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Friday, December 1, 2023

Thanksgiving Week Visit to Longyearbyen, Svalbard

We made it!  Part 1 of our Thanksgiving trip was a trip to Longyearbyen, the northernmost settlement in the world.  After a day in Oslo due to flight timing, we were on our way with a brief land in Tromso.  The Tromso airport deplanes on the tarmac so we got a few good pictures of the setting sun.


After takeoff, it wasn’t long before we caught the polar night.  Landing in LYR was smooth with no issue on arrival – it was definitely dark!

The hotel shuttle bus was waiting when we arrived, and the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel is only a short drive into the main settlement. From there you can walk to just about all restaurants and other locations.

For this trip our places of choice:

Afternoon drinks at CafĂ© Huskies: https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/caf%C3%A9-huskies/252587/

Nuga for dinner on the first evening (reservation needed): https://www.nugasushi.com/

Drinks at Karlsburger Pub where there is an extensive whiskey/bourbon selection – we tried the Hankey Bannister varietals and the 1792 Small Barrel: https://www.karlsbergerpub.no/homepage/

Dinner at Kroa Restaurant (reservation needed): https://www.kroa-svalbard.no/?lang=en#


One of our primary hopes was to see the Northern Lights – unfortunately, the polar night included cloud cover and snow which prevented any views.  We’ll hope to be back again for another try and to get some exploring via snowmobile. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Trip Start...

 ...is a bit delayed.

Originally I thought it would be good to book an early afternoon United flight to give us time to relax in the Newark UA Lounge.  However, I was not expecting a cracked windshield on our plane to cause a delay! 

Different plane enroute.  This will reduce our time at Newark though we should make the connect.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Hilton Surpass Card Changes

I was disappointed to see that Hilton and American Express are making changes to several products including the Surpass card - I've been using this card over the last few years for multiple stays when needed and the benefits overall have been excellent.  However, the upcoming changes are not favorable in my opinion.

Business Insider has the update here.

Annual fee increase to $150 (from $95)
Priority Pass Lounge access no longer available
4x bonus points on Online Retail Purchases in the US
$50 Quarterly statement credits on Hilton purchases
Complimentary National Car Rental Emerald Club Exec status

While adding some bonus categories seems positive, it assumes multiple stays at Hilton properties.  Since my stay pattern has drastically decreased, this won't be much of an offset.  

Overall I don't see these changes to warrant the increase in annual fee, and I'll likely be canceling this card in the next year.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November 2023 travel

November is here!  I'm looking forward to another fun month of having trips scheduled.  

Thankfully I have an additional day off which means I will be flying back to WI for a weekend to be at home.  Hunting may be on the schedule!

And our annual Thanksgiving trip is also planned and ready - the itinerary map looks something like this courtesy of gcmap:

More info to come!

Monday, October 30, 2023

Updated Star Alliance Airline list

It's been a while since I challenged myself to see whether I could fly on most, if not all, Star Alliance airlines.  I've made some progress though I still have a ways to go!

Here's my updated list:

Adria ceased operations some years ago and SAS just announced they would likely be leaving Star Alliance for OneWorld.  I'm hoping to have more opportunities to fly on these partners soon.