Saturday, June 27, 2009

Park Inn Arendal

In my childhood, Central Hotel was the least preferred of the three hotels in my home town. After a period as Arendal Maritim Hotel, I was surprised to fin that the German Rezidor group had made it into the second Park Inn Hotel in Norway. I stayed comfortable here for two nights.

Location: BBBB+

Park Inn Arendal is located at Vestre Gate, one of the city's main streets. It is easy accessible from points of public transportation. Only a 5 minute walk from the main bus terminal, and 10-15 walk away from the railway station.

Service: BBBB

Good service from a nice and helpful staff, both in the reception and in the breakfast room. Staff at reception was also in charge of hotel bar, and managed both tasks perfectly.

Another great experience is that we were allowed to keep our rooms past the time we were supposed to vacate them, giving us a less stressful departure.

Room: BBBB

Medium sized room and bathroom on the 3rd floor of the hotel facing the street and overlooking the city. In spite of this, it was quiet during night. If staying during peak season (medium June - medium August) you are advised to ask for a room facing the back yard, as the city may be rather noisy during night.

The room had a maritime theme, with reproductions of sail ship paintings on the walls, light and navy blue colours and dark wood furniture. Flat screen TV with multiple national and international TV channels available. Good air conditioning. I enjoyed two nights in a very comfortable bed.

The room was relatively well maintained with only few signs of wear and tear. The bathroom was newly redecorated to a high standard. Hygiene was good as well.

All in all, a very decent stay in a comfortable room. Another great Park Inn stay.

Breakfast: BBBB

Breakfast was served in the breakfast room and was included in the price, a great thing considering that you increasingly have to pay extra to get a good start on the meal. The maritime character of the hotel followed you into the breakfast room, as much of the buffet was served in a small wooden boat, very neat!!

And it was a very satisfactory, what was under offer. You could choose scrambled eggs (from REAL eggs) and bacon if you wanted something to get you going until lunch. Different breads and rolls, fine or whole grain, and different kind of cheese and meats, mayonnaise salads and herring.

Freshly brewed coffee, tea, milk, and juice.

For those of you that like a healthy start to the day, you can choose from yogurt, cereals, and fruits.

Facilities: BBBB-

Entertainment: Inhouse bar and restaurant serving breakfast and evening buffet.

Exercise: "Fitness centre with solarium througout the hotel. only 2 min" according to the hotel website - to be declared.

Well-being: Good airconditioning throughout the hotel. Free wireless access even on rooms, and good resting areas inside (bar) and outside by the street. Free coffee in bar during the day.

Overall hygiene and maintenance: Very good.

Price: BBBB

At a price of around 800 NOK (88 EUR) it is an affordable and good alternative to the more expensive hotels in Arendal. Be aware that the rates are more favourable when booking on the net.

Total rating: BBBB (4,19 points)

Another good Park Inn hotel, providing good value for money on the south eastern coast of Norway. Recommended by Enjoy Food & Travel.


Park Inn Arendal
Vestre gate 11
N- 4836 Arendal
Phone: +47 37 00 07 20

More Park Inn Hotels:

Friday, June 26, 2009

St-Martin-d'Ainay - Lyon

When you roam the quarters of the Presqu'ile district of old Lyon, you find a hidden historic gem in one of the narrow street. St-Martin-d'Ainay is a beautiful Romanesque basilica that has survived the centuries unscathed, left by the architect as it was when built over 1000 years ago.

St-Martin-d'Ainay is a sand coloured building with wonderful round arches decorated with red and yellow stones. The oldest part of the church goes back at least 1200 years. Most of the church was finished by 1100, the century when the gothic style took over as the predominant among church builders.

On the site there has been more churches, and a larger may go back to the first Christian era, when the martyr St. Blandine, according to Gregory of Tours, suffered a gruesome death after the lions of the Amphitheatre refused to eat her and her 48 fellow Christians.

It was consecrated by pope Paschal II in 1107. It is a massive building with thick walls and a dark, mysterious interior. Massive doors and deep windows reminds you that it may have served other purposes, to protect the members of the community from other domestic and international enemies. The once independent region of Savoy was just on the other side of the river and Italy was just behind it, so the international borders were not as far away as today.

The tower at the west part was also used to sound alarms to protect against enemies.

St-Martin-d'Ainay is a beautiful, and very different church from the others found in downtown Lyon. The other churches are not as original in style, and when I visited Lyon a year ago, they were in process of restoring the church back to its former glory. Whereas the other church buildings I saw during my long weekend in Lyon were dirty and in decay, the church of St-Martin-d'Ainay was standing, maybe as it did when it was consecrated over 900 years ago.

On St. Blandine:
More churches in Lyon

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tapas moments at Ronda Sant Pau

Our address in Barcelona was Ronda Sant Pau, a small street located between La Rambla and Montjuic, the hillside overlooking city centre. In this street, as most in the Catalan capital, there are a great number of small restaurants serving breakfast and tapas, small Spanish finger food. We were tempted to three tapas moments. Here I will give an account of two - bocadillos wiith cured ham at El Ajali, and small fried fish at Moritz.

Bar El Jabali - a place with a past

First day - after lunch hunger!! We had a stroll to find a place to eat, and ended up at El Jabali after we had walked around the block. It was a part neighbourhood, and part delicatessen founded in 1926.

Located on the corner we found a table in the shade. We could see into the deli, where patés, cheese, cured ham and other scrumptious specialties were on display. Traffic in and out of the door showed that this was a popular place for the neighbourhood, a true supplier of culinary goods!! If you should happen to visit - look at the window, filled with memorabilia of old film stars Spanish ham hanging in the background.

What to order? We looked through the menu. At El Jabali there were traditional tapas, salads, subs (or bocadillos) under offer. Our eyes rested on the sub section and we decided on a grilled sub with cured ham and brie.

For a relatively modest sum we were served a generously sized bocadillo, rubbed with oil and garlic, then covered with slices of ham and topped with sliced brie cheese. Great grub, for hungry travelers, filling with a cold pint of Estrella Damm, the local beer. True summer food, leaving us slightly comfortably numb and well filled up.

Bar El Jabali
Ronda Sant Pau 15
08015 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: 934 427 235

Fried bait at Moritz

Mediterranean culinary traditions and culture differs greatly from our Scandinavian. You are sometimes served the most unexpected foods, and we were slightly surprised at another small tapas bar in Ronda Sant Pau.

Trying a small tapas is a good idea when ordering a beer. Moritz, a small bar in our street, specialized in seafood, and I went to order small mussels as had been served at our neighbouring table. The waitress, did not "habla inglese" and suggested "pesquaditos" as I tried to explain what we wanted. When I thought she had understood fully, I nodded, and I went back to our table, waiting patiently for our mussels.

But we were served tiny fish instead, and they would, in Scandinavia, been used as bait, as you would have had a hard time gutting and filleting these minute fish. What to do? Shake them in flour, throw them in hot olive oil for ten seconds or so, then serve with skin, bone, guts, and heads. Let us eat bait!!!

The funny thing - they tasted great, very fishy, as fish should, and very good to our cold pint of beer - and let us face it, very healthy for you. Those small bait are a part of the diet that make people here live longer not dying from cardiac arrest.

If you are up for it - try the pesquaditos yourself. You will be surprised.

Moritz Marisqueria Braseria
Ronda Sant Pau 7
08015 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: 934 411 088

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sitges: House of Santiago Rusinol

We had a walk around Sitges the morning of June 15th. It took us through the old pary of town. Along the beach north of the old city, we found the house of Santiago Rusinol. I have told a little of his story earlier, in connection with the El Greco monument, found at Passeig de Ribeira.

Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931), was an Art Nouveau painter and writer that regularly stayed in his house at El Cau Ferrat in Sitges. He frequently hosted Art Nouveau festivals in his home and he grew deeply fascinated by the art of El Greco.

In Sitges, you find his house still standing, and you can also see a monument of him.

He had, as painter, a strong influence on another world famous artist, Pablo Picasso. Through his love for the Art Nouveau style, he left his mark on Sitges, far beyond the statue of El Greco.

Read more on what Sitges has to offer here

Monday, June 22, 2009

Delicious all natural cold remedy

I have one of those pesky summer colds
. I would like to be outside in the sunshine, but with a nasty cough and a runny nose, all I have the energy for is sitting on my couch, reading a magazine. While I do, this is what I drink to clear my sinuses and relieve my cough.

By guest writer Susanne Koch

In my largest mug, I put one or two slices of luscious organic lemon (I don't want a cup full of pesticides). I add a teaspoon of zesty grated ginger and a teaspoon of golden honey.

This time of year I have pots of aromatic herbs on my balcony. I add four leaves of sage and two sprigs of earthy thyme to the cup and fill it up with boiling water.

The lemon is added because of its high content of vitamin C and the ginger's hot sting will clear the sinuses. Honey has anti-bacterial properties and will calm a sore throat. Sage has a calming effect both on the mind and on throat infections and thyme is anti-septic and relieves coughing.

And as an added bonus, this golden concoction tastes delicious. Give it a try!

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.