Saturday, October 31, 2009

Few non-stop flights to Santa Claus

Vis NEW: International non-stop flights from Tromsø Airport Langnes - status November 2009 i et større kart

Santa Claus is said to live close to the North Pole, but no exact location has been given. Rovaniemi in Finland has managed to attract most of those looking for the generous Father Christmas, but if you want to find Santa in Norway, you can start your quest in Tromsø, Paris of the north.

Tromsø is the largest city in the northern part of Norway, and is, with its 65 000 inhabitants the major commercial and administrative centre in northern Norway, and a vibrant university city, housing one of the major national campuses.

Northern Norway has, in my opinion, not fully discovered and accepted its potential as a major tourist destination, and have sadly missed out on the Santa Claus traffic to our neighbours - the Finns.

For those of you looking for new explorations, the Norwegian polar region has many assets, being a large, scarcely populated wilderness bathing in light from the midnight sun in the summer, and clouded in eternal night during winter.

Northern Norway can also offer a good infrastructure with several major airports close to the larger and smaller centres in Finnmark and Troms county.

In order to travel non-stop to Northern Norway to find Santa Claus, you may try to find a seat on a chartered flight from Europe, if you want to visit Tromsø and its surrounding area.

If looking for regular direct international non-stop flights to the Paris of the North from where you live, you will , most probably, be looking in vain. Two out of three direct flights to Tromsø are operated by Aeroflot to destinations in Russia, to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, two equally exotic cities off the beaten tracks.

There is one weekly non-stop connection to western Europe only, to London Gatwick, operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle. This means that you most likely will have to travel to one of the larger Norwegian airports and catch a domestic flight to look for Santa and his reindeer. Preferably Oslo Airport, Norway's main hub.

But if changing from international to domestic flights, be prepared to have to take your luggage through customs, and then check it in again. This even apply if your bags have been checked in to your final destination in Norway. Then you have to wait for a new corresponding flight that will take more than two hours to reach the land beyond the polar circle.

More stories from beyond the Polar Circle on Enjoy Food & Travel

More non-stop flights from Norway to the continent

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finnegården anno 1702

Finnegården in Bergen was built after the devastating fire in 1702, that left 90% of the city in ruins. This beautiful building house the Hanseatic Museum, showing the legacy of the powerful German merchants league that ruled the city from 1360 until it closed in 1754.

It is maybe the most original of all houses at the UNESCO Heritage site, but it is isolated from the row of wooden houses it once belonged to. Between the old Bryggen and Finnegården you will see a row of newer, and much larger stone buildings - called "nye Bryggen", buildings from the turn of last century. They have the same appearance, with gables facing Vågen, but Finnegården is completely dwarfed by the newcomers.

If it had been up to the city planners, there would have been a another large building as the once seen at Nye Bryggen replacing Finnegården, but this beautiful wooden merchant building was saved from demolition by Christian Koren Wiberg (1870-1945), the first director of the Hanseatic Museum. This museum is made up by furniture and artifacts collected from the different houses at Bryggen.

As the museum grew, more room was needed and an extension designed by Conrad Fredrik von der Lippe was built. He is also the creator of the neighbouring building Kjøttbasaren, or the meat hall.

Standing by Vågen in Bergen, you sense the age of this beautiful city. In my opinion, Bergen is the only truly medieval city remaining in Norway. Apart from the old churches and other remains, most of the present buildings have been built the last third centuries. The old age itself is felt through the building traditions and the ancient street pattern that criss-cross the old city centre hand has been preserved through all the fires that have ravaged the city.

More from Bergen

See map of Bergen and surroundings 2007-2009 here

More UNESCO World Heritage sites

The UNESCO World Heritage sites in Norway

Heritage Tourism on Susi's Blog

Lyon through 2000 years

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ida Davidsen - Copenhagen

Few restaurants in Copenhagen have such a reputation as Ida Davidsen. Here her grandfather offered open sandwiches to his customers over a century ago and Ida has turned this small basement tavern into a legendary culinary heaven.

Location: BBBB+

Ida Davidsen is located in Store Kongens Gade, close to Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn. Very easy to find, but hardly the most romantic or scenic location.

Service: BBBBB-

At Ida Davidsen you order what you will drink by the table and then you have to wait by the counter to be served.

Here you may ask all you want and as the clientèle is international you are given the same instructions in English. And you may need it as there are 150+ sandwiches on the menu.

This time Ida Davidsen, in person, served our sandwiches, with her white uniform including a tall cook's hat. If that isn't personalized service, ask me what is.

Atmosphere and interior: BBBB+

It is very difficult to rate Ida Davidsen in any traditional context. This is a restaurant that has been in business for over 100 years. The interior is hardly creative or inventive but should not be rated as such.

The presentation at the table is neither elegant nor chic, but the whole atmosphere here is wonderfully informal. The minus here is therefore for those of you that may not like it.

Ida Davidsen is very Danish, very dark and filled up to capacity, as tables here are in great demand.

This time, however, we were seated by the table of another couple, and the closeness made us fell rather uncomfortable.

All in all, the restaurant felt more cramped this time, compared to the other times I have been there. If that is due to us sharing table or whether it was something else, I do not know.

Food: BBBB

As this was the third time, I decided to try some of the other sandwiches offered on the extensive menu. Choosing food based on how it looked, is the only option when standing in front of the large selection on display.

This time I chose less traditional sandwiches. Let me emphasize that they were in a completely other league than most sandwiches served elsewhere in the Danish capital, but compared with the more traditional bites I have enjoyed at Ida Davidsen, they did not match them neither in presentation nor taste.

Sandwich with raw salmon roulade and Japanese wasabi: BBBB+

This must be Ida's sushi sandwich, using raw ingredients - thin slices of raw salmon crayfish tales and trout roe, combined with the quintessential wasabi well known to those in love with these bite sized delicacies.

The thin slices of salmon was made into a roulade with the wasabi in the middle. Beautiful presentation.

Wasabi, can, if used in its original form be very overpowering. Here it was diluted until it being a loud cry away from the pungent original.

Deliciously tender, thinly sliced raw salmon, creamy wasabi, the large, coral coloured trout eggs popped in the mouth. Personally I found the taste slightly disappointing, and I wonder whether the tastes were too subtle to me, and whether I would dare to recommend Ida add more seasoning in order to lift the tastes.

Sandwich with calf's liver, onions, and mushrooms: BBBB

Another large sandwich. So large, in fact, that the topping completely covered the slice of bread underneath.

Large succulent slices of calf's liver, garnished with fried mushrooms, bacon on rye bread.

Calf's liver was perfectly prepared, slightly pink succulent and very tender. Crispy bacon, and creamy fried mushrooms.

Good taste of liver, but Ida could have lifted the taste even by adding a little more salt and pepper.

Beverage: BBBBB-

And what to drink to all these delicious sandwiches. You could ofcourse choose red or white wine to what sandwich you choose, but if you want to follow Danish custom, there is actually no alternative to a pint of beer and a Danish aquavit.

I chose a traditional Danish lager, fresh and sparkling, that both follow fish and meat. I asked Ida to surprise me on the akvavit and she served an interesting variety made by the famous Aalborg distillery.

A great choice, as I might have had a difficult choice in wine to two such different sandwiches.

Rating the Ida Davidsen experience: BBBB+ (4,50 points)

Still a recommendable place to enjoy the traditional Danish specialty. A little low on taste this time, but the open sandwiches served are still a feast for your eyes, and you get topping in abundance.

Restaurant Ida Davidsen
Store Kongensgade 70, 1254 København K
Phone: 33 91 36 55

More on Ida Davidsen?

See earlier story: Lunch with Queen Ida!

More on open sandwiches

Open sandwiches - a Scandinavian Food story

A New Year Brunch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New direct flights Trondheim - Gran Canaria

Norwegian Air Shuttle is extending its non-stop flights, offering citizens of Trondheim new weekly flight from the far north to the subtropical beaches of Gran Canaria, Spain, starting October 31st.

The flight leaves Trondheim every Saturday at 10.00 AM, arriving Gran Canaria Airport 3.00 PM. The return leaves 3.50 PM, arriving in Trondheim 10.50 PM.

Prices will vary from around 1200 NOK to 3000 NOK, with a total cost of a return ticket from 3000 - 4000 NOK per person, included state taxes and fees. Norwegian Air Shuttle may charge extra for luggage, seat reservations etc.

More on what Gran Canaria has to offer

See story Gran Canaria from A-Z

More on what Trondheim has to offer:

See story and map of Trondheim, Norway on Enjoy Food & Travel

More non-stop flights from Norwegian Airports to Europe and beyond

Vis International non-stop flights from Trondheim Airport Værnes - status November 2009 i et større kart

On special maps you find non-stop flights operating from Europe to the largest Norwegian airports.

On these maps you will find markers that display status on different non-stop flights to Norway. A red marker means that flights is seasonal and not in operation or that an earlier non-stop flight has been canceled. A green marker shows that there is a new non-stop flight planned to this destination. A yellow marker means that there a seasonal flight still operating to this airport. An airplane button means that service is in operation all year around from one or several European destination to this specific airport.
(Photo: Grobuonis, and Elisabeth B. Thomsen)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Coming up in October - Thon Hotell Bergen Brygge

I am traveling to Bergen to attend a conference this month. I have booked a room at Thon Hotell Bergen Brygge, located in the heart of old Bergen.

It is located at Bradbenken, by Bryggen, the famous UNESCO World Heritage site, and the old Medieval Bergenhus Fortress.

Thon Hotel Bergen Brygge is described as a Budget Hotel, a low price hotel, serving a breakfast buffet (not included) with a selection of cold and warm meals, fresh fruit. The hotel has no restaurant, but you may buy beer, wine, and snacks in the local bar.

The hotel offers a service station with PC, printer and internett, and a free wireless connection on all rooms. The rooms has no mini bar or hotel cinema.

I booked over the, and got a room at NOK 745 or 89 Euros. Enjoy Food & Travel will evaluate the Thon Hotel Bergen Brygge experience and see whether you get bargain as well as budget for money or whether it is only budget.

See the hotel website here

More Bergen hotels
More hotels

More on Bergen

See map of sights, restaurants and hotels in Bergen, Norway.

View Bergen and Surrounding areas 2007-2009 in a larger map

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Église Saint-Nizier - Lyon

Église Saint-Nizier is one of the major church buildings in Lyon. This impressive late 15th century building is located in the heart of the old merchant quarter. The church represented the burghers principal authority in contrast to the religious canons of Saint John Cathedral on the other side of the river Saône. Église Saint-Nizier was the location on which elections of consuls and oldermen were proclaimed.

It has been places of religious veneration on this location for 2000 years. The first was probably a Roman Temple dedicated to Attis, a deity originating from Anatolia, venerated throughout the Roman Empire. From the 5th to the 13th century there were several churches buildings on the site, the latest burnt down in 1253.

One famous member of the congregation in this late period was Peter Waldo, (c. 1140 – c. 1218), the founder of the Waldensians, a Christian spiritual movement of the Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions.

Église Saint-Nizier was rebuilt as late as the 15th century in a flamboyant Gothic style and in the late 16th century got the addition of a marvellous central portal with its Renaissance coffered open vault decorated with angel heads.

Finally in 1855, the architect Benoit the central tower and the spire of the southern bell tower. Among the treasures to be seen inside, see the clock perched in the middle of the vault.

(Photo facade: Groumfy69)

More sights of Lyon

See this map of sights, restaurants, hotels and bars of Lyon

Vis Enjoy Food & Travel in Lyon, May 2008 i et større kart