Friday, 25 January 2008

Copenhagen for Valentines day

Stay at one of the romantic and chic design & boutique hotels in the charming Danish capital where new and old meets in a refreshingly and tasteful - Scandinavian - way. Visit the city’s art galleries and museums and go shopping on “Strøget” and in the quirky, cobbled side streets. Promenade along the Copenhagen waterfront and greet The Little Mermaid or take a leisurely walk in the lovely “Kongens Have” and lunch at the in vogue organic restaurant “Geranium” at the far end of the park. The list goes on and on...

A romantic night out in Copenhagen is easily planned too: Enjoy a luscious dinner for two at one of the city’s nine Michelin restaurants and perhaps end up your romantic evening with a visit to the beautiful old Royal Theatre OR its “baby sister” on the other side of the waterfront – the new Opera House easily reached by water bus!

The number of attractions and sights in Copenhagen are endless – and easy to get to as well - and your first romantic evening in Copenhagen does not have to be the last. Nyhavn is always a cosy and intimate place, with picturesque old warehouses and pleasure boats in the canal and the salty smell of Øresund sound nearby. Take a short stroll through this area and you are guaranteed to find several appetizing lunch and dinner offers in the many cafés and restaurants along the quayside.

If you have a passion for exploring new sights, attractions and culinary offers too, then a visit to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek located next to the famous Tivoli Gardens and the City Hall Square is a “must”. With over 10.000 works of art, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek offers an impressive collection of antique and modern sculptures and paintings. It also features one of the city’s most romantic cafés; set on a balcony overlooking the glass roofed palm gardens, complete with neo-classical statues and fountains, this teashop perfectly reflects the ambience of the venue and the French inspired dishes are all home made and carefully are prepared as you wait.

A romantic weekend break in Copenhagen can be designed entirely after your own formula. No matter what you choose, the vast number of hotels, restaurants, hip bars and cosy cafés will guarantee that your Valentine’s break to the charming capital will be a great success! AND no matter where you choose to stay in the city, the nearest train or Metro station is very likely to be a maximum of 10 minutes walk away, so there is easy access to and from the Copenhagen Airport too...

Flights - Sterling from Gatwick or East Midlands, Icelandair from Boston, New-York & Halifax.
Hotels - Scandic Hotels, Hilton Copenhagen
Packages - Expedia, Opodo

New Oslo opera house - update

Oslo’s new opera house, scheduled to open in April, has been forced to delay ticket sales for its opening season of 2008/2009.

Sales were scheduled to start today (Wednesday), but have now been put off until February 18.

Opera house officials blamed the problem on late delivery of stage equipment and the need to take time to train the personnel in use of it.

The gala opening on April 12 is expected to take place according to plan.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that only 200 tickets for the 1356 seats in the opera will be sold to the general public for the grand opening. The rest of the seats are reserved for royalty, government officials, architects, sponsors, etc.

The opera house managers have decided to hold a lottery for the 200 exclusive tickets. They said that, given the extreme interest from all over the country, that would be the most "democratic" way to do it.

The ticket prices, at NOK 1490 (almost USD 300), have apparently not put off the public. There are also a small number of "standing" places available for about half the price.

Renowned Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has designed the ambitious opera building, which has been constructed in a minimalist style with a strong focus on acoustics.

Wanted : More visitors to Denmark

Once people come to Denmark, they like it. The problem, says the tourism industry, is getting them here in the first place.

The country's slumping tourist industry is to be propped up with a new strategy that will spread knowledge of Denmark abroad by highlighting the positive experiences most visitors say they have of the country.

A coordinated effort by VisitDenmark - the national tourism board - companies within the tourism industry and other businesses will see the investment of DKK 120 million to sell Denmark as a travel destination.

Half of those monies will come from funds the national government set aside as part of its overall DKK 400 million programme to promote Denmark abroad. That program focuses on a number of areas, including education, research and industry.

Tourism, however, has been identified as playing a leading role in helping to create a Danish identity.

'Outside of our neighbouring countries, Denmark is relatively unknown,' Dorte Kiilerich, managing director of Visit Denmark, said. 'But the vast majority of people that know Denmark have a positive image.'

VisitDenmark will seek to highlight Denmark's coastal areas and its four largest cities - Copenhagen, Århus, Odense and Aalborg - as tourist destinations.

In addition, it will look towards technology to attract visitors to the country. A raft of high-tech features on the organisation's website will help give potential tourists a virtual visit to the country using blogs, videos and other interactive functions.

Finally, VisitDenmark will seek to increase the participation of other internationally recognised Danish industries in the tourism business.

'We need to think less territorially. Things like design, environmentalism and style all influence people's impression of Denmark,' Kiilerich said.

Travellers spend a total of over 22 million nights in Denmark each year - more than all the other Scandinavian countries combined.

Northern Lights

Photo - Northern Lights in Nuuk, Greenland

Now is the peak season for seeing the Northern Lights AKA Aurora. You have to make sure you go pretty far North though. North Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, North Norway are all prime places. Below we are showing a 25 second video from Norway.

Photo - Northern Lights, Norway

Photo - Northern Lights Iceland

The Latin word for northern lights is Aurora Borealis, was first used early in the 17th Century. Aurora was the goddess of dawn, i.e. red light of dawn, in ancient Roman mythology and Borealis means northerly. A translation from Latin is something like northerly light of dawn.

If you fancy a hunt for the Northern Lights you could try flights to Reykjavik with Iceland Express and then this Northern Lights tour booked through Isango which is simply a three hour trip taking you from your hotel in Reykjavik to the most likely places to view the Northern Lights on the night.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Danish Language - Not so easy

This video is from a Norwegian TV show and tells how the Danish language is in a bad way!

Most people say that of the Scandinavian languages, Norwegian is the easiest and Danish is the hardest.
Various studies have shown Norwegian speakers to be the best in Scandinavia at understanding other languages within the language group. There is a good explanation of the Scandinavian languages at Wikipedia

Offer :
30% discount on all courses. Visit Linguaphone

Smart new hotels in Scandinavia

Yesterday we read about the winning design for an impressive spa, hotel and conference centre at the gateway to Southern Sweden in Malmö.

Here is a map of the area where the hotel will be constructed

View Larger Map

Monday, 21 January 2008

February holiday in Copenhagen

An interesting article just popped up on the Time travel section - Copenhagen for February half term. The author, Janice Turner, writes about a family holiday in Copenhagen which they chose because it's a cyclists city.

The same article led us to another article which looks at 4 "proper" winter cities and it is good to see they have chosen Stockholm along with Vilnius, Boston and St Petersburg.
Stockholm is also subject to an article on the Wales on Sunday website, where the author, Hannah Davies writes about clean streets and points out that Sweden is not as expensive as people think.

Win a trip to the Nordic Region !

Really want to go to one or more of the Nordic countries but don't want to pay for it ?

Try your luck at these free to enter competitions.

Or try the National Lottery

Good Luck !

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Which are the Nordic Countries ?

The Nordic countries consist of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Finland, Åland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The Faroe Islands and Greenland are both part of the kingdom of Denmark, and Åland is part of the republic of Finland. The Nordic region has a population of 25 million.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden are all monarchies. Iceland and Finland are republics.
Regardless of the form of government, the heads of state in the Nordic countries have relatively little power. All the countries have a democratic constitution dating from the 19th century, and, with the exception of the Norwegian constitution, they have all been revised several times.

Summary ? ;)

Nordic Countries = Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden.

Scandinavia = Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

There is often quite a bit of confusion about which countries and territories make up the Nordic Region, let us know what you think !

Swedish nightclubs

Have a look at this comparison of a British nightclub Vs. a Swedish nightclub.
It's been doing the rounds for a while now and features quite extreme examples but does make a good point.

What are you waiting for ?

Sterling to Stockholm from Gatwick and East Midlands
BA to Stockholm from Heathrow
KLM to Stockholm (via Amsterdam) from 15 UK airports
Air France to Stockholm (via Paris) from 15 UK airports
Opodo for a wide selection of airlines

Guides to Stockholm
Stockholm guide from Nordicflights
BA city guide and events
Stockholm guide at Opodo

Nordic Hotels recommends Hilton Stockholm

Book a Hostel in Stockholm

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Lake house in Dalsland

Nice article in a major UK newspaper about a family holiday to a lake house in Sweden.
The author, Stephen Bleach, takes his family to a remote farmstead where they make their own entertainment as they get back to nature.

Apparently 20% of Swedes have a summer house

Friday, 11 January 2008

BBC drama to be filmed in Sweden

Kenneth Brannagh is coming to Southern Sweden. The award winning actor is gearing up to play fictional Swedish detective Kurt Wallander on films made for the BBC 1. Three ninety minute films based on Henning Mankell's bestselling crime novels will be made in 2008. All three films will be shot in Ystad a small 13th century port in the south of Sweden.

According to Mankell's production company Yellow Bird, the Academy Award-nominated actor got in touch with them last year requesting to play the title role. The Observer ran an article on the prospect of the Wallander books being made into English films 18months ago.
Branagh said: "Wallander is a wonderfully complex and compelling character and I am excited to be playing this fascinatingly flawed but deeply human detective,"

Mankell's books have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, giving the dramas big global potential. The novels which will be adapted include Sidetracked , Firewall, and One Step Behind.

Production is set to start this spring and will go throughout the summer.

Useful Links
Kurt Wallander fan site
Ystad Tourist guide to Kurt Wallander
Malmo Guide

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Scandinavian airline offers Organic meals

From now on, Sterling's customers can tuck into sandwiches and other delicacies which are both healthy and tasty. The increasing focus on ecology and health is the reason behind this marked alteration of the range.

"In-flight food has never been especially exciting, but we have decided to change all that. In close co-operation with nutrition experts and our catering company, we have developed some much tastier products which are at the same time healthy and 100 percent organic," says Michael T. Hansen, Commercial Manager at Sterling Airlines A/S.

Healthy and tasty

Now you can start your meal with creamed organic yoghurt from Naturmælk, made from the milk of Jersey cows with a naturally high protein content, and follow this with a sandwich of organic bread from Il Fornaio with delicious Gouda cheese and sun-dried Italian tomatoes. Round off with a small Emmery's muffin with high-cocoa El Rey chocolate – and enjoy your food with a view across the snowy white clouds, 10,000 metres above the Earth's surface. "We aim to be the international airline that Scandinavians prefer. We will still be selling tickets at super-low prices, but we also want to make sure our guests have a good experience while they are with Sterling. The new meals are just one of a number of initiatives that we are introducing in the New Year to make us the most attractive airline," says Michael T. Hansen.

Every day, you can choose between a delicious brunch on the morning flights, and two kinds of sandwiches during the rest of the day. The menu varies and is altered every second week, so you can try something new every time. Our organic Brunchbag costs EUR 8, and an organic sandwich EUR 6,50.

At child's-eye level

At the end of 2007, Sterling was the first airline to launch Funny Meals for children – a meal specially adapted to the taste and playfulness of young children, and designed to make flights both easier and more fun for the whole family. The Funny Meals will continue to be available on selected departures – just in a new, organic version.

A Funny Meal is full of children’s favourites, such as a roll with salami, and raisins from Urtekram. For dessert, the children get a mini chocolate muffin from Emmery's. There are also toys in the pack, in the form of a colouring book and pencils. The price of an organic Funny Meal is EUR 7, and you do not need to order it in advance.

Less packaging

It's not just the food that is being enhanced at Sterling; the packaging has also been altered, to produce less waste. This is done by using rectangular sandwiches, which weigh the same as traditional triangular sandwiches, but take up less space.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Build it an they will come - A giant Elk ?

It's been seven years since the Moose was mooted but local officials have now given permission for construction of the worlds largest Elk. Before you get too excited, here is some bad news : you won't be able to sleep in the Elk - it won't contain any overnight accommodation. To be ready in 2009, the Giant Moose will be situated in Northern Sweden.

View Larger Map

To enter the moose you'll either ride along the road that will be built all the way to the top, or use the wood-paths alongside the mountain. On the top you'll enter the pine tree in which the elevator will lift you 35 m to the mouth. Inside the moose there will be 3 floors with a surface of 500 m², the content of these floors will be conference-rooms / exhibitions / concert-hall etc. The neck will contain the kitchen and the restaurant with a surface of 250 m². The outdoor café will be on top of the antlers and will have a surface of 100 m². Parts of the branches on the big pine tree will serve as a big umbrella, protecting the outdoor café from rain and snow. All kinds of accommodation will be in nearby cabins, hotels and such.

Learn more and even buy shares (?!) at World's largest moose website

And here is an animation of how the giant elk could look....

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Malmoe development praised

Interesting article in the FT about eco-design in Malmoe (Malmö)

While we are on the subject of Malmo (Malmö, Malmoe, it's all the same place!),
in 2008 the main event there is the European Masters Games which starts at the end of August.

Fancy a dip ? Try a cold bath house in Scandinavia

The kalldbadhus (Cold bath house) is a wonderful, bracing and healthy way to get into Scandinavian lifetstyle. For the less adventurous they often feature cosy cafes. Quite simply you swim in the sea, whatever the weather, (even if you have to break the ice!) then warm up in the sauna afterwards. It has been described as a workout without the work because of the endorphins that are released. The Swedes refer to the experience as a full body massage.

Stockholm has a beautiful looking new cold bath house on the way. It's in a central area and looks to have a stunning design.

Malmö has a kalldbadhus dating from 1898 which features a wood fired sauna and panoramic windows over the oresund sea and to the turning torso.

On the other side of the Oresund sea is Kastrup bath house.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Trains in the Nordic Region

Interrail is a great way to travel around Scandinavia. You get to see more than if you fly around, the trains are of a high quality, and announcements are often in English as well as the local language. A further advantage is that you travel city centre to city centre so you will avoid airport transfers which can be costly.

The Interrail pass is available only to European citizens or those who have lived in Europe for at least six months. Interrail passes are available for all age groups, not just the under 26s. Children get a 50% discount and 12-25 year olds also get a discount though.
For more information, have a look at these links to an overview of train services, and the terms of the interrail passes





(Iceland doesn't have any passenger trains.)