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Entries about stockholm

Radisson Blu

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Radisson Blu, Malmö

Radisson Blu, Malmö

I really do not remember how I came to choose the Radisson Blu for my 2 night stay in Malmö. Location? Price? Brand?

Certainly the first two possibilities turned out well. The cost for 2 nights was SEK 1,760 (£141 or €166) including breakfast, and I was upgraded to a junior suite! The city centre location, close to the railway station, was ideal.

Malmö Radisson Blu

Malmö Radisson Blu

The brand…

In the 1990s when I travelled a lot for work, it was always one of my favourites. In those days it was SAS, and part of the airline. Then it was Radisson SAS, and now it is Radisson Blu.

I remember stays in several of the SAS hotels in Copenhagen, plus the Royal Viking in Stockholm and one in Oslo.

Radisson Blu Royal, Copenhagen

Radisson Blu Royal, Copenhagen

Their London hotel was my first choice there, and an oasis of style in a city which is full of 3rd rate, overpriced hotels. The Brussels SAS was excellent too, but it had plenty competition. The Amsterdam SAS was a real favourite too.

However, it was in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia where they really came into their own for me. I was reminded of this by a set of articles in the in-house magazine in my room in Malmö.

They invested in privatised state hotels very soon after the Communist walls came down. The Astorija in Vilnius was one of their first. Having stayed there in 1993 when it was state run, I knew how much had to be changed - pretty much everything.

Aušros Vartụ, Vilnius

Aušros Vartụ, Vilnius

They now own the Lietuva in Vilnius too, which I have never stayed in. However my firm represented the government in its privatisation so it will always be special for me.

Vilnius

Vilnius

In Rīga, the Daugava was their first. I stayed there several times. The location just across the river from the city centre was ideal. The walk across the bridge was the perfect way to leave a day’s work behind.

Rīga

Rīga

I see they now own the Latvija too - the former Intourist high rise.

Their first hotel in Tallinn was one of my stopovers. I do not remember it’s name. It was a boozy trip. Thanks, Aivar.

Tallinn

Tallinn

I see they now own the Olümpia too - another former Intourist tower block, built for the Moscow Olympics. The yachting events were held in Tallinn. My stay in the Olümpia was much more sedate. I had 7 meetings in one day, so I had no time or energy left for getting into mischief.

Tallinn

Tallinn

Well guys, thanks for bringing back some memories as well as helping to create new ones.

(As a wee footnote, and declaration of interest, I worked in hotels quite a bit when I was a student and eventually reached the dizzy heights of being manager of a small beach motel in Westhampton Beach, Long Island. It has made me a very critical hotel guest! If I praise someplace, it is well earned.)

Posted by IainT 13:53 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm oslo england sweden belgium norway estonia brussels denmark copenhagen malmö sas riga tallinn vilnius lithuania Comments (0)

Vilnius - Travel Tips

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Joanos Carinovos Smuklė

Joanos Carinovos Smuklė

My 3rd visit to Vilnius in recent months was for New Year 2018-19.

I flew in with Air Baltic from Helsinki (via Rīga) and it was a delight. The cost was £118, including a checked in bag.

I left for Edinburgh on SAS via Stockholm. Apart from an irritating 90 minute delay to the Stockholm/Edinburgh leg, it went well. £184, also including a checked in bag.

I stayed with a friend, so I had no accommodation or airport transfers to sort out in Vilnius. It also meant I was seeing life as a local, as compared to a tourist.

We went to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema one afternoon. It cost €5.50 at the Forum Cinemas in Savanorių pr. The film was in English with Lithuanian subtitles.

VFM

VFM

Another outing was to MO - the city’s new modern art gallery on Pylimo gatvė. It was very enjoyable, although I’m not a huge modern art fan. They had an excellent photography exhibition on - black and white from the country’s 1970s and 80s Soviet times. The cafe is excellent.

MO

MO

The city’s reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania had been on our wishlist for a while, and that box is now ticked. It is impressive and for someone of my friend’s generation a lot of the country’s history on display is still a revelation. It was suppressed during Soviet times.

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Gastronomy was high on my wishlist too! Well, year end festivities…

Top marks go to Joanos Carinovos Smuklė in the Belmontas area. Absolutely wonderful local food. I had pork sausage, stewed pickled cabbage, horseradish, pickled cucumber and roast potatoes, washed down with kvass. It was great value for money too - €6.90 for my main course.

Traditional

Traditional

It is away from the city centre but €3-4 for a taxi if you book by phone (much, much more if you take one on the street).

I can award top marks to Chačapuri Sodų too - a very basic Georgian cafe close to the railway and bus stations. I had megrelian kharsho (a soup) and hvezeli (a pastry which is almost like pizza). I also had a glass of their excellent Georgian wine. €18.40 for lunch for two.

Hvezeli

Hvezeli

The place is tiny and lunchtime is best avoided unless you are willing to queue. They do takeaways and deliveries, but they close at 8pm.

After many failed attempts to get in during previous visits, I finally got to eat pizza at Užupio Picerija in Užupis. It is tiny too, but always full even when they have tables outside in summer. I can see why. The pizza was fantastic. You can reserve a table except on Saturdays and Sundays. It is at Paupio g. 3.

Two pizzas and two beers set us back €24.30.

I had a taste of nightlife in Bardakas. It is relaxed and friendly in the early part of the evening but gets busy later on. We ate there too, but it will not feature on the gastronomy section.

For Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve for less cultured societies) we took a bottle of Laurent Perrier to Maironio g., where you are on the side of a hill overlooking the Old Town, to watch the fireworks. It was fantastic, but busy and traffic Armageddon. We walked.

Old Town

Old Town

“Happy New Year” is “Su Naujaisiais Metais” in Lithuanian.

Posted by IainT 13:48 Archived in Lithuania Tagged art food stockholm helsinki scotland edinburgh restaurants sweden finland transport flights riga vilnius lithuania airlines Comments (0)

SAS

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SAS at ARN

SAS at ARN

I blogged recently about dreadful customer service inflicted on me by KLM in September.

I am happy to be able to blog now about excellent service from SAS - or maybe it was Stockholm Arlanda.

SAS at EDI

SAS at EDI

On last month’s journey from Edinburgh to Vilnius via Arlanda I had a tight transit time - 70 minutes. It was plenty time for me to get from one end of Terminal 5 to the other, but - perhaps due to that recent experience - I was a bit nervous about my suitcase doing the same.

T5 at ARN

T5 at ARN

The flight to Vilnius involved a bus trip from the gate to some long lost corner of the airport, and as I queued to board the plane after getting off the bus, I could see the baggage handlers were already loading suitcases into the hold. I hoped for the reassurance of seeing my bag being loaded, but it was not to be. They finished and closed the hold door.

My mild (non clinical) anxiety resumed, controlled quite well by my more usual sang-froid.

Then while my end of the queue inched closer to the Canadair RJ900, a baggage handler arrived on one of their wee electric trucks with one bag on it. Mine!

VNO Departures

VNO Departures

My trip home followed the same route in reverse, but with a 40 minute transit at ARN. The time was reduced to 30 minutes after the guidance system at the arrival gate for the flight from Vilnius refused to recognise a Canadair RJ900. A marshal had to be found.

As the flight to Edinburgh left from a passenger boarding bridge I was spared the tension of watching the baggage handlers. However, my expectations of meeting my suitcase at EDI were not high.

SAS at VNO

SAS at VNO

I need to be more positive - my suitcase was one of the first onto the carousel at EDI!

Thanks SAS. Thanks Arlanda.

Posted by IainT 00:22 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm edinburgh sweden flights sas vilnius klm airlines Comments (0)

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