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Archive for the ‘Travel Stories’ Category

Every pub should have one

Posted by weehaggis on Friday, August 22, 2008

As you know from prevous post, I’m currently in Krakow. More on that later, but for now I just had to post about someting which i came accross in a bar in Krakow. Now I’m not one to start taking photos in the gents toilet, but I just couldn’t resist snapping this (luckily no one else was around).

Yes, its a big sink. The sort you would normally find in a utililty or laundry room. What’s it doing in a gents toilet? The sign above makes this abundantly clear ๐Ÿ™‚

The vomit trough

Even the plug hole was big enough so as not to get clogged up with those pesky bits of diced carrot and sweetcorn.

I could imagine that things could get quite gross on a busy Friday night or during somebodies stag do.

I wonder if they have one in the ladies too???

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Posted in Flickr, Travel Stories | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

A bit of culture

Posted by weehaggis on Saturday, August 16, 2008

Went to the opera last night.ย  Woohoo….gettin all cultured now ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  The show, Porgy and Bess, performed by the Cape Town Opera, was pretty damn good.ย  Not much of an opera buff, but this was…..pretty damn good ๐Ÿ™‚ย  The normally staid Norwegians actually gave a deserved standing ovation.ย  Although the applause wasn’t exactly what I would call rapturous.ย  Sounded a bit weird,ย  more like a slightly speeded up slow hand clap.

This was also a chance to vist the new national opera house in Oslo.ย  Recently completed and an amazing piece of architecture.ย ย  The main inside foyer looks really cool in the evening light.

Evening light, Oslo Opera House

Although, I wasn’t too sure about the inside of the main auditorium. It is all in a Scandinavian wood style, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was inside one of those rounded wooden fruit bowls.

Oslo Opera House, Hovedscenen

BTW, this was taken during the interval and its not an indication of how popular the show was ๐Ÿ™‚ย  It was actually sold out.

Finally, off on summer vacation in a few days. Flying into Krackow and then back from Berlin approximately two weeks later. Turns out that Madonna’s latest concert tour will coincide with my vist to Berlin….just had to get a ticket ๐Ÿ™‚

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Starkbierfest – more catchup

Posted by weehaggis on Monday, April 14, 2008

In March the Starkbierfest in Munich called.

Before starting on about Munich, at one point I didn’t think I was even going to get there. On the morning of my flight to Munich, the weather over most of central Europe decided to throw a wobbly. On leaving Oslo the pilot announced that we should expect a smooth flight, but that it would get a bit bumpy on our final approach into Munich. Boy…was that an understatement. In all my years of flying never experienced anything quite like it…scary!! After trying to land several times, and failing, and with the airport being closed to incoming traffic, we were diverted across the Alps to Milan. After landing, about half the passengers took the opportunity to get off. The rest of us had to wait it out for about 4 hours on the tarmac, before we eventually took off again heading for and finally reaching Munich….. 6 and a half hours late. The reason why it took so long to get off the ground again was, surprisingly, not due to the weather in Munich (which apparently cleared up quite quickly) but because of the time it took to sort out the baggage of the passengers who decided to alight in Milan. When the cabin crew were asked why it was taking so long, the response was simply….this is Italy!!!

So, back to Munich…..what is this Sterkbierfest??

It is sort of like Oktoberfest for the locals, which turned out to be a surprisingly accurate description – with not too many tourists at the beer halls which were part of the festival. This is also the beer festival which sorts out the real beer drinkers from the wannabes (with beer up in the 7.5 – 8% range). The funny thing was, this escapade was Karla’s idea and she didn’t quite make it into the “real” category…..more on that in a bit ๐Ÿ™‚

The first of the strong beers was encountered at the Lรถwenbrรคu Keller.

Lowenbrau beer selection

The ominously named Triumphator, Lรถwenbrรคu’s doppelbock, or sterkbier, was actually rather nice and went down very smoothly (that’s the beer in the BIG dimpled flower vase). Very soon it was a case of…look at me…I can fly….I can fly….off to Neverland….!!! The funny thing was, Karla made it to Neverland long before the rest of us ๐Ÿ™‚

Later the same evening it was off to the “Weisses Brauhaus”, home of Schneider Weisse, and the Aventinus weizenstarkbier, or doppelbock. The was the beer hall of a brewery famous for its weiss, or wheat beers.

Didn’t know it was possible to have so many different types of weisse bier. Simply heaven. Great for washing down those huge helpings of brauhus pub grub – two big slabs of juicy suckling pig and a potato dumpling for decoration ๐Ÿ™‚

Big brauhus food

Of course it wasn’t all beer drinking. We headed off south into the foothills of the Bavarian alps for a day trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle built by the supposedly mad king Ludwic. Remember that castle in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty“. Simply awesome, both inside and out.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Enough of culture. On arriving back in Munich later that evening it was off to party central for some more beer drinking and drunken debauchery, Paulaner am Nockherberg. Here the strong stuff was flowing even more freely, prompting some to climb the tables, proclaiming to the world how wonderful this dark amber nectar really was.

Dancing on the table

So…that was Munich. Already thinking about heading back ๐Ÿ™‚

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Only in Texas!!!

Posted by weehaggis on Monday, March 31, 2008

Is a nipple ring like a wedding ring….after being in place for a number of years no amount of twisting, tugging and pulling will make it budge???ย  Well, if it wont budge then be prepared to use a pair of pliers if boarding a flight in Lubbock, Texas. ย  Just read this story in The Register, about some poor woman who faced such a problem.ย ย  Apparently, such body adornments are a threat the passenger security.ย  At least now you will be offered the option of a visual inspection.

So guys…..are you gonna proudly slap that PA out onto the the counter for a visual security inspection, or slip behind the curtain for a quick tugย  with the pliers ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in blah, Humour, Rambling stuff, Travel Stories | Leave a Comment »

Off to New York – playing catchup.

Posted by weehaggis on Friday, March 28, 2008

yeah….yeah….yeah……I know……its been a wee while.

Time for a quick catchup.

Back in February I was off to New York….one of my most favourite cities on the planet.

The flight was bought as part of SAS’s annual “Julekalendar” promotion. ie. SAS offer flights to a different destination on their network each day from 1st to 24th December, and all at special rates. Oslo to NYC was about 3400NOK, which is about 1000 cheaper than the normal rate that time of year.

The one downside is SAS fly out of terminal B at Newark. For airside facilities this is simply CRAP!! (Continental flights to Oslo fly out of terminal C, which is far better, with a decent food court, bars and a pretty good selection of shops)

Anyway….New York…..

It was wet and cold, but still a great place to visit. Did the usual stocking up on cheap clothes (note that a pair of normal 550 Levis will set you back about $40 in NYC – full price, while in Oslo they are closer to $160!!!) and also got some new camera lenses. B&H Photo is a must visit in New York for anything camera related. The savings on the two lenses I bought alone were enough to pay for the flight and pretty much most of the hotel costs….I kid u not. Admittedly, they weren’t cheap. But anyway, what I paid $1600 for would have cost NOK 15000 (about $2900) back in Norway.

What else did I do…..

Went up Top Of The Rock at the Rockerfellar Center. Amazing view from the top, although it was bloody cold with a wind to freeze the balls of a brass monkey … as they say ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking over Central Park

Took a bus tour round Harlem….

The Apollo, Harlem

…went across the Brooklyn bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

…and wandered down to Wall Street

Wall Street street sign

I also went to the movies and saw Cloverfield….damn cool movie (todo: got a pretty cool pic of the movie poster on Times Square….will post when I’ve found it and uploaded to my flickr). Pretty weird seeing parts of New York, which I’d been through in the previous few days, get totally wasted. Back on the topic of price comparisons, it was quite funny when on the bus tour hearing the guide complaining about how it now cost $12 to see a movie almost anywhere in downtown Manhattan….pah!!! You can’t even get into a matinee at a second run flea pit back in Noggy land for that price. The local movie house down my way costs 85NOK/$16.50 for a new-ish movie.

By the way, the hotel I stayed at was the Metro Hotel. Highly recommended and got a pretty good price from BritishAirwaysHolidays.

So, that was New York for another year.

Next it was off to Munich and copious amounts of Starkbier….

Update: Here’s the movie billboard pic:

Coverfield  in Times Square

Posted in Cost Comparisons, Flickr, Travel Stories | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

“We have a small technical problem”

Posted by weehaggis on Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looked like everything was going well on my return trip back to Oslo (again with KLM via Schipol). About 30 minutes into to the flight from Amsterdam an announcement was made. “We are currently returning to Amsterdam, because there is a small technical problem with the aircraft. Absolutely nothing to worry about……but the front right door hasn’t been closed properly.” Yikes!!!

Anyway, it all turned out ok. The technical folks who checked out the door back in AMS said that the lock on the outside hadn’t been closed properly. Apparently, there was no danger of us all being sucked out of the plane at 30,000 feet ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, all this meant that we were very late back to Oslo. Got in at a quarter to midnight……but still managed to catch the last flytoget.

Posted in Travel Stories | 3 Comments »

It got worse!!

Posted by weehaggis on Sunday, December 23, 2007

Continuing on from previous post. You’d think that spending the night in an airport would be the worst of it…not so.

Wandered over to the transfer desk just after 4.30am and found that there was already a fair sized queue. Well, it wasn’t really a queue, just lots of folk parked on the floor in front of the counter. So, I decided to join them and parked my own bum around where I thought the end of the queue was. Actually, on the third attempt I think I found the end of the queue as it wasn’t until then that nobody shouted at me to tell me that there was a queue ๐Ÿ™‚

DSC00248

The desk was supposed to open at 5.30 so there was almost an hour to wait.

At around 5.40 one guy turned up, but looked like he was only there to switch on the computers. About 10 minutes later a few KLM girls turned up….they looked positively intimidated by the crowd awaiting them. Over the next 3 hours ( the time I had to wait before finally getting served) service was painfully slow. The staff appeared to come and go regularly and at times there were only one or two of the counter positions actually being manned. There appeared to be no urgency whatsoever to the service. This apparent couldn’t-care-less attitude didn’t really help the frustrations and rising tempers of those waiting in line (and it was a long long line).

Anyway, I managed to get standby on the next flight to Edinburgh and just before boarding started got a seat allocation. Next, that flight got delayed and during the delay we were forced to standing in the transit bus for about half an hour with the doors open and sub-zero temperatures outside. And then, predictably, my checked baggage didn’t arrived on the same flight!!!

All in all, a great start to Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Christmas, Flickr, Travel Stories | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

You thought you’d planned well….then a little fog really fucks you up :)

Posted by weehaggis on Saturday, December 22, 2007

It’s about 4 am and I’m slumming it at a fog bound Schipol Airport. My KLM flight from Oslo was delayed by just over 3 hours – fog there too – and so I missed my connection to Edinburgh. On arrival at AMS the transfer desk was about to close and they were refusing to assist any more passengers. Handed a card with 24 hour KLM help line number and told to call or come back when the desk opened again in the morning (at 5.30am). Put simply, your on your own….”its the weather you see“….”not our fault “. What you do between now and then…..we don’t care!!!

Decided to stick it out inside the airport (airside). It was 11pm and the hotel booking desk in arrivals was probably going to be queued up and any rooms left would likely be miles aways and not too cheap.

Of course, that number on the nice blue card….it was out of service due to “exceptional circumstances”.

I always thought Schipol was one of the better hub airports, a decent place to spend a few hours waiting for flight connections. Of course, a few hours during daytime is quite different from 8+ hours through the night ๐Ÿ™‚ As you can see, looks quite different in the wee small hours and everything is shut.

DSC00246

Its is bit like that really bad Stephen King TV movie, the one set in a deserted airport (The Langoliers) .

DSC00247

No tannoy announcements, no footsteps, no chattering voices…..very quiet…..kinda creepy.

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Churches churches everywhere…

Posted by weehaggis on Monday, September 3, 2007

After Tallinn, I headed off for Vilnius, completing my tour of the Baltic capitals. I’m not counting Kallingrad, although I’m not even sure that’s a capital, being in a Russian enclave. Anyway….I digress.

Being completely land locked and not in any practical way accessible by cruise ship, Vilnuius hasn’t been infected by the plague of cruise ship tour groups. Although to be fair, those cruise ships must be allowing Tallinn to make a shit load of money. As for Vilnius, not as photogenic as Tallinn, but an interesting city. If you’re interested in churches then you’ll be in your element….there’s tonnes of them here. I would also recommend the Lietuva Hotel, part of the Reval Hotel chain. Ok, the hotel is a typical concrete block type of place, but it has a really cool top floor bar. All round glass windows, great view over Vilnius old town, and a retro-70’s look (although I wouldn’t be surprised if this place hadn’t actually changed since the 70’s ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Oh yeah, and its only a short walk over the river from the old town.

In amongst doing all the touristy things and drinking lots of cheap beer, for a cold hard slice of reality the KGB Museum [Genocido Aukลณ Muziejus] is well worth a visit. Wandering round the restored prison in the basement, it feels like some kind of medieval torture chamber. It’s a chilling realization that this place was very much in use during the much more recent 20th century. The catalog of techniques used reads very similar to what today some are calling “enhanced interrogation techniques“. You will definitely need a drink after this.

So, after Vilnius it was back to Oslo before heading off again….next stop Berlin.

Posted in Travel Stories | 1 Comment »

Tallinn – jewel of the Baltic ?

Posted by weehaggis on Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tallinn is a very pretty city, the Old Town part of it at least.

A word of advice, don’t go during the summer months. The place is absolutely swarming with cruise ships full of tourists. Standing on the shore front during the afternoon I counted six cruise ships moored in the port and there was another one on its way in. Apparently this is normal every day May, through to late August/September. Virtually anywhere you go in the old town you are getting in the way of another herd of sheep following a guide with a numbered lollipop.

Apart from that, the old town is very nice, very photogenic (assuming you can get a shot without some babbling Italian OAP tourist in it) and still well worth a visit. Some friends of mine went there in winter – much better idea.

If you do go, and if you like beer, you just have to visit the Beer House. Its the only micro-brewery in Tallinn and their range of 7 home produced beers are pretty damn good. Ok, the place is made up to look like a faux Bavarian beer hall, lederhosen and all, but trust me….the beer is good. They even have tables with their own beer taps???

If you sit at a table with a beer tap, you can join the beer rally. The pub keeps a tab on how may beers you drink, and the one who downs the most in a month wins a prize. But wait, to even qualify for being considered there’s a 20 liter minimum……hmmm…..difficult. I wonder if this idea would take off in Norway….haha, that was a joke!!

Posted in Travel Stories | 1 Comment »