. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a mountain-climber/hiker, nor am I a person who is great with directions (leave me to hike up a mountain alone, and I probably wouldn't make it down).
Even though I imagine myself to be as cool as the main character in Into the Wild, I am not. My mum was adamant that I should not be hiking alone.
Thus, the most convenient way for me get a panoramic view of Bergen and to imagine I'm exploring a mountain was to head up the most touristy mountain in Bergen - Mount Fløyen.

As I was navigating my way around, I realise I was upwards at every turn. Turns out, once again, I failed at map reading and was heading up towards Mount Fløyen instead of the Fløibanen (the funicular that takes you up). I had half a mind to just wing it and head up on foot, when I chickened out upon realising that I had no wifi, and my maps might not work since there aren't any hotspots up on a mountain. So I headed back down and took the funicular.
Better safe than lost on a mountain, they say (by they I mean my brain cells haha!)

Entrance to the floibanen of bergen norwayTaking the floibanen up to the peak of bergen norway

The funicular went up to the viewing point in a couple of minutes, which was rather surprising. I expected it to take a lot longer.
Upon arriving at the viewing gallery, everyone rushed out to the edge whilst marvelling at the wonderful view.

Thankfully, I went up early in the morning which meant fewer tourists, and more photo opportunities!

Panoramic view from mount floyen of bergen norway
Panoramic view from mount floyen in bergen norway
Panoramic view from mount floyen in bergen norway

The viewing area is so wide that walking from one end to another, you get a great 360 view of Bergen and even parts of the Nordic Sea (?) It was brilliant!
Being a moderately chilly spring morning, the clouds were thick and low such that they float by occasionally engulfing the view,  leaving the little peaks of mountains and tiny houses below, behind the trees.

Panoramic view from mount floyen in bergen norway
Panoramic view from mount floyen in bergen norway
Panoramic view from mount floyen in bergen norway
Trees and view from mount floyen in bergen norway
Trees and view from mount floyen in bergen norway

Eventually the clouds got so thick I felt like I was swallowed in the middle of one huge cloud cover. As the wind blew them towards me, I could feel myself walking straight into it.
It was a pretty odd feeling; similar to walking in smoke, except not quite.
It was sort of smokey and misty without the crappy burning smell I would say. Well, basically, I liked the feeling of walking into clouds.

Thick cloud cover in bergen norway on mount floyen
Girl taking a photograph of the view on mount floyen

After admiring the view to my hearts content, I decided to take a little walk into the woods and mountain pathways marked out on Mount Fløyen. Most people who go up on Mount Fløyen do it solely for the view, and rarely venture past the viewing deck. So heading into the "woods", I was completely alone with no one in sight.

Everytime I see something resembling the woods, Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift pops into my head, and I start humming to myself.
Are we out of the woods yet, are we out of the woods, are we in the clear yet are we in clear yet good ~

Trees and woods of mount floyen in bergen norway
Children playing in the spring snow on mount floyen

I walked past tall evergreen trees and snow covered ground making squishing noises with my boots and leaving deep indented footprints on the snow covered pathways.
As I was wandering, I manage to spot quite a few families having their morning hike. Little children playing, running around, and tugging on each other, whilst parents sit at a corner sipping tea or strolling leisurely behind them.

rustic children play ground statues on mount floyen
statues on mount floyen

Going down another path, I stumbled upon the weirdest looking statues and the most interesting signboards with sayings like "Don't scare the baby dinosaurs" or "Beware of Witches". When I first saw the dinosaur notice, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT IT WAS REAL.
I know. Silly. Because they're extinct.
In my defence, I thought they meant some sort of a wild animal that looks like a dinosaur, you know, one of those flying bird like dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Yeah. So I was a little apprehensive strolling around all alone.
I told Jerald about it, and of course he had a good laugh at me.

yellow and white painted dragon eggs in bergen norway
wooden sign boards and warning signs on mount floyen in bergen norway
Trees and woods of mount floyen in bergen norway
Trees and woods of mount floyen in bergen norway

Regardless, it was a lovely morning spent up on Mount Fløyen. I just wish I lived in Bergen or grew up in Bergen. That way I could go on family walks in the mountain, have campfires up here (there was leftover campfire wood all around!), and pretend to find dinosaurs or meet witches on brooms.
With my over active imaginations, I'm pretty sure a 5 year old carina would love to spend her saturday mornings up on Mount Fløyen!

Panoramic view from Mount Floyen in Bergen
Panoramic view from Mount Floyen in Bergen

If you're ever traveling around Scandinavia alone, and want to spend sometimes among tall trees, whilst admiring a picturesque view, head up Mount Fløyen! If you're a tad bit more adventurous, you could choose to walk up, or if you're one of those ala Reese Witherspoon in Wild kind of people, you could consider hiking up one of the other mountains. I'm pretty sure the view is just as incredible :) Who knows, maybe up on another mountain, you could attempt to look for hobbits, and talking rabbits instead of witches and dinosaurs?

Into the (Snow Covered) Woods + Mount Floyen Panoramic Views

9 June 2015 Fløyen, Bergen, Norway

I cannot emphasize how beautiful Norway is. I have always known Scandinavia was gorgeous, especially from the multitude of photos online. But nothing I've seen in pictures has prepared me for the beauty I saw through out my days in Norway. From the bus rides, to train rides and fjord cruises, it was perfection. I finally understand the beauty of God's work and why the term "natural" beauty exists. For real, Mother Nature is the most beautiful.

After everything I saw through out my whole scandinavian trip, I thought that was it. Especially since my final bus ride to the airport too provided me with a first class seat to "stunning view of Norway" part 10 (that's the title of the movie in my head). This was until I got on the aeroplane and it started moving.

Typically airports are pretty blah. They have the usual runways, maybe some interesting looking architectural buildings (ala the tower in Singapore airport) but nothing too special. Most people just await the point where the plane flies high enough so you get a nice aerial view of the city, bonus points if it is a night flight. BUT, this lift off from Bergen Airport made me want to both cry and squeal with delight at the same time. It was like a short film.
We first started off beside lush greenery and blue waters (I know!! How?! What?! Omg!) and then after the plane took off, you get the most stunning view of the islands dispersed around the Nordic sea. When the plane entered a cloud, I thought that was it. End of the movie, but no. We emerge from above the clouds to see a nice sunset and probably the prettiest thick fluffy cotton candy clouds I've ever seen. It felt so unreal. Like magic. But it WAS real and the clouds were moving. Occasionally the clouds would separate and reveal part of the ocean and more tiny islands; like a game of peek-a-boo. Eventually we cruised high above the clouds and the sun gradually disappeared beneath the horizon as the night crept in.

I highly doubt my words fully captured what I was trying to express, so here's a pictorial description in chronological order. 

bergen airport runway
bergen airport take off
bergen airport plane taking off
norwegian waters from the plane
view of norway from the plane
airplane in the clouds
sunset view from the airplane
view of the sky from the aeroplane
gorgeous view of the sunset and clouds in the sky
aeroplane view of the sunset and clouds
best view of norway from the clouds
airplane take off view
sunset from the plane
best plane take off views

Norway was impressive right from the beginning till the end of my time there, right till I left the Norwegian airspace. 

Photos were taken on my iphone6.
Although it barely captures half the beauty of what I saw (plus has some annoying reflections off the plane window), I had to share this experience! 

Best Plane Take Off Ever - Bergen Airport, Norway

6 June 2015 Bergen Airport, Flyplassvegen 555, 5258 Bergen, Norway

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