Category Archives: Around the world

Where have I been and what have I done?

What about the weather in Athens in the end of October?

IMG_9005

Before I went to Athens I was debating wether to go or not. I knew my body wasn’t the best as I worked very hard to finish taking the photoes for my coming book. We made it and in my mind I thought some sun and relaxing times in Athens would do me good.

Well… I haven’t seen much of the sun and I’m happy I brought my trench-coat because it’s been cold and some days it’s been raining so much that the streets became flooded! (My friends Annette from Travellingmunk and Mette from Reiselykke  actually hired a taxi to cross a big pond in the street!)  I don’t know if this is the norm at this time of the year, but it’s been like this for a week now. I think the weather was great the week before I arrived, so the first part of October  may be a better time to travel to Athens if you want summer!

What I know is that July and August is very warm, too hot for my liking (do I ever get satisfied?)! I think the perfect time to travel to Athens must be the last part of April, May, first part of June, September and first part of October, at least if you want summer. All in all I think this is the best time to travel within all Southern-Europe. I have been to Rome in 45 degrees and all I can say is that Mr. No-Backpacker should be happy he is still alive (you know the feeling when you feel you are boiling, you just can’t think clearly and a (stupid, at least in the moment) husband asks a silly question….)

I’m heading back to Norway tomorrow and it’s been around zero degrees there, so all in all, the weather in Athens is better than home!

 

Restaurants and room-service at Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens

IMG_9020The second evening here I ordered room-service, chicken-burger. Because I can’t eat bread and am afraid of getting something I can’t eat, I asked for the chicken-burger without the bread (I don’t care if I got the bread in the basket!), sauce and mushroom: Only chicken and potatoe. This is what I got: two very big chicken-breasts with potatoe. The chicken-breast were tasty and very well prepared, but the fries were too soggy.

Yesterday I had a look at the roof-top restaurant. I didn’t eat there, but if I weren’t alone I would have!

The view from the restaurant

There are also a restaurant and cafe downstairs, at the reception-level, but I would prefer this one only for the fantastic view!

Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens

IMG_9000– Welcome tom Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens! Since you are an Ambassador we have upgraded your room! (Short story: I lost my Royal Ambassador memebership because I didn’t have enough nighst as we have had appartments for some of our stays this year. We got a “soft landing” to Ambassador membership.)

Checking in was done very quick and I was followed to my room with my luggage. I am not 100% sure what room I got, but I think it was an executive room. To my surprise it was big with a full sofa, chair and a desk.

 

IMG_8992

IMG_8997As an Ambassador you are entitled to fruit, water and a “gift” waiting in your room. Although I don’t eat much fruit because of my diet, I like the feeling of being treated to something extra. The gift from Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens was 3 “Olivia” soap-bars.

IMG_8994IMG_8996The toiletries are Korres, which I first sampled at The Capital Hotel in London many years ago. It’s a Greek brand and I love the fact that they use local toiletries instead of the Agraria they usually use at Intercontinental. (I’m allergic to the Agraria shampoo so always have to bring my own…) I’m not sure wether I like or dislike the Korres, but so far I have not gotten any bad reactions and that itself is a good sign!

The bathroom has a bath-tub with an excellent pressure in the shower!

As I didn’t have breakfast or lounge-access included I can’t tell about thoset services but I had a quick look into the lounge during “cocktail-hour”. The lounge was modern and had a good atmosphere. The food-offerings weren’t that great, just small snacks, but it looked delicious! I don’t know what they charge for lounge-access, but usually they charge for two people, so I think it would be a good deal if you are a couple AND if you are not on a strict diet like I am. (No wheat, no lactose, no garlic, no onion etc…) I am sure the hotel would cater for me, but as I am alone I don’t bother.

IMG_9003The cafe in the reception-area is always busy with guests, but not too busy. I might go and have a coffee there later!

Getting to the hotel from the airport with the metro/tram:

Take the blue metro-line to Syntagma. You have to buy a ticket at the airport (8 EUR). At Syntagma you can either take a taxi (around 5 EUR) or if you don’t have much luggage, take the green or red tram-line. You have to go out and up the stairs and then you will see the tram-station. This is the end-stop, no worries if you are in the right direction! Take the tram to Kassomouli (the 4th. stop) and from there it’s only 50 meters walk to the hotel. (This is the same tram that will take you to the city center, Syntagma.)

More about the SPA, area and restaurants in the upcoming posts.

 

 

 

Athens, here I come!

Tomorrow I am going to Athens to partisipate at a travel-blogger conference. I signed up for this earlier this year, before I knew I was going to write a cookbook, and booked 7 nights. Although the conference is only 3 days I knew I would need some extra nights, just to relax!

To be honest, I haven’t been much in “travel-blogger mode” the last months as the cookbook project has taken all my time and energy. However I have decided to go to Athens, partisipate in some of the sessions at the conference, relax, write and relax even more. I do feel a little bit “guilty” of traveling for a week while 1. I don’t have the time to write as much as I want to in my blog and 2. I am in the finishing-stage of the book. Luckily I have other exciting projects in my mind, including traveling, so I shouldn’t feel that guilty!

Well… It might be good for both my health and my mind, so see you from Athens!

Helsinki airport to Tampere, with train

Getting from Helsinki airport to Tampere is easy, but it takes some time. Because the price vary a lot (between 25-50 EUR), depending on the time you are traveling, I would suggest to book the train in advance.

The easiest way to get from Helsinki airport to the main railway-station is to take the airport-bus. It goes every 20 minutes, cost 6,60 EUR and takes 30 min. There is free wifi on board. For those of you who dislike to take a bus because there’s no toilet there, there’s a toilet at this bus! However I didn’t try or see it, but at least there is one.

We had booked a comuter-train and didn’t know we had to sit in the front, but luckily we paied attention to the speaker and changed train at the next station. Be aware of this!

The train has a toilet in the back, but I am not sure if it worked or not.

 

 

THE road-trip: Bergen – Oslo – Bergen, in many ways more challenging than expected!

IMG_8460We started the trip Thursday, around 11. We used Google-map to get the fastest route: To Voss, the new bridge in Hardanger, over Hardangervidda and Geilo and then to Oslo. It said 6,5 hours non-stop driving and we used around 7,5 hours with some small stops and 30 min. traffic-jam to get from the outskrit of Oslo to the hotel.

Hardangervidda, on the way to Oslo

Hardangervidda, on the way to Oslo

It was easy to use Google-map, both during the road-trip, but also when driving in Oslo. Although there were some road-works, actually quite many, the Google-map recalculated fast and efficient. I have a cheap internet-plan on my phone, but another excellent thing with Google-map is that if you load the map and direction when you have internet, you can turn off the mobile-network, and it will still remember and use tha map!

I drove the most, unless 1,5 hours in the middle. It was surprisingly how much faster the time went on when driving myself than when I am a passenger! Because we were eager to come to Oslo we didn’t stop to get any pictures, just a few. I planned to use more time on the return to take pictures and have a relaxing trip as I knew I would be on my own and needed more stops.

I was relieved when we arrived to Oslo and I had managed to drive that far without getting a migraine and my body seemed to have managed well. For a strange reason I had forgotten that my illness works like this: “Do whatever you want to do, I’ll punish you after”. And this was what happened. The weekend ended in an endless migraine-attack. Luckily the medicine worked Saturday evening and I went to a great party celebrating my brothers birthday, dancing and socializing the whole evening! However, I didn’t do any sight-seeing and the only pictures I got was from the hotel…. Well.. That’s life as a sick traveler, I should get used to it!

On the way from Bergen to Oslo, in the end of the trip, we heard strange noises from the brakes of the car. The strange noises continued while we were in Oslo, and they even seemed to get worse. I spoke to several people who knows more about cars than I do (I know nothing…) and they all said the car should be safe to drive home, I should just be careful to use a low gear instead of using the brakes when going down from Hardangervidda, down Måbødalen to Eidfjord. Note that Hardangervidda is the highest mountain plateau in Norway….

I thought about postponing my return and get the car fixed in Oslo, but because I really wanted to go home, I decided to drive.

The main-reason why I wanted to go home was because my son moved to Tromsø the day I returned back to Bergen. I have been quite cool about his move so wasn’t at all prepared to be Mrs. Sad-Sam, but I was…. We are used to travel both with and without him and we are also used to him traveling alone, and I have never been sad about this.

It’s embarrassing to say, but I cried all night and saying goodby was so much harder than I had thought. Needless to say, I wanted to get home and being alone in the car!

I started the return at 10 and the first two hours went well (sobbing and cried my eyes out…). At 12.30 I was tired, had an aching neck and wondered how I would survive the rest of the trip… However I then decided to press myself and take a longer rest at Geilo, around 13.30, but at 13.15 I felt the urge to let the coffee out so stopped at a bus-shred and went back. After all, although there were a bus-stop, I was in the middle of nowhere and I’m from Norway: We are used to use the nature when the nature calls! (Wearing a skirt is a must on a road-trip!)

Unfortunately I am not good in recognizing the Norwegian fauna and I didn’t know I had been in the middle of a meadow of nettles before I returned to the car! Luckily I hadn’t put my behind in the nettles, but my left leg stinged and hurted a lot! I think my body was pumped with adrenaline because I woke up quite quick and didn’t feel the need to stop at Geilo! I rushed past it and over Hardangervidda.

Because I was eager to get past Måbødalen I didn’t stop at Hardangervidda either and started to climb down Måbødalen on the second gear. The brakes made very loud noises and I think I got a new “dose” with adrenaline at this point. I think I drove in 40 km/h, but was so scared I didn’t dare to drive faster! When I got the the end I was so relieved, happy and full of adrenaline that I didn’t feel for a break. I drove to Voss, had a small break and came back home at 17.30.

The trip from Oslo to Bergen is spectaculare and I wished I had taken pictures. Next time! (BUT I will not drive all the way myself! I have proven to myself that I can do it…. )

Do you dare to bring your own car to France?

IMG_8286Some years ago friends of us were living in France. When they were visiting us in Norway they told us they had sold their car because they were fed up with being anxious of being hit by either other cars or even trolleys at shopping-centers. They said that people just don’t care about their own car, or others. They simply drive until they hit the car in front/back of them. I couldn’t believe it, but I do now…

An hour before the above picture was taken I saw the “French trick” in action: A car reversed until the car in the back rolled and moved around 20 cm!

Our initial plan was to drive our car to Toulouse, but I think I am now happy we didn’t! (However we have had road-trips to Italy, France and Spain, and never been “hit”, so we might have been lucky?)

I have seen parked car like the above in Spain too, so I take it the “French trick” also apply to the Spanish drivers, and maybe Italians too?

Restaurant review: SushiShop Toulouse

2014-07-02 18.31.13This, Sushishop, is one of the worst sushi-restaurants I have ever been to.

2014-07-02 18.21.56It’s obvious a take-away restaurant, but they could have offered soya-saus from bottles and cheramic soya-saus trays (these were in PLASTIC!) for their guests eating at the restaurant. The salmon on the nigiri was so thin you could see the rice through the salmon… And the wasabi was thin and had a strange consistence (from a tube?). 2014-07-02 18.22.00This is maki with scampi. Oh Lord (sorry) this is the cheapest (in many terms) scampi-nigiri I have ever seen! Half of the scampi were bread-crumbles and on top of this they had cut the thing in two! You can hardly see any scampi there.

And the worst? It was not a cheap meal…. My advise: Don’t go there!

 

Restaurant review: YokoSushi in Toulouse

2014-06-29 21.27.42As in Paris, you can find a place to eat sushi on every corner. The first night we had sushi at Yokosushi, very close to our hotel.

As with many sushi-restaurant, this is a small, but busy place. It looks like most of their orders are take-aways. Good for them, but the customers “in-house” suffer because they don’t have time to take orders, make the food and generally look after their guests.

With that said, the sushi and makis are good, but the rice was not “tight” enough (maybe because there were not enough vinegar and sugar?) and because of that it was difficult to eat.

This restaurant has, as many Norwegian sushi-restaurants also have, some strange makis on their menu. Maki with cheese (which has become so common that some people think it’s a real maki….),i with fried onion and for dessert maki with banana and Nutella…

2014-06-29 21.28.05Since I can’t eat onion I didn’t try the maki with fried onion, but Mr. No-Backpacker and his coleagues said it tasted… hot-dog… 🙂

We all had to try the dessert-maki. How it tasted? Well…. Not horrible wrong, but I will not reorder it either! It might have been slightly better if they had used rice without vinegar and sugar because the sourness from the rice  didn’t go with the sweet Nutella.

(Somebody asked me what the dessert-maki was wrapped in. I tried to figure it out, but I didn’t find the answer. It looked and tasted like some kind of very, very thin pankake, but I am not at all sure.)