About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ramfjord to Hammerfest

Day 14: Ramfjord to Hammerfest.: On to our northern-most point, the 'Land of the Midnight Sun', crossing some of the most famous salmon fishing grounds in the world. This evening why not visit Nord Kapp, the Northernmost point of Europe?(Breakfast and Dinner included)

Hotel: Hammerfest Turistsenter As
Bags to the bus: 5:45 Bus departs: 6:00

The longest day in Contiki history started with my alarm at 5:20, the reason I took an evening shower. We did not have breakfast at camp today so we could save time. Instead, Dion packed up breakfasts to eat on the bus this morning. Breakfast was a ham and cheese sandwich, boxed orange juice and a muesli bar. Our first stop was at 9:20, for 45 minutes, at a little restaurant place. Che thought it was closed, but it was open, thankfully, it was quite cold and there was no where else to go here. After this stop Che handed out the rooming list for Russia. He had not mentioned this before, and I ended up without a roommate, which would soon change. Skye didn't want to room with Ted (he snores), and wanted to room with Tania. Well this screwed up the rooming, forcing a couple to split up. Once they figured out what happened Che put Ted and Skye back together and I was to room with Tania. Not everyone was happy with this, but I was fine with it since I got along with everybody.

Just before 12 we stopped in Alta for 45 minutes. There was a museum (rocks, I think) with a little cafe, and restrooms. I had a muffin to pass the time. We almost left Skye, Tania, Danny and Samar behind, they ran after the bus as it started to pull out, close call and it wasn't a good day to miss the bus. Basically after that we drove through Bumblef*ck Norway. I couldn't figure out how people live here. The trees are sporadic (and sparse), and houses randomly placed through the countryside (if you can call it that), and half look like they are about to collapse (both the trees and the houses). Apparently for fun the locals go to the campsite we stayed at the night before for the weekend, we saw some of them at the campsite and they seemed to have a good time. I don't think I could live here, the campsite seemed nice for a weekend, but every weekend?

Che talked to us about Norway on the bus, he explained that the major industries in Norway are fish, and ship building. They are not part of the European Union, in part because they are a new country and want their independence. Of course they end up following the guidelines set by the EU so they can trade with EU Countries, eventually they will probably join. We arrived at our campsite in Hammerfest at 3:00. FYI: Hammerfest is the northern most city in Europe.
Our cabins were at the top of a BIG F&*king hill! Of course the showers, (which I heard were good) the cook tent and bus were at the bottom. So I had to drag my bag up the hill, which wasn't much fun. At the top there was a bathroom with sinks and toilets so you didn't have to go hiking in the middle of the night if you had to go to the bathroom. I was rooming with Lis, Jilly and Leah B. here for two nights, the windows had white curtains with little flowers, very nice. Unless of course you're in Hammerfest in the beginning of June, when the sun doesn't go down! Even stranger was that this was not the only place that had light colored shades on the windows where the sun doesn't (or barely) go down. I'm done with my tirade - the sun never kept me from sleeping anyway, but I know it bothered some other people.

Anyway, we had dinner at 5:30, which was pretty tasty since we got our food supplies at a Statoil (gas station convenience store), it was a Sunday and we were in the middle of nowhere, they couldn't find an open grocery store. During dinner Dad called, apparently the family was getting concerned because they hadn't heard from me. I guess no one told them they don't have the internet in the middle of nowhere. I knew before I went, I was just in denial until now.

The bus for Nordkapp left promptly at 7pm, with a new driver. Andy had already used all his driving hours for the day so Contiki (with our money from the optional) hired a driver for this trip. This meant that Andy got to party it up tonight! His first job, bathroom nazi! Everyone was celebrating with some drinks on the way up, which meant they had to go to the bathroom. Andy tried to keep them out since the bathroom only holds so much. We did make a stop on the way so people could use the bathroom, I tried to get a picture of some reindeer at this stop, but the guys kept scaring them away. After that I got dragged into a conversation about the military with Corey, where he said something insulting about Marines, but insisted he was joking. I thought it was in poor taste, but kept my mouth shut.

We got to Nordkapp at 10:30 and I made a mad dash to the gift shop, it took me a while but I figured out that I wanted a key chain, t-shirt for dad, certificate (that I'd been to Nordkapp), a book and a couple postcards to send home with a Nordkapp stamp. After I finished my shopping I went out to get a picture with the Globe. My book says that the globe is "situated at the very extreme point of the North Cape plateau, it symbolizes our common planet. This is the meeting point for the peoples of the World." It doesn't say that it's cold and windy here, which is why I didn't take too many pictures before running in to do my postcards.

After writing my postcards I was talking with Skye and Tom and somehow the conversation came to the rooming situation and it was agreed that Tom and Skye would share a room in Russia, if Ted agreed. Conveniently, Ted walked by shortly after and agreed to the switch, he would now be rooming with Corey. At midnight we all went out to see the midnight sun, but luck was not on our side. We were among the 92% of people who do not see the sun at midnight, but the sun had been out a little earlier, and that would have to suffice since I don't see myself heading back any time soon. Everyone took lots of pictures and then I made a run for the "Children of the World" monument so I could get pictures before we left at 12:30. Of course there were some other tourists there taking pictures and getting in the way of mine. Didn't they know my bus was leaving in a few minutes?

On the bus ride back Che played his guitar a bit while we all tried to sing along, which isn't so easy when people only remember the first verse of a song and had been drinking. It was actually pretty fun, and showed a bit more of Che's personality. Marie tried to get him to play Bon Jovi, she's a big fan and was asking for Bon Jovi songs all night. While driving we saw Reindeer everywhere and every time I tried to get a picture I failed. Finally I just watched them, and it was sooo much better then getting a picture. I saw a couple of babies following their mothers, and the kids sized ones seemed to be playing with each other. It was nice to see nature doing it's thing, relatively undisturbed. And for a moment, in a beautiful place with the sun out at 1am and reindeer playing with each other, I felt like I was a better person for having been to this place.

Finally we made a stop halfway back and there was a reindeer, all by himself, watching the bus pull in. I jumped off to take a picture, I was the first one there, and got a nice picture of Dion feeding him. Then everyone started to feed him, he eventually decided that I should feed him (I thought he wanted to eat me), his nostrils flared as he looked at me and started to run to me, I ran away. That's how I like to remember the story, but Chris has it all on tape, and apparently he was just walking toward me when I ran away. I like my version better. Everyone tried to feed him and take pictures and pet him, I watched from the bus. When the bus pulled out he followed us, he was running for quite a few minutes after the bus, it was so sweet, poor little guy. He was alone so I wonder if he got separated from his family.

After that the bus calmed down a bit as people started to get tired. Leah B, Nancy and James talked to Corey about his alarm. Apparently he has trouble getting up in the morning and needs time to adjust to getting up, or something like that. Basically, his alarm went off really early and well before he got up, waking everyone else in his room up.

At some point Skye had to use the bathroom, but couldn't get it open, several people tried, but couldn't either. Eventually Andy had to get the key to open the bathroom. It was kinda funny watching people try to open the door, when it was obviously locked. The bus got back around 3:30 in the morning, and I got to bed at 3:45am, making it an over 22 hour day. But we would be able to sleep late tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mo I Rana to Ramfjord

Day 13: Mo I Rana to Ramfjord: Today, we cross the Arctic Circle to Narvik, a bustling port completely rebuilt after World War II. Our campsite tonight is situated by the water. (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Breakfast: 6:30 Bags to the bus: 7:15 Bus departs: 7:30

Today's shower was simply lovely without hot water, NOT! Around 8:30 we had a stop at the Arctic Circle (66° 33N), it was cold and rainy, but I got my picture taken with arctic circle markers. When we got back on the bus Che explained to us about the Arctic Circle and how because of the way the earth rotates the Arctic Circle moves a bit every year. At 10:00 we made a stop for groceries, and were again told to stock up, I bought a pre-made sandwich that I would eat on our ferry. I don't know where we were or what we were crossing, but we had a 30 minute ferry ride that we could eat lunch on, much better then on the bus. They had some hot food on the boat, but not enough to feed us all in 30 minutes so it was a good thing we had bought lunch.

I slept for a good portion of our trip today, but did wake up at one point and got to see a beautiful waterfall. And at 3:00 I saw my first moose. At 3:45 we stopped in Narvik the "bustling port," you guessed it, not a thing to do. Nothing was open, we were lucky to find a hotel that would let us use the bathroom. After that we took goofy pictures with statues, sometimes you have to make your own fun. But Narvik was an important port to the Germans in WW II, it also appeared in an episode of Lost.

We got to camp at 7:30 and I roomed with Leah D and Kirsteen. Our camp was on another river and lake. I was lucky I had one of the decent cabins, though most of the couples had a REALLY nice cabins.

Before dinner I took a little walk around, got some tokens for the shower (5NKr for 3 minutes) and then hung out with Chris, Jacqui, Kate, Andrew, Lis and Leah B. After dinner I was going to take another night time shower, but somehow ended up playing Uno instead. Probably worked out better since I heard they ran out of hot water in the bathroom - two cold showers in a row would not do. When we quit Uno at midnight I took a shot at it and there was hot water in the bathroom, score! I ended up going to bed with a wet head since there were no plugs in the bathroom and both my roomies were in bed sleeping.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mo I Rana - Iceberg Right Ahead!

Day 12: Mo I Rana Sightseeing: A chance to visit the Svartisen glacier (Norway's second largest), subject to weather conditions. This afternoon free time to relax by the lake and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Hotel: Rossvoll Senter
Breakfast: 8:30 Bus departs: 9:15

This morning we were off to Svartisen Glacier, it seemed we might have gotten a bit lost on the way to the boat, but we got there, which is all that counts. The boat ride took about 20 minutes and then we had to hike on what was pretty much a mountain, almost all plain old rock. The hike wasn't so bad, though it was raining most of the time and a bit slippery. We found a waterfall early on in the hike, which was really nice. After about 45 minutes we got to the sign that says you shouldn't go any further since it's not safe. A couple people went closer to the glacier, but I didn't. I was already worried about getting back down, so I wasn't going any further.

After I got there and took a few pictures it was time to head back. I was a little nervous about climbing down. There were quite a few big steps up that I had to now go down, preferably without falling and hurting myself. I slowly made my way down. Towards the end, where it was just walking I managed to twist my ankle and fall down, but I was fine. I found this whole hiking thing too stressful, trying not to fall is hard work, I'm never going hiking again!

Inject - that was my original opening paragraphs; however, I remember this much differently. The hike up was a workout, but not difficult. But I was very worried about hiking back down, I have a fear of hiking down, it's slippery and I tend to have visions of falling and breaking a leg. Hiking back down I was on the verge of tears at one point because I was so afraid and having trouble navigating the rocky landscape. I would follow the trail of other people but would end up in a spot with a valley that was too steep to climb down and back up and would have to back track to another spot. On top of all that drama in my head I was so slow I was afraid I would be the last one back and the boat would leave without me.

Back to the original post:

We were back at the campsite a little after 1pm for lunch and a rest. I had lunch, washed some clothes and then and went for a walk, it was me, Nancy, Skye and Jacqui. One of the women in the grocery store gave us some general directions to a waterfall. Along the way we found a horse, he wasn't hard to find since you could smell the farm he was on from a mile away. He was a nice horse, he came up to the edge of his roped in area to get petted. We kept walking after that and found a power plant and we thought we could hear a waterfall, but couldn't really find it. We poked around a bit and there it was, it was HUGE and we could climb the rocks near it (since I enjoyed climbing rocks so much). Jacqui and I were a bit nervous at first, but we both made it so we could get some pictures. Then we climbed up through the woodsy area and made our way back to camp. When we got back people were starting to stir again so Nancy, Lis, Jacqui and I played Uno.

We had an early dinner tonight, 6:30. After dinner I went (as did many people) to the grocery store for ice cream, we deserved a treat after all the hiking we did that day, not that we needed an excuse for ice cream, this was a vacation. After that we watched some track and field competition on TV (something you can understand when it's not in English) and made it an early night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Milage Runs

I just found the upgrd podcast, today I listened to the first two episodes, one of which was about milage runs. I had heard the term, but didn't really know what it was all about, but now I do know...

People actually fly on planes simply to earn miles and achieve or maintain their elite airline status. They don't necessarily go anywhere, they just fly to one place using as many mile earning flights as possible and then go home. Seriously????

Q: So what did you do this weekend?
A: Flew to San Fran via 4 flights, then back home. No, I didn't get to see anything, just earning some miles...

It seems insane, is an elite lounge really worth that kind of committment? With my committment to earn airlines miles I'm wondering now if I've stepped into a world of crazy flying people. I'm fine with traveling to go see a place, but just for the sake of some miles? Wow, I'm a little concerned about this insane world, and possibly getting sucked into it. The last time I went away my sister had a comment on how many vacations I take, what would she say if I said I was just flying to earn miles and not actually seeing anything? Either way, I'm going to keep earning my miles so I can either get a free flight or an upgrade one of these days.

FYI, I got a confirmation from Delta about 48 miles I earned, baby steps.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Email back from Jetblue

I got an email back from Jetblue this weekend. It was a standard cookie cutter response appologizing that I was unhappy with Karen and it would be referred to her supervisor. And no, we don't extend the time for vouchers.

It took almost two weeks to hear back from them and I was underwhelmed by the response. I don't think any less of them, but I don't think any more of them either. I'll be honest though, I don't know what they could do to make me feel better. In some ways a voucher would make me feel better, but even that doesn't address the issue. Heck, it was only a one way voucher anyway. They never did address my issue with shutting down on my last two days available for booking, nor did they respond to my request to have the flight donated to a charity.

This just supports my decision to cancel my Jetblue credit card, I wasn't convinced it was giving me enough anyway, and this is the proof (not that they're a bad airline, but I don't fly their routes enough). It works well with my decision to pursue FF miles with the legacy airlines too.

In the end though I guess Jetblue was doing such a good job that my expectations got to high, they were bound to diappoint me at some point. I'm contemplating a letter to the CEO; because, of my commitment to customers and customer service and the pursuit of them actually addressing all the issues stated. I'm a letter writer, not because I like free stuff (I actually haven't done that well with that), but because I like companies to do the right thing by consumers.

AFAR magazine

I had recently heard about, then picked up a copy of AFAR magazine. I've only read one copy, but it was an interesting magazine. For a travel magazine it had some very different stories then you typically see, and I mean that in a good way. It's a little higher end of a magazine with a nice layout and an interesting perspective of an angle on stories. It covered a lot of different destinations so there is something for everyone in it. My biggest complaint is that it had an article about smoking with a chart that I had A LOT of trouble figuring out. No chart in a travel magazine should take more then 2 minutes to be understood, after 5 minutes I gave up. But otherwise I enjoyed the magazine. I'm not getting a subscription now, I barely have time to read the magazines I currently get. But it is something that I would pick up at a news stand if I was looking for something to read.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The good and the bad of GPS's

GPS's often serve as a great resource to help you get around when you don't know where you're going. I've personally had it save me from complete lostness on more then one occasion, but it's also taken me astray more then once.

I think even if you're going to use a GPS it's a good idea check out your route on google maps or mapquest. Both may not send you the best way, and the GPS might not either. Actually, GPS's don't always agree with each other.

When I was driving back from Myrtle Beach there was a lot of whining in my car. My sister's Telenav gave one set of directions and my Dad's Garmin kept telling us to make a u-turn. From my understanding of the ride down the Telenav gave better directions. As we got closer to home we had to get over Staten Island to get to Long Island. I can't count how many times I've done this ride - NJ Turnpike to 440 the Outerbridge, continue on 440 to the Staten Island Expressway. Well both GPS's insisted on taking the Goethals Bridge. Well is screwed up my brother-in-law who doesn't know the route as well and he almost killed us twice. Then due to a miscommunication (my Mom was on the phone with my sister at the time) we ended up getting separated - I took the Outerbridge and they took the Goethals Bridge. I suspect that the Outerbridge was faster since I was driving a little slower to let them catch up, which they didn't do until we got home. But we all knew the roads well enough at that point that the GPS only served to confuse us all, I think we would have done better without using them.

The moral of the story, follow your instincts when you're local. You know the roads better then any computer, and the GPS is a back-up.

Have I mentioned that I have a fear of getting lost?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trondheim to Mo I Rana via Hell

Day 11: Trondheim to Mo I Rana: We journey to 'Hell' today, before taking in more of Norway's stunning beauty as we travel past spectacular scenery to Mo I Rana for two nights. (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Hotel: Rossvoll Senter
Breakfast: 7:00 Bags to the bus: 7:45 Bus departs: 8:00

This mornings breakfast was a little lacking, just cereal and toast, Dion made a much better breakfast. But breakfast was quite interesting, with all the rumors about who hooked up last night and who left some girls apt at 4am, got lost walking back and only got back to the hostel around 6am.

On the way to Mo I Rana we made our stop in "Hell," it's not far from Trondheim, and it's basically a train station with signs saying, "Hell." This is what happens when there is an area that people go through, but doesn't actually have anything going on, they create a tourist trap. I took pictures and sent some postcards.

Our next stop was at 10:20 and our stop had a McDonalds. Normally this wouldn't excite me, but we hadn't seen a McDonalds in a while, or any other fast food place I had heard of. We had 45 minutes, I had some McDonalds fries and then found out we were supposed to be getting groceries for lunch, which was later confirmed by Che. Apparently he forgot to mention this when we were on the bus.

At 1:20 we stopped for a picnic lunch on a river, the facilities at this stop consisted of a "long drop" toilet. I decided that I should go, and learned that using one once in your life was sufficient, check! On the bus we decided to play Uno, it was Lis, Jilly, Tom, Michael and I. Due to being on a bus it was hard to arrange ourselves. Michael ended up in the back stairway. It was going well till we made a sharp turn and I almost fell onto Michael. When we had our last service stop Che told us it was the last grocery store for 2 days and to stock up.

We got to our campsite just before 6pm and right next to camp was a little grocery store (apparently this was a new campsite or something, which was why Che didn't know it was there). But this was the best campsite we would stay in, we had TV's, kitchenettes and bathrooms, all inside our cabins! Too bad the TV only had one channel, and it wasn't in English. I shared with Nancy, Lis, and Jilly again. I took a walk over to the grocery store and bought some hot chocolate, since we hadn't had proper hot chocolate (we had some cocoa powder, but it didn't taste right without milk and we didn't always have milk available). After that I played Uno with Nancy, Jilly, Lis, Tom and Michael until it was time for dinner. Two days before Che told us that our Glacier hike optional was cancelled due to the fact that the lake we take a boat on was still frozen. But tonight he found out that the lake was open today for the first boats and we would be able to go in the morning. We weren't going to have a picnic lunch since they didn't have time to get the lunches together, so we would only pay for the cost of the boat. I was excited to see the glacier, but sad that I actually had to get up in the morning. There's no rest for the weary on a Contiki Tour.

After dinner I wanted to hang out by the bonfire, but it was too cold, even with the fire. Instead I played Uno with Nancy, Jilly, Lis, Kate and Andrew in our cabin. I decided it was as good an opportunity for a Smirnoff Ice as any, 1 down, 3 to go. For some reason I took one of my rare evening showers tonight before bed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

When in Rome have a Sweet Tea

When I arrived in Myrtle Beach I was starving, the downside of traveling with an airline where you have to pay for food and drink. Due to a lack of time I had to settle for fast food. I wanted something a little different, but couldn't find the Hardee's - Hey, we don't have that here in NY. But I ended up at McDonalds. In a continued effort to have a more "local" experience I opted to get a Sweet Tea as my drink. I'm not sure if Southerners really do like Sweet Tea, but that's the rumor going around up North. I have to say, I kinda liked it, but then I do like anything with lots of sugar in it. I do recommend a sweet tea, but get it with a lemon, it's better that way.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Andalses to Trondheim

Day 10: Andalsnes to Trondheim: On to Trondheim, the former capital of Norway, an ancient town where much of the original wooden architecture still remains. See the Kristiansten Fortress and perhaps enjoy a chance to go for pizza and ten-pin bowling. (Breakfast included)

Hotel: Trondheim Vandrerhjem Rosenborg
Breakfast: 7:15, Bags to the bus: 8:00, Bus departs: 8:30

I woke up at 6am and was very happy to hear that the water was back on, I was not happy when I realized I had brought the wrong bag to the bathroom with me and I didn't have my toiletries. So back I went to the cabin for the second day in a row.

Whenever we would eat at camp we did it standing up, unless there happened to be seating at the campsite, which was hit or miss, and then we had to wash our dishes, which left my hands frozen for a couple hours, which was getting worse the farther north we went, but luckily we were staying in a hostel tonight and wouldn't be eating at camp.

On our way to Trondheim we stopped at the same souvenir shop we stopped at on our way to Andalsnes, here we were also able to exchange money. I got rid of my Swedish Kroner and had a pastry. On the bus we actually had some good music and some of us played "who wants to be a millionaire." At 1:30 we got stopped at a checkpoint, but Andy passed and we were quickly on our way.
At 2:00 we were dropped of in Trondheim at Nidarosdomen Cathedral. I went with Renae, Nancy, AJ and Cara sightseeing. First we went to the mall in search of lunch, but didn't find anything we wanted and ended up at a grocery store where I got a muffin. We found the Royal Palace, which is made of wood. Unfortunately it didn't open for visitors till the following day so we could only look at it from the outside.

After that we did some shopping walked to the water, and over the Gamble Bybro Bridge. We considered going to the fortress, but decided we didn't have time, so we did some more shopping. We ran into Lis and Jilly after that and Nancy and I decided to go off with them for the last bit of time we had in Trondheim, so we could get pictures of the Cathedral.

After that we were picked up at 5:00 and were taken to our hostel, I was rooming with Lis, Jilly, and Nancy tonight. Rooming with people from tour made the hostel experience less hostel like and more agreeable to me. We got our stuff ready, and ourselves ready for the pizza and ten pin bowling optional. We had no idea how the night would end up, but it was an interesting night....
We had dinner at Dolly Dimples, which was ok pizza. Even though it was all you can eat pizza you were limited to what pizza was delivered to your table or another table you could get a slice from. At 9:00 it was time to go to bowling, I played with Nancy, Caroline, Kellie and Ted. I got a 104, which made me happy since my goal was to break 100. Bowling was fun, as it always is with friends, but we decided against a second game since it was so expensive. Only one game was being included was kinda cheesy. Instead we went to the Downtown Bar, for a drink or two...

We were pretty much the only ones at the bar until 11:30, which was around when I was thinking it was getting to be time to go. But a piano player started and people started coming to the bar so I stayed. Tom told us he had never heard the song Piano Man by Billy Joel, nor Billy Joel or several other famous songs that I thought everyone had heard, he was going to need some culture! Or at least be forced to listen to some of the classics (wow, Billy Joel is now a classic!) Anyway, people started dancing, and they were pretty good. The women were dressed quite skimpily, and I'm told they were quite forward. That might explain why several of the guys picked up at this bar, which gave the rest of us some entertainment. But nothing was quite as interesting as the 2 businessmen with a very attractive woman, either they liked to share her or she was a prostitute they were splitting. She would dance (ok, they were practically having sex on the dance floor) with one guy, then she would be making out and give a lap dance to the other guy. Then she would leave with one of them, then come back, more dancing, leave again, come back again. They kept us entertained for quite some time. In the middle of all this I swear one of the women around the piano flashed the piano player, though I'm not sure it was his lucky night.

At 1:45 I decided to leave with Chris, Jacqui, Andrew, and Lis since I was getting tired and we had to walk and I wanted to do that with a group since I didn't have a clue where we were. It was bright out the whole walk, which was a bit weird, and we sorda got lost. Not so much lost as I just don't think we took the shortest way back. There was a lot of fighting over which way we should go, eventually we asked a couple people wandering around, they pointed us in the right direction, but we still ended up asking a taxi shortly after that. We would have taken the taxi, but it was 80 NKr to start, didn't fit all of us and we were apparently almost there, we just had to walk up hill. We fought some more about which way to go and if we were going the right way. But eventually we saw the hostel in the distance... It only took us 20 minutes to get there.
When we got back to the hostel there were people hanging around in the hallway talking (not very quietly, I might add), and the hallway by the mens bathroom still smelled like urine. This wasn't the nicest hostel, and the internet was VERY expensive, it was one of the few times we would stay at a place and not have half the tour online to check email. I guess since it's the only hostel in the city, they don't have to worry about competition or having high standards. I finally got to bed at 2:20. I missed the conclusion of some of the guys hooking up, but I would hear the gossip in the morning....

In all, Trondheim was a cute little city (3rd largest in Norway) and although it seemed a bit sleepy, apparently it's hopping at night.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frequent Flyer Master???

I recently purchased the Unconventional Guide - Frequent Flyer Master and finally got a chance to read it. I had previously bought another guide from the Unconventional Guide about frequent flyer miles. The first guide, which I can't remember the name of, was more basic then this one and cheaper. This one was more basic on the concept of frequent flyer miles, expanding much more on ways to earn miles using unconventional methods.

There was a lot of stuff that I already new, I'm not sure if it's from the first ebook or if I had picked it up along the way - such as using one airlines program within a airline alliance to earn all your miles. But there were also a lot of tips I hadn't heard or thought of, though aren't necessarily secrets. Sorry, you'll have to buy the book for those tips.

Is the book worth $49? I'm not sure yet, I apparently have some work to do. But the book comes with update emails, little tips and links to help, if these emails keep up the book could certainly pay off quickly!

My first goal for earning miles is with Continental since I already have quite a few miles from my trip to Hawaii, certainly enough to be a reasonable start.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Andalsnes (Geringer Fjord)

Day 9: Andalsnes Sightseeing: Don't leave your camera behind as today we follow the 'Trolls Road' past the Stigfoss Falls and up the mountain for fabulous views of the glacial valley below. Why not join us on an optional fjord cruise, past some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, it's an experience you'll never forget. (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Hotel: Trollstigen Camping & Gjestegard

Breakfast: 7:15 Bus departs: 8:00

I got up at 6am and when I got to the shower I realized I didn't have my towel, so I had to walk back to my cabin for my towel, which was REALLY annoying. and was of course one of the place with the longest walk to the showers. We had to pay for showers again, 15 Nkr for 5 minutes and since I had mastered the 5 minute shower I did what I had to do in plenty of time. Today we would have a substitute driver since it was Andy's day off, by the time we were out of the campsite we knew we were lucky to have Andy as a driver, because this other guy wasn't so hot. But today was one of the big excursions, one of the reasons you come to Norway - to see a Fjord.

We tool the Trollstigen (Troll's Path) which has a 1:12 gradient up the mountain, don't really know what that means, but you had to snake up the road with hairpin turns. It's an amazing road, pretty much one really wide lane up a mountain. On the way up we had great views of waterfalls and on top there was snow. When we got to the other side we took a ferry from Eidsdal to Linge, which also had amazing views. We arrived at the Geiranger Fjord at 10:45. We had some time to do some shopping for lunch and for Souvenirs before meeting at 11:15 for an 11:30 cruise. It's amazing how much you could get done in 30 minutes, I got lunch and souvenirs.

The fjord was beautiful, like being in a valley surrounded by mountains, with beautiful water. We saw the 7 sisters (7 waterfalls from one place) and some face in a rock (which I didn't see because I didn't hear them announce it). The Fjord was magnificent and an absolute highlight. the clear water, the mountains around it - all that nature has to offer in one place. Ok, maybe not all, but I couldn't have thought of another thing I needed either. This is the type of place that makes you wonder if there is anything more beautiful out there. The pictures only portray part of the beauty. The cruise was over at 1:15 and we had another half hour for shopping.

On our ride back some people took naps, but we had some photo stops, including one in the snow to keep us entertained. Of course there was a snowball fight and Nancy and Jilly made angels in the snow. When we stopped an Insight Tours bus also stopped, a couple people seemed excited to see a Contiki bus, ahhhh, the Contiki reputation followed us to Norway. On the way we met up with Hollywood, the photographer for our group picture, which we took in the rain.

We got back to camp at 4:15 and I wrote some postcards and had a hot chocolate while most people slept until dinner time. Although I got to bed fairly early, 10:30, we were up talking for a while, apparently there was no water at the campsite, I prayed it would be fixed by morning.