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Travelers’ choice award 2010 May 10

TripAdvisor has released their Travelers’ choice award 2010 and you can see all the lists on their web site. The top 10 lists are split into categories like top 10 for beach & sun, for culture & sightseeing, for food & wine, for romance and so on. I’m not sure I trust these lists completely but at least they can give you some ideas if you have no idea where to travel ;-) Have you looked at the list and do you agree with the awards?

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Burj Khalifa viewing platform closed Feb 10

It is not long ago since Burj Khalifa (also know as Burj Dubai) opened officially and the viewing platform called “At the top” opened up for the first guest on the 124th floor. But now there are news saying that the viewing platform has been closed indefinitely. The reason for this closing seems to be vague but things like “unexpected high traffic” and “electrical problems” has been mentioned. Nikki and I went to Dubai last year (as you can see in this Dubai trip report) and at the time the building was not open – but what an impressive building! But now it remains to be seen how long it will take before guests once again can enjoy the view from the 124th floor.

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Google Street View – finally a reality for Stavanger Feb 09

A few years back Google introduced the service known as Street View. They basically take  car and drive through the city strrets and they take photos. This is linked up to Google Maps and this means that you can take virtual walks in cities like London, New York, Paris etc. But now the turn has finally come to my beloved hometown Stavanger :-) It seems like the photos have been taken on a pretty nice autumn day last year and you can walk around a lot of the streets in downtown Stavanger. So the only thing missing now Google is a good satellite image of the city center itself!! So start by a walk from the Norwegian Petroleum museum, Or maybe walk past the iron age farm, check out the beach at Sola, check out the view of the city from the bridge leading over to Hundvåg etc.  Welcome to Stavanger…both virtually and in real life ;-)

List of places to go and places to stay Jan 12

As it is a new year there are articles popping up suggesting where to go and places to see. I never quite understood these lists as it all depends on what you want to see and what budget your are on.  But anyway; New York Times have printed this article called “The 31 Places to Go in 2010” and it includes places like Sri Lanka, Patagonia Wine country, Seoul (apparently Tokyo is soooo 2009), Mysore in India, Copenhagen, Koh Kood in Thailand (the next Samui?), Damascus in Syria (the next Marrakesh), Cesme in Turkey, Antartica??? and Leipzig.

Condé Nast Traveller has also published a list of places you want to stay at in 2010. The list is called “The Gold list 2010” and it covers more than 100 recommended hotels. The “winner” this year is Cliveden in Berkshire followed by the Ritz in London, The Balmoral in Edinburgh, Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, Ellerman House in Cape Town in South Africa (now we are getting somewhere ;-) ), The Ritz-Carlton in Dubai, The Oberoi Mauritius and The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Mumbai. I don’t think I  have stayed at any of these hotels…I get a feeling that most of them are on the expensive side ;-) Have you stayed at any of them?

Where to go, where to go… Jan 11

We have started thinking about where to go during Easter but we can’t make up our mind. We would like to go for a week or two so we probably want to keep the flight less than 6-7 hours and we would also want to avoid a big time difference in order to not be too jet-lagged ;-) We have been thinking of places like Istanbul in Turkey, Egypt, maybe Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. maybe Portugal. So have you got any great recommendation on where to go during Easter (around April 1st 2010)? Have you been to any of the places that I have mention and would you recommend it?

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Time to go to Thailand Nov 07

We are going to Thailand today :-) This will be the last vacation this year and we look forward to some beach, sun and relaxation. Going from Stavanger in Norway at 8 degrees Celsius to Thailand with 30+ degrees is quite a change that’s for sure. But we look forward to the hectic city life in Bangkok and the relaxing beach life at Phuket. This is not our first time in Bangkok – as you can see from our homepage we have been to this city a few times before. It can be a stressful city to start with…all the noise, the traffic, the tuk-tuk drivers that tries to trick you, the scent on the streets, the hot and humid weather etc. But once you get past that you will find a city full of contrast, good food, friendly people, peaceful and colorful temples, great shopping etc. After a few days in Bangkok we are going to Phuket and to Kata beach. We went to Phuket many years ago and back then we stayed at Patong beach. Obviously things have changed quite a lot as we all remember the tsunami in 2004. Our hotel is Avista on Kata beach and it is actually brand new so it will be exciting to see if everything is up and running when we arrive :-) So if you do run into us on the streets of Bangkok or on the beaches of Phuket, don’t hesitate to say Hi :-)

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Walk the streets with Google Street View Nov 05

As some of you have noticed, I’m a bit of a fan of Google…and one of the greatest tools is Google maps which I have used to map out cities that I have been to (see an example in my Rome Google map). In connection with the Google maps there is also another great tool called Google Street View. Some cities around the world have been photographed on street level and this allows the user to walk virtually through the cities – this means that you can e.g. check out the area around the hotel that you are about to book, or “walk” to the restaurant that you are thinking about visiting etc.  If you are wondering which cities that have been mapped please check out this Wikipedia page. So how about walking past Collosseum in Rome to get an idea of how it looks :-) Just zoom in on the city and drag the little orange map into the street that you want to take a closer look at and then start by moving around by clicking on the arrows that run along the street. Here is my Rome trip report in case you need some more background information:

Where do you book your hotel? Nov 03

I just booked a hotel for our vacation in Phuket in Thailand and when I check the hotel website directly I think the price was something like 5100 Baht (about 152 USD) per night which is not too bad for a 4/5 star hotel. But then I checked on and the same room was offered for 92 USD. I got in touch with the hotel again and told them that I would love to book directly with the hotel if they could offer prices like Agoda but they just quoted their official price list. So in the end I did book the hotel using Agoda and the hotel has confirmed that the reservation is OK. So how can Agoda offer the same room for 60 USD less than the hotel itself? I have no idea – I just know that if you are going to book a hotel you should check several places to get the best deal. In the past I have used places like , and now Agoda. But you should also note that in some cases the best prices comes from checking with the hotel reservation office. So how do you try to get the best prices when booking hotel and which hotel sites do you use?

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Getting ready for Hong Kong Sep 25

Tomorrow morning I’m going to Hong Kong and I’m first of all looking forward to the First class experience on Lufthansa both on the ground and in the air ;-) So I’ll be starting at the crack of dawn with a flight from Stavanger to Frankfurt and after a few hours I’m going to Hong Kong on the upper floor of a Lufthansa 747. This will be a pretty short trip but I have to admit that I’m not very good at packing. There are websites dedicated to how to pack smart and light but I have never been any good at that. I normally start the night before I travel and pack in state of panic I guess and I normally bring too much. But hey, better safe than sorry right? Below is my trusted Samsonite suitcase in the process of being filled  ;-) So what does one wear when flying first class I wonder? I have prepared my tuxedo and hope that will be sufficient ;-)

The Globetrotter’s handbook Sep 01

I got a copy of the Globetrotter’s handbook a couple of years back and I think it is a fun tool if you are backpacking through lots of countries as you get info on countries, there are maps, you can write down your flights, vaccination register, conversion tables, map showing time zones, pages for notes and a lot more. The book was a lot smaller than expected but I guess it makes sense as you have to be able to bring it along where ever you go. But I have to admit that I have not used it…as a Samsonite suitcase traveler I don’t really have any use for it as I usually bring my laptop and that means that I can find most of the info online. But still…if you are going backpacking this book might be a fun tool for you :-)

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