A Wee Scottish Beastie’s pad

Just another random weblog

  • My DVD Playlist

    What's in the pile of DVDs and BluRays currently sitting next to the DVD player?

    • - Star Trek Voyager - Season 7
    • - Batman: Gotham Knight
    • - Into The Wild
    • - American Gangster
    • - Serenity
    • - Heroes - Season 2
    • - The Mist
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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 🙂

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

Lowenbrau beer selection

The ominously named Triumphator, Löwenbräu’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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Posted in Travel Stories | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is the world coming to???

Posted by weehaggis on Sunday, April 13, 2008

What is the work coming too. Things are definitely changing when Postman Pat is to get a helicopter. Yes a helicopter and a parachute so that he can deliver the mail to those more hard to reach locations….jeeeeze !!

I can remember the days of Postman Pat when all he had was his little red van 🙂

Posted in blah, Rambling stuff | Leave a Comment »

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???  Well, if it wont budge then be prepared to use a pair of pliers if boarding a flight in Lubbock, Texas.   Just read this story in The Register, about some poor woman who faced such a problem.   Apparently, such body adornments are a threat the passenger security.  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 tug  with the pliers 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂 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.

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

What I did on Sunday

Posted by weehaggis on Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Got an sms from Karla on Sunday morning to join them on a visit to the Christmas markets in Oslo. Decided to try the Julemarked på Rådhusplassen – do some traditional Christmas shopping. Supposed to be one of the biggest and best. Lame….lame…..lame…..what a waste of time that was. Lots of stalls selling nothing very much….all looked quit sad actually. I visited the Christmas market in Tivoligardens, Copenhagen, a few years back. Now that was a Christmas market.

But not to worry, all was not lost. Had lunch at Hard Rock with a £17 burger and a £7 beer. Then after getting all depressed at Rådhusplassen, headed off to the Dubliner for some more beer (only £6 this time). Before getting the train home decided to try the other Christmas market at Youngstorget….. ok….Oslo isn’t quite there yet in the Christmas market league.

So, that was Sunday. Spent nearly 50 quid (including train fares) on a Christmas shopping spree. There wasn’t much shopping, but the beer did help along the “spree”side of things 🙂

Posted in Christmas, Living in Norway | Leave a Comment »

…some more reasons why I love living in Norway – part II

Posted by weehaggis on Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ok, here’s my first list post. Not done one before, but it seems to be a “blog” thing to do 🙂

Things that bug me about living in Norway

  • the cost of beer – ok, this one is obvious, and its not just the cost. The local pub doesn’t have its beer (Hansa) delivered and stored in barrels. Its delivered by what looks like a petrol tanker from where it is pumped into a huge vat in the basement. From there its piped to the bar taps. The hangover it gives is real icky – not the sort that a dose of Alka-Seltzer can cure. Its probably all the formaldehyde they put into it 🙂
  • using public transport – its expensive. Just comparing with my home town Edinburgh. A monthly pass there cost 37 UKP (about 430,-kr), and that covers the area from Edinburgh city center to the extent of the bus network (about the equivalent of a zone 5 pass here). except here a zone 5 pass costs 1315,-kr. Then what makes this worse is knowing that the public transport system is still essentially a state owned monopoly AND is subsidized. Given that one of the reasons that cars and car usage is so heavily taxed here is due to a policy of”make the polluter pay”, you’d think that that there’d be some incentive to travel public. But no, you drive a car and they beat you with a heavy,- stick….use public transport and they beat you again with the same stick. Not a carrot in sight !!
  • ….and still on the subject of public transport….boarding a bus or train during rush hour – it’s like trying to get on the last helicopter out of Saigon.
  • then there’s queues, Norwegians don’t seem to believe in them…unless there’s a machine giving out numbered tickets
  • magazines – no, not actually magazines, but how much they cost. In particular I mean foreign mags (utenlandske blader ). They can cost up to three times the original price. “Empire” has a UK stand price of UKP 3.80 (about 43,-kr), while the Narvesen price is 95,- (and just for comparison, the US stand price is $9.99 – about 55,-kr!!) . Taking out a subscription with your own personally delivered copy will cost you about half the local price…..go figure.
  • taxes, taxes and more taxes. They always seem to be trying to find out more ways to tax your hard earned cash. The funny things is, Norwegians seem to like paying it 🙂

as they say in Norway – norsk ikke sant??

One of these day I’ll do a “things I like about living here” 🙂

Posted in blah, Cost Comparisons, Living in Norway, Nippin ma heid | 5 Comments »

I’m famous….woohoo!!

Posted by weehaggis on Wednesday, November 7, 2007

You’ll never guess what I just received in the post today….a copy of a college/university text book on economics????? No. I’m not going back to school or any such time. Back in December I received an email form somebody asking if they could use one of my flickr pics (above) in a book they were writing. No probs I said. Anyway, today I received a copy of said book. Nothing glamorous.  As I said above, its a college text book on economics, “Economie Global“, published in Montreal. BTW….its in French!!! Still, I was chuffed to bits….a book…..a f#!$@ing book 🙂

Posted in Cool Stuff, Flickr, photos | 1 Comment »