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Tag-Archive for "Travel planning"

The best rooftop bars in Bangkok Apr 18

I enjoy having a drink with a view and in some cities there are many bars to choose from. I have been to Bangkok a few times and I was blown away by the view from Vertigo on the Banyan tree building (you can read one of my Bangkok trip reports on my homepage). The local paper here in Stavanger had an article the other day about new places in Bangkok that might be worth checking out. Here is the list:

 Up & above: Seems to be both a bar and restaurant and it is located at hotel Okura near Ploen Chit skytrain station. Located on the 24th floor.

L’Appart: French restaurant located in Sofitel hotel near Nana. The restaurant is located on 32nd floor and according to the article it is decorated as a French apartment and there is also a balcony where you can enjoy food and drinks.

Park Society & Hi So: another new place located at a Sofitel hotel. This time it is the hotel located near the Lumpini stop on the subway. Park Society is the restaurant part of this concept and it is located on 29th floor. Hi So is the bar and it is located on the roof.

Zense: this place is located on top of the CentralWorld chopping complex in the middle of Bangkok. It is “only” on the 17th floor but it can offer restaurants, bars, indoor and outdoor seat etc.

Speakeasy: this bar is located on top of the trendy hotel Muse. It seems to be located on level 24 and 25 and the hotel is on Langsuan Road. The bar also seems to have a cigar lounge called Blind pig.

Red Sky and Fifty five: Red sky is the bar part and Fifty five is the restaurant. It is located on top of Centara hotel at the Central World complex and the view is of course great from 55th floor.

Vertigo and Moon bar: I guess the original roof top bar in Bangkok. From 61st floor you get an amazing view of Bangkok. Located on the Banyan tree building on Sathorn Road.

Sirocco, Distil and Breeze: Sirocco sky bar is located on the top of Lebua hotel on Silom road. You get a very nice view of Bangkok from the bar on 63rd floor. Breeze is a restaurant on 52nd floor that offers great view of the river.

So if you are going to Bangkok – now you have a few places to check out if you want a drink with a view Smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

SeatGuru by TripAdvisor–now on iPhone Mar 20

If you have travelled a bit, I’m sure you have heard about Seatguru or maybe you have even used it online on . This tool gives you an idea about the seats onboard the planes of various airlines and it gives you the opportunity to pick what can seem like the best seat at least. Now this tool is finally available on iPhone and you can download it from iTunes (see this page for more information). I do use SeatGuru all the time when I travel to get an idea where I will be seated and it can be great to find the right seat at least when you are traveling in economy and you want to avoid the worst seats! With this app you can have a great tool with you all the time to make sure you pick the right seat Winking smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Best travel apps for the iPhone May 09

I love the iPhone as a travel gadget – there are lots of very useful tools (and quite a number of rubbish tools as well) that you can download as apps. AOLTravel has looked into that and here is their list of the 11 best travel apps. One of the apps on the list this year is Gowalla , the app that allows you to check in at places when you travel, write something about them and build a sort of virtual passport as you go along. I think it is a fun app and you can see my profile on . I think Google MyMaps is probably the best travel tool on the iPhone but note that accessing the internet and using apps that require data traffic can be very, very expensive indeed (I experienced this in 5 minutes in Shanghai). The solution can be to buy a new sim card when you travel as that is normally not that expensive. What are your favorite travel apps?

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How to Travel Around the World for $418 Dec 19

I came over this story about a guy that wanted to travel around the world for as little money as possible. And how can that be done? Well, by earning air miles in various creative ways in the USA :-) It turns out that there are quite a few lucrative deals for earning miles by using credit cards in the USA, you just have to know about all the rules and deals out there. Check out this article on Gizmodo as it is quite interesting to read how he earned the points, how to use the points and how to afford traveling for a longer period of time and so on. There are also a few links to other pages that might be useful. Unfortunately we don’t have the same credit card deal in Norway so some of these advices are limited to readers in the USA. But it is still a fascinating story :-) If you want to read an even more creative way of earning air miles you should check out Tyler’s story “The day I bought $15,000“. Tyler bought 15.000 USD from US Mint and then went to the bank to sell them again to cover the credit card bill – quite brilliant ;-)

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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My trip report from Bologna in Italy Nov 02

Hi all

Nikki and I went to Bologna in Italy this summer. We first spent a few days in the city itself and stayed at Hotel Touring (see the hotel review here) in the city center. After that we changed hotel to Savhotel located just a bit out of the city center and we rented a car and we had some road trips to places like Ferrara, Ravenna and Modena. I have now posted the trip report with photos, videos, maps etc. on this page. I hope that it can be of some use to others that are going to Bologna and the surrounding area.

If you want to have an idea about eating out in Bologna you can also check out this section of the trip report . As you will see, there are lots of good restaurants and LOTS of good food to be eaten in this city. I have also made this interactive Bologna Google map that shows the location of the restaurants and attractions that we went to.
Well, there it is…hope that you guys will enjoy it. As always, let me know if you see something that needs to be corrected or fixed in the trip report. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Review of Hotel Touring in Bologna in Italy Aug 12

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_entranceWe stayed at Hotel Touring in Bologna from July 21st to July 26th 2010. We chose this hotel as it was located near the city center and we wanted to explore the city by foot. I booked the hotel online and went for a gold room costing 119 € per night. We arrived late at night at the hotel – the city is only about 15-20 minute taxi ride from the airport. Check in was fast and we got room 333. The tiny lift was not big enough for us and our two large suitcases so I sent my wife together with the suitcases in the lift and went for the staircase myself. The room had a small corridor leading into the room and on the left hand side was a bathroom. The room itself had light wooden floor and was painted in light colors with some yellow/gold wall paper behind the bed. The room was not very large so fitting our two suitcases in there was a bit of a puzzle. The wardrobe area included a tiny TV with a few channels (but only 1 English speaking channel), a few hangers, shelves and also a safe large enough for our laptops and a tiny fridge with a small selection of drinks – the fridge was not very good as it could hardly keep the drinks cold.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_bedThe bed only included a thin blanket as duvet so finding the right temperature at night was a bit tricky – the aircon only included two buttons saying “Too warm” and “Too cold” so it was easy at least. The bed itself must be one of the most uncomfortable beds that I have had in a hotel as it was way too hard for my liking. There was also a tiny desk and a chair and there were sockets on each side of the bed so charging phones etc was a breeze. The bathroom seemed quite new and it was tiled in light tiles – the room included a toilet, bide, sink and for once just a shower – I think bathtubs should have been left out of hotel rooms as I hardly use them. The shower was quite large and featured a sliding door to enter it. There was a large rainforest showerhead but the only problem was that the drain didn’t seem able to keep up with the shower – the shower would very quickly turn into a footbath. Maybe it is a genius way of getting people to use less water when showering. There were not that many amenities but there were shampoo, soap and shower cap at least.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_room_terraceOne of the first things we noticed when we came into the room was the pleasant and sweet scent – there were sticks in a small bottle on the desk and I guess it is a signature of the hotel as they had the same in the reception etc. When we woke up the next day we also noticed that we had gotten a room with an enormous balcony. The balcony included two chairs and a table, one sun bed and one reclining chair. In the afternoon we had sun on the entire balcony – but I’m not sure that it was a great idea to put cast iron chairs in the sun on the balcony. When sitting down on one in the afternoon I felt like I got branded as they were so hot. If you don’t get a room with a large balcony you can head for the rooftop garden on the 5th floor. From here you get an amazing view of Bologna in pretty much every direction. I think you can also get drinks served there in the afternoon if you don’t want to walk out of the hotel to find a place for you aperetivo.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_deskThe breakfast at the hotel was served in the vaulted rooms in the basement – the breakfast was simple but included the basics of cereal, bread, fruit, juice etc and if you ask nicely you can even get a proper espresso or cappuccino. If you want to iron something they have an iron and ironing board located in the room next to the breakfast room – just ask and they will set it up for you.
The location of the hotel is great – located more or less next to Basilica of San Domenico and it took us only a few minutes to walk to Piazza Galvani and from there to Piazza Maggiore (it is only 600 meters to walk Piazza Maggiore). If you like your high-end shopping you’ll be glad to know that the hotel is also close to Via Farini which includes stores like Hermes, Louis Vuitton etc. We had our aperetivo a couple of times at Caffé San Domenico located on the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and I can recommend the Aperol Spritz ;-)

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_wardrobe_TVIt seems like Hotel Touring has gotten on the list of “Most charming hotels” and they seem confident with their product. When I checked out I even got a little note saying “Remember to post your review on TripAdvisor” – ah, the power of the internet. But there are a few things that could have been improved. When we checked in I think I asked about the Wi-Fi and I was told it was 10 € pr day. The next day I tried to use the PC in the reception and I needed a password and the girl that was working said that as I was staying in a gold room the Wi-Fi was free and I got a username and password. It would have been great to get this when checking in.
I have already mentioned the other things – the shower drain was not very good and the bed was soo hard that I had problem sleeping.

Hotel Touring is a charming hotel with a good location in the Bologna city center. The staff was helpful and smiling at all times. The room seemed to be fairly recently refurbished and even if it was a bit on the tiny side we still enjoyed our stay there and the balcony that we had was amazing. But the bed was the real drawback for me but I guess it all depends on what kind of bed you like. All in all, if you can handle a hard bed this is not a bad hotel for checking out the city center of Bologna.


View from the rooftop terrace



Review of Savhotel in Bologna Aug 10

Savhotel_Bologna_entranceWe stayed at Savhotel in Bologna from July 26th to July 30th 2010 after we had stayed at Hotel Touring in the center of Bologna first. The reason for choosing Savhotel was that it was a bit in the outskirts which made it easier for us when we wanted to drive out of Bologna to explore some of Emilia-Romagna. At the same time the rate was low, it is a fairly new hotel and close enough to the city center so that we could enjoy restaurant in Bologna at night. After we picked up a rental car at the Marconi airport in Bologna we had a bit of problem finding Savhotel_Bologna_deskthe hotel as the street of the hotel was not in our GPS. But we figured it out by putting in one of the streets nearby (Via della Liberazione) and after that we just followed the signs. Savhotel seems to be a very new hotel located just north of the ring road of Bologna – the area around the hotel seems to be a mixture of flats, new office buildings etc. We got room 303 and the room was quite inviting when we first entered the room. The room was setup with a modern design but it was not that big. The floor was laid down with dark wood and the walls had light wall paper.

Savhotel_Bologna_bedThe centerpiece of the room was a king-size bed that was firm but far better than the mattress at the Hotel Touring that we had stayed at the previous nights (see separate review). On each side of the bed there were cubes that acted as both as a small table and lighting as they were illuminated from within. The reading light on each side could have been better as it was not very bright and rather flimsy. There was also a desk facing the window with a good light over it and a plug for the laptop – excellent setup.

Savhotel_Bologna_TVThere was a tiny flat screen TV in the room that has a good selection of channels and both CNN and BBC – but I would have liked to see a bit larger TV. The wardrobe area included hangers, shelves, a small fridge with some sodas/beers/snacks and a safe that was large enough for storing the laptop. The bathroom was tiled in light tiles and included a toilet, bide, sink andSavhotel_Bologna_bathroom bathtub which included the showering option. There were not that many amenities but as long as there is some shampoo I’m happy. The shower option in the bathtub worked out pretty good as a glass wall acted as a shield preventing splashing everywhere. The ventilation in the room was not that great so after we had taken a shower the humidity would pour down from the walls and mirror. The bathroom was separated from the room by a frosted glass door.

Savhotel_Bologna_breakfast_selectionThe breakfast area was right next to the reception and it included a decent breakfast. There was small selection of cereal, some buns, some options of mortadella ham, cheese and salami to put on the bread, ricotta, nutella and also some cakes, fruits and even egg and bacon. As usual, we had to ask to get a proper espresso but that was brought to our table with a smile. The parking facility at the hotel wasSavhotel_Bologna_wardrobe excellent – there was a parking area in the basement and we could take the lift straight to our floor. They also kept the bicycles in the parking area and we could borrow these free of charge – the only annoying thing was the form that I had to fill out every time I picked up the bikes. The bikes also came with large locks and according to one of the guys in the reception it was important to use the locks when parking in Bologna as bike thefts are not uncommon. The bikes were in great condition.

As mentioned, the hotel is located just north of the city center and it was easy to bike into town. There was a bike lane leading towards the city center and from there we just biked in the streets. Getting into Piazza Maggiore didn’t take more than about 10 minutes biking at a slow pace (it is 2,5 km/1,5 miles to Piazza Maggiore).

Savhotel_Bologna_breakfast_areaLet’s talk about some of the things that can be improved at the hotel. It was great with the free Wi-Fi but it was annoying that we had to call the reception to get a cryptic username and password and it also expired in the middle of our stay and I had to call the reception again to get a new username and password. The Wi-Fi signal was quite weak and I was not able to pick up a signal with my iPhone 3G in the room (but my wife got a signal with her 3GS). When we checked in, our clothes had been in and out of our suitcases and were in desperate need for some ironing. But the room did not include this and when we called the front desk we were told that we were not allowed to have an iron in the room and they did not have a room where we could do the ironing. So the only option was sending the clothing to the laundry service for ironing – this is something that I think the hotel has to rethink.

We were a bit surprised to find that the hotel is quite “noisy”. As it is a pretty new hotel I thought there would be better sound insulation between the rooms and hall. But we could hear the TV from the next room and it was easy to hear the cleaning personnel doing their job in the morning. Another thing that was a bit noisy was the aircon. When it was running it was not a problem but when starting and stopping it made a bit of noise.

If you have a car this hotel is a great option to use as a base for exploring the region as it makes it easier when it comes to driving (as driving in the city center seems to be a nightmare) and it is still close enough to the center to make it possible to enjoy restaurants there at night. The rate was 62€ for the room and that is not bad when it included taxes, breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi, free parking inside, bikes that we could use etc. But if you are just in Bologna to check out the city center I would recommend finding a hotel within the ring road and in a more charming neighborhood.

New mega hotel in Singapore Jul 17

There is a new hotel in town and the name is Marina Bay Sands. Hotels opens all the time you might say but some hotels are more of an eye catcher than others and Marina Bay Sands is one of them it looks like. First of all there are three towers with 55 floor each and on top they are all connected on top with the so called Skypark which includes one of the largest pools in the world and it is even an infinity style pool so this is not for people with fear of heights :-) With about 2500 rooms this is the biggest hotel in Singapore at the moment. Hmmm…maybe I have to go to Singapore again and see how it has changed since the last time I was there :-) Anyway, here is a review of the hotel by Kate Schneider in

Trip report from Shanghai in China Jul 11

Nikki and I went to Shanghai in China in May 2010 and we visited World Expo 2010, Jin Mao building, Shanghai World Financial Center, the aquarium, Oriental Pear Tower etc. Here is a trip report with photos, links and videos: . I have also made this Shanghai Google map to give people an idea of where the various attractions are located. I hope that it can give people an idea of what to expect if you are heading to this metropolis. Get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

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How to Blend In with the Locals: 20 Tips May 11

From time to time there are articles on various travel sites and discussions in various communities on how to blend in with the locals when you are traveling. I’m not sure I understand all the fuzz when it comes to this topic….most likely you are going to stick out like a sore thumb if you are traveling to an exotic destination no matter how you dress or if you try to hide your camera or not  ;-) I think you can come a long way just by being friendly, by smiling to the people you meet, have an open mind and be open to the fact that things can work differently than what you are used to back home. On the right is a photo of me trying to blend in with the locals in Berlin by drinking a large beer – I know, I sacrifice myself to fit in ;-) Anyway, here is the list from Independent on how to blend in with the locals.

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