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August 1, 2011

13 budget tips for Oslo



It’s quite upsetting and sad to see what has happened in Oslo.

I was there only a few weeks ago.It’s the most unlikely place on earth where you could have imagined an act of such terror could take place.

There is no right or wrong place for terrorism anywhere but Norwegians are some of the most peace loving, easygoing people you will meet on your travels.


It’s a beautiful city and despite my budgetary restrictions, I really enjoyed this city.

It definitely needs some love from travellers and even though these are difficult times, there never has been a better reason to go now and support them.

Make a stand against terrorism by travelling.

Follow my tips below of where to eat, sleep and visit and you can make the most of this city



1)Where to stay in Oslo: Comfort Hotel Xpress


Cost: 299kr per night if booked in advance


Comfort Hotel Xpress Oslo Norway


My top tip for staying in Oslo is cool, design and budget friendly hotel – Comfort Hotel Xpress. Booking in advance you can get rooms for 299 kr which is around £35 which for Oslo is amazing value. Plus within the deal you get a very snazzy, modern clean bedroom, carpetted floors, warm fluffy pillows, a nice sized plasma screen TV, nice bathrooms and excellent free wifi. The hotel lobby also has a great chillout area with magazines and a 50 inch plasma screen plus coffee machine where you can have unlimited espressos and cappuchinos. It’s in a great location just a 10 minutes walk fromOslo’s main train station.


2) Stockpile the booze on the flight or at Duty Free


When you get off the plane-follow the mad rush to the duty free. Or even buy booze at your departure airport or on the flight. Do not wait till you get to Oslo. From 5pm, supermarkets stopping selling beer and wine, after 8pm-you cannot buy it anywhere.


3) Buy the Oslo Pass


Cost: 430 Nok for 72 hours


I invest in a 3 day Oslo Pass which is 430nok. (£50) It covers a lot of the main musuems featured in this article, pays off after a few visits plus you can enjoy free transport on bus, trams & you can hop on the 91 ferry boat to Bygdoy


4) Visit Bygdøy Island

Bygdoy Island, Oslo


35 Nok: Boat 91 to Bygdoy


A perfect day trip from Oslo is a visit to the Bygdøy Peninsula which holds some of Oslo’s top attractions in one small place.

You can visit by bus or the scenic way is to hop on the boat 91 leaving from Pier 3 in front of the City Hall. It takes 15 minutes, and the service runs from mid March to mid October. It costs 35 NOK which is roughly £4. Or free with the Oslo Pass.

Bygdoy has a quaint, rustic feel with a rich history. Highlights here are The Norwegian Folk Museum , the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki, Polarship Fram and the Norwegian Maritime museum. These are clustered together in a small radius making seeing everything simple and easy.



5) Bygdoy Island top tip: Kon-Tiki Museum

Kon Tiki Museum, Oslo


65 Kr or free with the Oslo Pass


While the masses of tourists gather and coo with delight at the Viking Ships at the Viking Ship Museum ( which is awe-inspiring) many people bypass the Kon-Tiki museum.

This is a special museum which is the embodiment of one man’s bravery and extraordinary vision to cross the Pacfic Ocean on just a reed boat. His name is Thor Heyerdahl . He was a scientist, adventurer and environmental campaigner. The Kon-Tiki Museum is his lasting legacy of the original vessels and artifacts he collected from his world-renowned expeditions. His recreations of the prehistoric voyage to Easter Island showed that early man had mastered sailing before the saddle and wheel were invented.

You can see the original Kon-Tiki raft, the reed boat Ra II, check out an exhibition about the Tigris and an Easter Island exhibition that includes a 10-metre replica of a statue from Easter Island.

The museum also has a film screening room and souvenir shop.


6) Nobel Peace Center  


Nobel Peace Center, Oslo


80Kr free with Oslo Pass


In the light of the recent terrorist attack, the center takes on a even bigger significance. It seeks to promote popular interest in issues relating to war, peace and conflict resolution – in Norway as well as abroad.

Beginning on every hour there is a guided tour which is free and the guide is very informative.

You can discover all about the life of Alfred Nobel and also about the Nobel Laureates. It’s a very interactive, hands on kind of museum which makes it great fun for kids and big kids alike.


7) Norway Resistance Museum

Norwegian Resistance Museum, Oslo


100 kr is the entry fee, but its free to enter with the Oslo Pass.

Even if you and your partner are not a museum person, you will enjoy this place.

You get an indepth history of the World War II resistance movement in Norway and includes information on the Holocaust.

Displays are in English and Norwegian. It’s a moving tribute and account of how a nation under occupation organized themselves and stood upto the tyranny of the Nazis. There’s also lots of thoughtful mentions of the allies who supported Norway during the resistance.


8 ) Munch Museet

Munch Museet, Oslo


Entry fee: 75 NOK, free with the Oslo Pass

Oslo has a great selection of museums but for me the standout museum is the Munch Musuem.  Edvard Munch bequeathed a large portion of his work to the city before his death in 1940, and this great museum is the result.

‘The Scream’ is the painting most synonymous with Munch and for many is the standout painting in the exhibition.

However there are some incredible works on display here like “Dance of Life” (my favourite), “Winter Night”, “Jealousy”,”Eye to Eye”,and his “Self Portrait with Paint Brushes”.

Munch’s art is incredibly intimate, the subjects painted are revealing which makes it very accessible to even the most casual observer and lover of art.

I left the exhibition stunned, my mind filled with all kinds of imagery and a portrait of a wonderfully, talented but tragically flawed genius. I dare you not to fall in love with Munch’s art after seeing this exhibition.

A must Oslo see.


9) Vigeland Park


Vigeland Park, Oslo. Angry baby (+man!)


Vigeland Park is scattered with 192 sculptures in total.

The park is Gustave Vigeland’s artistic statement about the quintessential themes of life and relationships.

It ranges from the very expressive like the Angry Boy (in picture, no not me, the wee boy above me) to the monumental Monolith: containing 121 figures at a height of 17 metres it symbolizes man’s longing and yearning for the spiritual and divine.

Madman or genius –whatever you make of sculptures this is a unique display and very much worthwhile visiting during your Oslo visit. Plus its free.


Where to eat in Oslo


10) Lunch in Grunerlokka: Mogador Cafe

Mogador Cafe , Grunerlokka, Oslo


In Grunerlokka I visited Mogador – an Afghan run café slightly off the beaten track. They serve a nice selection of tapas and meze and it’s reasonably priced. The service is pedestrian so you have to have oodles of patience. The food is however worth the wait. I tuck into a Lamb curry with rice, spinach and salad.

Cost: 159nok. A nice cool glass of Beer for 41nok


11) Cheapest possible snack in Oslo? Deli de Luca


Pasta Salad and Tiramisu: Deli de Luca, Oslo


The chain of coffee , delicatessen shops called Deli de Luca is relatively inexpensive. I got a salad with Pesto Rosso and a slice of Tiramisu for just 75 nok. That’s the cheapest possible snack in Oslo.


12) Pizza craving? Move over Pizza Hut and Dominoes, check out Peppe’s!


Oslo Central Station I bumped into a franchise ofOslo’s favourite Pizza chain: Peppe’s.

There’s handful of them across town.

Two slices of Pizza and a coke for 79 NOK. Bargain for Oslo. Plus free wifi. Great.


13) The Last drop: Bohemen


I discovered this pub by chance looking for somewhere to watch the football. It was absolutely packed to the rafters with football fans, plastered with football memorabilia from tip to toe and plasma screens in every corner. Every football team in the premiership I think is represented here by the local fans. Manchester United fans outnumber everyone which is understandable given the Norwegian association through native Ole Gunner Solsjkear.


Price Check: Pint of Frydenlund: 54nok.


There was good banter amongst the watching locals and I felt really at home in this place. Supposedly it’s Travel Channel: Ian Wrighty’s fave hang out inOslo.  If you are a footy fan in Osl and looking for a place to watch the game here- Bohemen is a local institution not to be missed.

July 29, 2011

Budget Places to stay: Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi





Amongst the rickshaws and crowds of Old Delhi, travellers might be forgiven for forgetting Delhi has a sky, let alone the Yamuna River. But go north, to the New Tibetan Colony, and you can stay by its very edge.


Majnu ka Tilla, Tibetian Colony in Delhi



Accommodation here is not expensive. This writer stayed in a twin room at the Wongdhen with a river view for Rs. 375. The scope for bargaining, however, is lower than Pahar Ganj and there are far fewer hotels to choose from. Travellers should also be prepared for the narrow, twisting lanes of the settlement.


While the original purpose of the Colony was simply to house refugees, today it has become an outpost of Tibetan culture.

Prayer flags dominate the skyline, and every second person seems to be a monk.

In general, restaurants here retain a distinctly Tibetan menu and are clean, cheap and good.

As well as chow mein, try momos (stuffed dumplings), thukpa (chow mein in soup), shabalay (spring roll cum Cornish pasty), fing (vermicelli) and tingmo (a steamed bun eaten with gravy).

For the genuine Tibetan experience, it’s impossible to escape trying Tibetan tea (tea with yak butter).



The Colony is situated outside of the centre, and travellers should be aware that the Colony lacks some conveniences, not least an ATM (the nearest is at Delhi University).

From personal experience, this writer ventures that monsoon is not the best time to stay: river flooding caused all Internet facilities to shut, and at one point part of the street was shut off due to the fact a stray wire had electrified the puddles.


Nevertheless, for more leisurely budget travellers the quieter atmosphere can be worth the journey.

The area of Majnu Ka Tilla is not without charm: colonial buildings fester away in the undergrowth, boys play cricket on the road, and Delhi University is close by.


Furthermore, a rickshaw to the nearest metro, Vidhan Sabha metro costs Rs 15 local price but it is also possible to walk.


July 29, 2011

East Timor on a budget: 5 tips




East Timor, an ex-Portuguese colony, is a tropical island just one hour north of Darwin.


Getting there


Once you have overcome the initial panic of seeing the odd shell of a firebombed car by the side of the road, and one or two burned out villas on your ride in from the airport, is does get better, a lot better! A taxi from the airport to Dili, no matter where you are staying is US$5.

Standout features?

There are beautiful early 19th century Portuguese villas scattered throughout the hills overlooking Dili, and the coffee everywhere in town is exceptionally good.


Where to sleep


I’d recommend staying at the La Esplanada Hotel on Beach Road. Its friendly, the AC works, and there is a great pool to relax by when you most need it. A double room will set you back USD$75 a night with breakfast. Bookings are best made via email at[email protected]


Where to eat


Castaway Bar and Grill (Beach Road) is exceptional value and a fun, lively place to hang out. They serve mostly Asian fare and Jeffrey the owner, is one of Dili’s most enduring characters. An Australian, he arrived in Dili as a contractor in 1999, at the height of the conflict with Indonesia, and never left. Most of the meals at Castaway are between US$5-11.



The beaches in town are nothing to write home about but once you leave Dili they are simply gorgeous. There are no amenities so take everything that you will need for the day with you. Don’t leave anything of value in your car and make sure you leave the doors unlocked.

The SCUBA diving in Timor is world class and Dive Timor Lorasae, an Australian owned and managed organization; operate two of the fastest boats in town. Contact them at [email protected]


About the authorKeith Hockton


I was born in England but spent my schooldays in Malaysia, Borneo and Singapore and I have just moved back to Malaysia after living in Sydney for the past 10 years. I have no idea where home actually is but I like that idea, and love the idea of just traveling and writing for the rest of my life.


Food is a large part of my travel experience and Malaysia has some of the best in the region. Penang, where I now live, has arguably some of the best fare in the country.


Prior to pursuing a career in freelance writing, I wrote a SCUBA diving travel book for Australia, “Atlas of Australian Dive Sites, Travelers Edition”, published by Harper Collins, and I was in the investment banking industry for longer than I would like to remember. I’m a qualified Master Diver and a technical diving instructor, and I was actively involved in the clean up Australia campaign, where I organized teams of divers to help in the cleaning of Sydney’s beaches and waterways. Something I hope to emulate in Malaysia or at least help with.


I have written articles for the New Straits Times and various other magazines in Asia.