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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 :-)

Gard – 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!

Gard – 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 . Get in touch if you have any questions.

Gard – 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.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Trip report from the Philippines in July 2014 Aug 25

Gard and Nikki in sunset on Boracay. Photo by Dongeun MinNikki and I went to the Philippines in July 2014 and we had a chance to check out metro Manila, Bohol/Panglao, Boracay and a short stop in Cebu. The most amazing moments were probably swimming with whale sharks in Oslob in Cebu and coming to our hotel in Boracay and seeing the beautiful White beach for the first time.  You can check out the trip report with pictures, links and maps on the homepage . I hope that the trip report can be of use to other people that are planning a visit to the Philippines. Get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Cooking class with Gamidah in Cape Town May 13

We have been to Cape Town before and we have walked through the beautiful and colorful Bo Kaap area before. This time we decided to do a cooking class in this area to learn more about cooking Cape Malay style. My wife found and booked a class with Lekka Kombuis (which means something like tasty kitchen ). I did not really know what to expect but we walked to the address that we had been given. When we got there we were a bit confused as it looked like a regular house. I knocked on the door and it turned out to be the right place – the cooking class would actually take place in the home of Gamidah Jacobs. Gamidah greeted us into her home and it felt like coming over to a friend as she was like “Sit down for  second – I just have to finish cleaning the floor in the kitchen”.

But we soon got into the cooking with Gamidah and this was not the kind of class were you just get to look. We had to get into it and help with all the dishes – it turned out that it was only my wife and I in the cooking class and hence we felt like we got a special treat. We started out by frying up onions and spices to get started on the chicken curry and as we were working we chatted with Gamidah about family, history, about everyday life etc. While the curry was boiling we got started on the roti and we made it from scratch – I guess it is all in the wrist as Gamidah made it look so easy – the same goes for the samosas! In the end we fried up the roti, samosas and chili bites and we got to eat what we just made as lunch.

All in all I would say that this is the best cooking class ever. We got a special treat by being invited into Gamidah’s home and we got to cook with her – in her kitchen! How amazing is that. It didn’t feel like a cooking class but rather being invited over to a friend and cooking together. She treated us like friends and telling us about family, about her husband and kids. We got to make the food step by step and she gave us useful instructions and hints. If you are planning on taking a cooking class in Cape Town – look no further. I can highly recommend Lekka Kombuis. And Gamidah…if you make it to Stavanger in Norway let me know. I will invite you over to our house and cook some Norwegian food with you!

Read more about the cooking class on the Lekka Kombuis homepage.

Gard – trip reports and pictures


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Villa Zest in Cape Town–great boutique hotel May 06

We stayed at Villa Zest for 3 days in April 2014 – we booked it directly on the boutique hotel homepage and we choose it as the reviews were good and we wanted to stay at Green Point. When we landed at Cape Town airport we decided to take the bus into town as MyCiTi buses stops at Stadium (Green Point Stadium) and it is a short walk from the hotel.

This is a boutique hotel and there is only like 7 rooms. When we got there we rang the “doorbell” and the gate was buzzed open. The house seemed like just a large villa and we got a great welcome by the receptionist. Our room was not ready just yet but she used the opportunity to take us for a small tour of the hotel and to give us a welcome drink. It only took a few minutes for the room to get ready and we got a room on the ground level.

The room has white tiles on the floor with a furry carpet. The room and hotel seems pretty new so the interior is quite modern. The room was not that big but it included a pretty comfortable king-size bed, a tiny desk and a funky chair, wardrobe space and a tiny flat screen TV. On the desk we found all the stuff that you need to make some coffee and tea and also a couple of bottles of water that was complimentary even if you can drink the tap water. We also had a nice modern bathroom with a large shower, a bathtub and a sink with some amenities. My wife was quite impressed when she saw that one of the amenities was a makeup remover serviette.

Outside the villa there was a small garden with a swimming pool that we never got to try out – but it looked very inviting. There was also a corner with a sofa and a gas fire place and around the pool there were enough sunbeds. The lobby area had some funky decorations – apparently the owner is inspired by the 70’s and there were lots of old phones, 8 track players and some funky wall papers. A staircase took us to the next floor and that was used as a lounge area and breakfast area. The breakfast was pretty simple but we had all the stuff that we needed…bread, cereal, fruit and you could order eggs made your way. At night you could use the lounge area to just relax in the sofa and watch some TV and sit in front of the gas fire place – and the hotel also had free wifi in the room and in the lounge area. There was yet another staircase leading up to a small but wonderful rooftop terrace but we did not get to use that much as we were on the move most of the time.

The location of the hotel is great – it was possible to walk into the city bowl or to the V&A waterfront in like 20 minutes but it was also easy to get around by cab.

All in all we really enjoyed the Villa Zest experience. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful and chatted with us and helped us organize taxis at night (apparently the area is not that safe for walking at night). If you are going to Cape Town and want to stay at a small hotel, I can’t imagine that it can get much better than Villa Zest. Read more about the hotel on the hotel website.


Pumba Private Game reserve–a great safari experience May 05

It is a bit tricky to write about Pumba just focusing about the accommodation as the game driving is a part of the whole experience. But I will try to focus on the Pumba camp in this review.

We booked the Pumba safari online on their homepage and there was a bit of back and forth as I was not able to pay with my credit card so I had to fill out some forms and send this over to Pumba and that was of course a bit of a hassle. We also booked pick up at Port Elizabeth Airport and transfer to Gramhamstown after the safari. When we got to Pumba we had to wait for a few minutes before we were picked up by one of the rangers in a Range Rover – I guess it was a good thing as the road into the Msenge lounge is rather bumpy. But it didn’t take us long before we saw various bucks and a rock monitor and we were contemplating if the animals had been put there on display just for our viewing pleasure.

When we got to the Msenge lodge we were taken to the reception and a huge Blesbuck was feeding on some trees right outside the entrance. We had to sign some papers where we probably signed that we could not sue them if we were eaten by a lion and then we were taken to lodge H. The room itself was great –as you walked in we were met by a large bed surrounded by a mosquito net and the room was surrounded by large windows – this gave us access to a terrace and also a view to the surroundings including a view to the watering hole. The room also included a closet with a small fridge, a table and a couple of chairs, a torch, a pair of binoculars, a desk and a wood fired oven. It gets cold at night in South Africa and it was great to light the small fire place on the first evening and fall asleep to the sounds and sights of a fire place.

The next room was the bathroom and the walk in wardrobe – when we came to our lodge the suitcases had already been placed in the wardrobe and it also included a small safe. The bathroom was incredible – is included two sinks with various amenities (including SPF 15 and mosquito repellent), a large glassed shower that allowed us to take a shower while keeping an eye on what was happening outside and there was also a bathtub where you could take a relaxing bath while looking at the animals outside. There was a separate room for the toilet and also a door leading out to an outside shower. But there were several doors leading out to the balcony / terrace where there was a couple of sunbeds, a parasol and a plunge in pool. I jumped in the first afternoon that we got there and it was pretty freezing.

All out meals were included so in the mornings we had breakfast after the game drive. Lunch was a three course menu and it was possible to enjoy it on the lounge deck which included a view to the watering hole where giraffes, zebras, bucks etc came to drink. At night we also had a three course dinner with free wine and various other drinks but it was also possible to order special vintage wine if you were looking for something special. All the food was served in the main lodge and that included a small gift shop, a small PC room (there was free wifi in the main lodge),  a game room and the restaurant – there was also a fire place in the middle of this main lodge and it was great to sit around the fire place at night, look at the stars and look at the menu for the evening.

There were also a couple of other buildings that included a spa, a gym and conference facilities. We tried the gym one day and the treadmill was not the great and Nikki was not that impressed with her manicure. We were pretty impressed with the food –the dinner was a nice selection of salads, soups, vegetarian and meat so it was not a problem finding some good options.

The Pumba Privat Game Reserve is located right outside Grahamstown and about 1 hour from Port Elizabeth so the location is not that ideal. But the game drives were great and we got to see elephants, while lions, rhinos, hippos, bucks etc.

All in all we were very happy with our stay at Pumba. I think that the safari experience is probably better in the Kruger park area but this was also a great experience. If you are looking for a safari experience in the Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, Pumba is a great option.



The new EuroBonus is here! Feb 24

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) frequent flyer program EuroBonus will be launched in a version 2.0  in April 2014. There has been rumors about what will be new in the program but recently the secret was revealed. First of all: there will be a new Diamond level! The Pandion “level” will not be removed but it is still only by invitation only.  Read all about the new features on

Gard – trip reports and pictures


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Good hotel for a ski vacation Feb 19

P1040934We stayed at Cristal Palace hotel in February 2014 during a short ski vacation there. It was tricky to pick a hotel in Madonna di Campiglio but in the end we chose Cristal Palace hotel as the reviews were pretty good, the hotel looked pretty new and the location seemed pretty good. I used to book the hotel room and we had to pay a total of 1168 € for 4 nights including breakfast and taxes.

P1040997We came to the hotel in the afternoon in a rented car from Verona and we managed to find the hotel without too much trouble…thanks to Google maps and Google street view. Check in was fast and we got some vague instructions on how to get to the garage at the hotel – we did manage to find it and we were able to squeeze in the rental car. There were lots and lots of snow so the roads were lined by walls of snow. There is a lift straight from the garage to the hotel floors which is great. The hotel didn’t look that big from the entrance but the hotel has about 7 stories.

P1050063We got room 602 on the top floor and we were quite pleased with the room at first glance. The room was fairly big and was dominated by lots of wooden panels and fabric “wallpaper” with matching pattern on the curtains. There was a big bed with one duvet which was comfortable enough but Nikki was not that happy with the pillow. There was a small desk with a chair, a small flat screen TV that was mounted on the wall and a wardrobe that had a few hangers – P1050070but it would have been great with even more hangers to hang up wet ski wear towards the end of the day. There was also a small safe and a small fridge. The room had a small balcony with a couple of chairs but we didn’t use it. The room had a high ceiling that made the room feel more spacious. The bathroom included a toilet, sink, bide, and large shower corner. It was all tiled with some sort of marble tiles and it was an inviting bathroom. There were some amenities – a shampoo and bath soap in one bottle, a bottle with some liquid soap in the shower itself and a box with sewing kit, shower cap etc.

The internet was also included and it was easy to get online using some of your social media details (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc). The internet speed is not impressive but it did the job.

P1040994Breakfast was included and was served on the third floor. The breakfast area had big windows facing the center of Madonna di Campiglio and the view was breathtaking as the hotel is located on a hill above the city center. Breakfast was not bad at all with a selection of eggs, bacon and sausages but also some cereal, fruit, bread and of course lots of sweet pastries. And as you would expect in Italy – you can ask for coffee and they make it fresh for you. So I enjoyed some espresso, some espresso macchiato etc. We did not try the hotel restaurant at night but we did have a glass of wine there. I thought it was a bit much to charge 10€ for small glass of red wine.

P1050074On level 1 of the hotel there is a spa – it included a pool, a Jacuzzi but also a separate room with a sauna, steam room and showers. It was great to sit in the warm steam room and sauna after a day in the ski slopes so don’t forget to bring your swimwear. There were some rules about access to the sauna/steam room for kids but it didn’t seem like people paid much attention to the rules. 

P1050060The location of the hotel is not bad. Located on the hillside just north of the city center it gives you great view of the city and some of the ski areas. But it seemed like the only way of walking to the city center was to follow the main road and that can be a bit scary in the dark, with slippery roads and with the road being narrow due to all the snow. There is a hotel shuttle but it is not always convenient to wait for that to show up and it stops running at about 8 pm so you will have to walk back home at night. It only takes about 5 minutes to walk to Pradalago ski lift so it doesn’t take long to get to restaurants and the city center.

P1050082The service at the hotel was both good and bad. When we asked for info about where to rent skis we were told that the shuttle would take us to a place in the city center. The shuttle took a bit of time so I asked if the people in the reception could point out where the place was on the map but they did not seem willing to do this for some reason. We tried to call the reception one evening to ask if we could get an iron and ironing board sent to our room – it took quite a bit of time to explain this and in the end the answer was no. The room was a bit warm and we tried to adjust the temperature without success. One day the AC just said “Help” and there were some clicking sounds from the fuse box but it seemed like the hotel staff was able to fix it. But we were very happy with the service from the shuttle drivers and the personnel in the breakfast area.

Even if there are some things that can be improved we were overall pleased with Cristal Palace hotel. The room was large, bed was comfortable and the spa was great after a day in the slopes. The hotel is not far from the city center but you will have to walk along the main road which can be a bit dangerous in the dark. But all in all – we would probably stay at Cristal Palace hotel again if we return to Madonna di Campiglio.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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