Kristiansand Zoo – Why We Always Return

Kristiansand Zoo 30 km south of Oslo i Norway is not just an ordinary zoo. It’s a zoo, wilderness experience, themepark and waterpark all rolled into one and that is the reason we keep coming back.

The zoo oudates me with 10 years (without revealing my age) and when I was a kid I always wanted to go there, but never got the chance to (took forever to drive in those days). I guess you can say that that left me with a lifelong quest to finally go there.

When my son was little over a year I finally had a reason to go, and from our first visit we simply fell in love and in our first season we returned 10 times (with a total of 5,5 hours of driving for a return trip, that is considered crazy..). The next couple of years we went even further and bought season passes.

The reasons why we fell in love with the place are plenty, and here are just a few:

1. The animals

Of course, it is called Kristiansand Zoo, so I have to start with the animals. The place really focuses on animal welfare and they are also a part og global breeding programs and I also love the fact that the animals have plenty of space and you are not guaranted to even catch a glimps of them. The wolves, for instance, we are only able to spot like 10% of our visits.

2. Pirates

Kristiansand Zoo has their very own pirate, called Captain Sabertooth and he has both his own village, pirate boat (in which you can join and fight another pirate ship) and he also has severeal freebee shows during daytime in the summer and an evening show (extra cost) in July. Need I say that we have been to his show around 7-8 times?

3. Cardemom Town

Cardemom is a small village inside the zoo, that is based on the very popular children’s book “When the Robbers Came to Cardemom Town” by Torbjorn Egner. Here you can visit the houses of many of the main characters and in season you can even stay the night in one of the houses. Several times a day during summer, the characters also come alive and play out some of the scenes from the book. In Cardemom town you can also buy legendary cinnamon buns.

4. The Huckybucky forest

Huckybucky forest is also based on a book by Torbjorn Egner; “Claus Climbermouse and the other animals in the Huckybucky forest”. Her you can take a train through the forest and watch scenes from the book played out.

5. The Waterpark

The waterpark is located next to the zoo and you have the option of either buying a combination ticket to both parks or standalone tickets. The first year the water was freezing cold, but now it’s better and last summer they even made an artificial beach here. In addition you have waterslides, an obsticle course, wace pool, baby slides and an indoor pool.

6. Crowds

Or, lack of crowds to be more specific. In the zoo (granted that you stay away from the feedings and freebe shows), you can find spots where you are more or less alone. Also, there are plenty of picnic areas where you can enjoy food you have brought from home. During winter they sometimes also make a fire where you can warm your own hot dogs.

7. Amusement park

Kristiansand Zoo also has an amusement park with obsticle courses through the forest, lotteries, carousels and much more..

8. Playground and petting zoo

In the park you can find several playgrounds for the younger ones. It aldso have several petting zoos where you can get up close with goats and pigs.

9. Hotels/cottages

If you want a stay-over you have plenty og offers. Across the street you have a nice hotel with a heated pool and right next to the entrance of the park you have the Dyreparken hotel, where all the rooms have an animal theme. If you want to live like a pirate, you have Abra Havn close by (here you will get a visit by pirates every morning during summer) and next year they will also offer tree cabins (can’t wait to try these out…).

I sincerely hope I have been able to transfer my love for Kristiansand Zoo into this post. It is really a haven and a perfect spot for me that are not really a fan of big crowds and long lines. The ticket fee is a bit steep, but once paid most of the avtivities inside the park are for free.

Christmas i Dubai 2018 – The forgotten lunch

One of our definite favorite lunch spots at JBR is Windbreaker at Hilton Jumeirah Beach. Ok, it might be because of it’s location which is incidentally at our hotel.

Anyway, today we sat for a long time waiting for our food that never arrived. After an hour I asked my botfriend what he had ordered and he said he hadn’t ordered anything, but thought I had. I assumed he had ordered since I left him with the menu and instructions on what to order for me, to go to the bathroom. But, to his defence, he was close to having a heat stroke when we entered the restaurant and dis not even notice that they came and took the menu without him ordering anything.

But, it did work out and wi did get our food, which was delicious as always.

Christmas in Dubai 2018 – The Happy Hour Extravaganza

Sometimes it is just about chilling in a bar, eating burgers and watching football. Tonight we are hanging out in McGettigans at Hilton Jumeirah Beach and have just recovered from Crystal Palace flooring Man City (marvellous, considering I am a Liverpool fan).

Now we are waiting for the highlight of the evening; the match between Man U and Cardiff. Even though I truly hate Man U, I have a real soft spot for my fellow Norwegian, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the new manager, so tonight I find myself with a strange, new feeling… I am actually cheering for Man U. Go Sunny<3

Christmas in Dubai 2018 – The Brunch Experience

In Dubai, Friday Brunch is a big thing and the one Al Qasr hotel is considered one of the best (the best if you ask me). From the moment you are met by golden horses in the pathway leading up to the entrance, you simply just know that you are in for a treat.

From an earlier brunch

At Al Qasr Friday Brunch, three restaurants (Arboretum, The Hide and Al Hambra) have gotten together to give you the culinary treat of a lifetime,p. Here you will find live cooking stations preparing food from all over the world as well as cold cuts in every shape and form, sushi, oysters, patés and of course a couple of rooms with different kind of desserts.

After stuffing ourselves with food and champagne (+plenty of diet coke on my part), we went to the festive market at Madinat, where they have live entertainment (christma#ps songs), market stands with all sorts og christmas things, mulled wine, 0,5 meter hot dogs (I kid you not and a little part of us wished we haven’t been so full) and christmas hats. The children could have a snowball war or go for a sleigh ride.

Since pictures speak louder than words, here are a few from both this year’s brunch and previous ones at the same location.. Enjoy, and if you are doing just one Friday Brunch in your life, do it in style…

PS! It is just one venue that can beat the Friday Brunch at Al Qasr and that is the Christmas Day Brunch in the same spot. We usually celebrate Christmas Eve, but this year, to spike things up, we decided to go for Christmas Day instead. When in Rome, do as the Romans and all that (or in this case: When in Dubai, do as the Brits..).

Christmas in Dubai 2018 – The Breakfast Battle

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, our first breakfast at the hotel was a bit of a stressful experience. Arriving at 10:30, there was a really long line (which incidentally several people ignored and just marched directly into the restaurant, but fortunately they were caught and re-directed back in the line). After waiting aroud 15 minutes for a table, we were allowed into the over-crowded restaurant with new lines for everthing from omelettes to pancakes and toasts. I don’t exactly thrive under these conditions and my boyfriend later said I had the look of a hunted deer throughout the whole meal. I ended up with just a roll and some salmon and promised myself never to be so late for breakfast again.

Today I woke up at my usual 6 AM. Breakfast didn’t start until 7, and I also added 30 additional minutes to not look too eager, before entering the breakfast restaurant. Alone, I might add…my better half was pretty much unconsious that early (not an earlybird). Anyway, today the ambiance was much better. No stress at all and I could just walk straight up to the cooking station and order a customized omelette and make myself a toast. Perfect!

Christmas in Dubai 2018 – First Day in The Sun

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Alas, so my first day in Dubai has come to and end I must confess that (as usual) Dubai has delivered on all levels. Well, maybe except for the breakfast experience… Since we arrived at the hotell at 2AM, we tried to sleep in and were not on our way down for breakfast until 10:30. There we were met by an insane long line, which is very unusual for me since I tend to arrive when they open for breakfast.

After breakfast we went straight for the beach. The best spots were of course taken so late in the day, but we did manage to secure some really good spots to the side of the main beach area, where we could freely move our sunbeds around after the sun. The sea temperature was about 22-23 degrees, so perfect for a colder-than-most Norwegian.

Since last year, the hotel had gotten an app where you could enter an order of food and/or drinks and it would be delivered at your sunbed. How we were able to survive all these years with a manual beach butler is a mystery (irony, for those who didn’t get that, but jokes aside; I very much liked the new app).

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After a few ours of sunbathing, regular bathing and reading, I started to get bored and decided to go for a slo Z2 run on the beach. The pace was awful, but I choose to blame it on the uneven sandy conditions. I also managed to get a couple of ugly blisters, which one should think were impossible given that I was running barefoot.

After the run, we had about 30 minutes in our room before we headed out for a walk. We ended up in Blue Waters Island, a brand new peninsula by JBR, with hotels, condos and restaurants. From here you can see the Jumeirah Beach Residence skyline perfectly.

On our way back to the hotel we very much enjoyed all the Christmas decorations along the way. Back at the hotel we went for happy hour at Wavebreaker before ending up at The Grape Escape for raclett and fondue. Here we met a couple from UK who were living in Dubai and they had the most interesting stories to tell.

Tomorrow it is time for one of the highlights of the trip, namely the Friday Brunch at Al Qasr. I cannot begin to describe how much I am looking forward to that..

Stockholm Marathon – Storm and heart problems, but third time’s a charm…

First time I tried to run the Stochkholm Marathon was in 2012. Race day started out with heavy rain and stormy conditions and it hadn’t been so cold on June for almost 100 years (#luckyme). As if that was not enough, I had come down with a cold and was a bit feverish. Safe to say the conditons were not exactly excellent,

At 10 km I was soaking wet and at 20 I start loosing sensation in my fingers. At 25 km, most of my fingers were blue, and I started to fear for my life. At around 30 km I caved, and surrendered to the medical personell who brought me back to the starting area.

It was a real downer to get a DNF (Dod Not Finish) on my resume, and I was a bit bummed out when I later went for dinner with my boyfriend and a couple of collegues who had actually made it through. In a moment of severe lapse of reason (with his finisher’s rock in his pocket; they did not start with medals until 2 years later), my boyfriend managed to mention his favorite quote later that night: “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts for ever”. Safe to say I could have killed him on the spot, but I settled for a promise to myself that I would eventually complete this course.

The next year, I was about to try again, but ended up at a cardiologist right before the race due to chest pains, so had to forfit once again.

The chest pains turned out to most likely be benigned, so then I signed up for Stockholm Marathon for the third time. This time I finally made it and was 5 minutes away from setting a PB. This year they also started with real medals instead of rocks with bo other function than serving as a door stopper.