Saturday, September 10, 2011

Galerie Ravenstein, Brussels

The enstrance area by Gare Centrale
The Galerie Ravenstein connects Brussels Gare Centrale with the Uptown.  This 1950's shopping centre is currently empty, with just a few shops and very brown cafés left. Walking through is worthwhile, as Galerie Ravenstein encapsules the architectural style typical of the first decade after World War II.

Galerie Ravenstein connects the Central Station with the area above, by the Parc Royal and the Royal Palace in Brussels. You ascend the hill through the four-story galerie and office building. When it opened, it accommodated over 80 shops.

Galerie Ravenstein was designed by Alexis and Philippe Dumont and built between 1954 and 1958. For those of you with a keen interest in architecture, there is much to take in while walking through the arcade. The innovative skylight and stellar artwork incorporated into the design of the arcade are striking features to be admired.

Galerie Ravenstein was listed in 2009. 
The impressive skylights of Galerie Ravenstein

See Galerie Ravenstein location on this map of Brussels

View Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2010 in a larger map

Friday, September 09, 2011

Continental Airlines - information on domestic and international destinations

Photo: A Continental Airlines Boeing 767-200ER at Berlin Tegel Airport by AdAstra.
Continental Airlines have daily flights from Oslo to Newark Liberty Airport, Newark NJ, one out of four major hubs for the airline. For those of you traveling on, it is a good idea to get to know the options you have with this airline or its code-share partners. 
Photo: Newark Liberty Int'l Airport by Lazyhawk
Continental Airlines is one of the largest air carriers in the world.

When traveling from Oslo to Newark Liberty Airport you get access to flights to a large number of destinations in the United States, as well as Canada and South America and the rest of the world.

More on Continental Airlines destinations

Aria Resort & Casino i Las Vegas in a $ 373 million lawsuit

The Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is experiencing a legal nightmare. Five guests have filed a huge legal claim after supposedly having contracting legionnaire's disease from what they claim is contaminated hot water.
There is nothing wrong in seeking financial compensation but the size of this claim reflects what we all know about the greed upheld by the American legal profession. Aria Resort & Casino face a horrendous $337,5 million financial claim. With this lawsuit in mind, I wonder if I had run a hotel somewhere, whether I would have dared accommodating American tourists.
For those of us fascinated by series as LA law it is easy to forget that much of it is about money, much money, huge sums of money, enough to drive companies bankrupt. Any legal claim may be based on ridiculous incidents, partly caused by plaintiffs lack of awareness or responsibility.
Coffee here was too hot. Photo: Quibik
Photo: As an example of one of these ridiculous lawsuits, I may refer to the legal case Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants. 79 year old Stella Liebeck suffered severe burns while driving her car and drinking McDonalds coffee. She was awarded close to $3 million in compensation based on the claim that McDonald’s coffee was too hot. The court did not focus on the fact that Stella Liebeck kept a cup of hot liquid between your legs when driving - in my mind a highly irresponsible thing to do.
When it comes to the Aria Resort & Casino, I do agree that the hotel need to be prepared to compensate those seriously affected by something as serious as Legionnaire’s disease. The sum involved, however, is completely blown out of any proportion. That each of the plaintiffs could end up with 30-40 million USD each after their lawyers have got their share, seems completely unreasonable. If a smaller establishment had faced such a claim, they would have to fold down for good!
Norwegian hotels house thousands of American tourist every year. I wonder whether they are aware the financial liability they are if something should happen to them while staying in Norway. When I read stories on lawsuits as those facing Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, I seriously wonder whether I would have dared to accommodate them.
More on this story

Other hotel stories from the US

Thursday, September 08, 2011

From Iceland to the US - non-stop flights to American cities

Icelandair and Iceland Express provide non-stop flights from Europe to destinations in North America over Keflavik International Airport. The major Icelandic hub is a pleasant airport compared to many larger airports in Europe. Small distance between the terminals, less queues in the security control, and less passengers in line to embarque planes.

Icelandair operates following flights from Keflavik to the US and Canada
    Photo: Disneyworld, Orlando by Siebrand
  • Boston, MA (US). Flight time: 5 hours 35 minutes
  • Halifax, NS (CA). Flight time: 4 hours 35 minutes
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN (US): Flight time: 6 hours 20 minutes
  • New York City, NY (US): Flight time: 6 hours 
  • Orlando, FL (US): Flight time: 7 hours 45 minutes
  • Seattle, WA (US): Flight time: 7 hours 45 minutes
  • Toronto, ON (CA):  Flight time: 5 hours 55 minutes
  • Washington DC (US):  Flight time: 6 hours 10 minutes
 Iceland Express operates following flights from Keflavik to the US
  • New York City, NY (US): Flight time: 6 hours 5 minutes

Norway: Good times for trans-Atlantic flights

The stylish art deco style Chrysler building, New York City
As Europeans tighten their belts and prepare for tougher times, the Norwegian economy is booming. This means more money for leisure traveling, and many choose to go to the United States. Air carriers operating trans-Atlantic flights from Oslo maintain or even extend their service, as most flights are well booked.

Currently Continental and Scandinavian Airlines operate two non-stop trans-Atlantic flights from Oslo. Besides that many Norwegians, including myself, use Icelandair and Iceland Express for a convenient Atlantic crossing. Business has been so good in 2011 that airlines either maintain or expand their schedules.

Transatlantic success for both Scandinavian Airlines and Continental
Scandinavian air carrier over the Iberian peninsula
Until recently, Continental has been the only airline to offer direct flights from Oslo to Newark-Liberty Airport all year. US Airways had season flights to Philadelphia in 2010, but discontinued this service in 2011.

Scandinavian Airlines decided, March 2011, to start two daily flights to Newark Airport. Nobody believed that the crisis ridden airline would succeed where it failed in 2004. Results for the first two quarters have been good for Scandinavian Airlines. The demand for tickets to the US has been so high, that both competitors are doing well. So well, in fact, that Scandinavian even may extend the number of flights to Newark this coming season.

Iceland - an important hub for Scandinavians traveling to the US
Flying over Iceland in February 2007
I personally prefer flying over Iceland, when traveling to the US, Icelandair is another air carrier that lives well from travelers to the US. Besides me, so many do, that Icelandair has opened seasonal direct flights from Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim, as well as Oslo during summer, offering transfers to main American cities from Keflavik Airport. These will close in October, but Icelandair have announced that there will be flights from Bergen and Stavanger during Christmas and the New Year, bring all year flights from these airports closer to being a reality.

Lately, Iceland Express, has launched seasonal flights from Oslo to Keflavik with direct ongoing flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Iceland Express has recently decided to extend the season through October.

So all air carriers flying from Norway to the US are experiencing good times, and Norwegians have a greater choice than ever if we want to cross the Herring Pond. This is a win-win for all, but the question one must ask is whether these good times will last.

More stories on trans-Atlantic flights here on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

NEW: Stena launch 36 hour cruise - Oslo-Göteborg - Oslo

Stena Saga in Oslo port. In 1981 I traveled from Stockholm to Helsinki on                                                      this ship. Then it was called Silvia Regina and it was the new flagship of  the                                                                              Silja Line. Photo: marcusroos
Every Sunday from August 21st, you can enjoy a 36 hour cruise with Stena Saga from Oslo to Gothenburg, instead of the much shorter passage to Fredrikshavn in Jutland in Northern Denmark.
Stena Saga leaves Oslo 8.30 PM each Sunday and arrives in Gothenburg 9.45 AM Monday morning. You will have 5 hours to do some shopping in Swedens second largest city, before departing 3.30 PM. Stena Saga will arrive Oslo 7.30 AM Tuesday morning.

On board there will be live music and local tradition food, and you can do some duty free shopping before you arrive back in Norway.  

What to see in Gothenburg? See this map of the city

Vis Gothenburg on Enjoy Food & Travel 2009-2010 i et større kart

Latest stories from Gothenburg on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Saturday food market at Ferney-Voltaire

Every Saturday the centre of the little town of Ferney-Voltaire, located close to Geneva, is transformed into a large food market.
I have experienced it in Lyon, Strasbourg as well as Marseille. On weekends busy streets are made into large local markets.

This is even the case in the small French border town Ferney-Voltaire. The Saturday I was there, I roamed through the matket for an hour, in envy. This, as we have nothing of the kind in Norway.

It was heaven for those looking for home made unpasteurized cheese, or rustic salamis or well matured, cured ham. You could buy freshly baked pastry, fresh seafood, vegetables, or freshly picked forest mushrooms.

Another stall sold a wide range of fresh spices. I ended up with 100 grams of Sichuan pepper corns and cinnamon sticks. When I got back to my hotel room, I had even bought one salami with porcini mushrooms and one wild boar salami.

Here are a few snapshots from the market in Ferney-Voltaire.  
Strawberries, peaches, red currants and red cherries in abundance 
King Crab from cool waters, lobsters from Brittany and king prawns from Madagascar
More seafood - native crabs and a wide range of different mussels
Italian Parmesan cheese
More food market stories on Enjoy Food & Travel