Why Are We Here?

I know quite a deep and meaningful thought to have on your average Tuesday evening in August. But recently, I was watching a film with my family (Passenger’s if you are wondering) which my dad commented on that the male character who Chris Pratt was playing, was following through our sole purpose in life: to find a mate and well, mate.

But is that really true? Is our sole purpose in life, why we are placed on this earth, to create more of our kind that consumes this world, eating up our resources and ruining our natural world? Man cannot be placed on this earth, merely to just spread his seeds to create more? Or women to merely be the carriers of our future generation and to mother their offspring?

No, I think the real purpose of our life is to change the world for the better, enriching others on our own life journey. Each individual person has their unique life purpose, varying in style, pattern and direction- some may not even have a purpose but merely ramble the world in awe of its beauty. Some may inspire others, spread positivism and happiness or help others through their work.

How can you reproduce and create more people- adding to the world and the strain of our resources, if you are indeed not happy? Imagine creating more unhappy, negative- evil even- people, contaminating the world with their thoughts and actions. I feel that if we focused more on the world we have now- and who’s already in it- changing it and improving it for a more sustainable and positive outcome, it is a much more proactive attitude for our future generations.

We should look at saving lives; uplifting lives or merely being happy through our own lives doing what we love- if that’s through travel, or working as a doctor, or even having a family, whatever that may be, but finding a partner and settling down shouldn’t be our main priority.

I believe, living our lives to the full and being happy, is the main purpose of our being.

 

Maybe I believe this perspective because I have recently left a relationship which consumed me, becoming my world and stepping out of this, has made me recognise that there is more to life, then in fact our partners. Yes, it’s left me raw and tender, but hell it’s made me stronger in not giving up my own hopes and dreams, ambitions and goals. I realised I lost my true self, my inner being, and now I can focus on what I want in life.

Yes, it’s hard to fall in love and stay strong to your own beliefs, ideals and aspirations without compromising for another, without balancing your thoughts to work with theirs. But not only has this relationship taught me about who I am and what I want in life, but it’s retaught me how to live my life.

So, I’m going to keep being happy and positive about what I do have, and not what I don’t have and hopefully inspiring others, and if I accidentally find love again- this time, I won’t lose myself in the process.

Oslo: The city that has everything

Coming from the sleepy town of Tromso in the Arctic Circle to the sunny cosmopolitan city of Oslo, was quite the contrast, and gave us the opportunity to see what the rest of Norway has to offer.

Surrounded by dense vibrant forests filled with lofty trees that circle calm lakes and thriving by a ferry port that neighbours numerous other majestic islands, Oslo is lucky to be in such close proximity to scenes of nature that can transform your world. Oslo city is hip, friendly and vibrant, filled with architectural delights, fantastic museums and independent restaurants (although we were too broke to eat in any).

Arriving on a strict budget from Tromso, we stayed in an Air BnB which saved us a fortune on eating out. Cooking breakfast and dinner at home and bringing a packed lunch with us made from our new best friend, supermarket Renate, meant that unfortunately we never visited any swish bars or delicious restaurants, but that is what you can expect if you are visiting Norway- it is incredibly expensive. The level of expensive that you pay £14 for one beer. One beer! So as you can imagine, your trip might be an incredibly sober one.

There are quite a few things to see and do in Oslo on the cheap though. We took the time on our first day to walk along the river through the city of Oslo, from the Olaf Ryes Plass in Grunerlokka. At first we found ourselves exploring this trendy district, with chic cafes and trendy bars aplenty. The streets were lined with eclectic street art and unique pieces of statement art which casually were placed in beer gardens around the area. Young locals covered in quirky tattoos in the most random places sauntered around the streets, a common theme in Grunerlokka. Continuing along the river, we passed dog walkers and runners in the sunshine, catching a glimpse of what Oslo is like away from the main rush of the city.

With our second day we ventured out of the clutches of the city and explored the leafy paradise that cornered the city, taking in breathtaking sights of feathery moss, ancient boughs dancing in the wind and dazzling lakes that reflected the rays of sunshine onto the glistening lakes. Instead of hiking, we chose to cycle, hiring bikes from Viking biking for 225 NOK for the day- which although a lovely company and who organised fun and interesting city tours, do not have the most sturdy mountain bikes around!  We made our way to Frognerseteren by metro, heading to the Nordmarka forest. Hopping off the metro, you are immediately placed in the forest, and jumping onto our bikes we whizzed further into the depths of the Nordmarka. The trails are not ideal for a bike, and sticking to the cycle routes meant that we were unable to clamber into the Nordmarka and explore her natural beauty in its finest glory, off the beaten track, so I do advise hiking instead.

However, after stopping for lunch at the traditional lodge Ullevalseter, a delightful restaurant filled to the brim with various trophies and achievements from the man behind the lodge, and having our homemade sandwiches by a nearby pond, we followed the direct path all the way down to the entrance of the forest.  Taking this route, rather than doing a circle on us and backtracking to the same metro station as before meant we avoided hills and were closer into Oslo city than before.

On our third and final day, we explored the sights within the city of Oslo, and most importantly, the cheap ones too! Head over to City Hall, which hosts the seat of the city council. It is adorned with beautiful art within its walls which highlights the culture and nature of Norway as a country, filled with scenes of fishermen and forests. Be wary that the hall closes strictly at 4pm, even locking the toilets at this time (I nearly got locked in!)

Vigaland Sculpture Park is a stunning yet bizarre park to explore, as well as a perfect place to sit back and relax, enjoying an ice cream in the sun. Many locals were sunbathing or having a BBQ in the weather, and being the biggest park in Oslo, there is no surprise why that is so. There are various sculptures dotted around the park, all made from one artist making it the largest sculpture park in the world- all by one artist! Very impressive! Although some of the art pieces are as I said before, are bizarre.

There are a vast amount of museums and art galleries around Oslo, however being on a time constraint and strict budget; we chose to buy the joint tickets to the Viking Ship Museum and the Historical Museum for 100 NOK. Hopping on a local bus, we bounded past scenes of cows and hay stacks to the museum, as if we had jetted out into the west country! It was incredible to see how resourceful the Norwegians were with nearby land, even on the outskirts of the city. The Viking Ship Museum boasts three Viking ships that stand impassive and proud- both in shape, size and architectural design. The ships are impressive, as well as the exhibits, however it would be more interesting to see how the Viking’s lived their life and their influence on the world. Hopping back on the bus we headed to the Historical museum for answers, where unfortunately the shabby exhibits with little information told us very little. It’s definitely not a museum to pay to individually visit, and one that can be improved in many areas, as many tourists remark whilst visiting the numerous museums, “Why don’t they just put all the museums together, rather than having them sparsely located over the city?”.

One building that you must take the time to wonder over to and clamber on top of is the Opera house, a solid pure white marble building that oozes edginess from it’s sharp angles and sophistication from its smooth surfaces. I did find it incredibly ironic that such a white collar entertainment industry had been architecturally designed in this way, but who questions the opera house in Sydney? You are able to sit at the top of the building and breathe in the portside views of the city of Oslo, scattered fjords and beyond.

We found public transport efficient, clean and cheap, I really couldn’t recommend it more. You can download the app on your smart phone and buy tickets for ferries, trains, trams, boats and the metro just by a quick tap half the price! If you are old school and leave your data behind you like me, you can buy tickets from any nearby 7/11 store- and there are plenty! A fantastic travel tip for you if you are on a budget are the 24 hour tram ticket’s you can buy which allows you to validate it when you want to, and are wonderful for getting you back to the airport the next day via a local train, rather an expensive airport shuttle bus or train!

Nepal Travel Video

I loved Nepal. The ornate temples, stunning natural sights of towering mountains and harmonious lakes that fill the skyline, and not to mention the variety of extreme sports. In this video I combine my passion for TV presenting, with my love for travel, in my first travel video ever.

Have a watch and let me know what your favourite part of Nepal is.

Berlin Round 2

It was refreshing to return back to Berlin, where over the years, the city has gained an incredible individualistic reputation, a place to be, create and live.

BerlinTen years on from my initial visit, my new exploration of Berlin somewhat changed my previous perspective of the city. Yes, the city is soaked with history, oozing with sophistication and glamour in some areas, and a living, breathing, story book- but this time, I was able to explore underground Berlin- the nitty, gritty side of it.

berlinStaying in the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg meant that we really were getting to grips with the urban edge of Berlin. Away from the polished streets and renowned architectural triumphs, we were fighting the February elements by graffiti studded streets and raunchy underground sex clubs. A completely different experience to my previous visit of Berlin which you can read here.

berlinBut I had come this time, to explore the artistic flair of Berlin, with which so many expats choose to thrive in, the cultural identity that hipster Berlin has formed, and the world famous nightclubs with their varied and intense music scene.

berlinBeginning our short weekend trip with a free Street Art tour from Alternative Tours in Berlin was the right choice. Starting in the commercial Alexander Platz and led by a young Aussie who had fallen in love with Berlin herself, she took us around neighbourhoods, pointing out established artists- their work and their message, whilst highlighting stories that accompanied the neighbourhood.

berlinAs hipster young artists surged to barren areas of Berlin for cheap rent prices and began to form communities and unique shops and bars, other people followed the artistic trend, meaning rent prices begun to increase. To avoid the costly changes, graffiti and street art suffocates the walls of many neighbourhoods in East Berlin, etching tag names and slogans on buildings that are precariously high and dangerous to reach. Strolling through neighbourhoods, we took in sights of cheap donner shops inviting all to snack, corner shops with towering produce, flamboyant shops selling recycled jewellery and bars that purposefully look shoddy to avoid customers.  You can immediately sense that this side of Berlin still seems separate to West Berlin, by identity and by culture.

berlinMauer Park is a popular tourist attraction on a Sunday and so we headed there afterwards, changing direction from East Berlin, through Central to North Berlin, at the neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg.  The neighbourhood showed us a glimpse of what Berlin is like to those who can afford high rent prices. As similar as to coming out of Shoreditch in London to Notting Hill, sweeping pavements lined with bare trees led us to our destination. We passed exclusive bars and worldly restaurants that actually had tables to sit in- which lacked in many of the restaurants where we were staying.

BerlinPreened and proper locals walked their equally preened dogs along the streets and we looked at each other, as if to question each other- which neighbourhood would you prefer? We headed over to the Flea Market just as they were closing up, where painted portraits of Frida Kahlo, vintage jumpers and classic records were on sale. Glancing over our warm cups of Chai Latte and apple pies, we noticed that very little locals visited this market, it merely being a location where tourists flocked to gape and gawk at (or buy lots of earrings in my case).  Although a wonderful market to browse, do be wary that it might not be as authentic as you imagine.

berlinFrom here we headed nearby to an infamous beer hall, Pratergarten, to drink in the traditional style of Steins and sit in orderly rows whilst glugging their home grown brew. But, alas, it being February, the beer hall was shut, and so we were herded into their restaurant – an incredibly fancy establishment.  It did look like a lovely place to dine and relax in, the décor looked as if to resemble a lavish hunting lodge, however with no reservation and not the budget to eat there either, we sipped our dark beers and regained our strength to move on.

berlinWe spent our final day exploring the key sights that all need to see when visiting Berlin, the Berlin Wall (but the East Side Gallery, rather than the traditional part of the wall kept at Checkpoint Charlie) we saw the messages respected artists left on the walls for the future generations, the original creations left to inspire and educate, as well as the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

berlinWe left little time in our days to see the sights, and all with bleary eyes, aching limbs and heavy heads. That’s only because we spent our nights so vigorously exploring Berlin after dark. On our first night we headed to Wilde Renate, a house party style club filled with weird décor and varied music in all of the rooms, reputed amongst the ravers of Berlin. But in the true traditional style of Berlin, we weren’t allowed entry into the club.

Being rejected from clubs is actually a common thing in Berlin, in fact for the biggest techno club, Berghain, there is even an article on VICE of some of those who have been rejected from the club, for no particular reason. The bouncer at Berghain is notorious for his picky attitude and rude manners, and not wanting to spend hours queuing for a club we might not even get into, we decided not to visit. So it was no real surprise that we were rejected from this club. It could have been the fact that we turned up at 12 when it opened (which we later found out was totally uncool and really you should turn up at 2am to that club), maybe it was because we were in a group (they apparently don’t like large groups), maybe it was because we were obvious tourists, or maybe it was because my friend was seen drinking outside the club, either way- it was a no go. We headed to the bar opposite – which is awesome by the way, although very smoky, so if you are heading to Wilde Renate, make sure you stop here before for a few drinks.

For our second night, we were more prepared and organized for Berlin’s arrogant door staff. We first headed to Icky, a fun gay club. Now this isn’t a gay club which you might be used to visiting in London or any other cosmopolitan city, this was a little more hard core than that. Videos on the walls of… well you get the picture, were unexpected. Ignoring the screens, we made friends on the dancefloor whilst dancing to Spice Girls. Although sticking out like a sore thumb for being a group of tourists, we had a great time and were happy to experience the gay scene in Berlin, albeit briefly.

We then headed to another type of clubbing experience which Berlin is renowned for, a techno club. Watergate was incredibly close to where we were staying, and so it was an obvious choice for us. Making it into this bar/club, we were rewarded by a river view from the bar of the ominous night of Berlin and its stunning architecture that resembled a turret from Harry Potter. Descending downstairs into the thumping dancefloor we saw Berliners really let loose, and joined the sweltering crowd ourselves. Despite the really strict boring dress code which Berliners seem to adopt (black, black and oh did I mention black?), we finally realised and recognised why so many visitors end up never leaving Berlin. They know how to party.

BerlinTo fully explore and immerse yourself in Berlin, you need much longer than just a few days here and there. It is ideal to explore Berlin by neighbourhood, to fully comprehend the sheer size and diversity of Berlin. Make sure you leave time to recover from its wild nights, so you are able to explore its original pieces of art and significant artefacts of history too.