This was a wasteful first day at BAcon, the BoardingArea Conference. One day in Las Vegas and I have more waste in my hotel room than I created in two weeks of traveling around Norway before coming to Las Vegas yesterday.

In my hotel room at Mandalay Bay, there is an empty plastic water bottle on the dresser, the styrofoam container that held my lunch from Panda Express, a paper cup with plastic lid and straw and plastic bag from Panda Express. Even though I had a cloth bag with me when I went to buy lunch today, I knew there was a high probability the juice from the Chinese food would spill out of the styrofoam package and soak my cloth bag. I did not want a messy cloth bag to wash. My Trader Joe’s recycled plastic bag would have been a better choice when I went to lunch, but I took that out of my backpack during the eight hours after getting home to Monterey from Oslo before coming to Las Vegas. I even wish I had brought tupperware to Las Vegas and had Panda Express put the food directly in my own container. That styrofoam will still be land or ocean fill long after I am dead. Another piece of long term waste for one meal of thousands of meals I have eaten in my life.

There are several small boxes from the BAcon conference swag. There is a table covered in packaging waste in my hotel room after 12 hours at the hotel.

wasteful

First day of BAcon waste in my hotel room.

In Norway this month, I was a good steward of the environment. I carried my hard plastic water bottle with me all day as I hiked miles around the countryside and cities. Tap water is fine in Norway. I was in and out of hotels, restaurants and bathrooms where I could refill my water bottle. I only drank water from my water bottle when outside all day. I purchased no fluids in Norway.

In Norway, I carried a hard plastic one piece cutlery with fork, knife and spoon I used for eating meals on the trip. I used Tupperware food containers for storing leftover food. I bought few things in Norway over two weeks, except for a few small food items. I took a cloth bag with me when I went to the store.

I carried and used the same bar of soap for two weeks in Norway that I opened at the Hyatt Regency SFO the night before I flew to Norway. That one bar of soap met my needs for 14 hotel nights, albeit in Norway there were refillable soap dispensers in all the hotels. Only the last hotel I stayed even had a bar of packaged soap for guests. I brought back that one bar of packaged soap from the last luxury hotel where I stayed in Norway. I’ll use that at home in Monterey.

Today I will be sure to carry my regular hard plastic water bottle with me all day. 275 million plastic water bottles are thrown out everyday in the USA. Only 6% of plastic water bottles in the USA are recycled.

Yesterday, I made a rare purchase at LAS airport Starbucks for a strawberry smoothie that I downed in 10 minutes.  I rarely make Starbucks purchases and this purchase was an impulse buy due to having a gift card in my wallet and a desire for something besides water. That was another plastic cup for the dumps of Las Vegas. Plastic straw too. And my purchase was unnecessary since I had water in my water bottle from the Monterey Airport filling station.

MRY water refill

Monterey Airport water bottle refill station at gate.

Tips for Environmentally Friendly Travel

1. Reusable water bottle.

2. Reusable coffee/hot beverage mug if you order hot beverages.

3. Reusable plastic cutlery rather than throwaway forks and spoons.

4. Cloth bag and/or hard plastic bag when you want a rectangular bottom.

5.. Tupperware or reusable container for food orders. Have your food order placed directly in your own clean container with sealable lid.  Styrofoam takes longer than your lifetime to degrade.

Environmental friendly

Pack right and waste lite

Travel does not need to be so wasteful if you plan to be environmentally friendly on the road.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

The Bergen line to Oslo across Norway is considered one of the great rail journeys of the world. I made the 7.5 hour trip on Monday, September 15 riding a bus from Bergen to Voss due to rail maintenance and then picked up the train in Voss for the remaining six hours and nearly 400 km of the journey to Oslo. The western portion of the trip is the more dramatic scenery as you travel from the narrow fjords of western Norway around Bergen to the glacial plateau of the Hardangervidda through a barren rock landscape of treeless high alpine country at 3,500 to over 5,600 feet in central southern Norway. The rail line peaks out at just over 4,000 feet on the Hardangervidda Plateau around Finse, Norway.

Part one of my Bergen Line Railway travel with photos.

Hardangervidda is a large mountain plateau with a rugged alpine landscape. Finse is a popular launching point for wilderness hikes into the region. In 1981 Hardangervidda was designated a national park, Norway’s largest at 1,321 square miles (3,422 sq. km). Norway’s largest wild reindeer herd lives in the Hardangervidda with a population estimated around 8,000 migrating animals between the east and west sides of the park region. I have read these reindeer are weary of humans and hard to spot on the Hardangervidda from the road and train. I did not see any reindeer. This is also reindeer hunting season in Norway.

near Hallingskeid-2

Near Hallingskeid, Norway on the Hardangervidda Plateau

Hallingskeid is 1,110 meters (3,642 feet) in elevation.

Read More…

The North America Strongman Master’s National Championships are being held in the Las Vegas Convention Center today. These are the kind of people who can carry the beer keg down the stairs and across the yard for you when you can’t roll the sucker.

I met an international strongman on my trip back from Norway two days ago. Passengers waiting to board the FRA-SFO flight gawked at his impressive size. He was huge at some inches over six feet and each thigh posting a tape measure size larger than the waistlines of most of the German women waiting to board the flight.

It took a long time to board the 747-400 aircraft. The flight was oversold and United offered $800 for passengers willing to fly the next day, and a Frankfurt Airport hotel room for the night included.

Read More…

The Bergen line to Oslo across Norway is considered one of the great rail journeys of the world. It is about a 7.5 hour journey for travel from Bergen to Oslo, 500 km by train, and for my journey to Voss by bus. The ticket is as low as 249 NOK (about $40 USD) if you book a minipris ticket early on NSB.no. The link here is to the English language version. The ticket price goes up by 50 NOK as tickets sell with assigned seating.

You need to book this train ticket early for a low price since it is probably the most popular route in Norway. My travel plans changed due to the ticket price doubling for the date I wanted to travel to Bergen and I ended up flying on Norwegian Airlines for $50 with one checked bag, less than the price of the train. While I am all-in for traveling around the world, NSB will remind you many times that train travel is more environmentally friendly than plane travel.

The unrestricted train ticket price goes up to 829 NOK (about $135 USD). The big advantage of an unrestricted ticket is the option to get off the train somewhere and explore some interior country of Norway as long as you travel on the same date. Comfort seating is an extra 90 NOK which gives seats with electrical outlets and access to a coffee machine for free coffee, cappuccino and latte, hot chocolate and tea.

I paid for comfort class and downed about six cappuccinos and lattes during the 6 hour train portion of my trip. The other advantage of comfort class is I moved away from my seat mate and spent almost all the train ride in a carriage with only one other person.  I could jump from one side of the car to the other to snap photos. The train conductor said I was okay sitting in my unassigned seat as long as nobody boarded the train to claim it. He said he did not think anyone would be taking the seat, but I would have to move if that happened. It seems like most people in Norway who deal with tourists speak flawless English, with better English grammar than many Americans.

Caveat to this post is I snapped almost all these photos through the train windows and there is some glare in some of the pictures. Still, many came out quite well and I have picked out a selection of pictures that best illustrate the changing topography from the mountainous fjords of western Norway to the glaciers of the high country and the forest and farms in the east.

This is part one of the Bergen to Oslo train trip from the fjords of Bergen to the high glacier country of Norway. Part two will show the train descent from the high country to the forests and farm country of eastern Norway on the approach to Oslo.

Read More…

Today is Thursday and that means Marriott Rewards Flashperks 50% off reward nights go on sale at 1pm ET, 12 noon CT, and 10am PT. Sad to read the words “This is the third-to-last week of FlashPerks” on MarriottRewardsInsiders.com.  This has been one of the highlight promotions of 2014 and I encourage readers to let Marriott Rewards know you want these weekly offers to continue. There have been some fantastic 50% reward night rates at select hotels the past couple months. And here are three more.

I will be flying to Las Vegas this morning for the  BoardingArea BACON2 conference when this sale goes live, so check out http://www.marriottrewardsflashperks.com/ for more 24-hours only deals today.

Kauai Marriott Resort Package = 20,000 points per night.

Marriott Rewards Flashperks booking link.

• Half off the regular Rewards points cost
• Complimentary room upgrade
• Two bottomless Mahalo Mugs, with unlimited non-alcoholic beverage refills
Stay dates: Dec 1-14
• Up to 10 rooms available per night

Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa = 20,000 points per night.

Marriott Rewards Flashperks booking link.

• Half off the regular Marriott Rewards points costs
• 20% spa discount
• Complimentary upgrade to a garden view room
Stay dates: December 1-14
• Up to 10 rooms available per night

Give Napa some earthquake business recovery support this December and head out to wine country.

Some other FlashPerks deals for Sep 18.

  • Half off of the regular Marriott Rewards points redemption cost for the New York Marriott East Side, plus complimentary desserts for two in the hotel restaurant (No details for dates. Check website when sale goes live.)
  • A 10% discount to non-refundable Main Cabin fares on Virgin Airlines’ domestic routes
  • Uber - For a limited time only, Marriott is offering an exclusive new-user promotion; sign up with code UBERMRFP and get $20 off your first ride.
  • Portugal Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort Package

Baltimore Marriott Waterfront

Marriott Rewards Flashperks link.

A 30% discount to regular room rates at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, with Harborview accommodations, complimentary cocktails in the Greatroom and a pair of tickets to the National Aquarium – Baltimore

The Waterfront Experience package includes:

• 30% off regular rates
• Harborview accommodation
• Complimentary in-room WiFi
• Two complimentary cocktails, available in the Greatroom
• Two tickets to the National Aquarium – Baltimore
Stay dates: Friday – Sunday nights from October 3 – November 16
• Up to 10 rooms available per night
• Prepay in full, non-refundable, no changes

I find the 50% off reward nights to be the top values of these weekly Marriott Rewards Flashperks. I would like to see them continue. Please email Marriott Rewards and let them know these offers have value for you. In the loyalty travel industry there have been so many takeaways the past couple of years with most of the new benefits focused on hotel loyalty elite members. I have welcomed this great weekly promotional offer from Marriott Rewards as one of the best and more egalitarian offers of 2014.

 

This is part two of my hotel review for Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen on hotel rooms and gym. Public spaces and food for this #1 rated TripAdvisor hotel in Bergen, Norway in Part One of Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen is here.

The hotel is 16,000 Choice Privileges points per night. There were several room types available. I had one of the few rooms at the hotel with a balcony, but I never used the balcony. The windows across the way are offices in an interior courtyard. I would have preferred a different room at the hotel, but it was okay for the stay. Here are photos of three different room types on the sixth floor of Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen in 603, 610 and 617.

Room 617 (my room on top floor with balcony)

Havne beds

My reservation for the room was one double bed. I only used one of the beds during five nights. The bed was a little too soft for my liking.

Read More…

Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel for Bergen, Norway is where I stayed several nights this past week. The location is beside the Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site and across the street from the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen. These two hotels are the last stop on  the Bergen Airport Express bus for 90 NOK door to door service.

Bergen at night

Bryggen, Norway is the old Hanseatic League wharf. Clarion Collection Havnekonteret is the large building on the left.

Read More…

Bergen bewitched me. All my fears about Bergen weather with 9 inches of rain on average for the month of September were cast away in a  summer spell of six straight sunshine filled days. Norway’s second largest city is the environment where I biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen. A week in Bergen was one of my most relaxing international adventures in years.

Bergen sailing

Islands of Bergen in fjord country of Norway

One of my first activities was to hop on a bicycle and check out the landscape.

Bergen biker

Uphill cycling in Bergen

Around Bergen the road is generally going uphill or downhill. I could not sustain that for more than a couple hours. Stinging legs from uphill climbs pained me into submitting to walking for the rest of the trip.

Bergen Golden Gate

Bergen’s ‘Golden Gate Bridge’ to Askoy Island

California Dreamin’ in Bergen with a view that looks like San Francisco’s Golden Gate.

Bergen city park

Bergen city park on a sunny, warm summer day

Bergen is city parks and wilderness, museums and cruise ships, old traditions and new technologies.

Bergen ageless

Legs up in Bergen.

Bergen is ageless. Bergen is a vibrant city of young people and a city of healthy people living long.

Bergen bike park

Cycling up in the air.

There are the fish market, Bryggen and fjord cruises for tourists. The weather was too nice to be inside and the wilderness too close and available to spend the day confined with people on boat and bus rides.

Hiking around is my favorite activity and Bergen offered a playground of places to walk and different vantage points to see.

Floyen city view

Floyen view of Bergen from 320 meters view platform.

Floyen is a lovely park walk at 320 meters. Ulriken is a bit more of a mountain scramble to summit 643 meters if you do not ride the cable tram up to the top.

Ulriken hikers

Ulriken view of Bergen from 643 meters is a bit more challenging hike, although the trail map labels this hike “Easy’.

Seeing Norway and meeting Norwegians was easy on the trails. In the outdoors is where locals seemed to be more willing to take a moment to talk. Although, even on the mountains it seems people take pride in moving quickly and conquering the environment.

Mountain bikers

Norwegian mountain bikers take the quick route down Ulriken.

There are several ways to descend the 2,100 feet of Ulriken.

Ulriken parasailing

Soaring off Ulriken in Bergen.

Parasailing off Ulriken is something I had seen from the harbor. The view was even better from near the top.

Ulriken hiking women

Norwegian women rock.

Three days of hiking around Bergen revealed to me that women seem to outnumber men hikers by about 4 to 1. Interesting data point.

Bergen revealed Norway’s strength and beauty to me.

Norway flag on Ulriken

Norway flag on top of Ulriken, Bergen’s highest mountain at 643 meters or 2,110 feet.

Thanks for six days of sunshine Bergen. Thanks for the memories of Bergen outdoors.

There are two Clarion Collection hotels in Bergen, Norway. Clarion Collection Havnekontoretis ranked #1 on TripAdvisor this week with 84% favorable rating and Clarion Collection No 13 is ranked TripAdvisor #2 of 42 listed hotels for Bergen with an 80% favorable rating. I stayed at both hotels and I highly recommend either hotel. The better choice depends on your style with Havnekontoret being the larger hotel at the Bryggen in historic Bergen and a hotel with plenty of amenities and also plenty of tour groups. Clarion Collection No 13 is much smaller with a boutique, modern design. During my stay there were no encounters with other Americans or tour groups. Both Clarion Collection hotels are across the street from the two Bergen Radisson Blu hotels in the same general area of central Bergen about five minutes walk from each other.

What might be your deciding factor is Havnekonteret is 16,000 points per reward night and No 13 is only 12,000 Choice Privileges points.

Clarion No 13

Clarion Collection No 13, Bergen, Norway is on the main pedestrian walkway with shops and a 24-hour McDonald’s next door. 20 NOK for a McDouble sandwich is the cheapest sandwich I have seen in Norway, although the vegetable toppings of a Subway 25 NOK ham sandwich make a better deal in my opinion. The advantage of Clarion Collection hotels, besides free breakfast common for most hotels in Norway, is an evening meal too. There is more food to be found at Clarion Collection Havnekontoret (review to come), but I think Clarion Collection No 13 is higher food quality with the restaurant BARE pa 13 operating as a separate entity and serving an evening meal rather than the basic evening buffet at Havnekontoret.

Read More…

Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection is a 100-year old hotel in the historic whaling town on the southeast coast of Norway. Besides a visit to the whaling museum, two other reasons to find yourself in Sandefjord are the Sandefjord TORP airport 4 minutes by train north of town and the Color Line Sandefjord – Strømstad, Sweden ferry.

Hotel Atlantic

Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord

Hotel Atlantic opened in 1914 at a time when the Norwegian whaling industry had achieved global range and made Sandefjord one of the wealthiest towns in Norway. Hotel Atlantic is as much a whaling museum attraction as a hotel destination with its extensive whaling history artifacts and uniquely designed public spaces immersing the guest in Norway’s whaling culture.

Read More…

« previous home top