NeonNero cam
*/ ?>

Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

Blue Man Group coming up!

20.09.2010 16:50

It’s settled!

I’m going to Stockholm next week to catch some of the Blue Man Group experience! I can’t wait to see them again! I’ve actually had the trip itself planned for about a month now, it was only last week I could secure the final tickets for a full week of shows. They’ve already been playing in Stockholm since September 8, and they will keep it going in Stockholm until October 24, which is when they pack up and move to the next city of their European tour, which will be Vienna. Although they already have a more permanent show in Berlin, it will be much closer with the show in Stockholm. It could only be better if they set up shows in Oslo, which is only a single flight away.

I’ve bought myself a ticket (only myself, I’m afraid) to each show while I’m there; one on Wednesday, one on Thursday, two on Friday, three on Saturday and one on Sunday. I plan to return the following Monday.

Thinking back, I did notice that my last two foreign vacation trips were also planned around specific Blue Man Group events. In 2008, I went to Copenhagen in October specifically to catch the How to Be a Megastar 2.1 international tour, and in 2009 (last year), I went to Las Vegas and Orlando in mid-July, planned around the Blue Man Group Monster Fan Meet in Orlando. I specifically chose hotels close to Blue Man Group venues (The Venetian in Last Vegas, and Loews Royal Pacific in Orlando, which is one of the three hotels connected to Universal Studios and CityWalk).

And once again, this year, my “main” vacation is planned around a Blue Man Group event, which is the short show run in Stockholm. This will be the closest it has been so far (although for the Megastar tour, I did fly on a direct flight between Ålesund and Copenhagen). Stockholm, by comparison, is two flights away. I’ll be travelling via Bergen on my way to Stockholm, and via Oslo on the return trip.

Show times I’m booked on:

  • Wednesday @ 19:30 (7:30 PM)
  • Thursday @ 19:30 (7:30 PM)
  • Friday @ 19:00 (7 PM) and 22:00 (10 PM)
  • Saturday @ 16:00 (4 PM), 19:00 (7PM) and 22:00 (10 PM)
  • Sunday @ 16:00 (4PM)

I imagine it will be quite the experience. The 19:00 show on Friday and the 22:00 show on Saturday is in the mid section of the theater, while all the others are in the poncho section (where you’re given a thin plastic rain poncho to protect your clothes due the possibility of stuff spraying off the stage). My last show (on Sunday) is even in the very front row! The mid section tickets were by choice, though, just to make sure I get a slight variation in my experience.

If someone wants to meet up while I’m in Stockholm, feel free to contact me through my website. I’ll be checking my e-mail periodically while I’m there (but not as often, so please let me know before the 27th so I can give you my direct number). I only have dinner plans before the Thursday show and after the Sunday show, otherwise I have no specific plans.

See you there?

Ferie i USA, del 2 av 2

13.09.2010 17:02

This article is intended for Norwegians who’d like to repeat my vacation last year, either in whole or in part. It contains information on travel, booking and other travel tips when going on vacation to either Las Vegas (Nevada), Orlando (Florida), or both.

Min ferie i fjor sommer (2009) gikk til for første gang utenfor Europa, destinasjon USA, og jeg reiste helt alene. Nå i etterkant tenkte jeg å dele noen tips basert på mine egne erfaringer både i planleggingen og under selve reisen. Jeg føler at disse kan være til nytte for andre som kan tenke seg å reise til USA, og kanskje alene.

Dette er del 2 av 2 i artikkelserien rundt dette temaet. For planleggingsprosessen og innkjøp før avreise, sjekk del 1 i denne serien. Denne delen vil ta for seg selve reisen. (more…)

Forsinket bloggpost

05.09.2010 09:04

De som følger denne bloggen, vil kanskje legge merke til at jeg ennå ikke har kommet med andre og siste del i serien om feriereise til USA. Dette kommer mest av en spesiell nyhetssak som gjelder nordmenn nettopp i Las Vegas.

* Dagens IT: Norske Visa-kort forbudt i Las Vegas

Et slikt forbud ville da umuliggjøre en skikkelig reise til Las Vegas spesifikt, så jeg la min artikkel på is i påvente av en oppdatering.

* Dagens IT: – Loven er skivebom

* Dagens IT: Strandet på Kypros

Som dere kan se, så rammer en slik lov mye bredere enn bare gambling. Dessuten vil de som virkelig er spilleavhengige uansett klare å finne en omvei rundt en slik lovgivning, så det ville bare ramme alle oss andre. Så å si alle hotell på “The Strip” i Las Vegas er såkalte casinohotell, dvs. de er delt inn i to deler – en casinodel og en hotelldel – men begge deler regnes da under ett når det kommer til betalinger. Dermed vil en gjest på bl.a. The Venetian med et norsk kredittkort ikke kunne sjekke skikkelig inn på rommet med sitt kort for løpende utgifter (romservice og ting som settes på rommet – hvis man har fulgt mine anbefalinger i del 1 av artikkelen, har man nemlig allerede forhåndsbetalt for selve oppholdet til et online reisebyrå), og man må da være nødt til å ha med flere kredittkort på reisen slik at man kan ta ut kontanter etter hvert som maksgrensen er brukt opp på hvert kredittkort (altså maksimalt beløp for en spesifikk tidsperiode).

Først nå nylig har jeg lagt merke til enda en oppfølgingsartikkel rundt dette temaet, der kulturminister Anniken Huitfeldt kommer til å se nærmere på saken og vurdere å endre loven. Det er da håp i hengende snøre at loven kanskje er fjernet igjen i tide til neste år.

* Dagens IT: Huitfeldt vil se på «kasinoloven»

Jeg vil i løpet av den neste uken fullføre artikkelserien for de som skulle ønske å gjøre et forsøk på denne turen til neste år. Allerede nå har Expedia.no åpnet for bestilling av reise (fly+hotell) for juli 2011, for de som skulle være interessert.

* Ferie i USA, del 1 av 2

* Ferie i USA, del 2 av 2

Ferie i USA, del 1 av 2

15.04.2010 03:40

This article is intended for Norwegians who’d like to repeat my vacation last year, either in whole or in part. It contains information on travel, booking and other travel tips when going on vacation to either Las Vegas (Nevada), Orlando (Florida), or both.

Nå som jeg har reist til USA selv, tenkte jeg å dele noen tips basert på mine egne erfaringer både i planleggingen og under selve reisen. Jeg ser på dette som en mulighet for å korte ned på tid folk trenger å bruke på planlegging i forkant av en ferietur til USA.

April er allerede godt i gang, og da er det faktisk en passende tid å begynne planleggingen og ikke minst bestille reisen. Er man tidlig ute, kan man slippe mye av ventetider og samtidig finne noen gode kupp på reiser. Selv begynte jeg planleggingen i midten av mars, og gjennomførte bestillingen i begynnelsen av april.

For å unngå overraskelser underveis, vil jeg anbefale å lese kjapt gjennom hele denne artikkelen før du reiser for å unngå overraskelser.

Dette er del 1 av 2 i en kort artikkelserie rundt dette temaet. For selve reisen og oppholdet, sjekk del 2 i denne serien. Denne delen vil ta for seg planleggingsprosessen og innkjøp før avreise. (more…)

Home again

02.09.2009 18:32

As you might’ve guessed by now, I came home a little over a month ago. I was only going to stay in Orlando for one week, so I left Orlando on Monday afternoon (July 27, local time), and arrived in Ålesund at around 2pm the following day. And that’s just with 2 flights, each with an hour or so of waiting time between flights.

The American trip was fun, and I’m definitely going back there some day. Both Las Vegas and Orlando were lots of fun, and I felt just one week at each location was maybe a few days or up to a week too short for everything I wanted to experience. Like I said, I’m definitely going back. Hopefully next year, if my economy allows it (maybe with a few days extra at each location, and perhaps even an extra location or two added, if possible). I’ll have to check back with my economy around springtime, I suppose.

Oh, and pictures from my vacation is up on Flickr. Just go to the Summer Vacation 2009 set to see all photos, or you can go see the photo sets just from Las Vegas, just from Orlando or even just from the Blue Man Group fan meet I attended in Orlando. In the vacation photos from Orlando, I’ve also included 9 of the photos taken by Disney’s PhotoPass service (when I visited the Walt Disney World parks), two videos from the Blue Man Group sound check (which we attended as part of the fan meet), and one video of a lightning storm in the distance the night before the fan meet (a smaller group of us fans was hanging out for a few hours on the night before). The lightning storm was nothing like anything I’ve seen before. We only get a few lightnings a year where I live, and then it’s only between sky and the ground, and always followed by thunder. Seeing lightning just strike the sky like that was an extraordinary sight, to say the least.

Speaking of that, I felt I connected mostly with Joe and his fiancé Alex, their close friends Jacob and his wife Melissa, and Mike. We all hang out the night before the fan meet (we were the entire “smaller group of fans” I mentioned earlier), and had a few drinks and a late snack. Just basic hanging out, more or less. No biggie.

When I landed in Oslo after a long flight from Philadelphia, though, I woke up with something that felt like a cold. Who knew that would last for a week or two? Maybe it was this “swine flu” thing, maybe it wasn’t. As a guy of average health, I don’t really bother to buy into the panic around swine flu created by the mass media. Frankly, those who have died or will die from swine flu, are also about the same people who would’ve died from the common flu. Period. There’s no need for the panic. The same goes for avian flu, too. Those who did contract it, basically lived in bird feces 24/7, and those who died from it, wouldn’t have survived the common flu, either. That’s my perception of the demographics on it, anyway, and if my memory serves me correctly, that’s close to the perception from health administration organizations around the world (CDC, WHO, etc) as well.

To be honest, I don’t think the demographics surrounding the flu deaths are publicized and emphasized enough in the mass media (or media in general). You’d almost think the media want a widespread panic regarding trivial things. I mean, look back at the major pandemics “predicted” by the media over the last decade or so. How many of these has actually come true? I think all of these need to do their research properly and perhaps re-read the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

So there.

And if you’ve seen my Flickr photostream, you might’ve noticed the wall of DVDs and my new working area. I had the three dark gray towers seen in the photo from before, and I bought another 10 towers (the BENNO CD tower shelf from IKEA, to be exact), each able to hold 88 DVDs. By my calculations, I now have room for 1144 regular-sized DVDs, and considering my current DVD collection now counts a little over 880 DVDs (and Blu-ray discs) of various sizes, I’m going to need it. Actually, the picture shows all my DVDs aside from a few TV show season boxes I temporarily had on another shelf. As you can see, I started filling the shelves from the right end of the wall, as I’ve yet to alphabetize them, and that’s not yet a priority. I know where most of the ones I like are, anyway (or at least the general area). The media shelf below that TV is also in the BENNO series, matching the design of the others, which will contain 1 Blu-ray player, 1 DVD player (which is also the surround sound base unit), 1 digital satellite tuner and 1 PlayStation2 (which I’ve had stored in a box for a couple of years now). Nothing is hooked up just yet, as the general area is still a bit of a mess. I’m a slow tidyer, but I know what I want it to look like.

My new working area doesn’t really need any explanation, though (the picture text really says it all).

I’ve gotten back on track with my dental treatments, and it looks like it’s going to take a while (as well as a chunk of my parents’ bank account, since they promised to cover the costs of getting my teeth up to good standard).

Oh, and to sum up my Blue Man Group attendance, I now have attended 1 rock concert (last October in Copenhagen, Denmark), 3 shows in Las Vegas (their flagship show, so to speak), and 2 shows in Orlando (one of their “minor” shows), and I still haven’t gotten enough of them! I noticed that they’re now going on a tour with the theatrical show around North America starting in late 2010, so maybe there’s a minor glimmer of hope that they’ll do the same across Europe, too. I know they already have a steady show in Berlin, but I know that show is entirely in German, which I think isn’t quite the same. But don’t think that’s going to stop me from seeing it if I ever pass through Berlin, though.

Finally in Orlando!

22.07.2009 06:34

After yesterday’s headaches, I finally arrived at my hotel in Orlando this afternoon (around 3pm), almost a full 15 hours after I originally should have. At least I got my off my sweaty travel-wear and into cleaner clothes (after a quick shower).

Now it’s going to be fun time all around! I’ll probably do Disney World on Thursday and Friday (I have a two-day pass with the ParkHopper option added), and Universal Studios the remainder of the days. Saturday will anyway be pretty much used for the Blue Man fan meet, but I suppose I will get a little out of that day as well.

And since I’m staying at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort hotel, I can use the express lane for a good deal of the rides at Universal. I did Shrek 4D today (which was all I had time for before the park closed for the day), and noticed that it’s still a waiting line, but it’s a much shorter waiting time in that line (I think I only stood in line for about 15 minutes).

What about Orlando?

21.07.2009 07:30

So anyway, I managed to get my ass out from the hotel so late, I also missed the last check-in for my flight at McCarran Airport (the Las Vegas airport, for those of you who don’t already know). United Airlines was kind enough to put me on standby for the next flight to Denver (which was my stop on my way to Orlando) at around 3:30pm, no extra charge. Not too shabby, as I would have 1 hour waiting time in Denver rather than 3. That is, if I actually got on that flight. Problem was, that one was fully booked and fully checked in, which also meant that I would completely miss my connecting flight to Orlando, which is also today’s last flight to Orlando from Denver. Oh, joy.

The next flight to Orlando leaves in the morning, at 8:04am, which means I’ll have to be back at the airport by 6am. I’m still on standby for that flight as well, but at least there were 19 unused seats on that flight at 9pm, so there’s still hope. People may say bad things about United Airlines, but I’ve found them to be quite accommodating for all my delays (which was originally my own fault). They even gave me a half-off voucher for a hotel stay near the airport, and the shuttle ride between the airport to the hotel(s) are complimentary, so it’s a small cost (the hotel I picked – SpringHill Suites near the Denver Airport – was $59 for the night, I believe).

Of course, on the taxi ride from The Venetian, I was intensely watching the time pass by (and pass the latest check-in time), and right there, I wished I had made use of the Bags to Go / Airport SpeedCheck Advance service which was available at my hotel. That would’ve saved me a lot of inconvenience for today, and I would’ve been all ready to go once I arrived at the airport (leaving me only with passing the security checkpoint and going straight to the gate). But, noooooooooooooo, I just had to save $20 on doing it all myself.

But, anyway.

I loved the Blue Man Group show so much, I went ahead and saw it two more times during the next few days. If you’re a big fan of nutsy stuff, I can absolutely recommend it. But, from the comments I’ve heard from others, Blue Man Group isn’t for everybody. You’d have to enjoy subtle physical comedy as well as a certain level of audience participation to fully enjoy a Blue Man Group show. There, I said it.

Also worth noting, each show is a little bit different (in nuances), depending on the audience composition.

I also caught a show with Wayne Brady, who was doing an improv show (with a short concert at the end) right across the hall from Blue Man Group at The Venetian. And, since I selected a VIP seating, I was seated at the very front row, and got to meet Wayne after the show. I tell ya, he’s a great guy. I got me an autographed CD (I bought the CD in the lobby, he signed it afterwards) and got my picture taken with him. Sadly, only with my mobile phone camera (even though it’s quite a good one), since I forgot my digital camera back at my suite.

And on Sunday, I went over to the Rio to catch a show with Penn & Teller. It was truly a great one, even though I hoped they would do their “Liftoff To Love” act, but still. And with a meet-and-greet (autographs and picture-taking) in the lobby after the show, I got me an autographed souvenir program (from Penn and Teller, and even Mike Jones, their musical director) as well as some snaps of me with each them (except for Mike Jones, which I forgot to take a good picture of until it was too late – ah, well).

I’ll get the latest round of photos up on my Flickr account once I’m checked in and chilled out enough in Orlando.

Vegas, baby!

16.07.2009 20:05

A little late for an update, but I finally arrived in Las Vegas 3 days ago. It’s now Thursday morning, and I still have a lot of time left for fun. If someone has any tips for my remaining 4 days here, call or text 202-375-3409. That’s the number of the cell phone I’ve rented for my time in the U.S., so I’ll only be available on that number until July 27. Also, I’m leaving for Orlando on Monday, so if you have anything for Las Vegas, now’s the time. 🙂

Also, I experienced my first full Blue Man Group show last night. It was all I hoped for. Previously, I’ve only seen short clips from the shows, in addition to attending the Megastar rock tour when it was in Copenhagen in October last year. I tell ya, it’s nothing like the rock tour. If you’re near a Blue Man Group show, I can definitely recommend seeing it at least once.

I’m not sure what I’ll do today, but I might try a little blackjack downstairs. We’ll see what else comes along my path.

Celebrity deaths and vacation details

01.07.2009 19:01

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave or otherwise completely inaccessible and unexposed to any type of news update during the last week, you probably know that Michael Jackson died recently.

Now, I know MJ was a great artist and dancer, but I also feel that he indeed was quirky at best as a person. Okay, fine, he probably was a pedohile (or at the very least had an extremely childish mind – way beyond the far end of normal, that is). Plus, his head in the recent couple of decades hasn’t been completely in the game, considering the plastic surgery and modifications (as I seriously doubt anyone has a chronic disease that permanently changes the color of your skin).

But now that he has passed away, I feel it’s time to forgive him for most of his quirkyness and remember him as the great artist, composer, choreographer, dancer and music producer that he was. I’m not saying we should let every detail go, but we should at the very least tone down the bad things about him for a while.

Just let his family, friends and fans mourn his passing in peace, mmmkay?

In the recent times, we shouldn’t forget that other celebrities have passed away as well; I’m of course talking about Farah Fawcett and Ed McMahon. Although Farah Fawcett wasn’t that big in Norway, and Ed McMahon even less known (bordering on unknown), I’ve seen references to the latter in other media (cartoons, movies, TV series and such). I know that these are all big names in the U.S. (and somewhat smaller in the rest of the world as well), and their passing should also be shown the same respect as if your best friend’s brother/sister/father/mother just passed away. In this entertainment-hungry world, big celebrity names might as well be just that close (as long as you don’t act on that closeness in a stalker-ish manner, of course).

On the brighter side of things, I’m lifting off in the direction of the U.S. of A. in a little less than 10 days and 17 hours from now. The first leg of the journey starts from the Ålesund airport at 10:40am (Norway time) Sunday next week, and I’m expected to land in Las Vegas (after an overnight in Orlando) at around 11pm the following Monday.

If you’re curious about the overnight in Orlando, it’s by my own arrangement and design, considering it was cheaper to book a flight (with return flight), first from Ålesund to Orlando, and then from Orlando to Las Vegas, rather than arranging direct flight routes from Ålesund to Las Vegas to Orlando and back to Ålesund. Here’s the full flight route, in case you’re curious:
Sunday, July 12: Ålesund, Norway – Oslo, Norway – Philadelphia, PA – Orlando, FL (total time: about 16 hours)
Monday, July 13: Orlando, FL – Denver, CO – Las Vegas, NV (total time: about 9.5 hours, 3.5 of them waiting in Denver – arriving in Las Vegas at 11pm)
Monday, July 20: Las Vegas, NV – Denver, CO – Orlando, FL (total time: also about 9.5 hours, and almost 4 of them waiting in Denver again – arriving in Orlando at almost 1am)
Monday, July 27: Orlando, FL – Philadelphia, PA – Oslo, Norway – Ålesund, Norway (total time: about 15 hours, arriving home at around 2pm the following Tuesday)

As you can imagine, it’s going to be a major bitch of travelling, but I’m trying to focus more on the fun I’ll have in the days between those long flights.

Some things have already been planned, some things are semi-planned (will do, but undecided on which day), and some things are yet to be decided.

As I’ve said previously, I’m staying at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Blue Man Group fans will already recognize that name from the fact that their Vegas show is at that very same hotel (which was also the main reason I chose that hotel). I’m planning on catching a show with them while in Vegas, and maybe even a show with Penn & Teller (I’m a bit of a fan of them too). No idea which day(s) that will be, though.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and want to hang out with a fat Norwegian guy, do let me know.

And as I’m staying at the Loews Pacific Resort Hotel in Orlando, I’m going to spend a few days at the Universal Studios Orlando park (I do have a few attractions I definitely want to catch while there). The hotel package I selected also includes a Blue Man Group show Wednesday evening (the 9pm show on the 22nd), plus the big fan meet is on Saturday, so those are the only things that are locked in.

And yesterday, I bought myself a ticket for two days at Disney World (I wanted to check out a certain selection of attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot – and yes, considering two days spread over 3 theme parks, I did add the Park Hopper option to my tickets), considering it’s a 25-30 minute drive from my hotel at Universal. I’m not really a rollercoaster guy, so it’s going to be mostly 3D movies, simulator rides and a couple of galleries and tours at both Disney World and Universal Studios. In particular, I’m at least catching the MuppetVision ride at Disney Hollywood Studios, the Simpsons ride at Universal and the studio backlot tours at both. I’ve planned it to a point where I have a specific list of attractions I want to check out (some of them even clearly marked out on a printout of the park maps found online). I’ve yet to decide which two days I’ll spend at Disney World, though, but I will have to find out when I arrive, as I have to let the Mears service know at least 24 hours before going to the Disney parks (I’ve already booked the attraction shuttle ride from my hotel to the attraction and later back to the hotel).

Not to worry, this painful planning process is only a rough outline on how to get the most fun out of every park hour available.

And so far, I don’t know about the quality of the Mears service, but I liked the way I could make my shuttle reservation (and payment) online and way in advance. The price wasn’t too bad, either – from the airport to my hotel (round-trip) cost me $29, plus $18 per attraction transport (two days to Disney World), a total of $65 for all the transportation I’ll need in Orlando. And I can even make adjustments to the whole itinerary until the day before my first arrival (judging by the time listed in my confirmation e-mail, I’d have to say about 12 hours before my first use of their service). All pre-paid and ready when I finally arrive. One less thing to think about. I’ll get back to you on how that went, though.

And before you start suggesting rental cars: I don’t drive. I don’t even have a license. For now, I’m using buses to get around in Ålesund (and the occasional taxi), and I’m doing just fine.

And again, if you want to hang out while I’m in Las Vegas or Orlando, just let me know.

I’m also on Twitter now, giving the occasional update.

I’ve also booked cell phone rental (actually just a SIM card, as I’m using my own phone) while I’m in the U.S., but I won’t know the number until next Wednesday (when the rental company starts shipping the SIM card to the Orlando airport hotel where I’ll have my first overnight stay). I’ll publish that number on Twitter when I know (and maybe here, depending on whether I remember doing it).

USA, here I come

05.04.2009 18:04

I’ve already planned (and paid for) most of my summer vacation this year. This time, the trip goes to….. (drumroll)…… USA!

That’s right, I’m going overseas to spend one week in Las Vegas and one week in Orlando. I’m excited already! On July 12, I leave the comfort of my home for connecting flights to Orlando, just to spend one night at the airport hotel while waiting for another flight that takes me to Las Vegas on the 13th (via Denver), where I’ll be spending my first week (checking in on a Monday and checking out on the next Monday). I then have a return flight back to Orlando, where I’m also attending the Orlando Monster Meet for Blue Man Group fans on the 25th. My return flights back home are on the 27th, so technically, I’ll be spending a total of 15 days in the US.

If you’re in any of these areas, do give me a signal in advance so we can meet up.

Between the 13th and the 20th, I’m staying at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas (where there’s a big show with Blue Man Group as well).
Between the 20th and the 27th, I’m staying at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando (right next to Universal Orlando).

I can hardly wait!