Archive for the ‘9.9 Norway’ Category

Interesting facts about Hotels in Scandinavia

Some interesting observations I made after having stayed at several hotels in Norway and Denmark for the last 1.5 weeks.

1. A lot of the hotels do not provide a kettle/jug for boiling water. If you are lucky, you will be given one upon request. My hotel in Copenhagen did not have a kettle for us. Luckily, the receptionist helped us fill up our thermos with hot water. Needless to say, there is no tea or coffee sachets in the room. However, 2 of our hotels so far have a complimentary tea and coffee service in the lobby bar. It’s nice to be able to sit at the lobby bar for a cuppa after a long blustery day of hard exploring.

2. The bathrooms seem to be designed in an odd way, of which I have yet to find a reason why. I have stayed in hotels in countries such as China, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, and always, the shower area is either recessed or has a door to prevent the shower water from flowing to other parts of the toilet. Or you could be showering while standing in the bath tub with shower curtains. In my hotel in Copenhagen and Bergen, Norway, there isn’t such a thing! For the hotel in Copenhagen, the water drain is actually a distance a way so the shower water has to flow half way cross the bathroom! And for the hotel in Bergen, there is a floor to ceiling panel, but it covers only half the shower area! I find this design quite idiotic both for the hotel guests as well as the housekeeping staff who will have to mop up excess water on the toilet floor every day.

3. All my hotels so far have shower heads which can be extended and held in the hands if required. This is a useful thing to have, which most other hotels I have stayed at don’t provide.

4. It’s best to bring your own toiletries when staying in Scandinavia. So far, 2 out of 3 hotels did not provide any shampoo, even though the cost of the room is the same.

5. A lot of the hotels are old. The Hotel Opera in Copenhagen was built more than 100 years ago, so the room as well as the entire hotel itself looked very quaint. We enjoyed the fact that it was quaint, because to us it was a hotel with character. However, others may find it inconvenient that you have wooden floorboards that creak, lifts that take half a minute to get to the 2nd floor (and you have to open the door yourself), and metal keys that weigh a ton (instead of magnetic chip cards).

6. Almost all hotels I researched on for this trip provide buffet breakfast at no extra charge. The breakfast is pretty good. The number of hot dishes vary (mainly sausages, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes), but all hotels seem to at least have various kinds of breads with cheeses, sliced hams and cereal. I have read that some hotels even allow guests to pack the food for lunch as well. I saw a few people doing it, but I don’t know if they were doing it secretively. I do know our 1st hotel charged NOK 40 (S$10) for a self-made packed lunch. Even if you have to pay a little bit more for the buffet breakfast, it may be a good idea to do so because eating out in Norway in particular is very expensive. You will find that most sandwiches at cafes cost at least NOK 100.

7. Cereal seems to be a big thing in Scandinavia. The amount of cereal I have eaten for breakfast since coming here is probably equivalent to the amount I have eaten for this entire year. Okay I have not been a great cereal eater but this trip has changed me! I want to try to eat more cereal and oats for a healthier start to my day. And we’re talking about real cereal here, not the Kokocrunch or fruit loops type. Beetroot seems popular in Norway too. I have been stuffing myself with beetroot because it has a lot of vitamins and isn’t widely available in Singapore! It changes the colour of your pee, beware!

8. Hotel staff in Norway aren’t all that friendly. We encountered one lovely lady who took 5 minutes to explain to us what was available to do on the weekends. But most others give the impression that their job is to answer one question and one question only. If they were talking to their colleagues before you disturbed them, they would resume chatting after your 1st question was done. There would be no “is there anything else I can help you with sir/mdm”, which forces you to do some mental calculations on whether it is worth it to continue asking your 2nd question. The staff we encountered in Denmark were nice, but we did stay in only 1 hotel.

9. Most hotels are only 6 or 7 storeys high so there is actually no need to ask for a room on a high floor. The more important question would be to ask for a floor with the best view possible, and one that isn’t facing a noisy street.

I will have the opportunity to experience 2 more hotels in Norway. This list may be updated if my observations change.

Strøget–World’s Longest Shopping Street

The one great thing about Singapore is that shops open till late! I’m sure this is one thing I’ll never get used to if I ever move to a European country, or New Zealand/Australia for that matter. Shops in Oslo slam shut at 8pm while in Copenhagen, it is 7pm! For London, if I don’t remember wrongly, it’s 6pm! And shops are not open on Sundays! How do people buy their things if the shops close so early? I was stuck in the rush hour traffic just now. That was 4.30pm, HELLO??? Well I suppose if you leave work at around that time, there’s still 1 or 2 hours for you to get what you need.

Worse still for tourists, museums and castles close at around 4 or 5pm at this time of the year, 6pm if you’re talking about summer. I like to take my time when I’m on holiday, so it’s okay for me, but for those tourists who like to pack their days chock full, I really think that Europe’s not the best place for that. Europe’s a place where you just have to take things slowly, enjoy a very long dinner and go to bed early.

If you want your evenings and nights to be buzzing, definitely go visit an Asian country. The US is not that bad either. I recall when I was in Florida Orlando, some museums were open till 9 or 10pm! I recall being able to visit Disneyworld in the day time and still make it to Ripley’s Believe it or Not at night!

I know the reason for this is that Europeans value family time. Shopping is not a pastime, it’s just an errand that has to be done when supplies run low. But surely you would think that it would be the Asians that value family time just as much if not more?

Anyway, let me leave you with pictures of Strøget in Copenhagen, the world’s longest pedestrian street. It’s a shopping haven, but buy what you will before 7pm!

Strøget (1)

Strøget (2)

Strøget (3)

Strøget (4)

Strøget (5)

Strøget (6)

Magasin du Nord

Magasin du Nord (6)

Magasin du Nord (2)

Magasin du Nord (3)

Magasin du Nord (4)

Magasin du Nord (5)

Aker Brygge

Oslo has a sort of “museum-island” called Bygdøy Island. Well technically speaking, it’s a peninsula, but from the city part of Oslo looking out to Bygdoy, you would think that it was an island. Our Oslo Card allowed us to take the Mini-Cruise to Bygdoy, which I shall comment more in another post. On our return journey, we sailed past the most modern part of Oslo I have seen to date. Compared to the old buildings in the city centre, this was a refreshing change. Hip cafes, restaurants and more shopping centres galore. Kind of reminds me of Sydney. Interestingly, a lot of the Norwegian tourist information websites don’t seem to mention much about Aker Brygge. Maybe Norwegians prefer their history and fjords, and shopping just ain’t that fascinating.

Aker Brygge (3)

Aker Brygge (2)

Lucky people who live here

Aker Brygge (6)

Aker Brygge (11)

Aker Brygge (10)

Aker Brygge (1)

The temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius but people still insist on sitting al fresco. The cold is not a worry though because every restaurant provides radiators. See the orangey lights near the roofing? If only we had machines blowing cool air for us to enjoy if we so choose to dine al-fresco in Singapore. It is a waste of electricity I must admit, both ways.

Aker Brygge (8)

Normally the tram tracks are laid on the vehicular roads, so there’s no risk of walking in the tram’s path unknowingly. There is an area near Aker Brygge where the tram tracks are laid on non-vehicular roads. It makes me wonder if there have been cases of people strolling along and enjoying the views and suddenly having a tram honk at them.

Nobel Peace Museum

The Nobel Peace Centre and the City Hall are just next to Aker Brygge.

Oslo Office

Took some time out of my holiday schedule to go visit our Oslo office. I was told that the office was very pretty. When I got there, what can I say, the pictures speak for themselves. LOVE the Scandinavian design!

Oslo Office (1)

Looks like an embassy of some sort!

Oslo Office (2)

Is this not a room transported out from some palace?

Oslo Office (3)

Oslo Office (5)

Oslo Office (6)

Lovely meeting room, so bright and cheery

Oslo Office (4)

Oslo Office (8)

There is an apple tree at the back of the office!!

Oslo Office (7)

Greetings from Oslo!

It’s COLD COLD COLD! On the first day that I arrived, which was yesterday actually, it wasn’t that bad at all . I only had 3 layers on. Then the weather turned so cold in the evening it was a struggle making it back to our hotel from the shopping street just opposite. We had to take refuge in 3 separate stores to “defrost” before making it back. And I heard that today is the coldest day for Autumn in Oslo! Not that I should complain, I purposely lugged 3 jackets here for a reason!

My hotel is in a superb location. It’s just next to the Oslo S Central Station. We took the normal train from the Oslo airport to Oslo S and it was 25 minutes with just 2 stops. The great thing about being here is that there are so many shopping centres around this area, with the Karl Johans Gate being the main attraction of it all (something similar to our Orchard Road or Oxford Street if you know London, except cars are not allowed there.)

As expected, food has been darn expensive so far. For my 1st meal in Norway, I had …. Chicken Tikka Masala! Yeah I know, but I really need some time to assimilate to having to pay S$40 for a cafe meal! The Chicken Tikka Masala cost only S$25 and was thankfully pretty tasty. The organic movement here is pretty strong, or perhaps using the word “movement” is wrong. You get the feeling that food here always been natural and unadulterated. Even my complimentary hotel buffet breakfast served organic milk and organic bread, something which I can say would be extremely rare to find in Singapore.

Here are some pictures of my stroll along Karl Johans Gate. Just this street alone has 3 H&Ms! I know all the Orchard road malls feature the same stores anyway, but this is different because they can all be seen from the street!

Karl Johans Gate (1)

Karl Johans Gate (2)

Karl Johans Gate (5)

Karl Johans Gate (6)

Karl Johans Gate (4)

Karl Johans Gate (8)

Karl Johans Gate (3)

Karl Johans Gate (9)

And that’s the palace right at the end of the street

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