Get the cheapest air fares

Air fares definitely vary with classes. You will have a variety of options for classes when you decide to travel by air. You can choose from economy class, premium economy, business class or first class. The higher the class, the costlier it becomes. Not only this, there is a variation of fares among different airlines. It is not always possible to keep yourself updated with the ongoing prices for different airlines and flights. Hence the online ticket booking sites which have occupied the e-market are of great help.

travel by air

Bookitbusiness.com is one such site you can rely on. It provides you with resources to check out the kind of seats and services to expect during a flight. Here you can shop for the best deal and select the most comfortable seat that the participating airlines which includes Air France, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airlines, Delta Airlines and Korean Airlines can offer. If you have already purchased a business or first class ticket, you can check in the site to know more about things to look forward during the journey.

The site solely deals with customers who are interested in flying a first class or business class. It assures you the best price for your trip. You will get maximum satisfaction for you money and comfort where on other online flight booking companies you will be charged a great deal for business class and first class tickets to London and other European cities. It claims to save 30% to 70% on a customer’s price of a ticket. The site promises you to compensate in an occasion where you happen to find any other site offering lower flight price.

How does the site work?

If you are travelling on an half empty first or business class cabins you might be expecting better service and extremely nice flight attendants but this also certainly is an indication that you have overpaid.

The luxury seats available are most likely to have been sold for fractions of what your ticket was charged. BookItBusiness has access to these tickets, through tickets consolidators and resellers who receives heavy discounts for purchasing a large number of tickets. Also, the travel business professionals with the site have extensive knowledge of the industry, layovers schedules and routes, airlines perks and time enough for reserving your future flights. To add to it, bookItbusiness has years of experience, knowledge and skills which will help you get to your destination with the lowest price possible and luxurious comfort.

However, providing cheap first class tickets is not the sole motive, it also helps you find the best deal, book flight in advance and provide flexibility in terms of dates and routs. Although last minute deals might result in a success, it is wise to book your tickets at least 8-10 days prior to the actual departure date for making it to the top discounts. When their travel consultants are able to fill a first or business class flight that might otherwise go unsold, the maximum discount for your tickets can be negotiated.
Hence, if you are looking for the most cost efficient option, bookItbusiness is your destination.

My ABC’s of Travel

Dani from Danib is going nomad  nominated me to list my ABC’s of travel. Not being one to back down from a listing challenge, i got to work. After some time contemplating the questions i managed to get a pretty nice list together, as you’ll see below. What’s on your list?

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

I was probably only a few months old the first time i was outside Sweden. Denmark is very close and i went there regularly with the family.

My first trip longer trip was when i was 8 or 9 to Iceland. Remember that i thought it was so amazing that they spoke a whole different language.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Red Horse

I’m really fond of Red Horse, from the Philippines. It’s not the best beer ever, but it’s closely knit with the good memories i have from that country, so I’ll have to go with that one. Plus, the bottle is awesome!

C: Cuisine (favorite):

It’s hard to beat Italian cuisine. Pasta, pizza, risotto and all the cheese and wine. Damn, I made myself hungry.

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Favorite: That’s hard. I think i have to say the Philippines as the experiences I’ve had there are unparalleled.

Least favorite: Oslo, Norway. Expensive, and stuck up Norwegians. The country side is amazing though.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

I remember that seeing the Geysir amazed me like nothing had done before. I was stunned by how cool it was, and wouldn’t move for a long long time.

F: Favorite mode of transportation:

NYC Subway

Trains or subway. There’s something amazingly peaceful about rolling through a country by train. It feels like the country comes closer then when you’re traveling by car, and it somehow feels more genuine. Subways are amazing because you never know what the city will look like when you get off.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

It’s usually the small things that gives me the greatest joy. The view from the hotel room, the scents in the mornings, the pulse of the local market, the smiles of the children or the feel of sand under your feet.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

Philippines. Manila can be unbearable at mid day.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

Everything in Tokyo, Japan. It was just so amazing to see the level of service they provide.

J: Journey that took the longest:

Going to Manila in February of 2011. Had to start 3 hours early becuase there was a snow storm, and i really wanted to make sure i got to the airport. Took close to 24 hours, and i’m too tall to be able to sleep on the flights…

K: Keepsake from your travels:

Nothing, i guess. Memories and Photos, does that count?

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

The leaning tower in Pisa isn’t really that much to see. I did really enjoy the rest of the city though.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

At age 12 when i managed to buy gelato for the whole family on my own when we were in a small coastal town in Italy. I remember how exhilarated I was about the fact that i managed on my own, and felt there was no stopping me.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Blu Royal

Probably a tie between Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin and Hyatt in Manila. Blu Royal was opened the week before i stayed there and was absolutely wonderful. Hyatt was great indeed. Maybe i should clarify that i did not pay for wither of those hotels, as this was back in my poker days.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

People and views. Most of my photos are of these two subjects.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

As a Swede you don’t get many stamps traveling around Europe. But in my current passport i have stamps from the US, Philippines and Canada.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

My dad used to bring us to a lot of weird places . A mental hospital in Florence, Italy might have been the weirdest of those. Not sure that counts as an attraction, though.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Talking to people. Getting to know more about the local life and customs is something i highly recommend.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Food and drinks. I can sleep rather bad, as long as i get to have good food.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

Times Square - quite touristy

Probably most of the things i did on my first trip to New York City. Empire state building, Brooklyn bridge, Times Square, etc…

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Meeting the native Agta tribe in wilderness of the Philippine rain forest will be hard to match.

V: Visas, how many and for where?

None.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

The wine the neighbours offered us when we were staying outside Lucca in Italy was amazing. Watching the fireflies and drinking locally produced wine was something special.

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

 

The view from the balcony of the hotel room on the 34th floor during my last stay in Manila was simply amazing. Sitting there with a beer and listen to the noise of the city below was a great way to end the day.

Y: Years spent traveling?:

All in all, I get i am getting close to half a year. Which is really way too little.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

I would probably have to say myself here. If you travel all over a country to follow a team that just keeps on losing, there’s no denying that you’re quite zealous.

The Vasa Museum

The Vasa Ship

Almost 400 years ago, on the tenth of August 1628,  the Vasa ship sunk on it’s maiden voyage only a few nautical miles from central Stockholm. The ship fell into obscurity, and didn’t get relocated until 1956, after it had been resting on the bottom for over 300 years. The ship was prepared to be lifted out off the mud for years, and finally broke the surface in April 1961. It was towed to a temporary dry dock for restoration. Even if the ship was exceptionally well preserved by the brackish water it had rested in for centuries, there was a lot of work to be done to preserve it. Since it is a wooden ship, Vasa had to be sprayed with polyethylene glycol not to dry out and deteriorate.

In 1981, the Swedish government decided to build a museum to house the giant ship, and it was finally opened in 1990. The museum is one of Sweden’s most visited tourist spots and has over one million visits yearly. Continue reading

Swedish Lucia

Lucia is celebrated December 13 each year, and is the only day of the year that bears the name of a Christian saint in the swedish calendar. Though the custom has roots in hedonistic rituals as well as Christian, and can’t be traced back to a single source. According to old customs, December 13 was a day when supernatural things happened frequently, and farm animals would start talking and attacking humans. To prevent this, animals were fed extra well on this day. This date was also considered to be winter solstice, which could explain why the celebration involves so much candle light, as Sweden is a dark place this time of the year.

A connection to St. Lucia of Syracuse, Sicily is hard to find, and it’s likely that the name was added to an existing tradition.

Modern Day Lucia

The way Lucia is celebrated these days is with a procession. The procession is lead by the Lucia herself, wearing a white robe and a crown of candle lights in her hair. The traditional image of the Lucia is a young woman with long hair. The procession also contains women, called “tärnor”, wearing a the same white robe, but without the candles in the hair. Instead they’re carrying a single candle light in their hand and have glitter or a wreath in their hair. The last part of the procession is usually the males, wearing the same white robe and a cone shaped hat with golden stars. Participants of a Lucia procession are usually youths or young adults.  The participants sing the Lucia song while walking, which’s lyrics describes the way Lucia overcomes the darkness and spreads light. After the initial song, other songs about Lucia and Christmas carols are sung before the procession moves on.

The Lucia procession is traditionally held in the morning, before the sun comes up (which means before 8, at this time of the year in Stockholm), and there’s oftenGlögg (mulled wine), Pepparkakor (gingerbread) and Lussekatter(buns flavored with saffron) served in connection with the procession.

Every school in Sweden has their own Lucia procession, and to be elected Lucia of your school is a prestigious title. The most common places to find processions is in the schools, kindergartens, malls and churches. Some offices have their own processions.

My Lucia day

I wasn’t really expecting to see a Lucia procession, as i knew my office would not arrange one this year. So i was pleasantly surprised that i managed to catch a procession at the railway station on my morning commute. Too bad i was in such a hurry that i couldn’t stay and watch it very long.

Lucia

In the afternoon there was a traditional “lussefika” at work, which contained both Glögg (the non alcoholic version) and Lussekatter.

Lussekatt and Glögg

All in all a better Lucia day than expected.

La Loma cemetery, Manila

When i travel I like to go to places that are not necessarily tourist places, but rather places that locals visit from time to time as a part of their daily life. It gives the opportunity to compare with places i know back home. I therefor said yes when a friend asked me if I would join her in her visit to the cemetery.

The La Loma catholic cemetery is one of the bigger cemeteries in the Metro Manila area. It’s situated in the northern part of the city and is 130 acres big. Situated right next to two other big cemetery sites (Manila North cemetery and Chinese cemetery), making the combined area the biggest burial site of Manila.

I jumped into a cab from my hotel and after 45 minutes of dreadful Manila traffic I stood outside the entrance of the cemetery. I was kept waiting for a couple of minutes before my friend showed up and we went inside the huge cemetery. We bought some flowers and candles to place on the grave from a vendor at the entrance and started walking along the paved road. The calmness of the cemetery is a strange contrast to the constant stress and never ending stream of traffic on the streets of Manila.

After a short walk we got to the grave of my friends daughter. I was not aware that she had lost a child earlier and felt really stupid when I realized that we were putting flowers on the grave of her daughter that only lived to be a year old. As I started looking at the surrounding graves, I realized all of the surrounding graves were also graves for infants or toddlers – we were in a child cemetery, and there were literally thousands of graves. I felt that i had to ask what was the most common cause of death for young children. “Dehydration and Dengue. Poverty…” was her short answer. I didn’t feel like this was a good time to ask more questions so I kept them all to myself and help her set up the flowers and the candles by her daughters grave. I thought to myself how sad it is that so many kids die as a cause of poverty.

La Loma Graves

row after row of graves

She said a prayer for her daughter and told me that she is happy that she at least have a grave to go to. If you can’t afford to pay the rent for a grave your dead relatives will be put in a nameless grave on a field, and you will not have a place to go to for your prayers or remembrance of the dead.

The La Loma is really a serene and quiet place, and considering how run down many places in Manila can be, it’s in good shape, considering it was first established in 1884.

The size and the condition of the graves at La Loma vary quite a lot. There are huge, almost mausoleum like, graves that have private keepers, and then there are run down simple graves that are falling apart.

Expensive grave site

Nice statue

Graves, cats and right outside the cemetery, the slums

Some graves are in bad shape

Sad to see the decay

As we were about to leave we passed by a man that was looking for something in the ditch. My friend asked him what he was looking for, and it turned out he was fishing for frogs. He went on to tell us he was living in the cemetery with his family and had been doing so for a few years, since he lost his job. You might be in the cemetery, but it’s not only inhabited by the dead…

More Swedish Christmas traditions – my Hello Kitty Advent calendar

Almost every kid in Sweden has opened the first door of at least one Advent Calendar today. This tradition has an old history, and it’s basically a countdown (well, count-up, actually…) to Christmas eve. At least that’s what it means to kids these days, but traditionally i guess it was a little more religion to it. The calendars have one door for each day that is opened, and behind each door is a drawing or are small treat. There is also a tradition that there is a calendar in the form of a television show, with a corresponding physical calendar to open at home.

The most popular calendars in recent years are the ones that contain small pieces of chocolate. Being a little kid myself, i decided to get one – and bought a Hello Kitty one.

My Hello Kitty Advent calendar

Opening door number 1

Small chocolate with embossed Kitty

Today i got to open door number one. The tiny piece of chocolate was bland, tasted oily and had an embossed kitty on top of it, but i still smiled when i ate it. Christmas is close!

Swedish Christmas treats – Julmust and Pepparkakor

With last Sunday being the Advent Sunday I realised there’s not a lot of days till Christmas, and I got in the mood for some of the traditional Swedish Christmas treats. I’m really not a traditional guy, but when it comes to Christmas me, and most other Swedes are very traditional. There are a lot of things that is only around at the holiday season and two of them areJulmust and Pepparkakor

Pepparkakor and Julmust

Julmust

Translating Julmust to english is not an easy task, but a literal translation would be “Christmas juice“. Being invented as an alternative to alcoholic beverages in the 1920′s, this soft drink now completely rules Christmas. The recipe is a secret, and only two people know it. Julmust is so popular that it knocks out the sales of a lot of the other soft drinks in the month of December. One example of this is Coca-Cola sales drastically dropping by 50% in the holiday month compared to other months. Coca-Cola has even tried to buy the recipe without succeeding. When that didn’t succeed, they tried to develop their own Julmust, but that failed too.

Taste wise, Julmust is not like any other soda i have ever tried. It contains both hops and malt, just like beer, but the taste is still far from it. It tastes a little like cola, but sweeter, and fizzier. I would say there’s a hint of ginger, cinnamon and dark cherry. I can’t describe it, but to me it just tastes like Christmas. When poured into a glass, the drink has a dark color and the head rises quickly as it’s heavily carbonated.

Julmust

Outside of Sweden, the best place to find Julmust would probably be IKEA. If you get to try it, please let me know what you think.

Pepparkakor

Pepparkakor (literally, pepper cakes) is a thin and brittle gingerbread cookie, that is closely associated with Christmas. It’s a very traditional treat, and has been around in Sweden since the 14th century. Originally it contained peppers (hence the name) but nowadays gets its special taste from cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. The cookies come in many shapes, with hearts being the most usual. If you make your own, or buy them at a bakery, there should be royal icing on them aswell. There’s a lot of myths about Pepparkakor, the main one being that they make you a nicer person. There’s also a kids game in which you try to break the cookie in three parts and if you’re successful you will be granted a wish.

Pepparkakor

Breaking it in three pieces

In recent years, the biscuit has been made popular as a cheese cracker, and goes surprisingly well with Blue Cheese. Others love to dip it in coffee or just eat them as they are.

Personally i like them best with a glass of Julmust. Outside of Sweden, your best bet to find Pepparkakor is, once again, IKEA.

Trying The Fish Spa of Star City in Manila

If you’re looking for something a bit different to do in Manila, Star City is one of the places you can go. The amusement park Star city is located in Pasay, close to the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the huge Mall of Asia. The theme park itself is a decent park, but it was quite crowded when we went, and I was told that’s the case quite often.

People lining up to get into Star City

I’m not very keen on rides myself, and It’s safe to say that my friends enjoyed the rides a whole lot more than i did. There’s an outdoor part with roller coasters, a ferris wheel and a few other rides. The indoor part has a “winter land” with sub zero temperature, which to most Filipinos is the most exotic thing ever (to me it just felt like home), bumper cars and some smaller rides.

The indoor part also has a small fish spa with, which intrigued me. I had read about it before but never really thought about trying it. After finding out the price was ~75 pesos (a little less than $2) per person, I thought “why not”. I have since researched the price for the similar fish spa in Sweden, and they charge up to $100 for the same treatment, so it feels like a good deal indeed.

The “spa” itself consists of 4 small pools with the special kind of fish that apparently feeds on dead skin cells. The size of the fish range a little between the different pools, so you might want to start with the one with the smallest fish in. The pools have padded seating around them and you simply sit down, roll up your pants, get your feet wet and let the fish do their job.

The fish will slowly approach and the initial feeling when they start nibbling away on your feet is a bit ticklish. It does however pass quickly, and once you’re used to the rather weird fact that you have fish nibbling on your feet you will feel your feet getting cleaner by the minute. I would compare the feeling as a cross between being tingly and a gentle massage.

Fish nibbling on my feet

Star City Fish Spa

I got a bit frisky and decided to let the biggest fish have a go at my feet, and the feeling was the same only more intense. After about 20 minutes we decided we were done, and the feet did feel extremely soft and smooth. It was indeed a good massage.

The biggest fish at the spa

So, a good massage at a great price. Can’t beat that!

Have you tried a fish spa? How would you describe your experience?

Stockholm In The Fall

Winter is arriving late in Sweden this year, and there has actually not been any snow yet this season, which is very unusual. So as long as there’s no snow, I still consider it to be fall (even if there’s only about 7 hours of sunlight each day now). Friends who live in parts of the world who don’t see much seasonal change have asked me to show some pictures of what the fall looks like in Stockholm. So with that in mind, I started taking photos to document the change in nature during the autumn months. These photos were all taken from the last weeks of September through the middle of November. I hope you enjoy.

fall leaves

Leaves getting yellow

Changing colors

Against a blue sky

Intense red leaves

Yellow and green on the same tree

Misty morning

Bright yellow leaves

Leaves about to fall off the tree

...And the tree without leaves

What does fall look like where you’re right now? What are your feelings about the Autumn in general? Share your comments and thoughts below!

Eating Balut

Balut is an egg, containing a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and then eaten. It’s considered a delicacy in the Philippines, and is one of those foods that many westerners do not want to try, just because the gruesome look of it. Once you open the egg, the chick is often visible and sometimes there’s feathers in the egg as well

.balut

Having been to the Philippines two times before and narrowly escaped trying it then, I guess it was just a matter of time this time around. I knew my friends would find a time to force me to try balut if i kept coming back to the Philippines, and this time around they did manage to to catch me off guard.

I am glad i had the chance to have a few beers before being served the warm duck egg though. As you can see from the video, I’m really not enjoying myself, but the taste is actually not bad. It’s mainly the look and the texture that is making me close to throwing up. But i managed to get it down, and I can tick it off my list!