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Travel

Nordics

A trip to Copenhagen-Oslo-Stockholm-Helsinki-Prague

This is not a step by step guide on how to book and exactly which sight and museum to visit. Instead, it describes a four-day multi-city company trip where all four cities in the Nordics were visited in four days.

The striking difference. All four major airports in these cities nave parquet hardwood floors across all their terminals. This immediately sends a strong claim of style and good solvency. The hotel in Copenhagen had taken wood usage to the next level and provided room card keys which were made of … wood also. Out of all four, Denmark was the country which felt most down-to-earth – the others felt a bit unreal, like in a move or out of a short story.

Flying in the Nordics typically means that you would have to fly on the Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Flying in-between these four cities suggests short flights and plenty of time wasted in airports and security lines – our “favorite” pastime and the vice of modern air travel. While the reviews for SAS are a bit mixed, their service is not bad. There is simply not much of it – how much of service can we expect on a 45 min flight?

Logistics and visas. All four countries are a art of the Schengen agreement so there are no visa checks or passport control when coming in from one of the member countries or from any other Schengen country. Norway is not a member of the EU and being a part of the visa agreement helps a lot. Finland is the only country of the four which has taken on the euro so all other countries have their own currency – Danish kroner, Swedish and Norwegian krona. Their value as of April 2011 was between 7 and 9 to an euro.

Yes, everything you have heard about prices in the Nordics is true – they are all expensive with Norway maybe taking the lead on this one. Good news is that credit and debit card payments are accepted everywhere even in cabs. Yes, everything you have heard and seen about women in the Nordics is also true – great looking and very sweet and sporty.

In Copenhagen and Finland we took cabs from the airport to downtown. In Norway and Sweden we took the train to the center and it was really fast and efficient.

Relevant to logistics is also the fact that all of these capital cities are surrounded by water. The climate is mildly cool and humid to freezing cold with some wind.

Helly Hansen outdoor brand is based out of Oslo – do not expect to find any sweepingly good deals on apparel and outdoor stuff though!

Food in the Nordics. The food here is excellent. What I tasted from the fresh seafood was salmon, shrimp, mussels and a few other styles of fish which I could not remember or pronounce. The Norwegian cheese is one of a kind also – I thought that after tasting weird French cheeses nothing could surprise me anymore with this respect. I was indeed pleasantly surprised. One issue across all four destinations was the fact that there is little bottled water available. I would assume that tap water would be OK, yet I did not want to take chances and kept looking for water fountains and bottled.

Language barrier. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish have a far resemblance to English and German so certain words could be caught from context etc. The Danish spelling of Copenhagen is København so do not expect that it might all match… Finnish is a completely different situation. It is a part of another language family so I could neither read or catch a single word from it. To me it felt as strange as some far Eastern language or something spoken by natives in Africa. Good news here is that the locals speak English really well, yes even the cabbies. Stepping outside of the major cities could reasonably create a more challenging situation to deal with.

Since this is a trip to the Nordics with Nordic sun and wind and plenty of glare, bringing in a pair of sunglasses makes a lot of sense and it is recommended. Pack your flashy sunglasses case along also – for better protection of your shades. Stay tuned for other good road trips here.

Room card made of wood
Room card made of wood

Recycling is taken seriously in the Nordics
Recycling is taken seriously in the Nordics
Fast and efficient trains
Fast and efficient trains
Just as comfy on the inside
Just as comfy on the inside
Neon-light escalator to and from the train
Neon-light escalator to and from the train

Back home to sunglasses case.

Guest Posts Travel

Important Items For A Woman’s Travel Wardrobe

Every woman has to go on a vacation once in a while to get rejuvenated and refreshed, and one of the things that you have to go through is to think over what you need to bring along. When it comes to selecting which items to include in your travel wardrobe, women are notorious for packing too much or for bringing along the wrong things. This article will help you keep in mind the real important items on your travel wardrobe.

Jacket
A jacket, coat or blazer is absolutely non-negotiable. You need to take one along, even if you’re heading off to the African desert, because even there the nights get incredibly cold. Even if all you want to bring along is your bikinis, maillots and flip flops, make space for one jacket. People who live in tropical countries have at least one jacket in their wardrobe, so follow their example and bring one along.

Scarf
Scarves are great for draping around your neck and shoulders. Without a jacket, long and thick styles can work well as shawls in a pinch. They also make for great accessories however you look at it, because they make your outfit look distinctive. Bring a neutral colored scarf like black or white, and one in a fun color. They can serve as funky belts, unique sashes on your bag and can be used to cover a stain here or a tear there on your jeans or dress.

Handkerchiefs
Take a cue from Miss Manners, and always bring a handkerchief with you. Using your scarf to wipe off lipstick or wet hands is unsanitary and will look very unclean, so slip a hanky in your jacket pocket or handbag. Bandannas are a better choice if you’re heading off to somewhere hot and exotic, because they mop up more sweat and can be used as a cover-up for your bikini top.

Back home to sunglasses case

Guest Posts Travel

Cruising Along in the Napa Valley

A majority of people who go to the Napa Valley for a vacation will, at some point, want to tour some of the 300 wineries that reside there. Many of the wineries will open their doors, either by invitation or during certain hours, and welcome these tourists. But is touring wineries and sampling their wares all there is to do in Napa?

Some popular non-winery tours in Napa will take you cruising — in hot air balloons, antique railroads or on a Segway. If you are prepared for significant physical exertion along with your cruising, you may also want to consider a kayak or a bicycle tour. All these tours/rides delight visitors day in and day out, and they are beginning to give the traditional Wine Country “limousine tour” or bus tour of the wineries a run for their money.

Increasingly often, people on a Napa vacation will want to do both – go to one or more of the wineries AND take one of the exotic vehicles (balloon, train or Segway) for a ride.

Generally speaking hot air balloon rides need to lift off in the cool of the early morning, as the afternoon heat makes it much harder to fly. Clearly a wine tour should be scheduled for later in the day if you want to enjoy a balloon ride on the same day.

The Napa Valley Wine Train has several different itineraries, including one that offers lunch and another that embraces the dinner hour. Probably scheduling a winery tour after lunch and before dinner would be best if enjoying the scenic train ride tops your list.

The Napa Valley Segway tour requires a helmet, and traveling around in Napa’s hot afternoon sun is no picnic. Accordingly, it’s probably better to schedule this tour earlier in the day and do wineries later. Further, because riding a Segway requires a good sense of balance and quick reactions, it’s decidedly better not to drink a lot of wine before you get on a Segway — especially if it’s your first time!

So join the trend –- couple a wine tour in Napa Valley with another tour where you travel on one of these exotic alternatives. You’ll be happy you did!