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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)

Best of 2019 (4)


View Athens & Krefeld & Sheffield & Nottingham & Tbilisi 2 & Belfast & Faroes & Iceland & Orkney & Tbilisi & Sheffield 2 & Sheffield & Dublin & Belfast & Barcelona & Manchester & Dundee & Vilnius 3 on IainT's travel map.

Cafe Leila, Tbilisi

Cafe Leila, Tbilisi

This award category is for restaurants. In this category there are too many places to mention, so only the most memorable ones get a name check.

Where will I start!

One of the best of the year was also the first of the year, on 1st January. At Joanos Carinovos Smuklė in the Belmontas Centras (Vilnius) I had a wonderful lunch in a lovely place. Cobwebs were blown away.

Traditional

Traditional

My short visit to Barcelona produced several successes with restaurant choices. Good judgement or luck? Both, probably.

La Bicicleta

La Bicicleta

My hotel in Kirkwall - The Storehouse - describes itself as a restaurant with rooms, so I gave it a try. It was really good quality.

Restaurant

Restaurant

I also “ate in” when I stayed at Chateau Bruale in Tkhilitstskaro. It gets a lot of points for giving me the chance to try the vineyard’s own Rkatsiteli Mtsvane and because in September it was still warm enough to eat outside. The food was excellent quality - of country style rather than sophisticated.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Can in Istanbul is a place I returned to, as I have several times. I love the cafeteria type set up, and the food is always excellent. Dinner there is almost always followed by ice cream and tea at Mado, a few meters along the street.

Baklava & Dondurma

Baklava & Dondurma

I went on walking food tours in Tbilisi and Athens and learned a huge amount about the cuisine of those countries in addition to enjoying great food.

Ariston Pie Shop

Ariston Pie Shop

Street food attracted me in Tòrshavn and Reykjavík - fish and chips being a stand out meal in each city.

In fact Chateau Bruale is this year’s winner.

Top Class

Top Class

Drinking wine which has been produced on the premises from grapes grown in the surrounding fields is an unusual experience, and the wine was sublime.

Posted by IainT 09:18 Archived in Georgia Tagged food barcelona greece restaurants athens turkey istanbul georgia catalunya vilnius lithuania tbilisi reykjavik faroes kakheti torshavn stepansminda tkhilitstskaro Comments (0)

Sad

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"Good Old Days"

"Good Old Days"

With Brexit fast approaching (or not?), and massive queues through baggage check and passport control, it’s clear that dream died. R.I.P. that E.U. utopia

I had a depressing exchange of views on Facebook last week with a friend - mid 40s, and well educated - who was having a girn about how long it takes to get onto Eurostar in London.

Her comment about “that dream” relates to the expectation of the EU enabling frictionless travel and the Channel Tunnel facilitating it for the UK. When I suggested the freedom of movement dream is alive and well elsewhere in the EU, but the UK has turned its back on it, I got a snotty response…

… it’s only the privileged few who travel who would have noticed.

Being very aware of having just a few days left as an EU citizen, her comments and attitude were a reminder of the twisted attitudes of so many in the UK, much of it just based on abject ignorance and whipped up by xenophobic politicians and the media.

Democracy?

Democracy?

Scotland is much less affected by it than our cousins down south, but we have our bampot minority.

Her comments made me think of the masses of people in Ireland (north and south of the border) who drive across the open border freely as if it doesn’t exist - perhaps just folk in the south going shopping in the north because it is a bit cheaper. Or the people who live in County Donegal and commute across “the border” into Derry to work.

The Future

The Future

For the benefit of those who have not had the privilege, the border does not exist except on paper. When you drive across it, only the different road signs give it away.

People who live in the south of Bavaria don’t even think about there being a border with Austria when they drive across it for a weekend of hiking in the Alps - except for buying a vignette if they have to go on an Austrian Autobahn.

Kitzbuhel Alpen

Kitzbuhel Alpen

Again, only the change of roadsigns marks the border.

Those living in the east of the Freistaat might think about “the border” with the Czech Republic when they drive across to fill the car with fuel, but only because it is cheaper on the Czech side.

Folk in Vilnius don’t think they are crossing a border when they jump on a bus to Rīga to visit friends or family. The bus doesn’t even stop at the border. There is no security or customs or passport control.

Rīga

Rīga

Aye, the “privileged few who travel”.

Perhaps I wound her up with my comment about flying from Helsinki to Vilnius via Rīga in December, without showing my passport once? Well, she was taking the train to Paris to catch a plane to Martinique.

Posted by IainT 07:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged people helsinki scotland germany ireland finland transport riga vilnius bavaria lithuania derry brexit Comments (0)

Best of 2018 (4)

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View Vilnius 3 & Vilnius 2 & Toulouse & Lockerbie 2 & Barraigh & Bergen & Vilnius & IIHF & Aberdeen & Steòrnabhagh & Girne '18 & Eagles & Ouarzazate on IainT's travel map.

L'Apéro

L'Apéro

Category 4 of the awards is for restaurants. Really I spoiled myself again this year in the eating out category.

In Girne - well I knew where to go, and had plenty choice! However the best was a new place. Beşparmak Bufavento was amazing - spectacular in terms of the quality and quantity of the food, plus a fabulous view.

Wonderful

Wonderful

I seem to have become a creature of habit in Istanbul. Can Restoran (in Fatih, close to the Blue Mosque) for a main course followed by Mado a few doors along for a dessert. It’s a great habit.

Baklava & Dondurma

Baklava & Dondurma

I know Toulouse so well, and the food is so good everywhere! So is the wine. Le Dahu in rue des Blanchers was the best during my 2018 visit.

Le Dahu

Le Dahu

The same can be said about Vilnius, and of course I had three visits during 2018. Sunday lunch revolving around the TV Tower was amazing. Good food, good company, amazing views and great memories. It is called the Paukščių takas restaurant (Milky Way) and it is at a height of 165 metres.

I also enjoyed fantastic Georgian delights at Chačapuri Sodų.

Hvezeli

Hvezeli

I had a superb lunch in Kaunas when I returned to the place where I ate in 2015 - Medžiotojų užeiga on Rotušės a. Great traditional food and a lovely location.

In Copenhagen I really enjoyed the smørrebrød. There’s a wee place called Centrum on Vesterbrogade, opposite the front entrance to the Central Station… Excellent. Nothing fancy - just great food.

Copenhagen Dinner

Copenhagen Dinner

Café Rouge In Sheffield is a place I’ve eaten before and they did not let me down. It is solid French bistrot type food.

Sympa

Sympa

An Lanntair in Stornoway was the best out of the few places I ate while traveling in Scotland. Good food, a relaxed atmosphere and a view out over the harbour.

Christmas dinner was Middle Eastern food (think about it) at Fafa’s in Helsinki. Delicious!

Beşparmak Bufavento has to be in the top 3. Medžiotojų užeiga too. The last slot goes to Paukščių takas.

Moving

Moving

OK. Decision time! The winner is Paukščių takas. The food was great. So was the place, and the company too.

Posted by IainT 13:43 Archived in Scotland Tagged food helsinki scotland france restaurants turkey island istanbul finland cyprus denmark copenhagen vilnius lithuania lewis toulouse kibris sheffield kaunas stornoway islandlife girne steòrnabhagh leòdhas best_of_2018 Comments (0)

Best of 2018 (3)

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View Vilnius 3 & Vilnius 2 & Toulouse & Lockerbie 2 & Barraigh & Bergen & Vilnius & IIHF & Aberdeen & Steòrnabhagh & Girne '18 & Eagles & Ouarzazate on IainT's travel map.

Hôtel Dieu, Toulouse

Hôtel Dieu, Toulouse

This award category is for accommodation.

My hotel in Barra - the Castlebay - was the year’s only disappointment but this did not come as a big surprise. The place was below average and the prices very high. Poor value for money. The view from my room was the only positive I could find.

Bedroom View

Bedroom View

Bergen was a big success all round, and the Magic Hotel was part of it. An ideal location, good food and excellent comfort. Add to that the excellent value for money, and there we are.

Magic Entrance

Magic Entrance

On my way to Bergen I stayed at the Jury’s Inn at Aberdeen Airport. As airport hotels go, it was just fine.

I also stayed in the Jury’s Inn in Bradford. Among the budget brands it is one of my favourites. Bradford is no exception.

My stay in Stornoway was excellent - just what you expect from a good Scottish B&B. Comfortable, quiet, friendly and a great breakfast.

In Klaipėda I had two nights at the Memel Hotel. It was lovely. The location is good, close to the city centre but not in it. I enjoyed a comfortable room and an excellent breakfast.

Memel Welcome

Memel Welcome

I had Airbnb stays in Toulouse and Vilnius - and both were ideal. They were just what I expected from their listings. I also had two Airbnb experiences in Northern Cyprus. In Girne it was an apartment I’ve stayed in before so obviously it was good. The Nikovlita Garden Hotel in Kumyalı was wonderful. Just so laid back, welcoming and… different.

Nikovlita Garden Hotel

Nikovlita Garden Hotel

In Istanbul I had a few nights at the Terrace Guesthouse. It is truly special and a past winner.

The year had begun in the Novotel in Casablanca - I like it for all kinds of reasons. Location is a big part of it - on top of all the usual things I like about the Novotel brand. It is almost across the street from the Casa Port railway station and so really convenient from the airport.

Dawn

Dawn

I also stayed in a Novotel in Glasgow on my way to catch the plane to Barra - I like the brand and the Glasgow version lived up to the usual standards.

My third Novotel stay (some kind of record, I suppose) was in Sheffield. It was just what I expected. Excellent.

Helsinki in December meant 2 nights in the Vaakuna Hotel across the street from the central railway station. The hotel was completed in 1952 to house athletes at the Helsinki Olympics. Although refurbished since then, of course, it retains some 1950s style features. I loved it.

Hotel View

Hotel View

When I’m trying to decide on my favourite, step one is usually to choose my top three. This time it is tough. The Airbnbs in Toulouse and Vilnius have to be in the top three. I think the Vaakuna Hotel in Helsinki has to be the third.

Apartment - Front

Apartment - Front

Ultimately I have gone for the Toulouse Airbnb as the winner. It had pretty much everything I could have wanted. Quiet. Comfortable. An ideal location.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇪🇺

Posted by IainT 23:13 Archived in Scotland Tagged bergen helsinki turkey island istanbul finland morocco norway cyprus aberdeen denmark copenhagen vilnius lithuania lewis toulouse casablanca kibris barra sheffield klaipeda bradford stornoway islandlife steòrnabhagh leòdhas castlebay barraigh best_of_2018 Comments (0)

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