sport

Escape to sandy beaches, crystal waters and Mouth watering cuisine

Parador La Huella, A restaurant located at the Beach, just outside the small town of José Ignacio, brings back memory of my visit to Uruguay. The restaurant is located on the outskirt of Punta del Este, also known as the St. Tropez of Uruguay. La Huella is known as one of Uruguay’s number one restaurants with it’s laid back atmosphere, it’s well known sushi dishes and wood-grilled platters and not to mention the location right on the beach front, perfect for a barefoot walk along the sand.

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A year ago just before ester I was visiting Rio Grande Do Sul in Brazil. It is not a town you would spend your ester weekend as most things would be closed and not much happening, so we planned a trip to Uruguay. As Rio Grande is located close to the border of Uruguay we decided to rent a car and drive down. Trying to book a car we realized it was not that easy as all the car rental companies don’t allow you to drive the car outside of Brazil. So we started to look at option of other places to visit in Brazil, but we did not give up on the idea of Uruguay and at the end we found a local company that would rent us a car with the papers needed to cross the border. Then It was the hotel booking. Again, we got a surprise as we would never imagine most hotels would be fully booked at this time of the year. Punta del Este is known for being busy during the summer months from December to March. All hotels in the center of the City was fully booked so we ended up booking a room in a B&B outside of the town. And it ended up being a perfect location for our stay.

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Hitting the road late afternoon on Thursday evening we planned to spend a night on the bordering town, Chui, to split up the journey. Arriving in Chui and checking at the few hotels on both side of the border we realized that it was not only us that had that Idea, so no room available anywhere. We decided to drive to the next town so drove down to La Coronilla. After a few stops and no room available we ended up asking some local people that pointed us in the direction of the beach as they said there would be a hotel there we could check, so we ended up at a rundown hotel that probably was our only option and decided to take it.

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The hotel was in need of some painting and an makeover in my eyes, but well it was a room and a bed to sleep inn. The room had a padlock on the outside of the door and one of these easy locks you just push to the side on the inside. We had to lift the door up a bit to be able to get the lock in place and after shaking some dust out of the woolen blankets it was time to get some sleep.

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We got up early, took a shower in a bathroom that also was in need of some touch up. Looking at the bathroom, It seamed like it probably had been installed with a bathtub before and when they decided to change they put a shower head up in the middle of the wall pointing out where the mid of the bathtub probably had been, so not in the direction you logical would have put it, so with the shower head fixed on the wall pointing out to the bathroom floor and no way to adjust it, it was an interesting project to get some water drops on the body. As we where leaving early we missed the breakfast, but considering the standard of the hotel, we where fine with having our breakfast a place along the way.

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We found a bakery in a town on the way where we stopped for some supply and had our breakfast in the car. It was the only shop we could find that was open this early in the morning. The streets where empty and quiet and only a few person out shopping for some bread.

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We made our check in at the B&B. The house was located just across the road from the beach so it could not have been a more perfect location. It was a small house, nice room and a outside area with a swimming pool and tables where they would serve us breakfast. The host was friendly but only Spanish speaking. With a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and English we all managed to communicate in some way and got some information about the area and the city.

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We took the car and went in to the city center to have a stroll around the town. We walked around in the streets and headed down to the seaside and the beaches that was crowded with people enjoying the sunny day. We tried out some local seafood on the seaside restaurants and had a walk around the more upscale area of the town.

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We found out that a great way to spend our days would be to bike around as we where staying outside of the city center but again not to far out. So with a bicycle it was easy to get to most places that was worth seeing during our stay. So when back at the B&B we managed to organize some bikes being delivered early next morning and we rented them for the rest of our stay and the company would come pick them up at the B&B. It could not be more easy than that.

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Our B&B was located in La Barra. An area with great restaurants and beaches. La Barra is connected to Punta del Este with a Curvy Bridge, so you will get some up and down hill and the most of the road around the area has small curves up and down with small side roads taking you down to the different beaches. A popular activity in the town is fishing and you see it all over. On the pier and down on the beaches. And what could be better than some fresh catch of the day on the grill.

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At the popular seaside playground of Punta del Este, there’s a unique beach vibe for all kind of traveler.

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From the fashionable Bikini beach, where you’ll find sun-kissed, bronzed bodies to more relaxed beaches and not to mention the Playa Brava Beach with Punta del Este’s famous landmark, the monster-sized hand emerging from the sand.

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La Mano en la Arena, sculpted in iron and cement by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal in 1982, won first prize in a monumental art contest that year and has been a Punta fixture ever since.

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Breakfast by the Pool served with ester bunny chocolates, biking around in the city, visit to some of the areas hip beaches, Watching the sunrise early morning walking in the untouched sand, dining at top notch restaurants and time relaxing on the beach was just what we where looking for.

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Punta del Este is well worth a visit. I did not know much about Punta del Este before visiting. I will for sure go back when i have the opportunity. Arriving from outside of Uruguay the best option is to fly in to Montevideo. From Montevideo you can rent a car or take a bus. You can also do like we did and drive from Rio Grande in Brazil and the roads are in good conditions and straight froward easy driving.

 

 

Hiking Galdhøpiggen

I was happy and tired after hiking the Besseggen Ridge and my next plan was to hike to the top of Galdhøpiggen the following day.  I had checked options for the hike and I had 2 choices. One was to start at Juvasshytta and do the hiking crossing the Styggebreen glacier or I could start the hike at Spiterstulen lodge in Visdalen. My original plan was to stay at Juvasshytta but it was fully booked, but I still decided to start the hike from here as It was shorter and I had to drive back to Oslo the same day. So I had to be at Juvasshytta in good time before the first guided tour over the glacier that was 10am in the morning.

I was driving to my hotel and made a stop in Lom on the way. I needed a coffee and wanted to make a visit to Lom Stave Church to see it from inside as last time I passed by here It was closed and I could only see the outside.

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Lom is a municipality in Oppland county in Norway and is considered as the gateway to the Jotunheimen Mountains and the Jotunheim National Park. The municipality contains the two highest peaks in Norway, Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 metres (8,100 ft) and Glittertind at 2,464 metres (8,084 ft), which lie within the park.

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Lom Stave Church, which is located at Lom center, is believed to have been built in 1158. It was extended in 1634, with further addition of two naves in 1667. A few Runic inscriptions can still be seen in the church. The church also contains numerous paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries with religious motifs. Many of the paintings were made by local artist Eggert Munch, a distant relation of the famous Edvard Munch. The church also contains numerous examples of local woodcarving, as seen in the elaborate acanthus scrolls adorning the pulpit. Carved dragon figures on the roof are old symbols of protection against evil. It is still in use as the local church.

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After a long day of hiking and a visit to the local Church I was happy to reach the hotel. I had booked a room at Elveseter Culture and Art Hotel that is an old farm situated in Bøverdalen valley just outside of Lom. Elveseter’s history is linked to a family of gifted craftsmen of Norwegian folk art and pioneers in the hotel and leisure industry. They dared to think differently and succeeded.

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One of the characteristics of Elveseter, is the use of names and symbols from the ancient Norse Mythology. Names such as Midgard, Utgard, Tor and Odin, makes history come alive at the hotel and creates a bridge to modern times.

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I spent the evening having dinner and drinks in the hotel restaurant and a visit to the hotel bar before i headed to my Viking room for a good night sleep.

I woke up early so I had time to enjoy my breakfast before I had to drive to Juvasshytta for my day of hiking to Norway’s highest peak. I bought my ticket for the Glacier hiking and went outside to wait. But as the day before It was rain in the air and foggy and at this elevation with some wind as well, I could feel the cold. I was prepared for the rain but not the cold as it was in June, so I did not bring any gloves. Who need gloves in June, well I realized I would be very cold if i did not have it so I rushed in to the small store as I earlier saw they was selling some clothes. Looking at the watch I had to hurry and tried to get contact with the girl behind the counter to serve me before the others and get the right size of gloves. She came with different type as well, so I just took a pair that was made of wool and was fitting, paid and went out. I arrived outside and everyone was lining up listening to the guide. We needed to walk for some kilometers to arrive at the glacier so they handed out the equipment needed and some had to help out carry the ropes. Arriving at the start of the glacier we had to wait for the guides to organize the ropes and the groups so this took some time. The best decision I had made today was to buy my gloves. As we where all ready the wind got more heavy and it started snowing. The first group went off and we had to wait until they where on a distance before we could go.  The wind got heavier and same with the snow. Galdhøpiggen was surrounded by a white cloud.

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We crossed the glacier and left the ropes ready for the return. Then it was to hike up to the top. It is not a very challenging hike but still some snow so some parts took a lot of the energy. Reaching the top there is a small hut where they sell some snack, coffee and some souvenirs. They also sell stamps that can only be bought up here for the ones who wish to send some postcard home. The weather did not change as i hoped and still with a cold wind, it was quite comfortable to sit inside to eat my lunch.

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So here I was on the top of Norway. Event with the fog, the rain and the snow it felt fantastic and I was happy I got the weekend free to be out exploring this fantastic nature.

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Now it was back in the car and a long drive back to Oslo.

At Juvasshytta there is an alpine ski resort with lift on a glacier, with top on 2200 m.a.sl, the highest in Scandinavia. It is called Galdhøpiggen summer ski center and is open from June and all the summer, when the road is open.

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Some additional information about hiking to Galdhøpiggen:

Galdhøpiggen (English: Galdhø Peak) is the highest mountain in Norway, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, at 2,469 m (8,100 ft) above sea level.

“Galdhøpiggen” means “the peak/spike (piggen) of the mountain “Galdhø”. The first registered ascent was done In 1850 by three local men from Lom, the guide Steinar Sulheim, the local teacher L. Arnesen and the church warden S. Flaatten.

Access to the top of Galdhøpiggen is not especially hard: from Juvasshytta (1850 metres above sea level, 5 km from the summit) it takes about three hours up (including about 45 minute to prepare for crossing the Styggebreen glacier), an hour at the top and about two hours back. Some days in the summer, a few hundred people reach the summit each day. Guides are needed to cross the glacier, but are available every summer morning.

Galdhøpiggen can also be hiked from the Spiterstulen lodge in Visdalen, with a technically very easy, but still somewhat strenuous climb of 1300 m — nearly 4000 ft. It takes four hours walk up, two hours down. From Spiterstulen, hikers do not have to cross the Styggebreen glacier, and hence a guide is not required. Ardent peak-baggers may count three summits on the route from Spiterstulen: Svellnose, Keilhaus topp and the summit itself.

Hiking in Rio

Pedra De Gavea

There’s more to Rio than just the famous Beaches, samba and caipirinhas – the city’s peaks offer an amazing view of the city and have some of the most fantastic urban hiking. So during my holiday in August last year I challenged myself to Hike to the top of Pedra de Gavea. For me this was a bit of getting out of my comfort zone as the hiking includes some rock climbing that is probably not the most ideal when you having fare of heights. The rock climbing is a small portion and considered as beginner level. The part can be done without rope but for safety ropes are recommended and for me a must so we hired a guide from the company RioXtreme that provided all the necessary equipment needed.

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Arriving at the start point the guards warned us that there had been occasional reports of armed robberies on the trail, so this got us thinking that this might not be a good idea. I have been hold up and robbed before with gun so I can promise it’s not an experience anyone would like to have. But despite of this we decided to go ahead and do the hiking. The hike is strenuous and not for beginners. So if you have not done this type of hiking before I would recommend to chose one of the easier mountains in the Tijuca forest.

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Pedra de Gavea is a part of the Tijuca forest that is the world’s largest urban forest. With its elevation at 844 Meters it makes it one of the highest mountains in the world that ends directly in the ocean. The hiking to the top takes about 2.5 hours so we made sure we had enough water and snack to eat.

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A few short breaks was needed along the way.

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Us and the Guide with a nice view in the background. Reaching this point we got the first close-up view of the top, and looking closely at the rock you can see features of a human face. The mountain is surrounded by mysterious legends and stories.

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Reaching where the rock climbing part comes in, a crowd of people where climbing up, so we took a short rest and enjoyed the Bird-eye view of Barra de Tijuca.

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Now being in front of the 30 meter wall that is nearly vertical and getting ready to climb is where the ropes and hardness come in handy.  If you do this part without ropes you better be careful as people have died here from falling. I did my best to not look back at any given time during the climbing.

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And finally getting to the end of the wall, happy I made it this far. The rest of the trail was steep and muddy but not to challenging compared to this Rock climbing part.

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Arriving at the top we where meet with a spectacular view of the city of Rio de Janeiro. A bit foggy but we could still see both Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar. From this view, what is considered as one of the  greatest cities in the world looks more like a jungle surrounded with beaches than a big city.

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After some time at the top enjoying the view it was time to head down again. As most of the part going up is steep going down is a quite big challenge as well and a killer for the legs. The guards had recommended us to get down early. The guide was eager to go fast down so that made us a bit nervous as we where sure the reason was he was nervous as well due to the guards warning about the robberies, so we tried our best to follow his tempo. This made it even more hard for the legs so we where quite happy when we arrived down at the starting point and could rest again. But what a fantastic hike. Next time I’m in Rio I will try out some of the other peaks in the Tijuca forest.

Winter in Oslo

White, Cold and Beautiful

It’s January and mid winter, it is snowing and the city is all covered in white. Here I am, back in Oslo on a business trip. I plan to spend some time during the stay trying out my skiing equipment and my skiing skills and It could not have been more perfect than this.

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The Royal palace during the evening hours. All cover in snow.

The unique about Oslo is how close it is to the nature so my Sunday plan was all about skiing. I woke up early,  took the metro from the City center and 25 min later I had my ski strapped on and was ready to explore the cross-country trails of the Oslo forest called Nordmarka.

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I started my skiing at Songsvann, It was snowing and it was all about finding the right ski wax to make sure not to spend all my energy on going backwards instead of forward, as I wanted to take the trail to Ullevålseter that is mainly uphill. After some struggle uphill and re-waxing half way, I made it to Ullevålseter and had a rest at the Cafe with some light snacks and refreshments before I returned back to Songsvann station taking the metro back to town.

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During my week i returned back to try out the trails at the evening hours as some of the trails have flood light to 10pm in the evening. Being out in the trail after the dark has a magic feel to it.

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With the easy access from the City Center you can go Cross-country skiing in the evening and end it with a nice meal at one of the many great restaurant in town or just go for some fun after skiing in the city of Oslo.

If your looking for some more adventures skiing you can head to the Oslo Winter park.