Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year 2007 in Trysil

The New Year 2007/2008 will be celebrated with friends in Trysil, a 4 hour bus trip north east of Oslo. This is a famous winter sport resort surrounding Trysilfjellet, a peak of 1100 meter / 3300 ft.

This is the second year of Enjoy Food & Travel. I am very pleased that my gloom in July on behalf of the site has been turned to optimism. From September around 2000 of you have visited the site every month, and many have left their comments. Please continue to do so, as I need good advice to make Enjoy Food & Travel better and more useful for you.

I will return to work on the site early in 2008. Until I do, I will thank you all for the support you have given me in 2007 and wish you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oslo Airport - Information

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Here is the first presentation of Norwegian airports, starting with Oslo Airport. Oslo Airport is the largest airport in Norway, and the 2nd largest airport in Scandinavia, after Kastrup International Airport in Copenhagen. It is located in the fertile region of Romerike, 40 kilometers (30 miles north) of Oslo. Oslo airport is the main hub for international flights to and from Norway, and most of the international travelers may have to change to domestic flights here. The same will those of you traveling to Oslo and Eastern part of Norway.

General information
Oslo Airport:

Here you find a list of airlines operating to and from Oslo airport, both domestic and international. Most international non-stop flights are to European destinations. There are however intercontinental flights operated from Oslo Airport. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operate three weekly departures from Oslo to Islamabad. Continental Airlines will from 2008 have daily services to and from Newark International Airport in New York. Norwegian Air Shuttle will move many of its international flights from Oslo Airport to the new Rygge Airport at Moss, 60 kilometers (39 miles) south of Oslo.

As Norway is not a member of the European Union, travelers leaving and arriving Oslo Airport may buy duty free goods. At the departure area you have a large shop selling perfumes, liquor, wine and beer at very low prices. You may even buy goods at arrival in a large duty free shop. This requires, however, that you have kept the small receipt left on your boarding card. Without this little token of travel you may shop in vain, even if you are on International arrival. At departure I would like to recommend the shops selling Norwegian food specialties. When being in the duty free shops, I would recommend the Norwegian Akevitt, a hard liquor made from potatoes and flavoured with herbs. Another great drink is the herbal liquors Faun or Sankt Hallvard.
Dining and drinking

In both international and domestic departure you will find a large number of different bars restaurant to enjoy. For those going abroad I would highly recommend the Seafood bar, serving the best products from the rich seas surrounding Norway. Enjoy smoked salmon or prawns with a glass of dry white wine or a good pint of Norwegian lager.

Parking at Oslo Airport

Airport Hotels

You will find accommodation at different prices around Oslo airport. For those of you with no concern for you credit limit the easiest option is the SAS Radisson Airport Hotel, a business class hotel in walking distance from the terminal building. Most of the other hotels may be reached by buses. The most inexpensive option is the Gardermoen Gjestegård. At the Clarion Hotel you have a large indoor swimming pool area for you to enjoy, a great choice for those arriving during the cold season.
Transport alternatives:

There are several ways to travel from and to Oslo Airport. The easiest way is to take the high speed train to Oslo and Asker, that will take you the whole distance to the Norwegian capital in less than 20 minutes. The train end station is Asker, the large suburb east of the capital. But it will cost you. 150 NOK (€19) one way per person to Oslo Central Station. From Oslo Airport you will also have access to the national railway net, southbound to Oslo and on to the other main railway lines and nortbound to Hamar, Lillehammer and Trondheim. There is also airport express buses, a more inexpensive alternative for those of you that have more time.

  • Airport Express Train (Flytoget) Operating to / from Oslo Airport – Oslo Sentralstasjon (19-22 minutes) – Asker (49 minutes)
  • Regular train service (NSB)
Stories on Oslo Airport here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Bush Tucker!

October 9th, we were planning the last part of our South African journey, the safari at Pilanesberg National Park. Before we started we needed to do some grocery shopping. We went to shop our bush tucker at Pick'n Pay at the Kilarney shopping mall in Riviera and here you see the content of our shopping trolley.

Bush tucker means what ever you would find to keep you alive in the bush. We did not have to think of such things. The supermarket in Johannesburg was so different from the one we had visited in Estcourt, on our way to the Drakensberg mountains. Well stocked, and with a selection of goods that would rival any supermarket in Europe.

We had fallen in love with our boereworse, ye Boer sausage during our stay in the Drakensberg Mountains. We intended to substitute it to bacon for breakfast. Bread, sweet chili sauce, a large lemon, and spinach - a favourite after so many meals during our trip. I particularly loved our wine - a chardonnay from Thandi, a producer under the fair-trade label.

And after our visit we left for the bush - to behold the wonders of Africa!!

Coffee in Melville!

Very few things in life make me more satisfied than a good cup of freshly made coffee in the morning. This was the only thing lacking in South Africa - good coffee. The daily question asked - how would the coffee be today? Thin? Instant?!

So on a cool morning in Johannesburg, October 9th, to be precise, I wandered down to 7th street. I was very pleased to find a coffee bar and was served the best coffee for weeks. And I will tell you that there is nothing better than being far away, sitting by yourself watching people running by on their way to walk knowing that you are on vacation.

This morning, December 28th, I look back on this mug of coffee on the other side of our troubled planet with a sadness that my South African adventure is part of my past, my history.

But I am still happy to have a good cup of coffee with cream by my side.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New: 2008, Fly Budapest - Torp

Another low cost air carrier will service Torp Airport Sandefjord, Ryanairs main base in Norway. Hungarian Wizz Air will open new services to Eastern Europe from January 2008.

Wizz Air has already brought 70000 passengers from and to Torp to Katowice and Warsaw in Poland in 2007. In January 2008 they will start flying to Gdansk and Poznan, and in June travelers will be able to fly from Torp to the Hungarian capital Budapest.

And it is cheap. Flights start at NOK 199 (€25) one way.

A good site on Norwegian beer

I am a beer lover, but I am not the one claiming to know much about beer. For those of you interested in beer in general, and in Norwegian beer, may I recommend a very good blog.

Lars Marius Garshol is the master behind the site Larsblog, and this man travel around in Norway and Europe to taste beer. He is obviously a fan of my favourite beer “Nøgne Ø” (Naked Island), a Micro Brewery with the most exquisite brews. This is serious stuff, far away from the mass produced drink of Interbrew or Carlsberg.

For those of you in quest for new beer experiences, wait no longer. Visit Larsblog and his stories on beer, and learn, as there is so much to learn on the topic. As you can see, my stories are rather few. This, as my knowledge on beverages is on wines not beer, but I am eager to learn, so I may revisit soon!

A logistical nightmare

Friday, December 21st. Another logistical nightmare for Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Days like these, and believe you me, there have been a few, shows that the largest Norwegian hub lack the most basic skills needed to manage large numbers of travelers. For those of you visiting Norway, you are well advised to come to the Oslo airport well ahead of time, as so much can go wrong here.

Logistics 1 - queuing up, for what?

For a experienced traveler, it is ironic, that Oslo airport has not learned how to deal with the consequences of peak travel days, as how to deal with a large crowd of people arriving at the same time, for instance.

I have experienced these days before and arrived, three hours ahead of time believing that I would be in some kind of control. No such luck! As I left the half empty train, and took the escalator up two floors to departure I was left speechless. In front of me was an enormous crowd of people.

Whereas other airports would have tried to organize this crowd into long lines waiting to get some kind of service, here we were faced with pure anarchy. As we were clearly heading for the Scandinavian airline counter, I guessed, quite correctly that this airline was the root of the problem. But what were we waiting for. Check-in, I presumed. In that case it would be Christmas Eve when I would get to the counter and I had no time for that.

Logistics 2 - self service check-in, the worst choice

I used what I had of logic thinking and assumed that self-service check-in would be the most rational way to handle the chaos. If you have the same logic under similar conditions and you happen to be at Oslo Airport, leave the logic!! I managed to get into some kind of line to the self-service check in, punch in my reference number, get the only seat left on my flight, and to stick the proper tags on to my suitcase.

And then I expected everything to go smoothly. How foolish of me! As I tried to find the line to the baggage drop, I found that it started far behind me, 200 yards further towards the entrance. As I joined the end of the line, I met fellow travelers with far less time than I, that had been standing in different lines for hours, and a few of them experienced that their airplanes left as they were standing in line.

The line we were standing in was progressing painfully slow, and there were two reasons for that. 1 - there were no staff to organize the line, so there were several lines merging into one at the point of the baggage drop. 2 - the luggage handling system was out of order. This vital piece of information came via a text message to one of the passengers that were late to her plan, to Las Palmas.

Logistics 3 - Information! Information! Information!

As we were standing in line we merged into a community of people sharing a common destiny. We were all in a hurry - desperate to get away for Christmas. The lack of information spun into rumors hearsay. One of my fellow travelers "heard" from one of the ground staff that there were no refund for those that would miss their plane, whatever circumstances. I would never settle for such nonsense, but I know that Scandinavian would clearly run away from their obligations, blaming AVINOR - the Norwegian Airport Authority for the trouble. There were no information on whether flights would leave or were cancelled, as air traffic had been severely disrupted by freezing fog that same morning. The vital information was never given, and I think many people missed their plane that day, due to the lack of communication.

Logistics 4 - reaching baggage drop, coincidentally

Suddenly out of our blue came our rescuing angel, a man dressed in blue with Scandinavian on, informing us that a new baggage drop had been opened - 100 yards towards the entrance. Those of us in a hurry ran down and managed to drop our luggage, slip smoothly through the security into the departure hall - and hey. My plane was on time. Santa Clause - here I come.

Logistics 5 - delayed, due to the lack of ground staff!!!!

Hooray!! At 9.40 AM, the monitor showed BOARDING, and I took my boarding card and we were all waiting in line. There were no one there, and this apparent lack of staff soon got peculiar. A handsome flight officer came up with a "what the hell is going on" look on his face.

After another 20 minutes the airline crew came up to announce that they were ready, but there were no one to get us on board. That was a completely new twist. As Jo Kobro, the Director of Communications proudly announced that the fog was vanishing and that planes once more were allowed to leave, we waited for the ground staff to come. As the monitor changed from BOARDING to GO TO GATE, we knew we were in for the long haul, and eventually 40 minutes after the scheduled departure ONE man came and got us on board.

I count my blessings, I arrived in time for Christmas.

Blessing number 1: I arrived at Evenes Airport an hour delayed and the bus that would take us to Sortland in Vesterålen waited. Many passengers were severely delayed or lost their plane that day. Many had to take bus as an alternative transport for distances up to 750 kilometers, as long distance flights to the North of Norway were given priority.

Blessing number 2: I got my luggage, many did not. The mess at Oslo Airport meant that some travellers arrived without clothing or Christmas presents. I got my Carlton suitcase with the purple ribbon just after arrival, and the Santa Clause from Oslo had something to leave under the Christmas tree.