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Trip report from Svalbard in Norway! Feb 06

Gard_Nikki_snowmobile_SvalbardNikki and I had the pleasure of visiting the Arctic in the end of December! We spent New Year’s Eve in Longyearbyen on Svalbard far north of the coast of Norway. Check out the Svalbard trip report on my homepage and get in touch if you have any questions. We got to visit an old coal mine, drove on snowmobiles and went hiking in the cold – and we got to see northern lights! Here you can see more photos from Longyearbyen and I have also made this Svalbard Google map! If you want to get in touch you can reach me on gardkarlsen (at) hotmail.com.

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com

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Hotell Geiranger–great views but room is not impressive Aug 09

We stayed at Hotell Geiranger for a night in August 2016 and we booked the hotel using hotels.com. We arrived in the afternoon and check in was quite fast. We got room 818 which was a room with a fjord view. I was told that I could park for free outside the hotel but there were no available spaces there so I had to go down to the waterfront and even there it was tricky to find a place to park. But it is easy to walk back to the hotel.

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Once we walked into the hotel room the first thing we noticed was the beautiful fjord view – the hotel has a prime location for that. But the second impression was that this was an old school room. The room had wooden floor, light yellow walls and had the standard furniture that you would expect in a room. We had booked a kingsize bed but this was not the case – it was just two single beds pushed together. The comfort was good and the duvet was good. Apart from that we had a small sofa and chair around a table and a tiny flat screen TV on the wall. I know you are not in Geiranger to watch TV but it would have been good with a larger TV and a better selection of channels. Outside the room we had a small balcony with two chairs and a table. There was a desk and chair but the small fridge under the desk was both empty and unplugged. There were not that many points in the room for charging our various devices. The wardrobe contained an ironing board and iron but there was no safe.

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The bathroom was small with light tiles, a small basin and a bathtub with a shower option. The shower curtain was the type I dislike – the kind that sticks to you once you get close to it. The only amenities were two small bottles of shampoo, a small bar of soap and two glasses. I think the bathroom is in need for an upgrade as it had a stale smell to it.

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When we walked out of the room we passed by the lounge and at night it seemed like there was coffee and tea that was served here. It would have been great if we had gotten information about this when we were checking in. There was a free wifi at the hotel but I didn’t use it much as I have a Norwegian 4G cellphone. But we got little printouts with wifi username and password and there were different nets to use in the room and in public areas. The internet was not very good I’m afraid and having different nets with different password is confusing.

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I was not totally impressed by breakfast. This is one of the regions of Norway with long traditions and usually you will have very good breakfast buffet at Norwegian hotels. On this trip we stayed at hotels in Molde, Ålesund and Kristiansund and Geiranger hotel offered the least impressive breakfast. There was a very limited selection of fruit, no oats, the brown goat cheese was the pre-sliced version from Tine, there was no bacon to go with the scrambled eggs etc. If you want to put together a take-away lunch you will have to pay 100 Norwegian kroner.

As many of the other reviewers I have mixed feelings about this hotel. Yes, the view from the hotel room is amazing and you can easily reach some epic scenic places. If this review seems harsh it is because I think the price should be linked to the hotel standard. The room we had at Hotel Geiranger was 1900 Norwegian Kroner (or about 225 USD). This made it the most expensive hotel on our trip and the most outdated hotel on our trip. Geiranger is a small community with a limited number of hotel rooms and in my mind I get a feeling that they charge this much just because they can. We expected an old and charming hotel but after staying there for a night the conclusion was that it is just old. The next time I go to Geiranger I will probably see if there are other hotel alternatives.

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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A hike to Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) outside Stavanger in Norway Jul 11

I have been to Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock a few times as I live in Stavanger and it is located a short boat trip and drive away. I did an afternoon hike to Preikestolen on a Friday afternoon and here is a short video that shows a bit of the experience. You can check out this page to read more about the hike to Preikestolen: http://www.gardkarlsen.com/preikestolen.htm

Regards
Gard

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Trip report from Iceland Jun 30

Gard_Nikki_Langjokull_glacierNikki and I went to Iceland in May 2016! We stayed in Reykjavik and used that as a base to see a bit of south Iceland including Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Seljavallalaug, Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss and geysers. But we also did some more action packed activities like snorkeling in the ice cold glacier water at Silfra, we went into the Langajokull glacier and we took a lift to get into an old and dormant volcano! We also got to test out a bit of the Icelandic cuisine including horse and whale meat but also puffin! Read the trip report with photos, links and maps on the homepage. Here is the Iceland trip report! Get in touch if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer. You can reach me on gardkarlsen @ hotmail.com .

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Hôtel Waldorf Madeleine Mar 28

We stayed at this hotel for just one night after a visit to the Champagne area. We have been to Paris before and you can read a Paris trip report here. I guess this should not be confused with Waldorf Astoria by Hilton. We booked the hotel online and just took the metro to Opera and walked over from there. The check in was fast and we got room 103. We said that we wanted to take care of the luggage but we still got a porter that followed us to the room which was a bit weird. The room looked pretty new upon entering the room with a beige carpet and light walls – but it was quite small and for a second we were like “where is the bathroom”. Most of the room was occupied by the queen sized bed that was soft and to my liking. There was also a desk, a TV on the wall, a coffee machine and a small fridge (one Coke was 4.5€). Wifi was free but we had to get a username and password for each device. The internet was fast but it seemed to drop out from time to time which was annoying. The room was well lit up due to lots of downlights.

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The bathroom was totally different from the room – it was very modern with all white tiles. And what is the deal with setting up a shower in the bathtub and with no glass panels? From the moment I walked into the bathroom I could see that taking a shower there would lead to splashing of the entire bathroom and I was right. And how can it be that we only got one robe when you have booked a room for two people?

The location of the hotel is quite good. It is a short walk to the Madeleine church and metro station and you can also walk over to Opera. There is a lot of shopping around but maybe not the best selection of restaurants.

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All in all – a totally decent hotel taking the location and price into consideration. I would not mind staying there again. Read more about the hotel here.

Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Saint James Albany Paris Hotel Spa Mar 28

We stayed at Saint James Albany in Paris for three days in March. Taxi from the airport was 50 € flat rate. The check in process was fast and we got room 633. The room seemed a bit dated upon entering the room but at the same time it also has a pretty cool layout as they have kept some of the old wooden pillars and this was actually the center of the room! It might be a pretty fancy feature to look out but also dangerous at night as it was easy to walk right into it in the dark. The room had a large king size bed that was way too hard for me, lots of wardrobe space, a small safe, no ironing board or iron, a desk and a small fridge. The small fridge was stocked up quite well but when a Coke costs 6.5€ it is much better to buy it somewhere else. The room was a bit dark and I would have preferred if there was more lighting – even if there were two windows in the room with a view to a courtyard. A small flatscreen TV was mounted on the wooden pillars and were facing the bed. Wifi was included and worked according to my expectations.

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The toilet was in a separate small room – again with some of the wooden pillars. Due to this there was only a tiny sink in the corner which was not very easy to use. The bathroom on the other hand was large, had two sinks and a large shower area. We got two robes and slippers and the towels were on a heating rack. There was a bad smell coming from the bathroom and maybe that is why housekeeping placed a towel over the shower drain.

The breakfast was pretty good for the price. For 14€ there was a buffet breakfast that was not totally epic but it contained all you need of bread, fruit, cereal etc.

In the basement there was a pool of decent size and a sauna.

The service at the hotel was good but we were a bit disappointed when we called housekeeping on a Saturday and said that we wanted to wash some clothing and we were told that this was not a service during the weekend. When we asked when the clothes would be ready they replied that they didn’t know and that we had to call the concierge!

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The location of the hotel is excellent. Right next to Tuileries Garden, a few steps to the Tuileries metro station, short walk to the Louvre and with lots of shopping it the area.

All in all a good hotel – but with room for improvements. The smell from the bathroom was not that pleasant, the walls were a bit thin so it was a bit noisy and we were disappointed that we couldn’t get some clothing sent to laundry on a weekend. But we enjoyed the large room and the location. Read more about the hotel on the hotel homepage.

Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Trip report from Myanmar Sep 24

My wife and I went to Myanmar in July 2015. We got to check out Yangon, the amazing temple zone in Bagan and then Mandalay. I have posted a long trip report with pictures and links on my homepage . You can also see lots of photos on this page.  It was amazing to check out Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon and look at the view of all the temples of Bagan at sunset. Go now and check out Myanmar before it gets too crowded! Get in touch if you have any questions or comments :-)

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Tours of the Stavanger area–Outdoorlife Norway Feb 19

outdoorlife-norway-logo-transIf you are coming to Stavanger in the middle of the tourist season (from April/May to August/September) it is quite easy to check out most of the attractions here – like Kjerag, Preikestolen and even Trolltunga (located in the Hardanger area) But if you come earlier in the season or later it has been tricky to get to some of these places by public transportation. But now there is a new tour operator in town: Outdoorlife Norway! You can get them to take you to e.g. Preikestolen in the middle of winter on snowshoes or hike to various other places in the area. I hope this will make it easier for tourists that visits Stavanger in the future. Note that it is tricky to get to Kjerag in the winter as the road into Lysebotn is normally closed for the winter and it is only opened again in early to mid May!

Regards
Gard
http://www.gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

 

 

 

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Trip report from Macau Feb 18

In November 2014 Nikki and I went to Macau in China for a few days. We got to see the historical city center in this former Portuguese colony and we got to try out some of the Macanese specialties. But we also got to check out the view from the Macau Tower – and when I say check out the view I mean the view from the very top. We took an organized climb to the top of the mast of the tower and the view from 338 meters was spectacular. You can read the trip report with photos, links and maps in this Macau trip report on gardkarlsen.com . Get in touch if you have any questions.

Regards
Gard
http://www.gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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NH President in Milan, Italy Oct 22

P1070236I have been to Milan a couple of times before and I have stayed near Milan Central Station. This time I decided to stay closer to the city center and I booked NH President on an online hotel booking site. We took a taxi from Linate airport to the hotel as the airport is not that far from the city center. Check in was fast and we got a room even if we got there earlier than the official check in time. We got room 504 on the 5th floor and we were quite surprised when we walked into the room as it was quite big and it looked quite “fresh”.

P1070241The floors were in light wood, the walls were in pretty neutral but delicate colors and we had a view to the road Corso di Porta Vittoria. We were also quite pleased to see that our room had a balcony and when stepping out on it we could see over to the amazing Duomo. There were a bit of traffic on the road outside the hotel but we did not hear much of this when the door to the balcony was closed.

P1070247The king size bed was quite comfortable and contained a number of pillows with various shapes and firmness. Apart from that the room had a desk with a couple of chairs, a flat screen TV on the wall and a wardrobe (it would have been great with more hangers). In the wardrobe area there was also a small safe and a small fridge with various drinks – to give you an idea of the cost a Coke was 4.5€.  It was also impressive to see that there was a small coffee machine to brew your own coffee.

I think there must have been something wrong with the aircon in the room – we had it set to 25 degrees Celsius but it was still freezing in the room. But luckily the bed had a good enough duvet to keep us warm and being from Norway we are used to cold bedrooms.

The bathroom was also functional with sand colored tiles and a bathtub with a shower option in addition to the toilet and bide. The shower option in the bathtub worked for once as there was a glass wall to avoid splashing of water on the floor. There were also amenities like shampoo, conditioner, bath gel etc. 

It was great to see that the internet was included and login was with room number and surname. Breakfast was also included in our stay and it was not that memorable but it contained all that you need including bread, cereal, juice, coffee, fruit etc

The location of the hotel is very good in my opinion. It is only takes like 5 minutes to walk over to the Duomo so you are basically in the middle of town. All in all I was pretty happy with this hotel and I would not hesitate to recommend this to family and friends.

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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