Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fjord Line back with service Kristiansand - Hirtshals spring 2010

Fjord Line has, after finally making an agreement with Kristiansand Harbour Authority, decided to reopen its service between Kristiansand and Hirtshals in northern Denmark from April 2010.

It will be the fastest connection between Norway and the continent, as it will only take the high speed vessel Fjord Cat (photo) 2 hours and 15 minutes to cross the Skagerak. Its competitor, Color Line, has two new high speed ferries that use 1 hour more than Fjord Cat to Denmark.

The disagreement between local authority and Fjord Line is based on the fact that the company only wanted to operate sailings during peak season, i.e. during the summer months. This as the Color Line operates sails all year.

Kristiansand Harbour Authority has finally backed down and decided that Fjord Line may sail after all from April through September, providing Color Line with much needed competition. This will also gain travelers as they will have access to lower fare.

The new service, Fjord Line Express, will sail Kristiansand - Hirtshals three times per day.

Ferry connection from Norway to European Ports per September 26th 2009

View Ferry services from Norway to European ports in a larger map

On this map you will find markers that display status on ferry connection to Norway.
  • A red marker means that ferry is seasonal and not in operation or that an earlier ferry connection has been cancelled.
  • A green marker shows that there is a new connection planned to this destination.
  • A yellow marker means that there is a seasonal ferry service operating to this port.
  • A boat button means that service is in operation all year around from one or several European destination to this specific port.
(Photos - Fjord Cat Fjord Line Website, Hirtshals lighthouse and sand dunes: Tomasz G. Sienicki )

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ryanair: Higher luggage fees from October

Ryanair and fees are two words that are getting increasingly synonymous. To enjoy the Irish budget airline's low air fare you meet more and more demands. From October the message from the airline is, according to Danish - travel light or pay up, or rather; pay much.

70 % of its travelers have, according to Ryanair, conformed to the demand to bring carry on luggage only, and claims the average price of its air fare has fallen 20% in 2009, saving passengers a large sum of money. It may be OK to travel with hand luggage for a weekend, but what If you are traveling for a week. Then one piece carry on luggage would not contain enough to maintain a normal life style.

Ryanair also fails to mention the fact that it also has introduced other fees not heard of in other airlines. You have to, e.g. pay to use their in-flight toilets. The airline also operates their services to airports further away from the destination they claim to serve than many other "more expensive" airlines.

It would be interesting to calculate the total cost of their so called budget air fare including fees and transportation for normal travelers.

From October Ryanair has a piece of good news to their travelers. The airline will then allow travelers to bring two pieces of checked in luggage weighing a maximum of 15 kilos each, instead of one. Ryanair will however still penalize those of us traveling with checked in luggage.

The new fees for checked in luggage will be:
  • 1st item:
    On 15 EUR
    At the airport: 30 EUR

  • 2nd item:
    On 35 EUR
    At the airport: 70 EUR
More Ryanair stories:

Lord of the fees says: Stay during flights and travel free!

Ryanairs O'Leary asks travelers to hold water during flights

Beware - airports off the beaten track!!

(Photo: Arpingstone)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lunch for breakfast

Both Danes and Norwegians eat "frokost". Whereas the Norwegians have their "frokost" as breakfast, the Danes enjoy their "Morgenmad" - food in the morning. And the Danes have their "Frokost" for lunch. Confused?

The Danes are, in my mind, continental compared to the Norwegians. This as they focus on their lunch, leaving breakfast as an insignificant event during the day. The Norwegians, however, love their breakfasts with bread, cheese, jam, coffee and juice.

When my sister and I visited Copenhagen we arrived in the city between 10 and 11AM, intending to have a Norwegian "frokost" for breakfast leaving us hungry for a Danish "frokost" for lunch 3-4 hours later. We went to Illums and ordered an open Tuna sandwich. It was a reasonably inexpensive, a little under DAK 100 (13 EUR).

Illums is an extraordinarily elegant café located at the ground floor of the Department store with the same name, facing "Strøget" the pedestrian precinct leading from Kongens Nytorv til Rådhuspladsen, Copenhagen's outdoor ballroom by the impressive City Hall. Here you are surrounded by Danish design - furniture and lamps in wood, chrome, plastic and glass. We found our table by the window, sat down and waited for our "morgenmad" to arrive.

The Danes are known for their generous open sandwiches, and as the slice of dark bread arrived at the table, it dawned on us, that a traditional Danish lunch may be out of the question, as the open sandwich was big, even enormous. The slice of bread was totally concealed under a very impressive heap of tuna salad, i.e. tuna fish, mayonnaise, onion, and seasoning.

Deliciously, deliriously Danish taste, though, and those touring Copenhagen should definitely try one of the generous open sandwiches at Illums. And do not do, as I did, and order coffee - try a cold Carlsberg or Tuborg and a cold snaps!!

Det er sgu' dejligt!!

PS! We managed lunch too!!

More breakfast stories
Related stories from Copenhagen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stora Brännbo - Sigtuna

I have just returned from an international conference. It took place at Stora Brännbo hotel. Located in historic Sigtuna in Sweden it offers guests great value, and breakfast is included!!!

Location: BBBB

The Stora Brännbo hotel is located a five minute walk from historic Sigtuna, a quaint town with small wooden houses on the banks of Lake Mälaren.

It is easily within reach from travelers to Stockholm Airport Arlanda. A 20 minute taxi drive with the Taxi 020 from the airport will cost you a fixed price of 27,40 EUR. For those of you not willing to use as much money, you can take a bus from the airport to nearby Märsta, and change to another bus that will bring you by the hotel. This will, however, take much longer time.

The hotel is located in a green park. You may experience some traffic noise from the nearby road, particularly those rooms located near the road.

Service: BBBBB

One of the best things being a guest at Stora Brännbo, is that you are not met merely with a modest Scandinavian nod, but you feel extremely welcome from the moment you arrive.

The hotel has a multilingual staff that makes a strong effort to take care of your needs. They are always willing to help you or answer your questions. The staff at breakfast are equally kind and welcoming.

Room: BBBB+

The rooms are located in a number of smaller and larger buildings scattered throughout the hotel area. I was given a single room in building number 6 facing the nearby road.

It was a small room, and a tiny bathroom. Decorated in light green and white, with light wooden furniture. Single bed, small desk, and closet for your clothes.

Exceptionally clean, and immaculately maintained - no dusts on any surfaces, and few, if any marks from wear and tear. The tiny bathroom likewise. Delicately decorated in white and green tiles, with plenty of place for your toiletries.

The room had a flat screen TV, and a radio/alarm clock that was out of order. The TV had mostly Swedish channels. It would have been nice to have access to English news channels as BBC News, CNN International or Sky News. The free internet access worked perfectly in the room.

The ventilation did not work very well, which meant that I needed to sleep with my window open. As there were traffic on the nearby road around the clock, it seriously affected my sleep.

Breakfast: BBBBB-

Breakfast was included in the price, and what a bargain! It is hard to find anything that even the most picky guest would not like.

This was an offer worth even paying for - getting it for free was even better. There were an abundance of foods to choose from. You could choose from boiled eggs, home made scrambled eggs, crispy slices of bacon and small tasty sausages.

There were an abundance of different cold cuts, and soft and hard cheese. For those of you choosing a healthy start of the day you could choose from a range of muesli, yogurt, fruit, milk and several kinds of juice.

There were different kinds of bread, fine and whole grain, and even deliciously crispy and sinful pastries. There were even gluten free bread and other products for those suffering for coeliac disease, gluten- or lactose intolerance.

And good coffee and tea, both regular and herbal brands.

Facilities: BBBBB

Entertainment: Inhouse bar and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Excellent quality on food.

Exercise: Fitness centre and jacuzzi available. Full spa treatment offered.

Well being: Several comfortable rest areas, extra PC's by reception, well functioning wireless access over the whole area. Air conditioning not in good order in the hotel. rooms

Hygiene: Immaculate over-all cleaning of the hotel.

Price: BBB

You will have to pay up in order to stay at Stora Brännbo. A single room will cost you SEK 1100 (107,74 EUR) and a double SEK 1600 (EUR 156,62).

In summer (June 28th to August 8th) you will get rooms at a reduced price. One night will cost SEK 445,- (43 EUR) per person in a double room, and SEK 550 (EUR 53,84) in a single room.

All prices includes breakfast buffet.

Rating the Stora Brännbo experience: BBBB+ (4,36 points)

Stora Brännbo is a professionally run hotel in a scenic setting. Both the tranquility of small town Sweden, as well as the Stockholm metropolitan area is within reach. Good overall standard, excellen service, and a buffet breakfast to die for.

Stora Brännbo
Stora Brännbovägen 2-6, Sigtuna

Postal address: Box 65, SE-193 22 Sigtuna
Phone: 08-592 575 00
Fax: 08-592 575 99 


See map of Sigtuna and surrounding area here, included bus connection to the hotel from Arlanda

Monday, September 21, 2009

15 Airports off the beaten tracks

I have already had a story on several airports off the beaten tracks on Enjoy Food & Travel.
The website has made a list over 15 European airports supposed to service major cities, but which are located so far away that the name used in their marketing may be deceptive or misleading.

This deception is even cunningly used in their marketing. Oslo/Torp, Frankfurt Hahn, and Paris Beauvais are good examples on how budget airlines market airports off the beaten track. When traveling by a budget air fare, be advised to check exact where you travel to, as you may have to add a considerable amount of time and money for transportation to the price of that cheap ticket.

Here are the list of airports listed by Skyscanner with a distance to the cities they are supposed to service.

1. München West (Memmingen): 112 km to München
2. Oslo (Torp): 110 km to Oslo
3. Frankfurt (Hahn) – 110 km to Frankfurt a. M.
4. London (Oxford) – 97 km to London
5. Stockholm (Skavsta) – 95 km to Stockholm
6. Barcelona (Girona) – 94 km to Barcelona
7. Barcelona (Reus) – 94 km to Barcelona
8. Paris (Beauvais ) – 88 km to Paris
9. Düsseldorf (Weeze) – 80 km to Düsseldorf
10. London (Stansted) – 66 km to London
11. Tokyo (Narita) – 60 km to Tokyo
12. Verona (Brescia) – 53 km to Verona
13. Glasgow (Prestwick) – 51 km to Glasgow
14. London (Luton) – 51 km to London
15. Milano (Bergamo) – 50 km to Milano

Skyscanner has even a list over airports located closest to major cities. The airports serving Taipei (TW), Belfast (UK), Salt Lake City (US), San Diego (US) and Tallinn (EE) are all located 3 miles or 5 km away from the city centre.

Read the full story on

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Important news if traveling to the US

Norwegians are, among citizen from a large number of countries, allowed entry to the US under a visa waiver program. This means that we do not have to apply for a visa, but can stay in the US up to 90 days on a regular passport. Traveling under the visa waiver program means that you will have to fill in several forms that will be shown to airport personnel at entry.

Last year I sat with my pen on the airport and in the aircraft and filled in a visa waiver form and a customs form. From January 2009 the pen is replaced by the ESTA - the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Now you have to register your visa waiver form on your computer, and failing to do so, may mean that you are refused entry into the US. You are advised to register as quickly as possible and at the latest 72 hours prior to departure.

Register at the Official ESTA - the Official US Government website here

ESTA - a great improvement

As the ESTA is completely new, I had forgotten, but registered, thank God, within the 72 hour time limit.

The ESTA system is easy to use, and is most certainly an improvement, even though we still have to fill in our customs form to show what we bring into the country.

Do check your information thoroughly, as information in the form must match information in your traveling documents, i.e. passport and on your ticket.

It took just a moment for the application to be approved. This does not mean, however, that you automatically will be given entry to the US, as you will be scrutinized by US immigration officers at the point of entry.

It is, however, a relief to have registered as my registration at ESTA will be valid until September 2011. This may mean less work in 2010.

More US traveling news 2009

Comfortable transatlantic crossing

Favourable transatlantic air fare available fall 2009

Sky Team Alliance deal makes Schiphol major hub for Norwegian travelers to the US

(Image: US Immigration Officers anno 1924 c/o United States Department of Homeland Security)