Oslo, Norway

Day 21, Wednesday 10/10

Waking up this morning knowing we had reached the end of our Hurtigruten adventure was bitter-sweet. We never like ending a cruise, but we had experienced such a wonderful time and we were excited to see what was next.

Thankfully we booze-packed our luggage the night before. So when we woke up it was really just our carry-on we needed to have sorted. Due to a miscommunication on our end, we were not out of our room by 8am as you should be and so we were in a bit of a mad rush to get sorted. G had already started looking at the weather in Oslo, to see if we would be getting back to warmer weather!

After we left the boat and headed to the bus which would take us to the airport, I was able to hug and give a kiss on the cheek to the exploration director, she was absolutely wonderful and I think she made the trip as good as it was!

Our bus ride to the airport was another cramped experience. Honestly, as majestic as the return trip would have been on our cruise, I think I am in desperate need for some wide-open spaces and need to get away from lines and crowds and rudeness and staring (seriously, four days is about my limit).

During our booze-packing last night, I seemed to have the insight that my luggage would absolutely be over the 20kg limit. We are flying with Norwegian Air Shuttle and I think this is the airline with the least amount of luggage permissible. I bought an extra two kg’s and thankfully came in with 400grams to spare. We cooled our heels at the airport for a couple of hours and we were able to say goodbye to our wonderful dinner buddies, Ros and Wendy – two beautiful souls from Adelaide who we had connected with on the trip.

As terrible as this sounds, honestly knowing we would not have to handle the aggressive behaviour and poor social skills of 75% of the guests on the ship had the same effect on us as too much champagne. As we boarded our bus and drove off towards the airport it was bitter-sweet. We could not believe that this journey which we had waited years for, was over. Just like that. What an adventure!

Once we made it to the incredibly tiny airport in Kirkenes, we had a few hours to wait before our flight. Our flight to Oslo was quite quick and to look out the window and see the beautiful landscape change so drastically was amazing. I guess given the 1800km stretch of land between Kirkenes and Oslo, was roughly the same as Cairns to Brisbane (with very little change in the landscape in comparison in terms of seasonal change), it was mind-blowing to see such huge changes.

Landing in Oslo was amazing, that airport is just phenomenal. We had less than 24 hours in Oslo and given our exhaustion we were so glad we had decided on the train into town for our very brief stay.

As we carried our gigantic backpacks, day packs and all of our de-robed jackets/scarfs through the streets we immediately realised that Oslo was a city we would return to one day. After spending a week in very cold, sparse areas of Norway it seemed a shame that we had only one night in Oslo.

We made it to our hotel, immediately received a room upgrade (this was so welcomed and so appreciated!) and then I decided to spend an hour in the shower. Washing, scrubbing, exfoliating, shaving (!) and basically stretching out in the gigantic shower-bath. I typically hate shower-baths, but after very cramped quarters on the ship, I was so excited to be able to reach behind my knees!

I decided to accompany my shower with 90’s music, a bottle of Limoncello (had only intended for a small glass but once I realised the extent of my wild-woman body-hair, the bottle quickly became necessary. An hour slipped away easily and as I emerged feeling like some glamorous, post-Arctic-circle siren – I threw my thermal leggings in the bin, dumped my empty Limoncello bottle on top of it, threw my hair into a top-knot and was ready for our express Oslo tour!

NB: ‘Tour’ means us legging it for as far as we can go in one direction, then coming home. Usually involves several stops at drinking establishments. Always completely worth it, as we always come across the prettiest places and sights, and all for free when you’re walking!

 

Our walk was warm and pretty and we could visibly see the seasons changing and I wasn’t wearing thermals! Yay! We hoofed it to Kampen and then walked back to Tøyen and then found ourselves standing outside what would quickly become Grant’s favourite part of Oslo. Way Down South. Hello, American BBQ. After all of the fish which I had consumed, and the Sheep’s Head we quickly tried to forget, it was for the best that my red-blooded man had come across a restaurant famed for their trays of meat.

*Edit – I have since become a vegetarian and I also believe that eating my weight in salmon and also seeing my Husband consume the head of a sheep had something to do with it. Oh, and the white/blood sausage, but that’s for a future post!

EUROPE - 947The hospitality was amazing, it was our favourite thing to do – banter with the Owner and Staff (our highlight was meeting the lovely Jim himself, enjoy delicious food, enjoy each others company and then go for a long and slightly tipsy walk home. We both left with our amazing #stretchypants t-shirts, full bellies and without the guilt, we perhaps should have felt, about scarfing down American style ‘Family Pickins’ platter BBQ in Norway.

Oslo was such a brief stop and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think of it often. One day I hope to return and spend a lot longer in Norway, explore the family heritage and throw ourselves into everything this beautiful country has to offer.

Thank you, Norway, for everything you shared with us, for all of your beautiful sights and for planting within us a seed to revisit. It will take us a few years (maybe ten or twenty) but we WILL be back!

Thank you for reading my post! I am a Brisbane based creative and blogger. I do not receive payment for my blogging, and in the event, I have been gifted any products and items, I will always mention this. I live with my Husband, make hand-crafted household and personal eco-friendly items, accessories, and provide photographic services when requested.

If you enjoyed my post, I would be so appreciative if you left me a review and liked this post.

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x Courtney x

 

 

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Organic Beauty Wipes – worth the hype?

I have long been the woman who uses her fingers to put makeup on, has the one brush for anything in powder form, and approaches skincare like a male farmer in his fifties (water and soap, right?).

I know that I should have started a skin-care regime years ago, lord knows my mother encouraged me too (sorry, Mum). Every now and then I have been somewhat committed but then, of course, I get bored with the whole thing. My bathroom is smaller than most people’s, the counter surface is minimal and the last thing I need is 50-thousand different products cluttering up the area, so anything deemed excessive or complicated gets the boot when I am cleaning.

Recently I decided to add to my collection of sewn products and try my hand at beauty wipes, and you guys I – AM – CONVERTED!

I have used these beautiful wipes for cleanser, exfoliant, toner, in applying and removing face mask products, I have even used them as nail polish remover pads.

If you are at all interested in making a purchase, I would be so thankful and chuffed! Free Domestic postage is available, Afterpay is available and $1 from each sale is going to Black Rainbow Australia for the month of June, I really want to crack my $100 fundraising goal!

x Courtney x

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Thank you for reading my post! I am a Brisbane based creative and blogger. I do not receive payment for my blogging, and in the event, I have been gifted any products and items, I will always mention this. I live with my Husband, make hand-crafted household and personal eco-friendly items, accessories, and provide photographic services when requested.

If you enjoyed my post, I would be so appreciative if you left me a review and liked this post :).

Gratitude Day 2 – Health

Gratitude Day 2 – Health

I guess that ultimately, given it is meant to be an essay on gratitude, this should be positive things about my health, so here goes.

I am alive and for all intents and purposes, I am healthy. I am able to get around day to day, I have no physical diseases etc., I have overcome several health issues, have gone under the knife many times and struggle with shoulders and knees and my spine – but in your thirties, who isn’t struggling?

I am thankful for my hearing, music and conversation are my main loves.

I am thankful for my eyesight. Nature and all of the things around me I love to look at. Always. Photography, reading and looking at those I love, I have my eyes to thank for all of these.

I am thankful for my height. I wasn’t always, I was gangly and tall and weird, sort of just standing out like a long, white-limbed, red-headed weirdo. I love being tall it taught me to stand up for myself, my posture is strong, I don’t need a little set of stairs or a stool to reach anything. I see more people. I observe others. I do not get lost in a crowd.

I love that I have the physical ability and more importantly, I am thankful for my physical ability. To be able to explore, to feel the grass under my feet, to wrap my arms around those I love. To feel the sensation of rain on my skin, wind at my back and sun on my face. How could we not be thankful for these gifts?

I am thankful for having a sense of taste, for a multitude of reasons. The sense of smell, possibly more than the sense of taste for me. The sense of smell is so unique to each of us. Memories which come rushing to the surface when we smell something we love. The ability to smell danger is also so important.

I am thankful for my heart and my soul for always being strong. For being determined. For marching forward despite their setbacks.

I am thankful for my brain for although she brings me trouble daily, she is doing her best to improve. I overthink, but I have the ability to think. I am sensitive, I overthink things and I am intuitive beyond a fault, but at thirty-three, my ability to sense absolutely BS and run the other direction is a wonderful thing to have. I although distressed, am as equally thankful for my brain’s ability to recognise distress as it is and try to pry its own hands out of its own clutch. To fight for normality. To fight for peace. To always fight to be better. Oh, dear brain of mine, you bring me so much confusion and yet I know that after thirty-three years you are doing your absolute best to grow with me, to support me and to love me.

We aren’t there yet, but we will never stop trying.

x Courtney x

Thank you to everyone who read and responded to my essay yesterday! I had no idea that a little reflection on my awesome-foursome family would get such a strong reaction! To be honest, I also had no clue that my essay would automatically share to my Facebook page, so it was quite raw and honest!

 

My #instabreak (read: #instarelief)

A week and a bit ago, I decided to deactivate my travel Instagram page, @courtney_brisbaneblogger. It was a choice I battled with over and over and for the first couple of days, I honestly was not sure if I had made the right choice.

Now I can honestly say, I made the right choice. I am not waking in the morning and checking Instagram, worrying about the stats. Worrying that I am not getting notifications from the same people, being disheartened by the lack of engagement.

I miss the contact of several people, absolutely – but for the sake of my mental health, I have to tell you – it is the best choice I could have possibly made. I absolutely want to get back on there one day, although I wonder if there is, in fact, a way to clean-out my followers and those accounts I am following – without re-activating my account.

….

So I waited a week before I continued this post, just to see if my opinion had changed at all. It has not, thankfully. This last week I have been able to concentrate on my business, my work, and my I.R.L friends. I have not been caught up in algorithms and phony human-contact, hashtags, and scrolling through the same photos over and over again.

I can slowly feel my creativity coming back to me, I felt porous, leached dry of any genuine creativity when I was playing such close attention to my lifestyle/travel IG. There are quite a few people I have connected with, through text and message – those who genuinely understand the need for a break.

What I find to be completely amazing though, is the gorgeous woman who started our niche #gram tribe, also was going through the same thing! I had no idea when I was at our meetup (the night before I deleted/blocked everything) and looking at this incredible woman in the flesh, that she too was looking at taking a break. I’ve just checked and yep, this woman -who I really admire, has also taken a break from the gram.

The thing is, it is and is not real life, as much as any one thing can be both and both not something. You look at places, some genuine shots, genuine moments and then there are the pre-meditated, posed, screen-show masterpieces which are popular. It is fictitious, it is vacuous and do you know what? It is not inspiring. Not at all. It creates a breeding ground of doubt, of comparison and of an intrinsic sensation of failure.

I know there are people out there who are personally offended by my choice to delete my page or to stop communicating with them. All I can say is it is personal 100%. It was personal to me and I am feeling lighter, breathing deeper and my social media anxiety is fading.

Thank goodness.

Another thing to remember, social media is not real-life and other people’s actions are always made for THEM, not for you and that is A-OK.

Courtney Gaye Signature copy

 

 

 

 

The Instagram Algorithm – what it means for you

Instagram – what a love-hate relationship I have with it. On one hand, it has brought together so many fantastic people all on one platform, on the other I seem to constantly be wading through sponsored posts with content that has nothing to do with me. Despite filtering my preferred feed and removing posts of a particular nature, I am still struggling with growing my following and keeping my engagement at a level which I find rewarding.

With 1349 (genuine) followers my engagement has been steadily dropping since April of this year, where it was at its highest. On average it is dropping around 10% per month. Apparently my best time to post is Saturday at 8am and my highest engagement occurs on Sunday’s at 5am.

My most popular post of all time was on 26 November 2017 and it had 515 likes, most of which had occurred in under an hour! I have no idea how it went so crazy in such a small amount of time but it really went off! To date I have been unable to get anywhere near this number of likes for any other posts, despite having grown my following, improved my captions and hashtags and also increased my engagement with others.

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Do you suppose she’s a wildflower? 🌸🐰🎩 -Alice in Wonderland • Today I’m missing my girlfriends quite a lot so I’m sharing pics from our last girls pic – I apologise for the influx! ~~~ Growing up in Australia, in many different rural communities – I'm used to strapping myself in for a decent drive to get to the closest town / city / coffee. I'm talking driving 3 hours each way into Mackay just so I could get a decent coffee on Saturdays! ~~~ So when I got to NZ – I was quite shocked to learn that in that same time period you can drive ACROSS some parts of the country! Obviously I'm not going to throw that opportunity away! If you have access to a car in N.Z – I highly recommend using it – pack a bag, grab your camera and drive! I've connected with an absolutely gorgeous lady by the name of Sha @lifetomyfullest through wordpress who has also documented her journeys across N.Z (driving and solo travel) as well! ~~~ Just remember to take care where you pull over – the scenery is beautiful but so are yours and everyone else's lives! ~~~ Canon EOS 550D • #akaroa #southisland #thegiantshouse #happiestgardenonearth #newzealand #nz #girlstrip #findyourtribe #travel #passionpassport #purenz #flowers #tourismNZ #sheisnotlost #beautifuldestinations #igtravel #purenewzealand #NZMustDo #wearetravelgirls #wineandcheese #instatravel #doyoutravel #wanderlust #darlingescapes #travelgram #bucketlist #explorenewzealand #instagood #chasingtheworld #shewhowanders

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My focus has always been on engagement, the likes and comments are great but ultimately I am using this Social Network platform for exactly that, social networking. I am inspired by so many  incredible accounts out there and am fortunate enough to have met several people from Instagram in real life.

On the other hand, I have gone through the follow-unfollow game, the bots, spam, fake comments and even negative feedback when quite frankly, it was not warranted nor welcomed. I am however a very (super) small fish in a very large pond.

The latest Algorithm – what is it looking for?

Your feed is not based on who you are following alone, it is also based on who and what you like. The system is relying on your past behaviour to create your feed. In addition to this, Instagram is also trying to show you content from your friends and family so they have announced that 90% of the posts shown will be from this demographic (previously it was 50%). So this might explain why your feed has several posts from people you know and then fifteen posts of cake decorating (because you liked that one cake decorating post yesterday). Instagram is kind of like a needy acquaintance trying way to hard to be your BFF sometimes.

The algorithm is not going back to chronological like most of us had hoped, but depending on how often you use the platform it will try to show you the most recent/relevant posts when you log in.

I had some accounts I really loved following for their content and their engagement, but their accounts are no longer about travel and have turned into constantly sponsored product-placement posts (I don’t necessarily want to unfollow them but muting them is likely going to be my next step). My advice would be to unfollow or mute accounts you no longer wish to have dominating your feed.

Gone are the days where posting videos or using Instagram Stories/Instagram Live would help your reach, those features are fun but they are no longer likely going to improve your reach or enagagement. Shadow-banning which was long denied (much like the “non-existent” bell-curve in uni marking 😉 ) has been confirmed as being a “bug” which has since been fixed.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your content, engagement, captions, theme and brand. If like me, you are simply posting what you love, when you want to then you will likely have a heathy following but you won’t be quitting your day job anytime soon.

Taylor Loren over at Later posted a wonderful article on The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2018, you can read it here. I have always had better engagement in the morning, I think it takes into consideration transit time for Australian’s getting to and from work and those followers in the Southern Hemisphere who are scrolling their feed during the evening.

Ultimately I think my lack of theme or ‘brand’ is the reason my Instagram is not doing overly well. I just do not seem to have that creative flare. Ideally I would love to have a cohesive theme but I find it to be quite limiting as I do not want to be confined to particular colours or posts. It’s a conundrum. I think I will primarily focus on my blog and Pinterest pages and have IG in the background.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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x C x