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When you start your trip at the Mondrian in London, swing through the Golden Well in Prague, upgrade yourself at the Hotel Teatro Christiana in Oslo, it is not really the right context or set of expectations for arrival at Klosterhagen Hotell. For sure the staff is super friendly and the place is clean and nice, but it is a budget hotel and not really what we’re looking for here at NPS.

Norway in a Nutshell Fjord

Norway in a Nutshell Fjord

On the positive side, we spent a day cram packed with travel on the Norway in a Nutshell tour. We were joined on the second half of the tour by some great friends and spent the entire trip talking and laughing. We were stymied by the fact that beer was not served on the fjord boat until May 1st (a very ridiculous and slightly too Norwegian thing). But we had a great time anyway watching the Japanese tourists feed the flying rats.

After dropping our bags from the Leaf at the hotel, we had a very nice dinner indeed at Bryggeloftet & Stuene Restaurant right on the waterfront and serving dinner since 1910. Excellent Norwegian cuisine.

Akavit from Bergen

Akavit from Bergen

Bergen turns out to be a very hard place to find an upscale boutique. We know, because we have been here multiple times, usually landing at the Scandic for some conference or other. So we were up for a change of venue at the Klosterhagen Hotell and it is a good time to experiment we hear because there is some kind of mysterious hotel workers strike escalating in town mostly in the chains like Radisson. That did mean we only got one room instead of two (the town is packed), but really the room was so tiny that adding another body was no big deal. Yes, we’re spoiled and we intend to stay that way.

We were assigned tiny room 209. The room numbering system is inventive and quirky.

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The bed in 209 with inches to spare on either side

The bed in 209 with inches to spare on either side

A nice non-plastic shower

A nice non-plastic shower

The rest of the tiny bathroom

The rest of the tiny bathroom

Spartan breakfast room

Spartan breakfast room

Things to fix:
cold eggs in the morning
super flaky net that requires re-authentication way too often
very thin towels that add to two and not three
thin veneer of flooring in rooms and common areas
an espresso machine that has seen better days
that mysterious plastic thing in the shower

What IS this thing?

What IS this thing?

Checkin desk

Checkin desk

Things to keep as they are
super friendly Bergen people
color scheme
location
very nice shower (needs a bigger bathroom to live in)

To add to the fun, Tuesday is garbage day, and that starts around 7am. Yays.

Anyway three showerheads for the Klosterhagen Hotell which is very nice, but not in the big leagues.

carouse |kəˈrouz|
verb [ no obj. ]
drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way: they danced and caroused until the drink ran out | (as noun carousing) : a night of carousing.

No Stress staff in action on a stressful Friday

No Stress staff in action on a stressful Friday

Yes, even the Norwegians like to carouse. The best place to do it in Bergen is the No Stress bar (mentioned in a previous post). Once you find a place like that, you must return—even if it is Friday night.

The bar was way more crowded and raucous, and I am not sure that the people behind it were not stressed. But boy was it fun.

They are almost out of Pappy van Winkle 20. Alas.

Goran watches the watcher

Gøran watches the watcher

We also had a Pisco Sour, a Last Word, and some fernet branca—all classics. Video and pictures through google glass.

Isaac Staflin created a challenge cocktail we’ll call the First Time (since it has cherry and is Gøran’s first cocktail):
2 cl Heering
2 cl Gin (try swapping in Genever for more complexity)
2 dashes simple syrup
2 cl lemon juice
Rinse the glass with a smokey whiskey and angostura bitters. Shake and serve up. Flame a lemon peel and drop in. (Could also use a real luxardo cherry in the bottom.)

Bergen is a beautiful city of 250,000 surrounded by mountains and water. It’s a fantastic place to visit.

Bergen in the morning

Bergen in the morning

Unlike Bergen, the Scandic hotel in the city (there is one at the airport too) is a bit generic for our tastes on this blog. I suppose Scandic is the Marriott of Scandenavia. Marriotts are something we avoid.

The bed has strange Norwegian bed fittings.  Fun.

The bed has strange Norwegian bed fittings. Fun.

I am in 757, which according to the map on the door seems to be a representative room. The room is clean and nice, but worn. Think beautiful lines with pockmarks and cracks. There are some nice features, including free decent wifi and power by the bed. But there are things that need repair and/or replacement. For example there is a broken tile in the bathroom on the tub and a lingering mildew smell in the air.

Work pod with plenty of power.

Work pod with plenty of power.

A candy welcome amenity falls squarely in the Marriott category. It’s nice that they stopped by 7-11 so you don’t have to. But candy bar? OK.

Amentity?

Amentity?

Euro-shower = non-plastic. The most interesting feature is the security disaster that is generic shared soap dispensers. Nair? Poison? Ink? Norwegians just don’t think that way.

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However, such a trusting nature does lead to real hangers (of which we approve).

The hangers trust you.

The hangers trust you.

All in all a very low four showerheads for the Scandic. I’ve been here before mostly because it is a conference hotel in the city. There have got to be better places to stay in Bergen though.

Then again, the barman at the Scandic introduced us to Tesseron Extreme Cognac, a pricey but delicious elixer whose oldest components hail from 1906–>1858 range.

A late dinner at Sumo was workaday. Fine sushi, but nothing to write home about.

We will throw in an absolute gem in Bergen to round things out and end on a high note. The No Stress bar is super fantastic. Expert bartender Tessa Ostervold caused us to have a delightful evening after the noisy conference dinner. Thanks Tessa. Among other shenanigans, we concocted the OK Glass Cocktail as follows:
5 cl Blanton’s bourbon
2 cl Dolin’s red
1 sugarcube soaked in Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters
2 t of fernet branca
Shake. Serve up. Garnish with an orange peel expressed.

Tessa

Tessa

There was pappy 20.

Pappy van Winkle 20 bourbon

Pappy van Winkle 20 bourbon

Did I say super fantastic? I’ll be back. (And rumor has it that Tessa may open her own place in Bergen one day.)

NPS flies all the time, and our current airline of choice is Virgin America. We’re sad about the upcoming merger with Alaska which will make yet another crap job of a platypus of an airline. Remember what happened to both United and Continental when they merged? Disaster. But that’s all domestic. We’re talking Europe in this post.

We aimed the points firehose at Virgin America this year and accumulated vast piles of points which we have cashed in to fly West for college looking and East to Europe. Getting a Virgin Atlantic ticket in upper class with Virgin America points was non-trivial but not that onerous.

NPS has flown Virgin Atlantic across the pond and back twice. Upper class does not suck.

Virgin Atlantic

Our special ops NPS spy also flew upper class but 10 days later.

Lufthansa

Internally, after some nice train rides (including the Disney Eurostar to Lille), it was back in the air for Frankfurt to Prague. Being a Star Alliance Gold member does not do diddly for seating on Lufthansa.

When in Frankfurt there is always a large chance of bus.

KLM

To get from Prague to AMS, we flew KLM which was very Dutch about the whole thing. Most uncomfortable flight of the entire trip.

The AMS hop was not much better, but the seating mistake was our fault.

It was nice to get to Oslo and find some modern world again.

We ended up in Bergen via train.

SAS

Complex scheduling craziness ended up with SAS from Bergen feeding Air France. Avoid this complexity even if it costs more cash.

Air France

Then it was Oslo to Paris on Air France, which just plain sucked. The flight was fine, but they lost one of our key bags for 4 days. When they found it, we were already back in the states. Amazing that it took Air France so long to rectify their mistake. They’ll be paying for some clothing and for the very expensive VAT refunds we could not get when we left London since the goods were not with us. Big fail Air France, you are now off the list.

Virgin Atlantic

After 20 days in Europe and perhaps just a few too many cocktails the night before, it was back home on an 8 hour flight from London. Upper class continues not to suck.

Access to the Virgin Atlantic Club comes along with an upper class ticket as does an interesting checkin procedure at Heathrow.