Planning for the Scandinavian Trip …

I have 11 days to spare, from July 9th till July 20th (of 2010), during our 2010 Family Vacation. After considering various combinations like:

(a) Greece + Turkey

(b) Hungary + Romania + Bulgaria

etc.

I decided to try Scandinavia this time around. The main criteria for this was that my wife Rosemary would love to visit Greece and Eastern Europe and she would not be with me during this period. Since I am planning a separate and detailed European trip with Rosemary, I decided to stick to a region she is not that excited about and which would be good, weather-wise, at that time of the year. Hence the Scandinavian decision.

– Norway

– Sweden

– Finland

– St. Petersburg (Russia)

I will touch each country separately in my blog. For starters, I visited the Tourism Websites of these countries and ordered their brochures. I am also spending a significant amount of time at the Library, doing research on these countries. As I have mentioned elsewhere, my first point of reference is Rick Steves’ books and DVDs. But then, it is always nice to cross-check with other sources.

### Norway:

Going through the brochures and guidebooks, I feel that it is a pity that I wont be able to spend more time in this country (but then, I feel this way about any country 😉 ). I will have to stick to the “best” the country has to offer, atleast on this trip. Hopefully, I will get to visit this region again. The current plan is to spend 1 day in Bergen, 1 day for “Norway in a Nutshell” tour through Sognefjord and 2 days in Oslo.

Bergen: A beautiful coastal town with a lot of history. The Bryygen Hanseatic area will be interesting to visit. I also plan to visit the Fish Market area and also make a trip to the top of Mount Floyen.

Norway in a Nutshell: By all accounts, a must-visit area. I plan to book a “Bergen-Oslo” version of this tour. From the photos and descriptions, I am looking forward to the spectacular scenery. This trip will take a whole day and I should reach Oslo in the evening.

Oslo: After reviewing the list of main sights in Oslo, I have decided to spend 2 days (and 2 nights) in Oslo. I intend to spend one day visiting non-Bygdoy sights and one day visiting Bygdoy sights.

So, current plan:

July 10th – Arrive in London (Heathrow), from San Francisco. After storing the big bags at Baggage Storage, I will catch a flight to Bergen. Should reach Bergen by 13:00.

July 11th – Leave Bergen early in the morning for the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour to Oslo. Reach Oslo in the evening.

July 12th – Whole day in Oslo

July 13th – Spend the day in Oslo and catch a night train to Stockholm.

To continue …

Research on Britain …

Did research on Britain over the past 2 weeks. As you know, Britain consists of England, Wales and Scotland. Overall, on our return from India, we have 8 days to spare in/around London. At this point, I am leaning towards the following Itinerary:

Day1 – Arrive in London: Store the bags at Heathrow. Check in at the Hotel, near Victoria Station or King’s Cross. Keep the schedule light for the day.

Day2: First day in London

Day3: Second day in London

Day4: Leave for Edinburgh via train. It takes 5 hours to reach there. Check in at the Hotel or B&B, near Royal Mile or Dalkeith Road.

Day5: First day at Edinburgh (Castle and the Royal Mile)

Day6: Second day at Edinburgh (Highlands Tour)

Day7-8: TBD. Probably a hop into Ireland (Dublin) or Northern Ireland (Belfast).

Now, London is a must visit and adding it to the itinerary was easy. Also, it is our Europe Hub during the vacation. Though seeing all the above-average sights in London will require several days, we decided to limit it to 2-3 days, so that we have time to explore the rest of the British Isles. Though I have made a list of the sights we will see, the hotel and B&B options and the cuisine, I will begin to map it all out (in detail) only after the overall 8-day high-level plan is in place. Between Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, most of the material out there suggests Edinburgh as the better and more enjoyable option. Also, just as luck would have it, we will be in Scotland during the Edinburgh Festival! This is a big plus. So, Edinburgh it is … Though I am no big whisky drinker, I got to give it a try and hopefully visit a distillery while in Scotland. I plan to pick a Highlands Tour which will give us a peek at Loch Ness (Yeah, I am “touristy” 🙂 ).

The weather in August, though better than at other times, promises to be lousy in comparison to our California weather. It should be alright.

What is really happening in Afghanistan?

I sincerely hope that the Government knows what it is doing. After Billions of $$$, over 9 years, all we have to show for it is a corrupt Karzai regime (who barely has control over Kabul, let alone the entire country) and pockets of violence all over and spilling into Pakistan … This latest troop surge and the additional funds (from where? I have no idea) is hopefully based on some really good planning.

Including Iraq, we have a very fragile region of the world struggling to find an optimal balance.

Though I would love to visit Iraq and Afghanistan, as a tourist, looks like it wont happen …

By the by, my family spent 5 years in Iran (latter years of Shah and the initial couple of years of Khomeini) when my father worked in Zabul, Chahbahar and Zahedan as an Eye Doctor.

Planning for Summer 2010 Vacation …

Planning to visit India during Summer 2010. Its my first visit to Kerala in 4 years! Though I have met my father when he visited US in Jun 2009, I havent seen my mother since Feb 2006. Really looking forward to the trip.

After a lot of research and pondering, we have decided to spend 1-2 weeks in England and Ireland. Since it is summer, the weather should be quite okay (except for the intermittent rains). I am in the process of making the detailed plans.

On my way out to India, I will be visiting Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg). Have started researching for this. For me, that is a lot of fun! Not only does it increase your understanding of a region of the world, it offers a lot of scope for Problem Solving 🙂 Each trip brings it owns intricacies and complications.

I am a big fan of Rick Steves. I have all his travel books and most of his TV shows (DVD). I am now in the process of researching Norway and microscheduling my days in Norway …

Is the economy well and truly buzzing again???

– Just heard that the unemployment is at 10.0% (from 10.2%)

– A few companies have started hiring

– Markets seem to be making its way back

Now I guess we need to wait and watch how the Dubai crisis and Healthcare pans out …

Congrats to Davydenko for a wonderful tournament and for the great accomplishment of beating Nadal, Federer and Del Potro in back-to-back matches!

Nadal was obviously not at his peak, physically. It is impossible that he would leave the Round Robin with a 0-3 record.

Federer’s unforced error count has dramatically increased in all the recent important matches. A lot more errors on the forehand.

Del Potro has had a great year. I recall the match with Federer at AUS 2009, where he got beaten pretty badly and the commentators were saying that he is far from hitting the “Bit Time”. Well, in just 9 months after that, he won US Open! The way he hits his forehand, especially when the ball is short, is a treat to watch. Zzzzzinggggggg! The sound is nice to hear.

Since every Tom, Dick and Harry does their 2010 predictions, why not me?

Australian Open, 2010: Djokovic

French Open, 2010: Nadal

Wimbledon, 2010: Federer

US Open 2010: Federer

Lets see what happens …