Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two Göteborg hotels

I visited Göteborg with my friend Susanne in March. This visit was, however the third I had in the city. The two other times I had completely different hotel experiences.

Hotel Excelsior

The first time I stayed at Hotel Excelsior. It is an old classic hotel located in the Vasastan area. The impressive neo-renaissance and baroque style buildings in this area was built for the wealthy middle class in the second half of the 19th century when the city expanded outside the city walls.

The Excelsior is constructed in old English style, and is considered to be a pearl amongst Gothenburg hotels. It has been recently carefully restored and is driven in a family spirit.

The Hotel within walking distance to the Avenyn, Göteborgs main street. The hotel has 66 single, double or family rooms that can take up to 6 persons.

It was turned into a hotel in 1938 and the Swedish film legends Greta Garbo and Elisabeth Bergman have stayed here.

When we stayed there 7 years ago, we found the hotel a little run down, but it was very inexpensive, and absolutely an alternative for budget travelers.

If you travel during winter, you'll find that you can get a reasonably priced room even at high class hotels. So check around when booking, and you may be upgraded to a four or five star hotel at a low price.

Address: Karl Gustavsgatan 7
Göteborg, Sweden

Hotel Gothia Towers

When I revisited Göteborg in 2006, my friend Terje and I had booked a room at the ultra modern Hotel Gothia Towers. Staying here was the total opposite experience to Hotel Excelsior.

With its 704 rooms in two large towers, it is the biggest hotel in Scandinavia, and is connected to Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre.

It is located by Liseberg Entertainment Park and the Universeum Natural Experience centre. This is not within walking distance to the city centre, but there are trams and buses that will bring you to Avenyn and Nordstan.

It has 3 bars and 7 restaurants, which was a relief when we stayed there, as this was a weekend with a nasty winter weather.

The hotel has the most fantastic top floor bar with a 365 degree view over the city. We went up there by night and were both captivated.

The rooms were spacious and we could stay there at a reasonable price off season with a breakfast included.

If you want a weekend in Göteborg, you may book two nights at Gothia Towers Hotel with breakfast for 685,95 or 65,7 EURO the second weekend in January 2010 (


Hotel Gothia Towers
Mässans gata 24, Box 5184
402 26 Göteborg
Tel: +46-31-750 88 00
Official hotel website

More Göteborg hotels

SAS Radisson Hotel Scandinavia - Göteborg

More stories from Göteborg, Sweden

Göteborg from A-Z

Fond Restaurang – Göteborg

Bedřich Smetana was here.....

(Photo: Hotel Gothia Towers, as seen from the Liseberg tower by Lennart Gulbrandsson)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate delicacies

Are you a choco-holic? If you really want to indulge in chocolate, why not travel to Strasbourg? I was captivated by all the delicious pastries on display in the many bakeries in the city centre - like this one!

I remember my first time in France as I discovered French pâtisserie. Small tartes with fresh custard, fruit and jelly, cream cakes with different toppings, and cakes made from dark cream chocolate.

And not to forget the real, rich, creamy seduction of home-made chocolate mousse, as enjoyed in a bakery close to Gros-Horloge in the Northern French city of Rouen.

Chocolate and nuts was the main theme in one of a display of a bakery in Strasbourg, and I just had to take a snap shot of all the tempting biscuits, tartes and cakes under offer.

These displays are not much seen in Norway, as less attention is given to the fact that food should not only taste good, but look mouthwatering and delicious as well. This to start the digestive system and fire up all unhealthy, wonderful urges.

What else to see and enjoy in Strasbourg

Strasbourg from A-Z 2008-2009

More chocolate stories

Söta flickorna Kanold!

Pascal - a Franco-Norwegian foodstory

Xocoa - To chocolate heaven and beyond!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Universeum - a garden of Eden

On a hillside in Göteborg, Sweden's second largest city, we discovered a tropical rain forest in the middle of a cold Swedish winter. Welcome to Universeum, an extraordinary place to explore the wonders of nature.

Four years ago I stayed at Gothia Towers, a large hotel by the Liseberg entertainment park. As we flickered through a few touristic leaflets, we were told that there were a tropical rain forest near by, under glass protected from the inhospitable Nordic winter. When visiting the first time, I was mesmerized by its beauty. When I and Susanne visited Göteborg in March 2009 we decided to revisit.

Universeum follows the water from the Scandinavian mountains to the sea, and along its way you see different species of fish and even birds on your way.

New to the centre since I visited it, were the giant aquariums with giant to small sized fish passed by. From the aquariums you enter through a double door into a steep cliff with walkway from the top to the bottom. Here you find the most beautiful rain forest with birds, butterflies and even monkeys are left free the wander in the dense foliage.

Here are some of the creatures and plants you may see on your walk along the waterways

Diving Grebe

This charming bird with the eccentric haircut belongs to the Podicipedidae family, a collection of birds that are excellent divers.

Members of the Grebe family are found around the world, some migratory, whereas some stay where they are all year.

This birdy was extremely tame, as it is used to the public walking by. It is found along the way of the water, in the temperate part of the greenhouse.

Read more on the water's way here

Clown fish (Amphiprioninae)

This small fish is known by us that have visited salt water aquariums with tropical fish.

Whereas the Grebe birds are found around the world, the clown fish live in warm waters in the Pacific and the Indian Sea, including the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef outside Australia.

They are also called anemonefish, as they may live in close proximity to Sea Anemones, and are immune to their poison. In this way they may avoid being hunted, as they hide among the long arms of their venomous neighbours.

The Clown fish is found in a small tank in the large Aquarium area.

You can follow the fish in the large aquarium on webcam here

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

The fascinating world of the rain forest is inhabited by a number of different birds and butterflies that roam the enormous area freely. In addition to these, a number of venomous spiders, frogs and snakes are found in cages along the walk way.

This brilliantly red Scarlet Ibis drank water in one of the ponds. It is found in South America and some Caribbean islands as Trinidad and Tobago. It thrives in captivity and can reach the respectable age of 20 years.

Goeldi's Monkeys (Callimico goeldii)

This picture of a Goeldi's Monkey is a little blurred, as it is zoomed in on a distance. They live in the tropical rain forests in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

This species was described as late as 1904, and are very rare, as small groups inhabit the dense undergrowth fare apart of each other. They reach an age of around 10 years.

Whereas the Scarlet Ibis moved slowly, thus being easy to study, the Goeldi's Monkeys were jumping around in the trees and bushes like madmen. This is the only decent photo I could get of one of them.

Read more on the Goeldi's Monkeys on Universeums website

Anaconda swamp

On the bottom floor of the rain forest you find a range of ponds with a range of different creatures.

I was particularly fascinated by the anaconda swamp, housing the giant snakes from the deep forest of the Amazonas forests in Brazil.

They can easily strangulate a large animal or a human, and I am very happy that they are kept in large glass tanks, out of reach of us humans.

Read more on what else to find in the Universeum rain forest here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prestigious Michelin restaurant in Oslo close down

If you plan to book a table at Bagatelle, Oslo's only two star Michelin restaurant, you may be too late. It will close down December 21st due to a conflict between its owner, investor Christen Sveaas and Eyvind Hellstrøm, its founder and head chef.

It has been a restaurant at Bygdøy Allé 3 since 1932, formerly known as Jacques Bagatelle. Since 1982 the famous Norwegian chef, Eyvind Hellstrøm, has built up a highly successful restaurant and has been the only restaurant in Oslo to have been awarded two stars in the famous French Guide Michelin.

Although a culinary success, Bagatelle has struggled financially. It was saved by the Norwegian investor Christen Sveaas in the 90's, and has had a few good years lately. Last year , however, it suffered a 1,8 million NOK (211 700 EURO) deficit.

As the conflict between the investor and the head chef reached a climax in December, Eyvind Hellstrøm and his staff decided to leave the prestigious restaurant, letting Christian Sveaas fend for himself. Sveaas has declared that the closure will be temporary, and will be reopened as a new and better Bagatelle in 2010. The restaurant will keep its two stars until Guide Michelin reevaluates restaurants the coming year.

See official website here

Photo: Kjetil Ree

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wizz Air launch non-stop flight Torp - Riga

Wizz Air, the largest low fare – low cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe announced December 3rd, three new routes from Riga, starting from March 28th 2010.

Wizz Air operates six flights from Torp to destinations in Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech republic. The airline will now enter the Latvian market opening up for three weekly non-stop flights to London Luton, and Torp, and two flights to Turku, Finland.

The air carrier also operates one service from Bergen airport to Gdansk in Poland. You can see other non-stop flights to this airport here.

Read the Wizz Air press release here.

See more non-stop flights from Europe to Torp airport on this map

View International non-stop flights from Torp Airport - status December 2009 in a larger map

(Photo: Arpingstone)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Long roast duck

When long roasting a 2,5 kilo duck, do remember to take your time. I discovered that 5 hours was not enough.

When roasting poultry, do remember to cook it well. Whereas lamb and beef may be served raw or medium pink, undercooked poultry may be a source of food born illnesses. When long roasting chicken, geese or ducks, do remember to use enough time. Be not afraid to overcook, as this way of preparing will ensure a brilliant result - always!

I bought a 2,4 kilo (5,2 lb) duck, seasoned it with Grill Mates® Montreal Chicken Seasoning (my favourite - but use salt, pepper and other seasoning you like) , and filled the cavity with my favorite stuffing.

See the recipe of my stuffing here

See how to prepare long roast duck here

I placed the seasoned duck in the middle of the oven on a low temperature (100C / 215F) at 1 PM and allowed it to roast for 5 hours, turning up the temperature to 200C /400F for the last 15-20 minutes. Then I allowed it to rest.

To my amazement, I discovered that the breast was still pink, but not red enough not to be eaten. When cutting into the thighs it was still bloody.

We decided to eat the breast fillets, as you may serve duck breast pink. It was very succulent and tender, and the small amount of meat per person was no problem in a meal with soup, duck and cake everyone left content.

I will still recommend this way of preparing meat, but use at least 7-8 hours baking time for a duck of this size.

More duck recipes

My stress-free home made duck confit

A perfect Duck Breast

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Better air travel - have your say!

I have my own system to evaluate the air carriers I use. My flights are, however, relatively few. If you really want to find a foundation for wider airline assessment, you would need bigger numbers. Try Air Valid! Here you may read what people have to say about the airline you consider flying with, and if you are a happy or discontent passenger, you can have your say as well!

Air Valid is an informative site with a huge amount of information on air travel and services. You'll get information on airlines through a large directory, a list of blacklisted airlines, crash and incidents on chronologically and airline security links.

You may also give your contribution. Through the views and opinion section, you may compare airlines, submit your experience and view previous experiences of passengers that have traveled with a large number of airlines.

So explore an interesting site, and share your knowledge in order for other people to choose , not only by price, but also the best airlines based on user experiences.

Explore Air Valid here

Airline reviews on Enjoy Food & Travel

The airline experience, Oslo - Barcelona and back - Rating Lufthansa

Rating South African Airways

Flying Icelandair Fall 2009

Uncomfortable with Brussel Airlines

Photo: Interior of Qatar Airways aircraft, by Chaerani

Traveling to Phuket, Thailand? Fly charter!!

A colleague asked for assistance, as she and some friends wanted to travel to Phuket in Thailand for 10 days. When traveling to a large tourist destination, you are well advised booking either only flight or both flight and accommodation through a charter company. Booking regular flights all the way will be way too expensive.

My brief was easy. Find least expensive deal for three adults and one youth (16 yrs) for 10 days from Oslo to Phuket. The original idea was to find a regular flight from Oslo to Phuket, and the four of them would find their own accommodation.

Renting a hotel or a bungalow is relatively inexpensive in Thailand, and their perception (and mine) was that this would be the cheapest alternative compared to charter. I checked a few travel sites and found that round trip tickets from Oslo to Phuket with regular planes were expensive, i.e. starting at around NOK 11 000 per person (around €1300).

One alternative would be a ticket to Bangkok, and order a ticket from there. Then I had an idea - check chartered trips. The only down side was that they had to choose either one or two weeks. Many charter companies will allow you to book only flights, but I asked for a price for both flight and hotel. I found that you could get accommodation and flight from NOK 8695 (€ 1022).

I am pleased to say that the four of them booked a two week vacation and were very pleased by the choice. I talked with my colleague the other day and she was very excited to stay in Thailand for two weeks.

Have a nice trip!!

Deals on Ving Reiser December 9th 2009

Today you'll get flight and two weeks from December 28th in Phuket for:
  • NOK 8695 (€1022) per person for flight and 14 nights in an unspecified accommodation. This price includes 1 double room with shared shower wc and internet discount. Bussfee, food on flight, insurances etc are not included.
  • NOK 9095 (€1068) per person for flight and 14 nights at Kata Place, Kata Beach. This price includes 1 double room balcony and internet discount. Bussfee, food on flight, insurances etc are not included.
  • NOK 12095 (€1421) per person for flight and 14 nights at Peach Hill Resort, Kata beach. This price includes 1 double room , breakfast buffet and internet discount. Bussfee, food on flight, insurances etc are not included.
You may book only round trip flight to Phuket for 3 adults and one youth from NOK 7495 (€ 800) per person.

More Thailand stories on Enjoy Food & Travel

New non-stop flight from Oslo to Bangkok

The contrasts of Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

The Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts

Photos: Top: Phuket Promthep Cape by Ahoerstemeier, middle: Phuket, Thailand shore by Vantey, bottom: Kata Noi Beach, 2003, by Peregrine981